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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Interview with Donald Trump; 'Birther' Battle; The Mother of the Groom; From Ad Man to Motorcycle Man

Aired April 26, 2011 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, with the birther battle building and Donald Trump escalating his unsubstantiated claims about President Obama, we continue our exclusive investigations into President Obama's birth and the false conspiracy theories surrounding it.

You're going to hear more from Donald Trump directly tonight, my interview with him, refuting his claims with facts point by point, "Keeping Them Honest". Trump taking it up yet another notch, telling the Associated Press now he's now suspicious of the President's academic record.

As with the birther claims, he's long on insinuation and allegation, short on proof. In fact, he has no proof on this one.

We on the other hand have sent a team to Hawaii. They spent five days interviewing and talking with dozens of people, including the former director of Hawaii's Department of Health, a Republican who actually looked at Barack Obama's original 1961 birth certificate in storage at the Health Department.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did you see Barack Obama's original birth certificate?

DR. CHIYOME FUKINO, FORMER DIRECTOR, HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Yes.

TUCHMAN: And what did it tell you? Was it authentic? Was he born here in the state of Hawaii?

FUKINO: It was absolutely authentic. He was absolutely born here in the state of Hawaii.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, she's seen the very document the birthers, Donald Trump included, want President Obama to release, the so-called the long-form birth certificate, which is actually called the certificate of live birth in Hawaii.

Now, they say this, the computer generated version, called the certification of live birth, is for some reason not enough, even though it's got an official stamped signature, an official seal and says on the front -- quote -- "This copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding."

In addition, that copy right there gets you a driver's license in Hawaii and most other states; it also gets you a U.S. passport. That is what the state of Hawaii sends to anybody requesting their birth certificate.

Now, doubters, though, Donald Trump included, continue to say this certification of live birth doesn't carry the same weight as a copy of the original. What they don't know or maybe refuse to admit is this is the only form of birth certificate Hawaii now recognizes or hands out.

We found that out by asking Hawaiian native Stig Vitalic (ph) to come with us to the Health Department to get a copy of his birth certificate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN (on camera): I'm Gary Tuchman with CNN. We're here to get a birth certificate for Stig.

(voice-over): We asked Stig because we also saw his birth announcement in the Honolulu newspaper. In the same article, four names down, another newborn, born 13 hours earlier, Barack Obama.

(on camera): Now, do you give him his original three certificate or an electronic copy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a computerized birth certificate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, notice the woman behind the counter even refers to the certification of live birth document as a computerized birth certificate.

What's more, Gary discovered that Hawaii no longer even uses the old long-form document, the certificate of live birth, which is what they call it, for official purposes. You can still get one, but it involves making a special request through the Freedom of Information Act, and as Gary reported last night, the Health Department in Hawaii has gotten only one such request for that document in the past year.

Donald Trump also claims that he's got investigators on the case in Hawaii. We challenged him to give specifics, to name even one person in Hawaii that they have allegedly talked to, he refused. He said it wouldn't be appropriate.

In Hawaii, Gary Tuchman and producer Susan Chun (ph) asked the people they talked to whether they had also spoken or been approached by Trump investigators. None of them said they had seen or heard from anyone working for Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Have you seen any sign of Donald Trump's investigators here in Hawaii trying to find out that there's no -- that he wasn't born here in Hawaii?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I haven't seen anybody.

TUCHMAN: Have you seen any sign of Donald Trump's investigators here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven't seen them.

TUCHMAN: Have you seen any of Donald Trump's investigators?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not yet.

TUCHMAN: Donald Trump has said he is sending investigators to Hawaii. Have you seen any of the investigators yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they investigating his latest bankruptcy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, some other basics. The birth announcement placed in both Honolulu papers, contrary to birther claims, Gary found out they could not be placed by the family. Each and every birth notice only comes straight from the Health Department in Hawaii.

As for why it took two weeks to actually have that birth announcement in, there's no conspiracy there either. The Honolulu advertiser today telling our producer Susan Chun (ph) the announcements run every Sunday. The President was born on a Friday and that combined with a backlog of births that week delayed the processing of it.

Every other child, by the way, born that Friday also had their birth announcement delayed. That's neither enough for Donald Trump, nor others in the movement. More with Mr. Trump in a moment.

We begin, though, with more firsthand facts from 360's Gary Tuchman in Hawaii.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): "The Honolulu Star Bulletin" newspaper in August 1961 announces not only the birth of Barack Obama, but also where the family lived.

(on camera): The address on the birth announcement is in the eastern part of Honolulu. A half century later, the property is in great shape. There's a yellow house and a bungalow behind it. And they're owned by registered Republicans.

(voice-over): Rick and Nani Smethurst (ph) say they voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008, but were pleased when they found out the history of their home.

RICK SMETHURST, HAWAII: It gives me a little bit of pride. And as you came in, you can see we were obviously painting and taking care of it and sprucing it up a little bit.

TUCHMAN: Interestingly, though, Rick Smethurst is not ready to say Barack Obama was definitely born in Hawaii. Like many Americans, he's unsure.

The only way to be sure he and others say would be to find someone who saw Barack Obama immediately after he was born.

So, you saw him when he was an infant?

REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D), HAWAII: Oh, sure, of course.

TUCHMAN: Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie says he met the future president soon after he was born, because he was close to both of Barack Obama's parents. He remembers his mother, Ann Dunham, living in Hawaii and pregnant and remembers celebrating the birth with his friends, the Obamas.

ABERCROMBIE: His mom and dad went to school with me here, and with other folks here in Hawaii. And of course, we had no idea at the time that the future president of the United States was that little boy, that little baby, and we were very, very happy, of course, that that took place.

TUCHMAN: At the University of Hawaii, where the Democratic governor and the President's parents went to school, Professor Alice Dewey has taught for almost a half century. She was a faculty adviser to President Obama's mother and met her son as a child, whom she knows as Barry.

She remembers Ann Dunham talking about giving birth to her daughter, Maya, Barack's sister, who was indeed born outside the United States.

ALICE DEWEY, UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII: She said, you know, when I had Maya, it was -- we were -- a lot more difficult, because Indonesia doesn't believe in painkillers while you're giving birth. And of course, in the United States, giving birth to Barry was quite -- quite different and much more comfortable.

TUCHMAN: Then there is this woman.

(on camera): What's your son's name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stig John Vitalic (ph).

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Stig was one of the babies listed in the newspaper the same day as Barack Obama. And his mother has a unique memory from 1961, from looking at all the newborns in Honolulu's Kapi'olani Medical Center.

(on camera): Do you think you have seen Barack Obama before in person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a baby, yes.

TUCHMAN: Next to your son in the nursery? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN: You're pretty sure about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

In Hawaii in those days, there were hardly ever any black people.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We asked hospital officials about that, but they would not give out any patient records. But back in 1961, Hawaii's African-American population was less than one percent.

(on camera): When was your son born?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was born August 5th, 1961.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is the birth certificate of Monica's son. It's the exact same type of document that Barack Obama has made public. It's the same computer-generated version that every Hawaiian now gets when they need a birth certificate.

The original long-form documents are kept in a vault in this building and are no longer certified for official usage according to the state Health Department. But the former director of that Health Department felt it was her duty to see Barack Obama's original birth certificate.

(on camera): Do you know, has anyone else looked at the certificate?

(CROSSTALK)

FUKINO: The registrar has actually seen it as well.

TUCHMAN: The registrar is someone in your --

(CROSSTALK)

FUKINO: Alvin Onaka, he is the chief registrar for the state, and he has -- he is the one that took me to see the documents.

TUCHMAN: And you are a registered Republican?

FUKINO: At the present time, yes, I am.

TUCHMAN: And worked for a Republican governor?

FUKINO: Yes, I did.

TUCHMAN: And you still say that the birth certificate of this Democratic president is authentic?

FUKINO: Absolutely.

TUCHMAN: Does it anger you that this has become such a controversy and has taken attention away from issues that are important to you?

FUKINO: No. I find it a bit amusing, in the sense that it keeps resurfacing and over and over again, despite whatever I say. And it really tells us that the whole conspiracy notion out there that if there's an issue that needs to have a following, it will find one.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The current governor agrees.

ABERCROMBIE: Obviously, I'm going to do what is legally possible.

TUCHMAN: So much so that when he came into office, the Democrat announced he would release the birth certificate and put the controversy to rest. But he didn't. And that's fueled another part of the conspiracy, that he learned something that would hurt the President and his family, so he kept the original document locked away.

But that part of the conspiracy theory is not true either. He didn't release it because he couldn't. Hawaii state law only allows non- family members with a direct and tangible interest to look at birth certificates, which the Health Department director had because she was in charge of the certificates.

But the law does not allow any non-family member, not even the governor, to release someone else's birth certificate.

ABERCROMBIE: And I would just like to ask people who -- who have this political orientation towards the President, respect us here in Hawaii. Respect his mother and father. Respect the people that I loved and the people that I knew and the little boy who grew up here in paradise and became president.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is very emotional for you.

ABERCROMBIE: Thank you. Yes, it's certainly; sure, it is.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It is emotional for many people. But emotions and conspiracy theories aside, facts are facts. And the fact is, according to all the evidence, Barack Obama was born just as the Honolulu newspaper announced it in August 1961.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Honolulu.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: All right. Well, look, part of the problem with conspiracy theories is that believers cling to them in spite of the facts. Or when the weight of the real evidence gets too heavy, they find something else to object to, they change the topic.

Donald Trump is now shifting focus from the President's birth certificate to his academic record, telling the Associated Press -- quote -- "How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I'm thinking about it. I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."

The truth is, we don't know what kind of grades Mr. Obama got. College records are private. Schools aren't allowed to release them. And few, if any, modern presidential candidates have released their own grades. George W. Bush didn't, John McCain didn't, and Barack Obama didn't.

Some candidates' college grades have been leaked. Now, in his memoir "Dreams from My Father," Mr. Obama admits he used drugs in high school and his grades suffered because of it. However, he worked his way through Occidental College, transferred to Columbia, and was accepted into Harvard Law School, where his fellow students elected him president of "The Law Review". And he graduated magna cum laude, which is a Latin term which means high honors, graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at the Harvard Law School.

But Mr. Trump has doubts about the President's grades and especially his birth certificate. Here's part two of my interview with Trump, unedited, about the birth certificate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP HOTELS & CASINO RESORTS: The fact is, a lot of people are troubled with this, just like I am.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes, but a lot of people believe 9/11 didn't happen, or --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The governor says that he saw, the governor, the previous governor, said that he saw the birth certificate. Now they're saying, oh, it wasn't a birth certificate. It was a certificate of live birth.

There was supposed to be a birth certificate. I don't think it exists, Anderson. I hope it exists, but I don't think it exists.

COOPER: But it wasn't previous the governor. It was the health director for the previous governor, who we've just interviewed on camera, says yes, she has actually seen it. And it doesn't say he's a Muslim. It doesn't say anything --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, that's fine. Then you know what Obama should do? Instead of spending millions of dollars on lawyers, he should say it's ok to release my birth certificate. No, he should do that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You have said this millions in lawyers -- you have said this idea that he's spending millions of dollars on lawyers to refute this. And in other interviews, you have said he spent $2 million.

TRUMP: I have heard over $2 million.

COOPER: Right. All that is according to an FEC filing. But in truth, though, you --

TRUMP: Well, that's a pretty big filing. I mean, he's not lying to the SEC -- or the FEC.

COOPER: But you have no idea what that money was spent on. No one does. You can't say he spent $2 million --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, they say it was spent on lawyers trying to protect him.

COOPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, no, they say it was spent on lawyers trying to protect him from showing a birth certificate that may not exist.

COOPER: Well, that's not true. The FEC filing is about lawyers. Candidates spend a lot on winding down campaigns. He also has to defend against FEC investigations into campaign financing.

TRUMP: Look, he spent a lot of money, whether it was millions of dollars or hundreds of thousands, but I have a feeling it was millions. He spent a lot of money.

Now, why should he waste money? He could do what I did just a month ago. I called in. I said, you're right, it's a private document. Thank you very much. You can release it.

It is a private document, Anderson, but he can release it.

COOPER: All right.

John McCain, has by the way, spent $1.3 million on legal fees according to "Roll Call" since the election.

But you -- you repeatedly, though, in interviews say that there's no serial number on the live -- on the certificate of live birth.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No, what I say is the following, Anderson. What I say is it's a stamp signature, a stamp.

COOPER: Right.

TRUMP: It's not a signature; it's a stamp. Anybody can get a stamp. Anybody can make a stamp. But it's a stamp signature.

But much more importantly, if you look at your birth certificate or my birth certificate, it's got details all over it, lots of details that you don't have on a certificate of live birth. A certificate of live birth, you can get over a telephone, Anderson. It's not the same thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we will have the final part of my interview with Donald Trump after the break. We just had to cut right here for time. But we haven't edited this interview at all.

I asked him why, if he doesn't trust Hawaii's computerized birth record, he thinks he can trust Hawaii's long-form birth record. His answer ahead.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

And later tonight, the shocking brutality in Syria, witnesses say troops are gunning down civilians and when other civilians try to go to pick up their loved ones' dead bodies, they got shot at as well.

You're going to hear from an extraordinarily brave woman speaking out tonight at great risk to herself. She knows she can be arrested, tortured. But she doesn't want her fellow countrymen killed in silence, murdered in silence. Her bravery is inspiring.

Let's also check in right now with Isha Sesay. She's in London where I'm heading in a few hours to cover the royal wedding, which is now three days away -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, preparations really picking up speed here. The VIPs start to arrive. See you right here tomorrow.

Coming up tonight, a look at Princess Diana's enduring influence on her eldest son, and how she will have a presence in spirit at the wedding. Also, how Prince Charles gets along with his future daughter-in-law. That and more live from London when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All right, part two of the interview with Donald Trump. Hawaii says the computer generated certification of live birth, which the Obama campaign has -- has -- has put forward, which the state sends out when people request their birth certificate is the authoritative word on whether someone was born there.

The state of Hawaii no longer even accepts the old long-form document for official purposes, yet Mr. Trump says he trusts the old, but not the new.

So in this, the final part of our interview, I asked him why, if both come from the same source, would he trust either?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Isn't this a problem you have with the state of Hawaii, because -- I mean, if some --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: -- if some person came to work for your organization and gave a certificate of live birth as proof of identification, you're saying you wouldn't accept it?

TRUMP: No, I don't have that problem with Hawaii, because they take birth certificates.

And until just recently, when obviously they're starting to get a little bit nervous --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But they don't recognize the birth certificate you're talking about.

TRUMP: Anderson, they're starting to get a little bit nervous. And until just recently, they said we have our birth certificate, but it's private. We don't want to show it. It's private. We have it. And we also have a certificate of live birth.

So, here's the certificate. And a lot of reporters, like George Stephanopoulos, who by the way, was very nice to me except on this issue. He was like -- he was like a crazed lunatic.

But I'll tell you what. Until recently, they said we have a birth certificate, but it's private. Now they're sort of saying, well, maybe we don't have a birth certificate. We have a certificate of live birth.

All of a sudden, they're changing their tune, because I'm hearing that the birth certificate either disappeared, one or the other, or never existed. And if that's the case, he has a problem.

Let's go on to how gas prices are going to destroy this country.

COOPER: Well, let me ask you just one more question on this. On Bill O'Reilly's show, you said maybe he doesn't want to release it because it might say he's a Muslim.

TRUMP: Well, no, I didn't say that. I said there may be something on it. And they asked me like what? I said, well, perhaps because he's a Muslim. Perhaps something.

I mean, who knows what's on it? I don't know. But he didn't want to release it maybe because if they had it, there's something on it. Because I can't understand why is he spending all this money in legal fees when all he has to do is say release my birth certificate?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, again you don't --

TRUMP: I released mine a month ago.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Again, you don't know how much he's spending on this particular issue.

TRUMP: Oh he's spending a tremendous amount of money.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But on the long form birth certificate if you're talking about there is no form.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Anderson, he's fighting all over the country on this issue.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: -- there is no part for religion on that, just for the record.

TRUMP: Unless he has cheaper lawyers than I have, Anderson, he's fighting all over the country on this issue, and it's getting -- it's bothering them greatly, and they're very concerned.

The birth certificate is -- and I will tell you this, Anderson. When I got involved, when all of a sudden the polls had me started to rank number one -- you do admit that I'm ranked number one, do you not?

COOPER: Yes, I think tied with Huckabee.

TRUMP: Yes, in almost every poll.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But I will give that to you, absolutely.

TRUMP: But prior to that, I will tell you, when I first started this, which was a few months ago, I had heard this issue for a long time about his birth certificate or the lack thereof and about where he may have been born or whatever. I had heard it for a long time.

And I didn't pay too much credence, I didn't pay too much attention to it and then every day that went by, it looked more and more suspicious.

COOPER: Again, he has released his birth certificate. It is the certificate of live birth. That is -- in Hawaii, that is what is official.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: That is not -- Anderson, you're a smart guy. And I watch your show and I like your show. You're a smart guy.

A certificate of live birth is not a birth certificate. You know it and I know it.

COOPER: The other thing -- and the other thing you have been saying is that -- is that President Obama's grandparents probably planted his birth announcement in the local newspaper.

TRUMP: Yes, and not because they thought he was going to be president because they wanted him to be a citizen of the country. And who blames them?

COOPER: But you know that's not possible.

The Hawaii Department of Health, the hospital, and the newspaper all confirmed to us -- we were just there -- that that wasn't possible. In 1961, the only way to get a birth announcement was directly from the Department of Health. The newspapers didn't accept birth announcements any other way back then.

TRUMP: But they put it in at your request, Anderson. And we have that checked also. They put it in at your request. And they will put it in at your request.

COOPER: They don't.

TRUMP: Plus, the grandparents could also have put it in. What, the newspaper is not going to take their ad? It doesn't work that way.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: It does. And to this day, it works that way.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: All right, well, what can I tell you? And, by the way, you know when the ad was placed? Anywhere from eight to 14 days later.

COOPER: Again, it came from the Department of Health.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: The ad was placed from eight to 14 days later. So you mean they wait eight to 14 days and then they put in an ad that he was born? I don't think so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And we have more with Donald Trump talking about the Middle East, talking about the situation in Libya and Iraq and what sort of a Trump foreign policy would look like. We will play that in the coming days.

As to his last point about why a delay of eight to 12 days, as we told you earlier in the break, Barack Obama and many other people in Hawaii were born on a Friday. Because of the backlog, the birth announcements are only published on a Sunday, so it took the following Sunday to have them put in by the Department of Health.

Donald Trump, our interview and Gary Tuchman's reporting came up this morning at the White House. Listen to what was said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think CNN recently did a highly credible piece on an -- on an established fact, which is that the President was born in the United States of America. And, you know, this was a settled issue.

The birth certificate that the campaign put up online has been available for everyone to see around the globe. It's the same birth certificate you get to get a driver's license. Anybody who was born in Hawaii who asks for their birth certificate gets the same thing that we -- this -- that the campaign and the White House has provided to -- to the press.

So I just think this is a -- it's a distraction and it's an unfortunate distraction from the issues that I think most Americans care about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining me now, White House correspondent Ed Henry, who asked a question to the spokesman today about that at the briefing. Also on the phone, political contributor Cornell Belcher, who did polling for the 2008 Obama campaign and will be working for the 2012 campaign Obama campaign as well.

Ed, you got even more reaction from the White House behind the scenes today. I know you have been talking to administration officials privately. Did they think there's any possible political benefit to this, any downside for some of the President's critics?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, senior advisers, I spoke to two of the President's most senior advisers today about this. And they insisted with real deep conviction that they think that they're not thinking about the politics, that this is bad for the country, in their words, because they say look, this is settled law to us, basically. They say the President put out the certificate of live birth, as you have been noting, and people like Donald Trump just won't listen.

And they say, in a situation like that, that is just bad for the country because people just want to make the President illegitimate at all costs just because they're critics and it makes it harder for the President to actually cut deals with Republicans, do his day job because it just persists.

COOPER: Well, Ed, let me -- let me argue Donald Trump's point here because he's not here to argue for it himself. Why not, if they want this to go away and they don't like the conversation, why not release the original birth certificate form, the so-called long form, which is actually called a certificate of live birth, rather than the certification of live birth, which they have released?

HENRY: I asked Jay Carney that very question as a follow-up. And he basically said, look, the critics like Donald Trump are just going to move the goalposts. Even if you put out the actual birth certificate, they would raise questions about the signature. They would raise questions about, well, was this doctored? As you heard Donald Trump, every time you presented him with a fact, Anderson, he came up with, well, he was born on a Friday, but it came out on a Sunday, this, that. The goalposts keep moving.

That's the way Jay Carney basically feels. That's what they feel at the White House, that no matter what they do, the conspiracy theorists are going to persist. So they believe the President dealt with this and it's over.

COOPER: Cornell, you have polled for President Obama. You will be again, I assume, for this next campaign. Does this issue hurt him or does it help him?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Well, I don't think it necessarily hurts him. I think it's interesting if you look at what some of the national Republicans have been doing.

And look, Trump aside, because Trump is -- is a huckster and he's doing this for his own -- for his own gain. And it's the most cynical awful politics around. But I think this is -- this is how I think it hurts Republicans. And if you look at what -- even Michele Bachmann is backing away from this, and -- and Governor Brewer out in Arizona sort of backing away from this, it goes to the idea of judgment.

And if you have got your Middle American sort of moderate independent voter out there, you know, you cannot be the party of birthers and have independent voters think you are of good judgment. So I think you're seeing some of the national Republicans pull back from this because it goes to an idea of, if they're on this birther thing, if they -- you cannot trust the judgment of this party.

So I think you see some of the national Republicans pulling back from this in a way that I think that they think is going to be hurtful with them with independent voters.

COOPER: Cornell, I think as Fareed Zakaria makes the argument, or has made the argument, that this comes down to kind of coded racism. Do you -- do you believe that is part of this, not necessarily on any one person's part, but -- but -- but for some -- for some in the birther movement?

BELCHER: Well, look, if you back down sort of the -- look, the evidence is overwhelming, categorical, so you start to ask the question, ok, what is it about this president that makes them not want to believe the truth? What is it about this president that so shakes their world view and sort of what they want to believe that they have to make him illegitimate?

And I don't back away from the idea that race is at the forefront of that. You know, the election of the first black man president is going to make some people want to make that illegitimate because it shakes up their whole foundation and their world view.

And I think we do ourselves a disservice when we don't tackle that question head on. What is it about this black man being the President of the United States that makes these people not want to believe the truth? COOPER: Let me ask you the same question that I asked to Ed. If the White House doesn't like this conversation being out there and this story out there and people still discussing it, why not take the extra step, even though it's unnecessary, even though they have already released the certification of live birth and that's a valid document, why not release this certificate of live birth, the copy of the original document?

BELCHER: Anderson, you're being too rational, because the goalposts keep moving. There's no evidence. Look, the evidence is already overwhelming. There's no evidence that's going to make those people want to believe that he's illegitimate, make them believe that he's legitimate, because it's not coming from evidence, not coming from fact.

It's coming from somewhere ugly and someplace else. All the evidence in the world is not going to prove it to them.

You know, it's interesting. Going back to the primaries before he was even the nominee, this issue came up, and the campaign sort of thought, well, it will go away because it's so ridiculous and the evidence is so overwhelming.

But it's not based on evidence. It's not based on anything rational. It's based on something very visceral and something very ugly.

COOPER: Ed, does behind the scenes anyone at the White House invoke race in this?

HENRY: They don't, to be honest, in public, but you're right. Behind the scenes I was speaking to one of the President's advisers today who was basically saying, look, you have to put this in the same category as the people who not only talk about the President's race, but think his name is a little funny.

There's a certain element in the country that, as Cornell is suggesting, just don't believe he's legitimately president and no matter what you do, they're just going to believe that.

COOPER: Ed Henry, thanks very much. Appreciate you being on tonight.

HENRY: Thanks Anderson.

COOPER: Cornell Belcher, appreciate you calling in, as well.

Still ahead, incredibly disturbing reports tonight of an escalating crackdown in Syria. First-hand account of the danger and the fear ahead from a very brave woman on the ground in Syria.

Plus, those who know him say Prince William is very much his mother's son. How his close relationship with the late Princess Diana has shaped the heir to Britain's throne.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the situation in Syria appears to be growing more dangerous by the day. This amateur video seems to show heavily artillery bombarding the southern city of Daraa today. Listen to this.

Since Syrian officials won't let us into the country, we can't verify the accuracy of videos like this or eyewitness accounts either. Witnesses have described tanks patrolling the streets of Daraa today, dead people lying in the streets. And when others try to go to collect their bodies to bury them somewhere, they get shot at, as well -- as well. In one western city, a witness said security forces have set up checkpoints and are arresting people.

Today's reported violence follows a major crackdown yesterday in Daraa. Thousands of army troops and security forces carried out predawn raids. Dozens were reported killed.

And over the weekend, a funeral procession in Damascus became a target, as well. Peaceful protesters were fired on in the streets.

Today, a human rights group said at least 416 people have been killed across Syria since mid-March when protesters began demanding freedom and political reforms.

Tonight, the State Department is urging U.S. citizens to delay any travel to Syria. It's also ordered all eligible U.S. embassy dependents and some nonessential staff to leave the country.

Meantime, the Syrian government is sticking to their story, saying it's targeting armed criminals and terrorists.

Earlier, I talked to a woman named Razan Zaytouni, a Syrian woman in Damascus who insists that we use her name. She's talking to us at great personal risk, but she's determined to speak out. She's among those calling for reforms. Here's what she told me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Some of the bloodiest violence appears to have taken place in the town of Daraa, where the regime has sent in tanks, perhaps thousands of soldiers to try to quell the protests. Do you know what's happening there?

RAZAN ZAYTOUNI, SYRIAN ACTIVIST (via telephone): It's like a war. It's like a real war there. It's three days now, no electricity, no water.

COOPER: I understand a number of people have been killed trying to go out and get dead bodies of their loved ones. And they have been shot at by snipers if they leave their house to try to retrieve the bodies of others who have already been shot and killed.

ZAYTOUNI: That's why the dead bodies are still in the streets. They could only get 35 bodies from the streets. The others are still -- they cannot reach them.

COOPER: The regime says that the people of Daraa had asked the soldiers to come in to protect them from, quote, "terrorist groups". Is that just a lie?

ZAYTOUNI: It's just rubbish, actually. These people, innocent people are killed now, including children and women. We got two names of two children who were killed. The only terrorists are those who are killing our people there now.

COOPER: What do you think will happen? I mean, will people continue to protest?

ZAYTOUNI: Until this moment, it seems people have very high spirits. Yesterday evening, protesters were in the streets in different cities of Syria. So people are still insisting to go on.

COOPER: You're insisting on using your name and insisting on talking and telling the world about what is happening. Why are you doing this? I mean this is a very dangerous thing that you are doing.

ZAYTOUNI: The regime is playing very dirty rule about -- about media. They made all this propaganda. They made all of these lies. We see what is going on the ground. Those who are protesting, those who are killed in the streets, those who are arrested and tortured, we know the truth, and we need the whole world to know it.

COOPER: Do you worry they could come for you?

ZAYTOUNI: Sure, nobody is safe these days. Many of our friends are in prison now.

COOPER: Razan Zaytouni, I appreciate your courage. Thank you. Please try to stay safe. Thank you for talking.

ZAYTOUNI: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Incredibly brave.

Let's check in with Isha Sesay. She's in London, covering the royal story, but she's following other stories for us, as well, with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, in Libya, the reports of pro-government forces today launched their most aggressive attack yet on Misrata, despite the government's claim it has suspended military operations in the besieged city.

This video shot in Misrata Sunday shows fierce fighting between government and opposition forces. Today, security officials told CNN refugees in a camp near Misrata's port was targeted. Misrata has been under siege by Gadhafi's forces for seven weeks. Hundreds of people have been killed.

The Census Bureau has released new data on the education gap between women and men in the workforce. Last year, 37 percent of employed women age 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 35 percent of working men. And take a good look at this bottle of bubbly. It's one of two bottles of champagne headed to an auction block in June. They were recovered from a 19th Century shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. Their estimated age, about 200 years old.

Anderson, I don't know about you, but that seems to be taking vintage a little too far in my book.

COOPER: Wow. Yes, definitely.

SESAY: I know.

COOPER: All right. We'll check in with you in a moment, Isha, on the royal story. Coming up, scores of people are expected to watch the royal wedding on Friday. One woman, of course, will be absent, the mother of the groom.

We're going to have a poignant look at Diana, Princess of Wales with the life with her son, William cut far too short, and how her legacy will be present on William's wedding day.

And later, emergencies declared in three Midwestern states because of flooding, and it's not over yet. We'll have the latest, when 360 continues.

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COOPER: Well, the countdown, of course, is on to the royal wedding, in case you haven't heard. An estimated half a million people are expected to actually line the wedding procession route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey on Friday. Another half a million people are expected to watch the wedding on screens in London's Hyde Park, and of course, people all over the world will be watching, as well.

It will be a very happy day, of course. Also bittersweet, with thoughts sure to turn to the mother of the groom, Diana, Princess of Wales. Sadly, Prince William lost his mom when he was just 15 years old.

Randi Kaye tonight has a look at Diana and William's too-short time together and how her legacy will be part of his wedding day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): June, 1982, on the steps of London's St. Mary's Hospital. Princess Diana and Prince Charles introduce the world to their first born.

Prince William, the boy who one day would be king, grew up before our eyes. There were picnics, photo shoots in the garden, the first day of kindergarten and more. Through it all, Diana was at his side.

Nick Davies knew Princess Diana and has written books about her. He says she and William were especially close. NICK DAVIES, AUTHOR: He hated -- hated -- to see his mother crying. Because he would get tissues and push them under the door for her so she had something to cry into, because she didn't want to be seen in front of the lads crying over the rows she was having with Charles.

KAYE: Davies says Diana found great comfort in William and later in his younger brother, Harry, too.

PRINCESS DIANA, MOTHER OF PRINCE WILLIAM: My first priority will continue to be our children, William and Harry, who deserve as much love and care and attention as I am able to give.

DAVIES: What she didn't want to do is bring them up as little princes, sort of sitting on silken cushions and never getting their hands dirty or never playing in the mud.

KAYE: But on August 31, 1997, Princess Diana's dream of witnessing William being crowned king ended in a fiery car crash in Paris. The princess died at the hospital after being chased by paparazzi. Harry was just 12, William was 15; old enough to understand the gravity of the loss.

DAVIES: To have her taken away from him in a car crash so dramatically like that, I think it rocked him very, very severely. Very severely.

PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: (INAUDIBLE) I remember is one of the hardest experiences that anyone could ever endure. To never be able to say the word "Mommy" again in your life sounds like a small thing. However, for many, including me, it was now already just a word, hollow and invoking many memories.

KAYE: Still, in the short time William had with his mother, her influence is clear. She instilled in this handsome polo-playing, rescue-helicopter-flying prince, a sense of compassion for those less fortunate, through her work with AIDS victims, the homeless and those disfigured by weapons of war.

In 2009, William slept in a cardboard box in the streets of London to call attention to homelessness.

DAVIES: He certainly approve of charity work. He thinks that it's the duty of the Royal Family, as Diana did; and he wants to emulate his mother to remember her.

KAYE (on camera): Also like his mother, William is bound to his duties as a royal but determined to live a normal life. He reportedly drives his own car, a Volkswagen, and at university, asked that nobody call him "prince" or "sir".

He and Kate Middleton apparently do their own grocery shopping, too.

William also learned a tough lesson from his mother: how to deal with media scrutiny.

(voice-over): After their engagement, he and his fiancee seemed in control of the media frenzy as they showed off Kate's engagement ring, which once belonged to Diana.

PRINCE WILLIAM: Of course, it's very special to me. And (INAUDIBLE), put together. It's my way of making sure that my mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our life together.

KAYE: William and Kate will be married at Westminster Abbey, where nearly 14 years ago, Princess Diana's funeral was held. Coincidence? Or William's way of allowing his mother to witness his marriage?

Whatever you believe, Princess Diana remains firmly in William's heart.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Up next, late developments. Back home, a man suspected of planting a bomb in a Colorado mall was arrested nearly a week after the search began for him. Details on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A lot more happening tonight. Isha Sesay is back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, a "360 Follow" in Colorado. A man suspected of attempting to bomb a mall was arrested at a grocery store. Earl Albert Moore was taken into custody by Boulder police and handed over to the FBI. Moore will face a federal judge tomorrow morning.

Authorities say the incident last week in Littleton had no connection to the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Well, across parts of the Midwest days of heavy rain have led to flooding. Governors in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky have declared emergencies. In Missouri alone, at least three levies are breached, and it's far from over. There's a potential for historic flooding into Ohio and Mississippi river Valleys over the next week.

There's a new voice for the AFLAC duck. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel, this is Paul Amos.

PAUL AMOS, AFLAC: We would love for you to represent us at the next voice of the AFLAC duck.

DANIEL MCKEAGUE, NEW VOICE OF AFLAC DUCK: Well, I would be -- I would be absolutely honored. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: And that's how Dan McKeague, a 36-year-old radio station sales manager and father of three, living in Minneapolis, found out. He beat out some 12,500 others for the job. He replaced comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who was fired after making inappropriate comments on Twitter about the Japanese tsunami.

And Anderson, Katie Couric is leaving "CBS Evening News" after five years at the anchor desk. She told "People" magazine she's looking for a new format where she can do more multidimensional story-telling. The big news today, Anderson.

COOPER: It was. Well, we certainly wish her well.

Time for the "Beat 360" winners. Our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the photo that we put on the blog every day. So tonight's photo, John Laufry, who's the first person to camp out on the streets of London to wait for the start of the royal wedding.

Staff winner tonight is Kat, her caption, "When I emerge from my cocoon, I'll be a real monarch too.

Viewer winner is Jennifer. Her caption, "Crazy will get you 15 minutes of fame. It's working for me." Jennifer, congratulations. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.

I'm not sure really (INAUDIBLE) to the hallelujah but congratulations.

Still ahead, "Building up America". He lost his job in advertising, he now makes a living following his designing cool motorcycles. What it took to become his own boss and find customers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The layoffs have forced millions of Americans to rethink their futures. For one Virginia man, that meant starting his own business designing motorcycles. His background was in advertising and it turned out to actually be a huge help.

Here's Tom Foreman with the "Building up America" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When John Ryland was laid off after almost a dozen years at the same company, he went straight home and right to work. He had been developing a budding interest in custom motorcycle design and he thought just maybe this was the right time to take it to the next level.

(on camera): Did you really know how to go about starting a business?

JOHN RYLAND, WWW.CLASSIFIEDMOTO.COM: No. Had no idea.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But he did know that even from Richmond, his advertising skills could help him reach the world. He quickly set up a Web site featuring his designs, sleek, sharp images of junk yard castoffs that he was remaking into cool road warriors.

(on camera): Wow, almost a quarter million views on this page. How about that.

RYLAND: Yes. If I don't get 600 visits from 30 countries a day, then I'm bummed. I'm like, man, what am I doing wrong?

FOREMAN: Along with his wife, Betsy, he posts regular updates on his work, handles a steady stream of calls from fans and stays flexible. For example, one day on a whim, he made a lamp from motorcycle parts. You put the first lamp on the site and it sold like that.

RYLAND: Instantaneously.

FOREMAN: They've sold more than 100 since and it's now a major part of their business. John still freelances in advertising, but his future is here.

RYLAND: People probably think, yes, right, getting laid off is a blessing. But for me it really is, because I know this is going to work and it's picking up steam.

FOREMAN: Just like he came home from work and hasn't stopped working yet.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Richmond, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Those bikes look pretty cool, actually.

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

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.