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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Obama Speaks Out; Veepstakes; Other Clinton Supporters Still not Backing Obama; Barack Obama's Family; Driving through Fire; Honor Killing
Aired July 8, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The latest on Obama's progressive pushback, the search for a vice president and John McCain's pushback on Iraq withdrawal.
Also Obama's kids, their first interview. It's America's first look at the entire family. Hear what his two young daughters think of their dad and mom being in the spotlight 24/7. We'll also look at why Obama is putting his kids on camera now.
And a dad in court charged with murdering his own daughter; accused of acting out a deadly tradition from his native country, "honor killing." Did he actually take his own daughter's life just to save face? And how common is "honor killing" in America? We'll investigate in "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
But we begin tonight, with Barack Obama's counterattack, insisting he's not moving to the center. His strongest words yet trying to bury the notion before it spreads that he's just another politician who shifts with the wind. That's how the Republicans and even some liberal supporters are painting him most recently after his several news conferences last week on getting of Iraq. Today, Obama struck back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This whole notion that I am, you know, shifting to the center or that I'm flip- flopping or this, that, or the other. The people who say this apparently haven't been listening to me. And I have to say some of it are my friends on the left and some of the media.
I am somebody who is no doubt progressive. I believe in a tax code that we need to make more "fair." I believe in universal health care. I believe in making college affordable.
I believe in paying our teachers more money. I believe in early childhood education. I believe in a whole lot of things that make me progressive and squarely in the Democratic camp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's not all he said today. Here with the details and late reactions CNN's Jessica Yellin.
Obama's obviously aggressively attacking this notion that not just that he's moving to the center but also that he's a flip-flopper.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is Anderson, but for good reason. The flip-flopper label has derailed Democratic candidates in the past. Take for example John Kerry four years ago.
So look, the Obama folks believe the flip-flop charge is driven by the McCain campaign and that the media is just picking up on it. In fact, the one thing that Obama's own supporters are really attacking him for is his reversal on FISA, the warrantless wiretapping law that he once promised to oppose.
His supporters are so upset that 23,000 of them signed an Internet petition sort of on an Obama's site asking him to go back to his original position.
So yes, the McCain campaign is definitely pushing this storyline, but you can't say its media generated or McCain-generated because even that sound bite you just played, that was in response to a voter asking Obama if he's changing positions. So clearly it's in voter's minds too.
COOPER: A lot of this Jessica started with criticism especially this week and at the end of the last week that his position on Iraq had shifted. He tried to clarify that again today. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When I hear John McCain saying we can't surrender, we can't wave the white flag, nobody is talking about surrender. We're talking about common sense. We cannot be there forever. We can't be there for 50 years.
We can't afford it. Our military families can't bear that burden. We've got to get more troops into Afghanistan.
I am going to bring this war to an end. So don't be confused. I will bring the Iraq war to a close when I'm president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Does the campaign feel they've put this issue on Iraq behind them?
YELLIN: Well, they know they stopped the bleeding last week, but they really need to a sort of close the wounds now. I mean they really have to go further than this. And it's tricky, because there's a real danger if Obama abandons his original promise to drawdown troops, he'll never escape this flip-flop label.
On the other hand, a good commander-in-chief adapts to circumstances. So we have to show some flexibility. The problem is this one issue on Iraq comes with a litany of other issues he's being accused of flip- flopping on.
And so what he really needs to do is find one issue where he says I'm not changing in any way on this one issue, really emphasize that to show that he does stand his ground on certain points.
COOPER: "Digging Deeper," now, Jessica, thanks.
"Digging Deeper" on Obama's insistence he's not moving to the center as well as new comments by John McCain on this second straight day of Iraqi leaders calling on Americans to set a timetable for getting out of Iraq.
We're joined tonight by CNN's senior political analysts, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, also Carl Bernstein, CNN analyst and author of, "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."
All right David, I asked you last time is Obama moving to the center and you said no doubt about it. He says he's not.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he is. I think certainly the positions that he's taken on abortion and on guns suggest to many voters -- I think rightly so -- that he's not an ideological man of the left.
Yes, he has progressive -- he comes out of progressive tradition, but any time you read anything by Barack Obama, say "the Audacity of Hope" to his book, it's very clear that he is a man who is a synthesizer.
He takes most of his positions from the left, but there are some things on the center and indeed some on the right that he agrees with.
And when he comes out and talks about those, as he has in the last few days, one issue after another that sounded like they were putting him to the center, it sounded like he was cantering more toward the center. Not that he was abandoning progressives, but that he was embracing the center too. He was, if you would like, a center left candidate, not just a left candidate.
I happen to think this brouhaha will blow over and he's better served by being what he truly believes in. And on Iraq, you know, if anything, the Maliki statements and the Iraqi position statements over the last couple of days as you just cited saying we need to have some deadlines here on U.S. troop presence, play into his hands and strengthen his position.
So I don't think -- I think that -- I frankly he were into a lot of static at this time because I don't think this is going to be very determinative over time. But it's interesting how sensitive he is to it.
COOPER: Carl, do tonight's comments satisfy those on the left who are worried that he is moving to the center?
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: First of all, those on the left are never going to be totally satisfied. First of all, he is a centrist, but he's a non-ideological candidate; unlike other candidates that we've seen. He thinks himself as post-ideological. He appeals to Republicans on some issues, Democrats on others.
And in terms of the war, he's always left himself room for exactly these circumstances. Jessica is absolutely right.
Where he has changed what he said before is on the FISA, on the question of wiretap authority, surveillance, et cetera, et cetera. And that's what's got the left up the ball because it's a basic constitutional issue.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But he's also changed himself on the question of public financing of campaigns and he's done it because he knows now that he can raise a couple hundred million dollars pretty easily, and why would he disarm given the fact that he can raise this kind of money?
I think the issue here is what is John McCain going to do with this? And in the general election, John McCain is running a character-based campaign.
And if he can turn all of this into some sort of proof that Barack Obama is just another politician, that he can lower his altitude a little bit and say, he's very self-serving, he's all about winning, he's not about hope, he's just about winning, which is exactly what McCain is going to do that it hurts him.
COOPER: And some of the things that McCain intimate in the commercial today, that he really talking about of Barack Obama's words.
David, let's talk a little about Iraq and McCain. As we mentioned, yesterday Iraq's prime minister said that any future agreement with the U.S. should include a timetable for withdrawal.
I want to play McCain's reaction from a short time ago today. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And since we are succeeding, then I am convinced as I've said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor not according to a set timetable. And I'm confident that's what the Prime Minister Maliki is talking about, because he's told me that in many meetings with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How does this hurt or help McCain or Obama?
GERGEN: Well, it -- listen, the Bush administration, as you well know, Anderson, and John McCain have been very firmly against any sort of deadlines on a U.S. troop presence. And the Iraqis are clearly now feeling more secure because of the success we've had.
They feel -- Maliki feels like he's got more control over the office. He doesn't feel as threatened personally, and they're beginning to assert their sovereignty. And it's quite inconvenient for Senator McCain as well as for the president for the Iraqis suddenly to say, you know that your long-term agreement you wanted about your presence here? We don't want that. We want a short-term agreement.
We would also like to have assertions of sovereignty. And by the way, we would like to have a deadline for withdrawal of your troops.
All of that is very contrary what John McCain has said that he wants and what the Bush administration stands for. But the withdrawal is exactly what -- a withdrawal deadline is exactly what the Democrats have been talking about all this time.
COOPER: McCain also went on to say that this is all domestic politics in Iraq that these public comments are kind of jockeying for position.
We got to take a short break. We'll have more about this conversation. Also, we're live blogging. You can join our conversation online, our new Website, ac360.com.
Up next, the veepstakes for McCain and Obama. The latest on who's in the running, who's out. Is Hillary Clinton still even a possibility?
Also for the first time Obama's little daughters speak. Sasha and Malia, their first interview and why their parents are taking the whole bunch public now.
And later, did a Pakistani man bring twisted notions of honor to America? Did he kill his daughter just to save face? She wanted out of an arranged marriage and now authorities say it was an "honor killing."
That and more when "360" continues.
COOPER: Barack Obama campaigning today in Powder Springs, Georgia, trying to turn a red state blue this fall. The latest polling in Georgia shows him anywhere from ten points behind to within the margin of error.
Also today, his campaign brought on yet another senior Clinton staffer. The question now, will Obama put her old boss on his ticket and if not her, then who?
Once again, here's CNN's Jessica Yellin.
YELLIN: Barack Obama's lists of VP options have gotten shorter. Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland say they don't want the job. General Wesley Clark seems to have killed his chances when he said John McCain's military record doesn't qualify him to be president. Obama still has plenty of options, but the choice is tricky.
On the one hand, he has every reason to pick someone who will reinforce his message of change and bipartisanship; perhaps a woman, like the Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius or Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine, both Democrats in red states. On the other hand, he could pick a running mate to beef up his foreign policy credentials. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Joseph Biden, one- time U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson both fit the bill or Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
The problem with these guys, they're Washington insiders. Not the so- called change America's been looking for. The candidate isn't offering any clues.
OBAMA: The vice presidency is the most important decision that I'll make before I'm president. And it's something that I take very seriously.
YELLIN: Some would bridge the gap. Senator Evan Bayh has foreign policy experience and red state appeal. He's from Indiana. Or Senator Ken Salazar could bring Colorado and the Hispanic vote. And then, of course, there's Hillary Clinton.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: We're going to look at McCain's options in a moment. Let's "Dig Deeper" now on Obama's possible picks.
Were joined once again CNN'S senior political analyst David Gergen, Gloria Borger, along with CNN's political analyst Carl Bernstein.
David, what do you think, Obama is going to choose someone to shore up his vulnerability on national security? Or perceived vulnerability?
GERGEN: Anderson, I think he's got to make a choice, there's Hillary Clinton and then there's everybody else. And this is not only the most important decision he's got to make but the toughest decision he's got to make because the pressure is now building from the Clinton side.
I talked to one of the major fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton today, and he said, look, the stories have been running in the Wall Street Journal the last couple of days. The Clinton folks are coming to Denver looking either for a roll call or to raise hell.
And those are not good options for the Obama people. They have to conclude these negotiations with Senator Clinton and conclude them in a happy way before they get to Denver.
COOPER: Gloria, who do you think makes the most sense for Obama to pick?
BORGER: Well, and just a follow-up on David, I don't think it's going to be Hillary Clinton, because he would look weak if he gave in to that kind of pressure. He does have to settle with her campaign on whether she's going to call the roll at the convention.
I think a couple of good folks are the Bs, Biden and Bayh. Biden is older but he does offer him that national security credibility. So does Evan Bayh, also somebody with a lot of credibility on foreign policy. And by the way was a Hillary Clinton supporter. Indiana was a very important state for her.
And I think if he were to choose a Clinton person that might make some of those Clinton people happy.
COOPER: Carl, what are you hearing? Hillary Clinton?
BERNSTEIN: Well today, I was amazed that somebody who really knows something about what's going on and said to me that Hillary would be the nominee if it weren't for Bill and the baggage he both brings to it, particularly since the campaign has ended and his petulance and a continued anger and kind of meltdown mode. And that they're moving away from Hillary if they can help it.
But I think the names that are most under consideration -- what Obama has to do, he and his people knows have somebody there that can, with the American people say, that person can be the president, step into the job like that. And Biden and Nunn are the two names that you hear the most; particularly Biden I think right now.
Biden could also be Secretary of State in that set-up piece that Jessica did there. He was in Georgia. Georgia could be won if Nunn were on the ticket perhaps, Sam Nunn, the former senator from Georgia. But the Hillary situation is fascinating because if he needs Hillary Clinton to win, he'll pick her.
COOPER: We're going to end it. In a little while look at Hillary Clinton's supporters and why so many of them seem so long -- or right now are not supporting Barack Obama. We're going to have more with the panel.
Next, who John McCain is looking at to be his vice president, including a couple of surprises.
And later, they're back on the trail together this week. But as I said, are Hillary supporters buying the "Unity Talk," new details on so-called Hillary holdouts.
And the Obama family, kids and all together, on national television today for the first time. We'll hear the interview tonight on "360."
COOPER: Well, John McCain has got a lineup of vice-presidential choices ranging from a billionaire New York Mayor to a former Democratic running mate to the woman who once ran Hewlett-Packard.
The details now on his choices from CNN's Jessica Yellin.
YELLIN: A number of governors seem to be in constant audition mode for the job. From the battleground state of Florida, Governor Charlie Crist, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, the youngest governor in the nation and South Carolina's Mark Sanford, all strong social conservatives would fill in a gap in McCain's resume. Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty has all that plus, he's another swing-state guy.
AMY WALTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HOTLINE: He's a two-term governor but he also has relationship with the Evangelical community.
YELLIN: On the other hand, McCain who made no secret he's running on national security could pick a number two who would beef up the ticket's economy credentials; former rival and business superstar Mitt Romney, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina or former Congressman, Rob Portman. The candidate's guiding philosophy?
MCCAIN: I don't think you have to be close friends as much as you have to share the principles, the values, the goals et cetera, but also the priorities. And I think the hardest things -- one of the most difficult aspect of being president of the United States --
YELLIN: That doesn't really narrow it down much.
Some wild card picks include Independents like Joe Lieberman, a foreign policy ally or New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. Either would prove McCain's bipartisan credentials but could alienate conservatives.
And the latest buzz, South Dakota Senator John Thune, who virtually screams of youth and vitality, qualities that could be a good match for the older McCain or could highlight his age.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Let's "Dig Deeper" once again with David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and Carl Bernstein.
Gloria, last week "Politico" reported that Mitt Romney topped McCain's short list. But there was so much animosity during the primaries. Is it all forgiven, does it just not matter?
BORGER: I think as McCain said, in Jessica's piece, they don't have to be close buddies. They have to have the same world view. So I do think Romney is on the short list.
I was also told today by a good source that Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota has also made the cut to be on top of -- or on the short list. Pawlenty is popular with Evangelical Conservatives and that would help McCain with those base Republican voters.
COOPER: David, what do you make of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal? Newt Gingrich is lobbying hard for him. I think he called him the most transformational young governor in America. Does he bring enough to the ticket? He's 37 years old.
GERGEN: Well, it's a very long short list, isn't it? He is going to be in the mix in part because he does have this vitality, he does have the youthfulness. But I think -- and he's clearly going to be a superstar in Republican ranks the way he's going. But I just would be surprised, going back to Carl Bernstein's analysis, which I thought was spot-on about the Hillary Clinton situation. Carl emphasized how important it was for Barack Obama to have someone with experience and of stature.
John McCain, not because he's inexperienced, but because of his age, needs someone who can step in; the country will accept that. And it does seem to me that points, even though he doesn't like him very much, toward Mitt Romney.
COOPER: Carl, what about Joe Lieberman?
BERNSTEIN: That's just poking the Democrats in the eyes. Look, I think there are two people that are really at the top of the short list. I just talked to somebody on the phone before the show tonight. And that's Portman, former Congressman who was head of the Office of Management and Budget, and Romney.
And Romney, I think right now is believed to have the edge because McCain keeps thinking he has to move right. While Obama is being accused of moving to the center or is moving more to the center, McCain keeps going to this idea he needs this Republican base.
In fact, George Bush beat McCain in 2000. And he could beat him again in 2008, George Bush could, if he keeps going to the right like this. I think that the problem with Romney is to narrow the appeal to the base.
Gloria got something exactly right here. And about John McCain, if he is to win the presidency, and the pros believe right now, he's five, six, maybe seven points down, not that that means anything at this stage that he has got to demonstrate that he has the kind of character that he had in 2000.
And that means not messing around with easy stuff and tricks like bringing in Bobby Jindal or whatever. He needs to have somebody there who can be the president. He needs to not make remarks like he made today about well, if we keep giving Iranian cigarettes, maybe we'll kill them all.
That reminds people of how his mouth sometimes goes in front of his head. It's all a package. And right now his campaign is in trouble.
COOPER: And no more teleprompters.
We're going to have to leave it there. Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, Gloria Borger, good to have you on. Thanks.
Up next, she's out of the race and backing Barack Obama, we all know that. So why do so many Hillary Clinton supporters still say they're not voting for him? We'll go "Up Close."
Also ahead, the Obama Family like you haven't seen them, their young daughters on camera speaking out for the first time.
But first, tonight's "Beat 360." Prince Harry making a gesture during a football match. Here's the caption from our staff winner, Brooke, "Prince Harry demonstrates his new gang sign."
Think you can do better? I'm pretty sure you can. Go to our new Website ac360.com, click on the "Beat 360" link. Send us your entry and we'll announce the winner at the end of the program tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider. I hope you'll join me, I hope you'll stand with me. I hope you'll work as hard for Senator Obama as many of you did for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Is it just me or does that seem like that happened a long time ago? It was actually just 11 days ago in Unity, New Hampshire.
Hillary Clinton officially throwing her support behind Obama and urging her supporters to join her. Not all of her supporters though have come around. And in fact, from the latest CNN Opinion Research Poll, nearly a third of Clinton supporters said they would stay home on Election Day rather than vote for Obama.
That's up from 22 percent in early June. Just over half, 54 percent, said they are planning to back Obama. That was actually down from 60 percent in early June. Clinton supporters are cooling to John McCain as well just 10 percent said they would back him down from 17 percent.
So beyond those poll numbers, there's the cash factor. Clinton supporters from rank and file Democrats and major donors don't seem to be pawning-up the money that the Obama campaign had hoped to see.
"Up Close" tonight, why they're holding out. Here's "360's" Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the picture of Democratic Unity. They are scheduled for three fund- raisers together in New York this week. But when it comes to campaign cash, this political kumbaya might have its limits.
Some fund-raisers for Hillary Clinton are pressuring the Obama campaign to honor her policy positions and her campaign debt. They want her name placed in nomination at the Democratic Convention and they are balking at writing checks for Obama.
LYNN FORRESTER, MAJOR CLINTON DONOR: I certainly know there are lots of people who are withholding their money.
JOHNS: This is when Lynn Forrester launched a Website bringing Clinton supporters together to pressure Obama. She's one of the so- called Hill-raisers who brought in at least $100,000 each to Clinton. She hasn't given money to Obama and hasn't decided whether she will.
FORRESTER: This is a hard decision for me personally, because frankly I don't like him. I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.
JOHNS: It's hard to say how many big donors might balk when it comes to Obama. Some political observers expect gushers of money by Election Day.
But if you were looking for early leading indicators that most of Clinton's deep-pocketed supporters are throwing open their wallets for the presumptive nominee, we're not seeing them.
The Center for Responsive Politics and "The Wall Street Journal" crunched the numbers from May when Obama was wrapping up the primary. About 115 people who donated at least $1,000 to Senator Clinton were making their first big donations to Obama.
But here is the twist. Roughly the same numbers of former Clinton donors were making large donations to John McCain. So what's the problem? Some say Obama is shifting positions. Some say Hillary Clinton should get a large role in both the convention and the fall campaign.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D) FLORIDA: So we need to address that issue, but we need to not take it out on Barack Obama because it was not his fault.
JOHNS: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida spent the last two days in New York talking to disaffected Clinton supporters. She says the answer is simple.
SCHULTZ: It's not unexpected that they wouldn't just automatically shift over to Obama because they're not the typical Democratic supporters that just automatically shift over. They need to be wooed. They need to be, you know, they need to be won over.
JOHNS: Barack Obama needs to show them some love?
SCHULTZ: He does.
JOHNS: The Obama campaign says it expects the Hill-raisers to come around and won't comment on the charges of sexism in the primary race.
Needless to say, John McCain isn't exactly cooling his heels here. He's trying to lure Clinton supporters into his camp. He needs all the help he can get.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Just ahead, some high profile family time with the Obamas. The two little girls who have been mostly shielded from the spotlight stepped right into it and gave their first television interview. Hear what they have to say next on "360." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: For weeks we've been seeing Barack Obama attempting to reintroduce himself to the American public. In his speeches, he's talked about patriotism, his faith and his family history.
But until today, we never publicly met his family. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Barack Obama let "Access Hollywood" interview his wife Michelle and their two daughters, 10-year-old Malia and Sasha who is 7.
Considering it was "Access Hollywood" the questions weren't hard hitting. But that is most likely why they got the interview.
Nevertheless, given how both Obama and John McCain have tried to keep their kids out of the spotlight, the interview is rare and revealing. Here's the Obama family in their own words.
MALIA OBAMA: I read the "People" magazine and everything. And they always have the section, you know, how much (inaudible) and I was like, oh, mommy, you're in this. Because I never seen mommy in that.
MARIA MENOUNOS, HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Is it cool?
MALIA OBAMA: It's pretty cool. I usually see people like Angelina Jolie --
MICHELLE OBAMA: The real important people.
MALIA OBAMA: The real important people. No offense.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I've always loved clothes, he knows that. I think it's funny that he's involved in this fashion icon stuff, because these pants he's had for probably about ten years.
MALIA OBAMA: And that belt.
MENOUNOS: The belt's a little worn actually, now that I look at it.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And don't pan down to the shoes, because we talked about getting those shoes for him. So I think --
MENOUNOS: Senator, I don't know. I think they got you here. I don't want to jump on the bandwagon or anything.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Just don't look too closely.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Listen, I'm baffled by this whole thing myself, because I hate to shop.
COOPER: The Obama family in their own words. What about the back story behind the interview? How it happened, why it happened. What kind of message a candidate hopes to convey when children are put in front of a camera.
CNN's Carol Costello reports.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was billed on the "Today Show" as an "Access Hollywood" exclusive.
MEREDITH VIERRA, NBC HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": The first interview with the entire Obama family.
Good morning to you, Maria. Congratulations.
MENOUNOS: Thank you, Meredith.
COSTELLO: It is unusual. There's a reason you rarely see the Obama kids' faces. The senator's campaign has asked news organizations not to take pictures of his kids, and they rarely do.
Example, this soccer game. News organizations shot dad but not daughter Malia dribbling the ball. But on "Access Hollywood" a show that touts actor Matthew McConaughey's new baby and Christie Brinkley's divorce, Obama's daughters took center stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALIA OBAMA: Oh, mommy, you're in this. Because I never seen mommy in that.
MENOUNOS: Is it cool?
MALIA OBAMA: It's pretty cool because I usually see people like Angelina Jolie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MENOUNOS: They didn't choose me necessarily they chose "Access Hollywood." My producer, Steve Forrest, worked really hard to get the interview with Michelle and the senator.
COSTELLO: Menounos who also reports for the "Today Show" and "NBC Nightly News" and yes, she's the spokesperson for Pantene shampoo, too, said she was surprised when the Obamas allowed her access to their kids.
MENOUNOS: No one expected really expected them to open up so much. I know the campaign and their family were all huddled around, kind of surprised that the girls took over the whole interview as was I.
COSTELLO: She says the interview was meant to only show the Obama family dynamic, not to ask tough questions. That's exactly why political observers say Obama chose this show to introduce his daughters. DREW WESTEN, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICAL BRAIN": This is going to be a referendum on whether or not he's American enough to be president. And I think, you know -- and whether he's too different to be president.
I think what he really needs to show people is that he's a guy with a family. You talk about family values you sure saw them when you watched that clip.
COSTELLO: Westen says Obama should allow the media more access to his kids. Children can be powerful campaigners. But that's a decision difficult for any parent to make, even when dad is running for president.
On the power of children campaigning, some say Chelsea Clinton was a very effective campaigner but it was really her presence beside her mother that helped out Hillary Clinton the most. It showed Hillary Clinton as a warm, caring mom.
Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Up next, an alleged honor killing. It happens overseas, but here in America, in Georgia? A father accused of hilling his own daughter because she allegedly wanted to get out of her arranged marriage. "Crime and Punishment" ahead.
Plus through the flames, dramatic video -- take a look at this -- of a news crew literally caught in the middle of a California firestorm, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we have fire on both sides of the roads, it's an issue for getting our crews in and out. If it's not safe, we can't put engines down here, and that's what we're experiencing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Under siege in California, a fire official driving a news crew from our affiliate KOVR through a wildfire; more of this amazing video coming up.
First, the big picture. Tonight, 330 wildfires are burning in California. Some 600,000 acres have been destroyed. An army of 20,000 is battling the infernos.
And a fire north of Sacramento may cause the greatest threat. It's called the campfire. Up to 1,000 people have been evacuated from the area.
Tonight, extraordinary video from inside the wall of flames. A crew with our affiliate KOVR was taken on a journey that -- well, take a look for yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we have fire on both sides of the roads, it's an issue for getting our crews in and out. You can see what the wind is doing to that fire right now. The way it's pushing it and we're getting dramatic wind shifts in here. And it makes the firefight very, very difficult for the crews on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you say -- [inaudible]
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not safe. We have crews that are in there. So right now, pretty much they are cut off to coming out.
COOPER: That was reporter Courtney Dempsey, photography Sharkey More (ph) from our affiliate KOVR in Sacramento.
Tonight, a father in Georgia is behind bars, accused of murdering his own daughter. The possible motive -- something hard to imagine -- authorities suspect this was a so-called honor killing.
The reason the young woman was strangled was because her father felt she had brought shame to her family. She wanted out of an arranged marriage and for that authorities say she was killed.
The latest now from CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to police, this man kept hearing his daughter scream "father" while he was killing her with his own hands. Chaudhry Rashid is charged with first degree murder in the death over the weekend of his 25-year-old daughter, Sandeela Kanwal (ph).
Police say he strangled her to death in their home in Jonesboro, Georgia. Police tell CNN the daughter wanted out of her arranged marriage and her father told police he could not allow her to pursue a divorce.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it had been arranged. And at some point during the altercation, he did end up killing his daughter.
TODD: Rashid and his daughter both Pakistani. Police say the arranged marriage took place a short time ago in Pakistan. The daughter's husband lives in Chicago.
Based on what police say, this could be what's known as an honor killing; the murder of a woman often by a family member to punish her for shaming the family. Experts say this could be punishment for things like having affairs, pursuing divorce, or even being raped.
The U.N. estimates the number of women murdered around the world in so-called honor killings may be as high as 5,000 each year, with most of the killings taking place in western and southern Asia and northern Africa.
AJAY NAIR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Overwhelmingly women are the target in these cases. And I think the reason for that, unfortunately, and it's unjustified is that women are often times the carriers of the culture, are often times the folks that people look to that carry on their culture from generation to generation. And it's a way for men in these cases to reaffirm and assert their masculinity.
TODD: How to stop it? The U.N. has had a program in place for about 20 years to go into regions where honor killings are common and talk to traditional leaders in these communities who define what's right and wrong. These are often religious leaders.
U.N. officials appeal to them and get them to pass along to locals that this practice is unacceptable. A U.N. official says the program has worked. She estimates that since the late 1980s, the number of honor killings has been reduced 10 percent to 15 percent but she admits this is an underreported problem. Many of the cases go undocumented.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Up next, an American soldier went to Iraq a believer but became an atheist. He says the backlash from his fellow soldiers over his lack of faith almost cost him his life. He's suing the military, saying they're biased against non-Christians. The military has until midnight to respond to the suit. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Plus, a brazen robbery caught on tape. How the thieves got away with an entire ATM, next.
COOPER: That familiar movie line about war, "there are no atheists in foxholes," may be true for some soldiers that discover God on the battlefield. But for Jeremy Hall, the exact opposite happened. He went to Iraq a practicing Christian and became an atheist, a decision he says that cost him his life and torpedoed his career.
Now he's filed a lawsuit alleging the military is unconstitutionally biased not just atheists but all non-Christians. The government has until midnight tonight to file its response. While we wait, let's look at how Hall's claims square with the facts.
CNN's Randi Kaye is "Keeping Them Honest."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Army Specialist Jeremy Hall was raised Baptist. He said grace before dinner, read the Bible before bed.
Four years ago in 2004, when he was deployed to Iraq, he packed his Bible.
KAYE: When you carried that Bible with you to Iraq, what did it mean to you at that time?
JEREMY HALL, ATHEIST: I felt a greater need to be in touch with God.
KAYE: That was then. Now 23, Specialist Hall has rejected all of that. He no longer believes in God, faith, luck or anything supernatural.
That sudden lack of faith, he says, cost him his military career, put his life at risk and eventually led him to file a federal lawsuit suggesting the United States Military has become a Christian organization.
HALL: I think it's utterly and totally wrong, unconstitutional.
KAYE: Hall alleges in the suit there's a pattern of military practices that discriminate against non-Christians in the military and that his rights under the First Amendment were denied.
KAYE: Specialist Hall is suing the Department of Defense among others. He doesn't want money, just religions religious freedom in the military. He says after the lawsuit was filed his life was threatened by fellow troops. He says the army, fearing for his safety, assigned him a full time bodyguard and eventually sent him home early from Iraq.
On Thanksgiving two years ago, he refused to pray at his table. Hall says he was told to sit somewhere else. And when he was nearly killed in an attack on his humvee, he was asked --
HALL: Do you believe in Jesus now?
I said, no, but I believe in ballistic armor.
KAYE: And Specialist Hall claims because he is an atheist, he wasn't promoted.
HALL: I was told because I can't put my personal convictions aside and pray with troops, I would not make a good leader.
KAYE: Michael Weinstein, a retired Air Force officer and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing along with Specialist Hall. He said he's been contacted by more than 8,000 military members, almost all of them complaining of pressure to embrace Evangelical Christianity.
MICHAEL WEINSTEIN, MILITANT RELIGIOUS FREDOM FOUNDATION: Our Pentagon -- our "Pentecostagon" today is refusing to realize that when you put the uniform on, there's only one religious faith, patriotism.
KAYE: Religious discrimination is a violation of the first amendment. It's also against the army policy.
"Keeping Them Honest," we asked the Pentagon's man in charge of military personnel policy what's going on.
Is the Pentagon pushing one faith among troops?
BILL CARR, DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Absolutely not.
Reporter: Deputy Undersecretary Bill Carr the deputy won't talk about ongoing litigation but says complaints of evangelizing are relatively rare.
KAYE: If a soldier is atheist, he does not believe in God and chooses to not take part in prayer at his or her base, is that acceptable?
CARR: If an atheist chose to follow their convictions, absolutely, that's acceptable.
KAYE: Weinstein doesn't buy it and points to this promotional video by a group called Christian Embassy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christian embassy is mustering these men and women into an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.
KAYE: The video which shows U.S. generals in uniform was shot inside the Pentagon. They were subsequently reprimanded. Another group has representatives on military bases world-wide, Officers' Christian Fellowship has representatives on nearly all military bases worldwide. Its vision -- a spiritually transformed military with ambassadors for Christ in uniform empowered by the Holy Spirit.
WEINSTEIN: Their purpose is to have Christian officers exercising biblical leadership to raise up a godly army.
CARR: Proselytizing or advising religious conviction is not what the nation would have us do and it's not what the military does. So I find precious little evidence to support that extreme theory.
KAYE: As for Specialist Jeremy Hall, today, he is back at Fort Riley, waiting for the Justice Department to respond to his lawsuit.
KAYE: Do you think having faith makes you a better soldier?
HALL: I think being a soldier makes you a better soldier.
KAYE: Do you think believing in God makes you a better soldier?
KAYE: For Hall, his beliefs are now a test of his faith in the law.
KAYE: And the army isn't the only branch of the military accused of something like this. In 2005, the Air Force dealt with similar complaints. It acknowledged some senior officers did not act appropriately and adopted new guidelines. Currently, the ACLI is threatening legal action on behalf of students at West Point and the naval academy who say they have to pray at mealtime.
COOPER: So they only have a couple more hours to respond to the government.
KAYE: Right. Until midnight tonight.
COOPER: We're getting a lot of responses, a lot of reaction to the story. Hundreds of comments right now to Randi's post on our Website, ac360.com. You can go there and post your comments our live blog right now. Randi has other headlines now on the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: I sure do, Anderson.
Catching a break with Bertha, the first hurricane of the 2008 season has been downgraded to a category 1 storm and it's expected to weaken in the days ahead with only a slim chance of making landfall in the U.S.
Some good news for a change on oil prices. They are down again, dropping more than $5 today and plunging nearly 10 bucks since Monday. A stronger dollar and a report of lower demand fueled that dissent.
And caught on tape, thieves and using a pickup truck to steal an ATM from a gas station. This happened outside of West Palm Beach Monday morning. It is not the first time in the area leading police to wonder if one crime crew is behind a bunch unusual smash and grab.
KAYE: That's a lot of cash taking the ATM.
All right, time for our "Beat 360." Tonight's picture, Britain's Prince Harry, making what looks like the "L" for loose sign during a football match in the African kingdom of Lesotho. He's there helping to rebuild the school for disabled kids.
Our staff winner tonight, Brooke, his caption: "Prince Harry demonstrates his new gang sign. We didn't have a lot of great options. Our viewer winner is Joe from San Diego -- not to take anything away from Brooke.
KAYE: I think there was a slam there.
COOPER: No. We appreciate it. Joe's caption, "yet another prince attempts to change his name to a symbol."
It's pretty good. There's a "360" t-shirt on its way to you. Thanks for playing. You can check out the other entries we received on blog. You can play along tomorrow by going to our new Website ac360.com. Up next, the shot from Texas to Turkey and just about everywhere else it seems, the dancing guy taking up the Web by storm. Who is he? We'll tell you ahead.
COOPER: Time now for the shot. This is Matt Hardy. In case you haven't seen his video. I don't know why you wouldn't because it's huge on the web. All the kids are watching it.
For a few years now, he's 31 years old, he's been globe trotting, often in shorts, always dancing in front of a camera, kind of a goofy little dance there.
He likes to do it; sometimes he's joined by others; in his new video he is. He's been in the desert, underwater, top of mountains -- you get the idea. It's a global party; it's been viewed more than 10 million times online.
He has no intention of stopping his signature move. His new video is actually really cool because he gets all these kids dancing along.
KAYE: I have seen this guy. I'm waiting for him to show up here one night. I do.
COOPER: That would be kind of cool actually.
KAYE: Send out an invitation.
COOPER: Just go along with the newscast while he's doing that.
KAYE: I think that's a great idea.
COOPER: You can see all the most recent shots on our new Website ac360.com. You can also see other segments from the program, read the blog, check out the "Beat 360" pictures. The new address again, ac360.com.
That does it for this edition of "360." Thanks for watching.
Larry King starts right now.