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San Francisco Authorities Investigate Deadly Tiger Attack; Hunting For Votes in Iowa; 13-Year-Old Survives Plane Crash

Aired December 26, 2007 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from New York. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Iowa -- Mike Huckabee goes hunting there for game birds and caucus votes. Is he on target with either? Just a week to go until the caucuses, we will look at how he and others, Democrats and Republicans, are doing as they try to close the deal in the first contest of election '08 -- that and a whole more tonight.

First, though, horror at the zoo -- a Christmas Day rampage ends in a deadly attack by a Siberian tiger in San Francisco. One moment, the animal is in captivity, the next, on the loose. How could this have happened?

The latest now from CNN's Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seventeen-year-old Carlos Sousa was the first victim attacked and killed at the San Francisco Zoo by Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger. The teenager was mauled to death near the tiger's outdoor enclosure.

After Sousa was attacked, his friends were next. They were chased down some 300 yards by the big cat, both men, one 19, the other 23, severely mauled near a zoo cafe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can tell you that the way that this occurred was typical, as I understand it, of tiger attacks. This is a wild animal and focus on being wild. And I think it was a combination of claw and tooth attack.

ROWLANDS: San Francisco police arrived just in time to save the two men. They found Tatiana sitting next to one of her victims, who was bleeding from wounds to the head. As officers approached, the tigress attacked her victim again. Officers then yelled at the tiger, hoping to stop the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the yelling was occurring, the animal turned and now turned towards the officers. And it is at that time that they fired.

ROWLANDS: The tiger was killed by the gunfire of four officers -- the big question remaining, how did Tatiana escape her pen? The zoo, which was closed for the day, has been declared a crime scene, as detectives search for physical evidence. If the tiger didn't jump- escape from her enclosure, police say someone may have let her out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he's coming closer.

ROWLANDS: The video of the San Francisco tiger exhibit was posted on the Web site YouTube last year. It shows the enclosure that Tatiana was able to escape. Zoo officials say they don't know she could get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can tell you, it's an open exhibit. There's a 20-foot moat and an 18-foot wall.

ROWLANDS: Last year, Tatiana was involved in another attack, almost biting the arm off a zoo employee during a feeding. An investigation into that attack determined that the zoo was at fault.


KING: Ted Rowlands now joins us live.

Ted, as the investigation gets under way, any evidence of human error, the fact that someone let the tiger out?

ROWLANDS: Well, no specific evidence right now, John, but that is definitely on the table as a possibility here.

And that's why detectives went in to gather physical evidence today, fingerprints, et cetera, anything that could show how this tiger got out, because, quite frankly, a lot of people have a hard time believing it was able to get out of the enclosure by jumping. Possibly, someone let it out and then shut that door afterwards. Everything is on the table at this point, detectives trying to get to the bottom of it, a lot of work today to that end.

KING: And you mentioned a lot of work to do, Ted. And you also note in your piece, the zoo was closed at the time. Do we have any information as yet as to how many eyewitnesses there may have been to this that could help the detectives put the pieces together?

ROWLANDS: The attack happened about 5:00 Pacific time, as the zoo was closing.

They estimate there were about 200 people, tops, at the zoo at the time. It was a cold Christmas night, not a lot of people at the zoo. And the other problem that every -- that the investigators had is that, at the time, they thought there were possibly three tigers, maybe four tigers, on the loose. They didn't have a lot of time to ask questions, find eyewitness. It was bedlam, really, for the first 12 hours of this investigation.

Now they're asking the public to come forward, anyone at the zoo, contact San Francisco police. They are hoping someone will have seen something that will help them the clue to how this tiger got out.

KING: Bedlam perhaps an understatement.

Ted Rowlands on the scene -- Ted, thank you so much. And, just moments ago, Carlos Sousa's parents spoke for the first time. His parents last saw him on Christmas Eve, and had no idea he had been attacked by a tiger. Who would ever imagine such a thing?


MARILZA SOUSA, MOTHER OF CARLOS SOUSA: Shock. Shock. I cannot explain how it's...

CARLOS SOUSA, FATHER OF CARLOS SOUSA: It's hard to believe what is going on. This is something you never expect to happen.

M. SOUSA: Yes. Yes. Cannot really explain how we feel right now. It's...


C. SOUSA: Hurt.


C. SOUSA: ... hurt, very much hurt.

He left with some friends through that day. And the last time we saw him was Christmas Eve. And then I was concerned because we haven't heard from him all day from Christmas Day. So, I just found out this morning.

I will have to -- the last time I saw him, he says, I'm going to some friends' house, and he gave him a hug and a kiss and says, I love you.

The coroner called me. It was hard to believe. I had to go identify the body. It's pretty mangled up. I just wish that a lot of people don't suffer this kind of Christmas, but it's one Christmas I'm never going to forget.


KING: Hard to imagine getting a call like that.

Joining us now on the phone is the sister of Carlos Sousa, Beatris Silva.

Beatris, first, let us say how sorry we are for your loss.

Tell us a little bit how your family is doing with this terrible shock.

BEATRIS SILVA, SISTER OF CARLOS SOUSA: Well, my family is very, very hurt.

We just find out what has happened to my brother today. So, for all of us, it was a very big shock, because that actually has happened yesterday in the afternoon. And we pretty much found out today.

KING: Beatris, did you know your brother was going to the zoo on Christmas?

SILVA: No, we did not.

KING: And have zoo officials told you anything at all about what they're learning in the early stages of this investigation?

SILVA: No, they haven't said anything.

KING: And have you been able to talk to anybody who might have been with your brother at the time, his friends or anybody there who might have seen what happened?

SILVA: No, not yet.

KING: Nobody at all?

SILVA: No, not yet.

KING: Nobody at all.

Have you been to the zoo before? Any idea why your brother would be there?

SILVA: I have been to that zoo before. And my questions are only, and all my family, is how that the tiger got out, and how that that tiger jumped out, or how the heck that happened, you know, because this season is Christmas, and we know there is not much people in the zoo.

So, there's a lot of questions. There's a lot of pain. You know, as you -- no words for it, you know. It's just too much.

KING: And it's obviously in the very early stages of the investigation, but are you satisfied with the information you are getting from the zoo and from the police so far? Are they providing any information at all to the family that's helpful?

SILVA: No, not yet. They're investigating it still. So, we actually don't know much. It's just a lot of questions in front of, you know, ourselves.

We know from different news where it shows my brother getting inside of the ambulance and things like that. Now we can see him. Before, when there was just only passing the ambulance and all that stuff, we could not see him. Now we can. So -- and that's pretty much what we see on TV. And we don't know anything else.

It's just -- it's just very painful.


SILVA: The only thing that I -- that I have to say to everybody, when they go to the zoo, just be careful. Just be careful, because, you know, you never know what can happen.

For me, that take all the time my kids, for me, this is a shock. It's a lot of pain, so...

KING: Beatris, we thank you for taking some time with us tonight. And we greatly appreciate your concern for others at a time of such pain for your family. Thank you so much.

Please take care.

SILVA: OK. Bye-bye.

KING: Thank you.

More on this story when we come back -- we will hear from a zoo official now forced to take a whole new look at his exhibit.

And it's not just big cats, not just zoos -- see why just about any kind of animal is a potential tragedy waiting to happen.

Also, late developments in a murder mystery: six people found dead in a home. Now comes word of an arrest -- a lot of news tonight when 360 continues.


KING: More now on the tiger that got loose, mauling a man to death at the San Francisco Zoo -- police now treating the zoo as a crime scene. They want answers. So do a lot of people.

With me now, wildlife expert Ron Magill. He's the communications director for the Miami Metrozoo.

Ron, this investigation in its early stages, but one of the concerns is that the tiger might have escaped from this exhibit. The exhibit has an 18-foot wall, then a 20-foot moat. Do you think there's any way a tiger could escape from that?

RON MAGILL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MIAMI METROZOO: It's hard to say. I haven't seen the exhibit. I don't know the depth of the moat. I don't know the type of wall. So, therefore, I can't really comment on that.

I can tell you that a lot of us in zoos around the country are awaiting the outcome of this investigation, because if in fact this tiger -- this tigress has redefined the physical limitations of tigers, a lot of exhibits may be concerned about that throughout the country.

But the -- the bottom line is, we have to wait for the investigation. We -- there's so much hearsay, so much speculation. The investigation will really give us the facts.

KING: You raise an interesting point. You say you haven't seen this. What type of enclosures do you use there? And I assume they're pretty similar all around the country. I assume there are standards that are in place at zoos pretty much across the United States.

MAGILL: Absolutely. There are local, state and federal standards that are set. And all accredited zoos throughout the country, all accredited zoos by the AZA, have to surpass those standards.

We here at Metrozoo, we have approximately a 30-foot moat across that separates the tiger from our -- from our visitors. It's been an effective way to exhibit these animals. For over 25 years here, we have never had a problem. But, again, every exhibit is a little bit different, though there are federal guidelines that are exceeded by all those accredited zoos.

KING: And, as you sit there today, do you have concerns, and should other zoos across the country have concerns that those standards might not be up to speed?

MAGILL: Well, I'm not going to say it's impossible.

I mean, it's certainly something we have to look at. We shouldn't -- we certainly shouldn't be shortsighted to think, oh, no, it's got to be something else. We have to keep -- we have to keep an open mind and look at this. And that's what the importance of this investigation is. That's why we're all waiting for the outcome, because if in fact this tigress has redefined her physical limitations, maybe we underestimated a tiger. But we have to wait for the investigation.

KING: Now, this is the tiger -- this is the -- and, as we do wait, this is a tiger that attacked a zookeeper last year, resulting in that zookeeper losing her arm.

Should the zoo have taken any extra precautions, given this tiger's history?

MAGILL: You know, not really, John.

I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions that people have. Oh, this tiger attacked somebody. So, therefore, that makes her a bad tiger or a mean tiger.

All tigers have that potential within them. And, you know, when we work in the zoo field, we, as workers, are told all the time, we have to work with each animal assuming that it's going to take any opportunity it has to get you, to be aggressive.

When we don't do so, that's when we get hurt, because, sometimes -- animals are like people. They do have individual personalities. Certainly, some may be more aggressive than others. But there's an old saying that says, you can take an animal out of the wild; you can never take the wild out of the animal.

And it's when we become complacent that we get hurt. That incident with that zookeeper getting hurt, joint like pretty much any incident in the country when a zookeeper or staff member gets hurt, it's our fault. It's not the tiger's fault.

KING: Let me ask you lastly, do you think the authorities had any choice but to kill this tiger? And, also, to the point you made earlier, is it possible that tigers in captivity for a long period of time are becoming so familiar with their environment that they're learning ways out?

MAGILL: That's a great point, John.

The one thing you talk about tigers in captivity, a misconception -- people look at tigers on exhibit, they say, oh, think it's so cute and cuddly. It's so wonderful. I want to go in there and pet it.

And they think we do the same. The fact that these animals are born in captivity and raised in captivity quite often makes them more dangerous to us, because they have lost that natural fear of human beings.

I was just in India tracking tigers. And I tracked a tiger that was 30 yards from me in the wild. As soon as he spotted me, he ran away, because that's their natural instinct. They have lost that instinct in -- in captivity. And, therefore, they can become more dangerous.

Now, in captivity, these tigers, every day they come out, the first thing they do is, they examine their exhibit. They examine their exhibit for anything different, anything that may enable them to expand their territory. So, it's certainly a concern that we have to have and why we always have to be on top of this when we maintain these exhibits in zoos.

KING: Ron Magill, thank you so much for your insights.

MAGILL: Thank you.

KING: For some facts on Siberian tigers, let's check the "Raw Data."

They're one of the largest of the big cats, weighing as much as 600 pounds. They're also an endangered species. Anyway from 350 to 400 exist in the wild. That's fewer, sadly, than the number of Siberian tigers now in captivity.

For families, zoos and aquariums are a must-see trip. Millions of us visit them each year to get an up-close look at wildlife. But just because the animals are on the other side of the wall doesn't mean we're always safe, not in San Francisco, and, as CNN's David Mattingly reports, not elsewhere.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They may be in captivity. They often appear tame. But make no mistake. These animals will always be wild.

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO: You have got to remember that about 95 percent of our animals in zoos and aquariums come from other zoological parks, but they are wild. We tell our folks, a wild animal is like a loaded gun. It can go off at any time. MATTINGLY: And with deadly results. In February, an animal keeper at the Denver Zoo was killed by a 140-pound jaguar after entering its enclosure.

Some attacks were captured on video. This was at San Diego's SeaWorld last year, when a trainer was bitten and dragged underwater by a 6,000-pound killer whale. The man escaped with his wife.

Wildlife expert Jack Hanna says, animals in captivity can be well-trained, but they're never predictable.

HANNA: The animal is just being the animal. But these accidents do happen. And we do everything what we can do avoid that. Safety comes first in any zoological park.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Safety comes first, but it's never guaranteed. In 2004, a gorilla broke free from its pen at the Dallas Zoo and injured several people, including a child. The gorilla was killed. The following year, two chimpanzees went on a rampage at an animal sanctuary in California.

This was the 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man's been attacked by two chimpanzees. He is very critical.

There are still two chimpanzees loose. They are not dangerous.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two that did attack him are down. I have just shot them.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Sometimes, a close encounter between animal and human takes a surprising turn.

Consider what unfolded in August of 1996 at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. A 3-year-old boy falls into the gorilla pen. A large adult female gorilla moves toward the unconscious child, until she towers over him.

As terrified onlookers watch, the gorilla crouches next to the boy, but, instead of attacking, she shields the toddler from the other primates in the pen. The boy is eventually rescued.

(on camera): Her instinct was to protect the child, and she did, long enough for the boy to be rescued. Still this much is clear. You can take the animal out of the wild, but not the wild out of the animal.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


KING: Fascinating pictures there.

A lot more happening around the country, so let's turn to Erica Hill with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: John, a little tax break topping the headlines, President Bush signing two bills today. One is a measure to freeze the alternative minimum tax, or the ATM, for another year. That would spare more than 20 million people about two grand apiece. The other is a massive bill to fund the war and the government well into next year. It is also, though, packed with earmarks.

Discount day at the mall, as merchants try to make up for a somewhat limp Christmas season. Early figures actually show sales running slightly behind estimates, but retailers are really hoping they can make up some of that shortfall when people begin using the more than $26 billion in gift cards which were sold.

And, for the Spiegel family of Eagle, Colorado, the best three Christmas presents you could imagine: triplets born with the help of a surrogate mom for a mother and a father who have lost three children over the years, a very special new beginning for this family tonight, which, of course, John, is what Christmas is all about.

KING: Absolutely. And our congratulations to the Spiegel family.

Now, Erica, you stay right there.

When we come back, a different kind of wild animal story, a guy who goes between a tiger and his lunch, without becoming lunch himself.

Also tonight, the latest on Francesca Lewis -- she's the sole survivor of a plane crash in Central America -- that and a whole more after a short break.


KING: OK, Erica, we talked at the top of the show about the tiger attack in San Francisco. But here's something about cable news you know well. When a story like this tiger tragedy happens, we quickly get some very dramatic and strange video.

This one caught our eye today. Check it out.


DAVE SALMONI, LARGE PREDATOR EXPERT: OK, Ron (ph), no more. Ron, no. Ron. Oh, Ron.


KING: Yes, Erica, in things not to do yourself... (LAUGHTER)

KING: ... that's wildlife biologist Dave Salmoni trying to take food from a hungry tiger.

HILL: Which is just amazing to me. I mean, I know he's got that stick to protect himself there, but it blows my mind.

I actually talked to him earlier about the tiger attack. And he mentioned that he trains tigers to go back into the wild, which, I don't know, but that's not the safest job in the world.

KING: No, not with that little stick. As you watch there, the tiger keeps pulling. And, ultimately, ultimately, Dave wins. He does it.

The big question, though, why is he doing it?


KING: That and, of course, "What Were They Thinking?"


HILL: Ah, yes, the "What Were They Thinking?"

We can't answer that one, but I do have a question you may be able to answer. I'm not sure where you're going to be on New Year's Eve. I'm hoping, though, John, you will at least be in front of a TV, watching the festivities in Times Square with Anderson Cooper. I'm going to be there with Anderson.

And to help get everybody in the spirit, I wanted you to check out Corrie McWilliams (ph). Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy new year, everyone.


HILL: Not only happy new year for Corrie. Today is Corrie's fourth birthday. So, happy birthday, Corrie.

In fact, we have been getting a ton of New Year's messages. And we want more. All you have to do is log on to to send us your photos, your videos, even post a shout-out to your friends, maybe a birthday message to Corrie. We're going to display them all this year, John, on New Year's Eve.

And, of course, as I mentioned, I will be there with Anderson, as well as a very special guest, Kathy Griffin, joining Anderson for the festivities.

KING: Sounds like fun.

I'm sneaking on a quick snowboarding break with Hanna (ph) and Noah (ph) King, but we will tune in.

HILL: All right. Sounds like a good plan.

KING: Thanks, Erica.

And still ahead: an incredible survivor story. We will hear from the mom of the 13-year-old California girl who was trapped in the wreckage of a deadly plane crash for two days.

Next: It's pheasant season and caucus season, a look at how Mike Huckabee is doing in Iowa with the best political team on television -- that, a very different kind of man-meets-tiger story, and more, tonight on 360.


KING: In Iowa today, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took a break from hunting votes, and took aim at some locals who, especially now, won't be voting in next week's first-in-the- nation caucuses.

The former Arkansas governor is an avid hunter. That was the message he sent loud and clear today. In the latest polls, Huckabee has surged to the front of the Republican pack in Iowa.

CNN's Dana Bash braved the cold to track the front-runner and his hunting party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... going with us.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Governor, what kind of gun is that?

HUCKABEE: It's a Benelli 12-gauge Black Eagle.

BASH (voice-over): Mike Huckabee wants Iowans to know and see that he's a hunter who knows his stuff.

HUCKABEE: You know, it would help if I get some shells. Who has got those?

BASH: A not-so-subtle contrast to Mitt Romney, his chief rival here, who declared himself a lifelong hunter, only to have his campaign admit he's only hunted twice.

HUCKABEE: Maybe it will show that, you know, I certainly understand the culture of being outdoors. It's not a -- it's not something I had to go and get a primer in.

BASH: The former Arkansas governor says he would normally be duck hunting back home after Christmas, claims he goes some 30 times a season. But, in Iowa, it's pheasants. And, after a couple misses...

HUCKABEE: Red is fire. So, it's away from me.

BASH: ... some problems with his safety lock, he bagged a pheasant, three for his whole party.

HUCKABEE: These three birds all said they would not vote for me on caucus night. You see what happened to them. It's very positive. You vote for me, you live. You don't? Hmm. There you go.

BASH: Beyond the folksy, if-not-slightly morbid humor, a closing argument for Iowa voters.

HUCKABEE: That what I bring to the race is the most experience of actually running a government. And I think I also bring a level of authenticity and credibility to the campaign.

BASH: But even here, evidence Huckabee still has work to do -- fellow hunter Clint Robinson thinks he's going for Huckabee, but:

CLINT ROBINSON, HUNTER: Immigration is certainly an issue. It's -- his stance isn't necessarily in line with what I think needs to happen either.

BASH: Lucky for Huckabee, he got some quality hunting time to lobby Robinson.

HUCKABEE: Lunch will be at 11:30.

BASH: And maybe a meal.


KING: Dana Bash joins us now from Iowa, along with CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and Gloria Borger, Gloria out there in Iowa, David joining us from Boston, I believe.

Dana, let me start with you.

So, Governor Huckabee says, when you ask him, "What's your closing pitch?" likability, things like that. Is there any big policy issue he's trying to bring to the forefront of the closing pitch or just the fact that voters like him and trust him?

BASH: Well, sure. He talks on the stump all the time about polity issues. He talks about immigration. He talks about his -- his plan to abolish the IRS, his so-called FairTax. He talks a lot here in Iowa about the issue that really plays to Christian conservatives, those issues like abortion and his opposition to -- to rights for -- for homosexuals.

But, look, I asked him point blank there, John, if you're talking to a voter who's trying to decide between you and Mitt Romney, what is your answer? It is hands down his answer there. It is likability. It is authenticity, as you just heard him there, because that is, he understands, what is his biggest selling point here. It's just his style.

It's sort of that intangible that is making him do well with voters in Iowa. He understands that. That is why he is pushing that above all others right now.

KING: Well, David, Dana mentioned Mitt Romney. He was the guy leading in Iowa in the summer, leading in New Hampshire in the summer. Both of those leads have now disappeared, at least to an extent.

I want you to listen to Mitt Romney today. He was under attack, his conservative credentials under attack, from "The Union Leader" of Manchester.

This is how Mitt Romney responds. Let's listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the top voices of conservative thought in America is "The National Review." And "The National Review" took a good, hard look at all the candidates. It's, of course, a national publication, and they endorsed my candidacy, and laid out why they had done so. And I think their -- their conclusion is the one I agree with.


KING: David Gergen, is that how Mitt Romney should be answering that question? Or should he be talking about his plan on taxes for his business experience?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I -- he's in this defensive crouch. And I must say that, compared to Huckabee, you know, it's hands-down. Huckabee wins sort of the pictures and the storyline.

I mean, what's been surprising to me about this, John, is that, for two straight weeks, Mike Huckabee, with very, very little money, compared to Mitt Romney, has run the most eye-catching campaigns. You know, he dominated much of last week's conversation with that advertisement about Christmas and Christ.

And now he's come back with this -- with this hunting episode that has -- once again, he has captured the headlines. He's captured this -- the -- the pictures. And -- and Mitt Romney is sort of just left there sort of stuttering a little bit about his conservative support.

So, I'm -- I'm surprised that Mitt Romney, with all of his high -- he's got a very high-powered team with a lot of money. I'm surprised that they have let Huckabee outplay them like this.

KING: So, Gloria, we want to talk about everyone, but let's bring John McCain into the conversation. He's the guy who's giving Romney fits in New Hampshire. And, yet, where is he tonight? Western Iowa. He has not played out there very much, but now he suddenly thinks, if he makes a late push -- he's there for about a day-and-a- half now, I think -- that maybe he can come in third place and surprise people.

Listen to John McCain tonight when he was asked, "Senator, why aren't you doing better in Iowa?"


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think immigration. I think the fact that I don't support ethanol subsidies. But, look, we just do the best we can. We're working hard.

And as I say, I think we have a very good organization here on the ground, and we'll hope for the best.


KING: So Gloria, a McCain surge in Iowa?

BORGER: No, I think he's lowering expectations in that -- in that little piece of tape you heard.

He's going to do better than people thought. I think he's coming here to kind of rub it in to Mitt Romney. He doesn't want Romney to do well in the state of Iowa, because he wants to beat Mitt Romney in the state of New Hampshire.

So he's -- he's coming here to kind of thumb his nose at Romney and pat Huckabee on the back and maybe do himself some good. But his real shot is, of course, New Hampshire.

But you know, anything can happen. I think you see Republican voters in this state who take a look at this field and say, "Gee, you know, I'm not sure who I'm really for." So many undecided Republican voters out there. So McCain comes up here and says, "What the hey? I think I'll show up."

KING: Dana, if you look at your e-mail from the Romney campaign, once or twice, maybe four or five times a day you might get an e-mail criticizing John McCain on immigration. The senator himself there just acknowledged that it's one of the reasons his position on immigration, where he thinks he's not doing as well as he would like in Iowa. Is that the defining issue?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it is one of the main defining issues for Republicans here in Iowa.

But look, I mean, the reality is going after John McCain here in Iowa or New Hampshire, anywhere on immigration is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Everybody knows where John McCain stands on immigration. Everybody knows that this is something that has hurt him, the fact this he pushed for legislation that allowed basically citizenship for illegal immigrants.

So if you are a Republican voter who hasn't decided yet, immigration is your top issue, you're not going to go for John McCain anyway.

But I think what's really interesting about McCain coming back here to Iowa is just in talking to Republican voters, so many are still unsatisfied with the field that they have. And so McCain is here to play into that to say, "Well, if people are so dissatisfied, perhaps maybe they'll give me a second chance." Those who are not really just turning me off because of the immigration issue.

KING: And so David and Gloria, David, you first, 15 or 20 seconds, why are they dissatisfied? Are the Republicans as a group failing to make the big pitch, if you will, to make it about some big issue?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: There's no hair apparent. Republicans always like the next person standing in line. That's what they rally behind. There's never been anybody in this race and the more they look at him. Each person has been diminished by the length of this race, I think.

KING: Gloria?

BORGER: And I think David's right. There is no heir apparent. But if you look at this Republican field, and you go for the issue of experience and you say, whose turn is it next, which Republicans tend to do, they may be giving John McCain another look.

KING: Another look perhaps. We'll stay on top of that one.

Dana Bash, thank you from Des Moines.

Gloria, David, stay around for a second. Up next on 360, we'll turn to the Raw Politics of experience. Should the time Hillary Clinton spent in the White House count? You can probably guess what Barack Obama says.

More from the best political team on television when 360 continues.


KING: Hillary Clinton's campaign is launching a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire tomorrow, emphasizing her strength and experience. She's now running virtually even with Barack Obama and John Edwards in the polls, talking a lot lately about her work in the White House.

One of her chief rivals is asking how much having been first lady really counts.

CNN's Bill Schneider looks at the "Raw Politics" of the junior senator from New York's resume and how it's playing out in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): With just days to go, Hillary Clinton tries to close the deal.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It takes strength and experience to be able to make change in our political system.

SCHNEIDER: Her argument: the best candidate to change the White House is the woman who's already lived there; experience counts, and she's got it.

BILL CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got a proven agent of change, if you elect her president, someone who knows...

SCHNEIDER: On the stump in Iowa the Clintons reminisce about what sure sounds like a co-presidency.

H. CLINTON: When I went to the White House with Bill, we tackled some very tough problems.

B. CLINTON: And she represented you in 83 other countries.

H. CLINTON: We created the vaccines for children program.

B. CLINTON: She has always been a change maker.

SCHNEIDER: Their implicit promise: one step back means two steps forward.

H. CLINTON: God bless you!

SCHNEIDER: But in another corner of Iowa, a not-so-subtle jab at the Clinton legacy.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the chance, maybe for the first time in a generation, to finally come together and start tackling problems that were there long before George W. Bush ever took office.

SCHNEIDER: Obama has been quick to downplay Hillary Clinton's White House experience. First lady, he argues, is not a key decision- making role on policy matters. Obama's closing art argument: he's the real change-maker, and the Clintons are just hoping voters are too scared to take a leap of faith.

OBAMA: Don't, you know, try something different because, you know, that's going to be too risky. You know, you don't know what you might get. So, even though you know what's been done in the past doesn't work, stick with it. I know that that's not how America's made progress.

SCHNEIDER: And we're back to the future again.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.


KING: And more now on Senator Clinton and the rest of the Democratic field. With us once again, CNN senior political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger.

For the record, we should note David served as an advisor to Bill Clinton as well as Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. The better man for all of that, David.

Gloria, let's look at the big dynamic in the race: experience, experience, experience, Senator Clinton says. And on that issue, she enjoys a huge lead over both Obama and Edwards. Fifty-five percent of Democratic voters say that Hillary Clinton has the best experience or the most experience, compared to 13 percent or Obama, 11 percent for Edwards.

And yet, Gloria, she's struggling. Why doesn't experience trump change?

BORGER: Well, I think because Barack Obama has decided to take her on on the issue of experience, because she's made it a question of you want change but you don't want risk. She has said Obama represents risk.

And so Barack Obama is saying, "Wait a minute. I'm not so risky. What is it that Hillary Clinton has actually done? Did she ever actually serve in the Oval Office? She's just been a senator. What actually is her experience?"

And, you know, that's a question that she's going to have to answer now in this closing week in Iowa, because people are asking it.

KING: And David, I may say too many risks here and I may end up confusing people. But is there a risk for Obama who, just a few years ago, was in the Illinois state senate, saying that Hillary Clinton's experience in the White House doesn't matter and that she'd be the risky candidate?

GERGEN: Oh, sure. Of course. And I think that is -- and that's been her argument all along.

And I think there's no question that she's the more experienced -- the more experienced of the two in national politics, in national political life. She was deeply enmeshed in many of the domestic issues that came before the Clinton presidency, especially in the early years.

What has been surprising, I think, John, is to learn from "The New York Times" in the last couple days that she, in fact, did not have a security clearance and, therefore, did not have access to all the papers on the foreign policy side, did not get the president's daily briefing. I never knew that. I worked there in that White House. I assumed that she had a security clearance but does not. And so that surprised me.

But I think what's working for him is that all that experience may not be exactly what a lot of people are looking for. They do want a fresh face. They want a change. They want to open a new chapter. And Barack has come on strong.

And in these closing days, I must say he has more momentum than she does, and he has a much clearer message. Her message now, she's not strength, she's got, you know, change. She's got experience. And he's just going for change.

KING: And Gloria, how much is his -- how much is his effort to go for change, hopeful change, optimistic change, complicated by John Edwards, the other horse out there in Iowa who's also talking about change. His is more combative, if you will: get the special interests, I'll take them on. But how does that complicate things?

BORDER: Well, if John Edwards is really running as the populist -- and, in fact, you know, that's a message that plays very well here in the state of Iowa. He's running on the -- sort of the anxiety of the middle class. And that's something that people in this state and in the state of New Hampshire really understand.

But I think Hillary Clinton's problem, John, is that she's got this muddled message that David was talking about. She's essentially been running as an incumbent in this race, and now she's running for change.

Well, how do you run as an incumbent, the one with experience, and then say, "I'm going to go and change Washington, which is by the way where I've been living the last decade of my life."

KING: And so David, eight days out, if you're watching the Democratic race, what are you looking for?

GERGEN: I'm looking to see if she can pull herself together and come up with a clear, focused appeal to the voters. I mean, look at the way these bus tour are starting out. She's got this bus tour now. And it's got -- it's got -- listen to the words in her theme for a bus tour: big challenges, real solutions, time to pick a president. What in the world does all that mean?

BORGER: It sounds comical (ph).

GERGEN: He stands -- his theme is, you know, stand for change. And so she's got to pull this together in order to pull it back out. She can still do it. There's still time. But, boy, the pressure is on.

KING: And we will revisit this as we go. Eight days and counting to Iowa. Gloria Borger, David Gergen, thank you both.

By now you've probably heard the word "caucuses" more times than Britney Spears had mocha frappuccinos. I'm going to skip the next line. Up next, find out how they actually work.

And later, a major break in the mass murder that took six lives. We'll bring you the late developments when 360 continues.


KING: The first major hurdle of the presidential race now just days away. But Iowa holds more than just the distinction of being first. It also owns the title of, well, the most exotic contest of its kind.

The caucuses might sound like much mumbo-jumbo to you, until now. Trust me and CNN's Jeffrey Toobin.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): Imagine an election with no secret ballot, no all-day voting, the age requirement, only 17 and, finally, you can vote for more than one candidate. If that sounds un-American, it's actually how the Iowa Democratic caucuses operate. And, listen up: you care because those folks in Iowa may actually choose your next president.

In fact, the rules here are so strange that the campaigns in Iowa run training sessions on how to vote. Step one, stand up and be counted.

CHELSEA WALISER, MOCK CAUCUS ORGANIZER: And what you'll do is then you will get up out of your seat, and you'll go walk to the corner or space by the wall designated for the candidate of your choice.

OK, ready, go.

TOOBIN (on camera): At Obama's Iowa rehearsal caucuses they practiced without candidates. Instead, they used winter activities. We've got ice skating here, drinking hot cocoa, snowboarding, building snowmen and, of course, snowball fights.

(voice-over) So once again, they're not choosing candidates in this rehearsal. They're choosing favorite winter activities. After the first round, anyone who's not standing for a candidate, well, activity in this case, that meets the threshold of 15 percent of the room is out of luck.

(on camera) Turns out on this night, not enough snowboarders. Very sad. So what happens now? If the snowboarders want their votes to count at all, they have to pick a new candidate before the second and final tally.

WALISER; Each group that is viable gets to send one ambassador over to the snowboarding group and try to persuade them to join your group.

TOOBIN (voice-over): Now it's "let's make a deal." The other groups all send someone over to the snowboarders to say, "Come on, join our side." A little arm-twisting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ice skating you feel free. You feel free. You can go on one foot, two feet. You can twirl around.



TOOBIN (on camera): The snowboarders decide ice skating is their second choice, and they all make the switch.

(voice-over) Understanding that the persuasion period and how to win over second-choice voters is so important, candidates have Web videos to explain it.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't just go to the caucus; bring your friends.

TOOBIN: And even highlighted on the stump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you hit that floor and work it and try to get them, and it's like a fun game. It's like Monopoly some. You go over and say, "Well, your man isn't going to make it. Come over here." Remember, I loaned you that snow shovel.

TOOBIN (on camera): Because the rules are so complicated, organization is key. You need to get your supporters to the caucus locations by 7 o'clock sharp or they can't vote.

And this is Iowa in the winter time. Sometimes the weather's a factor.

(voice-over) By comparison, the Republican caucuses are pretty simple. Though the campaigns -- here Fred Thompson's -- are also training their supporters.

It's a secret ballot, and there's no viability threshold. Every vote counts.

The complicated rules make for one sure thing: that the results here are very hard to predict.

(on camera) So after all this, who wins? Well, that's not simple either. The party keeps the popular vote totals at the caucuses a secret. They only announce the percentage of delegates each candidate will receive at the state party convention later in 2008.

And there's more, of course. The caucus rules are 72 pages long -- John.


KING: Seventy-two pages. For more of Jeff Toobin's telestrating skills, tune into Saturday night's Patriots-Giants game.

Up next, a teenage girl pulled from the wreckage of a plane crash two days after it went down in the mountains of Panama. Hear her incredible story of survival.

Plus, a Christmas collision caught on tape. It's our "Shot of the Day," still ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Just ahead, how would you like to be the owner of this store? A big mess, but the cops shouldn't have too much trouble tracking down the driver. We'll tell you why in a moment.

First, though, Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.


HILL: John, the 13-year-old American girl who survived a plane crash in Panama was up and about today, talking with hospital staff and her family. Francesca Lewis is the sole survivor of that crash. The other three on board, Francesca's friend, her friend's father, and the pilot, were killed.

She described her ordeal to her mother.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they found her, she was under the wing. And she thought she had been sleeping and that she would wake up and see -- she thought she was in her home and that there was -- why was there an airplane wing in her home.

So she was delirious. I don't know if she was in and out of this sleep state or if that was sort of a preservation mode, because she was in extreme weather conditions. It was very cold, raining very hard. Pretty much constantly for 2 1/2 days.


HILL: A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the deaths of six people in a rural area of Washington state. It happened in a town east of Seattle. The victims include a couple in their 50s, another couple in their 30s, a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year- old girl.

Police believe all six people were members of the same family and that they were probably shot on Christmas Eve.

A nasty surprise for homeowners this year. A ten-city home index says that real estate values were 6.7 percent lower in October than they were the same month a year ago. That's the largest drop since the index began 20 years ago, and it is the tenth consecutive month that housing prices have fallen.

Actress Lindsay Lohan in trouble again. She's now being sued by a driver she hit in a car crash two years ago. The van driver alleges Lohan had been drinking at the time. But the 21-year-old actress says she was sober and that the driver made an illegal U-turn.

Lohan spent 84 minutes in jail last month after pleading guilty to drunk driving and cocaine charges that were not related to this crash in 2005, John. KING: Guess she's got a good lawyer.

HILL: Apparently.

KING: Stick around for "The Shot," Erica. It's actually four shots in one, but any way you look at it you'll want to know how it began and how it ended. That's next after this short break.


KING: If video cameras are nearly everywhere these days, then tonight's "Shot" is Exhibit A.

In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, just before 6 p.m. on Christmas morning the driver loses control and, you see right there, plows into a mini-mart.

HILL: Wow.

KING: Bang. Four different cameras, Erica, four different cameras captured the crash from every angle inside and out.

The owner estimates that at least $25,000 in damage was done, but he considers himself lucky the crash happened about five minutes before he was due to start work for the day.

HILL: I would say he is lucky. My goodness. Look at that.

KING: Four different cameras. Think how many times you want to go out for an interview and you had trouble finding one.

HILL: I know. It would be nice to have a four-camera shoot, wouldn't it?

KING: Not if a minivan is going to come crashing through.

And remember, we want you to send us your "Shot" idea. If you see some amazing video -- one camera, two, four -- tell us about it at We'll put some of their best clips on our air.

And tonight, more on our top story. A tiger gets loose and preys on people. How could it happen at a big city zoo? The latest on the investigation and the deadly consequences next.


KING: Good evening from New York. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper.

Tonight, the "Raw Politics" of Iowa. Mike Huckabee goes hunting there for game birds and caucus folks. Is he on target with either? Just a week to go until the caucuses.

We'll look at how he and others, Democrats and Republicans, are doing as they try to close the deal in the first contest of election '08. That and a whole lot more tonight. First, though, horror at the zoo.

A Christmas Day rampage ends in a deadly attack by a Siberian tiger in San Francisco. One moment, the animal is in captivity. The next, on the loose. How could this have happened?

The latest now from CNN's Ted Rowlands.