CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Exclusive Look Inside al Qaeda; Debate Over War With Iraq Intensifies; McKinney Faces Tough Challenge in Primary
Aired August 19, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Terror on tape. An exclusive look inside al Qaeda. We'll discuss the possible political implications of the videos obtained by CNN.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King with the president in Crawford, Texas. The political debate over whether the administration should launch military strikes against Iraq is intensifying just as the president's national security team heads here to visit him on the ranch. Iraq, however, not the main topic of those discussions.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge in Decatur, Georgia. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's verbal slaps against the White House may be coming back to haunt her as she faces a tough Democratic primary challenge tomorrow.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in London where a great transatlantic love affair is on the rocks. Stay tuned for the juicy details.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
Almost a year after September 11, a revealing new look at al Qaeda's terrorist training and the threat that Osama bin Laden's network may still pose to the United States. CNN has obtained a large archive of al Qaeda behind the scenes videos, 64 tapes in all spanning more than a decade. Among the tapes a chilling look at chemical testing, poisonous gasses used on dogs, tests which appear to measure he deadly effectiveness of the weapons. Experts believe the tests show just how close al Qaeda is to harnessing such a poison gas.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This is the first direct evidence of them experimenting with these kinds of agents. We have heard, there's documents that have referred to these things, that have been discovered since the fall of the Taliban. U.S. officials have said that they are experimenting with these kinds of materials. But I mean, here we've got visual evidence of the fact. It is not clear what the agent was exactly but it's clearly not good for your health.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The tapes obtained by CNN also include never before seen video of Osama bin Laden in 1998 as al Qaeda prepared to announce its jihad against Americans. Plus, a how-to guide on making purified TNT from easy-to-get materials. Ambush training and even off air tapings of September 11 attacks. Stay with CNN throughout the week for our series, terror on tape. And later on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll get reaction from members of Congress and from several international journalists.
And now we want it get some reaction to those tapes from the Bush White House. Our senior White House correspondent John King is with the president in Crawford, Texas after filling in for me for the last two weeks. John, what are they saying out there about this?
KING: Well, Judy, first and foremost we should say we are told the president is being kept up to speed on our reports. Unclear yet whether he has actually watched any.
The White House trying to check in on that but they say he was briefed this morning on the contents of our initial reports. White House officials saying this is a troubling video, vivid illustration of what they say is the brutality and the sophistication of al Qaeda and its efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. Unclear though, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary told us a few moments ago is what are al Qaeda's capabilities now. The administration says it is competent it has wiped out those camps, wiped out those laboratories in Afghanistan. The question is, could al Qaeda deliver such weapons from somewhere else in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: I will leave it to others the judgments about what these tapes mean in terms of support of the American people. But the American people know that we have an enemy out there who hit us on September 11 and if they had the chance, they would hit us again. That's why the president is determined to protect our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Also, Mr. Fleischer said while the president is determined to keep al Qaeda from reconstituting any camps in any other countries around and the world, Ari Fleischer also saying is the administration watches these tapes as we air them, intelligence officials interested in getting the raw tapes somewhere down the road so that they can analyze them to see if they could be helpful either in any ongoing investigations or in any ongoing assessments of just what al Qaeda's capabilities might be now, almost one year after those September 11 attacks -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: John, to turn you now to the other topic of discussion out there, the meeting the president's planning this week with his national security team and yet despite all the debate out there in the open about Iraq, you are telling us that Iraq is not going to be the main topic?
KING: Not the main topic. That doesn't mean it won't come up. It almost always does at meetings like this. But the vice president, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are coming here just as they did last summer to discuss the reform agenda, the transformation agenda of Secretary Rumsfeld to change the constitution and the makeup and in some cases the weaponry of the United States military, a particular emphasis on missile defense at this meeting, we are told.
That does not mean, though, that Iraq will not come up at all, and Ari Fleischer also saying today that the president does not view all this what we would call criticism from Republicans, certainly words of caution from fellow Republicans as criticism. Ari Fleischer insisting the president views it as part of a healthy debate and that in time, once he decides just how he wants to remove Saddam Hussein from power and the White House reiterating today that is the president's goal that Mr. Bush will brief the American people, will brief key members of Congress and key allies and believes then he will have much more of a consensus and much more open public support -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, thank you, John. We appreciate it.
And now -- now we go on the record about Iraq policy with former Reagan national security adviser Robert McFarlane. First of all, when it comes to a preemptive strike on Iraq, Robert McFarlane, where do you come down?
ROBERT McFARLANE, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think it is one thing Judy to define a threat and this is a very, very real threat, biological weapons in the hands of someone hates us. It's quite another to launch an enterprise of war unless you are very confident you can achieve your goals. And I think right now the president is facing the fact that any effort, massive military force, is going to be required for a long long time with a very, very uncertain outcome and very, very high cost.
WOODRUFF: Would you agree with General Norman Schwarzkopf who of course commanded U.S. forces during the Persian Gulf war that to do this, would among other things cause Saddam Hussein to unleash any weapons of mass destructions that he has?
McFARLANE: It could very well. I think the recent effort by the administration to focus on Iraqis, is designed in part to relieve one of our own boys or lacks in planning an attack and that is to try to get better intelligence. Today we really have awful understanding of where are these weapons and thus it would take us perhaps years to go and find them at very high cost.
WOODRUFF: Are you saying action is unjustified until the U.S. has better intelligence about what's going on there?
McFARLANE: I think clearly that's the case. We have to be able to have some confidence. We're going to be able to deal and solve the problem. Today we don't.
WOODRUFF: The "New York Times" reported over the weekend just yesterday, that during the time you were President Reagan's national security adviser, the Reagan administration secretly gave important critical military help to Iraq at a time when there was the Iraq, Iran war going on. First of all, did this happen and was it the level of help that would put Iraq in a position today to unleash chemical weapons and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction?
McFARLANE: To answer your first question, our policy was that we didn't want Iran to win. We didn't want Iraq to win either. And so our policy was geared to how can we avoid either of them coming to dominate the Persian Gulf region. At a time, there were voices in the cabinet that believed that Iraq had promise and might conceivably be wooed into a more stable behavior in the future. But the policy, the president decided on, was that we don't want either side to win and that's what conditioned our behavior.
WOODRUFF: But the help that U.S. gave Saddam Hussein, helped in effect to put him in the strong position that he is in today.
McFARLANE: Well, implicitly you ignore what if we hadn't, and Iran had come to dominate the north end of the Persian Gulf, which would have been I think far worse outcome. But our policy achieved its ends. That is to the extent that Iran didn't win and didn't launch this theocratic crusade throughout the Middle East.
WOODRUFF: When you say people in the administration believed at that time that Iraq showed promise, who were they? Who were the administration held that belief?
McFARLANE: The secretary of defense as well as our representative at the United Nations.
WOODRUFF: Casper Weinberger, Jeane Kirkpatrick (ph).
McFARLANE: Right, had hoped for a time that from their own talks with Tariq Aziz, a permanent at the time foreign minister of Iraq, that there could be some ability to influence Iraq in a more stable direction.
WOODRUFF: Finally in retrospect, was this policy a mistake?
McFARLANE: No, I don't think so. In the context of avoiding a victory by Iran it made very good sense at the time. Bear in mind, we were certainly not providing the means for Iraq to win the war, certainly not.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob McFarlane, I appreciate it. Good to see you again.
McFARLANE: A pleasure.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much for coming by.
Well, the drum beat here in Washington over whether to strike Iraq is being heard loud and clear overseas and it is helping to sour many Europeans views of President Bush. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is in London.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): After September 11, President Bush won over European opinion as he vowed to save the world from terrorism. It looked like a great love affair with America was beginning. Now, nearly a year later, it's over. All London was abuzz last week when a newspaper reported that a poll commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed President Bush's, quote, "spectacular unpopularity" among British voters. No further details.
Where did this story come from? Gossip, leaks, based on casual unscientific evidence. So how did this story get into a reputable newspaper? Well, it's August. And something else says one of Blair's closest advisers.
PETER MANDELSON, FORMER CABINET MINISTER: President Bush has come in for a lot of criticism, some mockery, and actually some condescension from media commentators in Britain.
SCHNEIDER: That kind of disdain for President Bush has filtered down to public opinion, not just in Britain but across Europe.
JESSICA ELGOOD, MORI HOUSE POLLSTER: On average, only one in five Europeans approve of the way he is doing his job, which is extremely low, and lower than predecessor Clinton, who was far more popular.
SCHNEIDER: Partly, it's a matter of style. Bill Clinton had charm. So did Ronald Reagan. George W. Bush?
JONATHAN FREEDLANG, THE GUARDIAN: When somebody like President Clinton traveled, you got a thing you just knew which buttons to press, no matter if he was in London, Prague or Paris. He just had a very emollient, smooth way of talking. George Bush seems often abrasive. He seems aggressive. His manner, his body language often seems like he's in a hurry. He'd rather not be there.
SCHNEIDER: In overwhelming numbers, the French, the British, the Italians and the Germans believe President Bush's decisions are based entirely on U.S. interests and do not take European interests into account. The big fear right now, Iraq. This month, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder opened his reelection campaign by rejecting what he called American adventures in Iraq.
Public opposition is building in Britain. Last fall, the British were solidly behind U.S. action in Afghanistan. But this year, they have not been supportive of a U.S. strike on Iraq. Governments together, publics apart. That's the problem and it's bigger than Iraq.
ELGOOD: Fifty-three percent of the British public now see Europe as our closest ally. Only a third see America as our closest ally. Clearly, that shows a shift in British opinion, if we look 20 years ago, we would see opposite.
SCHNEIDER: Increasingly, Europeans say President Bush is your leader, not our leader. We'll drink your coffee, but we won't follow your leadership.
Bill Schneider, CNN London.
WOODRUFF: We'll have more on opinions overseas when we return. How would a U.S. attack on Iraq play in European capitals? We'll ask international journalists about that and the newly discovered al Qaeda tapes.
Also ahead, are AIDS activists who jeered Health Secretary Tommy Thompson the subject of a witch hunt? That story in our "Daily Debate." Plus...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CYNTHIA McKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: I was not elected to remain silent, to sit down or to shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Outspoken, under fire, and fighting back. Will Cynthia McKinney's career in Congress survive a primary challenge tomorrow?
WOODRUFF: For an international perspective on the newly discovered al Qaeda tapes and on U.S. policy toward Iraq, I'm joined here in Washington by three journalists from the European news media. Roger Horne is the U.S. bureau chief for NTV, a German television network. Julian Borger is the U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper, "The Guardian" and Laura Simon is a U.S. correspondent for Radio France.
Roger Horne, let me begin with you about the tapes. Should we all be more afraid of al Qaeda as a result of seeing what they are capable of doing?
ROGER HORNE, NTV: Well, sure. We showed these tapes this morning in Germany as well. We put a report out and many people called in and they were afraid and they asked for more action against al Qaeda because we saw probably cyanide. We saw probably other weapons of mass destruction we saw that these people are capable to nearly everything.
WOODRUFF: Are we learning much more, Julian Borger, based on what we see in these tapes?
JULIAN BORGER, THE GUARDIAN: No, I don't think in real terms. Obviously they have a great visual effect but in terms of what we know about what al Qaeda is trying to do, we don't learn that much more. There was already testimony that they'd investigated chemical weapons or poisons. We don't really know from those tapes exactly what was being used there. So in real terms, nothing much. WOODRUFF: But Julia Simon (sic), Laura Simon, I should say, my apologies, a chilling these pictures of dogs dying, and just the willingness of these people to -- we know now they are capable of doing some of these terrible things.
LAURA SIMON, RADIO FRANCE: The images are chilling. It's impressive. I wanted to cry this morning, the pets. But who says they succeeded in their task? Nobody knows. I mean, did they go further, I don't know. Nobody says or proved that they went to the end. And I pray to God, I pray to God that they didn't succeed.
WOODRUFF: I think an emotional reaction to all of this is significant. I want to turn you both, all three of you now to you Iraq. And Roger Horne, come back to you. This whole debate in the last weeks here in the United States and elsewhere about Iraq, we heard in Bill Schneider's report a few moments ago reaction among the population, unenthusiastic toward any idea that the U.S. would go into Iraq. What are you hearing and what is your government saying about it?
HORNE: I mean, the voices of the government opposition and the people in the country are very similar about 70 to 75 percent are against a war or military action against Iraq. They are for a change in government there but not by force because so far, nobody has told or talked about the implications for the whole region there.
WOODRUFF: Julian Borger, what about you? What about in Great Britain?
BORGER: Well, of course in Great Britain and Tony Blair in particular, President Bush has his one supporter, one important supporter when it comes to taking on Saddam Hussein. But you look more broadly at British public opinion, there is very little support for him; 28 percent in a recent poll said that they thought the U.S. would be justified in taking on Iraq. And only 19 percent wanted British troops involved. And Tony Blair has really the biggest challenge of his eight years as Labor party leader now facing him if he was to pursue this.
WOODRUFF: And Laura Simon, what about among the French people?
SIMON: The French government and the French people want Saddam Hussein -- want to force Saddam Hussein to accept the return of the U.N. weapons inspector. Why? Because in four years of inspections, more weapons of mass destructions have been moved and destroyed than in the Gulf War itself. And they think that all the diplomacy possibilities have not been explored yet. And Saddam Hussein is on the edge because it's arm wrestling to accept the return of the inspectors. So we have to explore all the possibilities before we go to a war.
WOODRUFF: Is there -- if there were evidence that were discovered that Saddam Hussein had directly aided al Qaeda, would that make a different, do you think?
HORNE: It would make a difference. But so far there is no prove at all and from that point of view, especially the Germans, the German government is waiting for much more diplomacy.
WOODRUFF: And what about in Great Britain?
BORGER: I think that would make a difference. The other element that might make a difference is conclusive proof that he has weapons of mass destruction that he intends or has a means of using against the West, Britain and the U.S.
WOODRUFF: But until there are inspectors that's difficult to know.
BORGER: Well, the British government has drawn up this very famous dossier that it hasn't released yet which it claims has evidence or at least information about this. But the question is, how much credibility will that have, if it is released, publicized just before an imminent invasion. There would be a certain degree of public skepticism toward it.
WOODRUFF: Would evidence make a difference in France?
SIMON: I don't think. I'm not sure. There is no evidence. There are suspicions. And you know the axis of evil, it is too easy. It's populist. We all know in France that an invasion from America, from the Bush administration is just a pretext for oil and not for the change of al Qaeda. That's too easy.
WOODRUFF: That's the view from France. Laura Simon with Radio France, Julian Borger with "The Guardian" and Roger Horne with NTV, German television. We thank you all. It's good to see you.
SIMON: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Our appreciation.
Well, reaction from members of Congress to those al Qaeda videotapes just ahead. But first, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler. She's at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update. Hello, Rhonda.
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN FINANCIAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Judy. Stock market off to another stellar start this week. All three major indices powering ahead in today's session. Counting its triple- digit advance today, the Dow Jones industrial average has surged 1,200 points in the last four weeks. Let's take a look at the closing numbers for you now. The Dow Industrial Average adding 213 points or nearly 2.5 percent. That puts the blue chip average less than 10 points away from 9,000. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq gained 2.5 percent. Standard & Poor's 500 climbed more than 2 percent.
Retail, a stand up sector today. Home improvement chain Lowe's said it's nailed a 42 percent jump from quarterly profits. Better than expected results grow shares of its stock, up more than $4. That also helped boost rival Home Depot. It added 93 cents today. Toys "R" Us reported a narrower loss from the same period a year ago. Its shares up better than $1. JC Penney gaining ground after announcing strong back to school sales. That's a quick look at business news today. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break including an inside look into tomorrow's Georgia congressional primary.
WOODRUFF: More now on our top story, al Qaeda terror training tapes obtained by CNN, including tests of poisonous gas conducted on dogs. Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow has reaction from Capitol Hill, Hi, Kate.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Congressman Tom Lantos put it this way, he said these tapes, the reaction is horror and disgust, but certainly, not surprise. That being voiced by members on both sides of the aisle here. Both sides of the aisle saying this reaffirms how potent an enemy al Qaeda really is.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott issuing a statement saying the tapes lend further justification to America's war, worldwide war on terrorism and a strongly worded statement coming from Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat. She says it's vital that the U.S. continue in the strongest terms its military effort against al Qaeda. Congressman Peter King phrased this as sort of a wakeup call it America and to Congress. He said these tapes are -- the further we get away from September 11 showing us we can't forget how serious the threat is.
"Most of us," he said, "have sort of had a supposition that they have been weakened, that they are in a state of confusion," they being al Qaeda on the run. "But you look at this and you realize," he said, "that it's still pretty tough out there."
Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Terrorism Subcommittee told me that she thinks there's no question that there is evidence here that these are dangerous people that we are dealing with. These are highly skilled people but she cautioned about that portion of the videotape where you see the dog who appears to be being poisoned by some kind of chemical agent. Congresswoman Harman saying let's not jump to conclusions. Whatever it was, we don't know what their capability would be to do this to a large population. "The issue, she said, "has never been making the chemicals. The issue has always been dissemination."
That said, Congresswoman Harman does say the tapes clearly point to the U.S. vulnerability. She says the need to create a homeland security department bringing it back around Judy to something we are going to hear debated when Congress returns from its month long recess, the homeland security department. She's saying that this is certainly going to be brought up in that discussion -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: No doubt about that. Kate, what about any comment about the fact that it was CNN that got these tapes and not a government intelligence agency?
SNOW: Right. I've asked every member I've talked to today about that question about whether the CIA perhaps should have gotten a hold of these tapes and it's interesting. Democrats and Republicans alike have not been critical. They have said kudos to CNN for obtaining the tapes but we don't know, several of them said we don't know what the state of intelligence is precisely within the CIA. May be they do have access to this kind of material. One congressman did say though that it shows that perhaps the media have a bit more access than U.S. intelligence -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kate at the Capitol, thanks.
And with us now, former Clinton deputy chief of staff Maria Echaveste and Rich Lowry of the "National Review." I want to turn you both to a domestic story and that is the report in today's "Washington Post" that the Department of Health and Humans Services is investigating the funding of several prominent AIDS advocacy groups after representatives of this groups booed Secretary Tommy Thompson at an AIDS conference overseas. Maria, is this a legitimate inquiry into the funding of these groups or is this a witch hunt?
MARIA ECHAVESTE, FMR. CLINTON DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I think it's a witch hunt. I think it's really astonishing that this administration would seek, I mean they're sending a signal that there may be retribution for people expressing their freedom of speech and it's just really shocking, particularly what organizations are usually limited to in lobbying on the hill, certainly not expressing their opinion. So Republicans are very good of always destroying their enemies and rewarding their friends and this looks like another example of it.
WOODRUFF: Shocking, Rich?
RICH LOWRY, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, first of all, this went well -- what these groups engaged in went well beyond expressing their opinions or even booing.
They engaged in a 30-minute effort -- a successful effort -- to shout down and make it impossible to hear the HHS secretary give an address at an international conference. So if you're a member of one of these groups that, on the one hand, fattens itself on federal funds, and on the other hand, goes overseas to shout down U.S. officials, you should expect to get some blowback and some additional attention from Congress.
And the fact is, the AIDS establishment in this country, I think, need a good look. It needs some shaking up. The HIV rate has not declined in a decade. And maybe we need to think about some different ideas instead of just exclusively giving out free condoms and free needles as a way of combating HIV, which has clearly failed as a strategy.
WOODRUFF: Well, we're promoting "The Washington Post" today, because there's another story they had over the weekend I want to ask you about.
This was not a front-page story, but it was in the Saturday "Post": essentially that donors to the Bush campaign have stayed overnight in the Bush White House, after obvious criticism during the campaign that this was done by President Clinton.
Maria, here are some of these names, but they include people like Governor Tom Ridge, who served as the head of Homeland Security. We know Joe O'Neill is a lifelong friend of the president. Is this really anywhere nearly as egregious as what happened during the Clinton White House era?
ECHAVESTE: Well, I think the first thing is that it's the first list. We don't know what's going to happen in the next two years when -- really, to me, is, if you're criticizing during the campaign and then you turn around and it essentially looks like you're doing the same thing, then the hypocrisy is there for everyone to see.
And, really, again, if it's as simple as rewarding your friends, I would wish that we could use the same standard to whomever is occupying the White House. But that was never the case with President Clinton.
WOODRUFF: Is this just applying the same standard, Rich?
Look, I mean, President Clinton went well beyond just spending time with his buddies at the White House. There's voluminous documentation of the fact the Clinton sleepovers were part of a very sophisticated, well-thought-out plan that the president himself approved to raise money.
There was that famous memo -- at least famous at the time -- from Terry McAuliffe that Bill Clinton scribbled on, "Ready to start overnights right away." And President Bush is having some friends and supporters in the White House, but it's nothing on the order of what President Clinton did. And to suggest that it is is just totally not factual.
ECHAVESTE: Well, it seems to me very interesting, so it's a question of degree. I guess if you reward some of your friends, but not all of your friends, then you're OK, but if you...
LOWRY: Sure. There's a difference -- there's clearly a difference between have someone of your friends...
ECHAVESTE: Either it's improper or it's not improper.
LOWRY: Well not, exactly. Look, if you have friends to the White House who are fund-raisers...
ECHAVESTE: Who happen to be rich.
LOWRY: That happened to be fund-raisers, that is different than using the White House in a calculated, well-thought-out scheme to raise money, which everyone knows the Clinton White House did. And to deny it is to deny reality.
WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to leave it there. We know that none of us has been invited.
WOODRUFF: Rich Lowry, Maria Echaveste, thank you both. We'll see you very soon.
LOWRY: Thank you so much.
ECHAVESTE: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, meantime, the Democrats running for New York governor hold their first debate -- that story ahead in our "Campaign News Daily".
Also, Louis Farrakhan joins the fray in a Georgia congressional primary -- an inside look at tomorrow's 4th District showdown when we return.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": New York Democrats Andrew Cuomo and Carl McCall held the first debate in their race for the party nomination for governor. The two candidates spent a lot of time criticizing Republican incumbent George Pataki. They were also given a chance to say something nice about each other. McCall declined the offer. Cuomo said, while he thinks McCall is -- quote -- "a good man," he said he preferred to talk about the issues.
An Arkansas poll finds an extremely tight Senate race between Republican Tim Hutchinson and Democrat Mark Pryor. Hutchinson, the incumbent, has 45 percent; Pryor 42 percent. The Zogby survey was taken more than a week ago for "The Arkansas Democrat Gazette."
Georgia voters head to the polls tomorrow to decide two of the nation's most contentious races for Congress. In the GOP primary for the new 7th District, incumbents Bob Barr and John Linder squared off in a televised debate over the weekend. The two traded accusations about campaign contributions and unsolicited mailings.
The other Georgia congressional primary attracting national interest is in the 4th district. Outspoken incumbent Democrat Cynthia McKinney faces a serious challenge from challenger Denise Majette.
CNN's Martin Savidge has more on this race and the outside groups working to influence the outcome.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Can you spot the member of Congress in this crowd? She is Cynthia McKinney, a five-term Atlanta-area congresswoman who dances to a different beat: flamboyant, outspoken, controversial, now under fire for taking on the White House over September 11 and in danger of defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
(on camera): Do you think you are being targeted unfairly by outsiders who want Cynthia McKinney gone?
REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: Let me tell you, in my own words, that I was not elected to keep secrets once I got to Washington. I was not elected to remain silent, to sit down or to shut up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
CROWD: Cynthia! Cynthia!
SAVIDGE (voice-over): And shut up, she has not.
McKinney told a California radio station the Bush administration had advance warning of the terror attacks and hinted it did nothing so supporters could make a profit.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, KPFA RADIO)
MCKINNEY: Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American Airlines.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SAVIDGE (on camera): Critics zero in on Muslim-American campaign money going to McKinney; 18 different donors belong to groups that have come under investigation by the U.S. government for possible money ties to terrorism or have spoken out in support of radical Islamic terrorist movements.
STEVE EMERSON, AUTHOR, "JIHAD IN AMERICA": And I think there is a direct relationship between her views, her statements in support of these organizations and their policies and the degree to which they have been willing to support her campaign.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Her campaign manager says it is all perfectly legal.
(on camera): You must be aware of the damage that could be done if people are associated with terrorism contributing to her campaign.
BILL BANKS, MCKINNEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, there is nothing I can do about that. You can associate people with anything, but if there are no indictments and there is no real indication that the person has done something illegal, you know, people make allegations all the time.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): The combination of McKinney's money and mouth has her locked in a race that has become too close to call.
MCKINNEY: I want to go to Congress to be a legislator, not an agitator.
SAVIDGE: Fellow Democrat Denise Majette is a former state judge who has risen from relative obscurity to realistic threat. Her political war chest has grown to almost double McKinney's, with a substantial amount of her money coming from out-of-state Jewish supporters.
DENISE MAJETTE (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I make no apologies for accepting contributions from people who see that this is an important race, and that this has more than local implications, and that I am the kind of candidate that they can feel proud to support.
SAVIDGE: The words September 11 may never be spoken at campaign stops like this, but they certainly were heard here in a weekend rally led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
LOUIS FARRAKHAN, NATION OF ISLAM: Cynthia was not wrong in raising a question. She was just wrong because she's black and raised that question.
SAVIDGE: Whatever happens, don't expect McKinney to go quietly.
MCKINNEY: Ain't no stopping us now, baby, all the way from Georgia to Washington, D.C.
SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN, Stone Mountain, Georgia.
WOODRUFF: And we will know the results there tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, turning from Congress to the state capitals, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" is with me now to talk about the big governor's races under way around the country.
Ron, it was just a year ago when we thought the governor's races, four big states, Florida, California, New York, Texas, there could be a lot of excitement. You had some vulnerable incumbents. It's all changed. What happened?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The mega-states have sort of fallen off the board.
It's a very odd situation, Judy, where we have a very competitive environment in governor's races around the country. Maybe as many as two-thirds of all governor's races are going to be close, tough races. But the big four -- New York, Florida, Texas, and California -- none of them is really on the board right now, and Texas being perhaps the closest. But in each case, the incumbent party is in a much stronger position than seemed possible.
WOODRUFF: Quick thumbnail: Let's talk about New York. What happened there: George Pataki, 9/11?
BROWNSTEIN: 9/11 really solidified him.
And while McCall and Cuomo are going at each other, the overriding truth is that they're both trailing Pataki by 2-1 consistently in polls. And with the halo that he received for his performance after 9/11, much like President Bush and Rudy Giuliani, he will be very tough to beat.
WOODRUFF: Down in Florida, Jeb Bush looked vulnerable coming off the contentious recount, the election in 2000.
BROWNSTEIN: As well as the conditions that were making a lot of governors around the country vulnerable: budget problems, plus some administrative problems with his Department of Children and Families.
But, again, this is much art as science. And luck sometimes plays a role, too. The Democrats have two candidates in Janet Reno and Bill McBride who have been sort of stuck relative to each other, with Reno ahead, and stuck relative to Bush, both trailing him by significant margins. If McBride could somehow upset Reno, he might get a second look. But, right now, this looks like a race that is frozen in place.
WOODRUFF: Now, Texas, this is the president's state. Rick Perry took the job of governor after George Bush went off to Washington to be president. He wasn't considered a very strong candidate, but now...
BROWNSTEIN: And still may not be the strongest candidate.
But if you had to pick one of the four that might get competitive, I think Texas would have the best shot. The Democrats nominated an Hispanic businessman, Tony Sanchez, who is spending very heavily on his own campaign. But he has been caught by the changing climate. His business background, which seemed an asset the beginning of the year, with Enron and WorldCom and everything else, has become more of an issue.
Perry has been attacking him over laundering of drug money at the family-owned S&L in the 1980s. It's become a very negative campaign . It still has a shot to be competitive, but right now, Perry holds a double-digit lead in most polls.
WOODRUFF: And the state we talked a lot about, the biggest of the big, California: Gray Davis was in a lot of trouble, certainly has been vulnerable. But Bill Simon has had problems, too.
BROWNSTEIN: Enormous problems from the beginning. He started off with ideological problems on issues like guns and abortion, and now, like Sanchez, being caught in the shift in environment, the business background.
A fraud judgment against his family-owned investment company recently has hurt him. There are more ethical questions surrounding him. Davis still should be vulnerable. His approval rating is under 50 percent. His poll numbers are consistently under 50 percent. But there's no signs that Simon really has been able to take advantage of this. Even with the president coming there this weekend to raise money for him, the talk in California seems to be of Republicans writing off this race.
WOODRUFF: Well, you know, we often overlook governor's races, but it's not going to happen this year.
BROWNSTEIN: No. We are going to have a lot of change, maybe not at the top, but in the middle. A lot of states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, there are going to be a lot of good governor's races.
WOODRUFF: All right, Ron, thanks very much.
BROWNSTEIN: All right.
WOODRUFF: Well, the Washington, D.C.'s mayor's race is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. WILLIE WILSON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm not a puppet for anybody. I'm not a smokescreen for anybody. I'm serious about this campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The Reverend Willie Wilson defends his challenge to incumbent Tony Williams in a conversation with our John King.
WOODRUFF: The mayor's race here in Washington has become quite the political potboiler. First, incumbent Democrat Anthony Williams was forced to run as a write-in candidate. Then the Reverend Willie Wilson made a late entry into the race just weeks before the September 10th primary.
Our John King recently talked to Wilson about the campaign.
WILSON: Events and situations have combined in such a way that I am compelled to act. And it is time to act. Today, I declare my candidacy for the office of mayor.
KING (voice-over): The reverend Willie Wilson sees an opening and is seizing it. Incumbent Mayor Tony Williams has been thrown off the Democratic primary ballot because of fraudulent petition signatures. So Williams has to run as a write-in candidate and suddenly has some competition.
WILSON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll write you in.
WILSON: All right.
KING: Wilson's challenge is to broaden his base from the overwhelmingly African-American wards in the eastern part of the city. This restaurant is in an upscale white neighborhood of Upper Northwest, where Tony Williams is strongest.
WILSON: The disparities in income, in housing, education, so, those disparities existed. And I didn't create them. And I think the way to solve problems is to address them. Really, this is about the haves and the have-nots.
KING (on camera): You didn't create them. I'm sorry to interrupt.
You didn't create them, but some worry that you might be trying to exploit them. It's a tough word, but...
WILSON: Well, no, I haven't tried to exploit anything. I have talked about the issues in this campaign. And many people in this city, all across this city are concerned. It's not just one part of the city.
In every quadrant of this city -- right here on Wisconsin Avenue, residents have been telling me today they are concerned about an insensitive mayor who is arrogant, who is insolent, who has not listened to their concerns, who has not allowed them to have input.
KING: Some have said that you are somebody who is not a front for Marion Berry, but someone who would return Marion Berry to prominence in terms of the administration of the city. Marion Berry obviously had questions about management of the city, had his troubles with the law. How do you answer those who say...
WILSON: Anybody who knows me knows I'm my own person. Nobody pulls strings on me. I'm not a puppet for anybody. I'm not a smokescreen for anybody. I'm serious about this campaign. I think I bring capable, energetic, innovative, creative leadership to this campaign. And I want to lead this city not behind anybody else's shadow or with anyone else's input. I'm quite capable as a leader.
KING: May I ask you, lastly, both yourself and the mayor are trying to run as write-in candidates, which is a very difficult endeavor. He has a lot more money. He can send out mailings. He can do television ads. Are you at a...
WILSON: And none of that makes a difference, because letters and announcements don't vote. People do. The people know me for 32 years of service to the residents and citizens of this city. They know of my commitment. They know of my dedication. They know of my compassion. And so they are going to vote.
And people will vote for me for mayor in this city. I'm so happy that money does not vote, but people do. And I'm counting on the people. And I know they will come out in great numbers and elect me the mayor of Washington, D.C.
KING: I'll let you get back to shaking hands with those people, then.
WILSON: All right.
KING: Thank you, sir.
WILSON: Thank you.
KING: Appreciate your time.
WOODRUFF: John King talking with Willie Wilson.
Well, politics, like life, sometimes can turn on a dime. Up next, our Jeff Greenfield looks back at a moment that changed the course of a presidential campaign.
WOODRUFF: That song some of you will recognize: the Brooks & Dunn tune "Hard Working Man." Well, it's the new theme song for Senator Max Baucus' reelection campaign. Perhaps the Montana Democrat will serve up that country hit along with burgers he is grilling for the 11th Baucus Burger Bonanza of his campaign, this one in Miles City, Montana today.
Well, we don't have a "Bite of the Apple" today. Our Jeff Greenfield is on vacation. But he left us with a series of reports on turning points that changed the course of political history. This one takes us back almost a century.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Life turns on a dime, they say. A missed phone call, a late flight, a chance encounter can alter a life to its roots. Sometimes it can decide who gets to be president, the way it did back in 1916.
(voice-over): President Woodrow Wilson faced a tough fight for reelection in 1916. It wasn't just that growing war in Europe or the split within his own Democrat Party over economic policy. The Republicans, who had been hopelessly divided in 1912, were this time united behind Charles Evans Hughes, former governor of New York, who had left a U.S. Supreme Court seat to run for president.
But Hughes had his own intra-party divisions to deal with, especially in California, where Republican conservatives were at war with Hiram Johnson, the state's progressive Republican governor. Late in the campaign, Hughes went to a Republican gathering in San Francisco. But even though he was staying at the same hotel as Governor Johnson, Hughes never met him.
One credible story is that it was a simple logistical screw-up: Hughes couldn't find where the governor was staying. But the temperamental Governor Johnson took it as a snub and sat on his hands Election Day. The result: Democrat Wilson carried California by just 3,420 votes. And those 13 electoral votes gave Wilson a second term.
(on camera): Now, a well-known story reports that, when a reporter called Hughes' home the next morning, a servant said, "The president is still sleeping."
"Well," replied the reporter, "wake him up and tell him he's not the president."
But history also had very different fates for these two candidates. President Wilson ended his second term felled by a stroke, with his dream of taking the U.S. into the League of Nations dashed. And Hughes, he went on to become secretary of state and later chief justice of the United States.
That's today's "Turning Point."
I'm Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: And we will have a "Turning Point" from Jeff every day that he's away.
I'll be back in a moment, but first let's take a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Hi, Judy. Welcome back.
In a moment: more of our exclusive CNN video. What is al Qaeda's terror capability? Coming up: a frightening look at tapes from the terror network's own video collection. Also, protecting the U.S. Capitol: why police who patrol the building want to learn all they can about suicide bombers.
Those stories and much more coming up at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. We thank you for joining us.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
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Intensifies; McKinney Faces Tough Challenge in Primary>