CNN INSIDE POLITICS
White House Points to Offramp for Saddam; Americans Take Gloomier View Economy, Bush's Handling of It
Aired February 25, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: On the road to war with Iraq, President Bush points to an offramp for Saddam Hussein.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the sake of peace, and the security of the American people, he must disarm.
ANNOUNCER: A question of confidence. Americans take a gloomier view of the economy. And the president's handling of it.
Mr. Nunez goes to Washington. How is a farmer turned House freshman adjusting to the big time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a Congressional refrigerator. Not too well stocked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not a lot in there.
ANNOUNCER: Zell, gives them hell. What's the Georgia Senator so angry about?
SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: Bigotry for big bucks. They won't deny it. They will say, oh, it's just harmless humor. But they know better.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us. The increased threats of war and terrorism, along with the troubled job and financial markets now appear to be taking a greater toll on American consumers. In this "NewsCycle," a research group reports that consumer confidence dropped far more than expected this month, almost 15 points to its lowest level since October 1993.
A new poll out this hour shows that many Americans remain less confident in the president's handling of the economy, with 43 percent approving of his performance, 48 percent disapproving. The president met with his economic advisers at the White House today. Once again, he touted his tax-cut plan as an economic pick-me-up, and he urged Congress to pass it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This administration is firmly committed to the principle that, if people have more of their own money they're likely to spend it on a good or a service, which means somebody is more likely to be able to find work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Well, after those brief remarks on the economy, reporters peppered Mr. Bush with questions about the showdown with Iraq and the path toward war. Let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, what are they saying right now about Iraq?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, Judy, the president says that there is only one way that war can be averted with Iraq. That is for Saddam Hussein to completely disarm. The White House says that there is no sign of that. They downplay the significance of Iraq promising to actually turn over this forbidden bomb, an R400 to the United Nations. The president saying, it's all a part of a game. President Bush is really leading this lobbying effort with his top advisers to try get that U.N. Security Council resolution, the second one, passed.
But they do not have the votes that are necessary. President Bush earlier today met with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria. He is only one of three supporters, besides Britain and Spain, that are supporting this second resolution. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that, no, they don't have those votes, the nine votes necessary. But he also said, with or without those votes, that the U.S. will move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Obviously, we'd like to have a positive vote. That's why we've submitted a Security Council resolution, along with Great Britain and Spain. But as I said all along, it would be helpful and useful, but I don't believe we need a second resolution. Saddam Hussein hasn't disarmed. He may play like he's going to disarm, but he hasn't disarmed. And for the sake of peace and the security of the American people, he must disarm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And, Judy, the administration now is saying that this is really kind of a two-week timetable that we're looking at, a window of opportunity for Saddam Hussein to prove that he has disarmed for the U.N. Security Council to move forward on that resolution -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, Suzanne, as we were reporting earlier, consumer confidence is down. The president did have something to say about the economy this morning, but most of the reporters' questions were on Iraq. How is the White House going to get its economic message out there? MALVEAUX: Well, Judy, it's a very good point because they are very much related. The president met with his National Economic Council. He was talking about getting forward, pushing through that economic stimulus package, the $674 billion 10-year plan.
But the president acknowledged here that there is a lot of uncertainty, that you are talking about domestic and international economies that are really affected by this question, whether or not the United States is going to go to war. The markets have been affected by all of this. But the president is, again, saying that is one of the reasons why he needs to push forward that economic stimulus package, with both of them very closely related.
WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne, at the White House. Thanks very much.
Well, the president is meeting with Senate and House Republicans this hour to discuss their legislative agenda. Democrats, meantime, are accusing Mr. Bush of putting the economy on the back burner. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle says Republicans are not planning to address the economy for months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: The credibility gap between what the Bush administration says about the economy and what it is doing about the economy is huge. And it's costing Americans dearly. The economy is in trouble. People need help today. We shouldn't delay another month, another week or even another day. We need to strengthen the economy now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Daschle spoke after Democratic senators and governors met to talk about the economy and homeland security. We'll talk to one governor, Michigan's Jennifer Granholm, ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS.
Some milestones today in the war on terror. The Coast Guard marked its transfer from the transportation department to the new homeland security department. Cabinet secretaries, Tom Ridge and Norm Mineta, took part in the change-of-watch ceremony, featuring a color guard, suits (ph) and marches and speeches.
Today is the deadline for the transportation security administration to issue rules for guns in the cockpits of commercial airliners. President Bush signed legislation last year permitting pilots to carry guns if they choose to defend the aircraft. The task force has recommended that pilots from any commercial airline could get federally issued .40-caliber handguns. After receiving 48 hours of training with the weapon, pilots must undergo psychological testing and background checks. And they would be allowed to wear the gun in a holster only during flight.
The first group of pilots could begin training next month. Well, now, we return to Capitol Hill where some senators are spitting bullets, you might say, on a matter that has nothing do with war or peace. Here now are Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not the prospect of war or the slumping economy. It's the nomination of Miguel Estrada to one of the nation's highest courts that is generating the most heat on the Senate floor.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: What a ridiculous, dumb statement. I'm trying to -- I don't swear, but I'd be darned if I'm having a rough time not swearing here.
KARL: Democrats are blocking a vote on Estrada, insisting that he has not been forthright in answering questions about his judicial philosophy. Estrada wouldn't even cite a single Supreme Court decision in American history that he disagrees with.
DASCHLE: As this economy worsens, we spend our time on the floor totally consumed with one nomination, having to do with a circuit court nominee for the District of Columbia. This is the third week we've been on it now. Now, we can resolve this matter if Mr. Estrada will come forth with the information. But if he will not, let's move to something else until he does.
KARL: The Republicans say there's a double standard, with more demanded of Estrada than any other judicial nominee. Both sides are refusing to budge, leaving the Senate in a standstill.
HATCH: All they've got to do, to go on to these wonderful economic issues -- and we all want to do it -- is allow a vote up and down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a filibuster against discrimination.
KARL: The Estrada battle has become a political campaign. Republicans believe the issue will help the party make inroads to Hispanic voters. Yesterday, they organized a daytime candlelight vigil for the nominee in San Francisco, and another event with local Hispanic leaders in Miami.
And there are multiple ads, including this Spanish-language commercial by a moderate pro-abortion rights Republican group which supports Estrada. The ad is running in California, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida. And the pro-Estrada forces may have drawn some blood. Florida Senator Bill Nelson says he'll cross party lines, becoming the fourth Democrat to support Republicans in pushing for a vote on Estrada.
KARL: And Democrats are waging their own political campaign on this, mobilizing the Hispanic groups that oppose Estrada, as well as liberal interest groups who are pressuring Democrats to hold the line on this nomination, because they see it as a test of their ability to fight a much bigger battle if President Bush gets a chance to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. WOODRUFF: So, Jon, it's almost a test for both sides.
KARL: It's absolutely a test for both sides, and Republicans really think this is their opportunity to show the party as a champion for someone who is Hispanic, and make inroads into Hispanic voters. But Democrats say they are not worried about that. Their interest groups are very fired up about this and want them to hold the line.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl, thanks very much for that. And there is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.
In a war with Iraq, would President Bush and U.S. forces specifically target Saddam Hussein?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weeks have gone by with no coordination whatsoever, which has made it very difficult for the humanitarian relief organizations to get organized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: We'll discuss the hurdles faced by private relief groups, trying to prepare for peace after a war with Iraq.
We'll update the buzz about National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and a possible future in politics.
And later, is it a TV spin-off or a hillbilly hunt? The latest push in Congress to prevent a reality show from becoming a reality.
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: A blanket of white covers the Holy Land. Up to a foot of snow fell in parts of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, thanks to a rare winter storm.
Coming up next, we will move slightly to the East for the latest headlines in the showdown with Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time to check your "I.P. I.Q." Founding father Benjamin Franklin once said that, "In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes." Franklin may have lived in the 1700s, but it wasn't until what year that Congress was given the power to actually collect taxes on one's income? Was it, A: 1801, B: 1857 or C: 1913? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: New intelligence information leads off our check of the headlines in the showdown with Iraq. A senior U.S. official tells CNN's Barbara Starr that the Iraqi military has moved several dozen heavy transport trucks in the last 48 hours. The overhead images could indicate an Iraqi heavy armor division is moving into position for the defense of Baghdad.
A deal that would allow U.S. combat troops into Turkey now lies in the hands of Turkey's parliament. The Turkish cabinet sent the proposal to the parliament today. A vote could come as soon as tomorrow. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says he has received no official response to his order that Iraq begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles by Saturday. Blix also says that Iraq has sent six letters to U.N. inspectors in recent days, which he pointed to as a new sign of cooperation.
A White House spokesman is downplaying comments by Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald that President Bush said he would approve an assassination of Saddam Hussein. Fitzgerald told the suburban Chicago "Daily Herald" that Mr. Bush made the comments recently in private. The president's spokesman today said the executive order banning assassinations, remains in effect.
Well, if and when, the U.S. leads military action against Iraq, what happens after the fighting stops will be crucial to averting a humanitarian disaster. Years of sanctions have crippled the Iraqi economy and left 60 percent of that country dependent on food programs. If war happens, as many as 600,000 Iraqis could be displaced from their homes. Many of them are expected to try to escape any violence by crossing the border into Turkey or Iran.
U.S. military, meanwhile, is stockpiling blankets, water, and other supplies to provide aid for up to a million people. Civilian relief agencies will also be called on to help. But some say their efforts will suffer because they have been left out of planning meetings with the government. With me to talk more about humanitarian planning underway is Ken Bacon. He is a former spokesman at the U.S. Defense Department. He now serves as president of Refugees International. Ken Bacon, just how serious a humanitarian crisis are we facing, assuming there is war in Iraq?
KEN BACON, PRESIDENT, REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL: It's a potential catastrophe. I say potential because we don't know. So much depends on imponderables right now. If there is a war, the first question is, will Saddam Hussein use chemical and biological weapons? The second question is, will it be a long war or a short war? And the third question is, what happens to the U.N. feeding program that you mentioned earlier that supports 60 percent of the Iraqi population? If we knew the answers to all these questions, we could make predictions. But, unfortunately, we don't know the answers.
The U.N., I think, has the best figures on this. They estimate that there could be as many as 1.5 million refugees, people driven out of the country toward Iran and Turkey, principally, but some towards Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the other countries, Syria and Jordan. WOODRUFF: Just quickly, some people, I think, vividly remember the pictures of people suffering mightily in Afghanistan after the conflict there. How would you compare this with that?
BACON: I think it's slightly different. Afghanistan is a much more primitive country. It had been subject to drought for a long period of time. And it had not had the U.N. feeding program that has sustained Iraq for the last seven or eight years.
So Afghanistan was much more precarious than Iraq. Iraq is a more sophisticated country. It has a relatively good education system, good schools, and most of the people are urbanized, whereas in Afghanistan, most of the people lived in the country and were farmers.
WOODRUFF: But in Iraq, as you said, you have the uncertainty of the use of weapons of mass destruction...
WOODRUFF: ... chemical, specifically, chemical and biological. You've been talking in the last days about not having a lot of cooperation or information coming out of the U.S. government. How does that affect the ability of your organization, Refugees International, to operate?
BACON: We are primarily an advocacy organization. We don't provide food or shelter the way CARE does, or the International Rescue Committee. But for the organizations that are operational, they lack the details they need to establish operations or to plan for operations in the area.
They also, incidentally, lack the money they need, because the government, while it has spent billions of dollars on propositioning, and preparing it, and equipping it, it has spent only a few millions of dollars on preparing for a potential humanitarian problem in Iraq. So, there's a real disparity in the amount of money spent on the military plans versus the humanitarian plans.
WOODRUFF: Is that the responsibility of the government in a situation like this, the U.S. government here?
BACON: Well, I think so, in two respects. One, the U.N. is really the first responder to disaster, to humanitarian disaster. They have probably 25 percent of the money they've requested so far to do their preparations.
Second, the NGOS, nongovernmental organizations like CARE and Mercy Corps, Catholic Relief Services have gotten some money for planning, but no money for hiring staff or propositioning supplies, or for training for what could be a tricky, a tricky intervention if chemical and biological weapons were used.
WOODRUFF: And if this money that you are talking about, Ken Bacon, isn't forthcoming, what does that mean?
BACON: Well, it means a slower response. It doesn't mean there won't be a response. It means there will be a slower response, and it will be clumsier the earlier days than it should be. There are two unique things about this war if it occurs. One, if we have a war, it will be the most advertised war in history. And, two -- and that means we have a lot of time to prepare for the humanitarian side as well as the military side.
And, two, there's really no doubt as to who is going to win the war. The real concern is what happens after the war with the humanitarian needs that the Iraqi people could face. That's what we should be preparing for now. And we should be as aggressive in preparing for that as we are in preparing for the war itself.
WOODRUFF: Ken Bacon, head of Refugees International, we thank you so much for talking with us about all of this.
BACON: Thank you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thanks again.
BACON: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Coming up, are the president's economic policies putting the state in a bind? I'll speak with Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Time to check your "I.P. I.Q." Founding father Benjamin Franklin once said that, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Franklin may have lived in the 1700s, but it wasn't until what year that Congress was given the power to actually collect taxes on one's income? Was it, A: 1801, B: 1857, or C: 1913?
The correct answer is C. On this date in 1913, the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving Congress the power to levy and collect income taxes, was declared in effect.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our campaign "News Daily," with a new report showing labor membership at its lowest level in almost three decades. Democratic presidential hopefuls still are paying homage this week at the AFL-CIO convention in Florida. Congressman Dick Gephardt received an official invitation, thanks to his status as the former house minority leader. Some other candidates couldn't resist the gathering of so many labor leaders, however. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Edwards stopped by yesterday, along with Gephardt, Carol Moseley-Braun and Howard Dean.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is up for re-election today. Daley cast his vote this morning. Three candidates are challenging Daley, but he is expected to cruise to his fourth full-term in office. California's Governor Gray Davis won a second term back in November, but his approval rating has reached an all-time low. Just 33 percent of Californians say they approve of the governor's job performance. Sixty percent say they disapprove. His approval rating is about 20 points lower than last October when it stood at 52 percent.
Well, another governor making headlines in November was the new Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm. She's here in Washington where yesterday President Bush told the governors that the states should not expect more federal aid to ease their terrible budget crunch. I spoke with Governor Granholm earlier. And I began by asking if she could live with that.
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I guess we'll have to live with it. It's not an answer that we were hoping for. Certainly, I think a lot of the governors came here to Washington with the hopes we'd have somewhat of a receptive audience, because we are facing up to $80 billion, collectively, of budget deficits.
When your citizens out there see the impact, it's at the state level, it's not at the federal level. It's us who provides the services. So I think we're hoping that our taxpayers, which are the ones who pay the bills an the federal side, too, would see some of that relief come home.
WOODRUFF: So, when the president says, hey, we're in deficit at the federal level, we've got a real problem here.
GRANHOLM: Well, so do we. So do we. And here at our level, I mean, this is where you see cuts in things that matter most to individual citizens, whether it's education, or health care, or services to children and families, vulnerable populations. That's where the rubber meets the road.
WOODRUFF: There was a compromise worked out, we were told, yesterday, among Republican and Democratic governors where they put together three different priorities for it.
GRANHOLM: Four, actually.
WOODRUFF: Was it four?
GRANHOLM: The four were this. First of all, the "No Child Left Behind Act," which was a bipartisan act, which the president initially said would be fully funded. Well, it's about $6 billion short of where that fully funding was, using the president's own numbers.
We want to see that full money come back, because it's the states that are going to have to implement it. These are unfunded mandates, essentially, so "No Child Left Behind." Special education is about $11 billion under funded. That means the states have to pick up the tab. It's a mandate that the feds put on us but did not fund. The issue of Medicaid was also agreed upon, because we want to pursue a strategy that would allow for a prescription drug benefit, at least for those populations that are eligible for both for Medicare and Medicaid.
And Homeland Security was the final issue that we all agreed that we would pursue. The president put $3.5 billion in the budget for this year that he just signed. The states want more than that, because as we cut our revenue sharing to the cities, that means our first responders, our police and fire are the first to go. We want to make sure we are able to protect our homeland here at home.
WOODRUFF: But all this is a request over and above what the president has said the federal government can do. Do you really expect to get any of this?
GRANHOLM: Well, we want to be realistic. You know, we initially came assuming that we could agree upon a general bailout package for the states. But in talking it through, we recognize that we got to be realists.
And we know that the federal government is facing a deficit. We also know that, you know, the federal government has a lot more flexibility than the states do. The states are required to balance their budgets, as they should be. The federal government is not. So, there's more room to maneuver than there is in the states.
WOODRUFF: The cuts that you've had to make in Michigan, they've been described -- and I've read some of the articles -- as pretty painful.
GRANHOLM: Yes. They are terrible. It's terrible.
I mean, I'm somebody who campaigned on education being my No. 1 priority. And yet we've had to make cuts in education. This is very difficult stuff. Citizens -- Medicaid has been cut from the fiscal year that we're in the middle of. These are hard calls.
WOODRUFF: And you have got a new budget coming out in the next couple weeks. This is your first National Governors Association meeting. There seems to be a good bit of dissension between Republicans and Democrats, some of the Republican governors saying that this is an organization that really tilts to the Democrats. Is that how you see it?
GRANHOLM: Well, that's sort of ironic, since there are more Republican governors than there are Democratic governors.
WOODRUFF: But only by a couple.
GRANHOLM: By a couple, right. But that should itself to a real sense of bipartisanship. I certainly don't see that this is more tilting one way or the other.
I think the compromise that I described is an example of how we were able to reach a bipartisan consensus. There certainly was some tension. I think the Democratic governors who -- all of us have to cut at home. All of us were hoping to get some help. The Democratic governors probably were willing to push it and be much more aggressive about it probably than the Republican governors, because they didn't want to appear to be opposing a Republican president.
The bottom line is, though, these are all of our citizens and they are Republicans and Democrats. We need help at home.
WOODRUFF: Very quick last question: discussion in your state of Michigan about moving up the presidential primary next year, maybe as early as February the 7th, which would be just 10 or 11 days after New Hampshire. Is that a good idea?
GRANHOLM: Well, we have some fabulous -- senior Senator Carl Levin, who really has been advocating this for 20 years, so that there's not just a lock on this institutional and here and forevermore. We are all taking a look at it. We're having discussions with Terry McAuliffe about it. And I think you'll see probably some resolution in the next few weeks.
WOODRUFF: You think it's a good idea to make it that early?
GRANHOLM: I think it's not a bad idea to not have it always be the same two states that have a lock on the early, because it gives a disproportionate emphasis on those two states, one of which may be more Republican-leaning. So the question is, is there a fairer distribution of it?
WOODRUFF: Hmm. So, we wonder if there are some changes in store with the calendar.
Still ahead: Some people send flowers, but North Korea found a more chilling way to mark a big day for its neighbors to the south.
WOODRUFF: Is President Bush steering the economy or is the economy steering the president? A take from James Carville and Tucker Carlson coming up in our "CROSSFIRE."
But first, a look inside "Their Politics" at headlines from around the world that Washington is watching.
Pomp and ceremony amid crisis: Secretary of State Colin Powell was on hand today as South Korea's new president was inaugurated. But hours earlier, North Korea test-fired a missile. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer called that launch bizarre behavior, saying most nations send flowers.
More on the crisis now from CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon in South Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid reports of a North Korean missile test and new accusations by the north that the U.S. is sending spy planes into its airspace, South Korea swore in a new president. Roh Moo-hyun had a message for Pyongyang.
ROH MOO-HYUN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is up to Pyongyang whether to go ahead and obtain nuclear weapons or to get guarantees for the security of its regime and international economic support.
MACKINNON: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell came to show support and to make sure Washington's relationship with Roh starts off on the right footing. Roh disagrees with Washington's refusal to renounce the military option against North Korea. Powell sought to reassure him.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: What I said to President Roh was that, you can not ever remove an option that is always available to you, but that the United States has no plans to invade North Korea. Anything we might do would be in coordination and consultation and cooperation with South Korea.
MACKINNON: He said a diplomatic solution must be reached through multilateral talks, not bilateral negotiations,as the north is demanding with Washington.
POWELL: I believe, sooner or later, there will be a dialogue involving all of the interested parties. And the United States will participate in that dialogue.
MACKINNON: Powell and South Korean military officials all downplayed the significance of a short-range missile test conducted by North Korea off its eastern coast on Monday, calling it expected, routine and unthreatening.
(on camera): But North Korean officials continue to accuse the United States of planning a preemptive military attack. And without any form of dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang, diplomats and analysts here are concerned it may be difficult to convince the north otherwise.
Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Seoul.
WOODRUFF: Now to Israel, where Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has just about wrapped up forming a coalition to govern the country. Sharon's Likud Party came out on top in last month's election, but fell short of a majority in the Israeli Parliament. Two of the four political parties in the proposed coalition are from the right wing, complicating efforts to move the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from fighting to negotiations.
Well, as you know, they say money can't buy happiness. But up next: Is it buying American allies? Snapshots from Turkey and some potshots, too, ahead in our daily debate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOODRUFF: Well, with us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University: James Carville and Tucker Carlson.
Gentlemen, let's talk about Turkey. The United States is about to finalize a deal with Turkey to settle some 60,000 U.S. troops on Turkish soil. But, in the process, some people are raising questions about what the U.S. is giving Turkey in return.
And I want to quote just very quickly from what retired supreme NATO Commander Wesley Clark wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" in an op-ed today. He said, "The squabbling over price undercuts the legitimacy of U.S. aims and methods in the region." And he goes on to ask, "What exactly did we buy from Turkey?" He's concerned about what the U.S. gave away in the time after the war.
Tucker, is this -- should people be concerned that the U.S. gave away too much here?
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, if it did give away too much, yes, you should be concerned.
I don't think it did. Money is one of the tools you use in diplomacy. One of the reasons so many nations sign on to whatever it is the United States is for is because the U.S. is a rich country. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Turkey tried to shake us down. Hopefully, we got a pretty good price out of it.
I think the real story here, though, is that Turkey is a Muslim country signing on to the war against Iraq, along with a lot of others: Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So, I think, in the end, the administration has done a pretty good job of getting Muslim nations in the region on our side.
WOODRUFF: But it's not just the money, James. It's what Turkey is going to be able to do after a war, if there is one.
JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, it is.
I mean, I think what's an interesting thing and I think a very colossal failure and a tragic thing about this administration, in the 1991 Gulf War, 88 percent of the cost of that war were borne by nations other than the United States. To my knowledge, not one nation has put up a single penny for this. In fact, we're spending, what, $26 billion to Turkey in order to use it as a base.
And we're wondering how much more money, when it's all said and done, that we're going to find out that we're going to be paying to other countries. And if our cause -- and I think there's a good reason to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power. But every time that we do this, it appears to the rest of the world and a lot of the United States that we're just haggling over price here, that this whole thing looks more befitting than some kind of a deal in a house of ill repute than it would be of two great nations, which Turkey and the United States are both of, dealing with a very serious problem, a dictator who is in violation of U.N. resolutions.
WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn you both quickly from international money to domestic money. The latest poll from Gallup is showing that more people are rating the president's -- the current economic conditions, that is, as poor; 34 percent say they are poor, compared with 25 percent saying that in early February. Plus, today, you have the Conference Board saying consumer confidence at its lowest level since 1993.
Tucker is this a problem for this president?
CARLSON: Oh, of course it is.
I think consumer confidence drops can be tied directly to the prospect of war and the threat of terrorism. People are afraid of both of them. And so it's not surprising at all that they're going to be less confident, less likely to want to spend money, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. That's just natural and everyone knew that going in.
I think the question for Democrats is, can you get political mileage out of complaining about a president's economic program without offering up one of your own? And I think the evidence from the midterms is, no, you don't get a lot of economic mileage out of it. But they'll do it anyway. Watch.
CARVILLE: I suspect they'll be more democratic. They are right now and will be. But once we have a presidential nominee, we'll be surprised how quickly that problem will be solved.
I don't think -- again, who knows if the consumer confidence can go up. It may go down. Maybe next week, it will go up, the same with the stock market. The problem is, is this administration doesn't understand the depth and nature of the problem with the U.S. economy. And they are only -- they are a one-trick pony. They claim that tax cuts solve all problems. They've been doing it. It's not working.
The reason it's not working is, they're the wrong kind of cuts directed to the wrong people. We don't have an investment crisis in this country. We have a crisis of demand. Companies don't have any pricing power. There is no demand for goods out there. And they have entirely the wrong prescription.
How do you have 75 -- you're operating at 75 percent plant capacity and they are talking about building more plants? We don't need to build more plants. We need to put the ones that we have back up working again. And they don't understand that.
WOODRUFF: Well, for two people with such diametrically different views, you gentlemen are awfully civil today. And we appreciate that.
CARLSON: Well, thank you, Judy. It's your influence.
CARVILLE: Well, we'll try to change that between now and 7:00 tonight, if we can.
WOODRUFF: And we will be watching "CROSSFIRE" at 7:00 Eastern. Thank you both.
WOODRUFF: Straight ahead: life in the big city for a new member of Congress. We'll catch up with a fresh face here in Washington just months after we first met him down on the farm here in California.
WOODRUFF: Last fall, we reported on some fresh faces running for Congress in different parts of the country.
Well, our Bill Schneider recently caught up with one of the winners here in Washington. We wondered, how does a farmer from out West adjust to the excitement of big-time political Washington?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): A few months ago, he was Devin Nunes, dairy farmer from Tulare County, California. Now he's Devin Nunes, freshman Republican representative from California's 21st Congressional District, second youngest member of the House of Representatives.
How does his life in Washington compare with his life in Tulare County? Back in Tulare County, Nunes showed us around the farm. Here in Washington, he showed us around his new office.
(on camera): Where is your desk?
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: Right there.
SCHNEIDER: Oh, you just sit right there? Oh, I thought your desk was in here.
NUNES: I usually just meet with folks here.
SCHNEIDER: Oh, I see. So that is actually your desk.
SCHNEIDER: Now, imagine my surprise.
(voice-over): What has surprised the new congressman most about Washington?
NUNES: You know, probably the thing that surprised me the most is that I've just had a few different meetings with the press and things of that nature. And it's amazing as to how many times what you say and then what they get out of what you said is not what you actually said. They piecemeal things together.
SCHNEIDER: OK. Let's move on.
What's the life of a new congressman like? Staff meetings, scheduling, committee meetings, all day long.
NUNES: And then we go to there and then there. OK. All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Solid for 12 hours.
NUNES: Oh, good. It's an easy day.
SCHNEIDER: Interrupted by the occasional call to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 15 minutes.
SCHNEIDER: But there are all those fun-filled evenings.
NUNES: After we vote tonight, then we have an Ag Committee meeting. So we probably won't get out of here until 9:00, 10:00.
SCHNEIDER: Congressman Nunes invited us to visit his elegantly appointed congressional living quarters a few blocks from his office on Capitol Hill.
(on camera): Now, we're in your new apartment, your new home. Show me around.
NUNES: My new room, my new room.
SCHNEIDER: Your room. Show me around. What do you got here?
NUNES: This is my little couch. And that's my little kitchen table and my bed.
SCHNEIDER: But you don't take meals at your kitchen table?
NUNES: No. I think I've sat there once.
SCHNEIDER: This is a congressional refrigerator, not too well stocked.
NUNES: Not a lot in there.
SCHNEIDER: Not a lot in there.
(voice-over): Nunes has hit the big time.
NUNES: I'm paying $1,200 a month for this.
(on camera): About how many square feet is this?
NUNES: Four hundred.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But how much time does the congressman spend in his new home? NUNES: I've never even sat on my couch.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): The Washington version of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"? More like lifestyles of the busy and important. And believe me, Congressman Nunes, like most of his colleagues, wouldn't trade it for the world.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Bob Novak is here now with some "Inside Buzz."
A real glamorous life that he leads, don't you think?
ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Don't we want to be a congressman?
WOODRUFF: I don't know how many people are going to stop running after this.
What are you hearing about Miguel Estrada, the Republican strategy in the Senate and what to do about this nominee?
NOVAK: Well, the Republicans figured that they would be home at their recess last week and find out what the people wanted. Apparently, the people weren't interested in Estrada, because the Republicans have no idea what to do in the Senate.
They had a leadership meeting yesterday afternoon, couldn't figure anything out, had a luncheon of all the Republican senators, didn't figure it out. All that's decided is, they're not going to ask for a cloture vote to force an end to the filibuster, because they'd lose that. But they have no strategy for around-the-clock sessions. They don't know what to do. The Democrats are winning. But the Republicans did pick up one additional vote to vote cloture, a Democrat vote, Bill Nelson of Florida. But they're still about six votes short and no sign of getting them.
WOODRUFF: Jon Karl was telling us about that a little earlier.
Totally different story: a little speculation about somebody at the White House may be running for office in California. What about that?
NOVAK: Well, there's important people in California who would like Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser to the president, to run for the Senate next year against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer -- no strong candidate against Boxer.
But she doesn't -- Dr. Rice doesn't want to be a senator. What I'm told by good sources, however, she might like to be is governor of California, running for an open seat for governor in 2006. It's a possibility. WOODRUFF: After watching the Devin Nunes story, I can see why she might not want to serve in Congress.
One of the Cabinet members, the president's Cabinet people, going over to Eastern Europe.
NOVAK: The president's good friend Don Evans made a quick unscheduled trip this week. I think he's left for Romania and Bulgaria to talk trade with them and to try to bolster their support, buckle their support for the Iraq war. Bulgaria, of course, is a member of the United Nations Security Council. And the United States needs the Bulgarian vote.
WOODRUFF: And last, but not least, Bob, what is this, in a no- tax administration, no-tax increase administration, somebody talking about a tobacco tax?
Tommy Thompson, the secretary of HHS, his health council recommended a huge increase in taxation on tobacco. And the tobacco lobbyists were all over the telephone lines in the past week, trying to block the secretary from coming out for it. Now the HHS tells me that, in testimony this week, Tommy Thompson will not himself come out for a tobacco tax, but don't rule it out in the future. I think he likes the idea. So stay tuned on that, whether Tommy Thompson joins the tobacco taxers.
How do you feel about that, Judy?
WOODRUFF: I just listen to what you have to say and I nod my head.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak, it's great to see you. We always learn a lot when you are here.
NOVAK: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Coming up, we'll listen to the story about a senator named Zell and the new generation of hillbillies that has gotten his dander up.
WOODRUFF: Finally, an update on the upset on Capitol Hill over the upcoming TV show "The Real Beverly Hillbillies." We recently told you that Senator Zell Miller had been asked to join the campaign against the real-live version of the old TV sitcom.
Well, today, the Democrat who grew up poor in the north Georgia mountains let loose on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: What CBS and CEO Moonves propose to do with this cracker comedy is bigotry, pure and simple. CBS, Viacom, Mr. Moonves, I plead with you to call off your hillbilly hunt. Make your big bucks some other way. Appeal to the best in America and not the worst. Give bigotry no sanction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: CBS executives met with rural activists earlier this month to talk about the controversy over "The Real Beverly Hillbillies," as the show would be named, but they've given no indication that they were ready to cancel the project. We shall see.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.
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