JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Interview With John Kerry; Arnold Schwarzenegger Is In Long Beach, Not At The Debate; Overview Of Democratic Presidential Primary
Aired September 3, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Cutting to the chase in New Hampshire, where presidential politics is a primary concern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to shuffle down pretty soon and you'll probably Kerry and maybe Dean.
ANNOUNCER: We're in New Hampshire to take early snapshots of the race.
The Kerry kickoff. As the senator brings his announcement tour to New Hampshire, Judy asks him if needs to shake things up.
Wesley Clark revealed. He's been playing his presidential cards close to his vests. Now the potential candidate has something he wants to share.
Now, live from Manchester, New Hampshire, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I didn't want anyone. I know. Jason's (ph) really particular about his job.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: ...joining us.
Well, long before politics suddenly became hip out in California, presidential politics were the main event here in New Hampshire. They were a passion. In fact, they were a cottage industry.
So while we wait this hour for a campaign appearance out in California by Arnold Schwarzenegger, we have our sights set on the lead-off primary state and the lead up to Election 2004.
Senator John Kerry is here today, part of his "I am officially in the race" campaign tour. In a moment, my interview with the Democratic presidential candidate.
Kerry knows all too well that he has a fight on his hands here with a fellow New Englander.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, the only two that's really popped in my mind is Kerry and Dean.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): On the streets of Milford, it is a two- man race.
From the barber's chair in Manchester, a similar tune.
There's too many people running. It's going to shuffle down pretty soon and you're probably have Kerry and maybe Dean.
WOODRUFF: The guys at Dude's (ph) Barber Shop see the battle for New Hampshire as a Kerry/Dean showdown. And like many of their Granite State colleagues, they're split.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry, even if though he's Massachusetts, I still do like the gentleman.
WOODRUFF: That said...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more you listen to Dean, I think he's -- he's coming a long way. He's becoming very aggressive and people like him.
WOODRUFF: With Labor Day behind them, New Hampshirites are starting to focus on their big decision.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like what Dean has to say and I'm definitely interested in Kerry, as well.
WOODRUFF: OK, but what about the other seven Democrats? Like any of them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the guy -- what's his name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From -- that I like that your parents had the information on -- John...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it Edwards?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WOODRUFF: John Edwards isn't the only Democrat seeking a little traction. Despite formidable union support, Dick Gephardt's also trailing in New Hampshire.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm on visiting field here, but I can get a solid third, maybe even better.
WOODRUFF: Kerry was supposed to dominate in the Granite State but it hasn't worked out that way. The Dean phenomenon has forced the senator to recraft his campaign.
The Vermonter's progress has impressed one veteran primary watcher, Manchester Mayor Bob Banes. MAYOR BOB BANES (D), MANCHESTER, N.H.: Howard dean actually has been in New Hampshire, I think, as many -- as often as some New Hampshire residents right now. So he has been slow and steady and he's built an organization and has become a national phenomenon.
WOODRUFF: At Kerry headquarters, volunteers prepare for today's big rally. His officials promised to step it up.
JUDY REARDON, KERRY NE REGIONAL DIR.: You're going to see John Kerry in New Hampshire a lot more. We're going to be up on TV and the campaign will be in a whole new phase.
WOODRUFF: They say they were expecting a rumble.
REARDON: We've always expected New Hampshire to be a real dog fight with Howard Dean.
WOODRUFF: At Dean headquarters, they're more circumspect.
KAREN HICKS, DEAN N.H. STATE DIR.: I think it would be a mistake to write any of the other very, very strong candidates.
WOODRUFF: In the end, it could come down to message. The gentlemen at "Dude's" know what they're looking for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Country needs direction. Which one of these candidates is going to give us the best direction that we feel will be the one that we'll vote for. That's all I can tell you. Thank you very much. Over and out.
WOODRUFF: All right. We have an interview with Senator John Kerry. We're going to be airing that in just a few moments.
But right now we want to talk to someone who's been thinking about getting into this race. He is retired Army General, retired NATO Commander, General Wesley Clark. He joins us from New York City.
General Clark, thank you for being with us.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Thank you, Judy. Good to be here.
WOODRUFF: I want to ask you, first of all, you have been saying for months that you're neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Are you now ready to declare that you belong to, swear your allegiance to one party or another?
CLARK: Well, Judy, this has been a really tough transition to make out of uniform and looking at American society. You know, I was in the Ford administration, I know a lot of people who have really believed in the Republican party. I was working around the White House through the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Clinton administration. But as I've traveled around America and looked at where the country is now domestically, and looked at our policies abroad, I have to say that I'm aligned with the Democratic Party, I like the message the party has, I like what it stands for.
To start, it's a party that stands for internationalism, it's a party that stands for ordinary men and women, it's a party that stands for fair play and equity and justice and common sense and reasonable dialogue. It's a party that has had a great tradition in our country, and I'm very attracted to it and that's the party I belong to.
WOODRUFF: General, I think I can hear some Republicans out there saying, Well, this is really no surprise to us because you've been critical of Bush administration policy. You've, in effect, they think, aligned yourself with the Democrats. They might be asking, What took you so long?
CLARK: I think it's a very difficult transition for people who are in uniform and are very serious about government and public service. You know we've worn U.S. on our collars, we've served the commander in chief loyally, we don't speak out about public policy in uniform, we would never criticize the commander in chief whoever he was.
And, yet, as I looked at where the country is, where it's going, I looked at the policy that took us into Iraq. I always had my doubts about it, I was always concerned about what would happen afterwards. And, of course, so much of that has proved true. We tried to convey these concerns to people on the inside. They didn't listen, they didn't want to take them aboard.
I've looked at the tax cuts and what their impact is, I've looked at the job loss in America. There's just, to me, it's a very clear distinction between the two parties.
WOODRUFF: General, does this mean you are now closer to deciding, yes, you will run for president?
CLARK: Well, I'm closer to working my way through it. I'm understanding more and more about what partisan politics is, how political parties work.
I know that's easy looking at it from the outside. But when you're in the inside and people are asking you and coming to you and asking you to run and asking you for leadership and challenging your ideas and so forth, it's an entirely different matter.
But, yes, my family and I are moving toward closure on that issue. For us it's a question of what is the best way to contribute to the country?
WOODRUFF: Well we hear, General, that you're also interviewing people about staffing a campaign.
CLARK: Well one of the issues that's come up, Judy, is some people have said it was too late. And so I have tried to do my homework on that issue. I'm asking, Is it too late? I've talked to people about money, as well because that when you do something like this it's a profound step and you want to be sure that you're moving in a direction that makes sense.
You know, it's a very easy thing when you're in public life for people who like you to come up and praise you and ask you to do things. But the real question is, What's the actual situation? And you have to listen to the people who don't always tell you what you want to hear.
WOODRUFF: But you've said that you will decide by September the 19th whether you are going to go. And it sounds to me as if you're on the verge of deciding yes.
CLARK: Well, we are moving towards closure and I did have that speaking engagement in Iowa on September 19. So that is one of those benchmarks. But this has been a...
WOODRUFF: Closure meaning a yes? Closure meaning a yes?
CLARK: Closure meaning closure, closure meaning closure. I have not made a decision on this. And my wife and I are looking at all the facts so forth.
I'm very -- I like the other people in the race, they're great people. By the way, there's a lot of great people in the Republican Party, too, that I feel very close to and whom I admire tremendously. So this is a very tough decision.
WOODRUFF: You feel you've got a great burden off your chest by doing this?
CLARK: I think that it helps clarify the situation because I think it's easier for people to relate to you if they can put a label on there. And the label is, you know, I'd be proud and I am proud to be a Democrat.
WOODRUFF: All right. Spoken by retired Army General Wesley Clark, announcing once and for all that he's a Democrat.
General, thank you very much for talking to us. We appreciate it.
CLARK: Thank you, Judy.
(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT)
WOODRUFF: More INSIDE POLITICS in a moment. Coming up, my interview one-on-one with John Kerry.
WOODRUFF: Well, like much of the country, New Hampshire voters were divided in the last presidential election. But their greatest political influence comes earlier in the year, earlier than November, and that will be in the primary next January. With Democrats already campaigning in earnest for that big day in January, we're joined now by Kathy Sullivan. She is the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
What are Democrats in New Hampshire, Kathy Sulliva -- what are they thinking? What's on their minds? What are they looking for?
KATHLEEN SULLIVAN, CHWMN., N.H. DEM. PARTY: Well, what they're thinking about is the fact that New Hampshire lost 2,000 manufacturing jobs in 2002 and that the exports that New Hampshire sells to other countries in 2002 fell over 20 percent. We've lost more jobs in 2003, more exports have dropped off.
Because of that, people here are very concerned about the economy. There's still a lot of anger about how things went in the 2000 election. So I think Democrats are optimistic by nature, but there's also some anger and some passion there and a real desire to take back the White House in 2004.
WOODRUFF: How much -- how much have New Hampshire voters, Democratic voters, in your mind, already begun to choose up sides? I'm asking because everyone is interested in the polls here. The last poll we saw a little over a week ago showed Howard Dean 21 points ahead of John Kerry.
Now, both of these are neighboring senator and governor but do you see -- is that what you see among New Hampshire Democrats?
SULLIVAN: Yes, I -- there's no question that the two candidates who there is the most buzz about right now are Howard Dean and John Kerry. Howard Dean has -- I mean, he's got momentum. There's no question. It's been a real phenomenon the last few months.
John Kerry has got a solid core of support and right now they're the two who are really catching on in New Hampshire. That's not to say that it's over, because it's not.
New Hampshire -- you know, it's like the weather here. Primary numbers and polls change and will change back and forth and back and forth again before the primary.
WOODRUFF: What's -- what is going to determine who comes out on top in January?
SULLIVAN: I think it's that hunger to have a Democrat take back the White House in 2004. People want someone who's going to win, somebody who's got a positive vision to turn the economy around.
WOODRUFF: Ahead of policy so much, but wanting a winner is what I hear you saying.
SULLIVAN: Wanting a winner is very important.
But also the policy. We want somebody strong who is strong on the economy, somebody who's going to be honest with us on foreign policy, somehting that's been sadly missing under the Bush adminsitration. So I think economics, policy, character, someone who the voters feel comfortable with can do the job.
WOODRUFF: Right now, as you look at the organizations of the main candidates in this race, what do you see? Do you see much distinction between who's got more troops on the ground here?
SULLIVAN: Boy, that's hard to say because there's just people flooding into the state. I talked to someone from the Lieberman campaign yesterday who says we've hired 18 new people. It's wonderful. We've got kids coming in from all across the country.
WOODRUFF: It's good for the economy of New Hampshire.
SULLIVAN: It's good for the economy, but it's just -- it's just so much fun. There's so much excitement with the primary. Now that Labor Day is behind us, we've got about five-and-a-half months until the primary and it's just -- it's so much fun and it's just so exciting for us.
WOODRUFF: Is money going to be the determining factor, as well, though? How much money these candidates spend getting their message out and getting their message out in television ads?
SULLIVAN: No, money in New Hampshire is not enough. Steve Forbes learned that a couple times in New Hampshire and what matters in New Hampshire is get getting out there, meeting the voters. It's the old joke, you know, where somebody says who -- have you decided who you're going to vote for? No, I've only met them each two or three times.
SULLIVAN: People want to meet the voters, look them in the eye and ask the questions of the candidattes and get the right answers.
WOODRUFF: And there's no place in the country where more individual voters meet more candidates than right here in New Hampshire.
SULLIVAN: That's exactly right.
WOODRUFF: Kathy Sullivan, it's good to see you again.
SULLIVAN: It's good to see you.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much for talking with us.
SULLIVAN: You're very welcome.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
And coming up, that interview with John Kerry. We go one-on-one after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The John Kerry campaign plans to begin running ads here in the state of New Hampshire tomorrow. As based on his swing through this state, similar spots are airing in Iowa and pictures from his appearance there yesterday.
Well, I caught up with John Kerry in New Hampshire today and I started by asking him how much trouble he is in because of the surge of Howard Dean.
WOODRUFF: How much trouble are you in?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not in trouble, Judy. And I sort of almost object to the sense of that. It's -- you know, 66 percent of the people in America don't even know who's running for president yet. I'm not relaunching my campaign, I'm announcing my campaign. This is the first major announcement we've done.
We're starting, we're doing very well. I have an extraordinary group of people on the ground in Iowa, an extraordinary group New Hampshire. There are many things happen behind the scenes.
I've not advertised. We've done no television. Howard Dean and others have. We're just getting going. An you wait and see. I think we're going do exactly what we need to do.
WOODRUFF: We've talked this week to a number of voters here in New Hampshire, some undecided Democrats. A number of them said they wish you hadn't voted the way you did on Iraq. And one of them in fact said, Well, I think he's just another politician and he thinks it's his turn.
What do you say right now to the voters of New Hampshire who are thinking these kinds of things?
KERRY: I say to the voters of New Hampshire it's critical to choose somebody to be president who is ready to be president, who has the experience, the leadership, proven leadership skills and the ability to take this nation through a very difficult period in our history.
It is not the time for on-the-job training in foreign policy and national security issues. It's the time for real leadership.
I voted correctly on the issue of going to the United Nations and threatening force -- legitimate, real, credible threat of force -- in order to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and make our country safer.
Regrettably, this president did not use that properly. And that's the difference in a president. Our president needed to go to the United Nations and threaten force because, Judy, Hans Blix and his inspectors would never have gotten into Iraq without a legitimate threat of force. WOODRUFF: You said in your speech yesterday it was wrong to rush to war without building an international coalition. But the resolution you voted for gave the president the authority to go to war without having to have an international coalition.
KERRY: You know us better than that. You're a professional. You know how this works.
The president and Colin Powell said to us, They're going to build the coalition. Colin Powell came to our committee and said that war would be the last resort and the only reasons were weapons of mass destruction. Now there's more than just the vote. I think the vote was the right thing to do.
Bill Clinton, incidentally, went into Kosovo without any authorization from Congress. The president didn't need our authorization. What we were doing was creating a one-voice message to the United Nations, the world and Saddam Hussein. It was the right message to send and I stand by it.
WOODRUFF: But the resolution you voted for didn't require the international coalition...
KERRY: No, Judy, but the president ought to be held to his word. No, no, no, no. I said it then. I was very clear.
WOODRUFF: But you still voted with the president.
KERRY: You bet I did, because it was the right thing to do to give the president the threat of force in order to force Saddam Hussein to inspect the inspectors. We've just been through four years with no inspectors.
WOODRUFF: You said a few days ago that Howard Dean had zero experience in international affairs. I put that comment to him when I interviewed him a couple days ago and he pointed out that he's been to 50 countries, at least, outside the United States. He has more foreign policy experience than Ronald Reagan did when he was elected president.
KERRY: Well if he thinks traveling to a country is foreign policy experience that shows his inexperience. Dealing with nations in the context of treaties, arms control, national security issue, war and peace, those are the tests of experience and he does not have experience in dealing with that.
WOODRUFF: John Kerry, talking with me just this afternoon in Manchester, New Hampshire. We'll have more of that interview with Senator Kerry tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS.
Meantime, Arnold Schwarzenegger out in California talking to a crowd on this day when he is not participating in a debate. We'll have more on the debate over the debate coming up.
WOODRUFF: The California recall leads our headlines in our "Campaign News Daily". Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Long Beach at this hour, but he will not be attending the first official debate tonight among the recall candidates. Instead, Schwarzenegger says, he will take part in just 1 debate on September 24.
Responding to criticism just a short time ago, the Schwarzenegger camp asked debate organizers with the California Broadcasters Association to drop plans to provide debate questions to the candidates before the event. Well, the organizers quickly denied that request.
Also today, Schwarzenegger released new TV ads including this one, which focuses on cleaning up state government.
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ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Special interests have a strangle hold on Sacramento. Here's how it works, money comes in, favors go out, the people lose. We need to send a message, game over. If you want to change this state then join me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Schwarzenegger is expected to talk with reporters any moment now and when he does, we're going to carry his comments live.
Meantime, Governor Gray Davis has named a high profile Democrat to oversee an analysis of the state budget process. Former House Budget Committee Chairman and Clinton, White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta will tackle the job. Davis promised to create the post weeks ago as a way to help manage the state boom and bust economic cycles.
Well that is it for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But before we go, I want to thank the people at Public Service of New Hampshire for letting us use this building and their beautiful patio overlooking the Merrimack River. That's it. We'll see you tomorrow. Now we're on to "CROSSFIRE".
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