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Iraq's Agreement to Inspections Fails to Soften Bush's Hard Line Against Hussein; Janet Reno Concedes Defeat in Florida Democratic Primary

Aired September 17, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. In the showdown with Iraq, has the Bush administration lost some momentum because of a new gesture by Baghdad?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King at the White House, where officials are warning the world not to be fooled by Saddam Hussein again.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. In the battle for public opinion on Iraq, can President Bush claim victory?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Miami-Dade County. A week after a confused Florida election, Janet Reno is expected, this hour, to formally concede the Democratic primary race for governor.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

We begin in Florida, where the voting snafu of 2002 is ending a lot sooner than the election standoff did in the year 2000.

Our Candy Crowley is at Janet Reno's headquarters in Miami-Dade County, where the former attorney general is getting ready to throw in the towel.

Candy, why is Janet Reno going to do this, when it's looking as if the results were even close enough to have triggered an automatic recount?

CROWLEY: Well, close, but not quite. And I think that's the primary reason we have to look at, is that she looked and we waited a week, she knew the counting was going on, and she watched. And in the end, there is absolutely no certainty -- in fact, some doubt that any kind of court case, which would be next step to force a recount, would actually change the results.

But then, too, there's been a lot of pressure, publicly, and some privately on her to go ahead and concede once these votes were counted because they want to emphasize that the Democrats are united, and they want to get on with the fall campaign. It's September, they've got less than two months, and they want to unseat Jeb Bush. WOODRUFF: So Candy, now it's Jeb Bush versus Bill McBride. That's not the contest a lot of people had envisioned. So what are the dynamics that we're looking at here?

CROWLEY: It's probably gotten to be a lot less colorful race, but probably a lot more competitive. The Bush people sort of watched the polls like everyone else did, sort of knew McBride was coming.

And they look at it this way: Basically Janet Reno was a known quantity. It was very tough to move her voters off of her. Bill McBride is a newcomer. They think he's a blank slate. They're certainly going to try to fill in that slate for voters. We'll see that start in about half an hour, when the governor is expected to sort of welcome McBride to the race and then press him for, how are you going to pay for all these things you've been talking about -- pressing for some details.

On the McBride side, they think he's got a lot of crossover potential. They say, look, one of the things he's going to do is contrast his story, middle class upbringing, his father was a mailman, he got a football scholarship to college. Want to kind of compare that to the blueblood Bushes, that sort of thing.

And then, too, they want to sort of take on Jeb's stewardship of this state, saying that the election is sort of a metaphor for other things. And child welfare was another thing that they say that Jeb certainly -- the governor has not stepped up and taken responsibility.

So those are sort of the broad outlines.

WOODRUFF: Candy, separately, a familiar face down there in Florida today, Al Gore. What's he doing?

CROWLEY: Well, separately, but sort of the same. I mean, he's come down here to do some fund-raising. But, of course, it comes just as Florida has had another sort of a confused election, to say the least. So when he arrived here, he made sure that Florida voters knew that he personally felt their pain.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that you feel for the people who are involved in it. But also, two years have passed since this happened before. And I said the other night, and I'll repeat now, I seriously believe -- and I don't think it's unfair in any way -- I believe if I was the governor of this state, I would have fixed that by now.


CROWLEY: Again, the former vice president is down here to do some fund-raising for some candidates in this fall's elections.

One of the things he's doing, basically -- and a lot of it is behind the scenes, and at least out of camera range -- and that is to kind of collect chits. Again, a lot of eyes on Al Gore: Is he going to run? Is he not going to run? This is a way of keeping his options open, coming down, talking to some of these grassroots people, some of the people that fund-raising, keeping his name out there.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley down there in south Florida, where Janet Reno is going to be conceding in just about 25 minutes from now.

Thanks Candy, we'll be coming back to you.

Now we turn to the showdown with Iraq. The head of the United Nations weapons inspection team is set to hold talks with Iraq this afternoon about his team's return to that country.

But the White House is dismissing Baghdad's announcement that it will readmit inspectors without conditions. In Tennessee just a short while ago, President Bush warned Saddam Hussein's word cannot be trusted.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, "fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me" -- you can't get fooled again. You've got to understand the nature of the regime we're dealing with.


WOODRUFF: Now let's bring in our senior White House correspondent John King.

So John, is the White House changing its strategy at all, now that Iraq is saying we will take inspectors?

KING: Judy, the White House at this point yesterday thought it had clear momentum for a very strong, very tough resolution from the Security Council. Even though the administration says this offer from Iraq is way too little and way too late and not to be believed, the administration concedes it now has a very tough task in the Security Council.

The Russian foreign minister coming out and publicly saying he does not see the need for a tough new resolution now. In his view, in the Russian view, inspectors should go back into Iraq and then the United Nations should deal with the debate down the road, once it is determined whether those inspectors are interfered with or not.

Arab foreign minister who yesterday were siding with the Bush administration now saying very much the same thing: Let's put Saddam Hussein to the test when it comes to inspections, and then see if more of a U.N. debate is necessary down the road.

This is completely unacceptable to the bush White House. Secretary of State Colin Powell, up at the United Nations, representing the president in those negotiations, almost apoplectic, saying those who are saying, trust Saddam now, simply forget his history from the 1990s.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We cannot just take a 1 1/4 page letter signed by the foreign minister as the end of this matter. We have seen this game before.

And so in order for us to keep the pressure on, and in order to make sure if we start down this road, it is a new road, a different road than what we have seen in the past, with tough conditions tough standards, any time any place, any person, to make sure that we satisfy the need for disarmament.


KING: So the administration now pushing, still, for a new Security Council resolution. Much more public opposition now. To help make its case both the White House and the British government have put out published written statements in the past several hours detailing what each government -- London and Washington -- say are repeated violations, repeated broken promises from Saddam Hussein in the past when he has promised to let weapons inspectors in unconditionally and has then thrown up interference and other obstacles -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, we saw the president bringing up Iraq at a fund- raiser that he was attending in Tennessee. Anything odd about his talking diplomacy at a clearly political event?

KING: Some might find it a bit odd, but that was the case also, yesterday, when the president was in Davenport, Iowa, and discussed Iraq during a fund-raiser out there are for Congressman Jim Nussle.

The president's public schedule is dominated from now until Election Day by Republican political events, whether they're public campaign rallies or, as we saw today for Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, fund-raising speeches.

So the White House says the president needs to make his case when he is out in public, and look perhaps for even more of this tonight from the number two man, the vice president, Dick Cheney, speaking to a fund-raiser for Greg Ganske, the Senate candidate in Iowa tonight here in Washington. Aides say he is considering responding to this latest Iraqi overture in that fund-raising speech as well.

WOODRUFF: All right, John at the White House, thanks.

Iraq, meanwhile, is returning the Bush administration's skepticism. Its Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz says Washington's rejection of Baghdad's overture on weapons inspections proves the issue is just a pretext for the U.S. to attack.


TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: The Americans were using this matter as a pretext. They might use other pretexts in order to commit their aggression against Iraq.


WOODRUFF: Well, these latest statements from Iraq do not seem to be swaying lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Here is our congressional correspondent Kate Snow.

Kate, they've been working hard on getting language in a resolution out. Where does all that stand right now?

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Judy, the pressure is building up here for that resolution. The groundwork is being laid.

Now, Vice President Dick Cheney was up here for lunch today with the Republican Conference. He also met with top Republican leaders shortly before that. Republican leaders say they're working with the White House on exactly how this resolution will read.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison told me that she expects to it be straight, simple authorization for a use of force by the president.

Senator John McCain saying that he thinks they'll have language from the White House sometime this week. And he said it's not quite as important what the legal language of the resolution is but, rather, the message.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Saddam Hussein's credibility gap continues to be as wide as the Grand Canyon. This is not the first time that Saddam Hussein has offered to allow the inspectors to come back. It's been on many occasions where they've been back, and then they've been thrown out or stifled and stymied in their efforts.


SNOW: That was actually a different answer from Senator McCain. Senator McCain had said earlier in that same news conference that he thought that the language was less important, the nuance was less important than sending a message that the American people are behind their president.

What you just heard him talking about was his comment on Saddam Hussein's offer to allow in weapons inspectors. The senator saying he doesn't buy that for one minute.

Now the biggest factor pushing this along, Judy, is really on the other side of the aisle, Democrats. Democratic strategists and aides privately telling us that Democrats have made a decision that they need to go along now, they need to build a resolution with the White House. Politically they feel they have no other choice.

One senior Democratic aide telling CNN that, Look, the House is going to pass something, because it's controlled by Republicans. The Senate is probably going to pass something. Better that they be at the table, working on it with the White House, rather than just letting it pass them by.

Two weeks ago, Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, had said he had deep concerns about going after Saddam Hussein. In fact, he said the case, quote, "hadn't been made for military action in Iraq."

I asked him today what's changed his mind in those two weeks.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I think we have begun to see a growing international level of support that we would hope to -- we would have hoped we could have achieved. I think in part, it was as a result of the president's speech last week. In part, it's because the administration is doing what it needs to do, and soliciting that support one-on-one with international leadership.


SNOW: Daschle still says that the evidence is, in his words, "inconclusive" about Iraq's capabilities. But he now says that there is strong enough, ample evidence, he said, to suggest that Saddam Hussein is still very dangerous.

While he is ready to sit down with the White House, Judy, there are some Democrats still voicing concerns. Senator Dick Durbin today, for one, said that he feels that Congress and the White House ought to wait for the U.N. to respond to Iraq's offer to let in weapons inspectors.

In fact, Durbin says he is worried that the White House won't take yes for an answer. Those were his words. He said he feels the White House has a strategy, politically, to force Congress into a big argument here. He said he thinks it's a confrontation that the White House is trying to force with Congress because of the elections upcoming. Dick Durbin saying that the White House wants to make it clear -- wants to make a clear push for Republicans as those elections approach -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right Kate, thanks very much.

Well, now we've heard from the Capitol, we've heard from White House, we've heard from Iraq. What about the people?

Our Bill Schneider's been pouring over some just-released public opinion polls, and what are you finding out?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, President Bush and Saddam Hussein have both taken stands aimed at influencing American public opinion.

Now, let's see where the American people stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Has the Bush administration done enough to explain to the American public why the U.S. might take military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power?

Two weeks ago, the answer was no. Now, the answer is maybe.

Half the public feels the administration has made its case; almost half feels it hasn't. Progress, but not a complete success.

President Bush's case hinges on the United Nations.

BUSH: The United Nations must act. It's time for them to determine whether or not they'll be the United Nations or the League of Nations.

SCHNEIDER: Only 37 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should send ground troops to Iraq over the opposition of the U.N. 46 percent say the U.S. should take action only with U.N. support. And 14 percent do not want to send ground troops under any circumstances.

Two questions are at the heart of the political debate. Republicans ask, Why wait? Congress should vote now, before the midterm elections.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: This is a grave situation. It's something -- if we put it off, I think, when would we come back in session? January, February? We don't know what's going to happen by then.

SCHNEIDER: The public agrees. The voters do not want to be cut out of this crucial decision.

Democrats ask, Why now? They suspect the administration may be timing the decision in order to gain a political advantage, but they can't say it.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I certainly don't think that the president would do that. There might be some around him who would engage in that, and it shouldn't be permitted.

SCHNEIDER: Americans overwhelmingly reject the view that President Bush is asking Congress to support military action because it might help Republicans. Two-thirds say it's not politics, it's because he believes it's necessary to protect the U.S. from terrorism.

On the other hand, people do believe the Democrats are being driven by politics: 59 percent say the Democrats want to avoid a congressional vote on Iraq because they're afraid the issue might hurt them in the election.


SCHNEIDER: Those who want to delay military action have only one card to play: the U.N., even if Saddam Hussein is also playing that card -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And it's all unfolding still.


WOODRUFF: All right, Bill, thanks very much.

We'll have much more next on Iraq when Senator Joe Lieberman goes "On the Record." How does his stance towards Saddam Hussein square with views of other Democrats thinking about a run for the White House?

Also ahead:


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Massachusetts Democrats most agonize about the states bad habit of electing Republicans governor.


WOODRUFF: Bill Delaney on today's primary concerns in Massachusetts.

Plus, stay with us for Janet Reno's expected concession statement in the Florida governor's race. And reflections on her career: the ups, the downs and the controversy.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), CHMN. ARMED SERVICES COMMITTE: ... the president gave to the United Nations last week. We now have to call his bluff and, in fact, say to the United Nations Security Council, let's go into an active inspection regime with no conditions.

This is not a question of negotiating: total U.N. involvement, no conditions on inspections, and if there's any attempt to deceive or frustrate those inspections, there's an immediate authorization from the Security Council to enforce by military means.

I mean, look, we know Saddam's record. In our system of justice, we consider people innocent until proven guilty. In Saddam's case, we've got to consider him guilty until proven innocent.

WOODRUFF: Is this a waste of everybody's time to talk about getting inspectors in there, when what you and the administration and others are saying is, We really want to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

LIEBERMAN: I think it's a last chance for Iraq to prove that it is not as dangerous as we know it is today. Iraq promised at the end of Gulf War to disarm itself from all weapons of mass destruction. They haven't done that.

If, as a result of our strength now, and the movement of some allies toward us, against Saddam, for all his violation of U.N. resolutions he, in fact, is prepared to disarm, then that would give us a very different set of goals about Iraq.

But don't hold your breath to that -- for that to happen. This is an evil, deceitful person who has used weapons of mass destruction, and if we don't stop him, he'll use them again.

WOODRUFF: The congressional resolution, the language therein. Are you in favor of language that would basically give the president broad authority to use whatever means are necessary to go in and get the job done?

LIEBERMAN: I am. I have supported military action to end Saddam Hussein's regime for 11 years. So I can't very well oppose it now that President Bush has asked for that to happen.

WOODRUFF: Majority Leader Tom Daschle and others are saying this shouldn't be rushed into. This is something we needed to be deliberative about and to think about. Others -- the administration is saying as soon as possible. What is your sense on the timing?

LIEBERMAN: Well Judy, I must say that about a week ago my hope was that we could take is in two steps. One was to endorse the president's challenge to the United Nations. And then if Iraq did not respond, to come back and endorse military action.

This president is going to ask Congress for support soon. And...

WOODRUFF: Days, weeks? I mean, are we talking September?

LIEBERMAN: It's certainly within weeks. I think -- I would not be surprised if, by end of the month -- this month of September -- President Bush asks us, one, to support his challenge issued at the United Nations. And two, if Iraq does not comply, to authorize him to join with other countries around the world in using all necessary means to enforce existing U.N. resolutions.

WOODRUFF: Senator, I know you others have said no politics at all involved, but politics in the broader sense. Are the American people going to get the debate, the discussion that they deserve about such a momentous move with all this sort of move to jump on the bandwagon with the president?

LIEBERMAN: It's not a universal move among Democrats to jump on the bandwagon with President Bush in calling for tough action against Saddam.

But many of my colleagues in both parties still have questions about exactly when we should take military action, and that will be reflected in the debate. This is one of those moments where each of us really has to decide what we think is best for our country. There will be a very vigorous debate on this. It's not going to be everyone falling into line.

WOODRUFF: You don't think the pressure out there, political or otherwise, to not be seen as on board, is not fairly overwhelming right now?

LIEBERMAN: I don't. A lot of questions are being raised by members of both parties. And I think when we get to a debate on the floor of the Senate, you'll hear those as well.

WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Lieberman, thanks very much.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.



WOODRUFF: And a little bit more on politics.

When I asked the senator about how Democrats will get those issues front and center that they want to talk about before the November 5 elections, he said, assuming Congress votes by the middle of October, he said there'll be perhaps three weeks left for Democrats to talk about the economy, education, Social Security and some of the other domestic issues that they'd like to talk about. We shall see.

Now for more on the emerging political angles in the debate over Iraq, let's turn to political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times."

Ron, we just heard from Senator Lieberman.

What about these men who are thinking about running for president on the Democratic side? What are they facing right now in the way of pressure?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, there may not be unanimity in the Senate as a whole, but among the Democrats who are seriously considering 2004, there is going to be something very close to it, in all likelihood.

Joe Lieberman has been most hawkish on Iraq. But it's likely that everyone except outgoing governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, who's looking at the race, will support the use of force in the end.

John Edwards made a statement right after President Bush's speech last week, the senator from North Carolina. Dick Gephardt has been consistent. I'm told that Al Gore is going to come out more explicitly in support of force. And even John Kerry, who's raised the most questions among the -- apart from Dean -- the indications are that he, too, will be there in the end. He's never ruled it out.

WOODRUFF: So we're not going to hear the sort of debate that I was talking to Senator Lieberman...

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you may hear from some other senators, but by and large you're not going to have what you had, I think, during the first Persian Gulf War -- if we can call it that now -- which was a division among the major Democrats.

You forget -- it's easy to forget that some of the Democrats like Mario Cuomo and Sam Nunn, who were critical of that war, their decision not to run may have been influenced in part by the sense that that was success.

But this time I think there's a much stronger feeling among Democrats, on both political and substantive grounds, that post-9/11 is really not viable to be standing against us.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of which, some of the senators who are running for reelection this year, whether it's Wellstone or Tom Harkin or Tim Johnson, Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee now circulating -- I got a copy of this -- some previous statements that they made.

Here's just one: Paul Wellstone said, "If we rush to war, it will be a nightmare in the Persian Gulf."

They're resurrecting all this because they think it will work against these senators in very close races in November.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. I think, first of all, in most of the competitive races you saw the Democrats come out for Bush and for military force very quickly.

People like Tim Johnson; Alex Sanders, a challenger in South Carolina; Bob Clemen (ph), a challenger from Tennessee -- that was a tip-off that in these, people looking at a diverse constituency didn't want to really be in an argument about this.

What the Republicans are hoping is that, in effect, the new conflict over Iraq recontextualizes, or changes the backdrop for old votes on national security, and old comments make those seem more dangerous now than they may have seemed at the time.

Minnesota really is the classic example of that, South Dakota to some extent, where they're going after these earlier votes and trying to say, Look, if we followed the path that Senator Wellstone or Senator Johnson wanted, we would not be in a position now to confront our enemies.

That's a risk for Democrats, no doubt about it.

WOODRUFF: We'll have to see whether it works.

All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.

And we are watching very closely in South Florida now, where Janet Reno is expected to come out in just a few moments to announce her concession in the contest for the Democratic nomination for governor.

But when we come back -- and that will be what we look at when we come back. But right now, in the meantime, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler. She's at the New York Stock Exchange for a look at today's market activity.

Hello, Rhonda.


Iraq's pledge to allow weapons inspectors to return sparked a very brief rally at the open today. Gains fizzled, though, as Wall Street focused its attention on domestic matters. Namely, a weak economy and more earnings warnings. For the day the Dow lost 172 points, the Nasdaq finished 1.25 percent lower

McDonald's warned this year's earnings will be significantly lower than Wall Street's forecast. That gave investors reason to sell the stock. It ended down about $2.76.

Tyco making headlines once again today. A company filing with the SEC shows the firm's former CEO Dennis Kozlowski authorized nearly $100 million in loans to 51 other executives and employees, which were forgotten. Tyco said the loans were made without approval by the board. But the taglines continue to center on Kozlowski's spending habits. Tyco claims he used company money to buy a $15,000 dog-shaped umbrella stand and a $6,000 shower curtain, among other things.

Finally, on a much more serious note, today marked the one year anniversary of the reopening of the markets after the September 11 terror attacks. Trading was preceded by a moment of silence and the singing of "God Bless America."

That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including an update on today's Democratic primary for Massachusetts governor.


WOODRUFF: These are live pictures from Miami-Dade County, South Florida, where a crowd of reporters and other supporters waiting for Janet Reno to come out and announce that she is conceding in the Democratic race for the nomination to be governor of the state of Florida.

She was running against Bill McBride. He came out ahead of her by several thousand votes. To make a long story short, there was a mistake in the way the votes were set up there in South Florida. And Bill McBride has been declared the winner, is about to be declared the winner officially. And it looks like Janet Reno will be concede any minute now. We'll take you there live as soon as that gets under way.

While we wait, with us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University: Paul Begala and Bob Novak.

All right, gentlemen, now that Janet Reno is about to concede, are the Democrats hurt a bit by this messy voting situation in South Florida? Or are the Republicans off balance because of the fact that Jeb Bush is running against somebody he didn't expect to run against?


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, Judy, I think, to begin with, Jeb Bush after the last election promised us that he would fix this problem. And it is not fixed. And so I think voters are going to look to him for leadership. And if he passes the buck, he is going to look like he is not a very effective leader.

The Democrats have lost a week of precious time to campaign. It's a very late primary already. They have lost a week. But if Attorney General Reno, as expected, gives the kind of statement, withdrawing and conceding supporting Bill McBride, that people expect, I think that will go a long way to repairing damage the Democrats face. I don't know how Bush repairs the damage he faces.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Judy, the Democratic spin has been to blame Jeb Bush on the incredible mistakes of the bumbling Democrats in South Florida, who really made the mess. Some of them, I think, did it on purpose to suppress Janet Reno's votes, so Bill McBride would win. He is the better candidate.

And so Paul is right. They lost a week of momentum. But what they really lost is a very weak candidate in Janet Reno. Democrats all over Florida are saying: "This was a mess. It was horrible. But thank God the witch is gone and we've got a good candidate."

WOODRUFF: So, are you both saying that Jeb Bush isn't disadvantaged here very much?

NOVAK: I don't think he's disadvantaged on this.

Frankly, I think he's facing in McBride an unknown quantity who looks like he will be a stronger candidate than Janet Reno. But who wouldn't? Even Paul Begala would be a stronger candidate than Janet Reno.

BEGALA: No, actually, I do think Jeb Bush is hurt a lot by this, Judy, because he has had a string of problems.

Much more important, of course, has been the state's mismanagement of its foster care system, which has been an international disgrace and a trouble that is laid at the footsteps of the governor of the state. Now, again, the state that became famous for being unable to run an election still can't run one. He did promise he would fix it. And he didn't.

And then, finally, he does have a high-quality opponent in Bill McBride, who they won't be able to tar and trash. In the primary, Jeb Bush ran ads in the Democratic primary attacking Bill McBride. And it looks like McBride won anyway. So that is trouble for Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right, we are turning you -- just quickly, while we continue to wait for Janet Reno down there -- we are going to ask you about a story in "The Washington Post" today. That is the Bush administration restructuring several so-called advisory committees to Department of Health and Human Services -- these are committees that advise the secretary on science matters, science policy -- putting people on those committees who apparently are in line with the administration.

Do we have a situation here, Bob, of politics taking precedence over science?

NOVAK: Yes, indeed. And it should. It happens in every administration.

You know, the idea that science is science is nonsense. And, clearly, Tommy Thompson -- who is the secretary of HHS, a very able man for a long time, four-term governor of Wisconsin -- wanted to clear out some of these left-wing scientists and get them out of there. This is the way the government works.

The idea that there is only one scientific answer is ridiculous. What's behind this criticism is that a lot of people -- perhaps somebody sitting right across from me -- thinks that George W. Bush is not a legitimate president and can't do the things other presidents do. He is legitimate. He was sworn in. And he has a right to have an administration to his liking.

WOODRUFF: Paul, quickly, because we are about to go to Janet Reno.

BEGALA: Well, it is a shame when he plays right-wing politics with science, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Paul, I am going to have to interrupt you. We will come back to you in a minute.

This is Janet Reno speaking in Miami-Dade County. Let's listen to her.


JANET RENO (D), FORMER FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Bill McBride is the Democratic nominee for the governor of the state of Florida, and I congratulate him. We just had a great, good talk. I congratulated him on the positive and very effective campaign that he ran, and I told him that I thought he was going to be a great governor.

He, I think, will really combine so many of the talents and the skills and the abilities that will make Florida one of its greatest governors. And I want to do everything that I possibly can to see that he gets elected.

I urge everybody to support him, because I think this is going to be one of the most critical elections in Florida's history. I think Bill can lead us. I think he can build an educational system that we can be proud of. I think he can build an educational system that will produce a work force in this state with the skills necessary to fill the jobs that can make this state competitive in the world economy.

I look forward to working with him on issues such as prescription drugs, on issues of how we provide long-term care needs of our elder population. And I look forward to working with him to figuring out how we assure the people of Florida just, fair, timely and accurate elections. The present governor of Florida has had two shots at it now and he's not met either opportunity.

I have an opportunity now. As a candidate I have put the election behind me. With this, we move forward.

But as a private citizen, I want to do everything in my power to see that the people of the state of Florida have the right to vote, the right to vote in a timely way, the right to vote for the candidate of their choice, the right to have their vote counted in an accurate and timely fashion. I believe in this with all my heart, because it is at the foundation of our democracy, it is what we hold dear and we cannot take it for granted.

I want to make sure that I do everything to see that the elections divisions have the staff they need, have the expertise they need, that they are trained and that they have the checks and balances in place to ensure a fair, democratic election for this state. I will fight as hard as I can. I will file lawsuits in my name. I will do anything I can that's right and proper to see that the voting processes of this state have the confidence of the people of this state and that a democratic result.

Finally, I would like to say to all the people who supported me over this year and even before, thank you, thank you, thank you. You have been so wonderful and I will always be in your debt.

You make politics an activity of joy. Politics should be a great profession. It should be an opportunity to serve, and you have made it so.

And all the wonderful people that I've met from the Alabama border, west of Pensacola, all the way to Key West have given me an even greater faith in the people of the state of Florida. They are great and wonderful people. And I look forward to working with them and to serving them again and again and again in a private capacity.

And finally, I'd like to talk to the younger people of Florida. Public service is one of the great callings that you can ever undertake. There is nothing quite like it, nothing quite like using the law, using government to try to make things better for people who cannot help themselves, to give people equal opportunity, to make government work the right way to ensure self-sufficiency and independence. I hope that you will take your experience and move forward to continue to serve, to make a difference. It has been so rewarding to work with you.

And finally, to all of the people of the state of Florida, I say thank you for the opportunity to work with you and serve you.

And I look forward to the future. (APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Janet Reno, just until a few moments ago, candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in the state of Florida, saying that she will support Bill McBride. He is the nominee. She said he will make a great governor. She went on to say that he ran a very positive campaign. And she added that she will work as hard as she can now to clean up Florida's election problems.

She said, "This is something," she said, "I will fight as hard as I can. I will file lawsuits as necessary to make sure that people's votes are counted."

Let's bring back our "CROSSFIRE" two: Paul Begala and Bob Novak.

Paul, what did you think?

BEGALA: It's everything that a Democrat could want, everything that Bill McBride could want, Judy.

Janet Reno, she was gracious. She was passionate. She was her plainspoken self, very credible. I think a lot of people who watched that are going to think very highly not only of Janet Reno, but listen to what she says and take a look at this new guy, Bill McBride. I think this -- I couldn't ask for more as a Democrat.


NOVAK: I think, Judy, that the Republicans are really sad about this watching her, kind of sentimental. They said, why couldn't she have been the nominee, because she would have been a sure loser, maybe by a huge margin, against Jeb Bush?

Bill McBride, we don't know. He is a political rookie. Political rookies usually don't do that well their first time around. It should be an interesting race, though, just as interesting, I think, as it would have been against Janet.

WOODRUFF: All right, nothing rookie about the two of you.

Bob Novak, Paul Begala, gentlemen, thanks very much. And we appreciate it. And we're sorry to have cut you off a little earlier. But maybe we'll get back to that question about science vs. politics very soon.

The "Inside Buzz" is next on today's Massachusetts primary. Who will win the chance to face an Olympic face-off with Republican Mitt Romney?


WOODRUFF: In Massachusetts, election officials are reporting fairly light turnout so far in today's primary elections. Among those who did make it to the polls: the four Democrats seeking their party's nomination for governor. After a long, hard battle, Massachusetts Democrats are deciding which candidate will go up against Republican Mitt Romney.

As CNN's Bill Delaney reports, Romney is considered the favorite, if the polls and recent state politics are any guide.


DELANEY (voice-over): For 12 years now in Massachusetts, what has driven Democrats crazy: They have got a hammerlock on the state legislature. Who the state's governor is keeps slipping their hold.

Four candidates trying to change that in Tuesday's Democratic primary: State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien leading throughout, but with dangerously soft support, a late poll showed; Senate President Tom Birmingham lagging throughout despite strong union support. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich got in late without much money, then traveled around the state in a decrepit R.V.

ROBERT REICH (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We have not had a campaign that is in any way politics as usual. This is breaking every rule in the normal campaign text. The electorate doesn't like politics as usual.

DELANEY: And under the heading of politics not as usual: reformer and former state legislator Warren Tolman, who surged briefly after this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, I think he's hot.

WARREN TOLMAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, some people think bald is beautiful.


DELANEY: What has worked for Beacon Hill insider O'Brien: a mostly ungimmicky campaign, good support from party rank-and-file, high numbers among women -- women possibly critical this fall against Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the billionaire former Salt Lake Olympic president who is currently leading all Democratic contenders.

SHANNON O'BRIEN (D), MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I've talked to many women. They don't trust Mitt Romney when it comes to a woman's right to choose.

DELANEY: O'Brien is also courting gays, seniors, teachers, while attacking Romney's corporate ties, previewing the Democrats' fall campaign, whoever wins the primary -- turnout key amid concern the campaign's alleged banality and intermittent nastiness could turn off voters.

Warren Tolman did not take interest group money, running as a Clean Elections candidate, funded with $3 million-plus of taxpayers' money. He still got negative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD) NARRATOR: Robert Reich: a habit of misrepresentation.


TOLMAN: My comparative ads have been nothing short of truthful.

REICH: I do believe that the recipient of Clean Elections money is held and should be held to a high standard of behavior.

DELANEY: Though the standard behavior Massachusetts Democrats most agonize about: the state's bad habit of electing Republicans governor.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.


WOODRUFF: And we'll have much more campaign news right after this break.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": New York Democrat Carl McCall has released his first TV ad since winning the right to challenge incumbent Governor George Pataki. The ad promotes McCall as -- quote -- "moderate, pragmatic and sensible" and features his pledge to make education a top priority.

A new poll finds an extremely tight race for Maryland governor. The Mason-Dixon survey shows Republican Bob Ehrlich edging Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend 46 percent to 43 percent. Ehrlich has made some big gains in recent months. Back in March, a Mason-Dixon survey gave Townsend a 13-point lead over Ehrlich.

As we told you earlier, President Bush traveled to Tennessee this afternoon for a political fund-raiser. Mr. Bush was the headliner at a luncheon for Senate candidate Lamar Alexander in Nashville. The president later visited a nearby magnet school, where the crowd included Alexander's opponent, Democratic Congressman Bob Clement. The school is located in Clement's district. The president's father, by the way, the nation's 41st president, will campaign for Lamar Alexander tomorrow.

Still ahead: the last dance for Janet Reno? Now that she has conceded the race for governor, our Bruce Morton has some thoughts on her public service and public image.



GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I wanted to commend Mr. McBride for his primary victory. I look forward to a good campaign in the general election.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Florida Governor Jeb Bush, you just saw there, congratulating his new opponent, Democratic nominee Bill McBride. McBride's victory of course ends Janet Reno's political career, at least for now.

Bruce Morton looks back on her often controversial public life.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear?

JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I, Janet Reno, do solemnly swear...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the first woman attorney general, though she was President Clinton's third choice for the job. And she served eight years, longer than any attorney general in the last century.

She was no stranger to controversy: ordered the assault on cult leader David Koresh's Waco stronghold, which left dozens dead, and took responsibility.

RENO: The buck stops with me.

MORTON: Republicans blasted her for refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged Clinton-Gore campaign finance irregularities in the 1996 campaign.

RENO: Because further investigation is not likely to result in a prosecutable case under applicable criminal law and principles of federal prosecution, I have concluded that a special counsel is not warranted.

MORTON: But she did appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Clintons' Arkansas real estate ventures. And she approved expanding that investigation into the White House Travel Office, Paula Jones' accusations, and eventually whether President Clinton had lied under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, an investigation which led to his impeachment. It would be hard to argue she was soft on the president overall.

Controversy again when she ordered federal agents to take Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives and reunite the 6-year-old with his Cuban father.

RENO: I still have to do what I think is right under the law. And I think that this little boy's father should speak for him. And I think he should be with his father.


RENO: Just dance. Now hit it!


MORTON: She was a big hit on "Saturday Night Live," appearing with an actor who had often made fun of her. And the dance parties became a staple of her campaign.

People liked her -- not enough in Florida to make her the Democratic candidate for governor, but people liked her. She wasn't Washington somehow. And she still has the red truck. Who knows where it may take her next?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Indeed, we are all wondering.

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


Showdown Iraq: Saddam Hussein makes an offer the United Nations can't refuse. But the United States has a different take. Her husband is President's Bush's right-hand man. Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynne, joins us live -- her thoughts on the war on terror, her husband's health, and a project near and dear to her heart. And if you are going on a diet, don't trust the advertisements. We'll tell you about a consumer warning.

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


WOODRUFF: That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. Tomorrow, we'll have complete results from today's Massachusetts primary. We'll have it for you then.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. I'm Judy Woodruff.


Hard Line Against Hussein; Janet Reno Concedes Defeat in Florida Democratic Primary>

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