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Does Schwarzenegger's Win Mean California is Warmer to Bush?; Democrats Reach Out to Older Voters in Iowa

Aired October 15, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: California snapshots. Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the leading man of state politics, are voters giving President Bush a warmer welcome?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow I get to meet the governor-elect. I'm looking forward to it.

ANNOUNCER: Iraq money matters. While new Saddam-free bills are introduced in Baghdad, a multi-billion dollar budget battle plays out in Washington.

A senior moment. Most of the '04 Democrats reach out to older voters in Iowa. Who's most likely to succeed?



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. I'm in New York today.

Well, President Bush is putting some distance between himself and Congress and the debate over funding for the mission in Iraq. But he did use a speech in California about an hour ago to once again defend his decision to go to war.


BUSH: Since the liberation of Iraq, our investigators have found evidence of a clandestine network of biological laboratories. Advanced design work on prohibited longer-range missiles and an elaborate campaign to hide illegal programs.


WOODRUFF: Well, the president is hoping to make political headway in California, especially now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to become governor.

Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is traveling with the president.

Dana, suggestions from the folks who work at the White House that this Schwarzenegger victory gives them hopes for next year in the presidential election?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. And campaign aides to the president never would say that California was out of the question, even though he did lose big there in 2000. But they are saying that the results from the recall give them new hope that it is in play.

They point to the fact that if you combine Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock's win, you get about 60 percent of the vote. And they also say that they got the -- that Schwarzenegger got about a million new voters in places where they say it matters -- with women, with union voters, and with Hispanics. And what you see -- will see from the president, both today and tomorrow, it was an attempt to harness that, an attempt to show that that wasn't simply a fluke. So the white house has on the schedule for the president tomorrow morning 25 minutes for him to meet with Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. They will sit down and talk in private in Riverside, California. And -- but the governor will also be introducing the president when he speaks there later tomorrow morning.

The president earlier today talked about what he might say to the governor-elect.


BUSH: I'm going to share with him my optimism about the future of this country. I can't wait to talk to him about why I believe that America's on the -- is on the right path, is on the path to making sure this nation is secure, and the world is more free and peaceful.


BASH: Now, remember, Judy that the White House and the president himself, and particularly his campaign were very careful not to get involved, not to say very much publicly about the recall race as it was going on. And an aide I talked to earlier today said they still don't know whether or not Schwarzenegger's win is transferable to the president, especially since Arnold Schwarzenegger still has to take control in Sacramento. He's got to fix the budget problems, and, of course, he's a Republican, and he's going to be the one that they're going to be looking to do that and it's unclear whether that -- that will have an effect on the president in 2004.

WOODRUFF: Well, I know at the very least they're they have a fellow Republican who's going to be moving into the top job, whatever happens next year.

All right. Thanks very much. Dana, and we'll be talking to you on this trip.

Well, we do have a story we want to tell you about now. Breaking news from here in the New York area. And that is, we've learned, CNN has learned that there has been an accident on the Staten Island Ferry. I was told we have some live pictures. We'll see if we can show them to you. There have been injuries. And we are also told that the fire department is reporting that emergency personnel are on the scene. Here now some pictures coming in just in to CNN. And, again, these are the emergency personnel. We can't tell you right now exactly where it is. We know it is the Staten Island Ferry. We know there have been some injuries. But beyond that, we don't really have much more information right now and we're attempting to get more. And as soon as we're able to share any of that with you, we will, of course, do that.

Turning back now to INSIDE POLITICS. Californians are not going to be officially voting on President Bush's performance, of course, until next year. But they offered some early clues about their views, and our exit polls from the recall election.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, found a study in contrast.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): President Bush was impressed by Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance in California.

BUSH: I look forward to congratulating him on a pretty darn good victory.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: I am running for governor...

SCHNEIDER: If Republican candidate Schwarzenegger can take California, what does that mean for Republican candidate Bush?

Schwarzenegger got 49 percent of the vote. In the CNN exit poll, 48 percent of California voters approved of the way President Bush is handling his job. Sounds like they're doing pretty much the same in the Golden State.

But there are differences. Schwarzenegger has more appeal to young voters, Democrats, independents, liberals and moderates. In other words, to voters outside the GOP base.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will reach out to Republicans, to Democrats, and independents.

SCHNEIDER: Bush's support is more ideological. For instance, the president is more popular with conservatives. Schwarzenegger's support is more non-partisan..

SCHWARZENEGGER: It doesn't matter if they're to the left or to the right or to the center. I extend my hand to them.

SCHNEIDER: Independents like him better than Bush.

Is it fair to say that Schwarzenegger's support is more diverse? Not entirely. Hispanics like Bush more than Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger had problems with Hispanics in California. One of his key supporters was former Governor Pete Wilson, a very unpopular figure with Hispanic voters. His main opponent was Cruz Bustamante, California's highest Hispanic office holder.

There's one big difference between Schwarzenegger's appeal and Bush's appeal. Schwarzenegger did better among Californians who said the state's economy was in poor shape. Bush does better among Californians who think things are going well.

In the governor's race, Schwarzenegger was the candidate of change.

SCHWARZENEGGER: The people of California have voted against the system that is existing right now. They want a new direction.

SCHNEIDER: In the presidential race, Bush is the candidate of the status quo. And in California, the status quo is not good enough.


SCHNEIDER: More than 80 percent of California voters thought the state's economy was in bad shape. That helped elect Schwarzenegger. But you know, it certainly won't help President Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Hmm. Doesn't sound like it. But we shall see. Bill, thank you very much.


WOODRUFF: Well, now we turn back to Iraq, and the $87 billion battle. As the Senate pushes toward a vote on the controversial funding package, the president's lobbying efforts may be making a difference.

Let's check in with our Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.

Jon, how close is this vote looking like it's going to be, and when does it look like it's going to be?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you could have votes in both the House and the Senate by tomorrow, Judy. And although the final vote probably won't be that close, there is some real drama here on a vote that will come before then.

The White House has put on a full-court pressure to defeat an amendment that would turn some of that $87 billion into a loan that would have to be repaid with Iraqi oil money. The president and the White House adamantly opposes that. Today they dispatched Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell here to Capitol Hill where they met with a closed meeting of Republican senators urging a no-vote on that provision.

But, Judy, some of the White House lobbying on this has been so intense, that it is actually turning off some Republican senators. Yesterday the president had Republicans and Democrats on this issue to the White House to talk about it. One Republican senator that was at that meeting told me -- quote -- "The president was very forceful and condescending. This is old-style politics, and it made me mad." That was a Republican senator at the meeting with the president yesterday.

And another advocate of loans, Senator Arlen Specter, who has long said that the money should be loans instead of grants, said something quite different. He was at that meeting as well, and he said the president was so forceful, it may cause him to change his mind. Specter told CNN -- quote -- "I had not seen such passion or fervor since the president since two days after 9/11. His force I thought was impressive, and I am re-thinking it," meaning his position on loans.

Meanwhile, the Republican leadership here in the Senate, most of the Republican leadership is carrying the water for the president on this.

Senator Bill Frist addressed the issue a little while ago.


SENATOR BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The big issue that comes again and again is this issue of grants versus loans. I feel very strongly that, as we address this issue, that centers on a people's -- a country that is in desperate need, that the most appropriate route is that of grants.


KARL: So, Judy, this question of loans versus grants could be extremely close. And to give you an idea how important this overall issue is, the three Democrats who are running for president who also serve in the Senate are expected to be here for the final vote on this issue. All three of them.

WOODRUFF: Hmmm. An interesting reaction of those Republicans. All right.

KARL: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Jon Karl, thank you very much.

The anti-war group is launching ads today blasting the president's $87 billion funding request. The spots are scheduled to air for three days on cable networks here in New York and in Washington.


NARRATOR: We could have built 10,000 new schools, or hired almost 2 million new teachers. We could have rebuilt our electric grid.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: says it hopes to raise $10 million to run ads accusing Mr. Bush of being a misleader in presidential swing states through this March.

Well, speaking of raising money, we've got some interesting new tidbits on the president's campaign cash, and who is most responsible for stuffing his coffers.

Also ahead, the '04 Democrats cultivate votes in Iowa. What issues are likely to give them traction with older voters?

And if you interviewed Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, are you qualified to become a governor? This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: The '04 presidential candidates have filed their fund- raising paperwork for the third quarter and we've been scouring them for fun facts, among other things.

Of the $49.5 million for the Bush camp raised from July through September, most of it was raked in at events headlined by the president, the vice president, or the first lady. The campaign estimates that 262,000 Americans donated to the reelection effort in the third quarter.

But the super fund-raisers, known as "rangers" and "pioneers," brought in the lion's share of the money. Most of those rangers and pioneers come from the president's home state of Texas.

As for the top Democratic fund-raiser for the third quarter, Howard Dean's final third-quarter tally is $14.8 million. The number is found somewhere in those 12,000 pages held by his staffers you see there. And the Dean camp estimates it still has more than $12 million cash on hand.

INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Most of the Democrats vying for the chance to challenge President Bush next year are in Iowa this afternoon. Medicare and Social Security are expected to be hot topics for the six-party hopefuls who are attending a forum sponsored by the 50 and over group AARP.

With me now from Washington for more on making political appeals to the nation's seniors, our own Candy Crowley. Candy, we're told that the topic at this forum is supposed to be Medicare, but is that what voters, the senior voters are most interested in?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we first have to define our terms what senior means. I'm not sure I actually want to get into that. But for the purposes of AARP, a senior is anyone 50 and over. So, sure those are people, particularly in the younger brackets there, that are interested in the future of Medicare, the future of Social Security.

But if you move it into 65 and up, and we did a poll recently that we brought out some of the figures from the 65 and up group, you will see that what happens here is that these are people that are not worried that Social Security will be taken away from them, or that Medicare will be taken away from them.

And their interests are very much what the national interests are. Twenty-seven percent of those over 65 said that in fact they worried most about the economy. Next important -- of importance to them, unemployment at 16 percent. And then Iraq at 12 percent.

So the older you get, the more secure you feel that your Social Security and your Medicare is not going to be touched. It's the 50 to probably 60 age group that worries more about Medicare than older than that.

WOODRUFF: Isn't that interesting. Not what many people would expect.

Candy, what about this senior voting block? Is this truly up for grabs?

CROWLEY: Absolutely, 2000 is the latest we can look back and see that it was nearly even between George Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, looking at 50 percent, 47 percent. So nationally it is up for grabs.

But more so in Iowa. Iowa is one of the older states. And that is, it has more than the average population of seniors. In fact, I saw one figure that 60 percent of those who vote in the Iowa caucuses, or attend the Iowa caucuses are 45 years or older.

So that's a population that these candidates, specifically for the Iowa caucuses, really have to pay attention to, because those are the citizens that vote and are very active at this point.

WOODRUFF: Candy, what about this forum tonight? Is it clear going in that any one or more of these candidates is going to be targets? Or that any of them may be -- have some sort of advantage tonight?

CROWLEY: We got a taste of it, I think, at the Arizona debate. And that is that Howard Dean's words on Medicare and his position on Medicare in 1995 is likely to come up.

But you also can just look at the race in Iowa which shows Gephardt and Dean really neck and neck at this point, and Kerry trying to make some headway. I expect the most sparks that you'll see will be between Dean and Gephardt -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, may sound like a little bit of a replay. CROWLEY: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley in Washington. Thank you very much, Candy.

Well, a former Democratic hopeful leads the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." Now that he's out of the presidential race, Florida Senator Bob Graham's next big decision is whether to run for reelection next year. Graham says that he's going to announce his decision soon. The top Democratic aide tells CNN that party leaders are confident that Graham will run again.

Democrat Al Sharpton recently turned 49-years-old. And he used his birthday to raise some campaign cash. Sharpton hosted an event last night in New York that featured a birthday cake, and some of his top supporters. Including the rapper Jay-Z and hip-hop mogul P. Diddy.

Senator Hillary Clinton will soon become the latest national Democrat to campaign with embattled Philadelphia Mayor John Street. Federal government sources have told CNN that street is the subject of a two-year federal investigation into allegations of public corruption. Senator Clinton will attend a Friday luncheon on Street's behalf. Street is in a tough reelection battle against Republican Sam Katz.

Next, the political fight in Congress, and on the campaign trail over paying for Iraq and Afghanistan. INSIDE POLITICS is back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: A few moments ago we told you about some breaking news here in the New York area. And that is, the Staten Island Ferry was docking on the Staten Island end of the New York Harbor when it crashed. We are told there are extensive injuries.

With us now on the telephone, Rose Arce, who is a CNN producer on a ferry very close to the scene.

Rose, we understand that the winds were very strong, 40 miles an hour or so. Do we know if that may have had any effect here?

ROSE ARCE, CNN PRODUCER: I'm on the -- on the ferry that was behind the ferry that was docking. And both that ferry and ours were moving against a very, very strong wind.

Of course, this is really the river leading into the ocean. But it looks like the ocean today. There's very, very large waves. And the boat wasn't running the straight course -- straight, quick course that it usually runs. It's sort of jogging back and forth. I didn't -- you could see that as it had entered the ferry terminal, it was having some trouble finding its location. And right now, it's sitting kind of awkwardly sticking out of the ferry terminal surrounded by fire boats.

WOODRUFF: Rose, any sense of the injuries? The Associated Press is reporting extensive injuries. Any sense of that?

ARCE: Yes, one police officer on our boat did say that he had heard that there were injuries on that boat. It's very hard to tell from where we are. Although you can see emergency vehicles around the boat. I don't know if there's a precautionary thing or whether they're there because there actually are injured people on the boat that need to be taken off

WOODRUFF: I'm told, Rose, that the Coast Guard is said to be doing search and rescue, which suggests victims may be in the water.

Rose, you're at a place now where you're watching what is going on. I assume a lot of emergency personnel around.

ARCE: Yes. Actually, our boat is sitting out in the water directly behind the boat in question. And that boat is surrounded by several small boats, some Coast Guard boats, some appear to be police boats, that are searching the waters behind it, especially the water that is right in front of the ferry terminal where the boat was docking.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Rose Arce. She's a producer here in New York, giving us a little more from the scene of the crash of that Staten Island Ferry crashing on the Staten Island end of its run across the New York Harbor. Again, we're told extensive injuries. And the Coast Guard, we just learned, is also involved in search and rescue. We'll bring you any more information as we get it.

Back to INSIDE POLITICS now. And Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt, who announced today that he will vote yes on the president's $87 billion aid request for Iraq and Afghanistan. Gephardt said he will continue to be critical of the president, but he called voting for the request -- quote -- "the only responsible course of action."

Well, as the Senate continues its debate over the Iraq aid measure, senators from both parties are proposing an amendment that would make part of the Iraq aid a loan instead of a grant. One of the senators involved in the effort to make loans part of the overall package, Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska. He joins me now from Washington.

Senator, the president, very vigorously arguing against doing what you want to do. What is your argument for doing it?

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: Well, this is the only proposal that addresses Iraq's approximately $127 billion pre-war debt, loans made from other countries to Iraq. I think it's very difficult for us to go in and make grants to the Iraqi officials in light of the fact that there's already all this overhanging loan. This will also provide the president with incentive at the donors' conference later this month, to get other countries to make contributions. I think also it will help us be in a position to get forgiveness of that $127 billion debt, or substantially all of it, perhaps up to 90 percent of it. It doesn't...

WOODRUFF: Well, Senator...

NELSON: ...make a lot sense for us to give money when there are all these outstanding loans.

WOODRUFF: Senator, very quickly. Another centrist in the Senate, Republican Lincoln Chafee is saying -- quote -- he's in favor of keeping this all a grant. He said, "Now that we've removed the government," he says, "we are the government in Iraq. And that's what governments do, they provide service." What about that point?

NELSON: Well, I think the argument is that we are at the very moment -- it's a temporary situation. We don't intend to be there permanently. And the Iraqi people ought to be working and in a position to help out with their own future, for construction and reconstruction. I don't think it ought to be up to the taxpayers of America to do all of that, and pay for all of that. That's why I think this is a good proposal.

Part of it could be a forgivable loan that could become a grant, when all of the other, or 90 percent of all of the other outstanding pre-war debt is forgiven.

WOODRUFF: Senator, one other point. The president, in meeting with senators, was described as arguing that providing this money as a loan would complicate U.S. efforts to persuade other countries to forgive the debt that Iraq owes them. What about that?

NELSON: Well, the loan would be made as a loan, but it would be forgivable and become a grant when the other countries forgive their loans. In other words, we'll forgive our loan if they forgive their loan. And I think that's what we're attempting to do, is to make sure that there's incentives for the other countries to forgive their debt, and then we'll forgive our debt.

WOODRUFF: What's your prediction? Are you going to get this passed or not?

NELSON: Well, we're very close. And this is one of those areas that's it's very difficult to project right now of what the ultimate number will be. But I think there's a lot of bipartisan support building for our proposal. And I think that there's a good chance that it will, in fact, pass.

WOODRUFF: Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Thank you very much, senator. It's good to see you. Thank you for talking to us.

NELSON: Good to see you, Judy. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: A very quick update on the Staten Island Ferry crash, the ferry moving across New York Harbor that crashed on the Staten Island side. The Associated Press now reporting that some people have lost their limbs in this accident. We have already reported that there are extensive injuries. We have not heard yet that there have been a loss of life. But again, the A.P., the Associated Press, reporting that some people have lost their limbs. These live pictures coming in from the Staten Island end of the New York Harbor, where the ferry crashed about 3:30, a little before 3:30 eastern time this afternoon.

CNN, of course, monitoring that story. We'll be bringing you more as we get it.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.


Bush?; Democrats Reach Out to Older Voters in Iowa>

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