CNN INSIDE POLITICS
President Bush to Convene Summit on Kidnapped Kids; Redistricting Forces House Members to Run Against Each Other; Gubernatorial Races Look Wide Open Across the Country
Aired August 6, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: I'm John King in Washington. President Bush says he's taking steps to prevent children from being kidnapped and killed. But what can he really do besides get some good PR?
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl in Ann Arbor, Michigan where a Democratic legend finds himself in the fight for his political life against another Democrat.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. John Dingell may have served more than four decades in the House, but he's far from the only example of a really long distance political runner.
Also ahead, the president's point man on Capitol Hill. Does he see cooperation or election year partisanship ahead?
KING: Thanks for joining us. I'm John King in Washington. Don't call it a vacation. President Bush said today he is merely, quote, "changing his office from Washington to Texas."
However you characterize it, Mr. Bush is now beginning his month- long stay at his ranch in Crawford. As more proof that he plans to keep working through the dog days of summer, the president made it a point of taking care of some business before leaving the nation's capital. Among other things, he announced a White House summit next month on a problem that has recently dominated the headlines, missing and exploited children.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After the terror of September 11, many parents throughout America found themselves holding their children more closely. Unfortunately, as we work to help our children feel safer by fighting terror, America's children and parents are also facing a wave of horrible violence from twisted criminals in our own communities.
KING: The president also announced the release of this new guidebook with tips for parents to help their children be safer. Robbie Callaway is the chairman of the board for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which helped put this new guidebook together.
Robbie Callaway, thanks for joining us today. The president speaks of a wave of these cases. Statistics don't actually support that though, do they, in terms of the most heinous cases, kidnappings?
ROBBIE CALLAWAY, NATL. CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: No, actually the most heinous cases are going down. The most heinous cases, the Samantha Runnion type case, there are about between 100 and 200 of those a year now and that is a number that has gone down.
KING: And the federal involvement, welcome from the president. Is there really anything a president of the United States can do to help you or is this much more a matter of parents and than God forbid something does happen, of local law enforcement?
CALLAWAY: It's definitely parents, definitely law enforcement. But it does help to have a president involved. I've been around the missing children's issue since the very beginning, when John Walsh's son was abducted and he couldn't find anybody to listen to him.
He finally found some people and one of the people that he found was President Reagan, and he really brought the issue to the forefront. Now to see President Bush do this, I think is very strong and if you are a parent of one of those 200 missing kids, you're going to be very thankful that the president is getting involved.
KING: Back in 1999 in the Clinton administration, the Internal Revenue Service began publishing photos of missing and exploited children in materials it mailed across the country, obviously to millions and millions of taxpayers. Any proof that that particular effort helped? And what specific steps do you want to see come out of this new White House effort and the summit the president will have in September?
CALLAWAY: Well, as far as the photo effort, one in seven children featured in photos, not just the IRS, but photos over all the Advo cards, the posters, one in seven of those children are found. And that's an amazing statistic.
From the president, I don't know that he's looking for any specific legislation. I think he is looking to heighten the issue, heighten the awareness of the issue. I think he's looking to make sure that Attorney General Ashcroft is involved, which he is. Secretary Thompson is involved and the people in this administration are involved. What the president has done, he's appointed people to key jobs, the head of the office of juvenile justice, a fellow named Bob Flores, has a background in this issue. Deborah Daniels (ph) of the office of justice program has a background in this issue.
Wade Horn (ph) at HHS has a background in this issue. So what the president, I think, wants to do is bring all those people together and give some hope to some of these parents. I have dealt with parents who have lost their children like this and I don't know if there is anything sadder that I have ever done. KING: From the president's standpoint, more bully pulpit than any specific legislation.
CALLAWAY: Absolutely, and if we decided there is some specific legislation that we need...
KING: The national "Amber Alert" like in California, would something like that help?
CALLAWAY: Absolutely. The "Amber Alert," the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where I've been fortunate to be the chairman of the board, has supported "Amber Alert" from the beginning and as you saw in California, it worked amazingly. Ten more minutes and those two girls would possibly have been dead.
KING: It was a difficult issue, that is you're right. The children were saved. The girls were saved and the bottom line is obviously that's a positive note. It's an issue where California put the pictures up, the names out. Turned out there had been some sexual abuse in those cases and in those cases you don't want to name the victims. How do you deal with that difficult issue?
CALLAWAY: I think in that issue right there, I'd rather have named those girls and let it be known and have them alive than be talking about them when they are dead.
KING: All right, Robbie Callaway, chairman of the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Thank you for joining us.
CALLAWAY: Thank you, John, appreciate that.
KING: Thank you.
The president's doctor's today proclaimed Mr. Bush is in quote, "extraordinary health." Before heading to Texas, the president had his annual physical at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
His doctors say the exam showed his heart and lung capacity are easily within the top one percent for men his age. At 56, Mr. Bush's blood pressure is 106 over 70 and his resting heart rate is 44 beats per minute. The president's physicians note he has not had any recurrence of skin growths or polyps and no repeat of the pretzel related fainting spell he had earlier this year.
A bipartisan celebration today as President Bush signed the so- called fast track trade authority bill into law. It gives Mr. Bush the power to negotiate trade agreements with other countries that can be accepted or rejected but not changed by the Congress. Fast track authority expired back in 1994 during the Clinton administration, and Congress had refused to reauthorize it until now.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How we use trade promotion authority aggressively to create more good jobs for American workers, more exports for American farmers and higher living standards for American families. Free trade has a proven track record for spurring growth and advancing opportunity for our working families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mr. Bush thanked Democrats for their help on the trade bill. A key Senate Democrat, Max Baucus, behind the president in that picture. But does Mr. Bush expect to get more bipartisan cooperation when Congress returns from its August recess? I asked the White House congressional liaison, Nick Calio.
NICK CALIO, WHITE HOUSE CONGRESSIONAL LIAISON: I think we can expect to see more, John. Today was a big event. The trade promotion authority bill was a historic bill.
It provides us the opportunity to get back in the trade game and become a world leader again, and frankly we've been on the sidelines for a long time. It's a bill the president worked extremely hard on as he has on other signature issues like education, like the tax cut and this was a big one. It's a very difficult vote. We won by one vote in the House two different times.
The Senate passed the bill finally. We got together and we did it before the August recess. That was important because everyone expects an increase in partisanship come September. But you can't minimize what happened in the Congress over the last month. Trade promotion authority was one bill and it will be huge for the economy and for the American people. There was also the corporate responsibility bill, which was done on a bipartisan basis as well.
KING: Let's look ahead after Labor Day. Congress comes back. Senator Daschle says priority one in the Senate will be that new Department of Homeland Security the president very much wants. But still a disagreement with the Democrats in the Senate over the power the administration should have to hire, fire and reorganize that department, personnel issues been a major dispute. Any hope of resolving that during the recess or will that fight resume in September?
CALIO: Frankly, I think that will continue during September. We obviously have a lot of activity planned to get the word out to the public during the August recess. The Department of Homeland Security is very, very important.
We have to keep our focus on why we created, why we suggested creating the department. The president believes that the current system could be made to work, but it couldn't be made to work as efficiently and as effectively as possible to protect the American people. So matters of jurisdiction, matters of turf, committees, chairmanships, don't matter as much as protecting the American people. The House passed a very good bill. We have serious concerns about the bill that passed out of the Senate Government Affairs Committee and the flexibility is one of the main reasons. The president doesn't see any reason it stand up the department and destined failure and we think in terms of the flexibility that the president is asking for, John, it's no more than is in current law.
When they created the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, much more flexibility was provided than we are asking for now.
KING: Negotiations on two big health care issues, the prescription drug benefit for the elderly, the so-called HMO Patients Bill of Rights. Those negotiations collapsed. Democrats trying to negotiate compromise with the White House. On Capitol Hill the leadership in both parties say forget about it. Dead issues for this year. Perhaps issues for the congressional elections but not for passing legislation. Do you agree with that assessment?
CALIO: We don't agree with that. The president is continuing to press to try to get a patients bill of rights that he can sign and to get a prescription drug benefit. Unfortunately -- we work with Senator Kennedy very well. We did talk for months and months and we made tremendous progress in trying to get a patients bill of rights. Where it broke down was over the issue of liability, and the president doesn't believe you protect patients by enriching trial lawyers.
On the prescription drug benefit, there was a lot of movement at the end in the Senate. The House passed a very good bill and we supported that bill. The president would still hope and still is going to try to push to get a prescription drug benefit for seniors done. Can you get in -- if you have private coverage you ought to be able to get Medicare. That's the president's view. It's consistently been his view since the campaign.
KING: At the beginning of this year, the president said not only would he not hesitate but he was quite eager to have a debate about Social Security in an election year, about his plan to allow investors to allow tax payers to take some of their Social Security taxes and invest them in the stock market.
A small percentage, but this is an issue the Democrats now believe they can make hay of because of the turmoil in the stock market. Many Republicans, especially those close to the campaign committees on Capitol Hill, saying forget about this one. Let's not debate that before the November elections. Is that a dead issue?
CALIO: I think it's unlikely there will be any action this year. I think it is a dead flat -- certainty you'll hear the Democrats talking about it. They don't have a plan of their own, quite honestly, but they will continue to use Social Security and Medicare to try to scare seniors. They do it every two years. I don't see why they wouldn't do it now.
KING: A look at Michigan politics, today's primary and other key issues in that major midterm election battleground state when we return. I'll ask term limited Governor John Engler about the race to replace him and the Republican party's battle to stay in charge of other state houses around the nation. Also ahead...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is an agency that suffers greatly from schizophrenia.
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KING: There's plenty to analyze as a number of House incumbents are forced to run against one another this year. Plus, coffee talk. Will proposed laws aimed at java drinkers go down smoothly with the voters?
KING: In Michigan, the senior member of the House of Representatives, Democrat John Dingell is fighting today to stay in office. In other primaries, Republicans in Kansas were battling to hold onto the governorship and in Missouri, Democrat Jeanne Carnahan is facing voters for the first time since being named to replace her late husband in the Senate. But the biggest spotlight is on Michigan. Three Democrats there are battling to run for governor in addition to that strong primary challenge to Congressman John Dingell. Our congressional correspondent Jon Karl is there on the ground in Michigan.
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: We are going to win because of you. Thank you.
KARL (voice-over): John Dingell, Mr. Incumbent, a guy who has spent nearly a half century in Congress, is fighting for survival.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to call WWZ radio. I've called them and done the whatever.
KARL: With maps for precinct captains, last minute phone calls, election eve doorknob signs and sandwiches for the troops, Dingell headquarters is buzzing with a level of activity of a campaign aware that time is running out. There's even a parking lot full of vans ready to shuttle voters to the polls.
DINGELL: I have no intention of losing. I will not lose it. And when I'm done, I intend to plan it continue what I hope the people will say, to you and to me, and everybody else, is a great career of public service.
KARL: A friend of Democratic presidents since Harry Truman, Dingell was first elected to the House in 1955. He's been around long enough to have actually voted to create Medicare, and he hasn't faced a competitive race since 1964. For most of the past 23 elections, Dingell has coasted to victory, last time in a typical year, winning a 44 point landslide. But not this time.
REP. LYNN RIVERS (D), MICHIGAN: This is a kiss from your Congresswoman.
KARL: Thanks to redistricting, Dingell is up against Lynn Rivers, a four-term Democratic incumbent and a local force in her own right.
(on-camera): Is it a little bit intimidating going up against somebody that has won reelection so many times? This guy's not a rookie. He knows how to win elections.
RIVERS: Right, and I certainly have never lost an election either. I think it is uncomfortable to run against another incumbent, particularly one who has been a friend. I don't like it.
KARL (voice-over): For many Rivers supporters, John Dingell has been around long enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's too old school. You know, he is so entrenched that it is time for him to go. He should spend more time golfing, fishing. Maybe read a book or two.
KARL (on-camera): A life-long member of the National Rifle Association, John Dingell has long been the NRA's favorite Democrat in Washington, and that's a fact that doesn't play well here in Ann Arbor, which Dingell suddenly finds a major part of his district. Sarah Brady's handgun control has launched ads attacking Dingelll as an extremist on guns, as this once cordial race has turned nasty in the final weeks.
AD: Lynn Rivers, she's never authored a single piece of legislation that's been signed into law, not one bill, nothing. One of the least effective...
KARL (voice-over): It's a message echoed by Dingell voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Dingell actually gets bills passed. He actually gets things done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is practical. He has more savvy in the Congress, more clout. And right now, we need someone who has that kind of background.
RIVERS: I've certainly seen the ads that suggest that I didn't pass a bill in my first eight years, which is true. But it is a little disingenuous for John to put that out since I've been in Congress under Republican majority. John was there under the Democratic majority and his first eight years from '55 to '63, he only passed one bill.
KARL: But if John Dingell is bitter about being challenged by a relative upstart, he isn't showing it. He's a 76-year-old politician who seems to be genuinely enjoying his first competitive race in nearly two generations.
KING: Jon Karl joins us now from Detroit. Jon, this is a primary election. The polls show it's very tight going in. Obviously turnout matters. What about all the interest groups involved in Democratic primaries traditionally? Tough choices for them. They have to choose between two incumbents here -- Jonathan Karl has just disappeared. We will try to correct those technical gremlins and get him back if possible.
In the meantime, let's bring in Carol Cain. She's assistant national editor for the "Detroit Free Press." She joins us from Detroit as well. Carol Cain, a question I was just going to putting to Jon Karl. In a primary election -- we're having technical issues, oh, that as well.
I apologize. We're going to take a quick break. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back, hopefully technical gremlins resolved. Stay with us.
KING: In the 1980s, it was the Democrats who dominated at the state house level. In the '90s, the Republicans took charge. Now some Democrats believe that trend might once again be coming full circle. Retirements, term limits and other factors have combined to complete plenty of competitive governor's races across the country.
KING (voice-over): Michigan's John Engler will be a former governor come January, just one example of a major changing of the guard at the nation's state houses. And just one example of a major challenge facing the president and his fellow Republicans. There are 36 races for governor this year, 23 of them in states now held by Republicans.
And in 20 of these races, there is no incumbent on the ballot. Twelve of the open races are in states now held by Republicans, six in states held by the Democrats. Maine and Minnesota are the other two, the only states that now have independents in the governor's office. The changing of the guard began when the former Texas governor won the White House. Long-time Republican governors Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania then joined the Bush team, and many other familiar faces will be out of office come January, including Oklahoma's Frank Keating, Minnesota's Jesse Ventura, Vermont's Howard Dean and Michigan's Engler.
KING: And with me now from East Lansing, Michigan is the state's three-term governor, Republican John Engler. Governor, if you're going away, it means I'm getting old. Say it isn't so.
GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: Good afternoon, John.
KING: It's nice to see you, sir. Would you want to be running in this environment, 40 states including your own, are dealing with significant budget problems because of the slowdown in the national economy and other issues. We are having some $40 billion, up to $50 billion in shortfalls. Would you want to be running for governor in this environment right now?
ENGLER: Well, I could win again in Michigan in this environment, but after 12 years I'm ready to move on to something new. I inherited a mess in 1991 when I became governor, many of us did, and we had to make some very tough decisions then.
Actually Michigan is finding itself better prepared. But the challenges keep growing. The health care crisis that we face in the country is probably the greatest challenge that the states are trying to cope with, and the Medicaid costs are rising so fast because the Medicare programs don't cover pharmaceuticals. I think it will be beyond the capability of any state to handle that in the near future.
KING: Some grumbling in your state among your fellow Republicans, friends of yours. But they're worried the Democrats are going to win your state this November because they say you hand picked your lieutenant governor to run and they don't think perhaps he's the best candidate. How do you answer that?
ENGLER: Well, you know what, the way it works is you file your petitions and then you run. Senator George Schwartz (ph), a good friend of mine, is challenging Dick Posthumus, the lieutenant governor. All I did was ask Dick to be the lieutenant governor.
He'd been a very successful eight-year majority leader of the Michigan Senate, our number one legislator. And so I asked him to join the ticket when my lieutenant governor retired four years ago. But everyone's had their shot and you know, the primary decides this today. There is only two running on our side. There's only three running on the Democratic side. And after tonight, you know, we'll have the teams lined up for November.
KING: A long-time governor of Michigan but also a long time player now in national Republican politics. You know the history. The president's party tends to get hurt in the mid-term election year. The Democrats believe, as we noted just a moment ago, that the pendulum is about to swing back their way. You're part of the big Republican class that took at the state house level in the '90s.
What's your sense from your own looking at the data and the race. Is it from talking to your Republican colleagues. Will the Democrats be on top when it comes to controlling the state houses in January?
ENGLER: Well, I think they better not count too quickly. We're going to pick up a number of states that are currently held by Democrats. I will ask Frank Murkowski, I think Linda Ingle's (ph) going to win out in Hawaii.
I think that you've got a couple of congressmen that are running that are looking very, very strong in places like Alabama and Maryland. We look pretty strong in Minnesota. We're going to have some retentions. And then the battlegrounds are going to be the usual suspects, the Michigans and the Pennsylvanias and Wisconsin.
Scott McCullen (ph) is fighting hard up there. Dick Posthumus is going to be a very strong candidate. It looks today that we are either going to have the attorney general, Jennifer Granhome (ph) or Dennis Bonier. They're likely to emerge and the contrasts are sharp. Dick Posthumus had a good primary season. He's ready for the main event. And the Democrats have surprisingly dinged themselves up a little bit and frankly opened up some avenues that are going to be interesting to hear voters responding to when we get a bigger electorate looking at it in September and October.
KING: A couple months back, people would have said the war on terrorism would be the major issue across the country. Now it appears without a doubt it will be the economy. A lot of anger about this corporate corruption. Things like Enron and WorldCom. Unemployment is your state I believe around 6.5 percent, if I had the latest numbers in front of me.
Give us your sense of on the ground, especially among key constituencies, in your state. You were successful cutting into blue collar union voters, a traditionally Democratic constituency. What's it like on the ground? How is the economy playing and is the president hurting the party in that regard?
ENGLER: I don't think -- I think that there is -- you know, Michigan, like so many other states, virtually all states, the president has very high numbers here. Great respect for President Bush.
But you're right, the economy is the issue. It always seems to be the issue in the bread and butter states, and we are one of those states. The car industry is actually selling a lot of cars. The companies aren't making very much money. There is no tolerance for the kind of corporate corruption, the greed, the overreaching on the part of some of the executives that's been reported and revealed.
That cuts Republican, Democrat, there is no difference among the parties on that issue at all. And so I don't think there's an advantage that way unless, and I haven't heard anybody out there trying to defend it in either party. So I don't see that. I do think it gets back, though, to taxes, to spending on education is going to be important. You've got David Bonior promising never to run again if he's nominated, elected, if he doesn't have health care provided for every citizen in Michigan. Well, I'm not sure that that's within the capability of a state to pull off. Tennessee tried and they're struggling with that.
So it is a very challenging environment but one in Michigan that's complicated also, John, by another factor that's somewhat playing out in the country, too, and that's term limits at the legislative level. We'll lose over 500 years of experience in the Michigan senate.
That means of 38 senators next year, I think we'll have two senators serving with 10 years or more experience and then the rest will have two to four years and that is an amazing challenge.
And I think that's going to be advantage probably to Dick Posthumus, with his legislative experience, somebody's hand on the tiller who has been around and seen some of these problems before. KING: All right, John Engler, 12 years the governor of the state of Michigan, 53 years young.
ENGLER: Thanks, John.
KING: We will watch the race. Suspect we haven't heard the last of you, as well.
KING: Take care, Governor. Thanks for joining us.
ENGLER: We'll be talking.
KING: Thank you.
Doctors in Los Angeles have completed the separation of conjoined twins, an update on the little girls' conditions next in the "Newscycle."
Also ahead: as the anniversary approaches, how New York plans to remember victims of the World Trade Center attacks.
KING: Among the stories today in our "Newscycle": New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki today announced plans to commemorate the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. Plans include a bagpipe procession to ground zero. And former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will begin a reading of the names of those killed. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said one aim of the ceremonies is to honor the spirit and the courage of all New Yorkers.
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MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Our intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful, that honor the memory of those we lost that day, and that gives New Yorkers, Americans, and people around the world the opportunity to remember and reflect.
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KING: In Los Angeles, doctors at UCLA Medical Center have separated two conjoined twins in a 22-hour operation. But a little while ago, one of the little girls was taken back into surgery. Doctors say the girl developed a hematoma or collection of blood under the skull. The development is not considered a surprise and doctors believe the condition will be manageable.
Doctors are expected to hold a news conference to update the twins' condition about 30 minutes from now. CNN plans live coverage.
With us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University: Bob Novak on the right, Paul Begala on the left. Gentlemen, the president today signed that legislation. He has new powers now to go out and negotiate free-trade agreements around the world. He has sought this for a long time.
Paul Begala, let's start with you. Your former boss wanted this from the Congress. Some say he didn't have the courage to fight hard enough to get it.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, you know that's nonsense. You were covering the White House at the time, John. I worked for him at the time. And we worked our butts off on it.
But the Republicans, who controlled the Congress then, decided to put their partisanship ahead of patriotism. And they pulled back just enough support to keep President Clinton from having that kind of trade authority. I think it is good that a bipartisan group, Democrats and Republicans, have given that to Bush. But it does show the difference between the two parties. They'll play politics with it on the right.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": That's so ridiculously back- asswards.
NOVAK: It is a Begalan nonsense.
In the first place, the great majority of Republicans voted for fair trade. And the Democrats voted against it because they're under the sway of organized labor. President Clinton didn't work very hard at it. He gave it lip service. That's why it didn't get passed. It had a very small amount of Democrats.
And so the idea is, this is very good politics. It's good for the country. And because labor has such a grip on the Democratic Party, the Democrats can't work hard for it.
KING: All right, let's move on, gentlemen.
From day one almost of the war on terrorism, a debate in this country has been: Saudi Arabia, friend or foe? It turns out now there are reports that, a little while back, an advisory panel to the Pentagon was giving a briefing in which one analyst described Saudi Arabia as an emerging enemy of the United States, said the United States should demand that it crack down on fundamentalists and take other steps against Saudi Arabia.
This is a leak and an issue that rankled the defense secretary, Don Rumsfeld. Listen first to what he had to say earlier today.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And this apparently was a person from the Rand Corporation who was giving a briefing. And he briefed on Saudi Arabia. And it ended up in the newspaper, which is unfortunate. He had an opinion. And of course, everyone has a right to their opinion. It did not represent the views of the government. It didn't represent the views of the Defense Policy Board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bob Novak, does it represent the views of many conservatives, that Saudi Arabia, if not an enemy, a country the United States should at least have a tougher line against?
NOVAK: I'm afraid it is. And it is part of the agenda of the ultra friends of Israel that they started on September 11. Point one on the agenda is give 100 percent support to Prime Minister Sharon. Don't negotiate. Point No. 2: Invade Iraq. Point No. 3: Disconnect from Saudi Arabia.
And Don Rumsfeld has got a real problem with this Defense Policy Board, which is headed by Richard Perle, who advocates all of those things. It's a real difficulty that he's going to have to come to grips with.
BEGALA: Well it is, John. And, in fact, it's of political difficulty for the president, not just for Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who looked like he was so angry, he would put his fist through the wall or something.
As Bob points out, the president's critics of his Saudi Arabian policy are on the right. I happen to be on the left and share that criticism. I think that the way particularly President Bush kissed up to and sucked to Prince Abdullah, Crown Prince Abdullah, when he came to Crawford, Texas, was shameful. This is a man who leads an authoritarian regime, who is no friend to the United States and certainly no friend of Israel.
Don't forget that most of the terrorists who came here to kill our citizens were Saudis. So I think it is good that somebody is speaking up. It happens to be on the right right now. It will be interesting to see how President Bush handles the politics.
NOVAK: John, I see history repeating itself, when people on the left and on the right were aligned against the shah of Iran. We ended up with this radical Islamic regime, which is still a tremendous burden for us. I guarantee you, the alternative to the royal rule in Saudi Arabia will be worse. I think they're playing with fire on this.
KING: All right, gentlemen, one more.
This morning, before heading off for his working vacation, the president announced next month he will have this summit on missing and exploited children. He released this small report here urging parents to take steps to educate their children about what to do.
Paul, in the Clinton administration, some of us referred to events like this as a Rahmny, Rahm Emanuel fond of coming up with these events where the president could make an announcement, have an event that got him into the national debate on an issue, if you will, a school shooting sometimes, missing children other times.
Is this the right thing for a president to do? Can a president be effective in drawing attention to solving a problem that is obviously, to the parents involved, a crisis?
BEGALA: Well, in fact, I think you have just proved that he can be. I think it is terrific that Bush is doing this.
You're right. I heard about it this morning when I was jogging and listening on the radio. And I thought the same thing of my old pal Rahm Emanuel I worked with in the White House, soon to be Congressman Emanuel. But he was a master, as Clinton was, of finding these things that matter to people's lives, shining a light on it, and showing that the president can be at the vital center of our nation's issues. And good for Bush for taking it up. My hat's off to him.
NOVAK: The fact that Paul Begala has just said the first nice thing about George W. Bush in weeks ought to make him wonder about this.
He may call it the bully pulpit, but I call it too much government. Does government have to get involved in everything?
KING: Does it hurt for the president, though, to draw attention to this, Bob?
NOVAK: Well, I don't know. I'm not a politician. I'd like to see the president stick to conservative principles. And getting involved in everything isn't one of them.
KING: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much.
Paul Begala and Bob Novak.
If viewers want more, tune in tonight for "CROSSFIRE" live from George Washington University.
Clashes of the political titans are coming up next. We'll look at the headbutting and fireworks when two House incumbents are pitted against one another.
KING: This interesting footnote on today's Michigan primary: The Justice Department has sent 32 federal observers to monitor the treatment of Arab-American voters in Hamtramck. The observers, we should note, were authorized by a federal court back in 2000, well before September 11 attacks raised additional concerns about possible discrimination against Arab-Americans.
Now for more on developments in to Michigan politics, let's bring in Carol Cain, assistant national editor for "The Detroit Free Press."
Carol Cain, a critical primary out there today, two heavyweights, Lynn Rivers vs. the dean of the House of Representatives, John Dingell. I spoke to a leading pollster in your state a short time ago who said he believes Lynn Rivers may benefit here, not from her own campaign, but from the Democratic primary for governor. Explain.
CAROL CAIN, "DETROIT FREE PRESS": Well, a little bit about that. The more people that show up to vote Democrat, I think Lynn Rivers is hoping more of those people obviously vote for her. Lynn Rivers is also hoping that people in Ann Arbor, which is part of this newly redistricted area, vote for her and show up and that she'll be the new Congress person there.
KING: And Janet Granholm, one of the three candidates for governor. She's the attorney general, running against a former governor -- Jennifer Granholm, I'm sorry -- running against a former governor, James Blanchard, as well as a man who left the House of Representatives, the No. 2 Democrat, David Bonior. Is it is a surprise to you that many believe the attorney general, Jennifer Granholm, will be the nominee come tomorrow morning?
CAIN: Well, I think right now it is still -- it is down in the home stretch. It's a three-way race going on there. Jennifer Granholm has been leading through much of the poll. But, again, statistically, they're all very even.
Jim Blanchard, obviously a two-time governor before, is hoping he can do it. David Bonior, the former House whip, a 13-term congressman, is hoping he can do it. Jennifer Granholm, a newly elected attorney general 1998, is hoping she can pull it off. So, we'll have to wait to see what happens there.
KING: Hard to understand sometimes, sitting in Washington, what might be the local issue that's causing a ripple effect in your state -- unemployment right now in Michigan at 6.5 percent, I believe, budget deficit of $968 million. Is it the economy, budget and taxes, or is there something else at play in Michigan today?
CAIN: Right now the economy is No. 1, no doubt about that.
Education here in the state, as it is across the country, is a big issue. And, certainly, other things like the abortion issue, gun rights, those are both issues that have figured in both the congressional and the governor's race.
KING: And I spoke to your governor, John Engler, a few moments ago, and asked him about some Republican grumbling in the state, if you will, that perhaps he picked the wrong man or at least supported the wrong man to lead the party to try to hold that seat in November.
Is that your sense as well? Are Republicans worried that, after 12 years of John Engler, they will lose their hold on the governorship?
CAIN: Well, I think the Democrats are certainly hoping that much.
But among the Republicans, obviously Dick Posthumus was anointed very early on by John Engler. Some people I know in his party did want that process to play out a little bit. But Joe Schwarz, a well- known state senator, is running against him, a much more moderate part of the party. And I know some people think if he had more money and more support within the party, he might have a better shot against one of the three Democratic candidates.
KING: It is a state President Bush lost in campaign 2001, he very much hopes to target for campaign 2004. He was at 80 percent in the Michigan polls not that long ago, down to 60 percent about right now, still pretty good. Any sense at all, is the president a factor in these elections at all or is it largely local issues and the debate between your candidates?
CAIN: Well, ironically enough, Joe Schwarz was running John McCain's campaign here in Michigan in the 2000 primary. If you recall, Michigan, John McCain did win the state. So, obviously, I'm not sure how much pull George W. Bush will have in the state necessarily.
KING: All right, Carol Cain, assistant national editor for "The Detroit Free Press," thank you very much for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS.
CAIN: Thank you, John.
KING: Thank you.
We reported earlier on Congressman John Dingell's primary battle today against fellow House Democrat Lynn Rivers. But Michigan is by no means the only place where two incumbents are duking it out because of congressional redistricting.
Here is our national correspondent Bruce Morton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: It's too bad Roy Barnes messed up our districts. Linder's OK, but Bob Barr, he's just born to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Georgia, two Republicans face off in an August 20th primary: Bob Barr, the firebrand, first House member to call for Bill Clinton's impeachment, a defender of privacy who denounced an administration proposal to have Americans spy on one another, here attacking the Immigration Service.
REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: It is an agency that suffers greatly from schizophrenia.
MORTON: He is running against John Linder, a Newt Gingrich protege, on the Rules Committee, more of an inside player. It's an open primary in a Republican district, so the winner will keep his seat.
STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The activists are all behind Bob Barr. They see him as the guy who will lead the charge, even if it's just a charge of one, that being Barr.
MORTON: In Connecticut, 10-term incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson, chair of an important Ways and Means Subcommittee, she has had the president visit and the vice president, raised way more money than Democrat James Maloney, who said he will only serve one more term.
ROTHENBERG: When you look at the cash on hand, when you look at the fact that Maloney has made himself a lame duck by saying this would be his last term, I think Nancy Johnson has emerged as a narrow favorite here.
MORTON: In Illinois, conservative Democrat David Phelps, a former gospel singer and songwriter, faces conservative Republican John Shimkus. Both are anti-abortion, anti-gun control. Shimkus has more money.
In Mississippi, Republican Congressman Chip Pickering is favored, unless Democrat Ronnie Shows can make corporate crookedness the issue. WorldCom is in the district.
In Pennsylvania, the Democrats may have their best chance. Five- term veteran Tim Holden has raised more money than 10-term GOP veteran George Gekas, one of the House impeachment managers against Clinton.
Whoever wins, these are a different kind of election.
ROTHENBERG: These are two members who have a stake in the club. They have been in Washington. They feel part of Washington. And one of them is going to be fired. That's very different than one of the candidates hoping to be hired.
MORTON: Yes, half the members you've seen in this report will lose their jobs.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
KING: In that Michigan race, Congressman John Dingell is fighting to hold the seat his father once held. But he's not alone in making politics the family business. Up next: The longevity list reaches far beyond Strom Thurmond. Jeff Greenfield shares his thoughts when we return.
KING: When it comes to length of time in public office, names like Kennedy and Thurmond often spring to mind.
But, as our Jeff Greenfield notes, those two senators have plenty of company. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: When Congressman John Dingell first came to the Congress, Ike was in the White House, "I Love Lucy" was in its first run, and the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. His 46 1/2- year run is even more remarkable when you remember that he was succeeding his father, who came to the Congress when FDR was a first- term president.
So, what makes for political longevity and just how common is it for people to treat politics as something like a family business?
(voice-over): Here's the ranking champion, South Carolina's Strom Thurmond, who came to the Senate in 1954 and who will leave after this term at age 100. And, remember, he was the state's governor before that.
Robert Byrd from West Virginia has been in the Senate for 43 years and spent six years in the House before that; Daniel Inouye, senator from Hawaii for almost 40 years, with four years in the House before that; Ted Kennedy, first elected to the Senate in 1962 to the seat his brother Jack first won in 1952 after he won a House seat back in 1946.
That kind of family tradition is kind of common. Huey Long was first elected governor of Louisiana in 1928. Then he went to the Senate. His son Russell served in that same Senate seat for almost 40 years. And Huey's brother Earl was the state's flamboyant governor.
"Fighting Bob" LaFollette of Wisconsin was that state's governor and then senator. His son Bob was also a senator. And, in fact, the LaFollettes are still players in Wisconsin politics.
Remember former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum? Her dad, Alf Landon, was the state's governor and ran against Franklin Roosevelt for president in 1936.
Now, you probably know this family, the first father-son presidential twosome since John and John Quincy Adams. And you probably know the president's brother, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. But, in fact, their grandfather, Prescott, served as a United States senator from Connecticut.
But here is a less familiar face from the all-time long-distance political family. This is Rodney Frelinghuysen, a congressman from New Jersey. His family has been representing the state in Washington since 1793. In fact, one of his ancestors, Theodore, ran as vice president with Henry Clay as a Whig in 1844, giving birth to that great campaign song. "Hurrah, hurrah, the country is arisen. Hurrah, hurrah for Clay and Frelinghuysen." Well, they lost.
(on camera): So, how do you run against such entrenched political power? With respect, with a future-vs.-the-past theme, and maybe with a touch of humor. Back in 1994, Representative Neal Smith of Iowa was seeking a 19th term in the House. His opponent drove around in a 1958 DeSoto, symbolizing the length of Smith's tenure. And Smith lost.
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
KING: Checking the headlines now in "Campaign News Daily": Washington Mayor Anthony Williams is continuing efforts to get his name back on the primary ballot for reelection. Attorneys for Williams today appealed the recent decision removing the mayor's name from the ballot. Mayor Williams' name was removed after the D.C. Elections Board ruled his campaign petitions were filled with phony signatures.
Georgia Congressman Bob Barr hopes a bus ride will help energize his conservative base against fellow Republican incumbent John Linder. This weekend, Barr plans to cruise through the new 7th District in a bus filled with some of the big names in the conservative movement. The passenger list includes Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, radio host G. Gordon Liddy, and Grover Norquist of the National Taxpayers Union.
Out West, the famously left-of-center voters in Seattle and Berkeley will consider citizen initiatives this November aimed at improving society by targeting coffee drinkers. Seattle voters will consider a 10 cent tax on espresso drinks. The money would go toward child care programs. In Berkeley, a ballot proposal calls for a ban on the sale of any coffee that is not organic, shade grown, or purchased at a minimum market price -- something to ponder over the morning coffee.
I'll be back in just a moment, but now let's take a look at what's coming up next on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Miles O'Brien sitting in for Wolf this week -- hello, Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Ah, the high cost of waking up, John.
Coming up on our program: separated after birth. The conjoined twins are out of the surgery that separated them, not out of the woods just yet. We'll have an update for you from our doctor in the house, Dr. Gupta. Also, she was snatched from her home in February and murdered. Soon the fate of Danielle van Dam's accused killer will be in the hands of a jury. Have the lawyers done their job? Those stories, plus more on a Hollywood murder mystery: We will show you exclusive pictures inside the home of actor Robert Blake at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.
KING: That's it today for INSIDE POLITICS.
Please join us tomorrow. Vice President Dick Cheney delivers a major speech on the economy in San Francisco. Our coverage of that will include interviews with White House political adviser Mary Matalin, as well as the House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt -- again, all that tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us today. I'm John King in Washington.
"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" begins right now.
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Redistricting Forces House Members to Run Against Each Other; Gubernatorial Races Look Wide Open Across the Country>