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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Kerry-Nomics in Ohio; Interview With Former Governor Gray Davis
Aired February 25, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The Fed chairman opens the door for new partisan sparring over the federal deficit, and Democrats walk right in.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And no matter what was said in Washington just this morning, the wrong way to cut the deficit is to cut Social Security benefits.
ANNOUNCER: California, here they come. But have White House hopefuls been giving the Golden State short shrift?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For California to be such an important state, the last couple of presidential primaries we've kind of played last fiddle, really.
ANNOUNCER: One hundred days plus one. Does the man who lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger have anything good to say about his early going as governor?
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Los Angeles, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us here in California, the biggest primary season prize for the Democrats. John Edwards is already here. And John Kerry, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich will all be here tomorrow for their first debate since the field narrowed down to four.
Democrats got some new fuel today for their attacks on President Bush, courtesy of none other than Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. Greenspan urged Congress to deal with a growing federal budget deficit by cutting future Social Security benefits, expected to balloon when the baby boom generation begins to retire just four years from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: This dramatic demographic change is certain to place enormous demands on our nation's resources. Demands we almost surely will be unable to meet unless action is taking. For a variety of reasons, that action is better taken as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: President Bush was asked today about Greenspan's comments, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The best way to trim the deficit is to follow the budgetary plan I submitted to the United States Congress. We presented a plan that would cut the deficit in half over the next five years. I haven't talked to the chairman nor read his comments. I need to see exactly what he said. My position on Social Security benefits is this: that those benefits should not be changed for people at or near retirement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry has a different solution for trimming the deficit. And it is in part to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Kerry pressed his plan today in Ohio, where John Edwards has been trying hard to cut into Kerry's Super Tuesday support.
CNN's Kelly Wallace is traveling with the Kerry campaign.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This issue had Kerry's advisers smiling today, since it was a day when they wanted to put the focus back on the economy and away from the controversial issue of gay marriage.
First, John Kerry wins the endorsement of one of the most popular figures here in Ohio, retired U.S. Senator John Glenn, who told the audience this is the first time he is ever endorsing a candidate in a primary. Then in a speech, the Democratic front-runner never mentioned the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, by name, but used his call for possible cuts in Social Security benefits for retirees to slam the Bush administration on the budget deficit.
KERRY: And no matter what was said in Washington just this morning, the wrong way to cut the deficit is to cut Social Security benefits. If I'm -- if I'm President, we're simply not going to do it, and if I'm the Democratic nominee -- and I welcome this debate -- this s a debate that I will win, and we will win. And we will restore our economy in a way that is fair to Americans, without destroying the solemn contract of Social Security in this nation.
WALLACE: Ohio has lost more than 200,000 jobs in three years, more than any other state except Michigan. So it is no coincidence that here, John Kerry unveiled a new idea. As President, he says he would require companies to give their employees three months' notice if their jobs are going to be eliminated and shipped overseas.
Kerry now has a record of 19 wins and two losses after three victories yesterday in Idaho, Utah and Hawaii. Asked how he's feeling, he says great, but says there's still a lot of work ahead, a lot of campaigning to do. And that is because some of the latest polls, especially in Ohio and Georgia, show North Carolina Senator John Edwards making some gains but still trailing the Democratic front-runner.
Kelly Wallace, CNN reporting from Toledo, Ohio.
WOODRUFF: As Kelly just noted, after John Kerry's winning sweep in Idaho, Utah and Hawaii, he now has won 19 out of 21 Democratic contests, putting him even closer to the Democratic presidential nomination. Kerry now has 733 of the 2,162 delegates needed to seal the nomination.
John Edwards is in second place in the delegate race with 214. Dennis Kucinich still trails in delegates. But he has eight more than he did yesterday, after coming in second in the Hawaii caucuses. That was his best showing yet.
A new poll out today shows John Kerry has a huge lead here in California, another Super Tuesday battleground. The poll shows Kerry with 60 percent support of likely Democratic primary voters. That's compared with just 19 percent for John Edwards.
Now, Edwards did get a boost in the Golden State today. The "Modesto Bee" newspaper endorsed Edwards, saying he "espouses a new vision for America, not just a coddling of the narrow interests that have been protected for too long in Washington, D.C."
Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, traveling with John Edwards in Claremont, California.
Candy, those poll numbers look pretty daunting.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They do, indeed. It makes you think that what John Edwards would probably prefer is to have the newspapers vote, because he always does very well in those endorsements.
Nonetheless, as you can see, or maybe here, John Edwards has arrived here, giving basically his standard stump speech. California always a tough place to campaign, as you know, Judy. But he will be here from now through the debates tomorrow night.
This is a campaign that really it's not just California. It is working uphill in almost every state. We're told he is closest in Georgia. But even that is an uphill battle.
WOODRUFF: Candy, this comment today by the Federal Reserve board chairman, Alan Greenspan, about the need to cut back on future Social Security benefits because of the deficit, the Kerry campaign seemed delighted to be talking about that. What about the Edwards folks?
CROWLEY: Well, you know, I have to tell you, frankly, this is the first time we've heard him talk all day. We've been on a plane in Houston, and he didn't come back to talk to us. The campaign did, in fact, put out printed release saying, I'm glad they're talking about the deficits, but cutting back on Social Security isn't the way to go. Instead, what Edwards said in his press release is that he would like to cut back the tax cuts for the wealthiest and put a tax increase on the top 1 percent. So basically, agreeing with Kerry there, Judy, saying wrong way to go, but glad to be talking about the deficit.
WOODRUFF: Candy, you mentioned that poll in Georgia. Do the Edwards people really believe they've got a shot there?
CROWLEY: You know, it's always tough to tell, because you have to believe you've got a shot there, otherwise we'd all pack up and go home. They know, they're realists in this campaign, and they understand it's uphill. But they keep saying, oh, well he surges at the end. And if you're going to get a surge and you're going to win anywhere, they think its going to be below the Mason Dixon.
So that's their best shot. No matter how optimistic they are, I think we have to say they're cautiously optimistic, because that's what they always say when they're not sure it's going to happen.
WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley, trying not to be too loud as Senator Edwards speaks at that event in Claremont.
Candy, thank you very much.
CROWLEY: That, and I'm losing my voice.
WOODRUFF: OK. Candy, thank you.
Well, while John Edwards is out here today, California has not exactly been a magnet for the Democratic presidential candidates so far this year. And some Los Angeles voters we talked to aren't too pleased about that.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's the most populous state in the union, a primary powerhouse with a treasure trove of 370 delegates. But ask Democrats here if they're getting their due, and they tell you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Not at all. For California to be such an important state, the last couple of presidential primaries we've kind of played last fiddle, really.
WOODRUFF: Norm and Diana Lavoie are sick of being slighted. And they want the '04 Dems to come to them.
DIANA LAVOIE, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: I'd like to see California addressed more as far as the issues. I feel like they've campaigned in other states a lot more.
WOODRUFF: Chances are she'll be disappointed. California's just too big, too pricey to shower with campaign ads, too vast to stump across. Besides, nine more manageable states vote on Super Tuesday. States that aren't dealing with drama like hundreds of gay marriages, and months-long supermarket strikes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty evident that there's a lot of issues in California right now. And I don't think that most of the candidates want to get particularly caught up in that.
WOODRUFF: Los Angeles isn't sucked into primary fever the way, say, Des Moines was, or Manchester.
JEFF ISAACS, RETIRED TEACHER: Remember something, that much happens out in those areas. This is big. This is where these candidates have been coming. Very few of them have been coming here.
WOODRUFF: Maybe that's why Democrats we spoke with aren't consumed with the same "Get Bush" fervor. They seem to have a little more perspective than their East Coast counterparts.
At Lucy's El Adobe Cafe, business is brisk. Customers have no trouble settling online.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll have the beef taco dinner.
WOODRUFF: Settling on a candidate is a different matter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not real comfortable with either candidate that's leading the race right now.
WOODRUFF: Jackie Hudson says she'll probably go the Kerry way. She's got no love for John Edwards, unimpressed with his telling and retelling of a hard scrabble childhood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a storybook, "Cinderella." It just doesn't seem real to me. And for me, I need someone that I can totally relate to.
WOODRUFF: Others seem torn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tend to like Edwards, and I feel more secure with Kerry. And that's why I don't know.
WOODRUFF: Still, the decision doesn't seem to be keeping him up nights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how much difference it would make between the two parties, frankly. I'm a registered Democrat, but I think that they -- policies are similar.
WOODRUFF: He's hoping that before Tuesday, the Democrats will say something, anything, to change his mind.
WOODRUFF: And they've got five days to go to do that.
Meantime, INSIDE POLITICS will be in California again tomorrow at the University of Southern California here in Los Angeles. That is the site of tomorrow's Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the "Los Angeles Times." All four Democratic contenders are scheduled to take part in the debate, moderated by our own Larry King. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern.
Well, if anybody knows Democratic politics in California, it is the former governor of this state, Gray Davis. Up next, Davis joins me to talk about the presidential race, and to share his review of Arnold schwarzenegger's first 100 days as governor.
Also ahead, John Edwards' game plan on Super Tuesday. We'll get the inside story from a senior strategist for the Edwards campaign.
And later, it's all in the cards. We'll have some California- style fun by getting a psychic's read on the presidential race.
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger marked his 100th day in office in, of all places, Washington, D.C. Schwarzenegger's been attending a meeting of state governors, and he got together yesterday with about 15 members of his state's congressional delegation.
He then went to New York to raise money to promote measures on next week's California ballot. The propositions authorize $15 billion of borrowing, and they require balanced budgets and a reserve fund.
Well, joining me now here in Los Angeles is the man Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced, former California Governor Gray Davis.
Governor Davis, good to see you again.
GRAY DAVIS, FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: It's good to be with you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: And how is Arnold Schwarzenegger doing 100 days later?
DAVIS: I think he's off to a good start. You know, he's delivering on his campaign promises. And he's got a pretty good plan to deal with the state's financial troubles. I'm endorsing it. And I hope it passes next Tuesday.
WOODRUFF: Why is it the right solution?
DAVIS: It's the right solution because the economy has so devastated our revenues here and across most of America that, without some additional borrowing, the cuts are going to be too painful or the taxes too painful. So to avoid either of those two unpleasant realities everyone agreed borrowing and then saying, in effect, we're not going to borrow anymore, is the way to go.
WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, Governor, a number of prominent California Democrats, your state treasurer, Phil Angelides, the lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamente, are saying, among other things, it's irresponsible, it costs too much to rely on long-term borrowing. Even Mr. Angelides said this is going to cost each California household an average of $1,600. That's a lot of money.
DAVIS: Yes. Over what period of time? Probably 20 or 30 years.
The bottom line is, in a perfect world you would not borrow to pay operating expenses. But given the situation that California and many of the states face, it is the best alternative of a bunch of unpleasant alternatives. So I support it because I think it will help right the fiscal ship and give Governor Schwarzenegger a chance to deal with next year's budget.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the Democratic presidential primary. John Kerry, John Edwards are the leading Democrats on there. Who are you liking?
DAVIS: Well, I like them both. They're terrific candidates. And like everyone else, I see John Kerry as the front-runner. He served in Vietnam. I served in Vietnam.
Obviously, in my heart of hearts, I would like to see a Vietnam veteran do well. But I want the nominee to be strong. And I believe this process lengthening through California, at least, is good for the eventual nominee, because it sharpens the nominee, it keeps the Democrats in the headlines.
And I know that the powers that be wanted to shut this nomination down early. But I think it's actually good for the process and good for the Democratic Party for it to continue.
WOODRUFF: Why is it good for the party?
DAVIS: Because there's a debate every week. All the candidates are out there making their case. It gets in the news. And when you just have one candidate making criticism of the president, fine. But when you have five or six people making criticisms, it gets more news, and I think it's more persuasive. So I think the process has been healthy, and I think the nominee will benefit from it.
WOODRUFF: Are you publicly supporting John Kerry?
DAVIS: Not at the moment. I haven't taken sides yet in this race. But I just want a strong nominee. I think the Democrats want a nominee who will fight back and stand up for our vision of America.
WOODRUFF: John Edwards, I mean you're -- it sounds like you and I were just talking before this -- it sounds as if you're saying after awhile it becomes a matter of numbers. That it's pretty hard at this point for John Edwards to catch up.
DAVIS: Well, anything is possible. He's a very attractive candidate, very charismatic, and he's obviously made an impression on a lot of people. But the name of the game is to get a certain number of delegates. And after a while the numbers begin to tell the story. WOODRUFF: Governor, let me ask you about gay marriage, this issue that has burst onto the headlines. Massachusetts State Supreme Court had a ruling. Now you've got the mayor of San Francisco saying that these marriages are legal, and they're going ahead. Many are saying that's in defiance of the law.
Is Mayor Gavin Newsom doing the right thing by letting these marriages go forward?
DAVIS: Well, let me tell you my view on that subject. First of all, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But I don't think we need a constitutional amendment.
And I agree with Governor Schwarzenegger. This issue should be resolved in the courts. The attorney general is taking it to the Supreme Court on Friday. They are the ones who should interpret California law. Californians spoke a couple of years ago on this subject pretty clearly, and I expect that the courts will reflect that.
WOODRUFF: What about what Mayor Newsom is doing? Is that the right thing?
DAVIS: He eventually got this matter into the courts. The courts are supposed to interpret the law, executives are supposed to enforce the law.
WOODRUFF: But is he doing the right thing?
DAVIS: I might have taken a different path. As governor, you have to uphold the law. You have to uphold the will of the people until the courts -- actually, an appellate court tells you that that law is unconstitutional. But either way, you've got to get this matter before the courts.
There are two hearings headed in San Francisco. And of course the attorney general is bringing the matter to the California Supreme Court on Friday. And I'm confident that California can work its way through this problem.
WOODRUFF: I hear what you're saying about that it's up to the states, and obviously that's what John Kerry and John Edwards are saying. But ultimately...
DAVIS: And that's, by the way, what George Bush said in 2000. He said marriage should best be defined by the states. He was right then. And he's wrong now.
WOODRUFF: Yes. But so now he's talking about a constitutional amendment. But my question is, isn't this a losing issue for Democrats?
DAVIS: Oh, I think that remains to be seen. It's clear that President Bush would rather talk about marriage than talk about losing three million jobs, talk about all the people having difficulty getting health care. So obviously Democrats are going to talk about issues that affect pocketbooks of America. And ultimately, Americans are going to have to ask themselves, are we better off today than we were when President Bush got elected?
WOODRUFF: Former California Governor Gray Davis, still talking like a loyal Democrat.
DAVIS: Well, I am.
WOODRUFF: OK. Governor Davis, thanks very much.
DAVIS: Good to see you, Judy. Welcome to California.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you.
Still ahead, the speaker of the House of Representatives takes a stand against the president. We'll tell you why Speaker Hastert is at odds with the White House over extending the deadline for the 9/11 Terror Commission.
WOODRUFF: The speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, said today that he will block a proposed deadline extension for the 9/11 Terror Commission. President Bush recently came out in favor of a 60-day extension. But a spokesman for Speaker Hastert says he does not want the commission to become what he called a "political football" in the upcoming elections.
White House chief of staff Andy Card spoke with Hastert on Monday. But Hastert's spokesman said the speaker had already made up his mind. The commission is required to report its findings in just about three months.
Well, it's too soon for the "Political Play of the Week," of course, but the man who gave us the memorable phrase "irrational exuberance" has just given all of the presidential candidates something to talk about, whether they like it or not.
And later, I'll talk Super Tuesday strategy with insiders for both the John Kerry and the John Edwards campaigns
ANNOUNCER: A government deep in the red now faces another deadline.
GREENSPAN: In 2008, just four years from now, the first cohort of the baby boom generation will reach 62, the earliest age at which Social Security retirement benefits may be claimed.
ANNOUNCER: Alan Greenspan's sounds of warning on Social Security that's heard loud and clear on the campaign trail.
He's no longer a candidate, but Howard Dean still wants your help. We'll tell you why.
An unconventional look at the race for the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire constellation is sort of psychically, if you will, sort of shrouded in sort of a mystery.
ANNOUNCER: A psychic gets out his crystal ball. We'll tell you what he predicts
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Los Angeles, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Sorry about that. As the psychic said, politics is shrouded in mystery at times.
Well when the Democratic presidential candidates debate here in California tomorrow night, listen closely for comments about cutting the federal deficit, and saving Social Security.
As our Bill Schneider explains, there is a new incentive for Democrats to bring up those issues after today's comments by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The deficit ought to be a big issue for Democrats, but there's a problem. Everyone agrees the deficit is terrible. But most people believe raising taxes or cutting spending on popular programs is worse.
The deficit is a treacherous campaign issue. Walter Mondale and Ross Perot and Paul Tsongas found that out. Suddenly the Democrats have been given a much better issue thanks to Alan Greenspan.
Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve CHAIRMAN: The degree of uncertainty about whether future resources will be adequate to meet our current statutory obligations for the coming generations of retirees is truly daunting.
SCHNEIDER: Oh, my God, he's talking about Social Security. Your response, Mr. Front runner?
KERRY: The wrong way to cut the deficit is to cut Social Security benefits. If I'm president, we're simply not going to do it.
SCHNEIDER: We're back to before the terrorist attacks when the Democrats had President Bush on the defensive. Remember the lockbox?
AL GORE, FRM. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll put Social Security in a lockbox. SCHNEIDER: With a recession under way and a deficit looming, Democrats then thought they could force President Bush to break his campaign pledge.
BUSH: We're going to set aside all the payroll taxes and dedicate it to only one thing. And that's Social Security.
SCHNEIDER: The attacks ended the debate for the time being. The nation was facing a dire emergency. The lockbox was raided. So what? So enter Alan Greenspan to remind voters that there's another national emergency looming: the retirement of the baby boomers. The deficit threatens their security.
President Bush has been forced into the same corner.
BUSH: My position on Social Security benefits is this, that those benefits should not be changed for people at or near retirement.
SCHNEIDER: The Democrats have their answer, eliminate the tax cuts for the rich. President Bush's answer?
BUSH: This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats will call that passing the buck, while Republicans will say the Democrats can't wait to raise taxes, and won't stop with the rich. The debate is on, thanks to Chairman Greenspan -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Certainly sounds that way. All right, Bill Schneider. Thank you very much.
Both John Kerry and John Edwards are taking aim today at the Bush tax cuts for affluent Americans even as they vie with one another for support on Super Tuesday. Kerry is campaigning today in Ohio, where he's airing a new ad blasting Mr. Bush's economic policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Three million jobs lost, that is an astonishing failure.
AD ANNOUNCER: John Kerry's strength of experience to fight for America's jobs.
KERRY: We need to be on the side of America's workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The spot is also running up in Upstate New York.
Meantime, John Edwards is hunting for votes right here in California, as a new poll shows him trailing Kerry by 41 points among likely voters in the state's March 2 primary. There is new evidence that Georgia may offer John Edwards his best chance to steal some of John Kerry's Super Tuesday thunder. A new poll suggests that Edwards has gained ground in Georgia. He now trails Kerry by just eight points there.
It is a less promising picture, though, for Edwards in two other Super Tuesday states. Another New York poll shows John Kerry with a 33-point lead in that state. And a survey from Ohio shows Kerry with a 21-point lead over Edwards in the Buckeye State.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie took aim today at senator Kerry's voting record in the Senate. Gillespie accused Kerry of trying to run away from his past votes on defense and other key issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Senator Kerry cannot expect to run on his record in the Democratic primary and then run from it in the general election. He cannot expect to question the president's policies during the time he's been president, and then say it's not fair to question his policies during the time he's been senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Democratic Congressman Norm Dicks of Washington state has endorsed John Kerry and he joins me now from Washington, D.C.
Congressman Dicks, first of all, the Bush/Cheney campaign is really going after John Kerry. They're virtually ignoring John Edwards. But basically they're saying just what we heard from Ed Gillespie, that time and again he voted against the defense department, he voted against one major defense system after another, the MX Missile, the M-1 tank and so on and so on. Is Senator Kerry vulnerable on all this?
REP. NORM DICKS (D), WASHINGTON: I don't think he is at all. First of all, Judy, he was a volunteer in the Vietnam War. He won a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and had three Purple Hearts. He was there, defending our country.
Secondly, on his records, I went back and looked at it myself. He has voted for 16 of 19 defense appropriations bills, totalling over $4.4 trillion. Since George W. Bush has been president, he's voted for $1.1 trillion in defense spending. He's not weak on defense.
Now he has questioned programs like SDI. But all Democrats have. And even some thoughtful Republicans are concerned that this program isn't ready for prime time.
WOODRUFF: Well, Congressman, it's not just SDI. The Republicans list something like 13 different weapons systems that they say the record shows Senator Kerry voted against. The Patriot Missile, the B- 1 Bomber, the Trident Missile and on and on and on.
DICKS: But, Judy, what they did, he voted against one defense appropriations bill in '91, and which had funding for all of these items in it. They make it sound like he voted specifically against each one of these systems. That is not what happened.
And I think it's a distortion of his record. This is not something that I've ever seen done before, and it's inaccurate. And he's got a good record. He also has voted for the veterans.
And remember now, George Bush has got some answering to do, as well. When he ran for president, he said help is on the way. And he has not come forward with the $30 to $40 billion in procurement dollars that were expected from his administration.
WOODRUFF: I'm sorry. Are you saying that all these weapons systems were part of one defense appropriations bill in 1991?
DICKS: Yes, they were all in the bill. And then he voted against the bill on final passage. There were not amendments on each one of those items.
WOODRUFF: Why did he vote against it?
DICKS: He voted against it because at that time it was the end of the Cold War. George Bush 41 was president. Dick Cheney and Colin Powell were downsizing the military by one-third. And you can have a reasonable dispute, could we downsize it even further. So he voted against one bill.
But he's voted for 16 of 19. And he has said that now, with the country in a war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a global war on terrorism, he will support a strong defense budget. I asked him this just two weeks ago, when he was in the state of Washington. We went through the whole thing.
And so he has got a great record in the military. His record in the Senate is good. And people aren't going to judge this, Judy, on some vote on, you know, one vote here or there. They're going to look at the record. They're going to look at his commitment to veterans, and to our combat forces, and he will be there for our young men and women serving in the military.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about another vote. Today some Republican members of Congress, who themselves are veterans, point out -- they said, "Perhaps most disturbing, Senator Kerry, is your recent vote against the funds to support and protect our troops in Iraq, including funds for body armor, and armor for Humvees, and pay raises for the troops."
DICKS: I think what they're talking about is the Supplemental Appropriations Bill. And many people voted against that as a protest of the fact that the administration has failed to have an adequate plan for the post-combat operations. And it's the Bush administration that didn't have the sappy plates, that didn't have the armored Humvees that were necessary for the troops. They were the ones that didn't have any of that equipment.
And so I -- the senator voted against the supplemental, and I think he had good justification for it. He wanted to send a signal to the administration that they were disappointed in the post-combat efforts.
WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to have to leave it there. Congressman Norm Dicks, who has endorsed John Kerry for president. Congressman, thank you very much for talking with me.
DICKS: Nice to be with you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
Throughout this campaign, Senator John Edwards has been pulling off what you might call last-minute surges. But can he break through in any of the Super Tuesday states? I'll ask one of his campaign senior advisers when INSIDE POLITICS continues.
And later a new poll shows the presidential race this fall may be very tight in a key battleground state.
WOODRUFF: Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus making news today because they are demanding a meeting with President Bush about his administration's policy toward Haiti. Let's quickly go to our senior White House correspondent John King for the very latest on all this -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we are expecting about 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus here at the White House momentarily. Earlier today they said they would march on the White House and demand a meeting with the president. They are unhappy not only with President Bush, but with the United Nations, the international community, the Congressional Black Caucus not believing that the United States and others are being aggressive enough in trying to resolve the political crisis in Haiti.
What we are now told is that Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, has agreed to meet with those members of the Congressional Black Caucus at 4:30 this afternoon just a short time from now here at the White House. Mr. Bush is not scheduled to attend that meeting. Administration officials saying that Dr. Rice is more than happy and, in fact, eager to listen to any suggestions or any concerns or complaints from Congressional Black Caucus members.
Again, though the president earlier today, Judy, saying that he can envision an international security force in Haiti down the road a little bit. But the president also saying that there needs to be a political resolution of the conflict first. There are about 60 U.S. marines there providing security for the U.S. embassy right now. Administration officials saying they can envision at least at this point no additional U.S. military involvement, even if there is such an international security force. But members of the Black Caucus who have had strained relations with this administration throughout the Bush presidency will be here in just a little bit, Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, John King, thank you very much. Again, members of the Congressional Black Caucus demanding a meeting with the president. Not getting that but as John said they will be meeting with the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
No matter which -- INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: No matter which Super Tuesday poll John Edwards looks at he is running behind John Kerry and there isn't much time left to close the gap. Joining me from Chicago is David Axelrod. He's a senior strategist with the Edwards campaign. David Axelrod, first of all, if you look at these polls out here in California, in one of them John Kerry running something like 40 points ahead of your candidate. Is John Edwards wasting his time to even campaign here today?
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR STRATEGIST, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN: I don't think so, Judy. If we'd listened to the polls we would have been out of this race about 100 times dating back to last July. In Wisconsin on the Friday before the Wisconsin primary we were 37 points behind, and that closed to 5-6 points by the day of the primary. The fact is, everywhere Senator Edwards goes, he inspires people. He draws enthusiastic crowds. And he leaves behind him waves of support. And he builds support. And that's what's going to happen in California, that's what's happening in Ohio, and Georgia. In Georgia, the latest poll has a seven-point gap where it was a 40-point gap just a few days ago. There's enormous movement going on out there. And we're encouraged by what we see.
WOODRUFF: Well, he may be inspiring people, and exciting them, but John Kerry's the one who's won something like 19 out of 21 contests.
WOODRUFF: Doesn't Senator Edwards have to win a number of these states on Tuesday to have a prayer of catching up with Senator Kerry and the delegates?
AXELROD: Well, I think we will win a number of these states on Tuesday. I think we've said all along that we wanted to get this down to a one-on-one race and had we had that, of course, we would have won a number of primaries earlier. Senator Kerry has benefited from a divided field. Now we have essentially a one-on-one race and we're going to benefit from that on Tuesday and we will win some states. We're going to move on the following week to Texas and Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. We expect to do very well in those states. So we think there's a long way to go in this process.
WOODRUFF: David Axelrod, this week some of the reporters who are following John Edwards on the campaign trail described him as stumbling over some questions on foreign policy, in particular one over a trade issue between the United States and the European Union. He said he didn't know about this particular dispute. You know, some analysts are saying this simply highlights Senator Edwards' lack of experience in foreign affairs. Isn't this a problem for him?
AXELROD: I don't think it's a problem -- first of all, I don't think that's the case. The fact is that he has met with editorial boards. He's been in dozens of debates. He's gone to 400, 500, I don't know how many hundreds of town hall meetings. He's answered every question that's asked of him and answered them in such a way that he's won the endorsement of newspapers across this country.
The fact that he -- that there was some sort of miscommunication on a question somewhere along the line in this long campaign does not mean anything of the sort. I think when people see Senator Edwards on the stage tomorrow night, in your debate, they'll see not just a well- informed candidate, but a person who really understands the issues from the standpoint of the American people, the economic issues, and has a view of the world that is sophisticated, and will lead us forward in a way the Bush administration hasn't.
WOODRUFF: Why do you think the Bush/Cheney campaign is all but ignoring John Edwards? They are directing all of their fire these days with news conferences, and everything else they've got, at John Kerry.
AXELROD: I think it's very interesting. I think the reality is they think by picking on John Kerry they can pick our nominee. That's not the way it's going to be. We have 75 percent of the delegates yet to be chosen here. And the Democratic voters aren't going to let George Bush and Dick Cheney decide who our nominee is going to be. They're going to make that decision. And it's going to begin on Tuesday.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, is John Edwards going to get Howard Dean's endorsement?
AXELROD: You'll have to ask Governor Dean that. I know that we as the candidate are really challenging the Washington establishment, not just the Republicans, but the entire way of business in Washington -- is done in Washington. We have an appeal to those voters and a lot of them are coming to us. We'd love to have his support. We would like to have everybody's support. I think we're in a better position to get his voters.
WOODRUFF: All right. David Axelrod, good to see you again.
AXELROD: Judy, thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thank you. A senior adviser to John Edwards. Speaking of whom, he's in California right now in Clairemont, talking right now to some reporters, answering a question about the gay marriage issue. Let's listen.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ...re-examine the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in our military. And we haven't done fundamental things like ending discrimination in the workplace nationwide. So I think there's a lot of work to be done on that front.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's legal similarity between civil unions and marriage in terms of the rights. Why not just call it marriage?
EDWARDS: My answer is the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...if civil rights is a federal issue why leave gay rights and gay marriage up to the states?
EDWARDS: Because I think it's something that should be decided by the states.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to San Francisco tomorrow (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
EDWARDS: Am I going to San Francisco to talk specifically about the issue of gay marriage? No, I'm going to San Francisco because we planned to go to San Francisco and have a rally there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the strategy for the remaining days here?
EDWARDS: Campaigning for people to hear my message of hope and optimism, change this country by somebody who's an outsider, and can bring the kind of change along with the people of California that the country desperately needs. What I've seen happen everywhere we've gone is there's been a powerful response and surge in the last few days before a primary takes place. I'm hopeful and expect that the same thing will happen here in California.
WOODRUFF: Senator John Edwards, talking to reporters in Clairemont, California, one of the three stops he's making this day in the Golden state. Before tomorrow night's debate here in Los Angeles.
Well, President Bush has made the state of Pennsylvania a priority since taking office. Up next, a new state poll shows where the president stands in a hypothetical matchup with the Democratic front-runner.
Also, Ralph Nader on the road in Texas. Why he says he can fill a political vacuum in the Lone Star state.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily." A new poll finds President Bush and John Kerry locked in a tight race in Pennsylvania. In a head-to-head matchup, Kerry leads Mr. Bush by one point. The president has visited Pennsylvania 25 times since he took office. Mr. Bush lost the state's 23 electoral votes to Al Gore by five percentage points.
Independent candidate Ralph Nader is in Texas, the state that could pose the biggest challenge to his efforts to get his name on November ballots. Nader plans multiple stops in Texas this week to publicize his need to collect some 66,000 signatures of state voters. Nader said yesterday that he plans to fill the void in Texas left by the Democrats. He says the party already has conceded the state to President Bush.
And Howard Dean is asking his internet donors to come through for him one more time. Dean sent an e-mail yesterday asking supporters for help retiring a $400,000 campaign debt. Dean had pledged that he would not let his campaign finish in the red. In his e-mail Dean calls the debt, quote, "a huge concern to me."
Well, from Internet requests to appeals to the beyond, up next, a psychic puts his powers to the test and offers his analysis of the November election.
WOODRUFF: Political predictions are a tricky business, we know. Even for people who make a living foreseeing the future. Since we're out here in California, we decided to consult a nontraditional source for the inside scoop on this year's presidential election.
WOODRUFF: Sometimes the search for truth leads one to a higher power. And sometimes even that higher power comes up short.
ANTHONY TERESI, PSYCHIC: The entire election is sort of psychically, if you will, sort of shrouded sort of in a mystery.
WOODRUFF: Anthony Teresi, psychic for 35 years, master astrologer, specialist in life patterns and potential. We found him at the Psychic Eye Bookshop in Sherman Oaks.
TERESI: The voters have not made up their mind yet. Right now it's pretty even and I don't care what the polls show. From what I'm seeing it's pretty even at this point.
WOODRUFF: Teresi predicts a Kerry/Edwards battle of mythic proportions.
TERESI: Both of them are going to have a hard time. This is not going to be a landslide by any stretch of the imagination.
WOODRUFF: But he does see a slight edge for Kerry.
TERESI: It does look to me as he does not come off as positive as he would hope but he does carry the day. That's what this card, the breakthrough card would show.
WOODRUFF: Even so the future looks bleak for the Boston Brahmin.
TERESI: Looking at all the charts it would be pretty hard to dislodge Bush.
WOODRUFF: But all is not lost for the Democrat if mystic forces work their charms.
TERESI: There is that space of time just before Halloween, it's quite possible that some major revelation regarding Bush at that particular point could come forth. Neptune, the planet of illusion and delusion goes, what we call, stationary direct at that point, and almost invariably that represents an influence, where whatever was deceptive or seemed to be illusory if you will, turns out to come sort of careening into the moment in terms of the harsh reality of that.
WOODRUFF: In our business, Mr. Teresi, we call it an October surprise.
WOODRUFF: So, Democrats take heart. If Neptune goes stationary direct you've got an opening. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join me again tomorrow right here in Los Angeles. I'll be live from the site of the CNN/"Los Angeles Times" Democratic presidential debate. You can watch that debate right here on CNN tomorrow night at 9:00 Easter, 6:00 Pacific. Have a good night. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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