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Barack Obama's Former Pastor Speaks Out; Polygamist Families Torn Apart; Does Hillary Have Momentum?

Aired April 24, 2008 - 22:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: Barack Obama's preacher problem, is it going from headache to migraine? For the first time since his words nearly derailed the campaign, Reverend Jeremiah Wright is speaking out. He's reacting to critics and talking about how Senator Obama handled him.
No 12-second sound bites from us, though. We are going to have extended clips, so you get the full context in a serious discussion with no preaching to the choir or anybody else.

Also tonight, putting Hillary Clinton's new math to the test. She says she's now ahead in the popular votes. Is it true? And, true or not, are superdelegates buying it?

Then, later, heartbreak in Texas -- the children of Warren Jeffs' FLDS compound being bused away, bound for foster care. We have got the latest on the court battle to stop it and why the number of children just went up, and new details on the woman whose bogus phone call may have touched this all off.

First, though, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright breaking his silence. Reverend Wright, you will recall, was Senator Obama's pastor, during which he made remarks in sermons on 9/11 and other topics that many call un-American.

Senator Obama disavows those remarks and says he wasn't in the church for the most notorious ones. His travel schedule backs that up. But he has taken a lot of heat, all the same, for not leaving the church and not disavowing the man completely. Well, fair or not, it's a problem, perhaps made larger now that Jeremiah Wright is speaking out, starting with PBS' Bill Moyers.


REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly.

A failure to communicate is when something is taken, like a sound bite for a political purpose, and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public. That's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic, or, as the learned journalist from "The New York Times" called me, a "wackadoodle." It's to paint me as something, something's wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with this country. There's nothing. It's for its policies. We're perfect. We're -- our hands are free. Our hands have no blood on them, that that's not a failure to communicate. The message that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate.

BILL MOYERS, HOST: What do you think they wanted to communicate?

WRIGHT: I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And, by the way, guess who goes to his church? Hint, hint, hint. That's what they wanted to communicate.

They know nothing about the church. They know nothing about our prison ministry. They know nothing about our food share ministry. They know nothing about our senior citizens home. They know nothing about all we try to do as a church and have tried to do, and still continue to do as a church that believes what Martin Marty said, that the two worlds have to be together, and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has to speak to those worlds, not only in terms of the preached message on a Sunday morning, but in terms of the lived-out ministry throughout the week.

MOYERS: What did you think when you began to see those very brief sound bites circulating as they did?

WRIGHT: I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that were doing it for some very devious reasons.

MOYERS: In the 20 years that you have been his pastor, have you ever heard him repeat any of your controversial statements as his opinion?

WRIGHT: No. No. No. No, absolutely not.

I don't talk to him about politics. And so here at a political event, he goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician. I continue to be a pastor who speaks to the people of God about the things of God.


BROWN: The Reverend Jeremiah Wright talking with Bill Moyers.

And this is, of course, playing out in a political pressure- cooker. Next week, over the objections of John McCain, Republicans in North Carolina plan to run an attack ad targeting Senator Obama featuring Jeremiah Wright. And that's only part of the picture.

Joining us now to talk about it, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, CNN contributor Roland Martin, and also Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council. He's also co-author of "Personal Faith, Public Policy." David, from what you just heard, give us your impression of Wright's defense.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This might well have been shown under the segment -- what was he thinking?

It is entirely understandable that Reverend Wright would want to defend himself. He does feel he's been unfairly attacked. And this is a free country. But why now? Why break his silence at a very sensitive moment for Barack Obama?

He just -- he has just -- this is the first time in American history that an African-American has a serious chance of ascending to the presidency, the highest office in the land. And Reverend Wright has just made this climb a lot steeper. Barack Obama needed to get back on message and have the Wright story die and go away. Reverend Wright, by going -- choosing to go on television now, by making a speech to the National Press Club tomorrow, is fanning those flames once again, putting his story right back up front.

That does Barack Obama no favors.

BROWN: Roland, Obama criticized some of Reverend Wright's sermons in his race speech in Philadelphia. And the reverend was asked about those remarks.

Let's listen to what he said.


WRIGHT: It went down very simply. He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds.

I do what I do. He does what politicians do, so that what happened in Philadelphia where he had to respond to the sound bites, he responded as a politician.


BROWN: So, is the reverend accusing Obama of essentially pandering there?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. What he is saying is, that's exactly what he is.

I mean, Reverend Wright is indeed a pastor, just like Senator Obama may make a particular statement, and I, as a journalist, may respond in a wholly different way. So, I don't see it as throwing under the bus and saying it's pandering. That's what he is.

And just like you have other pastors who have defended Reverend Wright speaking in the prophetic tradition, being able to offer critical analysis of various issues and putting them within a theological context. And, so, that's what you have here. Now, I will say this here. First of all, he's scheduled to speak at the national prayer breakfast at the Press Club on Monday -- I'm sorry -- the prayer breakfast -- the -- on Monday at the Press Club.

You know what? There are some people who will say, that shouldn't take place. I agree with David. It does extend the story. And, so, I wouldn't be surprised if that event gets canceled. Some people certainly believe that should be the case, because why do you want to make this the story knocking Obama completely off the front page for the next five to seven days?

BROWN: Right.

Well, Tony, do you think what he said so far in this interview has given Obama's opponents more ammunition?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, I think David's right. I think he has every right to speak. He has a right to preach and has every right to say what he has said.

But I do think that, in an election cycle where the Democratic candidates are talking a lot -- using a lot of faith talk, trying to appeal to evangelicals and people that attend church, that there's a real risk here for the Democrats because they don't want to -- they -- I wouldn't think that they would want Jeremiah Wright defining what that faith means, because there are many, many evangelicals in this country that have concerns about the government's policies, such as on the issue of abortion.

But they don't pray for the damnation of the country. They pray for the country, following the admonition of Scripture to pray...

MARTIN: hey, Tony, he never did that.

PERKINS: ... to pray that we have -- that we have a good government, so that we can live peaceably in this country.

And, so, I think there's people that will see him back in the forefront, his messages replayed again. And I think that's very troubling, or should be for the Democratic Party.

MARTIN: Hey, Campbell? Hey, Campbell?

BROWN: Yes, go ahead, Roland.

MARTIN: I have got to correct tony. He -- I have got to correct tony. He never prayed for the damnation.

In fact, for those people who are listening, we actually have the actual sermon on the CNN political ticker, so you can actually listen to it, because I think one of the problems here, if you understand, even when he made the "G.D. America" statement, that was within the context of a sermon called "God vs. Government," saying that government is not more important than God.

So, again, to correct Tony, he never said that, never uttered that. That's a factual error on Tony's part.

BROWN: OK. Let me go to David.


PERKINS: He did not use those words? He did not say that about...


MARTIN: Tony, he did not call for the damnation of America. You're absolutely wrong.


PERKINS: And he talked about how -- how the chickens have come home to roost and all that happened in 9/11 was justifiable here to this country. I don't think how -- I can't understand how any preacher who would preaching...


MARTIN: No, Tony, he never said that. He didn't say that.


PERKINS: ... the Gospel and encouraging people to pray for America on one of the most tragic events would somehow say America is deserving of that attack.

MARTIN: Tony, he did not say that.

BROWN: All right, David -- let me bring David back into this and talk a little bit about the politics, David. I mean, Reverend Wright was obviously going to speak out eventually. How do you think the Obama campaign will react to this? How, if at all, should they address it?

GERGEN: They shouldn't say anything publicly.

But the very fact that this -- this debate has erupted again, right here on your show, right here at the top of a national news show, the story all over again is about Reverend Wright and his relationship with -- with Barack Obama and what Reverend Wright meant or didn't mean or what, you know -- and all those associations are basically not helpful to Barack Obama right now, when he needs to get his message through about caring for working people, and he needs to get back on track with his campaign.

To give -- to give new life to this story, I think, for Reverend Wright to do this, frankly, at this time, was -- he has every right to do it, but it was a selfish act. It was an act that said, I care more about defending myself than I do trying to help this fellow, who was my parishioner, ascend to the highest office in the land, first time in history. So, you know, he could have kept his silence until these primaries were over. He was in that -- he wasn't getting hurt during this time.

BROWN: Right.

GERGEN: Instead, he decided to break his silence.

BROWN: And, Roland, is this going to continue to dog Obama as long as he's a candidate? I mean, what, if anything, can he do to put voters' minds at ease about it?

MARTIN: First and foremost, he's already talked and it. He gave a speech on race.

What he has to simply say is, look, I have made my statements. I have responded to it. If you have any further questions regarding things about Reverend Wright from this point on, you can talk to him. It's not going to go away, but he has to move on. He cannot continue to bring it up.

I think, if I'm Reverend Wright, what I do is, I go to the place where I'm comfortable. I preach in pulpits. I talk about theology. That's where I go. He's operating in a different element. When you're in the pulpit, that's what your area is.

BROWN: Right.

MARTIN: And, so, again, Obama, they're not going to make a comment about this. They're going to move on and focus on this, and not Reverend Wright.


We have got to pause there. We are going to have more with the panel coming up next, and more from the pastor himself in his own words.

And then, later, Hillary Clinton, does she have momentum after her nine-point win in Pennsylvania and a $10 million fund-raising day? We're going to explore her path to the nomination.

And the latest on hundreds of FLDS kids and the mothers fighting to keep them out of foster care. We have got that and more -- tonight on 360.



WRIGHT: And now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yard. America's chickens are coming home to roost.


BROWN: The Reverend Jeremiah Wright's now notorious sermon, those chickens tonight roosting in Barack Obama's campaign.

Before the break, you heard Reverend Wright talking with Bill Moyers, the full interview airing tomorrow night on PBS.

Here's another piece of it.


MOYERS: Did you ever imagine that you would come to personify the black anger that so many whites fear?

WRIGHT: No, I -- I did not.

I have been preaching -- as I have been preaching since I was ordained 41 years ago, I pointed out to some of the persons in Chicago who find all of this new to them that the stance I took in standing against apartheid, along with our denomination, back in the '70s, and putting a "Free South Africa" sign in front of the church put me at odds with the government.

Our denomination's defense of the Wilmington Ten and Ben Chavis put me at odds with the establishment. So, being at odds with policies is nothing new to me.

The blowup and the blowing up of sermons preached 10, 15, seven, six years ago, and now becoming a media event, again, not the full sermon, but just snippets from the sermon and sound bites, having made me the target of hatred, yes, that -- that is something very new and something very, very unsettling.

MOYERS: Here is a man who came to see you 20 years ago, wanting to know about the neighborhood. Barack Obama was a skeptic when it came to religion. He sought you out because he knew you knew about the community. You led him to the faith.

You baptized him. You performed his wedding ceremony. You baptized his two children. You were, for 20 years, his spiritual counselor. He has said that.

And, yet, he, in that speech at Philadelphia, had to say some hard things about you. How did it go down with you when you heard Barack Obama say those things?

WRIGHT: It went down very simply. He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds.

I do what I do. He does what politicians do, so that what happened in Philadelphia where he had to respond to the sound bites, he responded as a politician.


BROWN: And we are back with our panel now, CNN's David Gergen and Roland Martin and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. David, again, we just heard an unrepentant Wright. Do you think he has a legitimate point in arguing he has been taken out of context?

GERGEN: I think he has been taken out of context.

I think -- and what you saw in that interview was a another side of Jeremiah Wright that hasn't been out there. It was a softer, more thoughtful, quieter side, that is sort of in jarring comparison to the (INAUDIBLE) sound bites we have seen.

But even in this -- even in this quiet conversation with Bill Moyers, when offered an opportunity to talk about Barack Obama, he simply dismissed him as, well, he's just a politician and I'm a pastor.

I disagree with Roland on how that came out. It sounded to me like was he was -- it had a dismissive quality; that is what all politicians do.

And it seems to me that what Barack Obama has been trying to say is that he's not just another politician, that he's trying to descend -- transcend the old politics. And here, his pastor -- I think Barack -- I think the pastor did a lot more of throwing Barack Obama under the bus than Barack Obama did to him.

BROWN: Well, Tony...

MARTIN: Well, I will tell you, David...

BROWN: OK, quickly, Roland.

MARTIN: I will tell you, David, I know Reverend Wright is a little ticked off at me, because I made some comments on the radio in Chicago, and I have been called, "Well, he's just a radio talk show host, and I'm a pastor."

So, I know what that feels like. And that's just -- again, it's a matter of how one takes it. What is the perception? Do you see it as negative or positive?

BROWN: All right, Tony, let me go to you.


BROWN: You're shaking your head.

PERKINS: Well, I agree with David 100 percent. I think the fact that he said, well, he just had to say that because he's a politician, I think when -- when -- the target -- think of the target the Democrats are trying to reach, evangelicals, Christians, people who typically have voted Republican.

I would have to ask Roland this question. What is the purpose of preaching? I mean, the purpose of preaching is to influence the pews. And how could Barack Obama sit for 20 years in -- under the preaching and tutelage and mentoring -- mentorship of Pastor Wright and not be influenced by him?

And I think that's what voters will be asking. And this dredges all of that back up. And the fact that Pastor Wright simply says he was saying what he needed to say as a politician is troubling.


BROWN: But, Tony, he was pretty clear -- he was pretty clear in saying that he had never heard Obama repeat any of his comments, never discussed politics with him.

PERKINS: Well, I mean, again, I go back -- and I use this from a frame of reference of -- again, of the people the Democratic Party are trying to reach.

We attend church because we want to be influenced by the pulpit, what is said. We don't go there simply to go there. We go to be influenced. And most people who go to church are influenced by the words they hear.


MARTIN: Hey, Tony -- hey, Tony, my wife was an ordained minister for 20 years. The first and foremost job of a pastor is to -- is to salvation. That's their primary job.


PERKINS: But how do they do that?


PERKINS: Roland, even in Scripture, it says how do they know unless they hear? It's the word. It's just part of the word.


MARTIN: Tony, there's a theological influence -- there's a theological influence and what you're talking about in terms of being able to preach about public policy and sociology in a theological context. So, your view of theology may be different from mine.

BROWN: OK, let me bring it back...


PERKINS: No, I'm just saying that you're influenced by it. That's the purpose that they preach, so they can influence the people that hear them.

BROWN: All right, Roland, let me bring it back to, I think, what is really the issue here, is Wright was criticized for saying Americans' foreign -- America's foreign policy helped bring about 9/11. And, as we just heard, he didn't back down from that. Let's listen again to his views on America.


WRIGHT: ... is to paint me as some sort of fanatic, or, as the learned journalist from "The New York Times" called me, a "wackadoodle."

It's to paint me as something, something's wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with this country. There's nothing. It's for its policies. We're perfect. We're -- our hands are free. Our hands have no blood on them, that that's not a failure to communicate. The message that is being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate.


BROWN: You know, Roland, to some voters, this comes across as anti-American. Is this a problem for...

MARTIN: Well...

BROWN: ... for Obama?

MARTIN: Well, and I would tell some voters, maybe they ought to read their actual history.

In the actual sermon that he is referencing, he talked about what Native Americans have gone through in this country in terms of what they experienced. He talked in terms about war. He talked Panama, talked about Grenada.

Some people have a view of war from a political context. There are those who look at war as not being a -- a matter of what God desires. That's what he is talking about. I mean, so, I actually happened to listen to it. And, so, it's all a matter of what your particular perspective is.

And, so, we can't deny that reality. Secretary of State Colin Powell had to apologize for what took place when it came to Chile and Pinochet. We have had American -- we have had American officials what have had to apologize because of what our government has done, what happened in Iran with Mossadegh, overthrowing him, what heard in Nicaragua?

I mean, the Reagan administration completely ignored the laws of the United States. And that's a reality there. We can't deny what we have actually done. We have done good. We have done bad. That's called American history.

GERGEN: But the issue, Roland, here...

BROWN: Go ahead, David?

GERGEN: ... is that you're trying to sort of say, well, because he says it in a pulpit, it's not political.

He's bringing politics into the pulpit and saying things that do have... MARTIN: That's nothing new.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. It's done -- it's done by evangelicals. It's done by other mainstream preachers.

MARTIN: For centuries.

PERKINS: And he has every right to do it.

GERGEN: But -- but -- he has every right to do that, to try to interpret things theologically.

But you have to say that he has -- it does have a stance on American history and that Barack Obama has been his -- been in those pews for 20 years off and on. So, that's the issue that is making people uncomfortable. There's nothing -- of course, he brings politics into the pew. A lot of preachers do that of every stripe.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

GERGEN: But the question that Tony Perkins is asking and other people are asking is, how does Barack Obama feel? Does he feel comfortable sort of saying, this is the man who is my spiritual mentor, knowing that these are all his political views? That's what the issue is.


BROWN: All right, guys?

MARTIN: I understand that, David. I say, go to to listen to the actual sermon and then make an informed opinion, not on two minutes.

BROWN: A fascinating, fascinating discussion.

My many, many thanks to David Gergen, to Tony Perkins, and to Roland Markin -- Roland Martin -- excuse me.

Got to end it there, guys. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.


MARTIN: Thanks, Campbell.

BROWN: Still to come: Is it fuzzy math on the campaign trail? Which Democrat is really ahead in the popular vote? We have got the "Raw Politics" coming up.

Also, the White House releasing five photos of a nuclear power plant in Syria, a plant that it says North Korea helped build.

Plus, up, up and away, but is he gone for good? An update on the search for a priest who vanished after taking flight with the help of 1,000 balloons -- all that and more when 360 continues.


BROWN: Which Democrat is truly ahead in the popular vote? Depends on who you ask. Well, we have got the "Raw Politics" coming up.

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


Republican presidential candidate John McCain touring New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward today and blasting President Bush and all levels of government for the failed response to Hurricane Katrina. McCain said -- quote -- "We didn't have the right kind of leadership."

Speaking peace -- President Bush met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today at the White House. They say it will take hard work, but are hopeful they can establish a Palestinian state by January, when President Bush leaves office.

A 360 follow for you on Capitol Hill, where a White House official and two intelligence officers shared photos today of what they say was a nuclear power plant in Syria, a facility they claim was built with help from North Korea. That plant was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets last year.

And Brazil's air force has suspended the search for a priest who vanished on Sunday, after sailing into the air attached to hundreds of balloons. The Navy, though, is still on hunt. And the cleric's family has chartered a private plane to continue the search -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right.

And still ahead: families torn apart. We have got more than 400 children from that polygamist ranch in Texas that have now been sent to group homes -- the latest on what's happening in the largest child custody case in U.S. history.

Also ahead: Hillary Clinton's battle for superdelegates and the case she's making to win them.

First, though, here's tonight's "Beat 360": Obama supporters during a rally at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday.

And here's the caption for our own lovely staff winner, the lovely and talented Erica Hill.

HILL: You're too kind, Campbell.

BROWN: Yes, she was bragging about her big winning choice during the break.

"The election has really gone to the dogs."


HILL: Perhaps the staff winners have also gone to the dogs. Who knows?

BROWN: Think you can do better? Go to, send us your entry, and we will announce the winner at the end of the program.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that, first of all, the candidate, whoever he or she may be, should choose his or her own vice presidential candidate. I think that's appropriate. That's where you would see the comfort level, not only how to run, but how to govern the country.

And there's plenty of talent to go around, to draw upon for a good, strong ticket. I'm not one of those who thinks that that's a good ticket.


BROWN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharing her thoughts with CNN's Larry King tonight on the possibility of a Clinton-Obama ticket.

Pelosi, along with every other member of Congress, is indeed a superdelegate in an unprecedented primary race. Well, with neither Clinton nor Obama likely to end the primary season with enough pledged delegates to win the nomination, the role of superdelegates has become supersized. And so are the efforts to win them over.

CNN's Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Obama supporters call this new math.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very proud that, as of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anybody else.

CROWLEY: It is only true if you count the Michigan primary, which was not sanctioned by the party and where Barack Obama was not on the ballot. But it is the newest argument in Hillary Clinton's superdelegate repertoire. She hopes it will boost her case that she is the most electable.

CLINTON: We need a commander in chief who is ready on day one to keep our country safe.

CROWLEY: Absent Michigan, Obama leads in the popular vote, has more pledged delegates, and has won more states. That's his superdelegate strategy. SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The way we're going to close the deal is by winning. And, right now, we're winning. And, you know, what we will do is keep on campaigning in Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, and these other states. And, at the conclusion of all these contests, people will go back and take a look and say, who has won?

CROWLEY: It is almost certain that Obama will still have the most pledged delegates and most states won when the primary season is over. But super delegates can use any yardstick.

Her broad case is that he's unelectable, unknown and untested and will get eaten alive by Republicans she has faced down for more than a decade.

The electability case is made directly to super delegates behind closed doors but only gently alluded to in public. "He can be elected. I will be elected," she told the "Philadelphia Inquirer."

Fresh off Pennsylvania, the Clinton campaign is also stirring concern that Obama's struggle to win working-class white votes means he will lose big states Democrats need in the fall. A new twist to her argument that the states she has won have more electoral votes than his.

Today, the Obama campaign pushed back with a memo to super delegates containing a lengthy list of state polls where he's winning against McCain by wider margins that she is. It also notes that "Senator Clinton would enter the fall campaign with the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominee in half a century."

In the end, the math may be the most persuasive. The question is what math? Pledged delegates, popular vote, electoral votes? "That," said one unpledged delegate, "is why I stay awake at night praying we don't have to make this decision."


BROWN: And Candy Crowley with me live now.

And Candy, the party leadership, the Democratic Party leadership, is trying to give these super delegates a deadline of sorts, of June. You know, is the pressure really on them? And what on earth can the party leaders do to sort of force them to make a decision?

CROWLEY: Well, I don't know that they're really going to have to force them. I think most super delegates -- remember, these are elected leaders. These are party officials. They understand the problem down the road if they don't decide by July 1.

You have Nancy Pelosi. You have Harry Reid and you have Howard Dean all saying, "We have to decide this by July 1." The convention is at the end of August. They want this settled by then. They don't want a big, nasty fight.

Not just because they need the candidate to be out there raising money and picking a vice-presidential candidate. But also because they need time to bring this party back together. They are trying to figure out some solution that will not make one side or the other angry, and that's going to be difficult. So there's going to have to be some fence-mending that needs to be done before they get into the fall campaign.

So there is high anxiety, not just among the party leadership but among all of those, the elected officials and the party officials who are the unpledged super delegates at this point. I don't think they'll have a big, hard time rounding them up and saying, "Look, state your preference."

BROWN: Well, they had been -- discussion about holding some sort of mini convention -- I guess you could call it -- with the super delegates ahead of that date to try to get everybody onboard. Do you think that's a possibility? Or are we more likely to see kind of a drip, drip of people announcing their decision as we lead up to July 1?

CROWLEY: I think two things are possible. I think one is I think it will be the drip, drip. Or, look, these candidates will know by June, early June, pretty much who's with them. And they may just roll them out all in one big news conference, however they want to do it.

I don't see the mini convention. I think it's a little too official. Looks a little bit too much like the big convention. I think they just want people to say, "Here's who I'm going to be for." Because the super delegates vote like the pledged delegates do, and that's at the end of August at the convention.

BROWN: Still a lot of drama ahead. Candy Crowley, as always, thank you.

And up next, the latest on the largest custody case in U.S. history. More than 400 polygamist kids heading for foster care, separated from their families. And new details about the call that triggered the raid.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Rosita Swinton, who is suspected of pretending she was a 16-year-old sexual abuse victim named Sarah at the FLDS ranch. So it's notable why she's in this room three years earlier.


BROWN: Gary Tuchman with the bizarre story. That's coming up.


BROWN: Dividing the families again. Today, more children taken from the polygamist compound in Texas were bussed to foster care facilities across the state. And as you can imagine, it was a very emotional scene today. At the same time, other new developments were unfolding in this historic custody case. We learned authorities are now putting the number of children at 462, because 25 of the mothers are believed to be under 18.

We also have the latest details on the call that triggered the raid on the polygamist ranch, a call authorities now say or now suspect, rather, was a hoax.

And we begin with CNN's Susan Roesgen.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the children, it must seem like a strange adventure. For their parents, it's a Texas-sized kidnapping.

MARY GOLDER, ATTORNEY FOR FLDS MOTHER: I just learned this morning one of mine has been shipped out. What her sibling placement is, I don't know at this point.

ROESGEN: More than 400 children whisked away from the Yearning for Zion Ranch three weeks ago now on the way to more than a dozen different group homes. Left behind, forlorn-looking mothers and empty beds.

Texas authorities raided the ranch after someone called a crisis hotline, claiming to be a 16-year-old girl with a baby, married to a 50-year-old man. Investigators say they haven't found that teenager, and the call may have been a hoax. But they have found several teenage girls who do appear to be underage mothers, and under Texas law, those teenagers could be victims of statutory rape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is child abuse. And we have to step in to protect them.

ROESGEN: The judge in the case has agreed to let nursing mothers stay in group homes with their babies, while mothers of very young children will be provided housing in the same towns as their children.

The rest of the children, about 350 over the age of 2, will stay away from their parents. Child-abuse investigators worry that some parents might have been coaching the children to lie about their family backgrounds.

SUSAN HAYS, ATTORNEY FOR FLDS CHILD: Any time there's a question of parentage in Texas, you're going to have a DNA test. And that's what's going on.

ROESGEN: Before the children were sent away, the state collected a DNA sample from each one, and a sample from every parent who was willing to be tested.

When the DNA results come back in about a month, local prosecutors could begin putting together a criminal case, based on what they call a pattern of pervasive child abuse: young girls forced into marriage and motherhood with older men.

In the meantime, hundreds of children who've never been allowed beyond a locked gate are now hundreds of miles from home.


ROESGEN: ... to be pretty severe. Even the color of the shirt I'm wearing could frighten them. They are taught that red is the devil's color.

So Campbell, you can be sure that they're getting psychological counseling at these group homes, and they won't have to go to public schools. They'll go to schools in the group homes where they wouldn't run the risk of being ridiculed or bullied by people who don't understand them. And they don't understand us, either -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Susan Roesgen for us tonight. Susan, thanks.

So should they stay in foster care, or should they be returned to their mothers? Looking at the law and the best interest of the children, we are live with CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Carolyn Jessop, who escaped that polygamist sect, coming up next.


BROWN: Tonight, hundreds of children from that isolated FLDS compound are in foster homes and facilities throughout Texas, some moved to locations 400 miles away from the ranch. But for how long?

An appeals court will hear arguments on whether the mothers from the sect should be reunited with their kids. At the same time, the church is asking a judge to decide whether the search on the property was even constitutional.

We've got a lot to talk about tonight. Joining me now is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Along with us, Carolyn Jessop, a former member of the FLDS who wrote about her experience in the book called "Escape."

Carolyn, dozens of children, as we mentioned, have been separated from their mothers, put in foster homes. It seems that this would be very traumatic for the kids. But you actually say that separating the kids from other kids is more traumatic for them. How is that possible?

CAROLYN JESSOP, AUTHOR, "ESCAPE": It's much more traumatic for these children to be separated from their siblings or the other children that they've bonded with.

Part of it is you can't look at this from traditional families. I mean, these children, they're not raised in a traditional family. They're raised in a huge house with a lot of other children.

And the other thing with the FLDS is they're notorious in breaking down a mother's relationship with their child. I wasn't really allowed to spend a lot of one-on-one child with my children. They were raised communal. And my children were not allowed to call me "Mother." They called me "Mother Carolyn."

And so -- so the children, you know, if they're anything like my children, they're not bonded with their mothers, because it's not allowed. So they bond with each other as a form of survival.

BROWN: And Carolyn, you know, you talked about the abuses suffered in the FLDS communities. But -- but are these children really better off in foster care, cut off from their mothers, even if that relationship isn't as close?

C. JESSOP: It's going to be difficult. Any time you interfere with a child's daily life, you know, to protect them from abuse, it's a painful process. I think that most people would admit that it is.

And there are some issues, additional issues in this circumstance, that needs to be considered. And if they are considered, then the trauma could be minimized.

BROWN: And Jeff, DNA samples are needed to determine paternity in these -- these various cases. But the FLDS Church is arguing that the DNA could be used for criminal prosecution against its members. Is that a valid concern?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so. Given the accusations here, and given that the fact the judge has ordered these kids away, so there must be some evidence of that, they are going to order the DNA test to go forward. The idea that it might be used for some other nefarious purpose is not a reason to avoid doing it in the first place.

BROWN: And Carolyn, FLDS started a Web site now. It's called And it has pictures of being -- of the children being removed by the authorities, a timeline and even has a place where you can go on and make donations.

Are you surprised by how aggressively the church has responded to this incident?

C. JESSOP: No, not at all. And there's many members that have the skills to put that Web site up. And you know, the pictures, I'm sure I even know who the photographer was.

But the thing I found interesting on the slide show is that they were showing, you know, happy children in the FLDS, living daily life. But they only show children that were around 5 and under. They didn't have any photos of the teenagers and, you know, at the age where life gets a little bit traumatic. And so it was interesting how they, you know, they were very careful what they picked -- you know, what they used.

BROWN: Right. Jeff, let me ask you quickly about this woman in Colorado. These phone calls were made from this number -- phone number in Colorado that triggered the raid. But apparently now, this woman has no ties, seemingly, to the FLDS compound.

They are arguing, the sect is arguing that -- that authorities knew that before hand. And they say, "You know what? It doesn't even matter if we knew it beforehand, because when we got there, we found out these children were being abused."

TOOBIN: That is not going to affect the custody issue. Because even if there was a fraudulent basis to go in, once they got in, if they found a dangerous, an abuse, a neglect situation, they're going to take the kids out, no matter what, even if there was the wrong basis.

Because the legal system is set up that the safety of the children is paramount to everything. If there is ultimately criminal prosecution, the fact that the warrant was based on bad information, if it was, might hurt the prosecution. But in terms of the custody issue, I don't think it will have any impact at all.

BROWN: We're going to hear this come up in court.

TOOBIN: It's going to come up in court. And you know, the FLDS does not have a frivolous argument here. It's a big deal to take even one child away from a mother. To take 400 -- each one of these kids is entitled to an individual finding that they're better off in foster care, and you know, it's going to be an immensely difficult task.

BROWN: All right. Jeffrey Toobin and Carolyn Jessop for us, also. Thanks to you both. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, more on that woman who may have started it all. We've got an up-close look at her rap sheet.

Also ahead, a judge throws the book at Wesley Snipes. His sentence, coming up.


BROWN: She said her name was Sarah, and she said she was raped by her much older husband. That's how the custody battle involving hundreds of polygamist children began in Texas.

But what if Sarah never existed? And what if those first allegations were from someone with a troubled past?

CNN's Gary Tuchman gives us a close-up look at the investigation now.


TUCHMAN: April, 2008. The mug shot of a 33-year-old woman who may have made phony phone calls that set off the raid of a polygamist ranch in Eldorado, Texas.

June, 2005, the same woman in police custody in Colorado.

This is Rosita Swinton, who is suspected of pretending she was a 16-year-old sexual abuse victim named Sarah at the FLDS ranch. So it's notable why she's in this room three years earlier.

CPL. RANDALL SPEAECT, CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO, POLICE: You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand that?


SPEAECT: Well, that's what I need.

SWINTON: But that's what you're telling me I did.

TUCHMAN: Swinton had been charged with making strikingly similar allegations to Castle Rock, Colorado, police.

SWINTON: I ain't lying.

ANGELA COPELAND, SPOKESWOMAN, CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO, POLICE: She told the people on the other end of the line that she was a 16-year- old named Jessica, that she had just given birth to a son that she thought was the result of an inappropriate sexual relationship with her father.

SPEAECT: Is there a baby that we need to be concerned about?


TUCHMAN: She was being questioned by Detective Randall Speaect.

SPEAECT: It was an odd interview.

TUCHMAN: A few months later, she allegedly started calling this 911 center in Colorado Springs, telling this woman...

KELLY SEAMAN, 911 SUPERVISOR: She was a 16-year-old who was abducted by an uncle.

TUCHMAN: Police say those calls went on for more than two years.

And then days before the Texas raid, former FLDS member Flora Jessop, who helps children leave the sect, started getting mysterious phone calls from a girl saying she was 16.

FLORA JESSOP, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: She told me her name was Sarah. She told me that she was beaten all the time, she was on medication, she was locked away in a basement.

TUCHMAN: Then the raid. Police say their probable cause, phone calls from a girl named Sarah. Even afterward, Flora still getting calls. One when we were with her, the caller now saying she was Sarah's twin sister and also being abused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am I going to get in trouble?

F. JESSOP: No, you're not going to get in trouble.

SWINTON: I called you guys because I wanted you to help me.

TUCHMAN: As a result of the phone calls in Castle Rock, Colorado, Swinton was mentally evaluated and placed on probation as part of a plea deal.

Meanwhile, police in Colorado Springs arrested her last week on a charge of false reporting for the calls to the 911 center there.

And now, Texas officials say her phone number matches a phone number traced in connection with the FLDS case. But as of now, no arrest has been made.

We looked for Rosita Swinton, who is free on bond and lived two hours south of Denver. But it appears she's staying elsewhere.

(on camera) Why she does what she does is a mystery. But if Rosita Swinton was the caller to Texas officials, there would be no more mystery about Sarah's whereabouts.

(voice-over) This would be Sarah.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Colorado Springs, Colorado.


BROWN: Erica Hill joining us once again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin."

HILL: Hey, Campbell.

Wesley Snipes spending three years in prison for failing to file tax returns. The actor received the maximum sentence today. His lawyers had argued for probation or even house arrest. The IRS is also seeking repayment of nearly ten years of back taxes and interest from Snipes.

In Washington, the chief executives of Delta and Northwest Airlines defending their proposed $3 billion merger by telling House lawmakers rising oil prices and foreign competition are fueling the deal.

And the two pilots from Hawaii's Go Airlines who overshot a runway by 15 miles earlier this year -- tough to forget that story -- they've been fired.

Air traffic controllers were unable to contact the cockpit for 25 minutes. It's still not clear, though, if the pilots actually did fall asleep at the controls when the aircraft drifted off course. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The pilots, by the way, Campbell, weren't named.


Moving on to tonight's "Beat 360" winners. Every day, as you all know, we post a picture on our blog, and you try to come up with a better caption than the people we pay to put words and pictures together.

Tonight's picture was taken during a rally at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday. There's Barack Obama supporters, and it's hard to miss the big guy in front with four paws. Tonight's staff winner is, well, you, Erica.

HILL: Mine, all mine. Victory is mine! Woo!

That's nice.

That's a really nice little touch.

BROWN: You know, it's like that all the time here.

Anyway, your caption, your caption, "This election really has gone to the dogs." It was fabulous.

HILL: Thank you.

BROWN: And tonight's viewer winner is Teresa. Her entry: "The most sought-after super delegate waits patiently to see who throws him the biggest bone."

That's pretty good.

HILL: She trumped me. I've got to be honest.

BROWN: I thought yours was pretty good, too.

All right, you can check out all our captions that we received on our Web site at

Just ahead, how Pierre the penguin got his groove back with a little help from the world's first -- very first -- penguin wet suit. We're going to explain that in a moment, and it's our "Shot of the Day."

Plus, on the trail with global warming. Anderson climbs down a glacier, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta treks through Africa in search of a disappearing lake. An encore presentation of our award-winning documentary, "Planet in Peril." That's later on 360.


HILL: Time now for tonight's "Shot," which by the way, is our hands-down favorite of the week.

Meet Pierre. He's a 25-year-old African penguin, who, like many men later in life, he was starting to go bald. Pierre had a lot more than vanity at stake, though, here. Penguins really do rely on their waterproof feathers to stay warm. So without them, Pierre was left shivering on the sidelines while his penguin buddies swam in their tank at the California Academy of Sciences.

That is, until biologists at said academy ordered him a custom- made wet suit. Six weeks after getting his wet suit -- just six weeks -- Pierre's gained a little weight. Some of his feathers have even grown back. Most importantly, Campbell, his caretakers say Pierre has got his mojo back. Taking full advantage. In fact, he is even being weaned off the suit. Starting to take some dips in the buff. Apparently, the ladies very happy to have their old Pierre back.

BROWN: That's so sweet.

HILL: That is adorable.

BROWN: I love that.

What a shot. Well done.

HILL: Love Pierre.

BROWN: All right, if you see some amazing shots, tell us about it at

And just ahead, Anderson goes inside a glacier. Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes in search of a disappearing lake. "Planet in Peril" is next.