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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Interview With Iraqi National Security Adviser; Congress Passes New Iraq War Funding Bill

Aired May 10, 2007 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
We begin tonight with breaking news: House Democrats taking another shot at the president's Iraq policy. By a vote of 221-205, they have passed a bill funding the war, but only through July. After that, President Bush would have to report back on the security situation and the Iraqi government's progress, in a word, at governing.

But the signs are everywhere lately that, one way or another, the country is quickly entering some kind of endgame on Iraq. Terms of success are being redefined downward. The administration's tough line with Congress appears to be crumbling. And support for the president is eroding, even among some Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): The pressure is mounting on the president, and he knows it.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Time's running out, because, the longer we wait, the more strain we are going to put on the military.

COOPER: The same could be said for his own party. Republican lawmakers are growing weary of the war. And, at a meeting at the White House, several let the president know it.

REP. RAY LAHOOD (R), ILLINOIS: He listened very carefully. And I think he was a little, I don't know if surprised is the right word -- probably -- maybe sober. The fact is that, you know, I don't know if he's gotten that kind of opinion before in such a frank and no- holds-barred way.

And -- but he was very sober about it, and he listened very intently.

COOPER: Sources tell CNN that one Republican, Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, told the president, if things don't turn around soon in Iraq, his district will prepare for defeat.

The president called it a good exchange.

BUSH: I spent time talking with them about what it meant to fail and what it means when we succeed. They expressed their opinions. They obviously were concerned about the Iraq war, but so are a lot of other people.

COOPER: At the Capitol, the top Republican in the House denied any hint of desertion from the GOP.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: There are no fissures in our conference. We had a group of members that went to the White House to talk to the president about the war on terror, to talk about Iraq. It was a very healthy meeting.

COOPER: The president is also under fire from three former generals, who are making political ads for VoteVets.org that attack his strategy in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, VOTEVETS.ORG AD)

GENERAL JOHN BATISTE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps.

I left the Army in protest in order to speak out.

Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Tonight, at a Republican fund-raiser, the president made it clear what he believes is at stake.

BUSH: I don't want it to be said 50 years from now, what happened to America in 2007? How come they forgot the lessons of September the 11th? How come they couldn't see the impending dangers facing a generation of Americans?

I want you to know I see the impending dangers. I understand the consequences of this historic moment. And we will succeed in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That was the president at a fund-raiser.

Tonight, he also warned that Democrats were focusing on timetables and benchmarks, instead of the consequences of pulling the troops out too soon. That is red meat for the faithful. You heard the crowd applauding.

And, on that score, Mr. Bush has Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, on his side as well. Dr. Rubaie has been in Washington most of this week, trying to get Democratic lawmakers to back off their calls for timetables and for withdrawals. He hasn't had any notable success, however.

I spoke with Dr. Rubaie earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Lawmakers here want Iraq to meet benchmarks, things like security, oil revenue sharing, political reform. Are there any benchmarks that you would accept?

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, we have accepted all the benchmarks not being imposed by the United States government. But we have imposed these. And we have chosen to -- these benchmarks on our government.

And I can tell you, the hydrocarbons law is going to be ratified soon, God willing. And, also, the budget is going to be executed well before its time. And there is a very, very serious discussion going on, on the de-Baathification and replacing with it with the accountability and justice law.

There are a lot of serious discussion going on for the constitutional reform and constitutional review. So, things are happening. And we need to walk this last mile of this long marathon. And we need the helping hand. We need the United States' support to be with us, because it's pivotal.

COOPER: But, Dr. Al-Rubaie, as you well know, there are a lot of people who are going to be listening to you who simply don't believe what you're saying. You say we're in the last mile. This time last year, you said that most U.S. troops could return home by the end of 2007.

You also said that the Iraqi security forces could take over more responsibility for the security in Baghdad, that the U.S. troops could go out outside of Baghdad, that U.S. -- that Iraqi troops knew Baghdad better.

Clearly, that didn't work in the past. Those statements turned out not to have been accurate. Why should Americans believe you now?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, I'm not asking anybody to believe or disbelieve.

But I'm telling the truth from the -- from reality on the ground. And this is -- a lot -- a number of people, a large number of people, they don't -- do not understand the nature of the fight, the nature of this war.

This is an ideological war. This is a -- a long-term war. This is a war on a global scale. This is a war, if it gets out of control, it will spill over to Europe and America in no time. And it will disturb the oil flow in the Gulf.

This is a war we cannot afford not to -- not -- but to fight it. And I think it -- it's wrong to pull out. And it's -- you need to give it its time. And this enemy is not a simple enemy. This is a very sophisticated, amorphous enemy. It changes its shape, its form, its tactics always. And it can hit and it can attack anywhere and everywhere. COOPER: You're also saying that Iraq needs time, that this is a long-term thing. You have also told the lawmakers in Washington that Iraq needs help with creating an air force and even a Navy.

That -- many Americans who hear that just think, at a certain point, the clock runs out, that it has been many years so far, and there have been many promises and many -- you know, for years, we have been hearing that the Iraqi security forces were accelerating the improvements of the Iraqi security forces.

And, yet, we don't see changes on the ground. We don't see that improvement. Are you frustrated?

(CROSSTALK)

AL-RUBAIE: Well, the achievements, a lot, I can tell you, over the last four years.

And what happened in Iraq is not something minor and simple, like a coup d'etat or a revolution. What happened is a hurricane. What happened is a huge, major shift, from the old order of 1,000 years of persecution, of dictatorship, of religious supremacy, of prosecuting minorities, to a completely new order, which is called democracy, human rights, accountability, and transparency, and all this.

This paradigm shift needs some time. You cannot -- it needs strategic patience. And it needs time. You cannot fit this major shift and the strategic objectives in the election cycle of Washington. You cannot do that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: How come is it that the insurgents, that the -- whether it's al Qaeda terrorists or whether it is sectarian groups who use violence to achieve their objectives, they don't seem to need more time to become more efficient. They don't seem to need more time to learn military training.

They seem to be doing pretty well with the enthusiasm that they have now. How come Iraqi troops, government troops, need so much time, when the insurgents seem to have whatever the training that they need?

AL-RUBAIE: I think we made a remarkable progress over the last three years.

In June 2004, we had only one battalion in the Iraqi army. Now we have 11 divisions. And, in June 2004, we did not have policemen. We did not have national police, local police, an intelligence service. We didn't have anything.

Now we have Iraqi security forces, several hundreds of thousands of them. And what we need, we need some refinements, some tuning. We need some training. And we need some equipment and logistical support. We need to build the system within the Iraqi security forces. COOPER: Right, but the only people who don't seem to have military training...

AL-RUBAIE: In a very short period of time, we're going to be self-reliant.

And we're building our self-reliance strategy. And I think it's not it's not going to be long before we reach to the self-reliance stage.

COOPER: You -- clearly, you believe this is an important time for your country. You believe that Iraqis need more time to show progress, that America must give Iraq more time.

How is it possible that the Iraqi parliament was considering taking a two-month vacation this summer? Does that send the right message to U.S. troops, who are dying on the streets of Baghdad?

(CROSSTALK)

AL-RUBAIE: This is the annual recess of the -- of 10 months' work. But, even that, the government managed to apply some pressure on the council of representative, and they're canceling July recess. And they probably will take August only. And we are even working on August to -- for them to take only one week in August.

COOPER: So, they may take still -- they still may take an entire month vacation?

AL-RUBAIE: They may well take -- well, we're working on August. And we would like them to take one week in August only.

COOPER: Again, there -- as you know, there's great skepticism in the United States about what is happening in Iraq and about statements made.

I just want to ask you about a past statement you made. You said that -- after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former al Qaeda leader, was killed in June of last year, you said U.S. and Iraqi forces uncovered a huge treasure of intelligence and documents regarding Qaeda.

And you said -- and I quote -- "The beginning of the end of al Qaeda in Iraq, that's what it was. Now we have the upper hand. We feel that we know their locations, the names of their leaders, their whereabouts, their movements, through the documents we found during the last few days."

In a speech earlier this month, President Bush said Iraq remains the central front -- you just said it -- of al Qaeda's global campaign, and they're behind the spectacular attacks in Iraq.

How is it possible that al Qaeda has remained so strong, when, in the past, you were saying you thought they were in their final days?

AL-RUBAIE: This is an organism, if you like, al Qaeda, a very strange organism. And it is -- it regenerates. And it generates a new generation of terrorists. And we need to figure out, one way or another, how to fight this enemy.

COOPER: Just one more question.

Back in early 2006, in December -- or, actually, the end of 2006, in December, when you were calling for U.S. troops to pull back outside Baghdad, to have U.S. -- to have Iraqi troops take the lead inside Baghdad, you said that the concern was that Iraqi troops would become too dependent on American troops.

You said -- quote -- "We will develop what I call dependency syndrome on coalition forever and forever and ever."

That's precisely what Democrats are now saying is happening. And that's why they say a withdrawal, or a timetable, or strong benchmarks with teeth are essential, or else the Iraqi forces are just going to be dependent.

Why do you no longer -- are you no longer concerned about dependency?

AL-RUBAIE: No, I don't think we're concerned about dependency, for a very simple reason, because we have a very clear path to -- for progressive -- and assuming responsibility more and more, by the day, and taking...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But what changed? What changed, because you were concerned about dependency last year? Why not now?

(CROSSTALK)

AL-RUBAIE: Take, for example, in Baghdad.

Last year, Baghdad was under the command of an American general called General Thurman. And now Baghdad is under the command-and- control of general -- an Iraqi general called General Abboud. And he is commanding and leading and controlling 2.5 Iraqi army division and 11 or 13 Iraqi police, national police, brigades.

So, now Baghdad is under the command and control of an Iraqi command.

COOPER: So, you're saying Iraqi forces control Baghdad?

AL-RUBAIE: And there's a huge shift. There's a sea shift from last -- last year to this year.

COOPER: But, I mean, to Americans, it seems like the sea shift is more U.S. troops in Baghdad now, in these joint units out in neighborhoods. If Iraq is -- if Iraqi troops are so much in command, why are there now more American troops in Baghdad?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, we need -- we need the upsurge -- we needed the upsurge, and we need the upsurge to clear some areas of these neighborhoods and to hold them and to build them. And that's why it will always be shortage of troops. But, when we have this upsurge, let's the best use of it. And let's clear these areas and hold it and build it.

COOPER: Dr. Al-Rubaie, appreciate your perspective. Thank you, sir.

AL-RUBAIE: Thank you very much, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: An in-depth interview with Dr. Al-Rubaie.

Aside from the House vote tonight, it's been a difficult day for President Bush. He's losing a key friend in the war effort. Today, Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, announced he will step down next month, paving the way for his Labor Party colleague Gordon Brown to succeed him.

We have more on that now from CNN's John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We came to know him as a friend of Bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How goes the get-acquainted session?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good, John (ph). Thank you.

KING: This bond was more of a surprise.

BUSH: We both use Colgate toothpaste.

(LAUGHTER)

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They're going to -- they're going to wonder how you know that, George.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But, especially after 9/11, the Bush-Blair partnership was built on a shared belief that a muscular world view is critical to fighting Islamic extremism.

BLAIR: And I say to you we stand side by side with you now, without hesitation.

KING: Turning from Afghanistan to Iraq would prove costly. Being parodied as Mr. Bush's lapdog and poodle are images Mr. Blair won't miss as he yields the stage, and U.S.-British relations take a new turn.

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: He associated himself with a historical mistake in Iraq, and I think that's, more than anything else, going to color his legacy.

KING: Likely successor Gordon Brown is described by friends as unabashedly pro-American, but much more cooler in his personal affinity for Mr. Bush.

NILE GARDINER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: President Bush lose his closest soul mate on the world stage, Tony Blair. And this is, without a doubt, a major blow. Gordon Brown is far less likely to adopt a proactive, hawkish stance on the global world stage.

KING: The Bush-Blair relationship was not without its tensions.

(on camera): The prime minister, for example, complained Mr. Bush was too timid in dealing with global climate change, too unwilling to talk to Iran, and too hesitant to take a firsthand role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(voice-over): But most of the differences were aired behind closed doors. Life without Tony Blair as prime minister could mean an occasional dose of public criticism from 10 Downing Street.

GARDINER: Gordon Brown is going to be under intense pressure from within the Labor Party to adopt a more anti-American position.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KING: Ten years after bringing "New Labor" to power, Mr. Blair has worn out his welcome in Britain, but will leave office wildly popular in the United States.

HAASS: In many ways, his politics were very American. He's a very religious figure, which is not something most European leaders are. He's pro-American, again something not common. He was willing to intervene, seen as a man of principle. Plus, he's British. All these things in the United States redound to his favor.

KING: In fact, 70 percent of Americans, in a new CNN poll, view the prime minister favorably, almost double the approval rating of the president, with whom he stood shoulder to shoulder.

John King, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, that job approval rating, now ranging anywhere from the high 30s, all the way down to 28 percent, depending on which polls you believe, puts President Bush in a box, especially when it comes to Iraq.

Coming up next: David Gergen on how the president may try to get out of that box.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): War and politics and cutting a deal. DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Are we making enough progress on the battlefield? And is the Maliki government in Iraq made enough progress to justify going on?

COOPER: Under siege from Democrats, put on notice by Republicans, how far will the president have to bend to get money for the war?

COOPER: Also tonight, a campaign commercial one presidential candidate hopes will have you laughing all the way to the voting booth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RICHARDSON FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor of New Mexico.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The punch line in "Raw Politics" ahead.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Under pressure, indeed.

Tonight, the president said leaving Iraq would embolden al Qaeda, embolden Iran, and threaten future generations of America. And, while he remains firm, patience over the war is growing thin.

And it's not just from Democrats, who, just a few hours ago, passed the new Iraq spending bill. Republicans are also worried, worried about what the White House policy is doing to their party. Clearly, the stakes are high for everyone.

I spoke about that earlier with former presidential adviser David Gergen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: David, not only is Tony Blair one of Bush's staunchest allies in the war in Iraq. He's stepping down. You also have members of Bush's own party expressing concerns and frustrations about the pace of the war in Iraq.

How isolated is this president right now?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, I think he's -- he's been very isolated.

But he finally got back in the game a little bit today by saying that he would concede on the issue of timetables. That's a big shift in position, for the administration to accept legislative timetables.

But I think, overall, Anderson, what we're seeing is what we talked about last week. And that's the emergence of a consensus on both sides, and in Congress and in the White House, that, probably, Congress will go ahead and fund this, put some benchmarks in. They will fund it until September.

But that's going to be the critical month, when there's going to be a resolution by both Democrats and Republicans on two things: Are we making enough progress on the battlefield? And has the Maliki government and Iraq made enough progress to justify going on?

If either one of those tests fail, that's when we're going to see the moment of starting to disengage. Republicans are -- clearly do not want to go over the waterfall with this president, if, by September, things haven't cleared up.

COOPER: That move in parliament, though, at -- very much at odds with what Iraq's security adviser, who is in Washington now, who we just talked to, Dr. Rubaie, wants, and is telling lawmakers about -- that any kind of a timetable is not a good idea.

He doesn't seem to be having much success convincing any of the Democrats, certainly, that he's talked to not to push for -- for a timetable.

GERGEN: Well, that's right.

And the president himself would prefer not to have that kind of September timetable. But I think he's going to be -- I think his hand is being forced.

You know, that delegation that went to see the president this week from the Republicans was -- it was not exactly what you call a Goldwater moment. I was there in the Nixon administration when Barry Goldwater came to see Richard Nixon, and basically forced him to resign or face impeachment. That was a -- but I think this was a symbolically important meeting with the president, when the Republicans went in.

It sent a very clear signal to the whole country that the Republicans are not going to stand by. And they're not going over this waterfall together with him. He's got to get this thing straightened out by September, both on the military side and with the Iraqi government.

COOPER: Bush says he's going to veto the House spending bill.

How long can we expect this back-and-forth from the president and the Congress? I mean, you say -- you see consensus taking shape already?

GERGEN: Well, I think we have the emerging consensus. I think there's going to be a lot of haggling.

The House bill, you know, that -- for short-term funding, will not survive in the Senate, where Senate Democrats are not for that. And, certainly, the House -- Senate Republicans are not. So, I think the pushback will come there. There's going to be a haggling over, if you put benchmarks in the bill, do they have consequences? Do they have bite? There's going to be a lot of backing-and-forthing.

But I think we're clearly moving toward a time of September time. Now, even in September, there's going to be a lot of haggling. You know, Republicans say, well, let Petraeus call the shots. Let General Petraeus say, you know, if it's not succeeding, here's how I will redeploy the troops.

I don't think the Democrats are going to put up with that. They're going to basically say, come September, it's up or down. And you Republicans better go along, because we're going to -- we're going to beat you up.

There is a widespread fear, Anderson, among Republicans, that George W. Bush could turn out to be their Herbert Hoover, that he could leave Republicans in a minority position for years to come.

And, so, they are -- they are really getting the point now of saying, enough will be enough by this fall. We will go with you to the fall. We will stick with you. But, come fall, we need results.

COOPER: Do you think the Iraqis get it? I mean, Dr. Rubaie is talking about, you know, not having any kind of timetables, and having a multi-year commitment to Iraq of U.S. troops there in the country. The Iraqi parliament, you know, they were planning to take a two-month vacation this summer, until they started to come under pressure.

Now they're talking about, well, maybe we will take a month vacation.

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: Yes.

COOPER: You know, do they get it?

COOPER: You know, that is an interesting question, Anderson. I don't think we truly know. I think the greater fear is not whether it's getting through, but whether they have got a larger game in mind. These are pretty wily people.

I mean, they basically -- there's a growing feeling among the Shias in Iraq, from everything we can see, that they understand that, one day, the Americans are going to leave. And what they're trying to do is arm themselves to the teeth, get as well-trained as they can, so they -- and postpone as long as they can, so they can get as well- trained, get the Americans out of there.

And then they have no intention -- they have never had any intention of bringing the Sunnis in. And then the real war starts. But there will be -- they will go in with an advantage. I think that's the game, unfortunately, we may find ourselves caught in.

So, there's a reality in Washington that we're all talking about. But we don't understand the reality very well. And Baghdad -- that's why I'm so glad you have got your reporters over there, to help us with that.

But it's so clear, I think, that some people over there are diddling us on this, and that, basically, at the end of the day, they're not really interested in reconciliation. They're interested in power.

COOPER: Difficult times.

David Gergen, thank you.

GERGEN: Difficult times.

Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: More on the political fight over Iraq next in "Raw Politics."

Plus: He's under fire for changing his mind about abortion. Now Mitt Romney is sharing his views on another controversial topic, polygamy.

And Michael Moore, just in time for his new movie, there is new controversy surrounding him. Imagine that. Find out why he's now being investigated by the feds.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Ten years ago today, CNN aired this video. It's a one- on-one interview with Osama bin Laden. It was an exclusive. It was his first with a Western news organization.

CNN's Peter Bergen produced that interview. And, of course, since then, we have faced the horror of 9/11. And now we're more than five years into the war against terror in Afghanistan.

Coming up tonight, Peter Bergen is going to give us a stark look at what U.S. forces are dealing with on the front lines, right now, tonight.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST (voice-over): This is the Taliban's answer to the West's overwhelming firepower, a simple goat herder from the tribal lands of Pakistan, armed with a crude suicide vest and an iron conviction that Allah wants him to kill and die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I wanted to attack the British and foreigners and Americans. BERGEN (on camera): You regret not having succeeded?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I regret that almighty God did not allow me to sacrifice myself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're going to have more of Peter's report coming up in a special hour, "Afghanistan: The Unfinished War." That's in the next hour of 360.

When we got back from Afghanistan the last time, we made a vow to the parents of soldiers that we met who were still serving there, to keep the focus on Afghanistan all throughout this war, a war many of the soldiers who are fighting there now feel has been forgotten by the American public. So all this year, we're continuing to focus on it. We'll have a special new report in our next hour.

But first, more on our breaking news. By a vote of 221-205, House Democrats have passed a Bill funding the war, but only through July. After that, President Bush would have to report back on the security situation and the Iraqi government's progress at governing. Mr. Bush has said he'll veto the Bill if it passes the Senate.

But he's also using the "B" word himself, "B" as in benchmarks. That's where tonight's "Raw Politics" begins with Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you can call it a compromise. Or you can call it a blink. But make no mistake about it. That blast furnace of criticism by Democrats and Republicans is what has the president now talking about benchmarks for progress in Iraq.

No deadline on the Iraqi leadership yet. But he wants to see movement on oil revenue sharing, future elections, and fast.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have got to speed up their clock.

FOREMAN: Republican Rudy Giuliani is making it clear; he will attempt to make the nomination while explicitly supporting abortion rights. Political insiders know that's a big gamble: 35 percent of Republicans rank abortion as an extremely important issue.

Republican Mitt Romney taking on critics before they can hit. The Mormon candidate tells "60 Minutes", "I can't understand anything more awful than polygamy." He says he understands why voters find that part of his faith's history troubling.

On the red carpet, D.B. in D.C., pushing legislation to support school feeding programs in poor nations.

DREW BARRYMORE, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: And what it means is stability for these kids in these schools. FOREMAN: Anyway, angry man filmmaker Michael Moore is under scrutiny by the Feds for going to Cuba to work on his latest movie.

Plus, if you liked "The West Wing," warm up your TiVo. Two new dramas about Washington are in the works for fall. Check your local listings.

And the state bird of New Mexico is the roadrunner. But even he's not running as hard as Governor Bill Richardson. He's high on experience. Low in the polls. So, he's got a new ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, 14 years in Congress. U.N. ambassador. Secretary of energy, governor of New Mexico. Negotiated with dictators in Iraq, North Korea, Cuba, Zaire, Nigeria, Yugoslavia, Kenya. Got a cease-fire in Darfur. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times.

So, what makes you think you can be president?

FOREMAN: Funniest commercial of the campaign so far, by far. But remember, the last laugh goes to the person who gets the most votes at the convention. That's just 'Raw Politics" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Here's Kiran Chetry with a look at what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" -- Kiran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.

Coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING", new ways to help fight childhood obesity. We're taking a look at two programs that have found real success in helping kids keep the weight off, including how parents can do their part just by learning how to talk to their children.

Join us, 6 a.m., for "AMERICAN MORNING".

Anderson, back to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Kiran, thanks.

Next on 360, abortion, Giuliani and the race for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): He's a pro-choice Catholic. And he is the leader of all Catholics. They're on a collision course over abortion. We'll have the political fallout.

Also tonight, they went to the symphony and a hockey game broke out. See where light classics gave way to a heavyweight brawl, ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI is getting a rock star welcome -- he's in -- even as he stirs up controversy. Look at those crowds there.

It began yesterday when the pontiff gave his backing to church leaders in Mexico who threatened to excommunicate Catholic lawmakers who were voting to legalize abortion.

The "E" word, excommunication, is, of course, one of the most potent words in the Catholic Church, and the Vatican has tried to play down the remarks. That's where we begin tonight's "America Divided" segment.

Earlier, I talked to CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville, and Republican strategist, Ralph Reed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Pope Benedict warned Catholic politicians that they risk excommunication from the church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.

He was talking particularly about Mexican politicians. But I'm sure he would argue the same about -- and perhaps will in the future in this presidential campaign argue the same about Catholic politicians here.

Does something like that -- I mean, how does that impact a Giuliani and other Catholic politicians?

RALPH REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: In 2004, when this was an issue in John Kerry's case, he being the first Catholic nominee for president of either party in 44 years, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference really gave wide latitude to individual bishops to make that decision.

My own view, again, is that often the media and those who look at the faith community from the outside-in don't understand that, in the end, what voters are hungering for and looking for is not somebody who necessarily shares their theology in every respect but somebody who shares their stands on the issues and their values.

COOPER: James, obviously the pope's comments gets to the issue of, you know, separation between church and state. You now have a situation in America, where several religious congregations throughout the country are saying they're going to offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants who face deportation. Do you see a shrinking of that line between church and state?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, listen, a doctor, any doctor would help out a sick person regardless of their status, whether they were an illegal immigrant, illegal permanent (ph), green card, anything else. I mean, a lot of Christians -- there are a lot of Christians -- the problem Bible is every time somebody picks the doggone thing up and reads it. When you do that, it's pretty hard to be a real true Christian and not offer aid and assistance to people, if somebody is thirsty or hungry or ill clothed or ill housed. It would be pretty hard to read the New Testament, as I try to from time to time, and say that you shouldn't give it to him.

COOPER: Where do you draw the line, though, Ralph? I mean, it's a hard thing for people of faith when it mixes with politics.

REED: People forget that the notion of a church being separate and distinct from the state was not invented by the ACLU. It was invented by Christians, and in particular Baptists, Anabaptists, who were being oppressed by a state church. So it was a Christian idea to begin with.

And the purpose, by the way, was not to protect government from the church. The purpose was to protect church from government.

What happened, Anderson, in my opinion, is the pendulum swung too far to the point that people began to interpret that to mean that the voice of faith had no place in the dialogue of public policy and politics in America.

I think now the pendulum's coming back, and we're welcoming those voices of faith.

COOPER: James?

CARVILLE: You know, I think a lot of times what people want is -- and there's a lot of need for healing in this world. There's a lot of poor people to take care of. There's a lot of souls that I know I -- you know, struggle in my own life.

And they ought to stay away from things like war and Terri Schiavo and hating gay people and all this stuff and focus on reconnecting with people, focus on trying to help people help each other.

You know, I mean, the New Testament is pretty clear that you're supposed to love -- and the Old Testament, part of it also, pretty clear that you should love your neighbor as yourself. And we ought to focus a lot more on that a lot more than all these other things. I think people would be a lot happier about it.

REED: Well, the problem with that is, when faith has a moral point to make, it makes it whether it's convenient or welcome or not. You know, there were people in the 1960s who told Martin Luther King that preachers shouldn't be agitating on race. Now, we're glad he did.

So sometimes faith intrudes in a way that isn't always welcome and sometimes rattles the wine skins. But that's its job.

CARVILLE: Well, Jesus never said a single word about gay people. And I think we ought to leave the gay people alone and worry about, you know, people that really need help. He never uttered a word about them.

REED: James, he did utter a word about marriage. And what people of faith are most concerned about is not attacking somebody who makes a moral choice different than their own. What they're concerned about is protecting the sanctity of marriage.

CARVILLE: Rudy Giuliani has been married three times, and he can run for president. A gay person who's been married once ought to be able to run for president.

REED: Well, I'll let you take that position, James. I'll leave that to you.

CARVILLE: That will be the one that I have.

COOPER: That's where we'll leave it.

James Carville, Ralph Reed, interesting discussion, guys. Thank you.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it. Thank you.

REED: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And up next on the program, America is divided, of course, on the issue of abortion. And already in the presidential race, it is front and center. Pro-choice Republican Rudy Giuliani, trying to hone his message on abortion. I love terms like that: hone the message.

After stumbling a bit in the last presidential debate, can he find common ground with conservatives in his party and still stick to his pro-choice position? Find out, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have to decide several things. Is that an acceptable position for them? There will be some that who say it isn't. And I'm at peace with that. There are people that disagree with me. They have a right to vote against me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, talking about how voters might respond to his pro-choice stance on abortion. He's been on the defensive since last week's debate of Republican presidential candidates, where his remarks about abortion were kind of anything but clear-cut.

Then, came reports that the former New York mayor made contributions to Planned Parenthood in the '90s. That surprised many. Today, Giuliani's campaign promised he would clarify his position at next week's Republican debate in South Carolina.

A short time ago, I talked to Amy Holmes, a conservative analyst, and Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rich, I want to play part of what Giuliani said at MSNBC's Republican debate last week, about whether or not Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: It would be OK to be repeal it. It would be OK, also, if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent. And I think a judge has to make that...

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC'S "HARDBALL": Would it be OK if they didn't repeal it?

GIULIANI: I think the court has to make that decision. And that the country can deal with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Elsewhere, his answer seemed confusing. A, does it hurt Giuliani, his current position, and how does he try to overcome it?

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Based on today's reporting, it looks as if they have made the threshold decision, the Giuliani campaign, that they are, in fact, going to clean up his answer. And his answer is going to be that he is not opposed to all abortions, which is a departure from what we generally hear from Republican candidates.

But I think Giuliani's appeal to voters has to be that he is a straight shooter, that he believes what he believes. You don't have to believe everything he believes. But if this is to be a national security election, he's the guy.

And I think what they're doing now is they've made the decision that trying to finesse abortion is impossible, and they're not going to do it anymore.

COOPER: So Amy, they're trying to clean up his response. Let's play something he said yesterday in Huntsville, Alabama, I guess, maybe part of this effort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: I personally oppose it. I support a right of choice. Some people say that that's inconsistent. I really disagree with that. That would say that something like 60 percent or 70 percent of the American people are inconsistent. Because that represents largely the view of the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You say -- I mean, I think you were struck in the debates at how uncomfortable he seemed talking about religion and values. Does he seem more comfortable now? And by the next debate, do you think he will be?

AMY HOLMES, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: Well, it seems like he's getting more comfortable. And I think, you know, part of what happened in the debate that was unfortunate, was not just the substance of his answer, but the fact that it seemed like he hadn't given it very much thought, that it was sort of offhand.

COOPER: Which is an amazing idea. I mean, at this point in the race for them not to given it a thought, if that's true.

HOLMES: It was. And it was very surprising to those of us watching. And your own poll, CNN, found that for 35 percent of Republican voters, abortion is an extremely important issue. So for Giuliani not to have been able to have a coherent and cohesive answer to this question was odd.

But you know, Anderson, I think what he needs to do is make -- make the discussion bigger than just abortion. And to be able to talk about values. Let's remember, this was a mayor who cleaned up Times Square, who got all of those sex shops out of there and made it safe for families.

I think if he can engage values voters and be able to be comfortable talking about values, then that will do him a lot of good.

COLMES: So Rich, it's not an insurmountable problem. A Republican, you believe, can win, who is pro-choice?

GALEN: Well, we'll test that out here as we move forward. But one of the things that especially first-time candidates for president sometimes forget is that you don't have to get all the votes. You just need to get more votes than anybody else got.

And in something like abortion, where pretty much every American over the age of what, 19, has got a fully formed position about what they think about abortion, and for most of it is neither edge of the argument. Just taking a position and sticking with it, getting it behind you, and then moving on, I think as Amy said, that's great advice.

Bringing it -- putting it into a broader context is probably the way for him to handle it and let the other guys kind of try to catch up to him.

COOPER: Because Amy, he does have common ground with those, you know -- who call themselves pro-life on many of the issue he's forced to hide, amendment (ph) and others.

HOLMES: He does. And I think that he can emphasize that, that he understands this is an important and difficult issue. And where can they work together? For example, parental notification. Not allowing minors to be transported across state lines.

I think he needs to talk about where are areas that we can work together? Where are areas that we can work together on the culture? And the culture is something that's so important to Republican voters, to conservative voters and, I would say, to general election voters. How can I, as a Republican and as a conservative, help parents raise their children with the values that they feel are best?

COOPER: Interesting. Rich?

GALEN: Anderson, let me make one lost point here. If you look at the last two conventions, there were way, way more Republicans speaking at the Republican convention who were pro-choice, than Democrats speaking at the Democratic convention who were pro-life. I think that number was zero.

COOPER: Interesting. Rich Galen, Amy Holmes, appreciate it. Thanks.

GALEN: You bet.

HOLMES: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still ahead tonight, our in-depth look at the unfinished war in Afghanistan. From the search for Osama bin Laden, to a rare interview with a would-be suicide bomber. You're going to look in these guys' eyes, and it is terrifying.

Plus, breaking news. A wildfire on a popular island off the California coast. That story ahead.

And also, who said the symphony was boring? A brawl in a most unlikely place. It's our "Shot of the Day" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news story we are covering, Catalina Island. This is the scene off the coast of Southern California. A wildfire broke out there today. These are live pictures. You're seeing the flames rising high there on the horizon.

So far, at least 400 acres have burned. Mandatory evacuations are underway in Avalon, the resort island's biggest town. The smoke there clear from far away. An air attack against the flames is underway while L.A. firefighters get to the island by boat and by helicopter.

For a look at another firefight, plus some other headlines, let's go to Erica Hill, with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, two Georgia teens are accused of starting two different brush fires, one in Waycross, the other in Jesup. The fires are small and not related to those six larger wildfires that have now burned more than 175,000 acres across the area.

In central and northwest Missouri, rain-swollen rivers are drowning several towns. Sandbags are in place in many communities. But the National Weather Service warns the flooding is going to get worse before it gets better. That's because most rivers will not crest until at least this weekend.

In Los Angeles, four people injured after an elderly woman lost control of her car and crashed through a patio at a supermarket. One of the victims is in critical condition.

On Wall Street, stocks tumbling this Thursday. The Dow lost almost 150 points, just one day after closing at an all-time high. The NASDAQ down 52, while the S&P shed 21 points. High oil prices and weak retail sales fueled the sell-off.

And the Terminator, living up to his promise. He'll be back. A new film company has bought the rights to the movie franchise. It is working on a new trilogy, starting with "Terminator 4", to be released in the summer of '09.

No word yet on whether actor-turned California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a role in the movie. A spokeswoman for him says there is no state law against it but admits right now, not on his radar.

COOPER: Yes! "Terminator 4".

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Woo!

HILL: He's got more important things to look at, though, now, like the petition for Paris Hilton's pardon. So...

COOPER: Oh, man. Don't even get me started on that.

HILL: Let's move on.

COOPER: Let's. Shall we? We'll leave that to others.

Time for the "Shot of the Day", Erica. You know, we all expect a fistfight at a hockey game.

HILL: Of course.

COOPER: At a Boston Pops performance?

HILL: Not so much.

COOPER: That's what happened last night in Beantown. The brawl between the two men was caught on videotape. There it is up there. Police say it started when one of the guys tapped the other on the shoulder with a noise complaint. His shirt got ripped off, though.

HILL: He ripped his shirt off. COOPER: Screams. Chairs were flying. The conductor stopped the performance until the two guys were escorted out. No charges, we're told, were filed.

HILL: I wonder if that's one of the dates. Boy, I'd be mortified if I was the date of one of these guys.

COOPER: Crazy.

HILL: Crazy, but I'll see your Beantown brawl. And I'll raise you a little Taiwanese tirade.

COOPER: It's always good.

HILL: That's right, Taiwan legislature. Apparently, what happened here, a member of the opposition party wanted to make a speech at the dais. Two dozen members of the ruling party got up there and said, "Uh-uh." Actually, they said "uh-uh" with, you know, a left hook and a whatever. Because violence speaks much louder than words, apparently.

COOPER: Wow. Look at that.

HILL: Huh? These people do not mess around.

COOPER: I'll tell you. We think politics here in America is tough. This is nothing compared to what goes on out there.

HILL: Nothing, indeed. Just a little mud slinging here. There, it's actual slinging.

COOPER: Exactly.

HILL: There you are. Sorry.

COOPER: You were trying to hit me through the TV?

HILL: I was trying to get you. Yes. It didn't work, though. Ooh, it's like Wonder Twins. Activate.

COOPER: Form of an eagle.

HILL: Form of -- yes. Form of a...

COOPER: What I never understood about the Wonder Twins, one would be, like, form of the eagle. And then the other one was, like, form of water, and then yet there was a bucket to carry the water in. No one was the bucket. Not even Gleek. I don't -- I don't understand.

HILL: An excellent point.

COOPER: Think about it.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. As you're discussing this at home, if you see some amazing video, tell us about it. CNN.com/360. And, yes, I know far too much about the Wonder Twins. We'll put some of your best clips on the air.

Well, serious stuff now. A decade ago today -- today -- Osama bin Laden spoke to the world in a one-on-one interview with CNN's Peter Bergen. Tonight, in the hour ahead, though Osama bin Laden is in hiding, his power may be stronger than ever. And so is his determination to hit America.

We'll take you on the hunt for bin Laden. And we'll hear from one of the Taliban's thugs, a would-be suicide bomber. It's a new 360 special. You haven't seen this before. "Afghanistan: The Unfinished War" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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