Tonight, a breath-taking turn in the story that reduced a California neighborhood to ashes. The images of the natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno were horrific. The walls of flame looked like something from a disaster movie. And now, there’s evidence to suggest it might have been preventable. Documents have surfaced showing P-G-and-E, the local utility that operated the pipeline, knew about a problem with the pipe in another section three years ago and got permission to spend millions of dollars from ratepayers to do repairs. Those repairs were supposed to be done in 2009 but weren’t – even though ratepayers had begun paying for the project. Tonight, Dan Simon is keeping them honest. He’ll have the latest on this new development. We’ll also hear from the head of the utility watchdog group that uncovered the documents.
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Tonight, a breath-taking turn in the story that reduced a California neighborhood to ashes.
The images of the natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno were horrific. The walls of flame looked like something from a disaster movie. And now, there’s evidence to suggest it might have been preventable. Documents have surfaced showing P-G-and-E, the local utility that operated the pipeline, knew about a problem with the pipe in another section three years ago and got permission to spend millions of dollars from ratepayers to do repairs. Those repairs were supposed to be done in 2009 but weren’t – even though ratepayers had begun paying for the project. Tonight, Dan Simon is keeping them honest. He’ll have the latest on this new development. We’ll also hear from the head of the utility watchdog group that uncovered the documents.
Another surprise has come to light in Pennsylvania, where residents are learning that their state Homeland Security Department has been spying on them, paying a private security contractor to monitor peaceful protests and gatherings – including a gay pride festival, a candle-light vigil against the oil company BP, and protests against natural gas drilling. The contractor has been compiling a list of potentially threatening groups and people. Gov. Ed Rendell says he wasn’t aware of the spying and is appalled by it. What’s more, the contract cost the state $125,000. You might think some heads would be rolling over at the state’s Homeland Security Department. Nope. Gov. Rendell joins Anderson tonight.
We’ll also take a close look at last night’s primary upsets by Tea Party candidates. Today, the Republican Party leadership is embracing Christine O’Donnell, who won the Senate GOP nomination in Delaware. They did everything in their power to discredit her going into yesterday’s race. Politico called the party's about-face quote "a vivid illustration that the base is in charge and has the leadership running scared." Is that true? The best political team on television weighs in on that tonight. Anderson will also talk with Ron Paul and Eliot Spitzer.
See you at 10 p.m. eastern.
Tom Foreman | BIO
(CNN) - There she was: Beaming, waving, jumping through interviews, and calling to her followers, “Come on, kids, let’s go join the Senate!” Well, not quite, but the jubilation from Christine O’Donnell and her followers Wednesday was somewhat like what one sees when a guy from the stands takes the half-time, half court shot and wins a million bucks.
Political pundits have staggered around all day trying to explain the unexplainable; how a woman who seemed destined to be a perpetual also-ran, is now the Republican candidate for one of Delaware’s U.S. Senate seats.
I think she did it through a simple equation: Right face, right place, right kind of race.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/09/15/republicans.senate/story.odonnell.wed.gi.jpg caption="Christine O'Donnell says she can win the Delaware Senate seat without the backing of the GOP establishment.'" width=300 height=169]
(CNN) - A celebratory Christine O'Donnell thanked her supporters, the Tea Party and kingmaker Sarah Palin on the night of her stunning win in Delaware's Republican Senate primary.
At the same time, party leaders were shaking their heads, watching helplessly as control of the Senate was slipping out of reach.
Republicans were expected to pick up the Senate seat that Vice President Joe Biden held for 26 years with Rep. Mike Castle, a nine-term congressman and popular former governor who appealed to independents and some Democrats, on the ballot.
And in an anti-incumbent year, Republicans had hopes of reclaiming the Senate, where Democrats hold 59 seats, including two independents who caucus with them, and Republicans 41.
But now that it will be O'Donnell facing off against Democrat Chris Coons, Democrats are breathing a little easier.
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:
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State of California, Department of Food and Agriculture, Secretary A.G. Kawamura, left, visit the Lotte Department Store on September 15, 2010 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo credit: Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
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.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
"Governor Schwarzenegger uses a visual aid to demonstrate his plan to unite the two Koreas, 'I know ziss iss nutty …'"
Dave Hronek, Atlanta, GA
"I told you when I was elected I would work for peanuts. Now I'm collecting my bonus!"
CNN Senior Political Analyst
Washington (CNN) – As early as next week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee will "go on the offense," according to a senior Senate campaign strategist, laying out its path to victory in a number of Senate races – not claiming to be on the verge of a majority, but well on its way.
While the path to a majority just got a lot tougher last night with the defeat of Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware for the GOP nomination, this campaign strategist says "We're going to take our lumps after Delaware. But for all of the beltway narrative, we are winning in a lot of places."
Does that mean a majority? Maybe not, "but we're still going to win a bunch of seats."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/09/15/new.hampshire.senate.primary/story.kelly.ayotte.wmur.jpg caption="Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin backs Ayotte, calling her a 'Granite Grizzly.'" width=300 height=169]
CNN Deputy Political Director
(CNN) - Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte has squeezed out a narrow GOP Senate primary win over conservative challenger Ovide Lamontagne, the New Hampshire secretary of state's office declared Wednesday.
Ayotte, the favorite among establishment Republicans, held less than a 1,000-vote lead over Lamontagne, a Manchester attorney and the 1996 Republican nominee for governor, with 85 percent of precincts counted, AP reported. The difference is less than 1 percent of the vote.
The New Hampshire race didn't grab the national spotlight like the Republican Senate primary in Delaware - where the more conservative challenger won - but shared a similar storyline.
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
Editors note: Watch for more real time dispatches from the hallways on Capitol Hill as CNN's correspondents and producers cover the machinations of Congress. As always, the CNN Political Ticker is your source for up-to-the-minute political news- now even more so.
2:15 p.m. – Christine O'Donnell told CNN's Jessica Yellin in a mocking tone that the National GOP does not have a "winning track record" in GOP primaries this season.
The NRSC, under the leadership of John Cornyn, has in fact backed losing GOP candidates this primary season in Kentucky, Alaska, Colorado, and more.
I just interviewed Cornyn, who responded to that by saying, "My record will be determined after November 2nd and how many pickups we'll have. I'm not making any predictions here today. We have about a dozen seats in play. I think November 2nd, that's when my report card will get graded."
Still, Cornyn is joining other GOP leaders in bending over backwards to signal there is unity now that O'Donnell is the GOP nominee from Delaware.
A day after telling me he thinks he has "doubts" about O'Donnell's electability and that it is a "serious issue," now he says this:
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/09/15/borger.gop.fratricide/tzleft.gloria.borger.cnn.jpg caption="For Democrats' slogan, Borger suggests, 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.'" width=300 height=169]
CNN Senior Political Analyst
Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "AC360°," "John King, USA" and "State of the Union" as well as participating in special events coverage.
(CNN) - Once upon a time, back after Barack Obama's impressive 2008 presidential win, defeated and depressed Republicans had to do something to prove they still had a pulse. So leaders went out of their way - and it wasn't easy - to recruit stellar, well-known, GOP candidates for Senate: a governor in Charlie Crist of Florida, a secretary of state in Trey Grayson of Kentucky, a seasoned and popular congressman in Mike Castle of Delaware.
At the time, it seemed like a really good plan. And it got even better when President Obama and his jolly band of congressional Democrats shepherded through some controversial, and unpopular, legislation. Huge bills to reform health care and stimulate the economy played right into the GOP wheelhouse: too much government, too much spending.
So as the White House and Democrats chalked up success after success, their poll numbers sank. Independent voters ran away scared. Republican voters were just furious. And GOP congressional leaders basked in the brilliant simplicity and effectiveness of their newfound anti-government message. In fact, they honed it - and harped on it - at every opportunity. The storyline almost seemed too easy, just too good to be true.
As it turns out, it was.
AC360°'s Political Theater is back!
Today, Tom Foreman is fact checking an ad that asks viewers to tell Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, to "stop the Medicare cuts."
Here’s the script for the 30-second ad which is entitled “Hurting” and is paid for by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies:
"But what are they doing in Washington?"
"Congressman Joe Sestak voted for Obama’s big-government health care scheme... …billions in job killing taxes…"
"And higher insurance premiums for hard hit families…"
"Even worse, Sestak voted to gut Medicare, a $500 billion dollar cut."
"….Reduced benefits for 850,000 Pennsylvania seniors"
"Higher taxes and premiums, fewer jobs…Medicare cuts. The Sestak/Obama plan costs us too much."
"Tell Congressman Sestak, stop the Medicare cuts."
Take a look at the ad's claims and then render your own verdict in the comments section below. You have 4 choices: “Right on,” “It’s a stretch,” “Tall tale,” or “Big fat lie.” Be brief but please give us the evidence in support of your verdict. And two more things: CNN’s comment policy applies and be responsive to our request for help; only submit comments that will help us fact check the ad.
Earlier: DNC ad gets an "It's a stretch" verdict