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Dirty Campaigning?; President Obama's Reelection Chances

Aired January 4, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" on the campaign trail, on attack ads that let one candidate trash another while technically dodging accountability, technically, critics say, keeping their fingerprints off the knife sticking out of the other guy's back or front.

Newt Gingrich said attack ads helped Mitt Romney knock him from first place in the polls to a fourth-place finish last night in Iowa. Governor Romney squeaking to victory over Senator Santorum, Rick Santorum, and picking up Senator John McCain's endorsement today in New Hampshire, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann suspending her campaign today.

But back to the ads and also "Keeping Them Honest," how clean are Speaker Gingrich's hands or Rick Perry's or anyone else's?

We will start on the Romney-Gingrich front. In his concession speech last night from beginning to end, Gingrich praised Iowans who ignored the attack ads.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They would listen, and they really wanted to get to the truth, rather than the latest 30- second distortion.

I would not have survived in this campaign against millions and millions of dollars of negative advertising if it weren't for the thousands of volunteers who showed up and who helped us in every town and in every precinct.

And every one of us ought to remember -- it's part of what made these negative ads so shameful -- everyone of us should remember this process survives because young men and women risk their lives to allow us to do this.


COOPER: Speaker Gingrich last night. Now here's a sampling of the ads that ran all over Iowa in the last few weeks.


NARRATOR: Newt has more baggage than the airlines.

NARRATOR: Newt Gingrich supports amnesty for millions of illegals. Gingrich was fined $300,000 for ethics violations.


COOPER: Whatever you think of them, they're all missing the one thing we have come to expect from all campaign ads, the disclaimer at the end that says I'm Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, or whoever, and I approve this message. Instead, they end like this.


NARRATOR: Restore Our Future is responsible for the content of this message.


COOPER: Restore Our Future is a super PAC which supports Governor Romney. The Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case gives super PACs the power to raise unlimited amounts of money and run ads without disclosing who is behind them, sometimes until months have gone by.

But critics also say they give candidate plausible deniability.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Newt Gingrich has been complaining. We ran a clip of him earlier talking how you had former aides running your super PAC, spending a couple million attacking him. He said you should just tell them to stop the attacks against Newt Gingrich. Will you do that?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's illegal, as you probably know. Super PACs have to be entirely separate from a campaign and a candidate. I'm not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form.

SCARBOROUGH: You're not coordinating it in any way whatsoever?

ROMNEY: My goodness, if we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.


COOPER: Mitt Romney on MSNBC. Even some reports are saying that Restore Our Future was outspending the Gingrich forces more than 30-1. Governor Romney denying any coordination with it.

But "Keeping Them Honest" it's hard to deny he has connections to it. Restore Our Future's organizers say the group's mission is getting him elected president. It was spearheaded by three former Romney aides. Big Romney campaign donors are also organizing the super PAC's fund-raising. According to "The New York Times" Governor Romney "appeared before dozens of potential donors to Restore Our Future at an organizational meeting effectively blessing its work."

Go to and you wouldn't know any of that. All you will see is a generic mission statement, a link to donate and a link to the anti-Gingrich ads. None of this, by the way, is against the law for any candidate. Speaker Gingrich though isn't taking exception to the legality, only as sees it the dishonesty.


QUESTION: Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?


QUESTION: Why are you saying he's a liar?

GINGRICH: This is a man whose staff created the PAC. His millionaire friends fund the PAC. He pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC. It's baloney. He's not telling the American people the truth. It's just like his pretense that he's a conservative.


COOPER: That's Newt Gingrich, who said for months, and again last night, he wasn't going to go negative, with some exceptions.


GINGRICH: We are not going to go out and run nasty ads. We're not going to go out and run 30-second gotcha.


GINGRICH: But I do reserve the right to tell the truth. And if the truth seems negative, that may be more a comment on his record than it is on politics.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," though, just like Governor Romney, Speaker Gingrich has a super PAC right behind him.

It's called Winning Our Future and right on the home page there's a minute-long ad called "The Two Mitts" slamming Mitt Romney. A second pro-Gingrich super PAC called Strong America Now also sent out mailers in Iowa calling Governor Romney "the second most dangerous man in America."

Both Romney and Gingrich have said the super PACs should be eliminated entirely, but no one seems eager to unilaterally disarm. Every major candidate is associated with one. The one supporting Rick Perry is called Make Us Great Again. Rick Santorum's backers are called The Red, White and Blue Fund. There's a super PAC supporting President Obama of course as well, all of it now with the Supreme Court's blessing.

Let's talk about the "Raw Politics" and what's happening on the campaign trail today with our panel, Republican strategist Mary Matalin, GOP strategist and former Gingrich spokesman Rich Galen, and Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, who is currently a pollster for the Obama 2012 campaign and was back in 2008 as well.

Rich, does Newt just have a problem with the super PACs or just have a problem with hostile super PACs that have a lot more money than his super PACs do?

RICH GALEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean nobody is -- nobody can be more -- more scrapingly mean when he's after somebody than Newt Gingrich. The fact is that he tends to do it himself which hasn't helped him over the years. But he has a super PAC, and not only that but his super PAC, the spokesman for his super PAC is his longtime spokesman Rick Tyler. So everything he said about the Romney PAC is in fact true for him.

And the truth is that those of us who actually agreed with the Supreme Court decision, because the First Amendment and all that stuff. The fact is that everybody has got a chance to build their own super PAC. My guess is that it was somebody from a super PAC that called -- that called Governor Perry today.

And that was the enlightenment that he got. They said, well, raise you five million bucks.

But everybody can do this. And Newt understands that this is not the Girl Scout cookie drive. This is big-time politics. He's been engaged in this for 30 years. He knows what's involved. And he ought to just kind of let it roll off his back. The problem with Newt is he can't laugh at himself. If he can laugh at himself he'd be far better off and a far better leader.

COOPER: Mary, I know you like him. I know you respect him, as many do. Can Gingrich turn things around at this point?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he can and will, and has vowed to continue making an impact. What he has done is strange in that he's relinquished a winning strategy of being the most knowledgeable conservative for a losing strategy, which is to be the most positive candidate. One, that's not a process, not a substance issue. And Republicans want a substance.

Two, he is dramatically and directly undermining that strategy by vowing to rip off Mitt Romney's face. And three, there's no such thing, there's no -- everybody promises to do positive campaigns. Nobody ever does them because there's no such thing. Not on this planet. Not in the history of mankind. COOPER: And Mary, that's what Mitt Romney, in fact, has said publicly about Gingrich is that he basically just needs to stop complaining because whatever Mitt Romney super PACs are throwing against him, it's going to pale in comparison or equal what President Obama's super PACs are going to throw against him.

MATALIN: I will say again, it's a curious strategy but not as curious as his vowing to unleash the goddesses of fury in New Hampshire, which will be interesting to see. The Elizabethan tragedy of revenge here.


COOPER: Cornell, Rick Perry said last night that he'd be reassessing his campaign, he said he's going to go back to Texas, pray on it, think about it. A couple of hours later he says he's back in. Did he make the right call?

CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER, OBAMA 2012: Well, first of all, I think I once dated the goddess of fury.


BELCHER: But real quickly on the PAC thing, Anderson. You know I think -- I think it's important for us to understand what I think is a corrupting influence the PACs are. I mean for us, the ability for rich and powerful people, influential people, today to spend as much money as they want in any way they want. It absolutely undermines democracy because it just gives the rich and the powerful more influence and power over politics.

And I think it's going to show. When you're outspent 30-1 by rich people who you have no idea where they're from or what they're doing, absolutely it's having a corrupting influence. And I think we should -- we should remove -- we should remove this from politics.

GALEN: For unions, too, Cornell?

BELCHER: Well, for everyone.

GALEN: No --

BELCHER: You should not -- you should not be able to simply spend -- write a $1 million check and start a PAC and start attacking people.

GALEN: But that's what the unions --

BELCHER: There should be rules --

GALEN: That's what unions said. Unions have had --


BELCHER: No, no, Rich, they have not done that for decades.

GALEN: Sure they did.

BELCHER: They played under the rules that were there. The recent Supreme Court decision says --

GALEN: These are the court rules.

BELCHER: It says money is now a voice. If money is now a voice, the average voter doesn't stand a chance against the rich Wall Street guys. And they are -- GALEN: Well, I will tell you what.

BELCHER: It's already powerful enough.

GALEN: If that's the case, I want all -- I want all of the e- mails that I get from all of these candidates asking me to send, you know, $5, $10 or even $25, and let's get 50 of those a day. So somebody thinks --

COOPER: Rich, Rich, what's the rationale behind the super PAC?

BELCHER: But it's not the $5, but it's not the $5 or $10. The -- super PACs are millionaires writing million-dollar checks that help push -- peddle their influence, Rich. That's not about the average American. It is corrupting -- it is corrupting our democracy.

COOPER: Rich, what is the argument for the super PACs?

GALEN: Well, the argument for the super PACs is that a donation to a campaign, local of federal, is a First Amendment right. It is free speech. And the Supreme Court agreed that it is in fact free speech and it can't be prohibited by -- under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Let me go back to Perry for a second while I got you. I lived in Texas for most of the '90s. And this whole reassessment thing, I get that. Reassessment in Texas is a guy throwing open the doors to the saloon, sitting down at the table saying, I just sold my horse to a guy for cash money, deal. That's reassessment. Somebody gave -- somebody got him some money and he's back in.

BELCHER: Probably from a super PAC.

COOPER: We've got to take --


COOPER: We got to take a quick break.

We'll have more with Cornell and Rich and Mary. Everyone, stick around.

Up next, how Rick Santorum did what he did last night and where it takes him next. He's got strong social conservative views, some of which have stirred up a lot of controversy. You will see how he answers the critics. And we'll talk about how he plays in New Hampshire beyond.

Also, how last night hurt or help President Obama's chances in November.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. You can add us to your circles or follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.

Also later tonight, a royal mystery: a woman's body discovered at one of the queen of England's estates. Whose body is it? How did the body get there? Details coming up.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" now: with Michele Bachmann out of the race, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, still in. Rick Santorum trying to turn his near victory last night in Iowa into something more.

Ron Paul took the day off. Rick Perry is back in Texas. Governor -- excuse me -- Gingrich, Romney, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum are all campaigning in New Hampshire already, Santorum speaking this evening at a town hall in Brentwood, New Hampshire.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People have asked me repeatedly, you know, well, you know, Rick, you know, you've going to -- you've done well in Iowa, but, you know, New Hampshire is such a different place. And it's just nothing like Iowa. I said, they're all Americans. They all have the same fundamental values that our founders put in place.


COOPER: And the sweater vests are back.

There's some late news as well just in from the Santorum campaign on the tangible benefits of his Iowa performance. The short answer, money. About $1 million donated since last night according to campaign. It also means closer scrutiny of course and what those dollars are buying in terms of the candidate's viability and some of his more controversial statements.

Gary Tuchman takes a look.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Losing by just eight votes to Mitt Romney has certainly invigorated Rick Santorum.

SANTORUM: There's going to be a rematch. And we're going to -- we're going to go to New Hampshire and take -- and take him on. And you know we're going to -- we're going to run a campaign talking about my vision for this country.

TUCHMAN: But we can already tell you quite a bit about his vision for this country. Santorum, after two terms as a congressman and two terms as a U.S. senator, has established a reputation as a conservative in every sense of the word. Just this past Sunday in Iowa, Santorum was talking about entitlement programs.

SANTORUM: I don't want to make a lot of people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money. TUCHMAN: Santorum's comment came in the state where by far most of the public gay recipients are white. Although he says he was tongue-tied and didn't mean to say the word black. But he did mention the word black in another situation. It was from January of last year. Regarding comments President Obama made as a candidate on abortion, saying it was above his -- quote -- "pay grade to say when a baby is entitled to human rights."

SANTORUM: The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer, is that human life a person under the constitution. And Barack Obama says no. Well, if that person, human life, is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say no, we're going to decide who our people, and who are not people.

TUCHMAN: Santorum receives significant attention when he gave a quote to the Associated Press in 2003 about the Supreme Court and homosexuality."If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have to incest, you have the right to adultery, you have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue, yes, it does."

And he continued: "In every society the definition of marriage had not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

Santorum has said he wasn't equating homosexuality with all those other activities but was trying to make a larger point about morality.

SANTORUM: I think basically Christian teaching on the subject, that one can have desires to do things which we believe are wrong, but it's when you act out those things that is a problem. And I was simply reflecting that opinion and that belief structure that I happen to hold as a Catholic.

TUCHMAN: Santorum is a staunch supporter of Vatican policy when it comes to contraception. He said this to an evangelical blog site." One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, it's not OK. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. It's a belief that may play well with many in the far right but might be a harder sell among other conservatives."

And regarding national defense, he is certainly the antithesis of a candidate like Ron Paul. If elected as president, Santorum says he would tell the Iranians to dismantle their nuclear facilities and make them available to inspectors. And if not.

SANTORUM: We will degrade those facilities through air strikes and make it very public that we are doing that.

TUCHMAN: Many critics thought Rick Santorum's political career was over after he lost as U.S. Senate reelection in Pennsylvania by 18 percentage points. But his star is once again rising. He hopes his Iowa showing helps him broaden his reach to New Hampshire and beyond.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Back now with our political panel, Mary Matalin, Rich Galen, and Cornell Belcher.

Mary, we heard Rick Santorum talking about conventional wisdom, New Hampshire being so different than Iowa. Is it, in fact?

MATALIN: The way he expressed it, no, it's retail politicking. But he -- I think we might be over-reading what happened in Iowa. You recall on Monday we talked about -- I learned on the ground and we discussed his cresting. And indeed, that is what happened. His last numbers is 22, he came in at 25 percent, which was less than the others, not Romney's loss. So he did exceed and definitely handled the expectations game. But we don't know if he was -- if that's a real victory or the others collapsed.

And the reason Perry, this leads to why Perry reassessed, is what you've just done. Santorum alone has not been through the political meat grinder. That's just a little bit of it. I understand what he thinks because I'm a Catholic. He's not saying it well but I understand the principles. And the Republican field is going to be hard pressed to come at him that way.

But he has not been through this kind of scrutiny, which is going to put him in the same boat. And we will learn if that -- what Iowa really meant. We do not know what Iowa meant tonight which does not say he doesn't have huge assets and he does have some operations on the ground in New Hampshire, in South Carolina as well. But it's too early to make a prediction.

COOPER: Rich, it seems like, I mean, Santorum is basically hoping to be the conservative anti-Romney. I mean, that's what he's running really for. Not so much -- at least at this point a general election or being able to beat Romney or appeal to a broader spectrum. He's just trying to win the conservative mini caucus or mini primary.

GALEN: Yes, and Cornell and I disagree on this. I think that over -- that over time, both because of the organization, the planning and the fact that Romney has been through this before, and we all know how important that is, you learn the lessons of running for president, as opposed to running for Senate, running for governor.

It's a completely different deal. And as these primaries and caucuses begin to speed up, I mean, we know about the four in January, seven in February, 22 in March, nine in April, I mean, these things just keep coming and coming and coming. And we'll see whether or not, as Mary said, there is the similar arc to the others, and he begins on the downhill slope or whether this is real.

But there's no way to tell. Remember, all the others lasted about three, three and a half weeks before they collapsed. Rick Santorum is in about week one. So he's got another couple of weeks. He may do well, but what happens, for instance, if he comes in third in New Hampshire? Behind Romney and Paul.

Does that mean it's over for him and we all trot back over to Perry to see how he's doing today? I mean, it's very hard to tell where this is all going to shake out.

COOPER: Cornell --

GALEN: We do know -- we do know that Iowa is not predictive. It has never been predictive.

COOPER: Cornell, how do you see it?

BELCHER: Well, you know, I see it this way. You just laid out the case why Perry is going to stay in, quite frankly, because you do go through the meat grinder. And he's hoping that he can last in this thing long enough for it to swing back to him.

Look, I take it from Rich's old boss on this thing and why folks want to stay in it. Look, you've had the vast majority of conservatives who are the base of the Republican Party look -- take a good long look at Mitt Romney now since going back to 2007. And they -- and they continue to reject him.

Mitt Romney is sort of like the girlfriend that your parents want you to date and you roll your eyes and say, I'm never going to date that person, I'm going to look for someone who I think is cooler and who gets me. And I think that's the fundamental problem is, they're all trying to vie for who's going to be the conservative standard bearer right now. And mark my words, and by the way, I said, I came on your program two weeks ago, I think, or so and said, you know, I think Santorum's going to rise here because of the evangelical vote here.

I think if he can hold that evangelical vote, that conservative vote, he will do well. If they attack him like they attacked Newt and sort of don't allow that vote to coalesce around him, it gives Perry another chance, another opening. That's why he's staying in the race.

COOPER: Interesting.

GALEN: Cornell, do you think losing 65 -- 62-38, would that be considered in American politics a pretty significant loss?

BELCHER: I don't understand your analogy. All I know is that -- what I do know is that Romney never gets above 25 percent.

GALEN: I know. Well, my point is that that's what -- that's how -- that's what happened in Iowa four years ago in the Democratic side. Sixty-two percent of Democrats wanted someone other than Senator Barack Obama. And guess who got to hold his hand up and take the oath of office 54 weeks later?

MATALIN: But, Anderson, can I say this? It's not about numbers, and it's not about the ceiling. It's about the dynamic.

And Mitt Romney has done something he needed to do, which is to show that a perfectly and relentlessly coifed and pressed blue blood can fight. So through this process so far he showed he can take a punch, he can deliver a punch, he can rope a dope, he has great head fakes. He's got -- he knows how to get it in the arena. And that's not something that people are confident in before this exercise.

COOPER: Right.

MATALIN: So we should not look at the numbers, but look at the bigger dynamic of what Romney is able to do.

COOPER: I'm out of time.

BELCHER: But you have to look at the numbers because they don't trust him. The majority of your electorate doesn't trust him.

COOPER: Guys, I got to leave it there. Mary Matalin, Rich Galen, Cornell Belcher, thank you.

Just ahead on the program: President Obama in a key battleground state today, what he's facing there and beyond and why the election could be an uphill battle for him.

Also ahead: covering the caucuses. Got kind of odd later last night. We'll give you an up-close look in the wee hours of the morning.


COOPER: Have we all just given up? It's like...


COOPER: It's just like 1:30 and everybody is like, let's just flick it.


COOPER: Can you flick that thing?




COOPER: More "Raw Politics" tonight: As the battle for the Republican nomination moved to New Hampshire, President Obama was in Ohio blasting Republican lawmakers.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Congress refuses to act, and as a result hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them. And I'm not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve. Not with so much at stake. Not at this make-or-break moment for middle class Americans. We're not going to let that happen.


COOPER: President Obama infuriated congressional Republicans by making four recess appointments today including Richard Cordray as the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Ohio is, of course, a crucial swing state. But it's not the only tossup state in the November election.

Here's John King with a look at the battle President Obama is facing right now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Democrats, the Obama campaign, they look at this, the mixed message from Iowa last night on the Republican side, and they're celebrating. They think a fractured Republican Party helps President Obama in the long run. They think Mitt Romney is a weak front-runner.

But let's be honest. No matter how the Republican race turns out, this is going to be a tough political climate for President Obama. Here's the 2008 map. The electoral votes are a bit different this time because of the census in 2010. Some states have more, some states have less. Blue Obama, red McCain. But let's remember, everyone thinks this will be a lot different. Even Iowa which voted last night viewed as a tossup state. New Hampshire is next. Obama won it last night, viewed as a tossup state.

Florida which votes fourth on the Republican side, viewed as a tossup state. So is Ohio. Most Republicans think they'll get Indiana back. Let's just give it them. It's a hypothetical. Virginia and North Carolina, two states Obama carried that were long Republican states, they will be in tossup territory this year.

So will Colorado. Nevada has the highest unemployment in the country. Let's put that in the tossup category. What does that leave you? That leaves President Obama at 247. Republicans would argue Pennsylvania is a tossup, too, maybe Wisconsin, possibly Michigan. Let's just play it conservative here. This leaves Obama short of what he needs to win re-election.

What if the Republicans take Colorado? Suppose the Republicans take Florida. Let's give, for the sake of argument, the Republicans Ohio, tough, tough. Let's see what happens. Let's -- here, let's say New Hampshire goes Republican. That's possible, if Mitt Romney's the nominee. He's from right next door, high unemployment.

So what do you get here? Let's flip a coin. I'll give Obama Virginia and the Republicans North Carolina. What do we have now? 260 to 266. Look at that.

High Latino population could offset the high unemployment. Let's give President Obama the state of Nevada: 266-266. Anderson, the state that started it all last night, Iowa. Six electoral votes. That could decide the presidency.

If the Republicans win, they could win. President Obama wins it, do it that way. He could win. So yes, the Democrats like what they see on day one of the Republican race. But this will be a tough year for the incumbent regardless -- Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting. John, thanks.

The election still ten months away. A closer look at how President Obama's strategy might play out between now and then. I spoke tonight with CNN political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger.


COOPER: David, you've been talking to Democratic heavyweights. Is this exactly what they wanted to happen so far?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Yes, their fear was that Mitt Romney would come storming into Iowa, win big, and then go into New Hampshire and basically shut it down. And from that, he would not only gain strength but have this sort of glow of the winner.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And for him to come -- come out of Iowa eking out a win, it is exactly what they want, because it's probably going to be protracted now. And they've got time to just, you know, raise money, hone their message and go after the Republican front-runner.

COOPER: Gloria, there are two schools of thought, though, on how the primary impacts President Obama. Some say a long battle will leave the eventual nominee bruised, vulnerable. Others say the nominee is going to emerge stronger than ever, become a better candidate. Where do you -- where do you see it?

BORGER: Well, I -- you know, I think back to 2008. We were all saying that about the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama race and how that was going to destroy Barack Obama. She was beating up on him. It would be used in ads against Obama. Some of that may have been true.

But I'll tell you what. It made Barack Obama a better candidate for the general election, because he had been through that long primary process. And I think, for example, if Mitt Romney becomes the nominee, I guarantee you he'll be a better candidate than he is right now.

The truth is, of course, that this is a very splintered Republican Party. We knew that going in. And we know it as we go through the primary process. But, you know, in the end, the nominee will be good -- a good campaigner.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with that up to a point. And that is, I think that the nominee will be good at executing the day-to-day part of it. I think Mitt Romney has done a good job of that already.

But the difference was that Barack Obama had the capacity to capture the public imagination during the primaries.

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: The speeches he gave after each one compare Barack Obama after Iowa to Mitt Romney last night. There's just no comparison. They're just in different leagues.

And yes, can Mitt Romney get a lot better? I think so. Can others get a lot better? I think so. But from his point of view, I think the earlier he unites this party, this is a real issue. It seems like there's a tribal warfare going on right.

COOPER: It does seem like there's -- seems like there's two ways the Obama White House is targeting Mitt Romney. One, calling him the flip-flop argument, calling him a flip-flopper. The other that he's tied with Wall Street, that he's out of touch with mainstream America, that he's part of the 1 percent, essentially.

But regardless of whatever strategy they choose, he is their target. They are going after him now.

GERGEN: They're betting on that he is going to be the nominee. But they're also believing that, if they can bring him down some, it does protract the race. You know, the weaker he looks, from their point of view, the harder it is to get the nomination if it doesn't stand up. Gloria, please.

BORGER: Here's the one problem, if this -- if this race really continues. And that is, what Republicans want to be talking about. And where they can really, really hurt Barack Obama, is if they start talking about the economy, the unemployment rate, the economic record, the promises Barack Obama made during the last campaign, and on and on.

If Rick Santorum does well, if Rick Perry has some kind of a comeback, we're going to be talking about a social issues agenda. We're going to be talking about who's the most conservative of them all.

Don't forget: Romney only won in our entrance polls last night 14 percent of people who self-identified as very conservative. So that conservative group in the Republican Party is really up for grabs. So the more conservative they go, and they go after those values voters, the better that is for Barack Obama. So I think where it hurts him, Republicans, is on the issue sets that they're going to be debating.

COOPER: David Gergen, Gloria Borger, thanks.


COOPER: Interesting stuff. Up close now, the live coverage of any event, just by any definition, is unpredictable. They say you can plan for every contingency, but in the end you never know exactly what might happen or not happen or how long the night might go.

Last night was certainly no exception. It was the marathon night of reporting and surprises. With a look back here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Election-night news coverage rarely goes precisely as planned.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Stand by. We're watching all of the drama unfolding. There's a lot more to still happen. We're not going away.

FOREMAN: But as the night dragged on in Iowa...

COOPER: Your mike dropped.

FOREMAN: ... this one came off the rails.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wolf, before I send it back to you and Anderson, we will do a little reverse flick. Oh, no.

BORGER: Maybe not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, are you kidding? I wanted to do my reverse flick, and it failed? Oh, hold on.

BORGER: One more try. One more try.


BLITZER: Backhanded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is -- this is -- all right. Here we go.

All right. Ready? Are you ready?


BORGER: Very good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Third time's the charm.

BLITZER: Third time's the charm. Excellent flicking.

FOREMAN: The tightness of the race, the lateness of the hour, all wore down our seasoned team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Anderson.

BLITZER: Let's go to Anderson right now. Anderson with Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Don't ask me to flick it.

COOPER: Have we all just given up? Is it like 1:30 and everybody's like -- let's just flick it!

FOREMAN: And ideas that seemed good earlier didn't any more. VELSHI: It's evident from the social media screen here that people are going to sleep.

COOPER: The social media screen? Again with the social media screen. My lord.

VELSHI: It's a picture.

COOPER: This is the third hit. I still don't understand what the hell this thing shows.

FOREMAN: It was not just the tricky technology.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I added them up a couple of times. I -- oh, man.

FOREMAN: Even basic facts proved difficult. Late-night calls to caucus workers produced clarity and hilarity.

KING: The numbers we're receiving from the state do not match the numbers we just received from the county chairwoman.

These are the final numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean the numbers don't match?

BLITZER: Well, I'll explain it to you. You go ahead and explain it.

FOREMAN: There was no explaining.

COOPER: That was the best live phone call.

You're doing a thankless job, Ali, and I appreciate it.

VELSHI: It's very clear. It's thankless. I'm here all night.

FOREMAN: It almost was all night. But it was all in a day's work for...

VELSHI: CNN After Dark.

There you go.


COOPER: CNN After Dark edition.

That's right. Welcome, baby, it's CNN After Dark.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: And a viewer actually came up with CNN After Dark handle. Thought that was very funny. Stay with CNN for complete coverage and analysis of New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary next Tuesday. Our special live coverage begins at 7 p.m. Eastern. Who knows how long it will last this time? Right here on CNN. We were on the air until 3:30 a.m. I think we were the last ones standing.

Still ahead tonight, stunning, new details about the 24-year-old suspect charged in that Los Angeles arson spree over the long weekend holiday. Why he's also under investigation in Germany for similar -- a similar crime.

Plus a dog walker discovers human remains in the queen of England's country estate. What police have learned about the body's identity.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment tonight," a judge, they set bail for a 24-year-old arson suspect at $2.8 million. His name is Harry Burkhart. He also has to surrender his German passport.

He was arrested Monday in connection with those 52 fires set over 4 days in Los Angeles. Most of the fires targeted parked cars. Some of the flames, though, spread to homes, because often the carports were right underneath the houses.

The crime spree rattled the city over the long holiday weekend, obviously. Tonight, the story's becoming more complicated and, frankly, more bizarre by the minute as new details about this guy, about the suspect and his mom emerge.

Casey Wian has the latest.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Approximately 24 hours before the worst arson spree in Los Angeles since the 1992 riots, prime suspect Harry Burkhart was behind the wheel when his mother, Dorothy, was arrested during a traffic stop.

Police say Burkhart became enraged and had to be restrained. His mother, Dorothy, an international fugitive, was wanted by German authorities on 19 counts of fraud related to rental housing and nonpayment for breast augmentation surgery. Later that day, Harry attended Dorothy's initial extradition hearing, and his tirade resumed.

THOM MROZEK, SPOKESMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, LOS ANGELES: He entered the courtroom and made quite a disturbance. There was a lot of cursing in English, words that I won't repeat here. He was detained momentarily by court security personnel.

WIAN: Authorities suspect his mother's detention may have been the motivation for what began less than 12 hours later, the first of more than 50 arson fires that terrified several Los Angeles communities over four days. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The room was full of smoke. We couldn't even breathe.

WIAN: The arson spree didn't stop until Harry Burkhart was arrested, appearing to smirk in the back seat of a patrol car early Monday morning. He was apprehended by a reserve sheriff's deputy, acting on a tip from the State Department.

An agent recognized Burkhart from this surveillance tape, released by Los Angeles police, and remembered his angry outburst in court three days earlier.

(on camera) This is one of the apartment buildings that burned during the arson spree. And over there, you can see the back window of the apartment where Harry Burkhart lived with his mother. It's not hard to imagine someone standing at that window and watching the fire burn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would someone want to hurt their neighbors, people who did nothing to offend the person?

WIAN (voice-over): In his native Germany, Burkhart is also under investigation for an arson fire there in October that gutted a house owned by his family.

(on camera) In Vancouver, British Columbia, "The Province" newspaper reports that Harry Burkhart suffers from severe anxiety, autism and several other medical conditions, according to a letter submitted by a doctor in a court case there. CNN has tried to reach the doctor without success.

(voice-over) Back in Los Angeles, investigators found fire- starting devices in the van Burkhart was driving when he was arrested. His mother, during a court hearing Tuesday, was clearly worried about Harry's whereabouts, asking, "Where is my son? He should be in the courtroom right now. My son has disappeared since yesterday. Perhaps the German Nazis know of our address."

For now, the Burkharts' address has moved from Sunset Boulevard to separate jail cells downtown, both held without bail.

The arson spree caused an estimated $3 million in damage. CNN affiliate KABC reports that, as Harry Burkhart was captured near the last of the blazes, he told officers bluntly, "I hate America."


WIAN: And that's not all. During a court hearing here in Los Angeles, that just concluded a little over an hour ago, a document by an arson investigator revealed what Harry Burkhart said during his mother's extradition hearing. And that was "F" all Americans. It was also the clearest statement yet that prosecutors believe that it was a direct motivation behind this arson spree.

He's now facing 37 counts of arson. The other -- the other blazes are still being investigated and will continue to be investigated, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Casey Wian, thanks. Just a bizarre story.

Up next, who's the young woman found dead on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth's country estate? We'll go live to London for the latest information on that.

Also ahead, what a mother is going to do to protect her baby. One young mom in Oklahoma forced to use a gun and did it with deadly accuracy.

Also, last night's marathon coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Coming up, the part that landed me on "The RidicuList."


COOPER: In England, investigators are trying to I.D. a body that was found on Queen Elizabeth's estate in Sandringham. All they know right now is that the body is a white woman, aged 15 to 23. She was found Sunday. Investigators say it could have been there -- she could have been there for up to four months.

The estate itself is some 20,000 acres, including a 600-acre park that's open to the public. CNN international anchor and royal correspondent Max Foster joins us live from London with more on the mystery.

So DNA's were done on the body, came back today inconclusive. So where does that leave the investigation?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, this is the big problem. You described the details that we've got here: a young, white female, effectively. And what they're trying to do, the police, are link that body to unresolved cases. So they're reopening all of these files, examples of women who have gone missing that haven't been found, in the area, but also nationally.

They need the DNA profile from this body in order to match them. The problem is, they're not managing to get it. The police are being quite cryptic about why they haven't got this information. They don't want to give too much information to journalists.

So they're going to carry out more extensive tests on Thursday, Anderson, hopefully to bring up a match -- a match for several women, two or three women actually, they're focusing on right now, hopefully finding a match, giving some resolve to the families of those poor women.

COOPER: So the body was found in the part of the estate that's open to the public. I guess easily accessible to the public. A lot of people go there. Any sense of how many people go there over the course of time? And why the body wasn't discovered sooner?

FOSTER: Well, no, it's a big estate. I mean, this isn't your average garden. This is 20,000 acres attached to the Sandringham main house, or actually the queen and Prince Philip are staying right now. It's a vast estate. And in order to sustain it, there are villages there. There are all sorts of businesses, so the public roads going through. So people can walk through. And this body was found by a dog walker on New Year's day.

So this is an area where the royals do wander around. But also the public have access to it. So anyone could have got to this site, this small bit of woodland where this body was found.

COOPER: Max Foster, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Following some other stories tonight. Susan Hendricks has a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.


A story in Oklahoma, an unbelievable story here. A young mother with a newborn baby is forced to make a life or death decision. As two armed men break into her home on New Year's Eve, she calls 911 for permission to shoot them.


SARAH MCKINLEY, DEFENDED BABY FROM INTRUDERS: I've got two men in my house. Is it OK to shoot if he comes in this door?

DIANE GRAHAM, 911 OPERATOR: You have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself. I can't tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby.


HENDRICKS: One intruder was shot dead. Police do call it justified. The woman's husband, sadly, died of cancer just days earlier.

Texas prison officials have suspended phone privileges for Warren Jeffs. As you may know, he's the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect who was serving a life sentence for child sexual assault. Jeffs is suspected of preaching by phone to his congregation on Christmas day. That's a violation of prison rules.

And procrastinators rejoice. You don't have to file your tax returns until April 17 this year. That's because tax day, April 15, falls on a Sunday. April 16 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

Anderson, to you.

COOPER: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" ahead at 11 p.m. Let's check in. Erin, what's up?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, of course, last night, really a stunning and amazing thing to watch happen in Iowa. Tonight, just looking at the field. We've got Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney. We went out to our strike team to find out whether they thought Rick Santorum and Ron Paul could potentially be mainstream candidates. One of the biggest bond investors this country coming out "OUTFRONT" to talk Ron Paul. That's coming up, top of the hour.

Also, baby Lisa, three months to the day of her disappearance. We're going to check in with the man who's been charged with trying to find her, spoke with her family just overnight.

Plus, Anderson, I don't know if you've heard about the Chinese government trying to pull some of the dating shows off the air there. They're immensely popular. I went to one of them, and I have to say, it was an unforgettable experience. And we're going to take everyone inside one of those dating shows. Give them -- give them our point of view.

Back to you.

COOPER: Let's do that. Erin, thanks.

Coming up, I finally get my own Weeble but still manage to fall down on "The RidicuList."


COOPER: Time for "The RidicuList." And tonight, once again, I have to add myself. Because I admit it: I may be too much of a curmudgeon to fully appreciate the latest high-tech gizmo that we used in our coverage of the Iowa caucuses last night.

In case you missed it, Wolf Blitzer was explaining how the caucuses work, and there was a high-tech visual aid that came into play.


COOPER: If only we had some new high-tech thing that had never been seen on television before.

BLITZER: Can you do something like that?

COOPER: Oh, look at this: the Weeble. Are they zapping them with a laser?

BLITZER: No, they have a telephone. They can make a call and give the results of that caucus. And you know what, it's pretty cool.

COOPER: By the way, if you missed any of this, you can see it on "The Daily Show" later with Jon Stewart. Yes, when he ruthlessly mocks you.


COOPER: So it's been since pointed out to me that they don't really look like Weebles. Weebles have the signature rounded base that allow for the wobbling that prevents the falling down. They actually look more like another classic toy, the Fisher Price little people. I stand corrected. I'm still going to call them Weebles, though, because that's what I called them last night.


COOPER: So the first caucus goers to show up -- we're calling them the early birds -- appear, and they look oddly like Weebles. They wobble, but they don't fall down.


COOPER: Sam Feist (ph) was our CNN Washington bureau chief. I guess you could say the Weebles were sort of his idea, his baby. Here's what he said today.


SAM FEIST (PH), CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: It always takes Anderson a little bit of extra time to just catch up with the times, and understand when a good thing is a good thing or a smart thing is a smart thing.


COOPER: Smart thing. That's like a smart phone, right?

All right. Listen, fine, fine. Maybe I'm not on the cutting edge of all the new gadgets that all the kids are using. Which reminds me, has anyone seen my Commodore 620 so I can type out a telegram I'm thinking of sending to Sam Feist (ph)?


FEIST (PH): In the 2008 elections, we actually wanted to use fresh ideas, new technology to try and explain to our viewers what was going on in the election. And Anderson was opposed to it. He pooh- poohed it; he blocked it. So this isn't a surprise.


COOPER: The 2008 election? Let me see. I have no idea what he might be referring to.


COOPER: We're joined now via hologram with -- by, who is live in Grant Park. Let's see if we can beam him in now.

WILL.I.AM, MUSICIAN: All of this technology, I'm being beamed to you, like in "Star Wars" and stuff?


COOPER: See, I totally rolled with the whole hologram thing, even though it wasn't really a hologram. Even last night I was quite honored to find out that I had my very own Weeble. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You know who else has just arrived in right now with all these nice people on the table right here?


BLITZER: Take a look. Let's take a look there.

COOPER: Look. I have my own little Weeble.

BLITZER: Like the tie. Nice tie.

BORGER: Very nice.


BLITZER: Gray hair. Nice -- beautiful blue eyes.


COOPER: I got a Weeble. Piers Morgan, no Weeble.

Our Washington bureau chief has a theory about my Weeble. Take a look.


FEIST (PH): You know what I think the real problem was? Anderson wasn't happy with the Weeble who played Anderson. He wasn't in good enough shape. His eyes weren't as blue as Anderson likes to think his eyes are. There were some issues there.


COOPER: My eyes are pretty darn blue. On that note, if you need me, I guess I'll just be over here playing Pong and listening to my Victrola on "The RidicuList."

That does it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts next.