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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
U.S. Delegation Arrives in Rome; Congress & Schiavo; 2005 Pig Book; DeLay and Democrats Head Off Over Judicial Confirmation Filibustering
Aired April 6, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: The U.S. delegation heads to Rome. But why is the president who first welcomed John Paul II to the White House not going to the pope's funeral?
Is Congress wasting your tax dollars?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My favorite in this year is the $100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center Museum. We're now funding groundhogs.
ANNOUNCER: Get ready for a generous portion of pork.
He's known around here as the prince of darkness. But our Bob Novak says he saw the light.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Why was the holy spirit talking to me? It was telling me that it was time to go. I had that feeling.
ANNOUNCER: We'll take a closer look at one man's personal conversion.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
The massive crowd still arriving in Rome to pay their final respects to Pope John Paul II are forcing city and church officials to take unprecedented measures. About 30 minutes from now the line of mourners is scheduled to be shut off, a decision that ensures a view of the pope's body for everyone in line at that hour, but which also means tens of thousands of pilgrims will be left outside. More than a million people have already filed past the pope's body, and Rome's mayor says that another million are standing in the lines which snake through the streets around the Vatican.
Meanwhile, political and religious leaders from around the world are arriving for the pope's funeral on Friday, including the U.S. delegation led by President Bush.
CNN's White House correspondent John King is standing by for us in Vatican City with the latest.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Judy, from Vatican City.
We're told the U.S. delegation aboard Air Force One landed within the last five or six minutes. It is President Bush, of course; the first lady, Laura Bush; former President Bush; former President Clinton; and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. That is the official U.S. delegation, and we are told, Judy, that within the hour they will be behind me in St. Peter's in the basilica to view -- a viewing of the body of Pope John Paul II.
Those arrangements made quietly because of the security concerns. But the Vatican did announce in the past hour or so that President Bush would make a visit tonight. We are told by U.S. officials that the rest of the delegation will come with him.
And as you noted, there are still tens of thousands waiting. What we have been told is that arrangements have been made to bring the president, the first lady, and the rest of the delegation, should they choose to come as we expect them to, into a separate entrance, and then essentially let them cut the line for a few moments. So they will be joining the public in this extraordinary tribute to Pope John Paul II here in Rome.
Mr. Bush arriving on Wednesday evening, leading the delegation that again includes two former presidents. The White House says Mr. Bush is trying to make a statement with that high-profile delegation of the high regard in which he held the pontiff. And Mr. Bush, of course, will have a full day, Judy, here in Rome tomorrow.
He will have a courtesy call with the Italian president, also dinner with the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. All of that, of course, overshadowed as the world pays tribute to the late Pope John Paul II. But that meeting with Prime Minister Berlusconi not insignificant given the fact that many other coalition partners in Iraq have announced plans to start pulling out their troops.
The Italians are on a path to do so as well in September. Prime Minister Berlusconi taking a beating of a beating in regional elections this past week. So the overwhelming focus, of course, on the tribute to the late John Paul II. But some important political discussions for Mr. Bush here as well -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Now John, a little side drama in all of this has been one person who is not part of the official delegation is former President Jimmy Carter, who, as we know, is the first American president to welcome this pope to the White House back in 1979. There's been some difference of stories, if you will, from the White House and from those who are close to President Carter about why Carter's not part of the delegationment.
The White House originally said, well, maybe he didn't want to go. Now it turns out that people who are close to Carter, and I've talked to some of them myself, are saying that the White House never made it clear that he could be part of this delegation.
KING: A fascinating political subplot to all of this, Judy. Again, the overwhelming focus on paying tribute to the pope.
But back in the United States, presidential politics, if you will, former presidential politics. Our White House correspondent Dana Bash forwarding me just moments ago a new statement from President Carter in which he says, "There has been no dissension between me and the White House concerning the pope's funeral."
So Mr. Carter trying to put this all to rest. But as you noted, if you talk to President Bush's staff, they say they were quite clear to President Carter that they were trying to get a high-profile delegation, that they hoped that delegation would include the former presidents, the living former presidents, not including President Ford, who is not in well enough health to travel. And that there was at first some unclear information as to whether President Clinton's health was good enough for him to travel, as to whether the former President Bush could clear up a scheduling conflict.
But the White House insists President Carter was told they hoped to have the former presidents in the delegation. Some aides, as you noted from your own reporting, close to Mr. Carter had said they did not get that information, or certainly it was not conveyed to them in what they believed to be a clear way.
So from the staffs of the two men, some conflicting opinions. Certainly you see President Carter tonight, as we get closer to this incredible world event, if you will, the funeral of a pope, trying to say there is no dissension at all. Although, Judy, the staffs are still giving somewhat conflicting accounts.
WOODRUFF: They are. But as you say, John, the fact that Carter is putting out this statement now, as you say, a sign that this event, this important event on Friday drawing close.
All right. John King joining us from the Vatican. Thank you very much.
Even in death, politics is surrounding the late pope. The House of Representatives is voting right now on a resolution honoring John Paul II. It is expected to pass within the hour.
But Republicans dropped some controversial language in order to prevent a floor fight with Democrats. The final section of the resolution reads, "Up to the moment of his death on April 2, 2004, Pope John Paul II remained faithful and principled, inspiring a continuing defense of the unique dignity of every human life." The words "from conception to natural death" were removed.
With me now from Vatican City to share his insights is CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.
John Allen, at this point with the cardinals we know that they are going to be meeting on April the 18th to begin their deliberations to choose a new pope. Is there any sort of understanding about the qualities that they want to see in the next pope?
JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Hi, Judy.
Well, I think to a very great extent that depends which cardinal you talk to. I mean, bear in mind, despite the fact that 114 of the 117 cardinals eligible to elect the next pope have been appointed by John Paul II, they are not all carbon copies of one another.
These are strong-willed men with their own ideas about where the church ought to go. And if you ask them questions like, what should the Catholic Church's relationship with Islam be, or what approach should we take to ecumenism -- that is, the effort to put together divided Christianity -- what should the church's relationship to secular politics be or secular culture in Europe? I mean, there are very different answers to all those questions.
But as I was making the rounds of cardinals this afternoon, speaking with a number of different cardinals from different parts of the globe who are gathering here in Rome, two words did stand out when I asked them about what kind of profile were they looking for in a potential pope. And those two words were "optimism" and "hope."
It was quite clear that they are not interested in a pope who is going to take a defensive and an insular stance towards the modern world. They want someone who can give a word of comfort and a word of hope, and a kind of new burst of energy to the Catholic Church as it faces obviously some very serious challenges in different regions of the world.
WOODRUFF: All right. John Allen talking to us from Rome, our Vatican analyst.
John, I know we'll be talking to you a lot in the hours and days to come. Thanks very much.
And we are going to be going back to Rome for more on the story about this pope's funeral within the hour.
Here in the United States, a left-leaning political group raises big money for Senator Robert Byrd. But could the senator's links to moveon.org backfire in his home state of West Virginia? I'll talk with political analyst Ron Brownstein.
Political pork on Capitol Hill. A peek inside the latest spending bill uncovers plenty of those so-called special projects back home.
And later, our colleague Bob Novak talks about his journey of faith and his baptism into the Catholic Church.
WOODRUFF: Did Congress step over the line in the Terri Schiavo case? And what will be political fallout for Republicans and Democrats? CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" is with me now to talk about that issue and about a big financial boost for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Ron, thank you for being here again.
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Hi, Judy. Good to be here.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk about Terri Schiavo first. The polls are showing something like three-quarters of Americans don't think Congress should have gotten involved. Did Congress overreach?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, clearly in the mind of the public. And I think you see in the reaction of Democrats and Republicans an interesting reflection of that verdict.
Right now, it's Democrats who are trying to link the Terri Schiavo case with the fight over the judiciary, and Republicans, like Bill Frist, who are trying to separate them. Democrats are basically arguing this makes their case for why there needs to be an independent judiciary that is not ideologically dominated by one party or the other.
And Republicans are trying to argue, Frist I think in particular, trying to push away the Schiavo debate and basically try to deal with the judicial issue on its own terms. That's a marker of what happened in this case in which the public clearly expressed the backlash against what Congress did.
WOODRUFF: So Frist and others worried that this could backfire?
BROWNSTEIN: I think people who are -- people who are engaged in the judicial fight for the Republicans are worried that if the two issues are conflated, that if the Democrats succeed in basically saying that this is why -- that this is an example of why the Republicans should not succeed on changing the rules in the filibuster, yes, that would be a problem. And I think you saw very clearly yesterday Frist disassociating himself from the criticism of the courts by people like John Cornyn and Tom DeLay.
I don't think they want that argument going on as a backdrop if they go ahead sometime later this month in or May with trying to change the rules to eliminate filibusters.
WOODRUFF: Ron, quickly, though, any problem for the Democrats? They were mostly silent on this after the vote was taken.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I don't think there's a problem for them in the short term. I think it is a reflection of a long-term problem.
And the reality is the Democrats -- most Democrats came out of this election feeling they had to be able to reach out better into red states with culturally conservative voters. They're not really sure how to do that while holding on to their historic base and their modern base, which has become sort of a socially liberal, culturally liberal coalition. And the fact is that we saw in this debate, in that crossfire, they said nothing. And I think that's a reflection of a larger problem they have to sort out before 2008.
WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about West Virginia's veteran Democratic senator, Robert Byrd. The organization moveon.org raised something like over $800,000 for Byrd.
BROWNSTEIN: In less than three days. In the entire last election, his last reelection in 2000, he spent only about $1 million. They raised almost over 80 percent as much...
WOODRUFF: Why are they doing this?
BROWNSTEIN: Because Byrd has become a hero to them because of his stand on the judicial nominations and also his opposition to the Iraq war. It is a sign of how -- it's really incredible capacity there developing to raise money over the Internet, something we really haven't seen, I think, to this extent by any group in either party.
The risk, of course, is that the Republicans want to use this against Byrd and say, argue that he's out of touch with the state, much as Democrats used to do with the Christian coalition.
WOODRUFF: Could that work?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it is really going to be a challenge that Democrats are going to have to deal with. I think Republicans have signaled they're going to use this strategy consistently trying to tie Byrd to MoveOn, which opposed the war in Iraq, was skeptical of the war in Afghanistan, has links to George Soros and Michael Moore.
Now, is that enough to really make an issue in West Virginia? Is it enough to offset $850,000? I don't know. But that's where this debate is going.
WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, "Los Angeles Times." Thank you very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: And we have this programming note. Senator Byrd is one of our guests on INSIDE POLITICS tomorrow.
Citizens Against Government Waste is out with its annual list of what it considers the most flagrant examples of pork barrel politics. Our Bruce Morton gives us a closer look at some of the state and local projects that won congressional favor this year.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, of course there were pigs. The news conference called by Citizens Against Government Waste was all about political pork, those little projects congressmen slip into appropriations bills. MCCAIN: My favorite in this year is the $100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center Museum. We are now funding groundhogs.
MORTON: A winner. But what about $1.7 million for the International Fertilizer Development Association, or the $25,000 Las Vegas is getting to study Mariachi music or...
TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: There's money for local museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, and as Senator McCain mentioned, the Paper Industry Hall of Fame.
MORTON: There are more of these earmocks (ph) as they're called, every year.
REP. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: The House passed a bill last year. It had just north of 3,000. This one passed this year had over 4,000. So it's getting worse.
MORTON: And they add up. This year's earmocks (ph) will cost taxpayers $27.3 billion, 19 percent more than last year's total. And, of course, the federal deficit is setting records.
The champion pork dispenser, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. $26 million for Alaskan villages, $1.7 for barrier research, $1.1 million for alternative salmon projects. Well, you get the idea.
SCHATZ: This time Senator Stevens, the outgoing and now former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, really went whole hog. He added $646 million for his state, which equates to $985 per capita. That's almost $1,000 per person.
MORTON: Senator Stevens argues a rural state as big as Alaska deserves more federal dollars.
Senator McCain and Congressman Flake will introduce a bill aimed at reducing the number of earmocks (ph). Don't bet on its passing. The Congress knows what it's doing.
FLAKE: They'll call it greasing the skids, whatever. It's buying votes.
MORTON: So, settle in, guys. You'll feel right at home here.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: That's a nice touch.
Well, we expect President Bush and the American delegation to arrive at St. Peter's within half an hour to view the body of the late pope. We'll have live coverage when the president arrives at the Vatican. But next, the story of two princes. It's a journey of faith for the man some have called the prince of darkness.
WOODRUFF: Coverage of the Catholic Church following the death of the pope has given many people a new look at a century's old faith. For some, like our own Bob Novak, embracing Catholicism can be part of a lifelong journey. Here's the story of his choice to become a Catholic.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): It was one day some years ago that this man known to many as the prince of darkness walked into one of the oldest churches in Washington and saw the light. Robert David Novak, veteran journalist, fiery conservative, born a Jew, converted Catholic. On many days, here's where you'll find him, in the pews of St. Patrick's Church. Today, reflecting on the pope.
NOVAK: I'm a poor mortal, and I know certainly, not as probably not as good -- nearly good a Christian as most of the people sitting in the church, and certainly not better.
WOODRUFF: At home, Bob and I sift through old photographs.
(on camera): I see a smiling Bob Novak in this picture.
NOVAK: Yes, I was -- I was real little different then.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): As the hard-bitten, often acerbic columnist traces his spiritual growth. He was raised by loving Jewish parents in a modest home in Joliet, Illinois.
NOVAK: My family was not very observant. My father had never been Bar Mitzvah, and his father was not a very good Jew. But I was Bar Mitzvah.
WOODRUFF: Novak calls the event his last association with Judaism. He says he never really connected with the faith.
So the years passed, and the little boy grew up, left for college, moved to Washington, became a fixture on the political scene, got married, had children and grandchildren. A full life, yet something was lacking.
NOVAK: I was kind of feeling a spiritual need all those years. We -- my wife Jody (ph) and I went to an Episcopalian church for awhile. Oh, it just seemed very political to me. The guy was a liberal and was talking about opposing the war and Vietnam, and I didn't want to hear that when I went to church. I wanted something spiritual.
WOODRUFF: Then, in the early '90s, the Novaks discovered St. Patrick's Catholic Parish. They started attending services every Sunday. NOVAK: I liked them very much because they were about god and redemption. And we're all sinners, but there is forgiveness. And there was almost never anything political.
WOODRUFF: But conversion was something he never contemplated until the late '90s. He was in Syracuse giving a speech and he met a young woman, and they got to talking about religion.
NOVAK: And she said, "Are you going to convert?" And I said, "No, I have no such plans." And she said, "Well, Mr. Novak" -- she said, "Life is temporary, but faith is eternal."
WOODRUFF (on camera): So one brief conversation with someone was enough to turn the key?
NOVAK: Well, it was the holy spirit talking to me. It was telling me that it was time to go. I had that feeling.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): So in may of 1998, Robert David Novak was baptized a Catholic here in St. Patrick's.
NOVAK: My patron saint, St. Thomas Moore.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Bob Novak tries to be a good Catholic, attends mass regularly, abides by church traditions. All the while maintaing his characteristic bombast.
NOVAK: The Democrats are entitled to be just as vile as they want.
WOODRUFF: But he says he honestly believes his faith has made him a better man.
NOVAK: People laugh at that because they know some of my faults. But I don't think they realize how bad a person I was before I became a Christian and a Catholic.
WOODRUFF: And so it was that the prince of darkness embraced the prince of peace.
WOODRUFF: And we want to thank Bob Novak for sharing his private story of his faith with all of us.
So why is the man best known as the creator of "All in the Family" now getting involved in a bitter Senate fight over filibusters? I'll ask Norman Lear that question when he joins us in a few minutes.
Plus, we expect President Bush and the American delegation to arrive at St. Peter's in the next 20 minutes to view the body of the late pope. We'll have live coverage when the president arrives at the Vatican.
WOODRUFF: It is just before 4:00 in the East and as the markets get set close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. And a great report. We appreciate that.
Stocks are mostly higher for the third day in a row, as oil prices edge lower. The final trades are still being counted. The Dow up 23.57 as we speak. The Nasdaq is basically flat. Oil ended lower after the government's weekly oil inventory report showed an eighth straight week of rising crude oil supplies in this country. However, gasoline inventories did decline.
The World Bank is warning that global recovery has peaked. The bank says economic growth will slow this year because of rising interests, higher oil prices, and of course, the weak dollar.
The quest for MCI is over. At least for Qwest. For the third time, MCI has rejected Quest's nearly $9 billion buy-out bid, choosing a far lower offer from Verizon. MCI says Verizon's deal is better for the company's long-term growth process, as Verizon is far bigger and more financially prepared for the merger.
And after a long-running dispute, the Army and Halliburton have settled the bill for feeding our troops in Iraq and Kuwait, agreeing to pay almost $1.2 billion. That's a five percent discount of the original bill. Earlier the dispute had been over as much as 40 percent of that bill.
Coming up tonight on CNN, here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," our special report, "Broken Borders." We have a special report tonight on how illegal immigration is diminishing the American educational system, damaging educational opportunities not only for millions of American students, but also illegal alien students and costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK JENNINGS, CENTER ON EDUCATION POLICY: In small towns and rural areas and medium-size cities, kids are showing up from all sorts of countries, from Somalia, from Cambodia, from all different types of countries. And the public schools are legally bound to educate everybody who shows up, regardless of whether they're in the country legally or illegally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: And that education certainly not to the historical standards of this country. Our special report tonight.
And in our "Face Off," Ivan Roman of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will be here to debate me on whether our coverage on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" of the illegal immigration crisis is one-sided, or fair and balanced, as they say. Join us for what promises to be an interesting discussion. Also, the former counsel to the 9/11 Commission, Janice Kephart, will be here. She says the Minuteman Project is a wake-up call to the American elected officials and to the U.S. government. We'll be talking about those civilian patrols along the Mexican boarder and a government that apparently isn't working for most Americans.
And former CIA director James Woolsey says our country's dependency on foreign oil is a risk to our national security. Stay with us for all of that and a great deal more tonight at 6:00 Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," right here on CNN. We look forward to seeing you. Now, back to Washington and Judy Woodruff -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Lou, and you know we'll be watching. Thanks.
WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: New ethics allegations against one of the most powerful men in Congress. Can Tom DeLay weather another political storm and keep the backing of his party?
REP. TOM DELAY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: The support for the leader is strong.
ANNOUNCER: Is the Senate headed for a showdown?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can say is that we are running out of options.
ANNOUNCER: Will a battle over judges bring the Senate to a stand still?
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. It was just about one half an hour ago that President Bush's entourage arrived in Rome from the United States. The president, we are told, is on his way to the Vatican to view the body of the late Pope John Paul II. The crowds have grown so enormous in the city's center that officials are telling people not to come. They are saying that anyone who arrives tonight or tomorrow will have no possibility, they say, of following the funeral or of seeing the pope.
So Rome confronted with an enormous crowd. Again, President Bush has arrived in the city and is on his way right now to the Vatican. CNN will carry that live as soon as the president gets there.
Well, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, back here in Washington, blasting the news media today in response to a pair of new media reports. One report concerns payments made to DeLay's wife and daughter by his political action and campaign committee. The other report raises questions about who paid for a 1997 trip that DeLay took to Russia.
For more on these reports and Congressman's DeLay's response, we turn to CNN congressional correspondent Ed Henry. Hi, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy. That's right, amid these new allegations, Tom DeLay launched a vigorous defense of himself in an exclusive off-camera interview with CNN today. You can see him now, he's live on the House floor, wrapping up legislative business before he heads over to Rome to help lead the congressional delegation for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
But in this interview with CNN, basically Tom DeLay attacked the "New York Times" story about his wife and daughter being on the payroll of his political action committee. DeLay said this was basically, quote, "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me." He did note correctly that there are other lawmakers who have relatives on their campaign payroll. He said there is nothing improper about that.
As for the trip you mentioned, 1997 trip to Russia, DeLay insists -- his defense is that he thought a conservative think tank was footing the bill for this trip. That would be allowed under House rules. The story is alleging that it was actually bankrolled by some Russian business interests and lobbyists. That would be a clear violation of House rules and as you remember, last year Tom DeLay was admonished no less than three times for violating various House rules.
So this would be yet another problem if this moves forward with some sort of investigation. DeLay, overall though, said about that trip -- he told CNN, quote, "I can't. No member can be responsible for going into the bowels of researching what this organization, how it gets its money or how its funded. What's going on here is a concerted effort to twist the truth to make it look seedy and it's just not true."
Now, DeLay spoke to CNN shortly after a previously scheduled meeting among all House Republicans this morning. At that meeting, it was very interesting that at least two or three Republican members decided to stand up and launch impassioned defenses of DeLay. That might suggest there are some DeLay allies who are a little more nervous privately than they are suggesting publicly about his political standing right now.
We've heard mixed report about how much applause those speeches actually got. Some people say it was mixed applause, others say it was pretty strong applause. Here is House Republican whip Roy Blunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MAJORITY WHIP: His applause-o-meter must have been off. The support for the leader is strong. I think there's a strong sense in our conference that this is where you go if you don't have any ideas on the part of the other side. And I don't see any lack -- any waning of the support for the leader. In fact, I think more and more members are feeling like that he's taking a lot of arrows for all of us and so, if anything, I suspect it's increasing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now you probably noticed that Roy Blunt was standing in front of a sign today at this press conference about how Republicans are doing the heavy lifting. They had fake barbells that they were lifting. The question, now, though, basically is whether or not Tom DeLay is too much of a weight on the Republican party, whether or not they're going to throw him overboard at some point.
The Democrats clearly are trying to create a drum beat, saying DeLay does need to be kicked out. There is this liberal group that is running newspaper ad tomorrow, Campaign for America's Future. It's attacking DeLay. They've already run a television ad suggesting that DeLay is trying to wash his hands of corruption.
But the bottom line is here is that it will have to be Republicans who push DeLay out. They have to get fed up with these allegations. And most of the Republican lawmakers I've been talking to say that so far, they feel that DeLay is in the clear, though some of them privately say they are a bit nervous about the political impact of the drip-drip of allegations.
And overall, something that was a pretty ominous sign was just a couple of weeks ago, "The Wall Street Journal," conservative editorial page editorialized that they felt there was a growing stench around Tom DeLay and they felt that it could eventually force him out. And that's problematic because could make it hard for DeLay to continue to insist this is just a big liberal attack out to get him -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry, reading "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page and following Republican reaction, because we know in the end, that is going to determine what happens. OK, Ed, we appreciate it.
Well, Congressman DeLay was among the most outspoken players in the event political debate over Terri Schiavo, a debate in which opinion polls found the American people were largely opposed to government interference.
Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has more on how the polls have become a decisive factor in a number of event political showdowns.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Without polls, Bill Clinton could never have survived. When the Monica Lewinsky story came out in January 1998, official Washington was ready to declare the Clinton presidency over.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This week's news magazines are leading with, you guessed it, the president. "U.S. News" covers the story and asked the question everyone is asking, is he finished? SCHNEIDER: Until the polls came out and showed the people did not want the president driven out of office. Without polls, Elian Gonzalez would have stayed with his Miami relatives. Congress was threatening to intervene in the case.
WOODRUFF: Sorry to interrupt Bill Schneider's report. These are live pictures from Rome of President Bush and his official delegation arriving at the Vatican. You can see the president, you can see First Lady Laura Bush, former president Bill Clinton, former president George H.W. Bush. And we know there is Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state. That is the official delegation, and we do see other Americans in the group.
John King, our White House correspondent, is in Rome. John, they move quickly to get there.
KING: They did move quite quickly. Here in a little more than 30 minutes from the airport. And we are told they will move briskly through this viewing, as well, because tens of thousands of people, the public, still waiting. You see the president and the First Lady there. As you noted, the 41st and the 42nd president of the United States, as well as the 43rd, and the First Lady on hand. Some of the president's senior staff on hand, as well, including his press secretary and his national security advisor, and Jim Nicholson, now the secretary of veterans affairs in the United States, but in the first Bush administration, his ambassador to the Holy See. The president making it here quite quickly, the White House saying he very much wanted to do this.
I'm going to pause for a moment to let the president reflect as he moves through with the first lady.
KING: These three former presidents, Christians, not Catholics, all three of them have met with this pope. The first President Bush was recalling on Air Force One on the way over that he first met Pope John Paul II when he was Ronald Reagan's vice president. All three, also on the receiving end at times of lectures from the late pope. Mr. Clinton met with the pope in St. Louis, I recall, in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The Vatican also at one point said it was "shameful" that he had vetoed legislation that would have banned late-term abortions in the United States. The current President Bush signed that legislation into law and had -- largely was in agreement with the late pontiff on social issues, but of course was on the receiving end of lectures over the war in Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the former President Bush again recalling today that -- let's listen in a little more, Judy.
KING: Again, Judy, as we watch this dramatic scene in St. Peter's, the current and two former presidents of the United States, the first lady of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, joining the more than one million ordinary citizens of Rome and around the world who have reached St. Peter's, made this pilgrimage, to pay tribute to Pope John Paul II. Noting, before we paused, that all three of these men have met with this pope several times, been on the receiving end of his lectures from time. This pontiff, of course, being remembered not only as a religious leader, the leader of more than one billion Catholics around the world for more than a quarter century, but also quite a politically active pope, as well.
All three of these men, the current and the two former presidents can certainly attest to that. Mr. Bush, the current president, wanted them to come along. There has been a bit of a controversy, or at least a mix-up in the conversations over whether former President Carter would come, as well, but we are told the current president very much wanted this high profile delegation of the former presidents to demonstrate the high regard in which he believes -- in which he personally held the late pope and which he believes he will be remembered, not only as a religious leader but as a statesman.
And, again, Judy, you see these three men here. It is interesting that President Clinton and the current President Bush, quite open about the role of faith in their lives and in their politics. The current president's father, a much more reserved about his faith. Again you see the president and former presidents here greeting some of the cardinals and other Vatican officials on hand.
WOODRUFF: John, we do -- we also see a sixth member of that group, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and perhaps others. I couldn't make out everyone who was there in the group. I think we should note that there were so many world leaders and other figures who wanted to pay their respects that they did have to limit the size of this delegation -- and you mentioned the dispute, or what appears to have been a dispute, over why former President Jimmy Carter didn't come, but it did have something to do with the size of this delegation, we know, and it's because so many people, so many leaders, heads of state and others, wanted to be there. It is, yes, religious people, but it is also political leaders who wanted to be there.
KING: It is remarkable event, Judy. The world paying tribute here, again, a mournful period, a sad period in some ways, but a celebration of this pope's life in many other ways. The official U.S. delegation, just five people. The president, his wife, the first lady, the two former presidents and Secretary Rice, but you did note other seniors members of his staff there. There are congressional delegations coming as well, some question as to where and whether they would be seated in the funeral, but key members of Congress saying they thought it was important that they come as well, leaders from all over the world.
Again, at least a mix-up in communication with former President Carter, although Mr. Carter clearly trying to damp down any controversy tonight, issuing a statement saying there is no dissension at all; his staff saying that if there has been a mix-up he would like to simply attribute it to a communication mix-up and not have any political squabble, as the current and the former presidents of the United States represent their country, the United States, at this international, truly global, tribute to John Paul II.
WOODRUFF: And of course,that on the heels of two different versions, I guess you could say, of exactly what happened and the sequence of events leading up to the decision for President Jimmy Carter not to attend.
This is -- we are looking at live pictures, of course, inside St. Peters at the Vatican. Our John King is joining me. He arrived in Rome before the president, but is there to follow the president, the activities of the president and the official delegation. We now see President Bush moving through a group of cardinals and other leaders of the church, pausing briefly to speak with them on his way, we assume, out of this place where the pope's body has been lying and will continue to lie until Friday's funeral services.
John, the president is there through Friday and we assume he returns to the United States after.
KING: He is returning to the United States, Judy. He will return to Crawford, Texas, not to the White House. On Monday, an important meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Mr. Bush juggling his schedule a bit. Of course, he says he very much wanted to do that, to come and attend the ceremonies here including the funeral.
You note the president moving out of St. Peters. White House officials told us -- when they first told us earlier today while Mr. Bush was en route that he would have this viewing, but he wanted to do it very quickly, that he thought it was important, that it was important to him and other members of the delegation to personally pay their tribute before the larger funeral, but they also know that tens of thousands of everyday citizens have been waiting, some more than 24 hours, to get into St. Peters. They knew they would be allowed to cut in line. They did not want, we are told, want to hold up the procession, the pilgrimage of those here to pay tribute, for very long -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: And, by my clock, they were there perhaps less than five minutes, somewhere in that neighborhood. All right. John King joining us from Rome.
We have been watching President Bush, his arrival at the Vatican and a brief moment where he and the first lady and former Presidents Bush and Clinton and Condoleezza Rice viewed the body of the pope. Our coverage continues.
WOODRUFF: Thank you very much for that important information. We also want to apologize. We didn't get to finish Bill Schneider's report a few minutes ago. We're going to try to bring that to you tomorrow. But what Bill was reporting about is a fight raging in the Senate over the use of the filibuster. Majority Leader Bill Frist saying he wants to ban the filibuster for judicial nominees. His proposal has Democrats up in arms and now, People for the American Way have joined the fray with this new ad in support of the filibuster.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that my party controls the White House and the Congress. But I also know that our democracy works best when both parties are speaking out and being heard.
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WOODRUFF: Norman Lear is with me now, from New York. He's the founder of People for the American Way.
Norman Lear, Republicans say all Democrats are doing whatever the argument you and the People for the American Way make, all Democrats are doing is they are trying to use the filibuster for political purposes, they're trying to keep conservative judges off the bench.
NORMAN LEAR, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: We're a country that depends on checks and balances. We have an administration that controls both houses of Congress. And one instrument left, which is the filibuster for people who either disagree or wish to stop the proceedings and hold things back so the American people have a chance to learn what the discussion is, if there is a discussion at all.
WOODRUFF: Let me...
LEAR: The filibuster being that only hope.
WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you what Boyden Gray is saying. He's a former White House legal counsel; he's now head of a group called Committee for Justice. He says, "The current Democratic filibusters are not about free speech and extended debate." He says, "they are about rejection of nominees with majority support." Is he wrong?
LEAR: Well, when you consider that maybe 230 or so nominees to the federal bench, lifetime appointments, have been passed by the Congress and relative handful, just a dozen or so, have been refused by the Democratic party, the minority voice in the Congress. I mean, those odds are pretty good for Mr. Gray.
WOODRUFF: Well, but still, you got Republicans saying this is all about politics. We know that the Democrats back during the civil rights movement used filibusters to deny pro-civil rights judges from being confirmed.
LEAR: We'll, Judy, I think that makes the point. Both sides for 200 years have used the filibuster to hold things back to allow their voices to be heard. And it is about politics, of course it's about politics.
WOODRUFF: I should say they used it primarily to -- civil rights legislation. Norman Lear, while I have you -- someone who is such an enormous figure in the Hollywood entertainment community, we're talking a lot right now about the effect of Pope John Paul on, not just the country's religion, but on politics and culture. He essentially lectured the entertainment industry some years back saying it the responsibility of the industry, instead of appealing to what is debased in people, he said, to promote human dignity. Is a lesson like that heard, do you think, in the Hollywood world?
LEAR: You know, the question is, to me is, to whom should that be addressed? there is the Hollywood community who delivers according to the demand, supply and demand. That's the American free enterprise principle. I would direct those questions to the giant corporations that run all of this and that pay for whatever it is they want on television. They are writers, producers and directors who supply, and then there are giant corporations who are providing all the consumer goods and paying for all of that entertainment, and that's where I think this question should be addressed. I don't disagree with the pope. I think we should appeal to the loftier instincts of the human species.
WOODRUFF: OK. Fair point. We're talking with Norman Lear, a giant, as we said, in the entertainment industry and somebody who founded People for the American Way. Thanks very much. We appreciate you talking to us.
Well Tom DeLay's ethics problems are causing a lot of buzz in cyberspace. It turns out, just ahead, we'll go inside the blogs to find out what is being said.
WOODRUFF: Tom DeLay's alleged ethics problem and Jimmy Carter's absence from the U.S. delegation to the pope's funeral. Those are some of the hottest topics for our bloggers. We check in now with CNN analytical producer Abbi Tatton, and Jacki Shechner, she's our blog reporter.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Judy.
Yep, Tom DeLay, front page of the "Washington Post," the "New York Times" and the top of the blogs today. We go over to grammarpolice.net. Kriston Capps over there wondering out loud what a lot of the liberal bloggers are saying, who in the GOP is selling out Tom DeLay and feeding information to the media?
Also today's "New York Times" story talks about Tom DeLay's daughter, and he and Atrius (ph) over at Escaton (ph), both pulled a 2000 archive article that had to do with Tom DeLay, a Vegas vacation, and hot dog -- I'm sorry, DeLay's daughter. DeLay was not present at the vacation, I should say. But, the quote from here is to say, "it's at least eyebrow raising for the daughter of the house majority leader to go all Paris Hilton on a crew of lobbyists during a paid Vegas vacation is an understatement, given that this is the least irreputable of the corruption charges since the story broke way back in 2000."
ABBI TATTON, CNN ANALYTICAL PRODUCER: And, if you are having a hard time keeping up with all the corruption charges out there, don't worry -- the liberal bloggers want to help you. You can go here, for example, to the dailydelay.blogspot.com. It has all the stories out there, all the blogs out there, lots of links. Also thinkprogress.org, today. They have been all over the DeLay story. Telling you to drop the hammer. This is focusing on large corporations who have contributed money to the legal defense fund of Tom DeLay.
A handy graphic for you there, if you are still having a time following all the aspects of this story.
SCHECHNER: Some of the sites on the right are coming down in defense of DeLay over at redstate.org. They have a Capitol Hill conservative giving the low down on DeLay, basically saying that it's the lobbyist Jack Aberoff (ph) we should be worrying about, and not necessarily Tom DeLay himself. Captains Quarters, also we should mention, they're saying the New York Times article is taking a little liberty with it's numbers, and they're saying that Tom DeLay did not in fact spend as much on his family as their saying, if you break it all down -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: No shortage of heat, all the way around. OK, Jacki, Abbi, thank you both. We'll see you tomorrow.
Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Wednesday. More on the Tom DeLay controversies coming up on "CROSSFIRE," which starts right now.
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