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A Tough Sell?; Indecent Politics?; 'Brazile Vs. Buchanan'

Aired February 4, 2005 - 15:29   ET


ANNOUNCER: President Bush on the road, searching for common ground on Social Security.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm willing to work with anybody, Republican or Democrat or Independent, who wants to come in and discuss ways to solve the problem.

ANNOUNCER: But who may pose bigger problems for the president, Democrats or his fellow Republicans?

Cabinet comings and goings. Who's in, who's on the road, and who says he almost called it quits?

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I submitted my resignation to President Bush twice during that period.

ANNOUNCER: The debate over raunchy TV exposed. Are politicians still up in arms one year after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a legitimate concern of the public, and it's certainly a concern of our families.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

President Bush is headed to Florida, a state where more than a few politicians have found Social Security reform to be a tough sell in the past. Senior citizens continue to be a prime target on the second day of Mr. Bush's sales trip. Our White House correspondent Dana Bash filed this report from the president's first stop of the day, Omaha.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For the second day the president is on the road trying to calm seniors' fears that his plans to create private accounts for Social Security will not cut their benefits, but also trying to excite younger workers by insisting that his proposal is probably the only way, he says, to make sure that retirement money will be there for them. BUSH: It is summed up by this chart that says in 2018 the facts are that the amount of money going out of Social Security is greater than the amount of money coming in to Social Security. And as you can see from the chart, it gets worse every year. That's what that red means.

BASH: The theme of this two-day trip is to pressure key Democrats in states Mr. Bush won. And here in Nebraska, the White House hopes to persuade Senator Ben Nelson by gathering a campaign-size crowd of about 10,000 of his constituents.

Now, here it may be an easier sell than other stops, because unlike most Democrats who are vehemently opposed to the idea of private accounts for Social Security, Senator Nelson told CNN he actually wants to work with the president, but that there are still crucial details Mr. Bush is not addressing, like how much benefits will be cut and whether or not his plan will really make Social Security solvent.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: Well, I think the constituency here which voted overwhelmingly for the president's re-election, just generally they'll have some skepticism about any kind of tampering with Social Security. It's sort of they're anxious to see the plan. The president has gone from a concept to some content, and now it's time to see the calculations.

BASH: Senator Nelson did not seem to mind this attention. He is meeting here in Nebraska with some White House aides and even signed a cartoon in a local paper poking fun of all this and gave it to the president.

White House aides are well aware of how monumental this task is, but they say the president is very relaxed, visibly so, because in this campaign he doesn't have to face the voters again. But they say he will be on the road twice a week for the rest of the month trying to convince members of Congress who are up for re-election that they need to do what's hard.

Dana Bash, CNN, Omaha, Nebraska.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Dana.

On Social Security, the president has some convincing to do within his own party. Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, where the president visited today, says he will propose his own reform plan. He says he doesn't think Mr. Bush's proposal for private retirement accounts is the solution.

Like Hagel, more and more Republicans are voicing reservations about the Bush plan both publicly and privately. At the same time, Bush opponents are continuing an aggressive campaign against the plan. has an ad focusing on benefit cuts, a $200,000 ad buy in New York, Washington and in three select congressional districts. The Republican National Committee has asked stations not to air the ad, saying that it, "falsely and maliciously" portrays Bush's plan, a charge that MoveOn denies.

Well, let's talk more about Social Security reform and other matters with one of the new members of the president's cabinet. He is Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. Congratulations again on your appointment.

MIKE LEAVITT, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Thank you. And thank you for the invitation.

WOODRUFF: Well, so you not only -- you have the president on the road selling Social Security, but you've got -- not only got open opposition on the part of Democrats, but you've got Republicans like Senator Hagel, Congressman McCrery, who heads up the subcommittee in the House of Representatives, saying if this money is coming out of the trust fund for those private accounts, this is never going to work. And he's a Republican.

How do you get around that kind of opposition?

LEAVITT: Well, I think that's the reason the president has gone on the road. The message is a simple one.

There's a point in the life of every problem when it's big enough you can see it, but small enough you can still solve it. And that's the point Social Security is arriving at very rapidly for a generation. And I think there is an inherent sense of not just obligation, but an intuitive belief that the president's right. And I believe that going to the people is the only way, frankly, that he'll be able to convey that message in a way that Congress will hear and act.

WOODRUFF: Do you agree, though, that it's a problem that as now constituted in this proposal, money for these accounts would come out of the trust fund?

LEAVITT: I think what the president is saying let's hear all the proposals, let's think this through as a country, let's examine this in every detail, where people have a chance to hear the facts. He believes, as I do, that when that occurs, people will see that this is the time, in fact, for us to act, and that we will begin to see public support from every generation to fix this.

WOODRUFF: You've got a number of other issues you're dealing with as the head of this huge agency, Health and Human -- Health and Human Services. Your priorities, you have said, one of them, is curbing the cost of Medicaid. This, of course, is the enormous program, $324 billion this year for the poor and the disabled.

Right now, the talk is about cutting back on the costs. But how would you do that without cutting benefits? Or could you do that?

LEAVITT: Well, the president wants to assure that Americans all have health insurance within their reach. We've made a commitment to the elderly and to the poor and to those who are persons with disabilities to assure that they have not just health insurance, but comprehensive care.

There are many others who we currently serve with Medicaid that need health insurance and help buying it. The key to this is going to be making certain that we size the commitment that we make and the obligation -- and size the benefit package to meet those different needs.

The states are desperately looking for flexibility to keep from having to have groups that are currently optional leave the program. We want to provide access, we want to provide access to more. So it's a function of making certain that we're spending the money we're spending and that -- and the billions of dollars more that we will spend in the most efficient way.

WOODRUFF: But some of the people you've talked about cutting benefits for are the so-called optional, those who are in it optionally. But these are people who are -- who don't have health insurance but they're not poor enough to qualify automatically for what's called mandatory coverage. So we really are -- I mean, these people have something to worry about.

LEAVITT: No. What we want to do is provide them with insurance and help in buying insurance that would be comparable to, say, the insurance that their governor and the governor's children have, or that federal employees have, or that the best private sector health plan in their state would have.

So this is high quality care, but perhaps different than we provide for a person who is in a nursing home or different from a person who might be in a desperately poor situation. Our purpose is to continue -- we will spend nearly $5 trillion on this program over the course of the next 10 years.


LEAVITT: And we just want to serve the maximum number of people possible. This isn't about saving money. It's about expanding it to more people.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about one other thing, and that is something that your predecessor, Tommy Thompson, raised when he was leaving. He said, "I cannot understand why the terrorists have not yet attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do so."

He was clearly concerned about this. What are you doing about it? And are you as worried as he was?

LEAVITT: Our food supply is among the safest in the world, and it needs to stay that way. There is no such thing as zero threat, and we need to constantly be finding ways to improve it, more inspections, making certain that the quality of what we're doing is there.

The food supply is safe and it will continue to be safe. We have not eliminated all risk, but we will do everything we can to get as close to that as possible.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. The newly confirmed secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt. Thanks very much.

LEAVITT: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: It's good to see you. Former governor of the state of Utah.


WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

LEAVITT: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

Well, this is the first day on the job for another member of the Bush cabinet. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reported for work at the Justice Department one day after the Senate voted to -- by 60-36 to confirm his nomination. He told employees that fighting terror was would remain their top priority, but in a way that is "consistent with our values."

Condoleezza Rice is on her first overseas trip as secretary of state. During a news conference with the British foreign secretary, Rice said the question of a U.S. military attack on Iran is "not on the agenda at this point." But she added President Bush has not taken any option off the table to get Iran to back off of its nuclear program.

And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has revealed that he offered his resignation to President Bush during the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Rumsfeld spoke to CNN's Larry King in an exclusive interview that aired last night.


RUMSFELD: I submitted my resignation to President Bush twice during that period and told him that I felt that he ought to make the decision as to whether or not I stayed on. And he's made that...


WOODRUFF: Rumsfeld said if the president had accepted his resignation he would have left "with no regrets."

Well, like many Americans, we're counting down to Super Bowl Sunday. Up next, it has been a year since Janet Jackson became overexposed during halftime. But some officials here in Washington may not have put that incident behind them.

And, the Patriots or the Eagles? Governors Mitt Romney and Ed Rendell have placed their bets. We'll talk about them, about sports and politics. That's coming up. And later, a "Political Play of the Week" to embrace.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: This weekend, Super Bowl watchers can expect a relatively tame halftime show one year after Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction. That incident set off a political firestorm over indecency on television. CNN's Jennifer Mikell looks at whether the furor has eased up any since then.


JENNIFER MIKELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened in a flash. Janet Jackson's top went down and a cry went out from official Washington, "This will not stand."

MICHAEL POWELL, FMR. FCC CHAIRMAN: I thought it was outrageous and I was deeply disappointed as I sat there with my two children.

MIKELL: One year later, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell is stepping down, but only after he made broadcasters pay. The FCC imposed more than $7.5 million in fines for indecent program last year, including a $550,000 shot at CBS for airing the Jackson peep show.

POWELL: I feel like I've largely completed what I set out to do.

MIKELL: Another high-profile Powell target, radio shock jock Howard Stern. He and other critics say the FCC's crackdown has been unfair and unconstitutional, violating free speech protections.

Will the commission ease up after Powell leaves? President Bush says he wants the next FCC chairman to have a good sense of when broadcasters cross the line.

BUSH: If I were interviewing an FCC chairman, please tell me where the line is and make sure you protect the capacity of people to speak freely in our society. But be willing to, if things get too far, you know, call them to account.

MIKELL: Some members of Congress want to help the FCC keep raunchy fare off TV. Two pending bills would dramatically increase the FCC's maximum fine.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: You really need to -- to get it up to a point where people would look at it and say that's a significant fine relative to what is the income sourcing for television.

MIKELL: The FCC's top fine for indecency is $32,500. Senator Brownback's bill would raise it to $500,000. But even now the FCC can find ways to jack up the penalty, as it did in the Janet Jackson case by fining 20 CBS-owned stations that aired the Super Bowl.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": This is the easiest issue in the world for members of Congress. They can stand up for morality. The bills are probably not going to pass. After all, they didn't pass last year after the Super Bowl furor. MIKELL: The bill's backers are far more optimistic about passage, citing strong bipartisan support.

BROWNBACK: We all campaign and we're out talking to the public. And the public is saying, you know, look, do they have to constantly assault our values when we're simply trying to raise our families?

KURTZ: Members of Congress and federal regulators say they're protecting the American public from exposure to this sleazy stuff. But who is it -- who are the millions of people who tune into "Desperate Housewives?"



MIKELL (on camera): There will be something for everyone in this debate on TV Sunday: "Desperate Housewives" and the Super Bowl halftime show, featuring a fully clothed G-rated performance by Paul McCartney.

Jennifer Mikell, CNN.


WOODRUFF: Thanks, Jennifer.

Well, the big game is also a time for big political wagers. Up next, I'll talk with governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts about what's on the line for Sunday's Super Bowl.


WOODRUFF: The governors of the two blue states that are home to this weekend's Super Bowl teams have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the big game. Just within the hour, I discussed the Super Bowl and a little politics with Democrat Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Republican Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. I started by asking Governor Romney when a red state might get to send a team to the Super Bowl.


GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I'll tell you, I'm one red spec, in a blue state, but we're excited. Regardless of the side of the aisle you're from, it's great to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl again. And good luck also to the Eagles. We're going to beat them, but I want them to do real well so it's an exciting game.

WOODRUFF: What's the score going to be, Governor Rendell?

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think 24-21, Eagles. We're going to score in the last play of the game. And Jeff Thomason is going to catch a touchdown pass and we'll make a TV movie out it of, Judy.

WOODRUFF: What's it going to look like, Governor Romney? Is that it?

ROMNEY: No, I'm afraid not. You know, Coach Reid is a pretty good guy and an old alumnus of my alma mater, Brigham Young University. But he's not going to be able to beat Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The Patriots are going to take it 27-17.

WOODRUFF: All right.

Governor Rendell, the Eagles have not won a national championship since the 1960s. Somebody said they're like the Democratic Party of pro football. What's going to be any different this Sunday?

RENDELL: I think that's a little unfair characterization. But what's different this Sunday is this is a team that is both loose and as focused and determined as any pro team I've ever seen.

I think they're just going to refuse to lose. Whatever it takes -- and we're not kidding ourselves, the Patriots are a great team -- but whatever it takes, I think the Eagles are going to raise their game a notch. And just having T.O. on the field, Terrell Owens, I think is going to lift the emotional effort of the Eagles sky high, Judy.


Governor Romney, another political question. You know, the -- we know that the Patriots have won two out of the last three. What's to stop them from getting -- you know, being like the Republicans and maybe getting a little smug on Sunday?

ROMNEY: Well, the great thing about Bill Belichick, who I think is the greatest football coach in the pro football world today, is that he knows how to keep his team concentrated and focused. These guys look professional, they act professionally, they don't -- they don't get all caught up in the hype.

They're focusing on this game. And they've proven time and again that they know what to do when they get to the show.

And this is a big event. The entire world is watching. They're concentrating. They're going to do their job well.

And that's why in these clutch situations in the past, they've come through. They're a first-class organization.

WOODRUFF: So the bet is that the loser gets to sing at an NBA basketball game.

Governor Rendell, can you sing a few bars of the "National Anthem," which is what we understand you might have to do?

RENDELL: You sure you want to do this to the CNN listening audience? I sing like a sick cat. Here we go. Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light...

That's what I need. I need support. But guys, wait.

But really, this is all hypothetical, Judy, because I'm not going to have to sing. Mitt's going to have to sing at the Wachovia Center. And he will get a hell of a reaction.

WOODRUFF: Governor Rendell, you were so bad that you killed the satellite line with Governor Romney up in Boston. We no longer have him.

We were going to have him sing too. But unless we can get him back -- in the meantime -- what's that? Go ahead.

RENDELL: I've heard him sing, and he's got a great voice. So what I suggested is, in the unlikely event that the Patriots win, I will stand there with a jersey and my wife, Midge, who has a great voice -- she used to sing professionally -- she'll sing the anthem. Because we love the people of Boston. They're a blue state, I don't want to punish them.

WOODRUFF: One last question about politics. Howard Dean looking like he's going to be the next chairman of the party. You were one of several governors who was trying to work out a plan where there would be somebody else who would be the spokesperson, the general chairman of the party.

That didn't work out. So you must be nervous about Howard Dean?

RENDELL: Well, it's not a question of being nervous. Having been the general chairman when we had two chairs, Judy, I think that system works better, to have a spokesperson who travels the country and does the TV shows, and then to have someone who is a great technician run the building.

But we've tried to convince Bob Kerrey and Leon Panetta and people like that to step forward. And for various reasons they didn't want to do it.

Let me say this, Howard Dean has great ideas. I had a talk with him about 10 days ago. He has great ideas for bringing the party back.

If Howard can, you know, focus, bring in others to be the party spokesman, I think he's going to turn out to be a surprisingly good chair. He wasn't my first choice, but I think he's going to surprise an awful lot of people.

WOODRUFF: Governor Ed Rendell, supporting his Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. And our apologies to Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The line went down just as soon as Governor Rendell started singing. We don't know if there was a connection or not.

RENDELL: Hey, Judy -- Judy. you talked about -- you talked about the future, whether the red states are going to get in on it. I have one bold prediction. Next year it's going to be a blue state, Pittsburgh versus Philadelphia. WOODRUFF: All right.

RENDELL: And I'm going to have to bet myself. I'm going to have to bet myself.

WOODRUFF: We don't have Governor Romney to hold up his end of this, but we'll give him equal time later.

Thank you both. We appreciate it.

RENDELL: Thank. Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Boy, that's going to be something to hear if he's the one who's got to sing.

Thanks to them both.

The two governors aren't the only ones with friendly wagers on the Super Bowl. Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan and his Pennsylvania Republican counterpart, Robert Brady, have also placed a bet. The loser will have to wear the helmet of the winning team for a week, presumably even in the halls of the Capitol. The two congressmen will be on CNN's "CROSSFIRE" at 4:30 Eastern to talk about their wager.

Well, Howard Dean does seem to be pulling way in the race for DNC chairman. Up next, we'll update the race and tell you which candidate is the latest to call it quits.

Also, Bill Schneider explains why Wednesday night's most memorable moment happened not on the floor, but in the balcony of the House chamber.


WOODRUFF: It is just exactly 4:00 in the East. And as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report."

Hi, Kitty.


We have a pretty broad-based rally going on Wall Street now. Stocks are charging higher for the fourth session this week, and that's leaving all major averages with gains of about 2.5 percent on the week.

The final trades are still being counted, but let's take a look. The Dow industrial's up 120 points, the Nasdaq more than one percent higher. Time Warner, parent company of this network, posted quarterly profits that jumped 76 percent from a year ago. That beat Wall Street estimates.

On to the latest figures on employment. Fairly fuzzy picture on the job market. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in January. That's the lowest since the September 11th attacks, but that was largely because a growing number of people have stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed. 146,000 jobs were added last month. This is the seventh time in the past eight months that job creation has fallen short of expectations.

Tobacco stocks rallied after a major win in the courtroom. A federal appeals court ruled the Justice Department cannot use a racketeering law to seek $280 billion in past profits from tobacco companies. The lawsuit accused the industry of misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. But today's decision puts a major hole in the government's case. So, we're seeing shares of Altria, which is the parent company of Philip Morris, up a nearly three and a quarter points and a nearly four point gain on the parent of RJR Reynolds.

Well, here is a funny one. A hit at the box office is causing a sensation at the liquor store. Bottles, cases of Pinot Noir, have more than doubled since the release of the Oscar-nominated film "Sideways." The Pinot Noir grape is something in Paul Giamatti's character -- they discuss at length in the movie. So that's causing the spike.

Coming up on CNN, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," outsourcing America. Many American companies are rushing to cash in on low-cost foreign labor markets, but many are discovering the results can be disappointing.


GARY GRIFFITHS, EVERDREAM: There were days when I was afraid to pick up the phone to talk to yet another customer who was upset with the poor service experience.


PILGRIM: Also tonight, broken borders. More Americans are working to protect our country's borders from illegal immigration and Lou's guest tonight, Kathy McKee, founder of the group Protect America Now.

Then, Chinese counterfeiters are quick to copy all sorts of American products and the latest is Callaway golf clubs. We'll have a special report. Plus, President Bush is now busy pushing his plan to overhaul Social Security. Democratic Ben Nelson joins Lou to discuss the president's plan. That and more tonight, 6:00 Eastern, on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Kitty, and we'll be watching at 6:00. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: Another victory for Howard Dean.

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIR CANDIDATE: You know, we -- I love this stuff.

ANNOUNCER: Winning will do that for you. And today Dean's one step closer to taking over the Democratic party.

It's never too early for New Hampshire. John Edwards returns to the granite state just three months after the election. The former senator's also scored a new job. We'll tell you all about it.

And a hug is but a hug. Except when it's a lot more.

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. One week to go until the Democrats choose a new party chairman. But to hear even one of his just departed rivals tell it, Howard Dean has the job all but locked up. Simon Rosenberg today followed the lead of several other candidates for DNC chair by dropping out of the race and endorsing Dean. Rosenberg praised Dean for running a remarkable and very effective race, in his words, and he said he would help Democrats win again in the 21st century.

With me now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and in Boston, Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Donna, do you, first -- there are still some nerves, though, in the Democratic party about Howard Dean, aren't there?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think people are calming down at this point. Howard Dean has brought in significant support. Not only has he picked up support from some of his rivals, but he's picking up support now from states that early on said that they wanted to go with someone else. So I think Dean will have a unanimous vote next week.

WOODRUFF: And Bay, we have the chairman of the Michigan state Democratic party saying -- Mark Brewer saying let the Republicans have their fun right now, I think they're going to regret the day that Howard Dean became chairman of the Democratic party.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Well, you know, I will say one thing about Howard Dean and this goes to his credit. He is extremely hard working, he's focused. He knows what he wants. He's passionate, he's energetic. These are great things to have in the leader of your party. You can't take that away from him.

I think the problem is not the individual in the sense that he's capable of being a leader, but much more it's the image that he has and the image that he lends to the party itself. He's from the left- wing of that party and I don't think it's in the best interest of the Democrats to have somebody from their left flank leading the pack right now.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, that's a matter of style. I think Howard Dean will be an effective spokesperson. He wants to get in and reform the Democratic party, not just speak on behalf of Democrats, but actually get out there and empower other Democrats to speak up and to help organize his party from the bottom up. So I think he will be an effective chairman.

WOODRUFF: So the hard work is going to pay -- account for something, isn't it, Bay?

BUCHANAN: There's no question. You know, it's one thing for us over here and the Republicans -- I know we're rather pleased to see him coming in. I know the left wing of the Democratic party is celebrating. But at the same time, you have to, you have to pull back and say, listen, I know the guy's identified as this, but can he re- create himself? Can he come across instead of somebody who's an anti- war -- passionate anti-war left-winger can he come across as somebody who is more of a moderate and lead the party back to some victories?

He is certainly capable, Judy. He is certainly capable. And all that energy, and if he knows what he needs to do, I think he could do it, but I do believe that the Democrats would have been smarter to go with somebody equally as capable who's much more mainstream and can sell to those red states better than Howard Dean.

WOODRUFF: We hear you. Let's talk about Social Security. Donna, we're now officially two days into the president's trying to sell this. He's out in the states making the case. How's it going?

BRAZILE: Look, I think the president is once again drawing the same crowd he drew during the presidential campaign, his own supporters. He's not really pulling in people who are questioning this proposal, people who have certain concerns about whether or not this will keep the program solvent. So I don't think the president is really striking a fire the way he thought he would by going in the heartland of the country.

WOODRUFF: Bay, we're looking at some live pictures of the president in Tampa. What's your answer to Donna?

BRAZILE: The key here is, as I've read the stories and seen the pictures, there's a lot of young people. The young people are very supportive of this. That is not his general base. And so I think there's enormous positive here in the sense that the Republican party now is being led by a man who's reaching out and offering something new and fresh to the young people who are responding.

Whether he gets it through or not, I think still this is a good thing that we are out there trying to solve a problem that's coming up. It's a clear collision course and all the Democrats have to say is, this is what we're against. We're against all these things. We're against this. They have nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing to be for, only what to be against. That's not a good thing.

WOODRUFF: Isn't she right about that, Donna, on this? The Democrats are just saying we don't like what the president's doing and they're not offering their own plan. BRAZILE: I think the Democrats will offer their own plan, and our plan will keep this program solvent for the next 100 years. Our plan, I believe, will also tell the American people the truth. There's no crisis right now. And while Bay is correct that young people are coming out, they're coming out because the president is like a rock star. They just want to have a little fun, Bay.

WOODRUFF: Hey, a rock star, Bay. That's what it's all about.

BRAZILE: They're not rocking to this plan, Bay. This plan is going to knock out their future. They're not rocking to this, Bay.

BUCHANAN: That's just not the case. The polls show they're very, very favorable, they're looking on this private investment accounts for themselves. They know that it is a good answer for them. There's no question the president has a problem how to pay for this. We're all looking at that. But the Democrats say they're going to have a solution, and all that I've ever heard from the Democrats is we'll raise the taxes, we'll take care of this with taxes. It's time to get some details in their plans. The president is..

BRAZILE: We'll have a plan, but we will not support any program -- I mean, any plan that will dismantle Social Security.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Donna Brazile...

BUCHANAN: Neither will we, Donna.

BRAZILE: Will too, Bay.

BUCHANAN: We are against dismantling, too.

WOODRUFF: Bay Buchanan in blue state this afternoon. Good to see you, Bay. Thanks very much.

BRAZILE: Go Philadelphia, Bay.

BUCHANAN: Thanks very much.

WOODRUFF: All right. Thank you. We'll see you next week.

Well, some people may remember President Bush's State of the Union address this week for what he said about Social Security, but many others probably found the visuals more memorable, including our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. We found a picture that's worth 5,000 words. And one "Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): An election in Iraq, a speech in Washington. The two events came together this week in one dramatic moment. One of President Bush's guests at the State of the Union speech was Iraqi human rights activist Safia al-Suhail. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 11 years ago Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country.

SCHNEIDER: The president also invited the parents of Marine Sergeant Byron Norwood, who was killed in the assault on Falluja.

BUSH: We honor freedom's defenders and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.

SCHNEIDER: The two women had just met, as Janet Norwood recounted the next morning on ABC's "Good Morning America."

JANET NORWOOD, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: I asked if her finger was purple, and she held it up and showed me that it was and I just grabbed her finger and -- it would have made our son so proud to see this success of the elections in Iraq.

SCHNEIDER: When President Bush introduced the Norwoods, Safia al-Suhail responded with a wordless gesture of sisterhood that electrified the moment.

SAFIA TALEB AL-SUHAIL, IRAQ VOTER: I didn't control myself. I know exactly what -- how to -- what's the feeling of losing your beloved ones. I've also lost my father and I really appreciated what her son and other soldiers did for our country.

SCHNEIDER: Triumph and suffering, conveyed with more eloquence than words ever could. Two women, one gesture. The political "Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Supporters and critics of President Bush's Iraq policy will take away different meanings from that moment, which undoubtedly conveys the human side of the conflict -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Undoubtedly. You're right. That is the moment everyone remembers.


WOODRUFF: Bill, thank you very much.

More questions today about the blurring of the line between government and journalism. Up next, we'll tell you about a new Pentagon Web site and why it's raising some eyebrows. Also ahead, a nuclear option under discussion on Capitol Hill. Our Bob Novak has the inside buzz. Plus, the other hug that got attention on State of the Union night.


WOODRUFF: Efforts by the Defense Department to expand the Pentagon's role as a provider of online news and information are being questioned by some top military officials. For more on this, let's turn to our CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Hi, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Judy. Well, remember a few weeks ago President Bush made it very clear that the United States government would not be paying people who appear to be journalists but, instead, were really working and paid for by the government to advance the Bush administration agenda. He said that was a no-no.

Let's listen to what President Bush had to say.


BUSH: But all our cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet.


STARR: Now, new developments here because the Pentagon may be finding itself in a spot of trouble. The Pentagon's inspector general has now been asked to take a close look at Pentagon programs which do hire journalists to write for some information warfare Web sites. These are Web sites we'll show you in a minute that look like news Web sites but are actually run by Information Operations personnel.

The spokesman for the department, Larry Di Rita, talked to CNN about this IG investigation.


LARRY DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: And I have asked that in the department that we review with that specific issue in mind to make sure that we're staying well within the lines.


STARR: What he's talking about, let's show you some of these Web sites. These are Web sites, if you look at them, they look like news and information Web sites, but there is a very small disclaimer that tells you they are actually run by the Department of Defense. And these are not news Web sites, these are Web sites which have the specific mission of trying to influence foreign audiences, citizens outside of the United States.

And, of course, the issue is that they are also seen here inside the United States. So is the U.S. military engaging in influence operations here inside this country? It is something, Judy, that has journalism experts very worried.

Here's what one of them had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM ROSENSTIEL, PROJ. FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM: The government is deceiving people. They may technically suggest that they're not because that disclaimer is there, but you need to be looking for that disclaimer.


STARR: What we have found is that over 50 writers, contributors, commentators, journalists, whatever you want to call them, currently have been paid by the Pentagon to write for this influence Web site, which many people say looks like a news Web site.

So now in the wake of what the president has said, the Pentagon is taking a look deep inside its own corridors trying to find out if it's in compliance with President Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Boy, Barbara, a stunner of a story and everybody is going to be asking has this been done by previous administrations? I guess that's the next piece of the reporting here.

Barbara, thank you very much, Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon.

Well, a high-profile visit to New Hampshire leads off our Friday "Political Bytes." Democrat John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth are headed to the Granite State this weekend. The former senator and vice presidential candidate speaks tomorrow at the state party's annual 100 Club Dinner.

Edwards sent an e-mail to supporters this morning announcing that he has accepted a post at the University of North Carolina to examine ways to fight poverty. He also noted that Elizabeth Edwards is quote, "doing incredibly well" in her treatments for breast cancer.

In Washington State, Republicans today asked a judge to nullify the election of Democrat Christine Gregoire as governor, and to order a new election. Gregoire, as you may recall, was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi after two recounts. She won by a margin of 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast. Christine Gregoire was sworn in as governor on January 12th. Ultimately the dispute is expected to be decided in the Washington State Supreme Court. Where have we heard this before?

And in New York, a Manhattan judge ruled today that the state's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. If that ruling is upheld on appeal, it would allow gay couples to marry in New York.

Bob Novak says Senate Republicans are running out of patience. Up next, Bob joins me with his "Reporter's Notebook" to talk about how the GOP plans to bring a stalled judicial nominee up for a vote.


WOODRUFF: Bob Novak joins us now from Miami with some inside buzz all the way down there in South Florida. Bob, first of all, I understand Senate Republicans have been looking at ways to deal with the president's stalled judicial nominees.

BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Yes, it's called the so-called "nuclear option" where they would use parliamentary procedure to try to confirm these stalled judges by a majority vote without getting the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture.

And Judy, the first one they have decided on to try this on is an associate justice of the California Supreme Court, Janice Robert -- Rogers Brown, she's a very articulate, attractive person, very conservative, African-American woman who has been called "Clarence Thomas in skirts." And she is one of many stalled judges. This is -- a "nuclear option" is going to be tried in about a month from now.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's move over to the House side. The dream, the hope of working out an early compromise on Social Security ran into some problems this week.

NOVAK: Yes, the Republicans had hoped to negotiate with a highly respected congressman, Ben Cardin of Maryland, hoping he would become the ranking Democrat on the Social Security Subcommittee replacing the late Robert Matsui. But he is a compromiser and the leadership, instead, put in Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan who was a strong party man, absolutely against personal accounts on Social Security. Bad news for the Republicans.

WOODRUFF: Hmm. All right. When Bill Thomas speaks, everybody listens. You heard about some of the things he's been saying at that Republican retreat last week.

NOVAK: Yes. I'm told that Chairman Thomas of the Ways and Means Committee told his fellow Republicans he was very bullish on repealing the corporate income tax this year, replacing it with a value-added tax, but very bearish on any reform of the individual income tax system as the president wants. He was down on the flat tax, on this national sales tax. And if Bill Thomas is not for an income tax reform on the individual tax it ain't going to happen.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of taxes, the tax cutting group Club for Growth has had a little battle on the inside. Tell us about that.

NOVAK: Yes, there was a -- Steve Moore, the very highly regarded head of Club for Growth, which has won a lot of campaigns by conservative tax-cutting candidates over the last several years, said he was being replaced in a kind of a friendly way, but, in fact, he was kicked out. He was fired by the board in a personality agreement. He is now forming his own organization, the Free Enterprise Fund, which means there's two groups out there fighting each other on raising funds for conservative candidates. Kind of bad news for the conservative movement.

WOODRUFF: Last but not least, do you care to give me a prediction on the Super Bowl? NOVAK: Well, I don't do very well on football predictions, but since I'm usually wrong, it's good news for the Eagles because I think that New England is going to win.

WOODRUFF: Whoa. OK. He went way out on a limb on that one. Thanks, Bob.

NOVAK: I sure did. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you back in Washington. You can hear more from Bob this weekend on "The Novak Zone." Be sure to note the new time, that is tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, 11:30 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.

Hand shakes and back slapping are standard fare when President Bush makes his State of the Union entrance and exit, but a particular one on one was especially hard to miss this week. The story on that just ahead.


WOODRUFF: As many lawmakers apparently know, President Bush can be an affectionate guy, but during his State of the Union exit, one senator seemed to get an extra dose of the warm fuzzies from the president. Look at this. More than a hug, more than a handshake, Mr. Bush appeared to kiss Democrat Joe Lieberman on the cheek. So how does Senator Lieberman describe their close encounter? In his words, I extended my hand and he was good enough to give me a manly embrace.

We can't do any better than that explanation. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Friday. Have a good weekend. I'm Judy Woodruff, we'll see you Monday. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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