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John Kerry Apologizes; Iraq Descending Into Chaos?; Dirty Politics

Aired November 1, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Democrats and Republicans today trading body blows over Iraq, as a hotly disputed Pentagon leak warns of growing chaos.


ANNOUNCER: Closer to chaos -- an internal military briefing says Iraq may be sliding deeper into the abyss. But the White House says the report is taken out of context and the situation is getting better, not worse.

Round two -- Kerry says he's sorry, but slams the GOP again. With Democrats distancing themselves from him, could this be the surprise the Republicans have been hoping for?

ANNOUNCER: Down and dirty.




ANNOUNCER: Attack ads bankrolled by political parties, who insist they have no power over them.

And they know you -- how your identity is an open book to political operatives, hoping to cash in on Election Day.


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 we want to welcome our viewers here in America and watching around the world.

We begin tonight with issue number one for Americans, no matter how they plan to vote on Tuesday, Iraq. President Bush still says it is going well and is standing by his defense secretary. But a leaked Pentagon briefing item seems to say Iraq is heading toward chaos. There was new sniping, too, over John Kerry, and now what a Republican congressional leader said about the war. By the end of today, you pretty much needed a scorecard to keep track of who was apologizing and who was demanding an apology, and who was outraged.

We will try to sort it all out in a moment, but, first, that Pentagon leak and whether it points to growing problems here in Iraq.

Here's CNN's Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With 105 U.S. deaths in Iraq last month, October was the deadliest for U.S. forces in two years. But, at the Pentagon, the defender in chief of Iraq policy argues, the war-torn country is still headed in the right direction.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It is not a smooth road. It's a bumpy road. We know that. We have said it repeatedly.

MCINTYRE: However, an internal briefing slide from two weeks ago, obtained and published by "The New York Times," has a different take. It shows Iraq, at least on October 18, as inching closer to chaos, and away from peace.

The White House says the chart reflects a single bad day.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That was a snapshot taken at the height of the Ramadan violence. If you got the same report last week, you would have found out the national sectarian incidents from the 21st to the 27th dropped 23 percent.

And, Jessica...


QUESTION: Falling into chaos is the same as winning?

SNOW: No. No, because what you have just done is, you have attached your interpretation to a single chart. It doesn't say devolving into chaos. And, furthermore, I have just told you, since then, you have had a pretty dramatic reversal.

MCINTYRE: Still, critics who have argued for months Iraq is slipping into a full-scale civil war say the chart, which includes a note at the bottom that violence is at an all-time high and spreading geographically, offers an unvarnished view of what military commanders really think.

COLONEL DOUG MCGREGOR (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Our forces are now islands of impotence in a sea of violence and chaos, over which we exert, frankly, very little strategic influence.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: So, Jamie, I mean, it's confusing. What should you -- what should we believe, what the Pentagon is saying publicly, what the White House is saying publicly, or what the military seems to be saying privately about Iraq, at least on this day?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, it's a little of both.

I mean, obviously, U.S. military commanders can't in public say exactly what they think, particularly if they think things are not going well. They have got to present a positive front up front. But, privately, they do acknowledge that the strategy that the U.S. has employed up to this point of training the Iraqi troops, having them stand up, is not producing the desired results.

The question is, really, what is the long-term trend? And military commanders that I talk to remain optimistic, even though they have gone through this really tough period in Iraq. But, as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says, only time will tell about how soon this will really turn around.

And the short-term trend, frankly, isn't very good. And that's what that slide reflects.

COOPER: And they are still planning on going ahead and trying to up the number of Iraqi security forces by some -- as many as 100,000, according to some reports.

MCINTYRE: Well, yes.

We're told that the number is probably more like about 30,000. That would cover, by the way, Iraqi troops that have just gone on vacation.

You know, when they take leave, because it takes them so long to get back to where they're going and so long to get back, if they're gone for a week, they might be actually gone for a month. And that's resulted in big holes in the Iraqi security forces.

But the other problem is -- is that -- the capability and the desire of those forces. And, so, we're going to see an increase in the Iraqi security forces. We're going to see U.S. troops remain at the current level for at least the indefinite future. And, then, we will just have to see if this strategy works out.

But the problem is, it's not going to produce results, really, before the November midterm elections.

COOPER: Jamie McIntyre, appreciate the report. Thanks.

On now to the president's new public vote of confidence today in his top advisers on Iraq.

Suzanne Malveaux is live with what he said today about Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Suzanne, first, Secretary Rumsfeld. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, Secretary Rumsfeld has really been a polarizing figure.

But even the president's former chief of staff, former generals, even some Republican strategists have all called for Rumsfeld to step down. But -- and even Rumsfeld has actually offered his resignation twice to the president, but President Bush is standing by his man, a vote of confidence today, saying on Secretary Rumsfeld: "I have asked him to fight two fronts in the war on terror, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as transform our military. Any one of those would have been a lot or any secretary of defense to handle. He's handled all three at the same time. And I'm pleased with the progress we're making."

The bottom line here, Anderson, is that this president believes that, if Rumsfeld were to step down, it would send a signal to the international community and to Americans alike that the Iraq war, this war on terror, was a mistake. And the president does not believe that.

COOPER: I don't want to sound flippant in any way, but, I mean, he did give a big public vote of confidence to Mike Brown, saying, you know, that Brownie was doing a heck of a job just a couple days before he got the ax. Harriet Miers got a big public vote of confidence, too, and then she withdrew her -- her -- her name.

Does this mean really anything, I mean, given this is just happening six days before an election?

MALVEAUX: Well, I think it means a lot, actually, because I think the president has been very consistent on this.

He has resisted all of these calls, even from his former chief of staff for Rumsfeld to -- to step down. There were certainly some opportunities where it would have seemed likely to do so.

But you make a very good point here, which is also that he wants to send a very strong message just days before the election that: Look, I'm standing by my defense team. And, therefore, I'm standing by -- behind by my mission.

And national security, as you know, is the -- the issue front and center that they're trying to form this election around.

COOPER: He -- he also talked today about sticking with Vice President Cheney. It's not really his option. I mean, Vice President Cheney was elected.

MALVEAUX: Well, that's absolutely right.

And what you're seeing here is that not only, as the president says: Look, he's an integral part of my team.

But you're also seeing loyalty at work. This president is fiercely loyal to those who are loyal to him. Cheney has always said that he has never had any ambition beyond his current position -- the president strategy, the good thing about the -- Vice President Cheney's advice is that you don't read about it in the newspaper after he gives it. In other words, he's a trusted adviser. He's not, you know, out there, trying to make his own way.

And that is something that the president has really taken a certain bit of comfort from.

COOPER: All right.

MALVEAUX: Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne Malveaux.

Two very public votes of confidence today.

Appreciate it, Suzanne.

John Kerry apologized today for what he said about Iraq. He called it a botched joke. Others called it a slam against the troops. Republican political operatives, as you all know, were gleeful, to say the least. Democratic insiders wanted all this to be over yesterday, and Kerry to apologize sooner. Well, they were furious.

But it didn't take long for another politician to say something new, something for both sides to fight over.

Today, defending Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, here's what House Majority Leader John Boehner said in "THE SITUATION ROOM."


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But he's in charge of the military.

BOEHNER: But the fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president.


COOPER: Before long, top Democrats were issuing statements and demanding apologies about his comments.

"After the Bush administration's numerous failures in Iraq, to blame our brave troops is just wrong," said DNC Chairman Howard Dean. He went on to say, "Once again, Republican leadership is pointing fingers, rather than taking responsibility for their failures."

But much of the day was dominated by John Kerry's attempt to, once and for all, own up to what he says was a blunder.

CNN's John King has that.


(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An upbeat Democratic rally in Philadelphia -- Senator John Kerry asked to stay away, so as not to spoil the optimistic mood...



KING: ... or change the focus.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: It's a terrible distraction in the last couple of days. Bob Casey vs. Rick Santorum, not Senator Kerry -- Bob Casey vs. Rick Santorum.

KING: But much of the day's back-and-forth here in Pennsylvania and across the country was about John Kerry.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: What Senator Kerry said was inappropriate. And I believe we can't let it divert us from looking at the issues that are at stake in our country.

KING: The Massachusetts senator bowed to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats, angry he had given Republicans a late campaign gift.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Kerry said: "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform. And I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended."

At issue was this Kerry statement Monday night in California.

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.

KING: The apology was welcome news to Democrats like Iraq veteran Patrick Murphy, who's trying to defeat a Republican incumbent in the Philadelphia suburbs, and says the GOP was trying to use the Kerry statement to steer focus away from the big picture.

PATRICK MURPHY (D), PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Let's put it back in perspective. We have men and women that are dying every single day in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight. We need to hold this administration accountable.

KING: Kerry insisted he had mangled a joke, and meant to criticize President Bush, not the troops.

But it was the president leading a coast-to-coast Republican condemnation.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody who -- who is in a position to serve this country ought to understand the consequences of words. And our troops deserve the full support -- they -- of -- of people in government. (APPLAUSE)

KING: Pennsylvania offered a vivid snapshot of the fallout. This Philadelphia rally was wiped from Kerry's schedule, along with events in Iowa and Minnesota. And the senator now will stay off the midterm campaign trail, so that other Democrats don't face the swarm of questions Pennsylvania Senate candidate Bob Casey faced, after his campaign made clear Kerry was no longer welcome here.

BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: He didn't make a mistake like this president did, and like Rick Santorum did, by failing to ask the tough questions about Iraq.

KING: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said, someone with Kerry's experience should have been more careful, but predicted limited damage.

RENDELL: Forget what John Kerry said about the war in Iraq, and let's assume it was a stupid statement. Let's focus on what they have done in the war in Iraq.

KING: Top Democrats hope the apology ends the uproar, but worry it could impact a few of their top 20 House targets, the Kentucky seat held by Republican Ron Lewis one of them.

REP. RON LEWIS (R), KENTUCKY: I don't know how they do military training in Massachusetts...


LEWIS: ... but we have the best and brightest right here at Fort Knox, Kentucky.



KING: A short time ago, the vice president was out in Montana campaigning, and he decided to make one last joke about this, Anderson, most think will soon go away.

But let's listen to the vice president.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, Senator Kerry said he was just making a joke, and he botched it up.

I guess we didn't get that nuance.


CHENEY: Actually, he was for the joke before he was against it.


CHENEY: The senator has finally apologized, and rightly so.


KING: So, the vice president trying to have one last laugh here, Anderson.

The White House did put out a statement tonight, saying it considered Senator Kerry's apology the right thing to do, but a little late. And, on that point, we have rare agreement between President Bush and Democrats in this contentious election year -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, John King, thanks.

Sadly, as the debate and the finger-pointing continues, so does the death toll. Here's the sobering "Raw Data." The Pentagon said an American soldier was killed in Iraq today. Since the war began, 2,819 U.S. troops have died. More than 21,000 American service members have been wounded.

Numbers like that have become, of course, ammunition in the midterm election campaigns. And now, with six days to go, attack ads are flooding the airwaves.

When we come back, we are going to devote a lot of time, taking a close look at these ads, and find out why they work so well, from two of the best political strategists around, Democrat James Carville and Republican Mike Murphy.

Plus: ads by 527s, they're some of the nastiest kinds, but no one seems to be claiming credit for them. We will investigate who is really behind them.

And micro-targeting, have you heard about it? You should. It's how political parties know where you live, what you read. And we will tell you how they use that information -- next on 360.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, sexy. You have reached the live, one- on-one fantasy line.

NARRATOR: The phone number to an adult fantasy hot line appeared on Michael Arcuri's New York City hotel room bill while he was there on official business. And the call was charged to Oneida County taxpayers. Arcuri has denied it, but the facts are there. Who calls a fantasy hot line and then bills taxpayers?

Michael Arcuri.


NARRATOR: The National Republican Congressional Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this message.


COOPER: Well, that ad was produced by the National Republican Campaign Committee, as you just heard, basically accuses New York Democrat Michael Arcuri of billing taxpayers for a phone call to a phone sex line.

Phone records suggest that the call was actually a mistake, that an associate of Arcuri misdialed the number of a New York state government office. The last seven digits of the two numbers are the same.

Down and dirty? Without a doubt. Every election season, the ads seem to get worse. And, this time around, neither party is pulling any punches.



NARRATOR: George Allen, distracted by scandals.


COOPER (voice-over): They're everywhere, cluttering TV screens from coast to coast. People may hate them, but it's only getting worse.


NARRATOR: Bob Corker lives in a 30-room mansion.



NARRATOR: Claire McCaskill, a career of deception.



NARRATOR: Brown even voted against the death penalty for terrorists who killed passengers on trains and subways.


COOPER: In 1998, $650 million was spent on campaign ads. In 2002, that number jumped to $996 million -- this year's tally, $1.8 billion, and climbing.

And look at how the congressional campaign committees are spending their money. Ninety-one percent of Republican commercials are negative. So are 81 percent of Democratic commercials.


NARRATOR: Lies, distortions, and half-truths.


COOPER: The dirty little secret is that attack ads work, and we help.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, ANNENBERG PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, ANNENBERG SCHOOL FOR COMMUNICATION: The most powerful attacks are those in which the audience helps create the message.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six, eight, nine.


COOPER: Take the most famous political ad of all time, run in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson against his challenger, Barry Goldwater.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four, three, two, one, zero.



COOPER: That ad tapped into public concern that Goldwater would be trigger-happy with nuclear weapons.

HALL JAMIESON: One of the most powerful effects of ads isn't persuasion. It's reinforcement. An effective ad takes something you already believe, and deepens that belief.

COOPER: George W. Bush ran this ad against John Kerry two years ago.


NARRATOR: Kerry voted for the Iraq war, opposed it, supported it, and now opposes it again.


COOPER: It reinforced a growing perception then that the Massachusetts senator was a flip-flopper.


NARRATOR: John Kerry -- whichever way the wind blows.


COOPER: Some ads play into a powerful emotion: fear.


NARRATOR: These people want to kill us.


COOPER: Other ads hit the fear factor more subtly, using pictures and music.


NARRATOR: Dole attacks Clinton. Hold it. President Clinton cuts taxes for millions of working families.


COOPER: The fact is, people remember attack ads more than upbeat ones, because they hit you in the gut. And the media covers them like news events.

Remember Lyndon Johnson's daisy ad? Well, guess what? It only ran once. But reporters saw it and wrote about it a lot.

HALL JAMIESON: Ads that wouldn't have had any real impact on their own get their impact out of news.

COOPER: It is a vicious cycle of nastiness.


SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: I'm Mike DeWine.






PETE RICKETTS (R), NEBRASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Pete Ricketts. I approve this message.


COOPER: And there is no end in sight.


COOPER: Well, with just six days to go until Election Day, both parties are slinging plenty of mud.

In a moment, we will talk to a Republican strategist.

But, earlier, I talked to Democratic strategist James Carville.


COOPER: In terms of negative ads, in general, do they work?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I would -- the real truth of the matter is -- is, I have always thought that about 70 percent of them made no difference. And probably 15 percent work, and 15 percent backfire.

And, sometimes, you know, the -- the -- the people see the ads, and particularly more toward the end. They work less at the end than they do at the beginning. The most effective time to run a negative ad is at the beginning of a campaign.

They're particularly effective when you're introducing some kind of new information. I -- I -- I can't imagine that any negative ads at the end of this are -- are very helpful. I have recommended publicly that Democrats just abandon it, and go positive, that there's not much information you're going to inject right now that people don't know.

COOPER: But, in terms of money spent, it -- it -- most of it seems to be going to -- to what are termed negative ads, in some way or another, I mean, whether it's Republican or Democrat. I mean, they're both doing it in -- in big ways.

CARVILLE: Campaigns are like the government. They throw a lot of money away.


CARVILLE: I mean, I -- again, I -- I -- I think that it's kind of too late to alter the -- I think this election has a -- a texture. It has a course. And it's probably barrelling toward that.

But people have pretty formed opinions right now about the candidates in these bigger races. And they're not likely to change very much over the -- over the course of the next few days.

COOPER: So, in general, though, the -- the advice is what when responding to a negative ad?

CARVILLE: I think you have got to respond to it.

COOPER: To -- to respond quickly?


COOPER: You -- you do have to respond to it?

CARVILLE: Yes, absolutely.

And it's always been a theory of mine is, you don't leave information lingering out there. And I think President Clinton was probably the best counterpuncher maybe ever in -- in -- in American politics.

However, I think that, now, the -- the -- the -- and I don't know when it happened. It was probably four or five days ago. The tenor of this election got pretty much set. And it's very unlikely that new information is going to change that.

And, so, therefore, I -- I have recommended freely and publicly that the Democrats ought to get out of this couch -- get out of this position, and more toward articulating a couple or three things that you really want to do down the stretch.

I don't think negative -- again, the negative ads, to the extent that they were going to be effective -- and -- and, as I said earlier, 70 percent don't even matter. But the 15 percent that were effective were -- in my opinion, have already been run.

COOPER: Are things different? I mean, you -- you worked on the Clinton campaign back -- back in '92. Are things different than then? Are they more negative? Or does every campaign cycle, people say, oh, this is the most negative it's ever been?



COOPER: And I feel -- I have only been doing this a while, and I feel like, every race, I have heard that.

CARVILLE: You know what? That -- you're exactly right.

And we -- we -- we have -- I -- I have never been in a campaign that wasn't the most negative campaign that has ever been. I'm -- or I -- I haven't been in a campaign that wasn't the most important election of our lifetime.

COOPER: Well, that's the other thing.



COOPER: That's the other one I was going to say, that it's always the most important and the most negative it's ever been.


There -- there was a running back a while back from the Dallas Cowboys by the name of Duane Thomas who once observed -- he said, if the Super Bowl is the ultimate game, how come they play it again next year?


CARVILLE: And, you know, if this is the most important election of our lifetime, why are we going to have one in '08?


CARVILLE: I mean, they all are. And they're all the most negative.

The one thing we do know is that they're all more expensive.


CARVILLE: Now, that -- that, we can -- we -- we -- we -- we can quantify. And -- and -- and these elections are -- are getting increasingly expensive.

And -- and I don't think the Republican side, this has been a very inspiring election at all. And I -- I don't just say that as a Democrat. I think voters pretty much agree with me on that.

COOPER: James, good to talk to you. Thanks.

CARVILLE: Thank you.


COOPER: So, that's how James Carville sees it.

Our next guest works on the other side of the political aisle, longtime Republican media strategist Mike Murphy. He joins me now from Los Angeles.

Mike, good to have you on the program.



COOPER: It's interesting -- James saying that negative ads work, but earlier in a campaign cycle. You think they actually just work later, when people don't have time to really check the facts.

MURPHY: Well, it -- it all depends. I should probably attack James now, just to make it negative.


MURPHY: But the truth is, I agree with him. We have both been around this a long time.

And these negative ads now -- and nothing is ever a rule for everything, but these negative ads are increasingly self-parodies. They are bad advertising. They don't persuade anybody. And -- and campaigns often do them, because they can't think of anything positive to do.

And negative ads are easy. So, negative ads early can help define somebody in a way that will really affect a campaign. Negative ads late can be powerful if you don't respond to them.

The one thing that's really changed, I think, since -- since Carville and I started was, the press used to be more aggressive about blowing the whistle on ads that were over the top. Now they cover politics like sports. It's just scorekeeping. And you can get away with a lot.

The problem is, the voters are so used to this, I don't think it has a lot of impact on them. They don't punish people for running them. But I don't think they're that persuasive.

COOPER: So, they don't punish people by staying away from the polls. I mean, does it make people -- you know, people -- by the end of all of these elections, people are just kind of sick of seeing these commercials. Does -- does it make them stay away?

MURPHY: Well, it's like the old marketing joke about the market researcher goes up to the woman in the supermarket and says, you know, why do you buy Crest toothpaste? Because of our advertising?

And she gets indignant and said, no, I'm not manipulated. I don't believe in your stupid ads. You have no power over me. I buy Crest because I get 23 percent fewer cavities with MFP fluoride.


MURPHY: People complain about the process all the time, but they do essentially reward negative ads.

Now, I have to say, not all negative ads are all that negative. Campaigns are about differences. They're about contrasts. They're about choice. Political consultants joke that sometimes the only difference between a positive ad and a negative ad is, the negative ad is the one with the fact in it.

It's just there has become such a parroting, over-the-top, kind of stupid wave in negative ads now. I don't think they're effective. And I do think they turn people off to politics...


MURPHY: .. though, historically, turnout goes up in these tough races, not down.

COOPER: But there is a -- there is a kernel of truth in -- in some of these ads, I mean, like that -- that phone sex ad saying that the candidate called a phone sex line. There was a kernel of truth.

MURPHY: Right.

COOPER: You know, someone on his staff misdialed a number, apparently, and did call a phone sex line. But, after that, it just becomes fantasy land.


Often, they're -- they're not lies.


MURPHY: But that doesn't always mean they're true.

In other words, they -- they are kind of pejoratively true. They take, as you say, a little bit, and then they kind of run with it to create a bunch of conclusions that may not be true. And, then, really, nobody does anything about it, except the other campaign. That -- that -- the press used to blow a lot more whistles. Now, I...

COOPER: But that's the...

MURPHY: I see stuff on there I'm stunned by.

COOPER: That's the problem, though. If -- if it's right toward the end of a campaign, and the press isn't blowing the whistle on it, the candidate is kind of left with a decision, well, do I waste my last couple of days trying to counter this thing...

MURPHY: Right.

COOPER: ... or do I just ignore it?

MURPHY: And that's kind of the reason for a lot of those late ads.

They put the candidate in the box. Do you spend your last bullet playing defense, which is bad, or do you spend your last bullet playing offense? And, often, dumb campaigns, they escalate the tone in the negative ads, until it spins out of control.

I would say, generally, the strategy is the one Carville was talking about, which is, you counterpunch: That's a lie. You stink. And the real issue is your grandmother.


MURPHY: You try to pivot to your thing.

But it does tend to be a race toward the dumbest possible communication. But, again, I'm sorry to say that, in America, a lot of morons vote. It's a free country. And they often reward cartoonish campaigns.

COOPER: And we're seeing more and more of them.

Mike Murphy, good to talk to you.


COOPER: Thanks.

MURPHY: Thank you.

COOPER: Good to have you on the program. The attack ads in this election campaign may or may not be nastier than ever, but plenty are unaccountable. They can't even be traced back to an individual candidate. So, where do the ads come from, and who's paying for them? We will investigate that.

Plus: the ugly specter of racism in the ads -- some say an attack ad in Tennessee, it crossed that line.

Syndicated columnist Roland Martin joins us. And Niger Innis from the Congress of Racial Equality weighs in as well -- next on 360.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, he looks nice. Isn't that enough?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrorists need their privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I die, Harold Ford will let me pay taxes again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ford's right: I do have too many guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the "Playboy" party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd love to pay higher marriage taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada can take care of North Korea. They're not busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.



COOPER: That was a much talked about attack ad against Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. Critics -- some critics called it racist. And while it's no longer on the air, finding out exactly who's responsible for ads like that sometimes gets kind of murky.

CNN's Tom Foreman investigates.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Implications of sexual impropriety in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, sexy. You've reached the live one-on- one fantasy line. FOREMAN: Accusations of rampant sexism in Virginia, and in Tennessee the muck rake is buried in immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The INS found illegal workers on Bob Corker's construction site.

FOREMAN: Attack ads are blanketing the country. And those ads are often the work of tax exempt groups called 527's, organizations that are formed around political issues or points of view rather than candidates.

They're not officially part of any candidate's campaign. But 527's and the groups that operate them have become powerful forces known for the devastating ads some of them roll out right before elections.

Evan Tracey studies such things.

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: There's been a lot of cases, these 527's put messages out that might be too radioactive for the campaigns themselves. I mean, the best example of this is what Swift Boat Veterans and Progress for America did in 2004.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I served with John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

FOREMAN: The swift boat ads questioned John Kerry's Vietnam War record, his honesty, even his patriotism. And because the ads were backed by a 527, not George Bush's campaign, it was harder for any backlash to hit him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caught red-handed again.

FOREMAN: Five twenty-sevens can seem like attack dogs that no one controls. Five twenty-seven's raise money through contributions like candidates but don't have the same rules on how much they can take or what they have to tell you about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?

FOREMAN: Five twenty-sevens cannot directly coordinate their ads with candidates or parties. Such ads may be paid for my national political parties but, and this is important...

KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: I can't have anything to do with creating it, can't figure out when it's going to be on television, can't figure out when it's going to stop.

FOREMAN: ... and can't be directly blamed for what any of these ads say. And both Democrats and Republicans are doing it.

(on camera) People in both parties have said they really don't like all of these dirty attack ads. But of course, that seems to depend on whether or not they are being attacked at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a problem.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And that means the 527 attack dogs may be loose for a long time indeed.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: We'll have more on those dirty ads coming up. I'll talk to two guests, syndicated columnist Roland Martin, and Niger Innis from the Congress of Racial Equality about whether that ad that attacked Democratic candidate Harold Ford was race baiting.

Then, did you know that the car you drive says something about how you vote? So does your coffee, even your pets, apparently. Coming up, the information that politicians collect on you and how they use it.

Plus, tonight's "Shot", telling you how to get to Sesame Street? Well, that would be me. We'll explain, coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lincoln Chaffee has promised.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: I'm running as a Republican and that's the party I'll support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what does that really mean? It means more of the Bush agenda. Another attempt to privatize Social Security. A war in Iraq with no end in sight. More tax cuts for the wealthy. The Supreme Court could even overturn Roe versus Wade.

CHAFFEE: I'm running as a Republican, and that's the party I'll support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To change Washington, we have to change the Senate. The Democratic Senate campaign is responsible for the content of this advertising.


COOPER: All sides are doing it. That ad by a Democrat misleading because Chaffee is being run together with all Republicans. In fact, Chafee was the only Republican to vote against the Iraq war resolution in 2002. And he also supports abortion rights.

While you keep track of the politicians and their ads, as we're doing tonight, they're also keeping track of you, and where you live, what you drive, even what you eat sometimes. The information can be expensive, but on election day, it can also be priceless.

CNN's Randi Kaye explains why.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kovanna and Vic Tandon have two children, drink gourmet coffee, shop online and drive a Toyota Camry. May not mean much to you, but to Republicans and Democrats, knowing that could mean the difference between a victory and a loss.

KOVANNA TANDON, PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT: I don't know if it's necessarily such a good idea to categorize people and to say that they're Democrats or Republican based upon how many people are in their households or what they have a tendency to purchase.

KAYE: But the Tandons are categorized. They live in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, one of the most microtargeted areas in the country, according to consultant Alex Gage.

ALEX GAGE, TARGETPOINT CONSULTING: It's a way to manage your voters as individual customers.

KAYE: The Republican Party pays Gage millions to figure out voters' political DNA. The Democrats spend millions, too. The parties buy your personal data, just like any other company, but then cross reference it with your voting habits, such as which elections you voted in. Their computer spits out a voter profile, your political DNA.

TANDON: Big Brother may be matching.

KAYE: Microtargeters know what you read, what kind of coffee you drink, even if you have caller I.D. These tidbits help political parties customize their business and bring it to your front door. Did I mention microtargeters know where you live, too?

(on camera) Here in Folcroft, Pennsylvania, how do microtargeters know which house is Democrat and which house is Republican? Well, a Republican household's DNA includes a playset in the front yard, a minivan in the driveway, a computer that's a PC and more dogs than cats. Republicans also, according to microtargeters, watch football, not basketball. Oh, and they don't smoke.

Their neighbor, the Democrat, has a very different political DNA. They're more likely to have a hybrid car, an Apple computer and a platinum credit card. They shop at upscale stores, buy gourmet wine and cheese and own both dogs and cats.

(voice-over) Armed with tiny electronic databases, canvassers from both parties go door to door, pushing issues your political DNA tells them you care about.

If you've been identified as a likely opponent of the Iraq war, Republicans may target you with messages about other issues, while Democrats may focus on the war.

GAGE: We can build all sorts of models. And we can build models that say, well, here's some Democrat voters that happen to be socially conservative and are high turnout voters. So if you want to go in and try and pull out and generate some defection, you can do that.

KAYE: In a sense, the politician is choosing you instead of the other way around.

After the canvassers get a sense of which way you're leaning, they rush that information back to the computer, so you can be sliced and diced some more. Sound like dirty politics?

JACK HORN, PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT: I think it's dirty, I really do.

KAYE (on camera): Is it dirty? Is it disingenuous?

GAGE: I don't think so. It's about getting information. Now, is it propagandized? Absolutely. Is it, you know, put together and argued in the most persuasive possible way from each side? Absolutely.

KAYE (voice-over): Privacy rights advocate Lillee Coney argues microtargeting manipulates voters instead of sticking to the issues.

LILLEE CONEY, ELECTRONIC RIGHTS GROUP: It's an undermining of the fabric of personal information, literally buying and selling lives.

KAYE: Voters like the Tandons think politicians should spend a little more time examining their own DNA.


COOPER: This is fascinating. You're saying that, according to these guys, if you buy wine online, it means you're a Democrat?

KAYE: It means you're a Democrat, yes.

COOPER: And if you buy coffee in Starbucks, you're a Democrat, but if you buy it in Dunkin Donuts you're a Republican?

KAYE: Absolutely. They have this down to a science.

COOPER: Does this work? I mean, is this real?

KAYE: It seems to work, Alex Gage, microtargeter who was in this story who works with the Republicans, he says the Republicans wouldn't be spending millions on this if it didn't work.

In fact, the Bush-Cheney campaign years ago spent $3.5 million to produce these microtargeter models just for 18 states.

But now the Democrats, Anderson, also say that it works. They also spend millions of dollars on this. We spoke to a group called Working America, which is affiliated with the Democrats, and they said that they expect 70 percent of the people that they reach through microtargeting to actually vote their way as a result of the microtargeting.

COOPER: It is fascinating, and it is scary, too.

KAYE: It sure is.

COOPER: Randi, thanks. Randi Kaye.

Back to the rough stuff in a moment. Attack ads are one thing; race is another. Up next, we're going to talk to Niger Innis of the Congress for Racial Equality and syndicated columnist Roland Martin about the role race is or isn't playing in the 2006 vote and in ads.

And later, did President Bush and the conservative movement take a wrong turn? Coming up at the top of the hour, a CNN special investigation. "Broken Government: Where the Right Went Wrong". More 360 after the break.



BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: What the people depend upon government most to do is to make sure that they're safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's right. So how does Bob Corker explain the 31,000 911 phone calls that went unanswered, 31,000 unanswered 911 calls because of Bob Corker's failures as mayor. A law enforcement watchdog group says safety conditions worsened significantly under Corker's tenure.

And now Corker expects us to depend on him to keep us safe?

Democrats are responsible for the content of this message.


COOPER: That was another Democratic attack ad against Republican candidate Bob Corker in Tennessee's bitter Senate race. The ad is slightly misleading, because it attributes the number of missed 911 missed calls to Corker's failure as mayor. It doesn't say whether those calls even came in when Corker was actually in office.

That, however, is not the ad getting the most ink these days. We're talking, of course, about the anti-Harold Ford Jr. ad that some are calling downright racist. Like everything else in a campaign, it's probably open to debate.

So here to debate it is Roland Martin, syndicated columnist and executive editor of the "Chicago Defender".

And with us here in New York is Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality.

Gentlemen, thanks for being with us.

Looks like -- did we just lose Roland? We just lost Roland, so Niger, I'll start with you. Do we have Roland back? OK, we've got him back.

Let's talk about the ad about Harold Ford Jr.


COOPER: Do you think across the line, a lot of people saying the use of a white woman who looked almost like she was almost naked, saying, you know, met him at a "Playboy" ad -- at a "Playboy" party -- "call me". It played on stereotypes of people fearing black men dating white women?

INNIS: It wasn't only that ad. Of course, you're also familiar with the ad that has -- the one that introduces Harold Ford that has bongo drums in the background. When it talks about Corker, it has a symphony orchestra. You know, a little subtle hint.

I think the ad goes -- both ads go a little too far, and let's acknowledge that politics is a full-contact sport, and candidates like Harold Ford in Tennessee, Mike Steele in Maryland, Republican. Ken Blackwell in Ohio, also a Republican.

These candidates are being treated not like symbolic black candidates trying to make a statement. These candidates are being treated like real candidates that can win. And so consequently, when they get attacked, it's going to be in a full-contact kind of way.

But having said all of that, I think those ads go just a little bit too far and could backfire, actually, on Corker.

COOPER: You think they may backfire?

INNIS: I do. I think that Tennessee and the south and our country has come a long way since the bad old days of racism. And I think that the younger -- particularly the younger voters in Tennessee are not going to buy into that. That's why Corker has distanced himself from that ad.

COOPER: Roland, what do you think about the Harold Ford ad?

ROLAND MARTIN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: First and foremost, Anderson, we've come a long way, but we have not come that far. The reality is this was a very tight race.

All of a sudden Corker has opened up a six to eight-point lead over Ford. Can you attribute it to just this ad? Could, could not. But the fact of the matter is, the ad did go extremely far. It did skirt that edge and may have very well closed the line.

Now, from Corker's standpoint, he has distanced himself, but he has benefited from the ad.

But we touch on the emotions of people. When George Bush ran for president in 2000, the NAACP's 501 C-4 ran an ad talking about him likening him lynching James Byrd again, because he did not support the hate crimes law. And so Democrats want to grab the passions of African-Americans to vote against Republicans, namely those who are white. Republicans do the same thing. We can't forget Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt in 1994, the use of the black hand grabbing the job over the white hand and how that impacted, helping him beat Harvey Gant.

COOPER: I want to play another ad that is being run now, this one approved from the lieutenant governor Kerry Healey against Deval Patrick, an African-American running for governor in Massachusetts. Let's play that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If a teacher in your kid's school, or a friend or a co-worker, if anyone you knew actually praised a convicted rapist, what would you think? Deval Patrick did.

Here's what he said about brutal rapist Ben LaGuer.

DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: He is eloquent, and he is confident. There's no doubt about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's another question. Have you ever heard a woman compliment a rapist?


COOPER: Some are saying there's a racial component to this. The woman white, walking through a parking lot by herself.

INNIS: No, not at all. I mean, I saw a couple of those ads, and there's one ad where he accuses Deval Patrick of having a very -- again, politics being a full contact sport, accuses him of supporting a cop killer or letting off -- being soft on a cop killer.

Look, it's a tried and true method -- it's a tried and true method of the political parties to accuse one party of being soft on crime, and particularly the Republicans accusing the Democrats of being soft on crime. I don't think there's necessarily a racial component in that ad.

COOPER: Roland, what about it? The woman is white.

MARTIN: Well, and that's the whole point there, Anderson. I cannot recall when there is a black candidate running or you'll see an ad of a black woman in a campaign commercial speaking against a black candidate.

The reality is, people do respond to there being a white woman, a black candidate, a black inmate. We're talking also about Willie Horton.

And so to act as if we do not play on those emotions, I would disagree, as it relates to this. But, again, you can say it's true, but trust me; we do like to touch on race when it comes to elections. INNIS: I actually -- I'm going to disagree with my brother, Roland. You know, the Congress of Racial Equality is going to be engaged in the issue of economic empowerment. It's going to be doing financial literacy campaign, an education campaign around the country as we move up to 2008.

And the reason is we feel that the black community and the American community is moving beyond the issue of race and racism and being paranoid about racism to the issue of economic empowerment and the issue of economic liberty and choices.

And I think the political party, be it Republicans or Democrats, that successfully address that desire of those who are middle class and lower middle class, that are trying to climb up that economic ladder are going to be successful parties.

COOPER: Roland, very briefly.

MARTIN: And Niger -- Niger, I'll tell you point blank. If you listen to my calls on WVOE here in Chicago, they will tell you, we may be moving away from race, but we have not moved that far from race.

COOPER: Roland, Niger, appreciate you joining us. Thank you. Love to have you back on.

INNIS: OK, thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: In the next hour, more on politics in the CNN series, "Broken Government". Tonight, "Where the Right Went Wrong", where some say it went wrong, and the scandals and missteps and why some of the loudest criticism right now is coming from staunch conservatives. We'll talk to them in the next hour.

And for a complete change of pace, today's "Shot". A couple of hints, it features yours truly and, well, a Grouch. Next on 360.



CARROLL SPINNEY, VOICE OF OSCAR THE GROUCH: We now return you to our irregularly scheduled program.

COOPER: Thanks, Oscar. Appreciate it.

SPINNEY: Never thank a grouch.

COOPER: I'm also joined here by Dan Rather Not and Walter Cranky.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crumbiest news program on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a rotten tie.

COOPER: Thanks, grouches. Appreciate it.


COOPER: Quick look there at a childhood dream come true, my day on "Sesame Street". It's "The Shot" tonight.

But first, Erica Hill has the headlines in a 360 news and business bulleting -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, tough talk from the White House today, directed at Syria and Iran. Both countries have been warned to stop to trying to overthrow the government of Lebanon.

White House spokesman Tony Snow says there is glowing evidence that Syria -- Syria and Iran, with the help of Hezbollah, are plotting a coup.

Authorities have arrested a man in the wake of the Southern California arson wildfire that has killed five firefighters. They described Raymond Lee Oyler only as a person of interest at this time, however, not a suspect.

Today's arrest is on suspicion of setting another blaze back in June.

And in business news this Wednesday, reports showing economic growth is slowing more than expected put the brakes on Wall Street today, the Dow falling more than 50 points to close at just over 12,000. The S&P was down 10. The NASDAQ finished off 32, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Time for "The Shot". And I know you think the life of a television anchor is glamorous. All those people out there think that. And you know, that we all go to exciting locations and meet big stars. And sometimes, that is completely true. Like this example. Take a look at what happened to me today.


COOPER: You're supposed to just answer the question, Dan Rather Not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather not!

COOPER: Walter Cranky?


COOPER: I knew you were going to say that. I've been in some tight spots before, but nothing compared to this. Think, Anderson, what would Oscar do?

SPINNEY: Well, I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd answer the question myself.

COOPER: Of course. Why didn't I think of that?

SPINNEY: Yes, well, you've got a lot to learn about grouch journalism, Anderson.


COOPER: Right, I got to be on "Sesame Street" today. It's not going to actually be broadcast until, I guess, next September, but I thought we'd show you a little preview.

HILL: I can't wait. I love "Sesame Street".

COOPER: Yes, it was pretty cool.

HILL: That's got to be one of the coolest things you've ever done.

COOPER: It is among the very coolest things, yes.

HILL: I have to ask you one quick question.


HILL: Was Oscar's garbage can stinky?

COOPER: You know, I don't want to give away a lot of trade secrets. But it was pretty rank.

HILL: Nice. All right. Nice work, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks, Erica.

It was fun. That does it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. Tomorrow night, an exclusive interview with Michael J. Fox. He's been a lightning rod in this election. We'll talk to him about it. We'll give you a chance to ask him what's on your mind. Submit your questions on our web site now:

Stay tuned now for a CNN election special, "Broken Government". See you tomorrow.


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