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Baseball Returns to Washinton, DC; Questions About DeLay Persist; President Bush Talks with Newspaper Reporters

Aired April 14, 2005 - 15:30:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Bush's pitch, on a day that Washingtonians have baseball on the brain. Did the president throw any curveballs in a session with newspaper editors?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do I go with the fastball or a slider?


ANNOUNCER: It's a moment political figures have been waiting for for more than 30 years. We'll have a live report on the national pasttime's return to the nation's capital.

Tom DeLay under the microscope: An in-depth look about the allegations about his ethics and the House majority leader's response.

REP. TOM DELAY, (R-TX) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Democrats have a strategy of personal destruction.

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


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

Although President Bush has been somewhat more accessible to reporters in his second term, it is still a big deal when he has any kind of extend Q&A with journalists as he did today. Among other things, Mr. Bush was asked to weigh in on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics troubles. Here's our senior White House correspondent John King.


BUSH: ...fix Social Security. I keep emphasizing...

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking questions from newspaper editors, the president did not answer directly when asked if Tom DeLay is now a liability to the Republican Party. But Mr. Bush stood by the embattled House majority leader

BUSH: He wants the ethics committee to review his case. And he's willing to step up and talk to the ethics committee about it. He's been a very effective leader. We've gotten a lot done in the legislature. And I'm convinced we'll get more done in the legislature. And I'm looking forward to working with him.

KING: The president forcefully defended his support of death penalty, dismissing critics who suggest it is in conflict with his calls for stronger culture of life during the national debate over whether to remove the feeding tube of a brain damaged Florida woman.

BUSH: The difference between the case of Terri Schiavo and the case of a convicted killer is a difference between guilt and innocence. I'm comfortable with my belief that there is no contradiction between the two.

KING: As always, the editors asked several questions about secrecy and access to government records. Mr. Bush said most information should be easily available, but he made exceptions for sensitive intelligence and national security data. And lamented that public record laws force a president to make tough personal choices.

BUSH: You know, you're entitled to how I make decisions and you're entitled to, you know, ask questions which I answer. I don't think you're entitled to read my mail between my daughters and me. And so I've made an easy decision there, I just don't do it. Which is sad.


KING: Now, this is a president who's not known for introspection but began by telling the newspaper editors he's enjoying himself, enjoying work more lately. Also telling, Judy, at the top of his remarks the president noted higher energy costs. The president well aware, it seems, that rising prices at the pump are not only a drag on the economy, but on his approval rating as well.

WOODRUFF: John, we noticed the president also had baseball on his mind. He was talking -- he was joking at the beginning of his remarks about decisions he has to make, one of them -- I think he said was whether he's going to fire out a fastball or a slider? Is that the decision he is looking at? And is he ready for tonight?

KING: He says he's ready, Judy. His aides say he has been practicing going back a couple of weeks. I would not doubt it if the president were on the grounds of the White House right now practicing a little bit more.

He is honored, aides say, to throw out the first pitch as baseball returns to Washington tonight. The president did joke in those remarks that he loves making decisions as president, fastball or a slider tonight. I'd expect a fastball, and I expect a big smile. The president is a big baseball fan. He's looking forward to it.

WOODRUFF: So, they're not letting you take the camera out on the south lawn and watch?

KING: No, they never do.

WOODRUFF: OK. John King, thanks very much.

Well, President Bush is just one of many baseball fans here in Washington counting the minutes until the Nationals play on their home field for the first time. I confess to even having a case of baseball fever myself. And so does CNN's Bob Franken who is lucky enough to be at RFK Stadium right now.

Bob, I just came from there. I did an interview with somebody instrumental in putting all this together. People are excited.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Judy. About the only better place to be than where I am now would be, perhaps, to be one of them. But it was not to be. Them being the Washington Nationals, first time playing a home game here in Washington.

As you can see, they're taking infield now. At the same time, they're take batting practice. It is part of the time honored ritual that precedes a game, first the home team than the visiting team which is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

By the way, they only started playing 1998. And it only took them three years to get to the World Series. So, hope spring's eternal here.

Now, as you can see, the field is in pretty good shape. This is RFK Stadium. But if you see over now on the other side, you will see a contingent of National Guard people who are going to be taking part in the opening ceremonies here. And there's quite a bit of discussion going on now with the National Guard about some sort of advertising deal with the Washington Nationals.

Now, there was some objection on it becoming naming situation with the stadium, so now the latest is that unless there are some snags, RFK is going to be renamed Armed Services Stadium at RFK.

But whatever it's called, baseball comes back to Washington, Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bob Franken out there where the grass is looking very green indeed. Bob, thanks very much.

Richard Nixon was the president when Washington last had a Major League Baseball team to call its own. Let's talk a little bit more about the significance of the sports return to the city after a three decade timeout.

Thomas Boswell is a sportswriter for the Washington Post. He's also at RFK. And he joins me now.

Tom Boswell, Washington has changed in 34 years, huh?

TOM BOSWELL, WASHINGTON POST: It sure has. Just standing here, I'm looking at all the seats I sat in when I was a boy. A teenager, a college student. And just a few could seconds ago, Judy, I remembered that there were so few fans here one night that three of my high school friends and I brought a crank siren, went into the upper deck, disrupted the entire game and brought the entire game to a halt while the umpires told around and told the police to chase us. I haven't thought of that in 30 years.

WOODRUFF: Now, so, are the Nationals going to have the same problem?

BOSWELL: No. You won't be able to find a ticket tonight.

Back in those days, you might get 5,000 at a game. It was really sad to come to what was considered then to be a gorgeous ballpark.

Now I think you're going to see above average Major League attendance here. Even thought this ball park is 44 years old and they're just in the early stages of refurbishing it. It will probably take another year or two before they get it to as good as can you make an old ballpark.

WOODRUFF: Some people have actually had the nerve to ask if a team that didn't have that magic in Montreal is going to find magic in Washington. What do you think?

BOSWELL: They had a terrible road schedule where they had to travel to Puerto Rico for a significant number of their supposed home games. That's a real disadvantage. They never had home crowds cheering for them.

I really think that it's probably worth six or eight games just to get those two factors reversed. So, I would look for them to be fairly decent team with at least 75 wins this year, who knows maybe they can get to .500.

WOODRUFF: So many unknowns. I have been asking my colleagues here at CNN. They said ask Tom Boswell if anyone wants to buy this team. My guess is it's too early to ask that question?

BOSWELL: Oh, there are plenty of people who want to buy it.

It's been a surprise to baseball. The season ticket sales, the merchandise sales, just the general buzz has been much greater than the people at top of baseball expect. But that's because they're 20 or 25 years behind in understanding the demographics of Washington, the wealth of Washington. So, they're being surprised by something many people here have tried to get them to understand for a very long time.

WOODRUFF: What does this team mean for the city?

BOSWELL: I'm not sure Washington, D.C. really needs anything. It's one of the great cities in the world. It will be happy to include the Nationals along with the Redskins and the Wizards as one of the core institutions that any great city in this country expects to have.

What's odd is that it hasn't had it for the last 20 to 30 years. This will simply fit right into Washington's fabric just as the Redskins are probably the most successful NFL franchise, I think in time, the Nationals have a good chance to be one of the most successful baseball franchises

WOODRUFF: Very quick question...

BOSWELL: In other words...

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say -- very quick question -- what are you looking for tonight?

BOSWELL: The feeling. 3 1/2 hours before the game when they're taking batting practice, it's hard to sense what it's going to be like when the park's full. When the old Senators, some of my boyhood heroes like Roy Severs, comes out to take positions on the field. It's very difficult to know what you're going to feel after waiting this long, wanting something this much. And I think there are many people who will be surprised by the depth of their feelings tonight. I hope it's that way.

WOODRUFF: Tom Boswell, sports writer for the Washington Post. It's a real treat to have you on INSIDE POLITICS. We appreciate it.

BOSWELL: Judy, thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, we have new video to show you this hour from Operation Falcon. That is the massive dragnet announced today by the Justice Department. More than 10,000 fugitives have been rounded up across the country over the past week. Many of them wanted for violent crimes.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says U.S. Marshals led the unprecedented coast-to-coast sweep.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: There was a concentrated effort in terms of throwing together resources, manpower, unique coordination. So this was a very concentrated effort, intense effort in this particular one week period to try to round up as many fugitives as we could. We are very, very pleased at the results of this. And as a result I think that it will warrant serious consideration for future such programs.


WOODRUFF: Law enforcement officials say they did not expect to round up so many fugitives. But they acknowledge the scope of the operation likely will generate positive publicity.

Now back to baseball -- a bit of trivia for you. When the old Washington Senators played for the last time at home, do you know how the game ended? The answer's coming up.

Plus the latest political moves for and against Tom DeLay. And Senator Trent Lott joins us with his take on DeLay's troubles and other things.

And is there a bug situation at the White House? In a way -- we'll explain, ahead.


WOODRUFF: House speaker Dennis Hastert tells CNN today that he fully supports Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and will continue to do so unless it is proven DeLay violated House ethics rules. Hastert also accused Democrats of blocking the Ethics Committee from organizing because the panel might clear DeLay.

Meantime, California Democratic Congressman George Miller is calling today for a thorough investigation of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a central figure in the DeLay controversy.

Our congressional correspondent Ed Henry has been investigating the allegations against DeLay and the Abramoff connection.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The majority leader has a simple explanation for his troubles, telling CNN he's a victim of "just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me."

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The liberals have a strategy of personal destruction.

HENRY: But liberal has never been used to describe the editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" recently declared that DeLay has an odor problem, "an unsavory whiff, that could have GOP loyalists reaching for a political glade if it gets any worse." That's why Republicans like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have started calling on DeLay to finally lay out his side of the story.

Much of DeLay's trouble stems from his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who hit the jackpot when he raked in $82 million from the gambling operations of six Indian tribes. But the lobbyist known as "Casino Jack" is now under federal investigation. This scrutiny has resulted in collateral damage to DeLay. Two of DeLay's expensive overseas trips were reportedly bankrolled by Abramoff and other lobbyists, which is prohibited by House rules.

In 2000, DeLay was joined by Abramoff for a $70,000 to a trip to Britain. It included a round of golf at vaunted St. Andrews, where Abramoff has a membership.

In official documents obtained by CNN, DeLay listed the sponsor of the trip as the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research. Which would be permissible. But "The Washington Post" has report the trip was secretly financed by two Abramoff clients which would violate House rules. DeLay says he's unaware of any funding my lobbyists.

Also under scrutiny: a $64,000 visit to Moscow with Abramoff. Records reviewed by CNN show DeLay again listed the nonprofit as the sponsor, but "The Washington Post" has cited four anonymous sources as claims the trip was secretly financed by Russian business lobbyists with ties to Abramoff.

In an exclusive off camera interview with CNN DeLay said, "No member can be responsible for going into the bowels of researching how such trips are funded." But ethics watchdogs counter he should beheld to a higher standard.

MELANIE SLOAN, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY & ETHICS: Tom DeLay now says, well, I didn't know. I thought just a charity was paying for this trip. Well, there isn't a don't ask, don't tell policy for lobbyists and for members of Congress who don't want people to know how they're traveling.

HENRY: Three DeLay associates have been indicted in Texas on campaign finance charges. The prosecutor has not ruled out an indictment of DeLay who says the case is politically motivated. DeLay is also taking heat for having his wife and daughter on his campaign payroll to the tune of $500,000 over four years.

Lawmakers in both parties also have relatives on their campaigns, which is not illegal. But the arrangement has helped fuel an impression that DeLay's activities are catching up to him, a perception the majority leader's allies are trying to shoot down.

STUART ROY, FORMER DELAY AIDE: No one's ever gotten rich by writing Tom DeLay's obituary.

HENRY (on camera): And why is that? Why is he so resilient?

ROY: He has the thickest skin of any politician I've ever been involved with.

HENRY (voice-over): DeLay says he wants to clear everything up with the House Ethics Committee, but a partisan standoff has effectively shut down the ethics panel, amid Democratic charges Republicans have changed the rules to shield DeLay.


HENRY (on camera): House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi today maneuvered to try to restore the old ethics rules. That failed, but what's very interesting about it is that two Republicans broke ranks with DeLay and voted with Democrats: Republican Joel Hefley, who was pushed out as Ethics chairman after admonishing DeLay, and then Republican Jim Leach. His office says that Leach is very concerned about this whole DeLay controversy that is bringing discredit to Congress. As to whether or not Jim Leech thinks that Tom DeLay should step down, his office says he's reserving judgment for now -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry, thanks very much for pulling that all together for us. We appreciate it.

And with me to talk more about the back and forth over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other issues is Republican senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. He joins me from Capitol Hill. Senator, thank you very much for talking with me.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Glad to be with you again, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Senator, you have you come to Tom DeLay's defense. You're not troubled by any of the allegation against him?

LOTT: I've seen nothing that violates the House ethics rules or is illegal. If it's repeated enough, as if there's something wrong with that, via the print media, the electronic media, people begin to wonder. What this is really about, Judy, is that Tom DeLay has been a strong conservative leader in the House of Representatives for the last ten years, making a huge difference in the war on terror, in keeping our military strong, tax cut policy, a variety of reforms, transportation legislation.

He's a very aggressive leader, and you know, I'm sorry to say that this is Washington, Judy, and it's pretty tough partisan politics. And I think that's what is happening here, and I do think that since he is the most visible aggressive, strong, conservative Republican leader, he's the, you know, flavor of the day. He's the one that's being attacked. It's nothing new.

WOODRUFF: But Senator, you know, it's not just Democrats. It is people like Senator Santorum, one of your colleagues, who was saying Congressman DeLay should lay out all the facts. Newt Gingrich, the former house speaker, a good friend of yours, has called on Tom DeLay to get information out there. You have Jim Leach, congressman from Iowa, Republican, saying Tom DeLay has brought, in his words, discredit on the Congress.

LOTT: Well, there'll always be one or two or three that, you know, you can scratch around and find. I think Tom has tried to be cooperative with the Ethics Committee in the past. Certainly, I assume there's no problem with getting out all the information. He has tried to do that, as far as I can tell. But unless it is some sort of admission of wrongdoing, people are not satisfied with that.

Judy, there's no question that he is a target. If you look at "Washington Post" every day, in the first section, they have another piece bashing Tom DeLay, and usually it's a rehash of something that's already been written about as much as two years ago. If it's repeated in a negative way, often enough people begin to wonder. For instance, employing family members in your campaign: people may not like the way that looks, and for that reason, I haven't done it in the past myself, but that is done very often. It's not against the ethics rules, it's not illegal. So what is the problem?

WOODRUFF: Senator, you mentioned the "Washington Post." I'm going to change the subject a little bit and turn to another story they wrote today. On their front page, there's a picture of you, Trent Lott, with the headline, something to the effect that you've rebuilt your power base in the Senate, and you've put your troubles behind you. Are they right?

LOTT: It was a very nice article in the "Washington Post," and positive for the most part. And I must confess, I was a little bit shocked with it. But I appreciate it. All I'm trying to do, Judy, is -- I'm a senator for my state of Mississippi. We have a lot of needs. Our country is facing a lot of problems. We need to make sure the economy stays strong, we need to deal with deficit problems, we need a highway bill, energy bill, and so I get involved in trying to find ways I can help issues that are important to my constituency and, frankly, to the country, and if that's positive, and I can be helpful, I'm very happy with that.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe that Senator Bill Frist, your successor, has been an effective leader?

LOTT: Yes, I think he has. He's got toughest job in Washington, D.C., Judy, and I mean that with all due respect to Tom DeLay. Because, at least in the House of Representatives, they have a Rules Committee and they can determine what bills will come up and how long they can be recommended.

WOODRUFF: Very quick -- very quick....

LOTT: But being the leader of the Senate is a tough job, and I think Tom has done -- I mean that Bill Frist has done a good job.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, is Senator Frist going to be successful on this so-called "nuclear option," curbing Democrats' filibuster?

LOTT: I hope he will, I believe he will, if he has to do that. Maybe cooler heads will prevail and some agreement can be reached where we won't have to go to that clarification of the rules, but something has to be done. We can't continue to filibuster men, women and minorities unfairly that surely are qualified for the federal judiciary. We have got to find a solution.

WOODRUFF: Senator Trent Lott, we appreciate it. It's always good to see you.

LOTT: You thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

Some Republicans may consider Senator Hillary Clinton an easy target if she decides to run for president. Up next, Newt Gingrich says his party allies should be careful what they wish for. His surprising comments about a potential Clinton campaign next in our "Political Bytes."


WOODRUFF: Checking the "Political Bytes" on this Thursday. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had some candid comments this week about a potential White House run by Senator Hillary Clinton. In comments reported by the "New York Times," Gingrich told newspaper editors here in Washington, quote, "barring something I can't imagine, Clinton will be the Democrat's presidential nominee." Gingrich also said that any Republican who thinks Senator Clinton would be defeated easily has, quote, "total amnesia about the history of the Clintons," end quote.

Former Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie is expected to join Senate Republicans soon to help make the case to end rules allowing judicial filibuster, the so-called nuclear option. Gillespie would serve as consultant to the National Republican Senatorial Committee helping with their communication strategy.

And you might call our last item political bugs. Cornell University scientists discovered 65 new species of beetles, closely related to the one we're showing you here. As a way of honoring three of the nation's top official, the scientists decided to name three of the bugs for President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Make of it what you will.

From bugs to baseball, coming up, baseball again, the waiting's finally over for Washington baseball fans, including more than a few high powered officials. Who's hoping to score political points now that the Nationals are set to play ball?

Plus a delay, beside Tom, that is getting bloggers fired up: a postponement of a controversial vote.


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


We have another sell off going on in Wall Street. We have weak corporate profile reports. And the Dow Industrials are dropping about 124 points. Take in mind, this is falling a 100 point loss yesterday. The NASDAQ is more than 1 percent lower also.

We have a volatile day in the oil markets as well. Oil prices climbing nearly a dollar today to settle above $51 a barrel. Crude oil had fallen, however, below $50 a barrel earlier in the session. And that's the first time it happened since last February.

This just in, Congress proved a new bankruptcy bill that will toughen up on standards to declare personal bankruptcy. The key difference in this bill is it will force more people to pay back their debts rather than have them forgiven. This likely will go into law, the president has been eager to sign it.

Also on Capitol Hill, the House voted today to eliminate the estate tax after 2010. Lawmakers in favor of the measure say the estate tax is a burden on owners of small businesses and also on farm owners. But critics say eliminating the tax would further weigh on our nation's federal deficit.

Here's an example, in 2001 alone estate taxes brought in $23 billion in tax revenues. Previous attempts to repeal the estate tax have failed, however, in the Senate.

And credit card companies are in the process of telling 180,000 customers who carried GM branded credit cards that they may be victims of identity theft. Cardholders were told their information was stolen from the popular retailer, reportedly Polo Ralph Lauren. Polo today, however, declined to comment on the situation.

Now coming up on CNN, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. "Broken Borders," the House and Senate appear to be in sharp conflict over the issue of immigration. We take a look at the battle brewing in Congress.


MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The meetings between the House and Senate representatives over hashing out a common bill could indeed get kind of ugly. And if the Senate passes a bill with no immigration provision, no amnesty on it, the House is already passed a bill that has this driver's license security provision the Senate doesn't like. And so it really becomes a question of who blinks first.


PILGRIM: Also tonight, Senator Larry Craig joins us to explain why he wants to give legal statis to us half a million illegal farm workers in the United States.

Plus, is trade with China hurting the U.S. economy? Congress holds hearings and we have a special report on that.

Also, illegal immigrants are bringing a deadly disease into the United States.

That and more tonight 6:00 Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. But for now, back to Judy Woodruff in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kitty, thanks. And we'll be watching at 6:00.

INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a great day for baseball, isn't it?

ANNOUNCER: D.C. power brokers are ready to play ball. We'll look at the lobbying for the best seats now that Major League Baseball is back in town.

These Senators really played hardball. We'll warm up for the big game with some Washington baseball history.

Another kind of big day: with the tax man beckoning tomorrow, do Americans feel any better about giving their money to the government?

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Here in Washington, people often take power, scandal and political bickering all in stride. Baseball, now that's another thing.

You are looking at a live picture, or you will be -- there you go. Outside RFK stadium just a few miles from our studios, CNN studios, where they are selling -- this woman you can hear her selling the inaugural program. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, sir.

WOODRUFF: They are -- this is the home game, the first home game for the team. The Washington Nationals after more than 30 years without a home team, fans have been clammering for tickets for tonight's big game. You can imagine.

And you can bet that political figures have been pulling strings and calling in favors to get a good seat for sports history.

I went to RFK Stadium a little while ago. In fact, I just got back here before the show began. I went there to talk with a man whose been instrumental bringing baseball back to Washington. He is Mark Touey, D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission chairman. And I asked him on this big day if he feels a little bit like he's giving birth.


MARK TOUEY, D.C. SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT COMMISSION CHAIR: Well, I haven't had that experience, Judy, as you and Marty have, my wife, but it's a rush. It's fabulous. To see the faces, kids, people all over the city. It's a real good feeling.

WOODRUFF: You just came from a lunch with the team. How are they?

TOUEY: They are great. But -- and they are excited. Frank Robinson is on pins and needles. But they are ready to play ball. And as excited as anybody the old former Washington Senators who we honored last night, they were all there today as well.

WOODRUFF: What kind of things have you had to deal with to get ready?

TOUEY: A broad range of thing. But with a great staff and great colleagues on the commission, we've had to deal with issues about advertising, the whole issue of seating and making sure that people are comfortable, making sure that we have a diverse crowd of kids and families from around the various eight wards of the city.

You know, it's one thing after another. But you know what, Judy, it's all fun.

WOODRUFF: Washington is a city that's all about power. How much of Washington has tried to get into this stadium tonight? And how do you handle all those requests? How do you make sure everybody who is powerful gets a good seat?

TOUEY: Well, we worked with the Nationals to assure that anybody that wants a seat to the extent possible will get one. Obviously, the Nationals and the sports commission have assured that our public officials have gotten seats. But we've also made sure our local officials, we made sure that leaders of youth sports.

It's been a bit of a juggling act. Because we had twice the number of this request for opening day than we can fill. We'll be 46,000 people. But we're going to take care of a lot of people during the season.

But, you know, you got to keep your wits about you. It's one game. We'll take care of people as time goes on.

WOODRUFF: You know this city very well. What does this team mean to Washington? I mean what are your hopes?

TOUEY: I think it means a couple of things.

First of all, the mayor's vision to continue to rebuild Washington economically, to go into different parts of the city with economic development growth. And that's what the new stadium will do. To create economic opportunity as we have done with jobs in renovating RFK and summer jobs for the stadium season -- for the baseball season as well as the new construction.

Number two, I have always believed that when you affect the relationship of kids to sports, you can change the culture. And that's what baseball is going to help do.

WOODRUFF: So going forward, is this a city that is going to grow to embrace the baseball team? How do you see that?

TOUEY: I see this -- I think you said it all, Judy. I think it will grow to embrace baseball not just as a sport, not just as a recreation entertainment, but as a means to enable kids to be more involved in sports, as a means to create other economic opportunities. It's going to be great.

WOODRUFF: What's the most outrageous thing somebody offered you for a ticket, for a seat?

TOUEY: Well as a good Roman Irish Catholic I guess I would have to be careful how I answer that question.

No, people have been great. We have not gotten into the situation where money is an issue. But there have been a lot of demands for tickets. And we'll take care of people as the season goes on.


WOODRUFF: He did tell me that a couple people have offered him some very nice golf tours. But he had to play it straight and turned it down. Mark Touey, thank you very much.

Well the White House says President Bush is loosening up and getting ready to throw out the first pitch at the Nationals game tonight. Coming up, president and the national pasttime in the capital city. Our Bruce Morton will have a play by play.

Also ahead, just one more day to get your taxes in. Are Americans feeling any more or less resentful than they used to?

And what would bring bloggers with vastly different views together? Find out when we go inside the blogs.


WOODRUFF: Tomorrow is the dreaded day, the April 15th deadline for Americans to file their income tax returns. A new Gallup poll surveyed public attitudes about taxes. Our Bill Schneider has the results and some of the answers may surprise you.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's tax time. Are taxpayers upset? Not especially. Before 2002, more than 60 percent of Americans told the Gallup poll they thought their federal income taxes were too high. By tax time 2003, only 50 percent felt that way, a number that's remained pretty steady. Why did tax resentment go down after 2001? Here's one answer.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Millions of taxpayers are certainly appreciative for all of the tax reductions that the Republican-led majority has provided.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, but something else happened in 2001: the war on terror started and there's evidence that tax resentment goes down in times of war. Like World War II -- when Gallup started asking Americans do you think the amount of income tax you pay is fair? Even though income taxes were raised to pay for the war, 90 percent of Americans thought their taxes were fair. There was a war on. By 1946, shortly after the war, that number had dropped almost 30 points. In 1999, fewer than half of Americans said their income taxes were fair. After 9/11, the number began to climb again. In April 2003, just after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, 64 percent of Americans said their income taxes were fair. Now, it's 61 percent.

The tax Americans really recent isn't the federal income tax. Asked, which tax is the worst, the public gives a clear answer: the local property tax. More than twice as many people complain about property taxes than federal income taxes. Look at the rising level of complaints about property taxes. In 1992, 25 percent of Americans called the property tax the least fair tax. Now, 42 percent feel that way. Many parts of the country have seen sky-rocketing property values. As property values go up, assessments go up and real estate taxes go up, and up. Exactly the same situation that fueled the tax revolt that started in California with Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13, way back in 1978.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): If another tax revolt is brewing we may see signs in the races for governor this year in Virginia and New Jersey. It looks like property taxes could be a big issue in both of those campaigns.

WOODRUFF: So, what's the potential fall-out from that? If people rise up and say, these taxes are too high, how does that get resolved?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Republicans expect it would help the Republican cause because they have always embraced the cause of low taxes. But I'm not sure it really is a partisan issue. It certainly wasn't in California when it passed back in 1978. Basically, what they did in California, what they want to do again, I think, is just slash property taxes. Take power into their own hands and spread all over the country. So, I'm not sure it has a clear partisan direction.

WOODRUFF: There is some connection, some of these property taxes have gone up as a result of other taxes going down and local municipality needing that extra income.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. As federal income tax has gone down, there's been less money to subsidize the states, and so much of the burden has fallen on local governments to make up for those shortfalls. Keep this in mind, this country started with a tax revolt up in Boston some time ago.

WOODRUFF: OK. We always reminded by you it's important to go back and read the history books.


WOODRUFF: OK, Bill, thanks very much.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has a lot of people talking here in Washington and online. Up next, we'll fine out what people are saying about DeLay when we go inside the blogs.


WOODRUFF: Congressman Tom DeLay is again among the popular topics for bloggers today. We check in now with our blog reporters, Cal Chamberlain and Jacki Schechner. Hi, Jacki.


Yep. Joe Gandelman today over at The Moderate Voice gets my nod for best title of a post related to Tom DeLay for two reasons. One, being that it addresses both big stories that are swirling around the blogosphere. And two, because it's pretty darned funny.

He says, "Bush puts a little distance between himself and DeLay and DeLay puts put as little distance between himself and DeLay." The first part of that talking about White House spokesman Scott McClellan saying that President Bush considers DeLay a friend. And then says well, there are different levels of friendship with anybody. So, in other words according to Gandelman he's a dude, but not a bud.

Then, farther down in the second part of that posting talking about Tom DeLay's apology for his comments made after Terri Schiavo passed away. And according to Gandelman he says this will likely let a little bit of air out of the political crisis blimp inflated due to his comments, but not the scandals that are swirling around him.

CAL CHAMBERLAIN, CNN BLOG CORRESPONDENT: And one of the scandals that's still swirling around is about how he paid his wife and daughter over half a million dollars over the past five years. And there's a list of -- the Associated Press put out a list of other politicians who paid family members. And one of the persons chiming in on this is Betsy at Betsy's Page.

And she says, "Whom is a politician going to trust to work hard for his or her campaign than a family member." And the Blog Warrior seems to have a problem with it. And under the title Tom DeLay Is So Screwed, he says it's not much -- so much what he did as over the top he did it. No one cares if you hire your wife to run your campaign, but if she is cashing in like she won the freakin' lottery, well, that's another story.

SCHECHNER: James Joyner over at takes that AP list of politicians and puts it into a very neat chart that you can take a look at. It has got the name of the politician, the amount of money in questions, how many relatives benefit from that money. And he says, the bottom line, unless DeLay's wife and daughter are not actually doing the jobs for which they are paid there is nothing unusual going on here.

CHAMBERLAIN: And yesterday Congressman Jeb Hensarling introduced the online Freedom of Speech Act in the House which would essentially protect Internet communication from the Federal Election Commission's regulation on campaign finance reform. And one of the first blogs that picked up on this was And they are calling for a bipartisan support effort from the blogosphere to get this through.

And on his post he says, I've already heard from some liberal colleagues on the blogosphere and we're going to push this bill and hard. The blogosphere has proven extraordinary aptitude when it comes to attacking or stopping something. Let's prove that we can be just as much a powerful influence when it comes to creating and moving something forward.

SCHECHNER: That bipartisan blog effort not lost on the under the title I Would Like to Buy the World a Coke. This is not typically a political blog, but he says he is pointed it out only to note how beautiful it is to see Instapundit and Daily Cause agreeing with one other.

Then a longer post at Patterico's Pontifications. Patterico, by the way, an L.A. prosecutor, his blog has a libertarian conservative slant to it. He says he's in favor of these exemptions for two reasons. One, and most importantly he says it's in the squishy, his word not mine. Bloggers, he says, need not feel chilled in the slightest by the fear that they are crossing some nebulous line separating legitimate bloggers, in quotes, from those whom government deems undeserving of the protection of the media exemption. That exemption being that which now applies to TV and newspapers. The second part, he says, that the amendment will have the force of law. And he says for him changes that occur through the political process have a more permanent feel to them. So the reason he likes that.

And then other people today talking about John Bolton now that the committee vote has been postponed by a week. It's giving people some time to talk about how they feel about John Bolton and what they heard so far.

According to Daniel Dresner, John Bolton is right about the United Nations. Dresner is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago. And he says I don't know if Bolton is a serial bully, I don't know if he'd be a great ambassador to the U.N, he's not so sure about the moustache, but one thing he says is Bolton's assessment of the United Nations was and is 100 percent correct.

We didn't get to the other side. We've run out of time. But a lot of people talking, both sides, about Bolton and how they feel, some in favor and some against as you might imagine -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, what was the name of that site? Patterico's Prognostication?

SCHECHNER: Patterico's Pontifications.

WOODRUFF: Pontifications. So sorry. OK.

We got it right. OK. Thank you both. Cal and Jackie, we'll see you tomorrow.

A new team and a new season give baseball fans a new reason to cheer. Up next our Bruce Morton reflects on baseball, Washington and the city's checkered past as home to the national past time.


WOODRUFF: 46,000 people are expected to be on hand just a couple of hours from now when President Bush throws out the first pitch in the Washington Nationals home opener. Our Bruce Morton has more on the last time Washington was home to a major league team and the high hopes now that baseball has returned.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a long time ago, September 1971, when the Washington Senators played their last game at RFK Stadium here. The unhappy fans stormed the field in the ninth inning, the Senators forfeited the game and owner Bob Short took the team to Texas.

Now they are back. President George W. Bush will throw out the first ball. He's had practice at other parks. This is Yankee Stadium. His dad, when he was president, had to make do with opening day pictures for the Baltimore Orioles down the road. He was a lefty unlike his son.

Washington Post did some arithmetic on presidential opening day pitches in Washington. Democrat Woodrow Wilson is the champ. The Senators were 3-0 when he opened the pitching. Republican William Howard Taft is right behind him 2-0, Calvin Coolidge was good 3-1, Herbert Hoover 1-3 and the Great Depression, what a legacy. Worst of all, though, was Lyndon Johnson 0-3. Richard Nixon was 0 for 1, but of course the team left during his first term.

Baseball's back now. The W on their cap stands for Washington, not the president's middle initial. And he, anyway, was once an owner of the Texas Rangers who used to be the senators who, well, you know all that.

They're the Nationals now and they are back. Workmen have been cleaning up RFK getting it ready for baseball again. Cushions on the chairs, chalk on the base pads all that good hopeful stuff.

So just a few hours from now, the guy wearing a chest protector will stand down there behind home plate and speak two excellent words that haven't been heard in this city in 34 years, he'll say "play ball."

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington, a baseball town again.


WOODRUFF: Thank you Bruce. It's nice to have something positive to talk about for a change.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. We leave with you a live picture from out at RFK Stadium. Have a great evening. And go Nationals!

CROSSFIRE starts right now.



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