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Appeals Court Will Reconsider Recall Delay; Interview With Ted Kennedy

Aired September 19, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: The Bush administration puts on a happy face. Can a new focus on the positive strategy on Iraq drown out Democratic criticism?

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's the wrong war, at the wrong time. There was no imminent threat to the United States.

ANNOUNCER: Senator Edward Kennedy joins us to talk war and politics.

Should these Democrats be dancing? While Davis and Gore rock against the recall, a court decided to reconsider delaying the vote.

A new recall odd couple. Democrat Cruz Bustamante and Republican Tom McClintock try a one-two bunch on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Let's limbo. Are there rewards to be had for leaving more than chads hanging?

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Governor Gray Davis says he just wants to get it over with. But the fate and the day of the California recall election is now in the hands of 11 federal judges. About two hours ago, the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals decided that it will reconsider the ruling that put the October 7 vote on hold.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has more from Los Angeles -- Candy.


Put this one down on your recall calendar. Next Monday, 4:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 1:00 p.m. here in the West. That's when 11 judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about whether to delay that October 7 recall until the punch ballot voting machines can be replaced. Three judges from the same court ruled in favor of a delay.

And on this much, Gray Davis and his opponents agree. The court ought to put the election back on track.


GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: My answer is let's just get it over with. Let's just have this election on October 7, put this recall behind us so we can get on to governing in the state of California.


CROWLEY: Davis spoke just after an event that was held with another cameo appearance from a national figure and that is, of course, Al Gore. You see him there. He is a walking, talking reminder of Gray Davis' main argument, that this recall is another Republican effort to steal an election.


AL GORE (D), FMR. VICE PRESIDENT: When we vote and when the majority votes to have a particular set of policies and ideas and individuals to be controlling the course of our future, then nobody ought to overturn the say of the people. The people ought to govern themselves.


CROWLEY: Of course, as we've noted often, the campaign goes on even though the recall election date is on hold.

Right now, still involved in the debate on the debates. Cruz Bustamante, the Democratic lieutenant governor and Tom McClintock, Arnold Schwarzenegger's chief rival are still threatening not to come to next week's debate unless the debate sponsors don't do the form they want to do which is, of course, to put the questions out in advance. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for his part says he still plans to attend that debate, the only one he has agreed to -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley. Boy, does it stay curious out there. Thanks very much.


WOODRUFF: Now we turn to the politics of Iraq and how the Bush administration is dealing with a growing political assault by Democrats.

Consider these developments in recent days. A prominent anti-war voice, General Wesley Clark, joining the Democratic presidential race. Two senior House Democrats urging President Bush to fire the advisers behind his Iraq policy. And now Senator Edward Kennedy charging that the decision to go to war in Iraq was a fraud made up in Texas to give Republicans a political boost.

But the White House response seems to be to emphasize the positive and let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King. So, John is that what they're saying?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is a big part of the strategy, Judy. The White House knows there's rising skepticism in the polls, rising criticism from the Democrats and rising fear, if you will, among Republicans on Capitol Hill who say this White House must do a better job communicating its Iraq strategy and its Iraq policy.

One of the administration's goals now is, as you know, to focus on the positive. Today the lead in that effort fell to the secretary of state, Colin Powell. He is just back from a trip to Iraq. And writing in "The Wall Street Journal," Secretary Powell says, yes, there are security problems in Iraq. He acknowledges that. But he also says there's a great deal of progress that, in his view, is being overshadowed.

In Secretary Powwll's op-ed he writes, for example, that all of the major cities in 85 percent of Iraq's towns now have governing counseling. He says the schools and the universities are reopened. Most of the major hospitals and the health major clinics are up and running. So the administration trying now to say, yes there are some problems, but that what is being overlooked is what Secretary Powell called a transformation in Iraq. That, again, part of the new administration's strategy to focus on what it calls is significant progress.

And on that front, there is an encouraging note for the White House in the words of one leader, international leader who fiercely opposed the war in Iraq. The German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, is among those, of course, who have a key voice in the debate ongoing at the United Nations. And Chancellor Schroeder writing an op-ed piece of his own today, his in "The New York Times" and he says this, "It is true that Germany and the United States disagreed on how best to deal with Saddam Hussein's regime. There is no point in continuing this debate. We should now look toward the future. We must work together to win the peace. The United Nations must play a central role."

Now, Chancellor Schroeder went on to say Germany is prepared to not only send humanitarian aid to Iraq, but also to help train security forces and with the reconstruction effort.

So Judy, the administration trying to find consensus at the United Nations. It used these comments from the German chancellor as potentially very helpful and it will continue to stress that there is progress being made. Don't look for that to quiet the critics. But the administration is trying more aggressively, anyway, to fight back -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And John, no animus toward Senator Kennedy's very tough words saying this was politically motivated. That in essence, it was a fraud on the American people.

KING: White House officials are privately saying that they think the senator's speech was out of bounds. You're hearing criticism from administration allies on Capitol Hill, saying Democrats should repudiate Senator Kennedy. This White House says that what we have now is the Democrats seeing a political opening. The White House is hoping to say this is all politics. But remember, it needs that $87 billion to pay for the war from Congress. It is going to face more criticism and more questions in the days ahead.

WOODRUFF: All right. John King at the White House.

And as you're hearing from John, while the administration is trying to sound upbeat about Iraq, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay unleashed an angry response to Senator Edward Kennedy's criticism. DeLay said -- quote -- "I call on the vociferous Democratic critics from Kerry to Dean and from Daschle to Pelosi to have the courage to tell their hero, Ted Kennedy, that he went too far" -- endquote. And he added, "It is disturbing that Democrats have spewed more hateful rhetoric at President Bush than they ever did at Saddam Hussein."

Well, Senator Edward Kennedy joins us now from Boston.

Senator, hateful rhetoric at the president -- is that what this is?

KENNEDY: Well, it's basically politics as usual. This is the same kind of response that the Republicans had for Max Cleland when they called him unpatriotic after he lost three limbs in Vietnam. It's the same kind of rhetoric from the Republicans that they had for Tom Daschle when he questioned the administration's policy.

It will be the same kind of rhetoric, I guess that they're going to have for the American people who are questioning the administration's policy in Iraq. This is a failed, flawed, bankrupt policy. The American people want answers. They want to know what the peace policy is, what is really going to secure the peace in Iraq? What the cost is going to be to the American taxpayers and when will we be able to bring home our troops with honor?

WOODRUFF: Senator, do you know for a fact that the administration did what it did in Iraq for political reasons, which is in essence what you were charging?

KENNEDY: There's no question in my mind that the White House has hyped the political aspects of the war in Iraq. Karl Rove himself, the principal spokesperson for the Republican Party addressed a Republican National Committee out in Los Angeles in January 2001 and talked about the advantages that this war would have for Republican candidates.

So we also see the bitterness that the Republicans have for anyone that questions -- raising these serious questions about their policy. So they understand what they're doing. They're questioning the patriotisms of those that are asking the questions, but the fact is the American people are asking the questions and they should ask the questions.

The administration's had an initial tie between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein; they rejected that. They said we were in an imminent threat of being attacked by nuclear war; that has not worked out. They said we are going there because of weapons of mass destructions; that isn't so. They also said we wouldn't have to ask the American taxpayer for money for reconstruction because there's sufficient oil reserves there and that's wrong, too.

WOODRUFF: But, Senator, it's a very, very harsh thing indeed to say that this president, in essence, has spent the lives of now hundreds of American young men and women for political reasons. Is that really what you're saying?

KENNEDY: What we -- all of us are saying is that the president of the United States ought to come clear with the American people in terms of the cost of this war and also recognize we never had a peace policy. The administration is asking us now for $87 billion more dollars. There's a blank check for this administration and there is no peace policy. They're making it up day by day and I believe that the American men and women that are in the service that are over there are effectively in a shooting gallery, and I met with two that just returned from Iraq this morning who have been back for a period of two days. They also want to know the answers.

The American people are entitled to answers, not shifting rationale, which this administration has given.

WOODRUFF: Senator, the other charge that you make that almost $2 billion of the $4 billion that's been spent on Iraq, you believe it's being used to bribe other leaders to send in troops to Iraq. Do you have proof of this?

KENNEDY: Bribe, coerce, incentivise. We're going to see the announcement this weekend, announcement that the United States is going to loan Turkey $8.5 billion and we're anticipating that the Turks are going to provide military assistance to the American forces in Iraq. You know it didn't have to be this way. We wouldn't have to be providing these billions of dollars to these countries to incentivise them or coerce them or bribe them to send their troops in if we had done it the right way -- if we had gone to the United Nations, if we had built an international constituency.

The American taxpayers are paying for that and they're paying for those extended loans to Turkey that are going to be announced this weekend, and we're paying for it in also the support for these other troops that are coming in as well.

WOODRUFF: Senator Edward Kennedy with some very tough words for President Bush and the Bush administration. Senator, we thank you very much for talking with us.

KENNEDY: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: Still ahead, the nation's capitol and other parts of the East Coast try to bounce back from Hurricane Isabel.

The newest member of the Democratic presidential pack heads to Iowa and some second-guessing by liberals. Bob Novak will have the "Inside Buzz."

And where the '04 Democrats go, the stars seem to follow.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: The remnants of Hurricane Isabel are expected to dissipate in Canada by tomorrow. But it will take much longer to recover from the damage caused by the storm.

Just south of Washington here, floodwaters filled the streets of historic Alexandria, Virginia.

The federal government was closed for a second day and some D.C. streets along the Potomac River were also flooded.

In Baltimore, tidal flooding rose to the second story of some buildings and rescue crews and boats stayed busy plucking stranded residents from their houses.

In North Carolina, where the storm first came ashore, heavy damage was reported to homes along the Outer Banks. In all, Isabel is blamed for at least 17 deaths, half of them in Virginia.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Exactly four months from today Iowa, holds its pivotal presidential caucuses. And, as if to mark the moment, Democrat Wesley Clark is in the Hawkeye State today, his first trip there since announcing his candidacy. After some second-guessing by his rivals, Clark now says that he will take part in a Democratic debate next week, instead of going ahead with a paid speaking appearance. Clark supporters notified the DNC of that and celebrated the retired general's entry into the face, by delivering a year's supply of Clark bars to DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe. We guess he likes chocolate.

Our Friday "Campaign News Daily" features Hollywood celebrities taking sides with their favorite Democratic candidates. John Kerry started the day with a "Women for Kerry" breakfast in New York. He was joined by actress Kathleen Turner at the event, where the senator also picked up the endorsement of retired Army General Claudia Kennedy. Kennedy is the only woman ever to rise to the rank of army general.

Howard Dean is holding a New York fundraiser tomorrow night. Dean is expected to be joined by comedian and author Al Franken along with actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg.

And on Sunday, Dennis Kucinich is going Hollywood as well. The Ohio Congressman will be in California to campaign with two of the entertainment industry's best known figures on the political left, actors Ed Begly Jr. and Ed Asner.

Just ahead, some "Inside Buzz" from under the dome. Bob Novak has a lead on the senator's political plans.


WOODRUFF: Bob Novak is here with some "Inside Buzz."

You've got all kind of good information today -- or interesting information I should say.

All right. Let's talk about the reaction you're hearing to Wesley Clark getting into the race.

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I've been talking to some liberal Democrats in New York and they really like him. There was a big meeting at the Manhattan home of Arthur Schlesinger last night -- not a meeting, a reception. He's the historian and JFK adviser. And tremendous Clark support.

They think that a general is just the guy to beat George W. Bush and they think he's really a liberal general. They're not happy with his announcement at Little Rock. They didn't think it was very good and they were really worried that he wasn't going to go in that first debate. They feel a little better he's going in. But they think that General Clark has to start getting firmer the issues on things like partial birth abortion, where he's kind of fuzzy. You don't know where he stands.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about the senator from Louisiana, John Breaux. What are you hearing from some lobbyists about him?

NOVAK: Some energy lobbyists are saying that he will not run for a fourth term next year. He'll be 60 years old next year, like to get out of it. He has appointed a designated successor, Congressman Chris John, who is also a moderate, maybe a little more of a conservative Democrat than he. But that John Breaux, they say, won't run for reelection.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating.

All right. Now you've also talked to some Republicans who are a little worried about Haley Barbour down in Mississippi.

NOVAK: The former Republican National Chairman was thought to be a big favorite to beat Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove. But he has put an enormous amount of money into i -- that is, Haley has. And he's just running even with Musgrove, who has not yet begun to fight, has not yet begun to put money in. Barbour is a good candidate, but I think a lot of people down there really worry that he's a Washington insider and a multimillion dollar lobbyist. And he's got to overcome that. It's a very close race.

WOODRUFF: Finally, some comments you're hearing among Republicans about John Snow, the treasury secretary.

NOVAK: Some of the Republican senators are really angry about the lack of contact with the secretary of the treasury, John Snow. An example -- Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky wanted to talk about a tax problem with the coal industry. Coal is very big in Kentucky. Called up Snow and Snow had an aide call him back. You don't do that to a senator. And there's a -- it's not just Jim Bunning. There's a lot of grumbling about Mr. Snow, who is a good businessman. But you got to treat senators nice, Judy, if you're a cabinet member.

WOODRUFF: All right. You can learn from listening to Bob Novak's "Inside Buzz."

NOVAK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks for stopping by on this Friday. Thank you, Bob.

Well, emotions run high as a tough election battle lands in this courts. Haven't we seen this all before? Bill Schneider joins me next with echoes of elections past and "The Political Play of the Week."

ANNOUNCER: Can't wait for INSIDE POLITICS? Get your early morning fix by clicking on to the daily political column, "The Morning Grind." It's got a quick digest of candidate' schedules, an overview of what to expect today and links to the day's hottest political stories. Everything you'll need to tide you over until 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Check it out at


WOODRUFF: The California recall is starting to resemble another election from not so long ago, which brings us to our Bill Schneider and maybe "The Political Play of the Week."

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, William Faulkner once said the past isn't dead. It isn't even past. That's certainly true for Democrats who remember the 2000 Florida recount as if it happened this week. In fact, in a way, it did happen this week, in California, where it was "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Florida, 2000. Democrats cry is "Every vote must count."

GERALD MCENTREE, PRES., AFSCME: By God, every vote has to be counted in the state of Florida!

SCHNEIDER: But in Bush V. Gore, the United States Supreme Court stops the Florida recount and makes George W. Bush president. Every justice who votes with the majority was picked by a Republican president.

California, 2003. The Democrats' cry is....

BOB MULHOLLAND, CALIF. DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We want every vote counted. DAVIS: We hope that every vote that is cast is actually counted.

SCHNEIDER: On Monday in California, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, all Democratic appointees, delays the recall. The court cites Bush V. Gore 13 times in its ruling.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: But rule based upon precedent of the 2000 decision to the latest election.

SCHNEIDER: In other words, na, na, na! The panel's decision may be overruled, but it gives Democrats an issue to rally around, that California recall and the Florida recount, they say, are part of the same sinister plot.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the right wing of the Republican Party is deliberately undermining the democratic underpinnings of this country.

SCHNEIDER: One by one, national Democrats made their way to California to seize the issue. Look, there's Bill Clinton.


SCHNEIDER: And a Florida senator.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: They are following the precedent of the United States Supreme Court.

And a Florida martyr.

GORE: Thank you.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans worried that delaying the vote will give Democrats time to rally were outraged by the court's ruling.

TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: The Ninth Circuit Court rule head no basis in law. It had everything to do with politics.

SCHNEIDER: OK. If that's the case, then it qualifies as "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: The Democrats' cry is "Remember Florida! Remember impeachment! Remember Texas!" But don't think too much about Gray Davis.


WOODRUFF: But they sure are bring up Florida.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, they certainly are.

WOODRUFF: And to see Al Gore there again today. SCHNEIDER: And Bob Graham, yes. Exactly.

WOODRUFF: All right. All those Democrat candidates. Bob -- Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

All right. That's it for this Friday's edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a good, rain-free weekend.


Ted Kennedy>

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