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Inside Politics

Momentum in Congress Building for Immediate Tax Relief; Republican Leader Hints at Willingness to Compromise on McCain- Feingold

Aired March 23, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET



RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": For George W. Bush, life in the White House is increasingly resembling life on a tightrope.


ANNOUNCER: Ron Brownstein, on the president's balancing act. And, slip on your formal wear, it's time for the political Oscars.

Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

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

From Wall Street to Washington and all across the nation, many investors may be muttering "Thank goodness it's Friday." That is, if they're not laid up with a case of whiplash from watching stock prices plunge most of this week, and then rebound, slightly. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115 points today, to close, one hour ago, above 9,500. The Nasdaq Index ended the day up 30 points, above 1,900.

A chart of the Dow's losses since Monday better tells the story. Blue chip stocks began the week above 9800 and kept on falling. Yesterday, the Dow closed at 9389, after visiting, and then bouncing out of, bear market territory.

It is not a coincidence then, that in this week of market madness, there appears to be a growing political consensus for a speedy tax cut.

CNN's Kate Snow looks at the latest options on the table, and whether they might pass muster with the president.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arriving in Portland, Maine, President Bush said he's confident Congress will find a way to give some quick cash to American taxpayers.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The key thing is to make sure that we have tax relief that's meaningful, and to get as much money in the people's pockets as quickly as possible, to provide a stimulus package.

SNOW: The talk of the moment on Capitol Hill: a $60 billion immediate tax break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Economic recovery ought to be our first venture.

SNOW: On that much, Republicans and Democrats agree.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: What we're trying to do is just to do it quicker so it will have a positive impact on the economy and the confidence of the people in the economy.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I personally would support taking the $60 billion tax cut as part of this year's budget resolution.

SNOW: But it's not quite that easy. Democrats want to pass the immediate stimulus on its own. Republicans want to tie it to the president's income tax rate cuts.

And the president insists he doesn't want a quick tax cut now to add to the cost of his overall plan.

BUSH: I think we ought to work to keep it within the $1.6 trillion. I've sent that message.

SNOW (on camera): The message was delivered in person by Vice President Dick Cheney and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. While most of the attention was focused on the Senate floor and campaign finance reform, they held a strategy session in the private office of the Senate majority leader.

(voice-over): One key question: how would immediate tax relief be delivered? The IRS could orders employers to reduce withholding for taxes in people's paychecks. Or the government could send out checks to every taxpayer. But that gets complicated.

DONALD ALEXANDER, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: The IRS has to do its job with its ancient computers -- of determining how much each taxpayer is to receive. And then issue directions to Treasury to issue a check to that taxpayer.

SNOW: And there are other questions about an immediate tax break. Would everyone get the money? Or would it be targeted at lower-income Americans? How much money would each taxpayer receive? If it were evenly split, $60 billion would be about $300 apiece. The president says he's open to suggestions.

BUSH: There's a lot of ideas now being floated out in the Congress, and I'm open-minded to any good idea.


SNOW: One thing, the president a little bit more open to today, he expressed openness to the idea of putting a trigger in the tax cut so that the tax cut might be lessened or reduced or even eliminated if the surpluses that are projected don't pan out. The president did say on that front, though, he's open to it, but doesn't want this trigger to allow the Congress to go on a spending spree -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, the fact that he's open to it is news.

Kate, you have some information about who else was in that meeting with Senator Lott and the vice president and the treasury secretary?

SNOW: Right. It was a small meeting. We understand Senator Grassley, Chuck Grassley, who's the chairman of the finance committee was in there. Also Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

Senator Gramm, interestingly, tells CNN that he does not really like this idea of this $60 billion economic stimulus package, this initial tax cut right up front, because he's afraid it's going to take away from the president's overall plan. In fact, he likened it to flying a plane over the country and tossing $100 bills out the window -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: He has a way with words. All right, Kate Snow, thanks very much.

Well, 51 percent of Americans say President Bush is doing a good job handling the economy, according to our new CNN - "TIME" magazine poll. But 58 percent believe Mr. Bush's comments that we may be heading into a recession have affected the economy.

Our Bill Schneider joins us now with more on this poll.

Bill, first of all, how nervous is the poll showing that Americans are about what's going on?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, people are certainly getting nervous. There's a bear market in the woods. Only about half of Americans say the fall in the stock market has affected their family's financial situation in any way, and they tend to be higher-income people, so that cushions the impact.

What worries Americans is not the stock market, it's the economy. Nearly half the country thinks a recession is likely in the next year. Now, will people blame President Bush if that happens? Take a look at this. By better than two to one, people say President Clinton is more responsible for the current state of the economy than President Bush. It's still the Clinton economy.

But be warned, Mr. President: people who say it's Clinton's economy think it's in a lot better shape than people who say it's Bush's economy. Clinton gets credit for how good things are. If things turn bad, Bush is likely to get the blame.

WOODRUFF: And what about public sentiment on the president tax cut proposal?

SCHNEIDER: Well, that is changing in both directions. More people favor it, and more people oppose it. Here's where support for the plan stands right now. 51 percent in favor, that's up two points since early February. 40 percent opposed. That's up four points.

Republicans are holding fast in favor of the tax cut. Support among independents has been growing. But Democrats have been turning against it. While a narrow majority of Americans still favors the tax cut, it's becoming a more and more partisan issue.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider. Thanks very much.

Now turning to the issue of campaign finance reform: talk of compromise is in the air on Capitol Hill, most notably, and suddenly, from a member of the Republican leadership.

Our Jonathan Karl is following the Senate debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from Oklahoma.

SEN. DON NICKLES (R), OKLAHOMA: Mr. President, thank you very much...

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, it's Don Nickles' job to line up votes for the Republican leadership. And he's been steadfast in his opposition to John McCain's idea of campaign finance reform. So it's a big deal that Nickles now says he could possibly accept a compromise that would ban the unlimited contributions given to political parties, known as "soft money," in exchange for an increase in the so-called "hard money" given directly to candidates, from the current $1,000 limit to $2,000 or $3,000.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think Senator Nickles' commitment to banning soft money is very important and very helpful to the cause.

KARL: But the talk of compromise gets a chilly reception from other Republican leaders, who say Nickles is freelancing, not speaking for his party.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think Senator Nickles is exploring opportunities and looking for if there's some place we can arrive at, but I'm not too sure that he, in this case, represents where the Republicans would like to go.

KARL: Senator Santorum says Nickles would have a hard time finding Republican support for any compromise that includes a ban on soft money.

SANTORUM: I clearly would not vote in favor of that. I think most Republicans would not vote in favor of that.

KARL: A compromise could also fracture the McCain coalition. Even Granny D, the 91-year-old who walked across the country for campaign finance reform, is adamantly opposed to a hard-money increase, and could jump ship if a significant increase passes.

Democratic supporters of McCain/Feingold could also become opponents if it includes a significant increase in hard money, which Republicans raise in greater numbers than Democrats.

DASCHLE: So why we would lock into law an opportunity that gives Republicans three times, perhaps, the level of support that Democrats are going to get? It's not something I'm prepared to accept.

KARL: For his part, McCain is trying to convince Democratic leader Daschle to go along with an increase in the hard money limit.

MCCAIN: The fact is that the $1,000 in 1974, which was the established contribution limit, is $3,300 today. Now, I'm not advocating raising it that high, but clearly, $1,000 for a candidate today does not buy the television time, the radio time, the pamphlets and the things that you need to run a campaign. It's that simple.

KARL: On this point, McCain still has to convince his Democratic side-kick Russ Feingold, who says he'd rather see no hard money increase at all.


KARL: But there's also significant Democratic support for an increase in the hard money limit, especially from Democrats from big states with expensive media markets, where $1,000 just doesn't go that far. One of those Democrats, Dianne Feinstein, is quietly working to build support among Democrats for an increase in the hard money limit to $2,000, that'll be a doubling of the hard money limit. She is expected to offer that up sometime next week, probably early next week -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, you said Senator McCain still working on his partner in all this -- Senator Feingold -- how far apart are they on increasing the hard money ceiling?

KARL: Well, neither of them have taken a hard position, but they come at this from very different perspectives. Feingold says that he wouldn't want to go any further than $1,001. He thinks the limit right now is just fine.

McCain, as you've heard from this piece, is comfortable talking about a -- possibly even a $3,000 limit. They really do not see eye- to-eye on the issue, but as McCain says, we have said that we will march a lockstep. We will vote the same on every single issue on campaign finance reform. But that doesn't mean that we have to agree before we get to the vote. So there's time for the two of them to get on the same page.

Their both overriding goal here, the most important goal, is getting that soft-money ban passed, and they will look for some kind of a compromise on hard money to make that possible.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jon Karl, thanks.

And now we're joined now by our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Hello, Jeff, in New York.


WOODRUFF: Jeff, a couple of weeks ago, you gave us what you might call an early warning signal that Democrats might not stay united behind McCain-Feingold. What is your sense of where this all stands right now?

GREENFIELD: I think what you just heard from Jonathan Karl is another early warning, or maybe not even so early.

You know, this whole campaign finance issue is so wrapped up with whose ox is gored, who does it benefit, who does it hurt? You remember back in the primaries a year ago, George Bush said to John McCain in a debate, "I'm not for your campaign finance reform because it will hurt Republicans and conservatives."

Democrats now realize: "We have raised just as much soft money in the last cycle as Republicans, but they killed us in the hard, regulated money. And if we accept a system that raises hard money limits in return for an end to soft money, we are disarming ourselves." No matter what the equities are.

Senator McCain makes an interesting point: $1,000 in 1974, you'd need 3,300 today. But the Democrats are looking at that and saying, you know, we're just going to wrap a millstone around our neck if that's what we wind up with. And I think that that shows some real promise or danger, dependent on your point of view, of fracturing the absolutely solid Democratic unity over the last two years on McCain- Feingold.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, another of the fairly divisive aspects of this has to do with something called severability. It's a fairly arcane term, but put on your lawyer's hat, your law school hat, and tell us what that's all about.

GREENFIELD: Well, traditionally when the Congress passes a bill it includes what's called a severability clause. And all that means in plain English is if the courts strike down one part of the bill, they're not supposed to strike everything down. It isolates the rest of the bill from a constitutional attack.

Here, some of the opponents of McCain-Feingold want an unseverability clause. They want something in this bill that says if any part of this bill is struck down, the whole bill falls. And since the Supreme Court has been very skeptical about certain aspects of campaign finance reform -- they found a lot of it a violation of first amendment principles -- what the opponents are doing is -- I don't know if you want to call it a poison pill, but that's what it amounts to -- is to slip a clause in that says if you knock down section 3-B, nothing else remains. And I think that's going to -- that may turn out to be one of the most significant fights of the bill.

WOODRUFF: That's right. President Bush has said he wants that severability in there.

GREENFIELD: An unseverability, right.

WOODRUFF: The unseverability?

GREENFIELD: Yeah, I know it's weird. And, you know, lawyers never speak English. That's why I'm not a lawyer, I hope.

But it really turns out to be a critical debate in the weeks ahead.

WOODRUFF: Jeff, we know that campaign finance and tax cuts are what everybody's talking about right now. But you lived through something this week that you're saying, you're thinking may become an even bigger issue?

GREENFIELD: Oh, yeah. I was in California last week and experienced my first rolling blackout. What this is, basically, as the Californians well know -- if it's going on now, they can't see this show, of course -- is that without warning, on a stage-three emergency, the power authorities just pull the plug in selected neighborhoods for an hour or so when demand comes too high.

And what happens is, you're sitting there, in some places it was at lunch, in some places it was dinner, and the power goes out for an hour and a half. And I thought back to the gasoline lines of '73 and then in '79. When you talk about a political issue that hits people where they live, literally, you can't come up with one stronger than a rolling blackout.

I mean, tax cuts, yes, maybe. Campaign finance reform, some people may care about it. But if we go through a summer when this idea of rolling blackouts spreads across the country into other places besides California, I think it is going to put everything else into the shadows. And whoever is in charge is going to be facing huge political consequences.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield. We'll find out whether your words were prescient. Thanks a lot.

GREENFIELD: Well, the lights are still on here now, but you never know.


WOODRUFF: All right. Thanks, Jeff Greenfield in New York.

A lot more to come on INSIDE POLITICS. Straight ahead: President walks the line between left and right. How will he keep his political balance?

Also ahead:


BUSH: They'll just understand my administration as one that takes firm positions when we think we're right.


WOODRUFF: The president stands his ground on relations with Russia.

And later: revisiting the military defeat that embarrassed a U.S. president and solidified Fidel Castro's hold on power in Cuba.


WOODRUFF: President Bush has spent the first two months of his term laying out his agenda and sending it piece-by-piece to Congress. But the man who pledged to change the tone in Washington is discovering how difficult it can be to navigate the politics of the nation's capital.

Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" takes a closer look at Bush's struggle.


RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": For George W. Bush, life in the White House is increasingly resembling life on a tightrope. Since taking office in January, Bush has been sure-footed and steady in unveiling his priorities and staffing his administration.

But with Congress and the country divided almost 50-50 between the parties, the president has quickly learned that a strong gust of resistance from almost any direction can knock him off stride. Already, these heavy crosswinds are taking their toll.

MCCAIN: The president has never said that would threaten to veto. And we want to work with the president. We think we can get a bill that he can sign.

BROWNSTEIN: On campaign finance reform, Bush is facing a gale- force challenge from John McCain, who is leading a bipartisan alliance demanding much stricter restrictions on soft money than the president supports. Wednesday, by a greater than two-to-one margin, the Senate rejected a centerpiece of Bush's alternative plan, a requirement that unions and corporations receive permission from their members and shareholders before spending their money for political purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to be responsible stewards of the surplus.

BROWNSTEIN: On taxes, the resistance comes from the center. Bush is confronting an uprising from moderates in both parties, who are insisting that the tax plan include a trigger that would automatically block future rate reductions if the surpluses don't prove as large as projected.

Opposition to school vouchers is blowing in mostly from the left, from liberals and even more moderate Republicans. The result: Bush's voucher proposal was dropped in the reform bill the Senate Education Committee approved last week.

Bush's school testing plan is being buffeted from the right. Conservatives fear that it would give the federal government too much control over local schools, and they've already forced the president to water down his plan.

Another gust from the right this forced Bush to abandon his campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Then Wednesday, opposition from House centrists set back his plan to open the national arctic wildlife refuge to oil drilling.

(on camera): Bush has scored his share of early victories, and his ideas, like big tax cuts, now dominate the debate on Capitol Hill. But as he approaches the 100-day mark, it's increasingly clear that Bush is operating without much margin for error, like a man crossing a high wire without a net.

This is Ron Brownstein for "INSIDE POLITICS."


WOODRUFF: When we return, an update on some the day's other top stories, including a spectacular demise of space station Mir. Details on the amazing artificial light show next in our news update.

And later: Washington and Moscow take turns expelling diplomats. What does it say about the state of U.S. relations with Russia?


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

Officials in California say one of the intended targets in yesterday's school shooting was the vice principal. But they still do not know why the suspect, 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, wanted to harm the administrator.

Granite Hills high school is closed until Monday. But counselors are on hand for parents and students. Hoffman is accused of wounding three students and two teachers. Hoffman himself was shot and wounded by a police officer named Rich Agundez.

Described as a loner, Hoffman is listed in fair but stable condition after undergoing surgery. Officials say quick police action prevented the shooting from being much worse.


CHIEF JAMES DAVIS, EL CAJON POLICE: Due to the quick response of Agent Agundez and Deputy Pearl, the suspect was prevented from inflicting any further injuries other than those already reported. The incident took a total of approximately one-and-a-half minutes from start to finish.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: The San Diego County district attorney says Hoffman will be charged with one count of attempted premeditated murder and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Two alleged plots involving schools in New York state are under investigation today. In the down of Eden in western New York, three sophomores are under house arrest. They were charged with conspiracy yesterday after allegedly talking to others about a possible plan to shoot teachers at Eden junior-senior high school.

In Greenburgh in Westchester county, three schools were closed today because of a threat allegedly posted on the Internet. The nature of the threat is not clear. A student at one of the schools called the Internet posting to the attention of authorities.

Another huge round of job cuts has been announced by Motorola. This latest round of cutbacks will involve 4,000 workers. This brings the total number of layoffs at Motorola to 22,000 since December of last year. A Motorola spokesman says the cuts are necessary to keep the company profitable during a slowing economy.

A fiery splashdown marked the end of Mir, as the Russian space station came down right on cue, and right on target. An estimated 40 tons of Mir survived the intense heat of re-entering Earth's atmosphere. It could be seen streaking across the sky near the island of Fiji. The Mir, after spending 15 years in space, was brought down in a controlled descent. It crashed into the South Pacific ocean. There were no reports of injuries or damage from Mir's return.

Checking on a possible airlines strike at Comair, the Bush administration says that it does not expect the National Mediation Board to recommend intervention if the pilots choose to strike.

At issue: working conditions and salaries. Comair is owned by Delta, and is the nation's second largest regional airline. Comair's 1,400 pilots could strike as early as Monday.

Texas Tech University has called a news conference this evening and is expected to announce that Bob Knight will be its new basketball coach. The controversial Knight was spotted today on the campus in Lubbock. CNN's Candy Crowley looks at the checkered record of volatile coach, last seen at Indiana.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Knight is descending on Texas. That would Bobby Knight. He is the throwing chair, the aggressive coaching techniques, he is the intemperate tongue and unrepentant spirit.


BOB KNIGHT, BASKETBALL COACH: When my time on Earth is gone and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down and my critics can kiss my ass! (END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bobby Knight, as we know, is a nut case. He has no respect for individuals or for himself. So, I feel as though he shouldn't get hired.

CROWLEY: The supremely talented but flawed ex-basketball coach at Indiana University is taking his winning record and all his baggage to Texas Tech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows that you can make a lot of mistakes in this world, and still, if you are successful and you win, that's all that matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of like Bill Clinton. It's like, he's done some great things, but there is so much controversy. But look! People wanted to re-elect him, so go figure.

CROWLEY: It helps to figure the bottom line. Texas Tech is a school with a losing men's basketball team and a brand new arena they can't fill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to win, and they think they can with him as their coach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately, it's become a money business and he'll be a draw. It'll be financially beneficial to them.

CROWLEY: The truth is, success can buy a lot of leeway in life, but a few words about Bobby Knight that are hard to hear while watching a chair fly through the air: winning may be everything, but his teams had higher graduation rates than the university in general. If his kids didn't go to class, they didn't play ball.


KNIGHT: I may be a lot of things in some people's eyes, but there's never been anybody in college athletics that's ever put a greater emphasis on academic participation and academic completion than I have, and our graduation record is second to none in the country.


CROWLEY: Knight has been seen butting heads, shoving, kicking and otherwise intimidating his players. But many, perhaps most, say he taught them discipline and a work ethic.

Over the past several years, NCAA rule-breaking cost Texas Tech nine scholarships and 10 forfeited victories. Poor academics cost the school a spot at the NCAA tournament. Bobby Knight coached three national championship teams, and is one of the winningest coaches in college history. In 29 years at Indiana, he was never sanctioned for violating NCAA rules.

His is a tale of two Bobby Knights: the best of him and the worst of him. Perhaps, Texas is big enough for both.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: We'll see.

U.S. expels 50 Russian diplomats, and Russia responds in kind. Is Cold War-style tension making a comeback?


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We responded in a way that is measured, realistic, practical and as far as we are concerned, that ended the matter.


WOODRUFF: The secretary of State says it is time to move on. We will hear from President Bush and get the Russian response when we return.


WOODRUFF: President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin today separately downplayed the current squabble over U.S. and Russian diplomats. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the U.S. decision to expel 50 Russian diplomats, quote, "necessary and appropriate."

And for his part, President Bush tried to ease the potential effects of the move on overall U.S. relations with Russia.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we can have good, strong relations with the Russians. They will just understand my administration is one that takes firm positions when we think we are right.

That doesn't preclude the ability for Mr. Putin and me, for example, to meet at some point in time and have a good, honest discussion about a common interest, areas where we can work together, and to be able to discuss our agreements in the open and honest way.

WOODRUFF: President Putin made his comments today on the issue while traveling in Europe. CNN's Steve Harrigan has Mr. Putin's reaction, and the Cold War roots of the current dispute.


STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russians say they will match the Americans by expelling one U.S. diplomat from Moscow for every Russian diplomat expelled from Washington. That means the number will eventually rise to 50 on each side. The Kremlin in the heat of the dispute blames an old-fashioned mentality in the new U.S. administration. SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN (through translator): There are a lot of people in the new Bush administration, there are a lot of people whose views were formed during the Cold War. With their return to power, they have the same old vision. It will take time for them to get used to the new, complex realities of today.

HARRIGAN: The diplomatic fallout which began after FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested and accused of spying for Russia, and accelerated when the U.S. declared four Russian diplomats persona non grata, and to chill the relationship already cooled by Russian arms sales to Iran and American plans to build a missile defense shield. But tit-for-tat expulsions, analysts say, are a regular part of the spy business.

SERGEI KARAGANOV, POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think that is a real crisis. I think it is a quasi-crisis, and even I would say a farcical crisis. If both sides did not insist on making all kinds of stupid mistakes, I mean, next month, I mean, we will forget about it in about a month or two.

HARRIGAN: An attitude echoed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The former KGB agent said he did not think the expulsions would create serious tension between the two nations.

(on camera): The first four Americans will be kicked out of Russia within days. The remaining 46 will be gone by summer. Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.


WOODRUFF: And when we return, an unlikely trip down memory lane, as Fidel Castro meets with Americans involved with the Bay of Pigs. The story from Havana ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: After four decades, Cuban leader Fidel Castro is meeting for the first time with his adversaries from the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Castro and some members of the Kennedy administration are re-visiting the failed mission at a conference in Havana, using newly released documents from the Cuban and the American governments. CNN's Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman reports.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A scene once unimaginable: old Cold War adversaries and combatants from the Bay of Pigs coming face to face on Cuban soil to try and set the record straight.

Turquoise-colored water and white sands are what distinguish the Bay of Pigs, today a tourist resort two-hours drive from Havana. But 40 years ago, it was the scene of one of the most notable, and to many, infamous chapters of the Cold War: the invasion of Cuba by 1,500 CIA trained Cuban exiles: an invasion foiled by Cuba's new revolutionary government, and one of the most embarrassing political and military defeats ever suffered by Washington.

The man who led Cuba's defending forces remembers it well as he invites historians and protagonists on both sides to re-examine the past.

JOSE RAMON FERNANDEZ, CUBAN VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): The objective, based on the rigorous truth, is to clarify the facts and leave a clear record for history of what really happened in that event, which undoubtedly has had repercussions for the last 40 years.

NEWMAN: To this end, the three-day Bay of Pigs conference, with President Fidel Castro sitting across from top former CIA officials and former key advisers to President John F. Kennedy.

ARTHUR SCHLESINGER, FORMER KENNEDY ADVISER: I would hope as a citizen of the United States that it may increase the sympathy and understanding between our two countries.

NEWMAN: Also present, former members of the U.S.-backed invading force. One of them is Juan Luis Hernandez, back in Cuba for the first time since the foiled invasion. He still opposes the Castro government, but thinks times have changed.

JUAN LUIS HERNANDEZ, FORMER BRIGADE 2506 MEMBER (through translator): I think going to war is not necessary. Today we can talk around a negotiating table and all come out the winner.

NEWMAN: Both sides have brought new declassified documents to help answer hundreds of questions that remain.

(on camera): This conference, sponsored by academics on both sides, is a rare attempt to set a common historical record between Cuba and the United States, two countries which remain divided and unable to put the Cold War to rest, even 40 years after the Bay of Pigs.

Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


WOODRUFF: We have some sad news to report. Our colleague here at CNN, Rowland Evans, died today in Washington after a battle with cancer. He joined CNN in 1980, with his journalistic partner Bob Novak, as co-host of the program of "EVANS AND NOVAK."

Evans and Novak first teamed up back in 1963. Together, they published a daily political column, "Inside Report," a biweekly news letter and several books.

Rowland Evans was 79 years old, and he will missed by many of us at CNN.

CNN chairman Tom Johnson extended his sympathy today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, CNN NEWSGROUP: On behalf of all of us at CNN, ranging from Ted Turner throughout the entire staff, I want to convey our deepest condolences to Rowland's family and to his many, many friends.

Rowland has been a part of the CNN family from its very beginning. He and Bob Novak and their show, "EVANS AND NOVAK," has really been an integral part of what we have done here from the beginning. They have brought great enterprise to their show. They certainly built one of the finest columns that was appearing almost everywhere in American newspapers.

What a reporter -- and that column always showed it. He developed great friendships, ranging from President Kennedy to President Johnson to many others, but he also worked them as sources. And as his column showed day in and day out, and as his TV showed here on CNN, it was a source of news, the inside news frequently of what was happening in the highest counsels of government.

Rollie Evans will be missed by all of us.



WOODRUFF: And now we go to our "Reporters Roundtable": "Los Angeles Times" associate editor Frank Del Olmo; our own Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno; and our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

Candy, to you first: The president tacking a little differently right now when it comes to tax cuts. Is this a smart move on his part?

CROWLEY: Well, it has to be -- it's been a hallmark of George Bush's political career to say, here's what I want, here's what I want, here's what I want, take a look at what he can get, and begin to sort of move there.

So yes, I think what you're seeing is the beginnings of the opening of the real tax debate that goes on behind closed doors: What can you live with? What can you take? What can I get? And he's beginning to move off the original position.

WOODRUFF: Frank Del Omo out in Los Angeles, what does this tax cut debate look like from where you are?

FRANK DEL OLMO, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, it still hasn't quite sunk in. I think a lot of the details are very intriguing to people.

Everybody is concerned, obviously, about the decline in the stock market, the apparent increasing weakness of the economy. I think that's given a lot of political momentum to perhaps -- to the president's side on the Republican side on this to sort of do something, because clearly earlier this week the decision by the Fed to lower interest rates, for example, didn't quite have the salutary effect that everyone had been presuming it would on the stock market. So now there's a little more general anxiety out here that maybe you need to do a little bit more, and perhaps a tax cut wouldn't be such a bad thing.

The -- perhaps when the details of what exactly the new tax bill will be like begin to come out, you might see more political debate. But right now, it seems, from way out here at least, that there's a certain degree of momentum on the Republican side now.

WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno, the president's move, or at least putting the word out that he's prepared to look at something different, this came about fairly suddenly, didn't it?

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it's been building behind the scenes. Last week, several centrist Republicans and others were talking to Trent Lott and making it clear that they felt that something needed to be -- to move very quickly.

A source, Judy, tells me today that the president is feeling just fine about all of this. He's kind of laid his agenda out there, as Candy Crowley said, and now he feels it's really cutting his way. He didn't call for this $60 billion rebate or whatever you want to call it, this accelerated tax cut that's meant to get more money back into people's hands more quickly. But he has talked about he retroactivity, and now you've got a larger number of senators and others talking about that, too. And from the White House perspective, that's music to their ears.

WOODRUFF: Candy, how serious are they about getting this done quickly?

CROWLEY: Well, I think they even don't have to be serious. They're serious about getting something out there quickly. But others are doing the work for them, as Frank said.

They're also still serious about their total number, and that is that George Bush is still sticking with here's the totality of the tax cut I want. I think the danger here is going to be that he go along with this sort of initial quick-hit, $60 billion in tax cuts however they decide to parcel that out, that it drains out of the momentum for the Bush tax package, and that is the cut in the actual tax rates.

So what you're seeing here is the White House and other Republicans on Capitol Hill -- Phil Gramm among others -- saying, well, that's fine, but it needs to be fit under the broad umbrella of the Bush plan. They don't want it to pass as a separate. They want it to be part of the overall tax cut plan.

WOODRUFF: Frank Del Olmo, let me turn to campaign finance reform, the Senate taking up two weeks on this proposal by Senator John McCain, Senator Russ Feingold. From your perspective, is this -- is this a battle between the forces of good and evil, or is it something that's less well-defined?

DEL OLMO: Well, you're asking the right person, I guess, in that regard: I would say it's certainly less well-defined. But I, like my colleagues are, journalists, professionally we watch this.

I'd say for -- from the political sense, for the average voter, resident of California, certainly of Arizona, where John McCain comes from, this is still a battle between the forces of good and evil, and John McCain still has the benefit of being perceived at least as the fellow on the side of good.

WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno, here in Washington it's not quite that straightforward.


SESNO: Nothing is that...


... straightforward in Washington.


Certainly not this one. And it's been very interesting to watch this shape up. You know, if you listened to Mitch McConnell, who says that, you know, campaign finance reform money isn't the problem, money is the answer, because if you equate it with free speech, it's a First Amendment right. He says Americans are about as interested in this as static cling.

Now, you know, we all wear clothes, so maybe we're all interested in static cling more than the senator thinks. But the fact of the matter is this is very confusing. It's two weeks of debate. There are amendments about what a millionaire should be able to do, about how much, you know, limits in soft money, hard money. This stuff is wrapped in some very confusing language, and from sort of a public relations point of view, it may be portrayed as good versus evil, but the complexities -- and it's enormously complex -- are very difficult to communicate.

WOODRUFF: And candy, it's to the president's benefit that it is portrayed as a complex issue. I mean, he doesn't want it to look like John McCain is the guy with the white hat on here.

CROWLEY: Either way. He doesn't want to end up with the black hat more than anything else.

Look, one of the things that's happening here -- I mean, the whole reason this debate is happening at all is exactly what Frank is talking about, is that out in California and out in Arizona and out in New Jersey and out in New York, it does look like John McCain is wearing a white hat. And that's where he gets his strength. That's why we're having this debate at all.

If he were to rely on his popularity among his colleagues or at the White House, we would not be having this debate.

So insofar as John McCain is still propelled by the public opinion of him as the good guy fighting for them, this debate moves forward. And what it is up to the White House and up to those who are against this is to try to shape a package that they can live with.

WOODRUFF: Frank Del Olmo, I can't let you be on this program for more than a couple of minutes without ask you about energy in your state. Is there relief in sight for California in the months to come?

DEL OLMO: Not in the short term at least. We had a couple of days of rolling blackouts, which were the first it really hit in the southern part of the state, which, you know, San Francisco has had them before, scattered here and there in San Diego and other places. But they really did hit all through the Los Angeles region, down to San Diego this week, which is where most of the voters are concentrated and where more conservative voters are concentrated. And they were really realizing for the first time -- because we had a warm spell at the start of the week in Southern California -- is this what summer is going to be like? And from that time being, it looks as if that will be the case.

Now, there is some political danger in there for both our governor, Gray Davis, who has been criticized already for not moving quite rapidly enough to try to find a solution, but I fear also for the Bush administration in this, because the day after the initial rolling blackout, our ISO, the agency that handles the distribution of electricity, also completed a study, which is alleging -- and it's been sent on now to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- that the energy wholesalers, most of whom are based in Texas, many of which are supporters of President Bush -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Reliant Energy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Energy and the like -- may have overcharged the state anywhere between 5 1/2 to 6 billion dollars, and that they've now asked FERC to get this money back.

This has played very big in California. I don't think it's quite caught on with the national press. But -- one of our tabloid papers here in the state ran a very black, bold headline the second day of the rolling blackouts, with the black headline "Rolling Blackmail." And that's still how that's playing out here. And if the bush administration doesn't find some way to sort of get on the, again, side of the angels, if you will, on this one, they may have a real political problem out here in California.

SESNO: And Judy, if I may, two points on this. If you were a congressional representative or representative of any kind from California, you're hearing about it. I was talking with Congressman Christopher Cox today. He's from California.

He was saying he's getting calls from constituents to say: Look, I'm on a respirator and my power goes out, I don't even get notification of this. What's going on here and what can you do about it?

He was telling me that he was writing -- meeting with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who says, this guy is spending his time worrying about the elevators, if they stop mid -- between the floors and are there first aid kits and that kind of thing onboard.

And this is one reason why you're now hearing the administration in the form of the energy secretary, Spence Abraham, use the "c" word, crisis, trying to focus national attention and trying to run the debate in a very different direction than a lot of people, as Frank said, outside of California anyway are not tuned into this thing as a crisis.

WOODRUFF: Well, in the few minutes that we have left with our roundtable, I want to refer back to the sad news that we reported just a few moment ago on this program, and that is that our colleague Rowland Evans died this afternoon after a battle with cancer.

He was a remarkable political reporter, had just a remarkable career that spanned 60 years.

I want to remind us all of something of why he loved covering politics as much as he did. He was interviewed not very long ago, and he was asked, why do to you love to cover politics, and here is what Rowland Evans said.


ROWLAND EVANS, CO-HOST, CNN'S "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS": Because covering politics is the highest art form in journalism for reporting. Because politics and the impulses of power that direct politicians toward certain goals and away from other objectives, that put them in contest with each other, that makes -- the politics that make for the great movements in history, come from the soul and the heart of politicians.

And for a reporter to be able to spot the origin as these developments begin to occur in a political being, in a politician, and to watch how the politician then tries to sell his view, tries to put it into practice -- mobilizes allies, gains new allies, makes enemies -- it's the -- it's the highest calling in human nature, finding out how human nature works. Because really when you get down to it, Nancy, human nature is very wound up with the aspirations of gaining power: whether it's political power or family power, business power or money power or whatever. And you do it in politics, you're seeing the ultimate -- the ultimate end of it.


WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno, Rowland Evans really had a way of putting his finger on what it's all about.

SESNO: Judy, to everybody here at CNN, for all the years he was with, he was an example, he was a mentor, he was gracious and curious. And he could lean across that table when he was interviewing anybody and look some senator right in the face and say, "Senator, isn't it true your tax package is doomed?" and get a response.

And if I may on a personal note, Judy, you know, I -- we have some cancer in my family, and I was talking about with Rollie about this, this past summer. And it was at that point that he told me that he had been diagnosed with cancer. And we spoke every -- periodically throughout. And though that entire period, the first thing he would ever do was to ask how my family member was doing. And he was brave and gracious, and he will be missed more than words will ever be able to express.

WOODRUFF: He surely will. He is -- he's just somebody who stands head and shoulders in an industry, a business. Where there are so many good reporters in this city, Rowland Evans is one that we will remember for a very, very long time.

Our hearts go out to his family.

And I want to thank our political panel for being with us. Frank Sesno here in Washington, Candy Crowley here in Washington, and out in Los Angeles, Frank Del Olmo with "The Los Angeles Times." Good to have you all. Thanks very much.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Getting a read on Laura Bush and where she fits into the history of first ladies.

Move over Oscar, there's a new guy in town with his eyes on prizes for politicians.



BRITNEY SPEARS, MUSICIAN (singing): My heart won't skip a beat...


WOODRUFF: Trust us, there really is a connection between Britney Spears and politics.

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. It has been a rather turbulent week, with the stock market sliding, another school shooting, and plenty of political fireworks over campaign finance reform and tax cuts.

So we thought we would take a break from all of that and begin our final half hour on a decidedly lighter note. As many people look forward to the Oscars on Sunday, our Bill Schneider has been busy hanging -- handing out some awards of his own.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Nearly $10 a ticket for a movie? Forget it! Politics can provide all the drama, thrills and excitement you want.

Just to prove it, we're here today to present the annual awards of the academy of political arts and sciences. So let's break out the popcorn and give a big thumbs up as we pay tribute to the glamour of politics.

Oh, and no stupid production numbers on this show. Let's get right to the point.

(voice-over): The award for best supporting actress. Is there any contest? The winner is Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for the supporting role of her life.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Know this: We will continue to perform our responsibilities and this process with all due speed.

SCHNEIDER: Best film editing? The award goes to GOP political consultant Alex Castellanos for his outstanding achievement in subliminable advertising.


NARRATOR: The Gore prescription plan? Bureaucrats decide.


SCHNEIDER: Best visual effects. The winner was this "gripping" moment from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

Isn't it amazing what politicians can do with special effects these days?

Best sound. The award goes to this choice bit of sound from a Bush-Cheney campaign rally. Big time.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's Adam Clymer, a major league (EXPLETIVE DELETED) from "The New York Times."



SCHNEIDER: That kind of support helped earn Vice President Dick Cheney our next award, for best supporting actor. This is one of those controversial categories where a lot of people thought the winner was really cast in a leading role.

Best original screenplay. The winner is the Supreme Court of the United States. We were looking for a totally originally piece of writing: something dramatic, something so intricate and complex that nobody gets it at first glance. The Supreme Court won for its magnificently convoluted ruling in the courtroom drama, Bush versus Gore.


CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to need a good bit more time to go through this.



ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is now clear what this means is that this is being sent back to the Florida Supreme Court.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What it seems to say at this point is that we don't know for sure.


SCHNEIDER: And now the award for best cinematography. Could anything match the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia for showmanship and pizzazz?


THE ROCK, WORLD WIDE WRESTLING FEDERATION: Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?


SCHNEIDER: The rock music. It was a Las Vegas review: "Diversity on Parade." The Vegas visuals had a message: This is not your father's Republican Party. More specifically, this is not his father's Republican Party.

Best performance by an actor in a leading role has to be Al Gore in "The Three Faces of Al." A different guy in every debate. First debate, bad guy Al.


BUSH: This is a man whose plan excludes 50 million Americans.



SCHNEIDER: Second debate, nice guy Al.


GORE: I agree with that. I agree with that.


SCHNEIDER: Third debate, Al the invader.


BUSH: And I believe I can.



SCHNEIDER: While we're at it, Mr. Gore also wins the award for best makeup. Orange was a whole new look for the vice president.

Best performance by an actress? That goes to Senator Hillary Clinton for her press conference laying out the facts about her involvement in the pardons.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I don't know the answer to that.



CLINTON: I did not know anything about that either.



CLINTON: I had no knowledge of that whatsoever.


SCHNEIDER: What compelling emotion.


CLINTON: I'm very disappointed. I'm very saddened, and I was very disturbed when I heard about it.


SCHNEIDER: In this era of globalism, we can't forget the award for best foreign language film. That goes to George W. Bush for his long-running struggle with the English language.


BUSH: You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.



BUSH: I haven't had a chance to ask the questioners the question they've been questioning.



BUSH: Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.


SCHNEIDER: And who can forget...


BUSH: You know, the idea of putting subliminable messages into adds is -- it's ridiculous.


SCHNEIDER: And now for the best director award. A good director controls chaos, just like James Baker did during the Florida recount.


JAMES BAKER, BUSH ADVISER: The vote in Florida has been counted and the vote in Florida has been recounted. Governor George W. Bush was the winner of the vote, and he was also the winner of the recount.


SCHNEIDER: He da man. But who da picture? We would have nominated "Almost Famous: The Al Gore Story" and "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?" -- the story of George W. and Jeb during the Florida recount.

But the real winner for best picture is "Election Night 2000: The Never-Ending Story." What an epic! The twists and turns! The suspense! The drama! No one knew how it would turn out.

And look at all the new stars it created: Katherine Harris, Judge Burton, Hanging Chad, and a great car chase.

Truly, America had never seen anything like it before. A message to Hollywood: Don't even think about making a sequel.

(on camera): They say politics is show business for ugly people. But they're just jealous, because this year the excitement and drama were here in Washington.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Nothing ugly about Bill, and some of us don't want to ever be reminded about election night. For the post-awards show, we will get back to the issues under debate on Capitol Hill -- campaign finance reform and tax cuts -- with our guests: Jake Tapper and Robert George.


WOODRUFF: Now more on the political matters of the day: Joining us Jake Tapper and Robert George, two of the co-hosts of CNN's new program "TAKE FIVE."

Robert George, let me start with you on taxes, the economy. Is this -- what's happening with the markets, with the economy -- bringing the Democrats and the Republicans together on the president's tax cut plan?

ROBERT GEORGE, CO-HOST, CNN'S "TAKE FIVE": I think in certain ways yes. Both parties seem to agree that the timetable, if nothing else on the taxes, needs to be speeded up, and they're talking about bringing in -- whereas before, most of it was what they call "backloaded," a lot of them not kicking until 2005, 2006 -- now want to start, there's money on the table to talk about 50 billion, 60 billion more up -- right up front.

Now, I think what the Democrats want to do is sort of move it -- move it up front so that they can cut the entire size of it whereas the Republicans want to move the timetable up with the same amount of money.

But there is -- there seems to be a little bit of -- there's general consensus anyway that there has to be some more tax cuts this year.

WOODRUFF: But Jake Tapper, we're really seeing the president more likely now to get what he wants out of this.

JAKE TAPPER, CO-HOST, CNN'S "TAKE FIVE": Well, yes and no. First of all, you have an interesting dynamic with Minority Leader Tom Daschle. I've heard a lot of Democrats this week grumbling that when Bush went to South Dakota to promote his tax plan, Daschle gave him the nice photo-op that created this image of bipartisanism even if there really wasn't any going on. And the truth is right now it looks like the Bush tax plan in the Senate doesn't necessarily have the votes.

But at the same time, while Daschle is, according to some of these rumbling Democrats giving Bush this nice photo-op, Daschle also has this substantive attack at Bush saying, let's lower the marginal -- the lowest marginal tax rate from 15 to 10 percent, we can agree to that tomorrow and have that passed, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

He made that -- that suggestion last week on one of the Sunday shows, and I haven't really heard much about it since. And certainly the Administration, the Bush administration, hasn't really given it much attention. WOODRUFF: Robert George, but the president, just to underline what you were saying, the president is going to get this 60 billion speeded up aspect of it.

GEORGE: Yeah, exactly. And there are -- and there are Republicans who want more, and actually, my paper, "The New York Post," editorial page has also suggested that we not only do need actual more, in a sense, more cash this year, but there should be a faster move on the cutting of the marginal -- cutting of the marginal rates as well.

Speaking to Jake's point about Tom Daschle, I thought actually that was a rather -- that was a rather cunning ploy on Daschle's part, because by doing that photo-op it makes him look bipartisan. And so I think it worked to his advantage as well even though some of the Democrats might have been upset.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both about campaign finance reform: McCain-Feingold moving through the Senate. We're now almost a week down, or I guess we are a week down and one week to go. Jake, is McCain-Feingold looking stronger or not?

TAPPER: Well, it's been a good week for them, for the McCain- Feingold forces. But I think you can't discount whether -- you can't discount the potential of Democrats to fall from the pack. A lot of Democrats -- individuals such as Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, for example, or Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes -- are reportedly very concerned about the fact that taking away soft money would put the Democrats at a disadvantage.

And there are two issues that are going to be coming up that are real tough for the McCain-Feingold forces next week: One will be the issue of nonseverability, whether or not the bill has to stay as one whole regardless if the Supreme Court strikes down a part of it. And the McCain-Feingold forces do not want it to be -- have a nonseverability clause. And it looks like there are about eight Democrats that are a little wobbly on that right now.

The other issue is increasing the hard money limits from 1,000 per individual as they are now to maybe 2,000 or 3,000 or maybe more, and that's also going to be very difficult for individuals to negotiate.

As Oklahoma Senator Nickles yesterday said that he'd be willing to vote for a soft money ban if there was a hard money increase. The question is what -- how high is that hard money increase going to be and can the Democrats come forward with a compromise. Do they even really want to is the real question.

WOODRUFF: Robert George, is the president going to get what he wants out of this, which is certainly a lot less than what McCain- Feingold want?

GEORGE: I doubt it, Judy, which I think suggests that regardless of what happens, if it, you know, if it passes the Senate and then also passes the House, I think, you know, it's probably -- it's facing a Bush -- a Bush veto.

On the -- on the hard money -- on the hard money question, I mean, the limits of a thousand dollars per election cycle for individual candidates, I mean, that's been a hard limit since 1975. So really raising it to 3,000, which a lot of Republicans have been talking about for a while, would really just more or less bring it up to around where -- where inflation is. I mean, so, that seems to be a reasonable thing that I think a number of Republicans would agree with.

Now Bush...

TAPPER: I don't -- I don't disagree with you at all on that, Robert. I mean...

GEORGE: Yeah, I know...

TAPPER: I think $3,300 would be the worth if you added -- indexed it to inflation.

GEORGE: That's right, but...

TAPPER: But there are some individuals like Paul Wellstone that might not want that raised at all out of, you know, out of principle. But there are other Democrats, it's not out of principle. They might make that the deal-breaker because they don't want campaign finance reform to pass.

WOODRUFF: Jake Tapper and Robert...

GEORGE: You mean to say -- you mean to say they'd intentionally break it up, they'd...


TAPPER: We'll hold it for Saturday.

WOODRUFF: Hold that for Saturday. Please hold that thought. We want to know what it is.

Jake Tapper, Robert George, good to see you both, two of the "TAKE FIVE." You can watch the whole gang Saturday nights at 8:30 Eastern.

And straight ahead, beyond the traditional White House photo-ops: a look at the issues and the images that have shaped the role of first lady.

But first, a preview of what's ahead on "MONEYLINE" with Willow Bay -- Willow.

WILLOW BAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Judy. Coming up on MONEYLINE, back in the black on Wall Street. Stocks rallied across the board on hopes that the markets have hit bottom. Plus, we'll take a special look at how the week has been one big stress test for investors: how to cope with a reversal of fortune. And we conclude our Oscar series, "Inside the Megaplex." Theater chains trying to stage a high-tech turnaround.

All of that coming up on "MONEYLINE." More INSIDE POLITICS next after the break.




BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... she had the first cherry trees planted on the Mall.

President Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in 1919. His wife, Edith, screened papers, business and visitors while critics grumped she had become acting president.

But the real first modern activist first lady, of course, was Eleanor Roosevelt: a newspaper column, regular press conferences. So many firsts, and she knew she had to do them all well.


ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: If I didn't do well, it would be a wonderful excuse for them always to say, "Well, no woman can do this work."


MORTON: Perhaps most important, she was the president's chief scout -- went everywhere and told him what was on peoples' minds. Mamie Eisenhower, by contrast, was a more traditional wife. "Ike runs the country," she said, "and I turn the lamb chops."

Jacqueline Kennedy was a glamorous celebrity who spoke French to the French, charmed just about everyone, and didn't much like reporters. "Minimum information given with maximum politeness" was her rule for dealing with them.

Pat Nixon once got her husband to promise to give up politics. He didn't, but she never liked the life and was perhaps the most private of modern first ladies.

Betty Ford was an activist. So was Rosalynn Carter, who went to Cabinet meetings, talked policy with her president husband, and championed the unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment.


ROSALYNN CARTER, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I just don't understand the opposition.


MORTON: Nancy Reagan's cause was saying no to drugs.



AUDIENCE: I will say no to tobacco.

REAGAN: I will say no to illegal drugs.


MORTON: But she was also a power behind the scenes who got Don Regan fired as White House chief of staff.

Hillary Clinton? In charge of the administration's disaster of a health plan. But she mentioned it often while running for the Senate, a first lady first.

CLINTON: But we were not successful in '93 and '94, but we learned a lot from that effort.

MORTON: She learned how to win elections, for instance. Traditional wives, policy voices, women with a cause -- there've been just about as many first lady lifestyles as there've been first ladies.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And finally, if you thought Bob Dole's commercial pitch for Viagra was a departure for a former presidential nominee, you'll want to check out his appearance in a new Pepsi ad scheduled to air during the Academy Awards.

Here now the second half of the whopping 90-second spot. You're going to need to watch carefully for Dole. As you'll see, there are a few distractions before his performance.



The joy of Pepsi, yeah.




WOODRUFF: Who knew Dole was a Britney Spears fan?



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