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Barack Obama Under Fire Over Pastor's Words; Will Eliot Spitzer Go to Prison?

Aired March 13, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with a new controversy on the campaign trail. That's right, a new one. At issue, Barack Obama's pastor -- this man -- and the fiery remarks he has made.
A tape of one of his sermons -- you see it there -- on Hillary Clinton is all over the Web, and tonight you will hear it for yourself. Is what he says over the top? Should it even matter in this presidential race?

In a moment, you can decide for yourself.

We will also dissect the controversy with the best political team on television on television, Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, and Roland Martin.

Also tonight, new developments in the Florida foul-up that could tip the presidential race again, just like eight years ago. Florida officials now have a new plan to rerun its Democratic primary, the one that didn't count the first time because they jumped the gun. The problem is, the new plan is a mess. Joe Johns is going to cut through the spin and give us a better picture of how it really works, who's against it, and why.

Also ahead in the hour, will Eliot Spitzer end up in the slammer? What is New York's disgraced governor's legal exposure in connection with a sex-for-hire ring? Erica Hill lays out the facts tonight. And we will get analysis from CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and truTV's Lisa Bloom.

Later, Michelle Obama up close, her remarkable triumph over poverty, and her journey with Barack Obama that could land her in the White House. Randi Kaye tonight will bring you a side of this would- be first lady you may not have seen before.

A lot to cover, but we begin with campaign controversy. And, no, we're not talking about Geraldine Ferraro. At issue now, a video of a sermon given by Barack Obama's minister at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Barack Obama has already distanced himself, in some ways, from the pastor, but he's also called him a spiritual adviser. What you're about to hear is inflammatory to some. To others, harsh as it sounds, it's the truth. That's for you to decide, along with whether you think it has any place at all in this campaign for either candidate.

We're running it because, like it or not, legitimate or not, it has become an issue. The "Raw Politics" tonight from CNN's Susan Roesgen.


REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: ... who cares about what a poor black man has to face every day in a country and `a culture controlled by rich white peoples.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Reverend Jeremiah Wright preaching one of his last sermons at Senator Barack Obama's Chicago church on Christmas Day.

The church records and sells video of its Sunday services, and this one is getting a lot of hits on YouTube.

WRIGHT: It just came to me with -- within the past few weeks, you all, why so many folk are hating on Barack Obama. He doesn't fit the model. He ain't white. He ain't rich. And he ain't privileged. Hillary fits the mold.

ROESGEN: This is the kind of message the Obama camp does not endorse. Asked for reaction, a campaign spokesperson said, "Senator Obama has said before that he profoundly disagrees with some of the statements and positions of Reverend Wright."

Nevertheless, the sermon is picking up steam. The reverend goes on to compare Senator Obama to Jesus. And, while the message seemed inspirational to his congregation, some will find it inflammatory.

WRIGHT: Hillary was not a black boy raised in a single-parent home. Barack was. Barack knows what it means to be a black man living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Hillary has never had her people defined as a non-persons.

ROESGEN: Senator Obama, who's been a member of this church for 20 years, has said that Reverend Wright is like an old uncle who sometimes will say things he doesn't agree with. And what's more, the campaign also says, "Senator Obama deplores divisive statements, whether they come from his supporters, the supporters of his opponent, talk radio, or anywhere else."

A spokeswoman for Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign said she had not seen this video clip, but that the campaign's first reaction was simply no comment.

(on camera): We tried to reach Reverend Wright to get his reaction now to the fallout from his fire-and-brimstone sermon, but we're told he's on vacation and not available.

Susan Roesgen, CNN, Chicago.


COOPER: Well, joining me now to discuss all of this controversy, CNN's Candy Crowley, senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.

Gloria, in another sermon, Wright said the -- the U.S. brought on the 9/11 attacks with his own acts of terrorism. How much do you think this association between Barack Obama and his pastor could actually hurt him? I mean, does it matter?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, look, obviously, his remarks are incendiary. It comes at a particularly bad time.

This is a campaign that is now fraught with racial tension between the two camps. I think, honestly, it depends on how much the Clinton campaign decides to make of this and how much more distance Barack Obama places between himself and the man he calls, you know, sort of the uncle, and that he disagrees with. If he feels the need to distance himself even more, I bet he will.

COOPER: Roland, I want to read you something that a writer for "The Denver" -- a columnist from "The Denver Post" said earlier this month.

He said -- and I quote -- "As Obama's largest Recipient of charitable donations, Trinity United Church of Christ is more than a fleeting distraction in the candidate's life. This is not guilt by association. Asking Obama to clarify his connection to Wright is neither slander nor innuendo, nor is it the right-wing 'noise machine' in action."

Do you think this is a fair issue to raise with Obama?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Obviously, it is because, again, you have someone who is closely aligned with the senator in terms of being his pastor.

But, also, it speaks to the whole issue of context, for instance, when you talked about the 9/11 sermon that he gave, when he talked about sort of the downfall. In fact, you know, we saw the Republican debate where Congress Ron Paul made the exact same comment, that it was America and its foreign policy that contributed to sort of this anger towards America across the world.

So, that's not the first time I even heard that. But, clearly, they don't want this to be a focal point, because people can look at the sermon and say, well, I'm going to take this away from it, vs. hearing other sermons as well. People are not going to focus on the good of the church. They're not going to focus on any of that. They're going to focus on, again, inflammatory comments, absolutely.

COOPER: You know, Candy, is this just the kind of thing that happens in campaigns? It seems we're almost at a point, whether it's this or other issues with the Clinton campaign, where people are just latching on to anything to strike a blow against their opponent.

I mean, all this seems to have nothing to do with actual issues that the country is facing, which these candidates should be talking about and we probably should be talking about. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.

But, you know, we have seen campaigns turn on very small issues. I mean, it sometimes is about the broader spectrum. And I judge, this general election, John McCain vs. either of these two Democrats, you will get an issues debate, because the issues are so far apart. What you're dealing with are two candidates who are very close together.

COOPER: Right.

CROWLEY: It is a hugely fierce race here. So, every little thing counts.

COOPER: So, Candy, how did this all come about?


COOPER: This was being reported on by local papers in Chicago a year ago. Why now is it suddenly emerging? I mean, there are a lot of folks, Obama supporters, who will say, well, are Clinton campaign behind this? Are they the ones sort of stoking the fires on this?

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely, that's what they think. And, obviously, the Clinton campaign says, it's not so.

I think a couple of things happened. First of all, the pastor is now retired. So, this is -- as one Obama supporter said to me, this is kind of the last chance to get a hit in, because he is sort of going off the scene, the pastor is.

But, beyond that, you know, the suspicion between these two camps is pretty high. And they believe, even if the Clinton -- a lot of Obama supporters believe, even if the Clinton camp didn't put this out there, they believe that they fan it. And let's face it. We're headed into Pennsylvania, where the white working-class vote really matters.


BORGER: And I think Obama, you know...

MARTIN: But, Anderson, the reality is, it's really -- it's really Sean Hannity at FOX News who has made a point with a special that was on Sunday and even came back on Monday saying we're going to continue to expose this on talk radio. That's really where it actually started. It didn't start with the Clinton campaign.

But you also have a problem in terms of on the Republican side, because you have Pastor John Hagee out of San Antonio who has made some anti-Catholic comments. You now have Rod Parsley, who is also supporting John McCain, who has made some anti-Muslim comments, people are saying.

And, so, you -- all of a sudden, you are going to have candidates who have to deal with people who are supporting them who make comments that people found divisive. But Obama dealt with this with Donnie McClurkin, the pastor of the Gospel Concert in South Carolina. Clinton had to deal with it with the pastor out of Bay Area who is also anti-homosexual.

And, so, you're going to have this regardless. When people support a candidate, people are going to say, well, your supporter believes this. What do you think?

BORGER: you know, can I just say this is also precisely the kind of campaign that the American people don't want. They started out enjoying this campaign because the candidates were talking about the issues.

And now that it's getting down to the wire, we're talking about all this other stuff. And that's not what a lot of the voters really seem to want.

COOPER: Well, it's also frustrating just from a news standpoint, because, on the one hand, I mean, people are talking about it. It's clearly an issue that is bubbling up on the campaign trail, so we end up covering it.


COOPER: But, at same time, it does feel just completely off track.

And there have been other issues in this campaign which have just felt completely off track from the real differences between these candidates, the real issues. It's frustrating that yet again we seem to be mired in this politics as usual.

BORGER: But presidential campaigns are...


COOPER: Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: ... they're about character. They're about character also.


COOPER: Right.

BORGER: They're about issues and they're about who these people are, which is why, sometimes, they do tend to veer off.

COOPER: All right, Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, Roland Martin, appreciate your comments.

Up next: the latest on the Florida delegate foul-up, new plans to hold a primary again. We have got the details and the reasons why it could be dead before it even gets off the ground.

I'm blogging throughout the hour -- a lot of talk about Barack Obama's pastor. We would love to hear from you and what's happening in Florida. Join in. As always, go to

Later in the program: the legal lowdown on Eliot Spitzer, New York's disgraced governor.


COOPER (voice-over): He lost his job, wrecked his marriage and tarnished his name, with millions watching around the word.

GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: The remorse I feel will always be with me.

COOPER: But is he headed to the courthouse or even prison? We have got the legal facts of Eliot Spitzer's case and what he really could be in for.

Also, you see it on the street. You see it in the movies. But what are the real facts about prostitution in America?

360 investigates tonight.



COOPER: Well, that's right, new developments tonight in the Florida primary mess, with more than 1.5 million people stuck in the middle.

All they wanted to do was choose a Democratic candidate for president. But the state broke Democratic Party rules by holding the primary early, and the party said no delegates for you.

But, with the race now still close, those delegates, of course, are crucial. So, for weeks, lawmakers, lawyers, party insiders have been battling over what to do next. Well, today, they came up with a plan. Some plan.

CNN's Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest."


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're proposing a mail-in election, and, in a few special cases, some voters could still go to the polls. So, that's the plan from Democratic Party leaders in Florida.

But not so fast. First, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have to agree.

KAREN THURMAN, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: If the candidates do not agree, this is a nonstarter.

JOHNS (on camera): Then you would want the nine congressional Democrats from Florida to agree. And they don't, not at all. They rejected it immediately. It's such a spectacular mess, and you can't help but wonder how we got here. To hear some Florida Democrats tell it, they got railroaded, that Republicans, who control the state capitol, hijacked their primary election and forced them to do it in January.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: It was a Republican legislature and a Republican governor that changed the date.

JOHNS (voice-over): That's what he says now.

But, "Keeping Them Honest," we looked back at what those Florida Democrats were doing when this idea of moving the primary from March to January was first taking root.

(on camera): Early on, some Democrats here were very supportive of the idea of changing the primary date, even though they knew full well that the national Democratic Party might try to punish them for it.

(voice-over): In fact, it wasn't a Republican who started this. It was a Democrat, Florida State Senator Jeremy Ring. He's the guy who first, well, engineered the legislation last year.

(on camera): Were you railroaded?

JEREMY RING (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: Well, again, I think it's true -- it's true to -- it's true to state that, even if every -- it's a Republican legislature -- even if every Democrat voted against the bill, then -- then, yes, the bill could have passed. But we were not railroaded. There was not opposition to this bill. It was a bipartisan bill, and I believe it passed unanimously.

JOHNS (voice-over): Oh, and, by the way, the primary date change was buried in a large and popular election reform bill. There's no way Democrats were going to vote against that.

Still, a lot of people liked the date change thing in principle, even the head of the state Democratic Party.

THURMAN: And I, quite frankly, agreed with them on the fact that we wanted to have Florida, who is, you know, what, the fourth largest state, one of the diverse populations in this country, needed to have an opportunity to have, you know, their -- their votes heard in the picking of the -- of the presidential nominee.

JOHNS: So, where are we today?

Even though Florida Democrats officially floated their enhanced mail-in-vote idea today, their own state party leader is not optimistic.

THURMAN: I have a feeling that this is -- is probably getting to closer to not than yes.

JOHNS: Which means it could still come down to a fight at the convention in August.


COOPER: Man, what a mess.

What about Michigan?

JOHNS: Well, Michigan doesn't have an agreement to go forward either. The state party is negotiating with the campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

It's a little different there because Barack Obama's name wasn't on the ballot. The Clinton people would apparently like a redo. The Obama people apparently don't like any of the options they have heard so far. But the state party thinks, at the end of the day, they will get something. They will get their delegates seated.

COOPER: Really? All right, man. Thanks for keeping us up on it, Joe. Thanks.

Coming up: Eliot Spitzer, is the gov going to go to jail? We will take a look at that.

But, first, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a second suspect is facing murder charges tonight in the death of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson. Seventeen-year-old Laurence Lovette is also facing charges in the January murder of a Duke University grad student. Police say robbery was a motive in both killings.

At London's Heathrow Airport, a security breach -- police arrested a man carrying a backpack who scaled a fence and ran onto a runway toward planes. As you could expect, there were some flight delays.

And a 360 follow-up for you tonight -- back to New Haven, Connecticut, where school officials rethinking the punishment given to an eighth-grader for buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate. The student now gets to keep his class V.P. title. And his one-day suspension not going to go in the file. The school system banned all candy sales as part of its wellness policy -- Anderson.


COOPER: This is going to be like the best publicity for Skittles in like -- I don't know -- since Skittles was ever invented.


COOPER: They're probably going to send this kid a lifetime supply.

Erica, stay right there.

"What Were They Thinking?" is next. This video is -- you have got to see it to believe it. Some video caught on eye on Andrew Sullivan's Web site today. It's going to make you burst out laughing. It starts with a young man planning to videotape his weight-lifting session. Wait until you see what happens next.

And later: Will Eliot Spitzer be headed for the slammer? We will look at the potential legal fight he faces, as well as the dark side, the very dark side, of prostitution in America -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Erica, time for our "What Were They Thinking?" segment.

We spotted this video on Andrew Sullivan's blog tonight. I bet this guy is regretting he tried to videotape his workout session.

Take a look at this video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Momma. Momma. Momma.


HILL: Oh, man.

COOPER: I love that he calls his mom. And his mom is like there in a second with a bucket. That's how cool moms are, you know? They're right there.

HILL: That's a good mom right there.

COOPER: And he totally panics. He's like, what do I do?

HILL: What do I do?



HILL: ... a few other things, but...


HILL: Yes.


COOPER: Anyway.

Now here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."


KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson. Wake up to the most news in the morning, including a new twist in the housing crisis. Desperate times have some homeowners taking extreme measures, risking serious jail time -- a look at what some people are doing to get out from under their loans.

That's tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING." It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern -- Anderson, back to you.


COOPER: All right.

Well, up next tonight: new developments in the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal. Will the soon-to-be-ex-governor go to jail? We're digging deeper.

And on a far lighter, more web-footed note, here's tonight's "Beat 360."

Kermit the Frog on Capitol Hill, calling attention to the plight of amphibians.

Here's the caption from our staffer winner, Tommy, our producer in Baghdad: "Client number eight, during a D.C. press conference, invokes the 'It ain't easy being green' defense."

I actually kind of like that one.

HILL: I think it's good.

COOPER: It's topical.

Think you can do better, go to Send us your submission. We will announce the winner at the end of the show.



LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: This has been a very sad few days in the history of New York. And, for me, it's been sadder.

My heart goes out to Eliot Spitzer, his wife, Silda, his three daughters, his parents. I know them all. They're friends of mine.


COOPER: That was New York's lieutenant governor, David Paterson, earlier today. He will officially take office as governor on Monday.

Shortly after Eliot Spitzer resigned yesterday, the U.S. attorney's office shot down speculation that a deal had been cut, saying -- and I quote -- "There is no agreement between this office and Governor Eliot Spitzer relating to his resignation or any other matter." Of course, that doesn't mean Spitzer's lawyers have given up on a plea deal. But, assuming there's no deal, what might Spitzer be facing?

Erica Hill joins us again with that -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, the prosecution angle may grab the headlines, but it's the really less sexy bank moves that could truly cost Eliot Spitzer.


HILL (voice-over): Paying a prostitute for sex doesn't carry much of a penalty. Even if Eliot Spitzer is charged and convicted of solicitation in New York and D.C., where it's a felony, the sentence is usually about a year. But knowingly bringing a woman across state lines for paid sex, that is where things could get messy.

JAMI FLOYD, "IN SESSION" ANCHOR: It's as if he read the Mann Act and decided, oh, I think I will move this one. I'm in New York. She's in New York. Why don't I move her to D.C., and the Mann Act will apply?

HILL: The Mann Act says you can't move a person across state lines for purposes of prostitution. Conviction on a violation carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Then there's the way he allegedly paid for the sex, by breaking up large sums of money into smaller amounts to hide the payments. If he did it on purpose, Spitzer could be charged with structuring, which carries a possible five-year prison term and a fine.

And then there's money-laundering.

FLOYD: Money-laundering is certainly on the table. If you're entering that cash into a criminal enterprise, then, somewhere along the way, money-laundering may have occurred. And I think that's probably his greatest concern here.

HILL: If Spitzer had his security detail with him or if he used any state money when he was allegedly with a prostitute, that could amount to misuse of state funds.

FLOYD: How could it get any worse for Eliot Spitzer? I will tell you how. These sex rings very often have ties to organized crime. Four people have already been arrested. Four people suggest a conspiracy. And, if you're charged with conspiracy on any of these, laundering, prostitution, structuring, you're in big trouble.


COOPER: So, the question is, how is all of this most likely to play out for Eliot Spitzer?

Digging deeper now, here's CNN's legal analyst, freshly back from Hawaii, and former prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin, and truTV "In Session" anchor Lisa Bloom, who is also a trial attorney.

Jeff, is it likely he's going to get jail time?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think you have to divide these charges or potential charges into two areas. There's the prostitution and the Mann Act, which I think is very unlikely.


COOPER: The Mann Act is rarely ever invoked.

TOOBIN: Rarely ever invoked, particularly for a john and an adult prostitute. I mean, that, possibly, but I think very unlikely.

The financial stuff is much more perilous for Spitzer. But, also, the evidence is much murkier about that. And I think the U.S. attorney's office will be interested in prosecuting him if the evidence is there. But that's a complicated crime. It takes time to investigate. And I think that's what they are going to spend their time looking into.

COOPER: And we have seen these pictures of Alexandra Dupre, the woman alleged to be involved in this. Would she be charged with something, or would she -- her testimony be needed for any prostitution charge against Spitzer?

LISA BLOOM, TRUTV ANCHOR: Well, I think you put your finger right on it.

Certainly, she could be charged. Prostitutes often are charged and convicted. But, if they can get her to flip to testify against a bigger fish, either the head of the operation or against Eliot Spitzer, if that's who they want, she is going to get immunity.

TOOBIN: I think she's an automatic candidate for immunity, no matter what, even in the case against the pimps, the original case that brought this. They are not interested in prosecuting -- in prosecuting her.

BLOOM: The ironic thing, Anderson, is, this is all about prosecutorial discretion.

There are a lot of murky facts here that might give rise to some legal claims. It's up to the prosecutors to decide if they want to go after Eliot Spitzer, just as he took a lot of cases that may have been in the gray area...


COOPER: Because, usually, they go after the prostitutes. They don't go after the johns.

BLOOM: Usually, they go after the high-ranking people in the organization.

COOPER: Right. TOOBIN: Certainly, the federal prosecutors and sort of big statewide prosecutors, like Spitzer himself, was an attorney general, they go after the pimps, the organizers. And local officials often arrest prostitutes, but johns rarely get arrested anywhere, even though it is illegal.

COOPER: People say Eliot Spitzer was pretty brutal in -- when he was prosecuting people, and making them have a public apology and -- and not sort of cutting deals. Is that accurate?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. He was very, very tough.

I mean, he felt that the moral component, the public component, the deterrent effect of seeing powerful people brought low was a big part of what prosecutors do. His speciality was Wall Street.

But I think, you know, as Michael Garcia, the U.S. attorney who is investigating this, he's got to look at who is his target here. And he's going to see similar...

COOPER: How likely he will be disbarred?

TOOBIN: That's a different story. New York has a weird law. It has a law that says if you're convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. What is moral turpitude? Well, the courts have never settled on it.

Frankly, prostitution, unlikely. But, if there's some financial crime, possibly.


And let me just add that, a year ago, Eliot Spitzer signed into law a very tough sex crimes law in New York...

COOPER: It actually made it tougher on the johns.

BLOOM: ... which encouraged law enforcement to go after the johns. He activity supported it, and he signed it.


BLOOM: And advocates for the law said they thought that Eliot Spitzer got it because it's so exploitive of women...


COOPER: I just want to read this. Alan Dershowitz has written an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal." He's been on the show a couple times now defending Eliot Spitzer.

His point is that money-laundering and these restructuring law crimes were designed to catch drug dealers and terrorists, not politicians. He says: "The very existence of these selectively enforced statutes poses grave dangers of abuse. They lie around like loaded guns waiting to be used against the enemies of politically motivated investigators, prosecutors and politicians." Is it possible Spitzer is being unfairly targeted?

TOOBIN: I don't think there's any chance. There's no evidence that I have seen that he's being unfairly targeted.

And, look, these laws are on the books. Tax evasion was not intended to get organized crime figures, but it was used against Al Capone. If -- if -- if you commit these crimes, you have to be worried about prosecution, even if you are not the specifically intended target.

COOPER: How come no deal was made already? I mean...

BLOOM: They probably wouldn't make a deal. They probably wouldn't agree to a deal.

TOOBIN: I think that's exactly right.

BLOOM: And he had to go. And I think, politically, he had to go. He couldn't let this thing linger.

TOOBIN: He had to go.

And, also, I think his lawyers figure they will go to the prosecutor at some time and say, look, this is a marginal case. He's already resigned. What's the public interest in pushing a weak case, when you have already gotten what the public needs?

BLOOM: But one of the big open questions, though, Anderson, is, how many counts? Yes, it's a misdemeanor to be just a john, but what if he did it 12 times? What if he did it 50 times? Or 100 times? I think if there are that many counts, the prosecutors may come after him.

COOPER: We still don't know.

TOOBIN: Actually, I -- I brought you macadamia nuts.

BLOOM: And I got nothing. I got nothing.

COOPER: For those that don't realize, Jeffrey was in vacation in Hawaii, ended up reporting poolside for many hours at a time for us on CNN. We appreciate his dedication and his macadamia nuts, so to speak.

Jeffrey, thanks very much.

Lisa Bloom, as well.

Up next, the other side of the transaction that Eliot Spitzer allegedly took part in time and time again, prostitution, the reality of it.


COOPER (voice-over): You see it on the streets. You see it in the movies. But what are the real facts about prostitution in America? 360 investigates tonight.

And you know what she's become. Tonight, where Michelle Obama came from. Stories you've never heard before of poverty, hard work and how she made her man fight to win her love. 360 tonight.



COOPER: Those pictures, now seen around the world, are from the MySpace page of Ashley Alexandra Dupre, also known as Ashley Youmans. "The New York Times" has identified her as Kristen, the prostitute Eliot Spitzer allegedly arranged to meet in Washington last month.

Now in her profile, she describes herself as a 22-year-old aspiring musician living here in New York who left home when she was 17.

On our blog, one of our viewers wrote that she hoped the media isn't going to play the Spitzer prostitution story like it's "Pretty Woman." You should be glad to know we're not. Tonight, a reality check.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 1990, "Pretty Woman" told the Cinderella story of a prostitute in love. But few fans know the original screenplay called for a dark tale of a drug- addicted hooker. For groups like the Polaris Project, fighting human trafficking, that version rings true.

BRADLEY MILES, POLARIS PROJECT: The majority of the sex industry is a place of exploitation. It's a place of class and racial dynamics, gender dynamics, men buying women. Pimps controlling women. That's not a fun place to be.

FOREMAN: Accurate statistics are notoriously hard to come by, but the most dire say the average prostitute begins in her early to mid-teens. A majority have suffered sexual abuse and are likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Nearly 9 in 10 will be violently attacked and likely raped by a customer or employer. Three quarters will consider suicide. Up to 30 percent of prostitutes in cities are male.

The statistics are so terrible, some researchers say they are actually too bad to be true. Their studies suggest that, while streetwalkers may indeed live horrible lives, for others it may not be quite so awful. Their research says some high-priced call girls, like the woman allegedly involved with Eliot Spitzer, may feel empowered by their income and their presumed control over men.

But others don't buy it.

MILES: We're seeing a very different reality than that myth of the victimless crime, that "Pretty Woman" myth.


COOPER: It's interesting, Tom. You mentioned in your piece that the numbers on prostitution in America are hard to come by. Why is that exactly, just no studies?

FOREMAN: Well, nobody is proud of it. And yes, there are a lot of studies. A lot of studies. People have tried to get to the bottom of this, but you have to remember, there are many different layers.

There are the street-walking prostitutes that we see, mainly, when we have news video. There are people who work for escort services. There are people who work in message parlors. There are a number of different ways where people might be involved in this at different strata.

And getting into those and finding out exactly what's going on is very difficult, in part because there is a lot of money being passed around, and the people who are benefiting from it don't want us to know how much is being made, how it's being made and who is suffering for it -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Up next, Senator Obama calls her his rock. She could be the next first lady. But what do you really know about Michelle Obama? Randi Kaye takes us up close, next.


COOPER: The last couple of days we've shown you Chelsea Clinton on the campaign trail and Cindy McCain, as well. But tonight, up close with Michelle Obama.

She's 44 and once worked as a corporate attorney. Like two other spouses in the race, Michelle Obama has faced hardships and setbacks and challenges. She's also outspoken, and like her husband, determined to make history this November.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes us up close.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She is the love of my life, the rock of our household.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the rock behind this rock star candidate.

B. OBAMA: The next first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

KAYE: Michelle Obama is always in her husband's corner. Keeping him real, she likes to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the other, you know, kind of rock star stuff that goes along with this hasn't really fazed her one bit.

KAYE: Good friend Valerie Jarrett (ph) says Michelle is candid, self-deprecating, with a character and confidence instilled by her parents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Michelle tells you she's going to do something, not only is she going to do it but she's going to blow it out of the ballpark.

KAYE: She was born Michelle Robinson in 1964. Her parents raised Michelle and her brother Craig in a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment on Chicago's South Side.

CRAIG ROBINSON, MICHELLE OBAMA'S BROTHER: We didn't know how poor we were. So it was terrific.

KAYE: Michelle's mother stayed home. Her father worked for the city. At 30, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

ROBINSON: We watched a man who was disabled get up and go to work every day.

KAYE: That, Craig says, is where Michelle's sense of hard work and commitment comes from.

ROBINSON: If my father was ever disappointed in us, the whole house would be in tears.

KAYE: Craig says Michelle had good grades. She played piano and wrote short stories. At Whitney Young Magnet School, she was class treasurer. Even as a young girl, her brother recalls her strong will.

(on camera) She boss you around?

ROBINSON: Oh, yes. Whatever games we wanted to play or she wanted to play, we played.

KAYE: They had dinner as a family every night and went to drive- in movies. Then in 1990, her father died.

Her parents never had the chance to go to college, but Michelle and her brother made it to the Ivy League. Both landed here at Princeton: Craig on a basketball scholarship, Michelle on a whim.

ROBINSON: The story she tells, "Well, if Craig can get in there, I certainly can." So she applied and got in. And you're laughing, but that's how she thinks.

KAYE: Michelle majored in sociology, minored in African-American studies. Here's where she first struggled with her identity and ambitions. In her thesis, she wrote, "My experiences have made me far more aware of my blackness than ever before. I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus."

She graduated from Harvard Law School and took a job at this Chicago law firm. Before long, Barack Obama would enter her life. What would it take to win her heart?

ROBINSON: All I could think of was, oh, this is -- this can't -- it can't come out well.


COOPER: Up next, how Michelle Obama put her future husband to the test, her nickname on the campaign trail and what Barack Obama promised he would do before running for president. Part two of Randi's report is coming up.

Also ahead, Congress in secret session for the first time since 1983. Why they don't let cameras in. Answers when 360 continues.


COOPER: Michelle Obama told CNN that politics is her husband's dream, not her dream. At the same time, she admits that campaigning has been the most worthwhile experience of her life. Well, tonight we're looking at her story up close. It's a revealing portrait.

Before the break, we told you about Michelle's upbringing and education, including law school. And it was after law school when she met a young man who changed her life forever.

More now from CNN's Randi Kaye.


KAYE (voice-over): He was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm. She was his mentor. So it all began. And when Barack Obama wanted to date the woman who would become his bride, her brother says she made him sweat, literally.

ROBINSON: My sister had heard my dad and I talking about how you can tell a guy's true character when you take him out on the basketball court. So she asked me to take him to go play.

KAYE (on camera): She was testing him?

ROBINSON: She was testing him, testing him. Had a gauntlet for the guy to run through.

KAYE: So when the game was over, what did you report back?

ROBINSON: I told my sister, I said, "This guy's terrific."

KAYE (voice-over): Barack and Michelle Obama married in 1992 and settled in Chicago.

(on camera) Barack Obama's political career would come later. After graduating college here at Princeton and Harvard Law School, Michelle was on the fast track. Unfulfilled in her law career, though, she began to pursue something more meaningful: public service.

(voice-over) She took a job with the mayor and in 1996 moved to the University of Chicago Medical Center. She's on leave to campaign.


KAYE: Her discipline is unique. She works out at 4:30 every morning and is in bed by 8:30 at night. Daughters Malia and Sasha are top priority.

M. OBAMA: I'm a mother first. And I'm going to be at parent teacher conferences, and we're -- I'm going to be at the things that they want me to attend. I'm not going to miss a ballet recital.

Can we do this?

KAYE: On the campaign trail, Michelle is an impressive fundraiser and bridge to women, black and white. Her style earned her the nickname "The Closer" from the "Chicago Tribune."

JOHN MCCORMICK, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": They tended to send her places where Senator Obama had been, you know, a week or ten days earlier, and she was very good at sort of closing the deal with voters.

M. OBAMA: And I'm his wife. I love him. He's cute.

KAYE: Her candor has brought criticism. After mocking her husband's dirty socks at a rally, one female columnist accused her of emasculating him.

She was also attacked for this.

M. OBAMA: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country.

MCCORMICK: People have taken that quote and suggested, "Well, she -- you know, how can she be a first lady if she's never been proud of her country before?" That's not what she meant to say, but it did come out that way.

KAYE (on camera): Is she pretty thick skinned?

ROBINSON: When it's on her, she handles it just fine. When it comes to criticizing Barack or somebody else in the family or someone she really cares about, she's the best person to have in your corner.

KAYE: Look out.

(voice-over) Michelle insisted her husband quit smoking before she agreed to this campaign and has promised her girls, win or lose, they get a new puppy.

But make no mistake: Michelle is in this to win.

(on camera) Ever kind of pinch yourself and say, "Well, wait a minute, my sister could become first lady of the United States"?

ROBINSON: It is surreal to think of my sister as being the first lady. You know, astronaut maybe or, you know, first woman to swim around the world or something -- you know, something completely out of the ordinary. But first lady? That would have been at the bottom of my list.

KAYE (voice-over) : Bottom of his, now top of hers.


COOPER: Interesting. Did you get any sense from him how his sister is handling being on the campaign trail?

KAYE: I did, Anderson. Again, it goes back to her childhood. As a young girl he says she really didn't like team sports. She never liked to see anybody else lose. As he put it, she never liked to beat the daylights out of somebody else.

In fact, when she would go to his basketball games in high school, if they were too close, she wouldn't be able to take the stress. She'd have to leave. If it was a blowout, she could stay all night.

So of course, knowing that, I asked her bother, well, how is she handling such a tight race? And he says she's pretty stressed out, but she understands how important this is to the country. And in his words, he said, her sense of duty outweighs that stress.

But imagine -- she couldn't even handle a close basketball game -- what this must be doing to her.

COOPER: Nerves of steel. Randi, thanks. Appreciate it. Nice report, up close.

Tomorrow on 360, Bill Clinton unplugged, campaigning for Hillary Clinton. CNN's Gary Tuchman is with him on the campaign trail.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Backstage at a high-school gymnasium in Erie, Pennsylvania, William Jefferson Clinton gets ready to whip a crowd into a frenzy over his wife.

Hundreds of people line up to get in on still another cold, snowy Northwestern Pennsylvania day. Most are here because they support Hillary. But they want to hear Bill.


COOPER: The "Raw Politics" of Bill Clinton, at the mike tomorrow on 360.

Coming up, ever wonder what happens when the royal family gets a Rasta-man vibration? I'm not even sure what a Rasta-man vibration means. But Charles and Camilla rocking steady. It's our "Shot," and it's just ahead.

But first Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, we're going to show you a live shot of the outside of the capital tonight. Why, you ask? Well, it's because we can't show you what's happening inside.

The House is in a rare closed session for the first time in 25 years. Members tonight debating changes to the federal law that covers domestic spying. House Republicans requested the secret proceedings.

No ties between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda. That is the conclusion of the U.S. military's first and only study of the question. The al Qaeda connection and weapons of mass destruction were two key elements in the administration's case for war five years ago.

And gains on Wall Street. Investors latching onto a report saying financial institutions are finally getting over the home mortgage mess. The Dow managed to close up 35. The S&P and NASDAQ also finished in the positive.

COOPER: Erica, now our "Beat 360" winner. You know how it works. Every day we post a picture on our Web site. You compete with our staff to come up with the best caption.

Tonight's picture comes from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and shows Kermit the Frog posing on Capitol Hill this week to draw attention to the plight of amphibians, which are facing grave threat from pollution and disease. A serious problem, but we have to admit, a funny shot.

So our staff winner is Tommy in Baghdad. A shout-out to him. He e-mailed this caption from Baghdad, where he's our producer. His entry: "Client 8 during a D.C. press conference invokes the 'it ain't easy being green' defense."

HILL: I like it.

COOPER: I do like this one. I do like it.

And our viewer winner is Cheryl. Her caption: "This political race between Spongebob and myself boils down to ONE question: at 3 a.m., who do you trust to save your bacon?"

Ba-dum-ba. Miss Piggy could not be reached for comment.

You can check out all the entries Cheryl beat at

Just ahead, a rare royal jam session. It's not every day you get to see Prince Charles and Camilla channeling their inner Bob Marley. Who knew they were reggae fans, anyway? Or had an inner Bob Marley?

Plus, race and politics, a fiery new controversy on the campaign trail. What Barack Obama's pastor said to set the whole thing in motion, what the media is saying about it, what the candidates are saying about it. And should anybody be talking about it anyway? Next on 360.


REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, BARACK OBAMA'S PASTOR: ... who are raised in a single parent...



COOPER: Erica, tonight's "Shot" takes us to Jamaica, where Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are visiting. Officially, they're touring the Caribbean to promote environmental protection, but today, they also found time to kind of get their groove on. Take a look.





HILL: Looking for rhythm there?

COOPER: I don't know. Yes, we can look for a long time. The royal couple visited the home of the late reggae artist Bob Marley, now a museum. They were greeted outside by a group of Rastafarian musicians, and the jam session went on.

HILL: They don't look very at home. Perhaps they should have had a Red Stripe or two first. Just a thought.

COOPER: Yes, yes. They -- you know, they did their best. Got to give them credit for that.

HILL: There you go. Jamming royals, of course, hard to top, Anderson. But we have some jamming politicians. Remember rapping Karl Rove last March?

COOPER: Who could forget?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what is your name



HILL: Oh, yes. MC Rove.

COOPER: Please make it stop. Make it stop, please.

HILL: It's never going to go away. That, of course, is from last year's Radio and Television Correspondents Association.

COOPER: Yes, all right. Let's make that stop, please. Make it stop for me. Thank you.

You can check out the recent "Shots," other segments from the program at

Coming up at the top of the hour, a new plan to fix the mess over Florida's Democratic primary. Barely out a day, it's already being torn apart. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also, potentially explosive words from Barack Obama's pastor. Should they have anything to do with the political campaign? Should Senator Obama be held accountable for them? We'll let you decide, next on 360.