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Interview With Wesley Clark; Senate Votes on Abortion Bill

Aired October 21, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: So long Iowa, hello, New Hampshire. '04 Democrat Wesley Clark marshals his forces in the Granite State and talks to us about his revised battle plan plan.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Don't want the rest of the world to see that we allow this kind of brutality to occur to innocent little children.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: If you listen to this language -- killing the child -- you must come to the conclusion that my colleague believes abortion is murder and women are murderers.

ANNOUNCER: A new Senate showdown over abortion is likely to lead to court.

The life of a lame duck. California Governor Gray Davis looks to the future in a rare post-recall interview.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I want to focus on making this transition positive and helpful to the new governor.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thank you for joining us.

We begin with a new threat from the White House that may be backfiring on Capitol Hill. For the first time, the administration says that President Bush may veto the $87 billion funding package for Iraq and Afghanistan unless a loan plan approved by the Senate gets axed.

Our Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl, has more on the threat and the reaction.

Jonathan, the president wanted this money, but now he's saying he may not sign it?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As amazing as that may sound, that is exactly what the White House is saying. This is a bill that includes not only money to rebuild Iraq, but also to sustain the troops there. But the president's director of Office of Management and Budget says that he would advise -- he and other top advisers at the White House -- would advise the president to veto the bill. This comes in a letter to Congressional leaders from Josh Bolton, the OMB director, that reads -- quote -- "If this provision," meaning the loan provision, "is not removed, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill. " The letter goes on to restate the administration's case on this, on why this would be a bad idea.

Now meanwhile, up here on Capitol Hill, this threat has hit with a thud. Republicans, especially those that wanted the loans in the first place, are saying that this is exactly the kind of heavy-handed tactics that will backfire on the president.

One of those Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, told me -- quote -- "I am shocked about the veto threat. It seems unnecessary and unwise."

Another Republican, Saxby Chambliss, said -- quote -- "No one at the White House has talked to me since the vote. I'd like to think that members of the Senate are advisers to the president too."

Another Republican who actually supports the president on this said -- who asked his name not be used -- told me that it was stunningly stupid to threaten a veto. Stunningly stupid.

Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives, there was an overwhelming vote of the House saying that when the two sides get together -- the House and the Senate on this -- that they should include loans, going against the president just hours after this veto threat was issued. The vote in the House was 277-139, 84 Republicans going against the Republican -- going against the president on this, including Dana Rohrabacher of California.


REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: I don't see any reason why, after bearing such a heavy burden -- not like the $66 billion but so many other billions of dollars -- why the American people have to carry the whole burden. Why don't we permit half of this $10 billion of this to go in the form of a loan that can be repaid?


KARL: Now, despite the veto threat and the overwhelming vote in the House, Republican leaders remain confident, extremely confident, that when this deal is finally done, the president will prevail, that the loans provision will be removed -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, that certainly means some votes are going to have to be turned around between now and then. All right. Jon Karl at the Capitol, thank you very much.

Meantime, the Senate is expected to give final approval today to the most significant restriction on abortion since the Supreme Court decision legalizing it three decades ago. President Bush has promised to sign the legislation banning what critics call "partial birth abortion." rights supporters are promising to challenge the ban in court.


BOXER: Don't play doctor here, because you're not a doctor. And we are about to play doctor here in a big way. Fortunately, across the street, in the Supreme Court, they will see right through it.



SANTORUM: We believe that this bill is constitutionally sound and obviously very, very necessary from the standpoint of who we are as a society and I would argue for just basic human rights.


WOODRUFF: On two occasions, President Clinton vetoed similar bills, because they did not include exceptions if the life of the mother were in danger.

Well, it may be difficult for many Californians to swallow, but two weeks after the big recall vote out here, another Election Day is just two weeks away.

But on November 4, a spotlight will be on other states, where the governor's office is up for grabs. That includes Mississippi, where the candidates debated just last night.


GOV. RONNIE MUSGROVE (D), MISSISSIPPI: Haley Barbour was paid by the tobacco companies. Clearly, his position is with the big tobacco companies, not with the children.

HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISS. GOV. CANDIDATE: He'll say anything, even when every neutral party says -- as "The Clarion-Ledger" said -- plain old lies.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Down and dirty in Mississippi where Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove is fending off a fierce challenge from former RNC chairman Haley Barbour. Musgrove is pounding Barbour as a fat cat Washington lobbyist beholden to big tobacco.

MUSGROVE: That's not the kind of person we need as governor of the state of Mississippi.

WOODRUFF: But the Republican powerhouse is believed to have the edge for now.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: It's a test in part of partisanship in the state and how strongly the state has moved to the GOP.

WOODRUFF: In Kentucky, another nasty race has Democratic State Attorney General Ben Chandler battling GOP Congressman Ernie Fletcher.

ROTHENBERG: Kentucky, of the three races, is the one that is a -- has to be seen as a -- some sort of referendum on George W. Bush because the Democrats are trying to make it so.

WOODRUFF: Fletcher's White house ties have helped his wallet, but provided fodder for the opposition. He's striking back with a new radio ad denouncing Chandler as a supporter of none other than -- quote -- "Al Gore," a man, who wanted to take our guns away.

KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LA. GOV. CANDIDATE: Politricks instead of politics, you know, becomes the name of the game about -- at about this stage.

WOODRUFF: Still, compared to the other '03 match-ups, the Bayou State contest between Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, and Bobby Jindal, a former health policy adviser to the current Bush administration, has been relatively cordial. It's another tight race with an unknown variable -- Jindal's Indian-American ethnicity.

ROTHENBERG: The question is whether Louisiana voters are ready to elect someone who looks and sounds like Bobby Jindal. It's unclear at the moment.


WOODRUFF: And another race we're watching heading into the homestretch -- Philadelphia's mayor, John Street, and his Republican challenger, Sam Katz, have their final debate tonight. A recent poll suggests that Street's campaign has been re-energized by news that he is the subject of a federal investigation. More black voters appear to be gravitating towards Street as he makes the case that he is being wrongfully persecuted because of his race. We'll have more on the controversy and the contest tomorrow.

We check in now on the Democratic presidential hopefuls in our "Campaign News Daily."

Arizona has raised its political profile by moving its primary to February 3. And a new poll offers a first look at how likely voters there view the race. In a survey by the Behavior Research Center, Howard Dean leads with 32 percent, followed by Wesley Clark at 24 percent. Joe Lieberman and John Kerry are the only other candidates in double figures.

John Kerry says that his regional background will not hurt him in a general election, because he's learned from the example of former Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And in the end, I'll tell you -- anybody who was part of the Dukakis campaign knows he didn't lose because he came from Massachusetts or believed what he believed. He believed he didn't need to fight back. And he will tell you today that was a mistake. I'm a fighter and I will fight back and I'm going to go right at this president and remind him that I know something about aircraft carriers for real.


WOODRUFF: In the same interview, Senator Kerry also questioned Howard Dean's position on the war in Iraq. Dean often touts his vocal opposition to the war. But last night, Kerry said that Dean's views were not clear and that Dean had -- quote -- "endorsed several positions."

'04 Democrat Wesley Clark also has been accused of waffling about the war. Up next, I'm going to talk to Clark about his campaign, his critics and his decision not to stump actively in the state of Iowa.

Joe Lieberman is opting out of Iowa as well. We'll get the inside story on his strategy.

And later, my interview with recalled California Governor Gray Davis. Find out if he wants to get in a final word about the groping allegations against Arnold Schwarzenegger.


WOODRUFF: Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark is on the campaign trail in New Hampshire today. He's taking a little time out to join us from Manchester.

General Clark, it was made known in the last few days that you're going to be essentially skipping the state of Iowa, skipping those caucuses. My question to you is the governor of the state, Democrat Tom Vilsack, says you run the risk of hurting yourself with Democratic voters there. We know Iowa was close in the last presidential election. Aren't you worried about that?

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well we're going to still have folks in Iowa. We've got a strong draft movement there. But it actually, it was the governor himself who warned me, he said, you're really late. And this is an organizational problem.

And it was just a matter of the time available and what it takes to organize not for an election, but for a series of caucuses in 99 counties in Iowa. It was just more than we could do in the time available. We just had to recognize it. And I think it's better to face something like that directly.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to your opponents, though, like Senator John Edwards, Senator John Kerry who point out now that they're running a national campaign. Senator Kerry went on to say that people want somebody running for president who doesn't try to do -- sort of take tactical advantage by picking and choosing where they're going to run. People who run a national campaign.

CLARK: Judy, I love all my opponents and I think the world of John Kerry. But I think it's very clear I do have a national campaign. I've been in the race less than five weeks. We've been to I think 12 or 15 different states. So -- and we're doing OK in national polling, name recognition is coming up. People are appreciating what I have to say. They know what I stand for, I think, and they see it. So I think we are running a national campaign.

WOODRUFF: But he's saying, essentially, you're sending a signal that you're not appealing to all Americans like he is, and that's what Senator Edwards is saying too.

CLARK: Well, you know, I think we're appealing to all Americans, not only Democrats, but to independents, to people who have never voted before and even Republicans.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying he's all wet?

CLARK: I'm just -- you know, my strategy on this is that I'm concerned about the direction of the country. That's the reason I entered the race. I'm concerned about where we're going in Iraq and with foreign policy. I think this foreign policy team has a very poor record. I'm concerned about the economy.

That's why I came in. I think we've got good ideas. I think people are looking for strong leadership and a positive direction. They're not interested in fighting old battles and playing "gotcha" with voting records and stuff like that. I'm focused on the future. I think that's what the election is about and that's why I'm in it.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to Senator John McCain, another veteran of Vietnam and someone with a distinguished military record as well, who said the notion that you would oppose this money for Iraq reconstruction, he said, you should know better than that. What do you say to that?

CLARK: I respect John McCain very highly. But I don't think that you can give this administration a blank check on foreign policy. The last time the Congress did that, it led to the war in Iraq which was an unnecessary war.

In this case, the administration has not worked effectively with allies, they have not presented a strategy, they haven't told us their definition, their conditions of success in here. All the things that we did right in Bosnia, that have seen us successfully work through that situation there, they have failed to do in Iraq.

So had I been in the Congress, I would have voted no. Not until you come forward with a reasonable plan, show the strategy, put your cards on the table, tell us what we're doing there, how far we're going, what's the story with Syria, what about Iran, how does it all fit together in the region?

None of that's been laid out for the American people. I think it's a terrible mistake to give them a blank check on that.

WOODRUFF: General, you're very critical of the president now, but "TIME" magazine has come up with another quote from you in January of 2002, this a year after the president took office, in which, among other things, you said, "I tremendously admire, and we all should, the great work done by our commander-in-chief, our president." What do you say?

CLARK: Well actually, the full quote I think was "all the troops who fought. And then the top of the chain of command too."

I think that as a fair person, you have to give credit to Russians, Chinese, Frenchmen, and even Republicans when they do things right. And that's what I did here. And I supported the war in Afghanistan.

Now, I've also said in my recent book, "Winning Modern War," that you've got to -- with -- the failure in Afghanistan was not to finish the job on Osama bin laden. We didn't put in the American troops, we didn't finish the job.

But, you know, Judy, you have to recognize when somebody does something well. If the Republicans -- and "TIME" magazine quoted had the rest of the speech, you'd have seen the bulk of the speech indicted the administration for not having an effective strategy for leadership, for American leadership in the world today. That's the subject I've been speaking on.

WOODRUFF: All right. Fair enough. Retired General Wesley Clark joining us from New Hampshire. General, thanks very much.

CLARK: Thanks, Judy. Thank you. Good to be with you.

WOODRUFF: Well another presidential candidate who is skipping the Iowa Caucuses is Joe Lieberman. Is this a gamble that's going to pay off for the senator from Connecticut? I'll talk to his campaign manager when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: The latest on a developing story. Just moments ago, lawmakers in a state of Florida, in an effort to save comatose Terri Schiavo have sent Governor Jeb Bush a bill that will give the governor to power to insert or have inserted a feeding tube into this woman who was brain damaged a number of years ago. She's been at the center of one of the country's longest and most bitter right to die battles.

We also know that it's expected her husband Michael Schiavo will be in court within the next hour or so to challenge Governor Jeb Bush's authority.

Again, the legislature sending Governor Bush a bill giving him this authority just in the last few minutes. He says that he will sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.

INSIDE POLITICS in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Like Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman has also announced plans to skip the Iowa Caucuses. Lieberman's campaign manager, Craig Smith, is with me now from Washington to talk about the decision and other issues in the campaign.

Craig Smith, first of all, don't you run the risk, by doing this, of making the senator look like he's not a national candidate?

CRAIG SMITH, LIEBERMAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well I think every campaign has to make strategic decisions about how to deploy their resources. I think Joe Lieberman has demonstrated from his experience on the 2000 ticket that he's a national candidate.

But as we look at the primary calendar where there is a compressed calendar with nine early states, every campaign, I think, has got to sit down and make strategic decisions about where they deploy their resources.

And as we try to map out Joe Lieberman's path to the nomination, we think that New Hampshire and February 3 presents some better options for him.

WOODRUFF: Well let me ask you about New Hampshire because right now Senator Lieberman is fourth in the polls. He's in single digits. The head of the New Hampshire public -- public polling there, the New Hampshire Survey Center says -- quote -- and I want to read this -- he said, "This is not the place for Joe Lieberman to be. The electorate is liberal Democrats. They are strongly anti-war. They want red meat and Lieberman, because of his support for the war, can't give it to them."

SMITH: I believe that all across this country, in the Democratic Party, there are Democrats who are socially progressive, who believe in a strong national security, and are fiscally responsible. I believe those people live in Iowa; I believe those people live in New Hampshire. I believe that there is an opportunity for Joe Lieberman to be in New Hampshire and to do relatively well there. You have a broader electorate, you have it open to independents. I think once we get up there, campaign, put some television ads up there, I think we'll do just fine.

WOODRUFF: But does this decision not to compete in Iowa essentially mean that the senator has not got to win one of those primaries on February 3, whether it's Arizona, Oklahoma, or Ariz -- I'm sorry, or South Carolina?

SMITH: I think we have to do very well on February 3. It is our plan to do very well on that day. We have got good organizations in those states. We've locked up a lot of political support. We've spent a lot of time there. Strategically, New Hampshire and February 3 I think will win us the nomination. It's the path that we need to take to get us there.

WOODRUFF: But do you have to win one of those states on the 3rd?

SMITH: I think we will have to do very well in multiple states that day.

WOODRUFF: Let me also ask you about something that Paul Begala, one of our colleagues here at CNN, co-host of "CROSSFIRE," said the other day. He said, "The decision by Wesley Clark to pull out of Iowa," he said, "isn't going to hurt him." But he said, "With the Lieberman campaign, indicating it's had poor success with fund-raising so far. "He said he is still the best-known candidate in the race and he's at 4 percent in the latest Iowa poll.

His question is, why is the candidate who started out with the highest name recognition having such a hard time raising money?

SMITH: Well, we've actually done -- we were very competitive raising money in the second quarter of this year. We were very competitive with the other candidates, except for Howard Dean in the third quarter of the year. So I think we're doing -- we're very competitive financially.

But every campaign -- every campaign that I've ever worked on -- is always comes down to a question of matching your resources with your opportunities. And that's what we're doing here. We're looking at the options that we have available to us and trying to decide strategically which are the best ones for us to pick, which are the best uses of our resources and that's what we've done over the last few days.

WOODRUFF: All right. Craig Smith, who is the campaign manager for Senator Joe Lieberman. Craig, thank you very much for talking with me.

SMITH: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Gray Davis speaks out about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his own future. Straight ahead, my interview with the outgoing California governor.


WOODRUFF: Outgoing California Governor Gray Davis tells me life after his recall isn't a lot of fun. But Davis is making the transition, which includes a meeting with Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday.

I sat down with Davis just a short while ago and I asked him if Schwarzenegger's auditors are going to be able to find the billions of dollars in waste in the state budget, as the Republicans have predicted.


DAVIS: First of all, we're being as cooperative as we can, as helpful as we can. I'd be very surprised if they found anywhere near that amount of waste.

It depends how you define waste. If you call health care waste, if you call protecting the environment waste, if you call educating the children waste, if you call public safety waste, yes, they may find money that they prefer not to spend. But the public construes waste as some non-essential activity, kind of a boondoggle, and I don't think you're going to find anywhere near that amount in waste.

WOODRUFF: The Schwarzenegger camp is also -- the governor himself -- the governor-elect himself has also talked about getting back the 22 cents on the dollar that he says California gives to Washington that it doesn't get it back in return. He's going to be asking Washington for that, he says. Do you think he'll get it?

DAVIS: Well, I applaud him for doing that. Governor Wilson before him was very aggressive in seeking money from Washington. He got some. We've tried to continue that fight. We're a donor state. We're the biggest state in America. When I started, we were the seventh largest economy. We're now either the fifth or sixth. And we contribute disproportionately to the financing of the national government.

So every California governor, Democrat or Republican, should fight like the dickens back in Washington to get our fair share.

WOODRUFF: Let me also ask you about something during the campaign. You spoke during the campaign about how courageous these 15 women were who came forward and alleged that Arnold Schwarzenegger had either physically or verbally abused them. Do you think there should be an investigation into that?

DAVIS: Well, those are decisions that other people will make. As I said, I'm moving on, not backwards. But I stand by everything I said in the campaign.

WOODRUFF: So you don't take back any of your comments about that?

DAVIS: No. I mean, I think it's remarkable that somebody would stand up to a powerful person and express their point of view. Now, maybe they're not telling the truth. Maybe they're exaggerating. That's a matter for other decisionmakers to determine.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think that's matter that should be dropped? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

DAVIS: That's not a decision I'm going to make as governor or soon to be private citizen. That's a decision that's in the hands of other authorities.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, governor, some national Republicans are salivating over the idea that now California may be a state that President Bush can count in his column in next year's presidential election. Do you think that's a good possibility now that Republicans are going to be governor?

DAVIS: Well, I have always said that elections are more about what's going on in voters' lives than the candidates. And when I was elected in '98, things were going well. I was lieutenant governor. They wanted continuity. In 2002, things were not going well. We won a close election. Things are not going well in 2003. And it's a result of national policies the president must answer for. So what he really needs are for economic conditions to improve. Just as we talked, there are two strikes in Los Angeles over health care. People are losing their jobs, losing health care benefits, having to pay more for existing health care. These are not good economic times in California. And the president's fate in California will be determined more by what's happening in people's lives than by the fact that you have a Republican in Sacramento.

WOODRUFF: You look back on it all with a smile?

DAVIS: I do. It's a great privilege to serve as governor. And we accomplished a lot. Test scores have been up five years in a row. We have 300,000 new scholarships for people who get a B average. We lead the nation in HMO reform. We've done a lot of positive things with the environment. So I feel good about what we've done. I regret not being able to finish the job.


WOODRUFF: Governor Gray Davis.

And now a dramatic development in the state of Florida. A judge has declined to hear an appeal by the husband of comatose woman Terri Schiavo. Michael Schiavo going to court to try to insist that the feeding tube that was removed a few days ago remain as it is. Instead, it now appears that Governor Jeb Bush of Florida will have the authority to order that the feeding tube be reinserted in Terri Schiavo. It was removed just a few days ago. If it is not reinserted, the expectation is is that Terri Schiavo would die in a matter of days. Again, dramatic developments in the state of Florida regarding this comatose woman.

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



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