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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Actor Heath Ledger Dead at 28; Manhunt for Fugitive Marine
Aired January 22, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The news came as a shock, actor Heath Ledger found dead. At this hour, the details are still unfolding. Just ahead tonight, we'll have latest developments in the story including what was found near Ledger's body just hours ago. And why police believe his death may have been an accidental overdose.
We'll also talk to Dr. Drew Pinksky about it.
Also ahead tonight - the slugfest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It started at last night's Democratic debate and it has continued on the campaign trail today. The attacks nasty, at times personal. But were they truthful?
As the war of words continues today, we're keeping them honest.
Plus a CNN exclusive - in the manhunt for the marine suspected of killing pregnant marine, Maria Lauterbach. A startling admission from the fugitive marine's cousin. He says he saw Cesar Laurean a week ago in Mexico. And today, the FBI released new pictures of the Camp Lejeune marine.
We'll have all of that ahead.
We begin though with the breaking news of Heath Ledger's death. The "Brokeback Mountain" actor was found dead in his apartment in downtown Manhattan today. That's a live picture, a small makeshift memorial has sprung up outside the building. A live picture there of the apartment.
Ledger was just 28 years old and leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter. This was the scene outside the building earlier this evening. We'll show you the swarm of paparazzi gathered as his body was removed by the medical examiner's office. It is a grisly scene as he was taken just a few hours after being found at approximately 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.
As we said police are looking into the possibility of an accidental drug overdose. We'll have more on that in a moment.
And just moments ago, Ledger's father spoke to reporters in Perth, Australia where Ledger is from. He said, "Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life that few had the pleasure of truly knowing him."
We expect to have the video of that family statement in the next few minutes and we'll bring that to you when we get it. Here in New York, CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest on the mysterious death. He joins us from outside Ledger's apartment. Jason?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Anderson, it was a very sad ending to a promising career. Investigators are looking at Ledger's death as a possible drug overdose.
Here's what they say happened. It was at about 2:45 this afternoon, when Ledger's housekeeper and his massage therapist found Ledger's body in his bed. He was naked. He was face down. He was unresponsive.
They tried to revive him. They called 911. Paramedics arrived. They pronounced him dead. A police deputy commissioner described what was found in Ledger's bedroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DEP. COMMISSIONER PAUL BROWNE, NYPD: There are some prescription medicines. We don't have the details on those but they were not scattered around the bedroom as previously reported. There were some prescription medicines that included sleeping pills.
CARROLL: Investigators say there was no sign of foul play. And a short while ago, Ledger's father released a statement saying that his son's death was - quote- "accidental."
An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. Also toxicology tests will be done. Ultimately, Anderson, it will be up to the medical examiner to determine what the exact cause of death was.
COOPER: Jason is this the apartment -- did he live there, was he renting it? Do we know?
CARROLL: what we're told from the superintendent is that he lived here. He was renting the apartment for the past four or five months, unknown who he was renting it from. Apparently, Anderson, he kept a very low profile.
COOPER: And has there been any reaction from friends or family? Do we know anything about his history, personal history?
CARROLL: Well, actually there's been a lot of reaction coming in. From Nicole Kidman who said that she was shocked. From Mel Gibson saying what a disappointing end to a promising career.
Also, Anderson, from his fans -- many of his fans showed up here. One young woman said that she was -- she heard the news, she was in a theater watching a movie. Her mother sent her a text message. She said she immediately started crying. She came down here to where Ledger had lived; brought some sort of a magazine and flowers to leave at the front steps.
So a lot of reaction coming in; not just from his friends, but from Hollywood as well. Anderson?
COOPER: He had just completed the new Batman movie in which he plays The Joker. Does his ex-wife live here or ex-girlfriend; I'm not sure if they were actually married. Does his daughter live here in New York?
CARROLL: That is correct. They live in Manhattan as well, or at least in New York.
What's interesting about that is he met his wife, also an actress on the set of "Brokeback Mountain." A lot of people know Ledger from his Academy award nominated performance of "Brokeback Mountain." Met her on that set; they have a baby girl together, they never got married.
She is said to be extremely upset. The last that we heard from one report is that she's on her way from Los Angeles to New York. Anderson?
COOPER: It is just such an unexpected -- such a tragic end for this young man. Jason appreciate the reporting.
The details still murky to say the least. And as I said just moments ago, we are expecting a statement from the Ledger family from Australia. We will bring that to you as soon as we get it.
We do know that Ledger was taking at least the sleeping drug Ambien (ph) or had been in the recent past. In a November interview with "The New York Times" while filming that Batman movie "Dark Knight," he said, "Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, my mind was still going."
And in the same interview he went on to say he took two Ambien pills which only worked for about an hour. Clearly Ledger threw himself into his work and that kind of effort made a lasting impression in a very short but memorable film career.
CNN's Gary Tuchman takes a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heath Ledger had been landing movie roles since he was 16 years old. But he became a superstar following his performance as a cowboy who had a secret gay relationship in "Brokeback Mountain."
(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
JAKE GYLLENHALL: Going to do this again next summer?
HEATH LEDGER: Maybe not. Like I said, man I was getting married in November. Trying to get something on the ranch, I guess. And you? (END VIDEOCLIP)
TUCHMAN: He was nominated for an Oscar for his performance. And the woman who played his wife in the film, Michelle Williams, became his girlfriend in real life.
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: This is an actor with a lot of heat behind him and somebody who had had a big career ahead of him.
(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP - DARK KNIGHT)
LEDGER: Why so serious?
TUCHMAN: Ledger had just finished filming a Batman sequel called "The Dark Knight" where he plays the Joker. The movie is scheduled to come out this summer.
LEDGER: Because I think guys and chicks are different.
TUCHMAN: He had most recently played in a film called "I'm Not There," in which he played one of the incarnations of Bob Dylan. When he first moved from his native Australia to L.A. when he was 19, he co-starred with Julia Stiles in a teen comedy called "Ten Things I Hate About You."
LEDGER: I was watching you out there. I've never seen you look so sexy.
TUCHMAN: That was it for teen comedies. He became very particular with his roles and appeared in movies ranging from "The Patriot" to "Monster's Ball." He talked to CNN about roles he wanted.
LEDGER: If it's not -- if it's something I've done before, then it's just not worth the time and the effort because it's also tedious and takes you away from living and -- so it -- generally I try and look for something that teaches me something and requires me to do more.
TUCHMAN: Ledger and Michelle Williams had a baby girl who is now two. They lived together in Brooklyn until the couple split up last year. Most recently the 28-year-old actor had been filming a movie called "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" that was scheduled to release next year. Its future is unknown as the fans of Heath Ledger mourn.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: His family is obviously mourning. They're speaking out tonight. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KIM LEDGER, HEATH LEDGER'S FATHER: 3:30 U.S. Time. 3:30 p.m. U.S. Time. We would like to thank our friends and everyone around the world for their well wishes and kind thoughts at this time.
Heath has touched so many people on so many different levels during his short life but few had the pleasure of truly knowing him. He was a down to earth, generous, kind hearted, life-loving unselfish individual. He was extremely inspirational to many.
Please now respect our family's need to grieve and come to terms with our loss privately. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just before you go, can I just ask who you are?
SALLY LEDGER, HEATH LEDGER's MOTHER: The father, mother, sister.
K. LEDGER: I'm Kim, this is Sally. This is Kate.
S. LEDGER: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
COOPER: Obviously an impossibly difficult moment for the Ledger family, Kim Ledger, the father, the mother and sister as well.
We'll have more on the death of Heath Ledger coming up in a moment as we touch on the investigators looking into the possibility of an accidental overdose.
They found prescription medicines, including sleeping pills, by his side. We'll dig deeper with addiction specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky.
And, later tonight, the new twist in the search for a fugitive marine accused of murder. A cousin of the suspect tells CNN he actually paid a visit to Mexico a week ago, Cesar Laurean did. And told him he was just passing by. Exclusive new details - up next.
Plus, you saw the debate and the personal attacks continued today on the trail. We're going to look beyond the insults and keep the candidates honest - when 360 continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP - BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN)
LEDGER: The bottom line is, we're around each other and this thing grabs hold of us again, the wrong place, the wrong time, we're dead.
COOPER: Heath Ledger in the academy award-winning movie "Brokeback Mountain." As we told you, Ledger died in his Manhattan apartment about seven hours ago.
The investigation is just beginning however. And as Jason Carroll reported at the top of this program, authorities are looking at an accidental drug overdose as the possible cause of death.
We won't know, of course, until the medical examiner's report. But Dr. Drew Pinsky joins us to talk about what we know so far. He's an addiction specialist and he treats actors with dependencies on the reality show "Celebrity Rehab." He joins us now from Los Angeles.
DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Thanks Anderson.
COOPER: What do you make of this, Dr. Drew? There's so much we don't know obviously at this point. But you hear there are prescription medicines down by his side, including sleeping pills. He had talked in the past about using Ambien.
PINSKY: Let's recap this a little bit. And I want to say, first of all, stay open-minded that the possibility still exists that this is some sort of medical problem that's not yet been identified. And certainly this is possibly an accidental event.
The problem, though, is that it's very difficult for a young, healthy male to overdose on sleeping pills. They have to take massive amounts. Unless there is other medication being mixed in or some other kind of complication, such as an aspiration, it's very difficult for them to die from these medications.
Now in this case, he was found on his stomach which really makes the possibility of aspiration very low. The other thing that's been brought up is whether or not over-the-counter medication could have been involved with this.
And the reality is over-the-counter sleeping medications, if you take a large amount actually makes you agitated and irritable, not suppress your respirations and make you unconscious.
So it's not all fitting together. We are really still in the very speculative stages of trying to understand why this tragedy occurred.
COOPER: And given -- I mean his family is in mourning. I don't really want to go down the road of speculation. But you say prescription medicines in combinations could be lethal with sleeping pills. I don't want to give people ideas out there of naming medicines. How many combinations do you need and what sort of drugs are we talking about?
PINSKY: You don't need too many medications, frankly. Let me finish the thought. I mean the over-the-counter medications -- it's actually the Tylenol, the acetominophen that's complexed in with many of the over-the-counter sleeping medication that would be terribly dangerous. But that takes two or three days of kill somebody.
In terms of the routine kinds of sleeping pills and hypnotics that we have out there, if you add that to maybe two different types of a hypnotic and benzodiazepine, you had an alcohol or a painkiller or maybe a cough syrup with a painkiller in it, or opiate in it, now you have got a problem.
Or somebody could accidentally get themselves into trouble. It's a reminder that medication is really, truly dangerous. Whether or not he had developed some sort of a problem with the medication, we really, absolutely do not know.
I mean the fact that he mentioned Ambien a few weeks ago is a concern. The fact that he was agitated and irritable and couldn't sleep, those are psychiatric symptomatologies, but that doesn't add up to a death.
COOPER: The question obviously of suicide comes into play. All my understanding of suicide is it's rare for a male to commit suicide by an overdosing on drugs, usually it's women who do that.
PINSKY: Right, that's right. A completed overdose by a male -- excuse me, a completed suicide by male is usually by violent means, with a gun, that sort of thing.
And by the way, there's no letter. There's no brooding, there's no thought about this. If he had a bipolar condition -- we are into wild speculation now -- but the fact is that bipolars when they are in a manic phase are more likely to impulsively do something that hurts themselves. But again we have no firm evidence that anything like that was going on here.
COOPER: This may be a dumb question, but are actors more susceptible to depressions, to mood swings -- I mean obviously things that compel people to perform and get into acting are often complex.
PINSKY: Right, you're absolutely on to something, Anderson. And in fact, although their industry is built around speculating what celebrities do, why they are the way they are, why they can't find love, what they're doing in their day-in day-out lives, the reality is that the science of this is extremely scant.
In fact, I published the only known data on this because I have access to celebrities through my radio program every night when they would come in to promote their products or their projects on my program. I give them a personality questionnaire, called the narcissistic personality inventory. And we were able to document that those people who need to become celebrities, actors, whatever it might be, do tend to have higher incidence of personality problems in narcissistic spectrum. They have attachment problems and drug and alcohol problems. And yes, that constellation of problems does add up to problems with depression, bipolarity and anxiety.
COOPER: It's also -- in this day and age where there are so many celebrities out there who are parading around in front of cameras at every possible moment and parading body parts and just about everything about them in from of cameras for attention, this is a guy who clearly didn't seek out attention, who was clearly leading a very private life.
And I guess that adds to the shock of this. Of all the people you would think this may happen to, and we all know the names of those people, he wasn't on that list.
PINSKY: Right, he isn't certainly manifesting those constellation of features that were use to associate it with the kinds of self-destructive behaviors we have accustomed to.
And I tell you what he doesn't do. He doesn't invoke it from us a sense of need to kind of tear him down or scapegoat him. If anything, this is guy who we never really built up that high. We sort of acknowledged he was a great talent. But we didn't evoke a need to break him down either.
And that's really where the problem comes from in how we're feeling about this. There's very deep, deep remorse and shock that somebody who seems to be an otherwise healthy person and a true artist is suddenly gone.
COOPER: Yes, I mean he's obviously he's in front of the limelight so there's some desire to be in front of the limelight, but there was a reticence to him. And on the CNN interview he seemed embarrassed to be giving interviews and talking about just focusing on himself.
He just came off as a very likable person and a very real person which just adds to the sadness of it all.
PINSKY: Exactly right, and I think that precisely that's right.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Drew Pinsky appreciate your expertise. Thanks.
We'll have the latest from the campaign trail ahead
And the hunt for the accused killer of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach; it intensifies as his cousin actually tells CNN that he bumped into the fugitive Marine in Mexico just last week. That's coming up.
Bit first Erica Hill joins us for the 360 Bulletin. Erica? ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a major interest rate cut by the Fed before the opening bell on Wall Street didn't give investors much confidence this morning. The Dow fell more than 450 points at the start of the day. At the close, it was down 128. The Nasdaq and the S&P also fell sharply.
A 360 follow-up for you now -- the Colorado man wrongly convicted of murder is a free man tonight. Tim Masters served nine years for that crime, but always maintained his innocence. A special prosecutor says DNA evidence now points to another person in that killing.
And the only survivor of the crash that killed Princess Diana is scheduled to testify tomorrow at the inquest into her death. Trevor Rees was a bodyguard for Dodi Fayed, but has said he has no memory, Anderson, of that crash.
COOPER: Erica, up next, Mitt Romney trying to keep it real on the campaign trail. But some are asking, what was he thinking? You kind of got to see -- have you heard this, what he said?
HILL: No, but I'm looking forward to hearing it.
COOPER: Oh, yes, it's a doozy.
Also later, new developments and new pictures in the search for the Marine accused of killing a pregnant Marine. Investigators say the trail leads to Mexico, where a cousin admits he paid him a visit -- the details when 360 continues.
COOPER: Erica, time for our segment "What Were They Thinking?" When you think a candidate who is down with the people, Mitt Romney may not exactly be the person who comes to mind for some reason, although, for some people, maybe he is. Maybe he's trying to change that.
Watch what he did at a Martin Luther King event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, I get to be up here. Come on. Who has got your camera, though?
Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Oh, my.
COOPER: Yes. Whew! Who let the dogs out? Whew! Whew!
HILL: Hey. Hey.
COOPER: That's right.
HILL: Who let Mitt out? Who? Who? Yeah!
COOPER: Romney was at a Martin Luther King parade in Jacksonville, Florida, yesterday.
He was also caught on tape admiring a child's gold necklace. Here's some more choice words.
HILL: Oh, no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Hey, buddy, how you doing?
ROMNEY: What's happening? You have got some bling-bling here, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. You got some bling-bling here, too.
COOPER: You're wearing a little bling-bling yourself there, Erica Hill.
HILL: Well, you know, I like to mix it up now and then.
HILL: He really did say, you have got your bling-bling on, didn't he?
COOPER: Yes. And who let the dogs out? Who? Who?
And it's not as if the song was playing or someone had that on a T-shirt. It was just sort of...
COOPER: ... hey, who let the dogs out? Whew! Whew!
HILL: You know what? But you're right, that -- there we go. He's just being a man of the people.
COOPER: He's very...
HILL: He's down.
COOPER: He's keeping it real. He's keeping it real.
HILL: Uh, yeah, about...
HILL: ... as real as K-Fed was keeping it at one point.
HILL: But whatever.
Let's see what -- let's...
HILL: Go on with your bad self.
COOPER: Yes. Let's see who let the dogs out on "American Morning." Here's Kiran Chetry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.
Tomorrow on "American Morning": You have heard of blue-collar workers, white-collar workers; but what about a green-collar worker? The phrase has been used by the Democrats on the campaign trail in South Carolina.
We're going to explain exactly what green-collar jobs are and what role they have on the economy and whether or not it's our way out of a recession.
John Roberts and I will see you. It all begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow -- Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Kiran, thanks.
Hey, you got a little bling-bling on yourself there, Kiran.
Millions of you tuned in last night to CNN's Democratic debate. Who? Who? One of the most fiery debates ever, and the fireworks did not stop today. We have the new punches. And we're keeping the candidates honest about what they said last night.
Plus, exclusive new details in the search for fugitive Marine Cesar Laurean and new information about where he is most likely hiding, or at least was recently -- coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't say they were good ones.
CLINTON: Well, you can read the context of it.
OBAMA: Well, I didn't say they were good ones.
CLINTON: Well, it certainly...
CLINTON: It certainly came...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton getting personal at last night's debate, fireworks, to say the least. Those two did not let up on each other today.
And we're going to show you that in a second, but, first, some other major news from the campaign trail.
The Republican field narrowed today, with former senator Fred Thompson dropping out of the race after his third-place finish in South Carolina three days ago.
Five Republican candidates remain in the race, the four top contenders all in Florida today, John McCain there at a campaign rally in Pensacola. He's coming off, of course, two major victories, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Mitt Romney took his message to Naples today, addressing a crowd of hundreds outside the Chamber of Commerce. He's won three contests so far, Michigan, Nevada, and Wyoming, finished fourth in South Carolina, despite heavy spending. No word on if he mentioned bling- bling today in that crowd.
Rudy Giuliani, meantime, stopped by a meet-and-greet in Palm Beach Gardens. He's been blanketing the state for weeks; 57 delegates are at stake in the January 29 primary. And polls show a tight four- way race.
Meanwhile, John Edwards campaigned in Conway, South Carolina, talking to locals at a town-hall meeting, as his rivals continued their war of words today.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He clearly came last night looking for a fight. And he was determined and launched right in. And I thought it was important to set the record straight.
OBAMA: My suspicion is, I bet the other side must be rattled if they're continually saying false things about us, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the verbal brawling between Senators Clinton and Obama erupted in last night's Democratic debate in South Carolina, a fiery night, to say the least, by far the most intense face-off of the presidential campaign. The attacks were personal, at times, ugly, fast. But were they accurate? Tonight, a debate fact-check.
CNN's Joe Johns is "Keeping Them Honest."
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the first thrusts came from Barack Obama, as he compared what he was doing in the 1980s with what Senator Clinton was doing at the time.
OBAMA: While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shipped overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart.
JOHNS: Hillary Clinton did serve on Wal-Mart's board for six years, earning more than $18,000 a year. And Wal-Mart is one of those companies some folks love to hate because of the company's aversion to organized labor and claims that the company treats workers harshly, claims the company denies.
She says she promoted environmental issues, diversity, and involvement of women, but disagreed with many company policies, even gave back its campaign contradiction contributions.
She didn't explain that at the debate. Instead, she hit back, contrasting her battle against Republicans with how he started his legal career.
CLINTON: And I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Resco, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.
JOHNS: OK. Let's unravel that.
Here's what Obama says.
OBAMA: I was an associate at a law firm that represented a church group that had partnered with this individual to do a project. And I did about five hours worth of work on this joint project. That's what she's referring to.
JOHNS: Hold on. He left out a lot, too, especially about this guy, Tony Resco, Illinois fixer, real estate developer, friend of important people in Illinois.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Resco is less known as a slumlord than he is as a political power broker and someone who has very craftily infiltrated Illinois politics.
JOHNS: Resco raised tens of thousands of dollars for Obama, which the senator is now giving to charities. Resco has been indicted for fraud and attempted extortion.
Obama also got drawn into controversy over Resco because of a questionable land deal. When he bought a house in Chicago, Resco's wife bought part of the same property on the same day. Obama has said everything was above board and legal, but concedes it was a mistake. Obama's name has not come up in the investigation. And he's not accused of wrongdoing.
One of the debate's low points came when Clinton made a sweeping assertion about Obama's record, and the crowd let her have it.
CLINTON: Senator Obama, it is very difficult having a straight- up debate with you, because you never take responsibility for any vote, and that has been a pattern.
You, in the -- now, wait a minute. In the Illinois state legislature...
JOHNS: Here's the issue. Obama voted present nearly 130 times out of nearly 4,000 votes back when he was in the Illinois legislature, not the U.S. Senate. His opponents charge, he was weaseling out of tough votes. He says it was political strategy.
OBAMA: Oftentimes, you'd vote present in order -- in order to indicate that you had problems with a bill that otherwise you might be willing to vote for.
JOHNS: Experts we've spoke with in Illinois said voting present there is a pretty common tactic, especially when the bill is guaranteed to pass.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: A lot more to talk about.
Up next, we're keeping the candidates honest on the economy and Iraq. Their statements last night.
Also ahead, an exclusive interview of the cousin of the fugitive Marine suspected of killing that woman, pregnant Marine Maria Lauterbach. He says he got a visit from his cousin just days ago.
Here's tonight's "Beat 360" -- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards, in a lighter moment before last night's debate. There's the cheesy music.
So here's the caption from our staff winner, Julia. "You guys haven't responded to Gravel's text either, right?"
Julia, of course, referred -- I liked it. I thought it was good. Julia is referring to former Alaska senator, Democrat Mike Gravel, who is also allegedly running for the White House.
Think you can do better? Go to cnn.com/360, send us your submission, and we'll announce the winner at the end of the program.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Last night's knife fight, or debate, as some would call it, in South Carolina, was meant to focus on important issues to African-Americans, who make up almost half of the voters in the state's Democratic primary this Saturday.
It was more of a slug fest at times. Two of those key issues, of course - the economy and the war in Iraq. When the candidates weren't taking swings at each other, they did address both issues.
What they said calls for another fact check. We have CNN's Tom Foreman tonight to "Keep Them Honest."
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a comprehensive plan.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the economy, the top Democratic contenders pounded the president's economic stimulus plan.
CLINTON: Everything we know about President Bush's plans would leave 50 to 70 million Americans out.
EDWARDS: There are low income Americans and moderate income Americans.
OBAMA: We could be sliding into an extraordinary recession.
FOREMAN: But "Keeping Them Honest," in sheer dollars, we know the $150 billion proposal from the White House is considerably higher than the $110-billion plan from Clinton. And it appears bigger than what most other Democrats wanted, too.
And the president is signaling he will discuss ways to include those folks that candidates insist are being cut out.
HENRY PAULSON, SECRETARY OF TREASURY: I'm optimistic that we can find common ground and get this done long before winter turns to spring.
FOREMAN: On the war, all three of the top Democratic contenders appear to be changing their calendars. Back in September, they would not commit to having all the troops out of Iraq by the end of their first term.
EDWARDS: I cannot make that commitment.
OBAMA: I think it's hard to project four years from now. And I think it would be irresponsible.
CLINTON: It is my goal to have all troops out by the end of my first term. But I agree with Barack.
FOREMAN: The candidates said back then it would be too risky to suddenly fall out, risky for the United States and Iraq. But now, even though they all insist the troop surge changed almost nothing, they are saying a much quicker exit is suddenly possible.
EDWARDS: And I have said in the first year that I'm president, I will have all combat troops out of Iraq. All combat missions will end in Iraq.
OBAMA: It would be sometime in 2009 that we had our combat troops out.
CLINTON: I hope to have nearly all out within a year.
FOREMAN: "Keeping Them Honest," Republicans will have a name for that shift in the general election - a flip-flop.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: We're going to be bringing in our political panel right now, CNN's Candy Crowley and John King. Also, syndicated talk radio host Joe Madison.
Candy, we just heard Tom Foreman report about how they've revised their timetables on withdrawing troops from Iraq. Are the issues getting lost in all this right now?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they're getting lost in the back and forth that we've seen between the past two or three weeks. But it's different when you go to these town hall meetings. There are issues discussed. They have had policy papers out there. They did give policy speeches sort of early on.
But now we're really in, you know, the metal has hit the road and all that. And they are absolutely in full campaign mode. And what that means is they're going back and forth with each other.
COOPER: Joe, Clinton-Obama continue sniping at each other today. She said he was frustrated and looking for a fight. He said she's willing to fudge the truth.
For your -- for your listeners, does this turn them off the process or does this get them engaged more actively, you think?
JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think right now it engages them. Individuals who support Hillary Clinton thought she did a magnificent job. If you ask my wife, who supports Obama, she thought that Obama held his own and responded accordingly.
But if this continues, particularly into the super -- as they were then saying, Super Duper Primary, then it will start turning people off. And people just won't bother, because they'll look at it as politics as usual. The same old thing with no answers for what I call kitchen-table issues. COOPER: John, you spent time with John McCain today. It came up quite a bit during the debate. All three candidates talked about him as a possible opponent. He addressed that today. I just want to play a quick bite from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I noticed that the Democratic candidates mentioned my name quite frequently. I'm always flattered to be mentioned in a Democrat debate.
But it's pretty clear that they view me as their most formidable opponent. And I agree with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Do you think that's true? Do you think that's who the Democrats want to be running against at this point in the campaign?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some Democrats think Senator McCain's age would give the Democrats an advantage, because he's 71 years old.
But other Democrats say, look, here's a guy who has proven he gets support among Democrats. He certainly has support among independents. In a McCain-Hillary Clinton race, Republicans think that might be their best chance. But it's very early on in the process.
What McCain is trying to do there is play to Republican voters here in the state of Florida and in any state to come who might be thinking about who's the toughest candidate to go up against Democrats.
If the Democrats say it's John McCain, and John McCain can convince Republican voters it's John McCain, he thinks that might happen in the short term.
COOPER: Candy, other big news today, Fred Thompson has called it quits on the Republican side. He did take away votes from -- from Mike Huckabee in South Carolina. Now that he's left, what does mean? How does that affect the other candidates?
CROWLEY: I'm not sure it does. I mean, obviously, it leaves Mike Huckabee in the position of really being the only one kind of representing the social conservatives, or the one that they think best represents them.
But once you get into these larger states, really, Fred Thompson wasn't scoring that much when we come to the February 5 states. I think -- you know, I saw earlier he's about 9 percent of the polls. That's not nothing. But once you spread it out across 50 states, and the states are going to come up against on February, it's not much.
COOPER: Joe, what are you hearing most from your view -- from your listeners now? MADISON: Well, Anderson, I am -- tomorrow morning I'm going to go on the air and call for Howard Dean. And I think it's time even for Harold Ford, as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Conference, the centrist part of the organization, to step up.
Dean needs to start acting as a leader of the Democratic Party and tell these guys to get to issues, such as immigration reform, unemployment among particularly Hispanic and black youth. Real, again, kitchen-table issues.
I am amazed at the fact that Howard Dean and others have not spoken out as forcefully as they should.
COOPER: Let me -- let me ask you about that. OK. There are some who would think Bill Clinton in other races would have played that role as sort of the most famous Democrat out there right now. But obviously, he's campaigning vigorously for his wife. Does it surprise you? Or do you hear from his listeners? I mean, do people think it's appropriate, the level that he is campaigning for his wife? The role he's playing?
MADISON: Are you talking to me?
MADISON: I mean, he's sort of like a boxing promoter. What's the boxing promoter?
COOPER: Don King?
MADISON: That's the analogy I'm making. He's the Don King of this thing. He is just agitating, agitating, agitating. And I think -- I think he's going to have to, as somebody said, cool it. He's got to cool his heels or he's going to turn a lot of people either off or towards Obama.
Joe Madison, John King, Candy Crowley, appreciate all your comments. Thanks.
MADISON: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next tonight, he could be the first man at the side of his wife, a president. Right now, he's the campaigner in chief, as we were just talking about.
Bill Clinton rolling up his sleeves, jumping into the fight. Is he playing fair, however? We're going to examine that.
Also Cesar Laurean. His cousin tells CNN he saw the fugitive Marine in Mexico. We have the exclusive interview and new developments in the manhunt.
And a little later, a NASA photo that some say maybe looks like a guy walking along Mars. Could it be? We'll examine the photo and decide for yourself. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. CLINTON: You talk about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
OBAMA: Your husband did.
H. CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...
OBAMA: I can't tell who I'm running against.
H. CLINTON: You know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us, and I'm proud of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More on last night's debate. One of the -- well, it was a fascinating exchange, to say the least. Barack Obama said he couldn't tell who he's running against, Hillary Clinton or her husband.
She praises President Clinton's role in the campaign. But what is exactly his role? And is he doing more harm than good?
CNN's Candy Crowley has the "Raw Politics."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Hillary Clinton.
CROWLEY: With the South Carolina primary four days away, Hillary Clinton took off for California.
H. CLINTON: California will have the most delegates and the biggest primary on February 5.
CROWLEY: Sounds like a candidate ceding the territory in South Carolina. But look who she left behind - it's super surrogate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... appreciate you. Bill Clinton.
CROWLEY: Dateline Akon.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think she's the best prepared candidate for president I've ever had a chance to vote for.
CROWLEY: He is well loved, draws a crowd and makes headlines. It is the beauty of being Clinton - you can be in two places at one time.
B. CLINTON: It is probably the next best thing, because I can talk about her and her positions. CROWLEY: Mr. and Mrs. Clinton are giving running-mate a whole new meaning. The full force of Clintonville has come down on Barack Obama. Double trouble.
OBAMA: There's a set of assertions made by Senator Clinton, as well as her husband. Senator Clinton says -- President Clinton that I wasn't opposed to. When Senator Clinton or President Clinton asserts that.
CROWLEY: Lately, the dynamic duo has been asserting that Barack Obama praised Ronald Reagan's policies. Bill Clinton accused Obama of saying that Reagan was a better president than he was.
It did not go exactly that way.
OBAMA: I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it.
CROWLEY: When Obama challenged her at the debate, she stepped around it.
H. CLINTON: You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.
OBAMA: Your husband did.
H. CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not.
OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes here.
CROWLEY: And that's the beauty of it. If her husband misses the mark, the candidate can back away.
H. CLINTON: I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. I'm proud of that.
She is deft, charming and politically savvy, but Michelle Obama is no Bill Clinton.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.
COOPER: Fascinating race.
Up next, new photos and exclusive new details in the search for a fugitive Marine suspected of killing fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach. We'll be right back.
COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, several new developments in the international manhunt for this man, Marine Cesar Laurean, who's been on the run since January 11. He's accused of killing pregnant Marine Lauterbach.
Randi Kaye has been covering the story since it broke, joins us with the new details -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, first tonight, new pictures just coming out, released by the FBI, of Cesar Laurean. Take a look. They were taken within the last eight months, we're told.
Take a look at his tattoos. One is a phoenix rising from the ashes on his left arm; on the right arm, a large tattoo. The FBI says it appears to be a human skull over another image.
Also tonight, we are learning that authorities are really beginning to zero in on this guy.
KAYE: We now know what the FBI has suspected for more than a week. Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean is in Mexico. His cousin tells CNN, Laurean visited him last week in his liquor store.
Juan Antonio Ramos Ramirez says he wasn't aware Laurean was wanted for murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Have you been in touch with your cousin lately?
JUAN ANTONIO RAMOS RAMIREZ, LAUREAN'S COUSIN (through translator): Yes. The other day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He called you?
RAMIREZ (through translator): No, he stopped by.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Cesar Armando, the one who lives in the United States came to see you here?
RAMIREZ (through translator): Yes, just a few days ago last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): And what did he tell you?
RAMIREZ (through translator): Just, "Hi, I'm just passing by." He told me he was here with some buddies for a few days. It's not the first time he's come by to visit.
KAYE: How did Laurean get to Mexico? Tonight, exclusive new details from law enforcement. A source tells CNN Laurean boarded a bus January 11 in Raleigh, North Carolina, then headed for Houston.
From there, he took a bus to Mexico for about $170. He arrived in Guadalajara Sunday. The bus driver told authorities, according to our source, Laurean identified himself as Armando Ramirez, a fourth alias just released by the FBI. Before he crossed the border, this same source tells CNN Laurean mailed three letters to his wife, Christina. Until now, we've only known of one letter, that he allegedly left behind, claiming Lance Corporal Marina Lauterbach had taken her own life in their home and that he buried her in the backyard.
Now, our source says the first mailed letter was sent after Laurean dropped his truck in a hotel. Laurean wrote he'd be on the road and told the wife she can find the truck near a strip mall where they once went together. The letter is post-marked Raleigh-Durham.
In each of the new letters, Laurean told his wife he loves her and cares deeply about their daughter, just 18 months.
One letter is written directly to his daughter. The same source says the letters sound like he's saying good-bye but are mixed with hope they'll see them again.
Also tonight, CNN has obtained this video of a man authorities say is Cesar Laurean, withdrawing cash from the victim's bank account. Watch as he tries to cover the ATM's camera with a cloth.
This video was taken Christmas eve. And this, authorities say, is Lauterbach, eight months pregnant at an ATM, ten days earlier, the day she died.
We've also learned a shoe found at Laurean's house, where authorities believe Lauterbach was killed, is being tested at the state crime lab. Investigators believe a substance on the shoe may be blood.
COOPER: So if they do catch him in Mexico, can he still face the death penalty?
KAYE: I asked the district attorney that tonight, Anderson. And he said Mexico doesn't believe in the death penalty. So he has to agree, actually, to forego that to pursue life in prison if they do catch him, in order for them to extradite him. Otherwise, they wouldn't because of a treaty that we have with Mexico.
Also, he told me they are convening a grand jury in North Carolina. He's looking to get some other charges, trying to be creative about that, though he wouldn't elaborate on what.
COOPER: The latest development with Randi. Thanks appreciate it. We'll stay on it.
coming up, "The Shot of the Day." It's from Mars. Take a look at it. It's kind of mysterious. Some see a man walking on the red planet. Could be a rock formation.
We'll take a closer look. You can decide for yourself. Maybe a Sasquatch. Who knows?
First, Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin. " Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, a federal judge has sentenced Jose Padilla to 17 years and four months in prison. Now, keep in mind, he could have gotten life, but he was found guilty last August of plotting to support overseas terrorism and Al Qaeda.
Padilla's lawyers say they will likely appeal.
President Bush says he's confident Congress and the administration will reach a deal on an economic stimulus package. The president spoke with the Federal Reserve do its part to try to jump- start the economy, announcing a major interest rate cut early this morning, three quarters of a point, though that didn't seem to win over Wall Street.
And the envelope please. The Oscar nominations announced. "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will be Blood" are up for eight awards each, including best picture and director.
Daniel Day Lewis is also up for best actor in "There Will Be Blood," Anderson.
COOPER: Both excellent movies. A lot of blood in both movies, though. Anyway...
HILL: There will be blood, apparently.
COOPER: There will be, and there was.
Tonight's "Beat 360." Here's how it works. We put up a picture up the 360 blog. We cue the cheesy music. Erica sort of dances a little. And we asked people to come up with a caption that's better than one of ours.
Tonight's photo, it was all smiles before last night's Democratic debate in South Carolina. So here's the caption from the winner on our staff, Julia. "You guys haven't responded to Gravel's texts either, right?"
Referring to the former -- I liked that one.
HILL: I think it's pretty good.
COOPER: Of course, we're referring to Democrat Mike Gravel, former Alaska senator, who is running for the White House., kind of. But he's basically -- sort of not really.
Tonight's viewer winner is Laura in Honolulu. She says, "Oh, here, I've got one -- wait for it -- President Huckabee."
Check out the other ideas at cnn.com/360. And feel free to play and dance along.
And "The Shot of the Day" is next, Erica, a photo from the red planet getting a lot of attention, especially on the Internet. Check out this photo. Is that a man on Mars? Is it Sasquatch? What is it? We'll let you be the judge when 360 continues.
COOPER: Erica, time for "The Shot of the Day." This one from NASA. Take a look at it. It's the Mars explorer "Spirit" sent back this image from Mars four years ago. I know. The photo is creating a lot of excitement, particularly on the Internet. Is that a man on Mars? A guy walking, strolling along casually or kind of running in a Sasquatch kind of way?
HILL: It could be a sort of -- you know, sort of Cro-Magnon Neanderthal.
COOPER: I know. With the wide shot on the left, that's obviously the blow-up version. Of course, it could just be a rock outcrop. I'm sure that's what it is.
HILL: It could be. Maybe it's "The Rock."
COOPER: It could be "The Rock" on Mars. To me, it reminds me of those old pictures of Sasquatch you used to see.
HILL: I have a friend who hunts Big Foot very seriously.
HILL: Yes, he does.
HILL: No. I think he would like it to be professional. He's actually kind of a comedian. But for real, he believes very firmly in Big Foot. And he goes on a lot of Yeti searches. Don't laugh; it's true. He does.
COOPER: Why is a Sasquatch called a Yeti?
HILL: I don't know. I'll ask Scott; he will tell us.
COOPER: So wow, I'm fascinated. We should have Scott on the program some time.
HILL: He'd probably love it.
COOPER: Given a weekend, a long weekend, he might take four days off from work and go look for him?
HILL: He would probably go, you know, into the mountains of North California or, you know, Washington. Wherever, you know, he is that day, wherever Sasquatch may be. That's where you'll find Scott.
COOPER: There you go. If you see some amazing videos, tell us about it -- cnn.com/360. You can go there to see all the most recent shots and other segments from the program. You can read the blog, check out the Beat 360 picture. You can even search for Sasquatch at cnn.com/360.
For our international viewers, CNN Today is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up.
Thanks for watching. Have a good night.
I'll see you tomorrow night.
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