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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Democracy in Iraq, Will it Take Root?; Interview With Condoleezza Rice
Aired June 2, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tying together wars past and present.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States.
ANNOUNCER: But is President Bush making the case with an increasingly skeptical public?
One hurdle in Iraq is past. But many more may be ahead.
ANNOUNCER: The violence and the killing and the attacks continue. How can you be sure that you've turned a corner? Judy sits down with Condoleezza Rice.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think it's possible that violence could tick up during the period between now and June 30th.
ANNOUNCER: Who will John Kerry pick as his running mate?
You obviously want somebody who is going to work closely and effectively with you.
ANNOUNCER: History may give us some clues.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.
President Bush this afternoon tried to tie the United States' war against terrorists to the great conflicts of the nations past and just as in World War II and the Cold war. Mr. Bush said America will prevail over its current enemies. The president made his comments in a commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. It was the latest of a series of speeches where he is trying to lay out his vision for defeating terrorism, securing Iraq and spreading freedom throughout the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: And all these threats, we hear the echoes of other enemies in other times. That same swagger and demented logic of the fanatic. Like their kind of the past. These murderers have left scars and suffering. And like their kind of the past, they will flame and fail and suffer defeat by free men and women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The U.S. mission in Iraq, Democrat John Kerry continues to say the U.S. needs more help. In a statement, Kerry today called on President Bush to use his upcoming trip to Europe and the G-8 summit here in the U.S. to convince more international allies to join the Iraq mission. Kerry says the move will "enable our troops to come home sooner." We may hear more from John Kerry on Iraq at the top of the hour when he answers questions from reporters.
President Bush has called Iraq the central front in the war on terror and he described the new interim government there as a hopeful sign for the future. Bill Schneider has more on the new leadership and whether it can foster democracy in Iraq.
WILLIAM SCHNEDIER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Iraq has a new government. Is it Democratic? That may have less to do with how the government was chosen than with what it does once it's in power. Knowledgeable Iraqi-Americans claim the new government is legitimate.
LAITH KUBBA, IRAQ NATIONAL GROUP: All these are strong national figures. And I do not think Iraqis will see them as U.S. puppets.
SCHNEIDER: The U.S. kept some distance from the process, especially the selection of the new president.
RUBAR SANDI, IRAQI-AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: If it was controlled completely by America, the Governing Council would have not elected or selected Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar.
SCHNEIDER: Democracy is a new experience for Iraq.
SANDI: We have to remember that Iraq never had a democratic government. It was always ruled by a dictator for the past 80 years. So it's not going to happen overnight.
SCHNEIDER: The U.N. envoy who named the new government says the Iraqi people will judge it by its performance.
LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: I believe that they will make up their minds about that on the basis of what the government does and says during the critical few months ahead.
SCHNEIDER: Which means two things: physical security...
KUBBA: Can this government survive the bombs and the security challenge? What happens if the president or the prime minister is killed in a bomb?
SCHNEIDER: ... and economic security.
SANDI: Progress in the ground, right on the ground in Iraq so people can feel that it is different and definitely the new government is coming, that they will improve their life.
SCHNEIDER: The new government has lots of enemies.
KUBBA: There are just too many groups out there with ill intentions towards what's happening in Iraq.
SCHNEIDER: Could this be the solution?
SANDI: Iraq does need a strong man, because, as I said, since the inception of Iraq, Iraq has always ruled by one person.
SCHNEIDER: Strong leadership is not incompatible with democracy.
SANDI: I am hoping that when we say a strong leader, that he's not becoming a dictator. He's strong in performing, strong in providing leadership to the Iraqi people. But not strong in suppressing Iraqi people.
SCHNEIDER: If the government fails to perform, the Iraqi people must be able to throw it out of office. That's the ultimate test of democracy.
SCHNEIDER: After all, there are a lot of questions in the U.S. about how the Bush administration got in. In this country, the people can throw the administration out of they want to, and that will be the real test in Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
Well, earlier today, I discussed the U.S. policy in Iraq and the wider security challenges facing the nation with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. We began by talking about the new Iraqi government, and I asked, given the continued violence in the country, how can she be sure that Iraq has turned a corner?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The reason that we've turned a corner and, more importantly, that Iraq has turned a corner and the Iraqi people have turned a corner is that they now have a government in place broadly representative of, broadly capable, I think, of representing the views of the Iraqi people that can now accept sovereignty and can be a full partner in trying to secure Iraq and in accelerating its reconstruction. The Iraqis don't like occupation any more than we would like occupation. And it is time for that occupation to end. This new Iraqi government will have full sovereignty on June 30th. We want the international community to support the new Iraqi government, which is why we're seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution. And the leaders of the government said yesterday that they're going to need the help of multinational forces for some time until they can secure themselves. But we will concentrate a lot with them on the Iraqis taking more responsibility for their own security, on training their forces, on training their police forces.
WOODRUFF: It's been said, though, that this new government looks a great deal like the Iraqi Governing Council, now dissolved. That was a body that did not have much legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people. That being the case, what gives you a belief that this new government is going to have legitimacy?
RICE: Well, in fact, this government doesn't look very much like the Governing Council at all. There are only four members of the former Iraqi Governing Council who are in this new government.
The president was in the Governing Council, of course, the prime minister, and two ministers. But, for instance, the new minister of defense was the governor of Sahaladin (ph). So you have regional representatives there. I'm sorry, the minister of interior. The minister of defense from the south in Diwaniya.
So you're talking about a lot of new faces. There are six women who are ministers here. And this is going to be a government that, now having full sovereignty, is fully prepared to take decisions on behalf of the Iraqi people.
WOODRUFF: You used the term and the president's used the term "full sovereignty." And yet, there will still be 135,000 or so American troops in Iraq. The former national security adviser under president Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is quoted today as saying that lacks credibility when you've got that many American troops in a country and you're saying they have sovereignty.
RICE: Well, let's remember that we have forces in Bosnia now working with a sovereign government to help secure them.
WOODRUFF: But not this many.
RICE: We have forces in Afghanistan working with a sovereign government to help secure them. We had troops in Germany for 50 years. We have troops in Japan today. So this notion that somehow an international troop presence is at odds with sovereignty is just ahistorical.
Now, it is true that the Iraqis have said we are not yet able to secure ourselves, we need the help of the international community. But we all want the day to come when Iraqis are capable of securing themselves and when foreign forces are not needed on Iraqi soil. Right now, they're not capable of doing that, but we're going to work very, very hard with them to get them to the place that they're capable so that any troop presence can be minimal. WOODRUFF: I'm sure you're aware of the stories, another story today about Mr. Ahmad Chalabi. The story today that he passed on information to the Iranian government, crucial intelligence information. This after the Bush administration clearly was allied with this man. People are now asking, were you, were others in the Bush administration fooled by Ahmad Chalabi?
RICE: We had a relationship with Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress just like we have relationships with a number of Iraqi organizations devoted to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And, by the way, most of those relationships date to 1998, when the Iraqi Liberation Act was passed by the U.S. Congress.
And these relationships were all for the purposes of -- the very noble purpose of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Now, it's no secret that the relationship with Ahmad Chalabi has been somewhat strained of late. But it doesn't matter what his relationship is to us.
What matters is what is his relationship to the Iraqi people. And we've always said we had no candidate, no horse, so to speak, in this race. The president said it on the day shortly after liberation. And whatever Ahmad Chalabi is going to do in Iraq is because he's convinced the Iraqi people that he should be a part of their future.
WOODRUFF: So who is responsible for him? And for a while he was someone who was quoted frequently, who was seen in the presence. He sat behind first lady Laura Bush at the state of the union. We know that Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, certainly Richard Perle, who's been advising the Pentagon, is someone very close to Mr. Chalabi. Who's responsible for him?
RICE: He's responsible for himself. And his future is in the hands of the Iraqi people as to whether he'll have a future in Iraq.
Again, Judy, we had relationships with a lot of organizations that were dedicated to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And Ahmad Chalabi was one of the members of the Governing Council at the time that he was at the state of the union. But the Iraqi people now have a new government.
It is a government that is broader. It is a government that is in that sense more representative. And as the president said in his Army War College speech, there are several steps now, five steps that need to be taken to a democratic Iraq.
WOODRUFF: The president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. At the top of the hour, part two of my interview with her.
We'll talk more about Iraq, and I'll get her thoughts on Democrat John Kerry. But first, the vice president and his Halliburton connections. Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile weigh in on the latest report.
Experience or electoral appeal? What goes into the choice of a running mate? Our Bruce Morton looks at past picks.
And later, the Democrats score a special election victory. Is retaking the House still out of reach?
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: With us now in New York, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile. And here in Washington, Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.
All right. President Bush yesterday very encouraged, to say the least, about developments in Iraq. If the Iraqi people accept this interim government, Donna, to you first, does this spell success for George Bush in November?
DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I don't believe that it spells relief. I still believe that we're a long way from having a smooth transition, helping that country rebuild itself, provide the type of security and safety the people need, and returning the country to some semblance of normalcy. So this is a good sign that the transition is going to hold for a while, but they need more of a roadmap for success and not to worry about the political calendar here in the United States.
BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, Donna is right, Judy, on many counts. There's no question anything could happen in the next couple months. It's going to be many, many months, many years before we now how successful this is. But it's great new for George Bush.
He made a commitment that he was going to first remove Saddam Hussein. And secondly, give the people of Iraq a real opportunity here for self-government. And this is the first step.
In 30 days, they're going to have sovereignty transferred, have a national council. In six months, they're looking at elections. This is great news. He's basically fulfilled the promise to the Iraqi people, that promise starting today.
WOODRUFF: If he's fulfilled that promise, Donna, what's to stand in the way?
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, Judy, with all due respect to Bay, who I have a great deal of respect for -- but Bay, we went to war supposedly to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction because there was an al Qaeda connection and a connection to, you know, nuclear proliferation. None of that has come true.
We spent over $200 billion, we've lost more than 800 soldiers. We're now in that country for a long, long time until it reaches that goal of a smooth transition. So what needs to happen right now, I believe, that the administration should continue to broaden our allies. Senator Kerry is calling for that. And we need to bring in more Arab-speaking Muslims, our neighbors to help us out. BLITZER: Bay?
BUCHANAN: You know, whatever Senator Kerry says, it just basically resonates as to be exactly what the president is doing and moving ahead with. So there is no alternative there. I've said that many, many times.
But the president has been enormously successful. The purpose of the war was basically to remove Saddam Hussein, who he felt was a real national security threat to the United States. He did that. Secondly, to give them a chance for self-determination. Without George Bush, the Iraqi people would not have that opportunity.
BRAZILE: That's a new reason, Bay.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, I want to ask you both about a story broken over the last few days. TIME Magazine reporting over the weekend that Doug Feith, who is a senior Pentagon official, had signed off on a deal awarding Halliburton, the company, a contract to help restore the Iraqi oil fields. This e-mail said it was contingent on informing the White House tomorrow.
Implications for Vice President Cheney, who, of course, used to head Halliburton, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, I find it very troubling. And I tell you, we need a full investigation. The White House needs to stop stonewalling, level with the American people and tell us exactly what happened.
What is no operational authority? That is meaningless. This is serious, and the White House should demand an investigation, as well.
BUCHANAN: You know, this is not only not a scandal, it's not a controversy. All this is, literally, is a deliberate attempt to misinterpret the facts here.
The memo is quite clear. They're going to coordinate the announcement of this contract with the vice president's office. It has nothing to do with the actual contract itself. They did not want to announce it before the war. And so they were making certain they held it until that time.
The vice president's office has made this clear, and all the Democrats are doing is trying to make some hay out of it. But there's nothing there. There's absolutely nothing there. And they seem to be obsessing on the vice president.
BRAZILE: Well, the taxpayers deserve to know. Forget the Democrats. The taxpayers deserve to know exactly what happened and whether or not there was a quid pro quo.
Look, we have spent billions of dollars on giving Halliburton no- bid contracts. They have charged us enormous fees for the services they provide. We need to get to the bottom of it. The White House should stop stonewalling and answer the questions and let us know exactly what happened.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Donna and Bay, always good to see you both. Thank you.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
BUCHANAN: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We'll see you soon.
And looking back to predict the future. Does peering back in time to running mates' past help us gauge who John Kerry will pick as his partner? Our Bruce Morton takes a stroll down memory lane when we return.
WOODRUFF: With the Democratic presidential nomination virtually a done deal, there is little suspense left for the party faithful. About the only exception to that is the identity of John Kerry's choice as a running mate. CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton revisits some past vice presidential decisions.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Beyond that, you obviously want somebody who is going to work closely and effectively with you.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry is looking for a running mate. What does he want? What have other nominees wanted? Sometimes it's geography.
In 1960, John Kennedy, a Roman Catholic from Massachusetts, needed in a Democratic Party that was still strong in the South a southerner. He chose Texan Lyndon Johnson and won.
By 1988, the South was much more Republican. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts also chose a Texan, Lloyd Benson, but they lost. Sometimes it's experience.
Jimmy Carter, a governor from Georgia, chose Walter Mondale, a senator who knew how Washington worked. That's happened often. Ronald Reagan, a governor, picked George Bush, who served in the House and had all sorts of appointed jobs in Washington: party chairman, CIA chief and so on.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said I wanted a vice president who would complement me and my own experiences and bring other experiences, knowledge, and understanding to our common endeavor.
MORTON: Bill Clinton and Al Gore, about the same age, both from the mid South. But again, Clinton a governor, Gore a senator, like his father before him, had grown up in Washington. Sometimes you just try to shake things up. Walter Mondale, running against a very popular Reagan, chose a woman.
GERALDINE FERRARO, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Vice president has such a nice ring to it.
MORTON: It was a bold stroke, but it didn't work. They carried one state.
Sometimes it's hard to figure. George Herbert Walker Bush chose young Dan Quayle so you'd know which one was boss? Maybe.
Pundits mocked Quayle's deer in the headlights look. And Lloyd Benson blasted him when Quayle said in their vice presidential debate that he had as much experience as John Kennedy did when he ran for president.
LLOYD BENSON, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
MORTON: Still, they won. This time, some say, what about John McCain? Have two parties ever shared a ticket? Yes.
In 1864, Republican Abe Lincoln ran with Democrat Andrew Johnson. Lincoln was murdered; Johnson was impeached. If history's any guide, that's a loser.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: I should say. Just ahead, more on the conflict in Iraq. We are expecting live comments from Senator John Kerry. He is in Florida.
Iraq was also the focus of President Bush's speech today to Air Force Academy graduates. We'll have more on what the president had to say.
Plus, how long will American troops have to stay in Iraq? We'll hear what Condoleezza Rice has to say as my interview with the national security adviser continues.
And John Kerry talks homeland security. Candy Crowley is traveling with the senator, and she'll tell us about his stop today.
ANNOUNCER: John Kerry revs up first responders, and President Bush salutes the military. We're covering the presidential campaign from coast to coast.
Judy goes one on one with the national security adviser.
WOODRUFF: Do you think John Kerry is qualified to be commander in chief?
RICE: The American people will decide about people's credentials.
ANNOUNCER: More of her interview with Condoleezza Rice is just ahead.
Another special election victory for the Democrats. Is this a sign the minority party can retake control of Congress?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think it gives the Democrats some momentum.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back.
In a speech at the Air Force Academy today, President Bush described the war on terror as a clash not of civilizations but of political visions. And he outlined the military strategy that he says will lead to...
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. In a speech at the Air Force Academy today, President Bush described the war on terror as a clash not of civilizations but of political visions. And he outlined the military strategy that he says will lead to ultimate victory.
Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is standing by with more -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, today, the president really was speaking to two audiences. First the corps of cadets, these young men and women who may actually see combat in their lifetime. And of course, an international audience. Key allies that the president hopes to bring on board to support the Iraq mission.
As you know, this is a critical time for the administration with the introduction of the Iraqi interim government and a U.N. Security Council resolution that is being worked out.
Today at that commencement speech, the president really gave a preview of the message he'll deliver Sunday at the 60th anniversary of D-Day. That's is where he's going to be traveling. He will be at Normandy, France.
He likened the ideology that fueled World War II's Nazi Germany and the Stalinist regime to the terrorism of al Qaeda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: This is the great challenge of our time. The storm in which we fly. History is once again witnessing a great clash. This is not a clash of civilizations. The civilization of Islam with its humane traditions of learning and tolerance has no place for this violent sect of killers and aspiring tyrants.
This is not a clash of religions. The faith of Islam teaches moral responsibility that ennobles men and women and forbids the shedding of innocent blood.
Instead, this is a clash of political visions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And the president talked about those visions. He said one which oppresses the other that liberates. Now this is a message, Judy, that the president is going to take when he travels to Italy and France. He's going to be meeting with key world leaders to try to get the kind of support he needs for the U.N. Security Council resolution for Iraqi sovereignty.
And then next week, of course, he's going to be hosting the G-8 Summit in Georgia. That is where he is going to be expanding that message, talking about the broader Middle East initiative, saying, of course, that peace in the Middle East is linked to the welfare of Iraq -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So in other words, this is a prime moment, if you will, Suzanne, for the president to lay out this vision. The White House has been planning this for quite some time.
MALVEAUX: Absolutely. And what you're going to see is in the days leading up to this June 30 deadline for Iraqi sovereignty, every week the president making a major speech, outlining the policy, outlining the strategy.
At the same time, very much aware that he has to convince two audiences, the international one as well as the domestic one, particularly these young men and women who may have to see battle themselves, that this is all worth it in the end.
WOODRUFF: No doubt, this is an audience today paying close attention, as all of us are. All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.
And once again, we are waiting for John Kerry. We're told he is going to be answering reporters' questions as he travels through Florida. This is a scene in Tampa. We'll take you there when the senator appears.
It looks like here is he stepping up to the lectern. John Kerry talking with reporters. We expect comments about Iraq. Senator Kerry.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good afternoon. Let me just begin with a quick statement and then be happy to answer questions.
First of all, I want to say with respect to Iraq that I'm glad the president is working to some measure with the United Nations. I think it's important, and I've said that all along.
But I believe the president could be doing more to still create the kind of international effort necessary to assist whatever government emerges whether it is precisely what we have today or some transition. It is vital that we get other countries to commit resources and troops, boots on the ground, to the mission in Iraq.
Today in "The New York Times," Andrew Exum writes eloquently of the problem that is increasing for American forces who are overstretched, as I have been saying for months.
The Guard and the reserve have been turned into almost active duty. And you have what is a backdoor draft that has been put into effect. People serving beyond the time of their voluntary service are no longer volunteers.
So it is vital that the president, who is going to Europe this weekend, exercise the statesmanship necessary to bring other countries to the table, financially and physically, in order to help get our troops home and reduce what will continue to be a perception of over- Americanization of responsibility for the stability and security in the country.
It's essential to get troop and resource commitments for our mission in Iraq to relieve the burden on our troops as well as to help achieve stability, which is vital. And I believe that stability will become far more effectively and far more rapidly with the assistance and participation of other countries.
And most importantly, it will enable our troops to get home sooner and to reduce the pressure on young Americans who have renewed their careers, gone back to school, made other choices in the private sector and suddenly find themselves going back to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Be happy to answer any questions. Yes?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) to Ahmad Chalabi that made its way into the hands into the hands of the Iranian government?
KERRY: Well it's obviously a very serious allegation. I met with Mr. Chalabi in London a number of years ago and made the decision at that time that we should not be supportive of his efforts. I thought that -- that was a judgment I made, and I regret that this administration, for whatever reasons, bought into Mr. Chalabi hook, line and sinker. And I think it's cost us significantly.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) President Bush is capable of that kind of statesmanship, not only on Iraq, bringing others around to support American interests in Iraq, but also just American interests worldwide? Is he capable of that?
KERRY: Patrick, that's not the judgment for me to make. What's important now is for our country to be well served. All of us want the president to be successful. All of us want our country to do well in these next weeks and months.
We've paid too much, too much cost in blood and loss of lives of our young. Too much cost in billions of dollars because this president rushed to war. We need now to have the statesmanship that reduces this burden and keeps us on track or gets us on track. I want the president to be successful like every American.
I think this is not a question of my making a judgment about ability. It's my laying out what I believe the agenda is for our country and trying to help meet it.
As I've said, if we can get that international entity and that international entity becomes involved in this, I'll be very supportive of what it needs to do and what we need to do. But when this is predominantly remaining an American operation, I think it is fraught with great difficulty and cost.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) said today that Iraq is the main front on the war on terror and it will be the work of decades. Do you agree with this?
KERRY: No, I don't think it is the main front in the war on terror. The main front in the war on terror is in 60 countries around the world with al Qaeda and a host of other radical organizations, some of which are in countries that are our friends.
And Iraq is only one portion. And the reason it's now linked to the war on terror as it has been is because of what has happened there.
No one in the intelligence community, no one in the world of fighting the war on terror ever suggested that there was a link of Iraq to 9/11, September 11, which were the events that the Congress was responding to. And it was the weapons of mass destruction which were given to the Congress as the primary cause and rationale for our involvement.
So I think that's once again misleading America, frankly. And I think that the war on terror is a global operation. It will require massive cooperation with other countries. It will require significantly augmenting our intelligence-gathering capacity.
But it is very significantly to be fought in the northwest part of Pakistan and in the northeastern part of Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden is presumed to still be at large with many al Qaeda. It's going to be fought in the radical clerics of Saudi Arabia and Egypt and other places where we have an enormous challenge to bring people into modernity and to an alternative other than hating the United States.
So I think it is a much bigger and broader operation than that, and it's -- it's a multi-front, almost a war with so many fronts that it's a mistake to singularize it in that way. Yes?
WOODRUFF: John Kerry answering reporters' questions in Florida. You heard him there at the end say he thinks the president is misleading Americans by saying that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. John Kerry saying it is a multi-front war being fought in many countries, much bigger and much broader, he said, than just one country.
He did start out by saying that it is essential that more troops be brought in to help American troops in Iraq. He said what's going on is a backdoor draft that the Guard and Reserves who are still serving in Iraq beyond the time of their commitment, he said they are no longer volunteers. John Kerry answering reporters' questions as he travels in Florida.
Well, in the second part of my conversation today with the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, I asked her about the U.N. envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi. We just heard John Kerry say that Brahimi's story had been swallowed as in his words, hook, line and sinker by the Bush administration. There are now reports that say Brahimi's top choices for Iraqi prime minister and Iraq president were not chosen. I'm sorry, I don't want to juxtapose. I was thinking of Ahmed Chalabi. The other gentleman I'm referring to, Mr. Brahimi, was the U.N. envoy to Iraq. I asked Condoleezza Rice if the fact that Brahimi's choices were overlooked bodes well for later when the U.S. is working with the U.N. on the Iraqi elections.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Mr. Brahimi was very much the quarterback as the president called him yesterday of this process. He was the one who did all of the consultations. He was the one who came up with shortlists of people and talked to hundreds and even thousands of Iraqis about who might be good leaders. Yes, he talked with the governing council which was at the time, of course, the governing body. He talked with us. I've been really struck by this notion that somehow the United States had a candidate for president. I was on the phone every morning with Baghdad, Judy, and I can tell you what we told Mr. Brahimi.
We said your shortlist looks good to us. Any of these candidates are acceptable, and he then had to do what was obviously a difficult job with all of the constituencies in Iraq, which is to manage this into a final list for the government. I mean, surprise, surprise, politics broke out in Iraq. People cared about who would fill these positions.
WOODRUFF: You mention, you talk of Mr. Brahimi, of course, as the U.N. envoy. There are those -- and the whole notion that the Bush administration is now working more closely with the U.N., the president cited Kofi Annan yesterday -- there are those, including those advising John Kerry who say the president is essentially following John Kerry's lead when it comes to resorting to multilateralism, resorting to working much more closely with the United Nations.
RICE: The president took the case of Saddam Hussein to the United Nations in September of 2002. It was the United Nations security council that voted Resolution 1441 threatening serious consequences against Saddam Hussein. It was the president who challenged the United Nations to live up to its own resolutions.
WOODRUFF: But just to put a button on that, it is no secret that the U.N. was not happy in the end with what the U.S. did and the way it went in with few -- fewer coalition countries than the U.N. would have liked and now, the Bush administration is working more closely.
RICE: We've been working closely with the U.N. from the very beginning, Judy, but let's remember, the U.N. is member states. There isn't any such thing as the U.N. There are several members of the U.N. Security council who were coalition members. Great Britain, Spain, members of the security council who went in as parts of the coalition. So the charge that somehow this administration has been unilateral in its activities is simply not right.
WOODRUFF: Do you think John Kerry is qualified to be commander- in-chief?
RICE: That's not for me to say. That's why we have elections. We went to Iraq to defend the principle about liberty and freedom and democracy and elections. The American people will decide about people's credentials for commander-in-chief.
WOODRUFF: Do you pay any attention to his statements and so forth on Iraq?
RICE: I'm pretty busy, Judy. What I'm concerned about is helping this president carry out a foreign policy that has been enormously successful, that has liberated two countries from brutal dictatorships, Afghanistan and Iraq, that is successfully prosecuting the war on terrorism with a broad coalition of forces and states around the world, that has carried out a remarkable change in the way that we think about foreign assistance.
WOODRUFF: Last question. We're talking about the United Nations. There is language in this newly proposed U.N. resolution that calls for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq only until full elections are held which might be as soon as the end of next year, 2005. Do you realistically believe that Iraq is going to be stabilized and clearly on a path to democracy as the president keeps saying he wants by such an early date?
RICE: We will see. And, of course, all of these U.N. mandates for multinational forces are reviewed periodically. There's nothing new in that. If they expire, they could always be renewed if necessary. People will look at the circumstances on the ground and see what is needed. But I do know that the Iraqis want, as quickly as they can, to take responsibility for their own security. We want them to. They need our help for now. They said -- the government said that yesterday that it needs our help. It said yesterday the prime minister, that he thanks the coalition and the American people for the liberation of Iraq. Because Iraq now has a chance to build a different kind of future and when you have a different kind of Iraq in the Middle East, you're going to have the beginnings of a different kind of Middle East.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser to President Bush. I spoke with her earlier today.
Coming up, the Democratic party gets a boost in South Dakota in its effort to take back control of the House.
WOODRUFF: Now, we turn to the battle for control of the House in our Wednesday edition of campaign news daily. With a victory yesterday in South Dakota, the Democrats have won two straight special elections for seats in Congress. The question is, can they translate those victories into momentum and retake control of the House? Here now CNN's congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Democrats were jubilant about Stephanie Herseth's victory.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It means the Democrats are on a roll.
HENRY: Democrats note President Bush carried South Dakota by a wider margin than Texas four years ago and Tuesday's win comes on the heels of a special election pickup in Kentucky.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think it give the Democrats some momentum given historically how they've had difficulty picking up special election seats and we've done that now twice prior to November.
HENRY: But Republican leaders insist this will not translate into a Democratic takeover. They note their candidate Larry Diedrich started 30 points behind and lost to Herseth by just two points.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's a tidal wave where our guy might lose 28 points in just a few weeks sounds like a tidal wave in our direction, not theirs.
HENRY: Democrats think they're setting the stage for more upsets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to win in the red states in order to take back the House. I think we've demonstrated that we not only will fight in the red states, we will win in the red states and they will bring us a Democratic majority.
HENRY: Democrats believe rural and blue-collar voters are concerned about the president's policies on Iraq and domestic issues and this could be a sign that major upheaval is coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know in '94, we know in 1980 that it is possible to have elections that have a wave and may well be that South Dakota and Kentucky are precursors to that.
HENRY: Judy, House Majority Leader Tom Delay told reporters a short while ago that there will be no national implications from this race and he believes Republicans will take the seat back in November so it won't matter. Also Republicans going on the offensive as saying there could be bad news here for Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. He has a tough reelection race in South Dakota. Republicans believe that since South Dakota has had a split congressional delegation over the years. Now that there's a Democrat that been elected to the at large House seat. That could be bad news for Daschle in November. Daschle's staff put out a memo today saying that's hogwash. They say there's nothing but good news from the Herseth victory for them.
Judy, the bottom line is that the election results are in and now the spinning has begun about what it all means -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: One side seeing a dark lining, the other one seeing a silver lining. All right, Ed, thank you very much.
With me now to separate this out a little bit more is Amy Walter of "The Cook Political Report." She covers the House of Representatives.
All right, who's right, Amy? Is the Herseth win a in South Dakota bellwether for Democrats or not.
AMY WALTER, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": I want to be a little careful about calling it a bellwether for something. Certainly, Democrats have every reason to be in a great mood. They picked up, as is pointed out in the story, their second special election win in a Red State, a Republican-held state. It's good news.
But trying to read too much into this in terms of what it portends for the future I think is a little dangerous. Hand here's why. Stephanie Herseth was the best candidate Democrats could have gotten in that state. She was an A candidate. She started off the race, it was an open seat, but she was almost the incumbent. She was so popular, well-known. She had run before.
Larry Diedrich was a good candidate, but he probably a B candidate. And in the absence of any sort of wave on behalf of Diedrich, the A candidate beat the B candidate.
Now B candidate can be an A candidate if the president were doing better. I think in a state like South Dakota where it's so heavily Republican, a strong, popular president, that might have helped put Larry Diedrich over the top. In the absence of that, it became Herseth versus Diedrich and Herseth pulled it out.
WOODRUFF: That's an interesting lesson for Republicans to take from that.
At the same time, Amy, Democrats are clearly energized by this. Is it possible we could see some kind of a sweep?
WALTER: There are a lot of comparisons now made between 2004 and 1994...
(CROSSTALK) WALTER: ... when Republicans took control of Congress and they picked up 52 seats that year. And nobody had seen that coming. And that's the Democrats making that case today which is we didn't see this wave building in the summer for Republicans. Democrats, this wave is building slowly and we may see that peak a little bit later on.
But here's some big differences between those two years. The first is number of open seats. There very few of those that are competitive this year. 1994, at this point in the spring of 1994, Democrats already had 28 open seats. There aren't as many seats in play this year either as there were in 1994.
That year, spring of '94, we had 108 seats considered competitive, 72 of those were Democratic seats. Today, just 37 competitive seats. And pretty much evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
Then you put on top of it, redistricting which has made incumbents safer. I think redistricting has become so sophisticated we can make these incumbents virtually lost proof, 98, 99 percent reelection rates for the last two cycles.
So you put all those together, structurally there are big hurdles for Democrats to get over. They only need 11 seats, but the irony is they need fewer, they just need a stronger wave than they did in '94.
WOODRUFF: Still a lot of fun to look at this and see what it does or doesn't portend.
All right, we're going to leave it there. Amy Walter, thanks very much. Hope to see you again soon.
We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: Just a short time ago, we showed you John Kerry answering reporter' questions in Tampa, Florida. Our own Candy Crowley is there. She was taking notes, listening very carefully. She's with us now. Candy. tell us what more he had to say.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically a fairly Iraq-centric news conference as the president prepares to go overseas, as the U.N. works on this resolution.
Senator Kerry said, look, he's glad that the president is at the U.N. working on this resolution. But he said, you know, when the president goes overseas, what we really need are resources and manpower from other countries to move into Iraq to stop what he called a backdoor draft, which is people who are now serving on the time for which they volunteered over in Iraq. That was basically the message he wanted to get out.
He was pressed further on that, saying, yes, he thought the president did have the leadership, all though the mainstay of a lot of Senator Kerry's speeches has been look, these alliances are so shredded, it's going to take a change of guard. But the Press already said, yes, he did think the president could get some more boots on the ground.
He was also asked about Chalabi and having fallen out of disfavor with the White House. Senator Kerry said he met with Chalabi in London several years ago and made a determination then that's not a man the U.S. should be dealing with. But he accused the Bush administration of falling for Chalabi's hook, line and sinker.
Other than that, he talked a little bit about how Bush could go about getting others to come into Iraq. Saying if we gave them responsibility, some say so in reconstruction, I think they would bring in troops. Adding that particularly when reconstruction starts to go well what the area really needs are Muslim troops on the ground, a point that he has made before.
So, as I say, basically an Iraq-centric news conference after he is now wrapping up what's pretty much a day and a half of campaigning in Florida. We're going to head for another battleground state, another speech tomorrow about redefining the military for terrorism. That will be done in another battleground state, Missouri -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley traveling with John Kerry. John Kerry getting a word in edgewise as the president pretty much dominates the headlines these days with the news out of Iraq. Thank you, Candy.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: That's it for this June 2 edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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