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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

White House Welcomes Radio Talk Show Hosts; Do Democrats Have Post-Election Plan?; California Congressional Candidate Under Investigation For Voter Intimidation

Aired October 24, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
Just two weeks to go until Election Day -- seems like it's getting uglier every minute -- so, tonight, dirty tricks and outrages, including Rush Limbaugh mocking a disabled man. But, in the end, all of it may be small change next to Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Changing the tune, getting real.

GENERAL PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: This is a time of difficulty. There's no doubt about it.

ANNOUNCER: From the Pentagon to the White House to Baghdad, a new dose of reality, because Americans are dying, and American voters care.

Campaign trickery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to Harvard University. I'm an elected official.

ANNOUNCER: He got a letter in the mail telling him it's a crime to vote. Sound outrageous? Wait until you see who the letters are targeting.

He's got Parkinson's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: Senate Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Michael J. Fox, now Rush Limbaugh says he's milking it for votes, even faking it for votes.

And soldiers in Warren Jeffs' polygamist army march into a courtroom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Sitting in tonight for Anderson, and reporting from the CNN studios in New York, here's John King.

KING: The lights went out at a major briefing in Baghdad, as if the news alone weren't sobering enough.

Baghdad, by the way, now averages about two-and-a-half hours of electricity a day, along with dozens of sectarian killings, a growing number of American dead, and, tonight, a U.S. soldier still missing.

Americans are paying attention, to say the least. And, with just two weeks to go until Election Day, so is the White House. From the president on down, they are being more realistic with Americans, and promising -- promising -- to be tougher on the Iraqi government, even setting goals and a timetable.

In a moment, the politics of Iraq -- first, though, CNN's John Roberts in Iraq with the reality, including the possibility of sending more American troops to Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If things had been going according to plan, this American Stryker battalion would have been home long ago, instead of in its 15th month of deployment in Iraq, working the neighborhoods of Baghdad, trying to establish, let alone keep, the peace.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL AL KELLY, U.S. ARMY: We're doing searching operations a couple of days ago. We found guys on top of rooftops, transferring weapons. As we went into houses, they transferred one house to the other.

ROBERTS: The job is overwhelming, and may, as General George Casey indicated today, require even more boots on the ground.

GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IN IRAQ: Do we need more troops to do that? Maybe. And, as I have said all along, if we do, I will ask for the troops. I need both coalition and Iraqis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our route today, we are currently...

ROBERTS: At the same time, the United States is setting out a timetable of 12 to 18 months for Iraq's fledgling democracy to achieve benchmarks. It may help end the sectarian violence that threatens to tear Iraq apart.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Success in Iraq is possible and can be achieved on a realistic timetable. Iraqi leaders must step up to achieve key political and security milestones on which they have agreed.

ROBERTS: With the American elections just two weeks away, President Bush is bending to massive pressure from his own party to fix Iraq.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned: "We're on the verge of chaos. The current plan is not working."

Will a timetable help push the Iraqi government to make progress? The country's national security adviser thinks it will.

QUESTION: So, what will the timetable do?

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well to push people to work towards a deadline and these deadlines are good in work. I mean, even in a private company, you need to put that target and then that line to reach.

ROBERTS: Iraq has met several critical deadlines, all part of the political process. But, at the same time, the violence continues to increase. More than 90 American troops have been killed in October, by far the deadliest month this year.

Car bombings and death squads have taken well over 700 Iraqi lives. Yet, the Iraqi government still appears incapable of disarming the dozens of militias that are fueling much of the violence.

KHALILZAD: Unauthorized security forces need to be brought down, whether it is the insurgents, whether it is the militias.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And John Roberts joins us now live from Baghdad.

John, as you know, the security planning has failed to meet expectations time and time again over the past two-plus, three years now. What happens if Iraq fails to meet these benchmarks?

ROBERTS: Well, there was absolutely no mention of that at this press conference and this announcement today, John. And, as you said, they have literally failed to meet every critical deadline set for security.

And it's going to come to crunch time, perhaps, 12 months from now, because reports out of Washington today that Britain telling the Pentagon that it would like to have its troops out of Iraq within 12 months. What might that mean for U.S. forces? Probably no significant increase in the number of troops here before the November 7 election.

But don't forget, and, as you know, John, after the November 7 election, attention turns toward the 2008 presidential race. And the Republican front-runner, John McCain, has made no secret that he would like to see tens of thousands more troops on the ground here in Iraq to provide security -- so, could be some big changes ahead -- John.

KING: Iraq an issue in this campaign, and likely the next one as well.

John Roberts, for us tonight live in Baghdad -- John, thank you very much.

And, as John mentions, Iraq is both the fuel and the oxygen for an election season wildfire. It's issue one for Americans, driving swing voters to the Democrats, and, to some degree, along with the House scandals, pushing conservatives to think about staying home.

For the first group, the president is reshaping his Iraq message. And, for the second, well, he tried today to rally the base by energizing talk radio.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a transparent attempt by the White House to rally its Republican base, two weeks before the midterm elections.

MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We know somebody important is coming in, when the Secret Service, they're at the doorway, and the media is running through. So, we will be...

MALVEAUX: A tent was pitched for more than three dozen radio hosts, overwhelmingly conservative, invited to gab with the administration's top guns.

NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Republicans in the Senate were perfectly willing to institute an amnesty program.

MALVEAUX: Several talk show hosts described a sense of desperation from a White House eager to sell its agenda.

TOM KEENE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There's an urgency here. There's -- there is an -- there's an urgency in the city. And you can just feel it in that tent over by the North Portico. They're focused.

MARK DAVIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: These are guys who know that the -- the political waters are tough. They know the war is not particularly popular. They know the president is not particularly popular. But they are on a mission. They have to stay on message. They know what they have got to do.

MALVEAUX: What they're doing is driving home one message: Don't vote for the Democrats.

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: They will weaken the tools on terror, whether it be the Patriot Act, whether it be the terrorist surveillance program, or other key issues or key tools we use in the war on terror. And they are going to raise your taxes.

MALVEAUX: Democrats are crying foul for using the White House grounds to hold what they consider to be a campaign event.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: They are using the top public officials of this government to purely play politics, instead of focusing on the challenges the country faces. MALVEAUX: The toughest questions from the hosts and listeners alike were on Iraq. The president's national security adviser tussled with NPR's Robert Siegel.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There has been enormous progress. There's real -- there's real politics. There are leaders who actually have a call on various groups in Iraq. But it has taken a long time.

ROBERT SIEGEL, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: But, in addition to the real politics, there's also real violence taking place, real sectarian violence.

HADLEY: And those are related.

MALVEAUX: One self-described conservative scoffed at the administration's recent acknowledgements of troubles in Iraq.

DAVIS: The mood in that room of talk show hosts was, hey, great idea. Maybe we could have done this a year ago, and saved ourselves a lot of grief.

MALVEAUX: Millions of Republicans tune in to talk radio -- their hosts playing a critical role in selling the White House's agenda.

And Martha Zoller from Georgia is complying.

ZOLLER: You know, what I say is, use me.

MALVEAUX: But some have been frustrated with the Bush administration over issues like Iraq, immigration and big spending.

BOORTZ: As soon as they tasted the nectar of power in Washington, D.C., all of that just went out the window. And -- and, quite frankly, as dangerous as it may be, I'm just kind of fed up with it at this point. I mean, but who cares what I -- I think.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: Certainly the White House, which is desperately trying to bring conservatives back into the fold and to the polls.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And among those inside the White House gates today is radio talk show host and host of his own program on CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck.

You have escaped, obviously. They didn't keep you hostage.

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK: I -- yes. Yes.

KING: It's... BECK: Well, I got a chip in the...

KING: A little chip in the head?

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: Yes.

KING: We will deprogram you after the program.

(LAUGHTER)

BECK: Yes, I know.

KING: Obviously, it's a charm offensive by the White House. They want to bring in an audience that's generally friendly...

BECK: Yes.

KING: ... but, of late, has been somewhat critical and testy with the White House?

BECK: I mean, I think the -- you know, I think the -- the left wing thinks that talk radio are -- are zombies.

Talk radio listeners -- some hosts, maybe -- talk radio listeners are not. They are -- they can be very, very brutal. And I think the White House has really dropped the ball with a lot of conservatives. The -- the one thing that I heard, because I asked my audience, you tell me. You know, they want to send a message to you. You tell me what message you want back to them.

And overwhelming was: Fix the border.

There is some real outrage on the border.

KING: And does outrage at the -- about the border translate into voting for the other side or staying home?

(LAUGHTER)

BECK: No.

(LAUGHTER)

BECK: I -- you know what? I -- I think that that was kind of the feeling, because -- because I think conservatives are so frustrated. They feel like they have been let down.

But, when you come right down to it, when it comes to the day, I think people that are conservative are going to say: Wait a minute. I believe in tax cuts. They have already -- they have already shown that they work to cut the deficit.

And, beyond that, I -- I -- I -- you know, we have got too -- there is too much at stake. The world is too dangerous of a place. There's not enough people right now -- and this is one of the things I talked to Dan Bartlett about today, was, there is not enough people that really understand what Bush is trying to do in the Middle East, especially when it comes to Iraq.

And it is because he's a poor communicator. You know, if you had the communication skills of Clinton or of Reagan, I think the -- I think the war would look differently.

And, you know, what -- what I was talking to Dan about was, I read the words of President Bush, because I -- I find it very hard to watch him.

KING: Right.

BECK: And, when you read the words of President Bush, there's a lot in there that you can really see the master plan on, not to say that he hasn't botched it.

KING: Talk radio is a feisty conversation.

BECK: Yes.

KING: That's what makes it interesting and what -- what makes people rally to it. And talk radio listeners -- I assume yours among them -- get a little uptight when people give the same talking points, the same speeches.

Did you hear anything new today, any contrition, any more realistic talk? They are trying to sell, obviously, this new plan on Iraq. They say it's benchmarks and timetables, not a deadline. Democrats say: We said benchmarks nine months ago. You said cut and run. What's going on here?

BECK: Yes. I -- you know, I don't know.

I haven't heard anything really new. But I hear something different than I think what the regular media hears. I -- I don't -- I don't think Bush has ever -- when he said, you know, we are going to stay the course, I don't think he ever meant: Let's just -- I'm -- I'm just going to keep firing from the same building at the same people.

KING: Right.

BECK: You know, he was going to move.

With that being said, I think that what he -- what we need to hear are different strategies, which we haven't heard yet. Beyond that, I think the -- I -- you know, I personally think the border business is a lot of show. You know, they were -- they were thinking about putting in -- you know, having the border fence signing done not for the public. And I think they didn't want record of anybody seeing that being signed.

Now the Republicans have said: We need it. And, so, Thursday, they are going to be signing it in front of the cameras, which I think is an interesting -- I think it's an interesting development.

KING: It's an interesting -- you mentioned talking to Dan Bartlett. Anyone else come through your area? Any surprises...

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: Yes.

Chertoff was interesting, at least to me. He said -- because I -- I believe -- we talk about it on my TV show and radio show an awful lot, about what I call the perfect storm. I -- I believe there is -- there is an incredible storm that is forming off of our coasts. You are already seeing it in Europe.

Our enemy is very -- the tentacles are all around the world. And, if we lose, we're -- we -- we could lose our -- our very existence of the -- of the West.

Chertoff, I asked him. I said: You know, I -- I -- I read your words. I see what you say. I see what the president says. You have been warning people and saying, have at least three days of food and water for what could be coming. How frustrating is that?

KING: Mmm-hmm.

BECK: And he said: Oh, it's -- it is extremely frustrating. People must understand, with what's coming, even if it is just a hurricane -- which that is not what we're preparing for -- you need to have at least three days, because the United States government can't get to you that fast in what could happen.

KING: And I understand you got to see Barney while you were there.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: I did.

(CROSSTALK)

BECK: I actually went in the back. I -- the backyard...

KING: The backyard.

BECK: ... and played with Barney for a while. It was wild.

KING: The South Lawn, it's a wonderful place.

BECK: Yes.

KING: Glenn Beck, thanks for sharing your thoughts tonight.

BECK: Good seeing you. Thank you. (CROSSTALK)

KING: Your day at the White House. Joining us on 360.

Now, you can catch Glenn Beck nightly on CNN Headline Prime, 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Worth tuning in.

And coming up tonight: It's already being called a do-nothing Congress -- not much legislation, a lot of days off. So, what happens if voters give Republican lawmakers even more days off -- like all of them? What happens if Democrats win control of both or one chamber? Do they have a plan?That's next.

Later: Michael J. Fox, he's had Parkinson's disease for years, and it is really starting to show. Now Rush Limbaugh is accusing him of exaggerating his symptoms in a campaign ad. No surprise some people are furious. We will let you decide who is really sick.

Then: the disciples of polygamist Warren Jeffs facing justice.

Stay with us. You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Exactly two weeks to Election Day, with control of Congress at stake, there are issues for Republicans to be worried about.

Dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, of course, tops the list. And politics is very much a business of numbers. And numbers like these only add to GOP jitters.

In a new CNN poll by Opinion Research Corporation, 63 percent of respondents said they believe Democrats could provide strong leadership. Just 49 percent said the same of Republicans. And, while 35 percent say they doubted Democrats' leadership ability, fully half have doubts about the Republicans' leadership skills.

Of course, nothing is certain until all the votes are counted on election night. But just suppose for a moment, what if the Democrats do win control of Congress? What happens then?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

KING (voice-over): Think twice. That's the closing message of a Bush White House that warns, electing Democrats would be risky and costly.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The voters out there need to ask the question which political party will support the brave men and women who wear our uniform, when they do their job of protecting America.

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Democrats take control, American families could face an immense tax increase, and the economy would sustain a major hit.

KING: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, of course, says team Bush has it all wrong. He promises Democrats would be more careful with taxpayers' money, among other things.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We will raise the minimum wage, a down payment to America's working families. Second, we want real ethics legislation that is going to clean up the Republican culture of corruption.

KING: Democrats also talk of raising taxes on wealthy Americans, closing corporate tax loopholes, using the tax code and other incentives to expand health care access, and pushing to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

One critical fact often gets lost in all the rhetoric. Mr. Bush will be president for two more years.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: If the Democrats win the Congress, they will have a seat at the table. They will have a voice in policy. But the president still has the veto pen.

KING: If the Democrats manage to take both the House and the Senate, Mr. Bush would face the same choice Bill Clinton faced when Republicans seized congressional power 12 years ago.

WALDMAN: It forces a real re-appraisal. And it's hard to know whether this president, in two years, will have the stomach for that kind of re-appraisal.

KING: Winning just one chamber would give Democrats less leverage over the White House, but it would still give them a major policy platform, as well as a chance to follow through on calls for much more aggressive oversight of the Bush White House.

Lawmakers who have talked of impeaching the president or investigating no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton would have subpoena power in a Democratic House. But Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi already has warned of the line between watchdog and witch-hunt.

WALDMAN: Revenge is a bad idea. It's a bad idea, and the public doesn't like it. Oversight is not only a good idea. It's what the public is demanding.

KING: Without a doubt, a Democratic House would demand Mr. Bush bring the troops home from Iraq, but, they concede, the president doesn't have to listen.

DEAN: We are not going to be able to change the policy overnight. That's going to require a new president.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: But a new president, of course, is a long way off. And joining us now, David Gergen, adviser to Republican and Democratic presidents, going back to the Nixon administration.

David, let's pick up where Howard Dean left off in that piece. One of the issues is, how would the Iraq debate change if the Democrats get one or both chambers of Congress? How do you see that playing?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, it's an interesting thing, John, because the -- you know, there are two real alternatives if -- if -- when -- once you move beyond stay the course.

One is to escalate. And the other is to begin to withdraw. If the Republicans hold the House and Senate, at least one major White House official has said they would try -- they would think very seriously about escalating, sending in more troops, as John McCain has argued they should, and as General Casey may be proposing soon in Baghdad.

If the Democrats take it, there may be more willingness on the part of the Bush administration to withdraw. But I think that they will be very badly torn on this.

If I may say so, I think there's a possibility here that the -- the White House could, in a proverbial sense, make lemonade out of a lemon if the Democrats win. And that is, the -- the president could go back to the country and say: Look, I believe in the voice of the people. I have heard you. I have heard that you want a change of course in Iraq. I am going to do that. Now I am going to ask the Democrats to come join me and form a national unity policy on Iraq, so we're all together on this, and dare the Democrats not to do it.

I think the Democrats would have to sit down at the table. They can't afford to leave our troops exposed and naked in Iraq, in the way they are now.

KING: And you see this president possibly opening the door to that. That is the big question. Many saw Bill Clinton -- you saw Bill Clinton up close and personal...

GERGEN: Right.

KING: ... after the '94 elections. He managed -- sulked for a little bit, but then he managed to work with the Republicans, and to use them when he thought it was in his interest, as a political foil, if you will.

How do you think this president would handle divided government?

GERGEN: Well, you know, I think it's going to be very hard for him. He would have to eat a lot of crow to go get the Democrats on board, and also to change course in the way it would be done. But I don't -- I don't think he has got any choice right now. Iraq is unraveling as rapidly as -- so rapidly that I think he has no choice.

But I do think he has got one last chance to go to the country and say: Look, we have not gotten this right yet, but we can't afford to leave -- lose -- leave Iraq quickly. We need to do these three more things. I need you to stick with me for 12 months. I need -- and the Democrats are here to support this. We have got a united approach here in Washington. We have got Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton and his -- their group together with us. We have had the leadership in steadily now. We have -- we have -- we have -- we have built a new policy.

That's what Harry Truman did after losing the Congress in 1946. Facing a Cold War, he got Republicans on board for the Marshall Plan, extraordinarily important American foreign policy development.

So, I think there's the opportunity for the president. Whether he would be willing to do it or not, whether he would be willing also -- the Democrats' price for that will be to cashier Don Rumsfeld, for starters...

KING: Well, let...

GERGEN: ... and maybe to cashier some others. And -- so, he would have to bring in somebody who is also acceptable, or a team that looked like it could really work with Democrats.

KING: Well, let's talk for a minute about the test for Democrats.

GERGEN: Sure.

KING: As you well know, John Conyers, in the past, has said, impeach the president. He could be the chairman...

GERGEN: Right.

KING: ... of the Judiciary Committee.

Henry Waxman has said, subpoena every document across the administration, whether it's the energy task force, the Halliburton contracts, more and more and more.

Where is the line between witch-hunt and watchdog?

GERGEN: That's a darn good question.

And I -- it is the question, whether you are constructive or obstructive. And I -- I think, if Democrats go nutty on this investigation stuff, the -- the American people will be very unforgiving.

They -- they appreciate there was a lot that was done wrong in the past. And they want to know more about it. But they don't want to spend the next two years worrying about the past. They want to find a way out of Iraq, find a way to deal with Iran, find a way to deal with North Korea and many other domestic problems at home.

So, I think that would be a terrible place for the Democrats to go, as a general proposition. And Nancy Pelosi -- the test for the Democrats is going to be: Are you going to be a constructive party, that looks like it could govern the country if you get the White House back? Or are you just going to throw monkey wrenches into everything?

There is going to be a lot -- John, there's no question there is going to be a lot of food-fighting this next two years, as people jockey for the White House. But I think there's a possibility for the Democrats to be constructive on a couple things.

Let me -- let's go back to Glenn Beck, and what he told you when he was at the -- from his day hearing that -- the phones at the White House, with that radio group, today.

He said immigration, immigration. That's a bill. As you and I know, that was -- the president has a more bipartisan approach to immigration. He couldn't get his own bill through the House, because it was a Republican House. He could get his own immigration bill through a Democratic House.

That's a place where he could score a -- a bipartisan breakthrough, which would not only have -- fix the borders, but do something about guest workers, and -- and really address the issues of the 12 million who are here.

Another issue, I think, that's out there is potentially -- and this is the good news -- is McCain-Lieberman, which is a bill to -- to deal with climate change, which has been stymied there with the Republican majorities. You could unstick things like that. And you really might be able to get started on -- on climate change. It doesn't go far enough.

But there are some areas where, ironically, you actually might see some progress where it has been blocked in the past.

KING: David Gergen will perhaps help us count the votes two weeks from tonight.

GERGEN: OK.

KING: And then we will open the issues portfolio to see what comes next.

GERGEN: OK.

KING: David, thanks for joining us tonight.

GERGEN: Thanks very much, John.

KING: As always, thank you.

A criminal investigation is not what any candidate wants just 14 days before a tough election, but this California Republican is digging in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TAN NGUYEN (R), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm innocent. And there is no way in hell I am going to withdraw.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He's running for Congress, and facing allegations of voter intimidation -- coming up, the threatening letter investigators say they have linked to his campaign.

Plus: Rush Limbaugh lobs a potshot at actor and stem cell activist Michael J. Fox.

The political ad that everyone is talking about tonight -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In California: a criminal investigation into charges of voter intimidation, just two weeks from Election Day -- the target, Hispanic voters. What was in the letter they received?

360 next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Immigration is an important issue in many midterm election contests. In one, in California, it has taken an ugly twist. A Republican congressional candidate is under investigation, accused of intimidating thousands of Hispanic voters.

Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police with a search warrant, demanding entry. Come open the door now, now, now, now.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a raid that has rocked California politics. A dozen state agents, guns drawn, search documents and seize computers at the campaign headquarters of Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen. Nguyen is running against heavily favored Democratic incumbent Loretta Sanchez.

TAN NGUYEN (R), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm innocent. And there is no way in hell I'm going to withdraw.

GUTIERREZ: It's a criminal investigation into whether a letter sent to 14,000 immigrant families here was meant to intimidate and mislead voters, which would violate California's Voting Rights Act. It's also an investigation into who sent that letter to families like the Garcias (ph), who came from Mexico...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It insult me.

GUTIERREZ: ... and Jose Solario, the son of migrant workers, also from Mexico.

JOSE SOLARIO, CALIFORNIA VOTER: It is just shocking. It is -- it's outrageous. And it's very condescending.

GUTIERREZ: The letter, translated from Spanish, warns that -- quote -- "If your residency in this country is illegal, or, if you're an immigrant, to vote in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration, or you will be deported."

But that information is very misleading.

It's completely legal for any immigrant who's not born in this country but becomes a naturalized citizen to vote in any election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This letter is about confusing voters, intimidating them and really suppressing Latino voter turnout.

GUTIERREZ: Jose Solario (ph) is a naturalized citizen. He is also a city councilman running for state assembly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to Harvard University. I'm an elected official.

GUTIERREZ: Damien Garcia (ph) said the letter was a slap in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a supply sergeant for the United States Army. For someone to come out and tell us that we can't vote because we're naturalized citizens, that's just -- it's something you'd expect in some other country but not in this United States.

GUTIERREZ: So who is behind the letter? The California attorney general's office tells CNN it has traced the letter to the Nguyen campaign.

Now some of California's Republican leaders have called on Nguyen to pull out of the race. And Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says sending the letter exclusively to immigrants with Hispanic surnames was a hate crime.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I think it was one of the grossest letter that anyone could send out, and I think those kind of tactics are illegal. This is hate crime.

GUTIERREZ: An attorney for the campaign says there was no threat intended in the letter. He explained a campaign volunteer drafted it in English, and another volunteer, quote, "incorrectly translated it into Spanish."

The English version, he says, never targeted naturalized citizens allowed to vote, only illegal immigrants and green card holders, not eligible to vote.

TAN NGUYEN (R), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The whole hysteria and nonsense about there being a crime, it's just a big fat lie. GUTIERREZ: The attorney says that Nguyen himself did not approve the letter. However, a source close to the case says that at least an English language version of the letter was e-mailed directly to the candidate and that investigators are trying to determine whether Nguyen himself had a role in changing the letter so that it threatened immigrants registered to vote.

Nguyen's attorney declined to comment on that but did say...

DAVID WEICHERT, NGUYEN'S ATTORNEY: I am very concerned about the level of rumor that has accompanied this investigation.

GUTIERREZ: The attorney general's office says the issue is not about innuendo or translations. It's about the letter that ended up in the hands of Damien Garcia (ph) and 14,000 others.

As for candidate Nguyen, in case you're wondering, yes, he, too, is an immigrant.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Fascinating story.

And next, is it right wing assault or a valid argument? Rush Limbaugh takes on Michael J. Fox, saying he exploited his disease, even exaggerated his symptoms, for partisan politics. That's coming up.

And later, polygamy on trial. A follower of Warren Jeffs faces a judge and a star witness with a shocking story to tell when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Look on the campaign trail and you will see Democrats repackaging themselves as new and improved. And with the midterm elections just days away from now, the beleaguered party is fighting back, vowing to win using history to make their case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY: You have to be tough and smart. And that is the Democratic tradition. Who is tough and smart? Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Who is tough and smart on defense? Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Question is, do Democrats have what it takes this time? Join us in the next hour as the best political team on television investigates America's "Broken Government" with a look at the Democrats' "Two Left Feet". That's at 11 p.m. Eastern right here, only on CNN. He's outspoken and controversial, but some are saying that Rush Limbaugh has gone too far this time in an attack on actor Michael J. Fox.

Fox, who has Parkinson's Disease, is appearing in TV ads for candidates who support stem cell research. The conservative talk show host says Fox is only fooling the voters and exploiting his illness.

More now from CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Missouri's furious Senate battle, a Democratic has picked up a famous ally to try to help her knock off Republican incumbent Jim Talent.

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: They say all politics is local. But it's not always the case.

FOREMAN: Actor Michael J. Fox is now quite visibly suffering from Parkinson's Disease, and he is campaigning for a number of Democrats who support stem cell research, aimed at finding a cure for Parkinson's and other disorders.

FOX: Unfortunately, Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope.

FOREMAN: But now radio host Rush Limbaugh is accusing the ailing actor of faking it.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has.

FOREMAN: Fox has undeniably appeared steadier at other times. But the shaking caused by Parkinson's is that way: sometimes better, sometimes worse. It's just as undeniable that the disease effectively ended his once ascendant career.

Limbaugh is hearing none of it.

LIMBAUGH: This is really shameless, folks. This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two.

FOREMAN (on camera): Church groups and others oppose stem cell research are conducting their own campaigns in Missouri, where a ballot initiative to support the research is also under consideration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Embryonic stem cell research will require millions of eggs, and women will pay a terrible price.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But even some conservatives are backing away from Limbaugh's attack. RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I don't think Republicans are going to be hurt because one talk show host, however influential, says something foolish, although it wasn't helpful.

FOREMAN: Fox, at least publicly, is acting like it's all clean fun.

FOX: Ironic given some things that have been said in the last couple of days that my pills are working really well right now.

FOREMAN: But without question, this dirty campaign season just got dirtier.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And this footnote, Limbaugh also said on his program he will apologize to Michael J. Fox if he is wrong in calling Fox's behavior an act.

Coming up, trying to erase the wuss factor. Have Democrats finally gotten their act together? Tonight at 11 Eastern, a CNN special, "Broken Government."

First, though, polygamy in court. One man, two wives and a star witness with 59 brothers. See what happens when a polygamist goes on trial. This is 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That is Warren Jeffs, polygamist leader and self- proclaimed prophet, formerly one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives. He is now a prisoner.

While Jeffs awaits trial, some of his true believers are already facing justice, including one man accused of marrying a child bride.

CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is a follower of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader now being held in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bateman, anything you'd like to say today? Did you take a 17-year-old girl as a wife when you were in your 40s?

TUCHMAN: David Bateman, like the man considered a prophet by the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church, Warren Jeffs, is in legal trouble. And prosecutors want him behind bars.

MATTHEW SMITH, PROSECUTOR: The reason we're all here today is that this man seated right over here, David Romaine Bateman, at the time he was 44 years of age, had sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl named Midge Steve (ph).

TUCHMAN: Midge Steve (ph), who is now 22, is one of Bateman's two wives. She lives in Colorado City, Arizona, where prosecutors have not been able to find her to give her a subpoena to testify.

And that's not surprising. Because as we've learned first hand, the estimated 10,000 members of the FLDS Church, mostly here on the Arizona-Utah border, are told to stay away from outsiders.

(on camera) Can I ask you guys a quick question? I'm sorry to bother you. Can I ask you a quick question?

Any comment about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing about it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Without the alleged victim this man became the star witness.

RICHARD HOLM, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: I have 59 siblings, brothers and sisters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were the 60th?

HOLM: Pretty close.

TUCHMAN: Richard Holm is a former member of the church. He testified that people like David Bateman are often told by Warren Jeffs to marry minors.

HOLM: It's considered the mouth piece of God on the earth and considered as speaking for God in whatever he says it's the final.

TUCHMAN: Jeffs has told followers he marries off those who God tells him to marry, and sometimes they have been underage girls to men they often don't know. Authorities say it's a perverse tradition, not a revelation from God.

With family and friends of Bateman looking on in the courtroom, his attorney did not deny his client had sex with a minor in a marriage not recognized by the state, but the lawyer has the most interesting defense.

BRUCE GRIFFEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Because if you don't have evidence that the crime was committed in Arizona, then Arizona cannot prosecute the crime.

TUCHMAN: Jurors have been made aware that the Arizona-Utah state line runs right through the fundamentalist community.

(on camera) You're saying that this might have happened, it could have happened in Utah right across the border?

GRIFFEN: Exactly right.

TUCHMAN: Bateman is one of eight FLDS members arrested on similar charges. Prosecutors say they want to spread the message that marrying minor girls in the name of religion is wrong.

But prosecutors are up against a sect that teaches its members, including its children, that whomever the prophet chooses is right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a phrase for the young girls that they're taught to do something in particular or be a certain way?

HOLM: Yes. Keep sweet, no matter what.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Gary Tuchman joins us now, live from Kingman, Arizona.

Gary, court ended a few hours ago. What were the major developments this afternoon?

TUCHMAN: Well, John, what will happen is this afternoon they were still delivering the testimony. Tomorrow, testimony will continue. Then closing arguments are scheduled. Then it's expected to go to the jury.

One important thing to point out, that 16- and 17-year-olds, John, are allowed to get married here in the state of Arizona, with the consent of a parent.

But the prosecutors argue this is a polygamist marriage. Therefore, it's not an official marriage, so consent is a moot point.

We'll tell you that if Bateman is found guilty of the two counts against him, he faces the possibility of up to four years in prison.

KING: Fascinating legal questions. Also the jurisdictional issue you raised. But you also raised that Bateman was just one of eight men charged here. What's happening with the other cases?

TUCHMAN: Right. Two of the cases have already finished here in court. One man was found guilty. One man found not guilty. And in both cases they brought up that interesting jurisdictional issue.

KING: Gary Tuchman for us live in Kingman, Arizona. Gary, thank you very much. We'll continue to follow this case.

And putting polygamists on trial is one thing. Getting other followers to testify against them is quite another.

Coming up, we'll look at the reality of fighting polygamy in America. And in the next hour, the best political team in television investigates why the Democrats are perceived as being out of touch. It's a CNN special, "Broken Government".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Singing or preaching, Warren Jeffs claims to be the voice of God. And even behind bars the polygamist church leader still has legions of true believers. Some may soon join him in jail.

Several polygamist husbands are standing trial for allegedly having sexual relations with minors, and prosecutors hope these cases mark the end of polygamy in America.

Joining us from Phoenix -- Phoenix is Mike Watkiss. He's a reporter for KTVK, and he's covered Jeffs and his polygamist sect for years.

Mike, we just heard Gary Tuchman's report about the trial of David Bateman. It's one of eight trials on the docket in Mojave County against members of the FLDS community. Trials like this common?

MIKE WATKISS, KTVK CORRESPONDENT: Actually, they're not nearly common enough, according to a lot of people who are critics of polygamy, John.

There was one very high profile trial about four years ago. Polygamist who had taken a 16-year-old girl when he was 32 as his third wife. He was thrown in jail, and that really was the beginning of the problems for Warren Jeffs.

But not a lot of these trials until a couple of brave prosecutors stepped up. The young man up in Utah, Rod Bilnap (ph), who has brought the charges against Warren Jeffs and a real gutsy prosecutor here in Mojave County, Arizona, a guy by the name of Matt Smith, charging these eight men. But a lot of people think there hasn't been nearly enough prosecutions.

KING: And Mike, if you think about the headline, it's polygamy on trial, but in the courtroom that's technically not exactly correct, right?

WATKISS: You know, and that's really the point. And these prosecutors will tell you, you say that people are trying to stamp out polygamy. I don't think that's the point of any of these folks.

I've got polygamist ancestors. They were here 100 years ago. They will be here 100 years from now.

The message that these guys are trying to send is if you're going to practice this lifestyle, let the young women get an education, let them get to be 18 and make some choices.

It doesn't work that way in the FLDS Church, certainly under the regime of Warren Jeffs during the last decade. Young girls are forced into these marriages. They're deprived of any meaningful education.

So this is -- this is clearly a message. If you're going practice this lifestyle, let the little girls alone. Give them an education and give them a choice. KING: Tell us a bit about the community. We saw Gary Tuchman in his piece try to approach several members of the community to try to get their assessment, their comments on the case now being tried in court. And they ignored him, politely told him they had nothing to say. Tell us a little bit more about that and why they won't talk to outsiders.

WATKISS: John, I've been having doors slammed in my face in that community for 20 years now. It's never been a community that has been very receptive to the outside world. They -- I think they rightly recognize that the light of day is not their friend.

When you start focusing on what they do, especially in a place like Colorado City, there is wrongdoing there. So they do shut the doors.

Over the years, we've interviewed many of the community leaders, but they have seen when it goes on television it really doesn't work to their advantage. So now the wagons are circled. Warren Jeffs has put out an edict: you don't talk to the outside world, and that's the way it works today.

KING: And Warren Jeffs is behind bars. He's gone from being one of the FBI's most wanted to now being in prison. Does his arrest have any impact on these eight cases making their way through court?

WATKISS: Certainly. These eight cases were the first criminal charges in many years, aside from that polygamist cop up in Utah. And it was really as an extension of these cases that Arizona then filed charges against Warren Jeffs. Utah did the same thing.

But it has a great significance. None of this goes on without Warren Jeffs' say-so, without his OK. He performs these marriages. That's what the conspiracy charges is all about. And these men take these underage girls and have sex with them. That's the way it works in Colorado City. It has for decades.

KING: Mike Watkiss with KTVK. Thank you for joining us and thank you for your insight into this community and these trials. And I said you're in Phoenix, Arizona. Mike, of course, joins us from Kingman, Arizona. Mike, thank you very much.

WATKISS: Thank you.

KING: And another surprising turn for Madonna's plan to adopt a boy from Africa. The child's father speaking out, again, and what he says may put an end to the uproar. That's coming up.

In the next hour, a CNN special, "Broken Government: Fighting the Wuss Factor". A look at the Democrats and their chances of winning in next month's election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Coming up, a way to make a lot of cash by spending three weeks in bed. But yes, of course, there's a catch. It's our "Shot of the Day".

First, though, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a 360 bulletin.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: John, no regrets from North Korea. China's foreign minister says his country never got an "I'm sorry" from Pyongyang after its nuclear test earlier this month. Now at the time, some media reported Kim Jong-Il did issue an apology of sorts.

Chinese officials, though, did say Kim gave assurances last week that a second nuclear test is not in the works.

Back stateside, big changes could be coming to your child's classroom. The Department of Education is relaxing rules on teaching boys and girls separately at public schools. That means starting in late November, there can be single sex classes, even entire schools for one sex, if districts think it will actually improve a student's performance.

Enrollment, though, must be voluntary, and similar co-ed options must also be available. Critics call it a step back for equality in education.

The biggest study ever on the effects of flu shots and children shows the vaccine is safe for 6- to 23-month-olds. The study looked at more than 4,500 kids and found few problems that required a doctor's attention.

And yet another twist in the Madonna adoption mess. "TIME" magazine now reporting the father of the African toddler will not contest the adoption. After all, he tells "TIME" he didn't know his son would be taken away for good, but John, says he's still going to be better off.

Could it get more confusing?

KING: We'll see if that one stays consistent for more than 24 hours.

Now, Erica, stay put and check out our "Shot of the Day". And this is not for the faint at heart. It may look like something out a torture chamber, but it's actually a bed for studying ways of counteracting the effects of weightlessness.

HILL: That's a bed?

KING: Yes, it is. And NASA built it. Of course, test subjects must lie in the bed -- listen, must lie in the bed for three weeks and during that time spin 30 times a minute for an hour each day. Thirty spin as minute.

On second thought, maybe it is something out of a torture chamber. No surprise -- no surprise, NASA is having trouble rounding up volunteers, even with -- even with, just for you, Erica Hill, a $6,100 enticement. HILL: Sixty-one hundred bucks? That's still not enough. You know, one of our staff members here, who will remain -- remain nameless -- Brooke Trimble (ph) -- was saying really all you needed was a good night of drinking to get that in.

KING: You get the spins in that bed there. Americans may be couch potatoes. Some even may like lying down on the job. Not us. But hey, not even for $6,100. I'll take a pass on that.

HILL: Good luck, NASA.

KING: Luck is right. Erica, thank you very much.

HILL: See you later.

KING: We're dizzy after watching that.

Tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING", pilot fatigue and the impact it could have on your next flight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a money issue. It's simply a money issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Staying alert in the sky, the regulations meant to save your life. That and all the latest news, tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING", starting at 6 a.m. Eastern.

That's it for us tonight at 360. Thank you for watching.

A CNN special, "Broken Government" with Candy Crowley, starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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