Return to Transcripts main page


Children of Polygamists to Remain in Custody; Hillary Clinton Up Close

Aired April 18, 2008 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the impact of and late reaction to tonight's breaking story: a judge in Texas ruling that authorities should keep custody of all 416 children taken from Warren Jeffs' polygamist compound. It is a major development, a stunning one. We will tell you why the judge ruled this way and what happens now to all those kids.
Remember the raid? It was triggered by a call allegedly from a 16-year-old girl in the sect named Sarah. But take a look at this woman. Is she actually the one who made the calls that triggered the raid on Jeffs' compound, and not this 16-year-old girl named Sarah? 360's Gary Tuchman has information you won't see anywhere else. it could break this case wide open.

And, later, Hillary Clinton tells Barack Obama to toughen up. We will show you what happened on the campaign trail today and go up close with Senator Clinton, part of our weeklong profiles of all the candidates -- tonight, the Hillary Clinton you might not know, how she went from being a Goldwater Republican to a Democrat running for the White House.

We begin, though, with the breaking news from the courtroom in Texas, where a judge has just about, an hour-and-a-half ago, decided to keep 416 FLDS kids in state custody. That's not all she's decided.

CNN's David Mattingly is at the courthouse with the key points of tonight's ruling.

David, what's the latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, not all is correct. The judge has also ordered that the children and their parents will undergo DNA testing on Monday and Tuesday of next week. They're going to be sending a mobile lab around to the shelters and out to Eldorado, where the families at the compound can come out and be tested.

When they come out to be tested, they're also going to be checking I.D., possibly fingerprints. The state now needs to connect the dots, because, in the last two weeks, they are still unable to positively link all of the children to their biological parents. Some of these children are unable or unwilling to point out their biological parents.

They have 130 kids in custody who are under the age of 5. None of them -- none of them -- have birth certificates. So, it's been a real logistical nightmare. And now they can start focusing on individual cases and try to build these families back together, develop a paper trail, and find out who belongs to who, and pursue these cases, and decide eventually where these kids are going to be spending the rest of their lives.

COOPER: I'm confused, though, David. Even once they determine, OK, parent A and B are the parents of child C, does that mean that child gets to go back to those parents, if the parents are still living in this compound?

MATTINGLY: No. Right now, the state will be looking at options for possible foster care.

But, because the conditions these children have grown up in, how they have been sort of sequestered from regular society, they're going to have to be very careful about what kind of home they put any of these children into until the next 60-day hearing.

The purpose of this process is first to find a way to put the children back in the home. And, to do that, they have to look for ways to remove that source of abuse. They're going to have to change behavior. They are going to have to remove the person who might be responsible for abuse. That's what they do in normal cases.

But this is not a normal case. They're trying to reverse what they have laid out as a very firm set of beliefs and values at that compound that they now have to try and attack and be convinced that they have rolled that back before they think about putting those children back there.

COOPER: So, essentially, in order for these parents to get back their kids, it may very well be a possibility -- and I guess we don't know this -- but that this sect will simply have to break up?

MATTINGLY: That is one of the possibilities.

In fact, we heard a lot of the women -- well, four women went to the stands today. And they were testifying they would do anything the state told them to do in order to get their children back. They would go through testing. They would go through parenting classes. They would even make the big sacrifice of leaving the compound and moving out into regular society, possibly even putting their children in public schools.

They said they would do anything to get their children back. You have to believe that some of them really mean that. So, it's going to be interesting to see how far these families are willing to go to change the lifestyle that they have had out of that compound for the last four years.

COOPER: A lot of troubling questions remain. David Mattingly, appreciate it.

Hundreds of lawyers volunteered their time to represent the interests of these kids. Dallas attorney Susan Hayes is one of them. She's representing a 2-year-old girl from the compound. She joins us now, along with Jami Floyd, anchor of cable TV's "In Session."

Susan, do you think the judge's ruling was in the best interests of -- of your client and the other kids?

SUSAN HAYES, ATTORNEY FOR 2-YEAR-OLD GIRL: At this time, with what we know, it has to be, because we don't have enough facts to make sure individual children will be not exposed to any sexual abuse.

COOPER: What kind of facts do you need to know? I mean, do you know who the parents are of your child? Do you know how many other kids it's not clear who their parents are?

HAYES: I want to stay away from discussing the specifics of my case...


HAYES: ... because my client is a child.

But to talk in general about what is happening here, the ad litems, the attorneys represented to represent -- appointed to represent the children, we need as much information as we can, who the parents are, who the child believes his or her parents are, who the siblings are, who the child believes his or her siblings are.

And I will give you an example of that. One thing I have learned in the last 24 hours about the culture of this community is kids think -- believe they're brothers and sisters and consider as brothers and sisters the children of their mother's sister wives, whether or not they're blood-related or not.

Well, the judge also ordered DNA testing today, which has to be done. But I also hope the emotional bonds children have to brothers and sisters as the children define them are respected as this process plays out.

COOPER: It's an interesting point and one I guess I hadn't considered.

Jami, mandatory paternity and paternity testing was ordered. It's going to take place on Monday and Tuesday. What is going to happen? David Mattingly saying essentially the sect could be ordered to break up in some way.


COOPER: Is that even possible?

FLOYD: Well, you know what's fascinating about this? As unprecedented as this is, there may be some very old--fashioned law enforcement techniques going on, strategy.

Let's see if we can get these women, essentially, to flip on the men. Maybe these women care so much about these children -- and I think, in at least some of the cases, they may -- that they may be willing finally to break away from this, what some folks are calling a cult, others call a religious sect. But they may be willing to remove themselves from a situation which many others feel is abusive for their children.

I'm not saying I do, but it may be a strategic play by the government in this case. And it may in fact work, at least as to some of the children, not to break up the cult entirely, but to help dilute it somewhat, and especially the power of some of the men there.

COOPER: Susan, is there -- and, again, not talking about your client in particular, but is there a sense of do these kids -- I mean, obviously, I guess these kids want to go back to their families; they want to go back to the place they know.

HAYES: Well, first, I would like to respond to the previous comment.

The ruling today isn't a strategy by the government. The judge is not the government. The government is CPS. They're there to put on a case to show there's abuse. The judge is there to judge that evidence.

FLOYD: And, Susan...

HAYES: They're not in cahoots.


FLOYD: Susan, I -- I -- Susan, let me cut in, because I completely respect what you're saying. I also respect your work. And I wasn't suggesting that the judge was part of it.

HAYES: Right.

FLOYD: I'm talking about the authorities that went into the compound and those that are seeking to remove the children from the home. I'm not talking about the judge at all.

I have tremendous respect for what she's trying to do...



FLOYD: ... and the burden that she's facing.


COOPER: Susan, do we know what happens once the -- OK, the DNA testing is done Monday and Tuesday. It takes however long it takes. I have heard anywhere from a week to two weeks. What happens then?

HAYES: One, we don't wait for the DNA testing. The lawyers need as much information as we can get as soon as we can get it. The court system needs to work out any kinks, clean up any data, get us the -- access to information we need to do our jobs. And the state of Texas needs to get ready to cough up the resources it's going to take to handle these cases, these 400-plus children, in a way that protects their best interests, minimizes the trauma, and doesn't destroy families anymore than absolutely necessary to protect these children from abuse.

COOPER: Would it be a tragedy if -- well, I -- it's just so confusing, Susan. Try to help me out -- if -- would it be a tragedy if all the kids don't go back to their parents? I mean, if they're put in foster care, that seems shocking.



COOPER: That would seem shocking.

HAYES: I think that would be a horrible result. For a toddler, a 2- or 3-year-old -- and there are a lot of them in these cases -- in this case, to lose access to their parents, as they consider them to be their parents, and their siblings, as that child considers them to be their siblings, because sex abuse is happening three buildings over is a complete tragedy.

And that's what needs to be prevented here. The facts need to be sorted out as quickly as possible. The -- the system needs to organize itself, both the legal system, the judicial system, the human services system. And that's going to take money. It's going to take human resources and organization. So, we can sort it out as quickly as possible.

The other word I want to hear a lot of is cooperation. Parents needs to be cooperating with CPS. CPS needs to be cooperating for the lawyers. I think the more information that is flowing among the parties in this case outside of court, the quicker it's going to be resolved.

COOPER: Jami, we're going to be talking to Gary Tuchman in a moment about the original calls that were made...

FLOYD: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: ... that may have sparked all of this, allegedly from a 16-year-old girl named Sarah. Now there's this 32-year-old being interviewed as a person of interest.

FLOYD: Right.

COOPER: If that was -- if the initial calls were a hoax, does this whole thing get -- what -- what happens?


And I want to remind folks, I suggested from the beginning there might not be any 16-year-old girl, because this is a community that's long been targeted in this part of the country. However, with regard to the best interests of these children, now that the CPS and court has custody of them, that case goes forward, no what the...


COOPER: So, even if the initial raid was based on false information...

FLOYD: Right. Right.

COOPER: ... the fact that they have found 20-plus people who may have been impregnated at the age of 16, that -- that is what matters?


HAYES: The judge now is charged -- whatever the reason why this came before her, she now is charged with determining what is in the best interests of these children.

And that continues, whatever that initial -- the truth of that initial call. Criminal prosecutions, however, which I think we all thought were looming, that could start to fall away if that initial call was bad. There is a good-faith exception. Authorities can say, well, look, we believed this was really a 16-year-old girl in crisis, and we went in, and, therefore, we're going to proceed.

But a criminal case would be jeopardized if it does turn out that that initial call was a false one.

COOPER: It's -- it's confusing.

I appreciate, Jami, you coming in to help us sort it out, Jami Floyd.

And, Susan Hayes, I know it's been a long day for you. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

HAYES: Yes. Thank you.

COOPER: To say the least.

Our coverage of this case continues. So does the conversation online. I'm blogging tonight, as always. To join the conversation, go to

Coming up: more on the phone call that we just starting to talk about, the start of this whole thing, allegedly from a 16-year-old girl named Sarah. Now authorities are talking to this woman, 33-year- old woman, in possible connection with the raid. Was she the one who actually made the call pretending to be a 16-year-old girl named Sarah from the FLDS community?

And later: Hillary Clinton up close, in-depth -- what you might not know about the former first lady and how she became the person she is today, and also what she said on the campaign trail today about Barack Obama needing to toughen up. We will be right back.


COOPER: Fourteen and sixteen boys and girls taken from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas -- the judge ruling tonight all of them should remain in the state's custody.

Now, for more than two weeks, we have been operating under the assumption that a young woman's phone call triggered this whole raid, a 16-year-old girl named Sarah. But that was before we learned that police are now talking to a 33-year-old named Rosita Swinton.

360's Gary Tuchman is working the story, joins us now with exclusive details.

Gary, what in the heck is going on?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, a very bizarre and troubling development. Authorities raided the compound after getting calls from a girl in the sect who said she was being brutalized. But was that 16-year-old calling actually a 33-year-old impostor? It's possible.

And now you will be able to listen to this person's voice yourself.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Texas authorities raided the polygamist compound in Eldorado after they received frantic calls from a 16-year- old girl named Sarah, who they still haven't found, who said she was being abused and held against her will. Three days before the raid, Flora Jessop, a former member of the FLDS, who now works to rescue children at the sect, received a frantic call, too.

FLORA JESSOP, FORMER MEMBER, FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS: She told me her name was Sarah. She told me that she was beaten all the time. She was on medication. She was locked away in a basement.

TUCHMAN: After the raid, the calls kept coming, but, strangely, the girl now said she was an identical twin sister of Sarah, named Laurie (ph).

Flora allowed us to listen in, the girl exclaiming that she too was being abused, but was locked in a house basement at the church's headquarters in Colorado City, Arizona.

F. JESSOP: So, how old are you now?


F. JESSOP: Sixteen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am I going to get in trouble? F. JESSOP: No, you're not going to get in trouble. Oh, well, if you get caught by your dad, you will. But we will just have to make sure you don't get caught.

TUCHMAN: Flora was also talking with Texas authorities and recording the calls. She didn't know if this girl was Sarah or Sarah's twin. But, either way, she hoped authorities would rescue her.

F. JESSOP: You never are going to have to have sex with your dad again, because that's not right. You're going to be safe.


F. JESSOP: I'm not going to trick you, baby. I promise I'm not going to trick you. I'm going to protect you.

TUCHMAN: But now it turns out the trick may have been on Flora and the state of Texas. This 33-year-old Colorado woman, who lives hundreds of miles away from Texas and Arizona, was arrested this week and charged with making other phony calls in the past.

But authorities believe Rosita Swinton may have pretended again to be the FLDS girl locked in a basement.


TUCHMAN: CNN made the decision not to air these conversations last week when we thought this girl might be the missing Sarah or her twin. But now it's not clear if there ever was a Sarah to begin with. Investigators are trying to figure out if this woman was the probable cause that led to the raid in Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Texas Rangers showed up here on Wednesday. They worked with our detectives as part of their investigation.

F. JESSOP: Do you remember how you told me that your dad hurt your mom too sometimes?


TUCHMAN: Flora has up to 40 hours of taped conversations. The Texas Rangers have interviewed, listened to her tapes, and say Swinton is a person of interest in their investigation. They tells us they have found several items that indicate a possible connection between Swinton and the calls in Texas and Arizona. So, Swinton could be a Sarah impersonator.

F. JESSOP: It was amazing, the length that she went to, to perpetuate this.

TUCHMAN: Even if there is no real Sarah, authorities will likely argue the probable cause was discovered in good faith, and, since there are children involved, the legal proceedings should continue. Flora, for her part, says the suspect just called her again after she was released on bond. An exasperated Flora asked her why she lied.

F. JESSOP: She continued the ruse, said, "Everything I'm telling you is the truth."

And I said: "No, it's not. I think you're lying to me. I think you have been lying to me this entire time."

And I finally got her to admit that -- to me that her name was Rose.

TUCHMAN: We haven't been able to find Rose Swinton to talk to her, a woman with no apparent connection to this polygamist sect, but now a possibly huge connection to this most bizarre situation.


COOPER: This gets weirder and weirder.

Gary, you listened to more than hour of the calls. Did you ever think the person was an impostor?

TUCHMAN: You know, it was very emotional, listening to it, because she was crying and she was screeching and she was squeaking when she was talking. And we felt so terrible for her. And she really sounded like a teenager who was in trouble.

But I was also wondering -- we were listening for an hour and 15 minutes. And this young girl supposedly was locked in her basement. Her parents were in the house. And we were wondering how she would have a cell phone with her, why she would be willing to talk for that long if her parents were in the house and she was fearful. So, I was a little suspicious about that.

And the third thing, Anderson, that's really important is, this girl told Flora that the person who did this to her was a man named Dale Barlow. So, Dale Barlow's name was actually on the search warrant when they went into the ranch in Texas. Well, Texas authorities interviewed Dale Barlow, who wasn't even in Texas. He was in Arizona. And they have not arrested him. So, that was pretty suspicious, too.

COOPER: Bizarre.

What do the courts say about all this? We just talked to Jami Floyd, who said, look, even if this person did make -- do this, and it was a hoax, these charges are probably going to remain, because there was abuse, according to the state.

TUCHMAN: Well, we just got a reaction a short time ago. When the court ended, we talked to a court spokeswoman and asked her about this reporting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I have said is that I do believe that Sarah exists. And if you listen to the testimony, you will know that there were many Sarahs. We received information regarding Sarahs who were young, Sarahs who were pregnant, Sarahs who were mothers. Those names changed.

Just because perhaps someone else phoned that in, it really doesn't change our investigation, because we believe what we found was a systemic abuse of children, sexual abuse of children, and some physical abuse of children. And we believe that what we did was warranted. It was in the best interest of these children. And we are grateful that we were able to go in and to remove these children, and now try to keep them safe in an environment where they're protected.


COOPER: David Mattingly also joins us now from the courthouse, in addition to Gary Tuchman.

David, I mean, obviously, folks from the FLDS community are going to point to this and say, well, look, this whole thing was a hoax.

MATTINGLY: That's right.

You have to remember, this -- this community has been sequestered from the outside world by their choice. They have a great deal of distrust about the people on the outside world. And this experience has done nothing but reaffirm every suspicion that they have ever had about life in the outside world.

It's going to be more difficult, probably, in some ways to keep a dialogue going with them, except maybe with the mothers who are desperately trying to get their children back.

And when it comes to this custody case -- you just heard the state spokeswoman talking about this -- this train has left the station. It doesn't matter if that first call was a hoax or not. When they got there, they found 20 women, five of them still underage, all of them with evidence that they were either married, with children, and everything before the age of 17.

That's everything the state needed to keep this case going and realize that there was a problem there. So, again, that one phone call, whether it's a hoax or not, is almost irrelevant at this point when it comes to the future of these children.

COOPER: David Mattingly, again, appreciate the reporting, the update, and Gary Tuchman as well. Remarkable work, tracking down these calls.

Up next, reaction to today's developments from a former FLDS member. Carolyn Jessop joins us live. We will also go through the compound with her. FLDS members gave CNN a remarkable tour the other day, but what you don't see in these pictures is almost as interesting to us as what you do see. We will explain that ahead. And the big Midwest rumble, an earthquake strike, giving millions a wakeup call they never expected -- all that, and today on the campaign trail, and up close with Hillary Clinton coming up.


COOPER: More on our breaking news coming up: a judge ruling the 416 kids taken from Warren Jeffs' polygamist compound in Texas are going to remain in state custody. We will get reaction from former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop and take you inside the compound through her eyes.

First, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin and some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, tonight, Pope Benedict continues his U.S. tour here in New York, leading an ecumenical prayer service at a Catholic Church tonight.

Earlier, he became the first pope to visit a U.S. synagogue. This morning, he started the day addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Tomorrow, the pope will celebrate mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

A follow-up now on a story we brought you in our award-winning "Planet in Peril" documentary -- a U.S. maker of hard plastic baby bottles and water bottles now says it's going to stop selling products made with bisphenol A. Now, that decision -- BPA, as it's known -- comes after reports the Canadian government would label the plastic as toxic, and may actually ban it in baby bottles.

In Louisville, Kentucky, and across southern Illinois, some pockets of damage from this morning's 5.2-magnitude earthquake. Aftershocks could be felt as far away as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as far south as Atlanta, Georgia -- Anderson.


Up next, former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop joins us with her reaction to the breaking news tonight. We will also get a look at the compound and a remarkable tour through her eyes.

Also ahead: more Democratic debate fallout, today, Hillary Clinton telling Barack Obama, toughen up. We have got the "Raw Politics" and an up-close look at Hillary Clinton -- coming up.



MARILYN, MEMBER, FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS: The most delicious bread you will ever taste. This is where we eat our meals. Most of the time, it's full with children's noises, happy children eating their food. But it's quiet.


COOPER: That exclusive video was shot by CNN two day ago, giving the world really its first look inside the secretive FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas.

But, when Carolyn Jessop watched the video, she saw things the rest of us couldn't. Carolyn was born into the sect and forced to marry a man three times her age when she was 18. Now, five years ago, she fled, taking her eight kids with her. Her best-selling book, "Escape," is a chilling portrait of life inside the FLDS.

I wanted to her reaction to tonight's ruling in the custody case. Carolyn Jessop joins me now.

Carolyn, do you think, in good conscience, can these kids ever be returned to their families as long as the families continue to live in this sect under the existing rules they have now?

CAROLYN JESSOP, FORMER POLYGAMIST WIFE: If it's the existing rules they have now, then you are going to have the same problems that they have found.

I think that you're going to have to help the mothers and help them understand that they're accountable for the -- what they allowed -- the crimes they allowed to occur against their children. And if you do -- if society does that, then the perpetrators lose power, because many of these women, all they have in life is their children.

And I think that, if society holds them to a level of accountability, they will protect them. And -- and they need help to do that and help...

COOPER: You said all they have in their life is their children. That was -- that's really borne true, when you look at this video, this tour of the compound that CNN was given by a woman named Marilyn.

And, I mean, there's just -- it's like an institution. I mean, there's not -- there are not -- there's no personal belongings. There's nothing around.

I want to listen to a little bit of Marilyn showing us around, and then, yes, have you comment on it.


MARILYN: And it's the hardest thing in the world for me to come and sleep in this room with no little girls, knowing that they're in the hands of people that can't love them like a mother.


COOPER: You actually knew Marilyn when she was a little kid. What struck you about her in this video?

C. JESSOP: What struck me is just that she's -- she's like a female Warren. I mean, she's not -- she's not Marilyn anymore. It makes me wonder if the Marilyn that I used to know is still in there. I believe she is, but she's modeling Warren's behavior, Warren's...

COOPER: Warren Jeffs?

C. JESSOP: Yes, Warren's speech pattern, his posture, his phrases, the way that he talks. I mean, it's just like a female Warren.

It's also interesting in the video -- it caught our eye -- there are photos of Warren Jeffs everywhere in the house.

C. JESSOP: That was another things that was just disturbing to me, because, in this culture, it didn't used to be like that.

In my bedroom, my personal bedroom, I didn't have pictures of Warren or any prophet there. I had pictures of my children and my family. I didn't have that. And it's like that was void here. There were no pictures of their -- of her child on the wall.

COOPER: In their bedrooms, they also seemed to have an awful lot of beds in each room. Marilyn described how the mothers sleep in the same room as the kids.

C. JESSOP: And that was also very odd to me, because I had a bedroom that was my bedroom, and then my children had their rooms. I had a little nursery for my baby off of the bedroom. But -- but my bedroom was the only private place I had, because everything else in the family, we shared.

And, so, when I saw that in the -- in the footage, it was disturbing to me, because it -- that just seems like it would start to create some mental health issues when you don't have any space that's yours.

COOPER: Also, just the sparseness of the houses, I mean, it looked like a -- some sort of a sleepaway camp. There wasn't much personality in any of the rooms.

C. JESSOP: And that's something that's different than how things were when I was there.

We were all allowed, you know, in some ways, to a limited extent, based on what we could come up with financially -- we were allowed to put personal expression and design into the area that we lived in. And, so, we all lived together in a 17,000-square-foot home, and the design didn't flow, because every woman had her area that she wanted to have be a little bit of her. And we were allowed that.

And this was completely void of that. It was like an institution. There was nothing personal. There was nothing -- there was no feminine touch that we used to have in our homes.

COOPER: Carolyn, again, I appreciate you being on the program. I know it's been a long day for you, as well. Thank you very much for being with us. JESSOP: Thank you.

COOPER: Carolyn blogged for us today about her life in the FLDS. It's a fascinating read. You can see it at on our blog.

Just ahead on the trail, the Clinton-Obama battle gets even uglier. Is that possible? Punches, counter-punches and a big announcement by a long-time Clinton friend who served in her husband's cabinet. The "Raw Politics" coming up.

Plus, up close with Hillary Clinton. Some things you may not know about her long journey to presidential candidate. Tonight on 360.



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some of you see that debate the other night? Well, I know that some of my opponent's supporters and my opponent are kind of complaining about the hard questions.

Well, having been in the White House for eight years and seeing what happens in terms of the pressures and the stresses on a president, that was nothing.


COOPER: Hillary Clinton in Radnor, Pennsylvania, today stepping up her attack on Barack Obama for his criticism of Wednesday night's debate.

Obama's campaign shot right back, saying Clinton's, quote, "blatant hypocrisy" is stunning. The latest round between the two comes just four days before the Pennsylvania primary, of course.

Today, Obama picked up the endorsement of former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich, as well as ex-Democratic senators, Sam Nunn and David Boren.

Senator Clinton picked up two super delegates.

Then there's this: a new national poll of polls released today shows Obama with an 11-point lead over Clinton as the Democratic voters' choice for nominee.

All of this week we've been taking a close look at the White House hopefuls. We've already profiled John McCain and Barack Obama. Our hope is to give you new information about the candidates, their lives and the moments and the milestones that have made them the people who they are today.

Tonight, Hillary Clinton, up close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) H. CLINTON: What kind of insurance have you been able to get?

COOPER (voice-over): For some, her path to victory may seem impossible.

H. CLINTON: How are you all doing?

COOPER: But for Hillary Rodham Clinton, there's no such thing.

H. CLINTON: When it comes to finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now comes Whitewater.

COOPER: No stranger to tough times, Clinton has been through battles and scandals...


COOPER: ... but the fighter in her has always persevered. Critics say her ability to do so is because she's cold and calculating. Others see it as her biggest strength.

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY: Hillary Clinton never takes the chips when they're down. It's always if the chips are down, how do we pick them back up and start moving forward again? That's her.

H. CLINTON: Well, I don't write newspaper headlines, which should be obvious to everyone. But...

CAPUTO: She has always been a fighter. Ever since the day I met her.

BETSY EBELING, FRIEND: She's always, you know, gotten back up. So it's beyond expecting. It's just really part of her fabric.

COOPER: Clinton is the oldest child of Dorothy Rodham, a homemaker, and Hugh Rodham, a fabric store owner. Constantly challenged, she was taught to work hard, stick up for herself and to always compete.

EBELING: Her mom really did tell her she could do anything she put her mind to. And her dad said, "Prove it to me. Maybe that's the difference between Dorothy and you." And she constantly did. She constantly proved it.

COOPER: Do you think she still hears her dad's voice?

EBELING: Oh, yes.

COOPER: Hillary Rodham grew up in the '50s in the all-white Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, where almost everyone, her father included, was a staunch Republican.

EBELING: It was just pretty much expected you would be a Republican. That was the stronger party.

COOPER: Hillary was an active young Republican and in her teens became a Goldwater girl, volunteering in support of conservative Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election.

But along the way, she had met Methodist youth minister Don Jones, who urged young adults to look beyond the conventional wisdom of Park Ridge. Even taking them to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak in downtown Chicago during Hillary's junior year in high school.

EBELING: That was huge. And you know, this incubator, I guess, the way you would call it that allowed us to see first hand so many things that really did change us.

COOPER: In the fall of 1965, Hillary left Republican Park Ridge and headed east to Massachusetts and the all-girls school Wellesley College.

ALAN SCHECTER, FORMER PROFESSOR AND THESIS ADVISER AT WELLESLEY: Hillary was a very serious student. When I say serious student, I mean serious about her work. I don't mean serious about her personality, because she was very likable and outgoing.

COOPER: True to her Park Ridge roots, Hillary was president of Wellesley's Young Republicans during her freshman year. But by the late 1960s, Hillary, like so many in her generation, began to question the conventional wisdom of her parents' generation.

SCHECTER: Intellectually, she was quite interested in what I would describe as progressive change within our society, towards a more egalitarian society.

COOPER: In the summer of '68, she snagged an internship with the House Republican Conference under then minority leader Gerald Ford and attended the Republican National Convention in Miami.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The voting on the convention floor went according to the Nixon plan.

COOPER: Where the party adopted the infamous "Southern Strategy," exploiting racial tensions to win white voters.

SCHECTER: The experience there pushed her away from the Republican Party. One would have to guess, if the Republican Party hadn't moved to the right at that time, whether she might have stayed as a Republican.

COOPER: That experience not only altered her political course, but it helped her find her voice.

SCHECTER: It was said she speaks for her generation.


COOPER: Next on 360, Hillary finds her calling and meets Bill Clinton for the first time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): She focused on issues concerning children's rights. And in 1971, found another interest: fellow Yale law student Bill Clinton.

EBELING: He was great. He fit right in. He was lots of fun. My mother said to Hillary, don't let this one get away. He makes you laugh.

COOPER: After graduating in 1973, Bill asked for Hillary's hand in marriage, which she declined.



COOPER: This week we've gone up close with Barack Obama, John McCain and tonight Hillary Clinton, popular, polarizing and now presidential candidate. She wants to make history this year, and it's not the first time.

Our up close look at Clinton's quest for the White House continues with a speech and a turning point.


H. CLINTON: In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boy's club of presidential politics.

COOPER: Nearly 40 years ago, in the spring of '69, Hillary Rodham became the first student in Wellesley College history to speak at commencement. Her fiery speech on the struggles facing the country branded her a trailblazer.

SCHECTER: It seemed to me it was much more an example of what one might call the new woman that was emerging in the 1960s.

COOPER: In the fall of 1969, she headed to Yale Law School, where she was one of just 27 women in a class of 235 students.

EBELING: She always wanted to be a doctor but discovered she couldn't stand the sight of blood. So I guess being a lawyer was the next best thing.

COOPER: At Yale she focused on issues concerning children's rights and in 1971 found another interest: fellow Yale law student Bill Clinton.

EBELING: He was great. He fit right in, he was lots of fun. My mother said to Hillary, "Don't let this one get away. He makes you laugh."

COOPER: After graduating in 1973, Bill asked for Hillary's hand in marriage, but she declined.

EBELING: I don't think she figured she'd get married that young. And I'm sure she thought she would stay out east.

COOPER: Bill left for Arkansas, while Hillary stayed in Massachusetts to be an attorney for the Children's Defense Fund.

At just 26 years old, she joined 44 other attorneys in Nixon's impeachment inquiry. But after Nixon resigned, she left D.C. f or Arkansas to be with Bill.

(on camera) Did it surprise you when she decided, rather than to become a trial lawyer in Washington, to go to Arkansas?

EBELING: Oh, yes. But when she called me to say she was going to go to Arkansas to see if this was really going to work, I remember thinking, "Arkansas, exactly where is it? It's one of those 'A' states" somewhere out there.

COOPER: Not sure where it was?


COOPER (voice-over): On October 11, 1975, the couple exchanged vows in a small ceremony in their living room.

EBELING: I think she was kind of amazed that it was actually happening.

COOPER: When Bill was elected governor of Arkansas in 1978, Hillary became the first, first lady of the state to continue working, as a lawyer at Rose Law Firm, and in 1979 she was named partner.

A year later, Hillary reached a personal milestone when she gave birth to their daughter, Chelsea Victoria.

EBELING: I think what she decided was the best identity she had was Chelsea's mom.

COOPER: Even with motherhood, Hillary's career continued to rise. And in 1991, she was named one of the 100 most influential U.S. lawyers by the "National Law Journal."

But her husband's career would eventually take precedent.

MARY STEENBURGEN, FRIEND: When Bill ran for president, Hillary's No. 1 concern was for Chelsea, for making sure that her life could be as normal as possible.

COOPER: Their attempt to keep Chelsea out of the spotlight would be one of their successes. But for Hillary, there was no hiding.

GENNIFER FLOWER, ACCUSED BILL CLINTON OF AFFAIR: I was Bill Clinton's lover for 12 years.

COOPER: From allegations of Bill's affairs...

H. CLINTON: I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. COOPER: ... to defending her choice to have a career.

H. CLINTON: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea.

COOPER: She found herself in the eye of the storm as critics declared her a radical feminist and anti-family.

CAPUTO: It was really the first time she was thrust into a national media spotlight as the spouse of a presidential candidate.

COOPER: But all this would just be a blip on the radar compared to what she'd have to endure over the next eight years in the White House.

STEENBURGEN: I definitely looked at my friend and felt like life is asking an awful lot of you right now.


COOPER: Next, scandal, setbacks and a rocky road for Hillary Clinton.


COOPER (voice-over): On January 26, 1996, Hillary testified before a federal grand jury, another first for a first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you rather have been somewhere else today?

H. CLINTON: About a million other places today.

CAPUTO: It pained her deeply to see so many of her staff, myself included, be put through all of that. It was a mess.



COOPER: Family, work, service. Hillary Clinton says she's tried to find a right balance for all three during her husband's 1992 presidential campaign. Now 16 years later she says family is still a priority. So is being the next president of the United States.

Where did that drive come from? That's what we've been trying to look at this week with all the candidates. The answer in our last chapter for Hillary Clinton, up close.


COOPER (voice-over): Right from the start, Hillary Rodham Clinton was not your typical first lady.

CAPUTO: I knew that this was going to be an incredible ride and that I'd better fasten my seat belt. BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This task force will be chaired by the first lady.

COOPER: In January of 1993, she took her husband up on his unprecedented offer to lead the task force on national health care reform, slugged "Hillary Care" by opponents.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I find the first lady's unfair and unfounded characterization of our intentions to be entirely inappropriate.

COOPER: The plan was seen as too radical by many critics.

H. CLINTON: I'm here as an American citizen.

COOPER: It eventually went nowhere in Congress, and Hillary took the heat for its demise. But she could not retreat fully from the spotlight.

CAPUTO: She began to play a role to forge change in smaller increments. That was a real testament to her not taking defeat and pouting, but rather learning from that experience.

COOPER: As first lady, Hillary found herself at the center of several investigations. But nothing plagued her years in the White House like Whitewater.

On January 26, 1996, Hillary testified before a federal grand jury, another first for a first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you rather have been somewhere else today?

H. CLINTON: Oh, about a million other places today.

CAPUTO: It pained her deeply to see so many of her staff, myself included, be put through all of that. It was a mess.

KEN STARR, FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: We want all the truth.

COOPER: Seven years and some $70 million later, the investigation would conclude with no charges being filed. But friends say the damage was already done.

CAPUTO: To this day, it's still something that bothers her.

COOPER: During the good times and bad, Hillary kept a busy schedule.

STEENBURGEN: This was a first lady who rolled up her sleeves, made some big, famous mistakes, and also lifted people up.

H. CLINTON: Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights, once and for all.

COOPER: Focused on the rights of women and children and health care, she visited nearly 80 countries as first lady. Her recent accounts of one of those trips to Bosnia still haunts her today on the campaign trail.

But wherever she was in the world, friends say her role as mother always came first.

CAPUTO: No matter how much Hillary Clinton had to juggle on a daily basis, her No. 1 priority was Chelsea, first and foremost, as well as her husband.

COOPER: On January 26, 1998, Hillary stood beside her husband.

B. CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

COOPER: With all eyes on her, she forged ahead, defending her husband's innocence.

H. CLINTON: This vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband.

COOPER: But nearly seven months later, on August 15, her husband woke her to tell the truth.

B. CLINTON: Indeed I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate.

COOPER (on camera): Some people were surprised that she stayed with her husband. Were you surprised?

EBELING: No, because they worked very hard at it. They really love each other. You know, you spend even five minutes with them and you know that. So -- but it was hard work. It was very hard work. And it was just something they had to do in front of the whole world.

COOPER: Do you think that event changed her?

EBELING: Yes. It would alter anybody, you know. And Chelsea was the most important thing to both of them. And that's the way they found their way back to each other, was definitely through Chelsea.

COOPER (voice-over): Hillary would later write in her autobiography, "Living History," that her decision to stay married to Bill was one of the hardest decisions of her life.

H. CLINTON: I had to decide what I had to do. And I think it's so important to be able to hear yourself at a moment when it's hard.

COOPER: Another hard decision was whether or not to run for U.S. Senate.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: And I said wouldn't it be great for a town like New York state to have someone like you as a senator.

STEENBURGEN: I watched her go from absolutely laughing at him and not taking him seriously to having this little moment where you saw her go, "Could I even think about doing that?"

COOPER: On February 6, 2000, Hillary broke ground as the first, first lady to run for political office.

H. CLINTON: I love New York to start with. I always have.

COOPER: Despite being called a carpet bagger with no ties to New York, she won with 55 percent of the vote.

H. CLINTON: Wow, this is amazing. Thank you all.

COOPER: As senator, she kept a low profile, determined to gain respect for her hard work, rather than because of her name.

STEENBURGEN: There's no sense of entitlement. She understands that life is about proving yourself.

H. CLINTON: I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sending me back to the Senate.

COOPER: And in 2006, she won re-election to a second term. But her eyes were already on a bigger goal.

H. CLINTON: I'm in. I'm in to win, and that's what I intend to do. Thank you all very much.

COOPER: Critics have said her quest to be the first female president is part of some master plan. But those closest to her say it isn't about serving her ego.

TED DANSON, FRIEND: She genuinely does want to serve people. You know, you'd have to be an idiot to have spent eight years in the White House and think that, boy, this is something to aspire to, unless you aspire to serving people.

COOPER: The battles through the years have prepared her for this unprecedented race, and friends say if anyone can go the distance, Hillary can.

H. CLINTON: Thank you.


COOPER: All this week we've been trying to show you the people behind the candidates, behind all the spin, behind all the attack ads and wanted to give you, the voters, a sense of who you might want to select to be our next president.

Just ahead, the weatherman who was on the air this morning when an earthquake struck. Was he just extremely cool-headed or comatose?

But first Erica Hill joins us again with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, I'm sure he's level-headed. Anderson, former U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, meeting with Syria's president today and also held a controversial closed-door meeting with the exiled leader of Hamas. U.S. and Israeli officials condemn the session for giving legitimacy to a group they consider a terrorist organization. On Tuesday, Carter met with two other Hamas officials in Cairo.

Stocks rallied on strong earnings reports from major companies, including Google and Microsoft, the Dow surging more than 228 points today to close at 12,849. The NASDAQ up 61. The S&P gained nearly 25 points.

And in Southern California, a high-speed chase ends peacefully, thanks to a spike strip which forced the driver of the reportedly stolen SUV to finally pull over. That chase lasted more than 90 minutes, crossed three counties and hit speeds of up to 100 miles an hour, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, quick, you're a trained meteorologist and an earthquake hits while you're on the air. What do you do? Is this guy just keeping his cool? Let's see.

Plus, new developments in the search for the mystery caller who triggered the raid at the polygamist compound. Could this woman actually -- this 33-year-old woman actually be that alleged 16-year- old girl who called in? All that's ahead on 360.


COOPER: Time for "The Shot." More on that earthquake we mentioned in the Midwest today, a magnitude 5.2. Scary stuff. The epicenter was in Illinois. The quake was felt as far away as northeast Georgia.

WFIE-TV in Evansville, Indiana, about 40 miles away from the epicenter, was just going to a weather segment, of all things, when the shaking began. Watch how cool meteorologist Byron Douglas was able to remain throughout the earthquake. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we're in for another warm day in the tri-state. It sounds like some rain is on the way -- Byron.

BYRON DOUGLAS, METEOROLOGIST, WFIE-TV: Yes, we're hearing some shaking here. Sounds like we have an earthquake here. So we'll have to check that out here. I'm just guessing, or maybe we had some brief gusting -- was it an earthquake?


DOUGLAS: OK. So we're seeing a little shake here. It's not uncommon. We live here along the New Madrid Fault here.

We're at 73 and 50, 68 and 44.


COOPER: Amazingly cool-headed.

HILL: So calm.

COOPER: If there was an earthquake when I was on the air, I don't think I could do it.

HILL: I would never be that calm. But maybe if you're a meteorologist, you know what's going on.

COOPER: There you go. Good job, Byron Douglas.

The quake, I guess, was actually the strongest in the region in 40 years, caused some minor damage. Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries.

HILL: That is the last thing you expect, though, in that neighborhood of the country.

COOPER: I know, just -- when I read about it this morning, I couldn't believe it.

Anyway, if you see some remarkable video, tell us about it:

Coming up at the top of the hour, explosive new developments in the FLDS child custody case and the phone call that triggered the whole episode. New information about the woman -- that woman who authorities were talking to. Was the 16-year-old woman caller actually that woman, 33-year-old woman who's now a person of interest for police?

That and a whole lot more, next.