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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Nearly 10,000 Killed in China Earthquake; Barack Obama Grabs Lead Among Democratic Superdelegates
Aired May 12, 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: Breaking news in politics tonight, on the eve of the West Virginia primary, Hillary Clinton claiming it will be a turning point in her campaign. But Barack Obama has now reached a big turning point in superdelegates. Tonight, we put it all in perspective.
John King at the magic map, mapping out West Virginia and what's ahead in the remaining race. Our political panel is standing by, "TIME"'s Joe Klein, Mark Halperin, and "The New York Times"' Marcus Mabry.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Jessica Yellin join us live from the campaign trail. And Tom Foreman lays out the Clinton exit strategy with a peek at what is behind doors number one, two, and three -- a lot of politics.
But we begin with breaking news tonight, nature hammering the planet at home and overseas, first, the death toll climbing after a massive earthquake in central China, the worst in 75 years, approaching 10,000 men, women, and children killed, the number rising almost by the hour.
Here's what it looked like as the magnitude-7.9 tremors actually hit. They toppled homes and factories and other buildings, including two chemical plants. You see someone hiding under a desk in those shaky images. Also hit half-a-dozen schools -- this according to China's official news agency.
Under the rubble now, say authorities, may lie thousands of people, some dead, others awaiting rescue. Making matters worse, the remote area where this is happening, the quake's epicenter, Wenchuan, in Sichuan province, north of the provincial capital of Chengdu.
CNN's John Vause is there on the ground for us tonight. He joins us now by phone.
John, what is the latest?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the main concern remains Wenchuan County, as you say, directly over the epicenter. More than 100,000 people live there. Last report we had, soldiers from the People's Liberation Army were trying to get there on foot, because the roads are either impassable or they simply are being swept away.
In fact, a short time ago, the troop commander there ordered aid to be dropped by parachute if the weather continued to prevent rescuers from getting in.
The early word we have had from Wenchuan County, two-thirds of the buildings there have either been destroyed or are badly damaged. And that's like -- a place like Billings, Montana, or maybe Berkeley, California, almost being totally flattened. That's just one area of the quake zone.
Rescue operations continue around the epicenter of the quake. At that school you mentioned, where those 900 kids were buried, about 50 bodies have been pulled out. At that factory, thousands remain trapped beneath the debris. Everywhere around this region, roads and houses and buildings have simply collapsed, which is why this death toll is expected to go much higher -- Anderson.
COOPER: John, some of the first images from China came to us from CNN I-Reporters like Colin Jones. I want our viewers to listen to how he described what happened and take a look at some of the pictures he submitted.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COLIN JONES, CHINA EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: It felt like everything was moving, but I wasn't. Then I looked around and noticed that everybody else was kind of disoriented.
And then a lot of people ran towards the streets, just trying to get out in the open.
It felt like it lasted for at least 40 seconds, maybe more, because I had enough time to notice what was happening, notice all the people running all around, pull out my camera, and start taking pictures, and it was still going on.
The school where I go to, the entire soccer field and the track area is full of people right now. They're sleeping outside. Some people are sleeping inside their homes tonight, but a lot of people have decided to stay outside tonight. They're kind of afraid to go back in their homes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: John, you talked about the military possibly dropping aid just from the sky. How is the government handling all of this?
VAUSE: Well, they have responded extremely quickly. In fact, more than 40,000 soldiers have been mobilized -- 24,000 are coming in by air -- 20,000 are already there. Others are coming in by rail.
And the government has been very, very quick to be seen to be acting on this. In fact, the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, was ordered here by China's president to personally oversee this rescue operation. This government is very sensitive to any criticism that it acted too slowly or that it didn't act sufficiently to try and save as many lives as possible.
COOPER: And, at this point, I mean, this death toll of 10,000, it could go -- I mean, there's no telling how high it could go at this point. They simply don't know how many people are trapped under rubble; is that correct?
VAUSE: This death toll has been jumping by the thousands over the past couple of hours.
We had no reports in the hours after the earthquake, which gives you an idea of just how remote these regions are. We're talking about mountainous regions. I was driving on those roads just two months ago. They are difficult, dangerous, terrible roads in the best of times. What we're now looking at is rain. And, after an earthquake, trying to get to these areas is simply impossible.
In that area, Wenchuan County, we know that the soldiers set out at 10:00 last night -- that's 12 hours ago -- to try and get to these people. And they're still not there yet.
COOPER: All right, John Vause near the epicenter -- John, thanks for the report.
Let's check the "Raw Data" on this earthquake compares to other recent earthquakes. In December 2004, an undersea quake, you will remember, spawned the Asian tsunami. Nearly 228,000 were killed in that. That was a magnitude-9.1 quake that hit off the coast of northern Sumatra.
Pakistan, October 2005, magnitude 7.6, more than 80,000 people killed. And, in 1990, 50,000 people died in a magnitude-7.4 quake in Iran. That's tonight's "Raw Data."
Here at home, there is suffering from natural disasters as well across a wide belt of the country. People spent today cleaning up from a string of tornadoes and burying the dead. The tornadoes hit over the weekend.
Take a look. This is Picher, Oklahoma, about 95 northeast of Tulsa, leveled by an F-4 twister, 165-mile-an-hour winds, at times up to a mile wide. But because parts of Picher are contaminated with lead, the federal government had already been paying people to leave. It looks now like the town might not rebuild at all. Six people died in Oklahoma.
Across the state line, in Seneca, Missouri, that same tornado cut a path of utter destruction -- take a look at these pictures -- as wide as a football field. It stayed on the ground for another 15 miles, that and other storms killed 15 people in Missouri. In all, 22 people died in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Georgia over the weekend.
We will have severe weather expert Chad Myers joining us later tonight to look at why this storm season has been so deadly.
But, first, tonight's other big story -- just hours from now, the polls open in West Virginia, a state that everyone expects Senator Hillary Clinton to win, and win big. The latest Suffolk University Polls show her leading Obama 60 percent to 24 percent, with 8 percent of voters unsure. Now, those are numbers. They begin to don't tell the whole story, however. Depending on who is talking, Senator Clinton is either winning the race for the Democratic nomination or losing it. And those are her supports talking.
CNN's Jessica Yellin has the "Raw Politics."
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They love her here. They really do. Clinton, trailing in delegates, the popular vote, and states won, hopes to staunch the bleeding with a victory in West Virginia.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And you have an opportunity to send a real message about who you believe would be the best president for you.
YELLIN: The best president, she still says, is a Clinton.
CLINTON: I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't believe that I could be the best president and that I was the stronger candidate to take on John McCain in the fall.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: The state is filled with people Clinton has called hardworking white Americans, blue-collar voters who make up her base and love her gritty determination.
CLINTON: But I guess my favorite message was from a woman named Angela. Keep strong, she said. It's not over until the lady in the pantsuit says it is.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: Clinton argues she's the only Democrat who can carry those voters in November. And the state's top Democrats tell West Virginians, there's still time for a resurrection.
HARRY TRUMAN CHAFIN, WEST VIRGINIA SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We're going to be responsible for making the national media understand that you are going to be the next president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: But even some of Clinton's advisers view her expected win here as little more than a last hurrah, before Obama becomes the nominee. Those closest to her believe Clinton is now angling for leverage and history, as the first woman to go so far.
COOPER: Basically, Jessica, you're saying there's a new sign that Hillary Clinton is not planning on getting out early?
We have just found out -- and we can report, Anderson -- that Chelsea Clinton is heading to Puerto Rico tomorrow, and she will be there through Thursday. Now, that's significant, because, first of all, the Clinton campaign is saddled with enormous debt, and it shows they're still spending and doubling down on the upcoming primary contests.
But more relevant is the fact that Puerto Rico doesn't vote until June 1. So, they're spending money in a place that's voting so far out from now. Seems to indicate that Senator Clinton plans to stay in this race well past the time when the rules committee, for example, meets to vote on whether Michigan and Florida's delegates are seated and how, and that she's in this for a while.
Now, the one caveat, I would say, is, this could all be a big deceit. She could be playing us all, and then surprise us with a get- out announcement soon. But it doesn't look that way -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, we will be covering it all, no matter what.
Up next: Senator Clinton's exit strategy, if and when it comes.
Also ahead, Senator Obama, who has largely written off West Virginia, he seems to be having to have something a new strategy, leaving Senator Clinton behind, focusing instead on John McCain. We will explore that in-depth tonight -- a lot to report, a lot to blog about.
As always, I'm blogging throughout the hour. You can join the conversation. Go to CNN.com/360.
And, later, Erica Hill later reports on the first-family wedding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: As sun set over Crawford, Texas, first daughter Jenna Bush became Mrs. Henry Hager, and the quest for pictures and details about the wedding began. The plan seemed to be as top-secret as any of the president's national security briefings, until now. Finally, the dress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: After the inauguration and the ceremonies and the dancing and everything is over, the president goes into that Oval Office. There are no cameras there, don't have any bright lights, no crowds. And it's the president all by herself.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Clinton campaigning today on the eve of West Virginia's primary. As we talked about before, she's expected to win handily. Even Barack Obama says West Virginia will go to his opponent.
His campaign also expects fully Clinton to win Kentucky a week later. The latest Research 2000 poll shows Clinton leading Obama in Kentucky 58 percent to 31 percent, 11 percent unsure.
So, with six contests left, Obama's aides are saying that he's going to continue the final push for votes, but with math on their side and four more superdelegates picked up today, they're already mapping out a strategy beyond the final primary.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the "Raw Politics."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next president of the United States!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walks like a nominee, talks like a nominee.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As your commander in chief, my job..
MALVEAUX: Must be a nominee? Camp Obama won't declare it publicly. Their new strategy is obvious. Leave Hillary Clinton behind. Focus on John McCain.
OBAMA: I have great respect for John McCain's service to this country.
MALVEAUX: In Charleston, West Virginia, Barack Obama went after McCain's greatest strength: his status as a champion of veterans.
OBAMA: There is no reason we shouldn't pass the 21st century G.I. Bill. John McCain is one of the few senators of either party who opposed this bill, because he thinks it's too generous. He thinks it's too generous. I could not disagree with him more.
MALVEAUX: Obama is highlighting his family's military history, to counter McCain's war hero status.
OBAMA: I can still remember the day that we laid my grandfather to rest. We watched as the folded flag was handed to my grandmother.
MALVEAUX: Also, national security.
OBAMA: Absolutely. That's going to be a priority.
MALVEAUX: Appealing to independent voters, the environment.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures.
MALVEAUX: McCain laid out his plan to hold big polluters, like India and China, accountable. So, Obama accused McCain of long neglecting the issue.
Obama will now start to campaign in states critical to the general election, Michigan and Florida, ignored for the past nine months for violating party rules. Over the next several weeks, Obama will hit the remaining primary states: Kentucky, South Dakota, and Oregon, as well as key swing states, like Missouri, where President Bush won in 2000 and 2004.
COOPER: So, Suzanne, you're saying his itinerary is changing to reflect the general election. Is his message and tone toward Clinton changing?
MALVEAUX: Absolutely, Anderson.
I mean, gone are any criticisms of Hillary Clinton, and not a word today. What we heard from Barack Obama, he said that she was capable and intelligent, a smart opponent. This is what he was saying to his supporters, that the party ultimately would be united. It is very clear, Anderson, that he is doing what he believes he needs to do. And that is to win over the Clinton supporters.
COOPER: I did notice in the video you showed of him in West Virginia, he was wearing a flag lapel pin. Obviously, that's something that has been an issue a lot. Is that something that he does more and more? Was it because it was in front of veterans? Do we know much about it?
MALVEAUX: We actually do know about it. I mean, he was before a group of veterans, and he was really stressing the idea about his own grandfather's service. He was talking about the G.I. Bill. And he was also, specifically, Anderson, talking about patriotism.
He mentioned it several times in his speech about patriotism was about the sacrifice of soldiers like his grandfather. He talked about his wife, Michelle Obama, as well, talking to some of the spouses of those soldiers. So, it was very clear that he was reaching out, not only to veterans, but also trying to counter that storyline from McCain and some of the others, his critics, saying that he wasn't patriotic.
COOPER: Interesting. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks. So, is it really Obama's nomination to lose at this point? That's the question. Just ahead, we're digging deeper with our political panel.
Plus, if the math doesn't add up, what is the next step for Hillary Clinton? She's not talking openly about exit strategies, but some of her fellow Democrats certainly are.
Also ahead, state of emergency, the latest on wildfires raging in Florida.
This is 360. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I understand that many more here in West Virginia will probably support Senator Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
OBAMA: This is true. No, no, I...
OBAMA: But, when it's over, what will unify us as Democrats and what must unify us as Americans is an unyielding commitment to the men and women who have served this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's Senator Barack Obama campaigning today, while making it clear he doesn't expect to win West Virginia and looking ahead to the general election, as Suzanne Malveaux was talking about.
As we said, Senator Clinton is leading the polls by a wide margin there. The state, of course, plays to her strengths. As we also said earlier, Senator Obama pulled in four more superdelegates. With just six contests to go, could anything now possibly stand in his way?
We're digging deeper with "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein and Mark Halperin, and the "New York Times"' Marcus Mabry.
Joe, why is Hillary Clinton so far out in front in West Virginia? And has -- why is Barack Obama essentially writing it off?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, because he thinks he it won, and she thinks she has to keep on fighting.
I think that, at this point, the reality is that the Clinton campaign needs some grief counseling. I mean, you remember the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' stages of grief? They're in denial. The next stage in anger. And the stage after that is bargaining. And the task for the Democratic Party right now is to get the Clintons from denial to bargaining, without stopping in the anger phase.
KLEIN: And I think that's going to happen over the next couple of weeks.
COOPER: Next couple -- Mark, do you think it was a mistake, though, for Obama to -- to not try harder in West Virginia or in Kentucky, or is he -- it simply just doesn't make any sense for him?
MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Well, I think he's very far behind.
What I think is a mistake, if they're in denial themselves about why he's so far behind there, it's going to come back to haunt them in the general election. They can't just say, these are good Clinton states. He's run a great campaign. He's built a coalition that has allowed him to secure the Democratic nomination, but not a coalition to win a general election.
I think he might have been smarter not to go to try to win, but to go try to test-run some messages and some ways of dealing with the kind of voters in this state that he's going to need in the general election, not necessarily in West Virginia, although it is a swing state, but how about people like in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, and Ohio, who are a lot like people in West Virginia?
COOPER: Yes, Marcus, I mean, how does he do that? If he's going to be in the general election, how does he start to -- to reach out to those -- essentially, the white middle-class or blue-collar voters?
MARCUS MABRY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you know, Anderson, Hillary Clinton really did put it best, when she said that -- and she was speaking the truth when she said, Barack Obama has not closed this deal because he's not yet found a way to appeal to those middle-class, hardworking, as she said, white middle-class voters. He has to do that in order to win.
However, when you look at the coalitions, I think it's interesting. We're looking at a candidate who -- we know this is going to be a historic election, obviously. But we're looking at a candidate who may put together a coalition of affluent whites and African-Americans. The last political party that did that was the Republican Party.
So, he has this on his side. He has the fact that liberals and hard-core Democrats are not going to vote for McCain. So, he can run to the middle as soon as he has this nomination. I think he's already started to do that. And we have seen it already. He's going to sell an economic message to the middle-class voters.
COOPER: I saw you shaking your head. KLEIN: Unfortunately, Marcus, the last party that did that was the Democratic Party with George McGovern in 1972.
KLEIN: You know, the fact is that the message for the general election, when he's running against John McCain, is going to be different than the message when he's running against Hillary Clinton, the message to white working-class voters.
And I think that, at this point, we have to acknowledge the fact that this guy has been running nonstop for more than a year in a very, very tough race, and that he needs a chance to exhale, to think it through, and figure out what those messages that Mark was talking about, which are very, very crucial to this election...
COOPER: But how do you guys think that message different in the general election than it is in the Clinton -- in running against Clinton?
HALPERIN: I don't think it is or it should be.
HALPERIN: I think the way you win presidential elections, in the age of YouTube and Google and Nexis, is to have one message all the way through.
His message on the economy has not been sufficient to appeal to these voters against Clinton. McCain is no better in talking about the economy, but I don't think, right now, it is sufficient to build a bigger coalition than the McGovern coalition. It may be. He's run a great campaign. He's a very smart guy. His campaign has done a good job. But to pass up the opportunity to do it in West Virginia, to do it in Kentucky, and to suddenly do it -- we have seen an endless nomination night. The general election is going to be really fast.
And I don't know how, all of a sudden, he's going to learn how to appeal to these voters.
COOPER: It is interesting that...
KLEIN: But it is going to be different when -- it is going to be different on -- on the economy, taxes, and on the war. I mean, it's a completely different campaign, running against John McCain and talking to white working-class people than...
HALPERIN: If there were a three-race for governor of West Virginia between John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, who would you bet on would win?
KLEIN: John McCain.
HALPERIN: Right. So, I think it's harder to run against John McCain than Hillary Clinton.
KLEIN: Oh, yes. It's a different pitch.
COOPER: But we have seen Barack Obama already -- we have seen Barack Obama already -- I mean, not to make much of this flag pin, but, clearly a lot of people do, wearing it today. We have heard him talk more, much more, about patriotism, his love of America. Does that -- that clearly continues? I mean, that's...
MABRY: Oh, absolutely it does.
I don't think this is a hard debate for Barack Obama. I really don't. I don't think McCain has any advantage on the economic questions. On the economic questions, a new "Washington Post" poll just out shows that this is going to be one of the leading determinants. McCain is not with the majority of Americans when it comes to the war in Iraq.
Barack Obama is going to use an economic campaign. He has not even laid out yet, I think, strategically, in order to counter McCain among middle-class voters, who are not to become, as the McCain campaign hopes, McCainocrats. I think they're going to have a hard time, because I think McCain is going to have to shore up his conservative wing. At the same time, he's going to try to run to the middle. He has a much harder race.
COOPER: The fact that -- the fact that Barack Obama has -- now has the lead in the superdelegates, how big a deal is it?
KLEIN: Well, I think that, you know, all the metrics, which is what we now call measures...
COOPER: Yes. This word "metrics" is suddenly popping up. I know. It's like narrative.
KLEIN: But all of the measures are moving in his direction.
I mean, he's -- you know, he's ahead in the popular vote. He's ahead in the superdelegates. He's ahead in the pledged delegates, and which tells me that this thing is getting pretty close to being done.
But let me once again emphasize the importance of exhaustion on both the Obama and Clinton campaigns, not only the candidates, but the campaign apparatus. It is very difficult to think clearly and to try out new -- you know new messages, when you're wiped. And they are.
COOPER: Interesting. We're going to leave it there.
Guys, thank you very much. Joe Klein, Mark Halperin, Marcus Mabry, good to have you on again.
More politics head -- the female factor up close. We will look at what the women who support Hillary Clinton may do if she doesn't win the nomination.
Also, we will have JetBlue facing a pricey lawsuit, a legal battle linked to a toilet seat, of all things, the allegations.
Also, John -- John King is at the magic map, mapping out West Virginia and all the states ahead -- when 360 continues. We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, you would think that, after a major disaster, with tens of thousands of people already dead, and hundreds of thousands homeless or starving, it would not be necessary to remind the rulers of the affected country to take care of its people.
Yet, today, that is exactly what the U.N. secretary-general did, Ban Ki-moon slamming the military leaders of Burma, calling their response to the cyclone there -- quote -- "unacceptably slow," calling on the junta to put -- quote -- "its people's lives first."
Exhibit A, an American C-130 relief plane finally permitted to land in the Burmese capital, 11 days after the storm, one flight, and a rare one, no matter where it's coming from. According to one global aid organization, the Burmese people need literally 10 times the aid they're getting now. Two more American flights could arrive tomorrow.
Compounding the disaster, people are largely on their own -- the military junta still limiting the number of visas to foreign aid workers. Reports out of worst-hit area continue painting a grim picture, to say the least. People whose homes, farms and food were destroyed have been making their way to barely organized refugee camps, many of them ill-equipped without food, water, or proper medical help.
Outside observers now worry that a massive outbreak of waterborne illness may compound the tragedy. They're worried about famine, with the rice planting season coming up and nobody to work the rice fields.
There's a very simple thread running through all of these disasters we have been talking about. Tonight, simply put, you can help. You can find out how. Just log onto our Impact Your World at CNN.com/impact.
All right, time to check some of the other headlines tonight. Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a state of emergency in Brevard County, Florida, as wildfires threaten homes and businesses there. Those flames, fueled by dry, windy weather, have destroyed more than a dozen homes and even closed part of I-95.
Further up the coast, there's simply too much water, flooding reported from Maryland to New Jersey, as a powerful rainstorm pounded the coast, bringing with it damaging high winds.
And a New York City man suing JetBlue, the airline, claiming a pilot made him give up his seat to a flight attendant, and then made the man sit on the toilet for more than three hours on his flight to California. Yes, he's asking for $2 million -- no comment from JetBlue. He was apparently flying on a buddy pass, and the pilot said there was a flight attendant, and she would sit in the jump seat. He claims all of this, but then, partway through the flight, the pilot said: Give up your seat. She's getting it. And you can't sit in the jump seat, because you're not staff.
COOPER: That's unbelievable.
And the flight to L.A., it's not like it's a short flight.
COOPER: Anyway, crazy.
Erica, now the lighter side of politics. Here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo: The Hillary mobile makes an appearance, as former President Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife in Fayetteville, West Virginia, last week -- the design all done by a fan, obviously, of Hillary Clinton's, a woman named Ms. Gretchen Baer.
So, here's the caption from our staff winner, our intern Kelly: "Democrats opt for a newer, quicker election process: demolition derby."
HILL: I like it.
COOPER: Mmm, yeah.
If you think you can do better, go to CNN.com/360.
HILL: Oh, A.C. not convinced, people.
COOPER: I'm not convinced.
COOPER: Send us your entry. We will announce the winner at the end of the program tonight.
Up next: The numbers do not add up for Senator Hillary Clinton. We all know that. John King is going to join us from his signature magic map to show us why she can't win the Democratic nomination.
And, later, up close -- if Hillary Clinton can't win, why is she still in it? What does she hope to get out of it? Tom Foreman lays out the options.
COOPER: As we touched on earlier, the latest polls show West Virginia expected to be a blowout for Hillary Clinton. CNN's John King has the "Raw Politics." He's mapping the numbers for us tonight.
John, good evening. Let's look at West Virginia.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: West Virginia matters to Hillary Clinton, Anderson, because very difficult for her to win the nomination, but she's trying to make a point here, and it has many Democrats nervous.
We want to watch tomorrow night what happens, because Senator Clinton is expected to win big. And she wants to post very impressive numbers right along here. Why? This is where the people of West Virginia live, the major population centers right now. It's white tonight, because this is our 2008 map.
But what she wants to do is make a point. She's trying to say Barack Obama cannot win come November.
Remember that swipe right there? What Senator Clinton wants you to remember after tomorrow night is, "Look, my husband, Bill, carried this state twice back in 1992 and 1996, and here's how he did in 1992." All this blue is Bill Clinton. You see this one area up here, red, that went to George H.W. Bush. But look at that. That's a big sweep.
But now look, this is why George W. Bush is president of the United States. In 2000 and 2004, he won West Virginia. So the point Senator Clinton is trying to make, especially with these white working-class voters -- we've heard this line before -- is that "I'm a stronger candidate than Barack Obama, and if you cannot win this state, you cannot win come November."
COOPER: And what does the road ahead look like after West Virginia?
KING: Well, that's what gets so interesting, because you already have McCain and Obama focusing on the Electoral College map, not so much what happens next.
I want to bring you up here, bring you a side by side. Let's bring these guys up. You already have the states in yellow are the ones that are expected to be the swing states in the fall.
And where we start here is the default of the last campaign. Imagine this being Bush. He won 286 electoral votes; John Kerry won 252.
What John McCain is saying is, "Look at this map." He was out in Oregon today. McCain thinks "I can come and play out there," get independent voters by talking about climate change. He thinks he can put Wisconsin and Minnesota in play, those would go red states. He thinks, "Look, Barack Obama lost New Hampshire in the end. New Hampshire loves me. I'll go there." And this is a test case of those white working-class voters. McCain says, "I can get the Reagan Democrats and take Pennsylvania back."
In the McCain campaign, they think the map looks something like this: 338, maybe 350 Electoral College votes in play. It takes 270 to win.
Now the Obama campaign says, "We think we'll get these white voters back. But we have a plan in case we don't." They think they can do fine out here in Nevada and out here in New Mexico. They think they're bringing new, younger voters in, in a state like Colorado. They think they can reclaim Florida for the Democrats. Of course, the Republicans disagree. And they think Iowa and Missouri. Look at that right now: 264 to 274.
One state right here swings the map. If Barack Obama could win West Virginia, he's the next president of the United States. If John McCain loses Ohio, Barack Obama wins a bigger margin.
So this is what it's going to come down to, Anderson: fights over just a few of these states. McCain has to hold Ohio. McCain has to hold West Virginia, and Obama has to look for one of these states out here that is red.
Here's one to watch. Remember Virginia, African-American turnout, Obama won it big in the primary. That would make Barack Obama president of the United States.
That's where we are right now. All of these campaigns looking at the polling data. McCain closely studying the Democratic primaries, looking for Obama's weaknesses. That's why some Democrats are worried. If Hillary Clinton runs it up big in West Virginia, runs it up big in Kentucky, is in the end, what she's doing is essentially highlighting Barack Obama's biggest weakness.
COOPER: But by any metric, to use Joe Klein's word, or measurement, the more traditional word, can Hillary Clinton get the nomination, short of some sort of implosion in the Obama campaign or change of hearts of the super delegates?
KING: Change of heart of the super delegates. This is -- Barack Obama can lose this nomination; Hillary Clinton cannot win it is the easiest way to put it.
Here's where we are, heading into tomorrow's votes. This is Hillary Clinton, her line back here. This is the finish line. Look how close Barack Obama is. These are the delegates left. More super delegates available than pledged delegates. It doesn't take very much, Anderson. Get a few of each, Barack Obama's your nominee. Barack Obama has to lose the nomination. Almost impossible for her to outright win it.
COOPER: All right. Fascinating. John King, thanks as always with the magic map.
Up next, up close, if Hillary Clinton chooses to concede the Democratic nomination, the next question becomes when and how? And what then? Tom Foreman gives us her choices and who wins and loses with each possible path, or door, in this case.
And later, it wasn't a White House wedding, but the first family had a new member. Erica Hill has the pictures and the details of this weekend's nuptials. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight, Senator Hillary Clinton and her supporters are not conceding anything to the Obama campaign, even though to many outsiders, the math appears insurmountable, with Obama leading in delegates, in super delegates and in popular votes, as well.
But even if the Clinton campaign isn't talking about exit strategies, at least not publicly, some Democrats certainly are. With an up-close look at her options, let's check in with Tom Foreman -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not the best options, Anderson, that's absolutely true. But take a look at the possibilities here. Certainly, the Clinton people want to believe that somehow she can pull out a victory yet in this whole thing.
But for many other Democrats, what this comes down to is not whether or not she's going to exit the, but when and how. And door No. 1 represents what may be the best option if she can't actually win the nomination. Look at this.
One idea would be for her to continue, pressing forward in every race, pointing out potential weaknesses right up until the convention. The fact that he not be able to get older or blue-collar voters, party leaders could get worried and they could pressure him into giving her the vice presidency, Anderson. That's one possibility.
However, when you look at that, there's a leadership question involved here. What's wrong with that? Well, the simple truth is that -- that he could get pressed very much on the question of whether or not he wants her in the campaign. She's shown little interest in calling him Mr. President, and he may not be interested in calling -- having her or Bill Clinton in the White House with him.
So let's take a look at door No. 2, another possible exit for her. This is a graceful exit. If she wants to go out this way, political analysts say she could campaign a few more weeks or even until the convention but with far fewer attacks and less pointed criticisms of Obama.
This would be primarily about rebuilding relations with those who have been put off by the vigor of her campaign. She would look a lot more like a uniter, not so much like a divider, Anderson, and that could help her.
COOPER: Right. But if she took this, it would set her up to at least have a leadership role down the road.
FOREMAN: Absolutely, if he set her up for a leadership role during the current administration and, if he did not win, it sets her up to be a candidate in four years. So she was very excited about that.
But we can't ignore the third door in this, and this one, for some Democrats, would be the door to catastrophe if it were to happen. That is for her to simply continue with a never-surrender approach, to fight tooth and nail all the way to the convention, not only doing more damage to Obama but also deepening this chasm between her followers and his.
If that happens, you might see significant numbers of her followers indeed stay home in November. And when you open the door to the White House a year from now, John McCain could be standing there, Anderson.
So those are just three of the doors that she may be choosing right now, if she does, indeed, have to lose this race. All with pluses, all with minuses.
COOPER: Are you channeling Monty Hall or Bob Barker? I can't remember.
FOREMAN: A little bit of both. The question is who's she channeling right now and what she's going to decide.
COOPER: Door No. 1, two, or three. Three possible scenarios for the future, though Senator Clinton remains very much in the race. Thanks in large part, really, to her huge lead among white women. Some 60 percent support Clinton, versus 38 percent who back Senator Obama.
Now, among college-educated white women, the divide is even much smaller, 54 percent to 43 percent. And much of that split comes down to age, with younger women much more likely to support Obama.
Once again, here's 360's Erica Hill up close with a report.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR (voice-over): The mother of all campaigns could come down to women. And on Mother's Day, Hillary Clinton invoked one of the strongest women in the nation's history.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of my favorite sayings of Eleanor Roosevelt is especially appropriate for Mother's Day: "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she's in hot water."
HILL: That water is boiling. And so are many of Senator Clinton's staunchest backers. We gathered a panel of six New Yorkers, ranging in age from 21 to 80, all Hillary supporters.
AMY SISKIND, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think Hillary is the candidate of our lifetime. I have never had a candidate in any capacity that embraced all the things that I believe in for our party, for our country.
ALICE OZAROFF, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I really, before I die, I would like to see a woman in the White House and if not now, when? And if not Hillary, who?
HILL: But what if Hillary isn't the nominee? In Indiana, nearly half of Clinton's backers said they wouldn't go for Obama. Nationwide, 28 percent said they'd vote for McCain.
MARK HALPERIN, "THE PAGE", TIME.COM: Women make up over half the voters in this election. Any of the candidates is going to have to work to appeal to them. Women's issues across the board are going to be big, particularly things like health care and security, the war in Iraq.
HILL (on camera): Just by a show of hands, how many of you ladies would vote for Barack Obama if, in fact, he was the nominee? Georgiana, you're not quite sure. Are you a maybe?
GEORGIANNA LAND, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I will vote for the Democratic nominee, whomever that person is.
HILL (voice-over): If only it were that easy for Barack Obama. He needs these women and many more to win. But getting their support isn't a given.
OZAROFF: I'm really in a dilemma. I can't believe that I would vote Republican.
HILL (on camera): Do you think you'll probably not vote or vote for McCain?
DNA RAUCHER, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think there are a lot of people out there who are more enthralled by the idea of Barack Obama than they actually are by the ideas of Barack Obama.
MARTHA BRANTLEY, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think for him to win over that bloc, he's got to show a lot more substance.
HILL (voice-over): But for these women, it isn't about what Obama might do to get their vote. They have their candidate. And their focus is simple.
LAND: I'm an old football fan, and football teams go in to win. And I believe that she's qualified, and she's ready to lead.
HILL: A message Hillary Clinton has heard loud and clear.
CLINTON: My favorite message was from a woman named Angela. "Keep strong," she says. "It's not ore until the lady in the pants suit says it is."
HILL: Anderson, such an interesting group of women. Some of the things that they said over and over again is that they really felt that, for them Hillary Clinton had much more experience than Barack Obama.
They also weren't comfortable with the fact that they didn't feel they'd been getting enough information from him on his policies. And a couple of them said they felt he was a little too glitzy without enough substance for them. So he's got his work cut out for him with some of these women.
COOPER: Interesting stuff. Thanks very much, Erica. A lot more from Erica tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night, though, CNN's live coverage of West Virginia's primary starts at 7 p.m. Eastern as returns come in. Best political team on television helps crunch the numbers. John King is back with the magic map. And 360 will have special election coverage, starting at 10 p.m. Eastern, all the way through to midnight. And then "LARRY KING" starts.
Up next, more on the tornados that have left a path of destruction across the U.S. We'll look at why this storm season has been so deadly with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.
And later, the first family wedding. This weekend's ceremony in Crawford Texas and the top-secret secret revealed. We've got the photos when 360 continues.
COOPER: The tornadoes that struck over the weekend killed 22 people in three streets. The damage in some places, including Picher, Oklahoma, was complete. It has certainly been a rough spring this year for tornadoes. The question tonight is why. A question for CNN's severe weather expert Chad Myers -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: An unlikely source, Anderson. Look behind me. Look at the words behind me: "winter storm warning." You're thinking is that real? Yes, Aspen, Vail, all the way through Summit County, winter storm warnings tonight for over a foot of snow.
So what does that have to do with tornados? Well, when the cold air still comes down in the springtime, that cold air makes tornados. And the cold air will not let go. It will not stop coming down. That's why we have severe weather in the Deep South. The cold air continues to plunge down the plains and continues to plunge all the way down to the Deep South.
Average tornados for this time of year, 360. How many do we have this year? Nine hundred and five already.
Now, tornado deaths, a number you don't even want to get to. The average 62. We have 96 deaths already.
This is a picture from Angela Graham. This is an I-Report. This is her hometown near Seneca, Missouri. Literally nothing left. A- hundred-and-seventy-five-mile-per-hour winds in the tornado, Anderson, tore apart her home. Tore apart her home.
We're not talking about little F-0s and F-1s here. We're talking big-time tornadoes and lots of them because it was a cold winter. It was a cold April, and May just -- the cold air does not want to stop coming down. It clashes with the warm, moist air that's already in place over the plains, and you get pictures like that. Amazing stuff.
COOPER: And what do we expect, I mean, anything else on the radar for tonight?
MYERS: Nothing for tonight.
MYERS: We're in good shape for tonight. Now tomorrow, we'll fire it back up again. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas tomorrow, but probably ten tornados. It's impossible to ever put a number on it, but we will not have 75 tornados like we had over the weekend.
COOPER: All right. Chad Myers, thanks for the update.
A lot of other news. To fill you in tonight, Erica Hill is back with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
HILL: Anderson, new pictures just in for you, a live look at the wildfires we told you about. These pictures coming to us from Palm Bay, Florida. A state of emergency now in effect. I believe these are live pictures from our affiliate, WESH, there. That is in effect throughout Brevard County.
Those flames stoked, as we mentioned, by dry, windy weather. They have now destroyed more than a dozen homes, even closed part of I-95. We'll stay on top of that for you.
Meantime, scathing allegations that the Bush administration tried to protect Iraq's prime minister against charges of corruption. Those coming from two former State Department officials who spoke today with Senate Democrats. They claim the Bush administration repeatedly ignored corruption at the highest levels of Iraq's government to protect Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Tough words for President Bush from an FLDS elder. In a letter dated May 10, Willie Jessop likened last month's raid on the Eldorado, Texas, polygamist compound to a terrorist act. Child welfare officials took more than 460 children into state custody. That is where they remain.
Falling oil prices and a stronger dollar helping Wall Street to rally today. The Dow up 134 points, the NASDAQ and the S&P, Anderson, also gaining ground.
COOPER: All right. Time now for "Beat 360." It's your chance to one-up our staff by coming up with a better caption than the picture that we post on our 360 blog every day.
Tonight's picture shows a Hillary-mobile in Fayetteville, West Virginia, where former President Bill Clinton was campaigning for his wife last week. Our staff winner tonight was Kelly, whose caption says, "Democrats offer a newer, quicker election process: demolition derby."
HILL: I liked it. COOPER: I liked it. Tonight's viewer winner is Bill, who's from West Virginia. He thinks the caption should read, "The auto industry finally invents a hybrid that can run for weeks on an empty tank." Ouch. Wow. All right.
HILL: Who's Bill voting for?
COOPER: Clearly not a West Virginian voting for Hillary Clinton, I guess.
As always, you can check out the captions that didn't make the cut by going to CNN.com/360 and clicking on our blog.
No matter what your political aims, you've got to love a good photo-op, especially when it's the president giving his daughter away. There they are. It is tonight's "Shot." That's coming up next.
Then breaking news, tragedy in China. Growing fatalities. We'll have the latest live from central China.
COOPER: Well, in case you haven't heard, it was a first-family wedding over the weekend. First daughter, Jenna Bush, tied the knot -- indeed she did at her family's ranch. How about if I look over here? Might even be better.
HILL: Hi, there.
COOPER: Unlike some presidential family weddings from years past, this one was relatively modest. Take a look.
HILL (voice-over): As the sun set over Crawford, Texas, first daughter Jenna Bush became Mrs. Henry Hager, and requests for pictures and details about the wedding began.
The plans seemed to be as top secret as any of the president's national security briefings, until now. Finally, the dress. Silk organza designed by Oscar de la Renta, adorned with beading and lace. She wore flowers in her hair, but no veil. Her groom wore a dark blue suit with a light blue tie.
A friend of the family's officiated in front of a limestone cross that the president commissioned, a fixture that will permanently remain at the ranch.
Jenna's twin sister Barbara served as maid of honor. The pastor says the father of the bride cried a few times ceremony, something many dads can relate to.
More than 200 guests, mostly family and close friends, were on hand for the celebration, which lasted until 1 a.m. And when it came time for the father-daughter dance, the president and his daughter are said to have chosen Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wedding was spectacular. It was all we could hope for.
HILL: Something else the president has said privately he hopes for: grandchildren, and sooner rather than later.
HILL: And the pastor who officiated the ceremony is actually a friend of the Bush family. In fact, he introduced President Bush at the 2000 convention. Anderson, he also just endorsed Barack Obama for president.
COOPER: That's interesting. I guess that didn't bother the Bush family too much.
HILL: Apparently not. I think they were all OK with it.
COOPER: Thanks, Erica.
Coming up at the top of the hour, serious stuff: breaking news out of China where a deadly earthquake hit today and the tragedy keeps growing by the hour.
Also, countdown to the West Virginia primary. Could it be Hillary Clinton's final chance to turn her campaign around? We've got the "Raw Politics" and more at the top of the hour.
COOPER: Breaking news in politics tonight. On the eve of the West Virginia primary, Hillary Clinton claiming it will be a turning point in her campaign. But Barack Obama has now reached a big turning point in super delegates.
Tonight, we put it all in perspective. John King with the magic map, mapping out West Virginia and what's ahead in the remaining race. Our political panel is standing by: "TIME's" Joe Klein, Mark Halperin; "The New York Times'" Marcus Mayberry. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Jessica Yellin join us live from the campaign trail. And Tom Foreman lays out the Clinton exit strategy. With a peek at what's behind doors No. 1, 2 and 3. A lot of politics.
But we begin with breaking news tonight. Nature hammering the planet at home and overseas. First, the death toll climbing after a massive earthquake in central China, the worst in 75 years. Approaching 10,000 men, women, and children killed, the number rising almost by the hour.