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Reflections After the Democratic Presidential Debate; Interview With Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan; Interview With Congressman Sherwood Boehlert

Aired October 10, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Wesley Clark comes under fire from his campaign rivals.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I must say that I've been very disappointed since Wes Clark came into this race about the various positions he has taken on the war against Saddam Hussein.

ANNOUNCER: Was the retired general turned president candidate wounded?

How will Arnold Schwarzenegger run California?

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: If there is a problem, you can be assured that I will go directly to the people.

ANNOUNCER: We'll take a look at the governor-elect's game plan. Did the actor turned politician capture the political play of the week? Or how about one of the nine Democrats running for the White House? Our Bill Schneider will reveal the winner.


Now, from Los Angeles, a special edition of Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Well, the Democratic presidential hopefuls, including campaign newcomer Wesley Clark, are back on the campaign trail a day after they traded rhetorical blows in their latest televised debate. The forum seen here on CNN featured Clark and Howard Dean working to fend off frequent attacks from their rivals.

The war in Iraq and questions about Clark's position on the war were frequent topics. But The retired general said his position on the war has always been very clear.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was never an imminent threat. It was a problem. I fully supported taking the problem to the United Nations and dealing with it through the United Nations. I would never have voted for war. The war was an unnecessary war. It was an elective war, and it's been a huge strategic mistake for this country.


WOODRUFF: Well, with me now from Phoenix -- if she's still there -- for more on the debate is Candy Crowley, who joined me last night. Candy, you and I were both in the middle of it, but now that you've had a few hours to reflect, impressions?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think one thing that has obviously been evolving over the last several of these debates we've been watching is it no longer pays to be a Democrat that in any way signaled that you might have been for this war. And if you were a Democrat who had a flat-out vote for the war, you have to find a way to explain why it didn't go exactly the way you thought it should go or why your vote didn't mean what you thought it should mean.

If you're Joe Lieberman, who was the most hawkish of all the bunch, you do exactly what Joe Lieberman said, which was, look, I was for this war and I respect those who have been against the war. But it's the people who keep saying, well, I was a little for it and a little against it, that really bother me.

So the war right now, if you're a Democrat and you want this nomination, this message has gotten to all if these candidates that you need to be against this war. That's the first thing that's struck me.

The second thing that struck me is just the battle at this point between what the Democratic Party as a whole would like, which is a very nice united party that puts forward a mice, positive agenda, and what these individual candidates want. And that is, they want to come out on top.

They're trying to get to the nomination. The party is looking a little forward to the general nomination and they would like sort of a united front. So you saw party leaders not very happy with all that fighting, whereas it's what the candidates wanted.

Thirdly, a lot of these candidates would like some people to drop out. They just don't think that with nine of them there's enough time to get their message out in forums like this.

WOODRUFF: Candy, having said all that, do you think the dynamics of the race changed at all as a result of last night?

CROWLEY: Well, sure. If you had dropped in from Mars, you could pretty much tell who the front-runner was nationwide, because the person that stood out, obviously, is Wesley Clark, not just because he's the new guy on the block, but also because they gave him a pass at the last debate and because he's got a record that's out there of statements that seem contradictory about the war on Iraq. But in terms of anybody sort of stepping forward and shining, other than just to be attacked, I think we kind of came out where we were before, which is why it's so frustrating to some of these sort of front- runners, the top-tier candidates, who really feel as though their message is getting muddled because there's so many people out there that it's really hard to have a breakout performance when you get so little time.

WOODRUFF: Yes. And we heard their frustrations loud and clear last night, didn't we?

CROWLEY: We did, yes. And you left me here.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, thank you very much. Candy is still in Phoenix, and I hope she's going to be winging her way back to Washington over the weekend.

Meantime, we want to tell you that CNN will be re-airing the debate Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. That will be 6:30 Pacific. Once again, CNN airing the 90-minute debate this Sunday morning.

Well, more of the '04 headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." The Democratic presidential hopefuls headed back East after last night's debate. All of them except Howard Dean and John Kerry are attending a convention of South Carolina's NAACP in Charlotte, North Carolina. Now, the event is in Charlotte because the group is maintaining its economic boycott of South Carolina over the presence of the confederate battle flag in the statehouse grounds in Columbia.

The Teamsters Union is mounting a strong effort in Iowa for Congressman Dick Gephardt's campaign. Three hundred Iowa teamsters have been attending caucus workshops this week, joined by 350 more union members from out of state. Fifteen more caucus workshops are planned next month. Gephardt is expected at a teamsters rally tomorrow in Desmoines.

Earlier, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union endorsed Gephardt. They were the 18th union to back the Missouri congressman.

A new poll finding Joe Lieberman and John Kerry lead President Bush in head-to-head match-ups in the state of Connecticut. The Quinnipiac University Survey finds Lieberman ahead 53 to 42 percent among his home state voters. Mr. Bush led Lieberman by three points as recently as July. Senator Kerry also leads President Bush in Connecticut, but his lead is smaller, at just four points.

Well turning to California now, Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of the public eye on this Friday. At his most recent news conference, however, he repeated one of his favorite phrases. And that was a vow to take his agenda to the people of California if he runs into resistance from Democratic lawmakers.

More now on Schwarznegger's strategy from CNN's Charles Feldman.


CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the '60s and '70s, it was the mantra of the peace movement, power to the people. In 2003, it appears to be the governing philosophy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SCHWARZENEGGER: If there is a problem, you can be assured that I will go directly to the people, because the people of California have made it loud and clear, made it very clear that they want change.

FELDMAN: Schwarzenegger, who as an action movie star is used to being surrounded by the enemy, now finds himself in a real-life situation where the outcome is not that certain. The state legislature is controlled by Democrats. The lieutenant governor is a leftover Democrat who ran against him. And the outgoing Democratic governor, as is tradition, has been stuffing his pals into key state positions.

But Schwarzenegger seems bent on using California's long history of propositions and ballot initiatives to get around his political enemies. The only question is, can he pull it off?

MARTIN KAPLAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: He has star power. He can make people jump up and down. That's not something that traditional politicians are able to do. What are you going to do if he comes into your district, get the Dixie Chicks up on the other side of town?


FELDMAN: I love that Dixie Chicks line. Now, of course, there's always the possibility that the legislature here in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, will extend a helping hand to Schwarzenegger and give him the things he wants. But if you believe that, you've probably been watching too many movies -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: But you never know.

FELDMAN: You never know. Strange things happen, even in California.

WOODRUFF: OK. Charles Feldman, thanks very much.

There's a new twist in the electronic bugging of the Philadelphia mayor's office. Government sources are sharing details about a federal investigation into alleged public corruption.

The Democrats go after the president and each other. Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan on the winners and losers in the latest presidential debate.

And later, Arnold Schwarzenegger did steal the show, but was his performance worthy of the political play of the week?



LIEBERMAN: I must say that I've been very disappointed since Wes Clark came into this race about the various positions he has taken on the war against Saddam Hussein. The American people have lost confidence in George Bush because he hasn't leveled with them. We need a candidate who will meet the test of reaching a conclusion and having the courage to stick with it.



CLARK: I'm not going to attack a fellow Democrat, because I think everybody on this stage shares the same goal. I think it's a little -- I think it's really embarrassing that a group of candidates up here are working on changing the leadership in this country and can't get their own story straight.


WOODRUFF: Well, with us now from Washington, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Let's turn to you, the Republican, first, Bay. Watching this debate, it was beat up on Wesley Clark night, apparently. Was that the main line coming out of this contest last night?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I think it clearly was. It really put him on the defensive, see how well he does in primetime. I don't think he showed himself to be a particularly good candidate. I think he was very defensive, and he well should be.

And he obviously showed no real allegiance to the truth. I mean, when questions were asked, where they laid out exactly statements he had made, he basically either ignored them or said they didn't have a right read on them. And so I think that he never turned around and showed some real strength as a candidate.

I think he's too defensive. I think he was the real number one loser, although there were a few others, Judy. You, however, were the winner, I believe. You and your team did a great job.

WOODRUFF: Well, thanks. The candidates, though, are the ones we're focusing on -- Donna.

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I agree with Bay's assessment, Judy, of your performance. Great job. But I disagree with her in terms of Wesley Clark.

Look, there's no question that Wesley Clark in the driver's seat now. The other candidates want to remove him from the car. But he understands that he has to defend his positions not only on the war, but also amplify why he's a Democrat and what he hopes to accomplish.

I thought the real winners last night included John Kerry and Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman, who once again, as the insiders in the race, showed why they had -- why they've been able to generate the type of support. But Howard Dean and Wesley Clark are still running campaigns that reflect a deep desire in the Democratic Party to change direction in 2004.

BUCHANAN: You know Donna is right. He did have to defend his many positions, General Clark did, on the war. He's held a number of them. And I think that's where he showed himself flip-flopping as recently as twice in the last month. So it's very harmful for him. I think he's in a very weak position.

BRAZILE: But Bay, you've got to...

BUCHANAN: But Gephardt hurt himself, Judy and Donna. He hurt himself badly when that one lady asked him a very simple question. She's a businesswoman, enormous burden of taxes. What are you going to do?

He said I'm going to raise your taxes. Now, he needs to talk to his friends in California. This is not a very good campaign position to be taking out there when clearly Californians, and I think Americans across the country, are outraged at the burden taxes are placing on businesses today.

BRAZILE: Well, Gephardt defended his vote in 1993, which, of course, produced not only a record number of jobs in this country, but also balanced a budget. And I think that's what Dick Gephardt's goal is, is to distinguish himself. And he did a great job doing that last night, Bay.

WOODRUFF: Let me turn you both quickly to California. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donna, what do you expect of him?

BRAZILE: Well, I guess I need to watch the "Eraser," because we all know how "Terminator 3" ended. But look, I want to applaud Governor-Elect Schwarzenegger for putting together a stellar, bipartisan, of course, transition team.

Susan Estrich is a fine strategist and scholar. Willie Brown, I mean, you can't have someone -- I mean, with his deep experience of government, both at the state level as well as in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) level, I think the governor is putting together a good team.

But look, the voters want him to produce some results. Otherwise, he's going to be "The Running Man" in 2006.

BUCHANAN: You know Arnold did an incredible job out there. But not only was it just something -- did he win. The people of California rejected outright the policies of Gray Davis, and they also repudiated the liberal principles of Sacramento, this increasing the taxes, the catering to illegal people who are here illegally, the time of special interest money that's been so involved. They said no to all of that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to come in, he's going to turn things around. If he's successful, clearly, California is in play for Republicans a year from now. If he's not successful, Judy, it's clear he's going to blame it on the Democratic legislature; they are not working with him. And so Democrats have a lose-lose in that situation out there. BRAZILE: Bay, you're dreaming if you think California is in play because Arnold picked up the gubernatorial seat. I think California will remain safely in Democratic hands in 2004.

BUCHANAN: I don't know how you can say that. If you look at what Gephardt said, he's going to raise taxes. That's a position many of your Democratic candidates take, and the people in California say no more to raising taxes. And that is the one issue that Arnold Schwarzenegger won on so big, Donna. So how do you get the Democratic nominee to go out there and say, oh, by the way, I know you didn't like Gray's increase, but you'll like mine?

WOODRUFF: Very quickly.

BRAZILE: Bay, I tell you, in order for Republicans to win the White House back and regain Congress, they must produce. And so far, they haven't produced for anybody in this country.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to leave it right there. Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, we always love hearing from you both. Thank you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The big win for a big man. Schwarznegger's affect on the Republican Party. Will the governor-elect's victory help move his party to the center? I'll talk about that with Congressman Sherwood Boehlert. He's a member of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. The government has just announced that it has charged the Army Islamic chaplain, Captain James Yee, in the case regarding Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon has announced that he has been charged with two charges of failing to obey a lawful order. And this includes taking classified material to his home and wrongfully transporting classified material without authorization.

You will remember that Captain Yee was apprehended back on September 10th, part of the overall government investigation, the military investigation into potential espionage and aiding the enemy at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 600 al Qaeda and Taliban detainees are being held. Now, this Islamic Army chaplain has been held by the military in jail in a military facility since September 10th, when he was arrested.

These are minimal charges. These are the first charges. We are told he may still be facing much more serious charges, including espionage, as the investigation continues.

Now back to Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Barbara, very much for that update. Now we turn to the story out here in California. Fresh from his victory in the recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger says that he's willing to strike some compromises with the more conservative President Bush. Well, that may or may not happen, but a group of moderate Republicans who are claiming at least some credit for Schwarzenegger's victory, say it should serve as a wake-up call for the entire Republican Party.

A short while ago, I spoke with Congressman Sherwood Boehlert of New York. He's a member of that moderate group known as the Republican Main Street Partnership. And I began by asking him his reaction to Schwarzenegger's election.


REP. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R), NEW YORK: Well, I would suggest it's a victory for the people of California, first and foremost. We have to be most concerned about them. But secondly, it's indicative of the fact that moderates are coming to the floor in the political process across America.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean? Because there have been so many people out here who have pointed out this was an unusual election, he's a celebrity, they've never seen anything like it in California. I read one analyst said this is, you know, a once in a lifetime occurrence.

You don't buy that?

BOEHLERT: No, I don't, because there's a lot more substance there than some people are giving credit for. The Republican Main Street Partnership -- and I identify with that organization; we're a vibrant, young organization that started in '98, and now we have 50 some odd Republican members and about nine senators and half a dozen or so governors -- we looked at that race very early on and decided, one, to back the recall effort. And number two, to back Arnold Schwarzenegger, because we saw him as someone who gave promise in providing more responsible leadership for the state of California. He is the quintessential moderate.

WOODRUFF: But I had a very conservative Republican tell me the night of the election, he said to me if Dianne Feinstein had thrown her hat in and run, he said she would have beaten everybody else. How does that square with what you're saying?

BOEHLERT: Well, if Dianne Feinstein did throw her hat in that's a lot of if, if, if. The fact of the matter is Arnold Schwarzenegger did come forward, he threw his hat in the ring, and he campaigned vigorously, and he campaigned on some themes that I closely identify with, and so do most moderates.

WOODRUFF: Where do you place him on the ideological spectrum, and what do you base it on when you say you view him as a moderate?

BOEHLERT: I'm very comfortable with him, and so are we in the Republican Main Street Partnership, because we view him as a center right sort of a guy, and that's what we are too as moderates. We tend to be more fiscally conservative, but more inclusive as we deal with social issues.

You know people tend to think that everything involves principle. And that isn't exactly so. For example, if we decide to go forward with Head Start Program, the principle is we will support that at the federal level and go forward. Then we start arguing about the exact dollar amounts.

So principle is already established. Now we're dickering for price. And what we have learned in our investigation and thorough analysis of Mr. Schwarzenegger is that he is a guy who wants to govern. He wants to govern and bring the various parties together and get things done.

WOODRUFF: Were you troubled by the allegations of sexual misconduct toward women?

BOEHLERT: Well, obviously, anyone is troubled by allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of anyone. But those are allegations. Those are allegations in the heat of a campaign.

We have no verification that they, in fact, are true. Governor- Elect Schwarzenegger has acknowledged in his early days, his misspent youth, if you will, he was guilty of what is commonly referred to as boorish behavior. And if he did what some suggested he did, guilty as charged. But the fact of the matter is that's a quarter century ago. Here is a guy who has put himself forward to try to provide leadership for a state that is in desperate need of leadership.


WOODRUFF: Congressman Sherwood Boehlert of New York.

Quick now: what do California voters and the Declaration of Independence have in common? Time's up, but our Bill Schneider gives you the answer in his political play of the week.


WOODRUFF: Well, if you thought you'd heard it all in the ruckus that was called the California recall, our Bill Schneider has a history lesson for you -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, the Declaration of Independence says whenever a government becomes disruptive of life, liberty and happiness, it is the right of the people to abolish it and institute a new government. California voters did something like that this week. And the play of the week goes to the father of that revolution.


TED COSTA, PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE: We wanted to have a little tea party over here at People's Advocate. We didn't have any tea, so we decided we'd throw the governor overboard. SCHNEIDER: Meet the Patrick Henry of California: Ted Costa. He started the campaign to gather signatures for the recall last spring and hit a popular nerve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hasta la vista, baby.

SCHNEIDER: Costa's target wasn't just Governor Davis. It was the whole political class that has ruled or misruled California.

COSTA: He is a symbol of a system which has run amuck.

SCHNEIDER: A point that was not lost on this candidate.

SCHWARZENEGGER: For the people to win, politics as usual must lose.

SCHNEIDER: Outsiders complained the revolution looked like a circus, but Costa defended his revolution.

COSTA: The people have seen right through it. The people have already sort of selectively certified about three (UNINTELLIGIBLE) candidates.

SCHNEIDER: The people found it empowering.

TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Those who complain of public apathy or public indifference, let them come to California.

SCHNEIDER: The recall campaign went from success in July...

KEVIN SHELLEY (D), CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: We have now received more than 110 percent of the required signatures. Therefore, the recall is deemd to immediately qualify.

SCHNEIDER: ... to triumph this week.

GRAY DAVIS (D), FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Tonight, the voters decided it's time for someone else to serve.

SCHNEIDER: Costa knows how revolutions work. So among the many fathers of this revolution, we'll single out one, Ted Costa, for the political play of the week.


SCHNEIDER: Ted Costa wasn't even a Schwarzenegger man. He was a Tom McClintock man, which goes to show, once you start a revolution, you can't control it.

WOODRUFF: I wonder if Mr. Schwarzenegger has made a phone call to Mr. Costa to say thanks?

SCHNEIDER: I don't know. I think he might have.

WOODRUFF: We need to find out about that. Bill Schneider, thank you. Have a good trip back East.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a great weekend. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

Interview With Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan; Interview With Congressman Sherwood Boehlert>

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