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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Hanging Investigation; More Troops?; What's the Plan?; Working Together?; The Mormon Factor; Food for Thought; School Shooter Speaks

Aired January 3, 2007 - 23:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: ... in Iraq, especially the Sunni dominated Anbar Province. For them, the execution was a slap in the face, something the Shia dominated government now has to deal with.
An investigation is underway into who taped the hanging and who leaked it to the media. So too is the spin.

With that, here's CNN's Ryan Chilcote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iraq's government says it has detained the guard who captured these images of Saddam's last moments, and these sounds of Shiites taunting Saddam.

But a prosecutor who was in the execution chamber has pointed the finger at two government officials, saying, "I saw with my own eyes two officials filming the execution. Maybe a guard also filmed it secretly, but I did not see that."

Iraq's national security advisor was in the room. He denies allegations that he or any other government official shot the video. And he denies the way Saddam, a Sunni, was treated by the Shiites was unfair.

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAI, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: To be quite honest with you, in normal circumstances, in any execution case, you will -- you call for the family of the victims to come and witness the execution. And they can yell and shout and curse and all sorts of things.

CHILCOTE: The U.S. government had urged the Iraqis not to execute Saddam so quickly, fearing doing so as Iraq's Sunni Arabs prepare to celebrate the most important religious holiday of the year would inflame sectarian conflict.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was the Iraqi government itself that was responsible for the timing.

CHILCOTE: The U.S. military spokesman says the U.S. would have handled it differently; but once they handed Saddam over to the Iraqis, they lost control.

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE- IRAQ: And we had absolutely nothing to do with any of the procedures or any of the control mechanisms or anything from that point forward. CHILCOTE: Whatever comes out of the Iraqi government investigation may not matter much to Sunnis outraged by the Shiite slogans. There is no word the government plans on investigating that or punishing anyone for it.

Even before the cell phone video emerged, many Sunnis distrusted their Shiite-dominated government. Now, many have taken to the streets, blaming the Iraqi government, the U.S. and Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are denouncing this criminal act of this junior Bush and criminal Blair.

CHILCOTE: Here, angry Sunnis march right through one of Iraq's most prominent Shiite mosques in Samara, vowing revenge. That's the same mosque that Sunni extremists bombed last February, sparking the sectarian killing that has brought Iraq to the point of civil war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, the Saddam's two co-defendants were also sentenced to death, Ryan. How is this going to affect their execution?

CHILCOTE (on camera): Well, I think it's going to complicate those executions. As you say, those two co-defendants, including Saddam's half brother, have to be executed according to Iraqi law by the end of January.

The Iraqi government -- there were reports -- was suggesting that that execution could take place today. The Iraqi government is now saying that they want to do it soon, but they are not going to do it this week because of the holidays. They are saying that perhaps they will do it as early as next week. But one thing they are making very clear is they are going to handle those executions much more carefully than Saddam's execution was handled -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ryan, just looking at that video of the Sunni demonstration at the Shia mosque, we saw what looked like insurgents, guys with RPGs, their faces covered. Can they just freely walk around and show up? I mean, is there any law and order to stop something like that?

CHILCOTE: You know, they can walk freely in some places. There was no curfew in place in that city at that particular moment. But I think it speaks to the situation here in Iraq, which is there isn't always an Iraqi police presence, there isn't always an Iraqi army presence, and there is definitely not always a U.S. military presence on the streets, particularly in the Sunni heartland.

The most ironic thing, I think, is that those people you see in those pictures are described as moderate Sunni Arabs, the moderate strand of the insurgency that could be won over if the Iraqi government wanted to. That is appearing particularly unlikely now as you see in that video. A lot of them appear to be moving more and more toward militancy, which is really going to complicate things for this government and its ability to reach some kind of national reconciliation and bring Sunni Arabs into the fold -- Anderson. COOPER: And certainly, it seems this video has made it especially difficult for those so-called moderate Sunni Iraqis. Ryan, thanks for the reporting.

More now from Dr. Rubaie, the national security adviser. He initially told me about two hours after the execution that it all went entirely by the book. We spoke again earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You said that you were honestly proud of the way it was executed. It was done in a proper way in all international standards, Islamic standards and Iraqi standards, and you were proud of it. Again, talking about the execution, are you still proud of the way it was done?

DR. MOWAFFAK AL-ISTRABADI:-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: To the best of my knowledge and belief, and after I left the scene and came back, I was proud of what had happened because we played by the book. When the video was released and the -- or leaked, I saw some untoward and wrongdoings and this has to be addressed and we need to do something about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Why does all this matter? I talked about that with John Burns of the "New York Times."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Was the Iraqi government intentionally trying to mislead people about what happened? I talked to Dr. Rubaie about two hours after the execution as a witness. He said he was proud of the way it went through, that there was no humiliation, no attempt to -- no disrespect to Saddam Hussein. It was all carried out by the letter of the law -- Islamic, Iraqi law, international law. Even the video that they released, obviously was heavily edited. There was no sound in it. Were they intentionally trying to mislead people?

JOHN BURNS, THE "NEW YORK TIMES": Do you know -- you're asking me to peer into the shadows here of the Iraqi mind. We are confronted with this all the time. Did they believe that in the face of a reality that was so obviously at odds with that? Or did they make it up? I am afraid to say that it's the first of those two things, that somehow or other, they had perceived it like that because they wanted to perceive it like that.

We certainly saw a lot of that with Saddam Hussein. I mean, Saddam Hussein really believed that he was the benefactor of his people, really believed that the people loved him.

So, you know, one of the victims here in the last 30 years has been a grasp of reality. That's what I would guess. Of course, they had their own expedient reasons in those first hours to present this thing as having been done in a dignified fashion. And now they are trying to reconstruct it in the face of that video, which, you know, is it seems to me is whistling against thunder. We know what that video meant. We know what happened there with an absolute certainty.

We're being told today, for example, by Maliki's office that he really wasn't that dignified, that he might have been on tranquilizers. Well, he probably was. The American military, who escorted him to the execution block from the detention camp by helicopter, may well have given him some sort of medication and why not?

But who can deny looking at that that there was this kind of astonishing reversal, that this mass murderer at the end stands there with some dignity in the face of those taunts and this abuse. And that the people, the executioners and the overwhelmingly Shiite witness presence, representing the principle victim community -- I mean, people who died in the hundreds of thousands, they come across as being the bullying thugs. It's astonishing.

COOPER: And does it have real repercussions on the ground in Iraq? I mean, we've seen Sunnis demonstrating in Jordan and elsewhere. There are those who say, well, look, well Sunnis have plenty of other reasons to be angry and this just adds to it. But does it go beyond that?

BURNS: I think really the way we have to see this -- because these protests will probably die down. The mosaics that they are building of Saddam, the 30-foot high mosaics, the Baath party emblems that are being repainted on the walls up in the Sunni (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that will probably pass. But what will not pass is those images. And perhaps what we have to see here is that we really have seen into the dark soul of Iraq here.

And I certainly had the impression, watching today General Caldwell, the command spokesman, talking to other senior American officials that there has been nothing, and I mean nothing, certainly not since the Abu Ghraib scandal, that has been so dispiriting and disheartening to them as those events before dawn on Saturday morning.

COOPER: John Burns, thank you very much for your reporting.

BURNS: It's a pleasure. Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now the president's new plan for Iraq. He's expected to unveil it in a speech next week. CNN has learned that it will call for anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 more troops.

"CBS News" is reporting that military commanders have told the president they're ready for a surge that would put about 7,500 troops into Baghdad, 1,500 into Anbar Province, 11,000 would remain on standby outside the country.

More on that from CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emerging from his first cabinet meeting of the year, President Bush didn't even mention Iraq, but once again framing it as part of the war on terror.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The need to protect ourselves from radicals and terrorists. The needs to win the war on terror.

MALVEAUX: Instead, he tried to sell his domestic agenda to the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress.

BUSH: And together we have important things to do.

MALVEAUX: The president's Rose Garden message and rare op-ed in Wednesday's "Wall Street Journal," calling for bipartisanship reflects Mr. Bush's new political reality, that he needs to change course to get things done.

But even within his own party, the question remains, is he willing to change course in Iraq by possibly calling for more U.S. troops?

FRED KAGAN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I think it's very clear that the administration is very open to this possibility.

MALVEAUX: The conservative policy group, the American Enterprise Institute, has been lobbying the White House to order such a surge.

Insiders say the debate over the prospect has been fierce, but that the president is likely to send anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 additional men and women.

KAGAN: I don't think this is a question simply of stubbornness and refusal to admit defeat. I think this is a question of the administration recognizing that defeat will have terrible consequences.

MALVEAUX: But some warn if the president does sign off on more troops, it could be devastating.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: We already surged back in the fall. And what happened is more Americans died when we surged. The Iraqis were supposed to send six battalions into Baghdad along with the extra 7,000 American troops. Only two showed up. So when people say, well you got to train them. Well, it's not a question of training, it's motivation.

MALVEAUX: But the bottom line White House officials insist is Mr. Bush has not signed off on anything yet.

SNOW: It's not done yet. The policy is not done. He is still talking to people.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Those familiar with the president's deliberations over Iraq say it is likely he'll wrap up consultations on Friday. Then Monday, White House officials will put out courtesy calls to members of Congress to brief them about the president's plan. And then likely Tuesday or Wednesday, the president will present that plan to the American people in a national address. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: On Capitol Hill, a race against time. Up next, what the Democrats plan to accomplish in their first 100 legislative hours in power. Can they get along? How the new Congress and President Bush say they are going to try to work together.

Also, a story for anyone who wants to lose weight in the new year. Why one man is saying that bad food could actually be the answer to your battle with the bulge. We'll explain when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), INCOMING HOUSE SPEAKER: ... a Congress that will pass legislation the first 100 hours to make American people safer, make our economy fairer, make our Congress more honest and build a better future for all of America's children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that's Nancy Pelosi there, the Democrats talking about what's going to happen when they take control of the Congress. They're talking about a 100-hour legislative blitz. That's 100 legislative hours.

Their ambitious agenda includes limiting the influence of lobbyists, enacting all the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, as well as pressuring the administration to bring troops home from Iraq. The question is what can they really accomplish?

We'll take a look at that CNN's Senior Political Analyst William Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The new House Democratic majority is all set to hit the ground running. How far will they get? The Democratic majorities are small -- one vote in the Senate. They can't do much without Republican support.

THOM MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The reality is those items have to clear the Senate where super-majorities will be needed and then be signed by the president.

SCHNEIDER: A super majority? Democrats need the support of 60 percent of the Senate to bring an issue to a vote, and two-thirds of both the House and the Senate to override a presidential veto.

According to a recent CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, many items on the Democrats agenda are favored by voters from both parties. Allowing the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices, raising the minimum wage, cutting the interest rate on student loans, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, ethics reform.

A couple are favored by Democrats, but not Republicans -- maintaining social security without private accounts, funding embryonic stem cell research.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans favor reducing federal tax breaks for oil companies, and changing the rules so that Congress can create new spending programs only if taxes are raised or spending on other programs is cut.

Message to Democrats, be careful about taxing and spending.

Americans voted to end the partisan bickering. Republicans are complaining that by suspending regular House procedures, cutting off committee hearings and floor debate for the first 100 hours, the Democrats are using their new majority to run over them. The Democrats' response?

PELOSI: All of these have been vetted through the committee process. Some of them have even passed on the floor.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): To voters, the most urgent issue is Iraq. Are House Democrats running away from that issue? It's not on their 100-hour agenda, but it will be the focus of committee hearings. That may be where the real action is.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, Nancy Pelosi is the first female House speaker and the most diverse Congress in history. Here's a look at the raw data.

The 110th Congress will include record numbers of women, including 16 female Senators and at least 70 women in the house. African-Americans hold 42 House seats and one Senate seat, which is the most ever. The 110th Congress also includes a Muslim and two Buddhists, the first time anyone from either religion has served in Congress.

We will be in Washington tomorrow night for a special 360. We're calling it, "Keeping them Honest: The First 100 Hours," a look at some of the promises being made by Democrats as they take control of Congress. We're going to see how their decisions may impact your life. That's tomorrow, 10:00 p.m., Eastern, from Washington.

On the radar tonight, our keeping them honest report on lawmakers still collecting big pensions, even after felony convictions, are getting a lot of reaction on the 360 blog about it. Very few people in favor of this little known state of affairs. We found precisely one.

Todd, in Washington, wrote us, "Lawmakers should remain entitled to receive their pensions unless a judge says otherwise." Brad, on the other hand, in Crestview, Florida, has a single-word reply, "Says," he writes.

"Sickening," writes Kimberly in Greensboro, North Carolina. "Sickening but not surprising."

And from Liz in Evans City, Pennsylvania, "Only in America would we be dumb enough to give criminals money for being bad."

Well, late tonight we got reaction from Speaker Pelosi's office. It released a statement, saying in part, proposals to this effect will be considered by the relevant committees of jurisdiction in the 110th Congress. In other words, in this new Congress, they might try to do something about it.

We'll be keeping them honest.

Up next, more on the changes on Capitol Hill. It is out with the old, in with the new. But can the new Congress get along with President Bush?

And the new diet book that says bad food, like burgers and fries, may actually be good for you. We'll talk to the author, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We've all been entrusted with public office at a momentous time in our nation's history. And together we have important things to do. It's time to set aside politics, and focus on the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, President Bush, on the eve of a historic session of Congress. Democrats will be in control, as you know, for the first time in more than a decade. They are promising to play nice with the Republicans. Republicans are saying the same things in order to get things done. The question is, on Capitol Hill, the more things change, the question is, do the more they stay the same?

Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, now with that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I urge my colleagues...

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's out, she's in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next vote will be...

CROWLEY: He's gone. He's stepping up.

So it'll look different. And boy, they talk a good game about being different.

REP. RAHM EMMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: There there's going to be a new direction that we're going to take this country from top to bottom.

CROWLEY: All righty then, with all but a hearty high ho, Silver, Democrats are ascending to majority status, with a promise to be nice to Republicans and get stuff done.

STU ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: But if we're talking about big stuff, fundamental reform for social security or tax policy, that seems very unlikely. At the margins, sure. There are a couple popular Democratic items. But really changing our government and changing policy? That seems like a very hard call to me.

CROWLEY: Some of the fault lies not in themselves, but in the setup. A Republican White House, a Democratic House majority without enough votes to override a veto, a bear majority of Democrats in the Senate, a whole bunch of lawmakers running for president, and not much time.

JACKIE KOSZCZUK, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY: By the time we hit the summer season, the presidential hopefuls -- and there are at least a half dozen of those in the Senate, that campaign will be kicking up in earnest, and anything that might be able to move legislatively is going to be sort of frozen out by the politics of -- of 2008.

CROWLEY: Some things probably will fly -- increasing the federal minimum wage, lowering interest rates on student loans. Some 9/11 recommendations look good to go, and woe be to the politician who stands in the way of ethics reform. But social security and Medicare reform or a big change in health care? Not happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's going to be a whole lot of jockeying, a whole lot of moving around the chairs, but whether anything substantive comes forward I think is doubtful.

PELOSI: Because of you, we are making history.

CROWLEY: Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is kicking off three days of celebration, taking advantage of the spotlight Democrats have craved for 12 years.

BUSH: Thank you, all. We just finished our first cabinet meeting.

CROWLEY: He can't rain on their parade, but the president is not without a microphone.

BUSH: We need to reform social security and Medicare.

CROWLEY: Yes, well, good luck with that. But specifics were not the point of the president's Rose Garden appearance or his editorial in the "Wall Street Journal."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He basically says, hey, I am happy to work with the Democrats. You know, if you agree with me on a lot of these issues, we can work together just fine. Really, trying to put -- push back on Democrats and say, don't expect me to be the punching bag for the next two years.

CROWLEY: Let the jockeying begin and brace yourself for gridlock.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Joining me now is Presidential Advisor David Gergen.

David, good to have you with us. Do you think that's true? I mean, all this talk of working together doesn't last long?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENT ADVISER: Well, one is reminded of the -- what George Bernard Shaw said about second marriages. It's a triumph of hope over experience. And to believe that they actually are going to get along is really a triumph of hope over experience.

Experience says they will get along in the beginning. I think there's actually going to be more cooperation on Capitol Hill between Republicans and Democrats than there is going to be between Democrats on Capitol Hill and the president.

Early on, I think that they will get a few things done, as Candy Crowley said, you know, such as minimum wage and student loans and that sort of thing, and maybe stem cell research. Those are not big items. And Mario Cuomo (UNINTELLIGIBLE) papers today, called it -- that agenda, laudable, but liked. And I think that's the way most people see it.

When they get to the big items, they're going to have serious disagreements and not make much progress. There are two areas still, Anderson, where they could get breakthroughs. In immigration that was blocked by the House Republicans last time, that's an area for bipartisan agreement. And also on global warming, a bill that Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman have been co-sponsoring, that has bipartisan support. It's called cap and trade. It's a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It's a modest bill, but it's still an important step forward.

So there are some areas. I think the president may well emphasize energy next week or two weeks from now in his State of the Union. And that's a big, big area, tough area, but there are some openings there for tradeoffs if people would be willing to compromise. I think energy is a possible and education you could possibly see. So it's not bleak. But...

COOPER: So, if it's laudable, but light as Cuomo says, I mean, is that a conscious strategy by the Democrats to just, you know, pick some light things that they can actually make some progress on in their opinion and thereby score points early on?

GERGEN: I think, you know, this is the agenda they developed for the campaign, their first 100-hours agenda was something they put forward. And clearly they avoided the most controversial tasks and they really went for things that they thought were popular. Ethics reform is very popular. Stem cell research is now growing in popularity. Minimum wage enjoys 70 percent to 80 percent popularity.

So they didn't go for the big controversial things, the hard choices that are going to come. There are some really tough choices facing this country. And what you're going to mostly find now in the next couple of years is kicking the can down the road again, but each party trying to set up the agenda for our 2008 Donnybrook election.

COOPER: Obviously, there's a lot that could happen in Iraq one way or the other. If Democrats won this election on the war, are they making a mistake by not making that the prime focus right away? Or is that a wise move, let the president sort of do whatever he is going to do and see how that goes?

GERGEN: That's a darned good question. And they obviously are not trying to put Iraq front and center, except through the hearings process. I felt that they might get the job that they in effect passed a resolution embracing the Baker-Hamilton report, that that will be a fairly straightforward thing for the Democrats to do, get themselves on record. Instead, what they're going to be is mostly the beginner party, they're going to be, you know --if, as the president -- you reported here on CNN the president recommends 20,000 to 40,000 troops, he's going to face a lot of opposition from Democrats, but he's also going to face a lot of opposition within his own party.

So, it is -- Iraq, very quickly, and we'll see where we go next week, but Iraq is, as you know, is taking up all the oxygen of politics, so it's somehow -- I mean, it has made this whole Congressional effort, 100-hours agenda somewhat secondary, I think in the voters' minds. But, you know, they can still have a constructive beginning, but I think your question is a good one. Should they not have taken a tougher stand on Iraq than they have.

COOPER: We'll be talking with you in a moment about the candidates in 2008.

The man who's not a household name, but the latest Republican to announce he's running for the White House -- or considering, I should say, brings something else to the table. Coming up, how outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's faith could actually hurt his chances.

And a different subject, what would the food police say? We'll talk to the author of the new diet book that claims fast food is actually good for you. 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Mitt Romney added his name to the list of Republicans officially considering a run for the White House. On his last day in office as the governor of Massachusetts, Romney announced he is forming an exploratory committee, which allows him to raise money for a possible campaign. Now, if elected, he would be the first Mormon president.

CNN's Joe Johns takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Governor Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts State House and hit the road to the White House.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: We filed exploratory papers today, and so the process is moving forward on that front.

JOHNS: He's not a household name like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. But Romney's got one big advantage -- he speaks the language of the evangelical Christians, who wield big power in Republican presidential primaries.

MICHAEL CROMARTIE, ETHICS & PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Because he has, I think, probably done a better job than those two gentlemen in of laying out and articulating what his views are on the moral, social and cultural issues that most concern religious conservatives in America.

JOHNS: As he prepares his campaign, Romney has become increasingly outspoken against same sex marriage and abortion. But he wasn't always like that.

ROMNEY: We have to have a Senator...

JOHNS: When Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, he actually supported Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. He says his position has evolved, but that might not wash with conservative Christians, and neither might this...

ROMNEY: As a Mormon, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman.

JOHNS: He's joking of course, but Romney's Mormon faith could hurt him among the very evangelicals he's worked so hard to court.

CROMARTIE: Evangelicals have often felt that Mormonism is not a part of the true branch of historic Christianity. And that in fact it's a cult.

JOHNS: In a recent "ABC NEWS" poll, 35 percent of voters said they'd be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate. John F. Kennedy faced similar odds in his campaign to become the nation's first Catholic president. He was ultimately compelled to declare his independence from the Vatican.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do not speak for my church on public matters. And the church does not speak for me.

ROMNEY: The victory that John Kennedy won was not just for 40 million Americans who were born Catholics. It was for all Americans of all faiths.

JOHNS: Ironically, Romney's Mormonism became an issue in his unsuccessful 1994 campaign against President Kennedy's brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Then and now, the candidate insists his records speaks for itself.

ROMNEY: I find that evangelical leaders and conservative Christians around the country respect people who share their values. And we're on the same page when it comes to values.

JOHNS: Still, a Kennedy-type speech is probably in the cards. Romney's campaign says the governor expects to fully explain his religious beliefs and how they'd shape his political agenda.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mitt Romney is the latest person, of course, to explore a presidential run, but as Joe just mentioned, he is definitely not the most well known. Candidates that are already household names are topping the polls on both sides of the aisle.

For more on the 2008 campaign, let's talk once again with former Presidential Adviser David Gergen.

David, let's start with Senator Barack Obama. Today, the "Washington Post" ran this front page story on him because in his 2004 book, "Dreams from my Father," he talks about trying cocaine and pot during high school. Do those issues matter anymore?

GERGEN: I don't think they have anywhere near the resonance they once did. You know, I think the fact that he's got it out there on the public record, most commentators, and as far as I can tell, most voters are saying, you know, let's forget about that. The country has far more serious issues.

We've almost gotten to the point, Anderson, that if he didn't smoke marijuana, people think there must be something wrong with you. So I think he's going to be given much more of a pass on this than we ever would have experienced in the past.

COOPER: The "New York Times" is reporting that Senator Hillary Clinton has been in meeting after meeting with political consultants in order to fine tune her potential 2008 presidential campaign. What do you think she's listening for? I mean, what does one learn in these kinds of meetings?

GERGEN: Oh, I think this is much more about her laying out a path forward, you know, the various, you know, the pros and cons of what she's trying to do, and to tell people in effect, here's what I'm thinking about. What do you think? And it's a sounding board. But it's also a way to enlist people, to bring them in early, to make them feel they're part of a larger campaign.

Every sign points to the fact that within the next couple of weeks, Barack Obama is going to declare -- and around the same time period or shortly thereafter, that Mrs. Clinton is going to declare...

COOPER: You think Obama's in, definitely?

GERGEN: I -- every sign certainly suggests that. You know, he's been talking to his family about this in Hawaii during the break. But (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of him think he's definitely going to run. People I've talked to have had conversations with him came away, just as they have with Mrs. Clinton, feeling he's definitely in this.

And you're going to have a first tier of three in the Democratic Party at this point. Those two, plus John Edwards. And because John Edwards is doing very well in Iowa, unexpectedly well, and shows up pretty well in New Hampshire and seems to have found more of his voice this time than he had the last time around when he ran for vice president. So, that's going to be, of course, a dynamic, exciting race.

COOPER: So if you were Hillary Clinton, what do you do about Barack Obama?

GERGEN: There's nothing you can do. You can't attack him. And it's conceivable that she might even want him to be a running mate. So, I think to have any kind of vitriolic campaign, it would be a mistake.

She needs to emphasize what she believes in, where she's going, her experience, and most importantly, show that she is not sort of this heretin (ph) from the left, that around the country she's so easily stereotyped. Because, you know, there are -- there is a fear among people around her that the best day of her campaign is going to come the day she announces. And after that, she's just going to be under unmerciful attack, talk radio, the Rush Limbaughs of the world. And it's going to -- you know, they'll just make a pinata out of her.

COOPER: We're going to talk about the Republicans next time you are on.

David, appreciate it.

GERGEN: Sure.

COOPER: Thank you.

GERGEN: OK. Thank you.

COOPER: So, are you one of the millions of Americans vowing to go on diet as part of your New Year's resolution? Well, tonight, a look at food myths and why one author says greasy grub may actually be kind of good for you. And why dieting may make you fatter.

Plus, a deadly school shooting more than 50 years ago. One man's secret link finally revealed.

You are watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: So losing weight or eating healthier have got to be probably the two most popular New Year's resolutions and perhaps two of the hardest to keep.

Before you give up the carbs and sweets, though, you have to watch this interview. Barry Glassner is the author of the new book, "The Gospel of Food." And he says some of our ideas about what is healthy and what's not are just plain wrong.

Barry, appreciate you being with us. In your, you talk about America's obsession and actual fear of food. What do you mean?

BARRY GLASSNER, AUTHOR, "THE GOSPEL OF FOOD": Well, I think that food has become kind of a religion for many Americans. All societies have been that way to a certain extent, but you know, we've really gone to extremes with this.

We worship celebrity chefs, we use expressions like, I have been bad if I eat a creamy dessert or I've been good if I stick to my diet. So, I think we get pretty extreme on these things.

COOPER: But that stuff isn't good for you, right?

GLASSNER: Certainly, if you eat a lot of it, it's not good for you. And it's certainly the case that most of us Americans should eat more veggies and more fruit and things like that. But you know, if you deprive yourself a lot, you create new problems for yourself.

COOPER: How do you mean?

GLASSNER: Well, if you deprive yourself, especially of enjoyment -- if you take the enjoyment out of the meal, then you're just going to be hungry for that kind of stuff. And a meal that you don't enjoy, and lot of meals that you don't enjoy, aren't going to do you much good. There are even studies showing that's true physiologically, not just emotionally.

You get more nutrients out of the meal when you enjoy it. So it's important to have some enjoyment in the meal. That's something that a lot of countries put right in their official dietary guidelines, but we don't.

COOPER: So you're telling people not to sort of constantly diet?

GLASSNER: Oh, constantly dieting tends to be bad for most people. What's better is to eat well, enjoyably and moderately over the long term.

Yo-yo dieting, going on and off of diets, is what a lot of Americans do, and it's great for the diet industry, but it's not very good for the health of the population.

COOPER: You say there are a lot of food myths out there, a lot of half truths, and there's a lot of guilt about food. What are some of the myths and half truths? GLASSNER: You know, if you look over time, what you find is that we go through phases with this. We go through what I call the gospel of naught. You know, the notion that a meal is better if it lacks all kinds of bad things. You know, the worth of a meal depends on how little salt or fat or sugar or whatever is in it, rather than the good things about it. And that, you know, that's also a myth.

Certainly, we need to be moderate, we need to be careful, but we also need to enjoy what we are eating.

If you look over time, you know, eggs, not long ago were demonized. Now we recognize them for what they are, they are great sources of protein. Many, many vitamins. They go well with all sorts of other foods.

So we go through phases with these things, and I think we need to be skeptical along the way.

COOPER: So someone sitting at home watching this, what should they do to lose weight or what should they do to become more healthy?

GLASSNER: If they want to become more healthy, they should get consistent exercise, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, eat well, eat moderately over the long haul, be very cautious about any kind of fad diet, and all sorts of fads of all kinds that come down the pike.

COOPER: And fast food, is that OK?

GLASSNER: Fast food in moderation is OK. I am certainly not an advocate for fast food diet. If you eat a lot, you're going to have problems. I'm a big supporter of the slow food movement. But I also think that fast food has a real place in our society. We're a fast- paced society. And also, where else, you know, for a few bucks can you get a complete meal? At small restaurants, at mom and pop restaurants, and at some of the fast food places...

COOPER: So the key is moderation?

GLASSNER: Eat in moderation, and I think all of these have a place.

COOPER: The book -- it's a fascinating book, "The Gospel of Food." There's a lot we didn't get to.

Barry Glassner, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

GLASSNER: Thanks.

COOPER: Up next, echoes of history still being felt today. For more than 50 years a man held onto a dark secret, and one that shocked his family and friends and many more. You'll be surprised, too. The story, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, a student is in custody after shooting a fellow student to death at a Tacoma, Washington high school. The motive for the shooting is unknown.

There have, of course, been dozens of shootings and victims in the past few years.

But there's a shooting on a college campus that has a lot of people talking these days.

CNN's Gary Tuchman explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than three decades Bob Bechtel has taught at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is a psychology professor, a well-respected scholar in this community.

Are you ashamed of what you did?

BOB BECHTEL, KILLED A CLASSMATE: Oh, worse than that. Ashamed is too -- I mean, it's loathsome. I mean, this is just terrible.

TUCHMAN: Professor Bechtel has kept a horrifying secret about his own college days. The year, 1955. The place, Pennsylvania Swarthmore College. Bechtel claims he was bullied by classmates in his dorm.

BECHTEL: I just decided to go home, get my guns and wipe them out.

TUCHMAN: A documentary called, "The Killer Within," a film about Bechtel's secret, complete with the reenactment of his 1955 shooting spree, will soon be released.

BECHTEL: I had a Mossberg .22 caliber, a lever-action rifle, and I had a -- what was it, Smith and Wesson K-22 masterpiece revolver. And then I fired without aiming. And I heard this noise, and I knew I had -- see, it is funny, I knew I had killed him, you know, I wished I hadn't, and I just said, OK, that's it.

TUCHMAN: Bechtel had killed 21-year old Holmes Strozier as he slept. He continued firing additional shots into a door in the hallway. He then decided he was...

BECHTEL: I was going to turn myself in, get electrocuted, be done with it.

TUCHMAN: But that didn't happen.

(On camera): The Sanity Commission ruled that you were incurably insane.

BECHTEL: That's right. Incurably insane.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): His sentence, life at a state run sanitarium. The family of Holmes Strozier was relieved Bechtel would never again be on the street. But five years later, his brother, John Strozier, recalls visiting home and being handed a newspaper clipping by his father.

JOHN STROZIER, BROTHER OF HOLMES STROZIER: He just gave it to me to read. I read it. And he just said, don't ever tell your mother.

TUCHMAN: The 1960 clipping said Bob Bechtel had been freed, that he was cured. His legal obligations complete.

Bechtel deiced to hide his past, except to the woman he met and married. But that all recently changed when he decided to tell his daughter, Carrah, who was featured in the documentary.

CARRAH BECHTEL, DAUGHTER OF BOB BECHTEL: So I worry about him in the sense that his character will be maimed forever and that his dying legacy will not be that he was a loving, amazing father. It will be that he was a killer.

TUCHMAN: Carrah Bechtel convinced a filmmaker that her father's story can help people understand bullying and school shootings. The film shows the professor breaking the stunning news to students and to family members.

B. BECHTEL: I love every one of you, every single one of you. And what I am going to say to you is going to be very troubling. I killed another student.

TUCHMAN: Bob Bechtel is now quite public about his past.

B. BECHTEL: The bullies always pick on someone who can't fight back. And once people saw that I was paralyzed, this was an attraction.

TUCHMAN: Bechtel was diagnosed himself as a victim of post- traumatic stress disorder. He says he regrets killing Holmes Strozier, but he doesn't come across as a particularly sympathetic man.

(On camera): I mean, you're not very emotional about what happened back then.

B. BECHTEL: Well, I've had 50 years to adjust to it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But this man cannot get used to it.

STROZIER: The victim is my brother. It's the one he killed.

That's Holmes and that's me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): John Strozier says his brother, who would have been 71 years old now, was a wonderful person, the star of the family.

STROZIER: He probably more than anything else was a leader.

TUCHMAN: Strozier never knew what happened after Bechtel's release. He tried not to think about it, until another newspaper headline caught his eye.

STROZIER: I found out about it and I saw the headlines in the paper, "I Killed my Tormenter." I mean, it was just unbelievable.

TUCHMAN: One thing Strozier is sure of.

STROZIER: My brother was not a bully. So he's taking this sort of example of murder and then using it as an excuse to explain why he did this. And I think that is just absolutely outrageous.

TUCHMAN: I asked Bob Bechtel if the man he shot was one of the people he claims bullied him.

B. BECHTEL: I kind of think so, but I'm not really sure.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But you don't know?

B. BECHTEL: See, I think they all were.

TUCHMAN: I mean, he was a random victim of your...

B. BECHTEL: Yes. I -- I assumed that they all were. OK? That they were all on that floor, they were all in on it.

STROZIER: He was not bullied at Swarthmore. He was not harassed at Swarthmore.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): In the movie, Bechtel's daughter shows she is still having a difficult time getting over the shock of the secret.

C. BECHTEL: He had planned a mass murder. I mean, he planned to kill everyone. He was going the kill everyone in the dorm. And thinking about this now, it's like, my God, he would have been like one of the greatest mass murderers in America's history, and that just seems so weird to me that that is not my father, you know.

TUCHMAN: As it is, he did kill a fellow student. And by doing that, became one of the first well documented school shooters. In addition to the movie, Bob Bechtel is writing a book he is titling "Redemption."

B. BECHTEL: When I was young, people used to get me to cry for amusement. So I am not interested in crying anymore.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, up next, a potential clue in the search for who killed Denver Broncos' cornerback Darrent Williams. The latest on the investigation, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Randi Kaye joins us right now with a 360 bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson.

Surprising news out of Washington tonight. John Negroponte has resigned as national intelligence director. He took the job back in 2005. He will now move to the State Department as a deputy secretary.

Retired Admiral John Mike McConnell is expected to be nominated to replace him. McConnell served as director of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1996.

Police in Denver say the investigation into the murder of Denver Broncos' cornerback Darrent Williams is now focusing on finding an SUV that was at the crime scene. Investigators say they are looking for a white Chevy Tahoe with Colorado plate 665-OBS. The SUV is reportedly registered to Brian Hicks, who was serving time on attempted murder charges. Williams was shot and killed early New Year's day while riding in a limo with several friends.

Rescuers are looking for thousands of cattle trapped by heavy snow and high drifts in southeastern Colorado. About 30,000 cattle were left stranded without food by back-to-back blizzards.

And a British teenager has become the youngest person to sail solo across the Atlantic Ocean; 14-year-old Mike Perham reached Antigua today in his 28-foot sailboat, called the Chiki Monkey. Perham set sail from Gibraltar November 18. He made only brief stops fro some repairs in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde (ph). That's a smooth talking 14-year-old to get permission from his parents to do something like that.

COOPER: He sounds like a chiki monkey to me.

KAYE: He sure does.

COOPER: I love that he named the boat the Chiki -- Chiki Monkey.

KAYE: Pretty cool.

COOPER: Yes, I think -- didn't what's his name (UNINTELLIGIBLE), anyway, Randi, thanks.

Want to help you -- or help us -- have you help us keep them honest. If there's a wrong that needs to be set right in your community, go online, tell us about it. The address is cnn.com/360.

"LARRY KING" is next, with a look back at the life of the Godfather of Soul James Brown.

I'll see you in D.C. tomorrow.

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