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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Nasty Nomination Fight Looming; New Details on Petraeus Investigation; Who are the Kelleys?; Interview with John McCain

Aired November 14, 2012 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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

We begin tonight, as we do every night, "Keeping Them Honest," looking for facts, not offering our opinions or trying to play favorites. We're not supporting Democrats or Republicans. You can find that in other cable channels. Our goal is just real reporting. Finding the truth. The facts.

Tonight our focus on the drama that played out in Washington today. Two foes who battled for the presidency back in 2008, back at it again. The battle is over the attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans. Senator McCain has maintained for months either White House negligence or a cover-up. Today Mr. McCain took it a step further and said because of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's role in a confusing narrative that follow the attacks, he, Senator McCain, would try to block any effort to promote Miss Rice to Secretary of State should Hillary Clinton leave that post.

We'll talk to Senator McCain in a second. So, President Obama took the opportunity at his press conference this afternoon to fire back directly at the senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, Senator McCain heard that remarks, 73 minutes later, took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to respond. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Mr. President, four brave Americans died. It has now been eight weeks. The American people have received nothing but contradictory statements from all levels of our government. This president and this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover-up, neither of which is acceptable to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now "Keeping Them Honest" more than two months after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi there are still some very serious unanswered questions about the timeline of events and specifically the administration's remarks in the days and weeks that followed. Specifically, why didn't President Obama call it a terrorist attack the day after, on September 12th, in a "60 Minutes" interview.

When asked by Steve Kroft it was -- if it was a terrorist attack, the president said it was, quote, "too early to know exactly how this came about." Or during an appearance on "The View" on September 25th, when asked if it was an act of terrorism, the president said they were, quote, "still doing an investigation." Or even more to the point, how the ambassador described it five days after the attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Putting together the best information that we have, available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo. Almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo which were prompted, of course, by the video.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Ambassador Rice blaming the killings in Benghazi in that hateful anti-Muslim video made in the U.S. That turned out to be wrong. So some very legitimate questions Senator McCain is asking that he might get answers to this when congressional intelligence committees hold hearings.

But as for holding up Miss Rice's potential nomination as secretary of state over this? Well, "Keeping Them Honest," some key people in Washington have tripped up on false intelligence in the past. People like Condoleezza Rice who is national security adviser, you all remember, back in 2003, made the case for the war in Iraq, insisting Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It is time to stop the deceit, time to stop trying to deceive the world, and to offer up his weapons of mass destruction so that he can be disarmed.

The overwhelming bulk of the evidence in there, not about a data point here or data point there, but about what Saddam Hussein was doing, was that he had weapons of mass destruction.

Right up to the end, Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with mass -- weapons of mass destruction and to hide his illegal weapons activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: No nuclear weapons, no WMD every turned up in Iraq, of course. Now Condoleezza Rice when on to become secretary of state in the Bush administration and back then Senator McCain and a lot of other Republicans had no problems supporting her nomination despite the fact that she fell for bad intelligence. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Condoleezza Rice is a great American success story. This is what America is all about. A young woman who grew up in a segregated part of America where Americans were not treated equally, to rise to the position of secretary of state. We should have been celebrating I believe this remarkable American success story.

Also, I thought that some of the remarks, and I'm not going to mention my colleagues' names, some of the remarks aimed at her during her hearings challenged her integrity. We can disagree on policy and we can disagree on a -- a lot of things but I think it is very clear that Condoleezza Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign. I hope it dissipates soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Senator John McCain joins me now.

Senator, you said today that you plan to do everything in your power to block Susan Rice's nomination to be secretary of state if President Obama nominates her. Her supporters say she was simply repeating the earliest assessment that she'd been given by the intelligence community about a Benghazi attack.

A spokesman, as you know, for the director of National Intelligence confirmed in late September that they'd disseminated the assessment that the attack against spontaneously following protest earlier in Cairo, and it was only later the intelligence assessment changed.

Do you not believe the DNI?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, talking points came from the White House not from the DNI. But second of all, it was obvious within 24 hours that the station chief from the CIA had said that this was a terrorist attack. It was obvious to one and all that this was not a, quote," spontaneous demonstration," because in real time, they saw that there was no demonstration.

The -- Miss Rise, I hope, saw -- Ambassador Rise, I hope saw when I was on "Face the Nation" that immediately after she spoke the head of the Libyan National Assembly, the president of it, said this was an al Qaeda attack. Everybody knew that it was an al Qaeda attack, and she continued to tell the world, through all the talk shows that it was a, quote, "spontaneous demonstration" sparked by a video. That's not competence in my view. And I think that she should have known and she has never yet to this -- at this point declared that she was wrong. And the president is the one who is ultimately responsible, but that is not an acceptable person in my view to be secretary of state.

COOPER: But the DNI seems to be backing her up saying we disseminated -- you know, the intelligence to the executive branch, to members of Congress. I mean, do you think they're falling on their swords? Do you think they didn't do that or -- I mean isn't it possible they were just wrong and gave out, you know, the early assessment and faulty intelligence?

MCCAIN: The DNI is saying one thing, the State -- the other -- CIA station chief within 24 hours said it was an al Qaeda affiliated attack. Didn't she have that information? The White House gave the talking points, the president incredibly over two weeks later continued to call this a spontaneous demonstration that sparked this attack which by then he must have known was totally false. He said that to the United Nations.

There's a lot of things wrong here and she is part of it. And she gave deceptive information to the American people when there was clearly counter information that affirmed that this was a terrorist attack orchestrated by an al Qaeda affiliated organization.

COOPER: Supporters of Ambassador Rise compare her comments to made to -- comments that Condoleezza Rice made back when she was national security advisor in 2002 when she made a very public case for the Iraq war, saying Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction. That intelligence was incorrect. But when she was nominated for secretary of state, many Republicans spoke out strongly for her including herself, saying she was a success story and that any one who challenge her integrity was doing it based on politics.

They say there's a double standard. To that you say what?

MCCAIN: Well, I can say I appreciate them saying that, but the fact is four Americans died, four Americans died, and there was overwhelming evidence to the contrary that was clearly a al Qaeda affiliated attack that murdered four Americans that didn't need to happen. There were advance warnings that were sent on August 15th and 16th. They said that they -- in case of a concerted attack they could not guarantee that they could defend the consulate.

There was many warnings. There was previous attacks. All of that goes to the State Department and to this administration and our ambassador to the U.N. The -- raises the question, what was she doing out there anyway? And so the American people were told -- given false information when there was clearly information to counter that immediately. People don't go to spontaneous demonstrations with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

COOPER: I just want to push back on you a little bit --

MCCAIN: Sure. Sure.

COOPER: On the -- on the Condoleezza Rice comments because, you know, I mean, thousands were killed in the war in Iraq and yet people did not -- Republicans did not hold her accountable for misleading statements that she made in the run-up to the war when she was being nominated for secretary of state.

MCCAIN: And I respect that opinion and that view. I think these are two entirely different cases, but if somebody wants to make that case, and tell the American people that it was OK to go out and tell them that this was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a hateful video that they're qualified for -- to be our secretary of state then they're entitled to that view. I'm entitled for my role and my advice and consent in the United States Senate, and my advice and consent, my constitutional obligation is that I will not vote and not agree to her appointment as secretary of state.

COOPER: Senator McCain, I appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.

COOPER: All right. "Digging Deeper" now. Let's bring in senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, our political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen.

Dana, you've covered Senator McCain for years. You've covered the presidential campaign in 2008 against President Obama. What do you make of this? Is there something personal or political going on here perhaps?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I've been kind of half joking all day, Anderson, that -- to borrow a phrase from the president, 2008 is calling and it wants it's presidential campaign back because you can see and hear both -- in both men's expressions and in the tones of their voices that there was a lot going on there beneath the surface between the two that's probably not resolved from their battle four years ago.

So in that case, it's personal and political. But I think it's personal for John McCain in another way and to be fair, and that is that he knew Ambassador Stephens quite well. He had just been visiting with him, and he feels this need to avenge his death and to make it right. And so he is on a mission that is definitely personal. But it is also political in another way and that you heard from Republicans during the presidential campaign, this one, that they were frustrated that Mitt Romney didn't talk about this enough because they felt that it was a way to get at President Obama's leadership. And I talked to Republicans who admit that they were trying to make it an issue now.

COOPER: Gloria, you say you saw a different President Obama today, in particular with his emotional defense of Ambassador Rice.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he really pushed back on John McCain and Lindsay Graham and called it outrageous that they would make these charges about her, that she knowingly disseminated false information. He said, look, if you have a problem take it up with me. And I think in his own way, I mean, he was very testy today. And in his own way what he was doing was saying to John McCain, OK, you want to make this an issue, buddy, dare me to nominate her because it sure sounded to me, reading between the lines, like that's something he's really interested in doing.

And, you know, this is a political fight that's not -- it's not going to go away. And you know I think one thing that struck me is that the president talked about going after her because she is, quote, "an easy target." Well, what does that mean? Is it because she is a woman? Is it because she was the only one out there using the information that she had? I mean I'm -- it's interesting to me. I'm not quite sure what the president was talking about.

COOPER: You know, David, there are so many questions, still, about the attacks in Benghazi. So many things we don't yet know. Does it surprise you the Republicans are going after Ambassador Rice and not, say, Secretary of State Clinton?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I'm not surprised. And I do think that underneath all of this, there is not as much confidence in Susan Rice as there might be among Republicans all along. I think right now they favor John Kerry as the next secretary of state. They work well with him. They think he has the requisite experience. I don't think it has anything to do with her womanhood. I think it really goes down to the confidence question.

And beyond that, though, Anderson, this is shaping up as a very nasty fight. It could get quite personal, very mano y mano. A filibuster is shaping up now among Republicans on the Senate. I think everybody has an interest and sort of -- especially if we've just had an election or trying to sort of re-create a sense of bipartisanship in Washington to get this calmed down. I do -- what the president needs to do, I would think is to announce some quiet emissary up the Capitol Hill and make sure he's got the votes to beat back a filibuster before he nominates. And I think she may have to do some private rounds. That would help a lot -- her out in defraying and diffusing some of this.

COOPER: Yes, and Gloria, a lot of talk, obviously, about the impending fiscal cliff. Congressional leaders headed to the White House for the high-level talks on this. Did you hear anything from the president that sounded like a compromise that could work?

BORGER: No. Not today. And this is not to say that we won't hear something about it. Look, this is a president who clearly feels that he's got a lot of leverage now. And I heard that in the president today. And what he was doing was essentially, and Dana can talk more about this than I can, calling the Republican bluff, and saying, OK, one thing we all agree on is extending those tax cuts for the middle class. So let's do that first.

The Republicans believe that if they were to do that, they would lose their leverage but the president was saying -- quickly saying that I'm OK -- OK, guys, let's do this and then we'll move on to the second step of the process. But I do agree with David. And by the way, I'm not saying they are picking on Susan Rice because she's a -- because she's a woman. But I do think it's an interesting turn of phrase by the president, easy target.

But I do think these things are heating up so quickly that they better not get backed into corners that they can't get out of.

COOPER: Yes.

Dana, what do we expect from this meeting on Friday?

BASH: Well, you know, I think that the truth of the matter is that they have to have this meeting. They have to sit down, eyeball to eyeball, and really discuss things and state their positions where the cameras aren't there.

However, we know from history, particularly recent history with this president and these congressional leaders that most of the real work is going to get done on the phone, you know, with, in this case probably the House speaker and the president and their -- and their aids. So that is the reality that it's -- you know, this is an opening gambit and that probably not much more.

Let me just quickly put a button on this whole idea of filibuster for Susan Rice, if I may, I talked to a very good Democratic source here asking, do you think if she is nominated you could overcome a filibuster, the answer was yes. And I just have to tell you this, that this source said, you know, we -- if anybody wants to watch two old white guys -- speaking of course of Graham and McCain -- beat up on a black woman, I'll sell tickets to that. So there's politics all around here.

COOPER: It could get very nasty.

Dana, Gloria, and David, thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about this. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting about this already.

Up next why did the Justice Department keep President Obama in the dark about the Petraeus sex scandal until after the election? We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Plus breaking news. We've got new details on the FBI investigation of Paula Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA Director Petraeus, who led to this whole resignation. Will Miss Broadwell be prosecuted? The latest on that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight, why was President Obama kept in the dark about former CIA director David Petraeus' affair with Paula Broadwell until after the presidential election? The "Wall Street Journal" reports that Attorney General Eric Holder knew in late summer of the affair. Yet that information, according to White House, was never passed until months later. Consider this, the director of the CIA was having an extra marital affair, communicating with his mistress via an unsecured e-mail account, and potentially putting national security at risk. Yet President Obama was never informed about Petraeus investigation until months later.

Obama was asked about the investigation today during that news conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I am with holding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. And you know we don't have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI and they've got a difficult job. And so I'm going to wait and see --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the White House says there are protocols -- that's the word they use -- that must be followed when notifying the White House about criminal investigations. But "Keeping Them Honest" it turns out there is a 2007 memo by then Attorney General Michael Mukasey that outlawing the process of notifying the White House about such investigations.

And it states, and I quote, "the Department will advise the White House about such criminal or civil enforcement matters only where it's important for the performance of the president's duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement prospective."

Now it goes on to say, "It is critically important to have frequent and expeditious communications relating to national security matters, including counterterrorism, counter espionage issues."

Yet the White House insists that President Obama didn't know of the affair until after the election. As for the investigation itself, we got breaking news on that tonight.

Joining me now is CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly. Also Fran Townsend, CNN national security contributor, and member of the CIA's External Advisory Board. She has the breaking news.

So, Fran, you've been talking to your sources. What have you learned about the possible legal fallout?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, what's interesting, Anderson, what we understand is that Paula Broadwell had consented to this search of her home. But after a discussion between her lawyers and the FBI, they agreed to go ahead and get a search warrant. They certainly had probable cause. They went ahead and executed that. We understand from law enforcement officials that they are now reviewing those documents but based on what they've seen so far, they say the classified material is, one, not substantial that they have seen, and two, that it -- while it may be a technical violation it's not egregious.

As a result of that, they don't -- the law enforcement official told me they don't expect that there will be a prosecution related to the unauthorized release of classified information. But that ultimately that's not a decision that the FBI will make. They will make a presentation. They expect to wrap up in the next few days.

They may want to do a final interview of Paula Broadwell. They'll then present what they had to the Justice Department. And ultimately it's the Justice Department's decision whether or not to prosecute or issue what they call a declination. Basically they'll decline to prosecute. But that's where the investigators are thinking this is going to turn -- go now.

COOPER: So, Suzanne, all this talk over the last few days about who may or may not have had classified information, what charges may or may not be possible, if it turns out that no laws were broken, then was all of this -- the FBI probe, the resignation of Petraeus -- basically just over an affair and some jealous e-mails?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Anderson, you know, if you look at the timeline of events, of things that happened in the weeks just before the resignation, General Petraeus had already met with the FBI. It was obvious to him at that point that they knew about the affair. He then went and met with his boss, the director of the National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, who, you know, I'm told that it was with a very heart advised Director Petraeus to go ahead and submit his letter of resignation.

I mean, ultimately, though, he was not accused of any wrongdoing, he was not accused of giving out classified information. There was never a serious charge against him. So ultimately it was his decision to go ahead and offer his letter of resignation and in the letter that he issued to the employees at the CIA, the day that he did it, last Friday, he made very clear. You know, I have made mistakes, I failed my family and I failed you.

COOPER: Well, Fran, I mean, I guess a lot of people are baffled that President Obama didn't find out about this affair and possible security concerns until long after the Justice Department apparently did. Now the president didn't really want to talk about it at the press conference today. Is there more clarity tonight about why he didn't know sooner? You point to a memo from the Justice Department from several years ago that might have some insight.

TOWNSEND: You know, it's interesting, Anderson, so the law enforcement official I was speaking to reminded me that the FBI director and his senior team five mornings a week brief the attorney general, the deputy and the assistant attorney general for the national security division on significant cases in the development. They also discuss what ought to be briefed to the White House. This was one of those cases. I -- a law enforcement official didn't know when but it was in fact briefed to the attorney general with the presumption that that then would be passed on to the White House, consistent with the memo that you read at the top of the segment.

Obviously we don't know what happened but under that memo, the right path would have been from the Justice Department, the attorney general or the deputy, over to the White House counsel or the deputy there. Clearly that didn't happen, and so when the president talks about the FBI has a protocol, from the FBI's perspective, they followed it, but clearly it didn't make its way all the way up to the president.

COOPER: Yes. And still questions about why this investigation began whether it appropriate for the FBI to even investigate this based on just the idea of harassing e-mails. If they were even that.

Fran Townsend, appreciate it. And Suzanne Kelly.

There is new information tonight on the finances of Jill Kelley and her husband Scott. The Florida couple caught up in the scandal. They started a cancer charity back in 2005 shortly after they moved to Tampa, dissolved it a couple of years later. They're also facing several lawsuits over money problems.

Drew Griffin is part of the CNN's Special Investigations Unit, has been digging into that. He joins me now.

Drew, what have you learned?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Just another twisted part of this tale, Anderson. Public records are showing that as Jill Kelley was entertaining top military brass in her backyard she and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, were battling a bank and court because the bank claimed they weren't paying their mortgage.

Documents show the red brick house that we've been showing on Tampa's exclusive Bay Shore Drive, purchased in 2004 for $1.5 million, four years later Regents Bank files to foreclose on the Kelley's because the bank says they hadn't sent in a mortgage payment since September of 2009.

The records we've seen showed the Kelleys owed the bank at least $250,000 probably more, and get this, our search of Florida records, Anderson, show there are at least nine other lawsuits involving money and the Kelley family.

COOPER: That's a ;lot of lawsuit. So what about this charity that the couple began?

GRIFFIN: Yes, it was called the Dr. Kelley Cancer Foundation. Started in 2005. The charity was formed, according to the tax filings, to, quote, "Conduct research into efforts to discover ways to improve the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients." It sure sounded good but they found the tax return in 2008 and what did it do? It raised $157,000 in contributors, spent the same amount on expenses. No record of cancer research, no record of care for patients. The source told us that those matching amounts in a charity's first year are very unusual.

The Kelley charity spent $43,317 on meals and entertainment. More than $8,000 on automobile expenses. Dues and subscriptions $6700. The charity did lose $58,000, Anderson, spent on program are cold program, services we don't know what it was, never explained, and we have no idea at all how the charity raised $157,000 in the first place.

It was dissolved in 2007 and Dr. Kelley Cancer Foundation never did register with the state of Florida, according to a state investigator. Btu it retains it's 501c3 status right now with the IRS -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew, it seems like every charity you look into, it's just more -- I mean it's just --it's amazing to me. Any reaction on this from the Kelleys?

GRIFFIN: You know, not really/ We had a source close to the Kelleys says she didn't have information to respond.

We also reached out to the accounting firm that prepared the filing documents, a representative there said, they had, nothing to say.

COOPER: Wow. Drew, appreciate it, thanks very much. We'll stay on it.

President Obama acknowledge, said that million of Americans didn't vote for him. Just ahead Gary Tuchman takes us to a county where just got five votes. Why don't voters there like him? We'll find that on that, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: A corner of the country is the most anti-Obama place in the United States. In his press conference today, the president acknowledged that while he clearly won the election, he most certainly didn't win over every voter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There are people all across this country, millions of folks who have worked so hard to help us get elected, but there are also millions of people who may not have voted for us, but are also counting on us. And we take that responsibility very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, some of the people that President Obama was talking about live in King County, in Texas. Home to just 255 people more than half of them are female, vast majority are white and don't much like President Obama. Here is Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you think of Barack Obama's first term?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ain't worth a darn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good at all.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's a sentiment that was common here during President Obama's first run for president. Here in rural King County, Texas only 4.9 percent of voters chose Obama in 2008. In 2012, it's even lower, just 3.4 percent, the lowest for any county in the country.

(on camera): If you could tell Barack Obama to do one thing, what would you tell him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To resign.

TUCHMAN: What advice would you give him for the second term?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Retire.

TUCHMAN: King County is not only the home to Barack Obama's lowest vote percentage. It's also the county where he received the lowest total votes.

Nationwide, the president tallied more than 62 million votes, but here in this county, he received five votes. That is right just five votes.

(voice-over): King County's population is small. But Mitt Romney winning 139-5 made this the president's worst showing in the U.S. We went to the girls' basketball game. Asked Mitt Romney voters why there was such distaste with Barack Obama's presidency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought he sounded like a dictator than a president.

TUCHMAN: We went to the local Baptist church to a monthly women's club meeting and heard similar sentiments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anytime anything goes wrong, he blames it on Bush. It's the last administration. It's not his fault. Well, now it is his fault.

TUCHMAN: In 2009, just after President Obama was inaugurated, we also spent time in King County and we met Charlotte McCauley who told us --

CHARLOTTE MCCAULEY, KING COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: I just asked God that he would help him truly connect with him so that he would know what God's heart was for the United States of America.

TUCHMAN: And this is Charlotte today at the women's club meeting.

(on camera): You told us four years ago that you hope the Lord would help Barack Obama.

MCCAULEY: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Do you think that happened?

MCCAULEY: It doesn't appear so.

TUCHMAN: And there was something we've heard before.

(on camera): What bothered you the most about what he did during his first term?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not being honest with us about where he was born and just different things like that. And to me, he seems dishonest.

TUCHMAN: He says he was born in Hawaii and I'm wondering if you have heard that, why don't you believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe anything he says.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): There are certainly people in King County who still don't believe the president about the county of his birth and they also question his faith. President Obama is a practicing Christian but here doubts persist.

(on camera): What do you think Barack Obama is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he is a Muslim and of course, that affected my decision whether to vote for him or not.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back at the basketball game, it was notable that there were more people working at the concession stand that people in the county who voted for Barack Obama.

We tried to find at least one of those five Obama voters at the game and we did. But all we can tell you is that the Obama voter is indeed somewhere in this wide shot of the crowd.

He did not feel comfortable going public with his decision to vote for the man who at least here is the most unpopular president. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Guthrie, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Interesting. Ahead on 360 is the Mideast about to explode? A top Hamas leader is assassinated by Israeli air strike and Hamas says Israel has opened the gates of hell, their words. The latest coming up, but first, Susan Hendricks has a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Europeans in at least seven countries took to the streets today to protest economic austerity measures that are forcing steep budget cuts and tax hikes. Protests in Spain turned violent with at least 74 people injured and more than 100 arrested.

A court appearance tomorrow for the man accused of murdering Etan Paetz three decades ago. The 6-year-old New York City boy disappeared on his way to school. Well, today, Pedro Hernandez was officially indicted. He was arrested over the summer and police say he confessed to the murder.

Federal Transportation Safety officials want to make a collision avoidance system standard equipment on all vehicles just like seatbelts and airbags. The official and warn drivers about impending hazards. The system warns drivers about impending hazards. Right now, it's optional on vehicles.

And see this, a rare total solar eclipse. It was visible this morning in Australia. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly in front of the sun blocking out its rays. Australia will not see another one for nearly 400 years.

COOPER: Wow. Cool, great pictures. Susan, thanks.

The military chief of Hamas has been killed and one of Israel's fiercest assault on Gaza in years. The Israeli defense forces posted video of the attack on YouTube. Armed groups in Gaza are bowing to avenge the assassination while Israel isn't ruling out a ground assault. Both sides are also fighting a Twitter war, all of that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: If you like to video chat on Skype. Hold off until you hear our report. There is a security flawed they had to fix today. That is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Israel has launched a major air assault on Gaza and is leaving the door open to a possible ground assault as well. Officials are calling it a defensive operation, a response to rocket attacks fired from Gaza.

We, of course, have seen before, but this time the Israeli Defense Forces is live blogging and tweeting the whole thing. Take a look. This is the image that they tweeted announcing the death of the chief of the military wing of Hamas.

Ahmed Al-Jabari was killed in today's first strike. Now the IDF also posted this video on YouTube, which shows the fatal attack. Jabari was allegedly riding in the car circled in yellow, seen it took a direct hit.

Jabari has been on Israel's wanted list for years. The strike that killed him was one of nearly three dozen launched over eight hours according to Hamas. Now at least eight other Palestinians died, dozens were wounded. Hamas has retaliated by firing more rockets into Israel. It's also firing back on Twitter warning that Israel has quote, "opened the gates of hell on itself."

Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Israel. Meantime, the U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the rocket strike fired from -- the strikes fired from Gaza in supporting Israel's right to defend itself.

I talked about all of this earlier with Sara Sidner, CNN senior international correspondent, David Kirk Patrick of the "New York Times" and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sara, what is the latest on the attacks in the fallout?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we are seeing are more rockets coming into Israel. There have been dozens of air strikes as well since the killing of Ahmed Al-Jabari who was the leader of the Hamas military wing.

But he is also one of the founders of Hamas. We're talking about a huge blow to Hamas now the government there in Gaza. Israel is also telling us and we have heard this from its military spokesperson that they are bringing in reservists.

That they are considering a ground war, but have not yet given the go ahead for that, but they are preparing. We know that they have been firing from the air with the air strikes. But we also know that they have been firing from the sea.

Their ships anchored off of the sea there in Gaza firing into Gaza and according to residents in Gaza that we spoke with, at one point they say, it seemed as if it was raining bombs in Gaza. You can see some of the fires there.

Certainly, there is a big follow and there is a real concern here that there will be a full-scale war something like you saw in 2008 during the operation the cast led.

COOPER: Well, David, the Israeli military took to Twitter to warn Hamas of an attack and they said quote, "We recommend no Hamas operatives whether low level or senior leaders show their faces above ground in the days ahead.

Hamas has promised a harsh response saying Israeli has opened, quote, "the gates of hell on themselves." I mean, do you think this renewed violence is the beginning of a much bigger conflict?

DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "NEW YORK TIMES" CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: I think at this point it is very hard to know. I'm in Cairo right now. What is striking from this point of view, this is the moment we have been waiting for. Here we have been waiting for a moment when a crisis would come again. How will this government respond? This is a government of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are ideological kin with Hamas and there been supportive of Hamas for years.

They can get this country back on track. I think how Egypt plays its cards is going to play a big role in what happens next door in Gaza and in the Palestinian territory.

With Egypt at its back, I think that Hamas will go all out. If the Egyptians are telling Hamas we are have the Muslim Brotherhood. And we have to find a way out of this with stability in tact that is going to be a different outcome.

COOPER: Fareed, how do you see this?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think there is no question it was justified. Look, the attacks, they had gone crazy in terms of the scope and intensity. And Hamas was openly taking credit for them rather than disavowing them.

The problem is that the Netanyahu people, Bibi and Barack, they have essentially a tactical approach here. They are hitting back and have been trying to do this. Remember Israel has now invaded Gaza.

And these are all tactical moves and they succeed because the Israelis have overwhelming force. But what is the strategy to deal with Gaza? How does this help Israel in its long term strategy and how does it play out with the regional strategy?

Israel's relations with Egypt have deteriorated. Its relations with Turkey have deteriorated. So, I think there is no question it is justified, the question is, is it smart?

COOPER: And there is real concern about regional instability?

ZAKARIA: There is real concern about regional instability and if you don't have Egyptian cooperation, ultimately you really can't control Gaza. This also undermines the Palestinian Authority.

It's probably is going to undermine the Palestinian Authority's claim to U.N. path, which it might like because it shows that the Palestinians are divided.

COOPER: David, we know President Obama spoke to the Israeli prime minister. How big of a concern should this be you think for the U.S.? I mean, the last thing the U.S. has been wanting is to get pulled into another war, but the administration said obviously has Israel's back.

KIRKPATRICK: I think this is a major concern for the U.S. Like it or not, the U.S. is tied to the Israel in the minds of Muslims around the world. Whatever happens in Gaza, whatever happens in the Palestinian territories is going to have repercussions in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and in the streets of Egypt. Anywhere where the U.S. can strive and build relations and do business.

COOPER: And Fareed, obviously, there are questions between Israel and Turkey, which is now the U.S. ally.

ZAKARIA: It will be interesting to see how Tokyo reacts. Remember, the original schism between Turkey and Israel was over Gaza. And it was over the blockade and the embargo of Gaza. So will the prime minister of Turkey try to use this as another opportunity to win domestic support at home by criticizing Israel.

COOPER: Sara, David, Fareed, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, a story that shocked New York City, a nanny accused of killing two children, stabbed to death in a bathtub at their Manhattan apartment. Now that nanny has been indicted, the charges when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's check up on some other stories we are following. Susan Hendricks is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: Hi, Anderson. According to reports, former GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney is blaming his loss on Election Day to President Obama so-called gifts to minorities and young voters.

According to the "New York Times," Romney said President Obama was, quote, "very generous" and what they gave to those groups policies that appeal to them specifically.

A grand jury has indicted New York nanny, Jocelyn Ortega, on first and second degree murder charges in the deaths of two children ages 6 and 2. Police say the children's mother found them stabbed to death in the bathroom and saw the nanny stabbed herself with a kitchen knife. Ortega is in the hospital and under police watch.

Skype is investigating a security flawed that let anyone change a users password to get control of their account. Skype says it fixed problem, but that a small number of users may have been affected by this -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Susan, thanks. Coming up, finally some solid evidence that one should always choose when tattoo very, very carefully. The "Ridiculist" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we have a story of a man in Indiana who is standing up for his beliefs, facing controversy head on and not backing down when his critics say, Dude, maybe getting that Mitt Romney tattoo on your face wasn't the greatest idea you ever had.

Meet Eric Hartsberg, now to be forever known as, you know, Eric, the guy with the Romney campaign logo tattoo on his face. He got the tattoo before the election obviously, but even now after Romney's defeat, Eric says he has no regrets that one entire side of his face is a permanent tribute a losing political campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had it tattooed. A lot of people say, you shed blood for the party. You're a Republican hero. I love it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I know I did all I could for my candidate and my party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So here's how this went down. Eric put some of his face up forbid on eBay and said he would get whatever the highest bidder wanted tattooed on his face. That didn't work out so well.

So then he got the idea to approach the local Republican Party in this town to see if anyone wanted to pay him to get a Romney tattoo. And the success of that idea, well, it's written all over his face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party candidate stepped up and said, I'll give you 15 G's and do something tasteful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You got to admit, as face tattoos go, that one is rather tasteful and yes, he did say 15 G's. Somebody paid that guy $15,000 to get that tattoo. It doesn't seem to so silly anymore does it? How much would you get for your face tattoo, nothing right?

Of course, not everyone Eric has encountered is practically charmed by the said tattoo. He says he's gotten some interesting comments from concerned passersby.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if Romney wins, I'll get your face tattooed on my butt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Before you get all judgy, let's face facts for a moment. Not only does this guy have $15,000, he is parlaying his face tattoo in a stardom of sorts. He was the subject of a top ten list on David Letterman. He is all over the internet. He was even on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered morphing your tattoo into something else like a butterfly or something?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. How long will you keep the tattoo?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the rest of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: You know, even if the fame only last 15 minutes that tattoo is there forever as the memories also will be. Memories of a guy armed with nothing more than an idea and space on his face he wasn't using for anything else. A guy when people said it was the most idiotic thing they had ever heard of, simply turned the other cheek.

That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now another edition of 360 at 10 p.m. Eastern. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.