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Are Americans Nervous About Possible Labor Day Terror?

Aired August 28, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: The fear factor: watching terror unfold in Iraq, are Americans more anxious about an attack here?
This hour, new poll numbers and what they may mean for President Bush.

Covering new ground: Arnold Schwarzenegger takes his campaign a little farther from home after staking his turf on social issues.




ANNOUNCER: Martin Luther King's dream, then and now, through the eyes of a congressman who helped lead the march on Washington.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: And I think 40 years later, we're too quiet. We're too patient, too complacent.


ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us. We begin with Americans on alert for terror.

A Bush administration official says there are no plans to raise the threat level for Labor Day weekend. But our new poll, out this hour, suggests the public may be anxious anyway, particularly after the recent attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed say that an act of terrorism is likely somewhere in the U.S. in the next few weeks. Concern about an imminent terror attack had been declining since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq back in May.

Seventy-nine percent of those polled said they expect the war on terror will require U.S. troops to be sent into combat again.

Such a mission, if it were to happen, would likely be a factor in the 2004 presidential race. Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is with the president in Crawford, Texas. John, Bush advisers to the president, are they concerned about this terror, not only the threat of terror, but the reality that the war on terror is going to continue?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, they're concerned, and they say they're not guided by any polling numbers when the president discusses the war in public. But the president says in virtually every speech, whether it is a policy speech or a political fund- raising speech, that this nation is still at war and will be at war at least through his presidency and perhaps through the next four years, whether he is re-elected or not, and even into the foreseeable future.

So in a sense this poll reflects the rhetoric that the American people hear directly from the president.

Now, advisers will tell you privately that from a political standpoint, if Americans believe the president and believe that there is a high risk of terrorist attack, that that at least indirectly helps the president when he makes his case to Congress for more money, when he makes his case to Congress to continue troop deployment overseas.

But they say they don't view this through a political prism. But certainly Judy almost emerging in the early Democratic campaigns for the nomination is the question that could define next year.

Is the war on terrorism still going on because of any flaws in the president's strategy? Many of the Democrats say the answer to that question is yes. They say Mr. Bush should have built more support. They say Mr. Bush should have focused on al Qaeda, not Iraq. That is a debate that will continue in the months ahead.

WOODRUFF: John, separately today, word from the North Koreans about their nuclear capability. Any concern at the White House that this may undermine their efforts to persuade people that this president can keep on top of several hot spots around the world at once?

KING: Judy, a startling statement from the North Koreans today and the Bush administration is going to great lengths to play it down and to try to say that perhaps this is just bluster from the North Koreans.

As for the statement itself, we are told by several U.S. officials that North Korea's deputy foreign minister told six-party negotiations underway in Beijing today that include the United States that North Korea was preparing to go public and declare itself a nuclear power, that it was contemplating testing its nuclear weapons to prove it to the world that it had them and that it also had beyond any reasonable doubt the means to deliver those weapons.

Now the statement was said a day after the U.S. made clear that the only successful outcome of these talks could be a commitment from North Korea to permanently end its nuclear weapons program. So from the U.S. perspective, North Korea is being belligerent. The question now, U.S. officials say, is does North Korea mean it? Will it declare itself a nuclear power, or is this just bluster and belligerence to try to strengthen its hand in the negotiations? We can't answer that question today, Judy.

This much is clear. If North Korea went forward and publicly declared itself a nuclear power, the president would have a tough time, as he has said for months, that this is not a crisis because he's on record saying, he, quote, "will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Very, very tricky thing at best.

John, one other question about -- a domestic question and that is about the U.S. economy. There's new economic growth numbers out. What are the people around the president saying in terms of how they expect to play this as the official campaign season gets underway with Labor Day coming?

KING: Well, the president is happy, Judy, that the economy is growing and rebounding. The gross domestic product readjusted up to 3.1 percent last month. That is a good beginning to be a robust economic rebound, and the Bush administration says the president welcomes those numbers.

But they also say, because they're mindful the unemployment rate is still 6.2 percent, that he will not be satisfied until every American can look for work and find a job.

They are guided by history here. If you go back and look at 1991, the economy was coming out of a recession, as it is now. The growth numbers back at this point in 1991 were 2.3 percent. They were not in the third power to go even higher. Mr. Bush's father lost reelection. They know the American people focus more on unemployment than they do on the growth rate the government says the economy has -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. John King reporting for us from the Bush White House in Texas. Thanks, John.

Well, criticism of the president's economic and military policies lead the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily."

Retired General Wesley Clark has made national security a centerpiece in his speeches around the country. Now the party chairman says that he thinks Clark is going to run for the White House.

The "Des Moines Register" reports DNC leader Terry McAuliffe told Iowa's governor, Tom Vilsack, yesterday that he believes Clark will enter the race. Meanwhile, the group hoping to draft Clark into the campaign begins running this TV ad next week in Clark's home state of Arkansas, touting Clark's security credentials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Wesley Clark has the credibility to take on George Bush, to challenge him about why Osama bin Laden is still at large, why al Qaeda is still planning new terror attacks and why we're fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq with little international support, costing us Billions and taking American lives every day.


WOODRUFF: says that it has $1 million in pledges from potential Clark backers, ready to jump-start a campaign if Clark enters the race.

Senator John Kerry, meanwhile, is promoting his economic plan for the nation. He unveiled a proposal at the University of New Hampshire just a few hours ago. The two-year plan includes $25 Billion to help states cut their debt, tax relief for the middle class and repeal of tax cuts for top-income earners.

Now the latest snapshots from California's recall extravaganza.

The nation's oldest Hispanic civil rights group is calling on Arnold Schwarzenegger to step down from the advisory board of a group seeking to make English the official language of the U.S. The group says that Schwarzenegger's position raises questions about his commitment to Latinos.

Schwarzenegger campaigns today in conservative-leading Fresno, which is home to many Hispanics.

Schwarzenegger's leading rival, Democrat Cruz Bustamante, today accused big oil companies of gas-price gouging and said he looked forward to another possible campaign boost.

The state Democratic Party is planning to hold a special convention on September 13 to decide whether to back the no on recall, yes on Bustamante platform.

With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Donna, a lot of -- more talk from Arnold Schwarzenegger over the last few days, most of it in these radio interviews. This magazine article about some language, very strong language used about his sex life back 25 years ago. To what extent is that going to have any effect on this campaign?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think it's going to have a lot of effect on his campaign because, look, he's trying to run as a moderate in a state that is quite liberal, I believe.

But at the same time, he's running a family values package. And the wrapping just came off with this disclosure that while he was young, like most Republicans, when he was too young to know any better, he made some youthful indiscretions that he's now going to have to explain to the voters. After all, do they want to see someone in the governor's seat, Bay, whose parents can turn on the TV and says, that's the guy who wants to pump up Sacramento?

BAY BUCHANAN, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, Donna, I wish you'd listen to you and distance himself. I read a couple pages of the summary of this interview and it is the most revolting couple pages I've ever been exposed to, not only the language, but the things that he voluntarily stated he was involved in is as decadent as it comes. And he needs to distance himself, not say, "Oh, I wasn't running for governor then."

It's never all right to be acting like that, and he is a role model of young people. I think this can begin -- It's not going to help them. There's no question, Judy, it's not going to help his election. He should distance himself, say what Donna just said, that's when I was younger, I was foolish and I'm humiliated by that and I'm very ashamed...

BRAZILE: Like the president, I grew up at age 40.


But at the same time, the social conservatives are not in his camp. This isn't like all of a sudden you're going to lose an enormous number of support. They're already with Tom McClintock, who's a first class candidate and very enthusiastic.

But he needs every vote he can get. So those who might have voted for him that are disgusted by this, if he doesn't distance himself, he may lose.

BRAZILE: Laura Clinton (ph) must be upset that he's stealing her sound bite.

WOODRUFF: Quick question about the presidential campaign, which we've all but forgotten about, it seems like, in the last few days. Howard Dean moving around the country, raising a lot of money. New poll out in New Hampshire has him ahead of John Kerry. Donna, is there any stopping Howard Dean?

BRAZILE: I don't think there's no stopping. Right now Howard Dean is in the driver's seat. And unless his campaign veered too far off his message, too far off course and, of course, collide with his message, then I think Dean is right now the candidate to be.

He is in the driver's seat. He has a real large following of voters. And I also think that he's picking up some of that money that God knows, I never saw it exist before in the Democratic Party.

BUCHANAN: And you know, he's running a very smart campaign. He came as someone who was coming from behind. He recognized the strategy was Iowa, New Hampshire where he's going to have to really upset things and he's moved ahead in both of those.

Then when the race was frozen, I thought he peaked too early, Judy, a couple months too early. But luckily for him it froze. The whole focus went on California and he's gone underground and just moved and built that grassroots campaign.

WOODRUFF: In other words, he's benefited from the...?

BUCHANAN: He's enormously benefited, I think, from this. I think if the establishment would have turned on him, and he'd have been in the defensive for many months. He could have overcome it. It would have been much tougher than having these couple months frozen.

BRAZILE: But it's still too early. And I wouldn't write off John Kerry. He's a strong candidate. Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and Bob Graham and the others. Of course, I have to mention all of them.

WOODRUFF: Spoken like a good Democrat.

BUCHANAN: I'm upset you didn't mention him. You got them all.

BRAZILE: Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun and soon to be Wesley Clark. Absolutely.

BUCHANAN: Who must have lost his mind, speaking about running at this stage.

WOODRUFF: Bay and Donna, thank you both.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: See you next Thursday.

All right. Still ahead, Arnold's ad war. How much is he spending and what is his on-air strategy in the days ahead?


LEWIS: We're tired of being treated (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We're tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again and then, how long can we be patient?

WOODRUFF: I will talk with Congressman John Lewis 40 years after he helped lead the march on Washington.

And later, shades of 2000, Bush and Gore co-star in an '04 campaign ad.


WOODRUFF: These are live pictures of a story we are following right now in Dallas, Texas, in the town of Willow Park. A rescue attempt underway at a water tower where a painter was working on the tower when there was an equipment failure. The basket in which the painter was working from became apparently disengaged and is now dangling, we are told, from the tower.

It's a little hard to tell from these pictures exactly what is going on. But clearly the man is in some danger and rescue officials are working hard to set him -- to get him to a safe place.

But, again, these are live pictures coming in to CNN from our affiliate KTVT in the Dallas area. Willow Park just outside of Dallas. We're following the story.

We'll be back in just a minute.


WOODRUFF: Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech 40 years ago today.

The official observance was last Saturday on the national mall. But a smaller march was held today in King's hometown of Atlanta.

Democratic presidential candidate Reverend al Sharpton was among those who attended the Atlanta observance. Sharpton also used the occasion to unveil his education platform.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman used the anniversary to talk about the civil rights movement with a class at Howard University.

With me now from Atlanta to talk more about the march on Washington 40 years ago is the man who shared the stage with Dr. King on that day. He's Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.

Congressman John Lewis, you were 23 years old at the time. You were leading a student group. You were -- You're now the only surviving of the six who spoke to that crowd. How important was that day to the civil rights movement?

LEWIS: Judy, that day was very important to the civil rights movement. It was a turning point in the movement.

On that day, there was a sense that we were on our way toward the creation of a truly interracial democracy in America, toward dealing what Dr. King called the beloved community. There was a sense that the Congress and the president of the United States would listen and respond to the petition of the American people. More than 250,000 black and white citizens came to Washington on that day.

WOODRUFF: It was 40 years ago. Clearly much left to be done. But do you agree with the words today of Martin Luther King III, the son of the late leader, who said that blacks are worse off today than they were then?

LEWIS: Oh, I don't agree. I don't think we're worse off. I don't know the context that Martin Luther King III said that.

I say to people who say that nothing has changed, that they're worse off, come and walk in my shoes. We live in a much better country and we are much better people.

Forty years ago, there was still signs in the American south saying "white waiting, color waiting, white men, colored men, colored women, white women." Those signs are gone.

Forty years ago, I could not register to vote in my native state of Alabama. I was outside protesting, looking in. Today I'm a member of Congress, I'm on the inside making laws.

Forty years ago there was a tremendous amount of fear. Today the fear is gone. And in some towns and rural communities in the American south, we're doing things together that was almost unthinkable 40 years ago.

WOODRUFF: Something else Martin Luther King II, said today, his father would have opposed not only the war in Iraq, but also the war in Afghanistan, and he described the United States today as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Do you agree with that?

LEWIS: Well, Dr. King often spoke against war and against violence. When he spoke out against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967, one year to the date before he was assassinated, he said America was one of the greatest purveyors of violence. Dr. King would have been against the war, because he was a man of peace.

WOODRUFF: Do you think that's still true today?

LEWIS: Oh, I think Dr. King even today would be preaching against war, against violence and ask to lay down the tools and instruments of violence and war, not just in America or in the Middle East, but around the world.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe, John Lewis, that the generation that came along after you is as engaged as it needs to be, as it has needed to be in this great civil rights struggle?

LEWIS: I don't think the generation that came on after us, and I don't think the young people today and not just young people, but those of us that are not so young, are engaged as we should be.

People need to be standing up, speaking out and speaking up. They need to be pushing and pulling and agitating for what is right and what is fair and what is just. We're just a little too quiet in America 40 years later. We need to regain that sense of passion.

WOODRUFF: Will there ever be a time to rest and to say, "We have accomplished a great deal of what we wanted"?

LEWIS: Well, there would never be a time that we can rest, because the struggle is not a struggle that lasts one day, one week, one year or for 40 years. The struggle is a struggle of a lifetime. We must create a truly -- movement where people are truly free, create a country, create a world that is at peace with itself.

WOODRUFF: Representative John Lewis, who shared the stage with Reverend Martin Luther King on the day of the march on Washington 40 years ago this day.

Representative Lewis, good to see you. Thank you very much.

LEWIS: Good to see you, Judy. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Up next, the race is on and the California airwaves are filling fast. Which candidates are already running TV ads, and what can we expect to see in the days and weeks ahead?


WOODRUFF: California voters already are seeing the first of what promise to be a blizzard of recall TV ads.

I talked about the battle for the airwaves yesterday with Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence. It's a company that tracks TV ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets.


WOODRUFF: Let's talk first about Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's got an ad running. Let's look at just a part of it. And then I want to ask you about it.


SCHWARZENEGGER: I want to be the people's governor. I will work honestly without fear or favor to do what is right for all Californians.

ANNOUNCER: Join Arnold and let's bring California back.


WOODRUFF: Now, this is an ad that's running where and how much is it costing him? And what's he doing?

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: Well, Judy, it's a large significant statewide buy for this unusual recall.

He spent about $1.4 million in his first week statewide, with the majority of that money being spent between San Francisco and L.A., but he is buying all the markets in the state.

To put this in perspective, in 2002, Governor Gray Davis spent just about $2.1 million of what would be essentially the same time, about five weeks out before the election.

WOODRUFF: What about Schwarzenegger and the potential that he has, the money that he potentially could spend for the next five weeks of this campaign? And then the other candidates out there.

TRACEY: It's going to be a lot of money. I mean, Judy, we're looking at an excess of $35 million being spent probably over the next five weeks, with obviously Arnold Schwarzenegger having very deep pockets but also Gray Davis has deep pockets to draw on.

We think that one thing to be watchful for is the role the Hispanic media may place in this race. Candidates in 2002 used Hispanic TV for the Democratic side. In other words, Governor Davis spent about $2 million on Hispanic TV, where Republicans spent a little less than $300,000. If Arnold Schwarzenegger feels he can make an impact that that voter block, watch for him to go on Hispanic TV soon.

WOODRUFF: And you've got a Hispanic candidate in Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor.

TRACEY: Right. And if Schwarzenegger has any success there, you know, watch for those candidates to also have to run Hispanic TV.

TRACEY: Now, you have an independent candidate, prominent independent in Arianna Huffington. She has an ad running. We may be able to show a little of it. What does this ad do for her, and how much is it running?

TRACEY: Well, she's doing it with an unconventional candidate would do. In other words, she's produced a very good spot that appeals to sort of the disenfranchised voters of California, but she hasn't paid to air it yet. It's primarily within the California press and on the national political press.

WOODRUFF: Doing her a favor?

TRACEY: She's looking to use the ad as a way to raise money so she can actually buy time with the ad.

WOODRUFF: Now, you've also got some so-called issue groups that are out there, not specifically affiliated with any candidate, but they do, in their mind, have a horse in this race. Talk about how much money they may spend.

TRACEY: Right. We have our eye currently on three issue groups, the first being Indian gaming.

They're not a stranger to using television advertising. They've already spent about $7 million this year on California TV to affect legislation, not specifically on the recall yet, but if they feel that there's going to be an impact on the gaming industry, we look for them to spend considerable amounts of money.

Labor is another group that is not shy to use TV ads in a campaign. And with yesterday's "no on the recall, yes on Bustamante," we look for labor to get involved. They've already spent about $10 million nationwide in other states. So labor, again, is not afraid to participate.

And then finally, the Republican Leadership Council is a group we have our eye on. They are a moderate Republican issue group that has already sort of indicated they plan to supporting Schwarzenegger's campaign.

So we think we're going to have a very busy five weeks.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Evan Tracey talking about the ads in the California recall contest.

Now we want to quickly update you on that story we told you about a few minutes ago just outside of Dallas in the suburb of Willow Park.

A worker who was painting a new water tower, his safety basket somehow became unharnessed, and now there are safety -- there is a rescue crew working frantically to get the man free.

We are told that he is -- his basket right now is harnessed in a way that he should be in no danger, but clearly rescue officials want to get in there and get him out of there as quickly as they can.

This, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: Charges could be filed soon against South Dakota Republican Congressman Bill Janklow for his role in a deadly traffic accident.

Investigators say Janklow was driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit when his car ran a stop sign and collided with a man on a motorcycle. The man was killed. Janklow is recovering from his injuries.

Consumer activist Ralph Nader today called on Janklow to resign from Congress.

We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: CNN will have more on that rescue attempt to get the painter who was working on a water tower in the Dallas suburb of Willow Park. We'll bring that to you as we get more information.

Meantime, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.


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