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Bush U.N. Speech Draws Strong Partisan Lines; Interviews With Chuck Hagel, Cruz Bustamante

Aired September 23, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: When Bush come to shove. President Bush (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the U.N. to do more in Iraq. But not too much or too fast.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.

ANNOUNCER: Was that what voters at home wanted to hear?

A war of words on Capitol Hill. A leading critic of the president's Iraq policy gets a tongue lashing by Republicans. And Democrats cry foul.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: There is an orchestrated effort to attack those who criticize. I think it's unfair. I think it's unfortunate.

ANNOUNCER: The recall show will go on. A federal appeals court puts the October 7 vote back on track. Judy asks Democrat Cruz Bustamante what that means for his campaign for governor.

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. If the '04 Democrats can find anything to agree on, it's their thumbs down reaction to President Bush's U.N. speech on Iraq. Here are some examples.


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I truly regret what he said from what I've read was half-hearted, 11th hour, and still had an "I told you so" tone to it.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We stand here as Americans who are no longer willing to accept an administration which lies to the American people about the reasons of sending our sons and daughters, and our brothers and sisters to die in it a foreign land.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Of course, those are not the people Mr. Bush needed to impress today. His speech was aimed at two audiences, skeptical U.N. members and anxious U.S. voters. Our senior White House correspondent John King is with the president in New York. John, how much wiggle room, how much compromise was there in what we heard from the president today?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, on the big issue not much at all. The biggest point of debate here is when will the United States cede political authority either to the United Nations or an Iraqi governing body?

Mr. Bush in his speech said the United States went to war, the United Sates and its coalition partners should set the terms of a transition. And he was much more blunt in a face-to-face meeting with the French President Jacques Chirac. Mr. Bush said a quick transition simply is, quote, "just not in the cards."

He said he could not give $20 billion in U.S. reconstruction money to an unelected governing body in Iraq. So Mr. Bush has made clear the United States will call the shots for some time to come. In his speech to the United Nations, he said that was his responsibility as the leader of the military that liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Bush said it was his responsibility to make sure that transition takes place only when Iraq is ready for democracy.


BUSH: The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self government for the people of Iraq reached by orderly and democratic processes. This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried, nor delayed by the wishes of other parties.


KING: Now the president says the United Nations could help write a new Iraqi constitution, could help to stage and oversee new Iraqi elections.

So, Judy, and the details of carrying out his plan some room for more compromise, more authority for the United Nations. But on the big picture of, when will the transition of power take place, the president was pretty clear, on his terms, not the U.N.'s.

WOODRUFF: And, John, the president was referring to the time table on the part of the Iraqi people. What about politically for the president? What is the timetable here? How quickly does he need to get to a concrete solution?

KING: Well it's an interesting question because from a practical standpoint on the ground in Iraq it would take months anyway, even if they got a new resolution say several weeks from now, which is what most U.S. officials believe. It would take months to get more troops in if more troops are forthcoming. That's still an open question. The United States is going to give $20 billion for the reconstruction next year assuming Congress passes the money. How long would it take to get more money from international countries? They could use the money now, immediately on the ground in Iraq.

The bigger question is what does the president have to do here at home to turn the polls around and perhaps to quiet the criticism? You just played some off from the Democratic candidates, that is more of an urgent question. But everyone here now foresees several weeks of negotiations.

And, Judy, many diplomats, even friendly to the United States, are saying this: the president might get a resolution two or three weeks from now. They're not so certain he's going to get many more troops, or the many billions he so urgently wants.

WOODRUFF: That will be something to watch. All right. John King, reporting. He's traveling with President Bush and he's in New York City today.

Well meantime over on Capitol Hill, the postmortems on the president's speech had the expected partisan ring to them. That is when members weren't getting side tracked by a related war of words. Let's check in with our Congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, what about the reaction up there?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, as you might expect Republicans praising the president's speech, even critics like Chuck Hagel are saying it set the right tone. But Democrats are saying the president missed an opportunity to forcefully make the case for more international help in Iraq including more international troops.

But today's biggest debate was not on the president's words, but on the words of the leading Iraq anti-war voice up here in Congress.


KARL (voice-over): Republicans are blasting Senator Ted Kennedy for calling the Iraq war a fraud.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I think some of those comments have no place in the dialogue of the Congress of the United States when it is our mission specifically to protect the member and women of the armed forces and their families.

KARL: Kennedy prompted a fire storm of criticism late last week when he told the Associated Press, "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud."

The president himself said Kennedy was being uncivil and today House GOP leader, Tom DeLay went further calling the remarks "as disgusting as they are false." In fact Kennedy was wrong in one of his key charges. He said a Congressional Budget Office report concluded that nearly half of the $4 billion spent each month in Iraq is unaccounted for. But the Budget Office says there is no such report.

Still Kennedy is not backing down.

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There's no question that the White House seed (ph) political vantage in the war. You can see it in Karl Rove's speeches to Republican strategists. And just this morning "The New York Times" reports that the White House goal is to show substantial improvement in Iraq before next fall's reelection campaign.

KARL: And Kennedy's fellow Democrats are standing firmly with him, accusing the White House of trying to silence its critics.

DASCHLE: Any time somebody speaks out criticizing this administration or its policies, there is this orchestrated concerted effort to attack those who criticize.


KARL: Now Senator Kennedy says the bottom line is the administration still has not accounted for how it is spending the $3.9 billion a month that is being spent in Iraq. And however this controversy plays out, it may signal a tougher than expected battle over the $87 billion the president is now asking for from Congress for Iraq and Afghanistan -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Sure is going to make it more interesting. Jon Karl at the Capitol.

Well President Bush gave this U.N. speech one day after our poll showed that his approval ratings are falling to an all-time low. So the question is did he manage to ease voters' minds? Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider looks at what the president said and what the public wants.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): How do Americans feel about the U.N.? One word, exasperation. It's been building for sometime.

Fifty years ago, Americans had a lot of confidence in the new institution, only 30 percent thought the U.N. was doing a poor job. Two years after the Persian Gulf War, that number had grown to 44 percent. A year ago, when President Bush last appeal to the U.N. for support in Iraq a majority of Americans felt the U.N. was doing a poor job. Now it's up to 60 percent.

The U.N. refused to support the U.S. Iraq? To hell with them. Wait, wait. Not so fast. The U.S. is in trouble in Iraq. It's costing another $87 billion. Let's rethink this U.N. deal. BUSH: I also recognize that some of the sovereign nations of this assembly disagreed with our actions. Yet there was and there remains unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations.

SCHNEIDER: The American people are willing to deal. Should companies and other countries be allowed to have contracts in Iraq? No problem. Should the U.S. allow other countries or the U.N. to make policy decisions in Iraq? Fine, as long as the other countries share the responsibility and the financial and military burden.

Why should they? Because in the war on terrorism, we are all on the same side.

BUSH: Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides between those who seek order and those who spread chaos.


SCHNEIDER: President Bush is trying to restore the consensus that prevailed in the world after September 11. The Iraq war fractured that consensus. The president is willing to let bygones be bygones, and the American people are too. Now we will see whether the U.N. is -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thank you.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS does Republican Senator Chuck Hagel have anything but praise for President Bush's U.N. speech? He will join us next.

Does Democrat gubernatorial Cruz Bustamante in California mean it when he's saying he's glad the recall is back on track for two weeks from today? I will ask him.

And later some White House hopefuls slug it out over baseball.


WOODRUFF: Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is a strong advocate for increasing the number of international forces inside Iraq. Senator Hagel is also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He joins me from Capitol Hill.

Senator, we heard the president today addressing the United Nations, basically defending what the U.S. did, but calling on other countries to let bygones be bygones and to move ahead. Was this basically the right message for today?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Well, I think most of it was, Judy, and I very much support the president's efforts to reach out to the United Nations.

However, he could have gone further in developing a broader, deeper theme of how these other nations would help us there, why it's in their interest to help us. He developed some of that and I thought that was correct as to how he did it.

But we need to get into some specifics now. We need to talk about how we are going to share decision-making authority. If we want international help in there, that means we're going to have to have international issues that we will work through, through a decision- making process that will include all of our friends, and allies. That's the only way we will be able to sustain the efforts that we are making in Iraq.

We cannot lose in Iraq. We can't lose in Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process. And it's in the interest of all nations of the world to be part of this.

WOODRUFF: Do you think the reason the president wasn't more specific is that there's some question about how much flexibility there is on the part of the administration here?

HAGEL: That could be. They may not have gotten to a point within the administration as to where they are ready to start making those kinds of decisions, as to how much decision-making authority they are willing to share.

But time is running out. They need to be making those decisions, because other nations want to be part of this. They need to be part of it. This is too heavy a burden for the United States to carry alone.

And we also have to come back to something that Bill Schneider was talking about too, and that is, not just for the political dynamic of this for the president -- but we need to regain a coalition in this country, a consensus in this country in support of our efforts in Iraq. If we are to sustain those efforts in Iraq, it's going to require an American consensus, and I am concerned that we're seeing that fracture and break. Certainly the polls are showing that.

But it's far bigger than just a political dynamic for next year. It has everything to do with the future of our war on terrorism and helping restructure a world that has some hope and opportunity for peace and prosperity and stability.

WOODRUFF: Well, I did want to ask you about those polls, because, as you know, one of the questions in the CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll, people were asked, "Do you think it was worth it to go to war?" Only 50 percent of the American people are saying it was worth it. People are evenly split. And that is down -- the people who think it's worth it -- from 76 percent back in April. What does that say to you?

HAGEL: Well, like always in these kinds of actions, it takes some time for the American public to really start to understand the kind of commitment we have made in terms of dollars, certainly in terms of casualties, and how long we're going to be there and all these things eventually will bubble up and they are tough issues to deal with. That's why the president must forge a new commitment in this country, a new consensus for us to do what we need to do to win there. But that cannot be without the support of our allies and our friends, and the legitimacy of the United Nations and other organizations that will be there to help us, but have a stake in this. And it is in their interests as well.

Then, I think, the American people will buy into this for the long term. I think the American people have common sense about this and they understand that it is going to require sacrifices. But now it's a little different.

WOODRUFF: Senator, very quickly, what about some of these tough comments coming from Democrats, not just Senator Ted Kennedy, but today Senator Joe Lieberman, who is running for president, calling his speech an 11th hour, half-hearted appeal, continuing the "I told you so" tone. This is from a senator who voted for the resolution to go to war.

HAGEL: Well, I would say that each of these senators, each presidential candidates has the responsibility to take the high ground here in the interest of our national security and the interest of our role in the world and our future of the world.

But at the same time, that does not mean that we shouldn't question and probe and ask those tough questions. It's not unpatriotic to ask tough questions. My goodness. We need to do that. That's why we have a Congress. That's why we have a democracy.

So it's a fine line that they walk. It's a balance. And that's the perspective we should come at this with.

WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Chuck Hagel, we thank you very much. Good to talk to you, senator. We appreciate your joining us today.

HAGEL: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Still ahead, the October 7 recall vote is back on, and the candidates are lobbying attacks at one another. I'll ask Democrat Cruz Bustamante about his jabs at Arnold Schwarzenegger.


WOODRUFF: The California recall election is out of limbo and into the homestretch. A federal appeals court today overruled a smaller panel and refused to delay the October 7 vote. A short time later, the American Civil Liberties Union said that it would not take its fight to postpone the vote to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Well, a number of candidates say they're glad that the election is moving forward, including Democrat Cruz Bustamante. I spoke with him a little while ago and asked him if he's concerned, though, that voters' rights will be jeopardized in those counties where punch card ballots will be used.


LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D-CA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: That's why politicians aren't involved with making those kinds of decisions. What happens is that the courts have to get through these legal issues. And I think that as a result of the deliberation that took place, and the fact that the ACLU is not going to take it to the next level, I think that we can be assured that those issues were now discussed and we're going to move forward.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think anybody's voting right is are being trampled on in any way?

BUSTAMANTE: I hope not. I hope that they were able to get through these legal issues relatively quickly and well. Because you know, it really is at the core of having a good democracy. Having equal protection to vote are very important issues that have to be addressed.

WOODRUFF: You are running a new ad today, Lieutenant Governor, in which you say among other things that Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't share our values. You say he won't fight for our health care, our neighborhoods, our jobs, he doesn't live in our world.

Now I want to read to you what a Schwarzenegger spokesman is saying in response. He's calling the ad ridiculous and desperate. He says, quote, "If by our values, Cruz Bustamante is referring to selling out the peoples' interest and pandering to every special interest group who's willing to write him a big check, then, yes, he's correct, we don't share those values."

What do you say?

BUSTAMANTE: Well I find it awfully interesting that he is talking about my receiving large contributions when he's received over $6 million from corporate entities. In fact, his advertisements, the ones he's got going up, they announce that there are a lot of people receiving money from tribal governments.

Well the fact is Governor Gray Davis and Tom McClintock and I, we've all received funds from tribal governments. In fact, Arnold is pretty phony on this whole issue. He's a hypocrite because just a year ago, he had a brunch with tribal governments and he raised $62,000 for his effort.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying, you know -- well, in connection with that Schwarzenegger's now running an ad of his own which seems aimed at you, although he doesn't name you. And it says, "The Indian casino tribes play money politics in Sacramento. All the other major candidates," that includes you, "are taking their money and pandering to them."

BUSTAMANTE: Yes, it seems very hypocritical. I mean here you have a person who is now attacking tribal governments, when just a year ago, just a year ago, he was having a fund raiser in San Diego and raised $62,000. You know, frankly, I think it's phoney. It's just like a lot of his policies that haven't been well thought out. I think that's why he's being desperate and he's trying to talk about it.

He also said he would never accept any money, that he had plenty of money, he was going to write the big check. And since then he's received over $6 million in special interest money himself and he's also received money from tribal governments which he never says.

It's interesting, isn't it, that he spent last year having fund raisers with tribal governments. Now he's attacking them. That's interesting.


WOODRUFF: Well, after we talked to Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, we asked the Schwarzenegger camp about the charge that he's a hypocrite. Schwarzenegger's spokesman says that, quote, "Arnold's camp stands by its stand against special interest saying enough is enough."

Straight ahead, Howard Dean switched sides. He's still a Democrat, but he's had a serious change of heart when it comes to baseball.


WOODRUFF: Some breaking news from Las Vegas. These are live pictures coming in at an airport in Las Vegas. Apparently two small planes collided. Apparently this happened on the runway, although that is not clear. There was a fire. You can see the foam there where they tried to put the fire out. There is no information yet on casualties. We will try to get more information and bring that to you just as soon as we have it. Again, live pictures from Las Vegas. Two small planes colliding at the airport there.

Now, checking in on the Democratic presidential hopefuls in our "Campaign News Daily."

General Wesley Clark heads to Capitol Hill next week in search of some high profile endorsements. Clark has already been endorsed by nine House members and two senators, including New York Congressman Charles Rangel along with both senators and three House members from his home state of Arkansas.

John Kerry has added a top New Hampshirite Democrat to his campaign team. Former Governor Jean Shaheen is the new national chairwoman of the Kerry campaign. Shaheen was New Hampshire first female governor, and she narrowly lost a run for the Senate last fall. Her husband is John Kerry's state campaign chairman.

Howard Dean ventured into John Kerry's home turf this morning with a campaign rally in Boston. Dean used his appearance to blast the White House and Republicans in general. He attacked what he called "the extreme right wing," which he said has shown nothing but contempt for democracy. Dean also said that the Bush administration has -- quote -- "turned the Constitution on its head."

Well, finally, with the baseball playoffs approaching, John Kerry is calling fellow White House hopeful and New Englander Howard Dean -- aghast (ph) -- Yankees fan. Dean, who grew up in New York, said he dumped the Yankee pinstripes in favor of the Boston Red Sox years ago. But the Kerry campaign says Dean's switch is indefensible -- that it's like switching from the Redskins to the Cowboys. However, Dean is showing no remorse.


DEAN: Each your heart out, George Steinbrenner.


WOODRUFF: Nothing like a little baseball name-calling to spice up the election season. There's more to come.


With Chuck Hagel, Cruz Bustamante>

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