CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Florida Battlefield and Bush Family; North Korea's Bombshell and Impact on Iraq; Army vs. Daschle, Political Terror Tactics?
Aired October 17, 2002 - 16:06 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 Tampa, Florida.
President Bush in this state today campaigning for his little brother, trying to get him re-elected, while Jeb Bush copes with a personal family crisis: His daughter, Noelle, sent to jail in handcuffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: It's hard for families that go through this, and it's made it a little bit more difficult with the notoriety that Noelle has attached to her because of her last name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill, where House majority leader Dick Armey launched a stunning attack on the Senate's top Democrat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: America sits and wonders why it is that al Qaeda, this ragtag bunch of terrorists scattered all over the globe, can reorganize themselves. I think (ph) the difference is that al Qaeda doesn't have a Senate. Al Qaeda doesn't have a Senator Daschle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us, and don't let this beautiful backdrop here in Tampa fool you. This state right now is a campaign war zone, where the Bush family political dynasty is on the line in more ways than one, and where many Democrats still are seething about the 2000 election.
President Bush making his 11th trip to Florida since taking office, at a time when his brother may need him most. The governor's Democratic rival, Bill McBride, is nipping at his heels in recent polls.
And Jeb Bush's 25-year-old daughter, Noelle, was sentenced today to 10 days in jail for violating the terms of her drug treatment program. She allegedly was found with crack cocaine in her shoe while at the treatment center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOELLE BUSH, DAUGHTER OF JEB BUSH: Judge Whitehead, I sincerely apologize for what happened, and I promise to do well at the Center for Drug-Free Living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: I caught up with Governor Bush a little earlier today at a campaign stop near here in St. Petersburg. Here's what he had to say about his daughter's situation.
WOODRUFF (on camera): Governor...
J. BUSH: Yes.
WOODRUFF: ... any comment on the sentencing of your daughter?
J. BUSH: It's sad. It's sad for my daughter. It's hard for families that go through this, and it's made it a little bit more difficult with the notoriety that Noelle has attached to her because of her last name. And I just feel bad for that, because that's kind of my doing.
But I pray every day that she remains drug free, and she has been since February. And I pray that every day, with my wife, that a light goes off inside of her, and that she realizes that she needs to make a lot better choices in her life.
WOODRUFF: Did you and Mrs. Bush discuss whether to be with her today or...
J. BUSH: It would have only made it worse, Judy. You know, I mean, there are no other drug courts in the State of Florida that have cameras in them, and if I show up, it makes it harder. She knows I love her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you do now as far as where she's going to be placed? Do you have any say in that or can you?
J. BUSH: If I do. I won't tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any other questions on any other topics?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has this complicated -- with you trying to concentrate on the campaign right now?
J. BUSH: My concerns for my daughter are long-standing; her problems are long-standing. And I live with -- like a lot of other dads, I live with this in my everyday life. It's been this way for a long while, and I -- it's not easy, but life goes on. And we need to -- I have a job to do, and I intend to do my job. I have a responsibility to do it. But that doesn't mean I don't think about my daughter every minute of every day.
WOODRUFF: May I ask you a question about Mr. McBride? He's saying today that it's wrong for you not to support expanded benefits for disabled veterans. You were here talking to this audience...
J. BUSH: Right.
WOODRUFF: ... of senior citizens, among other things...
J. BUSH: I do support concurrent receipt, if that's what he's referring to. And I hope that the conferees and the administration get together on a plan to implement concurrent receipt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: He also says...
J. BUSH: So, he's wrong about my position, but that's commonplace in an election with three weeks to go, and commonplace with his positions. He says I say a lot of things and, you know, take stands on a lot of things where he's incorrect. This is another one.
WOODRUFF: He says you're not acknowledging the reality of Florida's economic problems; that it's as if the two of you are talking about two different Floridas.
J. BUSH: And the question is, Judy?
WOODRUFF: And the question is: Is he right about that...
J. BUSH: No.
WOODRUFF: ... that you see a completely different...
J. BUSH: No. What I see -- what I see is an economy that is fragile in its recovery, but an economy that has created more jobs this year than any state in the country. When you compare where Floridians are to where other people in other states are, we're better off.
But having said that, we need to be vigilant to make sure that our economy continues to grow. Mr. McBride's advocacy of higher taxes would choke off the economic recovery that I consider to be a huge priority for working families in this state.
So, he can't have it both ways. If he's concerned about the economy, then he ought to be not advocating all of these promises that if you total them up would require billions of dollars in new taxes.
WOODRUFF: Governor Bush talking to us a little bit earlier today in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida.
Meantime, officials at the Orange County Jail say the governor's daughter, Noelle, is being held in protective custody for her own safety.
When she was sentenced today to 10 days in jail, her aunt, Dorothy Koch, stood by her side, and then watched Noelle being taken away in handcuffs.
As you just heard, the governor expressed sadness at his daughter's situation, and that is apparently enough for his Democratic opponent, Bill McBride. He told me in an interview today he does not believe that Noelle Bush's drug situation should in any way play a role in this campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GOV. CANDIDATE: Every parent worries about their kids, and I know the governor and his wife are worried about their children. So, I just hope that all works out. And I think that's -- to get that -- those things that are very personal and family involved in politics, I just don't want to do that.
WOODRUFF (on camera): So, what happened with Noelle Bush, you're saying, shouldn't be part of any discussion?
MCBRIDE: Well, the question should be not that, because I'm certain that the governor and his wife -- like I would be and my wife, because I have teenaged children -- that shouldn't be a political issue. The whole question of whether or not the state and whether we're adequately helping kids is another issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: We'll have more of my interview with Bill McBride a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.
But right now, Michelle Cottle, senior editor for "The New Republic," has a different take on whether the situation involving Noelle Bush should be involved in this campaign. Michelle Cottle joins us now.
Why isn't it a private matter, as even the governor's opponent is arguing, Michelle?
MICHELLE COTTLE, "NEW REPUBLIC": Well, when you have the daughter of a Republican politician with a party that has been so kind of zero-tolerance on drugs, it opens an opportunity to have a policy discussion about this.
Now, Jeb, to his credit, has been pretty good about this. He does not take a more draconian approach to drug policy. George W., on the other hand, has a drug czar who has been very kind of old school about this, and an attorney general who has been kind of harsh about this. So, it's not like you want to drag poor Noelle's name into this whole thing, but there should be questions, and this is an opportunity to raise the whole kind of war on drug policy issues with the Bush family, and they can't duck the issue because it is affecting them personally.
WOODRUFF: So, what are you proposing? I mean, simply that there be more questions put to the governor, or to the president, or what?
COTTLE: I think the people who look at the drug war and who make, you know, rational arguments about kind of how certain laws need to be changed, you know, like the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine and things along those lines, can take the spotlight that has fallen on Noelle and just in general on this issue with this whole kind of brouhaha down in Florida and put it to the president, at the very least.
And also, this has been a good opportunity for the governor to revisit the legislature's decision in December to cut money for drug treatment programs and the courts.
WOODRUFF: And, Michelle, if the governor is saying what he is saying, that he's taking the position that he has, you're not suggesting that Governor Bush is vulnerable on this, or are you?
COTTLE: I don't think that it's something -- I don't want to confuse horse race politics with policy issues. I think that it would be probably a bad idea for McBride to jump in here and try and make this kind of a flaw because of the Bush family problems. But for people who want to talk about drug treatment and money for drug courts and alternative sentencing and things like this, this makes it more of an option for you to engage Jeb on this issue.
And true to form, when this first happened back in January when Noelle was first arrested for trying to fake a prescription, it was right after that that Jeb came out and said, I'm going to, you know, make it a priority to restore the funding for treatment centers. Now, of course he says that's a coincidence. But when the public spotlight falls on something like this, it has to have an impact.
WOODRUFF: All right, Michelle Cottle of "The New Republic," thanks very much.
COTTLE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Appreciate you talking with us.
And coming up next, North Korea's nuclear bombshell. Will that country's admission that it has a nuclear weapons program help break the case for war with Iraq?
While we're here in Florida, we're going to flash back to Election 2000. Will the November 5 vote be a rematch in any sense that settles old scores?
"Miami Herald" humorist Dave Barry joins us to have some fun with Florida politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: A reminder that a pop quiz can be hazardous to your political health. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: The revelation that North Korea has an active nuclear weapons program has added a new angle to the debate over whether the United States should go to war with Iraq.
With me now to talk a little more about this, senior White House correspondent John King.
John, how is the administration responding to this disclosure?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy so far, deliberately, with a low-key approach. President Bush not speaking at all to this issue today. His spokesman says the president finds the news of the admission by North Korea that it is actively pursuing nuclear weapons to be troubling and sobering. But the president leaving the talk to others, and also focusing now on diplomacy.
Here at the White House, senior officials are saying no one wants a military confrontation, and no one foresees a military confrontation right now.
There is a high-level delegation in Beijing. That delegation will move on to Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow, several European capitals in the weeks ahead. President Bush meets with President Jiang Zemin next week at the ranch in Crawford, Texas. China is viewed as a key player here, because of its long-time relationship with North Korea.
U.S. officials say they are hoping to bring to bear dramatic international pressure to get the North Korean government, now that it has admitted it is breaking its 1994 promise, that it is enriching uranium and trying to develop even more nuclear weapons. It is hoping all of that pressure gets North Korea to abandon that program and let international inspectors in.
That is the administration's strategy right now. They concede this is a crisis. They say it is very different from Iraq. They say North Korea has not invited its neighbors of late, has not threatened anyone of late. They are saying it's a very difficult situation, but certainly there are political questions being raised because of the ongoing Iraq debate. WOODRUFF: John, which raises the question, the administration had this information a couple of weeks ago, before the debate in Congress about Iraq. Why wasn't this information incorporated into that? It's pretty clear the administration is seriously inclined, as you say, to use force against Iraq. How do they say the two situations are different?
KING: Well, No. 1, the administration says when it came to the conclusion last summer, when it received enough intelligence to go from suspicions to a finding that North Korea was enriching uranium for the purposes of developing more nuclear weapons -- the administration already believes North Korea has one or two predating 1994. When it came to the conclusion this was no longer a suspicion, that it believed this program actually was under way and had credible information, the administration says key members of Congress were told then. This is back last summer.
The administration says it was simply stunned when the North Koreans on October 4, 13 days ago now, admitted it. Initially on day one, October 3, the North Koreans denied it. Then a more senior official came to the meetings in Pyongyang the next day, and they said, you're right, we do have this program, and the United States is to blame.
U.S. officials say they were so caught off-guard that they did brief officials in Seoul and Tokyo on the way back to Washington, and then there were a number of high-level discussions within the administration. And over the past several days, key members of Congress have been brought into those discussions.
U.S. officials say the difference is that North Korea is not threatening its neighbors right now, and in fact, has been trying to improve relations with Japan and with South Korea. And U.S. officials say North Korea is not in violation of 16 United Nations Security Council resolutions.
So, the administration draws a clear distinction. Some don't see it was clearly as the administration does.
WOODRUFF: All right, a lot of background there, but we need that in order to understand what's going on. All right, John, thanks very much.
Well, also in Washington today, tempers flared over something very different, homeland Security, in the process of a Republican attack invoking the name of Osama bin Laden's terror network.
Let's turn now to CNN's Jon Karl.
KARL: Well, Judy, this latest attack comes from House majority leader Dick Armey who, as somebody who is retiring from politics this year, feels free to speak his mind.
REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: America sits and wonders why is it that al Qaeda, this ragtag bunch of terrorists scattered all over the globe, can reorganize themselves, to the notice of the press in the United States and across the globe, and the United States government cannot reorganize itself? I think (ph) the difference is that al Qaeda doesn't have a Senate; al Qaeda doesn't have a Senator Daschle that has other focuses. Al Qaeda has got a clear focus.
KARL (voice-over): Tom Daschle was not amused. He responded through his spokeswoman, who called Armey's comments, "highly unfortunate and inappropriate" and "completely over the top."
Senator Trent Lott smiled when asked about Armey's comments, saying that was an, Adios-I'll-see-you-later speech.
Like Armey, Republican candidate Saxby Chambliss of Georgia has invoked images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to attack the Democrats.
AD ANNOUNCER: As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead. He says he supports President Bush at every opportunity, but that's not the truth.
KARL: Chambliss has now pulled that ad, but only after airing it for a week. It's a sign of how emotional the debate over homeland security has gotten, as the bill has languished in the Senate.
Senator Daschle, for his part, accuses the Republicans of wanting a political issue more than they want a homeland security bill.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: They would rather use this as an issue to run scurrilous ads, like the one they are now running, or were running, to compare a war hero, like Max Cleland, to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. That's what's going on here. And, Mr. President, it's unconscionable. They'd rather play the nasty brand of politics than pass this bill.
KARL: Today, senators in both parties essentially declared the homeland security bill dead for the year. They're all going home, Congress, the House and the Senate, each side hoping that the other will get punished by voters for killing homeland security -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Yes. We're going to hear that from both sides from now on. All right. At least until election day.
Jon Karl, thanks very much.
And just this footnote to that, in a sign of just how quickly the Saxby Chambliss campaign in Georgia decided to change that ad, including Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, just yesterday on INSIDE POLITICS, Mr. Chambliss told my colleague, Candy Crowley, he defended the ad, and said he saw nothing wrong with it.
But obviously, later in the day, they changed their minds. My chat with humorist Dave Barry is still ahead.
Plus, Democrat Bill McBride talks about his race against incumbent Jeb Bush.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS, live today from Tampa, Florida.
The governor's race here was once expected to be a marquis match- up between the incumbent Governor Jeb Bush and former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
Well, now it's more of a David-and-Goliath story, with Democrat Bill McBride, who beat Reno, in the place of David. After defeating Reno in the primary, can McBride topple the president's brother as well? Well, it's no wonder President Bush is back here again today.
And we know that Bill McBride has some political star power behind him as well. He is scheduled to attend some soft money fund- raisers today and tomorrow in Washington and in New York. Bill Clinton will be at those, as well as former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
When I talked to Bill McBride today in Tampa before he left to fly north, I asked him about his campaign and his cash situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF (on camera): You're closing in on the polls, but the big cash advantage Governor Bush seems to have, and you need to reach a lot people before election day. How do you do that?
MCBRIDE: Well, I think we're doing fine. The Republicans generally will have more money than Democrats, but we're doing enormously well. I've got thousands of contributors, so I feel comfortable.
This election will not be decided I don't believe on who has got the most money, and I never thought that. So, we're doing fine.
WOODRUFF: What we're hearing now from Governor Bush is that you're giving specifics on education, but on a number of other subjects that he says are important to any governor of the state of Florida, whether it's taxes or crime, you're vague, in so many words. What do you say to that?
MCBRIDE: Well, the governor just talks more about me and our campaign than he does his own. So I think that's just all rhetoric. It isn't going to sell on every issue that's important to Floridians. I've been very forthright and spoken from what I believe in. And he knows that. That's just campaign stuff. And I don't think it's going to work.
WOODRUFF: So when he says you want to be elected governor just for the sake of being governor, that you haven't thought through some of these policies...
MCBRIDE: Well, I've never heard that.
Again, the governor needs to raise the level of his game and start talking about our public schools. The economy of Florida is in real trouble. And he sort of paints a different picture. In fact, it's almost like we're living in two different Floridas. Florida has got enormous problems with insurance. Our veterans aren't getting the kind of services they need.
And the differences between the governor and I are dramatic. He does not believe that class sizes are important. And parents -- my kids are in public schools. They're important. He's not in favor of helping veterans with disability and retirement pay. I don't know if you knew this, but I'm a veteran. And I know it maybe more directly and personally.
But the federal law penalizes disabled veterans. And the governor and I are on just total opposite ends. I don't think that you should have to deduct disability pay from retirement pay. He thinks otherwise. We're on the opposite ends of so many issues. He suggests the Florida economy is booming, when, in fact, the per capita income in Florida has gone down every year. People in my area are out of jobs and they're worried. They're spending down their savings.
So I think the governor and I are just basically at opposite ends of two spectrums. In fact, what I've suggested to him, which is really interesting to me -- I suggested, as you know, several times that the best way to really run this campaign would be for us to appear every day together for a couple hours in every market in every city in Florida and talk about issues.
And we could talk about whatever people wanted. He's refused to do that. He's only wanted three carefully orchestrated joint appearances. And so I think that sort of belies the fact. He needs to be more forthright with us. And the best way to handle this is for us to appear together. And, again, I let him know I would like to do that the last two weeks.
WOODRUFF: How much of the vote on November 5, Bill McBride, do you think is going to be -- of your vote is going to be people who are still angry about what happened in 2000?
MCBRIDE: Well, I have no way of predicting that.
I hope not very much, because, frankly, what this needs to be is an election on the future. But what I do want is a big turnout, I mean, from Pensacola all the way to Key West. I'm confident that, if we have a big turnout, if a lot of people go vote, that I'm going to win, because, in every survey I see, most Floridians are on the same side of issues that I am. So what I'm hoping for is a big turnout.
WOODRUFF: Talking earlier today with Bill McBride, the Democratic nominee for governor. A political pop quiz headlines today's edition of our "Campaign News Daily": Colorado Republican Senator Wayne Allard and his Democratic challenger, Tom Strickland, both stumbled yesterday over questions about world leaders and everyday expenses. The quiz came during an otherwise routine debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Can you name the leader of North Korea?
SEN. WAYNE ALLARD (R), COLORADO: I cannot.
QUESTION: His name is Kim Jong Il.
QUESTION: Mr. Strickland, can you name the supreme religious leader of Iran?
TOM STRICKLAND (D), COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE: I cannot.
QUESTION: His name is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Do you know approximately how much a gallon of basic unleaded gas costs?
STRICKLAND: It costs about right now, I would say about $1.30.
QUESTION: $1.45 to $1.50.
Senator Allard, do you know how much a basic postage stamp costs?
ALLARD: About 34 cents, 35 cents.
QUESTION: 37 cents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, they were pretty close, at least on the expenses part of the question. Senator Allard narrowly defeated Strickland six years ago. In this year's rematch, the polls are showing these two men in a virtual dead heat.
Three nations that are labeled sponsors of terrorism and three different U.S. strategies: Up next, our Jeff Greenfield considers the policy challenges posed by a nuclear and armed North Korea.
WOODRUFF: Much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS live today from Florida: humorist Dave Barry with some choice words on voting problems here in this state.
WOODRUFF: To Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is saying that North Korea may have one or two nuclear weapons, despite its promise back in 1994 to abandon its program to develop them.
North Korea has admitted that it has now an active nuclear weapons development program after being confronted with evidence by the United States. The White House says that it has begun urgent consultations designed to pressure North Korea to abandon this weapons program and to reach a peaceful solution.
Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, is here now with more on the North Korean nuclear threat.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Judy, it's almost as if you were focused on a slowly rising flood in front of you and suddenly behind you comes the muffled roar of an explosion.
With all of our focus on Iraq, today's startling news out of North Korea raises a whole series of troublesome questions about policies past, present and future.
(voice-over): Through much of the '90s, the Clinton administration and North Korea clashed over its use and possible misuse over nuclear material. The specter of military action was even raised. But when North Korea apparently agreed to play by international rules, Washington offered a carrot, agreeing to help develop peaceful nuclear power in North Korea.
Today's headlines at least suggest that the Clinton administration was hoodwinked. That's also a suggestion made by Senator John McCain in his new book, "Worth the Fighting For," that notes, pointedly, North Korea has never accounted for its missing plutonium.
GREENFIELD: But there is another dimension to this story and one that bears directly on U.S. intentions in Iraq.
If today's news reports are true, North Korea now openly admits to doing what Washington fears Iraq might do. Yet our apparent response to North Korea is simply diplomatic. Why no preemptive strike talk here? Because we can't.
(voice-over): Even without nukes, North Korea is armed to the teeth: massive, well-armed forces on or near the border. A strike against the north would almost surely mean an all-out attack on Seoul, South Korea, and a massive death toll.
But now consider what the CIA has apparently warned about Iraq: that the most likely use of its chemical and biological weaponry against U.S. forces or Israel would come only with a U.S. attack. If our hands are stayed by North Korean might, why not by Iraq's?
And there is yet one more piece to this puzzle. This one comes from the third nation described by President Bush as part of the axis of evil, Iran. In an extraordinary piece of reporting by Jeffrey Goldberg in "The New Yorker," he reminds us that Iran for years has been funding the work of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, groups that sponsor, conduct, and celebrate terrorist attacks against Israel.
And earlier this year, Iran was caught red-handed attempting to send a ship full of weapons to the Palestinians, which raises this question: If the campaign against terror is the key element in our policy, why is the hypothetical danger posed by Iraq more urgent than the clear-and-present danger posed by Iran?
GREENFIELD: Now, of course, it's possible to draw very different lessons from this recent news. The actions of North Korea might demonstrate the danger of delay, might argue the need to stop another rogue nation along the nuclear road is even more urgent.
But, at the least, what today's headlines reminds us is that, however much political leaders would love to focus on one crisis at a time, it just doesn't work that way in the real world -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And, Jeff, wouldn't it have been interesting if this information had come out a week or two ago?
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, thanks very much.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
(INTERRUPTED BY BREAKING NEWS)
WOODRUFF: Here in Florida and across the country, we are counting down to the midterm elections, less than three weeks away. Many see the governor's race here in Florida in a way as a rematch, when what you have is Jeb Bush, the incumbent governor, running against his Democratic challenger, Bill McBride, a rematch of the election contest in 2000 between Bush's brother, the president, George W. Bush, and Al Gore.
You might say Florida's recent history in conducting elections, by the way, has not been terribly successful. "Miami Herald" humor columnist Dave Barry has certainly written about it.
Right now, we wish he were in Florida with me, but he happens to be in Atlanta promoting his new book. It is titled "Tricky Business."
Dave Barry, good to see you.
DAVE BARRY, AUTHOR, "TRICKY BUSINESS": Hi.
This is weird. I was there this morning and now I'm here talking to you there. (LAUGHTER)
WOODRUFF: Well, you know, I mentioned the name of your book, but that was simply a ruse to ask you a question about Florida politics. What do you make of your governor's race?
BARRY: Well, I think you're definitely overrating the importance of it, considering that, in the end, the ballots will be counted by Florida election officials, which means that the two people you're focusing on may not actually even come in the top five, the way we count votes down in Florida. We could very well end up with Pat Buchanan as our governor.
BARRY: You're laughing. Judy, but you were laughing...
WOODRUFF: All right, just quickly, your thumbnail of Jeb Bush?
BARRY: Well, he's tall. He's very tall. I would say, of the two tall white men running for governor of Florida, he is the taller of the two.
BARRY: And Bill McBride is the wider of the two. That's how I size these guys up on my thumbnail. Neither one of them is dealing with any of the real issues. I just want to point that out.
WOODRUFF: And they are?
BARRY: Well, Canadian drivers. They come down this time every year. We need a wall right below Georgia to keep those people out. I think everybody in Florida is going to agree with me on that.
BARRY: Nobody is doing anything about mosquitoes. Ask the Floridians, "What do you care more about, education or mosquitoes?" In the end, they're going to admit it's mosquitoes.
WOODRUFF: All right, but the $64,000 question is, are they going to be able to count the ballots correctly this time? What are you thinking?
BARRY: No, absolutely not.
Florida, our official state motto is, "Florida, you can't spell it without duh." And we're not going to have a really meaningful election until we completely revamp our procedure and have a ballot that even Floridians can't mess up, which would be photographs of the candidates' faces right on the ballot. And you would poke out your candidate's eyeball. That's the way to do it in Florida.
Of course, a lot of people in Florida would poke out their own eyeball. I'm only making these jokes because I'm in Georgia at the moment.
WOODRUFF: Yes, I know. I realize you
BARRY: When I get back to Florida, I'm going to be very respectful toward my state.
WOODRUFF: Well, you did have this radical notion of putting the candidates' names on the ballot with a box next to it, where people could put an X.
Well, we had two years from the 2000 presidential election, which we humiliated ourselves in, two years for the gubernatorial primary. And we did just as bad. They're still down there counting individual electrons with tweezers, because we used computers, like computers ever made anything simpler. So I'm for paper, paper ballots. It worked for Saddam Hussein. It could work for us, don't you think?
WOODRUFF: Well, he won...
BARRY: They had no problem counting the votes, and they're Iraq.
WOODRUFF: ... 40 million to nothing.
BARRY: And I just want to say, Saddam got some votes from Palm Beach County, apparently, that were left over.
WOODRUFF: A quick question about the book: It's titled "Tricky Business." It's about a gambling cruise ship that runs into a terrible storm. And don't tell me that the only casualties are television news reporters.
BARRY: Yes, tragically, they do not do well in this book, Judy. But, otherwise, it's a very feel-good book.
WOODRUFF: Should we press you any further on that?
BARRY: Well, it's for sale also. I should stress that. And it's rectangular, for easy gift wrapping. WOODRUFF: Rectangular for easy -- all right, Dave Barry, we'd love to talk to you after we see what the results are down here on November 5. Thanks very much for talking to us.
BARRY: You won't see them on November 5, but, anyway, thanks.
WOODRUFF: Next time, we'll see you in your home state.
BARRY: OK, thanks.
WOODRUFF: Take care.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's all the time we have for INSIDE POLITICS. Signing off here live in Tampa, Florida, I'm Judy Woodruff.
Thank you for joining us.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.
Bombshell and Impact on Iraq; Army vs. Daschle, Political Terror Tactics?>