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New Jobs Report; Democratic National Convention Wrap-up

Aired September 7, 2012 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight, "Keeping Them Honest" with the new jobs report that the president is acknowledging is just not good enough. Now, the news, well, it is not encouraging. Not for the millions of Americans who are out of work and not for the president who's coming off a convention who touted over and over how many jobs were created on his watch.

The new report from the labor department today shows unemployment fell to 8.1 percent in August, down from 8.3 percent in July. But when you look closely, the reason behind that drop is largely because people have stopped looking for work. Lots of people. Some 368,000 people. And many of them young people.

In fact, the number of people of working age who are either working or actively looking for work now stands at 63.5 percent which is a 30-year low. Pretty bleak report. One that seems almost impossible to put a positive spin on. But, with the presidential election less than nine weeks away, the spin goes on. Here's what President Obama said today.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row. A total of more than 4.6 million jobs. But that's not good enough. We know it's not good enough. We need to create more jobs faster.


COOPER: Now, to be fair, the president acknowledged today and has consistently acknowledged there's still work to do. We need more jobs and faster. What he said today echoed a mantra that came up over and over the Democratic National Convention. The addition of new jobs every month for more than two years, to the tune of 4.5 million jobs. Take a look.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've since created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months. REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: This past July, the economy added 172,000 jobs. The 29th consecutive month of private sector job gains.



MAYOR JULIAN CASTRO (D), SAN ANTONIO: 4.5 million new jobs.

CLINTON: President Obama, plus 4.5 million. Congressional Republicans, zero.


COOPER: So over and over, the president, Democratic leaders, talked about 4.5 million jobs. But "Keeping Them Honest," what they don't want to talk about is the kind of jobs that have been added. That is important to know.

Jobs have been created in the past four years. But more than half of them, 58 percent, have been low-wage jobs. That's according to a report by the national employment law project. And that backs up another report from the labor department that shows more than half of the workers who lost jobs and manage to find new ones are now working for lower pay.

And focusing on just this latest jobs report that was released today, yes, 96,000 new jobs were added in August but that's still some 24,000 fewer than what economists were expecting. Economists called the report disappointing. And say at least 150,000 jobs have to be created each month just to keep pace with the population.

Now, we don't have to tell the 12.5 million people who are out of work about disappointment. They know far too well the challenges facing them and their families. And President Obama certainly knows the stakes are high. No president since Roosevelt, during the depression, has been elected with more than 7.2 unemployment rate.

So, a lot to dig in to. I spoke with chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, senior political analyst David Gergen and chief national correspondent John King.


COOPER: Ali, is there any possible was to spin this - I mean, any legitimate bright spots or is this report as bad as it sounds?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it wasn't a loss of jobs. I suppose you could spin it that way. As suppose if I were in the business of spinning this, I would say that half of this has to do with Congress and it didn't intransigent the fact that we don't know what's going to happen. That creates a certain amount of anxiety from businesses hoping to hire people and half of it is Europe and the lack of demand from Europe. I mean, we saw a manufacturing job loss of 15,000 jobs. That is clearly stuff that the U.S. manufacturers that isn't being bought overseas.

So look, I have always been of the view, and David may share this view, that presidents get altogether too much credit and too much blame for job creation and job loss. But the reality is this is not a great number.

If I were Barack Obama and have three more job reports, this is one of them and there's two more before the election. I would want this one to have been above 150,000 which is the number you need just to sort keep things level and a bit more.

So no, the White House put up a pretty tepid response, saying we've created jobs in the private sector for more than 30 month. That is absolutely true. But no, 96,000 jobs in a month is absolutely not acceptable.

COOPER: And David what kind of an impact do you think this will have on any potential convention bounce?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it can have a dampening effect in fact, Anderson. I mean, there's no question that Democrats leaving Charlotte this morning, the euphoria of just a couple nights ago after the Clinton speech when they really thought they could get a breakthrough, that had largely disappeared by after the jobs growth came out after President Obama's acceptance speech last night. So, they are not expecting much of a bounce. It could be something, Gallup is kind -- has shown a bit of a bounce. You know, there are two other polls have not.

COOPER: You know, John, we talked about the jobs picture in key swing states like Ohio is actually better than the in the rest of the country. And President Obama's been polling better in those states that it has overall. We don't obviously, have polls taken after the convention or the new job report. But has that trend kept up all summer? Is there any reason to believe it won't last?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has been a pretty steady static nature. And he's up a little bit in Ohio. He's up a little bit in Iowa. Those are two states where the unemployment rate is down a bit from when Obama became president. So, they've been pretty steady.

The question here is the psychological effect, Anderson. Remember, Bill Clinton said of course we're better off and cited some statistics. The president says I know it's tough. I haven't been perfect at everything. But yes, we are better off. We're heading in the right direction.

Democrats leave, as David said, feeling great. They think this is a psychological boost. Then the morning after they get this thump. It is an anemic recovery at best. Does he hold Ohio? Who knows? It's very much harder case now. The manufacturing jobs especially. How many people at that convention said made in America is making a comeback and then that happens?

Look, life and politics are not fair, but timing matters in politics and the timing here bad for the president.

GERGEN: Anderson, if I could just amplify on that a bit. You know, what the president laid out last night was we have two paths. One goes in the Republican direction. One goes in the Democratic direction. And he has a strong case for why follow me. But with the jobs report today, you know, the Republicans say, yes, but your path is the road to nowhere.

COOPER: Right. And Ali, I mean, if the fed does make a move in the wake of this report, nothing that happens at this point will really make a real impact by Election Day, right?

VELSHI: Correct. The fed is meeting next Thursday. Ben Bernanke's been very clear that this is largely -- if there's anything that Washington can do, it's not actually Barack Obama. It's Congress. It's dealing with the fiscal cliff. It's dealing with the budget. It's getting things in order so that businesses don't have uncertainty about whether they have to lay people off or what they're going to pay next year.

If the fed takes action, which is in the form of what they call quantitative easing, the third installment, you'll hear this QE3. That means the fed injecting money, trading that for bonds with banks. Banks then have more money to lend out to people. And over time that means people get credit and businesses can expand.

Businesses do not expand without the demand to justify that expansion. And bottom line, if the fed does something next Thursday, there's a trickle-down effect. It takes a while. It is not going to a quick fix. The question is whether or not the administration can somehow say that whether or not Barack Obama were the president, there would be more effective job growth.

My general opinion is the Congress and its intransigent compared and contrasted with Europe and its problems are what is contributing to our lack of growth. It's unclear whether it has anything to do with the president but right now he's wearing that badge of honor.

COOPER: David, I see you shaking your head.

GERGEN: I don't understand why -- Ali, why you're placing all the blame on Congress. After all, the fiscal cliff is one that has come as a result of an agreement between the White House and the Congress to reach an understanding about how to go forward. Bob Woodward's new book suggests that the idea of a fiscal cliff actually came from the president himself. So I think it is Washington in the minds of most people.

VELSHI: I think that's probably true. I'm always loathe to disagree with you because I think you know a lot more about this. The bottom line is it is the uncertainty that prevents --

GERGEN: That I agree with.

KING: There's one president -- VELSHI: -- if you think the fiscal cliff is going to come and you're going to have to lay people off or lose a government contract, you're not hiring. You're going to wait till January or February to find out what the truth really is.

So yes, whoever's to blame for the fiscal cliff, I think Congress and Washington, I agree with you, bears half the blame for this. The other half is the global economy and Europe. I don't think either of that has to do with the president all that clearly.

KING: But no president since the great depression, Anderson, has been re-elected with the unemployment rate this high. That is the historical barrier Barack Obama is trying to clear. This does not help.

COOPER: And John, you've been talking a lot about the small number of people who are kind of undecided. The small number of people still yet to make a call. How much are they impacted by these numbers?

KING: It's a great question because we want to see how this plays out. This is a national number. We will get new state numbers. But before the election, I'm going to go out to these battle ground states and talk to people up close and personal. If they don't think things are getting better, they go shopping for something new. If you don't like your car, you go to a new dealer.

I talked to some Republicans who did some focus groups last night. Remember, these are Republicans. But they say, these focus groups are independent voters. And they said that they came away feeling a little bit better about the president's speech but that he didn't make the sale. He didn't complete the sale to them last night. So the Republicans were a bit nervous, a bit nervous that the president maybe had them open their minds to a second term. They think this jobs number today is going to have a whole lot people --

VELSHI: And Anderson, we knew the president knew those numbers last night and that's why his performance was a little tepid. Here's the problem.

This White House has been generally ineffective at carrying a message for a long time. Mitt Romney came out with a number. He said he'll create 12 million jobs over four years which is 250,000 jobs per month. And the reality is in an economy that grows at 1.7 percent, that is not possible.

So, what you're up against is a president who has not created that kind of job creation versus Mitt Romney who says take a chance on me. The other guy didn't work out that well. It's disingenuous on both parts. But that's what this campaign has come down to. Convincing people to vote for me because I'm saying I can create more jobs than the other guy can.

GERGEN: Anderson, one more footnote. I found interesting. If you look at the jobs report today, think it is true, Ali, that a lot of people coming into jobs are older and the people leaving the workforce, a lot of people leaving the workforce as job reports are younger. And the young are the very people President Obama wants to draw to him.

COOPER: That's a good point. David, thanks. John King, Ali Velshi, thanks very much.

KING: Thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Let us know what you think. We're on facebook. Follow me on twitter at @andersoncooper. I'm tweeting tonight. Also on Instagram.

It was a day of dully campaigns staffs in Iowa and New Hampshire, both campaigns visited toss-up states. The messages they brought and the raw politics on that ahead. We'll talk to Mary Matalin and Paul Begala.

Plus, Clint Eastwood is finally speaking out about his, I don't know, convention speech/performance. Well, whatever you call it, he is speaking out about, Does he regret the whole empty chair/invisible Obama routine? Ahead.


COOPER: At our raw politics, and day one of the final stretch of the presidential race. Sixty days of campaigning to go, 60 days. New Hampshire and Iowa both battleground states were the first stops for both campaigns, some surprise there.

Here's what President Obama told a crowd just hours ago in Iowa city.


OBAMA: President Clinton point out that the single biggest thing missing from my opponent's plan is arithmetic. It doesn't add up. You do the math. If you want to lower the deficit but we're spending $5 trillion on tax cuts for folks who don't need it and weren't even asking for it how's that going to work?


COOPER: Obama started his day in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney did the reverse. Here's what he said a short time ago at a rally in New Hampshire.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I expect him to report, to come to the American people and say, when I ran four years ago, here are the promises made, and then describe why it was or why it was not he was able to carry out his promise. But he didn't talk about that. Instead, it was a whole new series promises. He didn't deliver on the last ones. Why should we expect him to deliver on these?


COOPER: Well, CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is with the Romney campaign in New Hampshire. He joins me now, why.

So Jim, you've been with Mitt Romney nearly all week. He clearly feels that bad jobs report is his ticket to success in November. But there are some perils with that, you know.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, keep in mind, Anderson, if that jobs report had come out today after what was a fairly successful Democratic convention and it said that 250,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate had ticked below eight percent, this would have been a different campaign day for Mitt Romney.

But instead, he got what was some pretty good news for his campaign. That unemployment rate only ticked down to 8.1 percent. That was because a lot people got out of the workforce. And so, if you were to create a word cloud or do a word count of what Mitt Romney had to say today, Anderson, promises would be one of the biggest words in that word count because he kept hitting that all day long saying the president isn't keeping the promises he made in 2008 to get this economy going again.

To be fair to the president there were some promises he did keep, one being that he'd reform the health care system. He did talk about that back in 2008. But he was firing off a good number of attack lines. They, just a few moments ago, Anderson, he touched on the absence of - the temporary absence the word "God" in the Democratic platform. Mitt Romney telling this crowd just a few moment s ago here in that God was in the declaration of independence, so he did go after the Democrats on that one as well.

COOPER: The Romney campaign, they also released a blizzard ads today. The 15 ads in I think eight battleground states. He has now got an access to a lot campaign cash, right?

ACOSTA: That's right. Ever since he accepted the GOP nomination, the switch was flipped. He is now spending general election money up till that point. He was spending primary money. And as you know, Anderson, he has been raising about $100 million every month. He's on pace to do that until Election Day.

And so yes, that is where all this money is going from to pay for these ads. And if you look at those ads, they've been tailored to each individual state. So for Virginia and Colorado, there are defense -oriented ads because the defense industry is so critical to those two states.

And when I asked a senior Romney strategist who is on hand here, what about the ads in Michigan and Wisconsin, why were not those targeted in these ads. They said stay tuned. And I think that means that more ads are on the way, Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate the reporting. Thank you very much.

A lot of raw politics in Iowa and New Hampshire today. Let's talk about it with CNN political contributor and Republican strategist Mary Matalin. Also CNN contributor Paul Begala who want to point out advises a pro-Obama super PAC.

So Paul, it's been about 24 hours or so since the president's speech. What do you make of it now? The cold light of day? Or the dark light of the new night?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I would still -- parsing it till 2:30 in the morning hanging out with my friends, pit bull and scissor sisters. These bands we had at our rally last night.

So I may be a little blurry. But, I really liked the speech a lot. It was not as beautiful and elegant frankly, as the speech in Denver four years ago nor should it have been. This is a really smart guy, President Obama. And he understands that he need last night to give us the way forward.

I heard Mitt Romney attacking it. The truth is, the most important thing either one of these men can do is tell us at least the framework. Tell us the path or blue print. Where do you want to take us if we hire you for this job? Romney punted on that. It was a huge mistake. His convention was pretty good. The Democratic convention was almost flawless.

COOPER: But, were there specifics in President Obama's speech? I mean, you say it's a framework. It was kind a broad, you know.

BEGALA: Or it was much more focused than Governor Romney's for sure. It was not as specific as a Bill Clinton speech but nothing is. I mean, you know, the technical schematic diagrams that Bill Clinton puts in his speech are impossible for anybody else.

This president lined out specifics on energy, education, national security, manufacturing jobs. And I really like that. That's a little more prosaic, frankly. But you know, governor Cuomo, Mario Cuomo, the father of the current governor of New York used to say you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose. This is much more of the pros speech. But I like it. I think that's what swing voters want is don't give me all your blown rhetoric. Give me your path forward. Romney filtered that, Obama achieved it.

COOPER: Well Mary, according to today's Gallup daily tracking poll, perhaps a little bit of a sign of some sort of bounce. The president is getting something, a preliminary bounce. His approval rating has climbed above the 50 percent mark, 52 percent. I think the last time, it was that high was after Osama bin Laden was killed. Does that number worry you at all or you thing these new job numbers now are going to eliminate any bounce that might have been achieved?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, there are two headlines this morning. Both the president and the economy underperformed. I'm not saying the speech was a failure. And it's hard for Obama to live up to his own stratospheric expectations and thoughts about himself.

But this was not a convention directed at swing votes. It was a convention direct to pump up the base. It was all about abortion. And they're applauding the president of Nero, where they are booing God. This is was very base convention and it was I don't know that he said anything in his speech that would have been appealing to independents.

He was largely defensive. Saying we're not saying government's the solution to everything. We respect entrepreneurs. We're not anti-business. So it was very defensive and everybody's looking at the same polls. He knows what his weaknesses are. I would say no one should be looking for any bounce that's off either of these conventions because of the limited number of people who remain undecided. It's a record low number. It's a polarized electorate.

What we did see in the target, a lot of the target's dates, is the lowering of Romney's negatives that the president had pushed through all that massive commercials and negative spots and all. And all now, it's a head to head. It's a virtual tie in real clear politics. Measures all of these things. It's a virtual tie which is an improvement for Romney's position.

COOPER: Paul, is this the issue of what God not being in the platform early on? Mary said they were booing God, others will say, no, there was -- what they didn't like was the process by which this thing was being voted on. People didn't think it was two-thirds. And that's what people were booing about. Whatever - you can't - I mean, you have to go around and ask everybody what they were booing or upset about. But, do you think this has lasting impact? Because if you saw Mitt Romney talk about it today.

BEGALA: No, he did, but it doesn't have lasting impact because the mistake was corrected by President Obama and his team. They moved in. We talked about this in Charlotte. Do not ask me to defend leaving God out my party's platform or the problem the original platform this year had with Jerusalem. Where Democrats have for years said the capital of Israel's Jerusalem. The United States government should recognize that. That was left out of my party's platform.

But President Obama put it back in. He was informed about what the plot form said. He said those two things are not consistent with my views and values and my party changed them. We took a hit for doing that. We looked kind of bumbling for about 15 minutes.

The difference of the Republican party, Mitt Romney claims the platform doesn't reflect his views on abortion. He claims today as of 8:24 p.m. Eastern that he supports exceptions to his ban on abortion in case of rape and incest. The party platform does not acknowledge those exceptions. Romney did not intercede to change his party's platform because he doesn't have the courage of his convictions. And I think, all in all, the Democrats looked better on this than the Republicans.

COOPER: Mary, I want you to respond to that. But, I also want to ask you about Clint Eastwood, Mary, because he is now speaking for the first time about his stick at the GOP convention. He spoke to the Carmel Pine Cone which I'm sure you're familiar with. It's a small California newspaper.

Bu he said, he called Obama, quote, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." And he said that he was aiming at people in the middle of the speech and that he sort speaks for the ordinary American.

MATALIN: He also said, and I caught this right from the beginning, his third goal was to let the country know that not everybody in Hollywood is a loony left. There are a lot of conservatives out there. I know that to be the case. I find it sad. I find it despicable that so many conservatives who worked and lived in the Hollywood business, in the film business, in the entertainment business, have to be closeted because of their political views. So that was the first goal he met in to people with receptive ears, it was music to my ears.

And he did make the point that normal people understand -- have understood from almost the outset which is the emperor has no clothes. Barack Obama was an empty vessel that everyone filled up with their hopes and all their desires and all their best wishes. And it turns out to be an empty, in this metaphor, the empty chair. But the emperor no suite. But there's no there, there.

I thought it was brilliant. We're still talking about it. It was - can get a barrage of favorable tweets in all of the blogosphere, whatever that world is out there,. So, real people thought it was great. And they sort of the inside the political beltway people were just (INAUDIBLE). Whenever they're all (INAUDIBLE), I know it's something great.

COOPER: Paul, I want you quickly respond.

BEGALA: Let me refer to my Latin. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). The thing speaks for itself. In this case, if the Romney campaign thought it was such a great thing, they would be running at time. I was proud my party didn't bash Clint Eastwood. It was too easy, frankly.

And there was poof -- I've reviewed President Clinton's speech with him. There were some people who wanted to put cheap shots about Eastwood in there. Clinton wouldn't have anything to do with it.

But now, it is Mr. Eastwood is actually pretending or claiming, maybe he believes that that really odd performance was somehow targeted for the middle. Maybe the middle of fifth avenue, some guy naked pushing a shopping cart. But no, that -- it was really - he is an icon. I love his movies. But Mary, you get seriously and I'm like profession hyperbolism; that is disgrace example of spin I ever heard in life. I could not believe that was --

MATALIN: I'm not spinning, Paul. I thought that when I saw it and has the same fight with James. He called I'm like, you're spinning I'm like, you are not a normal person. You watch this convention like someone who hates conservatives and thinks that Obama -- the sun rises on Obama. Normal people out there completely understood what he was saying. And I understand him as the iconic person that he is --

BEGALA: This is Mary's problem, she lives with James Carville so she can no longer recognize crazy. You've got to give her a break.

MATALIN: That's a good point. OK, on that we'll agree.


COOPER: We'll leave it there on that. Mary, appreciate it. Paul, thanks very much.

There are growing concerns tonight about a deadly virus outbreak at Yosemite National Park. This is a bizarre story. A third person has now died from this thing called the Hanta Virus. A park officials are scrambling to alert thousands of visitors who may have been exposed, thousands. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me ahead to explain this thing.


COOPER: Britain's Prince Harry reports for duty in Afghanistan where he is serving his country in the battle zone when we continue.


COOPER: Important medical news tonight, a third person who recently visited Yosemite National Park has died from the hanta virus and park officials are now concerned that far more people than they first thought may have actually been exposed to it.

The hanta virus is carried by mice. There's no cure, but early detection and treatment can be crucial. So there are eight -- so far eight confirmed cases in people who visited the park this summer, a peak season obviously for Yosemite.

Now at first park officials thought the risk was limited to 10,000 people who stayed in tent cabins in one of the forest camp grounds, but like we said that number could be much higher.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins me now. So what is hanta virus? Can you explain it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a pretty rare virus. I mean, this isn't something a lot of people have heard about because there just aren't that many cases. But it's a virus carried by rodents specifically in -- with a lot of these viruses, as you know, the animal does not get sick.

So it's very hard to figure out, you know, which exactly of these rodents are carriers, but what happens is these rodents get into these camp sites, there's droppings, urine from the rodents.

And what happens is when they're cleaning the camp site or someone starts to occupy the camp site, if it hasn't been occupied in a while that gets aerosolized. People breathe that in. So that's how you get sick.

COOPER: So someone gets the virus how, by breathing it in the droppings or something?

GUPTA: Most commonly, that's the way. You know, they technically could also get it, for example, they got a bite from a mouse that was carrying the hanta virus. They might also get it for example if they touch something that had the hanta virus on it and then subsequently touched their nose or their mouth.

They contaminate themselves that way, but typically, you imagine, Anderson, the scenario is you walk into a camp site that hasn't been occupied in a while. People may be sweeping it up, trying to, you know, make it clean, even sleeping on some of the -- you know, sleeping in the beds, for example. You can aerosolize again some of the virus. That's the most common route.

COOPER: And how do you know you have? What are the symptoms?

GUPTA: Well, you know, this is more challenging because like a lot of the other things we've been talking about, including West Nile, for example, there is an incubation period.

So you don't get sick right away. So you can imagine that -- you got to sort of figure out, you know, is there -- were you at some risk. So people are going into the doctors right now with flu-like symptoms.

One critical thing is that they often affect the large muscle groups, people get muscle aches. It's often the large muscle groups like in your back, in your hips, the back your thighs. So those are some of the early signs.

COOPER: So if someone thinks they've contracted the virus? What should you do?

GUPTA: You know, if you sort of fit the criteria, you're getting flu-like symptoms this time of year, you visited the web site, you should see your doctor. I mean, there's not a specific sort of therapy for this.

But when you look at these particular camp sites and you figure out there's been 20,000 people maybe that have visited these camp sites over this summer, there's going to be a population of people who are going to develop these flu-like symptoms.

If it gets particularly bad and what happens there is that you develop pulmonary symptoms. People have a hard time breathing and take a look at this, Anderson. On the left, that's a normal chest x- ray.

I think everybody can tell that the one on the right has been badly affected. You see all that white area. That's what the virus does to the lungs. That's why those three people that you just mentioned died. They developed symptoms like this.

COOPER: Sanjay, appreciate the update, thanks.

GUPTA: You got it, thank you.

COOPER: Scary stuff, there's more reporting on tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us for the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is back in Washington tonight after receiving treatment for bipolar depression at the Mayo Clinic. Jackson's aides say they hope he will be back on Capitol Hill on Monday.

To Syria, where an opposition group says 130 people were killed by government forces today. The opposition claims 40 of those deaths happened in the capital of Damascus and its suburbs.

Prince Harry is back in the war zone in Afghanistan. The Apache helicopter pilot will serve a four-month deployment. Prince Harry will be assisting NATO and Afghan forces from his base in Helmond Province, a Taliban danger zone. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: All right, Susan, thanks very much. A young mother murdered by a former boyfriend. Her family is still seeking justice even though her killer pled guilty. He vanished after a stunning move was made by the judge, the district attorney and another attorney. It's our crime and punishment report ahead.


COOPER: Grisly murder mystery in the French Alps with two little girls orphaned in the attack. Will they be able to tell police who killed their parents and two others?


COOPER: "Crime and Punishment" tonight. A mother in South Texas awaits justice after her daughter was murdered back in 2005. Now the killer confessed to the crime, but he's vanished. He's on the run and it's all linked to a bizarre alleged corruption case.

At the center of the case is a county district attorney, a man sworn to uphold the law. He's under federal indictment, accused of racketeering, bribery, extortion and fraud. This case has a lot of angles. Our Gary Tuchman tries to sort it all out.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her body was found a remote stretch of beach on Texas' south Padre Island. Ermila Hernandez was 31 years old, a teacher, and a mother of three.

The man accused of fatally shooting her, Amik Livingstone, a former boyfriend who had incentive to plea bargain. Because there was overwhelming evidence against him and he could have received the death penalty.

Ermila's mother and sister trusted the district attorney would make the right decision. The D.A. they thought seemed like such an honorable man.

(on camera): Did he look you in the eye?

MONICA GARCIA, SISTER WAS MURDERED: Yes, straight in the eye.

TUCHMAN: What did he say?

GARCIA: That he was there for my sister. That he was there to defend her and to be her lawyer straight in our face. I mean, you would believe him if you were there.

TUCHMAN: Amik Livingston pleaded guilty to the murder seemingly sparing Ermila's family the agony of a trial. I say seemingly because shortly after the plea everything went haywire.

(voice-over): Livingston received a 23-year prison sentence on the day he made his plea. But inexplicably, the judge ruled Livingston could have 60 days of freedom to get ready for prison without any bond. The murderer never came back. He's now been on the run for five years.

HERMILA GARCIA, DAUGHTER WAS MURDERED (through translator): I'm in incredible pain. I hurt. I have such pain over my daughter's murder. I struggle to fight it, but it defeats me.

TUCHMAN: And here's what makes it even worse. The D.A., the man the family trusted so much, allegedly pocketed a chunk of the $500,000 in bail money the murderer was using during the case.

Armando Villalobos is accused of taking $80,000 of it. In a blistering 34 page indictment, federal prosecutors say the D.A., the judge and the lawyer representing the victim's children in the civil suit against the murderer agreed to give some of the bail money to the children.

That would be proper. What was stunningly improper according to the feds is that the attorney for the children gave huge cuts of the cash to the D.A. and to the judge. The judge has pleaded guilty and he's talking, aiding the federal prosecutors in the case. The feds say the D.A. was the leader of the enterprise.

(on camera): Armando Villalobos is accused of bribery, extortion and racketeering and faces the possibility of many years in prison. Yet, incredibly, despite being indicted and facing a trial, Villalobos does not feel the legal or moral obligation to step down. You see, Armando Villalobos is still the district attorney.

(voice-over): The law does not require Villalobos to step down. But can he fairly and conscientiously run an office that prosecutes criminals and protect citizens? In a statement he gave just before his indictment, he said yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go forward, I'm not going to resign from the D.A.' office. I'm innocent of all charges. I look forward to going to court so we can get this thing over with. TUCHMAN: Villalobos has acknowledged not opposing the killer's release while in open court, but claims he told the judge he was against the idea during a meeting in the judge's chambers.

But unfortunately for Villalobos, this man was also in that meeting. Greg Gladden was the attorney for the murderer.

(on camera): Whose idea was it for Livingston to get out without bond?


TUCHMAN: Absolutely.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gladden, who was in no way implicated in the shenanigans in this case, is astounded that Villalobos hasn't stepped down as D.A. and explained if his client did not agree to immediate sentencing, the bond money would not be freed up.

In hindsight, he thinks his client was offered the 60 days of freedom without bond to ensure he would agree to a rapid sentencing and not mess up the scheme.

(on camera): In your career, how many murderers who have been sentenced to 23 years in prison or more have you seen sentenced and then freed without bond?

GREG GLADDEN, ATTORNEY: It's never happened. I mean, it's -- it's not that I've never seen it, it's never happened in Texas.

TUCHMAN: So you must have been sitting there going, what is going on, but this is my client, I'm in the going to object to him being freed.

GLADDEN: That's exactly right.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The corruption involving this murder case is one part of a larger federal probe here in South Texas that involves a dozen people in this and other cases. Most of the 12 have already pleaded guilty. South Texas has a sorry history of political corruption says this history scholar.

ANTHONY KNOPP, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT BROWNSVILLE: Shocked with this -- the extent of this particular situation, yes. I think we were apprised or shocked by it, but when another episode of corruption on the evening news that's the way things seem to go down here.

TUCHMAN: The district attorney has not taken reporter's questions since his indictment.

(on camera): I'm Gary Tuchman with CNN. Can we speak with the district attorney?

(voice-over): His personal lawyer and his associates in his office said he would not talk to us.

HERMILA GARCIA (through translator): It wasn't worth it for them to do this, for them to let him walk away free for money. They let him walk free.

TUCHMAN: The brutal murder of Ermila, the disappearance her murderer and allegations that lawyers who were supposed to help them instead grubbed for blood money. For this family, it's too much to bear.

MONICA GARCIA: This is a nightmare, a true nightmare.


COOPER: So Gary, when is the day of his trial?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, the D.A. and the lawyer representing the children will go on trial this April. Both men asked a federal judge to drop the charges, saying the indictment was too vague. The judge disagreed.

What's interesting is when this D.A. goes on trial in April, he will no longer be the D.A. not because he's quitting. We don't know anything about him quitting, but because his term comes to an end at the end of this year.

But what we do know about this district attorney is that he's accused of being a very selfish criminal yet he's still prosecuting criminals.

COOPER: Does the murderer's attorney know where his client is?

TUCHMAN: That's another interesting thing about this case. Based on what prosecutors say, he's the honorable guy in this situation. He says that he frankly wasn't surprised that his client disappeared based on what happened.

Nevertheless, his client promised him he would come back. He's not back. And what the attorney, Greg Gladden, is telling us is that he doesn't believe his client is in the United States because he would have been n caught by now.

He's an Indian-American and the attorney believes his client is somewhere in India.

COOPER: All right, Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.

We'll continue to follow it. A murder mystery also now in the French Alps, we'll tell you about a family attacked. Two young girls survived including a 4-year-old who hid for hours inside the family's car underneath bodies. Can they actually help police solve the crime? Details ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back. A 7-year-old British girl who is in France with her family could be the key to solving a chilling murder mystery. The little girl was found severely injured outside this bullet-riddled car in a parking lot in the French Alps.

Now inside the car, her parents and an unidentified woman were shot to death. A French cyclist was found nearby also shot to death, four killings in all.

Hours later, police realized that the little girl's sister who was just 4 years old was actually hiding inside the car behind her mother's body too scared to even move.

Her 7-year-old sister is in a medically induced coma. Police hope she can tell them what happened. I spoke to CNN's Dan Rivers about the case.


COOPER: So Dan, what are the latest developments in the murders?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a real profound sense of shock here in the quiet London suburb of Claygate, people still digesting the news that the family in the house behind me were targeted in such a brutal way.

We're still waiting for more details from the French police. What we know is they're looking for two vehicles that were seen near the shooting, a motorcycle and green 4 by 4.

French detectives are coming to the U.K. to work closely with the British police. It is a French investigation that is leading this. People are still just digesting the news of what happened.

The family it appears were targeted in a kind of execution-style shooting. Three adults in the car shot through the head. A child, a 7-year-old child, shot as she tried apparently to flee.

She was found on the road outside. Amazingly, the 4-year-old girl who was cowering in the back of the car stayed in there and wasn't discovered for eight hours. Police finally found her under the body of her mother.

COOPER: And no leads on not motive right now?

RIVERS: It's a complete mystery at the moment. There was a suggestion in the media here that there was some sort of falling out, a family feud with his brother.

But now we're told the brother went immediately to the police station here in the U.K., he lives nearby on hearing the news. They seem to be playing down that motive. They're keeping an open mind. At the moment there is absolutely no clarity on why on earth this family were targeted.

COOPER: And is there any word on how the two surviving girls are? Are they under police protection? RIVERS: They are, yes. The elder girl, who is 7 years old, is still in a coma, we're told, an induced coma. She's under armed guard in a French hospital.

The younger girl, who's 4, is obviously deeply traumatized. The police have talked to her very briefly and really saying that she didn't see much of the attack at all that she apparently dived down into the foot well of the car almost immediately.

COOPER: Dan Rivers, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

Let's check back in with Susan Hendricks for the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Hi, Anderson. Lawyers for Drew Peterson may appeal his murder conviction. He was found guilty yesterday of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Two witnesses testified his fourth wife Stacey who disappeared five years ago told them that Peterson killed Savio. Defense attorneys called that testimony hear say.

A Philadelphia man has been charged with calling in a false threat that a passenger aboard a U.S. Airways flight had a bomb. Apparently, the caller was trying to get back at the passenger over a Facebook posting.

And Wall Street closed out the trading week in the black. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P all finished higher today and all three rose for the week as a whole.

And a mother in China has come up with a novel way to tell her quadruplets apart. She shaved their hair, giving each a number from 1 to 4 on the tops of their heads. The mom says the 6-year-old boys are identical and their teachers feared they would not be able to tell the boys apart in school.

COOPER: Yes, I'm sure that will make them really popular in school. I'm sure they're not going to get mocked.

All right, coming up, what is it about bad weather that makes people get naked and show up on the news? The "Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: That time of the night for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we're catching up on some very impressing post Tropical Storm Isaac news. Now watch what happened in Arkansas when a camera from local station KRAK was rolling on a couple and their dog, Buddy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this out here we got?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what he was -- Buddy was looking at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ought to sick buddy on him. Do you know him? Jim, do you know this gentleman? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ought to go out there and start an ass kicking contest.


COOPER: Yes, a naked guy just nonchalantly wandered out of the woods. Maybe it happens all the time. This is just the first time a camera was around to capture it. Who knows, in any event, I'm happy to report there was no ass kicking contest instead a neighbor to call the police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a naked man standing out in the middle of the damn street with his privates in his hand just standing here. No, ma'am, don't want to get close to him. You can't miss him now. He's sitting right --


COOPER: Sure is, sitting right in the middle of the road. The guy was arrested, charged with indecent exposure and, here's a shocker, public intoxication.

Now I don't know what it is about inclement weather that inspires people to go au naturale, but this is not the first time we've seen this phenomenon.

During Hurricane Irene, coverage live on the weather channel it the forecast was, as they say, cloudy with a chance of meatballs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No shortage of incredibly -- I'll bite my tongue -- people who have been coming out, dozens of people who have walked by me. I'm pretty much speechless.


COOPER: It's not just hurricanes that seem to inspire the unclad masses. A good old-fashioned snowstorm can do it too apparently.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been out a couple hours.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are just out of their minds. What are you going to do? I mean, it's nuts.


COOPER: I've seen that a million times and I still laugh. In retrospect I should be glad that the guy who I tried to ran into was fully clothed.


COOPER: We are live throughout this next two hours and Larry King takes it live then we take it live for another hour. We have much more coverage coming up. There's a lot of people if you can believe it or not in Houston a couple bars are still open.


COOPER: Yes, if you can believe it or not, a couple of bars are still open. That was how I tried to segue way from that. First come the rain, the wind, the streakers and then the chicken suits. There's always a chance of naked guys strolling out of the woods. No one said covering the weather was easy.

That does it for us. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern. All the latest, thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.