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Kerry Comments Create Controversy; The Rove Factor; Hell House; U.S. to Raise Iraqi Troop Levels; Evangelicals Use Haunted Houses to Spread Gospel

Aired October 31, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Election 2006, it is beginning to look a lot like election 2004 -- Bush vs. Kerry all over again. And, today, the gloves came off.


ANNOUNCER: Battle cry -- after joking about U.S. troops, John Kerry goes on the attack.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.

ANNOUNCER: And so does the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, what it could mean for the elections.

The Rove factor -- he led Bush to victory, but is the ultimate spin doctor out of surprises to see help his party win?

Iraq increase -- the Pentagon's stunning admission on the war and why it could lead to a longer tour of duty.

And welcome to hell house.


ANNOUNCER: How fundamentalist churches are using Halloween to teach followers about sin and salvation.


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

Reporting tonight from the CNN studios in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening to our viewers here in America and around the world.

Just a week to go until the election, and, so, Iraq and politics are the focus tonight. Republicans, from the president on down, are reacting strongly to what Senator John Kerry said about Iraq. Senator Kerry says he misspoke, but is not apologizing.

You are going to hear for yourself what the senator said. And you can judge for yourself.

But this is no denying this is pure gold for Republicans, an opportunity to change the subject from the execution of the war in Iraq to what he and they and Democrats think of the troops fighting there. Seven days until the election, Democrats were on the lookout for a surprise from President Bush or from Karl Rove. They got one, instead, from John Kerry.

CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not even running for office this year, John Kerry pulls a late-October surprise.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You know, education, if you make the most of it, and you study hard, and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you -- you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

TODD: Those comments at a California campaign event Monday set off a chain reaction that could only be this hot days before an election.

Some of the tone hearkens back to the 2004 presidential race between Kerry and George Bush, and their bitter fight over their past military service. The president spoke in Georgia.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The senator's suggestion that men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful.

The members of the United States military are plenty smart.


BUSH: And they are plenty brave.


BUSH: And the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.


TODD: And, joining the chorus, plenty of other Republican leaders and commentators, including CNN contributor William Bennett.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Perhaps he forgot his own motivation, which I think was very noble, at the time, when he joined the military.

TODD: Kerry rejects the criticism, calling it misleading, even deceptive.

KERRY: I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, the most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves.

TODD: Still, Republican Senator and fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain also calls it is an insult to Americans in combat, calls for Kerry to apologize -- all this about a comment Kerry's camp says he didn't even mean.

A Kerry aide tells CNN he really meant students should learn history or they might end up, like President Bush, getting their country stuck in a place like Iraq.

Kerry called what he did say a botched joke. And he says the Republicans know it was a simple mistake.

KERRY: As if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq, and not the president and his people who put them there. They're crazy.

TODD: Kerry calls this an effort by the Republicans to change the topic from what's going on in Iraq. But many Democrats privately say they are furious at Kerry for giving the Republicans an easy way to take the focus off the GOP's problems.

So, could the 2004 presidential torchbearer have hurt his party's momentum heading into next week?

Analyst Stuart Rothenberg says he doesn't think so, generally, but:

STUART ROTHENBERG, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": From the Democratic point of view, they want everything to be about George Bush and the situation on the ground in Iraq. And anything that draws attention away from that can't be ideal.

TODD (on camera): Also not ideal now, according to analysts, Kerry's chances for the presidency in 2008, if he decides to run again. That's an eternity in politics. But some analysts believe the fact that this got so nasty so quickly, with some of the more slashing remarks coming from Kerry's camp, doesn't make him look very thoughtful or presidential.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, it is clearly that time in this election cycle when even small incidents can make a big difference.

Some perspective now from blogger Andrew Sullivan, author of the excellent new book "The Conservative Soul." He's in Washington. And with us here, former presidential adviser David Gergen.

David, good to see you as well. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Andrew, you said it on your blog today. For Republicans, John Kerry is the -- is the gift that keeps on giving.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, ANDREWSULLIVAN.COM: Yes. This is 2004 all over again.

I think he needs to let go of his ego and say, "Look, I may not have meant what you heard, but it could have been misconstrued; I'm sorry if it was misconstrued," and move on.

It's his ego that is keeping this news cycle going and hurting his own party. He needs to step down and say: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

It's easy, but it seems not so easy for him.

COOPER: You know, David, the Democrats have been saying all along that, look, the Republicans may have money on their side in some of these congressional races. They may have this great organization, but we have enthusiasm, and we have anger. Doesn't this give Republicans an awful lot of anger to -- to come out to the polls?


It was a bizarre blunder. It was a gift to -- to the Republicans. And, you know, it -- it reminds me a bit about that old line about, first, I voted for it, and then I voted against it, which the -- the Republicans used against him so effectively.

What -- I think Andrew is right. I think he does need to get off his -- you know, get down and say: "Look, what I said was not what I meant. And I -- and I -- I was misunderstood. It is my fault."

And -- and, then, he ought to get the heck off television. He just ought to go dark, so that the...


GERGEN: ... the attention goes back to other issues right now. He does not want to be in a debate for the next two or three days, which could cost his -- his party one or two seats, let's say, in the Senate bid, which would really be important. I think it will hurt more on the Senate side than the House side.

COOPER: Andrew, I mean, did it interest you that not many Democrats came out in defense of John Kerry?

SULLIVAN: No, because it is obvious that -- that he -- he made a blunder.

And -- and it is important to talk about the real issues. You know, there's a missing soldier in Iraq right now, if you're talking about caring about the troops. And the commander in chief has just abandoned him, let the Shiite militias take care of him. They have withdrawn, because Maliki told them to.

So, that should be the issue we're talking about, Iraq, the war, the economy, the Constitution, not this ego of John Kerry, which he won't let go of.

COOPER: And, yet, it does -- I mean, it keeps the -- the real issues off the table. It is exactly what probably some -- some -- some running in this race would -- would like.

GERGEN: That's right.

Look, I think it is clear that he did not intend this to be about the soldiers. I think it is very clear, what he intended it to be about was George W. Bush. But, having done -- having now made the blunder, it is his responsibility to get it cleaned up and get off television.

COOPER: So, you think he should just say, "Look, I made a mistake; I'm sorry," and move on?

GERGEN: Yes. Yes. I think he ought to say, "Look, I -- this is not the issue of this campaign." I think he ought to say, "The real issues of this campaign, let's get back to what's serious here," the same way that, by the way, the -- the Republicans were trying to do this. They couldn't get beyond the Mark Foley thing.

If the Democrats now spend four or five days talking about John Kerry, that's one of the stupidest things they could do over the next four or five -- over the remainder of this campaign.

The -- you know, the real problem is that Iraq is falling apart. You know that. And we have got Afghanistan, which you have just been to. That's -- we're -- we're in the process of possibly losing two wars simultaneously. And we have got Iran to play with, too. So, there are some serious issues in this campaign. And John Kerry ought to make his contribution to his party by falling on his sword...

COOPER: Andrew...

GERGEN: ... then going dark.

COOPER: ... how serious do you think these comments are?

In recent days, Republicans have sort of latched onto gay marriage, as you know. The president is now talking about it, to great applause, in stump speeches. I mean, can they use this? Can they use the gay marriage in these final days?

SULLIVAN: I -- I -- I just think the American people are smarter than that. And -- and they're going to look at the -- the full range of issues in front of them. They're going to look at the candidates they have to pick from.

They are not going to fall for this blogosphere hysteria or the media hysteria of the moment. They're -- they're grownups. They know what is at stake in this election. And this will pass with a cycle. But John Kerry could help it pass more quickly, if he -- if he actually just got it out the way and -- and -- and shut -- shut up for a while.

COOPER: It may not speak to people's intellect, though, but it does speak to people's heart and people's passion.

GERGEN: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: And a lot of people are very upset about this.

GERGEN: I think people are upset.

And -- and just talking to some Democrats tonight, they are hugely upset, because they thought: "We're -- we have almost got -- this thing is almost within our grasp. Are we really going to be the party that once again snatches defeat out of the jaws of victory?"

SULLIVAN: But it is also morally wrong, Anderson, and empirically wrong, to say that the U.S. military somehow is not educated.

I mean, John Kerry is just plain wrong about this. And he should say so. He may not have meant it, but that's -- you can interpret it that way. And, so, that's what he has to do. But he's so angry still from 2004, it seems to me, that he can't let go, for the sake of his own party.

COOPER: It -- it also makes him seem sort of elitist. And -- and that's something the Republicans have been talking a lot about today.

GERGEN: Yes, and with reason, and you know, because they -- they're -- if they can set up John Kerry, and make him the face of the Democratic Party over the next four or five days, going into this election, if they can succeed at that, it would help them in this election.

There's no question it would help them in this election. It could help them mobilize their base, could get people energized. It takes the news focus off what they want to talk about, and go the other way. It -- it's a gift right now.

And that is why he has to shut it down. I think he can't -- listen, I don't think for a moment he meant to say that -- that troops, our troops, in Iraq are anything less than noble. I mean, he -- he has praised them regularly. He's been over there.


GERGEN: This is a guy who has put in his time. I mean, he's right about that. I mean, he has sacrificed for his country. But he -- having made the blunder, he ought to clean it up.

COOPER: David, stick around, and, Andrew, as well. We are going to talk about what's happening in Iraq, and how it may affect what's going on in the next week or so a little bit later on, on 360.

You know, a lot of Democrats watched the Republican response to John Kerry today, and said it was straight out of Karl Rove's playbook. The man the president calls the architect and the brain was with President Bush today in Georgia, the start of what will be a very busy week for both men.

CNN's Tom Foreman now takes a look at the man many Democratic strategists just love to hate.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rolling in positive polls, with pundits predicting a congressional takeover, some Democrats could be excused for measuring the Capitol for curtains. But the White House is saying, not yet.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You might remember that, around this time in 2004, some of them were picking out their new offices in the West Wing.



BUSH: The movers never got the call.


FOREMAN: And that's in no small part due to the man behind the curtain, Karl Rove. Now Republicans are hoping he can once again hand them a decisive victory. And his foes know better than to count him out.

AMY WALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": There are many gun-shy Democrats in this town who say: "We are a great second-quarter team. We always look great going into halftime, and, then, we just blow it in the fourth quarter every time."

FOREMAN: Call it the Rove mystique.

KARL ROVE, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Now, I'm from Texas, so I'm a simple boy.

FOREMAN: Maybe so, but he did develop a sophisticated strategy to rally the Republican base, imposing message discipline, so candidates across the country read off of the same page on big issues, drawing stark contrasts with Democrats, and firing up white evangelicals with the gospel of social conservatism.

And, this year, he's trying to do it again.

ROVE: Democrats think every day is a good day to raise taxes. Rainy day, sunny day, winter day, spring day, summer day, fall day, any day is a day to raise your taxes.



FOREMAN: As the fourth biggest fund-raiser for Republican candidates, he's hammering tried-and-true themes. But, when it comes to one of the top issues for voters, Rove's Republican chorus is singing off-tune.


REP. MARK KENNEDY (R-MN), MINNESOTA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: None of us like war, and we have made some mistakes in Iraq.


FOREMAN (on camera): So, will he be able to work his magic again, overcome the public's huge concern over Iraq and the daunting leads so many Democratic candidates have in the polls?

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: This White House, this president, understands this is another presidential election. Is President Bush going to be president for six years or eight years?

FOREMAN (voice-over): Karl Rove is betting on eight years. And betting against this wizard of Washington has never yet been a sure thing.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, there aren't many, if any, sure bets in an election year like this one -- coming up, three Senate races that could tip control of Congress. They are all close. And have all taken ugly turns -- our reporters on the ground with the latest.

Plus: new developments in Iraq and how they could affect -- how they could factor into next week's elections. David Gergen and Andrew Sullivan are sticking around to talk about that -- coming up next on 360.


COOPER: Well, Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win control of the Senate.

And, tonight, we take a close look at three key races. Simply put, they could tip the balance of this election. Even in this season of mudslinging, each race has turned ugly enough to make headlines. And, in all three, controversial ballot measures are a wild card that could rally some voters.

Our ace political team is on the ground in all three battlegrounds tonight. Candy Crowley is in Missouri, where stem cell research is on the ballot. John King is in Tennessee, where same-sex marriage is part of the vote. It's also on the ballot in Virginia, where Dana Bash is standing by.

A closer look now at all three races, starting in Missouri, with CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Saint Louis, at the Goody Goody Diner, Democrat Claire McCaskill is running for the U.S. Senate, courting her base.


CROWLEY: These are urban voters, reliably Democratic, but there are not enough of them to win an election.

MCCASKILL: And we have invested a lot of time in -- in rural Missouri. You know, Democrats in the state for too long have thought that, well, don't go to the country, because you get on defense, and there's no point, and we can do enough in the cities to make up for the margins in the country.

CROWLEY: Small towns and rural areas have not been friendly turf for most Democrats. Rural voters gave George Bush a 19-point edge over John Kerry. Springfield, Missouri, out-state, as they call it, is strong Republican country.

David Lutz voted twice for George Bush.

DAVID LUTZ, MISSOURI VOTER: But as the Democrats went so far to the left, then we started -- or I started to vote much more Republican, and so on. And now it's just -- to me, the pendulum has kind of swung past me, gone the other way. So, it's -- it's -- I'm trying to just get in the middle.

CROWLEY: Lutz plans to vote for McCaskill, the Democrat. And so will his Republican wife.

ELLEN MCLEAN, MISSOURI VOTER: They're not -- they're not representing me, and they keep moving further right. And there's simply nowhere to go. I don't know where a moderate is supposed to go.

CROWLEY: This is an uh-oh for Republican Senator Jim Talent, who needs to keep his base intact and get them to the polls.

SEN. JIM TALENT (R), MISSOURI: I believe in the dignity and value of life at all stages. I strongly supported the ban on partial- birth abortions. My opponent opposed it.


CROWLEY: A stem cell research initiative on the ballot complicates Talent's task. It might bring out his conservative Christian voters, but it might prompt his business community voters, more moderate and pro-stem cell, to pull the lever for McCaskill.

Talent splits the difference, saying he opposes the initiative, but others should make up their own minds. But, basically, he avoids the topic, turning to more tried-and-true subjects.

TALENT: Marriage, I think, is a relationship between a man and a woman.


CROWLEY: In five stops through southeastern Missouri, Talent mentioned same-sex marriage and abortion in most of them, reaching out to the base with what he calls commonsense Missouri values.


COOPER: And Candy Crowley joins us now.

Candy, the -- the appeal to -- to commonsense values, as they say, is it going to work this time?

CROWLEY: Well, we will see.

I mean, as you saw from listening to those two people that were in there, those are Republican voters. There's sort of a larger issue out there. They feel that there has been so much attention to these issues of abortion and stem cell research on the part of the Republicans, that other things, health care, things that actually affect their lives, have not been touched.

So, there's -- there's a very strong current now that, as we see in all the polls, and -- and that we hear on the ground, a very strong current away from Republican candidates, toward Democratic candidates. He's swimming upstream with the talk of abortion and the talk of stem cell and gay marriage.

Nonetheless, it has worked in the past. So, it is just difficult to know where this is going to go out, because we have never seen an environment quite like this since these particular issues have begun to take hold.

COOPER: It's going to be a fascinating week and a fascinating election night.

CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

COOPER: Candy, thank you for that.

Now to Tennessee, where lost in a lot of the noise lately over negative ads and race is the fact that, on social issues, Democrat Harold Ford is running to the right of his party. He's running, in some ways, like a Republican. All the same, his Republican opponent is now pulling ahead.

More from CNN's John King.



JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): History is Harold Ford's destination -- rural west Tennessee, one of the places that will decide if he makes it there.

FORD: (INAUDIBLE) We are about to win us a Senate race.


KING: Victory would make Ford the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction, no easy task in a state where blacks will make up, at best, 15 percent of the vote, and where white voters have trended increasingly Republican in recent years.

FORD: I got great faith in the voters in Tennessee that they are going to vote for the person they believe can best represent them. And I believe we are going to win this race.

FORD: Thank you. Didn't mean to interrupt your lunch. Thank you.




KING: The 36-year-old congressman is a tireless and charismatic campaigner. But a new CNN poll shows him trailing former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker heading into the final week.


KING: Corker led 52 percent to 44 percent among likely voters in the Opinion Research Corporation survey, an edge anchored by a big lead among white voters and among those who identify themselves as conservatives.

CORKER: All of us know the strength that comes from prayer. It's at least 10 or 12 times a day that, on this campaign trail, that I pray to -- to hopefully carry myself in a manner that will make people in this -- of this state proud.

KING: Both candidates support a state ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage. And knowing question one will motivate social conservatives to vote, Ford takes every opportunity to make clear he's no liberal.

FORD: You know, I voted for parental notification. I'm against partial-birth abortion. KING: The most bruising attacks have been delivered in TV ads, including one now infamous Republican spot Ford aides call a smear to scare white voters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the Playboy party.


KING: The first lady was here one week out, but the president won't be back -- Corker among the many Republicans who think they need some distance from the White House on Iraq, yet worried stepping too far away could alienate conservatives still loyal to the president.

CORKER: Maybe it's time for something else to lead that effort.

KING: No more saying it is up to the president who serves as defense secretary.

As the bloodiest month in Iraq this year comes to a close, Corker and many other Republicans are more critical, and more open in pushing for change.

CORKER: Maybe it is time to look at who leads that. I never felt in the first place that we went to Iraq with enough troops on the ground.

KING: Congressman Ford says, it won't sell.

FORD: You just can't trust him. One day, he's for Rumsfeld staying. The next day, when the polls say it is not popular, he's against that. We have had that kind of leadership in Washington now for six years.

KING: All Democrats are selling change this year, but Ford is asking for more than most, to keep his base and to dip into the other guy's, asking for Tennessee to put him in the Senate and the history books, and ignoring polls or anything else that suggest he won't get there.


COOPER: And John King joins us now.

John, in your piece, you were saying that Ford aides talk about those commercials as -- as racially motivated. Does the candidate himself talk about that?

KING: He is very careful, Anderson.

I asked him two or three times, are they race-baiting? Are they playing the race card? Are they trying to run against you simply because you are black?

He would not answer directly. And his aides say there's a reason why. They say, if voters make that conclusion, they will make that conclusion on their own. They think Harold Ford would hurt himself if he accused the Corker campaign of that, or if he got into a big debate about that in the campaign.

The campaign itself complains a lot about -- one ad says Harold Ford is from Memphis, accent on Memphis, which is a heavily black population. There's a radio on that has drums -- the campaign, the Ford campaign, says they're like tom-tom African drums -- at the mention of Harold Ford's name, more patriotic music when it mentions Bob Corker.

But the campaign -- the candidate is leaving it to his aides. He simply believes, we are told, that, if gets into a fight like that, it will hurt him.

COOPER: All right.

KING: Anderson.

COOPER: John King, appreciate that. Thanks very much, John.

Now to Virginia, where the Republican incumbent whose race it was to lost just two months ago is now actually in danger of losing.

At a campaign stop today, Senate George Allen was accosted by a protester and a liberal blogger. I don't know if we have the -- yes, we should have that video. He was tackled before he was able to get near the senator.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a constituent. He's my senator. I'm asking a question.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to need to leave now. Get out the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you part of...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not. No, I'm not at all. Let's move on.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... you spit on your first wife?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, now you're getting personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you're getting personal. Now you're getting personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't touch anybody, OK?


COOPER: That scuffle just one of many that have marked this campaign.

Here's CNN Dana Bash.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and that we also need to be...

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Allen was preparing a 2008 run for the White House, thought his reelection to the Senate was in the bag. He doesn't anymore.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Reach out to people. Reach out and let them know where we stand on issues that matter.

BASH: Just a few months ago, the Virginia Republican held a double-digit lead. That has vanished. Now he's at 46 percent, Democrat Jim Webb, 50 percent, a statistical dead heat, according to CNN's new poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

ALLEN: This fellow here, over here, with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is...

BASH: Most trace Allen's plummet in the polls to this August moment, what sounded like a racial slur aimed at a Webb aide. But Allen also suffers from more typical Republican troubles, an unpopular war and disgust with Washington. He's trying to squeak out a victory by following a classic GOP playbook...

ALLEN: Marriage should be between one man and one woman.

BASH: ... rallying conservative voters with social issues, like banning gay marriage, on the ballot in Virginia.

But Allen's opponent, Jim Webb, isn't your average liberal. Until recently, he was a Republican. In fact, he was Navy secretary under Ronald Reagan. Opposition to the war drove him to run as a Democrat.

JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: George Allen is wrong on foreign policy. He's one of the reasons that we are in this disaster in Iraq.

BASH: In this intensely anti-incumbent environment, Webb's outsider persona and military credentials have serious appeal here. So, Allen is trying to make Webb unpalatable to so-called value voters and women. Last week, Allen's campaign highlighted what it called disturbing, sexually graphic passages from several military novels Webb has written.

Now the senator talks about it non-stop.

ALLEN: My opponent says he's proud of being an author, a novelist. Those passages that were brought up, not just I -- just not me, but others have found them to be demeaning to women.

BASH: Webb responds by reading reviews of his own books.

WEBB: I have led a literary career. And I'm very proud of it.

BASH: It's a campaign certainty: The tighter the race, the closer Election Day, the nastier it all gets. And each guy blames the other for taking it into the gutter.

WEBB: In the last couple of weeks of your campaign, the best you can do is to try to dissect your opponent's novels, you really don't have much to bring to the table, folks.



COOPER: Dana joins us now.

Dana, is the attack on the novels working, especially among women?

BASH: You know, our new poll, when you look at -- at that particular issue, how Webb is faring with women, he's still faring very well. Fifty-five percent of the female likely voters say that they will vote for Webb.

Now, to be fair, this recent line of attack from Allen just started mid- to late last week. So, it still has time to work. And it is not just Allen on the campaign trail. It is not just in -- on -- on TV. It is also someplace that's very effective, and that is in direct mail. I saw a few mailers that went out clearly to -- targeted to women that were very, very tough on -- on Jim Webb, especially not -- just on these novels, but specifically on the fact, what they're hitting home hard, that, as Navy secretary, or even afterwards, he made some really -- some comments that really infuriated women, saying that they didn't belong in the Naval Academy and that they didn't belong in combat.

He has since been trying to say that his views have changed. But, certainly, it could hurt him with women. And it also could hurt him when it comes to the north-south divide, which really does exist and is growing in the state of Virginia.

I'm in Northern Virginia. And this is much more liberal, as you know than southern or more rural areas of this state. And this is growing. This area is growing a lot. So, they are hoping, in the Webb campaign, that this area will bring -- bring voters home and help Webb perhaps take the seat from George Allen. But it is still, statistically, a dead heat -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dana Bash, thanks for that.

They campaigns are close. They are also bitter. And plenty of money is being spent to make it that way. Here's the "Raw Data."

According to the Associated Press, nearly $160 million have been spent on negative ads this election year, more than $87 million by Republicans, Close to $73 million from the Democrats.

On the flip side, roughly $17 million is being used for positive, or self-promotional, ads. That's about a 10-1 negative to positive.

From campaign spending to spending more money on the war in Iraq -- the U.S. now says we need to increase the number of Iraqi security forces. We will look at what it might mean for American troops on the ground now. David Gergen and Andrew Sullivan join us for that.

And, later, see why, all across the country, fundamentalist Christians are embracing Halloween -- a visit to the hell house, one of many, coming up on 360.


COOPER: Troubling development. What you're looking at is U.S. troops opening checkpoints in Baghdad's Sadr City. They were ordered to do it by Iraq's prime minister. The decision is raising serious questions about what is going on in Iraq and how much power the U.S. really has to influence it.

In a major development Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld now says he is ready to sign off on an increase in the overall number of Iraqi security forces. In other words, the current forces are not standing up as planned, and the U.S. troops will not be standing down any time soon.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre updates our reporting from last night.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as it's closing in on its stated goal of training and equipping 325,000 Iraqi security forces, the U.S. is moving the goal post. U.S. commanders are proposing a boost in the ranks of Iraqi army and police of at least 10 percent, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is ready to sign off on the plan.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Iraqi government and General Casey have made their recommendations, and General Dempsey. And I'm very comfortable with the increases they proposed.

MCINTYRE: With more than 100 military deaths in Iraq in October, the highest monthly total in nearly two years, and with 310,000 Iraqis now standing up, nearly all of the total of 325,000 that were thought required, it's increasingly clear it's not enough to allow U.S. troops to start standing down.

Last week the top U.S. commander in Iraq said he needs at least 30,000 more troops just to cover Iraqi soldiers who are on vacation.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES: The problem is on one part undermanning, and the second part is the leave policy of the Iraqi armed forces that puts about a quarter of the unit on leave at any one time.

MCINTYRE: While the additional Iraqi troops will require more training, the Pentagon insists that doesn't mean more U.S. trainers will have to be sent or that the overall number of U.S. troops, now roughly 150,000, will have to increase.


COOPER: Jamie McIntyre joining us now.

What is the quality of the current number of Iraqi troops?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, there are problems already with just the size of the force they have trained now. There are particularly, among the police, reports that as many as two-thirds of some of the police units are infiltrated, essentially, by militia members who are loyal not so much to the central government but to people like Muqtada al-Sadr, who we saw influential in the removal of those checkpoints today.

So a lot of people say even if the numbers of Iraqi forces are increased by 10 percent or perhaps even more, that's not going to solve the problem. That's not going to get to the point where the U.S. is going to be able to withdraw troops any time soon.

In fact, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today suggested that they may have more cases in which units that are supposed to serve a year are extended by several months because of their need to support this additional training.

COOPER: Is there frustration among U.S. generals, commanders, who you have talked to that the Iraqi prime minister is now, it seems to be, taking requests, at the very least, from Muqtada al-Sadr and passing on those requests as orders to U.S. troops?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, they're portraying this as something that was worked out between the U.S. commanders and the Iraqi government. Of course, they want to support the Iraqi government and give al-Maliki the, you know, support that looks like he's actually in charge. They want to make the point that Iraq's a sovereign government.

On the other hand, there is a lot of private frustration expressed about the fact that he hasn't done more to disarm the militias, to bring the Sunnis into the government and to bring about that reconciliation that the U.S. military believes is really the key to ending the violence there.

So they're willing to give it more time. They want to do things that are going to support him and raise his stature among the Iraqi people, and that's how they're portraying this agreement today to take down those checkpoints and increase the mobility around Baghdad.

COOPER: All right. We'll see. Jamie, appreciate it. Thank you, Jamie McIntyre.

From a question of troops to a question of commitment. What the war means to the elections and what might happen if -- in Iraq if the Democrats control Congress. We'll talk to David Gergen and Andrew Sullivan about that.

We'll also have this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get them. We'll get you!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy, can you see me?


COOPER: Yes, it's fright night, but this house of horrors is actually from a house of worship. And the message, well, you can figure it out for yourself. Stay tuned.


COOPER: We continue the coverage of Iraq tonight. What John Kerry said or what President Bush said about what he said, may turn out to be a political blip, or maybe not. Up until now, though, the political constant has been what Americans think of the handling of the war.

For more on that, we're joined once again by blogger and author Andrew Sullivan, author of the new book, "Conservative Soul", and former presidential adviser, David Gergen.

David, how troubling is it that Muqtada al-Sadr basically has the ear now of the prime minister of Iraq, who then gives orders to U.S. troops to pull up checkpoints in Sadr City?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: These disputes over the last couple of weeks with Mr. Maliki, the prime minister, between al-Maliki and the Americans, are very troubling. What they really suggest is we're heading to a showdown with this government, because there is a big feeling within the U.S. military that the Sunnis need a bigger stake, need a bigger piece of the action in Iraq if we're ever going to get this calmed down.

And clearly, Maliki is on the side of the Shiites in trying to oppose that and not sending money for reconstruction in the Sunni areas, not really helping the Sunnis. And I think we're -- I think we're headed for a showdown with this government. COOPER: Andrew, does it seem to you that the U.S. has the power to influence events on the ground as they would like politically?

ANDREW SULLIVAN, BLOGGER/AUTHOR: No, I think it's gone. I think we have, essentially, a Shiite government that is advancing its own interests and is in league with the militias.

I mean, we just abandoned a soldier, a U.S. soldier in Sadr City to these people. And U.S. military took their orders, essentially, from al-Sadr, this Shiite militia man.

It's over. We do not have control over that government. If we force a confrontation with them we would be entering a civil war on the behalf of the Sunnis. So really, the writing is on the wall, Anderson.

I saw that clip of Rumsfeld. He looked broken do me. I don't know about you. That was a very, very exhausted person. I think the options are basically very, very few at this point.

COOPER: And yet from the Democrats, I mean, there's no real single plan for what to do if they took control of Congress or were able to influence events in Iraq.

GERGEN: I think where we are now is if the Republicans surprise everybody and do retain the House and also keep the Senate as expected, then I think the Bush White House will read that as vindication.

And they will say let's stay, basically what we're doing, with some modest modifications.

COOPER: Stay the course. We're not...

GERGEN: Stay the course, but hanging in there, maybe even ask for more troops. Because there's an argument to be made for increasing American troops there, too, which you hear in some military circles.

COOPER: Will Rumsfeld remain, you think?

GERGEN: I think -- I think they might cashier him. But if -- if the Democrats win the House, then I think it's much more likely we're going to be looking at disengagement and a Rumsfeld resignation.

COOPER: Andrew, I was reading on your blog today, you were pointing people to, I think it was, an essay, I think it was in "Newsweek", a really good essay about -- about the situation in Iraq. And the writer was saying, essentially, that no one is looking at -- at Iraq as it is. People kind of look at it through the prism of what it should have been, what it could have been, what they wish it was but aren't really facing up to the reality on the ground now.

SULLIVAN: We have to let go of what we hoped would happen there. And I was one of those people who hoped for democracy. But it's gone. We have to acknowledge reality. And I think a Democratic Congress may actually force the president to acknowledge reality, get out of this denial that he's in about what his options are.

Now I think we also at some point, and Jim Baker, and there are many realist Republicans out there ready to go in and say, look, we also are going to have to deal with some powers around there: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, maybe even Iran and Syria, to actually talk about stabilizing this country.

Because there's danger of this spiraling into a regional war, a religious regional war that could be a real nightmare for all of us.

COOPER: Not a lot of great options.

GERGEN: I'm not sure it's gone yet. The piece in "Newsweek" was by Farid Zakaria, who is just -- he's one of the wonderful new minds in American foreign policy discourse. And it basically argues -- doesn't argue for complete withdrawal. It argues to bring down from about 140,000 to about 60,000 and to do a lot with the neighbors of Iraq to see if we can't sort of have some greater stability there.

I'm not sure it's gone yet. But it's increasing, and it looks like it's not winnable.

SULLIVAN: Well, when I saw gone, I mean the democracy. The democratic...

GERGEN: That's gone. I totally agree with that.

SULLIVAN: What we can do is rescue some stability, which means talking to the neighbors. The question is whether Bush will be able to do that or will he keep the current course to catastrophe.

GERGEN: And whether he's psychologically capable of changing that much. I think this is going to be really hard for him.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there. Good conversation to continue with later. David Gergen, appreciate it. David Sullivan, as well. Thank you very much.

A sad piece of breaking news to bring to you right now. The death toll in the arson wildfire in Southern California is now five. A firefighter, Pablo Cerda, has died of his injuries, burns over most of his body. He and his crew were overtaken by flames last week, you'll remember.

Thankfully, the fire is now contained. The arsonist, or arsonists, are still out there.

Just ahead, he is the most powerful person in the world, but some believe President Bush and those around him, well, have been grabbing too much power for the White House. The Democrats certainly believe that. In the next hour, in CNN's special on "Broken Government: Power Play", we'll take a look.

And coming up next tonight, fear, faith and horror. The tactics some evangelical churches are using on this Halloween.


COOPER: Well, tonight you may have already had little visitors at your door, ghosts and goblins asking for candy, hopefully not throwing toilet paper at your home.

In some communities, however, across the country, Halloween is about fear of a totally different kind. Some fundamentalist churches are now staging their own haunted houses, using fear to encourage fait, or at least fear.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out on the flat Texas plains in the small town of Plainview, a crowd gathered at a local church last Halloween, getting close to heaven before the sun went down and hell arose.


FOREMAN: This is Hell House, a shocking, rocking, roaring attempt to transform the horrors of Halloween into the fear of God.


PASTOR KEENAN ROBERTS, HELL HOUSE CREATOR: Hell House is aggressive. We're very aggressive in the name of Jesus.

FOREMAN: And the man leading the prayers before the scares tonight is the one who has turned Hell House into a national phenomenon, Pastor Keenan Roberts.

(on camera) How much churches have you seen this done in?

ROBERTS: Well, across the United States, they'll be probably about 3,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help me. Please, help me!

ROBERTS: This is absolutely a modern day parable. It is helping portray and color and bring to life, to reach the sight and sound generation. It is -- it is using the tools that are attractive to this culture to help them understand spiritual principles of Christ.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Certainly, learning about sin and salvation is why many came here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a fair reflection of what's going on in the world today. You know, some of the scenes.

FOREMAN: Ordelia Ortiz (ph) brought her daughter, Araceli (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't trust anybody nowadays. I mean, you have to be careful with everybody, anybody. So I just want her to have an open eye out for it.

FOREMAN: What are you scared of? What do you think you're going to see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things I might go through later on during life.

FOREMAN: But in the very first room on the 45-minute free tour, it is clear this is not Sunday School.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's have ourselves a little gay pride.

FOREMAN: This is what makes Hell House so controversial: a mock gay wedding presided over by a demon, who doesn't just say this is wrong but quite literally damns homosexuals to death by AIDS and eternity in hell.

Room after room the sins roll by: domestic violence, Internet porn, drinking and driving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy, can you see me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no gray. There's right and wrong. There's heaven and hell. There's Jesus and Satan. There's forgiveness and unforgiveness. And this makes the message of the gospel, it packages it in a contemporary rather format that young people will come and see.

FOREMAN: Certainly, many people experience something powerful. The exit is a parade of emotion.

Remember Araceli Ortiz (ph) and her mother?

(on camera) You're pretty upset. What's so upsetting about this?

Was this good to bring her here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a way I would say yes; in way, no.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Hell House organizers say 75 percent of their visitors are people who don't regularly go to church. And that's who they're after, people like Gracie Velasquez (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Best thing that could ever happen to me.

FOREMAN (on camera): Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I need the lord in my life.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Hellfire and brimstone preaching has been a hallmark of fundamentalist Christians for generations, but only 45 minutes away from Plainview, Pastor Philip Wise, who wrote a book on fundamentalism, is troubled by the uniquely pointed impact of Hell House.

PASTOR PHILIP WISE, SENIOR PASTOR, SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH: They say we have horror in this violent culture we live in, but they present a program that is extremely violent. They say we abhor the occult, but they have a program that, I think, actually encourages interest in the occult.

FOREMAN (on camera): But they would also say we believe something, and we're acting on it. Isn't that what any person of faith should do?

WISE: Well, I would just say if you believe that, then you believe the people who flew the planes into the Twin Towers were doing God's work.

ROBERTS: To compare us to terrorists is just absurd. The people that point fingers at this as the problem are pointing in the wrong direction. We are giving people -- we're giving people the answer.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Plainview, Texas.


COOPER: Well, coming up next, new developments in the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

And later a CNN investigation into what some call the most serious and wide-ranging expansion of presidential power in modern history.

You're watching 360.


COOPER: Halloween shot is coming up, but first, Erica Hill from Headline News has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, North Korea heading back to the negotiation table. Pyongyang now saying it will return to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

U.S. and Chinese envoys meeting in Beijing coaxed the country to come back. The talks could resume before the end of the year. U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed after North Korea's nuclear test, though, will remain in effect.

Negotiations meantime under way into the fate -- looking into the fate of two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping by Hezbollah militants sparked the recent war in Lebanon. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, says he has met with a U.N. appointed negotiator and that this same go-between has also met with Israeli officials but did not offer any details beyond that.

The Centers for Disease Control investigating a major case of salmonella poisoning across 18 states. More than 170 people have fallen ill in places including Arkansas, Connecticut, and Wisconsin. Eleven are in the hospital. There are no clues yet, though, as to the source or sources of the outbreak. And NASA announcing today it will make one last shuttle mission to repair the ageing Hubble Space Telescope. The Shuttle Discovery will launch in May 2008 to upgrade hardware and software on Hubble. Today's call reverses a prior decision that a repair mission would be too risky -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, we certainly wish them well.

Time for "The Shot" today. And of course, it's Halloween, so in keeping with the Halloween theme, today's "Shot" is this. It was actually sent in, a picture of a jack-o'-lantern, sent in by one of our loyal viewers in Canada. It's actually a picture of me. It was taken from a charity photograph I did.

Robin Lejeu (ph) of Sainte Philippe, Quebec, made this, sent -- sent it in. We appreciate it. Kind of looks kind of a cool picture.

HILL: Very impressive.

COOPER: And Erica, I don't know if you know about some of the most popular Halloween costumes which have been sweeping the country, really, that all the kids are wearing.

HILL: I think I missed out on the trend.

COOPER: I think we've got some picture of several of the most popular.

HILL: Is it the Anderson -- the Anderson Cooper costume?

COOPER: Well, we'll see -- let's take a look at the first one.


COOPER: See, those...

HILL: Larry, Lou and Wolf. Now that makes sense.

COOPER: Yes. All the kids are wearing those -- those costumes.

HILL: The Broken Borders T-shirt, I hear, is huge at schools across the country.

COOPER: What is Wolf wearing? Wolf is just in, like, a blue smock.

HILL: I'm not sure. He's almost looks like he's at the barber.

COOPER: Well, the kids -- the kids love the masks, though. They get scared easily. So there you go.

HILL: Well, maybe next year we can -- we can hope for one of you.

COOPER: Maybe so. I thought there was one of -- I think there's one of you. Is there? We have one? There is Erica Hill. HILL: Your carving skills are impressive.

COOPER: Yes, we spent all day on that.

HILL: I like it.

COOPER: And I think there's one of me somewhere. Is there one of me, or no?

HILL: You already had yours. Come on.

COOPER: That's right.

HILL: Just because it's your show doesn't mean you get more than one.

COOPER: It's all about me, Erica. Thank you.

HILL: Have a good night. Happy Halloween.

COOPER: Ooooh!

And a happy Halloween to all of you. Thanks for watching. CNN's special, "Broken Government: Power Play" is next. See you tomorrow.


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