CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Democrats Pull Together to Take Aim Against Republicans; Bush Campaigns Hard for One Last Republican Vote
Aired December 3, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Bill Clinton takes the stage, hoping to give Democrats direction.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I still believe ideas and results matter when people can hear evidence over ideology.
ANNOUNCER: Senator John Kerry takes aim at Bush economic policy, hoping to pave his way to the White House.
President Bush takes up the Republican fight for one more seat in the Senate.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the good of everybody in Louisiana, Suzie Terrell needs to be the next United States senator.
ANNOUNCER: The American Civil Liberties Union takes on the attorney general and makes strange bedfellows along the way.
COMMERCIAL NARRATOR: John Ashcroft is supposed to defend the constitution. Not rewrite it.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us.
The United Nations says so far, so good after an early test of its powers to hunt for weapons in Iraq anytime, anywhere.
In this news cycle, U.N. inspectors made their first unannounced visit to one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. They demanded to get in and they did. But President Bush warns the critical test will be whether Iraq disarms.
Baghdad says it will officially report it does not have weapons of mass destruction on Saturday. That's a day earlier than the U.N. deadline.
Also today, Saudi Arabia says allegations that it indirectly helped to fund terrorists amounts to "bash the Saudis time." But a top official announced that Saudi Arabia has set up a new commission to oversee charities and to prevent them from funneling cash to terror groups.
More on those stories later.
But first, the past and future of the Democratic party. Both former president Bill Clinton and would-be president John Kerry offered their visions today. Clinton told the Democratic Leadership Council that the party needs to be tougher and more disciplined in its message, particularly during wartime when going up against a popular president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The agents of change lose when there's no dialogue. When people are screaming at each other and they're mad and they're scared, we lose. When people are talking and listening and thinking, we win.
When people feel uncertain, they'd rather have somebody that's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is with us now. Bill, who was Bill Clinton talking about?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: President Bush was strong and wrong. The Democrats were weak and right.
You know, when people are insecure, Clinton said, strong and wrong beats weak and right. That's what happened in the election last month. Clinton believes Democrats made a big mistake by assuming they could take national security off the table by saying, OK, Mr. President, you can have your way on national security. Now let's talk about our agenda: the economy.
Clinton called on Democrats to rally around their own positive agenda for national security, like an energy independence policy, and the use of force, if necessary. Otherwise, the Democrats sound like wimps, and they lose. Clinton said Democrats should stand up to Bush on the tax cut as well. He called it -- quote -- "too little stimulus in the short one run, too little responsibility in the long run."
WOODRUFF: But these were things, Bill, that the Democrats could have been talking about before the election but most of them weren't.
SCHNEIDER: Sure. They were afraid to. A lot of them were running in Bush states and did not want to be called tax lovers. The more interesting question is why didn't Clinton say this to Democrats a month before the election? Instead of a month after. And the reason is, nobody asked him. Democrats were afraid to be seen listening to Bill Clinton.
Now, we're beginning to see Democrats rallying around the themes they should have rallied around in October. They're calling for changes in the tax cut. They're talking about the growing healthcare crisis. They're even criticizing President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism.
WOODRUFF: And John Kerry, wasn't he talking about some of these very same things today?
SCHNEIDER: Sure. Criticism of the Bush tax cut is now becoming a major theme for Democrats in 2004. Senator Kerry defended President Clinton's economic record, but without mentioning the name Clinton.
Quote, "Under the leadership of a Democratic president," he said -- "We had the courage to tackle the budget deficit and get the nation's fiscal house in order. We balanced the budget, created a surplus and started paying down the debt."
But Kerry did mention another name, John McCain, a Republican. In a speech about the economy, Kerry echoed McCain's 2000 campaign theme and he managed to work in references to his own military record. Quote: "It's time we joined together in our country, all of us as citizen soldiers committed to a cause greater than ourselves to make certain in deeds, not words, that we have an economy where no American is left behind."
No American left behind. Where have we heard that before? That's President Bush. You know when you echo John McCain and George Bush, you sound strong. Even if you're a Democrat.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider. Thanks very much.
WOODRUFF: Well, Bill Clinton gave his speech today at New York University. CNN's Maria Hinojosa talked to some students who were there to hear him.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.
Well, President -- former President Bill Clinton spoke about what went wrong in the last midterm elections and where he thinks the party needs to go. And what he said was what went wrong in the last elections was that the Democratic party message was not strong enough. It was not heard enough and that the Democrats didn't support each other enough.
But for the NYU students who were gathered here, some lessons -- important lessons, they said, about the future that Mr. Clinton says they have to learn about what matters in politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ideas are what drive elections in politics is one that I think I'll take with me out of here and hopefully, you know, in the future, keep that in mind. That money is not the answer in politics anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think one of the topics he missed or that he could have talked a little bit more about was the balance that we have to strike between marginalizing people here and our interests in protecting our own security.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm more left than even Clinton is, but I do feel that we can use the message and the tenor of his message to really form something that is unique and can work towards our goals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HINOJOSA: Now, interestingly, Judy, a lot of the students said that they -- those who attended say that they are committed to the Democratic party. And the message from the -- the last message from the former president, he said -- quote -- "Well, so we lost an election. Big deal. Take a deep breath, rare back and go on."
Appropriate, I suppose, for young students who have no choice but to rare back and go on -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Maria -- Maria, it sounds like these students were saying also that they haven't been hearing this kind of thing from the other Democrats who have been out there.
HINOJOSA: That is what they are saying. In fact, as Bill Schneider said, the question was how come Bill Clinton hadn't been asked to speak about this before. How come he's saying this after the elections?
And some of them also talking about the fact that they're concerned about the fact that the party is moving too much to the right and that they worry that some of their fellow students might be then dumping the Democratic party and going for the Green -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Maria Hinojosa. Thanks very much.
Now, we turn to Louisiana, four days before the Senate runoff there. A new poll shows Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu neck and neck with Republican challenger Suzanne Terrell. Now, that was welcome news for President Bush, as he stumped for Terrell today.
Our White House correspondent John King is traveling with the president.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This December campaigning one more chance for the president to put his popularity to the test in the one Senate race not settled back in November. State Elections Commissioner Suzie Terrell is the Republican candidate in the runoff here, and most late polls show the Democratic incumbent, Mary Landrieu, running slightly ahead.
SUZIE TERRELL (R-LA), SENATE CANDIDATE: I know you want a senator who will bend your ear about what's important to Louisiana and you know I will. But I will also stand with you to move our country forward. I will not be a roadblock to your leadership. KING: The president carried Louisiana two years ago and is even more popular now and Landrieu knows it. The Democratic incumbent often making the point that she votes with the Republican president most of the time.
But the president made an enthusiastic pitch for Terrell at his two stops here, saying she would better represent the state and be more loyal to him in the coming debates over judicial nominees, energy legislation and the coming fight over whether to make the big 10-year Bush tax cut permanent.
BUSH: Now, in order to make sure our economy is strong and vibrant, we better make sure that tax cuts are permanent. And there's one person in this Senate race who is willing to stand up and say she will join the president in listening to the people and making tax cuts permanent and that is Suzie Terrell.
KING: From Shreveport, it was on to New Orleans for a fund raiding luncheon that will raise $1.25 million to help pay for TV ads in the final days. Republicans will have a majority in the Senate regardless of what happens here, but Mr. Bush made clear he thinks 52 votes is far preferable to 51.
BUSH: Grab people by the wrist and say you owe it to Louisiana to vote for Suzie Terrell for the United States Senate.
KING (on camera): The election is this Saturday. And one big question is whether a weekend election in December will draw a big turnout. The White House is well aware of the president's aggressive campaigning in late October and early November is credited with turning the tide in a number of races. The president clearly hoping his visit here generates a big Republican turnout and delivers one more surprise in this year's midterm elections.
John King, CNN, Shreveport, Louisiana.
WOODRUFF: And there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. John Kerry has told us he's moving toward a presidential race two years before the next election. That timing tells us a lot about how the political times have changed.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember when the ACLU was bashed as a bastion of liberals? Now it's the darling of some top conservatives.
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, it's going to be more expensive than ever to own property in New York city. We'll zero in on the controversial tax hike hitting the Big Apple.
Up next, President Bush versus Saddam Hussein. The rhetoric and the realities on the ground in Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Is Saudi Arabia tough enough on terrorists? A top Saudi official fires back at his government's many critics. The story just ahead.
Plus, did you make money on the markets today? We'll go live to Wall Street for a check of your money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: In the name of security, not only for America and the American people in the name of security for our friends in the neighborhood, in the name of freedom, will this man disarm? The choice is his. And if he does not disarm, the United States of America will lead a coalition and disarm him in the name of peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, as you just heard, President Bush used that Louisiana campaign appearance today to once again pledge U.S. military action if Saddam Hussein does not disarm. In Baghdad, meantime, U.N. weapons inspectors made an unannounced visit to one of Saddam Hussein's many presidential palaces.
CNN's Nic Robertson explains what happened when the inspectors arrived.
NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTL. CORRESPONDENT: The inspectors approaching that presidential palace from two directions, the front door and the back door. When they got there, it took the Iraqi guards about five minutes talking on their walkie-talkies to get through and get permission for the inspectors to go in. They disappeared into that site.
It had a large presidential place building, some apartment buildings there. They were only on site for about two hours before they left. Interesting as well that all the weapons inspectors, the first time we've seen all of them go to one site at one time. That was a nuclear expert, chemical, biological and missile expert. Now, the inspectors have said that they were able to look in every room, look in every corner of every room in the presidential palace.
When journalists were taken in, they were shown an ornate building, marble floors, chandeliers hanging. Very difficult to make an analysis of what the inspectors were looking for. No evident signed of industrial process or documents lying around.
Interestingly as well today, a declaration from an Iraqi official that they would make their declaration of all their weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations, would make it a day early, on Saturday, the 7th of December, a day earlier than Sunday the 8th when it's due. Also saying there would be new elements in the declaration, pointing out they may not contain any information about weapons of mass destruction. The same official saying that as everyone knows, Iraq does not have any weapons of mass destruction.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.
WOODRUFF: Back in the United States, call it Iraqi home improvement. Workers are fixing the badly damaged Iraqi ambassador's residence here in Washington. The building has been vacant since Iraqi diplomats fled the U.S. during the Gulf War, and it's fallen into disrepair. The State Department is paying for the repairs with money from long-frozen bank accounts. The story, first reported in the "Washington Post," raised speculation that the building is being fixed up for a future friendly Iraqi ambassador. But the State Department says it's responsible for keeping such buildings in good shape.
Saudi Arabian officials have released a report documenting efforts to prevent Saudi charitable donations from landing in the hands of terrorists. It follows claims from some U.S. lawmakers that two September 11 hijackers received charity money originally donated by a Saudi princess. Among the actions the Saudi government says it's taking. Financial audits of Saudi charitable groups. New charitable guidelines and financial control mechanisms. Plus all overseas donations must now be reported to the foreign minister.
Mean time here in Washington, a top adviser to the Saudi crown prince says his country has been blamed unfairly for not doing enough to help prevent terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: We believe that our country has been unfairly maligned. We believe that we have been subjected to criticism that we do not deserve. We believe that people have been misinformed about Saudi Arabia and what Saudi Arabia has done. Or frankly that people have lied about what we've done or what we allegedly have not done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Adel al-Jubeir went on to say his government has found no direct link between Saudi charities and terror groups. He said the entire world, not Saudi Arabia, bears responsibility for the September 11 attacks.
When Bill Clinton speaks, Democrats listen. We'll dissect the former president's speech with our guests from the left and right.
Plus, it's been a while since a hair cut made political headlines. Coming up, the controversy over John Kerry's hair-do.
First, it's been minutes since the bell rang on Wall Street. Let's go live to the New York Stock Exchange where Rhonda Schaffler is keeping an eye on your money. Rhonda, where do things stand right now?
RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN NEW YOUR STOCK EXCHANGE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.
You know, it's a weak day overall. And it was weak in particular for AOL-Time Warner, which is the parent company of this network. Some news from AOL-Time Warner, the company saying it's going to focus on promoting high speed Internet service to help get the America Online unit back in line.
It also plans to start offering access to popular websites to "People" magazine and Warner Brothers Music only to AOL subscribers. It's also looking to offer premium features for an added fee, much like cable TV. The news though did not help shares of AOL, because the company also announced its America Online revenue numbers would being weaker 2003. AOL shares down about 14 percent.
Judy, it was one of the more actively traded stocks here.
WOODRUFF: So Rhonda, what were people saying about this AOL news?
SCHAFFLER: Well, the problem for AOL in particular is that basically, it is in a situation here where it needs to show that there is going to be improvement on the online side of things. And investors, as we have seen before, don't have a lot of patience in general for companies. They want to hear good, positive news. There was a comment that things would be a transition year. And so that provided some frustration for AOL investors, at least for today. We should point out, though, that there was broad-based selling overall on Wall Street here. The Dow Jones Industrial average posting a triple digit loss. The Nasdaq, also losing ground -- Judy.
That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including discussion of todays speeches by former President Clinton and Senator John Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: So we lost a couple of elections. Big deal. Compared to the sacrifices others have made to be agents of constructive change, so what? So I say take a deep breath, decide what you believe, rare back and go on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: With us now, former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and Mindy Tucker, communications director for the Republican National Committee.
Joe Lockhart, you still talk to Bill Clinton. What was he trying to do with the speech? He talked about the economy, he talked about foreign policy. At one point he said it's better to be strong, better to be weak...
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECY.: Strong and wrong. Strong wrong.
WOODRUFF: Strong and wrong than weak and right.
LOCKHART: I think he's trying to do a couple things. One was the last sound bite that started the segment, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just give a shot in the arm.
The election sometimes can have self-fulfilling prophecy, which is we didn't lose by a lot. This was a very close election, but we did lose. We have to keep it in perspective.
The second and much more important thing is trying to lay out a road map for how we move back to victory. And I think the important point -- I think Democrats had coalesced around the idea that we didn't do a good job drawing contrasts on the economy offering an alternative. I think we have better ideas on the economy.
What we hadn't heard before and is crucial is that we can't see national security. There are a whole bunch of ideas where Democrats have taken the lead on, but politically, we didn't stand up and make the argument that our ideas are stronger than the Republicans or the president's ideas. And we can't win elections with that formula.
WOODRUFF: Mindy, you wouldn't agree the Democrats made a mistake by not taking the president -- by not at least trying to appear strong before the elections, the midterm elections.
MINDY TUCKER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: The problem and the lesson they still haven't learned is America wanted to know what their ideas were. America wanted to know what the Democrat agenda was and they don't have a strong leader that is able to go out, bring everybody together and iterate that.
What we're seeing today is people are listening and paying attention to Clinton. He, unfortunately for them, is all they've got. He's the only person that stop will stop in the Democratic party listen to.
WOODRUFF: But isn't that always the way it is when a party's out of power? You've got all those people who are out there thinking about running.
TUCKER: It's the fact, whether it's always that way or not, it's the fact and it's what they're facing going into a presidential cycle where many of their members are going to want to run for president and they're all going to be fighting with each other and arguing over ideas. It's going to be very difficult for them to coalesce around a few important ideas to be able to strongly advocate for their party.
LOCKHART: I don't think it's a lack of leadership. It was a strategic error. Let me give you a couple of examples on national security. It was the Democrats' idea to have a Department of Homeland Security. The Bush administration resisted that for nine months. It was the Democrats idea that it was important to go to the U.N. and get to U.N. to build a coalition as far as Iraq. Bush resisted that, but after a lot of debate her in Washington and a lot of criticism, he moved to the right decision, he should get credit. But let's remember where he get it.
I think a third and really important, we need to understand how 9/11 happened. It was the Democrats, with some Republican help, who pushed forward this idea of doing an independent commission and for 14 months, the Bush administration did everything they could to stop that. That's a pretty strong message. We should have used that. But the past is the past. It's how we're going to go forward into the future.
TUCKER: This is where the Democrats are talking about tax cuts are their ideas. What's important, one important lesson we all learned from the election, I hope, is that they want people to work together. They want Democrats and Republicans to come together, behind good ideas. Many of which have happened. A lot of which have happened since the election.
I think people are starting to learn that this idea that you can go out and criticize the president on a daily basis just because he's in the other party is not going to fly. We saw John Kerry do it this week. I don't think it's going to fly with the American people. They want people to come in here and take the important issues and work together.
WOODRUFF: Let me have you both listen just briefly to something else President Clinton said. This is about Tom Daschle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: What was done to Tom Daschle was unconscionable, but our refusal to stand up and defend him in a disciplined way was worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: He's coming to Tom Daschle's defense. He's right about that. Nobody else really stood up.
LOCKHART: I think there's been -- I think the president made, the former president made the very important point that you've got to have dialogue and the agents of constructive change are always at a little bit of a disadvantage. That's where the Democrats are now.
But let's look at Daschle. The fact is that the president of the United States, after promising to come and change the tone here in Washington, according to the "Washington Post" and the "Wall Street Journal," personally authorized an attack.
He said go out and use everything you can to attack Tom Daschle's character. We had an ad out in South Dakota that compared him to John Walker Lindh and Saddam Hussein. How does that change the tone? But you know what? We didn't come to his defense. And so these things worked.
WOODRUFF: We meaning other Democrats?
LOCKHART: We meaning other Democrats. And the former president's absolutely right.
TUCKER: I think it's important to remember two things. One, he was the majority leader and two, he had the opportunity to be a real leader and to say, There are certain issues which I differ with this president on, but on the others, I'm going to come together and work with him.
He didn't do that. He chose to oppose him at every turn, solely based on politics. And the American people saw right through it. He had the opportunity to lead. He had the opportunity for people to come to his aid and he squandered it.
LOCKHART: I would dispute that. Homeland Security came from the Democrats, from Joe Lieberman and Tom Daschle. The president resisted that, as one example.
LOCKHART: But I'll tell you one thing, this president has never stood up and said it was wrong. It goes to I think a flaw in his character, which is to compare the Democratic leader in the Senate to John Walker Lindh and Saddam Hussein and just say that's part of the normal back and forth in politics is wrong. And that's what the public will reject, once we get out there and make the argument.
WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. Mindy Tucker, Joe Lockhart, thank you both. President Clinton back out in the public arena.
You may want to get out your calendars, because up next, Jeff Greenfield will preview the 2004 primary schedule that has White House hopefuls scrambling right now.
WOODRUFF: It's still 2002 but it's never too early to talk about the 2004 elections. Or is it? Our Jeff Greenfield has some thoughts.
Also ahead: how the September 11 attacks may have benefited the ACLU.
INSIDE POLITICS is back in two minutes.
WOODRUFF: John Kerry takes President Bush to task over the economy. Is it an early shot in the 2004 run for the White House? The story in a moment.
WOODRUFF: Well, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry is launching a major fund-raising swing to key states. The senator reportedly will visit Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California in coming days, after his big economic speech today in Cleveland.
Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" has been listening very closely to John Kerry.
Ron, first of all, John Kerry, clearly saying, "I'm not a tax- and-spender," but he very much wants to roll back some of the top part -- key part of President Bush's tax cut plan.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The intriguing part of the speech today, Judy, was that he was doing two things at once.
He was aggressively going after the Bush tax cut, but also, as you say, trying to position himself in the center while doing it. Kerry probably went further than any of the other leading Democrats in talking about rolling back the Bush tax cut. He didn't get into specifics in the speech, but his spokesman said he's talking about freezing the top three rates where they are now, rather than going through the cuts in 2004 and 2006.
WOODRUFF: The highest income levels.
BROWNSTEIN: The highest income levels, the top three brackets.
But, at the same time, what he wants to do with the money is largely put it into short-term tax cuts to stimulate the economy. In terms of his immediate economic stimulus plan, he's talking about things like a payroll tax holiday, capital gains tax break, a job creation tax credit, expanding the earned income tax credit, very little new spending in the short run, a little more in the long run.
So it seems that what he's trying to say is that he can both be aggressive in drawing a line of contrast with Bush, but also still try to portray himself in the center of the Democratic field.
WOODRUFF: But how do you make something like this -- and, obviously, people are intelligent. They can get something like this. But how do you go out and talk about, well, on the one hand this and on the other hand that, and really have people identify with it?
BROWNSTEIN: This is really at the heart of the challenge for the Democrats, because the Republicans are going to say that any effort to freeze the further elements of the Bush tax cut schedule for 2004 and 2006 is a tax increase. And yet, the Democrats...
WOODRUFF: And the Bush people are going to characterize it that way.
BROWNSTEIN: That's what Republicans are doing. It's what the White House was doing today. And yet Democrats really can't develop an alternative economics without making that challenge. So, they have to be able to make the case to the public that not going through with a future tax cut is not the same as a tax increase.
Judy, Kerry's speech today gives you, I believe, five Democrats -- Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Howard Dean and John Kerry -- all saying they want to, in some ways, roll back future elements of the Bush tax cut. It virtually guarantees that this will be a central point of division in 2004.
WOODRUFF: Well, what about the rest of what he's talking about? You mentioned expanding the earned income tax credit, raising the minimum wage. Extending unemployment benefits, he talked about this once again, saying the Bush administration was happy to have Congress in town to pass terrorism insurance, which benefits some insurance companies, but they weren't willing to extend unemployment benefits.
BROWNSTEIN: To me, it was striking.
The biggest-ticket item in this speech today for the near term is another tax cut. He's talking about rolling back the Bush rate cuts, but having a payroll tax holiday. The first $10,000 in earnings for workers would not be taxed for Social Security and Medicare taxes. You would get a credit back to offset that for $765. That would cost a lot of money.
Now, by contrast, someone like Dick Gephardt, when he put out his stimulus plan in October, the emphasis was more on new spending, to states, or for infrastructure, for building schools. Kerry, in the short run, is talking about tax cuts. Now, on the longer term, he's talking about a lot of federal dollars going into scientific research for alternative energy, medical research, and even defense against bioterrorism.
But, in the near term, his emphasis is tax cuts.
WOODRUFF: So, where does this leave John Kerry on the political spectrum?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's kind of intriguing, as I said, because he is at the outer end of Democrats in terms of confronting Bush over the tax cut.
But, in terms of what he wants to do with it, he's taking a relatively centrist position. In fact, in the speech, he talks quite a bit about trying to take a hard look at wasteful spending. So he's very clearly trying to defend himself in advance from Republican charges that this is a return to tax-and-spend economics.
WOODRUFF: But that's what they're going to say.
BROWNSTEIN: And that is what they're going to say. And that's the argument Democrats are going to have to carry, because, as I said, virtually any nominee is going to have to make a challenge to Bush's tax cut. And they are going to have to be able to win or at least defend that argument.
WOODRUFF: Once they do, they're almost trapped.
All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.
Well, Kerry's moves toward a run for the White House prompted our Jeff Greenfield to take another look at the political calendar.
GREENFIELD: Hi. Yes.
WOODRUFF: Get that calendar out.
GREENFIELD: Well, here's what the old and new calendars tell us, I think.
As you know, Senator John Kerry told us Sunday he's taking that first step toward a presidential run. Now, he told us this 23 months before the next presidential election. In the coming weeks, we're likely to hear from Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, maybe Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle, about their plans. Vermont Governor Howard Dean has already told us, yes, he's running.
Now, once upon a time, this would have been an indecently early time to throw one's hat in the ring. But times have changed.
(voice-over): Dwight Eisenhower announced that he'd run in June of 1952, months after he'd finished first in the New Hampshire primary. Back then, the primaries were few and far between. It was the party leadership, the so-called bosses, who controlled most of the delegates. That was still true in 1968.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON: We need a new team in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: Republican Richard Nixon declared in February of that election year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: ... for the presidency of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: And Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy didn't jump into the race until after Eugene McCarthy had racked up a big showing in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.
Things began to change when anti-war candidate, Senator George McGovern, a long shot, announced in January of 1971 and used the expanding primary system as his road to the Democratic nomination. Jimmy Carter followed that same route in 1976. He actually announced in late 1974. And Ronald Reagan, who almost took the nomination away from Gerald Ford in 1976, never really stopped running at all, although he didn't announce formally for the 1980 prize until November, 1979.
In recent years, the calendar has pushed candidates into ever- earlier declarations. A generation ago, the primaries didn't start until mid-March. In 2000, most of the significant primaries were over by then. And in 2004, Democrats have front-loaded the process even further.
GREENFIELD: So, it makes sense for the candidates to leave the starting gate earlier and earlier. The question is: Does it make sense for the process, for the country?
Most normal people -- let's put aside the politically obsessed among us -- don't really start thinking about presidential politics two years before the next election. And with the calendar forcing early selection of the nominees, it subjects the populace to an eight- month general election campaign.
When you start asking why turnout keeps trending down, one reason may be that, by Election Day, the most popular rallying cry for voters might be, "Enough already."
I'm not talking about people like us, Judy. We're the obsessed.
WOODRUFF: Well, you're right, we're not normal.
But, Jeff, isn't all of this really inevitable as long as these people have to raise as much money as they have to raise to be a serious contender?
GREENFIELD: It's that and I think it's also inevitable as long as both parties are slaves to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, which get an inordinate amount of attention.
If those two states were somehow persuaded or forced not to be always first, you could imagine a return to a more stately, if you will, primary process, which used to go -- we remember this -- from February all the way through to June. So you're right. The combination of all that money and the, really, stranglehold on the process of two highly unrepresentative states -- we'll get mail -- forces these candidates to declare early.
I'm expecting somebody to announce for 2008 any day now.
WOODRUFF: Well, we can move it all the way back from January to February, maybe.
OK, Jeff Greenfield, thanks very much.
When we return: a renewed attention to civil liberties in a time of war. Is John Ashcroft unknowingly helping the ACLU get new members? Our Bruce Morton takes a look when we return.
WOODRUFF: All the government's efforts to strengthen homeland security have managed to invigorate this country's longstanding debate over the limits of government intrusion into the private lives of citizens.
Our Bruce Morton reports that the debate has also breathed new life into a group once maligned as on the fringe of American politics.
MORTON (voice-over): Back during the 1988 campaign, George Bush regularly denounced his opponent, Michael Dukakis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is a card-carrying member of the ACLU.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: That was the American Civil Liberties Union, of course, those awful lefties. But, since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a funny thing has happened.
LAURA MURPHY, ACLU: Over 50,000 individuals have joined us since September 11, 2001.
MORTON: And they're not all liberals. Bob Barr of Georgia, one of the House managers in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, is a consultant. so is retiring House Republican leader Dick Armey, who led the fight to kill a provision called TIPS, which would have encouraged Americans to spy and report to their government on one another.
Conservative libertarians thought the government was out of line during Waco, during Ruby Ridge. They worry it's out of line now, too.
GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: The Clinton Justice Department started an assault on civil liberties. And you saw conservative activists, Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, all increasingly concerned about a more intrusive government, and the ACLU joining with conservatives when Clinton was doing this. And that has continued during the Ashcroft Justice Department.
MORTON: Conservative libertarians aren't with the ACLU on issues like abortion, but they are together on civil liberties, privacy.
MURPHY: We're committed to defending the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And in a time where people are feeling nervous about the government's adherence to constitutional rights, I think this is the time when we see growth in ACLU membership. And it must be an indication that the average American citizen is concerned. MORTON: With over 300,000 members now, the ACLU has launched a TV campaign. An actor who is being Attorney General John Ashcroft attacks the Constitution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ACLU AD)
NARRATOR: Look what John Ashcroft is doing to our Constitution. He seized powers for the Bush administration no president should ever have, the right to investigate you for what you say, the right to intrude on your privacy, the right to hold you in jail without charging you with a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: They spent more than a half-a-million dollars buying airtime for the ad so far, mostly on cable TV. And they say they plan to buy more time.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Republican Congressman Ernie Fletcher and Democratic Attorney General Ben Chandler have entered the race for Kentucky governor. Fletcher filed his papers yesterday, making him the first candidate to officially enter next year's race. In addition to serving in Congress, Fletcher is a doctor, a Baptist minister and a former military fighter pilot. Chandler filed his papers today. He's the grandson of former Kentucky Governor and Senator Happy Chandler.
Florida's Democratic congressman, Alcee Hastings, says he will run for the U.S. Senate, but only if incumbent Democrat Bob Graham decides to retire. Hastings ran for the Democratic Senate nomination back in 1970, finishing fourth. He was elected to Congress 10 years ago, shortly after he was impeached and removed from office as a federal judge.
In North Carolina, the senator and potential White House hopeful John Edwards is now burnishing his credentials on international affairs. Edwards is meeting with various NATO officials today in Brussels. Tomorrow, the senator has meetings scheduled at 10 Downing Street in London with Prime Minister Tony Blair's top foreign affairs adviser. Edwards has made previous trips to the Middle East and to Afghanistan.
'Tis the season for a tax hike? Up next: the New York City mayor's controversial answer to the city's budget crunch.
WOODRUFF: While President Bush and many other Republicans are talking about tax cuts, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has gone in a different direction. Yesterday, he signed the largest tax hike in the city's history.
Today, CNN's Deborah Feyerick talked to property owners who expect to feel the pinch.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one of four small apartment buildings you own here in Manhattan. What do you pay in property taxes right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little bit more than $26,000 a year.
FEYERICK: And with the new tax hike, how much are you going to be paying?
ROBERTA BERNSTEIN, PROPERTY OWNER: Almost $5,000 more.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Landlord Roberta Bernstein fears the 18.5 percent property tax hike could be devastating for anyone who owns an apartment or building in New York City.
(on camera): Can you sustain your business? Can you continue to maintain these buildings the way they should be maintained?
BERNSTEIN: The answer is no, I can't. And I'm worried about a lot of other people who are barely making their tax bills now. They're going to walk away from their buildings.
FEYERICK (voice-over): But city Mayor Michael Bloomberg...
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We'll sign the bill.
FEYERICK: ... says it has to be done to balance the budget, as required by law, and close a looming $6 billion deficit.
BLOOMBERG: What we have to do is to face up to doing more with less or maybe even doing with less and paying more for it.
FEYERICK: The reason for the hike: basic economics. Fixed budget costs are going up. The nation's economy is slowing down. And Wall Street is not generating the money it did during the late '90s. The new property tax will bring in $840 million by summer. Critics say the mayor is going about it all wrong.
STEVE MALANGA, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Rather than saying, "Well, we're going to restrain the growth of city government; we're going to restrain the size of the city's work force," his initial impulse has been, "Let's just raise taxes on businesses and people." And remember, these are businesses and people who are already the most heavily taxed in the country.
FEYERICK: Mayor Bloomberg has warned New Yorkers, service cuts are likely. Another potential target: Bloomberg wants to tax people who work here, but live elsewhere.
DIANA FORTUNA, CITIZENS BUDGET COMMISSION: It's a tough time for the city, when you combine the tax changes with the change in the environment because of terrorism. I think businesses nationwide are rethinking where they are, what their expansion or contraction plans should be. So, that's one reason I think one wants to hesitate before doing anything too radical on the tax front at such a delicate time in the city's history.
FEYERICK (on camera): The timing of the property tax is no coincidence. Bills will be sent out within the month. That means New Yorkers will begin paying the new rate immediately.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: Next door in New Jersey, the Democratic State Committee has agreed to reimburse the state more than $18,000 for 14 helicopter trips taken by Governor Jim McGreevey. A state review, prompted by a media inquiry by Gannett New Jersey, found that the trips were not related to state business.
And you may recall, just last week, state Democrats said they would chip in to cover some of the costs of McGreevey's recent trade mission to Ireland, which was plagued by cost overruns.
We will split some hairs next on INSIDE POLITICS when we consider whether John Kerry is head and shoulders above politicians with less on top.
WOODRUFF: Looking ahead to what's in the works here on INSIDE POLITICS: The nation's oldest and longest-serving senator turns 100 years old Thursday. We'll observe, along with many others, the birthday of South Carolina's Strom Thurmond.
Also ahead: my conversation with Al Gore coming up on December 9 here on INSIDE POLITICS. Be sure to tune in next Monday for the complete extended interview.
And, remember, you can get the latest political headlines any time by going online to CNN.com/allpolitics.
WOODRUFF: Just two days after moving closer to a presidential race, John Kerry already is in denial mode. His office says the senator does not pay $150 to get his hair cut, as claimed by Matt Drudge on the Internet. "The Boston Herald" quotes a source as saying that Kerry pays more like $75 to get what some have called the best hair in the Senate.
"The Drudge Report," which we've not yet confirmed, says Kerry's do is the work of a stylist at the chic Cristophe salon. And you may remember Cristophe from the $200 trim that he gave Bill Clinton on board Air Force One while it sat on the tarmac at LAX in Los Angeles. Clinton learned then what Kerry may know now. Even hair can be a cutting issue when you are or want to be president.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
Bush Campaigns Hard for One Last Republican Vote>