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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Ziad Khassawneh; Interview With Vanessa Kerry
Aired July 4, 2004 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, GUEST HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, and 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us. For "LATE EDITION," I'm John King. Wolf Blitzer is away this week.
In just a few minutes, I'll talk with one of Saddam Hussein's attorneys about plans to defend the former Iraqi leader in court.
The longest serving U.S. military unit in Iraq is leaving that country today. CNN's Jane Arraf joins us now from Baghdad with details -- Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the 1st Armored Division, which is also the biggest division in U.S. history, has finally held the ceremony that has convinced its soldiers that yes, indeed, they are going home. They have been here for 15 months. Three months ago, they were on their way home when many of them were turned back to fight the militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in the south. But this morning there was a ceremony packing up their flags and allowing them to head out.
Now, over here at Camp Victory, with the 1st Cavalry Division that has been in country about five months, in charge of Baghdad for three months, there are some festivities going on: some awards earlier, baseball games, runs, and earlier awards given for the Bronze Star for valor to several of the soldiers. Now, they're relaxing and about to hear a band, an all-woman band brought in from the United States especially for today -- John.
KING: Jane, have you had a chance to talk to any of those troops going home? Do they get a sense of mission accomplished, or do they think still mission incomplete?
ARRAF: Probably a little bit of both, John. I mean, certainly their mission has been accomplished here, they believe. And while it was extremely difficult for these young men and women to stay here this long, and we have to understand these are very intense circumstances, it obviously was something that many of them felt they had to do -- John.
KING: Jane Arraf for us live in Baghdad.
Jane, thank you very much.
Here in the United States, the city hit hardest by the September the 11th attacks marked this 4th of July with the ceremony of renewal. The cornerstone of what will be a new skyscraper was laid today where the World Trade Center once stood. CNN's Alina Cho is in New York now with some details -- Alina.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good afternoon to you.
About 500 invited guests were here today; among them, about 100 9/11 family members and the governors of New York, New Jersey, and New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg. A lot of symbolism here today John, as you might imagine. Of course, this is Independence Day.
We're talking about the Freedom Tower. The 20-ton cornerstone was laid here today serving as the first piece of the Freedom Tower. The tower itself will be 1,776 feet tall, symbolic for the year of American independence.
The inscription on the stone, which was a secret until today, the words, "to honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom," signed July 4, 2004.
New York's Governor George Pataki says rebuilding is about keeping an eye on the future but remembering the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEW YORK GOVERNOR GEORGE PATAKI: A tower that will honor the heroes we lost on that tragic day and serve as a reminder that not only did thousands of our friends and family die on this sacred ground, but that they lived, worked, loved and dreamed here too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: The freedom tower is expected to be finished some time in 2008. It will cost about $1.5 billion. What is clear about today's ceremony is that it marks the first step of rebuilding, John, but what the final landscape will look like or when that will happen is still an open question. A lot of that will depend on money, maybe equally as much, public opinion -- John.
KING: CNN's Alina Cho in New York on a momentous Fourth of July. Thank you very much.
And turning now back to Iraq, a tall order for the newly launched government just days old to fight off terror attacks and inspire public confidence to put a country back together.
Joining us now from Baghdad, Barham Salih, the Iraq's deputy prime minister for national security affairs.
Sir, let me start with a very simple question. This government up and running for about a week, give us your assessment so far, especially the security situation.
BARHAM SALIH, IRAQ'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS: Well, we are still dealing with a very tough situation. And we have to be realistic. There are many bad actors in Iraq who are trying to derail our political process and prevent the people of Iraq from building a functioning democracy here.
But at the same time, the government is determined and I am very confident that the people of Iraq are with us in the battle against the terrorists. And we are working hard to build institutions of security with the help of the multinational forces. And so far I would say, good, because we have had some important successes. Our Ministry of Interior and other security agencies have had some other important successes against the terrorists and have been able to thwart some terrorist attacks that were being planned against the people of Iraq.
KING: Sir, some statements we are hearing from officials in the new government, though, are raising some concerns, some of them even disturbing to people here in the United States. A spokesman for Prime Minister Allawi quoted over this weekend as saying that if a guerrilla Iraq believed he was attacking occupation forces in attacking American troops, then that attack would be justified.
Is that your opinion, sir? Is it justified to attack American or other coalition troops?
SALIH: I would find that very surprising to have come from a spokesman for the prime minister. But the prime minister and the cabinet are grateful for the United States and the coalition partners. Your country has helped us overcome tyranny. And in fact today, I just come from a reception at the American embassy celebrating the Fourth of July, in which the president, the prime minister and members of the cabinet were in attendance. And the president spoke reaffirming our gratitude to the United States and the coalition partners without who the people of Iraq would still be condemned to the prison of Saddam Hussein and the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. And so I find that statement both objectionable and also definitely not reflecting the views of the prime minister or the government.
KING: One of the more difficult issues for your new government is amnesty for people who may have supported the insurgency. The prime minister is quoted as saying: There are even discussions with Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric, who of course did encourage some attacks against coalition forces.
What can you tell us about the status of those negotiations? And what has to be required, in your view, for anyone in Iraq, but especially somebody who is a civic or a religious leader, to get amnesty?
SALIH: In fact, the amnesty -- such a law is before the cabinet and is being discussed, has been on the table for discussions over the last week, and I'm sure that those discussions will continue. There is always a very difficult balance that we have to strike between giving people an opportunity back to reintegrate within society and relieving the security problem that may be posed by keeping them out, but at the same time remaining firm against people who have committed atrocities and have committed crimes against the people of Iraq and against the coalition forces that have come to help us overcome tyranny. KING: There have been public statements by those close to Muqtada al-Sadr saying the insurgency should continue. The prime minister in an interview on the ABC television network in this country said that there are some negotiations going on.
Can you help us get between what is being said publicly and, perhaps, any progress that is being made privately?
SALIH: There are contacts with a variety of people who are currently outside the political process. But I can assure you, these contacts and exchanges are all focused on bringing about calm and bringing about an environment of stability and giving people who have not been responsible for crimes and criminal activities a way of getting back into society, while dealing with the terrorist threat that we have to confront and deal with.
KING: There were no Arab troops at all involved in the coalition military operations to remove Saddam Hussein from power and in the months, many months since then. But there are indications, from Jordan's King Abdullah, from the government of Yemen, perhaps even from the government of Bahrain, that they will be willing to take part if asked by the new Iraqi government. I want you to listen briefly here to remarks made by King Abdullah of Jordan in an interview with the BBC.
I'm sorry, sir. We don't have King Abdullah on tape, but he said that, if the new government asked for troops, Jordan would be willing to help. Other Arab governments have given similar indications. Is that welcome, and will you ask?
SALIH: Certainly, Jordan has been helpful to the new government and has been helpful to us during this very difficult transition period. And we appreciate what his majesty has said, in terms of being ready to help us and help the people of Iraq in this difficult juncture.
And the prime minister has also been in touch with other Arab governments, asking them for help in this difficult environment that we're dealing with, and certainly in terms of getting troops into Iraq, to help with stabilizing the security situation, will be something welcome.
Although, in the case of Jordan being an Arab country, there is a degree of sensitivity dealing with the situation, and we are trying to find where -- the best way that these Arab armies and facilities can be helpful to the people of Iraq in this transition period. We have six, seven months ahead of us which will be passed dealing with this terrorist onslaught, trying to revive our economy, and also prepare for elections at the end of this year or early next year. This is a tall order, and I think, the more members of the international community that will come to help the people of Iraq in this area, will be welcomed, but obviously one has to be mindful of the sensitivities that we'll have to deal with, certainly in terms of the neighboring states.
KING: The Bush administration claims a significant achievement in getting a commitment from the NATO alliance to help train Iraqi security and military forces. The commitment was made at the Istanbul summit.
Sir, do you have any tangible commitments yet? Which countries will train your troops, and where and when will that happen?
SALIH: In fact, there are already discussions with the NATO organization, as well as with the individual countries, members of the NATO alliance, to provide training, to provide technical assistance to our indigenous security situations, because, at the end of the day, the solution will be entirely the Iraqi people and their government to deal with the security threat.
Certainly, from a policy point of view, would we consider what is happening in Iraq of consequence to the international community as a whole. Again, NATO and other countries around the world should get involved in helping us deal with the terrorist onslaught that we are confronting.
KING: Sir, you are the highest-ranking Kurd in the new government, and of course in the negotiations to form the new government there was some tension about representation for the various groups. Do you believe that this enterprise will indeed succeed, or is this a trial period, after which perhaps the Kurds in the North would say, you should move ahead with an independence movement?
SALIH: The Kurdish leadership has made a choice. We consider our interests to lie in a democratic, federal Iraq. And we are going to give it the best we have and all the effort that we can muster, because succeeding in building a federal democracy in Iraq will provide the Kurdish people with an environment in which they can also practice and exercise their identity and their rights.
Iraq is a new environment, totally. The era of the leader, of the center, of the man is over. Iraq is a multicommunal nation, and we have a plurality of opinions, and the certainty of terror has been replaced by the uncertainties of politics. And we are taking it in a very serious way, and there are lively debates within Iraq between the various communities, between the various political parties. And I'm sure that this thing will be with us, and that will be an interesting source of news for the journalist community to go along.
KING: Sir, I want to ask you a personal question, if you will. Dozens of leaders have stepped forward, whether from the former Iraqi Governing Council, or in the transition to this new government. Dozens of Iraqi leaders have been assassinated, by those who do not want this new government to succeed.
Do you fear for your own personal safety, sir? Is that situation getting any better?
SALIH: Well, freedom is not cost-free, and you have to be all ready to confront the threats that we have to deal with. But I feel fortunate that, together with my colleagues in the cabinet, we have been entrusted with a very important mission. And I hope that, for the sake of freedom, and for the sake of the future of this part of the world, we succeed. We can succeed, but we need all the help we can get.
This is a very difficult challenge before us, but it can be done, and we must do it, and we will do it.
KING: Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih. Sir, we wish you the best, and we thank you for your time today on "LATE EDITION."
SALIH: Thank you, sir.
KING: Thank you.
And still ahead, the trial of the century. What's in store for Saddam Hussein? We'll talk to the lawyer defending the former dictator.
A power shift in Iraq. How involved is the United States with the new government? We'll talk with two leading U.S. senators.
And later, inside the Kerry campaign. A conversation with the Democratic presidential candidate's daughter, Vanessa Kerry.
"LATE EDITION" continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF SEN. JOHN KERRY: Thank you, Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: From dictator to defendant, this past week, Iraqis witnessed something they thought they'd never see: Saddam Hussein in court answering preliminary charges of crimes against humanity.
Joining us now from Amman, Jordan to talk about the case against the former Iraqi leader is one of his defense attorneys, Ziad Khassawneh.
KING: Sir, thank you very much for joining us today on "LATE EDITION."
ZIAD KHASSAWNEH, SADDAM HUSSEIN'S ATTORNEY (through translator): Thank you. Beginning, I should say good morning -- that gave humanity the civilization that was stolen by the American administration and imposed on the third world.
KING: Mr. Khassawneh, I wanted to ask you this question first. You have not had a chance to meet with Saddam Hussein, is that correct?
KHASSAWNEH (through translator): In spite of all the requests made to all the entities and the free people of the world, we were not granted permission.
KING: When can you go to Baghdad? Sir, how can you defend Saddam Hussein if you cannot speak to him personally? Have you made arrangements now with the new government or with the coalition to go to Baghdad?
KHASSAWNEH (through translator): We say what we do every day to carry out efforts to make contacts with everybody. But still the American administration is rejecting our pleas.
KING: What do you need? Do you need to interview him? Do you need a health assessment?
KHASSAWNEH (through translator): The most basic rights of the defendant is to meet personally with his lawyer and to speak freely with the presence of no one. But these days the situation is different. Everything is done in secrecy. The occupation, tribunal formation, interim government, every other thing is a violation of all the norms and the laws, international legitimate laws.
KING: Well, sir, the interim president of Iraq says he believes that Saddam Hussein can and will receive a fair trial in Iraq by this new tribunal? Do you believe that, sir, or will you try to move this trial out of Iraq, perhaps to the international court of the Hague?
Sir, can you hear me?
Ask our viewers to bear with us during this translation.
Sir, I'm asking you, the interim president of Iraq says he believes Saddam Hussein can and will receive a fair trial in Iraq. Do you believe that is possible or will you try to move this trial to some other international venue?
KHASSAWNEH (through translator): In fact, the defense committee thinks and I think that the court, the trial will not be fair because the court was formed by illegitimate means and is emanating from a government that is interim, that was installed by the occupation, and gave the status of prisoner to the president, and this is legal hegemony (UNINTELLIGIBLE) says anything that's not done according to Geneva and the international law will become subject to the human conscience and the international justice -- and the prisoner-of-war status.
And also, there's another opinion from the international law court that considered that the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) court was something to be abiding by.
Therefore, how can we call this a fair trial while it came from a government-installed court? There should be a balance between two sides. One is the court should come from a legitimate authority. And then the court should be on a secure and safe land. The judge that interrogated the president would not put his face on the camera because he was afraid. So this is not a safe venue.
And how can the committee for defense play its positive role, especially we hear from the news media that the charges against the President Saddam Hussein arrived, 35 tons, 4 million sheets of papers. How can the defense committee read all of those charges and to present all of the evidence and the counter-argument to defend against the charges against the legitimate President Saddam Hussein?
KING: Let me ask you, sir, two more questions.
KHASSAWNEH: I would like to remind the United States and the United States people that the treaty between the United States and the Iraqi government, interim Iraqi government, are void (UNINTELLIGIBLE) agreement, according to the Vienna convention, that all treaties and agreements between the occupying country and the interim government are void because it does not stand on legal grounds.
And an example, the agreement of security between Lebanon and Israel -- and this, as I said before, those conventions are null and void. So the United States and interim government's agreements are null and void.
KHASSAWNEH: ... because the President Saddam Hussein is the legitimate president. He has an immunity according to the Iraqi constitution article 40. The immunity devalidates all of the other things. Also, there's immunity -- are the prime ministers and the foreign ministers they enjoyed. In that context, the international law in 2002, the court of international law in the case of Congo...
KING: Sir, sir, if I could interrupt you.
KING: Sir, with all respect, I hope you get to make that case in court and so the world sees this as a fair trial.
I want to ask you a question. I think any people are curious around the world as to who is paying for Saddam Hussein's defense.
KHASSAWNEH: You may be surprised that there is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and national patriotic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that is guaranteed by all of the laws of the world and we are volunteers to defend the President Saddam Hussein and other prisoners. And we look at this situation in addition to the defense as a defense of the humanity as a whole because of the utter breaches of the laws and international law and the human law and the social international law. That is a clear violation. And that should be confronted by the lawyers. And we are doing that. And we're emphasizing to the world that the violations that were committed by the American administration are shameful.
And that's why we are volunteering. And we spend out of our own pocket as much as we can.
KING: Thank you, sir. We need to end it there. Ziad Khassawneh, a member of Saddam Hussein's legal team. We thank you for your thoughts today, sir.
And we thank our viewers. It's very difficult because of the technological and the translation issues.
Sir, we thank you very much and we hope to have you back as this case proceeds. Thank you, sir.
KHASSAWNEH (through translator): Thank you for CNN. And another greeting to the free U.S. people, the people who will continue the administration's change. The civilization of the United States people are of value to the rest of the world and the developments that are taking place will not prevent us from respecting the American people and the American civilization and the resources and capabilities. And we wish the American people all the best.
KING: Sir, thank you again.
Ziad Khassawneh, a member of Saddam Hussein's legal team.
Thank you, sir.
Is the handover of power in Iraq the start of an exit strategy for the United States? We'll talk to leading U.S. senators when "LATE EDITION" returns.
KING: Joining us now to talk about the implications of this week's historic developments in Iraq, are two leading members of the United States Senate. In his home state of Utah is Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, he serves on the Intelligence Committee. And in New York, Democratic Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey, he is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us on this Independence Day here in the United States.
Let me begin with this question. You just heard a very emotional attorney for Saddam Hussein, who essentially says this process is a sham put forward by the United States, and that the does not believe the former Iraqi president can ever get a free trial in Iraq.
Senator Hatch, let me begin with you. This is critical, the United States' image, in the Arab world in particular, is in bad shape right now. How does the United States and the Bush administration try to move this process along so that it is viewed in the end as a fair process?
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, of course, keep in mind our government turned over control to the Iraqis on the 28th of June. It's going to take some time to try Saddam Hussein and the other people who are accused. And remember, they are going to develop a constitution, probably have it in place by January of next year. This trial will still keep going on, and there may be a lot of changes.
But they've set up a system, 30 prosecutors, you know, various judges, a trial court, an appellate court. And it looks to me like they have a process that really could work quite well, a lot better than Saddam's process was for those people who he murdered. KING: Well, Senator Corzine, let me ask you this: You heard the attorney say that they have not been able to get to Baghdad to see Saddam Hussein. He blamed the United States military for that. They have not received any of the evidence.
I'm not asking you, sir, to defend Saddam Hussein. But I assure you would make the case that for this to stand up, he has to receive a fair trial.
SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: There's going to have to be real transparency. And there's going to have to be a sense of fairness, because I think, John, you talked about it correctly in the framing of it. The United States has an image problem in the Middle East. And it needs to make sure, we need to make sure that we put pressure on the interim government and hold the new elected government and constitutionally authorized government to a fair standard on how this trial works. And I think one of the ways that that can be accomplished is making sure that there are serious international observers, credible international observers that are part of this process all along.
As Senator Hatch said, there is a process that's outlined. It needs to be one that the Arab community will believe gets to a fair result.
KING: Let me ask you both about another difficult issue in the transition of political power in Iraq. And that is, whether to give amnesty and who to give amnesty to.
Now many could say the United States has turned over sovereignty, it is no longer the business of the United States government. Others would argue 140,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq still very much makes it the business of the United States government.
Senator Hatch, let me begin with you. In the case of some one like Muqtada al-Sadr, who has urged people to rise up and attack U.S. and other coalition troops, should he be given amnesty, sir?
HATCH: Well, I think we're a long way from doing that. There's no question we've taken the position that he ought to be prosecuted for the actions that the's done and some of the things that he's caused. And I would hope to see that occur.
The amnesty that they're talking about is for those who really haven't done harm, who haven't killed others, who haven't committed criminal acts and who have been sucked into this process by, you know, by the enemy Iraqi people, you know, terrorists and others and Baathists and the jihadists, who literally have been killing not only Americans, but over 200 Iraqis in the last month.
KING: But Senator Corzine, the interim president of Iraq has said if Muqtada al-Sadr has his militia law down its arms, that perhaps amnesty and perhaps even a voice in the political process. I guess I'll ask your personal opinion, but as you give it: Does the United States government now have any right to say anything about this? CORZINE: Well, I think once you've passed sovereignty, I think we have responsibility to live true to that. And I think it's unfortunate. I think actually we agreed to this before sovereignty passed. It's not unlikely the issues in Fallujah, where we've basically turned over a city-state to the insurgency. And it is a hotbed of this terrorism. And I think there's a real credibility problem on saying that we're going to be tough and then we back away from these kinds of things.
I don't think that there's enough facts out in the public forum yet for any of us to know whether we're going to give this to low level, non-policy makers in the sort of the insurgency and terrorist regime, or whether it's actually going to be higher up in the good chain. I think it's dangerous if we get into compromising of giving amnesty to people who have attacked American men and women, killed American men and women, been responsible for the insurgency.
KING: Senator Corzine, let me ask you this first. Various members of the new government has said with various strength in their statements, that they see meddling from neighbors, perhaps Iran, perhaps Syria. What do we know about that? What do we see specifically that we believe to be true about meddling?
CORZINE: Well, we've had no specific briefings on that in Congress. So I don't know much more than what I am able to decipher from conversations with people who often talk in newspapers. But there are serious reports that Sadr is in close communication and has great support lines with the Iranians.
And that is a very real danger, that the Shia majority will align with Iranian interests, and we'll end up having a theocracy develop, or at least principles of development that are very much in train with how Iran operates in foreign policy.
I think that's very dangerous, and I think it's a real concern.
Similarly, you have problems with Syria and its transportation of terrorist resources into the West Bank. There are lots of issues of great influence here, which I think are still very tricky, and very much unresolved.
KING: Senator Hatch, I want you to stand by on this issue. I want to get your thoughts as well. We're going to take a quick break here.
And coming up, we'll continue our conversation with Senators Hatch and Corzine.
And later, on the record with Vanessa Kerry, as her father, the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, prepares to announce his choice for a running-mate.
Stay with us. "LATE EDITION" continues in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rise of Iraqi democracy is bringing hope to reformers across the Middle East and sending a very different message to Iran and Damascus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator, is it right for the president to make that statement when the new government is 24 hours old (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sending the right message to Tehran and Damascus?
HATCH: I think it's right and I think it's sending the right message. I had breakfast with King Abdullah of Jordan not too long ago, a couple weeks ago. And I have to say that he believes that -- if I interpret his remarks correctly, and they were pretty blunt, he believes that we are doing a tremendously good thing for the Arab community over there by getting rid of tyrants like Saddam Hussein.
Look, there's no doubt that the Iranians are supporting, you know, some of these jihadists who are coming into Iraq and causing a lot of the problems. And they're also supporting the Syrians as well. In fact, the rumor is that the Iranians are very happy to, you know, let the Syrians die right down to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and let the Syrians die for them and do the dirty work for them.
But they also have Iranians coming in there and other jihadists coming in there stirring up trouble. And frankly, I think the Arab community is starting to realize that this is really a step in the right direction to get rid of a tyrant like this, put the pressure on Iran and Syria and let them know that we're not going to put up with this.
There's also some indication that France is behind some of the Iranian moves. And that's starting to irritate an awful lot of people. We're getting a little sick of the French and the way they're acting here and the irresponsibility. And frankly, I always thought more of Jacques Chirac than this. I think he should be condemned for some of the things that he's doing.
KING: I was about to move on. But, Senator Corzine, I want you to jump in on that point. President Chirac said this NATO commitment to train wasn't that big of a deal. He made a point of criticizing President Bush for backing Turkey's entry into the European Union.
Senator Hatch says perhaps they're encouraging Iran. Your views on that relationship?
CORZINE: Well, I don't think they're encouraging Iran, and I do think that it would be better, we would all be well served, if France and Germany would get further along, in making and sharing some of the burdens that are part of this war on terrorism.
But there is a fundamental credibility problem with this administration. It tried to jam much of this down the international community's throats without being straightforward, with a lot of the facts actually not being true to the circumstances on the ground. We've got serious intelligence problems.
We took limited information, and either exaggerated or misinterpreted it. And that, I think, is causing a lot of these problems. That's why we're not being able to get NATO to actually commit the troops. That's why we have $2 billion out of the $13 billion committed from international community to support the reconstruction of Iraq.
And I think, when the president says that Iraq is creating an example of what democracy will be in the Middle East, after one day, when you have the security problems, the economic problems, and all of the other issues that surround the confusion that we have, I think it is premature, and I think it reinforces that credibility problem the administration has, both with the American people, and certainly with our international allies.
HATCH: I'd like to say a few words about that, because I'll tell you, I think one of the worst things that's happening is that we have people in the Senate and the House undermining almost everything the president's doing.
He's been winning. He not only got the resolution from the U.N. He now has a resolution from NATO to have some 30 countries involved in helping us. We're starting to win over the Arab nations. There's no question, there are some bad people there, that aren't doing what's right. But I think it's time to support our young men and women over there. And to do it, since this is off shore, we ought to be looking on to doing what's right.
And everybody knows, who really understands this, that we've made a lot of headway over there. I just was at a freedom festival last night, where a number of our soldiers came back, and they were all behind President Bush. And they were all making the point that they have been doing humanitarian work over there, they've been helping the Iraqis, they've been restoring that country, they've been helping the interim leadership, the Iraqi people, by and large. Except for these pockets of fomentation that are caused by Iran and Syria and other areas, the Iraqi people appreciate all that we've done.
There's 2,200 schools that have been rehabilitated; 120 hospitals up and running; 1,200 medical centers going. The Iraqi currency the most widely traded currency in the Middle East. The oil wells up and running, except for some of the sabotage that's occurring. The country has potable water in places they never had it before.
There are so many changes for the better, and I'm getting tired of the badmouthing that comes because we're in a presidential election. We ought to be behind the president. We ought to be behind our troops. And every time we start badmouthing the president, and badmouthing what's going on over there, I think we're undermining our troops. I think it's time to get with the president.
CORZINE: Supporting the troops is absolutely something all of us do, and to challenge someone for saying that policy is wrong as opposed to supporting individuals...
CORZINE: ... who are in the military, it's just flat-out...
CORZINE: ... that's how our debates have slipped off of focusing on how we actually can get that reconstruction and stabilization back,...
HATCH: ... criticizing the president of the United States, about continually criticizing everything that's going on over there. We've paid a lot of blood over there, and we've done a lot of good things.
CORZINE: We certainly have.
HATCH: And I think they ought to be given credit for it, instead of all the undermining that's been going on on the floor of the United States Senate.
I got up for 55 minutes right before we went on this recess, and I made these points pretty strongly, and I'll tell you. A lot of us are getting sick of it.
You may not like President Bush. I think that's pretty apparent. I'm not talking about you, John, but many in the Democratic Party. That's OK. Fight against him all you want. But let's not undermine our young men and women over there. We're doing what has to be done. We're doing it. We've got to win, and I think we've got to do everything we can to help them there.
KING: I have to break until the -- Senator Corzine, if you want five seconds, I'll give you that, then I need to break in.
CORZINE: I think that we do have to do everything to support our troops over there, and that is by getting the policy right. And we ought to have open debate about that. We ought to find out the things that are wrong. And we ought to correct them, so that our men and women are not at risk.
There's a real security problem there. I want to protect them as much as Orrin does, and as does everybody in the United States Senate.
KING: This debate will play out over the next four months, until the election.
Senator Hatch, I wanted to close by changing the subject quickly to an issue in which you are a critical voice in the Congress. Since the death of President Reagan, there have been some indications, some saying privately that perhaps the Bush administration is prepared to compromise on an issue very close to Nancy Reagan's heart, stem cell research. Have you received any indications that this White House is willing to change its position? HATCH: I know they are looking at it. It's a very difficult problem, and I don't know that we can do it in this hot political atmosphere, but we have, I think, over 60 votes in the Senate for embryonic stem cell research, in the hope that we might be able to resolve and find treatments and cures for these terrible maladies that are afflicting millions and millions of Americans and others all over the world.
And I believe, in the end, I think that the Bush administration and all of us will get together and try to find some way that this great research can go on, with setting moral and ethical standards by the National Institutes of Health. That has to be done, or we're going to have a mess on our hands all over the world. If we do get the NIH involved, I think they'll set the moral and ethical standards that the whole world will follow. And that means no reproductive cloning. It means doing what is right. It means monitoring the scientific approaches in our country, so that they are done with the best efficacy.
And I believe we have a vast majority in Congress that will support that. And I personally believe that in the end the president and those who are in the administration will see that. And we need to support this. Nancy Reagan happens to be right on this.
KING: OK, gentlemen, I want to thank you both. Both issues deserve more discussion in the days and weeks ahead. I thank you both.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, Senator John Corzine of New Jersey, thank you for joining us today on "LATE EDITION," and happy Independence Day to you both.
HATCH: Thank you so much.
CORZINE: Thank you.
KING: And just ahead, we'll go on the U.S. presidential campaign trail. Democratic candidate John Kerry's daughter Vanessa talks about her father's game plan for winning the White House.
And don't forget our Web question of the week: Can Saddam Hussein get a fair trial in Iraq? Vote now at cnn.com\lateedition.
Stay with "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The terrorists are doing all they can to stop the rise of a free Iraq. But their bombs and attacks have not prevented Iraqi sovereignty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As the United States celebrates freedom on the Fourth of July, violence rules in a new democracy. What lies ahead for Iraq? Will the former dictator face the ultimate penalty? The winning ticket: Who will come out ahead in the veep stakes? We'll ask an insider, John Kerry's daughter, Vanessa. Crunching the numbers, we'll get insider analysis from two top pollsters.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN in Washington, this is "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer.
KING: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." In the hour ahead, a conversation with John Kerry's daughter Vanessa about his search for a running mate. And a feisty talk of prediction there, with two leading members of Congress, David Dreier of California and Charlie Rangel in New York.
KING: In such a contested election, no surprise, both President Bush and his Democratic opponent on the road campaigning this 4th of July. President Bush is in one of the big battleground states in this year's election, West Virginia.
CNN's Elaine Quijano is traveling with the president and joins us from Charleston, West Virginia -- Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, John.
President Bush is back on schedule, speaking to a crowd of about 8,000 people here at the state capitol, Charleston, West Virginia. The president had a brief delay leaving the Washington, D.C. area, a mechanical problem with Air Force One on the ground meant that the president had to miss a planned stop at a church here in Charleston.
But the president, as I said, back on schedule now, speaking to this crowd, getting a very friendly, warm welcome from the folks who have gathered here. But West Virginia is an important state, a state the president carried back in 2000 by a margin of about six percentage points over Al Gore.
But a recent poll by the American Research Group found that John Kerry has a slight edge here, about three percentage points, with five electoral votes up for grabs.
The vice president also taking time this weekend to campaign in this state, making a stop yesterday on his bus tour in the town of Wheeling, West Virginia.
But President Bush has visited this area of West Virginia nine times since taking office. This, by the way, not the first time the president has spent part of his Fourth of July in this state. Actually, two years ago, he made a stop here in the town of Ripley, West Virginia for a parade, had a picnic. The president is speaking again today -- John.
KING: Elaine Quijano on the campaign trail with the president in West Virginia.
Thank you, Elaine. And now we turn to the new Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty and the presidential campaign here in the United States.
Joining us for what is always a feisty conversation, in New York, Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, and here in the studio but from the West, Republican Congressman David Dreier of California joining us here.
Let me begin first with a question about Iraq. And I'll let you go first, Congressman Rangel. We're about a week now into this transfer of sovereignty and you get mixed signals depending on who in the new government you talk to, especially on the issue of: Who should get amnesty, how will the security situation move forward?
A quick report card on week one.
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think it's a good week in a very, very bad situation where most Americans are wondering what the heck we were doing there in the first place. Was it worth the loss of a thousands lives to get Saddam Hussein? And really, have we regained any of the credibility we used to have in the international community?
Certainly, there's a handful of people that we picked to run the government of Iraq until, at some time in the future, they have elections. Whether or not it's going to be considered that we've done the right thing or not, the jury, literally is way out.
REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely right. I mean, first of all, happy Independence Day. And I will say that when you think about the great things -- and congratulations to Mr. Federer who just won Wimbledon, I should say too.
Let me say that if you look at what has taken place in Iraq, it's very clear that we now are seeing ancillary benefits.
Charlie, on this Independence Day remark, the fact that you are a great veteran of the Korean War, and we've just now seen the North Korean foreign minister engaged in talks with our Secretary of State Colin Powell to try and de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
That's an ancillary benefit to what we're seeing.
And of course what's taking place in the de-nuking of Libya -- those are positive things. And now to see the enthusiasm that has come from the people of Iraq with Iyad Allawi, who has demonstrated today, at a Fourth of July celebration at our new embassy in Baghdad, his appreciation of the coalition lead by the United States of America.
And we're also seeing, I believe, some other very positive news that isn't getting reported. Four of my colleagues just returned this week from Iraq. And they're seeing, of course, the reconstruction that's taking place, the moves toward political pluralism and the rule of law. And then of course we saw that madman, that blood-thirsty terrorist, Saddam Hussein, on Friday in that courtroom. And we look forward to seeing justice come about there.
So Charlie is absolutely right. It's been a very good week. And yes, it's been a tough time. And there will be tough times ahead.
And as we head toward the election, John, there is no doubt about the fact that we are going to see further loss of life. We've lost this Marine. But we've had some victories just in the last day: We found this cache of weapons, car bombs and other things. And that again is greater positive news.
KING: Well, let's bring the conversation back to here at home. And Congressman Rangel, if you could hold on just a second, I want to bring the conversation here at home.
Congressman Dreier, you've spent a great deal of time on homeland security issues.
One of the questions in this campaign: Did the war in Iraq make us safer or less safe?
And I want to read you something from a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll: Since the United States took the action in Iraq, the threat of terrorism -- 51 percent in this poll of the American people say that it has increases. Only 14 percent say it's decreased.
You obviously don't agree with that, but why is that message not getting out?
DREIER: We obviously are living in a very dangerous world. We know that. I mean, our world changed on September 11th. And this morning we saw the marking at Ground Zero in New York of what took place on September 11th, and are moving ahead.
We thank God for the fact that on this Independence Day we have successfully since September 11th kept all of the conflict off of U.S. soil. And so it is very clear that we are safer, and that many people predicted that we would see further attacks right after September 11th. And who knows? I mean, we may still see an attack here, but we have been clearly safer since September 11th, since we focused on homeland security, and since we've liberated the people of Iraq from a guy who did clearly pose a threat to his region and to neighbors and, frankly, to the entire world.
KING: Congressman Rangel, did the Iraq war make the people of the United States safer?
RANGEL: Of course not. To use Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's example, he says he doesn't know whether we're creating more terrorists than we're killing. Clearly, more terrorists are being taught every day to hate the United States as a result of our occupation of Iraq. And I really think that David's seemingly optimism about what the devil is going on in Iraq, I don't think he's listening to his people or to the polls. We still haven't found weapons of mass destruction...
DREIER: I'm not listening to the people or the polls. What I'm listening to is what's taking place on the ground in Iraq, from our colleagues, from Ambassador Bremer, and some others who are there, and Iyad Allawi.
RANGEL: I hope maturity goes with your birthday today. Enjoy it.
What I'm saying is that more Americans are understanding that we had no business unilaterally getting involved in the war in Iraq.
DREIER: Go tell Tony Blair and John Howard and Jose Maria Aznar...
RANGEL: If this is going to be the David Dreier Show, that's one thing. But I think that more and more people realize that we were misinformed, there was no connection between 9/11, that the American people never would have supported this president if they had known what the 9/11 commission is reporting.
DREIER: I never said that Saddam Hussein was involved in command and control of what happened on September 11th. But clearly there are ties...
RANGEL: Now you're talking about we're rebuilding Iraq. Well, who tore it down in the first place? We did.
And the whole...
DREIER: Saddam Hussein tore down Iraq.
RANGEL: Sure, he did. He was the one that dropped the bombs on his own people. And also...
DREIER: He did. You're absolutely right.
RANGEL: We find that more...
RANGEL: You're bordering on being rude. But it's OK.
KING: I'm going to jump in, gentlemen.
RANGEL: But because it's your birthday it's OK, David.
KING: Let me jump in and ask one more question here.
(CROSSTALK) RANGEL: The truth of the matter is that we are playing war with other people's children, and it's just unfair, and the American people are beginning to feel that.
KING: Let me ask one more question on this, and then, when we come back from a break, we'll talk politics here at home, and I suspect we'll get even more feisty.
But I want to ask this, which is a very serious question. You have a new government just taking hold in Iraq, and of course it's going to be a little rough at the beginning. But one spokesman for the prime minister said that, if an insurgent believed they were attacking Americans because they were an occupying force, that those attacks could be justified.
Is there anything the United States can do about that? It has transferred sovereignty, but it has 140,000 troops on the ground.
DREIER: Well, clearly, I mean, it's my -- I don't know who exactly said that, and I don't believe that to be the case. I mean, we are a very important part of that effort as we pursue stability.
What is it that the people of Iraq want? They want security. And I believe they're on the road toward getting that, in large part, primarily because of the coalition forces, and the fact that we have seen, again, this move toward an established government. And the priority they have, of course, is to go ahead with the election. And, I mean, I think that we'll see full sovereignty after the election. We've taken very bold steps toward that today.
KING: Congressman Rangel, are you confident that there are communications and a process in place between the new government and the U.S. and coalition military command?
RANGEL: It's impossible.
First of all, we have gone into the jaws of hell, because we don't have any friends except Israel in that entire area. And the truth of the matter is, if the Egyptians and the Saudi Arabians and the people that spend a lot of time in the White House and a lot of time at Crawford Ranch would come up and give us some assistance in how do we negotiate an international settlement for a problem that is truly international, as long as the American flag is being held in contempt, then we're going to find people that for whatever internal problems that they had before we got in Iraq are going to use us as the reason for it.
RANGEL: What we're...
DREIER: ...of Jordan has just offered to send troops into Iraq. And so this international force...
RANGEL: Where was the King of Jordan when we really needed him? Now he said if he's requested, he would help this interim government. Well, all of those people should have been helping us in the first place.
DREIER: The fact of the matter is that we're...
RANGEL: We have no friends in the area. We have no...
DREIER: That's just not true.
RANGEL: Well you name them. Are you talking about the coalition government?
DREIER: I've mentioned King Abdullah in Jordan and right now he's working to build that coalition. The world is a safer place because...
RANGEL: That's just not so. The king of Jordan said if he's requested by the so-called government that he would consider helping. The truth is where was he when all of our troops were being killed and continue to be killed. We don't have any friends in the Arab world and you know it.
DREIER: You call this a so-called government. Is it less legitimate than Saddam Hussein's government?
RANGEL: No. But if you're taking the Floridian election as a standard of justice, I suppose that's pretty good. This guy wasn't elected by anybody.
KING: I'm going to take my cue there from the reference to the election in Florida to earn my pay and call a time out. When we come back, more with Congressmen Rangel and Dreier. We'll turn our attention here at home. And then ticket talk. Who will John Kerry pick to be his running mate? We'll get the inside story from his daughter, Vanessa Kerry.
And as the United States celebrates its birthday, we'll get a reading on the country's political pulse from two of this country's top pollsters. Stay with "LATE EDITION."
KING: We're back with "LATE EDITION," and two of our favorite members of the United States Congress, Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, and David Dreier, Republican of California.
Let's bring it home here, to the political campaign here at home. In the week ahead, perhaps even in the next 48 hours or so, we will hear from Senator John Kerry as to who will join him on the Democratic ticket.
DREIER: May I make a prediction? Charlie Rangel is going to be John Kerry's running-mate. If he were smart, he would reach out and select Charlie Rangel. I mean, the two of them have very similar records, very far to the left, and I think representative of the standard Democratic Party view. And so I think that would be the wisest thing.
Are you ready to go for it, Charlie?
RANGEL: I think...
KING: Congressman Rangel...
DREIER: I put that one on the tee for him. My apologies. I want to let you -- you're a Democrat. Your party wants the White House back. Who? Who?
RANGEL: Actually, I am more excited about the fact that more Americans are involved in realizing how important this election is. One of the big indictments of our great country is that 50 percent of those people eligible have not participated. Now, just because of George Bush, people realize that, in cases of peace and war, job and joblessness, hope for the future and getting friends, that Kerry is the only hope.
KING: But not the case against George Bush, but who should John Kerry pick?
RANGEL: I really think that the general, Wesley Clark, is an excellent example. I think our former colleague, Dick Gephardt -- but no matter who he picks, it only means that his chances just go up. As long as you have -- as long as you have Cheney as vice president, and he...
DREIER: All you're going to do is trash our team. Let's hear something positive from you, Charlie.
RANGEL: No. No one has to say anything about your team. It's discredited. Most Americans hate saying anything negative about a president who happens to be the commander in chief, but it's reached that point, David...
RANGEL: When you've lost your credibility.
DREIER: It's a wonder to me, Charlie, that this campaign is as close as it is. I mean, if you look, we just talked about the very successful handover that's taken place in Iraq. We're moving toward elections, security and stability there. We've seen 1.26 million jobs created since January of this year. And I will say, we're reaching out to Latinos and black Americans by virtue of the fact that this president's economic record has seen a decrease in African-American and Latino unemployment, and a surge in minority home ownership, which are very positive things that we're proud to point to.
RANGEL: How many blacks do...
KING: Congressman Rangel, hold on one second. Before you answer his point, I could go home during this segment and start the charcoal and come back, but let me ask you on his point, let me play devil's advocate. This president of the United States has had a tough few months. You had the insurgency. You had the prisoner abuse scandal. And you have, the Congressman noted, what Republicans believe to be encouraging economic news.
But if you look at the polling, the American people don't believe that yet. So with this president having such a rough few months, why is this race tied?
RANGEL: Well, that's because we have not had central stage. We have not been able to land on aircraft carriers in combat uniforms.
DREIER: That was a year ago.
RANGEL: We haven't been able to say mission accomplished. We don't get the attention a president gets. So the real question...
RANGEL: Of course. John Kerry each and every day is making his case, and, as soon as we go to convention, there's going to be a real boom up in terms of popularity, as well as when he picks his vice president.
And so to compare someone...
DREIER: I agree. You're going to see improvement on both of those fronts.
RANGEL: To compare someone who is not the president of the United States (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the negative ratings that the president is getting, I think that this is pretty good for where we are right now. And in terms of what has happened with other candidates that have been this far down, in terms of favorability I think it looks pretty good for us.
KING: Let me ask you this. This is a test of whether I get a paycheck next week, too. You've got 30 seconds each. Starting with Congressman Rangel, what is the one thing your candidate, Senator Kerry, needs to do most? The one thing. 30 seconds.
RANGEL: He has to make certain that Americans trust him, that he has the credibility, and that, as far the war's concerned, he's got to reach out to all of our friends and restore the integrity to this great country that we once had.
KING: Congressman Dreier, the one thing you would like to see the president do to improve his standing?
DREIER: Continue to build on this great record that he has. We are so proud of the fact that we've been able to have success in Iraq. We're very proud of the economic recovery. The American people all across the spectrum, John, are enjoying those kinds of benefits. Strong, bold, decisive leadership; the president has shown that. And I'm convinced that the American people will appreciate it.
KING: We would like to say that we scripted this all out. We didn't. Sometimes you get lucky in live television.
Congressman David Dreier finishing that point about the president, as we watch President Bush shaking hands in West Virginia, campaigning on this Fourth of July. We thank you both, Congressman David Dreier of California. Congressman Charlie Rangel from New York.
RANGEL: Happy holiday.
KING: Have a festive holiday, if it hasn't been already.
Up next, a check on what's making news at this hour.
And later, up close and personal with Vanessa Kerry. Find out what she said -- what she and her father, excuse me, disagree on. More "LATE EDITION" straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That flag stands for the best hopes of all Americans, and it belongs to all of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on the campaign stop. Right now the buzz is all about who the Massachusetts Senator will select as his vice presidential running-mate?
Earlier today, I spoke with Senator Kerry's youngest daughter, Vanessa Kerry, about her father's campaign and his potential choices in the number two spot on the Democratic ticket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Thank you for joining us. I know children of all ages like to rebel against their parents, so we're going to give you a chance on "LATE EDITION" to unveil your Dad's big secret. Who will be his running-mate?
VANESSA KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S DAUGHTER: You know, I honestly wish I knew. I spent 40 minutes at dinner with him last weekend trying to tweak it out of him. I was using all sorts of reasons. I was saying, "Dad, I'm your daughter. You have to tell me -- family." And he just laughed.
I have no idea. And I think the decision, whoever it is going to be is going to be somebody who is ready to be the next president of the United States. And, you know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) into office at any point and I think who is really going to be good for this country and is going to complement my dad well.
KING: Well, tell us about the process. You say you're at dinner with your dad trying to get information out of him and he won't share. Has he asked your advice? Has he asked at all what you think, who your favorite might be?
V. KERRY: One of my favorite qualities about my dad is that he does seek to see the spectrum of what people think and he listens to people and he listens to their opinions and their thoughts and their ideas. And I very much appreciate that about him.
And, you know, certainly a lot of names have been discussed at one point or another. And I think he's going through the process, as everybody does. And to be honest, I don't know what the full process is, but I have the utmost confidence in my dad that he is going to pick a wonderful vice president.
KING: As voters watch this, this is a big decision that any candidate for president has to make, any nominee for president has to make. And people watch this not only to see who he will pick but how he makes decisions. Because if your father is elected president, obviously he'll have to make many momentous decisions. Tell us about how he goes about big choices in life. Does he consult a lot of people? Does he then go off by himself? Does he keep things to himself? How does he go through this process?
V. KERRY: Everyone always looks for a magic formula, I think, to label somebody or get an idea. I've seen my dad make decisions in many ways. I think you have to think -- it depends on what the decision is, the timing of the decision.
But usually, what I've seen my dad do is he really listens to all the sides. He listens to the people who are pro, and he listens to the people who are against, and he takes everything into account, and then he does sort of go off and weigh them. And in the end, I think you've got to go with your gut. And I've seen my dad do that a number of times.
But you also have to be listening, and you have to be acknowledging, and you have to make sure that you have all the information that you need. And my father definitely does that. He is always well researched. And I really -- I am definitely grateful for that. And I think that when you look at a quality for the president of the United States, I think that is one of his strengths.
I think that his ability to see the complexity of issues, to not just see the black and white, and to be able to adapt to what's happening in this country and happening with times is an extraordinary quality and one that will make him an incredible president.
KING: He will be campaigning, I believe, marching in a parade today with one of the candidates, the governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack. Others mentioned, of course, include Senator John Edwards, Congressman Dick Gephardt, Senator Joe Biden, and a number of others are mentioned. Do you have a personal favorite, Vanessa?
V. KERRY: I am not even going to remotely step into that question. Thank you, though.
KING: Well, you've been campaigning across the country on your dad's behalf. Do you get any sense of perhaps what he needs? What might help the campaign?
V. KERRY: I think truthfully all those candidates have incredible strengths and all those candidates have been unbelievable public servants. And I think we'd be lucky to have any one of them serve.
KING: I'm going to try one more on this issue. And that is if he won't tell you who it is, has he told you or anyone in the campaign given you any firm hint of when it is?
V. KERRY: The only thing I can tell you is it's not today. That's about all I know. And maybe it is and I don't know. Things change so fast on the campaign. I honestly don't know. And it's been interesting trying to plan some of my life. sort of saying, well, am I okay to go do this now? You know, everything's been pretty cryptic around it. I think he wants to make sure he makes a very wise decision for this country. So we are all waiting.
KING: As we wait, your father's choice to share the Democratic ticket, we are also a little more than a week away, most likely, from a vote in the United States Senate on a proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw gay marriages. That is an issue on which you have some disagreement with your dad. Can you tell us about that?
V. KERRY: Well, you know, I mean, I can tell you. I think it's a very difficult issue, and I want to -- the first thing I'd like to say about this issue is I want to make sure that this country stays very focused on the issues that, you know, are not the wedge issues but the issues that this country needs to be talking about now and today and, you know, going into November: things like the economy, lowering health care costs for all Americans, making sure that all Americans are insured, making sure that all American children are getting good educations from kindergarten on, making sure that this country is safer today, tomorrow, and that we have a better standing in the world.
And those are things that I know my father is talking about as we travel this country. We are on a bus tour right now celebrating the spirit of America. We're traveling to smaller towns, rural parts of the country, to make sure we're addressing the issues that are facing this area.
For example, over half the soldiers that have been killed in this war have come from places where populations are less than 20,000. We need to be talking about this and these are the issues that are the most important. And I think there are other issues that certainly we should be able to talk about, and we need a White House where we are allowed to engage in that debate.
And, again, to reiterate with my father on this issue, what is very important is that he listens to all sides, and I think that we need to be careful that we aren't just using the constitution for political means. That is an age-old document, and we need to make sure we are respecting it.
KING: But he supports civil unions. So he will vote against this constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriages, I assume. But he supports civil unions. You believe he should support the marriages. Is that right?
V. KERRY: I think this is a bit of a generational issue. If you were to poll generations and you see what younger people are talking about, younger people are much more open to gay marriage than I think some of the sort of older generation, my father's generation.
What we need to make sure that we're really clear on about my dad's position, though, is that he feels, you know, it's very important that there are completely equal rights under law: equal adoption rights, equal inheritance rights, equal hospital visitation rights, and that we make sure that we are respecting the ability -- we're not discriminating against one population against another.
And I can tell you through a number of my gay friends that in the end what really matters is that we get equal rights. And this is a process. This country is a political process. And this subject is going to continue to be discussed over and over. And I think that my father has certainly been very vocal and straightforward on his position. And I think the fundamental point in his position is that there are equal rights under law, and that's where he stands.
KING: It is remarkable for all this campaigning, the millions and millions spent on advertising. If you look at the polling, many Americans still say they don't know much about your dad. Obviously, he's coming out of the Senate. This is his first foray into the national political stage.
Tell us something that perhaps nobody knows as yet. I was noticing even as he prepares for his acceptance speech at the convention, he writes it out longhand. Here in the 21st century, laptops and wireless communications, he's writing things out longhand. Tell us something about your dad and why is that? Can we buy him a computer?
V. KERRY: Dad's a bit of a poet, if you will, and I think he's -- I don't know if he's shared any of his poetry. Some of it is actually quite good, and some of it we won't comment on.
But to be fair, I think it's just part of the process. I mean, it's interesting. I actually write out my papers and my outlines longhand, still, too, and then will ultimately go to a computer. I think everybody just has a study habit, and for him it's just part of the writing process.
And trust me, he is very computer literate. I was traveling for a while, and he managed to -- he kept in excellent touch with me by e- mail all the time, probably more so than a child would like. Every time you go you're thinking, "Oh, man, another five-page letter from dad."
But you know, I think this country's just getting to learn -- or is just learning who dad is. He's the challenger. And there's been a lot of press and things that have been happening in the past, whether it is, as you know, the prison scandal or he's been going into whatever is happening in Hollywood or whatever is distracting this country.
We need to -- you know, we are just coming into the convention, and we are just coming into the beginning of this country getting to know my dad. They are really going to love what they see. He is a man of integrity, a man of good ideas, and who is really doing this for the better of -- you know, betterment of this country.
And I think, you know, I saw him back in Iowa. An 8-year-old boy stayed up till 10:00 at night to see us at this one location. And you know, he just asked a very simple question, which is the crux of what all this is. And he said, "Why do you want to be president of the United States?" And dad answered -- took a breath, and said, "Because I want to make sure that we leave this country and world a better place for you and your friends." And that's what this is all about. And he is not seeing that happen now, and he'd like to be part of making sure we change that.
KING: I want to close with a question about your role in this campaign. You're on leave from Harvard Medical School to campaign for your dad. If you look at the studies, by the tens of millions, you're a voting bloc. Single women, are not voting. Young single women are not voting. Why do you think that is, and what can you do about it?
V. KERRY: Well, you're right, actually. There are tens of millions of young single women, and there are lots of other young people, young men as well, who are not voting. There are millions of Americans who are not engaged in this process. And I think that my goal, my brother's goal, my sister's goal in being involved in this is to try to at least really address some of that youth vote.
More young people voted in '92 for Clinton than we saw since Kennedy, and that was a huge part of the reason he was elected. That kind of turnout again could make a huge difference.
And I think the big thing is that people have felt the political process hasn't reflected them, that there hasn't been a candidate in office who has -- I mean, I think Clinton did a good job to do this, but recently, anyway, there hasn't been a candidate that necessarily is addressing their needs. The cost of college today, the burdening cost of health care, starting a new family, trying to start a small business, and these are issues that we're all facing. They're incredibly important. And my dad has been going around trying to talk about these issues and how they impact young people and sort of the rising generation of Americans. And if I can do anything to be a part of that, I would love to be. And so, my family and I are all dedicated to being a part of this campaign, being an extra set of eyes and ears for dad. And hopefully being able to pass his message on.
KING: Well, we thank you for taking a break from campaigning in Iowa to join us on LATE EDITION. And if you can pry that name of the running mate out of your father any time today, give us a shout. Vanessa Kerry, thank you very much.
V. KERRY: Thank you very much.
KING: So who should John Kerry pick? Two polls just lay it on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when we come back. Stay with us. "LATE EDITION" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON: The most important thing is that he pick somebody that he believes with all of his heart would be a great president if he dropped dead, got shot, was in a plane crash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Former President Bill Clinton on "Larry King Live" giving his advise to John Kerry on how to pick a running-mate. Qualifications to govern in an emergency should be at the top of the list, of course.
But what about boosting the ticket before the elections? Helping us sort all of that out, looking at the veepstakes and the broader election are two experts here in public opinion. We have Republican pollster Michael Cohen and Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin.
Gentlemen, let me just start with this simple question. And I'll start with a Democrat because this is a Democratic choice. Is there one candidate who would help John Kerry significantly?
GEOFFREY GARIN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: There is not one candidate; there are many candidates who would help John Kerry. I think he's got two ways to go, that there is a very powerful case being made on the basis of the economy. And Senator Edwards makes that case in a powerful way in his discussion of two Americas. Congressman Gephardt makes that case in a very powerful way.
And so both of those would be a helpful in those regards.
And there's a powerful case to be made against President Bush in terms of his conduct of foreign policy and his methods in which he's gotten us in Iraq in war. And there are candidates, such as Senator Graham and General Clark, who could be very helpful in that regard.
So there are a whole set of different candidates who could bring different assets to the ticket.
KING: Well, Mike, you're looking at this from a different perspective. You want President Bush to be reelected. Is there any one candidate that worries you from the Republican standpoint? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) The American people choose on the issue of who the presidential nominee is. Where the election is so close, does that apply?
MICHAEL COHEN, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: No. They're still going to choose for who they want to be president of the United States. And the only one that I'm really worried about was John McCain. And he's out.
So everyone else, we already know. We already know who John Edwards is. We already know Dick Gephardt. And the only other we haven't really been introduced to on a national level is Vilsack.
So from my perspective, we know who we've got.
KING: Well, let me ask you this question, Geoff, as a pollster, who has to advise politicians -- and I want to show a CNN poll as we do this -- we asked of course, as we polled the country: Who would you be enthusiastic if Kerry picked -- and John Edwards was -- we won't go through all of the numbers -- but John Edwards led, followed by Congressman Gephardt, then General Clark, Senator Bayh and Governor Vilsack down at the bottom of that list.
When you're making the choice, does that matter?
Does John Kerry risk if Democrats in plurality want Edwards? Does he run a risk, if he picks someone else?
GARIN: No. I mean, certainly not in this case. The Democrats have never been this unified in a presidential election. And the Democratic base, I think, are willing to give Senator Kerry a broad sweep here in terms of who he feels would be the best for the ticket.
So I think there are reasons why those gentlemen lead the list: Senator Edwards bringing excitement, and Congressman Gephardt brings level of experience being a plus, General Clark with the level of experience dealing with messes like Iraq. So there are reasons why people are enthusiastic about them that I think would translate to the broader electorate.
KING: Let's look forward more broadly at the election. I want to put a graphic up on the screen from one of your colleagues, Republican pollster Bill McIntyre.
It's about presidential approval rating, how that can affect the election. I believe we can show it to you here. It's hard to see on this little monitor. But president Bush is plus two essentially -- 50 approve, 48 percent. And you look at the incumbents who won, President Nixon in '72, President Reagan, and President Clinton in '96, all had plus ten at least -- in President Clinton's case, plus 25 (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Let's start with you because this president is below where Gerald Ford was, in terms of approval ratings. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
COHEN: And he did, but this is a very different election. The country now is a lot more divided than it used to be. There are passions on both sides for different issues. What it comes down to, people are going to make the choice based on who do they want to be their president (UNINTELLIGIBLE) country will say, this is a guy I can trust, this is a guy who I know has a vision for our country, this is a person who is consistent (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
That's the choice that most people in America are going to make. The people who are on one side or the other are going to probably stay there, and they're going to show up. It's the people in the middle who are going to be talking about it in the next two months.
GARIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) relatively few swing voters, but people cycle in and out of being a swing voter. So over the course of the period between now and Election Day, I think we're talking about a much larger group of people who have very mixed and ambivalent feelings about President Bush and about the direction of the country. I think it's, you know, realistically, over the course of this period, I think we're talking more about 20 to 25 percent of the electorate than 3 or 4 percent of the electorate.
KING: Let's take a look at one of the more dramatic changes in public opinion that affects this campaign, and that is the public's perception of the war in Iraq.
And this is from the New York Times-CBS poll conducted a little more than a week ago. Was Iraq worth the loss of American life? Thirty-two percent say it's worth it, 50 percent say not worth it. That's pretty troubling for an incumbent president.
COHEN: I would disagree. War, if you've had any experience with it, it's never worth losing lives. It's never worth it. In some cases, when you're attacked on your own soil, then it's a lot easier to make that case.
But when you're going out there and it's a new world and there are new people who are looking to kill you and they're looking to blow up your buildings. And then there's someone out there who might have weapons of mass destruction, who might have another reason to help out al Qaeda and your CIA director comes to you and says I've got stuff here that you've got to look at, you make that call. And you go out and you defend your country.
KING: The administration says most of those numbers are shaped by the insurgency, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, sort of a depressing period of time. And that now you see the handover of sovereignty, Saddam Hussein in court, that the American people are going to come around on this issue.
GARIN: I actually think there's really only one measuring rod for the American people on Iraq, and it is the number of American casualties in Iraq. People are anguished about the young men and women who are being killed and injured over there. They don't really sense that same sense of anguish from President Bush himself, but the American people are truly anguished about it. And I think that that's really how they measure this.
And I think there is, you know, beyond his approval rating, the terrible news for President Bush and the Republicans is that his approval rating on fighting the war against terrorism has plummeted. If we were sitting here a year ago, we would have said his great strength in this election would be as the war-time president, the leader who was getting 60 percent-65 percent, 70 percent positive ratings on terrorism. That disappeared and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the economy. They're bragging about all the new jobs. Most Americans think these are lower paid jobs with less benefits.
So it's the numbers underneath the approval rating that I think are really dangerous for the president.
COHEN: Those numbers have not evaporated. It is still majority support. It is still far better than where Kerry is at this time. In fact, if you put Kerry up against Bush right now, Bush is beating him senseless on all the personal characteristics you'd want to have in a president. And the only thing right now that has been holding down his ratings has been Iraq.
And that has just been turned over, and things are going to get better there, and as it does people are going to refocus on what the issues are that matter to them, the economy. The economy's doing much better now.
KING: The economy's doing much better right now, you say. It hasn't quite shown up in the polling yet. And if you ask people who would do a better job handling the economy, our latest poll -- about two weeks old, if I'm counting right -- Kerry 53 percent, Bush 40 percent. So you argue the fog of war, essentially, has kept people from focusing on the economy.
COHEN: It's been Abu Ghraib. It's been people being hurt over there. It's been insurgents. It's been all of those things. And that's all we've been talking about.
I mean, look at your newscast every night, it's always about Iraq. But once everything starts settling down over there, you have to believe that these real statistics that we are seeing that are pointing to a very good economy are going to matter.
GARIN: I think the reality that matters is in people's lives that there is an understanding that the jobs that are coming into the economy are not as good as the jobs that left the economy. They pay lower wages. They're less likely to have health benefits with them. People are struggling to get by. Again, there is a deep sense of concern.
And the Republicans talk about their optimism. To average voters, that's just a sense of being out of touch. The Republicans don't seem to get that this is a difficult economy for people. KING: We have about a minute left. So I want to ask you both for your thoughts. We are entering now what I call the roller-coaster period in the campaign in that John Kerry will pick his running mate and have his convention. Then we'll have a break because of the Olympics, a bit unusual, in the distance. Then the president gets his convention.
If we're in a dead heat today, what is your sense of the biggest bounce that Bush can afford Kerry to get in July?
COHEN: I'm not concerned about the bounce at all. I mean, traditionally, they'll get between 5 and 10 percent. I wouldn't be surprised if Bush was behind by 5 to 10 percent after the convention. If he's within 10 percent, I'd be very, very happy. And then as soon as we know, you know, what is going on over there, we're going to have our own convention, and then President Bush is going to close the gap, and it's going to be over.
GARIN: The important number coming out of the convention isn't the trial heat. It is really people's confidence in John Kerry to be president. Given their doubts about President Bush, if people start to see John Kerry as somebody who can lead America for the next four years, that would be great for Senator Kerry and troubling for the president.
KING: I want to thank you both. Four months to go. We'll have you come back. Jeff Garin, Michael Cohen, thank you very much.
And up next, the results of our Web poll question about whether you believe Saddam Hussein can get a fair trial. Please stay with us.
KING: Our "LATE EDITION" Web question this week asked: Can Saddam Hussein get a fair trial in Iraq?
And here's how you voted: 36 percent of you said yes; 64 percent said no. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.
Turning now to what's on the cover of this week's major U.S. news magazines: "Time" looks at filmmaker Michael Moore's new war. "U.S. News & World Report" goes inside America's best hospitals. And "Newsweek" explores what it calls the new infidelity.
That's your "LATE EDITION" for this Sunday, July Fourth. Be sure to join Wolf Blitzer next Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
Until then, thanks very much for watching. For our U.S. audience, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
I'm John King in Washington.
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