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New Violence in Middle East Brings Calls for U.S. Intervention; President Bush Promotes His Energy Policy

Aired May 18, 2001 - 17:00   ET


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


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Violence will make it so difficult for there to be any political settlement.


ANNOUNCER: New attacks in the Middle East add to the pressure on the White House to do more to pursue peace. President Bush hopes some action on the waterfront will help shore up support for his new energy plan. And federal funding for some doctors is under the budget knife. But is this a program that refuses to die?

Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

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

The Bush White House already seemed to be stepping back some of its original hands-off approach to Middle East peace. But new bloodshed is adding new urgency to those who are calling on the administration to take action.

Let's get the latest now from our senior White House correspondent, John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, both the president and Secretary of State Colin Powell distracted and indeed needing to spend much of their time today focusing on one of the bloodiest days in recent memory in the Middle East, this despite an administration effort to focus on diplomatic overtures to Russia.

Now, both the president and the secretary of state saying that the violence needs to come to an end: Secretary Powell promising to make fresh contacts in the region in the very near future: this as the administration deals with what has become an all-too-frustrating, all- too-familiar cycle.


KING (voice-over): More deadly violence in the Middle East, this time a suicide bombing at an Israeli shopping center. A condemnation from the White House, another call for an end to the killing.

BUSH: It is essential that the leaders in the Middle East speak out clearly against violence. We must break the cycle of violence in order to begin meaningful discussions about any kind of political settlement.

KING: But within hours, more violence: Israeli fighter jets and rockets strike Palestinian security posts in retaliation for the bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is your right to send a message to the president of the United States.

KING: These Palestinians outside the White House complain Mr. Bush should do more, and a peace process veteran of prior administrations suggests a major new U.S. initiative.

DENNIS ROSS, FORMER MIDEAST SPECIAL ENVOY: Daily outrages are overwhelming the efforts that have been made that to this point have obviously not succeeded. So I think one is going to have to think about something that has greater drama in it if you're going to reverse what is a descent into communal violence.

KING: Egypt and Jordan are pushing one new peace proposal, and a new report by a U.S. commission led by former Senator George Mitchell also offers a framework for resuming talks. Both call for a cease- fire, a pullback of Israel troops from positions taken during recent tensions, and implementation of previous agreements. Israel objects to two conditions: ending expansion of Jewish settlements and resuming peace talks at the point where they left off.

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Violence is increasing and the culture of peace, nourished so -- with such difficulty over the past eight years, is being shattered and replaced with a culture of despair and violence.

Notwithstanding that, it is my view that even though there is huge mistrust on both sides, the vast majority of people don't want this conflict to continue.

KING: Secretary of State Powell says he hopes the Mitchell report offers a path to a cease-fire.


KING: And Powell promises to be in touch with leaders in the region in the very near future: another round of diplomatic contacts but another day of frustration here at the White House. This administration saying before you can have any diplomacy, any talks, both the Palestinians and the Israelis must stop back from the violence -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, anyone in the administration acknowledging that perhaps they underestimated what might happen in the Middle East if they didn't stay closely engaged? KING: No, they're very frustrated, but remember, this violence now dates back eight months, into the final months of the Clinton administration. And it is the belief of this White House that for all the effort President Clinton put into the peacemaking that it was a simple fact at the end of the Clinton administration that the Israelis and the Palestinians -- especially the Palestinians -- were not prepared to make the choices necessary for a peace agreement at that time.

This president's philosophy is quite simple: that the parties in the region must decide they want to stop the violence, then the United States can step in and broker some diplomacy, although as you heard Dennis Ross, many others saying that they're not necessarily critical of the Bush administration. They just simply say what this administration has done so far is not working and that they're going to need to try something else soon.

WOODRUFF: But John, quickly, no sign yet the administration agrees with those views.

KING: Watch what happens when Secretary Powell contacts leaders in the region. We know he's trying to meet with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader soon. Secretary Powell now has the ball in his court.

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

President Bush tried today to convey a can-do attitude as he continued to promote his new energy strategy. That led him to Pennsylvania and a waterfront signing ceremony.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on Mr. Bush's sales pitch.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day two of President Bush's traveling road show took him to a hydroelectric dam along the Susquehanna River in eastern Pennsylvania. The dam has a special feature, a fish lift, helping to restore the American chad to the Susquehanna.

BUSH: It goes to show that economic growth and a good environmental policy do not have to be zero sum.

WALLACE: Two messages on this day: that Mr. Bush is already implementing his plan, signing two new executive orders, including one speeding up the permitting of new power plants.

The second message: that Mr. Bush's plan is a balanced approach and that conservation alone won't help struggling states such as California.

BUSH: But the problems in California show that you cannot conserve your way to energy independence.

WALLACE: On the day he unveiled his proposals, Mr. Bush visited a Minnesota plant that burned wood chips as well as coal and touted other alternative fuels in Iowa, such as biomass. The emphasis on energy efficiency, analysts say, seems to be an attempt to counter critics who say his plan pays lip service only to conservation.

JAMES THURBER, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think the environmentalists and the Democrats will coalesce together and try to peg him as overly supportive of the oil industry and industry generally in America.

WALLACE: Members of the Republican rank-and-file in the House are concerned they will pay a price in next year's election, and therefore, press the White House to offer some short-term solutions.

MARSHALL WHITTMAN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: First and foremost, they want to relieve the headache at the pump immediately. The great nightmare for Republicans is that this summer voters will be hopping mad when they go to fill up their SUV when they go on the long vacation tour.

WALLACE (on camera): What may be telling, some strategists say, is just how much Republican lawmakers sell the president's plan when they head back to their districts. Mr. Bush certainly needs their support as he tries to convince Congress his recipe is the right one for the country's energy needs.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Conestoga, Minnesota.


WOODRUFF: While the president hopes to encourage the construction of more power plants, a force known as "NIMBY" is working against him.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve has been looking into NIMBY and how it has helped to create the energy crunch.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could be dirty, could be dangerous, could be disruptive, and is, most certainly, big and ugly. Who would want a power plant in their neighborhood?

BRENT BLACKWELDER, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: You don't. I don't. Put it someplace else.

MESERVE: It's called the NIMBY phenomenon, for "not in my backyard," and the energy industry says it's been a huge problem in building power plants, like the one planned near this Coyote Valley, California community.

ISSA AJLOUNY, SANTA TERESA COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP: You have a park there, county parks -- they're trails -- and you don't want to be sitting there, going on a trail with your family, and there's this humongous building putting out pollutants. MESERVE: Among opponents to this proposed plant: Internet giant Cisco Systems. Though Cisco's computers suck up electricity, it says no power plant, not here.

Does that strike you as hypocrisy?

THOMAS KUHN, EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE: Well, it is -- you know, it is always easier for them to say, let's do it 50 miles away, but then we have to figure out whether or not the people 50 miles away would like the facility, and then secondly, you have to worry about the transmission system.

MESERVE: And the public doesn't want those in their backyard either.

BLACKWELDER: They are noisy and visually disruptive. And second, there's concern about the electromagnetic radiation, and there is a batch of conflicting studies about what are these impacts.

MESERVE: The power industry says more transmission lines are critically needed, but because the lines go from here to there, without benefiting the communities they pass through, they have given rise to a new phenomenon called "What's in it for us?" or WIIFU. A cousin of NIMBY, it is as problematic when it comes to finding a route for lines.

The administration's answer: Give the federal government the power to claim land for transmission lines through eminent domain.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: To talk about running new power lines all over America with eminent domain, I mean, you'll have people laying in roads. It just won't happen.

REP. RICHARD POMBO (R), CALIFORNIA: This particular legislation, I think, we're going to have some battles over.

MESERVE: Though Congressman Richard Pombo is a member of the president's party and represents energy-strapped California, he is also a staunch property rights advocate.

POMBO: The right of the individual has to be protected, and just because it may be for the greater good of society, the greater good of the U.S., that's great, but that doesn't override the rights of the individual.

MESERVE (on camera): The bush plan also calls for more power plants and a possible loosening of environmental standards. Environmentalists claim this could lead to a spread of NIMBY fever. If that's the case, the energy industry says the power of the people could keep power from the people.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Our weekly political roundtable tackles energy and the other big issues of the week, later in the hour. But first, the showdown over a new solicitor-general. Senate power sharing put to the test: the difficult road ahead for nominee Ted Olson.


KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Also ahead, the Bush budget blueprint says a physician shortage was looming 40 years ago, but today a physician shortage no longer exists.


WOODRUFF: A federal spending program with staying power: CNN's Kate Snow on the latest attempt to cut a 40-year-old doctor training program.

And later...


BUSH: Viva Cuba libre.



WOODRUFF: ... the president celebrates Cuban Independence Day and stays in touch with an important political voting block. This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: This week on Capitol Hill saw a political odd-couple meeting behinds the scenes and new talk of a party-switching senator. With the latest on those stories and the standoff over the president's choice for solicitor-general, I'm joined by CNN congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Jon, first, this tie vote in one committee putting this whole power-sharing arrangement to a test.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The Ted Olson nomination being effectively blocked right now by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who say that they do not believe that Olson has been forthcoming in answers to questions about his involvement in the Arkansas Project, which, of course, was that project by "The American Spectator" magazine, investigation into Bill Clinton that among other things introduced the world to Paula Jones.

Well, as the Democrats work on trying to slow the nomination down, trying to get answers, they are being undercut by one of their own, a Democratic off the Judiciary Committee. Zell Miller, the independent Democrat of Georgia has released a statement today saying, quote: "I have respect and affection for all my Senate colleagues, but I can't help but wish that among us there was more getting along than getting even. It seems sometimes as if there were this never-ending, back-and-forth, partisan ping-pong game of revenge going on all the time. For the good of both political parties, and especially for the good of the country, it needs to come" -- "it needs to end."

Now, what's interesting is that almost exactly echoes the statements of Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of that Judiciary Committee.

Now, as you know, Judy, as you've said, the Judiciary Committee has deadlocked on that nomination 9-9. Under the 50-50 power-sharing agreement between Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, a nomination that is essentially tied can come to the Senate floor, but it is a very messy and time-consuming project. This is what would have to happen to bring that nomination to the floor.

You would actually need four separate votes, potentially four votes -- at the very least three. First, a vote to get the nomination out of the committee; second, a vote to get the nomination onto the Senate floor; third, a possible vote to stop a potential Democratic filibuster, something that is under consideration; and fourth, a vote finally on the actual nomination.

Now, each one of those votes could mean time to debate on the floor. It could be a very messy and time-consuming project, something that Trent Lott desperately would like to avoid. And as a matter of fact, there are negotiations now going on between Democrats and Republicans to try to tone down the rhetoric and speed up the process. Orrin Hatch and his counterpart, Democratic counterpart of the Judiciary Committee, Pat Leahy, right now working on some kind of a bipartisan agreement that will get the Democrats the answers they want about Olson.

WOODRUFF: All right. Now, Jon, you mentioned Democratic Senator Zell Miller. Of course, there was speculation not long ago about his switching to the Republican Party. But you've been looking into the prospects for a Republican senators switching to the Democratic Party. Tell us about that.

KARL: Jim Jeffords is the speculation. Jim Jeffords, of course, the moderate from Vermont, who some Republicans say single-handedly defeated the president's $1.6 trillion tax cut, forcing him to negotiate with those moderate Democrats, bringing the price of the tax cut down. Well, there's been talk all along of Republicans exacting some kind of revenge against Jeffords.

Well, all that talk has been going on at the time when Democrats are reaching out very aggressively to Jeffords, to trying to get him to switch parties, come over to the Democratic Party, which of course would instantly turn the control of the Senate over to the Democratic Party.

Now, all along Jeffords has been downplaying this speculation, but there has been a change. He is now openly flirting with the idea of possibly switching parties.

The official line from his office now comes from his press secretary. Read you exactly what he is saying now.

"Jim Jeffords feels comfortable as the most conservative member of the Vermont delegation, regardless of party label."

Now, just a week ago, Jeffords' office was simply saying that he had no plans whatsoever of switching parties.

One thing under consideration in these talks between Jeffords and the Democrats would be potentially for Jeffords to become an independent, but to vote for Tom Daschle and the Democratic leadership. Again, this all talk right now. Much of it could be Jeffords trying to send a message to the White House: Don't try to get revenge against me for my vote on taxes.

WOODRUFF: Well, Jon, speaking of hands across the political divide, we understand that John McCain has been having to do some hand-holding on his favorite subject.

KARL: No doubt. You know, McCain, of course, has often spent time talking to Democrats, but it seems of late he's been spending even more time with Democrats. Yesterday, in a meeting that was little-noted nor reported, McCain went over to the House side of the Capitol, very unusual, and met in the office of Richard Gephardt, with the minority leader over there on the House side. McCain went over to talk to Gephardt about electoral reform and also campaign finance reform.

The McCain people believe that they need Gephardt to fight strongly and aggressively in favor of campaign finance reform if it is to stand a chance of passing over in the House. Also, McCain has been making some overtures to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, some of whom have been critical of campaign finance reform.

Well, he's now been meeting with Harold Ford and with John Lewis. They are talking about holding a town-hall meeting in Memphis, trying to plan one for June, a town-hall meeting in favor of campaign finance reform just as it's about to go over to be considered in the House. This would be very significant, because there are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, most specifically Maxine Waters, who have been critical of McCain's version of campaign finance reform.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl at the Capitol. We've gotten used to the idea of looking at Bob Novak's notebook. It's kind of fun to look at yours for a change. Thanks.

KARL: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

KARL: On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on President Bush's tax-cut bill, and as part of his overall budget package, Mr. Bush has targeted a number of old, some would say outdated, programs for budget cuts. But like all new presidents, Mr. Bush is finding out that in Washington every government program has a defender.

CNN congressional correspondent Kate Snow has the inside view.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SNOW (voice-over): Doctors are hard to come by in Maryland's Dorchester County. About 40 primary care physicians serve all 30,000 residents.

Dr. Tim Snesac (ph) is one of them and a mentor to medical student Ron Mageau.

RON MAGEAU, MEDICAL STUDENT: I don't know if I'm going to do this as a career, but I wanted, you know, a flavor for what it was like here.

SNOW (on camera): The money that pays for Mageau to be here is part of a larger federal program. About 40 years ago, Congress created it to help train doctors who were likely to work in underserved communities.

(voice-over): More than 100,000 students currently benefit from the $350 million program, but there's nothing requiring them to actually work in underserved areas after their training. The Bush administration would cut the program by 60 percent, saying the money would be better spent on things like community health centers.

ELIZABETH DUKE, HEALTH RESOURCES & SERVICES ADMINISTRATION: The administration has made a decision to put its emphasis in this budget on direct provision of health care for people, and so that emphasis in this budget has been on funding patient care.

SNOW: The Bush budget blueprint says a physician shortage was looming 40 years ago, but today a physician shortage no longer exists. What's more, the federal role is questionable, it says, because doctors are well-paid and market forces are much more influential in determining supply.

It's not the first time the program has come under the ax. The Clinton administration requested cuts for the past five years for many of the same reasons. But each year, lobbyists, like these representing medical colleges, go to Capitol Hill to get the money back. The program is hugely popular with members from both rural and inner-city districts.

REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: In Appalachia, on the south side of Chicago, in Harlem, in ghettos and barrios around the country, the federal government has stepped in to help create the incentive for doctors to locate in areas for the medically underserved. And so this is one of those -- one of those programs where the free market has to tempered by the compassion of a strong, sensitive and caring government.

SNOW: And it's a classic example of a favorite program that refuses to die, around for so long it's firmly entrenched. No matter what the budget says, attempts to cut it back may not succeed. That outcome would be welcome in Dorchester County.

Kate Snow, CNN, Cambridge, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: The president rules out any policy softening, at least where Fidel Castro is concerned. A look at the political circumstances that have the president talking tough on Cuba, after an update on the day's other top stories.


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

They are tired, but they are out of immediate danger. Rescuers have found seven Swiss students and their teacher in a flooded cave in eastern France. The group became trapped this week when heavy rains flooded the cave they were exploring. Rescuers dug a hole down to the group and divers brought in blankets and food. Water is being pumped out of the cave to clear the escape route.

Here in Washington, a search continues for a former federal intern missing since the end of last month.

CNN's national correspondent Bob Franken has the latest.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Susan and Robert Levy have gone back to California from Washington, D.C.

SUSAN LEVY, CHANDRA LEVY'S MOTHER: And I want to again thank the law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.

FRANKEN: Although they have not been successful in locating their missing daughter, Chandra Levy, they have been successful in alerting the entire nation. Even though, the FBI says, that last year there were more than 98,000 missing persons in the United States, more than 6,000 in their 20s, 24-year-old Chandra Levy has gotten intense coverage from the nation's media, local and national.

Every event -- the TV appearances, the photo-opportunities with senators -- every appearance has been coordinated by Kim Petersen from an organization formed to help in such cases: the Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation, based in Levy's hometown.

DAN AMUNDSON, MEDIA ANALYST: They can keep it out there in front of people. They can use the media effectively to make sure that people keep thinking about their missing child or spouse or whatever it is, and really manufacturer in a sense the type of ongoing tale that needs to happen.

FRANKEN: What has also fueled the intense coverage has been the intimations that Chandra Levy might have had a romantic relationship with Gary Condit, the congressman from her home town of Modesto. This picture shows her with Condit and her good friend, Jennifer Baker.

Baker was an intern for Condit. Levy was just finishing up an internship with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Some news organizations have used this picture, but shown only the congressman and Levy.

JENNIFER BAKER, CHANDRA LEVY'S FRIEND: The reason that she stopped by the congressman's office is because I interned for the office and she would come to meet me for lunch.

FRANKEN: Still, Washington, D.C. police sources tell CNN that investigators are checking out rumors that Chandra Levy was seen visiting Condit's Washington apartment. But officials say that news reports witnesses have been identified who spotted her there are misleading.

CHIEF CHARLES RAMSEY, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE: It sounds as if it was substantiated that the young lady had visited that apartment. We have nothing right now to substantiate that.

FRANKEN: Detectives have interviewed Condit. The congressman's spokesman has denied the two had a romantic relationship.

Another focus: reports that Chandra Levy has been spotted. Citings like that are common, say investigators, when a case gets this kind of nationwide coverage.


FRANKEN: The coverage, by all accounts, is extraordinary, but Judy, Chandra Levy is still missing.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken, thanks very much. We appreciate the update.

By the way, statistics show working as an intern here in the nation's capital is a popular way to gain work experience. According to the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people come to Washington every year to work as interns.

A late-afternoon rally pushed stock prices into positive territory after being down nearly all day. Rising prices for oil and gold stocks are credited with helping the overall markets. The Dow gained just over 53 points for the day. The Nasdaq was up more than five points.

There's much more on what's ahead for the markets on "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." That's at 6:30 Eastern, right after INSIDE POLITICS.

Embargoes and political support: more on today's effort to reach Cuban-American voters. And we'll talk to the GOP's Florida chairman and a spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Stay with us.


WOODRUFF: President Bush says that he will oppose any attempts to weaken the sanctions against Cuba, calling the embargo a moral statement. The president made those comments today during a ceremony to celebrate Sunday's Cuban Independence Day. Our John King joins us now for more on the president's position and the political significance of today's event.

John, hello again.

KING: Hello again, Judy.

Well, May 20th, 1902, that's when the United States granted independence to Cuba, a day remembered by the Cuban-American community not only for the celebration at the time, but also as part of its political campaign to bring democracy to Cuba now.

President Bush making clear at this reception here at the White House this afternoon that that remains a key goal of this administration.

Now, some in the Congress, including a growing number of Republicans, say the U.S. policy against Fidel Castro is outdated, that perhaps the United States should lift the economic sanctions. Much of that comes from farm-state lawmakers, who believe their constituents could do business with Cuba. But as he had this gathering here today -- you see the singer Gloria Estefan there singing the national anthem of Cuba, pre-Castro Cuba -- as she sang that song today, the president served notice to anyone who thinks that he might ease the sanctions, not on his watch.


BUSH: The sanctions our government enforces against Castro's regime are not just a policy tool, they're a moral statement. My administration will oppose any attempt to weaken sanctions against Cuba's government until the regime...


And I will fight such attempts -- until this regime frees its political prisoners, holds Democratic free elections and allows for free speech.

The policy of our government is not merely to isolate Castro, but to actively support those working to bring about Democratic change in Cuba.


KING: And on that last point, the president expressed general support for legislation recently introduced in the Congress that would provide up to $100 million over four years in assistance to political dissidents in Cuba. The legislation modeled after the approach the Reagan administration took for the Solidarity Movement in the early 1980s: fax machines, other communications equipment, if possible, sent from the United States in to see those dissident in Cuba.

White House officials saying they need to look at the specifics of the legislation -- they're not endorsing every paragraph -- but that they want to take a close look at it. Now, you might think an event in which the president discussing policy toward Cuba might be arranged by, say, the National Security Council. Not this one. This event a pet project of Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, a reflection of how important this administration places support of Cuban-Americans in South Florida and elsewhere -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, of course, Cuban-Americans are just one part of the Hispanic vote in this country. The president received something like 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in the election. Do the people around him, Karl Rove, believe that he can do better than that?

KING: They certainly hope he will do better than that. You'll note the president was introduced today by Mel Martinez, a Cuban refugee, his housing secretary now. The president even wiping a tear from his eye as Mr. Martinez told his story. This administration making Latino/Hispanic outreach one of its major priorities.

And remember, we could debate the Florida election again and again and again. Let's just say it was very close, and when the president seeks re-election he wants to do a little better.

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

And joining us now in the studio, Al Cardenas, the Florida Republican Party chairman, on the right, and Larry Gonzalez, spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

Mr. Cardenas, let me ask you first, the president, as we were saying, 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in this election. What are the prospects that he can do better than that in the next election?

AL CARDENAS, CHAIRMAN, FLORIDA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, we will. You know, the goal obviously is not only to have the right policies, but to get to the heart of the community. We believe in our polling and everything else that many more Hispanics like his points of view. It's a matter of getting to the hearts of the Hispanic community, getting that trust established.

And that's why the Cinco de Mayo function (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today were critical events to demonstrate that he cares. And today's event was a typical example. It was not only a policy day, but it was very emotional for us as well.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Gonzalez, what are the issues that matter most to Hispanic voters? Or are they so spread out and so disparate you can't really list them?

LARRY GONZALEZ, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ELECTED OFFICIALS: Well, the Latino community is a very diverse community. When you talk about Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Puerto Rican- Americans, and particularly when pertaining to the Latino vote, it's not monolithic. But I think it's an American agenda. What are things that are important to all Americans, whether it's education, safe neighborhoods, you know, good schools, access to quality health care?

The issues that are important to Americans are the issues that are important to the Latino community.

WOODRUFF: Would you...

CARDENAS: But there's an additional factor, too, and I think Larry's absolutely right. But there's a sense of respect for the culture, respect for the agenda, issues that transcend particular communities.

But for example, immigration may not be a major issue in the Puerto Rican community, but for them to know that you're sensitive to those issues is important, because it's an overall respect for the culture. And while there are different demographic groups, there's an overall agreement that the Hispanic culture is something that we all care about.

GONZALEZ: Judy, I think the thing here that we're talking about is really while having Cinco de Mayo parties and a number of sort nonsubstantive events is very important, it's also -- we're also concerned with policies. What policies are this administration, are the members of the House and the members of the Senate going to be talking about that are important to Hispanic-Americans across this country?

WOODRUFF: And are you getting any signals from the administration so far? They've only been in office a few months.

GONZALEZ: I think we've gotten some positive. I mean, we're working on a very important immigration issue, which is 245-I, which will allow people to stay in the United States, to stay united with their families. While they're here, they'll pay a penalty.

The president did write a letter to Congress, sending a very strong message that he would like to see that worked on. It was a little late. We would have liked to see it a couple of weeks -- but I think he understands the importance of keeping families together and that was a very important move.

CARDENAS: Yeah, I think in addition to immigration, probably the one issue that we think will have the most impact will be education reform in our inner cities, respect for the Latino culture, respect for programs that celebrate our languages, respect for bringing those inner-city schools up to par with the rest of the communities.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that's not the case now, Mr. Cardenas?

CARDENAS: I'm saying that's precisely right. I think there are many inner-city schools throughout the country that deserve more attention. There's a great disparity, an educational divide between the haves and the have-nots. And unfortunately, most of the have-nots fall into the minorities in this country.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Gonzalez, is there a difference right now in the way the two political parties, the Republicans and Democrats, are reaching out to the Latino vote?

GONZALEZ: Well, I think they're both rethinking their political strategies. Our organization just recently did a study, and what we found that was out of the 435 congressional districts in this country, 122 now have a significant Latino population, meaning above the national, which is currently 12 1/2 percent.

WOODRUFF: Based on the latest census.

GONZALEZ: Right, the latest census 2000 data. And so what it says is that everyone needs to kind of rethink. We can't just focus on urban areas now. The community is more spread out. We're in suburban areas, we're in rural areas. And so they're both devising their own -- I think that the Democratic Party has had the track record. The Republican Party has to overcome the past. But they're moving toward doing that.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean, overcome the past?

GONZALEZ: Well, there were a number of anti-immigrant type things in California: obviously former Governor Pete Wilson. And there have been really issues that just simply were not important to the Republican Party in the past. And so the question is, Are they going to embrace the restrictionist side of their party or the Ronald Reagan model, where he was very pro-immigrant and welcomed immigrants?

WOODRUFF: Mr. Cardenas, which will it be, do you thing?

CARDENAS: Yeah. Well, I think we've obviously transcended that gap that we had for a couple of sessions during the 1990s. President Bush has clearly come out with that agenda. When we had those issues that Larry's mentioning in California, he from Texas said...

WOODRUFF: Under Governor Wilson...

CARDENAS: ... "Listen, I'm not for that."

Yes. So he -- he clearly has -- it's a dawn of a new day under his administration. I believe that the Hispanic community is sensing that. We in the Republican Party nationally have gotten the message to be more competitive. We've doubled our outreach budget. We have prioritized our inclusiveness efforts. And I frankly am one of those who considers that my mission in the party.

WOODRUFF: All right, gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. Al Cardenas, who chairs the Republican Party in the state of Florida, and Larry Gonzalez, spokesman for the national association of Latino elected officials. Thank you both. We appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: Our Friday political roundtable assembles in just a moment. The first item on the agenda, energy. The president has a plan and the critics have a ready response. Where do we go from here?


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Too often Americans are asked to take sides between energy production and environmental protection, as if people who revere the Alaska wilderness do not also care about America's energy future, as if the people who produce America's energy do not care about the planet their children will inherit.

The truth is energy production and environmental production are not competing priorities.


WOODRUFF: Well, energy did dominate the political discussion this week both in and out of Washington, as the president hit the road to promote the new White House energy policy. And joining me now for our weekly political roundtable to talk energy and other issues, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield in New York; and here in Washington, CNN Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, and CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Jeff Greenfield, to you first, the president just rolled this out yesterday but the debate has been going nonstop for the last few weeks. At this point, who's ahead: the president or his critics?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I haven't a clue. I haven't measured that. But seriously, it's one of the nice things about the way we do politics and public policy now is these things all leak days before the actual announcement is being made. And so the fight begins before you even have officially a policy.

But I would put this out as a marker. I think the Republicans tend to begin this argument at a slight disadvantage. It's structural. In the same way that Democrats are always on the defensive about their plans to make government and more intrusive -- they always have to sort of explain that they're not really out to put a bureaucrat in every, you know, living room -- Republicans, I think, somehow are seen as the party that was more willing to kind of help out the big oil companies, and in the stereotype, maybe, you know, put an oil derrick in the grand canyon. That's one of the reasons why the president went where he went yesterday, to a place -- and stressed alternative energy.

So I think that the burden, to some extent, is going to be on the Bush administration, particularly because Bush and Cheney were oil executives in Texas at one point or another, to explain why their energy policy is also environmentally friendly.

Who is ahead 24 hours after it announced? That's beyond me.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley, the burden more on the Republicans, on the president?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, sure, and I think Jeff is right. I mean, I think, you know, listening to the sound bite we just had of the president, mostly the American people I think are with him. They know it's not a choice between can you produce and can you conserve, and you've got to pick one. So they know that. So the question is OK.

The question is whether they'll accept policy from this particular messenger, which the Democrats are out busy exploiting: This is big oil, this is a payback to big oil, that kind of thing.

So I -- I -- again, I don't know who's winning, but I think he does have his work cut out for him in terms of whether people will take that message, which they believe, from this messenger.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank, if you won't -- if you all are not going to tell me who's ahead...



WOODRUFF: ... let me come up with a question...

SESNO: How about if I disagree a little?

Judy, I think that a couple of things are clear. Our polling shows that people understand that energy is an issue. In fact, in their priorities, they put it right up at the top of the list now with education. So the high gasoline prices and the other things that people have experienced -- whether it's rolling blackouts in California or the threat of the same in New York or the general doubling of your home heating oil - people understand it's an issue.

Secondly, they have confidence in technology. So this argument that technologically you can do more exploration and extract more energy with less of an environmental price also resonates.

Polls also show that people say stay out of Alaska, don't build nuclear power, but provide more energy elsewhere.

WOODRUFF: But those are all things that, Ron Brownstein, that the president is talking about. Having laid this out, can he deliver on it?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, one of the key strategies, I think, in this report is in fact to make your question harder to answer.

One thing that's being overlooked is that of the 105 recommendations in this report that come out yesterday, almost three- quarters of them are not to Congress deal with, are to the executive branch agencies to make decisions down the road.

He asked the EPA to look at the rules regarding pollution and refineries. He looked to the Interior Department to look at access to public lands and offshore oil drilling. He moves the terrain of battle from Congress, where a few high-profile things will be fought out, toward the executive branch.

That means several things. That means it's going to be a war of attrition where opponents are going to have to fight on many fronts at once. It means that the battle is going to be fought inside agencies, where the referees are people that he's selected.

So we're going to be focusing on the big fight in Congress over ANWR, Alaska, or over electricity deregulation. In fact, many of the most important decisions will occur with much less public focus over a sustained period of time.

We're going to be doing this and measuring the score on this for a very long time.


WOODRUFF: And Jeff -- go ahead, Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Yeah. I mean, there may come a point at which we can answer that question of yours, and that's if gasoline hits, say, $3 a gallon this summer and/or there are rolling blackouts and/or as was discussed the energy bills for your home double and triple. At that point -- you should pardon this expression -- the fertilizer will have hit the air-conditioner...


... and at that point -- at that point, we know who's going to be on the losing side, and that's whoever's in power.

SESNO: But that raises...


SESNO: I'm sorry, Judy. Go ahead. It raises a very interesting point, Jeff does, because it's absolutely right. And this is something we talked about yesterday.

The administration says this is a crisis. It is a crisis if your gasoline hits $3 a gallon, if you can't turn your lights on. But the fact of the matter is there are electric-generating facilities already under construction. In the next four or five years, you'll see again nearly 60 percent of what the total output is that's produced even now. The government estimates gasoline prices may start coming down by summer.

So I don't know, Jeff, what happens if that crisis doesn't materialize.

WOODRUFF: Candy, if it were to materialize, if we did have gas at $3 a gallon, is the White House ready to deal with that?

CROWLEY: Well, I think they will be ready if it comes. Look, they're lucky in their timing. If gasoline hits $3 a gallon this summer, there are two more summers for him to weather that before it becomes, for George Bush, a political problem.

Now, he may begin to see the Republicans all coming around. But what you're really talking about when you're talking about $3 a gallon for gasoline or high energy bills and what they can do, what you're really talking about here is price gaps. And he is, as far as I can see, there is absolutely no room in that for him. So he may be stuck.

WOODRUFF: All right. We could talk about this much longer, but we do want to move on. When we come back, Democrats block a Bush nomination. Is it fair play or foul? We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: Continuing our weekly political roundtable, Jeff Greenfield joining us from New York, and with me here in Washington, Frank Sesno, Candy Crowley and Ron Brownstein.

Ron, the presidents choice to be solicitor-general, the person who represents the administration, the government before the Supreme Court, Ted Olson, has run into a roadblock in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Where does this go from here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, so far, it's been striking that there's been so little rancor over most of the nominations. It really hasn't been as high-profile a conflict as you would expect. But I think it was almost inevitable here. Olson was very much involved in the sort of relentless campaign against Clinton on ethical grounds, and we've been locked in this pattern really for 20 years in Washington. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gang warfare or Bosnia or something, where each party takes out nominees from the other.

The real question here, I think, Judy, is going to be very simple: Will Democrats filibuster to block this nomination? We don't know the answer to that yet, but that is how they could block it. And without that, they probably won't be able to.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, is this -- the Democrats have a point or is this just an example of payback?

GREENFIELD: You know, I think the whole spirit of this was best summarized by committee chairman Orrin Hatch after the 9-9 vote. And he said -- and I'm quoting here -- "I don't want to get into a big hassle today or I'd have ripped somebody's guts out."

I think this is the one area where all pretense of civility and comity and bipartisanship have gone by the wayside. I think Ron is exactly right. The example I'd use is the Hatfields and McCoys. Maybe nobody can remember how this started, but whichever party has enough clout in Congress to put heat on the party in the White House, at some point this will show up.

And in this case, because of Ted Olson's involvement in anti- Clinton activities, his wife's very public attacks on the president and Mrs. Clinton, and his role in the Florida recount, I think they decided -- and they've used the idea that he did not testify fully and frankly in committee to say, OK, here we're going -- we're going to let our aggressions of the last six months out.

WOODRUFF: Candy, we heard Jon Karl, our congressional correspondent, a little while ago saying it's going to be hard for the president to get this to the floor, get a vote, four steps. What's your take on this?

CROWLEY: My take on it is they'll get it to the floor and that Ron's right: It's the filibuster that they have to worry about, the 60 points. I think one of the -- the 60 votes, rather.

I think one of the things that we also ought to point out is we're in the second hundred days. You know, it was time. I mean, you know, there were complaints within the Democratic Party that they weren't being tough enough, that they weren't out there really bashing people, that they weren't, you know, that the partisans, the activists wanted to see a tougher stance. And it was time, and Ted Olson is the guy.

SESNO: They're also mindful in the Democratic Party that this can backfire against them, that they can be too clever and too nasty by half, that it really is the un-Clinton era here and it's time to turn the temperature down.

I spoke with an aide to Pat Leahy, the Democratic -- you know, the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, who said, look, Pat Leahy never wanted to defeat Ted Olson. He went into this expecting that Ted Olson was going to be the next solicitor-general. Pat Leahy doesn't want a filibuster, he wants to be able to work this out.

So there's some degree of nervousness here, too, that this could be perceived that it is payback, which is certainly what the Republicans say, and the Democrats say, no, no, no, it's just about, you know, being straightforward and speaking straight, and not, you know, not misleading anybody.

WOODRUFF: All right. Only a couple of minutes left. I want to touch on education.

Ron, are the conservative right when they say the president has just given in too much in order to get a bill?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the odd thing, Judy, is which conservatives are you talking about, because some -- perhaps the major concession, the two major concessions he's made that conservatives like Bill Bennett and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have been publicly complaining about, one is to the left. He's abandoned the idea of trying to push through school vouchers for parents in failing schools. He's done that because he lacks the votes in both chambers. The last time it came up in the House, it lost by about 80 votes. There were 50 Republicans voting against it.

The other thing that they're complaining about, though, is that the testing, the heart of the bill, the annual testing of grades three through eight, have been watered down. Well, the principal force watering that down has been other conservatives on Capitol Hill, who consider it an unwarranted federal intrusion into local decision- making. And they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) push next week, when it comes to the House floor, to remove it completely.

So Bush really is in a cross-fire here, where you've got liberals upset about certain things, centrist reformers upset about other things, conservatives annoyed about others. And it's a very fragile thing to hold this bill together.

To the extent that conservatives have success, they may drive away liberals and vice versa.

WOODRUFF: Candy, was the White House prepared to have their friends on the right upset so quickly?

CROWLEY: I think they knew, you know, that would happen. Look, back to the hundred days, they spent the first hundred days really courting their conservative wing. They do feel that they have a pretty stable support over there and they can afford to do this.

And beyond that, look, here's the bottom line of all of this, and that is that they get an, I mean -- an energy bill -- an education bill...


... that goes from -- that is opposed by the right and the left, you know, it's probably a pretty good bill. And then what's going to happen? The president is going to be sitting in the Rose Garden, signing a bill, delivering on a campaign promise. And that in the end is what they want at the White House.

BROWNSTEIN: The question is whether the bill ultimately does what he wants, which is improve performance in schools, the standard he set in the 2000 campaign to be judged on.

SESNO: Well, that's a tough -- that's a tough standard to be judge on, because they've been talking about education in this town since 1982, "A Nation at Risk," that big report, '83, and very -- you know, very little in the view of some has changed.

But I think that back to the spirit of the un-Clinton era, Candy's right. If he sits there and he signs a bill, what people in the White House, Republicans, Democrats, everywhere say, is that's the image that America has.

And I want to go back once again to what we know rather scientifically, which is what we see in persistent public opinion polling. Education is at the top of the list.


SESNO: It's at the top of the public agenda. More money is in the bill. There is more accountability in the bill. Whether it's perfect, for right, left or center, a number of things are addressed.

WOODRUFF: I can't let you all get away without pointing out that on the Internet right now you can vote as to who you think the man of the year is when it comes to television newscasters and commentators. If you look closely, "Gentlemen's Quarterly" has a poll that they're taking. This is the Web site, and among the names on the list our own Wolf Blitzer and none other than Jeff Greenfield.

So if you go to the Web site,, Jeff, what do you think they'll do?

GREENFIELD: I think people should beware of the butterfly ballot and make sure they punch completely through their computers in voting for me.


WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, we'll be pulling for you.

GREENFIELD: All right.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield in New York, Frank Sesno, Ron Brownstein, Candy Crowley here in Washington. Our political roundtable. Great to see you all, thanks.

The goings-on at the White House, now and then. A look at the president's policy-packed day.

Plus, were the accounts of trashed offices during the transition just tall tales? The final work in the next 30 minutes of INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: All that head-butting with the Republican powers that be has gotten some Democrats depressed. Can they re-energize?

And later, a new wave pulls in the "Political Play of the Week."

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. President Bush is preparing to take part in an evening parade at the Marine barracks here in Washington, capping an unusually busy Friday for the commander in chief. It began with Mr. Bush condemning a new round of violence in the Middle East, even as he visited at the White House with the crew of the Navy surveillance plane that was at the center of last month's standoff with China. After a personal thank you from Mr. Bush, the crew received medals for heroism.

But Mr. Bush went on to address some important political business: He promoted his new energy plan at a hydroelectric plant in Pennsylvania, and he signed two energy-related executive orders, including one to streamline the permit process for new power plants. Mr. Bush tried to show that he is following up the unveiling of his plan with action.


BUSH: I'm sure there were some folks that were watching the speech or heard about the speech probably saying, yeah, all we've got now is another report that's going to sit on the shelf in Washington just to gather a little dust. I -- I can assure the American people that mine is an administration that is not interested in gathering dust. We're interested in acting. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Meantime, Democrats are pressing on with their counteroffensive against the Bush energy plan, and it is no wonder why. As our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley explains, many Democrats believe the energy debate may be providing them with a light at the end of the tunnel.


CROWLEY (voice-over): 119 days into the Bush administration, Democrats think they've finally gotten the hang of being the party out of power.

REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: We've had a heck of a week and things are on the upswing. Everybody feels pretty good right now, and the president is on the run.

CROWLEY: The Democrats assault on the president's energy program comes not a day too soon for some party faithful, who think Democrats have been too slow and too nice in responding to the president, and that the Democrats' message is not punching through.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: I think people are too cautious. I think people are figuring out their futures, where they're going and whether or not they're centrists or they're progressives or they're left. They don't know what they are. And I think people are trying to figure it out, and it's causing us harm in being able to shape the message for the people who send us here on the Democratic side.

CROWLEY: Call it post-election frustration. Even the Senate minority leader has a case of it. The blame, he says, lies not in the leadership, but in the media.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER If you give us the same opportunity as you give the president, which doesn't happen, we would get the kind of opportunities to respond. But I think it's probably 10-to-1, you know, and that's your choice. But that's the problem.

I think there's a -- there's a disproportionate amount of favorable coverage given the White House and no opportunity for us to respond.

CROWLEY: This may sound familiar, because it's what Republicans said when they weren't in the White House. They don't call it the bully pulpit for nothing.

And it's not just the voice from the Oval Office. Democrats are also minus Cabinet officials, who are so useful when fanning out to push a program. And without the chorus, congressional Democrats are on their own, struggling for ink and air time.

It is symptomatic of what some say is the real source of Democratic discontent: the newly reconstituted political arena. Welcome to the loyal opposition. MARK MELLMAN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: But what complaining there is, I think it's coming from frustrated activists, people who would like to see Democrats win every vote even though we're the minority party. They would like to see the Democratic agenda get passed even though we don't have the votes in the House and the Senate, and don't control the White House to be able to make those things happen. So there's a lot of frustration I think among Democrats.

CROWLEY: There is also the political reality that centrist Democrats often have something in common with their Republican counterparts and/or the Bush White House, making the Democratic caucus ripe for cherry picking on close votes.

(on camera): "What the liberal activists don't get," explained one Democratic leader, "is that our caucus is all across the political spectrum. So the first accommodation we seek is not with the White House but with ourselves."

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And now we hear from a Democrat who is a liberal, and proud of it. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota has written a book called "The Conscience of a Liberal; Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda."

I spoke with him just a couple of hours ago, and I started by asking him if he agrees with the point at the end of Candy Crowley's report that Democrats are ripe for division because they're all over the place politically.


SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA: I think there are some real differences of opinion, and I think many people feel that we have to figure out a way to be a more stronger and more effective opposition. But you know, ultimately it isn't so much about splits within the Democratic Party as to whether or not Democrats represent a politics that speaks to the concerns and circumstances of people's lives and includes people. And I think a lot of what's happening in Washington right now is -- doesn't do that. So I think we have to be more forceful.

WOODRUFF: Your book, "The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Passionate Agent," you weren't afraid to put the word "liberal" in there at the title?

WELLSTONE: No, no. You know, when I was running in '96, there were all these attack ads: liberal, embarrassingly liberal. And I remember meeting a businessman on an airline going back home. I don't even know if he was a supporter. And he said to me: I'm confused by all the attack ads; it's like are they telling us something we don't already know, we know you're a liberal.

WOODRUFF: But I mean, has liberal become a dirty word in American politics?

WELLSTONE: I'm afraid it has, and I think that's a shame. I mean, I think this is the question: Do you or do you not believe that when it comes to the most pressing issues of people's lives -- health security, good education for their children, affordable child care, finding the cure to diseases, environmental protection, you name it -- do you believe there's nothing the government can or should do, or do you think the government can play a positive role? And I believe the government can play a positive role, and I think the vast majority of people believe so.

WOODRUFF: Senator, you know, before I ask you that, where did you become -- how did you become a liberal? You've got some very moving stories in here about your own family, your growing up, your father's battle with Parkinson's, your brother's battle with mental illness.


WOODRUFF: Where did your liberalness come from?

WELLSTONE: Well, I think my mom and dad. My dad was a Jewish immigrant who fled Russia who taught me to love our country and taught me the importance of the First Amendment. My mom was a cafeteria worker. Her name was Minsche Danifshefsky (ph). The way she was taught in the New York City public schools was Minsche Danifshefsky (ph), (UNINTELLIGIBLE), kick her up or kick her down. If she really liked you, the supreme compliment, she would say, "She's a good worker." So from them, it was -- there was a real education.

And then in the South, Sheila and I were married when we were 19 and had two children, first two children. At Chapel Hill, the civil rights movement.

So I came to Minnesota to teach infused with the idea that we can make this a better world.

WOODRUFF: You -- the title "Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda," some people would look at this and they'd say, wait a minute, Democrats have been in power. You had Bill Clinton in the White House for the last eight years. Up until not so long ago Democrats were in control in the House of Representatives. What is it -- what more do you want?

WELLSTONE: Well, you know, I guess it was -- I don't want to plagiarize. I guess it was Bobby Kennedy who said we can do better. I mean, I think Democrats' agenda is a bit too, I think, downsized. I mean, I think we have to talk about health security for all the people in the country. I don't think we should be saying we can't afford a good education for every child. I don't think we should move away from a goal that every little boy and every little girl should have the same chance to reach their full potential.

WOODRUFF: You're saying Bill Clinton didn't embrace those goals.

WELLSTONE: I think -- I think there were missed opportunities. I always give credit where credit's do. But I was a critic of President Clinton. I think he could have done more. That's part of the shame of it.

And now, I think in many ways it's time for liberals and progressives to be outspoken, not with poison or hatred, but to be outspoken, because I think much of what President Bush is doing is breathtaking in the opposite direction.

WOODRUFF: But at the same time there are those who are saying this is the time for Democrats, for liberals even, to compromise or else you're outnumbered: at the White House, the House and the Senate. If you don't compromise, how do you get anything done?

WELLSTONE: Well, I'm a legislator, so when you can compromise to get something done that's good for people, you should do so. But when in fact there is something that you should be opposed to, without poison, I think you should also have the courage to speak out. And a lot of what's going to happen over the next couple of years in the country is not going to be so much in Washington. It's going to be what happens outside of Washington. And people around the country have to see that you have an agenda that is exciting to them and means something and is important to them. And I think Democrats have to do more of that.

WOODRUFF: And you've said you plan -- would like to run for the Senate, will run for the Senate for a third term. This is a race that's already gotten some high-level attention from the Republicans. The president was out there this week with the Republican opponent potentially, the mayor of St. Paul, Norm Coleman. The vice president recruited Mayor Coleman.

Does this intimidate you, to have this kind of high-level Republican opposition?

WELLSTONE: No. I mean, when you're 5-5 1/2, you're always determined. And for me, you know, it's -- every race I've been in has been kind of a David and Goliath race. And I don't mind this. I kind of almost like this kind of format.

And in any case, no self-righteousness intended, I mean, if you believe, whatever your viewpoint is, that you -- that, as I say in the book, "You're not separating the life you live from the words you speak," and as a senator or whatever capacity you're speaking up for what you think is right for your state or country, then I'm fine. However much power is opposed to me, I still feel real good.

WOODRUFF: Why do you think they are so anxious to defeat you?

WELLSTONE: Hay, I'm an active, outspoken senator.

WOODRUFF: All right, Paul Wellstone, senator from the state of Minnesota. The book is "The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda." Thank you very much for joining us.

WELLSTONE: Thank you for the interview.


WOODRUFF: And now an update on an early source of friction between Democrats and the new Bush White House. A General Services Administration investigation found that members of the Clinton White House had not trashed the place when they left, as some unidentified aides to President Bush reportedly had charged. The probe found that, quote, "Nothing out of the ordinary occurred."

Republican Congressman Bob Barr was vocal in requesting this investigation, but the finding were released without any fanfare.

Winning results from the left and the right: When we return, our Bill Schneider is in London, but he still found the "Political Play of the Week."


WOODRUFF: Pope John Paul II kept a routine schedule today even though it marked his 81st birthday. The pope received visitors at the Vatican and had lunch with friends, but there was no formal ceremony to mark the event. John Paul II has served as pope for more than two decades, and as one might expect, he has slowed noticeably in recent years.

Our next big U.S. elections are a year and a half away. But in Europe, voters are casting ballots this spring in key races that are sending some very interesting political messages.

Our Bill Schneider reports from London.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's a wave of something sweeping over politics here in Britain and in Europe. On Sunday, voters in Italy elected an unconventional billionaire. British voters seem poised to hand Tony Blair a historic second mandate.

What does it all add up to? The "Political Play of the Week."

(voice-over): Italian media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi conquers Rome. He wins a landslide victory, overthrowing his country's political establishment.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is more than 20 points ahead in the polls. On June 7th, Blair may do what no Labour prime minister has ever done before: win a second full term in office.

What do they have in common? Not ideology. Berlusconi's a conservative who's pledged to cut taxes and trim Italy's bloated bureaucracy. Blair comes from the left. His program? Massive new investment in Britain's ailing public services.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is a manifesto with a big ambition for Britain, and that is the massive reform and improvement of our public services. SCHNEIDER: British voters appear to be opting for continuity. If the polls hold up, Blair's majority in parliament, already one of the largest in history, could actually get bigger. Italian voters opted for change. They threw the ins out and gave a historic mandate to a political outsider, a colorful personality who happens to be one of the 20 richest men in the world.

For all his wealth, Berlusconi's a populist. He ran against Italy's entrenched political class, promising a style of personal leadership that Italy hasn't seen since, well, a long time ago.

SILVIO BERLUSCONI, HOUSE OF LIBERTIES LEADER (through translator): I am convinced that you feel the necessity for a government that governs, and for a prime minister that talks less and does more and better.

SCHNEIDER: Tony Blair also cultivates a highly personal style of leadership, above party, above ideology. All spin and presentation, his critics say, but to British voters, it's new and refreshing.

BLAIR: There were some, including in my own party, who were skeptical, some were straightforwardly hostile, preferring instead the old simplicities, if you like, that Labour is for workers and against business and business supported the conservatives. And I've always believed, and believe still, that this type of polarization is bad.

SCHNEIDER: Blair's government faces lots of problems: foot-and- mouth disease, rising fuel prices, illegal immigration, an unpopular position on Europe. But his opponent, conservative leader William Hague, seems utterly hopeless in connecting with voters: a British Bob Dole.

WILLIAM HAGUE, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: It has taken four years for the mask to slip, where the British public can begin to see new Labour for what they really are, a gigantic hoax puffed up by arrogant contempt and vanity.

SCHNEIDER: Do you want to see how well Labour is connecting with the voters? Here's John Prescott, Blair's deputy prime minister, connecting with a voter who had just expressed himself with a raw egg.

JOHN PRESCOTT, BRITISH DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: And I was attacked by an individual. In the melee that followed, I clearly defended myself.

SCHNEIDER: The British press is in a snit, but the voters seem to love it. It's the new populism, first in Italy, now in Britain, and it's the "Political Play of the Week."

(on camera): Forget all the old political rules. This is rough- and-tumble politics. To survive in the populist era, you've got to be ready to roll with the punches.

Bill Schneider, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Let's hope he brings that glove back to Washington. A special delivery for the governor of Massachusetts. Coming up, the first look at her new addition.


WOODRUFF: This item just in from our senior White House correspondent, John King. A discouraging report, you'd have to say, with regard to U.S. attempts to negotiate peace in the Middle East. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke today on the telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and came away from that conversation, we are told, frustrated.

Separately, CNN is told efforts to set up a meeting between President Bush -- or rather between Secretary Powell and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, have been put on hold. And again, John King quoting a senior U.S. official: "We need to see some different behavior, otherwise sitting down with either side is a waste of time."

Well, there's more INSIDE POLITICS coming up, but first, let's go to Lou Dobbs for a preview of what's ahead at the bottom of the hour on "MONEYLINE" -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Judy.

Coming up on "MONEYLINE," full coverage of a winning week on Wall Street. I'll be talking with a man with a great track record on calling the market, Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School. Also, the chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Chase, William Harrison. And tonight: the man who invested millions of dollars into one unforgettable flight, space tourist Dennis Tito. All of that and a lot more coming up on "MONEYLINE" at 6:30 Eastern. Stay with us. More INSIDE POLITICS coming up.


WOODRUFF: On Sunday, President Bush delivers a commencement address at Notre Dame, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a traditional class day address at Yale, and Senator Tom Harkin kicks off his re-election campaign with an Iowa fund-raiser.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's The AOL keyword: CNN. And our e-mail address is

And these weekend programming notes: House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt will be the guest tomorrow on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS." That's at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. And at noon Eastern Sunday: Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Epa Administrator Christie Whitman will be among Wolf Blitzer's guests on "LATE EDITION."

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



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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