CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Does Material Breach Mean One Step Closer To War?
Aired December 19, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: INSIDE POLITICS starts right now.
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The absence of evidence means, of course, that one cannot have confidence that there do not remain weapons of mass destruction.
ANNOUNCER: Insufficient evidence. The U.N.'s chief weapons inspector says there is little new in Iraq's weapons declaration report.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States, the United Nations, and the world waited for this declaration from Iraq, but Iraq's response is a catalog of recycled information and flagrant omissions.
ANNOUNCER: The secretary of state says Iraq has failed to comply, but he stopped short of advocating military action.
Trent Lott's fight to remain majority leader. More Republicans appear to be questioning the senator's leadership role.
A campout at city hall. One candidate's quest to be first in line and first on the ballot.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We are following breaking news in Mississippi, the scene of a tornado that tore through a business district in the town of Newton. We'll be updating that story as we get more information in. As soon as we get video, which we do expect, we're going to show that to you.
The chief United Nations weapons inspector told the U.N. Security Council today that Iraq's declaration of its weapons of mass destruction is missing key information.
In this "Newscycle," Hans Blix told council members that Iraq's report does not contain the evidence required to meet U.N. requirements.
Blix also said that U.N. Inspectors in Iraq are not in a position to confirm or disprove what is contained in the report.
As the diplomats confer, there's word here in Washington that the U.S. is preparing for a possible aggressive buildup of military forces in the Persian Gulf.
New deployments of naval, ground and air units are being considered, which would roughly double the number of U.S. forces already in the region.
Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration was roundly criticized today at the U.N. Not for what it contained, but for what U.N. officials have determined was missing.
After briefing the U.N. Security Council, the chief weapons inspector said that the Iraqi report contained a number of serious gaps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLIX: There were a lot open questions at the end of 1998, which are registered by UNSCOM and also by the Amerim (ph) report as you say. And these have not been answered by evidence in the new declaration, and this we are pointing out. We would need -- the absence of that evidence means, of course, that one cannot have confidence that there do not remain weapons of mass destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: However, Iraq's deputy ambassador to the U.N. took issue with that conclusion. He said the evidence is on the side of Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED SALMAN, IRAQI DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The accusation of the United States and United Kingdom are baseless. Verification on the ground can be done by the inspectors, and if they have any evidence, let them present this evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: A short time later, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the U.S. response, and warned of serious consequences for Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: The United States, the United Nations, and the world waited for this declaration from Iraq, but Iraq's response is a catalog of recycled information and flagrant omissions. It should be obvious that the patterns of systematic holes and gaps in Iraq's declaration is not the result of accidents or editing oversights or technical mistakes. These are material omissions that in our view constitute another material breach.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Well, Secretary Powell's use of the phrase "material breach" marks a new phase in U.S. policy toward Iraq.
With me now from the White House to talk more about the U.S. position, CNN's Frank Buckley -- Frank, these statements, not only by Secretary Powell, but by weapons inspector Hans Blix, is this really the beginning of the end as far as the U.S. is concerned? Are we now inevitably headed for war?
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no one is saying that war is inevitable, Judy, but certainly we heard Secretary Powell today say that he was discouraged about the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the situation in Iraq. He said there's a body of evidence that is slowly growing against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
He said the Iraqi declaration, as he put it, "totally fails" to meet the requirements of the U.N. Security Council resolution, and as you said, he used the term "material breach." "Another material breach" is exactly how he put it.
Now, previously, President Bush has talked about the fact that if Saddam Hussein fails in this declaration to come clean, that it would invite the severest of consequences.
Today, Ari Fleischer here at the White House reminded reporters of the president's comments, which came in Prague on November 20.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president looks at this as a stage. The president looks at this as a process. And the president will look at this in a very deliberate fashion, and a fashion of consultation with our allies. But make no mistake, the president has said if that happens, Saddam Hussein is entering his final stage with a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLEY: Now, here is what the timetable looks like, with regard to Iraq. On January 27, Hans Blix will deliver a mandated review to the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. will continue to engage in coalition building. The U.S. wants to intensify the inspection process, and the U.S. also wants a system in place to interview Iraqi scientists, perhaps out of Iraq, if necessary.
We can also expect to see a visible buildup of the military in the Gulf region. U.S. officials wanting to send a clear message, Judy, to Saddam Hussein that the U.S. is, in fact, willing and prepared to use the military action if necessary.
WOODRUFF: So at the same time they're saying "material breach," they are still saying there are steps that have to come before military action is taken. All right. Frank, thank you very much.
Well, CNN and "TIME" magazine have been sampling public opinion on the issue of Iraq. Our Bill Schneider has taken a look at these new poll results. Bill, first question, is the American public ready for war?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, 60 percent of Americans believe war with Iraq is inevitable, and 55 percent would support a war to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
But the public still has two conditions for going to war. First, they want somebody to show proof that Iraq is producing weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. inspectors, fine. Two-thirds of the public approves of the job the U.N. inspectors are doing.
Now, suppose the inspectors do not find proof, but the Bush administration does. Is that good enough? Yes.
Most Americans would be willing to invade Iraq, if the Bush administration comes up with proof.
But, suppose the U.N. does not find proof, and the Bush administration has no proof either? What then? Then, two-thirds of Americans would oppose an invasion, if neither the U.N. nor the Bush administration comes up with the proof.
WOODRUFF: And you said, Bill, there are two conditions for war. What's the second one?
SCHNEIDER: United Nations approval. Suppose Saddam Hussein obstructs the U.N. inspectors. What do Americans want to do then? Only 31 percent favor an immediate U.S. invasion, 64 percent oppose an invasion, and 50 of that 64 percent would support an invasion if the U.N. approved one. So clearly, the United Nations can swing public opinion for or against an invasion. Americans do not want to do this without the support, or at least the approval, of other countries.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider. Thank you very much for that update on the poll.
Well, military sources tell CNN that the U.S. may soon begin a major buildup of armed forces in the Persian Gulf region. There are currently about 60,000 U.S. personnel in that area. The new deployment would roughly double that number.
Sources say the orders would apply mainly to support units and ground troops, but would not occur until after the December holidays.
A little earlier, I spoke with CNN military analyst, retired General Wesley Clark, and I started by asking him if Colin Powell's use of the phrase "material breach" means that the U.S. is one step closer to war.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think we're a step closer to war as a result of Iraq not providing a full and complete disclosure, and Secretary Powell has called it. And this is part of the diplomatic effort to bring together the kind of coalition and U.N. support we need to move ahead.
WOODRUFF: Does this mean war is inevitable?
CLARK: If it stays the way it is, yes, war is inevitable. Unless Saddam is overthrown by a coup, or unless, for some reason, he suddenly has a change of heart and can blame his program on somebody else, war is inevitable.
WOODRUFF: Are you absolutely convinced yourself that Iraq is in material breach of this particular resolution, calling on them to disclose all weapons of mass destruction?
CLARK: Judy, we haven't had a chance to really study this resolution -- excuse me, to study the material that iraq submitted, because it's been held, but by all descriptions from everybody who's looked at it, this is the same stuff that the world community has seen before. And so it would constitute a material breach when contrasted to the information that the United States and Great Britain had made available about inconsistentsies in Iraq's previous declarations.
WOODRUFF: Previously, General Clark, you've been critical of the Bush administration for not having a postwar strategy for how to run an Iraq if Saddam Hussein is removed from power. Are you still critical of the administration for that?
CLARK: Well, we don't really know what the post war strategy will be, but there's been a lot of work done by people inside the administration and with others, like some of the Iraqi opposition groups, to try to answer those questions. They are very important questions, and I think -- everybody hopes that there will about good postwar strategy before this operation unfolds.
WOODRUFF: But you're saying right now, it's not known?
CLARK: Well, as far as I know, we don't know what it is. It hasn't been made public. It may have been completed. But it hasn't been disclosed, and it's my understanding that it's not quite completed yet.
And, for example, is the United Nations going to take over? Is the United States going to keep its 100,000 or 75,000 troops there at war? For how long or before other countries add their troops and who might those countries be and what will the sectors be? And what will we do about Iraqi law and all the people who were part of the Iraqi Security Services?
There are a number of questions that have to be answered and worked through. There are good people trying to work through those questions. It's my impression it's not yet completed.
WOODRUFF: Back here in the United States, the question about politics, the presidential race in 2004. And General Clark, it's known you've been meeting privately, quietly, with big Democratic party donors, people speaking for you have been talking to activists. You've been talking to reporters in Iowa, the first caucus state. For -- just for the sake of credality, isn't it a good idea to say openly that you are thinking about whether to run for president? CLARK: Judy, I'm not a candidate. I haven't declared a party. I haven't taken political money. A lot of people have come to me. They are concerned about the leadership. They are concerned about the direction of the country. I talked to those people, because, like many in this country, I'm concerned.
We're in a new place in our country's history, we're at a juncter in events, both foreign and domestic, where Americans are taking a look, re-assessing. I that's a very important set of activities to have a dialogue about, and to be part of that dialogue. That's what I want to do.
WOODRUFF: But that -- that sounds like you're thinking about running for president?
CLARK: I'm really thinking about the country, and what the issues are. And I don't have any plans or any organization or anything like that to move into the political sphere.
WOODRUFF: It's not a matter of being coy about the use of words here?
CLARK: Well, I'm just -- I'm a businessman right, and I'm fully engaged in business activities. I'm not trying to be coy but give you an accurate reflection of my thoughts, right now, and where I am.
WOODRUFF: We'll keep asking this question in the weeks to come.
General Wesley Clark, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: We turn our attention to the Trent Lott controversy when we return. An update on Lott's latest effort to hold on to his post as Senate Majority Leader.
Also, what's it like to live through a media feeding frenzy? Lessons to be learned from the few who've managed to survive one.
Why convicted felons are being released on purpose in Kentucky. I'll ask the state's governor.
SCHNEIDER: I'm Bill Schneider. The last mayor of Providence, Rhode Island was sent to prison. But you know what? He's still peddling his own line of spaghetti sauce! Can the new mayor top that? He just might. His story, later this hour.
WOODRUFF: Senator Trent Lott is working the phones from his Mississippi home, trying to secure his future as majority leader. It has been increasingly in doubt, since his remarks praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential bid on a segregationist platform. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is one of the latest to question Lott's position, saying his, quote, "Ability a leader dissipates on a daily basis." Other senators are offering only lukewarm support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Senator Lott has apologized now four or five times for his remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. We're going to go into a caucus on the January 6, and then we'll listen to Senator Lott, and let him make his case, and we'll have to decide then what the future is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Still, a number of senators have come down firmly in support of Lott, including Mitch McConnell, who's been mentioned as a possible successor.
Meanwhile, a CNN/Time poll asked about 1,000 people, should the Senate censure Lott for his comments: 49 percent said yes; 40 percent said no.
And with us now, former Gore Campaign Manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Before we get to a broader question here, I want a one-word answer, is Trent Lott going to survive as majority leader -- Bay.
BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Yes.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No.
WOODRUFF: No. OK, we're going to move on. Setting Lott's future aside for just a moment, has this episode opened up an old, painful divide between the two political parties, Republicans and Democrats, over race in America -- Donna.
BRAZILE: Well, I think it's done more than just open up a dialogue with Democrats and Republicans. It's opened up a dialogue across the country. All over this country today on talk radio stations, people are talking openly about their feelings about race, racism, segregation and how far we've come as a nation. I think that's good. We should have a dialogue, we should have a discussion. And I hope that we could take it outside the political realm, perhaps to churches somewhere else, where it could be a civil discussion, so that we can finally move forward and not back into the past.
BUCHANAN: I agree with Donna, that is very, very healthy, as long as it's among the people when they're discussing how they feel and what's happened and their relationships now with people of different color. That brings you together.
But what does not bring us together is to have the Democrats out there, leaders in that party, suggest that all Republicans, this big paintbrush, not only Trent, but so many of them, this is just natural, it's been out there, it's underneath the skin. And then to have Republicans say, you know, this is ridiculous. We've got to have him step down, so we don't talk about this.
If they should defend Trent, what he said was a mistake, it doesn't have anything to do with what being a Republican is all about. And the Democrats know very well he's not a racist and shouldn't try to make use of this. It's very dividing on the political level.
WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of the point you're just making about what Democrats have been saying, here's something that former President Bill Clinton said yesterday. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, I think that's up to them, but I think that they can't do it with a straight face. How can (inaudible) jump on him, when they're up there repressing -- trying to run black voters away from the polls and running under the confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina? I mean, look at their whole record. This is the others. How can they attack him? He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the back roads every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Bill Clinton talking, Donna, about Republicans. Do you agree with him? Is he right?
BRAZILE: Well, I think so. Because, look, he was not talking as a Democrat; he was talking about a southerner. He's lived the life of growing up in the segregated south. As a young boy, he saw people, he saw "whites only," "colored only" signs and he worked and became very well-known for trying to heal the racial divide in Arkansas, as well as in America. So I don't think Bill Clinton was speaking as Democrat. He was speaking as a national leader and a son of the south -- someone's who's tried to do something about race and racial division.
BUCHANAN: Donna, Donna, you must get tired of having to defending that man. This is a guy that...
BRAZILE: Actually, I love defending Bill Clinton.
BUCHANAN: ... yes, I bet you do. Your nose is getting long, though, Donna, as you say that.
BRAZILE: And it's still flat.
BUCHANAN: The key here is that this man disgraced the White House as president and now he's disgracing the position of a former president. Generally speaking, I'd like to see an elder statesman as your former president who has something to say about the big issues in this country and brings people together and tries to solve those. Here is, as a cheap political hack, trying to blame the reason that blacks didn't come out to vote, to somehow the whites -- that the Republicans suppressed them. People vote because they get energized by their own party and come out and vote. And the Democrats failed to do that and now...
BRAZILE: Bay, are you denying...
BUCHANAN: ...you have him trying to blame...
BRAZILE: ... are you denying that the flag was used -- the confederate flag was an issue in both the...
BUCHANAN: Sure was.
BRAZILE: ... Georgia and South Carolina gubernatorial campaigns and there were widespread, you know, news reports not from Democrats but from the press that, you know, the independent press that said African-Americans in Louisiana and African-Americans in Arkansas had a difficult time voting this past cycle. So that's a problem that we all have to address somehow...
BUCHANAN: You know, Donna.
BRAZILE: ... in the future, because people should not go to the polls and be, you know, harassed and intimidated.
BUCHANAN: You know better than this. You know, when Republicans mentioned the confederate flag -- first of all, I consider it an extremely legitimate issue. But secondly...
BRAZILE: What, the flag?
BUCHANAN: ... absolutely. The confederate flag is a legitimate issue. But the key here it doesn't suppress black votes. It seems to me if that's something they found offensive, they would, more likely, go out and vote.
BRAZILE: No, he didn't say it suppressed black votes. He said that the Republicans used the flag to rally whites.
BUCHANAN: No, he didn't.
BRAZILE: The confederate flag.
BUCHANAN: The words of his was it suppressed the black vote. Those were his words. But the key here is that Democrats just seem to want to find a fall guy because their people, their base didn't vote and they were divisive, and he knows..
BRAZILE: That's why we won Louisiana. Let's end on a positive note. That's why we won Louisiana.
BUCHANAN: You got the votes out.
WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. All right. We may come back to this issue in the future.
BUCHANAN: I hope not.
WOODRUFF: Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, thank you both. We appreciate it.
Trent Lott, the latest, but he's certainly not the first. Next, a look back at other politicians caught in the feeding frenzy. Which ones survived?
Plus, did anti-American protests help sway a key presidential election? Coming up, we will go inside their politics.
WOODRUFF: More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including some states' unusual way of saving money by freeing felons. We'll hear from one of the governors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time again to check your "I.P." i.q. Earlier we asked as a student in the 1970s, Bill Clinton worked as a volunteer on this man's first campaign for public office. Is it, a, Joe Lieberman? b, John Kerry? or, c, Dick Gephardt? The answer, a. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. Clinton volunteered for Lieberman's campaign for state senate, while Clinton was a student at Yale University Law School in New Haven, Connecticut.
WOODRUFF: Now to the situation surrounding the incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, embattled right now because of a statement he made at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. Our Jonathan Karl at the Capitol has some late-breaking information about the efforts by one of the people who would potentially succeed Trent Lott if he were to step down from the majority leader position -- Jon.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, a significant development here, and that is that Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, today has started sounding out his Republican colleagues about a possible run against Lott for majority leader. Senator Frist has made no decision on this, I am told by people familiar with his thinking, but that he is making phone calls and talking to his colleagues about whether or not there would be interest in his candidacy.
Officially, there is nothing new from Senator Frist's office. They're still standing by their statements of the last few days that he has made no decision about whether or not Lott should remain majority leader. But I can tell you that I have talked to people familiar with these conversations that he is making these calls to fellow senators, talking about jumping into this race, which would be a significant development, because, right now, Judy, there is just Trent Lott.
No Republican has stepped forward to say that they would run against him for majority leader. Now it looks like Senator Frist is taking the first step towards such a decision. Although, as I said, no final decision has been made.
WOODRUFF: Very interesting development. Senator Frist is said to be a favorite of the White House, so more to be seen on that.
Jon Karl, thanks very much.
Well, Trent Lott certainly isn't the first politician to get caught up in a media feeding frenzy. And there are some lessons to be learned from some of those who have gone before. CNN's Bruce Morton takes a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We all remember scandals past. Sometimes the politician survives, sometimes not. Bill Clinton survived by hanging tough and because impeaching a sitting president is a very big deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Article one is adopted.
MORTON: The House did impeach, of course, but the Senate refused to convict him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is not guilty as charged.
MORTON: Newt Gingrich admitted giving false testimony to the House Ethics Committee, was reprimanded and fined by the full House and resigned as speaker.
Back in 1990, the House voted to reprimand Barney Frank, an openly homosexual congressman, who had hired a male prostitute as an aide and then fired him for bringing clients to Frank's apartment. It was the latest of three punishments the House considered. And the voters have reelected Frank ever since.
Is there a rule for surviving a press feeding frenzy?
DAVID BRODER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think the wisdom is to get it all out as quickly as possible, hold on tight, and hope that the story goes away.
MORTON: Frank did that. Gary Condit didn't, keeping silent, reportedly acknowledging an affair with intern Chandra Levy, but denying any knowledge of her death. Police never charged Condit, but the voters fire him. He lost the Democratic primary in his California district last spring.
REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: It's been a great opportunity to be in public service and represent them in Washington, D.C. And I'll never forget it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA HILL: "Who has pubic hair on my Coke?"
JUDGE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I will not provide the rope for my own lynching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: The 1991 hearings on Clarence Thomas' nomination to be a Supreme Court justice may have had enough blame to go around. Some voters opposed Thomas. Some thought the committee holding the hearings disgraced itself. Some thought both.
Vague charges may be the hardest to refute. John Tower, nominated to be secretary of defense in 1989, couldn't answer charges of drinking and womanizing based on classified FBI files, which contained gossip as well as facts, because no one ever said he did thus and such on this date. And he had one other problem.
BRODER: The most damaging evidence is that that comes from people who are thought to be your allies. As you may remember, it was Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist, who really was instrumental in bringing John Tower now.
MORTON: Now it's Trent Lott's turn in the oven. And we don't know how it will turn out.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Next: behind bars no longer. Two states in the red free felons to save cash. Coming up, I'll speak with one of the governors who is opening the cell door.
INSIDE POLITICS back in 90 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CICILLINE (D), PROVIDENCE MAYOR-ELECT: For those who said, "Is it possible for a gay, Italian, Jewish man to become mayor?" the answer is yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And he's also the son of a mob lawyer. Providence's mayor-elect is truly a one-man rainbow coalition. We'll meet the colorful politician coming up on INSIDE POLITICS.
INSIDE POLITICS back in 90 seconds.
WOODRUFF: Tough times are forcing states to get creative as they confront growing budget deficits. At least four states, Kentucky, Montana, Arkansas and Texas, are planning to release inmates or have already done so to trim prison and jail costs. The state of Oklahoma is looking at how to do this.
Earlier, I talked with Governor Paul Patton of Kentucky and asked him about the release of 567 felons early to save money. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GOV. PAUL PATTON (D), KENTUCKY: A very, very difficult decision, but it's the one that is actually necessary as a part of the solution to Kentucky's severe fiscal revenue shortfalls, a situation shared by almost every state in the nation.
WOODRUFF: But, as I understand it, you're going to save $1.3 million and more than that if you can keep up this policy of having fewer inmates incarcerated. But what about public safety, Governor?
PATTON: It's a problem.
We will also, probably, as a result of this revenue shortfall, have fewer police officers available. We'll have fewer prosecutors available. We will have fewer public defenders available. We're talking about a 5 percent revenue shortfall in Kentucky. And we're not as bad off as a lot of other states.
WOODRUFF: And you're not troubled by having to do this?
PATTON: Oh, very troubled.
But when you don't have the money to pay a bill, you better not incur the obligation. And we do not have the money to pay for the commitments that we've made. And a part of this is that the federal government continues to place burdens on states and doesn't fund it. The election reform bill that was passed places huge financial burdens on the states. And yet, so far, the Congress has not appropriated what we consider to be the promise to fund a portion of that new cost.
The homeland security: major burdens on states. And, so far, the federal government has not appropriated virtually any of the money that it's going to take to pay these costs.
WOODRUFF: Governor, as a Democratic governor of the state of Kentucky, you're not concerned that this contributes to the image that some have of Democrats soft on crime?
PATTON: Well, I think Governor Keating is a Republican in Oklahoma, as I understand it. And, certainly, this is a Republican problem, just like it's a Democrat problem. I am very concerned about this kind of action.
WOODRUFF: You're mentioning -- you're referring to the fact that Governor Keating is considering releasing 1,000 inmates in Oklahoma.
I'm very concerned about this problem. Governors have to live with fiscal reality. We can't run deficits. We can only spend the money that we have. And the states are suffering the largest fiscal crisis that they've suffered since World War II. This is a major crisis. And, quite frankly, as I said, some of it, is because the federal government, we think, is not doing enough to help states get through this. The federal government can run a deficit. States, in general, can not.
WOODRUFF: And just quickly, Governor, what else might have to be cut? You just mentioned police. You also were telling me teachers.
PATTON: Certainly, we're looking at the effects of a 5 percent across-the-board cut on Kentucky government. That would be the schools. It would be the colleges. It would be our social service programs, our regulatory programs.
We will have to cut total expenditure of state government by 5 percent. And we have cut all of the fluff that we can. We have cut all the administrative costs. Now we're talking about actual programs. We suffered over $1 million revenue shortfall so far that we've covered. But we have run out of ways to cover the revenue shortfall, $500 million over the next 18 months.
WOODRUFF: Kentucky Governor Paul Patton.
Coming up next: an update on that tornado in Mississippi and "Inside Buzz" from Bob Novak. Straight ahead, he's got the scoop on the behind-the-scenes activity in the Trent Lott controversy.
WOODRUFF: An update now once again on that tornado that touched down in East Central, South Central Mississippi in the town of Newton. We know now that at least 40 people were injured, two of those injuries critical, that the tornado hit a Wal-Mart shopping center, a La-Z-Boy chair factory, and several homes and businesses in this community. The area is still under a state of emergency. And we're told there's a possibility of other tornado touchdowns in the area.
Let's turn quickly to CNN weather forecaster Galen Crader for the very latest.
Galen, what should people look for now?
GALEN CRADER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, right now, they need to pay attention to their local radio and local television stations, especially in Southern to Central Alabama and Mississippi.
It's moving out of Hattiesburg. It's headed toward Montgomery. It's headed toward Mobile. Mobile is currently under tornado watch, not a warning, but a watch right now. But we are considering this entire region, where we have the two red boxes at the end of our satellite right there -- there. This is where our warnings are going on right now.
So, if you live in any of these territories right now, you need to play close attention to your radio and to your community warning systems. And those alarms will be going off sometime soon if a tornado is sighted in your area. We can't stress that enough. So, pay close attention to that. And we're gathering more information on it here right now. I'll be back in just a little bit with that -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Galen Crader at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta, thanks very much.
And Bob Novak joins us now with some "Inside Buzz."
Bob, first of all, before I ask you about who replaces Trent Lott, are you convinced now he's gone?
ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not convinced, but it's looking worse for him every day. It's hard to find Republicans who will predict he'll be able to stay.
WOODRUFF: All right, what is this about the threat of John McCain to become an independent if Mitch McConnell were to become the next speaker?
NOVAK: That's been a rumor all around Washington the last couple of days. So, I called Senator McCain just before he left on an overseas vacation this afternoon. He says it is not true.
He says that Mitch McConnell as majority leader would make life very difficult for John McCain, but that it was not something that would drive him out of the party. He said it just wouldn't happen. He would stay a Republican, although he wouldn't be happy.
WOODRUFF: Now, Bob, our Jon Karl just reported from the Hill that Bill Frist, the senator from Tennessee, today is making calls to other senators, exploring whether he'd be a candidate for leader. What are you hearing about Frist?
NOVAK: Senator Frist's stock has really gone down in the last few days.
Fellow senators tell me that he had given a commitment to Senator Don Nickels to support him if Lott fell. And then he withdrew it, said he didn't want to run. Now he wants to run. But what they really worry about with Bill Frist is that he would be the boy of the White House, that he would follow the White House orders. And that is not what they want in a majority leader.
WOODRUFF: Now, what are you hearing about a so-called soft landing being worked out for Lott?
NOVAK: This would be to ease the humiliation of having to step down as leader. And there was talk yesterday about trying to get him in as Senate Finance Committee chairman.
That is really ridiculous, because it means that Chuck Grassley of Iowa would have to step aside. He has no intention of doing that. They talk about other committee chairmanships for Lott, but everybody is not going to sacrifice for that. So, nothing has been arranged at all.
WOODRUFF: And a White House meeting with Lott, Nickels was canceled, you're told?
NOVAK: Yes. This was a meeting not on this question. It was scheduled sometime in advance on prescription drugs. They had a similar meeting with the House leaders.
But they decided it was not -- Nickels is going to be the Budget Committee chairman, if he is not the majority leader. They decided it was not the time to have that kind of a meeting. It just shows that this crisis has just absolutely slowed down any planning in the Senate for trying to deal with the agenda when they reconvene in January.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak. And we know you're also reporting that some Republican senators are upset that that conference for January 6 wasn't called sooner than it was.
OK, Bob, thanks very much.
A new way to escape a long political shadow: Up next, our Bill Schneider introduces us to the new mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.
WOODRUFF: You know, political candidates like to talk about bringing together diverse constituencies. But there's one newly elected mayor who is a walking example of bridging cultural divisions.
The story from our Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: After years of controversy and corruption, Providence, Rhode Island, voted for change this year. And, boy, did they get it.
For those who said, "Is it possible for a gay, Italian, Jewish man to become mayor?" the answer is yes!
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Providence's newly elected mayor, David Cicilline, is a one-man melting pot.
CICILLINE: I was raised Catholic, in terms of being confirmed and going to church. But, at the same time, we always celebrated all the Jewish holidays and went to temple with my Jewish grandparents. So, we really celebrated both traditions.
SCHNEIDER: The gay part came out a few years ago when a journalist interviewed state representative Cicilline.
M. CHARLES BAKST, "PROVIDENCE JOURNAL": I said to him: "I'm going ask you a question. If you don't want to answer it, you don't have to answer it." And I remember he was drinking a cup of coffee like this. And I said, "Are you gay?"
And he said, "Uh-huh." And there was -- it was as simple as that in talking with him.
SCHNEIDER: And how did it affect Cicilline's campaign?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family voted for you.
CICILLINE: Tell them I said thank you.
SCHNEIDER: No big deal.
CICILLINE: It almost never came up, which is the thing that I'm proudest of in terms of city. I think it was irrelevant to the campaign.
SCHNEIDER: What was a big deal was the fact that both he and his father are criminal defense attorneys. His father has defended some pretty shady characters, like Raymond Patriarca, boss of the New England crime syndicate.
CICILLINE: Organized crime, people charged with murder, rape, robbery.
SCHNEIDER: Put together gay, Jewish and Italian-American and you've got a pretty good coalition right there. But that wasn't the key to Cicilline's victory.
CICILLINE: One community that was so important to me and is so important to this city is the Latino community.
SCHNEIDER: Like a classic political entrepreneur, Cicilline identified a supply of new voters in Providence.
CICILLINE: I built, really, some of my best and strongest support from emerging new communities in the city's population, the Latino community, the African-American community, Southeast Asian community.
SCHNEIDER: He put them together with his upscale liberal base.
CICILLINE: It's kind of odd, the affluent, very well-educated East-Siders, a very progressive community, a new emerging immigrant community here on the South Side, a good combination.
SCHNEIDER: What held them together? One issue: change, change from the way Providence's legendary mayor, Buddy Cianci, currently a resident of the big house, doing time for racketeering conspiracy, ran the city for 24 years.
CICILLINE: It was really a message about change, changing the old style of politics, being sure that people are hired based on their merit and promoted based on performance.
SCHNEIDER: When Cicilline takes office next month, it will be the passing of a political era in Providence, from one brand of lively and colorful politics to another.
BAKST: People say to me, what are you going to do without Buddy Cianci? What are going to write about? Where are you going to find somebody at colorful as Buddy Cianci? And the way I look at it is, if you have a Jewish, Italian, gay mayor who speaks Spanish, it's a start.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Unlike many cities, Providence has a system with a strong mayor, which means David Cicilline has the opportunity to make a difference. Lots of people inside and outside Rhode Island will be watching him to see how he does.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Providence, Rhode Island.
WOODRUFF: And we will be watching him here.
We hope you'll stay with CNN for more information on those dangerous tornadoes moving through Mississippi and the rest of the Southeastern U.S.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for being with us.
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