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Chandra Levy's Parents Demand Gary Condit Take a Lie Detector Test; Campaign Finance Reform Struggling in House

Aired July 9, 2001 - 17:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff. In the search for Chandra Levy, her parents want to put Congressman Gary Condit to a test.

Campaign finance reform allies gear up for a showdown in the House, while the president revisits other issues many Democrats care about. And...


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland's lieutenant governor, is 50 years old and coming of age in the world of politics.


ANNOUNCER: Candy Crowley on a Kennedy's future and how it relates to the past.

Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm coming to you today from CNN Center in Atlanta. Thanks for joining us.

We begin with the growing pressure on Congressman Gary Condit now that he reportedly has told police he had an affair with Chandra Levy. In his California home district, there are increasing calls for Condit to publicly explain his relationship with the missing former intern. And Chandra Levy's parents want him to do even more than that. We get the latest now from our national correspondent, Bob Franken, in Washington.

Hi, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. And as the police sources tell CNN that Congressman Condit on Friday night did acknowledge that he had the romantic relationship with Chandra Levy, the response from the Levy family has been a demand. It's going to be in the form of a request to police officials that Condit, in fact, be put to a lie detector test, that he take a polygraph saying the investigation has been hindered, quote, "Because the Congressman took so long to tell the truth." The family now feels, said a spokesman, "We need to be assured the Congressman is telling the truth." Well, later in the day, Abbe Lowell, who is the Condit attorney, who has been going around saying that the media have put out too much emphasis on this, put out a statement. He did not exactly reply to the polygraph matter but did say, and I quote, "We understand that the Levy family wants to do all it can to find Chandra, but police have stated that they are fully satisfied -- they're fully satisfied with Congressman Condit's cooperation and with the answers to every single question they have posed. The police have also stated that -- the police have also stated that ," excuse me, "Congressman Condit is not a suspect. In light of Chief Police Gainer's statement, surely, the time has come to focus less on Congressman Condit and more on the 99 other people police have identified who might be as helpful in providing information that could find Chandra."

Well, we're coming up on 10 weeks since Chandra Levy disappeared. The police are going to expand their investigation to a search by cadaver dogs into landfill areas in the area hoping that the cadaver dogs do not find any indication that Chandra Levy had been the victim of foul play. Investigation that's 10 weeks old. Police say that, (a) as Abbe Lowell said, the Congressman continues to not be a suspect.

One other thing. There have been many questions raised about why have the police not searched the Congressman's apartment. And the attorney pointed out that the first interview police did with Congressman Condit was at his apartment at his invitation -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bob, is there any focus yet on other people who might have been involved somehow, people who knew Chandra Levy?

FRANKEN: As a matter of fact, the police make it very clear that although our focus -- "our" being the media -- has been on Congressman Condit, the fact of the matter is they have interviewed about a hundred people. Most of them, the large bulk of them, people who were in the health club that day that Chandra Levy went in to cancel her membership prior to her moving to California. About 65 of the people have been among those people. There have been others who are colleagues, friends of hers here, and the same in California. So there has been quite a focus on a lot of those people, but, of course, they haven't gotten the publicity.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken in Washington.

Well, now, let's talk about the possible political fallout for Congressman Condit. We are joined now by John Wildermuth, who is a political writer for "The San Francisco Chronicle."

John Wildermuth, you've been writing about this in recent days. Could Congressman Condit be reelected today if he were running for reelection?

JOHN WILDERMUTH, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": Today, it would probably be extremely tough, but it's not going to get any easier. He's in a district that he won with two-thirds of the vote last time and it's been a solid Democratic district in the past. But there are a lot of people asking a lot of questions, and I just don't know how well it's going to play right now.

WOODRUFF: Well, what makes you doubtful?

WILDERMUTH: Well, the problem is that there's just so much -- so much doubt everywhere, not just the question of where is Chandra Levy? What exactly was Congressman Condit's relationship with her? And more to the point, why hasn't he been out there telling the people in his district, "Here's what I did. Here's where I am. And here's why I still should be your Congressman." And it's a question he's going to have to answer if he's planning on running again.

WOODRUFF: Well, now as you know, the comment that his staff has been making is that he has been cooperating with police and that that's where his comments appropriately should be, not out there in the public.

WILDERMUTH: Well, I can understand that. And there's actually -- I can understand him not wanting to talk to the press, but his people are putting out right now that he has absolutely every intention in the world of running for re-election next year. Nothing's changed. He's planning to run a campaign.

Well, on 4th of July, he canceled three appearances in his district. He hasn't been seen there. He hasn't talked to anyone. You can't run for reelection if you're not going to talk to the people that are going to elect you.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk some more about the politics of his Congressional district. This is a fairly conservative district. It went, what, 53-44, Bush over Gore last November in the presidential election. How has Gary Condit, a Democrat, managed to hold onto it?

WILDERMUTH: Well, we're looking at a man who was first elected to the series city council when he was 24 years old. When he was 28 years old, he was on the board of supervisors. He's a person that has been in the county, that they know him. He's also probably the most conservative Democrat in the California delegation and hasn't been afraid to step on Democrats' toes. He fits the district perfectly and that's why he keeps getting reelected so easily.

WOODRUFF: Is it clear at this point, John Wildermuth, if for whatever reason he were not to run again, or if he were to run under this current set of circumstances, are there others who'd step in and run against him?

WILDERMUTH: Well, there's -- the problem that they have is there's people that will run against him. There's Republicans that would very much like to move into the seat. However, unless they are very sure that Gary Condit has been fatally wounded by this, they don't want to step in. But if it continues like this, if it continues with people chasing him around and him refusing to actually make a statement and come up front, here's what happened, there's going to be more and more Republicans looking at it and more and more Democrats maybe suggesting that he does step aside.

WOODRUFF: Well, John Wildermuth, you've already mentioned some names of people who might be interested in running. Who are they?

WILDERMUTH: Well, there's -- the names kind of escape me right now, but the state senator in the area who has term limits. He's term limited out. He can't run again. He's been looking at that seat for whenever Condit left.

WOODRUFF: Is that Dick Monteith? I'm looking at the article he just wrote.

WILDERMUTH: Yes, that would be Monteith, yes. It would be on the Democratic side, Dennis Cardoza is an assemblyman. He's a close friend of Gary Condit and worked with him actually when Condit was in the assembly. He's also termed out. All these people are saying that they have every intention of running for another office if Gary Condit runs for reelection, but that's today. If Gary Condit looks like he's wounded, looks like he's fatally wounded, it's a seat that the Republicans would dearly like to have and a seat that the Democrats have to hang onto.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Wildermuth, who is a political writer for "The San Francisco Chronicle," thank you very much.

WILDERMUTH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The Chandra Levy investigation will be the focus of tonight's "Larry King Live." Larry will talk with the Levy family attorney Billy Martin. That's "Larry King Live" at 9:00 p.m., Eastern.

And now we turn to a different sort of political struggle. As the House prepares to debate campaign finance reform legislation this week, Senator John McCain and his allies on that issue held rallies in New York and Boston today. CNN's Eileen O'Connor has more on the public relations campaign for reform and the confrontations ahead.


EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican senator John McCain is pulling out all the stops, invoking the ghosts of reformers past to rally support for a House version of his campaign finance reform bill.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I believe that Teddy Roosevelt is very disappointed today, is very disappointed in a system where soft money and unlimited contributions come from every source, unaccounted and unregulated which has corrupted American politics.

O'CONNOR: At the same time, House Republican leaders are trying to pass their own version with fewer restrictions by forming some unlikely alliances, with black and Hispanic Democrats in Congress and even labor unions. At issue: soft money, unrestricted contributions from individuals, companies, unions or advocacy groups meant for party building but often used in issue ads that benefit specific candidates.

The House bill that McCain supports, sponsored by Republican Chris Shays and Democrat Martin Meehan, would ban national political parties from accepting or spending soft money contributions. The alternative, sponsored by Republican Bob Ney and Democrat Albert Wynn, would limit soft money contributions to $75,000 per year, restricting its use to get out the vote efforts and voter registration, critical in races with big minority populations.

REP. BOB NEY (R), OHIO: What's happened is the coalitions have fallen apart. There's concern now by minorities on being able to register people to vote. There's a great concern by Democrats and Republicans that this is a gag rule on citizens. Advocacy groups are going to be restrained.


ANNOUNCER: Slade Gorton in step with the gun lobby.


O'CONNOR: Issue ads by independent groups that mention federal candidates could be paid for by soft money under Ney's bill. If run within 120 days of an election, the source of funding would have to be disclosed. Under Shays-Meehan, such ads would have to be paid for by regulated hard money. Congressman Marty Meehan says his bill gets big money and the influence it brings out of politics.

REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We have to change this system. It's having a corrupting influence on passing the Patients' Bill of Rights, on passing Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors, we can do better than that.


O'CONNOR: With the president politically unlikely to veto any campaign finance reform bill that comes his way, it's up to the House Republican leadership to either come up with a bill that is acceptable or more likely come up with one that's so incompatible to McCain's Senate version that it dies due to irreconcilable differences --Judy.

WOODRUFF: Eileen O'Connor at the Capitol.

We'll have more on the campaign finance debate ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll talk with Congressman Christopher Shays, who's a leading sponsor in the House, and fellow Republican J.C. Watts, a leading opponent of the Shays legislation. Also ahead...


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no need for further delay. It is time to get a good reform bill.


WOODRUFF: Reform is the theme as the president gives Congress his three-part agenda for the month of July. Plus, a personal look at the advantages and the burdens of family history. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend considers a run for governor of Maryland. This is INSIDE POLITICS. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The hopes of campaign finance reformers in Congress who support a complete soft money ban now rest on a House bill that is co-sponsored by Republican Chris Shays of Connecticut. A little earlier, I spoke with Congressman Shays about his legislation, and I started by asking him what the prospects are for passage.


REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, we passed it in 1998 in one Congress. The next Congress, it passed in 1999. And this is the third opportunity, and the difference is the Senate's already passed the bill. So we're very hopeful we can get the job done and enforce the 1907 law that bans corporate treasury money, the 1947 law that bans union dues money, and the 1974 law that bans foreign governments from contributing campaigns. We want individual Americans to have a say again.

WOODRUFF: Well, I hear you say you're hopeful. You had 43 House Republicans with you the last vote, two years ago. How many are you going to have with you this time?

SHAYS: Well, I hope we have more than 40, but that's almost a little misleading, because there are going to be a few crucial votes where we didn't have even 40. There are some amendments that got the bill. There are some amendments that may seem good but will break apart the House coalition or the Senate coalition or maybe technically flawed our attractive amendments. But if we pass the technically flawed amendment, send it to the Senate, they'll have to send it to the conference committee. We want the Senate to send it to the president. So all I'm saying is you have to watch the individual votes to really know the support.

WOODRUFF: Well, in trying to line up Republican support, as you know, Senator John McCain wrote a letter to freshman Republicans. He was criticized by your colleague, Speaker Hastert, for bullying these freshman. Do you agree with the speaker about that?

SHAYS: You know, the speaker, bless his heart, gave us a vote and has promised us a fair process. But to say that righting someone who got you to come and campaign for them and reminding them that you came because they were reformers and want them to remember this is their opportunity, I would hardly call that bullying. I think that's kind of a distraction and may be said out of frustration.

WOODRUFF: Well, besides worrying about having enough Republicans, Congressman Shays, you've obviously also got to maintain Democratic support and prevent defections especially in the black caucus. It appears you've already got at least three defections. How many in that caucus can you afford to lose?

SHAYS: We can't afford to lose many of them. I mean, the bottom line is we need every vote we can get, and that's why the American people need to know this is the week that you can save your democracy from these large corporate interests and these large union dues interests. So this is the week. It's really going to be also up to the American people.

WOODRUFF: Well, your main competition as you know is a bill sponsored by Congressman Bob Ney who says -- your own leadership says is far preferable to your bill, because instead of trying to put a complete cap on soft money, it sets reasonable limits on soft money.

SHAYS: Well, if you think $900,000 of corporate treasury money in a campaign cycle is reasonable, you could agree with that. You know, the bottom line is Mr. Ney wrote a bill that would offend no one to get support and really does very little. That's the bottom line.

WOODRUFF: Finally, congressman, let me ask you about this amendment that was added in the Senate by Senator Levin that would allow individuals to give $10,000 to their state parties in soft money. Are you going to be able to tighten that up so that it doesn't turn into a complete way of undermining the soft money ban?

SHAYS: Well, we tighten it up in our bill. When we took the Senate bill, we made technical corrections and we tightened up some of the amendments. And one of them was the Levin amendment. We make sure that it's 50/50 match if there's soft money to the political parties in the states. And they are the only ones who can allow it. States that don't allow it, then you don't have this question. We have a 50/50 match. We say you can't transfer the funds. We say no federal officeholder or candidate can raise soft money for the states for get-out-the-vote and for registration. So we think we've tightened it up pretty well.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, let me change the subject now to the topic so much of Washington is talking about: the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy. Representative Gary Condit, does he now have a serious credibility problem?

SHAYS: Well, let me say this to you. Chandra Levy is not the only young woman who is missing in Washington. I think the attention should also focus on all the other women that have been missing in the city and we don't know what's happened to them. Obviously, Gary, who is a close friend and someone I have a lot of respect for, when he said something that wasn't true, then he opens up the door for people wondering if other things he said aren't true. So, you know, that's very serious. And you know, we're taught when we're young you tell the truth, because if you don't tell the truth, people can question the other things you say.

WOODRUFF: Should he do as the Levy family is now requesting and undergo a lie detector test?

SHAYS: Well, the thing that surprises me about the Levy family is I think what they should do is allow the police to do their job. They've been on every TV network you can imagine and I don't know how they're helping the cause.

WOODRUFF: You mean by simply asking for this test?

SHAYS: No, no. They have been on continually going after Mr. Condit. And there are other people that need to be looked at. And the bottom line to this is the police need to do their job, and they need to do it without interference from the family or from anyone else.

WOODRUFF: So you're calling on the family to back off, in effect?

SHAYS: I'm calling on the family to let the police do their work. And I'm calling on obviously my colleague to cooperate fully and completely with the police.

WOODRUFF: All right, Congressman Chris Shays, thank you very much.

SHAYS: Thank you.


WOODRUFF: Well, as we have said, Congressman Shays is a longtime leader in the fight to ban soft money, but many of his fellow Republicans oppose his efforts. Republican conference chairman J.C. Watts is among those who say they favor campaign finance reform as long as it does not restrict free speech. Congressman watts joins me now from his home state of Oklahoma.

Congressman Watts, are you going to be able to deny your Republican colleague, Mr. Shays, victory on this?

J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, Judy, I don't know. Chris has worked very hard on this as we all know, and we're going to get a bill. The Shays-Meehan bill will be on the floor of the House Wednesday, I believe, and so it will obviously have a lot of amendments to it. I understand there's been about a hundred amendments filed on the legislation. So we're going to see what the will of the House is, and I think the speaker is going to let it unravel and unfold and we'll see what happens. We believe Bob Ney has -- Bob Ney and Albert Wynn, Democrat of Maryland, they have filed a bill as well. I think that's good legislation. So we're going to let the will of the House work and we'll see what happens starting Wednesday.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's pretty clear that Mr. Shays and the folks working on campaign finance reform need a number of Republicans to stay with them who were with them two years ago. Are you hearing -- is it your understanding you're able now to peel off some of those Republicans?

WATTS: Well, and Judy, I can't tell you exactly what the numbers are, but it seems that the Shays-Meehan bill has lost a lot of its coalition. I don't know how many Republicans or legislation is going to use, but as you mentioned with Chris in the earlier segment and the interview with him that there's been members in the Hispanic caucus, I understand, members in the congressional black caucus. I understand some are peeling off. So the bill that we will see on the floor of the House on Wednesday is not the same bill that was passed in '98 or '99. So for whatever reason, it seems to be losing some of its coalition, but I still can't tell you if the bill has 218 votes today. WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about reports over the weekend, congressman, that the Republican leadership is, in so many words, threatening some of the freshman Republicans not to support the Shays- Meehan bill, that among other things committee assignments may be up in the air over this? Is that part of what's going on here?

WATTS: You know, I have been in many meetings, Judy, over the last two or three weeks, or the two or three weeks prior to the 4th of July break I was in meetings. We talked about campaign finance, and the discussions that I was a part of, we were talking about making sure that Chris Shays, that his bill gets a hearing. And I think the speaker has promised that all along. The speaker or no member of leadership to my knowledge -- and again I've been in all of these meetings -- have ever talked about taking any committee assignments away from members.

There were some members who were a little ruffled by the letter that John McCain sent. They thought that letter was threatening. I didn't see the letter. I can't say if it was or if it wasn't. But the speaker has never been on record with me saying anything to that effect. And that's not the way Denny Hastert operates. That just would be way out of character for the speaker of the House for someone to prove that he said that. That seems way out of character for him.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Watts, I want to turn quickly to two other matters in the minutes that we have left. Stem cell research is the first one. As you know, controversy over using these embryonic stem cells to try to do potentially life-saving research. If it could be proven that these cells could save live, would you be willing to change your position on this?

WATTS: Well, Judy, but that's the point. And I made that point repeatedly. That hasn't been proven, it's inconclusive. And I think we need to be careful, and I think it's somewhat of a stretch that we would take human embryos to try and draw conclusions or to make those conclusions. That just hadn't happened. And then on the flip side of that coin, you've got mature stem cells from adults that I understand are as good or better in some cases. I think we always need to be concerned about find the cure for diabetes and finding the cure for Parkinson's and other diseases that stem cells might be able to give us, but I don't think we should go down this track and 20 years down the road say, "Oops, we made a mistake. We've created a fetus farm, a human embryo farm," if you will. So I'm for research and we've doubled funding over the National Institute of Health over the last five years for research. So let's do research but let's make sure we're doing it the right way.

WOODRUFF: I hear what you're saying congressman. I hope we can explore that later when we do have a little bit more time. But I do want to squeeze in finally a question about Congressman Gary Condit and ask you the same question I asked Congressman Shays. And that is: Do you think he should undergo a lie detector test as the Levy family is requesting?

WATTS: Judy, however I comment on that, it's not going to add one iota of evidence or credibility or anything to this case. My concern right now is obviously Gary Condit as a friend. I hurt for Gary. I hurt for the Levy family who's missing their daughter. I'm going to go to bed tonight and my daughters are going to be with me. They're missing their daughter, and I hope that that will be the focus of this thing. And anything that I say would be a distraction to that. I hope we can conclude this thing quickly for all parties concerned, and especially for the Levy family who's missing their child. And you can imagine having children as I do and as you do, that's got to be very tough on that family right now.

WOODRUFF: Well, we hear you, Representative J.C. Watts, chairman of the House Republican conference, thank you very much.

WATTS: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you again.

WATTS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The challenge facing both political parties: a fight over the Catholic vote. Some analysis and poll numbers from our Bill Schneider coming up. But first, the president and his agenda for July. We'll look at the key issues facing the White House this month and beyond.


WOODRUFF: President Bush today tried to advance the summer agenda in Congress by calling on lawmakers to send him legislation on three key issues. CNN's White House correspondent Major Garrett has more on the political forces at work behind the president's call for action.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top advisers say the president needs a victory to prove he can do more than cut taxes and to prove he can deliver on issues Democrats and moderates care about. So Mr. Bush urged a divided Congress to pass three major bills in the next month: education reform, a patients' bill of rights, his faith-based initiative. Of the three, aides say education has the best shot.

BUSH: We had a bill pass out of the House by a broad margin, a bill pass out of the Senate by a broad margin. There is no need for further delay. It is time to get a good reform bill.

GARRETT: The agenda at six months matters as much for what's in it as what's not. On the back burner are the energy plan, new trade authority and more tax cuts, all traditional Republican issues.

The president on Monday also visited another hospital, his second in as many weeks, meeting Vincent Hamilton, who is taking experimental drugs for colon sickness. Afterward, Mr. Bush said only one issue is holding up compromising on HMO reform: the right to sue.

BUSH: I want to a bill to sign that does not run the cost of premiums up or health care up as a result of excessive lawsuits. I want a bill that honors patients not trial lawyers.

GARRETT: Democrats say Mr. Bush hasn't scored a victory since signing the tax cut more than a month ago, and he is trying to steady himself on the strength of their agenda.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV), ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER: The president has been reading his poll numbers. He knows that education is a popular issue. He knows the Patients' Bill of Rights is a popular issue, and he wants to get some traction, which he's lost.


GARRETT: What happens in July could say a lot about Mr. Bush's first year in office, at least on domestic policy. Deals on education and patient protections would suggest new progress, but gridlock would only be a sad reminder of the paralysis this new president vowed to break -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Major Garrett at the White House.

Who is winning the battle for cash by party committees for the House and Senate? That story just ahead.


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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Judy. Good evening, folks.

The sparks are flying between the White House and the NAACP. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today defended President Bush against sharp criticism from the civil rights group, which is holding its annual convention right now in New Orleans. Fleischer was responding to some scathing remarks made yesterday by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond. CNN's Ed Lavandera is at the convention and has.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A gospel anthem opens the first full day at the NAACP National Convention. Music designed to help heal the wounds of the 2000 presidential election. Even 8 months later, the anger still brews in this New Orleans convention hall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're letting the world know that we're not going to just lie down, that it's not over because they think it is over. It's not going to be over, until it's right.

LAVANDERA: The NAACP is meeting for the first time since last year's election.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It matters what presidents do, it also matters what presidents say and how they say it. LAVANDERA: President George W. Bush has been the focus of the harshest criticism.

JULIAN BOND, NAACP CHAIRMAN: He's had his picture taken with more black people than voted for him.

LAVANDERA: NAACP leaders are questioning Bush's cabinet appointments, and legislative agenda. They're calling for election reform while a new congressional report confirms what civil rights leaders have long suspected: That poor and minority voters were less likely to have their votes counted in the 2000 election.

BOND: You know, before the election we heard, your vote counts. We learned after the election that your vote might not be counted. This is unacceptable, this is un-American.

LAVANDERA: Un-American is how many are describing the recent decision in Mississippi to keep the Confederate symbol as part of the state's flag. At this convention, the NAACP is considering an economic boycott of Mississippi.

KWEISI MFUME, NAACP PRESIDENT: It's the connotation of hatred and bigotry that has been used under that flag that for many of us whether we are African-American, Jewish-American or just a good thinking Americans, find it to be repulsive.

LAVANDERA (on camera): The NAACP is also preparing to release a major study of African American presence on network television. Leaders confirm that because of this study, it will likely boycott one of the four major television networks, but they're still not ready to say which network they'll go after.

The NAACP wants to remind the world that after 92 years, it is still around, and that its voice still needs to be heard.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, New Orleans.


HARRIS: In other news today: In Florida, that 8-year-old boy attacked by a shark may end up suffering some brain damage. Jesse Arbogast is in critical but stabile condition at the moment. He was attacked by a bull shark while playing in the surf near Pensacola Friday evening. The shark bit off his right arm, but doctors were able to reattach it and its healing well.

Because Jesse lost such a huge amount of blood, doctors say he suffered harm to virtually every organ in his body. Doctors say they are cautiously optimistic that Jesse will survive this ordeal.

This particular story has many people wondering if it is safe to go in the waters, as many folks are on vacation now.

Coming up on "FIRST EVENING NEWS" at about 6:00 Eastern, we'll take a look at the real risks of going into the water, so make sure you join us for that. For now, let's go back to Judy at the desk.

WOODRUFF: All right, Leon, thank you very much. We'll look forward to hearing about that.

It's usually easy to get headlines when you're a member of the Kennedy family. But, does Kathleen Kennedy Townsend have the right stuff to become a governor? we'll have a close up look at Townsend and her political and family credentials when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

And later: How Catholics are influencing the political debate in Washington and the president.


WOODRUFF: The Republican and Democratic Party committees assigned to win House and Senate majorities have released their latest campaign fund-raising numbers.

In the Senate, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised more than $24 million during the first six months of this year. The NRSC has more than 15 million in cash on hand, almost all of it in so called hard money.

Across the aisle, Democrats brought in $20 million between January and June. The DSCC has about $11 million in cash on hand, $2 million in hard money, and almost $9 million in soft money.

On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $18 million, and still has $8 million on hand. The National Republican Congressional Committee is expected to release its fund-raising numbers this Thursday.

Over the weekend, Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend hosted a public event to mark her birthday, and also to mark the beginning of the next step in her political career. Nothing is official, but as CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports, the eldest of the younger generation of Kennedys looks like a sure bet to run for governor of Maryland.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Fifty years ago this month, Ethel and Bobby Kennedy had a baby daughter. The first in the next generation of a family that dominated politics in the '60s.

QUESTION: Do you ever sort of step back a little bit and think, wonder what would dad say at this point?

KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D), MARYLAND LT. GOVERNOR: I think it is kind of hard to ask father to judge me today. If he were here, I would love his advice, but I think to look back and say this is what he would do, it is not something I would feel comfortable doing.

CROWLEY: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland's lieutenant governor, is 50 years old and coming of age in the world of politics. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to be the governor.

TOWNSEND: Thank you. I'm going to work on it.


CROWLEY: Her bid for the governorship of Maryland lacks only an official announcement. For all intents and purposes, Townsend is off, running and sitting pretty .

She shares her father's passion for public service, but not his panache. The oldest of the 30 cousins, she's been called the un- Kennedy -- quiet, serious, a bit of the oldest child syndrome.

TOWNSEND: Bossy, responsible, telling people what they should do -- probably there's part of that.

CROWLEY: Mostly, she's her own woman, who is also her father's daughter. Those who knew him best, see it most.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: She's got her own style and her own way. I mean, I catch different mannerisms and different actions that I'm not even sure she's ever conscious of, that remind me of my brother.

CROWLEY: The funny thing is, growing up Kennedy in the '60's, nobody in the family thought of women as politicians.

TOWNSEND: I'd say it was really the women's movement which opened up sort of potential for me to A, go to law school and then eventually to say, you can run. You can make a difference. You can have a speaking role.

CROWLEY: Following an early and failed bid for Congress in '86, Townsend began to build a reputation and a political network as a community program organizer. But she was a novice politician when tapped to run for lieutenant governor, a job without much thanks or clout. But after seven years in office, Townsend has developed an executive repertoire, overseeing the state's economic development and criminal justice system.

TOWNSEND: We have been able to reduce recidivism and drug use. I've been in charge of reforming our children and family services. We've launched the police corps. We have more graduates here in Maryland than in any other state because of my efforts.

CROWLEY: Critics pooh-pooh her credentials, arguing Kennedy Townsend has done little more than put new names on old ideas, suggesting that her role has mainly been window dressing.

MICHAEL STEELE, MARYLAND GOP CHAIRMAN: When the governor needs to make a point he'll trot her out, and then, otherwise, she's back doing handshakes and coffee talks, and that's about it. When it comes to the real substantive portions of government and management and fiscal planning, she hasn't been there. CROWLEY: Still, Republicans have yet to field a candidate for the 2002 gubernatorial race, which would be tough for them under any circumstances. Maryland voters register Democratic almost two to one. The GOP would love to see Townsend roughed up in a primary, but her numbers are scary to would-be opponents. Aides figure her campaign committee has almost $3 million on hand. Her family-style events draw record crowds for Maryland fund raisers. And Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has 92 percent name recognition in the state. She could become known as the first of her Kennedy generation to hold executive office. And governorships have been known to lead to national office.

TOWNSEND: If you keep looking too far into the future, you don't concentrate on what you can do today, and that's really what I learned from my family. You never know what the future will bring, so do your best today.

CROWLEY: Most early bird polls show Kathleen Kennedy Townsend with healthy leads over possible primary opponents.

(on camera): To name recognition, a healthy bottom line and friendly political turf, now add organization. Aides claim more than 600 people volunteered to help put together this year's birthday bash, and 23 buses carted in participants from around the state. Said one smiling aide, "not bad for a trial run."

Candy Crowley, CNN, Baltimore.


WOODRUFF: And now, with a look at what's coming up a little later on "MONEYLINE," here's Lou Dobbs.

Hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. Coming up tonight, we're going to be telling you all about the Comcast $58 billion hostile bid for part of AT&T, its cable business and its high-speed broadband business.

We'll also bring you up to date on the markets, and it was an up day in the markets, the Dow gaining. The Nasdaq, in fact, posting its first gain of the third quarter.

And we'll also be joined by Comcast president Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast. And he'll be explaining to us exactly what he wants to accomplish with that hostile bid for part of AT&T.

And also, one of the media world's legends, Sumner Redstone, the head of Viacom, will be joining us as well tonight, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, in addition to all that, as you know, we have a new boss at CNN and we understand he's one of your guests, too?

DOBBS: How could I have forgotten that, Judy? Walter Isaacson, today named chairman and CEO of the CNN News Group will be joining us as well, and we're looking forward to seeing what he has in store for all of us, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All the more reason to watch "MONEYLINE," coming up at 6:30. Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And while we're talking money, let's talk about the shrinking budget surplus, and how it is complicating the president's life. Analyst Ron Brownstein figures up the fallout next on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: President Bush travels to New York tomorrow where he'll take part in a ceremony honoring the late Cardinal, John O'Connor. As Mr. Bush continues to reach out to Catholic voters, what challenges does he face? We're joined by our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, what has happened to the Catholic vote in this country?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, there was a time when the Catholic vote was reliably Democratic. That time is gone. It ended in the 1980s, when Catholics voted for Ronald Reagan twice, and then for George Bush.

Now, Bill Clinton reclaimed the Catholic vote in 1992, and again in 1996. But Al Gore barely held Catholics. Last year, Catholics voted for Gore over Bush by just two points, 49 to 47 percent. Democrats have also lost ground with Catholic voters in Congressional elections. Catholics nationwide used to favor Democrats in House elections by double-digit margins. No more. Last year, the Democrats' edge among Catholic voters nationwide was down to, you guessed it, two points.

Catholics have really become a swing vote. Since Catholics make up just over a quarter of the electorate, that's a lot of swing voters.

WOODRUFF: So, Bill, is there an opening for the president among Catholic voters?

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes there is, because Catholics are actually split. There are some who go to church regularly and there are some who don't. In fact, Catholics are split about 50-50. And there is a big political difference between those two groups.

Last year, Catholic voters who went to church regularly voted for George W. Bush. Unchurched Catholics voted for Al Gore. Republicans are closer to church teachings on some key issues, like abortion. Gallup asked Catholics, do you describe yourself as pro-life or pro- choice on the issue of abortion rights? Now, Catholics as a whole were actually split. But a solid majority of churchgoing Catholics, 57 percent, consider themselves pro-life. That is, they oppose abortion rights. Among non-churchgoers, pro-life sentiment is much weaker, 37 percent. Bush's target group is Catholics who go to church regularly and take the church's teachings seriously, and honoring Cardinal O'Connor is no small thing for that constituency.

WOODRUFF: Are the church's teachings, Bill, considered conservative?

SCHNEIDER: Not on all issues. Take the death penalty. The church is opposed to the death penalty, and the pope often pleads to spare the life of death row inmates in the U.S. And sure enough, churchgoing Catholics are more likely to oppose the death penalty than non-churchgoers. But the issue doesn't have much political impact because many Democrats, like Bill Clinton and Al Gore, support the death penalty.

The church also has very liberal teachings about poverty. That's where President Bush's compassionate conservatism comes in handy. Economic differences between the two parties have diminished, as the Democrats have been striving for an image of fiscal responsibility. These days, the big differences are on social issues, and that's what draws churchgoing Catholics to the GOP.

WOODRUFF: Bill, what about the issue were discussing this week, this whole question of stem cell research?

SCHNEIDER: The church certainly has a position on stem cell research, opposed, but that's not reflected among Catholic voters. Last month's ABC News poll showed 60 percent of Americans in favor of government funding for stem cell research. Among Catholics? Exactly the same result, 60 percent in favor. There's a Catholic teaching on that issue, but not a distinctive Catholic position. At least not among all Catholics -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider. Thank you very much.

The Senate Budget Committee, changing the subject, holds a hearing Thursday on the federal budget surplus and new estimates show it is not as big as previously thought. Let's talk about the politics of the surplus now with Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, how is this shrinking revenue, shrinking surplus question affecting the president's agenda?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Immediately and profoundly. Probably affecting both party's agenda. It will make it a lot tougher in the short run on both sides who have needs they want to see expressed beyond the original budget deal. Democrats have been pushing for more education spending, as part of the education bill, that is heading to the House Senate conference.

President Bush unveiled a proposal the other day for $18 million more in defense spending for next year. He's had ideas out there for more energy tax credits to encourage different kinds of conservation or production. All of these things are tougher, Judy, in the short run, because both sides I think will be very leery of doing anything that causes the budget to go back into the red.

In the longer run, it really opens up immediately after the tax bill was passed, I think, a second round on the debate on the fiscal priorities of what to do with the surplus. Republicans will argue that higher spending is what is endangering the surplus, and Democrats, I think, are moving toward a position of forestalling or repealing later stages of the tax cuts. So, this debate that seemed to be settled this spring has reopened almost immediately.

WOODRUFF: What are the options for the White House, and for the leadership on the Hill?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, from the White House point of view, this could be -- this is a profound risk but also a potential point of leverage and opportunity. The risk is that it took 40 years, from 1960 to 1999, to get the on-budget account. That is, the portion of the budget setting aside the surplus and Social Security into surplus. You do not want to go into the 2002 election having taken the last surplus in 1960 all the way to 1999 and say, we blew that in a year and a half. So they clearly want to stay out of dipping into the Social Security trust fund.

The opportunity it provides for them, with the threat out there they have more leverage than they did before to resist spending they don't support. It might become easier for instance for Bush to veto some of the appropriations bills.

For the Democrats on the Hill, I think it is more of a long-term question, the short-term issue will be, they will squeeze the defense spending request and position that against some of the social spending needs. I do think in the long run, as you get into issues like prescription drugs later this year, and beyond, they will try to basically argue that Bush's tax cut is either preventing us from doing these things or could cause us to go into the Medicare and Social Security trust funds.

WOODRUFF: What about that tax cut, Ron, it is beloved to this president. What are the chances that Congress has to go back and revisit that, tinker with it, cut it back?

BROWNSTEIN: When you look at the numbers over the next few years, if the revenue estimates continue to run below what they had originally expected, my own guess is eventually they will revisit it in some way or another. Remember, the year after the Reagan tax cut in 1981, Bob Dole engineered a significant tax hike in 1982.

And I think the one absolute here, Judy, both sides are not going to want to go into the Social Security trust fund to fund the operation of the budget, and if that requires adjustment of the tax cut, I think they will do that. The vulnerability of Bush's tax cut is that it's phased in very slowly. So you would not necessarily have to repeal something that already has been given to voters, you can merely forestall something that hadn't yet happened.

And I do think that if the numbers stay disappointing on the economy, that you will see more pressure for that over time. WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein in Washington. Thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Now I'm told there has been a development in the Chandra Levy, the case of the missing intern, and for that information let's go to Bob Franken, also in Washington -- Bob.

FRANKEN: Judy, CNN has learned from three knowledgeable sources that Anne Marie Smith, the flight attendant who claimed she had a romantic relationship with Congressman Condit and that he asked her to try and sign a false affidavit, she and her attorney are coming to Washington tomorrow, they'll be meeting with representatives of the U.S. Attorney's office here to discuss the charges that they've made.

Now some attorneys have claimed that if true, this could possibly be a violation of the law. Congressman Condit's office has said that all that was done was that an affidavit was sent to Anne Marie Smith with instructions to edit it any way she wanted, that they did not intend for any false affidavit to be signed.

Secondly, we learned from Congressman Condit's office that his attorney, Abbe Lowell has sent a letter to executives of the top American news networks asking that the camera stakeouts that are conducted constantly at his houses both here and Washington and of California, desist. He called them a safety threat to the Congressman, his wife and children and the neighbors. We asked for a response from the networks. Thus far, we have none -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken with the very latest on the Chandra Levy case.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: In California, Governor Gray Davis is using campaign funds to publicize his efforts to ease that state's energy crunch. A series of radio ads feature Governor Davis announcing what he calls an energy update. The ads cost $150,000 a week, paid for out of the governor's estimated $25 million campaign treasury.


GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Since I took office, we've licensed 16 new plants, and in just the last few days I was pleased to open three major plants, the first to be built in California in 13 years, and 7 more are now under construction. We're making progress but we're not out of the woods yet. Until all our new plants come online, your continued conservation is the best way to fight back against high energy prices.


WOODRUFF: Election Day is more than a year away in the Golden State, but Governor Davis has revived his official campaign Web site. It features a large photo of the governor with Actor Martin Sheen, star of television's political drama "The West Wing."

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go on-line all the time at CNN's, AOL keyword CNN. Our e-mail address is

I'm Judy Woodruff. The "FIRST EVENING NEWS" is next.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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