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Inside Politics

Bush Moving Quickly to Find New Nominee for Labor Secretary; Congress Begins Hearing on Bush Cabinet Appointees

Aired January 10, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: After Linda Chavez threw the Bush camp for a loop, the president-elect is back inside the Beltway, looking for a labor secretary. Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We're very impressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am delighted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He understands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: I'm really impressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD PAIGE, EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: ... my simple goal in...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: One Cabinet confirmation hearing gets downright warm and fuzzy.

SHAW: Plus, a welcome distraction from the transition; panda- monium.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Here in Washington today, George W. Bush has been preparing for his role as commander in chief, but at times, he may have felt more like a political firefighter. Even as he and his national security team were meeting with the top brass at the Pentagon, the president- elect faced the continuing heat over his choice of John Ashcroft for attorney general, as well as the ashes of the Linda Chavez nomination. On this day after Chavez bowed out, Bush apparently is moving quickly to find a labor secretary.

We begin with that story and CNN's Eileen O'Connor -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Republican sources close to the transition team confirm that Eloise Anderson is certainly at the top of the list, and a person at the institute -- the Claremont Institute in Sacramento -- says she's on her way to Washington to meeting -- to a meeting with Bush transition official.

Now, Eloise Anderson is a person who works at the Claremont Institute. She's the director of the Program for the American Family. She is a staunch Republican. She was a former Californian and Wisconsin social services director. She also is on the National Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators and she was in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1972-77. An African-American, she also fulfills George W. Bush's pledge to make this a very diverse Cabinet.

Now, officials say they are moving forward. Bush transition team won't confirm that they're having a meeting today and won't say when they're going to make an announcement on the labor secretary. They are still considering other candidates.

And also, one of the things interestingly they weren't doing today, Judy, was actually confirming the allegation that Linda Chavez made that her downfall was due to the politics of personal destruction. They stayed away from that, indicating their belief that it was Linda Chavez who brought about her own downfall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Linda is smart and capable.

O'CONNOR (voice-over): When George W. Bush announced Linda Chavez as his pick for labor secretary, he talked about the quality he prizes most in those he chooses to serve -- honesty.

BUSH: I fully expect to be given a straightforward talk, honest opinion, and I expect people to work for one thing in mind, that which is best for America.

O'CONNOR: Sources within the Bush team say the lack of candor Chavez showed over the housing and help she gave to an illegal immigrant, to Bush, was an act of disloyalty. To those who have observed Bush as governor, that is an unforgivable sin.

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": When Linda Chavez seemed to breech the sense of loyalty by not being completely forthright, any loyalty that the governor felt he had to his appointee, based on the people I talked to, evaporated.

O'CONNOR: The speed at which the decision was made to put pressure on Chavez to withdraw some observers say sends a strong message.

MICHAEL FRANC, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It tells anyone working around Governor Bush -- President-Elect Bush that they have to be forthcoming; they have to give him all the options on the table; that he doesn't want to be blindsided in any way, shape or form; and if he is, there will be consequences.

O'CONNOR: Aides say that doesn't mean Bush isn't willing to spend political capital when it's needed. On policy or ideological grounds, they say, he is willing to go to the mat for his Cabinet picks, even the most controversial.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: He's prepared to stand behind each and every one of his nominees all the way through.

O'CONNOR: Observers say yet again, it's about loyalty.

FRANC: If it is a campaign of intimidation and rhetoric on their policy views, he'll stand by them until the last minute. He is going to be a loyal executive in that sense, I think.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'CONNOR: Others say it also shows George W. Bush knows what he wants. He makes decisions quickly and he sticks to them. Others also say that it shows an uncompromising personality, and also that this is a man who likes to cut his losses quickly -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Eileen, what are they saying about the other nominees of theirs that are raising a great deal of opposition, John Ashcroft, Gale Norton?

O'CONNOR: Well, they're saying that, look, if this is a debate strictly on ideology, this is a debate we will happily engage in, and they said that was what the election was about, and this was an election that we won. So, they are willing to go to the mat. And they do believe, Judy, that unless, as one Republican strategist told me, unless there is some personal issue that comes out, traditionally, these kinds of nominations, be they controversial or not, the president will get them through -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Eileen O'Connor at the White House. Thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Now to the controversy surrounding Bush's choice for attorney general, John Ashcroft of Missouri. Later today, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California is expected to announce her intention to oppose Ashcroft's nomination when and if it reaches the full Senate. Ashcroft was on the Hill today, reaching out to his former Senate colleagues, as CNN's Bob Franken reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As John Ashcroft methodically worked the Hill trying to shore up his support and deal with the new dynamic in the wake of the hasty Linda Chavez exit, he was doing his dead-level best to avoid any added controversy.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Glad to see you. Happy New Year.

FRANKEN: For the broad coalition of opponents who had been taking on three controversial Bush appointments, it was now one down, two to go. But their number one target was definitely John Ashcroft.

RALPH NEAS, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Different organizations, of course, oppose different nominations, but all those organizations opposed the Ashcroft nomination. So, it does provide more time and more energy to focus on the Ashcroft nomination. So, that is a plus with respect to the coalition that is opposing Ashcroft.

FRANKEN: The Bush side said that the opposition considered the Chavez fight as merely a preliminary event.

FLEISCHER: Somebody said that this is spring training -- the fight against Linda Chavez was spring training so they can carry on the fight during what I presume they think is the real season on other candidates.

FRANKEN: Ashcroft is lobbying senators from both parties. He visited Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, whose spokesman said he stands by his promise to vote for the nomination. He's also trying to make sure that none of his fellow Republicans defect. He's planning a meeting Friday with Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, who revels in his role as a GOP maverick.

His supporters are sharpening their argument that Ashcroft's personal views are not an impediment to being an effective attorney general.

SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (R), VERMONT: I have faith that he understands his role is to just to enforce. It's not to try and expand or create the law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: And as for the expected Boxer announcement, Barbara Boxer, Democratic liberal, one Bush spokesman said this leads me to the conclusion that some senators do not want to give Senator Ashcroft a full and fair hearing -- Bernie.

SHAW: Bob, from you on the Hill, let's bring in CNN's Major Garrett in Austin, Texas to tell us what you're hearing about the Ashcroft nomination and the Bush camp strategy?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, the overall strategy is to first of all, as Bob said, nail down all Republican support, and they believe they have nailed down every Republican senator. The only one outstanding, Senator Arlen Specter, they expect to bring him into the fold on Friday. That would give them a solid core of 50 votes.

They also believe there is upwards of 20 Senate Democrats that they can win over when it all is said and done, and as Bob pointed out, they are already sharpening their arguments for any preemptive announcements from any Democratic senator that they're going to oppose him before these hearings even start. There are actually some Bush officials who are actually glad that Boxer will come out early because then they can underscore the point, you see, there's not even a fair process here. Question one hasn't even been asked and already some people are going to oppose John Ashcroft.

They believe that will underscore one of the central arguments that this is not about confirming a good attorney general, but about a political dog fight -- one they have every intention of winning -- Bernie.

SHAW: Major, how will they handle the Judge Ronnie White aspect?

GARRETT: Well, this has been given very close scrutiny by the Bush transition officials. Let's set the table a little bit. Ronnie White is a member of the Missouri Supreme Court; an African-American. President Clinton nominated him for seat on the federal bench.

John Ashcroft, as well as other senators, but John Ashcroft specifically and very importantly led the fight to make sure he would not be elevated to that federal bench. The reason, he said, was because of Judge White's decisions on a couple of key death penalty cases in the state of Missouri which he found very soft and outrageous in some respects.

What the Bush team has decided to do if in fact Ronnie White testifies that Senator Ashcroft's confirmation is to have in the wing crime victims who will testify on John Ashcroft's behalf that he stood up for them in opposing Ronnie White because they will say he was too soft on crime. They were the real victims of those crimes.

They believe that Ronnie White, because of his positions on these key death penalty cases, should never have been elevated to a federal bench. They will sing the praises of John Ashcroft and in the words of one senior Bush transition official, we'll be very happy to have a nationally televised debate on law and order if they want to bring the Ronnie White case up -- Bernie.

SHAW: And quickly, Bob Franken, back to you on the point that Major Garrett just -- just laid out. How are Senate liberals going to handle this? How are the Teddy Kennedys on that Judiciary Committee going to handle this?

FRANKEN: Well, they are hoping that Judge Ronnie White, who was the first African-American on the Missouri Supreme Court, will in fact raise the issue that civil rights groups are raising; not that John Ashcroft is a racist, but that they charge he played racial politics in his unsuccessful effort to get elected, and that, in fact, that is below the line; that, in fact, that ought to make him disqualified singularly to be attorney general.

And as Major pointed out, there are plans if necessary by the Republicans to bring in crime victims. One thing we should point out: Next week's hearings are going to be led by the Democrats. We have this brief aberration where the Democrats are in charge and Senator Patrick Leahy is going to be leading this -- these hearings, and, of course, the Republicans saying they would like for that to be it before there's a vote on the Ashcroft nomination.

However, the Republicans take over after January 20th, inauguration, they could hold own hearings if they need to reinforce John Ashcroft.

SHAW: Two reports from two capitals: Bob Franken, U.S. Capitol here and Major Garrett in the capital of Texas, Austin. Gentlemen, thank you --Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk more about the Ashcroft nomination with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the assistant Democratic leader of the Senate; and Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona who serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Senator Reid, to you first. Why isn't the president-elect entitled to choose candidates for his Cabinet, even if they have very strong views, such as Senator Ashcroft?

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY WHIP: Of course he is, and he has. I think the important thing in this nomination with Senator Ashcroft is to make sure we have a hearing that's open; it's fair; all the questions have been raised and will be raised, are gone into in great depth.

We want to make sure that this chief law enforcement officer, and that's really what he will be if he is confirmed, is somebody that's going to be fair; who even though he may not believe in certain aspects of the law that are in existence today, that he will enforce those laws, and we want to make sure, of course, that there is nothing in his personal background that would cause us to vote against him.

And I would hope that the hearing that will be held or probably hearings because it'll take longer than one day more than likely, is something that will be listened to by Democrats and by Republicans. I think it's very important that people keep an open mind.

At this stage, as far as I'm concerned, I'm a juror and I'm going to go into this with an open mind trying to do what is the right thing for the country.

WOODRUFF: Senator Kyl, is there any doubt in your mind that Senator Ashcroft will be able to persuade members of the Senate, the Judiciary Committee and then the entire Senate that he can enforce the laws as attorney general, even if he disagrees strongly with some of them?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I don't think there's any doubt that he'll be able to persuade us of that fact. He is a man of great integrity and when he places his hand on the Bible and swears that he'll uphold the law as attorney general, you can take that one to the bank.

I think that Senator Reid has properly described the test here. A president is given great deference in the nominations for his political appointees, the four-year Cabinet positions, and the Senate then has ordinarily, where those people are well-qualified and people of integrity; when they've been committed to doing their job properly, have confirmed those people even though they may have disagreed with them on certain ideological grounds.

Certainly, we Republicans have disagreed with many of the Clinton Cabinet -- the pro-choice position of the attorney general, for example, Attorney General Reno. But that didn't prevent us from confirming those people to serve the president who nominated them.

WOODRUFF: Senator Reid, what do you say to those around the president-elect who are saying if the Democrats really make a big deal out of Ronnie White, in so many words, they're prepared to turn next week's hearings into a televised debate -- a nationally televised debate on law and order bringing in these crime victims and so forth?

REID: Judy, I think these hearings are going to center around more than Ronnie White, even though I disagreed terribly with what happened to Ronnie White. It is going to be more than that. We have a number of groups around the country who have written to all of our offices who are opposed at this stage to the nomination of Senator Ashcroft.

We've got many groups who are interested in the environment; we have people interested in rights for women; we have labor groups; I mean, you can go on and on with the list of people who are going to oppose this nomination, and they've sent us this information.

Now, I recognize, as I've said before, that simple ideology perhaps is not enough. But the fact of the matter is Governor Bush -- President-Elect Bush, did not receive a mandate to just charge through here with anybody he wanted. I give him wide latitude as to who he can choose and who he shouldn't choose. He has a right as president- elect to do what he feels is appropriate.

But I would think that we have an obligation to listen in very detail, every detail to the problems that all these special interest groups have. Also, I think, we have an obligation to go into the fact that Senator Ashcroft spoke at Bob Jones University, has on a Christmas card the number one event for that year was the fact he was able to visit Bob Jones University and speak there. These are things that are more than simple ideology, and I think we need to go into them. And I think we should go into them, Judy, with an open mind. WOODRUFF: And Senator Kyl, does that trouble you in any way that they do plan to bring up the Bob Jones University appearance, and in Senator Reid's words that George W. Bush didn't have a mandate to charge through with whatever he wants?

KYL: First of all, Bob Jones University is not exactly a Nazi cell group or something. John Ashcroft has made it clear that he had no idea that they even had a racial dating policy at Bob Jones University. That's all come out just in this last presidential election. He didn't know about that when he went down there.

But I think the point here is that President Bush has nominated probably the most qualified candidate for attorney general at least in the last century, perhaps in recent memory. A person who was a law teacher; a graduate of one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, the University of Chicago; Yale undergraduate; attorney general of his state for eight years; governor, executive experience, for over eight years with 50,000 employees in Missouri; and then experience in the U.S. Senate here.

Tremendously experienced, and nothing in the enforcement of the law when he was attorney general of Missouri that would suggest that he would not enforce all laws fairly, even those with which he might have some disagreement.

WOODRUFF: But -- and given all that, Senator Reid, are you comfortable with someone as attorney general who is drawing opposition from as many groups as -- such as the ones you just listed just a moment ago?

REID: Judy, I think we have to listen to what's going to come out in the hearings. Now, for example, Bob Jones University may not be, as my friend Jon Kyl indicated, a Nazi cell group. But we know that they have a committed written policy that they oppose Catholics. They are opposed to Mormons. They consider both to be kind of cults, and I don't know whether this disqualifies him, but I think it's something we need to look into. We can't -- we can't just wash over this.

John Ashcroft, I served with in the Senate for six years. He treated me very fairly. I think the way he handled the loss in Missouri was very good. But having said that, I think this hearing is going to be very, very illustrative of what he would do as attorney general. And I say to my Republican friends, keep an open mind. We're directing all this toward the Democrats. Let's have the Republicans also keep an open mind.

WOODRUFF: All right, gentlemen, we are going to have to leave it there. Senator Kyl, Senator Reid, thank you both for being with us, and we hope to see you both again soon -- Bernie.

SHAW: Bush education secretary nominee Rod Paige appeared before a Senate committee today, and the confirmation hearing offered quite a contrast to the arguments over John Ashcroft and Linda Chavez.

CNN's Jonathan Karl explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Rod Paige, it looked more like a bipartisan lovefest than a confirmation hearing, although Senator Ted Kennedy tried to pin him down on one hot-button issue.

KENNEDY: Do you feel that the taxpayer dollars should be spent on improving public schools or will you make private school vouchers a priority?

PAIGE: Well, not a priority, senator. Allow me to comment on this, because there's been much discussion about...-

(CROSSTALK)

KENNEDY: I'll take your first answer.

KARL: During his campaign, George W. Bush proposed giving low- income students in failing schools public funds to attend private school. The Bush team says it is not abandoning this idea, pointing out it is not a full-fledged national voucher program.

FLEISCHER: The president's proposal is for those schools that have failed for three years in a row; schools that receive Title I funding that failed for three years in a row that we would provide parents with alternative choices.

KARL: Democrats like Kennedy have opposed any voucher program, limited or not. Paige implored the senators to have an open mind when it comes to education reform.

PAIGE: And it is not where -- I'm not coming to this body with any particular entrenchment as far as ideology is concerned. What I like to find out is what works. Show me the results, and I'd have some interest in trying it.

KARL: Throughout the four-hour hearing, Democrats, including liberal Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who joined Paige at the witness table, couldn't say enough good things about Bush's choice.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I am proud to endorse Dr. Paige to be secretary of education in the nonpartisan and bipartisan manner in which I believe he was nominated.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Conservatives are also praisingly the Paige nomination and by and large not expressing concern about his statement that vouchers would not be a priority. That's because these conservatives say that vouchers is an option that is best pursued at the local, not national, level -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, we know there are a lot of nominees on the Senate calendar. What about the confirmation votes? KARL: Well, Trent Lott spoke to reporters off camera today and said that he plans very speedy action once the new administration is sworn in, the new president is sworn in. In fact, he's saying on the day of the inauguration, January 20th, we should see three votes in the Senate on nominations: nominations for State, Defense, and Treasury.

SHAW: The Bush tax cut gaining steam in the Senate?

KARL: Well, a very interesting development, there. That same conversation that Lott had with reporters, was asked about the tax cut, and he said it would be a very early initiative here on the Senate side. In fact, he endorsed an idea floated by Republican Dick Armey in the House yesterday for having the tax cut be retroactive to January 1st of this year.

He also said that in addition to Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut, the Senate should move forward with a capital gains tax cut. Both those steps would make the tax cut significantly more costly than what Bush has proposed, and what you see here, Bernie, is you see the kind of, you know, beginning stages of a major showdown between the Democrats and the Republicans here on Capitol Hill because already Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader here in the Senate, has said that the tax cut package should be closer to something like $700 billion and he also said that they should be targeted tax cuts, not the kind of tax cuts that Lott and Armey and, in fact, Bush are talking about -- tax cuts in terms of the rates of -- cuts in income tax rates and Lott's discussion of capital gains tax.

So, you're seeing here the beginnings of what could be the first major partisan showdown here in the Capitol once the new administration is sworn in.

SHAW: And also, outside the Capitol, some economists around the nation are beginning to wonder whether or not a tax cut might not be a bad idea?

KARL: Well, in fact, Bernie, that's exactly what Lott and Armey are saying. They're saying the reason why we need to move forward quickly is because of the economic slowdown. They're saying that these tax cuts need to be implemented immediately and made retroactive and, in fact, we shouldn't mess around with these targeted tax cuts which may be more politically appealing, but we should move forward with tax cuts that would stimulate the economy, and that's basically the argument the Republicans will move forward very quickly here on Capitol Hill.

SHAW: Jonathan Karl on the Hill, thank you.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a profile of that man President-Elect Bush wants to lead his fight for better schools.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President George W. Bush has named education as his top priority once he steps into the Oval Office. The man Bush wants to lead that charge, as we've been hearing, is Rod Paige, who already has built a reputation for getting things done.

CNN national correspondent Tony Clark has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Rod Paige, President-elect Bush found a kindred spirit who believes education should be controlled at the local level.

HUGH HAYES, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY: I would -- would look for him to try to eliminate a lot of the red tape in the federal education program and give more flexibility to states and local districts.

CLARK: That's the approach he's taken in Houston, the nation's seventh largest school district, where minority students are in the majority. As an architect of the 1990 Houston School District's "Declaration of Beliefs and Visions," Paige called for giving decision-making authority to school principals, then mandated that they attend a 10-day management class to help them make decisions.

PAIGE: I'm setting the skills that you have to have in order to get into this profession.

CLARK: Paige set student achievement standards, stopped social promotions, and ended most student exemptions from state-mandated tests.

PAIGE: I don't buy the idea that just because these kids are from low-income or in poverty situations that they can't learn. They can learn, and we accept the responsibility for them learning.

CLARK: Principals and their schools are evaluated each year on how well they educate their students. Students attending a school rated as low-performing are allowed to transfer another school of their choice in a version of a voucher program created under Paige. The result: During the last five years, the number of students passing the state achievement test in Paige's district has risen 36 percent.

HAYES: What Dr. Paige is looking for is what works.

CLARK: Critics argue that test scores may be rising because teachers are teaching the test. Texas educators counter they're teaching the test objectives.

HAYES: If the objectives represent the curriculum and this is what children ought to learn, then certainly that's what we ought to be teaching.

CLARK: While Paige has been a strong supporter of Mr. Bush, he has also been a critic; a year and a half ago, telling Congress that school facilities were deteriorating and the state had done little to help rebuild them.

(on camera): At the time, Paige urged Congress to make a massive federal investment in school facilities. If confirmed by the Senate, he might be able to convince lawmakers to do it. Tony Clark, CNN, Austin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: There is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise up all the struggles on the January 20th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Greeting the next president with protests; a look at preparations for the Bush inaugural.

Plus: looking for a legislative solution to California's power woes. Is state intervention on the horizon?

And later, Washington's newest power couple, and their political significance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.

Sources tell CNN that approval for the AOL-Time Warner merger could come at any time. America's Online's instant-messaging system seems to have held up the decision. Some are concerned that the Internet giant might put a lock on the technology. Two federal regulators have reportedly already given the merger proposal the thumbs-up. An announcement is expected today or tomorrow.

SHAW: Some concerns are being raised over American Airlines' plan to buy most of the assets from bankrupt TWA. This proposed deal could give American a quarter of the United States airline market. In a similar deal, United Airlines is waiting approval of its plan to merge with US Airlines. Consumer groups claim it all means less competition, less customer service and higher prices.

WOODRUFF: In Nevada County, California, schools and government buildings are locked this afternoon as police search for a suspect in a multiple shooting. Authorities say the unidentified suspect entered a social services building and shot three people just before noon Pacific Time. He then went to a restaurant and shot at least two others, killing one. A local television station reports the gunman escaped in an Aerostar van. There is no word this hour on the condition of the wounded or of a possible motive.

Prosecutors in California say tests on the remains of patients allegedly killed by a former hospital worker show the presence of a drug that can stop normal breathing. Los Angeles authorities say five of the six victims did not receive the drug Pavulon as part of the their legitimate treatment at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Efren Saldivar, who has been dubbed the "Angel of Death," was arrested yesterday and charged with murdering the six patients. He was a former respirator therapist at the hospital.

SHAW: Attorneys for plaintiffs say New York City will pay millions of dollars to settle a suit by thousands of people who were illegally strip-searched. The city says it is not a done deal.

More from New York and CNN's Maria Hinojosa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The anguish of the plaintiffs was palpable even up to four years later. Vivian Williams said it was still difficult to talk about what happened to her when she was arrested for selling shoes on the street without a license. An administrative assistant with no record, she expected to be sent home with a ticket. Instead, corrections officers ordered her to strip.

VIVIAN WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF: I had two officers facing me and telling me to take off of my clothes. I did what they asked. And not only was it -- it was bad enough I was told to strip, but my -- I was told to lift up my breasts, to turn, to lift up legs, show my private parts. It was extremely demeaning.

HINOJOSA: Crowded into a tiny lawyers' conference room, the plaintiffs recounted experiences they call traumatic and unforgettable.

CARLOS MORALES, PLAINTIFF: I was strip-searched against a wall in front of everyone. All of the inmates were watching me. They took my shoes, my clothing. They threw it very far away.

HINOJOSA: But Mayor Giuliani and his police commissioner, Bernard Kerik, defended the policy of strip-searching, saying it was a security measure that helped reduce violence in holding pens.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: If people are not searched effectively, and they're all being held for arraignment, and one person pulls out a razor blade and starts killing people, then you will find out that there is another side to this.

HINOJOSA: Strip-searching people arrested for minor offenses was barred in 1986 by a federal appellate court. The mayor said his police officers knew that when they arrested people. But jail guards who took those people to holding cells didn't. And they continued strip-searching anyone for 10 months in 1996 and '97.

BERNARD KERIK, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: As far as the Correction Department goes, when the Correction Department assumed the responsibilities, they used the same policies that we had in the jails. In any jail in this city, any holding facility -- any holding pen, going into one of the facilities, you are strip-searched before you go into the facility. And it's done so for a number of different reasons, but primarily for the safety of the people that's going into the system. HINOJOSA: Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They thought the election was over, the Republicans did. By the time it was over, our candidate had won the popular vote. And the only way they could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida.

FLEISCHER: There is another tradition in this country of presidents leaving office with respect for their successors. And I'm certain that President Clinton will want to follow that. That tradition extends in two directions. And I am not going to characterize what the president said beyond that. We have respect for President Clinton. And I'm not going to characterize his statements beyond that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: If the remarks President Clinton made last night about the outcome of election 2000 ruffled feathers at the Bush headquarters, spokesman Ari Fleischer is keeping it under wraps. Today, Mr. Clinton made another reference to the Florida vote during a fund-raiser in the nation's capital. Pointing to the close election of Senator Maria Cantwell, the president called Washington state's system unusual, saying -- quote -- "They actually count all the votes" -- Bernie.

SHAW: In an attempt to prevent the problems with Florida's election, a coalition of groups, including the NAACP and the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit today. The suit claims large numbers of African-American and Haitian-American voters were illegally deprived of their right to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN SHAPIRO, ACLU LEGAL DIRECTOR: There was a national embarrassment that may have this one redeeming virtue. It's simply no longer possible for the nation to ignore the deep, disturbing and racially discriminatory flaws and abuses in the electoral system that have now been revealed to all of us in excruciating detail in Florida and elsewhere around the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: The suit calls for the elimination of punch-card ballots, an overhaul of the state's voter-registration record-keeping system and election monitoring in Florida for the next 10 years.

WOODRUFF: Anger over election 2000 may also be apparent at the inaugural festivities on January 20. Protesters are already organizing to make sure that their views are seen and heard when George W. Bush takes office.

CNN's Kate Snow reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALIK SHABAZZ, PROTEST ORGANIZER: Take a few down for your shop, man.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out in front of Ben's Chili Bowl, Malik Shabazz is spreading the word.

SHABAZZ: Bush, it's going to be a rough ride on January 20.

SNOW: Shabazz is organizing to protest what he calls a fraudulent election. He says they'll be peaceful, but not quiet.

SHABAZZ: We would like him to see, though -- George Bush -- to see many angry black people, and to see angry people everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise up all of the struggles onto January 20.

SNOW: In New York City, a different group representing a variety of causes plans to bus in protesters from 40 cities.

BRIAN BECKER, PROTEST ORGANIZER: There will be thousands and thousands of people who say no to the death penalty and no to Bush's right-wing extremist policies.

SNOW: At least five large protests are planned to coincide with Bush's inaugural parade, up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. One groups has permits to hold events at two points on the route and one park just north. Other groups plan to gather at points along Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of the Supreme Court.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Every vote counts!

SNOW: Reverend Al Sharpton is organizing a "shadow inauguration," where civil-rights activists will take an oath to uphold the Voter Rights Act.

(on camera): Along the parade route, demonstrators won't be able to cluster in large numbers. Bleachers like these line Pennsylvania Avenue. To sit here, you need a ticket provided by the Bush Inaugural Committee.

(voice-over): Organizers of the protests say they will find a way to be heard -- peacefully. Many of them were involved in last spring's demonstrations against the World Bank. This time, they have no intention of being arrested.

ADAM EIDINGER, PROTEST ORGANIZER: There will not be acts of civil disobedience. There will not be, as we call, direct action.

SNOW: And police are determined to keep the crowds under control. CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, METROPOLITAN POLICE: We'll be as gentle or as forceful as need to be. They have a right to protest. We respect their right to the protest. We have every intention of allowing them to do that, as long as it doesn't interfere with the parade itself.

SNOW: Anything that could be used as a weapon probably won't be allowed inside the Secret Service perimeter. But cardboard signs should be OK. Protesters say there will be plenty for the new president to read as he goes by.

Kate Snow, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Now, given the security concerns surrounding the inauguration, the Secret Service is making preparations.

Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena joins us now with more on that -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, the Secret Service is the lead agency for operations and security planning for the inauguration. Now, because the inaugural has been designated a national security special event, the agency is not only responsible for the protection of the president and other VIPs, but the general public as well. Agents are preparing for every conceivable situation.

Now, one practice exercise involved a simulated shoulder-launched rocket aimed at the president's motorcade. Now, I had an opportunity to visit the training center during that exercise. And here is a bit of what I saw.

Now, while it looked impressive from where I was sitting, the head of training for the Secret Service was not completely satisfied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY COCKELL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF TRAINING: I am a tough grader. And today in the training exercise that you just witnessed, I would probably give about an 80 percent. And we like to push that up around 100 every time because that's what we expect from our agents: 100 percent. We expect that, when they are tested in this manner, that we get the optimal response and that we're successful in our response to any threat that we might face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARENA: While the Secret Service is in charge of security, the FBI heads up the intelligence effort and is preparing for crisis management, if necessary. Other agencies that will also be part of the effort include the ATF and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not to mention various police forces. Now, while all are on high alert, I think it's important to note that this is very much business as usual for an event such as this -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, the only question is: Generally, is the Secret Service uptight about January 20?

ARENA: I don't think so, Bernie. I think the reason we were allowed to witness what we were witnessing today is that there is very -- there is a lot of credence given to the theory of the big dog in the front yard. All of these law-enforcement agencies want the public to know that they have a lot of manpower on those streets. They are prepared. They are coordinating. They have the technology and the people standing by to deal with just about anything.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Kelli Arena.

And coming up: how lawmakers in California are hoping to end their power crisis before it turns into a political crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We turn now to California, where a power crisis has politicians scrambling for a return to normalcy. For Democratic Governor Gray Davis and state lawmakers, their political lives may literally depend on whether they succeed.

CNN's Don Knapp has more on the crisis in the Sunshine State.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON KNAPP, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With California's power grid near the breaking point, utilities facing bankruptcy and energy prices skyrocketing, the state legislature is in emergency session, trying to bring the crisis under control even if it means setting up state-owned and operated power plants.

PHILLIP ANGELIDES, CALIFORNIA TREASURER: So, in a sense, this power authority allows us to take control of our own energy destiny by producing and controlling enough of our own energy that we're never again victimized by a private market out of control.

KNAPP: Legislation is expected as soon as next week to put the state in the power-generation business. But it will take time to bring new plants online.

STATE SEN. DEBRA BOWEN, CALIFORNIA: We'll do the fastest things first. It's easier to screw in a light bulb than it is to build a new power plant. So we'll do the conservation things starting right away.

KNAPP: State Senator Debra Bowen says conservation, including more efficient light bulbs and appliances, can quickly trim as much as 10 percent of the state's peak energy use. The Energy Committee chairwoman says there's no silver-bullet fix.

BOWEN: We're focused on things that will do one of three things: put more electrons into the system, more electricity; reduce the demand by conservation and energy efficiency; and make the transmission, distribution, billing and generating system more efficient.

KNAPP: California Governor Gray Davis and a group of state legislators met in Washington with U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and energy suppliers.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: We made progress, particularly on the important issue of long-term contracting to bring down the rates, ensure reliable power.

KNAPP: How did California get here? Deregulation four years ago required utilities to sell off most of their electric generating plants. But when demand increased, they were forced to pay sky-high prices for power on the spot market. And a rate freeze kept them from passing those costs onto customers.

STATE REP. DARRYL STEINBERG, CALIFORNIA: We know that the utilities have incurred a great deal of debt over the last few months because of these out-of-sight wholesale prices. Yet, at the same time, if you go back to 1996 and the beginning of this deregulation process, they gained billions of dollars.

KNAPP (on camera): The energy crisis is issue number one here at the state capital. And at the top of the list of questions legislators are asking is: What happened with deregulation, and where did the money go?

Don Knapp, CNN, Sacramento, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: The Golden State.

Up next, the long history of the giant pandas and the nation's capital: Bruce Morton on the living symbols of diplomacy then and now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: For today, at least, Washington turned its attention from the incoming president to two Washington newcomers. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the capital's new pair of giant pandas, made their Washington debut today to the delight of more than 3,000 National Zoo visitors.

Our Bruce Morton considers the animals and their place in political and international history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Mei Xiang. Wow, this is exciting.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She means, of course, the public unveiling of the National Zoo's new pair of pandas: Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. They are gangbusters cute. Pandas are. Big crowds want to see them. They are on a 10-year loan. The U.S. is paying China $10 million. And the zoo will probably make more than that on souvenirs.

Still, it's not like last time; 1972, after a U.S. ping-pong team broke the ice, after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon went to China, the first American president since the communists came to power after World War II, met Mao Tse-Tung and Chou En-Lai, saw the Great Wall, and, Nixon intoned: "It is a great wall" -- saw pandas.

And then Chou En-Lai gave the U.S. two of the rare animals, a symbol of the new relationship between the countries and all that. President Nixon decided Washington's National Zoo should have them. These old black-and-white photos show Mrs. Nixon visiting them. Throngs visited, in fact, until the last of the pair was euthanized in 1999. And now a new pair: President Clinton has visited them, the fifth president since Nixon and that long-ago exchange.

And now George Bush is about to become the sixth. He sees the Chinese as strategic competitors instead of strategic partners. But that won't make much difference to the pandas. Bamboo by any other name would taste as sweet. Other things have changed. Pandas are breeding more in captivity. Births are up in China. The San Diego Zoo's female had a cub in 1999. Washington's new pair are too young yet, but they certainly seem to like each other, if wrestling is any sign.

One footnote: Back in 1972, when China sent the U.S. pandas, the U.S. sent China two musk oxen. They died and the U.S. sent a second pair: no $10 million fee, either. On the other hand, pandas are much cuter, don't you think?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Aww.

SHAW: What can you say?

WOODRUFF: Aww, I can't wait to go see them.

Well, there's still much more ahead on the final half-hour of INSIDE POLITICS.

SHAW: We'll have the very latest on a report on how to protect America's spy satellites. And we're going to check up on president- elect Bush and the construction of his Cabinet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The political dynamic after the Bush team's break with Linda Chavez: Is nominee John Ashcroft covering his bases better than she did?

SHAW: Also ahead: Bush's proposal for school vouchers. His education secretary and the public share their views on this subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MORRIS, POLITICAL IMPRESSIONIST: I did work up a little something. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: We'll ask political impressionist Jim Morris about his transition to the Bush presidency.

SHAW: And welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. Ten days before George W. Bush's inauguration, his political strategists seem to have their hands full. While Bush appeared presidential at the Pentagon today, his aides worked to fill the hole left by Linda Chavez after she withdrew her nomination as labor secretary nominee yesterday. And they honed their plan of attack against foes of Bush's choice for attorney general, John Ashcroft.

Major Garrett is following this Ashcroft story from Austin, Texas. And Eileen O'Connor is covering the Chavez fallout here in Washington.

First, Eileen, to you: What's the latest on the search for a new labor secretary nominee?

O'CONNOR: Well, Republican sources close to the transition team say that Eloise Anderson has moved to the top of the list. And a colleague of hers at the Claremont Institute says that she is on her way to Washington to meet with transition officials, though they are not confirming that.

Eloise Anderson is an African-American woman, which would fulfill the pledge of diversity on the Cabinet. She also works at the Claremont Institute as the director of the Program for the American Family. And, Bernie, she was the former California and Wisconsin social services director. She worked on the National Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators. And she also was in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1972 to '77 -- so a good, solid pick, Republicans say, for labor secretary.

SHAW: Eileen, thanks.

Major Garrett in Austin, Texas, what is the core Bush strategy for getting his attorney general confirmed?

GARRETT: Bernie, the core strategy starts with first things first: nailing down all Republican support. Bush transition officials tell CNN they're almost there. There's only one senator that they want to double-check with: Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. John Ashcroft will visit him in his offices on Friday.

Bush transition officials feel very confident that Senator Specter will also endorse John Ashcroft. That will give them 50 votes. Then the strategy is to build from there, obtaining the support from Southern Democrats and other Democrats they believe have an open mind on the Ashcroft question. There are several tactics involved there. One of them, we may see develop later on tonight. It is expected that California Democrat Barbara Boxer will announce her opposition to John Ashcroft tonight.

Bush officials are already to pounce on that as evidence, they say, the Democrats are unwilling, at least some of them, to even give Ashcroft a full and fair hearing, something they say runs against the Senate's tradition of advise and consent, that is to let a nominee come before the Committee of Jurisdiction, have the questions answered, then have senators decide how they're going to vote.

So Bush transition officials are already preparing to pounce on any Democrats who announce their opposition even before the hearings start. Looking forward to three grueling days of hearings next week, and they have many strategic plans if, in fact, the Democrats bring up issues like law enforcement or the Ronnie White case, which has already been hotly debated in this confirmation process -- Bernie.

SHAW: Major Garrett, Eileen O'Connor; starting first with you, Eileen, the identical question --

Did George W. Bush decide that he did not want to fight for Linda Chavez because he did not want to use precious political capital? I know there are so many elements to this story; that's why I ask you the identical question.

O'CONNOR: Well, it isn't that he doesn't like to use political capital when he needs to, and on policy issues and on ideological fight like the one your going to have on John Ashcroft; there, his aides say he is willing to go to the mat. On Linda Chavez he was not. Why, Bernie?

Because they felt she was not candid with him. And to him, that lack of candor, lack of loyalty, it was an act, actually, of disloyalty. And to him, loyalty is everything, and once she did that, his loyalty and his support evaporated.

SHAW: Major?

GARRETT: Bernie, there really is a central core word that links these two nomination struggles, and it's integrity. The Bush team does not believe that Linda Chavez told them the straight story. And that, as the story developed, undermined the president-elect's pledge to bring integrity to Washington.

Now, how does that factor in to the John Ashcroft battle? What John Ashcroft is going to say and going to win from as many Democrats and Republicans as he can before the confirmation hearings, is testimonials to John Ashcroft's integrity, that he is a man of his word. Based on those testimonials, the Bush team wants him to go to the confirmation hearings and say what he has already pledged to do, that is, to enforce all the laws of the land, despite his own personal disagreement.

And when he's pounded again and again on these questions, at some point he's going to say, listen, senators, you've already vouched for my integrity. I've told you I'm going to enforce the laws of the land. What else do you want from me? What other standard are you applying for me? So, that crucial element of integrity is going to be a big part to get John Ashcroft over the finish line, one they didn't believe Linda Chavez gave to them, and was undermining of the president-elect's, that's why she was dumped. SHAW: Very sharp insight from Major Garrett and Eileen O'Connor. Thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Over on Capitol Hill today, a Senate panel held a hearing on Rod Paige's nomination to be an education secretary. And even the Democrats seemed to embrace Bush's choice. But, the panel's top Democrat, Edward Kennedy, did grill Paige on the subject of school vouchers: President-elect Bush supports them. Kennedy and many in his party do not. Here is an excerpt:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Do you feel that the taxpayer dollars should be spent on improving public schools, or will you make a private school vouchers a priority?

ROD PAIGE, EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: Not a priority, senator. Allow me to comment on this. Of course there's been much discussion...

KENNEDY: I'll take your first answer.

PAIGE: I am a passionate promoter of public education. My job as superintendent of Houston was to make the point that urban public education, and through emphasis, rural public education, can get the job done given the right circumstances. The term vouchers presented, that I read in the paper, has acquired such a negative tone, that I never use it.

Unlike the positive intent, intended by the person who put this term into the public consciousness, a Nobel laureate in economics. The term was then put forth as a term -- a passionate term for helping students acquire educational opportunities that had otherwise not been available to them. I do believe in parental choice and I think that parental choice is a necessary condition to effective public education.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: On the subject of school vouchers, our new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll shows 45 percent of Americans agree with President- elect Bush's support of vouchers, 36 percent say they oppose his plan. When asked if Bush would actually be able to get his voucher program passed, 31 percent of those surveyed said yes; 53 percent said no.

SHAW: We're joined now by Margaret Carl -- Carlson, I can't get it out.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Hey, Bernie. It's me, Margaret.

SHAW: Hi there. She works for "TIME" Magazine. And Rich Lowry of the "National Review."

Your assessments of where the Ashcroft nomination stands. First, Rich, to you. RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I don't think Chavez going down helps John Ashcroft at all. I can understand how the Bush people would have been upset with Linda if she wasn't entirely forthcoming with them. She, you know, admits very forthrightly that was a mistake. But I think what they are going to realize, very quickly, the Bushies, is that having Linda out there would have helped them in the Ashcroft fight for a couple of reasons.

This is going to allow, now, her withdrawal, allow the liberal groups to focus on Ashcroft in a single-minded way, that they wouldn't have been able to before. It also -- when Chavez was out there, it potentially gave Democratic senators an out. They could have said to the liberal groups, look, we'd like to be with you on everything, but we can't. We'll just vote against Linda Chavez, but we can't vote against John Ashcroft. That out is now gone.

And the fundamental fact is, Bernie, when every liberal group in the nation is calling your attorney general nominee a racist, maybe it's a good thing to have a distraction, maybe it's a good thing to be talking about Marta Mercado, instead of whether your attorney general is racist or not.

SHAW: Does Rich have a point, Margaret?

CARLSON: He is right in that, by comparison, Chavez does look like a mild problem. But I think she is sui generis and almost will be forgotten now, in that her problem was unique, or we think it's unique unless somebody else has not told the truth to President-elect Bush. She didn't tell him the truth. And that's what did her in, not Democrats, not labor, not any groups. She did herself in.

So -- and it happened so quickly, and we're a sound-bite country, I think she'll be -- we'll have forgotten about her very soon. What it does do, though, some people, some Democrats may say, well, listen, she's gone, we -- we want to be uniters not dividers, too. We want to sit this out. I think a lot of senators would because John Ashcroft was in the Senate. But there does seem to be, brewing, a little bit more of a united front against Ashcroft; all these groups coming together have reached critical mass; that was never going to be the case with Chavez. And it's a formidable level of opposition.

I think it's a mistake for Senator Boxer to come out now, without giving Ashcroft a chance. Ashcroft may have some explanations for some of these things, or he may be moving a little away from the things he's done in the past. Remember, President-elect Bush after Bob Jones University came and said, you know, I didn't know what they stood for, I don't stand for that, and clarified it. Ashcroft may do that in the hearing, as well as clarify some other things.

SHAW: Rich, what do you see as the key point in the Ashcroft nomination?

LOWRY: Well, I think his defense is going to have three parts. One, they're going to emphasize how well qualified he is. This is a guy who was elected statewide in Missouri five times. They're going to very aggressively rebut the charges of racism, talking about everything from his support for making Martin Luther King Day a holiday in Missouri, to his support for every black judge who was actually confirmed by the Senate, and also they'll be very aggressive on the Ronnie White front, where they'll see Ronnie White testify next week at his hearings -- we'll also see some of the victims of James Johnson, the vicious murderer that Ronnie White wanted to give a new trial.

And Democrats won't be able to bring Ashcroft down unless they get some liberal Republicans on their side, and it's not clear that's going to happen. And important straw in the wind is that Susan Collins from Maine has been very up-front with her colleagues that she thinks it's a smear campaign against Ashcroft and she's going to stand by him, even though she's from a liberal state, and she's up for re- election in two years.

SHAW: Margaret?

CARLSON: I agree with Rich. The Senate keeps saying he's a man of integrity. All the senators -- he's an easy-to-get-along-with guy. He's in the club. It's always been a huge uphill matter to defeat Ashcroft's nomination. The organization against it has gotten stronger, the solidarity of the groups greater. It's still an uphill battle because they do like him, he is a senator, he's no John Tower. Nothing personal is likely to come out against him, that would hamper any of that.

SHAW: Rich, does Bush have a winner in his education secretary nominee?

LOWRY: Yes, I think so. It was, more or less, a lovefest up there at his hearings today. And I just think that this goes to show you that if a nomination does not involve controversies regarding abortion and race, the Bush nominees are fine. It's those two issues that drive the liberal groups nuts.

And Margaret is exactly right when she talks about solidarity in those groups. In the case of Ashcroft, the American Association of University Women, which is supposed to be a nonprofit, charitable group, hosted a meeting yesterday, in its offices of all these groups, where they divvied up responsibilities for taking Ashcroft on, and there's a palpable energy and excitement in the room. They are very hyped up about this. They are very serious about it. I think Ashcroft will win confirmation, but it's going to be an ugly, tough fight.

CARLSON: Mr. Paige also changed the name of vouchers to parental choice, which I think helps him.

SHAW: Anything else to add, Margaret?

CARLSON: There's never been any -- no one, I think, had Rod Paige in their sights. I think he did a good job in Houston. He is mild-mannered, he is in the middle of all these educational issues, and as I said, he didn't make vouchers, which is the only issue that could have gotten him in trouble, an issue before this Senate today.

SHAW: Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine, Rich Lowry of the "National Review." Thank you.

CARLSON: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: You're quite welcome -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: To New Hampshire now where controversial state lawmaker Tom Alciere has offered his resignation, effective at 11:59 tonight. Alciere, whose anti-police views angered state and law enforcement officials, sent a one-sentence resignation to the secretary of state and the New Hampshire House speaker. New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen says the freshman lawmaker misled voters about his extremist positions, and his resignation would allow his district to elect a representative who shares their views.

Earlier this week, Alciere offered a conditional resignation, asking 11 legislators to sponsor his proposals. Only one New Hampshire lawmaker has offered to sponsor some of Alciere's proposals.

WOODRUFF: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Bush's defense secretary nominee weighs in on space-related issues. Our David Ensor on a new report by a commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President-elect George W. Bush paid a visit to the ranking officials at the Pentagon this morning. Bush was joined by Vice President-elect and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and the defense secretary nominee Donald Rumsfeld, along with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Rumsfeld, whose confirmation hearings begin tomorrow, also has been serving as part as chairman of a blue ribbon panel on space-based weapons. As David Ensor reports, that panel is releasing its report tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the U.S. evermore dependent on space satellites for communications, intelligence gathering, and sophisticated military weapons, the blue- ribbon panel will recommend new high-level posts at the White House and Pentagon to cope with emerging threats to them, from potential adversaries.

JOHN SPIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.COM: America's spy satellites are really the key to our global influence and our military power, and they are potentially our glass jar. You take out our satellites, you blind our military and you blind our leadership.

ENSOR: Some Senate Republicans would like to go further than the report advocates for now, creating a space force separate from the air force, and creating space versions of airborne lasers already under development and other weapons to protect U.S. satellites from enemy missiles.

SEN. ROBERT SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: These are defensive things that we are talking about, knocking out enemy satellites, knocking down enemy missiles when they're fired, interrupting the communications of the enemy. That's defensive, not offensive.

ENSOR: The report calls for more attention to how vulnerable U.S. satellites are, but does not, sources say, specifically argue for putting weapons into space to protect them. That would have been highly controversial.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT INTERNATIONAL PEACE: The danger is that if you encourage the development of anti-satellite weapons as a U.S. tool, then you are going to encourage other countries to develop those weapons as well, and we're the ones that have the most to lose. We're the ones that have the most dependency on our surveillance, tracking and intelligence satellites in space.

ENSOR: Since the commission's chairman was Donald Rumsfeld, the nominee for secretary of defense, its recommendations are not likely to be ignored.

(on camera): With the incoming Bush administration's commitment to a national missile defense system, which relies on military satellites to work, the increasing vulnerability of U.S. satellites is likely to get a good deal of attention here. David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

SHAW: Coming up, a little funny business. Guess what? Judy is going to talk with a Bill Clinton impersonator, who, right now, is working on his George W. Bush.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: In Washington today, President Clinton dedicating a new statue of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, showing him in a wheelchair. Disability groups had fought for this wheelchair statue, saying it showed him as he really was and will give millions of disabled people a role model.

WOODRUFF: And on a lighter presidential note, time for a discussion with someone who makes his living making fun of presidents and other lawmakers. We want to welcome Jim Morris, who joins us now from Dallas, Texas. Jim Morris, we wish you were here with us, but this is the next best thing. What do you think of George W. Bush's Cabinet choices?

MORRIS: Well, I like my choices. I do. We -- are you asking me or George? My mind, as a humorist, I'm always going. When you did that previous item, Bernie, about the statue being dedicated as he really was, I'm thinking Al Gore, as he really is, you know.

But I was sort of hoping that George W. would appoint some people I could already imitate, you know, like Phil Gramm does something like, I'm going to be secretary of slow talk or something like that. Head of the EPA maybe, Andy Rooney. You think this water tastes OK? You know, but I'm happy. There's a lot of comedic potential there, and I like my choices. Going to talk about faith-based executions with Mr. Ashcroft there, institutions -- wait a sec. It's good to talk to you, Bernie, and Judy there.

WOODRUFF: Do you think the president-elect is getting any advice from his father?

MORRIS: Probably, although they wouldn't admit to it. Sure, of course. He's my son, I'm very proud of him, and I had a tough job in the "dailthing" we had, the administration, thank you. I was president of the United States, and let me tell you this, I said to my son, I said W., first thing you got to do is fill your Cabinet. Where do you start? Munchies. Munchies?

No, no. Wait a second. He's a little nervous but he's up to the job. I told him all he has to do is just follow directions and he'll be fine. I get all my best guys in there, and he'll do fine. I'm sure he will.

WOODRUFF: What do you think, Jim Morris, we're going to see from George W. Bush in the first 100 days?

MORRIS: Well, when I placed my hand on that Bible, I will swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the -- oh, wait a second, that's from a different time. Yes, we don't talk about that anymore. Just tell -- weren't you going to talk -- priorities.

All right, Dad, we're going to talk about defense. I think it's important that we beef up arms to our allies, Israel, Turkey, beef and turkey. I like turkey, I like the right-wing especially, but I'll take the whole bird. And crime, and we're going to accomplish a great many things.

I'm going to make sure no child is left behind. Appeal to our better angels, not our darker impulses, thank you. It was a tough campaign, wasn't it? Oh, man. You guys were in the front line. I must say that anyone who looks as hot as you do at 4:00 in the morning is OK in my book. God bless you.

WOODRUFF: No comment. Jim Morris, any surprises that you expect at this inauguration on the 20th?

MORRIS: Well, I wouldn't be surprised if they had a swearing at ceremony rather than a swearing-in ceremony. I mean, there are so many people disaffected by the whole process, and you have you people to thank in part for that. But the media are doing some kind of review process so that this kind of thing doesn't happen again, although I enjoyed the coverage watching Tom Brokaw on NBC. There's a new tally from Tallahassee. Wasn't that an old song?

A new tally from Tallahassee and some of your colleagues got a bit testy into the wee hours of the morning, such as Ted Koppel and the other fellow on CBS was going out of his mind. Good evening, this is Dan Rather, CBS Evening News. This race is messier than a Katherine Harris powder puff. You know, I mean, it was entertainment for people like myself. WOODRUFF: As long as you don't ever make fun of us, it's perfectly fine. Jim Morris, anything you expect Bush to say about uniting the country?

MORRIS: Yes, I'm going -- because, of course, you know, I'm a uniter not a divider. I'm a joker; I'm a smoker; I'm a midnight toker, and I think it was best put by Rene Descartes or maybe it was Neil Diamond who said I think, therefore, I am, I said. Something like that -- I don't know. You have to watch on the 20th.

WOODRUFF: Jim Morris, we hope we see a lot of you over the next four years or whatever.

MORRIS: I hope I see a lot of you. God bless you.

WOODRUFF: So do we. Thanks a lot. And Bernie is here laughing, too, Jim Morris. Thanks a lot. That was priceless, that was priceless.

SHAW: It was. It was.

WOODRUFF: We don't know what to say now, so we're just going to say that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com; AOL key word, CNN.

SHAW: And this programming note: National Security Adviser Samuel Berger will be among the guests tonight on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Just enough time to say I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. The "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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