Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Interview With Senator John McCain; Five States Hold Presidential Primaries

Aired April 24, 2012 - 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: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast. And we begin tonight with breaking news, a big night for Mitt Romney. He moved a giant step closer to becoming the Republican nominee tonight.

Primaries were held in five states in the Northeast. CNN projects a clean sweep for Romney, winning Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York. He's not yet captured the 1,144 delegates needed to officially clinch the GOP nomination. He moved much closer though to that number tonight.

A short time ago, Romney addressed a crowd of supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire. He basically kicked off his campaign for the fall election against President Obama. The speech was titled "A Better America Begins Tonight." He pointedly called the president a disappointment and said the Obama presidency has failed. Here's more of his remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job and won't be home as often, for grandparents who can't afford the gas to visit their grandchildren anymore, for the mom and dad who never thought they'd be on food stamps, for the small-business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month, to all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I have met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer.

A better America begins tonight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after all the celebration and the parades, what do we have to show for three-and-a-half years of President Obama?

Is it easier to make ends meet?

AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: Have you saved what you needed for retirement?

AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: Are you making more at your job?

AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: Do you have a better chance to get a better job?

AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: Are you paying less at the pump?

AUDIENCE: No!

ROMNEY: You know, if the answer were yes to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his record, and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and distractions and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and at a different time, but not here and not now. It's still about the economy, and we're not stupid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, Newt Gingrich meanwhile campaigned hard in Delaware and hoped for a victory there. It was not to be. Despite not winning Delaware or any of the night's five primaries, Gingrich insisted once again he's staying in the race.

A lot to talk about. Let's bring in our panel, Republican strategist Ari Fleischer, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Paul, what did you think of Mitt Romney's speech there? He struck some pretty upbeat notes, but also hammered President Obama pretty hard.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought it was a well crafted speech. It was a well staged speech. He's had some problems in the past with his staging. It was a well delivered speech. I think it did hit the work he needed to do.

I would this. Strategically he made a big mistake. Six times at least in the speech he used some variation of the word fair. Talked about it was fair and unfair. That's very much traditionally a Democrat's turf, and if he moves this election to that terrain, then I think Governor Romney has got some problems.

I think people will look at his business record and the people he laid off while he paid himself millions and ask if that's fair. They're going to look at his proposals, cutting taxes for rich guys like him and raising taxes actually for the poorest Americans, ask if that's fair. If I were advising him, I would say, Mitt, don't go to the fairness thing.

COOPER: Ari, do you think that's a problem for him?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I guess this is one of the issues where you want to hear what you wanted to hear.

What I heard him talking about was really the economy and the problems we have had in the last three-and-a-half years. I think he's working with very fertile territory when he talks about President Obama's record, because the record for the last three-and-a-half years has been very weak on the economy, on jobs and on growth and on gas prices.

A lot of the pocketbook issues that the American people mostly care about, so I do think they're openings on every one of the categories. I think Mitt Romney hit them actually pretty well tonight.

COOPER: Gloria, we definitely heard Romney kind of reviving the Ronald Reagan idea of are you better than you were four years ago in an effective way with the crowd response.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. They all said of course, no, we're not better off than we were four years ago and I think it is a refrain you will hear over and over again.

There was also something that was interesting to me, which is he seemed to use the word character a couple of times, talking about the character of America. Saying that character matters. And he seems to be turning the support of what he calls big government, or Washington, which he would say President Obama supports, into a character issue.

So pitting Washington against what he says is his vision for America, which is freedom. I found that to be kind of interesting. Another thing that was important to me is that I think he started telling the personal narrative which we haven't heard a lot of, talking about his father growing up poor, becoming the governor of a state in which he used to sell paint out of the trunk of his car, admitting that he's a wealthy guy who made his money and sort of taking that head on, saying you might have heard that I have been successful in business with a little bit of a sense of humor that we haven't heard so much in the past.

So I thought a very good speech for him.

COOPER: Paul, I want to play another clip of something Romney said earlier about President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits, borrows what it can't take, consumes a greater and greater share of the economy. You know, with Obamacare fully installed, government would have control of almost half of the economy, and we would have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That was the only time, Paul, that he mentioned the president's health care plan. Obviously, given his own record in Massachusetts, some people might say it's an issue that is difficult for him. Do you expect what he calls Obamacare to be less of a headline and more of a footnote?

BEGALA: It's going to have to be an issue because I think the Supreme Court is going to make it one.

But it is interesting. Governor Romney, he sort -- he danced up to it. But he's singularly unable to really drive that issue the way that say Rick Santorum would have. And Senator Santorum pointed that out in the primaries. He lost, so fair is fair, but it's kind of remarkable. Actually, it's my old "CROSSFIRE" buddy Tucker Carlson who pointed this out the entire country, that in the entire country, 315 million people, there's only two who ever have signed a law imposing the individual mandate on health care and that's Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

It's kind of tough for Romney to attack Obamacare when it's based on Romney care.

COOPER: Ari, you think it is tough for him?

FLEISCHER: Well, no, because if it was tough he would have lost the primary. I think the group that it was toughest with were conservative Republicans. Obviously he was able to win among that group. He's crossed that threshold, this is that Etch A Sketch, you could say. Now he's on to the general and the reasons he's making it a working issue for him is because his statement is I will repeal Obamacare.

That is where a Republican audience and independents who don't like Obamacare are the words they first want to hear. He says them first. That's the gateway to credibility on that issue for him, even though both Paul and Tucker are right, he did sign a mandate in Massachusetts.

BORGER: I still think he's got skeptical Republicans though, Ari, on that issue. That's one of the issues that Rick Santorum's advisers tells me Santorum wants to talk to him about. Because even if you repeal Obamacare they want a promise that there will not be any mandates period allowed. They want to hear that from Mitt Romney.

COOPER: Paul, it's also been reported that former President Clinton has been urging the Obama campaign to spend less time calling Mitt Romney a flip-flopper and more time painting him as severely conservative, to use Romney's own words. Do you agree? If that is true the former president is saying that, do you agree with that strategy?

BEGALA: Well, I think in short, yes.

Not conservative. I don't think this election is going to turn on a left/right axis. But I do think there's peril for the Democrats in focusing too much on the flip-flop because I do think some of the independent moderate voters that Ari Fleischer was just talking about they might hear flip-flop and take some comfort in it.

In other words, they may just say he had to say all those crazy things about outlawing contraception -- not outlawing -- banding the funding for contraception just to get the kook right in the primaries and now he will flip-flop on that. They can take some comfort in that.

I think the Democrats ought to follow Mitt Romney's true north. From birth to today, Mitt Romney has had a true north. That is he's a product of wealth and power and privilege who's amassed a ton of it and who has used it to amassed more wealth and power and privilege for a tiny elite at the expense of the middle class.

It's not left-right, it's up-down. I would go right at the heart of the middle class. And I would frame the whole election on who can better build an economy for the middle class? You know, Thurston Howell III over there or a guy who was raised by a single mom who worked hard and went to the same schools, but got there on merit and scholarship, instead of on...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Ari, do you think that's going to play among voters? Because Governor Romney actually mentioned that tonight saying, look, I'm not going to run away from -- I'm not going to be ashamed of success.

FLEISCHER: Well, the problem with Paul's analogy is President Obama is taking America on a three-hour tour. The economy's gotten marooned.

(LAUGHTER)

FLEISCHER: I don't think that quite works. You know, what I liked in Mitt Romney's speech tonight on the issue that Paul addressed is he said that the president shouldn't criticize people for achievement, we should congratulate people for achievement in this country.

And that's right. That's what makes America great and strong. And we need that. We need to send a signal to low income people you should achieve and become middle income people, and to middle income, you should achieve and become upper middle. And upper middle, you should become rich.

That's the American success story and it should be celebrated at every step along the economic ladder. That's what I think Mitt Romney has the chance to drive home, if he is unapologetic about who he is and if he gets more comfortable with who he is.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Not at the same time. Paul, you answer, then Gloria. BEGALA: He needs to apologize for how he got rich. He is not Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs, who created a new company and provided goods and services.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But he's saying he did. He's saying he created multiple companies.

BEGALA: He's certainly not telling the whole truth.

A vast amount of the wealth was amassed by taking over companies, loading them up with debt and paying himself and his partners millions of dollars out of the debt, and crashing the company into bankruptcy, laying people off and canceling their health benefits. That is not the American dream.

He rigged in many cases -- some of his investments were quite good, good for him. In many cases he rigged the game to benefit himself in a way that even Republicans in the primaries thought was really problematic.

COOPER: Gloria?

BORGER: Paul, though, I don't think voters want to hear the class arguments at this point. I think they want somebody that they believe can fix the economy.

And some people are going to say, OK, President Obama is on the right course, you just have to give some more time and others are saying, you know what, we gave him enough time and it should have been done by now. But I don't think the class arguments really have a lot of resonance when people are suffering.

COOPER: Ari, very briefly.

FLEISCHER: Well, I was going to just say the reason that people come to private equity companies because they can't get bank loans is because they're on the verge of bankruptcy in the first place. They're usually the hard-to-work cases that can't get capital anywhere in the regular marketplace. So they go to firms like a Mitt Romney firm and either they make it or they break it.

That's the nature of these companies that typically can only get capital at those type of firms.

COOPER: Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala, Gloria Borger, interesting stuff. Thank you very much.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

Up next, remember John Edwards, clean-cut John Edwards? Two America John Edwards? Then came the affair and then the child, and now the trial. And today testimony that will surprise you, some of the things that John Edwards allegedly said about his mistress, the woman who bore a child for him, and what he said about the chances that the child was actually his, which in fact she was.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: In "Crime and punishment," day two of John Edwards' criminal trial. What a day it was. Accusation after accusation from a former Edwards aide and now the prosecution's star witness, a guy named Andrew Young.

Mr. Young started the day testifying about a phone call in 2007 from Edwards' mistress at the time, Rielle Hunter. According to Young -- quote -- "She was crying, she was distraught and needed to speak with Mr. Edwards immediately. I said somebody better be pregnant or dying. She said nobody's dying."

Young then described Edwards' response after learning that Hunter was pregnant, quoting him as saying -- quote -- "She's a crazy slut and there's a one in three chance it was his child."

Now, around the same time, the public saw obviously a very different John Edwards supporting his wife, Elizabeth, as she announced her diagnosis of incurable breast cancer. Young testified today that Elizabeth Edwards knew about her husband's cheating when they gave this news conference.

Less than a year later, February 2008, Hunter gave birth to a baby girl, but that July, Edwards was still denying the affair and the alleged cover-up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Has you or anyone affiliated with your presidential campaign provided any financial help to Rielle Hunter or Andrew Young?

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I have no idea what you're asking about. I have responded to -- consistently to these tabloid allegations by saying I don't respond to these lies. You know that. You have covered me. And I stand by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's fascinating to watch him now, realize he knew he wasn't telling the truth.

About a month later in an interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff, Edwards finally admitted he had cheated on his wife of more than 30 years, but he still lied, he still -- he flat-out denied this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB WOODWARD, ABC NEWS: I need to ask about probably the most controversial allegation, which is that a report has been published that the baby of Ms. Hunter is your baby. True?

EDWARDS: Not true. Not true. Published in a supermarket tabloid. But, no, that is absolutely not true. WOODWARD: Have you taken a paternity test?

EDWARDS: I have not. I would welcome participating in paternity test. Be happy to participate in one. I know that it is not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events. So I know it's not possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, it was possible. It wasn't until 2010 that Edwards finally admitted he was the baby's father.

But in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Hunter said that Edwards knew all along.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": You were pregnant carrying this man's child. You knew it was his child because you weren't seeing anyone else?

RIELLE HUNTER, EDWARDS MISTRESS: Wasn't seeing anyone else.

WINFREY: You knew it is his child.

HUNTER: We both knew it was his child.

(CROSSTALK)

WINFREY: He knew it was his child?

HUNTER, Yes, he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Having an affair certainly is not illegal. That's not why Edwards can face up to 30 years in prison. Prosecutors say he broke federal law by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars during his second presidential run, money he used to cover up his affair with Hunter.

Today in court, Andrew Young described how the payments worked. One of Edwards' wealthy benefactors, the heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, wrote checks to her interior designer who then signed the checks over to Young's wife who deposited them into her account under her maiden name. Young testified that money was doled out to Hunter from that account.

It's certainly complicated. The jury is going to have to decide if it was illegal. Edwards said he knew nothing about any payments made to Hunter.

I spoke earlier in Joe Johns who was in the courtroom today and to CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: I mean, just startling testimony today. You have Andrew Young saying that Edwards called Rielle Hunter who he had borne a child with a crazy slut and also lying to his wife about the affair.

The fact that he -- I mean, he comes off incredibly unsympathetically to say the least. That's not though what he's charged with. He's not charged with being a jerk.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: See, that's what makes this trial so perplexing, which is so much of it is about what a lousy guy John Edwards is. And so much of it is about what a weird and perhaps how lousy guy Andrew Young is, the star witness. But how much that relates to the actual charges against him is not clear.

Whether the jury can sort out being a bad guy and being a criminal is an open question. Maybe all this bad stuff will just convince the jury, look, we just don't like this guy and we're going to convict him.

COOPER: Because a lot of it boils down to what was in John Edwards' head. Was he intending for these wealthy donors to be giving him campaign money that he was then funneling to Rielle Hunter? Or was he getting these campaign donors to just cover Rielle Hunter's expenses?

TOOBIN: And were they doing that because he was a friend of theirs in trouble with his wife or were they doing it because he was a presidential candidate?

COOPER: Joe, you were in the courtroom today as Young testified about Edwards' alleged behavior during this affair with Rielle Hunter, the elaborate process of funneling money from Bunny Mellon and others to her. What was Edwards' reaction to Young's testimony listening to the things he was saying?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I have got to tell you, the time I have spent in that courtroom, Anderson, I sat right behind him. I really haven't seen much reaction from John Edwards at all.

He is a trained trial lawyer and he acts like one sitting there at that defense table, even though of course he's the client. He doesn't show any emotion, unless he does it for effect. So he's been pretty stone-cold silent except for an occasional smile at an appropriate time.

And that's just what you would expect from a guy who spent so much time at the defense table.

COOPER: Joe, I mean, Young testified that Edwards basically went shopping for a wealthy donor to support Rielle Hunter and that he allegedly asked Bunny Mellon because she was the one who had offered to pay for the $400 hair cuts.

JOHNS: Right. That's the way it started.

The $400 haircuts became a big dustup in the news media. And Bunny Mellon essentially reached out and said, I will pay for the $400 haircuts. You don't need to worry about that anymore. Andrew Young and John Edwards look at this and they say, well, maybe she's the person we ought to go to.

And interestingly enough in the courtroom, the testimony was that Bunny Mellon essentially was not told the purpose for which this was going to be used. She was actually told, Andrew Young said, that it would be a non-campaign function, but nonetheless he also suggested it really was a campaign function in order to keep John Edwards as a viable candidate.

TOOBIN: If I could just add one bizarre thing from the testimony today, you just sort of -- Edwards is at once this very savvy player and you just think delusional, because at one point he says to Young, according to Young's testimony, well, you know, I can't know about this because I still think I'm going to be sworn in as attorney general.

He thinks he's still going to be attorney general while all this stuff swirling around?

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: That actually is in the book "Game Change" as well, that he still believed like he might have a role at the convention, that he might still be able to speak, that he might be up for the attorney general's spot.

Young is also testifying that repeatedly a number of times he was concerned about the legality of this and actually asked Edwards about it, and Edwards assured him that he'd looked into it and this was all legal.

TOOBIN: Which it's not clear how that cuts because it's not clear whether Edwards will acknowledge that he ever did look into it because at one point, and certainly in his public statements, Edwards had said it never even occurred to me that this might be illegal.

But at the same time, Edwards is quoted by Young saying I have looked into it and it's legal. It's just one of the many contradictions between Edwards' versions of the story and Young's. And when cross-examination starts tomorrow, we will start to see which one the jury will believe.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Joe Johns, thanks. We will be watching.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Let me know what you think on Twitter, if you think John Edwards is guilty of these federal violations.

A lot more happening tonight. The U.N. as much as admitting it's being played in Syria. The killing stops when U.N. observers go in and then starts up again when they leave. I will talk to Senator John McCain who wants more U.S. action to stop the slaughter. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" now.

A new reason why night after night we keep bringing you images of the killing in Syria. The reason is simple, but sad. The fact is it's frankly pathetic. Our nightly video shot at great risk by ordinary Syrians may be the best way to monitor the cease-fire that Bashar al-Assad agreed to and is breaking day after day.

Today, a spokesman for the U.N. professionals, the paltry few U.N. professionals now on the ground in Syria, these observers, as much as admitted that his men are just not up to the job. He says there are credible reports -- and take note of that phrase -- credible reports that when observers like these guys in the blue body armor go into places like Homs and Hama, the killing stops.

Then when they leave, he says the killing starts up again. And the people who approach the monitors like you see here in this video to talk to them, to try to explain to them the horrors that have been inflicted upon them, those people after the monitors leave are then harassed or even killed by Syrian security forces.

In addition, today, the same spokesman said there are not enough monitors to really monitor anything. And with all due respect, you should have been watching 360 when we highlighted just that inconvenient truth last week. Only 11 observers are on the ground right now. There might one day be 300 in a country of 23 million people, 300.

It's not like Assad is even concealing his attempt for their mission. We just got this video taken on Sunday in Hama. In it you will see people telling the observers to look on a nearby rooftop. Look at the snipers, look at the snipers, they say. The camera pans up. You see what appears to be a sniper's nest and troops on a rooftop.

If those are snipers, that would be a blatant violation right in front of U.N. observers. Remember that phrase credible reports. Why did that spokesman only say credible reports? His own men saw the troops, saw they weren't supposed to be there, knew what troops on rooftops had been doing for more than a year in Syria, yet the U.N. spokesperson could not simply say what was right in front of his own team's face.

"Keeping Them Honest," that is why we show you these pictures night after night. They show what diplomats can't say and the Assad regime can only lie about. These are tanks and troops on the streets of Duma. The ones in the pickup trucks firing as they go. Assad promised to pull them out.

This is a peaceful protest. This is a peaceful protest today in Aleppo, fired on apparently by security forces. Another broken promise. The city of Homs, it is still under attack, another broken promise. The shelling there stopping just long enough for monitors to come and go and then starting up again once they have left. The opposition says at least 35 people were killed today. Hundreds have been killed now since Assad agreed to this so-called cease-fire. All across Syria, mass graves like this one over the weekend in Hama are said to be filling up.

An opposition member today in Hama told us what Kofi Annan's U.N. mission is really doing. He says it's buying Assad more time, quite literally, to kill. He sees, in his words -- quote -- "an unprecedented deployment of security forces to the north of his city. This," he said, "is Annan's gift."

U.S. senator and former presidential candidate John McCain agrees. He wants America to do more to stop the killing. I spoke to him earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Senator, at the Holocaust Memorial yesterday, President Obama said that we need to do everything we can to prevent atrocities, to stop the slaughter of innocent people by bloodthirsty regimes.

That all sounds good, but is it just rhetoric? Are we doing that in Syria?

MCCAIN: Well, Anderson, I think it's really kind of paradoxical that the president said, quote, "Remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing."

But at the same time he only talked about financial and economic sanctions against a person who, as we know, is slaughtering its citizens. And the latest, of course, being killing people who talked to the U.N. monitors. It's really sad to see the rhetoric of this administration not only not matched but making almost a joke out of the fact that we are really literally doing nothing.

COOPER: You said before you believe the U.N. has been played in Syria. As you pointed out, they have a handful of monitors on the ground. But it seems like the Assad regime is basically playing a game of cat and mouse with these monitors.

First of all, the monitors aren't going out on patrol on Fridays when most of the demonstrations take place. And when they do go on patrol, the regime stops attacking. But as soon as they leave, they attack anybody or try to attack and kill people who met with U.N. monitors. Are they doing anything in Syria, the U.N.?

MCCAIN: Not that I know of. They have now called for additional monitors. But how atrocious is it that the government allows these monitors in, people have the courage to come out and express their grievances, and then as soon as the monitors leave, they go in and slaughter people? I mean, that is such a slap in the face, a repudiation of what this U.N. action is supposed to be all about. Again, if it wasn't so serious, it would be a bad joke.

COOPER: I spoke to a Syrian activist on this program about the U.N. sending 30 observers to Syria. I just want to play you some of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty? This is stupid. We need 30 observers for one neighborhood only. The international community should send 3,000 observers and, believe me, the regime will fall the same day. The regime will be toppled the same day, because we will be rushing to the streets for demonstrations. Don't tell me you could not send us more than 30 observers. Thirty?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you have any hope that the U.N. mission can do anything in Syria?

MCCAIN: I do not. And worse than that, Anderson, it gives the people who might be helping more pause while the assurances are given by the U.N. that we ought to give this a chance, et cetera.

It would be fine to give it a chance if they weren't still killing people. In other words, after the observers left, they even go into homes and schools and pull people out and kill them. So it's really worse than doing nothing, because it is giving sort of an excuse for the international community not to step up.

Artillery, tanks, helicopters as you have shown many times on CNN are still in action. And the Syrian people are dying for a cause. And to think that somehow that -- by the way, sanctions on luxury goods will have an effect, and I'm not making that up. We have to act in a fashion of leadership of the United States of America with other countries, and the first thing we need to do is get these people some weapons so they can defend themselves.

COOPER: The White House has created something now called the Atrocities Prevention Board. And the president signed a new executive order authorizing sanctions against people who commit human rights abuses through Internet monitoring, cell-phone tracking. Is that a positive step for you?

MCCAIN: Sure. I think it's a real positive step. And I think in many areas of the world it could probably have some effect. But right now we're in a full-fledged civil war, an unfair fight, where Russian arms are flowing in and reigning on the ground against people who are literally defenseless.

Anderson, you and I know that the price of a bullet for a Kalashnikov is $4 a bullet on the black market. I have not heard that that price has gone down, have you?

COOPER: No. There's a lot of people, though, Senator, who may be sympathetic to the plight of Syrians being killed but worry about arming opposition, igniting an all-out civil war in that country and a war that spreads throughout the region.

MCCAIN: Well, I heard that same argument about Tunisia and Libya, as well, and Bosnia and Kosovo. But I think also we should point out the longer it drags out, the more likely it is that foreign fighters and radical Islamists come into the fight.

And really, these people rose up peacefully. That's a direct repudiation of al Qaeda, who believes in acts of terror. So the fundamentals of this movement have nothing to do with radical Islamist individuals. It has everything to do with people's desire to get out from under a cruel and despotic regime. Part of the Arab Spring, I might add.

COOPER: Senator McCain, appreciate your time. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Let us know what you think on Twitter right now, @AndersonCooper. What should we do in Syria? What can the U.S. do or the international community do?

We're following other stories tonight. Isha's here with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, the Secret Service reports that two more members have resigned. That means that, of the 12 members implicated in the prostitution scandal in Colombia, a total of nine have left the agency or are being forced out.

A former engineer for BP has been arrested and charged in connection with the Gulf oil spill disaster. The Justice Department identified his as Kurt Mix, he's accused of intentionally destroying evidence requested by investigators. Eleven workers were killed in the disaster.

At a hearing today at Fort Meade, Maryland, Army Private Bradley Manning requested and was granted a change in defense attorneys. Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq, many of which ended up on WikiLeaks.

And Anderson, two state troopers in New Jersey have been suspended without pay. The "Newark Star-Ledger" reports they're accused of providing an unauthorized high-speed escort for a caravan of luxury sports cars being driven to Atlantic City last month. There are reports that speeds exceeded 100 miles per hour. Other drivers on the highway complained to authorities.

And all I can say is really?

COOPER: Yes, I don't get -- why would they have done that? It's kind of odd. Very interesting.

SESAY: Your guess is as good as mine.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.

Up next, breaking news and three words that spelled death in the '90s and scared the daylights out of people ever since: Mad Cow Disease. New details about the new case discovered here in the United States. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Breaking news tonight. For the first time in six years in six years authorities in the United States have a case of Mad Cow Disease on their hands. So for the first time in six years, everyone wants to know is the food supply safe? What does this mean?

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the very latest.

Elizabeth, you just spoke to this company, the Baker Commodities. They have a plant in Hanford, California, where a cow tested positive for Mad Cow Disease. What did you learn?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's what I learned, Anderson. The way it works at this plant they only have animals there. The carcasses that are brought to the plant. And every so often, they do these random testings. So they have hundreds of carcasses. They go and they choose, let's say, about 60. And one of them turns out to have Mad Cow Disease.

And so what if they hadn't randomly found that animal? Well, that animal would have been rendered into something. It might have been soap or chemicals or something that you and I would never eat, something that wouldn't harm us, but it might have been rendered into feed for livestock or poultry.

COOPER: And what does that mean? I mean, how dangerous is that? If it had been rendered into feed that livestock had eaten and then people ate the livestock?

COHEN: Right. Here's -- here's why it should not theoretically have been a problem. There are rules. You're not supposed to take the brains of cows and turn them into animal feed. You're not supposed to take certain things, like parts of the spinal cord. And the reason for that is so that people won't get BSE. So you're not supposed to take these high-risk parts of the body and turn them into feed.

So theoretically, it wouldn't have caused a problem. But of course, there always is that worry.

COOPER: Sorry. What does BSE stands for? Bovine...

COHEN: Bovine -- BSE stands for the actual real name for the disease. We call it Mad Cow Disease, but it's actually technically BSE.

COOPER: So you can only get it through the brains and the spinal column of the animal?

COHEN: Yes. That's what they think. And that's why, for example, this animal that has BSE, it was a dairy cow. But if you drink the milk it doesn't matter. The milk is not infectious. Only the neurological parts of the animal are.

COOPER: And because this was randomly selected, it begs the question, well, how many other cows could there be that actually had it that got through? I mean, I remember these images of the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in Europe. Those horrible pictures of the cows shaking.

You saw it firsthand. You actually interviewed the first U.S. victim in 2006.

COHEN: Yes. And as hard as it is to watch these pictures of the animals, it was even harder to meet this woman. Her name was Charlene. At the time, she didn't want her last name used.

And she just laid there and moaned and moaned. It was so awful to see this. This young, beautiful woman. She lived in the United Kingdom until she was 13 years old, and she was perfectly healthy.

But then she moved to the U.S. at 13, and at 23 she started showing signs of this disease. That means that that disease had been lurking in her for at least ten years before she got sick.

And Anderson, that's one of the scariest things here, is that she didn't know she was sick. And that's pretty typical for about ten years. Some people are sick even longer or infected even longer before they realized it.

COOPER: So back then, did they not have the rules about not having the brain and the spinal cord being in the food?

COHEN: Right. Because she was living in the U.K., like, in the '80s and early '90s before a lot of these rules were enacted.

COOPER: OK. So basically, bottom line, for someone watching tonight is what? I mean, I don't want to freak people out.

COHEN: Right. Exactly. So that woman you just saw and the two other victims in this country of Mad Cow Disease, they did not contract the disease here. I can't emphasize that enough. They did not contract the disease here. They ate meat in the U.K. or in Saudi Arabia, and that's how they got infected.

There hasn't been a single person who's eaten meat from the U.S. food supply and contracted the human version of Mad Cow Disease.

And this one cow we're talking about in California, experts say that it does not pose a threat to the food supply. It never got into the food supply. It was never slaughtered and put into the food supply, and the milk, we are told, was not infectious.

COOPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate the update.

A lot more happening tonight, including this. Take a look. A teenager walking in northwest China, falling right through the pavement into a sink hole. We'll have details on how she was rescued next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Twelve members of the Secret Service have been implicated in the prostitution scandal in Colombia. The high-profile foul-up is raising questions about whether this is just an isolated incident, or whether the agency that protects the president has the culture where this kind of behavior is commonplace.

Now, if the latter is true, as Drew Griffin reports, the president's trip to Cartagena was a scandal waiting to happen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prostitution is so open here, so much part of the tourist trade, it's hard to imagine what crimes the Cartagena police could possibly find to investigate.

What's easy to imagine is just how easy the members of the U.S. security advance team got in trouble.

A night on the town, a disco filled with scantily dressed women. And hustlers seemingly at every corner, willing to connect single American men with available Colombian women.

(ON CAMERA) Where is it? Just tell me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I want to show you. I want to show you. OK?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Show you to a back alley, a corner, a private door. When a food vendor saw I wasn't interested in eating, he asked if I was interested in a girl. A chica.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A chica?

GRIFFIN (on camera): So this is what he gave me. It's -- we got this a lot here. It's just an advertisement for basically what looks like a strip club, and it's probably a whorehouse.

(voice-over) It was in this environment the dozen or so members of the Secret Service left "Two Candela (ph)" with a dozen or so working women, making their way to hotel El Caribe, where the agents were staying, and that's where the trouble began.

(on camera) The agent either didn't understand the price or was trying to rip off his female escort, leading to that now infamous scene in this hotel hallway, where the woman was trying to get her money, Colombian police were trying to negotiate a settlement, and the agent refused to open his door.

(voice-over) The woman involved, Dania Suarez, has now hired an attorney, and through statements credited to that attorney, demands she was an escort, not a prostitute. Her attorney isn't talking.

(on camera) Hola.

(voice-over) Neighbors confirm Dania Suarez lives here down this dirt alleyway in a middle-class section of Cartagena. Through the wall, they say they were stunned to see this picture in the paper was the single mother now credited with discrediting the U.S. Secret Service.

(on camera) And her neighbors say she has not been back since the news broke. They don't know where she went. Somebody came and removed suitcases from her apartment where she lived with her school- age son.

They say this woman was a model neighbor. They never really knew what she did for a living. Other than for the fact that she worked hard and she took care of her child.

(voice-over) A person who answered the phone at her attorney's number would not confirm the rumors Suarez is now trying to sell her story. Though Colombian police are not actually sure about actual crimes, they, too, have been investigating.

(on camera) Police here in Colombia have spent the last several days trying to track down every single woman that came out of that bar with a U.S. soldier or a Secret Service member, trying to find out how old they are, what their story was.

But the other half of this story is gone. All the Americans involved pulled out before police had a chance to talk to them.

(voice-over) Colombian police admit their investigation is pretty much over, because no one can seem to find any crime. With one glaring exception. Colombians, like Americans, are struggling to understand why the Secret Service, sent here to protect the president, acted so irresponsibly.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Cartagena, Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we're following other stories tonight. Isha is back with a "360 Bulletin."

SESAY: Anderson, police officers today testified about arriving at the crime scene in the trial of the man accused of killing Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. Hudson's sister testified yesterday that her estranged husband, William Balfour, had threatened to kill her family when she told him she didn't want to be with him anymore.

Dick Clark's death certificate shows he died of a heart attack the day after having prostate surgery. Clark died last Wednesday at a California hospital. He was 82.

And check out this video from northwest China. A teenage girl walking and talking on the phone fell through the pavement into a sink hole about 20 feet deep. A cab driver pulled over and jumped in to help her. Firefighters came to the scene, and they both climbed up a ladder to safety -- Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much. Coming up, three drunk guys take an unauthorized trip to Sea World and steal a penguin as a souvenir. "The RidicuList" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we're adding the case of the purloined penguin. Yes, in a true intersection of the feckless and the flightless, three drunk guys stole a penguin from Sea World in Australia.

Whereas most drunk guys just try to pick up chicks, these brainiacs got a whole penguin, marched it back to their apartment, and being in their late teens, early 20s, as well as bombed out their minds, they captured the moment on video for posterity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A penguin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe how I have a penguin in my apartment. Man, you stole a penguin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's when they woke up hung over, and realized yes, they had a penguin. By the way, there's more. While they were at Sea World, they also videotaped themselves engaging in a little DWI. That would be diving while intoxicated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there's not all they did that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm diving in there, man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still undetected by Sea World security, they swam with the dolphins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at them. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dolphins.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes. That's right, they swam with the dolphins. Might as well. I mean, you're there, right? It's nighttime, you're wasted, why not?

The thing is, now that the police have that video, it's undeniable proof that they did it on porpoise.

We had to pretape this, because do you know how many times I had to say "porpoise" correctly? Take a look.

They did it on poipose. They did it on purpose. Porpoise. I can't say it. On porpoise. On purpose. They did it on purpose. Porpoise. On porpoise. They did it on porpoise. Porpoise. I was there. I did have it. Porpoise. Porpoise. Put it back. Porpoise. On porpoise. Porpoise. Poor -- not pour, porpoise. On porpoise.

Sometimes it's not even doing this job.

Look, I don't want to encourage this kind of behavior, but you have to admit, just from a standpoint of epic drunken adventures, it kind of rivals the movie "The Hangover."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not kidding, there's a tiger in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there isn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does a tiger get in the bathroom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bro, you mind putting on some pants. I feel a little weird asking twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So getting back to the drunk guys who turned Sea World into their own private Studio 54, well, they panicked the next morning and let the penguin go in a nearby waterway. He was eventually rescued and returned to the water park, which is good, because this also happens to be a love story. Not for the drunk guys; for Dirk the penguin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dirk had another reason not to stray too far -- his partner, Peaches. While she's been somewhat coy this morning, no doubt she, too, is relieved to see him again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Dirk and Peaches, reunited and it feels so good. Dirk and Peaches, like a porn name, isn't it?

Anyway, meanwhile, the guys, well, they feel pretty bad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We aren't -- all three of us are sorry to Sea World and all the time they lost searching for Dirk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The three face -- the three face charges next month, including trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal. And they've already been unofficially convicted of being the hardest partying dudes ever on "The RidicuList."

Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.