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Christine O'Donnell Facing Scrutiny; President Obama Targets Tea Party; The Disease Detectives

Aired September 20, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for watching.

Tonight: Will Christine O'Donnell answer the tough questions about her financial history? She didn't this weekend. And, tonight, our Gary Tuchman tries again. We will show you what happened and what new details he's uncovered about her spending history.

Also tonight, President Obama facing disillusioned Democrats and challenging the Tea Party. We will show you what he said today and talk with our panelists, Eliot Spitzer, Dana Loesch, and Joe Johns.

And later, what if you got sick or your child got sick and no doctor knew why? What would you do? Well, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta introduces us tonight to the disease detectives trying to solve medicine's toughest mysteries. That is part one of a week-long series.

We begin, though, tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with Christine O'Donnell and how she spent money from her last campaign. Now, last week, after searching federal campaign filings, we learned that the surprise Republican nominee for U.S. senator from Delaware had checks and expense records that didn't seem to add up, apparently spending campaign money on personal expenses after the campaign was over, which would be a violation of federal election law.

For instance, take a look, this check for $475, Mrs. O'Donnell labeled it as mileage reimbursement, but it was written three months after her last campaign ended, or this, $600 for her utility bill paid to Delmarva Power. Again, the campaign was over.

Tonight, more checks have surfaced, including campaign dollars to pay rent on Ms. O'Donnell's home, rent going to her campaign lawyer and former boyfriend, who bought the home from her when she could afford mortgage payments.

Now, Ms. O'Donnell says she has done nothing unethical. And we would like to talk to her about these checks, but she's not talking. Ahead, you will see what happened when our Gary Tuchman tried to talk to her just a few moments ago.

This weekend, she canceled appearances on CBS' "Face the Nation," as well as "FOX News Sunday." Her campaign said there were scheduling conflicts, although they also told FOX News originally she was exhausted. She canceled soon after this video surfaced Friday night on Bill Maher's HBO show. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "POLITICALLY INCORRECT," OCTOBER 29, 1999)

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, COMMENTATOR: I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven.


JAMIE KENNEDY, ACTOR: Wait a minute. You were a witch?

O'DONNELL: But I did -- I did...

BILL MAHER, HOST: Yes, she was a witch.

KENNEDY: You were a witch.

O'DONNELL: I didn't join a coven. I didn't join a coven. Let's get this straight.


KENNEDY: Wait a minute. I love this. You're a witch. You're going Halloween's bad.

"I was a witch." I mean, wait a minute.

O'DONNELL: Wait. But that's exactly why.


KENNEDY: How did you used to be a witch?

O'DONNELL: Because I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things.

KENNEDY: Having fun?

O'DONNELL: I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do.


O'DONNELL: And one of my dates -- one of my dates, my first date...


MAHER: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Wait. I want to hear about this.



O'DONNELL: One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn't know it. And there was a little blood there and stuff like that.

MAHER: That was a date?


KENNEDY: Your first date was at a satanic altar?


O'DONNELL: Yes. Yes. We went to a movie and then like had a midnight picnic at a satanic altar.

MAHER: Let's have a movie and a sacrifice?


COOPER: All right. So, that was 11 years ago. Bill Maher says he has more clips of O'Donnell from the show and promises to play one after the other until she comes back on his program.

Given her new strategy of not talking to national media outlets, that seems highly doubtful, though, yesterday, she tried to explain away the whole witchcraft-satanic altar thing.


O'DONNELL: That witchcraft comment on "Bill Maher," I was in high school. How many of you didn't hang out with questionable folks in high school? But, no, there's been no witchcraft since.

If there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter now.



COOPER: Well, Karl Rove, who was actually on "FOX News Sunday"'s show without O'Donnell -- he filled in for her -- said, though she was smart to cancel, at some point, she's got to talk.


KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, in southern Delaware, where there are a lot of church-going people, they're probably going to want to know what was that all about.

My view is she can't simply ignore it. She's got to deal with it and explain it and put it in its most sympathetic light and move on. But she can't simply say, "Oh, these are unfactual and not true and just ignore them for the -- go to my Web site and ignore them."

I don't think the people of Delaware have or are accepting that as a reasonable explanation.


COOPER: Well, we're not, again, focusing tonight on the witchcraft. We're focusing or -- on -- on her finances, Rove there advocating she talk to people in Delaware, not inside the Beltway.

Sarah Palin, no surprise, agrees. Shortly after the Sunday morning programs aired, Palin tweeted this: "C. O'Donnell strategy: Time is limited. Use it to connect with local voters whom you will be serving vs. appeasing national media seeking your destruction."

This is no longer fresh advice. Other candidates are doing likewise this election season. Remember, of course, Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer. After tough questioning from reporters, she simply walked away.


QUESTION: Please answer the question...

QUESTION: About the headless bodies. Why won't you recant that? Do you still believe that?

Come on, Governor.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: OK. Thank you, all.

QUESTION: Governor, what do you make...

QUESTION: Governor...


QUESTION: Come on.


COOPER: She has also vowed not to debate her opponents anymore.

Nevada's Sharron Angle, who is running in Nevada against Senator Harry Reid, also has a history of walking and sometimes even running away from unwanted questions.

Well, Gary Tuchman has been digging on Christine O'Donnell's financial problems, tried to see if he could get a few questions answered by the candidate just a few moments ago tonight.

He joins us from Middletown, Delaware.

Gary, did she talk?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, she talked a little bit. I will tell you about that in a second.

First of all, just to set up the scene, we're at the candidates forum in this building in Middletown, Delaware, six candidates here for different races. She was one of them. After it ended, we wanted to ask her one very specific question, not about witchcraft, not about anything like that, but about these financial allegations.

Now, it's important to ask her that because today a Washington watchdog group which investigates politicians, just finished investigating Charlie Rangel, said that Christine O'Donnell is -- quote -- "clearly a criminal and she should be prosecuted" because of her spending.

So, I asked her, can I ask you just one specific question? She said, if you're polite and let me shake hands, I will answer the question. But then she wouldn't take my question. She just made a general statement.


O'DONNELL: We have been ethical. We have not -- I personally have not misused the campaign funds. We have our FEC lawyer, a great attorney, answering those charges, if it ever goes anywhere.


TUCHMAN: Well, we felt we had an obligation to still ask her a very specific question, and not get a general statement or ask a general question, because she hasn't given any specific answers yet. So when she walked out of here just a few moments ago, I tried one more time.


TUCHMAN: Ms. O'Donnell, I'm going to you that one question you promised you would answer.

O'DONNELL: I did answer it.

TUCHMAN: No, about the rentals last year.


TUCHMAN: Why were you paying rent money with campaign money?

O'DONNELL: Sorry, tonight, not happening.

TUCHMAN: Well, that was the one question I had.

O'DONNELL: I answered it.

TUCHMAN: No, you didn't answer it.


COOPER: So, Gary, the question -- by the way, you were -- you were not rude. You were respectful. The question -- as always.


COOPER: You -- you were trying to ask her about the apartment. What exactly is the allegation? Why was that -- what's the question?

TUCHMAN: OK. We have a lot more records today, FEC, Federal Election Commission, records, and some of these records show this. We have one check that she wrote in March of 2009 for $750 to a guy by the name of Brent Vasher for rental of a house. Now, the reason why this is very relevant is because, in 2009, she was running for nothing. She had just finished her election of 2008, where she lost to Joe Biden. She had a huge debt. She hadn't yet declared in 2010 that she was writing this check for $750 to a landlord for the rental of her home from campaign money.

The reason it's even murkier is Brent Vasher is her former boyfriend and is the person she sold her house to when it was about to be foreclosed upon. He bought the house, and she was paying him rent. Now, currently, she also pays campaign money for her apartment, but it doubles as a campaign headquarters.

But you can't give that argument in 2009. There was no campaign going on. Also on these forms, you're supposed to say what they're for, so you should say rental. Instead, she says fund-raising expense, expense reimbursement. That's what she said on that particular check.

A month later, on April 13, another $750 to the same guy, and this time the check didn't say expense reimbursement. It said reimbursement for services. So, she was changing the things that the check was written for. This watchdog group says this was an effort to confuse people who may look at these files some day.

Also, some more records we have for small amounts. But don't be fooled about this. What we're being told by some Republicans who don't want to go on camera and also this watchdog group is, this more clearly shows that she's using money for personal purposes when it's for small amounts because it couldn't be for a campaign.

Once again, it was in 2009, when she was running, a $22 check she wrote to the Lone Star Steakhouse. That's obviously for one meal. That's not for a party. It's not for a fund-raiser or anything like that.

Thirty dollars on March 2, also when she's not running for anything, to Cumberland Farms. It's called a travel expense. And what people are saying, what this watchdog group is saying is, this was her personal piggy bank. She was using her campaign funding like you use your credit card when you go to the store or you go to a restaurant.

And then, December 2009, four months before she declared her candidacy in this race, a $360 charge written -- a check written to herself, reimbursement, Houston trip. Now, what does that mean? When you use campaign money, you're supposed to have receipts, declare what it means. No such receipts that we see exist.

But what this watchdog is saying is that a very close friend of hers who works on her campaign now is from Houston. They're theorizing she just took a trip to Houston and reimbursed herself with $360.

And, finally, this check, this is a little different. July of 2010, she was running at this point. This is a $3,000 check to her mother, Carole O'Donnell. Now, you are allowed, under FEC rules, to hire family members to do things.

She was apparently hired as a financial consultant. But the reason that is notable is because many people have quit her campaign over the years saying they were not paid. She ended up paying $3,000 to her mother for financial consulting. And by many accounts, this financial consulting wasn't so good.

So, Anderson, what we do want to point out, what these watchdog groups are saying, what Republicans are saying to us is that if you gave money to Ms. O'Donnell, there's a very good chance, they feel, that you're helping subsidize the lifestyle of a woman who hasn't had a regular job for at least five years -- Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting stuff.

Gary, we will -- we will -- we will see how long she can go without basically answering directly any of these questions. But it's important we keep asking. Gary, appreciate it.

I want to bring in Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Her group doing much of the legwork on this story and as Gary mentioned today filed complaints with the FEC and the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware.

Melanie, you say in this report that -- that -- that -- that -- that she is a criminal. How can you say that? I mean, shouldn't she be innocent until proven guilty?


But, if you look at the facts in this case, and it's literally just the facts, you can look at the campaign finance reports Christine O'Donnell filed. You can look at what her former campaign staffers have said, and two former staffers, David Keegan and Kristin Murray, have both said she basically treated the campaign coffers like her own personal piggy bank, and she routinely was spending out of campaign money for her personal lifestyle.

This -- this is the stuff that crimes are made of. This is embezzlement. This is no different than any other employee who steals from their job.

COOPER: Christine O'Donnell says, we in the media shouldn't be listening to your organization. She says, basically, you're a liberal group. And the implication is that you have partisan reasons for getting after her.

Plenty of her supporters are going to say, look, you know, I don't want to use the term witch-hunt, because now it would be a pun, and I don't -- but -- but that, basically, you have an agenda, that you're going after her. SLOAN: CREW's track record is clear. We're a nonpartisan organization. And we take folks on all sides of the aisle, Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal. It doesn't matter.

We have come down just as hard on Nathan Deal of Georgia now running for governor, as Greg Meeks, a congressman in New York, Democrat, Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, two other Democrats we have targeted recently, John Ensign, another Republican.

So, CREW just is looking for politicians to be honest and have integrity. And Christine O'Donnell, sadly, just doesn't exemplify those values.

COOPER: Isn't it possible that she -- you know, OK, if she wasn't having an active campaign at the time she wrote some of these checks, allegedly, but maybe in her home she was doing work, cleaning up stuff from the last campaign or work that was related to stuff that had happened during the last campaign. Would it then be appropriate for her to make these charges?

SLOAN: Sure.

If those were the charges that she was making, some of those would be legitimate. But that's not what she did. Some of the expenses that we know -- for example, the two checks she wrote to Brent Vasher were for rent.

And we know this because Brent Vasher's uncle, David Keegan, her former campaign staffer, told us what the checks were for. And we know that Christine O'Donnell lied on the FEC reports. It's also interesting here that Christine O'Donnell has gone through many campaign treasurers.

They have quit repeatedly. So she was the only one responsible for signing and submitting those FEC reports. Basically, she had no oversight over her spending, which is sometimes what keeps people in check.

COOPER: This -- the timeline -- you're saying there should be an investigation. None of this would occur -- even if the U.S. attorney took this up, there would be no end result of this until well -- until years from now, correct?

SLOAN: Well, not necessarily years from now, but extremely unlikely that anything could happen before the election. Certainly, we're not going to know the extent of her wrongdoing before then.

It's going to take a while for investigators to unravel all her spending. They are going to have to audit her accounts and demand receipts and ask questions. But, luckily, now that she's brought in over a million dollars this week, she now has the money to actually pay those criminal defense and campaign finance lawyers she's going to need.

COOPER: But if you -- I mean, to the point that this is some sort of vendetta against her, that you're targeting her, I mean, if she was not the -- if she hadn't won, would you guys still be investigating her like this?

SLOAN: I think that's part of Christine O'Donnell was counting on. She never expected to be here.

So, no, groups like mine wouldn't have had the time or inclination to start combing through her campaign finance reports. But it was really the fact that her former campaign aides started talking about the problems. It wasn't CREW that immediately began investigating her. It was Kristin Murray, who used to be a campaign manager ,who started a robocall saying that Christine O'Donnell had been spending campaign money on personal items while leaving campaign staffers unpaid. So, it was really that that instigated us to begin looking into the matter.

COOPER: All right, Melanie Sloan, appreciate you being on. Thanks, Melanie Sloan.

Let us know what you think, the live chat up and running at

Up next: Eliot Spitzer joins us, along with Joe Johns and Dana Loesch. They are going to weigh in on this and also on President Obama's town hall meeting today, people hurting from the recession, throwing some very sharp questions at him -- one Democratic woman saying she is tired of defending him -- also, his challenge for the Tea Party.

And later: the disease detectives. Sanjay Gupta on the doctors you call when your child is ill and no other doctors know what's wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told that, and I was being -- I was looking for things that were not there. It's just really hard. It's -- I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually spent a lot of time videotaping her when we saw the little things that started happening, because no one believed us.



COOPER: Well, we have been focusing on the spending history of Christine O'Donnell, who has a lot of Tea Party support in Delaware and throughout the inflation.

President Obama today, in a town hall meeting, leveled a challenge at the Tea Party. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The challenge, I think, for the Tea Party movement is to identify specifically, what would you do?



OBAMA: It's not enough just to say, "Get control of spending." I think it's important for you to say, "You know, I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits," or, "I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits," or, "I'm willing to see these taxes go up."


COOPER: Joining us now, Eliot Spitzer, co-host of CNN's "Parker Spitzer," premiering two weeks from tonight, also Joe Johns, and Dana Loesch, a Saint Louis talk radio show host and national Tea Party organizer.

Eliot, what do you make of that? Is it smart for the president to directly address the Tea Party?


Right now, the dynamic is, the Tea Party has been governing the course of the debate. He needs to push back somehow. Saying and repeating what he has done clearly is not working as a pure political matter. He needs to say to the public, it is one thing to lob attacks at us. It is something very different to have a strategy for governing.

And I think he needs to change the debate and put the burden back on the Tea Party to say, what would you do, and then give two options, one, what he is doing and what the Tea Party would do, to the public to choose between them.

COOPER: Dana, is that a fair criticism of the Tea Party, which you're a member of, that it's about criticism, but not actually about concrete things about what they would do?

DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION: I would actually disagree with that. I think the movement has been incredibly clear as to not only what they would do, but what they would like to see from Congress, everything from the economy, to health care, to foreign policy.

They have been really, really clear that they would like to see more fiscal accountability, especially when it came to the health care debate. I -- it was written on the signs. So, people can understand it. They have -- they have been very clear.

SPITZER: Well, you know, you're right. The signs say, repeal health care, but that's not a health care agenda. That's not either a solution to 30 million, 40 million uninsured or escalating health care costs, or the reality that the quality of health care in this nation has been declining.

(CROSSTALK) SPITZER: So, repealing is -- you're right. It's a policy, but I don't think it's a policy that most Americans would say, that's where we want to go. So, I think the president is saying is, what is the affirmative agenda?


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: One thing I can add, one thing I would like to add is, number one, this isn't exactly new, because Colin Powell said it over the weekend.

Number two, I'm being told here in Washington that people in the Tea Party and associated individuals are not interested in being pinned down to specifics, because they know, once they get pinned down, they're no longer a moving target, it makes it easier for Democrats and their opponents to shoot at them.

So, they want to remain as general as possible as long as possible, because they can bring more people into their tent.


LOESCH: I think that means for the amounts of issues, perhaps, when you get into social issues.

But, for things like health care, the movement has been incredibly clear. Some of the things that they have put out are, let's -- let's be able to buy insurance across state lines. Let's -- have health insurance companies compete.

We have taken on everything from health care, to education, to foreign policy, and not just general. I mean, we have isolated specific issues within the realm of each of these topics and we have gone at it. The -- the -- when you talk about people being general, where we have seen people be general is from the Congress currently in Washington, D.C.

We have seen broad generalizations on a number of different policies. We would actually like to see congressional Democrats be a little bit more -- just be a little bit more precise with things.


SPITZER: Well, you know, because I'm always looking for points of agreement, I agree with you about the ability to purchase across state lines, competition across state lines. Those have been perspectives taken primarily by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and opposed by the Republican Party. So, if you want to ask, why...


LOESCH: That came out in the Patients' Choice Act.

SPITZER: ... why that -- why that has not been permitted...


SPITZER: What do you mean? You can't say no. Facts are facts.

The reality is...


LOESCH: Patients' Choice Act.


LOESCH: The fact is the Republicans came out with a Patients' Choice Act. I have to correct you on that point. Go ahead.


SPITZER: Talking over somebody isn't going to change the facts. The reality is...


LOESCH: Well, I had to point out the facts.

SPITZER: ... the opposition to interstate competition has come from the Republican Party. And that remains to be the case.

LOESCH: No. That is -- that's -- that's an error. That's a factual error.


LOESCH: Patients' Choice Act. It came out. Eric Cantor, a number of congressional Republicans came out.


LOESCH: And that was one of the main talking points, the patients' bill of rights.


SPITZER: Talking points always...


COOPER: I want to -- I want to play, Joe, a clip also of President Obama and one of the questions he got at this town hall meeting today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people. And I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting. I -- I don't feel it yet.


COOPER: Joe, a lot of Democrats probably would agree with that woman.

JOHNS: Yes. That's a very powerful interaction there, too, because you have an African-American woman who clearly seems to have been a real Obama supporter.

And what a lot of America out there, the -- the Democrats, I think, are talking about who are dissatisfied, they're talking about employment. They're talking about jobs.

They thought we were going to be much further along by the time we got to the midterm elections than we actually are. And they look at the president of the United States and say, you promised change. Where's the change? Where's the jobs?

So, this is something that this administration just can't get around and they're not going to be able to get around by talking about other things...


JOHNS: ... including their own successes, until that unemployment rate goes down.

COOPER: You know, we only -- we only have a few minutes left, but I want to get to Christine O'Donnell, because I'm really interested, Dana, to hear your perspective on this.

A, do you think it's unfair that there's this focus on her past spending, that these questions have been raised? And do you think it's fair for the media to be focusing on it? And do you think it's right for her not to be talking to the national media, but -- but simply kind of avoiding questions and only kind of staying locally?

LOESCH: Do I think it's fair? Absolutely. You're a candidate. You agree to enter public life. You have to be prepared for what the media throws at you.

Do I think that she should speak to the media? Absolutely. She's a candidate. She ought to be speaking to the media. She has an advantage of having an unreal amount of media attention on her. She needs to be using that to her advantage.

Do I think that there's a little bit of agenda behind some of the criticisms? I do. I spent the better part of the afternoon researching every single person involved with CREW. And while they claim to be a nonpartisan group, they're not. I have yet to find a titled officer within this group that actually has Republican conservative connections. One of them, in fact, used to in some capacity used to work with Joe Biden, which I think, if we're going to talk about disclosing stuff in the context of this debate, needs to be brought to the forefront.

So, there's -- I mean, of course, I think she should be answering these questions and she should be talking about it. I also think CREW needs to pay attention to Eleanor Holmes Norton, the woman who was caught on tape leaving messages for lobbyists, hitting them up for cash, which is also a violation of FEC law.

COOPER: But if you look at CREW's list of like -- you know, they have this list of the 10 most -- I'm not sure of the term they use for ethically challenged...

LOESCH: Right. Yes.


COOPER: ... I guess, individuals in Congress...


COOPER: ... I think it's pretty balanced between Democratic -- Democrats and Republicans.

And we have had that -- Melanie Sloan on before when we have been focusing on -- on this woman Bernice Johnson, you know, in the scholarship scandal down in Texas. I think we're kind of -- us and "The Dallas Morning News" seem the only people kind of interested in this.

But CREW is certainly interested in this. And she's a Democrat. Do you think there -- you don't think they target as many Republicans as they do Democrats, or you are just concerned with the personnel?

LOESCH: Well, I think that, on the list, because I was looking at it, it was like the 10 or 11 most corrupt politicians that they had -- or candidates, rather, that they had on their list. And they had two Missouri candidates right now from my state, Missouri. They had Roy Blunt and Ed Martin.

And I think it was sort of interesting that, while they had Ed Martin on, they didn't have his opponent, whose brother received $90 million in stimulus cash, stimulus that Russ Carnahan voted for, and his brother received $90 million of that for his wind farm, which is not even in Russ Carnahan's district. It's not even in the state of Missouri. They didn't make the list.


COOPER: You say, though, the questions being raised about O'Donnell are fair game?

LOESCH: Yes, sure. I think they are fair game. And her campaign director, Matt Moran, said that he's confident that these will be dismissed as frivolous. And, if so, let's answer some questions. I have no problem with it.

I think all candidates need to be held to the exact same standards, and no candidate should be running away when a reporter asks a question, unless it's something like boxers or briefs, as we saw in the '90s. That's frivolous. But everything else is fair game.

COOPER: Does it seem frivolous to you?

SPITZER: No, it doesn't seem frivolous. I think that her candidacy right now is about to implode unless she answers the questions in a very forthright manner.

If she does so -- and, frankly, I'm not here to give her advice -- I would say, look, stand up and say, if you made these mistakes on this order of magnitude, say to the public, you know what, I wasn't schooled in this stuff. Here's what I did. The magnitude is X thousands of dollars. I am going to pay it back out of my pocket. But the reason I'm running to be a senator in Washington is because I'm different from the folks who knew how to play by the rules, these crazy little intricacies.

She could maybe then resuscitate a campaign that clearly has imploded...


COOPER: She is also very personable and does well on television and you would think -- she seems like a nice person in her public appearances.

SPITZER: Her strategy has been completely backwards on this.

COOPER: Right.

SPITZER: And I think her candidacy disappears and becomes -- is mocked if she doesn't answer the questions quite quickly.

COOPER: Eliot Spitzer, Joe Johns, Dana Loesch, always good to have you on. Thank you very much.

LOESCH: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead: the advertising war between Christine O'Donnell and her opponent, Chris Coons. We will put the ads to our "Keeping Them Honest" fact test to see which, if either, is telling the truth.

And later: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a really fascinating series we're beginning tonight introducing us to fellow doctors, disease detectives, essentially. They're the last hope for people with medical mysteries.



GUPTA: It seems like that would be hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it is hard. It's very hard. And I have to take some solace in the fact that, even though we're turning down a lot of people, we're still helping a -- a chosen few.



COOPER: Christine O'Donnell might not be talking to the national media right now, but on stage in front of conservative audiences, she insists she's being smeared.


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, SENATE CANDIDATE: Will they attack us? Yes. Will they smear our backgrounds and distort our records? Undoubtedly.


COOPER: Well, that was O'Donnell on Friday night at the Value Voters Summit, even before the whole witchcraft story from 11 years blew up.

A lot of money is now pouring into the Delaware race, and new campaign commercials are being put out. As always, we're "Keeping Them Honest," checking the commercials against the facts. That's our job.

Tom Foreman joins us in tonight's installment of "Political Theater" -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, from the moment Christine O'Donnell won the Republican Senate nomination, Delaware has become the front line for the those who say the Tea Party train can be stopped and those who say it can't.

So look at this latest attack ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: O'Donnell spends money she doesn't have. Hired employees she didn't pay. Stiffed businesses. Didn't pay her taxes. One of Christine O'Donnell's former employees summed it up. "We were constantly trying to hold her back from spending. She was financially completely irresponsible."

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So we checked it out, and as CNN Gary Tuchman reported earlier, according to the former campaign finance consultant, David Keegan, O'Donnell did use campaign funds from earlier races for things like meals, gas and to pay for bowling one time. So used campaign funds, check.

The watchdog group we mentioned earlier, CREW, said that she did so for some things that she didn't behave properly as a candidate. She did this while she was no longer candidate. Therefore, it was illegal.

Beyond that, we could find an independent verification of these claims that she stiffed businesses or did not pay employees. Now, there's a dispute over wages, but we couldn't find independent proof that she did this in some way that would have excited attention here.

Her current campaign staff, while not flatly denying all those charges, says they are frivolous. But O'Donnell was audited in 2008 and owed almost $12,000 to the IRS. She appealed, thought there was some kind of error. There wasn't, and she ended up paying just this past spring.

So the bottom line, as we move forward from all these different charges that we have here, is that, when we put it on our scale, this commercial is pretty close, as it vacillates between our scale of "big fat lie," "tall tale," "it's a stretch," "to right on," to falling somewhere between "it's a stretch" and "right on," Anderson.

COOPER: Kind of interesting that that commercial, which is by Democrats, doesn't even mention who the Democratic candidate is or even focus on him. It's all about just Christine O'Donnell. That's clearly where their focus is right now.

How are Republicans responding in terms of commercials?

FOREMAN: Well, the Tea Party Express spent about $250,000 to help O'Donnell win the primary. Now they say they have all kinds of TV ads and radio spots in the work for her.

In the meantime, though, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who backed O'Donnell from the get go, released this ad today, going after her Democratic opponent. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we need in Washington? Harry Reid calls Chris Coons his pet. Delaware doesn't need a Washington career politician's pet.


FOREMAN: Reid didn't really call Chris Coons his pet, did he? Yes, he did, and I'll bet he regrets it now. On September 11, Senator -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told "The Hill" newspaper, "I'm going to be very honest with you. Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic Caucus. He's my pet. He's my favorite candidate." So this ad is also, when we throw it on our big scale there, Anderson, pretty much right on. And I think the rumble in Delaware can just continue to roll on, and we'll see a lot more of it based on your panels tonight.

COOPER: It's also interesting, Christine O'Donnell tonight referencing that pet remark. Obviously, that's going to be playing. We're going to be hearing that a lot from her in the days and weeks ahead.

Tom, thanks.

We're following several other stories right now. Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin."

Randi, what's going on?


Confirmation today from the group that tracks recessions that the latest one ended last summer spanning 18 months. It was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Stocks rallied on the news. All three indices reached four-month highs. The Dow surged 146. The NASDAQ climbed 40, and the S&P added 17 points.

France's first lady, Carla Bruni, denies that her U.S. counterpart, Michelle Obama, ever told her life in the White House was, quote, hell. The claim was made in an unauthorized biography of Bruni that was published just last week.

And in Portland, Maine, Lady Gaga takes the stage, not to sing. Instead, to rally for an appeal of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The singer called on Maine's two Republican U.S. senators to break a GOP filibuster on legislation that would repeal the ban on openly gay and lesbian service members. She drew cheers when she proposed a new law called "if you don't like it go home" -- Anderson. Thanks.

Up next, a little girl with a mysterious illness. Doctors completely stumped. Tonight Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to the disease detectives. The last line of hope for the parents of this little girl's mom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point I don't know if we're supposed to -- I didn't know if I should plan for her to go to kindergarten or if we should plan a funeral.


COOPER: Ahead how these doctors are trying to solve the medical mysteries no one else has been able to solve. Plus, in the wake of the deadly San Bruno, California, explosion, PG&E releasing its list of potentially dangerous pipelines. Is the section that blew up on the list? You might be surprised, ahead.


COOPER: Imagine if you're seriously sick, and you're getting sicker, but no one in your life can figure out what is wrong with you. You've seen dozens of doctors, but all of them are stumped. Your life is literally on the line. What do you do? Well, tonight we begin a remarkable series of reports about a entirely new approach to diagnosing unknown diseases.

Three-sixty M.D. Sanjay Gupta has been working on the story for months. He joins us now. Sanjay, this is really fascinating stuff.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, for the last year, Anderson, we've been visiting a place that I think very few have even heard about. It's a place where the best doctors and medical researchers in the world do work in teams to solve cases no one else has been able to crack. These are true medical mysteries.

It's happening just outside the nation's capital at the National Institutes of Health. It's the NIH for short.

Over the next few nights we're going to introduce you to some amazing patients who have been through the wringer and have turned to these doctor detectives as a last resort.

The question everybody asks, are they going to get the diagnosis that they've been waiting so long for?


GUPTA (voice-over): Bethesda, Maryland. Deep inside the sprawling NIH complex, Dr. William Gahl leads an elite team of doctors, specialists and researchers. They are the best in the world.

Together, they focus their vast expertise to try to save patients' lives. They are detectives in search of clues to solve mysteries no other doctors could solve.

(on camera) You're talking about patients who have been seen by some of the best in the country here. They're very good clinicians and diagnostic doctors everywhere. So you're taking the hardest of the most challenging cases of all?

DR. WILLIAM GAHL, DIRECTOR, NIH UNDIAGNOSED DISEASES PROGRAM: We expect a failure. We expect a high failure rate. We expect a success rate of perhaps 10, 15 percent or so.

GUPTA (voice-over): But 10 or 15 percent is a bright ray of hope for some patients.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much more you can do physically really speaks volumes? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GUPTA: Sally Massagee (ph) had all but given up. Take a look at her back. It was as if muscle mass was consuming her body. Sally was transforming into the incredible hulk.

GAHL: So this is -- this is Sally's MRI of the brain. Must be incredible. These are the muscles that govern the movements of the eye, which are really small muscles, are huge. The neuro-radiologist saw this and sort of went wild over this. He said, "Look at the size of those. They're three or four times bigger.

GUPTA (on camera): They had probably never truly seen anything quite like this?

GAHL: Right. Because there's no way to make these muscles big by, like, moving your eyes a lot. You know, it's not like you're lifting weights. So why would they be that big?

GUPTA (voice-over): It was a mystery. No doctors, no specialists, no one could diagnose what was happening to Sally, which is why she was selected to come here. It's called "The UDP," the Undiagnosed Diseases Program. It's a medical mystery ward.

Kiley McPeak (ph) is 6. She was also selected to come to the UDP.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She knows she's different, but it doesn't seem to faze her. She kind of seems like she's -- like a normal kid.

GUPTA: How serious is Kiley (ph)?

GAHL: Well, she's I would say, real serious. I think that she has a disorder that will threaten her life. It's essentially the issue here. Sort of racing against time.

GUPTA: The Undiagnosed Diseases Program was launched only two years ago at NIH. It accepts only the rarest of medical cases. And it's not only about saving lives. Here, they are also hoping to discover new diseases and create new science.

GAHL: It's really sort of the inspiration that we all have as clinical researchers.

GUPTA: In two years, the UDP has had more than 3,000 inquiries. More than 1,000 applications actually made it to Dr. Gahl's desk.

GAHL: This is an acceptance letter.

GUPTA: But UDP has accepted only a little over 300 patients.

(on camera) You have to tell a lot of people "no?"

GAHL: We do, yes.

GUPTA: It seems like that would be hard? GAHL: It is hard. It's very hard. I have to take some solace in the fact that even though we're turning down a lot of people we're still helping a chosen few.

GUPTA: The few, with mysterious conditions no one can diagnose. Kiley Dawn McPeak (ph) was born in May of 2004. The picture of a perfect baby girl. She developed like a precocious healthy toddler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was above average on everything. I mean, she could say her ABC's when she was like 18 months old.

GUPTA: And then at 3 and a half she was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. Shortly after that, her mom and dad, Gina and Steven, noticed something wasn't right. It began with a voice tremor.

KILEY MCPEAK, PATIENT: I have to eat. I have to do shots.

GUPTA: Then Kiley had a seizure and by the time she turned 4, her face started to twitch.

(on camera) The first time you sort of realized that there was something that was not right with her, because she was a precocious child, just zooming past all the milestones, everything. Because you're a parent now, and you're trying to figure out, is this just me being overly sensitive?

GINA MCPEAK, KYLIE'S MOTHER: I was told that. I was being -- I was looking for things that weren't there. It's just really hard. I don't know.

STEVE MCPEAK, KYLIE'S FATHER: We actually spent a lot of time videotaping her when we saw the little things that started happening, because no one believed us.

G. MCPEAK: Do you know when your birthday is?


G. MCPEAK: Good girl.

GUPTA: The twitching soon spread down the entire right side of her body. Her head began to tilt to the right, eating became a struggle. By then, all of the doctors agreed something was wrong, but what was it? The little girl was deteriorating.

G. MCPEAK: At this point I didn't know if I should plan for her to go to kindergarten or plan a funeral?

GUPTA: Sally Massagee's mystery did not begin until later in life. She was in her late 40s when her muscles began growing out of control.

(on camera) Do you remember seeing her chart for the first time?

GAHL: Yes, I do. This was referred by an endocrinologist at duke. And the endocrinologist said, "In my 38 years, I've never seen a case like this." Something like that. OK. That's sort of impressive. What does that mean? Well, when you see a picture, then, that's pretty impressive.

GUPTA: Like all the patients selected for the "Undiagnosed Diseases Program," Sally and her husband and Kiley and her mom and dad, would come to NIH for a week of complex and exhaustive tests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's had a spinal tap before?


GUPTA: Where a medical strike force was setting out to solve a mystery and to save their lives.

BUDDY MASSAGEE, HUSBAND OF SALLY: I went in there in hopes of them finding an answer.

This is our last hope, but at the same time it's -- what we finally made it to the people that are going to find us what's wrong.


COOPER: I mean, unbelievable, Sanjay, to hear the mom saying she didn't know if she should plan, you know, a birthday or her funeral. I mean, to not know what is going wrong with your child or with your body is just incredible.

GUPTA: It really is. And keep in mind, these patients, Anderson, have -- they have been everywhere. And as you've said, they've heard the same thing over and over again. We don't know what this is. We really can't help you. This becomes a place of last resort.

And what I found, Anderson, obviously, the doctors are good. They're very smart. They do a couple of things differently. First of all, instead of looking for the obvious things, which is how I think medicine -- that's what we're trained to do -- they're really, truly, looking on the fringes. They're looking on the edges to see what's not obvious. What's aberrant? What's an anomaly and try to make sense of that.

Now ultimately, as you heard Dr. Gahl mention, Anderson, they can accept failure. Doctors aren't usually good at accepting failure but they know that sometimes they're not going to find the answer but in those cases they've still got to move on and try to thank an advance science. So it's just a totally different way of looking at things.

COOPER: This is the first of four parts we're going to be airing over this week. What about tomorrow?

GUPTA: Well, Sally and Kiley are part of the chosen few, as was mentioned. Just one of a few hundred patients. Now they've been accepted to the program. We'll give you a look at the process and take a peek behind the curtain and get a sense of what happens at a place like this. Here's a little glimpse.


COOPER: Kiley will undergo a week-long series of complex tests and evaluations by top medical specialists. It's physically draining for everyone. And for Kiley's mom and dad, emotionally wrenching. The week is intense.

GUPTA: I don't think anybody has seen anything quite like Kiley. This is a very complex case and could be difficult to solve.

COOPER: Wow! We'll be learning, along with the doctors, try to learn at least, Sanjay. Looking forward to it. Thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Such tough cases.

Still ahead, a new twist on that acid attack. Helps the women hopes the police say through acid on her own face is now facing criminal charges, and not for what you may think.

Plus, why Lindsay Lohan could be headed back to jail, coming up.


COOPER: Randi Kaye, of course, joins us with a "360 Bulletin."

Randi, what have you got?

KAYE: Anderson, let's start on the West Coast tonight. The section of natural gas pipeline that exploded south of San Francisco in San Bruno is not on the list of PG&E's 100 riskiest pipelines segment. The gas company released the list today under pressure from state regulators. The San Bruno blast killed four people and destroyed dozens of homes.

There's word tonight that the imam behind the proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero is avoiding New York City because of security concerns. The Reverend James Parks Moore (ph) and a friend of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, says the imam is receiving protection from the New York Police Department. No comment from the NYPD.

Meantime, former president, Bill Clinton, weighed in on the controversy.


CLINTON: A lot of the objections that have been raised against it would just wipe away. They said, we are dedicating this whose Muslim -- this Islamic center to the memory of the people who were killed on 9/11, who share our faith.

And they can give you the names, and tell you how many there were and I think it would surprise most Americans. I think most Americans may still not know that there was a substantial number of Muslims killed on 9/11. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A Vancouver woman who lied about being attacked with acid has been charged with three counts of second degree theft. The charges are related to donations Bethany accepted from the public after claiming last month that an African-American woman threw acid on her face. She later admitted her injuries were self-inflicted. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.

And a judge today revoked Lindsay Lohan's probation and ordered her to appear in court on Friday. Lohan broke the news she failed a recent drug test Friday night through Twitter postings.

Her probation for a 2007 drunken driving conviction requires frequent drug tests.

Really sorry to see her back in trouble with that, Anderson.

COOPER: Just so sad and ridiculous and just really feel bad for her family. Randi, thanks very much.

Tonight's "Shot," from the serious to the ridiculous, we have a parrot dance throw down. Check it out.



COOPER: Isn't YouTube great? These are the kinds of things we spend our day in the office looking at. I like how reluctant the one parrot is? But then the other parrot sort of gets into it. The song, of course, is "What is love," kind of doing a take on the old "Saturday Night Live" sketch, again, the movie "Night at the Roxbury." Which I never saw. Did you ever see that one -- Randi?

KAYE: I never did see that one.

COOPER: Yes. Well, I don't think we missed much.

KAYE: If it was as good as this, it was probably pretty funny.

COOPER: I think so. All right, Randi. Thanks very much.

We've got a lot more at the top of the hour, starting with Christine O'Donnell. How she spent campaign money, allegedly, for personal, not campaign expenses. We're investigating. Stay tuned.