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Bush Ad Backlash; Team Kerry: The Inner Circle

Aired March 4, 2004 - 15:30   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll leave no doubt where we stand, and we will win on the 2nd of November.

ANNOUNCER: Is the President on shaky political ground? We'll explore the stands and the stumbles that brought him where he is today.

The Bush ad blitz: is it backfiring with Americans hit hardest by the 9/11 attacks?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And the team captain, John Kerry.

ANNOUNCER: Team Kerry, the inner circle. We'll profile the candidate's closest advisers and discuss their tough decisions ahead.



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

In California this hour, President Bush is expected to raise another $700,000 for his campaign. Still, more money to fund his political swings around the country. Not to mention those expensive TV commercials.

Bush campaign officials now say they are spending in the $10 million range on their first ad buy, which begins airing nationwide today. That is more than double the price tag originally reported. As it turns out, though, the ads may cost the President in another way, the sponsor being seized on by critics who accuse Mr. Bush of using the September 11 attacks for political gain.


NARRATOR: The last few years have tested America in many ways. Some challenges we've seen before. And some were like no others.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Two of the New Bush campaign ads include brief images of the World Trade Center ruins, and of firefighters. That's not sitting well with some firefighters, and relatives of 9/11 victims. PATTY CACAZZA, WIDOW OF 9/11 VICTIM: I find it offensive that he's used 9/11 as a pretext for re-election. I feel, when I see images of 9/11, that 9/11 was a failure of this President to act.

HARRY SCHAITBERGER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS: I'm beyond disappointed. You know, I think it's absolutely disgraceful and disgusting that the campaign would use the images of firefighters, and the horrific events of 9/11, for political purposes, particularly in the face of an administration that's failed the nation's firefighters on so many counts.

WOODRUFF: The Bush camp disagrees.

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I think it's very tasteful. It's a reminder of our shared experience as a nation. I mean, September 11 is not just some distant tragedy from the past. It really defined our future.

WOODRUFF: Some wonder if the criticism of the Bush ads is driven at least in part by the Democrats. They note that the International Association of Firefighters is backing John Kerry's White House bid. But according to published reports, 9/11 family members publicly questioning the president's motives include Republicans and Independents, as well as Democrats.

David Gergen, a former adviser to both Democratic and Republican presidents, says he thinks it is fair for the Bush campaign to highlight the president's leadership after 9/11. But, he warns Republicans need to tread carefully.

DAVID GERGEN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: You've got a convention coming up in New York. Very close to ground zero. Well, a lot of firemen, a lot of policemen around. They've got to salute, but they have to be careful not to exploit. And it's a fine line.


WOODRUFF: So look for continued controversy about the president's use of 9/11 in those campaign ads as we get closer to the Republican Convention in New York City, which is just days before the third anniversary of the terror attacks. But we also want to note that many 9/11 families apparently support the President, and apparently are comfortable with his New ad campaign. The New York Post quotes one woman who lost her brother in the attacks as saying that the ad is "tastefully done," and "speaks to the truth of the times."

Well before those ads debuted, the Bush camp was taking flak from several corners. And as our senior political analyst Bill Schneider explains, that flak and some self-imposed wounds have taken a toll on the incumbent.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): As the general election campaign starts, where do we find President Bush? In a bit of a hole. The president's job rating has slipped below 50 percent.

Is it because he's taken months of pounding from Democrats? Sure. But the President has also tried to regain the initiative. So far, without much success. President Bush proposed a big initiative on space exploration.

BUSH: Today, I announce a New plan to explore space and extend a human presence across our solar system.

SCHNEIDER: But it never took off. Then there was his immigration reform proposal.

BUSH: Out of common sense and fairness, our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling.

SCHNEIDER: Another non-starter. Republicans are complaining that it gives temporary amnesty to lawbreakers, while Democrats say it plays into the hands of big business. Then there was this initiative...

BUSH: The Defense of Marriage requires a constitutional amendment.

SCHNEIDER: That stirred up a hornet's nest. Many people who oppose same-sex marriage resist the notion of amending the Constitution.

President Bush had his chance to grab the spotlight when he delivered the State of the Union Address in January. But critics complained he didn't do much with it. Here's an example.

BUSH: So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.

SCHNEIDER: Nor was there much payoff from his hour-long interview on NBC News "Meet the Press" last month.

BUSH: And in my judgment, when the United States says there will be serious consequences, and if there isn't serious consequences, it creates adverse consequences.

SCHNEIDER: Now the Democrats have their campaign. As of the end of last week, John Kerry and George Bush were in a dead heat. Add John Edwards to the Democratic ticket as Kerry's running mate, and the Bush-Cheney ticket is running behind.

Now President Bush is fighting back with his multi-million-dollar ad campaign. But the use of September 11 imagery in those ads is stirring up controversy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: President Bush's ads are not sounding the Reagan 1984 theme, "Morning in America." Instead, they talk about tough times and steady leadership, which is more like Reagan's 1982 theme when the economy was bad and the Republicans were in trouble: "Stay the Course."

WOODRUFF: Some of us remember that.


WOODRUFF: More than 20 years ago. OK. Bill, thank you very much.

Well, John Kerry is back home in Boston today with plenty of strategic decisions to make now that he is the all but certain Democratic nominee. On the financial front, the Kerry camp reports an online fund-raising boom, taking in more than $2 million via the Internet since the polls closed on Super Tuesday. As for Kerry's travel schedule, he will still visit primary states, but with the general election contest in mind.

He heads to New Orleans tomorrow, four days before Louisiana's primary. Saturday, it's on to Texas, with stops in Houston and San Antonio. President Bush's home state also holds its primary on Tuesday.

Well, let's talk more now about the state of the Kerry campaign with Paul Farhi of The Washington Post.

Hello, Paul, and thank you for being with me.


WOODRUFF: First of all, what are the main decisions, the most immediate decisions facing the Kerry camp right now?

FARHI: Well, obviously his choice of a vice presidential nominee is the big one. It could go on for some weeks, if not months, before we actually know what that decision is going to be. But there are literally dozens of big decisions he's got. One, is how to spend the money he brings in and how to get the money that he's going to spend.

WOODRUFF: What about this $10 million ad buy? We now learned the Bush-Cheney camp spending that much money on this initial TV ad buy. The Kerry camp shrugging their shoulders and saying there's not much we can do. How do they respond to this?

FARHI: Well, they're in some ways relying on surrogates to counter President Bush's big fund-raising advantage and his big advertising advantage right now. There's a couple of organizations that are associated with the Democrats that will also be advertising in some of the states that President Bush is in. And the Kerry campaign is actually sort of sitting back, trying to figure out its move while these other surrogates are on the air countering President Bush. WOODRUFF: How much are they going to be counting, Paul, on the so-called 527s, these independent groups? We know there's some rule- making going on at the Federal Election Commission that may affect those. But in the meantime, is the Kerry campaign counting on that to bolster the money they have?

FARHI: Yes, counting is probably a legally dicey phrase. They are not by law allowed to coordinate with each other. That is to say, the 527s with the Kerry campaign. But, in as much as Kerry is now on a bit of a holding pattern in terms of its fund-raising, in terms of its ad spending, it has no other choice but to look for these organizations to at least, you know, level the playing field a bit with President Bush.

WOODRUFF: You mentioned the vice presidential selection process. Are you hearing anything, Paul, about how long this thing could take? Is this something that they're likely to draw out, to drag out until the convention in late July? Or is it something they might do sooner?

FARHI: Well, there's a couple of ways to look at that, Judy. I think that if you let it drag out to the convention, you create a certain amount of mystery, a certain amount of media attention that would otherwise go away if you went and selected it within the next few weeks. So that might be a good thing.

Also, waiting for the convention has the advantage of keeping the potential vice presidential nominees on your side, and involved and engaged in your campaign. So, I think that it is probably likely that we will not learn who the nominee is for vice President until the convention in July in Boston.

WOODRUFF: You know, I've heard so many names. My only question, I guess, that I can think of to ask you is, has anybody been ruled out yet that you know of?

FARHI: Well, I am most intrigued by the name Clinton that keeps coming up.


FARHI: I don't think it's a realistic possibility, but certainly an intriguing possibility. But you're right, so many senators and so many governors on the Democratic side have been put into play that it's really hard to make head or tails of which one is really ahead.

WOODRUFF: OK. Paul Farhi, with The Washington Post. He's been following the John Kerry campaign. Paul, thank you very much.

FARHI: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of that vice presidential search, and speaking of the Clintons, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn't sound as if she's lobbying for the job, but she did not entirely rule out the possibility of being John Kerry's running mate during an interview right here on CNN last night.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, that is totally up to the nominee. And I don't think I would ever be offered. I don't think I would accept. Obviously, I want to do everything I can to see John Kerry elected President.

LOU DOBBS, CNN "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: Do you think you would be helpful in that role as a vice presidential candidate?

CLINTON: I think I could be helpful in my role as senator.


WOODRUFF: Senator Clinton obviously talking to our own Lou Dobbs. She does say, as a senator, she can help people focus on John Kerry's strengths and on President Bush's weaknesses, she says.

Well, just as Hillary Clinton often advised her husband, who does John Kerry turn to as a sounding board? Up next, the friends, loved ones and officials in John Kerry's kitchen cabinet.

Plus, is it pie in the sky for Democrats? We'll look at the flap over the so-called 527 political groups and who is trying to bring them down.

And later, as New York gays and lesbians press for the right to get married, are Republicans anxious about the president's stand on this issue?


WOODRUFF: As John Kerry steps into the political spotlight, he brings with him an inner circle of key advisers. CNN's Jeanne Meserve has more on the team offering advice to the all but certain Democratic nominee.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After his avalanche of wins on Super Tuesday, John Kerry extends to voters and advisers a thank you.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To all of those in public life who took risks, joined this campaign early, hung in when it was tough, and stayed with us today...

MESERVE: Among Kerry's closest confidants, his wife, Teresa, with whom he talks policy and politics, and his younger brother Cameron, an attorney. Though Cameron is described as Kerry's closest friend, longtime associates say it is unlikely he'd play a formal role in any Kerry administration.

STEVE GROSSMAN, FMR. DEAN CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Cam is intelligent, he's thoughtful, he's cool under pressure. He is someone that John is immensely comfortable with. MESERVE: Kerry's cadre of longtime Boston political operatives plot out strategy and tactics with Bob Shrum. The objective, to counter and beat Karl Rove and the White House political machine.

KENNEDY: John Kerry, let's hear it for him.

MESERVE: Ted Kennedy advises Kerry on some key issues, and his former chief of staff, Mary Beth Cahill, who worked in the Clinton White House, is now Kerry's highly influential campaign manager. Credited with halting Kerry camp infighting, Cahill's presence is felt in every moment of the campaign, says one observer.

According to those who know Kerry, he likes to play devil's advocate, soliciting a wide array of opinions on issues from, among others, players in the Clinton administration. Former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman has led an economic advisory group, for example. Gene Sperling, Clinton's chief economic adviser also plays a part. He counseled John Edwards, as well as Kerry, as did Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security adviser.

SANDY BERGER, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And the issues might range from Iraq to Pakistan, the Middle East, to international trade, whatever they would like some outside judgment on.

MESERVE: Though Kerry is familiar with many of these issues through years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is also consulting with Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations, and Rand Beers, a former State Department official who advised President Bush on terrorism.

(on camera): Most Kerry advisers say their overriding goal is to elect a Democrat. But some will admit if that ultimately means they can serve a Democrat, let's say in a cabinet role, that would be all right, too.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: If the Democrats are so far behind the president in fund-raising, who is paying for some of the anti-Bush commercials we've been seeing since January? Coming up, the big political fight over organizations that go by the obscure name of 527.


WOODRUFF: A high-stakes battle is being played out behind the scenes here in Washington today. The Federal Election Commission is beginning to consider a set of new rules to clamp down on so-called 527 organizations. They get their name from Section 527 of the tax code, which applies to groups whose main purpose is to influence federal election.

Right now, such organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. If that sounds like the old definition of soft money, you are right. Critics say that 527s are major loopholes in campaign finance reform efforts.

Liberal-leaning 527 groups, like, have become a major source of funding for ads attacking President Bush. A coalition of Republicans and campaign finance reformers is supporting FEC efforts to bring those 527s under the limits of the McCain-Feingold law.

With me now here in Washington, are Fred Wertheimer. He's the president of And Democratic attorney Bob Bauer.

First of all, before we go any further, Fred Wertheimer, in a nutnutshell, did I get the definition of 527s right?

FRED WERTHEIMER, PRESIDENT, DEMOCRACY21.ORG: You did as far as I'm concerned. And the point we make is a simple one.

We believe that the campaign finance laws have long required political groups whose major purpose is to influence federal elections to register under federal campaign finance laws and be subject to federal campaign finance rules. And that's what we're arguing here.

WOODRUFF: So Bob Bauer, why shouldn't these 527s abide by the same rules that all other political groups have to abide by?

BOB BAUER, DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN FINANCE ATTORNEY: Well, they currently are clearly complying with the law. What we have here is a Republican-initiated effort to place restrictions on groups that are attempting to criticize this administration's record.

This originated with a partisan attack. It's now being carried along unfortunately by the desire of reform loops to expand the regulatory domain. But this is at bottom an Ed Gillespie initiative, and the purpose is precisely what your intro suggests, to stop groups from criticizing President Bush.

WOODRUFF: Now Fred, you're not in cahoots with Ed Gillespie?

WERTHEIMER: Well, that's not our purpose. We have had nothing to do with Ed Gillespie. And I would point out that, while Bob is correct...

WOODRUFF: He's the chairman of the Republican Party.

WERTHEIMER: That's right. He's correct that they've been active on this. They were opponents of the campaign finance law, and our interests aren't necessarily the same as theirs.

Our interests have to do with having campaign finance laws complied with by all groups who are conducting election activities. And this isn't a question of McCain-Feingold law. This is long- standing campaign finance laws, in our view, that require these groups to register and function under federal law.

WOODRUFF: Why shouldn't they function, as Fred Wertheimer says, under federal law?

BAUER: Well, Judy, what Fred doesn't mention, and what the commissioners themselves acknowledge, is that they're looking at changing the law. This is a rule making to change the law that's currently in place, that all of these groups are currently complying with. What Fred also doesn't mention is that the groups affected here include 501C organizations...

WOODRUFF: Charitable organizations.

BAUER: Charitable organizations, organizations engaged in advocacy on progressive issues which now stand to be restricted by the federal government and prevented from criticizing this administration on public policy.


WOODRUFF: Is that what could happen, Fred Wertheimer?

WERTHEIMER: Not in my view. And we share the same view as Bob on the 501C charity groups. We don't think the FEC has authority to deal with them in this regulation, and they won't.

But we're not talking about changing the law here. The FEC can't change laws. All they can do is properly administer and enforce them. That's what's at stake here.

WOODRUFF: Let me get back to the original question, Bob Bauer. What is it about these groups that should allow them to raise unlimited amounts of money?

BAUER: Many of these groups are simply seeking to speak out on policy, and they're seeking to criticize the president in his capacity as a federal-elected official. The attempt of this exercise now before the FEC is to place restrictions on how much money they can raise and spend for that purpose.

WOODRUFF: But you're saying they should do that why, for freedom -- because of freedom of speech?

BAUER: Well, because generally speaking, in this country for years we've been permitted freely to criticize the president of the United States.


WOODRUFF: Well let's stick to that point, Fred Wertheimer. If that's all they're doing, what's wrong with that?

WERTHEIMER: Well, it's not all they're doing. These are not issue groups. You gave the definition at the beginning. These are campaign groups, and campaign groups are traditionally covered by campaign finance laws.

WOODRUFF: But they're not affiliated with a campaign, right?

WERTHEIMER: That doesn't matter. Campaign finance groups, even independent, if they're major purpose is to influence federal elections, they're covered by federal campaign finance laws. WOODRUFF: What about that?

BAUER: So there you hear it. That if, in fact, someone criticizes the president of the United States, that has an effect on a campaign, the federal government ought to be able to limit and regulate it. And that's an astonishing proposition in this country.

WERTHEIMER: That's not the proposition.

BAUER: It's an astonishing proposition.

WERTHEIMER: That's not the proposition.

BAUER: But that is the proposition, because they're not controlled by candidates. They're not calling for their election or defeat. They're simply speaking out on issues. And that may well move voters, but that's as it should be.

WERTHEIMER: You represent one of the major -- your firm represents Act (ph), one of the major campaign finance groups here. You have registered as a federal political committee. So you're representing an independent group that already has registered.

This is not about restricting speech. This is about everyone playing by the same set of campaign finance rules. These are not situational rules.

WOODRUFF: All right. What about that very point?

BAUER: Well, I'm surprised -- very, very simple. There's a reason why the Republicans want the rules changed. There's a reason why the FEC is putting out new rules. Because they want to restrict and silence groups that are seeking to attack this administration on policy, the Republican policies.

WERTHEIMER: We have no interest in that. All we're trying to do is have the campaign finance rules work to protect the American people.

WOODRUFF: Fred Wertheimer speaking for Democracy21. Bob Bauer speaking as a Washington attorney representing one of these 527s.

BAUER: And a number of others, yes.

WOODRUFF: And others.

Gentlemen, it's good to see you both. We don't expect a rule on this maybe until the end of May. So...

WERTHEIMER: Well, we'll be back.

BAUER: And hopefully never (ph).

WOODRUFF: We'll see where it goes. Gentlemen, thank you.

Some recent comments by a Republican congressman were meant to support President Bush. Coming up, why Oklahoma Representative Tom Coles' remarks may also end up causing controversy. We'll ask him about what he said.

Also, I'll talk with one of the people credited with helping turn around the Kerry campaign, former New Hampshire governor and Kerry campaign chairwoman, Jean Shaheen.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The political debate over gay marriage is front and center today in America's biggest city. As demonstrations for and against same-sex unions spread across the nation. In New York hundreds of guys and lesbians rally for the right to marry. About 40 couples lined up in the rain outside the city -- city clerk's office in order to demand marriage licenses. But they were turned away with a letter explaining same-sex unions are illegal.

Meantime, in Boston tonight, a group called Mass Equality begins airing the first TV ads opposing a proposed gay marriage ban in Massachusetts. All this may be making political life more complicated for Republicans. And for a president who has taken a firm stance in this debate.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we're to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's been a week since the president weighed in. Since then...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I now pronounce you spouses for life.

WOODRUFF: Hundreds of gay couples across the country have tied the knot.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has no right to misuse the most precious document in our history in an effort to divide this nation.

WOODRUFF: The Democratic opposition has hurled criticism while traditional Bush loyalists have backed up the president's call.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Serious people have reluctantly recognized that an amendment may be the only way to ensure survival of traditional marriage in America.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: When you have activist judges radically redefining what marriage means, and what the law spells out, we're going to act.

WOODRUFF: But other prominent Republicans are not rushing to embrace the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: Why, why, why are we going to take on the challenge of forbidding two people who love each other from getting married and going to the extraordinary lengths of amending our constitution?

WOODRUFF: More conservative GOP lawmakers are treading gingerly. Senate judiciary chairman Orrin Hatch has indicated he'd leave the definition of marriage to the individual states. Senator George Allen of Virginia no liberal he, demurs, reserving judgment and saying, "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. We must treat everyone during this important debate with dignity and respect while continuing to hold to our principles."

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": This gay marriage thing, what's your position on this? How do you deal with this? What do you do?


LENO: Seriously. No, I'm not trying to ask you.

WOODRUFF: And popular California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared he sees no need for a constitutional amendment. A sentiment echoed by the top Republicans in New York, which will host this summer's GOP convention. So where does this leave the president? Polls show his party overwhelmingly supports the proposed amendment. But Americans as a whole are divided. And for some prominent Republicans, that is serious cause for concern.


WOODRUFF: Well, many Californians may be involved in the gay marriage debate, but President Bush is sticking to other topics during campaign appearances in the Golden state today. Let's check in now with our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, President Bush in Santa Clara, California right now. That's where he's attending a fund-raiser expected to raise $700,000. This means in the last 48 hours in California he'll make a cool $1.5 million for his campaign. This makes the eleventh time the president has visited California. A -- very important for his campaign as you imagine. This is something where the Republicans, while they concede they don't think they're actually going to win without a lot of work, he was behind eleven percentage points to Gore back in 2000, but with Republican governor they certainly hope that at least they'll be competitive there.

Now as you know, the last 24, 48 hours President Bush really jumpstarting his campaign, taking on Senator Kerry by name. Essentially characterizing him as someone who is a waffler, weak on national security, aimed at expanding the government, and at the same time undoing the progress on the economy by raising taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: I told him I was looking forward to a spirited campaign. I congratulated him on his victory. This should be an interesting debate on the issues. He spent two decades in Congress. He's built up quite a record. In fact, Senator Kerry's been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.

MALVEAUX: And this comes at the same time that you have this huge advertising blitz. We're talking about $10 million worth of advertising. At least 17 of those battleground states, so Americans are going to be seeing these Bush ads. They are positive in nature. They talk about the president's record. We expect the next wave of ads are going to be contrast ads, a bit more negative, pitting Kerry against President Bush.

WOODRUFF: Suzanne, what are they saying at the White House about this criticism that has emerged about the ads? On the one hand you have some of the families of the 9/11 survivors saying, accusing the campaign of taking political advantage of what happened with those pictures of the Twin Towers collapsing. You also have the firefighters coming out and being critical. What are they saying?

SUZANNE: Certainly it's a very controversial issue. What Bush aides are saying, those in the campaign, is that essentially that they are not flinching here and they're not apologizing for it. They say that they're being sensitive to people's needs, particularly the victims, but they say that you can't talk about the president's record without referring to 9/11. That it was really pivotal in his presidency. That it really shaped his policy. And it really illustrates his leadership. It is not something that they're going to back away from. But they certainly are quite sensitive to some of the feelings that people have over this issue.

WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne Malveaux. She's reporting today from the White House. Thank you very much. Suzanne.

WOODRUFF: Well, with President Bush in full campaign mode, unofficial Democratic nominee John Kerry has his work cut out for him. We're joined now by the Kerry campaign chairwoman, and former governor of the state of New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen. Governor, thank you very much for being with us.


WOODRUFF: Governor, what about this new $10 million ad buy on the part of the Kerry -- I'm sorry the Bush/Cheney campaign? Building up the president's record in office over the last 3 1/2 years. Doesn't that, to some degree, intimidate the Kerry campaign with a whole lot less money?

SHAHEEN: Well, all the money in the world isn't going to rewrite history, even though the president would like to do that. The fact is, what we've seen under the Bush administration is over 3 million jobs lost, we've got 41 million people without health care. George Bush has no plan to correct that. He's taken the biggest surpluses in this country's history and turned them into the biggest deficits in history. We have lost confidence among our allies, and other countries around the world. That's the legacy of the Bush administration.

WOODRUFF: Well, at the same time, Governor, we just heard President Bush in that report from Suzanne Malveaux. He's out on the West Coast. And here's what he said to an audience laughing. He said, "Senator Kerry's built up quite a record. In fact he's been in Washington long enough to have taken both sides on just about every issue."

SHAHEEN: Well, certainly they want to try and characterize John Kerry's long record, because they don't want to talk about their own record. They don't want to talk about the number of jobs lost, the number of manufacturing jobs is about 2.8 million. And they have no plan to turn that around. They have no plan to address the high cost of health care, and to make it more accessible to people. They have shortchanged funding that we need for homeland security. It's the victim, the families of the victims of September 11, the firefighters who are being exploited in those ads who have raised concerns about the ads, and about the use of a real tragedy in this country for political gain.

WOODRUFF: Governor, let me ask you about what we've been hearing out of the Kerry campaign in the last day or so. That is, a desire to move in to assert control over the Democratic National Committee. Is Senator Kerry and the people around him unhappy with Terry McAuliffe, the chairman?

SHAHEEN: No. I think what always happens in a presidential election year is that the nominee of the party works very closely with the Democratic National Committee and we would expect to do that this year, as well.

WOODRUFF: But as you know, reporters are being told anonymously, but by people right there on the Kerry staff that they're not happy with Terry McAuliffe, that he shouldn't have accused President Bush of having been AWOL in the National Guard and so forth. I mean, those comments are being made to reporters.

SHAHEEN: Well, those are not comments that I've heard. And you know, there's a lot that appears in print in an election year, that appears on television, and we're -- we're interested in working closely with the Democratic National Committee, and with all of the Democrats who are going to be appearing on the ticket.

WOODRUFF: So you expect Terry McAuliffe will stay where he is?

SHAHEEN: I would expect Terry McAuliffe to stay where he is.

WOODRUFF: OK. Well Jeanne Shaheen, a voice of authority. We were going to talk about a running mate, but we've got plenty of time to do that. I assume it's not going to happen in the next day or two.

Jeanne Shaheen who herself was on Al Gore's short list back in 2000. Governor Shaheen, thanks very much.

SHAHEEN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Coming up, an Oklahoma Republican congressman raises eyebrows with some comments about the upcoming election. He's going to join me to explain.

And Bob Novak has paid a visit to John Edwards' state of North Carolina and found some interesting buzz among the Tar Heel people.

And later, New York's mayor goes on television all the time. But never like this.


WOODRUFF: Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole says that local news reporters mischaracterized his recent comments about how the world would respond if President Bush is defeated in November.

In a speech to a group of home state Republicans, Cole said, quote, " I promise you this: if George Bush loses the election, Osama bib Laden wins the election. It's that simple. It will be interpreted that way by enemies of the United States around the world."

The Congressman went on to say, quote, "What do you think Hitler would have thought if Roosevelt would have lost the election in 1944? He would have thought American resolve was weakening."

Last hour, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Matsui called on President Bush to repudiate the congressman's remarks. Matsui also said that Cole should apologize to Senator Kerry. And quote, "the millions of Americans whose patriotism he has impugned."

Representative Tom Cole joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, I want to ask you about what you did say. You said, " I promise this: if George Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election." What are you saying about John Kerry with that statement?

REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: I'm not saying a thing at all about John Kerry, a person, frankly, whom I respect, but disagree with quite profoundly.

What I am saying is that at a time of war, if our commander in chief is defeated in election, our adversaries will regard that as a triumph. And I think without question, George Bush, who's led decisively, ably and, frankly, quite aggressively during this confrontation with terror, is somebody that Osama bin Laden does not want to see reelected.

WOODRUFF: Well if you follow that argument to its conclusion, you would say we shouldn't have an election...

COLE: No, not at all. We had an election in 1944. We had an election in 1864. But I think it would have been fair to say in 1864, "If Lincoln loses the election, Jefferson Davis is going to be a happy guy." And I think it would have been fair to say in 1944, had Roosevelt, who laid down the Doctrine of Unconditional Surrender, lost the election it would have been interpreted by the Germans and Japanese as a good thing, not a bad thing.

WOODRUFF: So when you said, "What do you think Hitler would have thought if Roosevelt would have lost?", I mean essentially you're saying al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden would be pleased, would take heart if George Bush were to lose?

COLE: Oh, I think without question they would take heart. It's been George Bush who's been at the forefront of protecting our country, waging an aggressive war against al Qaeda. He's visited war upon the enemy, instead of allow them to visit it upon us. I think he's been an absolutely brilliant and steadfast leader at a time of great crisis.

So I have no doubt that our enemies, particularly al Qaeda, would like to see him out of office.

WOODRUFF: In other words, again, it's OK to have an election but it's not OK to reconsider...

COLE: It's always OK. The American people make that judgment. That's why we have elections. We had -- we're the first country in the world to have an election during the middle of a civil war on our own soil.

WOODRUFF: So you don't believe you owe anybody an apology?

COLE: Absolutely not. Frankly I think the president is owned an apology to the pounding he's gotten in the course of this. There's a little bit of, I think, of sort of trying to change the subject because Democrats I think have been absolutely brutal to the president in the course of his campaign.

His service to the country has been questioned. His leadership's been questioned. People have said he lied about things to the American people, misled them into war, manipulated them. Anybody deserves to be apologized to it's George Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right. Congressman Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma.

COLE: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

COLE: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: Stay with us for the latest on some possible No. 2s for the Democratic ticket. It's not that they are hard to find. Coming up, thoughts about 2004 from Bob Graham. And about 2008 from the wife of senator John Edwards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: We lead today's "Campaign News Daily" with new insight into the Bush/Cheney campaign strategy. Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes commented yesterday on what she considers John Kerry's biggest vulnerability, specific votes during his long Senate career.


KAREN HUGHES, BUSH ADVISER: I think that the real area of his voting record that is most vulnerable at a time when our nation is at war is the fact that he has voted against consistently so many defense funding measures, so many of the defense weapons, and the intelligence agency that we are relying on to protect us from further terror attacks.

I think that's the area where he is most vulnerable on his record.


WOODRUFF: Florida Senator Bob Graham is often mentioned as a possible running mate for John Kerry and Graham says he would be confident taking on Vice President Dick Cheney. Graham introduced Kerry in Orlando yesterday, and later he told "The Miami Herald" he would be a very successful -- he would be successful in a one-on-one debate with Cheney. Referring to the vice president, Graham used a frequent line in John Kerry's speeches. Quote, "I would say, 'bring him on.'"

Well John Edwards may be out of the 2004 race for president, but his White House dreams may not be over. John and Elizabeth Edwards chatted with reporters at a restaurant last evening in Raleigh. At one point Mrs. Edwards revealed, with a smile, that the couple's hotel room in Atlanta this week was room number 2008. A sign of campaigns to come, perhaps?

Bob Novak joins us now from the "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University with some "Inside Buzz."

All right, Bob, you were in Raleigh for John Edwards' big withdrawal speech yesterday. What did you pick up?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I found an amazing comeback in his home state by the senator. When he dropped out of his race for reelection to the Senate, his presidential race seemed to be going nowhere several weeks ago, he looked like he was dead in his home state.

Now, I am told that he has made such a comeback that he would win in a landslide if he were to get back in the race. It's still technically possible for him to do that. He wouldn't do that to the Democratic candidate Erskine Bowles. But there's one poll that shows him beating George Bush in North Carolina and that's a good ticket to come to the table with if he wants to be vice president.

WOODRUFF: Makes you wonder what he's going to do. Well, we'll see. All right, big issues right, Bob, now in North Carolina. Trade and job loss. What are you hearing?

NOVAK: That is the biggest issue, and protectionist sentiment is running very high. Erskine Bowles, former White House Clinton chief of staff, a free trader if there was one, has completely changed. He is now taking the protectionist line. And the Republican, Congressman Richard Brewer, id a free trader, voted for Fast Track and all those other proposals.

Republicans are really worried because of that issue. A lot of the big business and mill owners have turned against the Republicans. And the president has to run very well to carry in that Senate race. They're worried about the Senate race in North Carolina right now, the Republicans are.

WOODRUFF: Bob, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, I just asked Jeanne Shaheen if the Kerry campaign if Senator Kerry's going to get rid of him. She says no. She thinks he'll stay in the job. But what are you picking up?

NOVAK: I'm picking up that there's no love lost between him and Senator Kerry. When Senator Kerry said it was time to stop ragging President Bush about the so-called AWOL National Guard issue, Senator (sic) McAuliffe said he would say what he wanted to say.

Those days are over for Terry McAuliffe. I am told that the -- he's going to stay as national chairman, but that the Kerry people want him to modify what he says, and that bow to the Kerry line. There's a new boss in the Democratic Party today.

WOODRUFF: Starting to sound that way.

Finally, a fund raiser for none other than a Republican senator from the state of Indiana. What are you hearing?

NOVAK: Richard Lugar, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I like to keep track of these fund raisers, as you know, Judy.

They're having one March 29 at the Hotel George on Capitol Hill. Very tony place, as you know. You can get in for $1,000 a person. If you want to bring your wife, $2,000.

But the real interesting thing is that Richard Fisher, a Dallas financier, big Democrat, appointee of President Clinton, and he ran for the Senate against Kay Bailey Hutchison in 1994, he is running this -- this fund raiser for his friend Dick Lugar.

You know friendships sometimes pervade ideology and partisanship in Washington and in politics.

WOODRUFF: Do you find that to be the case?

NOVAK: Sometimes.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bob Novak. We'll be watching you on "CROSSFIRE" at 4:30. Thanks very much, 4:30 Eastern.

Well, New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg is of course the head of the city. Now he gets to play one on television. The Big Apple's political leader tries his hand at acting when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets to play a role knows well in upcoming episodes of "Law & Order." Bloomberg plays himself in scenes for the TV show that were taped yesterday at city hall.

Cast member and former Senator Fred Thompson told "The New York Daily News" that the mayor did a great job. I wonder if his job's in jeopardy?

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


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