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Presidential Candidates Close in on VP Choice; Borrowing from Clinton's Playbook; Obama and McCain Revealed; TSA Terror Watch List

Aired August 19, 2008 - 23:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, everybody, breaking news, late developments on the trail, as both candidates close in on their choice of a running mate.
Also, Barack Obama fighting back, making it clear nobody questions his patriotism. But John McCain already has -- new evidence tonight that character assassination works. And a question: Is John McCain borrowing a page from the Hillary Clinton playbook?

Also tonight, Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" on the government's controversial terror watch list, you know, the one that could actually have your name on it? Well, we're going to show you what it takes to get off it. It isn't easy, though.

You're also going to see how simple it is to get around it. And, frankly, that is terrifying.

But we will begin tonight with the breaking news -- new developments in the veepstakes on both sides of the ballot -- John McCain's announcement now expected on the 29th.

But sources already talking to CNN, Barack Obama expected to name a running mate this week, with the buzz targeting three names, but buzzing loudest around Delaware Senator Joe Biden.

Also, the Associated Press reporting that whoever gets the pick will appear with Senator Obama in the big rally in Springfield, Illinois over the weekend.

We have got more on all the developments now from CNN's John King, who is joining us tonight.

John, what are you hearing?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, an interesting and entertaining day in the veepstakes, even if tonight we can't say with any certainly just who either one of the candidates will pick.

Let's start with the Democrats. You mentioned Senator Joe Biden. Many sources within the Obama campaign and close to the campaign in the past couple of days have been saying he is a leading candidate to share the ticket with Barack Obama, a Democrat originally from Pennsylvania, a blue-collar guy, foreign policy experience.

So, he raised a few eyebrows a couple of hours ago when he drove past reporters and said, "Hey, I'm not the guy, guys," so essentially telling reporters, "It's not me." But Joe Biden reemerged a couple hours later, had a brief conversation with reporters again. You might say his answer this time, Campbell, was, who knows?


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I promise you, I don't know anything. I have no idea. I have spoken to no one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You gave us a scare earlier. You said, "It's not me."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you spoken with the campaign at all?

BIDEN: I have not spoken -- I have not spoken with anyone. I have not spoken with anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you're not ruling out that you're still being considered, then?

BIDEN: I have no idea. You guys know as well as I do.


KING: I checked in with a couple other Democrats thought to be and believed to be on the short list from the Obama campaign, and they say they have not heard anything definitive as well. Although, Campbell, as you noted, we are told this could come any time, that Obama is very close to making his decision.

The leading prospect, though, is that Saturday morning rally he plans at the state capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Again, it could change, but that is the target in the Obama campaign right now.

Let's switch over to the Republicans. Remember, Saturday night, at the Faith Forum out in California, John McCain said, I would be a pro-life president.

Well, just after that, I got an e-mail from a top McCain adviser who says this is the end of any talk of a running mate who supports abortion rights. It simply will not happen. We reported that Saturday night.

And, yet, since then, we are now told at least three top McCain campaign officials have spent time over the past two days calling the leaders of state delegations at the Republican Convention. Top state party officials, other Republican activists, including social conservative activists, all around the country, saying, hey, what would the reaction be if John McCain actually picked somebody who supports abortion rights?

Those calls have specifically named the former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Tom Ridge as a possibility. Again, all indications are, Campbell, John McCain, will not go that route. And, in fact, those conservatives have made clear, if he does go that route, there would be a revolt at the Republican Convention in Minneapolis. And many of those social conservatives are threatening they would stay home come November.

I will say this. Even though Ridge's name is being floated directly on those calls, many also think this could be a way for John McCain to be testing the waters to do something way outside the box. And that would be to pick Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman as his running mate.

Most think it's a smokescreen, that he will go with an anti- abortion conservative, but worth watching, Campbell.

BROWN: All right, John, stay with me.

We want to bring in -- digging deeper now, bring in CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who is on the telephone with me, and "TIME" magazine's Mark Halperin here in the studio with me, who writes the page for

And, David, let me start with you.

Rush Limbaugh said that if the McCain campaign chooses a pro- choice candidate, just to follow up on John's last point, that they will have -- quote -- "effectively destroyed the Republican Party and pushed the Conservative movement into the bleachers."

Would it really be that bad?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It won't be that bad, Campbell, but it points out the dilemma that John McCain may be creating for himself. And that is that Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman would both be very striking choices and would appeal probably a great deal to independents and indeed many, many moderate Republicans.

But, by floating this -- these options right here at the last minute, it does raise the specter that if he does not go that way, if he does not go for a pro-choice candidate, if he goes for a pro-life candidate, then, in effect, he will have allowed the Rush Limbaughs of the world to veto what he otherwise might have wanted to do.

So, I'm a little surprised they're making this quite as public as they are.

BROWN: Mark, what do you think? Is there anything to Ridge, Lieberman? What is really going on? Or is it all a smokescreen?

MARK HALPERIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I have got a theory about what is going on, based on the reporting I have done today.

First of all, I think Tom Ridge is not only not under consideration. I don't believe he's ever been, based on the Republicans I have talked to, ever serious...

BROWN: So, why are they putting it out there? Because, clearly, they are.

HALPERIN: Here's -- here's what I think they're trying to do. And, again, it's just a theory, but it's not a crazy one, not as crazy as some of the things I have said to you on the air before.

I think that Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman are people John McCain would love to serve with in the White House.

BROWN: Right.

HALPERIN: But I think he's headed toward picking Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is pro-life now, but he's been pro-choice. And I think what this -- these consultations are meant to do is to give conservatives a little bit of a scare, so, when he picks Mitt Romney, people says...

BROWN: Everybody has a sigh of relief.

HALPERIN: ... oh, at least we have got a pro-life guy. We got a guy who is currently pro-life, because, if you just pick Romney, without this setup, there would be some religious conservatives, as you know, who would be unhappy with Romney...

BROWN: Who would say, we're not sure.

HALPERIN: ... and say, he was recently pro-choice. He's flip- flopped to this position. He's not as solid as we would like to be.

Compared to Lieberman and Ridge, he's going to look very solid on that key issue.

BROWN: Mark, I -- I wonder if you have just been thinking about this way too much. You're getting deep into the weeds. But...

HALPERIN: No. You know, I have to say, it's not my theory. It's one that many Republicans have brought to me today and -- and many of our colleagues have talked about as well, because they are talking about it so openly. And I believe, as...

BROWN: There's clearly a motive behind it.

HALPERIN: I believe -- to go to the question you asked David, I believe the Republican Convention would fall apart, that John McCain would have a disastrous convention, if he chose Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge.

BROWN: John, let me bring you back in and turn to Obama, because you were just talking to us about Senator Biden saying he's not the guy. Is there any reason to believe him?

KING: Absolutely not.

BROWN: He was playing for the cameras?

KING: Absolutely not. Look, this is very difficult -- and in the last weeks -- and, in the case of Obama, we are in the last days, maybe the last 72 hours or so -- it always gets a little wacky and a little wild. And these guys are very nervous when the camera is pointed at them. They don't want to say anything that knocks them off the list. Joe Biden likes to talk to reporters. He's been uncharacteristically quiet. It was interesting that he came back and spoke again, saying, well, really, I'm not so sure.

So, it's a very tough time for all of them. And a lot of people in the Obama campaign really like Biden. And Senator Obama likes Biden. They're weighing the pros and cons there.

One quick point on the Republicans -- Mark is dead right. Most Republicans tell you they think this is something else, part of a calculation.

But, Campbell, there are a few people very close to John McCain who are making this case to him passionately, that the Republican brand is so damaged, that, if you want to win in this election year, you need to shake up the game, go outside the box, and really change things.

Now, it would be huge risk for John McCain, but there are some people very close to him who make that case to him. And he's at least listening.

BROWN: All right.

Quick point, what -- just thoughts on Obama? We focused on McCain.

HALPERIN: I think that -- that Biden is the lead choice, based on all the Democrats I have talked to. I think, based on the body language of Joe Biden, as John said, uncharacteristically quiet and...

BROWN: That's so not like him.

HALPERIN: ... and feeling his way through his words with reporters.

And I think it's the choice that makes the most sense. I believe that the second most likely choice is Evan Bayh. And I believe the third most likely is someone who has not been widely speculated about up until now.


HALPERIN: I don't know.


HALPERIN: I'm working on that.

BROWN: The surprise. All right.

Many thanks to David Gergen, to John King, and to Mark Halperin.

Thanks, guys.

You can also weigh in on the 360 blog. Just go to That's where you will also find our commercial cast and Erica Hill giving you a look behind the scenes between the blocks and on the Q.T. and totally hush-hush, or words to that effect.

Later, John McCain on the attack. The question is, did he learn his moves from Karl Rove or from Hillary Clinton?

And airport nightmares -- Drew Griffin's latest discoveries about the terror watch list. He's on it, by the way. So are a lot of other law-abiding Americans, including -- get this -- 8-year-old kids. And, getting off it, that's a whole other nightmare.

We will tell you about that -- details, when 360 continues.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Let me be clear. I will let no one question my love of this country. I love America.

I love America. So do you. And so does John McCain.


BROWN: Barack Obama today hitting back hard, after weeks of attack ads comparing him to Paris Hilton and mocking his popularity. That and John McCain on the trail suggesting Senator Obama would rather lose a war than lose the election.

Well, some new evidence tonight that the attacks are working, polling by "The L.A. Times" and Bloomberg showing his positives, down 11 points since June, his negatives up eight. So, attacks work. And that's nothing new for Republicans, though, this time around, there is a Democratic twist.

We get the "Raw Politics" now from 360's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It's "Groundhog Day" in Obama country. The presumptive Democratic nominee is still fending off those nagging questions from the primaries. Take, for example, McCain questioning whether Obama is ready to lead.


NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep.


JOHNS: Sounds a lot like the days when Hillary Clinton was running those ads about the 3:00 a.m. call into the White House. There are few accidents in politics, and this isn't one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like right now the Clinton campaign not only gave the McCain people a road map, but they actually started them down the road.

JOHNS: McCain hasn't just lifted a few pages from Senator Clinton's playbook. It looks more like he's lifted whole chapters from it, like when McCain talks about Obama giving great speeches, but not having a lot of substance.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If there's one thing he always delivers, it is a great speech. But I hope you will listen carefully, because his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric.

JOHNS: It's deja vu all over again from just a few months ago.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: There's a big difference between us: speeches vs. solution, talk vs. action. You know, some people may think words are change, but you and I know better.


JOHNS: If you take a closer look, the McCain campaign is actually doing Hillary Clinton one better. As tough as she got with Obama, she was never as consistently negative as McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the Clinton campaign demonstrated is that, if you bring him down to earth, it becomes a much more direct and a much more even battle.

JOHNS: But there is a danger for McCain. When Clinton threw these punches, Obama often came out looking like the grownup, rising above the attacks.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, I think there were some sharp elbows during the primary campaign, but I don't think there was anything that really did any serious damage. And I think it's a lot like Machiavelli. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

JOHNS: That said, McCain is still pressing for votes in the very states where Obama performed worst. And the concern among Democrats is that he will get more traction than Clinton did.

The Obama camp, for its part, dismisses the Hillary comparison. One insider said the only playbook McCain is using is the one written by George W. Bush and Karl Rove in the last presidential race.

Joe Johns, CNN, Denver, Colorado.


BROWN: So, why didn't Obama himself fire back until today?

Back with our political panel next.

Also, we will get the latest on Fay. The tropical storm is far from over. It's actually gaining strength as it drenches Florida, zeroing in on a new city. We will tell you which one.

Later, more politics -- John McCain and Barack Obama, what shaped their lives? What makes them tick? Answers revealed in a CNN special report.

This is 360.


BROWN: Talking strategy tonight, John McCain's strategy, and its kinship to Hillary Clinton's. Is he using the playbook that her campaign wrote?

We're back now with David Gergen, Mark Halperin, also with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, who has covered both campaigns.

And, David, the McCain campaign believes, as we just heard, that some of Clinton's tactics, especially questioning whether Obama is ready to lead, that that can be a real winner. Can this 3:00 a.m. ad's concept work for McCain?

GERGEN: It is working for McCain.

And the McCain team has been very open that they went to school on the Hillary Clinton campaign; that they learned from that.

And on this 3:00 a.m. ad, what's very striking, as some have pointed out over the last few days, is that Barack Obama was winning a steady streak of victories against Hillary Clinton, and then she ran that ad, and she really went on the attack on the experience question. And she won the bulk of the primaries thereafter in the closing months of the Democratic primaries, and won 500,000 more votes than he did, and almost took it away from him.

So, the -- the McCain campaign has seen that. And, as you reported, they're making gains themselves now. For the first time, if you look at an average of state by state of the polls, for the first time, today, if you look at the Electoral College, if the election were held today, again to an average of state polls, for the first time, John McCain would win.

So, this is a -- the dynamics of this campaign, as we talked about last night, are definitely changing, Campbell.

BROWN: Mark, do you agree with that? Was that a turning point, those 3:00 a.m. ads for Hillary Clinton, and she just ran out of time? And can it be sort of the same effective strategy for John McCain?

HALPERIN: I think that's part of it. I also think that it's a different electorate. The argument is a more effective argument in the general election.

So, not only do they have the advantage of having seen how Clinton failed and succeeded with that argument against Obama, but they're going after more centrist voters, more swing voters, more conservative voters, who will be a much bigger deal in the general election than they were in those primaries and caucuses.

BROWN: And, Suzanne, given how much the strategy worked, you would think, for Hillary Clinton, if you buy the argument that David and Mark are both making, shouldn't Obama have -- be a little more ready for prepared for these types of attacks?


And they say that they are, essentially, because they have looked at this and they say that it really worked well for her, especially when it came to the white working-class, blue-collar voters in those critical states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky.

So, that's why you're seeing Obama -- this week, he's going to be in Ohio. He's going to go to Indiana, places where he is targeting those voters. You also saw that clip of Hillary Clinton saying, well, some say that -- that talk is change, but talk is cheap, is what she said.

BROWN: Right.

MALVEAUX: McCain, you know, substance and style. That's why you're hearing from Obama very specific policy-oriented proposals here. There's not a lot of that kind of flash, if you will, from the earlier days.

BROWN: David, although Clinton did lose, a lot to be learned from the primary race, I guess. What do you think the biggest lesson that McCain can take from that is?

GERGEN: You know, Campbell...

BROWN: And Obama also, frankly?

GERGEN: Well, I think it's clear that McCain has learned that, you know -- the irony, of course, is Hillary Clinton lost. But she did -- she did catch on in those last -- those last weeks.

And I think that's what John McCain has learned. I think it's a central lesson for his campaign. And he's now showing it's not just the attack. I think he has got more passion. I think this whole question about choosing a pro-choice vice president is a diversion and could be -- I'm surprised that he's let himself get into this.

But I think it re-emphasizes how much Barack Obama, who I think has trouble with counterattacking -- I don't think it's in his DNA to go on the attack very much. And he needs someone at his side to help him. And he needs to run as a team.

He needs to make this the Democrats vs. the Republicans, or he could be in serious trouble. This is -- this -- this campaign is taking a much more serious turn against him much earlier than I think anyone would have imagined just a few weeks ago.

BROWN: Does McCain, though, Mark, risk going too negative too early and alienating a lot of independents? HALPERIN: He does. And David said this kind of a counterattack is not in Barack Obama's DNA. It's not -- the attack is not particularly in John McCain's DNA.

He's doing it. And one advantage he has that Hillary Clinton also had -- and made her effective is -- they believe it. John McCain believes -- you may disagree with him, but -- one may disagree with him, but he believes that Barack Obama is not prepared to be president, that these are dangerous times, that the central challenge of the next president is national security, and the war in Iraq, and the war against terror.

And he believes he would be much better and that Barack Obama would be insufficient. That animates him in a way, as David suggested, that he's not very animated about too many other things.

BROWN: All right, guys, we have to end it there, but to Suzanne, to Mark, and to David, many, many thanks.

Fay, -- hurricane -- didn't quite make it to hurricane, but Fay did -- didn't arrive in Florida quite the way you would expect a storm to come ashore. It could end up taking a second shot, one more powerful than the first. We are going to explain that.

And do you know who you are voting for this November? Well, tonight, Obama and McCain revealed, the candidates up close.

Also, a lawyer, a pilot and a 8-year-old boy have this in common: They are all named James Robinson. And, yes, they are all on the terrorist watch list.

So is CNN's Drew Griffin, who tonight is keeping the government honest. His report is coming up.


BROWN: Still to come, John McCain and Barack Obama revealed; their hardships and their triumphs -- that coming up.

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

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, it looks like Fay won't be dying down anytime soon. The storm is expected to actually grow into a Category 1 hurricane before making another landfall near Jacksonville, Florida, on Thursday. We'll keep an eye on that for you in the Severe Weather Center.

Mixed signals from Russia -- while Russian forces appear to be pulling back in places, Russian troops today were also parading captured Georgians through the town of Poti. Meantime, NATO is holding emergency meetings with members, warning that the current Georgian situation is seriously straining relations with Moscow.

LeRoi Moore, a founding member of the Dave Matthews Band, died today in Los Angeles of sudden complications which stemmed from an ATV accident back in June. The saxophonist had returned to his home in L.A. to begin an intensive physical rehab program. Moore was 46.

And, nine years later, the mystery behind a mummified hand and arm found in an Alaskan glacier is solved. Forensic experts, rather, used high-tech DNA analysis, fancy fingerprint photography, and old- fashioned legwork to connect the hand and arm to Francis Joseph Van Zandt. The 36-year-old was flying from China to New York when his plane crashed in 1948. The rumored gold cargo on board that plane, though, was never found.

BROWN: And, Erica, we have got tonight's "Beat 360" photo of John McCain there in the orange hardhat -- there he is -- getting a few pointers on offshore oil drilling during a tour of the Chevron platform in the Gulf of Mexico today.

Our winning staff caption tonight is from Jamie, who quipped: "CNN on election night: McCain takes over John King's magic board."

HILL: Oh, the candidates wish they could work that board in their favor, don't they?

Only John King controls that board.

BROWN: So true. So true.

Well, you think you can do better, go to our Web site,, click on the "Beat 360" link, and send us your entry. And we're going to announce the winner at the end of the program. The winner gets a "Beat 360" T-shirt.

Just ahead: up close and personal, Barack Obama revealed. The events that shaped him, the setbacks he overcame, and the turning points that led him to where he is now -- a CNN special report.

Plus, terror in the Grand Canyon caught on tape -- a home video that captured the raging floodwaters that trapped dozens of tourists -- tonight on 360.


BROWN: Barack Obama today in Orlando, talking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, hitting back hard today, after spending the last week or so on the beach in Hawaii, mostly out of the public eye.

It's ironic. Some people complain about seeing too much of the candidates. Yet, there's so much about what makes a candidate tick that most people never know.

And we're offering two special reports back to back tomorrow night to help you make a better decision come November -- "Barack Obama and John McCain Revealed."

Reporting the Barack Obama story, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, who is here right now with a preview for us -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Hey, Campbell. One thing that's very consistent about Barack Obama. He doesn't really let the grass grow under his feet. Even Michelle Obama talks about this.

There's a great story, Chicago South Side community organizing. He says he's really satisfied with this. But he was really kind of frustrated. There was a project where they were trying to get asbestos out of the neighborhood. It took two years. They were successful. But it really was kind of his undoing when it came to community organizing. He really felt like the power was with the politicians, and so he really made this turn.

I want you to hear a clip. This is right after his mother passed away in Hawaii, and he really came back a lot more focused.


MALVEAUX: He returned to Chicago more focused and ready to make his move into politics. When state Senator Alice Palmer tapped Obama to run for her seat, he jumped at the chance. State Senator Ricky Hendon was Palmer's friend.

RICKY HENDON, ILLINOIS STATE SENATE: Her and Barack had a discussion about him replacing her for the senate when she went to Congress. So there was an agreement between them.

MALVEAUX: But then something unexpected happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She lost the race, and she decided that she wanted to come back.

HENDON: She said, "Well, I'm going to run for re-election."

MALVEAUX: Palmer asked Obama to withdraw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he refused to step down.

HENDON: There's no way Barack could have beat Alice Palmer in that seat. It just wasn't going to happen. Alice was extremely popular.

MALVEAUX: Obama knew he couldn't beat Palmer at the ballot box. So he played hardball.

DAVID MENDELL, OBAMA'S BIOGRAPHER: He looked at her nominating petitions that she had to submit to the board of elections and could see that they were put together in a real hurry.

HENDON: And the people who she had depended on to do her petitions really did not do a good job.

WILL BURNS, FORMER CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: The rules are there for a reason.

MALVEAUX: Will Burns was an Obama volunteer who helped him challenge Palmer's petition. BURNS: One of the first thing you do whenever you're in the middle of a primary race or any rice, especially in primaries in Chicago, you look at the signatures.

MALVEAUX: Obama knocked Alice Palmer, a revered political figure, off the ballot, as well as all three other candidates. For someone whose campaign today promotes him as a different kind of politician, back then he was an avid student of Chicago-style politics.

MENDELL: Morally, he had some complications with whether he should knock this woman out of the way.

MALVEAUX: David Mendell is a Chicago reporter who wrote Obama's biography.

MENDEL: In the end, what happened is we saw the first real example of Barack Obama's cutthroat nature when it came to advancing his own career in politics.


BROWN: And Suzanne, in your piece you called it steely ambition, I think. Do you think he still has it? Do you see that out on the campaign trail?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. I mean, he definitely wants to win here. We even saw today, before this veterans' group, where he says, you know, he's a lot more aggressive in his tone, saying, "I'm not going to let anybody question my patriotism."

That clip there obviously wasn't anything illegal or anything, but it was certainly kind of that brass-knuckles politics, that kind of style that he learned, he learned in that city.

BROWN: And you talked to friends, family, people who probably really never even opened up about him ever before for this documentary. Was there anything else that really surprised you?

MALVEAUX: It's funny because a lot of times, you know, we talk about the fact that he hasn't been around in political circles as long as John McCain.

But really, when you talk to his friends and his family, and you see his life story, he's a shrewd politician. He's pragmatic. There were times, lessons learned, where he realized that he had to kind of get out of his head, out of the kind of academic intellectual role and really deal with people.

There were several times in his life where his friends, you know, made that very clear to him, including his pastor, Reverend Wright, that he needed to deal with people one on one, kind of a grassroots level.

He joined these poker games, learned to play golf. He was really kind of one of the boys, one of the guys, and that was really a way that he had that entree, that he made that transition.

BROWN: All right.

Suzanne Malveaux, can't wait to watch, coming up tomorrow night.

A quick reminder: look for "McCain and Obama Revealed," as I mentioned, tomorrow night, starting at 8 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Coming up next, our preview of "John McCain Revealed." While his time in Vietnam as a POW is well known, another less publicized event before he was shot down helped shape the young Navy pilot.

Also, keeping the TSA honest on the terrorist watch list. Drew Griffin stays on the story that is personal to him and to James Robinson; all three of them, including an 8-year-old. We'll explain. Stick around.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama opposes new drilling. He said it won't solve our problems and that it's, quote, "not real." He's wrong, and the American people know it.


BROWN: John McCain today on a Louisiana oil rig; his position on drilling pretty well known by now. The same with Iraq and a few other issues. But what makes him tick, and what ticks him off? How did a man like John McCain become a man like John McCain?

Well, the answer tomorrow night in "John McCain Revealed."

Reporting the story, CNN's John King, who's joining us, again, with a preview -- John.

KING: Well, Campbell, if you watch John McCain campaigning now, you see he just simply won't quit, and yet he often seems on the edge of the cliff politically.

To see where those come from, those traits come from, you go back in time to his military service, the pressure of being both the son and grandson of admirals in the Navy.

And also, he has several times in his life cheated death literally. Once in a training accident, he crashed into Corpus Christi Bay and almost drowned, because he couldn't get the cockpit to open. Another one of those experiences came just after he shipped off to Vietnam.


KING: Vietnam brought more dramatic change: the protestors, the believers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The confrontation dramatizes the deep split within the conscience of the country.

KING: And the first combat mission of then Lieutenant Commander John McCain. His carrier was the USS Forrestal, and on July 29, 1967, preparing for a bombing run over Vietnam, another close encounter with death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worst disaster to strike a U.S. Navy ship since World War II.

KING: A missile from a plane on the carrier's deck accidentally fired striking McCain's fuel tank and sparking a deadly inferno.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flames raced from plane to plane, fed by bombs, rockets and bullets.

KING: Twenty-one planes were destroyed, more than 130 men killed. But John McCain was somehow among the 161 men who survived.

MCCAIN: I walked out on the refueling probe and jumped off and rolled through the fire.

KING: The circle in this rare footage is McCain escaping.

MCCAIN: It was terrible. You know, I was so fortunate to get out of it, and then I saw all those other people literally sacrificing their lives to fight the fire and save the ship.

There were these individuals lying there terribly burned. One of the individuals said, "Another pilot said he didn't make it. Did he?"

I said, "No, he made it. He's fine."

And he said, "Thank God," and died. You know, those -- those kinds of, you know, sacrifices are really remarkable.


BROWN: And John, talk to us about how McCain's experiences in Vietnam shaped his campaign and how much it could help in this election.

KING: Well, he hopes in the end that it helps, Campbell, when he makes the case that he has the experience, the judgment, the character to be commander in chief, and that Barack Obama, to listen to John McCain, he would say simply isn't ready.

There are other ways you see Vietnam's legacy, though. No. 1, in how he views when you deploy U.S. troops overseas. You saw that as a freshman House member when he opposed Ronald Reagan on sending those Marines into Lebanon. Tragically, 241 were killed.

And you saw it during the Iraq war, when even though he supported the war in Iraq, he from very early on, said the United States, President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld were not sending enough troops to get the job done.

One other physical legacy of Vietnam. You won't see John McCain doing many of the things we always see in TV-age politics. He can't throw a baseball or go bowling or even pick up a baby, because he can't lift his arms over his shoulders, Campbell, because of the physical toll of the beatings and torture of his POW days.

BROWN: And John, Senator McCain has been in the public eye for 25 years now. Were there any surprises during this documentary?

KING: There actually were quite a few surprises. You'll see the irascible temper of John McCain in this documentary, but you'll also see some surprising soft and tender moments.

And one of the biggest surprises will be two Democrats who have worked very closely with him, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Tom Daschle, the former Democratic leader. They say yes, they've been on the receiving end of John McCain's temper.

But while both say they want Barack Obama to be president and they think he would make a better president, they both say Democrats are wrong when they say John McCain is too temperamental, that they would not lose any sleep if he does, in the end, beat Barack Obama.

BROWN: All right.

CNN's John King. We will be watching the documentary, John. Thanks very much.

And once again, you can catch "McCain Revealed" and Suzanne Malveaux with "Obama Revealed" back-to-back tomorrow night, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Up next, Drew Griffin gets tough with a cute blonde 8-year-old child. Could he be a terrorist?





BROWN: Well, James Robinson is on the terrorist watch list, as are an estimated million names. What is going on at the TSA? We are "Keeping Them Honest."

And this may seem shocking, but the recent discovery of a 7'7" Big Foot in the hills of North Georgia was, in fact, a fraud. I know, you're shocked; stunning but true. We're going to have the details on the hoax, coming up next.


BROWN: Now a story we've been following for months: a major glitch in the system that is supposed to keep the airlines and us safe.

Those long lines we all know so well are actually the least of it. The worst is when your name ends up on the government's so-called terror watch list by mistake. That is when life really becomes miserable.

Since our investigative reporter Drew Griffin first reported on his own problems with the list, dozens of viewers have written to tell us their stories. And you are about to meet three of them. They share a name and a place on what seems to be the list of no escape.

"Keeping Them Honest," here is CNN special investigations unit correspondent Drew Griffin.


GRIFFIN: Looking for terrorists? Meet the Robinsons. James, the former assistant U.S. attorney general and Washington lawyer, on the terror watch list.


GRIFFIN: This James Robinson is a retired Air National Guard brigadier general. He still flies as a pilot for a major airline and -- get this -- is licensed by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit, but he's not allowed to check his luggage at the curb.

JAMES ROBINSON, AIRLINE PILOT: They've got these two lists that aren't talking to each other. I'm carrying a weapon, flying a multi- million-dollar jet with passengers, but I'm still screened as a, you know, on the terrorist watch list.

GRIFFIN: And this James Robinson is, well, James Robinson, the third grader.

Are you a terrorist?


GRIFFIN: Don't laugh. Apparently James' government still doesn't know either, because for the last three years, every time he goes to the airport with his family, James is singled out as a potential terror suspect.

Do you feel like anybody in government cares about you?


GRIFFIN: It all started about the same time for all three of our James Robinsons. The Robinsons of California were heading to New York, dropped off at the curb to check in and...

D. ROBINSON: All of a sudden, we were told, "No, you can't check in at curb side."

GRIFFIN: At the ticket counter, mass confusion, lots of phone calls and a ticket agent who kept asking the same question.

D. ROBINSON: Then all of a sudden, he goes, "How old is he?"

I said, "He's 5."

And he was on the phone, "He's 5."

We were like, what is going on?

And so he hung up and he said, "I can't tell you anything." But he said, "I'm going to print out some information for you, and I'll give it to you. And you just do what is on this information that I'm going to give you."

GRIFFIN: The information was on how to contact the TSA to get off a terror watch list, which according to the head of Homeland Security, should be very easy.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: There's actually a simple solution to this. If you can get from the innocent John Smiths, your date of birth or some other additional unique identifying fact, you can put that into the system. And then when they present that identification, you're immediately taken out of the system.

GRIFFIN: Here's the problem. Every one of these James Robinsons did exactly that, three years ago. Like me, they followed the procedures, sending passports, date of birth information. The older Jims sent in driver's license and voter registration cards, but all of us are still on it.

Captain James Robinson suspects he and the 8-year-old James and the attorney James will never get off.

JAMES ROBINSON, AIRLINE PILOT: There's going to come a point in time where everybody is going to be on the watch list.

GRIFFIN: Now the twist which won't make you feel any better about security.

This continues to happen?


GRIFFIN: And what do you do?

D. ROBINSON: Well, I found ways around it.

GRIFFIN: Tip a sky cap, she says, the watch list disappears.

D. ROBINSON: And they'll take it straight to the ticket agent and they'll do whatever they need to do. And he comes back, and he'll say, "Here's your boarding pass."

GRIFFIN: Denise has also booked James as J. Pierce and avoided the list. Captain James says "Jim Robinson" or "J.K. Robinson" are not on the list.

I myself have placed my first and middle name together as one and avoided the hassle.

D. ROBINSON: The fact that I can go to the sky cap and I can get on pretty easily, and the fact that I can change his name, it -- you know, it just means that it's far from being an airtight system.

GRIFFIN: January 2009 is when the TSA is expected to roll out its next possible solution: the secure flight program. Maybe then the attorney James, the captain James and the 8-year-old James will no longer be considered the terrorist James, whoever that is.


BROWN: So, Drew, if it is so easy to beat the system, what good is it?

GRIFFIN: Very, very good question. But the Department of Homeland Security says that -- well insists really, Campbell, that despite these minor glitches, this process, this watch list is keeping terrorists off of flights. It is working. That's what they say.

But as we've pointed out, an 8-year-old can beat the system. That's one thing. But Campbell, when a news reporter can beat the system, we might have some problems here.

BROWN: All right, Drew Griffin for us. As always, Drew thanks.

And Drew's investigation isn't over. He is keeping a close eye on this story and the list that is causing so many law-abiding people so many problems.

Coming up on 360, something a little less serious tonight.

Cats are supposed to have nine lives, but how about four ears? Check it out. And how about a two-headed turtle? What's up with that? "The Shot" is ahead.

But first Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Campbell, a home video shows just how terrifying those flood waters in the Grand Canyon were over the weekend. The video that you're looking at was taken by a group of campers in a remote part of the canyon where they spent a harrowing night before being rescued the next day.

And today, officials did update the count on people who they were looking for. They said they have now found everybody who was initially possibly missing. All of those folks are safe.

Heavy rains have forced hundreds of people in southern Texas to evacuate their homes move north today, causing more flooding and evacuations in that drought-plagued state. In the south, floodwaters are receding.

And it turns out -- I really hope you're sitting down for this one -- Big Foot, the reputed Big Foot discovery was, in fact, a hoax. It's true.

Two researchers who paid an undisclosed amount for the alleged body encased in ice thawed the ice block and found inside a rubber gorilla costume. Yes. I have to say I'm not shocked, but it's unfortunate that they fell for it.

BROWN: And it bears a striking resemblance to our very own.

HILL: Our very own what? Oh, our gorilla. What are you saying, Campbell? Come on.

BROWN: Oh, my gosh. Heavens no. Not to our gorgeous Erica Hill.

OK. So now our "Beat 360" winners. It is, of course, 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 our blog every day.

Tonight's picture, Senator John McCain checks out the control room at a Chevron oil rig platform in the Gulf of Mexico during a tour today.

Our staff winner tonight is Jamie. His caption: "CNN Election Night: McCain takes over John King's magic board."

HILL: John McCain. And Barack Obama, they'd both like to take over that board, I think.

BROWN: Our viewer winner is Michelle from Ontario. And her caption: "Press one for oil. Press two for VP nominee."

HILL: I like it. Very clever.

BROWN: Me, too. Great job, Michelle. Well, your "Beat 360" T- shirt is on the way.

HILL: Lucky girl.

BROWN: You can check out all the entries we received on our blog and, of course, play along by going to our Web site,

HILL: Hey, Campbell, I think we may have a late -- a late add, too. A late -- hold on, I'm getting word from Sean. He's going to tell me in my ear.

BROWN: Go ahead.

HILL: Apparently, Drew Griffin also entered and his -- what was his? "Drop the pot there, bubba. That's where the crabs are hitting." That was the Drew Griffin entry, a late entry.

Fine work, Mr. Griffin. I'm glad you're on the airport watch list story. That's not getting you off either.

All right. Still ahead, a cat and a turtle that turn heads wherever they go. They both came with extra parts. One has four ears, the other two heads. They don't seem to mind, though. But we can't stop staring.


BROWN: Time now for our "Shot of the Day," which takes us to Chicago and a couple who had recently lost their beloved cat after 20 years. They vowed never to get another cat. Then they walk into this bar one night and meet...

HILL: It sounds like a joke.

BROWN: I know. So the couple walks into a bar, and they meet a four-eared kitten, who needed a home. Apparently, this kitten was being passed around the bar. Valerie Rock...

HILL: I had an interesting picture of this poor little kitten with four ears being passed around a bar. Like, "Hey, did you see the cat with four ears?"

BROWN: Well, she and her husband fell in love with this tiny kitten after he took him from the cage and then the kitten went to sleep on his shoulder.

HILL: So sweet.

BROWN: I know. They named him Yoda. And it turns out, apparently, that four-eared cats are so rare that the Rocks had a chip put in his ear in case he's cat-napped.

HILL: Terrible. I hope nobody cat-naps that sweet cat who found a loving home.

BROWN: I know.

HILL: But sadly, yes, the cat's back. Love that cat. He's crazy. But check this out. OK. So this is a two-headed turtle.

BROWN: You're trying to trump my four-eared cat?

HILL: I see your four-eared cat, Campbell Brown, and I raise you a two-headed turtle, which was, in fact, turtle-napped, stolen on Sunday from a pet shop in Brooklyn. And the owner is very seriously worried for the animal's survival because apparently -- don't laugh -- each head has to be fed separately or they will fight over the food. So it's very important that whoever stole the turtle knows this.

Also, the owner is worried that it could -- apparently -- the owner is worried that it could slip and drown in water.

BROWN: You made that up. The heads fight over the food?

HILL: Listen, that's what was in the article in the "New York Daily News."

BROWN: It's a tough world out there.

HILL: Especially if you're a two-headed turtle.

BROWN: OK. You can see all the most recent shots on our Web site, There you can also see other segments from the program, read the blog, check out the "Beat 360" picture. The address again,

That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.