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Barack Obama Interview; John McCain Speaks Out; Black in America

Aired July 25, 2008 - 23:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. John King here, in for Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, fighting words. John McCain firing his toughest shots yet at Barack Obama. But is he also agreeing with Obama on a timetable for leaving Iraq?

Hear what he told our Wolf Blitzer just before he attacked Obama's Iraq policy and decide for yourself.

Also tonight, Barack Obama, one on one with Candy Crowley, talking about his world tour, telling her it's no different from what John McCain's been doing, except for one thing. He says with a smile, more people are paying attention to him.

And later, take me out of the ballpark -- on a stretcher. A beating, a brawl and now criminal charges. Say it ain't so. Details just ahead.

We begin, though, with John McCain who's been frustrated all week by Barack Obama's winning streak abroad.

First, Iraq's prime minister embraces Obama's plan for bringing the troops home. Then he gets through Israel without a hitch. Then the massive crowds in Berlin and a hero's welcome in Paris.

However this ultimately plays in American public opinion, it certainly has upstaged John McCain's campaign week.

Today, though, a dust-up over one Obama overseas glitch. And in Denver, before a gathering of military veterans, Senator McCain delivered a full throated war cry.

CNN's Dana Bash has the "Raw Politics."


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It took five days but at last, John McCain had found a big stage and powerful imagery so that perhaps his message all week about Barack Obama and Iraq might finally break through.

This is what McCain said to a large group of military veterans.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama said just this week that even knowing what he knows today that he would still, still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chose failure.

BASH: Some of his sharpest attacks yet.

MCCAIN: If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi army would have collapsed.

BASH: With those sound bites, McCain is trying to make up for what he lacked all week in imagery, from this golf cart to this grocery store, McCain struggled to find the right backdrop to counter Obama's overseas images.

Minutes after his rival's speech in Berlin before a sea of people, McCain was in front of a German fudge house in Ohio. Yet finally the McCain campaign got something they could use -- an Obama stumble.

Obama abruptly cancelled a visit to see U.S. troops stationed in Germany and offered a series of evolving explanations.

First, an Obama spokesman said, "The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign."

Later, another statement from Retired Major General Scott Gratian traveling with Obama. "We learned from the Pentagon Wednesday night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event."

But Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell tells CNN the military had already arranged for Obama's campaign plane and staff to land at the air base and for the senator and his official capacity to visit troops. Morrell said canceling the trip was, quote, "based on their own calculation and had nothing to do with any judgment by us about the nature of the trip."

McCain campaign aides eager to make this fight Obama v. Pentagon, not Obama v. McCain, were more short and to the point than usual. A spokesman saying, "Barack Obama is wrong. It is never inappropriate to meet with troops."

And privately, McCain aides, at last, found some joy with one Obama moment captured in this photo in a German newspaper, Obama leaving the gym, not visiting with U.S. troops.

(On camera): A spokesman for Obama said the Democratic candidate felt like he was in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation and decided in the end it was best to avoid the perception of making wounded troops part of a campaign event.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


KING: Barack Obama, meantime, is in London tonight, meeting tomorrow morning with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Mr. Brown will not be greeting him at the door of 10 Downing Street because Senator Obama is not a head of state. Earlier today in Paris, though, the French president Nicholas Sarkozy giving him the full presidential treatment at Elysee Palace. Mr. Sarkozy says, while it's not up to the French to pick the next president, if Senator Obama is elected, France would be delighted.

It's been that kind of a week.

This morning, Obama talked about it with CNN's Candy Crowley who asked him what he thought of events like his speech yesterday in Berlin say to Americans dealing with economic hardship back home.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we have more NATO troops in Afghanistan, then that's potentially fewer American troops over the long-term, which means that we're spending fewer billions of dollars, which means we can invest those billions of dollars in making sure that we're providing tax cuts to middle class families who are struggling with higher gas prices.

If we've got serious commitments from Europeans to deal with these energy issues in the same ways that we need to deal with them, that will have an impact on our economy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I know that the subject of Muslim has been a tough one for you to kind of balance because of the Internet and people believing that you're a Muslim. And you've always said, but, listen, this has nothing to do with the Muslim community.

OBAMA: Right.

CROWLEY: There are those who also wonder in the Arab world why not go to a mosque at this point. You gave a speech yesterday that said, listen, Christian, Jews...

OBAMA: Right.

CROWLEY: ... Muslims.

OBAMA: Right.

CROWLEY: So is -- again, where symbolism is so important, why don't you go to a mosque while you were here?

OBAMA: Well, look, I can't do everything, Candy. You know, we have jammed about as much as we could have in a week. But in terms of our Muslim outreach back in America, in terms of my consistent message, it's always been that I have the deepest respect for the Muslim community and I think that one of the things I want to do in my first year in office is convene a summit of Muslim countries so that some of the suspicions and mistrust that's developed between the United States and the Muslim world can be broken down.

CROWLEY: You talked yesterday in your speech, saying look, I recognize that there are people in the world who think that the U.S. has been part of what has gone wrong in the world.

Do you think that there's anything that's happened in the past 7 1/2 years that the U.S. needs to apologize for in terms of foreign policy?

OBAMA: No, I don't believe in the U.S. apologizing. We've made some mistakes, as I said, I think the war in Iraq was a mistake. We didn't keep our eye on the ball in Afghanistan. But hindsight is 20/20. And I'm much more interested in looking forward rather than looking backwards.

So the point of my speech yesterday was, you know, for Europe to recognize that whatever mistakes we do make, we have been overwhelmingly a force of good in the world. That Europe and the European Union would not exist as we understand it had it not been for the enormous sacrifice of U.S. troops and taxpayers.

CROWLEY: John McCain has said that this really looked like a premature victory lap.


CROWLEY: Did you cross a line, were there times where you're really aware of that, you know, that sort of wow, he looks like he already thinks he's got it?

OBAMA: Well, you know what, I'll leave it up to the pundits to theorize on that. I would point out that John McCain, after he won the nomination, met with all the leaders that I'm meeting with, that he's made speeches in Colombia and Canada and Mexico.

So it would be -- I would be hard pressed to find a big difference between what I've done over the last week and what John McCain has been doing since he won the nomination.

CROWLEY: Just you got more attention?

OBAMA: I did.


KING: And Candy Crowley joins us now from just outside the British prime minister's residence, that's Number 10 Downing Street in London.

Candy, fascinating conversation with the senator today. Interesting on how they view the politics of this. They get a huge benefit from Prime Minister Maliki when he endorses roughly the same timeline for withdrawal as Barack Obama proposes. But they also have a public disagreement with General David Petraeus, the commander on the ground, in Iraq.

Do they worry how that plays out, a public disagreement with a popular general back here in the States?

CROWLEY: Sure, and it's not just that Petraeus is a popular general. They are also very aware that the military, if you want to match institution for institution, is far more popular than any kind of politician or the U.S. government. So the military is up there, it's widely respected, General Petraeus, particularly.

But I have to tell you he has had some very kind words about Petraeus. We asked, can you work with him? Barack Obama said yes. He's done a remarkable job. But about the disagreement, it's kind of on the one hand and on the other hand. They understand that John McCain will, of course, make something of that and he has already started.

But they also believe since Barack Obama is selling judgment as opposed to John McCain's experience, if you listened to him earlier this week, he said, if I were General Petraeus, I would totally be fighting for what he's fighting for because General Petraeus wants flexibility. But I have to look at a much larger picture.

KING: And, Candy, in Iraq, as you mentioned there, in Berlin, in the entire trip really, Senator Barack has had to balance, on the one hand, playing to an international audience while simultaneously talking to American voters back home here and trying not to look too presumptuous in the process.

In your view, did he pull it off?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, we'll see. I mean it's so hard when you're here. I mean people line up, particularly in France, in Berlin, and even here in Paris, there are people on the streets waiting to see him, lining up.

Obviously, you saw those pictures out of Berlin. They were amazing. So there is this huge excitement here in Europe that, again, as you heard in the question I asked him, so what if you're worried about gas prices or mortgages, how do you explain what you're doing over here?

So they understand that there might be a disconnect. And they also understand when you see pictures of him standing next to President Sarkozy earlier today in Paris, coming here to 10 Downing Street tomorrow, these are very presidential looking pictures.

He doesn't think he's walked over the line. I'm not sure that we have seen yet whether this has helped at all or hurt at all. We do know that so far the polls have remained pretty much the same since this trip started.

KING: Candy Crowley, thanks for joining us tonight. Safe travels and you look very prime minister-like across from 10 Downing.

CROWLEY: Don't I? It's very official looking.

KING: Candy, thank you.


KING: And I'm continuing the conversation online. You can join in by going to and following the links.

Up next, John McCain in his own words. Senator McCain either making news by signing on to Barack Obama's Iraq timetable conditions permitting or is he confused about a timeline again? You decide. Later, inside a wounded 747. A big chunk of the fuselage gone. Terror in the skies, but was it also terrorism? Some early answers tonight.

Later, base brawl. Only this time the ump's not involved. It will take a judge to sort it all out. That and more tonight on "360."


KING: John McCain meeting today with the Dalai Lama, also speaking today to a group of military veterans.

He made news with the vets and more news when he sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Here's a portion of that interview. Pay special attention to what Senator McCain is saying about Iraq and a timetable for pulling American forces out.


MCCAIN: Well, I'm not going to telegraph a lot of the things that I'm going to do, because then it might compromise our ability to do so.

But look, I know the area. I've been there. I know wars. I know how to win wars and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden or -- put it this way -- bring him to justice.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Or if you...

MCCAIN: Can we do it? I know how to do it.

BLITZER: If you were president and Nuri al-Maliki is still the elected prime minister of Iraq, and he says he wants all U.S. troops out, what do you do?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I know Prime Minister Maliki rather well. I know that he is a politician and I know that they are looking at upcoming elections. I know that he knows and every -- and the other leaders know there that it has to be condition based -- any withdrawals, which we will withdraw.

We have succeeded. The surge has succeeded. And we're on the road to victory. And we will be out of there. And we may have a residual presence of some kind as I've always said.

But the fact is, the surge has succeeded and the fundamental here is that I supported that surge when it was not the popular thing to do. Senator Obama opposed it, said it wouldn't work, even voted to cut off the funds for the men and women fighting over there and still -- and he still doesn't understand to the point where he doesn't agree that the surge has succeed.

So I can assure you that Prime Minister Maliki understands that conditions have to be kept. And I want to find -- tell you again, General Petraeus, one of the great generals in history, strongly disagrees with Senator Obama and our highest ranking military officer also says it would be a very dangerous course. We're not going to go down that road.

BLITZER: What -- but if Maliki persists. You're president and he says he wants U.S. troops out and he wants them out, let's say, in a year or two years or 16 months or whatever, what do you do? Do you just -- do you listen to the prime minister?

MCCAIN: He won't. He won't. He won't because he knows it has to be condition based.

BLITZER: How do you know? How do you know?

MCCAIN: Because I know him and I know him very well, and I know the other leaders and I know -- I know I've been there eight times, as you know. And I know them very, very well.

BLITZER: So why do you think he said...

MCCAIN: And the point is...

BLITZER: Why do you think he said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?

MCCAIN: He said it's a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it's a pretty good timetable as we should -- horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground.

BLITZER: All right. You also made a very serious charge against Senator Obama. You've repeated it, you say you stand by it, that he would rather lose a war to win a political campaign.

MCCAIN: I am accusing -- I am stating the facts. And the facts are that I don't question Senator Obama's patriotism. I'm sure that he's a very patriotic American. I question his judgment because he lacks experience and knowledge, and I question his judgment.

I'm not prepared to see the sacrifice of so many brave young Americans lost because Senator Obama just views this war as another political issue of which he can change positions.

And everybody knows that he was able to obtain the nomination of his party by appealing to the far left and committing to a course of action that I believe was -- I know was wrong because he said the surge would not work. He said it wouldn't succeed.


KING: A reminder, you can see both candidates at length in depth on "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER," the last word on Sunday talk. That's Sunday morning 11:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Up next, McCain and Obama after a rough week for one and a week of massive global attention for the other. We're digging deeper with our political panel.

And later, the view from inside a jet liner as a chunk of the fuselage tears away and the crew makes an emergency descent 20,000 feet in just a few minutes, when "AC 360" continues.


KING: Let's talk tonight about Barack Obama's trip overseas. John McCain's fighting words and the political implications of both.

Digging deeper, we're joined by former Mitt Romney spokesman Kevin Madden and liberal activist Hilary Rosen. She's the political director of the "Huffington Post."

No laughing yet. No laughing yet. Happy Friday, everyone.

Kevin, we just heard Wolf Blitzer interview John McCain and in that interview, Senator McCain says 16 months sounds like a pretty good timetable to him. Now he goes on to say permissions on the ground permitting. But timetable in Iraq are two words Senator McCain has long resisted putting in the same sentence.

Is he muddling his own message here?

KEVIN MADDEN, FMR. MITT ROMNEY SPOKESMAN: Well, he has to be precise by making sure that the argument over whether it's conditional or unconditional is where the debate is centered, because when the debate becomes centered about words, whether it's timetable, time horizon, time -- anything having to do with some sort of conditioned timeline, that is where he gets in trouble.

And where John McCain has to make this debate is whether or not that the American people should agree with John McCain's judgment that we have to leave Iraq only when the conditions on the ground dictate it versus Barack Obama who wants an unconditional essentially surrender.

And that's where he wins it in the debate.

KING: Well, Hilary, I have a guessing you would -- I'm guess you would disagree with that one. But let me work this interview before you answer.

McCain is here at home and he's been hammering away at Senator Obama on the Iraq issue. You heard Kevin's explanation of the timeline and I'd like to hear yours. But let's listen first to Senator McCain, again, hitting Senator Obama saying why can't this guy admit the surge worked.

Let's listen.


MCCAIN: He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried us -- tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn't just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued, continued to predict the failure of our troops.


KING: Now, Hilary, as you know, many Democrats who opposed the surge, now do give it some credit. They say it has helped reduce the violence, even though they hold firm in their view that there are still many other bigger, long-term, fundamental problems with the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Why won't Obama just concede it helped some?

HILARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, he has conceded that has quelled some violence. But you can't argue that the surge is successful in terms of our overall goals in Iraq. And that's what Obama will not concede and shouldn't concede.

McCain's been hammering on this all week and the reason it's not sticking is because Americans know that we are still failing in Iraq. We're failing with the four essential reasons we went in there and that we're still there. We didn't find WMDs. We didn't do anything about quelling al Qaeda. We haven't affected the regional dissidents between the United States and groups like Hezbollah and al Qaeda now coming together.

We are not safer. Our own ambassador is saying that they can't say that we are safer now because of what we're doing in Iraq. So the fact that the surge is an effective police force really is kind of irrelevant. And I think what Obama is saying is, what are our bigger term -- longer term goals for this country, for our national security? That's why he's focused on Afghanistan.

I think John McCain is muddling his message the way you said. He has no choice. The president and the White House have started talking about timetables. Maliki is talking about timetables. If McCain didn't start talking about timetables, too, he'd look even more out of touch than he already does.

KING: Want to ask each of you -- Kevin, to you first. You saw in Dana's piece a bit earlier, there's a bit of dustup, a controversy over where did Barack Obama have this visit to wounded troops on his schedule for so long and that at the last minute cancel it.

He says he didn't want to turn it into a political campaign event. The Pentagon says, you know, they would have put his campaign staff and the press in comfortable setting and let him go in officially as a senator and say hello.

Does this have legs or is this a minor thing?

MADDEN: Well, look, any time you're explaining, you're losing. I mean that's a simple adage and a simple understanding in politics. The big thing that the McCain campaign is going to make out of this is they're essentially going to say to the American public, wait a minute, you're telling us that you won't listen to General Petraeus' advice when it comes to troop deployment, and you're going to argue with General Petraeus, but yet you're going to listen to your own legislative liaison when he says that you can't visit wounded troops? That's your judgment?

So, again, they're going to make this about the decision making for Barack Obama. ROSEN: I don't think that's going to walk.

KING: And Hilary, Hilary, to that point...

ROSEN: You know what, all week...

KING: To the point as you jump in.

ROSEN: All week Obama has been meeting with the troops in both Afghanistan and in Iraq. They're surrounding him with love. Even the United States embassy employees were clamoring for his autograph to the point where on his next trip he -- the State Department forbid employees to go to the rallies.

So there's just no credibility in saying that he doesn't respect the troops, that he doesn't understand how hard it is out there. The troops don't think that. And the American people certainly don't think that.

MADDEN: There are a lot of different explanations coming out of that from the Obama campaign.

KING: The issue in this one -- the criticism in this one seems to be, and whether it's fair or not, we will see, but, Hilary, you know how quickly the Internet can work and spread these things. Once he was told he couldn't bring the cameras he decided not to go in.

ROSEN: I just don't buy that. And I don't think that, you know, it's going in right wing radio, Obama has had a good week, particularly in his visuals with the troops. And I think they're desperate. I just don't think this is going to last.

KING: All right. We'll have more from our panel ahead.

And still ahead here, we'll map out the race for president. Why it's even closer than it looks in most of the polls.

Plus, terror in the sky. Look at this. A jumbo jet plunges close to 20,000 feet. We'll tell you why.

And the baseball brawl that's being treated as a crime, coming up.


KING: Still to come, state by state. Why it's such a close race for the White House in tonight's strategy session.

First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin."

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, good to see you tonight.

Passengers describing an almighty crack and a big bang onboard that Qantas Airlines flight forced to make an emergency landing in the Philippines today. That because of an enormous hole which tore through the fuselage. The plane en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne, Australia made a nearly 20,000 foot emergency descent before landing safely.

None of the 365 passengers and crew were injured. Officials will investigate but terrorism is not suspected.

Good news on Wednesday's oil spill on the Mississippi in New Orleans. Crews have skimmed the majority of that oil off the water surface, and that has allowed some ships and barges back on the river.

And not really sure why this seems like a good idea, but this guy, under arrest, charged with drunk driving, seen drinking out of a bottle of whiteout he found on that desk. Prosecutors in Omaha say he was trying to cover up the booze on his breath.

John, I don't know, I think maybe mouthwash would be a better bet. Ineffective, but it tastes better.

KING: I know I thought of a lot of things years and years ago to deal with that problem, but never whiteout. Never dawned on me.

HILL: No, no.


HILL: And probably you weren't missing anything, because I don't think it worked.

KING: Yes. Uh-huh.

All right, Erica, here we go. Tonight's "Beat 360" photo. Senator John McCain in a news conference with cyclist Lance Armstrong yesterday after participating in the Live Strong Summit at Ohio State University.

Now here's the caption from our staff winner, good old Joey. "Look! I think someone from the press is actually coming to one of my events."

HILL: See, this is why Joey wins. And I mean that with love. Joey's mom was a little worried, by the way.

Joey's mom, I mean it.


HILL: I am impressed. He's always good.

KING: Joey's tough. He's tough. And he's good. But think you can do better?


KING: Go to our new Web site, Erica is already trying to beat you to it. Click on the "Beat 360" link, send us your entry and we'll announce the winner at the end of the program and it's worth getting into this race here. The winner gets a "Beat 360" t-shirt.

HILL: And it's snazzy. It is snazzy, John.

KING: Good. Maybe we can get you to autograph it.

HILL: It's going to be worth a lot less that way, but sure.

KING: We'll work on that.

And up next, the race between John McCain and Barack Obama appears to be tightening. Obama has just a three-point lead in our new poll of polls. And with just 100 more campaign days until the election, the state by state analysis is remarkably close. We'll break down the electoral map in our strategy session.

Also ahead, take me out to the ballgame and then to jail. The base- brawl that has one player facing criminal charges, coming up.


KING: Barack Obama hailed in Europe, finding support for his withdrawal plan from the Iraqi prime minister.

John McCain here at home firing back, calling Obama's trip a preemptive victory lap. The Republican, though, clearly frustrated by his rival's success in getting so much attention this week.

But might the McCain camp's frustration be misplaced? Things are changing, it appears for the moment, at least, perhaps even in McCain's favor.

Let's take a look at the national picture. Obama still leads Senator McCain by 44 percent to 41 percent in our latest National Poll of Polls. But Obama's support has slipped a little. And the percentage of undecided has crept up.

More troubling to the Obama campaign is the subtle shift in the Electoral College map where John McCain appears to be making gains in some important states, most notably Minnesota. Ten electoral votes at stake here. And Obama has seen his lead slip from 17 points to just 1 point. As you can see, it's yellow now, moved into a toss-up.

And there's Michigan, but Obama is losing ground ever so slightly.

Now back to the big picture. Remember, you need 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. At this point, and it's just an early snapshot, we have Obama favored in 15 states that carry a combined 221 electoral votes. McCain has the edge in 22 states with 189 electoral votes. And the remaining 12 states and their 128 electoral votes are tossups, up for grabs.

Now let's take a look at how this will affect the presidential campaign in tonight's "Strategy Session."

Joining me again, Kevin Madden, the former national press secretary for Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and Hilary Rosen, long-time liberal activist who's the political director at the "Huffington Post."

Now, Hilary, we just looked a t that map there. Obviously, Minnesota, New Mexico shifting into the up for grabs. A net loss of five electoral votes for Senator Obama. He still has an overwhelming edge and the fundamentals, the national fundamentals, certainly favor the Democrats in this election.

But that he's slipping a bit, a sign of worry?

ROSEN: Well, not necessarily in Minnesota, you don't really think Minnesota is going to go for John McCain, do you, John? You know this map better than anyone.

So I -- look, I think that you can take the snapshot -- the Gallup daily tracking poll still has Obama up by six points today. I think that this week wasn't -- you know, Obama wasn't campaigning over the last 10 days. He was on a trip to put one in his pocket for later on when he's going to have to pull it out and show that he has some experience and some insight.

So I'm not surprised that there's been a little slippage this week. I think that we're going to see some changes next week when he comes back and gets out there again.

KING: Well, we'll look at those changes when he comes back.

Kevin, I was reading a memo from Peter Hart, the long-time Democratic pollster, does the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. He sent this memo around today about his latest poll.

He says this, "The Republicans continue to face long odds when it comes to the mood of the country, attitudes toward President Bush and feelings about the economic conditions facing the country. But Democrats face a perception gap o the question of whether Barack Obama is ready to be president and if voters can identify with his values and his background."

We've heard John McCain making the he's-not-ready argument over and over and over again when it comes to Iraq, being commander in chief.

What about the values and the background? Has McCain shown the zest you think he needs to push Obama more left, if you will?

MADDEN: Sure. I think that one of the big things that gives a lot of voters pause in places like Ohio, places like Missouri, places like Minnesota, where this is going to be fought, is that once they get an information fill about Barack Obama and they learn more about him, they find that he's very much to the left, very much outside of the main stream on where they are -- on social issues, on economic issues, national security issues, and even foreign policy.

So I think the job of the McCain campaign is to continue to provide that information fill. But also...

KING: But are they doing that? Do you hear that from Senator McCain? MADDEN: I think they are and I think you're going to see a much more disciplined message. But going to your point about whether or not John McCain is making the case that Barack Obama is just not ready, if I were John McCain and I were -- if I were advising John McCain, I would say that he should utter the words "just not ready" when talking about Barack Obama every single day for the next 100 days all the way until election day.

He's just not ready to lead on the economy, he's just not ready to lead this country on the national security challenges that we face. And that will, again, give Americans of a pause that they need in an election that for John McCain to win needs to be a referendum on Barack Obama.

ROSEN: I don't think that's a winning message. I just don't. I think that, you know, Obama's message of change is overwhelmingly what this country wants to see.

MADDEN: Change for change sake, though, Hilary...

ROSEN: No, but I don't think...

MADDEN: ... is not going to motivate voters, I believe.

ROSEN: You know John McCain is not going to be able to convince people that he has ideas and that he is an agent of change. And, you know, when you look at -- you can't really say Obama's out of touch with the country when you look at the major issues people care about.

Whether it's middle class tax cuts or alternative energy sources or whether it's universal health care, Obama is smack where a majority of the American people are and not where John McCain is.

So I think that, you know, Obama is going to be out there campaigning. Now we're looking for the match-up. I mean I actually think Senator Obama is making a mistake not taking Senator McCain up on this offer for some town halls to get out there, because, I think, as a match-up, he will look ready, he will look presidential, and he will confirm the very views that we know America wants to hear.

MADDEN: Well, I think John McCain looks forward to that, Hilary, going out there and showing that big taxes, big government, a government-run health care system is exactly where the American people are not.

KING: We'll start by inviting them both right here. We'll have the first town hall right here on "360" on Friday night.

Hilary Rosen, Kevin Madden, thanks for spending sometime with us. We'll see you again soon.

ROSEN: Take care.

KING: And up next here, a baseball brawl. Both benches cleared, punches and a lot more thrown. One player facing criminal charges. It's tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report. And later, VIP treatment to stop the violence. A former drug dealer turns his life around with help from a surgeon who is sick with seeing boys with gunshots and stab wounds.

CNN's "BLACK IN AMERICA" investigation when "360" continues.


KING: Now that has got to hurt. And what followed might have hurt even more, for both teams last night in a minor league ballpark in Dayton, Ohio.

Watch as this brawl boils over just after the game got started. It's the Dayton Dragons and the Peoria Chiefs duking it out. Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo threw a baseball at the Dayton dugout but he missed. It hit a fan who had to be taken to the hospital but they say he's OK.

As for Castillo, he was taken to jail to face a felony assault charge. And that makes baseball our "Crime and Punishment" segment tonight.

CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins me.

Jeff, you've seen this video. It's pretty amazing.


KING: 15 players ejected. One arrested. Are you surprised more people aren't facing charges?

TOOBIN: Well, not really, because there's kind of been an unwritten rule about sports fights, which is as long as only the players are involved and only fists are involved, law enforcement will stay out of it.

Castillo, the pitcher, got a fan involved and he used a baseball to do it. So it is not really surprising that he's the one who got arrested.

KING: You're watching that, looks almost like a rugby match. But the player who was arrested, as you know, Julio Castillo, he's the Peoria Chiefs facing a charge of felonious assault for throwing a ball into the stands and hitting a fan.

Is that unusual for this kind of situation?

TOOBIN: It's very unusual, because, you know, sports fights have generated very little law enforcement activity. Only when, as I say, when fans have been injured.

The famous Indiana Pacers fight of a couple years ago in the NBA and several times when NHL players in hockey have used sticks to hit each other -- those have wound up in court. But, you know, baseball almost never has a fight that justifies an arrest. But, yes, I can see why they did it here. KING: And we're watching some hockey pictures and some basketball pictures. In those other cases, are we talking about criminal charges?

TOOBIN: Yes, there were criminal charges. There has not been really jail time served in any of these cases that I'm aware of. But definitely people had to plead guilty to misdemeanors and there have been circumstances where people were actually prosecuted. I don't think any actual -- any athletes have gone to jail because of what they did on the field or on the ice. But they definitely had to plead guilty to things.

KING: Now in this case, the pitcher who is charged with assault is from the Dominican Republic. Could he face extra legal problems because he's not a U.S. citizen?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. If he winds up being convicted of a felony, he could definitely be deported.

Now I think when passions cool, throwing a baseball in the general vicinity of people, I don't think that will ultimately wind up as a felony. That definitely seems much more like misdemeanor material, if that. And fortunately, it looks like there were no serious injuries as a result.

So I think when passions cool, when some defense lawyers get involved, this probably will not wind up being a deportable offense.

KING: And we will watch to see how this series plays out.

And Jeff Toobin doing double duty tonight as our senior legal analyst and our sports brawl analyst.

Jeff, thanks so much.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

KING: Up next, "BLACK IN AMERICA." From drug dealer to employed family man. One man's transformation and the program that's being called an answer to street violence.

Plus, the professor whose last lecture made him an Internet star loses his battle with cancer. His inspiring story, up next.


KING: Imagine making thousands of dollars a day. Now think of swapping that for a job that pays a few hundred bucks a week.

Madness, right?

Well not if you're a retired drug dealer determined to create a new life. But this story has one more twist, the surgeon who saved the drug dealer's life in the OR decided he wanted to try to rescue him from the streets.

More now from CNN's Soledad O'Brien.


KHALID CARTER, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: It's like a movie. You're portraying, you know, a gangster. Pulled a gun out on me, robbed me, make me feel little. Come on, now. You dead.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): And Khalid Carter willingly faced death as a drug dealer in Baltimore, Maryland. At this street corner, someone tried to kill him.

CARTER: It was about 9:30, 10:00 in the morning.

O'BRIEN (on camera): 10:00 in the morning on this street that's full of kids, he opened fire?


O'BRIEN (voice over): Nationally, blacks account for 49 percent of homicide victims. But in Baltimore, that number soars to 93 percent.

Surgeon Carnell Cooper is the man who saved Khalid. He believes he's found an answer to street violence, a program known as VIP, the Violence Intervention Project.

CARNELL COOPER., SURGEON: If we can get them into a job training program, if we can get their GED, if we can get them the things that they needed to move forward, maybe, maybe we could impact their risk.

O'BRIEN (on camera): So you're saying it wouldn't just keep them out of the hospital the next time, it would also improve their lives from an income standpoint, family standpoint, parenting standpoint?

COOPER: Exactly.

O'BRIEN (voice over): Khalid Carter has his second chance at life. After a stint in prison, he is now an employed family man.

CARTER: I look forward to my little girl's going to graduation and stuff. It's nice.

O'BRIEN: It's a life not without temptations.

CARTER: When you're on the streets, you're making money, you know. $5, $6,000, $7,000 a day, $10,000, you know, going to $300 a week, that's a big jump.

O'BRIEN: Good money. But Khalid says his focused is fixed.

CARTER: I'm looking straight ahead. I ain't going back. The money is good but, you know what I'm saying? It comes with a lot of risks.

You hear that? Somebody's banging.

O'BRIEN: Soledad O'Brien, CNN, Baltimore.


KING: And joining us now from Baltimore to talk more about the remarkable change in his life is Khalid Carter. You just met him in Soledad's piece there.

Khalid, you're a drug dealer for 13 years on the streets of Baltimore. Take us back. How did you get into that life?

CARTER: I mean the neighborhood I was in, you know, growing up, watching guys selling drugs, you know, it just was like something you idolize, you just want to do it, you know. I mean you could have went a different direction, but they eat you up.

KING: Do you still see that on the streets now, kids idolizing the guys dealing drugs?

CARTER: Yes, sort of -- kind of. Now it's mostly like the gangs, you know? It's like hard form. You know they need a little help, that's all. Younger kids.

KING: And can you -- could you go to them and say, look, you're going to have to make a lot less money but follow my path, give this up?

CARTER: I would hope they're watching this and see it, you know? I mean I'm a living product of it. You know I had been there, you know. I'm just trying to help.

KING: But tell me how, tell me how. You got shot, you went to prison. What was the key? When did that light go off, and you said, I'm going to turn my life around?

CARTER: Well, prison did it. Well, getting shot did it, too. But going to prison, you know, being around people with a lot of time, life, 50 years, you know, change my life around. I said no, I got to go straight, I got to get my life together, you know, because it's hard.

You know in there, you got to listen to somebody. You know on the streets, you're your own man. So you got to man up. You know that's my motto. Man up. Because you know you got to direct yourself and then be a better parent, father, friend, to your family, your kids and all that, you know.

KING: And most of this is finding the strength inside yourself. But tell us about Dr. Cooper and what you think of the Violence Intervention Project and what role, if any, it played in your decision.

CARTER: Dr. Cooper, he played a good role in my decision, you know, to cross over, because, you know, after I got shot, you know, they came to me, the program about, you know, what they can offer, you know, so I -- and the surgery -- and the bed I was laying up shot, you know, I say, I might -- I need to try this out, you know.

And I tried it out. The program is a good program, you know, it help us, you know, to be better men, fathers, you know, help us get jobs, GEDs, that one, you know. It's mostly men for real that's in there so you know -- and they've all been through the same trials and tribulations.

So the program help you out, though, plus you get one-on-one with the guy that saved your life. You know, so, it's a good -- it's a good experience and, plus, at the end...

KING: Let me ask you, in closing, Khalid, times are tough right now in Baltimore and many places across this country. You ever tempted to go back?

CARTER: No, no, I ain't no going back. Ain't no going back. Ain't that much money in the world, because there's only three things that come out of this -- jail, death or getting shot -- and all of them hurt, so ain't no need.

KING: Well, your story...


KING: Please finish.

CARTER: I said, my job, I like my job, it's cool, you know. I can live with that, working.

KING: Well, your story is a powerful inspiration and those pictures of you with your family, those young girls especially are heart warming.

CARTER: Right.

KING: We congratulate you, sir, and we really appreciate your sharing the secrets of your turn around with us tonight.

CARTER: Thank you.

KING: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

And you can see more of Khalid's story and the rest of "BLACK IN AMERICA" this weekend. The documentary will air in its entirety Saturday and Sunday nights starting at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Erica Hill joins us again now with the "360" news and business report.

Hi, Erica.

HILL: John, the FDA said today the salmonella outbreak that has now made more than 1,200 people sick across 43 states is linked to peppers imported from New Mexico. Jalapeno and Serrano peppers to be exact, but again, important to point out here, these are peppers grown in the United States.

Americans are losing their homes at an unprecedented rate. Housing foreclosures hitting record levels up to 220,000. And hardest hit is the city of Stockton, California, where 1 out of every 25 homes is in foreclosure. And Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose book, "The Last Lecture," became a runaway bestseller, died today from pancreatic cancer. Pausch used his cancer diagnosis as a springboard for that lecture he gave last September about living life to the fullest.

More than 3.2 million hits so far for that lecture on YouTube. That lecture was later turned to a book.

He leaves behind his wife, three children and millions of readers who were touched and inspired by him.

Randy Pausch was 47, John.

KING: It's a remarkable story.


KING: And now -- ready, Erica?

HILL: Always.

KING: Our "Beat 360" winners. It's our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post on the blog every day.

Tonight's picture captures John McCain and Lance Armstrong in Columbus, Ohio where they held a news conference after the Live Strong Summit.

Joey is our staff winner tonight scoring his second wind of the week with this great caption. "Look! I think that someone from the press is actually coming to one of my events."

Our winner, Kevin from Maryland. His caption, "My friends, this fine young man won the Tour de Czechoslovakia seven times."

HILL: Oh my. Very topical, Kevin. Nice work.

KING: He's paying close attention to the campaign. That's pretty good. And touche, Kevin, Your "Beat 360" t-shirt is on the way. You'll have to go on the blog and lobby Erica directly for that autograph.

You can check out all the answers...

HILL: Maybe he can get a John King autograph, how about that?

KING: Erica Hill is much more valuable on eBay, trust me. And play along tomorrow by going to our new Web site,

That does it for this edition of "360." I'm John King in for Anderson Cooper, thanks for watching.

Larry King with guest host Kathy Griffin starts right now.