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Bush in Britain: Pomp and Protests; Rx for Medicare: The PR Battle; Interview With Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham

Aired November 19, 2003 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: The royal welcome, the anti-war protests. Can President Bush see both sides of the special relationship with Britain?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, this old and tested alliance is very strong.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: This bill is a lemon, and we're going to stop lemons.

ANNOUNCER: Critics of the GOP-backed Medicare bill try to rally their forces on Capitol Hill, but Republican leaders fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For anyone to be against this is highly irresponsible.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The North Vietnamese decided that he'd be better off dead than asking any embarrassing questions. So they killed him.

ANNOUNCER: Now that Howard Dean has been forced to revisit a family tragedy, will it prove to be a factor in his presidential campaign?



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Well, if the old "with friends like these" line ever crossed President Bush's mind in Britain today, he wasn't showing it. On the first full day of his state visit, Mr. Bush seemed to take the protest against him in stride, while defending the invasion of Iraq and the strength of U.S.- British ties.

Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is with the president in London. John, what exactly is the president saying now as he, again, talks about why the war in Iraq?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, certainly the debate about why to go to war in Iraq remains one of the great political subplots of this official state visit. And as we speak tonight, we should tell our viewers, preparation is under way for the official state banquet at Buckingham Palace tonight. I believe we have some live pictures of the preparations there.

Mr. Bush, as you noted, acknowledging the protests on the streets here in London today, saying it was a sign of the vibrant democracy here and free speech. The president then paused for effect and noted, they have that now in Baghdad, too. So the president offering a forceful defense today of his decision to go to war.

Also offering a forceful defense of how he got there. Many in Europe say this president was too eager to go it alone, too eager to abandon the diplomacy at the United Nations. The president says, in his view, that's not the case. But he also says that he gave the United Nations plenty of time and that it was clear to him that the United Nations was not about to enforce its resolutions, so he decided someone needed to.

Now, of course, one of the people who stood with Mr. Bush was the British prime minister, Tony Blair. That among the great political subplots. President Bush here at a ceremonial visit; Prime Minister Blair in some political hot water for that. So in a key note speech here in London today, Mr. Bush came to the defense and offered kind words of support for his very close ally.


BUSH: America's always found strong partners in London; leaders of good judgement and blunt counsel and backbone when times are tough. And I found all those qualities in your current prime minister, who has my respect and my deepest thanks.


KING: While the president was delivering that speech and enjoying all the ceremonies today, Prime Minister Blair actually had to spend time at question time before the House of Commons, again being grilled by members of his own party, asking him, what does Britain get out of its staunch loyalty with the United States. We might an answer to that question tomorrow, Judy, when the president and the prime minister sit down for their strategy discussions. Of course, atop the agenda, how to proceed now with the political transition under way in post-war Iraq -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, already some protests today. What is expected tomorrow in the way of protests?

KING: The main event is tomorrow. That is the march led by anti-war demonstrators, who are telling authorities here they expect to have perhaps 100,000 people taking part in that march. You noted some demonstrations today. At some point, some jostling between the police and the demonstrators, all relatively kind and well-mannered so far.

But tomorrow is viewed, Judy, as the main event. Again, some saying as many as 100,000 people in the streets. The question then, of course, becomes, how do those pictures play back home for a president who is hoping this state visit brings him some political benefit back in the United States -- Judy. WOODRUFF: All right. John King, joining us from London, where President Bush, of course, is visiting. Thank you, John.

On Capitol Hill today, the PR battle intensified over the Republican-backed Medicare reform bill. Listen to both sides, and you can walk away thinking that the bill's prescription drug benefit is either one of the best or the worst thing that ever happened to Medicare.

Let's check in with our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl. Jon, are Democrats now literally in a position to derail this thing?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's looking like the odds are against the Democrats in that effort, Judy, and that's because the AARP endorsement has given real momentum to this bill, especially in the Senate. And that's why you see opponents of this bill today in Washington actually burning their AARP membership cards.

They had a rally in front of AARP headquarters and burned their cards, as opponents of this bill spent almost as much time now attacking the AARP as they are attacking the bill. In fact, up here on Capitol Hill, you had Democrats having their own rally up here with senior, and with a lot of presence from union members rallying against this bill. And Democrats at this rally, calling the bill a lemon, also set their sights on the AARP.


SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I want them to hear about it all the way down at the headquarters of the AARP. Can you tell me one more time, should we -- President Bush keep his hands off our Medicare?


KARL: Now, Republicans are confident, not only because of the AARP endorsement, but because they say there's a lot in this bill for rural areas of the country. And a lot of the swing votes of this are senators and congressmen from rural areas.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: This is the best thing rural America has ever seen when it comes to improving Medicare equity. Rural America cannot afford to have us walk away from this package by voting against the overall bill.


KARL: But Judy, if this bill is derailed, it will probably not be because of Democrats in the Senate, but because of conservative Republicans in the House that simply don't like the idea of another massive new entitlement, $400 billion or more over the next 10 years. One of the conservatives leading the battle against this in the House side, Mike Pence of Indiana, said the AARP endorsement actually helps him, because conservatives think, hmm why would the AARP want to see this bill passed?

The AARP has frequently clashed with Republicans and sided with Democrats. That makes some conservatives nervous. Mike Pence told CNN, "You want to give my mom $1,200 in free drugs when she just bought a Mercedes and charge it to my kids? No way."

So conservatives are making a real battle to defeat this in the House. But as I said, Judy, it has momentum on both sides of the Capitol.

WOODRUFF: Well, and I also saw House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi talking about the head of the AARP writing the foreword to Newt Gingrich's book a little while ago. They're doing everything they can to paint the AARP in a negative light.

Quickly, Jon, on to energy legislation passing at least one House this week. Republicans are now raising concerns about this energy legislation. Where does that leave its prospects?

KARL: That one's much closer over here in the Senate. It's still unclear whether or not there will be enough opposition to defeat the bill. What's interesting, though, Judy, is that you have farm state Democrats supporting this bill. People like Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, because of all the money that's in there for corn-based ethanol.

And conservatives now, like people like Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, John Sununu of New Hampshire, saying this thing has simply too many giveaways to too many special interests and needs to be defeated. So it's one that really crosses party lines, and at this point really is a little too close to call. Although Republicans are increasingly confident that they will have the votes to pass that, as well as Medicare.

WOODRUFF: OK. We heard it there. Jon Karl, thanks very much from the Hill.

KARL: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Well, now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," a new poll of Arizona voters shows President Bush would defeat any of the leading Democratic hopefuls in that state. And he leads each of them by at least 15 points. Mr. Bush won Arizona in the 2000 general election.

The New York Civil Liberties Union filed three federal lawsuits today claiming that the tactics of city police will hinder the right to demonstrate during next year's Republican National Convention. The lawsuits site a February 15 anti-war rally in New York, claiming police blocked demonstrators' access in some areas and used unnecessary force to control crowds.

Joe Lieberman has been getting an earful from his mom as she accompanies him to campaign events. Marcia Lieberman is taking a break from the trail today after offering this gem of a response to John Edwards' claim that she endorsed his health care plan.

"Is my son's health care plan the best or what? That John Edwards is a nice-looking boy, but I don't know what he was talking about. I've been telling Joe for years that we need a prescription drug benefit, and I know he'll get it done as president." The candidate's mother.

Well, we'll talk more about energy with the energy secretary himself, Spencer Abraham. Is he sharing any of the blame for the big summer blackout?

Also ahead, are Governor Schwarzenegger's critics already trying to tarnish his political star?

Plus, 40 years later, Americans still embrace many theories about who shot JFK.


WOODRUFF: A joint U.S. and Canadian taskforce report says that a series of missteps and poor communication led to this summer's blackout in the Northeast, including New York City. The blackout added urgency to congressional efforts to overhaul U.S. energy policy, efforts which have produced a bill now under debate in the U.S. Senate.

Joining me now, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us.


WOODRUFF: Let's talk about this report first on the blackout this summer that hit the Northeast and the Midwest. In so many words, it blames the -- much of what happened on the lack of guidelines, giving somebody authority over a big chunk of the power grid in that part of the country. Are there now guidelines in place that would prevent this from happening again?

ABRAHAM: No, there aren't. I mean, we have voluntary standards of behavior for people who work in the electricity industry for the transmission system. But they're not enforceable. There's no federal authority to punish somebody if they don't observe the guidelines. And we discovered six violations of these standards that we believe directly led to the blackouts that took place by a -- an energy company in Ohio, and then the regional system operator in that Midwest region.

WOODRUFF: Well, how do you get someone in authority when you've got, what is it, something like 23 different power companies who were involved in running the grid, or parts of the grid? Who do you put in charge?

ABRAHAM: Well, right now, we don't have anybody, because there's no federally enforceable standards of behavior. There's an informal voluntary system which is run reasonably well since the '65 blackout. But if somebody violates the standards, there's no punishment. And one of the reasons we've been pushing very hard for an energy bill is to put these standards in place with real punishment, so that the consequences will be severe enough to make sure people behave the right way.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying this energy bill would fix all that?

ABRAHAM: It clearly would have been a major factor in avoiding this blackout. Because what we discovered were six violations of reliability standards, including poor communication, failure to communicate, failure to maintain the system in an operating form that worked. The alarms didn't even work in the control rooms of the organization that was in charge.

These standards need to be enforceable. People need to know there will be a punishment if they fail.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk some more about the energy bill. It's come through the House. Facing some tough opposition in the Senate, including from Republicans.

John McCain, among others, had a memorable line. He said it's the "no lobbyist left behind bill." There are people talking about tax breaks in here that add up to $24 billion to the deficit over the next, what, 10 years. Is this really a bill that's going to end up helping energy companies more than helping the country?

ABRAHAM: No, it's going to help the country. It's going to help us attain more energy security. It's going to help us avoid problems of these blackouts in the future. It's going to allow for enough investment in the transmission grid so that it doesn't break down as we increase the demand on it.

It's going to allow us to move to more renewable energy and renewable fuels. It will allow us to explore hydrogen and other fuels of the future. And if we don't pass this legislation, then none of this will take place. It's a very important piece of legislation.

WOODRUFF: How does it lower domestic energy consumption?

ABRAHAM: Here's the -- the principal goal that we've set out is to be addressing this energy security challenge. And the only way we're going to start reducing the demand for foreign energy is to produce alternative fuels, especially for motor vehicles.

Hydrogen is our choice. This legislation allows us to spend $1 billion to begin developing a hydrogen economy. And that's a central ingredient in the legislation.

WOODRUFF: But my question is, lowering the demand for energy here in this country. You're not...

ABRAHAM: This legislation -- this legislation also includes -- it calls for new energy efficiency standards, as well as expanding our energy star program, which is a program that gives people information on how to find more energy efficient projects. WOODRUFF: What about the -- finally, Mr. Secretary, the charge that it's just a lot of pork in here? That you're dealing with the ethanol interests out there. You're dealing with others who want their favorite project here or there, that there's a lot more pork in here than there needed to be.

ABRAHAM: The president in our administration had wanted to limit the tax incentives bill to $8 billion, almost all of it for renewable energy and alternative energy programs. We don't have the only say in this. In the conference that came back from the House and Senate, it has more than that. We would not -- we'd like the number to be lower, but we can support this bill because of the positive things that it includes. Including, of course, addressing blackouts in the future.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. The secretary of energy, Spencer Abraham, it's good to see you. Thank you for coming by. We appreciate it.

ABRAHAM: Thank you. Good to be here.

WOODRUFF: Coming up next: prescriptions and politics. In a minute, I'll ask a pair of congressmen if Medicare reform is just what the doctor ordered or just what the pharmaceutical companies want.

Plus, we're going to go live to Buckingham Palace. In fact, we're going to go there right now. These are live pictures from Buckingham Palace, where you see Queen Elizabeth II at the side of President Bush. Mrs. Laura Bush there as well, on President Bush's state visit to Great Britain and what is the beginning of the state dinner getting under way this evening at Buckingham Palace.

President Bush making a much-anticipated visit, because this -- for all the times that American presidents have been to Great Britain, this was the first visit that was officially titled a state visit. The president making a speech today in London, anticipating criticism in that country over in Great Britain over his conduct in the war in Iraq and the aftermath of the war in Iraq.

There were protests today. But tomorrow those protests are expected to grow much, much larger. The president today in addressing the criticisms, delivered a major foreign policy speech at Whitehall Palace, where he talked about the invasion and the occupation of Iraq, and said that it essentially freed that country from Saddam Hussein's tyranny.

He talked about the terrorists and said they have a purpose, a strategy to their cruelty. He said they view the rise of democracy in Iraq as a powerful threat to their ambitions.

Again, these are live pictures coming in from Buckingham Palace, where President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush dining with Queen Elizabeth II, her husband, Prince Philip. And a toast now from her majesty.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II, GREAT BRITAIN: Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you and Mrs. Bush to London. Visits by American presidents have been memorable landmarks in my reign. Unlike in the United States, the British head of state is not limited to two terms of four years. And I have welcomed no fewer than seven of your predecessors.

The first U.S. president to stay at Buckingham Palace was Woodrow Wilson in December 1918. America had then been fighting alongside us in the first world war, and was to do so again in our hour of need during the second world war. And at the very core of the new international and multilateral order which emerged after the shared sacrifices of that last terrible world war, was a vital dynamic transatlantic partnership, working with other allies to create effective international institutions.

The Marshall Plan led to the beginnings of the European Union. And the establishment of NATO became the bedrock for European security. Sixty years ago, Winston Churchill coined the term "special relationship" to describe the close collaboration between the United Kingdom and United States forces that was instrumental in freeing Europe from tyranny. Despite occasional criticism of the term, I believe it admirably describes our friendship.

Like all special friends, we can talk frankly, and we can disagree from time to time, even sometimes over a particular issue. But the depth and breadth of our partnership means that there is always so much we are doing together at all levels, that disputes can be quickly overcome and forgiven.

I in my term have had the pleasure of paying three state visits to your country. The last was in 1991, the end of the Cold War. Your father, Mr. President, was instrumental in leading the way through those heady but uncertain months from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to the break-up of the Soviet Union two years later.

In this 21st century, we face together many unforeseen and formidable challenges. The leadership you showed in the aftermath of the terrible events of the 11th of September, 2001 won the admiration of everyone in the United Kingdom. You led the response to an unprovoked terrorist attack, which was on a scale never seen before.

Your friends in this country were amongst the very first to sense the grief and horror that struck your nation that day and to share the slow and often painful process of recovery. And our troops have served side by side in Afghanistan and Iraq to lead the fight to restore freedom and democracy. Our two countries stand firm in their determination to defeat terrorism.

As we look to the future together, there are many fields in which our governments and people work alongside each other to the benefit of both nations. The end of supersonic travel by Concorde may mean that for some it takes longer to cross the Atlantic. But in the case of the United States and the United Kingdom, the two sides of the ocean have never been closer.

Our two countries are each other's largest foreign investors, supporting millions of jobs. In areas such as science and technology, health, urban redevelopment and law and order, our experts exchange best practice knowledge to improve the quality of life for us and for future generations. All this is founded on our long-standing sense of common purpose, our shared values and shared interests, our deep underlying sense of respect and affection.

We are bound across the generations by much more, too. We share the confidence and the courage to try and make this a more prosperous, a safer, and above all, a freer world. The reason for this, Mr. President, is written in our history. As your father said in his own inaugural address, we know what is right, freedom is right.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to raise your glasses to President and Mrs. Bush, to the continued friendship between our two nations, and to the health, prosperity and happiness of the people of the United States.


BUSH: Your majesty, your royal hiness, and distinguished guests, Laura and I are deeply honored to accept your majesty's gracious hospitality and to be welcomed into your home.

Through the last century, and into our own, Americans have appreciated the friendship of your people. And we are grateful for your personal commitment across five decades to the health and vitality of the alliance between our nations. Of course, things didn't start out too well.


BUSH: Yet even in America's founding, our nation shared a basic belief in human liberty. That conviction more than anything else led to our reconciliation. And in time, our shared commitment to freedom became the basis of a great Atlantic alliance that defeated tyranny in Europe and saved the liberty of the world. The story of liberty, the story of the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence continues in our time.

The power of freedom has touched Asia and Latin America and Africa and beyond. And now our two countries are carrying out a mission of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Once again, America and Britain are joined in the defense of our common values. Once again, America and British service members are sacrificing in a necessary and noble cause. Once again, we are acting to secure the peace of the world.

The bonds between our countries were formed in hard experience. We have passed through great adversity together. We have risen to great challenges together. The mutual respect and fellowship between our countries is deep and strong and permanent.

Let us raise our glasses to our common ideals, to our enduring friendships, to the preservation of our liberties, and to her majesty, the queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

WOODRUFF: President Bush and Queen Elizabeth II at the beginning of a state dinner. You just heard the president referring to Great Britain, the United States, having a deep and permanent mutual respect. Before that, we heard Her Majesty refer to British and U.S. troops fighting side by side in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And saying, in a significant note, Our two countries stand firm in their determination to defeat terrorism. Significant, because of the large protests being staged in Great Britain yesterday, and particularly tomorrow against President Bush during his visit to Great Britain over the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Again, that state dinner under way right now at Buckingham Palace.

Turning back here to the United States, back here to Washington where members of Congress are choosing sides on a controversial Medicare prescription drug bill.

Joining me right now from Capitol Hill are Illinois Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel and Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley. Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. We're making a U-turn, you might say, from Great Britain and state dinner where they're talking about the war on terror...

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: We were actually toasting each other during the process.

REP. MARK FOLEY (R), FLORIDA: Exactly, Judy. If we can get along, so can they.

WOODRUFF: I want to bring begin with you, Congressman Emanuel, because looking at this prescription drug bill, everyone acknowledges that it's not perfect, a lot of disagreement about it.

But it does expand drug coverage and it does bring down the cost of drugs for many seniors of. Why not accept half a loaf, or a little better than half a loaf than wait for something perfect and have nothing in the meantime?

EMANUEL: Where I fundamentally disagree with the legislation is in fact, it doesn't do anything to manage, what I think, or bring down prices.

There are three ways to do that: faster generics to market, bulk negotiation -- creating a Sam's Club with the 41 million purchasers, or through reimportation, allowing people to buy the same drugs at lower prices in Canada and Europe.

I brought an example, Judy. Here is Zocor, which in the United States is $90, in Germany $45, and Canada $40. Yet next year that's projected to go up 15 percent. And this bill on any one of those areas, through generics or other types of negotiations, or through free market of choice, could bring prices down and it won't.

So we're asking the seniors to pay more. And moss importantly, with $400 billion, the taxpayers are being left with a bill when rather than getting the best price, we're paying premium prices and will continue to pay premium prices.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Foley, let me turn to you, not just on the point that Congressman Emanuel made, but also about the fact there are, what, 30-some odd Republicans in the House of Representatives who have problems with this bill of a different sort. They're saying there is not enough competition permitted here on the part of private insurers. Could this whole thing go down because of their opposition?

FOLEY: Well I hope they actually read the bill because there is a lot of competition in this Medicare bill. There's a lot of new technology. Cardiovascular screening, diabetes screening. There's an increase for physicians and hospitals in the fee structure.

So we're doing a lot in Medicare. And for grandmothers like my deceased buscia, who came to this country from Poland, they'll actually save a lot of money on their prescription drugs. The average senior spends about $2,000 on prescription drugs. They'll have about a $900 to $1100 annual savings or what we're now going to be providing in this bill.

Now you were right at the beginning, if they're waiting for the perfect, they'll be waiting a long time. AARP said this is a great first step, and I agree. I think we should work together, iron out some of the problems. But if we're going to obstruct this bill, then seniors in America are going to be the ones hurt.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Emanuel, we know the Democratic leadership in the House is saying, among them, the leader Nancy Pelosi, described as fighting mad over this legislation. Is there going to be retribution against Democrats who vote for it?

EMANUEL: No, I think -- look, I think she's always said you've got to vote your conscience. But we believe that the division here is fundamental about a set of values as it relates to the future of Medicare and having a benefit.

There can be a great deal of bipartisan compromise and agreement about the feature benefit. It is a disagreement about not creating just competition, but how they want to construct the Medicare in the future going forward. And they're setting up the table so Medicare can fail. That's the problem. And we think there's a fundamental difference about a compact that brings people together, provide seniors health care.

And remember, if you go back to '64 when it was first created, one out of three seniors lived in poverty. Medicare's been a tremendous success. We can give them a benefit without undermining Medicare at the same time. That's the problem with this bill. And it also undermines the financial stability of our taxpayers.

WOODRUFF: How do you respond to that, Congressman Foley?

FOLEY: Well, again, I want everybody to read the bill. This is an important milestone for Medicare. This will help seniors in Florida. I have the fifth largest Medicare eligible population out of 435 congressional districts. My work on this topic for the last nine years has been to ensure safeguarding the seniors, providing a level of benefits that they've come to expect, and providing a new regime of prescription drug access that's available now.

I don't want my citizens to have to travel to Canada to get better prices. I want the to go to the local Eckard's or Walgreen's. We will achieve that through negotiations in this bill.

WOODRUFF: All right.

EMANUEL: You would agree there's no negotiations in this bill. That's the problem. It explicitly says that HHS -- secretary of HHS doesn't have the right that private insurance has or the Veterans' Administration has. That's the problem is they prohibit Tommy Thompson, who's very successful, from negotiating lower prices.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, a prediction from both of you on what's going to happen? Congressman Foley?

FOLEY: Judy, we're going to win this vote. It will be close. But the members of Congress will recognize this is important to seniors and we'll win.

WOODRUFF: And, Congressman Emanuel?

EMANUEL: Way too close at this point.

WOODRUFF: All right.

FOLEY: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Emanuel, Congressman Foley, good to see both of you. And thank you for your patience for waiting.


WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

FOLEY: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Supporters have called Howard Dean strong and outspoken. Opponents have accused him of being arrogant and unforgiving. But now many Americans have gotten to see a more personal side of the Democratic presidential candidate. Dean is preparing to travel to Hawaii next week to recover what are believed to be the remains of his missing brother.

Charles Dean's remains were found earlier this month in a rice paddy in Laos nearly three decades after he and a companion disappeared during a world tour, apparently captured by communist rebels.

In his public life, Dean has occasionally opened up about the heart break of losing his younger and much-loved brother.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was terrible. Certainly the worst thing -- the only people it was worse for than the three of us was my parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did that affect your thinking about your life, what you wanted to do..,

DEAN: It did in the sense that, I think it's important to tell people that you love them, if you love them, and don't wait and not -- it made me a lot less reticent. I'm not person who wears my emotions on my sleeve.

I'm sort of a Yankee, you know. And we don't say -- lay out all our feelings. But I go out of my way to let people know what I think of them because of that.


WOODRUFF: In fact, Dean did not get quite as personal in his remarks about his brother yesterday. I spoke earlier with Jodi Wilgoren of "The New York Times," and I asked her about Dean's demeanor yesterday.


JODI WILGOREN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well it was interesting, because when I first got up to New Hampshire to the AARP forum, where Dean and the other Democrats were gathered yesterday, people were saying that they had heard him getting the call, and that he seemed surprisingly unmoved or unshocked by it.

We found out later that they actually learned that the remains had been discovered last week. And what happened yesterday was they found out that this news had hit the wire services because an Australian newspaper had reported on the recovery since Charlie's traveling companion was Australian.

So at first we really thought he was showing no emotion. We found out later that he wasn't -- this wasn't the first news he'd gotten. And in fact, the dean family has been following the recovery efforts in Laos for months, and had been pretty hopeful that they would turn up the remains.

WOODRUFF: Well Howard Dean has talked in the past about how he wears, I gather, everyday, the belt that belonged to his younger brother, Charlie. What has he said? You followed Dean out on the campaign trail. What has he said about his brother?

WILGOREN: Well, as I said before, he does not talk about him in speeches, or in public. Voters don't ask about him. He doesn't make an issue the way that other politicians make an issue of their loss.

But when you ask him about Charlie, he is fine to talk about it. He talks about how they shared bunkbeds and how Charlie would lead the boys in building forts outside their East Hampton country home. And how Charlie was more involved in politics than he, Howard was, when they were younger.

He also says that the death of Charlie, or the disappearance was a seminal event that he on retrospection later thinks helped motivated him to not just go into politics, but really make anything out of his life. He was somewhat wayward and lost and out in Aspen skiing for the year. And after Charlie's disappearance, got much more serious about just making something of himself.

WOODRUFF: And I saw that you interviewed his mother, and she said something along the same lines, how she thought it made a difference as well.

Jodi, I want to ask you about whether or not you think this -- to what extent did this have any effect on Dean's view, not just of the Vietnam war, but war in general? The war in Iraq this year?

WILGOREN: Well, he did say yesterday that he feels that this gives him some empathy with military families. That he knows what it's like to lose someone in a hostile territory. So that was the first glimpse that I had that he was making a connection himself.

I do think, you know, he was opposed to the Vietnam War at the time, and I'm sure the loss of his brother only made him more suspect of the conflict, and probably of foreign occupation, foreign conflict in general.

WOODRUFF: Jodi, it's not only Howard Dean who obviously has suffered enormous loss, but John Edwards, who lost a teenage son just a few years ago in a car accident. There are other candidates who have suffered significant losses in their family, or seen children go through terrible crises. What effect do you think this has on someone in public life?

WILGOREN: Well, I think what may happen is when you have something like that, when you suffer this kind of profound personal loss, that it may just galvanize you to make something more out of your life, to kind of seize the day a little bit.

Howard Dean said last night that one of the effects that he feels from losing Charlie was that he doesn't hesitate before telling someone that he loves them, that he does. Because he's not sure when he might get the next opportunity.

So I think it's possible that these experiences just make these men kind of realize what their own opportunities are, and to seize them quicker.


WOODRUFF: Jodi Wilgoren of "The New York Times."

Wesley Clark is taking aim today at Howard Dean's new call for reregulation of businesses. Dean urged the about-face in Houston last night, citing the scandal at nearby Enron as a reason for greater government oversight.


DEAN: ... enrich themselves by deceiving everybody and robbing people of the future they'd earned.


WOODRUFF: Dean's remark apparently didn't sit well with Wesley Clark. He's now questioning whether Dean is repudiating the Clinton economic legacy.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: According to "The Post" Governor Dean plans to distance himself from Clinton's economic legacy. And wants to engineer a reregulation of the American economy, distance himself from 22 million new jobs, from balanced budgets, from low interest rates matched only by record high growth.


WOODRUFF: Clark spoke while campaigning today in Massachusetts.

A loose end from the end of the Clinton administration has finally been tied up. Next, what the Federal Election Commission says about gifts to the Clintons from fund raiser Denise Rich.

Plus, 40 years after a national trauma, what the public thinks about who killed president Kennedy.


WOODRUFF: An update on Michael Jackson. The entertainer is facing charges of multiple counts of child molestation. Jackson is being given a deadline to surrender to authorities in Santa Barbara, California. And district attorney Tom Sneddon suggests he get here, quote, "get here and get checked in," end quote.

A Jackson family spokesman issued a statement on behalf of Michael Jackson just minutes ago. It reads, "The outrageous allegations against Michael Jackson are false. Michael would never harm a child in any way. These scurrilous and totally unfounded allegations will be proven false in a courtroom.

"Naturally, the implications are distressing to everyone who hears them, which is precisely the point. We are disturbed by the levity of the environment surrounding the announcement of these very serious charges. When the evidence is presented and these allegations proven to be malicious and wholly unfounded, Michael will be able to put this nightmare behind him.

"Michael through his attorneys, led by Mark Geragos, has already made arrangements with the district attorney to return to Santa Barbara to immediately confront and prove these charges unfounded."

Again, that statement issued just minutes ago by a spokesman for Michael Jackson. Stay with CNN for the latest on this developing story, and we'll have a full report at the top of the hour on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. As we reported earlier, the Senate is debating a bill overhauling U.S. energy policy for the first time in a decade. The Republican-backed bill passed the House yesterday, despite Democratic claims that it is a giveaway to the energy industry.

We heard the Bush administration's perspective from energy Secretary Spencer Abraham just a short time ago on INSIDE POLITICS. Now Democratic Senator Ron Wyden joins me from Capitol Hill.

Senator, I know that you and some other Democrats are concerned. But let's talk about what's positive in this bill for Democrats. You and Democratic colleagues who are saying it will boost research on renewable energy, that's it's going to increase the use of ethanol in gasoline, that it does away with a whole drilling in Anwar, the arctic wild life preserve. Why not accept the compromise in this bill rather than reject what you don't like?

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Well it takes some baby steps in the right direction. But it's sort of like putting a four-inch dam over the mighty Columbia River. You're just going to get flooded.

And here's the problem, Judy, what could have been a declaration of energy independence in our view, is a new low in special interest politics. This is a bad bill. It's really a polluter's payday. And I think tonight we are very close to having the votes to actually bring this bill down in the United States Senate.

WOODRUFF: Well I'm surprised to hear you say that, because the majority leader, your colleague, Tom Daschle was quoted as saying -- I mean, he has concerns, but he said the opportunities that we have for renewable energy in this legislation, he said, offsets to a certain extent the many liabilities in the bill. That doesn't sound like he's going to be with you on a filibuster.

WYDEN: Well, every senator, of course, is free to make their own choice. But I think we have upwards of about 30 Democratic United States senators and the vicinity of six or eight Republicans that are hard votes already. We're picking up support all the time.

And for example, when you look at the area you just mentioned, on a 5-1 basis, there are more subsidies for the powerful special interests, for example, the oil and gas lobbies, than there are for dollars for renewable energy such as solar and wind.

This bill doesn't pass the smell test. It's really right out of 20th Century casting, just subsidizes all these very well-connected interests to really do what they're already doing which has contributed to the mess we're in.

WOODRUFF: But doesn't it also have provisions that address what caused the blackout in the Northeast and Midwest this past summer? It includes guidelines, mandatory guidelines that would theoretically prevent another blackout from happening? How can you oppose something like that?

WYDEN: Again, though, those steps are so modest and there are loopholes everywhere. For example, we've had problems in the Pacific Northwest as a result of market manipulation stemming from Enron. Virtually all of those practices are being given the green light under this legislation.

I think what's happened in the last day or so is senators have looked at this legislation and seen all the special interest goodies. It's just not passing the smell test.

For example, one provision that concerns me and many others is it actually relaxes the export controls on highly enriched uranium, which will be a big plus for terrorists.

WOODRUFF: But, again, let me go back to my original question. If you can get some of what you want right now, why not get that and work to improve this in the next -- in the coming year?

WYDEN: Democrats are not for doing nothing. We want to move forward and do the job right. But to go backward, for example, with respect to environmental standards, I mean, this legislation is a huge step backward in terms of environmental standards, with respect to the use of tax dollars.

We're not going to see $25 billion come along for an energy bill very often. And I just don't think you can fritter it away on subsidizing all of the people who helped to contribute to the problems we face today.

We are more dependent on foreign oil now. I happen to think that the dipstick of a good bill is whether we shake free of our dependence on foreign oil. This legislation is more than a few quarts low.

WOODRUFF: But with division among the Democrats, aren't you going to have problems defeating it?

WYDEN: We are picking up support by the hour. If you had asked me two days ago, Judy, if we had been close on a filibuster, I would have said no way. In the last day or so, we are very, very close to having 40 votes to bring down this bill. Democrats are not for doing nothing. We'll have another year in this Congress to do the job right.

That's where I think we ought to go and we ought to do it on a bipartisan basis.

WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Ron Wyden, we're going to have to leave it there.

WYDEN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Ron Wyden of Oregon. Good to have you talk to us today. We appreciate it.

WYDEN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Forty years ago Saturday, a heartbroken United States of America mourned as its president was gunned down in the streets of Dallas, Texas. When we return, we will check out a new poll that asked Americans if they believe the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing the late president.

And we'll find out how Americans feel about JFK 40 years after his death.


WOODRUFF: It is fair to say that president John F. Kennedy still enthralls Americans four decades after his assassination. And as Saturday's anniversary of the shooting approaches, there's still no end in sight to the conspiracy theories that arose just after JFK was gunned down in Dallas.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Forty years have passed, but the mystery remains.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Three-quarters of Americans believe there was more than one man involved in the Kennedy assassination, but they're not sure who the other people were.

WOODRUFF: A new Gallup Poll shows only 19 percent of Americans think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, 75 percent believe other forces were at work, 37 percent think the Mafia had a hand in the shooting and 34 percent suspect the CIA was involved.

Though most Americans remain suspicious, seniors are somewhat less so.

HOLLAND: The people that have the best memories of the Kennedy assassination are the ones who are least likely to say that other people were involved.

WOODRUFF: Transcending the talk of conspiracies, the glow of Camelot and the legacy of the slain leader. Forty-three percent of Americans pronounced Kennedy a great president, 42 percent consider him a good one and 17 percent say he's the best there ever was, tied with Abraham Lincoln, and just ahead of Ronald Reagan.


WOODRUFF: Remarkable numbers there.

Still ahead, the final word from the feds on a rich Clinton era fund-raiser.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: After almost three years, the Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint that Democratic fund raiser Denise Rich broke campaign finance laws. Rich was accused of donating campaign money and furniture to Senator Hillary Clinton in exchange for a pardon for Rich's former husband.

Bill Clinton pardoned Mark Rich just before the former president left office. FEC lawyers say no campaign finance laws were broken and any bribery allegations are outside the jurisdiction of the FEC.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


PRESS: Battle; Interview With Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham>

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