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Clark Unscathed After Debate; Davis v. Schwarzenegger

Aired September 26, 2003 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Wesley Clark hits New Hampshire apparently unbruised by his first presidential debate.

CLARK: I thought it went great. I loved being up there. It was really terrific.

ANNOUNCER: Follow the money with the next '04 fund-raising deadline just days away, is any Democrat ready to cash it in?

California dreamin'. Does Gray Davis really want to go one on one with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Don't call us, we'll call you with the "Political Play of the Week."

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV), RANKING MEMBER, APPROPRIATIONS CMTE.: Fifty million Americans cannot be wrong.

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. This hour Iraq Administrator Paul Bremer briefs reporters at the Pentagon. We're going to go to that live.

But first, Iraq war critic Wesley Clark is making his first trip to New Hampshire as a Democratic presidential candidate. Today, a second poll shows Clark entering the field in third place in the lead- off primary state right be hind Howard Dean and John Kerry.

CNN's Dan Lothian is with Wesley Clark in New Hampshire. Dan, tell us about it.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after his first presidential debate, retired General Wesley Clark hit the campaign trail with confidence.

CLARK: It was terrific. I loved it. It was just wonderful. LOTHIAN: At this Manchester, New Hampshire, diner, Clark wasted no time taking a swipe at what he told potential supporters is a failed Bush administration.

QUESTION: How do you feel about all of Bush's policies?

CLARK: Well, I'm very concerned. I think his foreign policy's a disaster. He doesn't have a strategy that will make us safer.

LOTHIAN: Late to the race but first in some national polls, Clark is trying to capitalize on his momentum, pushing his $100 billion jobs plan while some say still tweaking his position on many key position. Something that's drawn a lot of criticism.

CLARK: And I will be coming out with a set of policy proposals just as quick as I can do it. I've been in the race 10 days and I'm proud to say I've got a better jobs program in 10 days than George Bush has had in two and a half years.

LINDA WEISNER, CLARK CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: He hasn't formulated all his answers right now but based on the information that he's given so far he seems to be able to make correct choices, he seems to be a very smart man. And I have confidence that he'll come up with the right solutions.

LOTHIAN: But Clark who has admitted for voting for Reagan and Nixon is also having to answer questions about his commitment to the Democratic Party.

CLARK: I was going to be either a very, very lonely Republican or I was going to be a very happy Democrat. And I am a Democrat and I'm proud to be one. I'm a new Democrat.

LOTHIAN: As Clark works the sidewalks of Manchester's commercial district, he's trying to play catch-up in the backyard of two other top tier candidates, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean who currently leads the polls in New Hampshire.


LOTHIAN: Now, those poll numbers, Dean is ahead by 35 percent here in New Hampshire, Kerry by 22 percent and Clark with 11 percent.

Now, one other note that we noticed yesterday in the debates, when he was asked, Clark was asked about specific questions that he didn't want to confront, he would always have sort of a default phrase. He would say that he didn't really deal in hypotheticals.

Well, that, again, was the case today when he was asked not about what he would do for this country but when he was asked who would win the baseball game for -- between New York or Boston. Of course he's here in this territory, where there are Boston Red Sox fans. And he said, you know what? I don't deal in hypotheticals.

So that seems to be the default answer that he gives every time he's confronted with a question he just does not want to answer -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well it may be a safe fall-back for a while. We'll see how long it lasts.

Dan, if you can, any way you can compare the size and the enthusiasm of the people who seem to be following Clark or attracted to him compared to what Kerry and Dean are drawing?

LOTHIAN: Well right now here in New Hampshire today he doesn't have a lot of people coming out to see him, at least he didn't this morning. There were some supporters there, there were people with signs who were chanting for him and he does have that support here for his campaign.

But there are a lot of people he was meeting for the first time. In fact, one lady, when he walked up, she says, You know, I don't know anything about you. and he said, well, introduced himself, said he recently got into the race and would like her vote.

That is what he has to do here because some people simply don't know about him at all, some don't know enough about him, and those are the people he's trying to attract.

WOODRUFF: And we know in New Hampshire the expectations are high. Most of those voters want to meet the candidates personally.

LOTHIAN: That is true. And what I'm saying is that as I mentioned in the piece, the two other top tier candidates have already been here, people know who they are. So he is playing some catch-up when it comes to that.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dan Lothian, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Well at least two of Wesley Clark's rivals are taking jabs at him today after avoiding attacks on the retired general during last night's debate. Joe Lieberman is accusing Clark of recently proclaiming himself a Democrat for, quote, "political convenience, not conviction." Clark's camp calls that accusation desperate.

Howard Dean's slap was more subtle during comments about last night's debate.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All he had to do was not make any mistakes last night. I think the biggest problem he's going to have is convincing people he's a Democrat.


WOODRUFF: Well, questions about Dean's party ties come a day after the Republican National Committee released a tape of Clark at a Republican dinner in 2001 praising President Bush and Ronald Reagan. Clark said he was never partisan when he was in the military, but he says there was only one party to join when it was time to speak out -- the Democrats.

Well we check in on some other Democratic hopefuls in our Friday "Campaign News Daily." John Kerry began his day by greeting New York subway commuters. Kerry shook hands and also said hellos to workers as they came out of a station in Manhattan. He also took the opportunity to continue his criticism of rivals Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are really struggling in the middle and the working families of America. And Governor Dean and Mr. Gephardt obviously have a policy where they're going to raise those taxes significantly and I think that's the wrong policy for America.


WOODRUFF: If you want to look at the split between John Kerry and Dick Gephardt up close, look no further than the Kennedy family. Senator Edward Kennedy is campaigning for Senator Kerry, his Massachusetts colleague, tomorrow in Waterloo, Iowa.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Senator Kennedy's son, Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, arrives in Waterloo, Iowa to campaign for his long-time House colleague Dick Gephardt.

Howard Dean is here in Washington today to pick up some new endorsements. Three more D.C. City Council members endorsed Dean this afternoon, adding to the six council members who endorsed him earlier this month.

Well high-profile endorsements can help a presidential hopeful. But at this stage of the game money probably matters a lot more. With another '04 fund-raising deadline approaching, it pays to check the Democratic candidates' finances.


DEAN: You are the ones that are doing it and I thank you very, very much.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The small state governor is on track to smash Democratic records with aides predicting a $15 million haul by the September 30 deadline. Howard Dean's fund-raising juggernaut is in part powered by a much heralded team of online contributors, rallying around a virtual baseball bat. His rivals have taken note.

John Kerry urges supporters to hammer bush out of the White House and consign the president to the dust bin of history by forking over dollars to the Democrat. The senator is expected to report between $4 and $6 million for this three-month period.

In the same range, Joe Lieberman, whose Web site counts down the seconds left to contribute. And Dick Gephardt, who's hoping to bounce back from a disappointing second quarter. His aides insist they are just pacing themselves, boasting that Republicans fear the tortoise.

John Edwards is looking to finish fifth despite his online offer of a jogging head band in exchange for donations. It's almost as cool as the die cast replica of Bob Graham's Nascar truck, yours for just 80 bucks.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A first and a fourth in the first two races.

WOODRUFF: But not fast enough to boost the senator's fortunes. He's looking at a disappointing fourth quarter which could push him out of the race.

And then there's the great unknown. Newbie candidate Wesley Clark, in the game for just over a week. His aides predict they'll have a couple million in their coffers by next Tuesday.


WOODRUFF: Well, now we turn to the president and his criticism -- or rather criticism of his Iraq policy. Senate Democrat Edward Kennedy's challenging Mr. Bush again today to offer a realistic plan for rebuilding Iraq. Without it, Kennedy says it's an insult to U.S. troops for the administration to ask Congress for an $87 billion blank check.

Well let's check in now with our senior White House correspondent John King. John, are they concerned at the White House that now it's not just Democrats but it's also Republicans who are expressing concerns, raising questions about the money to rebuild Iraq?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more than concerned, Judy, they are quite worried. The president is off to Camp David for the weekend. International lobbying there, the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

But here at home perhaps even more trouble than the president has overseas at the moment. That key issue is not the entire $87 billion. What has Congress up in arms, including many Republicans, is that $20 billion in reconstruction money. Some of it would go, several million, to bring the postal ZIP code system to Iraq the phone area code system to Iraq several million more. Many lawmakers are saying why should this be a grant? Why should it not be a loan to the country that has the world's second largest oil reserves?

Now, the White House publicly is insisting this should be a grant but listen to the press secretary, Scott McClellan. He opened the door to compromise today, a clear sign of White House worry.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're continuing to fight for the package as we outlined it and as we presented it to Congress. But obviously we recognize this is a process where we work together on it.


KING: And behind the scenes officials have a much more bleak assessment. They say they are being told by key Republicans on Capitol Hill the president will have no choice but to compromise. Some are saying that perhaps half of that $20 billion, some even say it could go higher, will come to the White House in the form of loans and loan guarantees, not the grants the president wants.

Judy, this is a significant week in Washington. The president is seeing even some of his long-time allies on Capitol Hill voicing in public and private deep concerns about his Iraq policy. And not only his policy overseas, but its effect on domestic politics here in the United States.

WOODRUFF: It's a time, I'm sure, the White House had hoped would not come. All right, John King, thank you very much.

In California now, Democrats continue their effort to nationalize the recall election. We're told that presidential candidate Wesley Clark will campaign with Governor Gray Davis next week.

Today Davis has another prominent party member at his side even as he talks about a possible debate with Arnold Schwarzenegger. CNN's Kelly Wallace has more from Hollywood, California. Kelly, what's this all about?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, that latest nationally recognized Democrat is speaking right behind me. It is former Texas Governor Ann Richards. She has been wowing this crowd really with one-liners, trying to juice up Democrats, especially women, to go out and defeat this recall.

A short time ago she had this crowd chanting "We want a debate." And that's because Governor Gray Davis, as we know yesterday, said that if Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his words, does not stop distorting his record then perhaps he might have to debate him.

Well, the Davis aides say there's a possibility we could hear Davis say this again today and possibly even at some point issue a former challenge to Arnold Schwarzenegger to debate.

Why is Davis doing this? well, the Davis team says that Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone increasingly negative on the air and in debates against Governor Davis. And Politics 101, when someone goes negative, you respond in kind.

But also the Davis team believes that Arnold Schwarzenegger was really hurt over the past several weeks by accusations that he was dodging debates. So they believe if Davis challenges him to a debate and he refuses, Davis could score some points.

Right now their internal polls still show them, according to Davis aides, a couple of points shy of defeating this recall. No surprise Schwarzenegger's aides say they are absolutely not going to have Schwarzenegger debate. And they accuse Davis of being desperate, saying his campaign is cratering -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Well, it's the latest wrinkle to come out of this campaign. Another debate over another debate. All right, Kelly Wallace, there, you can see her in Hollywood with Governor Davis right behind her.

Right now we want to go to the Pentagon where Iraq's administrator, Paul Bremer, is briefing reporters. It's just gotten under way. Let's go there now.


WOODRUFF: Still ahead, right here, reviewing the Democratic presidential debate. How did newcomer Wesley Clark fit in? We'll look back at the faceoff and where the race goes from here.

And later, unusual things can happen when one of America's least liked groups of people takes on another.


WOODRUFF: A little breaking political news out of California. These are live pictures from Hollywood where Governor Gray Davis has just officially challenged Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger to a debate in that California recall election.

Apparently the words were spoken just a few moments ago. There were some hints coming from the Davis camp. Now it's official. So far the Schwarzenegger people saying they're not interested, but we'll have to wait and see. INSIDE POLITICS right after this.



REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it. Not someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.


DEAN: That is flat out false and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.

The fact is that what I -- first of all, I did say Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully. I've done more for health insurance in this country, Dick Gephardt, frankly, than you have because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people.

KERRY: In defense of Dick Gephardt, I didn't hear him say he was like Newt Gingrich, I heard him say that he stood with Newt Gingrich when we were struggling to hold on to Medicare. That's a policy difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Tough talk there.

Well, the first Democratic presidential debate to feature new presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. It did include some tough back and forth between the candidates, much of it aimed at Howard Dean.

With me now to talk a little more about the debate, CNN's Jonathan Karl and "TIME" magazine's Karen Tumulty.

Jon, to you first. Was anybody really helped by this debate last night for all the back and forth we heard?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, certainly General Clark stood on the stage with the other nine candidates, was overly general. I mean, this guy came out and said he's a Democrat because he's pro-health, for example, in his opening statement. I'm pro-health, I'm pro-environment. But he looked like he was one of the candidates. He didn't look like a guy that had been running nine days. It wasn't a Admiral Stockdale moment. He looked like a legitimate candidate. So if anything, I think you could say marginally he was helped. He showed he could compete.

WOODRUFF: Karen, could he have said more though. There was some -- all of those stories today pointed out that he didn't have a lot to say.

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME": Well, the fact is, though, that the first question he got was the toughest question he was going to get. And in some ways he really hit that one out of the park. He said, You're right, I used to be a nonpartisan type of guy. I actually put my trust in this president and he basically failed me. I think that this is a message that may not play so much with the base, but it could play with kind of the independent voters who are allowed to vote in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.

WOODRUFF: Jon, what about Howard Dean. He's the one who we kept hearing was the frontrunner before this.

KARL: There is panic in some circles among Democrats that if Howard Dean wins the nomination, he simply can't beat Bush. So you have a situation where you've got, you know, both candidates that are in the race clearly see him as the threat. Clearly they're not afraid of Clark yet. He's that enigma.

Dean is the threat. Dean is the one they're going to have to bring down. And that's what you had going on. And I think you're going to see more of that, and I think that's what you see with a lot of this rallying to Clark from those who aren't committed yet. They're afraid that he's going to win.

Now others say that Dean's the only guy that's firing up the -- the base.

WOODRUFF: Democrats (UNINTELLIGIBLE). How do you see it, Karen?

TUMULTY: Well, I think, however, that, in fact, this is the beginning of Howard Dean, what he's going to see. And the fact is that his opponents are not yet throwing their high heat at him. And some of his worst moments were when you would see the split screen and it was his reaction to the criticism of him and he would sort of puff up and look very defensive. And I think he's got to find a better way to sort of get into his groove when he's being attacked.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Karen Tumulty, Jonathan Karl, you guys are great to come and talk to us on this Friday. We appreciate it. It just keeps getting more interesting.

More INSIDE POLITICS right after this.


WOODRUFF: Members of Congress showed some real speed this week when they addressed an issue affecting almost all Americans.

Bill Schneider joins me now with more -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What do 50 million people get in American politics? Whatever they want, including "The Political Play of the Week."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got caller I.D.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me speak to your supervisor. You're bothering me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No speak-y English, Deutsche only.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Frustrated Americans have come up with many strategies for dealing with annoying telemarketers.

In June, the federal government saw an idea whose time has come. Bingo! Fifty million Americans put their phone numbers on the "do-not- call" list, scheduled to go into effect next week. Telemarketers cried foul.

TIM SEARCY, AMERICAN TELESERVICES ASSOCIATION: That's not the role of federal government, to decide what kinds of commercial messages you receive and what kind of commercial messages you don't receive.

SCHNEIDER: On Wednesday, a federal judge in Oklahoma City agreed and blocked the list from going into effect, saying the FTC did not have the authority to keep the list.

JAY LENO, TONIGHT SHOW HOST: The judge says the telemarketers can call you whenever (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know what we should do? Let's all call this judge tonight at home at dinner.

SCHNEIDER: On Thursday, Congress sprang into action, based on a clear political principle.

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: I would note that 50 million Americans, as our chairman has indicated to you, cannot be wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a five-minute vote.

SCHNEIDER: Within one day -- one day -- Congress passed a bill giving the FTC authority to mandate a "do-not-call" list.

Politicians find it easy to beat up on telemarketers. After all, who's less popular than telemarketers?

Here's the answer -- 22 percent of Americans give journalists low ratings for honesty and ethical standards. Not bad, huh? Thirty-four percent give Congressmen low ratings. About the same as lawyers. Car salesmen, a majority say they're dishonest. But telemarketers are in a class by themselves. Nobody ranks lower than telemarketers. How about judges? Whoops! They weren't tested.

Thursday night, another federal judge banned the "do-not-call" registry from going into effect, saying it discriminated against commercial telemarketers by allowing calls on behalf of charities and political causes.

Will Congress now act to ban political calls? Well, that's different, isn't it?

The real difference is that federal judges aren't elected. Congress is. So, as a result...

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I believe this legislation has set the Congressional land speed record for legislating.

SCHNEIDER: And for "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Can pollsters still call you in the middle of dinner? Of course they can. That's free speech. You have a Constitutional right to be polled. Excuse me, I got carried away.


WOODRUFF: First time I've seen journalists at the top of a list.

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

That's it for INSIDE -- or, actually INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: That's it for this Friday's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.


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