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Obama, McCain Trade Fire; Case Against Texas Polygamist Sect Falling Apart? Warren Jeffs Appears in Arizona Court; Chinese Rescuers Find Heartbreak, Hope

Aired May 16, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: open season, Barack Obama, John McCain going at it like the general election has already begun. No 30-second sound bites from us, though, tonight. You will hear what each has to say about the nation's security and talking with dictators at length in their own words. Our political panel supplies the in- depth insight.
Also tonight, fallen prophet -- new evidence in the case against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and new evidence that the government's case against the polygamist sect in Texas, where they took all those kids, that case may be unraveling.

Also, a 360 dispatch from China's earthquake zone. We will show you a heart-stopping rescue in the middle of a heartbreaking and what some are calling a miracle amidst the rubble.

We begin, though, with politics and game on between Barack Obama and John McCain, the closest thing to a bare-knuckle debate between the two, and no doubt a sign of things to come. Even as Hillary Clinton charges ahead with her campaign, Obama and McCain are acting already and sounding like she's out of the picture, and that the campaign for November is starting right now -- both candidates firing blistering attacks at one another with the kind of tactics and talk we will expect if both face off in the fall.

We want you to hear more than just a brief sound bit. So, here's an extended clip of Barack Obama slamming John McCain and President Bush today, after they implied he would appease terrorists.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't take what Bush says personally, but I was offended by what is a continuation of a strategy from this White House, now mimicked by Senator McCain, that replaces strategy and analysis and smart policy with bombast, exaggerations and fearmongering. And that's what we heard yesterday.

I mean, the notion that you would go before the Israeli Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence and use a term like "appeasement" and suggest somehow that Democrats, people like myself who believe that we should have tough diplomacy to accompany our military power in dealing with problems in the region is wrong.

And for Senator McCain then to compound it by somehow suggesting that I couldn't protect the safety of the United States, when it is George Bush's policies, supported by John McCain, that have empowered Iran.

And for them to somehow suggest that they are the ones who have been keeping Iran at bay is ridiculous.

One last point.

You know, Senator McCain has really enjoyed over the last several weeks repeating this comment about, oh, you know, Hamas supports Obama, implying or suggesting that I would talk to Hamas, despite the fact that I have been crystal clear time and time again that until Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and abided by previous agreements, we should not deal with Hamas. Then we find out on the very same day that he's making the sorts of statements he made yesterday, that in a previous interview he suggested, well, maybe we're going to have to deal with Hamas.


COOPER: Senator Obama was referring to an interview Senator McCain gave two years ago to Jamie Rubin on Sky News right after Hamas took over the government in Gaza. Take a look.


JAMIE RUBIN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: Do you think American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past in working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another.


J. MCCAIN: John McCain two years ago.

Today, a short time after Senator Obama spoke out, we heard again from John McCain, who shot back with a direct message of his own for Senator Obama. Senator McCain hammered away at the candidate, unloading on questions of foreign policy, national security, and experience.

Take a look.


J. MCCAIN: Senator Obama would meet unconditionally with some of the world's worst dictators and state sponsors of terrorists. I would not add to the prestige of those who support violent extremists or seek to destroy our allies.


J. MCCAIN: Earlier today, Senator Obama made a few remarks I would like to respond to.

I welcome a debate about protecting America. No issue is more important. Senator Obama claimed, all I had to offer was the -- quote -- "naive and irresponsible belief" that tough talk would cause Iran to give up its nuclear program.

He should have known better. I have some news for Senator Obama. Talking, not even with soaring rhetoric, unconditional, in unconditional meetings with the man who calls Israel a stinking corpse, and arms terrorists who kill Americans, will not convince Iran to give up its nuclear program. It is reckless. It is reckless to suggest that unconditional meetings will advance our interests.

But I would like to close my remarks with an issue that I know is much on the mind of Americans: the war in Iraq.

Senator Obama has said, if elected, he will withdraw Americans from Iraq quickly no matter what the situation on the ground is and no matter what U.S. military commanders advise. But if we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda.


COOPER: Well, McCain was just guesting warmed up, but so was GOP, unloading on Obama today at the NRA's annual convention. That's where Senator McCain was speaking.

The remarks included a controversial joke by Governor Mike Huckabee. The joke was about someone pointing a gun at Senator Obama.

CNN's Dana Bash has more of tonight's "Raw Politics."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now please join me in giving a very warm welcome to the Republican nominee for the president of the United States, Senator John McCain.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama's likely Republican rival finally fired much of what has been sitting a while in his campaign arsenal, everything from taxes...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama has clearly stated his preference for raising the tax burden on Americans.

BASH: ... to health care.

J. MCCAIN: Senator Obama would prefer the government exercise greater control.

BASH: And John McCain got help from some old Republican rivals against the guy he thinks will be his new Democratic rival. Mitt Romney on national security:

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: You have Barack Obama, who wants to sit down personally, if he's the president of the United States, with some of the world's worst actors, Kim Jong Il, Ahmadinejad, Castro, giving them a propaganda bonanza.

BASH: Mike Huckabee heard a loud noise in the room and turned it into a spontaneous Huckabee-style political hit.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I'm worried, because, frankly, within the -- that was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair.


HUCKABEE: He's getting ready to speak, and somebody aimed a gun at him, and he -- he dove for the floor.


BASH: He later apologized if his comments were offensive. Don't look for Karl Rove to say he's sorry about this.

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Barack Obama may now admit there's a Second Amendment constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but, in 2004, when asked in a questionnaire, -- quote -- "Do you support legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of assault weapons?" -- end quote -- his response was short and to the point: "Yes."

BASH: What better a place for Republicans to drill down on Obama for suggesting better Americans cling to God and guns than at the NRA.

ROVE: And we here today have news for Barack Obama. The values of those people you diminished are the values of America. And those people don't like being patronized or viewed as an alien species by a fellow who pretends to embody the new politics, and especially by someone who wants to be a president, not of the red states and blue states, but of the United States.

BASH (on camera): For the past several months, Democrats have been able to focus all of their ire on one Republican, John McCain. Though Republicans insist the lengthy Democratic race has helped them, their gusto against Barack Obama is proof they know how hard it's going to be to win the White House, and they don't even have an hour to waste.

Dana Bash, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.


COOPER: It looks like Friday night at the fights tonight.

So, let's dig deeper with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, Republican strategist and former Huckabee national campaign chairman Ed Rollins, and "New York Times" international business editor Marcus Mabry, author of "Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power."

David, is Barack Obama going to be easily portrayed as weak on national security, as someone argued John Kerry was in 2004?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, they're going to make -- I think there are some openings there. I think there are some vulnerabilities.

But I do think, overall -- we said last -- I said last night, I thought George Bush wandering into the middle of this on the -- at the Israeli Knesset was a gift to Barack Obama. And, today, Barack Obama cashed in on it. He took advantage of it.

A couple of things he did, Anderson. He was able to show that, unlike his fight with Hillary Clinton, where he's been very restrained, he is able to hit back. There's always been this issue, he can -- can he take a punch, but, more importantly, can he throw a punch? And he was throwing some punches today.

He was also able to pivot off the race against Hillary and put the emphasis back on McCain, where he wanted it. But, most importantly, he was able to link McCain to Bush, and essentially run against the Bush-McCain years.

Now, foreign policy, national security is going to be John McCain's strong suit. We all know that. But I think, in this particular dustup, I think Barack Obama helped himself more in this campaign than did John McCain -- helped himself more with this campaign than did Senator McCain.

COOPER: Ed, what do you think we learned about the general election today?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It started today. I mean, I think there's no question there's very distinct differences between the two parties. It could be the best debate you could ever have. You almost have to go back to Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan to have significant differences like we have today.

And I think there's lots of room to have an interesting debate, without all the rhetoric that obviously is derogatory to each side or the other side.

COOPER: Ed, how do you think -- Marcus, how do you think John McCain did? How do you think Barack Obama did?


What I do find surprising, though, is the fact that McCain is willing to happily affiliate himself with the president. It's true, as David said, foreign policy is McCain's strong suit. Foreign policy, however, poll after poll tells us, and the entire foreign policy establishment in this country, both right and left, Democrat and Republican, tells us George W. Bush has not been a success in that realm.

So, for McCain to be willing to affiliate himself with this president, I think, is a real danger for him, because I think, in fact, he kind of brings himself down on the foreign policy realm. And that is his strong suit.

I think Barack Obama did take advantage of it. And I think it made him look actually reasonable in foreign policy. And we kind of saw Republicans gone wild this week. And I don't it was becoming of the president or of John McCain.

COOPER: We're going to talk more with our panel in just a moment.

You can join the conversation. I'm blogging throughout the hour, as always, with you at home. Just go to to join in our conversation.

And, later, John McCain and the age factor. Did Barack Obama make it a campaign issue? Should it be a campaign issue? And what does medical science have to say about it all? That's tonight's "Up Close" segment.

Then, tight security and high stakes -- polygamist leader Warren Jeffs day in court. But is the government's case against the polygamist sect in Texas, where they took all those kids, is that case falling apart? New evidence that shows maybe some of those pregnant minors were not really minors after all -- when 360 continues.



OBAMA: There's not an observer of Middle East politics that would not say that the single biggest contributor to Iran's expanding power in the Middle East is George Bush's policies and our invasion of Iraq.

And for them to somehow suggest that they are the ones who have been keeping Iran at bay is ridiculous.


COOPER: Barack Obama's response today to President Bush and John McCain's attack, which, of course, drew fresh rebuttal this afternoon from Senator McCain.

It's not just tit for tat, however, not just sound and fury. The two likely nominees differ sharply, as Ed Rollins pointed out, on the issues in play and how to frame the debate.

So, digging deeper now on both counts, we're joined once again by David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Marcus Mabry.

Ed, do you think the -- the electorate is different than it was in 2004? I mean, has America changed in 2004, or the same tactics, the same kind of campaign that we saw back then, will that still work here?


COOPER: I mean, watching Karl Rove talk to the NRA, you're reminded of it.


ROLLINS: It's hard to say. We have run the same two elections twice. They're identical, 2000, 2004. There's a lot more young people involved. There's a lot more time has passed.

A lot more people think the war has been a miserable failure. I think both sides totally agree on Israel and will always, Democrats, Republicans, will protect Israel. Everything else is -- Barack Obama's plan is, let's get the troops out immediately. John McCain feels an obligation to those troops to get some kind of a victory, and it may take four or five years or beyond. And that's the debate.

COOPER: David, do you think the -- the strategies the Republicans used in 2004 and 2000 will work again this time, or do they need to come up with something new?

GERGEN: Ed is right. We don't -- we fundamentally don't know.

But we do know this. If George W. Bush were on the ticket today, he would go down in a landslide. And that's what the Republicans have learned in these three losses in these off-year elections for Congress, that the Republican brand really has taken a beating in these Bush years.

So, in that sense, you know, I think to -- if -- the more Obama can link McCain to Bush, the better he -- the stronger he's going to be as a candidate, even though, on the merits, there's a lot of things -- there are lot of things to be said for McCain.

But there's a lot of ammunition that Obama has. Even on this Iranian issue, where they're so sharply different, it was Secretary Gates who said just on Wednesday we ought to find some way to get some leverage and then to sit down and talk with the Iranians.

The Bush administration itself, with its critical star now, its big star on national security issues, is saying we ought to be talking to the Iranians.

COOPER: Marcus, is this uniting Democrats behind Barack Obama, I mean, faster than anyone previously thought was going to happen? Hillary Clinton is still in the race. People aren't talking about Hillary Clinton. And, in fact, Hillary Clinton is defending Barack Obama.

MABRY: Barack Obama. Absolutely. There's no question it's united Democrats faster than anyone expected after this blistering race they have had and technically they are still having.

What's surprising, though, I think is, in the 2006 midterm elections, it was very clear that this old kind of rhetoric that worked in 2000, 2004, kind of fearmongering, one might say, one might say, on foreign policy, did not work in 2006. The Democrats, as it were...

COOPER: The Karl Rove strategy.

MABRY: Absolutely, the base strategy. They lost that election, the midterms. The Democrats took over the Hill in 2006.

I think that the problem is, they don't seem to realize that that is still a liability for them and that the country is not buying it in the same way they did in 2000 and 2004.

ROLLINS: There's one very critical issue, though. And that's our troops. Our troops are going to there for a year, two years, whatever, no matter who is elected president. And we can't undercut them and we can't make, again, about their efforts and the lives that are going to be lost being in vain.

So, I think we have to -- as Americans, we have to be behind each other, support that particular issue until we can pull the troops out.

MABRY: I think that's exactly right. And I that should be the issue, that should be the point McCain should be making, not this point about "talking to dictators" -- quote, unquote -- because it was Condoleezza Rice, actually, this president's secretary of state, who was responsible for the second term being so very different from the first term of this president, who actually wanted to talk to North Korea, who actually said, with conditions, mind you, let's talk to Iran for the first time in more than 25 years.

COOPER: Ed, I have got to ask you about Governor Huckabee's joke today, which he apologized for relatively quickly, about Obama. Did it surprise you or...

ROLLINS: Well, he has a great sense of humor. He's always throwing out quick quips. Sometimes, humor doesn't work as well in black and white the next day. And I'm sure he meant no harm, and certainly apologized. He's not a mean man. So, even a missed joke is not meant to hurt anybody. So, I think he's very sorry.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: Anderson, I have to say, I'm sure he didn't mean it. I'm sure Ed Rollins was about that.

But to joke about guns and Barack Obama is the single most tasteless thing one can do in American politics. And I'm sure Ed agrees with that.



We are going to have to leave it there.

David Gergen, Ed Rollins, Marcus Mabry, good to have you on again. Thank you.

Coming up: the one subject the Obama campaign says it hasn't brought up and the McCain says that they have brought up, John McCain's age. He's 71, which says one thing. He has got a 96-year- old mother, which says another. What do doctors say? We will examine the age factor up close.

Then later: Warren Jeffs' day in court, and new information that the government's case involving hundreds of FLDS kids may be falling apart.

"Crime and Punishment" -- tonight on 360.



J. MCCAIN: I have some news for Senator Obama. Talking, not even with soaring rhetoric, unconditional, in unconditional meetings with the man who calls Israel a stinking corpse, and arms terrorists who kill Americans, will not convince Iran to give up its nuclear program. It is reckless.


COOPER: John McCain today not sounding at all like someone who, dare we say it, has lost his bearings.

That phrase uttered by Barack Obama angered the McCain camp, which said Obama was taking a cheap shot at the senator's age. Obama says he was not.

But John McCain is just a few months shy of his 72nd birthday. Barack Obama is barely 47, which makes it an interesting matchup and inevitably raises the question, is John McCain too old to be president? We're going to be checking the facts tonight up close.

Here's 360 Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some campaign hiking in the Washington State wilderness for the man who could become the oldest person ever to be sworn in as a first-time president.

J. MCCAIN: I look forward to, as I have said several times, bringing my 96-year-old mother with me everywhere I go, in fact, maybe take her on a couple of hikes.


TUCHMAN: John McCain, who would be 72 on Inauguration Day, likes to remind voters about the vibrancy of his mother, who starred in a campaign ad with him.


ROBERTA WRIGHT MCCAIN, MOTHER OF SENATOR JOHN J. MCCAIN: I think he will make a wonderful president. Well, he's not perfect.

Did I say that?

J. MCCAIN: Doesn't pay enough attention his mother.


TUCHMAN: The humor is an attempt to deflect attention from what could be a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a valid issue, and it's an inescapable issue.

TUCHMAN: A poll this week shows that almost four in 10 Americans are uncomfortable about someone becoming president at age 72. This past November, a New Hampshire high school student actually asked McCain if he was worried he might die in office.

J. MCCAIN: And thanks for the question, you little jerk.


TUCHMAN: Another try at humor, but the issue keeps coming up.

"Newsweek" columnist Anna Quindlen wrote: "The senator's pursuit of the presidency reminds me a bit of those woman who decide to have a baby in their late 50s. The impulse is understandable, the goal possible, but, looking at all the facts and the actuarial tables, is it really sensible?"

And what was Barack Obama referring to when he criticized statements McCain made?

OBAMA: For him to toss out comments like, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.

TUCHMAN: Obama claims he was not referring to McCain's age.

QUESTION: Senator, as this campaign goes on, do you believe it's fair for your age to be an issue in the campaign?

J. MCCAIN: Anything is fair.


J. MCCAIN: This is a -- this isn't beanbag. And, look, it was a question that was raised in the primaries. I out-campaigned and outdid my opponents, at least in the eyes of the majority of Republican voters. I look forward to that.

TUCHMAN: But the director of the University of Washington Institute on Aging says McCain's history of skin cancer and his physical and emotional wounds from Vietnam have to all be considered, along with his age.

(on camera): What are the possibilities that John McCain, at 72, can be as sharp as John McCain when he was 62 or 52?

ASUMAN KIYAK, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON INSTITUTE ON AGING: Biologically, it's not possible. I mean, he could still be the most active person, both physically and cognitively. But, biologically, we just decline.

TUCHMAN: The oldest person to serve as president of the United States was Ronald Reagan, who left office when he was 77. If John McCain makes it to the White House and serves two full terms, he would be 80 years old.

(voice-over): Leading a panel discussion on climate change, John McCain listens to a Boy Scout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can bring a -- kind of a young local guy percent perspective to this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... this panel.

J. MCCAIN: We need that, obviously.


TUCHMAN: No sign that John McCain is defensive about his age -- at least yet.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, North Bend, Washington.


COOPER: I think he could out-hike me, though.

A lot of other stories to cover tonight -- a new terror tape from Osama bin Laden appears on the Internet. We have got late details coming up.

Also, a 360 dispatch from China's earthquake zone, what some are calling a miracle amid the rubble.

Then, a live update from the trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and new evidence that the custody case against his church may be in jeopardy. That's tonight's "Crime and Punishment" segment -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: New evidence in the case against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs -- details coming up in tonight's "Crime and Punishment" segment.

But, first, Erica Hill has a 360 bulletin -- Erica. ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a new audio recording attributed to Osama bin Laden calls for liberating Palestine and says it should be the goal of every Muslim. That message, which comes as Israel marks its 60th anniversary, was released online.

Saudi Arabia turning down President Bush's plea for more oil production, saying they just don't see the demand. Mr. Bush asked for the increase to help lower oil prices. Oil today, though, hit a record $127 a barrel, before settling at a new record close of $126.29.

A 5-year-old behind the wheel -- incredibly, no one was hurt. The little lead foot managed to start his grandma's truck, even though the key was not in the ignition. He hit the gas, sideswiped a car twice, before ramming a fence and plunging down an embankment. Amazingly, he got away with just bumps and bruises.

COOPER: Amazing nobody else was hurt.

HILL: Isn't that incredible?

COOPER: Yikes.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

HILL: And how do these little kids reach the pedals?


COOPER: That's a good question.


COOPER: Here's tonight's "Beat 360." You can cue the cheesy music, cue the singing cats.

This one shows actors...

HILL: Singing cats?

COOPER: Yes, I don't know.


COOPER: ... shows actors Jack Black and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of the movie "Kung Fu Panda" at the Cannes Film Festival.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, freelance writer Rebecca: "The giant panda welcomes waistlines to the endangered species list."


HILL: Oh, sadly, Rebecca is not far off. COOPER: Yes.

Think you can do better? Just go to Send us your entree, or entry. And we will tell you the -- did I say entree? I did.

HILL: Perhaps we should really limit the entrees, given the waistline issue.



I liked the gongs there.


COOPER: Yes, very panda-related.

All right.


HILL: There we go.


COOPER: Very good.

All right, up next: "Crime and Punishment" -- fallen polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs on trial in Arizona. Our Gary Tuchman was inside the courtroom. He will take us there.

Also ahead, the more than 400 kids removed from that polygamist compound in Texas, well, they're going to get their days in court starting on Monday. But, tonight, we have new information about the state's case that some say could send the kids back to the ranch. Is the case falling apart? -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight, there's a familiar face, Warren Jeffs, of course, the self-proclaimed prophet of God, and leader of the polygamist FLDS Church, is making news today.

Jeffs was in an Arizona court this afternoon. He's already convicted in Utah, of course, but he's charged in Arizona with performing child bride marriages in that state. He's also accused of sexual misconduct and another count involving incest.

Want to get the very latest, today's -- on today's hearings. CNN's Gary Tuchman is at the court. He joins us again -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, hello to you.

It's the first time that we've seen Warren Jeffs in person since the raid on his ranch in Texas six weeks ago. He will be standing trial here in Mojave County, Arizona. Today was a status hearing, and we learned that the raid in Texas and his legal troubles in Arizona might have a dramatic link.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): In normally quiet Kingdom (ph), Arizona, large police and security presence, preparing for polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' arrival into the county courthouse. In an unusual maneuver, sheriff's deputies hold up cubicle dividers to try to shield Jeffs from our cameras. But we see him anyway, in a military-style bullet-proof vest with cuffs around his wrists and legs.

Jeffs has already been convicted of being an accomplice to rape in a Utah court in connection with his performing marriages of underaged girls to older men. He now faces similar charges in Arizona.

Cameras were not allowed in this court. But at least a dozen of his followers were, and they heard prosecutors divulge they have evidence from the raid of Jeffs' ranch in Texas that they wish to use against him in Arizona.

Jeffs' attorney seemed to be fairly angry about that, and he said bring it on.

MIKE PICCARRETA, WARREN JEFFS' ATTORNEY: If Texas comes here we're going to expose illegal behavior in Texas, unconstitutional searches and possibly criminal behavior on behalf of Texas state officials. We're looking forward to showing that.

TUCHMAN: In previous court appearances Jeffs looked emaciated and sleepy. Once he drooled on himself. Authorities in Utah say he also tried commit suicide in jail.

(on camera) But on this day in court he looked well fed and not as pale. He had a big grin on his face as he turned back to his followers several times, who looked back at him with adoring smiles.

(voice-over) Jeffrey Brown is the deputy director of the jail where Jeffs is now residing.

JEFFREY BROWN, JAIL DEPUTY DIRECTOR: We have to keep him in an isolation area, mainly because of his notoriety. But other than that, he gets his reading materials. He gets his three squares a day and been going pretty good like that.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And he's eating his food?


TUCHMAN: And not causing trouble?

BROWN: Not at all.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jeffs' attorneys want a grand jury to review the case in Arizona. If the judge allows that it would delay a trial, which has not yet been scheduled.


COOPER: Gary, he's been in jail for two years now. He could be in jail for a lot more. Do his followers still consider him the leader of the church?

TUCHMAN: There's a lot of speculation, Anderson, that once he was sentenced and in jail for a long time, his followers would find a new leader. But everyone we talked to, just last week, we were in loyal followers' homes, talking to people. They all say he is still their leader; he is still their prophet.

And by the way, Anderson, Warren Jeffs in court today, and his 12 followers who were also in the courtroom had nothing at all to say to us about their feelings about this raid.

COOPER: No surprise there, I guess. Gary, thanks.

Jeffs is in Arizona. The so-called elite members of his sect are in Texas. And so are hundreds of kids removed from their polygamous compound. They're all at the center of that custody battle between the state and the church that we've been covering. And their next court showdown begins this Monday. And as you'll see, the state's case may be running into big trouble.

"Uncovering America," here's CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The allegations of child sexual abuse and forced marriages at this polygamist compound were shocking, the reported numbers even worse. Officials said more than half of the 53 girls taken into Texas state custody were pregnant, had children or both.

But two months after the raid on the YFZ Ranch in west Fairfax, the state's numbers seem to be coming apart.

SUSAN HAYS, ATTORNEY: Some of these young mothers learned that, if they were considered minors, they got to stay with their children. But if they were 18, the state was going take their children away from them. So what does a 19-year-old mother going to do? That's what's happened.

MATTINGLY: Two of those mothers recently gave birth. One was 18, the other 22. She spoke to Austin CNN affiliate KXAN.

LOUISA JESSOP, MEMBER OF FLDS CHURCH: I'm not really scared, because I know Heavenly Father will see us through. I would like to be with my children and my husband and live in a home where we can take care of them.

MATTINGLY: And an attorney for the sect says the number of true underaged mothers is very small.

ROD PARKER, FLDS SPOKESMAN: There are five actual minors out of the 464 who are either mothers or are alleged to be pregnant.

MATTINGLY (on camera): State officials say they have been frustrated, not getting clear answers when they ask about ages and try to match kids to their biological parents. DNA testing is still not complete.

They maintain they had no choice but to take all of the 400-plus children into custody. They've alleged that the sect had a practice of forcing underaged girls to marry older men, placing all of the girls at risk of abuse and all of the boys at risk of becoming abusers.

(voice-over) Judges will examine the case of each child individually, starting Monday. It's just the beginning of a process to determine how the kids might be allowed to go back to their families.

The state can demand a lot of conditions. It's possible families would even be asked to move away from the ranch and start a life on their own to show they are protecting their children from abuse.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Up next we'll have more on both the cases with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop.

Also ahead, a 360 dispatch from China. The anguish continues but also today what some are calling a miracle in the rubble.


COOPER: Solitary confinement, 23 hours a day in a cell. A far cry from the kingdom on earth Warren Jeffs envisioned for himself. The imprisoned polygamous leader is now standing trial in Arizona on new charges connected to the marriage of underaged brides.

At the same time members of his church will face off with the state of Texas next week, hoping to win back custody of the 464 kids taken from the FLDS compound. The case hinges on what's in the best interest of those kids.

Let's talk about the hearings in Texas and the trial of Jeffs in Arizona. Joining me are CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Carolyn Jessop, who fled Jeffs' polygamist sect and wrote about it in the book "Escape."

Jeff, we just heard David Mattingly's report that the state may ask families to leave the sect in order to get back their kids. Can they do that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They can. There are often conditions applied to custody. For example, the most common is you can have your child back if you get drug and alcohol counseling. That's something...

COOPER: This is a religious -- I mean, this is a religious choice, they would argue.

TOOBIN: Well, they would argue, but there is an issue of safety involved for the children. And the state could make the case that putting the children back in a situation where they're exposed to all that underaged sex, exposure to a predatory environment is so dangerous that you can't have your kid back unless you leave.

COOPER: Carolyn, do you think that being in the sect is inherently dangerous for any kid? And if so, what do you think a lot of these parents who choose between their kids and their -- what they say is their religion?

CAROLYN JESSOP, AUTHOR, "ESCAPE": Well, Anderson, you have to understand the reason I chose to leave this sect five years ago was because I believed my children were at risk. Things have -- you know, things changed, and I felt like -- that my life didn't go in a good place by living the religion.

And then the other element is there are women involved in this case that are hardliners. I know them personally. I think they would choose their religion over their children. I mean, I think that's a very real fact. I think there are other women, though, that may, if there's the right type of services and help available, they would choose their children.

COOPER: You know, it's interesting, Carolyn, because what a lot of folks haven't focused on in this is the so-called Lost Boys, these often teenaged boys who have been cast out, because there's not enough women to go around, and they want the older men in the church to have access to the women.

In effect, then, parents have already given up their kids, in many cases, with these teenaged boys.

C. JESSOP: That's true. They're fighting for their children here, saying, "We're good parents."

But if people would just look at the results of what this religion has done to the young men in this community, you know, there's a -- there's a substantial argument there, where you're putting 14-, 16-year-old boys on the streets with no parental supervision and telling them that -- that the prophet has rejected them and that they are conscendants [SIC] to hell, basically. Don't ever, you know, contact us again.

COOPER: Jeff, one of the things that was recovered is this so- called bishops list which kind of shows the familial connections between everyone. I guess five of the wives on the list are 16 years old, underage by Texas law. Do we know how strong the state's case is?

TOOBIN: Well, we don't know whether that document, the bishop's list, is even accurate. I think the state will have a hard time saying to a judge, "Trust the bishop's lit." We don't know whether it's reliable, how it was compiled, whether even the people inside the compound know precisely how old the kids are.

You know, I think it's important to emphasize, when the state takes a child away from a parent, that's a very, very big step. They usually require a great deal of evidence.

Here, you have 400 kids taken away, something that's never happened before in American history. So, I think the judge or the judges, since there are so many kids involved, are going say, "You know, your can't just paint with such a broad brush. You have to prove why each kid should be taken away, or I'm going to give the kid back."

COOPER: Carolyn, do we know, I mean, how accurate these family records are? Do you know?

C. JESSOP: Well, they were inaccurate in that there was a lot of information missing from when I looked at the records. There's substantial families that are not even on that list. So, there's -- there's information that's not there. Some of the information, I saw, to me looked accurate from what I'm aware of with the families.

COOPER: When you saw -- we saw Warren Jeffs in court today. He looks a lot healthier, frankly, than he did two years ago or the last time we saw him in court, which I guess was just a couple of -- couple of months ago. He looked gaunt originally then. How did he look to you?

C. JESSOP: He looked better. He looked a lot better than how he has looked in the past. And maybe his condition is improving.

COOPER: How -- how important -- the case against Warren Jeffs, it seems -- I mean, he's already in custody, but he faces many more years.

TOOBIN: Yes. I mean, he is not going anywhere any time soon. And, I think, you know, the states are now coordinating their efforts so that he can be beset with as many prosecutions at possible.

The government's believing that Jeffs on the outside foments the problem, not just with the individuals he's -- individuals he's around, but within this whole community, because he does seem to have a Svengali power over quite a lot of people.

COOPER: So fascinating. Jeffrey, thanks very much.

Carolyn Jessop, good to have you on the program, Carolyn. Thank you.

C. JESSOP: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next overwhelming grief, anguish but also incredible stories of survival. Today more students buried in the rubble for days, rescued actually alive. A 360 dispatch from the earthquake zone in China, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Remarkable pictures today out of China: 5-year-old boy pulled alive from a twisted pile of steel and concrete nearly four days after his kindergarten class was crushed in this week's massive earthquake.

But with each passing hour, the chances of finding more like him fade while the scope of the death and destruction come into even sharper focus. Rescue giving way to recovery on what is a heart- wrenching scale.

More on the effort as well as the occasional victory from Bill Neely, who filed this 360 dispatch. Though of course, first a warning: the images in this report can be very tough to watch.


BILL NEELY, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's just found her daughter, Suzette.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody can help me (ph).

NEELY: Nobody can help her, and she can't help Suzette.


NEELY: In the ruins of a school, every mother's horror. In this one, there are no rescue workers, only parents. She, too, has just found her son.

But today an astonishing discovery. Liu Jian-Tse (Ph) is pulled out after four days in the rubble of the school. His legs are broken, but he's alive. Just.

For most parents, the vigil at the school gate will be in vain. Many believe their children need not have died.

(on camera) The Chinese government now says it will investigate why so many badly-built schools collapsed and who is responsible. That statement suggests that education officials and builders may pay for so many deaths here with their own lives.

(voice-over) China's president saw a school today where 900 children died. Or saw what's left of it. He encouraged the rescue workers, and they need a lot of encouragement. Families are begging them to search their homes for relatives trapped inside.

They live on Oolong Street (ph), now the street of the dead, lined with 106 corpses today.

He chants a Buddhist prayer to guide the spirits of the dead towards heaven. The living need no guiding. They're getting out as fast as they can. This man, with his 78-year-old mother in a basket. They walked for days from mountain villages which have been flattened. China's countryside here is being emptied in a new long march. But the ground beneath them is not safe. Suddenly, there's an aftershock. They run in terror. None of these buildings is safe. This is an exodus of overwhelming fear.

The stench is overpowering, the death toll rising, and hundreds of thousands are on the move. They're homeless, almost hopeless, but they're out of the rubble where tonight, perhaps, only a few remain alive.


COOPER: It is too terrible to contemplate. That is ITV's Bill Neely, reporting.

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

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Burma's military junta says nearly 78,000 people are dead, and two weeks after Cyclone Nargis struck, another 56,000 people are still missing.

Responding to diplomatic pressure, Burma's leaders have now finally invited diplomats to tour the hardest-hit areas. That will happen tomorrow. But as for the relief workers, the junta is still keeping them out.

Back home, as crude oil hits another record high, the Energy Department says it will stop filling the nation's Strategic Oil Reserve beginning in July. The goal here is to bring prices down. Advocates say it could knock as much as 24 cents off the price of a gallon of gas.

And Starbucks new logo, which is based on the original from a couple decades ago, drawing fire from a Christian group which is now calling for a boycott of the chain because the new logo features a topless mermaid.

COOPER: Really? I can't even really see it.

HILL: Well, apparently, some people have, and they are not happy.

COOPER: There you go. All right. We'll wait until we hear from the mermaids.

All right, sit tight, Erica. Time for the tonight's "Beat 360." That's where we put a picture on the 360 blog, ask you to come up with a caption that's better than our own, play this ridiculous music.

Tonight's picture features actors Jack Black and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of the movie "Kung Fu Panda" in Cannes. Is it "Cannes" or "Cans"? I never understood.

HILL: I think it depends. No "S." Definitely no "S."

COOPER: Really? HILL: I can tell you that much.

COOPER: All right.

HILL: Never pronounce the last letter in French. It's a rule.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: All right. Our staff winner is freelance writer Rebecca. Her entry is, "The Giant Panda welcomes waistlines to the Endangered Species List."


HILL: I like it.

COOPER: Tonight's viewer winner is Lloyd in Texas. His caption: "Whoa! Brad really let himself go with the 'sympathy pregnancy'."


COOPER: Check out the other ideas at Feel free, of course, to play along.

"The Shot" is next. What do you get when you combine a Stephen Spielberg masterpiece and CNN's John King? The answer coming up at the top -- coming up in just a second, actually.

Then, at the top of the hour, we'll take a look at politics on the attack. Barack Obama and John McCain the latest on their heated exchange, the general election. Well, it began today, next.


COOPER: Time for "The Shot". This one from guys at the comedy Web site They spliced video of CNN's own John king with the electronic magic wall with the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Take a look. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope somebody is taking all this down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we say to each other?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John, this is a fascinating new development.


BLITZER: John, thanks.


HILL: Fantastic.

COOPER: Yes. You can see the whole version on It's very cleaver. And you -- of course, you can see the most recent "Shots" on our Web site,, where you can also see other segments from the program, read the blog and check out the "Beat 360" picture. The dress again -- or the address again is

Coming up at the top of the hour, mark your calendar: today sure looked like the beginning of the fall campaign, John McCain and Barack Obama exchanging body blows. In depth, in their own words, next.


COOPER: Tonight open season. Barack Obama, John McCain going at it like the general election has already begun. No 30-second sound bites from us, though. Tonight you'll hear what each has to say about the nation's security and talking with dictators at length, in their own words. Our political panel supplies the in-depth insight.

Also tonight, fallen prophet. New evidence in the case against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and new evidence that the government's case against the polygamous sect in Texas, where they took all those kids, that case may be unraveling.