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Could Stem Cell Debate Swing Election?; Tapes Shed New Light on Nixon & Vietnam

Aired August 9, 2004 - 15:30   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley. We begin with the Bush campaign and past presidential decisions on Iraq and stem cell research -- decisions that now are lightning rods in the race for the White House which is why we want to go right now to White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, President Bush is back on the campaign trail with a vengeance. He began the day in Annandale, Virginia at a community college. That is where he talked about what he calls an era of ownership, his policies aimed at helping Americans own their own homes, small businesses, as well as a health care plan (UNINTELLIGIBLE) retirement. But the president also very much aware of some of those polls that show a good deal of Americans believe that the administration mismanaged the Iraq situation. President Bush today making no apologies when it comes to the Iraq war.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We didn't find the stockpiles that we thought we would find. Everybody thought they would be there. We haven't found them yet but he did have the capability of making weapons. Knowing what I know today, I would have made the same decision.


MALVEAUX: That is also a decision that they are putting to his opponent, Senator Kerry. Of course, the Bush administration, the campaign in full force this week, President Bush tomorrow heading to Florida for three stops, then Wednesday to New Mexico and Arizona, Thursday to Nevada, as well as Oregon, Friday -- Nevada and California rather, Friday to Oregon and Washington state and then Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa. It is a full schedule, full plate. This is nine states in one week, Candy. It's going to be a busy week.

CROWLEY: It is. I'm awfully glad I'm not going to be there for that.

MALVEAUX: I'll be there.

CROWLEY: Listen, let me ask you about stem cell research. Three years ago, the president allowed Federal funding for the first time for stem cell research, but he limited the so-called stem cell lines. The Kerry campaign has seized on this issue first at the convention and now all over the campaign trail. What's the Bush administration saying?

MALVEAUX: Well, the Bush administration is fighting back. They put the first lady, Laura Bush out there today in Pennsylvania, as we know, a key battleground state, before a group of doctors where she spoke about this, saying that she supports her husband's policy and its limited Federal funding of stem cell research. You may recall, it was her father who died of Alzheimer's disease, many people thinking that this expanded research could cure those type of diseases, Alzheimer's, diabetes and things like this. You've got the first lady out there. You also have many officials today from the White House speaking out against this, saying of course, they, just like the next person, would like to see a cure for those diseases, but they feel that if they expanded those lines, it would cross a moral threshold, one that they are not comfortable with. Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Suzanne. One of the reasons we bring that up is because John Kerry's campaign is trying to add to the pressure on the president over stem cell research. While the candidate takes the scenic route along the campaign travel in Arizona, our John king joins us from Grand Canyon Village, Arizona. First John, boy, what a great shot, first of all. What's the Kerry campaign doing today on the stem cell research debate?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candidate Kerry is here Candy as you know, to take a tour of the Grand Canyon but he is letting his vice presidential nominee, Senator John Edwards and other aides make the case that they believe the Bush administration and the president are wrong on the science and wrong on the morality of the issue of stem cell research. The Kerry campaign saying you can have more embryonic stem cell research and that it could provide hope to a hundred, tens of millions of people with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases if you have careful government monitoring of that. So they are challenging the Bush administration's position on the policy.

How they say this plays out politically is they say it helps them make the case that this president is so committed to ideology, so committed to not alienating the religious right and other social conservatives that he will not open his eyes to the possibility of this science and they say that Senator Kerry gets a good response on the campaign trail when they says the president is choosing ideology over those with a grandparent with Alzheimer's or a child with juvenile diabetes. So they say they believe it helps a bit politically on that front.

Now as for the candidate himself, the campaign says this is a tourism stop today, some 3,000 miles on his journey from the convention in Boston. But the Kerry campaign also saying as the senator and Teresa Heinz Kerry tour the canyon area today, they are saying that Mr. Bush has not kept his promise to fully fund the national parks, to improve and fully fund maintenance efforts at the national parks.

It is the beginning of a critical week in the states out west that the Kerry campaign believes could prove critical battle grounds. He was in New Mexico and Colorado over the weekend, in Arizona today. He moves on tomorrow to Nevada. There the campaign will focus on education. There's a population explosion in Nevada and the Kerry campaign says the president is not keeping his promises to fully fund efforts to build -- excuse me -- build new schools and hire more teachers so you can shrink class sizes.

The Kerry campaign also says the president has broken a promise about the Yucca mountain nuclear waste repository in that state. So Nevada for two days beginning tomorrow. Then the president will move on to California -- Senator Kerry excuse me, will move on to California, where his focus will turn back to the economy, events in Los Angeles and elsewhere and from California on to Oregon. And Candy, the Kerry campaign looks at it this way, the polls have begun to shift on the west and coastal states, Oregon, Washington State and California, all the Kerry campaign says shifting its way. They are hoping that by paying attention to them now, they can put those three states away and then as we get closer to Election Day, focus on the smaller battlegrounds here in the west and the southwest, namely Arizona, New Mexico, perhaps Colorado as well. Candy.

CROWLEY: CNN senior White House correspondent John King in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona. Enjoy the sights a little John, thanks.

Now to the Illinois Senate race and the late entrance of former GOP presidential candidate Alan Keyes. He's made it official yesterday six weeks after Republican Jack Ryan bowed out. As CNN's Keith Oppenheim reports, Keyes is promising to wage a good fight against Democrat Barak Obama.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To his supporters, the sweat on Alan Keyes' face was a symbol of the uphill fight ahead. He's turning up the heat against Barak Obama, the Democrats rising star who for half the summer went unopposed in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

ALAN KEYES (R), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: I was absolutely convinced that somebody had to run against Barak Obama.

OPPENHEIM: Keyes is now that somebody, even though in the past, he's blasted another candidate, Hillary Clinton, for moving to run for office. But Keyes said while he was reluctant to leave Maryland and move to Illinois, he viewed the decision as a moral obligation.

KEYES: I must leave the land of my forebears in order to defend the land of my spirit and my conscience and my heart.

OPPENHEIM: With time running out and without the money of Obama, Keyes says while he can't promise victory --

KEYES: I will promise you a battle like this nation has never seen.

OPPENHEIMER: He can deliver ideological fireworks as he tries to portray Obama as an extreme liberal. A statement from Obama read: Illinoisans want a Senate candidate that will attack the problems they and their families face rather than spending time attacking each other. The language from Keyes, anti-abortion, anti gay marriage and pro gun appears to be a rallying cry for conservatives.

KEYES: The battle is for us but I have confidence because the victory is for God.

OPPENHEIM: In the fervor of the rally, a Keyes supporter actually blotted some of the sweat from the candidate's brow, then put the perspiration-soaked napkin up for sale or eBay. The proceeds of the bidding, up to at least $24 will go to the Keyes campaign. But with Obama's big head start on fundraising, the price of Alan Keyes' sweat won't come close to closing the money gap in this race. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.


CROWLEY: Alan Keyes is taking a break from the campaign trail right now to talk more about his tough fight ahead. He is with us from Chicago.

So you're going to have to do a few more of those handkerchiefs on eBay, I guess. I saw you laughing at that. Listen, thank you for joining us. I want to talk to you about my take listening to you yesterday announce. And that is, I get the sense that this is -- you're in it more for the battle than the win. I never got that sense of, on to victory, we are going to take this seat for Republicans.

ALAN KEYES (R), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, that's not true. I think, though, that it's quite clear that in my case, as always, the victory depends on making sure people understand how I look at the issues that confront us and how that is distinguished from somebody like Barack Obama, who, on a range of issues, but especially on the issues of deep moral principle, has abandoned the American Declaration, has abandoned the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, who came from Illinois. And the very principles on the basis of which slavery was abolished have been abandoned by Barack Obama and others in the Democratic Party. And I think that that abandonment betrays the heart of many Americans who are deeply committed to the American creed. And that is the reason I have stepped into this race.

CROWLEY: Now Illinois is in the Midwest, sort of on the liberal side. You are for prayer in public schools, against preferential affirmative action, against gay marriage, and pro-life, against abortion. Do those views fit into enough of the countryside in Illinois to give you a victory? . KEYES: Well, I think that remains to be seen. But we're going to make a good fight of it. I think that ordinary Illinoisans -- I know that they have a strong commitment at the grassroots because I've been in and out of this state on several occasions in the course of the last few years to work with people at the grassroots who are putting together efforts, crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life groups, other groups that are committed to changes in our income tax system, so that we get away from this government-dominated income tax, people who are favoring choice in education. I think at the grassroots what I stand for resonates deeply. They have already begun to respond with enthusiasm to the candidacy. And I think that that is going to contribute to a rallying not only of the Republican base in this state, but of people, Democrats, others, independents, who believe deeply in the things that I believe in but have not offered a choice in quite a while in the state of Illinois except, by the way, the successful campaign of Senator Peter Fitzgerald, whom I am succeeding.

CROWLEY: Mr. Keyes, when you look at this, and I know that you have said -- you criticized Hillary Clinton for going to New York, and we have to at least discuss the carpetbagger issue. You have said, look, I don't know what the issues are in Illinois, I'm going to listen. But is that, like this close to an election, really a bumper sticker you can run on?

KEYES: Well, I think I have addressed the issue of the very deep differences between what I am doing and Hillary Clinton. She used the state of New York as a platform for her own personal ambition. I had no thought of coming to Illinois to run until the people here in the state party decided there was a need. Just as people faced with a flood, or people in the case of 9/11, would call on folks, firefighters and others to help them deal with the crisis that they were faced with.

The people in Illinois have called on me to help deal with what they regard as a crisis. But from the point of view of my own personal principles, I believe in federalism. And I had to think this through based on my respect for the principle of state sovereignty.

But I think when you have a candidate like Barack Obama who has turned his back on the principles of our national union, you have to stand in defense of those principles just as Lincoln did in the run-up to the Civil War. He understood that our respect for state sovereignty must be limited by our commitment to defending the principles of our national union. And that's what I am doing.

And I am doing it on behalf of Illinoisans who deeply believe that we should not abandon those principles, on abortion, on our respect for traditional marriage, on our respect for true self- government as the basis of our approach to education and to our economy. These are folks who have stood with me over the years, who have seen me as someone who speaks for their hearts and now I will be offering them a choice in Illinois.

CROWLEY: Now when you look at it, though, there clearly are people that are going to be in sync with your value system and the things that you have supported so long. But the fact of the matter is in the end, don't a lot of people come away with a thought, this is a platform for Alan Keyes to talk about the things he's interested in rather than a search for who can best represent Illinois?

KEYES: Oh, not at all, because it's not what I believe in. I have articulated -- I deeply believe what America has stood for. Barack Obama is somebody, for instance, who on abortion takes a stand that turns its back on the principles on the basis of which slavery was abolished, the principles on the basis of which Martin Luther King argued against segregation. The Declaration principles, "all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights," those principles have been critical in every decision of conscience, every progress we have made in the extension of true rights to every group in this country. I don't speak just from Alan Keyes, I speak from American principle to the hearts of the American people who have always responded to those appeals of conscience.

CROWLEY: Alan Keyes, Republican candidate now for the Senate seat in Illinois. We love a race, you know that. So good to see you.

KEYES: It's good to be here.

CROWLEY: If you are looking for a safe bet in election 2004, you might want to steer clear of Vegas. Coming up, we'll discuss the presidential contest in the showdown state of Nevada.

Also ahead, new insights into Nixon and Vietnam, 30 years after the 37th president left the White House in disgrace.

Plus, from the petri dish to the political arena, more on the election year maneuvers over stem cell research. With 85 days until the election, this is "INSIDE POLITICS," the place for campaign news.


CROWLEY: When John Kerry arrives in Nevada tonight and when George Bush travels there later this week, they'll be in one of the nation's fastest growing states, whose politics have evolved into a presidential battleground. Erin Neff is with me now to talk more about Nevada's role in the presidential race. She is a political reporter at the "Las Vegas Review Journal." Erin, thank you so much for being here. Let me start out by just giving us the state of play there. It's a state that George Bush won by 4 percent. Where is it now?

ERIN NEFF, "LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL": According to every poll that we can get our heads on, it's dead even. It's a toss up, as you mentioned, one that you shouldn't be betting right now.

CROWLEY: And what's sort of the key issue? Is it the economy? Is it Iraq? Is it sort of a -- does it in any way not reflect what we see nationwide in terms of issues?

NEFF: Nevada absolutely is not what you see nationwide in the battleground states. The economy here is good. We've actually grown jobs as opposed to losing jobs. So the economy bodes well for President Bush. We also have a very high number of uninsured residents, which bodes well for Kerry, you would think. And the ultimate issue here is one about storing nuclear waste at Yucca mountain, which is 100 miles northwest of the city of Las Vegas. The president approved it. John Kerry says he would oppose it and stop the project.

CROWLEY: So I'm wondering, because that's an issue where John Kerry, who is the head of the ticket and John Edwards disagree in their voting records. Is there any resonance on John Edwards? John Edwards voted for putting the nuclear waste in Yucca and obviously John Kerry is against it. Any kind of push back about the Edwards vote?

NEFF: I think initially there was some skepticism about Edwards. Even our own Democrats in Congress called him and said well, where do you really stand on Yucca mountain now that you're on the ticket? And in as much as he has said he will defer to John Kerry on the issue, Nevada feels pretty comfortable having John Kerry at the top of that ticket, at least the Democrats do in Nevada. I have to tell you. It's a major battle here. Every one of John Kerry's votes over the past 20 years on this issue have been parsed unbelievably and the president's statements and record as well has become highly politicized here.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about -- are you also inundated with ads on your air, being an even battleground state? What's that been like?

NEFF: It's been unbelievable. Nevada only has five electoral votes, only had four in 2000 and yet we're one of the top 10 cities, Las Vegas is one of the top 10 cities for money in presidential ads. It's been constant. Both campaigns, Bush and Kerry's, both parties and a flood of those 527 organizations, like Move On and the like flooding our airwaves.

CROWLEY: At least it makes it fun for a political reporter.

NEFF: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, you have a pretty healthy chunk of the population out there that's retired military. Can you read that vote in any way right now? Is there any way to quantify that?

NEFF: You would think retired military leans for Bush and our active military you would think leans for Bush. What I'm hearing anecdotally and what I'm experiencing in some of the interviews I've done is a real softness in that support. I think Kerry believe he can win those voters. I think he's focusing a lot of his attention here in Nevada this week on winning the veterans' vote. And as you said, with such a high concentration of veterans, I think you probably will have them leaning to Bush but I think that it is a soft support for the president.

CROWLEY: Erin Neff with the "Las Vegas Review Journal." I bet we'll be having you back. Sound like a fun state to be in this year.

NEFF: Absolutely. It's a great bet.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

Just ahead, oil, gas and the November election, market gamblers are piling on and driving prices higher. The latest speculation on the price of crude and its potential influence on the presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: While George Bush and John Kerry debate the ins and outs of political policy, there's an economic unknown that could have a major impact on the November vote, the price of gasoline. And as Allan Chernoff of CNN financial news reports, there's little either candidate can do to influence the price at the pump.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At gasoline pumps, several blocks from the upcoming Republican National Convention, rising prices are stirring anger towards President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they go any higher, he'll definitely lose I believe. Gas prices are ridiculous right now.

CHERNOFF: More money for gas means less cash available for other items.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is already spread thin now. The cost of living is so high, especially in New York, that if it gets any higher it's going to become a major problem for people just to live day-to-day with their paychecks.

CHERNOFF: Already this summer, consumers have been pulling back. Companies are hiring less and economic growth is slowing. In large part, it is all tied to the soaring price of oil. What's driving it up? Analyst whose track the oil market say it's an increase in speculative trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange. There is an old saying in the commodity markets, the trend is your friend. Since the trend has been up, commodity gamblers have been jumping on board, trying to cash in, which sends prices even higher.

PETER BEUTEL, CAMERON HANOVER: We have seen a lot of investment money come into this market, a lot of speculative investment money, trading funds, have been coming and pushing these price higher. They've been a huge factor in pushing oil prices to the levels that we're seeing right now.

CHERNOFF: Strong global demand is also pushing oil and gas prices up, even though supply in the U.S. is not a problem at the moment. Crude oil inventories are 5 percent higher than last summer.


CHERNOFF: If speculators keep driving the price of oil higher, that could give a boost to John Kerry. But if the volatile oil market were to turn around and traders started sending prices down, that of course could help get President Bush reelected. Candy.

CROWLEY: Allan Chernoff, thanks for stopping by.

Three years after the president's announcement on stem cell research, the debate is far from over. Up next, how stem cell research has emerged as a political issue and how candidates Bush and Kerry are responding.

And later, Ralph Nader turns to plan B as he tires to get his name on the California presidential ballot.


ANNOUNCER: A galvanizing social and scientific issue.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Embryonic stem cell research offers both great promise and great -- and great peril.

ANNOUNCER: The president walks the line as Democrats search for an issue that could make the difference in a tighter than tight election.

As the Kerry/Edwards road show continues...

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to win; we're going to win.

ANNOUNCER: Team Bush sets the stage for term two.

BUSH: If you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America.

ANNOUNCER: And 30 years after he left Washington...

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon.

ANNOUNCER: ... President Nixon continues to fascinate.

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Welcome back, I'm Candy Crowley, sitting in for Judy today.

Exactly three years after President Bush announced his stand on stem cell research, Republicans and Democrats are more at odds than ever.

The Bush campaign sees the glass half full, noting this president is the first to ever fund embryonic stem cell research, but the Kerry camp and other critics say the restrictions Bush placed on such research are too severe, as they try to turn up the volume on the stem cell debate.

Here's CNN Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under election year pressure to defend the president's policy to defend embryonic stem cell research, the Bush campaign enlisted the first lady.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I know that embryonic stem cell research is very preliminary right now, and the implication that cures for Alzheimer's are around the corner is just not right. And it's really not fair to the people watching a loved one suffer with this disease. JOHNS: It was a response of sorts to the appeals of another first lady, Nancy Reagan, who has made known her support for expanding stem cell research. Her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, suffered from Alzheimer's. Their son even spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

RON REAGAN, SON OF PRESIDENT REAGAN: Whatever else you do, come November 2, I ask you, please cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research.

JOHNS: The greatest pressure is coming directly from the campaign trail. John Kerry and John Edwards have launched a whole series of events to highlight the issue, pointing to polls they claim show strong public support.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What if? What if we could discover the cure to Alzheimer's and AIDS and spinal cord problems?

JOHNS: The administration argues the president's position on stem cell gets represented.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This president was the first to open the doors for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

JOHNS: And while private companies were given freedom to do their own thing, government funding was strictly limited to a set number of existing embryonic stem cell lines.

The administration argued that allowing unlimited research would lead to government funded creation and destruction of human embryos just to study them.

MCCLELLAN: You go down a dangerous, slippery slope when you try to divorce ethics from science.


JOHNS: There is substantial support here in Congress for expanding stem cell research. However, opponents say this year, at least, it's very likely to remain a presidential campaign issue.

Candy, back to you.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Joe. We'll be talking more about the politics of stem cell research ahead with both representatives of both sides of the debate.

If you needed any more evidence that the presidential contest is as close as they come, a new poll out today makes the point again. It shows Senator Kerry leading President Bush 48 to 45 percent among registered voters nationwide. Independent Ralph Nader gets three percent.

Last month, Bush had a four-point lead over John Kerry in the Associated Press poll.

Kerry got an eye-full in the battleground state of Arizona today, taking a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon on this western leg of his coast-to-coast campaign tour. Kerry has been courting Hispanic and Native American voters.

President Bush stuck closer to home, taking questions at a community college in northern Virginia. He promised to promote a, quote, "culture of ownership," while accusing Kerry of a philosophy that tells taxpayers, "We'll give you the orders, and you pay the bills."

Look for President Bush to step up his jabs at his opponent heading into the Republican National Convention now 21 days away. We want to -- talk about President Bush's challenge with CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "L.A. Times."

Ron, first I want to -- let me just back up to the polls. And that is John Kerry comes out of the convention, not -- very minimal bounce. Didn't really change the race. And yet it changed something.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "L.A. TIMES": It did. And I mean, that's why you have the argument over the -- between two campaigns about what, if anything, Democrats accomplished.

Generally speaking, not that much change in the horse race. And I think Democrats legitimately, if they're being honest have to be a little disappointed they didn't see more upward movement for Kerry, but they did see a lot of movement in the assessments of Kerry, on his sort of being a strong leader, his ability to be commander in chief, rating him against President Bush on various issues -- honesty, integrity.

They did achieve one of the things they set out to do, which was to sort of ground support for Kerry in deeper impressions of the candidate, presumably would leave him in a better position to withstand some of what's likely coming from the Republicans over the next several weeks, the counter-attacks after the Democratic convention.

So they did strengthen him in those ways, even though they didn't move the horse race all that much.

CROWLEY: But it seems to me that it leaves a pretty big opening for the president. He's the guy that's about to get the platform in the next couple of weeks. What does he have to do at that convention?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I believe that the challenge for President Bush is much more focused on President Bush than it is on John Kerry.

By that I mean I think it is more critical for him to improve perceptions of himself, increase confidence in his leadership than it is to create more doubts about Kerry.

If you look at that A.P. poll, for example, today only 45 percent supporting Bush. Forty-three percent in the "TIME" poll over the weekend. A 42 percent reelect number. Almost every poll right now, his approval rating is at 50 or below.

He really needs to be a little stronger in terms of people having confidence in him for a second term. I don't think you can go from those kind of numbers to disqualifying Kerry with enough people to get over the top. You've got to change the underlying impressions about your own performance.

CROWLEY: And how does he do that? I mean, is that a convention that says, "Here's where I'm going?" Or there's going to be a convention that says "It's been I three years; I've kept you safe. You know, full steam ahead."

BROWNSTEIN: Probably a little bit of both. I mean, so far the campaign, the Bush campaign has overwhelmingly been defending the decisions he made in the first term and raising questions about John Kerry.

Only now this month is he work in a little bit of the second term agenda. What they say is they're going to put a little more out of that before the convention, at the convention and beyond the convention.

The challenge he has, Candy, though, is twofold.

One, it's pretty late in your presidency to be putting forward your second term agenda. I mean, they're going to be -- in 1992, when his father came out with a very detailed agenda late in the campaign, he ran into a lot of voters saying, "If you believe this, where was it for the previous 3 1/2 years?"

The other thing that I think the Democrats believe is that unless he can instill more confidence that he's going in the right direction to begin with, voters may recoil and not really have a lot of sympathy for a second term agenda that seems to them continuing to go, you know, in a direction they're ambivalent about.

So he's got to -- he's got to answer questions about the first term before he can get entirely to the second term.

CROWLEY: And -- but what about the notion that people in a time of war, and people do seem to believe in a war, don't want to change horses in mid-stream? Is there anything to that?

BROWNSTEIN: There are a lot of people in the White House who believe that beyond any issues of policy or even performance is a question of personal characteristics and trust in the president as a leader.

They've always felt that that is their trump card over whoever the Democrats nominate, even voters who may doubt some of the decisions President Bush has made, who may feel uneven or ambivalent about the results he's produced, will feel that he is someone they can trust in a crisis. And that, I think, is one of the reasons why -- one of the stringing things last week -- he isn't going after Kerry on Iraq. Even with voters, you know, expressing a lot of uncertainty about whether the war has made us safer -- half the country is saying in polls it was a mistake. Still, Bush is very aggressively saying to Kerry, "I would have done this knowing what I know now. Would you?"

And again, I think he's trying to underscore strength of leadership, which they think is a value that transcends the actual issue that you're debating.

CROWLEY: So in the end, he has to sort of buff himself up as well as nick Kerry?

BROWNSTEIN: I think he has to buff himself up more than nick Kerry.

CROWLEY: OK. Ron Brownstein, "L.A. Times," CNN contributor, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily."

The latest New Jersey poll finds John Kerry has opened a big lead over President Bush in the Garden State. A new survey by the "Newark Star-Ledger" gives Kerry 52 percent to Bush's 32 percent. Ralph Nader, who will be on the New Jersey ballot, picks up 3 percent.

A New Jersey poll taken back in May had shown Bush within striking distance of Kerry.

Ralph Nader has fallen short in his effort to get his name on the California presidential ballot. Nader turned in nearly 82,000 signatures, far short of the 153,000 names needed to qualify for the ballot.

A Nader spokesman said the campaign may go to court to challenge the state's requirements for independent candidates.

The Bush/Cheney campaign has released a new TV ad, this one featuring the president talking about what he calls his reform agenda.


BUSH: Reforms that trust the people; reforms that say government must stand on the side of people. Because I understand if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America.


CROWLEY: The ad starts airing today on national cable networks and local stations in 18 battleground states.

Straight ahead, we return to stem cell research and the debate over its ethics and medical promise. We'll hear views from both sides and consider the changing dynamics of the medical research.

Three decades after Richard Nixon announced he was stepping down, new recordings reveal his thinking about getting out of Vietnam.

And later, he runs; he bikes; he throws the football. The president scores big in the battle for physical fitness.


CROWLEY: According to the National Institutes of Health, there are currently 21 stem cell lines which qualify for federal research funding.

On this date three years ago, President Bush said he would allow government funded research on about 60 stem cell lines. The number has dropped, because of duplication and because some lines are no longer available.

With me now to discuss the implications of stem cell research are Jay Lefkowicz, a former domestic policy advisor to President Bush. He is in New York. And David Carmel is here in D.C. He advises John Kerry on medical research outreach. Medical research outreach.

OK. I want to try and agree on a few base points. Stem -- embryonic stem cell research is not banned in the U.S.?


CROWLEY: Correct. And some of it is, in fact, funded by federal funds, and George Bush was the first one to fund it. That's what -- the point that the Republicans and I'm sure Jay will make here shortly.

What is wrong -- what has changed now, over the past three years that requires looking at this, and why has this suddenly become a big issue in the campaign?

CARMEL: Three years ago, George Bush decided to ban new lines of stem cells. And that put 99.9 percent of available stem cells out of the reach of researchers and doctors.

CROWLEY: Can I just interrupt, because I'm a layman on this? He didn't really ban it, right?

CARMEL: He banned federal funding for it.

CROWLEY: OK. So the feds won't pay for the research. OK.

CARMEL: The most important source of funding, that's right.

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

CARMEL: And for 100 million Americans with spinal cord injuries, with Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's, this was a crushing blow because, we know that embryonic stem cells can become any type of cell in the body and restore many of these people to full function.

CROWLEY: Jay, let me ask you, if you can -- if you can, under the restrictions the president has put on, you can do research on these existing lines, what's the problem with extending it?

Why not get as many people out looking for ways to make this help people who are sick or disabled?

JAY LEFKOWICZ, FORMER BUSH DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISOR: Candy, it's a good question. And the answer really is that the president's policy allows stem cell research of all types to be developed with federal funding, and it also encourages private sector research in all areas of stem cell research.

In fact, the president did two things over the last few years with respect to stem cell research.

One, he unleashed the first federal funding ever in our history for stem cell research of the embryonic nature, continuing the funding for adult stem cell research, which today has actually proved much more successful.

But in addition, he eliminated some pre-existing restrictions on private sector research on embryonic stem cells that had existed under the prior administration.

So right now, the potential is unlimited, both with federal funding and with private sector research. But he did it in a way that is moral and ethical. He did it in a way consistent with some 30 years of congressional legislation. He did it without encouraging the additional destruction of human embryos with federal dollars.

CROWLEY: Let me switch this back to David.

I mean, there are people with genuine concerns about embryos being created to be destroyed. Why isn't it sufficient to use these existing lines and to use adult stem cell research, which really has shown the most application for existing diseases at this point?

CARMEL: Well, embryonic stem cell research offers the most hope of any of these. And he wasn't able to answer your question.

There is a ban in existence. And that's in 70 Nobel Laureates, 70 percent of the American public, 58 senators, including 13 senators from his party like Orrin Hatch and Kay Bailey Hutchinson support lifting the ban of these restrictions on stem cell research.

There is enormous hope. And embryonic stem cell research can do more thing and different things than adult stem cells and that the prior lines can. What we are saying is we want to put the power in the hands of doctors and scientists. Let them go out there; give them the opportunity to discover cures.

CROWLEY: And in fact, Jay, let me just shift the topic a little bit and let you reply to this, but also say to you that when I am out there on the Kerry campaign, very much, it's about the Bush administration is an anti-science administration, that they are -- they are blocking what could be great breakthroughs here.

Do you run the risk with this position that you look uncaring? That's a problem with swing voters.

LEFKOWICZ: Candy, I think most Americans recognize that when we're talking about issues of life and death, it's important not to just look at the science aspects but also to look at the ethical and the moral consequences.

We don't, for example, harvest organs of Death Row inmates even moments before they're going to be dead. What we do is we follow medical ethics.

We have unleashed federal funding for stem cell research, but in an ethical way. And if David's correct, if in fact this potential really proves to be genuine, then all of the drug companies in America will jump into it, and the private sector will be unleashed.

CROWLEY: But David...

LEFKOWICZ: The issue here is to do it in a balanced and prudent and responsible way.

CROWLEY: David, you're going to get the last 15 seconds here. As a voting issue, does this have great resonance now when it didn't, say, four years ago?

CARMEL: Absolutely. People will vote on this issue, because everybody knows somebody with heart disease or cancer or Parkinson's, and they want to see somebody in the White House who will unleash the power of science will put it over ideology.

They haven't explained why they're putting restrictions. John Kerry has a very...

CROWLEY: Well, they have a moral.

CARMEL: John Kerry has a very specific plan. When he's in the White House, he will lift these restrictions. He will increase funding to over $100 million per year, and he will make sure that there is strict ethical oversight, to make sure that this is done in a proper way.

CROWLEY: David Carmel, we're going to have to let that be the last word, medical research outreach and advisor to John Kerry. We thank you.

Way too complicated, Jay Lefkowicz, for us to do in such a short time. But we hope you'll come back. We appreciate it.

LEFKOWICZ: I'll come back again.

CROWLEY: Formerly of the Bush White House.

CARMEL: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: His presidency ended 30 years ago. And on this anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation, some new tapes shed more light on his thoughts of the Vietnam War. The story when we return. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. As we reported earlier, John Kerry traversing the countryside, is in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. He was stopped by reporters and talked a bit.

He was asked the question that George Bush put out there, which is, "If you knew then what you now know, would you still have voted for the war on Iraq resolution?" Here's what John Kerry had to say.


KERRY: What I've said is if the commanders asked for it, then you'd have to respond to what the commanders asked for.

But my goal, my diplomacy, my statesmanship is to get our troops reduced in number, I believe if you do the statesmanship properly. And I believe if you do the statesmanship properly; I believe if you do the kind of alliance building available us to, that it is appropriate to have a goal of reducing our troops over that period of time.


CROWLEY: OK. Obviously, the question that he was answering was what he meant when he said that he would reduce troops in Iraq during his first year in office, saying obviously that he would do whatever the commanders want, but he believes it's still possible to reduce troops in the first year in office.

When presidential candidates say they are fit continues to hold the office, they're usually not talking about their fat to muscle ratio or the quality of their diet. Coming up, who's more physically fit for the job: Bush or Kerry?




CROWLEY: We're going to try again now. John Kerry out looking at the Grand Canyon today, stopped by reporters. Among the questions asked, "If you knew then what you know now, would you still have voted for the Iraq war resolution?"

Here, we believe, is his answer.


KERRY: I'd challenge the president back. But I'm ready for any challenge and I'll answer directly.

Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it's the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.

And my question to President Bush is why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace?


CROWLEY: So we will present that question to President Bush no doubt as he takes off for a week of campaigning.

On this day 30 years ago, an embattled president quit his job in disgrace over a little thing called Watergate. Richard Nixon left the Oval Office, and Gerald Ford became the nation's 38th president.

Some newly transcribed tapes shed new light on a troubling period for the Nixon White House: the Vietnam War.

Here's CNN Bruce Morton.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the summer of 1972, with a presidential election coming up, President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, talked about how to get out of Vietnam.

Nixon was down.

NIXON: I feel in the long run South Vietnam is probably never going to even survive anyway.

MORTON: They talked about winning the election but...

NIXON: It's terrible important this year, but can we have a viable foreign policy if a year from now, North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam? That's the real question.

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We can have a viable foreign policy if it looks like the result of South Vietnamese incompetence.

MORTON: Kissinger argues that quick pullout would upset everybody, even the Chinese, and domestically it won't help all that much, because opponents will say we should have done it even earlier. They need a year or two of space, he says.

KISSINGER: After a year, Mr. President, Vietnam will be a backwater. If we settle, say, this October, by January 1974, no one will give a damn.

MORTON: Which is sort of what happened. The U.S. settled. Its prisoners came home in 1973. Watergate, which no one could have predicted, drove Nixon from office and the North Vietnamese actually took Saigon and won the war when Gerald Ford was president.

Did Nixon really think about getting out in 1972? Historians disagree. Kissinger says no, that Nixon, like Lyndon Johnson before him, just got discouraged sometimes. Anyway, Nixon did buy some time and Vietnam became, if not a backwater, not a major issue in future presidential elections either.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: And that is it for today on INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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