JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Sen. Roberts, Kay Cite Potential WMD Surprise; Driving Out Davis?
Aired July 31, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Where's the smoking gun?
DAVID KAY, CIA CONSULTANT ON WMD: We are in the process of conducting a serious investigation designed to uncover the truth state of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.
ANNOUNCER: The CIA's top WMD sleuth takes to the Hill for a little explaining.
Another day, another defection.
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm very proud of all the Democrats that stood by my side.
ANNOUNCER: Not all of them, Governor Gray Davis. Another Democratic Congressman is breaking ranks and he'll join us to discuss the turbulence in the Golden State.
He's the darling of the dot-com crowd, the hero of Hollywood, the toast of Manhattan. But can Howard Dean sell his message in factories and farms? We'll tell you if the candidate can bridge the class divide.
Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. President Bush rejects the notion that the U.S. hyped intelligence before going to war with Iraq. And today on Capitol Hill, a top former weapons inspector defended the progress of the Iraqi weapons hunt saying surprising evidence of the program could soon come to light. But the lack of a smoking gun continues to keep Iraq alive. It's a political attack point for Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we do not find weapons of mass destruction and we do not find that they were positioned in a way for eminent use, the credibility of the United States government abroad and the credibility of the United States government with its own people here in the United States will be significantly eroded. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: For more on all this, let's turn to CNN's congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Jon, you have before the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector David Kay. Do we know what he's saying (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well in a briefing that lasted about three hours, Kay in the first round, Kay and also General Dayton who is leading that Iraqi survey team for the Pentagon, told senators that although they have not uncovered any actual chemical or biological weapons yet, they have uncovered substantial evidence that Iraq had a program to develop such weapons.
The evidence has been compiled by the 1,500 member Iraqi survey team that General Dayton heads up. They've been scouring the country looking for both weapons and mass destruction and for evidence of Iraqi war crimes by Saddam Hussein. They say the evidence is based on thousands of documents they've assembled, visits, repeated visits and ongoing visits to suspected weapon sites, and, most importantly, with interviews with those they say were involved in developing the weapons program.
Dayton and Kay also said that they found something else and that is substantial evidence that Iraq had a program in place not only to develop weapons of mass destruction, but also to deceive those that were meant to be looking for those weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAY: We have found new evidence of how they successfully misled inspections of the U.N. and hid stuff continuously from them. The active deception program is truly amazing once you get inside it. We have people who participated in deceiving U.N. inspectors now telling us how they did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Democrats are saying the administration is trying to change the subject here, change the subject from weapons of mass destruction, which the president and his team used to justify going to war, to programs to develop such weapons. Democrats who attended the briefing saying what they heard there was not the evidence that they are looking for. They want to see evidence that the actual weapons exist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: Well there is a lot of substantial progress to be made in finding programs. And if that is the first step to finding the weapons, then I applaud that. But not as an alternative to say the war was justified because there were programs. I think the American people were expecting to find weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KARL: And most Republicans say they that expect eventually the actual weapons themselves will be uncovered. And the top Republican, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, said rather cryptically to reporters, Don't be surprised if there is a surprise that ends up changing a lot of people's minds. He wouldn't say exactly what he meant by that, though -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK. Jonathan Karl telling us about what's going on up on the Hill. Thank you, Jon.
WOODRUFF: Well some Democrats are taking issue with President Bush over the controversial issue of gay marriage. White House officials today said that a Constitutional amendment banning such unions is one option being considered.
Now, this just one day after the president again said he opposes gay marriages and is exploring legal ways to define marriage as a union between men and women. The White House says more action may be needed once two state court cases that could legalize gay marriages are decided.
One obvious point coming out of all this and that is the gay issue could be the key point in next year's presidential election. Our Bruce Morton has more on that.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court rules homosexual conduct between consenting adults is legal. Canada recognizes gay marriage and conservatives here urge a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Will this be a campaign issue? Will Republicans want it to be one?
MATT FOREMAN, NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE: I think they want to stay away from, but I don't think they're going to be able to.
MORTON: Of the nine Democratic presidential candidates, three, Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton favor gay marriage. Most of the others are for civil contracts.
If it is an issue, who does it help?
KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: We do ask people on the exit polls, Are you gay, lesbian or bisexual? And the gay vote is 2 to 1, 3 to 1, 4 to 1 Democratic.
FOREMAN: If it's anything like the '92 race, it is going to drive not just gay people in droves into the Democratic Party, but people -- moderates who are offended by the use of these kind of divisive, hateful rhetoric.
MORTON: Steve Gunderson, an openly gay Republican ex-congressman says his party can't win by attacking gays. STEVE GUNDERSON, THE GREYSTONE GROUP: They really have become active in both parties to the degree that the Republicans really cannot avoid the constituency. Even though they have a social conservative base in the primary, they recognize they can't win generals by declaring war in the gay community.
MORTON: President Bush seems not to want a war. "We are all sinners," he told reporters adding...
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.
MORTON: Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle read part of an existing law he says does that.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: The word marriage means "only a legal union between one man and one woman."
MORTON: Maybe the issue does help Democrats, but at least one, John Kerry, wasn't anxious to discuss it today.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've already commented on it. Let me grab it later.
MORTON (on camera): The Supreme Court ruling has caused a backlash. In a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll back in May, 60 percent said they thought homosexual conduct between consenting adults should be legal. Now that the Supreme Court has said it is legal, just 48 percent now agree.
Civil contracts for homosexual couples? Back in May that a dead heat, 49 percent for, 49 against. Now, just 40 percent say they're in favor, 57 percent are opposed.
So there is a backlash. The only question is will it last long enough to be an issue in Campaign 2004?
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: And our discussion on the gay marriage issue continues in a few minutes with I'm joined by Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan.
Up until a few months ago Howard Dean was barely a blip on the national political radar screen. Now, though the former governor of Vermont ranks among the top contenders in a crowded field of Democrats fighting to take on President Bush in the next year's election. Bill Schneider looks at what has triggered the Dean surge.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): They've been called eggheads, yuppies, Volvo voters, NPR voters, the brie and Chablis crowd. They're educated, upper-middle professionals who burst on to the political scene in 1968 with Eugene McCarthy's anti-Vietnam War campaign. They rallied behind George McGovern, Gary hart in 1984, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Bill Bradley in 2000.
Now they're rallying behind a new favorite: former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. He's an educated, upper-middle class professional, a physician to be precise. He's anti-war, in case, the war in Iraq.
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I question the judgment of those who let us into this conflict, this unfinished conflict, that has made us unbalanced not more secure, but less so.
SCHNEIDER: Dean support rises sharply with education. Dean gets 6 percent of the vote among high school-educated Democrats, 8 percent among the college-educated and 23 percent among Democrats with a postgraduate degree where he leads the field.
In New Hampshire, Dean leads John Kerry by more than 10 points among Democrats with a college degree. Dean has often been criticized as a left-wing candidate, but that's not quite true.
DEAN: I'm very conserved about money, much more so than this president. I believe in balanced budget.
SCHNEIDER: Dean's view moderate on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues and Iraq, fit his upscale base very well. Americans with postgraduate degrees are most likely to say Iraq was not worth going to war over.
Dean is the hot candidate in Manhattan and Hollywood and among the wired dot-com crowd. But the heart of the Democratic Party has always been in the union halls, the farms and the intercities where Dean is not showing much strength. Yesterday, John Kerry moved to exploit that vulnerability.
KERRY: I see that there are some Democrats running around who think that somehow the way to start the economy up is to tax people at the lowest end of the income scale.
SCHNEIDER: Like you know who.
DEAN: Most of the people who are running up here either voted for or supported substantial tax cuts.
SCHNEIDER: Dean's criticism of Bush's tax cuts resonates with his upscale supporters. People with postgraduate degrees think the tax cuts were a bad idea. But few others do.
SCHNEIDER: As Dean gets stronger, expect to hear his competitors sound like born again populists fighting the takeover of their party by e-mail addicts. It's not a ideological split, it's a class split -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
And when we come back, the drive to oust California Governor Gray Davis. California Congressman Brad Sherman joins me to talk about the recall race.
Plus, summer vacation in Iowa. One presidential candidate heads to the Hawkeye State with his family. I'll tell you about their action-packed itinerary.
You're watching INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: Dick Gephardt is poised to scoop up a powerhouse labor endorsement. Sources tell us that the Teamsters are gearing up to back the '04 hopeful. The union's executive board is set to vote on the matter tomorrow. The backing of the 1.4 million member union is one of the biggest coups of the campaign so far. Gephardt wrapped up more labor support today, winning the blessing of three maritime unions.
California Governor Gray Davis says he will not ask taxpayers to foot the bill for his campaign if he wins the recall election. The state's constitution stipulates that Davis is entitled to recoup his -- the cost for the recall, money he spends, but only if he prevails in October. Today the governor announced he will not take the money.
Meantime, columnist Arianna Huffington says that she will announce next week if she'll get into the chaotic contest. She says her decision hinges on whether Senator Dianne Feinstein throws her hat in the ring.
Feinstein has said herself she has no interest in the race, but that is not quieting her fans. At least three members of California's Congressional delegation are said to be urging Feinstein to run.
Representative Brad Sherman is one of them and he joins me to talk about the recall.
Why not take Governor Davis at his word? he says virtually all of the Democrats are with me and they're not going to challenge?
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: We are all with him on the part of the ballot that concerns him. The first half of the ballot says recall and we are all with Gray Davis in saying vote no on the recall. It's bogus. It's ill-considered. It's a waste of $30 million to have the election.
The second part of the ballot is hopefully irrelevant. That part says, Well, if do you recall the governor, who is going to be the successor governor? And this would be a chance for us to put our strongest possible candidate on the second part of the ballot, to drive turnout, to give us a better chance of prevailing on the first part. WOODRUFF: But, Congressman, doesn't that completely undermine the governor? Because by having a strong Democrat, whether it's Dianne Feinstein or somebody else, you -- aren't you just cutting the legs out from under the governor you say you're supporting?
SHERMAN: No, I think that when -- first of all, it drives turnout, because if you could have Dianne Feinstein and Gray Davis, in effect, on the ballot, holding joint rallies, urging people to go out and vote Democrats will turn out. Otherwise, this will be an election galvanized by rightwing Populism, galvanized by a bad turn out. The other...
WOODRUFF: But what's to stop Dianne Feinstein from going out and campaigning for Gray Davis now? I mean, she -- she says she's with him, but actually we haven't seen her with him very much.
SHERMAN: Well, she's here working, literally.
SHERMAN: But the thing is, if you're not on the ballot, you don't drive turnout. I mean, Al Gore is popular with California Democrats, did very well just three years ago. And, yet, Al Gore touring the state urging people to vote -- he's not on the ballot. People turn out if somebody they like is on the ballot. There are people who like Gray. There are other people who -- and more people who like Dianne. Let's get them all out to the polls.
WOODRUFF: How many Democrats agree with you privately but aren't saying all this publicly, as you are?
SHERMAN: The majority of elected officials that I've talked to would like to see us do this. Now, look...
WOODRUFF: Would like to get Dianne Feinstein on the ballot?
SHERMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
First, it gives us a better way to drive turnout.
Second, it gives us a second way to beat this Republican recall. If the voters make a mistake and vote for the recall, then the second part of the ballot is important. And with us not having a candidate there, we have only one way to crush this Republican recall. We need two ways.
WOODRUFF: Your point is that Davis himself can't have his name on the replacement ballot, so if it goes down, if he goes down to recall, you're saying there's no Democrat there to stay in the place?
SHERMAN: Well, there might -- they'll be someone like Arianna Huffington, perhaps, if she chooses to run as a Democrat. There won't be somebody who can come in first. It's only going to take 20, 30 percent of the vote to come in first. Dianne might get double that number of votes if she was on the second. WOODRUFF: What do you think the chances are she's going to agree to do this? I mean, she has said right up until this minute that she's not going to do it. What do you -- what do you think the chances are she's going to change her mind? There are polls being done right now, I assume?
SHERMAN: If she changes her mind, it won't be for her own personal fulfillment or her own personal desire. She wants to be here in Washington. She's done everything possible to beat this recall and, yet, I think if she analyzed this, she'll realize that sometimes in public life, you have to do what the party needs and what the state needs and the whole country needs this because if this recall is successful, the Republicans will do it elsewhere and will undermine constitutional government in the various states. We need to beat this. We need to crush it anyway we can.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Brad Sherman, a congressman from the state of California, thank you very much. We appreciate you talking to us today.
WOODRUFF: You can bet we're going to stay on top of this story. All right.
When we return, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile go head-to-head over the politics of the gay marriage issue.
WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.
Let's talk about civil union is talk about the whole issue of gay marriage, civil unions, there's now become talk about gay unions in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. You have the president yesterday saying, We're looking at to ways to codify this.
Donna, could Democrats end up being vulnerable on this issue?
DONNA BRAZILE, FRM. GORE CAMPAIGN MGR.: I don't think so. The leading presidential candidates are against gay marriage. And besides, we already have a federal law that prohibits anyone from entering into civil unions at the federal level.
So I think this is a non-issue. Clearly, the right-wing is in need of red meat and someone should throw them a hot potato like jobs and health care and give them something to really rally behind and not try to gout there and present wedge another issue.
WOODRUFF: It was Bill Clinton that signed this language last, when he was president.
BAY BUCHANAN, PRES., AMERICAN CAUSE: And it's the Supreme Court that has basically made this decision that's forced us to take the next step is to somehow codify marriages, a union between man and women.
And this is a win/win for Republicans -- Donna's totally wrong, I think here, Judy -- in the sense that Republicans are going to be out there saying, We're for traditional marriage, we want preserve the sacred institution.
And Democrats are going to have to make call. They're going to spilt with they base. I think it's going to have some impact in energizing George Bush's base for a presidential election. But where it's going to be very damaging for Democrats is in local and state elections where if this becomes a Constitutional amendment those states are going to be looking at sate legislators who...
BRAZILE: ... I think Vice President Cheney will be a spokesperson for this movement because in 2000, in a debate with Joe Lieberman, he said that people should be able to enter into any kind of relationship they desire and the government should butt out.
I think that's a real issue here. The issue is domestic partnership and giving gays and lesbians the same rights as all other American citizens to visit and sit with their loved one in a hospital, to be able to inherit their property and Social Security benefits. Vice President Cheney was right when he said that people should enter into any relationship that they want to.
BUCHANAN: But, Donna, it was -- Republicans have not had much to say about this. They've allowed states to move ahead and make these decisions. It is the Supreme Court and the gay community who is pushing gay marriage. And when you push that, we push back because we feel this is something that a has to be preserved.
That's where the Democrats are making a mistake. And I think when you talking civil unions, you're going to start turning off more and more Democrats. Moderates are going to come our way...
BRAZILE: We'll just have Vice President Cheney and he'll bring those compassionate conservatives along.
BUCHANAN: He's going to stay in his hiding place.
WOODRUFF: We're going to quickly move over to those 16 words in the State of the Union. The president again talked about it, but this time, he says he's responsible for this 16-word claim in the State of the Union that Iraq was trying to get nuclear weapons from Africa.
Donna, is this the end of this or not? I mean the president's taken responsibility, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice.
BRAZILE: Yes, he was running out of people to blame, so I think next in line would have been Barney and Spot the dogs. So I think the president did the right thing yesterday in taking full responsibility. But I don't think this is over with. The issue is really not about the administration credibility. On some of the other statements they made in the State of the Union, the imminent danger, the 45- minute threat that Saddam posted to this country. This is about our intelligence and whether or not it's credible and reliable for the future. So I don't think this issue is behind him.
BUCHANAN: I think it's clear that George Bush did the right thing. He's not willing to serve up somebody's head in order to please the Democrats or the media. But the key here is he's taken responsibility. He said the war is justified, we move ahead. I take responsibility for that as well.
But the key here is the Democrats. The leaders in this party, Judy, are looking like hyenas in "The Lion King." They're carping and complaining and whining. And they have nothing positive to say in this negative, partisan crowd, mean-spirited. Cannot one of them beat amiable George Bush?
BRAZILE: Well you know what? If Bush continues to slip and slide on this issue and other issues, Democrats will find a way to beat him in 2004.
BUCHANAN: Good luck. Not with that lot, you're not going to.
WOODRUFF: Remembering this "Lion King" business, we'll have to talk about that one later.
WOODRUFF: Thank you both.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
Well checking the headlines in "Our Campaign News Daily," the '04 Dems are hitting California today, but most are not looking to jump into the recall fray. Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich all in San Francisco for a health care forum sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. John Kerry will participate via satellite from Boston.
And it is the new must-have political accessory and now Tom Daschle's getting one. Yes, the Senate minority leader is launching his very own Web log next month. He will chronicle his travels around South Dakota during the coming Congressional recess. We can't wait to read it!
Still ahead, a fun-filled Iowa vacation is in the works for the family of one presidential candidate. We'll take a look at the action-packed itinerary when we return.
WOODRUFF: If you haven't still come up with a summer vacation plan, you might want to follow the footsteps of Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham. Graham is taking his family to Iowa next week. We're sure it's a coincidence, the state that holds the nation's first presidential caucuses.
But among their stops, the Iowa State Fair, the grand opening of his headquarters in Des Moines, an ice cream social, a sweet corn festival, a tour of the bridges of Madison County. And that's not all. There's also time for trout fishing and an Iowa Cubs baseball game. What more could one want?
That's it for our INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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