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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
President Bush to Lead U.S. Delegation to Pope's Funeral; The Marriage Debate; Interview With Senator Barbara Mikulski, Senator Sam Brownback; Peter Jennings Discloses Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Aired April 5, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: As pilgrims line up for miles to pay last respects to the pope, President Bush asks his two predecessors to accompany him to the funeral in Rome.
Banning same-sex marriage.
THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: We're in the midst of a rush by most of the states to pass constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and, in most cases, to ban gay civil unions as well.
ANNOUNCER: And today, people in another state head to the polls to vote on the controversial issue.
FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL: We now have almost six out of 10 Americans who say the rising price of gas is causing them financial hardships.
ANNOUNCER: Pain at the pump. But is the skyrocketing cost of gas hurting the president at the polls?
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
The wave of mourners descending on the Vatican to pay final respects to Pope John Paul II continues to grow. Hundreds of thousands of people have now past through St. Peter's Basilica. Some of them waiting for up to eight hours for just a brief glimpse of the pope's body.
By the time John Paul II is buried this Friday, the crowd of mourners traveling to Rome is expected to number in the millions. For more, let's join CNN's Aaron Brown. He is standing by for us at the Vatican.
Aaron, eight hours. That says these people really, really wanted to see this.
AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is -- it's -- I'm trying to find exactly the right word. It's a moment, a shared moment, if you will.
There were people last night when it was quite cold here, and they closed down the line at about an hour later than they'd planned and then opened it up early. And the people just waited through it. And they had been waiting for six hours in the cold. Seven, eight hours has become the norm.
Twenty thousand people are passing through each hour, 400,000 a day. It happens in this quiet kind of dignified way.
It's not a moment of grave sorrow exactly, so much as, in some respects, a moment of great the joy. They believe, of course, that John Paul has ascended, and they are coming to celebrate a great and rich life, and they want to be a part of it.
WOODRUFF: Aaron, the people who are coming to the funeral reads like a who's who list. It's presidents, prime ministers, and everybody important from dozens and dozens of countries.
BROWN: Well, and the Vatican made a point today of saying that if they get here Thursday night or by Thursday night, there will be -- they will set up some private small group viewings of the pope lying in state. But if they don't get here in time, there won't be such a thing on Friday, that they'll wait for the funeral. The funeral will come off, if you will, as it was.
There's also kind of -- quietly -- it's very hard to get the cardinals to publicly talk about this. But privately, you can see that they're starting to think about the issues that are facing the church after the funeral on Friday. But publicly, church officials do not want to say anything that they think will distract, if you will, from the moment at hand, the formal ritual farewell that a funeral mass is to John Paul.
WOODRUFF: And the ritual it is. And again, we can't take our eyes off of it. Aaron Brown keeping watch over the events at the Vatican. Aaron, thanks so much.
And, of course, CNN will be returning to Aaron throughout this day and through the rest of the week.
Well, one of those people, important people who are going to Rome for the funeral, President Bush. We did learn a little more today about who's going to accompany the president to the funeral. CNN's White House correspondent Dana Bash is standing by right now with more on that -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.
Well, the official U.S. delegation is quite exclusive. We have a list for you here, just five people on that list. That includes President Bush, of course; the first lady, Laura Bush; the president's father, George H. W. Bush; and President Clinton; and the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
Now, just a little bit of background here. First of all, a spokesman for President Clinton says that this trip was signed off on by his doctor because he was on what his spokesman has called a no-fly zone. He was in a no-fly zone, meaning he wasn't allowed to get on a plane since his last heart surgery, but he's been okayed to do this by his doctor.
And the other interesting point is you're probably wondering, what about Jimmy Carter? He was the first U.S. president ever to greet Pope John Paul here at the White House. There you see that footage from 1979.
The White House says they did reach out to him, but a Carter spokesman says simply that he is not going. Would not say why, except that it is not health related.
Now, the White House says the U.S. delegation is quite small because more than 170 countries are accredited at the Vatican, and they are certainly expecting it to be quite a full house, if you will. And it's interesting to note that top diplomats who have been posted at the Vatican have a unique perspective on the pope as perhaps a politician, Judy. And we spoke with one of them.
BASH (voice-over): The president's longtime ambassador to the Holy See encountered the Holy Father in a unique light.
JIM NICHOLSON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN: I saw him in, you know, non-ecclesiastical ways, and he's very adroit and tuned in to foreign policy and diplomacy. He had a sixth sense politically.
In fact, one time I was talking to Henry Kissinger in Rome. And he told me that he kidded the pope one day by saying he was -- he was the best politician he ever saw because he would continually tell people when they didn't want to hear, yet they loved him.
BASH: It was Jim Nicholson who brokered three Bush visits to see the pope, and a rare audience for a vice president.
NICHOLSON: The pope kept very well informed. And, you know, the United States is a country that's extremely relevant to the Holy See. We have a large Catholic population here.
But one of the other secrets of the pope, the intangible qualities of the pope, was that he didn't commit himself into these affairs in other countries.
BASH: Well, sometimes he did. The pope weighed in against the Iraq war. Quite a challenge for the top U.S. official at the Vatican.
NICHOLSON: The most difficult diplomatic encounter that I had in my 3.5 years was around Iraq. The pope gave a speech to the diplomatic corps in January of 2003 and said, no to war.
BASH: Nicholson first met with the pope at his summer palace two days after the September 11 terror attacks. NICHOLSON: He said, "My heart goes out to the people of America, but that was an attack not just on America," he said, "that was an attack on humanity."
BASH: At his last papal audience just a few weeks ago, John Paul II implored him to remind the president to use U.S. power for moral good. But the pontiff had a sense of humor about America's reach. Nicholson recalls a story a cardinal recently told him.
NICHOLSON: He asked him -- he said, "Well, how are you feeling today, Holy Father?" And the pope said, "I don't know yet. I haven't had a chance to read the American press."
BASH: And Judy, as I mentioned, the White House says that there was an effort, as you can tell, by the five-person official delegation to keep it quite small. But it's important to note here also that there are potentially 40 members of Congress who are trying to go to the Vatican this week.
Our congressional producers, Ted Barrett (ph) and Steve Turnham (ph), tell us that in the Senate 14 members are likely to go, including Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, and the Democrat from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy.
And on the House side, some 26 members are expected to go. They are being led by the leaders, bipartisan leaders, the House speaker, Denny Hastert, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader. But Judy, it is unclear, we are told, whether or not they will actually get in.
WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to remember that line of his holiness about the American press, number one. And number two, we're assuming that Bill Clinton isn't going to be sleeping on the floor this time, as we read that he did on the trip for the tsunami coverage.
BASH: That's probably safe to bet. But, you know, he knows where the bed is there.
WOODRUFF: OK. All right. Dana Bash at the White House. Thanks very much.
Well, this pope's involvement in politics went beyond the war in Iraq, of course. He also took a strong stand opposing the idea of same-sex marriages. Today, in the state of Kansas, voters are considering a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
CNN's Bruce Morton reports on today's vote and the wider political debate.
JUDY GARLAND, "THE WIZARD OF OZ": Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dorothy was right about that, of course. But she might be surprised to know that her old home state, famous for moderate Republicans like Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebuam, is expected to vote today to ban homosexual marriages. It's a trend.
MANN: We're in the midst of a rush by most of the states to pass constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and, in most cases, to ban gay civil unions as well. Kansas would become the 18th state to do so since the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision. And similar amendments are pending in many additional states.
MORTON: Here are the states where it's banned in the state constitutions. On the other side, same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts last year. Vermont approved civil unions. No "M "word, but gay couples could be covered by health insurance and so on in 2000. And Connecticut is expected to do the same thing, probably this week.
Nationally, 68 percent of those answering a CNN-"USA Today"- Gallup poll last month said they oppose same-sex marriages. Here's how that broke down by parties.
(on camera): What about an amendment to the federal Constitution banning same-sex marriage? A majority in that poll favored one. But throughout our history, marriage has been something the states, not federal government, regulated.
The U.S. Constitution deals mostly with how the government works. Amendments have given the vote to women, lowered the voting age to 18, and so on. The one venture into social policy was prohibition, generally thought a failure and finally repealed. This time?
MANN: To the extent opponents of gay marriage think they could get a federal constitutional amendment, they will take it. But my own guess is that they will be short of the votes they need in the Congress and this will governed at the state level.
MORTON: And wherever you stand on the issue, it certainly is one the states seem ready to tackle.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Gay marriage isn't the only issue where some U.S. Catholics may disagree with the preachings of this pope. Coming up, I'll speak with two senators who are Catholic about the pope and about his influence on our politics.
Also ahead, she may be the early favorite among Democrats in the next race for the White House, but it seems not all Democratic politicians are enamored with Hillary Clinton.
And later, a new controversy under the dome? One senator's suggestion that judges may be responsible for recent cases of courthouse violence creates a stir.
WOODRUFF: Presidential politics at home and abroad dominate our Tuesday "Political Bytes."
Senator John Kerry donating more of his leftover presidential campaign cash to the Democratic Party. This time, he's giving $500,000 to the committee in charge of electing more Democrats to the House. Kerry has also pledged to raise an additional $500,000 for Democratic House candidates.
Tennessee's Democratic governor Phil Bredesen, who was mentioned as a presidential candidate, made waves in an interview with the "Sunday Times of London." Bredesen told the newspaper that Senator Hillary Clinton would face a "uphill road to win the White House." The newspaper also reports that Bredesen said he thinks voters are "kind of dissatisfied" with the likely Democratic candidates in 2008.
And in British politics, Prime Minister Tony Blair today announced that Britain will hold a general election on May 5, one month from today. Blair is aiming to become the first Labor Party leader to win three consecutive terms in office. Imagine that, a whole month for a presidential -- or prime minister election.
Well, kings, queens and presidents are getting ready to head to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Whether we return, we'll go live to the Vatican, where mourners are paying their last respects to John Paul.
Plus, we will talk about the pope and politics with two U.S. senators who are Roman Catholic.
WOODRUFF: Updating our top story this Tuesday, we're looking at live pictures from the Vatican, where tens of thousands of mourners have gathered for a second day to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II. The pope's body lying in state at St. Peter's Basilica as the countdown to his funeral continues. Services will be held on Friday with the burial in the grotto beneath St. Peter's.
Members of the College of Cardinals still have not decided on a date for the conclave that will choose the next pope.
And while we are look at these live pictures, we have just gotten a little information about why former President Jimmy Carter will not be part of the delegation that President Bush is making to attend the funeral. President Carter, Jimmy Carter's office, has just issued a statement expressing fond memories of President Carter's visits with Pope John Paul, but it goes on to say, "After issuing a public statement of condolences last week, President Carter expressed to the White House a desire to attend the pope's funeral."
Continuing the statement, "He was quite willing to withdraw his request when he was subsequently informed that the official delegation would be limited to just five people and that there were also others who were eager to attend. He and his wife Rosalynn are very pleased with the official delegation."
The statement goes on to say that they will be honoring Pope John Paul II in spirit. So again, an explanation for why Jimmy Carter will not be part of that five-person delegation going with President Bush this Friday.
Well, in his 26 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II had an enormous impact on political issues around the world. With me now from Capitol Hill, Senators Barbara McCulski, Democrat of Maryland, and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. Both of them are Catholics.
Senator McCulski, to you first. A lifelong Catholic, someone born into the church, you are were also a Polish-American. Of course the pope was Polish. He had a special meaninging for you.
SEN. BARBARA MCCULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Oh, absolutely. We in the Polish heritage were absolutely thrilled when we heard that John, then Cardinal Wojtyla, was picked to be the Polish pope.
I lived in a Polish neighborhood. The church bells rang. The tugboats board in Baltimore. We closed the streets, and we just partied. And we were absolutely thrilled.
But really what had given us the great joy was the role that he has played in helping stand up for solidarity, to work with President Reagan to bring about the end of the Cold War. And to be such a person to help bring down that iron curtain and truly work to liberate the Poles and liberate people everywhere.
WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, you came to the Catholic Church differently. You converted to Catholicism a few years ago. Talk about your feeling for this pope.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: Well, I watched him for a number of years before I joined the Catholic Church. And I thought he was just an extraordinary individual.
Very bold. Very aggressive. Very clear in his statements and the things that he would do.
Very much living the teachings of Christ. And I studied that and I looked at it. And it was very appealing.
It reminded me of a great leader one time who said that he would become a Christian if he could see somebody who lived the true Christian faith. And I thought really Pope John Paul II did.
WOODRUFF: Senator Mikulski, do you think this pope changed American politics?
MIKULSKI: Well, the pope doesn't influence politics. I think the pope influences people and influences society. And therefore, influenced us. I think his continual call for peace, for human rights, to talk about being worried about the poor -- I remember when he came to Baltimore and made a wonderful appearance at Camden Yards and rode through the pope mobile. And after the great mass in the stadium, he didn't just go to meet with the power elite.
He went up to Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen run by Catholic Charities, to continually -- to remind us to remember the people who were left out in our society. And I think that was the challenge that he issued. And with my dear friend, Senator Brownback, we recalled that the pope said, "Be not afraid," and he offered conviction and consistency in those principles.
WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, at the same time, there are clearly differences at times between people in public life, people in private life, and the Vatican, the pope, even when they're the same -- you're of the same faith. How do you deal with those contradictions?
BROWNBACK: Well, I think one has to pray about it and search their own soul. But I do think the Catholic Church has some very clear teachings on the sanctity and the sacredness of each and every human life no matter what its stage, no matter what its place, no matter where it is, no matter where it looks like.
And that's why this pope would stand up for people in downtrodden places throughout the world and stand up for life in the womb and for the end of life. And stand on issues like capital punishment as well. That life per se is sacred. And he really drove that point.
WOODRUFF: Senator Mikulski, clearly you don't agree with every teaching of this pope or the Vatican at this moment in history. How do you reconcile that?
MIKULSKI: Well, first of all, I take a lot of my guidance from Matthew 5:1-12. It's called the Sermon of the Mount, where our lord stood up and said, feed the hungry, care for the sick, be humble and work for the poor, and hunger and thirst after justice.
I believe that's what that pope advocated. And I certainly subscribe to those principles.
Would I have liked for him to be more inclusive of women? The answer is yes. Did he stand up for issues related to woman? Absolutely. Domestic violence, an issue Senator Brownback and I are working in against the trafficking of women and children being sold around the world.
And we try to find common ground, but there are those convictions of the principles that I believe that were found in the gospel.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. But we want to thank both you, Senator Mikulski, and you, Senator Brownback, for sharing your thoughts with us on this day. We appreciate it.
BROWNBACK: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thank you both.
Well, President Bush does head to Rome tomorrow to attend the pope's funeral. But today, Mr. Bush was out on the trail making the case for Social Security reform. Is the president campaigning making a difference? We'll check our new poll numbers when we come back.
Plus, will a fight over judicial nominees soon bring the Senate to a standstill? We'll go live to Capitol Hill to find out.
WOODRUFF: It is just after 4:00 in the East and as the markets close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim. She's in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Kitty.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Thanks.
Stocks modestly higher today. Let's take a look. Final trades being counted. Dow Industrials up right now about 38 points, Nasdaq slightly higher. Reason for this, we have some better news in oil today. That's helping to boost the stock market a bit. Crude oil fell nearly a dollar, to just above $56 a barrel.
A Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was also talking about the oil situation today. He told an energy industry conference that oil prices continue to be a problem, but he believes the market will correct itself and prices will cool.
Pfizer says it plans to cut $4 billion in spending over the next four years. The company is trying to boost profits and also its stock price. Now, the stock lost a third of its value in the past year, due in part to problems with its drug Celebrex. 11 of its drugs will lose their patents in the next five years.
Goldman Sachs has suspended plans to build its headquarters at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Goldman was the only major firm committed to building in the area without using insurance money to pay for it. And the reason why Goldman is reconsidering, it says it had concerns about the new traffic patterns. A tunnel had been proposed to run under the site.
Coming up on CNN, 6:00 Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," broken borders. Our nation's natural resources at risk because of overpopulation. And is immigration part of the problem?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSEMARY JENKS: As cities grow outward and there's more water use, more everything. You know, every single natural resource is consumed by population and therefore depleted by population growth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Also tonight, the federal trial begins for three Mexican men accused of running a major international prostitution ring. We'll have the very latest on the story from Brooklyn. And Congressman Nathan Deal has introduced legislation that would deny you a citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in this country.
Plus, Senator Jeff Sessions is opposed to granting amnesty to illegal migrant workers.
All that and more, tonight, 6:00 Eastern, on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." But for now, back to Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Kitty. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life.
ANNOUNCER: Will the president and Republican leaders in Congress pay a price for taking sides in the battle over Terri Schiavo? We've got new poll numbers out this hour.
He's the last of the big three, but now ABC's Peter Jennings face as major battle against cancer.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. As the thousands of mourners file through St. Peter's Basilica at a rate of about 400,000 per day, world leaders from around the country -- the nation, the globe, are making plans to attend Friday's funeral of Pope John Paul II. Pilgrims are arriving in Rome from around the world to pay their final respects to the pope. Some predict up to three million people will make the trip by the time he is laid to rest.
Here in Washington, the White House today revealed the members of the official U.S. delegation to the pope's funeral. First Lady Laura Bush will join her husband, along with the president's father, former president George H.W. Bush. Former president Bill Clinton will also join the delegation, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In a statement, former president Jimmy Carter said he informed the White House of his desire to attend the pope's funeral, but that he was willing to withdraw his request when he was, quote, "informed that the official delegation would be limited to just five people and that there were also others who were eager to attend." End quote.
Meanwhile, the president returned to his domestic agenda today when he traveled to West Virginia to once again promote his plan to overhaul Social Security. Mr. Bush used the visit to the University of West Virginia at Parkersburg to highlight his point that the Social Security program is funded by what amounts to government IOUs. The president told his audience that his plan will strengthen the program and preserve it for future generations. The president is using his travels outside of Washington to try to build public support for his Social Security proposal. According to the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, he still has a lot of work to do.
For the poll results on Social Security and other issues, we turn to our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's spring break and President Bush may need it more than anybody. He's facing multiple problems, according to the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll.
The economy, 41 percent approval, down nine points since early February.
Social Security. The president's 60-day tour to sell his ideas for changing Social Security is a bust so far. 35 percent approval on Social Security, down eight points since early February.
The Terri Schiavo case did not help. Only 34 percent of Americans approve of the way the president handled it.
Take the economy. What's wrong? Two words: gas prices. Each spring, as the summer driving season begins, Gallup asks Americans whether gas price increases are causing hardship. This year for the first time, a majority of Americans say yes.
Take Social Security. President Bush has been trying to sell personal retirement accounts.
BUSH: We ought to allow younger workers to set aside some of their own money in a personal savings account as part of the Social Security.
SCHNEIDER: It's not selling. Half of those polled were asked how they felt about personal retirement accounts if it meant reducing guaranteed Social Security benefits. 61 percent say bad idea. The other half were asked about personal retirement accounts with no mention of cuts in guaranteed benefits. Merely as many, 56 percent, opposed that, too. In both cases, opposition has been increasing.
Take the Terri Schiavo case. Republicans portrayed activist judges as the villains.
REP. TOM DELAY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We will look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary.
SCHNEIDER: Does the public want Congress to change the way state and federal courts handle future cases like Terri Schiavo's? No. 37 percent support a complete overhaul or major changes in the courts. 60 percent want minor changes or no changes at all. In the Schiavo case, the public's problem was not with the courts, it was with Congress. Three quarters of Americans say they disapprove of Congress's involvement in the case.
SCHNEIDER: Despite all the complaints, President Bush's overall job approval rating is 48 percent, which isn't too bad. Now what's keeping that number up? Probably the fact that 54 percent continue to have a favorable personal opinion of the president. People may not agree with President Bush, but most like him.
WOODRUFF: And Bill, on Congress, it sounds as if this poll and others like it aren't going to have any dampening affect on what members of Congress like Tom DeLay are going to try to do.
SCHNEIDER: No. They intend to defy public opinion. There is an aggrieved, embittered constituency there who feel angered by the Terri Schiavo case, who will pressure them to do them to do something about what they regard as out-of-control federal judges. Most Americans don't agree. But that constituency is very intense.
WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, thank you. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, statements by a Republican senator about recent acts of violence at courthouses has had added new fuel to the public debate over the role of judges.
CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry has the story.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The politically-charged battle over Terri Schiavo fueled Republican anger at state and federal judges. Now, Senator John Cornyn has taken the criticism a step further, suggesting recent violence against judges may be tied to public disgust with judicial activism.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I wonder if there could be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions, yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence.
HENRY: Cornyn, a former state Supreme Court justice in Texas, made clear he does not believe the violence was justified. But Democrats call the comments irresponsible, comparing them to a fiery statement by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After Schiavo died, DeLay blamed judges and said, quote, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: These statements are really hard for me to comprehend and justify. Republican legislative leaders in Congress have forgotten what our constitution is all about.
HENRY: Democrats claim the verbal attacks on judges will backfire by adding to public perception that Republicans overreached on the Schiavo case. But a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll suggests Republicans have not paid a political price so far. The Republican party has a favorable rating of 50 percent. That's only a one-point dip from late February.
Nevertheless, the poll has a warning signal for Republicans. When asked if the party is trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of Most Americans, 55 percent said yes. 40 percent said no.
HENRY: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist today seemed to be distancing himself a bit from some of the comments of his colleagues, saying he believes the judiciary is fair and independent. Democrats say that's because of all these attacks on judges and the talk of a Republican overreach has actually weakened Frist's hand on the talk of using the nuclear option, which would end the filibuster of judicial nominations. But Senator Frist said those two issues are not related at all -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Ed, same question I asked -- put to Bill Schneider, and that is, is there any evidence that these polls are changing the posture of some of these Republican leaders?
HENRY: Democrats think so, but when you talk to Republicans, not surprisingly, they say absolutely not. And as I mentioned in the piece, some of the numbers suggest the numbers for the Republicans haven't changed much over the course of the Schiavo case. Back in late February, their approval ratings were just about where they are now. And when you talk to Tom DeLay and other Republicans, they say they didn't follow the polls before, they're not going to follow them now -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry at the capitol. Thank you.
ABC's Peter Jennings shocked his colleagues today with an announcement. Coming up, we'll tell you about the "World News Tonight" anchor's battle with a killer disease.
Also ahead, we'll find out what the bloggers are saying about Senator John Cornyn's controversial comments.
Plus, we'll return to the Vatican for the latest on the events surrounding the death of Pope John Paul II.
WOODRUFF: ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has revealed that he has lung cancer, and he is scheduled to begin chemotherapy next week. With me now from the "Washington Post," Howard Kurtz, who is host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."
Howard, all of us who know Peter, for us, this is really tough, tough to take. What have you learned about the prognosis here?
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN HOST "RELIABLE SOURCES": First of all, Judy, people at ABC, almost in a state of disbelief over this news. Peter Jennings has not only been the workhorse at ABC News, but he's been the face of ABC News for a long, long time. People forget that he had a first tour as the anchor in 1965 to 1968, before coming back for his more recent 22-year stint.
They are not take saying much about his medical condition, but I've been on the phone with medical experts, and because Peter Jennings's going to be treated with chemotherapy, not surgery, experts are telling me that he must have a form of cancer that cannot easily be operated on, and that the long-term survival rates of more than five years for that kind of cancer, which either has spread or simply is not susceptible to surgery, is much lower than if he was caught early and was able to have a surgical procedure.
WOODRUFF: But, again, this is based on talking with medical experts, not with people who are close to Jennings, yet. Is that right?
KURTZ: Absolutely. They have not -- they are not familiar with that case. They are just telling me generally what we can conclude here, and ABC is not saying much, other than the chemotherapy starts next week. Jennings plans to continue to be the anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight," but other people will fill in when he is not feeling up to the task.
WOODRUFF: And what is this mean? Clearly you had the Ted Koppel announcement in the last week, Howard, that he'll be leaving ABC at the end of the year. What does this mean for ABC News?
KURTZ: Clearly, it's the beginning of a generation shift, more quickly I'm sure than some would like. Koppel voluntarily exiting because he doesn't want to go the new version of "NightLine," that is planned, a live hour-long program every night, at the age of 65. Jennings is 66. I think the plan was for him to stay in the anchor chair, the longest serving anchor right now, for several more years. Who knows how this sad news will interfere with those plans.
ABC, fortunately for them, has a very deep bench, a lot of well- known journalists there. Charlie Gibson, Diane Sawyer, Koppel himself, Elizabeth Vargas. I don't think they have a succession plan. I don't think anyone was planning for this. It is not quite known how they may shuffle the deck if it comes to that.
WOODRUFF: We haven't seen anything quite like this, have we, Howard, where such a visible newsperson has publicly battled with a health crisis like this.
KURTZ: No example leaps to my mind. Certainly in the last four months we have had both Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw stepping down voluntarily or under some pressure in Rather's case, but it had nothing to do with health. Here, out of the blue -- I mean, Jennings himself got this diagnosis yesterday afternoon, told his staff last night. We all learned about it this morning. I can't think of another case where somebody at the peak of his journalistic powers and with the kind of broad audience that ABC has, suddenly your anchor has lung cancer. You are talking about chemotherapy. It's going to be a very difficult time, but Jennings has a lot of people pulling for him, including me.
WOODRUFF: He sure does. Howard Kurtz with the "Washington Post," and of course our first thoughts are with Peter. From all of his friends, we wish you healing, and fast.
So, the bloggers today are still talking about the death of Pope John Paul II. They are also focusing a great deal of attention on some comments by Senator John Cornyn concerning courthouse violence. We're going to go inside the blogs when we return.
WOODRUFF: Many bloggers are keying in on some controversial comments by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. For a closer look at the big topics online, let's check in with CNN analytical producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner -- she's our blog reporter.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi Judy. Yep, first it was Tom DeLay, now it is Senator John Cornyn. He made some comments on the Senate floor yesterday regarding judges and the violence against them. The blogs have picked up on it and a lot of them are not happy.
We go over to fidigious.typehead.com (ph). They've got lots of links under the heading "Senator John Cornyn Excusing Judge Violence." They pulled a quote. They also link to Brad Plumer who says that, "maybe, in the spirit of the speech, we should adopt the way of other countries, like Pakistan, for example, where several judges have been dismissed, he says, because they haven't taken an oath to obey the edicts of the military government at the expense of Pakistan's constitution."
Another site being heavily linked to today are, uh, -- yeah, Representative John Conyers -- I knew I was going to mess that one up. Conyersblog.us, and he's taking his fellow Republicans to task. Down at the bottom of his long post, he says, "to my Republican colleagues, you are playing with fire, you are playing with lives and you must stop."
ABBI TATTON, CNN ANALYTICAL PRODUCER: Interesting to note here, the blog of the U.S. Congressman John Conyers, that he says that he first found out about this speech via Americablog. This is John Aravosis' blog. He's a liberal blogger, one of the first people to link to it yesterday when it happened. He calls this "utterly outrageous." You can go to any of the liberal sites, there's a lot of them talking about this speech today.
I particularly like this posting. This is from Daniel Munst (ph) who say he watches way too much C-SPAN. His comment, "nice judiciary, shame if something happened to it." You can also find things on the other side. Going now to a more conservative site, this is QandO.net. They are saying that the liberal bloggers are going way too far with this one, makes the point Senator Cornyn did not advocate violence, in fact he said the violence was certainly without any justification. Also being heavily linked today on the subject is Matthew Yglesias, Yglesias.typepad.com. He says, instead of make being comments that come along as strong-arm tactics, perhaps, he suggested, in the wake of some murders and controversial court cases that we all agree that we're a country under law and that, despite disagreements, we should respect judicial offices and their holders.
TATTON: One story doing the rounds today about Canada. Canadians wanting to know more about an ongoing political scandal there might have to go to an American blog to find out about it. This so-called sponsorship scandal in Canada that's been plaguing the ruling liberal party is being investigated at the moment by a commission called the Gomery Commission. Now, the judge in charge of that commission has instituted a ban on Canadian media from reporting about key testimony from some of the witnesses there. You can find it, however, at Captain's Quarters. That's because Ed Morecy (ph) resides in Minnesota, he's American not under this ban. You can read all about it here and Canadians certainly are. They are going to his site. He's saying that after he was mentioned on a Canadian news program the site got swarmed with tens of thousands of visitors.
SCHECHNER: Over at myaihling.blogspot.com, they have a very long list of Canadians who are talking about this. He said it was sent to him by a Canadian blogger who is uncomfortable publishing in his or own country.
TATTON: Absolutely. Canadian bloggers are actually really worried about linking to Captain Ed's site, worried about giving the URL, giving the web address, or even, even mentioning his name. Mike Brock (ph), a Canadian blogger, you can read here in the comments section from one blogger, "I've avoided linking to the U.S. blogger in question --" doesn't mention his name "-- I have done what I can to keep my nose clean." We'll see how they do, if they get into any trouble by linking to Captain Ed's site..
SCHECHNER: And one last thing I want to show you really quickly is in the wake of the pope's passing. There is some discussion about his contribution to pop culture. One of the things you may not have known, he's the only pope to have a comic book that was made after him. It's called "The Life of Pope John Paul II," It was made in -- it was published in 1982, and a lot of the blogs talking about that as one of his contributions to pop culture.
WOODRUFF: That's got to be a collectors item.
SCHECHNER: It is. Actually, it's going on eBay. We found one that was autographed, that is now up over a hundred bucks, and another one that's now going for 500.
WOODRUFF: And probably rising. All right, OK.
Jacki, Abbi, thank you both. See you tomorrow.
So, mourners have traveled from around the world to say good-bye to Pope John Paul II. Straight ahead, we'll return to the Vatican where a massive crowd has gathered for a second day to view the pope's body.
WOODRUFF: There are huge crowds gathering again all this day at the Vatican, waiting hours to say a brief good-bye to Pope John Paul II. This is the scene right now at St. Peter's Basilica, where the pope's body lies in state. Funeral services will be held Friday, with burial in the grotto beneath St. Peters. In keeping with the pope's wishes, he will be buried in the ground, in the crypt once occupied by the body of Pope John XXIII.
Stay with CNN for in-depth coverage of events surrounding the death of the pope. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS; I'm Judy Woodruff. Tomorrow we're going to take a look at our colleague Bob Novak's conversion to Catholicism, but you know, you can grab Bob right now, with "CROSSFIRE," coming right up. Thanks for joining us.
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