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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
9/11 Politics; Boston Gets Ready; "Old Ironsides"
Aired July 21, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every American can be certain that their government will continue doing everything in our power to prevent a terrorist attack.
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ANNOUNCER: Washington keeps buzzing about Sandy Berger.
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SANDY BERGER, FMR. NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: When I was in the Archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake.
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BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe his explanation.
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REP. TOM DELAY (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: It looks like to me that this is just a third rate burglary.
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ANNOUNCER: The lighter side of Boston with the Democratic Convention just days away, are the locals amused?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting out of town next week.
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ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Boston, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us from our spot today just across the Boston Harbor from the Fleet Center, the final destination of our tour all week on the CNN Election Express. We are reminded that in this city relics of American history are practically at every corner. We're coming to you today from what is called Boston's National Historical Park, home to the Navy's oldest and perhaps best known vessel, the USS Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides. I'm going to be touring this ship that never lost a battle a later on INSIDE POLITICS.
Well with the upcoming political conventions and in the middle of this presidential election, the 9/11 Commission chiefs, as you've been hearing, are briefing government officials today about the panel's final report that is due out tomorrow.
As if that weren't enough to fuel all the partisan wrangling out there, there is the investigation of former Clinton White House aide Samuel Berger and the removal of secret documents from the National Archives. The White House provided little new information about that today.
And for that, for the very latest, let's go to our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy, and we'll talk about that in a minute.
But first, we just heard from the president for the first time today about the 9/11 Commission and about Sandy Berger.
First, on the 9/11 Commission, as you mentioned, the chair and vice chair of that commission have been making the rounds in Washington today, briefing folks, including three members of the president's administration, three of his top advisers. Mr. Bush, just moments ago, said that he personally has not been briefed yet, but he looks forward to getting a briefing from his own advisers and then personally receiving the report formally tomorrow from the commissioners.
Now he did talk in general terms about the fact that he feels that he has made some changes in the government since 9/11 and made it very clear that he is open to some changes, not specifically endorsing anything that the commission might have.
But on the key question, the key political question here, Judy, is of course whether or not anything can be read into this report to say that the president could have done anything specifically to prevent 9/11. On that issue, Mr. Bush was very, very strong.
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BUSH: I told the commissioners right here in the Oval Office that had we had any inkling whatsoever that terrorists were about to attack our country, we would have moved heaven and earth to protect America. And I'm confident President Clinton would have done the same thing. Any president would. And, so anyway, looking forward to the report.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: And that is the question that many people are already asking on both sides of the aisle whether either President Bush or President Clinton could have done anything to prevent it. We've already seen the political bubbles of this over the past few days, and we'll continue to see it certainly throughout the next week.
Now on the question, Judy, of Sandy Berger, this story certainly reached the political equivalent of Defcon 5 yesterday. The White House said yesterday that they did not know about the criminal investigation until they saw it in the papers.
Today, however, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said he was in the dark. But it turns out others in the White House weren't, that members of the president's counsel's office did get briefings from the Justice Department about this investigation. It was some time ago. They were given a heads up, according to McClellan, because of the fact that the White House was in charge of shepherding all relevant material from this administration and the Clinton administration to the 9/11 Commission.
But they do maintain that they did not have anything to do with perhaps what Democrats are saying was an intentional leak to the media to try to take away from whatever findings might be negative for the Bush administration. You just heard from the president. He said he was not going to comment on this at all because it's an ongoing investigation -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Dana, very quickly, we're going to hear again from the president tonight. He's speaking in Washington. What are you hearing he's going to say?
BASH: Well first, Judy, the president made his first stop today, a surprise visit to his campaign headquarters across the river. He went over to shake hands with some of the folks who have been working for him.
But in terms of tonight, one Bush aide sort of colorfully described what he will do is show a little leg on what he is going to say during a really intense month of campaigning in August. Tonight is a fund raiser, so we're told that he is not going to lay out any new policy agenda items. But he will start to, as one other aide said, reorient his message from where the country has been to where he hopes it will go.
We certainly have heard a lot of very, very sharp rhetoric from the president over the past few weeks leading up to the Democrats' convention, very sharp against John Kerry. He will take that down a couple of notches tonight. We started to see that a little bit yesterday when he talked about the fact that he is a peace president, started to talk about some of what he wants to do in the next four years. We'll hear a little bit more of that theme tonight, all previewing what he'll do in August leading up to his own convention speech.
Now the Bush campaign denies the fact that perhaps they are shifting gears because in some circles there are some allegations perhaps that the campaign strategy has not worked so far. They say this was always the plan to talk about his record, perhaps try to get it -- get at John Kerry a little bit. At this point of -- at this point in time, and then moving through August and the fall, to talk forward about what he says he will do if he's reelected -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Show a little leg. We'll look for it. Dana Bash, thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well more now on the Samuel Berger case and any fallout from that. John Kerry is calling Sandy Berger a friend of his, and he says he respects Berger's decision to step aside as an informal adviser to the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Berger told reporters yesterday he made an honest mistake that he regrets but denied any criminal wrongdoing.
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BERGER: Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 Commission. And any suggestion to the contrary is simply absolutely wrong.
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WOODRUFF: Berger's statement did little to ease the back and forth ongoing between Democrats and Republicans. And Democrats defending what Sandy Berger has said, including his old boss, Bill Clinton.
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CLINTON: I think that the innocent explanation is the most likely one, particularly given the facts involved. And I know him. He's a good man. He's worked his heart out for this country and he did everything he could to protect it. So I'm confident he'll be fine.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let's understand that if, say, Dick Cheney had been found of taking classified documents from the National Archives and had discarded some of them, he would have been hanged at dawn.
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WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill, many of the lawmakers are talking about the Berger case, as well as the briefings they got today on the report from the 9/11 Commission. I spoke today with two congressional leaders, Republican Majority Whip Roy Blunt and the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, Congressman Robert Menendez. I started by asking them if after they are -- their briefing, they are convinced that this report from the commission will be useful in preventing any future terrorist attacks.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MAJORITY WHIP: Well we need to look at the report. I wish the report could have been out a little earlier this year. One of the things that the speaker did was encourage the commission to stick with its original schedule so that we'd have a reasonable opportunity to react to the commission legislatively this year. I think that's highly unlikely and probably not even a good idea. It's going to take some time to look at their recommendations. Hopefully, we'll be ready to look at this very seriously in the context of the next Congress.
And frankly, Judy, I think we ought to look at all the recommendations, even a couple of which I initially have fairly strong disagreements with. But I think we ought to look at the report, the recommendations and take it very seriously and hope it helps us move forward toward a safer country.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Menendez, what do you take away from this, is it -- is it going to be useful?
REP. ROBERT MENENDEZ, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHMN.: Well, Judy, I certainly hope that the report gives Congress the sense of urgency that I think we have lost to a great degree in terms of reforming our entire intelligence operations. And I think the report gives new life and hopefully a new sense of urgency to the Congress to begin to act.
You know September 11 will have happened almost three years ago -- well, three years this coming September. And the reality is is that we have not moved, after understanding the critical nature of the threat, to improve our intelligence in a way that ultimately creates greater security for the American people.
And I think that the second thing I hope, that in addition to the sense of urgency, that the report hopefully will convey to the Congress is that the Congress understands that it is the only independent entity, regardless of who sits in the White House, the only independent entity to provide real oversight over the intelligence community. And it needs to be much more aggressive, in my mind, about that.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Congressman Blunt, it's been reported that, among other things, this report will say that there were at least 10 different operational opportunities that were missed by both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. Opportunities to step in and maybe prevent 9/11 from happening. If that's the case, so both administrations bear equal responsibility here?
BLUNT: Well I don't know about equal responsibility. I do know the report looks at eight months of the Bush administration, eight years of the Clinton administration. My view is you can't expect the Bush administration in eight months to turn around, not just the Clinton administration, but years before that, of policy towards -- toward intelligence. I also would like to say, in response to Bob's remark, I know that the chairman and the -- and the vice chairman, in meeting with us yesterday, in terms of whether we're more secure, did make the point that clearly we have done things since September the 11th. And we've obviously done a lot of things right, because this commission knows, and we know, that many things have been disrupted, many things haven't happened that might have happened otherwise.
The idea that we haven't taken this seriously is not on target, in my view. And in terms of senses -- of sense of urgency, I wish the commission would have been a little more urgent about getting their work done. We have this report now virtually at the end of the legislative year. We need to take it seriously. And the 10 things, again, both Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean told us there were 10 things, but they were 10 things and it was extraordinarily unlikely that those things would happen.
MENENDEZ: Well the commission -- the commission unfortunately faced a long delay by virtue of trying to get the White House to work with it and giving it all of the documentation it needed. And finally fashioned a way that was acceptable to the White House to get critical information, for which, if not, their report would have been defective.
But as it relates to -- I don't think that we should be looking at subscribing blame. What we should be looking at, because we could say that three years after that attack, that made it crystal clear how serious the threat was that we have done very little, at least on the administration's part, to improve intelligence sharing and the operations and consolidation of that intelligence. So it shouldn't be about subscribing blame. It should be about taking the report and acting about it.
Instead of having sessions here in Congress on a series of social issues for political purposes, we should be trying to begin the work that the report will suggest on securing the American people.
WOODRUFF: Representative Robert Menendez, Representative Roy Blunt talked to us just a short time ago from Capitol Hill.
Well checking the headlines now in our 'Campaign News Daily,' the Kerry-Edwards campaign has some big numbers to report in its latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. One day after we told you about the Bush-Cheney fund raising totals, the Kerry team reports raising $37 million in June. Since the campaign started, Kerry has raised about $186 million, including a record $99 million in the second quarter of this year. Kerry into June with about $37 million cash on hand.
A new poll in Arizona finds the race is a lot closer than indicated in another recent survey. The latest Arizona State University poll finds Kerry ahead of Bush by a single percentage point. A poll by ASU three weeks ago gave Bush a 12-point lead, but the new poll is similar to several other recent surveys, which show the race to be very close.
From the it's never too early to start planning ahead category, Democratic delegates appear to have a favorite for the 2008 presidential campaign. The Associated Press asked about 70 percent of next week's delegates who they would favor of the party's nominee in 2008. The winner, Senator Hillary Clinton named by 26 percent of those interviewed. Senator John Edwards was named by 17 percent. Many of them refused to answer because they said they hope John Kerry is going to be running for reelection four years from now.
Well there's plenty for convention delegates, of course, to see right here in historic Boston. Up next, our tour of Old Ironsides, one of the most powerful symbols of the U.S. Navy.
Also ahead, something new for convention protesters in Boston to protest, a sense that they will be penned in.
Plus, if you're counting carbs, we have got a presidential campaign poll to sink your teeth into. With 104 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: As we continue our preparations to cover the big Democratic Convention here in Boston, I'm joined by somebody who knows this city very well, Dick Flavin. He was the first press secretary to Boston's former Mayor Kevin White.
DICK FLAVIN, HUMORIST: Centuries ago, yes.
WOODRUFF: Well not quite.
FLAVIN: Well it was the last century.
WOODRUFF: And let's see, you have been a commentator for political -- for a TV station here, and just generally what they like to say is a humorist. All right, Dick Flavin, let's start out, "The Boston Globe" the other day said waiting for this convention for the Democrats to descend is kind of like waiting for a blizzard.
FLAVIN: Well it's worse than that. It's waiting for the Yankees to come in town times 10. And the question the Yankees are coming in to town this weekend, and the delegates follow them. And the angst that we have in Boston when we're compared to New York is we have great confidence. Any other city would be fine. But the other convention, the other side is holding their convention in New York, and we know we're going to be measured against them and we're scared to death.
WOODRUFF: A lot of pressure on the Red Sox this weekend, they're playing the Yankees?
FLAVIN: A lot of pressure on the Red Sox. There's always pressure on the Red Sox. You know we, in Boston, you know, even when they win, we won't be happy, they won't have won by enough.
WOODRUFF: Do you think the Democrats are going to bring them good luck or the other way around?
FLAVIN: Who knows? Who knows? Everyone is so concerned about the traffic, are we going to be able to get any place? I mean we're finally getting a convention in Boston and I think it might be the last one.
WOODRUFF: All right, is any Bostonian going to stay in town for this convention?
FLAVIN: Yes, some of those who are broke and whose cars are broken down, I think so. I'm going to be around, because I'm a glutton for punishment. I'm like a moth around the flame, you know, and these guys all are around, I hang out.
WOODRUFF: So I mean is it -- do you really expect it to be bad here, though, with the streets shut down...
FLAVIN: Who knows? You know nobody really knows. This is -- this is the first time. You know it's the first time since 9/11 and the world has changed. And you have to wonder, you know, how many cities are going to be bidding on this kind of an event four years down the line.
WOODRUFF: You mean because of the security...
FLAVIN: Because this is turned -- for the mayor, it's turned into a nightmare. This was going to be the capstone of his career, and it's -- and it's turned into an absolute nightmare. Who knows what's going to happen?
WOODRUFF: You've been watching politics for a long time. Do you -- what are -- is there going to be news out of this convention, what do you think?
FLAVIN: No, I don't think there will be any news out of it. When was the last time there was any news out of any convention? 1980, I suppose, when they...
WOODRUFF: Yes, yes.
FLAVIN: ... when they -- when the Reagan people had the flirtation with Gerald Ford. And that's a generation ago.
WOODRUFF: But we get to talk to a lot of Democrats from all 50 states, plus Guam and the Virgin Islands.
FLAVIN: We get to talk to a lot. Have an occasional adult beverage after hours. It's fun.
WOODRUFF: So is Boston going to survive this?
FLAVIN: Boston will survive. We keep going. We keep going. We won't be happy, but we keep on keeping on.
WOODRUFF: Dick Flavin, it's great to see you again.
FLAVIN: Thanks -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: You're an old friend, somebody that's terrific to talk to.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
FLAVIN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right, coming up next, my tour of Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, the ship that never lost a battle.
We'll be right back.
WOODRUFF: The building of the war vessel the USS Constitution was authorized by an act of Congress signed by President George Washington in 1794. This ship first went to sea four years later in 19 -- in 1798. And it was given the nickname Old Ironsides during the War of 1812. It was last overhauled, believe it or not, in 1990.
A little bit earlier today, I was given a special tour by Petty Officer Matthew Schaub (ph).
WOODRUFF (on camera): Is she seaworthy today?
PETTY OFFICER MATTHEW SCHAUB, U.S. NAVY: One hundred percent. She's actually a little bit more seaworthy than she -- than she was over 200 years ago. We still take her to sea around five times a year, give or take. The Constitution has been in 33 battles and has never lost one.
WOODRUFF: In 33 battles.
SCHAUB: Thirty-three battles, never lost one.
WOODRUFF: Starting, what was the earliest and what was the latest?
SCHAUB: Her first battle was actually in the War of 1812, with the HMS Garier (ph) and that's when she got her famous nickname "Old Ironsides."
WOODRUFF: Now where does the Old Ironsides come from? Is there something -- I mean is it the cannon or what?
SCHAUB: No, there's actually no iron in this ship besides the cannons. During the War of 1812 in a famous battle, the HMS Garier spotted a naval lore. She met up with Garier. During the course of the battle, the Garier was hammering away at Constitution. None of those cannon balls pierced her sides. They all bounced off. And in the waylay (ph) someone yelled out, whosa (ph), her sides are made of iron.
WOODRUFF: Petty Officer Schaub, there is a lot of rope or line on this ship.
SCHAUB: Yes, there is.
WOODRUFF: How much -- what are we looking at here?
SCHAUB: Well there's actually two types of line on this ship. Collectively, it's all referred to as rigging. And you get the black stuff, it's called standing line. Basically that's just there for support and it doesn't move.
The white stuff or the tan stuff...
WOODRUFF: So these don't move?
SCHAUB: Right, these don't -- these don't move in general.
SCHAUB: The white stuff moves. It's all connected to pulleys. So when we're climbing these masts, the general rule is don't touch the white stuff, touch the black stuff or else you might find yourself on the deck a little more quickly than you -- than you planned on.
WOODRUFF: All right, so you call this the hatch. What does that mean? What is it?
SCHAUB: That's right, this is the main hatch. Basically it's a series of latticework panels that can be lifted up so that the sailors can put their stores down in there.
WOODRUFF: Stores being?
SCHAUB: Food and supplies.
WOODRUFF: So here we are in the lower deck. Is that what you call it or...
SCHAUB: This is -- this is the second deck.
WOODRUFF: Second deck.
SCHAUB: It's called the Gun Deck. This 24-pound long gun is almost like the rifle of the cannon world. It fires a solid steel shot about 1,200 yards, which is very, very far, almost a mile. This shot a mile.
This is what we call the Grog Tub. Over 200 years ago, sailors would be issued liquor on board ships. They'd get a half-pint ration in the morning and a half-pint in the evening.
WOODRUFF: Even when they are on the job?
SCHAUB: Even when they are on the job. Absolutely, it was considered right, not a privilege, to get that liquor as part of your pay.
WOODRUFF: To help them get through the day presumably.
SCHAUB: Well that's one of the only things they had to look forward to. Life was very hard back then.
WOODRUFF: Yes, they had to have that grog, and they got some in the morning and they got some at night.
Thank you, Petty Officer Schaub.
By the way, they tell me they might let me fire a cannon tomorrow. We'll see if they make good on that promise. We'll let you know.
The second half-hour of INSIDE POLITICS starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: Protesters in Boston say don't fence us in. Have officials taken convention security too far?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you put people in a confined area where there's not enough room for them and you put horses in there and you surround it by an eight-foot fence, that's a recipe for disaster.
ANNOUNCER: On the hunt for gun owner's votes. But will John Kerry's efforts be shot down in key battlegrounds?
Meaty issues in the age of Atkins. Is there a connection between the carbs you eat and how you vote?
Now, live from Boston, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back to Boston, a city thrust this month, this week into the national spotlight with the Democratic convention now just five days away.
A new poll shows 65 percent of voters nationwide say they plan to watch at least some television coverage of the party going on inside the Fleet Center. Many locals are equally interested in what happens outside of the arena, the Fleet Center amid concerns about a possible terror attack here at the Boston National Historical Park. We're right across the harbor from the Fleet Center, there is even a security department devoted to protecting the historic USS Constitution. The department is a relatively recent addition, a response to the 9/11 attacks.
Closer to the convention site there is a so-called free speech zone that has been designated. It is part of the security plan that is being criticized by the protesters who are likening it to a cage or to a pen. With me now is our Boston bureau chief Dan Lothian to sound a little bit more about this story. It sounds like it is not only sensitive but a potentially explosive issue.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: It really is, Judy. The protesters and the ACLU have been working closely with the city officials in trying to get access, as close as they could to the delegates as they entered into the Fleet Center. They felt like they had reached some sort of a compromise.
The area where they're now in, what they're referring to, what they believe is a pen is a fenced-in area underneath an old underpass. It is surrounded by tall fences. Now they have even put in some high netting above it so if you have something you want to throw outside, you can't throw it out. They're quite upset about that so the ACLU on behalf of these protesters now filing a couple of lawsuits, one of them having to do with the actual location, even though they're just about a half a block away from the Fleet Center, they believe that they need more access to the delegates and they're also trying get that pen that they will be enclosed in moved away. They want more freedom in order to protest.
WOODRUFF: Dan, I was just talking with Dick Flavin, a longtime resident of this city and a writer and speechwriter here. He was telling me that a lot of people are planning to leave town, just about anybody who can get their car and get going is leaving. What are you hearing about that and about the security concerns of the people who do live here.
LOTHIAN: It's so important what you just said a while ago that so much of the talk, while we're preparing for the DNC, a lot of people are less concerned with what will happen inside and more about what is happening outside.
People are very concerned about all the traffic issues that will be coming with roads being shut down. They're concerned about all of the security measures that have been taken here. Some 75 high-tech cameras will be watching every corner of this city.
They're concerned about being searched, their bags being searched as they get onto the T. So, yes, there is a lot of concern about what will be happening here during the DNC and many people choosing to get out of town. They're taking vacations or they're working at home so they don't have to put up with them.
We had a chance to talk to some folks here in Boston. Here is just a sampling of how they're feeling about the security nightmare.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're doing everything they can do. I think they're trying to, you know, establish a security plan and everything. I think that they're -- I don't feel too secure after 9/11, to tell you the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's going to be like Y2K where there's a lot of anticipation ahead of time and then it blows over. It's not a big deal. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a little concerned but we still have to go to work every day and live our lives. So that's basically what I'm going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Security officials say that they understand there's going to be a lot of inconveniences here, that people will have to rearrange their schedules. But they say that this is the kind of world we live in now post-9/11 and these are the things that they have to do to make sure that everyone's safe.
WOODRUFF: As Dick Flavin was saying to me a few minutes ago, it makes you wonder which cities are going to want these conventions from now on with this kind of security.
LOTHIAN: That's true. That's true. You're correct.
WOODRUFF: Dan Lothian. Thanks very much. Great to see you. We'll see a lot of you in the coming days while we're here in your town. Thank you.
Well, it's not just the Democrats, but the Republicans who are coming to Boston. They are sending their big guns to try to counter what they're calling the Democrat extreme makeover. Their words. Former Massachusetts governor William Weld is going to be in town. Former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani are just part of the team that the Republicans are sending and they're calling -- they're setting up a center they're calling the RRC. Rapid Response Center.
President Bush, we're told, is going to lay low during the Democratic convention but he's going to hit the trail the day after it ends. Today, the president visited his campaign headquarters in Washington, even as he prepared to give a speech tonight billed as something of a sneak peek build as his second-term agenda.
As for John Kerry today, he managed to work in some time for water sports amid his preparations for his moment coming up next week in Boston. Running mate John Edwards is heading to two fundraisers in New York City tonight. He and his wife Elizabeth are also going to be interviewed tonight by our own Larry King. That's going to be tonight, 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.
Now, let's bring in a couple of Bush and Kerry surrogates. Sometimes I don't like that word but that's what they are, they're stand-ins for the Bush campaign and for the Kerry campaign.
Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt joins us and Kerry campaign senior adviser, Ann Lewis. Great to see both of you.
Ann, let me start with you. The question about John Kerry's tour across the country, essentially he's going to be out on the road for the first three days of this four-day convention. My question is, he competing with his own party here in Boston?
ANN LEWIS, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: No. What we think he's doing is showing that we understand that while the convention is a great event, eventually votes will be cast by people in all these different states. And John Kerry wants to be talking to people. Think of it as stereophonics. The sounds going to be coming at you from all directions, if you will, Judy, but there's John Kerry going across the country, talking to these states about his vision for the future, where he thinks this country can go. And the evening you're going to have the Democratic convention meeting and we're going to be putting the party together and talking about from a lot of Democratic leaders how excited we are working together towards November 2004.
WOODRUFF: Now Terry Holt, the president, as we just reported will be laying low for a few days next week but Vice President Cheney we're told will be campaigning out on the West Coast. You have approval ratings for the president that are now dipping below 50 percent. How worried are you about what the Democrats are up to?
TERRY HOLT, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We're excited about the progress we're making in this campaign. The president's been traveling the country, the heart and soul of America and not the Radio City Music Halls of America, to talk about his message, to talk about how we're going to make America stronger and safer and more secure.
But we're going to be 24/7 next week. We're going to be out building our grassroots team, our Rapid Response Unit, RMC, will back up in Boston, This is going to be a big theatrical production to try and make John Kerry more palatable to the voters. Well, gosh, I hope he'd do it. But you kind of anticipate he might finally say how he would fight and win the war on terror whatwith supporting Iraq and going in but then not supporting the troops. We feel like we have to be there to tell a little truth under all the majesty of this theater and image makeover that they're going through.
WOODRUFF: So, Ann, is that what it is? They're going to bring the truth in while you all do an extreme makeover?
LEWIS: Excuse me for smiling. But the idea that bringing forward pro-choice moderates like Rudy Giuliani and William Weld to speak for the Republican party whose platform will be so extreme and so right-wing and anti-choice, if that isn't a makeover, I don't know what is.
But look, John Kerry is going to talk about security, he's going to talk about what it takes to keep this country safe. He has been talking for more than a year about how what we needed to do was to bring other countries in to join us in Iraq. I'm glad to see that George Bush finally got on that program about two months ago.
But given that we're still paying 90 percent of the burden, 90 percent of the troops, it's a little late. The fact is America is more secure when we're respected in the world. We are more secure when we give our troops the support they need, when we give our veterans the support they need, we give our homeland security forces the support they need. George Bush isn't doing that as he should and John Kerry will.
HOLT: I just wonder where she gets all her talking points. My goodness.
LEWIS: I'm just listening to John Kerry and his speeches.
HOLT: We're going to do this by the book. I think that it's important for people to hear both sides during this election. And they shouldn't just have the opportunity to hear John Kerry say whatever he wants about himself. We need to point out the record. The higher taxes, the more regulation that could derail this economy, the senator's flip-flopping record on the war on terror, all of these things have to be pointed out even while they may get some good press next week.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, I have a question for each one of you, but Ann Lewis first. Tom Delay yesterday called the Samuel Berger incident, the papers taken from the National Archives. He said this may be a national security crisis. He said at the very least a third- rate burglary. Is that what possibly is going on?
LEWIS: I think it would be appalling if anyone were trying to make partisan advantage of this. Let's be clear, the Justice Department has been investigating this issue. The investigation's been going on since last October. The last I looked, John Ashcroft was still the head of the Justice Department. They will get to the bottom of it.
Meanwhile, the 9/11 Commission has told us we have all the information we need. So, let's focus on what's going on with the 9/11 Commission, let's listen to that report, let's see what we need do to make this country safer. And meanwhile, there's an investigation; we'll see what the result is.
HOLT: Oh, boy. My goodness.
WOODRUFF: Terry Holt, a quick answer?
HOLT: I would just say, you know, for every Democrat, there's a conspiracy that they're being attacked. This is a serious thing. And we need to get to the bottom of it, and Kerry needs to explain and assure the American people that he didn't benefit from the theft of these documents.
WOODRUFF: Terry, very quickly, Jenna Bush sticking her tongue out at the press yesterday. Does this mean she's not enjoying campaigning with her father?
HOLT: No. She's enjoying campaigning. This is a light moment on the campaign trail. You've been out there. You know, I think that, you know, it shows that -- you know, that people can take a lighthearted approach to this campaign season, and obviously she does.
WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. We -- always great -- it's always great to see both of you. Terry Holt, Ann Lewis. Thank you again.
LEWIS: Thanks, Judy. WOODRUFF: The National Rifle Association taking aim at John Kerry, but will the senator be their target? Gun control politics, coming up next.
And the battle for the Badger State: Do either Bush or Kerry have an advantage in the crucial showdown state of Wisconsin?
Plus: Does what you eat determine how you'll vote? We'll going to munch on new poll numbers. Live from Boston, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says he has no plans to schedule a vote to renew the ban on assault weapons, despite President Bush's support for extending the ban. In DeLay's words, and I am quoting, "The president doesn't always get what he wants."
Well, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has more on guns as an election year issue in the all important showdown states.
AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): In the 2000 Democratic primaries, Al Gore was competing with Bill Bradley, who favored the registration and licensing of all handguns. So, Gore made it a point of pride to be targeted by the National Rifle Association.
GORE: I was a co-sponsor of the Brady Law. I cast the tiebreaking vote to close the so-called gun show loophole. The NRA has targeted me as a result.
SCHNEIDER: In the fall campaign, however, Gore paid little attention to the gun issue. Nevertheless, gun owners knew where he stood. People close to George W. Bush believe the gun issue got Bush elected.
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Second Amendment issues were the deciding factors in several states.
SCHNEIDER: John Kerry got the message. He claims to be gun friendly. Kerry voted for the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban, and a measure to close gun show loopholes. He calls those measures reasonable restrictions. He told West Virginia voters he's a defender of gun rights.
JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will protect the Second Amendment. I always have, and I will.
SCHNEIDER: The NRA has no intention of letting Kerry get away with that.
CHRIS COX, NRA: So, now you're running away from your record, just like Al Gore did. Well, you can run, but you can't hide.
SCHNEIDER: Another flip-flop, Republicans say.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kerry seems to have his own view of the Second Amendment. He said, and I quote, "I believe that we have a strong Second Amendment belief structure in America," end quote. I've never heard it put quite that way.
SCHNEIDER: How dangerous is this issue for Kerry? There are 17 swing states in this year's election. Thirteen of them have an above- average rate of gun ownership -- including West Virginia, where the rate is nearly twice the national average.
President Bush believes the issue will pay off against Kerry, just as it did four years ago against Gore, in places like West Virginia.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My position and my record stands in stark contrast to my opponent's record of voting against the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Don't most voters support gun control? Yes, they do. But supporters of gun control rarely vote the issue. Gun owners do -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
Well, among other things, Boston is a city that is famous for the food it serves. So, coming up, we're going to have some food for thought. What could your diet say about your political leanings?
But next, we're heading inland for Massachusetts for a look at a crucial showdown state.
WOODRUFF: With its junior senator on this ballot in Massachusetts, the ballot for president, this state isn't exactly expected to be a toss-up in November. But you know, there are plenty of showdown states out there across the country where the race is close.
We're joined now by Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing we all know very well, produced every day by the "National Journal."
Chuck, let's talk about Wisconsin. It's a state that Al Gore won four years ago, but only very narrowly. What's it looking like this year?
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE": Six thousand votes, and it's probably already one of the five closest races, along with Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, and Florida. Every time, the numbers are -- only a point or two separate them. It's going to be an incredibly hard fought thing.
And a part of it has to do with geography. And it's kind of surprising, in some ways, because, you know, Democrats used to carry Wisconsin all the time. Even Michael Dukakis carried Wisconsin in 1988, Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Chuck, what are the candidates on both sides -- what are they doing to try to lock the state up?
TODD: Well, one of the things the Democrats do have going for them is not just the history of the state having a Democratic history, but the state's early presidential primary allowed Kerry and Edwards -- if you recall, they were basically the last two candidates in the race -- they campaigned in this state already 25 days combined.
Now they're the Democratic ticket. They didn't beat each other up and, instead, almost helped each other outoptimysticified (sic) each other -- if I can make up a word here.
While Bush and Cheney have only been there 10 times since taking office -- Bush nine of them and Cheney only once. So, already, there's a little bit of leg up for the Democrats.
WOODRUFF: What are the keys to turning that Wisconsin vote, Chuck. What are the parts of the state, the regions, or the groups that are important to nailing it?
TODD: Well, I'll tell you, gone are the days for Democrats where they could just rack up these huge victories in Milwaukee and Madison and then basically hope they could carry the state. In fact, this the state that will test this theory whether Democrats can reach out to these rural or sort of ex-urban voters.
When looking inside the numbers on the counties, there are four counties that are rural, but growing populations that were very close in 2000.
Racine County in the southeast corner of the state, Bush carried this with just 51%. Nader was the difference in almost -- in keeping Gore from carrying it.
La Crosse in the western part of the state, another important county, Gore barely carried it with just 53%.
Brown County, this is Green Bay where the -- the county seat there, you'll see that Packers games becoming incredibly important campaign events.
And then finally, Marathon County, where Bush won with just 50% of the vote.
If the Kerry-Edwards ticket can do a little bit better and if Edwards really is connecting with rural voters, these are the four counties we're going to see whether Democrats do have a shot at these rural counties.
WOODRUFF: All right. Chuck Todd, he knows it right down to the precinct level. Chuck, thanks very much.
TODD: You got it.
WOODRUFF: Of course, "The Hotline" is an insiders political briefing. It is produced every day by the "National Journal". You can go online to nationaljournal.com subscription information.
We're going to continue, of course, to focus on those showdown states throughout the year.
Well, party primaries in the State of Georgia take center stage in this edition of our "Campaign News Daily." A one-term Congresswoman and a wealthy businessman are headed to a runoff in Georgia's Democratic Senate primary.
Denise Majette will face Cliff Oxford on August the 10th in the race to replace the retiring Democrat Zell Miller. The winner will face Congressman Johnny Isakson, who won the GOP primary without a runoff.
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney pulled off a comeback by winning the Democratic primary for her old Congressional seat. The often outspoken McKinney won without a runoff in the heavily Democratic fourth district, a race that she lost to Majette just two years ago.
Question: Does what you eat say something about how you will vote? Well, we're going to measure up the evidence and serve up the results, next on INSIDE POLITICS.
(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)
WOODRUFF: We've all heard the old saying "You are what you eat." Well, if that's the case, what you eat may say something about how you vote.
(voice-over): If you take your burger without the bun...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a burger, but I don't want a bun. I just want a burger.
WOODRUFF: ... and hold the fries but double the meat, you're more likely to be a Republican and less likely to support John Kerry.
Meet the Atkins voters. No, not all subscribe to the letter of the plan, but they do take pains to pass up carbs and binge on red meat. And polling shows they comprise about 16% of all registered voters.
KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: The low-carb craze seems to have passed over the blue states and mostly affected voters in red states. Red state voters, red meat voters -- and they're much more worried about counting carbs than blue state voters are.
WOODRUFF: Take a look at the numbers. A Gallup poll taken earlier this month gave John Kerry a nine-point lead among all voters. But single out Atkins voters, and you've got a dead heat.
So, will a low-carb diet turn Democrats into Republicans? Come on now, what do you think?
HOLLAND: Pollsters say correlation does not imply causation. In other words, just because two things are related, it doesn't mean that they're affecting each other.
WOODRUFF: Bottom line, you are what you eat. If you're an Atkins junky, you're more likely to be a boomer from the 'burbs. And if you're a boomer from the 'burbs, you're more likely to vote Republican. And that's one red meat theory.
(on camera): Well, you've heard it. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Wednesday in Boston. I'm Judy Woodruff. Tomorrow, we're going to be back here at the site, close to the USS Constitution. We're going to continue our countdown to the convention, interviewing Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
Have a good evening. I'm going to head out now, but turn it over to my colleagues at "CROSSFIRE," Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. See you in a minute.
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