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Is Bush Becoming Environment-Friendly?; Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing Observed; Who Stands the Best Chances to Join State Governments?

Aired April 19, 2001 - 17:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the toxic Texan!


ANNOUNCER: Amid attacks on his environmental policies, President Bush takes a stand on toxic chemicals.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The risks are great and the need for action is clear.


ANNOUNCER: Former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile shares her views on the Bush presidency and her own future.




ANNOUNCER: The somber anniversary in Oklahoma on a date that is living in infamy.

Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, the White House insists it has no political motives. But when the president crams several environmental announcements into a single week, political observers are likely to read between the lines. And that is exactly what's happening again today after the president staked his ground against toxic chemicals.

We get more from our White House correspondent Kelly Wallace. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush uses a rose garden appearance to back an international treaty negotiated by his predecessor, wiping out the use of a dozen toxic chemicals.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now a Republican administration will continue and complete the work of a democratic administration. This is the way environmental policy should work.

WALLACE: This, the latest in a series of public announcements to tout the administration's environmental actions. Just this week alone the White House pledged to look into lowering arsenic levels in drinking water and upheld Clinton administration regulations, such as requiring more businesses to reveal their lead emissions and protecting wetlands from development.

DEB CALLAHAN, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: We knew that the week before Earth Day the Bush administration intended to do a few things that would make the president and the administration look like they were trying to be pro-environmental.

WALLACE: Publicly, the White House says it is focusing on policy, not politics.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We take actions based on science, not base don public relations.

WALLACE: Still, Fleischer conceded the administration's strategy has been to highlight one issue at a time to get the public's attention, touting education during week No. 1 and the environment this week.

At the same time, White House aides privately say they could have done a better job, balancing decisions early on that were criticized as anti-environment with actions viewed as environmentally friendly.

MARSHALL WITTMAN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: What we're seeing is a massive attempt at political damage control. The last few weeks have been, to the Bush administration, on the environment what gays in the military was to the Clinton administration: a public relations debacle.

WALLACE: Still, when it comes to the president's handling of the environment, a plurality of Americans think he is doing a good job. However, Republican strategists say the concern for the White House is if any anti-environment label begins to stick.


WALLACE: The thinking being that such a label could lead to an administration viewed as favoring business interests over environmental concerns, something that would not sit well with moderates in the president's own party, whom he needs to get his domestic agenda passed -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, going back to the treaty that you mentioned, what about that? The president may send it back to the Senate; is there support there if he were to do so?

WALLACE: Well it appears -- environmentalists, even, saying there appears to be broad bipartisan support for this treaty. Also, one factor many people pointing out today, this treaty not likely to have a big impact here in the United States. Since most of these chemicals are already banned, it would have more of an impact on the less-developing world.

Environmentalists though, Judy, say they want to see the president's actions. They want to see how hard he lobbies the U.S. Senate to get it approved and what he does on the world stage to get other countries to ratify it -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right; Kelly Wallace at the White House.

For more on environmental politics, we're joined by our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, does the president have a credibility problem when it comes to environmental issues?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well yes, he does. You know, his ratings have always been fairly low on the environment. Voters know he's a businessman who has roots in the energy industry, and his environmental record in Texas, you'll remember, was an issue of controversy in last year's campaign.

Well, earlier this month the Gallup Poll asked people whether they thought President Bush would do a good job handling the three "E"s: economy, energy and the environment. Result: confidence was highest on the economy, where 60 percent think the president will do a good job. Most people also think he'll do a good job improving the nation's energy policies. But the environment: not so good. Just under half expect the president to do a good job on the environment. It is not his best subject.

WOODRUFF: Now, when it comings to the issue of the environment, Bill, are there particular groups of voters who are more affected by this than others?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, the conventional wisdom is that it presents a big problem for President Bush with suburban mothers: arsenic in the drinking water! Now, have soccer moms turned against President Bush? Well there really is no evidence of that yet. Most suburban mothers continue to express confidence in President Bush's handling of the environment.

Where does he have his biggest problem? With a group that conservatives just love to hate: the super-educated; people with graduate degrees. They're the professional upper-middle class. George Wallace used to call them pointy headed intellectuals and they've more recently been called yuppies. They are just as numerous as soccer moms, but only 1/3 of them have confidence in President Bush on the environment.

The administration's environmental problems have really hurt Bush among the well-educated opinion leaders, but so far no evidence of damage among those suburban mothers.

WOODRUFF: But you're not saying suburban mothers don't care about the environment at all?

SCHNEIDER: Well, of course they do. In fact, they care about it more than the educated elite. For instance, in last month's Gallup Poll fewer than 1/2 of suburban mothers said they thought the country's environment was in good shape. The educated elite was far more positive. Suburban mothers were much more likely to express concern about toxic waste and the pollution of drinking water.

Bush's high marks are not because suburban mothers are less concerned about the environment, it's because they're more likely to balance environmental concerns against economic and energy needs. The educated elite are more likely to put the environment first; they don't have as many economic problems.

The bottom line: President Bush has lost support with the educated elite. Swing voters are still with the president. But he's got to be careful because those voters -- those suburban moms are very much worried about environmental safety -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right; Bill Schneider, thank you very much.


WOODRUFF: The president's former rival, Al Gore, has remained silent, at least in public, about Mr. Bush's environmental policies. But Gore says his strong views about preserving the environment are well-known. As Gore has stepped out of the spotlight for now, members of his 2000 campaign team have been looking for new ventures and challenges.

Former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile joins us now from Boston.

Donna Brazile, first of all, why haven't we heard more from the vice president -- the former vice president on these environmental questions?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you know, I think it's a new season in American politics and Al Gore is teaching in New York and California, and back in his home state in Tennessee. He will speak out at the appropriate time.

WOODRUFF: But is it a measure of his concern at all that we haven't heard from him over these last few weeks, as one issue after another has come up?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, many of us would like the vice president to speak up because we know how strongly he feels about these issues and we know he ran on a campaign promise to help continue to clean up our environment. But on the other hand, I believe he's made a correct decision to allow this administration to set its own record and set its own course. And there will come a time when Al Gore will speak up.

WOODRUFF: After what we've seen the last few days, Donna Brazile, is President Bush turning out to be more pro-environment than it appeared a few weeks ago?

BRAZILE: I don't believe he's turned out to be a compassionate conservative. I think he ran down the middle and he's become a right- wing president. I'm glad to see that he's making moves now to retract some of the earlier stances and positions he's taken on the environment. And perhaps this president will see the light and -- with the wonderful air I understand that you all have and the weather in Washington, D.C., perhaps the president will begin to put together a bipartisan coalition to really discuss these issues, discuss education, discuss, you know, tax reform -- come back to the table and talk to the Democratic Party about some of these issues.

WOODRUFF: Well, why do you say you don't think he's a compassionate conservative? I mean, he is rethinking, evidently, some of these environmental questions. He's now saying, with the focus on education reform coming up next week, that Democrats are agreeing with the core of his plan.

BRAZILE: Well, he ran on his platform. He ran on the platform that said that he would try to change the tune in Washington, D.C., and I think he tried early on when he invited some democratic leaders over for popcorn, but all we're left now is with the crumbs. We're not really sitting down at the table -- election reform is all but dead-on Capitol Hill. Hopefully the Democratic Party will revive it.

Nothing in his budget proposals will lend itself to any type of compassion for America's children. He said he would not leave anyone behind, and yet he's going to leave a whole bunch of poor children behind on fixing some of the problems that ail poor people in this country.

So I'm not in Washington. Luckily, I've spent the last 100 days of -- his first 100 days up here in Cambridge with students at the Institute of Politics, and I've enjoyed my time up here, and it's time for me to go, to paraphrase Al Gore. And hopefully I'll come back to Washington and help out my party to get ready for the 2002 elections.

WOODRUFF: Well, I do want to ask you about your own plans in just a moment, Donna Brazile. But let me first ask you about a Supreme Court ruling yesterday on Congressional redistricting.

In essence, the court ruling that race can be an element in deciding on redistricting, so long as it's not a controlling factor. Now, Republicans are saying they won this, Democrats saying that they won. How do you see it?

BRAZILE: Well, I agree with both of them. I do believe that we won. The Democrats won in this case as well, the five-four decision. Once again, a very close decision. Mel Watts' district, a district that was being considered by the Supreme Court. It's now 49 percent. You know, when these state legislatures gather this summer to reapportion and redirect their districts, what they are trying to do is really come up with districts that make sense.

And I don't believe that race has been a dominant factor in some of those districts. I think politics has been a dominant factor in looking at ways for, you know, political parties to have an advantage.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about something going on in Missouri, where the House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, whom I know you have been close to, is involved in a really bitter redistricting battle with freshmen Congressman William Clay, who is proposing, anyway -- who happens to be African-American -- who's proposing to scoop up something like 70,000 Democrats in the Gephardt district and redraw things so that they end up in Clay's district.

How does something like this get worked out?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm sure that Representative Gephardt and Representative Clay will sit down and break bread and try to figure it out so that they both can survive. I'm sure that Republicans in their states are pitting those two great leaders together.

And I know Dick Gephardt and I know Lacy Clay, and I'm sure that at the end of the day they will find a compromise that will reassure the voters in St. Louis that we can bring those two men back to Washington.

WOODRUFF: Well, right now Mr. Clay seems to be siding with the Republicans.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, I haven't talked to Mr. Gephardt or Mr. Clay about their advantage. I haven't seen the numbers, but I trust at the end of the day the two of them will get along and work it out.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of Dick Gephardt...

BRAZILE: I know the games that can be played on both sides, though.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure you do, Donna Brazile. Speaking of Dick Gephardt, though, I want to ask you about -- you were quoted, and I don't know where, I'm sorry, as saying that you're prepared to go door-to-door for Dick Gephardt...

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: People were wondering if you meant for President or what?

BRAZILE: Well, as you well know, in 565 dates we have a most important election, I think. The 2002 midterm elections, and Dick Gephardt is a wonderful leader. He's been a great champion for working families in this country, and I'm going to help Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle who, by the way, is here at Harvard today speaking to the college Democrats. So I'm going to help those two men take back the House, take back the Senate, help our governors, and then I'll call it a day.

WOODRUFF: What if one of them or both of them were to run for president? Would you work with either one?

BRAZILE: Well, at this point, if Terry McAuliffe keeps me on the DNC -- and I'm lobbying to remain on the DNC and be a super-delegate -- I'll start off neutral. And I'm sure that sometime after November 5, 2002, I will make a decision in terms of 2004. But for now, I am focused on helping my party improve our election systems in the country.

WOODRUFF: A lot of speculation, Donna Brazile, about whether you may run for a seat in the Washington D.C. city council. Are you giving serious thought to that?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. I'll be home in a couple of weeks and I intend to meet with my neighbors and my friends and of course, my Congresswoman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Tony Williams, members of the city council, as well ANC commissioners and others. I've worked in politics for the last 20 years.

At some point, you have to start talking the talk and doing the walk, and that's running for office yourself. And I'm going to look at it. I don't know if I'll do it, but I will talk to some of those who have done it before. And I've encouraged a lot of them do it, so why not me?

WOODRUFF: So we could be talking to City Council Woman Donna Brazile at some point, although you would clearly have a fight on your hands, whichever district or at large you decided to run, right?

BRAZILE: Well, yes, and you and know what? My decision will be based primarily on serving the people of the District of Columbia. I know a lot of people there. I've worked there for Eleanor Holmes Norton as her chief of staff. We tackle many difficult problems, including helping our city get back on its feet.

I'm ready to go out and go door-to-door for myself, pass out envelopes, go to Metro stops. And you know what? I'm not afraid. I think -- we got rid of those punch card machines in Washington, D.C. and I'm sure we'll count the votes and I'll win on November 5, 2002, if I decide to run.

WOODRUFF: Last quick question: Do you think Al Gore is going to run again?

BRAZILE: I don't know. I haven't talked to Al Gore in a couple of weeks. I would encourage him to consider it. But I know he needs to talk to Tipper and the family and decide if he can make another sacrifice and do it again. If Al Gore decides to run he will have a leg up in the race, he will have tremendous support across the country. He will also have, I believe, an agenda that the American people supported in 2000, and I believe they will give him another chance in 2004. WOODRUFF: All right, Donna Brazile. Thanks very much. It's good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

BRAZILE: Thank you, Judy. Look forward to seeing you back in Washington.

WOODRUFF: And you.

Much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Right after the break we're going to talk with the Bush administration Commerce Secretary Don Evans about trade and about the high-tech industry.

We're going to look at the high-stakes show-and-tell between the U.S. and China. Just days after a Pentagon video release, Chinese officials unveil tapes of their own.

Also ahead: the power plays under the Capitol Dome. The leader of the Congressional black caucus talks about working with a Republican president.

And later: remembering Oklahoma City, six years later.


WOODRUFF: After a second round of talks in Beijing, the Bush administration is no closer to the return of the U.S. spy plane, still sitting on the tarmac on China's Hainan Island. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says the impasse will likely factor into President Bush's policy decisions regarding China. With the talks over for now, Chinese officials are making their case public, with the release of evidence that they say proves that the U.S. plane was at fault.

CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports.


REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The war of words has escalated into a war of images. Soon after talks ended inconclusively, the Chinese government made public some of the video it showed to U.S. negotiators.

This tape shows what appears to be U.S. F-18 fighter jets flying close to a Chinese aircraft. Still photographs show what looks like an F-14 Tomcat, the U.S. pilot taking a picture of the Chinese pilot, taking a picture. However, no EP-3 surveillance craft like the one involved in the collision were shown. Computer animation enacted China's version of the April 1 collision, in which the EP-3 turned sharply, hitting the Chinese F-8 fighter jet with its wing, then hitting it again from the front as the Chinese plane broke up.

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said paint from the Chinese plane found on the front of the EP-3's propeller proves that the F-8 couldn't have hit it from underneath, as the U.S. claims.

ZHANG QIYUE, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): This evidence of the Chinese side proves that the crash of the Chinese military plane was caused entirely by the provocative acts of the U.S. plane.

MACKINNON: After what U.S. officials described as a frustrating session on Wednesday, the U.S. side says it refused to return to the Foreign Ministry Thursday without guarantees that Chinese negotiators would discuss U.S. demands to return the EP-3 surveillance plane. Negotiators implied that did indeed happen.

PETER VERGA, U.S. NEGOTIATOR: I'll simply say we've covered all the items that were on the agenda, and I found today's session to be very productive.

MACKINNON: But if the return of the EP-3 was discussed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry would not admit it, indicating that's not China's top priority anyway.

QIYUE (through translator): In the current round of negotiations, the major questions for discussion included the cause of this incident, the end of reconnaissance activities near China's coast, ways to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents and other related issues.

MACKINNON (on camera): When asked what China will do if the U.S. does resume surveillance flights in the coming days, the spokeswoman would only repeat China's demand that the U.S. put an end to all such flights, but she did make it clear China believes it's up to Washington, not Beijing, to repair any damage now done to the relationship and prevent any further damage in the future.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.


WOODRUFF: Up next: a check of some of the day's other top stories, including the latest on the stock market, and the shuttle Endeavour lifts off on a new mission.



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

Dozens of homes in the upper Midwest are flooded, and levies are reaching their breaking point. A 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi river has been closed to all commercial traffic, from just south of Davenport, Iowa, north to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Officials say the fast-moving water has become too dangerous for commercial traffic.

The Mississippi is cresting lower than expected in Wisconsin, but it's still rising downstream, which has forced the Coast Guard to take action. The Iowa National Guard has nearly doubled its flood-fighting efforts, with 160 members of the guard now helping out. The National Weather Service predicts the Mississippi river could crest at near- record levels by the middle of next week.

Another tough day for firefighters in Florida. Several wildfires are burning across the state. Fire crews in Charlotte county on the Gulf Coast are battling six fires. Officials say those are out of control because of strong winds, and all of them have been labeled as "suspicious." Officials say that a big fire in Sarasota county is at least 50 percent contained. More than 2,000 wildfires have broken out in the state since January, burning more than 162,000 acres.

The shuttle Endeavour blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. Next stop, the international space station. The shuttle is carrying an important and very big piece of equipment for the station, a billion-dollar robotic arm. It will be used for future expansion of the space station.

The twin baby girls who were the focus of an international Internet adoption dispute are back in their native Missouri. The 9- month-olds were twice sold over the Internet by their natural mother. The first time was to a U.S. couple, the second time to a couple from Wales, who took the girls to Britain. The babies were later seized by social workers. Yesterday, British officials said the twins were back in their birth country, in St. Louis, and staying with foster parents.

There are contract talks scheduled for the first time since the pilots at Comair went on strike 22 days ago. The pilots are asking for a pay hike, better retirement funding and more rest between flights. The talks, through the National Mediation Board, are scheduled to take place in Washington next Wednesday through Friday. Before the strike, Comair operated 800 flights per day in 95 cities.

The day after the unexpected interest rate cut, the markets posted solid gains. The Dow was up almost 78 points today, after Wednesday's jump of almost 400 points. But the Nasdaq posted a solid 102-point gain, and that followed Wednesday's 155-point increase.

There's much more on what factors moved the markets today on the "MONEYLINE NEWSHOUR," and that comes up right after INSIDE POLITICS, at 6:30 Eastern.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: remembering the victims of Oklahoma City. Families and friends gather six years after the explosion that killed 168 people.


WOODRUFF: Six years to the very moment, survivors and loved ones of those killed in the 1995 bombing gathered today in Oklahoma City. Nearby, church bells range at 9:02 a.m. local time, the exact moment the bomb went off at the Murrah Federal Building. The bells were followed by 168 seconds of silence in memory of the 168 people who died in the blast. Church bells then sounded the hymn "Amazing Grace."

The service was held at the site of bombing now an outdoor memorial to the victims that includes 168 bronze and glass chairs in honor and memory of those who died. Last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft told relatives they would be able to watch the execution of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted in the bombing. Today, Ashcroft said those who died would not be forgotten.


JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Six years ago, on April 19 we witnessed the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States. Those terrifying images of what happened in Oklahoma City are still indelibly marked in our minds. Our hearts go out to the family and the friends of those who lost loved ones and who are victims of that most terrible assault, not only on those individuals, but upon America and our culture.


WOODRUFF: The Oklahoma City bombs just one deadly event that has happened on this date in recent years. Our Bruce Morton has some thoughts on how the events have changed the nation.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bad, bloody memories this week of the fire that killed some 80 Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas in 1993 and of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City two years later, in 1995.

Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, says he wanted to avenge the dead in Texas and at a smaller shootout at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho in 1992.

Now the government will execute McVeigh next month -- an act of justice or vengeance or both -- a tangle, where to start?

First, many people believe the government did act wrongly at Waco. Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms never tried to arrest cult leader David Koresh outside his compound. And at the compound they simply attacked.

Second, McVeigh's alleged vengeance killed innocent people, killed children. If anyone deserves the death penalty -- and Americans favored it 67 to 25 percent in a poll last February -- it would be he.

Which leaves one more question: Should we as a country be allowed to watch? A few reporters and officials will, of course. A few relatives and the rest, if they wish, can see it on closed-circuit television. But should the country watch?

Back in 1997, 80 percent told a CNN/"TIME" poll no -- McVeigh's execution should not be televised. "Washington Post" columnist Richard Cohen says no, that a public execution "would entertain; it would garner huge ratings." And one pay TV outlet, he notes, wants the event. "The New York Times" says a public telecast would "coarsen our society."

On the other hand, French philosopher Albert Camus wrote, "One must kill publicly, or confess that one does not feel authorized to kill." And Nat Hentoff, who writes on civil liberties said, "We demand accountability from politicians and so should not shirk our duty to witness -- and therefore be accountable for -- the executions we permit."

It's a good debate. And there is McVeigh, who seems to think he's a martyr of some sort -- whose last words were reportedly coming from a poem called "Invictis":

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." Master of your fate -- when you're strapped to a couch waiting for your government to kill you?

Maybe what we have is best. Most of us can't watch, but those relatives who want to can watch the end of a man who wasted his own life and cost us a great many others in the process. Two anniversaries this week -- bad, bloody memories.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Capitol Hill and beyond. We'll hear from the Congressional black caucus leader, and we'll check in with Stu Rothenberg on early steps on the campaign trail. Stay with us.


WOODRUFF: With President Bush still in the first 100 days of his administration, many in Washington are adjusting to the realities of a Republican White House. Among them, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, the head of the Congressional black caucus.

Our Frank Sesno spent some time with Representative Johnson to talk about the challenges and the issues she and the caucus face.


FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eddie Bernice Johnson is accustomed to the corridors of power. She's rubbed shoulders with presidents, and world leaders. It's a very long way from the world she grew up in, the segregated world of 1940s Texas, where even a visit to the department store was a harsh reminder that separate was not equal.

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D), TEXAS: They had a water fountain with ice that said whites only, so I told my mother I wanted some of the white water because it was cold.

SESNO: What did your mother tell you?

JOHNSON: She said, no, you can't do that.

SESNO: Did you rebel?

JOHNSON: I got a sip before she could stop me.

SESNO: Not much has stopped Eddie Bernice Johnson since.

She became one of the first state black leaders in Texas. Then the first African-American Congresswoman from Dallas.

JOHNSON: I never imagined that I'd be any elective office. I didn't even know that it was possible.

BUSH: Bernice Johnson from Dallas, Texas.

SESNO: Nor could she imagine she would be face-to-face with this fellow Texan.

BUSH: I appreciate you setting up the meeting, Madam chairman.

SESNO: Only now she leads the congressional black caucus, a group of 37 African-American lawmakers, all Democrats, and all very wary of George W. Bush.

JOHNSON: I like him as a person. It's just his stands on issues I don't like.

SESNO: More numerous than ever because of congressional redistricting following the last census, Johnson's group faces a dilemma: confront or cooperate with a Republican president who calls for inclusion, but whose very legitimacy many still bitterly challenge.

JOHNSON: He was put there by the 5-4 split decision of the Supreme Court. So he is president. And I respect the office. But I am not convinced, I don't think I'll ever be convinced that he was actually elected by the people.

SESNO: The congressional black caucus believes the disputed Florida balloting effectively disenfranchised thousands of black voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On November 7, 2000...

SESNO: (on camera): When the Congress met to certify the electoral vote for George W. Bush, you made your feelings very well known.

JOHNSON: We had to do it.

SESNO: You walked out.



JOHNSON: We knew it was symbolic.

SESNO (voice-over): Since that time, the president has tried to build bridges. Besides meeting with the caucus, he has visited minority schools and sought out diversity.

JOHNSON: He has a rainbow-looking cabinet, but we have no clue where most of those cabinet members stand on our issues.

SESNO (on camera): So the report card on the compassionate conservative is what?

JOHNSON: He certainly has been compassionate to our conservatives.

SESNO (voice-over): Johnson argues that on virtually every issue -- education, criminal justice, the budget, the tax cut -- the president is not representing the interests of minorities. The White House strongly disagrees.

DYLAN GLENN, BUSH ECONOMIC POLICY ADVISER: I think it's early for anyone to make judgments like that. I certainly know the president is sincere in his efforts to be the president for all Americans, and we just hope to have the opportunity to make that case.

SESNO: The recent racial upheaval in Cincinnati may be a place to start. Before the disturbances there, the president asked Attorney General John Ashcroft, whom the congressional black caucus bitterly opposed, to look into the problem of racial profiling. Johnson says Cincinnati gives Ashcroft's mission added urgency.

JOHNSON: We want something done about it. It's been studied already, and every statistic indicates it's real. And we just don't want another study. We want something done.

SESNO: Though only one in 10 black voters cast a ballot for George W. Bush, this is not a monolithic constituency. And there are divisions within the caucus. Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop has broken with CBC doctrine and supported some of the Bush tax cuts. Tennessee Representative Harold Ford has spoken favorably of some form of public school voucher program, a Bush proposal that's especially unpopular among most black lawmakers. So, Johnson is forced to mix politics with pragmatism.

JOHNSON: Our issues are too important to sit back and sulk and make ugly remarks. We have to work with whomever is in the places that'll help us, or assist us, or understand us.


SESNO: Although Johnson says she does not want bad blood with the White House, actually wants to do business, at least at the margins, the White House is under no illusions. A senior official there, Judy, says they're not trying to be trying to woo the caucus as a group, but will work on them one person at a time, appealing to each's own individual and, in some cases, rather parochial interests.

WOODRUFF: Frank, very interesting interview. When you say that she, they are prepared to do business with the White House, what -- on what, on what issues? SESNO: Well, certainly, on racial profiling as I mentioned in the report, but also, Judy, they mentioned election reform. This situation that took place in Florida cannot be underestimated. They would like to see both the hand across the aisle and some leadership on the subject from the president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: And it was interesting, that's is something that Donna Brazile also mentioned a few minutes ago.

SESNO: Duly noted.

WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno, thanks very much.

SESNO: Sure.

WOODRUFF: And now for more of political and campaign matters we turn to Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.

Stu, so much to talk about. Let's talk about a very interesting development in the state of Minnesota. A Republican was thinking about running for the U.S. Senate, but he got some phone calls, first from the White House. Tell us what happened.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Right, state rep Tim Pawlenty, a Republican leader in the state House, potentially a good candidate statewide, but still a little young, a little green. He was supposed to be the Republican candidate against Paul Wellstone, but the Republicans got some poll numbers back.

The National Republican Senate Committee did a survey in Minnesota, and found that they thought that Paul Wellstone is very, very vulnerable. But they weren't sure Pawlenty had enough stature, beef, meat to knock him off, so they decided to get a political heavyweight. And they went to the White House, Karl Rove and then finally the vice president, to work on Pawlenty to get him out of the race so that Norm Coleman, the mayor of St. Paul would have a clear shot at Wellstone. Coleman was going to run for governor, but switched races. And now the Republicans are just glowing in optimism about this.

WOODRUFF: So Karl Rove couldn't get it done, but the vice president did.

ROTHENBERG: He took a call from Vice President Cheney, and interestingly, again, the Senate committee has gone to the White House to see whether they can work on John Thune, the state's at large congressman who wants to run for governor, but the Senate committee and people in the White House would prefer that he run for the U.S. Senate.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk about some governor's races, and start in the state of Michigan. The Republicans have a nominee.

ROTHENBERG: They do. Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus. And all these races that we're going to talk about are interesting, really, because they're Republican seats with Democratic primaries. Now, on one hand, when you have a Democratic primary, you can say, the party is going to be fractured, there's going to be in- fighting, but it also reflects the value of the Democratic nomination. Take Michigan, where John Engler can't seek another term. His lieutenant governor is the likely Republican nominee. You have at least three Democrats, three top-tier Democrats, Attorney General Jennifer Granholm is interested, former Governor Jim Blanchard, and there's been a lot of talk, for weeks, for months, that Congressman David Bonior is interested, and is actually moving toward the race.

There are three serious candidates. The Republicans tend to dismiss Bonior. They have dismissed Bonior even here, they're always going to just knock off Bonior when he runs for election, and they never do so. So, I think the Democrats have three strong candidates against a Republican whose strength is questionable.

WOODRUFF: All right. New York governor. Everybody expects Pataki.

ROTHENBERG: Pataki is probably going to run again. He hasn't announced it, Governor George Pataki has not announced that he is going to run again, but everybody thinks the signs are there. And, of course, we have the Democratic primary, we know, between Andrew Cuomo, former HUD secretary, and Carl McCall, the state comptroller.

McCall thinks the nomination should be his. He's been a good party soldier. There's been a pecking order: every time it was somebody's turn, they got be a nominee. He thinks it's his turn.

And actually, he resents the fact that this outsider, this star, this celebrity, the son of a former governor, is going to try to come in and take over the party. There is bitterness there, but again, even though Governor Pataki's numbers have generally been good, there are some questions. It is New York state, went heavily for Al Gore. Democrats see an opportunity, and that's why you have a primary.

WOODRUFF: All right. Pennsylvania. You have got some names that are familiar in that state.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, classic case. The Democrats -- this is Tom Ridge, can't seek re-election, Republican governor, so there are two Democrats, Bob Casey, Jr., state auditor, a son of a former governor, very popular governor. A moderate Democrat, pro-life Democrat. And his opponent in the Democratic primary is Ed Rendell, pro-choice Democrat, former DNC chairman, former mayor of Philadelphia.

Casey has got a lot of state organizations. Rendell has lots and lots of money. Philadelphia is an asset and a liability. A heated primary, because they think that they can pick up this seat, and the likely Republican nominee -- not certain but likely -- is Mike Fisher, the attorney general. The governor has been talking about endorsing him.

There could be a Republican primary, but probably not. But in each of these cases, again, the Democrats -- the Republicans look like such good targets, they're drawing lots of Democrats. WOODRUFF: And again, this is to succeed Tom Ridge.

ROTHENBERG: Republican governor.

WOODRUFF: Last but not least, the state -- one of the states that neighbors Washington, D.C., Virginia has a governor's race coming up this year.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, and there is some polling circulating, both public and private that suggest that the Democrat, Mark Warner, has a lead in this race. There are two Republicans, we have a Republican primary here between the Lieutenant Governor John Hager and Attorney General Mark Earley.

They're both conservative. Party will pick a nominee via convention, via caucus, not through a primary. Earley is regarded as the front-runner, but Warner, who ran against John Warner almost six years ago, five years ago, and did quite well, is very wealthy, is young, is attractive, is energetic, and the Democrats look like they are potentially positioned to win this seat.

Now, it's very competitive. Virginia is a good Republican state, but some Republicans are nervous about it.

WOODRUFF: So why are the Democrats so confident?

ROTHENBERG: I think it's a couple of things. They've got a wealthy candidate, a young candidate, an attractive candidate, an energized candidate, and the sense is, with the other races too, Judy, that there is a cycle in politics, and Republicans have governed Virginia for a number of years now, as they have these other states, Michigan and New York, and maybe there is the natural ability of the non -- of the party that doesn't hold the governorship to say: "It's time for a change."

Yeah, they have made some mistakes. You know, if you are governor for eight years, you have an opportunity to make plenty of enemies along the way. And I wanted to mention, Judy, I just actually came back from Shad Planking. I think you had a story on this yesterday with Jonathan Karl. This is the annual Virginia event, the 53rd annual Shad Planking.

WOODRUFF: Tell people, who don't know, what that is.

ROTHENBERG: Well, this is -- you see the shad there on the screen. This is an annual event where southeast Virginia political figures get together for shad. There's the shad being smoked on those planks, hence "shad planking" and they get together for shad and for beer and to hear a few speeches -- only a few speeches -- but to talk a lot about the upcoming election and the cycle and Virginia politics in general. And you couldn't get there, we sent Jonathan in, but you couldn't get there, and the folks down there were very disappointed.

WOODRUFF: So, you brought me some shad?

ROTHENBERG: They were very disappointed -- we did better than that. The Wakefield Rotarian Club, which puts on -- it's a civic group down there -- it puts on the shad planking and Paul Rogers was nice enough to say that he thought since you couldn't come to the shad, maybe the shad could come to you. So Paul Rogers and Henry Dogitt (ph) were nice enough to give to me, not merely shad, but an actual...

WOODRUFF: A plank!

ROTHENBERG: ... shad plank with shad on it,and you and Al can be in shad heaven for the next couple of days dining or else put it over your mantle. I don't know. If you do choose to eat it check with your local pharmacist to make sure it's still edible. Well, this is what politics will do. They will go and eat this very bony fish and drink a lot of beer and swap political stories.

WOODRUFF: It actually looked like it tasted good when it was first stretched out there and smoked.

ROTHENBERG: Well, I wouldn't go that far to say it tasted good, but it depends how many beers you had to determine whether it tasted good. But maybe you can take the entire INSIDE POLITICS crew down to the...

WOODRUFF: Please, on my behalf, thanks to all of you who put this together and put Stu up to this. Thanks -- I thought you were going to give me a T-shirt, I didn't know you were going to give one of the fish -- of two of the fish.

ROTHENBERG: Oh, no. We wanted you to go really -- au naturale -- with the fish here. This is real.

WOODRUFF: All right, great, great. Stu Rothenberg. Now you're going to have to bring something every time you are on the show from now on.

ROTHENBERG: I will bring different foods substances from wherever I travel.

WOODRUFF: We're always hungry here. Stu Rothenberg. Thanks a lot, appreciate it. I don't know how we top that.

Still ahead, the founding chairman of the Reform party finds a new political home. I will talk with Russ Verney about where he is going and why he is making the move.


WOODRUFF: Russell Verney, a man synonymous with efforts to form a viable national third party has decided to join a new organization. The former Reform Party chairman announced today that he will become a director and national adviser to Judicial Watch. The public interest law firm is perhaps best known for its legal fightings against President Clinton, and major figures in the Clinton Administration. Russell Verney joins us now. Why do this?

RUSSELL VERNEY, FORMER REFORM PARTY CHAIRMAN: Judy, this, to me, is a continuum of what I have been doing for eight years, which is trying to instill ethics and integrity in government through the reform movement. With Ross Perot's 1992 campaign, United We Stand America, the public citizen group that formed after the campaign with the Reform Party efforts from '96 through now. It's all about setting the highest ethical standards for our government officials. And this is another opportunity to continue that. The Reform Part, nationally, is essentially gone.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask about that in a minute. Let me first ask you about Judicial Watch. As I was saying when we introduced you, it primarily known for so many investigations of President Clinton, the people in his administration. People have the impression that it's a partisan organization. Is it?

VERNEY: No, it's not. The impression is valid because it was a Democratic administration. What we find in any administration, not just Democrat or Republican, Clinton or Bush, is that people push the limits of law.

We even had a vice president who said there was no controlling legal authority to keep me from doing what I knew was wrong. What the test should be in government is, is this right are or is it wrong, as opposed to is this legal or illegal, and how far can I stretch the boundaries of the legalities.

So, you will see now, that there will be complaints filed against recently, Tom Delay, the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House, and we saw today a report that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson is entertaining donors in his office. It's not OK just because the other team's doing it now. It's either OK or it's not OK in government and that's what we'll be looking at.

WOODRUFF: Before the Bush Administration no Republicans were investigated, but you are saying now that is going to happen.

VERNEY: Well, in fact, there were Republicans investigated before, it was just the preponderance of it was -- in fact, Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time was investigated for the $300,000 loan from the bank of Bob Dole. So, there have been investigation of Republicans, but the preponderance, because there are so many elements of an administration, will be against that administration make you appear partisan, but in fact the organization is not.

WOODRUFF: Russell Verney, what is future of the Reform party?

VERNEY: The future of the Reform party rests with state and local organizations and Reform parties. It's national impact from now on is l. In the 2000 election cycle, Pat Buchanan did a hostile takeover the party, wound up with humiliating less than a half of one percent of the of vote, total. The party now only has ballot status, the right to put its candidates on the Ballot in ten states. By 2002, the midterm election will lose most of those. It has no entitlement to public funding for the year 2004 presidential election.

WOODRUFF: But you are not interested in working to try to revive it in some form?

VERNEY: I'm interested in continuing to promote the principles that we founded the Reform party and United We Stand America on which are government reform, economic reform issues, and the ethics and integrity of government. And I found that, you know, some of our other members have gone to the Reform leadership council, which promotes issues.

I've found that going to Judicial Watch gives me a great opportunity on the national stage as well as the region down around Texas to promote ethics and integrity in government. It's continuum of the Reform movement if it's not the Reform party.

WOODRUFF: So you are saying, just to get this clear, that the -- any national Reform party organization doesn't exist as far as you are concerned.

VERNEY: Right.

WOODRUFF: Except in so far as it followed Pat Buchanan last year.

VERNEY: Well, nobody's even seem him. He has been in hibernation since last November, so he's not doing anything to build. There is, in name, a national Reform party, but it has no impact. Only locally or in some isolated states will it continue to grow. Building a third party has to come from the bottom, municipal, county and state level candidates, not from the top of the federal candidates.

WOODRUFF: Very quick, one word answer: Will a third party be a factor in 2004?

VERNEY: An independent candidate could be a factor in 2004. Probably not a party.

WOODRUFF: All right. Russ Verney, thanks very much, and we'll watch you from your new post.

VERNEY: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the latest on talks between the U.S. and China. Chinese officials unveil their own version of events, complete with video and computer animations.


WOODRUFF: China enters the battle of videotapes, part of its lingering dispute with the United States.

Also ahead: the Bush administration's view on the economy and trade after yesterday's market rally and before a key summit. We'll talk to Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

And later:


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP (singing): Let there be peace on Earth and let Him...


WOODRUFF: Songs and silence mark the sixth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. No further talks between U.S. and Chinese officials are expected this week, after a second round of discussions ended in Beijing today, without any breakthroughs. The two sides remain at odds on a number of fronts, including the return of the U.S. surveillance plane that collided with a Chinese jet.

Our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, has more on the dispute between Washington and Beijing and how videotapes are figuring into it.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the battle of the videotapes, China has returned fire, claiming these videos U.S. Navy F-18s intercepting Chinese planes last year show that American pilots are guilty of the same aggressive intercepts the Pentagon accuses China of conducting.

"Nonsense," argues the Pentagon's spokesman.

REAR ADM. CRAIG QUIGLEY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The starting point of the video that they showed indeed showed the U.S. aircraft at what we would consider a prudent distance from the Chinese aircraft. And that's all we're asking for in this case, is prudent, nonaggressive, nonthreatening flying.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon says the U.S. planes appear to be at least 60 to 70 feet away, not nearly as close as this encounter with the Chinese in January.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's very, very close. He's almost probably 20 feet from our wingtip. So he's inside of our wingtip.


MCINTYRE: The Pentagon also dismissed as "a cartoon" Chinese animation that purports to show how the U.S. EP-3 veered into the straight and level Chinese jets.

QUIGLEY: And we just don't agree with that assessment at all.

MCINTYRE: A second meeting in Beijing broke up with the Pentagon-led negotiating team heading home empty-handed. China said only, it would get back"to the U.S. on its suggestion that an existing maritime consultative commission handle further negotiations, and on the U.S. demand that its plane be returned. On that, China continues to signal a hard line.

ZHANG YUANYUAN, CHINESE EMBASSY SPOKESMAN: The plane is still in China because the investigation has not been completed.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. is preparing to resume surveillance flights from the Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, flying at first flying of Hainan Island, where the U.S. says the most aggressive Chinese pilots are based. And where the U.S. says F-15's from Okinawa could fly in support.

(on camera): The Pentagon has drawn up plans for so-called escort flights, but military leaders don't really like the idea. So, sources say a compromise option is to keep F-15s flying just out of sight where they could keep watch, without being provocative. But until the Bush administration decides what it wants to do, those U.S. eavesdropping planes will stay on the ground.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


WOODRUFF: And now let's talk about a matter of considerable global importance: trade, as well as China, in the economy. President Bush leaves tomorrow for a summit of western hemisphere leaders in Quebec, and his commerce secretary, Don Evans, will be going, too.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS.

DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Thank you, Judy. Delighted to be here.

WOODRUFF: Let me begin with China. As you know very well, some members of the Bush -- I'm sorry. Some members -- Republican members of Congress, others in the Republican party, really want this administration to punish China for what happened.

And one of the ways they want China punished is through trade. They want to do something, when it comes to this permanent national -- I'm sorry -- permanent normal trade relations. What is the administration's inclination here?

EVANS: Judy, as you know, there are very delicate discussions under way right now. I am secretary of commerce, and I don't think it's appropriate, really, for me to comment while these discussions are under way. And so I'm not going to.

WOODRUFF: May I just ask you, when -- I know you're privy to discussions where this is going on. What is the -- the argument, if you will, to make to those who say they should suffer for what they did?

EVANS: Judy, again, I would say to you that when you have discussions like this under way, it's very important to speak with one voice and one voice only. And that's not mine. I mean, that's not my responsibility right now, and I understand that. And there will be a time to address that, but now's not the time.

WOODRUFF: All right. Fair enough. Let me move on to the economy.

EVANS: Sure.

WOODRUFF: As you know from -- before we do go on to your trip that you're taking tomorrow -- some economists right now saying we're not headed for a recession, others saying we are. The people you listen to and have confidence in, what are they saying to you?

EVANS: Judy, I would say that we're in a slowdown period. We're not in a recession. I think that there are some signs that the economy is showing a little improvement in here. You saw the export/import numbers that came out yesterday, I believe. And the exports were strong, and the trade deficit came down some, which was encouraging. The productivity numbers continue to look very strong. GDP number, which will come out next week -- we'll be following a 1.1 percent GDP growth in the fourth quarter. We'll see what it is in the first quarter. Unemployment's at 4.3 percent in this country. That's a relatively low unemployment number. So I think the fundamentals are still very sound and very solid.

Are we in a slower period? Yes, we are. We are coming out of a very active period of economic growth, and so I don't think it's terribly surprising to see a slowdown in here. But it's being recognized by -- not only the administration, but the Federal Reserve as well. We saw what they did to interest rates yesterday, and in response...

WOODRUFF: Do you have a date in mind after which you think we'll know by then what's going on?

EVANS: No, I don't think so. I think you continue to monitor it. You continue to listen to the economy and what it's telling you. And we will watch it close, and we'll continue to take steps that we think are important.

I think the president will continue to talk about the importance of his tax relief bill, and how important it is to get money in the hands of the American consumer. And for them to know that they're going to continue to receive that tax relief in the years ahead.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about this summit of the Americas.

EVANS: Sure. You bet.

WOODRUFF: You and the president head to Quebec tomorrow. You have both talked about the need for so-called fast-track negotiating authority. Basically, this is the ability to make trade deals without having to go through a laborious process with the Congress.

And yet one of the president's very senior advisers in the White House, Karl Rove, is now saying that this has to be put on the back burner, in effect, because it's just too tough to get it through right away. My question to you is what kind of signal does that send as you're getting ready to head up there for this summit?

EVANS: We'll continue to move ahead on it. I think the president's been clear about his desire to have trade promotion authority, as we call it. He's talked to members of Congress already; he had them to the White House to visit with them about the importance of trade promotion authority.

Any time you sit down with somebody and...

WOODRUFF: Trade promotion authority is your...

EVANS: Fast track.

WOODRUFF: It's the same thing as fast track.

EVANS: Exactly; that's how we refer to it.

And so we're sending clear messages and signals to Congress, and they understand how important it is, when you sit down with somebody to negotiate an agreement, you need to be able to have the authority to sign the agreement.

WOODRUFF: But to say now that it's not going to come up for some time, is that sending the right signal, is my question?

EVANS: Well, you know, I don't know exactly what time you may be thinking about. I mean, we're thinking about, I'm thinking about, the administration is thinking about it as being something nice to have. We want it; we'd like to have it before the end of the year. So is it next week or next month? No, maybe it's not. But is it a goal of ours to have fast-track authority by the end of the year? Of course it is.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something of "The Wall Street Journal" said today in an editorial. They said, without serious efforts toward opening trade with this fast track or trade promotion agreement, in their words, "this summit is irrelevant."

EVANS: Well, look, I think we're continuing to build relationships and friendships through the hemisphere and around the world, and we can move ahead without trade promotion authority. You just look at the free trade agreement with Chile that we're moving forward on. Look at free trade agreements -- other bilateral agreements with Jordan and with Vietnam, and we're moving forward with Singapore, is one.

So it doesn't stop you. You can continue on. We're continuing to push for around-the-world trade organizations -- the WTO this fall. But does it help facilitate free trade in the world? Yes, it will. And the president's been clear about that being one of his priorities. WOODRUFF: With regard to this fast track or trade promotion authority, would the president accept, Secretary Evans, some provisions regarding labor and environmental laws that clearly the Democrats want in there?

EVANS: Well, you have to talk about all of the issues. You have to listen, you have to hear people out and then make a decision on what is best for moving forward. I mean, I don't want to rule anything out, I don't want to rule anything in. Are these important issues to talk about? Yes, they are, and the president will listen. And I think that's part of the fast track authority or the trade promotion authority process is Congress needs to know that you will listen to them. And also they need to know that they can trust you and they can trust this president.

WOODRUFF: Let me...

EVANS: Sure.

WOODRUFF: ... in connection with the Summit of the Americas tomorrow, the Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chretien was quoted today as saying: "What is needed is a quick resolution" on not only the larger question, but also these bilateral questions between the United States and Canada -- lumber and, I believe, potatoes. Are these things going to get resolved, and soon, Canadians...

EVANS: These are -- look, we've already demonstrated to the world that we like to solve problems. We've had an issue with the European Union on bananas for a number of years, and we've resolved that one. And that's the kind of approach we're going to take to these issues. We like results, we like to solve problems.

We're dealing with the lumber issue; that's one that we're thinking about, they're thinking about. Potatoes is also one of them. So we'll sit down and we'll address them. But they're small in comparison to the larger picture of free trade throughout the Western Hemisphere and throughout the free world. You're always going to have these kind of issues come up that you have to deal with, but they absolutely should not get in the way of moving forward on free trade throughout this hemisphere.

WOODRUFF: But it sounds like Canada's prime minister is worried about that.

EVANS: Well, you know, I'm not sure exactly what it was -- what he was -- what the context was, but I know the prime minister of Canada is very much interested in free trade and moving forward on a free trade agenda throughout the Western Hemisphere. And I think it's unlikely soft-wood lumber will get in the way of that effort; and I know by our actions that we're taking that they'll see that we're serious about dealing with these issues and -- but getting in the way of a much larger picture of opening up free trade in the Western Hemisphere, no.

WOODRUFF: Quick last question...

EVANS: Sure.

WOODRUFF: ... are you enjoying being the commerce...

EVANS: Oh, yes; I am. I'm meeting a lot of wonderful people and just thrilled and blessed to be able to serve this great country and serve the Americans. And so, yes, I'm enjoying it. I feel honored to be here, trying to work on behalf of the people of this great country.

WOODRUFF: Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, we thank you very much for being with us.

EVANS: You bet, Judy; great to be with you. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And President Bush is scheduled to arrive for the Summit of the Americas tomorrow with Secretary Evans. We're going to carry that arrival live at 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

WOODRUFF: When we return: a somber anniversary in Oklahoma City; more on the ceremony marking the 1995 bombing and the memorial to those who died.


WOODRUFF: A familiar hymn and a moment of silence marked a ceremony in memory of those killed six years ago today in the Oklahoma City bombing.

CNN's national correspondent Gary Tuchman has more on the services and those who came to remember family and friends.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Exactly six years after the tragedy that changed their lives forever, they stood in silence for 168 seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will seem like an eternity, but each second represents one life that perished.


TUCHMAN: Relatives of Oklahoma City bombing victims and survivors paid vigil at the former site of the Murrah federal building, now a memorial where 168 chairs with the names of the victims symbolize lives lost; each life was remembered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alan Whicher, Kathy Seidl, Linda McKinney...

TUCHMAN: Linda McKinney worked for the U.S. Secret Service. As each name was called, family members placed mementos on the glass and bronze chairs.

Daniel McKinney is Linda's widower.

DANIEL MCKINNEY, HUSBAND OF VICTIM: It was just as sad as it was a year ago. I thought it would be better, but it's just once you start and walk these grounds it all comes back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Colton Wade Smith, Chase Dolton (ph) Smith...

TUCHMAN: Colton and Chase smith were two of the 19 children killed in the building's day care center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diana Lynne Day, Kim R. Cousins...

TUCHMAN: Kim Cousins worked for the office of housing. Her widower, Lyle, placed flowers on her chair during a quiet moment after the commemoration.

LYLE COUSINS, HUSBAND OF VICTIM: I don't know if it's the anniversary itself that's important because I think about her every day of every year.

TUCHMAN (on camera): On this day of commemoration the U.S. Justice Department notified 10 family members and survivors that they will be able to watch the execution of Timothy McVeigh in person on May 16 in Terre Haute, Indiana. More than 250 others will watch it on closed-circuit television here in Oklahoma City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Catherine M. Kagel (ph) Leinen.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Catherine Leinen worked in the Federal Employees Credit Union. Her daughter says she will watch the execution at the closed-circuit site to see justice done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mother is somebody that will love you unconditionally, a way that nobody could love you, and you miss that a great deal.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Oklahoma City.


WOODRUFF: CNN's Web site has more information on the Oklahoma City bombing anniversary. You can go to to access a story archive, to read interviews with four people who were there when the bombing happened and to view a multimedia flashback. Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, will the president's new environmental stands hurt him with some of his supporters? We will ask Bob Novak when we return.



WOODRUFF: ...the move by the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates yesterday, you got some information.

ROBERT NOVAK, HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Finally, everybody said, what was -- what was Mr. Greenspan, Chairman Greenspan waiting for? He was waiting for a little boost in the market. You don't make the cut when it look like panic, so you wait for a little tiny rally, which he had. But it was a great surprise to the market, Judy. It wasn't a surprise to the White House. Guess who was in the West Wing of the White House on Tuesday before the market was made? Alan Greenspan, meeting with Vice President Cheney.

WOODRUFF: I wonder who spotted him there.

You were picking up some reaction to the fact that ordinary folks discovered when you have mutual funds, you have to pay capital gains taxes.

NOVAK: The middle-class people, not a great day in the markets and still the capital gains tax and they are complaining to the senators, this capital gains tax is terrible! Welcome to the club. So, there is a strong support -- a strong movement being made by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other Republicans but some Democrats, too, to try to get a capital gains cut into the first year -- stimulus package of $85 billion.

Oddly enough, very little interest in that in the White House. They want to keep their package as it is, but there is public support between changing the final version of the tax bill to include it.

WOODRUFF: Maybe the White House is listening to you right now. Bob, you've been doing some sleuthing about the budget, the president's budget plan and where that stands now with the conference committee coming up?

NOVAK: Okay, the members of Congress come back from their recess next week. The House -- the Senate will name its conferencees on the budget on Monday; the House on Tuesday. They hope to have a final budget bill by the end of the week. The question is: what will they do about the difference between the tax plug in there? The 1.2 billion -- trillion, I am sorry -- tax cut in the Senate; 1.6 trillion, as the president wants, in the House.

There's no question that the Republicans control these conference. They can go all the way to 1.6 trillion. But when it comes back to the Senate, can they pass a tax cut any larger than 1.2 trillion? They need at least one more Democratic senator. They're going after Senator John Breaux of Louisiana, hope spring's eternal in trying to get John Breaux to help out the president.

WOODRUFF: Prediction?

NOVAK: I don't think that they will.


I think that they have a real problem in getting anything over 1.2 trillion through the Senate.

WOODRUFF: You heard it here. Bob Novak, thank you very much.

That's all for this edition of Inside Politics. but, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's AOL keyword, CNN. This programming note: tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS, the legendary Paul McCartney will join us live; he is pushing for the world-wide eradication of land mines. We will talk to him about that and a number of topics. I'm Judy Woodruff. MONEYLINE is next.



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