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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Tiger Attack; Hunting for Votes

Aired December 27, 2007 - 2300   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TED ROWLANDS: Seventeen-year-old Carlo Sousa was the first victim; attacked and killed at the San Francisco Zoo by Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger. The teenager was mauled to death near the tiger's outdoor enclosure.

After Sousa was attacked, his friends were next. They were chased down some 300 yards by the big cat; both men, one 19, the other 23, severely mauled near a zoo cafe.

HEATHER FONG, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I can tell you the way this occurred was typical, as I understand it, of tiger attacks. This is a wild animal and focused on being wild, and I think it was a combination of claw and tooth attacks.

ROWLANDS: San Francisco police arrived just in time to save the two men. They found at that Tatiana sitting next to one of her victims who was bleeding from wounds to the head. As officers approached, the tigress attacked her victim again, officers then yelled at the tiger hoping to stop the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: When the yelling was occurring, the animal turned and now turned towards the officers. And it is at that time that they fired.

ROWLANDS: The tiger was killed by the gunfire of four officers. The big question remaining, how did Tatiana escape her pen? The zoo, which was closed for the day, has been declared a crime scene as detectives search for physical evidence. If the tiger didn't jump escape from her enclosure, police say someone may have let her out.

This video of the San Francisco tiger exhibit was posted on the website YouTube last year. It shows the enclosure that Tatiana was able to escape. Zoo officials say they don't know how she could get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All I can tell you, it's an open exhibit. There's a 20-foot moat and an 18-foot wall.

ROWLANDS: Last year Tatiana was involved in another attack, almost biting off the arm of a zoo employee during a feeding. An investigation into that attack determined that the zoo was at fault.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JOHN KING, ANCHOR: Ted Rowlands now joins us live. Ted, as the investigation gets under way, any evidence of human error, the fact that someone let the tiger out?

ROWLANDS: No specific evidence right now, John, but that is definitely on the table as a possibility here. And that's why detectives went in to gather physical evidence today; fingerprints, et cetera, anything that could show how this tiger got out because, quite frankly, a lot of people have a hard time believing it was able to get out of the enclosure by jumping.

Possibly someone let it out and then shut that door afterwards. Everything's on the table at this point; detectives trying to get to the bottom of it; a lot of work today to that end.

KING: You mentioned a lot of work to do. You also note in your piece the zoo was closed at the time. Do we have any information as yet as to how many eyewitnesses there may have been to this that could help detectives put the pieces together?

ROWLANDS: The attack happened about 5:00 Pacific Time as the zoo was closing. They estimate there were about 200 people, tops, at the zoo at the time. It was cold, Christmas night, not a lot of people at the zoo.

And the other problem that investigators have is that at the time, they thought there were possibly three tigers, maybe four tigers, on the loose. They didn't have a lot of time to ask questions, find eyewitnesses. It was bedlam, really, for the first 12 hours of this investigation.

Now they're asking the public to come forward, anyone at the zoo, contact San Francisco police. They're hoping someone will have seen something that will give them a clue as to how this tiger got out.

KING: Bedlam perhaps an understatement. Ted Rowlands on the scene, Ted, thank you so much.

Just moments ago Carlos Sousa's parents spoke. His parents last saw him on Christmas Eve and had no idea he had been attacked by a tiger. Who would ever imagine such a thing?

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MARILZA SOUSA, VICTIM'S PARENT: Shock. Shock.

CARLOS SOUSA, VICTIM'S PARENT: It's hard to believe what's going on. Something you never expect to happen.

M. SOUSA: No. You cannot really understand how we feel right now.

C. SOUSA: Hurt. Very much hurt. He lived with some friends on that day, and the last time I saw him was Christmas Eve. And we were concerned because we hadn't heard from him the whole day, whole Christmas Day. I just found out this morning.

The last time I saw him, he said, "I'm going over to some friends' house. Will you give me a hug and a kiss?" Then he said, "I love you." The coroner called me. It's hard to believe. I had to go identify his body. He was pretty mangled up. I just wish that people don't suffer this kind of Christmas. It's one Christmas I'm never going to forget.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: Hard to imagine getting a call like that. Joining us on the phone is the sister of Carlos, Beatris Silva. Beatris, first let us say how sorry we are for your loss. Tell us a little bit how your family's doing with this terrible shock.

BEATRIS SILVA, VICTIM'S SISTER: Well, my family is very, very hurt. We just found out what has happened to my brother today. So for all of us, it was a very big shock because it actually has happened yesterday in the afternoon. And we pretty much found out today.

KING: Beatris, did you know your brother was going to the zoo on Christmas?

SILVA: No, we did not.

KING: And have zoo officials told you anything at all about what they're learning in the early stages of this investigation?

SILVA: No, they haven't said anything.

KING: And have you been able to talk to anybody who might have been with your brother at the time, his friends or --

SILVA: No.

KING: -- anybody who might have seen what happened?

SILVA: Not yet.

KING: Nobody at all. Have you been to the zoo before? Do you have any idea why your brother would be there?

SILVA: I have been to that zoo before, and my questions are only and all my family is how the tiger got out and how that tiger jumped out or how the heck that happened, you know. Because this season is Christmas, and we know there's not much people in the zoo.

So we have a lot of questions, a lot of pain. There's just no words for it, you know. It's just too much.

KING: And it's obviously in the very early stages of the investigation, but are you satisfied with the information you are getting from the zoo and from the police so far? Are they providing any information at all to the family that's helpful?

SILVA: No. Not yet. They're investigating it still so we actually don't know much. It's just a lot of questions, you know, ourselves. We know from different news where it shows my brother getting inside of the ambulance and things like that, you know. Now we can see him, before when there was only just the ambulance and all that stuff, we could not see him. Now we can. And that's pretty much what we see on TV. You know. We don't know anything else. It's just very painful.

The only thing that I have to say to everybody, when they go to the zoo, just be careful, you know. Just be careful because, you know, you never know what can happen, you know? For me to take all the time my kids with me, it's a lot of shock.

KING: Beatris, we thank you for sharing some time with us tonight we greatly appreciate your concern for others at a time of such pain for your family. Thank you so much. Please take care.

More on this story when we come back. We'll hear from a zoo official now forced to take a whole new look at his exhibit. It's not just big cats, not just zoos. See why just about any kind of animal is potential tragedy waiting to happen.

Also, late developments in A murder mystery. Six people found dead in a home. Now comes word of an arrest. A lot of news tonight when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More now on the tiger that got loose, mauling a man to death at the San Francisco Zoo; police now treating the zoo as a crime scene. They want answers. So do a lot of people.

With me now wildlife expert Ron Magill, he's the communications director for the Miami Metrozoo. Ron, this investigation in its early stages, but one of the concerns is that the tiger might have escaped from this exhibit. The exhibit has an 18-foot wall, then a 20-foot moat. Do you think there's any way a tiger could escape from that?

RON MAGILL, MIAMI METROZOO: It's hard to say. I haven't seen the exhibit. I don't know the depth of the moat. I don't know the type of wall. So therefore I can't really comment on that.

I can tell you that a lot of us in zoos around the country are awaiting the outcome of this investigation because if, in fact, this tiger has redefined the physical limitations of tigers, a lot of exhibits may be concerned about it throughout the country.

The bottom line is we have to wait for the investigation. There's so much hearsay, so much speculation, the investigation will really give us the facts.

KING: You raise an interesting point. You say you haven't seen this. What type of enclosures do you use there, and I assume they're pretty similar all around the country. I assume there are standards that are in place at zoos pretty much across the United States.

MAGILL: Absolutely. There are local, state and federal standards that are set, and all accredited zoos throughout the country, all the accredited zoos by the AZA have to surpass those standards. We here at Metrozoo we have approximately a 30-foot moat across that separates the tigers from our visitors. You know it's been an effective way to exhibit these animals for over 25 years here. We've never had a problem.

But, again, every exhibit is a little bit different. Though there are federal guidelines that are exceeded by all those accredited zoos.

KING: And as you sit there today, do you have concerns and should other zoos across the country have concerns that those standards might not be up to speed?

MAGILL: Well, I'm not going to say it's impossible. It's certainly something we have to look at. We certainly should not be shortsighted to think, "Oh, no, it's got to be something else." We have to keep an open mind and look at this. And that's what the importance of this investigation is.

That's why we're all waiting for the outcome because if, in fact, this tigress has redefined her physical limitations, maybe we underestimated the tiger. But we have to wait for the investigation.

KING: This is a tiger that attacked a zookeeper last year resulting in that zookeeper losing her arm. Should the zoo have taken any extra precautions given this tiger's history?

MAGILL: You know, not really, John. I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions that people have. "Oh, this tiger attacked somebody so therefore that makes her a bad tiger, a mean tiger.

All tigers have that potential within them. And, you know, when we work in a zoo field, we as workers are told all the time, we have to work with each animal assuming that it's going to take any opportunity it has to get you, to be aggressive. When we don't do so, that's when we get hurt because sometimes animals are like people.

They do have individual personalities, certainly some maybe more aggressive than others. There's an old saying that says, "You can take an animal out of the wild, you can never take the wild out of the animal." It's when we become complacent that we get hurt.

That incident with that zookeeper getting hurt just like pretty much any incident in the country when a zookeeper or staff member gets hurt, it's our fault. It's not the tiger's fault.

KING: Let me ask you lastly, do you think the authorities had any choice but to kill this tiger? And also, to the point you made earlier, is it possible that tigers in captivity for a long period of time are becoming so familiar with their environment that they're learning ways out?

MAGILL: That's a great point, John. The one thing you talk about tigers in captivity, the misconception people look at tigers in exhibit, oh, it's cute and cuddly, I want to pet it and they think we do the same. The fact that these animals are born in captivity and raised in captivity quite often makes them more dangerous to us because they've lost that natural fear of human beings. I was just in India tracking tigers, and I tracked a tiger that was 30 yards from me in the wild.

As soon as he spotted me, he ran away because that's their natural instinct. They lost that instinct in captivity and therefore they could become more dangerous.

Now, in captivity, these tigers, every day they come out, the first thing they do is examine their exhibit. They examine their exhibit for anything different, anything that may enable them to expand their territory. So it's certainly a concern we have to have and why we always have to be on top of this when we maintain these exhibits in zoos.

KING: Ron Magill, thank you so much for your insights.

MAGILL: Thank you.

KING: For some facts on Siberian tigers, let's check the raw data. They're one of the largest of the big cats weighing as much as 600 pounds. They're also an endangered species; anywhere from 350 to 400 exist in the wild, that's fewer sadly than the number of Siberian tigers now in captivity.

For families, zoos and aquariums are a must-see trip. Millions of us visit them each year to get an up close look at wildlife. But just because the animals are on the other side of the wall doesn't mean we're always safe.

Now to San Francisco and to CNN's David Mattingly reports, not elsewhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They may be in captivity, they often appear tame, but make no mistake. These animals will always be wild.

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: You've got to remember that about 95 percent of our animals in zoos and aquariums come from other zoological parks, but they are wild. We tell our folks a wild animal is like a loaded gun, it can go off at any time.

MATTING: And with deadly results. In February an animal keeper at the Denver Zoo was killed by a 140-pound jaguar after entering its enclosure.

Some attacks were captured on video. This was at San Diego's Sea World last year when a trainer was bitten and dragged under water by a 6,000-pound killer whale. The man escaped with his life.

Wildlife expert Jack Hanna says animals in captivity can be well trained but they're never predictable. HANNA: The animal's just being the animal. But these accidents do happen, and we do everything we can to avoid that. Safety comes first in any zoological park.

MATTINGLY: Safety comes first, but it's never guaranteed. In 2004, a gorilla broke free from its pen at the Dallas Zoo and injured several people including a child. The gorilla was killed.

The following year, two chimpanzees went on a rampage at an animal sanctuary in California. This was the 911 call.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A man's been attacked by two chimpanzees. He's very critical.

There are still two chimpanzees loose. They are not dangerous. The two that did attack him are down. I have just shot them.

MATTINGLY: Sometimes a close encounter between animal and human takes a surprising turn. Consider what unfolded in August of 1996 at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. A 3-year-old boy falls into the gorilla pen. A large adult female gorilla moves toward the unconscious child until she cowers over him.

As terrified onlookers watch, the gorilla crouches next to the boy. But instead of attacking, she shields the toddler from the other primates in the pen. The boy is eventually rescued.

Her instinct was to protect the child, and she did, long enough for the boy to be rescued. Still, this much is clear. You can take the animal out of the wild, but not the wild out of the animal.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: Fascinating pictures there.

A lot more happening around the country. So let's turn to Erica Hill with the "360 bulletin." Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, a little tax break topping the headline. President Bush signing two bills today. One is a measure to freeze the alternative minimum tax to the A&T (PH) for another year. That would spare more than 20 million people about two grand apiece. The other is a massive bill to fund the war and the government well into next year. It is also, though, packed with earmarks.

Discount day at the mall as merchants try to make up for a somewhat limp Christmas season. Early figures actually show sales running slightly behind estimates, but retailers are really hoping they can make up some of that shortfall when people begin using the more than $26 billion in gift cards which were sold.

For the Spiegel (ph) family of Eagle, Colorado, the best three Christmas presents you could imagine, triplets born with the help of a surrogate mom for a mother and a father who have lost three children over the years. A very special new beginning for this family tonight which, of course, John, is what Christmas is all about.

KING: Absolutely. And congratulations to the Spiegel family.

Now Erica you stay right there. When we come back, a different kind of wild animal story; a guy who gets between a tiger and his lunch without becoming lunch himself.

Also tonight, the latest on Francesca Lewis, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Central AmErica.

That and a whole lot more after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Erica, we talked at the top of the show about the tiger attack in San Francisco. But here's something about cable news you know well. When a story like this, tiger tragedy, happens, we quickly get some very dramatic and strange video. This one caught our eye today. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, Ron. No more. Ron, no. Ron. Oh.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

KING: Yes, Erica, things not to do yourself, that's wildlife biologist Dave Salimoni (PH) trying to take food from a hungry tiger.

HILL: Which is just amazing to me. I know he's got that stick to protect himself there but it blows my mind. I actually talked to him earlier about the tiger attack. He mentioned he trains tigers to go back into the wild which, I don't know, but that's not the safest job in the world.

KING: No, not with that little stick. If you watched it, the tiger keeps pulling and ultimately Dave wins. He does. The big question, though, why is he doing this? That and, of course, "What Were They Thinking?"

HILL: Ah, yes, "What Were They Thinking?". We can't answer that one, but I do have a question you may be able to answer. I'm not sure where you're going to be on New Year's Eve. I'm hoping, though, John you'll at least be in front of a TV watching the festivities in Times Square with Anderson Cooper. I'll be there with Anderson. To help get everybody in the expert, I wanted you to check out Corey Mcwilliams. Take a look.

Not only Happy New Year for Corey, today is Corey's fourth birthday. So happy birthday, Corey. We've been getting a ton of New Year's messages, and we want more.

All you have to do is log on to cnn.com/i-party to send us your photos, your videos, even post a shout-out to your friends, maybe a birthday message to Corey. We're going to display them all this year John, on New Year's Eve. And of course as I mentioned, I'll be there with Anderson as well as a very special guest, Kathy Griffin joining Anderson for the festivities.

KING: Sounds like fun. I'm sneaking in a quick snowboarding break with Hannah and Noah King, but we will tune in.

HILL: All right, sounds like a good plan.

KING: Thanks, Erica.

Still ahead, an incredible survival story. We'll hear from the mom of the 13-year-old girl who was trapped in the wreckage of a deadly plane crash for two days.

Next, it pheasant season and cockatoo season. A look at how Mike Huckabee's doing in Iowa with the best political team on television. That and a very different kind of "man meets tiger" story and more tonight on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In Iowa today, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took a break from hunting votes and took aim at some locals who, especially now, won't be voting in next week's first in the nation caucuses.

The former Arkansas governor is an avid hunter; that was the message he sent loud and clear today. In the latest polls, Huckabee has surged to the front of the Republican pack in Iowa.

CNN's Dana Bash braved the cold to track the front-runner and his hunting party.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what kind of gun is that?

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A 12 gauge.

BASH: Mike Huckabee wants Iowans to know and see that he's a hunter who knows his stuff.

HUCKABEE: You know it would help if I could get some shells. Who's got those?

BASH: A not so subtle contrast to Mitt Romney, his chief rival here who declared himself a lifelong hunter only to have his campaign admit he's only hunted twice.

HUCKABEE: Maybe it will show that, you know, I certainly understand the culture of being outdoors. It's not something I had to go and, you know, get a primer in.

BASH: The former Arkansas governor says he'd normally be duck hunting back home after Christmas, claims he goes some 30 times a season. But in Iowa, it's pheasant. And after a couple of misses --

HUCKABEE: Red is fire. So it's away from me.

BASH: -- some problems with his safety lock.

HUCKABEE: Oh, oh!

BASH: He bagged a pheasant, three for his whole party.

HUCKABEE: These three birds all said they would not vote for me on caucus night. You see what happened to them. It's very positive. It's very positive. You vote for me, you live. You don't, there you go.

BASH: Beyond the folksy if not slightly morbid humor, a closing argument for Iowa voters.

HUCKABEE: What I bring is the most experience of actually running a government and I think I also bring a level of authenticity and credibility to the campaign.

BASH: But even here, evidence Huckabee still has work to do. Fellow hunter Clint Robinson thinks he's going for Huckabee, but --

CLINT ROBINSON, IOWA VOTER: Immigration is certainly an issue. His stance isn't necessarily in line with what I think needs to happen either.

BASH: Lucky for Huckabee, he got some quality hunting time to lobby Robinson.

HUCKABEE: Lunch will be at 11:30.

BASH: And maybe a meal.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: Dana Bash joins us now from Iowa, along with CNN senior political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger; Gloria out there in Iowa, David joining us from Boston I believe.

Dana, let me start with you. Governor Huckabee says when you ask him what's your closing pitch, likability, things like that. Has he any big policy issue he's trying to bring to the forefront of the closing or just the fact that voters like him and trust him?

BASH: Well, sure, he talked on the stump all the time about policy issues, and he talks about immigration. He talks about his plan to abolish the IRS, his so-called fair tax. He talks a lot here in Iowa about the issue that really plays to Christian conservatives, those issues like abortion and opposition to rights for homosexuals.

But look, I asked him point blank there, John, if you're talking to a voter who is trying to decide between you and Mitt Romney, what's your answer? It is hands down his answer there. It is likability. It is authenticity as you just heard him there, because that is, he understands what's his biggest selling point here? It's his style, sort of that intangible that is making him do well with voters in Iowa. He understands that. That's why he's pushing that above all others right now.

KING: Well, David, Dana mentioned Mitt Romney. He was the guy leading in Iowa in the summer; leading in New Hampshire in the summer. Both of those leads have now disappeared at least to an extent.

I want to you listen to Mitt Romney today. He was under attack, his conservative credentials under attack from the Union leader of Manchester. This is how Mitt Romney responds. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the top voices of conservative thought in America is "The National Review," and "The National Review" took a good, hard look at all the candidates, it's a national publication, and they endorsed my candidacy and laid out why they had done so. And I think their conclusion is one I agree with.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

KING: David Gergen, is that how he should be answering that question or should he be talking about his plan on taxes or his business experience?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's in this defensive crouch. I must say that compared to Huckabee, it's a hands-down Huckabee wins sort of the pictures and the story line. I mean, what's been surprising to me about this, John, is that for two straight weeks, Mike Huckabee, with very, very little money compared to Mitt Romney, has run the most eye-catching campaigns.

You know, he dominated much of last week's conservation with that advertisement about, you know, Christmas and Christ. And now he's come back with this hunting episode that, once again, he's captured the headlines, he's captured the pictures.

And Mitt Romney is sort of just left there sort of stuttering a little bit about his conservative support. So I'm surprised that Mitt Romney, with all of his, you know -- he's got a very high-powered team with a lot of money. I'm surprised that they let Huckabee outplay them like this.

KING: Gloria, we want to talk about everyone, but let's bring John McCain into the conversation. He's the guy giving Romney fits in New Hampshire, yet where is he tonight? Western Iowa. And he is not played out there very much. But now he suddenly thinks if he makes a late push, he's there for a day and a half, maybe he can come in third place and surprise people.

Listen to John McCain when he's asked, "Senator, why aren't you doing better in Iowa?" (BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think immigration. I think the fact that I don't support ethanol subsidies, but look, we just do the best we can. We're working hard. And as I say, I think we have a very good organization here on the ground, and we'll hope for the best.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

KING: So Gloria, a McCain surge in Iowa?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Nah, I think he's lowering expectations in that little piece of tape you heard. He's going to do better than people thought. I think he's coming here to kind of rub it in to Mitt Romney.

He doesn't want Romney to do well in the state of Iowa because he wants to beat Mitt Romney in the state of New Hampshire. So he's coming here to kind of thumb his nose at Romney and pat Huckabee on the back and maybe do himself some good.

But his real shot is, of course, New Hampshire. You know, anything can happen. I think you see Republican voters in this state who take a look at this field and say, "Gee, I'm not sure who I'm really for."

So many undecided Republican voters out there. So McCain comes up here and says, "What the hay? I think I'll show up."

KING: Dana, if you look at your e-mail from the Romney campaign, once or twice, maybe four or five times a day, you might get an e-mail criticizing McCain on immigration. The senator himself there just acknowledged it is one of the reasons, his position on immigration, where he thinks he's not doing as well as he would like in Iowa. Is that the defining issue?

BASH: Well, certainly it is one of the major defining issues for Republicans here in Iowa. But look, the reality is going after John McCain here in Iowa or New Hampshire, anywhere on immigration is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Everybody knows where John McCain stands on immigration. Everybody knows that this is something that has hurt him, the fact that he pushed for legislation that allowed basically citizenship for illegal immigrants.

So if you are a Republican voter who hasn't decided yet, immigration is your top issue, you're not going to go for McCain anyway. I think what's interesting about McCain coming back here to Iowa is just in talking to Republican voters, so many are really unsatisfied with the field that they have.

So McCain is here to play into that to say, "Well, if people are so dissatisfied, perhaps maybe they'll give me a second chance, those who are not turning me off because of the immigration issue."

KING: So David and Gloria, David, you first, 15 or 20 seconds, why are they dissatisfied? Are the Republicans as a group failing to make the big pitch, if you will, to make it about some big issue?

GERGEN: There's no heir apparent. The Republicans always like the next person standing in line. That's what they rally behind. There's never been anybody in this race. And the more they look at them, the less -- each person has been diminished by the length of this race, I think.

KING: Gloria?

BORGER: Well, and I think David's right, there is to heir apparent, but if you look at this Republican field and you go for the issue of experience and you say, whose turn is it next, which Republicans tend to do, they may be giving John McCain another look.

KING: Another look perhaps. We'll stay on top of that one. Dana Bash, thank you from Des Moines, Gloria and David, stick around.

Up next on "360", we'll turn to the "Raw Politics" of experience. Should the time Hillary Clinton spent in the white house count? You can probably guess what Barack Obama says. More from the best political team on television when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The Hillary Clinton campaign is launching a new ad in New Hampshire tomorrow emphasizing her strength and experience. She's now running virtually even with Barack Obama and John Edwards in the polls, talking a lot lately about her work in the White House.

One of her chief rivals is asking how much having been First Lady really counts? CNN's Bill Schneider looks at the raw politics of the junior senator from New York's resume and how it's playing out in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With just days to go, Hillary Clinton tries to close the deal.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It takes strength and experience to be able to make change in our political system.

SCHNEIDER: Her argument, the best candidate to change the White House is the woman who's already lived there. Experience counts, and she's got it.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got a proven agent of change if you elect her president; someone who knows.

SCHNEIDER: On the stump in Iowa, the Clintons reminisce about what sure sounds like a co-presidency.

H. CLINTON: When I went to the White House with bill, we tackled some very tough problems.

B. CLINTON: And she represented you in 83 other countries. H. CLINTON: We created the vaccines for children's program.

B. CLINTON: She has always been a change maker.

SCHNEIDER: Their implicit promise, "one step back means two steps forward."

H. CLINTON: Thank you so much and God bless you!

SCHNEIDER: But in another corner of Iowa, a not so subtle jab at the Clinton legacy.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the chance, maybe for the first time in a generation, to finally come together and start tackling problems that were there long before George Bush ever took office.

SCHNEIDER: Obama has been quick to downplay Hillary Clinton's White House experience. First Lady, he argues, is not a key decision-making role on policy matters. Obama's closing argument; he's the real change maker. And the Clintons are just hoping voters are too scared to take a leap of faith.

OBAMA: Don't, you know, try something different because, you know, that's going to be too risky. You know, you don't know what you might get. So even though you know what's been done in the past doesn't work, stick with it. I know that that's not how America's made progress.

SCHNEIDER: And we're back to the future again. Bill Schneider, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: And more now on Senator Clinton and the rest of the Democratic field; with us once again CNN senior political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger. For the record we should note, David served as an adviser to Bill Clinton as well as Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard; the better man for all of that David.

Gloria, let's look at the big dynamic in the race. Experience, experience, experience, Senator Clinton says. And on that issue she enjoys a huge lead over both Obama and Edwards. 55 percent of democratic voters say that Hillary Clinton has the best experience or the most experience compared to 13 percent for Obama, 11 percent for Edwards, and yet, Gloria, she's struggling. Why doesn't experience trump change?

BORGER: Well, I think because Barack Obama's decided to take her on on the issue of experience because she's made it a question of 'You want change, but you don't want risks." She has said Obama represents risk. And so Barack Obama's saying, "Wait a minute. I'm not so risky. What is it that Hillary Clinton has actually done?" Did she ever actually serve in the oval office?

She's just been a senator. What actually is her experience? And, you know, that's a question that she's going to have to answer now in this closing week in Iowa because people are asking it.

KING: And David, I may say too many risks here, and I may end up confusing people, but is there a risk for Obama who just a few years ago was in the Illinois senate saying that Hillary Clinton's experience in the White House doesn't matter and that she'd be the risky candidate?

GERGEN: Sure, of coursed. And I think that's been her argument all along. There's no question that she's the most experienced -- more experienced of the two in national politics and national political life. She was deeply enmeshed in many of the domestic issues that came before the Clinton presidency, especially the early years.

What has been surprising, I think, John, is to learn from "The New York Times" in the last couple days that she, in fact, did not have a security clearance. And therefore did not have access to all the papers on the foreign policy.

I did not get the president's daily brief. I never knew that. I worked in that White House. I assumed she had a security clearance but did not. That surprised me. I think what's working for him is that all that experience may not be exactly what a lot of people are looking for.

They do want a fresh face. They want a change and they want to open a new chapter and Barack has come on strong. In these closing days, I must say, he has more momentum than she does, and he has a much clearer message.

Her message now, she's got strength. She's got change. She's got experience. And he's just going for change.

KING: And Gloria, how much is his effort to go for change, hopeful change, optimistic change, complicated by John Edwards, the other horse out there in Iowa, who's also talking about change, his is more combative, if you will, get the special interests, I'll take them on, but how does that complicate things?

BORGER: Well, John Edwards is really running as the populist. In fact, that's a message that plays very well here in the state of Iowa. He's running on the sort of the anxiety of the middle class. And that's something that people in this state and in the state of New Hampshire really understand.

But I think Hillary Clinton's problem, John, is that she's got this muddled message that David was talking about. She's essentially been running as an incumbent in this race, and now she's running for change. Well, how do you run as an incumbent, the one with experience, and then say I'm going to go and change Washington, which is, by the way, where I've been living the last decade of my life?

KING: And so David, eight days out, if you're watching the Democratic race, what are you looking for?

GERGEN: I'm looking to see if she can sort of pull herself together and come up with a clearer, focused appeal to the voters. Look at the way these bus tours are starting. She's got this bus tour; listen to the words in her theme for a bus tour. Big challenges, real solutions, time to pick a president. What in the world does all that mean?

BORGER: It sounds like a conference call.

GERGEN: You know -- that's right. Stand for change. So I think she's got to pull this together in order to pull it back out. She can still do it. There's still time, but boy, the pressure's on.

KING: We will revisit this as we go, eight days and counting to Iowa. Gloria Borger, David Gergen, thank you both.

By now you've probably heard the word caucuses more times than Britney spears had mocha frapuccinos.

Up next, how they actually work. And later, a major break in the mass murder that took six lives. We'll bring you the late developments when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: So the first major hurdle in the presidential race now just days away. But Iowa holds more than just the distinction of being first. It also owns the title of, well, the most exotic contest of its kind, the caucuses. Might sound like much mumbo jumbo to you until now. Trust me, and CNN's Jeffrey Toobin.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Imagine an election with no secret ballot, no all-day voting, the age requirement, only 17, and finally, you can vote for more than one candidate. If that sounds un- American, it's actually how the Iowa Democratic caucuses operate.

And listen up; you care because those folks in Iowa may actually choose your next president. In fact, the rules here are so strange that the campaigns in Iowa run training sessions on how to vote. Step one, stand up and be counted.

CHELSEA WALISER, MOCK CUCUS ORGANIZER: And what you'll do is then you will get up out of your seat and you'll go walk to the corner or space by the wall designated for the candidate of your choice. Okay, ready? Go.

TOOBIN: At Obama's Iowa rehearsal caucus, they practiced without candidates. Instead, they used winter activities. We've got ice skating here, drinking hot cocoa, snowboarding, building snowmen, and, of course, snowball fights. So once again, they're not choosing candidates in this rehearsal, they're choosing favorite winter activities.

After the first round, anyone who's not standing for a candidate -- well, activity in this case -- that meets the threshold of 15 percent of the room is out of luck. Turns out on this night not enough snowboarders; very sad. What happens now? If the snowboarders want their votes to count at all, they have to pick a new candidate before the second and final tally.

WALISER: Each group that is viable gets to send one ambassador over to the snowboarding group and try to persuade them to join your group.

TOOBIN: Now it's let's make a deal. The other groups all send someone over to the snowboarders to say, "Come on, join our side;" a little arm-twisting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice skating, you feel free. You feel free. You can go on one foot, two feet. You can twirl around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like that one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like ice skating.

TOOBIN: The snowboarders decide ice skating is their second choice, and they all make the switch. Understanding that the persuasion period and how to win over second choice voters is so important, candidates have web videos to explain it.

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't just go to the caucus, bring your friends.

TOOBIN: -- and even highlighted on the stump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you hit that floor and work it and try to get them. And it's like a fun game. It's like monopoly or something. You go over and say "Hey, well, your man isn't going to make it. Come over here. Remember I loaned you that snow shovel?"

TOOBIN: Because the rules are so complicated, organization is key. You need to get your supporters to the caucus locations by 7:00 sharp or they can't vote. And this is Iowa in the wintertime. Sometimes the weather's a factor.

By comparison, the Republican caucuses are pretty simple. Though the campaigns, here Fred Thompson's, are also training their supporters. It's a secret ballot, and there's no viability threshold. Every vote counts. The complicated rules make for one sure thing; that the results here are very hard to predict.

So after all this, who wins? Well, that's not simple either. The party keeps the popular vote totals at the caucuses a secret. They only announce the percentage of delegates each candidate will receive at the state party convention later in 2008. And there's more, of course, the caucus rules are 72 pages long. John?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

KING: 72 pages. For more of Jeff Toobin's "Tell it Straight-ing skills, tune in to Saturday's Patriots/Giants game.

Up next, the teenage girl pulled from the wreckage of a plane crash two days after it went down in the mountains of Panama. Hear her incredible story of survival.

Plus, a Christmas collision caught on tape. It's our "Shot of the Day" still ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Just ahead, how would you like to be the owner of this store? A big mess, but the cops shouldn't have too much trouble tracking down the driver. We'll tell you why in a moment.

First, though, Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 bulletin." Erica?

HILL: John, the 13-year-old American girl who survived a plane crash in Panama was up and about today talking with hospital staff and her family. Francesca Lewis is the sole survivor of that crash. The other three on board, Francesca's friend, her friend's father and the pilot were killed. She described her ordeal to her mother.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

VALERIE LEWIS, FRANCESCA'S MOTHER: When they found her, she was under the wing, and she thought she had been sleeping and that she would wake up and see -- she thought she was in her home and that there was -- why was there an airplane wing in her home? So she was delirious.

I don't know if she was in and out of this sleep state or if that was sort of a preservation mode because she was in extreme weather conditions. It was very cold, raining very hard, pretty much constantly for two and a half days.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

HILL: A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the deaths of six people in a rural area of Washington state. It happened in a town east of Seattle. The victims include a couple in their 50s, another couple in their 30s, a 6-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Police believe all six people were members of the same family and that they were probably shot on Christmas Eve.

A nasty surprise for homeowners this year; a ten-city home index shows that real estate values were 6.7 percent lower in October than they were the same month a year ago. That's the largest drop since it began 20 years ago and it is the tenth consecutive month that housing prices have fallen.

Actress Lindsay Lohan in trouble again; she's now being sued by a driver she hit in a car crash two years ago. The van driver alleges Lohan had been drinking at the time, but the 21-year-old actress says she was sober and that the driver made an illegal u-turn. Lohan spent 84 minutes in jail last month after pleading guilty to drunken driving and cocaine charges that were not related to this crash from 2005, John.

KING: I guess she's got a good lawyer.

HILL: Apparently.

KING: Stick around for "The Shot," Erica. It's actually four shots in one. But any way you look at it, you'll want to know how it began and how it ended. That's next after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: If video cameras are nearly everywhere these days, then tonight's shot is exhibit "A." in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, just before 6:00 on Christmas morning, a driver loses control, and you see right there, plows into a minimart. Bang. Four different cameras, Erica, four different cameras captured the crash from every angle inside and out.

The owner estimates that at least $25,000 of damage was done, but he considers himself lucky. The crash happened about five minutes before he was due to start work for the day.

HILL: I would say he is lucky. My goodness. Look at that.

KING: Four different cameras. Think how many times you want to go out for out an interview and you had trouble finding one.

KING: I know, it would be nice to have a four-camera shoot, wouldn't it?

KING: Not if a minivan's going to come crashing through. Remember, we want you to send us your shot ideas if you see some amazing video, one camera, two, four, tell us about it at cnn.com/360, we'll put some of your best clips on our air.

Erica and Anderson will be in Times Square New Year's Eve. We'll tell you how you can join the party next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A reminder; you can celebrate New Year's Eve with Anderson. He'll be in Times Square and you can join the party. Just go to cnn.com/i-party to send us your photos. Tell us your memories or post a shout out to some friends. Then sit back and watch your message live on CNN.

For our international viewers, CNN today is next, here in the states, Larry King is coming up.

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