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Dick Gephardt on the Attack; Interview With James Hoffa

Aired January 14, 2004 - 15:46   ET


REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction.

ANNOUNCER: Dick Gephardt blasts Dean in Iowa, with the race close and the caucuses near.

New questions of conflict in Howard Dean's stand against the Iraq war.

Unions divided between Gephardt and Dean. Which side's labors will pay off most on caucus night?



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, like many of the '04 Democrats, we have been hopscotching across Iowa aboard CNN's election express. Today we're on the campus of the University of Iowa, home of the Hawkeyes. You can see their symbol on my cap. This is also the site of Iowa's former capital.

It is cold here, it's windy, but it is as good a place as any to watch the Democrats get ready for next week's caucuses. As the first in the nation caucuses get closer, the Democratic presidential race is getting even more combustible. Dick Gephardt, in particular, really ratcheted up his fire at his leading rival in Iowa, Howard Dean.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has more from Des Moines -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, you know that the higher the stakes, the closer the calendar, the more heated the rhetoric. And today, Richard Gephardt -- and no one has bigger stakes in Iowa than Richard Gephardt -- today lit the fire under Howard Dean, accusing Dean of switching his positions on NAFTA, on Medicare, on assault weapons bans, all to appeal to the party base.


GEPHARDT: To me, there is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction. I believe in standing for something, and I think all of you do, too.


CROWLEY: Now, Gephardt says that he's not accusing Howard Dean of lying. But he does say he is all over the lot on an awful lot of issues.


GEPHARDT: I've come to realize that Governor Dean isn't shooting from the hip. That's just making excuses. Howard Dean knows exactly what he's saying when he says it. And if you think he's contradicting himself, well, as far as he's concerned, that's your problem and not his.


CROWLEY: Gephardt also noted that in recent months, Dean seemed to question whether Osama bin Laden was guilty, and he also said at one point that there was an upside, perhaps, to having Hamas, an organization the U.S. views as a bunch of terrorists, taking over the Palestinian Authority. Today, Gephardt repeated those statements and then said, "And we thought George W. Bush was unprepared to be president."

Pretty rough speech here, Judy. It really does speak to the intensity of this race and the closeness of those polls. Again, Richard Gephardt with a lot more to lose here than most anybody else. And pretty rough stuff for him, and for this time in the campaign.

WOODRUFF: Candy, as you know, we take all the pre-caucus polling in Iowa with a great big grain of salt. But we have been reporting some daily numbers in Iowa. And we do so again today.

The Zogby daily tracking poll now shows Dean with 24 percent. That is just three points ahead of Dick Gephardt, at 21 percent. And the survey has John Kerry up to 21 percent, as well.

So, Candy, as you know, the Kerry camp is seizing on these poll numbers, saying this is evidence that their candidate is surging ahead. What are you hearing? What are you learning about where this race really stands right now?

CROWLEY: Look, from a number of camps we're hearing about a tightening of the polls, which we expect to see in the final days of any kind of contest. But what a number of camps -- and these are non- Dean camps -- will tell you is that they think that their tracking polls are showing that, in fact, Dean has plateaued, if not going down. So the others are coming up and Dean has plateaued. And they don't see any movement toward him.

Having said that, you know, a number of these people still say look, we've got a couple of days to go. The tracking polls can be all over the place, as undecideds say, OK, him, and then see something on the news or hear something in the speech and say, no, somebody else I like now. So it's very, very fluid. They do believe both in the Edwards camp and in the Kerry camp that they are picking up momentum and that they are going up. Whether or not they went up eight points overnight is something else.

Look, what the Edwards people need, and what the Kerry people need, are what they call a ticket out of here. They believe one, two and three are the only people who get their tickets punched for those primaries that are on down the line -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of ticket punches, I spoke one-on-one with John Kerry here in Iowa today. That interview coming up on INSIDE POLITICS.

For now, Candy, thanks very much. We'll be seeing you, a lot of you later.

Now we turn to New Hampshire, where Howard Dean once again felt the need to explain himself after being confronted with something he said in the past. At issue this time, how his 1995 position on the Bosnian War squares with his opposition now to the war in Iraq.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has been covering Dean today. And she's with us from Manchester.

Hello, Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hi, Judy. Howard Dean has strongly criticized President Bush for his unilateral foreign policy, particularly in regards to Iraq. In fact, his opposition to the Iraq war is one of the cornerstones of his campaign, and one of the things that he says distinguishes him from the other Democrats in the field.

However, now a letter has come to light that Howard Dean wrote in 1995 to President Clinton urging military action in Bosnia. This letter reads, in part, "After long and careful thought, and after several years of watching the gross atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs, I have reluctantly concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure." It goes on to say, "Since it is no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action."

I had the opportunity to ask Howard Dean today if that letter was inconsistent with his current policy statements.


HOWARD DEAN (D), DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: It's consistent with what I've been saying for a year. I've gone through all the things and circumstances under which I would use force. One of them is to stop genocide if other world bodies refuse to abide by what their obligation is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MESERVE: Dean reiterated today that he does not oppose military action per se, and that he had supported the first war against Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Jeanne, as you know, there have been questions about whether Dean's support in New Hampshire lately may be slipping and Wesley Clark's fortunes rising. Thirteen days before the leadoff presidential primary, there are two New Hampshire polls out today.

Now, one of them shows Dean nine points ahead of Wesley Clark. But John Kerry in third. The other poll shows Dean 10 points ahead of Clark. Again, with Kerry in third.

So, Jeanne, what, if anything, are the campaigns saying about all this?

MESERVE: Well, Howard Dean's campaign is professing not to be concerned. They say that they never expected his 20-digit lead to hold up here. They say, in fact, perhaps this is a good thing because it might inspire Dean voters to get out and get to the polls on primary day.

That said, however, Howard Dean did lash out against Wesley Clark a couple of times today on the campaign trail. He criticized a comment from Clark in a recent debate that software jobs could go to India, saying that there were plenty of unemployed software engineers right here in New Hampshire.

He also struck out against Clark, calling him a Republican. He said, "I could forgive him for voting for Reagan and Nixon, that was a long time ago." But...


DEAN: What bothers me is he went out and raised money for the Republican Party and said great things about Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, after he knew they were anti-choice, after he tried to put this incredible $3 trillion tax cut through, which hurt women, children, and people trying to get their jobs and education. I do not think somebody ought to run for the Democratic primary if -- and then make the general election the Republican primary between two Republicans.


MESERVE: And Judy, Dean was asked today if he was ready for a vicious campaign against President George Bush. He said he was getting plenty of practice out there in Iowa -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Jeanne Meserve reporting for us from New Hampshire. Thanks.

Well, Congressman Dick Gephardt is running a new ad that attacked his Democratic opponents on U.S. trade policy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: 1993: Democratic leader Dick Gephardt passes the Clinton economic plan, leading to 22 million new jobs. Dick Gephardt led the opposition to NAFTA and the China trade deal. Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman all supported NAFTA.

GEPHARDT: We must raise global standards so that everyone everywhere does better. As president, I won't sign trade agreements with countries that use slave or child labor. I'm Dick Gephardt. I approved this message because it's time to change America's trade policies.


WOODRUFF: Joining me now from Des Moines is the Teamsters Union president, national president, James Hoffa. He's stumping the state for Congressman Gephardt.

James Hoffa, tell me how it looks. Teamsters army out there organizing caucuses just five days away. What does it look like?

JAMES HOFFA, PRESIDENT TEAMSTERS UNION: It looks real good for Dick Gephardt. We've got a tremendous army out here. We've got 21 international unions. We've got over 600 full-time people working day and night.

We've had over 20,000 house calls. And the reception has been tremendous. And we think it's going to pay off when it comes down to caucus day on Monday.

WOODRUFF: James Hoffa, we've been saying practically every day that pre-caucus polling in this state is notoriously unreliable. Having said that, the numbers that are out there seem to be showing momentum for the other candidates and not for Dick Gephardt. Are you at all worried?

HOFFA: Well, I think it's going to be close whatever happens. This is a close race. And I think that -- you know, I think the polling is not real clear. It's about who gets to the caucus.

This is a different type of race. This is not about polling. There's 2,000 caucus sites that people have to come to, and I think organization's going to pay off.

And hopefully the efforts that we've done here will pay off to get people to the caucus center, to the caucus sites during Monday to make sure that they vote for Dick Gephardt. I think it looks good. You really can't tell by polling.

WOODRUFF: I know you've heard the same questions I have, though, about whether organized labor's political machinery, if you will, at least the machinery of the manufacturing unions, is getting a little old and a little tired, especially compared to these new people, younger new folks who are signing on with Howard Dean, out there excited and energetic. How do you see that playing out? HOFFA: Well, I think that's kind of a thing that the newspaper people think. That's not true in reality. We've got dedicated people. We've got young people who are working for organized labor, whether they're manufacturing or not, and they're working day and night and they're very energetic.

They're trained. And the structure that organized labor brings to Iowa I think is very helpful, because they talk about the issues that the people of Iowa are concerned about.

They're concerned about jobs leaving the state. They're concerned about a national health care program. And they basically want to make sure that we have somebody in the office that can beat President Bush. And I think that's what people are excited about.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, you know there is a split in the house of labor. On the one hand, you've got the teamsters and the other manufacturing unions supporting Dick Gephardt. On the other hand, you've got government and service workers behind Howard Dean. How big a problem is this split in labor?

HOFFA: Well, I think it's unfortunate that labor could not get behind one candidate. But the fact there has been a split is something that has happened and that we have to deal with it. We have to move on from there.

Each international union has to make their own decisions. We polled our members, and our members want Dick Gephardt. Other internationals have gone the other way. But as I said, we've got 21 international unions. The majority of the unions in the AFL-CIO are for Dick Gephardt, and they're going to continue to pound the pavement with boots on the ground here in Iowa to make sure they accomplish their goal on Monday.

WOODRUFF: And you've got to work on getting those unions back together again before November no matter what. All right. We're going to have to leave it there.

James Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union. We appreciate it. Good to see you. Thanks a lot.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back. I'm sorry, continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: At war over war. We'll explore the latest flash point in the Democratic presidential race and what it says about Howard Dean.

Is John Kerry on a roll in Iowa? Judy talks to the senator about his campaign and his competition.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a fight. And we're just going to have to work very, very hard.

ANNOUNCER: Lessons in politics. Some Iowa high schoolers are getting ready to cast their presidential votes with the grown-ups.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've talked about going with friends. And when you create that group atmosphere, if a friend's going, they ease into it a lot better.



WOODRUFF: Welcome back. We are in Iowa City at the home of the University of Iowa. The University of Iowa Hawkeyes, you can see -- we told them we were going to give them a chance to make themselves heard, and there they are standing here in the cold and the wind.

As we begin the second half hour of INSIDE POLITICS back on this political campaign in this state as we get ready for next Monday's caucuses, Howard Dean headed back here to the Hawkeye state. And he's likely to face another round of questions about his position on the Iraq war.

In New Hampshire earlier today, the Democratic presidential contender said there is no contradiction between his opposition to unilateral U.S. action in Iraq, and his support for solid American intervention back during the Bosnian war. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider takes a closer look at Dean's words. Then and now.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Who wrote this and what was he talking about? "Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action with conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action."

President George W. Bush about Iraq? No. Vermont Governor Howard Dean about Bosnia in a letter to President Bill Clinton in July 1995. Does that make Dean a hypocrite? He's made opposition to the Iraq war the signature issue of his campaign. But he's never said he opposes all military intervention.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have supported the United States military action to roll back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. To stop Milosevic's campaign of terror in Kosovo. To oust the Taliban and al Qaeda from control in Afghanistan.

SCHNEIDER: Politically, Bosnia and Kosovo were the mirror image of Iraq. Many Republicans opposed military action, claiming the U.S. had no vital national interest in the Balkans. Sometimes they even sounded like anti-war liberals.

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: We're going to see a lot of young men and women come home in body bags or being maimed.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats supported Bosnia and Kosovo on humanitarian grounds.

DEAN: Intervention to stop genocide which is why I supported President Clinton's invasions in -- and sending of troops to Bosnia and Kosovo.

SCHNEIDER: Did Saddam Hussein meet that test? Democrats say no.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Saddam's evil regime was not an adequate justification for war.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans say yes.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured.

SCHNEIDER: Dean says he would also support military intervention if the U.S. faced an imminent threat. Unlike Iraq.

DEAN: All the effort we went to go after Saddam, who was never an imminent threat to the United States.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush's response? 9/11.

BUSH: Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions politely putting us on notice before they strike?

SCHNEIDER: As it turns out, Bush and Dean did agree on Kosovo. Then-governor Bush parted company with most conservatives on that war.

BUSH: I supported the -- the U.S. involvement in Kosovo because I was afraid that if that -- the thug Mr. Milosevic would destabilize NATO.


SCHNEIDER: President Bush can claim consistency. Does Governor Dean's support for Bosnia and Kosovo, and his opposition to Iraq, make him a hypocrite? No. It makes him a Democrat -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider. Thanks a lot.

When Howard Dean returns here to Iowa, he kicks off his big pre- caucus campaign bus tour. West Wing star Martin Sheen, and director Rob Reiner are expected to appear with Dean at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines. They began stumping for him in the state yesterday.

John Kerry also enjoyed the star treatment out on the trail. Singer/ songwriter Carole King performed at a concert for Kerry in Cedar Rapids, Iowa last night.

I caught up with John Kerry today in Davenport, Iowa, to talk about his campaign and the mixed news from the polls. He appears to be losing a little ground to Wesley Clark up in New Hampshire while gaining strength here in Iowa. I asked Kerry how he hopes to capitalize on his momentum here in the Hawkeye State.


KERRY: By just talking about the issues, Judy, which is what I'm doing. I mean, people are deeply concerned about their health care.

They are feeling the unfairness of the workplace in America. They're working harder, not getting ahead, and they don't feel as if somebody's fighting for them. And they're not.

Washington, unfortunately, has become so much -- in the Medicare bill and the energy bill -- the prisoner of very powerful interests. You know it, you've seen them, and we have to fight back against them.

You know, as I get into New Hampshire and as I get out of Iowa into the country, I'm confident that this message will resonate there, too. But right now I'm focused on Iowa.

WOODRUFF: And yet, here in Iowa you're up against what's supposed to be vaunted organizations on the part of Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean. How do you...

KERRY: Well, they do. They have good organizations. This is a fight. We're just going to have to work very, very hard, which is what we're doing.

But, I'm confident people are listening. Iowans have been absolutely spectacular in the way that they're serious about this.

They want to find who can be president of the United States. They're not just looking to win, and have a nominee. They want somebody who can beat George Bush, and who has the ability to stand up.

I bring to this race credentials and credibility on national security, defense, foreign policy, that will allow me to lead the Democratic Party, to stand up to George Bush on national security, and get us to the subjects of education, environment, health care and the things we really want to fight for.

WOODRUFF: And yet, you just said in your remarks here, this is not about a resume, it's about what's in the gut, your gut.

KERRY: Correct.

WOODRUFF: Are you moving away from the message of earlier, where you did talk a lot about your story, your resume, as a matter of fact?

KERRY: No. I think what I'm doing, Judy, is talking about the issues a little more directly. And really, more crisply to people in a way that is resonating.

I don't talk about the resume very much at all. I talk about what's important to people, about how they can trust me, that I will, in fact, fight for these things.

As I said today, I don't want you to like me because I did any of these things. But what these things tell you is I'm somebody who's willing to fight for you. And it tells you that when I talk about these things, it's not talk. It's a lifetime of real fights to make life better for people. And that's what they want. They want to trust somebody. And they want the system to work for them, not against them.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you, back on New Hampshire, Wesley Clark does seem to be moving up there. He's been spending a lot of time there. Again, you are from the neighboring state, you ought to have an advantage there. What's happened?

KERRY: Well, we're going to be fine in New Hampshire. I'm confident that as I come out of Iowa, he's all alone there right now, we're out here. I'm not concerned about it. I think New Hampshire folks are going to listen very carefully, see what happens in Iowa. They're open minded. As we come in and really get joined in a real campaign there, I'm confident that we'll do what we have to do.

WOODRUFF: On that point, let me ask you -- we're not supposed to ask these handicapping questions, but let me ask you a handicapping question. Don't you have to come in first or second in Iowa to get the boost you need going into New Hampshire?

KERRY: Judy, I don't -- I think you just have to get to people with the real issues that are on people's minds. You know, they don't care first or second. What they care about is are you talking about the things that really matter, and can you deliver them? Can you lead the country?

As we get into a race in other states, I'm confident that the leadership that I'm showing here, that is connecting to people, will also connect there. People want a president who has the ability to get things done, and they want a nominee who has the ability to beat George Bush. I bring something that none of the other candidates bring to this field, which is the proven ability to get something done in all of those issues that matter to the American voter.

WOODRUFF: Howard Dean here at the end of this campaign running a new ad pointing out that you and other of his Democratic opponents voted with the president to go to war in Iraq.

He's got -- has had momentum. Wes Clark apparently has some momentum. Both of them opposed this war. Has your vote for the war turned out to be an albatross for you as you look back?

KERRY: Judy, people know that I laid out a precise way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, without rushing to war, without being irresponsible in the way President Bush was irresponsible. President Bush broke his promises to the nation.

Now, people who know me know I have fought for peace, I have fought for a foreign policy that makes us safe all my life. And people know that I would never have taken us to war the way George Bush did.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry on the trail today in Davenport, Iowa. We talked to him just a couple of hours ago.

Still ahead, believe it or not, Iowa's geography can affect a candidate's caucus strategy. Stay with us and see how.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," the self-proclaimed Washington outsider. But that didn't stop Howard Dean from winning the D.C. Primary. The non-binding vote does not count towards the presidential nomination, but it still gives Dean something to crow about. He won with 43 percent of the vote. Al Sharpton came in second with 34 percent.

On the day before the Iowa caucuses, Howard Dean is scheduled to go to Plains, Georgia. And attend church and a Sunday school class taught by former President Jimmy Carter. Carter's spokeswoman tells me that the former president looks forward to seeing Mr. Dean, but she said it is not an endorsement. Carter has met with Dean and Wesley Clark in the past. And he says that he would welcome meetings with any of the Democratic candidates.

Sources close to former Texas Governor Ann Richards confirms she will endorse Dean later this week. Richards lost to George W. Bush in the 1994 Texas governor's race, set the stage for the current president's political rise. Needless to say, no love lost between those two.

But President Bush is politically cozy with another Democrat, Georgia Senator Zell Miller. Now in addition to endorsing Mr. Bush, Miller has agreed to campaign for him. He'll introduce the president in a Bush campaign fund-raiser in Atlanta tomorrow. Miller's spokesman says he will serve as a, quote, "top surrogate for the president through the election year."

We're back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: The United States' involvement in Iraq, as we've been telling you, getting plenty of attention here on the campaign trail in Iowa. We're in Iowa City on the campus of the university. It is an issue that still divides the voters and the Democratic candidates.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Howard Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq helped his campaign catch fire. And that's the issue he returns to in a new ad blasting his top rivals who supported the war.

AD ANNOUNCER: Dick Gephardt worked a resolution to authorize war. John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the war. WOODRUFF: Those statements are accurate but do not tell the whole story of the candidates' positions. Senator Joe Lieberman also voted for the war.

LIEBERMAN: I knew that would be a controversial decision among Democrats. And I did it, nonetheless, because I believed it was right for the safety of our country.

WOODRUFF: All the Democrats who backed the war have, to varying degrees, criticized President Bush's failure to build an international coalition, and his handling of post-war Iraq.

Along with Dean, Wesley Clark, Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun and Dennis Kucinich all oppose the war. As a congressman, Kucinich actually cast a vote against it.

Even among the war opponents, there's plenty of bickering over who's been most adamant and consistent in their stands on Iraq and how long the troops should stay.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All the other Democratic candidates who are contesting in Iowa are saying we're going to be there for years. It's the same kind of language that was used way back when we began our involvement in Vietnam.


WOODRUFF: Howard Dean's, by the way, support for unilateral action in Bosnia before his strong opposition to the war in Iraq is more fuel for critics trying to portray him as inconsistent.

Well the Iowa caucuses, we're learning, can provide important lessons in arithmetic and geography, as well as political science. Stu Rothenberg has been studying them all. He joins us now from Washington.

Stu, let's talk about arithmetic here. Not one man one vote in this instance. Explain how that works.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": That's absolutely right, Judy. Remember this is not a statewide test where one voter in one part of the state is, quote unquote, "worth" the same as a voter in other part. These are a series of individual tests in individual precinct sites.

And at some sites, dozens, maybe hundreds of voters will turn out, particularly in urban areas, whether it's around a university or Des Moines or another one of the larger cities. In the rural areas, a handful of voters may turn out at a particular precinct caucus.

Now, obviously, the urban areas get larger numbers of delegates as they move up the process. But, to the individuals who are attending caucuses in the smaller towns where only a handful of people are showing up, their one vote, their participation in that caucus actually is somewhat more important. They can determine who cracks the 15 percent threshold, who wins delegates in the individual areas more than people at the urban areas.

WOODRUFF: So, the geographic spread of support here, Stu, is almost as important as anything else?

ROTHENBERG: Sure. And the candidates know that. And the candidates, the ideal candidate will have statewide support, will be able to do well in all types of precinct caucuses, whether it's Des Moines or Cedar Rapids or small towns.

But in point of fact, some candidates are better equipped to compete in certain areas. John Edwards has decided to go for the smaller towns, the more rural areas, deciding he couldn't compete in the big cities. Everybody thinks that Howard Dean is probably going to do particularly well in upscale, urban areas and in university communities.

But we have to see exactly how they perform. Some people are going to waste votes. Look at John Edwards who is at about 15 percent in some polls, if you believe those polls. That suggests that he may be over 15 percent in some places and under 15 percent in others. And if he's under, he won't make the threshold. His people who turn out for him are going to have to decide if they're going to support other candidates. So geography really matters here.

WOODRUFF: Stu, just from your perspective in Washington, how does this whole caucus process look? We're here, we're in the middle of it, we're trying to talk to people on the ground. But from you sit, how does it look from a national perspective?

ROTHENBERG: Well, I think Iowa is important. Five out of the last seven Democrats who won Iowa have gone on to win the party's nomination. It's not a slam dunk. If it was then Dick Gephardt and Tom Harkin would have been the Democratic presidential nominees.

But I think it's important in the weeding out process. And it's important as the people who are generally regarded as in third or fourth place try to exceed expectations. So from an expectations point of view, Judy, I think it's absolutely crucial. I mean right now it looks as though the race is flattening out, and anybody, and everybody or anybody could win.

At the end of the day it's still going to be organization. It's going to tell us a lot about Iowa. And I think Iowa will whittle the field down somewhat and create some momentum for New Hampshire and beyond..

WOODRUFF: Well whatever, we are going to be all over it. All right, Stu Rothenberg in Washington. We'll be talking to you soon. We appreciate it.

ROTHENBERG: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: There's a first time for everything, including a first time in a caucus. Coming up a look at how young voters are getting ready for their first chance to make political history.



WOODRUFF (voice-over): ... he's carrying the Gephardt banner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wants the working man to give more money, that means the middle-class gets more money.

WOODRUFF: Sounds logical. But his peers are unswayed. Despite his best flirtatious entreaties Dillon (ph) rallies only two classmates behind the Congressman.

Since roughly half of her students are Republicans, Mrs. Baumgardner has merged the two caucuses. About half the class clusters in the Bush camp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of how he handled September 11 and just the big things that went on in our country during that time.

WOODRUFF: The runaway favorite among the young Democrats in this rural community, John Edwards. They say he knows where they're coming from, like with his plan to pay for college.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to work ten hours a week your first year in college and he'll will help pay for your college.

WOODRUFF: The cost of college is a big concern for these newbie caucus goers. It's what convinced Forrest Tasty (ph) to back Wesley Clark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants more people to get a higher education. He just doesn't want to pay for it. He's just making incentives so you go do it. Get into it and go do it.

WOODRUFF: But caucuses, like high school, can be cruel. Forrest's sole Clark comrade deserted him for Edwards, leaving Mr. Tasty sounding a little bitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think some of it had to do with popularity.

WOODRUFF: Forrest being something of a rebel decided to stay uncommitted rather than joining team Edwards or team Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not going to conform. I'm just going to sit here.

WOODRUFF: Many of the '04 Dems came up with big fat zeros in Huxley (ph). None of the teams bond with John Kerry or Joe Lieberman for instance. And Howard Dean, who's made a mission of ruling the young, convinced only one of Mrs. B.'s kids, Travis (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drugs, Howard Dean wants to nail the dealers, and help the everyday user.

WOODRUFF: Mrs. B. predicts just 40 percent of her students will caucus. That's only because half are Republicans. BARB BAUMGARDNER, TEACHER: They've talked about going with friends. And when you create that group atmosphere, they'll ease into it a lot better.

WOODRUFF: There you have it. Class dismissed.


WOODRUFF: That's Iowa. Coming up next, a governor of another state in trouble.


WOODRUFF: In Connecticut, the state legislature today announced that it will form a bipartisan committee to decide whether to impeach Republican Governor John Rowland. After first saying that he paid for renovations to his summer home, the governor admitted some of the improvements were gifts from friends, from state workers and a contractor who does business with the state.

Governor Rowland denies wrongdoing and he says he will not resign. He today commended the legislature for setting up what he called a very fair and deliberative process.

Well that's it for INSIDE POLITICS today in Iowa City at the university. I'm Judy Woodruff. Tomorrow, I'll be in Ceder Rapids, Iowa's second largest city and the oatmeal capital of the world.

But that's it for today. "CROSSFIRE," my buddies, Paul and Tucker, coming up right now.


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