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Storming of Fallujah Imminent?; Dueling Visions of America

Aired November 5, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to PRIME TIME POLITICS. Thanks for closing out the week with us here.
For Americans fighting in Iraq and for their families, tonight may be the calm before the storming of Fallujah, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops poised for what could be a brutal and deadly battle, a final bid to break the long-running insurgency in one stubborn city.

And here at home, dueling visions of what America should be, a clash over gay marriage, abortion rights and the law of the land.

But we begin tonight with the impending assault on Fallujah. Thousands of Americans are waiting for the order to move in on that city. They, along with Iraqi troops, have been training for battle in the sprawling city whose quarter of a million residents have largely fled. Occupying the city now, several thousand hard-core insurgents.

Tonight, warplanes continue to bomb Fallujah in preparation for that invasion. And one U.S. soldier has been killed in an attack on a U.S. checkpoint. The anticipated assault on Fallujah is part of a strategy to get key parts of the country back under government control in time for the Iraqi elections in late January, and that makes it important politically for Iraq and for President Bush.

Here is senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Days of airstrikes and constant skirmishes have been paving the way for an assault force that sources say will be larger than the U.S. Marines had during April's aborted offensive. It includes some American Army units and, importantly, thousands of specially trained Iraqi soldiers, whose performance in the past has been spotty.

FIRST LT. LYLE GILBERT, 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE: It's very unpredictable, but we have faith in them. Hopefully, they won't let us down.

MCINTYRE: In fact, the Iraqi participation, along with local citizen support, is considered key to success.

SAVIR SUMAIDAIE, IRAQ'S PERMANENT U.N. REPRESENTATIVE: The Fallujans are being subjected to a Taliban-like rule. Their houses are being commandeered. They are being threatened, and they themselves want the situation to be normalized. MCINTYRE: While the timing is secret, the showdown has been well telegraphed. More than half of Fallujah's 250,000 residents have already fled in anticipation of the offensive.

Insurgents, believed to number in the thousands, have been busy preparing defenses, attacking U.S. troops and rigging booby traps.

Located just west of Baghdad, Fallujah is not just the biggest hotbed of resistance in Iraq; it's also believed to be the base of operations for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who the U.S. hopes to capture or kill if he's there.

And while victory in Fallujah is crucial, no one is predicting it will break the back of the insurgency.

MAJ. JIM WEST, 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE: It is not, though, the panacea. Just by taking it out does not mean the rest of the insurgency will fall, but it will be a big chip in that block out there.

(on camera): Fallujah is not just the hotbed of resistance in Iraq. It's also believed to be the probation of operations of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who the U.S. hopes to capture or kill if he's still there. And while victory in Fallujah is crucial, no one here is predicting it will necessarily break the back of the insurgency.

MAJ. JIM WEST, 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE: It is not, though, the panacea. Just by taking it out does not mean the rest of the insurgency will fall, but it will be a big chip in that block out there.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The hope of the strategy is the U.S. may be able to draw down troops next year after a legitimate Iraqi government is in place supported by a substantial Iraqi military. But a telling fact is that, for now, Pentagon plans call for maintaining the current level of some 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.


ZAHN: That was Jamie McIntyre reporting for us from the Pentagon.

Joining me now by phone, Karl Penhaul, who is embedded with American forces near Fallujah. And we apologize ahead of time if the signal as it needs to be.

Karl, do you think the attack is imminent?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) part of the build- up of what will be an all-out assault on (INAUDIBLE) get set for that attack, Paula.

ZAHN: I know it must be as frustrating for you in the audience as it is for me to try to understand that.

So what we're going to do now is go to report that Karl filed a little bit earlier this evening that talks about how close an attack might be on Fallujah.

Let's listen.


PENHAUL: We're sitting in armored vehicles on -- somewhere north of Fallujah at this stage.

Over the last few minutes, we have seen one of the U.S. AC-130 Spectre gunships pounding suspected insurgent targets inside the city. We counted probably in excess of 20 ground fires from the Spectre (INAUDIBLE) millimeter Howitzer that lit up the night sky.

But it didn't seem to cause any secondary explosions. That would indicate the target would have been something ammunition dumps, possibly command and control posts or possibly (INAUDIBLE) machine gun nests, something like that.

We did also hear across, of course, (INAUDIBLE) swept the city with the same machine gun fire. That lasted for the space of two or three minutes. Unclear what the insurgents may have been firing at that stage.

At one point, the AC-130 gunships did appear to hit part of the power grid in Fallujah and a lot of electricity immediately goes down at that stage. Some buildings inside the city, though, do have generator power.

Now, according from latest information from U.S. military intelligence analysts, they believe that up to 2,000 hard-core insurgents are still holed up inside the city. And the aim of an assault on Fallujah will be to root out those people and use this an effort to crush the resistance movement across Iraq as the whole.

Certainly, no timeline has been set for that offensive, but here U.S. commanders are talking of when, not if, that will begin. They are also saying that it will be most definitely an urban warfare scenario. They are saying that could get bloody and it could get very dirty very quickly. In fact, U.S. commanders say that they are planning for the biggest Marine battle since (INAUDIBLE) city. That was back in Vietnam in 1968.


ZAHN: Once again, we apologize to you for the quality of that sound, but I think you all appreciate the difficulty in filing a report out of a region that is -- could be hours away, maybe as long as days away, from a ferocious attack on Fallujah. That report filed a little bit earlier today from Karl Penhaul near Fallujah.

And joining me now from Washington, CNN contributor and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, who met eventually with her former boss, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, just yesterday, in fact.

Always good to see you, Torie. Welcome back.

VICTORIA CLARKE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. Good to be here.

ZAHN: Thank you.

So, how risky does Secretary Rumsfeld think this mission will be?

CLARKE: There are risks in every mission, but you have to weigh the benefits and the risks and decide what is the appropriate action.

In this case, I know a lot of people, Secretary Rumsfeld and the command on the ground in Iraq, have done a lot of work with the Iraqi people, with the Iraqi leadership, with Prime Minister Allawi to decide on the timing and the right approach. Now, you exhaust every other resource. You try everything possible to avoid a major assault, but sometimes it gets the point where you decide that's what have you to do.

I know a lot of hard work has gone into the timing of it and weighing the benefits and the risks.

ZAHN: In spite of this effort you say at outreach, the fact remains that the interim president is still opposed to this potential attack. He says the way the coalition is managing the crisis is wrong. And secretary-General Kofi Annan of the Sunday is saying this could undermine elections in January. Are they wrong?

CLARKE: Well, let's separate the two. Allawi has been and continues to be a very, very strong partner in all the efforts in Iraq, as it should be. He's the interim leader and he should have a very strong stay on how these things go.

He may have different opinions or views on individual initiatives, if you will. But in terms of what we're trying to accomplish together, he's very, very much in support and in agreement with what this administration is trying to do.

ZAHN: So why is the president on a separate page?

CLARKE: Oh, I don't think he's on a separate page.


ZAHN: He's not in favor of this. There's no other way to read that comment.

CLARKE: Well, they would not be going forward if they hadn't worked closely with the Iraqi government in terms of the timing.

But I would separate that completely from Kofi Annan. I don't know what good it does to in any way suggest that the elections are going to have significant problems or something might impact those elections.

ZAHN: So what are you suggesting Kofi Annan's motivation is here?

CLARKE: I don't know. And I haven't seen the full statement. I have seen lots of reports of it today. I honestly don't know. I don't know the context in which he was discussing that. But I know what the Iraqi people have said again and again. They want those elections to go forward. They want them in January. They know it's a very, very important step in terms of putting that country on a solid path to a representative form of government to a peaceful and stable environment.

I know how important it is to them. And I think most people can appreciate that.

ZAHN: What do you say to critics of the Bush administration out there that say that the timing of this is purely political, that this attack was put off until after the election because of the incredible vulnerability of American troops who will be involved in this mission?

CLARKE: Oh, I just say nonsense. And quite honestly it's a bit of an insult to the military leadership on the ground over there, who do not care, do not pay attention to elections back here. They pay attention to what is the right timing from a tactical and a strategic standpoint. They pay attention to working with their Iraqi partners over there on the right way to proceed forward.

That's how they make their decisions, and no other reasons.

ZAHN: But you do understand why a lot of people could be skeptical about the timing of this, so shortly after this highly contentious election?

CLARKE: Well, actually, if you -- and people weren't paying a lot of attention honestly to Fallujah for the last couple of months I think because of the elections and all the excitement over here the last four to six weeks.

If you have been following it for the last few months, you have seen all the efforts to try to resolve it peacefully. You have seen all the efforts with the Iraqis on the ground to try to find a way to resolve this other than a major assault. And sometimes there has been progress and then it slipped back. So, if you look at it from a more long-term perspective, if you will, it makes a lot more sense. But, yes, there will always be skeptics out there. That's just human nature.

ZAHN: Torie Clarke, always glad to have your perspective. Thanks so much.

CLARKE: Thanks, Paula.

The war in Iraq is the focus of tonight's voting booth question. When do you think U.S. troops will be completely out of Iraq? Just log on to and give us your opinion. We'll give you the results at the end of the hour.

But just ahead on PRIME TIME POLITICS, the battles to come, as President Bush and the Republicans try to set a new course for the country.


ZAHN (voice-over): Tonight, a look ahead to the new Bush agenda, the focus on conservative values, as both sides base brace to an uncivil war and the clash of cultures.

And a look back with pictures and sound.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Iowa for making me...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most liberal member of the United States Senate.

KERRY: I've got two words for companies like Halliburton.


KERRY: It's the wrong war in the wrong place.

BUSH: In Texas, it's called walking.

ZAHN: The campaign that was.





G. GORDON LIDDY, HOST: You've got it right now. Al Qaeda is importing fighters into Fallujah and we're just waiting until the last one gets in there before we kill every last one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have got to figure it's a strategic mistake for the terrorists to group in one place and take on not innocent civilians, not men, women and children going to work at the World Trade Center, but the U.S. Marines, the 101st Airborne, the special forces of various sorts.

I do think we made a mistake in not taking Fallujah much earlier.

LIDDY: Much earlier. We did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did. But I understand why the mistake was made and I understand mistakes will be made in war. I don't know of any war in which mistakes haven't been made, going back to Alexander.


ZAHN: Well, as you just heard, this potential attack on Fallujah a hot topic on radio today, Iraqi and U.S. forces getting ready for an assault on Fallujah just outside of Baghdad. That has been big news today. The timing of it is a question mark for some opponents of the Bush administration coming just days after the U.S. election.

Joining me now, Democratic congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee. He's coming to us tonight from Miami.

Welcome back. Good to see you, sir.

REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: Good evening. Thanks for having me on.

ZAHN: Thank you.

So we just had one of our guests, Torie Clarke, say that it is nonsense for anybody to suggest that there was a political calculation here to hold off this attack until days after the election. Do you buy her argument?

FORD: Well, I think those questions are legitimate questions.

Something as significant as this, to wait until this point certainly is going to raise questions amongst my colleagues. I think the bigger question is, is this the right thing to do regardless of the timing? And if we're going to go forward, do we have the adequate number of troops and are we allowing the military leadership to make these decisions more so than the civilian leadership here in Washington?

ZAHN: You said this is a topic you that your colleagues have talked about. Is it your personal belief that the president or the Pentagon held off on this imminent attack because they know what the vulnerability of American troops would be and that would not go down well with the American public?

FORD: Well, they obviously did not make this decision in the last 48 hours. This has been reported in some of the major news publications over the last several weeks. And I have not been part of any meeting in Washington. And I don't know of any leading Democrats that have been part of any briefings in Washington on this.

However, that could indeed be the opposite case. The reality is, though, are we doing the right thing? And I would hope, in light of our record, that there are questions that should be asked. But I would hope that we have an adequate number of troops on the ground to accomplish this. I have heard others on your network this evening talk a little bit about this and lament that perhaps we are not as well prepared and have not thought out this offensive as perhaps as much as we should have.

And, obviously, Mr. Annan's, Kofi Annan's statements today or memo today urging us to be very careful and mindful that we could alienate ourselves even further from Arab nations and those who claim to be our friends and those who are our friends in that region in the world.

ZAHN: And he's taking the most heat for suggesting that if we do go into Fallujah, even with Iraqi troops, it could disrupt the upcoming elections there, if not derail them completely.

FORD: Well, it has the potential to destabilize things. Obviously, the security situation is worsening -- or I should say has worsen in many areas and could worsen in this area, which obviously would put in harm's way U.N. workers who are on the ground.

And we all know we need more U.N. election officials on the ground there in Iraq. And this could deter them from sending more inspectors and more personnel to help in this process. I hope they get it right. And based on our record up to this point in Iraq, we have not gotten it right very much after the capture of Saddam.

And this administration's record, regardless of what the country did on November 2, our record in Iraq has not been one that the civilian leadership at the Defense Department can be proud of. I do hope that the president will begin to hold some accountable at the Pentagon. I understand that Ms. Rice's name has been floated. I do hope whomever he puts over there he will hold that person accountable for decisions they make.

ZAHN: Let's move on to the broader issue of the future of the Democratic Party.

A lot of soul-searching going on among your colleagues. How much trouble do you think your party is in, particularly when it comes to the criticism that you guys are tone-deaf about social issues in this country?

FORD: Well, we have to confront a couple of things. There are some good things. One is that John Kerry got some 55 million votes on November 2; 48.5 percent of the country believes in us on the issues and supported us.

The flip side of that is that we're a minority party. And we're a minority party without a real clear governing philosophy and without a clear vision for the future. That being said, we've also been stung by the fact that many in this country don't believe that Democrats have the right position on values and perhaps our faith does not influence enough our policy positions.


ZAHN: Well, what do you think? Is your party guilty of that?

FORD: Well, whether we are or not, the voters always are the final arbiters in this. And they decided on November 2 to give us less seats in the Senate and fewer seats in the House.


ZAHN: So that's a big giant slap in the face, isn't it?

FORD: There's no doubt.

I think two things need to happen. First is, we as a party have to be comfortable talking about our faith and values and how they influence our instincts and how they influence how we set and make and develop policies, be it gun control, be it abortion. I think my party, we're never going to win on wedge issues. But we should understand the rationale behind some of these choices of abortion and guns and going to church on Sunday, a part of the country where I'm from where we do these things often, I grew up doing.

It's part of family. It's part of country. It's part of our life. It's part of our culture. And if we as a party don't get the benefit of the doubt on these issues, even if we're right on education, which I think we are, even if we're right on health care, which I think we are, and national security and intelligence reform, many Americans in these red states and in a big part of this country won't listen to us, let alone go along with us on many of these issues.

ZAHN: Well, it will be interesting to see what the approach is in the days to come. Representative Harold Ford, thank you for joining us on a Friday night.

FORD: Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

From the life-and-death conflict in Iraq, we move to a very different kind of confrontation here at home, the great divide on social issues like same-sex marriage, for one. Gay wedding bells, the death knell for Democrats in this election? But the biggest battles may be yet to come. That's next.


ZAHN: If moral values is the new political buzz phrase after the Bush victory on Tuesday, then gay marriage may be the first battle in the culture war to come.

On one front today, the Texas Board of Education approved new language on marriage in health textbooks for middle and high school students. The books now define marriage as a lifelong union between a husband and wife.

Here's our Tom Foreman on the national battle ahead over gay marriage.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a quiet neighborhood just outside of Washington, D.C., Joe O'Hara (ph) and Hoy Winn (ph) have been together for four years. They have often thought about marriage, but after Tuesday's vote, they are not sure know to think anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people really understood really what is involved in a gay relationship, what we have, we're not evil individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're lucky enough to find somebody that you love and that you can you want to marry, I think that's something that should not be -- that should be celebrated and not to be, you know, made to feel like we're kind of second-class people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I now pronounce you spouses for life.

FOREMAN: The gay community was euphoric earlier this year when a Massachusetts court opened the door to gay marriages. Since then, state governments, courts and voters have slammed it shut everywhere but Massachusetts. On Tuesday, 11 states banned gay marriage outright and conservatives say gay activists can blame themselves.

DAVID KEENE, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: We live in a tolerant society, but the problem is that we're not a people who take kindly to people flaunting and demanding that we not just tolerate their activities, but that we sort of praise it and accept it and applaud it.

FOREMAN: Gay right activists continue to believe the courts are their best hope for getting what voters do not want them to have, and at least one of the new bans is already being challenged. The Gay and Lesbian Task force insists, eventually, this issue will reach the Supreme Court.

MATT FOREMAN, GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE: Our concern, of course, is that when that case comes to the U.S. Supreme Court that it not be dominated by right-wing ideologues, which the president has promised to appoint to the court.

FOREMAN: Their opponents do not intend to wait.

KEENE: Unless the courts back off, it is going to require a constitutional amendment and we will support his effort to get one passed.

(on camera): You know this is going to be a very long uphill battle at this point.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a just huge lack of understanding.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Some gays accept that full marriage rights may never be won. But others say the latest setbacks are temporary and an incentive to keep fighting.


ZAHN: And that was our Tom Foreman reporting for us.

And joining me now to discuss the role of the issue of gay marriage in this election, "New Republic" editor Peter Beinart, who joins us from Washington, and with me here, the Reverend Joe Watkins. He was an adviser to the Bush campaign. He's also the director of Hill Solutions.

It's good to see both of you. Welcome. REV. JOE WATKINS, BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Good to see you, Paula.


ZAHN: Peter, I'm going to start with you this evening.

And let's talk a little bit about the results in Ohio. We know there that voters approved a gay marriage ban 62 to 38 percent. Would John Kerry have won Ohio if this had not been on the ballot?

PETER BEINART, EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I think he probably would have.

I think that the gay marriage issue was an enormous motivator for conservative voters in Southern Ohio. But one thing would be said about that. That was not just a gay marriage ban. That's a civil unions ban as well. And, in fact, almost all of these state amendments that passed are civil unions bans. They are not described that way in the press, but they are.

And Americans, while undoubtedly against gay marriage, are not against civil unions. If you put civil unions and gay marriage together, you get a clear majority. So I think this issue can be framed differently than it has been, both by the media and by the Democratic Party.

ZAHN: Reverend, do you by the theory that evangelicals, particularly those who were opposed to the war, that hate the federal deficits run up under this president, went to the polls to vote for these gay marriage bans?

WATKINS: Well, you know, 22 percent of the people who voted on Election Day said that the most important thing for them happened to be moral values. And when you talk about religious conservatives, you're not just talking about evangelicals.

You are talking of course about evangelicals, but you are talking about Bible-believing people who are Protestants, Bible-believing people who are Catholics, people who believe the Koran, Jews who have a literal interpretation as well of the scriptures. All of these people would side with the president when he says that marriage is between a man and a woman.

ZAHN: Peter, the Democrats got killed on this issue. And if you think the distinction is lost between a gay marriage ban and a civil union ban, what are the Democrats to do with this, ignore it altogether? It hurt them.

BEINART: It did hurt them.

Look, the Democrats have two choices. The Democrats can give up on this issue and say -- sell gay-loving couples down the river in the hopes of winning a few more votes, which I think would be immoral. I think the only answer the Democrats have is try to say to the society, look, if we're not ready for gay marriage yet, which I think we will be one day, to go for civil unions, to make the argument which I think many people understand that if you are a long-term, loving gay or lesbian couple, you should be able to visit your partner in the hospital when they get sick.

ZAHN: But you believe there's a different argument resonating out there. Do you see ultimately a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

WATKINS: I can't see that being the very first thing that the president tries to do in this new administration.

My guess is that, given the war on terror and the move to reform Social Security and the move to, of course, improve the quality of education for kids and making the tax cuts permanent, all those things are going to really dominate the president's agenda.

ZAHN: Gentlemen, if you would, please stay right there because we're going to come back to you. If the president owes his second term to religious conservatives, what do they expect in return? And how quickly do they expect it? We'll talk about that with our guests when we come back.


ZAHN: And welcome back. We are continuing our look at how religious conservatives might influence the second Bush administration. "New Republic" editor Peter Beinart joins us from Washington again. And with me here The Reverend Joe Watkins, an adviser to the Bush campaign. He is also the director of Hill Solutions. Welcome back.

Gentlemen, I wanted to share with our audience something the president had to say yesterday at his news conference on the issue of faith. Let's listen together.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be your president regardless of your faith and I don't expect you to agree with me necessarily on religion. As a matter of fact, no president should ever try to impose religion on our society.


ZAHN: Peter, do you think the president will adopt an agenda that will reflect a mandate from religious voters?

BEINART: Actually, I don't. I think what there will be is the traditional bait and switch that you saw with Newt Gingrich and with Ronald Reagan where basically Christian conservative voters go to the polls and basically what they get is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) corporate- driven agenda.

ZAHN: But there is a lot of pressure on the president not to repeat that. You have major influential Republicans and conservatives out there and Reverend Dobson, Richard Vigery (ph) who are basically saying if you don't deliver on our agenda we're not coming back to your party in 2008 which seems to be a threat that is repeated every four years but what are they talking about?

WATKINS: Christian people want the same thing that everybody wants. They want to be safe, they want jobs, they want good education for their kids, they want an economy...

ZAHN: Doesn't it go beyond that, though?

WATKINS: Of course, they want a president and they have got one, a president who has a strong value system and who is willing to talk about it freely.

ZAHN: Peter, do you believe implicit is in that is a hope, a fervent hope that Roe v. Wade might be overturned?

BEINART: Sure, I think no doubt about it. I think it will be tough to do that. I think you would need three appointments and I think political strategists in the Republican party fear the overturn of Roe v. Wade like they fear the plague. Because they know it would be a disaster for the Republican party to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

ZAHN: Why would it be a disaster for Roe v. Wade to be overturned for the Republican party?

WATKINS: Well, I'm not saying that it would be a disaster. He said that he wants to appoint a justice who would be a strict constructionist with regards to the constitution and it's likely that of course any appointment he would make would be a pro-life judge.

ZAHN: Peter, I hope we have gotten to this point in America where we can honor each other's faith. But at this stage in the process, is there too much god in politics?

BEINART: Many of the most important things that are happening in the United States have happened because they were motivated by people of faith. My only point would be this. When you enter the public arena and you are no longer in your faith community and you make arguments that have to win people over in a multireligious, multiethnic society, it is not good enough simply to say this is the view from my faith. You have to make arguments based on reason and fact and evidence.

I think that's the only concern when it meddles in the policy making process.

ZAHN: Reverend, I'll have to bring you back to argue stem cell.

WATKINS: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Reverend Watkins, thank you for your time. Peter Beinart, thanks as well.

And with the dust still settling on 2004, is it too soon to focus on the next campaign for president? Well, they don't call this primetime politics for nothing. I'll look at some possible candidates in the race of 2008 when we come back.


ZAHN: All right. So we know you have a big question. No, it isn't what went wrong with the Democrats and it doesn't have anything to do with the second Bush administration. It is about what comes after that? Political junkies want to know who is going to run for the White House in 2008. Judy Woodruff looks at the possibilities.


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS" (voice- over): Meet the kings of denial.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I'm not running for president in 2008.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We've get to get out of 2004 first.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I've given only thought to my reelection efforts in the state of Arizona.

WOODRUFF: And the queen.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Oh, I'm having the best time being the senator from New York.

WOODRUFF: But in our parallel universe, where the campaigning never stops, we're already waxing and wagering on 2008. And all of the above are in the hypothetical running.

AUDIENCE: Hillary! Hillary!

CLINTON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Hillary Clinton occupies a Democratic top tier of one. She has spent the past four years accumulating political chips, developing a reputation for diligence, and building a moderate voting record on Capitol Hill. But her potential candidacy is fraught with complications.

For one, she's, well, Hillary Clinton. Need we say more? For another, she has a 2006 reelection hurdle to vault, which could pit her against New York's governor or America's mayor...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From New York City, the honorable Rudolph Giuliani.

WOODRUFF: ... who seems raring for a rematch.

GIULIANI: Hillary Clinton and I are probably going to vote for the same candidate, George Bush, but -- but, you know, she may be thinking about 2008.

WOODRUFF: Many think Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki may be, too. Are they too moderate for the Bush Republican Party? CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Pataki and Giuliani would have a hard time winning a Republican primary. But if they slayed the dragon, the Democratic conservatives hate the most, Hillary Clinton, then suddenly they would get a pass on all those social issues.

MCCAIN: Do not flinch; stand up. Stand up with our president and fight.

WOODRUFF: John McCain is no right-wing firebrand either but he does have proven political star power and genuine crossover appeal. And he did do his part for the president this year. Will he take the plunge again? He's heading to New Hampshire next week.

McCain's fellow Vietnam vet, Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, is also making presidential rumblings. But he, too, may be singing off key in the current GOP climate.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Believe it or not, I've actually been called a moderate. What a terrible thing.

WOODRUFF: On the more conservative side of the spectrum Senate majority leader Bill Frist and Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman George Allen both notched big wins on Tuesday, wins they are trying to parlay into '08 capital.

But enough about the Republicans.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But the battle for you and the hard working Americans who built this country rages on.

WOODRUFF: John Edwards fended off charges that his 2004 campaign was a dress rehearsal for the next go ahead. Come January, he'll find himself back in the private sector without a Senate seat, but with a higher profile and lots of time to build up goodwill in his party.

Several other contenders in John Kerry's V.P. sweepstakes are being whispered about like Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, with his clear caucus advantage; Indiana Senator Evan Bayh with his new Democrat credentials; and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, outspoken, from a swing state and a member of a rapidly expanding group of voters, Latinos.

Howard Dean stayed in the spotlight after his campaign imploded.


WOODRUFF: So did retired General Wesley Clark. Seasoned by one White House campaign, perhaps they'll try another. Politics, after all, is a hard habit to break.


ZAHN: I know, and we're having trouble breaking that habit here. Judy Woodruff, thanks.

When we come back, what didn't happen on election day.


ZAHN: We have spent a lot of time analyzing what happened in Tuesday's election but some very important and even frightening things didn't happen. Here's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brace yourselves, we were told, it's coming. "It" could have applied to any of those dire predictions we heard leading up to the election: a terrorist attack, always a threat in the post-9/11 climate, seemed to many a more ominous possibility during election week.

A U.S. senator even closed his Capitol Hill office, citing what he called top secret intelligence.

SEN. MARK DAYTON (D), MINNESOTA: I would not bring my two sons to Capitol Hill between now and the election. So I'm not going to put other people's sons and daughters at a risk that I'm not there to share myself.

TODD: No attack near election day, and Senator Dayton reopened his office the very next day.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, TERRORISM EXPERT, RAND CORPORATION: Could be that because we were vigilant, because we were on guard, because of the warnings to we issued to deter the terrorists.

TODD: Another expert who's tracked al Qaeda for years tells us he doesn't think the group had the personnel in the U.S. to pull it off.

We also geared up for voting nightmares on and after election day: a deadlocked race that wouldn't be decided for weeks, provisional ballot battles, electronic machines going haywire, lingering stress over hanging chads, armies of attorneys roaming the land.

DAVID BOIES, GORE ELECTION ATTORNEY: I think when you have as many lawyers that are involved on both side, there is a danger that they all try to find something to do.

TODD: They may still be trying.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And nothing happened. Why not? Well, 2000, that's why not. Because they were prepared, knowing what happened in Florida.

TODD: Another political analyst tells us it boiled down to the fact that both the popular vote and the Electoral College, while close, did fall clearly to President Bush. It just wasn't close enough to warrant a fight.

Before Tuesday, many believed the youth vote would dominate. Rock the Vote and P. Diddy's Vote or Die campaigns generated huge publicity.

P. DIDDY, BAD BOY ENTERTAINMENT: We are going to decide the next president of the United States.

TODD: More young people did vote this year, but there were increases in turnout all over the demographic map, and the youth block comprised only 17 percent of all voters, the same percentage as in 2000. Political analysts say young voters typically aren't very partisan, and many young people of voting age simply have other things on their minds.

Then there was the Nader factor.

SCHNEIDER: People thought the election still might be so close that he could make a decisive difference in some states. And he very nearly did, but the states weren't quite that close the way Florida and New Hampshire were in 2000.


ZAHN: And that was Brian Todd reporting for us.

Whatever the future holds, it will have to go some distance to match the incredible highs and lows of the last campaign. Straight ahead, a look back at the sights and the sounds of the historic 2004 campaign.

And there's still time to weigh this on tonight's "Voting Booth" question: "When do you think U.S. troops will be completely out of Iraq?" Go to The results later on in this hour.

But first, some strong words on electronic voting from talk radio's Randi Rhodes.


RANDI RHODES, TALK RADIO HOST: This electronic voting crap is not only inaccurate and unreliable. But this electronic voting crap can be programmed to do exactly the opposite of what you're telling it to do or what it looks like it's doing for you.

It could also have different cutoffs. You can program the machine to do anything you want it to do. You could program the machine once it gets a majority of Kerry voters to start counting backwards. You can program the machine to give all the Kerry votes to Bush and all the Bush votes to Kerry.



ZAHN: Now on to the results of tonight's "Voting Booth" question: "When do you think U.S. troops will be completely out of Iraq?"

Seven percent say one to two years; 22 percent say three to five years; 28 percent say six to ten years, and 43 percent say even longer than that. Again, this is just a web site sampling. Not a scientific poll. We always appreciate your logging on to our site.

And here is some proof that the president's latest news conference looks a whole lot different on late night TV.




JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Mr. President, if I could, thank you. Now the election is over, are you going to take another vacation?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, I've been doing that for four years.

LENO: Mr. President, let me ask you this. What do you put on a constitutional hot dog?

BUSH: Constitutional muster.

LENO: No ketchup? Let's get serious, Mr. President. Let's talk about gay rights. What happened the last time you met with the governor of New Jersey?

BUSH: He was sitting upstairs and I finally said, "Go to bed."

LENO: And when was that?

BUSH: At 3:30 in the morning.

LENO: And what did he say to you?

BUSH: "Man, you're looking pretty." So I asked him the next morning, when he got up, I said, "Come by the Oval Office and visit."

LENO: I think we can stop right there.

BUSH: I never got to see him face to face and watch his, I guess, pride.

LENO: Thank you, all.


ZAHN: Oh, Jay.

The late night comics have given us a lot of laughs through a very long and bitter campaign, and there have been a lot of memorable moments, as well, many worth seeing again. We leave you tonight with some of the best sights and sounds of the 2004 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Iowa, for making me the comeback Kerry.

DEAN: We're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yes!

KERRY: I actually did vote for the $87 million before I voted against it.

BUSH: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.

After decades of brutal rule by a terror regime the Iraqi people have their country back.

KERRY: It's a thrill for me to have another guy with hair on the road. Thank you.

BARACK OBAMA (D), SENATOR-ELECT OF ILLINOIS: The hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

KERRY: I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry is no war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He betrayed all his shipmates.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even in this post 9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the world as has changed. He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror, as though al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.

BUSH: Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.

KERRY: It's the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

CHENEY: We make the wrong choice and the danger is that we'll get hit again.

EDWARDS: This is un-American. But the truth is, it proves once again that they will do anything and say anything to keep their jobs.

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, we have new documents and new information on the president's military service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would describe it as preferential treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of people wanting to get in there, the National Guard or the Army National Guard. I think that would have been a preference to anybody that didn't want to go to Vietnam.

RATHER: The failure of CBS News to properly, fully scrutinize the documents and their source led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so. It was a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Bush leapfrogged the long waiting list, the son of privilege. This fortunate son.

KERRY: I was in Orlando right next to Fantasyland, and the difference between George Bush and me is I drove by it. He lives in it.

BUSH: What kind of message does it say to our troops in harm's way, wrong war, wrong place, wrong time? It's not a message a commander in chief gives. Or this is a great diversion.

KERRY: In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said the enemy attacked us. Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us.

BUSH: First listen, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.

CHENEY: The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.

BUSH: Much as he's tried to obscure it, on issue after issue, my opponent showed why he earned his ranking as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.

My faith is a very personal -- I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harm's way. I pray for my family.

If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If this isn't good for my heart, I don't know what is.

KERRY: No matter what happens, I find that a great statement to the world about the power of democracy.

BUSH: Now's a time for the people to express their will.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS: Ohio, CNN is now projecting is a green state. Too close to call.

KERRY: Earlier today, I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory. But it is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio. And, therefore, we cannot win this election.

BUSH: I'm proud to lead such an amazing country, and I'm proud to lead it forward. Because we have done the hard work we are entering a season of hope.


ZAHN: Very potent images I think that will take many, many weeks for all of us to absorb.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. That is it for us for this week on PRIME TIME POLITICS. On Monday the outspoken former senator, Bob Kerrey, on the values of President Bush and the wounded Democratic Party. He will tell us what he thinks the Democratic Party needs to do to realign itself.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is next with the latest on the Scott Peterson trial. Once again, for all of us here on PRIME TIME POLITICS, have a great weekend. We'll be back Monday night. Good night.


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