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Bush Challenges U.N. to Crack Down on Saddam; Problems Continue in Florida Election Procedures

Aired September 12, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.
President Bush challenges the United Nations to crack down on Saddam Hussein. If it doesn't, he makes it clear the U.S. will. I'll ask key senators Kerry and Warner if Mr. Bush played it right.


I will examine the strategy behind the president's tough U.N. speech and his timetable now for action.


Janet Reno may have suffered an upset in Florida's confused primary. But stay tuned, that may not be the end of the story.


After Florida's latest fiasco at the polls, is Governor Jeb Bush feeling any heat?

WOODRUFF: Thanks for joining us.

Much as his father did before him, President Bush today drew a line in the sand for Saddam Hussein.

But, he also drew a line for the United Nations. In his widely anticipated speech in New York, Mr. Bush pressed the U.N. to enforce its resolutions requiring Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: If Iraq's defiance continues, the council must face its responsibilities. For any one state, large or small, choosing to follow or reject the multilateral pact must not be a simple matter of political convenience.


WOODRUFF: Our apologies. That obviously was not the president. That was U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan making his case that the United States should not go it alone. In his speech -- a little bit more about the president -- in his speech the president did not set any deadlines for a possible U.S. military action against Iraq, so let's talk to our senior White House correspondent John King who's in New York, about that.

John, the president himself isn't setting timetables, publicly but what is the White House saying behind the scenes?

KING: Judy, no timetable for any military action right yet.

But there is a debate now over a timetable for what the president asked for today which is tough new action, by the United Nations Security Council. Secretary of State Powell here to lobby key members of the Security Council.

CNN was told by several senior administration officials it will play out something like this. The administration, wants this debate over in the United Nations about how to respond, to take no more than a week are two. Then it wants a resolution that would send inspectors back into Iraq within a matter of weeks, three or four weeks is the timetable.

So within about six weeks from now we should have the answer to the question, is the Security Council ready to send inspectors back in? Is Saddam Hussein, ready to accept them?

And the administration, Judy, also wants in that resolution tough language. They know they won't get a direct threat of military action, but they want tough language in that new Security Council resolution that makes clear to Saddam Hussein that if he does not allow those inspectors in, and even if he does if he interferes with them, if the access in any way is impeded that the consequences would be military action -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, bear with me.

We do have that sound from the president. We want to play that now so people can hear part of what the president said.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind, by heritage and by choice. The United States of America will make that stand and delegates to United Nations you had the power to make that stand as well.


WOODRUFF: John King is still with us.

John, so the president has now taken his case to the United Nations. What does he do next to try to garner support here? KING: Well he has Secretary Powell here at the United Nations. The president himself has a number of one-on-one meetings, aside from his speech to the general assembly while here.

The administration will send delegations to three key world capitals: Beijing, Moscow and Paris. Russia, France and China have veto power on the Security Council and their votes are key as the administration proceeds.

The administration though, Judy, believes they have significant, already significant progress. Kofi Annan, the secretary general, in that bite you played. Yes, he said, the United States should not act alone but he also said Iraq was in defiance. That's the same word the president used. He also said the Security Council has an obligation to act if Saddam Hussein does not keep his obligations.

The French foreign minister is here today. He said, let's focus first on inspectors, but yes, if Iraq does not let them in or if they are frustrated then the Security Council will have to look at this again.

So, for all the dust in recent months, the administration believes today in and around the president's tough speech significant progress.

WOODRUFF: We also noticed, John, other conditions in addition to the inspectors but we'll ask you about that when we have a chance the next time. Thanks John.

KING: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations says the president's U.N. speech lacks, in his words, credibility because he says there is no evidence that Baghdad has, or is developing, weapons of mass destruction.


MOHAMMAD AL-DOURI, IRAQI AMB. TO THE U.N.: He chooses to deceive the world and his own people by the -- youngest series of fabrications that has been ever told by a leader of a nation.


WOODRUFF: The Iraqi ambassador charges that Mr. Bush's focus on Saddam Hussein is diverting attention from U.S. support for Israel, which he calls "the real threat to peace."

"On The Record" today: two influential senators in the debate over Iraq. I will talk to Democrat John Kerry shortly.

But first, I asked Republican John Warner if he is comfortable with the president's intention to take military action against Iraq alone on the part of U.S. if the U.N. does not get Saddam Hussein to comply with a series of demands.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: You know, much criticism has been directed at the president about this nation acting unilaterally. What he did today dispels that criticism.

He went clearly to the U.N., laid out a case of facts which are incontrovertible and I think it's always been the case with every president since the beginning of our nation. They can act whenever they feel it is necessary in the security interests of this country.

So nothing that our president is doing now is different than any other president since the founding of our republic.

WOODRUFF: So you are comfortable with the idea of the U.S. acting unilaterally here, if the conditions I mentioned are not met.

WARNER: Well, now you are presuming that other nations will not now begin to join us. Clearly, Great Britain has stood up clearly and decisively with the prime minister of recent, so, I think your question, Judy, is a little rough on the edges.

I didn't think the issue of acting unilaterally is before us. The president has placed the case to the United Nations. Now let's give them an opportunity to act. And also, I am urging with others, action by the Congress of the United States, most specifically, the Senate. And we should -- I was in the room with the president just 10 days ago when he asked the leadership of the House and the Senate, to provide a resolution before we go out in October. And I strongly believe that we should do that.

WOODRUFF: Before you leave in October, why so soon?

WARNER: Because the president today made I think a historic speech. And we should see any closure that exists between the Congress of the United States, and our president. We should be arm in arm as we march forward in this war against terrorism, and any actions which the president deems essential to protect our national security as it relates to Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Senator, the one-third of the U.S. Central Command announcing, just yesterday, that its going to move its headquarters from Tampa, to Qatar. Some people are reading into this as U.S. preparing to go to war. How do you read it?

WARNER: Well, Judy, I have always felt that the Central command down in the Florida region should be more nearly located with its primary area of responsibility and that move, I think, has been sort in the works for a long time.

I would not read into that any specificity with regard to preparations that are being taken with respect to any and I underline "any" use of force in the Gulf over and above what we're doing now to contain Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Finally, Senator, do you see the goal here with regard to Iraq as regime change or simply making sure there are no weapons of mass destruction?

WARNER: It seems to me that we could not achieve the elimination of weapons of mass destruction without a regime change.

Now, if someone or some, the U.N. is able to figure out a method by which weapons of mass destruction are eliminated, I think people would consider it. But for the moment, regime change seems to many of us to be the goal that we have to achieve.


WOODRUFF: As I mentioned, that was Senator John Warner and in a moment I'll be speaking with Democratic Senator John Kerry.

But right now let's hear from congressional correspondent Kate Snow who has also been picking up reaction in and around the hill.

Kate what are you hearing?

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, so much reaction that it's actually hard to keep track of it all.

Every senator seems to be coming out with their own take on this. A lot of praise for the president's speech today coming from both Democrats and Republicans. In fact, Senator Joe Biden, a Democrat, said the speech was brilliant. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said it was a, quote, "very strong presentation."

Republicans seized on the momentum of this speech Judy and two top Republicans, the Senate minority leader Trent Lott along with former presidential candidate John McCain got together and came forward saying Congress should act now, sooner rather than later on a congressional resolution to back the president.

Senator Lott saying that even if the United Nations hasn't acted, even if they don't vote soon, the Congress should vote soon. In fact he said, they should do this in order to show key allies when Bush is talking to them, when Mr. Bush is talking to those allies to show them that Mr. Bush has the full backing of the American people.


SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: It's vital for the Congress to show the world that we back this president and will give him the authority he needs to protect the American people in the world community. We must vote to show support the president right now.


SNOW: Senator McCain said that he's been talking to his Democratic colleagues here on the hill. He said many of them would support military action in Iraq. He mentioned House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt and Senator Joe Biden by name.

Gephardt for his part says that he still wants to work diplomatically, if possible, and not militarily only militarily if we must, said Gephardt. Biden acknowledged that yes, he is on the same quote wavelength with John McCain but he said it is not all black and white.

Biden said it is not time yet for Congress to take action. He says the U.N. and diplomatic routes should be first.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE. CHMN.: It is premature to put a cart before the horse. People are saying to me Joe hold more hearings, Democrats and Republicans. If we have a resolution next week what's the point of hearings? Vote first, listen later? We should be deliberate about this. We should make sure the country is behind us.


SNOW: Democratic leader Tom Daschle saying this case still in his opinion Judy hasn't been made conclusively yet for military action against Iraq. He echoed what several other prominent Democrats said this afternoon, Senators Kennedy, Senator Kerry, Senator Bob Graham of Florida all saying they still have some unanswered questions, many of them talking about a regime change, what would succeed Saddam Hussein, in Iraq.

Mr. Daschle also saying he wants to know more about what this would do if the U.S. went after Iraq what it would do to the fight against global terrorism -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate Snow, a reporting for us from the Capitol. Thanks very much, Kate.

Well, Kate was citing the reaction of a number of senators. One of those she mentioned of course was Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry. He also joins us now from the Capitol.

Senator, we heard my colleague Kate Snow say that you were one of those who says the case really still has not been made yet. You still feel that way even after listening to the president today?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think the case has been made that Saddam Hussein is a thug, that he is an outlaw, that he is outside of the requirements of the United Nations inspection effort.

But the case hasn't been made in the sense that only today did the president ask for the U.N. to become involved and only today have we asked for you know the Security Council to begin to lay into place something that can hold him accountable so you know, on Sunday the president was quoted as by Condoleezza Rice as saying that he is reviewing his options and he hasn't made up his mind what his choice is.

If he hasn't made up his mind what is choice is, what would be voting or why should we be asked to do something before the U.N. has shown what it's prepared to do and before the president lays out to us what his real choices are.

WOODRUFF: But what the president's approach today, Senator? I mean in essence...

KERRY: I thought it was terrific. I'm all for the approach today. This is something -- I wrote an article last week in "The New York Times" urging the president as did Secretary of State, former Secretary of State Jim Baker and General Scowcroft and others, that he should go to the U.N.

I regret that so many people have to urge this administration to do what ought to come naturally to an American president which is, go to the United Nations and ask for their support. But this is the right thing to do.

WOODRUFF: What exactly then are you asking of the president then?

KERRY: Well, I everybody is now number one, what is going to be the Security Council response? What is going to be asked of the Security Council? Is the Security Council now being asked to enforce the inspections alone? Are there other elements of what they're being asked to enforce? What will be mechanism of their enforcement? Will the United States help to draft a resolution that goes to the Security Council or are we simply, dumping this in their lap, sort of to fake that it that we're really involving the U.N. and then, quickly move as Senator Lott asked today.

I think -- look, I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat. We may have to go to war, Judy, but I don't want to do it if we haven't made legitimate efforts to find out whether we can enforce inspections, whether there is a way to guard the security of our country and exhaust other remedies. If we can't do it that way, then we may have no choice.

WOODRUFF: Well, I just spoke with Senator John Warner who said because I asked him. I said, is the president going to be aiming for regime change or is he going to be satisfied with getting rid of weapons of mass destruction?

And he said in his view and he believes the administration believes without regime change, you can't get rid of weapons of mass destruction.

KERRY: That absolutely may be accurate and I also wrote in that same article that regime change is the ultimate enforcement mechanism of inspections.

But supposing this happened, Judy, supposing Saddam Hussein did adhere to some kind of a new construct by the United Nations. Supposing the weapons of mass destruction were eliminated by that mechanism. Would you then go to war?

The president has not posed to us sort of a series of possibilities here, and I think that it is inappropriate for the United States Congress to give any president a sort of blank check without first exhausting other possibilities. I think that is what we ought to do.

WOODRUFF: On the timing of a congressional resolution, more and more senators coming out and saying that they do think that Congress should do what the White House wants and pass a resolution before the Congress goes home for midterm election.

KERRY: Well, I mean supposing there is a inspection regime in place. It may be we need to do that to back it up, I don't know yet. I'm open to it.

But I haven't decided that we have to do it this week or next week or tomorrow. Because only today did we go to the United Nations and make a request of them. I think if we suddenly became involved in a Congress, giving the president some blanket authority that effectively said, hey, U.N., no matter what you do, we are going to go ahead and do what we're going to do. That is slap in the face to the very effort that the president initiated today and I think it would fly contrary to the basic premise of what the president tried to honor, by going to the United Nations.

WOODRUFF: So you are not ruling out Congress passing something before it goes home.

KERRY: If it is necessary, I -- I don't rule out anything that is necessary to protect the national security interests of our country.

WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry.

KERRY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Good to see you.

KERRY: Thanks a lot.


And up next the very latest from that messy Democratic gubernatorial primary in Florida. What is Janet Reno's next move?

Plus are disgruntled voters pointing any fingers at Governor Jeb Bush?

Our Candy Crowley looks at the political fallout from the confusion at the polls.

So will Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile. They'll also chew on primary results from New Hampshire, and Republican Bob Smith's ouster from the Senate.

And later more on the marketing of President Bush's case against Saddam Hussein. I'll talk with former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for the latest on the Iraq debate and for campaign news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



ZARRELLA: ... it has staged what appears to be a stunning upset. He, not once heavily-favored Janet Reno, has apparently won Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary and the right to face Governor Jeb Bush in November.

But, McBride is not yet ready to declare victory.

ALLAN STONECIPHER, MCBRIDE SPOKESMAN: He feels pretty good about it but he wants to make certain that you know the results are official before he speaks.

ZARRELLA: McBride is also waiting on Janet Reno. Because of election day fiascoes in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- heavy Reno territory -- the former U.S. attorney general has not yet conceded. She is about 8,000 votes behind, less than 1 percentage point. Florida voters have seen this movie before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now 8:25. I have been here since 7:00 this morning, and I've got to go.

ZARRELLA: Armed with the latest in voting machine technology, this wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. The worst of the foul-ups were in two of the same counties that had problems two years ago, Miami and in Broward. Poll workers couldn't get the machines to work. Even electronically, ballots were lost. Many voters may as well have been at a bank. In too many cases, the polls Tuesday opened late and closed early. There were numerous cases where poll workers simply did not show up.

JIM SMITH, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Two counties get F-minus, minus, minus. It's totally unacceptable.

ZARRELLA: Governor Bush was just as blunt. He made it clear that the election supervisors in both Miami-Dade and Broward should be replaced.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: How could it be you couldn't open up polls at 7:00? That is not a complicated thing to do. This is not the most difficult job to do. Being a firefighter is a lot harder than being supervisor of elections. And so I'm angry, as you can tell.

ZARRELLA: But, neither of the elections supervisors appeared ready to take the governor's advice.

(on-camera): Tuesday's problems have guaranteed one thing, that come November, the eyes of the country will again be focused on Florida and whether the state can finally get an election right.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, after all the jokes about hanging chads and never-ending elections, Florida officials said they were determined that Tuesday's primary would have run smoothly. Now, the Democratic nominee for governor -- whomever that turns out to be -- is off to a rocky start and officials in both parties are looking for somebody to blame.

Here now our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.


CROWLEY: First off, this is not the picture you want the night you -- well, the night you may have won an election.

BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know where this is going to end up tonight.

CROWLEY: No balloon drop, no confetti, no off-key, deafening music. And now, the day of Bill McBride's, apparent victory over Janet Reno. This is the picture we have of him. Oh, wait. We don't have a picture of him because he hasn't been seen yet. No victory fly around the state, no opening volleys against his fall opponent. No -- dare we say it -- big mo.

At least that is the spin from Florida Republicans about the political fallout from Florida's election debacle: the sequel. Now, since this is politics, you know quite well that Democrats see the whole thing differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is worst nightmare scenario for Jeb Bush, to once again to have people go to the polls after he promised after the 2000 debacle, that he would fix the voting systems in Florida and cannot do it, reminds everybody, that Al Gore got robbed in 2000 and energizes Democrats in Florida and around the country.

CROWLEY: Democrats say the big mo is all theirs because reminding Democrats what happened in 2000 is a great motivating factor to come on out in 2002 and defeat the closest thing to President Bush they can get, Florida's Governor Jeb Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you blame?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think, as the CEO of our state, he has failed to manage one department after another.

CROWLEY: Now, the governor's campaign says other than Democratic die-hards, nobody is pinning this one on the governor.

J. BUSH: Not an embarrassment to me -- it should be an embarrassment to the people that are running elections in Miami and in Broward County. They should be embarrassed and they better fix it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know whose fault it was. I guess they will have to look into it, investigate and find out what's going on.

CROWLEY: Is there an echo in here, or what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could happen anywhere. It just happens that it happened in south Florida again.


CROWLEY: Anyway, a Bush politico argues, this is a double-edged sword for Democrats. The more they talk about election problems, the more they undermine the legitimacy of their presumed candidate -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, hard to believe. Candy the fact though that Bill McBride hasn't said anything yet, does that mean that he is talking to Reno and her people or what? What's going on there?

CROWLEY: They are, in fact. I was told a couple of hours ago, an hour ago, I guess that the two camps were now talking. There has been this sort of web of communication that the Florida Democratic party is trying to kind of you know broker. This is the last thing they need is Janet Reno to challenge these -- these results. I mean they really need to get it together.

Jeb Bush is going to be tough down there despite all of this, and they need to get it together, and McBride does not need to spend a lot of time trying to woo those Reno voters. They got to get it together and move out. It's September. The election's in November.

WOODRUFF: So a lot of questions still out in air, up in air, Candy Crowley, thanks.

Well more on the Florida mess and the other party primaries with Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile. That's next.

Also, New Hampshire Republicans are rallying around new Senate nominee John Sununu but we'll tell you who was missing from this morning's G.O.P. unity breakfast.

Still, first let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update.

Hi, Rhonda.


We had a dramatic sell-off here on Wall Street as investors moved into the relative safety of the Treasury market. Concerns about the economy sparked a selling early on. Speeches from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and President Bush did not soothe the market. The Dow Jones industrials tumbling more than 200 points, and the Nasdaq lost 2 3/4 percent. Volume picked up somewhat after several sessions of anemic action. Intel and other semiconductor stocks were hit hard. Lehman Brothers and UBS Piper Jaffray cut growth estimates on chip equipment makers for this year and next.

Meantime, the crackdown on corporate malfeasance continues, Tyco International's ex-CEO Dennis Kozlowski and two other former execs pled not guilty this afternoon. Prosecutors charged the three with looting the company of at least $600 million. Kozlowski, along with the ex-CFO and former general counsel, surrendered to authorities in New York this morning and Tyco is cleaning house. Its board of directors voted to replace nine of its 11 board members next year.

That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including a look at how Tuesday's primaries and how they might impact the November elections.


WOODRUFF: In today's "Campaign News Daily," we look ahead to the November elections in light of what happened in Tuesday's primaries.

Billionaire Tom Golisano caused a stir in New York by winning the Independence Party nomination for governor. Golisano spent nearly $30 million on the race. An adviser says he is prepared to top $75 million by November. Incumbent Republican George Pataki had hoped to run as both the GOP and Independence Party nominee. Golisano joins Pataki and Democrat Carl McCall on the November ballot.

In North Carolina, Democrat Erskine Bowles has given a thumbs- down to a proposal by Elizabeth Dole to cancel all ads in favor of prime-time debates. Bowles, who cruised to the Democratic nomination Tuesday, said he is ready to debate, but he's not going to cancel his advertising. Dole had suggested that the two both put up $2 million to pay for a series of televised debates.

The party line in New Hampshire is that John Sununu's triumph over fellow Republican Senator Bob Smith gives the party its best chance to defeat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. Smith called for party unity on election night and he urged his supporters to back Sununu, who leads Shaheen in the polls. This morning, however, Smith was a no-show at a GOP unity breakfast. Aides say the senator needed to be in Washington.

Jeanne Shaheen and John Sununu will be my guests on tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS.

With us now: former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Let's go right back to those Florida results. And I'm going to read you quickly two excerpts from "The Miami Herald" -- quote -- "What a mess. This debacle is an unconscionable betrayal of all South Florida's voters.." And here's a line from "The Palm Beach Post." It says, "Florida looked once again like the stumblebum state that can't get democracy right." Donna Brazile, who's to blame? We just heard Candy say the Democrats are blaming the governor and the Republicans are saying it is the officials in those counties.

DONNA BRAZILE, CHAIRWOMAN, VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well, I think the buck should stop at the governor's desk, because he is the governor of Florida. He went around last year and touted that he had cleaned up the system, along with Katherine Harris, who said they would have a chad-free election. And, by God, people stood in line for six hours in some places. In Liberty City, the polls didn't open until 2:00 p.m., in Carol City 2:00 p.m.

Now, I have to say, on a personal note, my sister was allowed to vote this time. And she didn't have to produce three forms of I.D. in Seminole County. But it is unconscionable. I think it is time that we get rid of all this lip service, both George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, and we free the election reform bill on Capitol Hill.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: To suggest somehow that the governor was in any kind responsible for this, it's just ridiculous on the face of it.

The Republican legislature in Florida, as well as the governor, they supported this incredible reform, put all kinds of money behind it. And it worked in 65 out of 67 counties. Where didn't it work? In two Democratic counties. And why didn't the polls open early enough? Because they couldn't get their workers to the polls to open it.

BRAZILE: That's not true. In Volusia County, there were errors on the screen that caused ballots to be kicked out. There were problems in Lee County.


BRAZILE: We can go county by county. There were still problems all across the state of Florida.

BUCHANAN: There was enormous incompetence in two Democratic counties, two that were problems two years ago. It suggests to me that maybe the problem two years ago really was a Democratic problem. It had nothing to do with the Republicans in that state. You all can't seem to get workers to the polls to open them and to know how to run those machines.

BRAZILE: That's not true. The buck stopped with the governor. He's the governor.


BUCHANAN: He's not in charge.

BRAZILE: He is in charge of the election system.

BUCHANAN: Of setting up the system.

BRAZILE: He is in charge.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask just finally quickly ask you both, should there be some kind of -- should Janet Reno ask for a recount? If there are as many problems as you're saying, Donna, what should happen?

BRAZILE: Well, I think if she is within that margin where the state will automatically give her a recount, she should.

WOODRUFF: They ruled out the automatic recount.

BRAZILE: Well, I think Janet Reno should do what's in the best interests of the Democratic Party and concede the election and go on to fight with Bill McBride to defeat Jeb Bush in the fall.

BUCHANAN: You know, Jeb Bush, this is the best thing that happened to Republicans. Democrats are just exploding down there. They can't even get their act together whatsoever.

And I think what happens now is, the Janet Reno people are going to be extraordinarily upset. And they are less likely, far less likely to vote. It's going to be...

BRAZILE: They will be energized. They will be energized. And let me just tell you, McBride's supporters will be more energized.

WOODRUFF: Even with these problems, you're saying?

BRAZILE: I think so. I think it will be tough to motivate people to go back to the polls when they know the system may not work, wherever they were.

BUCHANAN: This is like a Third World country. Are there are poll watchers down there? Maybe you can head on down there and help them out.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

BUCHANAN: Republicans even offered, the Republican Party offered -- they saw what was coming and offered these Democratic counties help, sending in staff and everything. They refused it. They can't do the job. And I think maybe the Republicans should run those counties.


BRAZILE: Well, if the Republicans run it, you know the votes will not be counted at all.

BUCHANAN: Well, at least they'll be able to vote.



WOODRUFF: All right, very quickly -- you've each got 10 seconds -- given the results of Tuesday's primaries, which party is better positioned to pick up seats on November 5?

BRAZILE: No question Democrats are in the better position to pick up seats.

BUCHANAN: Why am I not surprised?

BRAZILE: Well, because the Democrats have better candidates. The districts are more favorable toward Democrats in North Carolina, Arizona, and in Georgia. And I believe Connie Morella is in trouble in the state of Maryland.

BUCHANAN: Oh, no, no. Connie Morella is not in trouble. She's excellent with her constituents, always has been. That's why she's so strong there in a Democratic county.

But on the second point, in the Senate, it looks very, very good for Republicans, which is a target place. And there's going to be a lot of money there spent. And we've got some strong candidates.

BRAZILE: I wouldn't count Jeanne Shaheen out of battle. She's a great Democrat.

BUCHANAN: I don't count anyone out.

BRAZILE: She's a mainstream, moderate Democrat. And she knows how to pick up the independent vote. And Erskine Bowles is a dynamite candidate down in North Carolina.

BUCHANAN: We're going to have some great, very close races.


WOODRUFF: We may have a chance to get back to this subject again.


BRAZILE: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, thank you both.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And we will go back to the Iraq debate. When we return, our Bill Schneider considers why the president now is in such a rush to go after Saddam Hussein.


WOODRUFF: In the "Newscycle" this Thursday: a federal judge today refused to force the Miss America Pageant to recognize Rebekah Revels as Miss North Carolina. Instead, he left the decision up to the pageant. Revels, seen here on the left -- now you see here -- resigned her title in July after a former boyfriend claimed that he had taken topless photos of her. The title was then given to Misty Clymer. You see her here on the right. Revels later sued to get her title back.

The nation's terror threat level will remain Orange for at least the next week, according to a spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security. The level was increased from yellow on Tuesday based on new intelligence linked to potential terror threats.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called Parliament back from its summer recess September 24 for a special session on Iraq. Blair also announced today that his government will release documents that it says will detail Iraq's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Well, as we have been reporting, President Bush did his part today to try to convince the world to take action against Iraq.

Our Bill Schneider is here with a question about the president's speech -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, there is a big question hanging over President Bush's Iraq policy: Why now? Why, more than 11 years after the Gulf War, is it suddenly so urgent for the U.S. to go after Saddam Hussein now?


G.W. BUSH: Patterns of conflict...

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Some people are asking, "Is President Bush's Iraq offensive being driven by the fall election?" an idea the vice president calls reprehensible.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The suggestion that I find reprehensible is the notion that somehow we saved this and now we've just sprung it on them for political reasons.

SCHNEIDER: But some people in very high places are warning that a life-and-death policy like Iraq...

ANNAN: Must not be a simple matter of political convenience.

SCHNEIDER: What's the political convenience? Strategist Dick Morris spelled it out in a recent column. Polls show that only one issue works in Bush's favor: terrorism. Does Morris think the president is, as they say, wagging the dog to divert attention from other issues? "He doesn't need to wag the dog," Morris writes. "He just needs to talk about wagging it to make the impact to keep control of Congress."

Even the White House has hinted at a political strategy as long ago as last January.

KARL ROVE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: And we could also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America.

SCHNEIDER: Why did the administration wait until September to make its case against Iraq? White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told "The New York Times," "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

In his speech to the United Nations, President Bush tried to shut down the political speculation. This is a life-and-death matter, the president insisted.

BUSH: Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.

SCHNEIDER: To those who say, "We want more evidence that there is a real threat," the administration says, "We can't wait for a smoking gun to turn up."

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.


SCHNEIDER: To those who smell politics, the administration's answer is: "Sure a crisis may benefit the president politically. So what? An issue of this magnitude should be the focus of a political campaign. What's wrong with that?"

WOODRUFF: We're going to be hearing some about that, too...

SCHNEIDER: Yes, indeed.

WOODRUFF: ... in the days to come.

Bill, thanks very much.

Well, the president has laid out his case. Now the diplomats get to work. Up next, I will talk with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke about today's speech and the president's diplomatic options.


WOODRUFF: With me now in New York: the man who served as President Clinton's United Nations ambassador, Richard Holbrooke.

Mr. Ambassador, you've been calling on President Bush to take this Iraq case to the U.N. Security Council. He's now doing that. Is he going to get the support he needs?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: This was a well-crafted, well-delivered speech. And I think it went a long way towards straightening out this mess, this undisciplined performance over the summer. Andrew Card may think August isn't a good time to roll out a new product, but this wasn't a new product. It was a long- declared policy. And they shouldn't have let it go. Is he going to get Security Council support, Judy? I don't know. But he will definitely strengthen the nation and our efforts to remove Saddam Hussein simply by coming to the U.N., making the case, and starting the process in the Security Council. The key to this is not the U.N. It's not the Security Council. It is one country, Russia, and one man, Vladimir Putin. And we'll find out soon enough what the Bush-Putin relationship is worth.

WOODRUFF: But, in your knowledge -- and you know the United Nations very well -- you certainly dealt with the Russians -- what reading I've done indicates that the president is going to be able to make that case, that the Russians, in essence, are going to be looking for the kind of support. They're going to be looking for money paid back from Iraq. In other words, for them, it's an economic argument.

HOLBROOKE: I don't know what the Russians will do. In 1990, they supported collective action in Desert Storm against Iraq. In 1998, they opposed action against Milosevic.

When we thought about going to the Security Council, they said they'd veto, so President Clinton went ahead and bombed Serbia without the Security Council. It's impossible to predict Putin right now. In the recent interviews, he has hedged. The important thing is that, in the Chirac interview in "The New York Times," Chirac indicated that the French were ready to move in this direction. So I think they've made progress. This was an important speech.

WOODRUFF: The president all but said today that the United Nations is irrelevant if it can't enforce all these resolutions that have been passed over the years that have to do with Iraq. Is he right about that?

HOLBROOKE: Well, it isn't the United Nations, Judy. The United Nations is just a room on the East River in New York where the nations of the world send their ambassadors, or sometimes their foreign ministers. It is about those nations themselves, and particularly about the Russians, the French, the British, the Americans, and, to a lesser extent, the Chinese.

So let's not attack the building, any more than you might blame Madison Square Garden for the New York Knicks disastrous basketball season.


HOLBROOKE: This is about international collective action. It worked in 1990 against Iraq. In 1998, you needed a different route against Milosevic. The president launched the process today. It was a very good speech, well-delivered, well-crafted. Now let's see what policies are there to follow up.

WOODRUFF: Is Iraq the threat to world peace that President Bush paints them out to be, in your opinion?

HOLBROOKE: Judy, as a Democrat and a loyal American, I believe the answer is yes. I really believe Saddam is that bad. The seminal mistake we've made in the last quarter-century was not getting rid of him in '91. And I would support an effort to deal with that problem, but not unilaterally, not without international and congressional involvement and support.

WOODRUFF: But it was very clear from the president's remarks today that he is prepared to move unilaterally if he does not -- if Saddam doesn't comply, A, and, B, if the U.N. doesn't give the United States the support it's asking.

HOLBROOKE: Well, let's differentiate between unilateral, which is not what I heard him say, and without Security Council approval.

Saddam has violated 16 existing resolutions. Any international lawyer will tell you the basis for action already exists. But we don't have the unilateral option. Any military man will tell you that we can't go after Saddam without the support of Turkey and at least one Gulf state, probably Qatar -- you reported yesterday that they're moving CENTCOM headquarters from Tampa, Florida, to Qatar -- and the British and the French and the Italians.

So unilateralism is not an option. Collective action is necessary. If the Security Council supports it, fine. If they don't, going through the international process strengthens our hand.

WOODRUFF: All right, we've been talking with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke.

Very good to see you.

HOLBROOKE: Great to see you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

HOLBROOKE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Next: the "Inside Buzz." Embattled California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon finally catches a break.

Plus: A day after all those moving commemorations of September 11, some members of Congress want to get back to asking tough questions.


WOODRUFF: In recent days, members of Congress stood united as they marked the first anniversary of the September 11 Attacks. But will they also stand together to support an independent commission to investigate 9/11 intelligence lapses?

Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman says he is likely to offer an amendment to the homeland security bill to create such a commission, perhaps next week. A GOP congressional source tells Capitol Hill producer Dana Bash that as many as four or five Republican senators on the Intelligence Committee may now be willing to support that independent commission, even though the administration is against the idea. In California, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon may finally have scored a political plus. A judge has thrown out a $78 million civil fraud verdict against his family's investment firm. Simon was not personally named in the lawsuit.

But with corporate wrongdoing in the spotlight, this verdict by a superior court judge had given Democratic incumbent Gray Davis more ammunition against Simon's stumbling campaign.

I'll be back in a moment, but now let's take a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Hi, Wolf.


The president's ultimatum at the U.N.: is the U.S. on a warpath with Iraq? I'll ask Senator John McCain.

America on alert: how long will code orange stick around? And where did accused shoe bomber Richard Reid get the idea for a shoe bomb?

Those stories, much more at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: We have this note for you from CNN's John King: Vice President Dick Cheney is going back to the hospital tomorrow for what an administration official describes as routine heart tests. The vice president will have an EKG and doctors will check the implant that regulates his heart to see if it has ever gone off. It was last tested in February. At that time, doctors determined that the device had never gone off. The vice president is expected to be in the hospital for several hours.

In the works for tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: we'll hear from the New Hampshire Senate candidates, Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Congressman John Sununu.

But before we go now: a look at what some Washingtonians think about the social scene here in the capital since the new administration moved into town. "The New York Post" reports, an article in the upcoming section of "W" magazine says the city is hardly in the mood to party. The article reads, in part -- quote -- "Two years into Bush's first term, Washington's social scene is near death, and the natives are restless.

"Granted, the Black Tie & Boots gathering centered around the president's inauguration is about all we have seen when it comes to official nightlife, but a White House aide says the first family prefers private gatherings with friends and family."


Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.


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