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Bush Administration Likely to Defer Sale of Advanced Destroyer to Taiwan; Republicans and Democrats Working Toward Compromise on Education

Aired April 23, 2001 - 17:00   ET


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

Is this D-day for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan? We'll have the latest on the Bush administration's sensitive decision.

A year after the Elian Gonzalez drama, is the political fallout still being felt in Florida?



BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What might have appeared to have been a comic premise -- Brooklyn, Hassidic Jews meet American Gothic -- has turned into a clash of cultures that, at times, has gotten downright ugly.


ANNOUNCER: Bruce Burkhardt on religion, politics and small-town America.

ANNOUNCER: Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Key members of Congress may get the word from the White House as soon as this evening about President Bush's decision on arms sales to Taiwan. That decision has taken on heightened political and global importance after the recent U.S. standoff with China. Mr. Bush is widely expected to follow the options recommended by his defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

For details on those options, here is our senior White House correspondent John King.



JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN is told the leading option before the president is to say no, at least for now, to Taiwan's request for four U.S. destroyers with the state-of-the-art Aegis system. Instead, the package would include four Kidd-class destroyers and as many as a dozen P-3 sub-hunting surveillance planes, both designed to address Taiwan's concern about the threat of a Chinese naval blockade.

JAMES STEINBERG, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think this clearly would have a meaningful impact. I think they do respond directly to the evolving balance between the two, and consistent with our obligation to provide meaningful equipment; not just symbolic sales, but things that really do have an impact on Taiwan's legitimate defense capabilities.

KING: Taiwan wants four destroyers with the Aegis radar system to counter the threat of China's growing arsenal of ballistic missiles, but it would take eight to 10 years to deliver them anyway, and top advisers want Mr. Bush to take a carrot-and-stick approach: Say he would be inclined to approve Taiwan's request in a year or two, if there are still some 300 Chinese missiles aimed at the island.

STEINBERG: I think that the Chinese will obviously prefer the fact that Aegis was not sold, but I think that they will react fairly negatively to the notion of this rigid linkage.

KING: Tensions are still high over the collision of a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. surveillance aircraft, and there is evidence of shifting public opinion in the United States. Nearly six in 10 Americans say maintaining relations with China is more important than the return of the U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane, but nearly seven in 10, 69 percent, describe China as unfriendly or an enemy, up from just 43 percent a year ago.


KING: The Taiwan arms debate is a dilemma facing every U.S. president. But even before the recent standoff with Beijing, this year's decision was viewed as the first major test of how the Bush administration will handle its relationship with China -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, to what extent was there any disagreement inside of the administration over how to pursue this?

KING: Well, we are being told by the senior officials that national security team, meaning Secretary Rumsfeld; Secretary Powell; Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, reached a consensus. What we are not being told is to whether there was any kind of a big debate before that.

We do know, if you look through the ranks of the senior officials at the Pentagon and at the State Department, a number of senior officials in this new administration who were critical of the Clinton administration's approach to Taiwan and thought that the United States' government, regardless of who was president, should give Taiwan a more muscular arms package and should be much more candid up- front and say flatly that if China invaded or attacked Taiwan, that the United States would defend the island. WOODRUFF: John, this is one decision. When is the next occasion when the administration will be deciding how much to do for Taiwan?

KING: Well, for Taiwan would be an annual debate over arms and, of course, the former president of Taiwan given a transit visa through the United States. Some debate as to whether to give the current president of Taiwan or other Taiwanese officials transit visas or visas to briefly visit the United States.

China always objects in such cases. The administration saying, though, that those are routine decisions. As for Taiwan itself, next year, there will be another decision on arms and as for the broader U.S.-China relationship, certainly a debate in Congress in the next month or so over trade relations and the administration still debating internally and still seeing how those negotiations over the return of the surveillance plane go before deciding whether, say, to cut off military-to-military exchanges or perhaps to come out and publicly oppose China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King at the White House. Thanks.

The Bush administration is walking a fine line today on a new international incident: The downing of a plane carrying American missionaries by Peru's military, which though the plane was a drug flight. Today, the wounded pilot of that plane said he was shaken by what happened Friday, but he said he's grateful that he and two of his passengers survived. Two others, a woman and her seven-month-old daughter, were killed.

Our national correspondent David Ensor joins us now. David, first of all, tell us what is the Bush administration saying about this incident.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are confirming, first of all, that the plane that was downed was spotted by a surveillance aircraft that had been chartered by the CIA, and had the staff on the plane were contractors of the Central Intelligence Agency. So, this was a U.S. surveillance plane.

Now, also on that plane was a Peruvian military officer, and it was he and his commanders who made the decision to go ahead with this. The White House spokesman said that they have stopped the program for the moment, but they need to get back to it. It's an important program. Here is how he put it:


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has been a good program to help win the war on drugs, and drug trafficking in Peru has dropped remarkably since the program began. So, it's a question of balancing, and obviously, any time a life is lost, it's a tragedy. Also, in fighting the war against drugs, many lives have been saved as a result of the steps that have been taken by the United States' government.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ENSOR: So, they are arguing that they need to look into this, but they need to get back to fighting the war against drugs as soon as possible.

WOODRUFF: Have there been problems with the surveillance planes before?

ENSOR: Yes, there have. In 1992, there was an American surveillance plane that was hit by Peruvian gunfire, and there was -- I understand, but I'm not able to get the details from anyone, that in '97 there was another problem. No one will say exactly what.

But because of these problems, Congress was asked to pass along, and it did, which said that if the U.S. aircrews are involved in this kind of surveillance operation and the Peruvians or the Colombians or some other nation, make a mistake, that the U.S. aircrews should not be held responsible.

WOODRUFF: What is the effect, David, of suspending these surveillance flights?

ENSOR: Well, the effect is to give drug smugglers an opportunity, in the view of many officials, and they would like to get back to shooting down planes as soon as possible. Over the last five or six years, they have shot down or forced down 30 planes, and they have cut the production...

WOODRUFF: That were known to be carrying drugs.

ENSOR: Right, there have been no innocents killed, according to U.S. officials. But 65 percent of Peruvian cocaine production has been cut, as a result, partly. So, they want to get back to it and they are worried about the window of opportunity that's being offered.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Ensor, thanks very much.

President Bush is trying to steer attention today to one of his top domestic priorities, education. As the Senate prepares to take up the issue, Mr. Bush used a ceremony honoring the teacher of the year to promote reform in the schools. He also sent an apparent message to Democrats about the possible price tag.


BUSH: I support historic new levels of education funding. Yet all of us know better schools require more than just funding, and I hope the Senate hears that we need meaningful education reform, by high standards, accountability.


WOODRUFF: For the view from Capitol Hill, we're now joined by our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, first of all, what are Democrats on the Hill saying about this education legislation? JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Democrats are generally upbeat about the prospects for a real compromise with the White House and with Senate Republicans on the education issue. This morning, Tom Daschle talked to reporters and he talked about the contrast between this debate over education and the debate that we just went through before the Senate went on recess over budget and taxes.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: The budget experience was pure confrontation. Their strategy, of course, was to peel off a couple of Democrats, and they lost. This time, they have seen fit to work with us to negotiate with a broad array of members of our caucus, including Senator Kennedy and many others who are very active members in our caucus with regard to education, and that has been a productive experience.


KARL: Now, over the last several weeks, Senator Kennedy and other Democrats have been working with the White House on trying to craft a compromise so that when the education bill finally gets to the floor of the Senate, most of it is agreed to. And in fact, they have made great -- great progress on the policy, if not on the actual funding levels for education.

On policy, they have agreed on a couple of major points. One is testing. They have agreed to have education -- tentatively, of course. Nothing is agreed to until it's finally agreed to -- but tentatively agreed to have education testing for every grade from three to eight. Now, those tests would be designed by the states. They would not be federally designed and also agreed that.

Also, they have agreed that schools that don't meet standards of testing for four years in a row, if they don't meet those standards for four years in a row, they'd have to be reorganized, restructured, reconstituted, possibly under a whole new faculty. The details of that reorganization will be left up to the states.

And finally, they've also agreed that for schools that fail for three years in a row, that parents would be able to receive funding for public school choice to go to another public school or also to get private tutoring services.

What you don't see in any of those compromises, of course, is the vouchers. That was the key issue that divided Democrats and Republicans last year, and for now, White House negotiators and Democratic negotiators here in the Senate have agreed to let the voucher issue -- put it on hold for a while. It'll come up. It will be debated on the Senate floor. But in this agreement that they're working on now, vouchers is not included.

Now, the big remaining sticking point is funding. Daschle said today that the Democrats wanted an increase of $13 billion in educational funding for next year. He said that the White House was talking more like $700 million.

Well, negotiators told me on both sides, that now the difference is somewhere between $9 billion the Democrats are asking for and the White House is willing to go to about $2 billion. That is still a significant difference in funding levels, even as they've agreed to the central policy questions -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jon, what are the other Democrats up there saying about the leadership, having worked so closely with the White House on this?

KARL: Well, some of the liberal wing in the Democratic Party here in the Senate are a little bit uneasy about these negotiations. Paul Wellstone has raised concerns publicly and privately about the reliance on testing. This testing again from every grade, from 3 to 8. Senator Hillary Clinton was in New York today and raising the concerns about the president's proposals.

She was saying that having testing and -- simply having testing is like passing out thermometers when you have a plaque. So, there is some concern on the liberal side of the Democratic Party about the direction that this is going.

But remember, this is Ted Kennedy leading the charge for the Democrats here. So, if there is an agreement between the White House and the Democrats on this, it's expected to pass quite commandingly here in the Senate.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl at the Capitol. Thanks.

There is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next: Elian Gonzalez, one year later. How the political fallout may have doomed Al Gore's plan to become president.

Plus: a tiny Iowa town grapples with an influx of new residents and the political and religious differences they bring with them.

And later:


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 56.2 percent of our citizens are overweight. And about half of those are -- almost half of those are obese.


WOODRUFF: A big city mayor says it is time to cut the fat and he is not talking about he budget. This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: One year ago, in the pre-dawn hours of April 22nd, federal agents took custody of six year old Elian Gonzalez. To mark the one year anniversary of that raid, a small group of Cuban exiles held a vigil yesterday outside the home of Elian's Miami relatives who lost a court battle to keep the boy from returning to Cuba.

As our Bill Schneider reports, the Elian Gonzalez saga had a measurable impact on the Cuban-American community and on the political landscape in Florida.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What was the decisive factor in last year's election? The U.S. Supreme Court? The Clinton scandals? The debates? Or a little boy, shipwrecked in Miami, seized by federal agents one year ago?

The raid by federal agents to take custody of Elian Gonzalez was emotional and dramatic, and so was its impact on Cuban-American voters.

SERGIO BENDIXEN, POLLSTER: It was humiliating to many Cuban- Americans, and the 2000 election was payback.

SCHNEIDER: "El voto castigo (ph)," they called it, the punishment vote. Whom did Cuban-American voters punish? Al Gore and the Democrats.

BENDIXEN: Since the middle '80s, the Democratic Party had been gaining support from the teens, to the low 20s, to the upper 20s, to the mid 30s. The Elian Gonzalez saga reversed that pattern in a rather dramatic way.

SCHNEIDER: Bill Clinton got about 35 percent of the Cuban- American vote in Florida in 1996. In 2000, Al Gore's support dropped to less than 20 percent. Look at the vote in Hialeah, Florida, a predominately Cuban-American suburb of Miami. In 1996, Bob Dole out polled Bill Clinton in Hialeah by about 10,000 votes. In 2000, George W. Bush got nearly 25,000 votes more than Al Gore.

Statewide, it is estimated that Bush got about 50,000 more Cuban- American votes than Bob Dole did, 100 times Bush's certified margin of victory in Florida.

But wait a minute, why did Cuban-American voters punish Gore? Didn't the vice president break ranks with President Clinton in the Gonzalez case? He did. Gore issued a statement urging Congress to pass legislation, granting permanent residency status to Elian and his Cuban family.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it should have gone to a family court.

SCHNEIDER: It turned out to be one of the worst moments of the Gore campaign.

BENDIXEN: He couldn't have done any worse. He turned off a great number of voters nationally because they considered him to be pandering to the Cuban-American community by the position that he took, and he didn't gain any Cuban-American support. SCHNEIDER: Most Americans agreed with the Clinton policy. They wanted Elian reunited with his father. Did the Democrats gain any votes by handling the issue the way most voters wanted? Possibly. About a third of Florida's Hispanic vote is non-Cuban, and non-Cuban Hispanics often resent Cuban-American influence. Among non-Cuban Hispanics, the Democratic vote went up last year. And African- American turnout in Florida was sharply up.

In the end, however, Cuban-Americans were the ones who cared most about the issue. And who will remember.

BENDIXEN: I think it will take a long time for the Democrats to regain the confidence and the support among Cuban-American voters.

SCHNEIDER: Does the Elian Gonzalez experience mean Florida is lost for Democrats? Obviously not, because now Democrats have their own deeply emotional issue to compete with the memory of little Elian: the memory of the Florida recount.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Now looking ahead to the next presidential race, recently, I talked with political oddsmaker, Ron Faucheux of "Campaigns and Elections" magazine. I began by asking him why, of all the Democrats mentioned, Al Gore tops his list as the Democratic favorite in 2004.


RON FAUCHEUX, "CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS" MAGAZINE: Well, ever since the November '96 election, Al Gore has been the front runner for the next Democratic presidential nomination, and it remains the case. If he does in fact run again, and he's able to get together the coalition -- particularly black Democrats and organized labor, it would be very difficult for anybody to beat him. Although, he starts off this time, considerably weaker than he said off four years ago.

Four years ago, we had him at a 60 percent chance of the nomination, which was clearly over 50 percent, and now we have him at about a 42 percent chance, which means he could certainly be beat for the nomination. But at this stage of the game, he is the front runner.

WOODRUFF: Why is he considerably weaker this time?

FAUCHEUX: Well, I think he is weaker because a lot of Democrats don't want to go down that road again. And there has been a lot of grumbling among Democrats recently that they feel like Gore has gone too far underground for too long.

And if they don't have a sense that he's going to come back and fight for issues that they believe in, they don't have the personal loyalty to him that's necessary to hold them there. So I still think he's in a dominant position now. But his position is in jeopardy if he cedes his role as a national leader. WOODRUFF: Now, even though she says she is not running, you have Hillary Clinton as having the next best chance -- what, 11.1 percent chance -- why?

FAUCHEUX: Well, because it's good politics for her to say she's not running for president, ever. Her popularity in New York is not doing particularly well right now in the aftermath of the Clinton exit from the White House. She has to demonstrate to people in New York and around the country that she can do her job as an elected official. So it could be bad politics for her to look like she's a presidential candidate.

But if Gore doesn't run, and we get through the 2002 election and there remains a vacuum, she's the one candidate who has the ability to put together a strong support within the black community and strong support among white women who will vote in the Democratic primaries. So I think we shouldn't precipitously write her off yet as a candidate for next time, at least for the nomination.

WOODRUFF: She certainly has the name recognition.


WOODRUFF: All right, Ron, let's talk about some of the senators that you say have to be taken seriously, here. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Evan Bayh of Indiana.

FAUCHEUX: Well, one of the things is, is that if Gore doesn't get a campaign kicked off on the right foot, as many people are beginning to wonder whether he will or not, and if Hillary Clinton does in fact not run for president, as she has said and as most Democrats believe is the case, then it's possible that Democratic leaders and fund-raisers and politicians around the country will look for a new face. Somebody who can represent the Democratic Party in the next presidential election without the baggage of the Clinton/Gore past, but at the same time, as mainstream Democrats who could build on that.

And somebody like John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, Evan Bayh, the senator from Indiana, would be two prime people for that, and It think both of them are trying to position themselves to become the new face for the Democratic Party.

WOODRUFF: Well, someone you give even less of a chance to is the man who was Al Gore's running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

FAUCHEUX: You know, that's interesting, because Joe Lieberman hit the stage as a vice-presidential candidate with a lot of fanfare, a lot of publicity, a lot of goodwill and good thoughts on the part of Democrats and non-Democrats alike.

But it doesn't seem like the popularity and attention that he has personally, is translating to a presidential choice. So because of that, we do not have him as high as you would think he might be in, given his name recognition. WOODRUFF: You mentioned new faces. Another new face would be John Edwards, the relatively new senator from the state of North Carolina. He was among those Al Gore was considering before he picked Lieberman.

FAUCHEUX: Well, Edwards is perhaps the best campaigner on this whole list. His election to the U.S. Senate from a fairly conservative state demonstrated his ability to appeal and to motivate the Democratic base on the left, while still having some appeal to moderate white conservatives in the middle and on the right side of the spectrum, to some extent, which is the -- a key to ultimately winning the election.

Edwards, his problem, of course, is that he's only been in the Senate for a couple of years, and he doesn't have a depth of experience and a lot of people don't know him. But a lot of Democratic operatives think that he's a hot prospect for the future.

WOODRUFF: All right. Just -- in the less than a minute we have left, Ron Faucheux, what about Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle in the Congress?

FAUCHEUX: Well, Dick Gephardt has a lot of friends in the Democratic Party. There are a lot of people within organized labor who would love to see Gephardt run. In a sea of all these new Democrats who have taken a -- sort of a pro-free trade position, they see Gephardt as, philosophically, their best ally.

So there may be some momentum there, particularly if Gephardt has problems in his own House district for reapportionment, which could be the case between now and the next election.

WOODRUFF: Right. And Daschle?

FAUCHEUX: And Daschle, many people like him. He is perhaps the most powerful Democrat in government today. Although, Senate leaders traditionally have had trouble in presidential politics.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ron Faucheux, "Congressional Quarterly's" campaigns and elections. Thanks very much.

It's fascinating to look at all of this almost four years out. Thanks very much.

FAUCHEUX: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We're keeping those numbers handy to see what happens.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: a political and cultural confrontation in the town of Postville, Iowa. A look at the deeper issues behind tomorrow's unusual city council election.

And, elsewhere in Iowa, dealing with floodwaters, knowing the worst is still to come. The latest on the Midwest flooding and some other top stories, when we come back.


WOODRUFF: We're have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. In about 2 1/2 hours, the U.S. Navy is expected to announce its punishment for submarine Skipper Scott Waddle. As you will recall, Waddle was the captain of the USS Greenville when it rammed and sank a Japanese ship last February. Nine Japanese were killed in the accident.

Waddle's lawyer says he believes his client will receive an honorable discharge and will be allowed to keep his pension. That announcement is expected tonight at 8:00 Eastern. CNN will carry it live.

It took about an hour and a half to put out a fire today in a New York high rise apartment building. The blaze sent clouds of smoke billowing into the building's neighborhood on the east side of Manhattan. Twenty-seven people were injured, most of them firefighters.

Folks in eastern Iowa right now are worried more about water, too much of it. Rivers have yet to crest in places like Davenport, where the National Guard has been on hand to help prepare.

And that's where we find CNN's Bob Franken -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as the National Guard is here managing sand bags, you can see behind me an empty street. And you can see behind me the levee, which has been constructed out of sand bags, which is supposed to be able to accommodate a 23-feet-above flood stage Mississippi River. Right now it's at 21.76 feet. They're expecting it to crest at about 22.

There's also another problem. You can see on the streets that there are certain sand bags there, because they have an antiquated sewage system here, and the water that is being kept out by the levee is overwhelming that sewage system, and periodically causes the streets to buckle.

As a matter of fact, that may be what spills water onto the streets, even if the levee holds. Now, the reason they've constructed that sandbag levee is because they don't have a permanent seawall here. They decided some time ago that they wanted to enjoy the beauty of the river and bring in an awful lot of tourist money, so they never constructed the seawall. So they go through this scramble every time there's a flood threat.

But the situation here is very, very serious. The crest is expected tomorrow night. They're also concerned that it might last for a couple of days and cause some sort of breakdown, just by the fact that it's here so long. All of this has caught the attention, says the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- caught the attention of President Bush.


JOE ALLBAUGH, FEMA DIRECTOR: Very concerned about the flooding, particularly in the Quad Cities area. So he has directed me Thursday to go and pay a visit to the Quad Cities area, particularly in Davenport and Moline. I will be doing that.

We are very concerned about the water. It will take a while for the water to go down, as many of you know. The upstream cities, many of them, I would like to congratulate for doing a great job, learning their lessons from '93 and '97. Taking some steps to move homes out of the way.


FRANKEN: Now, this -- tomorrow should be the big day, Judy. One of the concerns now is the fact that it is very, very windy here. And if the water does crest anywhere near the top of this levee, the wind could also blow the water over the levees and cause even more serious flooding -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Bob, do they feel they have the equipment and the manpower/womanpower to keep this under control?

FRANKEN: Well, they hope they do. They've expressed confidence all along. They feel like at 23 feet they build a levee that should be able to keep the water out. Of course they do have this problem with the sewage system. But they think, they think that they have things under control. We're certainly going to find out.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken reporting from Davenport, Iowa. Thanks. And of course, we'll be watching that story as it develops.

A group of imminent doctor's reports today that it has found no link between a common vaccine and autism. The vaccine in question is MMR, used nationwide against measles, mumps and rubella. The study, by a panel selected by the Institute of Medicine, found nothing to show that the vaccine directly triggers autism.

However, the panel could not exclude the chance that in an extremely small number of cases, the vaccine could play a contributing role. MMR is mandatory as a vaccine for children in all 50 states. Fears about a link to autism were raised by a study out of Great Britain in 1998.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community living in rural Iowa. We'll look at the issues that have developed, both political and cultural, in the town of Postville.


WOODRUFF: Now to an unusual race in the town of Postville, Iowa. Tomorrow, voters there will cast their ballots in a city council special election. A citizen petition forced the election, after Aaron Goldsmith, a Hassidic Jew, was appointed to the city council. His opponent is a Postville native. As Bruce Burkhardt reports, the election is the latest example of the cultural friction in this rural Iowa community. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURKHARDT (voice-over): It seemed to be the stuff of a Hollywood sitcom. Here in Postville, Iowa, smack in the middle of the nation's pork belt, comes a pioneering band of Hassidic Jews. They take an abandoned slaughterhouse and turn it into a highly profitable, kosher meat-packing house, reinvigorating a town that was in danger of drying up and blowing away.

That was almost 15 years ago. Since then, what might have appeared to have been a comic premise -- Brooklyn Hassidic Jews meet American Gothic -- has turned into a clash of cultures that, at times, has gotten downright ugly.

SHARON DRAHN, POSTVILLE "HERALD" LEADER: Look across the street right now.

BURKHARDT: Sharon DR is the editor of the Postville "Herald Leader."

DRAHN: They range from the little things, like not mowing their lawn and not obeying traffic rules, to big things, such as religious differences, the kosher -- not being able to come into your home and enjoy a meal or whatever. Their aloofness.

BURKHARDT: Aaron Goldsmith is a member of the Hassidic community.

AARON GOLDSMITH, CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE: I think the clash of cultures that exists here are the same that exist in any other place where you have people from different walks and different backgrounds.

BURKHARDT: A couple of very different views of the reality here in Postville, a town that for 150 years, has nurtured its own distinctive culture.

Just down the street from the Lutheran church, by far the biggest denomination in town, is an old farmhouse converted to a shul, or synagogue, spiritual home for the roughly 200 Hassidic Jews who now call Postville home.

It;s also the Yeshiva, the Judaic school for boys, whose religion forbids them from attending public schools. This is but one example of what separates the native Iowans from these newcomers with the long black beards.

STEPHEN BLOOM, AUTHOR: No newcomer had come into Postville who simply said, "We don't want to be like you Iowans. Stay away from us."

BURKHARDT: Stephen Bloom, a University of Iowa journalism professor and Jewish himself, spent five years researching his book, "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America." For Bloom, the problems in Postville can't simply be written off to anti-Semitism.

BLOOM: I think that if a colony of French people came up, if a colony of German people came up, and started a factory, or a winery, or a cheese plant, and if they acted as condescending towards locals, the locals wouldn't have liked the French people, the German people as much as they don't like the Jewish people.

GOLDSMITH: He's demonstrated over and over again that he doesn't have an idea what the heck he's talking about.


GOLDSMITH: There weren't any changes from the prior meeting?


BURKHARDT: Aaron Goldsmith does not agree with Bloom's assessment. The only Hassidic leader who would talk to us, Goldsmith was recently appointed -- not elected -- to fill a vacancy on the city council.

GOLDSMITH: The problem is that Mr. Bloom is living with a theory that the melting pot was like it was in the school of grade books in the 1960's. We've already learned that America's greatness doesn't come from making everybody the same, but America's greatness comes from our differences.

BURKHARDT: Among the differences here are money issues. The city has accused the plant of polluting local waters and has levied fines totaling $2 million -- fines that have yet to be paid. The Hassidic owners of the plant contend the fines were levied unfairly.

But Goldsmith, since his appointment, has succeeded in getting the two sides together in front of a federal mediator to try and resolve the problem.

GOLDSMITH: It has nothing to do with Jew verses Christian or anything otherwise. It's a pure business conflict.

DRAHN: They're employing all these people, and so therefore, they're kind of -- want to call themselves our saviors. That upsets, you know, the people that lived here, and their grandparents before them, and their great grandparents before them will say: "This little town wasn't dead before you got here. It isn't dead now, and it wouldn't be dead if you left."

BURKHARDT: Within days of his appointment, a petition was circulating asking for a special election to fill the post.

GOLDSMITH: When I saw the petition come, to me it was a bit of a last gasp for people who want to keep things just as quo.

BURKHARDT: Running against Goldsmith in the special election will be the daughter of the man who started the petition. But Goldsmith is predicted to be the winner, especially since he's taken the lead in mediating long-festering disputes between the city and the slaughterhouse.

DRAHN: It's a delicate situation. BURKHARDT: Delicate because of the collision between two American ideas: the melting pot and assimilation verses another popular notion, preserving one's culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This town just became a small-town Chicago.

BURKHARDT: In Postville, Iowa, Bruce Burkhardt, CNN.


WOODRUFF: And here on Wednesday on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll bring you the results of that the city council race.

Just ahead, a man named Karl Rove and the president's image. "Time" magazine's Jay Carney looks at how the chief political adviser is still shaping the public view of George W. Bush.


WOODRUFF: Being president of the United States is a tough, demanding job, but there are some aspects of it that are fun, as when you get to meet with the champions, the NCAA men's college basketball championships, the Duke University Blue Devils, as President Bush get to meet with them. They're holding up T-shirt with coach Mike Kryzewski of the Blue Devils. We should say the president also met today with the women's college basketball champions of Notre Dame, but we don't have those pictures to show you, just the men.

And joining us now, Jay Carney of "Time" magazine, who has just co-written a profile of a man named Karl Rove, who is the chief political strategist for those in the know, for President Bush. Jay Carney, good to see you again. Refresh our memories, how did Karl Rove and George W. Bush get together in the first place?

JAY CARNEY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, they go back a long way, Judy. Twenty-seven years, in fact, when George W. Bush's father was heading up the RNC. Karl Rove was a young Republican activist who was working for the RNC and the chairman George Bush Sr. gave his keys of his car to Karl Rove so that he could give the keys to his young son, George W. Bush, who was in town and needed wheels for the weekend, I suppose. That's how they met.

But Karl Rove, more importantly, has been the sort of organizer and architect of George W. Bush's political career. He helped him from the very beginning, eight or nine years ago, in making the decision to run for governor in 1994, was the architect of that stunning upset of Ann Richards, the popular Democratic governor, in 1994 and shaped the governor's first four years in office, the reelection battle and the presidential campaign which, of course, he narrowly won.

WOODRUFF: And now, his job in the White House. Is there anything that he is not involved in?

CARNEY: Practically nothing. The one area that he's not supposed to be involved in, foreign policy, he does get involved in simply as a sounding board for the president so the president can know how, basically, an issue will play, like the China crisis, with important constituencies, in this case, anti-China hawks in the Republican Party.

So Karl Rove will sit in, even in important foreign policy meetings. Not all of them, but he has walk-in rights to any meeting he wants in the West Wing.

WOODRUFF: Now, this was something that we heard a lot about during the Clinton administration, the Clinton White House. Was this supposed to be the way things were working in the Bush White House?

CARNEY: Well, it's what they -- they don't want you to believe it's similar, and in some ways it's not. But the fact is that this George Bush, unlike his father, understands that to succeed in politics at this time in American life, you need to fuse. You need to have a keen sense of both policy and politics and the way they interweave, and that's what Karl Rove does for George W. Bush.

His father disdained politics. After he won election, he sent his political advisories out in the wilderness, not inviting them back until it was time for reelection. Rove has not and will not leave the president's side. He has a nice office in the West Wing and he will be there the entire time.

WOODRUFF: Let me just ask you: What is -- you say at one point in this article that as much as anybody else, other than the president himself, Karl Rove will determine the success or failure of this presidency. He has that much influence?

CARNEY: He does, because the president trusts him so much. Now, critics will say that Karl Rove is the president's brain, because George W. Bush has been criticized for not being all that substantive. But on the matter of politics and on how policy and politics play together, Karl Rove basically writes the script that George W. Bush follows.

So, when Bush takes positions that have a political aspect to them, that will affect his political standing and his chances of reelection, those positions are given to him by Karl, Karl Rove, and I think that if the Republicans lose the House, either house of Congress in 2002, if George W. Bush loses the re-election race in 2004, a lot of this will be at the doorstep of Karl Rove.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jay Carney, we're going to have to turn away from you now for just a moment because we know from John King at the White House that the president has now made a decision with regard to sophisticated arm sales to Taiwan.

John, do you want to tell us what you've learned?

KING: That's right, Judy. The president has made his decision, and key members of Congress being briefed at this hour. As expected, and as we have been reporting, the president accepting the advice of his top national security advisers and deciding, for now, to say no to Taiwan's request for the state-of-the-art Aegis radar system, that system aboard Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Instead, the president saying he will to Taiwan four Kidd-class destroyers. They are 1970s vintage. The four in question originally ordered by the shah of Iran. They will be updated, we are told, with a more modern radar system, still not the state-of-the-art system that Taiwan had requested, and then sold to Taiwan.

Taiwan will also get a dozen of the P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft. They are know as sub-hunters. They fly over the water and can detect submarines flying below. And the administration has agreed to help Taiwan purchase diesel-powered submarines. Now, the United States no longer makes diesel-powered submarines, so it will have to find a friendly third nation. But the administration will commit to Taiwan, CNN is told, to try to help it purchase some submarines as well.

The administration also moving, in these conversations now under way with key members of Congress, to assure conservatives, who wanted a more muscular arms package to Taiwan, who wanted the administration to give Taiwan that Aegis radar system, that president and other administration officials will make clear in their private conversations with the Chinese that the president is open to such a sale a year or two down the road, if China continues its build-up of short- and intermediate-range ballistic misses across the Taiwan Straits. U.S. officials saying China now has about 300 of those missiles, is adding about 50 a year.

Mr. Bush will make clear. both in an effort to send a message to Beijing and in an effort to quiet any conservative criticism from within his own party, that he is open to selling the Aegis system down the road a bit unless China stops its missile build up.

WOODRUFF: John, just quickly, if you can hear me, why not do the Aegis system now?

KING: Number one, many at the pentagon believe that Taiwan's military is not up to speed, and it would take eight or 10 years to develop and to build, develop and sell the system anyway. So, on the one hand, the president does want to so anger Beijing that it spoils the relationship. On the other hand, there are conservatives in the Congress who think that China's recent conduct shows that the president should side with Taiwan in these things. So, we're told the president will try to strike a balance, saying not now, but that he's open to it in the future unless China reduces the missile threat.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting at the white house. And now, still with me here in the Washington studio, "Time" magazine's Jay Carney. Jay, two questions: Number one, on the conservative reaction to this, what are they likely to say about this decision?

CARNEY: Well, the administration very wisely telegraphed that this decision was coming. There was a lot of anonymous sources who talked about in the media how the president would basically split the difference: Not sell the Aegis system now, after all, it wouldn't be ready for nearly a decade, but indicate that he would open to the idea of selling it to Taiwan later.

So, I think most conservatives, with the possible exception of some very, pretty much fringe elements, will be satisfied with this decision. I think that if there are more crises with China, there'll be more pressure on the president to take stronger action. But for now, I think he'll probably get away without much trouble on this one.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Jay Carney, thanks very much for the story about Karl Rove and for this. We appreciate it. Thank you.

CARNEY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Coming next, remember Jacqueline Kennedy. A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates her life and her influence on fashion and the arts.


WOODRUFF: An exhibition opening May 1st at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will showcase the style and fashion of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Among the highlights are clothes that Mrs. Kennedy wore during the 1960 presidential campaign, during her time in the White House and on overseas state visit. At a preview today, Kennedy's daughter. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, spoke of her mother's love of history and sense of style.


CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS'S DAUGHTER: Like my father, she believed that American civilization had come of age, and together they celebrated American arts and letters, encouraged Americans to take pride in our artistic as well as in our political heritage. For me and for those who knew my mother, she will always be a part of us and of our lives, and she will always grace the history she helped to make. With her owns sense of style, she interpreted values and represented President Kennedy and America in a way that captured the world, and still does.


WOODRUFF: For more on the Jacqueline Kennedy exhibition, we are now joined by Harold Holver, vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Holver, why put this exhibition together?

HAROLD HOLVER, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART: Well, Judy, it's the 40th anniversary of Jacqueline Kennedy's emergence into a national and international consciousness as first lady. It seemed a really appropriate time for this retrospective and this celebration.

WOODRUFF: What do her clothes tell us about her as a woman and as first lady?

HOLVER: Well, I think what have here is a woman who was an iconic style symbol during her administration and during the Kennedy administration. They reveal a deep love of world history, a sense of different cultures in forming her style, the same way different cultures have formed the entire tapestry of American life.

WOODRUFF: Now, how would clothes do that?

HOLVER: Well, we all remember the impact she made, either at the inauguration or in her inaugural suit with a mink muff on January 20, 1961. We remember the way she softened Nikita Khrushchev on state visits to the United States, the impact she had on Charles de Gaulle during the visit to Paris, and she carried this off with an innate elegance, a reverence for history that informed her clothing as well as her work restoring the White House and all the other activities that she conducted to preserve history, to advance culture and the arts during the Kennedy administration.

WOODRUFF: And Mr. Holver, what would you say is the message that comes down through the years to the rest us, to other first ladies, in terms of what she was able to accomplish by doing this, by wearing these clothes?

HOLVER: Well, I think Jacqueline Kennedy represented the best of America, the highest aspirations of education, of culture, of learning, of beautification, of respect and reverence for America's historic legacy, and we're just grateful that the Kennedy family has allowed to produce this retrospective.

The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston has loaned us all of these garments that she wore in the 1960s. L'Oreal and Conde Nast have sponsored the exhibition, so it's a wonderful collaboration that's allowed us to revive a moment in time that is four decades old. It's hard to believe, but it's 40 years ago.

WOODRUFF: Some of it looks very today, should we say?

HOLVER: It's timeless, isn't it?

WOODRUFF: It certainly is. Harold Holver, vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we thank you very much for joining us.

HOLVER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. And just ahead, an update on the weekend downing of a civilian airplane in Peru. We'll have the latest on why the Peruvian military opened fire on the plane, killing a American missionary and her daughter.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. This is Judgment Day for the skipper of the USS Greeneville, the submarine that slammed into the Japanese research vessel back in February. Our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us now with the details on Commander Scott Waddle's punishment -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not much of a surprise, Judy. Admiral Tom Fargo, who is the commander of the Pacific fleet, pretty much followed the recommendation of the court of inquiry which found that Scott Waddle was not guilty of willful misconduct, and simply failed to do everything that should have been done when that submarine was surfacing.

Admiral Fargo has given Scott Waddle a career-ending, written reprimand, along with a suspended fine and then in the administrator fine here in Honolulu. The fine was one half of his salary for two months, effectively one month's salary, and that's suspended so long as Waddle does not get in any trouble. He will not have much time to get in trouble. Only a few months to stay in the Navy. He's putting in his papers to retire. If he gets passed may, he'll be able to retire at a full pension after serving 20 years in the Navy. But his career is over.

In addition, sources say that Admiral Fargo gave less severe verbal reprimands, essentially dressing down to two other officers, Robert Brandhuber, who was the senior officer onboard the submarine. He was the escort for those 16 civilians. He was essentially chewed out by the admiral for not intervening and not recognizing that things were not going well.

And in addition, the submarine's officer of the deck, Lieutenant Michael Coen, also got a verbal reprimand and not necessarily career ending. And in addition, Admiral Fargo has recommended that there be a review of the procedures for approving of who goes on these -- what the Navy call the civilian embarks, where the civilian VIP's go aboard Navy ships. And in particular, he is recommending that they not allow any civilians at the controls of ships or submarines when conducting critical maneuvers, such as the emergency surfacing procedure that the USS Greenville was going through when it hit the Japanese training vessel -- Judy

Jamie, quickly, to many, this will seem like a very light punishment indeed for the deaths of nine people. How does the Navy justify this?

MCINTYRE: Well, the Navy says that it does not want to criminalize in what is essentially a mistake. Again, the court did not find that Scott Waddle was criminally negligent or that he willfully neglected his duties, simply that he didn't do as well as he should have. That is a mistake and the Navy says that there has to be accountability for that, and this accountability is the end of his career.

But they don't want to make criminalized every time that somebody makes a mistake.

WOODRUFF: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thanks.

The Bush administration is trying to limit the finger pointing, as it investigates the shooting down of a plane carrying American missionaries. The White House declined today to directly blame the government of Peru for Friday's deadly incident. But, it says procedures for U.S. Drug Interdiction assistance were "not followed." Our national security correspondent David Ensor has the latest on the mistakes that were made.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ENSOR (voice-over): The missionary plane was spotted crossing into northern Peru by a U.S. surveillance aircraft, part of a U.S.- Peruvian joint effort to stop drug runners. The Pentagon-owned Cessna Citation had a three-man American crew, contractors for the CIA, and a Peruvian lieutenant colonel, who, with ground commanders, U.S. officials say called in a Peruvian fighter to shoot down the plane. The CIA contractors, say officials, tried to talk him out of it, arguing the plane's tail number should first be checked.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: Our folks did raise questions and were trying to hold the Peruvians back from action, but again, all these things will be looked at very thoroughly so that we and the Peruvians both understand what happened.

ENSOR: Peruvian cocoa production and drug exports have been cut by about 65 percent, say U.S. officials, in part because of the Joint Air Interdiction Program, which has shot down or forced down at least 30 planes in the last six years, without killing any innocents, officials say, until the death Friday of an American missionary and her baby daughter.

BOUCHER: Drug trafficking in Peru has dropped markedly since the program began, so it's a question of balancing, and obviously anytime a life is lost, it's a tragedy. Also in fighting the war against drugs, many lives have been saved as a result of the steps that have been taken by the United States government.

ENSOR: U.S. officials are saying there will be no more planes shot down while Peru and the U.S. investigate the tragedy. One Senate Republican says that investigation should be done on an urgent basis.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I think there should be a very quick review to learn exactly what happened, how it can be prevented in the future, and then resume the flights, so that the bad guys don't think they can get away with these illicit drug flights.


ENSOR: In fact, U.S. officials say, an inter agency task force is now being assembled to head down to work with Peruvian investigators -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And David, just preliminarily, the administration is saying, they're not blaming the Peruvian government, the government officials, but privately they are clearly concerned about how this happened, right?

ENSOR: Yes, and they're not accepting any U.S. blame at this point. So, it would seem that they believe mistakes were made by Peruvian military officials.

WOODRUFF: All right. David Ensor, thank you.

Also on the international front: U.S. officials say President Bush has decided not to grant Taiwan's request to buy hi-tech U.S. destroyers equipped with the aegis combat radar system, at least for now. But Taiwan will be able to obtain the less powerful class of warship to use as a buffer against China. In Taiwan, Mr. Bush's decision may be greeted mixed emotions. The matter is the source of some political dispute in the capitol, Taipei, as our senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy explains.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taiwan's armed forces training to repel a Chinese attack. There's little disagreement here on the danger China poses. It under-pins the island's request to buy advanced weapons, including multi billion- dollar ultrasophisticated aegis anti-missile systems, from the United States.

ERICH SHIH, EDITOR, "DEFENSE INTERNATIONAL:" The short-range ballistic missiles are the most terrible weapon to Taiwan, because we have no weapon -- almost to defend the ballistic missile.

CHINOY: But as Washington make its decision, there are sharp divisions of opinions here on the wisdom of acquiring aegis. After so many years of international isolation, many worry Taiwan's armed forces lack both the resources and the technological capability to deploy such a complex system.

TIM TING, GALLUP TAIWAN: We have to spend a lot of money and we will need a lot of high-tech and highly trained people to use it. I don't think that's the weapons system we need right now, and I don't think we are capable of absorbing aegis.

CHINOY: Indeed, some critics claim Taiwan's entire arms procurement policy is based as much on politics as it is on military considerations.

ANDREW YANG, COUNCIL OF ADVANCED POLICY STUDIES: Getting aegis, you have more weight on the political commitment from the U.S. It's a very big political symbol.

CHINOY: President Chen Shui-Bian has lobbied strongly for the island's entire shopping list, including an upgrade to the its current U.S. patriot anti-missile batteries, anti-submarine aircraft, and replacements for Taiwan's tiny fleet of subs, two of which date back to the second World War. This, despite China's warning of a sharp response to any major arms sale and signals from Washington that Taiwan may not get all it's asked for.

In fact, from Taiwan's point of view, the U.S. decision on what to sell may turn out to be less important than how that decision is presented, whether it serves to reassure an increasingly nervous island that the U.S. will stand behind it if tensions with China get worse.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Taipei.


WOODRUFF: Here in the U.S., the job of making schools safer never ends.

When we return: Ron Brownstein talks with a school security chief in Miami about the challenges of stopping school violence, before it happens.


WOODRUFF: After the shootings at Columbine High School and with every school shooting since, the search for ways to prevent school violence has gained real urgency. And while Washington has been stuck in a seemingly endless debate over gun control, the people most directly responsible for keeping our children safe in the states themselves have been trying out some creative new solutions.

CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" traveled to Florida's Miami Dade County recently to get a ground-zero perspective from a police officer charged with the daunting task of protecting 360,000 students.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It was a tragedy so shocking that it can now evoke every parent's worst nightmare in a single word: Columbine. Among the casualties at that suburban Colorado high school two years ago was the illusion that schools were islands of safety in a violent society. Since then -- from Conyers, Georgia to Santee, California -- the pictures have become depressingly familiar: students fleeing, SWAT teams scurrying, survivors telling reporters they thought it was a firecracker until they saw the blood.

Federal statistics say that crime in the schools is falling and that violent deaths on school grounds, always rare, have declined by almost a third in five years. But after Columbine, every principal, student, teacher, and parent asked the same question: Can it happen here? It's the question looming every day for Pete Cuccaro, the chief of police for the Miami-Dade school system.

CHIEF PETE CUCCARO, MIAMI-DADE SCHOOLS: The one thing that we know is there is no one common denominator. They cross ethnic bounds, they cross economic bounds. In fact, some schools where you would expect there be no problems are exactly where the problems were.

The idea is to be able to be "cognizantly" aware that perhaps a number of kids have a potential. But it's tough to single out kids. There are a lot of good kids that are right on the edge.

BROWNSTEIN (on camera): It's been two years since Columbine. Has that changed the way you approach school security in a big-city district like this?

CUCCARO: No question. I think all over the country, you know, people are perhaps more aware of the kind of stimulation that kids are exposed to. You know, they have a certain physiological age and the maturity factor hasn't caught up. We bombard kids today with communication that when you stop and think about it goes way beyond what you and I were ever used to when we were growing up. We're talking about the Internet. We're talking about TV. We're talking about radio. We're talking about CDs. We're talking about tapes. We're talking about vinyl, if they still have them.

Kids are really, really bombarded.

BROWNSTEIN (voice-over): The Miami-Dade school district has been among the nation's most imaginative in combating the risk of school violence. It aims to keep a full-time armed police officer in every middle school and high school. It deploys mobile metal-detecting units that conduct random, unannounced sweeps every day to discourage students from carrying guns or weapons to class.

And yet Chief Cuccaro knows there's only so much that can be done after students cross the school house door.

CUCCARO: The responsibility starts at home. It starts with the parents. You know, the kinds of problems that we see in schools -- and I'm talking about in our school system and every other school system and perhaps some of those worst-case scenarios -- you know, that all started at home. There was some issue in the home, and perhaps it was something that the parents didn't know and should have known.

To think that the problems start after kids walk into school and are there on a daily basis, that would be the wrong way to think.

BROWNSTEIN (on camera): After these shootings this spring, in fact, the president's principal focus and his response, his initial response was parents: Parents have to do a better job parenting their kids.

Is that the critical variable in your mind or is that really a variable outside of your control and you've got to plan beyond it?

CUCCARO: No, I think it starts at home. I think that certainly when kids come to school they have to be in the kind of environment that's conducive to communication. As I said to you earlier, I mean, kids are bombarded with all kinds of stimulation today that goes beyond what they could have ever thought, what we could have ever thought.

They need to be, I think, taught how to handle themselves responsibly, and that -- again, I have to go back and say that starts in the home. It doesn't start in school.

Do schools contribute to it? Do educators contribute to what kids should know on a day-to-day basis? Absolutely. But there's a formal education and then there's that informal education that occurs in every social setting. That happened for all of us as we were growing up.

BROWNSTEIN: It's the endless debate. Are there gun control measures that could help?

CUCCARO: You know, I'm not a proponent of gun control as much as I'm a proponent of we need to make sure that whoever has guns uses them responsibly. Do we need to do more than we're doing? Absolutely, OK. And have we made some really good strides over the last few years with some of the legislation at the state level, at the county level and at the federal level? Absolutely. But when you stop and think of what guns can do to our young people and how immature some of them are -- and we've seen that in how they use them -- we need to be doing a whole lot more.

BROWNSTEIN: Does the news media glamorize these incidents? Does it encourage copycat violence?

CUCCARO: No, I wouldn't say that. I think that the media is in a position to kind of put out the word. And in fact, in my opinion, I think that they've raised the awareness level, as they should. That's what their role is in society.

I think that that's what causes school boards like this one to take a look at what it is that we're doing, evaluate it, making certain that we're doing the best we can possibly do: not from just an enforcement perspective, but from an education perspective and everything that has to weigh in between.

BROWNSTEIN: One area where the president does want to spend more money is character education in the schools, trying to have classes that reinforce messages of right and wrong. How valuable could that be?

CUCCARO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, our adage here is prevention, intervention, and enforcement as a last resort.

You know, we have school resource officers, as you pointed out, in every middle school and every high school. It doesn't mean that we want to be that person that's making a decision that affects a kid's life. I mean, that's something that certainly the administrators know these kids better than we do. When we get involved, it's because an administrator, for the most part, has invited us to be involved. We don't like to self-initiate any kind of enforcement activity. We like to get to know these kids, be that role models, provide that communication to make a difference in that sense.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, it gets overshadowed because of these admittedly tragic high-profile incidents, the shootings in schools, but the crime rate in schools nationwide has been going down the last few years. It certainly is going down here in Miami-Dade.

What's going right? Why do you think it is going down? And do you have a handle on why it's going down?

CUCCARO: Well, I think that there's a lot of people that would point to all of the different things that are occurring in unison. Our partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, the sharing of information, the work that the school administrators, the teachers are doing in the classroom. Certainly, their -- their awareness level is up in terms of what to look for in kids that perhaps are right on the edge of doing something criminal and are not there, and so they can move them back before they do.

We have trust counselors in high schools, where having nothing to do with GPA or your grades in schools, if you have an issue, you can bring it to a trust counselor. You can help -- they can help you talk through what they perceive might be a good resolution for that particular person.

If we -- if we take a kid into custody because there was some sort of a criminal event that we could not ignore and we get them to the juvenile assessment center, we check their background, we want to make sure what family setting is. We want to make sure that when they go before the judge, the judge is going to make the kind of decision that's in the best interest of the child. That's what we're here for.

BROWNSTEIN: So in the end, when you look at the totality of the challenge that you're dealing with, is it primarily a law enforcement problem or an educational problem? Is it a question of getting the right security techniques or finding new ways to reach kids?

CUCCARO: I think it's a social problem. I mean, there's no -- I mean, again, you can't compartmentalize it. The people that try to do that I think would be missing something, because there are so many pieces to this puzzle.

These kids represent our future. They are the best that we can hope to have 20 and 30 years from now. These are the decision-makers of the future.

We don't want to do anything to interrupt that process except in the best positive way.

BROWNSTEIN: Chief Cuccaro, thank you.

CUCCARO: You're welcome. Thank you.


WOODRUFF: Ron Brown -- Brownstein.

Philadelphia is famous for a lot of things, including its cuisine. But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Up next, many mayors promise to trim the fat, but never quite like this.


WOODRUFF: There is more INSIDE POLITICS coming up. But first, let's go to Willow Bay for a preview of what's ahead at the bottom of the hour on "MONEYLINE."

Hi, Willow.


Coming up on "MONEYLINE," the decision on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. It's an explosive issue in politics, of course, but also in business. We'll take a look.

And tech trouble strikes again: the Nasdaq plunging. Is the rebound retreating as fast as it arrived? And did you say "rebound"? It's the buzz of the moment in basketball. Will Michael Jordan return to the court? And would it mean an NBA comeback? All that and more coming up on "MONEYLINE" at 6:30 Eastern.



WOODRUFF: It is usually a point of pride when a city comes in at the top of a national ranking. But when Philadelphia was rated as the nation's fattest city, the city's mayor did not take the title sitting down.

Here's CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the sound of Philadelphia: a sizzling, steaming, cheese-whiz-dripping cheese steak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, now I don't know how many calories it has, but it tastes real good.

FEYERICK: But like other tasty famous Philly foods, there's a drawback.

GWEN FOSTER, HEALTH & FITNESS DIRECTOR: 56.2 percent of our citizens are overweight, and about half of those, almost half of those are obese.

FEYERICK: So what's a mayor to do?


FEYERICK: If you're John Street, whose ideal vacation is a 68- mile bike ride, the answer's simple. He's put the entire city on a diet, with weigh-in sites and free fitness programs.

(on camera): Putting the city on a diet, isn't that impossible?

STREET: I don't think so. We've had 30,000 sign up and say they're interested in improving the quality of their life, changing their lifestyle.

FEYERICK (voice-over): One of the mayor's volunteer foot soldiers in the war on fat is Susan Taylor-Niang (ph). She herself has dropped 50 pounds.

Armed with a scale, she goes door to door in her south Philadelphia neighborhood, signing up would-be dieters, convincing them of the dangers of bad eating. SUSAN TAYLOR-NIANG: On any given day, you can talk to anyone and they'll tell you about a family member who just had a stroke.

FEYERICK: The 10-step, corporate-sponsored program centers on eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water and working out.

(on camera): The mayor has no doubt that Philadelphia will reach its goal and lose 76 tons of fat in 76 days. Maybe, maybe not. Because places like Jim's Steaks are still packed.

Critics think the nearly $80,000 salary for the city's first fitness czar could be better spent. But the mayor sees long-term gains.

STREET: It's something that will reduce our overall health care costs in the entire city.

FEYERICK: Susan Taylor-Niang is teaching her daughter and grandkids how to eat healthy. Her personal weight goal?

TAYLOR-NIANG: I want to be one-something. I've been two- something maybe for about 20 years; maybe 15, 20 years, 200-and- something. I want to be -- I don't care if it's 199. I just want to be able to say I'm one-something.


FEYERICK: Laugh all you want, a Houston, Texas delegation recently came to town to get some diet pointers.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Philadelphia.


WOODRUFF: Some of us in Washington could use the same program.

Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's AOL keyword: CNN.

And this programming note. CNN plans live coverage of the Navy's official announcement tonight concerning Commander Scott Waddle. CNN learned that Waddle will receive a letter of reprimand, ending his Navy career. The announcement is expected at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Judy Woodruff. "MONEYLINE" is next.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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