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Who's More Electable; Asian-American Voters; Terror at City Hall, Prison Mafia

Aired February 8, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: People across the country go to the polls this week. And they're going to be looking not just who they prefer, but who they think can win in November.
Tonight, crucial new polling numbers on which Democrat, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama does better against the leading Republican John McCain. Each side claims to be more electable. We've got the hard figures. Find them out ahead.

Also tonight, uncovering America. We discover why Asian-American voters prefer Hillary Clinton. What may surprise you is how little it apparently has to do with race.

Also tonight - a motive behind the madness. What drove a man to come unglued, killing five people at a city council hearing in a quiet suburban town before police officers took him out.

We begin tonight with politics and frequent flyer miles. Three key races tomorrow for the Democrats, all but tied going in, a primary in Louisiana and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington state.

Here is what happened on the campaign trail today. It was another rock star crowd for Barack Obama, 18,000 supporters packing a basketball arena in Seattle. 3,000 others were turned away at the door. Hillary Clinton meantime also speaking in Seattle, holding town hall events in Spokane and working class Tacoma and generally complaining today that Washington's caucus format favors Senator Obama.

Meantime GOP front runner John McCain hit Norfolk, Virginia. The Virginia primary is on Tuesday. Larry just mentioned that. And then he headed to Wichita, Kansas for the GOP caucuses there tomorrow.

As for Mike Huckabee, he also hit the stump in Wichita with a key new conservative endorsement in his pocket, evangelical leader James Dobson. We'll talk about that.

Dr Dobson's endorsement came as the conservative political action committee was meeting; CPAC is what it was called and its members this year were hot for Mike Huckabee and for Mitt Romney and pretty cool to John McCain.

As you'll see, they welcomed President Bush today, but the national figure who seemed to get more attention than any of them isn't conservative, isn't even Republican. It's Hillary Clinton.

CNN's Joe Johns now with the raw politics on why conservatives both hate her and want to see more of her.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the grand ballroom, the president is the star.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us go forward, fight for victory and keep the White House in 2008. God bless you.

JOHNS: But just down a twisty corridor, the star of the exhibit hall is Hillary Clinton; and for good reason. She is the white hot focus of conservative scorn. And the more successful she is, the angrier they get and the easier it is to incite like-minded conservatives. And, oh, by the way use her to raise money.

(on camera) And Senator Clinton's face is prominently displayed on a number of t-shirts they have on sale here, "Fear Itself", "Same Old Socialism", there's even a picture of her appearing with Joseph Stalin.

In fact, they despise her so much they say they'd love to see her win the nomination. Why? Because in this view, the campaign to stop Hillary Clinton will bring Republican voters out in droves and give them another reason to write a check.

Hillary is a rain maker for Republican moneymen. She's so polarizing she's worth millions for conservatives if she's the Democratic nominee, even more if she wins the White House.

Richard Viguerie is an icon of the conservative movement and of conservative fund-raising.

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: I don't advocate this, I don't want it. But if she were to be elected in November, I think the Democrats would be wiped out in the next congressional election.

JOHNS: Lanny Davis, a long-time Clinton loyalist understands why Hillary is good for the conservative core.

LANNY DAVIS: Because the ideological rite says they prefer Hillary doesn't mean that Hillary is not the stronger candidate. It means that they see an advantage to running against Hillary for their own fundraising purposes.

JOHNS: Here at CPAC it's the high road.

BUSH: Our views are grounded in timeless truths.

JOHNS: -- and the low road. And the argument over whether it's best to win the White House or get back to the conservative glory days of fighting the Clintons is still very much alive.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, assuming for a moment they actually want to win, some recent polling supports the idea that they'd have a better chance if Senator Clinton were the nominee. It shows her leading over Senator McCain by three points in a hypothetical match up. But with a margin of error, that's effectively a tie.

An Obama-McCain face off, on the other hand, comes up with Obama up by eight points which is statistically significant. As for why the answer could be independents.

Another poll done by Time magazine found out when it's McCain-Clinton, independents choose McCain. But when it's McCain-Obama, they prefer Obama.

Here to talk about that and more politics is CNN's senior political analyst David Bergen, Mitt Romney's senior adviser, Bay Buchanan and blogger Keli Goff.

David, what do these numbers actually tell you? I mean, should Republicans be praying Hillary Clinton wins the nomination?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They have been looking for that for a long time. They do believe that she's the candidate they can beat. And they think that John McCain, as much as conservatives are wary of him, they think he's the one person who can beat her, because he can take those independents, and he might even be able to draw upon some Democratic voters.

There are a number of people who are wary of her or don't like her for whatever reason and who would not ordinarily choose John McCain because of ideological reasons, but may go to him nonetheless. That's the Democratic -- the Republican hope.

And so Obama I think does have this electability argument on his side. On the other hand, the Clinton people argue, I think with some persuasiveness, that Senator Obama has not been tested the way she has been. He has got gone through the rigors of a national campaign and had all sorts of things thrown at him.

And they say he's a risk, that he would wither in the face of those kind of attacks, and that John McCain would actually pounce on him and chew him up.

So, you know, I think the Obama people have the numbers, but the Clinton argument should not be totally dismissed.

COOPER: Bay Buchanan, Dr. James Dobson endorsed Huckabee, as we said. Where does that leave McCain in terms of -- we have heard so much about him trying to reach out to conservatives. Can he?

BAY BUCHANAN, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: He's going to have to. It's going to take some time; there's no question.

I think, with social conservatives, there's an element, James Dobson and the Family Research Council, there's going to be an element that very likely will never come, certainly not publicly endorse him, simply because their issues are too expansive. The stem cell research will keep them from doing so. His lack of willingness to support a marriage amendment will keep them from doing so.

But I think -- I think John McCain will be able to kind of have a path that he gives social conservatives, because he will make a commitment about the judges -- he will have to -- an absolute, without-question certainty that he will give us the judges, and they will start moving in that direction.

His real problem, Anderson, is not the social conservatives, in my opinion. It is the amnesty conservatives, the immigration fellows, the real energy behind the conservative movement in the last four years, of which the talk radio hosts are the real voice and the leaders in the movement with respect to that.

And they cannot just back away and overnight start to support him. He's been the Darth Vader for this army against amnesty. And that's not going to change.

COOPER: Keli, President Bush spoke at the conference today. He didn't especially endorse McCain, but he did urge Republicans to mobilize behind their nominee.

I just want to play some of what he said.


BUSH: We have had good debates, and, soon, we will have a nominee, who will carry a conservative banner into this election and beyond.

Listen, the stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance.


COOPER: Keli, President Bush remains popular among his conservative Republican base. Do you think he's going to be able to help McCain win over the conservatives in the party this time?

KELI GOFF, BLOGGER/POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's really interesting, Anderson, watching the relationship between McCain and the president play out on the campaign trail. It's sort of deja vu all over again, shades of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 2000, if you remember, in that Al Gore found himself in the untenable position of really needing Bill Clinton to help him lock down the base, lock down African-American voters.

But you also had the impeachment scandal lingering. And so President Clinton wasn't exactly particularly popular in some of the swing states. And, so, it's a really tough call for McCain, because we all know that he doesn't have the best relationship with conservatives, who still do appreciate the president, as you noted.

But, on the other hand, he needs to stay as far away from them as possible to win over some of those independent voters. COOPER: David, how much of this concern for McCain about reaching out to conservatives is going to come into play when he picks his vice presidential nominee?

GERGEN: A lot.

I do think he's going to have to make -- certainly, he's going to have to choose someone that conservatives will be pleased with. He can't afford probably to have somebody that they are as suspicious of as they are of him.

On the other hand, I think he's also got a couple other vulnerabilities that are pretty strong. And one of them is certainly going to be the economy. He -- twice in recent times, he said, "I really don't know much about economics."

And, so, he will need somebody who can shore that up, or at least have some people around him who will send a signal to the country that -- in the midst of a recession, you want somebody that knows what they're doing on economic issues.

I think that -- I have to tell you that, in some ways, John McCain has not been fully vetted in this campaign either, because he was counted out. And, so, the press really hasn't taken the look at him. And I think he's going to have to go through that process. And it may be tougher than some Republicans now think.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Bay Buchanan and David Gergen and Keli Goff coming up. Stay right there. So, all of you, we will join you back in a couple minutes.

Up next - how tomorrow maps out and beyond state by state, delegate by delegate.


COOPER (voice-over): From the bayou...


COOPER: ... to the breadbasket, to the Pacific Northwest...


COOPER: Primaries and caucuses all other the map. We will show you what issues are playing where and which candidate is out ahead in the weekend races.

Later - the Asian factor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you like for president?


COOPER: He's not alone. What is it about Hillary Clinton that's winning Asian-American votes? Some surprising answers that have nothing to do with race -- when 360 continues.



COOPER: We are live blogging all during tonight's program. If you want to join in on the conversation about what you're watching tonight, you can go to and join the discussion.

I'm logging as much -- blogging as much as I can during the commercial breaks.

John McCain is looking increasingly comfortable with his big lead heading into the next Republican primary this weekend in Kansas. But, as we mentioned at the top of the program, the Democrats are voting this weekend as well in Louisiana and Washington State, where both race and income levels appear to favor Obama, and in Nebraska and Maine, where the Clinton campaign seems stronger.

But the Democratic race is so close right now, that both Obama and Clinton are facing a very big map, with no clear path to victory now.

Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These states in gold are all of the states that have yet to vote in this very tight Democratic race. The biggest prizes still out there, Virginia and North Carolina, each with more than 100 delegates, large black populations -- Obama expects to do very well there, and in Maryland, too, close by, has almost as many delegates.

Pennsylvania and Ohio, even bigger delegate loads, lots of traditional lower-income Democrats. That's promising for Hillary Clinton. And Texas could be good for her, too, big Latino population down here, and again, a tremendous number of delegates. Look at that.

But don't ignore the smaller states, of course. There are a lot of them, and some analysts expect Obama to do very well there. But none of this is certain. And the way the Democrats divide delegates based on a percentage of the vote in each state, Obama and Clinton will almost certainly split most of them. That's the problem.

Look at the math. To win the Democratic nomination, you need 2,025 delegates at the convention. If you count all the delegates they have won and add their super delegates which, of course, is a whole story of its own, both candidates are still far short of what they need.

If Clinton won absolutely everything, it would still take almost a month for her to clinch, Obama just a little bit more. And if they keep splitting the votes the way they have been, neither one can go to the convention with the majority that he or she needs.

So, this weekend, watch not just for who is winning, but also who is winning where he or she shouldn't be, because that will tell you if one campaign is developing cracks that could make it crumble. Anderson.


COOPER: Tom, thanks very much.

We are going to talk with our panel about which campaign could crumble first and the very real possibility of what some Democrats fear the most, a brokered convention. We will also explain exactly what that is in a moment. That is all ahead.

But, first, Joe Johns joins us with a 360 bulletin. Joe.

JOHNS: Anderson, a 360 follow on a massive explosion at a sugar refinery near Savannah, Georgia. So far, four bodies have been recovered from the wreckage. Four other workers are still missing. Investigators say the blast may have been sparked by sugar dust that can blow up if it gets too dry.

In Baton Rouge, at Louisiana Technical College, a woman fatally shot two students in a classroom, before killing herself. The motive is unknown.

And in the college town of Berkeley, California, a battle against the Marines. The anti group -- war group CODEPINK protesting at a downtown recruitment office after a city council approved a measure urging the Marines to leave town. Now some GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill are threatening to take away more than $2 million in federal funding for the city and U.C. Berkeley. Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, stay with us, a lot of politics ahead. We are going to talk with the best political team on television about the next round of caucuses and primaries starting tomorrow.

Plus, we're looking for a new voice for 360. You know, NBC has Michael Douglas. Well, tonight, another big-name celebrity gives us their voice. Will she be our new announcer? You can judge for yourself.

Also, a mom in trouble with the law after throwing a birthday party for her 11-year-old daughter. The cops say there was a lot more than soda and cake on the menu. The question is, what was she thinking? Next.


COOPER: Joe, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?" Cops in Anderson, Indiana, say a mom through quite a birthday party for her 11-year-old daughter. Get this. Twenty-six-year-old Davita Fuller is accused of giving marijuana and beer to her own child and offering it as well to other kids at the party.

She was arrested, posted bond. Investigators say she admits to smoking pot and drinking at the party, but she denies giving any of it to the kids. She could face up to eight years in prison if convicted of the charges. What was she thinking? Still ahead, we're going to pick up with politics where Tom Foreman left off a bit earlier. We will focus on a group of voters who don't usually get a lot of attention, but are going to have a lot of influence on tomorrow's caucuses in Washington State.

Plus, politics turn deadly in Kirkwood, Missouri. What caused a gunman to go on a shooting rampage inside city hall? Bizarre story -- coming up.


COOPER: There is no rest for the weary in the race for the White House and no such thing as a quiet weekend. It is going to be a busy weekend really for all the candidates, especially the Democrats, who are possibly heading towards what they fear the most, a brokered convention.

I'm joined again by CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, conservative analyst and senior adviser to Mitt Romney Bay Buchanan and author and political analyst Keli Goff.

So, David, I'm not even going to really pretend that I can fully explain what a brokered convention is. There are a lot of people talking about maybe the Democrats having one. What does it mean?

GERGEN: Basically that no candidate arrives at the convention with enough delegates to win the first ballot. And, after the first ballot, or even before, there's a lot of backroom wheeling and dealing to cut deals to see -- to get delegates to come your way in order to win, if not on the first ballot, then at least on the second.

That's a brokered convention - hasn't happened in a long time.

COOPER: Bay, but do you think there's a possibility it's going to happen this time?

GERGEN: Absolutely.

BUCHANAN: Yes, it is. I do believe it is.

And, Anderson, I'm telling you, it's going to be an ugly scene for the Democrats, because there's nobody better. It becomes an insider's game, credentials battles and things like that.

The people that are the pros are the establishment. The Clintons will excel at this. They're going to be giving away Cabinet positions, I will guarantee you, before they are going to give up this election. And they will win that nomination, and it won't be pretty. And I think the Obama supporters will be outraged if that happens. They will not believe it's fair, and there could be a real divided Democratic Party going into November.

COOPER: Keli...

GOFF: And let's not forget the super delegate issue, too.

COOPER: Right.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

COOPER: And -- right. And super -- but super delegates kind of bend with the breeze, from my understanding.

GOFF: I think that that's a little tough to say, because a lot of them tend to -- you know, the -- the overall perception -- and correct me if I'm wrong here, anyone, David or whoever else -- is that it tends to favor sort of the old establishment candidate, because most of the people are activists. A lot of them are elected officials.

And I don't think you are going to see people like Congresswoman Maxine Waters or Charles Rangel or whoever go with the wind on this one.


GOFF: I mean, if they have signed up for Hillary, they have got to kind of stick with her.

GERGEN: Well, here's the...

GOFF: And I think that there could be a bit of a -- you know, a sense of a Florida recount here, where people feel like, I don't understand.

COOPER: Right.

GOFF: I voted for this person. They got the most delegates. Why is this person not the nominee?

COOPER: David, I want to play you something that Bill Clinton said this morning. He was asked if he had any regrets about what he had been saying on the campaign trail. He was asked about the kind of role that he would take in a Hillary Clinton White House. Here is what he said.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the mistake that I made is to think that I was a spouse like any other spouse, who could defend his candidate. I think I can promote Hillary, but not defend her, because I was president.

I have to let her defend herself or have someone else defend her. I will do what I'm asked to do. I will not be in the Cabinet. I will not be on the staff full-time. I will not in any way interfere with the work of a strong vice president, a strong secretary of state, strong secretary of the treasury.

I will do what we have always done for each other. I will let her bounce ideas off of me. I will tell her what I think. You know, we will talk through things. And I will be available for whatever specific assignments seem right.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: David, do you think this is the role Bill Clinton will play on the campaign trail heretofore, or -- I mean, moving forward, or do you think, if push comes to shove, we are going to see the kind of stuff we saw post-South Carolina coming back?

GERGEN: Well, that was a very contrite Bill Clinton. And I think he spoke to a lot of the concerns that people have.

He did leave one little bit of wiggle room people are calling attention to. He said, "I will not be on the staff full-time."

And that -- but other -- but, beyond that, I think it was a very wise statement, generous statement. If this comes down to the rough-and- tumble, he's fierce.

And, you know, he may let loose again at some point. I don't think there's any guarantee of that at all, because I -- against that at all, because he does care.

COOPER: You know...

GERGEN: And, you know, he's -- he's a man who plays jazz, and he likes to riff. And the moment may come when he will riff again.

COOPER: It's all improv

Bay Buchanan, we're talking about Democrats, but a couple of viewers on our blog pointed out that I kind of gave short shrift to Mike Huckabee.

So, I actually want to ask you a Huckabee question. What is keeping him in it at this point? I mean, what is -- what do you think he is hoping for?

BUCHANAN: Well, he loves all this attention. He has been running this entire campaign to be the vice president. And, so, now he's trying to figure out, what is the best way to get onto that ticket?

If he stays in and does well in a few more states, then it will show McCain, might indicate to McCain that if he brings him, he can win the Southern states for him, like he's done in the last couple weeks here, and bring some of those evangelicals McCain may be having trouble with.

But his real problem is, in order to do well, he has to beat up on McCain. He has to separate himself from McCain.

And doing that makes it less likely he will be the vice president. So, he's in a lose-lose situation right now. And I think he's going to have to decide what's best for the party and step aside soon.

COOPER: Keli, this weekend, for Democrats, what are you going to be watching for?

GOFF: I'm going to be watching for -- to see sort of how well Obama does in some of these races that we're expecting him to win, such as Louisiana, because, you know, as David pointed out before, it's about looking for whose campaign has the cracks.

In terms of momentum, I really think that, you know, Hillary Clinton is the one who has a lot of ground to make up here, simply because she's so far behind on the money game. I mean, Obama has enough cash that, if he has a couple of missteps, he can keep going.

And, right now, the calendar, in terms of some of these states that have larger African-American populations, Louisiana, Maryland...


GOFF: ... the calendar favors him a bit.

So, I think that, in terms of the person who sort of needs to gain some ground here, it's going to be Clinton. She might be biding her time and waiting for these big states that have larger Latino populations to really bump her up later down the road.

COOPER: We're going to be talking about the Asian-American population, which is a population that isn't talked about as much, or hasn't been so far in this race. But, with Washington State coming up, it is going to play an important role. We're going to talk about that coming up.

David Gergen, Bay Buchanan, Keli Goff, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.

GOFF: Thank you.


COOPER: As I said, we're going to focus on the Asian-American population in Washington and which candidate they seem to be favoring right now and why. It has little to do with race.

Here is tonight's "Beat 360." Senator Obama talking with a 5- year- old girl during his visit to a New Orleans elementary school damaged during Hurricane Katrina.

So, here is the caption from our staff winner, David: "Little girl, it looks like you're leaning to the right. Let me help you."

I think it's not too bad. See, her head is leaning to the right?

Anyway, if you think you can do better, go to Send us your submission. We will announce the winner at the end of the program tonight.


COOPER: Well, for Democrats, Washington caucuses are the single biggest contest this weekend, 78 delegates at stake there. Recent polls show Barack Obama with an edge, but hey, you know, what do the polls really mean, as we've seen before? He does have a weakness in Washington, though, a state with one of the highest percentages of Asian-American voters. It's not a block where the Illinois senator finds much support. So the question is why.

"Uncovering America" tonight, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Chinese New Year is just underway. And in Seattle's Chinatown, people are buying festive provisions at the Awaja Maya (ph) grocery store and talking to us about the upcoming Washington caucuses, in a state that has the fifth highest percentage of Asian-Americans in the country.

(on camera) Who do you like for president?





TUCHMAN (on camera): Clinton?


TUCHMAN: Who do you like?


TUCHMAN: Clinton? Who do you like?


TUCHMAN: Clinton. Does any -- Lincoln? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lincoln.


TUCHMAN: Abraham Lincoln? He's not running.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jokes aside, that Abe Lincoln vote is one more than Barack Obama got in our unofficial store survey.

(on camera) As he campaigns in Washington state, it appears that Barack Obama has his work cut out for him when it comes to the Asian- American vote. In California he essentially broke even among white voters. But among Asian-Americans, our exit polling indicates that he lost by an almost three-to-one margin in the state that has the second highest percentage of Asian-Americans.

(voice-over) Hawaii, by the way, is the No. 1 state. So what's going on? Political scientists we talked with say many Asians and Latinos who recently arrived here are often more comfortable with what is familiar and are wary of one of the mantras in this campaign, change.

PROF. MATT BARRETO, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: They remember good times in the 1990s. There was a lot of benefits; not only the economy but other policies that benefited immigrants and, in particular, Asian-Americans that would cause them to remember the Clintons in fondness.

CLINTON: This is so amazing. I am so happy to be here.

TUCHMAN: Some people we talked with acknowledged that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her husband is, you know, ex-president of the United States. Maybe he can help Hillary Clinton.

TUCHMAN: Asian-Americans are a diverse group coming from countries ranging from Japan to India to the Philippines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I personally think that Hillary is the candidate for the job.

TUCHMAN: But in this Seattle teahouse, a different sentiment.


TUCHMAN: Travis Susaka (ph), a fourth-generation Japanese- American, offered this observation about why more Japanese-Americans don't support Obama the way he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say a lot of Japanese Americans are very -- they don't like change, are kind of against change. So they would just rather vote for a Caucasian rather than taking the initiative to change what has happened in the past.

TUCHMAN: This woman actually refers to Hillary Clinton's skin color.


TUCHMAN (on camera): So do you like Hillary Clinton?


TUCHMAN: Do you like Obama?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Obama had a large number of Asian- Americans at this huge Seattle rally but didn't appear to be near the percentage of the rally for the senator from New York. Advantage, Clinton.


COOPER: Gary joins me now from Seattle. Are Obama's advisors concerned about this perceived lack of Asian-American support?

TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, they're not happy about it. But they do think they will do better with the Asian-Americans here during the Washington caucuses tomorrow.

They're also very ecstatic that they got the endorsement of Christine Gregoire, the governor of Washington who made her endorsement at this big rally today.

I'll tell you, Anderson. There's no correlation between becoming president of the United States and the size of a rally. But Obama's rallies keep getting bigger and bigger. The key arena, where the Seattle Sonics play basketball, they wish they had crowds like this - more than 18,000 people outside. They say there are 3,000 people who couldn't get inside.

But I'll tell you, walk outside at one point, and there were hundreds of people just sitting on the stairs, listening to Obama talk on a loud speaker.

COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman. Appreciate it, Gary.

Coming up tonight, another all-star celebrity contender for the voice of 360. It's all kind of tongue in cheek. I hope you all know that. Who will it be? Well, let's just say she's both famous and infamous for her voice.

Also ahead tonight, these stories.


COOPER (voice-over): Taxpayers funded the system, and criminals ran it.

JAMES MCDONOUGH, FORMER FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS SECRETARY: Essentially what you had was a psychopath in charge of the department.

COOPER: A state prison system run like a giant crime machine, with wardens and guards all in on it. Tonight, see what it took to clean it up.

Also tonight, terror at city hall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard three, four, maybe five more shots.

COOPER: Five dead. The gunman dead. Now we're learning what really drove the man who turned the halls of one town's government into a shooting gallery. Tonight on 360.


COOPER: He once ran the third largest state-run prison system in America. Now, he is an inmate, accused of operating a virtual jailhouse mafia. His crime family may have included hundreds of prison guards and supervisors. This story is unbelievable. The charges are shocking, and allegations of bribes and beatings and orgies, even.

In a 360 investigation, Florida secretary of the Department of Corrections, James McDonough, is speaking out about what his predecessor did behind bars.

CNN's Abbie Boudreau joins us now with more. Abby?

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you'd expect the inmates to be the most dangerous people in a prison, but in his last interview before stepping down just yesterday, James McDonough tells us why some of the most corrupt people were the ones in charge.


BOUDREAU (voice-over): Imagine, 90,000 inmates in a vast prison system, owned by taxpayers and run as a criminal enterprise with the man in charge, James Crosby, the worst offender.

MCDONOUGH: Essentially, what you had was a psychopath in charge of the department. He was very gracious to those in power. He was very mean to those without power.

BOUDREAU: The list of alleged abuses and crimes is long: top prison officials admitting to kickbacks; guards importing and selling steroids; taxpayer funds to pay for booze and women.

(on camera) Why was it in such bad shape that you had to come in and step in so quickly?

MCDONOUGH: Corruption had gone to an extreme.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): And intimidation. Corrupt guards punishing other guards who threatened to report them.

MCDONOUGH: A bunch of them would get into a vehicle, roll up to another officer's house and beat him up and tell him, "If you tell anybody that we did this to you, we'll come back and kill you."

BOUDREAU: It was like that until two years ago when James McDonough got the call. Then Florida Governor Jeb Bush needed his help immediately.

MCDONOUGH: The phone call came at 11 p.m. at night. And at 7 in the morning I was in charge.

BOUDREAU (on camera): Are these murderers, rapists? What kind of criminals are here?

(voice-over) McDonough is a tough guy, a former Army colonel who commanded troops in Vietnam and Africa. He served as the drug czar in Florida.

His first day on the job he walked into his new office, the same office his predecessor, James Crosby had used, the man McDonough says ran the prisons like a mafia chieftain.

(on camera) If it was run like the mafia, who was the Godfather?

MCDONOUGH: The Godfather was the secretary of the department.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): That secretary, James Crosby, would later plead guilty to bribery charges in relation to kickbacks from a prison vendor. He's now locked up in a federal prison. He refused CNN's request for an interview.

MCDONOUGH: Everybody behaving themselves?

BOUDREAU: For more than a month, McDonough took stock.

MCDONOUGH: How long have you been with us?

BOUDREAU: And then he cleaned house with a vengeance. His message?

MCDONOUGH: You don't have my trust and confidence, your services are no longer needed. You have 24 hours to get out of this organization.

BOUDREAU: Before he was done, McDonough would fire 90 top prison officials -- wardens, supervisors, colonels and majors -- claiming many were corrupt and, at the very least, not to be trusted. He demoted 280 others. Criminal charges were filed against more than 40, and most were convicted.

MCDONOUGH: Then I had another report from an officer who said she was raped at an orgy.

BOUDREAU: That's right, orgies. McDonough says they were common here, at this waterfront home built on prison grounds for a former warden with taxpayer dollars.

MCDONOUGH: This is where an awful lot of the partying went on.

BOUDREAU (on camera): So what kinds of things happened in this house?

MCDONOUGH: Well, I'm told all sorts of bad things.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Complete with a pool table, bar and hot tub. CNN obtained these photos of some of the parties. Here you can see prisoners setting up for one of the events.

(on camera) You think it's gone? In two years you're able to come in here and clean everything up? Corruption is gone?

MCDONOUGH: That's what I'm saying - an organized vein of corruption is gone.

BOUDREAU: Did it ever matter to you if you were hated?

MCDONOUGH: I would like to think that more people appreciated the leadership than despised the fact that I weeded them out and threw them out for the bums they were.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: It's unbelievable what this -- his predecessor was -- seemed to be doing. Do most people in Florida's prison system give McDonough high marks? I mean, do they say he succeeded in cleaning house?

BOUDREAU: Well, McDonough has his critics, mostly corrections officers. Some of those guys say he was too heavy-handed. And the question, really, whether he really did clean house. McDonough, though, stands by his story and plans to write a book about it -- Anderson.

COOPER: It's an unbelievable story. Abbie thanks very much. Abbie Boudreau.

Ethics and government is a lightning-rod issue, of course. We were struck by a new report that 57 percent of federal and state workers surveyed have witnessed violations of ethics, policy or the law in the past year alone. That's a million and a half workers.

We'd like your help in "Keeping Them Honest." If you know of an ethics violation in government, we'd like to hear about it. Go to, click on the blog by 360 correspondent Joe Johns.

Up next tonight, terror inside city hall - five people killed, a mayor critically injured. Tonight, what may have sparked the rampage.

Plus, a new warning about the possible deadly side effects of Botox. Before you get another injection, you'll want to see this report, next.


COOPER: Silent and heartbreaking. There you see a candlelight vigil for the victims of yesterday's massacre in Kirkwood, Missouri. The town will never be the same after last night's rampage.

A gunman opened fire at a city council meeting, killing five people before he was shot dead by police. Two others, including the mayor, were injured.

Now, the clues to the suspect's motives are being spelled out tonight by the people who knew him and by his own words, including a suicide note.

The latest now from CNN's Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The horror inside Kirkwood, Missouri, city hall started, according to witnesses, moments after the Pledge of Allegiance. Charles "Cookie" Thornton burst into a city council meeting yelling, quote, "Kill the mayor." Thornton had already shot and killed Police Sergeant William Biggs in the parking lot. Then, he took aim at others.

TRACY PANUS, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: After he shot Sergeant Biggs, he did take his gun. So at that point, he had two guns.

ROWLANDS: The next to die, witnesses say, was another police officer, Tom Ballman, who was standing at his regular post inside city council chambers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was probably a foot away from Officer Tom Ballman. And he had some kind of a placard in his hand. And as soon as I looked up he dropped whatever he had in his hand. I saw two guns in his hand. He immediately shot Ballman in the chest.

ROWLANDS: Thornton's rampage didn't end until police shot and killed him and not before he killed three more people, including two city council members and the public works director. Thornton also shot the mayor in the head and local newspaper reporter Todd Smith.

TODD SMITH, REPORTER: He turned my direction and shot me in the arm, and then I -- then everything went kind of -- the shots were fired, and then I turned around and left the building.

ROWLANDS: Charles "Cookie" Thornton has a long history at city hall. In 2006, he was arrested twice for disrupting public meetings. Once for getting up during public comment time and reporting the word jackasses into the microphone until police hauled him away.

ALAN HOPEFL, SHOOTING WITNESS: He would make, like, inappropriate noises, heehawing like a donkey. He'd, like, make derogatory comments.

ROWLANDS: Two weeks ago a federal judge ruled against Thornton in a lawsuit he had against the city which, family and friends say, may have set him off.

MARSHALL SHAW, SUSPECT'S FRIEND: I had no idea he would do something like this, you know. It got to where he was at the boiling point and he just snapped.

GERALD THORNTON, SUSPECT'S BROTHER: The only way that I can put it in context that you might understand is that my brother went to war tonight, with the people that were of the government that was putting torment and strife into his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you through your death have offered immortality for us.

ROWLANDS: What's unclear is whether city officials saw Thornton as simply a nuisance or a sideshow or if anyone realized he was the time bomb he turned out to be.


COOPER: Ted is live in Kirkwood, Missouri. Ted, I saw his brother -- you had him in your piece -- kind of all day on television, kind of defending what his brother did, I mean, saying that his brother viewed it as going to war against the government, just like the U.S. government goes to war in Iraq. I mean, it seems like at least the brother kind of wasn't all that surprised. ROWLANDS: Well, maybe not all that surprised, but definitely sympathetic, you're right. And we found that from neighbors and family members, as well.

They say this whole thing started a few years ago. He was a contractor, this Thornton was. And he said apparently, he had got some parking tickets, and things just went south. And for years he's been carrying this grudge.

But people in the neighborhood say he's the nicest guy, knew everybody, was always smiling; two different worlds. Whether there was mental illness in there or not, who knows? But family members say, no, there was no evidence of that at all.

And like -- you're right - they seem very sympathetic to him, saying that he was just simply pushed over the edge, almost disregarding the fact that he killed five innocent people.

COOPER: Yes, unbelievable. Kirkwood, Missouri. Ted Rowlands, thanks.

One more quick note on politics. What we know and what we don't, which is plenty; a lot of unknowns between now and November.

Here's what's certain. Whoever wins the White House is going to face some extreme challenges once he or she takes office. Probably -- perhaps, some have said the biggest challenges any president has ever faced, at least in our lifetime.

We're going to dig deeper into those challenges Monday night on 360. Here's a preview of some of what the new president will face with Iran.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Because of that National Intelligence Estimate, the pressure to bomb Iran is off. But the problem of Iran continues. Iran is acquiring nuclear energy, and it will have the capacity and the knowledge to make nuclear weapons.

What the president can do at this point is sanctions. But sanctions aren't working. Everyone knows they're not working. So I think what the next president confronts is the awkward choice, which is he has to decide whether to talk to Iran and to see if, in some way, a carrot and stick approach, that is using some sticks but also some carrots, is going to work, or does he keep rationing out the carrots?


COOPER: It's an interesting special report: "Extreme Challenges: The Next 4 Years." That's going to air Monday night at 11 p.m. Eastern Time. We'll, of course, have a regular program on at 10 p.m. Eastern.

For a look at the latest headlines, Joe Johns joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin." Joe. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Hi, Anderson.

President Bush spent the day today with tornado survivors in Tennessee after declaring five counties major disaster areas. Tornados hammered Tennessee and four other states Tuesday, killing 60 people.

The Treasury Department says it will begin sending out tax rebate checks in May. Yesterday, the House followed the Senate's lead and approved a $167-billion stimulus bill. President Bush is expected to sign it next week.

The popular anti-wrinkle drug Botox and a similar product, Myobloc, have been linked to dangerous side effects in some users. Government regulators said today that a few children given the drugs for muscle spasms have died. Botox and Myobloc relax muscles by blocking nerve impulses.

And Amy Winehouse is sticking to her plan to perform at Sunday's Grammy awards by satellite from London despite receiving the visa she was originally denied. The British singer's publicist says it is too late to arrange travel. Winehouse is leaving rehab after a two-week stint to prepare for her performance.


COOPER: Too late to travel? I just traveled to L.A. It takes six hours and probably an extra five from London. Anyway.

JOHNS: Sounds pretty simple. Frequent flier miles.

COOPER: Yes. Maybe so. I'll loan them miles.

Joe, tonight's "Beat 360". You may have heard how it works. We put a picture up on the "360" blog, we cue the cheesy music, and we ask the folks at home to come up with a caption that's better than one of our own.

So here's tonight's picture, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on the campaign trail in New Orleans talking with a 5-year-old girl named Lorette Pumpkis (ph) during his visit to Washington Carver Elementary School, which was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. She started tilting her head.

Our staff writer, David, his entry, "Little girl, it looks like you're leaning to the right. Let me help you."

That was pretty good. Tonight's viewer winner, Marie, she posted this caption: "Is that so? So you believe in girl power. Very interesting."

Check out the other ideas at Feel free, of course, to play along.

Up next, we're going to reveal our next voice of 360 candidate. Da- da-da-da.

Plus, "The Shot of the Day." We're filing it under, where are they now?

Heidi Fleiss, a.k.a., former Hollywood madam, was busted again. What was she up to this time? Up next on 360.



FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: Welcome back to "Anderson Cooper 360".

COOPER: Who is that?

DRESCHER: Andy, it's me, Fran Drescher.

COOPER: Wow. Fran Drescher, that's so cool. Are you -- are you here to audition?

DRESCHER: Are you kidding me? I heard that you're looking for an announcer, so here I am.

COOPER: That is -- you were my first choice all along to be the announcer. You know, we auditioned Ozzy Osbourne, and NBC has Michael Douglas. But man, I've always wanted to have your voice be the voice of 360. That's great. So take it away.

DRESCHER: Oh, aren't you sweet?

From the Time Warner Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. And now here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: That was great. Can you try one more time with a little -- little more Fran in it?

DRESCHER: A little more Fran. OK. That's fine. Yes, because it's New York. I thought maybe because it's news. OK.

COOPER: No, don't tone it down. Be yourself.

DRESCHER: No, I won't tone it down. OK. Sure. No problem. Here I go.

From the Time Warner Center in New York City, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. And now here's Anderson.

How was that?

COOPER: That was perfect. That was fantastic. Yes, Ozzy Osbourne was really good. But you, I've got to tell you, you were fantastic. We're probably going to have a few more people audition. But as far as I'm concerned, you're the voice of 360 in my book.


COOPER: Frank Drescher. How cool was that? She was very nice, and very, very friendly and very cool. We taped that just the other night. That's why I was wearing something else.

So who do you think should be the voice of 360? Logon to and let us know. We're still going to audition some other people. Maybe if you recommend some people, we'll get them in here.

Joe, time now for "The Shot." It's kind of a familiar face. Heidi Fleiss, do you remember her? Who can forget, the so-called Hollywood madam? Well, she was busted, arrested in Nevada this week for driving under the influence. That's the new mug shot. Yikes.

During an interview with a local TV reporter, Fleiss's face was concealed by an enormous parrot perched on her arm. By the way -- she was hiding her face with a parrot, which is how I answer my door, with a parrot. And while Fleiss wouldn't talk that much, the parrot did. The parrot apparently wouldn't shut up. It may have its own exotic animal escort service. Not true. Of that, I kid.

Back to Fleiss. This is her mug shot, maybe not memorable. We at 360 are happy to add it to our -- we're not happy. But reluctantly, we add it to our canon of celebrity arrest photos.

There's, of course, Mickey Rourke, looking rested, tanned, relatively happy. That was snapped after he was stopped for driving under the influence, which I think he beat, by the way.

As for my personal favorite, however, let's begin with this guy, Michael Jackson, the wide-eyed mug shot that we all know.

But the champ of champs, the one that tops them all, Nick Nolte. There's the hair, the Hawaiian shirt. It was almost truly hypnotic. Here's to you, Nick.

If you see some -- if you see some remarkable videos or if you have your own celebrity mug shots or your own mug shots, for that matter, send them to us at You can go there to see most of the recent "Shots," the other segments from the program.

You can check out the blog and the "Beat 360" picture and have your own mug shot taken, maybe. The address again -

For our international viewers, CNN Today is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up.

I'll see you on Monday.