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Schwarzenegger Apologizes for Randy Behavior on Set; Interview With Tom DeLay

Aired October 2, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Arnold Schwarzenegger's bus tour gets side-tracked, by detailed allegations of sexual impropriety. And a mixed response from the candidate.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: A lot of what you see in the stories is not true. Yes, I have behaved badly sometimes.

ANNOUNCER: Would a win for Schwarzenegger in California be a good thing for President Bush in 2004? The conventional wisdom may be wrong.

The Hill echoes with Iraq politics as the top weapons hunter testifies.

And at least one Democrat seems to liken the CIA leak saga to Watergate.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: There is a cancer spreading in this administration.



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. More on a dramatic day in California in just a few moments. But we begin with the CIA leak investigation and White House efforts at damage control. The more Democrats try to press the issue, the more the Bush administration charges that partisanship is at play.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Now, you see what happens here in Washington, D.C. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) decided to try to move the goal post and sensationalize this issue for a political -- for partisan political gain.


KING: That doesn't seem to be deterring the Democrats. Our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl, is following the very spirited back and forth on Capitol Hill -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Democrats continue to hammer away at this, complaining about how this investigation is unfolding, even as it has only been under way for a couple of days. Democrats are saying John Ashcroft, attorney general -- as attorney general cannot be in charge of this investigation and reaching for more and more Watergate analogies. Earlier today on the Senate floor Tom Harkin echoed the famous words of John Dean.


HARKIN: There is a cancer spreading in this administration. Most have focused only on who it was that gave the name of the undercover agent to Mr. Novak, the columnist. Clearly, that is illegal.

But there is another question behind that -- how did that individual or individuals get access to this classified information about this undercover agent?


KARL: And in another tact Senator Barbara Boxer joined with two other women Democrats here in the Senate to say this issue is, in one sense, a women's issue.


SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: It has so many levels that have struck a chord with the American people. The intimidation factor. The fact of going after someone's family. The fact that you would stop a woman who's on a career ladder. I mean, there's just layers and layers that have struck a chord here. And I think women should be unrelenting on this one because we all have really -- we really feel that this has to stop.


KARL: Republicans are, by and large, supporting the president so far on this, although I spoke a little while ago with Senator Olympia Snowe and asked her about Democratic calls for Ashcroft to recuse himself from this. And she said it is something, quote, "that might be the best way of bolstering confidence in the process." Something she said that Ashcroft should at least consider doing -- John.

KING: Jonathan Karl live on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Now the head of CIA's search for banned weapons in Iraq brief members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees behind closed doors today. David Kay administration officials say, was not expected to produce any solid evidence that chemical or biological weapons have been found. Kay refused to comment to reporters between hearings. Lawmakers were tight-lipped, as well.

On CNN this morning the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee talked about what she hoped to ask Mr. Kay. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: My first question is what have you found? And if you haven't found very much, what were the problems with our intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq? Just what I've been talking about. Did we collect enough information? Was it hard enough information? What were the problem with the products we put out leading up to the war in Iraq? He wasn't a part of that.


KING: Over at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it's too early to determine the success or failure of the weapons hunt.

A related development we want to bring you now. A CIA response to criticism from some members of Congress about the quality of pre- war intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs. Our national security correspondent, David Ensor, joins us live with this new development -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, CNN has obtained copies of a letter that George Tenant, the director of Central Intelligence has written to the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee responding to complaints they made about inadequate intelligence Iraq prior to the war. The nation's spymaster has written a letter bluntly disagreeing.

"The suggestion by the committee," he says, "that we did not challenge long-standing judgments and assessments is simply wrong." Now he goes on to say, "that I emphatically disagree with the committee's view that intelligence reports on Iraq's ties to al Qaeda should have been screened out by a more rigorous vetting process before they were provided to analysts." He says, "Providing analysts information on Iraq's connection to terrorists makes no sense to me."

This latter is dated October 1, yesterday. In it, Tenant also complains about the timing of the complaints from the Hill, saying it's premature since David Kay, the CIA's man in charge of the search, has much more work to do and is not prepared to draw conclusions at this point.

Tenant defended the intelligence prior to the war Iraq in the letter calling it honest and professional. And he said he wish the lawmakers had not made their letter public before giving the intelligence community a chance to respond -- John.

KING: David Ensor, thank you very much, that latest development. The search in Iraq and the debate continues here in Washington.

And from the weapons hunt to the CIA leak investigation, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has his hands full of Iraq-related hot buttons. I went up to Capitol Hill today and asked DeLay why Republicans simply don't just go along with calls for an independent investigation and save themselves the political grief. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: The only reason that you would appoint a special counsel is if the White House is trying to cover up something or trying to obstruct justice. That is not the case here and the Justice Department can handle it and the White House's internal workings can also handle it.

The Democrats are trying to make it a much-bigger deal than it is. They're grasping at straws to try to undermine the credibility of this president. And they, frankly, ought to take a deep breath and settle down and let the process work.

KING: One of the things the White House is worried about is Republicans joining this call, saying why not? Let's have a special prosecutor, a special counsel. Senator Hagel quoted in the newspapers this morning saying the president need to get out more in front of this. Maybe he should sit down with the vice president.

Any sense that there's a Republican nervousness about this?

DELAY: Oh, you're going to have one maverick Republican here or there make some sort of statement. But I think the Republicans have a great deal of respect for this president. They appreciate what he has been able to do in his moral leadership. They greatly appreciate how he's been able to turn around this administration and raise the ethical standards for service to the people of the United States.

So, I don't see any erosion or anything. Our members in the House support this president. They appreciate what he's doing.

KING: So you see no erosion. Do you see any irony in the tables being turned? Mrs. Clinton writes in her book about what a horrible thing the independent counsel is. Now, she says there should be something similar in this case. Many Republicans said during the Clinton administration Janet Reno couldn't handle this. She's got a conflict of interest. Go outside. Any irony just in watching that dynamic?

DELAY: Well, I think there's not a lot of irony, there's a lot of hypocrisy going on around here.

What I see is in the Clinton administration, it was obvious they were trying to cover up -- the president lied even to the American people on television. That's a different situation than which you find here. This president has a strong moral foundation from which he operates and he has exhibited that. And it permeates completely throughout his administration.

KING: One of the arguments the Democrats seize on is no discovery as of yet of weapons of mass destruction. The president's point man in that search, David Kay, is up on Capitol Hill today.

Does it concern you, from a political standpoint, heading into not only a presidential year but congressional election year that has been no evidence found yet? Does it worry you that Democrats could make something of that?

DELAY: I think all I have do is go back to the pictures of the World Trade Center's towers coming down, and then go to the pictures of the mothers and children that were gassed in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, and that's enough for me to know that he had weapons of mass destruction. He used them.

And the only we can protect the American people is to go get them. And that's what we did.

KING: What you just did is one of the things Democrats complain about. They say what does the World Trade Center, a horrible event, but what does that have to do with Saddam Hussein?

DELAY: Saddam Hussein was a supporter of terrorists. I mean everybody knows that. He gave them money, he gave them sanctuary, he gave them training, he was part of the terrorist network as the president said. And it's true. Iraq and Saddam Hussein was central to the war on terror. It's not the whole war. But it certainly was central to the war on terror.

KING: We learned this morning that one of the things in this $87 billion supplemental request is $600 million to continue the search for weapons of mass destruction. Money worth spending or should they just give it up?

DELAY: No, I think if they're there we need to find them. And we need to spend the money to that. It's vitally important to get them, No. 1, so nobody else can use them.

And I think it's also important to look at how Saddam Hussein was able to put all this together, how he was -- how he could hide these things. It'll help us in the war on terror in the future.


KING: We turn now to the California recall and a sudden swerve for Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign. "The Los Angeles Times" today reported detailed accusations by six women who say they were groped and degraded by Schwarzenegger at various times over three decades. The Republican rush to try to contain the political fallout, with an admission and an apology.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, keeping track of all this, while she rides on the Schwarzenegger campaign bus across the state.

Candy joins us now live from Costa Mesa -- Candy.


Costa mesa is the second of the stop.

And I want to give you the big picture first, and that is that the show goes on, that despite these morning allegations from the women in "The Los Angeles Times," that this campaign is moving on. Nonetheless, it is populated by people who have been around the block before. And they knew that before they started this day they really had to tackle "The Los Angeles Times" story. And so at his very first stop in his very first speech, that's what Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to do.


SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes, that I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which I thought then was playful. But now I recognize that I have offended people. And those people I have offended I want to say to them, I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize because this is not what I'm trying to do.


CROWLEY: Now, just to sort of work you through the nuances of this. What the Arnold campaign staff says is that some of what in "The Los Angeles Times" is true and some of it is not, although they wouldn't detail which was which.

Look, a campaign speech and an apology given through a speech is one thing. Remains to be seen how Schwarzenegger does when reporters get near him to talk to him about these various allegations. Seemed to me that that is the next step in this. John, you know as well as I do that these things sort of follow a pattern. And at this point, we have not had a chance to talk to Mr. Schwarzenegger about it. But I judge with this four-day campaign looming large, they'd like to get that out of the way -- out of the way with too -- John.

KING: Candy, we're lucky to have you there to keep us posted on that, and we understand you're literally about to miss bus. We will let you go and...


KING: A crazy few days ahead. Candy Crowley, thank you very much.

Governor Davis, meantime, says he's not going to offer his personal opinion about the reports of Arnold Schwarzenegger's past behavior. At a stop in Santa Monica to tout his environmental records, Davis says he's leaving the decision up to the people of California. The governor was quick to point out that his campaign had no role in publicizing the allegations.


GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: "The L.A. Times" said in its story that nobody in the race for governor was the source of this story.


KING: The governor also said anything else he might have to say about the issue would be, in his word, "superfluous."

If Californians boot Davis and elect Schwarzenegger next week, what will that mean for President Bush in 2004? Our Bill Schneider's thoughts on the subject might surprise you.

And what if presidential candidates had to take a sports trivia pop quiz? Find out which one might not pass.

And up next, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. I'll ask him if he and his party are playing the CIA leak controversy to their political advantage.


KING: With me here now in Washington, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe.

Terry, I want to ask you first about the Democrats' involvement in the political debate about this leak investigation.

I want to show you first a personal gift from Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. He says Democrats are hyperventilating and in case you lose your breath, he gave you this bag right here.

The Republicans say you're making way too much of this from a political standpoint. Let's focus on the issues of Democrats saying John Ashcroft should step aside, name an outside counsel. What the Republicans are saying is, at least give the guy a chance. Let him have a chance. Democrats made that argument about Janet Reno in the Clinton years. Give her a chance. If there's a conflict, then go outside. Why not?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, there is clearly a conflict here. Karl Rove is in the middle of this. All the stories have reported that Karl Rove is in the middle of it. Karl Rove used to represent John Ashcroft. So that is a clear conflict of interest. He used to be his client.

So it's a lot different than other circumstances. This is a very serious matter, John. This is something we're all taking very serious. We have basically outed a CIA operative. And we need to get to the bottom of it.

George Bush could make this the shortest investigation in history. If he would go to the entire White House staff and say, Every one of you sign an affidavit and say that you're not the one who leaked it. And the people who did it, send them over to Justice.

They're not going to do that. You know they're not going to do that. We could end this very quickly. And we could get it off the table. But, you know, George Bush is not willing to do it. It's a very serious issue. And they need do get to the bottom of who leaked this information and put this woman's life in jeopardy.

KING: A legal investigation, but a blossoming political debate. Your counterpart, Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, out giving a lot of interviews, questioning Joe Wilson -- Ambassador Joe Wilson, saying that he is a partisan. He has spoken at Democratic events. He has given money to a Democratic presidential candidate. He was even supposed to appear at a news conference with Democrats on Capitol Hill the other day. They pulled the plug at the last minute, I suspect because Democrats who thought strategy like you, thought maybe that's not a good idea to have Joe Wilson out there standing with our guys right now.

MCAULIFFE: Well, they like to say we're making it political. The best they can do is roll out the RNC chairman to talk about this? They're the ones making it political. They got, you know, the head of the RNC talking about it.

Ambassador Wilson, career diplomat, was appointed, I remind you, by George Bush's father to his first ambassadorial post. George Bush's father commended him as outstanding service to his country. And this might be a repentant Democrat, but the last I looked is he was a donor to the Bush/Cheney presidential campaign. So I -- you know, they ought to get off of that. This isn't about Joe Wilson. This is about the integrity. This is about our national security. They're making it political.

This is a very serious matter. This is not a joking matter. Tom DeLay can joke all he wants about it. This is a very serious leak. They outed a woman. They put her life in jeopardy. They put in jeopardy all of her contacts. This was a great asset for our country. She was a specialist on weapons of mass destruction. They've ruined her career.

And why did they do it, John? They did it for revenge. And that was just unforgivable, to go after the ambassador's wife because he was critical and basically outed them for saying that the uranium sales from Niger were occurring. He said that was false.

KING: Quickly, I want to get your views -- we're short on time today -- but two quick other issues.

These allegations and the admission by Arnold Schwarzenegger that some of them are true. That's the biggest election on the horizon. Will it have any impact?

MCAULIFFE: Sure, it will have an impact. I think what it has shown is a pattern. I think he needs to do more than come out and apologize, explain himself. There's a pattern of inappropriate behavior towards women.

But, you know, I agree with Gray Davis. This was uncovered by "The L.A. Times." The voters of California are going to have to make their mind up if they want someone with this kind of past being their governor.

KING: All 10 Democratic candidates for president coming before the DNC, the activists from all across the country. This is a critical constituency in terms of winning support, lining up other activists. One of them, the newest candidate, former General Wesley Clark, still registered as an independent in his state of Arkansas. Shouldn't he have cleaned that up by now...


KING: ...if he wants to be considered a Democrat?

MCAULIFFE: I didn't know that. I will speak to the general tomorrow. And I think he and will jointly clean that up together. I did no know that.

KING: All right. Terry McAuliffe, Democratic National Committee chairman, thank you for joining us. And you appear to still be breathing...

MCAULIFFE: You keep the bag.

KING: I'll keep the bag. You're still breathing? OK.

Next year's Democratic convention leads the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." Anyone who raises $100,000 for the party, can expect VIP treatment at the Boston convention. The big contributors will be designated as patriots and will receive featured arena seating, breakfast with the party's nominee and other perks.

In Florida, Senator Bob Graham's campaign team has gathered to assess his struggling campaign. CNN has learned Graham brought in less than $2 million in the third quarter and he has less than $1 million in cash on-hand. The money crunch is expected to lead to sizable staff layoffs. Also today, Graham's campaign spokesman resigned his post.

A Schwarzenegger victory could be a boost for President Bush. Or could it? Bill Schneider joins me to consider the impact of recall on the race for the White House.


KING: Conventional wisdom would dictate that President Bush would receive a boost, perhaps even a big boost, by having a Republican in the California governor's mansion. But is that really the case? Some insight now from our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Suppose Arnold Schwarzenegger gets elected governor of California. Would that be a good sign or bad sign for President Bush's re-election prospects?

Well, duh. Schwarzenegger's a Republican. California's a Democratic state. End of discussion? Not quite. Because Schwarzenegger's not running as a partisan Republican. SCHWARZENEGGER: It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican, if you're young or old, what the racial thing is. Nothing matters to me.

SCHNEIDER: He's running as the candidate of change.

SCHWARZENEGGER: It really comes down to this -- if you're happy with the way things are, then keep your current leaders.

SCHNEIDER: Sound familiar?

RONALD REAGAN, FRM. GOV., CALIFORNIA: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

SCHNEIDER: Whenever the economy goes sour, voters look for a candidate who offers change. And the candidate that can make the most convincing claim to change, is usually an outsider. In a presidential race someone from outside of Washington like Ronald Reagan in 1980. Or Bill Clinton in 1992.

BILL CLINTON, FRM. GOV., ARKANSAS: George Bush, if you won't use your power to help America, step aside. I will.

SCHNEIDER: Arnold Schwarzenegger is a total outsider. That's his appeal. And what makes him different from Gray Davis, Cruz Bustamante and Tom McClintock, all state capital insiders.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house.

SCHNEIDER: Electing Schwarzenegger would be a signal -- times are tough, voters want change, outsiders are in. Which may be why two Washington outsiders in the Democratic presidential race are attracting the most interest. A former governor of Vermont...

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My whole tactic is different than the Washington politicians.

SCHNEIDER: ... and a retired general with no electoral experience.

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people are really -- they're really embarrassed by the leadership of this administration.

SCHNEIDER: Meaning the Bush administration. Clark and Dean are campaigning for change in Washington but against change in California because Gray Davis is a fellow Democrat. That makes things different. Doesn't it?


SCHNEIDER: Governor Davis and President Bush are in different parties but they're selling the same thing -- continuity. Which is why Schwarzenegger's message of change threatens them both -- John.

KING: Bill Schneider, live from Los Angeles. Thank you, Bill. Sports and politics often go hand in hand. Just don't upset the wrong team's fans. Up next -- Howard Dean made a high-profile switch in baseball loyalty. Now, he appears to be having trouble with his football nicknames.


KING: Yesterday, Howard Dean was among the many politicians who rushed, all pun intended, to weigh in on Rush Limbaugh's controversial claim that the media overrated an NFL quarterback because they wanted to see an African-American succeed. But Dean perhaps should have read his paper statement more carefully.

It read, quote, "Rush Limbaugh's comment this week about Philadelphia Jets quarterback Donovan McNabb is unacceptable." As most of you probably know, it's the Eagles, not the Jets. The Dean campaign caught it quickly, too and sent out a correction.

That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


Interview With Tom DeLay>

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