Program Note: Heilemann and Halperin will speak with Anderson tonight about their new book and the behind-the-scenes reporting on the 2008 presidential election. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Chapter One, 'Game Change'
THERE WERE THUNDERSTORMS IN Chicago, bringing air traffic to a grinding halt in and out of O’Hare. So Hillary Clinton sat on the tarmac at Martin State Airport, outside Baltimore, eating pizza and gabbing with two aides and her Secret Service detail on the private plane, waiting, waiting for the weather to clear so she could get where she was headed: a pair of fund-raisers in the Windy City for Barack Obama.
It was May 7, 2004, and two months earlier, the young Illinois state senator had won a resounding, unexpected victory in the state’s Democratic United States Senate primary, scoring 53 percent of the vote in a seven-person field. Clinton, as always, was in great demand to help drum up cash for her party’s candidates around the country. She didn’t relish the task, but she did her duty. At least it wasn’t as painful as asking for money for herself—an act of supplication that she found so unpleasant she often simply refused to do it.
As the wait stretched past one hour, and then two, Clinton’s pilot informed the traveling party that he had no idea when or if the plane would be allowed to take off. To the surprise of her aides, Clinton displayed no inclination to scrap the trip; she insisted that they keep their place in line on the runway. The political cognoscenti were buzzing about Obama—his charisma and his poise, his Kenyan-Kansan ancestry and his only-in-America biography—and she was keen to do her part to help him.
“I want to go,” she said firmly.
Tonight on 360°, race and politics. Democratic Sen. Harry Reid comes under fire for racial comments he made during the 2008 presidential campaign. Plus, a confession from former major league baseball star Mark McGwire. Plus, see how a dog raised the alarm when California got hit by an earthquake.
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has apologized for his comments in 2008 of then candidate Barack Obama as a "light-skinned" African-American with no Negro dialect" and now he wants to move on.
The comment was published in the new book "Game Change," which went on sale today.
But several Republicans, including the chairman of the RNC Michael Steele, don't agree with Reid. They want him to step down.
"The thing about it that's interesting is that when Democrats get caught saying racist things you know, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell (current Senate GOP Leader) saying that about an African-American candidate for President of the U.S., trust me, this Chairman and the DNC would be screaming for his head very much as they were with Trent Lott," Steele said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
Trent Lott was forced to step down as Senate Majority Leader in 2002 after saying the nation would have been better off if voters had elected Strom Thurmond President in 1948, who at the time supported segregation.
Do you think Reid should step down? Share your thoughts below.
Pres. Obama has come to Reid's defense.
"This is a good man who's always been on the right side of history. For him to have used some inartful language in trying to praise me, and for people to try to make hay out of that makes absolutely no sense. He apologized, recognizing that he didn't use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean-spirited in what he had to say and he's always been on the right side of the issues, " Pres. Obama told CNN's Roland Martin this afternoon.
Tonight we'll talk with the authors of "Game Change", Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. They offer insight on Reid's comments and reveal secrets from the 2008 campaign trail. Hear how Pres. Obama talked Hillary Clinton into taking the Secretary of State job, how former Pres. Bill Clinton tried to get Sen. Ted Kennedy's to endorse his wife's campaign and more.
On the terror front, CNN's Paula Newton has an exclusive report from Yemen. She talked with the anguished father of Anwar al-Awlaki, who says his son is an all-American boy and not the new Osama bin Laden. But we have new information tonight about just how important a player al-Awlaki is for al Qaeda in Yemen, including his ties to the Christmas bomb plot in the skies over Detroit.
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then!
UPDATE: The three girls who disappeared in Virginia last Wednesday have been found, authorities announced early Tuesday morning. In a media release, the Leesburg Police said Nathaly Flores, Allison Marroquin and Jocelyn Perdomo are all safe and have been reunited with their families."
At approximately 1:00 am on January 12, 2010, the three juvenile females approached a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Deputy on patrol in the Countryside Shopping Center in Sterling" according to the release. "They identified themselves and asked to be taken home." Investigators do not suspect any foul play and consider the case closed.
The father of one of three missing Virginia girls doubts they chose to runaway. “There is no evidence,” Hugo Hernandez told CNN. “They have no plan to do this. It was not their own decision.”
Hernandez last saw his daughter, Allison Marroquin, 13, on Tuesday evening at their Leesburg home. Marroquin, and her 8th grade classmates, Nathaly Flores and Jocelyn Perdomo, both 14, disappeared the next day after arriving at Smart’s Mill Middle School in Leesburg.
“Surveillance did show the kids leaving together,” Leesburg police public information officer Chris Jones said in a telephone interview. Hernandez said he also watched the videotape. “They didn’t go into the school,” he said. They walked close to the front door and started walking back to the parking lot again.
The local authorities have contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help in locating the girls, Jones said. “Just trying to cast a wider web,” Jones told CNN. He also added that investigators don’t have any indication the teens are the victims of a crime. “From what we have at this point, it still appears they are runaways.”
CNN International Correspondent
His anguish apparent, the father of Anwar al-Awlaki told CNN that his son is not a member of al Qaeda and is not hiding out with terrorists in southern Yemen.
"I am now afraid of what they will do with my son, he's not Osama Bin Laden, they want to make something out of him that he's not," said Dr. Nasser al-Awlaki, the father of American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
As recently as Sunday, Yemeni officials including provincial governor Al Hasan al-Ahmadi claimed that al-Awlaki was hiding out in the southern mountains of Yemen with al Qaeda.
"He's dead wrong. What do you expect my son to do? There are missiles raining down on the village. He has to hide. But he is not hiding with al Qaeda; our tribe is protecting him right now," insisted al-Awlaki's father in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"My son is (a) wanted man, he's cornered, that's the problem I am facing," al-Awlaki said.
One-time Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is taking on a new challenge: TV commentator.
The former Alaska governor - and potential 2012 presidential candidate - has signed a deal with Fox News to appear as a contributor on the network, a source with knowledge of the agreement confirms to CNN.
There are no plans for Palin to anchor her own program, the source said.
Palin is hardly alone in top Republicans-turned-TV talking heads.
After the 2009 GOP presidential primaries, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined Fox News as the host of his own show. Karl Rove, a former top aide to President George W. Bush, also joined Fox News as a commentator.
Michael Steele, the current chairman of the Republican National Committee, was once a Fox News contributor as well.
Newsmakers and iReporters weigh in on whether or not race relations have changed since Obama's election. They talk about the issues, the challenges and the solutions. What do you think? Go here to learn more.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plugs in the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle while General Motors President Mark Reuss at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Beat 360° Winners:
Yes, Madam Speaker, I too find pinstripes slimming.
What effect will this have if I plug it into Harry Reid?
Special to CNN
Sen. Harry Reid's comments during the 2008 Democratic primary show that he is socially awkward, but they certainly don't prove he is a secret racist. If anything, these comments show that Reid may know about white voters, but he doesn't understand black voters at all.
Reid's assessment that President Obama's light skin was beneficial to his electability among white voters may be accurate, but it's certainly not decisive. Think of it this way: We can divide white voters into three categories relative to black candidates. One group believes that blacks, as a group, are unqualified to hold public office. They will refuse to vote for a black candidate regardless of his politics or his skin tone. Surveys indicate that this is a dwindling part of the white electorate.
Another group of white voters is deeply committed to interracial political coalitions and are enthusiastic about voting for black candidates when they have the opportunity. This group is also largely unaffected by characteristics like skin color.
Finally, there is a group of white voters who are willing to vote for a black candidate, but who need to feel comfortable that the candidate will represent their interests. These white voters are looking for cues, signals and signs.