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Iowa Showdown; The Jesus Factor

Aired January 2, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: In Iowa, it is crunch time big time. The caucuses now less than 24 hours away, and the race is as close as they come. Three Democrats, two Republicans are virtually tied at the top in the final stretch of a campaigning marathon.
We've got new poll numbers tonight, and the best political team on television to translate them for us. In Iowa, the airwaves are filled with spin about the issues Americans say they care most about. We think you want the facts tonight, not the hype. We're going to look tonight beyond the posturings; the candidates' actual positions. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Plus, an all-out battle for evangelicals; both Republican front runners want and need their votes. Whose prayers are most likely to be answered? We'll go inside Iowa's pulpits just ahead.

All of the front-runners are spending these final hours trying to win over the undecided and make sure those who already support them turn out tomorrow in the cold and the snow no matter what the weather may be. Some campaigns are handing out shovels literally; others are promising baby-sitters. No secret as to why.

CNN's latest poll of polls shows just how close the races are. Take a look. Just two percentage points separate the Democratic front-runners, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

The Republican race is largely a two-man battle with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in a virtual dead heat; and the rest of the pack trailing far behind. Now, anything could happen tomorrow night as we've said. All of the front-runners know that.

We begin tonight with the stakes and CNN senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Know how you can tell it's close to being over? They're screaming.

OBAMA: If you believe, let's go change the world and stand with me.

CROWLEY: And they're careening around the state. John Edwards is on a 36-hour nonstop road show.

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, we have important work left still to do.

CROWLEY: And they're getting all chummy and cheery with the press corps.


CROWLEY: Armed with a coffee pot, Hillary Clinton helpfully reminded reporters to wear a coat in the cold and then looked down the road.

CLINTON: I'm going to go all the way from the caucuses tomorrow through February 5th and expect to be the nominee.

CROWLEY: And that's the thing about Iowa, despite the year-long campaign, it's not close to being over. It is close to starting.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I want to do is have a strong showing in the top three, move on to New Hampshire, move on to Nevada, and then to New Mexico and some of the western primaries.

CROWLEY: That's the other thing about Iowa. Unless you're a prohibitive front-runner who implodes --

HOWARD DEAN: And then we're going to Washington, D.C. To take back the White House!

CROWLEY: Think Howard Dean, you don't have to win to survive.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think anybody who comes out of here who exceeds expectations is going to get a ticket to go to New Hampshire, and I expect to get one of those tickets.

CROWLEY: Iowa does not decide the race to the nomination. But it shapes it.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are going to be listening to what Iowa has to say.

CROWLEY: A few for instances.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, if there ever was definition underdog, look in the dictionary. There's a photo of me right there, underdog.

CROWLEY: If Huckabee beats Romney, he becomes more than an interesting blip in campaign history, although still under finance. It would not be fatal for Romney, but it would weaken him and ensure a really interesting Romney/McCain dogfight in New Hampshire.

ROMNEY: And with regards to Senator McCain, I think he was just wrong to vote against the Bush tax cuts twice.

CROWLEY: And there are endless down the road per mutations for Democrats.

OBAMA: We need to turn the page. We need to write a new chapter.

CROWLEY: If Obama wins, Clinton loses the patina of inevitability, and New Hampshire polls showing a tie with Barack Obama grow more troublesome. Unless, of course, Clinton loses to John Edwards, producing an Edwards/Obama showdown for the not Hillary slot.

CLINTON: Come out to caucus tomorrow night and together we will make history.

CROWLEY: And if she wins, Iowa, in the rearview mirror, may turn out to be the beginning of the end for everyone else.

CLINTON: We're ready.

CROWLEY: And if she places third, whole new ball game, baby.


COOPER: New ball game indeed. Man, it's interesting. Candy Crowley joins me from Iowa and John King is in New Hampshire where the nation's first primary is next Tuesday. Candy, is there a real chance Hillary Clinton could come in third, and if that happens, what happens?

CROWLEY: Absolutely there's a chance. I mean, just look at those polls. I mean, all of them know -- and even when you talk to these campaigns off the record or on background, they really aren't sure.

They're trying to make sure who's going to show up, but they don't really know what the other guy's doing. So these are very close races. And, of course, it's possible. She could come in first, second or third.

So if that should happen, it really damages her campaign. Does it mortally wound it? Absolutely not. She's got a big name, she's got lots of money. She clearly can carry on. She clearly can go to those February 5th states, the big states where name recognition and money is going to help a lot.

But the fact of the matter is, once you take away that, you know, she's the incumbent or, you know, the presumed incumbent, that kind of atmosphere they wanted to create around her campaign, once you take that away, it really is a different race.

COOPER: John, four years ago, almost 20 percent of Democratic caucus goers called themselves independents; Senator Barack Obama making a strong push for their support this time around. How much are his chances tied to their turnout?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no question here in New Hampshire, to a degree in Iowa but mostly here in New Hampshire, Barack Obama is very much counting on the independents in this state who could vote in either primary to flood the Democratic race. And all of the polls now Anderson show majority, a big number of the independents here in New Hampshire are going Democrat this time. And Obama benefits from that. Could the Iowa results change that? They could.

If Clinton beats Obama, will the independents here reconsider or will they rally to Obama or might they say, "You know what? Let's go play on the Republican side, maybe help John McCain."

So Iowa's results will impact New Hampshire. Iowa and New Hampshire don't pick, they win all the fields. And the person who wins Iowa often faces resistance in New Hampshire. This state prides itself on being independent.

So the independent voters matter in both states, much more so here in New Hampshire. At the moment they're turning Democratic, but five days between Iowa and New Hampshire is not a long time, but enough time for people to change their minds.

COOPER: Candy, the top two Republicans, top three Democrats virtually tied in Iowa as we've talked about. There's a lot to talk about these undecideds. Who's in the best position to appeal to them right now, and will they actually turn out? Does anyone know?

CROWLEY: You know, it's really interesting because the conventional wisdom will tell you that if somebody is undecided at this point in a race, they probably won't show up at the polls. But I've got to tell you, I go to all these town hall meetings, and regardless of what the candidate -- who the candidate is, I talk to these undecideds, and they say no, no, we're going.

And I say, well, could you make up your mind inside that caucus? They say, of course, we could. Because remember, the arguments stay on inside the caucus. People are trying to convince you to come to their side, come to their candidate.

So there really are people here who are dedicated politicos who intend to go to those caucuses who say that even that night, they could go in and be changed towards whatever candidate they're leaning toward.

You know, who's ahead with the undecideds? It really depends on what campaign you talk to. If you talk to the Obama campaign or the Edwards campaign, they'll tell you if someone hasn't decided about Hillary Clinton now, they're going to decide against her because she's so well known.

However, they view it, obviously, really differently in the Clinton campaign where they think that the undecideds really will go for her because they're going to look at electability.

COOPER: John, let's put Iowa in perspective. In terms of races in the past, how has that had an impact on what goes on in New Hampshire? If you win in Iowa, how big a bump do you get, and how long does that last for? KING: Well, that is a big question because of the difference this year. You get a big bump. Bob Dole got a big bump when he won back in 1988, but there were eight or nine days between then and New Hampshire; and he lost. George W. Bush won Iowa back in 2000, got thumped by McCain here because this state said. "No, wait a minute. We are not going to bless Iowa's choice."

Only five days this time. So one of the calculations of, say, John McCain, he hopes Mike Huckabee wins Iowa. Make no mistake about it, because he thinks Mitt Romney will drop overnight five, maybe 10 or 12 points here in New Hampshire. And with five days, including a weekend being in there, can he recover?

So there is no question the winner of Iowa will get a bounce. The question then is what does New Hampshire do about it? Again, quickly, if it's Mike Huckabee in Iowa, he'll come here more popular, he'll go up in the polls. But this is a pro-choice state even among Republicans they favor abortion rights.

It is a state that has fiercely resisted a sales tax for years, and the central economic proposal of Huckabee is abolish the IRS and the income tax and have a national sales tax. We have a lot to learn. We'll get the first voice out of Iowa and then we'll have a bit of resetting of the race here in New Hampshire.

COOPER: Reset indeed. John King, Candy Crowley, thanks.

The candidates have spent a record amount of money on advertising in Iowa. Here's the raw data on that. $40 million has gone towards political ads just in the Hawkeye state, that's roughly $200 per caucus-goer and more than four times the $9.1 million Democrats spent in Iowa in 2004; four times the amount.

Republicans, you'll recall, skipped the caucuses because President Bush was seeking his second term.

Quick programming note, CNN's special coverage of the Iowa caucuses starts tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. We've got reporters and producers all over the state. You can expect the most comprehensive coverage of the contest from the best political team on TV.

Up next, what you don't know about the caucuses.


COOPER: Candidates spending big bucks in a small state. To the pundits --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just seems absurd --

COOPER: -- but Iowa is still the first to decide the fate of the president. So how will it be done tomorrow night in Iowa and why it matters? Caucuses 101 coming up. Plus, the Democrats and the issues. The war in Iraq, the economy and health care. Where do the top Democratic candidates really stand? We're "Keeping Them Honest" when "360" continues.



EDWARDS: You want to know what this election is about beyond ending the war and dealing with health care and energy and all of these big issues that face the country; protecting our civil rights and civil liberties. All of these issues are enormously important. But at the core of them is restoring the power and the democracy to you. That's what the election is about.


COOPER: John Edwards there, as we showed you in a virtual tie with Obama and Clinton. We'll get to the issues and where each of them stand in a moment. But first, the nuts and bolts of the Iowa caucuses.

Pretty much everyone knows they're the first contest in the presidential race, but actually understanding how they work, well, that's where things get tricky. Fortunately, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Tom Foreman have a handle on it all.

Let's start with Jeff and the math behind tomorrow's voting. How does this work in the caucuses?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The first thing you need to remember is that this is not an election. This is a caucus.

COOPER: -- which is a meeting.

TOOBIN: A meeting and it means it's in public. There's no secret ballot here. Basically people show up in a room like where Tom is going to be, and then they vote. They walk over to the corner, come on, Anderson, you vote, too.

COOPER: They actually stand in a corner of the room.

TOOBIN: Every candidate gathers 'round and has his supporters.

COOPER: So we're just randomly putting these up.

TOOBIN: We're randomly putting these up. And this is the key moment in any caucus. Because after the first round, there's the 15 percent rule, only on the Democratic side. In the Democratic caucuses, if you don't have 15 percent, you're out of the first round.

COOPER: So then all those people who, when voted for people who didn't get 15 percent, they're free to choose again.

TOOBIN: They're not only free, they're expected to. And this is where the politicking gets intense where the other people try to get them to join. And, in fact, sometimes people switch from one to another. I mean, you can go back and forth any way you like.

And this is the final result that gets reported to Des Moines, and this is the result of the caucus after the 15 percent threshold forces everyone to vote twice.

COOPER: And 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, 7:00 p.m. Central time, that's when the first positioning begins on the Democratic side.

TOOBIN: Correct. The doors close. You can't show up after 7:00 and expect to vote. And then you begin this process.

The Republicans are very different and much simpler. The Republicans, it's simply a straw poll. Everyone who shows up, they vote once for the candidate of their choice, those votes are reported to Republican headquarters in Des Moines, and that's what we learn.

COOPER: Interesting process. All right Jeff Toobin, thanks very much. That's how the basic math works.

Now for the logistics, CNN's Tom Foreman is in Des Moines tonight outside one caucus location, the Merrill Middle School. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN: Yeah, Anderson, I'm glad you guys did the math. What I can talk to is emotion; talking to caucus-goers at Merrill Middle School. They're very excited because there will be four caucuses here tomorrow night including one of those Republican caucuses which will be very controlled right here inside this theater.

But there will also be three Democratic caucuses, hundreds of folks here intent on just that wheeling and dealing.


FOREMAN: When the doors close and the caucuses begin in four rooms here at Merrill Middle School, three Democratic, one Republican, it will be up to Iowans to decide which contenders get passing grades.


FOREMAN: And Jeffrey Goets, who will run a Democratic caucus in the gymnasium, says if some candidates fail to win support, others will try to take their followers away. How?

GOETS: The arm twisters will say, "Well, your candidate's position on this issue is much more closely aligned with our candidate than the other." That's the type of reasoning that's used.

FOREMAN: And then caucus-goers will have a chance to vote a second time for the candidate who is their second choice. Even the losing campaigns will be in on the wheeling and dealing, trying to broker their votes to others, hoping to gain favor in a winning camp.

The problem is in both parties, even the local leaders feel like they just don't know what's going to happen. But they expect it will be a long night. John Tone will run the Republican caucus in the school theater.

Have you ever seen a presidential race as up for grabs as this one?

JOHN TONE, TEMPORARY REPUBLICAN CHAIR: The simple answer is no. This is as close and as tight as I've ever seen it.


FOREMAN: That's what they're all saying; the Republicans and the Democrats. This is one of the rooms where one of the Democratic caucuses will be. There will be three different precincts around here for the Democrats.

So they'll be in three different groups. But this is where, in real life, they'll do exactly what Jeffrey was talking to you about, Anderson, dividing up into groups, looking at their neighbors, talking about the issues, and in this room with the Republican room over there, somewhere in those rooms, the process of picking the next president of the country really gets under way. Anderson?

COOPER: It is amazing because it really does require, you know, a heady commitment of time and energy to actually go. It's not just pulling a lever. It's really spending an entire evening in a room with a bunch of people.

FOREMAN: Yeah. And there's no way that you can do it remotely. If you're in the service, if you're away, if you're ill, if you can't get time off from the job, you're out. That's it. This is very hands-on.

But I've got to tell you, the dedication of the people here in Iowa is really very impressive. I talked to so many of them today who were just saying, "Look, I feel like it's my duty. I feel like for not only Iowa, for my community, but for America, I'm supposed to come here and talk to people about all of these things that we're all talking about, and make the best decision they can.

COOPER: All right. Tom, we'll check in with you tomorrow throughout the election coverage.

I want to show you two events right now. There's a John Edwards event taking place right now live. That's on the left-hand side of your screen, I believe. And he's about to take the stage, we're told.

And on the right is a Clinton event. She's not there yet. People are clearly waiting for her. She's scheduled to arrive in about a half hour; various speakers right now are just addressing the crowds that are there. We'll kind of dip in and out on these events and also other events which going on throughout this hour.

It is really getting down to the wire in Iowa, and with all the money they have spent so far, all the commercials they have put on the air so far, they are not wasting any time in these last hours, these last 24 hours. They are on a blitz, full out, lots of campaign stops all around the state, trying to rally those people, not only those who already have decided to vote for, to caucus for their candidate, but those many undecided voters, those independents, trying to make sure that they come out and bring friends and family to go to these caucuses tomorrow night.

Still ahead, the top candidates and how they stand on the top issues. First Erica Hill joins us with the "360 Bulletin." Erica?

ERICA HILL: Anderson, in a dramatic turnaround, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf now says investigators from Scotland Yard will be allowed to participate in the investigation into Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Meantime, anti-Musharraf demonstrations continued today. Leaders of Bhutto's party say they will take part in parliamentary elections which are now postponed until February 18th because of the unrest following Bhutto's death.

A prison escapee serving a life term has been shot dead. Calvin Polk escaped this morning from a hospital between Baltimore and Washington. He was taken there after he complained of chest pains. Police say Polk grabbed a prison guard's gun, overpowered five guards in total, then stole a car after he actually shot the driver in the head.

He stole at least one other car before being gunned down in Prince Georges County, Maryland. A hospital spokesman says that driver, by the way, who was injured is actually doing well.

And in Southern Chile, more than 1,000 people are forced to flee as a volcano erupts; spewing lava. It is happening in a national park more than 400 miles south of Santiago. The eruptions are reportedly beginning to subside, but authorities say many more evacuations, Anderson, might be necessary.

COOPER: Unbelievable. Erica, stay right there. In your city in Atlanta, a candidate for U.S. Senate is literally going to new heights to get attention. Desperate, you might say, but nevertheless, he's more than 300 feet in the air. We hope he dressed appropriately. It's about 15 degrees there tonight. "What Was He Thinking?" that's coming up.

Plus, the Jesus factor, Mike Huckabee looking for support from evangelical Christians. Will the faithful, though, help him at the polls? That's when "360" continues.


COOPER: Erica, now a little segment we like to call "What Were They Thinking?" we start off in your city, Atlanta; Dale Cardwell has hoisted himself up on a tower on scaffolding more than 300 feet in the air, and he says he'll stay there until his message is heard. What is his message, you might ask? Well, it's written right there on the big banner, that we are all in trouble.

HILL: You know, why that compels you to climb up a tower in the freezing cold, though, I don't get it.

COOPER: He's a former Tv reporter and he's running for U.S. Senate candidacy. This is what happens to former TV reporters. He says big-money corporations run the political process.

HILL: Be careful.

COOPER: He's a Democrat who faces a long-shot bid to unseat Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss. Cardwell says despite freezing temperatures, he will not come down until his message is heard. We are all in trouble, Erica.

HILL: Apparently he has an insulated sleeping bag so that should really keep his warm because it's freezing here tonight. But I'm telling you still, I went to his website and checked it all out. I still don't understand the connection between climbing the tower and we're all in trouble. Just me.

COOPER: You know, desperate bid for attention and seemed to work because we mentioned his name and his message.

HILL: Indeed, we did. We are all in trouble. So maybe we'll leave him behind now for another sit-down. This one though happening at ground level, a little warmer where these people are, at the ESPN zone, it's the ultimate couch potato competition going on in your city of New York.

Four contestants, there they are in recliners in front of more than a dozen TVs. They get unlimited food and drink. Here's the catch.

COOPER: Is that guy from -- what's that band? Guns 'n Roses?

HILL: I missed it, did it flash there or something?

COOPER: Wow a giant potato.

HILL: Yeah, and giant potato, I think that's the trophy. They can't fall asleep in their bark lounger or even leave the chair except for a bathroom break once every eight hours.

They're trying to set a new Guinness record for watching sports on TV. Currently the record is at 69 hours and 48 minutes. I have a feeling that Anderson Cooper may have set that record.

COOPER: Yes, Maybe.

HILL: As for the winner, they get a new cozy recliner, high-def TV and hopefully that potato trophy.

COOPER: That's it, they get a bark lounger and a high-def television?

HILL: Bragging rights, hello. And then they can continue their quest in the comfort of their own bark lounger.

COOPER: And I want to apologize whoever was in that video because the person I thought was Axl Rose was actually a woman. I'm not sure if I should be apologizing to the woman or Axl Rose. But either one, I do not think -- HILL: Yeah.

COOPER: Let's check in with John Roberts to see what's coming up tomorrow on "American Morning."

JOHN ROBERTS: Thanks, Anderson. Tomorrow we're live in Iowa once again, the morning of the Iowa caucuses, the candidates are making their last appeals and join us live. Barack Obama, Ron Paul, John Edwards, Bill Richardson; all join us live from Des Moines for a special election day edition of "American Morning." It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Anderson?

COOPER: Up next, from the politics of who to the politics of why, which issues are important to caucus-goers in Iowa. If you're a Democrat, Iraq is your number one priority. If you're a Republican, it's the economy; according to polls, that is. All the issues, all the candidates and a discussion with the best political team in the business is coming up tonight.



CLINTON: Are you ready for change? Are you ready for quality affordable health care for every American? Are you ready for a new energy policy on a day that oil has hit $100 a barrel? Which it just did? Are you ready to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home?


COOPER: On the eve of Iowa, Hillary Clinton there hitting the political hot buttons for Democratic voters playing to her audience. If all this buzz about Iowa has become political noise for you, tonight we're trying to cut through that. Looking at which issues are important to voters and stacking them up against what the candidates are saying and doing.

The top issue for Democrats in Iowa, Iraq. In a new poll from CNN and opinion research, more than one-third of Democratic voters say the war is their number one concern. Next up, the U.S. economy and health care. Just what are the candidates' records? Joe Johns tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By far, Iraq is the top concern here in Iowa among Democrats. Hillary Clinton voted for it, but now she says she wouldn't.

CLINTON: I have said that as soon as I am inaugurated, I will ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense, my security advisors to give me a plan so that I can begin to withdraw troops within 60 days.

JOHNS: Ditto John Edwards. He voted for force, now regrets it, and now wants the troops out ASAP. Barack Obama feels exactly the same, except that he spoke out against the war before it started.

OBAMA: We have to end the war in Iraq. It costs us 9 billions to $10 billion a month.

JOHNS: "Keeping Them Honest," that gives Obama bragging rights with the antiwar crowd, but other than that the top three Democrats are pretty much in lockstep. Health care, Clinton wants to mandate, a Washington word for force, health care coverage for all Americans. And anyone who can't afford it would get taxpayer money to help out.

Obama would create a national health care program for anyone who can't get one at work. Edwards puts the burden more squarely on employers, either provide insurance or help your workers pay for it privately or else.

EDWARDS: Tonight, 47 million people in America will go to bed knowing that if their child gets up in the middle of the night sick, they're going to have to go to the emergency room and beg for health care. While the CEO of one of the biggest health insurance companies makes hundreds of millions of dollars.

JOHNS: Three candidates, two issues. And while they may differ on the details, the goals are the same. Good luck choosing. Joe Johns, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper now at the Democratic field with experts from the best political team in television, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, he had advised several past presidents, Republicans and Democrats including Bill Clinton and Gloria Borger is also senior political analyst with CNN.

David, according to our latest CNN poll, Clinton is considered the best candidate to handle the top three issues; Iraq, the economy and health care and yet she finds herself, probably much to her chagrin, in this dogfight with Obama and Edwards. Why isn't that alleged expertise in people's eyes translating into support?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, partly because I think that all three candidates do have, as Joe Johns has just reported, very similar positions on the major issues. They put similar emphasis; they want to have the government take the lead on health care, for example.

But partly I think that this race in Iowa, for the Democrats, is not turning as much as it is for Republicans on the issues themselves. It's turning more on personalities, and it also, you do find among the candidates a difference among the Democrats on how they would approach the issues.

You know, Edwards is taking a very strong view, being confrontational, you've got to smash the corporate interests. And Obama is taking just the opposite view, we want to sit down with business, we want to sit down with the pharmaceuticals, and Hillary is somewhere in between. They are getting a choice on what kind of philosophical approach.

COOPER: So personality is perhaps as important as any specific issue.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It does. And when you talk to people in Iowa, as I did, you ask them about these qualities of the candidates, the toughness of John Edwards comes through, "He's going to fight for me." And with Hillary Clinton, some Democrats I talked to said, "You know, we think she's a little too partisan. We want to get post-partisan. We want to work with Republicans." And Obama, somewhere in the middle of that.

GERGEN: Well, I think Obama is more the post-partisan. When we talk about post-partisan often we think about Arnold Schwarzenegger in California who sort of seems to transcend parties. That's what Obama is trying to, you know, sort of come forward. I'm going to be someone who's going to get beyond the fights of the past. And Edwards has said, no, no, no, you've got it wrong. The only way to win is you've got to fight harder.

BORGER: And don't forget electability is a big issue here because Democrats above all else want to get the White House back. And when Hillary Clinton says that she knows how to beat Republicans it's something they take seriously.

COOPER: The fact that things are going better in Iraq in terms of the military side, not the political side, but the military side of it, has that changed the extent to which they're talking about Iraq on the trail, has it changed Iraq as an issue?

BORGER: Absolutely. Politics is a lagging indicator. And if people think that the surge is working in Iraq, which people do, then the issue of Iraq is going to come up less.

And also, as Joe Johns just pointed out, the differences among the candidates on the Democratic side is very incremental. When would you get the troops out? How would you do that?

Everybody wants to get the troops out of Iraq. It will be a huge issue in the general election, but right now I think it's a little more limited for the Democrats.

COOPER: And Hillary Clinton has been able to overcome her critics on Iraq from early on.

GERGEN: I think she has, Anderson, by and large. It took a while, and she stumbled around on it for a while. Now, she and Barack Obama and John Edwards are on essentially the same place in Iraq.

If anything, Edwards in the last 24, 48 hours, "New York Times" had a big piece this morning said he wants to get all the troops out within ten months basically. And she and Barack Obama want to leave some contingent in there for training purposes.

COOPER: We're going to have more from David and Gloria a little bit later on this hour. Up next, the other side of the aisle, the Republicans and their top concerns. Take a look.

COOPER: Immigration, terrorism, and the economy. What the top GOP candidates have to say on the issues that matter to their party. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

And up close, Mike Huckabee and the evangelical factor.

HUCKABEE: Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me.

COOPER: A former Baptist minister with the support of Christian conservatives. Can they turn prayer into votes? When "360" continues.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president of the United States because I think we face a transcendent challenge of the 21st century in the form of radical Islamic extremism. This is an evil that wants to destroy everything we stand for and we believe in.

COOPER: John McCain there, highlighting one of the GOP's top campaign issues, terrorism. As you might guess, Republican voters in Iowa have different priorities on their radar screens than the Democrats.

A new poll from CNN and opinion research shows the weakening economy is top of mind for GOP voters followed by immigration and terrorism. As for how the voters' concerns stack up against their records, once again, Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney cut taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it that defines a great --

HUCKABEE: My plan to secure the border.

JOHNS: Ads making you dizzy? Here's a quick guide. Feel free to apply directly to the forehead. The latest CNN poll says number one for Iowa Republicans, the economy.

HUCKABEE: We have a system of taxes that penalizes you for your productivity. The harder you work, the more the government wants out of you.

JOHNS: See that building? It's the IRS. If Mike Huckabee was president, it would be gone. That's right, no income taxes. No IRS. Instead, you'd pay a national sales tax.

Mitt Romney wouldn't go quite that far. He'd make the Bush tax cuts permanent, get rid of the estate taxes, cut down capital gains taxes, and take a look at a national sales tax. "Keeping Them Honest," the president doesn't determine tax policy, congress does.

On immigration, Huckabee's for the Bush plan to provide a path to citizenship for some illegals. And he thinks any plans to deport them all are just unworkable. Which leaves the no compromise wing wide open for Mitt Romney.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I want them to come here legally, and illegal immigration is a burden, and that is something I will stop.

JOHNS: He opposes the Bush guest worker program. And he says the only way illegals should be able to apply for citizenship is to go home and do it again legally.

Joe Johns, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.


COOPER: Well, we're digging deeper on the Republican side of the fence. Our political gurus join us again, CNN's David Gergen and Gloria Borger.

It's interesting, David, Mitt Romney has the advantage on a lot of these issues in terms of the polls, where people are, where people's heads are at on the Republican side. And yet he finds himself in this going toe to toe to Mike Huckabee.

GERGEN: Well, it is interesting, isn't it? I think it is in part because he is so close to everything the polls show, that there's a sense that his answers, his views on things are dictated by polls rather than what he truly believes.

COOPER: Is that the equivalent to Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side?

GERGEN: Yes. Each one has an authenticity problem with voters, a perception that they're tailoring their remarks; they're tailoring their stances to favor -- to cater to voters. You know, to massage the erogenous zones of the voters.

BORGER: A Clinton/Romney race would be really interesting because they both have the same problems. They would kind of cancel each other out in that sense, you know?

COOPER: It's interesting, though, in all of this, in Joe Johns' piece, you don't hear the name Rudy Giuliani's mentioned at all. So much media focus now on Iowa where Giuliani really is not a player. His strategy all along has been Florida is the firewall, doesn't matter what happens early on. Is that a mistake now?

BORGER: Well --

COOPER: Or is it just because we're focused on Iowa, that, you know, it will be borne out?

BORGER: All of the above. COOPER: We don't know.

BORGER: We really don't know. I mean, I think looking at it right now, I would have to say that Rudy Giuliani would have been a lot better off if he had been competing. Maybe not in Iowa where he knew the evangelical Christians would not support him. But in New Hampshire where Rudy Giuliani would have had a shot at some of those independent voters that John McCain is looking at.

And on all of these issues we've been talking about, on the economy, on immigration, on terrorism, particularly terrorism for Giuliani, that's his strong suit, and that's important to Republican voters. So I think he should have.

GERGEN: If Mitt Romney wins tomorrow night in Iowa, I think Rudy Giuliani's decision not to go into those early states is going to turn out to be a terrible mistake.

COOPER: He will have the momentum that Giuliani does not.

GERGEN: If Huckabee comes out and beats Romney, then McCain does really well in New Hampshire, it's a wide-open ball game and Rudy's strategy may come out to work for him.

GERGEN: To be fair to the Giuliani people, they never thought of Mike Huckabee, nobody thought of Mike Huckabee going anywhere.

GERGEN: Issues do make more of a difference in distinguishing the candidates and how voters are going on the Republican side. And what you see, Anderson, is a fracturing of the old Republican, the old Reagan coalition.

Rudy Giuliani does not speak to social conservatives, and that's one of the reasons he didn't go into Iowa. Whereas Mike Huckabee speaks to the social conservatives, but a lot of the economic conservatives really dislike his economic plans. They think his tax increases are -- and it is similar with Mitt Romney, he's used to the poll numbers, but then people think, but would he flip his positions?

COOPER: There's some talk that Mike Huckabee has peaked too soon. But is his support something that maybe just doesn't show up in polls? Do we know who his people are?

BORGER: We do know. We don't know. We don't know the depth of their support. We do know that he's risen very, very quickly, and there has to be a reason for that. Part of that is the authenticity issue we were talking about.

COOPER: Right. Out of the YouTube debate, he had a huge wave of sort of authentic appeal.

BORGER: Right. You know, and that does appeal to voters in these primaries, and on the issues, though, Huckabee does have some problems with real conservatives, particularly on taxes.

Immigration, I might add also, is the real wedge issue among Republican candidates because John McCain would be doing, I believe, a lot better in Iowa, even though he's not campaigning there, if he hadn't supported the president's immigration reform plan. And he's being penalized for that in the Republican Party.

GERGEN: I think Huckabee had a real chance to take off, and it's not that he peaked too early, but that once attention turned to him, he started doing strange things. First place, his responses to the Bhutto assassination, you know, what we ought to do about Bhutto is we ought to build a fence between us and Mexico, it was like what?

People don't talk that way. He's not been in the loop on a lot of foreign policy questions. To run off and do -- to start that ad and go to Arkansas to make an ad and then pull the ad and then show it to the press took a pause among reporters. And there's been a weirdness factor here that I think has startled a lot of reporters. And I think it's probably going to hurt him with a lot of the voters.

BORGER: He doesn't seem ready.

COOPER: Not ready for primetime.

BORGER: Not really.

COOPER: Interesting. Gloria Borger, appreciate it. David Gergen as well. Thanks very much.

Check out the "360" blog to see David Gergen's dream and nightmare scenarios for each of the candidates out of Iowa. It's a great blog. Go to You'll find insights also from 360's correspondents and contributors. So much more than what's just on television.

Issues are important, of course but so is character as we have been talking, especially to Christian voters, so called value voters. This important voting block went looking for a candidate and they'll wait. And they seem to have found their man in Mike Huckabee.

Up next we'll look at what some are calling the Jesus Factor up close.

And another story we've been following. Was Tatiana the tiger, teased and taunted before that fatal mauling at the San Francisco Zoo? Items found inside the enclosure may offer new news. We'll be right back.

And as we go to break, John Mellencamp is playing at a John Edwards rally in Iowa, one of the many scenes we'll be watching over this next hour. We'll take you to break with John Mellencamp.



HUCKABEE: Wouldn't it be something if Iowa proved that the people of Iowa cannot be bought, that they can't even be rented for the night. That they in fact will stand on their own feet by their own convictions and they will vote for somebody who can lead this country not because he can raise money, but because he can raise the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans.


COOPER: Mike Huckabee there. Call it the Jesus factor. For many Christian conservatives, one candidate's beliefs trumped nearly all other issues riding high in the polls, be they health care, war, immigration or even the economy. And in Mike Huckabee, an ordained southern Baptist minister, many have found their man.

Here's Gary Tuchman up close with evangelical voters.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At Grace Church in west Des Moines --

PASTOR BILL DEVLIN, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Are you with me? Keep the down beat.

TUCHMAN: They're rapping the bible.

DEVLIN: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the story of Jesus, and then move on.

TUCHMAN: And spreading the word in an all-out battle for evangelical votes.

DEVLIN: We want to ignite people of faith when it's coming to involvement in the caucuses, amen?

TUCHMAN: Evangelicals make up a huge 40 percent of Iowa's likely Republican caucus-goers. And the rise of Mike Huckabee --

HUCKABEE: Faith doesn't just influence me, it really defines me.

TUCHMAN: -- has many Christians enraptured.

MARYLYS FOSTER, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I will search my heart and need to go with the guy that's for Christ.

TUCHMAN: Many Iowa Christian conservatives are telling us issues are important, but the character of a fellow evangelical, a former minister, no less, is irresistible.

PASTOR BOB DEEVER, GRACE CHURCH: Anybody who gets in the White House is going to have to learn a lot of things. But one thing you can't learn and be taught is how to be a follower of Christ.

TUCHMAN: Pastors are cajoling their congregations to vote their values.

When the righteous rule, the people rejoice.

TUCHMAN: To preserve their tax-exempt status, places of worship cannot explicitly endorse candidates, but there is no stopping implicit endorsements. The words from the pulpit often being the equivalent of a wink.

PASTOR MIKE ROSE, FIRST FEDERATED CHURCH: I'm always going to look at the sanctity of human life. Does the candidate stand scarily in that area? I'm always going to be looking at the issue of marriage; one man for one woman.

TUCHMAN: Pastor Mike Rose presides over Des Moines's First Federated Church.

So you're not giving your congregants a name.

PASTOR ROSE: That is correct.

TUCHMAN: But you're saying life's important to me, traditional marriage, that obviously eliminates the Democrats, Rudy Giuliani, too.

PASTOR ROSE: Well, it certainly does eliminate certain candidates; they've made their positions known.

TUCHMAN: So if they agree with you, they shouldn't vote for those people though, it's fair to say?

PASTOR ROSE: I would say if they're in agreement with me, they won't be voting for those people, that would be correct.

TUCHMAN: The pastor's pick?

PASTOR ROSE: Mike Huckabee.

TUCHMAN: But at Mitt Romney's headquarters, top Christian leaders are lobbying Iowa pastors.

JAY SEKULOW, CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: What I'm trying to do is get our position out there so that it's clear that we've got an alternative here. We're not electing a theologian-in-chief.

TUCHMAN: And Romney supporters are trying to neutralize an issue that appears to be helping Huckabee. Many evangelicals are troubled by the candidate's Mormon faith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have a hard time voting for a Mormon candidate.

TUCHMAN: A hurdle for Romney as he seeks the support of his party's most sought after constituency.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.


COOPER: I want to show you some live pictures now of some of the campaign events we have been watching over the course of this hour. On the left-hand side of your screen, you see Elizabeth Edwards, of course, wife of John Edwards; John there standing. Senator Edwards standing behind her; their children on the stage as well.

And on the right, a crowd waiting for Hillary Clinton to arrive; she is anticipated any moment. Just two of the campaign events in these final hours before the Iowa caucuses, all the candidates in a full-court press with their family members trying to get out the vote as much as possible and get people to go to those caucuses tomorrow night.

Still ahead tonight on the eve of reopening its big cat exhibit, the San Francisco Zoo says it may have new clues on what led to a fatal mauling on Christmas day.

And he survived a gruesome encounter with a bull, but the multiple wounds this guy has have him rethinking his plans in the unusual animal tradition. That's our "Shot of the Day" next.


COOPER: Coming up in our "Shot of the Day," we need to warn you that some viewers might find it too graphic to watch. It's from an annual bull festival in Colombia. The way this guy hopes to start off the New Year. We'll get to him in a moment. He did survive.

First, Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News and Business. Erica?

HILL: Anderson, new developments tonight in the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. Police are looking at whether a branch and rock and tree branch found in the tiger den may have been used to taunt the tiger before it killed a 17-year-old and injured his two friends.

Meantime, the zoo is scheduled to reopen tomorrow with new security measures, which includes raising the wall around the habitat about 6 1/2 feet bringing it up to 19 feet. The big cat though will not be on display.

The justice department is opening a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed an outside prosecutor to oversee the case. The agency acknowledged last month it destroyed videos of officers using top interrogation methods on two Al-Qaeda suspects.

Near Henderson, North Carolina, about 50 people were taken to hospitals after the collision of a greyhound bus and a tractor trailer. As least two of the injured, a bus driver and an elderly female passenger were said to be in critical condition.

Definitely not a great start to 2008 for investors. Stocks tanked on the first trading day of the New Year. The Dow Jones industrial average dove 220 points to close at 13,043. The Nasdaq fell 42. The S&P posting a 21-point decline, Anderson.

COOPER: Not a great way to start off the year, but we'll see.

It wasn't a great start to 2008 for this guy. Take a look at him. He ushered in the New Year with the way many of us do with a bull fight. It's our "Shot of the Day," and it's a gory one when "360" continues.


COOPER: Time now for "The Shot" today. And we want to warn you it's graphic, and for some viewers maybe too painful to watch, but the guy does survive. It comes to us from an annual bull festival in Colombia, hundreds of people getting down in the ring nose to nose with the mighty beast.

Take a look at this guy; hard to believe as you watch that. That is a man, it's not a dummy. He's being tossed around like a rag doll.

HILL: How does anybody survive that?

COOPER: More than once, at least five times that we can count.


COOPER: He was gored in the face, the neck, the legs and the abdomen. Turns out this guy's no newcomer to this so-called game. He told a reporter he's been gored 55 times in the last four years.

HILL: What?

COOPER: He says now he thinks it may be time to throw in the towel or the bull or whatever.

HILL: You think?

COOPER: There he is.

HILL: Maybe?

COOPER: Giving an interview. Incidentally it's worth mentioning that an average of 20 participants die every year in these Colombian bull festivals. In fact, the only certain survive is El Toro himself, the bull, because in Colombia it is forbidden to kill the bull. Bizarre.

HILL: I'm not going to comment. I'll get in trouble.

COOPER: Just move along. We want you to send us your shot ideas, if you see some remarkable video, tell us about it, We'll put some of the best clips on the air.

Well, more "360" in a moment.


COOPER: For international viewers CNN Today is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up. We'll see you tomorrow night.