Return to Transcripts main page


Future of Americans Charged With Kidnapping in Haiti?; One Senator's Political Blockade; Jenna's New Home: Haitian Child Settles in with Adopted Mom; Welcome to the Tea Party: A Look at the Grassroots Movement; Defining "Who Dat?"

Aired February 5, 2010 - 22:00   ET



Tonight: breaking news on those American missionaries in Haiti. They have just been split up and moved, and not to a nicer location. We have got late details about that as well as exclusive new information about what they were up to.

Every night, our investigations have turned up startling and disturbing information -- tonight, hard evidence that the leader of the group appears to have lied to some of the Haitian parents who gave up their kids. Add that to the list of lies the leader of this group was telling. We have details tonight.

Also ahead tonight: The Tea Party convention opened with a bang, a fiery speech blasting President Obama and John McCain. We will take you inside their gathering.

And, later, Ragin' Cajun, James Carville. Because the New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl, he helps us translate two words that say a mouthful in NOLA: "Who dat?"

But, first up tonight, the breaking news, late video out of Haiti, the missionaries, their leader Laura Silsby included, being loaded into vans on their way to prison. That's how their day in court came to a close. No word on bail. Now they have been split up, five men, five women, the women sent to a prison in Petionville, which is in the mountains in Port-au-Prince.

Men are now being held in the notorious national penitentiary. We actually visited it. The building is more or less intact. All the prisoners had escaped, not a pleasant place to be, I can tell you that.

You saw Laura Silsby there in the van, not answering questions from our Karl Penhaul. Earlier, though, she was talking. Here's what she told CBS News.


LAURA SILSBY, DETAINED IN HAITI: We in no way wanted to disrespect the Haitian government. We have just tried our best to comply with all that they have asked us to do. We have faced a very challenging, confusing legal process here. We have not in any way trafficked or kidnapped children.

We came here out of love in our hearts for these children.


COOPER: Well, she says she was complying with all the things the Haitian government asked her to do. We know that's not true. Anyone in Haiti knows the laws on taking kids out of the country are strict. And the sad truth is that, all week, we have been uncovering allegations that Laura Silsby had been repeatedly told what she was doing was wrong and what she had gotten the other members of her group to do was breaking the law.

One of the things the she's been telling Haitians was that she had an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, which she didn't, and that loved ones could visit the kids one day, the kids that they had given up.

Well, tonight, some startling new evidence which frankly casts doubt on even those promises.

No one has been covering this as well or as closely as our Karl Penhaul. He joins us now.

Karl, what have you learned about this?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I thought you might like to see this. These documents here are what they call the articles of constitution, the legal papers to set up a non-profit called the New Life Children's Refuge in the Dominican Republic.

And I thought particularly you would be interested here article four of that legal document, the mission statement. And that sets out what they planned to do at that orphanage, first point among the points, to give an environment of Christian love to the children, but also to set up adoption programs.

Now, of course, this goes to the core of Laura Silsby's intentions. To me, when I met her three times in jail, each time, she denied any plans for adoption for these kids. And when I specifically tried to clarify that with a question, I said to her, so, is it correct to say you do not plan to send these kids into adoption?

This is what she replied to me.


SILSBY: We specifically chose this location and with the intentions of building a school right on the heels of it, so we could actually have a place where they could stay long term, I mean, for the rest of their -- you know, their childhood, for sure, and actually even be nearby, should there be some distant relatives that want to continue to have contact and communication with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PENHAUL: So, she tells me that she planned to let the kids last out their youth, grow up in that orphanage. She told the parents, as you say, that they could go and visit their kids, because they would always be there.

But this mission statement says otherwise. It says that the orphanage planned to run adoption programs. The other thing that's interesting about this document, Anderson, this New Life Children's Orphanage in Dominican Republic was created legally as a non-profit six days after the earthquake.

COOPER: So, let me just get this straight. She has been saying all along that the -- the kids would -- that she took from Haiti would be grow -- would grow up in the Dominican Republic, could be visited by their loved ones. That's clearly not what it says in the mission statement of this orphanage, an orphanage which doesn't actually even exist.

They have a lease on a motel, but it's not as if they have teachers in place, that they have a system in place, right? I mean, they basically had a facility that I guess they have rented that they were showing pictures of as their orphanage, but it's not like they were actually set up to care for kids, right?

PENHAUL: You're absolutely right. They sorted out a six-month lease on that hotel, a 45-bedroom hotel, at the very last minute. Six days after the earthquake, again, at the very last minute, they set up the legal -- the legal framework for that orphanage.

And, as far as we can tell, the only thing that they really had in place at that orphanage for these kids was some secondhand stuffed toys and some secondhand clothes, that because we sent a camera crew there just after they were arrested, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Karl, hold on. Stay with us, because I want to bring in Dan Simon, who is in Idaho, because he has got some evidence there that basically is backing up what you have just uncovered about the notion that maybe these kids were -- the whole idea was just to send them to the United States.

Dan, what have you learned?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was in November of 2008 that Laura Silsby was in the process of buying a home here in Meridian, Idaho. And she told her real estate agent that the home was just going to be temporary, because she had a dream really of building up a complex on 20 acres of farming land in a nearby community.

We -- she told this real estate agent that her goal was to house orphans from all over the world and troubled youth. The real estate agent says that Silsby met with a farmer and was really in the process of negotiating a deal. She doesn't know what happened from there.

We should point out, though, that, during those conversations between Silsby and that real estate agent, the subject of Haiti never came up in terms of bringing back orphans specifically from Haiti to that property in Idaho -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Dan, it's important to point out that there's 10 people involved in this, but it really seems like she is the driving force, that a lot of these folks just were in their church, heard that there was this mission, and, of course, like so many Americans with a big heart, wanted to go down there, help kids, but didn't -- it seems like a lot of them, you know, didn't really know her much in advance, didn't really know -- assumed that there was some sort of a program set up, kind of didn't know what they were getting themselves into, right?

SIMON: That's exactly right. You know, what we found over the last few days is that, for the most part, people who signed on to this trip did so just a couple days in advance.

I talked to the father of Paul Thompson, who is a minister at the church in Twin Falls. He told me that it was his understanding that he learned about the trip just one or two days before Paul Thompson brought his 18-year-old son along on the trip.

Want to also tell you about this situation here in Idaho, where Silsby and her nanny, who's also her personal assistant, used to go to this secondhand closing shop. And they started going there about nine months ago and buying all kinds of supplies, clothes that they were going to bring to Haiti.

COOPER: Right.

SIMON: And the owner of that store, he was so taken with what they were doing, and he put out some barrels for people to donate items, stuffed animals. And people started doing that.

He really developed a fondness in his heart for Laura Silsby. And I asked him specifically about people who had questioned her integrity. And I want you to listen to what he had to say.


VAL BATTEEN, HELPED LAURA SILSBY: It's offensive. It -- it almost makes my blood boil.

You know, just in that -- in nine months, in talking with her, my wife and I feel that we know what her heart was, that this was -- she was sincere about this, about helping kids out.


COOPER: Well, it's interesting, because that's very not what we were told by a dad who went to adopt three kids in Haiti legally, in the correct way, whose wife was called by Laura Silsby three times, saying, I'm going to go get your kids from that orphanage, was told three times, do not do that, we're doing this thing legally, what you're doing is wrong.

And, nevertheless, she went down there, tried to get those kids out. Thankfully, they had already been taken, legally, by the adoptive father.

Dan, I want to bring also Karl Penhaul back in here.

Karl, clearly, she has supporters in her home area. We have also talked to a number of people who are suing her for other reasons. What happens now to them? I mean, what -- there's another court hearing, what, on Monday?

PENHAUL: Yes, absolutely.

The examining judge has now ruled that he will interview five of the Americans on Monday, the other group on Tuesday, and take this process further forward. What he's also listening to is a petition by the defense lawyer as to whether they can be released on some kind of bail.

But, already, the attorney general has told us he considers these crimes too serious to -- to -- to allow any bail, so unlikely that any of them will be released by that.

But what the defense lawyer actually said as he left the courtroom tonight was, he said, there are nine innocent victims in this case, in my opinion. And he said that he believed that nine of the Americans had no idea that Laura Silsby was coming here to take Haitian children out of the country.

And that kind of points to what Dan was saying, that -- that, really, maybe there were a number of unwitting travelers included on this trip. That said, I just want to point back to you to this legal document which we obtained, the legal setup of New Life Children's Refuge in the Dominican Republic.

There are two signatures on here, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter. Now, we know Charisa Coulter is the -- is the nanny -- well, Charisa Coulter, the nanny of...

COOPER: Laura.

PENHAUL: ... Laura Silsby as well. So, there are two of them involved that knew they were setting this up with adoption plans -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Karl, appreciate the reporting, as always, Dan Simon as well.

Up next, we're going to talk to a professional poverty fighter, a man who works in the Dominican Republic, who has been working with the poor. He's a missionary. And he's going to say that what Laura Silsby really shows -- did terrible damage to -- to people in Haiti, to families in Haiti. We will hear his perspective ahead.

Also, hear what former President Clinton had to say about the case to our Joe Johns.

And let us know what you think. Join the live chat right now at COOPER: Later, we're going to see what happens when you follow the rules, play by the book, and adopt a child the right way -- an update on a beautiful little girl who's now home in the United States. Her name is Jenna (ph). And you will meet her ahead.


COOPER: Breaking news we're following, 10 American missionaries, five men, five women, now split up, no longer being held in one jail, as they were, but in separate prison facilities, no bail, nothing but very careful neutral-worded comments from the State Department so far.

But, today, former President Bill Clinton, serving in his U.N. capacity, was back in the country. He spoke briefly about the 10.

Joe Johns did the asking. He joins us now.

Joe, what did the president say?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was pretty conciliatory. You know, he's in his United Nations role right now, Anderson. So, he was talking about defusing this crisis, trying to get the United States and the Haitian government together, also pointing out that, in his view, the Haitian government simply is not looking for a fight.

On the other hand, he did say the Haitian government is very concerned about protecting its children from would-be or alleged abductors.

Let's listen to a little bit of what he had to say.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Haitians are determined that Haiti won't become a ground where children can be trafficked or sold or anything like that. That is a noble goal.

It may be that the Idaho missionaries, that their explanation is absolutely accurate and they are 100 percent innocent. And I think what is important now is for the government of Haiti and the government of the United States to get together and work through this.


JOHNS: The other thing he said was, the Haitian government is very interested in keeping this issue from becoming a distraction.

Nonetheless, I think it's safe to say it has already become a distraction in many ways, because the people who might have been covering the issue of the relief here in Haiti have been covering this story, as you know, Anderson.

COOPER: No doubt about it. My sense is, there's going to be something done behind the scenes next week for at least a number of these people. But we will continue to follow it.

Joe, I appreciate it.

The more we learn about -- about these missionaries, or at least their leader, the clearer it is that most of them volunteered because they believed the claims made by Laura Silsby about helping Haitian kids. Most of the 10 very clearly just wanted to help kids, wanted to do something.

But it's also clear that Laura Silsby, the leader of the group, has told a series of -- of lies, basically -- I mean, that's what we should call them, lies -- to Haitians on the ground about her plans for these kids.

Now, you can still say her intentions were good, her heart was in the right place, but does that excuse knowingly breaking the law in Haiti?

Father Dale Albert Johnson is a missionary priest and human rights activist. He runs Dominican Outreach. He works with many orphanages in the area. And he has been serving the poor for 20 years in the Dominican Republic.

Father, you know, everyone says, well, look, her intentions were right; she came from the right place. Does that matter, or does that only go so far?


And it really disturbs a lot of us in the NGO community, because good intentions and -- has to be combined with wisdom and it has to be combined with best practices. We have years of experience assisting the poor throughout the world. And I think we have some pretty good ideas, particularly mature organizations that have been on the ground and have vested interests, like Save the Children, and Oxfam, and Samaritan's Purse, and Red Cross.

These organizations need to assist and give their advice and wisdom to these that are groups coming in, often for just one or two weeks at a time.

COOPER: Because -- because...

JOHNSON: This is not enough to really serve the poor.

COOPER: ... what I don't understand about what she was doing is, I mean, when I was there, I met so many missionaries, folks who came from churches all over the United States, who came down there on their own accord.


COOPER: They figure out a way to get in there. And they were helping orphanages on the ground in Port-au-Prince. They -- I mean, I met four missionaries -- I can't remember where they were from, but they were trying to find food for some kids and get some water out to an orphanage.

I mean, they were doing whatever they could, all legally and helping -- actually helping kids there, not trying to take them out. I mean, there's this idea that taking kids out is the best thing. Is it?

JOHNSON: No, absolutely not.

You know, we actually have good case history with Dominican Republic next door. They basically don't allow adoptions. And this -- this actually takes away a motive to really invent orphans. Haiti, for a number of years before the earthquake, had many orphanages that simply were not real orphanages.

It's kind of ironic that this woman from this Idaho group is actually doing the same thing, treating children as a commodity and basically making a business...

COOPER: You think she's treating children as a commodity? How so?

JOHNSON: Well, she's going to get some money off of adoptions and things. You can't do that for free.

And many pastors, so-called pastors who are untrained and have no business running orphanages and schools in Haiti, have been doing this for years, basically do the same thing. They round up kids in the neighborhood, say they're orphans. And this is like bait to American missionary teams that come in.

Now, generally, most of these short-term missions do a lot of good. They come in, like you say, provide help on the ground, and then leave. They feel good about themselves and they provide a certain amount of service to these orphanages.

But the shadow effect of this is that it creates a restavek culture. As you know, you've been talking about restavek children. These are children that are basically domestic slaves.

There's no social stigma in Haiti for somebody giving their child away to a richer family. And this played right in to this particular organization out of Idaho.

COOPER: So, in fact, you're saying what she was doing was doing damage to families in -- to Haitian families, for Haitian families?

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely. I wish there could be a Richter scale for social destruction. This was happening before the earthquake, with groups coming in and encouraging people to round up children who literally were not orphans.

Five years ago, I went in to do a risk assessment in Haiti for a wonderful orphanage -- organization called Orphanage Outreach. Five of the seven orphanages I visited simply were, I'm sorry to say, fake orphanages. They rounded up kids from the neighborhood, placed them, did a little show for us. But, when I went in to investigate, they didn't have nearly enough beds for the children they said they had or cooking facilities and things like this.

So, this has been going on for years. And this is just an extreme example of what happened recently, with this.


COOPER: So -- so, the takeaway for -- for viewers watching this around the country and around the world, frankly, is, if you want to help kids in Haiti, there's great groups on the ground who know what they're doing, Save the Children, UNICEF...

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

COOPER: ... a lot of organizations which can actually help kids?

JOHNSON: Right. Right. Partner with them, so that there's long-term vested interests in -- in seeing results that actually produce the intended outcome.

COOPER: And I do think it's important -- and, again, I just want to stress that not to paint all missionaries with the same brush, because...


COOPER: ... I mean, I can tell you from personal experience, I met a number on the ground there who were just working their heart out to help kids in orphanages on the ground.

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely.

COOPER: So, father Dale Johnson, I appreciate what you're doing, and I appreciate you talking to us tonight.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. You take care.

Fortunately, not every story about orphans in Haiti ends up like this one. Just ahead, we will catch up with Jenna (ph) in her home in Denver.

Up next, though: He says give me my pork, or I will bring the government to a halt. Can one senator really do this? Well, we are going to show you how this senator is putting the White House over the barrel and the multibillion-dollar pet project he's trying to get out of it.

We will be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, one senator is offering up a textbook example of raw politics and perhaps a textbook example of why so many are fed up with Washington. Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama wants a couple earmarks for his state and is angry Congress hasn't made it happen yet. So, what's he done? Well, he has put a blanket hold on 70 presidential appointments, including important posts in the Pentagon and Justice Department.

It's pretty amazing, when you think about it, the business of government essentially brought to a dead stop by one lawmaker.

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is here.

Candy, does this happen all the time, or is this pretty unusual?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this particular one is unusual, simply the scope of it. I mean, 70 -- he put a broad hold on everything, which is, as far as we can tell, everything on the president's calendar, every appointment.

So, the -- the scope of it is unusual. But the practice of putting holds on nominations is used all the time. Sometimes, it's used because one senator doesn't like the nominee, and can't win it on the floor, so he puts a hold on that.

But, usually, it's used because somebody wants something that isn't getting done, and it's a way to say, come negotiate with me. And then...

COOPER: So, who's going to blink?


CROWLEY: I imagine that the administration will find a way to make Senator Shelby happy. Probably, Senator Reid, who runs the Senate, the Democratic majority leader, will find a way to get this moving.

I would point out that there are always nominees up there. I mean, after all, we're into the first year, into the second year of the Obama administration.

COOPER: Right.

CROWLEY: And these are new appointees. So they may be vital, but they're not crucial.

So, I mean, I think the other thing is that the president can, if he wants, just appoint people, interim appointments, and say, fine, we will fill them with some people. And he can probably fill them, I think, if I remember this correctly, with the appointees he wants to have confirmed. So, he could put them in there and just wait him out.

COOPER: I see. Well, we will be watching.


COOPER: Candy, you're following some other stories for us in a 360 bulletin.

CROWLEY: I absolutely am...


CROWLEY: ... and one of them right here in the nation's capital. Look at this snow. This is a live picture from one of our cameramen braving it out there. Drivers around here, and this is what they're seeing. I must say, there are not that many drivers out there, but they're crazy enough to be out there.

That is photographer Steve Nucio (ph), a volunteer. You're looking a that live shot through his windshield.

Be careful, Steve.

We are expecting, perhaps, here in Washington the biggest snowfall on record. Thirty inches is possible. By tomorrow, the storm will have hit more than 10 states, affecting more than 30 million people. Warnings are up as far west as Indiana and north to New York, where they're expecting a paltry three to five inches.

To the Hague, and a surprising revelation from former Liberian President Charles Taylor during his war crimes trial. According to "The Washington Post," Taylor testified that American televangelist Pat Robertson was awarded a gold mining contract in 1999, and, in return, Robertson lobbied the Bush White House on Liberia's behalf.

Now, a spokesman for Robertson tells "The Post" there was a gold exploration contract, but no gold was ever found, and he insists there was no quid pro quo assessment -- agreement that Robertson would then lobby the White House for Liberia.

The unemployment rate fell last month to 9.7 percent. That's down from 10 percent. President Obama says the unexpected drop is cause for hope, but not celebration.

And talk about cocktails on the rocks. Five frozen crates of whiskey and brandy belonging to explorer Ernest Shackleton more than 100 years ago have been found buried in Antarctic ice.

COOPER: That is cool.

CROWLEY: Shackleton left the goods there after a failed expedition to the South Pole in 1909.

So, I have several questions about this, Anderson.



CROWLEY: First of all, I know that you're a brandy and whiskey expert.


CROWLEY: So, can -- like, is it drinkable once it thaws out?

COOPER: Well -- well, I actually read about it. I don't actually know anything about brandy and whiskey.

But I did read about it. And, apparently, they're very excited, because they have lost the formula for that particular kind of brandy or whiskey. And the maker is hoping that they will actually be able to reconstitute it and maybe re-release it. And for those, I guess, who like brandy and whiskey, that's a very big deal.

CROWLEY: Yes, actually, it sort of escapes me.


CROWLEY: But the other thing is, how did they find it after 100 years?

COOPER: I know.

CROWLEY: Is it, like, you know, polar ice melting, or did someone know it was there?

COOPER: I know they were digging. They were digging at his old hut.

CROWLEY: Oh, they were looking for it?

COOPER: Yes, because Shackleton -- the story is legendary. It's an amazing story.

Candy, the question I have got to ask you is, how excited are you for Sunday?

CROWLEY: I'm pretty excited. I mean, it will -- it will be neat.

You know, I'm -- I'm just sort of a little vaguely nauseous worrying about it.


CROWLEY: But, most of all, I'm -- I'm excited to sit in at CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."


I mean, congratulations on that.

Hillary Clinton -- you have got Hillary Clinton as a guest.

CROWLEY: I do. She is our exclusive guest. So, we like that. You know, that's a good -- that's a good way to come out of the box.

COOPER: And it's at 9:00 a.m. Sunday; is that correct?

CROWLEY: Yes, sir, Eastern time.

COOPER: Excellent.

CROWLEY: Replay at noon.


COOPER: Replay at noon. But watch it at 9:00, more important.


COOPER: Candy, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CROWLEY: Sure. Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: We will talk to you in a moment.

Still ahead tonight: an orphan's long journey home to her new mother and new life. We first met baby Jenna (ph), you may remember, in Haiti. Been following her story every step of the way. We will show you how she's doing in Colorado. Man, that smile.

Plus, welcome to the Tea Party. We're drilling down again tonight on the movement and its members as they plot their strategy for the midterm elections. We're going to take you inside their first ever convention. A big, fiery speech got it kicked off.

You will hear from them in their own words -- ahead.


COOPER: Tonight a new home for one of HaitI's kids. Her name is Jenna. She's not yet 2 years old. We first met her in orphanage which was devastated by the earthquake. Before the disaster a woman in Colorado was in the process of adopting Jenna. The adoption has gone through. Right now, Jenna is in the United States, starting a whole new like.

Gary Tuchman has her story.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three days after the Haiti earthquake I visited this orphanage that partially collapsed and these orphans who survived the quake. At this time I said this.

(on camera) There are fears the rest of this orphanage could collapse because of the frequent aftershocks we're having. So the decision has been made to leave these children outside 24 hours a day.

(voice-over) Sitting in my lap in the blue shirt, 22-month-old Jenna. Amazingly, the woman who was in the process of adopting Jenna was watching CNN and recognized her right away. She then knew Jenna was OK. And now meet Jenna Dowling, one of the newest residents of Denver, Colorado, and her mom, Elizabeth Dowling.

ELIZABETH DOWLING, MOTHER OF JENNA: And then there you were holding her. And I got to see her which, obviously, we...

TUCHMAN (on camera): What a bizarre coincidence, right?

DOWLING: I'm kind of a CNN junkie so, I mean, it was on 24/7.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jenna has really never felt a temperature under 60 Fahrenheit. So she's getting used to the cold, although it hasn't really been frigid in Colorado since her mother got final approval to take her home. This week Jenna and five other Haitian orphans adopted by Colorado families posed for a group Shot.

DOWLING: She likes to put on her big winter coat and actually walk up and down the street.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Really?

DOWLING: And she kind of takes my hand and leads me.

TUCHMAN: Look at the little smile there.

(voice-over) Jenna has had a few nightmares since she's gotten home and may have a case of ringworm. But a transition from her earthquake-ravaged homeland to this very different life has seemed to be very smooth.

DOWLING: This is her crib, and she takes everything out and throws it on the ground, including the bumper sheet, which is why it's not tied because she rips it out.

TUCHMAN (on camera): I still do that, though. It's not abnormal is what I'm getting at.

DOWLING: She unfortunately can fit her legs in here, and she bangs her head against it. So I have to rock her to sleep on the rocking chair for her to even go to sleep. And then, if it's her naptime, she sleeps here, and if it's bedtime she sleeps on the floor in my room.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Elizabeth plans to never let Jenna forget her culture and where she came from.

DOWLING: When I first started speaking French with her, she kind of started to focus on me more. So I thought, OK, she's understanding me. Then I got the dictionary and started saying some Creole words. And that's when it was like she completely fell in love with me.

TUCHMAN: When the quake struck, Elizabeth feared her daughter might be dead. Instead, she now realizes the quake got her daughter home sooner.

(on camera) Can you believe she's here right now? DOWLING: Doesn't she seem like she's always been here? Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Denver.


COOPER: Wow. What a great, great story. Such a cute little girl.

Coming up next on "360," we'll take you inside the Tea Party convention. We are in Nashville on the eve of Sarah Palin's keynote speech, talking to the people behind the Tea Party movement.

And later on, "who dat?" That is James Carville putting politics aside. He gives us a sight-seeing tour of New Orleans, a city celebrating Super Bowl-bound Saints.


COOPER: Welcome to the Tea Party, our in-depth look at the grassroots movement aiming to make its influence felt in the midterm elections and beyond, certainly. Tea Party activists holding their first-ever convention in Nashville. Sarah Palin, as you probably know, is the keynote speaker tomorrow night.

In his kickoff speech, former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo tossed a huge helping of red meat to attendees. Take a look.


TOM TANCREDO, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: People who could not even spell the word "vote" or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. Name is Barack Hussein Obama.


COOPER: He spoke out against John McCain. So who exactly were those words aimed at? Well, remember, the movement is made up of hundreds of very diverse groups. Not everyone in the Tea Party Coalition cheered that speech. We'll take a closer look at the reaction ahead.

But first, Randi Kaye takes an inside look at the convention to meet some of the members.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you listen closely to the Tea Partiers here in Nashville, you'll hear a buzz word on nearly everyone's lips. The word, "Constitution."

VIVIENNE POTTER, WILL COUNTY TEA PARTY: The Constitution is what this country is about. We have national government that does not believe in the Constitution and would like to shred it. And I'd like to see us stick to it. And that means smaller government, lower taxes and individual freedom. KAYE (on camera): Tell me what your shirt says.

JACK SMITH, TEA PARTY OF GLIMER COUNTY: It says, "We are tea'd. Keep the pot boiling. We're taxed enough already."

KAYE: So what is the answer? What is -- what are you trying to accomplish here?

SMITH: What we're trying to do is get conservative individuals into office that will reduce the size of government, get our people self-sufficient again and move forward so that governments do not take all of our money and overspend it on things they constitutionally have no right to be spending it on.

KAYE: How are you?


KAYE: I'm Randi Kaye with CNN. What's your name?


KAYE: William.

TEMPLE: I'm from Brunswick, Georgia.

KAYE: You even have your teapot there.

TEMPLE: Oh, yes.

KAYE: What do you think about the Tea Party movement?

TEMPLE: Oh, we're kicking butt. That's American vernacular.

KAYE: What are the values that you stand for?

TEMPLE: We are for limited government and the Constitution. It's very simple. Four pages. Not 1,800 like the last health-care bill. And we didn't need lawyers to interpret it.

KAYE: I hear a lot about how the federal government is violating the Constitution.

TEMPLE: Oh, they are.

KAYE: I hear a lot of Tea Partiers say that.

TEMPLE: Oh, yes.

KAYE (voice-over): If "Constitution" is the most popular word around here, "freedom" runs a close second.

(on camera) Tea Partiers talk a lot about freedom. And here at the convention you can actually buy what they call an icon of freedom. They're selling jewelry, necklaces, in fact, that are tea bags. It can be yours for about 90 bucks. (voice-over) That's just a fraction of the $550 price tag for a ticket to this convention.

POTTER: I'd spend more to bring my country back.

KAYE (on camera): What is so important about change to you to pay that money?

SMITH: The capitalistic side of our country is under attack, it seems. There's a socialization afoot that I'm just not in favor of.

KAYE: Do you believe the people and the states are being overregulated?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt about that.

KAYE: in what way?

SMITH: Well, just from seat belts, seat-belt laws to -- to environmental things and everything in between.

KAYE (voice-over): There are 600 people registered here, with crowds expected to reach 1,000 for former governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin's speech Saturday. Her message of a big government that's spending too much strikes a chord.

SMITH: The federal government is not supposed to be this all- encompassing welfare state. It is supposed to be small and serve the states and serve the people.

TEMPLE: We want the department of education, labor, energy, all of these shut down, their money sent back to the states so the states don't have to come hat in hand to the federal government and say, "Could you give us some of our money back?"

KAYE (on camera): The overall message here: give me my country back. A battle cry from the average Joe who feels he hasn't had a voice in Washington and has finally figured out how to be heard.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Nashville.


COOPER: Well, the Tea Party movement is just a year old, still finding its way. In a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, a third of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement. Just over a quarter had an unfavorable view. Forty percent, frankly, weren't sure. They said they didn't have enough information, know enough about it.

So many Americans seem to be reserving judgment for now or waiting to learn more, I suppose. Meantime, inside the Tea Party, there's plenty of Raw Politics to toss around.

Joining me from the convention, John Avlon, columnist for and author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America," and Erick Erickson, editor in chief of

Guys, thanks for being with us.

John, first just -- I want to go over with you a couple of, you know, it's a leaderless movement, and a lot of the members of the Tea Party like to say that. You know, there's not one leader of the movement, but there are people who are popular within the movement. Let's talk about a couple of them. Tom Tancredo, who had the opening night speech.

JOHN AVLON, COLUMNIST, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Yes, I mean, one man's red meat is another man's raw sewage. And I think last night's speech was ugly. And it didn't go over as big in the crowd as some people at home might think.

But I think it is a consensus. You know, his statement about Barack Obama being a socialist is close to conventional wisdom here.

What's interesting is that Tancredo hasn't been that much a factor in tea parties to date. He's known primarily as an anti- illegal immigrant activist. And that hasn't been one of the forces animating the Tea Party so far this year.

COOPER: What about -- what about Michele Bachmann? She's actually had to pull out of the convention a few days ago. Relatively new to national politics but certainly very popular.

AVLON: Yes. I mean, Michele Bachmann really has turned herself into an icon for the Tea Party movement, first rising to prominence in '08 when she questioned whether or not Barack Obama was anti-American. And the criticism that came on her, made her if anything, more beloved by the base.

She's had a whole string of howlers this year, statements about wondering whether -- questioning the census, calling Americorps -- raising the specter of reeducation camps. But every time she makes statements that, to some folks, sound extreme, she becomes even more beloved by the base. They see her as sort of a truth teller.

COOPER: And clearly, Sarah Palin is extraordinarily popular.

AVLON: Of course. Queen of the conservative populists. She's the headliner here. Everyone's talking about her. They're waiting for the big speech. They feel like there's a huge amount of validation that she's coming to speak to them.

And I'd say even, really, the onus is on her, though. I think it's a question of what kind of speech is she going to give tomorrow night, as she's trying to surf this wave? Can she really capture it and crystallize it? She's got the crowd on her side, but can she really make a forceful case that she understands and can lead a movement that fundamentally is skeptical about leaders in Washington?

COOPER: All right. Erick, from, you've been pretty critical of this event. Have you changed your mind? ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: You know, the more I've looked into it I felt like originally this was a lot of people taking advantage of Tea Party activists and their money. Sending up a for- profit, saying the money was going to go to an as-yet-to-be-created 527.

The more I've talked to people who were involved with it, it looks more like it's the case of the dog that did actually catch the car. The -- the guys who, they didn't expect it to take off like this. They had no idea what they were doing.

So it looks suspicious the way things happened. And I've got my reservations about it. I don't want to be vocal here and be present, unless people think I'm endorsing the Tea Party convention. I've got concerns. But it really does look more like it's guys who had no idea what they were getting themselves into, and the thing just took off.

COOPER: What's so interesting to me about this movement is the diversity of the people in it. And yet, clearly, you know, fiscal conservatives, smaller government, you hear that over and over. The Constitution.

But where does the movement go? I mean, all movements grow and evolve, and certainly the Tea Party has exploded over the last year. But where -- what is the next chapter for it, Erick?

ERICKSON: You know, I really think the Tea Party movement exists in the absence of leadership. A lot of the Tea Party activists, Democrats, Republicans and independents, they feel like the Republicans betrayed them in 2008 with TARP, the bank bailouts. They feel like Barack Obama and the Democrats have made it even worse. They don't have a natural leader who will try to pull the government back to small government.

We saw the clip from Randi about the guy wanting to shut down major departments within the education. That's not exactly the view that most Tea Party activists have, but it -- they do have a lot of concern about small government.

Once a leader steps up, whether Republican or Democrat, and really endorses their issues about restraining spending, not putting a debt burden on these people's grandchildren, I think the Tea Party movement, by and large, will have run its course.

COOPER: Because once -- it's one thing to have a movement of protests and anger, but once you actually kind of link to a party, it then changes, and other people -- I mean, it can't be such a broad movement once it starts to kind of specifically have leaders or supporters. Am I wrong, Erick?

ERICKSON: Yes, yes, I think you're absolutely right. And what we're seeing is that the Tea Party movement, having had some general successes, is really focused on cleaning up the Republican Party, which by and large these activists feel like George Bush and a lot of Republicans in Washington betrayed them.

They don't like Mitch McConnell, the leader in the Senate. They feel like he capitulates what he shouldn't.

COOPER: By cleaning up, by the way, you mean bringing -- sorry, by cleaning up, you mean bringing back to a conservative core?

ERICKSON: You know, yes, conservative core, but really, the issues aren't social conservatism. They're fiscal conservatism.

COOPER: Right.

ERICKSON: These guys look at the Republicans who drafted the TARP legislation and see that as a betrayal. And now they've got the bank bailouts, the automotive bailouts. They really want people, whether Democrat or Republican, to fight for them. And Republicans tend to be the small-government party, allegedly. These people want to get rid of the "allegedly" and make it a fact.

COOPER: Interesting. Erick Erickson, we've got to leave it there. John Avlon, as well. We're going to have more coverage, of course, all weekend from -- from the Tea Party convention.

In a moment James Carville will join us with a special tour around New Orleans in advance of this Sunday's Super Bowl. He'll show -- he and his wife Mary will show us their New Orleans. They live there.

Win or lose, New Orleans will be celebrating, throwing a parade for their team, which has really helped rally and revive the city. We'll be right back.


COOPER: In a moment James Carville is going to join us with a special tour around New Orleans in advance of this Sunday's Super Bowl. But first, if you've ever heard the Saints chant, you'll know the phrase "who dat?"



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat going to beat the Saints?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat going to beat the Saints?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat going to beat the Saints?


COOPER: "Who dat" has been the Saints' war cry for decades. And people all over the country have been saying it for more than a century. We wondered exactly what is behind the phrase. To find out, we turned to an authority on the subject, author and American linguist John McWhorter, asking a very serious scholar about a very silly topic.


JOHN MCWHORTER, LINGUIST: Well, Anderson, I'm sure that to a lot of us, "who dat" sounds like some sort of illiterate accidental abbreviation. But actually, what it is, is it's short for "who is that?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat? Who dat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat? Who dat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat? Who dat?


MCWHORTER: It's just black English. And Black English is different from standard English in many ways. One of those is it doesn't use the word "to be" as much. You da man. Who dat?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat?

MCWHORTER: "Who dat" is not something as specific as being just Louisiana. You could hear people saying "who dat" in Atlanta, in Wilmington or in Oakland, California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat, who dat, who dat say they're going to beat them Saints?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat going to beat them Saints?

MCWHORTER: If you're at a football game and you're going to use a chant, it makes much more sense to have a beer in your hand and say "who dat" than "who is that?" And that, in a nutshell, is what "who dat" is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can I say? I'm a true "who dat" fan.


COOPER: We appreciate the explanation.

James Carville lives in New Orleans with his family, and we asked him and his wife, Mary Matalin, to give us a tour of the city -- of their city before the Super Bowl. Take a look.


JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, it's hard to think of New Orleans, Louisiana, when I'm thinking of our guests here. 31st year of this restaurant here in the French Quarter. A man who's symbolic of Louisiana, Louisiana cooking, Chef Paul Prudhomme.

CHEF PAUL PRUDHOMME, K-PAUL'S LOUISIANA KITCHEN: The excitement that the citizenry have about what's going on with the Saints. I mean, it's just amazing. It really is. It's just wonderful.

CARVILLE: What are you going to eat during the game?

PRUDHOMME: Well, one of my favorite, favorite, favorite things is gumbo.

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This is a big fight James and I have. He likes that ditchwater dark gumbo. I like the light rue. Dish water darkroom man.

PRUDHOMME: I just love a really good, strong gumbo.

CARVILLE: Now Chef, I understand we got some "who dats" in the kitchen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat saying going to beat them Saints? Who dat, who dat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat saying going to beat them Saints? Who dat, who dat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat saying going to beat them Saints? Who dat, who dat?

CARVILLE: You all ready for Sunday?


CARVILLE: You know, what an amazing thing. The hotels are so -- people are just like moving, coming down, and the Saints win, it will be like Mardi Gras.

MATALIN: When we won the championship, not only did all the streets fill up, all the bands came out and played in the streets. One of the great things happening here is the resumption of bands on Bourbon.

This is the Zen master of American jazz. Puts his money where his mouth is. Mr. Grammy Irvin Mayfield has opened up this fabulous club on Bourbon Street and is bringing jazz back to Bourbon.

CARVILLE: The Saints had an effect on your audiences. And it's more enthusiastic now. Can you feel it?

IRVIN MAYFIELD, OWNER OF JAZZ CLUB: Well, here's the great thing about the Saints. The most famous jazz song in the world is "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In." CARVILLE: By far.

MAYFIELD: Now, here's what people don't know about the song. "Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In" is a funeral song. All right?


MAYFIELD: so when you think about New Orleans, what we've all been through this adversity, isn't our interesting that our music, the most celebratory music we know, comes out of this funeral tradition? And this team and this name have given us a whole new reason to play that song.


CARVILLE: It's brought this city together in ways that was always assumed that we were divided by race. We were a divided city. And what we're seeing now is a city really coming together.

MAYFIELD: I think it's an untold American story and an untold American example that we can be different. We can have issues. Race is an issue, but that doesn't mean we can't come together and celebrate why we're great, because this has tragedy, but triumph is always the end of the story.



COOPER: What a great city.

Coming up, we'll talk about, well, background noise. This man's interview gets overshadowed by some pretty interesting Internet action. It's our "Shot of the Day." We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, Candy, tonight's "Shot" prompts a question: looking at racy photographs on your office computer while a colleague is giving a live television interview just a few feet away. Good idea or bad idea? Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... which is where they were at their low, is very accommodating. And now they're moving back towards a more standard mutual position, which we think is somewhere between 4.5 percent and 5 percent. Certainly at this stage, we are estimating...


COOPER: Check out the computer screen just beneath this guy. The guy glued to it is a banker in Sydney, apparently unaware his colleague is giving a live television interview about the economy.

The model is Miranda Kerr. We want to -- we want to show our favorite moment when he realizes that millions are actually watching. Take a look.

A lot of people were concerned the banker would lose his job. He was like, oh. Oh. Apparently, Miranda Kerr even offered to sign a petition to save his job. But apparently, the banker apologized and today the bank said he can keep his job.

CROWLEY: You know, like, people, people, people. You're not supposed to -- I mean, don't do that at work. What is the deal? Let's just start there. Much less with a camera on. Don't rob banks. There's a camera there. There's just real fundamentals in this new technology age people ought to pay attention to.

COOPER: Yes, yes. It's one of those new rules, I guess.

Time for our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo we put on the blog every day.

So tonight's photo, Prince Charles chatting with students during a visit to a Kernley (ph) College in northwest England.

Our staff winner tonight is Candy Crowley. Candy's caption: "No, seriously, I really think Mom will let me be king before my 85th birthday."


COOPER: That is a very good one, Candy. That was very funny.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much.

COOPER: I liked it.

Viewer winner is Susan from Nevada, California. Her caption: "D on't let your mom say you can't play ball for a living. You can be anything you want to be except king. Believe me, I've tried."


COOPER: Another good one.

CROWLEY: Very similar. Very -- although I think the fix was kind of in, you know? You're thinking, wow, she's staying in a snowstorm to talk to me.

COOPER: No. The fix was not in. Yours was the funniest.


COOPER: And again, "STATE OF THE UNION," 9 a.m. Sunday; also repeated at 12...


COOPER: ... with Candy Crowley. Congratulations. Well deserved. CROWLEY: Thnak you.

COOPER: Look forward to watching it.

And Hillary Clinton is going to be on with Candy.

More news at the top of the hour. We'll be right back. Three- sixty continues.