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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Barack Obama on the Defensive; Hillary Clinton Looks to End Obama Winning Streak; The Catholic Vote

Aired March 3, 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: We're talking about the scramble today for votes tomorrow. It's like the sprint at the end of a marathon, although some new indications today the race may not be over anytime soon.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigning hard today. We're looking at pictures of Senator Clinton speaking right now live at a rally in Austin, Texas. Both she and Senator Obama today unveiling new ads, sharpening their attacks, making their final pushes.

She says forget the calls to bow out. She just got warmed up. She's got an 11-race winning streak going -- he's got an 11-race winning streak going for him. But, in this last crucial day, Barack Obama has found himself on the defensive.

Tonight, team coverage of the white-hot race. Our correspondents are following the candidates and the controversies. We will show you the latest polls and the latest state-by-state breakdown on the delegate map.

Also, the Catholic vote, why so many Catholic Americans seem to prefer one Democrat over another. CNN's Gary Tuchman explores that.

And media bias. Hillary Clinton claims, with the help of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch or two, that she gets all the media scrutiny and Senator Obama gets a free ride. Well, does the media hate Hillary? We will look at that tonight with those who cover the candidates and the best political team on television.

We begin with where the race now stands, the raw numbers, and the usual warning. The polls have been all over the place so far, which is one reason tonight we're going to show you an average, a poll of polls. In Texas, it shows Senator Obama ahead by a razor-thin two point margin, a statistical tie with 8 percent of likely voters still undecided.

In Ohio, meantime, advantage Clinton, ahead by five points, with 9 percent undecided. So, those are the numbers.

Joining us now with more on the late details that could end up moving those numbers, CNN's Candy Crowley in Columbus, Ohio -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know, we are less than 24 hours away from polls opening in Ohio and in Texas. And you just showed those numbers, so we know it is very close. When you add those two things up, you get a very rough race. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Take a break, guys. Come on. I just answered like eight questions.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Whenever you have a news conference that ends like that, the heat is on. From his relationship with a land developer on trial for corruption, to free trade, Barack Obama is taking incoming and doing his best to redirect it.

OBAMA: What's not disputed is that Senator Clinton and her husband championed NAFTA.

CROWLEY: A memo has surfaced indicating a top Obama aide told Canadian officials that Obama's position on trade is more about politics than policy. There were denials all around, including one from the Canadian Embassy about the intent and substance of the conversation.

But, on the eve of primaries that could determine her candidacy, in a state like Ohio, where NAFTA is a four-letter word, Hillary Clinton stokes the fire.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The old wink-wink, don't pay any attention, this is just political rhetoric, I think that raises serious questions. And I would ask you to look at this story, substitute my name for Senator Obama's name, and see what you would do with this story.

CROWLEY: And, in the category of timing is all, a trial opened in Chicago today featuring a longtime supporter of Obama's being tried on corruption charges, renewing old questions never completely answered.

OBAMA: There's no dispute that he raised money for us. And there's no dispute that we have tried to get rid of that money. And so...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: Exactly. And so that's all we wanted just confirmed.

CROWLEY: It's the front-runner treatment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Also, today, Anderson, Hillary Clinton put out an ad talking about Obama and how he has talked so much about Afghanistan, but noting that, as committee -- that as chairman of a subcommittee with some jurisdiction over U.S. policy in Afghanistan, he has failed to chair a single committee meeting.

All of this, Anderson, under one single umbrella. This is Hillary Clinton saying, Barack Obama is not the guy you think he is -- Anderson. COOPER: It's an interesting point that she made in the sound bite that you played, where she said, look, if this was my campaign, which had had a meeting with the Canadian government and then people from my campaign had denied it, you know, how would you be covering this story?

This certainly does seem, for Obama, a candidate who's talked about transparency and a campaign which has tried to pride itself on transparency, a black eye.

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely.

And this is a double whammy, the trade and the NAFTA issue, as to whether this aide of Obama's went and talked to the Canadian government and said, oh, listen, he's not actual really serious about this. The problem is not just, where does Barack Obama stand on NAFTA? His campaign makes a credible argument that he's been for -- against NAFTA, at least portions of it, the labor and the environmental part, for some time.

The question here is, for a guy that says no more Washington- speak, I'm going to tell you exactly where I stand, this becomes a public relations issue. And, you know, we have talked before, Anderson, sometimes, the perception of something is worse than the reality.

COOPER: Well, it's also the kitchen sink strategy which we had talked about a week ago, it seems to be working for Hillary Clinton. She's basically thrown all this stuff at him, and some of it is hitting.

CROWLEY: Yes. It does -- I mean, it is hitting insofar as it is making him not talk about what his message is in these final critical 24 hours.

So, yes, she has knocked him off message. She has focused like a laser beam on a number of thing that frankly the Clinton campaign has been pushing for some time for reporters to talk about. So, yes, she's knocked him off message. The question is, are we going to see any late-breaking votes tomorrow that we can perhaps attribute to some of this stuff?

COOPER: Well, the other question -- it's not really a question to you -- it's just a generic question -- is, why -- why is the Canadian government leaking out secret documents or internal documents to somehow affect the U.S. presidential race? But that's a whole other matter entirely.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

COOPER: Candy Crowley, thanks for that.

For John McCain -- yes -- for John McCain, tomorrow is a chance to sew up the Republican nomination, also a chance for Mike Huckabee to deal out another embarrassment for the Senate from Arizona by getting a big chunk of the conservative vote.

CNN's Dana Bash is in Waco, Texas, tonight, covering the GOP side -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, John McCain took the entire weekend off the campaign trail. He was back home in his home state of Arizona. And, in a way, that's a sign of his confidence about tomorrow's primaries, but it's also because, until tomorrow's primaries, the McCain campaign is in a holding pattern.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're guardedly confident that we can get a sufficient number of delegates with victories in Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas.

BASH (voice-over): By CNN's count, John McCain now has 1,047 delegates, very close to the 1,191 to clinch the Republican nomination. To get that, McCain only needs to win about half the 256 delegates at stake Tuesday.

Until then, he's trying to use world events to show how things would be different under a McCain presidency, tougher talk than President Bush about Russian elections, calling them rigged.

MCCAIN: Obviously an election that would not pass the smell test.

BASH: And the 71-year-old running on his experience couldn't resist jumping into the Democrats' debate over who voters want responding to a middle-of-the-night crisis.

MCCAIN: If the phone rang at 3:00 a.m. in the White House and I was the one to answer it, I would be the one most qualified to exercise the kind of judgment necessary to address a national security crisis. I have been involved in every major national security challenge for the last 20 years.

BASH: McCain's GOP rival, Mike Huckabee, is still campaigning, five Texas cities in one day, trying to stoke conservative skepticism about McCain.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only one in this race who believes in the federal marriage amendment that would say that, when you get married, it has to be somebody of the opposite sex, not the same sex.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Dana, Huckabee said over and over again today he's not dropping out. What is the big deal if he stays in? I mean, how much is he hurting John McCain long term? BASH: Well, in the long term -- you know, you -- I talked to actually Senator McCain and some of his advisers about that this weekend. What happens if Mike Huckabee actually stays in this race if he does in fact lose the primaries tomorrow night? And what they say is that it delays them in a very important way, from their perspective.

And that is, once McCain officially becomes the nominee, that opens up the Republican National Committee to the McCain campaign. It even opens up the White House political shop to them. And what that means is that they get critical information, critical data, that will help them really formulate the general election campaign against the Democrats, data about what kinds of issues will resonate, what kind of issues will not resonate for John McCain, where to go campaign, what states and even what areas within what states to target.

That is the kind of stuff that -- that is in the databases inside the Republican National Committee. They have been building it for years and years and years. Once John McCain is officially the nominee, he will have access to that. And from the McCain perspective, really, from the Republicans' perspective on a big- picture level, the sooner that they can start building that national campaign against the Democrats, the better.

COOPER: Right.

BASH: Because everybody knows they're pretty much at a disadvantage this year against the Democrats...

COOPER: All right.

BASH: ... no matter who it is -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dana Bash on the Republican -- Dana, thanks very much.

John King now with a look at the delegate map, trying to get a sense of tomorrow, where the key places to watch are.

John, what should we be looking for tomorrow?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, involve, Anderson, early on, we expect Barack Obama to carry the state of Vermont. Rhode Island has become more of a battleground. We will watch there some key blue-collar areas up in this area, Pawtucket and Providence.

We will know right away early on, as these votes come, is Senator Clinton getting the votes where she needs to get them? They would be right there, lunch-bucket Democrats.

But we all know the big contests are the ones we just talked about. Shrink us down. We will come to Texas in a minute. Let's start with Ohio. The NAFTA debate, you were just talking with Candy about that. If you look at any of the polling, talk to any key Democrats out in Ohio, they will tell you, this strip right here, Youngstown, Akron, south of Cleveland, Toledo, this is were the debate over NAFTA and trade resonates most with Democrats, in these gritty, blue-collar areas.

We will see the impact of that debate there. Cleveland, of course, absolutely essential to Barack Obama, run up African-American turnout, build a big margin there, because Senator Clinton is doing well elsewhere.

One other place if it's very close, Anderson, tomorrow night, we will be watching down here. Cincinnati is a very Republican area, but Barack Obama has been working very hard trying to turn out voters in surprising places in a close race. So, that's what we will watch in Ohio.

And then, of course, Ohio is one of the big prizes. Texas is the bigger prize tomorrow. Again, Barack Obama's base, African-American votes up here in the Dallas area, down here in Houston. But it is the Latino vote that will define and decide who wins Texas.

That is in this strip mostly across here. Austin is an area where you would expect Obama to do well. But down here, along the border, is where Senator Clinton has spent so much time. Generational debate among Latinos. Senator Clinton going -- tends to go for older Latino voters. Senator Obama has tried to get younger Latinos to break her stronghold on that constituency group. We will see that here in South Texas.

COOPER: And, in terms of the delegate count, where do things stand?

KING: The delegate count is amazing.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Let's look at the Republican side first.

I will switch this over. Senator McCain can clinch tomorrow night. Let me clear the screen so we don't see anything. How does he clinch? He starts clinching by winning in Rhode Island. Let's give him this. He starts by winning in Rhode Island. We give that to Senator McCain. We give him Vermont. We assume he wins Ohio.

And then, if he wins Texas, and he wins it by enough, look where John McCain is right now. Margins matter. He needs to win Texas by more than 50 percent. That makes John McCain the Republican nominee right there. He will have clinched the nomination.

The Democratic race, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, is it a different race. Shrink this down. This is where we stand tonight coming in. And it is fascinating. Here's the finish line out here. Barack Obama is slightly ahead. So, let's assume, for the sake of argument, based on the polling, anyway, Senator Obama's ahead in Vermont. Senator Clinton has been leading in Rhode Island. We will give her that one.

Then it all comes down to...

COOPER: And are those all-or-nothing states in terms of delegates? KING: No, those are not. Democratic rules are always proportional.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: So, I just gave them to Senator -- I gave that to Senator Clinton 55-45 in Rhode Island.

COOPER: OK.

KING: Senator Obama 55-45. The polls suggest he will do better than that in Vermont.

But let's watch now. Here you have Obama still ahead out here. Let's say that Senator Clinton wins Ohio and wins Texas. Even if she wins in both, by that margin, Obama is still ahead. But she will have stopped his momentum. That is the key point. She will probably end tomorrow night still behind in the math. The critical point is win the big ones, stop his momentum. If she can't win the big ones, Anderson, there will be enormous pressure on Senator Clinton to get out.

COOPER: It is just getting more and more interesting.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: John King, thanks very much.

You can weigh in, of course, on all this, if you would like. I'm blogging throughout the hour. So is Erica Hill. You can join the conversation. We're having a big conversation online about media bias. Join into that, CNN.com/360, if you think we're biased against Senator Hillary Clinton. Love to hear from you.

Coming up: some news breaking right now that could profoundly change the outcome in Ohio. Plus -- we will have that right after the break. And then voting in Texas involving voting twice. We will explain. It's a complicated process and why one chunk of voters could make all the difference.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Courted because they count.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're the ones that do the voting. So, we're the ones they need to speak to.

COOPER: Blue-collar voters, what they see in the candidates, how the candidates are wooing them and which contender they're leaning to.

Also, the race is too close to call, right? Well, not to these women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Hillary Clinton. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she will do a lot for our country.

COOPER: And here's a teaser. Their support has little to do with their gender, but a lot to do with their religion. What's the story here, and could it save the day for Hillary Clinton?

Details ahead -- on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some breaking news tonight, a potential game-changer, the weather in Ohio, of all things, some new information just coming out.

Let's turn to CNN's Chad Myers.

Chad, what is going on?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A major ice storm, Anderson, all the way from Bellefontaine, Lima, right through Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown. This is a big-time storm, an inch or an inch- and-a-half of ice on trees and power lines by the evening.

Now, that could take down enough power to take down enough polling stations to maybe change the election. To maybe put another little scoop in there, in the bottom, the southern part of Ohio, flooding, flash flooding. Cincinnati will pick up three inches of rain tomorrow. A lot of it will not go into the creeks and streams properly. We will get flash flooding across a lot of southern Ohio.

It's a major storm. There's severe weather to the south, and there's an ice event all the way from northern Ohio right even into parts of southern Vermont. But, for tonight -- tonight, there's severe weather, with tornadoes still possible, look at this. In the past hour, 14,000 lightning strikes.

Our Karen Maginnis is here for the rest of the night to take you through this severe weather event that could last all the way through the morning -- Anderson.

COOPER: Man, as if...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: As if this race was not complicated enough, now we have this.

(LAUGHTER)

MYERS: I know.

COOPER: Chad, thanks.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Ice or not, just how hours to go now before the polls open in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Joining me are senior -- CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen, Republican strategist, former senior adviser to Mitt Romney Bay Buchanan, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.

David, a couple of days ago, we learned the Clinton campaign was going to wage this kitchen sink attack on Obama, throwing everything they could at him. Now, in these crucial days, you have Obama on the defensive about this Canadian -- this meeting with Canada from one of his campaign aides and the whole Rezko situation. The Clinton strategy seems to be working.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she's making headway in Ohio, Anderson. There -- there is evidence that she's opening up a bigger lead in Ohio than she had just a few days ago.

I think the fact that she came out as a fighter, something we talked about a week or so ago, that...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes, something, by the way, you said she should do more of, and, lo and behold, she's doing more of that.

GERGEN: Well, I think it's working in Ohio. And I don't think it's Rezko. I don't think it's so much this Canadian business.

But I think that -- you know, for Ohio, which has been down on its back so often, so many people out there on their backs, this business that she's going to fight for them and she's going to -- there's a resilience about her that they can associate with, and I think it's helping her.

I don't see evidence so far, Anderson, that it's working in Texas. And she's got to win both, I think, to really -- otherwise, there's going to be one heck of a big argument about whether she ought to get out of the race.

COOPER: Roland, Obama has styled himself a different kind of politician. The campaign has talked about transparency, a different kind of politics. And then have you this meeting with -- with representatives from Canada, and kind of -- it was clearly badly handled by the Obama campaign over the course of several days.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, again, from her standpoint, what she wants to do is go after his credibility and his integrity, because that's how he's built his campaign. So, absolutely, I mean, that is a very smart strategy.

The other thing is, when you look at her numbers, she really hasn't in terms of added new voters, and, so, what she has to do is frankly, take down some of his voters. So, if you look at the poll numbers, how she's not really been able to move the needle. And, so, I mean, look, it's a smart political strategy. What his folks have to do is, again, come back and hit harder and harder in terms of a rapid response. They did very well with the 3:00 a.m. ad. She hit it on Friday. He came back on Saturday. But, on this issue, a week before the campaign, they should have responded a lot faster.

It sort of reminded of Nevada, when, frankly, the Ronald Reagan comment came out. They pretty much said for three or four days, well, you know, no big deal. And, all of the sudden, it cropped up the day before the campaign.

COOPER: Bay Buchanan, pundits, for the last week or so, have been saying, well, if Clinton doesn't win Texas and Ohio, she's going to bow up. Bill Clinton at one point had said Texas and Ohio are vital.

Clinton today said she's just getting warmed up. It seems like there are signs that they plan to continue. Is that bravado or do you think she is in it really until the last dog dies?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: No, she has to say exactly that or she will suppress her own vote. She has got to let them know she's in it. Let's everybody get out there. We can still win this thing, in order to energize that base of hers. So, that's to be expected.

I think, if she doesn't win both of them, and fairly solidly, I think she has to get out, because the pressure is going to build. And even if she does win them and she starts to not -- doesn't pick up those necessary delegates, the pressure is going to be enormous from the leaders of the party to say, look, you cannot turn this thing around. All you're doing is harming our candidate. You have got to back off and get out, because the only way she can stay in it is to keep beating him up. And that's not going to be a positive, if he looks like the sure -- the certain candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Bay, I disagree.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I disagree with that.

I think what she wants to be able to do is take the headlines come Wednesday. If she wins Texas and wins Ohio, again, the story changes. All of a sudden, people begin to talk about comeback kid.

Obama wants to take her down in one of those two states and say, hey, you know what? Even split. She takes Rhode Island. She takes Ohio. He takes Texas, takes Vermont, whole different story. But, again, she wants the headlines to stop the momentum.

COOPER: David Gergen, do you agree with that?

GERGEN: Well, yes, I think, absolutely, Roland is right. I think the really hard question becomes if there's a split, because she clearly wants to stay in. And I think what has developed in the last couple of days is that a growing number of Democrats are saying, wait a minute, look how negative this campaign has turned in Ohio and Texas. look at that ad she started running at him on national security.

If we wait all the way to Pennsylvania and this gets more and more nasty, whoever wins is going to be very badly damaged and be wounded. So, Bill Richardson, very importantly, said, over the weekend, look, whoever has the bigger delegate lead after tomorrow night. And that points toward Obama, but, you know, unless Hillary wins big, as Bay says.

Unless -- if Obama has a sizable lead and has -- and she doesn't have a plausible argument for how she can really win this, Bill Richardson is going to come out and endorse Obama, and I think you are going to see others do that, too, and ask her to leave.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

And, Anderson, you have got to remember, it was just a few weeks ago the -- the Hillary camp said, if we can just get to Texas and Ohio, just get to the 4th of March, we will be set. We will just be set. We're going to hang in until then.

And she's in the fight of her life. Obama's done a remarkable job in two states which clearly should have been hers.

COOPER: It gets more and more interesting.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: We're going to have more from our political panel in just a moment. Guys, stay tuned for that.

Still to come tonight on 360: an up-close look at the bloc of voters who could decide tomorrow's races.

First, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

And we begin tonight with a grim discovery at a home in Memphis, where six people, including two children, found shot to death. Three other children, ages 7, 4, and just 10 months old, are hospitalized tonight in critical condition. There's no word yet from police on suspects, nor what may have provoked the shooting.

In southern Somalia, a U.S. airstrike today against a suspected al Qaeda target. U.S. officials aren't saying who. According to local reports, though, two homes were destroyed. At least six people were killed.

And talk about a wild story that just is getting a lot of attention, and you will know why. Nearly 40 years ago, it turns out, the Hells Angels were actually intent on killing Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger.

COOPER: What?

HILL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: That's according to a FBI agent who's featured in a new documentary airing on BBC Radio.

The agent said Mick survived the 1969 assassination attempt because -- get this -- the boat carrying his would-be killers got stuck in a storm. They all went overboard. Everybody survived. But, after they -- I don't know. I guess they figured, maybe it's not worth it.

COOPER: The Hells Angels folks shouldn't get on boats. That's just rule number one for Hells Angels people.

HILL: Stay on the hog; is that what you're saying?

COOPER: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Also, why did he want them as security guards? They just didn't seem like a very organized bunch, you know?

HILL: Well, and, apparently, that was the problem.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Apparently, except they did kill somebody at, I think, a concert in...

HILL: In Altamont. Is that what it was? Yes.

COOPER: Altamont, yes.

Anyway.

All right, well, up next, "What Were They Thinking?" -- no, not the Rolling Stones. Tonight, remember that French actress who just won the best actress Oscar; she gave pretty much the only charming acceptance speech at the Oscars? Well, now she's not so charming. She's accusing the U.S. government of a 9/11 governor cover-up. What is she thinking?

And, later, more politics -- up close tonight, the religious voters who could decide which Democrat will win tomorrow's crucial races. You may be surprised to learn who may play a crucial role. And we're not talking about evangelicals -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?" French actress Marion Cotillard?

HILL: Mm-hmm.

COOPER: Is that...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I think that's right.

COOPER: Cotillard was so kind after winning her Oscar last month for portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," which -- a fantastic movie.

Here she was charming the audience on Oscar night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION COTILLARD, ACTRESS: Thank you, life. Thank you, love.

(LAUGHTER)

COTILLARD: And it is true. There is some angels in this city.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: She made you laugh. She made you cry. She made you kiss your five bucks goodbye.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: So, after Cotillard's big win in Tinseltown, the media found old interviews where she questions whether the September 11 attacks were a conspiracy.

Back in February 2007, she said she believed the public was -- quote -- "lied to about a number of things regarding 9/11." She also suggested the U.S. destroyed New York's Twin Towers because they were a -- quote -- "money sucker."

HILL: Ouch.

COOPER: Yes.

In the same interview, she even questioned the 1969 moon landing, asking -- quote -- "Did a man really walk on the moon?"

HILL: Yes, that's not sitting so well today.

I have to say, though, so, I did -- I did a little digging. I was trying to find the actual tape.

COOPER: Right.

HILL: And, apparently, the interview had been posted a couple times. It's been taken down... COOPER: Right.

HILL: ... the sites where people were trying to send me to, to watch it.

And this one other Web site says, oh, well, there's a chunk of this interview missing. So, it doesn't really sound good, although she says it was taken out of context.

COOPER: Right.

HILL: So I have to wonder, could there have been something else there?

COOPER: Well, she's now also -- she's backtracking on the comments. The lawyer told a British paper that -- that her words were taken out of context.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: So, you know, maybe we should give her the benefit of the doubt.

But, anyway, I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition.

HILL: It is -- indeed, it is. I will give you that.

COOPER: Yes.

COOPER: Still ahead: They have faith. And, for the most part, they believe in Hillary Clinton. We're going to go up close with the religious voting bloc the senator is counting on tomorrow. And we're not talking about evangelicals. This is an interesting story.

Also tonight, here's tonight's "Beat 360." Cue the cheesy music.

Senator McCain stirring a large pot of gumbo -- hmm, gumbo -- at a...

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: ... restaurant in north Fort Myers, Florida, during a campaign stop.

So, here's the caption from our staff winner, Shawn (ph): "Why am I doing this? I thought it was Huckabee's job to stir the pot."

I thought it was all right. You know...

HILL: It was inspired by me.

COOPER: Stirring the pot is -- is -- he's physically stirring the pot, but, also, it's kind of a metaphor. It's sort of a double meaning. You see? See? See, that's the basis of comedy.

HILL: It's a double meaning, too, because Shawn (ph) stole it from me. I was trying to work the stir-the-pot angle in.

COOPER: I see. All right.

HILL: Granted, mine wasn't as good.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: But I was happy to help you, Shawn (ph), any time.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Well, if you think you can do better, go to CNN.com/360. Send us your submission. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Up close tonight: a bloc of voters that could make or break Hillary Clinton's chances tomorrow and beyond, Roman Catholics. One out of every four Americans is Catholic. And that's about 69 million people.

If recent polls are any indication, they have supported Clinton over Barack Obama in the past. So, tonight, we look at why and can she count on them again?

More on that now from CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of the father and of the son.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early- morning mass in Providence, Rhode Island. The nation's smallest state has the nation's highest percentage of Catholics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christ, have mercy.

UNIDENTIFIED PARISHIONERS: Christ, have mercy.

TUCHMAN: And they're getting ready for their turn to vote in a primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for the voters next week in the election, that they will be able to reflect, well, the values of the lord Jesus in choosing the -- the right candidate, we pray.

TUCHMAN: Despite the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion, Catholic Democrats in the U.S. slightly outnumber Catholic Republicans. And, among Democrats, most so far are supporting...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she will do a lot for our country. TUCHMAN: The exit poll numbers are astounding. In big primary states like California, Clinton beat Obama 66 to 30 percent among Catholics, New York, also 66 to 30 percent, Massachusetts, 64 to 33 percent, despite the Obama endorsement by Catholic Senators Kennedy and Kerry. Obama won his home state Illinois in big numbers overall, but lost among Catholics.

These numbers might seem surprising, but...

PROF. WENDY SCHILLER, BROWN UNIVERSITY: It didn't surprise me. Because the Catholic vote today, particularly Democratic Catholic, is dominated by older women.

TUCHMAN: Professor Wendy Schiller teaches political science at Brown University and says those women are key to Hillary Clinton's success among Catholics.

SCHILLER: There are more actually identified women who are Catholic than men, and they're more predictable in their voting behavior. They tend to vote more, and they -- they sometimes dominate the household, even.

They tend to volunteer more, they tend to get involved in campaigns more, and they care about the kinds of issues that Hillary Clinton has been emphasizing.

TUCHMAN: Hillary Clinton may be doing well with Catholic voters in her party's nominating battle, but all the candidates, Democratic and Republican, they came as a top priority.

(on camera) Catholics, you see, have become the ultimate swing vote. Since 1972, the presidential candidates who received the most votes in the general election received the most Catholic support.

And the 2000 election is a very interesting example. Al Gore lost it but won the popular vote and also won the Catholic vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body of Christ.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Back at St. Anthony's Church, Barack Obama and John McCain have some support from the morning churchgoers. But Hillary Clinton has the lion's share. Mary Nelson's (ph) grandson is in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is going to get the troops home, and that's my main concern. I'd like to see my grandson before I die.

TUCHMAN: Mary Nelson (ph) will head to the Rhode Island polls on Tuesday. One more Catholic vote for Hillary Clinton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Has the Catholic vote actually won a state for Hillary Clinton?

TUCHMAN: I think the proof is in the pudding. Of the ten states in the country with the highest percentage of Catholics, Obama has only won one state overall, and that's Connecticut. He narrowly won Connecticut.

Hillary Clinton has won seven of those states overwhelmingly. And the other two states are tomorrow, Rhode Island and Vermont.

COOPER: We'll see what role you play. Thanks a lot, Gary. Appreciate it.

When we come back, is the media biased against Hillary Clinton? "Saturday Night Live" thinks so. So do most Clinton supporters. We'll look at the evidence. We're live blogging about it now. You can join the conversation, a pretty active conversation going online right now.

Also another crucial voting bloc tonight's we'll look at.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Courted because they count.

CLAYTON HADDEN, OHIO VOTER: We're the ones that do the voting. So we're the ones they need to speak to.

COOPER: Blue-collar voters. What they see in the candidates, how the candidates are wooing them and which contender they're leaning to. Ahead on 360.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's fighting for America's middle class.

CLINTON: It's time to level the playing field against the special interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Leveling the playing fielding, fighting for the middle class. It's a familiar theme on the campaign trail for Republicans and Democrats alike. That example is an ad from a Hillary Clinton commercial. You can be sure voters in battleground states hike Ohio are hearing that commercial tonight.

It's also in Ohio where senators Clinton and Obama are fighting for every body, especially reaching out to blue-collar workers across the state. So we're putting their power up close tonight. Blue- collar workers.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HADDEN: This is the same route I used to come every morning.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clayton Hadden drove this road to work for 30 years until the factory that employed him closed two years ago. He's been jobless ever since, and he's not alone.

HADDEN: Quite a few "for sale" signs going up.

FOREMAN: Almost a quarter of a million manufacturing jobs have left Ohio since 2000, and many workers wonder if anyone in Washington is paying attention.

HADDEN: In my opinion they need to start taking care of the people that are working and providing and paying their taxes and all that stuff. Because, you know, the working class is what pays the bills for everybody.

FOREMAN: White working-class men are the single biggest bloc of voters here, 28 percent of the electorate, and they are suddenly, surprisingly important. So both Democratic contenders are scrambling to scoop them up.

OBAMA: I think for so many people here in Ohio, the dream that so many generations fought for feels like it's slowly slipping away.

CLINTON: Does anybody really care about the hard-working people of Ohio?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do!

CLINTON: I do. That's exactly right. I do.

FOREMAN: Clinton has won more working-class white male voters, but Obama is chewing at her lead. And at the union hall, it is clear they are both running in a shadow.

(on camera) How many of you would you have liked John Edwards to be in this, still?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... still be there.

FOREMAN (voice-over): John Edwards insisted that working-class struggles, jobs, the income gap should dominate this election. Now voters are deciding who can carry that flag.

GEORGE SHAFER, OHIO VOTER: I don't think my grandchildren will be able to live anywhere near what I -- the life that I'm living. I really fear for that.

DANNY BRADFORD, OHIO VOTER: The middle class is now dropping into the lower class. I want to know, what are they going to do to bring it all back?

FOREMAN: White working-class men here know what it's like to lose: jobs, savings, houses.

(on camera) Why should these candidates care about you?

HADDEN: We're the one that do the voting. So we're the ones they need to speak to. We're the ones they need to help. And ultimately, it's us that they need to work for them.

FOREMAN (voice-over): These voters know what it's like to feel powerless, and they know, at least for this moment, power is in their hands.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Lima, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So many ways this thing might go tomorrow.

More now from the best political team on television: CNN's David Gergen, Candy Crowley and John King.

Candy, Tom Foreman just pointed out in his piece the struggles of the working class. That was really John Edwards' signature issue. Has either candidate managed to pick up that torch and run with it in Ohio? I mean, he hasn't endorsed anybody at this point.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, he hasn't, which I think is really interesting. I think it says a lot, that John Edwards has not endorsed anyone.

COOPER: Why? What do you think it says?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that -- I know that there has been a lot of pressure on John Edwards not to get involved in this, and there was some thought that he would early on. I know he's been getting calls, not to get in just yet, to watch this race play out for a bit longer.

But to the question of whether his voters have gone anywhere, not anywhere that you can quantify that they're all over in the Clinton camp or all over in the Obama camp. I think we'll have a much clearer idea, because this is such a Petri dish of working class voters in Ohio. I think we'll have a much better idea of that tomorrow.

COOPER: John King, why would Edwards be getting pressure not to endorse somebody at this time?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are some Democrats who want to see this just play out. And if you're John Edwards, it's a very tough calculation to make to get in at this point.

But, you know, Candy is dead on. If you look specifically at the polls in Ohio, about 9 percent undecided, most of that is the Edwards vote. And they tend to be those white, working-class people that Tom was just talking about. And they're looking at -- they looked at John Edwards. Even though he was a Senator, he was the vice-presidential nominee. They viewed him as the rural populist, the guy not from Washington. And they're looking at two senators, two very different senators who they think are generally alike. And they view them both -- a lot of those white, rural voters don't trust politicians from Washington. And that's the hard part for them.

COOPER: David, it was interesting. Interesting moment on "60 Minutes" last night when Hillary Clinton was asked about a rumor was floating around that if Obama is Muslim, which he's not. I want to play her response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?

CLINTON: Of course not. I mean, that's -- you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim. You don't believe that he's a Muslim.

CLINTON: No, I do not. No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's fascinating watching that, because Hillary Clinton supporters will say, "Well, look, she said no. She believes -- she doesn't believe he's a Muslim."

Those who are critics of Hillary Clinton will say that she added in the, "as far as I know," and it was sort of lawyerly. And she should have given a more definitive response. People seemed to read into that an awful lot. Are they reading too much into it?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think probably so. It certainly left some wiggle room. And today she was more definitive, saying, no, he's not, he hasn't been a Muslim.

But I do think, Anderson, I think we see increasing evidence that, while she's discounting that, that -- Drudge argued that her campaign was behind that picture we saw last week, which brought this fresh round of questioning. And we have seen a lot of smears against Obama.

You know, you can make the argument that the media has been too soft. I don't think it's been too soft on her. But it's also true that the blogosphere or the -- a lot of that has been very tough and spreading false rumors about Obama.

COOPER: Yes. Interesting moment on "60 Minutes" last night. One of the people they interviewed said point blank, you know, they said Obama didn't do the pledge allegiance, doesn't pray, did all these things. It was very interesting to see that.

GERGEN: Right. The "New York Post" ran it -- you know, "The New York Post," that was the lead story in the "Post" this morning.

COOPER: yes. We want to actually talk more about media bias when we come right back. Coming up, we'll have a lot more on that. The media and Senator Clinton. A lot of you have been sounding off about it on the 360 blog. We've got a great conversation going on right now at CNN.com/360blog. We'll look at the controversy and the facts, coming up next.

Also tonight, a close call. A passenger plane takes a very dangerous trip along the runway. The story and more. The incredible video, ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARRELL HAMMOND, CAST MEMBER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Senator Clinton, Nigeria's foreign affairs minister, can you name him?

AMY POEHLER, CAST MEMBER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I -- I don't know.

HAMMOND: Ojo Maduekwe.

Senator Obama, same question.

FRED ARMISEN, CAST MEMBER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Ojo Maduekwe.

HAMMOND: Correct.

Senator Clinton, Sri Lanka's deputy ambassador to the U.N. Who is it?

POEHLER: Oh -- oh, it's Prasad...

HAMMOND: It's a trick question. That post is currently vacant.

Senator Obama?

ARMISEN: I don't believe there is one at the moment.

HAMMOND: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Playing politics for laughs over the weekend on "Saturday Night Live." A very funny sketch. Is there truth to it, though? That the media is biased in favor of Barack Obama?

Joining us again to talk more about the finger-pointing are CNN's Candy Crowley, John King and David Gergen.

Candy, it's interesting. Not to single you out, but I want to read just a couple blog postings from viewers reacting to a piece that you wrote after Super Tuesday. They're kind of telling. Brian wrote in part, quote, "I find the commentary by the best political team on CNN against Hillary quite disturbing! The news has been somewhat skewed for Obama just because he's challenging the Clintons."

Then in reaction to the exact same piece, a guy named Josh writes, "Candy, I think that you're great, but I'm really disappointed with CNN right now. Over the last couple of weeks, however, I've noticed a considerable bias favoring Hillary Clinton in your election coverage."

We get reactions all over the map. Right now on the blog, there's a very active discussion going on, and it's all over the place. Hillary supporters say we're biased against Hillary. Obama supporters say, when you're talking about it, you're biased against Obama.

What do you make of it? You must get this kind of criticism all the time.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. I think a couple of things are at play here. First of all, I think we should note that Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner for the year. To the frontrunner goes the most scrutiny.

I think, also, I can go back and date myself here and tell you that, when George H.W. Bush was running for re-election, people had signs, big signs, "I blame the media." You could hardly get in.

At one point then President Bush had to say, "Wait, wait, wait, don't boo these guys. They're not bad guys."

When I was covering Bob Dole in '96 in the final days of the campaign when he was losing, it was clear he was going to lose, we went in a big auditorium in Texas. And I got up to do a stand-up, and the place started booing.

So I think that people see, in the coverage, bias when it isn't going well for their candidate. That isn't to say that coverage is perfect, because it's not. And I can't speak for all media. Surely, there has been biased coverage against both of these campaigns, and I would readily admit that, but it's hard to speak for the whole media.

But I think there's a lot of things at play here, and in some ways, it's a Rorschach test.

COOPER: John King, it's interesting. We found this study -- and I want to get it right and make sure I read it right -- that a network TV coverage of the race, which actually, unfortunately, did not include CNN, from the Center for Media and Public Affairs, found out between mid-December and late January 84 percent of the stories about Senator Obama were positive, while 51 percent about Senator Clinton were positive.

So what do you make of that? KING: Well, it's back to Candy -- some of that goes back to Candy's point, that the frontrunner tends to get more scrutiny. And when you are David against Goliath, as Obama was viewed at the beginning of the race, when he starts to win, you get more favorable coverage.

He's also new. We know where Senator Clinton's warts are. For better or worse, she was the first lady in a very controversial administration. Her husband was impeached, took the country through a great deal of political turmoil. That baggage attaches to her. That's not always fair to her.

Is that a bias? Not my job to define that, but it certainly is part of her political reality.

Senator Obama starts winning. He is getting more scrutiny now. Back then, when he was drawing the big crowds, he did have this, quote unquote, rock-star appeal. And that will end up on the blog, as there somebody goes, giving a bias towards Senator Obama.

The new flavor of the month always tends to get more favorable treatment. As they catch up in the polls, the scrutiny comes with it and looking at his record. His record is getting more looked at now. His business dealings are getting more looked at now. Is it too late? The Clinton campaign complains, well, you can't do this now.

COOPER: It's interesting, David, because I mean, I get e-mail saying I'm a stooge to the Bush administration. I get e-mails saying I'm a stooge to the political left. You know, it seems like people do see what they want to see. I always think that there's less of a political bias in, you know, mainstream media than a bias for conflict or a bias for, you know, a -- the most dramatic story.

I think that's what, you know, gets the attention, and I think that's what's driving a lot of the coverage, more so than -- than a hidden political bias. What's your take?

GERGEN: I don't think that there's a strong -- there was 30 years ago, there was an ideological bias in the press. It was mostly toward the left, the mainstream press. That's evened up a lot over the years. We have far more conservative commentators out there now, appearing on television and the like.

And I think now, both to back up what John and Candy aid, I think there was a slight king of the Hill bias. And that is when somebody is king of the Hill, we're tougher on them and we subject them to more scrutiny. When somebody is, you know, at the bottom of the Hill, we tend to be a little more lenient.

But, look, I -- do I think that some reporters have been infatuated with Barack Obama? Absolutely. Do I think some reporters have been infatuated with John McCain? Yes, for a long time. You know, they're -- the conservatives complained for a long time. That was his base in the Republican Party, was the press. So I think there are some of that. But Anderson, it was only a few weeks ago, you know, some of us on CNN, when we said Hillary Clinton was winning those early debates, you know, we were getting slammed for being in the can , being in the tank for Hillary Clinton. That wasn't very long ago.

COOPER: I do think because there were two Clintons out on the campaign trail, you know, obviously a former president, they got probably even more coverage and therefore perhaps more opportunity for critical comments. I don't know.

I can tell viewers certainly -- we've been talking about it on the blog, I take matters of bias very seriously, as just about everybody here that I know at CNN does. And the conversation that we've just been having is literally a conversation we have every day in the newsroom, determining how we cover things. So it is something that we certainly hear and pay attention to, whether you want to believe us or not.

Candy Crowley, John King, David Gergen, thanks for being honest.

Still ahead, winner of our "Beat 360" contest. No bias there. Plus, dramatic video of a pilot attempting a risky landing in high winds. I would not want to be on that plane.

And remember Knut, the cute, cuddly polar bear who captured hearts around the world? Well, wait till you see him now. It's our "Shot of the Day," and it ain't pretty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Just ahead, you remember cute little Knut, the abandoned polar bear cub? So sweet, so cuddly, so ridiculously irresistible. Well, not any more. He's all grown up and, frankly, pretty scary. We'll show you in a moment. We have that to look forward to, but first Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: He may be a little cranky, Anderson, I think.

Some new sanctions for Iran to tell you about. That's because the country refuses to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The United Nations approving a resolution that, for the first time, bans trade with Iran involving goods that have both civilian and military uses. That measure also includes other penalties.

In a Seattle suburb, three $2-million homes destroyed by flames. Investigators believe eco-terrorists are to behind the fires after finding a sign with the initials of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group on the property. That sign read, quote, "Built green? Nope, black."

And in Hamburg, Germany, a talk -- talk about a scary landing, rather. This video just really scares me. Fierce winds cause a Lufthansa jet to abort an attempted landing this weekend after the plane scraped its wing on the runway. Amazingly, the pilot kept control of the plane and actually landed on the second try, nailed it on that one. Thankfully.

COOPER: It looks like it's one of those -- like a little Cessna, but it's -- I mean, it's a huge...

HILL: It's an enormous jet. Yes.

COOPER: All right. So just not so long ago, he was the cute polar bear cub who stole our hearts. He loved to cuddle. Little Knut charmed millions of fans, but now apparently, he'd rather eat those fans. "The Shot" is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That's right, Erica, we're playing the cheesy music in. Tonight's "Shot" is sort of bittersweet. You remember little Knut, the polar bear cub rejected by his mom back in December 2006?

HILL: Aw!

COOPER: Exactly. He went on to become a major attraction at the Berlin zoo. Oh, how they loved to cuddle.

HILL: How could he not be, the munchkin?

COOPER: I know. He loved to cuddle when he was a cub.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: But that was then. What's this?

(in German accent) This is now. Knut is grown up, and take a look at those fangs. In this recent picture he seems eager to test them out on a 3-year-old boy visiting the zoo. Kleine kinde (ph).

Fortunately, there was a thick piece of glass separating the boy from the bear. Today Knut weighs more than 265 pounds. I will translate that into whatever they translate it to in Germany. And his claws are over six...

(speaking normally) I can't do it any longer.

HILL: They translate it...

COOPER: Six inches long. Yes. Not even the keeper who raised Knut by hand dares to get close to him, which is probably a good thing.

HILL: Hello, he's a polar bear.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Yes. Not really your friend when he gets older.

COOPER: Which is the whole point, I guess. He grew into, you know, being the beast he was always meant to be.

HILL: Yes, but look at that kid.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: Not even flinching.

COOPER: A great shot. It is, yes.

HILL: It's fantastic.

COOPER: It is. And he has a halitosis problem, from what I've heard, too. Just to add insult to injury. Not that we're biased...

HILL: Thank goodness for the glass. And not just for the jaw.

COOPER: Not that we're biased against Knut or anything.

HILL: Yes. Or bad breath.

COOPER: If you see some remarkable video or a polar bear on the loose about to eat a child, tell us about it at CNN.com/360. But try not to get involved yourself.

You can go there, see all the most recent shots, other segments from the program. Und you can read ze blog. The address again: CNN.com/360.

All right. Time for "Beat 360." You know the drill. We choose a picture. We have even more cheesy music. You submit a caption, so do our 360 staffers. And then, voila, we have a winner.

Here's tonight's picture. Senator John McCain campaigning at Ft. Myers, Florida, last month, stirring a large pot of -- mm -- gumbo at the Fishbones Restaurant.

Sean was a staff winner, who -- full disclosure -- had an assist from Erica on this one, reading -- Sean's caption was, "Why am I doing this? I thought it was Huckabee's job to stir the pot."

I know. Timing is everything.

And our viewer winner is Anna. Her caption: "Double, double, toil and trouble, give us a tie in Texas and Ohio, so we can burst the Democratic bubble."

I actually like both of them, I think.

HILL: I think it works well if you do, instead of saying Ohio, say "Ohi." It rhymes a little more. Flows beautifully, Anna.

COOPER: Poetry was never my forte.

HILL: No, but German accents are.

COOPER: Yes.

Coming up at the top of the hour, other new developments in the campaigns, today's final push for votes in Ohio and Texas could give Hillary Clinton a new shot at the Democratic nomination. Or could put even further out of reach.

And the breaking news about the bad weather in the Ohio that may affect turnout tomorrow. That's next. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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