February 7th, 2008
11:32 PM ET

Blog from the Back Row

Tonight could have been really really bad. At the top of the show John King (filling in for Anderson tonight) was supposed to do a map explainer of delegates and why Mitt Romney dropped out because he couldn't come up with the magic number to secure the Republican nomination.


A view from the back row of the 360° control room

With 8 minutes to air, John still can't get the interactive board to work. He is on the phone with the tech guy that programs it, who is talking him through a workaround. I happen to be in the studio waiting to show John how to work the 'live blog'. I put in a phone call to the control room to warn them that they needed to start thinking about a Plan B. 5 minutes to air and the board was still subtracting, instead of adding, delegates as McCain won states. 3 minutes to air and John thinks he has it figured out. I decide to write out the instructions for the 'live blog' because there's no way I'll have time to show him. With 90 seconds to air, John is comfortable enough that it'll work that he heads back to the anchor desk. The control room goes back to Plan A and crosses their fingers. I go back upstairs. By the time I get there (the studio is on the fifth floor and the control room is on the seventh floor) we are in the show and there is no screaming or groaning so it all came off without a hitch!

That was it for drama tonight. There was breaking news on a factory explosion in Georgia and a city council shooting in Missouri that we handled in the news bulletin. However, our control room staff is truly a talented bunch so from a production standpoint that was pretty easy to deal with ... especially compared to what happened at the top of the show!

Still no pictures. Sorry. It's amazing that we can put on a TV show every night with all these moving parts yet I can't figure out how to attach a picture to a blog post. (sigh) Maybe our blog whiz kid, David Reisner, will help me out tomorrow.

Update: 'Wiz kid' David Reisner (sheesh, thanks Sean) added an image of our 'view from the back row' – enjoy!

– Sean Yates, 360° Sr. Producer

Filed under: AC360° Staff • Behind The Scenes
February 7th, 2008
11:13 PM ET

David Gergen: Two Candidates

It was good to see Ed Rollins on the show tonight. A few months ago he became the campaign manager and strategist for Mike Huckabee, and from the results this past Tuesday, you can see how effective a team he and Huckabee have become.

Ed and I go way back to Reagan days, and I haven't seen him this excited about a candidate since the Gipper.

With the race down to two candidates now, Ed is clearly hoping that Huckabee can win some of the big states upcoming like Texas, Virginia, and even Pennsylvania. But I wonder whether there won't soon be a built-in conflict for Huckabee: If he truly would like to be the vice presidential candidate – as is widely believed – isn't it pretty clear that McCain will grow increasingly disenchanted with Huckabee winning anything? I am not sure how even Ed Rollins can square that circle.

Recently Anderson and I taped a conversation about the extreme challenges facing the next President. I hope that viewers will have a chance to see – we are entering a dramatically important time for the country, and the more we talk this year about what the choices are - and the more we hear from the candidates - the better prepared we will be to face the future squarely.

– David Gergen, CNN Sr. Political Analyst

Program note: Watch David Gergen's conversation with Anderson "Extreme Challenges: The Next 4 Years" on 360° at 11p ET

Filed under: David Gergen • John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Raw Politics
February 7th, 2008
09:33 PM ET

Blog from the anchor desk 2/7/08

We had a great first night for our blog from the anchor desk.  Anderson read the blog during the program, saw all the comments, and was able to post a few of his own.

Tonight, John King fills in for Anderson.  The program will focus on politics, the tornadoes in the midwest,  Michael Vick's dogs, and Britney Spears troubles.

Building on last night, please keep your comments focused on the content and context of the live program.  I'll start posting at 10p ET and close the blog to comments at midnight.

Hope you watch, and join in the discussion.

Filed under: Behind The Scenes • Live Blog
February 7th, 2008
08:20 PM ET

Shawna Shepherd: Adventures with Mike Huckabee

(Left to right) – Shawna Shepherd, CNN; Matthew Berger, NBC; Matthew Philips, Newsweek; Kevin Chupka, ABC

Just when I thought covering Mike Huckabee's campaign couldn't be any more unpredictable, the press plane traveling from Little Rock to New York Thursday morning had to make an emergency landing.

The plane with Gov. Huckabee and his staff, including his daughter Sarah, arrived at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey without incident.

The press plane, a midsize (Hawker, I believe), traveling seven members of the press, landed early at Morristown Municipal Aiport in New Jersey, just south of Teterboro.  No one was injured.

It was a smooth flight from Little Rock, but as we flew over Philadelphia the plane suddenly dipped, losing a lot of altitude. Steve Coppin, CNN photojournalist, described the sensation as free-falling on a roller coaster and being lifted from your seat.  Everyone on the plane gasped loud enough for the pilots to hear.

I shook it off as bad turbulence or the consequence of being on a small plane.  At one point the sound of an alarm could be heard from the cock-pit. Newsweek reporter Matthew Philips looked at Coppin and said, "that didn't sound good."

(Left to right) – Steve Coppin, CNN; Shawna Shepherd, CNN; Kevin Chupka, ABC

Being veteran flyers, we shook it off as just another really bumpy flight.  We began descending earlier than we expected and the plane began swaying from side to side like a seesaw.  It was unsettling watching the pilots in the cock-pit quickly adjusting controls as they made the difficult landing. 

It wasn't until the plane came to a stop on the tarmac that the pilots told us there was a problem with the plane and they had to make an emergency landing. One of the pilots said it was "pretty serious" and explained that they lost flight controls and had trouble maintaining altitude.

The pilots said they both needed all their strength to land the plane manually.  A fire truck was on the tarmac as a precaution, and when the cabin door opened we were greeted by a firefighter in a protective silver fire suit.

Only hours later, this frightening experience became an afterthought, as former Gov. Mitt Romney suspended his campaign. 

– Shawna Shepherd, CNN Political Producer

Filed under: John McCain • Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Raw Politics
February 7th, 2008
06:58 PM ET

After the tornado, devastation and wonder

Kyson Stowell, just 11 months old, was probably asleep when a killer tornado shattered his Tennessee home. His mother was killed. 

But Kyson was thrown a hundred yards away, and landed in the middle of a neighboring field.

A firefighter checking for signs of life, one last time in a devastated area, later found him face down in the mud and barely moving.

Doctors today say the boy had cuts and abrasions, and a collapsed lung, but no broken bones. 

People here are talking about him with wonder. 

And he is a rare piece of good news to come out of this disaster.

– David Mattingly, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: David Mattingly • Tornadoes
February 7th, 2008
06:41 PM ET

John King: McCain's coronation among, um... friends

Mitt Romney is a businessman. He likes to go through data and numbers. After Super Tuesday, the numbers suggested suspending his campaign was perhaps the best course.

If you look at the map, you can’t miss it: John McCain is two times ahead of him in the delegate race.

Last night we were told the former Massachusetts governor would stay in the race. That was the public face of the campaign.

But I’m told Governor Romney started down this course yesterday. He left his headquarters after a private meeting with his staff and said nothing to reporters. This morning he told them that he had reached the calculation that he would suspend his campaign.

Finally, in a race with so many dramatic twists, consider this moment: Mitt Romney standing in a hall full of conservative activists at the Conservative Political Action Committee (or CPAC) conference in Washington, many of whom have outright said they wouldn’t vote for John McCain under any circumstances.

This was supposed to be a day on which conservatives stood up and said, Mitt, hang in there. And McCain was coming in later for a potential confrontation of sorts.

Instead, like it or not, the conservatives in that room were part of the coronation of John McCain.

Yes, Ron Paul is still in the race.  And Mike Huckabee has proven he can get votes and win contests. Yet if you look at the map and where the race goes, Huckabee is way behind.

So John McCain is now the putative Republican nominee. And that deal was sealed in a room full of his most vocal skeptics in the party.

What a moment.

-John King, Chief National Correspondent

Editor’s note: With Anderson off, John anchors 360° tonight. Watch 10p ET for insights on the presidential race, and where it goes from here.

Filed under: John King • John McCain • Mitt Romney
February 7th, 2008
04:22 PM ET

What if it's still a race when it's convention time

What better way to take five from packing than to check in with the 360 blog? This week I was back over at Headline News for Super Tuesday, and since then I have been trying to get the family ready for our big move.

Erica Hill

I am proud to report my son's bag is (almost) packed, the cat and dog's shots have been updated and I've got their records ready to go, and my house is a LOT less cluttered than it was three weeks ago. I'm heading out to Goodwill and a local women's shelter in a bit with some more donations - they may be sick of seeing me at this point!

We're excited about the move and living in New York, but it still hasn't hit us yet...maybe it will sink in this weekend when my Mom and I are trying to corral my son, the cat, and six suitcases at the airport!

I'm really looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for me at 360 - in addition to more blogging, of course. I'll be back on air from New York on Tuesday. Until then, it's back to the packing and the tossing.

-Erica Hill, 360° Correspondent

Filed under: AC360° Staff • Erica Hill
February 7th, 2008
03:47 PM ET

Beat 360°

Hi Bloggers!

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more interesting, we are served a new surprise... Speaking of servings –  I hope you saved room for desert: It's time for a healthy portion of 'Beat 360°'

Everyday we post a picture — and you provide the caption. Our staff will get in on the action too.

Tune in every night at 10p ET to see if you are our favorite! Can you beat 360°? Here is today’s “Beat 360°” pic of the day:


Here is one to get you started:

Huckabee: “No I’m good, I already took a piece.”

Have fun with it. Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

– David Reisner, 360° Digital Producer

Filed under: Beat 360°
February 7th, 2008
03:44 PM ET

Vick's fighting dogs get second chance at life

Check out 360° Correspondent Dan Simon's story on CNN.com.
You can watch his report tonight on 360° at 10p ET.

KANAB, Utah (CNN) - Ellen doesn't look like a top-fighting dog.

She wags her tail and gives kisses to anyone who greets her. But the deep scars on her face are permanent reminders of her difficult and violent past.

Ellen is one of the 47 pit bulls seized from an illegal dog fighting ring on property owned by disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

The dogs were bred to fight to the death. Of course, if trained properly they can be gentle loyal pets.

Full Story

Filed under: Dan Simon • Michael Vick
February 7th, 2008
03:31 PM ET

What if it's still a race when it's convention time

Unless there is a breakout by one of the candidates, chances are growing that the race for delegates between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could leave each going to their convention achingly short of the 2025 delegates needed to win the nomination.


David Gergen is a political contributor for Anderson Cooper 360°.

Under the rules, it takes 2025 delegates to win - that's 50% plus 1 of all ballots. While counts vary among campaigns and news organizations, it appears that counting super delegates, each of them is in the range of 1100, with Clinton maintaining a small lead. The candidates challenge is that if they keep roughly splitting delegates, there simply aren't enough left to get to 2025. That's because the votes of two key states have been taken off the board: both Michigan and Florida were stripped of their delegates because their states insisted on voting early. Michigan had 128 delegates (not counting super delegates) and Florida, 185 - a total of 313. Winning before the convention would thus require one of the candidates to get a significantly higher percentage of the remaining delegates than what she or he has achieved so far – can either breakout?

Obama appears to have the best chance of breaking out early: he is running strong among the 9 states that are up for grabs between now and March 4. His strength in those states plus his prodigious fundraising could sweep him to victory. But Clinton has shown enormous resilience and staying power throughout this race, and her organization knows that she could have a major comeback in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

How will it be resolved if they are still neck-and-neck after the primaries? A brokered convention? Howard Dean, chair of the DNC, is fervently opposed. Give Michigan and Florida back their delegates, based on the empty primaries they held - something that would give it to Clinton? The manifest unfairness of that to Obama could fracture the party. Hold new primaries in Michigan and Florida? (That would seemingly favor Clinton.) Hold special caucuses in Michigan and Florida? (Which may be more favorable to Obama)

A tough set of questions. We would welcome your thoughts.

– David Gergen, 360° contributor

Filed under: David Gergen • Raw Politics
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