Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Senator John McCain; CIA Scandal
Aired November 14, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
And we begin, as we do every night, "Keeping Them Honest" looking for facts, not offering opinions or playing favorites. We're not supporting Democrats or Republicans. You can find that on plenty of other cable channels. Our goal is just reporting, finding the truth, finding the facts. We think there's value in that.
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 was 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 the confusing narrative that followed the attacks, he, Senator McCain, will try to block any effort to promote Ms. Rice to secretary of state, should Hillary Clinton leave that post. We will talk to Senator McCain in a second.
So, President Obama took the opportunity in 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 to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator McCain heard that remark and 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, and 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 are acceptable to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "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 the 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 11 in his "60 Minutes" interview. When asked by Steve Kroft if it was a terrorist attack, the president said it was "too early to know exactly how this came about."
Or during an appearance on "The View" on September 25, when asked if it was terrorism, the president said that they were "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, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Putting together the best information 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 on that hateful anti-Muslim video made in the U.S. That turned out to be wrong.
Some very legitimate questions that Senator McCain is asking he might get answers to this when congressional Intelligence Committees hold hearings. But as for holding up Ms. 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 as national security adviser you will remember back in 2003 made the case for war in Iraq, insisting that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is time to stop the deceit and 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 a 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 weapons of mass destruction and to hide his illegal weapons activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No nuclear weapons, no WMD ever turned up in Iraq.
Condoleezza Rice went on to become secretary of state in the Bush administration. And back then, Senator McCain and a lot of other Republicans had no problem supporting her nomination, despite the fact that she fell for bad intelligence.
(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 lot of things, but I think it's 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 earlier assessment that she had been given by the intelligence community about the Benghazi attack, and a spokesman as you know for the director of national intelligence confirmed in late September that they disseminated the assessment that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier in Cairo and that it was only later the intelligence assessment changed.
Do you not believe the DNI?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, her 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 this was a terrorist attack. It was obvious to one and all that this was not a "spontaneous demonstration" because in real time, they saw there was no demonstration.
Ms. Rice, I hope saw -- Ambassador Rice 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 that this was an al Qaeda attack. Everybody knew that it was an al Qaeda attack, and she continued to tell the world through all of the talk shows that it was a "spontaneous demonstration" sparked by a video.
That is not competence in my view. I think she should have known. She has never yet 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 seemed to be backing her up, saying we disseminated the intelligence to the executive branch, to members of Congress.
Do you think they are falling on their sword? Do you think they didn't do that? Or isn't it possible they were just wrong and gave out the early assessment and faulty intelligence?
MCCAIN: The DNI is saying one thing. The State Department -- the other -- the CIA station chief within 24 hours said it was an al Qaeda-affiliated attack.
Didn't she have this 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 is 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 this was a terrorist attack, orchestrated by an al Qaeda-affiliated organization.
COOPER: Supporters of Ambassador Rice compared her comments made to comments that Condoleezza Rice made back when she was national security adviser in 2002, when she made a very public case for the Iraq war saying that 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 yourself, saying she was a success story, that anyone who would challenged her integrity was doing it based on politics. They say there is 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 this was clearly an al Qaeda-affiliated attack that murdered four Americans that didn't need to happen.
There were advanced warnings that were sent on August 15 and 16. They said that they -- in a case of concerted attack, they could not guarantee that they could defend the consulate. There was many warnings, there were previous attacks. All of that goes to the State Department and to this administration and our ambassador to the U.N.
It raises a question, what was she doing out there anyway? 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 a little bit on the Condoleezza Rice comments.
MCCAIN: Sure. Sure.
COOPER: Because 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 are qualified to be our secretary of state, then they are entitled to that view.
I'm entitled to my role of that advise and consent in the United States Senate, and my advice and consent and my constitutional obligation is that I will not vote and I will 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 analyst, Gloria Borger, and David Gergen.
Dana, you have covered Senator McCain for years. You 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: I have been kind of half joking all day, Anderson, that to borrow a phrase from the president, 2008 is calling and it wants its presidential campaign back, because you can see and hear both in both men's expressions and in the tones of their voices that there is a lot going on there beneath the surface between the two that's probably not resolved from their battle of four years ago.
So in that case, it is personal and political. But I think it is personal for John McCain in another way and to be fair, and that is that he knew Ambassador Stevens quite well. He had been just visiting with him, and he feels this need to avenge his death and to make it right. He is on a mission that is definitely personal, but it is also political in another way, in that you heard from the Republicans during the presidential campaign, this one, that they were very 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 the Republicans who admit that they are trying to make it an issue now.
COOPER: Gloria, you said you saw a different President Obama, particularly with his emotional defense of Ambassador Rice.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he really pushed back on John McCain and Lindsey 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. In his own way, he was very testy today, and in his own way, what he was doing was saying to John McCain, 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 this is something he's really interested in doing.
And this is a political fight that's not going to go away. One thing that struck me is that the president talked about going after her because she's an easy target. Well, what does that mean? Is it because she's a woman, is it because she was the only one out there using the information that she had? 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 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 underneath all of this there isn't as much confidence in Susan Rice as there might be among Republicans.
I think right now they favor John Kerry as the next secretary of state. They work well with him, and they think he has requisite experience. I don't think that it has anything to do with her womanhood. I think it really goes down to the confidence question.
Beyond that, though, Anderson, this is shaping up as a very nasty fight. It could get quite personal, very go mano a mano. A filibuster is shaping up now among Republicans in the Senate. I think everybody has an interest -- essentially, we have just had an election. We are trying to create a sense of bipartisanship in Washington to get this calmed down.
What the president needs to do I would think is to now send quiet emissaries up to Capitol Hill to make sure he has the votes to beat a filibuster before he nominates. And I think she may have to do some private rounds. That would help a lot in perhaps defanging and defusing some of this.
COOPER: Gloria, a lot of talk obviously about the impending fiscal cliff. Congressional leaders headed to the White House for high-level talks on this. Did you hear anything from the president that sounded like a compromise that could work?
BORGER: No, not today. This is not to say we won't hear something about it.
Look this is a president that 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 that one thing we all agree on is extending the tax cuts for the middle class, so let's do that first.
The Republicans believe if they were to do that, they would lose their leverage, but the president was basically to them, OK, guys. Let's do this, and then we will move on to the section 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 woman, but I do think it's an interesting turn of phrase by the president easy target.
But I do these things are heating up so quickly that they better not backed into corners they cannot get out of.
COOPER: Dana, what do we expect from the meeting on Friday?
BASH: I think the truth of the matter is, 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 with in this case probably the House speaker and the president and their aides.
So that is the reality, that you know, this is an opening gambit and probably not much more. Let me just quickly put a button on this whole idea for filibusters 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 source said, if anybody wants to watch two old white guys, speaking, of course, of Graham and McCain, beat up on a black woman, I will sell tickets to that. So there's politics all around here.
COOPER: It could get very nasty.
Dana, Gloria, David, thanks.
GERGEN: Thank you.
Let us know what you think about this. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I am 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 have got new details on the FBI investigation of Paula Broadwell, the mistress of former CIA Director Petraeus who led to this whole resignation. Will Ms. Broadwell be prosecuted? The latest on that ahead.
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 Attorney General Eric Holder knew in late summer of the affair. Yet that information according to the White House was never passed until months later. Consider this, the director of the CIA was having an extramarital affair, communicating with his mistress via an unsecure e-mail account and potentially putting national security at risk. President Obama was never informed about the Petraeus investigation until months later.
Obama was asked about the investigation today during that news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. 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: The White House says there are protocols, that's the word they used, 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 outlined the process of notifying the White House about such investigations. And it states: "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 to from a law enforcement perspective."
It goes on the say: "It is critically important to have frequent and expeditious communications relating to national security matters, including counterterrorism and counterespionage issues."
Yet the White House insist President Obama didn't know of the affair until after the election.
As for the investigation itself, we have breaking news on that tonight.
Joining me now is CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly, also Fran Townsend, CNN national security contributor and a member of the CIA's External Advisory Board. She has the breaking news. Fran, you have been talking to sources, what have you learned about possible legal fallout?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: It's interesting, Anderson.
What we understand is that Paula Broadwell has consented to the search of her homes, 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 now are reviewing those documents, but based on what they have seen so far, they say that the classified material is, one, not substantial that they have seen, and, two, while it may be a technical violation, it's not egregious.
As a result of that, the law enforcement official told me they don't expect 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, and they will then present what they have 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 will decline to prosecute.
But that's where the investigators are thinking this is going to go now.
COOPER: Suzanne, all of the talk over the last few days over who may or may not have 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, then resignation of Petraeus basically just over affairs and jealous e-mails?
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, if you look at the timeline of events of things that happened in the weeks just before the resignation, Petraeus had already met with the FBI, and it was obvious to him at that point that they knew about the affair, and he then went and met with his boss, the director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper, who I'm told it was with a heavy heart advised Director Petraeus to go ahead and submit his letter of resignation.
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 the letter that he issued to the employees of the CIA the day he did it, last Friday, he made very clear, I have made mistakes, I failed my family and I failed you.
COOPER: Fran, I guess a lot of people are baffled that President Obama didn't find out about the 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 any more clarify 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: It's interesting, Anderson.
The law enforcement official I was speaking to reminded me that the FBI director and his senior team, five mornings a week, briefed the attorney general, the deputy, and the assistant attorney general for the national security division on significant cases and the developments.
They also discussed what ought to be briefed to the White House. This was one of those cases. The law enforcement official didn't know when, but it was, in fact, briefed to the attorney general with the presumption that that would then be passed onto the White House, consistent with the memo 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 counselor or the deputy there. Clearly that didn't happen. 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 up to the president.
COOPER: Yes, and still questions about why the investigation began, whether it was 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, Suzanne Kelly.
There is new information tonight in 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 and they are also facing several lawsuits over money problems.
Drew Griffin is part of the CNN Special Investigations Unit and been digging into that. He joins me now.
Drew, what have you learned?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Just another twisted part of the tale.
Public records are showing as Jill Kelley was entertaining top military brass in her backyard, she and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, were battling a bank in court, because the bank claimed they weren't paying their mortgage. Documents show the red brick house we have been showing on Tampa's exclusive Bay Shore Drive, purchased in 2004 for $1.5 million.
Four years later, Regions Bank filed to for foreclose on the Kelleys, because the bank said they haven't sent in a mortgage payment since September 2009. Records we have seen show the Kelleys owe the bank at least 250,000, probably more. And get this. Our search of Florida records show there are at least nine other lawsuits involving money and the Kelley family.
COOPER: That's a lot of lawsuits. What about the charity the couple began?
GRIFFIN: It was called the Dr. Kelley Cancer Foundation. Started in 2005. Charity was formed according to the tax filings to "conduct research into efforts to discover ways to improve the quality of life of terminally ill cancer patients."
Sure sounded good. But they filed a tax return in 2008 and what did it do? It raised $157,000 in contributions. Spent the same amount on expenses. No record of cancer research. No record of care for patients and a source told us that the matching amounts in a charity's first year are very unusual.
The Kelley charity spent $43,000, $43,317 on meals and entertainment, and more than $8,000 on automobile expenses and dues and subscriptions $67,00. The charity did list $58,000 spent on what it called 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, but it retains its 501(c)(3) status right now with the IRS, Anderson.
COOPER: Drew, it seems like every charity you look into, it's just it's amazing to me. Any reaction on this from the Kelleys?
GRIFFIN: No, not really. We had a source close to the Kelleys who said they didn't have enough information to respond. We also reached out to the accounting firm that prepared the filing documents, a representative there said they had nothing, nothing to say.
COOPER: Wow. Drew. Appreciate it. Thanks very much. We will stay on it.
President Obama acknowledged today that millions of Americans didn't vote to him. Just ahead, Gary Tuchman takes us to a county where just President Obama, where he just got five votes. Why don't voters there like him? Well, find on that just ahead.
COOPER: A development today in the murder of Etan Patz, the 6- year-old New York City boy who vanished while walking to school in 1979. That's just ahead.
COOPER: Up close tonight, a country -- a corner of the country that, by some measure, is most anti-President Obama place in the United States. At 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: There are people all across this country, millions of folks who 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 about 255 people. More than half of them are female, the vast majority are white, and almost to a person, they don't much like President Obama. Here's Gary Tuchman.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you think of Barack Obama's first term?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ain't worth a damn. No good at all. Don't agree with anything he's done.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's a sentiment that was also 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 a second term?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Retire.
TUCHMAN: King County is not only the home for Barack Obama's lowest vote percentage. It's also the county where he received the lowest total number of votes.
Nationwide, the president tallied more than 62 million votes, but here in this county, he received 5 votes. That's 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 at Guthrie High School in the county seat to ask Mitt Romney voters why there is such distaste with Barack Obama's presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought he sounded more 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: Any time anything goes wrong, he just 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 RESIDENT: I just asked God that he would -- he would help him truly connect with him so 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 hoped the lord would help Barack Obama.
TUCHMAN: Do you think that's happened?
MCCAULEY: It doesn't appear so.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): And then there was something we've heard before.
(on camera) What bothers you the most about what he did during his first term? What are some of the things that bother you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not being honest with us about where he was born and just different like things like that. To me, he just seems dishonest.
TUCHMAN: Well, he said he was born in Hawaii. He's kind of said that for a long time. I'm wondering if, A, you've heard that, and if you have, why don't you believe it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just 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 country 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's Muslim, and of course, that would reflect in 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 than 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.
COOPER: Ahead on "360," is the Mideast about to explode? A top Hamas leader is assassinated by Israeli airstrike, and Hamas says Israel has opened the gates of Hell. Their words. The latest coming up.
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 budget cuts and tax hikes. Protests in Spain turned violent, with at least 74 injured and more than 100 arrested.
A court appearance tomorrow for the man accused of murdering Etan Patz 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 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 happened when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, blocking out its rays. Australia will not see another one for nearly 400 years -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wow, cool. Great pictures.
The military chief of Hamas has been killed in one of the fiercest assaults on Gaza in years. The Israeli defense forces posted video of the attack on YouTube. Armed groups in Gaza are vowing to avenge the assassination, while Israel has been ruling out a ground assault. Both sides also fighting a Twitter war. All that ahead.
COOPER: If you like to video chat on Skype, hold off until you hear our report. A security flaw that they had to fix today. That ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Israel launched a major air assault on Gaza, and it's leading the door open to a possible ground assault, as well. Officials are calling it a defensive operation or response to rocket attacks fired from Gaza. We, of course, have seen this before. But this time the Israeli Defense Forces is live blogging and tweeting the entire thing.
Take a look. This is an image they tweeted announcing the death of the chief 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. He took a direct hit. Jabari had been on Israel's most 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 Gaza, the strikes fired from Gaza and supporting Israel's right to defend itself.
I talked about all this earlier with Sara Sidner, CNN senior international correspondent; David Kirkpatrick of "The New York Times" and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
COOPER: Sara, what's the latest on the attacks and 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 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've just 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 firing from the sea. There are ships anchored just 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 fallout. And there's real concern here that there will be a full-scale war, something like you saw in 2008 during Operation Past Led (ph). COOPER: David, the Israeli military took to Twitter to warn Hamas of the attack, and they said, quote, "We recommend that 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, Israel's opened, quote, "the gates of hell on themselves."
I mean, do you think this renewed violence is potentially just the beginning of a much bigger conflict?
DAVID KIRKPATRICK, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think at this point, it's very hard to know. What's striking -- I'm in Cairo right now. What's striking from this point of view is this is -- this is the moment we've been waiting for with here the new democratically-elected government in Cairo. We've been waiting for the moment when a crisis will come again. It's really how will this government respond?
This is a government of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are ideological kin with Hamas. There has been support of Hamas for years, but yet at the same time, they are now deeply invested in maintaining a climate of stability. To get this country back on track. And 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 territories.
If Egypt has its back, I think that Hamas will go all out. But if Egyptians are telling Hamas, "We've got the Muslim Brotherhood," and Egypt can tell Hamas, "We've got to find a way out of this with some stability intact," that's going to be a whole different outcome.
COOPER: Fareed, how do you see this?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: I think there's no question, it's justified. Look, the attacks were out of Hamas -- out of Gaza by Hamas, were completely -- they had gone crazy in terms of the scope, the intensity, and Hamas was openly taking credit for them, rather than disavowing them.
The problem is that the Netanyahu people, B.B. and Barak, they essentially have a tactical approach here. They're hitting back, and they've been trying to do this. Remember, Israel has now invaded Gaza. It has tried to economically choke Gaza. And these are all tactical moves, and they've succeeded, 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 where Israel's relations with Egypt have deteriorated, its relations with Turkey have deteriorated. So I think there's no question, it's justified. The question is, is it smart?
COOPER: And there is real concern about regional instability.
ZAKARIA: There's 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 probably is going to undermine the Palestinian Authority's claim to U.N. -- the U.N. which B.B. Netanyahu might like, because it shows that the Palestinians are divided.
COOPER: David, we know President Obama spoke with the Israeli prime minister. How big of a concern should this be, you think, for the U.S.? The latest thing the U.S. -- the last thing the U.S. is wanting is to get pulled into another war. But the administration has said, obviously, it 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 Israel in the minds of Muslims around the world. And so whatever happens in Gaza, whatever happens in the Palestinian territories, is going to have repercussions in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the streets of Egypt, anywhere where the U.S. is trying to build relations and do business.
COOPER: And Fareed, obviously, there's questions about the relations between Israel and Turkey, which is another U.S. ally.
ZAKARIA: It will be very interesting to see how Turkey reacts. You'll remember, the original schism between Turkey and Israel was over Gaza, and it was over the blockade and the embargo of Gaza. So will Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey use this as another opportunity to win domestic support at home by criticizing Israel?
COOPER: Sara, David, Fareed, thank you.
COOPER: Well, a story that shocked New York City. A nanny accused of killing two children, stabbed to death in the bathtub in their Manhattan apartment. Now that nanny's been indicted. The charges, when we continue.
HENDRICKS: I'm Susan Hendricks with a "360 Bulletin."
According to reports, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is blaming his loss on election day to President Obama's so-called "gifts to minorities and young voters." Now, according to "The New York Times," Romney told voters at a conference call that President Obama was, quote, "very generous" in what they gave to those groups, policies that appeal to them.
A grand jury has indicted New York nanny Yoselyn 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 stab herself with a kitchen knife. Ortega is in the hospital and under police watch.
And Skype is investigating a security flaw that let anyone change a user's password to get control of their account. Now, Skype says it fixed the problem but that a small number of users may have been affected -- Anderson. COOPER: Susan, thanks.
Coming up, finally, some solid evidence that one should always, always choose one's face tattoo very, very carefully. "The RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight, the 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 Hartsburg, now to be forever known as, "Come on, you know, Eric, the guy with that Romney campaign logo tattooed 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 to a losing political campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HARTSBURG, HAD ROMNEY FACIAL TATTOO: I had it tattooed on. It's something I believe in. I lot of people who say, "Oh, 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: Well, here's how this went down. Eric put some of his face space up for bid on eBay. He said he'd 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 his 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)
HARTSBURG: Republican Party candidates, was like, "Hey, I'll give you 15 G's. We'll do the side of the head. We'll do something tasteful."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You've got to admit: as face tattoos go, that one is rather tasteful. And yes, he did say 15 G's. Someone paid that guy $15,000 to get that tattoo. Doesn't seem so silly any more, does it? How much did you get for your face tattoo? Nothing, right? See, I thought so.
Of course, not everyone Eric has encountered is particularly charmed by said tattoo. He says he's gotten some interesting comments from concerned passersby. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARTSBURG: If Romney wins, I'll get your face tattooed on my butt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Before you get all judge-y, let's face facts for a moment. Not only does this guy have $15,000, he's parlaying his face tattoo into stardom of sorts. He was a subject of a top ten list on David Letterman. He's all over the Internet. He was even on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Have you considered morphing your tattoo into something else, a butterfly or something?
HARTSBURG: Absolutely not.
KIMMEL: No? How long you will keep the tattoo?
HARTSBURG: For the rest of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Even if the fame only lasts 15 minutes, that tattoo is there forever, as the memories also will be. Memories of a guy who is armed with nothing more than an idea and a little bit of space on his face he wasn't using for anything else.
A guy who, when people said it was the most idiotic thing they'd ever heard of, simply turned the other cheek.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.