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Bush Refuses to Discount al Qaeda-Iraq Connection; Kerry Mum on V.P. Selection; Republicans Push for Vote on Same Sex Marriage; Electoral College Favors Kerry

Aired June 17, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: From Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

It is a frightening thought for many Americans that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden might have tried to team up, and it is a possibility that President Bush refuses to dismiss, one day after the 9/11 commission threw more cold water on the idea of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection.

We begin with Kathleen Koch, who's at the White House -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the Bush administration continues to staunchly defend its long-held belief that Saddam Hussein's regime had what the Bush administration calls well-known and long established ties to terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda.

That just a day after the 9/11 commission did conclude that it could find no evidence of a collaborative relationship between the two and no evidence that Iraq or al Qaeda collaborated -- cooperated, I should say, in the 9/11 attacks.

Well, President Bush, this morning, following a meeting with his cabinet, insisted to reporters that that finding is not inconsistent with what his administration has been saying.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda, in the Sudan.


KOCH: The president was also asked about an order by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to hide a prisoner in Iraq from the Red Cross, starting back in November. That, an apparent violation of the Geneva Accords.

And President Bush told reporters that he spoke with the defense secretary this morning for the very first time about that and he was very supportive, saying that Rumsfeld is doing a fabulous job, that he's never disappointed in his defense secretary.

Rumsfeld just concluded a briefing where he said he acted at the request of CIA director George Tenet. Rumsfeld says the man in question was always treated humanely, and he disputed whether or not the act had violated any international laws.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: That I think it's broadly understood that people do not have to be registered in 15 minutes when they come in. What the appropriate period of time is, I don't know. It may very well be a lot less than seven months. But it may be a month or more.


KOCH: Rumsfeld said that the reason behind this request to hold the man secretly is classified, and he would not reveal that. This afternoon, Rumsfeld would only say that this man is believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam, an organization that the U.S. has described as a terrorist organization -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kathleen Koch with the latest from the White House. Kathleen, thank you very much.

At this hour, the president is heading from the nation's capital to Washington state, a campaign battleground. He'll take part in a fundraiser for Congressman and GOP Senate candidate George Nethercutt.

But the headline of Bush's western swing may come tomorrow when he is introduced in an event in Nevada by John McCain. This comes after reports that John Kerry unsuccessfully courted his Republican colleague to be his running mate. Not to mention the history of frosty relations between Bush and McCain.

John Kerry is in Detroit, Michigan to raise campaign money this evening and rival turned supporter Al Sharpton is traveling with him. Sharpton tells CNN that he has shared his thoughts on Kerry's vice presidential options with the nominee in waiting. This week, Kerry appears to be stepping up his search and his quest for secrecy.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Mum's the word, but John Kerry sure loves to keep us guessing.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm amused by these stories that say what I was doing yesterday or not doing yesterday. I mean, I've never said anything to anybody and I'm the only one who knows what I was doing yesterday.

How are you doing? How is Oklahoma?

WOODRUFF: At the capital yesterday, he made time for teenage tourists but none for reporters who staked out his closed-door meetings. It was all very hush-hush, and the senator left without giving an inch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Kerry, how was your meeting with Gephardt? Yes, no?

WOODRUFF: But we do know that he met for more than an hour with his former rival, Congressman Dick Gephardt, a fixture on the V.P. short list, and he may meet with other possible contenders.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, retired General Wesley Clark and Florida Senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson were all lurking around Washington this week, possibly hoping for an audience with Kerry.

Meanwhile, with a presumptive nominee sequestered in the capital yesterday, another running mate wannabe was sounding cautious in New York.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants this process to be confidential and private which, by the way, I think is exactly what it should be. And because of that, I'm going to honor his approach, which I think is the right approach, and remain silent.

WOODRUFF: Leaving all of us to keep doing what we've been doing: waiting.


WOODRUFF: And so let's talk more about Kerry's vice presidential search with a reporter who's been following the process, Jim Vandehei of the "Washington Post."

Jim, what are you hearing? What are you learning?

JIM VANDEHEI, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We're hearing what you just said, that none of us really know exactly where he's going with this ticket at this point.

He's definitely getting down to the final minutes here where he's going to make a pick in the next couple of weeks. We'll probably see an announcement in early July so they can build momentum heading into the Democratic convention at the end of July.

Remember, the Olympics come in August and then you have the Republican convention. So they really want to have a big month in July and a lot of momentum heading into the fall.

WOODRUFF: Let's go down and tick off some of these names.

John Edwards. A lot of speculation about whether Kerry would maybe overcome some personal distance between the two and pick John Edwards. What do you hear about that? VANDEHEI: There's no doubt that he's the fan favorite of Democrats here in Washington and a lot of Democrats outside of Washington. People love his charisma.

And if there is one big knock on Kerry, people think he doesn't bring much excitement to this race and John Edwards might do that. He's very well spoken, had a good message that worked well in the primaries.

But there was sort of a frosty relationship between the two during the primary, especially during the ending days where it got sort of personal between the two.

Aides say that that's been worked out for the most part but I know Kerry has not signed off on it at this point. And if Edwards doesn't get it, it will probably be more because Kerry decides that he doesn't sort of meet that threshold of having the stature to run the country in wartime if something were to happen to him.

WOODRUFF: What about Tom Vilsack, does he meet that standard?

VANDEHEI: It seems in Kerry's eyes that he does. He's a governor. He has a lot of experience. Kerry seems personally sort of in tune with him. They have a good relationship.

Not really well known here in Washington. Iowa is probably sort of a Bush state. Even if it is a swing state, it has a small number of electoral votes. Unclear how much he really brings to the ticket in the eyes of many Democrats.

WOODRUFF: Wesley Clark?

VANDEHEI: I think his stock is probably falling a little bit. Didn't have the best performance during the -- during the campaign when he was running against Kerry. Would bring some national security gravitas to the ticket, but Kerry feels that he's already past that threshold.

WOODRUFF: Either one of the Florida Senators?

VANDEHEI: Florida is big. It could be the make or break state. Sort of that and Ohio, the two states that everybody's looking at to see which way this election goes.

So I think both of them are very much alive. I think maybe Graham more than Nelson, just because he has more experience working with Kerry and Kerry seems to be more comfortable with Graham.

WOODRUFF: And Dick Gephardt?

VANDEHEI: I think he's the most interesting guy out there, because I think John Kerry is very comfortable with Dick Gephardt. He said early on that, had he dropped out of the race, he would have endorsed Gephardt. I think he definitely has a nice personal relationship with the guy. A lot of people feel like he might not bring any energy at all to the ticket, sort of a knock on Gephardt, both when he was minority leader and then as a presidential candidate. He said he really never excited people and never was able to move beyond that base of labor supporters that have sort of kept him in the political game for the last couple of years.

WOODRUFF: Any surprise names we should be prepared for?

VANDEHEI: I mean, I would be surprised if one of these names that we talked about got it. It always seems that at the end of the day, the person that gets picked is someone that we're not talking a lot about.

So I think a lot of names out there. You know, Bill Richardson, maybe a female vice presidential candidate, which some Democratic aides said is not likely. Sort of several women, governors, that fit that mold.

You know, and there's always this idea of a unity ticket. I know Kerry is personally very intrigued by this idea. It's not going to be McCain. As reported earlier, McCain's going to be campaigning for Bush next week. But there's a Bill Cohen or other Republicans out there I think that Kerry may flirt with.

WOODRUFF: All right. John Vandehei, acknowledging that he's guessing along with the rest of us. He's just doing a little more educated guessing.

VANDEHEI: There you go. Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Jim, thank you very much. It's always good to see you. We appreciate it.

And the Commission on Presidential Debates has finetuned its ideas for the fall. The proposal calls for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. There would be a moderator for each of the debates but no panel of journalists to ask questions.

The first debate would be September 30 in Miami and would focus on domestic issues. The vice presidential debate would be October 5 in Cleveland. The October 8 presidential debate in St. Louis would be a town meeting format with an audience asking questions. And the final presidential debate would be October 13 in Tempe, Arizona. It would focus on foreign policy issues.

Well, some Republicans are pushing for a showdown over gay marriage with an eye toward putting Democrats on the spot. Up next, I'll ask Senator Rick Santorum what he hopes to accomplish.

Also ahead, the electoral map according to our Bob Novak. And Bob is going to be along with a new snapshot of the race for the White House.

And later, Bill Clinton on film and in print. I'll be joined by two featured players in his story, producer Harry Thomason and Whitewater figure Susan McDougal.


WOODRUFF: Supporters of a constitutional amendment banning same- sex marriage may push for a Senate vote before next month's Democratic convention.

But Republican sources tell CNN they are not likely to get the 67 votes needed to pass it.

Republican -- Pennsylvania Republican, that is, Rick Santorum has been a leading proponent of the amendment. I talked to him just a little while ago and I asked him why supporters are pushing it now if the support isn't there?


SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, a couple of things. No. 1, we don't know. This is an issue that I think dramatically under polls. You know, people believe across America in traditional marriage. They understand the value of children being raised with a mother and a father and that the government should be on the side of children and having the most stable family possible to be raised in and hold up that family as the ideal.

And I think once that debate engages, I think you're going to see some shifting of sides around here.

Right now, everyone is sort of just -- sort of lined up behind in sort of a political issue, either behind John Kerry or behind George Bush. And I think once it gets out into the American public that there is going to be a vote and this is a serious debate, I think you're going to see politicians react very differently.

So I don't think this issue will be defined until we have a vote.

WOODRUFF: What do you say, Senator, to a comment like this from your Republican colleague, Senator Lincoln Chafee who said a few weeks ago -- he said, "Well, you just have to come to grips with homosexuality. And once you have done that, you cross a threshold of saying 'this exists.' Then better human nature should come out."

He said, "With all the talk of freedom, freedom, freedom in every sentence by the administration, here's the chance to do something to show they mean it."

SANTORUM: This has nothing to do with coming to grips with homosexuality or coming to grips with any other construct of marriage. It has to come to grips with what is best for children, what is best for society.

And I think most Americans would agree that what's best is children should have moms and dads, and society should be on their side and in constructing a particular institution that says this is the ideal institution which we should all strive for and support. And that's what traditional marriage is all about. That's, you know -- 6,000 years of human history, every civilization known to man has defined marriage in this fashion for the purpose that they all understood, that this was best for society and this was best for children and the continuation of society.

So it has nothing to do with being against anybody or coming to grips with anything.

WOODRUFF: But very quickly again on the prospects not being -- at least at this point looking very good for passage, what do you say to those who say this is just an effort to please the conservative base?

SANTORUM: No. I think this is an effort to make -- to start a debate that needs to be started across America.

The courts in America are changing the definition of marriage without the public having any say in the process. The Constitution of this country is being amended by state courts and eventually, I believe, federal courts.

If we don't engage the American public the way our founders believed they should, which is to amend the Constitution -- you know, the Congress and the state legislature should do so, not the courts, then we're going to be basically caught in the position where the courts are going to make the decision and the people will be completely left out.

WOODRUFF: Senator, a quick question about another subject. And that is proposed new legislation to allow the re-importation of prescription drugs.

One of your Republican Senate colleagues, Trent Lott, said not too long ago, he said, "The huge cost of prescription drugs is a growing problem, especially seniors." He said, "I can no longer explain to my 90-year-old mother why her medications cost more than the same drugs from other countries."

SANTORUM: I can explain to my 85-year-old mother very clearly why that's the case. The case is because Canada sets prices below what the value is of making the drug and researching and developing new drugs.

This comes down to a basic tenet. Do you want new cures for drugs? Do you want research and development to continue in the United States, where we produce over 50 percent of the new drugs in the world?

Or do you want to do what the other countries have, completely shut down those industries by reducing prices on drugs, by mandatory government fiat and eliminating any research on new drugs?

I would argue that this is a trade issue where other countries around the world are not paying their fair share of research and development costs, not a problem of American pricing.

WOODRUFF: Very quick last question. President Bush, how is he looking in Pennsylvania?

SANTORUM: Well, President Bush is doing very, very well. In fact, if you compare with where he was running four years ago, he was pretty much running behind national polls in Pennsylvania.

This time around, he's actually running at or slightly above the national polls, which gives me the impression that, you know, we're going to do very, very well there.


WOODRUFF: Senator Rick Santorum, we talked to him just a short time ago.

Washington's favorite guessing game right now, who will be John Kerry's running mate? Bob Novak will join us, open his notebook in just a minute and tell what he's been hearing.


WODDRUFF: Bob Novak is with us now from Chicago. He has some inside buzz and, Bob, first of all, I understand you have a brand new updated Electoral College map?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes, the Edmunds-Novak Political Report map now shows 291 votes for Kerry, 244 for Bush, a difference of 44.

We took Michigan and put it -- took it from Bush back to Kerry, West Virginia from Kerry back to Bush.

But the interesting thing is Florida. Florida is very, very close. Really too close to call. We give the edge to Kerry, although there is a new USA -- Survey USA poll that shows Bush ahead.

The interesting thing, Judy, if you put Bush ahead in Florida, he would win the presidency 274 to 264. So this is deja vu all over again with Florida deciding who the president of the United States is.

WOODRUFF: Sure sounds like it. All right. Bob Novak with the new electoral map.

Kerry veep stakes. What are you hearing, talking to all the folks you talk to?

NOVAK: Some of the people who are very close to Dick Gephardt a week ago were very enthusiastic a week ago. Thought they were in the lead and it might even be announced this week.

But since then, several supporters of Kerry have said that a Kerry-Gephardt ticket would be same old, same old, the old stuff, not very good. And now, the Gephardt people feel that John Edwards of North Carolina is in the lead. Of course, they don't really know.

There's still talk of an outside chance for John Vilsack, the governor of Iowa, but the favorite right now -- and that probably dooms him -- inside the beltway is John Edwards.


All right. What's this about a bail-out for one of the major airlines?

NOVAK: United Airlines says it needs a bail-out. The other airlines are against it. And this is going to be decided by a three paneled -- three-person panel.

One person, the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, is against the bail-out. The secretary of transportation is for the bail-out. And that leaves it up to the secretary of the treasury, John Snow, who is presumed to be against the bail-out.

But I have learned that the speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, placed a call to Secretary of the Treasury Snow, urging him to come out for the bail-out. He said United deserved it and needed it.

United is headquartered here in Chicago, and several of the employees of the United live in Speaker Hastert's district. It's going to be interesting to see whether Speaker Hastert is able to influence Secretary of Treasury Snow's vote.

WOODRUFF: All right. Finally, Bob, the governor in Mississippi, Haley Barbour, formerly head of the National Republican Committee. You're saying, once again, he's a hero to his own party?

NOVAK: He is a big hero. He won against all odds a tort reform bill in Mississippi, which is known as the haven for trial lawyers. He signed it this week, and he's going on the road up here to Illinois. He's going to be in Sandwich, Illinois. He had been staying close to home until he got that bill passed.

He's going to be in Sandwich, Illinois on July 16 at the 17th annual farmer's picnic hosted by, yes, Speaker Hastert. I think you're going to see Haley traveling around the country, preaching the doctrine of tort reform.

And Judy, this barbecue at Sandwich, Illinois is something we can all afford. We've been talking about these $25,000 events. This one you can get in for $25, so I'm sure you and Al might show up there.

WOODRUFF: It sounds like something we can afford, maybe.

Bob Novak, if we just follow your advice. Bob Novak, with us today from Chicago. Thanks a lot. "Inside Buzz."

NOVAK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily."

The Bush campaign plans to stop running ads for a while, it says, because it says voters won't be paying attention to the race in the coming weeks. The break begins when the latest Bush ad ends its run on June 24. The campaign envisions relaunching ads after the July 4 holiday.

Republicans reportedly expect to raise a record amount of money in their convention in New York City. "The New York Times" says convention organizers have already secured tens of millions of dollars of donations toward their $64 million goal.

The 22nd Hip-Hop Summit is underway in New Orleans with music artists, politicians and other celebrities on hand. Entertainer Russell Simmons is behind the event, designed to encourage more young people to get out and vote.

Was there a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda? President Bush says yes. So why does the 9/11 commission seem to be contradicting him? In a minute, I'll ask one of the commissioners, John Lehman.

And later, "The Hunting of the President." We will preview a new documentary about the long investigation of President Bill Clinton.



ANNOUNCER: He was courted by Kerry but he'll stand by Bush. Why is John McCain joining the president on the campaign trail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain is a Republican. You have to remember that.

ANNOUNCER: Bill Clinton back on the front pages.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got to be careful what I say now, because I'm not supposed to talk about much in my book until my book comes out.

ANNOUNCER: But he's already talking. We'll tell you what he has to say about his impeachment and his affair.

Road rage in Boston?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our roadways are operating at maximum capacity. We cannot handle tens of thousands of vehicles.

ANNOUNCER: Possible gridlock next month due to the Democratic convention has some local politicians fuming.

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The Bush administration may keep insisting there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. But some top Democrats don't seem to be buying it. Today, Bush rival, John Kerry, again, accused the president of misleading Americans when he made the case for war in Iraq. And here is what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Now that the 9/11 Commission has said that there is no evidence to support a collaborative effort -- relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the president has a responsibility to the American people to speak the truth on this subject.


WOODRUFF: President Bush said today that there were numerous contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. But he did not seem to dispute the 9/11 Commission's report that there is, quote, "no credible evidence that Iraq cooperated in the September 11 terrorist attacks."


BUSH: There was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda.


WOODRUFF: A Republican member of the 9/11 Commission, former Navy Secretary John Lehman, will join us a little bit later on INSIDE POLITICS.

At a time when President Bush faces his share of critics, a sometimes disgruntled Republican is now offering a show of support. As we reported, Senator John McCain appears on the campaign trail with Mr. Bush tomorrow. That got our Bruce Morton thinking about the prickly Bush-McCain relationship.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They competed for the presidency four years ago and it wasn't a friendly fight.

BUSH: This is a man who wants to point fingers. You can't lead America to a better tomorrow by calling names and pointing fingers.

MORTON: McCain won in New Hampshire, lost in South Carolina in a mud-filled campaign which included charges that the veteran who spent years in a North Vietnamese prison had abandoned veterans.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2000: Governor Bush had an event. And he paid for. And stood next to a spokesman for a fringe veterans group. That fringe veteran said that John McCain had abandoned the veterans.

I don't know how, if you can understand this, George, but that really hurts.

MORTON: Bush won, of course. And this time, the speculation has been might McCain switch parties and run with John Kerry? He has always said no.

MCCAIN: I have never been offered the job. I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss private conversations I had with any senator, much less John Kerry. I will not be a candidate for vice president of the United States.

MORTON: Imagine, McCain will campaign with President Bush this week in Nevada. Why now?

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Senator McCain could be a huge asset to the Democratic Party and to John Kerry. And the most important thing for the Bush team is to keep McCain on the sidelines or behind the president.

MORTON: Marching in lock step? Probably not.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It would help if the president had John McCain's unqualified and enthusiastic support. But I don't expect him to get that. McCain will continue to be a gab fly and criticize the president when he feels it's justified.

MORTON: But he is a Republican. Anti-abortion, for instance, where the Democratic Party favors abortion rights.

ROTHENBERG: And while some movement conservatives don't consider him a movement conservative, McCain considers himself, I think, a conservative Republican.

MORTON: He'll be campaigning with the president in Reno on Friday, though he may occasionally march to a different drummer as the year wears on.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Former President Bill Clinton is speaking publicly and the first time candidly about the affair that almost cost him the presidency. It is part of a tremendous publicity campaign before the release of his 957-page memoir next week. CNN's national correspondent Kelly Wallace has some details from the former president's tell-all interview.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was front-page news in New York's newspapers. Former President Clinton, for the first time, revealing why he had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The comments part of his in-depth interview with CBS' Dan Rather.

CLINTON: I think I did something for the worst possible reason that just because I could. I think that that's the most -- just about the most morally and defensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything when do you something just because you could. And I've thought about it a lot. And there are lots of more sophisticated explanations, more complicated, psychological explanations. But none of them are an excuse. Only a fool does not look to explain his mistakes.

WALLACE: The former president says his affair almost cost him his marriage to wife Hillary, but says counseling kept his family together.

"We take a day a week and we did, a whole day a week, every week for a year, maybe a little more, and did counseling." Mr. Clinton said in the interview to air Sunday night on be CBS' "60 Minutes."

"We did it together. We did it individually. We did family work."

They are his most in-depth comments since leaving office about his affair with Lewinsky and efforts to impeach him. Mr. Clinton says he never once thought about resigning.

"The whole battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a stain because it was illegitimate," he told CBS.

At a premier Wednesday night of a documentary alleging a 10-year right-wing campaign to remove him from office, he singled out special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.

CLINTON: Mr. Starr and his operation, and Mr. Ewing, they were not just independent renegades, they were the instruments of a grand design.

WALLACE: The premier, part of a full-scale publicity blitz before next week's release of his 957-page book titled "My Life." It chronicles his rise to power in Arkansas and his two-terms in the White House.

He says his greatest accomplishment during his presidency, his economic plan. "I kept score, how many people's lives were better off. How does the buck impact campaign '04? It depends who you ask."


WALLACE: And presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry spoke about the book a short time ago. He says he welcomes it, saying it will remind Americans of some very good years for the United States, especially when it comes to the economy.

He also said, however, it will remind Americans of what he called a terrible mistake. A mistake Senator Kerry says Bill Clinton acknowledges and paid a high price for.

Now, the view from the Bush-Cheney team. A Republican familiar with the campaign's thinking predicts the book will have no strategic impact at all on the campaign, saying that people have pretty much made up their minds already about the former president -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We know there is going to be more than one take on this book.

WALLACE: Many takes.

WOODRUFF: Just as there has been on Bill Clinton. Kelly, thank you very much.

Well, that new film that you just heard Kelly referring to, it has been a controversial take on the Bill Clinton years. Film producer Harry Thomason and Whitewater figure Susan McDougal will be here to talk about their own experiences and "The Hunting of the President."


WOODRUFF: In just a minute, we'll talk to two longtime friends of President Bill Clinton a bout a new documentary called "The Hunting of the President." We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: (AUDIO GAP) to impeachment, the legal dramas that plagued the Clinton presidency are the subject of a new documentary. it is called "The Hunting of the President." It's directed by longtime Clinton friend Harry Thomason. He was to be joining us from New York. We're trying to work on getting him.

But joining us also Susan McDougal who was, of course, the Clintons' long-time partner in the Whitewater venture.

Susan McDougal, you've had a chance to see this film. Is it an accurate portrayal, in your view, of what happened to the Clintons?

SUSAN MCDOUGAL, FRM. CLINTON ASSOCIATE: Well, Judy, I'll tell you this: it is a pretty shocking portrayal. You know I had one small piece in Whitewater. I knew what had happened to me. I knew that Kenneth Starr had asked me to lie about the president of the United States. And instead of doing that, I chose instead to go to jail.

But when I saw how all of it had tied together, the names, the faces of the people involved and how they were connected, it was really a shocking tale of how just a few hands behind the scenes in that time could manipulate media, politics, the public opinion about the president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: Can this really be called a documentary, Susan McDougal, since it was done by someone who was such a close friend of Bill Clinton's?

MCDOUGAL: You know, I think that is a legitimate question. I think what is important here is that they took footage, actual footage, and put it together and showed the actual words of the people involved. The person who does the talking in the film is absolutely neutral.

And I think when you see it, you'll be able to make up your own mind about the truthfulness of it or the veracity of it. I can tell you when I was interviewed, I hadn't been out of jail for very long. And it was tough thing to be asked the questions that I was asked. And they certainly were not partisan in any way. They were tough, they were aggressive.

And you'll see if you see some of the film, that some of those questions hurt very deeply. And to watch it was a very hard thing to do.

WOODRUFF: Susan McDougal, as everybody knows you spent 18 months in prison because you refused to answer questions surrounding the Whitewater issue before a grand jury.

You say that Ken Starr was asking you to lie. But other people are saying -- why did -- why were you willing to put up that long with prison in order to protect your friends Bill and Hillary Clinton?

MCDOUGAL: I wouldn't do it for Bill and Hillary Clinton. I wouldn't have done it for anybody. It wasn't about that.

It was about the fact that this man worked for the government of the United States of America. He came threatening me and threatening my family that if I did not lie about Bill Clinton and say that the David Hale story was true, that Bill Clinton had asked David Hale to loan $300,000 to give to Bill Clinton for a campaign, that if I did not back that story up, that he was going to put me in jail, and people that I loved.

And when I went to ask them what is it exactly you want me to say and what is it you're going to do for me, they told me that they would give me probation on any charges that I had been convicted of and that I had to that day to say yes or no whether I'd back the story up. And when they did that, the final pressure, I said to myself this is not going to happen.

It took a long road for me to decide to spend, you know, almost two years in jail for that. But I think it was an important thing to do and I don't regret doing it. And I wouldn't give back a day of it.

WOODRUFF: Well, of course, Kenneth Starr gives a different version of this and says he did not ask you to lie. He was simply trying to get information.

But let me ask you a different question, Susan...

MCDOUGAL: They paid David Hale $135,000 in cold hard cash to lie. They gave Jim McDougal a reduced sentence. And in fact I did more time than either one of them. And both of them were convicted of huge crimes and stealing millions of dollars, all because they were willing to tell the story that Starr wanted.

And if you look at that, just from any perspective, you have to agree that that really smells.

WOODRUFF: I know -- I know you obviously are very passionate about all this and feel so strongly. But my question is about the movie. Obviously, this country, there are many different opinions about Bill Clinton on the part of the American people.

My question is could this documentary dredge up memories of controversies that some people had sort of let, you know, slip into the past, dredge up that controversy in a way that could not only hurt Bill Clinton, it could hurt the Democrats right now?

MCDOUGAL: You know, you don't have true feeling for someone if you aren't willing to look at the good and the bad. And the great thing about Bill Clinton is he is a fantastic president, a terrific president despite his personal failings. And he'd be the first one to admit that.

Looking at Bill Clinton's personal failings and look at what Starr did with $73 million of taxpayer money and more FBI agents than investigated the Oklahoma City Bombing and a report that came out that did not show one single factual wrongdoing by the Clintons, I think, will make people love him even more.

WOODRUFF: Susan McDougal, someone who spent a year and a half in prison and then 90 days in detention. Somebody who still remains a loyal friend to Bill Clinton. Thank you very much for being with us. We appreciate it.

MCDOUGAL: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And our apologies about Harry Thomason, the director of the movie. We had hoped to have him with us but we had some audio difficulties. Our apologies.

Well, fasten your seatbelts. Our next stop is the Boston suburb for a preview of traffic nightmares that could happen during the Democratic convention.


WOODRUFF: Have you ever had the experience of a relative coming to visit and turning your life upside down? Well, then you know just how some Bostonians feel about next month's Democratic National Convention and the potential traffic nightmares caused by very tight security. Here now our Boston bureau chief, Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: That is where the traffic will be coming from?


LOTHIAN: This is the busy square?

MCGLYNN: This is the square.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Just north of Boston, the mayor of Medford points to areas he believe will be gridlocked. Traffic diverted here once a key highway is closed during the Democratic National Convention next month.

MCGLYNN: What I don't want to do is have the city gridlocked all the way through to connecting communities where we can't get fire, police and ambulance service to respond to calls.

LOTHIAN: The mayor of nearby Somerville is concerned, too. His densely populated community will also be forced to deal with detours.

MAYOR JOSEPH CURTATONE (D), SOMERVILLE, MASSACHUSETTS: Our roadways are operating at maximum capacity. We cannot handle tens of thousands of extra vehicles.

LOTHIAN: Both towns have less than a hundred thousand resident. Both mayors are Democrat, both are rooting for a great convention and both are keenly aware of security concerns but they say if traffic becomes overwhelming, they may just put a stop to the detour flow onto their streets.

CURTATONE: We will close certain streets, some of those major secondary roadways.

LOTHIAN: Boston area traffic, challenging on a good day, is expected to be even more trying during the four-day convention. When some roadways near the event's main venue will be closed during late afternoon and evening hours. Now after that, the possibility of redirecting already detoured traffic. Transportation officials say the problem has been carefully studied and the detours have been determined to be the best option but add...

MARY ELLEN BURNS, EVENT TRANSPORTATION SPOKESWOMAN: We have contingency plans if the traffic starts really backing up into these neighborhoods or into these other communities that we would certainly put into effect.


LOTHIAN: What both mayors want is for traffic to be rerouted onto other exits so the burden will be shared. They are also asking for money and/or resources to help manage the expected traffic. Those talks continue between the mayors and transportation officials. At least one senator has called for more aggressive message aimed at commuters to strongly advise them not to even think about driving into Boston during the four-day event -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Some people view this as one big nightmare.

LOTHIAN: That's true.

WOODRUFF: The Democrats, of course, have a different view, of course. Dan Lothian, thank you very much. We appreciate it. I know you're going to be following that right up until the convention and through the convention.

Well, as we've been telling you, an apparent or is it a contradiction between the White House and the 9/11 commission over collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda? I'm joined now by a member of the 9/11 commission. He is Republican and former secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. Good to see you.

Thanks very much for coming by. As you know, the president said today that there is a connection and he said there was a connection, a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. So the question I have, is the commission wrong in what it said yesterday that there appeared to have been a collaboration between the two?

JOHN LEHMAN (R), 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: No, the president is correct. And the commission yesterday said exactly that. What the commission also said was there was no evidence of collaboration on any of the attacks against the United States. But we had previously pointed out that, particularly in Sudan, there is very hard evidence of collaboration on the X gas and other evidence, and additional contacts between Saddam's intelligence service and al Qaeda in the assistance in training in weapons, chemical and biological weapons, anthrax manufacture, and that's what we had in our report yesterday, but unfortunately, the "New York Times" sort of highlighted only one half of that.

WOODRUFF: Well, it seems to me the American people have gotten the impression from this administration over the succeeding months since 9/11 that it was believed that there was cooperation, collaboration. Vice President Cheney, himself, talked about it again this week between al Qaeda and Iraq. The implication being that they had connections that led directly to 9/11. So?

LEHMAN: Yes, I think that implication is not there. It's not supported by the evidence, but the president himself has said, I think a year ago, and has continued to say that there is no evidence that they participated in any way in 9/11. But they have collaborated on weapons, technology and so forth over the years. So it's more an issue of semantics and, certainly, some in the administration may have overplayed this to leave the implication that -- that the intelligence services in Iraq participated or helped plan 9/11 but that's not what the president said and that is certainly not what our evidence supports.

WOODRUFF: So you're entirely comfortable with what the commission is saying and what the administration is saying? You don't see any contradiction between the two?

LEHMAN: No, I don't see any contradiction. I think that there may be a difference in emphasis and I think that, you know, we use fairly judicious evidentiary language and the president has to interpret that. Some people have taken it further than the president has said. I don't see anything that the president said that is contradicted by our commission report but I do see some things that some of the administration people, not the vice president but some others, have carried this beyond what the evidence supports.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. John Lehman. He's a member of the 9/11 commission. It's very good to see you. And thank you for coming by. We appreciate it.

And that's it for this day's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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