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Are America's Skies Safe?; Obama Gaining Ground in Pennsylvania; Clintons Lobbying Superdelegates Hard?

Aired April 2, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news tonight, and only 360 has it: exclusive new information about your safety in the air. If you fly or know people who do, you need to hear this report. It is about accidents happening, others perhaps waiting to happen.
Congress is investigating. But, tonight, a pair of whistle- blowers talk only to 360's Drew Griffin, telling us the FAA is more interested in protecting airlines than protecting us. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also tonight, Barack Obama closing the gap in Pennsylvania, new polling, but also the same key question. Can he win over white working-class men, the kind of voters who have been keeping Hillary Clinton in the race?

We also have new information on what the Clintons are telling superdelegates, saying Obama can't win and using Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a big reason why.

Plus, new developments in the fight for Florida and its 211 Democratic delegates. The head of the party made a commitment to get the mess cleaned up, but he didn't say how. We will investigate.

We begin with the breaking news about your safety in the air, on planes, and the risk that FAA and at least one airline allegedly hid from you. The bombshell accusations come from two FAA inspectors. Both are testifying before Congress tomorrow.

Tonight, however, for the first time, right here, they will tell you what they know. They claim government supervisors ignored their findings that Southwest Airlines was flying unsafe planes.

There's more. One FAA inspector says Southwest then began to pressure the agency to have him removed. In all, four major airlines, Southwest, American, Delta, and United, are being investigated by the FAA.

This is breaking news. It's also an exclusive.

Drew Griffin is with the CNN Special Investigations Unit. He broke the story.

Tonight, he's "Keeping Them Honest" from Washington -- Drew.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, these are the two whistle-blowers who ignited this entire wave of inspections across U.S. airlines we have seen in the last couple of weeks.

Today, they were the driving force behind announced changes in the way the Federal Aviation Administration inspects the airlines. What is troubling to them is, they say they have been trying to warn the FAA for years about problems at Southwest Airlines and about supervisors too cozy with the airlines, their warnings ignored, until finally they went to Congress.

And we broke the story that the FAA allowed Southwest to fly planes that should have been grounded.


BOBBY BOUTRIS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION SAFETY INSPECTOR: On March 15, when Southwest Airlines found out they had 47 aircraft out of compliance, when they see that safety issue, why didn't they ground them?

It is said that an FAA inspector has to become a whistle-blower in order to do his job. And the job is that we were hired by the taxpayers to ensure that the airlines provide safe transportation for the flying public. It shouldn't have to come to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's why we're here today. Bobby and I were not happy with the state of Southwest Airlines' maintenance program. We weren't happy, and we saw that the airline was at risk, due to the lax oversight.

And because of this, we just weren't willing to accept anything less than sweeping change.


GRIFFIN: Anderson, I got to tell you, both these guys are pretty scared about what they're going to say tomorrow in testimony before Congress. They don't know what it's going to do to their careers.

Southwest Airlines' CEO and the company chairman will also be there. Southwest tonight says, out of the respect to the House committee investigating this oversight, it's going to hold off answering any more questions until they can address them in Congress -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew, why do they say the FAA would have allowed Southwest to -- to go ahead, and not ground these planes?

GRIFFIN: They tell a tale of too much coziness between the FAA supervisor and Southwest employees, one in particular who was a former FAA worker.

They believe that these two were just too cozy and they were working together to try to get around these rules. We do know that one supervisor at the FAA has been removed from that role, and Southwest has taken action against some of its employees as well. We should get more details on that tomorrow.

What's really troubling, though, Anderson, is the fact that the airline itself, according to this inspect, Bobby Boutris, tried to get him removed because he was being too aggressive in the inspections.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

In the past few weeks, hundreds of flights have been canceled for safety inspections. Today, United became just the latest airline to ground part of its fleet. Still, there are thousands of jets and commercial flights in the air right now.

This is from Flight Explorer. Take a look at that map. It shows the number of planes crisscrossing the country tonight. You can't even count all of them.

Millions of us fly. We're told it is the safety way to travel. But, tonight, we have also learned there's something we haven't been told. There's a risk that has led to several emergency landings. Some pilots are aware of it. They say the government is, too. The question is, why aren't we?

Once again, with another exclusive report, Drew Griffin is "Keeping Them Honest."


GRIFFIN (voice-over): By the time it made an emergency landing here in Palm Beach, Florida, just last January, the windshield on the jetliner's cockpit had shattered.

The pilot and co-pilot already wearing masks and goggles because the cockpit filled with smoke at cruising altitude. A half-dozen people had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

What caused the terrifying incident? The National Transportation Safety Board investigators are focusing on this windshield heater on the American Airlines 757, which apparently overheated. A one-time fluke accident? Not at all. It also happened to this pilot on another American Airlines 757.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My entire windscreen was shattered like a spiderweb. We donned our smoke goggles and oxygen masks for fear that the second pane on the window was going to fail. Between the airspeed and the force on the windscreen, I would probably have gotten a face full of glass, and then we would have had a catastrophic depressurization of the airplane.

GRIFFIN: This pilot wants us to protect his identity, because he says he fears retaliation.

But what he describes matches the emergency that took place this past January. But listen to this. His near catastrophe happened more than two years ago, and the NTSB says it's happened at least 10 times now, four times on American Airlines 757s. Todd Wissing, a safety officer with the Allied Pilots Association, says both the American and the FAA have known about the problem for four years and, he says, have done little to fix it.

TODD WISSING, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: In 2004, there were two 757 incidents that occurred. The NTSB investigated and made safety recommendations to the FAA.

GRIFFIN: The FAA has only now issued this. It's called a proposed airworthiness directive for inspections and fixes to windshield heaters not just on 757s, but also on Boeing 767s and 777s. And the FAA told us, "We will work with the manufacturer to provide a solution for operators if the existing solution is not adequate."

The FAA didn't answer our question, what took so long, but critics in Congress worry the FAA, the agency that oversees airlines, has become too cozy with the industry and too confrontational with the NTSB, which is supposed to investigate aircraft incidents. Case in point, Southwest Airlines, where an FAA inspections supervisor allowed the company to postpone required safety inspections.

REP. JAMES OBERSTAR (D), MINNESOTA: It reflects an attitude of complacency at the highest levels of FAA management.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We depend on the FAA to have oversight of our companies' operation. That is a role that they -- that we feel they take or they should take seriously. And we're disappointed when we see evidence that they haven't.

GRIFFIN: And there appears to be good reason for those fears.

CNN obtained an e-mail from an American Airlines executive sent just after the most recent cockpit windshield failure. "This is the only internal window pane failure that I'm aware of," he writes. "We should gather the facts of how many failures we had in how many flights very quickly to counter the NTSB give us and the FAA some ammo to counter this."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His statement there seems to indicate that he's counting on the FAA to be a close ally with him.

GRIFFIN: But American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner says that is not what the e-mail means at all. He says it means: "Let's get our facts telling. We, American, believe this way, and it appears the FAA believes this way, too."

Boeing, which makes the aircraft, says it's looking into the matter. It sounds like a maintenance item, a spokeswoman said.

After 10 potentially catastrophic cockpit windshield failures in midflight, the pilots wonder why no one has done anything about it.


COOPER: Drew, you know what's so remarkable about this, is any of us who fly know, from what we have seen in our own experiences on airlines, that it's a mess, you know, at the passenger level. It's unpleasant to fly just about everywhere these days, though there are a lot of good people working for the airlines.

But what we're hearing tonight really is, it's an even bigger mess and perhaps a more dangerous behind the scenes in what we don't even see.


You know, I talked to one of these pilot who now, when he sits in the cockpit, Anderson, he makes sure he has that goggles and mask, so he knows it's there in case this happens again.

Now, the -- American Airlines says its pilots are in contract negotiations and tried to slough this off as some kind of a contract dispute. But the pilots say, look, if we want our airline to spend more money on maintenance, we don't see where that's going to be a bargaining position for us.

They want these windows replaced or fixed or something. Obviously, the FAA is issuing this proposed airworthiness directive to do just that. So, it is a serious issue.

COOPER: So, who is Congress investigating tomorrow, the airlines or the FAA?

GRIFFIN: Congress is investigating the FAA. The FAA is supposed to investigate the airlines.

But what the members of Congress and James Oberstar in particular are saying is, the FAA is not doing its job. It adopted this partnership program with the airlines, which basically allows the airlines to police themselves. And then the FAA kind of oversees that.

COOPER: Right.

GRIFFIN: They don't think it's working.

COOPER: Scary stuff.

Drew Griffin, thanks.

Drew has a lot more background and video on our Web page.

And, as always, we're blogging about this tonight. So, join the conversation at There, you can also find a link to our live studio Webcam.

Kids, ask your parents first. Just kidding.

Also, new polling -- well, you might as well ask your parents.

New polling tonight shows a tightening race for Pennsylvania, the state Hillary Clinton is making central to her case for getting the nomination. We will focus on the new numbers in the battle for white voters.

And later: a single sperm donor, many kids, and one heartbreaking medical mystery. Why are so many of the kids developing autism?

360 investigates.



MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We're in this place where Barack has won more pledged delegates. He's won more of the popular vote. He's raised more money. He's won more states.


M. OBAMA: He's won in all kinds of states. He's won in red states, in big states, in small states, in blue states, in swing states. He's won the black vote, the white vote. He's won among women and young people. He has amassed victories so diverse.



COOPER: Michelle Obama today in Pittsburgh -- her husband and Hillary Clinton also campaigning in Pennsylvania. Senator Obama picking up a key endorsement today, Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission, and he's gaining grounds in the polls.

The latest survey from the Quinnipiac University showing trailing Hillary Clinton by nine in Pennsylvania. That's compared to a 12- point gap in the same poll two weeks ago. Other polls also show the race tightening as well.

As we mentioned last night, Senator Obama is flooding the airwaves with ads, outspending Senator Clinton on commercials. The difference, though, of course, between closing the gap and taking the lead may come down to a single polling category: white working-class men.

With that, the "Raw Politics" from CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The itinerary tells you all you need to know about the power voters in the Pennsylvania primary.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We visited steel mills and apparel factories. And I played basketball with Bob Casey, and I fed a cat milk. I visited a chocolate store/museum.

I -- and I bowled.

(LAUGHTER) B. OBAMA: That didn't go so well.

CROWLEY: The political power in Pennsylvania this year is the working-class vote.


CROWLEY: And with Hillary Clinton expected to get most of the female vote and Barack Obama most of the African-Americans, Pennsylvania is more specifically about the white male working-class vote.

BILL ROSENBERG, DREXEL UNIVERSITY: The white males are a group that are sort of still watching, still waiting, trying to decide who they're going to vote for.

CROWLEY: And that explains all those visits to sheet metal plants and steel plants, at diners, and, yes, bowling allies. And it's why the talk of the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia is about trade deals.

B. OBAMA: What I oppose and will always oppose are trade deals to put the interests of Wall Street ahead of the interests of American workers. That's why I opposed NAFTA. That's why I voted against CAFTA. That's why it didn't make sense to normalize trade relations with China.

CROWLEY: And union power.

CLINTON: So, if anyone asks you if labor will have a seat at the table in my White House, I hope you know the answer. Of course you will. Labor built the table.

CROWLEY: The white male working-class vote is roughly 27 percent of the Pennsylvania electorate, enough to make a difference in a race that now shows a shrinking gap between Clinton and Obama. Down from her double-digit lead, Clinton still holds a nine-point edge, in large part because she's beating Obama among whites, male and female, by 25 points.

He's closing the gap in part because he's picked up support among men. Obama was once 10 points behind with the male vote. He now polls about even. The battle continues, with white male workers in the catbird seat.

B. OBAMA: And they don't just lose their job. They lose their pension. They lose their health care. They're trying to figure out how to make ends meet, working at a $7-, $8-an-hour job at the local fast-food joint or at Wal-Mart.

CLINTON: So, when people ask me, "What are the issues in this campaign?" I say, jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs.

CROWLEY: Twenty days until the Pennsylvania primary, so little time, so many work sites to visit. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So many, indeed.

We're digging deeper. Candy Crowley joins us now. She's in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center. And in Boston tonight, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

Candy, why do you think the Clintons lost some ground there against Obama, especially among white males, or working-class voters?

CROWLEY: I -- I -- you know, there's a couple of things, but I think maybe the biggest thing is, we always see a tightening of the polls as a race gets closer.

I think there's that. I think the other thing is, he spent some time in this state since the last poll was taken. We know that, when Barack Obama does spend time in places, he tends to do better. So, I think you combine those two things, and you do get an uptick in his numbers. I mean, This isn't huge movement, at least in the Quinnipiac polls, since last March, but it's enough so that you can look and say, well, the race is going to tighten. And he's been here.

COOPER: Candy, David Gergen, stick around. We're going to take a quick break. We will have more with you guys on the other side of it.

I want to talk about -- ask about some of the new inside information about what Hillary Clinton said to Bill Richardson not long before he turned around and endorsed her opponent instead.

Also, Barack Obama's strange encounter with a guy and his camera. We will tell you what this was all about.

Stay tuned.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't you just take a picture with me? I'm note asking for an autograph. It's not -- it's for my -- for my family.

B. OBAMA: You know what? Just take it. Just take it quickly. I won't be smiling, because -- because you have been wearing -- wearing me out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, because -- Senator?


B. OBAMA: ... you have been rude about this.


COOPER: Senator Obama today in Philadelphia's Italian Market neighborhood dealing with a persistent photo-seeker, refusing the man reportedly because the man had interfered with him earlier as he tried to talk -- tried to talk to a group of children -- one of the strange things that happen on the campaign trail, it seems.

Continuing our conversation now Candy Crowley in Philadelphia and senior political analyst David Gergen.

David, the Clintons are said to be lobbying superdelegates hard. Senator -- senior Clinton adviser Harold Ickes admitted that one of their big talking points is none other than Reverend Jeremiah Wright himself.

It's interesting, because, publicly, Hillary Clinton isn't talking about Wright, but, privately, it seems like that's what they're hammering away at. Is that fair or just the way politics are played?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is the way politics is frequently played, but I -- on the other hand, I think, Anderson, the sort of hard-nosed quality of the Clinton campaign, the sort of James Carville argument against Bill Richardson, calling him Judas, and the other aspects that has giving the campaign sort of the win-at-any-cost kind of reputation, I think, is actually coming back to haunt her.

I think it's making her less likable. She started off this campaign with a warmth and a personal likability that I thought was very winsome. But, in these last -- you know, with her back against the wall now, there have been qualities about the campaign that I think are actually a drag on the campaign.

COOPER: And so, even though it's happening behind the scenes, that kind of thing comes out publicly?

GERGEN: Absolutely.

And I talked to someone today who was -- about Bill Richardson -- who was saying that, before he endorsed Senator Obama -- and he did it, I think, courageously -- that he was receiving e-mails from some of the Clinton insiders essentially threatening him for not endorsing her, and raising questions of whether he was traitorous or not, because he held such distinguished positions in the Clinton administration.

You know, that kind of arm-twisting, that kind of pugnacious quality has had its place in politics. In this particular campaign, I think -- as I say, I think it's backfiring on them.

COOPER: It's like it's -- it's like -- well, I won't go that far.

GERGEN: Yes. COOPER: Candy, ABC News is reporting that Senator Clinton told Governor Bill Richardson prior to his endorsement of Obama -- quote -- "He cannot win, Bill. He cannot win."

Obama supporters hear that and they say, well, it sounds like their argument is boiling down to Reverend Wright and race. What is the Clintons' argument that he cannot win? Is it experience?

CROWLEY: Well, experience -- they point to Reverend Wright and say, you think this has been bad in the Democratic primary. Wait until the Republicans get ahold of Reverend Wright.

Listen, it shouldn't shock us that they are , in private, arguing to Bill Richardson and a lot of other people that Barack Obama is not electable. This whole campaign has been about, in the last month or so, as they sort of turn toward those superdelegates: I'm the most electable.

It's the ace in the hole that the Clintons believe they have. And that is that, when you go to these superdelegates, and if you are behind in pledged delegates, which it now looks as though Hillary Clinton will be, you have to go to them with an argument. And her argument is: I'm more electable.

And the flip side of that, of course, is, he's not electable. We're back to the politics ain't beanbag thing.

GERGEN: Yes, but I -- that's true, but I have to say, I -- we have had very little of that kind of politics from the Obama campaign in private to superdelegates saying, you know, she's a woman, and she's going to have all these problems with men, and so forth and so on. We just haven't had that kind of abrasive kind of conversation.

But I do think one thing should be said about Hillary Clinton on a positive side. In the last few days, her tone in Pennsylvania and in the campaign in general has been much more positive. She's been going after John McCain, not Barack Obama.

And I think this campaign is -- it may be turning in a better direction from both of their points of view. Even as this leads begins to tighten -- and, by the way, if you take the average recent polls, her lead has shrunk down to around six, if you average. And RealClearPolitics averages up recent polls. And it's gone down from about 12 to six in Pennsylvania.

COOPER: Well, let's talk about superdelegates briefly.

There's now talk about some sort of a meeting at the beginning of the summer, where the undecided superdelegates would publicly say what -- you know, where their positions are, so this thing is kind of clear way before the convention.

Is that feasible? I mean, is that a reality, Candy?

CROWLEY: I think it is, in this way. I don't think there will be a meeting. I think there are objections to that -- I know there are objections to that -- within the Democratic Party with some of the higher-ups.

What they are looking for now, what they think is more feasible is just for people to come out and say, so that it is obvious to someone in this race that they're not going to win. So, as you know, we have had superdelegates come out and say, I'm going to be for so- and-so. We still have not quite half of them as yet to publicly declare who they're for.

So, what Howard Dean and a number of party bigwigs are saying is, look, when this is over in June, we need to start coming forward, these superdelegates, and saying who they're for. I mean, both these candidates know math pretty well. And if those superdelegates come out, they will certainly know. I think they want to try to avoid kind of a formal convention sort of meeting thing for the superdelegates.

COOPER: All right, Candy Crowley, David Gergen, guys, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Interesting discussion.

The state of Florida could be back in play for the Democrats, their delegates seated at the convention. But exactly what that means is still up for discussion. We are going to tell you the latest in a moment.

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

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, on Capitol Hill, a blunt assessment of the U.S. economy: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledging today a recession is possible. Bernanke said the economy won't have much growth over the first half of this year.

And a 360 follow for you -- an FBI agent says a man accused of trying to sneak bomb-making materials on to a flight from Orlando to Jamaica yesterday has admitted he did plan to build a bomb after he landed. Kevin Brown was arrested yesterday. We told you about it here on the program. Investigators are now looking into whether he may have a history of mental illness before they proceed with the case.

And also want to get this update to you. The tools -- this is a picture of the tools cops say a group of third-graders were planning to use in an attack on their teacher in Waycross, Georgia. It's just amazing. They're handcuffs, paperweights, other gadgets the kids allegedly brought into school. Three students are being charged now as juveniles, but they say nine were involved.

COOPER: Third-grade students, I -- that's just crazy.

HILL: I don't even -- I don't know what I was thinking in third grade, but it certainly wasn't, how can I harm someone...


COOPER: I was like this tall in third grade. I don't even remember how -- how is that even possible?

HILL: You're only like this -- this tall now.



COOPER: All right.


COOPER: "What Were They Thinking?" is next?

A tennis player attacks himself. Call it racket rage. Yes, this has got to hurt.


COOPER: We know it hurts, because it drew blood. Anyway, we will talk about that in a moment.

Here's tonight's "Beat 360." A Chihuahua joins his paws, perhaps in prayer, or simulated prayer, besides a Buddhist priest in Okinawa, Japan.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, senior executive producer David Doss, the first time he's been chosen, we should point out. He's very proud.


COOPER: "New yoga students have trouble with downward dog."

I think it's pretty clever.


HILL: I do. It wasn't just brownie points either.


HILL: I think pretty much everybody thought it was good.

COOPER: Yes, absolutely, for our boss.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Think you can do better, go to


COOPER: Send us your submission. We will announce the winner at the end of the program.


COOPER: Erica, now our segment "What Were They Thinking?" And a little racket rage -- this is from a tennis tournament in Florida this week. Now, keep your eye on the guy on the bottom of the screen. That's a player from Russia.

HILL: Right.

COOPER: The volley ends when he hits the ball into the net.

Now, we have seen that before, but what's new is his response, taking a bizarre page out of pro wrestling.


COOPER: Yes. He slams the racket a couple times against his face.

HILL: Huh.

COOPER: The self-inflicted outburst left fans shocked, commentators speechless.

HILL: Oh, my gosh. Look at that.

COOPER: Yes, blood dripping down the guy's face.

HILL: How about that?

COOPER: Yes. We should point out, he actually went on to win the match. Lucky for him he wasn't played darts.


HILL: Ba-dump-ching.

True, though.

COOPER: Up next: a big announcement from the head of the Democratic Party. He says Florida delegates will be seated -- will be seated at the convention. The question is, what does that actually mean? And is this good news for Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, or either of them? We are going to talk to superdelegates on both sides of this potentially election-changing fight.

And new information about Senator John McCain and his medical records -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: A new commitment from Howard Dean today, a continuing minefield for Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign accuses him of blocking a solution to the Florida delegate mess, because they say he knows he'll do poorly in a revote. That remains to be seen.

But Governor Dean, who heads the Democratic National Committee, promised to do everything he can today to seat Florida's 211 delegates at the convention in Denver. He even said they'll have hotel rooms. What he didn't say was how or whether they'll count when they're seated.

CNN's Tom Foreman is working the story and joins us now -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is the closest Howard Dean has come so far as saying the Florida vote will count somehow. He met with Florida lawmakers, came out saying he is so confidence of a pending deal that, as you mentioned, he's even booked hotel rooms for Florida at the convention.

But listen to what he said next.


HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIR: Now, there's a lot of work to be done here, and the other thing we agreed to is that we are -- it is critical that, in the process of seating a Florida delegation, that both campaigns are comfortable with the compromises that have to be worked out.


FOREMAN: That, of course, is the alligator in the pool here, because there's simply no indication that Clinton and Obama are ready to make that compromise. Clinton, who is behind in delegates, desperately wants Florida to count, just as if the primary vote was held -- that was held back in January was unchallenged. That would give her about half the delegates, Obama about a third.

Obama's team, however, says Howard Dean made it very clear the January vote would not count, and they will fight any deal that just gives Clinton -- Clinton that many delegates.

One possible solution being floated is to cut the Florida delegate vote in half. Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who supports Clinton, says he's talked to both candidates about that.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: That may ultimately be the solution, so that Hillary, instead of having a 38-delegate vote margin, her margin would be 19, and it would conform to the DNC rules, which is what they should have done in the first place eight months ago.


FOREMAN: Yes, but even this comes with a caveat. Senator Nelson says he suspects any deal will not be accepted by both campaigns until everyone else in the country has voted. And by that time a winner may have been picked, effectively, already anyway.

So the headline is new: there is movement on the Florida vote. But the story is the same: it's still a mess -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, a mess, I guess with no question -- no solution clearly right now in sight. Tom Foreman, thanks very much. Joining us now, two super delegates. Former DNC chairman and current Obama supporter, David Wilhelm, and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Clinton supporter.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, Dean said that they will absolutely seat a delegation from Florida, but as Tom just said, he didn't say how. Are you guys on the Clinton side any closer to figuring out how those delegates would be apportioned, or should be?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, I think the best news that came out of our meeting with Chairman Dean this morning is that the question of whether our delegation in Florida will be seated has been put to rest. And now it's just a matter of how.

And that is tremendous progress. It sends a strong signal to the voters in Florida that the Democratic Party cares about them, that we will fight tooth and nail to win this general election and put Florida in the win column for the Democratic nominee.

And particularly, although you know, it might seem trivial, even going so far as organizing the logistics to get our delegation situated out in Denver when the convention happens is a big deal.

COOPER: So is 50-50 OK for you?

SCHULTZ: You know, I think we're at the point now where we've determined that we're going to ensure that the delegation gets seated, and then we've got to let some more voters weigh in on what the outcome is going to be and get a clearer picture on this nomination process.

COOPER: David...

SCHULTZ: I think it's still too early to determine what the details are in terms of how.

COOPER: David, on the Obama side, is 50-50 OK with Obama?

DAVID WILHELM, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: I'm not an agent for the campaign, but that -- that sounds fair to me. A 50-50 split would mean that both -- I'm in Michigan tonight. Both Michigan and Florida would have their delegation seated. That's definitely the best thing for the party. It's something that Senator Obama has wanted to do from the get-go.

And in the context of elections that were run in violation of Democratic National Committee rules, a 50-50 split would mean the delegations are seated, but they will have no impact on the overall outcome of the race. And that seems like a -- a compromise that Solomon would be proud of.

SCHULTZ: Anderson, I can tell you that our delegation is united against a 50-50 split. That includes Obama supporters, as well as Clinton supporters, and our members that have not taken a position. A 50-50 split makes absolutely no sense. There are 1.7 million voters that went to the polls on January 29. We had a record turnout, and whoever the nominee is needs to be selected by Democrats from all 50 states who weighed in. A random 50- 50 split makes absolutely no sense and would be unfair and would disenfranchise voters in Florida.

COOPER: But with that kind of language, then, how do you get a compromise? I mean, what's the solution? Dean said no one but the candidates themselves are going to be able to come up with a deal.


COOPER: There's no grand officials that are going to be able to do that.

SCHULTZ: I agree with that. I think we're going to have to let some of the contests unfold. And then what we agreed to for this morning in that meeting between the delegation, as well as Chairman Dean and our party chair, Karen Thurman, is that we would go back to the respective campaigns and encourage them to work together.

We would go through the various proposed solutions and encourage them to reach a resolution as quickly as possible.

COOPER: So cutting through all the politics of this and the spin on this, I mean, for the Clinton side, basically, it seems like you don't want a 50-50, because that doesn't give any benefit to Senator Clinton, and she's behind. On the Obama side, it seems it's the status -- status quo.

SCHULTZ: No, we don't support 50-50, because it's unfair. And it's not reflective of votes that were cast in Florida. And that is a tradition that is held by Obama supporters that are super delegates in Florida, as well as Clinton supporters.

WILHELM: And -- and to split the delegation according to a vote that was in contravention of Democratic National Committee rules would be unfair, too. But I do -- I do agree that...

SCHULTZ: With all due respect, the order...

COOPER: Let him finish his comment.


WILHELM: Well, I do agree that I think the right posture is to let this thing play out, let the campaigns get together, and in conjunction with the leadership of the Democratic National Committees, and leaders in Florida and leaders of Michigan, have everybody do their level best to find a solution to this.

Because I think every -- both campaigns, and it is in the interest of the Democratic Party and, I think, the country that these delegations be seated, and that's the bottom line.

SCHULTZ: And I would like -- you know, I would like, Anderson, to hear Senator Obama, you know, once and for all say that he thinks Florida's delegation should be seated. Because I've heard a lot of his surrogates go near that statement. David is saying it here tonight.

But I think that voters in Florida need to -- they've heard from Hillary Clinton. She believes the Florida delegation should be seated. We would love that -- those words from Senator Obama's mouth, and we have yet to hear that.

COOPER: I appreciate both of you being on the program. Thank you very much. Obviously, this debate is going to go on.

Now, a 360 follow-up. In a report last night, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta examined the treatment that Senator John McCain received for skin cancer, and what it might say about his health today. McCain's campaign had released some but not all information about his battle with melanoma. They promised to release all his medical records on April 15.

Now a change of plans. Today the campaign told CNN it won't make the records public until May. They say the reason is that McCain's doctors are not available until then to attend a news conference they plan to hold.

Up next, a sperm-donor mystery. At least three children, autistic kids with different mothers and one thing in common: the same sperm donor. How common is this, and can it be prevented? Randi Kaye unravels the mystery, next.


COOPER: CNN special investigations' "Autism: Unraveling the Mystery" continues now with a story of six families who discovered they share an unusual link. Could the anonymous sperm donor that all of them happened to use have caused some of their children to have autism.

With the investigation, here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


DYLAN JACKAWAY, HAS AUTISM: The room is over here, behind this wall.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At just 5 1/2, Dylan Jackaway appears wise beyond his years.


KAYE: He reads and writes music, and has practically memorized New York City's entire subway grid.

D. JACKAWAY: You take the El over to Fifth Avenue, go through the terminal to Seventh, and then you take the 41 (ph).

KAYE (on camera): Perfect. That should be pretty quick, huh? (voice-over) Remember, he's just a 5 1/2. Dylan's mother, Gwenyth Jackaway, had always wanted a child. Single and tired of waiting, she picked an anonymous sperm donor, Donor X.

On paper, Donor X looked perfect: a high I.Q. and a love for travel and music. Gwenyth wanted those traits in her child, but Donor X may have passed along a lot more than that.

GWENYTH JACKAWAY, MOTHER: It's just the roll of the genetic dice.

KAYE: At age 2, Gwenyth's son Dylan was diagnosed with autism.

G. JACKAWAY: It's terrifying when you first hear the word.

KAYE: Gwenyth used to find other moms who used the same donor, like Theresa Pergola, who had triplets from Donor X. Minutes after meeting, the women noticed similarities between their boys.

THERESA PERGOLA, MOTHER: They were both very focused and both kind of shy.

G. JACKAWAY: He was walking on his toes. He was slapping his hands.

PERGOLA: She told me that she saw -- she saw characteristics of autism.

KAYE: At Gwenyth's urging, Theresa had Joseph tested. He, too, is autistic.

(on camera) Imagine: two different mothers, the same donor father, two boys that are autistic. How could this have happened? The fact is, donors can't be screened for autism, because there's no test for it. Experts still aren't even sure which gene or combination of genes may cause it.

(voice-over) California Cryobank, which supplied Donor X's samples, told us it has "one of the most thorough and rigorous screening processes in the industry."

PERGOLA: I was a little angry at the bank, because I felt like I needed someone to blame for his condition. And the more I thought about it, I was less angry, because there's no way to screen for this.

KAYE: Gwenyth could not have predicted what happened next. The autism web was about to widen. Of the six families Gwenyth had contacted and the 12 children among them, she says she learned three of them are autistic, and one shows signs of autism.

Cryobank confirmed the donor was notified and his samples were removed from the general catalog.

(on camera) Do you wish that there were some type of way to screen for this so you didn't have a child with autism? G. JACKAWAY: To say yes to that would mean to say that I wish Dylan isn't Dylan. I love my son, and everything about him, and that means loving his autism, also.

KAYE: A woman who wanted the gift of a child, now a mother with a son she loves, no matter what.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: In the next hour of 360, M.D. Sanjay Gupta is going to take you on a remarkable journey into the world of autism, where you'll meet an amazing young woman who may very well change the way you think about this mysterious disorder.

Here's a preview of "Finding Amanda."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Amanda Baggs (ph), rocking back and forth. She does not make eye contact, her movements erratic, her behavior eccentric. She cannot speak, and for most of us, this is precisely what we expect when we see a person with autism.

But Amanda and her friends will absolutely change your expectations.

(on camera) Would you define yourself as an autistic person, Amanda?

ROBOTIC VOICE: That's the word for people whose brains look like mine last I checked.

GUPTA: As you'll see, Amanda has a lot to say. Her brilliance is laced with a wry sense of humor. We first came across Amanda on YouTube, her appearance there so startling, I wanted to meet her. I had so many questions.


COOPER: It's a truly remarkable hour. It's "Finding Amanda." It's just ahead in our next hour of 360, in about 12 minutes from now.

Up next, though, pork spending in Washington. Sooey. A new report on congressional pork names Democrats and Republicans. Stay tuned for that.

And later, look closely. An elephant with alleged artistic talent. Is this for real? It's our "Shot of the Day." It's all over the Internet, when 360 continues.


COOPER: Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And tomorrow night on CNN we take you back to the day when shots rang out at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien talks with Memphis minister Billy Kyles, who was on the motel balcony with Dr. King. She and Reverend Kyles went back to the scene of the killing. Here's a preview.


REV. BILLY KYLES, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: And then I got maybe about here, and the shot rang out. Pow! When I turned, I could see him lying on the balcony. One of his feet was sticking through the railing. There was a huge hole in his face.

The police were coming, and I hollered to them, "Call an ambulance on your police radio. Dr. King has been shot."

And they said, "Where did the shot come from?" Everybody was pointing in that direction.

I took a crushed cigarette out of his hand. He didn't want the kids to see him smoke. And I took the package out of his pocket. I have them in my possession somewhere. And I have a handkerchief where I wiped much blood off my hand.


COOPER: "Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination" airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern, followed by a special edition of 360 at 11 p.m.

So, on a much lighter note, you want to see a pachyderm Picasso? Primitive art from an elephant. That's what the video claims. It's pretty unbelievable, the end product kind of astounding. Is it true? It's our "Shot." It's coming up, but first Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, we begin with your tax dollars, and you may not like the news. A citizens' watchdog group today releasing its report of congressional earmarks. Yes, some old pork for you.

The so-called "Pig Book" says last year Democrats spent $5.5 billion on pet projects, Republicans $4.4 billion. Some of that cash financed a lobster institute and a Cold War museum.

Also on Capitol Hill, ducking their responsibilities? That's what Senator Barbara Boxer accused of White House of, for delaying a decision on whether polar bears should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Hearings on that matter were held today, but the interior secretary was a no-show.

And on an Edmonton highway, a truck plows down the wrong side of the road for 20 minutes before crashing and bursting into flames. The driver was killed. His brother says he may have gone into diabetic shock.


Up now, it's time for our "Beat 360" winner. A reminder, here's how you play. We post the picture on our Web site. You try to come up with a better caption than the one our staff thinks up.

Tonight's picture, a Chihuahua joining his paws, perhaps in prayer, besides a Buddhist priest in Okinawa, Japan. So our staff winner, David Doss, our senior executive producer, his caption, "New yoga students have trouble with downward dog." Yes.

Tonight's viewer winner is Sean in Dallas. Two words: "Doggie Lama."


HILL: Pretty good.

COOPER: To check out the other captions we received, go to

All right. Up next, I don't buy this thing for a second. An elephant with Picasso's -- well, it doesn't really have Picasso's talent. An elephant who allegedly can draw a picture of an elephant.

HILL: Better than I can.

COOPER: I don't buy it. But you be the judge. It's our "Shot of the Day," coming up.


COOPER: All right, time now for "The Shot." We found this on YouTube, and the 360 staff is debating whether it's real or not. We'll speed up the video so you can see the final product. It appears to be an elephant painting a picture. It's from a wildlife center in Thailand.

It's said to be 5-year-old Paya (ph), a male who reportedly was taught by the creative arts -- was taught the creative arts by artists and trainers. If real, it's pretty amazing. Look at the details and the flower there.

HILL: And look at how you don't see the full elephant doing the painting. Oh, look, there's the trunk.

COOPER: You think that's a fake trunk?

HILL: I don't know. I'm just saying that I'm not seeing the full elephant. That's all I'm saying.

COOPER: I hear you. I mean, elephants are incredibly smart. We all know this. And on the blog, people are saying they think it's real.

HILL: It could be. Who knows? Maybe it's just that I'm jealous because I have no artistic ability whatsoever. But you know, it reminds me, I think -- well, actually, first I should tell you that you can actually buy, apparently, buy his artwork. Yes, it's a Web site for the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Foundation.

COOPER: Raising money for a good cause.

HILL: So it's raising money for a good cause. That's good. So even if it's fake, good for Paya (ph).

But it reminds me, actually, of a little encounter, I think, that you may have had with a pachyderm pal, perhaps while you were shooting "Planet in Peril."

COOPER: You have that video.

HILL: We have some video.

COOPER: There it is.

HILL: Cambodia, was it? Your good friend there.


HILL: A little hug from the elephant.


COOPER: They're smelling with it?


HILL: What does that feel like? I mean, does it feel like they're breathing in...

COOPER: It's really weird. It's like someone is rubbing their nose all over your face.

HILL: Nice. I hope it wasn't a runny nose. Kind of sweet, right?

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's like nothing else. It's -- you know, I don't even know how to describe it. Words sort of fail to describe it.

HILL: Maybe you should paint a picture about it.

COOPER: Ah, yes, exactly so.

HILL: Commission one from Paya (ph).

COOPER: If you see some remarkable video, tell us about it at You can go there to see all the most recent shots and the other segments of the program. You can read the blog. You can check out the "Beat 360" picture. The address, again,

I'm exhausted by the end of this promo every time.

Up next updating, we're going to update our breaking story. Exclusive new information you know before you fly.

Then a 360 special, "Inside the World of Autism," Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "Finding Amanda," coming up at the top of the hour.


COOPER: Good evening again. Breaking news tonight about airline safety. Your safety and only 360 has it.

Also tonight, a 360 special report on the world of Amanda Baggs (ph) and millions of others like her. The world of autism, how autistic people experience life, how they see others and how they'd like others to see them. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes you inside in the CNN special, "Finding Amanda."

We begin, though, with breaking news about your safety in the air on planes and the risk the FAA and at least one airline allegedly hid from you. The bombshell accusations come from two FAA inspectors. Both are testifying before Congress.