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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama to Unveil Jobs Plan; Texas Battles Wildfires
Aired September 6, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. Breaking news tonight. We're learning details of President Obama's new jobs proposal and a working figure on the price tag.
He will lay it out Thursday night in a speech to Congress and the nation. Democratic sources telling us tonight it calls for about $300 billion in tax breaks, incentives and other spending offset by an equal amount of budget cuts.
This is being described as a make-or-break moment for the president. We will discuss it shortly along with Mitt Romney's competing plan which he unveiled today.
But, first, on the phone, chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
Well, Democratic sources who have been in discussions about the jobs plan with the White House confirm that that $300 billion figure has been the working figure for the jobs package for at least a week now. It would mean as you say $300 billion in both spending and then cuts.
The White House has said that this will be a revenue-neutral package. So that would mean that, in addition to outlining the new spending, the president will also outline some cuts on Thursday in his speech. But he would then put out a more detailed package later explaining more of those cuts when he makes his proposal to the deficit super committee.
And I should point out that of course these numbers could change between now and Thursday -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, wait. Just so I'm clear, is that $300 billion in new spending and then an equal amount of cuts? Or what is the breakdown?
YELLIN: Yes, 300 in new spending and then 300 in cuts so that you come out with a zero total in the end.
COOPER: And do we know specifics about or what could be in the package or what other specifics?
YELLIN: Right. The biggest ticket items as we understand it would be payroll tax cuts and then an extension of unemployment insurance. Those are the big dollar figures.
But I'm also given to believe by Democratic policy-makers that there's likely to be in the package some money for example for laid- off teachers, also funds to renovate dilapidated schools. Democrats see that as a quick way to employ laborers and also to help students, and then possibly even funds for first-responders.
Obviously you can see why there's political advantage to putting in monies for first-responders and teachers. Not only are you employing laid-off individuals, but it's also theoretically harder for members of Congress to vote against that, although in this political environment anything's possible, Anderson.
COOPER: So how does the president then go about selling this now?
YELLIN: Well, in addition to the speech on Thursday, in which I expect him to lay out not just the specifics, but a vision of government in which he will explain how government can help us, in his view, he will then hit the road.
And he will be giving the campaign-style speech we heard from him yesterday, hitting Congress hard and going out selling it to the American people in a very sort of rhetorically aggressive way. He is taking his case to the American people, basically hitting the campaign trail with this, Anderson.
COOPER: We're going to talk to Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and Kevin Madden, Republican Kevin Madden, who was a former spokesperson for Mitt Romney, coming up.
But we want to focus first before we go to them on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who laid out his competing jobs plan late today with a preemptive strike on the president. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will be giving a speech in a couple of days. I know what's coming. I haven't read it, but I know what's coming. I have seen version one, two, three, four, and five. They're not working.
And the reason is...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: You know, I mentioned a moment ago that we're now using smartphones, not pay phones.
President Obama's strategy is a pay phone strategy, and we're in a smartphone -- smartphone world. And so we're going to have to change. What he's doing is taking quarters and stuffing them into the pay phone and thinking -- can't figure out why it's not working.
It's not connected anymore, Mr. President. I mean, your pay phone strategy does not work in a smartphone world.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Governor Romney's plan, cutting corporate tax rates, cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains, slashing government regulations, eliminating the Affordable Health Care Act, and clamping down on what he calls China's unfair trade practices.
Now, he says it would create 11.5 million jobs over four years. "Keeping Them Honest," though, 11.5 million sounds like a lot and it's much better than the last three years.
But presidents as different as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter also managed to add about the same number of jobs over the same period of time. As for the policies Governor Romney is pushing, the Obama campaign called them -- quote -- "more tax breaks for large corporations and more tax cuts for the wealthiest, while working Americans are forced to carry a greater burden."
Rick Perry's campaign slammed Governor Romney for his jobs creation record in Massachusetts. And we did some checking on Mr. Romney's repeated claims that his private sector experience uniquely prepares him as a job creator. He says that a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Now, I don't happen to think Barack Obama is a bad guy. I just don't think he has a clue.
ROMNEY: And having never worked in the private sector, never having had a real job, it's not a surprise he doesn't know how to create a real job.
I happen to believe that if you want to create jobs, it helps to have had a job.
I understand what it takes to get business going again.
See, I spent my life in the private sector, solving real problems.
I spent most of my life outside politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy.
I spent my life in the real economy. And I mean by that, I didn't just watch jobs get created and saved. I did that myself.
Being in the private sector for 25 years therefore knowing how the economy works, why jobs come, why they go, not just watch jobs being created, but actually creating jobs.
Create jobs, create jobs, create jobs, create jobs. It's time for someone who knows how to create jobs. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that's his bottom line. His private sector experience gives him the know-how. He got specific in this FOX News debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: When I was at Bain Capital, we invested in about 100 different companies. Not all of them worked, but I am very proud of the fact that I learned about how you can be successful at enterprise, why we lose jobs, how we gain jobs, and overall in those 100 businesses we invested in tens of thousands of jobs net-net were created.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," that figure tens of thousands is vague. And when we asked the campaign for specifics to back it up, we got no reply. In addition, some of Governor Romney's investments, while running Bain, are such that putting a number on jobs created is downright impossible.
For instance, Bain and Romney invested $2 million in Staples, which today is a $24 billion company, employing 90,000 people, so should Governor Romney be credited with creating all 90,000 or just only a small fraction?
He's not saying how he came up with those figures, and we're certainly not experts in the field or so. As in any case, Governor Romney implies that investing in companies somehow makes him better attuned to creating jobs period. He says he won some and lost some, but never mentioned that in his previous line of work running a private equity firm sometimes laying people off was simply good business. Investments like Staples, notwithstanding, Bain got heavily into leveraged when Mitt Romney was running it.
In other words buying companies and trying to make the more profitable. Surely nothing illegal about and nothing unusual about it, because that's what private equity firms do. But what Governor Romney doesn't mention is that often means cutting wages, cutting pensions and cutting jobs.
Seventeen years ago when running against Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, Mitt Romney also boasted about creating jobs. Back then he didn't say tens of thousands, he only said 10,000. The senator's campaign hit back with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like Romney's creating jobs because he took every one of them away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I worked there 30 years, and I never dreamed that I would lose my job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney says he helped create 10,000 jobs. The former works at SCM in Marion, Indiana, say something else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he's creating jobs, I wish he could create some here, you know? Instead of taking them away.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, they and nearly 200 others lost their jobs shortly after being bought their company, instituted pay cuts and then layoffs. And then afterwards when workers went on strike, Bain closed the plant entirely. Now a few years later, the parent company American -- excuse me. American -- American Pad and Paper went under costing even more jobs.
Mitt Romney and Bain took a hit to their reputation but not their wallets. He and Bain investors pocketed about $100 million in that deal.
Here to talk about it, President Obama's upcoming speech on jobs, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Kevin Madden, who was Governor Romney's spokesman in the 2008 presidential campaign.
So Paul, if Romney weren't touting his private sector experience as one of his major selling points, how important what his record in the real world of business be?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think if any candidate's background in business, their professional life is important. And you're right, Mitt Romney has made it the centerpiece. He says he's an expert on jobs, and I suppose he is in the same way an undertaker is an expert on health care.
But not the way you might want. Right? He -- I'm sure you're right, he -- Staples sounds like a brilliant investment, good for him. It helped create jobs, made him rich. God bless him. But I do think you're going to hear more and more. I don't think I know. You're going to hear more and more from workers who've been laid off by Mitt Romney.
Maybe the jobs that he's created, maybe tens of thousands were in India or China which he was bashing today in his speech.
But he's got to be -- he has really set himself up here, Anderson, as somebody who I think is going to be quite vulnerable. Remember, Mike Huckabee, the last time around, the Republican who won in Iowa, won in part, I think, because he accused Mitt Romney of looking like the guy who laid you off. And a lot of people said, yes, actually, he does, Mike.
COOPER: Kevin, you were his spokesman. Are these attacks on Romney -- they're nothing new? The attacks of Romney over what he did at Bain. Do you think they're damaging still?
KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER ROMNEY ADVISER: Well, I think this comes down to world view. I think that what Governor Romney is going to go out and try and tell the many Republican primary voters, and then if he were to earn the nomination and find his way into a general elections, he would make the case that his world view of knowing the private sector, understanding the private sector, admittedly what goes right, admittedly what can go wrong in the private sector, is going to be a very important part of his -- of putting together his blueprint to help turn around the American economy. You know we can't rely on people who have just have government experience who only know about government paycheck in order to create and fix -- in order to create an economy that can get -- that can put American people back to the work and can be turned around again so that we're creating jobs.
You know ultimately this has to come down to somebody who's been around small businesses and big businesses.
COOPER: But Kevin --
MADDEN: Who's been around businesses that have succeeded and businesses that have failed in order to make sure that we are back to creating so that Americans have more of those jobs.
COOPER: But Kevin, sometimes in business what goes right for a small business is not necessarily what goes right for a private equity firm. What goes right for private equity firm is making a big return on your investment which does often mean, you know, cutting costs, laying off -- laying off workers?
MADDEN: Well, at the heart of it is the free market. I think what happens is that many of these companies like Bain Capital and I think many of the folks with private sector experience like Governor Romney and what they try to do was go in and turn around companies that either inefficient or bloated, companies that weren't producing profits, companies that weren't expanding.
And what you have to do oftentimes is make hard decisions. Sometimes those hard decisions are to make the company more efficient and sometimes that means requires some of these companies to get leaner.
That's one of the important things that we know about the private sector, but ultimately at the core of what Governor Romney tried to do and the core of many of these entrepreneurs is trying to do is that they're trying to be successful, they're trying to create jobs, they're trying to make their companies better.
And I think ultimately that's what Governor Romney, that's the kind of experience he's going to try and leverage with the American economy which is that right now we're not very efficient, right now, we're not creating jobs. How is it that we can go and use the experience, unleash the power of the American entrepreneur, create more jobs, get America back to work, because what we've seen over the last three years is that the approach of the Obama administration with more spending, more taxes, more regulation hasn't produced jobs. That is a critical world view that we're going to see --
COOPER: Paul, let me ask you about that. What do you think about -- you know, the details that are coming out now tonight about the president's address on Thursday about his jobs plan, $300 million in new spending and $300 million in cuts? BEGALA: Well, we'll have to wait and see how it's targeted and where it's target. The very fact that the president is doing it is good news. It shows that he is dialed in to the most important issue facing the country and unlike all the other candidates, I guess except -- well, Governor Perry is still in office and Congresswoman Bachmann is, Congressman Paul is.
But he can do something about it and he can do more frankly as a president than a member of Congress or a governor can. The key will be, will he be targeted on the middle class? And that's where I think he'll want to have a point of departure with Kevin's old boss Mitt Romney.
I think he would agree, it is about world view, and I think the president will say, and I think he's right, that his focus is on the heart of the middle class. He believes that's what drives the economy, that businesses need more customers.
COOPER: But Paul --
BEGALA: You get more customers by helping the middle class.
COOPER: I mean, Paul, you could argue, well, look, if the details are right that Jessica was reporting tonight, it's a revenue- neutral plan, that should be kind of music to Republicans' ears.
Do you think, though, Paul, that it's in the Republicans' best interest or that those in Congress will see it as in their best interest to get this thing passed?
BEGALA: I think it's in their best interest, but they won't see it as such and here's why. There are some. You know there's all kinds of Republicans, some truly, deeply want to help, I know they do, but there's others, I think, who frankly understand the political physics here, which is if America fails, Republicans succeed.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader, has said, his top political priority is making Barack Obama a one-term president.
COOPER: Kevin Madden, Paul Begala, guys, thanks very much.
COOPER: A reminder, we're going to bring you special coverage of President Obama's address to Congress and the nation, Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The president speaks at 7:00. Obviously, we'll be "Keeping Them Honest" at 8:00 p.m. and again at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter tonight, @AndersonCooper. I will try to tweet some tonight.
Up next, video that shows just how quickly wildfire burning in Texas and a live report from the fire lines. Images are just incredible tonight.
Later, Gadhafi officials fleeing Libya. The question is, where is their boss? Some new clues perhaps about where he may be.
COOPER: As Paul mentioned earlier there are a lot of folks hurting in Texas tonight. Massive wildfires still burning largely out of control. More than 700 homes now destroyed, thousands of people forced to flee. Four lives lost, two more today.
The largest fire near Austin has now spread across 30,000 acres. That's nearly twice the size of Manhattan here in New York. It's burned half a town, destroyed most of a state park, shows little signs of letting up. Winds are somewhat calmer than yesterday, which obviously is welcomed news, but the problem continues to be too little rain, too much fuel for these huge roaring flames.
Joining us now on the phone, someone right in the middle of it, Mary Kay Hicks from the Texas Forest Service.
Mary, when we spoke yesterday, you told us you've never seen anything like this. What has it been like today?
MARY KAY HICKS, TEXAS FOREST SERVICE: You know, it's been a little calmer today, Anderson. The wind has really died down and help us get more of a handle on what's going on out there.
You know the Texas Forest Service supports the local volunteer fire department and I guess most of them are volunteers. That means they work for free and they have left their jobs to protect their communities. But the thing about this is that they have been battling these blazes for over 290 days in a row.
COOPER: Two hundred, 90 days in a row?
HICKS: That's correct. That's almost a year. It's just -- it's hard to believe these people -- they're the heroes out there.
COOPER: I mean, how do you keep up with that kind of a pace? Because this is grueling, grueling work. I mean, you're digging, you're dragging underbrush. It's really tough.
HICKS: Well, what they do is we called support in from all over the country. We've had firefighters come in from all over the country, I think every state has come in and help us, and every 14 days we get a new bunch in. So that's saved us.
COOPER: Have you -- I know you have assessment teams going into the neighborhoods which have been scorched by fires. What are they finding?
HICKS: We do. I talked to several of the crews on the ground, and the assessments are going good, but they are walking through the subdivision, row by row, and street by street, and they are putting (INAUDIBLE) on the ground and marking off the homes that are completely gone and the homes that have just damage, and they're trying to get a handle exactly what's there.
They're finding out that, you know, they have missed some, that -- you know, that slab that used to be a shop or something really was a home. And it's devastating out there.
COOPER: And you point out that a lot of these fires, I mean, they're not started by nature.
HICKS: No. No. You know most of these fires -- all these fires are caused by people. And what's unusual is we're seeing things that start fires under normal conditions, I mean, that would not start fires under normal conditions like safety chains on trailers. They're either too long or they're not hooked up at all, and they drag along the pavement and that causes pieces of metal to break off. And then it lands in the grass along the road and it's hot enough to ignite and cause a devastating wildfire.
COOPER: I had no idea about that. That's incredible. So wait, so a chain dragging along the road --
COOPER: That can ignite a fire?
HICKS: I know. We've all seen it. And we've all done this. I mean I tried to drive on a flat because I'm thinking, I don't want to stop right here, I want to keep going, either get to the service station or get some place else. Well, normally, that wouldn't cause a grass fire, but we're seeing that. We've seen three or four of them, you know, just dragging, you know, on a rim.
HICKS: Causes that metal, causing some sparks to start the grass on fire.
COOPER: Mary Kay Hicks, appreciate your talking to us. Again, our best to you and all of the others battling the flames right now.
HICKS: Thank you.
COOPER: And those who are in harm's way.
You hear a lot about flames racing over dry land is no exaggeration. Take a look at this. You can see the fire line moving. It moved several feet in just a few seconds and the line stretches back as far as the eye can see. The pictures come from a state park southeast of Austin. Six thousand acres, almost all of it, now burned. And not far from there, dozens of families burned out.
More on that now from David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nichelle Bielinski hasn't seen her neighborhood since she left it behind in a cloud of smoke.
(On camera): You know what's waiting for you there?
NICHELLE BIELINSKI, FIRE VICTIM: Absolutely. There's nothing. I live on the street.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): I'm going with her to see if there's anything left. She's already confirmed the worst. Hers is one of 24 houses destroyed by fires in a neighborhood outside Austin, Texas. The only question is, will there be anything to salvage.
BIELINSKI: My heart is pounding. It's pounding so hard right now, because I don't know how I'm going to react when I actually see it and stand in front of it.
MATTINGLY: A short walk down the street reveals friends and neighbors burned out as well.
BIELINSKI: Katy and Brian's house.
MATTINGLY: Then the moment Nichelle Bielinski had been dreading.
BIELINSKI: And that's my house. That's my house.
MATTINGLY (on camera): Right here?
MATTINGLY: Oh, I'm sorry.
BIELINSKI: The oak trees are still there.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Trees were left standing, but the two- story house, gone. Brick walls fallen away, even the stonework around the backyard pool cracked and buckled under the heat.
BIELINSKI: It was completely smooth. Oh, my gosh. The numbers are standing.
MATTINGLY: The only piece still standing a section of brick where her front door used to be, only the house numbers are left behind.
(On camera): It's not like the Bielinskis didn't see the fire coming. They did. In fat, they were standing on this very spot watching the fire cross the highway and come over that ridge, but then when it got down into the canyon, the wind caught it and the fire was moving so fast they barely had time to get out.
They had 15 minutes to grab what they could and run for their lives, and it's a good thing they did. Because when they came back, that's all that was left of their house.
Are you all right? You're shaking.
BIELINSKI: I'm OK. I -- the luckiest person in the world, my family is safe. Now I need to check on my neighbors.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Face to face with all her possessions and a smoldering pile of ash, Nichelle finds time to count her blessing and her losses. BIELINSKI: We got ourselves out. Our passports are gone, everything is gone, we have no pictures, everything is gone. We got out with actually what we were wearing and our cars, and our family.
MATTINGLY: And for now that will have to be enough as the worst fire season in Texas history continues to rage on.
David Mattingly, CNN, Austin, Texas.
COOPER: So much loss tonight.
Up next, the manhunt for ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, it is intensifying. We'll have a live report from Tripoli.
Also tonight, a teenaged boy who liked to wear makeup and jewelry to school who was shot to death in his classroom. Police say a classmate pulled a trigger. Many people saw it, so why was there a mistrial in the case? And will the prosecutors bring the case back for a retrial? "Crime and Punishment" coming up. Dr. Drew Pinsky joins us ahead.
COOPER: Tonight, the hunt for Libya's Moammar Gadhafi is heating up, as a mass exodus of officials who were once close to the former leader sparks new questions about his whereabouts tonight. The loyalists are fleeing into neighboring Niger, and today government officials in Niger confirmed at least two military convoys have passed through their country this week.
Among the ranks the head of Libya's Revolutionary Guard, the very man responsible for Gadhafi and his family's security, but is the colonel himself with them? The State Department says no, even so, it's urging Niger to detain members of Gadhafi's regime.
CNN international correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Tripoli for us tonight. He joins me now with the latest.
Ben, two separate convoys have passed from Libya into Niger, but as far as we know Gadhafi wasn't with them, right?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, but all indications are that he was not with them, but where he is, nobody really knows. I mean, we've heard this, seen this Reuters report this evening that he's somewhere near the border of either Chad or Niger.
But you have to keep in mind that there's an effort ongoing by the National Transitional Council, the new rulers of Libya, to convince those cities and towns that are still loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to surrender, to give up, and they have sent out this message day after day that they know where Gadhafi is, that they are going to catch him soon.
And this is really part of a psychological effort to undermine the resolve of those towns and cities that are still holding out. We've heard -- I don't know how many times officials here say they know where he is, but all indications are they don't know where he is. He could be in Sirte on the coast of the Mediterranean. He could be in Sabha, the south.
We heard a lot of talk that he might be in Bani Walid, but all indications are he's not there either, so I would take all of these reports or claims by rebel officials that they know where he is or could be with a good deal of salt -- Anderson.
COOPER: What about -- what about Saif Gadhafi? Any sightings of him since he appeared outside that hotel weeks ago?
WEDEMAN: Well, he did make a couple of statements he claimed were from Tripoli. His -- the last sort of place where they believe he was, was Bani Walid, which is about 70 miles to the southeast of here. But I have spent a lot of time over the last few days outside Bani Walid, speaking to rebel commanders and officials, and they say they believe he left Bani Walid three days ago, heading south.
Well, whether that is towards Sabha, which is the deep Sahara to the south of here, about 900 kilometers, it's really hard to say. But they -- we did hear Saif al-Islam. We did hear his father say over and over again, they will not leave the country. And until we actually see them outside of Libya, I think we might want to take their word for it.
COOPER: And just briefly, have opposition forces said what they'll do with Gadhafi if and when they catch him?
WEDEMAN: Well, they say they're going to put him on trial. Whether that's in Libya or before the International Criminal Court in the Hague is not clear. This is what they say.
But I've spent a lot of time with the fighters here. And one of them made it quite clear what he would do if he found Muammar Gadhafi. He pulled out his bayonet and dragged it across his throat. And that's a very good possibility if, in the heat of battle, they come across Muammar Gadhafi. I don't think they'll be getting out the law books, Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, stay safe to you and your crew. Thanks very much, Ben.
Still ahead tonight, "Crime & Punishment." An openly gay teen shot dead in his classroom, a high school student. Why his alleged gunman could go free despite a confession.
And the 9/11 attacks ten years later. Drew Griffin takes us back to that tragic day with a Secret Service agent who suddenly found himself a potential target.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So you're basically counting down the plane coming overhead?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew there were two coming. At that point we know they're come together Washington, D.C., area but we don't know where they're coming to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In tonight's "Crime & Punishment," a teenager named Lawrence King who was gunned down in a Southern California classroom. Two dozen students and their teacher watched in horror as it happened. The gunman, who was 14 at the time, was named Brandon McInerney. He was brought to trial, but last week a judge declared a mistrial.
McInerney shot Larry King was shot in the back of the head. He was tried as an adult and faced charges on first-degree murder, use of a handgun and a hate crime. But after an eight-week trial, the jury deadlocked. Despite dozens of eyewitness accounts they were torn with seven of the 12 jurors voting for manslaughter. With no hope of a unanimous decision the judge adjourned the case on Thursday.
Now, in a moment we're going to hear from Dr. Drew Pinsky on the surprising outcome of the case and from the teacher who saw the tragedy unfold. But first Randi Kaye has an inside look at a crime that's left a community and a jury divided.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a sea of students at E.)O. Green Junior High School outside Malibu, California, this 8th grader stood out. A boy who came to school dressed like a girl. Fifteen-year-old Larry King wore jewelry and makeup, even lipstick and mascara. Most days he showed up in high-heeled boots. He asked his teachers to call him Latisha instead of Larry.
Friends say Larry was proud of who he was. These photos are from his family's web site. Larry was gay. He'd come out at age 10. Teachers and students say he frequently acted out, making clear his sexual preference. That made some students so uncomfortable they bullied him. His friend Alexis Chavez was one of the few who stuck up for him.
ALEXIS CHAVEZ, LAWRENCE KING'S FRIEND: They just mocked him. Every time he came around they ran and just painful things. They said painful things about him.
KAYE: More than two years ago, in February 2008, the bullying suddenly stopped. Not because Larry was finally accepted, but because he was dead. Murdered, police say, by a fellow student.
(on camera) That awful day began just like any other Tuesday for Larry King, in English class, along with two dozen students and his teacher. They were in the computer lab so the students could type up their papers. Larry was seated in the middle of the room. His classmate, Brandon McInerney, behind him.
When suddenly police say Brandon stood up and pulled out a gun that he'd managed to bring into school that day. They say he pointed the gun at the back of Larry's head and fired.
(voice-over) According to some accounts, Brandon dropped the gun and calmly left the classroom. Someone called 911.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Do you know where the person with the gun is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Joel, who is the victim? Is there a victim? I'm on the phone with dispatch. Larry?
KAYE: Larry was rushed to the hospital. Cops picked up Brandon within minutes, just blocks from school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over. It's over.
KAYE: The next day, Larry was pronounced brain-dead but kept alive for two days so his organs could be harvested. Brandon, who turned 14 just weeks before the shooting, is being tried as an adult, charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime, and stands to get more than 50 years in prison. But, he says, he's not guilty.
(on camera) In court, police testified that Brandon may have been bullied, too, by Larry, in fact. Larry had reportedly told people the two were dating but had broken up. And just a couple of days before the shooting, classmates say Larry had asked Brandon to be his valentine. And Brandon's friends joked the two would make gay babies together.
(voice-over) On Larry's final day, he left his makeup and high heels at home and went to school wearing his uniform, just like everyone else. It's unclear why. But if he had decided to try and blend in, he never had a chance.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, as we said, the -- a mistrial was declared last week. The local district attorney is vowing to retry Brandon as soon as possible, though this time he may face charges in a juvenile court.
Even some who sympathize with Brandon believe he should be punished, along with Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "Dr. Drew." I spoke with him earlier, along with the teacher named Dawn Boldrin, the teacher in the classroom when Larry King was killed.
COOPER: Dr. Drew, on the one hand you might say this is a simple case in the sense that both sides, the prosecutor and even the defense attorney, both agree that this -- that this boy, Brandon, shot Lawrence King to death in a classroom. But it's complicated in that it involves adolescents, it involves gender issues, questions about parenting and school supervision and family life. Were you surprised the jury couldn't reach a verdict?
DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN ANCHOR: Boy, you said a mouthful there, Anderson. I completely agree with you. That is a nice little summary of the complexity of this case. But I was surprised.
Not only was I surprised, kind of angry. I mean, it's an open and shut circumstance. A kid kills another kid. Multiple lives in the room are changed forever. A teacher has her career ruined and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and no one has to pay a price for that.
On the other hand, as you bring up, this was a child that committed this crime. This was a child that had his home-life issues. He, too, was a victim. And is he non- -- could he not be rehabilitated? I don't think we could say that. Perhaps he could become a very fine citizen. And the fact that it is a child but then tried as an adult, these issues get very, very complicated.
COOPER: Dawn, you were there in the computer lab when Larry was killed. It's obviously, I know, a difficult thing for you to describe. But you were also in the court. You also testified.
There was a lot of criticism of school administrators that they didn't know how to deal with what was going on in the school with Larry and the reaction to what he was doing. What was he like as a student? What was he doing that was getting so much attention in the school?
DAWN BOLDRIN, TEACHER: Larry was definitely acting out and causing -- he was drawing negative attention, which is pretty standard for his age group. But the way he was drawing it obviously was a little more than they were -- all the other kids were ready to deal with at that point.
COOPER: He started to dress in female clothes?
BOLDRIN: Well, he wasn't really dressing in female clothes. He was wearing makeup. He was wearing jewelry. He was still wearing a white polo shirt with blue pants.
I think what you're dealing with was the behavior. And I didn't see that behavior. It didn't happen in front of me. So I couldn't address it directly with him.
But I did address him with the way my friends had told me he's going overboard. He's doing some stuff, and the administration isn't taking care of it. You need to help us and step in where you can. And that's where I did. I took him aside and spoke with him.
COOPER: But Dr. Drew, I mean, this is obviously an extreme case. I mean, this is a horrible crime that occurred. But a lot of schools around the country are starting to have to deal with kids at a younger and younger age. This is not really a sexuality issue, as far as we know. It was more of a gender expression issue.
PINSKY: At least that's the way it's been painted. I keep hearing sort of rumors that there was maybe something about his sexuality, which is a separate issue.
COOPER: And he's a young boy, so he could have been wrestling with both, frankly. But they're separate.
PINSKY: That's right. That's absolutely right. And to protect somebody who is wrestling with coming to terms with who they are is really incumbent upon the school. And I think the school was trying to do that. It sounds like they really were.
It's just that this -- again, another complexity of this case. At what point does that become, then, problematic? What is their duty to protect the other kids, who are, by the way, just children? They're not the adults trying to help somebody come to terms with their identity. They're just other kids.
COOPER: Dawn, what do you think should happen to the other young boy involved in this, Brandon, who actually pulled the trigger?
BOLDRIN: Brandon, I believe, needs to serve his sentence. I have a hard time wrestling with he took a life. So I don't know how you ever justify a life for a life. I don't know...
COOPER: Prosecutors are saying that he -- prosecutors are alleging he was a white supremacist, that they found, you know, Nazi writings and stuff at his home. Do you buy any of that?
BOLDRIN: No. And I adamantly denied it and basically told them that was a pile of crap when I was on the stand.
COOPER: Do you think this was a hate crime?
BOLDRIN: No. Well, obviously, it was a hate crime, because he hated Larry. And unfortunately, Larry was gay. But I do not believe that Brandon would have ran out and murdered every gay person he ran into.
COOPER: Well, I mean, it's interesting, Dr. Drew, how -- how complex this really is. There's so many different issues involved.
PINSKY: Right. Let's just remember that our attitudes and our laws and our culture can result in behavior. And nowhere more so than on adolescents, who are really the barometer of our culture. And we have to pay attention to this. It's sad. And we all need to think about this very long and hard.
COOPER: Dr. Drew, appreciate your time.
Dawn Boldrin, thank you, as well.
BOLDRIN: Thank you.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: I should point out Dr. Drew is going to talk more with Dawn tomorrow night on his program, 9 Eastern on HLN.
Coming up, tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks just days away, this Sunday. Tonight meet a Secret Service agent who stayed put while the White House was evacuated that day. All he knew was that two planes were heading to Washington. His story next.
Also ahead, what could be the largest crocodile in captivity: 21 feet long, weighing more than 2,300 pounds. We'll tell you where it was spotted and how many people it took to catch it.
Plus "The RidicuList" coming up. We'll be right back.
COOPER: The anniversary of the September 11 attacks is just five days away. And even after ten years, we're hearing compelling stories from that day for the first time from people with haunting perspectives.
In the back of the 9/11 Commission report, there are more than 1,700 footnotes. Many of the footnotes are people's stories. Airline dispatchers, Air National Guard members, air traffic controllers.
One footnote is about the man you're about to meet. A Secret Service agent in Washington who stayed in the White House after it was evacuated and waited to see if a plane was going to hit. Drew Griffin has his story.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): At 9:05 a.m., American Airlines learned Flight 77 from Dulles to Los Angeles was hijacked. It was already turning around, this time heading for Washington, D.C.
Nelson Garabito, footnote 208, was the Secret Service agent in charge of protecting the White House air space. In Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney was hustled to a nearby bunker while the president was on Air Force One.
NELSON GARABITO, SECRET SERVICE: First thing I did is I picked up the phone to call my contact at the FAA. He said, "We have four planes outstanding. Two have hit the towers. And two are headed to Washington, D.C. One of them approximately 30 minutes out, one of them approximately 45 minutes out." So we knew we had some -- some time but little time.
GRIFFIN: The order came to evacuate the White House. Garabito said he could hear workers scrambling to leave. His supervisors gave him and the rest of his staff, including two civilians, the option to leave. No one did.
(on camera) So you're basically counting down the plane coming overhead? GARABITO: We knew there were two coming. At that point we don't -- we know they're coming to the Washington, D.C., area but we don't know where they're coming to.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): As the minutes, then seconds, ticked by, Garabito braced for impact.
GARABITO: As the one nearest us got closer and closer -- six minutes out, five minutes out -- we knew it was sort of over the CIA. And we thought is that where it's going? But it kept coming. And then at one point, we got under a minute, and I said, "It's about 30 seconds out."
COOPER: You can hear more of the everyday citizens who went to work on September 11, 2001 and became part of history. Watch "CNN PRESENTS: FOOTNOTES OF 9/11" tonight at 11 Eastern. It's really an interesting report from Drew.
A lot more happening tonight. Let's check in with Randi Kaye and the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, police say a gunman killed three people, wounded eight others, and shot himself at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada. The suspect, Eduardo Sencion, died two hours later. His family said he had mental issues. Investigators are looking at that as a possible motive.
An appeal hearing is set for tomorrow morning in Aruba for Gary Giordano, the man being held in connection with Robyn Gardner's disappearance. Giordano is appealing a ruling that says he can be held for 60 more days. Aruban authorities questioned him today for the eighth time since Gardner went missing
Lawyers for former Senator John Edwards have filed motions to get the charges against him thrown out. Edwards is accused of conspiracy, giving false statements, and violating campaign contribution laws relating to the scandal involving his mistress during his presidential campaign. If convicted on all counts, Edwards could get up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
Hurricane Katia is losing strength in the Atlantic Ocean. It's now a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles an hour. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Bermuda. Forecasters say Katia is expected to stay away from the United States.
And take a look at this. A record 21-foot-long saltwater crocodile is captured in the Philippines. According to reports, it took about 30 men to take control of the 2,370-pound reptile. Its new home will be a nature park -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Coming up, a cross-country road trip involving Kate Gosselin, her eight kids, a babysitter and the last slice of pizza. It's a meltdown that made it to "RidicuList" heaven.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we've got to add Kate Gosselin. On last night's episode of "Kate Plus 8" on TLC, Kate was on a cross-country R.V. trip with her eight kids. Her babysitter, Ashley, was along to help out. Everything was working out great. Well, not really great. It was a cross-country R.V. trip with eight kids, after all. But things really started to deteriorate when one very sensitive issue came up. I'm talking, of course, about pizza. Specifically, who controlled said pizza, Kate or babysitter Ashley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have all the pizza.
KATE GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: You have all the pizza?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the French fries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: This is not going to be good. You can just feel it, can't you? But let's think about this. Kate has eight kids. A standard pizza contains eight slices. If the slice-to-kid ratio is in any way tampered with, the whole lunch time balancing act goes -- well, it right to hell. Kate is just concerned about feeding her kids, after all. You know, little Kara, Mady, Alexis, Hannah, Joel, Leah, Colin, Aidan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSSELIN: Hey, Steve wants a piece of pizza right now. Hand it over!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wait a minute. Steve? Who's Steve? Stand by. Oh, Steve is Kate's bodyguard, I'm being told.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSSELIN: Hey, Steve wants a piece of pizza right now. Hand it over.
You guys can eat salads. Give him his pizza.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One piece left.
GOSSELIN: Give it to him. That was rude.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was rude?
GOSSELIN: He reserved it last night.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I'm having a hard time telling who's who. Ashley, I think, is in the van. Ashley the babysitter. Steve the bodyguard reserved it. That's right, Ashley. Kate's right. You and the kids can eat salads, after all. Because if there's one thing I know about kids -- and do I know kids -- is that they love a good salad. Middle- aged bodyguards can get pretty cranky if their routine is thrown off. You know, lunch, juice box, binky, nap.
At this point in the saga, the good news is that Steve got his slice of pizza. The bad news is, one of the kids handed it to him with their bare hands.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSSELIN: Oh, my gosh. That is disgusting!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who cares?
GOSSELIN: Who handed it to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ashley, God forbid. Sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all about him, isn't it?
GOSSELIN: Literally, you handed it to a kid to hand out without wrapping it in foil?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a big deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Maybe when Steve the bodyguard reserved the last slice of pizza in an R.V. filled with kids, he should have wrapped it in foil himself. Just thinking. Maybe written -- he should have written "Steve's pizza. Do not touch. This means you" on a piece of masking tape. That usually works. But I ask you: what about the children and what about the fries?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSSELIN: Fries, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said they were for the adults, right?
GOSSELIN: Yes. He didn't want Mady handing a piece of pizza with her dirty hands out the window. She did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, and it's such a travesty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wow! All right. It has been a long trip. And everyone's getting just a little bit snippy. All that really matters is this. Now that Steve's pizza has been sullied by the unwashed hands of a child, what is he going to eat?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want a mac and cheese?
GOSSELIN: No. He doesn't eat macaroni and cheese or salad. That's my whole point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're acting like Mady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes, Ashley, stupid Ashley, the babysitter. He doesn't eat macaroni and cheese or salad. That's the whole point. This is your job. Haven't you learned anything about the kids' mom's bodyguard's culinary peccadilloes? What are you even getting paid for?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will survive. Pizza is not a stinking big deal. I'm so sick of your dramatics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And alas with that, Ashley the babysitter packed it in. That's right. She quit.
It is a cautionary tale, really. So many lessons for all of us to learn. Wash your hands. Guard your food. And if you somehow, against all odd, find a woman who's willing to help you take eight kids on a cross-country road trip, for goodness sakes, let her divide the pizza any way she wants. Or else you'll end up topping "The RidicuList."
That's it for 3630. Thanks for watching. "CNN PRESENTS: FOOTNOTES OF 9/11" next. I'll see you tomorrow night.