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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Bolton Nomination Delayed; Interview with California Governor
Aired April 20, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: A vote delayed, a nomination in trouble. What are John Bolton's chances of becoming ambassador to the U.N.?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, we're not concerned at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because right now, he's a damaged piece of goods.
ANNOUNCER: A senator's surprise announcement. Independent Jim Jeffords won't run for re-election after all. We'll look at the reasons why and what it may mean for the balance of power.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Any smart woman would rather have me at home.
ANNOUNCER: Arnold Schwarzenegger on his family life and his political career, now that the honeymoon's over. The California governor goes one-on-one with Judy.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. The White House today is accusing Democrats of trumping up charges against the president's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, but it was a Republican who threw John Bolton's nomination into more uncertain and politically perilous territory yesterday.
We begin with our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, it's definitely fair to say that there was a bit of a surprise here at the White House that Republican senator George Voinovich of Ohio seemed to come out of nowhere yesterday and say that he did want that Bolton vote in committee delayed, so the reaction essentially was widespread. From Condoleezza Rice in Moscow, to officials here at the White House, there was an immediate coordinated effort to give a big public show of support for John Bolton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president deserves to have the person at the United Nations that he thinks best to carry out this job. I think we make the mistake of -- suddenly comments about management style become part of the confirmation process?
DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: We're not concerned at all, because John Bolton has answered all the questions during committee hearings and has demonstrated that he's well-qualified for the job as ambassador to the U.N.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think what you're seeing is the ugly side of Washington, D.C., that people are playing politics with his nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the other talking point from the White House today is a reminder that Senator Voinovich was not at the hearings last week, that he's playing catch-up. That is quite deliberate. It's an attempt, as one here put it, to show bewilderment that he wasn't there, but also an attempt to show that perhaps he's not worried about new allegations, but that he is just trying to figure out what was happening last week.
Now, GOP sources do tell us that Senator Voinovich, as you can imagine, did hear from the White House over the past 24 hours. And in terms of the status of the Bolton nomination, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that there are second thoughts here. What you're hearing in private is pretty much what you're hearing in public.
However, they do admit in the candid times that they were prepared for public fights over ideology, over John Bolton's public comments about the U.N., how perhaps he didn't agree with everything there, whether he was the right man for the job. But they weren't necessarily prepared for the allegations that have come out about his personal conduct with personnel about his conduct, perhaps allegations that he pressured intelligence agents to do things that they didn't want to do.
So they are waiting and watching, but Judy, in conversations here with White House officials and with other Republicans, they do say that there is concern about a delay for two weeks because they know the way Washington works, that this delay, as one put, could leave something out there and allow something to get out, especially in a situation that does seem to be quite red hot in terms of politics -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK. Dana Bash, thank you.
And Dana, as you know, President Bush today urged the Congress to pass a long-stalled energy bill now being debated by the House before summer recess. But Mr. Bush acknowledged there isn't much he can do to ease prices at the pump in the short term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow. I'd do that. Unfortunately, higher gas prices are a problem that has been years in the making. One of the things we can do to try to help intermediate term, we can encourage oil-producing countries to maximize production overseas. We can make sure consumers are treated fairly, that there's not price gouging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Now many Democrats say the legislation the president's pushing will do little to reduce energy use or to address soaring gas prices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The bill that the administration is supporting is a great gift, if you're a big energy company. It's a loser to the taxpayers and to every American who is spending more and more on gas and oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Dana bash is still with us. Dana, the president's been pushing this bill for months. Why did he make a public appeal today?
BASH: Judy, actually, he's been pushing it for years. During his entire first term, the president was unable to get energy reform legislation through Congress. You know, an answer to that question might be a story that President Bush told today, which is something he told for the second time this week, that when he went to Fort Hood to meet with soldiers last week, what they wanted to ask him about was gas prices, why they were spending so much to fill up at the pump. And that seemed to really hit home with him.
This is a concerted effort -- a speech you're looking at, obviously, earlier today and across the entire week from the Bush White House to raise the bar for the president to get on the bully pulpit and say he understands this is a problem, but that what needs to happen isn't something he can do short-term, it needs to be a long- term effort.
And what Bush advisers essentially say is that they understand that the president's approval rating is hovering around 50 percent and gas prices, energy prices, is probably a big reason why. So what they want him to do is to show empathy, to say he understands, he can't do very much short-term, but at least to say he understands. And that is what you're seeing from the White House, that kind of effort this week.
WOODRUFF: Dana, thanks very much.
Now we turn to Capitol Hill and a surprise decision by a senator who proved not that long ago that one person could tilt the balance of power in Washington. Republican-turned-Independent Jim Jeffords says that he will not run for re-election next year.
Our congressional correspondent Ed Henry has more on Jeffords and why he's calling it quits. Hi, Ed. ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy. That's right. Jim Jeffords leaves behind a legacy of fierce independence, and when he flashed that maverick streak back in 2001, as you mentioned, the balance of power changed. He switched from a Republican to an Independent, but aligned himself with the Democrats that put Democrats charge of the Senate, a major political headache at the time for President Bush. The story behind the story here is that now in recent months, Senator Jeffords has been facing a lot of private questions about his health, whether he was still up to the job.
He -- through all of that, his office was insisting publicly that he was going to run for re-election, but I can tell you that just last week, CNN approached Senator Jeffords' office about an anecdote. We had confirmed from two eyewitnesses who back in March had seen Senator Jeffords show up one night at the House chamber instead of the Senate chamber, which is obviously on the other side of the Capitol. He had to be directed back to the Senate.
Now, last week, Senator Jefford's office insisted his health was fine, he was still running for re-election. But today Senator Jeffords said he's retiring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (I), VERMONT: There has been much -- there have been questions about my health, and that is a factor, as well. I am feeling the aches and pains that come with -- when you reach 70. Welcome if you're there, and too bad if you're not yet. My memory fails me on occasion, but Leslie would probably argue that that has been going on for at least 50 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: The questions now shift from his health to the balance of power and who will replace Jim Jeffords in the Senate. There is immediate whispering that perhaps former Vermont governor Howard Dean would run for the Democrats. He immediately put that to rest, said instead he will not run. He is going to focus on serving as Democratic National Committee chairman.
Who is in? Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders, who, like Jeffords, even though he's an independent, he's the only Socialist in Congress, Bernie Sanders, and he aligns himself with the Democrats, votes with the Democrats. And I spoke to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman Chuck Schumer, who said that he is going to be behind Sanders. He thinks Sanders is going to win this race.
On the other side, Elizabeth Dole, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been on the phone today with the Republican governor of Vermont, Jim Douglas. So far no decision from Douglas on whether or not he's going to jump into the Senate race, but he's very, popular. Just won re-election by over 20 points and Republicans are saying they are very high, they think, very high on this race. They think, in fact, they can pick up this seat. The bottom line here is that while it's a political headache for President Bush when Jim Jeffords switched parties, it now could be a political headache for Democrats that they have two open seats: one in Maryland, one in Vermont. Senator Schumer said well, you play the hand you're dealt and he feels that Maryland and Vermont are two of the bluest of blue states and he's confident he's going to hold them -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Now, Ed, on a totally different front, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee did try today to show that -- I'm sorry, let me get my question straight here -- that Republicans want to break the stalemate over reorganizing the ethics panel. But it is essentially, we know, the same compromise that the Democrats rejected last week. So what is the latest on all of this?
HENRY: The bottom line is right now, while I'm here right across the Capitol, CNN congressional producer Ted Barrett (ph) has had a briefing with that chairman, Doc Hastings, a Republican from Washington, who basically just said that if, in fact, Democrats do agree to a compromise on the ethics rules changes, the ethics committee will then open an investigation of Tom DeLay and all these allegation swirling around DeLay.
But the bottom line is that the Democrats are not about to agree to that compromise that the Republicans are putting forth. Basically, the old rules said if allegations came up and there was a stalemate within the committee among the Democrats and Republicans after 45 days, an investigation would move forward. The new rules basically say if there's a stalemate after 45 days, an investigation would be dropped.
Democrats are charging that's protecting Tom DeLay and other members, so they're not about to let the Republicans come up with a compromise. They want the old rules in place. So the bottom line, we're still at a stalemate -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK, we hear you. Ed Henry at the Capitol. Thanks.
From Washington, we go to Rome, where Benedict XVI celebrated his first mass as pope. Facing criticism that he's a divisive hard-liner, the pope today cited the unification of all Christians as one of his major goals. Our new poll of American Catholics shows favorable opinion of the pope outweighs unfavorable opinion by a three-to-one margin. But, 60 percent of those surveyed say they're unsure about Pope Benedict, and more than half say they are bothered by his opposition to birth control. About three-fourths say they will likely follow their own conscience rather than the pope's teachings on moral issues, and yet, 61 percent say they believe this pope will be able to unite the Catholic Church.
Back here in the nation's Capitol, are Republicans working against one another on some big political issues? I'll ask the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, about any splits in the Republican party as well as party's fights with the Democrats.
Also ahead, the Republican who threw a monkey wrench into John Bolton's nomination, and what happens now?
And later my interview with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and why he says he's relishing the fights he's fighting.
WOODRUFF: We have some breaking news we want to tell you about. The only person charged in connection with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, we know that he was going to plead guilty in connection with those terrorist attacks, but what we've learned today is that the federal judge in this case has ruled now that Moussaoui is mentally competent to enter a guilty plea.
Before today, that was not clear. But today, the judge, Leonie Brinkema, the U.S. district judge here in the Washington area, has ruled that the court finds the defendant fully competent to plead guilty to the indictment. We do expect that Moussaoui will enter his plea in a public hearing on Friday. Once again, the judge in the Moussaoui case saying he finds Moussaoui competent to plead guilty.
Moving on, Howard Dean minced no words today in telling Democrats what they must do to win back the White House: fight the Republicans on the issue of moral values. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee spoke to union members here in Washington. Dean says the problem is not that Americans don't share Democrats' values, but the Democrats don't communicate their values in the right way.
He also lashed out at President Bush over the Iraq war and the ethics controversy involving the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Joining me now with a Republican take on these and other issues, the Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.
KEN MEHLMAN, CHMN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: How are you?
WOODRUFF: How are you, Ken Mehlman? I've got so much to ask you and so little time, so forgive me, I'm going barrel right in.
Instead of asking you about Howard Dean, I want to ask you about John Bolton. It looks like his nomination slowed down to be U.S. ambassador to the U.N., not by Democrats but by Republicans. Ohio Senator Voinovich (ph) yesterday, saying he's got problems with this. The president's having difficulties in his own party, isn't he?
MEHLMAN: Well, I'm confident John Bolton's going to be confirmed. I think he's going to be outstanding United Nations ambassador. My understanding is that Senator Voinovich was not able to attend some of the hearings and he wanted to go over some of the information that was discussed in the hearings he missed.
The fact is, we want the United Nations to be effective, and if it's going to be effective, it needs to be reformed. We need a United Nations that's going address problems like the Oil-for-Food scandal. We need a United Nations that's going to bring nations of the world together to solve problems. That's what John Bolton will make happen. I think the American people understand the United Nations needs to be reformed, and I think that on the other side, too often, you're hearing politics. The American people want problems solved, they don't want people to play politics.
WOODRUFF: But, again, it's not just the Democrats, it's Senator Chafee, who's a Republican, Senator Hagel, who are expressing concerns.
But let me move on, because I want to ask you about energy policy. The president is out there today speaking about the important of energy policy. Today on the floor of the Senate, John Kerry said, "under this administration, higher gas prices cost American consumers an extra $34 billion." He said, "airlines, truckers, farmers, spend an extra $20 billion." He said, "it's a regressive energy tax on the back of working Americans."
MEHLMAN: John Kerry's right -- we need an energy policy. The problem has been John Kerry and his Democrat colleagues have been against an energy policy for years. We haven't built a refinery in this country in 20 years. That's why, from the day he was inaugurated in office, from 2001, this president has said, we need an energy policy, we need to solve it, we need to have increased production, we need more renewables, we need to diversify our sources of energy and we need to update the infrastructure. All of these are things the president wants to do. We have a problem today, because for too long, John Kerry and his Democrat colleagues, unfortunately, didn't support what Republicans and what some Democrats wanted to do, which is to have a comprehensive policy.
WOODRUFF: Another subject: Tom DeLay and the issue of quote, unquote "activist judges." Yesterday DeLay lambasted one of the Supreme Court Justices, Anthony Kennedy, said, you know, he was -- he didn't like the way he was making decisions. He said the House Judiciary Committee would explore what it means for judges to hold their post on the basis of good behavior, and yet, Ken Mehlman, we're hearing the president say he supports an independent judiciary. Is your party split on this?
MEHLMAN: I don't think it is. I think the president and Tom DeLay agree, and what they agree is, we need judges who will interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.
Let me give you a couple of examples. The 9th circuit, which is the level right under the Supreme Court, held that "under God" should be removed from the pledge of allegiance. Throughout Megan's Law, throughout California's Three Strikes law. All of those are examples of judges who ignore the law and instead say, I have a right because I think something to overturn what the legislature has decided. That's the wrong approach.
The fact is, we need a judiciary that is independent, which means it respects the legislature, it respects the executive and it does its job, which is to interpret the law. That's what the president believes and what the Leader DeLay believes.
WOODRUFF: One thing I really do want to ask you about is your outreach, very obvious outreach now, to minorities on the part of the Republican party. But the National Urban League's 2005 "State of the Black Family," says "African-Americans continue to lag behind whites."
Howard Dean, who's your counterpoint in the Democratic party, said "Republicans are clearly not addressing the issues that affect the everyday lives of minorities."
MEHLMAN: Well, we agree with the Urban League's prob -- concerns and that's why this president has an agenda, to make sure the American Dream's available for everybody. We've created 1.9 new majority home owners since 2002, and we'll create 5.5 by 2010 because the president wants to close the gap between minorities and non-minorities in home ownership.
If you want to fix that gap, you know what you do? You allow people to have personal retirement accounts. Thirty-eight percent of African-American seniors today, and 41 percent of Latino seniors today, live as seniors only on their Social Security check. We need to save Social Security for the future so that it's there for everybody, and we need to make sure more families are living on two checks, not just one. If you live paycheck to paycheck -- if you can't afford to set up a 401(k) or an IRA, personal retirement accounts are the only way have you access to the same American dream of a secure retirement that families have who are able to live beyond their means and are able to live beyond paycheck-to-paycheck.
So, I think this president has an agenda on a to create more small business owners, more small business employees, allow more people to own their own homes and make sure the haves and the have- nots can both have a nest egg when they retire. And if Howard Dean means what he says, he'll join the president in supporting personal retirement accounts.
WOODRUFF: Ken Mehlman, speaking like a loyal Republican.
MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.
WOODRUFF: There's much more to explore here, all the more reason why we're going to have you back very soon.
MEHLMAN: Look forward to it.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. Good to see you.
WOODRUFF: A setback for John Bolton -- we've been talking about it. President Bush's man in the hot seat. Up next, the Senate fight over the President's nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I've heard enough today, that, I don't feel comfortable about voting for Mr. Bolton. I think interpersonal skills and their relationship with their fellow man is a very important ingredient of anyone that works for me. I call it the kitchen test. Do we feel comfortable about the kitchen test? And I've heard enough today that gives me some real concern about Mr. Bolton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: That was, as you could tell, Republican Senator George Voinovich yesterday, expressing his unexpected reservations over the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Voinovich is one of three Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who did express concern about Bolton. Joining me now to talk more about all this, CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." What's going on?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I'll tell you, for anybody watching yesterday, that was the closest thing that the operations of Congress ever get to must-see TV. It was an absolutely riveting hearing, where you had the rarest thing in Washington, a public surprise. All the focus had been on Lincoln Chafee, originally, the Republican from Rhode Island who indicated that, while Bolton would not be his choice, he was inclined to vote for him. Then, Chuck Hagel, the Republican from Nebraska, raised concerns, but also said, in a kind of a strange statement to the committee, that he might vote against him on the floor, but would vote to get him out of committee.
And the, George Voinovich, the Ohio Republican, really came out of nowhere and derailed the train and forced the Republicans to go back to square one. Three weeks of delay, more investigation, and possibly even a new round of open hearings at the end of that trail.
WOODRUFF: The White House is saying that these are trumped-up allegations. I mean, they're suggesting that there's really nothing here?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think -- if you look at this -- you probably have to look at this at two levels.
First of all, there is a long history in nomination hearings of trying to find a character or ethics issue to stand on rather than making a direct ideological challenge. Senators don't like to say someone is too ideological, either left or right, and that therefore the Senate -- the president should the not be able to have his choice. In the end...
WOODRUFF: Cut to the other side. We'll come back to it.
BROWNSTEIN: The other side can do the same thing. Democrats, I think, would be voting against John Bolton with or without the issues of deportment. But, the fact is that he's being nominated to a diplomatic position, and I think there is a concern among some of the Senators and even some of the Republicans, that in the moment the U.S. has to repair its relations with the world, is this the person with the temperament to do that? Now, the supporters say, he's someone really to kind of shake the rafters at the U.N. and that's what's really necessary, so, in some ways, what you're seeing is an internal dispute in the Republican party over what the direction of foreign policy should be.
WOODRUFF: Well, given all that, whatever the reasons, how much of a setback is this for the White House?
BROWNSTEIN: I think this is -- I think the people who support -- I talked to one conservative supporter of Bolton who said, look, the White House has to take this as a wake-up call. Voinovich did not say that in the end he is definitely going to vote against Bolton. There's a long history of moderate Republicans throughout the Bush presidency raising concerns and then folding in the end and going along with what the White House wants. He still has 90 percent approval among Republicans; it's not easy to oppose him.
But I think there is a sense that the White House has to be more engaged, they have to make a case and there are real concerns here. In the end, I think there are a number of Republican senators on that committee, as well as Democrats, who feel this is probably not the best choice for the job. The question is, will they be willing to override those concerns to give the president who he wants, that process probably took a step backwards yesterday.
WOODRUFF: We just heard RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman singing his praises, saying this is the right choice. But that is what you expect from the White House and from the Republican National Committee.
BROWNSTEIN: And we'll hear more right after the recess.
WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. Great to see you.
So, will Arnold Schwarzenegger run for re-election? I was in California earlier this week and I spoke with the Golden State Governor. My interview with Schwarzenegger is next.
And, later, some comments by Tom DeLay are getting a lot of reaction online. We'll go "Inside the Blogs" to see what's being said.
WOODRUFF: It's exactly 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.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Thanks.
Stocks are really sliding on Wall Street. Let's take a look. Right now the Dow Industrial is losing 112 points. That's the fourth time in the last week and a half we lost more than 100 points on the Dow. The NASDAQ, about 1 percent lower.
Consumer prices jumped by six tenths of a percent last month, and soaring energy prices are the main reason -- by far not the only reason -- the so-called core rate, which excludes food and energy showed its biggest jump in two and half years. That's raising concerns about inflation.
Consumers are basically paying more for housing, clothing, transportation and medical care.
President Bush signed the bankruptcy bill law into law today. The new rules take effect in six months. It will make it harder for many consumers to use bankruptcy protection to wipe away their debts. Banking and credit card companies see it as a way to end the abuses. But consumer advocates say it's unfair to people who lost their jobs, or run up big medical bills. More than 1 million Americans file for bankruptcy every year.
U.S. Airways and American West airlines are reportedly in talks to create a national discount airline large enough to rival Southwest. U.S. Airways has been considered a likely takeover target as soon as it emerges from bankruptcy.
Now, the airline's bankruptcy judge would have to approve the merger first, followed by U.S. Air creditors and unions at both of those companies.
Now, coming up at 6:00 p.m., CNN Eastern, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. A new report finds many big companies that outsource services to save money are now bringing those same services back in-house to their companies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. ERIC CLEMONS, UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: It's hard to imagine putting in a third party who has to earn a profit for a firm that's already large enough to be cost effective. It's hard to imagine why that would reduce cost. It's hard to imagine why putting in a third party would improve control or improve accountability or improve quality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PILGRIM: Also tonight, "Broken Borders." We'll tell you why thousands of Chinese illegal aliens are appealing for asylum in the United States.
Then Senator John Sununu explains why he doesn't want legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration attached to the supplemental spending bill.
We'll also discuss growing tensions between China and Japan with James Lilly, former U.S. ambassador to China and South Korea.
We'll have all that and more at 6:00 Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Kitty. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: He's dropped in the polls and his enemies are growing, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is not backing down.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) CALIFORNIA: I love battles. I love the fights. I love the struggle, because it's all a means to an end.
ANNOUNCER: Judy goes one on one with California's governor.
Senator Voinovich breaks ranks over the Bolton nomination. And Tom DeLay takes on the Internet. So, how are these stories playing online? We'll go inside the blogs to find out.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. If you needed any new evidence that Arnold Schwarzenegger's political honeymoon in California is over, consider the apology the governor issued today. Schwarzenegger says it was, quoting now "a total screw-up," end quote, when he suggested yesterday that America's immigration problem can be solved by closing the borders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: Close the borders. Close the borders in California and all across Mexico and the United States. Because I think it is just unfair to have all of those people coming across.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Schwarzenegger says he meant to say the United States should secure its borders.
Governor Schwarzenegger is being put to the test on a number of fronts these days. Political trials that may be even tougher than the on screen confrontations he was famous for in his movie making days.
SCHWARZENEGGER: They are throwing everything at us.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): A familiar script, lone maverick takes on the world.
SCHWARZENEGGER: The governor with his partners, the people of California, against the legislators.
WOODRUFF: Not just against the legislators, against the teachers union, the nurses union, firefighters, cops, the list goes on.
CROWD: Hey Arnold, take a stand, don't be a corporate girly-man. WOODRUFF: Arnold Schwarzenegger has plunged into battle, armed with the force of his personality and the support of his constituents. Support that is rapidly eroding among Democrats and independents.
Among his goals: implementing merit pay for teachers, putting a panel of retired judges in charge of redrawing congressional districts. A power currently in the hands of the state legislature. He says it's all part of his crusade to change the status quo in Sacramento. He failed to sell his plans to Democrats in the California legislature.
SCHWARZENEGGER: This is just a bumpy road that we are going to go through.
WOODRUFF: So now he may try to push through reform with the series of voter referendum.
DAN WALTERS, SACRAMENTO BEE: He's betting his entire governorship, his entire career on being able to get voters to do his bidding this year.
WOODRUFF: Dan Walters of the "Sacramento Bee."
Well, I went to California this Monday of this week to talk with Governor Schwarzenegger about the challenges he is facing in the governor's office and at home. I started by asking him if he still loves his job.
SCHWARZENEGGER: ...ever before. I think that -- when my father- in-law Sergeant Shriver said to me, 25 years ago after I met his daughter Maria, he said to me the most noble profession you can have is being a public servant. And I said to myself, where's he coming from? What does that mean? I mean, I'm trying to climb the ladder in show business and become a big action hero in the movies and all those things and make millions of dollars. I didn't know what he was talking about. But now I do, because now I feel exactly that way.
And of course, there are ups and downs. Of course there are struggles, there's big confrontations and all of those kind of things. But that's OK. This is all part of it.
WOODRUFF (on camera): Well, let me ask you about that, because a year ago right after you were elected after the recall, you were one of the most popular politicians in the country. People were saying he's a breath of fresh air. You had not just Republicans, but Democrats who were ready to work with you. Now we hear about all these protesters, nurses and teachers and firefighters and police, you got some legislators who are upset with you. Poll numbers have dropped among Democrats and independents. What happened?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, as soon as you get into the real issues, into the belly of the beast, and you are trying to reform things, that's when you start rattling the cage. And this is when the people that have created the problem are then getting really, really angry at you. And they are unleashing and spent all of those millions of dollars to try to take you down.
WOODRUFF: You don't think you were too idealistic or you under estimated the strength of the opposition here?
SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I think that it's not underestimating the strength of the opposition. I knew that they have tremendous power. Remember, that right after my State of the State Address I said they are going to spend $200 million against me and against my reforms.
And that's exactly what they are doing. They are spending every week, $5 million every week. And all the unions come together, because they are fighting. And because they don't want to have change.
So, I knew that. Some people say that I have taken on too much. Some people say why don't you do one reform a year? What do you think I'm going to hang out in Sacramento for the next hundred years to create all the reforms that I want?
WOODRUFF: But you did already have to pull back one of the four legs of the stool: pension reform. Are you absolutely committed to going ahead in November with the special election?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm absolutely committed to going ahead and creating the reform. How we are going to go and get there is not as important to me because as you know, right from the beginning, when after -- even during my State of the State Address I made it very clear that I want to work with the legislators.
Last year we were very successful. Democrats and Republicans working together, that's how we solved a lot of the problems. That's what I want to do this year. Even though last year it took the threat of the ballot initiative. That's what we're doing this year.
WOODRUFF: I ask, because a number of people I talked to said they think you may end up deciding not to do the special election after all if you think it's going to lose.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Oh, no. It's not going to lose.
It may not win all of the reforms. I'm actually very convinced that it will win all the reforms, because the polls are very clear that the people -- 80 percent of the people think that when you give them the choice of raising taxes versus cutting spending, say cut spending.
WOODRUFF: Another thing you talked about in your campaign, you ran against the special interests. And you talked about how they have taken over the state, that it was money comes in and they get out what they want. And you've continued to talk about that.
The reporters I'm talking to getting ready for this interview, people inclined to like you say, but wait a minute, he's got his own set of special interests who are contributing to the money he's trying to raise for his campaign fund, $50 million war chest. Money from big companies, financial interests, real estate interests, pharmaceutical interests. How are those special interests any different from the other special interests that you have been running against?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Now the fund raising that I do is for my initiatives. The only way that I can have initiatives on the ballot is first by all gathering the signatures. The signature gathering costs $15 million.
And then to go on television and communicate with the people, and to send out the flyers and all those things, that cost other money. So, Have you to have this kind of a money in order to create the reform. That's the way the system works.
But here's the important thing and the difference, I cannot be bought. I have plenty of money myself. No one can give me $100,000 and think that I'm going to go and change my policy or my thinking. It would never happen. Whereas those guys at our Capitol are very vulnerable. They have no money. So, they get the money from the special interests and from those unions and then favors go back. This is unfair to the people of California.
WOODRUFF: So, Governor Schwarzenegger may be up for a political fight but what about his wife and children? Next, the personal side of the actor turned politician when we bring you more of our interview ahead.
WOODRUFF: Continuing my interview this week with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. When I talked to him on Monday, I asked him about his wife's, Maria Schiver's recent comment that being governor is an all-encompassing job. She said she wants him back home.
SCHWARZENEGGER: First of all you can't blame her, because any smart woman would rather have me at home than to have me stuck in the Capitol and working, sometimes working till 12 midnight, sometimes till 3:00 in the morning. That's a given. It's also given she wants me to be at home with the children.
And we have had those debates also when I was in movies. When I went on location, when I went filming, I was gone sometimes for a week or two gone to various different places. She was not happy with that.
Because I think when you get married, you know, you want to do as much as possible together. You want to raise the kids together. You want to create the family together and all this. And she is one of those women that likes to do things together. And this is absolutely perfectly normal and also it's right. I'd rather have someone complaining that I'm not at home enough than someone complaining saying you are at home too much. So this is perfectly fine with me.
WOODRUFF: So, when she says she wants you back home. And she said emphatically in an interview recently. She sounds like she is saying she doesn't want you to run for reelection.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I told Maria, I sent her flowers after she said that. Because I think it's the nicest compliment as a husband that you can have.
Now, this is wishful thinking because you know I'm -- by nature a very calm person, but also a restless person at the same time. And I always like to work and do things and create things and fix things and so on. And I think that's part of why I have been successful in several areas, because I'm a hardworking person.
Like I took on this job, I committed myself full, full time. I mean no matter what it takes, I want to fix the broken system. And I'm going to work that out with Maria what she likes if she wants me at home or not. And we're going to get to the decision next year.
WOODRUFF: You mention being a father, the role of father. Your wife Maria also said of your children, they just think that's his gig and they cant wait for it to be over.
SCHWARZENEGGER: That's right. Yes. My kids are very upset, because when they come up to visit me in Sacramento for them that's boring.
And when they used to visit me it was on a movie set. Where we blew up cars, where there was fire, where there was all kinds of action and fight scenes and all this stuff. And they came to do the homework in my trailer. And whenever I went out to do some scenes they would be watching. They would be bringing their friends by there showing off. Look what my daddy does, he's an action hero and all those things. Now none of this is happening.
Now they come here to boring place, the way they look at me. For me it's exciting, but for them it's a boring place to come to the Capitol.
WOODRUFF: So, if you decide to run again, it sounds like it's going to be against the wishes of your family.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well remember, that they were not jumping with joy the last time I ran. I took a long conversation with Maria for days and days and days as we always do to flush things out. Which eventually, her mother came to my rescue, Eunice said, Maria, you got to let the man do what they want to do. Because this is meant to be. He has to run. He will be a good governor. You should support him.
That's exactly when Maria changed like that. And she said all right. This is what I should do. I should support what you're doing.
And I was delighted about that, because I knew that she would make a terrific first lady. And she is an unbelievable first lady.
WOODRUFF: But what everybody I've talked to told me I had to ask you is, are you running for president? Is that even -- is that something that you could seriously end up doing?
SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I'm not thinking about that. I can honestly tell you I tried to block all thoughts about the running, re- election, running for higher office, any of this is blocked out. I want to deal with the kind of problems that you have. Because I think -- it's very clear that if you do a great job here, then the other options are all open even though you know I don't have to think about running for president, because the constitution doesn't even allow me to do that.
So, if it all -- I would think about down the line when this is done do I want to run again or not. So, that's really the question that is open.
WOODRUFF: So the message to everybody watching, Arnold Schwarzenegger is he's happy doing what he is doing?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I am excited about what I'm doing. And I love battles. I love the fights. I love the struggle. Because it's all a means to an end. And The end is to reform California.
WOODRUFF: You heard it. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So what did John Bolton and the new pope have in common? Both are getting a lot of attention today from the bloggers. A live report coming up.
WOODRUFF: Some breaking news to tell you about from South America. In the country of Ecuador, the president has been ousted by the parliament. The parliament voting today to fire, in effect, President Lucio Gutierrez. The military, which had been supporting Gutierrez, withdrew its support. The vice president of that country is telling the parliament that the country would, quote, "tolerate no more dictatorship," and that he would rule for the people.
Meantime, as you can see, in the streets, protests, demonstrations. These pictures coming into CNN today. Ecuador has been in the midst of a political crisis for the last several months. President Gutierrez had fired members of the courts in that country after he appointed them -- himself -- in December.
As you can see, the situation there still remains volatile, is not resolved. In Ecuador, the president has been removed from office. CNN, of course, continuing to follow that story.
In Pennsylvania, the Senate race tops today's "Political Bytes." A new poll shows Democratic State Treasurer Robert Casey, Jr., has widened his lead over Republican incumbent Rick Santorum to 14 points. Now, this survey was taken during Santorum's high-profile push for the president's Social Security overhaul, and his backing of the Congressional intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.
Bob Kerrey has officially squelched his sudden flirtation with the idea of running for mayor of New York City, saying that he will not challenge Republican incumbent Michael Bloomberg. The former Nebraska senator says that he did give some serious consideration to a mayoral bid in recent days because he's concerned about the city's future.
Deposed Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is offering up political punditry that may not sit well with his colleagues. According to "The Hill" newspaper, Lott says doesn't think anyone now serving in the Senate can win the White House in 2008. That would include such big names as Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton. They are just two of nearly a dozen senators who are thought to be pondering a presidential bid in '08.
Some strong comments yesterday by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
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REP. TOM DELAY (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States. That's just outrageous. And not only that, but he said in session, that he does his own research on the Internet. That is just incredibly outrageous.
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WOODRUFF: Tom DeLay on the radio yesterday. We'll get the reaction from the blogs to what DeLay said when we come back.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm concerned in that I remember very well the John Tower (ph) experience, where he died a death of a thousand cuts and was totally unjustified.
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WOODRUFF: John McCain expressing concern about the delay in the confirmation of John Bolton to be President Bush's ambassador to the United Nations. McCain just showed up at the White House just a short time ago, and those were his comments.
Well, the fight over John Bolton is getting a lot of attention, it turns out, from the bloggers today. Let's check in with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner. She's our blog reporter.
Hi, again, Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Judy.
Yes, it's going to be about three weeks now, we found out, before another possible vote on John Bolton. Republican Senator George Voinovich spurring the lastest stall. That will give the liberal bloggers plenty of time to search for more stories. Someone who is bound to be busy, Steven C. Clemons at TheWashingtonNote.com. He is a self-described "long-term policy practicer and entrepreneur in D.C.," and he is dedicated his blog lately, TheWashingtonNote.com, once again, to all things, Mr. Bolton.
Then, over at PragueWriter.typepad.com, Jim Freeman, a Chicagoan living in the Czech Republic says, "Bolton might be bright or he might just be nuts." And he says, "It's the unspooling of the tightly held evidence concerning his near manic interactions with subordinates that make him the clear choice for not being chosen. Timing is everything, and a single tick of the clock proved one click too many."
ABBI TATTON: For more on the Bolton story, we wanted to bring you the video blog CrooksAndLiars.com. You can see it here, that you can download the video -- if you missed the committee hearing yesterday and wanted to see how that delay came down, go to the site here and download a video.
This is from a John Amado (ph); he's a musician in L.A. He started his blog about six months ago. He's including TV shows, Congressional hearings, that kind of thing. If you are of a conservative persuasion it may not be for you. The point he's making with the video, unabashedly liberal, there. It's kind of like a liberal TiVO.
Going across to more on the Bolton story, from the conservative bloggers, From the Bleachers, here, an example of conservative bloggers going off to Senator Voinovich for breaking ranks here. "What bothers me about this story is that Senator Voinovich was so easily swayed by partisan hacks on the committee." That, there, FromTheBleachers.blogspot.com.
SCHECHNER: John over at PowerlineBlog.com, making the connection on the larger picture, saying, "there is reason why political parties and their adherents value party discipline. Let's hope that what is happening to Bolton doesn't happen to DeLay."
TATTON: And, lots today on the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Seems like every time he opens his mouth and makes any comments, the liberal bloggers go crazy, have a field day. Nothing different today. On the thing he said here about Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet. That's just incredibly outrageous. Liberal bloggers loving this one.
Here from the LeftCoast, a liberal brief blog. "Now, I'm only in my second year of law school, so maybe they haven't had a chance to cover the part about the catastrophic impact of the Internet on the legal profession."
SCHECHNER: MindMonkey.com, "DeLay Equals Crazy: God forbid, the Internet!" he says. "Why, you might come across some whacko liberal blog, and we all know the Supreme Court Justices are easy to sway with small words and colorful language."
Over at SeeingTheForest, we want to wrap up with this one -- he says, "to be fair, DeLay has a perfect insanity defense. I don't know how anyone can argue that Tom DeLay is not completely unhinged from reality." So, DeLay, a favorite, once again in the blogs this week, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Some wild opinions there. OK, Abbi and Jacki thanks very much. We knew that comment on internet research was going to get some life and it sure is. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Wednesday. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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