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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Obama Speaks Out; Hillary Clinton Injecting Race Into Campaign?

Aired May 8, 2008 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, "Raw Politics": Hillary Clinton taking heat. Critics say she's injecting race into the race again. Hear what she's saying about white voters or, as she puts it, hardworking Americans, white Americans. You can make up your own mind.
Also, Barack Obama up close in his own words tonight, his first interview since winning North Carolina. Does she believe the race against Clinton is over? And hear what he said that has the McCain camp crying foul -- an in-depth interview with Senator Barack Obama tonight.

Later, death and delay -- the exploding humanitarian outrage in Burma, as the military dictators there keep cyclone relief to a trickle, while thousands of bodies rot and survivors go hungry.

Plus, "Crime and Punishment": Charles Manson almost 40 years after he and his twisted followers painted Southern California red with the blood of seven people, new evidence that the Manson family body count may be a whole lot higher. We will take you to the ranch where more bodies may be buried.

First, though, late moves by Barack Obama to sew up the Democratic nomination and Hillary Clinton's last-ditch efforts to stop him. She's soldiering on, campaigning like there's no tomorrow.

He is starting, but only just starting to campaign like the nominee. Tonight, you can decide for yourself what kind of case he's making against John McCain and hear how Senator McCain answers it. We will be playing extended clips from Senator Obama's in-depth interview today with CNN.

But, first, we take you on the campaign trail. Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colleagues, tourists, pages looking for a picture and press scrums.

QUESTION: How much longer will the race go on, Senator?

CROWLEY: Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill this morning with the aura, though not the votes, of a presidential nominee.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why I'm running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you win, too. You win it.

CROWLEY: So, is she putting together an exit strategy? A Clinton insider replies, N-O, exclamation point.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a little bit like deja vu all over again. Some in Washington wanted us to end our campaign, and then I won New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: The itinerary speaks to her current state of mind. Having made he case in West Virginia, which has its primary next Tuesday, Hillary Clinton took off for South Dakota, very much in the race.

H. CLINTON: So, on June the 3rd, Montana and South Dakota will have the last word.

CROWLEY: She needs a 9.0 on the Richter scale to shake this up in her favor. And guess who is in West Virginia today, waiting for an earthquake?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She can still win this thing if you vote for her big enough.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

B. CLINTON: They're going to have to resolve Michigan and Florida, and when they do, she can win the popular vote.

CROWLEY: It's not a widely held theory. Some Clinton supporters are jumping ship, and Obama is still gathering up superdelegates.

But one Clinton adviser says she's not campaigning in some kind of parallel universe. She doesn't think this is over. Clinton believes she's the best candidate to beat John McCain, so the superdelegate courtship continues.

H. CLINTON: I'm winning Catholic voters and Hispanic voters and blue-collar workers and seniors, the kind of people that Senator McCain will be fighting for in the general election.

CROWLEY: Another source close to Clintons adds, there is more to this than math. She has a loyalty to the history she and her supporters are writing.

H. CLINTON: Too many people have fought too hard to see a woman continue in this race, this history-making race. And I want everybody to understand that.

CROWLEY: And it is her supporters, including millions of women, that give caution to many Democrats and the Obama campaign. They need those votes in the fall. They cannot be seen trying to muscle her out.

OBAMA: So, I don't want to get ahead of myself here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate.

CROWLEY: Privately, some party leaders are anxious to have this over. But one top-level party honcho says, we're taking three more weeks. Let it ride.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, Bill Clinton is waiting for an earthquake, or they both are? What kind of an earthquake? Are they talking about Florida and Michigan or are they hoping some sort of implosion in the Obama campaign?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think, actually, the thing that would help them most is if there were some sort of implosion, some sort of Jeremiah Wright-like event that would give superdelegates some pause.

Absent that, it is really very difficult. Now, you heard Bill Clinton say, if they include Michigan and Florida, then she will have the popular vote. They think that that's a superdelegate argument, that, if at the end of the day, she comes out with the most popular vote, when you add all the primaries and caucuses -- some of the caucuses together, that she will have more popular vote, and that will add to her argument that she's the most electable.

Now, first of all, it's questionable whether she will come up, even if you add in Michigan and Florida, with the most popular vote. And, second of all, it's sort of questionable whether he, meaning Barack Obama, comes on June 4, and has the most pledged delegates, it's going to be very, very difficult to deny him this nomination. And, if they do at this point, it really would cause an implosion in the party.

COOPER: We are going to have more with Candy coming around.

We want to move on, though, to the interview with Barack Obama.

"And The Winner Is..." -- that's what "TIME" magazine is putting on their cover tomorrow, along with a picture of Barack Obama.

Tonight, up close, his first interview since winning North Carolina, an interview which has, in some ways, outraged the McCain campaign. You will hear why shortly. He sat down today with Wolf Blitzer. And he was trying to walk a fine line, as you will see, as the likely nominee, focusing on John McCain, without appearing to underestimate or dis Hillary Clinton.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, "THE SITUATION ROOM")

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Here is the cover, "And the Winner Is..." That's a picture of you. What do you think?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think -- I don't want to be jinxed. We've still got some work to do.

BLITZER: It's almost like you got the cover of "Sports Illustrated." Is that what you're -- you're nervous about that?

OBAMA: Exactly. Exactly right.

We've got six more contests left. And then we've got a lot of work to do to bring the party together, but, obviously, we felt very good about our win in North Carolina on Tuesday. I think we ran a terrific campaign in Indiana. And it was a virtual tie. And, if you look at where the race is at this point, I think we have seen voters across the country say they are ready for change. They are feeling real anxiety about the economy.

And they have come to recognize that, unless we change how Washington is done. It's going to be very hard to deliver on a smarter energy policy. It's going to be hard to -- to provide health care for people who need it or make college more affordable.

And I think our campaign has benefited from it. And, so, I'm looking forward to bringing this party together and going after John McCain in the fall, and -- and, hopefully, getting this country on the right track.

BLITZER: It's been intense in the primaries. But you realize it's going to be much more intense in the next chapter, in the next phase, given the differences between you and John McCain. Are you ready for this next phase?

OBAMA: I'm actually looking forward to it, if we're successful. I don't want to get ahead of myself here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate. She is very heavily favored to win West Virginia. She will win that by a big margin.

She's favored in Kentucky. We'll probably split the remaining contests. And, so, she's -- she's going to be actively campaigning.

BLITZER: We asked our viewers to send us in some questions, and we got thousands of responses, as you can only imagine. I have got a couple. I just want you to watch one of those and get your reaction. A lot of people asked this basic question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that you do not have enough support among blue collar workers as Senator Clinton did. Would you consider just on that basis alone considering her on a joint ticket as vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The dream ticket -- the answer to that question ahead, when the interview with Barack Obama continues.

As always, Erica and I are blogging throughout the hour. To join the conversation, go to CNN.com/360.

We will also tell you about the new war of words between Obama and McCain sparked by this interview.

And later tonight, the crisis in Burma and the people trying to help, in spite of the Burmese dictators.

Also, the search for new evidence against Charles Manson -- digging for bodies that could begin shortly on a ranch where Manson and his sick followers lived nearly 40 years ago.

Ted Rowlands investigates. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gold prospector Emmett Harter (ph) knew Manson and his top lieutenant, Charles "Tex" Watson. He says rumors about more Manson victims have swirled for years, stories like the one that Harter (ph) says a Manson follower told him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one girl didn't get along with Manson or Watson at all. And they took her for a walk. And they came back in a short distance, and she -- we never saw her again. I would hope that maybe they would find her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Barack Obama, as you saw earlier, in Washington today, lobbying undecided superdelegates, reportedly picking up two, North Carolina's Brad Miller, and Rick Larsen of Washington State.

He's got one foot in the primary campaign and one in the general and a question he has got to answer that touches on both, his choice of a running mate.

So, up close, here's part two of his interview today with Wolf Blitzer, starting with that question asked by a viewer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, "THE SITUATION ROOM")

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that you do not have enough support among blue collar workers as Senator Clinton did. Would you consider just on that basis alone considering her on a joint ticket as vice president?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Well, as I said before, "TIME" magazine notwithstanding, we haven't wrapped this thing up yet. At the point where I'm the nominee I will start going through the process of figuring out what my running mate, who my running mate might be. Senator Clinton has shown herself to be an extraordinary candidate. She is tireless, she is smart. She is capable. And so obviously she'd on anybody's short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate. But it would be presumptuous of me at this point when she is still actively running, when she is highly favored to win two of the next three contests, for me to somehow suggest that she should be running mate. At this point I think we have to resolve this process and then we can figure it out.

BLITZER: There are major differences between you and John McCain...

OBAMA: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... on a whole host of domestic issues...

OBAMA: Exactly.

BLITZER: .. and foreign policy issues. And I want to go through those right now.

OBAMA: Sure.

BLITZER: Already, some of his surrogates, some of his supporters, are suggesting you're not ready to be commander in chief, president of the United States.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: He has not accomplished anything during his life, in terms of legislation, or leading an enterprise, or making a business work or a city work or a state work. He really has very little experience. And the presidency of the United States is not an internship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow. That's a strong statement.

OBAMA: Yeah.

Well, the contest didn't work out so well for Mitt Romney. I think he was making those same arguments against John McCain, suggesting that John McCain, as a senator, hadn't done what Mitt Romney had done. And, yet, here we are, and there Mitt Romney is.

Look, when it comes to national security, I think that what people are looking for is good judgment. They're looking for somebody who is going to be able to assess the very real risks that are out there and deploy our forces, not just military, but diplomatic, political, economic, cultural, in a way that makes the American people safe.

And whether it's my judgment on Iraq and recognizing that that was going to be a strategic blunder, to my insistence that we need to talk not just to countries we like, but countries we don't, to my assessment in terms of how we had over-invested in the Musharraf government in Pakistan, and that was going to be setting us up for failure later on, I think I have consistently displayed the kind of judgment that the American people are looking for in the next president.

BLITZER: I want -- I want to get to all of those national security, foreign policy issues in a moment. But let's talk about some domestic issues.

You know they're going to paint you, the McCain camp, Republicans, as a classic tax-and-spend liberal Democrat, that you're going to raise the taxes for the American people and just spend money like there is no tomorrow when it comes to federal government programs.

Are you ready to handle that kind of assault?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

But -- because think about what I am going to be running against: the failed policies of the Bush administration, which John McCain wants to continue. I don't think there is anybody in this country who thinks that, right now, we have got a government that's managed our domestic policies well.

And, so, we can talk about the slogans of tax and spend or fiscal conservatism, but the fact of the matter is, this -- we have had an administration that's been profligate, that has raised our national debt to a record level. We have seen a lack of shared prosperity. So, you've got CEOs making more in a day than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEO that's getting the tax break, instead of the workers.

BLITZER: He's going to say you're going to raise their taxes. What are you going to say?

OBAMA: I will raise CEO taxes. There is no doubt about it. If you are...

BLITZER: What about the average American...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more taxes. They won't be prohibitively high. They're -- you're going to be paying roughly what you paid in the '90s, when CEOs were doing just fine.

BLITZER: So, you want to just eliminate the Bush tax cuts?

OBAMA: I want to eliminate the Bush tax cuts.

And what I have said is, I will institute a middle-class tax cut. So, if you're making $75,000, if you're making $50,000 a year, you will see an extra $1,000 a year offsetting on your payroll tax.

BLITZER: Define middle class.

OBAMA: Well, look, I think that the definitions are always a little bit rough, but let's -- let's just take it this way.

If you're making $100,000 a year or less, then you're pretty solidly middle class, and you deserve relief right now, as opposed to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, if you're making more than $100,000, and certainly if you're making more than $200,000 to $250,000, then you're doing pretty well.

And it's the people who are making over $200,000, $250,000, who have benefited the most and have actually seen -- have actually seen more and more of economic growth in this country go in your direction.

And all -- all we're looking for here is a sense of balance, because it's my belief that this country has always grown when it grows from the bottom up.

BLITZER: Let's go through a couple foreign policy issues. McCain says, if you had your way, the U.S. would surrender in Iraq; he wants victory.

OBAMA: If I had my way, we would not have gone into Iraq in the first place.

BLITZER: But what about now?

OBAMA: I think it was a huge strategic blunder.

And I think the American people are smart enough to understand that a phased withdrawal, where we're as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, that puts pressure on the Iraqis to stand up and take seriously their obligations to arrive at a political accommodation at the same time as we are doubling down on diplomacy in the surrounding region, and not just Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan, but also in Syria and Iraq, then we are also investing in humanitarian aid for the people who have been displaced in Iraq, that that's not surrendering.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next: how Senator Obama answers John McCain's charge that he's the candidate preferred by Hamas, and how the McCain camp says Barack Obama is unfairly attacking the senator's age.

Later, Burma and the fight -- yes, fight -- just to help.

Also tonight, Charles Manson, has he been keeping a deadly secret for decades about more killings and more victims? We will tell you about the search that could be getting under way soon. We will take you the ranch where it may happen -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're up close with Senator Barack Obama tonight. He gave his first interview since winning big in North Carolina to CNN's Wolf Blitzer earlier today.

The Democratic front-runner has been taking some heat from Senator John McCain over Israel and Hamas. That's where we pick up the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE, "THE SITUATION ROOM")

BLITZER: Today, the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. He says you're not necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel.

He says this, for example: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly."

OBAMA: Yes, this -- this is offensive.

And I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics. And then to engage in that kind of smear, I think, is unfortunate, particularly since my policy towards Hamas has been no different than his.

I have said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and unless they're willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And, so, for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.

BLITZER: I want to move on, but, on this 60th anniversary of Israel, what -- what does Israel mean to you?

OBAMA: Israel is not only our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but there is a special connection between America and Israel, one that, when I traveled to Israel, was evident.

Not only do we share so much in terms of common culture. Not only is it the site of so much of our -- of my religious faith and the site of so much of our understanding of the world around us, but what I love about Israel is, is that it is a robust democracy, and that they are committed to principles like rule of law and civil rights and civil liberties.

And so it is critical that we send a message around the world we will stand with Israel, we want them around not just for 60 years, but for 600 years. And when I am president of the United States they will have an unwavering ally in me.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but a quick question on this Mother's Day weekend. Your mother raised you. She was on food stamps at one point. A single mother.

If she were alive today and she saw where you have reached, the point that you have reached right now, what would she say to you?

OBAMA: She'd say, don't let it get to your head, just keep on working hard. But I think she'd be pretty proud. Everything that I am I owe to her. She was the kindest, most generous person I ever met. And her values and her integrity still guide me.

She is somebody who when I am confronted with difficult choices, I have to ask myself, you know, what would she -- what would she expect of me? And I think that's usually a good guidepost.

Now, I have got to say that the mother that counts most in my life at the moment is Michelle, who through a very difficult process continues to raise two of the best daughters that anybody would ever want. And she's out on the campaign trail at the same time and keeping me straight. So happy Mother's Day to her as well.

BLITZER: And happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, just ahead, the firefight that interview sparked between the Obama and McCain campaigns. It's still going on. Our political panel look at the "Raw Politics."

Plus, Hillary Clinton's comments about white Americans voting for her and where the race goes next.

Also ahead tonight: new questions about one of the most notorious crimes in American history, the Manson murders. Could there actually be victims whose bodies have never been found? We will take you to the ranch where digging may unearth new evidence against Charles Manson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, Barack Obama is taking fire from the McCain campaign for something he said today in the interview with Wolf Blitzer that we showed you.

When asked about comments McCain has made about Obama, Israel, and Hamas, Obama said it was an example of McCain -- quote -- "losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination."

The McCain camp fired off an angry response.

Joining me for all the "Raw Politics," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, radio talk show host Joe Madison, and CNN's Candy Crowley.

Candy, the -- the McCain campaign immediately responded to the Obama interview, saying -- and I quote -- "He used the words losing his bearings intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning. First, you demand civility from your opponent. Then you attack him, distort his record, and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy."

It's interesting, Candy. Now you have both campaigns really accusing the other of violating their own promises to run a different kind of non-negative campaign.

CROWLEY: Yes, welcome to the high-minded campaign of '08.

Listen, I think this is circling. I think there was something in the McCain camp that wanted to push him back a little, even as he sort of strides toward this nomination. I certainly didn't take "losing his bearings" to be a reflection on his age, but, clearly, that's how they see it.

I mean, I think there's some sensitivity there. But, beyond that, all I could imagine was sort of two fighters cycling -- circling each other before they actually go at it.

COOPER: So, do we know, Candy, what the tenor of the general election, if it is in fact Obama and McCain, what the tenor will be, or is that what this is; it's just kind of feeling each fighter out?

CROWLEY: I think they're feeling each other out. But I think we can pretty much predict it.

I think it will be not unlike what we have seen in the Democratic primary, which has been competitive longer certainly than the Republican campaign. And that is that it will -- they will walk it right up to the line, in terms of toughness and aggressiveness. People will start complaining, and they will walk it back. It is the ebb and flow of campaigns, always has been, I suspect always will be.

COOPER: Joe, during an interview with "USA Today," Hillary Clinton was asked how she can win the nomination.

She said -- and I quote -- "There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working -- hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again and how the whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

It's probably not the kind of rhetoric Obama supporters were hoping to hear -- it's certainly not, we have heard from a lot them -- from Clinton as the race winds down.

Do you think she's going to continue to try to sort of bring Barack Obama down, in terms of as a candidate, or do you think the tactics change with the end in sight?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, I think the first scenario is it. And it will be a big mistake.

I mean, it's ridiculous, when you think about it. Wait a minute. This is a candidate who won the Iowa caucus, Montana, Colorado. I mean, he's probably going to carry the far West. I mean, everyone knows he does not have a problem getting white voters.

I mean, there was this controversy about working-class people in Pennsylvania, but he went on, and will go on, to do OK. Obama does not have a problem getting most folks to vote for him.

And I'm -- I'm sorry to see that the Democratic Party, at least this political candidate, isn't pitching a broader tent, because what we're going to need -- or what they're going to need -- because I'm an independent, nonaffiliated voter -- they're going to need to get everybody involved.

And this is -- but she's going to do this. I mean, she's going to continue to do this. And it's only going to hurt her.

COOPER: Tony, there are clear foreign policy differences between John McCain and Senator Obama. Today, McCain said that Obama has no national security experience and lacks the right judgment.

As you look to the general election, where do you see the major fault lines? I mean, what kind of a campaign do you see coming up, if in fact Obama is in the general?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, I think we can gain a little bit from the reaction today from the McCain -- McCain campaign.

First, I think they're a little touchy coming off of the age issue. I don't know where that came from. But I do think that, when it comes to national security, that John McCain has kind of drawn the lines on that, and he sees himself with the experience. And clearly, he has a lot of experience in that area.

And so if he's not willing to debate that issue, though, with Barack, what issues will he debate? I think he laid out some good ground this week and last week when he took on the court issue. That clearly is, I think, one of the most important issues in this election and he clearly drew the lines on that.

I think he's -- he's going to be a little hesitant to talk about the social issues. I think that's another area where he has a clear distinction between Barack Obama.

But I do think it's a mistake to count Hillary Clinton out just yet. For those who would think that she may walk away from this don't remember the Clintons during the impeachment hearings. I mean, they are not going to quit, even when they may need to quit. They're going to stick around and fight. She's the kind that brings a club to a fist fight.

MADISON: Yes, I totally agree. I guarantee you, they're going to take this all the way to August. I know people don't want to hear me say this, but you watch. They're going to take this right to the convention. And that's what's going to happen.

COOPER: Candy, Clinton did send a letter to Obama today, accusing him of not supporting revote efforts in both Florida and Michigan. She wrote in part, quote, "Your commitment to the voters of these states must be clearly stated, and your support for a fair and quick resolution must be clearly demonstrated." Has the ship sailed on Michigan and Florida, or is this thing still in play? In your piece, Candy, earlier you had President Clinton clearly pinning hopes on that.

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely, but you notice he pinned hopes on the popular vote as it exists now in Florida and Michigan. There's not going to be a revote. There's not enough time. They are going to seat these delegates. Everyone agrees they have to seat the delegates from Michigan and from Florida.

But they cannot seat these delegates in a way that would give Hillary Clinton or, for that matter, Barack Obama, but in this case, they won't seat them in a way that would give Hillary Clinton the nomination. It's just not going to be definitive. The party won't do that. The party leadership won't allow that.

They may do it in some proportion, and that's what they're working toward now, but it will not be a proportion that will give Clinton the nomination. It's just not going to happen.

COOPER: I wish we had more time. I'm sorry we're out of time. Candy Crowley, Jim Madison, Tony Perkins, it's always good to have you on. Thank you.

Before we leave the world of politics, though, other news. Here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo on a lighter note. A photo of Vice President Dick Cheney touring the Philadelphia Financial Center, which is helping distribute the economic stimulus checks going to more than 130 million Americans.

Here's the caption from Dan on our staff: "People are always bothering me to recycle so we used the missing e-mail Congress has been asking about to print the stimulus checks. Talk about personal virtue."

Very political there. Think you can do better? Go to CNN.com/360. Send us your entry. We'll announce the winner at the end of the program.

So also ahead, the latest on Burma, ready, willing and unable to help with the death toll feared to be more than 100,000. Burma's a natural disaster that's become a manmade catastrophe or a dictator- made catastrophe. Why aren't several countries including America being allowed to help?

Also, possibly good news out of Iraq. An alleged terror mastermind with ties to al Qaeda may be in custody tonight. The latest on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: No food, no water, barely any help. Right now that is the reality facing perhaps hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar, the country formally known as Burma. Six days after the cyclone drowned as many as 100,000 people, according to a U.S. diplomat, that is. The dictators who control the nation are only letting in the smallest amounts of aid, the resistance from the military juntas only adding to the catastrophe. A manmade disaster the dictators of Burma don't want you to see.

We've been trying to get in all week, but our visa requests have so far been flat-out rejected, and our few reporters on the ground there face constant harassment from the Burmese military.

Our reporting tonight is sadly limited because of that, but we must warn you, it is also terribly, terribly disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): For Burma's dead, there is no dignity. Bloated, abandoned, victims of the cyclone float in a river southwest of the country's largest city. These images hint at the horror inside Burma, but the true toll is still not known. And because of Burmese government policy, there is very little the outside world can do to help.

ERIC JOHN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND: You know that you have the tools just right here at your fingertips, you know, and they're at the fingertips of the Burmese to use. And they're not picking the tools up to use them.

COOPER: Today, though, nearly one week after the storm, aid finally began to arrive, in trickles from above, some of it tossed from the side of this military helicopter.

The first wave of relief includes medicine, generators and a few tons of high energy biscuits from the U.N. World Food Program. In a country of 47 million people, the biscuits can feed only a few thousand for one day. It is barely anything. But it is a start.

BETTINA LUESCHER, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM, NORTH AMERICA: Aid has arrived but of course it's very, very little. We have to do much, much more. There is still a lot of red tape, and we need to really gear up this operation. The good news is we have people on the ground.

COOPER: People and supplies. Myanmar's dictators at last accepted some aid shipments from Italy, China, India, and three other nations but not from the U.S.

JOHN: A visa that I get today is worth a lot more lives than it is tomorrow, which is worth more than it is the day after that.

COOPER: Some believe 100,000 lives may have already been lost. Disease and starvation may threaten even more.

What is so unbelievable, so unconscionable is that the global effort to save lives is frozen at foreign airports, waiting for Burma's dictators to simply open the country's borders.

JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The primary responsibility is with the government of Myanmar. But we have to do something. If we don't do anything, people will continue to die. Epidemics will spread out, and it will be a catastrophe.

COOPER: Despite the international outcry, the government is refusing to grant visas to most relief workers and practically all western journalists.

TONY BANBURY, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: This is a real worry for us. The longer we're held back, the more desperate the situation of people become. So when the food does start getting to the remote areas, the hardest hit areas, there's a real risk that will be food riots, social disturbances, people attacking the convoys.

So there is a need for international professional relief workers right now in the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Again, more than 100,000 people possibly dead in Burma. Hard to fathom what that really amounts to. But here's one way to look at it. Imagine the people living in any of these U.S. cities disappearing overnight. Cities like Allentown, Pennsylvania; Athens, Georgia; or Bellevue, Washington. We put the map on our blog. Check it out. Weigh in by clicking at the link at CNN.com/360.

Nearly 40 years later, many questions still remain. Did Charles Manson and his cult of followers bury even more bodies in the desert sands of Death Valley, California? There's some new evidence that has been unearthed, and the digging could start soon. We'll take you there.

Plus, new developments in the killing of Lawrence King, the eighth grader killed by another student, shot to death after publicly saying he was gay.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The face, the stare, that swastika seared into his forehead. Charles Manson has been in prison for nearly 40 years now. His crimes, infamous, one of the most notorious in American history.

The question tonight is were there more Manson murders? That is what investigators want to know. A new search may soon be underway inside the ranch where Manson and his followers lived. Some believe the property was also a grave site, a burying place for others who may have been killed by the Manson family.

It's located in California's Death Valley, a very hard place to reach. But CNN's Ted Rowlands is there right now at the ranch and in the "Crime & Punishment" segment, takes us on an extraordinary tour -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, for 40 years, people have been talking about the possibility that there were more victims of Charles Manson and his family, if you will. And that they were buried behind the Barker Ranch here. Well, tomorrow, we will find out if they decide to, once and for all, go and dig up these possible grave sites.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The Manson murder spree ended in this remote Death Valley, California, cabin called Barker Ranch. It was here that Charles Manson and members of his cult family were hiding out after the so-called Helter-Skelter Murders that claimed at least seven lives and terrified the country in 1969.

SGT. PAUL DOSTIE, INVESTIGATOR: Charlie was hiding in the cabinet right here.

ROWLANDS: Now, almost 40 years later, local detective Paul Dostie says he and his dog Buster may have found more Manson victims buried right behind the Barker Ranch.

Dostie says that Buster, who is trained to find human remains, found five possible graves. A group of scientists also found evidence of possible remains at three of the same spots.

DOSTIE: It seems very viable. I would say we have tremendous amount of probable cause to look.

ROWLANDS: Gold prospector Enny Harter (ph) knew Manson and his top lieutenant, Charles "Tex" Watson. He says rumors about more Manson victims have swirled for years. Stories like the one that Harter (ph) says a Manson follower told him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one girl didn't get along with -- with Manson or Watson at all, and they took her for a walk. And they came back in a short distance and she -- we never saw her again.

I would hope that maybe they would find her.

ROWLANDS: We sent letters to Manson and Tex Watson, asking if there are victims buried behind Barker Ranch. Manson never replied but Watson did.

In a letter, he told us, quote, "I was the first family member to go to the desert after the murders and also the first to leave. I say this only to let you know that no one was killed while I was in the desert, but I don't know what took place after I left. I don't think there were any more killed. I hope not. I have absolutely nothing to hide."

(on camera) One thing to consider is that, even if there are bodies found behind the ranch, there's a very good possibility that they'll never be identified, and there's almost no chance that Manson or any of the other family members could ever be prosecuted for murder.

(voice-over) Police say there is no one who ever associated with Manson who was reported missing after his arrest. So who could be buried out here is as much a mystery as if somebody is buried out here.

Dostie's confident that forensics could identify any remains found.

(on camera) They'll never prosecute Charlie Manson for murder because you found a body back here, though.

DOSTIE: Really, that's not what we're interested in. I think many of these Manson family members are on one-year parole reviews. There's a lot of movement out there to try to get them out.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The decision to dug is up to the local sheriff's department. They say they want more tests done before they spend the time and the money.

Of course, without digging, no one will ever know if Buster the dog is barking about nothing or if he's unlocked a Manson family secret.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ted joins us now, again, out at the ranch. Where exactly are these alleged bodies now?

ROWLANDS: Well, we can't show you exactly, Anderson. We promised the authorities we wouldn't. But there are five body sites, and three of them are directly behind the ranch, walking distance. Not too far away. One is over towards that mountain, and then the other one is back behind the ranch in this direction here.

The reason we can't tell you is because people may come up here. This place, as you mentioned, is out in the middle of nowhere, so the ranch itself is virtually untouched from the way it was 40 years ago. We're the -- in fact, we're the first people to really broadcast live from here ever.

Coming up, we'll take you inside the Barker Ranch and show you where Charlie Manson and his crew were put behind bars for good. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE MANSON, CONVICTED MURDERER: And I don't get a chance to get back up on top of this dream, you're going to lose all your money. Your farms ain't going to -- ain't going to produce. You're going to win helter-skelter. You're going to win your reality. We're going to get everything that you want right from the pages of that court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Blah, blah, blah. Incoherent nonsense but Charles Manson knew exactly what he was doing almost 40 years ago when he ordered his minions to kill seven people, among them the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant.

As we told you before the break, officials want to know if the Manson family took other lives and if those victims may be buried at what was once their hideout in Death Valley. One detective says there may be five possible graves.

In our "Crime and Punishment" segment tonight, CNN's Ted Rowlands is live at the ranch. He joins us once again.

ROWLANDS: Anderson, after the Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson and about 30 of his disciples, if you will, came out here to Death Valley. They found this place because one of his disciples was an 18-year-old runaway whose family had a cabin up here. Otherwise, they never would have found it.

Forty years later, it's almost identical as it was back then. People come through here every now and then. This is federal property, so it's open to the public. But it's so remote and really hasn't changed much.

This was the main cabin and the main room where Manson and his family hung out for months until they were eventually busted. When they were busted, Charlie Manson was in this bathroom here. And according to law enforcement, he was one of the last people to be found. It was a two-day bust.

And the officer that busted him was using the bathroom, turned around and saw Manson in a tiny cupboard. He was only five feet tall. He saw his hair sticking out the back of the cupboard. They say otherwise Manson may have gotten away. But as we know, he didn't.

We'll find out tomorrow if they plan to dig up the back of this ranch.

COOPER: All right. Ted, thanks very much. Ted Rowlands reporting. Thanks.

Now a 360 follow in the murder of Lawrence King. Today in Ventura, California, was the arraignment of the alleged shooter, 14- year-old Brandon McInerney. The arraignment was postponed today and rescheduled for June.

Lawrence King, you'll remember, was 15 years old when he was shot to death in school in February. Earlier he had announced that he was gay.

There's much that's not known about this case, in particular how much the school knew about alleged tension between King and McInerney and what, if anything, they did about it.

CNN and "The L.A. Times" had petitioned the court to actually release Lawrence King's school and child welfare records, but yesterday a judge denied our petition.

King was not living with his family. He was in a group foster home when he was killed. The D.A. is prosecuting McInerney as an adult but is under growing pressure to move the case to juvenile court.

We, of course, will continue to follow developments in the case.

Now let's turn to Erica Hill for a "360 Bulletin" of the day's other top stories -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, Arabic television is reporting the arrest of a leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al- Masri. Now, he is said to have been detained in a joint Iraqi-U.S. operation in the northern city of Mosul. U.S. forces have not confirmed the report.

Al-Masri, who was also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir has a U.S. bounty of $5 million on his head.

Chaos in Beirut today, and CNN's Cal Perry was on the air when he got caught in the middle of a fire fight. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(GUNFIRE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: The violence erupted after the Sunni-led Lebanese government cracked down on Hezbollah's telecommunication network. The fighting has killed six amid new fears of civil war.

In southeastern Texas authorities are keeping a close eye on a giant sinkhole that has already swallowed oil field equipment, telephone poles and several vehicles, including a tractor. The hole, which grew overnight, is now about 600 feet long. And Anderson, it's at least 200 feet deep.

COOPER: That is just crazy. So bizarre.

On a lighter note, here's the "Beat 360." Erica, it's your chance to outshine our staff by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post in our blog every day.

Today's picture shows Vice President Dick Cheney touring the Philadelphia financial center which disburses payments on behalf of federal agencies, including the economic stimulus checks going out to more than 130 million Americans.

So our staff winner, Dan, says, "People are always bothering me to recycle so we used the missing e-mails Congress has been asking about to print the stimulus checks. Talk about personal virtue."

Tonight's viewer winner is Kelsey with a different take on what Cheney might be saying: "I feel like Oprah. You get a check and you get a check. Everybody gets a check!"

HILL: Not bad. Although Oprah gives out cars. I think I'd rather have the car.

COOPER: Yes. As always, you can check out the captions that didn't quite make it by going to CNN.com/360, clicking on our blog.

And "The Shot" is next. Oh, those dancing prisoners of the Philippines. They're back with a new number. That's right. We'll show it to you next.

And later, up close, our interview with Barack Obama and why Hillary Clinton says it's full steam ahead. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now, Erica, for "The Shot." Remember the prisoners who danced to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? And frankly, how can anyone forget?

HILL: Yes, they're good friends.

COOPER: They started with "Thriller." Then they did (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And they're back with a new number. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC: "I Need a Hero")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: You know, Anderson, I have a problem with this dance.

COOPER: Why?

HILL: Because it's eerily reminiscent of some moves from the Giradelli (ph) Middle School cheerleaders back in the '80s.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: And I think they've stolen some of our moves. I'm just saying.

COOPER: Really? Were you one of those cheerleaders?

HILL: We had an "I Need a Hero" dance. We had a "Footloose" dance. Who didn't?

COOPER: Really?

HILL: Yes. There's no pictures, don't worry.

COOPER: Really? There must be pictures.

HILL: No.

COOPER: Your mom must have video.

HILL: Cheryl will not be sending any, will you, Cheryl? No.

COOPER: Maybe we'll try to track that down, if we can.

But there they are, dancing in there from the Sibu Detention Center in the Philippines. And we've seen them all. And, of course, the song is Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero." Who needs to be told that? Yes, that's about it.

HILL: I hope we get more from them in the future. Maybe they'd like some moves for their "Footloose" number.

COOPER: Yes, I don't think -- I don't think that thing is ending any time soon. We're going to hear that again and again.

"The Shot" is next. The dancing -- no more dancing prisoners of the Philippines. That was "The Shot." A lot more politics ahead. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hillary Clinton taking heat. Critics say she's injecting race into the race again. Hear what she's saying about white voters, or as she puts it, hardworking Americans, white Americans. You can make up your own mind.

Also, Barack Obama up close in his own words. Tonight, his first interview since winning North Carolina. Does he believe the race against Clinton is over and hear what he has that has the McCain camp crying foul. An in-depth interview with Senator Barack Obama tonight.

Later, death and delay. The exploding humanitarian outrage in Burma as the military dictators there keep cyclone relief to a trickle while thousands of bodies rot and survivors go hungry.