May 22nd, 2008
09:34 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 5/22/08

Another pastor and another political problem. When evangelical minister John Hagee endorsed Sen. John McCain it was no secret that was Hagee is controversial. He's called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and a "cult." But today, after a recording of Hagee saying Hitler had been fulfilling God's will surfaced McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement. What impact will this have on his campaign? We've got the raw politics.

Also tonight, a huge victory for the parents of Warren Jeffs' polygamist sect. A Texas appeals court said there wasn't enough evidence to support the initial claim of abuse and the state should never have taken children from the ranch. So what happens to them now?

CNN Sr. Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin has been following this story from the beginning and he blogged about the ruling. Jeffrey will be on the program tonight along with Rod Parker who is an attorney for the FLDS church. David Mattingly interviewed a young woman who gave birth while in custody of the state and Anderson will interview a former FLDS member who lived through the 1953 raid.

Please check out a post that may be helpful if you wonder why some comments get posted while others do not.

Anderson is anchoring the show from DC tonight but you can catch a glimpse of Erica on the studio web camera. We'll turn the camera on at 945p ET and turn it off at 11p ET.

We'll start posting comments to this blog at 10p ET and stop at 11p ET.

Filed under: Live Blog
May 22nd, 2008
08:25 PM ET

Gag gifts from the political desk

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Steve Brusk
CNN Sr. Assignment Editor

On a network political assignment desk, you never know what you'll be asked to find. Sound of a Barack Obama speech in Illinois from 10 years ago? Sure, no problem. A place to feed tape in Crow Agency, Montana... we're on it.

But some requests you just don't expect. Or want to own up to.

Like this week when AC360° Senior Producer Barclay Palmer asked us for a Hillary Clinton Nutcracker.

You see the item sold at novelty shops and online. For some, it's just one of many stupid but innocuous items from the campaign trail. For others, there's nothing funny about it – a sign of sexism and misogamy directed towards Clinton and her candidacy. Chelsea Clinton campaigning for her mother several times has referred to it as sexist attitudes she's witnessed in the campaign.

This week, Candy Crowley reported on how the Clinton campaign has discussed the impact of sexism on the campaign. Senator Clinton discussed it in a Washingtonpost.com interview this weekend, saying, "the manifestation of sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable or at least accepted. And I think there should we equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when and if it ever raises its ugly head. But it does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by comments and reactions of people who are nothing but misogynists." She called her treatment by the media "deeply offensive to millions of women."

And for the story, Candy needed a shot of the "nutcracker". Rumor had it the political unit might actually have one of them around.

My first response to Barclay's request was "I don't know what you are talking about. Certainly we would not have any items like that at the political desk. But in the interest of research, I unofficially may know where the object in question can be found."

I had to admit one was in a drawer at the desk. Anything for a story. The shows needs it shot – we always deliver.

The truth is, we got it months ago as a gag gift. One of dozens of trinkets from the trail... something we literally shoved in the back of a storage area. We love any souvenir that's political-related, from bumper stickers and signs to bobble heads and silly items. Any political message is the LAST thing we care about – like children, we just like toys.

So why I was a little embarrassed bringing it up to the supervising producer's desk to arrange a studio camera?

May 22nd, 2008
07:41 PM ET

Obama: Just because he says it doesn't make it so

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Leslie Sanchez
GOP Strategist and CNN Political Contributor

Sen. Barack Obama, according to a source, has commenced his search for a running mate, which just made things worse for the Democrats – not better. There may be some political benefit to the move - but it is almost certainly a double-edged sword. Rather than help to unify the party behind him, it pushes it toward an almost certain breach.

The news came just hours after Republican John McCain's campaign revealed he would be spending the Memorial Day weekend at his ranch in the company of three potential ticket mates: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

By making his own budding search for a vice president public, Obama has matched McCain in the news cycle, potentially making him seem just as presidential as the Arizona Republican. The problem is that McCain has his nomination sewn up; Obama is still in mid-battle with Hillary Clinton. And, as she will no doubt now acknowledge, nothing in politics is inevitable.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
May 22nd, 2008
06:05 PM ET

Waves of Horror: Former FLDS member reacts

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Carolyn Jessop
Former FLDS Member

I was shocked when I heard the news of the Texas Appellate Court ruling this afternoon.
Waves of horror washed over me at first as I thought that the children might have to be immediately returned. But that's not going to happen. This ruling will be appealed. It's not a knockout punch, but the FLDS obviously gained some ground today.

If those children go back to the complete, unsupervised control of the FLDS at the Yearning for Zion Ranch it would be like throwing gasoline on a fire that's already burning out of control. It would send a message that the FLDS can get away with any level of crime which would reinforce what society, through its inaction over the years, has reinforced for a very long time. The pattern in the FLDS is, from my experience, that once its leaders can get away with one level of crime they move on to the next.

I know from my conversations with those close to this case that Texas authorities feel they have found a system of abuse within the Eldorado compound. Remember the dozens of babies that were left unattended in a nursery? Or the news this week that 100 kids didn't match up with any parents in the compound? There will be more information about the physical and sexual abuse of these children when criminal charges are filed. A lot of evidence was taken out in the raid that investigators are still piecing together.


Filed under: Carolyn Jessop • FLDS update • Polygamy
May 22nd, 2008
05:32 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: When you care enough

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

This is a beautiful story about love, compassion and the power of a mother. In the aftermath of the China earthquake, one local police officer – who is also the mother of a 6 month old – began nursing orphaned babies and those whose mothers could no longer feed them.

Some of the women had lost their milk because of the trauma. This mother didn’t think twice about helping the infants in need. What a smart, selfless, kind and important decision by this mom to help. I am in awe.

There are an estimated 4,000 orphans in China as a result of the 7.9 magnitude quake. The only positive to that bit of information is that thousands more Chinese are responding, hoping to adopt these children.


Cancer touches too many families. Most of you reading this blog know someone who has been diagnosed – and hopefully beaten – cancer, whether it’s a family member, friend or co-worker. My Dad’s side of the family has been hit with enough cancer to fill a textbook. My Dad is a survivor of head and neck cancer – a somewhat rare but no less nasty form of the disease.


Filed under: Erica Hill
May 22nd, 2008
04:11 PM ET

FLDS court ruling: Bad thoughts aren't enough

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/22/art.polygamymothers2.jpg caption="Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mothers smile as they leave the Tom Green County courthouse after hearing news of a court ruling in their favor. " width=292 height=320]

Jeffrey Toobin
CNN Sr. Legal Analyst

The Third District Court of Appeals, in Austin, today ruled that the children seized last month at the FLDS ranch must be returned to their mothers. The decision made a lot of sense to me. The nine-page opinion is very much worth reading here.

To me, the key passage in the opinion is this one:

"Removing children from their homes and parents on an emergency basis before fully litigating the issue of whether the parents should continue to have custody of the children is an extreme measure. It is, unfortunately, sometimes necessary for the protection of the children involved. However, it is a step that the legislature has provided may be taken only when the circumstances indicate a danger to the physical health and welfare of the children and the need for protection of the children is so urgent that immediate removal of the children from the home is necessary."

The question is whether the Texas authorities put forth enough evidence to justify the 'extreme' step of taking the children away from their mothers. The court focused a great deal on the claim by Texas that the 'pervasive belief system' of the FLDS put the children in danger­ that males were raised to be perpetrators of sexual abuse and females were trained to be victims.


Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
May 22nd, 2008
02:53 PM ET

Beat 360° 5/22/08

Hey Bloggers!

All aboard! Next stop: '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 the 'Beat 360°' pic of the day: Brazilian Indians ride a bus in Altamira, Brazil. Amazon Indians and activists continue to protest a proposed hydroelectric dam on the nearby Xingu River

Beat 360°

Have fun with it.

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

David M. Reisner
360° Digital Producer

UPDATE: Check out last night's Beat 360° winners!

Filed under: Beat 360°
May 22nd, 2008
02:00 PM ET

Court ruling: State had no right to take children from Polygamy compound

You can read the court's ruling on the legality of removing of 400+ children from a polygamist compound here.
You can read the court's ruling on the legality of removing of 400+ children from a polygamist compound here.

David M. Reisner
360° Digital Producer

This is just crossing the wires:

An Appeals court has ruled that the state of Texas should not have removed the more than 400 children it took from a polygamist sect's ranch

In its ruling, the Texas 3rd District Court of Appeals decided in favor of 38 women who had appealed the removals, as well as a decision last month by a district judge that the children will remain in state custody.

The ruling stated:

"The legislature has required that there be evidence to support a finding that there is a danger to the physical health or safety of the children in question and that the need for protection is urgent and warrants immediate removal,"

"Evidence that children raised in this particular environment may someday have their physical health and safety threatened is not evidence that the danger is imminent enough to warrant invoking the extreme easure of immediate removal prior to full litigation of the issue."

The children were removed last month from the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon offshoot that practices polygamy.

From our Ed Lavandera:

"This ruling out of Austin goes on to say the family and protective services division (the agency in charge of removing the children from the compound) did not prove the children were in danger and they needed to be removed from their homes."

"You can imagine what the reaction is going to be in the coming ours from those involved with the sect and those who live in the compound... "

"State officials are also saying they still need more time to investigate and they are still in that process. "

Watch 360° for in-depth coverage and share your thoughts here:

Filed under: FLDS court hearing • FLDS update • Polygamy
May 22nd, 2008
11:21 AM ET

The Nation’s No. 2 – Who would you want for VP?

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David M. Reisner
360° Digital Producer


News broke this morning that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is quietly beginning his search for a running mate. A veteran Democratic activist in Washington told CNN the process is “at a very early point but that within the campaign itself they have been informally thinking about it for a while."

Meanwhile the presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain is also going to be busy this weekend... some say, with the search for a running mate, though the campaign flatly denies that. Three politicians viewed as possible VP contenders will head out to Arizona, to the home of the senator (although campaign officials said the gather is purely social.') In total 18 guests are expected at the McCain ranch in Sedona.

Among the guests said to be possible running mates: Charlie Christ, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Massachusetts Governor (and former presidential rival) Mitt Romney. Where is Mike Huckabee you ask? The Former Arkansas Governor (and former presidential rival) was invited to attend, but he and his wife already had plans to go on vacation and will skip the event, says a source close to Huckabee.

A senior McCain adviser Charlie Black told CNN, "He is definitely not interviewing anyone, and this weekend is not about that process... I know you all want it to be about the vice presidential process, but that is not what it is about... This is a social weekend, as the senator and Cindy very much enjoy having when they can get a break from campaigning.”

Well while they relax and have a social weekend, I wanted to let YOU think about it –
Whom would you like to see as Vice President to any of the three candidates running for the White House?

Sen. Hillary Clinton & ___________________ (and why?)

Sen. John McCain & _____________________ (and why?)

Sen. Barack Obama & ___________________ (and why?)

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • John McCain • Raw Politics • Vice President
May 22nd, 2008
11:04 AM ET

For Obama, the challenge is just beginning

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Barclay Palmer
360° Senior Producer

Obama's the big cheese now. But Swiss cheese comes to mind. He seems to have effectively won the delegate race. But barely. So is that a victory?

It's a beginning, at least.

Obama has inspired tens of thousands of new voters to register. But there are gaps in his support, so far. Working class voters in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. Women. And, as Tom Foreman reports tonight, among Christian Democrats. Also, Candy Crowley reports, among Jewish voters.

Today, Obama visits a synagogue in Florida as part of his campaign not just to win the Democratic nomination, but the majority of all American voters.

Think it will work? Or will John McCain win those voters?

Filed under: Barack Obama • Barclay Palmer • John McCain • Raw Politics
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