Return to Transcripts main page


Towns Along Mississippi Brace For Floodwaters; Softening Michelle Obama

Aired June 18, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: surging water, rising water moving fast, as one by one, levees of the Mississippi River fail to measure up. We have the latest on where the next flooding could happen and live reports from two towns where the damage already is heartbreaking.
Also tonight, Cindy McCain takes aim at Michelle Obama again, questioning her remarks about America and, by inference, her patriotism, this as Michelle Obama appears on "The View" and appears to be undergoing a general election makeover. We will have the details.

And what you don't see in this picture: Muslim women, American women in head scarves, told they couldn't hit behind Obama and Gore at this televised campaign stop. Obama's apologized, but, tonight, there's outrage among many American Muslims. We will have the details.

But we begin, though, with the breaking news, not just the flooding, not just the failing levees, but the latest forecast of much more misery to come, day by day, levee by levee, town by town, home by home.

What we're looking at tonight, what you're seeing here is, for many, the worst flooding in a generation, and, for some, the chilling prospect of the worst flooding in 100 years. Multiple levees overtopped today. Sandbagging continues, as you see. Backbreaking, thankless work, it is, racing the clock, fighting the tide.

President Bush will be on the scene. So will John McCain, though not with President Bush. Barack Obama was helping sandbag in Illinois over the weekend. The question now, though, is where will the next wave of flooding hit, when, and how bad could it be?

Severe weather expert Chad Myers is following the breaking news -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The answer to that, Anderson, is probably in an agriculture area, thank goodness, rather than in a city. And I will tell you why in a second.

But, 48 hours ago, we were sitting here and we were really going to and talking to the Army Corps of Engineers. And they said, yes, we have a bunch of levees that are in trouble. But, if we put sandbags on top, we are going to be able to fix that. Well, clearly now, we know that that didn't happen. There was just too -- literally too much volume coming down the river in too many places to try to take care of, as we got this water coming over the top of the levees, and right into the Lima Lake District, right into Meyer, Illinois. And it's going to be one of those nights where we're watching these levees very closely, as the bubble of the top, the crest, rolls down the river.

Let's go back to the graphic for a second. We're going to Meyer, Illinois, because this town was completely inundated today. We're back into here -- about 20 people completely out of that town now. We also know there was another levee break near Indian Graves down near Quincy, Illinois, right there, but, again, mainly affecting the agricultural areas.

So, Anderson, what happens when a levee breaks? Well, you know what? That's actually, for some people, good news, but, for other people, is bad news. The blue line is what has happened. The green line is the forecast.

The blue line, the first break, was last night. Look at that. The line went down. That's when the river went down. The river went back up today. Another levee broke. That line went down again. That's what happens downriver as well.

The expected crests are not as high downriver, so, therefore, probably the expected devastation downriver not as great as well. The people that are affected, though, obviously great devastation to 25,000 acres flooded today, 60 people evacuated, and, as you said earlier, 24 people now dead in this flood.

COOPER: Unbelievable. Chad, thanks for that.

Federal aid is already pouring into the area to help places like Adams, Illinois, and one of dozens of counties now designated federal disaster areas. And you can see why from the pictures right there -- FEMA sending in 200,000 MREs and three millions bottles of water.

President Bush today requested nearly $2 billion in relief money. Legislation is working its way through Congress. Help may be on the way. But the hurt and the sheer scope of it all is immense.

CNN's Dan Simon spent the day in Hannibal, Missouri. He's in Quincy, Illinois, tonight. 360's Gary Tuchman is in Palo, Iowa.

Let's go first to Dan Simon.

Dan, what's the latest?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we're at the Quincy Civic Center, which is normally used for things like concerts and car shows. Now it's the staging ground for a massive sandbagging operation. It's really been an incredible response, more than 5,000 volunteers over the last several days.

A lot of what you are seeing being made here, these, sandbags, they are winding up in communities all over the place, including in Hannibal, Missouri, where we were earlier today. Take a look.


SIMON (voice-over): This is not a lake. It's the filthy, flooded waters of the Mississippi River.

OFFICER LOU AMIGHETTI, MISSOURI STATE WATER PATROL: There's just too many hazards. There's too much debris. And there's a lot of biohazard, such as sewage, electrical components, and oil and gasoline, in the water right now.

SIMON: Believe it or not, these water patrol officers also found swimmers trying to cool off.

AMIGHETTI: We just asked them to get out of the water, and we explained to them the dangers of being in the water. And that's about it. We just tell them to stay out of it.

SIMON: This is an industrial section of Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain. It's usually a popular tourist spot, but no tourists on this trip. The officers took us on a boat to see what the floods have done here.

A towing company, restaurant, railroad tracks are all under water. It happened when a surge of water backed up into a nearby creek. As bad as it looks now, it could get a whole lot worse. The levees could be the next to go. But the town is optimistic.

(on camera): We're on the Mississippi River. And the river's not supposed to crest for a couple more days. But you can see what the town of Hannibal has done to prepare for that eventuality. That's the levee off there in the distance. And you can see they have put thousands of sandbags on top of it to prevent the water from overtaking the levee.

(voice-over): An up-close view shows the effort to keep that levee intact. Some communities were not so lucky. Just north of here, in the tiny town of Meyer, Illinois, a levee gave way this morning.

CNN producer Paul Vercammen got the bird's-eye view.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Meyer, Illinois, small town of just about 30 people, you can see much of it under water today because of that breach in the levee.

SIMON: Back in Hannibal, the river surge rolls on.

OFFICER ROMAN SOEBBING, MISSOURI STATE WATER PATROL: We're out here to keep an eye on the levees and keep people safe and make sure people stay off the rivers.


COOPER: Dan, where you are right now, in Quincy, the sandbagging operation has really prove to be a huge response. They're making sandbags for the whole area, aren't they?

SIMON: Yes, for the whole area.

This has been pretty much an around-the-clock operation. Think about it. It's 9:00 local time, and you still have a lot of people here. They have made over a million sandbags over the last few days, about 200,000 sandbags a day.

And I have got to tell you, this is not easy work. Each one of these things, this is about 35, 40 pounds. So, you get a pretty good workout doing this. I just spoke to this guy over here, Richard. He's been out here for the last six hours doing this labor. It's incredible.

COOPER: Neighbors helping out neighbors.

Dan, thanks for that.

In the own of Palo, Iowa, the water is gone. But so are homes and jobs and memories.

Details from 360's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Betty and Mel Thompson have lived the same modest house in Palo, Iowa, their whole married life. That will now change.

BETTY THOMPSON, RESIDENT OF PALO, IOWA: The first thing you have got to do is cry, just cry and get it all out. Then you're able to go on.

TUCHMAN: But now it's a much different place they have returned to, after evacuating Palo, along with every other one of the 900 residents, because Palo was cut off from the outside world by the floodwaters. The water has now receded.

And the people of Palo are checking out their houses in a town that now has checkpoints and is patrolled by military police.

(on camera): How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?


TUCHMAN: Could you have ever imagined, in your 76 years, something like this happening to you?

M. THOMPSON: I guess not. Worked all my life to get it, and now it's pretty much gone.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Their televisions, their computers, their memories. They moved everything out of basement, but the first floors of almost all Palo's houses were flooded, too.

(on camera): Do you think you can stay in your home? B. THOMPSON: I don't want to. I don't want to.

TUCHMAN: Because it's just not the same place that you knew and loved?

B. THOMPSON: It's not going to be the same place. And I don't think we will ever get the smell out of it, no matter how much we disinfect, how much we power-wash. The smell is always going to be there.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Downtown Palo looks like an abandoned movie set. Power is still out. The town is still largely uninhabitable.

Jeff Beauregard is the town's mayor pro tem.

(on camera): If you had to put a percentage on it, how many of these town's homes and businesses have been damaged?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Iowa's only nuclear plant is just outside Palo. It wasn't damaged and is still operating. But the town's infrastructure was damaged. This roadway was split in half by rushing floodwaters that haven't receded here yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's a road that goes through Palo, Iowa, and Center Point, Iowa. And it's a connection to Interstate 380.

TUCHMAN (on camera): It's amazing, what has happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just -- it's just unbelievable. It's devastating for us as a county.

TUCHMAN: Nobody ever remembers this town flooding like this. Most Palo residents don't have flood insurance, even though, for some here, it would cost as little as $300 a year. The town's only day care center was heavily damaged.

Deanna Garbers says she can't afford to rebuild it.

DEANNA GARBERS, RESIDENT OF PALO, IOWA: If I could sit on the floor and play dolls with the girls or build LEGO buildings with the boys, everything was OK. But I don't have that anymore. I don't have it anymore.

TUCHMAN: In Palo, Iowa, the future is now uncertain.

B. THOMPSON: We have each other, and we have faith. I don't know why the lord did this to us, but I still have faith in him.


COOPER: Gary, what are the Thompsons going to do now? Are they giving on moving back to their home? TUCHMAN: Well, right now, Anderson, Mel and Betty are staying at one of their child's houses outside of Palo. But, ultimately, they think they will rent a house or buy a house if they can afford it, but most likely outside of Palo.

And some upsetting news I just learned about an hour ago, a few hours after we spent the day with the Thompsons, Mel got his finger stuck in a slat in his garage door. It's an electric garage door, and the power in out. He was pulling it down. He got his finger stuck. He cut it very severely. So, right now, as we speak, Mel Thompson is in the emergency room.

COOPER: Oh, man.

TUCHMAN: So, Mel, if you're watching, we hope you feel better.

COOPER: Yes, certainly do.

Gary, thanks for that.

We're going to, of course, be watching any late developments throughout this hour.

I'm blogging as well. To join the conversation, go to

Up next: a new volley in the war of words between two would-be first ladies -- Cindy McCain taking a new shot at Michelle Obama's patriotism, Michelle Obama trying to win over the women of "The View," today. We will have details on both.

Also, what is wrong with this picture? According to some Muslim Americans, a lot, not for what it shows, but what it doesn't show, namely, Muslim American -- namely, Muslim American women in head scarves. We will look at the controversy and cut through the spin with our political panel.

Plus, family and friends paying tribute to Tim Russert -- tonight, a look at his silent killer, heart disease. Renowned surgeon Dr. Wayne Isom with how you can prevent a heart attack -- when 360 continues.



MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I think the one thing that a nominee earns is the right to pick the vice president that they think will best reflect their vision of the country. And I'm just glad I will have nothing to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. You have no say-so whatsoever?


(CROSSTALK) M. OBAMA: And I don't want it.



COOPER: Michelle Obama on "The View" today, part of a reintroduction, you might say -- some would call it a makeover -- trying to soften her image for the general election. We're going to show you more from that appearance in a moment, but, first, a sign that Michelle Obama is still very much a lightning rod.

In a new interview, Cindy McCain today discussed Michelle Obama's past comments about America. And both candidates criticized the other for allowing their wives to be put under the microscope.

Senator Barack Obama fired the first shot in today's stand-by- your woman showdown.

CNN's Tom Foreman has the "Raw Politics."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many families feud, but they better not on the campaign trail. That was the pointed message from Barack Obama to John McCain, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think families are -- are off-limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue. And I -- and if I saw people doing that, I would speak out against it. And the fact that I haven't seen that from John McCain, I think, is a deep disappointment.

FOREMAN: Obama was talking about attacks on his wife, Michelle, questioning her loyalty to the country. But the McCain camp fired back promptly, charging that the Democratic National Committee openly criticized Cindy McCain for not including enough information when she released her tax returns.

In a written statement, McCain's campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign. And he has stated that position frequently. Unfortunately, when the Democratic National Committee was attacking Mrs. McCain, Senator Obama was not strong enough to stand up and speak out."

This is just the latest in the battle of the spouses. The Tennessee GOP put out an ad in May suggesting Michelle Obama was unpatriotic for saying this was the first time she was really proud to be an American.

And "Good Morning America" is now promoting an interview tomorrow with Cindy McCain, where, as she has before, she once again slams Michelle Obama over that comment: "Everyone has their own experience. I don't know why she said what she said. All I know is that I have always been proud of my country." (on camera): Traditionally, the families of politicians have been somewhat off-limits, depending, of course, on how much they campaign and, frankly, what they say about the opposition.

(voice-over): But this is hardly a traditional election. So, no matter how many times a candidate says:


B. OBAMA: But I also think these folks should lay off my wife.


FOREMAN: The family feuds may continue.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Hmm. It certainly seems like it.

On "The View" this morning, Michelle Obama clearly wanted to try and show viewers the kind of woman she says she really is, as opposed to the way she's often been portrayed. It was the first step in what you might call her re-launch, on a popular show whose viewers, mostly women, are a key demo her husband needs to win over.

Here's CNN's Randi Kaye up close.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conservative blogs have called her an angry black woman, even accused her, without evidence, of using the word "whitey."

One way to tackle ugly rumors on the blogs is with the ladies of "The View."


M. OBAMA: I have to be greeted properly. Fist bump, please.


KAYE: For nearly an hour, the Mrs. who might be first lady talked about everything from politics to pantyhose. No, she doesn't wear them. She also defended her now famous comments critics called unpatriotic.


M. OBAMA: Of course I'm proud of my country. Nowhere but in America could my story be possible.


KAYE: Her story is something you will be hearing more of. Her stump speech is getting a makeover, as the campaign attempts to reposition her.


M. OBAMA: I'm a girl that grew up on the South Side of Chicago. My father was a working-class guy.


KAYE: Less controversy, less heartache for the campaign.


M. OBAMA: People aren't used to strong women.


KAYE: Political expert Larry Sabato.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: If you're a candidate for first lady, probably the best thing you can be is innocuous.

KAYE: Sabato says softer settings, like "The View" and the style section, are good venues for avoiding controversy.

SABATO: The idea is to let that candidate for first lady get known in a softer form, have the personality come out, have the roles as mother and as wife come out, be known. That's going to be attractive to a lot of women and men.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Barack take out the garbage still or no?





KAYE: A new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll finds about half of those questioned view Michelle Obama favorably, including 54 percent of the women. Nearly nine in 10 African-American women polled view her positively, compared to about half of white women.

(on camera): As audience members filed out of "The View"'s studio, many told me they were impressed with Michelle Obama. They thought she was funny and relaxed. They felt like they got to know her.

M. OBAMA: My name is Michelle Obama.

KAYE (voice-over): Mrs. Obama shared, she's taking cues from first lady Laura Bush.


M. OBAMA: There's a reason why people like her, is because she doesn't sort of, you know, fuel the fire.


SABATO: You do not want a first lady candidate taking any positions that are harder-edged than her husband, because it raises questions about who's really going to be governing in the White House.

KAYE: Instead, Mrs. Obama shared stories about her girls and the struggles of parenting during a presidential campaign.

SHARON BYRD, "THE VIEW" AUDIENCE MEMBER: Made her softer, a softer image. That's the way I thought it was anyway. So, it was good.

KAYE (on camera): Does Michelle Obama need softening?

BYRD: Maybe a little. I think we all do. She stands up for what she believes in. And her family's first. And I give her high praise.

KAYE (voice-over): Exactly what the Obama campaign wants to hear. Barack Obama needs women in his corner. Michelle Obama may help get them there.

SABATO: The less she says and does, the better it will be. The less she is on the front pages, the less she is profiled, the better it will be for the Obama campaign.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.



Well, just ahead, we will dig deeper with our panel, see what they think on the battle over the running mates.

Plus, an apology from the Obama campaign for its treatment of two Muslim women. Why -- why didn't they want Muslim Americans in head scarves to sit behind Obama in a crowd at a televised event? We will have details and the fallout.

Also ahead, remembering Tim Russert. His memorial service was filled with memories and music and some magical moments. World renowned heart surgeon Dr. Wayne Isom will join us to talk about the silent killer that felled Tim Russert and what you can do to help your heart.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he give you any advice, Michelle?

M. OBAMA: Because he was on the show, and, "Be good."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No pressure. No pressure.


COOPER: That was Michelle Obama this morning on "The View," where she began to reintroduce herself, you might say, to Americans, an attempt to soften her image for the general election.

In addition to family, food and even pantyhose, she talked about the comment that her critics have used to paint her as unpatriotic.

Let's dig deeper with our panel, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, Mary Frances Berry, former head of the Civil Rights Commission and a registered independent who hasn't yet thrown her support behind any candidate, and Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins.

Candy, Cindy McCain once again asking out loud today why Michelle Obama made the "really proud" comments. Now, we don't know, in this "GMA" interview, whether she was asked specifically about it, or if she just brought it up on her own. But is this a talking point we're going to be hearing about more from, from the McCain campaign?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, what's interesting about a campaign in 2008 is, the candidates don't have to bring it up. Even the candidates' wives don't have to bring it.

It is a talking point. It is out there. It comes up on talk radio. It is on the Internet. It's all over. I mean, the genie's out of this bottle, and they stay out of the bottle. I don't know. I mean, it makes a difference. If Cindy McCain was asked about it, then that's really not on her. She has to reply. She has already said something about it, so she can't take that back.

If it was put out there, well, obviously, they do see the comparative of these two wives as something that advantages the Republicans. I mean, that's clearly what they think, because, obviously, they have gone to Michelle Obama on some things.

COOPER: It's an important point you raise, because we don't know whether she was specifically asked about it. That's not in the release from "GMA," which this thing is going to -- I guess going to air tomorrow.

Ed, I mean, you have worked on campaigns before. Is it -- it has got to be a tricky thing trying to figure out what to do with a candidate's spouse, because, in many ways, they're a great ambassador for the candidate. They appear in places the candidate can't appear. And, yet, you don't want them too far out in front.

ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Everything I know about -- about her is, she's an extraordinary woman. She was one of the first African-Americans to go to Princeton. Her brother was one of the great basketball players at Princeton, one of the great basketball coaches in America today, college basketball. And she came from a different upbringing.

She really grew up in the black parts of Chicago. But I think the bottom line is, because there's so little known about him, that people want to know who influences him. And she obviously made a slight mistake early on in the campaign. And I think, at the end of the day, there's a lot of differences between these two candidates. And that's what this race ought to be about. They ought to be arguing about their different positions, as opposed to their spouses and who they are.

COOPER: Mary Frances Berry, how do you think she did on "The View" today? And do you see a change in her? Or do you think that's likely in the coming weeks and months?

MARY FRANCES BERRY, FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION CHAIRWOMAN: I think she did very well. I think the press people had prepared her very well not to make any slips.

She even softened her his image a bit, when she talked about families and about parenting and about there are many different kinds of families, not just father-headed families. I mean, she was very good on that.

I think, with Michelle Obama, what has to happen is, people have to become comfortable with the idea of seeing her as first lady in their minds. Once they get it in their minds that they can imagine this woman, who is sort of nontraditional, compared to Cindy McCain, in the White House, then she will be OK. And I think she will.

I think getting Stephanie Cutter to be the person who works with her was a fabulous idea, since she's experienced and all the rest of it. And I think people will become comfortable with her. I don't think she made any missteps today at all. She seemed down to earth and she seemed quite comfortable.

COOPER: Ed, though, how does it work? I mean, do you say -- somebody works with you. Does that means somebody says, well, look, smile this way or don't say this? Or how does it work, Ed?

ROLLINS: The reality is, you have to take who that person is. You can't do a personality transplant. You take her strengths. And you say to her, now, be careful on these kinds of things. These may be misinterpreted.

And you basically try and have someone just to remind her all the time that you're always on. And, sometimes, people have a sense of humor. It doesn't come off well. I'm not saying in her particular case. But you basically have to just be -- be a reminder. Whoever she is, is who she has to be, because in a long campaign, whoever she is, is going to come out.

COOPER: It's going to come out anyway.


CROWLEY: I mean, the other thing is, Anderson, is -- is that...

COOPER: Go ahead.

CROWLEY: ... this isn't so much of a say this, do that, as a change in emphasis.

So, it's not out there, talking about, you know, how the country has moved monumentally from being one thing and now being another. It's saying -- it's trying to relate to voters: We're not someone that doesn't understand your life. I'm a mother. Here's this funny story about when I was trying to juggle my job and my children. I'm a wife. Does he take out the trash? Well, you know, not so much.

She has to become relatable. And I think, to a -- at a certain level, she was not relatable. And they're trying to get her to show a different side of herself.

BERRY: And they don't want her to be an issue in the campaign.

Once she is accepted as just another mom, a well-educated woman whose -- who can be first lady, and then she shouldn't say anything that makes herself an issue, and just be quiet about the issues from then on, and I think she will be fine.

COOPER: We are going to have more from our panel coming up. We have got a lot more to discuss.

Up next: major new polling that shows a surprising lead for Barack Obama in some of the most important states in November, and an ironic twist on his so-called Muslim problem -- only, this time, it's not people mistakenly thinking he is Muslim. Instead, his campaign is being accused of insensitivity towards American Muslims. We're going to explore that, tell you what happened.

And later: how you can head off the kind of silent killer that took the life of Tim Russert -- information that could save your life.


COOPER: On the trail tonight, new polling suggesting a lot of work ahead for John McCain in states that might have expected would be ripe for the picking. Of course, it's early days at this point.

Instead, the latest Quinnipiac poll has him trailing Barack Obama by 12 points in Pennsylvania. In Florida, long thought to be Republican territory, he's down by four to Obama. And, in Ohio, the battlegroundest battleground state of all, his opponent leads by six percentage points. Now, there's a new problem, though, for Barack Obama, in Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim American population in America. It centers on what you don't see in this video from a televised rally Monday night in Detroit.

Several women in head scarves were reportedly told they couldn't sit behind Obama, so that they wouldn't be seen on television. The reason? Obama volunteers apparently thought it would be bad for the senator's image. About one in 10 Americans still believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim. He's not, of course.

But, tonight, it seems, he may have a new Muslim controversy on his hands.

Details from CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Generally, the people sitting behind a candidate come to listen, and end up part of the picture. Selected by young staffers or volunteers to project the right TV image.

So, when two, young, Muslim women, wearing head scarves, were told recently they could not sit behind Barack Obama at this rally, it raised questions in their community.

DAWUD WALID, CAIR MICHIGAN DIRECTOR: It speaks towards a bigger issue, as far as the pervasive Islamophobia that is in our society, that two Muslim females would be turned away by an African-American female, because they felt that just their mere presence behind the senator would cause great political liability to him.

CROWLEY: The two separate incidents involving two different women were first reported by, which quote one of the women, saying she was told she could not sit behind Obama, quote, "Because of the political climate, and what's going on in the world."

The Obama campaign apologized, saying the actions of the volunteers were offensive and not reflective of the candidate. Aides also sent out several pictures showing Obama with women and men in Muslim dress.

Apology accepted, but it brings up an issue many want Obama and John McCain to talk about.

WALID: We would like to hear both of the senators to say it clearly to the American public, that Muslims and the Islamic faith should not be demonized.

CROWLEY: It's a continuing challenge, for Barack Obama, who's name and mixed-race heritage, put him in the crosswinds of cultural divides: black and white, Christian, Jew and Muslim.

Anonymous e-mails meant to damage his bid endlessly looped through cyberspace. He spoke about them recently at a Florida synagogue, as he addressed doubts in the politically potent Jewish community.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you get one of these e-mails that says I'm a Muslim, not true. Never been a Muslim. This is just stuff that is designed to make people suspicious.

CROWLEY: But in that denial, he is hit by an opposing current. Criticism that Obama does not address the prejudice inherent in the rumors.

WALID: He has affirmed his Christianity, but he has not explicitly, to our knowledge, come out and say, "Well, this Islamic phobia is wrong. It's un-American. And even if I were a Muslim, if I still held the same values and the same political stances, what difference would it make?"

CROWLEY: Obama does not always walk both sides of this line. But he has, on several occasions, made that point.

OBAMA: It's not just that I'm a Christian and these e-mails are misinforming people. They're also feeding on anti-Muslim sentiment, and that's also wrong.

CROWLEY: It is, in the end, hard to make mystery, without being caught in the crosswinds.


COOPER: Much more with Candy Crowley and the continuing challenge for the Obama campaign. We're "Digging Deeper" with the best political team on television.

And later, a tribute to Tim. Family, friends, journalists and politicians all taking part today, in a tribute to Tim Russert. We'll have details on that.

Plus, part of his legacy may be raising awareness about causes and how to prevent a heart attack. That and more when 360 continues.


COOPER: We're talking tonight about Muslims, Barack Obama, sensitivity and spin. About Obama volunteers keeping women wearing head scarves out of the background during Senator Obama's rally in Detroit on Monday. The campaign apologized today.

"Digging Deeper," we're back with our panel: CNN's Candy Crowley, former civil rights official and political independent Mary Frances Berry, and Ed Rollins, GOP strategist and CNN contributor.

Candy, do we know if this was just a stupid mistake by some volunteers? Or do the volunteers get told it by someone else inside the campaign?

CROWLEY: It's hard to pull that string and find the end to it. But the campaign says, and two women have accepted the apology, saying this does not reflect how Barack Obama feels. Nor does it reflect campaign policy.

But you know, two volunteers in two separate incidences, to tell two different women that they can't get on the stage because of their head scarves, seems to me didn't just sort of come from a volunteer. But it's hard to track it. It may have come from a young aide on the ground, who is aware -- you know, vaguely aware of what they want up on the stage.

What they want up on the stage, all of them, is diversity. And again, they all do this. This is not something special that Barack Obama does. I mean, Hillary Clinton, you remember, went from an Iowa backdrop of really sort of older Clinton administration people. And by the time we saw her in New Hampshire, she was standing up with all these fresh, young faces behind her. So this is -- you know, this is a political art here.

But it does seem like it came from someplace else, because it's hard to imagine that two of these people, separately, dreamed it up on their own.

COOPER: Ed, would it have been damaging for Barack Obama to be seen with these women in the background?

ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, absolutely not. I mean, this was a stupid mistake. Someone tried to over think whatever the situation was, and they tried to get the visual right. And they obviously screwed up.

COOPER: You don't think it goes any higher than just the volunteers?

ROLLINS: No, I think it was a stupid mistake. And obviously, one that won't occur again.

COOPER: Mary, you know, in the past couple of months, Obama has come out a couple times to knock down these rumors that he's Muslim. I just want to play one of his responses earlier in the campaign.


OBAMA: I have not and never have been of the Muslim faith. I think that those who are of the Muslim faith are deserving of respect and dignity.

But to try to feed into this fear-mongering and to try to, you know, question my faith commitments and my belief in Jesus Christ, I think is -- is offensive.


COOPER: It is interesting that, I mean, this poll, 10 percent of Americans still think he's a Muslim. It's kind of remarkable, given everything, even the whole Reverend Wright stuff. At the very least, it kind of shows he's been in a church for the last 20 years.

MARY FRANCES BERRY, FORMER CHAIRPERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION: Well, people -- people are obviously confused. I think the issue of -- he's handling it as best he can.

But I think that it will come up again. It's just like the question of Michelle and the patriotism remark. Reporters will ask it. Or somebody will ask it again. And it will come up again. But I think he's answering as best he can.

But one thing that I think about it is that in the campaign itself, there are a lot of pitfalls and missteps that can take place. Somebody needs to tighten up the operation a little bit. Think about that. And figure out who's handling all these backdrops and the rest of it so that they don't make other mistakes.

But I think he's handling the Muslim thing about as well as he can right now.

CROWLEY: Yes, and you know, this is a growing campaign. I agree with Ed. I think it's something stupid that happened on the ground. People imagine what it is you want to have.

But you're right. These little mistakes tend to make big splashes. And they're-- again, every day, we get a new thing about how they're expanding. And they'll -- you know, they'll expand.

Campaigns make mistakes. They move on. I also agree with Ed that, you know, it wouldn't have made any difference. I mean, the people that are not going to vote for Barack Obama because they think he's a Muslim, are not going to have their minds changed because there's no Muslim on the stage. I mean, it doesn't make sense. This seems like a kind of a rookie mistake by somebody on the ground.

COOPER: Ed, does it surprise you that -- that people still believe he's Muslim.

ROLLINS: If his name was Bob Brown, running for president, no one would pay any attention to it. It's partly the name. It's part of the very unique history. And I think to a certain extent, people don't know much about it him. And they're trying to find out more and more and more. That's why they have an interest in her. That's why they have an interest in him.

At the end of the day, which is another four or five months of this campaign, people will know everything they want to know about him.

COOPER: Four or five months is going to feel like a year or two, though.

ROLLINS: Absolutely.

COOPER: Candy Crowley, Ed Rollins, Mary Frances Berry, thanks very much. Good discussion tonight.

Up next, the warning signs of a heart attack. Awareness may be part of Tim Russert's legacy. Renowned surgeon Dr. Wayne Isom joins us with information that could save your life. And the stunning rainbow that appeared over the Capitol today also has a connection to Russert and his funeral today in Washington. We'll explain.

And Tiger Woods called his Monday win at the U.S. Open probably the best ever. It's going to be his last tournament for a long time. We'll tell you why.



TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC NEWS ANCHOR: And as Tim would look out on this gathering, he would say, "It's wild. It's wild. My family. My closest friends from near and far. The powerful. The ordinary." And the largest contingent of all in this room, those who think that they should be his successor on "Meet the Press."


COOPER: Great line from Tom Brokaw. There was laughter, also tears today, at the memorial service for Tim Russert.

Earlier at his funeral, the list of mourners included Barack Obama and John McCain. Along with politicians, there were family and friends, of course, all touched by Tim Russert, who was only 58 years old when he tied. He had an enlarged heart, coronary artery disease and died of a sudden and massive heart attack.

The surprising news is that Russert had passed a stress test. He exercised on a stationery bike and was being treated for high cholesterol. So the question is, how come he died without warning?

Turns out many Americans don't have symptoms like chest pains or shortness of breath before having a heart attack. So we wanted to take a few minutes and try to understand what all of us can do to reduce the chances of having one. After all, coronary heart disease is still the leading killer in the U.S.

Joining me is Dr. Wayne Isom, a well-known and highly respected cardiothorasic surgeon whose patients include Dave Letterman, Regis Philbin, and our own Larry King.

Thanks so much for being with us.


COOPER: It is stunning that, with all that we know about the heart, that -- that a guy like Tim Russert, at 58, can just suddenly drop dead. I mean, why aren't there signs?

ISOM: It is. And you know, most patients, I think, maybe 80, 85 percent of them, will have some symptoms. And it would be interesting to even with, going back with Mr. Russert, in questioning family, et cetera, to see if he had some symptoms, because a lot of people do.

COOPER: Symptoms like what?

ISOM: Well, they usually think, well, it's -- it was indigestion. There's a big denial a lot of times.

But the fact is, about 10 percent or 15 percent of them don't have any symptoms of all. They can have a heart attack and don't even know it. They can have so-called silent myocardial ischemia.

COOPER: So someone at home was watching this, I mean, what should they be looking for? What should they be concerned with?

ISOM: First of all, you should know the risk factors. And the biggest risk factor is something that we don't control. And that's the genetic component of it.

COOPER: If you've had a mother or a father who died at a young age of heart disease.

ISOM: You had a mother or father, or someone in the family, who died at a young age, especially if both of them did, then you need to really get on the stick at age 20, 25, or 30, and start to decrease any risk factors.

COOPER: Yes. My dad died when he was 50. And when I was 22, I had my cholesterol done. I had a high cholesterol at age 22. I've been taking stuff ever since then. But that was shocking.

ISOM: That's smart. That's smart. And a lot of times, people don't do that. They don't even start going to the doctor until they're 40 or 45 after -- unless it's a woman who had a baby.

COOPER: So, family history. Smoking, obviously.

ISOM: Smoking is the worst thing you can do. Smoking is the worst thing you can do.

COOPER: And what, high blood pressure?

ISOM: And high blood pressure, I think, is bad. And that's the so-called silent killer. Because you may go along a long time and don't even know you have it. So you do have to go to the doctor to get your blood pressure checked. There's places even in drug stores now, that you can get your blood pressure checked. So, that's one.

Then, the more complex ones, the cholesterol. HDL, LDL, et cetera. There's a number of things.

COOPER: The good and the bad cholesterol.

ISOM: But one of the things that everyone talks about now -- they're probably right -- is the body habitus: if you're fat. And a lot of kids are fat. A lot of people are fat. You really need to do something about it.

COOPER: You've got to slim down. And what can people do? I mean, there's obviously diet and exercise. I mean, should you go and have your cholesterol checked? At what age should you do it?

ISOM: I think if you have those risk factors, then somewhere around 25 or 30, you ought to do it.

Now women are protected for -- they're about ten years behind us. They catch up with us. But they should, too, if you've got any of those risk factors. Certainly, by the age of 35, or 40, you really need to jump on that.

COOPER: Russert's doctors acknowledged that his heart muscle had thickened. Are there tests that would have showed this?

ISOM: Yes, yes. An echocardiogram would show that.

COOPER: That's a stress test.

ISOM: No. A stress test is -- is getting on a treadmill...

COOPER: Right.

ISOM: ... with an EKG...


ISOM: ... attached to you. And if you ever had one of them, you get to 14 or 15 minutes, and you're huffing and puffing and might not even make it to that. So, that tells you, if that EKG is abnormal, during that period of time, then part of the heart muscle's not getting enough blood supply.

COOPER: So, the echocardiogram is what?

ISOM: An echocardiogram tells you about the valves and the thickness of the heart and the contractility, how well it's pumping.

COOPER: So if you're having chest pain when you're exercising at the gym, should you have that checked that?

ISOM: Yes. You really should.

COOPER: No doubt about it.

ISOM: No question.

COOPER: And you talk also about the importance of defibrillators and having them more accessible in offices.

ISOM: Well, I think -- you know, the American Heart Association has been pushing this for a long time. And you're seeing more and more all the time.

Airplanes have them. They're in office buildings now. There's even a push to have every apartment building in New York to have a defibrillator.

They're automated now so that -- it used to be, when you attached the defibrillator, you had to look at the EKG and know exactly when to give the shock. They're automated now. The computer analyzes the EKG and knows exactly when to administer the shock.

COOPER: At 58, are there some people who, no matter what they do, it's just going to happen?

ISOM: I don't think so. That's taking a fatalist view. I think, you know, you -- you go to the doctor, get the diagnosis. If you're not quite happy with it, I think you ought to have an angiogram. There's a lot of other tests. But the angiogram tells you exactly what you have.

And one of the other newer methods of diagnosis, is a 64-cut CAT scan with contrast. That's almost as good as an angiogram.

COOPER: A CAT scan of your heart.

ISOM: Yes.

COOPER: Dr. Wayne Isom, it's fascinating stuff. I appreciate you coming in to talk about it. Thanks very much.

A final note about Tim Russert. His memorial service at the Kennedy Center was filled with memories of his laughter, his enthusiasm, his love of life, and his faith. There was also music, including a surprise performance by Bruce Springsteen. And songs from Russert's iPod.

This rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was playing when the service ended. And moments later this rainbow appeared over the Capitol.


(MUSIC: "Over the Rainbow")



COOPER: Coming up, the "Shot of the day." See this? Joan Rivers gets kicked off live television. That's not Joan Rivers. There she is.

First, Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin."

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: That was definitely not Joan.

COOPER: Yes, I know.


Anderson, we begin with the number of people sickened by tainted tomatoes, which has jumped now to -- get this -- 383. That's more than 100 additional cases. And of those cases, the CDC says at least 48 people have been hospitalized with salmonella poisoning. The victims range in age from newborns to 88 years old. And the CDC says it doesn't believe this outbreak is over.

Two days after winning the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods is done for the season. He'll be getting more surgery on his damaged knee. He's also dealing with two minor leg fractures.

On Wall Street today, the Dow briefly dipped below the 12,000 mark for the first time since mid-March but did manage to finish the day just above, at 12,029. Still off 131 points for the session. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 also closing in negative territory.

And paying more at the pump leads to less driving. The Department of Transportation said today Americans drove 1.4 billion -- billion -- fewer miles in April. That is the sixth consecutive monthly drop. That's when you know the gas prices are really starting to take a hit.

COOPER: Really.

Time now for the "Beat 360" winners. As you know, each day we put a photo on the 360 blog, and come up with a caption that's better than one from our staff.

So here's tonight's photo. Two seal pups playing at the North Sea in Germany.

HILL: Is that the cutest picture we've seen in a long time or what?

COOPER: It's not the cutest.

HILL: Really?

COOPER: I guess it's all right. There's no bears.


HILL: ... for you.

COOPER: Our staff winner is Marshall with this: "Seal leaves Heidi Klum, begs old sweetheart to forgive him."

(SOUND EFFECT: seal barking)

COOPER: Get it? Seal.


COOPER: Yes. Our viewer winner is Mike in Syracuse, New York. His caption: "No, dear, we can't do a fist bump like Barack and Michelle. We haven't got fists."


COOPER: Yes. HILL: Interesting.

COOPER: Check out the captions that didn't make the cut at Kevin is just shaking his head at that one. But you can also play along tomorrow.

Up next, what was Joan Rivers thinking? Check this out.


JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: I want to say to the camera, he is a piece of -- get ready to bleep this -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


COOPER: The problem is, they didn't actually bleep it.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Apparently, the ageless comedienne got herself kicked off a live television show. It's our "Shot of the Day."

And at the top of the hour, rising water. More levees overflowing along the Mississippi River. We'll take you to the flood zone for the breaking developments when 360 continues.


COOPER: Time for "The Shot." And what do you know? Joan Rivers was a guest on a British TV show, a live one, I might add, when she decided to use some choice words about Russell Crowe. We bleeped them. But the show did not.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that part of your life that you enjoy, doing that kind of meeting and greeting of celebrities on the red carpet?

RIVERS: When they're nice.


RIVERS: And we know what we're saying.


RIVERS: You get someone like Russell Crowe, and you want to say to the camera, he is a piece of -- get ready to bleep this -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He is...




HILL: No delay there, huh?

COOPER: No delay. No beep. No nothing. She assumed it would all be bleeped out. Of course, it was not. After a commercial break, Rivers mysteriously vanished. She was apparently asked to leave the program, and she did.

You could bounce a quarter off that face, though, by the way. I mean, is that -- that...

HILL: It is impressive.

COOPER: No -- I'm sure -- you know, she's the first one to say it. But, man.

HILL: Wow.


HILL: Do you think...

COOPER: I mean, that's...

HILL: ... when she looks in the mirror, she recognizes anything?

COOPER: I don't know.

HILL: I don't know.

COOPER: I think the ears meet in the back. I mean, it's tight.

Coming up at the top of the hour...


COOPER: I'm sorry. What, like she hasn't spent her life mocking other people? She can take it.

HILL: There you go, Anderson Cooper. Give it back.


Coming up the top of the hour, a breaking story, the latest on the -- Joan Rivers on line four. The latest on the breaking news. Where the next wave of flooding will hit in the Midwest. We'll be right back.