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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Southwest Airlines Facing Steep Fines for Alleged Safety Violations; Do-Over For Florida and Michigan?; Interview With Florida Governor Charlie Crist

Aired March 6, 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: Tonight, political dynamite set to blow up the Democratic race for president. Millions voted, but, for, now their votes don't count. It sounds impossible, I know, but it's not. It happened in Florida and in Michigan's Democratic primary.
Today, the scramble is on to do something about it. And the fight is getting fierce. We have new developments tonight, and we're "Keeping Them Honest."

We're going to hear, as well, from Florida's top political leaders, Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who allowed to primary to be moved up in the first place, and Florida's Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who says, wait a minute, the Democrats are going to suffer because of what the Republicans did.

Also tonight, Chelsea Clinton, you have seen her face for years, but have rarely heard her voice. She's now a force on the campaign trail talking to young voters on behalf of her mother.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON: I would like to have a conversation this evening, and, so, please ask -- ask questions, and I will take as many as I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We go on the trail and up close with Chelsea Clinton tonight.

Later, a story CNN first broke: Southwest Airlines facing steep fines for alleged safety violations, and the FAA taking heat of its own for what some say was a failure to keep you safe.

Before we get to the battle over Florida and Michigan, I want to show you the latest from the campaign trail, starting today with a sock on the jaw from Hillary Clinton.

She's speaking right now in Canton, Mississippi. That's a live picture. Earlier today, Senator Clinton said that both she and John McCain have the national security experience it takes to be president. As for Senator Obama, well, she said, you have to ask him. Bill Clinton was on the road in Laramie, Wyoming, the state holding caucuses over the weekend, with Obama expected to have an advantage because it's not a primary. Barack Obama, for his part, had a day off, but he did appear on ABC News, saying he doesn't intend to go negative and acknowledging he will have to work harder to show people he's trying to earn their vote.

Meantime, John McCain was stumping in West Palm Beach, Florida, with's Florida governor, Charlie Crist. Governor Crist is widely mentioned as a running mate. No comment from Senator McCain on that. But Governor Crist will be on this program in just a few minutes.

Governor Crist, oddly enough, is knee deep in the Democratic controversy over presidential delegates. He and Michigan's Democratic governor want those delegates to count at the convention in Denver. Now, the party says they can't because Michigan and Florida broke party rules by holding primaries early. The question now, what to do about it, so that millions of people from two key states can have their voices heard.

Joe Johns now laying it all out and "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hard to believe, but it's true. Real votes could be erased in what looks like a standoff over party rules.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: We have got a major train wreck.

JOHNS: So "Keeping Them Honest," what went wrong? Rewind to last year, May 2007. Florida's Republican-controlled legislature moves up the date of the state primary. Florida wants to go early to have a bigger impact.

August, the national Democratic Party punishes Florida for busting in line by taking away the state's delegates, making the primary meaningless.

(on camera): Remember, Democratic Party rules said only four states could hold contests before February 5, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. At the time, several other states were threatening to move their primaries up. It was a recipe for chaos.

(voice-over): But it did not end with Florida. September, Michigan follows Florida's lead and moves its primary date up. The party punishes Michigan the same way, erasing its delegates.

October, Barack Obama and four other Democrats take their names off the Michigan ballot. Hillary Clinton leaves her name on. January 15, 2008, the Michigan primary, Hillary Clinton wins easily over three second-tier rivals.

January 29, Florida votes. Clinton wins again. There's a record turnout, even though people are told their votes won't matter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Angry, very angry.

JOHNS: And now both Florida and Michigan say they want the votes and their delegates to count.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: And it is reprehensible that anyone would seek to silence the voices.

GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: Our preference is not to have to storm the bastille, but we will if we have to.

JOHNS: Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean says, if the states can come up with a plan to fix the problem, he will listen. But rules are rules.

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: You cannot violate the rules of a process and then expect to get forgiven for it.

JOHNS: The warning from worried Democrats...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We had some trouble with that package.

That fix will likely be a political one, but there's no guarantee it won't end up in court at some point.

Now, in the meantime, the finger-pointing is under way. So is the lobbying, trying to get someone to pay for a revote in Florida. But the DNC and Florida officials each are saying, well, hey, not so fast. We're not paying for that.

At the center of the storm is Florida's Democratic Senator Nelson and Republican Governor Crist of Florida. Now, you are going to hear from both of them now, but first from Governor Crist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Governor Crist, why do you allow Florida party leaders to move up the primary in your state?

CRIST: Well, we thought it was a good idea -- and it is a good idea. To have Florida in the forefront of choosing the next leader of the free world is important to the 19 million people who live in the Sunshine State. That's a good decision.

Another good decision is to go ahead and respect those votes that were taken.

COOPER: But, at the time...

CRIST: And we think that the leaders of...

COOPER: At the time, you knew it was violating -- and the other political leaders in the state knew it was violating DNC and RNC rules, right? CRIST: Well, rules made by party bosses in Washington aren't really important to the people of Florida, Anderson. What we care about is democracy in action and the people having the right to make their voice be heard.

We believe that it's important, as does Senator Nelson, a Democrat, as does Governor Granholm, a Democrat. I happen to be a Republican, but the power of the people is more important than power of party bosses. We think that the people's voice needs to be heard, that democracy should be respected, and, as a result, that these delegates should be seated at the respective conventions.

There has been some speculation that there might be a revote. We aren't necessarily opposed to it, but we aren't going to have Florida's taxpayers pay for it.

COOPER: Why shouldn't the people of Florida, though, blame you and blame other state party leaders for making this decision in the first place?

CRIST: Because giving them the opportunity to vote, to turn out in record numbers, and determine who is going to be the next leader of the free world is always the right thing to do.

COOPER: I want to...

CRIST: It's always right to respect democracy.

COOPER: I want to play you something that DNC chairman Howard Dean said about you and your role in all this.

Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: Yes. Ironically, it was Governor Crist that moved the primary up. Now, I have a lot of respect for Governor Crist. He's done some very good things for the Republicans in Florida.

But the fact of the matter is, you cannot violate the rules of a process, and then expect to get forgiven for it. What happens here has a big effect on what happens at the nominating convention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What did you expect was going to happen? I mean, when you made this decision, all right, we're going to move it up, the DNC, RNC says, look, this is violating the rules, we're not going to seat these delegates, did you just expect they would bend?

CRIST: I still expect that that's exactly what will happen. I expect that cooler heads will prevail, that the respect for the ballot box, for the people's voice, that, in fact, democracy should be respected and revered, as it is throughout America, will be the order of the day. I believe that is what will happen. And I think that, because of that, you will see the Floridians have their vote respected, people from Michigan have their vote respected. Governor Granholm and I both believe, as Senator Nelson and Senator Mel Martinez do, that it's the right thing to do to not have, you know, half of our voters in Florida disenfranchised.

That's what people argued against a number of years ago. And the irony of it is not lost on me. Our voters should not be disenfranchised. Their votes should be respected, and the delegates should be seated.

COOPER: Governor Crist, appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

CRIST: You too, Anderson. Thanks so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We are going to hear from Senator Bill Nelson after the break, a Democrat. He's pointing the finger at the Republicans, saying they started all this, and now the Democrats are paying for it.

But, first, CNN's Gary Tuchman is here to preview a piece he's working on for tonight, rare access, somewhat limited, to Chelsea Clinton on the campaign trail -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Chelsea Clinton was 12 years old when she became the nation's first daughter. She will be 28 if she becomes the first daughter again on Inauguration Day. So, we have known her a long time.

But how many of you even know what her voice sounds like? She's led a very private life, especially considering how public her parents are. But now, we are hearing her voice, because she wants to support her mother. She's campaigning at colleges all over the country.

And we were invited to spend time with her before, during and after a campaign stop at the University of Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

C. CLINTON: And I am really excited to talk to you about all the reasons why I passionately believe in my mom, not only as a daughter, although I hope we're all biased towards our mothers, but also as a young woman and as a young voter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Chelsea Clinton took about 40 minutes of questions from the students. No topic was off-limits, but there is one caveat to all their campaigning. Only students can ask questions, no reporters. And she says there will be no exceptions. Call it Chelsea unfiltered.

We will have the whole story coming up -- Anderson.

COOPER: Unfiltered, sort of, except for reporters.

Gary, thanks for that.

That's going to be later on tonight in the program.

We're also live blogging during the program tonight. I am. Gary is about to log on. Right now, we're discussing what should happen to Florida and Michigan delegates. If you want to join the conversation, go to CNN.com/360.

After the break, we are going to hear from Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

Also, our political panel weighs in, David Gergen, Lanny Davis, and Jamal Simmons.

And later, vital safety news if you fly: record fines levied on Southwest Airlines, allegations it flew planes that were supposed to be grounded, questions about the FAA. CNN was first to report this. And, if you fly, you will want to hear it. We have got exclusive details coming up.

Also, an explosion in Times Square, the bomber still at large -- new developments tonight, claims of responsibility. That's a surveillance tape of the bombing.

And a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem, eight dead -- Hamas calling it, believe it or not, a heroic act -- a full night when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had some great competitors, Governor Romney, Governor Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, great Americans. And I know you appreciate their -- their competition in this race. And we have emerged as a united party. And we will carry the state of Florida and this nation in November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator John McCain with some big advantages at the moment. His primary battle is over, and his party isn't in the middle of a fight over delegates in two key states. Democrats, on the other hand, are. And it could get a lot messier.

Earlier, you heard from Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist.

Now Florida's senior senator, a Democrat, Bill Nelson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Senator Nelson, you said today that, if the Florida delegates are not seated, or if the DNC doesn't help pay for a revote, the party is heading for what you called a train wreck. What do you mean?

NELSON: Well, if you take two major delegations, Michigan and Florida, and if you stiff-arm them at the convention -- and that's only two months before the general election -- that's going to be pretty hard to try to bring the unity that we need in order to win the presidency.

And, so, what I'm offering is, if they're not going to seat the Florida delegation based on our election, let's redo the election. But you can't expect the people of Florida to pay for it again. And the governor has already said that he would not support that.

So, we have got to get someone like the DNC to do a full-up revote, and that includes absentee ballots for the military, people overseas, so that it would be a free and fair election, and people can have their ballot count, and count as intended.

COOPER: Well, Senator, as you know, Howard Dean has said point blank, look, the DNC is not going to pay for this. And if this was a decision by state party leaders, including the governor, to -- to move up these primaries, and, at the time, everyone knew this was a violation, on the Democrats' side, of DNC rules, why should the national party pay for a decision made by state party leaders?

NELSON: At no fault of the Florida Democrats. It was a Republican legislature, signed into law by a Republican governor.

As a matter of fact, there was an amendment by the Democratic leader in the legislature to put it back to February 5. That amendment failed. So, what -- what's happening, Anderson, is that the Republicans are just laughing up their sleeve right now, because they have created a situation that their candidates were not penalized, but the Democratic candidates are penalized now in a fractured situation going into the convention.

Now, what we ought to do is, as the good book says, come, let us reason together, and let's find a solution.

COOPER: You're a supporter of Senator Clinton's. You know, there are a lot of folks out there, Obama supporters in particular, who are going to say, you know what, this whole thing, it just smells funny. I mean, you have these Republicans making this decision early on, and now you have Clinton supporters, yourself and Governor Granholm in Michigan, pushing to get these delegates seated.

What do you say to them who are -- who are doubtful about your motives, about the motives for others?

NELSON: Way before I announced for Senator Clinton, last summer, I was trying to work a compromise from Howard Dean. They wouldn't hear from it. Then I sued Howard Dean and the DNC. The judge ruled against us in December. It was too late for me to appeal, with a January primary. And so what we're in a situation now is, people have to step back and say, what is the good of the party? Now, if they're going to stiff-arm Florida voters, then what we need to figure out is how we can have a redo of the election that will give the opportunity of one person, one vote, and protect the right of the Florida ballot.

COOPER: If there's not a redo, what happens?

NELSON: A train wreck.

I can't imagine going in to a convention in late August, only two months before the election, not seating the Florida and the Michigan delegations, and telling them that their votes don't count, and then being able to heal that breach in two months.

COOPER: Senator Nelson, it's always good to talk to you, sir. Appreciate you being on the program.

NELSON: Thanks, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Bill Nelson of Florida.

It is confusing to hear the Florida officials pointing fingers at each other.

Let's try to sort it out now with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, Clinton supporter Lanny Davis, also Democratic analyst and Obama supporter Jamal Simmons.

David, why does this whole Florida and Michigan drama matter so much?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It matters because Hillary Clinton did so well on Tuesday night, winning three out of four, and it now becomes apparent that she's a strong favorite. She's had a bounce in Pennsylvania, strong favorite to win Pennsylvania.

But Barack Obama is favored to win a number of the other remaining primaries. Neither one is going to have the votes going into the convention, based on what we now see, to win the -- the nomination.

And, so, you have got these two big, large states that haven't really registered in. And -- and it matters a lot how this is resolved, because if it's resolved in one way, if they seat the people who have now been elected, it basically gives the nomination to Senator -- Senator Clinton, and the Obama folks are going to feel robbed.

On the other hand, if you do it -- the redos, you have got all these financial questions. I think it would be -- I think they can move to redo. I think that's where we're heading. And I think what's going to happen in the end, Anderson, is, the states are going to split the costs with the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party will put together a fund- raiser. And I think they will really get the money pretty darn fast.

COOPER: I asked the governor that. I asked Bill Nelson that. They said, point blank, that's not going to happen. Or at least the governor said that. But I guess we will see what kind of compromise they come up with.

Jamal, Governor Charlie Crist, he denies this, but -- but do you believe that Crist has an ulterior motive here, since Republicans would prefer a matchup between McCain and Clinton, instead of McCain and Obama?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I'm sure the Republicans are enjoying all of this. And they, in large part, put us in this situation by making the choice, though I think some of the Democrats in Florida had something to do with it also.

Listen, Howard Dean sent the rules out early. The rules committee said, if you violate these rules, if you go before -- if you go inside the early window, then you're -- you're not going to be able to have your votes counted.

They chose to do it anyway. It happened in Florida and Michigan. In Michigan, other candidates' votes -- names weren't even on the ballot. And, so, when you do that, you leave people -- when you leave the votes out, you can't count them.

I think we have got to find a way to deal with it. But it's hard to say that Florida and Michigan should determine the electoral outcome based upon what happened in January, when it just wasn't a fair contest.

COOPER: Lanny -- Lanny, you support Senator Clinton. What's your solution?

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, first of all, I think David Gergen is on the right track.

And you missed the point about the states not wanting taxpayers to pay. But David mentioned that the money can be raised in a primary in Michigan -- it's sometimes called a firehouse primary, where people go to the firehouses, where there are libraries and special places for people to go to -- can be paid for by fund-raising within the DNC apparatus, within the Obama and the Clinton campaigns.

We have got to fix this. We're not going to win the presidency if we anger the people of Michigan and Florida. I think Senator Nelson is exactly right.

By the way, Anderson, with all due respect, every national poll, certainly in the last several months, shows Senator Clinton beating John McCain at about the same margin as Senator Obama. So, your premise that the Republicans would prefer to run against Hillary Clinton...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, we just had a poll last night that -- that said that wasn't the case. But...

DAVIS: Well, I will tell you the Gallup poll and the Pew Research poll and about a dozen polls show that there's very little difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But the Pew Research Poll, which is one of the most respected national polls, shows that there's a significant defection rate from Democrats to Senator McCain with Senator Obama as the nominee, because there's so little known about him, the Democratic Party base...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Actually, just for accuracy, Paul Begala used that line the other night, and we actually looked at that.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: It's not a line. I'm reporting data.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It's actually among white male voters. It's actually not among all voters.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But, anyway, it's not worth going down that road.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: The Pew Research data -- you're not right, Anderson -- I will send you the data -- it's Pew Research -- it's not me -- shows a significant defection rate. Twice as many Democrats cross over to Senator Obama. It's not just whites. It's 14 percent...

COOPER: OK.

DAVIS: ... less females vote for Senator Obama against Senator McCain. So...

COOPER: Right. It is 14 percent. Begala has used 25 percent the other night, so 14 percent is actually the correct figure.

But, anyway, let's not go down...

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: ... 14 percent to 20 percent are the two numbers...

COOPER: Right.

DAVIS: ... that show the defection rate among -- but it's 14 percent females and blue-collar voters, as well as senior citizens.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Right. Let's not get stuck in the weeds on this, because I really do want to try to focus on Michigan. But you're point actually is correct.

DAVIS: Thanks.

COOPER: David, Senator Obama today did try to become a little bit more aggressive with Senator Clinton regarding the tax issue. Do you -- I mean, he says he's not going negative. Do you buy it? Do you buy that?

(LAUGHTER)

GERGEN: No. He's going -- he's going negative. He's not going negative -- I don't think he's being as aggressive as he might be at all.

And he continues to sort of be above the fray. I actually have been surprised by the last couple of days. I -- I don't think he's been particularly strong in the two days since Tuesday night. I mean, he went to ground today, which is understandable. He's tired.

But he's going to have to get up off the mat and show the same kind of fight that she did when she went down. You know, and that's one of the things that's been attractive to a lot of people, how resilient she's been. Now, he's got to come back. Can he do that? Yes. I think he's got it in him, but he's got to be a lot tougher and more aggressive than he was today, not only against her, but tougher and more aggressive with himself to show what he has to say about the future.

COOPER: We're -- we're going to have more a lot more from our panel.

Lanny Davis, David Gergen, Jamal Simmons, we will have you back in just a few moments. Thanks very much.

Still to come, an up-close look at Chelsea Clinton on the campaign trail. We rarely hear from her. Tonight, you will. See how she is stumping for her mom.

But, first, Gary Tuchman joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Gary.

TUCHMAN: Anderson, thank you very much.

A gunman opened fire at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, killing at least eight people, before he was shot dead. Police say the attacker was killed by an Israeli soldier, but a seminary student claims he shot the gunman twice in the head.

Tonight, a new twist in the bombing of a Times Squares military recruiting station here in New York City. Police are now looking at letters sent to Capitol Hill showing the station with the message -- quote -- "We did it." No one was hurt in the explosion.

And the last living U.S. veteran of World War I met with President Bush today at the White House. Corporal Frank Woodruff Buckles is 107 years old. He lied about his age to enlist in the Army back in 1917, 14 presidents ago. Anderson, he was born February 1901. He was 16 years old when he went to World War I.

COOPER: That's amazing. He lied about his age to get in, just incredible, incredible history here.

Gary, stay right there. "What Were They Thinking?" is next.

And, tonight, we cannot figure out what this mother was thinking, caught on tape pressure-washing her daughter at a car wash. The daughter is fine, but I don't think the same can be said about the mother. That's coming up.

Also tonight, up close with Chelsea Clinton, hitting the campaign trail on behalf of her mom, not afraid to take the tough questions, as long as they're not being asked by a reporter.

But, when 360 continues, take a look at what she's doing on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, Gary, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?"

The video tonight comes from an Orlando, Florida, car wash. You're not going to believe this.

At the top of the screen there -- it's kind of blurry -- that's a mother who is spraying her 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter with a high- pressure water hose. Afterwards, she strips the girl, let her -- left her standing in the car wash bay naked until she got a towel. The video was shown on local television in the hopes of trying to track down this woman and the child at work.

The mother actually called deputies and invited them to her apartment. She told investigators her daughter was throwing a tantrum. She also said she used this type of punishment before with a spray bottle. The Department of Children and Families is on the case. The child is fine, physically, at least. They will do a home study. Investigators say the mother could face child abuse charges.

Unbelievable.

TUCHMAN: Could face child abuse charges?

COOPER: Yes. And the fact that she said she's used this before is just -- is crazy.

So, All right, coming up, would you get on a plane if you knew it wasn't safe? South -- Southwest Airlines is accused of putting planes and, more importantly, passengers, into the skies, even though investigators had already said the planes were not airworthy. How could it happen? We're keeping Southwest Airlines honest next.

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

President Bush and the presumed Republican nominee, John McCain, share a moment in the Rose Garden, where the president endorsed McCain yesterday.

Our staff winner, Gary Tuchman -- very good, Gary -- came up with this: "John McCain relives his youth and surprises the incumbent president by concealing a joy buzzer in his palm."

I thought it was pretty good, actually.

We will still give viewers a chance to "Beat 360." Go to CNN.com/360. Send us your submissions. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Southwest Airlines boasts on its Web site that it flies almost 100 million passengers a year -- there's always sort of funny -- flight attendants and everything.

But what they fail to mention is that it may have put a lot of those passengers at risk. Tonight, the airline is accused of using dozens of unsafe planes in its fleet, planes that never passed inspection. And, in a late development, the FAA is fining Southwest $10.2 million. And that's the biggest fine ever against an airline.

CNN broke the story. Tonight, we have exclusive new details.

"Keeping Them Honest" for us, CNN's Drew Griffin joins us from Atlanta -- Drew.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: And, Anderson, we want to point out, all the Southwest planes we're talking about are now in compliance with the law. Now they are.

But congressional investigators say, what happened at this airline in 2006 and part of 2007 is the worst air safety violation they have ever seen, and don't expect this to end with just a fine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Southwest Airlines flies more passengers than any domestic air carrier. But, for at least 10 days last year, dozens of Southwest planes were kept flying in direct violation of a federal order that grounded them until they could pass mandatory inspections. And that's only the beginning. Some of the aircraft actually operated unsafely and illegally for as long as 30 months before they were pulled from service to be checked for cracks in the airframe or for rudder problems.

(on camera): And what's worse, documents prepared by FAA safety inspectors for Congress and obtained exclusively by CNN allege, managers at the FAA, the agency responsible for commercial air safety, knew the planes were flying illegally and did nothing about it.

(voice-over) Why were safety concerns ignored? According to the documents, so the airline would not have to interrupt its normal operations.

REP. JAMES OBERSTAR (D-MN), TRANSPORTATION CHAIRMAN: This is the most serious lapse in aviation safety at the FAA that I've seen in 23 years.

GRIFFIN: The inspection orders allegedly ignored by Southwest were put in place after three fatal incidents, all involving the Boeing 737, which is the only plane in the Southwest fleet.

Seventy Southwest jets flew beyond the deadline for inspection of their rudder systems, a mechanism blamed for two fatal crashes in 1991 and 1994.

The documents show another 47 Southwest jets kept flying after missing the deadline to be inspected for cracks in the plane's body. That mandatory inspection order came after cracks in this Aloha Air 737 eventually grew, peeling the top off the plane.

When Southwest finally inspected the 47 planes, congressional documents show six were found to have serious cracks in the skin or fuselage.

Late Thursday evening, Southwest Airlines issued a response to the FAA penalty, stating, "We understand the FAA's concerns and were anxious to work with them. We assure our customers that this was never a safety of flight issue." The response states that "Southwest Airlines discovered the missed inspection area, disclosed it to the FAA and promptly reinspected all potentially affected aircraft in March 2007 and considered the matter closed."

Congressional investigators say the matter is far from closed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Drew, has anyone lost their job over this?

GRIFFIN: I don't know what's going on over at Southwest Airlines, but I can tell, at the FAA, at least somebody has been demoted, the supervisor that allowed these planes to fly, knowing they were unsafe. That person has been taken out of a supervisory position.

COOPER: It will be interesting if Southwest comes forward and says what they actually did.

Do the investigators feel this goes beyond just Southwest Airlines or are there more airlines involved? Do we know?

GRIFFIN: Anderson, Congressional investigators do think that. They talk about a cozy relationship that's developed between the FAA supervisors and the airlines they're supposed to supervise. They plan on holding hearings later on to discuss this. But they are really agitated, as you saw Congressman Oberstar, over this lapse in security at the FAA.

COOPER: And I'm getting on a plane tomorrow morning. Definitely makes you think twice.

Drew, appreciate it. Thanks for your reporting, "Keeping Them Honest," Drew Griffin.

Just a reminder, I'm blogging throughout the program tonight. I think Gary Tuchman just logged on, as well. You can join the conversation by going to CNN.com/360. We're talking a lot about the delegate situation in Michigan and in Florida.

But coming up tonight on the program, Hillary Clinton's secret weapon. She's not so secret any more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Chelsea Clinton, in the public eye all her life. Seen but not heard, until now.

CHELSEA CLINTON, HILLARY CLINTON'S DAUGHTER: Hi, Joe. Nice to meet you. Well, thanks for welcoming me.

COOPER: We take you on the campaign trail up close with Chelsea Clinton. What she thinks, who she's reaching and how she's working to become first daughter again.

Plus, "Raw Politics." The men and women who may just decide the Democratic nomination, and you didn't vote for any of them. Who are the super delegates? And how will they decide? When 360 continues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Up close tonight, Chelsea Clinton. Gone is the young girl with the braces in the White House. Now she is certainly all grown up. She's 28 years old, and she works as a financial analyst. Lately she's taken on a very public role in her mother's presidential campaign. She's crisscrossing the country talking to mostly young voters about why another Clinton should lead the nation.

While Chelsea Clinton doesn't speak to the media as a rule, but she did let CNN's Gary Tuchman follow her on her recent stop in Philadelphia. Here's his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her father was a governor when she was born, a president when she was 12. Chelsea Clinton has been in the national public eye since 1992. But her fiercely-guarded privacy makes many realize they've never even heard her speak.

CLINTON: Jordan, nice to meet you, Jordan. Nice to meet you. Hi, Joe. Nice to meet you. Thanks for welcoming me.

TUCHMAN: She's speaking now, on behalf of her mother. We're in the University of Pennsylvania student union with her as she's about to take the stage, where she's greeted like a rock star as the sun gets ready to sit on the chilly Philadelphia campus.

CLINTON: I'm really excited to be here in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania.

TUCHMAN: With the crucial Pennsylvania primary coming up, Chelsea Clinton says she will take any questions students want to ask, nothing off limits. She's asked about homosexuals.

CLINTON: My mother has supported civil unions for longer than I've been alive.

TUCHMAN: She's asked about the Iraq war and General Petraeus.

CLINTON: My mother is on the armed services committee, and so she does listen to General Petraeus, but she disagrees with General Petraeus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will your mom to do to keep jobs in this country?

CLINTON: If a company wants to take jobs overseas, that's its prerogative. But we as American taxpayers should not be subsidizing that.

TUCHMAN: Chelsea Clinton, who lives in New York and works for a hedge fund, comes off as poised. She answers questions without notes. She's well prepared for a question about all the Bushes and Clintons in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your thoughts, that Bush-Clinton- Bush-Clinton thing?

CLINTON: One, I wish we hadn't had a second Bush.

TUCHMAN: Her staff says she's campaigned at 60 different colleges in 30 states, from Hawaii to Arkansas to Wisconsin, where she made an interesting comparison.

CLINTON: My mother is more fiscally conservative than my father and certainly this president.

TUCHMAN: And she is not shy about diving into campaign controversies.

CLINTON: My mom is fighting to seat the delegates from Florida. And I don't know what the Democratic Party will do.

TUCHMAN: her candid Q&A sessions are particularly notable, because she has no such sessions with reporters.

CLINTON: This is actually a perfect question.

TUCHMAN: A college journalist might slip in a question at these events, but for those of us notably past college age, nothing. Even though she's no longer 12, Chelsea Clinton has a no-interview policy that's rigorously enforced.

(on camera) It's easy for a lot of us to still think of Chelsea Clinton as a kid, but she's 28 years old. Her father, when he ran for Congress in his first try at political office, was also 28.

(voice-over) As she leaves the Penn campus on the way to a campaign stop in Wyoming, I asked one of her top aides if I could talk to her. He momentarily surprises me when he says yes, but it has to be off camera and off the record. For us, that's not particularly helpful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You were trying to blend in there. You did definitely stand out, a little bit older than most of those other college journalists there, trying to blend in with the rest.

Did anyone ask her about whether she wants to eventually run for office?

TUCHMAN: She gets this question at a lot of colleges, and she says definitely she has no intentions of ever being a politician. Her only political ambition, she says, is getting her mother in the White House this January 20.

COOPER: We'll see. Gary, thanks very much. Interesting to hear her voice.

Check out Gary's post on the 360 blog, where you'll also find several minutes of Chelsea Clinton speaking to students. The address, CNN.com/360.

Tomorrow on the program, the personal ups and downs of John McCain's wife, Cindy, what you may not know about her and their marriage. 360's Randi Kaye gives us an up-close look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1979, she met then future Senator John McCain at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Nancy Collins profiles Cindy in "Harper's Bazaar" magazine.

NANCY COLLINS, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": She said this guy in his white uniform was there and kind of -- she said he was kind of chasing me around the table, and I thought, "Whoa." But she said it was instant chemistry.

KAYE: Cindy was 24; he was 42, though at the time both lied about their ages, trying to narrow the 18-year gap. John McCain was married then, but separated. One month after his divorce, he married Cindy. Their perfect bliss would not last long.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, it has been documented what follows a secret addiction and a federal investigation that would haunt them for years. Cindy McCain, who now plays a key role in her husband's life, of course, up close tomorrow on 360.

Coming up tonight, the battle for super delegates. Voters may not get to choose who gets to be the Democratic nominee. It may end up in the high-powered hands of the super delegates. What you should know about them in "Raw Politics," next.

Also tonight, two college students in the state of Georgia, one beginning her studies, one nearing graduation. Now they are both dead, each killed under mysterious circumstances. Details when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Super delegates, with neither Democratic candidate pulling decisively away in the primaries and caucuses, it is looking more certain that, no matter how the final voting goes, about 800 super delegates, Democratic big-wigs, will be the final deciders. And how all those party and elected officials make their decision, how they pick a candidate, will make all the difference.

For more on the math and the politics driving all this, our panel is standing by, David Gergen, Lanny Davis and Jamal Simmons.

Lanny, you were part of the DNC when the super delegate system was created and refined, is this exactly the kind of situation you'd been preparing for?

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER CLINTON LAWYER: Actually, I was part of the debate and the answer to your question, Anderson, is yes. And just so everybody understands, at the time I was a DNC member opposed to the creation of a super delegate, because it seemed undemocratic to me, and let the elected delegates make the decision.

I actually became persuaded I was wrong when we looked at the com composition of the 1980 Democratic National Convention. There were virtually no governors, no senators, no members of Congress who are elected by the broad population, just people who were, in fact, elected by a sliver of the broad population, namely, Democrats who participate in primaries and caucus.

But the compromise, which everyone seems to forget, which caused me to change my vote was that we gave four-fifths of every future convention to elect the delegates out of the primaries and the caucuses and only one-fifth to our governors and our members of Congress, our senators and our party officials. And that is the ratio that presently exists, four-fifths elected and one-fifth is supposed to be independent. And, as David Axelrod, Barack Obama's campaign manager said, should exercise their independent judgment. That was their purpose.

COOPER: Jamal Simmons, I heard you wanted to comment?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I appreciate the tutorial from David -- I mean, from Lanny.

DAVIS: And David.

SIMMONS: But, you know, Barack Obama won the first super delegate today after the contest on -- this week after the contest on Tuesday. He's been catching up with Senator Clinton in the super delegates.

And part of the reason why that's happening is because there are a lot of Democrats like Bill Bradley who said that they're a little nervous about the skeletons that may be in the Clinton closet. And some of the skeletons we already know. But what new skeletons are there?

And that's what makes people nervous about not seeing -- not getting the sort of secret donor list out of the Clinton Foundation. We're not seeing the tax returns.

COOPER: I'm not sure what that has to do with the conversation about super delegates.

SIMMONS: It's the reason why -- the reason why Barack Obama is getting some of these super delegates coming toward him, I think, because people are nervous about what having the Clintons back on the national stage is going to look like.

COOPER: David, do you think it's going to -- do you think it's going to boil down, though, to super delegates?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's a very good chance it is, Anderson. Even if Florida and Michigan do redo, as we talked about earlier, and I think we'll have that. There's still a possibility that neither candidate will be close enough with pledged delegates to win. And it will then remain with the super delegates.

And clearly, with these big victories on Tuesday night, what Senator Clinton's camp is trying to do is put a freeze on the super delegates, not have anymore go to Barack Obama and let this go through Pennsylvania and maybe through a couple more big states like Florida and Michigan.

And with these late victories, convinced the super delegates, you know, the voters did like Barack Obama in the beginning, but now they no longer think maybe he would be a great commander in chief. And they're going to go back to the Lanny Davis argument. The reason Lanny Davis was arguing that so vigorously is that's an attempt to try to keep the super delegates frozen and then convince them, you know, we can actually win this better than he can. Therefore, even though he's got more pledged delegates at the end of the race.

And that's probably where this is going to wind up. He's probably going to have more pledged delegates at the end of all these primaries and caucuses. But the Clinton people may still be able to win it by saying, "We got all the late victories because voters had second thoughts, and now they see Hillary's the best."

COOPER: Lanny?

DAVIS: Not only does David Gergen usually get it right, he usually gets me right, and he's absolutely correct.

Let me give you a very interesting statistic. Hillary Clinton has won the big states and the major states that are at issue in battleground that go back and forth between elections.

In electoral votes, she's won states where 263 electoral votes. And Barack Obama, even though he won Utah and Idaho and North Dakota, Kansas having gone Democratic since 1964, he has 193 electoral votes. So the electability is the word. That's what super delegates are supposed to look at, the best interest of the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Jamal -- Jamal, you're an Obama supporter. I want to give you an opportunity to respond to what Lanny said, and then we've got to move on.

SIMMONS: Yes, this vicious (ph) argument that Barack Obama is not going to win California, Massachusetts or New York in a general election just because she won it in the primary.

DAVIS: What about Pennsylvania?

SIMMONS: Well, she's probably going to win. She's probably going to win Pennsylvania. But he won Missouri. He won a bunch of other states. So here's the thing.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... then we've got to move on.

SIMMONS: A win is a win. A win is a win. But here's the thing. Barack Obama has a diverse coalition. He's got the most diverse coalition that's out there running. He's got African-Americans. He's got women. He's got white voters. He's got 35 percent of the Latino community.

So that's the coalition that Democrats are going to need in the fall. While everyone is focused on what's happening in some earlier states, I think we need to stay focused on the fact that he can bring people together, including independents, for the general election.

COOPER: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Lanny Davis, Jamal Simmons, David Gergen, appreciate all of you joining us.

And just for our viewers, we do try to keep this as nonpartisan as possible. We try to give people, even though they are maybe partisan supporters, at one time or another, to sort of talk about larger issues. Sometimes it doesn't always work out.

Well, just ahead, two college campuses are reeling from two fatal shootings. Students grieve as police hunt for the killers.

Also, an unprecedented payout in the case involving vaccines and autism, what the decision does and doesn't mean for your child. Next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So just a note on programming, if you thought our shot of Knut the polar bear was scary the other night, well -- he's certainly not so cuddly anymore -- well, wait till you see tonight's "Shot." A close call with a croc is coming up. It gets a lot better than that shot.

Anyway, first, Gary Tuchman joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Gary.

TUCHMAN: Anderson, tonight at the University of North Carolina, students gathered to remember student body president Eve Carson, who was shot and killed yesterday. The 22-year-old's body was found in an intersection near campus. Police are looking for her SUV, believed to be stolen in the crime.

Meantime, in Alabama, police are investigating the fatal shooting of an Auburn University freshman. Eighteen-year-old Lauren Burk was found shot along a highway Tuesday night. Soon after, police found her car in flames back on campus. Two sad stories.

Ground Zero, where a reinforced staircase that people used to escape from the World Trade Center on 9/11. State officials had planned to knock down most of the structure. Instead, the stairs will be moved this weekend and eventually installed at the September 11 memorial.

And for the first time, a federal vaccine injury fund will compensate a family whose child developed autism-like symptoms after being vaccinated. In the case, officials conceded that vaccines worsened a rare disorder the girl was found to have, but they did not concede that vaccines caused autism, a very controversial issue.

COOPER: It certainly is. Gary, time for the "Beat 360" winner. You can tell by the cheesy music there. Tonight's picture shows President Bush and John McCain in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, the day Mr. Bush endorsed the presumptive Republican nominee.

Gary Tuchman came up with our staff winning caption. His entry: "John McCain relives his youth and surprises the incumbent president by concealing a joy buzzer in his palm."

I rather liked that one.

Our viewer winner is Mark. His caption: "Congratulations, John. You're the proud owner of the war in Iraq!"

Yikes.

Don't forget: you can play along or check out past winners by going to CNN.com/360. It's simple, it's fun, and no one gets hurt.

Stay right where you are, Gary. "The Shot" is just ahead. Some people apparently will do anything for a picture. Why would anyone think a crocodile would cooperate with a photo-op? Look. It's about to get much worse for this guy. A close call, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, Gary, you may remember the other day our "Shot" was this, Knut the polar bear all grown up and bearing his fangs at a little child. Well, there was actually a thin pane of glass that kept the boy safe. The boy doesn't seem all that scared.

Anyway, today, an even stranger attack. Right, dramatic animal video.

Take a look at this. The guy is on video, actually. The guy in the boat is fishing in Australia, spots a 16-foot crocodile. He decides it would make a great photo to take home for him, so he poses, leaning forward to get even closer. And then, the croc snaps.

It apparently burst out of the water, jaws open, teach flashing, just missed the target. The best part of what this guy said afterward. He told the local newspaper, quote, "I didn't realize that crocs were so aggressive."

TUCHMAN: Message to our viewers, Anderson, if you see something big and green in the water, stay away from it.

COOPER: Exactly. And if you do see something big and green in the water, take a photo of it and tell us about it: CNN.com/360. But don't get close, please.

TUCHMAN: Mixed message there.

COOPER: I know. I know. Well, what can we do?

You can go there to -- you can go to the blog to see all the most recent shots, all the segments from the program, just about anything you want. It's all there. The address, CNN.com/360.

A lot more at the top of the hour, starting with the potentially explosive battle over Democratic delegates in Michigan and Florida. It's heating up a lot today. Millions of people voted. The question is, will their votes count?

Also, safety on Southwest. Big fines on planes carrying passengers, even though the jets were supposed to be grounded. CNN broke the story. We've got new details when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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