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Cornfield Clash: Dean v. Gephardt; Interview With Governor Bill Owens

Aired December 3, 2003 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: It's all about Iowa. The first big contest of the '04 race couldn't be much closer or more crucial.

HOWARD DEAN (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You basically are going to determine who the next president of the United States is most likely.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now it looks like a Gephardt-Dean race, and I think I'm going to win it.

ANNOUNCER: It's the non-campaign campaign. How long can President Bush try to stay above the election fray and let others handle the political rough stuff?

Behind the music. Bono talks to Judy about his mission to ease the AIDS crisis in Africa.

BONO, MUSICIAN: I know I'm on INSIDE POLITICS, and I wouldn't want to be talking to anyone else right now.



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us. Well, caucuses are more like get-togethers with voting than they are like formal elections. So measuring support for presidential candidates in Iowa can be tricky business. But pollsters give it their best shot anyway.

And we have a new survey to tell you about that shows Democrats Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt still in a close race in Iowa, with Dean now ahead by four points. And John Kerry narrowly leading the rest, the increasingly interesting race for third place. But the Dean- Gephardt contest remains the main event in Iowa, with the caucuses now just a month and a half away.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is getting an up-close look at what we're calling the Cornfield Clash.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Periodically dismissed as irrelevant, the Iowa caucuses may be the '04 ball game to watch.

DEAN: You basically are going to determine who the next president of the United States is, most likely.

CROWLEY: A year away from the general election, that's a stretch. But in the primary season, an Iowa win means Howard Dean sails into New Hampshire, where he currently colds a double-digit lead. Two high profile wins is not big Mo (ph). It's mega Mo (ph).

GEPHARDT: I really believe that whoever wins the Iowa caucus is going to be the Democratic nominee and the next president of the United States.

CROWLEY: Richard Gephardt may be the only thing standing between Howard Dean and the Democratic nomination.

GEPHARDT: We're still 50 days away or so from the caucus. So anything can happen. But right now it looks like a Gephardt-Dean race. And I think I'm going to win it.

CROWLEY: In a state full of doves flocking to the anti-war Dean campaign, Gephardt must explain his pro-war votes. He does so as a matter of conscience.

GEPHARDT: You know it's a little harder to be in the Congress than it is to be a CNN analyst, or, you know, somebody who used to being a governor or something. You've got to vote.

CROWLEY: Gephardt fights the march of time, the aura of a bureaucrat with too many years in Washington. He's working on his standup routine.

GEPHARDT: I'm nostalgic for Ronald Reagan, that's how bad it is. Seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You adopted us. We didn't have any Democratic representation from Iowa.

GEPHARDT: I'll always be here for Iowa. You know that.

CROWLEY: Gephardt is a familiar face, an experienced politician, a Midwesterner who connects out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a very likable disposition. And he's not this hoity-toity type. Not like you take one of them, which one, he's a -- is it that Howard? One of them I watched on TV. And I thought he was a little, you know -- thought he was a little above you or so.

DEAN: In all due respect, Dick is a good person. I worked for him in 1988. He's been there for 30 years. This is the first time I ever heard a comprehensive health care plan that's not going to work.

CROWLEY: The new face in Iowa has to explain why a 9/11 world should bet on a governor from a small rural state with nothing to show in the larger world of foreign policy. DEAN: Well, I think the kind of experience that my rivals have, which led them to all support the war, is the kind of experience we don't need in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't sound like a politician. The first time I heard him, I was shocked. You know, everyone -- all the people in Washington seemed to be like Democrats cowering down to George Bush, and all of a sudden, he comes out there just swinging, basically. And I was like, wow, there's a guy who stands up for values and principles and morals. You know?

CROWLEY: In "never met a stranger Iowa," Dean struggles to shed his button-down personality to soften the edges of his anger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But this time I think I ought to get a big 'ole hug.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck to you.

DEAN: Now, there's a price for that hug. You've got to bring three people to caucus now.


CROWLEY: Polls, mostly unreliable in a caucus state, show the two are neck and neck. Predictions are turnout may be double what it was in 2000.


CROWLEY: An Iowa loss for Dean would likely slow his campaign. It would probably destroy Richard Gephardt's. Either way, whatever happens in Iowa, it will change the '04 dynamic -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Candy, what's the latest on this flap over the files that Governor Dean had ordered sealed before he left office?

CROWLEY: As of last night, the governor, former governor is telling us that they're looking into their options. They don't know if they can open up these records. He says he doesn't know what's in them, but he's going to look into it and see if he can be as accommodating as possible. That's where we stand at the moment, is that they're looking into their options.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley in Iowa, where it looks like they've seen a little snow in the last few days.

CROWLEY: They have indeed.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy, thanks very much.

'04 Democrat John Kerry, meantime, is working to flush out his world view and bolster his primary season prospects. In New York, Kerry vowed to reverse President Bush's foreign policies which he called arrogant, inept and reckless. Kerry says that as president, he would work to send tens of thousands more international troops to Iraq with U.S. forces possibly in the mix.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Bush administration has pursued the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the world rallied to the common cause of fighting terrorism. But President Bush has squandered that historic moment. The coalition is now in tatters, and the global war on terrorism has actually been set back.


WOODRUFF: Kerry also pledged to name an ambassador to head up the Middle East peace process, possibly former President Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter, or former Secretary of State James Baker, who is a Republican.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls usually don't make any bones about the fact that their policy speeches are part and parcel of their campaigns. Sitting presidents often take another tact. A fine art that our Bill Schneider has studied carefully.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): What looks like a campaign and feels like a campaign and sounds like a campaign, but you're not supposed to call it a campaign. It's the non-campaign campaign.

George W. Bush is running for president by running as president. Not every first-term president gets to do that. Jimmy Carter and the first President Bush both faced challenges for re-nomination within their own parties, always a bad sign. Both were re-nominated, but then lost reelection.

Unlike Ronald Reagan, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination in 1984. And Bill Clinton, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in 1996. And now, George W. Bush.

Running as president, means you can pretend to be above politics. Candidate, who, me? I'm too busy being president. But sometimes politics kind of slips out.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier this fall I had the honor of welcoming a fine hockey team from this state to the White House to celebrate their championship. With the start the Devils have had this season, it looks like they mean to repeat their trip back to the White House.


BUSH: I'm making similar plans myself. SCHNEIDER: There's only one problem. Bush has these nine Democrats running all over the country saying terrible things about him.

DEAN: I think the president has done a very poor job, both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

GEPHARDT: In my view, his economic program is a total failure.

SCHNEIDER: Are those charges going unanswered? Well, no. A president can use surrogates, like the Republican Party chair.

ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Anyone who is willing to demean the presidency in order to attain it is not worthy of having it entrusted to him.

SCHNEIDER: A president can travel to battleground states. Here's President Bush in Florida where he's been 17 times. Here's President Bush in Pennsylvania, where he's been 23 times.

A president's biggest advantage is the stature gap. One president, nine challengers. They complain about his Iraq policy, and run ads scoffing at the president's photo op.

Don't like that picture, the White House says? OK. Here's another one.


SCHNEIDER: A president can also raise big bucks. Over $100 million so far for President Bush. Now, why does Bush need that money if he doesn't have a primary opponent? Because liberal groups are raising money to run anti-Bush ads, independent of the Democratic campaign -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Which is what that media in California yesterday was all about.

SCHNEIDER: That's what it was about.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thank you.

Well, in Bill's piece, we just heard RNC chairman Ed Gillespie taking aim at President Bush's critics. Gillespie will be added again later today in New Hampshire.

In an advanced text of his remarks obtained exclusively by CNN, Gillespie takes shots at all of the major Democratic presidential contenders on a variety of issues. And he broadly accuses the president's critics of "adopting a policy that will make us more vulnerable in the world after September 11. Specifically, they now reject the policy of preemptive self-defense and would have us return to one of reacting to terrorism in its aftermath."

I'll ask Ed Gillespie about those allegations and the RNC's political strategy when he joins us tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS. Another political ally of the president is with us today. Up next, I'll ask Colorado Governor Bill Owens about the Bush campaign strategy and how Mr. Bush's trip to Baghdad may have played into it.

Also ahead, taking on Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'll talk to a top California Democrat who's launched a campaign against the governor's recovery plan.

And later, do some Hollywood liberals hate President Bush? We'll update the controversy over a star-studded political gathering, the one we just talked about.


WOODRUFF: The Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad appears to have given President Bush a boost in public opinion. A new poll finds the president's approval rating climbed from 56 percent before the trip to 61 percent after the trip. The National Annenberg Election Survey compared polling from the four days before Thanksgiving with the four days after the holiday.

With me now to talk about the president's policies at home and abroad is Colorado's Republican governor, Bill Owens. He's a longtime friend and political ally of President Bush.

Governor, good to see you again.

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: Good to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Governor, I'm sure you know a number of the Democrats running for president criticizing the president's foreign policy these days. In fact, all of them are saying if the president hadn't rushed into war with Iraq, the U.S. would be in a much stronger situation now in that country, able to get an international coalition, something we haven't been able to do.

How do you and other friends of the president answer that?

OWENS: Well, I think that we answer it by just looking at the facts. First of all, there was no rush to war. There was a period of buildup over a number of months.

We went to the United Nations. We asked for the United Nations to take action. The United Nations, despite 17 resolutions, calling upon Iraq to disclose and disarm, didn't do anything about it.

And finally, we did. And it was the right thing to do. And I think history will show that.

WOODRUFF: Well, and yet you are in a situation -- you said the United States is in a situation where it's been very, very difficult to get the United Nations onboard, to get more than just a smattering of countries to send any sizable number of troops in to help the United States. And the critics are saying that's because of this administration's policy. OWENS: You know, Judy, I understand. I understand that if the United States feels that it's in the world's best interest and our best interest, in terms of fighting the forces of international terrorism, we have to do what's best for us. And once we have those troops in place, it's human nature that other countries aren't going to come forward with us; in fact, taking the brunt as a world power.

Sometimes being a world power means that you have to do things for the good of the world, even when the world itself isn't going to formally go along with you. I think the world is glad that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. I think it's a much safer place because of American power and because of America's leadership.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Governor, "The Washington Post" reporting this week that the Bush campaign is beginning to assemble one of the largest grassroots organizations of any modern presidential campaign. All over the country, down to the precinct level, using enormous resources and so forth.

Is all this really necessary without any primary opposition?

OWENS: Well, it is. Because I think America remains a closely divided country in terms of presidential elections. We saw that in the last one.

We feel that this election is going to be won or lost within a state or two. It's going to be a very close election. We're going to make sure at the grassroots level we go out and meet our neighbors, knock on the doors, win this race once again, because we all believe that George Bush is a great president. And we need him for four more years.

WOODRUFF: Governor, one other thing I want to ask you about. Today the president signed a so-called healthy forest initiative. This is a set of measures to manage the nation's forests. But we've already seen environmentalists coming out criticizing this.

I want to quote someone with the American Lands Alliance, who said, "The president is ignoring common sense, home protection measures and limiting citizen participation in order to increase logging on 20 million acres of our national forests, a stated goal of his administration since day one."

OWENS: Judy, the American Land Alliance simply doesn't know what it's talking about. We had one fire in Colorado, it cost us a quarter of a million acres. It put more pollution into Colorado's air than all of our automobiles and trucks and SUVs did for an entire year.

The only environmentally sensitive way to manage forests is to make sure we minimize these huge forest fires that are destroying way too much of the West. We had 2,000 forest fires in Colorado the summer before last. We need to learn to manage our forest lands better. That's what the president's initiative is going to allow us here in Colorado to do.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to have it leave it at that. Colorado's governor, Bill Owens. Good to see you, Governor.

OWENS: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much for talking with us.

OWENS: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Well, more news about the Republicans in our "Campaign News Daily." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has called off plans to use a cruise ship as a floating hotel for his party during the 2004 GOP convention. Tom DeLay had planned to charter the Norwegian Dawn, which holds more than 2,000 guests.

Union leaders and New York Democrats blasted the proposal. They said the idea would take business away from city hotels and restaurants.

Democratic hopeful Wesley Clark is expanding his television ad buys to three states with primaries on February 3. Clark begins airing a 60-second ad in South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arizona this week at a cost of about $200,000 in each state. It is the same biographical ad that Clark ran in New Hampshire late last month.

On a much larger scale, the liberal interest group is launching a $2 million anti-Bush ad campaign tomorrow. The airing spots in 17 cities across five states. The ad will air for the next two weeks in Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia.


NARRATOR: George Bush is going to spend $87 billion more in Iraq. But after almost three years, where's his plan for taking care of America? The truth is, we're not being led, we're being misled.


WOODRUFF: Meantime, out West, Congressman Dick Gephardt is showing his solidarity with striking grocery workers. He walked the picket line outside a store in West Hollywood this morning. More than 70,000 grocery workers in southern California are striking in dispute over health care benefits.

Coming up, while Arnold Schwarzenegger touts his plan to solve California's budget crisis, he has a big battle on his hands. We'll hear from a leading opponent of the governor's bond proposal when we return.


WOODRUFF: In California, lawmakers are staring at a Friday deadline on whether to approve Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plan. While the governor is expressing optimism that his plan will pass, he has a fight on his hands from the Democratic State treasurer, who is considered a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2006.

In a rally yesterday in San Diego, Schwarzenegger pushed the plan which calls for $15 billion worth of bonds to pay off the deficit. And he wants the issue, he says, placed before the voters this March. But State Treasurer Phil Angelides calls Schwarzenegger's plan irresponsible and "morally repugnant."

Just a little while ago, I asked Angelides about his concerns. My first question, why isn't Schwarzenegger's plan to borrow money the right way to go, rather than cutting government elsewhere?


PHIL ANGELIDES (D), CALIFORNIA TREASURER: Well, first of all, Governor Schwarzenegger campaigned on the promise that he would protect education, health care for kids, public safety as he balanced our budget. And he promised to end the deficit spending.

And he's saying that he wants to borrow more than $15 billion to be paid back over 30 years. And I think it's the wrong thing to do. It saddles our children with debt for decades. Ultimately, this $15 billion bond will cost $35 billion, principal and interest.

And it means my 25-year-old daughter, who just got out of three years of the Peace Corps, will be paying on this bill until she's 55. It's not the morally or fiscally right thing to do.

WOODRUFF: But isn't it a matter, Mr. Angelides, of alternatives? Because what are the alternatives, severe cuts in state spending or raising taxes?

ANGELIDES: Well, here's the way you balance the budget, truthfully. You cut where you can lesser essential programs. And yes, you consider fair revenues. You put everything on the table.

But borrowing solves nothing. It doesn't move us an inch closer to a balanced budget. In fact, after the governor borrows $15 billion, reality will hit us in the face because, come next June, we'll still have a $14 billion deficit. And the governor came in on day one, slashed taxes by $4 billion, and now he wants to kite the check and have our kids pay it. It's not right.

WOODRUFF: All right. You're talking about raising taxes for wealthier Californians. But this is a governor who ran on a platform of no higher taxes. He not only won, he won by a big margin.

I mean, why should you expect the people of California, the state legislature to support your plan when he was the one who just got elected on that idea?

ANGELIDES: Well, he didn't campaign on the basis that he was going to stick our children with a $15 billion bond and have children and grandchildren pay the bill for 30 years. He never said that. He never said he was going to continue to deficit spend.

He said he would balance the budget as he protected essential services. And all I'm saying is, he ought to be true to his word. And kiting the check and mortgaging our children's future is not what he campaigned on, Judy. He never said, I'm going to balance this budget by putting the state further in hock.

WOODRUFF: But what he did say in the campaign was that he didn't want to raise taxes. And I'm asking you, if that's what the voters support, how can you expect him to turn around and do what you're asking?

ANGELIDES: Well, here's what I'm saying. What he told the voters is that he was going to balance the budget, protect education, health care for kids, and he was going to balance the budget while doing it. And all I'm saying, Judy, is he ought to try to do that first.

And merely borrowing more and more money and putting the state further and further into debt, and sending the bill to our children, is not what he promised and not the right thing to do. So come January 10, he's required to have a balanced budget plan. We ought to see it. Btu he ought not be asking to borrow $15 billion plus without a plan on how to balance the budget. He doesn't have one.


WOODRUFF: California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, who is traveling across the state to express his opposition to the Schwarzenegger plan.

Question: are both political parties trying to get around campaign finance laws? We'll follow the money when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

And will John Edwards hit a home run with these new trading cards? We're back in a moment.



ANNOUNCER: Teaming up in Hollywood. Entertainers meet with prominent Democrats in hopes of ousting President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not like his policies. We hope to be able to find gainful employment for him in another line of work in 2005.

ANNOUNCER: He made his name as a rock star. But this musician has a political agenda as well.

BONO: Don't play politics. There's too many people's lives at stake.

ANNOUNCER: We're unplugged with Bono.

Do you know who this man is? It seems some Americans are confused.

GEPHARDT: They just came over to me and they said, "You know, we know you're somebody. But we're having trouble with who you are. ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Organizers of a Democratic political gathering in Hollywood say that it isn't so. They do not hate President Bush as some conservatives have charged. But at the same time they acknowledge that their critics and a dose of media hype help make last night's meeting a success.

And before we turn to that, we want to turn to another story in Ohio where police have been trying to find the source of 11 shootings along a five-mile stretch of highway near Columbus, Ohio. I believe this is Steve Martin, who is the deputy -- chief deputy of Franklin County Sheriff's Department near Columbus. Let's listen.


WOODRUFF: Steve Martin, who is with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Franklin County, Ohio near Columbus, reporting that there's a $10,000 reward out. You just heard him urging anyone with any information to call the sheriff's office, saying he wanted the media involved.

And also at one point saying to the shooter or shooters, to call or contact the sheriff's department to begin to -- a dialog with them as well.

Again, 12 shooting incidents over a seven-month period along a five-mile stretch of highway near Columbus, Ohio. Continue to keep you updated on that story.

As he said, someone has been taken into custody, but he does not believe they're connected with the shooting incidents.

Back to the story we were telling you about on INSIDE POLITICS, and that is a gathering of liberal Democrats yesterday in Hollywood. Democrats who came together in their unified desire to see George Bush out of office.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): The event was apparently a magnet for some of Hollywood's most vocal liberals. About 230 showed up at the Beverly Hilton, more than double the 100 or so originally expected. Host Laurie David, the wife of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star, Larry David, suggested negative publicity actually proved to be a blessing.

LAURIE DAVID, CO-CHAIR: I want to thank Mr. Drudge for helping turn a small gathering of political activists into a very large gathering of political activists. Now that's grassroots at work.

WOODRUFF: Online columnist Matt Drudge had reported that the event was being billed as a "Hate Bush meeting." Republicans cried foul with conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh calling it a "meeting of West Coast Hollywood Kooks."

DAVID: I never, ever used the words "Hate Bush." I think this is a result of what happens with the Internet. And does someone, somewhere, someone not even from Los Angeles apparently, decided to tag it "Hate Bush." It gets picked up by "The Drudge Report" and here we all are.

HAROLD ICKES, THE MEDIA FUND: We do not hate George Bush. We do not like his policies. We hope to be able to find gainful employment for him in another line of work in 2005.

WOODRUFF: Whatever the meeting was called, it was designed to build support for two groups working to elect a Democratic president next year. The media fund organized by former Clinton aide Harold Ickes and America Coming Together, led by Ellen Malcolm.

ELLEN MALCOLM, AMERICA COMING TOGETHER: I think there's an important role for all Americans, whether they live in Hollywood or they live in Columbus, Ohio or in Florida, wherever they are to be involved in our democracy.

WOODRUFF: But Hollywood types tend to have more money to give to political causes. Campaign finance reforms advocates charged that the groups led by Malcolm and Ickes were created to get around new laws banning unlimited soft money donations.

ICKES: We are not evading the law. We are operating in very strict compliance with the laws.


WOODRUFF: That was Harold Ickes.

Well let's talk more about the Hollywood event, the campaign finance implications and the '04 race with Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, first of all, a number of those folks we've been talking about out in Hollywood, they're not all together on who they support for president, but they're clearly unified in trying to raise money for these organizations. What is this all about?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think what you're seeing here, Judy, is the manifestation in the finance side of the polarization of we're seeing in the country on a political side. At a time when you have over 90 percent of the Republicans supporting President Bush, he's marching his way towards raising $200 million in this primary season.

And at the same time when he has an approval rating under 20 percent in most polls, among Democrats, there are lots of deep pockets that are willing to come out and give money to Democratic efforts to unseat him next year.

You know, you mentioned earlier in the show, A day after this event with these two groups -- the that meet in Beverly Hills are trying to raising somewhere about $175 million for anti-Bush efforts. has already raised -- is raising $10 million of its own, is coming back with more fund raising, they say. So

there's a lot of money on both sides that is coming into this race because it is a race that has engendered a lot of emotion on both sides.

WOODRUFF: And this is despite campaign reform? Because some people out there -- they must be scratching their heads, saying, Wait a minute, I thought there was campaign reform.

BROWNSTEIN: Money is like a river. You dam it up in one place, it flows somewhere else. There really is no -- there's never been a way to entirely segregate the process of politics from people investing their money as well as their passion in it.

The law said that the national parties can't raise soft money. The unlimited contributions that they were, you know, taking in from big donors.

So what happens? You have groups formed like America Coming Together and like the Media Fund that are designed to solicit many of the same people to give the same contributions to do the same things. Get out the vote, and television but only under a different auspice.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk about a very different subject, or somewhat different, John Kerry making another, yet another third major foreign policy speech of the year. Where does this get his campaign?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it -- what it really shows us is the divide that's there between Bush and the Democrats, I think, more clearly than among the Democrats themselves.

With Kerry's speech today, he reiterated his desire to see the U.S. transfer authority for the process of negotiating how Iraq will move to sovereignty to the United Nations.

We now have every major Democratic candidate saying the U.S. should cede authority over this process, these arduous negotiations that have been going on the decide how Iraq moves to a government, to either the U.N. or another international body.

And it's just another reminder that the central issue in foreign policy, the 2004 race, no matter who the Democrats nominate is going to be how much we work with allies and how much we try to pursue our ends on our own.

WOODRUFF: And very quickly, John Edwards today criticizing the head of the Bush administration Medicare program saying he was talking to different firms about a job at the same time he was negotiating Medicare. Is this the kind of thing that's going to help the Democrats?

BROWNSTEIN: He's using it as an example for a speech tonight calling for sweeping reform on lobbyist. Like all outsider parties, like George Bush in 2000, like Bill Clinton in 1992, the Democrats inevitably are running on cleaning up Washington, reforming the way business are done. In part because of what we've just been seeing. There really has been no effective way of stopping this flow of money and influence.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ron Brownstein, "Los Angeles Times." Thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you back in a few days.

BROWNSTEIN: All right.

WOODRUFF: All right, now let's find out how some of the Democrats latest moves are playing over at the White House. We're joined now by our senior White House correspondent John King.

John, let's first talk about the John Kerry speech on foreign policy. Some very, very tough language from the senator from Massachusetts. What are they saying?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the White House refusing to offer a point-by-point rebuttal to Senator Kerry, referring questions to either the Republican National Committee or the Bush-Cheney campaign. They say here they simply are not going to respond to every criticism from a democratic candidate for president, that that time will come down the road a little bit.

Privately, if you call the RNC or the Bush campaign, they will acknowledge that when it comes to the post-war Iraq, that this president has a political issue. They don't call it a political problem, but that he certainly needs to make the case to the American people that he is on the right approach in post-war Iraq.

But they say, consistently, if you look at the polling, that if you just if you simply ask the American people, Who do you support as commander in chief, or who do you support with national security issues, that this president continues to out poll the Democrats by quite a significant margin.

So they believe some work to be done, especially in making the case about policy in Iraq. But they still think this is one of the president's advantages.

WOODRUFF: And, John, what about this meeting of Democrats yesterday in Hollywood, getting together to, frankly, raise money against George Bush?

KING: I hate to disappoint, Judy, but another example of where we have a kinder, gentler Bush White House, if you will. They say again they will not comment specifically on the meeting, that everyone has the right to come together and express their opinion.

Privately, though, Bush aides echoing the point you were just discussing with Ron Brownstein. They say this is proof to them that even though some criticize the president for raising all this money, that there are liberal groups, Democratic leading groups out there, that are raising soft money by the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Bush administration says those groups should disclose the sources of their money, much like President Bush is disclosing his donors to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Of course, there are Republican leading groups that can organize and do this as well.

But on this day, the Bush administration using that meeting to say there are a whole lot of people out there trying to raise a whole lot of money to defeat this president. Therefore, Mr. Bush has the right to go out and raise all that money -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, and, John, Very quickly, you picked up some information on when we may find -- see a decision from the president on reversing those tariffs on imported steel?

KING: A big political decision and economic decision for the president. And we are told that barring a last-minute hitch, it will be announced by the administration early tomorrow, that the president is in fact lifting most of those sanctions he imposed on imported steel 20 months ago.

The administration will say it is prepared to take steps to help the steel industry if there is this sudden rush of imports from overseas against the industry. But the president in fact has decided to lift those sanctions, the tariffs -- excuse me -- and it will be announced by the administration tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: OK. John King. And he'll be reporting on that as well. Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well Dick Gephardt's relations with organized labor may be showing signs of strain in his home state of Missouri. Prominent national union leaders Andy Stern and Gerald McEntee today issued a -- accused, that is, a long-time Gephardt aide of threatening retaliation against Missouri state employees if the workers assist Howard Dean in the Missouri primary.

The two union leaders whose unions have endorsed Dean wrote a letter to Gephardt accusing Joyce Aboussie of threatening to seek a reversal collective bargaining rights for state workers. Now the Gephardt campaign has not commented on the claims, but the campaign did issue a statement in support of collective bargaining for public employees.

INSIDE POLITICS -- in telling you what's coming up -- in the past year, President Bush embraced the cause of battling AIDS in Africa. So why is rock star and activist Bono still fighting so hard? Up next, I'll talk to him about his latest trip to Washington.

And Dick Gephardt seems to be having an identity crisis of sorts. But as you'll see, he can laugh about it. And if it's good enough for baseball players, why not presidential candidates?


WOODRUFF: The singer and activist Bono of the band U2 has made a name for himself on issues like trade, global debt and the spread of AIDS. A little while earlier today I spoke with Bono here in Washington where he took part in a discussion on AIDS funding at the Kaiser Foundation. I started by asking him since Congress recently approved more than $2 billion for AIDS-affected countries, why is he here?


BONO: It's an extraordinary year for Congress. They've really done something to be proud of. Potentially, this money this year will double the aid to Africa, say, which is the concern that I'm concerned about. That's an extraordinary thing. The biggest increase in 40 years.

And yet, all the good will will be squandered if Congress don't come back because in two months, I mean, not to be melodramatic -- but actually, why not? -- 500,000 people will die. I think it's 2.4 million people die every year in Africa. So two months, hanging around, pulling Christmas crackers, this is not the year to do it.

WOODRUFF: The administration originally was talking about the president, $3 billion that came back. And they said, You know, we've looked at it, we can't spend that money efficiently. They came back with $2 billion. Congress has upped it to $2.4 billion. But the argument is, we can't spend more money now because it won't be used in a smart way.

BONO: The idea that Africans can't spend the money is preposterous.

But to be fair to Bill Frist and others, they were talking about specifically ten countries targeted with this new AIDS initiative. And actually, in the case of those ten countries, they're right.

Our argument was, you know, why is it just 10, and what about the Global Health Fund? Surely you could best spend some money in there. We were wrangling.

All in all, I have to say the administration has been very honest in their relationship with us. And we did fight over that billion dollars. There's been a compromise. We've had $400 million from Congress. And we'll take it.

WOODRUFF: What have you said to them? When the president and others have looked at you and said, We just don't think some of these countries know how to handle this money. Countries that don't have their political act together, their economy act together.

BONO: OK. You have to build capacity. And remember, this is the president who inspired not just people who are involved in this, these issues, but his critics around the world.

His last State of the Union speech, when he said, We will get the drugs to people on motorcycles, on bicycles. Now, that's the kind of American president I want to hear from, one that bangs his hand on the table and says, Let's get this done.

WOODRUFF: But you're not getting the answer you want on this point.

BONO: Well, look, as I say, we've got a lot of new money. One billion for Africa. You know, it's a lot, new money. It's real money. You have to give credit where credit's due.

But it's like you've got a burning building. This is the first fire truck that's arrived on the scene. And I'm really glad. It's about time we had a fire truck because it's getting out of control, this fire.

But you know what? If Congress doesn't come back, that fire truck doesn't have any water in the hoses. And the truth of it is, we need a fire brigade.

And next year there's going to have to be more money. We're really going to need this because the problem -- AIDS -- the AIDS emergency, it's kind of like a cancer, if I could use that analogy. The problem metastasizes. It goes exponentially in every direction. So it's a lot more expensive the longer you leave it.

WOODRUFF: Few other quick things. You mentioned the elections this year in this briefing.

BONO: Right.

WOODRUFF: Every one of the Democratic candidates for president is talking about doubling the money that the Bush administration is doing. They're talking about reaching out to orphaned children, orphaned by AIDS. Why wouldn't any one of them be better to work with on this issue?

BONO: That's great. You know, we'll work with whomever we have to work with. And we want -- you know, I have been drained of all political color. You know what I mean? I just want to work with the guy who writes the biggest check.

And as it happens, that's President Bush. And he's been true to his word. But, you know, writing it, then cashing it, that's the other bit.

WOODRUFF: Last thing -- you have been at this now for quite some time. You have given so much energy and effort. You've toured Africa. You've been back to Africa. You were there with Paul O'Neill. How much harder is all this than you thought it was going to be?

BONO: It's very hard. It's overwhelming to see somebody like I just meet this -- you know, this woman who's telling me her sister died yesterday. She's a South African AIDS nurse.

And she says, If I had the choice of who to give the drugs, I wouldn't have given them to my sister, I would have given it to the AIDS workers. They're the fire workers running up the building. That's an inhumane choice. That makes the job harder.

I tell you what makes it easier. The United States has a Congress that it should be proud of this year. And on both sides people have worked to make this happen.

This is not an issue to play politics with. I know I'm on INSIDE POLITICS, and I wouldn't want to be talking to anyone else right now, but that is our one thing, don't play politics. There's too many people's lives at stake.


WOODRUFF: Bono of U2 here in Washington.

We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: In Culver City, California Stewart Bubar owes his seat on the local board of education to his supporters, and one white marble. When all the votes were counted, Bubar and his challenger, Roger Maxwell, were tied at 1,141 votes each.

So school district officials decided to choose the winner by having them draw from a bag of red, white and blue marbles. The first one to draw a white marble would be the winner. Bubar did that on his fourth try. That's one way to win an election.

Well campaign trivia about Senator John Edwards. How far does he run every day? When did he marry his wife? These vital facts and more can be found on newest novelties of the campaign season.


WOODRUFF: Proving there's no limit to the creative ways of raising campaign money, the John Edwards campaign has unveiled baseball-style trading cards available for a donation of $25.

The cards feature lots of personal trivia, such as, Edwards married his wife the Saturday after taking the bar exam. And he runs five miles a day, in case you were wondering. Which, of course, all of us were.

Running for president apparently is not making Dick Gephardt a big celebrity outside the political arena. In fact the Democratic Congressman from Missouri says he's coping with an identity crisis.

In an appearance last night on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" the congressman from Missouri quipped that he's having a hard time getting recognized in public.


GEPHARDT: We're in the airport and there's these two women. I'm reading the newspaper waiting for the plane and they're looking at me and I could see we were in one of the identity crises.

They just came over to me and they said, You know, we know you're somebody. But we're having trouble with who you are. And we have a $5 bet. You've got to decide it. She said, I think you're Dan Quayle.


GEPHARDT: You think you've got problems.

JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW": I was going to say. Did you just quit the campaign right there? Was that it?

GEPHARDT: Yes, right. I was ready to go. And she says, My friend here thinks you do the weather on CNN.


WOODRUFF: Orelon Sidney, maybe.

Well Gephardt also talked about some serious issue including health care and the situation in Iraq.

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


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