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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Down to the Wire in Iowa; Top Republicans Battle For Evangelical Voters
Aired January 2, 2008 - 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: In Iowa, it is crunch time big time, the caucuses now less than 24 hours away. And the race is as close as they come.
Three Democrats, two Republicans are virtually tied at the top in the final stretch of a campaigning marathon. We have got new poll numbers tonight and the best political team on television to translate them for us.
In Iowa, the airwaves are filled with spin about the issues Americans say they care most about. We think you want the facts tonight, not the hype. So, we're going to look tonight beyond the posturing to the candidates' actual positions. How about that? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, an all-out battle for Iowa's evangelicals. Both Republican front-runners want and need their votes. Whose prayers are most likely to be answered? We will go inside Iowa's pulpit just ahead.
All of the front-runners are spending these final hours trying to win over the undecided and make sure those who already support them turn out tomorrow in the cold and the snow, no matter what the weather may be. Some campaigns are handing out shovels, literally. Others are promising baby-sitters. No secret as to why.
CNN's latest poll of polls shows just how close the races are. Take a look. Just two percentage points separate the Democratic front-runners, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. The Republican race is largely a two-man battle, with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in a virtual dead heat and the rest of the track -- of the pack trailing far behind.
Now, anything could happen tomorrow night, as we have said. All of the front-runners know that.
We begin tonight with the stakes and CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you! Thank you!
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Know how you can tell it's close to being over? They're screaming.
OBAMA: If you believe, let's go change the world and stand with me!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: And they're careening around the state. John Edwards is on a 36-hour nonstop road show.
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, we have important work still left to do.
CROWLEY: And they're getting all chummy and cheery with the press corps.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, how are you all?
CROWLEY: Armed with a coffee pot, Hillary Clinton helpfully reminded reporters to wear a coat in the cold and then look down the road.
CLINTON: You know, I'm going to go all the way from the caucuses tomorrow through February 5 and expect to be the nominee. So...
CROWLEY: And that's the thing about Iowa. Despite the yearlong campaign, it's not close to being over. It's close to starting.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I want to do is having a strong showing, in the top three, move on to New Hampshire, move on to Nevada, and then to New Mexico and some of the Western primaries.
CROWLEY: That's the other thing about Iowa. Unless you're a prohibitive front-runner who implodes...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2004)
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: ... think Howard Dean -- you don't have to win to survive.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think anybody that comes out of here who exceeds expectations is going to get a ticket to go to New Hampshire. And I expect to get one of those tickets.
CROWLEY: Iowa does not decide the race to the nomination, but it shapes it.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are going to be listening to what Iowa has to say.
CROWLEY: A few for instances. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, if there ever was a definition underdog, look in the dictionary. There's a photo of me, right there, underdog.
CROWLEY: If Huckabee beats Romney, he becomes more than an interesting blip in campaign history, although still under-financed. It would not be fatal for Romney, but it would weaken him and ensure a really interesting Romney-McCain dogfight in New Hampshire.
ROMNEY: And with regards to Senator McCain, I think he was just wrong to vote against the Bush tax cuts twice.
CROWLEY: And there are endless down-the-road permutations for Democrats.
OBAMA: We need to turn the page. We need to write a new chapter.
CROWLEY: If Obama wins, Clinton loses the patina of inevitability. And New Hampshire polls showing a tie with Barack Obama grow more troublesome, unless, of course, Clinton loses to John Edwards, producing an Edwards-Obama showdown for the not-Hillary slot.
CLINTON: Come out to caucus tomorrow tonight and, together, we will make history. Thank you all so much!
CROWLEY: And if she wins, Iowa, in the rearview mirror, may turn out to be the beginning of the end for everyone else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're ready.
CLINTON: We're ready.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CLINTON: We're ready.
CROWLEY: And, if she places third, whole new ball game, baby.
COOPER: New ball game, indeed. Man, it's interesting.
Candy Crowley joins me now from Iowa, and John King is in New Hampshire, where the nation's first primary is next Tuesday.
Candy, is there a real chance Hillary Clinton could come in third? And, if that happens, what happens?
CROWLEY: Absolutely there's a chance. I mean, just look at those polls.
I mean, all of them know -- and even when you talk to these campaigns off the record or on background, they really aren't sure. They're trying to make sure who's going to show up, but they don't really know what the other guy's doing. So, these are very close races.
And, of course, it's possible. She could come in first, second, or third. So, if that should happen, it really damages their campaign. Does it mortally wound it? Absolutely not. She's got a big name. She's got lots of money. She clearly can carry on. She clearly can go to those February 5 states, the big states, where name recognition and money is going to help a lot.
But the fact of the matter is, once you take away that, you know, she's the incumbent, or, you know, the presumed incumbent, that kind of atmosphere they wanted to create around her campaign, once you take that away, it really is a difference race.
COOPER: John, four years ago, almost 20 percent of Democratic caucus-goers called themselves independents -- Senator Barack Obama making a strong push for their support this time around. How much are his chances tied to their turnout?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no question, here in New Hampshire -- to a degree in Iowa, but mostly here in New Hampshire -- Barack Obama is very much counting on the independents in this state who can vote in either primary to flood the Democratic race.
And all of the polls now, Anderson, show a majority, a big majority of the independents here in New Hampshire are going to Democrat this time, and Obama benefits from that. Could the Iowa results change that? They could. If Hillary Clinton beats Obama, will the independents here reconsider or will they rally to Obama? Or might they say, you know what, let's go play on the Republican side, maybe help John McCain.
So, Iowa's results will impact New Hampshire. Iowa and New Hampshire don't pick. They winnow the fields. And the person who wins Iowa often faces resistance in New Hampshire. This state prides itself on being independent. So, the independent voters matter in both states, much more so here in New Hampshire. At the moment, they're trending Democratic. But five days between Iowa and New Hampshire is not a long time, but enough time for people to change their mind.
COOPER: Candy, the top two Republicans, top three Democrats virtually tie in Iowa, as we have talked about. So, there's a lot of talk about these undecideds. Who is in the best position to appeal to them right now, and will they actually turn out? Does anyone know?
CROWLEY: You know, it's really interesting, because the conventional wisdom will tell you that, if somebody is undecided at this point in a race, they probably won't show up at the polls.
But I have got to tell you, I go to all these town hall meetings, and, regardless of what the candidate -- who the candidate is, I talk to these undecideds, and they say, no, no, we're -- we're going.
And I say, well, could you -- could you make up your mind inside that caucus?
CROWLEY: And they say, of course, we could, because, remember, the arguments stay on inside the caucus. People are trying to convince you to come to their side, come to their candidate.
So, there really are people here who are dedicated politicos who intend to go to those caucuses who say that, even that night, they could go in and be changed towards whatever -- whatever candidate they're leaning toward.
So, you know, who is -- who's ahead with the undecideds? It really depends on what campaign you talk to. If you talk to the Obama campaign or the Edwards campaign, they will tell you, well, if someone hasn't decided about Hillary Clinton now, they are going to decide against her, because she's so well-known.
However, they do it obviously really differently in the Clinton campaign, where they think that the undecideds really will go for her, because they're going to look at electability.
COOPER: John, let's put Iowa in perspective. In terms of races in the past, how has that had an impact on what goes on in New Hampshire? How big a bump -- if you win in Iowa, how big a bump, traditionally, do you get, and how long does that last for?
KING: Well, that is a big question because of the difference this year. You get a big bump. Bob Dole got a big bump when he won back in 1988. But there were eight or nine days between then and New Hampshire, and he lost. George W. Bush won Iowa back in 2000, got stumped by John McCain here, because this state said, no, wait a minute, we're not going to bless Iowa's choice.
Only five days this time, so one of the calculations of, say, John McCain, he hopes Mike Huckabee wins Iowa, make no mistake about it, because he thinks Mitt Romney will drop overnight five, maybe 10 or 12 points here in New Hampshire. And, with five days, including a weekend being in there, can he recover?
So, there is no question the winner of Iowa will get a bounce. The question then is what does New Hampshire do about it? Again, quickly, if it's Mike Huckabee in Iowa, well, he will come here more popular. He will go up in the polls. But this is a pro-choice state. Even among Republicans, they favor abortion rights. And it is a state that has fiercely resisted a sales tax for years.
And the central economic proposal of Mike Huckabee is abolish the IRS and the income tax and have a national sales tax. So, we have a lot to learn. We will get the first voice out of Iowa and then we will have a bit of a resetting of the race here in New Hampshire.
COOPER: A reset, indeed.
John King, Candy Crowley, thanks.
The candidates have spent a record amount of money on advertising in Iowa. Here's the "Raw Data" on that.
Forty million dollars has gone towards political ads just in the Hawkeye State. That's roughly $200 per caucus-goer and more than four times the $9.1 million Democrats spent in Iowa in 2004, four times the amount.
Republicans, you will recall, skipped the caucuses because President Bush was seeking his second term.
Now, a quick programming note: CNN's special coverage of the Iowa caucuses starts tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We have got reporters and producers all over the state. You can expect the most comprehensive coverage of the contest from the best political team on TV.
Up next: what you don't know about the caucuses.
COOPER (voice-over): Candidates spending big bucks in a small state, to the pundits:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems absurd.
COOPER: But Iowa still is the first state to decide the fate of the president. So, how will it be done tomorrow night in Iowa? And why it matters -- the caucuses 101 coming up.
Plus, the Democrats and the issues, the war in Iraq, the economy, and health care, where do the top Democratic candidates really stand? We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: If you want to know what this election is about, beyond ending the war and dealing with health care and energy and all these big issues that face the country, protecting our civil rights and our civil liberties -- all these issues are enormously important -- but at the core of it is restoring the power and the democracy to you. That's what the election is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: John Edwards there, as we showed you, in a virtual tie with Obama and Clinton.
We will get to the issues and where each of them stand in a moment, but, first, the nuts and bolts of the Iowa caucuses. Pretty much everyone knows they're the first contest in the presidential race, but understanding how they work, well, that's where things get kind of tricky.
Fortunately, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Tom Foreman have a handle on it all.
Let's start with Jeff and the math behind tomorrow's voting.
How does this work at the caucuses?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: OK.
The first thing you need to remember is that this is not an election. This is a caucus...
TOOBIN: ... in a meeting. And it means it's in public. There's no secret ballot here. And, basically, people show up in a room like where Tom is going to be, and then they vote. They walk over to the corner.
Come on, Anderson. You vote, too.
COOPER: So, they actually stand off in a corner of the room.
TOOBIN: They stand -- every candidate gathers around and has his supporters.
COOPER: So, we're just randomly putting these up?
TOOBIN: We're randomly putting these up.
And this is the key moment in any caucus, because, after the first round, there's the 15 percent rule, only on the Democratic side. In the Democratic caucuses, if you don't have 15 percent, you're out of the first round.
COOPER: So, then, all those people who had voted for people who did not get more than 15 percent, they're free to choose again?
TOOBIN: They're not only free; they're expected to.
And this is where the politicking get intense, where the -- the other people try to get them to join.
TOOBIN: And, in fact, sometimes, people switch from one to another. I mean, you can go back and forth any way you like.
And this is the final result that gets reported to Des Moines. And this is the result of the caucus, after the 15 percent threshold forces everyone to vote twice.
COOPER: And 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, 7:00 p.m. Central time, that's -- that's when the first positioning begins on the Democratic side?
TOOBIN: Correct. The doors close. You can't show up after 7:00 and expect to vote. And then -- then you begin this process. The Republicans are very different and much simpler. The Republicans, it's simply a straw poll. Everyone who shows up, they vote once for the candidate of their choice. Those votes are reported to campaign -- to Republican headquarters in Des Moines. And that's what we learn.
COOPER: It's an interesting process.
All right, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.
That's how the basic math works.
Now for the logistics. CNN's Tom Foreman is in Des Moines tonight outside one caucus location, the Merrill Middle School -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, I'm glad you guys did the math.
What I can talk about is the emotion. Talking to caucus-goers here at Merrill Middle School, they're very excited, because there will be four caucuses tomorrow night, including one of those Republican caucuses, which will be very controlled, right here inside this theater. But there will also be three Democratic caucuses, hundreds of folks here intent on just that wheeling and dealing.
FOREMAN (voice-over): When the doors close and the caucuses begin here in four rooms here at Merrill Middle School, three Democratic, one Republican, it will be up to Iowans to decide which contenders get passing grades.
JEFFREY GOETZ, DEMOCRATIC PRECINCT CHAIR: I'm preparing for 600.
FOREMAN: And Jeffrey Goetz, who will run a Democratic caucus in the gymnasium, says, as some candidates fail to win support, others will try to take their followers away. How?
GOETZ: The arm-twisters will say, well, your candidate's position on this issue is much closely -- much more closely aligns with our candidate than the other. That's the type of reasoning that's used.
FOREMAN: And then caucus-goers will have a chance to vote a second time for the candidate who is their second choice.
Even the losing campaigns will be in on the wheeling and dealing, trying to broker their votes to others, hoping to gain favor in a winning camp. The problem is, in both parties, even the local leaders feel like they just don't know what's going to happen. But they expect it will be a long night.
John Tone will run the Republican caucus in the school theater.
(on camera): Have you ever seen a presidential race as up for grabs as this one? JOHN TONE, REPUBLICAN PRECINCT CHAIR: The simple answer is no. This is as close and as tight as I have ever seen it.
FOREMAN: That's what they're all saying, the Republicans and the Democrats.
This is one of the rooms where one of the Democratic caucuses will be. There will be three different precincts around here for the Democrats, so there will be in three different groups.
But this is where, in real life, they will do exactly what Jeffrey was talking to you about, Anderson, dividing up into groups, looking at their neighbors, talking about the issues, and, in this room or the Republican room over there, somewhere in those rooms, the process of picking the next president of the country really gets under way -- Anderson.
COOPER: It is amazing, because it really does require a heady commitment of time and energy to actually go. It's not just pulling a lever. It's really spending an entire evening in a room with a bunch of people.
FOREMAN: Yes. And there's no way that you can do it remotely. If you're in the service, if you're away, if you're ill, if you can't get time off from the job, you're out. That's it. This is very hands-on.
But I got to tell you, the dedication of the people here in Iowa is really very impressive. I talked to so many of them today who were just saying, look, I feel like it's my duty. I feel like, for not only Iowa, for my community, but for America, I'm supposed to come here and talk to people about all these things that we're all talking about...
FOREMAN: ... and make the best decision they can.
COOPER: All right. Tom, we will check in with you tomorrow throughout -- throughout our election coverage.
Want to show you two events right now. There's a John Edwards event taking place right now live. That's on the left-hand side of your screen, I believe. And he's about to take the stage, we're told. And on the right is a Hillary Clinton event. She's not there yet. People are clearly waiting for her. She's scheduled to arrive in about a half-hour.
Various speakers right now are just addressing the crowds that are there. We will kind of dip in and out on these events and also other events that are going on throughout this hour.
It is really getting down to the wire in Iowa. And with all the money they have spent so far, all the commercials they have put on the air so far, they're not wasting any time in these last hours, these last 24 hours. They are on a blitz, full out, lots of campaign stops all around the state, trying to rally those people, not only those who already have decided to vote for -- to caucus for their candidate, but many undecided voters, those independents, trying to make sure that they come out, and bring friends and family members to go to those caucuses tomorrow night.
Still ahead, the top candidates and how they stand on the top issues, but, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in a dramatic turnaround, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf now says investigators from Scotland Yard will be allowed to participate in the investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination.
Now, meantime, anti-Musharraf demonstrations continued today. And leaders of Bhutto's party say they will take part in parliamentary elections, which are now postponed until February 18 because of the unrest following Bhutto's death.
A prison escapee serving a life term has been shot dead. Inmate Kelvin Poke escaped this morning from a hospital between Baltimore and Washington. He was taken there after he complained of chest pains. Police say Poke grabbed a prison guard's gun, overpowered five guards in total, then stole a car after he actually shot the driver in the head. He stole at least one other car before being gunned down in Prince George's County, Maryland.
A hospital spokesman says that driver, by the way, who was injured is actually doing well.
And, in southern Chile, more than 1,000 people forced to flee as a volcano erupts, spewing lava. It's happening in a national park which is more than 400 miles south of Santiago. The eruptions are reportedly beginning to subside, but authorities say many more evacuations, Anderson, might be necessary.
Erica, stay right there.
Now, in your city, in Atlanta, a candidate for U.S. Senate is literally going to new heights to get attention, desperate, you might say, but, nevertheless, he's more than 300 feet in the air. We hoped he dressed appropriately. It's about 15 degrees there tonight.
What was he thinking? That's coming up.
Plus, the Jesus factor -- Mike Huckabee looking for support from evangelical Christians. Will the faithful, though, help him at the polls? That's when 360 continues.
COOPER: Erica, now a little segment we like to call "What Were They Thinking?" We start off in your city, Atlanta. Dale Cardwell has hoisted himself up on a tower on scaffolding more than 300 feet in the air. And he says he will stay there until his message is heard.
COOPER: What is his message, you might ask? Well, it's written right there on the big banner, that we are all in trouble.
HILL: You know...
COOPER: He's a former...
HILL: Why that compels you to climb up a tower in the freezing cold, though, I don't get it.
COOPER: Well, I will tell you. He's a former TV reporter. And he's running for U.S. Senate candidacy.
See, this is what happens to former TV reporters.
COOPER: He says...
HILL: Be careful.
COOPER: ... big-money corporations run the political process. He says -- he's a Democrat. He faces a longshot bid to unseat Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.
Cardwell says, despite freezing temperatures, he will not come down until his message is heard.
COOPER: We are all in trouble, Erica.
HILL: Apparently, he has an insulated sleeping bag, so that should really keep him warm, because it's freezing here tonight.
But I'm telling you, still, I went to his Web site. I checked it all out.
HILL: I don't understand the connection between climbing the tower and we're all in trouble. Just me.
COOPER: I think it's in the, you know, desperate bid for attention, and seemed to work, because we have mentioned his name and his message, we're all in trouble.
HILL: Indeed, we did. We are all in trouble.
So, maybe we will leave him behind now for another sit-down, this one, though, happening at ground level, a little warmer where these people are at the ESPN Zone. It's the Ultimate Couch Potato Competition under way in your city of New York.
HILL: Four contestants, there they are, in recliners in front of more than a dozen TVs. They get unlimited food and drinks. Here's the catch.
COOPER: Is that that guy from -- what's that band, Guns N' Roses? No. Never mind. Go on.
HILL: I missed it. Is Slash there or something?
COOPER: Wow, a giant potato.
HILL: Yes, and a giant potato. I think that's the trophy.
Here's the catch, though. They can't fall asleep in their Barcalounger or even leave the chair, except for a bathroom break once every eight hours. They're trying to set a new Guinness world record for watching sports on TV. Currently, that records stands at 69 hours and 48 minutes.
I have a feeling that Anderson Cooper, sports fan that he is...
HILL: ... may have set that record.
As for the winner, they get a new cozy recliner, a high-def TV, and, hopefully, that potato trophy.
COOPER: That's it? That's it?
They get a Barcalounger and a high-definition television?
HILL: Bragging rights. I mean, Bragging rights. Hello?
And then they can continue their quest in the comfort of their own Barcalounger...
COOPER: And I want to apologize to whoever was in that video, because the person I thought was Axl Rose was actually a woman.
COOPER: So, there you go.
I'm not sure if I should be apologizing to the woman or to Axl Rose, but either one, I don't think, really cares.
HILL: I don't -- yes.
COOPER: Let's check in with John Roberts, see what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.
Tomorrow, we're live in Iowa once again, the morning of the Iowa caucuses. The candidates are making their last appeals and join us live. Barack Obama, Ron Paul, John Edwards, Bill Richardson all join us live from Des Moines for a special Election Day edition of "AMERICAN MORNING."
It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Up next: to the politics of who to the politics of why. Which issues are important to caucus-goers in Iowa? If you're a Democrat, Iraq is your number-one priority. If you're a Republican, it's the economy, according to the polls, that is. All the issues, all the candidates, and a discussion with the best political team in the business is coming up tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Are you ready for change? Are you ready for quality, affordable health care for every American? Are you ready for a new energy policy on a day that oil has hit $100 a barrel, which it just did? Are you ready to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: On the eve of Iowa, Hillary Clinton there hitting the political hot buttons for Democratic voters, playing to her audience.
If all this buzz about Iowa has become political noise for you, Well, tonight, we're trying to cut through that, looking at which issues are important to voters, and stacking them up against what the candidates are saying and doing.
The top issue for Democrats in Iowa, Iraq. In a new poll from CNN and Opinion Research, more than a third of Democratic voters say the war is their number-one concern, next up, the U.S. economy and health care.
So, just what are the candidates' records?
Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By far, Iraq is the top concern here in Iowa among Democrats. Hillary Clinton voted for it, but now she says she wouldn't.
CLINTON: I have said that, as soon as I am inaugurated, I will ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense, my security advisers to give me a plan, so that I can begin to withdraw troops within 60 days.
JOHNS: Ditto John Edwards. He voted for force, now regrets it, and now wants the troops out ASAP. Barack Obama feels exactly the same, except that he spoke out against the war before it started.
OBAMA: We have to end the war in Iraq. It costs us $9 billion to $10 billion a month.
JOHNS (on camera): "Keeping Them Honest," that gives Obama bragging rights with the anti-war crowd, but, other than that, the top three Democrats are pretty much in lockstep.
(voice-over): Health care -- Clinton wants to mandate -- a Washington word for force -- health care coverage for all Americans. And anyone who can't afford it would get taxpayer money to help out.
Obama would create a national health care program for anyone who can't get one at work. Edwards puts the burden more squarely on employers: Either provide insurance or help your workers pay for it privately, or else.
EDWARDS: Tonight, 47 million people in America will go to bed knowing that, if their child gets up in the middle of the night sick, they're going to have to go to the emergency room and beg for health care, while the CEO of one of the biggest health care companies makes hundreds of millions of dollars.
JOHNS: Three candidates, two issues. And, while they may differ on the details, the goals are the same. Good luck choosing.
Joe Johns, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.
COOPER: Well, let's dig deeper now into the Democratic field with experts from the best political team on television. CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, he's advised several past presidents, Republicans and Democrats, including Bill Clinton. And Gloria Borger is also a senior political analyst with CNN.
David, according to our latest CNN poll, Clinton is considered the best to handle the top three issues, Iraq, the economy, and health care, and, yet, she finds herself -- probably much to her chagrin -- in this dogfight with Obama and Edwards. What is -- why isn't that alleged expertise, in people's eyes, translating into support?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, partly because I think that all three candidates do have, as Joe Johns just reported, very similar positions on the major issues. They all have -- they put similar emphasis. They sort of have -- want to have the government take the lead on health care, for example.
But partly, I think that this race in Iowa for the Democrats is not turning as much as it is for Republicans on the issues themselves. It's turning more on personalities, and it also -- you do find among the candidates a difference among the Democrats on how they would approach the issues.
You know, Edwards is taking a very strong view, being very confrontational. You go in, you've got to smash the corporate image. And Obama is taking just the opposite view. And that's we want to sit down with business. We want to sit down with pharmaceuticals. And Hillary is somewhere in between. So they're arguing a choice on what kind of philosophical approach.
COOPER: So personality is perhaps as important as any specific issue?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does, and when you talk to people in Iowa, as I did, and you ask them about these qualities of the candidates, the toughness of John Edwards comes through, he's going to fight for me.
And with Hillary Clinton, some Democrats I talked to said, "You know, we think she's a little too partisan. We want to get post- partisan. We want to work with Republicans." And Obama, somewhere in the middle on that.
GERGEN: I think Obama is -- you know, when we talk about post- partisan, we often think about Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, you know, who seems to transcend parties. And that's what Obama is trying to -- to come forward: "I'm going to be someone who's going to get beyond the fights of the past."
And Edwards is saying, "No, no, no. You've got it just wrong. The only way you're going to win is you got to fight harder."
BORGER: And don't forget electability is a big issue here, because Democrats, above all else, want to get the White House back. And when Hillary Clinton says that she knows how to beat Republicans, it's something they take seriously.
COOPER: The fact that things are going better in Iraq in terms of the military side of it, not the political side of it. But the military side of it. Has that changed the extent to which they're talking about Iraq on the trail?
COOPER: Has it changed Iraq as an issue? BORGER: Absolutely. I mean, you know, politics is a lagging indicator, and if people think that the surge is working in Iraq, which people do, then the issue of Iraq is going to come up less.
And also as Joe Johns just pointed out, the differences among the candidates on the Democratic side is very incremental. When would you get the troops out? How would you do that? Everybody wants to get the troops out of Iraq. It will be a huge issue in the general election, but right now I think it's a little more limited for the Democrats.
COOPER: And Hillary Clinton has been able to overcome her critics on Iraq from early on?
GERGEN: I think she has, Anderson, by and large. It took a while, and she stumbled around on it for a while. But now she and Barack Obama and John Edwards are in essentially the same place on Iraq.
If anything, Edwards is -- you know, the last 24, 48 hours, "The New York Times" had a big piece this morning, saying he's going to -- he wants to get all the troops out within 10 months, basically. And she and Barack Obama want to leave some contingent in there for training purposes.
COOPER: We're going to have more from David and Gloria a little bit later on in this hour. Up next, though, the other side of the aisle, the Republicans and their top concerns. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Immigration, terrorism. And the economy. What the top GOP candidates have to say on the issues that matter to their party. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And up close, Mike Huckabee and the evangelical factor.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Faith doesn't just influence me; it really defines me.
COOPER: A former Baptist minister with the support of Christian conservatives. Can they turn prayer into votes? 360 continues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president of the United States because I think we face a transcendent challenge of the 21st century in the form of radical Islamic extremists. This -- this is an evil that wants to destroy everything we stand for and we believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: John McCain in there highlighting one of the GOP's top campaign issues, terrorism. Now as you might guess, Republican voters in Iowa have very different priorities on their radar screens that the Democrats.
A new poll from CNN/Opinion Research shows that the weakening U.S. economy is top of the line for GOP voters, followed by immigration and terrorism.
As for how the voters concerns stack up against the candidates' records, once again, CNN's Joe Johns, "Keeping Them Honest."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney cut taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that defines a great leader?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My plan is to secure the border.
JOHNS (voice-over): Ads making you dizzy? Here's a quick guide. Feel free to apply directly to the forehead.
(on camera) The latest CNN poll says No. 1 for Iowa Republicans, the economy.
HUCKABEE: We have a system of taxes that penalizes you for your productivity. The harder you work, the more the government wants out of you.
JOHNS (voice-over): See that building. It's the IRS. If Mike Huckabee was president, it would be gone. That's right: no income taxes, no IRS. Instead you'd pay a national sales tax.
Mitt Romney wouldn't go quite that far. He'd make the Bush tax cuts permanent, get rid of the estate taxes, cut down capital gains taxes and take a look at a national sales tax.
"Keeping Them Honest," the president doesn't determine tax policy: Congress does.
On immigration, Huckabee's for the Bush plan to provide a path to citizenship for some illegals. And he thinks any plans to deport them all are just unworkable, which leaves the no compromise wing wide open for Mitt Romney.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I want them to come here legally. And illegal immigration is a burden, and that is something I will stop.
JOHNS: He opposes the Bush guest worker program, and he says the only way illegals should be able to apply for citizenship is to go home and do it again legally.
Joe Johns, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.
COOPER: Well, we're digging deep on the Republican side of the fence, our political gurus join us again, CNN's David Gergen and Gloria Borger.
It's interesting. Mitt Romney has the advantage. A lot of these issues, in terms of the polls, where people's heads are at on the Republican side, and yet he finds himself going toe to toe against Mike Huckabee.
GERGEN: Well, it isn't, Anderson. I think it's in part because he is so close to everything the polls show that there's a sense that his answers, his views on things are dictated by polls, rather than what he truly believes.
COOPER: Is that the equivalence of Hillary Clinton on the Democrat's side?
GERGEN: Yes, there's this authenticity. Each one has an authenticity problem with voters? Perception that they're -- that they're tailoring their remarks, they're tailoring their stances to cater to voters and, you know, to massage the erogenous zones of the voters. That's what's going on there.
BORGER: A Clinton-Romney race would be very interesting, because they both have the same problems.
BORGER: They would kind of cancel each other out in that area.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, in all of this, in Joe Johns' piece, you don't hear the name Rudy Giuliani mentioned at all. So much media focus right now on Iowa, where Giuliani really is not a player. His strategy all along has been Florida is the firewall. You know, it doesn't matter what happens early on. Is that a mistake now?
BORGER: Well, I...
COOPER: Or is it because we're focused on Iowa that, you know, it will be borne out?
BORGER: All of the above.
COOPER: We don't know?
BORGER: We really don't know. I mean, I think looking at it right now, I would have to say that Rudy Giuliani would have been a lot better off if he had been competing.
Maybe not in Iowa where he knew the evangelical Christians would not support him. But in New Hampshire, where Rudy Giuliani would have had a shot at some of those independent voters that John McCain is looking at. And on all of these issues we've been talking about -- on the economy, on immigration, on terrorism, particularly terrorism for Giuliani, that's his strong suit, and that's important to Republican voters. So I think he should have.
GERGEN: If Mitt Romney wins tomorrow night in Iowa, I think Rudy Giuliani's decision not to go into those early states is going to turn out to be a terrible mistake.
COOPER: A couple more minutes.
GERGEN: Whereas if Huckabee comes out and beats Romney, and McCain then does really well in New Hampshire it's a wide-open ball game, and Rudy's strategy may come out to work for him.
BORGER: To be fair to the Giuliani's people, they never thought of Mike Huckabee. Nobody thought of Mike Huckabee going anywhere.
GERGEN: The issues do make more of a difference in distinguishing the candidates and how voters are going on the Republican side. And what you see, Anderson, is a fracturing of the old Republican, the old Reagan coalition. Because Rudy Giuliani does not speak for the social conservatives, and that's the one of the reason he didn't go into Iowa.
Whereas Mike Huckabee speaks for the social conservatives. But a lot of the economic conservatives really dislike his economic plans. And they think he's a tax increaser. And you see similarly with Mitt Romney, he's used to the senator on everything or used to the poll numbers. But then people think he flipped his position.
COOPER: There's some talk that Mike Huckabee has peaked too soon. But is his support something that maybe just doesn't show up in polls? I mean, do we know who his people are? The depths of their support?
BORGER: We don't know. We don't know the depths of their support. We do know that he's risen very, very quickly and there has to be a reason for that. Part of that is the authenticity issue...
BORGER: ... we were talking about.
COOPER: Out of the YouTube debate, he had a huge wave of sort of authentic appeal.
BORGER: And that does appeal to voters, in these primaries. And on the issues, though, Huckabee does have some problems with real conservatives particularly on taxes.
Immigration, I might add also, is the real wedge issue in -- among Republican candidates. Because John McCain would be doing, I believe, a lot better in Iowa, even though he's not campaigning there, if he hasn't supported the president's immigration reform plan. And he's being penalized for that in the Republican Party. GERGEN: I think Huckabee had a real chance to take off. And it's not that he peaked too early, but that once attention turned to him, he started doing strange things.
In first place, his responses to the Bhutto assassination, you know, what we ought to do about Bhutto is we ought to build a fence between us and Mexico. It was like, "What?" He's not been in the loop on a lot of foreign policy questions.
I mean, to run off and do, to start that ad and going to Arkansas and make an ad and then pull the ad and then show it to the press, to guffaws on the reporters. There's been a weirdness factor here that I think has really startled a lot of reporters, and I think it's probably going to hurt him with a lot of the voters.
BORGER: He doesn't seem ready.
COOPER: Not ready for prime time?
BORGER: Not really.
COOPER: Gloria Borger, appreciate it. David Gergen, as well. Thanks very much.
Check out the 360 blog to see David Gergen's dream and nightmare scenarios for each of the candidates out of Iowa. It's a great blog. Go to CNN.com/360. You'll find insights, also, from 360's correspondents and contributors, so much more than what's just on television.
Issues are important, of course, but so is character. We've been talking about it. Especially to Christian voters, so-called value voters. This important voting block went looking for a candidate in '08 and seems to have found their man in Mike Huckabee. Up next, we'll take a look at what some are calling the Jesus factor, up close.
And another story we've been following: was Tatiana the tiger teased and taunted before that fatal mauling in the San Francisco Zoo? Items found inside the enclosure may offer new clues. We'll be right back.
And as we go to break, John Mellencamp is playing at a John Edwards rally in Iowa, one of many we'll be watching over the next hour. We'll take you to break with John Mellencamp.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: Wouldn't it be something if Iowa proved that the people of Iowa cannot be bought, that they can't even be rented for the night? That they, in fact, will stand on their own feet with their own convictions, and they will vote for someone who can lead this country, not because he can raise money but because he can raise the hopes, the dreams and the aspirations of ordinary Americans?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mike Huckabee there. Call it the Jesus factor. For many Christian conservatives, one candidate's beliefs trump nearly all other issues riding high in the polls, be they health care, war, immigration or even the economy.
In Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, many have found their man. Here's Gary Tuchman, up close with evangelical voters.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Grace Church in West Des Moines...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you with me? All right. Keep the down beat.
TUCHMAN: ... they're rapping the Bible...
PASTOR BILL DEVLIN, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the story of Jesus and then move on.
TUCHMAN: ... and spreading the word in an all-out battle for evangelical votes.
DEVLIN: We want to ignite people of faith when it's coming to involvement in the caucuses. Amen.
TUCHMAN: Evangelicals make up a huge 40 percent of Iowa's likely Republican caucus-goers. And the rise of Mike Huckabee...
HUCKABEE: Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me.
TUCHMAN: ... has many Christians enraptured.
MARYLYS FOSTER, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I had to search my heart, and I need to go with a guy that's for Christ.
TUCHMAN: Many Iowa Christian conservatives are telling us issues are important but the character of the fellow evangelical, a former minister no less, is irresistible.
PASTOR BOB DEEVER, GRACE CHURCH: Anybody who gets in the White House is going to have to learn a lot of things, but one thing you can't learn and be taught is how to be a follower of Christ.
TUCHMAN: Pastors are cajoling their congregations to vote their values.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the righteous rule, the people rejoice.
TUCHMAN (on camera): To preserve their tax-exempt status, places of worship cannot explicitly endorse candidates. But there's no stopping implicit endorsements, the words from the pulpit often being the equivalent of a wink.
PASTOR MIKE ROSE, FIRST FEDERATED CHURCH: I'm always going to look at the sanctity of human life. Does the candidate stand squarely in that area? I'm always going to be looking at the issue of marriage, one man for one woman.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Pastor Mike Rose presides over Des Moines First Federated Church.
(on camera) So you're not giving your congregants a name.
ROSE: That is correct.
TUCHMAN: But you're saying "life is important to me, traditional marriage." That obviously eliminates the Democrats. Rudy Giuliani too.
ROSE: Well, it certainly does eliminate certain candidates. They've made their positions known.
TUCHMAN: So if they agree with you, they shouldn't vote for these people?
ROSE: I would say if they're in agreement with me, they won't be voting for those people. That would be correct.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): The pastor's pick?
ROSE: Mike Huckabee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His strong family values.
TUCHMAN: But at Mitt Romney's headquarters, top Christian leaders are lobbying Iowa pastors.
JAY SEKULOW, CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: What I'm trying to do is get our position out there so that it's clear that we've got an alternative here. We're not electing a theologian-in-chief.
TUCHMAN: And Romney supporters are trying to neutralize an issue that appears to be helping Huckabee. Many evangelicals are troubled by the candidate's Mormon faith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have a hard time voting for a Mormon candidate.
TUCHMAN: A hurdle for Romney as he seeks the support of his party's most sought-after constituency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. Amen.
TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.
COOPER: I'll show you some live pictures now of some of the campaign events we have been watching over the course of this hour. On the left-hand side of your screen, you see Elizabeth Edwards, of course, wife of John Edwards. John there standing -- Senator Edwards standing behind her, their children on the stage, as well.
And on the right, a crowd waiting for Hillary Clinton to arrive. She's anticipated any moment. Just two of the campaign events in these final hours before the Iowa caucuses. All the candidates in a full-court press, with their family members trying to get out the vote as much as possible, get people to go to those caucuses tomorrow night.
Still ahead tonight, on the eve of reopening its big cat exhibit, the San Francisco Zoo says it may have new clues on what led to a fatal mauling on Christmas day.
And he survived a gruesome encounter with a bull, but the multiple wounds this guy has have him rethinking his plans in an unusual animal tradition. That's our "Shot of the Day," next.
COOPER: Coming up in our "Shot of the Day," we need to warn you that some viewers might find it too graphic to watch. It's from an annual bull festival in Colombia. This is the way this guy hoped to start off the new year. We'll get to what happened to him in a moment. He did survive.
But first Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, new developments tonight in the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. Police are looking at whether a large rock and tree branch found in the tiger den may have been used to taunt the tiger before it killed a 17-year-old and injured his two friends.
Meantime, the zoo is scheduled to reopen tomorrow with new security measures. Those include raising the wall around the tiger habitat about six and a half feet, bringing it up to 19 feet.
The big cats, though, will not be on display tomorrow.
The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed an outside prosecutor to oversee the case. The agency acknowledged last month it destroyed videos of officers using tough interrogation methods on two al Qaeda suspects.
Near Henderson, North Carolina, about 50 people taken to hospitals after the collision of a Greyhound bus and a tractor trailer. At least two of the injured, a bus driver and an elderly female passenger, were said to be in critical condition.
And definitely not a great start to 2008 for investors. Stocks tanked on the first trading day of the new year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dove 220 points to close at 13,043. The NASDAQ fell 43. The S&P posting a 21-point decline, Anderson.
COOPER: Not a great way to start out the year. But we'll see.
It wasn't a great start to -- for 2008 for this guy. Take a look at him. He ushered in the new year the way many of us do, with a bullfight. It's our "Shot of the Day," and it's a gory one as 360 continues.
COOPER: Time now for "The Shot of the Day," and we want to want you it's graphic and, for some viewers, may be too painful to watch, but the guy does survive. It comes to us from an annual bull festival in Columbia. Hundreds of people getting down in the ring nose to nose with the mighty beast.
And take a look at this guy. Hard to believe as you watch that, that is a man. It's not a dummy. He's being tossed around like a rag doll.
HILL: How does anybody survive that?
COOPER: More than once today, at least five times that we can count.
COOPER: He was gored in the face, the neck, the legs and the abdomen. Turns out this guy is no newcomer to this so-called game. He told a reporter he's been gored 55 times in the last four years.
COOPER: He says now he thinks it may be time to throw in the towel or the bull or whatever.
HILL: You think? Maybe.
COOPER: There he is. He's giving an interview.
Incidentally, it's worth mentioning that an average of 20 participants die every year in these Columbian bull festivals. In fact, the only certain survivor is El Toro himself, the bull, because in Columbia, it is forbidden to kill the bull. Bizarre. Yes.
HILL: I'm not going to comment.
COOPER: Best not.
HILL: I'll get in trouble.
COOPER: Let's move along.
We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. You see some remarkable video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of the best clips on the air.
A shot at the presidency begins tomorrow night in Iowa for 2008 White House hopefuls. Coming up, candidates and the issues. Plus, the strange political process of voting caucus-style. Do you know how it works? Probably not. You will find out, though, ahead. Best political team in the business will sort out how caucus wheeling and dealing really works and explain why a good showing in Iowa, well, can make or break a candidate.
All that, just ahead on 360.
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