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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Iraqi Prisoner Abuse: Outrage on the Hill; President Bush and the Iraqi Abuse Scandal; Interview With Congresswoman Jane Harman
Aired May 4, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Bipartisan anger about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Members of the Senate demand answers.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We have a great sense of revulsion.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This is really egregious.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I'm greatly concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The implications are so great.
ANNOUNCER: Ohio's snapshots: we focus a key county in a showdown state to find out what voters are talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unemployment, the economy, the economy, the economy.
ANNOUNCER: Pastors and politics: a conversation about religious leaders preaching the election-year gospel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote for a man who is exercising his faith versus one who isn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faith and politics have to remain separate.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.
Well, you'd have to look long and hard here in Washington to find a public official who sounds anything but appalled that some U.S. troops abused Iraqi prisoners. But a number of lawmakers seem almost equally disturbed that the Pentagon was initially silent about the allegations. Our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, has more on the concerns on the Hill and the call for public hearings.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator John McCain took direct aim at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
MCCAIN: The Congress should have been notified of this situation a long time ago. It's a neglect of the responsibilities that Secretary Rumsfeld and the civilian leaders of the Pentagon have to keep the Congress informed of an issue of this magnitude.
HENRY: McCain and several colleagues demanded that the Pentagon chief testify as soon as possible in public. Even one of the administration's staunchest allies, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, said the Pentagon had not been forthcoming. Flanked by Army officials, Warner repeatedly said the problem with the military civilian leadership, a clear rebuke of Rumsfeld..
WARNER: I am greatly concerned about this situation. I have been privileged to be associated with the military for over a half century, and on this committee for 25 years now. And this is as serious problem, a breakdown in discipline as I've ever observed.
HENRY: Rumsfeld did not respond directly to the criticism at a Pentagon briefing this afternoon, referring instead to a one-paragraph military press release issued in January.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We informed the world on January 16 that these investigations were under way. It seems to me that is a perfectly proper thing to do.
HENRY: Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle lashed out at the fact that Rumsfeld had briefed lawmakers on the situation in Iraq last Wednesday, hours before CBS aired the graphic photos, and never mentioned the abuse issue.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: They had an opportunity in over an hour's time to tell us, to come clean. And now we've learned that they've even asked CBS to delay for a couple of weeks the release of this information. I think that is inexcusable, it's an outrage, it's wrong, and some sort of explanation is warranted.
HENRY: Judy, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay also expressed concern that the Pentagon did not bring Congress into the loop sooner, but delayed -- tried to downplay talk of a full blown congressional investigation, saying he believes instead that hearings in both chambers will suffice. In fact, those hearings will kick off tomorrow in the Senate, when the intelligence committee will hold a closed hearing. There will also be public hearings for all the nation to see at some point either later this week or next week in the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So a call for investigations, but to a limit. All right. Ed Henry, thank you very much.
HENRY: That's right.
WOODRUFF: Well, even as U.S. officials of both parties condemn the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, the Pentagon says it will send in another 10,000 active duty troops for one-year tours. Half from the Marines, half from the Army. And CNN has learned that an additional 37,000 National Guard and Reserve troops are being called to active duty in Iraq. Commanders have decided not to reduce troop strength as much as originally planned after the handover of power to Iraqis on June the 30th.
And now to the presidential campaign trail. Senator John Kerry due to speak this hour in the showdown state of New Mexico, kicking off a three-day focus on education. Kerry is unveiling a plan designed to help one million more students graduate from high school over the next five years. The Kerry camp says the plan would, "make up for three years of broken promises by George W. Bush."
Also today, Kerry was criticized by some fellow Vietnam veterans. That story later on INSIDE POLITICS.
President Bush, for his part, is rolling through Ohio on the second day of a battleground state bus tour. He's been defending his record on jobs, along the way. Speaking to voters, the president acknowledged pockets of frustration, but promised that Ohio will soon feel the economic vitality that he says other parts of America are seeing. Later we'll have a report from Ohio on the political terrain the president faces there.
Ohio's unemployment rate has risen from 3.9 percent to 5.7 percent since President Bush took office. Workers in Stark County are among those who have suffered. We talked to voters in that county, which has a remarkably reliable history of supporting winning presidential candidates.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Stark County, Ohio, is the kind of place where flags fly everywhere. But all too often, next to "For Sale" signs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been so many plants closed and people out of work around here right now that there's a lot of uneasiness going on.
WOODRUFF: When this factory shut down two years ago, its jobs went overseas. Some of the 3,500 jobs lost here since President Bush narrowly won the county in 2000. It is the issue Stark County Republicans and Democrats agree will be the key to November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unemployment, the economy, the economy, the economy. That's what it is here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jobs, I believe, are at top of everybody's agenda, because that's what puts the bread and butter on our tables.
WOODRUFF: Voters here say they are looking for answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's going to be a big issue. What can the president, what can Congress do to help get this part of the country back on an even keel and get the factories moving again, get work going again in places that aren't working?
WOODRUFF: A vacant shopping center, the parking lot now used mainly for softball practice. Despite the economic problems, this team backs the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's kept us safe at the home front right now, and he's has eliminated a lot of the terrorist attacks that we've had in our country since 9/11.
WOODRUFF: The war is front-page news here, but the economy is never far from mind, pushing this voter to John Kerry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No jobs are available anymore. I was either working at fast food or grocery stores or, like, retail jobs. That's it. That's it. All of the rest of the good-paying jobs are gone.
WOODRUFF: Stark County has picked the winner in every presidential election but one in the last century.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's reflective of the rest of the nation. It's reflective in the fact that, you know, we have all of the issues that are everywhere.
WOODRUFF: It's such a bellwether, that when Canton's mayor was elected last fall, her first phone call was from Karl Rove, the president's political adviser.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our makeup here in this county, our Independents, far overwhelm our Republican and Democratic base. So you really have the big middle. I mean, that's what we're trying to attract.
WOODRUFF: That story from Stark County, Ohio.
Well, turning now to the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," a new poll in the showdown state of New Hampshire finds John Kerry holding a slim lead over President Bush. The Granite State poll of likely voters gives Kerry 49 percent to Bush's 45 percent. Bush won New Hampshire by one percentage point four years ago.
Out West, the race looks even tighter in the state of Oregon. A Research 2000 Survey gives Kerry 48 percent and Bush 46 percent. Another 6 percent say they are undecided.
When the 2004 presidential election is over, it could be the first billion-dollar campaign in U.S. history. Fundraising analysts tell the LA Times that a wide range of factors, including Internet donations and a polarized electorate, are all converging to push campaign fundraising to record highs. Already they say 700,000 more people have made donations than in the entire 2000 campaign.
The Democrats' nominee back in 2000 has entered the cable TV business, it turns out. Al Gore leads a group of investors who bought the News World International Network. The network will target its programming, it says, toward viewers in the 18 to 34 age bracket. The channel currently is distributed to about 17 million homes on satellite and digital cable.
In this election year, will alleged abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq become a campaign issue? Bill Schneider considers that question. And I'll talk with Congresswoman Jane Harman.
Political analyst Carlos Watson has been talking to Minnesota voters about politics and religion and whether the two should mix.
And later, a fact check on John Kerry's new ads, and an update on all the cash being poured into the air war.
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: President Bush says that he was shaken by reports of Iraqi prisoners being abused by American soldiers. And he has instructed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to make sure that those responsible are punished. But there is another aspect to all of this for the president. Will it damage his re-election campaign?
Here now, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The stories of prisoner abuse could have serious political implications. President Bush has cited the liberation of the Iraqi people as a principle justification for the war.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one can argue that the Iraqi people would be better off with the thugs and murderers back in the palaces. Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?
SCHNEIDER: When the president makes that argument now, it would be hard not to think about the photos on of U.S. military personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners. Certainly for the people in the Middle East.
HAMZA MANSOUR, ISLAMIC OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): The American administration came to protect the Iraqi citizens and restore their rights, as they claim. But the hell of the previous regime seemed to be better than the paradise of American administration.
SCHNEIDER: The world has responded with anger and outrage. A Saudi commentator writes on the Al-Jazeera Web site, "What's the difference between Saddam and Bush? Nothing."
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: The images going around the world has been damaging.
SCHNEIDER: So far, the domestic political response has been subdued. Americans seem shamed and embarrassed by the revelations. DASCHLE: Somehow we have to say to the international community this is not the United States of America.
SCHNEIDER: The big question, was this a violation of U.S. policy or it was U.S. policy?
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Who directed these people? Or were they directed? Was there a policy from the CIA or any other intelligence effort?
SCHNEIDER: The military denies any policy. It says it is investigating and punishing the wrongdoers.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We don't torture people. And we'll take appropriate action.
SCHNEIDER: But a reporter who detailed the abuses has doubts.
SEYMOYR HERSH, NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: It's impossible to believe that these six or seven young children from rural America understood the implications of this kind of treatment. Somebody told them what to do. Somebody enabled them to feel good enough about it they could take photographs.
SCHNEIDER: If there was a policy, President Bush may have to answer for it as commander in chief.
DASCHLE: This has to be examined very carefully both in terms of our own congressional oversight, but also within the administration itself.
SCHNEIDER: There are problems for John Kerry as well. He wants the rest of the world to share responsibility for Iraq. It could be a lot harder to persuade them to do that now.
(on camera): The photos could stoke antiwar anger in the U.S.. The most antiwar candidate for president isn't John Kerry. It's Ralph Nader.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Well, with me now to talk more about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congresswoman Jane Harman of California.
Congresswoman Harman, thank you very much. First of all, you've been getting briefings. How widespread was this abuse?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We don't know yet. I, of course, have been briefed for years on interrogations. This concerns me a lot, because the purpose of these interrogations is intelligence. I've been to Guantanamo three times. Chairman Porter Goss, of the House Intelligence Committee, and I have been in very highly- classified briefings, always with the bottom line news that we are complying with international norms and military law and so forth. So this is a shock to me.
I'm glad that the administration is now hopefully investigating broadly. I think Congress should, and I understand the Senate will start tomorrow holding hearings, and that we will go to public hearings, at least in the Senate, by the end of the week. I think the public deserves to know what was going on here. But a picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures, these horrible, despicable pictures, have undone thousands of acts of kindness and courage in Iraq by American soldiers and civilians who have built schools and carried school books and protected civilians, and so on and so forth, helped with hospitals.
WOODRUFF: How high up the chain of command are we talking?
HARMAN: Well, we don't know, but I think it is clear that the chain of command broke here. Whether or not these kids acted alone, or there were enablers in the middle levels, or there was some policy by some rogue actor, the chain of command didn't work, because the chain of command starts with the president of the United States, who says he was appalled by this information, and then goes to the secretary of defense, and the chairman of joint chiefs, neither of whom had seen this report as of a couple days ago. That doesn't seem plausible.
WOODRUFF: But the report was issued, we're told, on March the 3rd. Where did it go after that?
HARMAN: Well, we all talk about people in Washington with their hair on fire about the terrorist threat. I would have thought this report was on fire.
I can't imagine why it didn't hit the -- at least Myers desk within an hour of hitting the Pentagon, and why it didn't then go to Rumsfeld and go to the president in a matter of hours. This is absolutely critical, criminal stuff, and it has changed the face of America in the world.
WOODRUFF: Should someone at a high level, Congresswoman Harman, lose their job over this, or several people?
HARMAN: Well, we've had a lot of conversations about accountability for the problems leading up to 9/11. My position there has been that we didn't have the structures and the tools for good people to do their jobs.
In this case, we had the structures and the tools. And we should have known how to do this. So my view is, yes, someone needs to be accountable. I don't know at what level yet, but ultimately the buck stops at the president's desk. This is going to be an election issue. These pictures are going to frame this election unless this president, as commander in chief, acts decisively now. WOODRUFF: And when Secretary Rumsfeld says, as he did today, he and General Myers, this is not torture, they said, it's abuse, where do they draw the line?
HARMAN: Excuse me. I don't have it with me, Judy, but I have read the definition of torture that we agreed to under the international convention, and it says that things of this kind, pain and suffering with a view of the suspect, that it may cause his death, is torture. And having wires in your body and being told that you're going to die unless you talk, it seems to me, is consistent with this definition. I don't think anyone's definition of torture would exclude the picture that we've seen.
WOODRUFF: And in terms of -- again, you're saying the U.S. policy in the region, what damage does it do?
HARMAN: It does enormous damage. And most important, to force protection of our troops on the ground. I understand we're adding more troops as of today. I think that's a good thing, actually.
WOODRUFF: Forty-seven thousand troops.
HARMAN: I think it's a good thing. I think we should have had a larger force immediately after the military campaign ended a year ago, or allegedly ended a year ago.
Eric Shinseki was right. Those advising from outside who handled other reconstruction exercises were right. We underestimated the force it would take.
So, at any rate, why is this a force protection issue? Because I think that these photographs will embolden terrorists in the region to attack Americans. And I also think they will be emboldened to treat Americans as some Iraqis have been treated.
This is a very, very bad thing. It needs to not just be talked about, but addressed promptly and thoroughly right now.
WOODRUFF: Disturbing across the board. Congresswoman Jane Harman, she's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Thank you very much for coming by to talk us to. We appreciate it.
HARMAN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: And one programming note. Senator Hillary Clinton will join Wolf Blitzer to talk about the ongoing Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal and what Congress wants to do about it. That is today live at 5:00 p.m. on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
Up next, checking the political pulse of the people in Minnesota. Religion and politics are hot topics when Carlos Watson previews his latest discussion with American voters.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: CNN political analyst Carlos Watson is spending time with groups of voters this political season, listening to their views about the upcoming election and the issues they think are important. Carlos is with me now from New York to talk about a visit to Minnesota -- Carlos.
CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, good see you.
We had an incredibly interesting conversation with one of the groups that is most sought after in this election, a group of evangelical Christians. We went to Minnesota, a battleground state, that, as you know, Gore won by two points, where the president visited recently, and where John Kerry was yesterday. They had a lot of things to say about the economy, about the war. But listen to what they had to say about the role of pastors, like Jerry Falwell and others, in politics.
WATSON (on camera): So when you see people like Pat Robertson or Al Sharpton, more recently, ministers running for office, what goes through your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know what their agenda is. And why are you doing it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have as much right to run for offices as any other citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of crossover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote for a man who is exercising his faith versus one who isn't.
WATSON: Do you look to the minister here at the church for any guidance on politics?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've worked in churches in the past where over the pulpit the ministers have cast their ideas, so to speak, about who you should vote for, and try and shape the thoughts of the congregation. And that has disturbed me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faith and politics have to remain separate because they're very personal to each person. And so I don't think it's appropriate.
WATSON: If the pastor here were to endorse one candidate or another, would that influence you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would impact my view of the pastor. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, definitely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you do have pastors that openly endorse candidates for congressional members who have not taken on the responsibility of educating themselves about the politics, they just go out there and cast these votes without any substance. You know, just blind faith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pastor has the responsibility to preach what the word says about politics. But I don't think it should be preached from the pulpit.
WATSON: Judy, as you can see, they had a lot of things to say. Some of it's surprising. If Republicans were hoping not only to get a large percentage of the evangelical Christian vote but actually see eye higher turnout than you saw last time, they're saying that pastors should only have a limited influence.
A lot more on this tonight on Paula Zahn at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 5:00 p.m. California time.
WOODRUFF: Right. So fascinating to hear the difference of views, even among people in the same congregation, or with similar religious views. Carlos, thank you very much. And as Carlos said, you are going to hear more about it tonight on "PAULA ZAHN NOW," 8:00 Eastern, the latest edition of "The American Pulse."
Carlos, thanks a lot.
Well, one of the many ways to analyze the '04 campaign is to follow the money. Where are the Bush and Kerry camps spending the biggest bucks? We'll find out ahead.
Plus, grim memories from the Vietnam War revisited in the wake of the prisoner abuse controversy in Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: On the trail in Ohio.
BUSH: I'm here because I want you to know I have a reason to be your president for four more years.
ANNOUNCER: President Bush rolls through a state crucial to his re-election.
His message today? Education. But will an old story from a long-ago war once again divert John Kerry from his message?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know where they're coming from or where they're getting these outrageous statements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A skinny guy from the south side with a funny name like Barach Obama.
ANNOUNCER: What's in a name? In the battle for Illinois' open Senate seat, everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People said in Illinois you can't win with the last name of Ryan.
ANNOUNCER: Now live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. President Bush's final two stops in Ohio today are predominantly Republican areas but even on such friendly turf, the president is well aware he cannot take any corner of that showdown state for granted. Our White House correspondent Dana Bash has been traveling in the Bush caravan.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president's sales pitch on day two of his bus tour in Ohio is similar to day one in Michigan, jobs and security, but there's a crucial difference. The president won the White House without Michigan and if history is any guide he cannot win a second term without the state of Ohio. In 2000, the president beat Al Gore in Ohio by about four percentage points and the latest polls show the Buckeye state's 20 electoral votes are up for grabs and it's a dead heat between Mr. Bush and Senator John Kerry. Unlike Michigan where the president logged about 200 -- more than 200 miles on his bus, he's starting his day in Ohio. His first two stops using Air Force One and not his bus.
BUSH: Anyone want a pancake?
BASH: The day started with a classic campaign breakfast in suburban Toledo where he followed the rules for any candidate and flipped some of his own pancakes for the cameras. He then chastised Senator Kerry and his suggestion a few months ago that some foreign leaders told him that President Bush should lose and his explanation later when pressed that discussions could have happened at any New York restaurant.
BUSH: Just because somebody has an accent and a nice suit and a good table at a fancy restaurant in New York doesn't make them a foreign leader. But whoever these mystery men are, they're not going to be deciding this election. The American people will be deciding this election.
BASH: The president stump speeches has been about the war in Iraq, defending his decision to go to war in Iraq and saying he's not going to give into political pressure to change course there, but a notable omission from all public speeches has been any talk about the raging controversy over allegations of Iraqi prisoner abuse by members of the U.S. military.
Except for a short Q&A session with some local reporters, the president has left all of that public comment to members of his national security team. Bush campaign aides think one of Senator John Kerry's biggest weaknesses is that he's too reactive on the campaign trail and he doesn't stick to script. That is why they're trying not to get trapped into that. He is sticking to his message, not answering questions that perhaps would throw him off his message. In fact, that the president was scheduled to have reporters on his bus to answer some questions and get some pictures of the bus, but that was canceled. Dana Bash, CNN, Lebanon, Ohio.
WOODRUFF: All right. Well that was the Dana's report on the president, for his part when John Kerry landed in New Mexico today he was met at the airport by some supporters who are veterans, but at the same time some former service men in Vietnam were speaking out against Kerry's efforts to run as a war hero. Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, pretty much along the lines of same song, different verse here. We did have another group come up called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This is headed by a man, Retired Admiral Roy Hoffman. They are critics of John Kerry. They don't like what he said about veterans when he came home. They believe his war record has been exaggerated, they believe that Kerry in fact has not put out all of the records that are there. They want him to tell the Pentagon to put everything out there so that they can see it. But in the end when you listened to it, what you heard is much of what we've been hearing over the past couple of weeks about John Kerry's service record as well as his peace record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY HOFFMAN, VIETNAM VETERAN: I signed this letter because I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces. This is not a political issue. It is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty and trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Again, that is Roy Hoffman, a retired admiral, one of the members of this Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Kerry campaign pushed back as it has wont to do, wanting to respond to all things that are out there. They brought in Kerry's No. 2, a man we've seen a lot on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEL SANDUSKY, VIETNAM VETERAN: We were with Senator Kerry on the riverboat in Vietnam. We were there when he got his medals, when he got bloodied up and he deserved every one of his medals and we're just here to respond to say, we don't know where they're coming from or where they're getting these outrageous statements, but I don't think there's much basis in fact of what they're saying. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The letter that was referred to earlier, Judy, is they have written Senator Kerry and said tell the Pentagon to put out all of your records.
What does it all boil down to? In some ways what critics now and even some friends of John Kerry are saying is exactly what Dana had to say which is that the campaign does spend an awful lot of time pushing back on these, trying not to be Michael Dukakis. They do complain that their story...
WOODRUFF: Meaning laid-back.
CROWLEY: Laid-back, not going on the attack. You know, when you talk to some of those in the Kerry campaign and say you guys are dragging this out and, but yet when you ask them about those, we'll hit them hard tomorrow. So they seem caught between wanting to respond to these and at the same time keep our message which as you know this week is education.
WOODRUFF: Candy, any connection between this Hoffman group and the Republican party or the Bush-Cheney campaign.
CROWLEY: To tell you how sensitive this is, the Bush-Cheney campaign put out a press release and said the first we heard of this group was today. We didn't encourage them, however we do believe that all vets no matter who they support ought to be able to take part in the political process. Having said that, the Kerry campaign points out there are Republicans here, in fact the woman that represents them is a Texas Republican who has contributed to the Bush campaign which is not all that surprising given they are saying that John Kerry's record in war is not what he's saying it is and he's not deserving of being commander-in-chief so...
WOODRUFF: They clearly don't want to see him elected president.
WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, thanks very much.
Well, Senator Kerry's current commercial blitz features some warm and fuzzy images as part of a portrait of John Kerry and his career. Do these claims -- the claims in these spots ring true? Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources" has another ad fact check.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Politics is like sports sometimes. Offense versus defense, but in this presidential campaign, the two sides don't seem to be playing the same game. Here's a charge in one of President Bush's latest ads.
AD ANNOUNCER: Yet John Kerry has repeatedly opposed weapons vital to winning the war on terror.
Bradley fighting vehicles, patriot missiles, B-2 stealth bombers, F-18 fighter jets and more.
KURTZ: Kerry didn't respond directly, but the biographical spots he unveiled yesterday offer a very different portrait.
AD ANNOUNCER: The decisions that he made saved our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he pulled me out of the river he risked his life to save mine.
KURTZ: Rather than argue over the details of his Senate voting record, Kerry shifts the playing field to Vietnam and his decorated service there. The same thing on taxes. The Bush charge?
AD ANNOUNCER: John Kerry's plan, to pay for new government spending, raise taxes by at least $900 billion.
KURTZ: The Kerry response.
AD ANNOUNCER: He broke with his own party to support a balanced budget.
KURTZ: But that was back in 1985 when Kerry supported the Gramm- Rudman budget amendment. And it wasn't quite the act of courage the ad suggests. Half the Democratic senators voting also backed the measure.
AD ANNOUNCER: Then in the 1990s, cast the decisive vote that created 20 million new jobs.
KURTZ: Decisive? Well, sort of. Kerry supported President Clinton's deficit reduction package, but since it passed by one vote, every Democratic senator who backed it can claim to be the tie- breaking vote. While financial analysts say the measure boosted the economy, even Kerry aides conceded it didn't create 20 million new jobs by itself. John Kerry's campaign says it's spending a record $25 million on these two biographical spots because most voters don't know much about him. The question is whether these positive Kerry images, his wife, daughter, Vietnam buddies can neutralize the darker picture in the Bush ads. This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources."
WOODRUFF: Meantime, we are just getting in some live pictures from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Candidate John Kerry talking education. You see the governor of New Mexico in the background, Bill Richardson. John Kerry talking education at an elementary school in Albuquerque. Part of a three-day swing through the country, talking on the issue of education.
Some memorable moments from John Kerry's Mexico swing today. One featuring a would-be running mate. Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, the man you just saw is at John Kerry's side, eagerly working a ropes line at the Albuquerque airport. That must have been earlier when he arrived. Richardson says he's concentrating on getting John Kerry the support of Hispanic voters in New Mexico and across the country.
Kerry was busy trying to win over kindergartners by reading them a couple of classic children's books. When he first walked in, the youngsters apparently were impressed by his stature.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Good afternoon, Senator Kerry!
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You can touch the ceiling!
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You're tall.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am tall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: We think they said you're tall. In the race for the White House who's spending the biggest ad bucks and where? We'll have the latest spending figures next. Plus, what's in a name? That question looms large in the Illinois Senate race. And a face from the past will make current reminders that U.S. missions can be tainted by the bad choices of a few.
WOODRUFF: As we reported, John Kerry has launched a $25 million television ad campaign this month. Our advertising consultant Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence is with me now to talk more about TV ad spending. TNS, as you know, tracks ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets. Evan, first of all, bring us up to date on how much the campaigns have spent on advertising since the start of March, the beginning of March?
EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: Well, Judy, since the beginning, which was March 3 right after Kerry became the de facto nominee for the Democratic party, we've really been through a couple of phases. The first, the Bush campaign used their war chest to get started. They spent right now about $50 million just on the Bush- Cheney campaign. Kerry, on the other hand, has spent about 17 million and starting to ramp up more, but when you roll in the 527s, Kerry's actually outspent Bush by just about a million dollars. So when you put the Kerry and the 527s together they equal one Bush-Cheney.
WOODRUFF: As you were saying to me there, it's interesting about the messages. Let's talk about that later on. Where are the campaigns mainly spending this money?
Tracey: So far it's the 17 battleground states. That list will grow with the new carry-bys (ph) and now Bush is going into other states like Colorado and Louisiana, but when you break it down, you look at the Bush buys in the major states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri. You see that Bush has a decided spending advantage in the state of Florida, spending about $9.2 million. When you look at cable, the other plays where Bush has an advantage it's about a three or four million advantage over Kerry. When you look at Kerry's spending, however, you see that he's on par in a lot of the states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Missouri, but he's got the same advantage when you roll Kerry and the 527s together in Ohio that Bush has in Florida. So I advise a good look into where the campaigns are really, really concentrating. Bush on Florida, Kerry on Ohio.
WOODRUFF: You've been bringing up the 527s and saying if you add the Kerry campaign with the friendly 527s, they're on a par but you were just telling me that that's not necessarily a blessing for John Kerry.
Tracey: You can never have too many friends and it's always nice to have friends with money. I'm sure Kerry is not too broken up about this. When we looked last week at the messages that the various campaign had on the air about 95 percent of the Bush ad dollars were spent on messages concerning Iraq and Kerry's votes on weapons systems.
Conversely, when we looked at the Kerry next to the 527s, they had about 11 different ads on in these 17 states and we're covering about seven different topics, anything from the Medicare prescription drug to environmental issues to the war, to the economy, the job outsourcing, so there's really not the cohesive message top to bottom that you find with the Bush campaign and that's one of the blessings and curses with 527s. You really don't control what these other groups are doing.
WOODRUFF: And it's illegal to coordinate. You're not supposed to do that.
Tracey: There's no coordinating.
WOODRUFF: Evan Tracey with TNS Media Intelligence. Thanks very much. We'll try to talk to you as often as we can.
WOODRUFF: Appreciate it. This hot political year could trigger a power shift in the U.S. Senate. When we come back one key race where names are a key.
WOODRUFF: With 34 seats up for grabs and a number of retirements, the battle for control of the United States Senate could be close this year. One pivotal race is in Illinois where Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald has decided not to run again. A crowded primary produced two interesting nominees. CNN's Keith Oppenheim explains both of them face a big and basic challenge, getting voters comfortable with their names.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jack Ryan's last name is maybe too familiar.
JACK RYAN (R), ILL. SENATE CANDIDATE: People said in Illinois you cannot win with the last name of Ryan.
OPPENHEIM: Last year Republican Governor George Ryan ended his term in the state of controversy while Republican candidate Jim Ryan, no relation, lost in a bid to replace him.
Jack Ryan thinks as a Republican in Illinois, he can become the next U.S. senator. But he's never held elected office and faces tough competition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A skinny guy from the south side with a funny name like Barack Obama.
OPPENHEIM: Barack Obama's Swahili name isn't so familiar. But it's catching on. The state senator from Chicago's South Side is appealing to a wide range of ethnic voters including whites.
BARACK OBAMA (D), ILL. SENATE CANDIDATE: It's a sense that I understand what it's like to walk in your shoes.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): And because both candidate know how to and they have to reach out to different constituencies, this could be a pretty compelling race between two newcomers. The question is whose message and whose life story will sell better in Illinois where politics is gritty?
(voice-over): For instance, Ryan's ex-wife, Gerri Ryan, is an actress and the mother of Jack Ryan's 9-year-old son Alex. Despite lawsuits from the media, the Ryan are refusing to release sealed custody records.
RYAN: Let the political chips fall where they may. We're doing the right thing for my son.
OPPENHEIM: Other aspects of Ryan's background are less distracting. He made a fortune as an investment banker then quit to teach for three years at an inner city school. But Ryan's running in a state that's been electing Democrats for major offices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're going to win because God is on your side.
OPPENHEIM: And some voters are excited that Obama could become the first black man to become a Democratic senator in U.S. history. If elected, Obama could be catapulted to the role of African-American leader in a national spotlight.
PAUL GREEN, ROOSEVELT UNIV.: The only way Ryan makes this race really competitive, he has to bloody Obama.
OPPENHEIM: Professor Paul Green believes President Bush won't campaign much if at all in Illinois. And that Jack Ryan's best hope is to bash his opponent early and often.
RYAN: He's running to the left of John Kerry.
OPPENHEIM: Ryan is trying to portray Obama as extreme. But he's being counterpunched.
OBAMA: I would argue that Mr. Ryan is a genuine ideologue. OPPENHEIM: In a race where the economy and George W. Bush's record are getting heavy attention it could come down to which politician could make the other guy come out of the mainstream and make the voters remember his name.
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.
WOODRUFF: For most Americans, the reports and pictures of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners are inconceivable. As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put it, those acts are (UNINTELLIGIBLE)- American. But are they? Our Bruce Morton looks eight past war where horrible acts occurred. To our viewers, some of these pictures are graphic and may be disturbing.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pictures of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib are hard to look at. They will make it easier for foreigners to hate American. But they will also make us take a hard look at ourselves. We'd like to think that we're the good guys, but we're not. Not always.
We learned this lesson last in Vietnam in the village called My Lai. In March of 1968, Charlie Company of the 11th Flight Infantry Brigade came to My Lai and killed many unarmed men, women and children. The plaque in the My Lai museum lists 504.
Americans learned of the massacre months later when Army photographer Ron Haeberle's pictures ran in "Life" magazine. They, too, were hard to look at.
Platoon commander Lieutenant William Calley was convicted of the murder of at least 22 Vietnamese. His company commander was acquitted in separate trials.
Aubrey Daniel, then an Army captain, later a Washington lawyer, was the prosecutor at Calley's court martial. He talked to CNN about the trial in 1995.
AUBREY DANIEL, MY LAI PROSECUTOR: They were the sons of Americans. The children of Americans that had been sent to this war. So I think it's difficult for parents, perhaps, to recognize that a child can do something wrong.
So I think it was a very difficult thing to accept the reality that one of our own or some of our own could be engaged in this kind of conduct.
MORTON: Calley was found guilty. But then President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence. Daniel wrote a protest letter.
But My Lai really did was made us all think twice about the war. DANIELS: I think the My Lai massacre really brought into focus for the country the limits, if you will, on our consciousness. It made us take a very, very long hard look at the war. And the conduct of the war and what it meant for Americans.
MORTON: They keep a visitor's book at My Lai. One American wrote that he'd been a medic adding, quote, "we need to realize we are all one. We all carry with us the potential to be the killer -- and the victim." Maybe that's the lesson now, too.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Disturbing pictures.
That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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