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Major Endorsements for Two Presidential Candidates; Obama's Alleged Association with Chicago Slum-Lord; Economic Stimulus Plan; Fountain of Youth

Aired January 24, 2008 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news tonight. Just before we went on air a major endorsement for two presidential candidates. This evening "The New York Times" endorsed John McCain as the Republican presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton as the Democratic.
Here's what the paper said about Senator Clinton -- quote, "Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, power intellect show she is fully capable of leading the nation. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House."

And here's what "The New York Times" said about Senator McCain in their endorsement -- quote, "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. Why, as a New York based paper are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? Mr. Giuliani's arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking. The Rudolf Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business."

Not just an endorsement of John McCain, a major punch to Rudy Giuliani. In this high stakes race, the announcement tonight from this paper is a major coup for both candidates and comes at a crucial time.

In less than 48 hours, the Democrats, of course, face off in South Carolina. And for the Republicans, the next key race is next Tuesday in Florida. We're going to focus in depth on the Republicans later in this hour.

For the Democrats, while they have to keep one eye on California and New York and other states that are going to vote on Super Tuesday, the race is on tonight in South Carolina. And that is where our coverage begins.

It has been a nasty week there, starting with the slugfest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at Monday's debate and since then the charges and countercharges have been flying. Every few hours it seems like.

Tonight, both campaigns seem to be throttling back but for how long and to what effect remains to be seen. Our coverage begins by looking into the Clinton campaign, their latest strategy and the way that Hillary Clinton has been using her husband on the trail. The former president at times has been playing rough, rough enough to take some heat of his own. His role is so important that when Hillary Clinton left the state yesterday, Mr. Clinton stayed behind to campaign on her behalf. Unprecedented this race is in so many ways and certainly the way former President Clinton is being used on the trails like nothing we have ever seen.

CNN's Candy Crowley has tonight's "Raw Politics."


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's back. After two days working February 5th states, Hillary Clinton returned to South Carolina. Her campaign dropped a controversial ad and her husband conceded to a concerned voter that maybe the Clinton-Obama food fight ought to end.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's pretty good advice. That's probably good advice for me too. When I was running, I didn't give a rip what anybody said about me. It's weird, you know, but if you love somebody, you think they would be harder.

CROWLEY: perhaps the mood is changing as the South Carolina campaign moves into its final days; the traditional time to return to message.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time we had a president who believes that leading an economic comeback is a full- time, hands-on job. That renews our commitment to a strong and prosperous middle class.

CROWLEY: As the candidate revisited her economic stimulus plan, a Clinton radio ad suggesting Obama is a Republican sympathizer went off the air. It was a quick hit, 24 hours. But the ad got lots of headlines, mission accomplished.

They have a new upbeat one now, it's called "Closer?" and guess who's closing? All nostalgic about the 90's.

B. CLINTON: We created more than 22 million new jobs, moved 8 million people out of poverty and turned our economy around. It's time for another comeback. It's time to make America great again. I know Hillary is the one who can do it.

CROWLEY: Still, campaigns never really chill out as Bill Clinton was so famously advised to do recently. There will be some jabbing, it's just a little more artful.

H. CLINTON: I'm not a show horse, I'm a workhorse.

CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton returns to New York tonight for a couple of fund-raisers, competing in the more than 20 contests, February 5th is not a cheap proposition. But never fear, super surrogate is here, on the ground in South Carolina showing signs of wear and tear.

B. CLINTON: I feel like scrambled eggs this morning, but I'll try to make sense of what I came to do. CROWLEY: Two more days until the South Carolina primary.

(on camera) Before anyone gets too excited about the new mellower campaign trail, by the end of the day, an Obama surrogate was accusing Bill Clinton of manipulating the facts and the Clinton campaign was accusing Obama of not recognizing all the accomplishments of the Bill Clinton years.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.


COOPER: Joining me now is CNN contributor and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Carl Bernstein. His latest book is "A Woman in Charge, A Biography of Hillary Clinton."

You've been talking to a lot of folks. People were supporters of the Clintons who were concerned about the tone and tenor of them on the trail.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, AUTHOR: Well, they're surprised, they're angry and these are influential people in the party is saying that what Bill Clinton is saying and doing is destructive to the party, destructive perhaps to his wife's nomination.

If she gets it, it's worth less. That he's roughing up the best candidate to come along in the Democratic Party in years. And he's gone way over the line and shown too many people that the Clintons will do anything to get where they want to go in the words of one person I talked to tonight, who moved to Arkansas to work for the Clintons in his presidential campaign.

COOPER: That has been a wrap about the Clintons among their enemies.

BERNSTEIN: But now what's happening is people who have long been with them are saying, "This is a terrible thing." We are now seeing a side of the Clintons in our own party that we've seen against the Republican opposition. But they'll stop at nothing, which is, again, what somebody else told me tonight, "I'm surprised."

I've written a book that's been regarded in the "New Yorker" this week and talks about it being sympathetic. I never heard the Clinton's friends and supporters talk about Bill Clinton like this except to say --

COOPER: Why do you think he's doing it?

BERNSTEIN: I think he's out of control in their view. But it's also working. It worked in New Hampshire and there's a short game and a long game here. And the long game is, if he can rough Obama up enough to make the February 5th primaries much more favorable for Hillary Clinton, it will achieve again this notion of the inevitability of her being the nominee.

COOPER: Is it forcing Obama to respond to -- BERNSTEIN: Again, he -- coming up here in the car tonight I talked to a guy down in Washington and he said, "Look, it's knocked Obama off his game." This is usually what a vice-presidential candidate of the opposition party does.

It's extraordinary for it to be going on in a primary campaign by a former president who obviously is the spouse. But it has raised all these questions again. Is this about Clinton's restoration? Their fight to get back in the White House? Or is it about the country?

I think there is concern with -- I know there's concern within the party that this is raising the ugliest of questions about the Clintons that their enemies have raised in the past and that includes their truthfulness. Back to the idea of, when is is really is?

That's partly what we're seeing when we're watching Bill Clinton parse these sentences that Obama supposedly has uttered and yet Bill Clinton has clearly misrepresented --

COOPER: Interesting. They pulled this ad after 24 hours in which they basically and falsely said that Obama -- or suggested, they falsely suggest in this commercial that Obama supports the Republican policies which is not what he said at all.

BERNSTEIN: He didn't say it.

COOPER: But it's interesting they pull it after 24 hours. It has the impact they want it to have and then they get the praise for pulling it.

BERNSTEIN: You've got the point. They get the short-range impact they want and it's the same thing as what happened with the mention of cocaine back in South Carolina a week ago when the guy who uttered that took it back. But by the time he took it back, it was out there.

And the same thing here, but, again, what we're seeing is the war room, you know, refitted for this extraordinary campaign against somebody who is trying to run an inspirational kind of candidacy.

There's a way to go after an inspirational candidacy and say this guy is kumbaya or say this guy doesn't have specifics. But what Bill Clinton is doing out there is very different.

The other thing is he's the most popular, most credible, most beloved figure in the Democratic party and many of his friends think he's lost that luster and he's not going to get it back.

COOPER: Interesting. We'll see. It's fascinating. Two days to go. We'll see what kind of impact this is having.

BERNSTEIN: But it's working to some extent. That's the other thing. But it could backfire.

COOPER: Interesting. The long and the short game. Carl Bernstein appreciate it. Thanks.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.

COOPER: Carl Bernstein wrote about the Clinton strategy on the "360" blog today. It's a great blog. You can read his post and give your own opinion. The address as always -

One other note, a footnote really, Dennis Kucinich dropped out of the race to focus on getting re-elected to congress.

John Edwards meantime, still a contender was on the trail in South Carolina. He had a full day of events including a rally at a community center in Seneca, his hometown. He's been hitting the state hard, stressing his local ties; that's where he was born, and his commitment to the working class.

Just ahead, we'll shift our focus to Barack Obama and an accusation that Hillary Clinton made in Monday's debate. It is a piece of Obama's past that CNN's Drew Griffin has been investigating. Drew joins me now. Drew?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Senator Clinton brought it up, the so-called slum lord of Chicago tied to Senator Barack Obama. But just who is Tony Resco and which of these two senators is telling the truth about him? We're keeping them honest, coming up.

COOPER: Drew thanks.

Also tonight on "360," these stories --


COOPER: A deal to boost the U.S. economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This agreement is a big win for the American people.

COOPER: The plan waiting for approval, cash payouts to millions of Americans. But will it help you? We break down the numbers.

Plus, seeking the fountain of youth. Suzanne Somers admits to using it. So does Rocky's Sylvester Stallone. But beware.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are serious side effects.

COOPER: Hollywood's obsession with image up close - when 360 continues



SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I said was, is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda. An agenda I objected to because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shifted overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-mart. I was fighting these fights.


COOPER: More heated moments in Monday's Democratic debate on CNN. Barack Obama criticizing Hillary Clinton saying he was working for his community while she was on a corporate payroll.

If you were watching that night, then you know that Hillary Clinton returned Obama's shot, bringing up an alleged association with a controversial figure in Chicago politics.

So tonight, we asked CNN's Drew Griffin to separate the facts from the fiction and tonight he's "Keeping Them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She could have held back but instead Hillary Clinton hit back.

CLINTON: 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.

GRIFFIN: Senator Obama explained it was just legal work on a low income housing project and Tony Resco, just another client.

OBAMA: I did about five hours' worth of work on this joint project. That's what she's referring to.

GRIFFIN: But keeping them honest, there is a lot more to it than that. Tony Resco has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, influence-pedaling and demanding kickbacks from companies seeking Illinois state business. He's given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Illinois political power brokers. He's done multiple real estate deals with politicians, even their wives.

And his indictment has Illinois politicians nervous including officials in the administration of Illinois' governor, Rod Blagojevich. Think of Tony Resco as the Jack Abramoff of Chicago politics.

JAY STEWART, BETTER GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION: That's a close analog, yes. He wasn't a registered lobbyist, as Jack Abramoff was, but in terms of a wheeler and dealer, who had influence over the Blagojevich administration.

GRIFFIN: The investigation has reached closer and closer to Illinois' governor, who has not been charged with a crime. There has been nothing linking Illinois' senator to anything illegal.

So what's this all about? Money, of course. Resco has been a major money raiser in Chicago politics. And he saw a star before the nation took notice.

STEWART: Tony Resco was his first significant campaign contributor. So, you know that certainly helped start Senator Obama's career. GRIFFIN: But the federal indictment alleges Resco was given tainted cash, some illegal, some just unsavory.

(on camera)You guys made the decision that --


(voice-over) Chicago's Sun Times investigative reporter Tim Novak helped label Tony Resco a slum lord. One of Resco's businesses got government loans to develop government housing.

Barack Obama worked on some deals as a lawyer and wrote letters supporting some deals as a state senator. The Sun Times found two thirds of the buildings were foreclosed on, boarded up or both.

NOVAK: The city and state had told us they never had any other low income developer going that bad, that quick and that much.

GRIFFIN (on camera): This is one of those buildings. It does seem to fit the description. At the same time, tenants in this building were complaining about the heat being turned off, the building's owner, Resco, was actually giving money to the Obama campaign.

The senator says he did not know any of this stuff.

Now that he does know, the senator is donating Resco's donations to charity, $86,000 so far. But the bigger embarrassment for Obama was his own land deal with Resco shortly after his election in the U.S. Senate Obama bought this house at $300,000 below the asking price. Perhaps not coincidentally, the very same day Resco's wife bought the lot next door for full price.

Months later, Barack Obama would buy a sliver of the Resco land to expand his own yard.

(on camera) There was nothing illegal about the deal and nobody is alleging that there was anything illegal. But the deal happened at the same time that Resco was knowingly under investigation. And for that, the senator says, whatever the deal was, was boneheaded.

His campaign declined to talk about this story. Senator Obama may regret ever getting involved with Tony Resco.

NOVAK: The problem with Chicago politics is it's hard to stay 110% perfectly clean.


COOPER: Drew is in a very cold Chicago tonight. We're glad he joins us.

Senator Obama is not the only one who's been criticized for having relations with people in trouble with the law. It happens to a lot of politicians. Senator Clinton has also come under fire for, I guess, what some see as improper ties. GRIFFIN: Yes, Anderson, this is the kind of tit for tat that quite frankly, a lot of people are scratching their head why Senator Clinton brought this up.

She of course has her own fuzzy land deal from the past in White Water. She's also got an indicted fund raiser, Norman Hsu, who just went to prison for fraud. In fact, the Clinton campaign has had to return $850,000 in Hsu-related funds from her political campaign.

So you have to scratch your head and ask what is the strategy here? I think really people like Carl Bernstein and some of the other guests who have been telling you the strategy.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, keeping them honest. Thanks Drew.

We're going to return to politics later in the program focusing on the Republican race, which is fascinating as well.

But coming up first, Hollywood stars seeking youth, some big names accused of using performance enhancing drugs and frankly admitting it. We'll look at that up close in a moment.

But first, Erica Hill joins us with a "360" bulletin. Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, new details tonight on the death of actor Heath Ledger. His publicist revealing the actor had been suffering from the flu and was prescribed antibiotics. No illegal drugs were found. The police did say there were six prescription drugs found in the apartment including an anti- histamine, anxiety and insomnia medications.

We also learned today his masseuse called actress Mary-Kate Olson at least twice before calling 911. An official cause of death could take up to two weeks.

In southern California, talk about a wintry mess, a 40-mile stretch of Interstate-5 north of Los Angeles is shut down due to snow and ice. At least 300 people were stranded in their cars and trucks overnight.

And California's supreme court says employers can fire workers for using medical marijuana. The state's high court upheld a company's decision to let an employee go after he failed a drug test, Anderson.

COOPER: Interesting. Erica, all right. Stay with us.

You heard of the battle of the angels. You don't really call them angels, it's girls slapping girls, guys slapping girls, catfights and more. We're asking what are they thinking?

And later, seeking youth with a syringe. Up close tonight, Hollywood celebrities and others fighting aging but at what cost? That's the question when "360" continues.


COOPER: Erica, it's time for "What They Were Thinking?" There's a new soap opera on primetime television in Thailand that's causing quite a stir. Take a look.

It's called "Battle of the Angels."


COOPER: Yes. A lot of slapping goes on. It's all about flight attendants serving up drama. Catfights are a major part of the plot. There are women slapping women, guys slapping women, guys slapping guys. And then there's a lot of stop-over sex, whatever that means. Look at that, boom.

HILL: Oh, there they go. A girl fight. That will make them tune in.

COOPER: Apparently the flight attendant's union is furious about the soap opera, understandably, saying it is ruining their image. In fact the Thai government has scheduled a meeting tomorrow where all the concerned parties are going to air out their grievances.

HILL: Wait, the government is calling a meeting?

COOPER: The government is calling a meeting. Everyone needs to get it on.

HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Yes, exactly. Who knew? It's as if the government here calls the meeting about daytime soaps.

HILL: I could totally see that happening.

COOPER: Ben Bernanke on one side with President Bush.

HILL: And then there's Susan Lucci.

COOPER: Exactly. She's finally getting her due.

Up next, a new plan to jump start the economy by giving cash back to taxpayers' pockets. Not everyone will get a check in the mail. We'll take a look at the fine print and what it means to you.

Also ahead - Sly Stallone playing Rambo again at age 61. Yep, there he is. He says human growth hormones helps him stay young and he's not alone. Is it safe, however?

We'll look at the trend among Hollywood celebrities using some of these substances. We'll get up close tonight


COOPER: We're getting some good news on Wall Street. The Dow closed up more than 100 points; a sign that investors may have a little more faith in our economy, or at least in the stock market. Maybe it's because of the preliminary deal that was reached in Washington today.

Congress and the president were applauding themselves for a plan they hope prevents a recession. The idea basically goes like this, give you money so you can spend it. Sounds simple enough, but is it?

CNN's Tom Foreman reports.


TOM FOREMAN (voice-over): Money on the move makes a healthy economy. People earning, hiring, buying, selling, and a lot of money could soon be on the move to taxpayers under the proposed stimulus package.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This package has the right set of policies and is the right size.

FOREMAN: The center piece is tax rebates. In general, $600 for each person who earns less than $75,000 a year. $1,200 for each couple earning less than $150,000, plus $300 for each child.

Democrats successfully argued for people who pay no taxes, but earn at least $3,000 a year to get $300 also. But they gave up calls for more unemployment benefits and food stamps. Still, no complaints.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is the approach that we are taking. Help for middle class, assistance to business for job creation and helping those who are concerned about the subprime crisis the mortgage crisis in our country.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R), MINORITY LEADER: We looked at a lot of different options.

FOREMAN: Republicans did not want so many people getting rebates but they gave in in exchange for more tax breaks for business.

BOEHNER: I think that we've done our job as best as we can do it.

FOREMAN: Some people in both parties hate the idea of running up the deficit with this plan. But swift approval is expected. And the checks could be in the mail before summer.


COOPER: So the number of refunds is $116 million; that means some people obviously won't get them.

FOREMAN: Yes, some people won't. And basically the people who won't get them are people who make too much money. That's really sort of the cut-off here. There's a little wiggle room on top of those numbers we mentioned there, but it's based on how many children you have and exactly how much more income that you have.

Frankly, if you're a couple with four kids and you make $200,000 a year, you're not getting any money back. If you're a little above the cutoff we named there, not too much, you'll probably get a pro rated amount, not as much. You may not get the full $600. You may get $300 or $100.

That's how it's going to work out. It's a very complex formula right now, like a bookie's bet book right now for the super bowl. It's very complex.

COOPER: And the hope, obviously, is that people spend that money. I guess, the concern is that people are afraid and just hold on to the money.

FOREMAN: Yes, exactly. This whole thing goes for naught if everybody sticks this in the bank or puts it under the pillow, or interestingly enough, if they just use it to pay for things that just cost more.

If people use this to cover extra gas prices for example, you're not really creating any new jobs or any new movement that way. What the government wants people to do is take this money, be excited about it and go spend it, not only for the real effect, but for the psychological effect of everybody saying, "Let's get moving again. I can borrow money from the bank and I can grow my business and hire new employees and my new employees can buy things because they're confident about the economy."

COOPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks very much. You can, obviously, go to and have more about the economy in the blog there; Tom blogging.

Still ahead, the economy was a hot topic in Florida tonight. We'll have some highlights from the GOP debate, which is just about over.

Plus, celebrities in search of the fountain of youth. Sylvester Stallone and it's not just stars in their 60s. We'll go up close inside the billion dollar human growth hormone business.

And here's tonight's "Beat 360," cue the cheesy music. It's a picture of Queen Elizabeth receiving an unusual "thank you" gift. It came from a woman who had received a banana from the queen more than 60 years. That's a banana in her right hand. No, she's not just happy to see you, it is an actual banana. She received a banana from a woman who got the banana like 60 years ago during the war when apparently bananas were hard to find.

So here's a caption from a member of our staff Jack, he says the queen is saying, "I hereby dub you Sir Chiquita Banana, Knight Command or the Victorian Order."

Yes, I know, it was a lame imitation. Think you can do better? Go to Send us your submission and we'll announce the winner at the end of the program.


COOPER: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, arguably two of the greatest baseball players of all time, now linked to a steroid scandal involving dozens of other professional athletes. Of course, allegations of performance enhancing drugs go far beyond the big leagues.

Nowadays, thousands of high school kids are also using them to get an edge on the field. And then there is the entertainment industry. There are reports, unconfirmed, that named several popular stars in a probe involving steroids and human growth hormones, HGH.

Tonight an up close look on a billion dollar industry.

Here's CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): in Hollywood, it's all about image. And relatively young stars could be the latest wave of customers turning to performance enhancing substances.

(on camera) When people come to you, what are they looking for?

DR. ANDRE BERGER, REJUVALIFE VITALITY INSTITUTE: Well, they come for generally two reasons. They want to feel better and they want to look better.

MATTINGLY: At the Rejuvalife Vitality Institute in Beverly Hills, Dr. Andre Berger sees a growing number of stars spending up to $15,000 a year on HGH, an injectable human growth hormone that some patients and doctors claim can reduce fat, build muscle and boost energy.

But where he used to see middle aged patients, Berger is now getting calls from Hollywood 30-somethings wanting HGH and rap artists inquiring about illegal steroids.

BERGER: If they feel that part of being a, you know, a rap star is, you know, looking buff and being -- having big muscles, et cetera, so anything they can do to bring themselves to look like that is just going to enhance the whole image.

MATTINGLY: The Albany Times Union recently reported citing unnamed sources that the rapper known as 50 Cents and R&B singer Mary J. Blige were among celebrity customers allegedly identified in a New York probe of doctors and pharmacists who illegally prescribe steroids or HGH.

The Times Union report did not suggest there was evidence Blige or 50- cent took the drugs. Blige denies taking any performance enhancing drugs. 50-cent has not commented. Neither star is accused of breaking the law. And fans could be taking note.

(on camera) Markers for HGH therapy say it's become more than a billion-dollar a year business. Thanks in part to ageing baby boomers whose are willing to spend big bucks and emulate the stars whose looks never seem to fade. But with this excitement, there also comes some warnings.

DR. JAY OLSHANSKY, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO: There are serious side effects associated with these growth hormones for these individuals, including carpal tunnel syndrome, an elevated risk of cancer, diabetes.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Jay Olshansky has studied anti-aging for 20 years. He says HGH can only be prescribed legally for adults with a growth hormone deficiency, or adults with muscle loss from AIDS. Some critics say HGH is nothing more than a placebo.

OLSHANSKY: I think what many of these entertainers don't realize is all these benefits they can get for free with exercise.

MATTINGLY: But older Hollywood disagrees. Suzanne Somers says HGH helped her make 60 the new 40. Sylvester Stallone, who at 61 is playing "Rambo" again, defends HGH as a way to reduce physical wear and tear.

Dr. Berger says only one in four of his patients has the deficiency and has prescribed HGH as part of a broader treatment program. That leaves many seeking a shot from a fountain of youth disappointed and surprised to learn that all those Hollywood hard bodies still demand good diets and lots of work.

David Mattingly, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: There are no short cuts, I guess.

Up next, Republican presidential candidates fought it out in Florida tonight in the last debate before Tuesday's primary. We'll have highlights and analysis from the best political team on television, next.



MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wasn't in Washington during all this time, so that's one of the reasons they ought to give me a chance. I wasn't there messing this up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you do think that President Bush and the Republicans in congress did not measure up?

HUCKABEE: I don't think you can blame all of this on President Bush. The president also has done, I think, a fine job of making sure that the focus of this White House was also keeping us safe.


COOPER: Mike Huckabee trying to distinguish himself as a Washington outsider in tonight's GOP debate in Boca Raton, Florida which just ended. Huckabee's only campaigned sporadically in Florida five days before that state's Republican Primary.

There are a lot of New Yorkers obviously who transplanted themselves to Florida. Tonight, breaking news as we mentioned earlier - "The New York Times" has endorsed John McCain as the Republican nominee for president and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.

Joining me now to talk about tonight's debate, part of the best political team on television: CNN's chief national correspondent John King who is in Boca Raton covering the debate; Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst who is in Washington; and in Los Angeles, Amy Holmes, CNN political analyst.

John, a very cordial affair in pretty stark contrast to the Democratic debate from the other night.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Remarkable Anderson, if you want to get a degree in economics or learn about how the Republicans like tax cuts, this is the debate to watch. It was very polite. A few sparks back and forth.

They tried to distinguish themselves from the debate going on in Washington. President Bush striking a deal with Democrats in Congress over a stimulus plan by saying they support this package but they want more. The only competition for the most part was between the different candidates saying, "I would cut taxes more." Or, "I would cut taxes in a different way." A remarkably polite affair.

You might say why given the stakes here in Florida? Maybe it was because of the stakes. They didn't want to have the fireworks too much. Because they don't think being negative would work.

COOPER: It is an interesting question that John raises. Why just five days away are you surprised the Republicans didn't throw a few more elbows? At the YouTube Republican date, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani went at each other right from the get-go?

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I was surprised. I was disappointed that it was so civil. Where were the fangs, where were the claws? Because it was so civil, I don't think that any particular candidate really had a dazzling night.

I thought this was a great night for the Republican Party as John King mentioned, getting into the specific policy details about economics. That was an area where Romney was very strong and I think McCain gained a lot of ground in defending his economic record and being for tax cuts and the permanent tax cuts and so forth.

But because they didn't throw elbows when they were given the opportunity, for example, to ask each other questions, a little part of me wondered did Romney throw Giuliani that softball to prop Giuliani up and hurt John McCain? Was some of the civility actually Machiavellian. I guess only the candidates know.

COOPER: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I just don't think that any of these folks really wanted to make a major mistake. Nobody could afford to do that. And everybody played to type.

As John King was saying earlier, everyone wanted to be the conservative on that day. And I think for John McCain, who really had the most to lose tonight because a lot of folks were going to be attacking him, he came out pretty strong; talking about the Iraq war, defending his position against Hillary Clinton on the war.

COOPER: Gloria, I actually want to play an excerpt of what John McCain said about the Iraq war. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, we are succeeding in Iraq. We're going back down to previous levels and we will be able to withdraw troops over time if we succeed.

If we do what Senator Clinton said she wanted to do the night before last, and that's wave the white flag of surrender and set a date for withdrawal, then we will have expenses in American blood and treasury, because Al Qaeda will then have won.


COOPER: I'm not sure Senator Clinton said she wanted to wave the white flag. But was that McCain's best moment?

BORGER: Well, it was -- it was one of those moments where he reiterated to the voters in Florida what he stands for. And any time you can separate yourself from Hillary Clinton and make her the bad guy, then you do yourself a favor.

And John McCain wanted to remind everybody that he was for the surge before President Bush was for the surge. But he didn't like Donald Rumsfeld and the way the war had been conducted. That was a very clear message.

COOPER: John, the economy has obviously emerged as the number one issue. It was the first question asked.

Everyone was asked about their economic plans and whether they agreed with the president's proposal. Who do you think came across strongest on the issue? Who did the issue help the most?

KING: Well, the polls would tell you it's helping Governor Romney at the moment because he not only was a governor, he has the business experience. But I think, Anderson, on the point you just made with Gloria on Iraq and on the point you are asking me about our taxes, what we learned more tonight was not so much about disagreements among these Republicans but about what sharp contrasts we will have once the Democrats and Republicans pick their nominees.

The Iraq war will be an issue. The Democrats will say we want to get out of as soon as possible. All of these Republicans with the exception of Ron Paul say, "No, we have to stay until you have some form of success, if not victory."

On the issue of taxes, McCain came right out of the box saying, "They want to raise your taxes." The Democrats would say, "No, they don't, they just want to take away the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans." But you're going to have a sharp contrast on Iraq, a sharp contrast on taxes, a sharp contrast on the role of government in health care. The only problem is that debate is a ways away. These parties have to pick their nominees first.

COOPER: And Amy to John's point, Mitt Romney was asked about how he would run against the Clintons. Let's listen to the response. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TIM RUSSERT, HOST, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": How would you run against Hillary and Bill Clinton in November?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I frankly can't wait, because the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I just can't imagine. I can't imagine the American people can imagine that. And...

RUSSERT: What does that mean?

ROMNEY: I just think that we want to have a president, not a whole -- a team of husband and wife thinking that they're going to run the country.


COOPER: I'm going to, Amy, get your take on his response. We'll have more with our panel right after this break.

Also ahead, a major development in the case of the fugitive Marine suspected of killing pregnant Marine Maria Lauterbach. We'll have that.

And a new twist on the Tom Cruise video, pulled off some website by the Church of Scientology. It's our "Shot of the Day," actor Jerry O'Connell kind of mocking the whole thing, coming up.


COOPER: We return to our breaking news tonight. As we mentioned earlier, "The New York Times" endorses John McCain as the Republican nominee for president and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. Now, the endorsement broke just before the GOP debate in Florida began. We'll have more on that now.

Joining us again to talk about this endorsement and the debate, CNN's John King, Gloria Borger and Amy Holmes.

Amy, right before the break, we played Mitt Romney talking about how he would run against the Clintons, basically saying Americans not -- doesn't want a couple, you know, trying to run the country.

HOLMES: Well, what he said was he can't imagine Bill Clinton with nothing to do running around the White House. And you know, he threw out that red meat. It got some laughs; it got some applause.

Actually, Romney, of the candidates tonight, probably did the most with that. I mean, he was tactful. He didn't get too much into it. He got the first applause line of the night when he referred to General Hillary, and he was saying that he would, you know, prosecute the Iraq war until America succeeded.

But I think all of the candidates keeping a subdued tone and having their target really be Hillary was their effort to seem presidential. If I were the nominee, I would be going up against Hillary. And I would be the guy to beat her. I think that was part of their strategy tonight.

BORGER: Anderson.

COOPER: Gloria.

BORGER: Anderson, you could see the Romney line. It's going to be the Republican line during this campaign, if Hillary Clinton should be the nominee. They're going to be running against both Clintons, because look at what's going on in South Carolina.

Bill Clinton, for all intents and purposes, has been running for Hillary in South Carolina while she's been gone in some other Super Tuesday states, and you know that the Republican Party will run against the Clintons.

HOLMES: Actually -- actually, I would jump in there, and I would disagree. In conversations with Republican strategists, they're very worried about running against Bill Clinton.

And they tell Republicans not to invoke his name, because it's such a turnoff to voters, that they don't want to be hearing about Bill Clinton, the marriage of Bill Clinton and the scandals and the problems of the 1990s.

So in fact, that's an area that's really tricky for Republicans, in terms of going into a general.

BORGER: I just think that it would energize the Republican base to get out and vote against Hillary Clinton.

HOLMES: Hillary does that quite well enough on her own.

COOPER: John, Mike Huckabee obviously hasn't won since Iowa's campaign, running short of money. A lot of people think it's going to be hard for him to be competitive on Super Tuesday.

How did he -- we have a sound bite about how he talked about running against the Clintons, I believe. Do we have that? Actually, him talking about faith. Let's listen to that.


HUCKABEE: My faith does not give me a queasy feeling; it gives me a solid core from which I'm able to live every day. I don't wake up every day and have to look at a poll to decide what I believe. My faith grounds me. It gives me some sense of direction and purpose.

I don't try to impose it on other people, and I certainly would never use the auspices of government to try to push my faith. But for me to run from it? Impossible.


COOPER: John, I mean, how bad are the financial problems and how significant an impact is it all having on what may happen in Florida and elsewhere?

KING: Well, the financial problems are significant, Anderson. It means he cannot put television advertisements in a big state like Florida where television matters.

But that answer right there was a man who is doing a lot with little money. That is an answer from a man who is already thinking about where this campaign goes next.

He would love to get the evangelical support that is available in northern Florida, where you border Alabama, you border Georgia or across the Panhandle. But he knows he's not going to do terribly well here; maybe third, probably fourth.

What he's saying there when he's talking about his faith again and not running from his faith? A, that's who he is, but B, he's thinking about Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama. There are southern states coming up. They're not big, huge states. But they are the way for Mike Huckabee to stay in this race.

If there's no clear front-runner and this is about delegates, that is the fertile ground for Mike Huckabee, just down the road.

COOPER: Gloria, "The New York Times" endorsed, as we've been talking about, Hillary Clinton and, obviously, John McCain. In the endorsement of John McCain, they went out of their way to criticize Rudy Giuliani. Here's some of what they said.

Quote, "The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square. Mr. Giuliani's arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking."

Giuliani was actually asked about this during the debate. I want to listen to his response.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I probably never did anything that "The New York Times" suggested I do in eight years as mayor of New York City. And if I did, I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican.

I changed welfare. I changed quality of life. I took on homelessness. I did all the things that they thought make you mean and I believe show true compassion and true love for people.


COOPER: For him, I mean, is Florida make or break? I mean, it's an obvious question, but he's put everything into Florida.

BORGER: It is make or break. He's put everything into it. And he will use the fact that "The New York Times" did not endorse him as a badge of honor, Anderson. COOPER: All right. Well, we'll see if that one works.

Gloria, Amy Holmes, thank you. John King, as well.

Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with a "360 Bulletin." Erica.

HILL: Anderson, in North Carolina grand jury has charged a fugitive Marine with first-degree murder. Authorities believe Cesar Laurean fled to his native Mexico following the killing of fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant.

A white 18-year-old charged with a hate crime for dangling two nooses from his pickup truck as he drove past a group of black Jena 6 marchers who were waiting at a bus stop last September.

And singer Amy Winehouse is back in rehab. Earlier this week, video was leaked showing the singer smoking something in a glass pipe right after saying she she'd taken six Valium. Winehouse is up for six Grammy awards, including record and song of the year for "Rehab," Anderson.

COOPER: I got to say, I love that song.

HILL: It is fantastic. The whole album is amazing.

COOPER: Yes. Very bad that she's -- yes, such a...

HILL: I agree.

COOPER: ... such a sad person, I guess.

Tonight's "Beat 360" or "Be 360." In case you haven't heard, we put a picture up on the 360 blog. We ask people to come up with a caption that's better than one of our staff members could think of it.

We have some cheesy music. Erica occasionally dances just a little bit. I hold off from dancing because I'm, you know...

HILL: Because who can top these moves? But we digress.

COOPER: Tonight's photo, Queen Elizabeth receiving an unusual thank- you gift. It came from a woman who received a banana from the queen more than 60 years ago during the war when bananas were very hard to find. So she's returning the favor.

So here's the caption from the winner of our staff, Jack: "I hereby dub you Sir Chiquita Banana, Knight Commander of the Victorian Order."


HILL: Are you Britney Spears? I like the accent.

COOPER: I don't know. I don't know what that was. That was a poor attempt at the queen.

The viewer who won tonight is Vickie (ph) from Ottawa, Canada. Vickie (ph) says, "A banana? No, no, I was asking for one of those fruit phones. You know, those Apple phones, iPod things!"

HILL: Not bad. I got to say there's one on the website, though, that I liked the best.

COOPER: What was it?

HILL: It's the LOL. There's a whole texting thing.

COOPER: Oh, really.

HILL: And then in parenthesis it says, "Where's the 'send' button?" Very cute. Check it out.

COOPER: Yes. All right. Well, check out the other ideas at Feel free to play along.

All right, Erica. "The Shot of the Day" is next. This is great. Actor Jerry O'Connell plays the part of Tom Cruise in the Scientology video that's been getting a lot of play on the web. You can be the judge. Does he -- does he have the mannerisms down? That's "The Shot," coming up.


COOPER: Time now for "The Shot," Erica. This one is getting a lot of play on the Web. It's actor Jerry O'Connell doing his impression of that kind of odd Tom Cruise scientology interview. Take a look.


JERRY O'CONNELL, ACTOR: It is an honor to be an actor. It's a privilege to be an actor. You can just know that someone else is an actor by looking at he or she, because actors usually are hardworking. It is a privilege to be an actor, because you know that you really are no help to anyone.


HILL: Oh, that's crazy.

COOPER: I like the laugh, too.

HILL: The laugh is the best.

COOPER: Exactly. He's got the mannerisms down. It's a pretty good imitation of the Cruise video.

HILL: It is good.

COOPER: The clothes are down, the lighting the same.

HILL: The hand gestures are a little -- those are kind of there, too.

COOPER: I know. And later on he goes like -- which Tom Cruise did a lot during this thing. We don't know what Tom Cruise or the Church of Scientology thinks of the parody. Maybe they'll also get a kick out of it, or maybe they are not.

HILL: I don't know. The one thing...

COOPER: Maybe they'll launch a massive lawsuit against Jerry O'Connell.

HILL: They could, but that would be mean. But they were in what? Was it "Jerry Maguire"? I'm like one of the only people on the planet who doesn't think that's the best movie ever.

COOPER: Really?

HILL: I'm not saying it's bad.


HILL: I'm not saying it's bad. I just don't always.

COOPER: What movie do you like, Erica Hill?

HILL: There are a lot of movies that I like.

COOPER: Name one.

HILL: "When Harry met Sally." It's fantastic.

COOPER: Something pre -- or post-1983.

HILL: I don't get out a lot. I have a baby.

COOPER: Oh, the old baby excuse. Bring the baby to the movie theater.

HILL: I don't even know the last movie I saw.

COOPER: People bring their babies to movie theaters all the time.

HILL: Well, I'm moving to New York. Does that mean he gets to come to the movies?

COOPER: I went to a slasher movie recently and there were people bringing their babies in. It was like midnight.

HILL: You know, the next time I go to a slasher movie at midnight, I'll let you babysit instead, how about that?

COOPER: I didn't really go to a slasher movie at midnight. I really -- I don't like scary movies. I don't go to scary movies.

HILL: I don't either. I hate them.

COOPER: God, when -- when is this segment going to end?

There's the sign. Logon to if you see something and you want to tell us about it.

For international viewers, "CNN Today" is next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up.

Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.