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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Bush Nominates Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State; Christian Conservatives Pray Against Specter Confirmation as Judicial Committee Chair; Interview With Senator Mitch McConnell; Can Democratic Party's Barak Obama Meet High Expectations?
Aired November 16, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge the Senate to promptly confirm Condoleezza Rice as America's 66th secretary of state.
ANNOUNCER: The president taps his one-time foreign policy tutor to join his cabinet. Is their close-working relationship an asset or a liability?
Christian conservatives pray to higher powers on Capitol Hill. Can they convince Republicans to deny Arlen Specter a top Senate job?
Welcome back Congress. We'll watch the political stars and the also-rans come out with an eye toward election 2008.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.
The president wants to promote Condoleezza Rice to be, as he put it, "America's face to the world." But the mark she'd make at home inside the State Department and within the cabinet may be just as important to Mr. Bush. We begin our coverage of the new secretary of state nominee and other possible changes at the top with our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy.
Well, you know, Condoleezza Rice has known the Bush family since working for George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, in his National Security Council. But she hooked up with George W. Bush as a then Texas governor, somebody who did not know much about foreign policy.
She was his tutor then. And, of course, she has been his national security adviser for the past four years and very close confidante, and some say even good friend. But also a very important guiding force in his foreign policy. And today, Mr. Bush said her experience, even her grace, makes her the right person to be his top diplomat. And he noted that -- that he -- that she has sound and steady judgment, in his words.
Now, Rice would be the second woman, but the first black woman to serve as secretary of state if confirmed. And as Mr. Bush spoke, Dr. Rice was visibly teary, essentially looking a little upset as he talked about her family and talked about her background, particularly growing up in the segregated South and noting that that has given her experiences and given her a world view that has guided her foreign policy specifically as somebody who grew up without the same democratic rights as others, and talking about how that guides particularly the Bush foreign policy, her policy to try to find democracy in places like the Middle East.
Now, the president calls her the unsticker, somebody who likes to and can get things done in his administration. But for all the praise, in some quarters there are questions about her management skills and style, about whether or not she really has the experience to be America's top diplomat, and whether or not her more hard-liner views will play well in a State Department that is used to a more moderate Collin Powell.
That has been cause of concern at the State Department. That is something that Condoleezza Rice today tried today to quell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: In my 25 years of experience in foreign affairs, both in and out of government, I have come to know the men and women of the Department of State. I have the utmost admiration and respect for their skill, their professionalism and their dedication.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, in picking Dr. Rice, this follows a pattern that we have come to see in the second term Bush White House. That is, the president putting his most loyal and trusted aides in key cabinet positions.
Of course Alberto Gonzales last week. His White House counsel was chosen for attorney general.
Some Republicans even are questioning this strategy, saying that perhaps it's a bad idea because it's going to make the president too insulated, not enough healthy debate will go on. But certainly the president was thinking of elevating some of his loyalists when he picked also today Stephen Hadley, who was his deputy national security adviser, to fill the role that Condoleezza Rice is filling.
Now, Condoleezza Rice, of course, will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Stephen Hadley will not -- Candy.
CROWLEY: So Dana, at first, I thought it was a silly question, and then I listened to some of the reservations about Condoleezza Rice. Her confirmation, is that likely? Is it in trouble? Is it -- engage it for me.
BASH: It's likely. Both Democrats and Republicans that I've talked to on Capitol Hill say it is almost certain to happen. But Democrats are saying that they're going to use the hearings to try to air and put out some of the questions that they tried to put out over the last four years about the president's foreign policy and her stewardship of that. Particularly, first and foremost, the president's Iraq policy, how Condoleezza rice was involved in vetting and articulating an Iraq policy using intelligence that later turned out not to be accurate, particularly talking about weapons of mass destruction, using that as a case for war.
They are also likely to revisit questions about whether or not she, as the president's leader here at the White House on foreign policy, really looked into al Qaeda enough before 9/11. That is something of course we saw during the 9/11 Commission hearings. We might hear more about that.
CROWLEY: And tell me a little bit more about Stephen Hadley, her replacement.
BASH: Well, Stephen Hadley, as I mentioned, has been here for all four years. He, too, was on the president's campaign foreign policy team back in 2000.
He is somebody who has been around Washington for quite some time, served presidents since President Ford. But he is also somebody who has had to perhaps take the public fall for some of the missteps.
For example, the president using those now famous 16 words in his State of the Union Address two years ago, saying that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa. The White House later had to say that was -- shouldn't have been in there. And Stephen Hadley had to take the fall for that.
But, Candy, talking to some aides around the NSC, they -- he seems to be revered inside the NSC. They talk about him as somebody they call "the dad," somebody who is a calming force and somebody who can multitask, which, as they point out, is something that is desperately needed in that job -- Candy.
CROWLEY: CNN's Dana Bash. Busy times at the White House. Thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you.
CROWLEY: We'll have much more ahead on Rice's nomination and the president's second term cabinet shovel -- shuffle. But right now we want to go to Capitol Hill, where Senator Arlen Specter is fighting to get the Senate Judiciary chairmanship. But some irked fellow Republicans may be standing in his way, along with anti-abortion conservatives waging a campaign today of prayer and protest.
For that story, we want to go to our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Candy.
It's been a day of high drama in the Senate. It's supposed to be a lame duck session with a lot of leftover business for this Congress. But instead, the focus has been on the next Congress and whether or not Arlen Specter will be the next judiciary chairman.
Conservatives still irate about some comments Specter made right after the election, suggesting it will be difficult for an anti- abortion nominee to make it through the Senate, on to the Supreme Court, if in fact there's a vacancy in the next Congress. Right now, this morning, Arlen Specter faced over an hour of tough questions from Republican leaders behind closed doors demanding some answers from Specter about what he meant by those comments, what kind of a chairman will he be.
Conservative outside groups are really putting the pressure on Republican leaders here on the Hill, saying that they helped deliver the last election for Republicans, that they're owed. They want one of their own, a conservative to be running any confirmation hearings for the high court next year.
And, in fact, one of these groups, the Christian Defense Coalition, held a demonstration today on Capitol Hill saying Specter is not the right man for the job. Here's what Robert Schenck had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT SCHENCK, CHRISTIAN DEFENSE COALITION: Senator Specter's record is clear. He holds the president's principles in contempt, calling them extremist and fringe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, a key person to watch in all of this is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was at the meeting this morning in his office with Senator Specter and other Republican leaders. So far he's refused to endorse Specter.
And at this Christian Defense Coalition event today on the Hill, there was a sign saying, "Senator Frist, do the right thing" in the mind of these conservatives, "stop Specter." There was also -- these conservative activists then went to Bill Frist's office to pray for again for him to block Arlen Specter.
Specter now has some tough questioning this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. He's going to go behind closed doors with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. They also have some questions for him.
And the subtext here, in terms of watching Bill Frist, is the fact that it's an open secret on the Hill that Bill Frist is taking a look at running for president in 2008. Conservative groups putting a lot of pressure on him to try to stop Specter.
I can tell you the Frist staff says that that political calculation is not weighing on his mind at all. That in fact Frist is not looking ahead. Instead, he's focused on what's happening right now, and he's going to have an open mind for Arlen Specter.
Insiders here in the Republican conference say that the next 24 to 48 hours will be very important for Arlen Specter. He needs to put this behind him. He needs to answer these tough questions from the Judiciary Committee Republicans.
They say if he does not put this behind him in the next couple of days, conservatives will whip up more opposition because the formal vote on Specter and whether or not he'll be the chairman is not until January. If conservatives have more time to oppose him, it will be very difficult for him to stop it.
Now, what's working in Specter's favor right now, however, is that some colleagues like John McCain, Judd Gregg, other Republicans have come out to support Specter, saying that the seniority system should work, he's next in line and he should get it. They're also saying that in fact it would be a bad sign to stop a moderate Republican so soon after the election. That would send a bad sign across the country.
And finally, one interesting scenario that continues to be floated is that if Specter is stopped, some people are saying maybe Orrin Hatch, the current chairman, will get a waiver and stay on as chairman -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Ed Henry. One of those truisms in politics, the guys who win big are always the first ones to start fighting with each other. Thanks very much.
With the Senate's return today, the Democratic caucus formally elected Harry Reid of Nevada as the new minority leader. Speaking to reporters with other Democratic leaders, Reid acknowledged his party's weakened position after Election Day. He said he was ready to work with the Bush White House and Republicans but willing to work against them if necessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: We're going to work with the president. He said four years ago he wanted to be a uniter. He called me the day after the election and said he wanted to be a uniter.
It didn't work too well the first four years. We hope it works the second four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Reid briefly paid tribute to defeated senator and outgoing Minority Leader Tom Daschle, as well as his returning colleague, John Kerry. Reid says Senator Kerry got more than one standing ovation during the Democrats' caucus meeting today. We will have a live report later on Reid and the Democrats. And we have more on the Republican wrangling over Arlen Specter. Up next, we'll get an insiders' take on Specter's lobbying campaign from Senate majority whip Mitch McConnell.
Plus, how does Condoleezza Rice compare to foreign policy honchos of administrations past?
And later, we'll catch up with Bill Clinton as he prepares to inaugurate his presidential library.
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
CROWLEY: As we told you earlier, Arlen Specter is spending much of the day lobbying for the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. Joining us for some perspective is Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Senator, thank you for being here.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Glad to be with you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Is Senator Specter going to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee?
MCCONNELL: Well, we had a good meeting this morning. He requested a meeting with our Senate Republican leadership. We had a chance to sit down with Senator Specter this morning and exchange views.
And as you probably know, he's going to meet with the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee who will actually make that decision in the next few weeks this afternoon. So I thought it was a good, constructive decision.
CROWLEY: Are you with him?
MCCONNELL: Look, we're going to continue the discussions, and we'll find out where we are at the end of the day.
CROWLEY: Gosh, Senator, it sounds like you're not with him.
MCCONNELL: No, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't interpret it that way at all. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee is a very important position dealing with the president's judicial nominations. It was a big issue in the campaign.
Senator Specter knows that. And he's been busily at work reassuring lots of us on that issue. And this will take its course, and we'll make a decision in due time.
CROWLEY: And what do you -- from your perspective, what did Senator Specter say that caused you concern?
MCCONNELL: I think all of us feel that the president is entitled to the benefit of the doubt on his judicial appointments. And Senator Specter correctly points out that he supported all of President George W. Bush's nominees throughout the term. That's a good, strong argument on his behalf.
He also reminds us all that he was a point man during a very controversial nomination with regard to Justice Clarence Thomas back in the early '90s. Another good point. These have been very constructive decisions, and I'm sure we're all going to work it out sometime soon.
CROWLEY: But he's done something that has bothered you, and I'm trying to figure out like, specifically, did you think he looked as though he was threatening the president not to send up an anti- abortion candidate? What was it that particularly bothered you?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think one thing all Republican senators have in common is they want the president to be successful. And an important part of being successful clearly is to be able to get your judicial nominations through.
We would have that concern, frankly, no matter who was taking over the Judiciary Committee. These have all been constructive discussions, and I think it's going to get worked out in the end. I know there's not a lot of other news going on here in the Capitol right now and people seem to be somewhat fixated on this one.
CROWLEY: Well, forgive us. It's a pretty good story from our perspective.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you -- you know how the Senate works, very well, far better than I do. But Senator Specter, by the way the Senate rules work or the Senate way of doing things work would be the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. If he is not, do you worry that the first signal that you send -- or is it that you want the first signal that you send to be that the conservative Christian side of the party is the one that is calling the shots?
MCCONNELL: Look, I don't want to answer a hypothetical. What I want to do as the second ranking Republican in the Senate who does a lot of vote counting all the time is have the maximum degree of unity. Unity around what? Around the president's program and the president's nominations.
And we want to come out of the box early in the 109th Congress with a maximum amount of unity supporting the president and his positions. That's what all of this is about. And it's a family matter at the moment. I think it's all going to get sorted out in a constructive way.
CROWLEY: OK. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, we thank you very much.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Take care.
Some critics of Mr. Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice are speaking up to say she's too close to the president and national security staff to be an effective secretary of state. They say that policy discussions are best served when there is less familiarity between the State Department and the White House. Bruce Morton now takes a look at how it was done in past administrations.
BUSH: In Dr. Rice, the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A national security adviser to become secretary of state? Don't those two jobs compete? Well, sometimes yes.
John Kennedy had the first modern national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy. But Kennedy used the same group of close advisers, including his brother Robert, on most issues, foreign or domestic, including the Cuban missile Chris.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.
MORTON: Audiotapes of meetings during the missile crisis suggest Dean Rusk, the secretary of state, was something of an outsider. Kennedy first named a lot of his aides, but Rusk was always Mr. Secretary or Mr. Rusk. Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, had more influence with his president than Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who resigned to protest Carter's decision to try to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran by military force.
The national security adviser's great power has always been access. He's in the same building as the president, has his ear. Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon's national security adviser. And when Nixon named him secretary of state, Kissinger kept both jobs. Access of course was everything.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: That's right. But Condoleezza Rice has an unprecedentedly close relationship with -- with the president. At times, it seems she's joined at the hip with him.
MORTON: And the two jobs aren't always in conflict. Ronald Reagan's national security staff got him in trouble over Iran Contra, but he scored major successes, too, a disarmament treaty with the Soviets, for instance.
The first President Bush's adviser, Brent Scowcroft, got along with the folks at State, and Bill Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, did with the security adviser, Sandy Berger. How will it work this time?
WMANN: Well, work in what sense? Will she be a dissenting voice bringing forward views that are different from the Pentagon and the vice president's office? Not necessarily. But will she have a close relationship with the president? Yes.
MORTON: And old friends, people who agree with him, seem to be what Bush wants on his second-term team.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
CROWLEY: They glossed over their differences during the campaign, but it's starting to seem a lot like old times. John McCain goes public with new criticism of President Bush. The story when we come back.
CROWLEY: Relations between President Bush and Republican Senator John McCain, which seemed to improve during the fall campaign, appear to be cooling off, this time over the issue of global warming. McCain tells "The New York Times" that the president's stands on climate change is, "terribly disappointing."
McCain convened a Senate hearing today, partly to build support for his bill that would restrict what are known as greenhouse gases. The president citing cost to the economy favors voluntary reductions.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is said to be in line to become the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The "Boston Globe" quotes sources who say Romney is expected to accept the post at the group's convention this week. The newspaper notes the move will place Romney in line to lead the group two years from now as he considers a potential run for the White House.
For more on the gathering of Republican governors and others who may have an eye on 2008, I'm joined by Chuck Todd. He is the editor- in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced daily by the "National Journal."
So, it started.
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE": It's the first -- I guess we should call it an unofficial cattle call, but we're going to see as many as six or seven potential Republican presidential candidates gathered in one place. And it's -- any time you get a gathering, you know, people...
CROWLEY: There's something about that, I think.
TODD: Yes, I know. People like me are curious about it.
Among the governors that are going to be there are Mitt Romney, as you mentioned, who is very much possibly even a tier one candidate. But Mike Huckabee from Arkansas, who is exploring; Haley Barbour from Mississippi, a former chairman of the Republican Party; Bill Owens of Colorado, who's always been thought of as a candidate; and even Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, is sort of a favorite among some economic conservatives.
Jeb Bush and George Pataki aren't going to be there, although they might end up showing up. They're not confirmed yet.
But still, to see these -- you know, five or six of these guys, it does give you a sense of where these governors might be leaning. You know, a governor has been president the last -- last three out of the last four times.
COLLINS: It's always been the farm team, really.
TODD: Absolutely. It's sort of where presidential candidates are born.
CROWLEY: Yes. Let me -- let me turn the corner. There's also an alumni coming?
TODD: Well, I guess an alum. It's sort of -- maybe with all the speculation that Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, may be leaving Homeland Security and doing what a lot of the cabinet guys are doing, which is sort of taking this time to -- to go pursue other opportunities, Ridge is going to be doing his political re-coming-out party at this RGA meeting.
On Friday he addresses the governors obviously on the topic of homeland security. But this is probably the most political group that Ridge has spoken to in over a year since he's taken this post.
And Ridge was somebody who was always thought to be a presidential candidate. And then, you know, when the whole terrorism threat stuff, he always became Mr. Sad News Guy. And nobody wants to be Mr. Bad News Guy. And I think, you know, by him -- if he does leave this post, he does this meeting, we'll see -- I think he wants to see if he can get his groove back a little bit.
CROWLEY: And it's a good -- it's friendly audience for him.
TODD: Certainly a friendly audience. And he was a very popular governor when he was -- when he was governor of Pennsylvania.
CROWLEY: Let me talk about the democrats. Have they found reason to celebrate? What are you looking for in Little Rock at the Clinton Library?
TODD: Well, Clinton Palooza, I guess, is one way to call it, or Woodstock for Democrats. It's where everybody -- all these Democrats are just gravitating toward Little Rock this week to try to reclaim some glory.
I think what will be interesting to see is how big of a role is Hillary Clinton in this event during the opening of the library. Is there -- you know, this gathering is -- literally every strategist that has worked on a presidential campaign in the last 12 years will be in Little Rock.
Does this become a quasi monster.com recruiting resume festival for the Clinton presidency campaign? And if it does, does it build real momentum? Is there a moment that they try to do to sort of capitalize on all this Clinton love-fest down there? Or do we find out that maybe there is some hesitancy on a Hillary campaign in '08?
I think there'll be something to look for. We'll know some moment over the next three or four days about how popular Hillary is among Clinton alumni.
CROWLEY: Chuck Todd, you're off to the Republican governors.
TODD: I am.
CROWLEY: Fill me in on that. I'll fill you in on the Clinton library.
TODD: Fair enough.
CROWLEY: Thanks. "The Hotline," an insider political briefing, is produced daily by the "National Journal." Go online to nationaljournal.com for subscription information.
President Bush turns to a trusted friend to replace Colin Powell. Coming up, will Condoleezza Rice's nomination lead to house cleaning at the State Department?
Plus, it was the state that decided this year's presidential election, but now there's word of a recount in Ohio. Details are coming up.
And later, former President Clinton is back in the headlines. We'll tell you a little bit more about why.
More INSIDE POLITICS after a short break.
CROWLEY: As the markets close on Wall Street, I'm joined by who else but Lou Dobbs in New York for "The Dobbs Report" -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, ANCHOR, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Candy, how are you? Concerns today on Wall Street about inflation and those concerns sent stock prices lower. Inflation at the wholesale level rising 1.7 percent in October. That's the biggest increase in inflation in nearly 15 years. And fueling that increase, soaring energy costs and food prices. The inflation report suggesting that after being held in check for months, inflation is picking up.
Stocks on Wall Street losing on the news as the final trades are now being counted. The Dow Jones Industrials down 62 points. The Nasdaq Composite down 3/4 of a percent on the day. Oil down nearly $1 a barrel, settling just above $46.
In currency trading today, the dollar was weaker again against the euro but remained just below its record low.
The federal agency that insures millions of workers' pensions in this country is in deep financial trouble and it's calling on Congress for help. The Pension Benefit and Guarantee Corporation says its deficits (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to a record $23 billion this year. The agency warns it can't cover its liabilities and may ask Congress for more money.
Finally, there are more millionaires at least in this country than ever before. According to an annual survey, the number of households with a net worth of more than a million dollars jumped 33 percent from last year. That surge largely due to gains in the stock market. Almost half of those millionaires by the way are retired.
Now for a preview of what's coming up on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," as part of our "Broken Borders" series, we take a look tonight at the states that are fed up with the lack of federal action on immigration. California may be looking to take a page from Arizona, which passed a law barring illegal aliens from receiving state welfare benefits, Proposition 200, and a lot of other states are now following suit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM TANCHEDO (R), COLORADO: When you have a government that is unwilling to defend our own border, simply because and only because they fear the kind of political consequences that would accrue as a result of stopping the flow of illegal immigration, we've got a problem, a big problem. And the people in Arizona, I say God bless them for addressing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: They addressed it with Proposition 200. Casey Wian will have that special report on the large and growing number of states that will be emulating Arizona in the next two years.
Also tonight, foreign workers may soon be taking away more American jobs legally. And we're not outsourcing this time but rather bringing foreign workers here. A bill that leaves a giant loophole for worker visas may be passed by Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. We'll investigate and have that special report for you as well.
And tonight we take a look at the reconstruction efforts in Iraq only two months before Iraq holds presidential elections. I'll be talking with Andrew Natsios of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
And Grover Norquist, the president of Americans For Tax Reform will be my guest. He helped write the GOP's contract with America, one of the country's leading conservatives, he's my guest and says President Bush has, in his opinion, just two years to solve Iraq to protect Republican candidates in the midterm elections.
Also joining me tonight, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee. We'll be talking about her perspective on the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. Now back to Candy Crowley in Washington -- Candy. CROWLEY: Thanks, Lou. As always, packing a lot into an hour. We'll see you at 6:00.
DOBBS: You got it.
CROWLEY: INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice to be America's secretary of state.
ANNOUNCER: President Bush picks his own national security adviser to replace Colin Powell. Is today's move a victory for hard- liners?
He's the fresh face Democrats love to talk about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a real good feeling that this man will be probably the premier leader of my generation.
ANNOUNCER: But can Senator-Elect Barak Obama live up to great expectations?
Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
CROWLEY: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley sitting in for Judy today. When President Bush announced his nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, both he and Rice took pains to praise outgoing top diplomat Colin Powell. Over at the State Department though officials are gearing up for a changing of the guard. Here's our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Candy, once Secretary of State Powell departs this building he'll be replacing -- essentially the lone voice of dissent will be going with him and he will replaced by the president's close personal confidante, Condoleezza Rice. She's been with him since 1999 when she was serving as his foreign policy adviser while he was campaigning for the office in 2000 and she's someone the president made very clear he sees as being up to the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: During the last four years I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And I am honored she's agreed to serve in my cabinet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: As secretary of state observers say it will be very clear that Secretary Rice, when she is confirmed, will have the president's ear and will be able to speak with confidence on his behalf when she travels to capitals abroad. And while widely respected for her personal access and her close relationship with the president, she has come under somewhat mixed reviews and criticism as her ability to administer the national security council and the conflicting voices within the president's national security team. Perhaps with that in mind, Ms. Rice reached out to the career civil servants and foreign servants who she will be administering in a very short period of time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: If I am confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with the great people of the foreign service and the civil service, and one of my highest priorities as secretary will be to ensure that they have all the tools necessary to carry American diplomacy forward in the 21st century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: But the bottom line, Candy, is that most expect once Ms. Rice comes over here to the State Department for all intents and purposes, the foreign policy of President Bush will be run out of the White House -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Interesting times, Andrea Koppel, at the State Department, thanks.
We are going to talk more about the nomination of Condoleezza Rice with Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. He will be sitting on the committee that will confirm or not confirm Condoleezza Rice. We'll talk to him a little later in the show.
As we have reported, Nevada's Harry Reid is the Democrats' new leader in the Senate. CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns is on Capitol Hill with more on Reid's election -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, Harry Reid obviously taking over for Senator Tom Daschle who lost his election. A study in contrast here today. He, of course, was elected to be the next Senate Democratic leader. He gets a lot of press for being soft-spoken, but when you really listen to him and watch him work he can be, some say, dismissive, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) clearly right now taking control of the Democrats in the United States Senate, warning Republicans for example not to change the rules on judicial nominations because he makes the case that one day Democrats will be back on top in the United States Senate.
He also twice refused to answer a question about trying to get Republican -- the moderate Republican, Lincoln Chafee to switch parties here in the United States Senate. At the same time, Harry Reid does make the case that he can still work with Republicans even though he makes it clear that he draws the line on things like Social Security and education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: We're going to work with the president. He said four years ago he wanted to be a uniter. He called me the day after the election and said he wanted to be a uniter. Didn't work too well the first four years. We hope it works the second four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Now, House Republicans also met today to re-elect their leaders. No surprises there, of course. Dennis Hastert remains the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Tom DeLay remains the majority leader of the House of Representatives. They talked, of course, about wanting to work with the president on things like tax reform, tax simplification, Social Security. Senate Republicans will hold their leadership elections tomorrow.
During this lame duck session, of course, there is still work to do for the United States Congress, and one of the things they are still working on right now is raising the so-called debt ceiling, of course, the borrowing limit, the legal borrowing limit for the United States government. Democrats have been pushing very hard for stand- alone votes on raising the debt limit because they want to point out the fiscal policies under the Bush administration.
It apparently appears now the Democrats are going to get their way in the United States Senate as well as the House of Representatives. The real question is, what is the timetable for all of that? It's also complicated by the fact that a lot of Democrats want to go to Arkansas to the library opening for President Clinton there.
That's making it a little bit more complicated on when they're finally going to get that vote. How much is it going to be raised? Anywhere we hear between $650 billion to $800 billion. Of course, a huge amount of money there. But the people here make the money in Washington.
Back to you, Candy.
CROWLEY: Joe Johns on Capitol Hill. Thanks, Joe.
Coming up, two weeks after the election, is it recount time again?
And later, Barack Obama's great expectations. Can the incoming Illinois Senator live up to all that hype?
CROWLEY: As promised, a little more now about the nomination of Condoleezza Rice and her prospect for confirmation. We have with us for that discussion Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, ranking member -- Democratic member on the Intelligence Committee, also sitting on Foreign Relations, which is where I'd like to go first.
Anything bother you about Condoleezza Rice at the head of the State Department?
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Candy, I'm not sure yet. I'm thinking about it. The 9/11 Commission did not give the National Security Council good marks. It said it had been weak. And, of course, she headed that up.
I worked for the State Department once and I -- you know, people who work in the State Department really want their secretary to stand up for them, to represent also their points of view, not exclusively their points of view but also their points of view.
And so I have the question, is she going to do that or is she going to simply be an appendage to the White House? I think those are the kinds of questions which are on the minds of people who at the same time enormously respect her credentials and her intelligence and her personal integrity. But independence from the White House is a part of an effective secretary of state.
CROWLEY: But in the end, Senator Rockefeller, though, isn't the argument that the secretary is a member of the president's cabinet, and is not a relationship with him where she can go and say, look, there's this and there's this and the other thing not beneficial to people who are trying to get across their observations about various parts of the world?
ROCKEFELLER: Well, she's had that opportunity obviously at the National Security Council on a much more frequent basis for four years now. And the question is, did she really -- on the question of weapons of mass destruction and the whole build-up to the war in Iraq and all the rest of it, was she bringing her full point of view, if she had a different one, to bear on the president?
And I say that out of full respect to her because I know her well and like her very much. But the secretary of state is kind of the original -- after the Department of Commerce and the president, I think, is the original position in the cabinet. It's huge. Is it going to be a unilateralist policy that we pursue? Is she going to reach out to nations to help us in our obviously long obligation to Iraq and wherever else we may get involved?
CROWLEY: I want to talk real turkey with you here about this nomination coming off something I read. Do you really think that it is possible that Democrats would stand in the way of a woman who is quite well qualified and who is, in addition, an African-American and a female going over to the State Department, and the first in both those capacities, can you really turn that down, Senator?
ROCKEFELLER: Without responding to your question in the way that you asked it, because it had innuendoes in it, I think it's most probable that she will be confirmed. I think it's almost certain that she will be confirmed. And I'm certain that there will be a number of Democrats who will vote for her.
But I am, as you indicated, on the Intelligence Committee. I've had a lot of dealings with the National Security Council, with the White House, with the way -- you know, with this people resigning, Porter Goss going in the CIA, not making a particularly smooth beginning over there, potentially bringing in people who either have a point of view or out to get some people or are there with maybe a modest political agenda.
I mean, this has to be -- if the president wants to create a legacy, it has got to be done in an open, representative basis, which the American people, slightly over half of whom -- the votes of whom he received, are, in fact, represented.
This is not a chance for him to put all of the people who are just simply loyalists to him in office regardless of the merits of the problems which surround us. So I'm just holding my counsel on Condi Rice.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Senator Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia.
ROCKEFELLER: Thank you.
CROWLEY: We will look forward to the hearings, appreciate it.
ROCKEFELLER: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Colin Powell soon may be looking for work and at least one Republican has an idea for him. New York Congressman Vito Fossella says he has urged Powell to run against Senator Hillary Clinton in 2006. After all, Fossella notes, Powell has deeper roots in the state than Senator Clinton, having been born and raised in New York City. But Fossella may not want to keep his hopes up. The State Department says Powell plans to return to private life.
Former President Clinton on politics past and present, just ahead, the 42nd president talks about the recent election and looks ahead to the dedication of his presidential library.
CROWLEY: Checking the headlines. In campaign news daily, Florida Governor Jeb Bush says he opposes same-sex marriages but he will not support an effort to amend his state's constitution to ban the practice. The governor was quoted as saying the amendment is not necessary because current law forbids the practice. He also said he could change his opinion if future court rulings weaken current laws. President Bush, of course, backs an amendment to the U.S. constitution banning such marriages.
In Washington state, an unexpectedly large number of outstanding ballots have added a new twist to the overtime race for governor. More uncounted ballots surfaced yesterday in King County, a stronghold for Democrat Christine Gregoire. The extra ballots pushed her ahead of Republican Dino Rossi by about 358 votes out of almost 3 million cast. The state has until tomorrow to finish counting the remaining 22,000 ballots.
Election results in Ohio don't have to be certified until next month but already it looks like the state will have to perform a recount. Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Party nominee David Cobb say they have raised more than $130,000 to pay for an Ohio recount. The two men say they aren't trying to overturn Bush's Ohio victory, they just want to ensure that every vote is counted.
In New Jersey, there's a new man in charge. State Senate president Richard Codey took over as the Garden State's acting governor today. The Democrat is filling the 14 months left in Jim McGreevey's term. McGreevey resigned after he admitted having an affair with another man.
Former president Bill Clinton is in Arkansas this week for the official opening of his presidential library. Several days of events leading up to the dedication included a speech today in Little Rock where Clinton talked about his post-White House efforts to end religious and ethnic conflicts. He also found a way to work in a reference to the now much discussed cultural divide in the recent U.S. election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working still in the Middle East, I go there a time or two a year. I have a peace center in Northern Ireland where we still have problems but we're still working and bringing in people. I've been back to the Balkans. I'm working all across the country on these -- I mean, all across the world on these divisions. And you know, after the last election, I thought maybe I needed a religious reconciliation project here in America. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: The Clinton Presidential Center will be dedicated on Thursday. I.P. will cover it. I will be down there and reporting back at this hour. Former presidents Bush and Carter are also expected to attend. And U-2 lead singer Bono is scheduled to perform.
He's the only the third African-American to be elected to Senate since Reconstruction and is seen as a rising star in the Democratic party. But will Barak Obama's celebrity status make his job more difficult? We'll take a look after the break.
CROWLEY: One of the few bright spots for Democrats November 2 was Barak Obama who won a lopsided victory over Alan Keyes in the Illinois Senate race. Many see Obama as a rising star in the Democratic party but will he be able to meet high expectations? CNN's Keith Oppenheim takes a look.
SENATOR-ELECT BARAK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: We have wonderful support up in this area.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barak Obama is on his political honeymoon. This stop is part of a voter thank you tour in Illinois. Some even came from other states to express their hopes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...And to bring our states back together and to bring us back together as an American people.
OBAMA: Well, that's a pretty big job you just gave me.
OPPENHEIM: Obama's pushing principle...
OBAMA: People should be able to find a job that pays the living wage.
OPPENHEIM: And downplaying celebrity. But as he plays it cool, he's got fans who are hungry for a star.
ANDRE GREEN, ILLINOIS VOTER: I have a real good feeling that this man will be probably the premier leader of my generation.
DAN ROSTENKOWSKI (D), FMR. ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN: The Democratic party right now is, you know, talking about a Hillary Clinton-Barak Obama ticket.
OPPENHEIM: Premature as all this is, there is some reason for hype.
OBAMA: All of us defending a United States of America.
OPPENHEIM: His Democratic convention speech had a unifying theme. And as just the third African-American to be elected to the Senate since Reconstruction...
(on camera): Obama has said for some time he's expected to be thrown into the limelight. Less expected though is the intensity of all of this attention especially in the wake of an election where some are seeking a savior for the Democratic party.
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: He is an island of celebration in a sea of despair when it comes to our party and, therefore, people are investing more hope in him.
OPPENHEIM: And those hopes could outmatch his status. He's just 43 years old and his seniority in the Senate is near the bottom yet he seems to realize he won't be an average freshman.
OBAMA: We are going to get more invitations to speak across the country than the average freshman senator does. And we're going to have to say no a lot more than the average senator does.
OPPENHEIM: So as Obama prepares for his new job, he knows he has the will of voters behind him. The question is whether that momentum will take him to where he wants to go or whether he'll leave too many people expecting more. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Rockford, Illinois.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY. We're running now. That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. Judy is back tomorrow. I'm Candy Crowley. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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