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Gunman Wounded and Arrested Outside of White House; President Bush Continues His Push for Tax CutsAired February 7, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a single gunshot.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw the police running toward the -- toward the shot.
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SGT. ROB MACLEAN, U.S. PARK POLICE: The subject was a white male in his mid-40s.
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ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: During this time, the president was in the residence and was never in any danger.
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BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: A gunman is shot outside the White House fence after a standoff with the Secret Service.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We'll have the latest on the suspect and on security at the White House.
SHAW: For President Bush, it's business as usual, including another tax cut sales pitch. Is Congress buying it?
WOODRUFF: Plus, a reported Clinton-Gore showdown: Did it heal or worsen old wounds?
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were safe inside the White House. But outside, a man had a gun, and that was more than enough of a threat to send the Secret Service into emergency action and to fray some nerves here in Washington and across the nation.
CNN's John King begins our coverage of the shooting, the suspect, and security at the White House.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Full alert at the White House, triggered by a simple but startling bulletin: "Shots fired, just outside the gates."
11:22 a.m.: Several uniformed Secret Service officers approach a man brandishing a handgun.
MACLEAN: He was waving it in the air. The weapon was pointed at the White House at one point and pointed in all directions.
KING: Law enforcement sources tell CNN the man said something about killing himself and ignored repeated pleas to drop his gun and surrender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I could make out was, you know, "Drop the gun. It doesn't have to be this way. We can talk to you."
KING: 11:36 a.m.: A member of the Secret Service Emergency Response Team fires a single shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And right as soon as I heard that gunshot, all the police just converged in the bushes area, right outside the White House there.
KING: On the White House compound, agents rushed to secure the grounds -- a routine response to make sure the incident outside the gates was not a diversion.
The president was in the residence exercising. The vice president, in his West Wing office. The White House says both were alerted and that both kept to their schedules.
FLEISCHER: We all have full faith in the secret service here. They're professionals. They do their job, and they do it well.
KING: Officials identified the suspect as 47-year-old Robert Pickett, an accountant from Evansville, Indiana. Pickett was taken to a local hospital for emergency care and then a psychological evaluation.
DR. YOLANDA HAYWOOD, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The patient is medically stable. He's been shot in the leg, doing damage to the right knee joint.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: A five-shot revolver was recovered at the scene. Secret sources -- Secret Service sources now saying several shots were fired from that revolver by Mr. Pickett before the law enforcement officers approached him. Again, they're stressing he made no effort to hop the White House fence or to get onto the White House grounds. They do not believe he was here in any way posing a threat to the president, and they say in any event Mr. Bush was never in any danger.
Now the investigation in its very preliminary stages. We are told by sources that law enforcement officials had a very brief conversation with the suspect during that ambulance ride to the George Washington University Hospital. They are waiting to question him again and they are gathering evidence at his home as well, in Evansville, Indiana -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: John, at this early stage of the investigation, are the security people, the Secret Service and the others satisfied with the way that this was handled, the way they handled it?
KING: Yes, they are, Judy. For all the commotion and the very tense 30 minutes or so around here, from 11:30 into just about the noon hour, the Secret Service saying this exactly is a textbook case of just how this should work.
The president and the vice president were immediately alerted. Extra security steps were taken inside the White House. A sweep of the grounds out here just to make sure that this was not a diversion on the south side of the White House, say that something could then happen on the north side of the White House. And they say the suspect quickly apprehended. They say the officers were very measured in their responses, trying to get him to surrender, and that the shot was taken at his leg only after he brandished that weapon and refused to surrender.
WOODRUFF: John, you've been covering the White House for some time. Is there ever any way for the people who protect the president to truly be prepared for something like this?
KING: No. There are security forces around the perimeter, and we know a lot more about what they do here for security than we should discuss on television. But there are security forces around the perimeter at all times. That doesn't mean that every several months or so somebody doesn't hop the fence. Usually that person is unarmed, just trying to get attention.
There was a case in 1995 where a man with a revolver did hop the fence at about the same point where the incident took place today. It turned out that revolver was not loaded. That man was taken into custody.
It was in the same -- I think 1994, a year earlier -- when a man actually opened fire on the White House, from out here in front of Pennsylvania Avenue, one of the reasons Pennsylvania Avenue on the north side of the White House is now closed to any vehicle traffic.
So you can't predict these things, but the Secret Service will tell you, while they don't like to discuss the details of what they do, that when he is inside the gates of the White House, they believe the president and the vice president are as safe as can possibly be.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King, at the White House -- Bernie.
SHAW: The suspect, Robert Pickett, is due to undergo surgery this hour at George Washington University Hospital. Our man, Charles Bierbauer, is there -- Charles.
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, the surgery is scheduled to take place on Mr. Pickett's damaged right knee. They will be trying to remove some of the bone fragments in there, and if possible, to remove the bullet as well.
Mr. Pickett was described as medically stable here at George Washington University Hospital. As to the question of his emotional stability, though, he is being given, or has been given a psychiatric evaluation. Doctors here explained why when we talked with them earlier this afternoon.
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QUESTION: What can you tell us about the psych eval?
HAYWOOD: It's part of a standard evaluation under these circumstances?
QUESTION: What circumstances?
HAYWOOD: The circumstances of someone who sustained a gunshot wound outside of the White House.
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DR. JOHN WILLIAMS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Usually patients who are shot are in pain. They're writhing, they're talking, they're agitated. What Dr. Haywood is describing is a patient who came in, was not talking, was completely motionless, was not giving any indication of having any pain or anything.
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BIERBAUER: And that Dr. Williams described as most unusual for a gunshot victim. Mr. Pickett was described as conscious when he was brought here. It's only six blocks from the White House to George Washington Hospital, just up Pennsylvania Avenue. And yes, it is the same hospital where President Reagan was brought when he was shot, nearly 20 years ago.
As for Pickett himself, some information has been emerging in the course of the day. So just to reiterate what we do know about him, he is 47 years old. He is from Evansville, Indiana. He is a tax accountant there.
We also know that he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for two semesters back in 1971 and '72, and obviously did not graduate from the military academy.
He worked for the Internal Revenue Service. He is an accountant. Worked in California and Ohio. And we understand that in the 1980s he was fired by the IRS, and at one point lost a civil lawsuit in which he contended that he had been unjustly discharged.
But there are still many gaps to be filled in, in the history and in the understanding of why Mr. Pickett was at White House today and what led to his winding up here at George Washington Hospital -- Bernie.
SHAW: Charles, Robert Pickett due for any further examinations, psychological or otherwise?
BIERBAUER: I think that's an ongoing process, Bernie, as the doctors indicated here. Given the circumstances, given what had taken place, there are certainly going to be questions as to whether this is a man who is psychiatrically stable. Those are the kinds of evaluations that are being made, quite coincidentally, or coinciding with the medical evaluation and the surgery, which is taking place.
We are led to expect an updated statement at some point from the hospital later after the surgery takes place. It'll just be a paper statement which they'll disseminate to the news media -- Bernie.
SHAW: Charles Bierbauer with the very latest from George Washington University Hospital -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And as we were hearing just a moment ago, this incident has renewed questions about the state of security at White House.
CNN's Kelli Arena has been looking into added precautions taken in recent years in response to security breaches at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While unexpected, the shooting outside the White House is just one scenario the Secret Service perpetually trains for.
LARRY COCKELL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, SECRET SERVICE: We try to continuously work on making sure that our people are prepared to deal with anything they face, and their skills are perishable. So it's repetitive and it's continuous.
ARENA: There have been other high-profile security incidents in recent years. On may 23rd, 1995, a man armed with an unloaded handgun was shot and wounded by a Secret Service agent on the South Lawn of the White House. October 29, 1994: A Colorado man, caught here on videotape by a tourist, fires at least 29 rounds from a semiautomatic rifle at the White House. He was convicted of attempted murder of the president.
September 12, 1994: A man, flying a Stolen Cessna plane, fatally crashes on the White House lawn. That crash prompted a White House security review and a significant tightening of safety measures, such as adding more bulletproof windows.
The most visible change, the closing of the section of Pennsylvania Avenue that passes in front of the executive mansion.
Since then, there has been an ongoing battle with civic groups and businesses arguing for a reopening of the famous street. President bush has said he would consider it.
FLEISCHER: And he's made no determination at this moment, at this time, about what he will do or won't do, what can be done or cannot be done with Pennsylvania Avenue.
ARENA: There is no indication this most recent shooting will prompt any new changes, but as the Secret Service says, protecting the White House is a work in progress -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Kelli, how do they determine what are the proper charges to be filed, and in what venue against the suspect?
ARENA: Well, the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Washington is making that decision right now. We're not expecting that decision until tomorrow. They will either file local or federal charges. If they have enough evidence to prove this man used a deadly weapon to assault a federal officer, then they will file federal charges which carry a penalty of up to 10 years.
If they don't have enough evidence to support that, it'll be a local charge of carrying a pistol without a license, which carries a maximum penalty of five years.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kelli Arena, thank you very much -- Bernie.
SHAW: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the vice president's agenda for the day, and the opposition over his tax cut numbers, among Democrats and Republicans.
Plus, the former president, once again a topic of investigation on the Hill.
WOODRUFF: President Bush will send his $1.6 trillion tax cut proposal to Capitol Hill tomorrow. Today, the president held a rally of his "tax cut families," representing the people, he says, would benefit from his proposals. But the president's plan faces opposition from both sides of the aisle. As Kate Snow reports, Democrats are calling for a less costly plan, while Republicans want deeper tax cuts.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day three of the sales pitch for tax cuts, a reunion for the 21 families who appeared with President Bush on the campaign trail to illustrate his proposal.
BUSH: You helped me make my case, and now I intend to make good on my promise.
SNOW: The promise: $1.6 trillion in tax cuts: no more, no less.
BUSH: I think for those who want to diminish the size of the tax cut, that would be inadvisable. And for those who want to increase the size of the tax cut, it would be inadvisable. It's the right size.
SNOW: But President Bush may have to convince members of his own party in the House. At an early morning press event, one group unveiled a plan to provide more than $2 trillion in tax breaks. And House Majority Whip Tom Delay acknowledged the Congress may tack on more tax relief than the president requested.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: He didn't say, I am going to veto every bill that is over 1.6. He said that is the number he likes and we will see what happens after that.
SNOW: Democrats say, by their math, Mr. Bush's tax plan already adds up to more than the White House price tag, and that, they say, is irresponsible.
REP. DAVID BONIOR (D-MI), MINORITY WHIP: There is going to be one hell of a fight on this, believe me, and there should be.
SNOW: But before they can counter the White House tax proposal, Democrats will have to fight their own internal battles. Some of the sticking points dividing Democrats: how much of the surplus should go to debt reduction? How large should an overall tax package be? Should it be a rate cut, or how about a rebate for tax payers? One group of Democrats want to send a $300 check to every American every year for the next ten years.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: You know, there was a line of about 20 Democrats with so many different ideas that I could actually feel the roots of my hair graying as I was listening because it is very, very difficult.
SNOW: Difficult, on both sides of the aisle, and both sides of the Capitol. Republicans in the House and in the Senate see this very differently, taking different tacks on this. The House Republicans talking about potentially adding on more to the tax cut. In the Senate, we're told by Senator Grassley, that they will not add anything more, that this bill will not get larger than 1.6 trillion -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Kate, are there any Republicans who are just flat not on board yet with the president's tax cut plan?
SNOW: Judy, Senator Voinovich is one Republican who is exercising a little caution. He is saying that he has a few concerns, he wants to look over the president's proposal, but that he might have concerns about debt reduction, and about it being fiscally responsible -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kate Snow at the Capitol. Thanks -- Bernie.
SHAW: Pardons not taxes are on the agenda for the House Government Reform Committee today -- tomorrow, I should say. Led by Chairman Dan Burton, the committee will begin hearings on President Clinton's controversial pardon of financier Marc Rich. Our Bob Franken has a preview.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may have left the White House, but Bill Clinton has not left behind a major nemesis during his presidential years: Dan Burton.
REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: If everything was done according to hoyle, so to speak, then I wish the former president, Bill Clinton, well in the future and hope that he is successful in whatever he undertakes.
FRANKEN: But not before Burton's House Government Reform Committee gears up for questions about the Clinton pardon: specifically, the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did what I thought was right, and I still think that on balance it was probably the right decision.
FRANKEN: What President Clinton did in the waning moments of his term was to pardon Rich, a billionaire commodities trader. Rich was accused of massive tax fraud and illegal trading with Iran. After he was indicted in 1983, he fled the United States and has enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Switzerland, immune from extradition. President Clinton pardoned him after a direct appeal from Rich's lawyer, former White House counsel Jack Quinn. Critics charge that Quinn took advantage of his personal Clinton connection. He used witness number one before the committee.
JACK QUINN, MARC RICH'S ATTORNEY: I worked very hard on this over a period of two years, and in the end, I think persuaded not just the president, but a good many other people that this was really an indictment that shouldn't stand.
FRANKEN: Quinn said he consulted with the Justice Department through Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, who will also appear before the committee. Rich was targeted by investigators working in New York for then-U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani. The prosecutors are expected to deny before the committee the claim by Rich they were overzealous.
MORRIS WEINBERG, LEAD COUNSEL IN U.S. V. MARC RICH: He made $100 million worth of illegal profits on some oil deals. He set up a second set of books. He parked the profit on some other company's' books, he laundered them out of the United States, and he evaded $48 million in taxes.
FRANKEN: And he has refused to return to the United States for 17 years. His ex-wife did return. Denise Rich became a million- dollar donor to the Democratic party and made contributions to the Clintons. She wrote a letter to the president, supporting a pardon for her ex-husband.
BURTON: I want to find out if there was a quid pro quo. I'm not saying there was. If there wasn't, OK.
FRANKEN: While the president's name is now Bush, Bill Clinton has left the White House, but he has left behind some new controversies and Dan Burton is not ready to let go -- Bernie.
SHAW: Bob, by the way, what's the latest on the Clintons and those questions about White House gifts?
FRANKEN: We're talking about $28,000 in furnishings that they took with them, that could have been really intended to be left behind the property of the White House. The Clintons, although they say that they took them in good faith, are saying they're now going to return them to make sure there was no impropriety.
It involved gifts as such things as a couch and a kitchen set, a carpet and the like. They're saying -- the officials at the White House say that the records indicated that the Clintons, in fact, had the right to them but they'll take no chances, they're going to return them, the Park Service says. The Park Service will take custody. The Park Service is the entity that handles gifts for the White House.
SHAW: Thank you, Bob Franken on the Hill -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Senator Robert Torricelli today denied any illegal activities in his 1996 campaign, calling the ongoing federal investigation of him "unwarranted." The "New York Times" reports that a major contributor of the Torricelli campaign claims that the New Jersey Democrat knew he had received some illegal donations, and encouraged them.
That contributor, businessman David Chang, admitted last year to funneling more than $53,000 in illegal donations to Torricelli's '96 campaign. In a statement released today, Torricelli did not mention Chang by name, but he charged that the investigation against him boils down to the statements of a man who, quoting now, "has a history of lying, changing his story, and making wild accusations."
There is much more to come on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still ahead: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: In our nostalgia for the past, we must not let slip the changes that these dynamic times demand of us.
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WOODRUFF: The Democrats search for a leader. We will talk with Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, about his new role among the party centrists. Plus:
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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Israelis did not vote to reject peace, or even the peace process. They voted to reject a peace process that had failed.
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Our Bill Schneider on Ariel Sharon's runaway victory in the Israeli election: what it says about the Israeli people, and the prospects for peace. And later: the latest on today's White House shooting, and the condition of the suspect.
SHAW: As President Bush forges ahead with his domestic agenda, the Democratic party is looking for new ways to mold and shape the political debate. But for the first time in recent memory, Democrats have no visible leader to voice the party line. Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" reports some of the leading contenders for the job can be found in Congress.
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES" (voice-over): Who will lead the Democrats in the Bush era? Two months ago, the answer seemed obvious: Al Gore, the man who fell just a few hanging chads short of the presidency. But today, amid sniping and second-guessing about his narrow defeat, Gore hasn't established himself as the first among equals. Instead, many voices are contending for leadership.
One growing more prominent is Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Bayh first raised his visibility by taking a prominent role in the opposition to John Ashcroft's nomination as attorney general. Today, Bayh succeeded Senator Joe Lieberman as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council with a campaign-style stump speech that sounded like a rehearsal for the next Democratic primary.
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: That in our love for the solutions of yesterday, in our nostalgia for the past, we must not let slip the changes that these dynamic times demand of us.
BROWNSTEIN: When Bayh came out early and hard against John Ashcroft, many Democrats saw it as a sign that he wants to seek the presidency in 2004. Like all other Democrats, though, Bayh's decision on 2004 will have to wait for Al Gore's. But Gore isn't likely to reveal his intentions anytime soon.
For at least the next few months, his associates are expecting him to stay clear of partisan disputes. Instead, he's quietly strengthening his ties in New York, California and Tennessee with university lecturing deals that will allow him to let loose his inner wonk.
Joe Lieberman gained a national audience during his high-profile turn as Gore's running mate, but some Democrats may bridle at how often Lieberman agrees with Bush on issues like education and faith- based charities.
Then there are the Clintons. Sigmund Freud once asked: what do women want? Today, Democrats are asking: what does Hillary want? Does she want to run for president in 2004? Or 2008? Will she become a champion of the left? Or the hero of the new Democrats? While she's providing the answers, Senator Clinton will always be surrounded by microphones and cameras, which will give her a platform unmatched by any Democrat, except her husband.
Bill Clinton, however, may be reluctantly keeping his head down for at least the next few months. After a White House departure marked by controversial pardons and disputed gifts, Clinton has once again been forced to spend much of his time defending his ethics on issues like his pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
CLINTON: I still think, on balance, it was probably the right decision, I wish we had more time to work it.
BROWNSTEIN: Back in the Senate, there's Ted Kennedy, who's made a career outlasting presidents. He's been a Bush pal one moment, a scourge the next, as he demonstrated leading the fight against Ashcroft.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: That's what I think, Senator. I don't retreat. I don't retreat on any one of those matters.
BROWNSTEIN: As both ally and adversary of the White House, Kennedy will have enormous leverage in shaping the left's response to the new president.
Finally, he isn't as glib as Bill Clinton, or as tight with the party base as Ted Kennedy, but Tom Daschle has something no other Democrats has: power. With 49 other Senate Democrats behind him, Daschle has more power than anyone in his party to resist and reshape the Bush agenda.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: We are the only thing standing between what the Republicans want and what becomes law, and we understand our responsibility each and every day, we come to the legislative session of the United States Senate.
BROWNSTEIN: That may make this unassuming senator the loudest Democratic voice of all in the next four years. I'm Ron Brownstein for INSIDE POLITICS. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SHAW: After the break, Judy will talk with one of those potential party leaders, the new chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.
WOODRUFF: Well, as Ron Brownstein mentioned a moment ago, Senator Evan Bayh is now the Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and a man often mentioned in connection with the future of the Democratic Party.
Senator Bayh joins us now from Capitol Hill. And we thank you for being with us.
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IA), CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Senator, the Democrats have not only the lost the White House, they still don't have control of the Senate, the House of Representatives. Where does the Democratic Leadership Council fit into all of this?
BAYH: The DLC, Judy, has, over last 15 years, been a source of some of the most dynamic ideas for our party. You know, it doesn't raise money. It doesn't have a grassroots political organization. But what it does have are some good ideas about growing the economy, fiscally responsible tax cuts. It's been, really, the source of a lot of good dynamic thinking about how to give new meaning to some of the most basic Democratic values and I think that's where it will continue to fit in.
WOODRUFF: Well, supposedly Al Gore was talking about some of those very things when he ran for President not so long ago. What went wrong?
BAYH: Well, Judy, you know, we can talk about that for a lot for longer than we have on this program. But suffice it to say I am not a big one for finger pointing and Monday morning quarterbacking. I do think that moving forward we need to squarely connect with middle America and mainstream voters and I think that means being fiscally responsible. It means continuing to grow the economy, which is a little bit too sluggish right. And I think most of all in middle America, parts of the south and the Rocky Mountain west, it means talking about the enduring values that Americans have always cared about. I think that's the winning prescription not only for future elections, but I think it's a prescription for good public policy for the American people.
WOODRUFF: Talking about enduring values sounds Republican to some people. How is that different from the Republican agenda? BAYH: Well, Judy, that's a good question. And many people said that about welfare reform. But, in fact, it really is in touch with some of the most basic Democratic principles -- opportunity for everyone, but then responsibility from everyone to make the most of that opportunity. So, some of these things, strengthening families, trying to help it make it easier to raise children in this society, I think these are squarely mainframe Democratic issues and shouldn't see that territory to the Republicans.
WOODRUFF: Are you concerned that some Democrats may be cooperating too quickly with the President?
BAYH: No, not really and I think that the American people want to us work together when we can. I think that it would not be responsible and I also think that it would be bad politics for us to obstruct the new President just for the sake of being obstructionist. If we have common ground, if we can forge consensus on things like education reform and growing the economy, we should work with him. But when we have principled disagreements, for example, in the case of John Ashcroft, I think we need to draw the line and stand up and say, Mr. President, you moved too far from the center and we're going to offer a responsible alternative.
WOODRUFF: Well, in the arena of cooperation, it was reported, in fact, Ron Brownstein reported today that you were one of those centrists Democrats who's trying to find some middle ground in the area of education reform, that you're looking at a way to come up with a formula for vouchers, if not to the pay for private schools, at least to pay for some sort of tutoring for students. Just how much middle ground do you think the is there with what the President's proposing?
BAYH: We have got a lot in common, Judy, starting with the fact that we agree that improving the quality of education for every child is one of the great challenges of our time. We need more investment of resources because that's the foundation that makes everything possible. But most importantly, we need more accountability for results. We also agree on the importance of competition and parental choice but we separate on the issue of vouchers. We, as centrist Democrats, believe that we can use market forces, charter schools, public school choice to help get the benefits of more innovation and improvement but we don't think that we should be taking money out of the public schools at a time when we are trying to lift them up. So that is an area both of agreement but also an area of difference and I think goes right to the heart of the question you asked me before.
WOODRUFF: So, are you ruling out any sort of cooperation when it comes to vouchers for private schools even as a pilot program?
BAYH: What I am saying, Judy, is that we can get all of the benefits of vouchers through competition and choice within the public schools without some of the down sides that vouchers bring. You know, vouchers, like any market mechanism, create winners and losers. And when it comes to getting a good education, that's too important to have a lot of America's children ending up being losers who wouldn't succeed in the free market that vouchers would create. So we can work with the President on a whole lot of things, accountability, investment, market forces through public school choice, but when it comes to taking money away from the public schools at a time when they need additional resources, I think that's just a bridge too far. WOODRUFF: Senator, as we heard Ron Brownstein mention, your very -- your early opposition to the Ashcroft nomination made some of your colleagues think you've already got your eye on 2004. You've already raised, what is it, $2 million looking ahead to your own political career. Are you giving serious thought at this stage to running for President?
BAYH: You know, Judy, I am flattered that have you asked and the speculation is in some ways humbling. But I don't intend to let it go to my head. My opposition to Mr. Ashcroft was principled and it's based upon the fact that I have known him for a long time going back to when we were governors and I just felt that he was not the right person for that job because he would be a continuing source of polarization and conflict when we have had too much of that in this town.
So, you know, I want to do the very best job I can being a good Senator for the people of Indiana and I want to advance ideas that are good for our country on some of the subjects we've talked about here, education reform and fiscally responsible tax cuts. And, you know, if I do that, it's been my experience that the politics will take care of itself.
WOODRUFF: If Al Gore runs for President again, would you support him?
BAYH: Oh, I have a lot of respect for the Vice President and I was one of his strong supporters this last time. I would expect him to thoroughly review his options for this next time, but I think it's too early for any of us to say, you know, what we are going to do or not do in terms of supporting someone for President. But I think certainly he would be a strong candidate. I respect him and I am sure he will explore that option very seriously.
WOODRUFF: So it sounds like you are holding off on that?
BAYH: Well, I think everybody would say, you know, look, the Vice President is a good man. He ran a good race. He won the popular vote. But in terms of, you know, endorsements, I think almost everybody is going to say it's a little premature for that.
WOODRUFF: All right, Senator Evan Bayh, the new head of the Democratic Leadership Council. We thank you for being with us and congratulations on the new position.
BAYH: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
When INSIDE POLITICS returns, day one for Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister Elect. We'll go to our Bill Schneider in Tel Aviv for his analysis of the Israeli election.
SHAW: Israel's new Prime Minister Elect Ariel Sharon began this day with a symbolic trip to Jerusalem's Western Wall. Sharon used the visit to repeat his vow that Jerusalem will remain under Israeli control forever. This incoming Prime Minister will have very little time to celebrate his one-sided victory over outgoing leader Ehud Barak. Sharon has 45 days to form a new government and to push a budget through a divided parliament. President Bush said today the United States will, in his words, "continue to work with the parties in that region to promote an environment of calm."
WOODRUFF: CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider followed the Israeli election up close and in person. He joins us now from Tel Aviv with his post-election analysis.
SCHNEIDER: Judy, you know, the election in Israel actually set two different records -- the biggest margin of defeat for any government in Israel's history and the lowest voter turnout in Israel's history. So what were the voters trying to say?
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Israelis agree on one thing the voters were trying to say.
JOSEPH ALPHER, FORMER BARAK ADVISER: I think this election was about voting against Ehud Barak.
UNIDENTIFIED ISRAELI: People aren't voting for Sharon, they're voting against Barak.
SCHNEIDER: It was partly personal. Ehud Barak showed the limits of his political skills. He made a bold move for peace, but he failed to create a political coalition to support it.
ALPHER: I would describe Barak in his 19 months as a brave and brilliant bungler.
SCHNEIDER: Barak's reputation for arrogance did not help, even in defeat.
EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The path that we have chosen is the sole right path.
SCHNEIDER: To be fair, however, the wave of Palestinian violence put the Prime Minister in an impossible situation.
ALPHER: Once the violence began, even a successful peace deal with Arafat might not have saved him.
SCHNEIDER: Barak's campaign just made it worse.
BARRY RUBIN, BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY: In the commercials he didn't talk about the -- that he could stop the violence more effectively. He didn't criticize Arafat or the Palestinian leadership. He just kept saying, you know, there is a possibility for peace, I can make peace. SCHNEIDER: The fact that voter turnout was down 20 percentage points also carried a message: a lack of confidence in Ariel Sharon, a vehement opponent of the Oslo peace process, as the only alternative to Barak. That's the other thing experts agree on: Israelis did not vote to reject peace or even the peace process. They voted to reject a peace process that had failed.
EYAL ARAD, SHARON ADVISER: Barak promised us peace and security. He brought war. Let's try a different approach.
SCHNEIDER: Does Sharon have a different approach to peace? That's what voters -- and non-voters -- were not sure of. Which is why Sharon moved quickly to invite his opponents to join his government.
ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER-ELECT: I call on the Labor Party to join us in initial unity government. In these trying times unity must be our first priority.
SCHNEIDER: Barak's Labor Party actually may want to join a unity government as well because without Labor Party support, Sharon's government could fall. And now that Barak has resigned as leader of the Labor Party, the Labor Party is not ready for a new election anytime soon.
WOODRUFF: Well, it's Judy. Bill, is there any Labor figure who could lead the party into a coalition with Sharon?
SCHNEIDER: Well, there certainly is and it's not a new figure. It's not a new face. It's an old face, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He could become a caretaker leader who goes into the government with Sharon, possibly as a foreign minister, to show that he wants to restart the peace process. And I think a lot of Israelis voters would appreciate it.
Do you want to know something strange about the Israeli politicians? This is a country where defeated politicians don't disappear. They keep coming back. Shimon Peres has been defeated four or five times. Maybe Al Gore should move to Israel.
WOODRUFF: Unlike the United States. We know that Sharon, Bill, rejected the Barak approach to peace. Does he have his own alternative peace plan?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, Judy, I spoke to one of Barak's -- I'm sorry, one of Sharon's closest advisers and he gave me some interesting information. I asked him, what is, does Sharon have his own peace plan? He said that Barak's approach, peace through concessions, has clearly failed. The Palestinians rejected it and they responded with a wave of violence. Sharon, the strategist said, has a different approach. He called it peace through strength and he said it's the same approach that Ronald Reagan used to win the cold war, namely convince your opponents that can never win.
But, you know, Palestinians can do something that Russians could never do to Americans. They could -- they can make life intolerable for Israelis, and that's what the Intifada, the uprising, is all about.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider in Tel Aviv, thanks a lot.
SHAW: The arrival of a new Israeli Prime Minister comes at a time when President Bush is trying to modify how the United States approaches Middle East politics. Our CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel reports on the evolving U.S. strategy in the region.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ariel Sharon's landslide victory presents the Bush administration with an immediate challenge: how to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from exploding, further damaging U.S. Influence in the region.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to play the hand we've been dealt and we're going to play it well with one thing in mind, that we promote peace in the middle east.
KOPPEL: What President Bush and his advisers did not say but certainly know, the peace process and U.S. efforts to maintain sanctions on Iraq are inextricably intertwined. The Bush administration is already reviewing existing U.S. policy toward Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell telling U.S. lawmakers he believes the key to tightening sanctions will be rebuilding consensus within the Arab world.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we have not clearly enough pointed out to our regional coalition partners and to the nations in the region that Iraq is threatening them with these weapons of mass destruction.
KOPPEL: But these days the only weapons many Arabs are focused on are the ones used by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians. In fact, since the Palestinian uprising began last fall, support for sanctions within the Arab world has fallen just as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's standing has risen. Recently, the Iraqi government welcomed Palestinians wounded in the conflict, President Hussein continuing to present himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause. And experts say the longer the conflict continues the more difficult it will be for the Bush administration to keep sanctions in place.
GEOFFREY KEMP, NIXON CENTER: Arab leaders are very reluctant to advocate support of sanctions against Saddam, which is what Americans want, at a time when Israel is cracking down on the Palestinians. KOPPEL (on camera): Secretary of State Powell will try to convince them otherwise when he travels to the Middle East later this month.
Andrea Koppel, CNN, the State Department.
SHAW: Up next, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson bring us back to domestic politics. Plus, we'll get their perspective on this day's shooting outside the White House.
WOODRUFF: Joining us now to talk about the political matters of the day and about the gunman apprehended near the White House, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of the "Weekly Standard."
Tucker, to you first. Should there be tighter security, do you think, at the White House?
TUCKER CARLSON, "WEEKLY STANDARD," CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's awfully tight already, as anybody who's, you know, made funny gestures outside the White House has learned pretty quickly. And I mean, you could, you know, close it down or relocate to Camp David permanently but I mean given the sort of the symbolic requirements of the White House being open and giving the, you know, Bush's intention to open up Pennsylvania Avenue, it's hard to see how it could be tighter.
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Everything that should have happened did happen. It seemed to be everybody behaved properly and did their roles and, you know, the -- it may quiet for a while the move to take away the little park in front of the White House where you have the bunkers on either side so cars can't drive past. I think that is perfectly eminently reasonable.
WOODRUFF: Let's move to tax cut. Tucker, the President, $1.6 trillion, there are cries to make it bigger, of course, some want it much smaller. Is the President making pretty good headway on this right now?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, sure. He positions himself perfectly, in a way. He can say look, you know, it's a big tax cut, sure, but it's over 10 years and it's not the bigger, faster, $2 trillion tax cut that, you know, some of the renegade Republicans want.
MARGARET CARLSON: He programmed -- he programmed them to do this because it's...
TUCKER CARLSON: Sure, I don't think that it's out of the realm of responsibility to consider a conspiracy.
MARGARET CARLSON: No, no, no.
TUCKER CARLSON: A pretty clever move.
MARGARET CARLSON: Very clever. You know, what was interesting today was to have Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill really characterizing any comment about the tax cut being tilted towards the rich as class warfare so that any conver -- he characterized almost any conversation that you have about that as, you know, sour grapes against the rich and wanting to -- you know, the P word, populism, is so bad now you really can't have a conversation about which -- who benefits most from the tax cut according to our new Treasury Secretary.
TUCKER CARLSON: Yeah, and I think that is one of the great developments, really, of this new millennium is that populism is hard to talk about without people laughing at you. It is great.
MARGARET CARLSON: Yeah.
TUCKER CARLSON: Yeah.
WOODRUFF: Is there any part of the tax cut he's not going to get, Tucker?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, I mean the capital gains cuts that the, you know, the several Republican House members who are proposing an alternate tax cut want.
WOODRUFF: But he's not proposing it.
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, that's right. I mean, so, you know, obviously the Bush administration made a calculation early on that it's going to be difficult to argue in public for capital gain cuts or we're not going to get them.
MARGARET CARLSON: Great triangulation because he's refusing a capital gains tax cut so it makes him look like a P word, a populist, for resisting.
WOODRUFF: We keep talking about Bill Clinton. He's only been out of office a few weeks. Dan Burton in the House, Government Operations Committee, going to hold hearings, is holding hearings.
Tucker, where does this go?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, I mean, if you're looking for examples of things government does right, you know, your tax dollars at work in a positive, constructive way, the Burton hearings. Look no further. I am all for. But this story...
MARGARET CARLSON: Maybe he'll bring in the watermelon and shoot it as he did for the...
TUCKER CARLSON: Oh, I hope so.
MARGARET CARLSON: ... who murdered Vince Foster. TUCKER CARLSON: But I mean the John Harris story in the "Washington Post," it's funny, it was one of those pieces you look at and you say I knew this all along, the Gore people and the Clinton people denied it for the campaign. Thank heaven history is probably being written.
MARGARET CARLSON: Oh, yeah.
TUCKER CARLSON: We knew this but it was nice to read it.
MARGARET CARLSON: Yeah, thank god for John Harris. I mean we really are in the ninth year of the Clinton presidency because it's, it still dominates much of the conversation and we did know that they were mad at each other.
WOODRUFF: Oh, now we are all talking Clinton-Gore.
TUCKER CARLSON: Yes.
MARGARET CARLSON: Yeah, Clinton-Gore. Yeah.
WOODRUFF: You are all getting ahead of me.
MARGARET CARLSON: I'm sorry.
WOODRUFF: You're answering my questions even before...
MARGARET CARLSON: This is like JEOPARDY.
WOODRUFF: I am not going to tell in the future what questions I am going to ask. You don't need me. You can just...
MARGARET CARLSON: We will give our answers in the form a question.
WOODRUFF: All right, well, no more on Dan Burton. But on this really remarkable story about Gore asking for a meeting with the President, the President, and the two men talking about what went wrong in the Gore campaign, it had to be fascinating.
MARGARET CARLSON: Gore for $1, 000, OK? He was so wrong to do this in that, first of all, Clinton does not like being confronted or hearing the truth but the fact is that, you know, he did something that was so melodramatic about staying away from Clinton that it became the subplot of the campaign and then he managed to have Monica to stick to him like Velcro and the economy, be like Teflon with regard to the economy, and he didn't get that. I mean it was...
TUCKER CARLSON: I think it was actually absolutely right for the reason you just described. It was true. Gore's criticisms are fundamentally true. And it also helps explain the one unanswered question of the campaign, which is, why didn't Gore make better use of Clinton? And the Gore people knew all along because they did extensive polling and focus grouping on it that Clinton didn't help in key places. MARGARET CARLSON: In some places, but in other places that he did, for instance, Florida, imagine what might have happened if he'd gone there during the last 10 days.
WOODRUFF: Does it matter whether the two iron this out or not? I mean can they remain enemies or whatever their relationship is now?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, it does...
WOODRUFF: Tucker, I mean for Gore's future aspirations?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, I mean I think it does matter because Clinton is essentially running the Democratic Party. I mean, you know, he installed Terry McAuliffe. I mean Clinton has a huge effect on where the Democrats go and that includes who gets chosen in 2004 and at this point Gore is still, you know, officially the front- runner. So, yeah it matters.
MARGARET CARLSON: Yeah. And, I mean, Clinton elevated Gore to Vice President and in a sense they still remain in that configuration since Gore didn't win the election. I hate to say he lost the election. But he does not want to be seen as a sore loser going forward because Clinton will be the sunny face and Gore will be the scowling face.
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to leave it there.
TUCKER CARLSON: But we could go on.
WOODRUFF: In the future, you're not getting the questions ahead of time. Tucker and Margaret -- I know you could go on.
TUCKER CARLSON: I'm reading your pages.
WOODRUFF: Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson, thank you both.
And there's still much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll have the latest on the White House gunman plus a reported showdown between the former President and the Presidential hopeful, the one we've been talking about. We will talk to the "Washington Post's" John Harris about that post-election meeting between Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Also, we are just minutes away from a scheduled shuttle launch, which we will bring you live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
WOODRUFF: Outside the White House, a search for evidence as the investigation into today's shooting incident continues.
SHAW: At this hour, the alert is over. The President is safe and the suspect is in the hospital. We'll have live updates.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.
SHAW: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. Officials in the U.S. Attorney's office here in Washington say they will decide by tomorrow whether to file a federal or local charge against Robert Pickett of Indiana. Authorities say Pickett brandished a gun outside the gates of the White House today and he was shot in the knee by a Secret Service agent after he refused to surrender.
For the very latest on this case, we go back to our Senior White House Correspondent John King. John?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, we're also told the revolver has been recovered in this investigation, a five-shot revolver, and that several shots were fired from that gun before the Secret Service encountered Mr. Pickett, one Secret Service officer shooting him in the leg. That is why he is now being treated at the George Washington University Hospital.
We got a sense of all this at about 11:30 this morning, those of us inside the White House gates alerted to it by extraordinary activity inside these gates by Secret Service officials scrambling around the compound. We had no immediate word of what that was as we saw agents running to positions throughout the compound.
But it turned out in the end they were establishing routine security perimeters inside the grounds in response to that incident outside the White House gates, back outside the southern gate of the White House near the Ellipse.
Now, as all this played out, you mentioned the encounter with the gunman, both the President and the Vice President in the residence at the time, George W. Bush in the official residence exercising, the Vice President, Dick Cheney, in his West Wing office.
The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, making clear they were immediately alerted but they were never at risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has full faith in the Secret Service, so the President understood that he was not in any danger and the President, again, we all have full faith in the Secret Service here. They're professionals. They do their job and they do it well. It's unfortunate that it ever comes to this point, but if it ever does, the Secret Service serves our nation very, very ably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, once the suspect was taken into custody, there was a search of the grounds for several hours, looking for any evidence related to this incident. We're told the casing from the one shot fired by the Secret Service officer has been found. Again, a revolver has also been found that belonged to the suspect, Mr. Pickett, now in custody at the hospital, that revolver being analyzed, as well.
Sources telling us that at no time did he shoot at the officers, but they have confirmed that he fired several shots in the vicinity of the White House. They cannot say at the White House. They're not sure of that. But he did fire shots before the officers approached him. Once he was taken into custody, the investigation, of course, now beginning and Secret Service sources stressing at no point did he try to enter the White House grounds or try to jump the fence.
They're trying to figure out now exactly why he was here, although they do say indications are this is a suicidal man who perhaps came to an area so close to the White House in an effort to draw attention to himself.
SHAW: John, I'm curious, while the shooting incident happened on the south side of the White House by the Ellipse, on the north side is Pennsylvania Avenue, which remains closed. How might this incident affect those who want to see the Avenue opened?
KING: Well, certainly among those who want to see the Avenue kept closed is the Secret Service, and they will, we are told, use this incident once again to make the case that you cannot allow unlimited access to the front of the building, or the back of the building, actually, the Pennsylvania Ave. side of the building.
We know that President Bush promised to look into that and the Republican Party's platform, indeed, called for Pennsylvania Avenue to be reopened. Since he has been in office and during the transition, we understand President Bush has spoken to the Secret Service about this issue. He has spoken to Mayor Anthony Williams of the District of Columbia as well. The White House says it is still under review, that the President has made no decision.
But again, the White House saying repeatedly today how much the President respects the work of the Secret Service. We know among those arguing against reopening Pennsylvania Avenue is that very same Secret Service.
SHAW: Thank you. John King with the latest from the White House -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: For an update on the suspect, Robert Pickett, let's go to our Charles Bierbauer. He's at George Washington University Hospital here in Washington -- Charles?
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, Mr. Pickett is described as medically stable. He was scheduled to have orthopedic surgery on his right knee during the past hour. No word on whether that surgery has yet taken place or completed or how it has proceeded. But the surgeons would be looking to remove bone fragments and if possible, the bullet from that damaged right knee.
Pickett was described as calm and conscious when he was brought to the hospital, which is just about six blocks from the White House. And in fact, an emergency medical physician who treated him and spent about 20 minute with him described him as silent and motionless. Physicians here say that's a very unusual demeanor for a gunshot victim, who is usually in great pain and great anguish. Pickett is also undergoing psychiatric evaluation because of the nature of the wound and where it took place, just outside the White House. And while he was here at George Washington University Hospital, in his home town of Evansville, Indiana, Secret Service agents were searching his home.
According to information obtained from the search warrant obtained by the Secret Service agents, they were looking for firearms. They were looking for threatening letters or computer equipment that might possibly contain letters addressed to either President Bush or other government officials, and they were looking for evidence of involvement with militia groups. Those were the things which they said they were going to search for and which they listed in obtaining the search warrant in Evansville, Indiana.
Thereto, we talked with Steven Yurks, who is a friend of the suspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE YURKS, SUSPECT'S FRIEND: It's a terrible, terrible ordeal, but I just deep down inside almost chuckled because that is Robert. He is an enigma. He is a very private person. He would never hurt anybody, I don't believe. But it was his way of saying, help me, maybe the system is wronging me, and you know, they're wronging him, and again, he's tired of second fiddle and always in the shadow, and maybe now he's not for the first time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BIERBAUER: And that's the latest about what we know about Robert Pickett, age 47, a tax accountant from Evansville, Indiana who is in medically stabile condition here at George Washington University Hospital in Washington -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Charles Bierbauer reporting, thanks -- Bernie.
SHAW: As police try to determine exactly what happened outside the White House, they have been interviewing people who were in the area trying to learn what they saw or heard. News organizations have been doing the same thing.
Let's listen now to some of those witnesses as well as our reporters who were at the White House when this story broke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 11:36 this morning...
WALLACE: There is a helicopter circling the White House perimeter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A single gunman was seen outside of the southwest gate of the White house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw guns drawn. We saw police running as fast as they could in different directions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was just exiting the self-guided tour and I was walking out they started closing the big iron gates behind us and the security people tried to usher us out real orderly, but they were definitely telling you to get out.
GERALDINE HALLIBURTON, WITNESS: And I made a joke, saying they're going to shoot us, huh? And he said, oh, that was just fireworks, firecracker. He said but you know what, they'll be here in a minute, the police and stuff. And time we looked around, they were there just like that.
MARTIN MALLEY, WITNESS: Within three or four minutes several police cars were pulling up. I was directly on the opposite side of the street as the Halliburtons, and I didn't realize how serious it was until the police were jumping out of their cars with guns drawn and they were hiding behind large trees.
So that's when I got down and they probably talked to him for, I would say, a good 10, 15 minutes, and all I could make out was, you know, drop the gun. It doesn't have to be this way. We can talk to you.
WALLACE: So does that appear to have been the time he was shot?
MALLEY: Yes, there was just a single gunshot. The police had him surrounded for a good 15 minutes before I heard that single gunshot, and then immediately they all just converged on him. And then they brought an ambulance in and they were gone shortly after.
WOODRUFF: Up next, we are just minutes away from the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. We'll bring you live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center when we come back.
Also ahead, the last days of the Clinton presidency, and reports of a tough face-to-face discussion between the president and Al Gore.
WOODRUFF: In Florida, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off just moments from now. And for the latest, let's go to our CNN space correspondent Miles O'Brien. He's at the Kennedy Space Center -- Miles
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Judy. It's a beautiful day here at the Kennedy Space Center. Has been all day. The only weather issue on this past day has been the weather at a potential trans-Atlantic abort landing site at Morocco.
All that has cleared up and were are now two minutes and 39 seconds away from the expected lift off of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And joining me live here at the Cape to walk us through what is going on in the Orbiter and up through its ascent and on its way into space is Mike Lopez Alegria, who was on the last -- excuse me, the second- to-last mission to the International Space Station and conducted a series of space walks out there. Knows a lot about what is going on at the International Space Station.
Inside Atlantis is the $1.4 billion Destiny Scientific Laboratory. Mike, put that in perspective. Why is that an important piece for the space station?
MICHAEL LOPEZ ALEGRIA, ASTRONAUT: Well, two reasons, Miles. First it's the first science capability we're going to have. The lab is outfitted with a rack accommodation modules able which will be able to accept different types of experiments so we can do our first science.
And, secondly, it's going to be sort of the new command post for the whole space station, sort of shifting the command and control from the Russian segment over to the American segment. This is a process that will take a couple of weeks. But once it's done, we'll be running the show out of Houston through Destiny.
O'BRIEN: All right, the countdown now at a minute and 30 seconds. Get us into the countdown and what is going on board. Commander Ken Cockrell in the left seat, a crew of four sitting with him there. What is going on right now there and in the large control center right now?
ALEGRIA: Right, Ken's in the left seat; pilot Mark Polansky is in the right seat. Between them is Marsha Ivins, a flight engineer, and they are basically waiting for the next minute, monitoring some systems. But all the APUs, the auxiliary power units which gimbal the motors have all been checked out already.
The engine start is the next sequence, and that will happen at t- minus six seconds. They'll be paying very close attention to that, as will the computers on the ground which will make sure that the three engines are at nominal thrust and 100 percent before igniting the solid rocket boosters, which will happen at t-minus zero.
O'BRIEN: Let's listen in for a minute to George Diller, who is NASA public affairs as he describes these last few moments now, at about 34 seconds to launch, here, the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... computer is now controlling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-five seconds, 20 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: R&J armed. Sound suppression water system now activated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, go for main engine start, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 and liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis with Destiny, a science laboratory for the 21st century.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston now controlling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston Atlantis program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, roll Atlantis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The roll maneuver is complete aboard Atlantis. The vehicle is now in a heads-down position on course for a 51.6 degree, 201 statute mile orbit. Approaching 30 seconds into the flight. They're preparing to begin throttle down of the main engines as the vehicle prepares to pass through the area of maximum dynamic pressure on the orbiter.
O'BRIEN: You're listening to the voice of Kyle Herring, who is at NASA's Houston public affairs commentator, and Mike, what we're looking at right there is the tremendous thrust of the solid rocket boosters. A good 80 percent of the work of getting a shuttle to space is done by the solid rocket boosters, isn't it?
ALEGRIA: That's right. The two boosters combined produce about 7.2 million...
O'BRIEN: Go with throttle up, indicating...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... approaching one minute and 10 seconds into the flight. All systems in good shape. The hydraulic systems, auxiliary power unites in excellent shape as are the electricity producing fuel cells aboard the vehicle.
Atlantis already traveling 1500 miles per hour. Downrange from the launch site 10 miles at an altitude of 13 miles. One minute and 30 seconds into the flight. At this point, Atlantis has already burned more than two million pounds of fuel and weighs half of what it did at launch.
ALEGRIA: Miles, it's burning nine tons of propellant per second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... smoothly aboard the orbiter.
O'BRIEN: If you take a look at that wide shot, that is one of the most spectacular sights I have even seen, Mike. Yes, the plume is lit up by the sun.
ALEGRIA: Right, just after sunset here, but the plume is clearly in the part of the sky that is still lit. In fact, you can see the terminator quite clearly, which is a transition between night and day. Where they are it's still day. Where you are down here it's technically night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two minutes, 10 seconds into the flight. Atlantis traveling 3,000 miles per hour at an altitude of 31 miles, downrange from the launch site 40 miles.
O'BRIEN: All right, the solid rocket boosters having done their job. And Mike Lopez Alegria, I know everybody in NASA and in the space program who knows anything about the shuttle breathes a sigh of relief when they see those solids wafting their way down to the ocean to be refurbished and used for yet another mission. That was a spectacular sight, indeed, and the space shuttle on its way to do an important job in the International Space Station, really getting a significant piece on this mission.
ALEGRIA: Yes, this is a big milestone. We're sort of on a roll here, starting with our launch in October, followed by a foray in November and December and now this flight. This is a big chunk of the assembly that is really going to get the ball rolling.
O'BRIEN: Mike Lopez Alegria, thanks for joining us. We will continue, of course, to watch the Space Shuttle Atlantis as it continues its flight up to orbit. It's got another five minutes before its actually in space, and we'll be watching it closely. We'll let you know if there's any problems along the way. But we are watching it closely here.
Miles O'Brien CNN, reporting live from the Kennedy Space Center.
WOODRUFF: Thanks, Miles. We never get tired of looking at those remarkable picture -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Judy. From Los Angeles, we have word that singer and actress Dale Evans has died. Evans worked with her husband, Roy Rogers, in a series of popular western movies and a TV show. She also co-wrote their theme song, "Happy Trails to You." A family spokesman says Dale Evans was 88 years old.
And now CNN's Gloria Hillard has this look back at her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ROY ROGERS SHOW")
ANNOUNCER: "The Roy Rogers Show," starring Roy Rogers, king of the cowboys; Trigger, his golden palomino; and Dale Evans, queen of the West.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA HILLARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before Dale Evans was known to an entire generation as queen of the West, she was a singer, born Frances Octavia Smith in Texas. She took the stage name Dale Evans in the beginning of her career. In 1944, she was cast as a leading lady in "The Cowboy and the Senorita." The cowboy was Roy Rogers.
DALE EVANS. ACTRESS: I liked him. We hit it off together because he's so much like my brother. I mean, Roy is like, I am what I am and that's it.
HILLARD: They made a number of westerns together. They were married in 1947. It was her fourth marriage. Her first marriage was at the age of 14 in Texas.
In the 1950s, the singing cowboy and the young woman who dreamed of Broadway became cultural icons to a generation, starring together in "The Roy Rogers Show" from 1951-1956.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ROY ROGERS SHOW")
ROY ROGERS, ACTOR: Stedman (ph) faked his part of the fight.
EVANS: Roy, how can you be so sure. You were pretty busy yourself at that moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EVANS: Always a smart aleck, I played, and the kids, you know, would get so angry with me because of the way I treated Roy because I was such a sharpy smart aleck, you know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ROY ROGERS SHOW")
ROGERS: How long ago did they leave?
EVANS: Oh, it seems like hours, but I guess just a few minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER: I'm wasn't allowed to do that in the pictures.
EVANS: We have survived lots of tragedies, you know?
ROGERS: Forty-four years, too.
HILLARD: The loss of their only child together to Down's Syndrome inspired Evans to write the first of many books. In later years, Evans hosted a religious program, and the couple enjoyed a life greeting fans at their museum in Victorville, California.
EVANS: People have been so nice and so loving and so wonderful, really, it makes you quite humble.
HILLARD: In 1998, Roy Rogers died. They had been married 51 years. And the theme song written by Evans nearly a half century ago, now takes on a special poignancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE ROY ROGERS SHOW")
ROGERS AND EVANS (singing): Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smiling until then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: In Florida, Miami Mayor Joe Carollo is in the county jail at this hour, charged with a misdemeanor after his estranged wife accused him of domestic violence. Police say Carollo was arrested at the family's home this morning after his 12-year-old daughter called 911. Carollo's wife, Maria, who is seeking a divorce after 15 years of marriage, told authorities she got into a fight with her husband and then he struck her with a hard object. Police report a golf ball- sized bump on the left of Mrs. Carollo's temple. Carollo is charged with simple battery. His lawyers reportedly are still trying to get him released on bond -- Bernie.
SHAW: Now to a feud of a different sort.
In today's edition of "The Washington Post," there is a featured piece on one of the last private meetings between Vice President Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton. It happened during the last days of the Clinton presidency, and according to "The Washington Post" writer, John Harris, it centered on the reasons behind Gore's election defeat.
John Harris joins us from "The Post" news room. John, take us into that conversation. What was Gore's demeanor? What was Clinton's?
JOHN HARRIS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, remember, Bernie, there were two people in that meeting only. And without getting into sources, I can tell you I didn't talk to either Bill Clinton or Al Gore. I did talk to a number of people around -- close to both of them. And this meeting had an echo because certainly Clinton and I think also Gore came out of this meeting quite struck by just what a remarkable exchange it was.
Gore sought the meeting. He hadn't really had a substantive meeting for months or longer with the man he used to meet weekly. And the thrust of the meeting was in very sharp language, Gore coming in to tell Clinton that he thought Clinton's sex scandal and his low personal approval ratings were the major impediment for his -- for Gore's presidential campaign.
Clinton apparently taken back, at least initially, and then came back also quite forcefully himself and said no, Gore, you've got it wrong. The problem with your campaign was that you did not run on the record of this administration that was right there for you to take and run with.
SHAW: Now, beneath all of this, was one of the reasons for Al Gore's fury, his anger, the fact that he was lied to?
HARRIS: You hear different explanations from people close to Gore. Certainly he resented both the behavior that got President Clinton in trouble, and resented being lied to. But I think also the most practical level of self-interest. He thought it was a major impediment to him becoming president, and he didn't think much thanks for what was most by most accounts extremely loyal service that he gave Bill Clinton for at least seven of the eight years.
SHAW: Now, are the Clinton and Gore aides drawing the wagons around their man? Your piece indicates that Clinton's people felt that Gore and Lieberman lost four debates. HARRIS: Yes, they're really irritated by a lot of the postmortems going on in the wake of the 2000 campaign. Why did Gore not win? People say he didn't lose because he was ahead in the popular vote, but he certainly didn't become president.
And they're irritated with what they see as the Gore spin saying it was Clinton's fault, as Gore himself said in this meeting. And they really think that analysis is just plain wrong and they think it's also really unfair to Clinton. Not that Clinton wasn't somewhat of a problem, but they though he was an easily -- the downside of Clinton was much, much smaller than the potential upside if only Gore was willing to take advantage of it.
SHAW: John, I want to bring in CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield to get your thoughts on the Clinton-Gore relationship?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, I think this meeting that John accidentally scoped out is sort of the end game of something that was going on all during the campaign, and it wasn't even below the surface.
You may remember, Bernie, at the very first debate in October of 1999 in New Hampshire, somebody asked Al Gore a question about campaign finance reform, and Gore answered well, you know a lot of us like you are disappointed and angry at the behavior of President Clinton. I was myself.
He was, I believe and the folks I've talked to from the Gore campaign certainly believe, felt so strongly, as John said, that the sex scandals had put a 100-pound boulder on his back, that that's one of the reasons, some of them suggest, why Gore wasn't willing to run on the record, whether it was psychological or something else. He couldn't get to the record because he couldn't get past what he thought was Clinton's behavior that had put him in a deficit he shouldn't be in.
SHAW: And did he also feel that it would be just too calculating to completely ignore the sex scandal and concentrate on the record they had constructed over eight years?
GREENFIELD: As I understand it, Clinton actually said to the Gore campaign, look, I've got a great approval rating on my job. I've got a lousy approval rating on my personality. So why don't you guys run on my record?
And I'm told during a lot of the debate preps, the Gore campaign would repeatedly suggest to the candidate, you know, the advisers who were in that room, why don't you cite the record? Why don't you talk about eight years of peace and prosperity. And Gore kept saying, yes, that's a good idea and couldn't do it.
Now, the other side of this, as John indicates, is that the Clinton folks felt, hey, sex scandal or not, you have this kind of economy, you have these kinds of numbers on the economic and social front, you ought to be able to put away, you know, a governor of Texas without breaking much of a sweat. A lot of the Clinton people felt, I guess, the way you would if you had worked for say Sugar Ray Robinson and then you were watching a club fighter. They felt, you know, if Gore had one-tenth of the political skills Clinton had, this would be a runaway. So I think this meeting the way John has described it sounds like sort of the last act, everything that these two camps were saying throughout the campaign.
SHAW: And quickly, John Harris, to you. What's this about former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta being furious over the fact that Clinton is taking the blame for the pranks that were pulled in the executive office building when, in fact, Podesta thinks that most of the this stuff occurred in the vice president's offices?
HARRIS: Well, Podesta, as I understand it and most of the Clinton people think, first off, that the accounts of vandalism are just completely or almost entirely fabricated. That what did happen was more in the realm of juvenile pranks rather than property destruction.
Most of those pranks, and I think the media coverage hasn't really explained this in detail, did in fact occur in the vice president's office. I think a lot of the Clinton West Wing people feel like the Gore people should raise their hand and take responsibility for that.
SHAW: OK, John Harris of "The Washington Post." His piece on the front page below the fold is titled "Clinton and Gore Clashed over Blame for the Election." And, of course, our CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield in New York. Gentleman, thanks very much.
HARRIS: Thank you.
GREENFIELD: Thank you.
SHAW: You're quite welcome. Interesting.
WOODRUFF: Some story.
WOODRUFF: That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com; AOL keyword, CNN.
SHAW: These programming note: At 9:00 p.m., Attorney General John Ashcroft will be the guest on "LARRY KING LIVE." I'm Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "MONEYLINE" is next.
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