CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Who Speaks for Democrats Willing To Buck Party Leaders and Bush?; Gore Speaks Out On Iraq Amid Speculation Over His Future Intentions
Aired September 23, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. In the debate over attacking Iraq, who speaks for Democrats willing to buck party leaders and President Bush?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Al Gore dives into the debate. Is he challenging Mr. Bush and angling for his job?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. Iraq or the economy? Our new poll shows Americans election year priorities have taken a dramatic turn.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. The Senate schedules a showdown over Homeland Security. I'll tell who seems poised to win by a hair.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We begin with a political ground shifting on a possible war with Iraq. For the first time, our new poll shows more Americans say Iraq will be more important to their votes with Congress this fall than those say economy is their top concern. It is a significant turn as President Bush keeps pressing Congress and the United Nations to green light his get-tough stand towards Saddam Hussein.
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WOODRUFF: Well, we hope you were seeing what we were trying to show you there, and that is President Bush's remarks today, -- or rather Al Gore -- I'm sorry. President Bush's remarks today as he was speaking in the state of New Jersey.
Meantime a number of Democrats on Capitol Hill, appear to have been swayed by Mr. Bush's arguments for a quick vote on Iraq. But what about Al Gore? A short while ago in California, the Party's 2000 presidential nominee weighed in.
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AL GORE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... our most urgent task right now is to shift our focus and concentrate on immediately launching a new war against Saddam Hussein. And the president is proclaiming a new uniquely American right to preemptively attack whomsoever he may deem represents a potential future threat.
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WOODRUFF: Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley watched Al Gore's speech, and she has reading between the lines.
Candy, is this the first shot for 2004?
CROWLEY: Well if he runs in 2004, we'll see it at one of the shots for 2004. But the people who sort of are watching the tea leaf droppings say they're pretty convinced that Al Gore hasn't decided whether he's going to run.
But this was a very tough, very political speech. A lot of sharp elbows in here aimed towards George Bush.
In addition to that, we've seen Al Gore in Florida in recent days where they had more trouble with polling. We're also see him in future weeks in New Hampshire. We will see him in Iowa as well, it looks like a pretty political schedule.
The question is whether he's just marking his place in keeping it there or whether he is actually running. And a lot of people say, Look, I truly believe that this man has not decided yet whether he is going to run. A lot of them think he is waiting for the outcome of the mid-term elections. Not just who controls the Senate, who controls the house but also who is going to be in the governor's seats, because that, as you know, has a big impact on presidential races.
WOODRUFF: Sure it does. Candy, how is what he -- what Gore is saying on Iraq compare -- stack up against what the other potential Democratic candidates are running for president.
CROWLEY: Well, the other -- now, what the former vice president seems to have been saying in this speech, which is still ongoing, is Saddam Hussein's a bad guy. We need a change in leadership there. But we first need a U.N. resolution, we need something from the Senate. We need international community behind us.
The others, Gephardt, Kerry, certainly Edwards, have been more hawkish. But it was also interesting that in all of this, Al Gore also established his sort of hawkish credentials, saying, Look, I voted for the 1991 resolution in the Gulf War.
WOODRUFF: If we are watching Al Gore and Iraq, what do we look for next here? CROWLEY: You know, Al Gore is also -- has been known tell people around him he's also upset that, in terms of the discussion on the economy, that the Democrats haven't sort of taken that and really run with it. I would look for an economic speech. I think maybe he'll let this be his Iraq speech, because he's sort of gradually doing a speech on the environment, a speech on this, Iraq. And now I think we will look for an economy speech.
WOODRUFF: You say he mentioned the economy but didn't develop it.
CROWLEY: He did, right, yes. It was just in the context of, Look what they did to the economy. We a blah blah blah surplus and now it's a deficit. But I think we'll see a more expanded version of that sometime really soon.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy. Thanks very much.
Well, now to the political backdrop for this Iraq debate. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is here.
All right, Bill, what is the evidence that this campaign agenda is shifting?
SCHNEIDER: Well, Judy, in early September around Labor Day, the Iraq issue was being hotly debated in Washington but President Bush had not spoken out. The economy was still the public's No. 1 concern. For the past three weeks, President Bush has focused on Iraq and the effect is clear. He has shifted the agenda for the mid-term campaign. The number of people who say the possibility of war with Iraq is the more important issue, has jumped 15 points. They now outnumber those who say the economy is the top issue.
WOODRUFF: But what about specifically this Iraq resolution that president is asking Congress to approve. What do people say about that?
SCHNEIDER: Mixed. President Bush is asking Congress to give him unlimited authority to use military action against Iraq whenever he feels that is necessary to protect U.S. security.
Now, do Americans want Congress do that? And the answer is, they're not sure. Forty-seven percent say yes, 51 percent say no. That's not just an issue that divides the country, it also sharply divides the two political parties.
Three-quarters of Republicans believe Congress should pass the resolution the president wants. Two-thirds of Democrats say no. Rank and file Democrats have felt leaderless on this issue. That's why Al Gore spoke out today.
WOODRUFF: So does the public then oppose military action against Iraq.
SCHINEIDER: No, a majority still supports using force to oust Saddam Hussein. That has not changed. But most Americans do not want go it alone, our poll shows. Most Americans want bush to get support from the United Nations and other countries. In fact, U.N. support is even more important than congressional support, according to our poll.
WOODRUFF: And, Bill, what, about whether -- how Americans see this as opposed to the war on terror? How do people feel in terms of how important an enemy Iraq is versus Osaka bin Laden?
SCHNEIDER: well, Judy, we asked people, who do you think poses a bigger threat to the United States, Iraq and Saddam Hussein or al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? Fifty percent say Osama bin Laden. Only 28 percent say Saddam Hussein. Another 18 percent say they are equally threatening.
Americans see Saddam as potential threat. Osama already attacked the U.S. For all the focus on Iraq, Americans have not lost site of public enemy No. 1.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill, thanks very much.
Well, as we watch all these poll numbers coming in, another top Democrat is moving front and center in questioning the White House case against Saddam Hussein: House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi. She's the Senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. I spoke with Pelosi a little while ago and I asked her what her main problem is with the administration's proposed resolution on Iraq.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY WHIP: Well we had hoped that there would be bipartisan consensus on the resolution on Iraq. But the proposal sent over by the White House has -- raises serious concerns. It is in three parts. First, it talks about using force for -- to enforce the U.N. resolutions and most people don't have a great deal of trouble with that.
But then it goes on to say -- talk about the security threat that Iraq poses to the United States, which is a much larger mandate to the president.
But even that is eclipsed by the third part, which is to restore peace and stability to the region. And so that is a very wide open mandate that the president is asking Congress to give the president for the use of force in the region. And I think that hopefully we can moderate the scope of the resolution.
WOODRUFF: But in doing this, isn't this an uphill battle because even in trying to modify, moderate this language, aren't you going up against not only the White House and most of the Republican party but your own leadership in the Democratic party?
PELOSI: Well, there's diversity of opinion in the Democratic party. But we have framework to -- for our discussion. We have questions that have been raised by members which are legitimate.
They talk about the cost of the war in Iraq. The cost to the war on terrorism. The cost in lives of our young people that we will put in harms way. The cost taxpayers could be $100 billion -- a billion dollars a day if we are there two months. And open-ended after that. The cost our relationships and our allies who may not be in agreement with us. The cost to our economy, the uncertainty of taking unilateral action into Iraq.
If it's swift and surgical, taking out communications, anti- aircraft and command and control facilities, in a very technical war, that's one thing. If it is a hundred thousand troops on the ground or a quarter of a million troops on the ground for an unknown length of time, that injects great deal of uncertainty into our economy and how our economy comes forward. I think they are big costs we need answers to.
WOODRUFF: But these questions you are raising come at a time when many in your party -- the leadership in your party, Dick Gephardt and others -- seem to want to present a united front. They don't seem to want any daylight between their position on Iraq and the president's position, for fear of the Democrats looking weak. Are you risking what they are try doing here?
PELOSI: Well, I don't think -- I think that everyone -- this is a very serious vote. This is what we come to Congress to do, to vote our conscious based on information that we have available to us, and representing our constituents.
I think everyone is respectful. Our leader has not said -- told anyone how he wants them to vote. He said everyone will have go his or her own way in terms of making this decision in our hearts and in our heads. And that's what we will do.
Now we're trying to, as I say, create framework under the leadership of our ranking member on the Arms Services Committee, Congressman Ike Skeleton and next person on the committee, John Spratt, to put together alternative resolution that some may support. There will be no caucus position.
WOODRUFF: But do you agree with columnist David Broder (ph) and others who observe this and say, What you've got is a number -- a lot of Democrats who are putting politics ahead of principle, who are more worried about the November elections than they are about standing up for what they believe in.
PELOSI: I don't think so. I think people will vote in what they believe on this. This is about as serious a vote as we would take in the Congress and a historic one too. So some of the questions I mentioned about the cost of the war in terms of lives and other opportunity, are legitimate questions people have. There are other questions about the justification of for the use of force.
As senior Democrat on intelligence committee, I have not seen -- while the president may have it -- I have not seen intelligence that says that Iraq has the capability to launch a nuclear attack against the U.S. and it isn't there.
WOODRUFF: Nancy Pelosi talking to us a just couple of hours ago.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will elaborate on the case against Iraq tomorrow when he face assist special session of Parliament and when his office releases dossier on Iraq's weapons program. CNN plans live coverage of Blair's remarks to Parliament, that's at 6:30 a.m., Eastern.
As we speak, staff members from the White House and the Congressional leadership are meeting to work out the language of an Iraq resolution. But one member of the Senate is staking his position very firmly.
Let's bring in congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.
Jon, a little bit of a surprise here.
KARL: Well, certainly very interesting, Judy.
That one member is Jim Jeffords -- the former Republican senator who is now independent and has been known in the past to create a headache or two for the White House -- tells CNN that he does not like the proposal the president has sent up here in terms of a resolution on Iraq. And in fact, he says he's likely to vote against any resolution authorizing the force of use against Iraq.
And then over the weekend he actually went a little bit further and said that he believes that the White House is playing politics here, suggesting that all this talk about Iraq is an effort to do well in mid-term elections.
WOODRUFF: Jon, another issue have you been watching, Homeland Security. Are you getting a better sense now of what's going to happen there? It's been a standoff over the last few weeks between the White House and a number of Democrats.
KARL: This has been standoff, in fact, going all the way back to July, that's when they first deadlocked on the issue of civil service protections for those employees of the new Department Of Homeland Security. And what's happened -- Homeland Defense -- and what's happened here, Judy, is that this deadlock has moved nowhere but the vote will come on this, the key vote on that key issue, will come this week.
And right now, all 49 Republicans in the Senate have yet to go over to the Republican ---Democratic position. And the Democrats have lost one member. That leaves it potentially right now at 50/50 tie on this key issue. So when the vote comes Thursday, there is a very real possibility that there will a 50/50 tie that will need to be broken by Vice President Cheney.
WOODRUFF: And one other thing, Jon. The commission to -- independent commission to look into what happened before 9/11, the fact that intelligence failed to come up with the kind of information that authorities could act on, where does that stand?
KARL: Well that will actually be voted on tomorrow, Judy. This is the proposal put forward by Joe Leiberman and by John McCain. The White House all along, as you know, has opposed this idea. But on Friday they came out in favor of it. That vote will be tomorrow, tomorrow late afternoon, and is expected to pass overwhelmingly.
WOODRUFF: All right. Jon Karl, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Question, can the newly reelected Chancellor of Germany repair relations with the U.S.? Still ahead, the fallout from a controversial comparison to Adolph Hitler, as well as divisions over Iraq.
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BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you are looking at is your tax dollars at work, keeping incumbent House members safely entrenched in office.
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WOODRUFF: Brooks Jackson asks is it official business or funny business? Either way, it is costing you.
Up next, President Bush tries to influence the tight New Jersey Senate race. Setting up another faceoff with Tom Daschle.
And later, the rap on P. Diddy and his support for apolitical candidate.
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: Remember the 1996 Clinton fund-raising scandals? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal donations from non-U.S. citizens? Televised Senate hearings, a massive FBI investigation. Well, the Federal Election Commission has investigated too, and with me now is CNN's Brooks Jackson.
All right, Brooks, after all this what has the FEC concluded?
JACKSON: Good question, Judy. Well, after more than six years, the FEC has finally closed its books on the case and made its actions public. And the fine paid by the Democratic National Committee for accepting that illegal money, a relatively modest $115,000.
The DNC might have been fined more. The commission's general council, it's top lawyer recommended more severe actions. But the three Democratic election commissioners blocked several of those recommendations on 3 to 3 tie votes.
Scott Thomas, one of the Democratic commissioners who voted against stronger action, filed an 11-page statement to explain his votes. He said, quote, "For the most part, the DNC seems to have been the victim of unscrupulous or careless donors and fundraisers." The DNC's fine was even less than the fine paid by one of the illegal donors, the Buddhist Progress Society. It was responsible for funneling illegal donations to the party in connection with an event at a Buddhist temple attended by then Vice President Al Gore. The Buddhist group paid $120,000 fine. Other fines included: $95,000 against DNC fundraiser John Huang, one hundred -- I'm sorry -- $21,000 against Johnny Chung and $7,000 against Charlie Trie. All major figures in the long-running scandal.
In all, the FEC imposed $719,000 in fines, the vast majority on the donors -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Brooks, thanks. And we're going to see a later in the show talking about how our tax dollars are spent. Wisely or not.
Reporter: Something completely different.
WOODRUFF: Something completely different. Thanks.
Fund-raising, as Brooks was mentioning here, was one of the reasons the President Bush travelled to New Jersey earlier today. Mr. Bush used the trip to raise campaign cash for GOP Senate candidate.
For more on the trip lets's turn to CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president's trip here in Trenton, New Jersey kicking off a week of campaigning and fund-raising. But who wins here for the Senate seat very well could term who controls the Senate. It is a critical race for GOP. The president is here raising $1.5 million for Republican candidate, Douglas Forester.
Meanwhile at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle also here to raise money for the Democratic incumbent Robert Torricelli. Now as you know, Torricelli having problems recently, being severely admonished by Senate Ethics Committee for accepting and not disclosing gifts from a businessman. That businessman now serving an 18-month prison term for making illegal campaign donations.
Now ethics, of course, has become central to this campaign, particularly the advertisements and the war of words is simply escalating.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got a good one in Doug Forester. And a faith, a man who is self made. Man who has got his priorities straight. A man who will be a breath of fresh air for New Jersey and the United States Senate.
MALVEAUX: So the task Mr. Bush's guy Forester or Daschle's guy Torricelli. Which one of them will win could very well determine who controls the Senate. But also just how much of the president's domestic agenda is passed through Congress -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Suzanne, thanks.
Claims of possible eavesdropping in the Iowa Senate race ahead in "Campaign News Daily".
Also new U.S. reaction to the ongoing siege in Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound.
But first, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler at New York Stock Exchange for a market update.
Rhonda, we watched it up, we've watched down, where did it end up?
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: It did end down, Judy, though not at worst levels of the day.
So it's another one of these days where Wall Street had to wrestle with more profit warnings and weak economic readings. Also worries about a possible war with Iraq continue to spook investors. Let's look at numbers for you.
The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 113 points, Wal-Mart led decliners after another big-name retailer said sales for the month looked bleak. The entire sector paid the price. Retail stocks selling off right across the board.
The Nasdaq shed nearly 3 percent, it's hovering around its lowest level in six years.
And another round of indictments have been handed down on scandalized corporate titans. John Rigas, the founder of Adelphia Communications and his three sons, and two other former company execs, have all been charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud. the indictment alleges former execs improperly used company funds from everything from personal loans to building a $13 million golf course on the senior Rigas's property.
That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break. Including a report that Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is adding his voice to the race for New York governor.
WOODRUFF: Among the headlines in our "Newscycle:" Iraq was again front and center today for President Bush and it was also on the mind of his 2000 election opponent Al Gore. In New Jersey, Mr. Bush repeated his call for U.N. to pass a strong resolution requiring Iraq it meet U.N. demands for disarmament.
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BUSH: Disarm Saddam Hussein, before he threatens his neighborhood, before he threatens freedom, before he threatens America and before he threatens civilization. We owe it to our children and we owe it to our grandchildren to keep this nation strong and free.
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WOODRUFF: Meantime, Mr. Bush's election opponent Al Gore weighed in on the Iraq issue as well. He too noted the danger posed by Saddam Hussein, but he questioned the wisdom of the United States acting unilaterally without U.N. sanction.
Also today, a White House spokesman publicly criticized Israeli siege of Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer called Israel's actions, quote, "unhelpful and contrary to peace."
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has sent guidelines to health officials in all 50 states for vaccinating all residents against smallpox. The procedures are designed to counter a possible bioterrorist attack.
And with me now, Betsy Hart of Scripps Howard News Service and Michelle Cottle of "The New Republic."
Here we are, six weeks before the mid-term elections and some Democrats are even criticizing other Democrats for putting politics ahead of principle and saying you're not speaking out when it comes to Iraq.
Michelle, are Democrats doing what their critics are saying?
MICHELLE COTTLE, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Yes, there's been a problem. The Democrats would really rather talk about domestic issues with the election coming up. And they don't want to go up against Bush on an issue he has pretty strong numbers on. So, no one wants it tackle this and they've just kind of done a passing of the ball here.
BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Yes, they're hoping to neutralize it by saying, Yeah, yeah, yeah. We're more or less on aboard with this Iraq thing, now let's talk about prescription drugs or what they call the kitchen table issues. I'm not sure that that strategy's going to be effective there. I think that there's just so much focus on Iraq right now that it's going be hard it get attention on other issues between now and the election.
WOODRUFF: What about these Democrats? I talked to Nancy Pelosi today. There are few other Democrats that are willing to raise their hand and say, This is a problem. Does it hurt the Democrats in any way to be divided? Or could they be any more divided on this?
COTTLE: Well, I'm sure -- especially those who are thinking of running for the presidency on the Senate side and those who have tough elections at home -- would rather not have to have their own party, you know, pointing fingers and calling names along these lines.
And it's very interesting to see what kind of -- the response to Al Gore's speech today is because he came out and tackled some of the issues Democrats have been unwilling to talk about a lot.
HART: Well, he didn't really tackle them. The one thing I noticed in the speech as I listened to it, was I thought I'd sort of forgotten his sort of superior tone as if he is talking it second graders and sort of his teaching rhetoric almost. No, it all came back on a rush, listening to Al Gore once again.
But he is contradicting himself from both last February and of June of 2000 when he said, Look, Iraq is a very serious problem we have to get Saddam Hussein out of there. They're amassing weapons of mass destruction. They're going to go after us. We need get rid of the regime.
Now all of a sudden he's saying, Well wait a minute. And he's trying to find some things to criticize with George Bush while not yet -- while not looking as if he's really again what is a popular initiative, it looks like.
WOODRUFF: Is Al Gore a player in this debate, Michelle? I mean does either one of you think that his views influence the debate one way or another?
COTTLE: Well, I think he is playing an important role here, which is, he's tackling -- I disagree that he is not addressing the issue.
I mean, yes, he's always been kind of hawkish on Saddam Hussein. But he did go after the -- Bush is putting forward the philosophy of preemption, which is a big change in American foreign policy. And nobody really has been able to tackle that because they are so afraid of looking soft on Saddam Hussein. Well, Gore has the cover of he voted to go against Saddam in '91. And he has a little bit of wiggle room here.
But there should be questions asked about Bush's bigger foreign policy agenda here. And I think that is what Gore has done.
HART: And I do think, Judy, that is the right question. I don't actually think what he is saying is relevant. The question is only: To what extent is that pervading the Democratic Party right now?
And there is confusion there, because even just a few weeks ago, they were willing to be much tougher on George Bush and Iraq. Now, all of a sudden, they have stuck their finger in the wind a little bit. "Oops. People are on board with the president here. We have to tread very carefully."
COTTLE: That's why it's important that he's brought up these questions, though. Someone has to stand up and ask these questions. And if Tom Daschle is not necessarily going to do it, or John Edwards, because they are completely on board, Gore is going to be the man to at least get them out into the public debate.
HART: But I just don't think people are looking to him anymore. I think that the attention, as much as Al Gore is not happy about it, has pushed to some of the other presidential hopefuls next time around. I don't think that the leading Democrats right now are very excited about another Gore candidacy. So I don't look for them to carry the ball that Al Gore put out there today.
WOODRUFF: He did have something to say about it today. We will see whether he pursues it any further. And we will also see whether any Democrats mention anything that Al Gore said.
All right, Betsy Hart, Michelle Cottle, thank you both. Good to see you. We appreciate it.
Bob Novak will have the "Inside Buzz" next on President Bush's campaign travel plans -- plus, music mogul P. Diddy singing the praises of an election 2002 candidate.
(voice-over): Tennis rackets tossed over a chair, tennis balls by the dozen, even a tennis table, ducks on the wall, pheasants, and a life-sized dog. Check out the football helmets. Recognize those colors? It is a sportsman's paradise. So which politician works here? The answer coming up.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Tennis fanatic, hunter, football fan, proud granddaddy. That yellow helmet says LSU. And this Capitol crib belongs to Louisiana's own Senator John Breaux.
WOODRUFF: You figured that out, didn't you?
President Bush's campaign trip to New Jersey today on behalf of Republicans Senate candidate Doug Forrester was just the start of a busy political week.
Bob Novak is here now with some "Inside Buzz" on the president's schedule.
What are you hearing?
ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, after New Jersey, he goes Colorado for the Senate race, Arizona for a governor's race, back to Texas, his home state, for a Senate race.
And tomorrow, at the Willard Hotel, he is campaigning for his No. 1 priority, John Thune, who is running for the Senate against Democratic Senator Tim Johnson in South Dakota. For only -- only -- $2,500, you can get a picture with John Thune and George W. Bush. But the fact of the matter is, the Republican insiders tell me that Thune is down four points in the polls against Johnson. That's a close race. It's been going back and forth. WOODRUFF: It's very close. A lot of us are watching that one very closely.
All right, now, you have been told that the high-powered lawyers and lobbyists in Washington have made their collective decision on who they are going to support for president.
NOVAK: The Democratic lawyers and the Democratic...
WOODRUFF: The Democratic, right.
NOVAK: They made their decision. The smoke has come up. And it is John Kerry of Massachusetts.
But they do not want to go public because they don't want to offend Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who is much more powerful in the Senate than Kerry. And these guys are all lobbyists. So they are waiting to see whether Daschle runs or not. But in the real competition between John Edwards and John Kerry for who their choice is among the lawyers, it is John Kerry.
WOODRUFF: And these people vote as a group, go as a group?
NOVAK: Of course. They meet in somebody's basement and make all those plans.
WOODRUFF: Dick Armey: What are you hearing?
NOVAK: Dick Armey is trying to get the homeland security bill through as his legacy. He did a good job on it in the House. But he's a little bit of a lame duck.
And the insiders tell me that Tom DeLay is really coming over as the heir apparent. If the Republicans keep control in the House, he will be majority leader. And he has been whip. And instead of just counting heads, he is really taking some policy positions. He is really laying down the law, particularly on some spending, on how big these appropriation bills should be. So, if you think Tom DeLay was assertive before, you ought to see him now.
WOODRUFF: All right, much more to talk to you about, but we have got to leave it there. Bob Novak, thanks very much.
As the November election approaches, many politicians running for reelection are taking full advantage of the perks of incumbency. And that may be costing you money.
Once again: CNN's Brooks Jackson.
JACKSON (voice-over): What you are looking at is your tax dollars at work keeping incumbent House members safely entrenched in office. This stuff looks just like campaign mail, but read the fine print: "official business." This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense. What's going on here?
(on camera): The fact is, House incumbents of both parties are spending millions of your bucks on this stuff. Here is one by Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia. Does this look like official business to you? His Democratic challenger doesn't think so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at those beautiful kids. This is very slick, Madison Avenue advertising for Mr. Cantor. And I'm paying for it.
JACKSON: Congressman Cantor wouldn't talk to us about his mailings or how he considers them official. Here's one targeted to older females, saying he is fighting for improved health care for women. "Fighting whom?" you wonder. Who is against that?
It also says he is fighting for a prescription drug benefit, but fails to mention he did not support a more generous benefit proposed by Democrats. His official mail declares he is protecting our freedom and security and protecting Virginia's seniors. But it is all produced by Cantor's campaign consultant, whose Web site shows he did a nearly identical mailing to seniors for another candidate, paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. He also did a flag-waving piece similar to Cantor's official mailing for an Alabama candidate's campaign committee.
(on camera): Lots of congressmen send old-fashioned black-and- white newsletters to keep their constituents informed, selectively, of the popular things they are doing. But these full-color brochures and flyers reach a new level of self-promotion.
(voice-over): Here, Congressman Cantor informs us he is stimulating Virginia's economy, protecting Virginia jobs. It's unrelenting political spin. And it is not just Republicans.
Look at these supposedly official mailings by Kentucky Democrat Ken Lucas: highly targeted messages, multiple mailings to farmers, senior citizens, blue-collar workers, even Christian voters. He is for the 10 Commandments. Congressman Lucas wouldn't talk to us about his official mailings either, but his Republican opponent, Geoff Davis, was happy to.
GEOFF DAVIS (R), KENTUCKY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm personally disappointed that, in a time of war and also in a time of economic pressure in this region, that the taxpayers' dollars are being used to effectively finance his campaign.
JACKSON: Davis estimates it would cost his own campaign $100,000 to match the mailings the incumbent sent under the guise of official business.
(on camera): Believe it or not, these were all approved in advance by the House Franking Commission, a committee of incumbents, of course. So they are all perfectly legal. But at least there won't be any more this year. It is illegal to send them within 90 days of an election.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Music mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs plans to make a political endorsement this week in the race for New York governor. Combs tells "Newsweek" he will support Democrat Carl McCall in his race against incumbent Republican George Pataki. McCall, the state comptroller, is the first African-American elected statewide in New York. Combs says -- quote -- "I do vote. I do have kids. And I do have a duty as a citizen to be politically conscious."
Iowa Republican officials are calling for an investigation into the apparent secret recording of a private strategy session for Senate candidate Greg Ganske. Party officials say they were approached by a member of the news media who had a transcript of the meeting, which was held earlier this month. Ganske is challenging incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin. The Harkin campaign denies any knowledge of the incident.
Over the weekend, voters in Hawaii chose two women as the major- party nominees for governor. The results bring the total number of women nominated for governor nationwide to 10. That's a record. Nine of these women are Democrats. One of them, Linda Lingle of Hawaii, is a Republican. The old record of nine female nominees was set back in 1994.
The White House turns a cold shoulder. Next on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll have an update on the strained relations between President Bush and the newly reelected chancellor of Germany after comments about Hitler came between them.
WOODRUFF: In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have moved quickly from celebrating his narrow reelection to engaging in damage control with Washington. Schroeder is seeking a fresh start with the U.S. without a member of his government who reportedly compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler.
CNN's Chris Burns is in Berlin.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day after his reelection victory, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's first Cabinet change is aimed at repairing U.S.-German relations.
He accepts the decision by his justice minister not to be a part of the new government. Herta Daeubler-Gmelin reportedly compared George W. Bush with Adolf Hitler, saying the U.S. president is threatening war with Iraq to divert attention from domestic issues. She insists she was misunderstood.
"I think Mrs. Herta Gmelin should be respected for saying she wants a clean slate," he said. But the justice minister's comments simply took Schroeder's own Bush bashing a step too far after making Bush's Iraq policy an issue in the election campaign. Schroeder vowed German troops wouldn't take part. In so doing, he secured just enough votes on the left to win reelection. Critics, including Schroeder's conservative challenger, Edmund Stoiber say it also damaged cross- Atlantic relations.
"I think the basis of relationships between Germany and the U.S. are so secure," he says, "these anxieties which appear in Germany during the election campaign are without foundation." Schroeder's top ministers insist they have generally good ties with their American counterparts.
OTTO SCHILY, GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER: I have met, some days ago, my friend John Ashcroft. We have very good relations.
BURNS: But relations appear frosty between the defense minister, Peter Struck, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both headed to a NATO meeting in Warsaw.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I would have to say that the way it was conducted was notably unhelpful and, as the White House indicated, has had the effect of poisoning a relationship.
PETER STRUCK, GERMAN DEFENSE SECRETARY: I will talk to my Russian colleague, to my Netherlands colleague, to many other colleagues. And I think I will also talk with Donald Rumsfeld.
BURNS (on camera): Do you think relations can be repaired?
STRUCK: Yes, yes.
BURNS (voice-over): A problematic healing, to say the least.
(on camera): President Bush himself said recently he knows how people say many things during election campaigns -- now to see how much Chancellor Schroeder really means of what he said during a hard- fought ballot battle.
Chris Burns, CNN, Berlin.
WOODRUFF: And now let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King.
All right, John, now that the Germans are trying to make some overtures, what is the reaction at the White House?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, you used the term cold shoulder earlier. I would say a freeze. Here is the official White House reaction. Let's do that first. Quote: "The voters of Germany have spoken. The United States will work with the German government on issues of common interest" -- no congratulations, not even a mention of Chancellor Schroeder by name.
Go back and look what the White House said when Jacques Chirac won reelection in France. It was very personal. It was congratulations. It was very different. White House officials say they have heard from Germany that Chancellor Schroeder wants to call the president. They say here at the White House there are no plans for such a call, no plans to arrange such a call.
We're also told by sources that last week, when the German chancellor sent a letter apologizing for those remarks allegedly comparing President Bush to Hitler, that he wanted to call then as well. And the White House staff told the German chancellor's staff the president had no interest in such a conversation. So, look for the White House to freeze out Chancellor Schroeder in the short term. They are very upset inside the White House. They think Chancellor Schroeder had too much fun, if you will, criticizing President Bush during the campaign.
In time, yes. They say this is a critical relationship. Right now, though, they say the president is not in the mood to talk to the chancellor just yet.
WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, John, we will watch some squirming, I guess.
KING: We will watch some squirming.
WOODRUFF: John, thank you.
Just ahead: Political debates come and go, but there's one issue that energizes the Republican base like none other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. It could be one of the big political issues of the fall: who gets to sit in buildings like that one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The issues driving the political headlines these days are easy to see. But beyond the traditional guns-and-butter topics, grassroots activists are following an issue that the average voter may not be paying much attention to.
Here is senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.
GREENFIELD: It is the political question of the moment: What issues will drive the fall campaign: Iraq, terror, the economy, corporate crimes?
Well, for many of the true-believers, who make up the base of the Republican and Democratic parties, those most likely to vote, to contribute their time and money, the answer may be right here in the nation's federal courthouses. For many of these partisans, the issue of who sits on the federal bench is the issue. (voice-over): Here is one of the real battlegrounds of the coming campaign. It's a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where another of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench is undergoing some tough questioning from Democrats. They hold a one- vote margin of control on the committee. Last week, New York's Chuck Schumer grilled Court of Appeals nominee Professor Michael McConnell on whether his anti-abortion views would sway his judicial conduct.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It is troubling if somebody does just basically believe that they can ignore the law.
GREENFIELD: Why is this a potential political flash point? Because two of Bush's earlier choices for the federal appeals bench, District Court Judge Charles Pickering and Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen had their nominations blocked by one-vote margins in this committee.
Both might well have been confirmed by the full Senate. And Owen won a unanimous "well-qualified" from the American Bar Association. This is the first time anyone so endorsed has been rejected by the committee. Republicans cried foul.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: In every doggone case you put up a decent conservative, they have to come in and slam the person.
GREENFIELD: Democrats told Bush to stop sending them conservative activist ideologues.
SCHUMER: It seems this administration is stacking the bench with people all out of the mainstream over on the hard right.
GREENFIELD: And besides, liberals argue, the Republicans started when this. When they controlled the Senate and when Clinton was president, 50 of his nominations never got hearings or votes. The Senate has confirmed 78 of Bush's judicial choices. And Professor McConnell will likely win approval. He has got the backing of more than 300 law school professors and deans, including many prominent liberals.
But the delays and the committee rejections have stirred the Republicans' conservative base. It's become political fodder, for example, in the tight Texas Senate race. Why, Republicans ask, didn't Democratic nominee Ron Kirk stand by Judge Owen, a fellow Texan and a choice of President Bush's?
But the real reason for all of this passion is right here: the United States Supreme Court, where three of the justices could well be retiring within the next year or two. With some of the most hot- button social issues in politics -- abortion, school prayer, right to die -- fought out here, the battle over Supreme Court nominees will engage liberals and conservatives as no other domestic issue.
(on camera): It's been nearly nine years since a president has had a chance to name a Supreme Court justice. That is the longest such period since the 1820s. And when President Clinton named his two choices, the Democrats were in firm control of the Senate. When the opposition party is in power, things can get very dicey. Just ask Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas.
Now, there's been a lot of talk about ending these partisan judicial slugfests. But given the passion that the parties' strongest followers bring to this question, don't count on it.
Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: Well, I'll be back in a moment with a foxy political statement in Britain, but now let's take a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi there, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Hi, Judy.
Locked in a room and starved for months: We'll tell you about allegations that are even shocking police in Florida. Storm threat: A major hurricane could strike the United States this week. Disaster in the air: A new home video shows the last moments of a tragic crash. And your voice is heard today when it comes to Iraq. Two men who may sign off on the president's war plans hear your comments.
Those stories, much more at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: The possibility of a war against Iraq may be causing an international stir, but what would get 400,000 Britons out on the streets for a protest? Not Saddam Hussein. Throngs of demonstrators marched in London yesterday in support of fox hunting.
Parliament is likely to vote to ban the sport in the coming months. Surveys show the majority of people in the U.K. oppose fox hunting, but not Prince Charles. He reportedly waged his own form of protest, riding a strident letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair threatening to leave Britain if fox hunting is banned. We will have to check on that to see if that's exactly what he said.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next.
We thank you for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Judy Woodruff.
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