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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mitt Romney Drops Out of Presidential Race; Can McCain Court Conservatives?
Aired February 7, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And if you were thinking politics sure is funny, well, you're right. Maybe not ha-ha funny, but different at least. Where else would the number-two guy in a three-way race drop out before the number-three guy does? Well, that's exactly what Mitt Romney did today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him...
ROMNEY: But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq and finding and executing Osama bin Laden.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And I agree with him on eliminating al Qaeda and terror worldwide.
Now, if I fight on, in my campaign, all the way to the convention...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: ... I want you to know -- I have given this a lot of thought -- I would forestall the launch of a national campaign, and, frankly, I would make it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win.
ROMNEY: Frankly, in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In other words, staying in the presidential race, which he was promising to do just last night, runs the risk of hurting his party, and a simple fact, staying in the simply race doesn't add up.
Let's take a look. Here's the Republican raise as we stand right now. Senator John McCain is somewhere out about here. Here's the finish line to be the Republican nominee, Governor Romney back here. These are still rough allocations, a little bit of work to do, but this is about where the race stands right now.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Governor Romney won every contest still to come. Unlikely that would happen, but, if he stayed in, let's assume this hypothetical. Romney wins them all. Senator McCain gets somewhere in the ballpark with 30 percent of the vote.
Let's see how that would play out. So, Governor Romney is our winner. And we're going to start moving. We have Louisiana to vote. We have Mississippi to vote. We have North Carolina. We have Virginia. We have Maryland. We have Pennsylvania. Now, I'm not doing them in the order they vote, but let's just run through them all, Rhode Island and Vermont, move over to the big state of Ohio. And you see what's happening.
Governor Romney is gaining delegates, and he's getting closer to Senator McCain, but McCain is also inching toward the finish line. So, let's keep going, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin. And look what's happening. Our here now, Senator McCain is way out here. Governor Romney is closing the gap.
But let's go into some other states, out here into the Plains. Take that Telestrator off, and Romney is winning. Assign that to Romney. Romney wins. Romney wins. Romney wins, 1093. Senator McCain's magic number is approaching. Add in Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas, John McCain is your Republican nominee, even if Mitt Romney wins them all.
That is the simple math for Mitt Romney. And he put a lot of money into this race, literally, spending more than $40 million of his own money, in addition to what he raised from donors. But, as you will see right now, as we take a look at some numbers, not a lot of bang for his buck.
The McCain forces have shelled out more than $39 million. They have gotten 714 delegates. Give or take, that translates into about $54,000 a delegate. Mike Huckabee spent just $7 million for his 181 delegates, or $39,000 each. And Governor Romney, his campaign spent $87 million on an operation that got him about 286 delegates, for a whopping $306,000 a delegate.
And that doesn't include millions more spent in the last month, meaning the per cost per delegate are even higher. So, that effectively leaves Mike Huckabee and front-runner John McCain, who spoke today at the same meeting of conservatives that Governor Romney did.
Well, remember "Jerry Maguire"? Governor Huckabee had the conservatives at hello. Senator McCain, on the other hand, is having to work at it, and got started today.
CNN's Dana Bash is covering that angle from Washington.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a speech scheduled to address his conservative critics, but, by the time John McCain walked into the room, the outreach was all the more dramatic.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To the millions of people in our party who supported Governor Romney, I congratulate you. You did a fine job, and you are welcome to join my campaign.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BASH: Mitt Romney at the same podium two hours earlier stepping aside, making McCain's goal of uniting the party behind his candidacy all the more urgent.
But nearly everywhere at this conservative conference, evidence of a tough sell for Senator McCain: in the hall...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man is a RINO, Republican in name only. If you want to know what a -- what a -- what a non-conservative moderate looks like, it is John McCain.
BASH: ... and in the room.
MCCAIN: On -- on the issue of illegal immigration, a position which...
BASH: Some conservative activists even sat in protest, with arms folded, as he tried over and over to reassure them.
MCCAIN: And it is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative.
BASH: But the man who has angered conservatives with his stance on issues from tax cuts to immigration did get several healthy rounds of applause, as he reaffirmed his commitment to conservative principles. And, by mid-afternoon, the new Republican reality was clearly taking hold.
DAVID KEENE, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: I would say, based on his performance today, that it moves from possible to probable, if he continues.
BASH: David Keene hosted this conservative gathering and was a Romney supporter.
KEENE: Most conservatives would end up voting for him. The question is, how enthusiastically will they campaign for him?
BASH: Former Republican Chairman Ken Mehlman, who had remained neutral, released a statement, calling it "time for Republicans across the country to unite. Together, led by Senator McCain, we will work for a better, safer, stronger America" -- that a not-so-subtle signal for Mike Huckabee to exit, too. But he said no. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to be the choice for all those people who don't think Washington has the answers, for all those people who think that somebody who is not a part of that establishment needs to represent our party and the American people.
BASH: But Huckabee is way behind in the delegate race, and doesn't attack McCain, like Romney did. So, McCain's efforts to unify the party will undoubtedly gain steam. And more talk like this is a good start.
MCCAIN: Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I intend to cut them. I will start by making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KING: And Dana Bash joins us now live from Washington.
Dana, Senator McCain and his campaign believe they have made some progress, but, if some conservatives stay home and they are still mad in a year where we have already seen the Democratic enthusiasm and Democratic turnout significantly higher, don't they have a problem?
BASH: Certainly, they have a big problem, because, as we have seen in the past couple of elections, it's basically a 50/50 polarized country.
So, if you have some of the base that are staying home, that could certainly hurt the Republican, if it's John McCain or anybody. But what John McCain's campaign -- in fact, John McCain himself -- I was on his bus with him a couple of days ago, and he was talking about this -- what he says is, we're not going to run George Bush's campaign, in that what he tried to do, remember, John, in 2000, 2004, was really try to galvanize the base in some of these swing states.
He says: I'm going to bank on the fact that I have proven that I can win with independent voters and bring more -- more people into the party.
It's going to defy recent history, but that is more and more what we're going to see and hear from John McCain in the days ahead -- John.
KING: Dana Bash for us at that dramatic Conservative Political Action Conference today in Washington today -- Dana, thank to you very much.
And, a reminder, I will be live blogging throughout the program. Looking forward to the adventure.
Join the conversation at CNN.com/360.
And up next: more on the Huckabee factor, his odds for winning the nomination or the likelihood of a McCain/Huckabee ticket. We will hear from Governor Huckabee's top strategist, Ed Rollins, and, as always, the best political team on television.
Also tonight, do you believe in miracles?
KING (voice-over): Dozens dead, scored injured, and one tiny reason to cheer.
DAVID HARMON, FIREFIGHTER: I shined the flashlight across and said, "I have got a baby doll." Before I got "I have got a baby doll" out of my mouth, it moved.
KING: The story of a baby boy's survivor and the worst night he will never remember and one you will never forget.
Also tonight, out and down in Beverly Hills.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them through. Let them through. Let them through.
KING: Britney Spears out of the hospital -- a new picture emerging of the shady hangers-on surrounding her -- shocking details tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I entered this race because I love America. And, because I love America, in this time of war, I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With those words, Mitt Romney drops out of the presidential race, clearing the path for John McCain.
As we noted earlier, Romney was way behind Senator McCain in the delegate race. Mike Huckabee has even fewer delegates, but he's still running and now angling for Romney supporters.
Joining me now to assess the day's drama and the race ahead, Governor Huckabee's campaign chairman, Ed Rollins.
Ed, let me start with the simple math. I went through the math on the board. Governor Romney, even if he won every remaining contest, and Senator McCain got just 30 percent of the vote, the math shows that Romney couldn't get the delegates to pass McCain. Governor Huckabee is even further back. Why stay in the race?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think -- I think -- first of all, we're down to a two-person race, as opposed to a three- person race.
A lot of these earlier primaries were winner-take-all, were by two or three points. Obviously, if we had had three more points in South Carolina, it would have been a totally different race.
I think, at this point in time, you have a clear-cut conservative. Huckabee is going to be the conservative candidate. A lot of those people that are not very happy with McCain may come around.
I think it's going to be very high level. There's great respect for both men. And I think they're both men of great integrity. I like John McCain very much, and so does the governor. And, so, I think it's going to be really the differential about issues. And I think that's a very positive thing for the party.
KING: Governor Huckabee is going out to campaign in Kansas tomorrow. I drive cross-country every now and then and listen to politics. One of the things you hear if you drive across Kansas is Dr. James Dobson's radio program, if you're driving your car across.
There's word tonight that Dr. Dobson, a very influential social conservative, is about to endorse Governor Huckabee.
ROLLINS: They had a conversation today. I have heard the same rumors you have. I can't confirm them, because I have not -- I have not seen actually seen the document. But they had a very friendly conversation. That's a gigantic endorsement and obviously one we would -- we would value a great deal.
KING: I want you to listen something.
Senator McCain goes into CPAC after the Romney drama, trying to convince conservatives: You may not like me on 20 percent, maybe 30 percent. But I'm still a good conservative.
Let's listen to Senator McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Many of you have disagreed strongly with some positions I have taken in recent years. I understand that. I might not agree with it, but I respect it for the principled position it is. And it is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let me ask you, Ed Rollins, I know you're with Governor Huckabee, but did McCain do enough, in your view, to make the case? And as you now have your candidate, Governor Huckabee, draw the clear contrast -- he wants to be viewed as the conservative alternative -- what are the issues? Where are the defining lines?
ROLLINS: I think John has been a good fiscal conservative.
I think the more important issues are going to be immigration. Obviously, he was the author of the Kennedy-McCain bill, which a lot of conservatives and a lot of Americans don't like. Certainly, his -- his campaign finance bill several years ago antagonized an awful lot of conservatives.
The marriage amendment certainly is something he doesn't support, didn't originally support the Bush tax cuts. There's a lot of issues that we can draw the line on and have a very significant debate.
KING: And what if McCain runs the board in the next several contests, or wins three of the -- three or four of the next five contests, including, say, Virginia or Maryland? Do you stay in there?
ROLLINS: We are committed until he has 1,191 or we have 1,191.
When he has that, we will support whoever has that number. This is going to be a unified party at the end. But I think it's too early. We still have months and months to go before the convention and months and months to go before the election. And there's no reason we can't air out the differences. And the differences are very significant.
KING: Huckabee campaign chairman Ed Rollins, been through a few of these wars before.
ROLLINS: Thank you.
KING: We will keep in touch as this one goes on.
ROLLINS: Great. My pleasure.
KING: Ed, thanks very much.
ROLLINS: Thank you very much.
KING: Now, some are calling Mitt Romney's decision to drop out the savviest move of his campaign. He got out on his terms, before another round of expensive losses, while framing his decision as a selfless act for the good of the party.
Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who has also worked for both Republican and Democratic presidents, also Bay Buchanan, a conservative activist who was a Mitt Romney adviser, and David Brody, the senior national correspondent at Christian Broadcasting Network.
David, I want to begin with you because of your experience covering the CPAC crowd.
In that room today, did John McCain do what was necessary to not close the sale, but to get at least three-quarters of the way there?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think he closed the sale.
But I think he -- David Keene is a good judge of that, and he just said on your program that he made a lot of progress. And I think the continuing issue for John McCain is, can he -- can he not only get the votes of the conservatives, but can he get their enthusiasm?
Can he get the volunteers? And that -- you know, Karl Rove last time assembled -- in the last presidential election, he got some four million people to volunteer for George W. Bush, made a major difference in places like Ohio. Now, can -- can John McCain do that? I'm not -- that -- that's not clear yet. I don't think he's made -- he hasn't gotten that far.
But I have to tell you something else. What John McCain did have a chance to do, because he no longer has Mitt Romney now nipping at his heels -- now, he does have -- he's down to Mike Huckabee -- he was able to give a speech today to pivot toward the fall in ways the other candidates have not yet done.
This was basically: Here's where the Democrats will go. Here's what I promise instead.
We have not had a candidate do that as clearly as he did today. And it was a strong speech, one that sends a real shot across the bow of Democrats that he could be a very formidable opponent.
KING: David Brody, listen to Laura Ingraham. She is introducing Mitt Romney. And she knows Mitt Romney is about to step aside and suspend, and, yet, she takes shot, another shot, at John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think it's enough to say that, you know, you were a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. I think the question is, what have you been doing for conservatism lately?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, so, David Brody, what is the sense in that room? If these talk show -- talk radio hosts keep beating up on John McCain, even now that the guy they wanted, Mitt Romney, is gone from the race, is there any optimism in that room that a Republican will win, or do many in that room not care? They would rather a Republican lose, if that Republican is John McCain.
DAVID BRODY, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, I have got to tell you, John, I mean, there's a whole myriad of options here and a lot of discussion within the conservative movement, especially as it relates to social conservatives, because this is not a done deal by John McCain, obviously, to sew up conservatives.
But it's also not a done deal that social conservatives are going to abandon John McCain either. You know, I have been talking to some conservative leaders, social conservative leaders, across this country today. And they are basically saying that John McCain is reaching out to them.
Specifically, John McCain is calling these leaders and having a frank discussion about the life issue, about the marriage issue, and the judges issue, and saying: Listen, I'm going to be there on judges. I will be good. Hey, I voted for Robert Bork.
And, so, you know, there is sense within the social conservative movement that he will be there on judges.
And, John, here's the key point that social conservatives may eventually get to. They may not be there now, but they may eventually get to. And that is that, if John McCain is good on judges, then, eventually, the life issue, the marriage issue, what we're hearing obviously is very important with social conservatives, that will be now decided at the state level if those judge nominees are good ones from McCain.
KING: So, Bay Buchanan, if John McCain is making the phone calls and he's saying the right stuff on judges, why are there some people, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, talk radio hosts, who say, never John McCain, never? Is that because they make money, they do business off conflict, or is it a principled stand that you, or at least some conservatives, could and should support?
BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Well, the first thing you have to understand is, conservatives are first conservatives and second Republican. And they vote for individuals who will represent, who will direct this country, drive it in the direction that they think is right.
They have to be given a reason. It might be the judges. That might be all they get, that's the judges, might be OK. It might be the kind of economic conservatives may be motivated by the kind of government they're going to lead.
And the amnesty fellows, it might be just the amnesty. But they have to be given something, John, to -- in order to motivate them. They don't care that he has an R. behind his name. That's not the most important thing for them.
So, what John McCain has to do is something more than talk. Certainly, that is an excellent beginning. Today, he took that one small step, at least showed a little humility, and showed that he needs us, in essence. But he's going to have to make phone calls. But then he's going to have to show us something, give us something.
We want to know, what kind of vice president is he going to pick? Is it somebody that we can feel is comfortable, that balances that ticket? How is he going to treat our leaders? And, indeed, how is he going to treat Mitt Romney? Is he going to reach out to him?
This is what we're all looking for, a lot more. He's going to have to do a whole lot more than talk.
KING: I want to talk a little bit about that, but I also want to -- before we run out of time, I want -- David Gergen, I want you to listen to Senator Clinton today. She was asked about Governor Romney's withdrawal from the race, and she immediately turned not to Governor Romney, but to Senator McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I believe that he offers more of the same, more of the same economic policies, more of the same military policies in Iraq. He said recently he could see having American troops in Iraq for 100 years. Well, I want them coming home within 60 days of my becoming president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: David Gergen, next to George W. Bush, there is no Republican in this country as associated with the surge in troops in Iraq -- maybe even more than George W. Bush, because he demanded it -- than John McCain.
Is he the candidate Republicans would want, if he can continue this march, going into a general election at a time when the war is still incredibly unpopular, despite the recent progress in Iraq?
GERGEN: I think he unites Republicans on national security issues, first of all, because he seems vindicated, and he was the stalwart man of principle who supported a surge, and now it's turned out well.
Where I think he is going to have some problems with the country beyond conservatives is on the -- is on the idea that he seeks victory in Iraq. I think most of the country thinks that's impossible. And he's also, again, in his speech today, rattled and the beat the drums about Iran, saying, it is totally unacceptable to have Iran.
Now, conservatives, especially national security conservatives, will totally support him on both Iraq and Iran. And, as I say, they see him as a man of principle. But people like Pat Buchanan, Bay's brother, has come out, you know, and been -- and been very unhappy about elements of his Iraq and Iran policy.
So, you talk to people who are independents and Democrats, and they may be scared by that. So, there's -- I don't think that -- I think the national security issue helps him with national security conservatives, but there are a lot of other people who may be driven off.
I would be curious about Bay's view on that. KING: Quickly, Bay. We're running out of time. Quickly.
BUCHANAN: John -- John, I think the key here is, he's going to -- John McCain is going to turn this into, look it, you want to lose Iraq? Do you want those soldiers over there to have failed in this effort?
And, so, it's going to give a feeling of, should we surrender? Because a vote for the Democrats is a surrender. And that will, without question, bring conservatives to the table. But I think the Democrats are very, very smart. They're not going to allow that to happen. And I think they're going to move this issue right back to the economy, the number-one issue, and a weakness for John McCain.
KING: David Brody, Bay Buchanan, David Gergen, I wish we had more time. That's all we have for tonight. But, still, we will discuss more of this in the days and weeks ahead, including the continued Huckabee factor. John McCain is not in the clear yet.
Bay, David, and, David, thank you all very much.
And lots of unknowns between now and November. Here is what is certain. Whoever wins the White House will face some extreme challenges once he or she takes office. We're going to dig deeper into what those challenges are in the next hour of "A.C. 360."
Here's a preview of what the next president will face with Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Because of that national intelligence estimate, the pressure to bomb Iran is off.
But the problem of Iran continues. Iran is acquiring nuclear energy. And it will have the capacity and the knowledge to make nuclear weapons. What the president can do at this point is sanctions. But sanctions aren't working. Everyone knows they're not working.
So, I think what the next president confronts is the awkward choice, which is, he has to decide whether to talk to Iran and to see if, in some way, a carrot-and-stick approach, that is, using some sticks, but also some carrots, is going to work, or does he just keep ratcheting up the carrots?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our special report, "Extreme Challenges: The Next Four Years," is just ahead, starting at the top of the hour.
But, first tonight, a major miracle in a tiny package -- we will tell you about the infant who survived a tornado.
Plus, Michael Vick's pit bulls. After a life of fighting and abuse, they're getting a second chance in the Utah desert. But can they really be cured of their killer instincts and made safe enough to live with humans? We investigate -- just ahead.
KING: His name is Kyson. Many are already talking about his story. They call him the miracle baby. Eleven months old, Kyson survived the tornado outbreak across the South. Rescuers in Tennessee, where 32 people died, thought they had already found all the survivors, when someone noticed something in the debris.
CNN's David Mattingly with more.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Armed with nothing but a flashlight and finding no signs of life, firefighter David Harmon made one final search of tornado wreckage and made the discovery of a lifetime.
DAVID HARMON, FIREFIGHTER: I shined the flashlight across and said, "I have got a baby doll." Before I got "I have got a baby doll" out of my mouth, it moved.
MATTINGLY: In pitch darkness, in the middle of a field, and covered with mud and debris, Harmon found a little baby boy.
HARMON: As soon as we rolled the baby over, it took a gasp of air and started crying.
MATTINGLY: Eleven-month-old Kyson Stowell was thrown 100 yards when a tornado shattered his home. He was found shivering, but with only minor injuries. His mother did not survive.
(on camera): It's remarkable to think just how lucky this baby truly was. This entire area had already been searched once, and rescuers didn't find anything. It wasn't until they started going through all this debris that they found a baby stroller and decided they needed to look just one more time.
(voice-over): It was a chance encounter his family calls a miracle. David Harmon says he was overwhelmed by it all, and he now feels connected to the young life he saved.
HARMON: He will always have a special place in my heart. And I hope I continue to stay in contact with the grandparents, and I would like to get to know the kid as he gets older.
KING: David Mattingly joins us now.
David, this is fascinating and heartwarming, but how is it possible for an 11-month-old child to be thrown 100 yards by a tornado and not sustain serious injury?
MATTINGLY: That's the $100,000 question. This baby's good fortune absolutely defies logic. The baby landed in a field that was wet and muddy. The ground was soft. That might account for how there were no broken bones. But you see the damage around me. There were 135-mile-an-hour winds in this tornado. How did this baby fly the length of a football field with all this debris flying around at that speed and wind up with no serious cuts and no serious trauma?
You know, we always look after these storms and wonder, why did this -- this house get hit by the tornado and the one next to it didn't? This takes that kind of mystery to a whole new level. No one will ever be able to answer how this child survived. But everyone is so happy that he did -- John.
KING: Remarkable. Remarkable.
David Mattingly for us in Tennessee tonight with a miracle -- David, thank you.
Some breaking news now out of the Saint Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri, a shooting, a bad one, during a city council meeting there -- seven people shot by a gunman, five of them, we are told, killed, plus the gunman. That's according to police.
Other reports say the mayor of Kirkwood was hit. We don't know his condition.
A correspondent for "The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch" was at the meeting and says a gunman walked in, yelling, "Shoot the mayor." The paper says Mayor Mike Swoboda and several city council officials were hit before police shot and killed the gunman.
We will, of course, be following any late developments in that story.
Now some other headlines.
Tom Foreman joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Terrible story there.
John, thanks so much.
We start with a developing story in Savannah, as well. Right now, dozens of people there were wounded, at least 30 critically, in an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery just hours ago -- no reports of any deaths and no word on what may have caused that blast.
Britain today approved the extradition of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States, where he faces 11 terror- related charges. He's already serving time in Britain for inciting racial hatred. Barring an appeal, al Masri could be handed over within 28 days.
And the space shuttle Atlantis, delayed since December, but now safely in orbit -- sketchy weather earlier today cleared just before the launch time. The shuttle is delivering a science module to the International Space Station.
And good flights with them.
Stay with us. We will have a little bit more in a bit.
KING: Stay with us, Tom.
Just ahead: police behaving badly, very badly, in their very own station house, all caught on tape by a security camera.
Plus, a dark new explanation for Britney Spears' erratic behavior -- her parents claim one man is controlling their daughter's life and putting it in danger.
That's coming up on 360.
KING: All right, Tom. Time for "What Were They Thinking?" I'll set the scene: police headquarters, Elkhart, Indiana, last Thanksgiving, the late shift.
Earlier that day, a woman you'll see in just a second was a passenger in a vehicle caught up in a drunk driving arrest. She was brought to the police department as a courtesy and was waiting for her ride to pick her up.
But as time dragged on, things, well, took a racy turn. Take a look.
One of the officers offers her a drink. She accepts enthusiastically. Actually, that looks a little uncomfortable. Watch what happens next. Clearly the cop has forgotten the security camera is rolling. Police should know that, you would think.
Then the photo shoot starts. The guys behind the desk are taking pictures with their cell phones. Another guy gets creative from a different angle.
The Elkhart County prosecutor reviewed the video, called the conduct unbecoming, inappropriate and otherwise an embarrassment to the department. But he also said it did not warrant criminal charges.
Two workers reportedly lost their jobs, however. The assistant police chief says the police department did a good job of policing itself and now they're, Tom, quote, "moving on."
FOREMAN: Inappropriate? Inappropriate? Unbecoming? That's surprising, John. It seems so in keeping with what -- no.
KING: One could find -- one could find other words for that that are a little stronger.
FOREMAN: There are nights when the "What Were They Thinking?" moniker just fits so well, and this is one of those nights.
KING: Yes, police officers.
FOREMAN: They should know better.
KING: The inexplicable.
FOREMAN: I know. What are you going to do?
KING: Tom Foreman, see you a bit later.
Just ahead on 360, can Michael Vick's pit bulls, bred to be killers, actually be transformed into cuddly pets? We'll investigate.
Plus, what would it take to save Britney Spears from herself and a man her parents say is controlling their daughter's life? New details about the restraining order they filed and the man it targets.
And here's tonight's "Beat 360." It doesn't really need an explanation. A Mitt Romney 2008 sheet cake. Here's the caption from our staffer, Kate: "Millions, schmillions, you can't have your cake and eat it, too."
Wah. 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.
KING: Michael Vick is spending the winter in a federal prison, the former NFL star quarterback serving a 23-month sentence for operating an illegal dog fighting ring. We know where he is. But what about the dogs he bred and cruelly trained for battle? Some experts warn his pit bulls are so vicious they should be put down.
But CNN's Dan Simon found a place where they say no, the dogs deserve a second chance.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her name is Ellen. The scars and deep wounds on her face prove her entire life has been devoted to fighting, killing and forced breeding.
She is one of disgraced football player Michael Vick's fighting dogs, now rescued and brought here to the mountains of Utah, where her wounds will heal. But her new keepers wonder, will she ever lose her explosive urge to fight?
They are pit bulls, bred to be fighters and to fight to the death. Of course, if trained properly, they can be gentle, loyal pets.
(on camera) I haven't had much experience with pit bulls. As a matter of fact, I'm a little scared of them.
(voice-over) But caregivers here at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary assure me there is nothing to be afraid of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's really very, very, very people friendly.
SIMON: Indeed, you would never know Ellen was a top fighter. But look again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would imagine that she's been in a number of fights. I would say that that would be safe to assume that.
SIMON: Twenty-two of Michael Vick's pit bulls now live here. Twenty-five others are at rehabilitation shelters around the country.
In their old life, those that didn't fight well were often beaten. According to court records, Vick and his associates actually drowned, shot, or electrocuted a number of dogs.
This male -- his name is Dan -- still cowers around humans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready?
SIMON: These dogs have only been here a month. Caregivers hope they become safe enough for adoption. And though that is unpredictable, there are already signs of progress.
At first, Little Red was shy and distant but now warms up to pretty much everyone he sees.
(on camera) This dog they call Lucas was actually Michael Vick's champion. He's 65 pounds, very strong, and you can see some of the scarring on his face. But he's one of the more affectionate, lovable dogs we've encountered here.
(voice-over) The staff can only speculate why. They believe Lucas won praise and special treatment for winning fights and money. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars for Vick and his buddies.
Despite his apparent good nature, a court has ruled he can never leave the shelter because of his violent past.
Though she appears calm now, this dog, Meryl, is still aggressive and, because of that, will never leave the shelter either.
Of course, it's impossible to know exactly what these dogs endured. In some cases, however, it's horribly clear. Georgia, we're told, had all of her teeth pulled out.
DR. FRANK MCMILLAN, VETERINARIAN: We don't know who did it, when. We assume that, because she was such a valuable breeding dog, that it was because very often the female will not accept the male during breeding and will turn around and attack. And with her and her fighting, that could inflict a lot of damage on the male.
There she is.
SIMON: Veterinarian Frank McMillan also is an expert on the emotional health of animals.
MCMILLAN: The friendliness level overall has been rising. The fear level has not gone down, but we expect that in the short term, because it's a whole new environment. And the aggression has been super low and stayed super low.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is my little (ph) boy.
SIMON: But the risk, of course, is unknowable, so the dogs are kept in constant isolation. Like a maximum security prison, they cannot have contact with one another. The hope is that, in six months or so, some will be deemed safe enough to adopt.
But Ellen, it appears, is ready today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would take her home right now.
SIMON (on camera): You would?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes.
SIMON (voice-over): Dan Simon, CNN, Kanab, Utah.
KING: And Dan Simon wrote a behind-the-scenes blog at the rehabilitation of the dogs. You can link to his story from our Web page at CNN.com/360.
Straight ahead tonight, with friends like these, yes, we can only be talking about the people in Britney Spears's apparently out-of- control life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING (voice-over): Out and down in Beverly Hills.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let her through. Let her through.
KING: Britney Spears out of the hospital. A new picture emerging of the shady hanger-on surrounding her. Shocking details ahead on 360.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It is a Hollywood tragedy unfolding right in front of us. Britney Spears, hounded by the paparazzi, her own demons, and so- called public (ph) is reportedly sinking deeper into despair.
She once sold millions of albums. Today, she's still at the center of attention, but for all the wrong reasons. What happened and when will it stop?
Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years we watched Britney Spears's downward spiral, going panty-less for paparazzi, driving with her baby in her lap, shaving her head, attacking an SUV with her umbrella, and public intoxication. What's a parent to do with their mentally unstable daughter?
Britney's parents have tried to get her treatment. Last week she was admitted to UCLA Medical Center, then yesterday, suddenly released. Despite her doctor's objections, she was not considered a risk to herself or others.
Her parents issued a statement, saying, "We are deeply concerned about her safety and vulnerability, and we believe her life is presently at risk."
Britney doesn't appear to be listening, and the media is devouring her decline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, Britney. You look great.
KAYE: Be it the pet store or the convenience store, the paparazzi are there. They even chased down her car after she was released from the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Britney, congratulations. You're out.
KAYE: No wonder she needs help. This is her last month, fighting the cameras just to see her psychiatrist.
Throughout it all, the man she calls her manager and friend, Sam Lufti, has been at her side.
SAM LUFTI, BRITNEY SPEARS'S MANAGER: Come on, guys. Give me a minute.
KAYE: Not anymore. This restraining order, issued last week against Lufti, forbids him to go near her.
MICHAEL HUNDGEN, TMZ: Britney's parents, Jamie and Lynn Spears, both feel that Sam is the root of all evil.
KAYE: A picture is emerging of Lufti, and it isn't pretty. The restraining order suggests he's a control freak and sinister housemate who drugs Britney and text messages the paparazzi when she's on the move.
HUNDGEN: He was almost showcasing her every time they went out to malls and gas stations and convenience stores. I mean, this relationship was obviously weird from the beginning.
KAYE: The order was signed after Britney's mom testified Lufti told her he grinds up Britney's pills, then puts them in her food.
Lufti isn't talking, but his new PR rep is.
MICHAEL SANDS, LUFTI'S REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, of course he gives Britney a prescription cocktail with different medications for her issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he crush them up and then put them in her food?
KAYE: Michael Sands says Lufti is squeaky clean, except for several restraining orders against him.
Britney's mother claims Lufti warned her, "You'd better learn that I control everything."
If so, why would Britney allow someone to control her this way? Psychiatrist Gail Saltz.
GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: They may be in a very, very stressful situation, like a divorce, like a child custody battle.
KAYE (on camera): Is it possible she's actually enjoying some of this control?
SALTZ: It's basically a conflict between the drive or the desire to be punished or to be taken care of, or even the excitement of being treated badly.
KAYE (voice-over): Lynn Spears says during a recent visit, her daughter spoke like a young girl.
SALTZ: But it is the mind's defense to get away from whatever is going on. I don't -- you know, I don't -- I can't stand this. I'm overwhelmed. I'm going to regress into a child-like state, where I can't take care of myself. Somebody has to take care of me.
KAYE: And speaking of voices, Britney is still slipping in and out of that English accent. Some suggest without even knowing it.
BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER: You better not be (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What part of England are you from?
KAYE (on camera): Psychiatrist Gail Saltz says it's time Britney's parents show some tough love. It's too late in the psychiatric process for anything else. She suggests having Britney arrested the next time she does anything illegal, locking her up so she's forced to get help.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
KING: A lot to talk about, to say the least. Up next, mental health advocate Peter Earley on why it's so tough for Britney to get the psychiatric care she may need and how the system fails so many people.
Also, Jeffrey Toobin with a look at the legal angle. All the rest when 360 continues.
KING: Sadly, the paparazzi may be the least of Britney Spears's worries. She's in and out of court, rehab, hospitals. There's the mental illness and orders of protection, public breakdowns, and the list, unfortunately, goes on and on and on.
Joining me now, CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Peter Earley. He's the author of "Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness."
Jeffrey, let's start right here. Jamie Spears was appointed conservator late last week, but in a statement released last night, Jamie and Lynn Spears say the conservatorship orders in place to protect their daughter are being blatantly disregarded.
So what -- what powers does a conservatorship have to begin with? And what can be done about this to force Britney Spears to seek the treatment they think she needs?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Conservator is basically someone who supervises the business and legal affairs of someone.
What the Spears parents are really concerned about are -- is her physical safety. Or that's the main thing they're concerned about.
And the thing is, she's an adult, so Britney cannot be held in the hospital unless they -- the hospital finds that she's a danger to herself or to others. And even though she's acting irresponsibly, she's acting crazy, she's misbehaving with the paparazzi, that's not a danger. And -- and hospital is not a prison. So they can't keep her in there, even though her parents want her there.
KING: So Peter Earley, you know this quagmire. You're a parent of a mentally ill adult child yourself. Tell us, is there anything they can do for their daughter?
PETER EARLEY, AUTHOR, "CRAZY": Well, many parents have been down this road. And my heart goes out to them and to their daughter. And many parents find themselves in a situation, like I did, where you actually have to lie. You actually have to say -- I'm embarrassed to say, I lied about my son. I said he'd threatened to kill me. And that was good enough to get him taken in to a center and evaluated.
And that's the draconian measures that we put parents through because of this focus only on dangerousness.
KING: So Jeff Toobin, you just heard Pete say he had to lie. So the law seems to hang on this term "imminent danger," whether that means Britney is at risk of endangering herself. Parents said in this statement they believe her life is at risk.
Is that enough? How difficult is it? Can they just say they believe her life is at risk? TOOBIN: Well, that's where the judge comes in. Scott Gordon, the commissioner -- that's the term for the judge in L.A. -- has to take all the facts into consideration. Now, there are other facts that are not public.
You know, Scott Gordon is actually a very good judge. I knew him. He used to be -- he was one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case, oddly enough. Now he's a judge. He's not someone who is going to do something in a half-baked way.
But, you know, we are only hearing the public statements from Britney's parents. There are psychiatrists. There are lawyers involved. And, you know, for better or worse, a hospital is not a prison. So she can only be kept there if, as you point out, that magical phrase, imminent danger is found.
KING: And so -- so, Pete, as you watch this, it sounds like the only way the Spears can get their daughter help is to just call the police. The psychiatrist in Randi Kaye's piece right there called it tough love.
But does that feed into the vicious cycle to just witness Britney goes through the same things and the same things, and the same things. But she's not getting the help she desperately needs?
EARLEY: Absolutely. You're spot on. And what happens is the police are called, but even after a person is taken to jail, they still can't be forced into treatment. They still can't be forced to take medication if that's appropriate, to help them, unless they're a danger to themselves or others.
And so oftentimes parents call the police. They panic, the police come. They will even arrest someone. They'll take them to jail. They will be released. And then the parents are facing a person who's even more angry at them for what has happened.
KING: And Jeff, the Spears, as we heard in Randi Kaye's piece, have this restraining order against the manager they accused of drugging, controlling their daughter. They're clearly trying to weed out what they think are the bad people in her life.
But you mentioned, she's an adult. How much influence do her parents have in saying this guy is the problem?
TOOBIN: They can get a restraining order. They can keep other people away, but they can't force their daughter to do anything. I mean, she is, at the end of the day, 26 years old.
And as Pete points out, you know, adults can have terrible problems, and parents can have their best interests at heart. But the system was set up to deal with oppressive hospitals. I mean, there had been times in the past when mental hospitals kept people in prison-like conditions for far too long. That's where the imminent danger standard came from.
You know, I don't pretend to know the answer, but the legal system is not totally irrational here. It's just a problem of finding out what -- you know, what the facts are in any given situation.
KING: And Peter Earley, quickly, what would you do next if you had a voice of influence in this matter?
EARLEY: Well, I would urge the parents in all cases, probably not to lie, to try to reason with their daughter. Don't argue with her about whether she has -- she's hearing voices. Try to befriend her. I've learned over time that's better than what I did.
But I was desperate. And these -- this is what happens when you get desperate about someone you love and you're trying desperately to help them.
KING: It is a sad saga and one certain to continue. Peter Earley, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you both for your thoughts tonight.
And we're following some breaking news tonight. Tom Foreman joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Tom.
FOREMAN: Hi, John. Yes, a couple of breaking news stories.
Six dead as a result of a shooting rampage at a city council meeting in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri. A gunman killed seven people, killing two -- or shot seven people, it was, killing two police officers and three others. Police then shot and killed that gunman.
Another breaking story near Savannah, Georgia. Dozens of people have been hurt by an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery. At least 30 of those injured are in critical condition.
Tax rebates are closer to reality. First today, the Senate added millions (ph) of Social Security recipients and disabled veterans to the list of people eligible for rebates in a new economic stimulus package. The House went along with some of the changes just a short time ago.
KING: Thank you, Tom.
And now tonight's "Beat 360." WE put a picture on the "360 Blog" and ask people to come up with a caption that's better than one of ours. Tonight's picture now, a Mitt Romney, '08 cake with one piece missing. The caption from our staff winner, Kate, "Millions, schmillions, you can't have your cake and eat it too."
I guess that one got the "Wah, wah, wah."
And our winner. Our viewer who wins is Cindy: "Romney calling it quits is just the icing on the cake for McCain!"
Check out the other ideas at CNN.com/360. And as always, feel free to play along.
If a canine companion is your best friend, we'd like to introduce you to a dog's best friend. Just wait till you hear the story behind "The Shot of the Day." That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: And now "The Shot." Tonight's comes, appropriately enough, from Kissimmee, Florida.
Firefighters rescued several dogs overcome by smoke from a house fire. They gave each one mouth to mouth and CPR and revived them. Fire officials say the dogs were taken to an area animal hospital for evaluation. The humans of the house weren't hurt. That's remarkable.
And a reminder, if you see some amazing video, tell us about it here at CNN.com/360. You can go there to see all the most recent shots and other segments from the program. Read the blog and check out the "Beat 360" pictures. The address again, CNN.com/360.
I've enjoyed reading your comments tonight on the 360 blog. Up next, Anderson with a special. Report on the extreme challenges facing the next president, whoever wins this November.
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