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Inside Politics

Bush Nominee for Labor Secretary Facing Questions About Illegal Alien; Florida Examining Election Reform

Aired January 8, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I firmly believe she'll be a fine secretary of labor. And I've got confidence in Linda Chavez.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush stands by his choice for labor secretary amid questions about the shelter and cash she gave an illegal immigrant.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: On this moving day in Austin, we are going to look at new bumps in the road for the Bush transition.

WOODRUFF: And the president-elect weighs in on the question: Will he pardon Bill Clinton?

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: And thanks for joining us.

The honeymoon may not be entirely over, but the Bush transition team is getting a stronger taste of the intense scrutiny that comes along with the presidency. At issue this day: labor secretary nominee Linda Chavez, the help she gave an illegal immigrant, and whether it is comparable to the Nannygate flap that sank a Clinton nominee eight years ago.

Here's our senior White House correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president-elect voiced support for his embattled choice to be labor secretary.

BUSH: I firmly believe she'll be a fine secretary of labor. And I've got confidence in Linda Chavez.

KING: But a senior Bush transition source tells CNN -- quote -- "It is clear we have a problem here." Chavez acknowledges providing a room to an illegal immigrant when she lived in this Maryland house back in 1991. Chavez says she did not know at the time that Marta Mercado was in the United States illegally. But Mercado told "The Washington Post" she informed Chavez of her illegal status three months after she moved in.

Chavez also acknowledges that Mercado did some household chores, and that she periodically gave her money, but insists the two were not connected: that the money was charity to someone in need. Organized labor was already vowing to fight the Chavez nomination because of her conservative views. Now union leaders say they want to know if a woman nominated to enforce the nation's labor laws broke them.

GERALD MCENTEE, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: I would think it will be a very serious issue for Ms. Chavez when she goes in front of the United States Senate. And well it should be.

KING: All potential Bush Cabinet picks were asked whether they had properly paid taxes for any domestic help. Chavez says she did not mention Mercado because she did not consider her to be an employee. The question is a legacy of President Clinton's failed 1993 nomination of Zoe Baird for attorney general. Baird hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. And Chavez was among her many Republican critics.


LINDA CHAVEZ: I think most of the American people were upset during the Zoe Baird nomination, that she had hired an illegal alien. That was what upset them more than the fact that she did not pay Social Security taxes.


KING: The Bush team says a thorough investigation is under way, and sources say it includes an effort to determine exactly when Chavez learned that Mercado was in the United States illegally and whether her statements to Bush advisers and the FBI were truthful.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY DESIGNEE: All the questions are being asked and answered. And if anything else comes to light, we will talk about it at that time if that happens.

KING: Several leading Democrats who already opposed Chavez voiced confidence that the nomination was doomed.


KING: And while not ready to go anywhere near that far, several leading Republican sources on Capitol Hill today also saying for the first time that they believe one of the president-elect's picks for the Cabinet is in serious risk of not winning confirmation -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, any foreseeable problems with other Bush nominees?

KING: Well, certainly, we know the tough questions coming for John Ashcroft, the choice for attorney general, Gale Norton, the choice for interior secretary -- also suggestions now that some of those viewed as not controversial might also at least face some tough question. Over the weekend: reports about many of the millions of dollars Colin Powell has made in speaking fees since he left the Pentagon. Among them: a fee he received from an endowment at Tufts University that is paid for by the Lebanese deputy prime minister. Some people may have questions about that.

And also, at the National Archives, you can hear the voice of Donald Rumsfeld, while President Nixon, back in 1971, is making disparaging remarks about African-Americans: Donald Rumsfeld saying things like, "Yep, yep, that's right" -- his advisers, though, saying this is a man with a long history of support for the civil-rights movement, that he was in no way agreeing with the president's comments. He was simply making small talk to get the conversation to move on. But look for that to come up at his confirmation hearing as well, although many Democrats today saying they have known Don Rumsfeld for a long time, and they do not believe, in any way, that he is a racist -- Bernie.

SHAW: John King -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're joined now by two veterans of presidential transitions: former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor -- who worked on the Clinton transition -- and GOP strategist Ron Kaufman, who advised and served in the White House of the first president-elect Bush.

Well, Ron Kaufman, to you first: Should these new disclosures about Linda Chavez endanger her confirmation?

RON KAUFMAN, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I don't think so at all, Judy. I think it's right that questions be asked. I think it's right that she answers those questions. And she will. And I have great faith that Linda has told the truth and this will go away.

Listen, the American public are in a different position right now. I think they are going to demand of both sides of the aisle, of both sides of Capitol Hill and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue work together, put the party politics aside, and let's move forward. There is going to be a big price to pay for either party if they are viewed as obstructionists.

WOODRUFF: Is this a matter of being obstructionist, Mickey Kantor?

MICKEY KANTOR, FORMER COMMERCE SECRETARY: No, of course not. This is relevant to the job of labor secretary. This is not ideological. This goes to her ability and willingness to enforce the law, based upon -- it seems as though, from the reports -- some question as to whether or not she had, in her employ, an illegal alien and knew of it. We have to know the facts. I don't know the facts. We'll have to find out.

This is a kind of personal question or concern that goes right to the heart of her job. If it didn't go to the heart of her job, it would not be relevant. But it is in this case. And I think that people will take it seriously.

WOODRUFF: Ron Kaufman, should the transition -- the Bush transition team have known this? Should they have figured this out during the vetting process?

KAUFMAN: Well, as you know, Judy -- as Linda had said -- they asked all the potential designate nominees: Did they have problems like this? And they all said no. So she has said that this woman was not an employee. She never paid her because she was an employee. And she was a friend and someone she was taking care of. So it's a whole different thing. Again, they should ask the questions. That's right. That's the job of the Senate. But once the questions are answered, and answered honestly, they will move on and she will be confirmed.

WOODRUFF: Mickey Kantor, what's your view? Should they gotten to the bottom of this before they nominated her?

KANTOR: Well, you try. You try to ask every question you can. And this where probably Ron and I agree. In some cases, either the questions are not asked appropriately, or the person questioned doesn't understand the question, doesn't -- is not candid enough with a question or two, and in fully -- and is fully vetted.

In this case, we don't know what has happened. All we know is, there seems to be -- there are allegations. They are serious. They go to the heart of the matter in her job -- her potential job. They ought to be fully vetted at this point. We ought to find out whether or not they're true. If they are true, there are serious problems.

WOODRUFF: Today, also see in the news reports, Ron Kaufman, that Christie Whitman, the nominee to head the environmental agency, employed illegal aliens 10 years ago. Now, this came out when she ran for governor seven or eight years ago. Is that a different matter because it is out there?

KAUFMAN: I think it is. It is something that everyone knew about, knew when she went through -- ran for reelection as governor. they knew that, Judy. This is nothing new. She said that in the beginning. And, quite frankly, that has nothing to do with the EPA job she is going to handle. I have to agree with Mickey. There is a difference between what job you are handling and what problems you may or may not have.

WOODRUFF: Mickey Kantor, what about John Ashcroft? He is a little bit off the radar screen now because of what's come up in the last few days about Linda Chavez. Is his nomination in trouble because of the sort of variety of things that we're hearing: the Ronnie White nomination for the judgeship, questions about whether he's an extremist? Is this all enough to add up to problems for him?

KANTOR: I don't think it's a problem in terms of his questioning before the United States Senate and how he's going to be pinned down in terms of what his policies are going to be. How is he going to enforce civil-rights law? What is he going to about protecting the right of women to choose, which is part of the law of the Supreme Court of our land? What he's going to do on other issues that go to the heart of matters in the environment that people are concerned about, where he has been, of course, very, very conservative, and on -- what many people believe -- the wrong side of those issues.

If, in fact, he satisfies a Judiciary Committee, and therefore the United States -- and then the United States Senate on these questions, he'll be -- he'll be consented to. If not, he is in -- he could have some trouble.

WOODRUFF: Should ideology, Ron Kaufman, be a disqualifier for someone who is nominated to a Cabinet position?

KAUFMAN: No, I don't think so -- on either side.

WOODRUFF: On either side.


KAUFMAN: Go back and read the Federalist Papers. That's not the purpose of asking the consent of the Senate. They're supposed to ensure that the people are of moral character, that there is nothing wrong in their background. But clearly, any president elected by this country has the right to have his or her Cabinet, as it should be.

And John Ashcroft was reelected twice as attorney general, head of the National Attorney Generals Association. That's twice as governor of Missouri and once as U.S. senator. John Ashcroft is a fine, decent honorable man who will be confirmed.

WOODRUFF: So it -- Mickey Kantor, is it just a matter of ideology with John Ashcroft?

KANTOR: I think it goes deeper than that, when you are talking about the civil-rights laws of our land: whether or not someone is going to faithfully execute those laws and carry them out in a vigorous fashion and protect the rights of minorities in our country -- and women -- those of whom have been put upon the most in our society. I think it's incumbent upon the attorney general of the United States to be the people's counsel, to represent those who are the unrepresented, who are the powerless, who need that kind of representation.

If the head of the Justice Department can't pledge to do that, then I think it's a problem. I hope -- and would hope to expect that this attorney general nominee would say that he would do that vigorously. But if he can't -- or won't -- then I think it should be a problem.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly to both of you: What can transition teams do, if anything? I mean, once a president-elect makes the choices, is there anything more that a transition team can do to smooth the way, to make sure these kinds of things that have come out in the last few days don't happen?

KANTOR: Sure -- Ron.

KAUFMAN: Well, it's an interesting question, Judy.

I think you have to do your best you can do up front to vet it. Pick good quality people who have been around the track, who are good for their jobs. They're known by Congress, known by the public. That makes it easier. That's why you have Colin Powell, who is going to be a great secretary of state. That's why Bush's Cabinet is going to be a really good Cabinet?

WOODRUFF: What about the Don Rumsfeld comments, Mickey Kantor?

KANTOR: Oh, Don Rumsfeld is -- there is no doubt about his commitment to civil rights and to civil liberties. I worked for Don way back in 1971 and 1970. He's a decent man. Any implication in those comments that he is anti-civil-rights are just wrong. He is a good man and decent man.

WOODRUFF: And in terms of preventing these kinds of things from happening in general?

KANTOR: Well, I think you have to careful in the vetting. Then, of course, you have to prepare the nominee for the kind of questions that are going to come up. Everyone is subject to some criticism. Anyone who has been in public life, of course, has taken positions. And they're going to upset one group or another. And that's up to the campaigns -- and now the transition team in the case of president- elect Bush -- to prepare these folks for their confirmation hearings, their meetings with senators, in order to answer those questions.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mickey Kantor, Ron Kaufman, good to see both of you.

KAUFMAN: Thank you.

KANTOR: You, too.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, even amid the controversy about some of the Bush nominees, our new poll shows 65 percent of Americans approve of the way he is handling this transition, about the same marks they gave president-elect Clinton in '92. As Mr. Clinton prepares to leave the White House, 52 percent of those surveyed say, if he is indicted, he should be pardoned by President Bush; 42 percent disagree. Bush was asked about a possible pardon on this day after a key Senate Republican said he supports the idea.

CNN's Major Garrett is with Bush in Austin -- Major.


Well, of course, the independent counsel has made a live option of the possibility of indicting President Clinton after he leaves office for his testimony in the Monica Lewinsky case. Now, the president has made clear he want and doesn't believe he'll ever need a pardon. The president-elect was asked about it today. He said: Well, it's hard to answer that question since the president has not even been indicted. But he made it clear that, if that were to happen, he thinks the country should move on.


BUSH: I think it's time to get all this business behind us. It think it's time for the president to -- allow the president to finish his term and let him move on and enjoy life and become an active participant in the American system. And I think -- I think we've had enough focus on -- on the past. It's time to move forward.


GARRETT: The clear implication from that, Bernie, is that the president -- President Bush -- would grant the current president -- President Clinton -- a pardon, if, in fact, he were indicted. The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch, said he would do the same. And that has made all this very topical.

Also today, the president-elect and his vice president-elect, Dick Cheney, conducted a meeting here in Austin with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the military committees on Congress: a meeting designed to encourage and enlist their support in some of the key changes the Bush team wants to bring to national-security policy -- chief among them: increasing pay for U.S. soldiers, decreasing deployments overseas and building support on Capitol Hill for a costly and controversial national missile defense system.

But that wasn't the only heavy-lifting that the president-elect did here in Austin today. On a little bit lighter note: Earlier, the president-elect did some heavy-lifting at the governor's mansion, moving some boxes and some furniture, as he and the first lady of Texas, Laura Bush, prepare to move to Washington, D.C. And they were deciding today what furniture and what boxes to send down to the family ranch in Crawford, which articles to send up to the new residence: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue --Bernie.

SHAW: OK. Thank you, Major Garrett, in Austin.

And still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS: the politics of John Ashcroft's nomination. Will his conservative views block his confirmation as the next attorney general? A report from Bob Franken and perspective from Jeff Greenfield.


WOODRUFF: President-elect Bush's Cabinet selections are getting generally good marks, according to our new CNN/"USA Today/Gallup poll. Twelve percent rate them as outstanding; 26 percent say they are above average. Six percent say they are below average. And 7 percent rate them as poor. As for ideology, 9 percent say the Cabinet choices are too liberal; 20 percent say too conservative, while 61 percent say they are about right.

Among the Bush Cabinet choices under fire: former Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri. Yesterday, Democratic Senator Joe Biden indicated that he may oppose Ashcroft's nomination as attorney general. Other senators have expressed concerns over Ashcroft's views, but say they will wait for the hearings.

Our Bob Franken takes a closer look at the opposition to Ashcroft and the issues at play.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sources tell CNN that Ashcroft opponents in his home state of Missouri are taking advantage of Governor Bob Holden's inauguration, using the occasion to hold informal discussions about how they plan to mobilize in the state. But the main action is in Washington.

Senate Democrats have now decided to rush forward with Judiciary Committee hearings early next week on Ashcroft's nomination to take advantage of their temporary control of the Senate and the agenda.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I think that this confirmation will be a difficult one. And I think that there will be a number of questions that will be asked, that you will find that people in the public -- those who aren't extremely partisan on either side -- will want answered.

FRANKEN: The Ashcroft choice to be attorney general may be president-elect Bush most polarizing nomination. John Ashcroft is the outspoken conservative: anti-gun-control, anti-abortion, anti-just- about-anything-called-liberal. So it's little wonder the liberal constituency groups are preparing for battle. They're about to announce what they call the largest coalition of organizations to oppose an executive department nomination.

KATE MICHELMAN, NARAL: To lay out our concerns, our very deep and profound concerns that John Ashcroft represents a person whose views and values are way outside the mainstream.

FRANKEN: The hardest fight may be over charges by civil-rights groups who say that, as a public figure, Ashcroft has taken positions that are nothing less than racist. Their focus is on Judge Ronnie White, the first African-American on the Missouri Supreme Court, nominated by President Clinton to be a federal judge, rejected by the Senate due to the efforts of John Ashcroft. Democrats have asked Judge White to testify, but have not yet gotten a response.

At the same time, conservatives are planning their defense of Ashcroft, insisting that he has a strong civil-rights record. They are coordinating with the Bush transition team.

FLEISCHER: And John Ashcroft has a very powerful, strong record on the question of civil rights, and signed the Martin Luther King bill into law as the governor of his state. And we're very proud of that.

FRANKEN: Ashcroft has a huge advantage. He just left the Senate. Members of that self-consciously exclusive club almost never reject one of their own.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FRANKEN: But leaders of the anti-Ashcroft coalition say that their main strategy is to ask senators not to make any commitment. Wait, they're saying, until the hearings -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bob, from a purely political standpoint, is Ashcroft now advantaged because of the controversy that is newly surrounding Linda Chavez and her nomination?

FRANKEN: Well, it takes a little bit of the heat off of that. He may not any longer be the main target of the liberals. Remember, there is an element here -- the side that is anti-Bush administration would probably like to at least have one trophy. And that trophy may have switched from Ashcroft now to Linda Chavez.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken at the Capitol, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: And joining us now to talk more about the controversies surrounding Bush's Cabinet nominees: our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, let's talk about labor secretary nominee Chavez. How typical are these questions about her?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, they're classic in one sense. And it relates to the Ashcroft nomination, as well. Cabinet members -- first of all, they are almost never rejected. There have been like nine in American history. But they are almost never, never rejected because of their views.

Opponents generally know that senators have a lot of deference for Cabinet nominees. Unlike lifetime federal-court appointees, the idea is, they only serve during the life of the administration. Let the president have his team. So to oppose a nomination, generally, people can't go on somebody's views. They have to find somebody else. John Tower, you will remember, Bernie, in 1989: a former senator rejected for defense secretary because of allegations of personal wrongdoing relating to alcohol and women -- raised, in fact, by a conservative.

I went back -- the last one before him: Lewis Strauss, more than 40 years ago, rejected as Eisenhower's commerce secretary, among other reasons, because, allegedly, he had misled the Senate. So in that sense, opposition based on conduct rather than views is quite typical of how one opposes a Cabinet nominee.

SHAW: Let's be very direct: Is there a double-standard about these charges?

GREENFIELD: I believe that there almost always is. That is a noncontroversial Cabinet nominee will rarely be sidelined because of the kind of issue that you are hearing now. I mean, granted, people say this relates to her job performance. We heard Mickey Kantor raise that issue just a few minute ago. But for instance, if Colin Powell -- who is one of the most popular figures in Washington -- had a similar problem, I don't think it would amount to a proverbial hill of beans.

I think it is when there is a core group within a party that opposes a nomination, that's when these kinds of issues have traction. In this case, AFL-CIO leader John Sweeney, who poured tens of millions of dollars into the Democratic campaign coffers this fall, is adamantly opposed to Linda Chavez because of her views. And I think that there are Democrats who want to be in the good graces of John Sweeney will leap to opposition for Linda Chavez where they would not have done it necessarily for another nominee.

SHAW: So, if history is any guide, what's the danger for the Bush administration here?

GREENFIELD: Well, I go back to my days playing highly unorganized stickball on the streets of New York City. We had no referee. And we were always arguing. And so our rule was: Your own man says so. If your own man said your team is wrong, that ended it. The danger for the Bush administration -- and it's typical of any new administration -- is when people in its own camp -- say, Republican senators -- begin to raise questions, because, at that point, the issue begins to snowball.

And the controversy itself becomes a liability, no matter what the facts. You will remember that, after Zoe Baird -- her nomination as attorney general was withdrawn in 1993 because she had employed an illegal alien and not paid taxes. The next nominee, Judge Kimba Wood, had employed an illegal alien, but totally legally: paid the taxes, followed everything in the law. But the controversy, the very phrase "nanny problem" was enough to derail that nomination.

And that's where the danger comes in; when Republicans decide it isn't worth the candle to fight because the controversy is getting in the way of a new administration.

SHAW: Now, a moment ago you said Cabinet nominees are not rejected because of their views. How absolute is that rule?

GREENFIELD: It's almost absolute. As I say, you have had sub- Cabinet nominee who have gotten in trouble. Lani Guinier's nomination was pulled by President Clinton, ironically because he said he didn't understand what her views were on civil rights. And when he learned them, he decided that she was unacceptable. But not matter how -- but when you go back in history, you see, almost always, it's something else used as the club.

Ted Sorenson was withdrawn as Jimmy Carter's CIA director. A lot of Republicans didn't like the fact that he was a liberal. They used the fact that he had used papers in writing his book about Kennedy that he wasn't supposed to have. So to find a nominee like -- in the case of John Ashcroft, for instance, if the opposition to Ashcroft is going to be that his views are outside the mainstream, that -- I've never seen a case where that's worked in the last half-century.

I believe that, frankly, is more of a marker. It's saying to President Bush: Don't you dare nominate Ashcroft to the Supreme Court, because when it comes to lifetime court nominations, the Senate is much tougher on nominees than it is on Cabinet members.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Jeff Greenfield.


SHAW: See you later.

And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come:


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an image of Florida that will be long remembered.


SHAW: Gary Tuchman on fighting Florida's post-election image problem with ballot reform. Plus...


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a curious job, the vice presidency, and now it is Dick Cheney's turn.


SHAW: Garrick Utley on the evolving status of the nation's number-two job. And later, sentencing for a former Louisiana governor: the latest on the fate of Edwin Edwards.


WOODRUFF: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

American Airlines is in talks to buy financially troubled Trans World Airlines. If the deal goes through, it would mean the end of the nation's oldest continuous airline. Among the details: American would acquire TWA this week after TWA files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That move could pave the way for antitrust approval of United Airlines' pending takeover of US Airways. Also, the deal reportedly involves American buying a 49 percent stake in DC Air, a new carrier.

SHAW: Just before a trial was to start, Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone settled a case with a Texas woman who was paralyzed in a Ford Explorer rollover. The lawsuit filed by Donna Bailey was one of about 200 suits against Firestone and Ford involving tire-related crashes. It would've been the first to go to court. The settlement is said to involve a huge sum of money, disclosure of facts, and apologies from Ford and Firestone.

Texas prison authorities say security lapses appear to have paved the road to freedom for the seven dangerous convicts who escaped last month. After scores of tips and alleged sightings, officials say they believe these convicts remain in or near Dallas-Fort Worth, not far from the prison they fled with an arsenal of weapons.

WOODRUFF: U.S. envoy Dennis Ross travels to the Middle East tomorrow in what may be President Clinton's last chance to broker peace before he leaves office. Meantime, in Jerusalem, tens of thousands of Israelis rallied outside the old city against Mr. Clinton's peace plan.

Under the proposal, Palestinians would gain control over a key shrine. Israel would accept a Palestinian state in 95 percent of the West Bank, and all of Gaza.

China's government says newly-released papers on the 1989 Tiananmen square crack-down are fake. The papers vividly describe how Chinese leaders split over crushing the pro-democracy protest. Hundreds of demonstrators were killed. The papers were reportedly smuggled out of China by a disaffected civil servant and were published in the United States over the weekend.


SHAW: Now,to the Sunshine State. Florida is reexamining its voting system, after playing that key role in one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history. A state task force is considering such issues as hanging chads, recount standards, and, who should pay for any changes to its system?

CNN's Gary Tuchman has details.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's an image of Florida that will be long remembered. That's why many people in this room say they now must be leaders in election reform.

PAM IORIO, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SUPERVISOR: The greatest lesson from November the 7th is that we can and we must do better. Our voters deserve the best, and our leaders have an obligation to provide the best.

TUCHMAN: 21 state leaders -- 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and one nonpartisan member -- have been given responsibility to come up with proposals to improve the technology, standards and procedures for Florida's voting system. It was the president-elect's brother who ordered the creation of this commission, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush opened the two-day forum.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: It seems to me that the main mission here ought to be to bring clarity, to bring clarity where the after -- the aftermath of this election, there was clearly confusion. We should bring clarity to the voting methods in this state. Every voter needs to know when they go to vote that their vote is going to count.

TUCHMAN: The first proposal on the table: get rid of all punch- card ballot machines, used in 24 of Florida's 67 counties.

IORIO: The voting system used by almost every major urban county in the state was based on 1970s technology, and that led to a large number of errors made by voters on election day that effectively negated thousands of votes.

TUCHMAN: This election supervisor says all Florida counties should use so-called "optical scanners." They're currently used by 41 counties. It would cost at least $25 million to make the switch.

(on camera): Ultimately, many here want Florida to switch to ATM-style machines. With these machines, you simply press the screen for the candidates of your choice. For example, for president, I'll vote for Thomas Jefferson; commissioner of American literature, John Steinbeck; minister of transportation, Amelia Earhart; poet-laureate T.S. Elliot; minister of comic relief, Bob Hope. But if I wanted to cancel that vote, I'd press it again, have a blank screen, and then I'd press Lucille Ball.

(voice-over): This task force will issue recommendations by March 1st, but it can't make its proposals law. That will be up to the state's legislature. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: This commission that consists of state legislators, county legislators, election supervisors and others will be back for one more day in this room of testimony tomorrow. And it could be a very lively day, because public participation will be invited, and there still are a lot of angry voters here in the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, this won't be the only election discussion here in Tallahassee this week. On Thursday and Friday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will meet to talk about allegations that some African- Americans were denied their rights when they went to polling places. So Election Day is over. But talk about the election certainly is not -- Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: And Gary, still lots of questions, obviously. What is -- how likely is the Florida legislature to adopt the recommendations of this task force?

TUCHMAN: Well, this is a very high profile task force, endorsed by the governor of the state. So it would be very unusual for the legislature to turn it down, but keep in mind, it would cost tens of millions of dollars -- whatever these proposals are, and this Republican-dominated legislature has to be sensitive to spending so much taxpayer money.

SHAW: Gary Tuchman -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And for more on all this, we're now joined by David Cardwell, a former Florida state elections director; someone who was a familiar face on CNN during the recount period. David joins us from Tallahassee. How are you?


WOODRUFF: Good to see you again, David. First of all, what primarily is this task force going to focus on?

CARDWELL: Well, they're going to focus on, initially, identifying those particular problems that came up during the presidential election this year, where they can recommend to the legislature some immediate fixes. They also have the question of the voting equipment; is there a need to upgrade the equipment and replace equipment, particularly the punch card machines?

They've then got some bigger election issues they're going to look at, but they really don't have time to address those. Today they were sort of grappling with, what can we accomplish in the two months that we have?

So I think you're going to see them do some things they can do in the short term and then push off the long term for those things that could be done by the legislature later or by some other group.

WOODRUFF: Well, what falls into the category of what can be done in the short term? I mean, for example, can they move to these optical scanners? Is there the money available to do that statewide?

CARDWELL: Right; I think they're going to make some sort of recommendation; as far as the equipment is concerned, they will probably recommend that the punch-card ballots be phased out and that the optical scanners be brought in. Then it's a question of appropriating the money.

The other short-term things they can do -- if you recall, during the election, we recognized, as we went through the process, that there were some deadlines that were in the election code that just really started colliding with one another. The issue of certification, the issue of when you do a protest, when you do a manual recount; they can address those and make recommendations to the legislature that could be enacted this spring.

WOODRUFF: Is there likely to be consensus, David, on something like that?

CARDWELL: Well, you can always hope for that; but this is a fairly large group: 21 people, 10 Republicans; 10 Democrats and one nonpartisan.

Today's discussion was very civil. There were not a whole lot of partisan positioning. I think they all realized that this was something very important for the state, to get these problems corrected. But, of course, they didn't have to take any votes today. It remains to be seen, as they get closer to their deadline to report to the legislature, as to whether they will be able to, in fact, reach consensus or whether they'll start splitting down party lines.

WOODRUFF: And what about the charges, the allegations from some African American groups that they, in particular, suffered because of voting equipment or other circumstances that existed in their precincts?

CARDWELL: Well, some of those issues were raised today, particularly by Senator Daryl Jones from Miami, and also by state representative Chris Smith in which they did raise some questions about the voting equipment and whether there may have been particular problems in certain predominantly African American precincts.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission will be holding hearings here in Tallahassee later this week on some of those allegations. And the legislative committees have also said they will look at it.

Right now, this is -- those types of complaints, while not directly within the purview of this task force, are something that could be looked at in the overall context of the election administration and the equipment that's used and the procedures that are followed.

WOODRUFF: And again on the money, David. Any -- no question in your mind that the money's's going to be there to upgrade everything statewide?

CARDWELL: It's always going to be an issue about money. There were some estimates today that could cost as much as $45 million to upgrade the equipment in those counties that now use punch card machines.

This is also going to be a difficult budget year in Florida. There was a projection shortfall in terms of money for senior citizens and for children in the Medicaid program. It's going to be a tight budget year. There are also some proposals the legislature wants to advance on some tax cuts.

So the money for the voting equipment, it's going to be right in there with some other priorities and it may also raise issues of what about other counties that have already spent money upgrading their equipment, but they've used county funds? And then these counties that haven't upgraded suddenly get state money to use it.

So there will probably be a battle in the legislative over the money.

WOODRUFF: Last but not least; quick question: any update on what's going on with the recount by the news media and other organizations down in south Florida?

CARDWELL: Those recounts of the ballots are proceeding on a, I won't call it a leisurely pace, but compared to what we were going through in November and December it looks that way. They're still proceeding with a few counties at a time, and it remains to be seen what finally comes out of those recounts. There have been some done in some counties that indicated some change in votes, others that haven't. But it's still going to take several weeks for those to be completed.

WOODRUFF: All right; David Cardwell, thanks very much. And again, good to see you.

CARDWELL: Great to be with you.


Just ahead: Will New Hampshire's controversial state lawmaker resign? The latest from that state's capitol.

Plus: closing a legal chapter for former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.


SHAW: A New Hampshire who has advocated killing police officers offered to resign this afternoon because of controversy over his views. Tom Alciere has posted anti-police views on Internet sites, although he did not express those views during his campaign last year. He says he will step down under one condition: He wants his legislative colleagues to sponsor his proposals.


TOM ALCIERE, NEW HAMPSHIRE ASSEMBLYMAN: If a sufficient number of my fellow representatives go on the record pledging that they shall perform these simple parliamentary roles, then I will happily give up my fancy new license plates -- mission accomplished.

It must be understood that, by pledging to perform these roles, the representative does not pledge to vote for the bills. It must be understood further that, as a legal resident of Hillsboro District 29, I reserve the right to be a candidate in the special election that will be held to fill the vacated seat.


SHAW: Now, New Hampshire's House Democratic leader called the condition, quote, "a deal with the devil." New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen says Alciere should resign unconditionally.

WOODRUFF: In Louisiana, former Governor Edwin Edwards was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and $250,000 worth of fines for racketeering and extortion. Edwards, a longtime figure in Louisiana politics, was convicted of 17 counts of racketeering, extortion, fraud and conspiracy relating to the licensing of riverboat casinos.

After the sentencing, Edwards criticized the actions of the prosecutor and said he would appeal.


EDWIN EDWARDS, FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR: This is not over with; it's been going on for a long period of time. As they say in the opera, the fat lady has not yet sung.


WOODRUFF: There will be a hearing to determine whether Edwards will remain free during his appeal.

Now our Bruce Morton takes a look back at Edwards' colorful past. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Campaigning in Cajun French, campaigning in English, he was one of a kind. And a reputation as a womanizer? Why not?

EDWARDS: All right, darling, come on here. Don't you tell your boyfriend about this, now. Merci beaucoup.

MORTON: He was a populist; like the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), government did things for folks.

EDWARDS: Who paved the parking lot at the football stadium? Who's four-laning the highway to Abbeville?

MORTON: But he was Cajun, too. Let the good times roll: women, gambling. "The only way I can lose," he said more than once, "is if they catch me with a dead girl or a live boy."

He mostly won.

Hear him on the increased role women played in his state's politics:

EDWARDS: This new commitment we have to the involvement of women in the political process. Certainly they said it very well: The motto from here on out is "Up with skirts and down with pants."

MORTON: After he won in 1983, his third term, he took hundreds of lobbyists and backers on a partying and gambling trip to Paris and Monte Carlo. Price: $10,000 a head.

They knew about the women, the gambling. He never lied about it. Why did they keep electing him? Well, one minister said, he doesn't drink or smoke.

EDWARDS: I don't have any skeletons in my closet. They're all out front. My closets have been raided so many time that there's nothing new, different, bad or worse that can be said about me.

MORTON: And Louisiana is a state where politics is supposed to be fun. Kind of like a Mardi Gras, only with more money. And at the end of the party, you vote.

He last ran in 1991 against former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke.

EDWARDS: I hope that, after they take a look at us, some of them may have to hold their nose, but they may determine that I'm the best choice.

DAVID DUKE (R), LOUISIANA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: For business to vote for you, they'd have to hold their nose, close their eyes and cover their ears. And business -- you have been opposed...

EDWARDS: As opposed to you, that have to get out from under the sheets? But nevertheless... DUKE: There you go.

EDWARDS: ... they have to make a decision.

MORTON: He won. A bumper stick that year read: "Vote for the crook, it's important."

EDWARDS: If you get lucky, then you've got to ride the tide. If you get unlucky, then the smart thing to do is retreat and wait for another time.

He is not lucky now, and another tide may not come, but he leaves many memories.


QUESTION: Who was the greatest politician you've see in Louisiana during your lifetime?

EDWARDS: My lifetime, it would have to be every time I shave and look in the mirror I see him.


MORTON: He's probably right about that.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And coming up: a look at the vice presidency and how the job has changed with the times.


WOODRUFF: Now another look at our new poll and the question, who will make more of the important decisions in the new administration? Fifty-five percent said President-elect George W. Bush, while 30 percent said Vice President-elect Dick Cheney.

The role of the vice president is one with a strange history. The job and how someone gets it has changed over the years.

CNN's Garrick Utley has the story.


UTLEY (voice-over): It is a moment that grips the nation: a president is dead, the vice president takes the oath. Will he be up to the job? That's the question that faced nine vice presidents who have become the chief executive through death or resignation.

(on camera): It's a curious job, the vice presidency. Originally, it was a sort of consolation prize: The job went to the presidential candidate with the second-highest number of electoral votes. And vice presidents quickly learned what their place would be. (voice-over): From John Adams, who served under George Washington, it would be in the long shadow of their president. There have been more vice presidents, 45, than presidents. Forgotten faces and names.

Who remembers Hannibal Hamlin, who was Abraham Lincoln's first- term vice president? And Thomas Marshall, who served and suffered for eight years under Woodrow Wilson; Marshall described the vice president's office as "a monkey cage, except that visitors do not offer me any peanuts."

And something of a political curse has hung over those anxious to move on to the top job. Only four times has a serving vice president who ran for president been elected: Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren and George Bush.

(on camera): So how important is a vice president? Well, for periods totaling more than 37 years, the nation didn't have one. That's because when a president died and the vice president took over, there was no provision for naming a successor.

(voice-over): It wasn't until 1967 that the Constitution was amended so that a president could, with the consent of Congress, pick his No. 2 when the position fell vacant. And it was not until 1977 that the vice president was provided with an official residence.

In recent years, presidents have shown greater willingness to allow their elected deputy to take on more responsibilities. But, as Al Gore learned painfully, even that is not a ticket to the Oval Office.

And now it is Dick Cheney's turn. In running the Bush transition team and screening Cabinet and other high-level appointments, Cheney may be the most influential vice president to ever take office. Still, he will be the vice president and, like his predecessors, on January 20, he will not be the focus of our attention.

If that is the fate of vice presidents, history has shown one advantage in it. Unlike presidents, no one has ever bothered to impeach or assassinate a vice president.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: And stay with us. When INSIDE POLITICS continues at the top of the hour...

SHAW: We'll have a fresh report on new problems for Bush's labor secretary nominee and for his would-be Pentagon chief, as well.

Plus: We'll take a closer look at the international challenges awaiting the next commander in chief.

And Ron Brownstein will be along, offering his take on Bush's legislative priorities. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: A new headache for the bush transition: is the nomination of Linda Chavez as labor secretary in serious trouble?

WOODRUFF: After ringing in his final year as New York mayor, how is Rudy Giuliani trying to burnish his legacy? And, what may he do next?

SHAW: Plus: the ironic moments that seem to keep on coming in Al Gore's vice presidential farewell.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. George W. Bush is known for putting a premium on loyalty. And today, he is standing firmly behind his nominee for labor secretary, Linda Chavez. But some political observers are wondering if he will he continue to do so, if the controversy mounts over the shelter and money Chavez gave to an illegal immigrant.

CNN's Major Garrett has more, now, on that flap, and on other questions about Bush's Cabinet choices.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Incoming presidents hope it never comes to this.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly believe that when the Senate gives her a fair hearing, they'll vote for her.

GARRETT: Mr. Bush finds himself on the defensive about Linda Chavez, his nominee for labor secretary. That's because at least one part of her story about an illegal immigrant house guest is in question. Chavez told Bush officials the Guatemalan woman, named Marta Mercado, never told her she was in the United States illegally.

But Mercado says she did know. The FBI has interviewed both women, and now, Bush fact-checkers are doubling back.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: She has acknowledged that she knew the legal status of the person. The exact date of that has not been determined -- at which point she actually did know that information and that is all part of the on-going process.

GARRETT: Organized labor says it has all the facts it needs.

GERALD MCENTEE, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: I believe that by the end of tomorrow, Tuesday, that it will be the official position of the AFL- CIO to oppose this nomination.

GARRETT: And then there's Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush nominee for defense secretary. He can be overheard in a 1971 Oval Office conversation with President Nixon acknowledging disparaging comments about black Americans.

Rumsfeld, 39 at the time, was a counselor to Nixon and the two were talking about Rumsfeld's next administration job.


GARRETT: Of all the Bush nominees, Chavez is in the most immediate danger. Bush aides were aggravated by the conflicts in her story, and they know opponents will take every advantage of the time they are forced to spend sorting all the details out -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Major, what are the people around Bush saying today about the prospects for John Ashcroft to be attorney general? What does it look like now?

GARRETT: Actually, they're feeling very good about it. You know, the first category that they were really looking at, as far as confirming John Ashcroft, was, would there be any problems with the core Republicans in the Senate. Of course, the Senate will be evenly divided 50/50 and the Bush team was hardened when Susan Collins, Senator from Maine, and a swing state, and a moderate Republican, came out in favor of John Ashcroft.

They also believe many other Democrats, once they look and hear all of his testimony, and Bush aides say that John Ashcroft will make abundantly clear that he intends to enforce all the laws on the books will come out on his side when it's all said and done -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Major Garrett, thanks very much.

SHAW: And joining us now, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times."

Ron, are any of these problems with these nominees a threat to Mr. Bush's legislative priorities?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I think there are two schools of thought in the Bush camp at this point about what's going on. I think the optimistic school of thought is that the Democrats are under intense pressure from interest groups to stand up to Bush after this very close election, and what the Democrats may give the interest groups is opposition to some of these nominees, as a, sort of, the first step in a two step that would then be more cooperative on the policy proposals. You give the interest groups opposition to the nominees, and then you make deals on the policy issues.

The more pessimistic view is this is a reminder that there may be no honeymoon in this presidency after this extraordinary election. The Democrats, with a 50/50 vote in the Senate, are determined to fight Bush across the board and this really is just the first shot across the bow.

SHAW: What are the legislative priorities? BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, in talking to the Bush people, they've made very clear that they want to focus, as he did in Texas, on implementing what he ran on first. And so what you are going to see, I think, are no surprises.

He said the first bill is going to be education, tax cuts. They say they're going to push very early for the proposal to give states grants to provide prescription drugs to low income seniors. They want a supplemental appropriation to raise military pay, and they want to move forward on his initiative to bring faith-based religious charities more actively into delivering social services. So very much moving with familiar themes from the campaign rather than going into any new directions.

SHAW: Now, before I ask you about tactics, how he intends to proceed to get some of this enacted into federal law, for Bush, how crucial is credibility with his Republican base?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, he was elected much more by consolidating than expanding the Republican base. Much like Bill Clinton in '92. He didn't do what he set out to do. He didn't really win over large numbers of swing voters. He lost most of those key swing suburbs outside of the South. He won because gun owners, conservative Christians, white men, core Republicans voted for him.

And so they have a lot of, say, a lot of chits to cash with this administration. You see that in the Cabinet appointments. And I think what you have seen from Bush in terms of his policy pronouncements, since Election Day, is a great deal of reluctance to show any give; to move away from the any of the priorities of his conservative base, whether it's school vouchers, the tax cut or missile defense.

He is full speed ahead on all of those, even though in the end, they recognize they'll probably have to compromise to get it through this closely divide Congress.

SHAW: So, is that one of the key tactics? Don't yield up front but realize, down the road, you're going to have to deal?

BROWNSTEIN: That is very much, I think, Bernie, the decision they've made. In Texas it was Bush's pattern, when he initially proposed his major initiatives, he stuck very close, remarkably close to the priorities that he laid out and literally the details that he laid out on the campaign trail. But then, as he moved along, he recognized the limitations of his reach and he made deals substantive deals with Democrats to get things done.

The indications, I'm getting, from the Bush staff is that they are going to go the same way here in Washington. The initial proposals are going to be very close to what he ran on, they are not going to move away from the school vouchers and the education plan, they are not going to move away from the across-the-board tax cut. But they recognize that in this environment, in the end, they'll probably have to give some ground to get things done.

SHAW: Lastly, a very, very basic question; realistically, what do the Bush people hope to get passed in 2001?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, certainly, they want their tax cut, certainly they want their education reform, certainly they want something to raise military pay, and an initial step on prescription drugs. The more sweeping entitlement reform, whether it's social security or Medicare, they want to push down the road. But even there, it is going to be very difficult in a 50/50 Senate to move forward with the kind of partial privatization of social security or, for that matter, the re-structuring of Medicare that Bush has proposed.

SHAW: But still, it is going to be a very busy year.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely.

SHAW: Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times", thanks a lot -- Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: And as we reported earlier, the president-elect and his national security team met in Austin today with members of Congress. The subject: defense issues. Bush is preparing to take over the role of commander in chief at a time when uncertainty reigns in some global hot spots.

Our state department correspondent Andrea Koppel looks at some of the international challenges awaiting Bush.


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A resurgent Russia, an escalating drug war in Colombia, a changing relationship with North Korea. The Bush administration will have its hands full, but nowhere more so than in the Middle East, where weeks of deadly clashes between Israelis and Palestinians continue.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: No new president wants to deal with the mess in the Middle East when they're elected, and frankly, if there is no peace, there's going to be an escalation, no doubt.

KOPPEL: Already, hundreds of people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed. Elections in Israel are only weeks away, and Arab anger directed at Israel and the United States has rippled across the region. In Egypt, Jordan and other usually moderate states, massive demonstrations. While next door in Iraq, a flurry of Arab leaders arrive, a show of support for the Iraqi people, further damaging a U.S.-led campaign to keep a decade's worth of sanctions in place.

TELHAMI: Iraq is closer to normalization in the Arab world than it has ever been in the past decade, and I think that is going to be consequential for the entire American approach to the Gulf.

KOPPEL: The American approach toward Russia under the Clinton administration was already under fire. Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin's successor, is younger, tougher, less accommodating.

DIMITRI SIMES, THE NIXON CENTER: If we do not want them to use opportunities to reduce American influence abroad, we should have both an appreciation in Moscow that they cannot cross the U.S. with impunity, but also a sense that we're prepared to work with them.

KOPPEL: U.S. money is doing most of the talking in Latin America. The U.S. committed to giving the Colombian government more than a billion dollars to fight drug traffickers. But this former commander of all U.S. forces in Latin America says that's short- sighted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need a regional strategy, not just one- country strategy.

KOPPEL (on camera): Another strategy still unclear: how the Bush administration will deal with North Korea and a potential missile deal. Plans for a Clinton visit there were recently scrapped. The outgoing president deciding instead to use his remaining days in office to try to close a deal in the Middle East.

Andrea Koppel, CNN, at the State Department.


WOODRUFF: And coming up after the break, what New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani hopes to accomplish in his final year in office and a look at his possible future.


SHAW: New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivering his final state of the city address. He's announced new initiatives, ranging from housing subsidies to weekend English classes for non-native speaking students.

Now, the tone of the speech has been both proud and playful, with his characteristic self-congratulation after seven years in office. Overall, Mayor Giuliani says the state of New York City is strong.

We're now joined by someone very familiar with the mayor, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page writer Michael Aronson of "The New York Daily News."

Michael, in this final year, what is Giuliani up to?

MICHAEL ARONSON, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, this speech, actually still going on, is going to lay out his plan for his final year in office. Because of term limits, after this year he's out, after eight years, and it's like a valedictory and also setting out the course for these last 12 months.

What he wants to do, I think, is get down what his accomplishments were, in crime-fighting and making the city safer and improving investment, but then also add areas, like education and housing.

SHAW: Now, based on what he's laying out, in your judgment, will what he tries to do in the last year of his term have any influence on the Democratic field that hopes to succeed him?

ARONSON: Well, yes. I mean, his -- he's already impacted the four main Democrats who are seeking to replace him this year. All four of them are saying they plan to continue his policies on crime, his other low-tax, pro-business policies, which really help the city. But they're saying, I'll do, I'll do Rudy plus. I'll handle relations with the minorities better. I'll handle school situations better. I'll do housing better. But no one's criticizing him on some of his strongest points. They're saying I'll add to them.

And the other factor is there's a Republican potentially out there, a guy named Mike Bloomberg, the media billionaire, who may also run in the GOP.

SHAW: Do you suppose for Giuliani, after City Hall, is there life, political life?

ARONSON: Well, by historical measure, I'd have to say it would be pretty tough. Not in this century, or not since the 1800s has a New York City mayor gone onto higher office. Obviously, Rudy was planning to run for U.S. Senate before prostate cancer and marital problems sidelined him. Obviously, Hillary won that race in the end.

But there was speculation he may go to the Bush administration. That doesn't look like it's going to happen. There was also some speculation that he may run for governor in 2002. But that's quite a ways politically speaking.

SHAW: So you don't think there's anything that could pull him down here to Washington?

ARONSON: Well, there was talk, well, is he going to be attorney general or this? But he already was the No. 3 man in the Justice Department, so I can't see him going back to something unless it was top-rank. And as of today, George Bush has filled out has Cabinet. I can't imagine him adding something for Rudy.

And the other problem is Rudy Giuliani is a very liberal Republican. He's very strong on gun control, on gay rights, on abortion rights, and doesn't fit with a large part of Bush's constituency, which is much more conservative.

So I think he's going to finish this year. He wants to get some things done on housing and education, look around. If Pataki doesn't run, I think Giuliani has a good chance. Otherwise, he can take four years off and run again for New York City mayor. It's not like the presidency. As long as you take four years off between -- between runs, you're OK.

SHAW: Well, you mentioned the statehouse, and I was going to ask you, is Governor Pataki's job completely off the table?

ARONSON: That's up to Governor Pataki on the Republican side. It doesn't seem likely that Rudy would -- Giuliani would challenge him in a Republican primary, because Pataki is very strong there. But Pataki has not -- he's given indications he's going to run again, but there are some Democrats -- Andrew Cuomo, the former HUD secretary, current HUD secretary, about to be former, and Carl McCall, the popular state comptroller -- who are going to run for him as Democrats.

I don't think Giuliani will force a challenge to Pataki in a Republican primary, but if Pataki gets his own job in a Bush administration or walks away, then it's an open -- an open chance for Giuliani.

But a lot can happen in year. I mean, it was only six months or thereabouts that Giuliani was still running for the Senate when he pulled a huge bombshell and dropped out. So things are still pretty volatile.

I think this year he's going to try and have influence even though the stage will largely be ceded to the Democrats, and maybe anyone else, seeking to replace him at City Hall next year.

SHAW: Michael...


SHAW: Yes, go ahead. Sorry.

ARONSON: No. It's in New York, because of the calendar, as soon as the election ends, another one starts. So we've just finished the presidential, then the mayor's race, and after that it's the governor's race, and we start all over again.

SHAW: Michael Aronson of "The New York Daily News" on Mayor Rudy Giuliani, thanks very, very much.

ARONSON: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: Quite welcome.

Up next, the last hurrah for Al Gore as he counts down his final days as vice president of the United States.


WOODRUFF: A development late this afternoon in the terrorist attack against the USS Navy's USS -- U.S. Navy's USS Cole. For the very latest, let's go to the Pentagon and CNN's Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, CNN has learned that the Navy's top admiral has decided that there should be no punishment for the commander of the USS Cole, who failed to implement some of the security procedures he was supposed to the day the Cole was bombed in Yemen October 12th.

According to a senior Defense official, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark will uphold the recommendation of another four-star admiral who reviewed the Navy's investigation against -- of the actions of the captain and the crew. According to Pentagon sources, Admiral Robert Natter, the commander of the U.S. Atlantic fleet in Norfolk, concluded that the actions of the Cole skipper -- Commander Kirk Lippold -- while not perfect fell within the acceptable range expected from a U.S. Navy ship commander, and that additionally even if the security plan had been implemented perfectly, it likely would have done little to mitigate or to prevent the attack.

That would appear to go against some of the initial findings of the Navy investigator, who concluded that some of these steps were important and might have made a difference. But the Navy -- the top Navy admiral has made that decision, no punishment for the commander of the Cole, a decision that is scheduled to be released later this week.

Tomorrow, the Pentagon will also release its review of security in the region, a broader look, and it's expected to raise questions about the accountability of more senior officers, including the commander of the U.S. Central Command and the commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, whether or not they took all the appropriate actions they could take -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: On Saturday, Vice President Al Gore carried out one of his official duties as president of the Senate, presiding over the counting of the electoral college votes. Now, when it came time to tally those Florida votes, members of the Congressional Black Caucus came forward one after the other to object. It fell to Gore to rule them out of order.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For what purpose does the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Jackson, arise?

REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: Mr. President, I have an objection.

GORE: Is the gentleman's objection in writing and signed by member of the House of Representatives and a senator?

JACKSON: Yes, sir, I have signed it.

GORE: Is the objection signed by a senator?

JACKSON: Mr. President, I am objecting to the -- to the idea that votes in Florida were not counted.


And it's a sad day in America, Mr. President, when we can't find a senator to sign these objections...

GORE: The gentleman will suspend. (CROSSTALK)

The gentleman will...

JACKSON: I object.


GORE: The gentleman will suspend. The chair thanks the gentleman from Illinois, but...



On the basis previously stated...


... the objection is -- the objection is not in order.


SHAW: Well, that extraordinary moment was followed by another, Al Gore declaring George W. Bush the winner.


GORE: George W. Bush of the state of Texas has received for president of the United States 271 votes. Al Gore of the state of Tennessee has received 266 votes. This announcement of the state of the vote by the president of the Senate shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January 2001, and shall be entered together with a list of the votes on the journals of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

May God bless our new president and our new vice president, and may God bless the United States of America.



WOODRUFF: Only in America.

SHAW: Only in America, and I can't wait for our inaugural day coverage, which starts very early that Saturday morning.

WOODRUFF: Twelve days from now, January the 20th. We'll both be there.

SHAW: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's, AOL keyword CNN.

SHAW: And these programming notes: Former Bush labor Secretary Lynn Martin and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich will discuss the Linda Chavez nomination tonight on CROSSFIRE. That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

And former President Jimmy Carter will be the guest tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. The "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" is next.



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