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Inside Politics

Senators Lott and McCain Reach Agreement on Campaign-Finance Reform

Aired January 26, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A new win for John McCain: a deal on Senate debate of campaign-finance reform. How does that fit into this first busy week for President Bush? We'll review his performance so far.



SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This goes on and on and on in terms of the whole issue of race.


WOODRUFF: Senator Edward Kennedy talks to us at length about his problems with John Ashcroft and much more.



BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, you had a small party last week. But this one is bigger.


WOODRUFF: Bruce Morton helps inaugurate our Super Bowl coverage.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off today.

Senator John McCain said he never wanted to threaten President Bush's agenda. And today, the Republican leadership in the Senate tried to make sure he would not. In the process, McCain won important new ground in his battle for campaign-finance reform.

We get details now from our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bull in the Republican china shop has a deal. The Senate will move forward with a full debate on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill in March. Republicans are pleased.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: It's a win-win for all concerned: for the president because we'll keep our emphasis on the issues he wants to talk about; for Senator McCain because his issue will be considered in the early part of the year; and for the American people because all of these major issues that we have talked about, we will be able to move toward them in an orderly way and get results.

KARL: In a deal hammered out between Senate leader Trent Lott and Senator John McCain, the Senate will start two weeks of debate on campaign-finance reform on either March 19 or March 26. Lott has also promised not to filibuster, the tactic used by Republicans in the past to kill McCain's bill.

LOTT: We're going to open the door and say: OK, here's this issue. Let's go. Everybody will -- it's a jump ball. Let the play begin.

KARL: The deal comes as McCain prepares to launch a national campaign targeting undecided senators, many of them fellow Republicans. His first town-hall meeting on the issue is in Arkansas on Monday, home of Republican Tim Hutchinson, who is up for reelection. But in a preemptive strike at McCain, Hutchinson, balking at what he considers McCain's strong-arm tactics, announced Friday he opposes McCain's bill, favoring a different, more limited one.

SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: As even Senator McCain candidly admits, his bill is not a perfect bill. And I believe that the oath that I took to uphold the United States Constitution precludes me from supporting the bill in its current form because it impinges upon our First Amendment freedoms.

KARL: The McCain-Feingold bill would ban so-called soft money: the unlimited and unregulated contributions. It would also place restrictions on issue ads by corporations and unions run 60 days before an election, and force greater disclosure of contributions.


KARL: Now, today's agreement is only an agreement in principle on scheduling. The Republican leadership in the Senate still remains very much opposed to John McCain's campaign-finance reform bill. McCain faces certainly big hurtles in getting it passed in both the House and the Senate. And even if he manages to pull that off, he has one more very big hurtle. And that's down the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue where the new president, President Bush, is opposed to John McCain's version of campaign-finance reform and could be expected to veto a bill -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan, given what's going on, given the opposition, why did the Republican leader, Senator Lott, and others agree to this today? KARL: Well, Lott certainly didn't want to pick a fight with John McCain right now. McCain was ready to go to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday. And McCain, you have heard him talk about tying the Senate up in knots, doing everything he can, using his powers as a senator, to tie up consideration of George W. Bush's legislative agenda. Trent Lott did not want to see that happen.

And Trent Lott got something out of this deal. This is not simply a victory for John McCain. What happens here is that the first thing the Senate will consider is not campaign-finance reform, as John McCain wanted, but George W. Bush's education proposal. McCain gets early consideration. But he doesn't get to go first. So it's very much a compromise that also gives Lott something to take home as well.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl at the Capitol, thanks a lot.

Well, President Bush might see the McCain-Lott agreement as a fitting cap to his first week in the White House. Mr. Bush has spent much of his time since his inauguration promoting political unity and trying to avoid any distractions from his message.

CNN's Major Garrett has more on week number one.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here we are in week one. I hope you're as enthused about your job as I am about mine.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a cynical city, the president delivered this line to one of the few Washington audiences that did not roll its eyes in disbelief: House freshmen invited for an East Room lunch. Some of the audiences have been a bit more jaded. Still, there's been praise.

KENNEDY: I just commend the president for putting education first on the national agenda. He did so in the course of the campaign. And now he's doing so in Congress. And I think he'll get a very positive response.

GARRETT: The president built his first week around education. Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Bush stayed on message.

JAMES THURBER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: The first week for the Clinton White House was a disaster. He didn't control the message that he wanted to control in terms of public policy. They got started on the question of gays in the military by mistake.

GARRETT: Abortion could have tripped up the Bush team. But the White House sent a surrogate to the march against abortion rights and quietly rescinded taxpayer support for overseas abortion services and counseling, leaving these dominant pictures: ceremonies for Cabinet luminaries and exhaustive outreach to members of Congress.

THURBER: Honeymoons are created by those that are partners. And he has certainly reached out to make this a pleasant honeymoon, a pleasant relationship with Congress, both on the far right and the far left.

GARRETT: But reaching out has its limits, as Maryland's Democratic governor made plain in this assessment of Mr. Bush's first week.

GOV. PARRIS GLENDENING (D), MARYLAND: It's far too early in the semester to give a grade. But he is attending class and he's participating fully.


(END VIDEOTAPE) GARRETT: That biting assessment may be a taste of things to come. The Bush charm offensive has bought him some time on Capitol Hill. But White House aides concede there will be bumps ahead as Congress works over the president's tax and education and plans.

WOODRUFF: Major, let me ask you about something else that has been getting some attention this week. And that are these so-called pranks committed by the outgoing White House staff. What's the latest on -- the Clinton White House staff -- what's the latest on that?

GARRETT: Well, Judy, this has been a slippery story all week: very few people going on the record, very little bit of hard information, actually provable accounts of the so-called vandalism and pranks. We do have somebody on the record now, though: Mark Lindsay, who was head of the administration for the Clinton White House.

He tells CNN that, on Inauguration Day, about 12:30, he took a tour of the West Wing and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. These are the two locations where the reports of vandalism have been most pronounced. He says emphatically there was no vandalism. He saw none of the things that have been described this week. And he rejects any allegation that the Clinton -- outgoing Clinton staffers perpetrated the kind of vandalism that has been so far reported -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: But, Major, is that the end of this?

GARRETT: Hardly. Not in this town, I don't think. But the White House has at least tried to downplay the story, saying that they are cataloging in a very informal way the reports of vandalism. But cataloging for the press, cataloging for the public? Certainly not.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said today there is one person attached to this White House who is cataloging all these things in his head, but will not report to the public, will not report to the press about it. For his own part, the president said: Oh, there might have been a cartoon on the wall. It's OK. It's time to look forward.

The story goes on. But at least from the Clinton side: sharp denunciation of the allegations and a sharp rebuke to those who say the Clintons left this place vandalized -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Major Garrett at the White House.

And I should add that Mark Lindsay who is -- as Major just mentioned -- Mark Lindsay the head of administration for the Clinton White House, he will be a guest tonight at 8:30 here at CNN on "THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN."

Now we turn to the biggest headache of the fledgling Bush administration: the controversy over John Ashcroft's nomination to be attorney general.

Senator Edward Kennedy may be number one obstacle to Ashcroft's confirmation. I sat down with Kennedy on Capitol Hill today and asked him whether he is willing to concede, as many Democrats now are, that in the end Ashcroft will be confirmed.


KENNEDY: We still have an uphill battle, but what I'm impressed by is the fact that, as our colleagues are spending more and more time going through this record, I find that we're increasing support.

We were caught with the nomination just at the Christmastime. We've gone through a period of inauguration where there is a great sense of goodwill in terms of a new president taking over. We've had a series of nominations. Most of us, whether it's been Rumsfeld -- I'm on the Armed Services Committee -- Tommy Thompson and Elaine Chao, Human Resource Committee. We've had Ashcroft in the Judiciary. And so members have been spread out, and they're only focusing on this issue now.

I've had the chance to spend time talking with them, and we're, I think, increasing our strength. It's still...

WOODRUFF: Against him.

KENNEDY: Against him.

WOODRUFF: Your Democratic leader in the Senate, Senator Daschle, is saying that he thinks it would be a mistake to filibuster this nomination on the floor. Is he just wrong about that?

KENNEDY: Well, he has a viewpoint, and we'll continue to keep in conversations with him. My sense is that the nominee, Senator Ashcroft, has not demonstrated the kind of commitment in terms of civil rights and with regard to the women's rights, as well as, sort of, gun rights and his position in terms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that would justify him to being the attorney general.

So I have very strong, strong reservations and intend to spell that out in some detail, either at the time of the Judiciary Committee and on the floor.

But what actions that we'll take, how that -- it'll be reflected, I think, is still out there. I don't think that he should be attorney general, and I think the best way to do that is to have a vote in the Senate. If you get 41 senators, if you could, that would indicate that that should not be the case.

We haven't got those votes at this time, but I'd say that I'm encouraged by the process that we've made over the last week.

WOODRUFF: It sounds like you may be backing off on the idea of a filibuster.

KENNEDY: As I mentioned at the time, I don't rule it out, I don't rule it in. It's the best way to resolve this, I think. But we have to make a judgment at the very end, make a call on it. But I, myself, think that that is the best. I continue to believe that it's the best way. WOODRUFF: Have you spoken with President Bush about Ashcroft?


WOODRUFF: I want to ask you another question in connection with that. How is it that you can support Tommy Thompson to be health and human services secretary at the same time you oppose Ashcroft -- and I realize there are more issues involved with John Ashcroft -- but support Tommy Thompson, who has equally strong views against a woman's right to choose, something that you feel very strongly about, and yet you support Tommy Thompson?

KENNEDY: I'm not a believer in a litmus test for any of the Cabinet positions or in terms of the judges. And I don't use the litmus test on Tommy Thompson, nor would I have used it as a single issue just on John Ashcroft.

But it's the cumulative factor on Mr. Ashcroft. The fact is that he led the state, when he was attorney general and as governor, of denying the children the quality education which the courts said that they were entitled to over a 16-year period. And that issue was quickly resolved when we had a new governor.

He was against voter registration. He appeared at the Bob Jones. He fought against Bill Lann Lee and Dr. Satcher and Dr. Foster and Ronnie White. I mean the list goes on and on and on on terms of the whole issue of race.


WOODRUFF: Despite his opposition to Ashcroft, Senator Kennedy has appeared in public with President Bush several times this week. We'll ask him why and about a new movie when we return.

Plus, another issue on the Bush agenda, health care, and the political divide over how to approach reform.


WOODRUFF: Now, more of our interview with Senator Edward Kennedy. During the last campaign, Kennedy had some tough words for George W. Bush, saying he had a record of, quote, "indifference and ineptitude in Texas," and among other things he cared more about the powerful than the people. But now, the two seem to have forged a collegial working relationship, especially on a subject dear to both, education. In our conversation, I asked Kennedy about this apparent change of heart.


KENNEDY: Well, I'm interested in making progress on the issues that I talked about and that I think the Democratic Party, historically, has been most involved in. That is, first of all, in terms of education, to try and strengthen our education system.

President Bush has a much different attitude than most Republicans, or any Republican president. It wasn't long ago that Republicans were for abolishing the Department of Education and rescinding the education funding. This president has a different position. And I want to see what we can achieve.

But my relationship has been very brief one, but it's been positive to date. What I'm interested in now is seeing -- the election now is really behind us, and sometimes difficult always to be able to accept it, but it is behind us. And I think what we have to do is see how we can make progress now. I think that's the best way to be effective in the Senate.

WOODRUFF: And he's using the desk that your brother, John Kennedy, used as president.

KENNEDY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: Have you talked to him about that?

KENNEDY: Well, in my brief visit to the White House, we talked about it briefly. It's got, of course, a wonderful New England flare to it, because it's an old whaling ship that got caught in the ice and then made into a desk. President Kennedy found it and now it's being used. And President Bush, obviously, has New England roots, as well as Texas roots.

WOODRUFF: In the time, the little time that you've spent with him in the last, four, five, six days, what do you see there that you think could be the seeds of somebody who's able and willing to work with Democrats?

KENNEDY: Well, I found him knowledgeable about what he talked about in very considerable detail, and that was the accountability aspects of education. I found him feisty. I found him engaged. I found him knowledgeable about those items. And he indicated every willingness to work with us, and he'd, obviously, given that message to people that are responsible within the administration.

WOODRUFF: Well, one of the key points of his proposal would be to take taxpayer public funds and put them into private schools under certain circumstances. Given that, you still think you can work with him?

KENNEDY: I'm opposed to that. And I think the president understands that there are going to be aspects of his programs which there will be differences on.

But what I'm impressed by is the fact that there's a range of other items that he has strongly committed to. The federal government has limited resources that are actually targeted in education -- it's only 7 cents out of every which dollar -- but he wants it to go to the neediest children; I agree with that. There were some Republican who would just rather give it to the governors and let them make the decisions.

He wants to increase the professionalism of teachers; I'm for that. I was for well-trained teacher in every classroom in the country. He's for safety and security in the classroom; that makes sense. He's for technology and technology training and a curriculum that's going to be effective for children; I'm for that. And he's for an expanded literacy program.

WOODRUFF: So vouchers are not going to stand in the way?

KENNEDY: Quite frankly, I don't think the votes are there for the vouchers in the Congress. They weren't there in the House before and I doubt whether they're really there in the Senate now.

WOODRUFF: Last thing I want to ask you about, Senator, the movie, "Thirteen Days" about your brother, President John Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. Have you seen it? And if you have or based on what you've heard about it, do you think it's an accurate portrayal?

KENNEDY: I have seen it. Mr. Costner was kind enough to send an early edition to it. And of course, my view of it is always I think, sort of, overwhelmed by the sense of my brothers at that time. So I view this in a -- probably, in a somewhat different view.

And it's always difficult for me, personally, to see other people portray them -- the most difficultly.

But the story is an incredible story, and it stands up. And I think that, by and large, the basic dimensions of the proximity of nuclear conflict, war, were very real, and they're very accurately portrayed in that film. And I think people will learn a lot historically from it.

I think those -- having them, the two actors, talk with that Boston -- do we really talk that way?


WOODRUFF: Senator Edward Kennedy -- we talked earlier today at the Capitol. Senator Kennedy and his colleagues will eventually consider the president's legislative proposals, not only on education, but on health care.

CNN's Jonathan Aiken checks out the Bush agenda and the likely battle for bipartisan support.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The centerpiece of a Bush health agenda: a $158 billion package of Medicare reforms promising seniors a choice of health plans. States would receive $12 billion a year in block grants over the next four years to help the low-income elderly buy prescription drugs. The administration sees the grants as the first step in a two-part process of Medicare reforms.

But leaders of the president's own party see trouble.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), FINANCE CHAIRMAN: I'm telling the president right now this is a test of his ability to bring people together. And if you really want a good prescription drug program, you don't do it just as an add-on.

AIKEN: Even the president's choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services used his confirmation hearings to say the administration is flexible on the prescription drug issue.

GOV. TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: We'll be working with you to develop a comprehensive Medicare reform with a prescription drug component. I think whatever can move the fastest, this administration will be very happy about.

AIKEN: Democrats see the 50-50 split in the Senate as leverage for their own priorities.

KENNEDY: I think for most of us in the Senate think the first health issues that we're going to pass will be a patients' bill of rights; and then secondly, will be a prescription drug program. I think that that's -- those two ought to get started very, very quickly.

AIKEN: Republican leaders agree the patients' bill of rights should be a quick victory both sides can take credit for.

GRASSLEY: I think 90 percent of the patients' bill of rights has already been agreed to over the last year and a half.

AIKEN: Other issues likely to come up quickly: loosening restrictions on the re-importation of U.S. drugs from Canada and Mexico as a way to cut prescription medicine costs and expanding children's health insurance programs to include the parents of eligible children.

Democrats and Republicans each have their reasons to win quick victories on health care issues. But looking ahead to the congressional elections in 2002, GOP officials say the Bush administration will have to rack up some Ws in the wing column, and do so quickly, before the political climate changes.

Jonathan Aiken for CNN, Capitol Hill.


WOODRUFF: There's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come:


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Happy consumers, profitable utilities, abundant electric power. This is Pennsylvania, the other side of electric deregulation.


WOODRUFF: Brooks Jackson on a success story in sharp contrast to the crisis in California.

Plus, what makes a great president? Examining a common quality of presidents past.

And later: football frenzy! The Super Bowl fever even politicians can't ignore.


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

A devastating earthquake left more than 1,900 people dead in Western India today. It was one of several earthquakes reported around the world. One quake rattled northeastern Ohio last night, knocking down some chimneys. Underwater quakes also occurred off of Japan and Greece; no damage or injuries were reported. A moderate tremor shook Southern Mexico, causing minor damaged. But the hardest hit area was in Western India as that nation celebrated its Republic Day.

CNN's Satinder Bindra reports.


SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Relief workers, many working with their bare hands, are struggling to clear rubble and pull men, women and children still trapped in the debris. Residents say what's needed is more heavy equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have no help. It has been five hours, but the crane has not come. Until the crane reaches here, we will not be able to remove the rubble. At least 12 families are still trapped inside the building. I don't know if they're alive. We will only know once they're taken out.

At least 100 schoolchildren are reportedly trapped in the building that was once their school. As relief workers continue to work around the clock, they're being assisted by at least 5,000 Indian soldiers.

ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have decided meet the emergency on a war footing. The states which are affected will be given every assistance from the center. BINDRA: The densely populated city of Ahmedabad has suffered some of the most extensive damage. More than 50 high-rise building in this Western Indian city are completely flattened. Phone lines, power cables and water pipes have been damaged. Some roads appear to have split right open. Cave-ins are everywhere. The earthquake had an intensity of 7.9.

It was centered in the Western India region of Gujarat, just east of Ahmedabad. Relief supplies, doctors and portable medical units are now being flown into local airports that somehow survived major damage. A disaster control center is also being set up to coordinate relief efforts. Officials warn it's likely there will be aftershocks. They're advising residents not to stay indoors in buildings that have suffered structural damage.

(on camera): All that remains of many high-rises like this is just rubble. Relief workers knows they have a long and tiring time ahead. They will also to have to work very fast to rescue many people who are still alive.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, Ahmedabad, Western India.


WOODRUFF: In Texas, officials have quarantined more than 1,000 head of cattle until it can be determined whether the animals were fed food that is banned by rules designed to prevent so-called "mad cow" disease. A state agricultural official says that a feed company may have mixed cow meat and bone meal into feed. But officials insist that the move is a precautionary one.

In Illinois, officials say don't know what caused today's deadly interstate collision south of Chicago: Ten people in a Salvation Army van were killed after the van jumped a median along Interstate 55, near Joliet, and collided with a tractor-trailer. A woman passenger survived, but she's in critical condition. The truck driver also survived and is in good condition.

When INSIDE POLITICS continues, searching for solutions to the California power crisis, from Mexico to Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: British Prime Minister Tony Blair will have his first visit with President Bush next month. Blair and his wife will be at Camp David for February 23rd to the 24th. That visit will come just a week after Mr. Bush's visit to Mexico. Mexican President Vicente Fox, attending an international forum in Switzerland today, was asked what he expects from that upcoming meeting.


VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: First, to keep on building a friendship. We both -- we both wear cowboy boots, we both love our country, we both want a better future for our people, and we both want to solve the big problems we have in the relationship within the United States and Mexico, like migration, like drug-trafficking. We must remove those obstacles with a long-term view, and I think that we can come up with innovative, new ideas to have a solution to those problems.


WOODRUFF: President Bush is expected to raise the issue of energy imports and California's power crisis during his meeting with Fox. However, energy experts say that until more power plants are built, Mexico may not be capable of any significant assistance in the problems caused by California's power deregulation.

Our Brooks Jackson has examined the issue, and he found at least one state where power deregulation seems to be working.


JACKSON (voice-over): Happy consumers, profitable utilities, abundant electric power. This is Pennsylvania, the other side of electric deregulation.

SONNY POPOWSKY, PENNSYLVANIA STATE CONSUMER ADVOCATE: The situation here is we have safe, reliable service. We have not only enough generation; we have a surplus of generation.

JACKSON: Pennsylvania started deregulating about the same time as California, but with very different results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not seeing our companies on the verge of bankruptcy. We're not seeing rolling blackouts. We're not seeing giant price spikes. So, so far, our experience has been, I'd say, a fairly positive one for Pennsylvania consumers.

JACKSON: Tim Kearney figures he's saving $8 or $9 a month on his electric bill. Nine companies now compete to generate his electricity.

TIM KEARNEY, PHILADELPHIA CONSUMER: It is a good deal for consumers. So far, electricity deregulation has helped rate-payers in Pennsylvania get lower rates.

JACKSON: Under Pennsylvania's law, consumer rates are capped at 1996 levels. Nobody can pay more. And many pay less. More than half a million Pennsylvanians, about 1 in every 10, have switched to competitive suppliers. State officials estimate those rate reductions total up to $2.8 billion over the last four years.

For consumers like Shawn Sweet, the competition is welcome.

SHAWN SWEET, PHILADELPHIA CONSUMER: Before, you know, if I would call the electric company, like, you know, you'd be on hold for like for three hours. And now they're like this! Now, they're calling me. They want my business.

JACKSON: And unlike California, there's plenty of power. Wholesale prices even went down a little last year. Look at the difference. The average wholesale price for electricity in Pennsylvania last month was over $18 per megawatt hour. In California, the average was more than 20 times as much.

And unlike California's fiscally ravaged utilities, Pennsylvania's electric companies are prospering, in some cases making record profits.

Skeptics say it's mostly because Pennsylvania had such high rates before deregulation: 15 percent above the national average.

MARK COOPER, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Deregulation helped the Pennsylvania consumer, but the mistake that is being made is to assume that what the people in Pennsylvania did can work in other states.

JACKSON: But Pennsylvania officials say their experience shows other states can avoid a California-style disaster.

A surprising benefit: this windmill farm, built because Pennsylvania's deregulation allows marketing of what's called "green power." About 80,000 consumers here have chosen to pay more to get some or all their power from renewable sources.

Shawn Sweet is one. She chose to pay about $20 a month more.

SWEET: Why do I pay more for electricity? Because the environment is important to me.

JACKSON: One factor in Pennsylvania's success: a regional market, bigger than California's -- what's called the PJM, supplying Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and others.

PHIL HARRIS, PJM INTERCONNECTION: We have a lot more buyers and sellers. We have nearly 200 buyers and sellers in this marketplace, and it's growing.

JACKSON: Prices are quoted instantly, 24 hours a day. There's a surplus of power, and eight more generating plants are already being built. Others are in planning.

(on camera): Unlike California, Pennsylvania utilities were not required to sell off their generating plants and not prevented from long-term contracts to buy power from others, differences experts will be studying as they ponder how to fix the crisis in California.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Norristown, Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: And next on INSIDE POLITICS, carried away by the Super Bowl.


SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: I'm a fan from the tip of my toes to my Raven hat.


WOODRUFF: Some noted senators choose up sides. We'll tell you what's at stake.



MIKULSKI: I have so much confidence in the Ravens that we have a bet. If the Ravens win, and I know they will, Hillary will stand on the Capitol steps with Chuck Schumer and recite the Raven pow up (ph). But if there a fluke of destiny and the Giants pull a surprise upset, I have to stand on the Capitol steps with Paul Sarbanes and sing, "New York, New York, it's a wonderful town, what goes up I feel down.


WOODRUFF: No, she won't be singing at halftime. That, of course, is Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski in the throes of Super Bowl fever. The game is Sunday, in case you've been paying attention only to political news, Sunday between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants.

CNN's Frank Buckley has spent this day with some Giants fans in Moonachie, New Jersey -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we are at a place called Manny's, and they had a time-honored tradition here of, in fact, having some of their foodstuffs involved in some of those political bets. In 1985, a couple of famous cheesesteaks from here had to go out to Chicago because Mayor Ed Koch at the time bet the cheesesteaks and the Giants lost.

This year, some special food stuffs have been prepared at Manny's. We have the Giant hamburger, the Six Points Shrimp and the NFL Nachos among the things being prepared here at Manny's. And, of course, the fans have been very prepared and excited. We have Tommy and John. Tommy, John. Very interesting.

You are confident that your team will win, aren't you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never more confident in my life.

BUCKLEY: What is about it the Giants this year that makes you so confident?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the defense. Defense, defense, defense.

BUCKLEY: OK, and let's talk to John. Let's show everybody your T-shirt here.


BUCKLEY: There is clearly a fan. You were telling me that you tried get Super Bowl tickets but struck out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct. Price became a little cost prohibitive, somewhere in the neighborhood of about $2,500 a ticket.

BUCKLEY: Wow, a lot of dough. All right, thanks very much. Good luck enjoying it on TV. Also, here, we have John and Lauren, who is the youngest Giants' fan here. John this is place gets -- you're the son of Manny. How busy does this place get on Super Bowl Sunday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gets unbelievably crazy. This Sunday we have over 200 reservations, and we're actually having to start to turn people away.

BUCKLEY: And what about your confidence level? You have Giants who've come in here. The coach is a regular visitor. Your confidence level? I mean, do you have to be confident? Do you have to be politically correct and say the Giants are going to win?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just know they're going to win, you know. You know, I've had blue blood, you know, for over 32 years now. So, go Big Blue.

BUCKLEY: All right. Thanks a lot, John.

That's the scene here at Manny's. Probably a similar situation somewhere down in Baltimore, Judy, with fans just as confident down there about their Ravens. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Frank, you really just manufactured this, right. These are just three or four people there. Everybody else there isn't paying any attention to the Super Bowl, are they?

BUCKLEY: No, not at all. Everyone is very much excited about the ball game, and that's all they're doing here.

WOODRUFF: OK, Frank Buckley in Moonachie, New Jersey. And one of these days, we'll find out how that town got the name. Or maybe you know. Can you tell us?

BUCKLEY: Anybody know how this place got the game of Moonachie?


BUCKLEY: All right, there you go. There's the official answer, Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK, Frank, we won't put you on the spot. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

Well, for many, the game itself is less an attraction than all the goings-on around it. CNN's Bruce Morton takes a look at the Super Bowl scene.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It isn't exactly your average game. I mean, sure, tickets are only $325 or $400, depending on where you sit, but you probably couldn't get a ticket. And the scalpers' price is somewhere around $2,000. And a 30-second TV ad will run some corporation about $2 million. Bob Dole's in one.


BOB DOLE, FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why I'm eager to tell you about the product that put real joy back in my life. It helps me feel youthful and vigorous and most importantly, vital again. What is this amazing product? My faithful little blue friend, an ice- cold Pepsi-Cola.


MORTON: Took that little girl's job and is working for Pepsi. St. Louis says the publicity it got last year was worth $344 million. I don't know how they figure that -- added tourists, increased beer sales, whatever.

You couldn't get more different cities. New York, super cool -- the Big Apple, the fashion industry, Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera, five-star restaurants every 10 yards, you know. And Baltimore? Swell aquarium, and a restaurant -- never mind how many stars -- whose slogan is, "Eat Bertha's Mussels."

And it's been a sad football town. The old Baltimore Colts stole away years ago. Those Johnny Unitas championship teams are just a memory now. When Art Modell brought in the hapless, haven't won in forever, Cleveland Browns, the city yawned. Even when they turned into Ravens, people said, so what?

In fact, people said that about both these teams. Neither one was above .500 last year. When the Giants' coach promised last November his team would make the playoffs, people laughed. Not now.

They're both blue-collar teams. Play defense. Giants shut out Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. The Ravens, in three playoff games, allowed the other teams just 16 points. A safety could win this thing. Final score: 2-0.

I'm neutral. But maybe Baltimore needs it more. New York has all that other stuff. Baltimore has, well, a dead poet, Edgar Allan Poe. They named the team for him. You remember all that "Quoth the raven, nevermore" stuff you learned in school.

Anyway, both cities are up for it. Tampa is up for it. Millions of us ticketless souls will clutch potato chips and watch the TV screen. Mr. President, you had a swell party last week, but this one is bigger.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: I just want to learn how to do that backflip that we saw Bob Dole do in the Pepsi commercial. Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS, a novel measure of presidential greatness. We'll examine how books shape the leader.


WOODRUFF: Even before President Clinton left office, many people were wondering, of course, how history would judge him. Well, by at least one measure, he could do quite well. A noted historian believes that some of the best presidents were, like Clinton, voracious readers.


HAROLD EVANS, AUTHOR, "THE AMERICAN CENTURY": If you take all of the American great presidents, the indisputably great presidents -- Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Madison, coming up to Eisenhower -- all of them were readers.

And if you take the worst presidents in American history -- Harding -- or the ones that -- put it differently -- if you take the presidents in American history who are rated the lowest consistently by the historians -- people like Grant, who had many other qualities, Harding, Coolidge and some of the earlier presidents, Pierce and so on -- Buchanan -- they, all of them, non-readers pretty well.

Lincoln, who was immersed in Shakespeare, and of course the Bible, was also quoted and had a great sense of destiny. I think his sense of destiny was really developed by reading Shakespeare. George Washington was accused by his colleagues of reading only agricultural works. But now we know, looking at his library's collection, that he read a lot more than that. Thomas Jefferson, of course -- who had a tremendous library which is now part of the Library of Congress -- could read in so many languages. And he was highly regarded.

And a very curious thing is, if you come up to John Kennedy, who was a reader, you sometimes wished that he hadn't read some of the books he had read, for instance, because after of the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation, he said it would have better if James Bond had done that operation. It would have been more successful. And then, of course, later he was continuing the CIA's efforts to get rid of Castro, which had begun under Eisenhower. They had the exploding cigar and the poison pens, which were pure James Bond.

And take Ronald Reagan, who doesn't rank highly in the historians' table, though will probably come up, in my estimation. His passion for Star Wars was fired partly by his reading of science fiction. Nixon's sense of isolation was not inspired by, but encouraged by reading of General de Gaulle, who said the great leaders are often isolated and apart. And that reinforced Nixon's tendency to be isolated.

Clinton reads mystery thrillers. And so did Franklin Roosevelt. In fact, when Franklin Roosevelt died, the book on his bedside table was by John Dickson Carr -- a thriller. And there's no harm in any of that. I mean, I don't want to sound too solemn about this. But most of the important reading, most of it is done before they get immersed in all those papers and those documents, which they do have to read.

But I think somebody like Carter, who is a speed reader, or somebody like Clinton, who has read so widely, will know much more intuitively what's really important.


WOODRUFF: That was historian Harold Evans, the author of the book, "The American Century."

In our next half-hour, another look at the day's top story out of Washington: the timetable set for a Senate debate on campaign-finance reform. And fans gear up for the Super Bowl. We'll hear from two political leaders who've chosen up sides.


WOODRUFF: The first week of the first 100 days: Has President Bush ducked a problem named John McCain? Bush White House on the surprises left behind when the Clinton team moved out. And simply charming: You could say that about our Bill Schneider. But it's also the theme of his "Political Play of the Week."

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


Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott calls it a win-win for all concerned. But, certainly, Senator John McCain has fought the longest and the hardest for his share of today's apparent victory. McCain and Lott reached an agreement in principle to move forward with a full Senate debate on campaign-finance reform.

This deal comes just days after McCain reintroduced his reform bill, along with his co-sponsor, Senator Russ Feingold, even though campaign-finance legislation is not a priority for President Bush.


LOTT: Senator McCain and I have worked through this very carefully. And I think he has been very fair in the way he's approached it. He has been willing and has agreed to wait until the last part of March and early April to take this issue up, giving President Bush the opportunity that I thought he deserved to get sworn into office and begin to work with the Congress and to roll out his agenda that he talked about in the election.


WOODRUFF: Senator Lott also said that he will discourage any attempt to filibuster the reform legislation, a tactic used by Republicans in the past to kill McCain's bill. Well, let's talk more about the deal now with CNN's Jonathan Karl.

Jonathan, why are Republicans finally agreeing to this? KARL: Well, a couple of things have changed. You know, McCain every year has tried to get this up for a vote for the Senate. He has never succeeded. It's always been blocked by filibuster. It's always faced the united opposition of the Republican leadership. But two major things have changed.

One is that the Republicans lost five seats in the last election. That brought five more seats in that were in favor of McCain's bill. So he now has more support -- potentially enough votes to get what they call cloture, to block off Republican filibuster.

But another major thing changed, and that's on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. We now have a new president, a president who would, potentially, veto a McCain-Feingold bill should it pass. So the Senate knew that, in the past, they were the last line of defense against campaign finance reform because it passed the House, President Clinton would have signed it if it passed the full Congress, so the Senate was the last line of defense; they had to hold the line.

Now, well, you know, McCain has got more leverage in the Senate and it looks like even if he wins there, he may never get -- he may not get campaign finance reform, at least not this year.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan, McCain planning to hold so-called town hall meetings. How are the Republicans reacting to that?

KARL: Well, they're not happy, Judy because, it's interesting, McCain has said that he will go to the states of senators who are undecided on the issue and has hinted he would go to the states of potentially vulnerable Republicans who are undecided on the issue who are up for reelection in the next cycle.

He's starting right off the bat in Arkansas with Tim Hutchinson. Tim Hutchinson is up for reelection, could potentially have a tough race on his hands. Hutchinson has been a sometimes-ally of McCain on the campaign finance issue. Hutchinson is very unhappy, he has told me, to see McCain come to his home state to do this. He sees it as strong-arm tactics, exactly the kind of thing you should not be doing when trying to get support in the Senate.

And, in fact, it may backfire with Hutchinson. Hutchinson was down in Arkansas today holding a press conference announcing that he would not support McCain's bill and instead would support a less expansive bill, more limited bill, that'


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