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Stem Cell Veto?; Senators Searching for Compromise; Changes in Canada's Parties

Aired May 20, 2005 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: George Bush threatens to do what he hasn't done yet as president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is -- I'm against that and therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it.

ANNOUNCER: The Capitol and the White House were evacuated, the first lady rushed to an emergency bunker. But the's president's bike ride wasn't interrupted to alert him of the scare.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, sure, I mean, I think he should have been interrupted, but I'm not going to second guess the Secret Service that were with him.

ANNOUNCER: Is Laura Bush taking issue with the official White House line over last week's incident?

She single-handedly saved a government from falling, but in the process, broke the heart of her party and former boyfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart's a little banged up.

ANNOUNCER: Stick around for a story of love and politics.

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. George W. Bush has been in office for more than four years, and he has never issued a presidential veto. Earlier today, however, he vowed to veto pending legislation that would expand the use of government money for embryonic stem cell research. On a related issue, Mr. Bush also expressed concerns over word that South Korean researchers have successfully extracted stem cells from cloned human embryos.

Like the stem cell issue itself, the politics surrounding the stem cell legislation are complex. The bill is supported by members of both parties and some estimate it is backed by veto-proof majority.

CNN's Dana Bash was first to report the president's veto threat late yesterday. She joins us now from the White House. Hi, Dana. DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, the White House insists that they never had and certainly do not have any intention of budging from the president's position, that has been since August of 2001, that the federal funding for embryonic stem cell research should be limited to the existing lines, lines before August of 2001 when he put this policy into place.

And top Bush officials, including the president, have told us -- officials here tell us that they have all been deliberating on exactly how to best deal with the fact that there are nearly four dozen Republican co-sponsors of a bill in the House that will come up next to lift the limits. Today, the president tried to speak out to stop the momentum.


G. BUSH: I made my position very clear on embryonic stem cells. Strong support of adult stem cell research, of course. But I have made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is -- I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it.


BASH: Now, Judy, you mentioned this earlier, but it's worth repeating, that the president has been in office more than four years now and never vetoed a bill. In fact, he rarely threatens to do so. But since the president issued these limits about four years ago, scientists have come out saying that the lines that they have to work with that are funded by taxpayer money are -- some of them are contaminated and it really -- they say, many of them say -- stymies research into some diseases like Alzheimer's and other diseases.

And in fact, Nancy Reagan has come out since then and been a powerful force for supporters of lifting the limits. Particularly when you listen to Republicans, Republicans like John McCain, for example, has said recently that Nancy Reagan changed his mind. So that is something that they are dealing with here at White House. Also some ads on television from moderate Republican groups, saying that this is a critical thing for Republicans in Congress to understand that they believe that this is not a so-called life issue, that supporting stem cell research, funding for it, and lifting the limits, is actually from their point of view, supporting what they call life.

And we also have an interesting poll to look at, one that came out last month, was issued by Republicans and taken of 800 Republicans nationwide, showing that knowing what they know on both sides, 57 percent of Republicans actually now favor embryonic stem cell research. Another interesting note in this poll is that 40 percent call this a right to life issue, only 40 percent, while 54 percent view this issue as a scientific one.

Now Judy, in terms of the current debate and where the votes are, we are told by one of the sponsors in the House, Mike Castle, a Republican, that he actually at this point does not think that they have a veto-proof majority, but on the Senate side, Democrats heard the president's veto threat today and they say that they are gaining momentum in the Senate, if this ever comes up, and they hope to have the president actually use that veto -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dana bash at the White House. Dana, thank you.

And with me to talk about the stem cell issue are two members of Congress.

One you just heard Dana mention, Republican Mike Castle of Delaware. He is a co-sponsor of the bill that would expand federal funding. He joins us from Wilmington, Delaware.

New Jersey Republican Chris Smith is on Capitol Hill. He opposes Congressman Castle's bill. He's proposed an alternative.

Congressman Castle, to you first. The president is threatening a veto. We just heard Dana say that you've said you don't think you have a veto-proof majority. Why are you pushing ahead with this issue so hard?

REP. MIKE CASTLE, (R) DELAWARE: Well, I'm pushing ahead, Judy, as are the others who support this legislation, because there are 110 million people out there who someday could benefit from this research. And we believe very strongly that we need to take it down that path.

There's a long ways between the House of Representatives passing legislation and going to the president's desk for a veto. There may be other resolutions of this in some way or another. But we feel very strongly that this is the best hope for medical research in the United States of America. And I don't think that his veto threat is really going to change any votes at all at this time.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Smith, given the fact that there are so many people out there, as Congressman Castle said, who would benefit from this, what is your argument for not supporting it?

REP. CHRIS SMITH, (R) NEW JERSEY: Well, first of all, Judy, the best-kept secret in America today is that cord blood stem cells, that is to say the stem cells that are found in cord blood after a baby has been born, as well as in the placenta, that can be frozen and then applied not only for research, but also for cures -- there have been many, many cures. Leukemia, sickle-cell anemia, a whole host of diseases. Repair -- heart repair that has been the result of adult stem cells.

Unfortunately, the only game in town, or the main game in town, the big focus of the media and people who are promoting embryonic stem cell research, where there hasn't been a single -- not one cure effectuated by embryonic stem cell research. We have an alternative. You mentioned it. It's called the Stem Cell Research and Therapeutic Act -- it's designed -- of 2005.

WOODRUFF: And you would use the umbilical cord? SMITH: We would get -- right now we have very few units of umbilical cord. Most of it becomes medical waste. We want to turn this medical waste into medical miracles, and it's being -- it's happening right now.

WOODRUFF: Congressman...

SMITH: We would get up to about 150,000 units...

WOODRUFF: I'm sorry.

SMITH: We could get diversity, we could help cure people all over the country. Unfortunately, that has got obscured. It's put into the shadow of this embryonic. Again...

WOODRUFF: I'm sorry...

SMITH: Let me also say, Judy...

WOODRUFF: Our time is limited.

SMITH: You have to kill embryos in order to kill -- in order to get their stem cells. And that's unfortunate. We don't kill embryos. We ought to nurture them and protect them and not kill them.

WOODRUFF: Our time is limited, so I do want to give both of you a chance to comment. Congressman Castle, why doesn't a proposal like Congressman Smith's do the job on this issue? And second, the word out of South Korea today that they have cloned human embryos, used those to get stem cells. Is that hurting your cause today?

SMITH: Well, I think it helps the cause. The latter question is it helps the cause. Because of the advancement of medicine, people see that some of things can be done, although what we're doing is very different. But as far as what Chris has said, his concern, first of all, I support his legislation. I think using adult stem cells or umbilical cord stem cells is a wonderful concept and idea. I'm for advancing medical research, Judy, in any way we possibly can, ethically and morally, and I think that that does that.

Unfortunately, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of scientists, will tell you they're just insufficient stem cells that can be gathered in that way. And particularly with adult stem cells, when you get into bone marrow issues and issues such as that, they're limited. They're already differentiated. You have 200 stem cells in your body. They can only serve the purpose for they've already been differentiated.

The reason that all of the scientists and researchers basically want to move ahead with the embryonic stem cells is they're undifferentiated, and you can do much more with them and they can replicate...

WOODRUFF: Well, if...

CASTLE: So that you can grow others. And indeed, in terms of... WOODRUFF: If that's the case, Congressman Smith, why not at least look at what Congressman Castle is suggesting?

SMITH: Well, again, we already have embryonic stem cell research being conducted. And if all of these great promises turn out to be true, which I think they will not -- there have already been some animal studies which we've been doing for years that have shown that these kind of embryonic stem cell, they have the unfortunate or fortunate, depending how you look at it, propensity to morph into things that you don't want. You don't want tumors, you don't want things of that kind. So there's a real instability...


SMITH: Wait, let me finish.


SMITH: There's a real instability factor here. But you know, you mentioned the human cloning in South Korea. You know, my friend and colleague from Delaware voted against the human cloning act of 2003, when it came up in February of '03.

WOODRUFF: All right.

SMITH: There are -- there's a very bright line, I think, between...

CASTLE: Judy...

WOODRUFF: All right.

SMITH: ... what is ethical and not, and killing human embryos to steal and derive its stem cells is wrong.

WOODRUFF: All right. Very quickly, Congressman Castle.

CASTLE: The point is this. At the end of in-vitro fertilization process you have excess embryos. There's 400,000 embryos in the country, about 2 percent a year become excess. We are saying sign off on all those. No money is exchanged or anything of that nature. Everybody is all signed off. At that points, the physician has to make a decision. Do you put it in a hospital waste bag, or do you use it for research to help people in this world, 110 million people in America.

Judy, that is not the only option. With all due respect...

CASTLE: My view is -- either way you dispose of the embryo and those stem cells should absolutely be used for the purpose of human research. It just makes all the sense in the world. So, I don't want to hear about the killing argument and some of the things that the distinguished congressman is bringing up, because either way, you're going to have that problem.


SMITH: The human embryo adoption, so far, 91 human embryos in cryogenically frozen tanks have been adopted. There is an alternative...

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there.

CASTLE: 91 out of hundreds of thousands. And that's fine.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.


WOODRUFF: And I'm sorry because both of you we want to be hear what both of you are saying. We have to leave it there. Thank you very much.

CASTLE: Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The first lady begins her Middle East tour, but not before sharing her thoughts on last week's Washington security scare. Up next, Laura Bush sounds off on the decision not to tell her husband about the airplane that violated D.C. airspace.

Rudy Giuliani delivers a commencement speech at a Catholic college in Maryland. Protests were planned. We'll tell you what kind of reception he received.

And Majority Leader Bill Frist is also advising graduates. We'll tell where you he spoke and we'll update the Senate standoff over judicial filibusters.


WOODRUFF: First lady Laura Bush says the president should have been interrupted on his bike ride and immediately told about last week's security breach in Washington. The White House insists that proper procedures were followed when the president's Secret Service detail waited until after the bicycle outing to tell the president the White House and the Capitol had been briefly evacuated. The small plane scare sent the first lady scurrying to a fortified bunker.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Well, sure, I think he should have been interrupted. But I'm not going to second-guess the Secret Service who were with him.


WOODRUFF: Mrs. Bush's comments came on a flight to Amman, Jordan, first stop on her three nation Mideast goodwill tour. Turning now to our Friday "Political Bytes," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is away from Washington today. He delivered the commencement speech at the Medical University of South Carolina. The state also happens to be home to a crucial early primary on the 2008 presidential calendar.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received a warm welcome when he spoke to graduates at Loyola College of Maryland. As we reported yesterday, Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler did not attend the event, citing Giuliani's support for abortion rights. A school spokesman tells CNN, however, that Keeler has not attend the school's graduations in more than a decade.

The antitax group Free Enterprise Fund says it is spending in the six figure range to launch a new TV add, in support of Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The group plans to air spot on a national cable network as well as select cable markets, including DeLay's hometown of Houston. The ad accuses Democrats, liberals and the news media of taking part in a feeding frenzy by attacking Congressman DeLay.

Is the Senate showdown over drowning out other important work? Coming up, we'll get the take from the left and the right.

And later, will a comment about Hitler land a high-profile senator in hot water?


WOODRUFF: Moderate senators are working feverishly to avoid a stand-off over judicial nominees and the prospect of the Senate being even more dysfunctional.

Joining us now, Jack Valenti, former aide to President Lyndon Johnson. And in New York, long-time GOP strategist Ed Rollins. Jack Valenti, are you prepared to predict how this is going to turn out?

JACK VALENTI, FMR. AIDE TO PRES. JOHNSON: I think there will be a compromise in the end, because this is a melancholy moment in Senate history. And if this filibuster is exiled, I think it would be tragic. We have to understand, this would be the first time in the history of the Senate that unlimited speech would be prohibited. And that's -- it's for freedom of speech -- not freedom of speech, but unlimited speech that distinguishes the House and the Senate.

And here's the key. This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about majority and minority. And what we have to understand is that in politics, nothing lasts. Power passes. The majority today is the minority tomorrow and vice versa. And this is what de Tocqueville (ph) had in mind when he said, the tyranny had the majority, which is something the founding fathers understood when they built this country.

WOODRUFF: Given all that, Ed Rollins, what do you think's going to happen? ED ROLLINS, GOP STRATEGIST: Will, I think Bill Frist has put himself on the line for the president and he's going to do everything he can to get it altered or at least get a vote on these important appeals court judges. I agree with Jack, though. I mean, I think it will be extremely destructive if for some reason they change the rules and if there is not the opportunity to have filibusters. But I think at the same time, you've got to give opportunities for presidents to get their nominees voted up or down on a 51 or more vote, and that's not occurring today.

WOODRUFF: Right now, you've got the Senate virtually deadlocked over this. I mean, they're frozen in a way. They're not doing the other business that is before them. Jack Valenti, is the -- are the American people getting what they should be getting while this is going on?

VALENTI: I don't think so at all. I think this is an untimely and an unnecessary step. Keep in mind that in the past, the Republicans have blocked Democratic nominees and the Democrats have blocked Republican nominees. And there's blame enough to go around, but the Senate is so configured as the -- unlimited speech is what distinguishes it from the House. That's what the founding fathers had in mind when they constructed the Congress. It would be terribly wrong to make this filibuster an exile.

WOODRUFF: But if that's the case, Ed Rollins, why is Bill Frist and why are the other Republicans not embracing that principle?

ROLLINS: Well, I think two things have occurred. Since Jack and I have been around for a long, long time and we recognize and appreciate what's occurred in the past, a lot of these members are new members. A lot of these members don't have any history. A lot of these Republicans have never been in the minority. And a lot of them have come up through the House and not started as senators, so they don't give it quite the same respect that there's been there in the past.

I think we're at a very critical stage here and I do think if Bill Frist wins this, the president's side wins, I think there will be chaos the rest of the year. Saying all that, I still think they're going to make every effort to make that happen.

WOODRUFF: Is one side in greater jeopardy here than the other, Jack?

VALENTI: I think the minority is in jeopardy. But keep in mind what I said earlier. Power passes, and minority today will be the majority tomorrow. And what you reap so shall you sow. And so you reap -- and so forth. But the point is, though -- I think Ed is right -- there's a lack of institutional memory in the Senate today that didn't exist in large measure before. But from the inception of the Senate and the birth year of the republic, unlimited speech has been the core value in the Senate, and to decay it, to shrink it, I think would be a disaster.

WOODRUFF: Again, that's your view. But Ed, the president is saying he wants -- his judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, period.

ROLLINS: Well, I think at this point in time that the Senate and the Republicans who support the president feel this is an issue that they're willing to blow the place up on to get their way, and I think they look further down the road towards one or two Supreme Court judges that they don't want to have blocked by this process, and they're rolling the dice on it.

VALENTI: But keep in mind, with 60 votes, you have you cloture. So all you need is to pick off a few Democrats and you can do that.

ROLLINS: Unfortunately, Jack -- go ahead, I'm sorry.

VALENTI: Excuse me, Ed...

ROLLINS: Unfortunately, Jack -- go ahead, Jack.

VALENTI: What I was going to finish and say that I it's in doubt right now. There are a lot of conservative Republicans who have been in the Senate a long time, who are hesitant about this. There are a number of Democrats who don't want to see, as Ed so rightly called it, chaos in the Senate. So I think behind the scenes right now, this is going on, compromise

ROLLINS: I think you're absolutely right. There's another part that's going on. And that is there is a real partisanship. There aren't a few Democrats that will come over and support Republicans, and this critical thing about...

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. We apparently lost the audio. Our apologies to Ed Rollins and our thanks to Ed and our thanks to Jack Valenti. We appreciate it.

Well, they have been around the halls of Congress for decades. Now, can two senior lawmakers save the Senate from a meltdown? Coming up, we'll go live to Capitol Hill to find out.

Plus, we talk about it every day here on INSIDE POLITICS, but just what does the word filibuster mean? We'll go to school when we come back.


WOODRUFF: Here on the East Coast, it's just before 4:00, and as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hello, Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy, nice to see you. Stocks today mixed on Wall Street. We have the Dow Industrials down about 20 points. Still ahead, though, on the week, by more than 300 points. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, slightly higher on the day.

Well, the big story of the day here is U.S. Airways and America West. They've agreed to merge, and that will connect the airlines' routes along the East and West Coasts. It will also use the U.S. Airways name. It will keep that. It does mean big competition for Southwest, which is the sixth largest airline in the country.

United Airlines has avoided a strike -- well, at least for now. The airline was back in bankruptcy court today arguing for new cost- saving terms. The Machinists Union says it's objecting. It will strike if that happens. Now, the judge is giving both sides more time to talk. He won't issue a ruling until May 31st.

Star Wars, taking the box office records to a galaxy far, far away. During it's opening day in theaters, "Star Wars: Episode III" brought in, get, this $50 million. That beat the record previously held by Spider-Man 2.

Coming up on CNN, 6:00 Eastern, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," a few members of Congress are threatening to cut off funding are for the U.N. if it doesn't reform.


REP. HENRY HYDE, (R) ILLINOIS: ...opposition, but from repeated disappointment at the U.N.'s inability or refusal to live up to our high expectations.


PILGRIM: Also tonight, Congress is considering a bill to allow stem cell research, but the president threatens to veto it. We look inside that debate.

We're also joined by the president of the National Black Farmers Association to get his reaction to Mexican president Vicente Fox's comments that immigrants work jobs that American blacks won't.

And in tonight's special report, "Heroes," we find the story of First Sergeant Brad Kasal who risked his life shielding a fellow marine from a grenade. Interesting story. That tonight, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kitty, thanks very much. And we'll be watching. Right now, back to INSIDE POLITICS.

Welcome back here in Washington, the behind-the-scenes talks among senators continue in an effort to avert a looming showdown over the president's stalled judicial nominees. Democrat Robert Byrd and Republican John Warner drawing on their decades of experience are among those leading the effort at reaching a compromise.

On the Senate floor, however, our congressional correspondent Joe Johns reports the so-called nuclear option is moving closer to reality.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist giving a medical school commencement address in South Carolina did not mention a word about the battle over judges in Washington.

SEN. BILL FRIST, (R-TN) MAJORITY LEADER: Congratulations to the class of 2005.

JOHNS: Back in the Senate, the moment of the day came without much fanfare.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: Without objection on behalf of the majority leader, I send a cloture motion to the desk.

JOHNS: Senator John Cornyn of Texas filed a motion to cut off the debate on the nomination of Priscilla Owen from his own state, a formality that moves the Senate one step closer to a showdown early next week over the ability of Democrats to block nominees they oppose.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) Senate's tradition and its rules protect debate and guarantee that we can't be trampled upon.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON, (R) GEORGIA: To deny someone the opportunity to which they have been nominated by the president of the United States, elected by a majority of the electors in the last election, is not right.

JOHNS: Meanwhile, face-to-face negotiations to end the impasse were put on hold until Monday, though, talks were expected it continue over the weekend by phone. The idea was to get six Democrats and six Republicans to agree to allow certain judges through while others could continue to be blocked. But the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, who has sat in on the negotiations, says he doesn't want the decision to be made by a small group of senators.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R-PA) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I cannot subscribe to the idea that a group of 12, however they may ultimately be constituted, ought to make the decision on who is to be confirmed and who ought not to be confirmed. It is my view that ultimately that is really a decision for this body.


JOHNS: Now the stakes are so high, because all of this could set the stage for the next battle over Supreme Court nominees. Senators Robert Byrd and John Warner of Virginia have essentially revived a new idea, which they say could be a shield to the so-called nuclear option. In the future, they're suggesting that the Senate Judiciary Committee be allowed to set up a pool of candidates for the Supreme Court that the president of the United States could use or discard if he so chose.

And that way, they think, they would improved consultation between the Congress and the White House. And try to avoid a fight for the high court when that time comes. Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: And, Joe, any early reaction to that proposal?

JOHNS: Not a lot of reaction. Of course, it is an idea that has been kicked around up here before. A lot of people of course are very focused on the present matter. Of course that is, how do you deal with these appellate court judges that are being blocked before the Senate? So that is something that people have talked about before, but no real feeling as to whether that ought to be included in this round of negotiations, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Joe Johns, watching it all, thank you very much.

The filibuster debate has led to some tough talk on all sides. And the latest example has forced one senator to issue a clarification. Yesterday, Republican Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania made a reference to Adolph Hitler while criticizing his Democratic opponents.


SEN. RICK SANTORUM, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: The rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judge -- judges broken by the other side two years ago. And the audacity of some members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule, it's the equivalent of Adolph Hitler in 1942, saying I'm in Paris, how dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city.


WOODRUFF: Senator Santorum has since clarified his remarks in a statement, he said, he quote "meant to dramatize the principle of an argument, not to characterize my Democratic colleagues. Nevertheless, it was a mistake, and I meant no offense" end quote.

The rough language reflects the rough waters up on Capitol Hill, where the years have seen more than a few swashbuckling senators.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): They were called filibusteros, plundering bands of 19th century Spanish pirates. Modern-day American filibusteros are somewhat less ferocious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down and talk through this issue.

WOODRUFF: Instead of brandishing swords and sabers, senators can talk...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I recommend we continue discussions.

WOODRUFF: And talk...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not yield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I object to that!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not yield.

WOODRUFF: ...and talk issues to death. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a filibuster. This is a filibuster.

WOODRUFF: A weapon that may not be lethal, but sure can be fearsome. Senators in the minority use filibusters to kill bills, derail a president's nominees they find particularly offensive.

Here's how it works. Before legislation or nominations come up for a vote, senators are entitled to debate the merits. Those who know they're on the losing side, but aren't willing to give in, can just refuse to shut up.

You see, it takes 60 votes to end a Senate debate. It is called cloture, but cloture can be hard to come by. And sometimes surrender is the only option. So hardy filibusters can drag things out deep into the night and beyond.

Over the years, senators of both parties have jabbered on until dawn. Often, they don't even talk about what's being debated. They read from Shakespeare or the dictionary, anything to fill time. Back in the day, Louisiana's colorful Huey Long shared his recipe for fried oysters. Some senators even sing.


WOODRUFF: The most famous filibuster by one Mr. Smith only happened in Hollywood.

JIMMY STEWART, ACTOR: Somebody will listen to me.

WOODRUFF: The longest was by the late Strom Thurmond, who in 1957, filibustered the Civil Rights Act for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Distinguished senator from South Carolina is recognized.

WOODRUFF: Senators on the losing side of issues call the filibuster a tool of democracy, designed to protect the minority voice. Lawmakers on the winning side blast it all as obstructionism. It flip-flops back and forth over time.

So, historically, it's not really been about partisanship, just about who's playing pirate when.


WOODRUFF: Skull and crossbones. Well, moderate lawmakers are trying to avert a meltdown in the Senate. But is a probable vacancy at the Supreme Court holding up the negotiations? Next, Bob Novak will join us with his "Inside Buzz."

Plus, we just told you about Senator Santorum's Hitler comment. How is that story playing online? We'll go inside of the blogs to find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Bob Novak joins us now with some "Inside Buzz." So Bob, first of all, what you are hearing on the search on the compromise of the Senate fight over the filibusters?

BOB NOVAK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Judy, talking to members -- senators on both sides. I think they could agree on picking out a few people who would -- nominees who wouldn't make it, some who would make it for the appellate bench. Their problem is what's the next step? What do they do about the Supreme Court?

They can't come to an agreement then that would be satisfying, because the Republicans won't take some kind a deal where they're going to have another filibuster fight on the Supreme Court nominee. And if the Democrats agree to take anybody the president would want, what was this whole fight for in the first place?

WOODRUFF: Now John McCain has a special role in all of this. Tell us about this.

NOVAK: He kind of brokered one deal that looked on Wednesday like it was going to be an agreement with just having three people who wouldn't make it. And six senators on each side enough to do it.

The problem was that night, Senator McCain's think tank, The International Republican Institute was having a big dinner, and John McCain was introducing the speaker of the evening, President Bush. And people were very worried if they announce this deal, which Bush didn't like, would he just not even show up for the dinner? Well, it never came to pass because they couldn't quite bring the deal to fruition.

WOODRUFF: So it's gone away?


WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the presidential campaign in '08. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

NOVAK: Judy, it's the most incredible thing. Every Democrat I talk to say it is -- that she is so far ahead and she is so much the favorite that there's not even a close second from being president for '08. And the reason is, she's locked up all of the money. That is the fact of the game. This is a money business. And she has got a hammer lock on Democratic financing. Don't tell me she's not going to run.

WOODRUFF: All the money?

NOVAK: All the money.

WOODRUFF: All the money. There's none left?

NOVAK: Anybody running against her, I go to Mark Warner of Virginia, it's going to be a hard time financing them.

WOODRUFF: OK. Finally, and religion. NOVAK: of course is the anti-Bush organization. And they, on their Web site, decided that politics and religion do mix. Because they put out a picture of Pope Benedict XVI.

And here is the pope with a gavel in his hand. And the caption on it says "God already has a job. He does not need one on the Supreme Court." Well, it was only on the Web site for a few minutes. But my reporter Dave Fridosa (ph) spotted it. And gave it to me. So there was Pope Benedict on What a combination.

WOODRUFF: So none of these other political Web sites have used politically -- I mean religious imagery? Not so obvious is your point.

NOVAK: Not quite that obvious.

WOODRUFF: OK. All right. Bob Novak "Inside Buzz." Thank you very much.

NOVAK: Thank you very much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Have a good weekend. Appreciate it.

NOVAK: You too.

WOODRUFF: And be sure by the way to join Bob tomorrow when he mixes politics and cocktails with bartender Jim Hewes. Get in the "Novak Zone" tomorrow at 2:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up, the bloggers are finding plenty to talk about after a senator invokes Adolph Hitler to characterize the actions of Democratic opponents.


WOODRUFF: Republican Senator Rick Santorum's comments likening Democratic actions to Adolph Hitler are attracting a lot of attention from the bloggers today. Let's check in now with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Hi, Jacki.


There's a tenet in the online community that says the longer a discussion goes on, the greater the probability that somebody will eventually make a comparison to Hitler or to the Nazis.

Translate that to the real world and the discussion over judicial nominees and Rick Santorum yesterday on the floor of the Senate fell victim to Godwin's Law, that's what it's called.

Over at the, Gordon Smith posting. He is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin. He has Santorum falls victim to Godwin's Law. Also noting the corollary to that law, that whoever invokes the comparison to the Nazis automatically loses whatever argument was in progress. ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: There's a great roundup here at, look at the way that liberal bloggers are treating this subject. This is a site that tracks some of the key races in 2006. And you can scroll down here and just see how many of the liberal bloggers are looking at this story today. Then also linking to Senator Santorum's office at the bottom with all of the phone numbers, all the addresses there.

SCHECHNER: Interesting case study of how a blog swarm happens. And this is complicated, so stick with me on this one. But Atrius (ph) over at Eskatom (ph) posted about a half hour after Santorum made his speech. He then evoked what he called the MoveOn standard, talking about how the media had criticized MoveOn, a Democratic political action committee, when some ads were posted on its Web site a little while back that had a Bush Nazi comparison and the media had jumped on them, they say, for that.

Now what happened was Atrius (ph) then called up Blog Pack, which is now the lefty organization of blogs trying to coming to together to have some influence and said, let's talk about this. Let's make this front and center. And it then became an issue on a lot of the top lefty blogs.

TATTON: And quick to jump up on another point was Judd Over (ph) at Judd pointing out over that when Senator Byrd, Democratic senator, made some references of Hitler in March of this year, Santorum pounced on him. Saying that these comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. What a difference ten weeks makes. That was the point over at Think Progress.

More accusations of Republican hypocrisy over at (ph). This is Liberal John in New York City. He says, "I suppose it's blogger protocol to rehash all of the outrage Republicans express when they try to associate that amateur ad with the Democratic Party last summer."

He points to John Hideracher (ph) at Power Line Blog, which is a very popular conservative blog. And what he said in January of last year, "I personally would like to see a moratorium on all references to Hitler, the Third Reich, Nazism and the holocaust in the context of domestic political debate." This conservatist saying, "such a rule would probably have no perceptible effect on conservative discourse, but would it render the left virtually mute." This is the personal favorite of John at this liberal site.

He goes on to say, "I fully expect outrage at Santorum to be forthcoming from Power Line."

Was Power Line outraged over this story? Well, you can look that John over at Power Line was posting on this story last night -- but not on this story, posting about something else. The last post it was about Ms. Universe. He has updated, but not about Santorum. And I am surety liberal bloggers are going to be waiting for him to do that.

SCHECHNER: Well, she's much better looking than Santorum. But over at (ph), a neolibertarian blog. They say that any calls for hypocrisy on the left have to be countered with the fact that not a lot of people jumped on Byrd when he also did a similar thing not too long ago, saying that what Santorum did was step up to you stupid plate, he agrees. And it is revolting and he definitely says that it wasn't a good idea of what Santorum did, but everybody has to sort of weigh back and forth in terms of who is being a hypocrite and who isn't.

TATTON: Now, another story out there that's exacting a lot of different responses from the left and the right in the blogosphere is a "New York Times" report today investigation allegations of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan in 2002. Lots of different reactions on the left and right. But from a moderate here. This is Joe Gandleman (ph), a veteran journalist reporter at the He say when he had read this account, it brought a chill to this writer's spine.

SCHECHNER: Depending on how about read over on the right, they're blaming the media saying that in the wake of the "Newsweek" that incident this story today is giving cover to "Newsweek" and that the media is trying to undermine the troops by printing stories like this.

Over on the left, saying it's not in fact the media's fault. It's the people who are committing these sorts of atrocities.

Lots of stuff going on in the blogs today, Judy. And it is back and forth, left and right. A tremendous amount of schism, I guess you say, between the two.

WOODRUFF: Well, and we thank you for helping us keep track of it all. Abbi, Jacki, thank you. And have a good weekend. We'll see you Monday.

It is a place not known for exciting politics, until now. Up next, a wild week of debate and crossing party lines leads to the latest political play of the week.


WOODRUFF: Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been keeping a close eye on all of this week's events. And something outside the country has attracted his attention. He joins me now from Los Angeles.

Hi, Bill.


You know a political sensation in Canada. Is that an oxymoron? Nope. It's the political play of the week.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It's like a film noir: betrayal, dangerous liaisons in an exotic and alluring locational, Canada? The femme fatale, Belinda Stronach, heiress to an auto parts fortune. In 2003, "Fortune" magazine ranked Stronach the second most powerful woman in international business. She's also a good friend of Bill Clinton's, something that has not escaped the attention of the tabloids.

This week, Stronach made a move that stocked the normally staid world of Canadian politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both from the blue.

SCHNEIDER: Canada's government, headed by Liberal Party Prime Minister Paul Martin, is immersed in scandal. This week he faced a showdown vote in parliament aimed at bringing his government down. It was excruciatingly close. Then on Tuesday, Stronach, a conservative member of parliament, made her move.

PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: I am very pleased to announce that Ms. Stronach will cross the floor, and has agreed to joint the cabinet.

SCHNEIDER: Stronach switched parties. It would be like Tom DeLay becoming a Democrat. There was a complicating factor, her relationship with the deputy leader of the Conservative Party.

MARGARET WENTE, THE GLOBE AND MAIL: That the center of this drama is a very, very personal matter, which is her relationship for Peter MacKay. And she dumped him. She dumped the party and she dumped him simultaneously.

SCHNEIDER: MacKay was surprised by her move.

PETER MACKAY, CONSERVATIVE PARTY: But I didn't see this coming.

SCHNEIDER: And devastated.

Stronach drew harsh criticism.

BOB RUNCIMAN, FORMER CABINET MINISTER: She sort of defined herself as something of a dipstick, an attractive one, but still a dipstick.

TONY ABBOTT, CONSERVATIVE MLA: A little rich girl who is basically whoring herself out to the liberals.

SCHNEIDER: Talk about going over the line.

BELINDA STRONACH, SWITCH TO LIBERAL PARTY: Being called a whore, being called a dipstick is quite different than being told that one has fashionable shoes.


SCHNEIDER: What about the government? Did the government survive? yes, it did, by one vote. And that's why we're saying that Ms. Stronach gets the political play of the week -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wow. So, Bill, no one saw this coming? SCHNEIDER: No one saw it coming. It was a big secret. She had dinner with Paul Martin, the Canadian prime minister, last weekend. She did not tell her boyfriend, the deputy leader of the Conservative Party until she had made her decision. She made her move on Tuesday, and the government survived by one vote on Thursday.

WOODRUFF: And bottom line, what was her reason for switching?

SCHNEIDER: She said she gave two reasons. One is she said, she didn't agree with the policies of her party. They were too right wing for her. And second of all, her party had made an alliance with Quebec separatists in order to bring the government down. And she said that was a dangerous alliance. She didn't want to be part of it.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider on top of politics, not just American -- U.S., but politics Canadian. Bill, thanks very much.


WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Friday. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.



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