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Bush Plans to Present His Case Directly to American People; Senate Continues to Debate Along Party Lines Over Iraq Resolution

Aired October 7, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. As President Bush takes his Iraq policy to prime time, a Democrat who backs military action finds fault with how the White House is going about its war planning.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King at the White House. The president plans to mention a past crisis and invoke the memory of a former president to help bolster his case against Saddam Hussein.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. As the Senate resumes debate on Iraq, most of the disagreement can be found within one party.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. The president speaks and lawmakers debate. But what do the American people want to hear? I'll have the latest polls that shed new light on the public's priorities.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Before we focus on the president's speech later tonight, we want to bring you the latest on the legal battle in the New Jersey Senate race. The U.S. Supreme Court, today, announced that it will not hear the Republican challenge to the New Jersey court decision which allowed Frank Lautenberg to replace Bob Torricelli as the Democratic nominee.

Also today, a federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a separate GOP challenge, this one related to absentee ballots. We'll have more on today's developments and what, if any, legal options are left for Republicans a little later.

But first, we turn to the president's speech on Iraq scheduled for just a few hours from now in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Bush is expected to address not only the question why, but also, why now on the issue of disarming Saddam Hussein. A new CNN-"USA Today" Gallup poll finds Americans would support an invasion of Iraq provided U.S. casualties are limited. But, as the number of theoretical casualties climbs, public support falls dramatically.

With me now for a full preview of the president's speech, our senior White House Correspondent, John King. Hi, John. What should we expect to hear?

KING: Hello, Judy. The speech runs about 26 minutes, we are told. In the speech, the president will raise those questions that he thinks people in Congress, the American people, and fellow governments and citizens around the world might be asking. Mr. Bush, we are told, will not lay out any firm new government evidence against Iraq, but he will bring together evidence that you had not heard directly from the president before. Things like, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld spoke about last week, repeated Iraqi firing on U.S. and British war planes in the no-fly zones over the past decade.

Mr. Bush will also say that Saddam Hussein, on this day, has nerve gas, VX gas, other chemical and biological weapons that he could deliver against U.S. troops already in the region, U.S. allies and U.S. interests in the region. The president tonight, we're told, delivers, calmly, his case for acting now. He will ask the Congress to pass this week that resolution giving him the authorization to use force, if necessary, and he will call on the United Nations, as he has been in recent weeks, to pass a tough new resolution putting the threat of force on the table, if those weapons inspectors do go back into Iraq.

But, Judy, officials tell us the president wants to make the case and does so in his prepared remarks, repeatedly, that war is the last option, that he is not, as many critics suggest, in a head long rushing to military confrontation. We are told he will evoke the words of John F. Kennedy, who 40 years ago, this month, had to deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the time, President Kennedy said war was his last option, but if war was necessary, he would choose that over inaction. We're told to look for a very similar tone from the president tonight.

WOODRUFF: John, since the president is expecting -- I mean, it's pretty clear he's going to get the Congressional approval that he needs. Why then did the White House think this speech was necessary?

KING: The United Nations debate is much more in limbo than the vote in Congress, and the president wants a very strong, lopsided, overwhelming majority bipartisan vote out of the Congress. He believes that helps him make the case at the United Nations. The White House, Judy, says polling has nothing to do with this, but they're well aware of our own polling showing the American people starting to have questions about this. The White House believes the president will be on the strongest possible footing here at home, if he gets a big vote out of Congress.

That's one of the reasons for the speech tonight, and of course, the president still faces that uphill fight, although administration officials say getting better, the climate getting better up at the United Nations. White House officials say that this is the President's job. It is a key moment. Two key juries out, if you will, the Security Council and the Congress, but the president wants to frame the case one last time directly to the American people, before those big votes. WOODRUFF: All right. Thank you very much. And John will be part of CNN's live coverage of the president's speech from Cincinnati tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and the speech will be followed by a special edition of "CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT."

On Capitol Hill today, the Senate resumed debate on a resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Those deliberations continue as another of our poll questions finds the American people favor a strong role for Congress in shaping U.S. policy. Fifty-four percent say Congress should have the final say on any potential invasion of Iraq. With me now for the latest from Capitol Hill, our correspondent, Jonathan Karl -- Jon.

KARL: Hey, Judy. As the Congress goes on and begins the debate on this, continues the debate on this, one Democrat who may himself run for president issued a sharp indictment of the president's foreign policy.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Instead of demonstrating purpose without arrogance, as the president has promised in his inaugural address, the administration's policy projects exactly the opposite, arrogance without purpose. We seem determined to act alone for the sake of acting alone, which may be the easy way to achieve our short-term goals, but it will never result in the long-term security of the American people.

KARL (voice-over): But Edwards seems to be debating with himself. Even as he criticizes the White House for a go-it-alone approach, he says he'll vote to give the president authority to wage war with or without international support against Iraq. It's a position shared by many of his Democratic colleagues.

SEN. MAX CLELAND (D), GEORGIA: I believe it's imperative that we now speak with one voice to Saddam Hussein, to the entire international community and, most importantly, to service men and women.

KARL: Much of the debate on the Senate floor this week will be Democrat versus Democrat, as many of the party's leading figures plead with their colleagues to vote against the Iraq resolution.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We can deal with Iraq without resorting to this extreme. It is impossible to justify any such double standard under the international law. Might does not make right. America cannot write its own rules for the modern world. To attempt to do so would be unilateralism run amuck.

KARL: In contrast, Republicans are presenting a united front in support of the president. Even Dick Armey, one of a handful of Republicans who had been wary of war with Iraq, is now on board.

REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: In these extraordinary times, an extraordinary shift in national security is necessary. No American wants to go to war, but the president's proven leadership has shown that the conflict may be our only option to defend freedom.


KARL: And tonight, right after the president speaks, Democrat Joe Lieberman, who is a strong supporter of the Iraq resolution, will be giving his own previously scheduled speech on what to do with Iraq, after war. The basic thesis of his speech is that we need to -- the U.S. needs to be committed to rebuilding Iraq.

Judy, I can read you one line from an advanced text I have. He will say we cannot be content tearing this brutal dictatorship down. We must also build something better in its place. So that will be Joe Lieberman speaking at 8:30 tonight, which should be just as the president is wrapping up his speech.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon, thanks very much. Reporting from the Hill.

As you just heard Jon reporting, among the Democrats considering a presidential run, North Carolina Senator John Edwards has been one of the most vocal supporters of potential military action against Iraq and as you also heard earlier today, however, he did delivered a speech criticizing the president's overall approach to world affairs.

Just a short time ago, I spoke with Senator Edwards, and I started by asking, since he agrees with the president on authorizing force against Iraq, what was the point of today's speech?


EDWARDS: A couple of things. One is it was a focus not just on Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but also, dealing with the threat weapons of mass destruction. Second, making sure we win the war on terrorism. And third, making sure America takes its leadership role in promoting democracies around the world. Sort of the bigger picture over all those things was what is America's role in the world, and to what extent are we engaging with our allies, with the U.N. sending the kind of signals we need to send, over the long term, to the rest of the world about what America cares about.

WOODRUFF: Might someone, though, look at the part of your speech very critical of the president in his approach towards Iraq, and say, well, if you're that critical, why are you with the president on the resolution?

EDWARDS: First, I think the president is right, that Saddam Hussein, with biological and chemical weapons, and doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons is an enormous threat. We cannot let Saddam Hussein get nuclear weapons. He's right about that. His approach to this, though, is not right, in my judgment. Although, he's coming along.

You know, the right approach to this would be over an extended period of time, to be talking to the U.N., working with our allies, building coalitions, making sure we're engaged with people around the world, making the case to the American people, which the president will do tonight. That's a good thing.

So that they understand what we're planning to do. And last, but far from least, explaining to others and to people, here in our country, what it is we plan to do after...


WOODRUFF: ... about what to do. What do you say to those who say, Well, he stayed away from it there. It's easier for him to talk about it in Washington.

EDWARDS: I couldn't have been any clearer from the very beginning what I think about this. Being on the Intelligence Committee, seeing what Saddam Hussein is doing, it's absolutely clear to me that we have to do something about him. And I said in Iowa we have got to confront Saddam Hussein. So I have consistently said the same thing. There can't possibly be any doubt about where I stand on Saddam Hussein.

But it is really important -- and this is what I talked about today, Judy. It is really important to see how that fits in the big picture, in the message that we want to send to the rest of the world, about respecting their views, getting them involved, consulting them and that we care about the entire world, not just American interests.

WOODRUFF: Senator John Edwards, it's good to see you. We thank you very much for talking With us.


WOODRUFF: New signs that it's never too early to talk presidential politics. A little later in the show, Bill Schneider will be with us with our new poll numbers, but up next, Ron Brownstein on talk of Iraq at that weekend gathering of Democrats in Iowa.

The battle over the ballot in the New Jersey Senate race. The Supreme Court deals a blow to the Republican legal strategy.

And later today, Golden State debate between Governor Gray Davis and challenger Bill Simon.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



WOODRUFF. The police chief in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., talking about today's shooting of a 13-year-old boy, now in critical condition. He was shot as he was arriving at school this morning.

This is just the latest in a series of shootings that have shaken the Washington area and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Six people dead, all apparently, apparently connected because of bullet fragments and bullets that have been found, all seemed to be from the same weapon, a high-powered rifle or an assault weapon.

As you just heard them say, they have been able to get fragments from the boy during surgery -- of the bullet. And forensics work continues, and we should know, perhaps in an hour or so, if this shooting is connected to the others. Again, a series of incidents that have left the Washington area very much shaken up.

We'll take a short break.

INSIDE POLITICS, right after the break.


WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting, the U.S. Supreme Court today refused to be drawn into the battle over the New Jersey Senate race. The Court refused to stop democrats from placing Frank Lautenberg's name on the ballot to replace Senator Robert Torricelli who has ended his reelection bid. At the same time, another battle was being waged in a New Jersey courtroom over some absentee ballots that have already been cast.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick with us now, from Trenton. Deborah, tell us what decision did the lower court come to?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, first let me sum it up by saying the litigation is over. That is the word from the republican candidate, Doug Forrester. This comes after two devastating court losses. Here in federal court, the Republicans were this close to buying time and getting a temporary reprieve. A federal judge saying he was ready to grant of the stay of the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling. That would have meant that no new ballots would be going out with Frank Lautenberg's name on them, at least not until the Supreme Court made up its mind.

Well the Supreme Court did make up it's mind just minutes before here was supposed to announce his decision. That changed everything. The judge, Garrett Brown, said that he was going to abstain form considering the matter -- saying that the two plaintiffs -- the U.S. army doctor and a man living in Paris -- could continue their lawsuits. They would have to do so in state court.

As far as the Republicans are concerned -- both the candidate and the party saying, The litigation is over, let the campaign begin -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much.

Well Republicans today also took their battle of the New Jersey Senate race to the Federal Election Commission. The GOP is hoping to bar Senator Torricelli from giving his campaign money to the Democratic Party or to Frank Lautenberg. Torricelli's campaign has close to $5 million on hand. Alex Vogel, the general council with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, says -- quote -- "We're talking about whether the Democrats can inject millions of dollars from Torricelli's campaign into this election." But, Tovah Ravitz-Meehan, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committees, says of Republicans -- quote -- "They are filing lawsuits all over the place because they know their candidate has no ability to win this race, so they're trying to win on a technicality."

Switching subjects now. As we've been saying, President Bush putting the finishing touches on this evening's primetime address on Iraq. Mr. Bush will deliver that speech at 8:00 Eastern in Cincinnati.

With me now from Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who announced today that he is supporting giving Mr. Bush the authority to use force against Iraq.

Mr. Majority Leader, it was only a few days ago that you were sounding dead set against this. What caused the change of heart?

ARMEY: Well, actually, it was more than a few days ago. It was very early in August.

And what caused the change of heart was really information. I have had some very important briefings on the key issues. How serious is Saddam Hussein as a threat to us? How well prepared is this administration to execute a swift and decisive victory over this person? And how do we reconcile that with the history and tradition of this great country? And I've spent a lot of time studying the history of the nation and this current information about the threat, and I think we are ready for this. The time has come. We must act.

WOODRUFF: Well, what is this current information, because, as you know, there are still people out there asking the same questions that you were asking weeks ago?

ARMEY: Well, I have to tell you, I am convinced that Saddam Hussein has more resources of mass destruction than what we thought. He's acquiring additional resources at a faster rate, and has a better capability of delivering them, either by overt means, such as rocket reach to such places as Mid-Eastern military establishments in Israel, or by clandestine means, through his affiliation with several terrorist organizations.

The snake is out of his hole and I believe the president's absolutely right. We've got to go kill it, disarm it, get rid of it, remove it from a threat to the nation, to the world.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying, I mean -- and you're saying this was not information that was available to you before?

ARMEY: This is not information that I had. I didn't fully understand it. I've had some extremely important briefings, briefings I think that every member of Congress could have had, had they sought them out, as I did. I had a great cooperation from the administration in giving me the briefings. And they were given in a very professional and informative manner. WOODRUFF: Well, you met, I know, among others, Vice President Cheney took the time to talk with you. Was he a factor in your decision?

ARMEY: Well, the information I have received from the vice president was very important information. He's also a factor in the regard with which I hold he and the president, the secretary of defense.

We have people in the administration now that are not going to be careless in their planning or careless in the deployment of our young men and women from this country. They're going to respect these people, respect their families and devise a plan that can be executed with the maximum amount of safety for our young people that are in the field and ability on their part to complete the mission successfully.

WOODRUFF: What about, Mr. Armey, this whole notion of a preemptive strike? You made it very clear earlier that it was not within the character of America, historically, to make what you called an unprovoked attack. And you know, people are still raising the question, if the U.S. is prepared to do this, what's to stop India or Pakistan from attacking one another? What's to stop any other country in the world that has a feud with another country from taking first action? How have you -- have you been able to answer that question satisfactorily?

ARMEY: Yes, I have. In fact, Judy, that was my toughest hurdle to get over. And it was really interesting, because in getting over that hurdle, it's the only point of disagreement I have with the president and the administration.

I do not see this as a preemptive attack. The fact of the matter is, Saddam Hussein had agreed to a cease fire, in which he consistently and routinely violated all these 11 years, even to the point where he fires on our people who are, within the context of that agreement, patrolling the no-fly zone.

So this is not, in my estimation, the first strike that I thought about, and I know the president calls it that but I disagree with that. This is cleaning up on an agreement that the other side has never fulfilled.

WOODRUFF: And just to be clear, you believe that Saddam Hussein is capable of an attack on United States soil?

ARMEY: Yes, through clandestine means. But also, Judy, I probably more than anybody I know, have made the point, and I make it very firmly in my mind. An attack on Israel is an attack on the United States. We must defend Israel; we must stand with Israel. And indeed, I think his immediate and present threat to Israel is irrefutable.

WOODRUFF: Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader, today announcing he's with the president on this resolution to use force against Iraq. Thanks very much.

ARMEY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. Appreciate it.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, our Bill Schneider with us with a look at today's new poll numbers.


WOODRUFF: Up next, the political sparks fly as Gray Davis and Bill Simon share the stage in Los Angeles.


GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: You're being sued by the Bush Justice Department for defrauding the Post Office. You're being investigated by the IRS for your off-shore cap shelters in the Cayman Islands which they say are an abuse, and an evasion of taxes. And you're papers place game in New Jersey was cited and fined five times by securities regulators. So you're not in position to question anyone's ethics.

BILL SIMON (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Your remarks about these investigations is totally false and misleading in every regard. And I just to go on record and say that. And all your television ads that you ran this summer, when you chose to attack me personally, as opposed to talking about your own record, the reason is because you don't have a record to run on.


WOODRUFF: Highlights from what could be the only debate for California Governor, when we return.


WOODRUFF: More now on those poll numbers we've been telling you about for many minutes now. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider's with me.

All right, Bill, what do these numbers tell us about the audience that the president's going to be addressing?

SCHNEIDER: I describe it with one word: anxiety. People are anxious over the war, and they're even more anxious about the economy.

Confidence in the economy is deteriorating. Nearly three- quarters of Americans say the nation's economy is only fair or poor. Almost 60 percent say it's getting worse. Most Americans now say the country is back in a recession, just like last winter.

You know, economists are debating whether the country is in a double-dip recession twice in one year. Well, to the American public, there is no debate. We are.

WOODRUFF: Well, and that's despite all the coverage of Iraq, speaking of which, what are people saying about Iraq? SCHNEIDER: Anxiety there, too. Ever since Labor Day, you know, the White House has been in a full court press on Iraq. Now, have they succeeded in rallying public support? The answer is no.

Around Labor Day, 58 percent of Americans said they favored invading Iraq. A month later, support is at 53 percent. The public sentiment is moving in the wrong direction, in the White House point of view. The war is losing support. And that may be why the president is speaking tonight.

WOODRUFF: So with all this anxiety, is this affecting the mid- term elections?

SCHNEIDER: Big surprise here: no, it isn't. Neither party has gained an advantage. The nationwide congressional vote is still tied.

Now, conventional wisdom says that if the economy becomes more important, it'll help Democrats. Well, the economy has become more important, so where's the pay-off for Democrats?

Let's take a look at people who, in our polls, say the top issue for them is the economy. Which party will handle it better, in their view? Answer: Democrats, but only by five points. And that's within the margin of error.

Democrats may be paying a penalty for not being able to get their message out on the economy.

Conventional wisdom also says that if the Republicans can keep the focus on Iraq, they win. OK.

Let's take a look at people who say Iraq will drive their vote. Which party do they think will handle Iraq better? Answer: Democrats. Yes, Democrats! By just six points, to be sure, again within the margin of error. Most people who cite Iraq as the top issue say they oppose sending U.S. ground troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The talk about Iraq is creating war anxiety, and that is not helping Republicans.

The conventional wisdom about this election: Iraq pays off for Republicans, the economy helps Democrats, is just wrong. Neither party owns either issue.

WOODRUFF: That last set of numbers is particularly interesting.


WOODRUFF: Surprising.

SCHNEIDER: Big surprise.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill, thanks very much.

Just ahead, the California Governor's race. Plus the 2002 Democrats in Iowa. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," Democrat Frank Lautenberg already has jumped out to a slim lead over Republican Doug Forrester in the contentious New Jersey Senate race. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gives Lautenberg a 4 point lead among likely voters. Fifty-four percent of those polled say the way Lautenberg was placed on the ballot was unfair, but only 30 percent said the switch would cause them not to vote for Lautenberg.

In Los Angeles, Governor Gray Davis of California and GOP challenger Bill Simon -- last hour wrapped up their only scheduled debate of the campaign. The two men tangled over issues from education to the environment. But one of their sharpest exchanges centered on the question of ethics.


DAVIS: He made promises in private that he would try and rollback gun legislation. Now he's trying to waffle on that.

SIMON: Sometimes Mr. Davis has trouble with the truth. And I think there's no reason to believe that he would sign a bill in the future unless it suited his political interest.


Meanwhile, back in Iowa, over the weekend, three likely 2004 Democratic presidential candidates aired their differences over President Bush's policy on Iraq.

Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, whom you saw here a little earlier, and Vermont Governor Howard Dean gave their views on the issue at a Democratic party fund raiser.

Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" was at the annual Jefferson Jackson Day dinner. All right, Ron, how important was it for these three to be at this event in Iowa?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think it was a pretty telling event, surprisingly so. As Bill Schneider pointed out a few minutes ago, you still have a majority of the public supporting the use of force in Iraq.

Now, support among Democratic partisans has been more tenuous than that, and what was clear at this dinner was that in Iowa, it is significantly less than a majority supporting. In fact, I think among the activists at this dinner, the overwhelming sentiment was dovish; it was skeptical of the use of force.

I mean, traditionally Iowa Democrats, who go all the way back to the nuclear freeze movement, have been open to anti-war candidates, to peace candidates, and it was clear there's a hurdle here for these Democrats in Iowa who are supporting President Bush on the war. WOODRUFF: Well, specifically, when I talked to John Edwards a little earlier on the program, he said, no, no politics involved, it's very natural I would have said what I said there and what I said here.

BROWNSTEIN: No, John Edwards gave a very comprehensive and provocative speech today. But Saturday night was not a Profile in Courage moment for him in Iowa.

Listen to what he said today: "My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."

Saying that in Iowa before that very dovish audience, he said, "It is right in my judgment to stand up to Saddam Hussein." A sentiment that could have been expressed by anyone from Paul Welstar (ph) to Paul Wolfowitz, and he immediately moved from that to, "But it is wrong, in the name of war, to retreat on civil liberties and civil rights."

So he, I think, fairly did duck the confrontation. John Kerry was very critical, Howard Dean was very critical. But Edwards, to I think a significant extent, did not directly confront an audience that would have been skeptical of his view.

WOODRUFF: What does that -- does he pay a price for that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think he pays a price in the sense of how he's perceived at the national level. There are going to be questions for him in Iowa. Look, it's a long way away from the Iowa Caucus. It's not clear whether this will be a voting issue.

But what was clear Saturday, I think, was that there is an audience out there for a more critical voice than has been generally heard in the Democratic party. And it could help people attract organizers and support.

For example, there were several people I talked to, going in, were effusive in their praise of Al Gore for his speech, which got very mixed reviews on the national level. So it really is a reflection of the cross pressures on these Democratic candidates.

To some extent, they have an audience in the primary in Iowa, may be an extreme example, but it's more skeptical than the country about doing this. And to balance their desire to remain viable in the general election against the need to appeal to those activists in the primaries.

WOODRUFF: Would something like this help a Howard Dean, who is still not taken all that seriously as a potential serious candidate? But he's very serious. And in Iowa, his views are well received.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I think it does help him, and he certainly is a long shot candidate by any means, but he does have an audience and there is an audience for his more overt skepticism about this.

John Kerry was very critical, also, but he never said he wouldn't vote against the resolution when it came up this week. I think if he does vote for the resolution, and as some people who were at the dinner say tonight, wondering where that came from. Because he indicated no reasons to support Bush. All he highlighted -- much like, to some extent, a variation on Edwards -- all he highlighted was his criticism of the president, not the possibility that he could end up supporting the use of force.

WOODRUFF: I wonder if sometimes these candidates know national reporters are covering them...


WOODRUFF: ... when they go out into the Hinterlands. Not that Iowa's the Hinterlands.


WOODRUFF: OK. Ron, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Now a quick follow up on the Iowa Senate race. Prosecutor today announced that -- this is the Senate race in Iowa. Prosecutors announced today that they would not file charges against anyone involved in the taping of a strategy meeting that was held last month by Republican Greg Gansky.

Two members of incumbent Democrat Tom Harking staff -- including his campaign manager -- resigned over the incident. Senator Harkin has denied any knowledge of the taping. Congressman Gansky and the state GOP had demanded a criminal investigation.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Today marks a major milestone for a world leader. Coming up: a new song touts Vladimir Putin as sex symbol as the Russian president celebrates his 50th birthday. The story, just ahead.


WOODRUFF: We're going to take you back now to Prince George's County, Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, where you see the Police Chief, Gerald Wilson, talking to reporters about that shooting this morning of a 13-year-old boy.


WOODRUFF: We are listening to an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, based in Baltimore. He's just standing -- standing behind him the Prince George's County Police Chief.

Today, they are confirming that this shooting this morning of a 13-year-old boy in Prince George's County is connected to the six other shootings in the Washington area over the last few days, meaning now that seven individuals have been shot, six of them killed, as a result of, apparently, a sniper wielding a high-powered rifle or a high-powered assault weapon of some kind.

We are monitoring this story that has left the Washington area very much shaken up, particularly with the shooting this morning of this young boy, 13 years old, as an aunt was dropping him off for school here in the Washington suburbs in Prince George's County, Maryland.

That's it for our coverage for right now. I'm Judy Woodruff. I'm going to turn it over to "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."


People; Senate Continues to Debate Along Party Lines Over Iraq Resolution>

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