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Rove Resigns; Mine Collapse; Iraq: The End Game; New Jersey Killings

Aired August 13, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Karl Rove, one of the most powerful presidential advisers in recent history said today he's leaving the White House at the end of this month.

To his fans, he's a political genius, an election winner. To enemies, he's a ruthless divider and a post-election failure. The president called him the architect. Others call him Bush's brain.

Just ahead, the complex man behind the hype and what his departure means.

Also ahead in this hour, in Utah, the desperate search for six trapped miners continues. A camera lowered into a mine shaft has shown no signs of life, but with no proof the miners are dead, their families are clinging to hope. We'll have the latest from the Crandall Canyon mine, and we'll talk to the mine owner.

And some new outrage over the cold-blooded murders of three college students. Why was one of the suspects, an illegal immigrant, out on bail -- that guy -- why was he out on bail while facing charges of assault and child rape? We're "Keeping them Honest."

We begin now with the August surprise that shook Washington today. At a news conference, Karl Rove, the man President Bush calls the architect, said he's returning to private life. He said it's a decision he's been thinking about since last summer.

Rove is the -- is the latest and most prominent of President Bush's inner circle of Texas advisers to quit. The two men have known each other more -- now for more than 30 years. And, when Rove spoke today, you could hear the emotion in his voice.



KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF AND SENIOR ADVISER: It's not been an easy decision. As you know from our discussions, it started last summer. It always seemed there was a better time to leave somewhere out there in the future. But now is the time.

I will miss -- deeply miss -- my work here, my colleagues, and the opportunity to serve you and our nation, Mr. President. But I look forward to continuing our friendship of 34 years, to being your fierce and committed advocate on the outside, and to the next journey we might make together.


COOPER: Karl Rove also told reporters today that he wasn't being pushed out of the White House.

The back-story, as we know it, President Bush's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, had told senior aides to decide before Labor Day if they would be staying or leaving for the duration of Bush's term, with 17 months remaining.

As for who might replace Rove, that's the question of the hour. At this point senior administration officials say Bolten is leaning towards dividing Rove's duties and farming them out to several senior staffers. They also say to expect another defection or two, though none at the level of Rove.

For better or worse, depending on who is talking, Karl Rove carved out a place in American politics that few others have.

More now from CNN's John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is, to say the least, a complicated man, a policy geek.

ROVE: If revenues for 2006 grow by 11 percent, then federal taxes will be equivalent to 18.4 percent of the economy, higher than the 40-year historical average.

KING: Yet a cut-throat political tactician.

ROVE: Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery -- savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding to our attackers.

KING: A prankster quick to initiate a snowball fight on the campaign trail in 2000 or borrow a reporter's microphone for a stand- up routine in the heat of the reelection campaign of 2004.

ROVE: The crowd has received an overwhelming -- his reform message of Social Security.

KING: Through it all, a loyal partner and alter ego to a friend who became governor and then president. To him, Karl Rove is the architect.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so I thank my friend. I will be on the road behind you here in a little bit.

KING: In 17 months to be exact, this a page-turning day that added considerable volume to talk of a lame duck White House too weak to advance any major new policy initiatives.

ROVE: Mr. President, the world's turned many times since our journey began.

KING: Their legacy includes a giant tax cut even many Republicans doubted Mr. Bush could sell so soon after winning his first term through a Supreme Court decision. But they failed to reach other big goals. Their shared ambition was a permanent Republican majority. And just after the 2004 elections, Rove sounded confident.

ROVE: Republicans have now won seven of the last 10 presidential elections. We hold 55 Senate seats, 232 House seats, and 28 governorships.

KING: But public support for their boldest initiative of all soon collapsed. And the 2006 elections were a stunning repudiation of the Bush agenda and the Rove playbook.

TOM EDSALL, AUTHOR, "BUILDING RED AMERICA": Iraq basically happened, and this was not a sellable war. The Republican Party collapsed.

KING: What Bush allies like Rove call resolve, the American people increasingly see as rigid.

BRUCE BUCHANAN, HISTORIAN: Particularly Karl Rove, who was a student of presidential history, has impressed upon President Bush the great importance of sticking to your guns as president, and not becoming someone who is perceived as easily changed by either public opinion or political opposition.

KING: From day one, Rove was the Republican Democrats loved to hate.

ROVE: I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name.

KING: Five times, he was called before the grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity, but, in the end, he was not charged. Now, Democrats want sworn testimony about his role in the firing of federal prosecutors and other administration controversies, but Rove says no and says leaving won't change anything.

He also says he's done with political consulting. But one close friend tells CNN that down the road a few months, Rove very much hopes to have a behind-the-scenes role in helping the Republicans in a 2008 campaign that also will be a big part of the Bush-Rove legacy.


COOPER: John joins us now, along with former Presidential Adviser David Gergen.

John, there's this impression Rove has a hidden hand in just about everything this administration does. How much of that is reality, and how much is just hype and myth? KING (on camera): Well, Anderson, to those who cast him as Geppetto and the president as somehow Pinocchio, that is a gross exaggeration.

Karl Rove is not in the room when the president is deciding how many troops to leave in Iraq and where to move those troops from Baghdad out to the outlying areas, et cetera. He has very little say in foreign policy, but he does have a huge say in how those policies are sold politically and how those policies are communicated.

And when it comes to domestic policy, he is the most important man in the White House. Take two signature issues on which the president failed -- reforming Social Security and reforming immigration. Those were Karl Rove's babies. And when the president's legacy is written that he tried and failed on those two issues, Karl Rove will be in the next sentence, because those were his issues.

COOPER: David, was that a mistake, though, to have Karl Rove, a man who clearly knows how to win an election, or run an election, have such an advisory whole when it actually comes to ruling and making policy?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I think history is going to ask that question several times.

Karl Rove's importance initially was that he was the political strategist to help guide George W. Bush not only to victory in Texas, but then into the -- in the nation. And he became the most significant political strategist we have had in the White House in over 60 years, in my judgment, in large part because he was not only the political electioneer, but he also, as John just said, became one of the chief architects of the domestic policy, and he had a large voice in foreign policy.

We haven't had anybody like that in a long, long time. You have to go back to Clark Clifford with Harry Truman or perhaps Louis Howe with FDR to find anybody of this much influence.

But I do think, Anderson, he had never been in government. And what he brought to governing was the mind of someone who likes to win campaigns. And you do that by smashing the opposition and winning by a bare majority. Just get -- all you have to do is get to 50 percent, plus one vote. And that's the way they tried to govern. And that I think that has come back to haunt them.

It not only alienated a huge number of Democrats, so they began to see him as a Svengali, as some sort of evil genius behind the throne, masterminding everything that was going on, but it even alienated a lot of people on the Republican side, so that, when it came to the immigration bill, the White House did not include him in the significant -- many of the significant negotiations with Capitol Hill because there were a lot of Republicans, frankly, who did not particularly want him in the room.

COOPER: John, who takes over for Rove as President Bush's chief adviser or one of? KING: No one and everyone is probably the shortest answer. You cannot replace a man who, as David said, is not only a political adviser, not only a policy adviser, but a very close personal friend of the president of the United States. You simply cannot replace that.

In terms of the politics of the White House, the new White House counselor, Ed Gillespie, is a veteran Republican strategist, a very close friend of Karl Rove, somebody Karl Rove personally recruited to come into the White House. And, more and more, we are told, the president is very comfortable with Ed Gillespie, so comfortable that Karl Rove, the last of the Texas mafia, if you will, decided it was OK for him to move on from the Bush White House.

But he is irreplaceable in the sense of the multi-roles he plays. But we know the president is more and more comfortable with Ed Gillespie, who, for example, is closely involved in a strategy in which, after General David Petraeus' report to Congress in September on Iraq, we are told to look for the president to announce major revisions to his Iraq strategy, in part because new faces like Ed Gillespie have said Mr. President, I know you think you're right, but the political reality is, it's not just the Democrats. We need to make changes for the Republicans, too.

COOPER: John, do they call him the Texas mafia at the White House?

KING: Some of them do. They call it that way. They would call them the old Texas hands and the close friends of the president.

But remember, when Dan Bartlett, Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales -- who is still in the administration -- when they came to town, the criticism of the president was, he had this small group of four or five Texans around him, and he wouldn't listen to anyone else. Karl Rove was the last of that group, and he will leave in two weeks.

COOPER: We have got to leave it there.

John King, David Gergen, appreciate you guys being on.

You can read more from former Presidential Adviser David Gergen about Karl Rove's legacy on the 360 blog. He wrote it up just for us today.

We appreciate it very much, David.

Just go to for David's perspective. Check it out. And you can add your comments, of course.

You know, a lot of people consider Karl Rove a political mastermind. And that certainly has been the hype surrounding him for years. But winning campaigns and being able to rule, to effectively create policy, are two different things.

So, the question is, what happened to Karl Rove and to the Bush White House? What's the reality behind the hype? "Keeping them Honest" with us tonight, we're joined by "Atlantic Monthly" Senior Editor Joshua Green. He has written a remarkable piece on Rove for the September issue.

Josh, you begin your article on Karl Rove saying his worst days in the White House may still lie ahead.

Were you surprised today by his resignation?

JOSHUA GREEN, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY": Yes, Anderson. I think everybody was surprised by his resignation today. You know, the captain usually goes down with his ship. And Rove decided otherwise this time.

COOPER: Is this his ship?

GREEN: I think, in a lot of ways, it is. Yes, David Gergen had said earlier that, I -- I think, that Rove is the single most significant adviser, at least in domestic policy, had a great hand in it, especially in the second term, and was really the architect for a lot of what Bush did.

And I think the fact that he's decided to leave now is a tacit admission that he has really failed.

COOPER: So, what went wrong? I mean, his -- his main goal was to establish a permanent Republican majority, stripping away parts of the Democratic coalition. This -- this vision of a GOP realignment never happened.

GREEN: No, it never really did. And -- and Rove made -- made a fairly classic mistake, I think. He won a very narrow majority, but he governed as though he had a large majority.

And, if you look back at history, if you look at earlier realignments -- take a look at Franklin Roosevelt, for example, in 1932. Roosevelt had huge majorities in Congress, but he governed as though he didn't. He governed in a very nonpartisan fashion. And that allowed him to build what turned out to be an enduring Democratic majority.

Karl Rove never took that lesson, and instead tried to govern as he operated in campaigns, by steamrolling his opponent. And, eventually, I think that the shortcomings to that approach became abundantly clear and are really what are driving him from the White House.

COOPER: In this article you wrote, which is incredibly well researched and very well written, you say, "The story of why an ambitious Republican president working with a Republican Congress failed to achieve most of what he set out to do finds Rove at center stage. A big paradox of Bush's presidency is that Rove, who had maybe the best purely political mind in a generation and almost limitless opportunities to apply it from the very outset, managed to steer the administration toward disaster." He -- I mean, he really steered them into this? One of the things you write about in the article is how, during Katrina, he was the guy who refused to let the president land in Louisiana, instead now that legendary shot of the president looking out of the window.

GREEN: A couple things happened here, Anderson.

Number one, Rove was very open about the fact from the very beginning of the Bush presidency that his goal was much beyond just getting Bush elected and then reelected. He wanted to come in and create, you know, a generation-long Republican majority, as his hero, William McKinley, did for Republicans back in 1896.

So, from the get-go, he had his mind on something larger than just George Bush's success. Rove's idea for how he would achieve this was to pass certain fundamental policies that he believed would steer the American polity away from the Democratic Party and toward the Republican Party, partially privatizing Social Security, creating health savings accounts, doing immigration reform.

Rove's eyeball was really on these big things all along. And I think that -- that two things happened. Number one, he didn't set the kind of groundwork that you need to set if you want to pursue those kind of tectonic changes.

Number two, I think that he began -- you know, he sort of fell prey to the classic Washington mistake of believing in your own legend. And Rove didn't realize that a lot of the wind at the back of the Republican Party came as a result of 9/11, and not necessarily because of his own brilliance.

And as we get later and later in the administration, you can see how the government was unprepared for things like Katrina.

In the example you mentioned, you know, Rove was on the plane flying down to Louisiana. And one of the -- probably the worst optical moments for the Bush administration was after the hurricane hit, Bush's decision not to land the plane and get out and empathize, which is what a president is supposed to do.

Rove was one of the ones who said, turn the plane around and go back to Washington. It was really another nail in the administration's coffin.

COOPER: Joshua Green, again, the article is in "The Atlantic." It's a great article in the September issue.

Thanks so much for being on the program.

GREEN: Good to be with you, Anderson.

COOPER: Here's the "Raw Data" on some other things you may not know about Karl Rove.

He was born in Denver, Colorado, on Christmas Day 1950. When he was 19, his parents divorced. Not long after, he learned the man he thought was his father was not. In the book "The Architect" released last year, the authors claim that Rove's stepfather was gay. Years later, Rove met his real father. His mother committed suicide in 1981. Rove's first marriage to a Houston socialite ended in divorce.

He's been married to his second wife since 1986. They have one son who attends Trinity University. That's the "Raw Data."

So, was Karl Rove's work for President Bush good or bad for America? What do you think? Send us a v-mail. It's easy. Just go to our Web site, Click on the link.

Up next, the latest on the rescue effort in Utah. New developments, new tactics, and a new look at what rescuers are facing.


COOPER (voice-over): Inside the mine where six men are trapped. New video from the rescue effort, what it shows and why a week after the search started, no one is giving up.

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: There are many, many reasons to have hope still. There are many reasons why one would believe that they still may be alive.

COOPER: Tonight, the mine owner talks to 360.

Plus, presidential hopeful Barack Obama and a new take on an old song.


COOPER: Make that strong enough to be president. That's what some have been asking. Now others want to know if he's black enough to be president.

That's "Raw Politics," when 360 continues.



COOPER (on camera): You are looking right now at new video tonight from the second hole leading into the collapsed mine in Utah. It did not reveal any sign of the six missing miners or any sign of life. But mine officials say it does offer new clues. And for the families who wait anxiously for word on the missing miners, any tidbit of information is new reason to hope.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has the latest developments.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A video camera pointing straight down, a mysterious and dramatic journey almost 1,900 feet into the earth, people above ground hoping the images it sends back will show something, anything, that might lead them to six trapped miners. And, as the camera starts scanning, rescuers hold their collective breath.

ROB MOORE, VICE PRESIDENT, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: You will see that we have a 360-degree horizontal view here. And the camera rotates around, at times focusing on certain things.

In this case here, you have belt hangers. It's the chain that you see here. And here in the back, you actually see the belt.

TUCHMAN: But the miners are nowhere to be seen.

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: I'm very disappointed to be telling you on the eighth day that we have not found six alive miners.

MOORE: It's difficult to see on here, but there is some rubble in this area. Here, we have just a typical tool bag.

TUCHMAN: The roof of the mine is intact, and there is survivable space. But listening devices have picked up nothing,

so a third hole is being drilled into the mountain to check a different area, and then maybe a fourth. All this as the work continues inside the mine to dig a horizontal passage, a job that's only about 25 percent complete.

(on camera): In a best-case scenario, in a worst-case scenario, how long do we think at this point will take the underground mining to get to something that is...

RICHARD STICKLER, MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION: Your guess is probably as good as mine. So, you can make that guess. I'm -- I'm not going to guess on timeframes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Four miners survived the cave-in. One of them is Jameson Ward, who continues to work inside the mine as part of the rescue team.

Julie Ward is his mother and knew her son was in the mine when she first heard about the disaster.

(on camera): When you heard it was a mine disaster, you must have been panicked.

JULIE WARD, MOTHER OF MINER: You don't even know panic until you almost lose one of your kids.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We saw Jameson in the mine this past Wednesday, when we were permitted to go 2,000 feet down and observe the rescue work. Family members of he and other miners say they have been told by the mine not to talk publicly for now.

(on camera): Does he feel like it could get him in trouble if he talks?

WARD: I have no comment to that. TUCHMAN (voice-over): But Julie says she can talk about what her son told her, including the fact that he had left the six trapped miners just three minutes before the cave-in, his small truck banging into a mine wall when the commotion began.

WARD: He was just barely -- just barely pulling out. And it's just a really good thing. And God bless the rest of the families. And I feel really, real bad, but thank God I got mine.

TUCHMAN: So, what does Jameson think caused the cave-in?

WARD: He told me it was a bounce.

TUCHMAN: A bounce or a mountain bump is what happens when enormous pressure from the weight above makes the coal pillars that support the mine collapse.

Catastrophic bounces are rare, but regular bounces are not. We experienced one when we were in the mine. The mine shakes. It's startling. And repeated bumps since this disaster have caused considerable rescue delays.

For days now, people have wondered whether a controversial procedure known as retreat mining, in which coal pillars are pulled down as miners exit an area, could have caused the bounce.

The mine owner says no.

MURRAY: Retreat mining had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster that happened here.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Could the retreat mining have anything to do with this, does Jameson think?

WARD: I don't even know. I don't even know. Jame just said it was a bounce.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): James is continuing his work as a rescuer, but 12 other miners have asked to leave the frontlines because the work is so dangerous and so emotionally difficult.

In the meantime, the camera goes down again, scanning the dark, any sign of life, while families watch the days tick by and cling to their last bits of hope.


COOPER: Gary, you have been there all week now. You have been in the mine. How long do you think it would actually take to get the miners out if they are found alive?

TUCHMAN: Yes, well, the rescuers, they really don't want to say just because this is so unconventional and unpredictable. But because we're not accountable to the families, this is what I will say.

It's taken at this point about seven days to finish a quarter of the job. At that rate, it could take another three weeks. But even if they double that rate, you're talking about a week and a half, and that's without any more mountain bumps. So, we're not talking about in the next day or two.

One thing I do want to tell you, Anderson, is, we think what the owner of this mine, Robert Murray, did was a very good thing in letting us down there, because without going down there, it would have been impossible for reporters to know how slow and difficult and dangerous this work is.

A lot of people have been asking me, why don't they send more workers down there and more equipment to get these guys out?

And when you get down there, and you see how small and how crowded of an area it is, you realize, if they brought more people down there, the work would suffer, because there's no room for them.

COOPER: Well, I mean, how -- how small an area were you in? What is it like down there?

TUCHMAN: I mean, there were about -- when we were down there, there were about 20 people working at one time in the very front area, as far as they could go, and you couldn't have fit another mine worker there. There just wasn't room with the equipment that you have to put there to put anymore there.

There's -- there's more than 100 who are working there over a 24- hour period. But at any time one time, it's really hard to have more than 20 or 30 in the area where all the rubble and all the coal is. You just can't fit anymore than that. And that's one of the big problems. You have a huge mountain. It's very steep, and you have tons and tons of coal between them and the six miners they so dearly want to see.

COOPER: It is such dangerous and difficult work.

Gary, appreciate your reporting.

In Gary's piece, you heard from mine owner Bob Murray. Now, since day one, he's really been the public face of this ordeal, keeping the families up to date. He meets with them at least once or twice a day, trying to explain the latest rescue efforts to reporters.

He joins us once again from Utah.

Appreciate you being with us.

What is happening right now?

MURRAY: Right now, Mr. Cooper, we're driving underground towards the miners. We have advanced now 680 feet. Conditions are getting a little bit better, and we're moving at a more rapid rate now. That would put us about one-third of the way to the miners.

However, I must say to you, Mr. Cooper, that these are the worst mining conditions that I have ever seen in my 50 years of mining. And we must advance very slowly. In fact, it's been far too slow, but we must protect the safety of the rescue workers.


MURRAY: The other thing that's happening...


COOPER: You're saying the conditions are so dreadful. We're looking at some of this video that you released today. You're seeing the water dripping from what I imagine to be the ceiling.

Describe what the conditions are like down inside the mine where you're trying to get to, where the miners are most likely.

MURRAY: The conditions are that there is still seismic activity. It has subsided a great deal, Mr. Cooper, but there is still some seismic activity.

The ribs have outbursts into the area -- into the entries. We call those outbursts. But there's many reasons to have hope that these miners are still alive.

COOPER: What gives you hope?

MURRAY: First, there's plenty of water.

Pardon me?

COOPER: I was saying, what gives you hope?

MURRAY: Oh, I have much hope because there are many voids there on all entries which would provide much air for their survival and to sustain their lives. There's water, and there's two-and-a-half to five-and-a-half feet of void space everywhere we have looked.

And so, if these miners were not killed due to the percussion of the first seismic impact, then there's still a good chance, Mr. Cooper, that they are alive. And we have every hope. And we are not going to give up until we have ascertained that with absolute certainty.

COOPER: And in the video, you -- you were describing a packet you saw or some -- some mine equipment that -- that you're pretty confident belonged to one of the missing men. What -- what did you see?

MURRAY: Yes. We saw a tool bag hanging on a post. That -- that would have been of a mechanic that was working in that vicinity.

Generally, they store them in a metal case and then take them out during their work and hang -- hang them on the post. And so we know that we have now uncovered a number of items which indicate that we're very close to where the miners were working.

You asked earlier, Mr. Cooper, about the other activity going on. We're now drilling our third very large hole from this surface eight and five-eighths inches. We just set the casing tonight. And by 10:00 tonight, we will be drilling on that third hole.

Unfortunately, while the underground mining has been on the same plan from day one -- and we have had many experts around the country give us input on our plan. The plan we devised initially is the plan we're still on. They all say it was the right one, and to stay on it.

However, when you come to the drilling, it's trial and error, Mr. Cooper. You drill a hole where you think the men are. We have put in cameras. We have put in microphones.


MURRAY: And we still haven't found them. So, now we're drilling where we think the miners may have gone next.

COOPER: Well, I know -- I know you were lucky in where you drilled the second hole. You hit the right spot, in terms of getting some images. Let's hope for this third -- third drill, third hole, you know, you get right to them.

Bob Murray, we appreciate you being on the program. Thank you very much. I know it's been a long and difficult day.


COOPER: And there are many tough days ahead.

MURRAY: Mr. Cooper, I appreciate you having me on your program. And I appreciate the interest of all Americans in our tragedy.

COOPER: Well, a lot of thoughts and a lot of prayers are out there for -- for the missing miners.

Mr. Murray, thank you.

A fund has been set up to help the families of the trapped miners. If you want to help, you can find information on CNN's Impact Your World Web site. Just go to

Joe Johns joins us right now with a quick check of other headlines in a 360 bulletin -- Joe.


We start in southwestern Missouri, where a man accused of opening fire during Sunday church services has pleaded not guilty. Police say Eiken Saimon shouted "liars, liars," as he burst into the First Congregational Church of Neosho yesterday. Three men were shot to death and five other worshipers were wounded. Saimon is also a suspect in the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, but right now, police are not connecting the two cases.

The CEO of a Chinese company that made plastic toys for Fisher Price toys has committed suicide. A Chinese newspaper says the man hanged himself at a warehouse over the weekend. Earlier this month, a million Fisher-Price toys were recalled because they were made with lead paint.

NASA engineers are still trying to find out what to do about a gouge in the belly of the shuttle Endeavour. New imaging shows just how deep the damage is, but engineers want to run more tests and simulations before deciding what to do. Meanwhile, astronauts successfully replace an exterior gyroscope aboard the International Space Station today.

And sunbathers on Pensacola Beach in Florida got an unexpected water show over the weekend. Check out this waterspout that appeared offshore. Wow. Look at that thing. There's a naval air base out there somewhere. You wonder about low-flying planes.

COOPER: Certainly do.

JOHNS: Time now for "What Were They Thinking?"

A Texas man is suing 1-800-FLOWERS for blowing the lid off of his affair with another woman.

COOPER: You have got to be kidding.

JOHNS: Leroy Greer made his case on NBC's "Today Show" this morning. Greer says he was separated from his wife when he ordered a dozen roses for his girlfriend. He says the florist promised him none of the information would get back to his wife.

Needless to say, the wife found out after the florist sent a thank you note to his house. Yikes. The company also faxed her a copy of the receipt. Now she's apparently demanding more money in the divorce settlement, so Greer is demanding $1.5 million to cover damages and mental anguish.

In a written statement 1-800-FLOWERS said, quote, "We are not responsible for an individual's personal conduct."


JOHNS: Sounds like unforeseeability.

COOPER: Pass the buck there. Thanks.

All right, Joe, thanks.

Up next in "Raw Politics," a straw poll and another poll that shows Hillary Clinton isn't going to win any popularity contests, but can she win the election?

Plus, if you read today's "USA Today," you might have noticed their lead headline that says major attacks in Iraq are down by nearly 50 percent since the so-called surge began.

Our Michael Ware says don't believe everything you see. The real reality in Iraq, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Ah, yes. "Raw Politics." The Republican presidential field is a little smaller tonight. Not all of the candidates survived the mid-August heat in Iowa's straw poll this weekend. The results are ripe for "Raw Politics," and with that here's Joe Johns.


JOHNS: Anderson, tonight we're finding some needles in the Iowa haystack.

(voice-over): You probably already heard that one Republican is out of the race for the White House. Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, calling it quits after getting just 7 percent of the vote in the Iowa straw poll over the weekend. You might call it Thompson's last straw.

And John McCain, who called the straw poll meaningless, only got half the votes that Thompson got.

But another GOP long shot found a straw to clutch. Take a look at that guy who used to be governor of Arkansas. No, not him, the other one, the Republican. Mike Huckabee is finally getting some respect after a surprise second-place finish on a shoestring budget.

For the record, the winner was Mitt Romney, who has spent millions in Iowa.

On the Democratic side, a new twist on Sheryl Crow's sad old song.


JOHNS: Barack Obama has gotten asked if he's strong enough, tough enough, if he's experienced enough. And now inquiring minds want to know if he's black enough for African-American voters.

His wife, Michelle Obama, says she's had enough. At a Women for Obama event, she said people should cut it out.

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: What are we saying to our children? If a man like Barack Obama isn't black enough, then who is?

JOHNS: And while we're asking probing questions, who do you like the best among Democrats, and who is the most electable? CNN did a poll, and it turns out voters said they thought Hillary Clinton is the most electable, but they thought Barack Obama is the most likable.

Maybe they'll like her more after seeing this: Hillary's first TV ad of the '08 campaign.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans from all walks of life across our country may be invisible to this president, but they're not invisible to me.

JOHNS (on camera): The ad starts running in Iowa Tuesday when there will be 153 days or fewer to go before the Iowa caucuses. And that's "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.


COOPER: That's a lot of days. Joe, thanks.

Up next we take you to the war zone.


COOPER (voice-over): In Iraq there's less of this. A big drop in the number of big attacks. But should the credit go to the boost in U.S. troops? We'll get a reality check from Baghdad.

Plus, a father demands answers on the execution-style killings of his son and two others.

JAMES HARVEY, FATHER OF DASHON HARVEY: I'm hurt, no doubt, but I've got to speak out on the way I feel of this atrocity.

COOPER: The prime suspect, an illegal immigrant with a rap sheet. Why wasn't he kept behind bars or booted from the U.S.? We're "Keeping them Honest," tonight on 360.


COOPER (on camera): It has been nearly six months since the U.S. increased its troop levels in Iraq, and today U.S. military commanders said major attacks are declining. Officials said there are about half as many truck bombs and other large al Qaeda-style attacks in July as in March.

Of course, any reduction in the violence is great news, but the question is, are major attacks declining as a direct result of the so- called troop surge? That's where things get more complicated.

Joining me now is CNN's Michael Ware.

Michael, the U.S. military commander in Iraq says that large- scale al Qaeda-style attacks have declined by almost 50 percent this year, down to 70 attacks a month from a high of 130. Is this because of more boots on the ground?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the surge is a part of it. Militarily, the surge is designed to deny al Qaeda and the Shia death squads the freedom of movement they once had in Baghdad.

Are they doing that? Yes, to some degree. The surge has shown some successes.

But the real success, Anderson, is coming from something totally different, and that is coming from America cutting deals with its former enemies, principally the Ba'athist insurgents, the Sunni insurgents. It's by cutting a deal with the Ba'ath Party on the terms that the Ba'ath Party offered America four years ago and had to wait for America to be battered into submission to accept that the tide has turned against al Qaeda.

It's by unleashing the Ba'ath that the al Qaeda bombs are coming down, that the al Qaeda attacks are starting to slow down, not directly from the surge and not from the presence of U.S. troops.

What the U.S. troops are doing is giving a set of numbers, a series of data, a number of lowered attack figures that may give the military the political cover it needs in Washington. But at the end of the day, by cutting these deals the seeds are being sown for a much broader, more entrenched civil war that America will leave behind.

COOPER: Which is a long-term issue, not something which in the immediate, in the short term, is you know, is on the front burner.

WARE: Absolutely. I mean, right now the administration from President Bush on is pointing to an op-ed piece that appeared in the "New York Times" by two well-respected Brookings Institute figures, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack.

Now, they say that yes, we're critics of the war, and we're seeing now positive signs. Yet even they said that what the surge is doing, may -- is not enough to produce victory, but it may produce a level of stability both we and the Iraqi people can live with.

Think about that. What we're saying is this isn't an American win. America is not on track to win this war. Even the president is not saying that. It just might be enough for America to get out of this war and not worry about the tens of thousands who will die at the hands of American-supported Sunni militias and Iranian-supported Shia militias.

Don't forget, by supporting the Sunnis in the way that they are, the American administration right now is picking sides in the civil war.

COOPER: In terms -- they're talking about big al Qaeda-style attacks in this number reduction, in terms of the success story, what about sectarian violence? Has this escalation of troops had an impact on that?

WARE: No, not really. It's forced it to displace. It's forced it to morph and to adapt, as we always expected it will.

Now, the number of bodies tortured, mutilated, victims of sectarian death squads that are showing up on the streets of Baghdad continue to rise and fall. Right now, there's less than there used to be. But far less, that's still 20 tortured people showing up every morning.

Now, the numbers are down for a number of reasons. One is two million people have fled the country. Another two million are displaced internally in refugee camps, so there's simply fewer targets. And of those who remain in the capital and in the villages surrounding, they now must live in segregated communities, heavily defended by their own militias, be they American-backed Sunni militias or Iranian-backed Shia militias. No one lives together anymore, very, very few people. This place has been ethnically cleansed and segregated.

So deaths are down because it's much harder to kill each other until the Americans withdraw and the real battle begins.

COOPER: Complicated picture. Michael Ware, we appreciate it. Thanks, Michael.

Up next on 360, he is charged with the execution-style murder of three college students. He's also an illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet. So why was that guy out on the streets? We're "Keeping them Honest."

Plus, a new tropical threat. We're tracking Hurricane Flossie as she heads towards Hawaii tonight on 360.


COOPER: You're looking at 28-year-old Jose Carranza, in court last week. He's charged in the brutal execution-like killing of three Newark, New Jersey, college students.

Today, the undocumented worker from Peru was in a different court, facing charges in two other unrelated violent cases. One is a sexual assault case, the other aggravated assault. And his rap sheet doesn't end there.

Tonight, many people, including the victims' families, are outraged at how an illegal immigrant like this guy can slip through the cracks.

CNN's Jason Carroll tonight is "Keeping them Honest".


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds line the sidewalks, some hugging. Others stood and cried. Three funerals for three college students gunned down, execution-style, last Saturday night.

Not just a day of grief for Dashon Harvey's father. It was also one of anger, anger he still feels.

JAMES HARVEY, VICTIM'S FATHER: I'm hurt, no doubt, but I've got to speak out on the way I feel.

CARROLL: One of the suspects in his son's death is Jose Carranza. He's pleaded not guilty to the charges.

What makes James Harvey so mad is Carranza is an illegal immigrant from Peru with a rap sheet, out on bail. He was arrested three times since last October, facing charges from assault to raping a 6-year-old girl. He was released each time, and twice his bail was reduced.

James Harvey believes Carranza thought laws didn't apply to him.

HARVEY: Why would you do such a thing, needlessly, senselessly? Because you can, because you're not -- you're not governed by our laws. If you're not governed by our laws and you don't want to live by our society rules, then you shouldn't be here.

CARROLL: In "Keeping them Honest," we wanted to know why wasn't Carranza deported or kept behind bars? A source in the Essex County prosecutor's office says they never asked Carranza's bail to be lowered.

A spokesman for New Jersey's attorney general, which oversees the prosecutor's office, says, "We are looking into the specific facts of the case." Newark's mayor says clearly the legal system did not work.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: I think everyone is frustrated. This gentleman, excuse me, this person should not have been on the streets, point plain. And mistakes, in my opinion, were made.

CARROLL: Former general counsel for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, says what didn't happen here points to a problem in the system.

VICTOR CERDA, FORMER ATTORNEY: For some reason there was no consultation coordination with ICE, Homeland Security, and as a result not only did he commit one crime, a heinous crime, but he then proceeded to commit another one.

CARROLL: A Newark councilman is proposing legislation requiring Newark law enforcement to contact federal officials as soon as an illegal immigrant is arrested. Right now that doesn't typically happen until there's a conviction. Jose Carranza was still awaiting trial.

(on camera): And so what you're basically saying is you're not quite sure who's at fault at this point.

RONALD RICE, NEWARK COUNCILMAN: Absolutely. I think we all bear some responsibility, if not at who's at fault. I think the better question is, how do we solve the problem?

CARROLL (voice-over): James Harvey isn't sure who is to blame for not keeping Carranza off the streets. He's still trying to cope with life without his son.

HARVEY: When we raise our kids to come up and become someone, a part of society in a positive light and to have, needlessly, something happen to them out of the blue.

CARROLL: For now, there simply aren't enough answers.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Newark, New Jersey.



Up next, we're tracking Hurricane Flossie. That's right, the name is Flossie. Where it's headed and what you need to know, coming up.


COOPER: Ah, "The Shot of the Day" is coming up. Meet the new world's tallest man. The facts and figures, in a moment.

First, Joe Johns joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOHNS: Anderson, we start off in Minneapolis where authorities pulled a ninth body from the Mississippi River yesterday, 11 days after the collapse of the I-35 West bridge.

Workers have also removed 44 vehicles from the scene. At least 12 other vehicles are believed to be still in the water.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Flossie on the move and heading toward the big island of Hawaii. Flossie is a big storm right now, a Category 4, with winds up to 140 miles an hour, but it is expected to weaken with winds around 75 miles an hour when it passes about 70 miles south of Hawaii tomorrow night.

In New Orleans, another tough day for a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. City Councilman Oliver Thomas has resigned after pleading guilty to taking $15,000 in bribes from a businessman five years ago.

At a news conference, Thomas apologized while fighting back tears.

Thomas could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but he's cooperating with the FBI in hopes he won't spend that much time behind bars.

And here in Washington, the pant suit case may be history. Remember the man who tried to sue a dry cleaners for $54 million in damages for losing a pair of pants? The judge ruled against the man in June.

Then the owners of the dry cleaners tried to recover legal costs from him. Well, now the owners are dropping that effort in hopes the man will drop his appeal -- Anderson.

COOPER: Man, it just keeps going on and on.

Time for the Shot of the Day. Here's the new tallest man in the world. Da-da-da-da. From the Guinness World Records, he's a veterinary surgeon from the Ukraine. He's 36 years old. He's eight feet, five and a half inches tall. That's more than eight inches taller than the previous record holder who lives in China. The vet's growth spurt started at the age of 14, apparently -- he's got a little teeny tiny cell phone there -- after brain surgery for a tumor on his pituitary gland. The tumor stimulated the overproduction of a growth hormone, which is explaining how he became a giant, apparently.

So there you go, Joe. I don't know what to say about it. Yes.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it, or some particularly tall people or whatever. That's the address. Maybe we'll put some of the clips on the air.

Up next, more on the Minnesota bridge collapse and questions about the disaster in a v-mail. That's "V" for video. And we got the answers, straight ahead.


COOPER: All right, time to check what's on the radar, on the 360 blog. We start off with v-mail. Check out this one we got about the Minnesota bridge collapse. It's claimed at least nine lives so far.

Here's Bees McKeever of Arden Hill (ph), Minnesota, just north of the Twin Cities.


BEES MCKEEVER, V-MAIL: First question is, who is responsible for inspecting the bridges? Now given that it's an interstate bridge, I'm assuming that this a federal job. I think that's what I learned today. Let me know if I'm right on that. And who is it that then pays for the repairs, you know, once something has been determined to be bad?


COOPER: Two good questions, Bees. We did some checking. In this case, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is responsible for inspecting the bridge that collapsed. As for who is going to pay for it, if it's a state bridge, the state pays for it. But when there's a major hole in the interstate system like this, the federal government steps in to pay for it. Last week, President Bush signed a bill providing $250 million for rebuilding this bridge in Minnesota. So the bottom line is, taxpayers are going to pick up the tab.

We're also getting feedback of the mine rescue effort in Utah.

Crystal writes on the blog: I am just extremely disappointed in the rescue progress in this disaster. If we can control a robot in outer space, why does it take a week (and still going) to rescue, or even find these men?

It does make you think. But mine officials say they are doing all they can.

To weigh in on a story, go to We'd love to hear from you. For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

I'll see you tomorrow night.