Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Democratic Leader Under Fire; On the Trail of Terror; Behind the Scenes of Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign

Aired January 11, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: racially charged. Words coming back to haunt Senator Harry Reid -- what he said two years ago about then Senator Barack Obama and why some are now calling for his resignation. We will talk to the authors of that new book that revealed what Reid said.

Plus, the secrets of the presidential campaign -- the authors reveal what you did not know was happening behind the scenes of Hillary Clinton's campaign and why she had a war room within a war room to deal with her husband.

And, later, we're on the trail of terror, tracking the Christmas bomber. We will take you to Yemen to meet the father of the radical cleric who may have encouraged the attempted attack and may have encouraged the Fort Hood shooter as well.

First up, though, the new book about the 2008 presidential race that is shaking up Washington and has some calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to resign. The book is "Game Change" by veteran political reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. We will have my interview with them in a moment.

But, first, take a look at these remarks that Senator Reid made in 2008. The authors quote Reid saying he believed Obama could succeed as a black presidential candidate partly because of his -- quote -- "light-skinned appearance" and also that he spoke -- quote -- "with no Negro dialect, unless we wanted to have one."

Reid apologized over the weekend and again today. Listen.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I have apologized to the president, I have apologized to everyone that -- within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words.

So, I'm -- I'm not going to dwell on this anymore. It's in the book. I have made all the statements that I'm going to.


COOPER: A few hours later, President Obama responded in an interview with CNN political analyst Roland Martin that's going to air later this month on TV One. Here's an excerpt.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a good man who has always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense.


COOPER: Well, you heard it. The president said he took Reid comments, inartful as they may have been, as praise.

Still, a lot of Republicans calling for Reid's resignation. Some insist a double standard is at work, that, if a Republican had said what Reid did, they would be run out of office.

We talked earlier to CNN political contributors Bill Bennett and James Carville about that.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that he probably was inelegant to tell a reporter that. But I think there's a very important distinction to make. He was giving not his personal view -- he was actually like endorsing President Obama -- but he was giving what he thought the reaction of the electorate would be.

I think it's silly to call for him to be called on to resign over this. But I'm sure, if he had to say it again, he would say it differently.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought it was, if not a racist comment, a way out-of-touch comment. And I thought the worst part is not being focused on, which is when he talks about Barack Obama not using a Negro dialect unless he wants to. That is, it's something he turns on and off. That's offensive in more ways than racial.

Obviously, the comments are not -- are not helpful. And I do think there's a double standard when it comes to issues like this. We heard this before. You remember, back in the Clinton administration, a famous journalist comment, as long as he's supporting women's issues, you know, we're perfectly fine what he does with Monica Lewinsky.

It isn't. It isn't fine. It isn't fine to talk like this. Who the heck talks like this anymore?


COOPER: As critical as he was, Bill Bennett was not calling for his resignation, however.

Let's dig deeper with Soledad O'Brien, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, and Peter Beinart, a senior political adviser for The Daily Beast.


COOPER: Roland, you just interviewed President Obama earlier today. What did -- what did you think of his reaction to all this?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, they were clearly eager to address this issue, because, as he said, you know, it could just take on a life of its own, if you will, because it began -- people go on and on and on.

But he made it perfectly clear. Senator Reid is a friend and he has been right on the various issues. And that's the same response, frankly, Anderson, I have heard from African-Americans all across this country, that you're not dealing with someone who has a negative history or who has often voted against the interests of African- Americans. And he -- and the president said, his comments were not mean-spirited. And people are not actually looking at them that way.

COOPER: Peter, though, isn't that a double standard? I mean, there are plenty of Republicans who will say, well, look, if a Republican said this, you know, there would be even more calls for his resignation.

PETER BEINART, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: You know, the funny thing is, a Republican did say this. Colin Powell in 1995 said almost exactly this when asked why white people liked him. He said it's partly because of my skin color and my speech pattern. He was speaking the truth.

It's a very ugly truth that certainly I think most African- Americans and probably even what most white Americans know, which is that we have a deep history of skin color preference in this country, which disadvantages dark-skinned African-Americans in particular. White Americans are less willing to vote for dark-skinned African- Americans. It's ugly, but it's the truth, and we should talk about it.

COOPER: Soledad, besides the -- quote, unquote -- "Negro dialect" which Harry Reid referred to, which is sort of a bizarre phrasing of anything, is there truth to what he said?


First of all, if you're running for reelection and you have part of your electorate that is black, don't call them Negroes. Don't use the word Negro. I think -- I actually don't think that there is not a double standard there. People would say the same thing. That is stupid. So, I don't think there's a double standard.

I don't think it's bizarrely phrased. I think it's anachronistic. I think it's a throwback. I think he misspoke and now he's really paying the price for it.

COOPER: But in terms of what Peter mentioned in terms of a light-termed bias, does that exist?

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, I think that there's certainly historical fact for that. If you look back certainly at slavery, you can see that clearly. And there have been many, many studies that show that there have been, when you look at elected officials -- Peter has done a lot of research, and the stuff that he has written for The Daily Beast is about this -- elected officials are more likely to be elected who have lighter skin.

And I think people would also talk about that in conversation. These are not conversations that people don't have. Black people talk about this.

COOPER: Right.

O'BRIEN: White people talk about it -- don't talk about it together, but they talk about it.

So, I think what Harry Reid has done is sort of raise the lid on something people have discussed. And it's like, ooh, you're a politician; don't do that.

COOPER: Well, Roland, that's what Peter was saying in his article, basically, that Harry Reid was just speaking the truth about things, I mean, Again, setting aside the "Negro dialect" line.

MARTIN: Well, again, one thing I have always observed, we always say we like politicians to speak truth to power until they actually begin to speak. And then we say, shh. Be quiet.


MARTIN: But Soledad makes a great point.

Last year, at Northwestern University, they released a study that shows lighter-skinned African-American CEOs with -- who had a more baby face appeared to be more docile, not as angry. People were more accepting of them being a CEO.

And, so, you're sitting there saying, what's the big deal there? There are black men right now in corporate America. There are black men in buildings, media companies all over the place where you don't want to be called the angry black man. They change how they walk, what they wear. They cut their beards. They look certain ways because they know people are going to make a decision based upon how they look and how they sound.

If we never, ever talk about this stuff, then we don't realize it even exists. And, so, as a black man, look, I'm very sensitive if somebody says, Roland, you're an angry guy, because I know exactly what that means to somebody else's ears. That could have a negative on me in the future.

COOPER: Right.

MARTIN: And, so, if we never talk about it, we never learn from it.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Roland and Peter and Soledad in just a moment.


COOPER: Hey, let us know what you think about this debate. You can join the live chat right now at I'm about to log on.

Much more ahead about politics and race and why some are saying that Harry Reid was merely speaking the truth, as we just heard, about an ugly reality that studies show even young kids pick up on. And I want to take you -- just show you little bit of something we're going to show you more after the commercial break, this experiment that was done with very young African-American kids. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show me the doll that is the nice doll? And why is that the nice doll?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you show me the doll that looks bad? OK. And can you give -- and why does that look bad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's black.


COOPER: Incredibly disturbing study. We will show you more of that and talk about it.

Also ahead, Harry Reid's remarks, they are not the only bombshell in the new book "Game Change." Secrets from the Clinton campaign are spilled as well, from Hillary Clinton's initial response to the invitation to be secretary of state, to what enraged her after her victory in New Hampshire -- all that ahead.



COOPER: We're talking about the fallout from comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about then Senator Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. His words, which appear in the new book "Game Change," have some Republicans calling for Reid to step down. According to the book's authors, Reid described Obama as "light- skinned" and possessing -- quote -- "no Negro dialect."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Reid is benefiting from a double standard. Listen.


MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: The thing about it that's interesting is that, when Democrats get caught saying racist things, you know, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell saying that about an African- American candidate for president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the DNC would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.


COOPER: Well, Trent Lott, as you remember, was forced to step down as Senate majority leader back in 2002, after saying in a public speech essentially that the country would have been better off voters had elected Strom Thurmond for president in 1948. Thurmond, of course, ran on a secessionist platform that embraced segregation.

So, let's dig deeper with our panel.

Joining me again, Soledad O'Brien, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, and Peter Beinart, senior writer for The Daily Beast, who wrote an interesting essay about this on The Daily Beast.

Roland, is there a double standard.


COOPER: I mean, if a Democrat -- if a Republican had said this, would people be freaking out more?

MARTIN: Yes, absolutely.

O'BRIEN: But...

MARTIN: I mean, look, let's just be honest about it. There is a double standard.

But here is the difference when you begin to dig deeper. And that is, you look at a person's history. You look at also what they said and the context of what they said. And, so, if you're talking about Senator Trent Lott, when you look at the comment, America would have been better off had he been elected, he ran on a segregation ticket as a Dixiecrat, oh, you hear that comment, it's a whole different deal, and the fact that Lott, his voting record from the NAACP, F.

Hilary Shelton with the NAACP Washington bureau, talked to him today. He said Reid, A. And, so, your history plays a role. The reality is, I don't care what the story is. When you have a history that is positive and people view in a different way, you're given more leeway than somebody else who has a terrible history.

COOPER: In terms of research, is there truth in what Harry Reid said, in terms of -- I mean, in your article, you say he's actually commenting on American attitudes toward race more than expressing his own attitudes toward race.

Is there -- are there facts to back up what he's saying?

BEINART: Absolutely. You know, Jennifer Hochschild of Harvard and Vesla Weaver of the University of Virginia showed that light-skinned Americans -- candidates win elections at a higher rate. They showed that -- go back to 19 -- 1865, for governor, Senate and House of Representatives, light-skinned African-Americans are way over-represented.

There was a study which actually darkened and lightened Obama's image. And they showed it. Interestingly, Obama voters thought that the lighter image was correct. McCain voters thought the darker image was correct.

COOPER: I want to play something. This is from a documentary called "A Girl Like Me." It's a documentary from 2005 that a woman named Kiri Davis did. And it looks at the importance of color and hair and facial features among young African-American women. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're pretty -- you're prettier if you're light-skinned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew people in the past that, like, just like wanted to be light-skinned, not for any particular reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since, I was younger, I -- I also considered being lighter as a form of beauty.


COOPER: I mean, Soledad, is that something one hears from -- from African-American women, that there is this sort of...

O'BRIEN: Michelle Obama has changed a lot of that, thank God, is what I will say.

COOPER: Yes. I mean...

O'BRIEN: You know, there's no question colorism is a gigantic problem in this country.

COOPER: Colorism?

O'BRIEN: Colorism, yes, you know, valuing people by the color of their skin.

But I think that some of that is society also saying that that is the value. Michelle Obama's changed all that. Michelle Obama has made everybody want to run out and get great biceps, too. You know, she's done a lot on that just by being first lady.

COOPER: Well...


MARTIN: Anderson, Dr. Kenneth Clark -- people forget, the reason the Brown vs. Board of Education case took on such importance, because Dr. Kenneth Clark used two dolls, white doll, black doll.

The black children saw the black doll with their hair, with their features as being ugly and negative compared to the white doll.

COOPER: Yes. You know, Roland, let me show you -- let me show that.

MARTIN: It was that data that played a role.

COOPER: It's this doll experiment. It's in Kiri's documentary. I just want to show that to our viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you show me the doll that is the nice doll? And why is that the nice doll?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can you show me the doll that looks bad? OK. And can you give -- and why does that look bad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's black.


COOPER: Roland, I mean, it's pretty stunning when you actually see that, African-American kids, you know, saying the white doll is the bad doll -- is the good doll, and the black doll is the bad doll.

MARTIN: Even among African-Americans, there has been this view that lighter is better.

In fact, some black fraternities and sororities used to have what is called the paper bag test. If you were darker than the paper bag, you could not get into that particular fraternity or sorority.

And, so, this whole notion of color is -- plays a role in white communities, in black communities.


O'BRIEN: But, you know, the bottom line, those children in that documentary are very young. And, so, what they're getting are societal messages that tell them that.

MARTIN: That's right.

BEINART: But, you know...

O'BRIEN: These are not children who now at age 20 have decided this on their own. And why is that? Look at television, frankly. There are these messages that are sent about what the roles are.

Look at any doll in any -- an ad for any doll.

COOPER: Right.

O'BRIEN: The black doll is the doll that is sitting in the back, and the white doll is the doll that is doing all the fun things. It's not a surprise.

COOPER: Peter?

BEINART: And you know who's written about that? You know who's written about this very eloquently? Barack Obama in "Dreams From My Father."


BEINART: He writes very powerfully about it.

This is why Senator Reid, I think, has done something good, because there are too many people who are saying that, with Barack Obama's election, we have put racism behind us. And what we're now beginning to -- this is opening up a conversation which shows, in fact, that, in a peculiar way, even Barack Obama's election is testament of how far we still have to go.

O'BRIEN: I'm not sure Senator Reid feels that way.



BEINART: Well, accidentally.

MARTIN: Peter, only if -- Peter, only -- Peter, only if we're truly willing to have a conversation...


MARTIN: ... and not yell at each other, and cuss folks out, but say, wait a minute, let me just have an understanding of where you're coming from and let's find common ground here. If we don't, then it's a failure on our part.

COOPER: We're all about not yelling on this program and intelligent discussions.


COOPER: And I appreciate all of you for doing that.

Soledad O'Brien, Roland Martin, Peter Beinart, good to have you along. Thanks.


MARTIN: Thanks, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, how much do you think race relations really have changed since President Obama's election? Let's go to right now and check in on the live chat. And feel free to let us know what you think about that, discussions moving a lot about -- talking a lot about Harry Reid right now. I'm talking to viewers as well, but join in the conversation, won't you?

Up next: more surprises from the 2008 presidential campaign. I'm telling you this book, "Game Change," it's really fascinating -- I'm been reading it for the last couple of weeks -- including the war room created by Hillary Clinton's camp, the authors say, to deal with her husband.


JOHN HEILEMANN, "NEW YORK": Hillary was incensed to hear that people were talking about her, her friends, and said, you have to get ready to deal with this if it explodes in the press. And, further, we need to know whether it's true or not.


COOPER: Well, we will tell you what they're talking about.

Later, Sarah Palin's new job, from shunning the media to being part of it. We will tell you what she's going to be doing at her new network home.

We will be right back.


COOPER: Well, the book that's causing Senator Harry Reid so much grief tonight, with many calling for his resignation, is "Game Change" by veteran reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. They pooled their extensive sources. They interviewed more than 300 people, Democratic and Republican insiders, for this. They had a lot access to insiders, covered the campaigns themselves, the historic 2008 presidential campaign.

It's making a lot of waves in Washington and beyond, number one on now. I talked to the authors earlier for the big 360 interview.


COOPER: Are you surprised that the Harry Reid quote about -- about President Barack Obama is getting the most attention at this point? Because, in the list of things that your publisher sent out to get people interested, that wasn't even included.

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Look, one of the things that happens if you spend time doing 300 interviews with over 200 people and get the kind of access we work to get with people in Republican campaigns and Democratic campaigns is, as we were happy to find out, you can come up with a lot of news. So, given how much other news we think there is in the book on a range of topics, we're surprised that this one is getting such a disproportionate amount of the attention.

COOPER: As people read the book, one of the things that are going to surprise them is the extent to which a number of very big, you know, well-known Democratic senators were, behind the back of Hillary Clinton, who were publicly endorsing Hillary Clinton, behind her back were encouraging then Senator Barack Obama to get into the race.

HALPERIN: In fact, that's, we believe, a bigger story about Harry Reid. He was, as the Senate leader, first among equals in what we call a conspiracy of whisperers, people who thought that Hillary Clinton would be devastating as the nominee of the Democratic Party, that she would probably lose the general election and would hurt Democrats down-ballot.

So, people like Harry Reid, who were ostensibly neutral, Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York who endorsed Hillary Clinton publicly, and many others would lobby Barack Obama on the Senate floor, privately, and sometimes in groups, to say, you have got to get in this race. They didn't see any other Democrat who could beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. And they thought she was going to be a potential big problem because of her being so polarizing and because of worries about her husband's personal life.

COOPER: That's what -- her husband's personal life, that was a big concern?

HEILEMANN: Yes. And they would add that it was a big, it was a huge concern, because they felt that, in the Democratic nomination fight, that would never come out, but the Republicans were aware enough of these rumors that they would dig into it, and then they would drop it like a bombshell in the fall and destroy Democratic prospects up- and down-ballot.

And what was so interesting about this conspiracy was that they all would say to Obama, you need to run , but we can't come out for you. You know, they were so fearing of retribution by the Clintons, because they still assumed that Hillary was, in fact, going to win.

They're -- basically, we can't publicly be for you, but privately, we will have your back. And, once you get close enough, we will help you go over the edge, which is exactly what they did, when you saw the superdelegates suddenly flood to him at the end of the nomination fight.

COOPER: And you say Chuck Schumer, New York senator, was in on this, was part of it, perhaps one of the best known. He has said that your reporting was -- quote -- "ridiculous."

HALPERIN: Well, let's see him be more specific about what he's calling ridiculous. It's easy to sort of give a blanket statement.

It is a fact that Chuck Schumer was fascinated by Barack Obama, thought he would be a strong candidate, and lobbied him to get into the race, including, on at least one occasion, literally double- teaming him with Harry Reid, saying, we think you should run for president. Now is your time.

COOPER: This is a quote from Charles Schumer's, Senator Schumer's office to Dana Bash -- quote -- "Senator Schumer did have conversations with Senator Obama long before Senator Clinton announced and told him he would a be good candidate. But he told Senator Obama at the time that, should Clinton announce, which was expected, he would fully back her. From the day she announced to the day she withdrew, he was a full and complete supporter of Senator Clinton and gave no help to the Obama campaign."

That's from Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon.

HALPERIN: I would say that is 80 percent accurate, but most -- maybe higher -- that does not conflict with what he say about him in a book. It's a very carefully worded statement that doesn't conflict.

But it also doesn't speak to the role he played in encouraging Barack Obama to run, knowing that Hillary Clinton was going to make the race and that he needed someone else in the race, along with many other Democratic senators.

COOPER: You also write in the book about concerns, as you said, about Bill Clinton, that maybe Republicans would have been aware of, but also that it was a big concern within Hillary Clinton's campaign. And you describe that there was a war room within the war room just dedicated to this.


HEILEMANN: Well, when -- when Hillary was -- was getting ready to run in 2006, Patti Solis Doyle, who would be her campaign manager, would go around to Capitol Hill and say, my boss is getting ready to run. What do you think?

And Democrats would say, we think she's great. She will be a great candidate. She will be a very good president, but what are you going to do about Bill Clinton? Because they had been hearing these rumors about Clinton's personal life. They were very concerned.

And Patti Solis Doyle started to hear more and more that there were conference calls taking place amongst senior Clinton backers, people who were sympathetic to Hillary Clinton, people who had been in her husband's Cabinet, who were talking on the phone and saying, you know, Bill Clinton is -- is jeopardizing Hillary Clinton's future here with his reckless behavior.

She conveyed that information to Hillary. Hillary was incensed to hear that people were talking about her, her friends were talking about her that way behind her back and about her husband that way. But she needed to know the truth.

And, so, she put together this -- this group, this war room within a war room, that consisted of three of her senior aides, including Patti Solis Doyle, Cheryl Mills, currently a senior figure on her staff in the State Department, and Howard Wolfson, her communications strategist, and said, you have to get ready to deal with this if it explodes in the press.

And, further, we need to know whether it's true or not. And they engaged in an investigation and came to the conclusion that, in fact, there was, in one instance, a woman that Bill Clinton was engaged in a serious romantic relationship with. And they needed to know that, so they could prepare for the political fallout if it became public.

COOPER: You -- you use a lot of anonymous sources in your book. And, obviously, it opens you up to criticism that you're just hearing from people who have gripes or scores to settle and are just gossiping and passing that along.

HALPERIN: Inaccurate to characterize it that way. I will give you -- I will try to walk you through why we were so very careful.

John and I have been political reporters for a long time. We weren't dealing with strangers. We were dealing with people who we have dealt with over years, both Democrats and Republicans, people we know and whose credibility we're familiar with and what their agendas are.

In addition, 300 interviews, not short interviews, sometimes interviews of six or seven hours long, with over 200 people, meaning we reinterviewed people when we would piece stories together, go back to people, and say, we want to make sure these accounts fit together.

One of the most surprising things in all of our reporting was how little disagreement, even on the most controversial issues, there was amongst our sources. There were almost no instances in which we had to really press people and say, this -- person A says this, person B says this.

We are very confident.


COOPER: We're going to have more revealing stories from the 2008 campaign trail ahead. Our interview continues, including the insider account of how President Obama convinced Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state. She said no at first, and the concerns that she shared during a candid late-night phone call with him.


HALPERIN: "The ultimate reason," she says, "is my husband." She says: "He is going to be a problem. You know what it's like when he's around. It's going to be a problem for both of us if I take this job."


COOPER: Fascinating interview ahead. Plus, Simon Cowell's big announcement. He's saying goodbye to "American Idol." We will tell you when and what he's going to do next.

We will be right back.


COOPER: Coming up: new developments in the Fort Hood shooting rampage. The Defense Department says superiors of the suspect, Nidal Hasan, ignored their own concerns about his extremist views. We're going to have details in that report ahead.

But, first, Jessica Yellin has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, New Jersey lawmakers today passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. A supporter of the bill, Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign it into law before leaving office next week. The bill allows patients with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS to buy up to two ounces of marijuana a month from state-monitored dispensaries.

The showdown over California's same-sex marriage ban is under way in federal court. Two Los Angeles couples are asking a judge to overturn the ban, known as Proposition 8. They're arguing it's unconstitutional. No matter what the judge decides, the case is expected to land in the U.S. Supreme Court for a final ruling.

President Obama is considering a tax or a fee on banks to help the U.S. Recover bailout funds. The federal government spent about $205 billion to help banks through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. So far about $122 billion of that has been repaid.

And "American Idol" fans, get out your hankies. Simon Cowell says this season will be his last on "American Idol."


YELLIN: I know. Despite -- despite making a reported $36 million a year -- ouch -- the caustic judge is jumping ship to bring his British talent show, "The X Factor," to the U.S. on FOX next year.

COOPER: It's actually a brilliant move, because not only does he give publicity to "American Idol," which I think starts tomorrow. He's also, you know, giving publicity to his new show, which he's going to make a bazillion dollars from anyway.

YELLIN: I can only imagine what he's making on the new show.

COOPER: It's a rule of TV: no matter what, Simon Cowell wins.

YELLIN: So true.

COOPER: You can join the live chat right now at Really good discussion under way right now about Harry Reid. Coming up next, fascinating insider accounts from the 2008 campaign trail. Going to hear more from those two authors including details of a heated exchange between Bill Clinton and Senator Ted Kennedy about then-candidate Obama.


HEILEMANN: Bill Clinton calls him a few days after the Iowa caucuses and becomes very emotional and very heated with Kennedy. They get in a huge argument on the phone. The culmination of that argument is Bill Clinton saying, "A few years ago this guy would have been serving us coffee."


COOPER: What did he mean by that? We'll talk about that with the authors.

Plus, life for Sarah Palin is about to get busier. The former governor has a new gig. Details ahead.


COOPER: Want to return to the big 360 interview and extraordinary new details from the historic 2008 presidential campaign. It's all part of the new book "Game Change," a book by veteran political journalists Mark [SIC] Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

The book reveals the frantic, contentious, behind-the-scenes dealings between the Obama and Clinton camps, including Senator Hillary Clinton's initial refusal to be secretary of state.

Let's get back to our discussion with John and Mark.


COOPER: There's one exchange then you have between then President-elect Obama and Senator Clinton where Senator Clinton, is a late-night phone call. She has tried to turn down the job as secretary of state. She's been offered it. It surprised her at first to be offered it. She's trying to turn it down. But then -- then President-elect Obama is talking her into it.

HALPERIN: This was an extraordinary moment between them. As you said, she didn't want to take it. From the meeting -- she came out of her meeting in Chicago with Barack Obama, where he put this on the table, much to her surprise, after the election, during the transition.

She's like, "I don't want to do this. I'm tired. I want to go back to the Senate. You -- have more of an anonymity in my life. Spend time with Chelsea. Go to Broadway shows."

Obama said, "I need you to do this." She was lobbied by Rahm Emanuel, who was running the transition; John Podesta, who was working on the transition; Bill Clinton; Joe Biden. The four of them kind of ganged up on her, along with almost everyone she consulted, said, take this job.

After a week she decided she didn't want it. She finally got Barack Obama on the phone, and they had this phone call. What's most interesting to us is they have this long relationship, right, going back to 2004 where Obama's running for Senate, where Hillary is supportive of him. A lot of respect. Obama gets elected to the Senate, supports, goes to her for advice.

During this phone call she says, "I'm really reluctant to take this. I've got to turn you down." She gives a range of reasons. But the ultimate reason, she says, is "my husband." She says, "He's going to be a problem. You know what it's like when he's around. It's going to be a problem for both of us if I take this job."

And that's showing a kind of vulnerability that she rarely shows to people about her husband: to acknowledge to someone who had been her rival just months before, Bill Clinton is a problem, showed a certain vulnerability.

Obama in return shows vulnerability and says to her, "You know what? I understand your list. I know that your husband can be a problem, but I need you. The economic crisis is a bigger -- going to be a bigger suck of my time than I -- than I thought. I need to focus a lot on that. I need you, someone I trust, to handle the international portfolio. Don't say no tonight. Sleep on it."

Hillary Clinton was so sure, going into that phone call with Obama, that she was going to say no, that she had her staff prepare a statement that she was going to read the next day.

COOPER: You actually have the statement in the book.

HALPERIN: Every time I read it I get goose bumps, because it's a kind of a parallel reality, where she explains why she turned him down. As much as she's a patriot and believes you don't tell the president-elect or the president no, that's what she planned to do. Her staff was all ready. They had the announcement. They were all ready to have a press event where she would read it.

And instead she woke up the next morning, called Obama and said, "You know what? I'm going to do it."

COOPER: Pivotal moment during the campaign when Senator Ted Kennedy endorses then Senator Obama. Page 218, you write that one of the key factors in the endorsement was Bill Clinton, who had been courting Senator Kennedy for quite some time, trying to get him to endorse his wife.

And that he says something -- he says to Obama -- he says about Senator Obama, according to your sources, something to the effect of, "A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee."

HEILEMANN: Now, Bill Clinton was like Hillary Clinton, had been a great admirer of Barack Obama's when he first rose to the Senate. He thought he had an enormous amount of potential. But it was just that. It was potential. Bill Clinton did not think that Barack Obama was ready to be president of the United States. Thought that Hillary was. Had a vast greater degree of policy expertise and experience, thought she was better suited for the job, and could not believe that the Democratic Party was about to give the nomination to this guy who he felt was still an apprentice politician in some ways.

After the Iowa caucuses he was enraged and he would -- he sat in a suite in Iowa the night that he learned Hillary had come in third. And he said, you know, "What has this guy done? He got to the Senate. He's been there for a year, and he's been running for president. That doesn't qualify you to be president."

His anger carried over into the days after Iowa. And Ten Kennedy, Chris Dodd, his good friend, had just quit the race after Iowa. Ted Kennedy was now in play. His endorsement was up for grabs.

Kennedy had been drifting towards Obama over the course of the year. His daughter -- I'm sorry, his wife, Vicki, his niece, Caroline, had -- both had become enamored of Obama. He himself had become enamored of Obama. He was still on the fence. He was still wavering, trying to decide whether he would endorse anyone in the race.

Bill Clinton calls him a few days after the Iowa caucuses and becomes very emotional and very heated with Kennedy. They get in a huge argument on the phone. The culmination of that argument is Bill Clinton saying the quote that you mentioned: "A few years ago, this guy would have been serving us coffee," demeaning Obama in a way that Senator Kennedy, at least, interpreted as having kind of a dark, kind of nasty, racial overtone.

COOPER: So Senator Kennedy did believe it had some sort of racial overtone? You could read it just as, you know, he was inexperienced.

HEILEMANN: Right. Kennedy was enraged by it. And it colored, not to do a pun, but it colored the entire serious of conversations that took place over the next few weeks between Senator Kennedy and Senator -- and President Clinton. They talked right up to the edge of the -- of the South Carolina primary, when Ted Kennedy finally did decide to endorse Obama.

And literally, in that last phone call when Kennedy informed President Clinton that he was going to endorse Obama, Clinton came right out and said to him, he said, "The only reason you're endorsing Barack Obama is because he's black," which kind of put the icing on the cake for Ted Kennedy, in terms of making him kind of realize that this is really what he wanted to do. He was with Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton had completely turned him off.


COOPER: All this week we're going to be playing -- we're going to be having more of our interview with John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about some of the details in this book. Each night a different subject.

We're going to look at their reporting on the Edwards, which is frankly fascinating. Some really hair-raising and eye-opening stuff about what was going on in the Edwards campaign and between Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Edwards, Senator Edwards.

And then also, we're going to look at the fascinating details they have for the McCain campaign about the selection process that went into picking -- picking Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential nomination.

Now, remember, weigh in on what you think about the book at Getting a lot of interesting comments on the blog right now tonight.

Tomorrow night on 360, we're also going to take a look at a fascinating story. Heartbroken parents who send their violent, out- of-control, adopted children to a ranch on Montana, where they hope some tough love can change lives in a group setting. Take a look.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is called the Ranch for Kids. Most of the children here were adopted from Russia and the former Soviet republics and were typically neglected in orphanages. Eleven-year-old Alec is from Belarus. He was adopted by his mom and dad from Florida when he was 3.

(on camera) Your parents have told the people here that you once said, "I'll get a gun and shoot you in the neck, then in the heart." Did you say that to them?


FOREMAN: How come?

ALEC: Because I just get mad.

FOREMAN: Do you remember what else you said to them that may be mean?

ALEC: I'm going to stab them.


ALEC: I'm going to stab them.

FOREMAN: You want to stab them? How does it make you feel when you say those things?

ALEC: Sad.

FOREMAN: I understand. Because they love you so much, right? You know what? They love you, and that's the most important thing, and that you love them, right?


COOPER: Incredibly emotional stuff. You're going to meet the kids of the ranch, their parents and the Montana woman who's trying to change their lives for the better, trying to save their lives. Tomorrow on 360.

And anguished father says his all-American son is not waging war against the United States. But his all-American son, by the way, is a radical cleric who's wanted by the United States. We have an exclusive interview with the man who raised the cleric, who officials say advised the Ft. Hood gun man and who they say also has ties to the Christmas plane bombing plot. Exclusive report next.

Plus, Jay Leno speaking out on air about losing his primetime spot, getting laughs, and pulling no punches. We'll show you what he said, ahead.


COOPER: Terror trail tonight, exclusive interview with the father of a radical cleric, a guy who was raised in America, I should point out, and is now one of the most wanted men in the world. That's him. His name's Anwar al-Awlaki. A one-time -- he was a one-time imam in Virginia. He's now believed to be hiding with al Qaeda in Yemen.

Officials say he communicated directly with the alleged Ft. Hood killer and with the young man alleged of trying to blow up the Northwest flight on Christmas day. And we have new information about that alleged attack to tell you.

Officials also say that the imam is actively recruiting others to attack America. Tonight, in an interview you're only going to see right here, al-Awlaki's father defends his son, calls him an all- American boy, and insists he is nothing like Osama bin Laden.

Paula Newton, who's on the ground in Yemen, spoke to the father. Here's her exclusive report.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric, is one of the world's most wanted fugitives. Counter terror forces in Yemen are training to track him down, though he's hiding somewhere up there, in the rugged mountains of southern Yemen.

In the capital, Sana'a, we went looking for his family to learn more about the man who praised the alleged Ft. Hood shooter and may have encouraged the bombing attempt on the Christmas flight to Detroit.

His father, a former governor minister here, says the west is mistaken, that his son is not the new Osama bin Laden.

(on camera) So Awlaki's father, Nasser Awlaki, has agreed to an interview. But he said this is only a courtesy visit; he doesn't want any cameras. We're about to go to a neutral location just around the corner from here in the capital, Sana'a, to see what he has to say.

(voice-over) Awlaki's father told me his son is not a member of al Qaeda. He says, "He has been wrongly accused. It's unbelievable. He lived his life in America. He's an all-American boy. My son would love to go back to America. He used to have a good life in America."

(on camera) And yet, an American security official tells CNN that Awlaki did meet with the man accused of trying to blow up that airliner to Detroit on Christmas day. This official believes that Awlaki is one of the top leaders here of al Qaeda in Yemen, one of only five, and that he sometime last year transformed himself from an Internet preacher to a hands-on operative who not only recruits but also helps plan attacks on the United States.

(voice-over) All of that, of course, is not what his father wants to believe. He told me, "What do you expect my son to do? There are missiles raining down on the village. He has to hide. He's not in hiding with al Qaeda. Our tribe is protecting him now."

This man is a journalist from Yemen. He is the last reporter to speak with Awlaki before he went into hiding with his tribe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The tribe issued a statement saying if anybody touches one hair an Awlaki's head, the tribe will respond with force.

NEWTON: And that means even with the most aggressive manhunt, Awlaki may be as well protected right now as Osama bin Laden.

(on camera) No matter how effective the counterterrorism forces, no matter how good the training, much of this really won't matter in the tribal regions, which the government has little or no control over.

(voice-over) His father holds out hope that he can convince his son to surrender without more bloodshed, but he needs time, he says. He claims he hasn't spoken to him in weeks. The son who he says has always loved America.

Paula Newton, CNN, Sana'a, Yemen.


COOPER: One U.S. intelligence source told Paula al Qaeda in Yemen has worked hard to find recruits for attacks on America and is unlikely to give up on that. The question is how much of a danger is that to us?

Joining us tonight, national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, I guess part of me looks at that interview and says, well, you know, any dad is going to defend his son. When you hear him say that, you know, his son is an all-American kid, what do you think? PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, an all- American kid who changed rather dramatically in the last several years. I mean, by the account of people who knew this cleric when he was in United States in the 2002 period, he's changed rather dramatically in the last several years. Some people put it down to the fact that he was actually jailed in Yemen in 2006, and that may have further radicalized him. But...

COOPER: A lot of these guys do get radicalized in jail in Muslim countries. I mean, as I -- from my own memory, I think I remember Ayman al-Zawahiri was radicalized in -- when he went to a prison in Egypt.

BERGEN: Absolutely. The No. 2 in al Qaeda became -- he was radical when he came in. He was a very, very angry man when he -- when he exited the Egyptian prison system.

COOPER: The likelihood that other attackers are in Yemen right now, preparing, using same -- the same or similar techniques as the Nigerian, do you think that's true?

BERGEN: Yes, I think that's very high likelihood. I mean, Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, it's sort of forgotten that he had a colleague called Sajib Badat (ph) who also was going to do a shoe bomb attack on an American airline, got a case, as it were, of cold feet. Didn't go through with it, but -- and is in a British jail.

COOPER: Was that a pun, Peter?

BERGEN: It was a bad one.


BERGEN: And -- and the -- you know, in this case, we know that a very similar bomb was also sent to Saudi Arabia by the same cell, it looks like, to try and assassinate the Prince Mohammed Nayef of the interior -- deputy interior minister.

We already know that more than two people have had this bomb. I think it would be wishful thinking to think that there aren't going to be others.

COOPER: And how -- what do we know about the connections or alleged connections between this cleric and the Fort Hood -- the alleged Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan?

BERGEN: Well, he went on Al Jazeera to say that Major Nidal Hasan had communicated with him and asked him, was it OK to kill American soldiers? And I think that communication speaks for itself.

COOPER: How is it that al Jazeera can get in touch with this guy, and yet, he seems to be eluding Yemeni authorities?

BERGEN: Well, that's a good question. He had done the interview with al Jazeera. It aired on December 23. You may recall that on December 24, there was a strike on an al Qaeda training camp in Yemen, in which this cleric may -- was believed, perhaps, to have been killed. So he really only surfaced as somebody of enormous interest on Christmas day, even though he had been on the radar screen to some degree before that.

COOPER: Well, I thought it was interesting that I think Paula said that his father hadn't talked to him in a couple of weeks, which surprised me, actually, how recent they must have actually talked. So we'll see whether he can be brought to justice.

Peter Bergen, appreciate it. Thanks.

Up next, new insight on one of his suspected connections here in the U.S. We just mentioned him: accused Ft. Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan. The Department of Defense blasting Hasan's superiors in a new report. We have details of that ahead.

And a former Major League Baseball star Mark McGwire finally admitting what a lot of people suspected, that he used steroids. Going to show you his emotional press conference when we continue.


COOPER: All right. Let's get caught up on some of the other important stories. Jessica Yellin has a "360 Bulletin" -- Jessica.

YELLIN: Anderson, a piece of video that we think is important that you see, but we want to warn you it's disturbing.

Los Angeles police have released video of a violent hit-and-run tonight in hopes of tracking down the driver. Now, watch this video. As you can see, a 14-year-old girl and her 3-year-old niece, they were struck by a car as they crossed the street. Now, it's in slow motion there. It may be hard to see. The impact -- look at that -- tossed the girls some 40 feet. Now, both are seriously injured, but the good news is they were not killed.

You can see that video. Devastating. They're looking for the driver on that call. OK. Upsetting.

Superiors of Fort Hood shooting suspect Major Nidal Hasan ignored their own concerns about his behavior. The Defense Department says doctors overseeing Hasan's medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his extremist views on Islam, yet continued to give him good job evaluations. Hasan is accused of murdering 13 people during the Ft. Hood, Texas, rampage.

Well, Mark McGwire is finally coming clean, the former slugger admitting today he used steroids throughout the 1990s including in 1998. That's the year he broke baseball's single-season homerun record. His emotional apology followed.


MARK MCGWIRE, FORMER BASEBALL PLAYER: I wish they never came into my life. We're sitting here talking about it. I'm still sorry that I have to, and I apologize to everybody at Major League Baseball, my family, Bud Selig. Today was the hardest day of my life.


YELLIN: McGwire has long refused to acknowledge rumors of steroid use, even under questioning by Congress.

Well, Sarah Palin has signed a multiyear contract with FOX News. The former Alaska governor will appear as a contributor on the network and occasionally host special series. Palin capped the day's announcement by posting a quick tweet, and I quote, "What would America do without FOX News?"

Meantime, over at NBC, yes, it's official. Jay Leno is going back to late night. NBC says it's negotiating among Leno and current late night host Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon to decide who should get the -- which time slot. Leno addressed the latest news in tonight's monologue.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE JAY LENO SHOW": Supposedly, we're moving to 11:30. But even this is not sure. See, my people are upset; Conan's people are upset. NBC people said they wanted drama at 10. Now they've got it. Now they've got it. Everybody's mad. Exactly.

I tell you one thing. I take pride in one thing. I leave NBC primetime the same way I found it, a complete disaster.


YELLIN: And finally, Richard Heene arrived at a Colorado prison today to begin his 90-day sentence. As you recall, Heene pleaded guilty in the televised hoax, a hoax that captivated the nation but now says -- get this -- he truly thought his 6-year-old was in the balloon. Authorities have dismissed his latest claims.

COOPER: And there were -- it looked like someone was videotaping. I think they've got some sort of scheme.

All right, for tonight's "Shot," did a dog predict this weekend's California quake? No joke. Take a look.

The security cameras were rolling in Humbolt County newsroom when the earthquake hit. Check out the video we found on There's a dog there sitting there, and all of a sudden gets up, and then just a few seconds later, the quake hits.

So did the dog figure out -- take a look at it again in slow motion. The dog takes off. Then you can see the chair behind the column swivels. There. The dog gets up and a guy is, like, "Hey, where did my dog go?" and gets up, looks running for his dog.

YELLIN: That's totally New York of you. I'm from Los Angeles. We all know dogs can smell an earthquake coming.

COOPER: See? Look at that. YELLIN: It's an East Coast/West Coast thing.

COOPER: All right. I believe it was the dog. I don't know. I don't know what the dog was doing in the newsroom in the first place, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

All right. At the top of the hour, Senator Harry Reid's racially-charged comments and the firestorm that they've set off. The "Raw Politics" ahead.