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Public Crimes, Public Fears; Baseball & Congress; Democrats' Direction

Aired March 14, 2005 - 15:29   ET


ANNOUNCER: After the killing spree in Atlanta, Brian Nichols faces indictment and Americans grapple with their feelings about guns and crime and punishment.

Inside baseball's steroid scandal. Subpoenaed documents are delivered to Congress. What do they reveal?

The state of politics at the State Department now that another Bush loyalist is preparing to come on board.

KAREN HUGHES, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY NOMINEE: America's public diplomacy is neither Republican nor Democratic, but American.



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.

Whenever there is an extraordinary act of violence like the courthouse killings in Atlanta people inevitably ask how did this happen. Two days after the capture of suspect Brian Nichols, we have a clearer understanding of the chain of events, the courthouse escape, the shooting of a judge, deputy sheriff and court reporter, the 26- hour manhunt with more bloodshed and terror along the way.

The central question of what went wrong may take more time to answer. And the fallout is still unfolding. Ahead, we consider whether courthouse guards should be armed, whether this case is having a chilling effect on judges, and whether America's sense of security has been threatened.

First, we want to take a look at public perception and why a story like this one resonates so strongly. Here's our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): New categories of sensational public crimes began to emerge in the 1990s, crimes where people were targeted at random for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A rash of school shootings in West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Springfield, Oregon; and Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, workplace shootings by aggrieved employees in Honolulu and Atlanta, and now the courthouse killings in Atlanta, those crimes make everyone feel vulnerable and they generate public policy debate.

How can schools and workplaces and courtrooms be made safer without violating people's rights? That debate is going on now. The issue: guns in the courtroom. On the one hand...

CHIEF CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE: I think there has to be a way to -- for the deputies and the court personnel to have control. And I think there have to -- there has to be an availability of weapons.

SCHNEIDER: On the other hand...

JUDGE T. JACKSON BEDFORD, FULTON COUNTY SUPREME COURT: I had a sheriff, a bailiff that worked with me for eight years that I trusted very much. And he would tell me, he said, "Judge" -- he said, "If there are no guns in the courtroom, I can handle it." But he said, "If there is a gun in the courtroom, whoever it belongs to it's very dangerous."


SCHNEIDER: The country's violent crime rate is a broad indicator of how vulnerable people feel. The government reports violent crime rates for the past 30 years.

Crime rates were high from 1973 to 1994, but the last 10 years have seen a sharp and steady decline to the lowest level ever recorded in 2003. Now, did that affect the policy debate? Look at support for stricter gun control over the last 10 years.

Demand for tougher gun laws went up briefly in 1999 after the rash of school shootings and work place violence. But the larger trend is in line with the decline in violent crimes. Less demand for stricter gun laws.

Now look at the support for the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. Again, generally down since the crime rates started to decline in 1994, with a brief spike upward in 2002 after the terrorist attacks and the anthrax scare.

Sensational news events do have a short-term impact on public opinion, but the long-term drop in violent crime may matter more.

CROWLEY: So reality versus perception, reality almost always wins out?

SCHNEIDER: Reality is, in fact, a decline in the violent crime rate over 10 years now.

CROWLEY: Great. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.


CROWLEY: In today's "Security Watch," an FBI and Homeland Security Department report says America's aviation system remains a likely terror target with largely unregulated small planes and helicopters a source of concern. Officials who have read the report tell CNN it does not contain any new intelligence on threats to aviation.

Meantime, two Senate judiciary subcommittees held a joint hearing today on the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to tighten America's borders. Lawmakers focused on the need for better training of border inspectors and how to find and close gaps in the visa system.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Several al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico and also believe that illegal entry is more advantageous than the legal entry for operational security reasons. It's imperative that we find a solution to this exposure. Clearly, a part of the ultimate resolution is well-equipped, trained and funded Border Patrol agents and inspectors.


CROWLEY: Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Also, on Capitol Hill today, Major League Baseball turned over the results of steroid tests on some of its players in advance of a Thursday congressional hearing on abuse of the performance-enhancing drug. Our congressional correspondent Ed Henry has more on the documents and why lawmakers are spending valuable time on this issue -- Ed.


After initially claiming they might fight this all the way to the Supreme Court, Major League Baseball's legal challenge now appears to be crumbling right before our eyes. They're facing this congressional investigation from Republican Tom Davis and Democrat Henry Waxman at the House Government Reform Committee. Baseball was facing the possibility of contempt of Congress charges if they did not comply with the subpoena.

As you mentioned, today baseball officials turned over hundreds of pages of documents dealing with steroids. The documents do not reveal the names of individual players who used steroids. Instead, they list the number of players who have been tested in recent years. They also list the numbers who have failed tests and list the substances which tripped up those anonymous players.

Now, I spoke earlier to Stan Brand, the chief lawyer for Major League Baseball. He says he believes he still has a strong legal challenge here, a strong legal case, showing that Congress does not have any authority to be rooting around here on Major League Baseball's steroid testing policies. But candidly, Stan Brand admitted that not everyone within baseball agrees with him on that and individual players are off now talking directly to the committee, willing to testify on Thursday at the hearing.

In fact, Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas among the players who have already said that they will come forward and testify on Thursday. That's obviously undermining Major League Baseball's case to have a united front.

Also, yesterday, the man leading this investigation, Tom Davis, the Republican from Virginia, ratcheted up the pressure, saying that maybe if baseball doesn't comply they might have to lose their antitrust exemption, they may have to lose some coveted tax breaks as well. Here's Congressman Davis.


REP. TOM DAVIS (R-VA), GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: Baseball has had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards steroids while they've been setting home run records, while a decent percent of Major League Baseball, we don't know what percent, have been using enhanced -- you know, enhancements to get where they need to go, including anabolic steroids, which are illegal. And baseball refuses to investigate it.


HENRY: Now, baseball's lawyer, Stan Brand, responded that this is "the 1950s revisited," an obvious reference to the McCarthy hearings. A lot of baseball officials feel that there's now been an added cloud of suspicion thrown over these players and various officials, that they now are facing the difficulty of proving their innocence before they've even really faced any real allegations, only the allegations put forth by Jose Canseco, who has a new book out. And he will be coming to testify on Thursday.

Also, meanwhile, aides to Congressman Davis now are poring through all of those hundreds of pages of documents. They also say they are negotiating with some players like Sammy Sosa, former player Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Rafael Palmeiro, as well about the possibility of granting those players immunity from prosecution.

So far, though, we can report there is no deal on immunity so far. But staffers for Congressman Davis say they will be working right up until Thursday's -- Thursday's actual hearing over a possible deal on granting immunity -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Ed, let me ask you a question that I hear -- heard over the weekend, which is, we have a budget on Capitol Hill now that they're looking at, we have what everybody believes is a health care crisis, Social Security is on the table, and Congress is looking at steroid use in baseball. When you talk to the members of Congress that want to look into this, what is the rationale here?

HENRY: You know, the other thing that has left people scratching their heads as well is that this is a Republican-led Congress that is now leading hearings, that is taking a look at a private enterprise and, again, looking at their private affairs. Some people wondering whether or not this is a valuable use of the committee's time.

What Congressman Davis says is that he is not leading a witch hunt. He believes that there are strong public questions out there about whether or not these Major League Baseball records in particular are tainted. But also, what he and Congressman Waxman say is that there is a public health crisis right now in America where thousands and thousands of high school students are, in fact, now using steroids because, in part, they believe they're watching their role models in Major League Baseball, football and other sports use these steroids.

They say there's a public health crisis where these high school students are facing liver problems, some of them facing cancer problems. And also, they want to point out that one of the people who will be testifying Thursday is somebody who lost his son to suicide, depression that was fueled, in fact, by steroid use. So they feel the public health crisis is what really warrants this -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Ed Henry, hearings on Thursday. Thanks so much.

Members of Congress may also be looking for ways to improve their standing with the public based on some new poll numbers out today. The Gallup poll shows 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job. That is down eight points from a month ago. There is no indication from the survey as to why public opinion of Congress has taken a downward turn.

Within the Democratic Party there is some head-butting going on between the DNC chairman and his critics. Coming up, Democratic Leadership Council chairman Bruce Reed will talk to us about Howard Dean.

Also ahead, the revolving door here in Washington is in full swing. We'll have the latest political comings and goings.

And in golf, Bill Clinton was famous for taking mulligans. Might he also get a do-over of his presidency?


CROWLEY: We want to show you these pictures just recently taken out of Charlotte. What you are seeing is the procession, the motorcade of David Wilhelm, who was the Immigration and Customs agent who was killed. Apparently the last victim allegedly of the Atlanta shooting spree. The suspect, as we know, is now in custody.

You are looking at a very large American flag which was hung over this overpass by friends and colleagues of David Wilhelm. Again, a federal agent. They there saluting him as that motorcade goes by.

We want to go back to break.


CROWLEY: Two former congressmen eye a statewide office in our Monday "Political Bytes." Former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume says he'll run for the Maryland Senate seat of retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Mfume served five terms in the House before leaving in '96 to take over the civil rights group. Sarbanes announced Friday he will not seek a sixth Senate term.

And in Arkansas, Republican Asa Hutchinson says he plans to run for governor next year. Hutchinson is a former congressman and more recently the undersecretary of Homeland Security. Current GOP Governor Mike Huckabee is term limited.

In legal news, a San Francisco superior court judge has ruled that California cannot limit marriage to only men and women. If the decision is upheld on appeal, California could join Massachusetts as the only states to allow same-sex marriages.

Also today, the Vermont supreme court is hearing arguments over access to sealed records from Howard Dean's tenure as governor. The new DNC chief sealed his records for 10 years after he left the governor's office, but the legal group, Judicial Watch, has sued to gain access.

With me now to talk more about the Democrats, including their new party chairman, is Bruce Reed. He is president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

We were interested in an article that you and your fellow chairman wrote in blueprint, which said in part about Democrats, "Voters don't know what we stand for and have grave doubts about what they think we stand for." You went on to say that changing this is going to require challenging party orthodoxy.

What part of party orthodoxy has to be challenged?

BRUCE REED, PRESIDENT, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Well, Candy, politics is like anything else in life. The most important thing is what you stand for. And Democrats' biggest problem is Americans don't have a clue, most Americans don't have a clue. And some Democrats don't seem to either.

So the voters have given us some extra time. We think the best use of that time is to have a good, healthy debate within the party about what our values are, what our principles are, and what big ideas we have to back them up.

CROWLEY: So what is it in the party orthodoxy that you think has to be challenged from the DLC point of view.

REED: Well, the central issue in the last election, and a big issue going forward is, what are we going to do to keep the country safe? And, you know, it's all well and good to criticize the administration's many mistakes on this issue, but going forward, we need to come up with our own plan to promote democracy around the world, and come to terms with where we will be willing to use military force if necessary.

CROWLEY: You also talked about it's not enough to say what we're against, we have to say what we're for. Looking at Congress right now, one of the criticisms coming from Republicans, but coming apparently through the poll, is that, look, what do the Democrats stand for when it comes to Social Security? Are they handling the Social Security issue well at this point, the Democrats?

REED: Well, I think they're doing a very good job of pointing out the flaws in Bush's plan, and they need to do that because it is a bad plan. President Bush seems to have finally found common ground in Washington, and most Republicans are scared of what he's doing on Social Security as Democrats.

CROWLEY: But is it enough for the Democrats to say no?

REED: Once that plan crashes and burns, Democrats are going to need to step up with our own ideas. Because it's an important issue for the country over the long haul, and we're going to have to address it.

CROWLEY: One of the things that you also talked about in your article is, look, this is a false choice between sort of the DLC more moderate and the base. But I want to read you something from "The Nation," which said this about the DLC: "After dominating the party in the 1990s, the DLC is struggling to maintain its identity and influence in a party beset by losses and determined to oppose George W. Bush."

When you look at it, moderation and compromise is not what the Democrats have said from the grassroots that they're about right now. They're about confrontation. There's no way you can square that, is that, with the DLC position?

REED: Oh, I think this is a false choice. We're not about compromise. We're about putting forward good, new ideas that bring together a majority of the American people.

Look, there are some -- Bill Clinton is the only president to get re-elected. We've lost five of the last seven elections. There are some Democrats who would like to leave behind the one guy who broke that curse. We think there's an important lesson from the Clinton years, which is that if you put forward a compelling agenda, you can excite your base and you can persuade new voters to come join your cause.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about you and Howard Dean. You haven't always had great things to say to him.

You said that you just sort of gently reminded him in his article, first, do no harm. Has he done any harm? And why did you feel it necessary to tell him that?

REED: Oh, I think he's doing fine. And I think as long as he remembers that he'll do fine.

We should cut Governor Dean some slack. Most of the problems that the party needs to address can't be solved from party headquarters. If we're going to have a good debate about what our party stands for, that's not something the party chairman is in a position to referee.

CROWLEY: Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council. We thank you very much for coming by.

REED: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

REED: Good to see you.

CROWLEY: Just ahead, the latest attempt to repeal the 22 Amendment with a twist. Could we see a third term for Bill Clinton in the years ahead? Bob Novak explains when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


CROWLEY: Look who we've got with us. Bob Novak joining us from the "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University with some "Buzz."

Bob, I want to talk first about the budget deficit and what impact that's having on the Senate.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": As you know, Candy, the Senate began debate on the budget resolution, and even the Republicans are getting worried about the deficit. The report for February showed a deficit for that month of $114 billion. That's the first time it's ever, ever gone over $100 billion in one month.

Now, there's some people who think it's the fast, early electronic tax refunds, but that is not the case, according to the Republican analysts. A report by the Republican Staff shows that -- that the spending for the month of February went up 14 percent. Actually, the tax -- despite the tax cuts, the revenue went up 8 percent. But you still had spending outpacing revenue for that month.

CROWLEY: OK. So we've spent three months now talking about Hillary Clinton for president, and you're going to tell me now about a third term for Bill Clinton. So I'm confused.

NOVAK: The House minority whip, House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, every year introduces a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22 Amendment, which puts a two-term limit on presidents. Every year he gets the revered Republican congressman, Henry Hyde of Illinois, to be a co-sponsor because Henry hates all kinds of term limits.

This year, however, Hyde is not on as a co-sponsor. And the word around is that's because the way it's worded this year would permit Bill Clinton to come back after and run again for a third term. And that's something no Republican, including Henry Hyde, wants.

CROWLEY: I don't know. You and I would have an awful lot of fun, though, I think.

Let me ask you about these Internet attacks on Joe Lieberman, who only recently said, look, we can't just keep saying no to Social Security, we've got to deal. Now we have a lot of people out for him.

NOVAK: A guy named JM Ivler, who ran for Congress in California years ago as a Democrat, has got a Web site out called Time To Go Joe. And he calls him a DINO, a Democrat in Name Only.

He attacks him for supporting Alberto Gonzales for attorney general, other votes. He is raising money to fund a Democratic primary campaign next year against Lieberman. He has raised about $36,000. I'm going to tell you something, Candy, $36,000 in a Senate race is not going to do it.

CROWLEY: No, it won't help to defeat him.

So I also wanted to talk to you about -- this is my favorite thing from your notebook -- about a Dan Rather fund-raiser that Tom Feeney did.

NOVAK: Congressman Tom Feeney is a Republican from Florida. You might remember him. He was House speaker in Florida during the recount.

A very tough Republican. And last Wednesday, Dan Rather's last day as CBS anchor, he ran a "Good-bye Dan" fund-raiser for himself, for Mr. Feeney.

$100, they had it the at the Republican Capitol Hill Cub. And the only House rule was you could only drink the liquor with your left hand.

And Feeney, on short notice, raised $5,000 for his own campaign. So I think he owes Dan Rather a "thank you" note.

CROWLEY: You've got to have a gimmick. It works every time. Thanks, Bob Novak. We will see you again in less than an hour, I think.

NOVAK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Will the fierce fight over the presidential judiciary nominees bring the Senate to a standstill? The chairman of the Judiciary Committee hopes to avoid that. I'll speak with Senator Arlen Specter in a moment.

Plus, what can the federal government do to make our courthouses safer from violence? The word from here in Washington when we return.


CROWLEY: Well, the markets are getting set to close on Wall Street, which is why we are going to go to Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report" -- Kitty.


Stocks ending slightly higher and final trades being counted. Dow gaining, let's see, about 29 points right now. The Nasdaq is slightly higher. Big story here is OPEC. Says it may increase oil production at its meeting later this week, but oil prices actually rose 52 cents to settle below $55 a barrel. That is not far from a record high.

And soaring jet fuel prices -- that's causing several airlines to raise their prices. Now most major carriers -- that includes Northwest, American, Delta, they've raised ticket prices by $10 each way. That's the second increase in the past few weeks. Southwest Airlines says it will raise tickets by no more than $3, however.

A management shake-up might be on the way at American International Group. News reports say that CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg may be planning to step down, possibly as soon as this week. Greenberg is a legendary figure in corporate America after nearly 40 years at the helm of the insurance giant. This company has been under investigation for rigging some of its insurance contracts.

Coming up, CNN 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," our special report, red star rising. China has authorized the use of force against Taiwan if it pursues formal independence.


PETER BROOKES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: And it certainly does royal the waters of the Pacific and so people are very concerned that this is just a first step by China towards taking some sort of military action down the road to settle Taiwan's political future.


PILGRIM: Also tonight, Senator John Cornyn joins Lou to talk about his fight to strengthen U.S. border security and to enforce immigration law. A roundtable tonight, the state of the U.S. economy with Morgan Stanley chief economists Stephen Roach and the chairman of J.P. Morgan Investment Bank John Lipsky.

Plus, a special report, America's bright future. We'll introduce you to an amazing young woman who, at the age of 15, already published five books. That and more, tonight 6:00 Eastern.

But for now, back to Candy Crowley.

CROWLEY: Kitty Pilgrim, thanks a lot. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: Could Friday's shootings in Atlanta have been prevented?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is too few deputies to deal with the prisoners. Or it's neither one-on-one and they have a gun on them. As we saw what happened Friday, I mean, one-on-one with a gun is a tragedy.

ANNOUNCER: What can Washington do to keep our courtroom safe?

The bitter battle over judicial nominees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to exercise every last ounce of my energy to solve this problem without the nuclear option. If we have a nuclear option, the Senate will be in turmoil and the Judiciary Committee will be held.

ANNOUNCER: The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is our guest.

She's back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an enormous opportunity to make an important difference.

ANNOUNCER: But why is one of the president's closest political advisers heading to the State Department?

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


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

Law enforcement officials say three murder warrants already have been filed against Atlanta shooting suspect Brian Nichols. And they plan to charge him with four murders in all, along with a number of aggravated assaults and carjackings. Officials say Nichols was placed back in the custody of the Fulton County sheriff's office today. They would not say where he is being held. He was arrested Saturday in connection with a courthouse shootings after eluding police for 26 hours.

The body of federal agent David Wilhelm was taken to North Carolina today with burial, with people paying tribute to him along the way. Nichols is accused of killing Wilhelm during his odyssey across metro Atlanta while trying to flee authorities. His journey ended after allegedly taking Ashley Smith hostage. Smith turned him into authorities, after, she says, she convinced him that he did not want to kill anyone else.


ASHLEY SMITH, SHOOTING SPREE HOSTAGE: I told him that I was supposed to go see my little girl the next morning at 10:00. And I asked him if I could go see her and he told me no. My husband died four years ago and I told him that if he hurt me if my little girl wouldn't have a mommy or a daddy and she was expecting to see me the next morning.


CROWLEY: In the wake of the Atlanta shootings, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is raising some questions about courthouse security. Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, joins us now on INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you so much. SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: Nice to be with you, Candy.

CROWLEY: First of all, you can't help but ask the question, are these courthouses adequately protected after we had the Chicago -- which actually happened in the home of the judge, but it seems to me there has been an assault on the judiciary which may need some attention.

SPECTER: Well those are serious questions and with these two incidents, it seems to me we ought to take a look. I had a discussion with Illinois senator Dick Durbin last week about it, talked about the possibility of hearings and now what happened in Atlanta on Friday. I think we ought to try to find out how the murderer knew where the Chicago federal judge's family lived and we ought to see what's happening.

Of course, the Atlanta situation is a state court proceeding, but that is something that could happen in the federal court. So we're going to be talking to the U.S. marshal about the details of security and to see if we ought to have a hearing. And my instinct is there ought to be a hearing on this matter. The judges, frankly, Candy, are terrified across the country. Getting a lot of calls and I think this is something that Congress and Senate ought to respond to.

CROWLEY: Well, I want to ask you about that, because it does seem to me that -- I mean, you were a prosecutor, so you know these guys can be tough hombres and females, as well. And I'm thinking, if I'm a judge and we've had this horrible incident in Chicago where a judge's mother and husband are killed, then we have this in a state court, doesn't that somehow play in your head when you're a judge and you're presiding over some of these?

SPECTER: Well, absolutely. The hallmark of American justice is the independence of the judge from all kinds of concerns and one is not to be concerned about personal safety. And if you have to worry about somebody responding to a decision which they don't like, it has to affect you. But one way or another, judges perform a very vital function in our society. They have a risky job and they are entitled to security.

CROWLEY: And realistically, though, we've talked about the budget deficit, we've talked about the lack of -- I mean, so many things are going on. There are so many judges. As you point out, a lot of it is state and local. But is there the money there to protect as many federal judges and their families? You can't do it individually, how do you do it?

SPECTER: Well, you can't have a detail follow every judge and every judge's family, but I'm interested to know how this guy knew where the Chicago federal judge's family lived. What sort of precautions were taken to conceal the identity of the residences of people. I had a problem with the Harrisburg court, where security was inadequate and it took a significant federal allocation to build a new courthouse. We stepped it up a little bit and it's something we ought to take a look at. I want to know exactly what's going on with the Marshal Service. I think there ought to be a determination about -- in the Atlanta case involving the rapist where there one person who was guarding him. He gained control of the pistol. I want to see what's going on and whether we might be of assistance.

CROWLEY: I want to move you on to something that's also in your bailiwick and that is the judicial nominees of the president, some of whom have already been, you know, pulled back or not taken up by the Senate. It seems to me we are now getting to the time where some of these are going to come to the floor because you're beginning to move them through the committee and the Republicans are going to have to fish or cut bait on the idea of changing rules. Have you talked to Senator Frist about this? What's the status?

SPECTER: Well, Candy, I have talked to Senator Frist about it. We're moving ahead on one of the filibuster judges, William Myers. I count 58 votes, one may be a little shaky, and then the possibility we're very close to 60. Two of the judges on the president's list, Judge Boyle (ph) from North Carolina, we had a rocky hearing last week, but I think we may be able to get him confirmed. Tom Griffin, who used to be Senate Counsel had, again, a tough year.

CROWLEY: So is there a deal here? You get them through and Senator Frist won't go for a change in the rules on how many you need?

SPECTER: Well, if we are able to get them through, that would be the best result. If you go to the so-called constitution or nuclear option, Senator Reed, the leader of the Democrats, has promised these are not my words, his -- to screw things up. And any one senator can set it into turmoil and the Judiciary Committee would be in very bad situation, in chaos. The Senate would be unable to take care, I think, of the president's agenda and the other important business we have, the transportation bill and the budget and the appropriation bill.

So I'm going to use every ounce of my energy, Candy, to see if it can be solved without going to the nuclear constitutional option. And if we can confirm Boyle (ph) and we can confirm Griffin, we got a shot at confirming at confirming Myers and I'm talking to people about Judge Pryor, who's written some good opinions since he's been on the bench for a year. He was filibustered and we're working on Michigan. It's a tough job, a tough road, but I'm working on it.

CROWLEY: The pressure is on, Senator. As always, we thank you, we wish you well.

SPECTER: Glad to be here. Nice seeing you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Nice to see you.

SPECTER: A familiar face in the Bush administration is set to take on a new role. Up next, the inside story on why Karen Hughes was tapped to help the State Department improve America's image overseas.

Plus, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is causing quite a stir online. We'll get details when we go inside the blogs.


CROWLEY: One of the president's most trusted advisers is returning to the administration, but this time she's going to be working on international policy instead of domestic concerns. Our senior White House correspondent John King has more on the return of Karen Hughes.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fiercely loyal defender of the president's image will now try to improve her country's image overseas, especially in an Arab world with no shortage of anti-American and anti-Bush sentiment.

KAREN HUGHES, UNDERSECY. OF STATE NOMINEE: This job will be difficult. Perceptions do not change quickly or easily. This is a struggle for ideas.

KING: Former top White House aide Karen Hughes will get the rank of ambassador and, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, is charged with trying to reverse what the 9/11 Commission and her new boss call a major government failing.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Too few know of our deep respect for the history and traditions of others and our respect for the religions of all.

KING: Not that the administration hasn't tried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the possibility of meetings here on the White House grounds with Iraqi ex-pat...

KING: The White House Office of Global Communications was established at Hughes' direction. The annual State Department budget for public diplomacy is nearly $70 million and the government also launched a taxpayer-financed Arab language network.

But Al Jazeera and other pan-Arab networks have a far greater reach, who are highly critical of the Iraq War and usually accuse Mr. Bush of taking Israel's side in disputes with the Palestinians. The president earlier this year called them part of the problem.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The propagandists have done a better job of depicting America as a hateful place, a place wanting to impose our form of government on people and our religion on people.

KING: Madison Avenue executive Charlotte Beers and veteran State Department hand Margaret Tutwiler held the post in the first Bush term. Administration critics say a new ad campaign alone won't turn around won't turn around public opinion in the Muslim world.

SUSAN RICE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There were no weapons of mass destruction, no links to al Qaeda, and they doubt our motives. Our motives and our credibility have been called into question and you can't fix that simply by marketing.

KING: This morning's White House meeting was part of an effort to make clear Mr. Bush's personal investment in a woman he calls both trusted adviser and friend.


KING: And for you, the biggest immediate challenge might be coming to terms with how much this anti-American sentiment is personal against a president she calls wonderful, decent and compassionate, but who across the Arab world is often portrayed, Candy, as a warmonger.

CROWLEY: John, while I've got you here, I want to turn just to one other subject, and that's the debate on Social Security. There was a DNC e-mail earlier today claiming the president canceled a trip to Florida because of growing opposition to his reforms. What happened here?

KING: Well, the White House says this is much ado about nothing, the Democrats say it is proof the president and his allies are running scared in the Social Security debate. There is no question and no doubt the administration did, initially at least, plan a public town hall in Sarasota, Florida. The White House publicly announced the stops today there in Pensacola and Orlando. The White House says this happens all the time. You're traveling to a state, you look at three or four potential options and this happens.

And they say the people of Sarasota might get a visit later, but the Democrats, Candy, are saying Mr. Bush did not want to go there because the congresswoman there, Republican Katherine Harris has been uneasy about the president's plan. So the debate continues about where the president will go and the Democrats think, in this case, the president canceled a trip because he's running a bit scared. The White House insists that's not the case.

CROWLEY: So we can't solve that puzzle today?

KING: No, we can't.

CROWLEY: All right, thanks a lot. CNN's senior White House correspondent, John King.

KING: Ahead here, the ethics question surrounding Majority Leader Tom DeLay have the blogosphere abuzz. We'll check in with our blog reporters next to find out what the bloggers are saying about Delay and other stories next.


CROWLEY: This is (sic) pictures from Salisbury, North Carolina. Salisbury is the hometown of federal agent David Wilhelm, whose body has been taken to Salisbury for burial. It is believed that Wilhelm was the fourth victim of the Atlanta shooter who, as we now know, is in jail and in custody. You're seeing again the flag-draped coffin of David Wilhelm, a immigration and customs agent, a federal agent who was taken home to Salisbury, North Carolina, for burial. We want to switch back now to politics. Tom DeLay is among the hot topics in the blogsphere today. Here with me now to tell us all about it are CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and our blog reporter Jacki Schechner. Jacki, what are you hearing about Tom DeLay, or reading, I guess?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy. What we're reading about in regard to Tom DeLay is just the blogs, especially those on the left, keeping track of what is going on; all of his alleged ethical transgressions. Not so much digging on their part but really sort of collecting a roundup of what has been going on. Over at the Burnt Orange Report, a liberal Texas blog, they smell blood. He says: "There's something big coming soon," over at Running Scared, another liberal blog. They say: "While the Democrats are drooling, the Republicans are concerned. And he says: "With new allegations servicing on a near daily basis, the bug man is rapidly becoming a liability." So speaking of daily.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Yes. If you're having trouble of keeping track of all the DeLay stories out there, go to This gives you a roundup of all the different mainstream media stories out there on the congressman.

Now Congressman Tom DeLay is also the subject of tomorrow's Blog Call. This is a group of liberal and progressive bloggers who have got together. They don't want to wait around for the mainstream media to pick up on their exposes. They want attention. So they have organized this weekly conference call, a blog call, where they're inviting members of the mainstream media to call in and find out what they're blogging about.

Not reading the blogs themselves, actually calling up on the phone. Now this was the subject of a New York Times piece today that lots of bloggers have been linking to and reading and commenting on. Here, Amy Langfield (ph), not a political blogger, but read this this morning in The New York Times and she wonders why reporters can't just read the Internet.

"This story," she says, "it's about some frothy political bloggers holding a conference call so reporters don't know how to use the Internet can listen to bloggers talk about what they've posted on sites in the past week. Just shoot me now."

SCHECHNER: It's actually organized by a, which is a liberal site, the Blog Call is organized by them. So obviously on the conservative side they are lashing out. They've got some pretty harsh words. We found one that was a little less scathing, and it's Outside the Beltway. And they say that they have no problems with bloggers trying to get notice in the mainstream press, or with activist bloggers banding together to get the message out. Their problem, this was interesting, is that the conference calls represent bloggers acting as political operatives and not as journalists.

Another story that the blogosphere is talking about, the blogs talking about the blogs today, feels like a Monday, is that over at -- it was News Day, it was Stephen Levy's (ph) article -- or Newsweek, I'm sorry, my bad, Newsweek. Stephen Levy's article about the blogosphere being made up of primarily white males, or dominated by white males. A lot of the blogs think this is just a perception. It's not actually in fact the case. There are some people who feel that that's what's going on. But they have got some arguments against it over at Air Force Voices. This gentleman says he's a Hispanic male, so maybe he should just stop blogging, being sarcastic.

What he liked about Captain Ed, over at Captain's Quarters, is he talks about he marketed his blog. He's one of the bigger blogs. And says that in short: "I took the time to learn my market and adapted accordingly. I haven't stopped marketing the blog either and don't plan to any time soon.

TATTON: (ph) here, this is a female journalist writing about politics, the media and the Internet. She is saying -- she is talking about this and she has 10 issues here. One of the things she points out, this medium was first taken up by techies. And she's saying that men are linking to men even though the blogosphere has gotten much larger, most of these men still reading the guys they started out with three years ago. There are broader horizons but it's pretty much just talk.

Back to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Abbi Tatton, Jacki Schechner, thanks very much.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the new face of American diplomacy. A closer look at who is going to try and reshape what other countries think of the U.S.


CROWLEY: As we mentioned, longtime adviser to President Bush, Karen Hughes, was nominated today for a public relations post in the State Department. Our Bruce Morton takes a look at this new appointment and how it could change the way the rest of the world views the United States.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not your father's State Department. First a stylish new secretary's striding assurance across the world stage, now from that secretary, the announcement of another woman who will try to improve the way the world thinks of the U.S.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have said that the time for diplomacy is now. Well, the time for public diplomacy reform is also now.

MORTON: But the president's nominee for undersecretary for public diplomacy is Karen Hughes, one of his closest advisers, an insider, not a diplomat.

KAREN HUGHES, UNDERSECY. OF STATE NOMINEE: And I'm convinced at this moment as the winds of freedom are blowing across the world, we have an enormous opportunity to make an important difference.

MORTON: The United States was unpopular during Bush's first term in much of Europe, much of the Middle East. This year, he's been trying to change that.

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, it speaks volumes to the president's belief now that he's got a problem in portraying America and American interest within the Islamic world. So putting someone that he trusts so much, who is an alter ego, in this position speaks more to him than it does to Karen Hughes.

MORTON: How much difference can Hughes make?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: There is other openings there that perhaps were not there from previous public diplomacy occupants at the State Department. So I think she has a great chance and I think she will take it and do a good job.

MANN: Very, very difficult to make a difference. The value of PR, especially in international politics, is probably greatly overstated.

MORTON: This being Washington, people are already talking about Hughes' boss, Secretary Rice, running for president in 2008. She knocked that down hard over the weekend.

RICE: I don't know how many ways to say "no." So let me just say it. I don't have any desire to run for president. I don't intend to. I won't do it. I think that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will not run for president?

RICE: I won't.

HUGHES: Thank you all very much.

MORTON: So two strong women, charged with advancing America's interests in a sometimes critical world.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: Got to run. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. And "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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