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Interview with Senator John Kerry; Interview With Syrian Foreign Minister

Aired September 25, 2003 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Ten Democrats face off in a presidential debate. "In Focus" tonight: their performance and the candidates' spin. Senator John Kerry will join us live.
Are Syrians flooding into Iraq to kill U.S. troops? We'll ask the foreign minister in an exclusive interview.


ZAHN: How would you characterize your relationship with America?


ZAHN: Friend or enemy?

AL-SHARAA: No, neither friendly. We don't have animosity.


ZAHN: Good evening and welcome. Glad to have you with us tonight.

A chilling trip through the world's largest graveyard, where two million people are buried. We'll have that report for you.

Plus, Arianna Huffington will join us, after sparring with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California recall debate.

And what's with all the swearing going on on prime-time TV?

First, here are some of the headlines you need to know right know.

People as far away as Hawaii are on guard for a tidal waves after a magnitude-8 earthquake struck Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. The quake has caused power outages a fire near an oil refinery. Over 100 injuries have been reported.

U.S. prosecutors want a federal judge to dismiss all charges against terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. They say it will help them move the case to a federal appeals court and keep Moussaoui from being allowed to question al Qaeda prisoners. The government says that could reveal dangerous information about its hunt for terrorists.

Both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill supporting the do-not-call list. The list would let you block calls from telemarketers. Well, yesterday, a federal judge put that list on hold. And today, a federal judge added a new wrinkle, ruling that the list violates the free-speech rights of telemarketers.

On to the presidential race. The Democratic presidential debate today was billed as a clash over economic issues. It was the first one to include retired General Wesley Clark. How did he do? How did the rest of his nine rivals do? That's "In Focus" tonight.

I'm joined by other regular contributor and "TIME" magazine columnist Joe Klein, and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield with us as well.

You both went to the debate.


ZAHN: How did General Clark do? You lived to talk about it this evening.


That was the question that people like us went to see. And to some extent, you wonder whether we're waiting for somebody like that to leap out of his chair and praise Satan. He came out with a perfectly good comment about why he was now a Democrat and what his values were. And they were kind of classic Democratic values. He was pushed on a couple economic specifics, on Social Security and on what would he do about protecting home mortgage agencies.

He did fine with that. But the key to it, I think, was also that his opponents never went after him. They had other things on their mind, namely Howard Dean. So Clark, we don't know how he's going to do when he's engaged.

ZAHN: Did that strategy make sense to you? Why lay the hands off Wesley Clark at this juncture?

KLEIN: Because he's a tough guy. He's a general.

No, really, because he just came in. And it would seem -- they don't know where he's going yet.

ZAHN: It seem what, impolite? No.

KLEIN: Not impolite, but precipitous, perhaps. You let the guy get on the stage and you wait and see whether he falls all over his epaulets. He didn't. He did perfectly fine. In fact, his opening statement that Jeff was talking about, where he was asked why he was a Democrat was cogent. It was coherent. It was even a little compelling.

And after that, my reaction was, well, he can play. Welcome to the game.

ZAHN: Handicap the rest of the field for us, the top four players. GREENFIELD: Well, the artillery, if we're going to stretch this military metaphor to the breaking brink, was all aimed at Howard Dean. which tells you something important.

Gephardt was ready to go after Howard Dean with a comment about how he had aligned himself with Newt Gingrich in 1994, how he had called Medicare a terrible program, various heresies against the Democratic Party base. John Kerry joined in a little bit with that. Joe Lieberman did. What that tells you is that, for all the attention paid to Wesley Clark, Howard Dean is still a guy who has moved to the top of the field and is who is about to, in the next week or two, reveal that he has raised, in this third quarter, a gazillion dollars.

So while they're looking over their shoulder at Clark -- I think Joe is right -- they don't know yet how he plays. The fellow who is threatening Gephardt in Iowa and Kerry in New Hampshire is still a guy named Dean. And so they went after him.

ZAHN: What were some of the most successful body blows tonight?

KLEIN: Well, I think that, not having seen the evening news on the networks tonight, I would guess that there were two clips. One was the clip of Wes Clark being able to speak English.

And the other was Gephardt taking this roundhouse swing at Dean on Social Security and Medicare, which are like the Bible for Democrats. And Dean


ZAHN: And John Kerry got some leverage out of that in a second pass.

KLEIN: Yes, but that was a second pass, and that's not what would make it on to the evening news. It would be Gephardt, nice Dick Gephardt, from the middle West, taking a wild swing at Dean, and then Dean firing back at him, saying that it was unfair and that Democrats have to stick together.

And I think that Gephardt probably got the better of that deal. If you are the campaign managers of those two candidates, you're far more comfortable tonight being Gephardt's manager than being Joe Trippi, Dean's manager, because Dean was trying to fend off and say: No, no, no, really, I'm not with Newt Gingrich.

ZAHN: And, in the end, besides Howard Dean, who got momentum out of this?

GREENFIELD: I think nobody because of the nature of the Democratic field. One of the things that struck a lot of people about this debate -- at least the people I talked to afterwards -- was that, with 10 people on that stage, even though they did a perfectly good job of trying to divide it up, you sort of forgot some of these people.

Wes Clark made this opening statement and then it's like a play where the lead actor leaves for 20 minutes. So there's...

ZAHN: It's got to be very frustrating for the candidates.

KLEIN: Oh, yes.

GREENFIELD: It's frustrating for candidates. It's frustrating for the moderators and the panelists, although I think they did a good job. It's frustrating for us. You do not get a sense of what this campaign is about, because there are at least three people in this race -- this is going to sound unfair or whatever -- who, by almost unanimous consent, have no business being in the race: Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley-Braun, Al Sharpton, although...

ZAHN: How long will they be in?


KLEIN: That's the interesting thing is, the name that is in Al Sharpton's mind is Alan Keyes.

If you remember, in 2000, when it got down to George W. Bush and John McCain, the third guy on the stage was Alan Keyes, because he had nothing to lose. And so the Democrats are dreading the fact that, some time in March, you're going to be down to the two finalists with Al Sharpton and, no doubt, Dennis Kucinich there. It is going to be a real problem.

GREENFIELD: In other words, the normal candidate who wants to be president, they lose a lot of races, they get 5 percent of the vote, they run out of money, they leave.

First of all, Al Sharpton is going to do a lot better than that in South Carolina, very bluntly, because of race. I think African- Americans make up, what, 35 percent, 40 percent of the Democratic Party. And beyond that, he, Kucinich, and, if she wants to, Carol Moseley Braun, don't have any money anyway. So it's not that their campaign managers leave. They get on stage. They get national exposure.

And if the Republican Party didn't have the cajones say to Alan Keyes, get off the stage, you can bet the Democrats aren't going to say that to Kucinich, Braun, and Sharpton. And I made that point, because it's going to complicate this.

ZAHN: I need to have you guys to stand by, because we're going to have another guest join us now.

Let's bring in the man who is heading Clark's campaign in the early primary state of New Hampshire George Bruno is a former ambassador to Belize.

Welcome, sir. Good to have you with us tonight.


ZAHN: Were you kind of disappointed the candidates sort of gave your candidate a honeymoon tonight?

BRUNO: Disappointed? No, I'm delighted. I thought Wes Clark did very well just out of the box, been a candidate for eight weeks -- excuse me, eight days -- getting his sea legs. I thought he held up very well.

ZAHN: What did Wesley Clark think was going to be his biggest challenge going into this? Was he worried about his competitors beating up on him or trying to prove to the crowd he is indeed a real Democrat?

BRUNO: Well, I think he has a vision for America. He's been going around the country promoting his theme of new patriotism, a patriotism by which you can criticize your government and, at the same time, serve your government and hold our leaders accountable. And I think we're going to hear more about this theme.

ZAHN: I want to bring Joe and George back in here.

KLEIN: Ambassador Bruno, I imagine you're getting a lot of action there, people from other campaigns coming in?

BRUNO: Well, we are getting a lot of activity in New Hampshire.


KLEIN: Where are they coming from? When you check the garbage pail coming in and you see all the discarded buttons from other campaigns, who's coming to support you?

BRUNO: In the Clark campaign, there are supporters coming from all over the country. And they're Democrats. They're Republicans. They're independents.

KLEIN: A lot of Sharpton folks?

BRUNO: They're everyone, people from all walks of life.

KLEIN: Kucinich people?


ZAHN: You're not getting anything out of him, Joe. Let me ask you this...

BRUNO: And, in fact, we have a rally at noontime Saturday at Dover City Hall steps. And the Draft Clark people are coming in from all over the Northeast. So I think you'll see a wonderful show.

ZAHN: Let's talk more about what this candidate has to do to prove that he's a real Democrat.


ZAHN: There's a lot made of the fact that he voted for Richard Nixon, that he voted for Ronald Reagan. (CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: And we have excerpts from the speech where he effusively praises not only President Bush, but the whole administration, basically Condoleezza Rice. This was way in advance of the start of the war. How do you reconcile that, Ambassador Bruno?


BRUNO: Well, Wes Clark is the perfect candidate for a state like New Hampshire, a state that enjoys a good fight, enjoys a maverick. You've got to remember how well Ross Perot did here. Ralph Nader did well here. McCain did well.

ZAHN: You still didn't answer the question, though, sir. A maverick is one thing, but how does he prove that he's a real Democrat, when, in fact, he has said those things so publicly in the past?

BRUNO: Well, that is going to be up for the voters to determine. He is a real Democrat.

He's pro-choice. He's pro-affirmative action. He's pro- environment. And, of course, all of those things appeal to Democrats. He's also pro-Second Amendment, pro-strong defense. You're going to see Wes Clark get into fighting form and do very well in the New Hampshire primary.

ZAHN: How much latitude does that perceived squishiness give his competitors?

GREENFIELD: No, I think, Ambassador Bruno -- it's Jeff Greenfield -- with all respect, when you go to the Democratic Party base and you say, I am this new Democrat, your ideal, and they find out that you have, barely two years ago -- not 10 or 20, like Ronald Reagan -- said the most kind things about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, don't you think that is at least going to be kind of a hard sell for a Democratic primary base?

BRUNO: I think people are going to vote for Wes Clark based upon his service to his country and the vision that he has and the program that he's offering for the future. It's true. He voted for Ronald Reagan, but let's not forget, Ronald Reagan won the election.

ZAHN: All right, gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there this evening.

Ambassador Bruno, thank you for joining us.

BRUNO: Thank you.

ZAHN: You want to make some New Hampshire predictions, very quickly, you two, before we go out?

KLEIN: Are you kidding you me?

ZAHN: No, I'm not. I know you hate to look through the crystal ball, but I'm going to ask both of you anywhere.


KLEIN: Who knows.

ZAHN: Well, you know, for a fact, Senator John Kerry is falling behind in New Hampshire when it comes to Howard Dean, right?

KLEIN: But that's in the early horse race polls.

ZAHN: I know. They could change.

KLEIN: And in a situation where 19 out of 20 people who you call up and ask for their opinions -- talk about telemarketers -- don't give them, the polls aren't very reliable at this point.

ZAHN: You get the last word. You've got 10 seconds.

GREENFIELD: It's September. Even with the insanely advanced primary challenge, nobody gets to vote for four months. As far as the great majority of sane Americans, as opposed to people like Joe and myself and perhaps you, this campaign has not begun to begin.


ZAHN: Thanks for me reminding me of this.

We've run out of time, Joe. I'd love to do that. Come back tomorrow night. Thank you both.

A top Syrian officials is denying charges his country has allowed terrorists to slip over the border into Iraq.


AL-SHARAA: The official checkpoints are very secure, because we, the government, protect them, guard them. But along borders, no one can guarantee anything.


ZAHN: I will have an exclusive interview with Syria's foreign minister and a poignant look at one of Iraq's most tragic landmarks.


ZAHN: Welcome back.

As the United States weighs its Middle East policy, Syria is a key consideration. It shares borders with Iraq and Israel. And its dealings with both countries could play a big factor in the region's future.

We turn now to Farouk al-Sharaa, Syria's foreign minister, in an exclusive interview from the United Nations.


ZAHN: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for joining us.

AL-SHARAA: Thank you.

ZAHN: First Afghanistan, then Iraq. Is Syria next?

AL-SHARAA: I don't think so, unless you are telling me that there is somebody who is crazy in the American administration.

ZAHN: It was you yourself who said quite pointedly in a television interview just four months ago that your country did feel vulnerable to the possibility of a U.S. military attack on Syria.

AL-SHARAA: Well, that's another thing. I was referring to the situation in the whole region. All of us were affected. I mean, the war on Iraq has affected all the countries in the Middle East, and negatively.

ZAHN: What has happened, then, over the last several months that would make you feel that your country -- or the possibility of an American attack is less likely?

AL-SHARAA: It's not a matter of feeling.

It's a matter of monitoring the situation, feeling that war is a very -- a costly business. It's no longer a profitable business. And, secondly, people in my region and the world at large have increased their degree of hatred to the United States. The thing that we don't like, and you don't like, the United States should be loved, should be appreciated in helping people in different parts of the world, for meeting their demands, lack of food, lack of services, lack of medicine.

Going into war is -- doesn't serve the cause of anybody.

ZAHN: How much pressure is the United States putting on Syria today?

AL-SHARAA: There is some pressure, I must admit. But this pressure doesn't affect our foreign policy.

ZAHN: Let me ask you this. U.S. military officials are saying, 40 percent of the foreign fighters arrested in Iraq are either from Syria or Lebanon. Why is that?

AL-SHARAA: This doesn't mean that Syria is involved in this. In fact, we have mutual concern about the fate of Iraq.

ZAHN: Is a democratic Iraq in your country's best interests?

AL-SHARAA: Yes, of course, of course, because we have -- we are supposed to have good relations with the Iraqi people. But who stopped this good relationship was the previous regime in Iraq. We were unfriendly with the previous regime for over 20 years.

ZAHN: Would you like to see democracy take root throughout the Middle East?

AL-SHARAA: Why not? But it depends on your definition of democracy. And, secondly, democracy is a process. It's a long, long process. It is not imposed.

ZAHN: Would it work in Syria?

AL-SHARAA: Well, in Syria, we feel that we are very close to democracy day by day.

ZAHN: I'd like to share with you some more of the allegations from the State Department.

Not only has the U.S. State Department accused your government of allowing volunteers who are headed to Iraq with the express purpose of killing American soldiers, but also allowing military equipment to go across the border from Syria into Iraq. Your response?

AL-SHARAA: False allegations. It has proven until today that not all the information that the United States got were accurate.

ZAHN: Can you prove it?

AL-SHARAA: I don't have to prove it. I mean, it's in the press. I give you an example. They had a lot of information, even to the sharp evidence that Iraq had mass destruction weapons. It's proven that it didn't have.

ZAHN: How secure is the border? Do you acknowledge that it's pretty easy to slip across that border?


AL-SHARAA: Yes. The official checkpoints are very secure, because we, the government, protect them, guard them. But along borders, no one can guarantee anything.

ZAHN: But given what you're saying about the porousness of the border, you cannot say with 100 percent certainty, can you, that no weapons of mass destruction were transferred from Iraq into Syria?

AL-SHARAA: Because it has proven that there was no mass destruction weapons in Iraq, despite the fact that the presence of the United States is so heavy, is so wide in Iraq. No one is preventing them from even checking every inch of Iraq now, after occupation.

ZAHN: We're going to have to end on that note.

Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for your time.

AL-SHARAA: Thank you. Thank you.


ZAHN: And moving on to California, so much for scripted responses. The recall candidates got up close and personal. We will be joined by Arianna Huffington and, a little bit later this evening, Senator John Kerry as well.

We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Certain landmarks in Iraq serve as poignant reminders of the country's troubled history. One of them is a stretch of land the size of a small city. Yet, its occupants have already departed. Many of them suffered under Saddam Hussein.

Walt Rodgers has more.


WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shiite Muslim women grieve for brothers executed by Saddam Hussein.

Like millions of other Shiites through the centuries, the women's brothers are buried in what's said to be the biggest cemetery in the world. Two million is a guess. No one really knows how many layers of dead lie within the 10-square kilometers. Some graves date back 4,000 years.

Here, Shiite pilgrims huddle around the tomb of Hud and Salih, two pre-Islamic prophets mentioned in the Koran. But it's the nearby mosque of Imam Ali that is the magnet for the dead. Shiites believe the Biblical Adam and Noah lie here on either side of Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law.

In Islam, just being righteous is not a ticket to paradise. Besides leading an upright life, Shiites they believe, if they're buried close to their leader, the Imam Ali will intercede on their behalf in the day of judgment.

The ground is so full of layers of bones, grave diggers often unearth the departed. In the world's largest cemetery, death is a subculture unto itself. Whalid (ph) knows nothing but death. "I feel closer to the dead than the living," he says. "We live and work here and know nothing outside of this."

Death is ever the great leveler, the poor and the rich lying in close proximity, hoping for immortality. Iraqis who make their living in death believe in immortality, but they do not believe in ghosts. Still, like the Biblical Balaam's ass, who saw the angel of the lord in his path and bolted, beasts sometimes see things we do not.

Death was a growth industry in Iraq under Saddam. Tens of thousands of new graves were added during his war with Iran. This was Saddam's intelligence chief, executed for plotting against him. Here's a leading Shiite cleric. His car blew up. It was not healthy to be too popular when Saddam was in power.

(on camera): Saddam Hussein used this cemetery to show his contempt for Iraq's Shiite Muslims. He built miles of roads here over tens of thousands of human graves. During the war, he based his anti- aircraft batteries here, trying to tempt the Americans to bomb the cemetery.

(voice-over): The sound of grieving. Desert winds have consumed this girl's tears for her grandmother. Grieving for Saddam's victims, grieving for a grandmother, grieving for Iraq. The Prophet Muhammad warned, each soul must taste death. There must be a final reckoning.

Walter Rodgers, CNN, at Wadi Salaam cemetery, Iraq.


ZAHN: And when we come back, presidential candidate John Kerry will be joining us live, fresh from today's two-hour Democratic debate.

And on lighter note and bluer note:


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Look at the damn picture.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Into his back pocket, hit his lucky quarter, and blew his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off.


ZAHN: It is not your imagination, folks, a lot more swearing in prime time these days on network TV. We're going to count the swear words on prime-time television with you.


ZAHN: Here's some of the headlines you need to know right now.

There are fires and power outages tonight on the Japanese island of Hokkaido after a powerful magnitude 8 earthquake. Over 100 injuries have been reported, some of them serious. Experts warn the quake could trigger tidal waves as far away as Hawaii.

And Syria's foreign minister says no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have made it into his country, but he admits Syria has not been able to patrol the border effectively.

I spoke with him at an exclusive interview today.


ZAHN: How much pressure is United States putting on Syria today?

AL-SHARAA: There is some pressure, I must admit, but this pressure doesn't affect our foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: And a new player took center stage in today's debate among the 10 major Democratic presidential candidates. Retired General Wesley Clark admitted he had lots to learn after joining the race just eight days ago.

I am joined now by one of the candidates who took part in the debate, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Thanks so much for dropping by after....


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No, it's great. Thank you.

ZAHN: It must be so frustrating to stand up there with nine other candidates and try to find an issue that you can cut through with.

KERRY: Well, it's frustrating, but everybody's facing it. I mean, what's important right now, Paula, is to be able to share with Americans my vision for how we make our country safer and stronger. I can do a better job of defending America's interests abroad. I can make more friends in the world and restore or respect and influence, and frankly, do a much better job of making us safe in this world of terror. And I know how to put people back to work and provide health care to Americans, and do a better job with our schools.

This president is on the wrong track. He's moving in the wrong direction. The deficit is getting bigger, more people out of work. I believe we need leadership that knows how to go in the right direction and that's what I'm prepared to do.

ZAHN: A lot of people were surprised, including myself, that you guys gave -- and we should say Carol Moseley Braun was there, too -- Wesley Clark a honeymoon tonight. Was there a strategic calculation to not put on any gloves on?

KERRY: I don't think so at all. But, I mean, he's got to speak for himself. He's got to offer his own programs.

Look, I've been in the Democratic Party...

ZAHN: You beat up Howard Dean pretty badly tonight.

KERRY: I've been in the Democratic party for 35 years. I welcome him to the Democratic party, number one.

I will say that I'm a little surprised that somebody running for the president of the United States has been thinking about it for six months has so little to say on national domestic issues.

But right now, I want to focus on the ways in which I can put Americans back to work and connect to the average American to make them understand they're not getting a good deal under George Bush. George Bush is driving up our deficit, saddling our children with debt, guaranteeing that we can't make the choices we need to to invest in our cities. Governors are raising taxes, cutting services, just so we can take money from the average American and transfer it to the wealthiest people in the country. I think that's wrong, and I'm going to roll back the high end of the Bush tax cut. The tax cut that goes to the wealthiest Americans we can't afford, Paula.

ZAHN: Let's come back to your position on Iraq. And...

KERRY: Sure.

ZAHN: Is there a contradiction with your support of allowing the troops to go over to Iraq and now being so highly critical of this post-war...

KERRY: No, none whatsoever. There's no contradiction at all.

I am absolutely convinced I voted for the security of the United States of the America with the assurance of the president that he was going to go to the United Nations and build a international coalition, that he was going to make a plan to win the peace, that he would do the preparations, he would respect the U.N. process and that he would go to war as a last resort.

The president set the date for the start of this war. Not us. And he did not go as a last resort. He broke his word to the American people. He broke his word to the Congress and through us, the American people themselves. And he rushed to war. He doesn't have a plan. We need to go to the United Nations, Paula. We need to get the sense of American occupation off the table. We need to strengthen America by taking the target off our troops and bring the world to the table to help us.

ZAHN: But even you have to acknowledge that is a very tough challenge. You talk to anybody at the State Department...


KERRY: It doesn't have to be a challenge.

ZAHN: ..and they said the most troops you could get out of Europe right now is 2,000 and maybe at best out of Asia 15,000.

KERRY: And the reason for that, Paula, is because the president hasn't done the diplomacy, because the president has proceeded with arrogance.

Look at his speech just the other day. He went to the United Nations. Did he really invite them in in an inviting way? Did he indicate any kind of sort of humility in the approach? None whatsoever. And you know what? He walks out of there, doesn't even listen to the other people speak, and sends a message that turns everybody off. That's not the way to bring other countries to the table.

ZAHN: You have consistently been critical of the Bush administration...

KERRY: Because they have done a terrible job.

ZAHN: ...reconstruction plan.


ZAHN: Do you think Donald Rumsfeld should be asked to resign?

KERRY: Yes. Absolutely. He did not do the planning. He rushed this to war. He has not listened to the military personnel. Our military is weaker today. They're overextended. He and Mr. Wolfowitz proceeded with false assumptions. And in their arrogance they didn't listen to General Shinseki. They kicked him out of the way. They stomped on his reputation. And he was right. It did take more troops.

These people, I think, have proceeded in an arrogant, inappropriate way that has frankly put America at jeopardy, put a young Americans -- I mean, this is not -- you know, this is -- these are young Americans who are now in greater jeopardy in Iraq than they had to be, and it looks more serious for the longterm than it had to be.

ZAHN: Secretary Rumsfeld called for a greater humility in an op- ed piece today. Do you see any scenario under which...


KERRY: Well they didn't show it yesterday. They didn't show it at the U.N. Where is the humility if you're not prepared to say to people some of the things you need to bring them to the table? If they had -- when that statue fell in Baghdad, that was the ripest moment for us to say we need help now in managing the peace. And other countries would have flocked to our side providing we're willing to share some of the power.

But right now America is treating Iraq as a prize. It's a country, and it deserves to be treated within the community of nations through the United Nations. That is the only way ultimately for the United States to get rid of this sense of American occupation and get the target off our troops, and get this administration's hand out of the taxpayers' pocket, so we share expenses.

ZAHN: If you're going to succeed in doing everything you're talking about doing, you're going to have to best some nine candidates. You are trailing in the...

KERRY: Actually I'm not.

ZAHN: ...neighboring state of New Hampshire. Our polls show you are.


ZAHN: Are you behind Howard Dean in your polls?

KERRY: Just two days ago -- just two days ago the polls showed that there are only two candidates who beat George Bush, myself and Wes Clark. And I do it without any of the high exposure that either of those candidates, Wes Clark or Howard Dean, have had.

My numbers are moving in New Hampshire. They're moving in Iowa. Just yesterday Governor Shaheen endorsed me in New Hampshire, and the firefighters endorsed me yesterday in Washington. I believe my campaign has momentum. I believe I'm growing.

ZAHN: Do you think you can take New Hampshire?

KERRY: Here's the reason why.

ZAHN: That you can't take New Hampshire?

KERRY: Here's the reason why -- because I'm the only candidate running who has both national security and foreign affairs and military experience, and who has significant experience at putting people to work, at helping to fight for health care, reforming education and dealing with our domestic issues.

Americans want experience, Americans want leadership, and I'm the one candidate though brings both of those qualities to this field.

ZAHN: I should note you said here's why I can. You still didn't say yes about New Hampshire. I guess that was implied. All right.

KERRY: I don't want to be -- I don't impetuous or presumptuous. I intend to.

ZAHN: All right.

KERRY: And I'm going to do my best to, and I'm going to rely on the people of New Hampshire to make that judgment.

ZAHN: Senator John Kerry, thanks dropping by tonight.

KERRY: Thank you.

ZAHN: We're going to take a short break.

Is it free speech or racial insensitivity? A bake sale that sparked protests on a college campus.

And tomorrow, the British invasion on American television.


ZAHN: There was an unusual bake sale at Southern Methodist University's cookies went on sale for $1 to white males, $75 cents to white women, 50 cents to Hispanics, 25 cents to African-Americans. The sale was organized by a group trying to protest affirmative action, but a black student said it was offensive, and Southern Methodist University officials halted it after just 45 minutes.

Was this a case of free speech, or was it racial insensitivity? That's the subject of our debate tonight. Robin Preston is the social chair of the group that staged the sale, the Young Conservatives of Texas. And Jim Caswell is vice-president, student affairs for SMU. They both join us from Dallas tonight, welcome.


ZAHN: Robin, I'm going to start...


ZAHN: Our pleasure. I'm going to start with you this evening, Robin. You couldn't have been surprised that African-American students or any minority for that matter would be offended by what you were trying to do.

PRESTON: Well, we always know that people will be offended when you're talking about such a hot topic such as affirmative action. But, our goal was to minimize the amount of people that were offended by getting out and talking to people, and encouraging debate, encouraging people to come up and ask us questions.

ZAHN: What was the point you were trying to make? That white males have to work longer and harder than minorities? I'm not sure exactly what you were trying to communicate?

PRESTON: We were trying to communicate that affirmative action is just discrimination and discrimination of any kind is wrong, and we thought that it would be better to have someone that was equal, but we realized that we had to show in some concrete form the way that affirmative action is not equal.

ZAHN: So, Jim, the point these students were making, that they were exercising their free speech, and they said if they represented any kind of threat to the safety of fellow students you should have called security and do something about it as opposed to shutting it down. Why did you take the action we did?

CASWELL: Well, we certainly value free speech and that was part of what they were doing. They had a table on the mall, and were moving ahead with the bake sale. A whole number of students, black and white students, gathered, and the shouting began and several students came inside the building and said, you need to check this out.

And so one of our staff -- two of our staff members went out, observed, and it was the level of volatility was getting higher and higher, and it was a judgment call that we didn't want to endanger any student, and we closed it down and asked if we could pursue this in another forum in another manner, and would like to do that.

ZAHN: Robin, did you think any student was in danger at any point of this?

PRESTON: No, there was only a handful of people, and what some people seen as shouting, it was just a debate between some of the members of our club and some people that had come up. And yes we were -- we were not yelling, we were not threatening each other. It was just we were talking about the issue.

And if we were in real danger, we would have stopped it ourselves, but we didn't feel that we were in danger. And I think if the administration thought we were in danger, maybe they should have taken the security and helped us out.

ZAHN: What about that, Mr. Caswell? You have the last word tonight.

CASWELL: It was a judgment call from our staff on the scene. There were other persons that had a different point of view than Robin's. And it was a judgment call that our staff made, and simply to protect our students, we thought that was the appropriate thing to do.

ZAHN: We are going to have to leave it there this evening. Robin Preston, Jim Caswell, thank you for both sides of the story here this evening.

CASWELL: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: And they threw off the gloves and went for the knock out. The question is, did one of the California recall candidates get hit below the belt? We'll hear her take when we come back.

And no you're not watching an R-rated movie, just some prime time programming. When we come back. Jeanne Moos counts the cuss words, as she calls them, that show up on TV.


ZAHN: You may have heard about a study showing a huge jump in foul language on prime time TV. Well, to read about a study like that is one thing, but to sit and count the bad words for three straight hours of prime time television, well, that assignment went to Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when mom said to watch your language, tell it to the TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your full of crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to be a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that's fine with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't ask for much damn it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're turning into a real pain in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just said A double snakes.

MOOS: We fixed ourselves some popcorn and sat our A double snakes down to spent prime time counting swear words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did these self proclaimed evil (BLEEP) make it to the end.

(on camera): My goodness, did you hear that?


MOOS: That would be scatological language I think

(voice-over): The group that released the blue tube report breaks foul language down into five categories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Damn it Danny I have no Idea.


MOOS: Sometimes it was hard to keep up.

(on camera): And we had two censored.

(voice-over): The watchdogs at the Parents Television Council are more scientific. They have six analysts who sit in cubicles with headphones on and listen to tapes of the program so that they can stop when they hear an offending phrase or word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell is this.

MOOS (on camera): The good news is that in every time slot, mild oaths and curses comprised a larger share of the foul language.



MOOS: That wasn't so mild.

(voice-over): Time to watch your TV's mouth out -- with soap.

Jeanne Moos, CNN


MOOS: New York.


ZAHN: The terminator versus Arianna Huffington. She will join us talking about her debate battle with Arnold Schwarzenegger. There she is. Good evening. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: Five candidates participated in last night's California recall debate, but most of the talk today is about the sparring between two of them, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (I), RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: It was completely hypocritical of Arnold. Let me finish. Let finish.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: Arianna, you're talking about the content right now, not about the education


HUFFINGTON: You know this is completely impolite. This is the way you treat women, we know that, but not now.

STATHAM: That was a direct and personal attack on Mr. Schwarzenegger, so would you respond?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I would just like to say that I just realized that I have a perfect part for you in "terminator 4." That's it.


ZAHN: So is Arianna Huffington ready for her close-up in Terminator 4. Lets find out. She joins us tonight from San Francisco. I know you're hoping there will be a Terminator 4 very shortly here.

My question is, did you know specifically what scene he was talking about in "Terminator 3"?

HUFFINGTON: Yes, actually I have this excerpt from an interview, Paula, in July, not that long ago, when he actually said, how many times do you get away with this, to take a woman, grab her upside down, and bury her face in a toilet bowl? That's what he was talking about. And that's why there's been this amazing response from women. I have thousands of e-mails. I am here in San Francisco. I was in Sacramento this morning. I'm being stopped in the streets by women who are feeling that this really was a sense of recognition for them. That they've had that bullying in different parts of their lives. Some the women were very successful. They were talking about boardroom experiences. Others were women of college age.

ZAHN: But, Arianna, don't you have to keep that in perspective here. It was a machine whose head they stuffed in a toilet.

HUFFINGTON: Yes. But how many people do you know -- how many men do you know, I hope not that many, who are giddy at the thought of taking a woman's head, as he said, and sticking it into the toilet? But beyond that, Paula, what is interesting politically is that Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent many millions of dollars creating a phony political persona. And in one moment last night in the debate -- that's why I like that format -- the truth was revealed, that here's his history, the history he's tried to distance himself from by going on Oprah and talking about women in a different way than his past would expect us to. ZAHN: Let's play a short part of that exchange where I think many pundits came to the conclusion that you were the chief attack dog of the evening. Lets watch it together.


HUFFINGTON: One of the most important things I wanted to achieve tonight is expose Arnold Schwarzenegger, who he is, a phony independent who started running, pretending he was an independent, while surrounding himself with an entire (UNINTELLIGIBLE) machine. A man who cannot be trusted in terms of his word.


ZAHN: There were very low expectations for some, for Arnold Schwarzenegger going into this debate. If you pick up any analysis today, people would suggest that he did, OK.

HUFFINGTON: Well, what was so interesting is -- the excerpt that you played was from the press conference after the debate.

ZAHN: Yes, that was a mistake.

HUFFINGTON: What was interesting is that Schwarzenegger did not want me to ask him certain questions. That's why he kept interrupting and interrupting and not giving way. The questions he didn't want to be asked is, how can you say that you are not going to take any special-interest money, as he said at the beginning of his campaign. And now he's taken over $8 million from agribusiness, developers, business interests, the very people who know if he's elected he's going to do their bidding. And that's why, Paula, in the end, there is no solution to the problems of California without public financing of campaigns, which is what I did this morning. I introduced an initiative for public financing of campaigns. Otherwise, we are going to continue in this mess.

ZAHN: Final question for you, and we have about 20 seconds to answer. A lot of people have accused of us being a political chameleon. Just address that charge, and we'll have to wrap it up.

HUFFINGTON: I don't even know what that charge means. I used to be a Republican. Over the last seven years, I've developed a very coherent political philosophy, populous progressive, especially around the issue of taking money out of the politics and being able to running clean elections without being beholden to special interests. And that is at the heart of last nights debates for me.

ZAHN: And we're going to have to leave it there this evening. Arianna Huffington, thank you for dropping by.

And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thank so much for being with us. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Again, good of you to join us. Have a good night.


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