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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Politics and Patriotism; Obama and Bill Clinton Connect

Aired June 30, 2008 - 22:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: the firestorm over patriotism, politics, and, yes, Vietnam -- John McCain firing back, defending his war record, after an Obama supporter takes a shot at him. Now McCain is enlisting the help of Swift Boat Veterans who once attacked John Kerry.
And Barack Obama is promising he won't question anyone's patriotism and won't allow others to question his.

Also ahead tonight, phone Bill -- a high-stakes phone call between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton today. Did they bury the hatchet? Is Bill on board? We have got the latest.

And, later, new reports that the White House is beating the war drums on Iran and a sharp new warning that the next president may be tested with a terror attack.

Plus, a jury rules in the Texas shootdown. You may remember the 911 operator telling a man not to shoot two burglars robbing his neighbor's house. He ignored the advice, shot them dead in the back. So, did he break the law? We will take you to Texas, where the answer is making headlines tonight.

We begin with John McCain and Barack Obama and a battle over patriotism, service and surrogates. Today, Senator Obama defended his patriotism and distanced himself from remarks made by his surrogate, General Wesley Clark.

Senator McCain spent the day counterpunching, trying to turn what he took as an attack on his war record into a battering ram against Obama. James Carville and Bill Bennett weigh in, in a moment.

But, first, Dana Bash with the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five- and-a-half years as a Vietnam POW, and you would think this goes without saying.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of my record of service.

BASH: But, yes, John McCain defended his war record. And here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION") WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: That's retired General Wesley Clark, a surrogate for Obama this weekend. McCain's campaign says Clark's comments are part of a Democratic campaign to smear his war record.

Obama denounced Clark's comment, but McCain aides say it's part of a pattern. Obama talks about a new kind of politics, but allows allies to go for the jugular.

BASH (on camera): Do you think that Senator Obama is being hypocritical here?

MCCAIN: I don't know. I know that many -- that General Clark is not an isolated instant. But I have no way of knowing how much involvement Senator Obama has.

BASH: General Clark clarified his comments today, saying he would -- quote -- "never dishonor McCain's service," but said, "I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues."

McCain aides point to other incidents. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller on McCain's service flying a fighter bomber, saying -- quote -- "McCain was a fighter pilot who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they, the missiles, get to the ground? He doesn't know."

Democrat Tom Harkin warned that it's -- quote -- "dangerous" that McCain looks at everything through his military experience.

And this from a talk radio show host on stage shortly before Obama.

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The man is a warmonger.

BASH: So far, no formal groups have gone public to attack McCain's military service, like the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which ran ads against John Kerry.

But liberal blogs are popping up, like this one accusing McCain of -- quote -- "disloyalty" for participating in a North Vietnam propaganda video while in captivity. So, the McCain campaign struck back today with it own so-called truth squad, a collection of veterans, including some who had served with McCain, to talk up his war record.

One of those veterans was Medal of Honor winner Bud Day, McCain's commander in captivity, but also one of the swift boaters against Kerry.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) COL. GEORGE "BUD" DAY (RET.), MCCAIN VIETNAM COMMANDER: The Swift Boat -- quote -- 'attacks' were simply a revelation of the truth. The similarity does not exist here.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BASH: Besides trying to stop attacks on McCain's war records, advisers say they're also trying to drive home their central charge about Obama, that he's the same old politics as usual.

JILL HAZELBAKER, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Let's drop this idea that Barack Obama is somehow raising the dialogue and raising the debate in this campaign.

BASH (on camera): The truth is, both Barack Obama and John McCain insist they're going to run above-the-fray campaigns. And, for various reasons, both are having trouble living up to that.

Dana Bash, CNN, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We're going to have more on Obama and patriotism shortly. Candy Crowley reports on his speech today.

But, first, a "Strategy Session" with Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville, as well as Republican Bill Bennett, also a CNN political contributor.

I talked to them earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Bill, Obama distanced himself from Clark's comments, but McCain then questioned his sincerity and his involvement. Do you think the recent comments are really part of some sort of orchestrated attack from the Obama campaign?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, it would be bad orchestration and choreography, because they immediately apologized for it, which I'm glad they did. Axelrod said it was wrong. Obama said it was wrong, I believe. Several other people said it was wrong.

Bob Dole, of course, said he should have stayed in bed Sunday, Wesley Clark. It was not appropriate to say.

Now, of course, merely serving in the military is not an automatic qualification to be president. But the effect of his remark was a derogation of military service, McCain's military service. And I got to tell you, being a fighter pilot in the Navy, five-and-a-half years in a prison camp, being commander of the largest fleet in the Navy stacks up pretty well as a qualification, compared to, say, being a community organizer and a law professor. I think it's at least a draw.

COOPER: James, is McCain's service record fair game? JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I don't know what the Obama campaign is apologizing for, because what Wes Clark said in response to Bob Schieffer say: "I have to say, Barack Obama had not any of the experiences either, nor has he ridden a fighter plane and gotten shot down."

Clark: "Well, I don't think riding a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

I don't -- why are we apologizing? By the way, Wes Clark has 30 medals. He's got a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and everything else.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Good qualifications.

CARVILLE: And the idea -- the idea -- and I have no idea what the Obama campaign is apologizing for. There's nothing controversial in what General Clark said.

BENNETT: Well, I'm with the Obama campaign, so James needs to talk to them and they will tell him why...

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: ... yes, because I will tell you, those -- what you cited for Wes Clark is the point, James. He's got excellent qualifications. That's the beginning of a resume to run for president.

CARVILLE: Again, as I pointed out earlier, my uncle won the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, but, if he were alive, he would be the first person to tell you that doesn't qualify him to be president. It qualifies him to be a hero. It was honorable service.

And there are many other ways that John McCain may very well be qualified for president. But General Clark, first of all, was responding to a direct observation. And the observation that he made, in my mind, was a completely legitimate observation. The fact that I served two years in the Marine Corps doesn't make me qualified to be anything.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: It doesn't make you automatically qualified to be anything.

But the American people would like someone of honor to be in that office. How do you show you're a person of honor? I think that's one very persuasive way to show your honor, to have served your country in that way, you, too, and your uncle.

(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: Again, I think that Senator McCain is an honorable man. I don't think being a fighter pilot is qualification to be president. And that's all that General Clark was saying.

BENNETT: It was a snide -- it was a snide and a nasty comment. Did you see it? Did you see it?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It was not. I saw the tape of it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It was responding. It was not a snide and nasty comment. He was merely responding to an observation that Bob Schieffer was making, which is not being reported in the press. It's being reporting as if that General Clark just went out and said this. He was making a very legitimate observation.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Talk to David Axelrod. He will explain it...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I would love for someone to explain why we're apologizing for a patriot who made what I think is a completely legitimate point.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, Bill, what about McCain bringing in a former member of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans For Truth? Is there something strange? McCain deplored those ads back in 2004. I think he called them dishonorable and dishonest.

BENNETT: You know, obviously, there were tons of claims made during the campaign against John Kerry. Some of them proved to be false. A lot of them proved to be true.

I noticed the word swift boating is being used as a pejorative now. That's too simple and simple-minded. A lot of the people who stepped forward, officers who served with John Kerry, stepped forward to set the record straight.

I will tell you my view. Let people say what they want to say, and then deal with it, respond to it, characterize it. A person big enough to be president should be big enough to be able to take the criticisms. I want to know everything there is to know about the public character and something about the private character of anybody who wants to be president.

COOPER: James, is it odd to you that he's now using this guy whose tactics he once called dishonorable?

CARVILLE: Yes. I find it not only odd. I find the whole thing rather ridiculous.

I think all that General Clark was doing was making an observation. Everybody in the world -- and I have said 1,000 times on here I think that Senator McCain is an honorable man. I think he's done things that qualify him to be president.

I think that General Clark was making an absolutely, perfectly legitimate observation in response to a question. And I want to know a simple question. Why are we talking about General Clark, 30 decorations, all right, who makes a legitimate observation, and not the stuff that's really affecting this country? And that's the incompetence of this administration and what can we do to get this straight. That's a simple observation.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Clark's comments struck a lot of people, Democrats and Republicans, as off-base. I think we have said enough about it.

A man big enough to be president is big enough to have the truth told about him. I don't like this notion of all these off-limit areas when you're talking about people who want to be president. And the Obama campaign is saying, you can't do this. You can't that. You're demonizing. Let's find out the truth about the man who wants to be president, both of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We will have more from Bill Bennett and James Carville coming up. We will be digging deeper on Barack Obama today, defending his patriotism.

As always, I'm blogging throughout the hour. You can join the conversation. Go to our new Web site, AC360.com, join the conversation. Let us know what you think.

Later, what about Bill? He and the man who defeated his wife get together by phone today. We will have details of their high-stakes conversation.

Also, the stunning case out of Texas that began this 911 call.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house.

JOE HORN, TEXAS RESIDENT: I'm sorry. This ain't right, buddy.

911 OPERATOR: You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with a gun. I don't care what you think.

HORN: You want to make a bet? I'm going to kill them.

911 OPERATOR: OK? Stay in the house.

(END AUDIO CLIP) COOPER: He said he was going to kill him, and that's just what he did.

The question today, what would a grand jury do about it? Would they indict him? The surprising answer tonight -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Barack Obama on the trail today in Harry Truman's hometown of Independence, Missouri. Now, he's under fire from the McCain forces, who say he's happy to let others question Senator McCain's patriotism and under a microscope from critics who question his patriotism.

CNN's Candy Crowley now on how he's dealing with it all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Independence, Missouri, during Fourth of July week, is a pretty standard pick for politicians to show their patriotism. Barack Obama went to defend his.

OBAMA: I have found for the first time my patriotism challenged, at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears and doubts about who I am and what I stand for.

CROWLEY: Part of it is about his unusual name, an upbringing with little resemblance to "Ozzie & Harriet," and a vicious anti-Obama whisper campaign on the Internet and elsewhere. But a September picture showing Obama listening to "The Star-Spangled Banner..."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): ... and the home of the brave.

CROWLEY: ... without his hand over his heart, a carelessly- worded answer when asked why he wasn't wearing a flag pin...

OBAMA: Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. And, hopefully, that will be a testimony to my patriotism. CROWLEY: ... and inflammatory criticism of the country by his former minister fueled the fire of repeatedly debunked e-mail claims, that he refused to pledge allegiance to the flag, that he was un- American.

It seeped into the grassroots. In April, a young woman asked how she could convince her father-in-law to vote for Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's been influenced by some of the spin about saluting the flag, that pin, you know, all of those things...

OBAMA: Right. Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... that I have heard. And I just wondered what you would say to him if he was here to show him where your heart is.

CROWLEY: And now he has a bigger stage to show where his heart is, where he came from.

OBAMA: I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog tags from his time in Patton's army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That's my idea of America.

CROWLEY: He has a biography ad about his American roots and values airing in 18 states. And he has a video on his Web site to rebut the still circulating e-mails. And he is pushing back.

OBAMA: I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: But, in politics, pictures are permanent, and symbols seem like substance. In April, when a veteran gave him a flag pin, Barack Obama put it on. He wore one today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Candy, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton also spoke by phone today. It was their first conversation, apparently, since the primary ended. What do we know about it?

CROWLEY: We know that Barack Obama placed the phone call. We know that it ran about 20 minutes long. We know that Bill Clinton said he will do what he can to help Barack Obama, whatever he's asked to do. Barack Obama had praise for Bill Clinton. You remember, one of the things that really got to the former president over the course of the campaign was the feeling that Barack Obama was saying things that were negative about the Clinton era. So, he felt that his legacy was being attacked.

It was interesting to me that in his statement today, his public statement, Barack Obama said that he's always thought that Bill Clinton was one of the greatest presidents in the U.S. and that he had done so many good things.

So, they're -- you know, are they best buddies? No. Will they ever be? Probably not. There are still tensions there. There are still hurt feelings there between the Obama and the Clinton camp.

But everybody around them says, look, everybody now has their eyes on the prize, which is putting a Democrat in the White House. And the Clintons, both of them, are in fact committed to doing that.

I think that you will see this fall a lot more of the Clintons campaigning for congressmen and senators, but they say that, whenever Barack Obama needs them, they will be out there.

COOPER: Do we know, are there are any plans at this point for a joint even, like the one that Hillary Clinton had with Barack Obama?

CROWLEY: There aren't, but there's lots of talk, particularly on the Clinton side, that say, listen, this is up to the Obama camp. But they believe that, some time between now and the convention, you will see Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton all on a stage together.

COOPER: All right. Fascinating.

Candy Crowley, thanks.

Back with Bill Bennett and James Carville next. We're going to get their take on today's high-tension high-stakes phone call.

Plus, he's famous for singing "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," and now his allies are beating the war drums and warning about terror attacks. Hear for yourself and decide whether they're playing the fear card -- when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, a lot riding on their phone call today -- 20 high-pressure minutes, we're told, both sides reporting it went well. That's where tonight's "Strategy Session" picks up with Democrat James Carville and Republican Bill Bennett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: James, it's been about a month since the last primary. Why has it taken to long for Bill Clinton to talk on the telephone to Barack Obama? CARVILLE: I don't know if it's taken long. And I think I have said this on your show. I know I have said on numerous occasions that they would get together, that President Clinton would be for Barack Obama, would campaign enthusiastically for him.

I also said on your show Friday night, I think it was, that, you know, sometimes, in these things, feelings get bruised. They take a little healing. I think we have had a little healing. I think we're going to see this party come together. It was a magnificent event that Senator Clinton and Senator Obama had. And -- but none of this has ever concerned me in the least.

COOPER: Do you think feelings are still bruised by the former president?

CARVILLE: You know, it takes me a while to get over a campaign. I can't imagine. He was an enthusiastic supporter of his wife, and he's going to be an enthusiastic supporter of Senator Obama.

It would not be human. It would be ridiculous to sit here and say that you go through a campaign like that and people don't have bruised feelings. But this is an adult business with adult consequences. And, sometimes, you win, and, sometimes, you lose, and you get behind a candidate. And that's exactly what's going to happen here. I have said that from day one. And that is what is going to happen.

COOPER: Bill, what do you think is going on here?

BENNETT: I don't know, Anderson.

Bill Clinton had a very busy life as president. Apparently, he's having a very busy life after being president. James says it's adult situations here.

There's some things I'm not interested in life. I'm generally curious. Bill Clinton's private conversations is one of them.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Bill, do you think he would be an asset on the trail for Barack Obama?

BENNETT: Sure, sure, in some places. Sure. The Clinton stock is very high in some places. You saw how Hillary walloped him in the late primaries. There was all that talk about the Pennsylvania voter, the one with the Bible and the gun, and they're in West Virginia and Kentucky, too.

And some of those folks would respond better to Clinton, I suppose, by the empirical evidence, than Barack Obama. So, sure, he's an asset. But, when he's out there on the trail, it also reminds a lot of people about the Clintons.

And all the reminders, despite what Democrats say, are not all good. They ring some bells. And other places, they turn people off. COOPER: I want to talk briefly about Obama's speech on patriotism today.

Bill, another speech on patriotism today. We're going to be hearing a lot of about patriotism from him throughout this whole week. Why does he still need to focus on this issue?

BENNETT: Well, I think they realize that he hasn't made the sale on this issue. He had a problem right after 9/11. He wore that flag pin. Then he took it off. Then he said, I never said anything about the flag pin. Well, he did. He said that it was a kind of false patriotism.

He's also had friends who have said things about this country that are not very good. His minister for 20 years talked about, "G.D. America." Weather Underground guy Bill Ayers threw this party for him. So, these raise questions. I don't think it's a settled issue, but these raise questions.

Let me say...

COOPER: Do you think they're legitimate questions?

BENNETT: Well, it's always a legitimate question to ask how a candidate feels about his country. And, given some of his associations, sure, it's absolutely legitimate to ask. He obviously thinks it is, because he's addressing it.

Let me say, I think it was an excellent speech. He talked about America, using that great line of Lincoln's, as the last, best hope of Earth. I hope, you know, Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were listening to that. That's a damn good line. I hope -- they don't agree with it, but I hope they listen to it.

COOPER: James, what do you...

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, maybe some of the 70 lobbyists or something that are on Senator McCain's staff -- again, he's talked about Jeremiah Wright. He has resigned from the church. There's certain things he's going to do that are not going to satisfy anybody.

The truth of the matter is, he's spoken eloquently about this country. He's written eloquently. He's one of the most literate people that we have ever had run for president.

I would prefer that he talk about competence, which we haven't had in the Oval Office. I would prefer that he talk about the disaster that we're in, in Pakistan, about what's going on in Afghanistan, about -- on six years in Iraq and $4 gas.

BENNETT: Stick to the subject. Stick to the subject.

CARVILLE: I agree. That's the subject he ought to talk about. I think the best way to show patriotism is to be competence.

BENNETT: I have got to say, whether it's the speeches on patriotism or General Clark, James is clearly out of synch with the Obama campaign. He may be right and they may be wrong, but it's interesting that that rift hasn't healed yet.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: No, it's not -- I'm 1000 percent for Senator Obama. I just think that they should have -- it's not a rift.

I think they should have defended General Clark. I think what he said made a lot of sense. And I think what the country -- I think the country is comfortable -- I'm completely comfortable with Senator Obama's patriotism. I think he's a very eloquent guy. I think he loves his country very much.

And I'm just saying, yes, I wish they would talk about competence more, because I think people are looking for something different.

BENNETT: Well, he said -- he said at the beginning of his remarks that he had made some misstatements, too, so that he felt the need to do it. So, it's the candidate's -- it's the candidate's notion that he needs to address it.

COOPER: Well, the only person that never made a misstatement in his life is sitting right here. And look what happened to him. He lost his hair and has to wear glasses.

(LAUGHTER)

BENNETT: Well, you talk just fine now, James.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: And you talk a lot. And you talk a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: We will leave it there.

James Carville, Bill Bennett, thanks.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

BENNETT: Thank you. Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, still to come: the politics of fear -- the McCain camp chatting up the possibility of a terror attack next year. Are they crossing the line or simply stating facts? We're going to take an up-close look. You can decide.

And, later, a jury decides the fate of that Texas man accused in a double shooting that led to these protests and rallies this the streets. The man killed two burglars breaking into a neighbor's house after, even a 911 dispatcher told him, don't do it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: I don't want you going outside, Mr. Horn.

HORN: Well, here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking, and I'm going.

911 OPERATOR: Don't go outside.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In a moment, a report that President Bush is stepping up covert operations in Iran, and the McCain camp talking up the possibility of a terror attack next year. We will take an up-close look.

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

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Pentagon is seeking the death penalty for a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole eight years ago. The Saudi Arabian man is being held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He says he was tortured into confessing a role in that bombing. The attack left 17 U.S. sailors dead.

According to an autopsy report released today, the murdered student body president at the University of North Carolina likely raised her arm to try to protect herself from a shotgun blast that hit her hand and head. Eve Carson was shot four other times. Two Durham men are charged with her death.

And, in California, a missing chimp -- the search is on now for Moe in San Bernardino National Forest. He escaped from his cage on Friday at an animal sanctuary. And, if Moe looks or if his name sounds familiar, it should. He's had his share of headlines over the years.

In '99, Moe was removed from his home. And, then, three years ago, when his owners visited him at a different sanctuary, one of them was attacked and nearly killed by two other chimps there.

COOPER: Yes, it's such a bizarre story.

HILL: It is.

COOPER: All right, here's tonight's "Beat 360" photo: John McCain being interviewed yesterday in Cincinnati by a 5-year-old Piper Macke and her 6-year-old brother, Spencer. They landed the interview after Spencer sold $4,000 worth of yellow ribbons to benefit troops abroad. Pretty cool.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Chuck: "Senator, how do you respond to the charges of flip-flopping on the creamy vs. chunky debate?" HILL: Big issue...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Exactly. Yes, it is.

Think you can do better? Go to our new Web site, AC360.com.

Peanut butter is not brought up enough on the campaign trail.

Click...

HILL: Maybe we should change that.

COOPER: I think we should.

Click on the "Beat 360" link, send us your entry. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.

The winner, hey, gets a prize, "I Beat 360" T-shirt.

HILL: Oh, and it is nice.

COOPER: There you go.

HILL: Very nice.

COOPER: Up next: another high-profile John McCain bringing up the possibility of a terror attack in order to bring voters away from Obama. Are these scare tactics? And do they work?

Also ahead, a grand jury deciding the fate of this Texas man who two shot two burglars. A 911 operator told him not to do it, but he grabbed a shotgun, killed them both. Was it a crime? You may be surprised by the grand jury's decision. Jeff Toobin has that -- coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That controversial comment by retired General Wesley Clark stirring a lot of debate. But it's not just Barack Obama supporters who are raising eyebrows. John McCain also has a lot of allies talking him up on the trail while raising doubts about his rival. Some of his supporters, however, are being accused of playing the fear card by focusing on future terror attacks.

Up close, CNN's Ed Henry has more on their message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican John McCain insists that, if elected, he will not be a Bush clone. But some McCain allies seem to be ripping a page from the president's playbook, raising the specter of a possible terror attack next year to sway voters against Democrat Barack Obama.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Remember that the truck bombing at the word trade center happened in the first year of the Clinton administration. Nine-eleven happened in the first year of the Bush administration.

John McCain is ready to take the reigns on January 20, 2009. He doesn't need any training.

HENRY: Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential candidate, who's now an independent, is so close to McCain, he's been mentioned as a possible running mate.

And his comments follow McCain adviser Charlie Black recently saying a terror attack between now and the election would help McCain. Black apologized.

A Lieberman aide told CNN the senator was not playing the fear card. He was just highlighting McCain's qualifications.

LIEBERMAN: We need a president who's ready to be commander in chief on day one. Senator McCain is. Incidentally, Senator Clinton said that over and over again, and she was right. She was ready to be president on day one. Why? Because our enemies will test the new president early.

HENRY: Asked about Lieberman's comments, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino agreed there could be a terror attack next year.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think Joe Lieberman, unfortunately, could be right. And the only reason I say that is because we know that there are people who are very dangerous who are trying to attack us every day.

The president has been looking for Osama bin Laden since September 12. That effort has never let up.

HENRY: The New York Times alleged Monday the Bush administration did let up, military and intelligence officials charging the Iraq war diverted resources from the fight against al Qaeda.

The president's approach to Iran is also under fire, with journalist Seymour Hersh claiming in the "New Yorker" the U.S. is stepping up covert operations inside Iran and edging closer to a possible attack.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: At this point with George W. Bush as unpopular as he is, to argue the case for continuity in foreign policy does not seem to be a big election winner.

HENRY: That's why McCain is walking a fine line. His allies are touting his traditional national security credentials, when voters may be ready for a new approach.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ed, when we hear Joe Lieberman talking, how much of that is approved by John McCain? I mean, is he clearly just a surrogate now for John McCain?

HENRY: He clearly is. Now in general, I can tell you before a big guest goes on a Sunday show, a lot of times there are conference calls that campaigns will organize. If the White House sends a bit guest out to one of these Sunday shows, they'll get all kinds of staffers behind the scenes practicing what they're going to say and what not.

In this particular case, Senator Lieberman, his office insists he was speaking on his own and that he was focused on qualifications, not politics.

But let's face it: these comments are coming in the middle of a very heated presidential campaign that's going to be seen as political. And the bottom line is that John McCain has an edge on the terror issue.

This is why Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East is going to be a very big deal. It gives him a chance to show he can hold his own on the world stage. It's going to be a big test, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Ed Henry, thanks.

Up next, justified killings. What a grand jury thinks in this case. Linked to the dramatic 911 call from that Texas man who saw burglars in his neighbor's yard and took the law into his own hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Horn, are you out there right now?

JOE HORN, SHOT INTRUDERS: No, I'm inside the house. I went back in the house, man. They come right in my yard, man, I don't know what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they was going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you shoot somebody, Mr. Horn?

HORN: Yes, I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We'll tell you what a jury decided.

Also tonight, a major development in the investigation of the death of this pregnant soldier. Still ahead on 360. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want you going outside, Mr. Horn.

HORN: Well, here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I'm going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't go outside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, it's a chilling 911 cam that ended with three shotgun blasts and two men dead. The caller has said he had to do it, that he was defending his neighbor's property from burglars. But was he justified to kill or should he be charged with murder? Today a grand jury delivered their answer.

With "Crime & Punishment" here again is Erica Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Joe Horn is a 61-year-old grandfather. Late last year, the Texas man received national attention for this 911 call to report two men entering a neighbor's window.

HORN: I've got a shotgun. Do you want me to stop them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, don't do that. Ain't no property worth shooting somebody over, OK?

HILL: It wasn't OK for Horn. As the minutes passed, he became more determined.

HORN: I'm not going to let them get away with it. I can't take a chance on getting killed over this, OK? I'm going to shoot. I'm going to shoot.

HILL: Despite the operator's pleas, Horn drew closer to an armed confrontation.

HORN: I ain't going to let them get away with this (EXPLETIVE DELETED). They stole something. They've got a bag of something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Horn, do not go out of the house.

HORN: I'm sorry. This ain't right, buddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get yourself shot if you go outside that house with that gun. I don't care what you think. Stay in the house.

HILL: A few moments later, horn delivered on that promise with a 12 gauge shotgun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want you going outside, Mr. Horn.

MORRIS: Well, here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun, and I'm going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't go outside.

HILL: Joe Horn fired three times, killing Hernando Torres and Diego Ortiz, both men shot in the back. Horn returned home and picked up the phone.

HORN: No, I'm inside the house. I went back to the house. Man, they come right in my yard, I don't know what the (expletive deleted) they was going to do. I shot them, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you shoot somebody, mister?

HORN: Yes, I did. The cops are here right now.

HILL: The shooting sparked angry demonstrations and death threats against Horn. Under Texas law, a person can use lethal force to protect a neighbor's home if that force is justified, necessary to prevent theft and if the person was asked to watch the property.

After months of hearing evidence, a grand jury today refused to indict Horn, who contended he shot the men on his property after they threatened him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This office will continue to aggressively prosecute anyone who illegally engages in the use of force, deadly or otherwise, against another.

HILL: Tonight, Joe Horn is free. A man some may feel got away with murder. A man others will say did the right thing.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What do you think? Was Joe Horn justified in killing two men? Let us know. You can go to the live blog right now. The conversation is going on. AC360.com. We're digging deeper tonight on this case with CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin.

In a legal sense, did Joe Horn do the right thing?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's why we had a grand jury. This is obviously the facts were somewhat in dispute.

Under the law of Texas, he had the right to shoot somebody if they were on his property, if they were threatening his property. He did not have the right to shoot someone on his neighbor's property or to protect his neighbor's property. The grand jury said it was OK.

COOPER: What's this castle law?

TOOBIN: The castle law relates to a change. It just happened last year in Texas. The law used to be...

COOPER: Before this case.

TOOBIN: Before this case. And in fact, Joe Horn actually made a reference to it in the 911 call.

The law used to be that you have a duty to retreat, not to shoot, if a reasonable person would retreat. They took the reasonableness requirement out of the law. So you simply have an absolute right to shoot if someone is on your property now. That's the Texas law.

COOPER: And he actually did mention this castle law in the conversation. Let's just play that clip from the 911 tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HORN: I have a right to protect myself, too, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you do.

HORN: And you understand that and the laws have been changed in this country since September the first. And you know it, and I know it. I have a right to protect myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So you can -- if they're on your property, you can shoot?

TOOBIN: To protect yourself. Yes.

COOPER: Protect yourself. But what about -- in the piece it said if you were asked to protect your neighbor's house...

TOOBIN: That is also a possibility. But it doesn't appear like he was ever asked to protect this house. I think the factual dispute that was before the grand jury was where the two individuals, the two victims really were. Were they on his property or the neighbor's property?

COOPER: He made a point of saying when he came back in the house that they were on his property.

TOOBIN: Right, but I think that is not entirely clear.

COOPER: And the fact they were shot in the back, does that matter? Apparently not.

TOOBIN: It didn't matter to the grand jury. Right.

COOPER: Right. And is there a possibility of a civil lawsuit against him from the families of these two men?

TOOBIN: You know, one of the best known facts about this case now is that the two men who were shot were illegal immigrants. That technically had no -- it shouldn't have had a bearing on the case. It might have. But their estates are not going to be able to sue, because they were illegally in the country. So I don't think there's any realistic...

COOPER: So because they were illegal in the country, they -- no one is able to sue?

TOOBIN: No one is going to be able to sue unless the estate in Mexico -- I have think it's Mexico, perhaps the Dominican Republic can get leave to file a lawsuit in Texas. I think it's so remote a possibility as to be not meaningful. So I think Joe Horn, he's off the hook criminally; he's off the hook civilly.

COOPER: Are there other states that have this law?

TOOBIN: More than you think. It's -- about six of them. None of them are identical but have laws like this.

This is just like the Supreme Court decision last week where the country's changed. That the right to bear arms is being taken more and more seriously by more and more governments now. The -- the Supreme Court has recognized a right to it.

You know, I think many of us who live in the Northeast, who live in cities find this story bizarre. A lot of people who are in Texas and in other parts of the country say, "Look, the way to stop crime is to give homeowners guns."

COOPER: You're just a big city boy.

TOOBIN: That's -- I'm afraid that's true.

COOPER: I'll take you out to a rifle range.

TOOBIN: Can we shoot some varmints perhaps?

COOPER: Just like some of our politicians.

Next on 360, the search for a pregnant soldier's killer. This story we've been following now for the last week. New clues surfaced, including a disturbing letter to a newspaper, signed with the sign of the zodiac. That's ahead.

And in the next hour, murdered in cold blood. Solving the mystery of who killed five mountain gorillas. A special "Planet in Peril" report, coming up in our next hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're following several new developments in the death of that pregnant Ft. Bragg soldier. Tonight, authorities are certain this woman, Megan Touma, was murdered. They also are looking at a person of interest.

But there's more. A letter was sent to a local newspaper, the writer confessing to killing her, and ended the note with an cryptic sign of the zodiac, the same symbol used by an elusive serial killer. The latest from CNN's David Mattingly in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, it is a cold-blooded confession. A self-described serial killer sends a letter to the "Fayetteville Observer," claiming responsibility for the murder of the pregnant 23-year-old soldier, Megan Touma.

The writer taunts police as "very incompetent" and brags about watching while investigators searched the hotel room where her body was found. The author calls the crime a masterpiece, and signs it with the mark of his role model, the Zodiac Killer.

Fayetteville police are skeptical.

(on camera) I'm outside the Fayetteville P.D. right now. What I'd like to know is there anything about this letter that makes it legitimate?

JOHN LEVIN, AUTHOR, "SERIAL KILLERS AND SADISTIC MURDERERS": You know, anything is possible but I really doubt that this letter was written by a serial killer. MATTINGLY (voice-over): I called serial killer expert Jack Levin, who says the letter is a work of deception, possibly written by the actual killer, but no zodiac wannabe.

(on camera) Is this the letter of someone who has killed before and is planning to kill again, or is this someone who's afraid and trying to hide?

LEVIN: He wants to deflect responsibility. He doesn't want to be blamed for this. This indicates to me that we're talking about somebody who knew the victim very well.

MATTINGLY: The "Fayetteville Observer" reports that the symbol at the bottom of the letter was also found scrawled in the hotel room where Specialist Megan Touma was apparently murdered. Another sign, according to experts, that the killer was trying to cover his tracks.

(on camera) What type of crime does this sound like to you?

MAURICE GODWIN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: This is a domestic, violent type murder. Domestic violence.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): North Carolina criminal profiler, Maurice Godwin, agrees: Touma likely died at the hands of someone close.

Friends tells CNN she was transferring from Germany to Ft. Bragg to be with her boyfriend and father of her unborn child. Civilian and military authorities have a person of interest, a soldier at Ft. Bragg. But there's been no indication given of any personal connection to the victim. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do we know anything more about this person of interest?

MATTINGLY: Well, this soldier was receiving some specialized training at the JFK Special Warfare Center. That's been described to me as sort of like a university where soldiers can go and get higher education, higher training in a variety of subjects.

This particular soldier, this person of interest, was getting some training in psychological operations. But authorities here have not made any indication whatsoever that this person of interest was connected to that letter. In fact, experts I've talked to who have looked at that letter say it looks like it required no special training at all for someone to come up with something like that. Only someone desperate enough and had just the barest essential knowledge of what -- what this serial killer was doing -- Anderson.

COOPER: And they made that movie, "Zodiac," I don't know, a year or two ago. So there's like a lot of information certainly out there.

David Mattingly, appreciate the reporting. Thanks for the update. Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: President Bush today signed legislation that will pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the rest of his presidency and into 2009. The $162 billion bill also doubles college benefits for troops and veterans. It extends unemployment benefits by 13 weeks and provides flood relief for the Midwest.

Retail gas prices hitting another record high today, climbing to almost $4.09 a gallon. That's nearly 30 higher than a year ago. And get this, up almost 3 percent in just the last month alone.

And the world's oldest profession even feeling the pinch of rising fuel prices. I suppose it was bound to happen. In rural Nevada, brothels that cater to long-haul truckers are reportedly now offering gas cards and other promotions to attract customers after seeing business decline as much as 25 percent from a year ago, which is actually a pretty steep decline.

COOPER: Do we know what other promotions?

HILL: No. I'm sure we can guess.

COOPER: No. It's probably best not to know.

Now it's time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to you, the viewer. It gives you a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture that we post on our blog every day. It's also a chance to win a "Beat 360" T-shirt.

HILL: The T-shirt.

COOPER: Yes, I know. Tonight's picture, Senator John McCain being interviewed yesterday in Cincinnati by 5-year-old Hyper Mackey (ph) and her 6-year-old brother, Spencer. And I hope I'm pronouncing their last names correctly.

They landed the interview after Spencer sold $4,000 worth of yellow ribbons to benefit troops abroad.

Our staff winner tonight was Chuck. His caption was "Senator, how do you respond to the charges of flip-flopping on the creamy versus chunky debate.

(SOUND EFFECT: "Ohhh!")

COOPER: Our viewer winner is Dan from Toronto. His caption: "Senator McCain, I have three words for you: Vice President Spongebob."

(SOUND EFFECT: "Ooooh!")

COOPER: Congrats, Dan. You'll receive our "Beat 360" T-shirt.

You can check out all the entries we receive on our blog and play along tomorrow by going to our new Web site, AC360.com.

Just ahead, 12 stories of stubborn. The office building that refused to fall. That shot is next.

And in the next hour, the phone call that most reporters would have killed to listen in on. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on the phone for 20 minutes, breaking an uncomfortable silence. Is the big chill between them beginning to thaw? That's what insiders are saying just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, Erica, time now for "The Shot." They huffed and they puffed and they just could not blow this one down. Look at this footage of a high-rise demolition. Or I should say tent to demolition at Coral Gables. You hear things exploding. Nothing is breaking down and...

HILL: Yes. And no.

COOPER: No. Still there. They imploded almost every inch of this 12-story building except for the concrete elevator shaft. Florida did not have a leaning tower of Coral Gables for long. The next morning they blew up everything that they missed the first time around, and there she goes.

HILL: There we go. That is a lovely implosion. And I'm glad that it eventually went down. But there are some other ones that have gone a bit more smoothly. Like perhaps this one from our friends in Vegas.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: It's like a glittery demolition. COOPER: Numbers there involved.

HILL: Yes. It's all show in Vegas, as we know. There's the numbers of the fireworks.

COOPER: They know how to blow up a building.

HILL: These people do not mess around. Coral Gables, I'm glad you rectified it. Come on, take some lessons. Sin City, people.

COOPER: We've learned our lesson. You can see all the most recent shots of things exploding on our new Web site: AC360.com. You can also see other segments from the program, read the blog, check out the "Beat 360" picture.

HILL: With T-shirts.

COOPER: Sure, whatever you want. The new address again, AC360.com.

So coming up at the top of the hour, did a retired four-star general and Obama supporter cross a line when he said getting shot down over Vietnam doesn't, on its own, qualify John McCain to be president? And is McCain crossing a line by talking a tack on his military service record and using it to batter Obama? We'll examine all of that ahead.

Also, getting bill Clinton onboard. Obama calling the former president. We've got the details.

And solving the mystery of who killed five mountain gorillas. A special "Planet in Peril" report in our next hour when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, the firestorm over patriotism, politics and yes, Vietnam. John McCain firing back, defending his war record after an Obama supporter takes a shot at him. Now McCain is enlisting the help of swift vote veterans who once attacked John Kerry.

And Barack Obama is promising he won't question anyone's patriotism. And won't allow others to question his.

Also ahead tonight, phone Bill. A high stakes phone call between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton today. Did they bury the hatchet? Is Bill onboard? We've got the latest.

And later, new reports that the White House is beating the war drums on Iran and a sharp new warning that the next president may be tested with a terror attack.

A jury rules in the Texas shoot-down. You may remember the 911 operator telling a man not to shoot two burglars robbing his neighbor's house. He ignored the advice, shot them dead in the back. So did he break the law? We'll take you to Texas where the answer is making headlines tonight. We begin with John McCain and Barack Obama and a battle over patriotism, service and surrogates. Today, Senator Obama defended his patriotism and distanced himself from remarks made by his surrogate, General Wesley Clark.

Senator McCain spent the day counterpunching, trying to turn what he took as an attack on his war record into a battering ram against Obama. James Carville and Bill Bennett weigh in, in a moment. But first, Dana bash with the "Raw Politics."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five and a half years as a Vietnam POW and you'd think this goes without saying.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of my record of service.

(begin video clip)

CLARK: I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification for being president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)