Skip to main content /transcript


McVeigh Applies for Stay of Execution; Reno Discusses Possible Bid for Florida Governorship; Group Rails Against Bush's `Homosexual Activism'

Aired May 31, 2001 - 17:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I am Judy Woodruff in Washington. We take you live now to Denver, where one of the attorneys for Timothy McVeigh, Nathan Chambers, talking to reporters about an application, just filed, asking for a stay of execution of Mr. McVeigh.

Here's Nathan Chambers.


NATHAN CHAMBERS, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: ... we have requested that the execution now scheduled for June 11, be stayed. We requested this stay to allow us sufficient time to investigate, file and litigate a motion pursuant to civil rule 60B. Rule 60B is the procedural mechanism that would allow the district court to grant relief based upon fraud on the court.

The factual and legal basis for our petition is laid out in the petition that we filed. We will not at this time expand upon or explain further the arguments that are made in the petition. We will not argue the merits of our petition on the courthouse steps, but we will wait and make our arguments in front of Judge Matsch. At this time Mr. Tritico and I will be pleased to consider any questions that you may have.

QUESTION: Nathan, was the delay due to a broken Xerox machine?

CHAMBERS: That was part of it.

QUESTION: Thank you. What was the rest of it?

CHAMBERS: It was a substantial document. There's...

QUESTION: Did Mr. McVeigh want changes made?

CHAMBERS: He didn't.

QUESTION: Mr. Nigh said this morning that you received documents only yesterday. Is that correct?

CHAMBERS: That's correct.

QUESTION: Can you characterize those documents? CHAMBERS: Other than to say that it's an FBI 302, I cannot.

QUESTION: The Justice Department says those documents were not related -- directly related -- to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation?


QUESTION: The Justice Department said that the 302 document was not directly related to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. Is that true?

TRITICO: Well we are not going to comment on exactly what the content of that 302 is. We can tell you it's a 302 and we believe that it has merit on Mr. McVeigh's case and we'll be litigating that when we get in front of Judge Matsch.

QUESTION: Any indication from Judge Matsch as to when you will have this hearing?

TRITICO: We haven't gotten any word yet on when we are going to have a hearing.

QUESTION: Nathan, what degree of confidence do you have that you have received all the documents that Mr. McVeigh is entitled to?



CHAMBERS: All I can say is we have developed information, evidence, that leads us to believe quite strongly that we have not received all the documents. Our basis for that is in the petition that we have filed and we are not going to discuss it any further right now.

QUESTION: Do you think the government's guilty of fraud?

CHAMBERS: We are not going to argue the merits of our motion here. We have laid what we believe in our petition. It's on file, you can read what is in public and we will argue it in front of court.


TRITICO: We haven't asked for any specific amount of time. We are going to wait until we get a hearing and see how it unfolds.

QUESTION: Are you guys going to get a hearing?

TRITICO: I am sorry?

QUESTION: How much time do you need?

TRITICO: We need all of the time -- all of the time it takes to get ready.

QUESTION: Which is?

TRITICO: We don't know yet.

QUESTION: Weeks? Months?


QUESTION: You indicated that there was some significant information. Can you talk about the specific information, what is significant about it?

CHAMBERS: No, we are not going to discuss the content or the substance of the documents that we have received. We think that it would be a violation of an order that's been in place of this case for a long time.

QUESTION: What did Tim say when you provided him with the information today?

CHAMBERS: We are not going to discuss -- I have not talked to him today. Our colleagues, Mr. Nigh and Mr. Burr did and they had a conference in Indiana and we're not going to discuss the nature of our dealings with our client.

QUESTION: You said that you asked for a stay and you said that there was a fraud on the (OFF-MIKE) that's the procedural mechanism under which you're filing this. Can you explain what the relationship is between the request for a stay and the fraud on the court?

CHAMBERS: Dan, it's in the pleadings. We are not going to argue it here.

QUESTION: Do you think you'll get a hearing?

CHAMBERS: That's going to be up to Judge Matsch. We don't presume to speak for...

QUESTION: You don't have an automatic right (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Chris, a lot of people can't understand of what this is all about, why it's going on like this. Can you explain what you think is important for people to understand about the process at this point?

TRITICO: Yes, I think it's important for everybody to understand that the Constitution works for everybody and the government has a responsibility and an obligation to ensure that every citizen get a fair trial. That's what this process is all about.

QUESTION: The attorney general characterized some of these documents in basically trivializing some the nature of some the documents. Can you comment of what he has said about the documents, if it's true...

TRITICO: I have no intention to get into a public debate with General Ashcroft. We will address General Ashcroft's comments when we get into the courtroom. But I am not going to stand out here on the street and argue with the attorney general. I don't agree with him, but I am not going to argue with him.

QUESTION: Are you at all concerned that Timothy McVeigh is sort of trying to become a hero here, referring to it today as based on principle as opposed to personal reasons. It sounds like Timothy McVeigh's trying to defend the rights of Americans and I think that some people find that offensive.

TRITICO: Well, I don't -- I don't know how you can find it offensive that anybody would stand up for the principles outlined in the Constitution whether it's Timothy McVeigh, me, Nathan Chambers or anybody else.


WOODRUFF: Well, as INSIDE POLITICS gets underway, as you see, we went straight to Denver where attorneys for Timothy McVeigh have just announced that they have filed an application seeking a stay of his execution -- the execution has been scheduled for June 11 -- because of documents that they say have been withheld, still being withheld by the FBI.

They say this case requires another look. Let's go now to Terre Haute, Indiana where CNN's Susan Candiotti is outside the prison where Timothy McVeigh is being held -- Susan.


It was here this day that two of McVeigh's other attorneys met with him for two hours and where he signed off on that motion to try to stop his June 11 execution date. Now, we have more information from you that I have learned regarding the controversy surrounding this latest document turned over by the government to the McVeigh defense team that Mr. Nathan Chambers cited just a little while ago.

That is called a 302 form, filed by the FBI. It is a summary of an interview. Now McVeigh's lawyers say that this is evidence, once again, since they got it within the last 24 hours, that the government still hasn't turned over additional information to them. However, I have learned, according to a source, well-informed source, in this matter, that indeed, here's what that document is all about.

It was an interview that was conducted by a now former FBI agent years ago after the Oklahoma City bombing. The interview is said to have been done with one of McVeigh's defense investigators. However, the sources say, this interview had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bomb case. So that indeed would be new information. The government publicly insists as well that the case had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bombing, but would not in any other way categorize what the information was all about.

And so, now what we have before us is this new filing, a 340-page motion, 300 pages of it have to deal with exhibits, and now it is before trial Judge Richard Matsch. He must decide what to do next. He can ask the government for a written reply, or he may indeed grant this evidentiary hearing before deciding whether to issue a stay.

But everyone expects, all legal experts do, that Judge Matsch will probably make a decision quickly, because that's the way that he operates and after all, the execution, come tomorrow, is just 11 days away. Back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Susan Candiotti reporting from Terre Haute, Indiana. And again, Timothy McVeigh's attorneys apparently alleging that there has been what they call a fraud upon the court, and therefore this case is wide open once again.

All right, now lets bring in our justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

Kelli, what is the Justice Department saying about all of this?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the Justice Department still insists that all relevant information has been turned over to Timothy McVeigh's defense team. Now, as for the latest document that McVeigh's lawyers say was turned over just yesterday, Justice says that was from another investigation totally unrelated to the Oklahoma City bombing. But it was turned over anyway in the interests of caution. That document is under seal.

In response to McVeigh's request for a stay of execution, Attorney General John Ashcroft released a statement. It reads in part, quote, "The Department of Justice is prepared to oppose vigorously any attempts to by Timothy McVeigh to overturn his conviction and sentence or to force a new trial. No document in this case creates any doubt about McVeigh's guilt or establishes his innocence."

Now on justice source tells -- says that the department expects to be asked by the court to submit a statement before a decision is made on whether to grant a stay of execution. The source also says lawyers at justice have been working on that argument in anticipation of this latest move by McVeigh's defense team -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kelli Arena, thank you very much. I know that you are following the story very closely.

Well, joining us now to talk about the McVeigh case and slip-ups by the FBI, former Attorney General Janet Reno. She joins us from Florida, where she is considering a run for governor. And we are going to talk about that in just a few moments. But Ms. Reno, I would like to begin with today's story, namely the request by attorneys for Timothy McVeigh that his execution be postponed, that this case be opened up again. Are you surprised by what they've done?

JANET RENO, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can't comment because I have not been briefed on the matter.

WOODRUFF: Is the government case, Ms. Reno, undermined in any way by the fact that these documents were either not turned over or, for whatever reason, were not a part of this case when the trial took place? RENO: I cannot comment because I have not been briefed on what the documents are, and what the nature of the information is.

WOODRUFF: Well, aside from the specifics of this case, let me just ask you this: His attorneys are talking about what they call a fraud upon the court. They're saying it's an old doctrine that says, basically -- and I know that you are familiar with it -- that when a court has -- a fraud upon the court has been perpetrated by one of the parties to a legal proceeding, a judgment by the court is thereby deemed to be void. Is this something that is appropriate in a situation like this?

RENO: Judy, I have not read the pleadings, and one thing I've learned long ago, never comment on something that you haven't read.

WOODRUFF: Is there any comment you can make at this point, Janet Reno, about...

RENO: No...

WOODRUFF: ...about the McVeigh situation?

RENO: No, I don't think that it's appropriate because it is pending. I have not been briefed since I left office, and I think it would be better for the matter to be determined in court.

WOODRUFF: All right, let me just quickly then turn to another story that's very much in the news today, and that is, accused FBI counterspy Robert Hanssen pleading not guilty to some 21 counts of espionage. Now, he has requested a jury trial, and my question is: should the government continue to push for the death penalty in this case?

RENO: That would clearly be inappropriate for me to comment on. That's something that the attorney general should address.

WOODRUFF: As I know you know, Ms. Reno, the FBI director Louis Freeh opposed the death penalty, but your successor as attorney general, John Ashcroft has asked for the death penalty. There are those in the intelligence community who say, someone like Robert Hanssen needs to be under for whatever information may come up later. Do you have a view on this one way or another?

RENO: No, I don't. I think that -- again, before we make a judgment...

WOODRUFF: Well, let's...

RENO: ...on the requesting the death penalty that you should have all the facts before you.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we -- can understand why some of this may be delicate for you to comment on. But -- you can understand why we are asking the questions.

RENO: Yes, you have learned after eight years that I don't comment on pending matters and particularly where I have not been briefed.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we are going to continue this conversation with former Attorney General Janet Reno and get to a subject that I think she will want to answer some questions on after a short break.

When we come back, we will look at the political headlines that she is making right now in her home state of Florida. Also ahead:.

President Bush comes under criticism from the right. A conservative group goes public with opposition with what it calls the Republican homosexual agenda.

And later, national attention and a lot of cash pour into Virginia's Fourth Congressional District. As decision day approaches, a special election for Congress. This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: We're going to continue our discussion now with former Attorney General Janet Reno, and now we focus on her political future. If she decides to run for governor of Florida, she would supercharge what is already one of the most anticipated races in 2002. Many Democrats would love to see GOP incumbent Jeb Bush defeated, as a payback -- if nothing else -- for the Florida presidential dispute. But could Reno deliver?


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Even before making a decision on whether to run for Florida governor, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has vaulted to the top rank of Democratic prospects.

A "Miami Herald" poll this week puts Reno just six points behind Republican Governor Jeb Bush. Her 43 percent was the best of nine potential Democratic candidates. Reno enjoys unmatched name recognition and a record of service in Florida. She was elected four times to public office in Dade County before President Clinton named her attorney general in 1993.

But her record as the nation's top lawyer is highly controversial. Reno angered conservatives by refusing to name an independent counsel to investigate then-Vice President Al Gore's role in the 1996 fund-raising controversy, then she angered many Democrats by repeatedly extending Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation.

Her toughest moment: the 1993 standoff at Waco, Texas. More than 70 people died in the violent resolution, including many children.

RENO: I made the decision; I'm accountable, the buck stops with me. And nobody ever accuse me of running from a decision that I made, based on the best information that I had.

WOODRUFF: In terms of its potential impact on the Florida governor's race, Reno's handling of the Elian Gonzalez case may be the most incendiary. Miami's politically influential Cuban-American community continues to be furious over her insistence that Elian go back to Cuba with his father. But among Florida's booming immigrant population, Cuban-Americans are losing their dominance. There are now as many non-Cuban Hispanics, who are generally more sympathetic to Democrats, as Cubans.

That same "Miami Herald" poll asked, whether her handling of the Elian Gonzalez case helped or hurt her prospects to become governor. Floridians were split.


WOODRUFF: Now let's go back to former Attorney General Janet Reno. She joins us from Miami.

Janet Reno, let me just quote what a Cuban-American voter said when he was asked by a reporter about the notion that you might run. He said, butterfly ballots and Elian and now this: Janet Reno. He says, if this happens, it will be crazy around here all over again.

Is that the sort of reaction you're getting?

RENO: No, I am getting a very interesting reaction from people that says, go for it. We're for you. People are speaking out. They're talking about how they feel about the issue. Because I think we've come to the point where we can talk about why the little boy was returned to his father; why I did what I did.

And bet it -- basic reason was, he belonged with his father who had contributed so much to his upbringing. Simple as that.

WOODRUFF: You have had, to put it mildly, a very active eight years in Washington. You could have gone back to Florida and relaxed, taken it easy. Everyone would have understood. Why, instead of that, are you thinking about diving into what has to be of a frenetic, frantic campaign for governor of the state?

RENO: I did come back, bought my pickup truck, prepared to go West to see the country, thought I was done with public service, thought I had done my -- my share, and then people approached me about running for governor.

I love this state. I care so much about it. I was born and raised here, and I ask young people to serve, I asked them to get involved in the political process, to seek office, to consider running for office. Because that's the lifeblood of democracy, and I suddenly thought, how can I be critical of what is happening, if I stand on the sidelines and don't at least consider being involved?

WOODRUFF: Right now, what do you think the chances are that you will run?

RENO: I made a decision long ago that when I consider an issue like this, I let it all percolate without making judgments as I go along. WOODRUFF: We know that you are perfectly capable of not answering a question if you don't want to answer a question. But what will influence your decision? What will you base this decision on?

RENO: I think Florida needs to make a much more significant investment in its children, both in early childhood in K through 12 and in university and higher education. Because that state is -- is so particularly positioned to be a vital force in the world, and it's people should have the education that can prepare them to be competitive.

I think one of the issues will be the preservation of our natural resources, our water quality and water quantity. It's a beautiful state. I have gone down most of its rivers and dived in its springs and on its reefs and I want to do everything I can to make sure that we maintain the beauty of Florida that I know.

I think that it's important to focus on the issues with respect to the elderly. I think we can build communities that are supportive of the elderly, and give them a far better chance to remain self- sufficient in their own homes. But we have to explore so many avenues, because there will be a greater number, and we must give them a life that is comfortable, and as self-sufficient as possible.

WOODRUFF: Let me just quickly mention some of these controversies during your time as attorney general and ask you, why you think they wouldn't be an impediment. Number one, the standoff in Waco?

RENO: A jury has spoken, an independent special counsel has spoken, saying that there was no bad act involved. The jury found no reason to hold the federal government liable for it, or the agents liable for it. And as Senator John Danforth, the special counsel wrote to me. He said I think you did exactly the right thing in Waco.

You could have not walked away from four agents being killed and 16 wounded, you could not have remained there permanently, and the delay of two weeks or two months wouldn't have made any difference, because David Koresh was out to create his own Armageddon.

WOODRUFF: Elian Gonzalez?

RENO: I made a decision that a little boy, who'd lost his mother, belonged with his father. His father had a great deal to do with his upbringing, even that's -- even the little boy's mother had said that. One thing everybody can agree on, Elian Gonzalez is a special little boy. And anybody who had contributed to his upbringing, and who was his father, certainly deserved to be with him.

WOODRUFF: The decision not to appoint an independent counsel to look into fund-raising abuses -- apparent fund-raising abuses by then- Vice President Al Gore?

RENO: I went through every fact, I reviewed all the evidence, I reviewed the law. I applied the law to the evidence, and made a decision. I've made decisions in favor against people. I've called them like I see them, and I think that when the people are really asked what they want, they are going to want people serving them who call it like they see them, regardless of what's involved.

WOODRUFF: Janet Reno, there are those who point to the fact that you have Parkinson's disease, they say, whatever they think of your political ability, this is something that may be a disqualifier. How do you respond?

RENO: Well, it shakes sometimes. But I used to tell the press corps at the press availability of the Justice Department, you get used to it. If you all get used to, it won't bother you, either. My general theory is that anybody who can survive eight years in the Department of Justice considering some of the slings and arrows that are thrown, and then go home and go kayaking without losing her kayak on the Chattanooga and the Okie is going to be prepared.

WOODRUFF: And let me ask you about another thing: you have been out of the state of Florida. It may be your home, but you have been in Washington for the last eight years, and what about those voters there who want somebody who's been around?

RENO: I think they want somebody who cares about Florida, who knows about Florida, who knows about the issues, and I have followed that for most of my adult life. And will continue to do so because I love the state so much.

WOODRUFF: Is Governor Jeb Bush vulnerable, presuming that he decides to run again?

RENO: I don't think I should comment on that. I want to talk about the issues. I want to talk about what I can do, and the decision I will make is, how can I best serve Florida, outside or inside government?

WOODRUFF: Well, do you think he's been a good governor?

RENO: I think there are issues that we must focus on. I think, as I have told you, much more must be done to make an investment in our citizenry that will prepare them with an education that can make them competitive in the world market. We must do more to protect our elderly, and we must do far more to preserve our natural resources, our water quality, and all that we feel make Florida such a beautiful state.

WOODRUFF: And finally, when should we look for a Janet Reno decision?

RENO: As soon as possible. But I want to do it in a thoughtful, careful manner.

WOODRUFF: Meaning, June?

RENO: I don't put a time limit on it. I want to listen, and I want to make an informed, thoughtful judgment of how I can best serve Florida. WOODRUFF: Former Attorney General Janet Reno, we thank you very much for joining us to talk about this and about the stories of the day, Timothy McVeigh, and Robert Hanssen. Thanks again. We appreciate it.

RENO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: A standoff pits authorities against six children in Idaho. Why did they lock themselves inside their home? The latest as we check some other top stories, when we return.


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

Police are keeping their distance today from six brothers and sisters encamped in their family's home in northern Idaho. The standoff began on Tuesday after the children's mother was arrested on charges of injuring a child, and authorities attempted to take the children into custody. Authorities say there are guns in the home, and neighbors say the children are trained in survival tactics. They are believed to be drinking lake water and eating lily pads.

Police who approached on Tuesday were met by a pack of attack dogs. The eldest of the children is 16, the youngest is eight.

WOODRUFF: It's hot in California, more than 100 degrees expected in some areas. That means folks are running air conditioners at full blast. And that helps contribute to power shortages. In response, state power grid operators declared a Stage 2 alert today. If it gets worse, rolling blackouts could occur.

The bodies of 12 -- of 14 Mexican immigrants who died in a border-crossing attempt when they were abandoned in the Arizona Desert are back home now in Veracruz, Mexico. The guide who allegedly left the men in the desert last week has been indicted on 25 counts of immigrant smuggling. The men died of heat, exhaustion and dehydration. Yesterday the border patrol announced it had found the bodies of two more immigrants in the desert outside of Tucson.

Health officials are expressing concern over a new study on AIDS. It shows that young gay men are contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, at rates similar to the explosive first years of the epidemic. Results of the government survey were released today, the 20th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS. It says that 4.4 percent of gay and bisexual men aged 23 to 29 are newly infected each year. It suggests even more staggering infection rates for African-Americans: One in seven become HIV positive each year.

The executive director of a lesbian-gay health organization here in Washington says behavior may be a factor.


CORNELIUS BAKER, WHITMAN-WALKER CLINIC: There is a difficulty dealing with homosexuality, and so a lot of men don't recognize it publicly, they hide their sexuality, they engage in behavior -- in very secretive ways that makes it difficult to get prevention programs and messages to people. We also know that there's a stigma against getting tested for HIV, acknowledging HIV, because people don't want to be condemned.


WOODRUFF: That's Cornelius Baker of the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Change is already underway in the U.S. Senate, and Jim Jeffords still has not officially left the Republican Party. When we return: how the change in Senate control is affecting Senator Jeffords, the Democrats' future majority leader, and even the Senate seating chart.


WOODRUFF: Congress may be in recess, but the political upheaval of last week continues to ripple through Washington. The impact of Jim Jeffords' decision to leave the GOP is already affecting the nation's political agenda, as well as more mundane matters such as the day-to-day operations of the Senate.

I'm joined now by CNN congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Jonathan, first of all, what about those reports that Senator Jeffords has actually received death threats since he announced this decision?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senator Jeffords' office does confirm that he has received death threats. They do say that they're taking the threats seriously. They said they began to happen shortly after he made his announcement last week. And, in fact, Jeffords was accompanied by capitol police -- Capitol Hill Police up in Vermont and in Washington. Jeffords' office saying they're taking the threats seriously, although they're not discussing their security arrangements.

WOODRUFF: All right, now to the Senate. We understand there's talk, actually, of moving his seat, literally, in the Senate.

KARL: Well, absolutely. He's on the, of course, the Republican side of aisle right now. Democrats expect he'll move over to the democratic side, but not necessarily. You know, Wayne Morris, who was the last Republican to become an independent back in 1953, an Oregon senator, actually moved his desk to the aisle, right in the middle of the aisle, to demonstrate his independence. It was a symbolic gesture, though, that only lasted a few days. So it is expected that Jeffords will go over to the democratic side when this happens Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: All right, now, looking ahead, when the Democrats do take over, Jonathan, what you are hearing about their reorganization plans in the Senate?

KARL: Well, what's happening right now is there's a little bit -- there's some maneuvering on each side over how the Senate will look. The biggest issue is how the Senate committees will be organized. Senator Tom Daschle has given Trent Lott a proposal on this; it's only 41 words long. I think we have a copy of the actual resolution. It says -- it makes, basically, just two points.

The first point is that every committee will have a one-seat majority for the majority -- the Democrats, and that the actual composition of those committees which, of course, do all the Senate's business, will be decided by Lott and by Daschle.

But Republicans are saying, not so fast. They want more. The most important thing that they is they want an assurance from the Democrats that the Democrats will move forward on presidential nominations. What they are saying -- that even if those democratically controlled committees reject a presidential nomination, they want to get a full vote on the Senate floor.

Daschle -- I was with his yesterday in South Dakota when we were on a drive between the tiny towns of Howard and Woonsocket, I asked him about this proposal and he rejected it outright. Here's what he said.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I'm not sure I've ever heard of anything quite like that before. But, you know, we can't -- we're going to use the nominating process that the Senate has used for decades, if not generations -- is to go through the hearing process, make our decisions without making any early commitments about what we're going to do one way or the other.


KARL: Now, Democrats are saying that they will show that they will move forward on presidential nominations, but they're not going to offer any kind of assurance that the Republicans want.

WOODRUFF: Now, what did Senator Daschle say about working with the Republicans?

KARL: Well, Daschle has been saying over and over again that he's willing to work with the Republicans, he's going to work in a bipartisan manner, that his majority is a very slim one, he recognizes that. But also while we out there in South Dakota yesterday he made it very clear that he is not afraid of some very strong partisan disagreements with the Republicans. Here's what he said.


DASCHLE: We have to stand up to thing we don't believe in. That's what the two-party system is all about; that's the noise of democracy. I'm not afraid of the noise of democracy. I'm not afraid that sometimes it's not stereophonic and harmonious in its sound. Sometimes it's a very screechy sound, but it beats the noise of violence any day.


KARL: And on that nomination question, Judy, Daschle was also making the point that the Democrats did control the Senate for 17 days earlier this year, and they had numerous committee hearings on, of course, the nominations for Bush's Cabinet picks. And they're saying that there's no reason to doubt they would do the same, regardless of any formal agreement with the Republicans.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jonathan Karl, thanks very much.

And we just saw Jonathan's pictures. He did spend some time with Senator Daschle in South Dakota this week. On Monday Jonathan is going to have a report -- sort of a behind-the-scenes profile look at the senator. And that, again, on Monday on INSIDE POLITICS.

Is the administration a little too diverse for some Republicans? We'll find out why one conservative group is taking aim at the White House over the appointment of two staffers.

WOODRUFF: A conservative group called the Concerned Women for America's Culture and Family Institute issued a report today accusing the Bush administration of, quote, "pursuing a gay Republican agenda." The White House has rejected the report's claims.

Just a short time ago, I spoke with Bob Knight, an author of the report, and with Rich Tafel. He is the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.

I began by asking Bob Knight why his group would issue such a report.


BOB KNIGHT, CWA CULTURE & FAMILY INSTITUTE: If things were occurring in isolation, it wouldn't bother us, but over the last few months we have been disturbed by a number of developments, particular appointments, the fact that the Bush administration has not rolled back any of the Clinton homosexual activism that was very evident in the eight years of the Clinton administration, and the rhetoric coming from some Bush administration officials.

It all adds up to us as a move to either make the Republican Party silent on this very pressing social issue or to join the other side, to actually promote homosexuality as something good and normal and decent and up there with ethnicity and skin color as a civil rights category. We think that's wrong. We think laws that add sexual orientation actually have the effect of putting people with traditional values outside the law.

I'm really concerned for the freedom of my children if the gay agenda succeeds.

WOODRUFF: Rich Tafel, what about the idea that they have issued this report in the first place? Are you comfortable with that idea?

RICH TAFEL, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS: Well, I'm comfortable that the president said he would govern from the middle, and that he -- I'm sure he has been criticized for the last two weeks from people on the left saying he was not moderate enough, and now he is being attacked by people on the right for not being conservative enough. I think he's right in the middle, and that's where he should be.

I think that if you are going to govern from the middle, you will be criticized from both extremes.

WOODRUFF: But I mean, the fact that this organization, the Culture and Family Institute, which is an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, that they have taken the time and the trouble to put this report together, you don't have any problem with the fact that they have done it?

TAFEL: I have a problem in a sense that I just don't think the American public really cares about that report. I think they care about education reform, tax cuts, reform in the military, so this issue, I think, is an attempt by groups on the right and the left to create a cultural war and keep it alive.

And the public is not concerned. I think the public wants solutions. I think this is just name-calling from one extreme, and we have heard it from both sides.

WOODRUFF: Cultural war. Is that what the point of this was, in the first place?

KNIGHT: The point of the report is to point out to the American people that there have been some very serious developments in the Bush administration that would surprise the pro-family supporters of President Bush.

WOODRUFF: Give us just a couple examples of what disturbs you.

KNIGHT: I think the appointment of Stephen Herbits over at the Defense Department to vet personnel applications is an amazing development. The guy is an outright gay activist, contributor to the Democratic Party and the original founding member of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and a fierce opponent of the gays in the military policy that President Bush espouses.

Why would you put somebody like that in a sensitive position determining who is going to be in manpower positions at the Pentagon?

WOODRUFF: Rich Tafel, do you...

KNIGHT: That kind of thing just doesn't make sense.

WOODRUFF: ... want to comment?

TAFEL: I've got one example: here's a guy who is the former vice president of Seagram's, he is a corporate leader, he does human relations. He came out of...

(CROSSTALK) TAFEL: Excuse me. Comes out of retirement to help old friends in the interview process, which is very Byzantine in this town when it comes to trying to get people into the administration. Attacking him how is he very qualified is ridiculous. It discourages people from public service. He's basically just doing good citizenship. This wasn't something he needed money-wise or career-wise. He was going back to help because he is very well-qualified.

Well, President Bush said in the campaign, I will have the most qualified people in qualified positions. And that...


KNIGHT: You put people in positions that directly oppose your views on that issue?

TAFEL: They oppose Robert's views, but not the president's views.

KNIGHT: Oh, no, wait a minute, the president said he was for "don't ask, don't tell." Mr. Herbits is against even that. He wants gays in the military. He has made no bones about it. So, why put a guy in a job that disagrees with you fundamentally?

WOODRUFF: So, you are saying, Bob Knight, you are saying somebody like Mr. Herbits, somebody like Mr. Evertz at the White House are not the most qualified people?

KNIGHT: Well, Scott Evertz was appointed AIDS czar because he is a homosexual activist, not because he has special AIDS knowledge, not because he has been active in AIDS circles. Just one criteria, just that he is a gay activist.

WOODRUFF: How do you know that?

KNIGHT: Look at his resume. That's the only thing he's got going. He was very active in the Log Cabin Republicans in Wisconsin, and the good old boy network of gay Republicans, that got him the job. And you know, you think somebody would have better credentials than that if they are managing a health crisis of this proportion.

WOODRUFF: Rich Tafel, how do you respond?

TAFEL: Scott Evertz is a conservative Republican who has been his whole adult live involved in nonprofit work and health care field, and they cannot find a reason but to say that he is gay. It's the only qualification...

KNIGHT: No, it's not because he's gay, it's that he got the job because he's gay. There's a very important distinct, Judy.

TAFEL: He's very well qualified.

KNIGHT: You know, I have been asked often, like, are you against President Bush hiring anyone who is gay? No, that is not our position. Our position is that he should not go out hiring people because they are gay. That should not be a criterion. Having a sexual problem like that should not be a reason to get hired.

WOODRUFF: I think Mr. Tafel is saying, in his view, that's not the reason these people were hired.

KNIGHT: Well, why else was Scott Evertz hired?

TAFEL: Well, if you want to talk about his involvement in Log Cabin Republicans, for example, we've been in the Republican Party a group that has led the battle against AIDS, and the gay community has championed this issue for years before it was even a mainstream issue.

Right now, we are involved with AIDS in Africa. That's not a gay issue, it's a humanitarian issue, but our expertise in being involved in this health crisis comes to bear, and Scott Evertz has those qualifications, and that's why he was hired.

WOODRUFF: Bob Knight, you talked to somebody like David Mixner who was a former adviser to President Clinton, a gay -- has been a gay rights activist. He looks at the Bush administration, and says: "On a scale of one to 10, he rates them number two," when it comes to gay rights issues.

KNIGHT: Well, of course...

WOODRUFF: But you are coming at it from a very different perspective.

KNIGHT: Well, sure, he is a partisan Democrat, a Clinton friend. No matter what President Bush did to promote homosexual activism, the left-wing Democratic homosexual activists would say that's not enough, I'm sorry, it's still a homophobic administration.

So, he is never going to please the gay activists. What he ought to do is please pro-family voters who put him in office in the first place. The largest single voting bloc was pro-family Americans who believe in marriage and family and think two men having sex, there's something wrong with that.

WOODRUFF: Rich Tafel, how do you respond to that from someone in your own political party?

TAFEL: Sure. My answer to that is that he should not try to please anybody, he should do what's right, and what's right is that discrimination is wrong, and that's what he has been doing. And David Mixner and Robert Knight are never going to agree, because they are both engaged in a debate they want to perpetuate.

And the president has said, it's time for us to come together as a nation, let's bring ourselves together, let's find common ground, let's stop calling names and let's work on solutions, and I think that's what he has accomplished here, and that will never please the extreme left or the extreme right.

KNIGHT: Well, talk about name-calling...

(CROSSTALK) WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there. Rich Tafel, the Log Cabin Republicans, Bob Knight, of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women of America, thank you very much. We appreciate you both being here.

KNIGHT: Thanks for having us.


WOODRUFF: From a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful with money to spend, to dividing Virginia into banjo and banjo-free zones. We'll check the latest ad reel with David Peeler. Ads and money in the upcoming races ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS."


WOODRUFF: In less than three weeks, voters in Virginia's Fourth District will choose a new representative to fill the seat held by the late Norman Sisisky. This special election to replace the popular Democratic congressman is drawing a great deal of attention from both parties, from inside and outside the state.

Our Candy Crowley traveled to the district.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the national political arena, this is not the only game in town. Right now, in the national political arena, this is the only game in the country.

The 4th District of Virginia is having a special election to fill its U.S. House seat. The contest features two politicians with deep roots in the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ray and I actually used to camp out together in the boy scouts, so we go back a long way.

CROWLEY: Republican State Senator Randy Forbes is a Virginia- educated lawyer. Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas is a former shipfitter at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

LOUISE LUCAS (D), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: A lot of seniors you saw out here today worked with me at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, who say, I remember when were you there working down in a dry dock or working on the flight deck.

CROWLEY: The district, much like the nation, is marginal, political code for "could as easily vote Republican as Democrat." The issues -- military matters, Social Security, prescription drugs, education and agriculture -- reflect both district and national priorities. Outside the 4th, some think this looks a lot like a lab test for the Bush agenda. So the big boys have come to play.

The airwaves of the 4th are jammed with ads, many funded by the national Republican and Democratic parties.

HOWARD WOLFSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DCCC: We are very involved. We are doing everything we can to help our candidate.

CROWLEY: While the help is welcomed, neither candidate is particularly enamored of the idea of the 4th as some kind of national petri dish, and neither seems bound by party orthodoxy.

LUCAS: I was one of two Democrats who voted for a moment of silence and prayer in our schools, because that is reflective of this district. Those are the kind of things that I am about. And I am not one who would just go along with what others are thinking, because it is the popular thing to do, because that is what the party wants to do.

RANDY FORBES (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I admire President Bush. I think he's doing a wonderful job, but ultimately, my job is to represent the people of the 4th Congressional District.

CROWLEY: Still, the help keeps coming. Beyond money, the national parties are sending manpower.

A Republican favorite in Virginia, U.S. Senator George Allen spent part of his Memorial holiday week pushing for his old friend, trying to help out some new ones.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: As we saw in the Senate, every seat matters, and it matters in the House of Representatives as well, and the world is watching Virginia's 4th Congressional District.

CROWLEY: Perhaps more important to a district with a major military presence, former defense secretary Dick Cheney.

FORBES: I think people recognize that at least we can pick up the phone and make some phone calls to people who have some very good connections that can help this district.

LUCAS: Oh, you are 100 years old. I want some of that to rub off on me. Oh my heavens, you are beautiful.


CROWLEY: Lucas, too, has Washington ties, potentially more potent.

MARK SISISKY: I know that with Louise in Congress, my father's commitment to taking the values of the 4th District will be taken to Washington and will not be forgotten.

CROWLEY: Mark Sisisky is the son of the late Norman Sisisky, the wildly popular center-right Democrat who held the House seat for 19 years until his death early this year. This race, insists Lucas, is not about filling a seat in Washington, but about filling Sisisky's shoes in Virginia's 4th.

LUCAS: They are very much concerned because, you know, we have lost a hero. We have lost a giant in the Congress with Norman Sisisky is no longer there. CROWLEY: But with the Republicans holding the majority in the U.S. House by only 12 seats, there is no escaping the legislative implications of the June 19 vote in Virginia's special election.

(on camera): Still, the national political significance of the race in Virginia's 4th may be largely a matter of post-vote spin. Count on the party with the winner to find a national message here. Count on the party with the loser to dismiss it all as mostly local politics.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Portsmouth, Virginia.


WOODRUFF: All of that attention in the Virginia Congressional race means huge amounts of money are being spent on political advertising. For more on the money trail in this race and several others, I'm joined by David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

Hi, David.


WOODRUFF: First of all, how do the numbers break down in the Virginia's 4th District race?

PEELER: Judy, as Candy Crowley reported, everybody is playing in this race. And I think what is important here, is not only is it a big event this year, but it is a blueprint for what we will see next year. So far, Randy Forbes in the last month has spent about $200,000.

But what is really interesting here, is that the state party has come in with over $500,000 in the month of May in support, and some of those ads are going to attack his opponent. We have one of those ads; let's take a look:


ANNOUNCER: Louise Lucas actually voted to allow an 11 percent tax increase. The "Richmond Times-Dispatch" says she is acting like a demagogue. Louise Lucas should have voted "no" and higher gas taxes when she had the chance. Call Louise Lucas. Tell her to stop saying one thing and doing another.


WOODRUFF: David, what about Louise Lucas? Is the Democratic Party spending money for her as well?

PEELER: This is a tactic we see over and over again. Yes, Louise Lucas has spent about $125,000 over the same period of time, but what we see is the attack ads or the negative ads being supported by the party, and the Democratic state party has come in with close to $600,000 in the past month in support of her effort. Let's take a look: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE)

ANNOUNCER: The "Richmond Times-Dispatch" said Randy Forbes' allies were first out of box with an attack ad, an ad that attacks Louise Lucas for voting the same way as Randy Forbes, an ad the "Virginia Pilot" calls insulting, unfair and scares seniors. Randy Forbes' allies, for shame.


PEELER: The challenge here is that you really have to go for the swing voters. You know, as the last piece showed us, it's very much in the margin on who will win the race. So, you will see a very aggressive campaign both from the air wars as well as the ground wars in the final days of this.

WOODRUFF: We know there's also a governor's race going on Virginia this year. Tell us what is on your radar screen there.

PEELER: Virginia is where all the air wars are going on. We've got the Republicans have their convention this week, so the Republicans are not yet on air for the race for governor. But Mark Warner hasn't let that hold him back. The Democratic candidate spent $1.5 million. That's $1.5 million, spent it in the last month.

So, clearly this is going to be a race that there's going to be tremendous spending on. And clearly, what's interesting here is the demographics of Virginia have changed a little bit in the last couple of elections. Mark Warner is employing a two-state strategy here.

What he's had to do is to use the Northern Virginia base, where he's known as a high-tech executive and runs some ads that way; but also in the down-state, in the more conservative, rural area of state, he's running ads that tend to go towards that voter base a little more directly.

Again, this is a tactic we are something more and more. People looking in the statewide races to split the message; they're really trying go after the voter bases, and you can expect to see an awful lot more of this as we get down to the election this year.

WOODRUFF: Let's leave Virginia now and all that banjo music and head all the way out west to California, the Los Angeles city mayor's race. What are you seeing there?

PEELER: Well, we have been watching this one for a while, Judy, and it's been very, very interesting. You know, we are down to the runoff. We had a primary before. There's an ad that's running out there that's getting all of the attention right now. It's an ad by the city attorney James Hahn attacking his opponent Anthony Villaraigosa.

It's a very, very hard-hitting ad, it goes to Villaraigosa's involvement in a Clinton pardon. You remember that issue, where apparently, there was some involvement in a cocaine dealer being pardoned. Hahn has been on air in the last two or three days spending over $300,000 on that ad alone. So far, Hahn is being outspent by Villaraigosa almost 2 to 1, 2.4 million to 1.5 million.

But this is a very, very expensive race. We said it would be a very, very expensive race. They are getting down to the wire. The final debate is tonight. So, we'll see how much money is tallied in this one in the next couple of days, but it'll be the most expensive one until the New York race up in 2002.

WOODRUFF: All right. David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting. Thanks very much.

PEELER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And now, we have a follow-up to a story that we reported last week on some Democratic Party radio ad tackling the subject of gas prices. Some radio stations in Mississippi have now pulled the ad targeting GOP Congressman Chip Pickering off the air. The ad claims that Americans are paying high gas prices in part because Pickering and other congressional Republicans are too close to the oil industry and have not supported an investigation into price gouging.

In fact, Pickering and other House Republicans cosigned a letter last year to an Energy Department official saying, quote: "We are interested in determining if government intervention is necessary or appropriate to address these price spikes," end quote. A Democratic spokesman says the party stands by the ad.

Asking for a stay and fighting the Justice Department. The very latest on Timothy McVeigh as his execution date nears. That story and more political news still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Faced with ongoing violence in the Middle East, is Israel trying to turn up the heat on President Bush? As Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate, are they poised to clobber Republicans in another arena? And who's cornered in California? We'll have the latest political scoop from the Golden State.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. In just about 15 minutes from now, a federal judge in Denver is expected to hold a hearing in connection with Timothy McVeigh's request for a stay of his June 11 execution. At issue: which documents in the case will or will not be sealed? In their request for a stay, lawyers for the convicted Oklahoma City bomber accused the federal government of committing fraud against the court by withholding information during McVeigh's 1997 trial, and they charged evidence still is being withheld.


TRITICO: I think it's important for everybody to understand that the constitution works for everybody, and the government has a responsibility and an obligation to ensure that every citizen gets a fair trial. That's what this process is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: The Justice Department for its part insists that all relevant material now has been turned over to McVeigh's lawyers. The Attorney General John Ashcroft says his department is prepared to vigorously oppose any attempt by McVeigh to overturn his conviction and sentence, or to force a new trial.

Right now, let's bring in CNN's Susan Candiotti. She's outside the prison in Indiana where McVeigh met with his lawyers today. Susan, first of all, why is McVeigh doing this now when his lawyers said that he was prepared to die?

CANDIOTTI: You're right. Apparently, the man who once said he was prepared to die isn't prepared to die anymore, and that is because of all the events that have transpired in the last few weeks, the FBI turning over even more information, and that's why Timothy McVeigh has now filed a 340-page motion under seal asking not only for a stay of this June 11 execution, but also asking for a hearing, as you indicated, to put on evidence in which he claims the government intentionally withheld information from his defense team prior to trial, and that they continue to do so.

As a matter of fact, we learned just moments ago that trial Judge Richard Matsch in Denver, Colorado, has scheduled a hearing on whether to grant a stay of execution for next Wednesday in Denver. Now, also, as you indicated, the Department of Justice insists that it's turned over all relevant information, and that all the materials they have turn over to the defense contains no credible information, anything that would call into question McVeigh's conviction or his death penalty.

And while, Judy, McVeigh's lawyers say they are fighting for fairness and that McVeigh is doing this as a matter of principle, his lawyers have also studiously avoided any questions about his innocence -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Susan, what are McVeigh's chances thought to be of winning the stay that they're asking for?

CANDIOTTI: Well, naturally, all of this would be up to trial court Judge Richard Matsch, but even former prosecutors who worked on the McVeigh trial say that the government will be hard-pressed to try to say that, yes, we made mistakes, but your honor, you should go ahead and execute him anyway, make sure that you -- that that is allowed to happen on June the 11th.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Susan Candiotti reporting to us from Terre Haute, Indiana.

And now we have a follow-up to yesterday's report that President Bush's 19-year-old twin daughters were under investigation for possible violations of Texas alcoholic beverage laws. Police in Austin, Texas today cited Jenna Bush for using false identification to attempt to buy alcohol. And her sister, Barbara Bush, was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

Both charges are so-called class-C misdemeanors in Texas, and they carry a maximum $500 fine and alcohol awareness course, community service, and a 30-day driver's license suspension.

And Jenna Bush pleaded no contest to underage drinking charges in a separate case less than two weeks ago.

Turning now to the Bush White House and its recently-enhanced role in pursuing peace in the Middle East. CNN's Major Garrett now on a personal appeal to President Bush made by the president of Israel today.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Israeli president pressed Mr. Bush to impose a deadline for the Palestinians to stop their attacks on Israelis.

MOSHE KATZAV, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: I believe that Yasser Arafat has the ability to stop the violence, to stop the terrorism.

GARRETT: White House officials said the president was noncommittal, but will continue stepped-up U.S. efforts aimed at ending all violence in the region. As he does so, the president, like others before him, is learning there are profound limits to U.S. power, no matter what form it takes.

Nearly two weeks ago, the administration turned more attention to the region, showcasing the Mitchell report on Israeli-Palestinian violence and its stern call for an end to the conflict.

GEORGE MITCHELL, MIDEAST COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: We call upon the parties to implement an immediate and unconditional cessation of violence.

GARRETT: So far, that hasn't worked. The White House also sent a senior diplomat, William Burns, to meet with both sides. That didn't end the violence either, but that, Middle East analysts say, has as much to do with the Israeli-Palestinian powder keg as the limits of Mr. Bush's power.

JONATHAN ALTERMAN, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: The administration knows that it doesn't have a magic wand. That level of humility itself represents a new approach from the American side. When you play the cards you have to play is a calculation the administration will be making.

GARRETT: The only progress so far has been the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian security talks.

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: That's a positive sign. At the same time, we're all looking for that unconditional cessation of violence, which we think is so essential.

GARRETT: Essential, but elusive, in part, experts say, because Mr. Arafat may not have the political clout to stop street violence until the Israelis give some ground on expanding settlements in the occupied territories. SHIBLEY TELHAMI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: You can't just persuade all the these people who are attending funeral after funeral, who are paying a price for all kinds of things that are going on on the ground on a daily basis, to put aside all of these issues without having something political to offer.


WOODRUFF: All right. That report from CNN's White House correspondent Major Garrett. Well, meantime, CNN's Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno spent some time with the president of Israel and frank joins us now. Frank, you were just telling me that he had some fairly strong things to say about the Palestinian leaders.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, quick clarification, Judy, if I may, it was actually yesterday that I got together with the Israeli president. A few other columnists over at Blair House just across the street from the White House. The Israeli president, it's a ceremonial position, Judy, as most may know, was unusually blunt when talking about Yasser Arafat. It was reflected in those public statements today.

But yesterday, over at Blair House, the president said flat out that Arafat is the head of the various organizations that are perpetuating this terrorism, as he referred to it, in the Middle East. And he said that Arafat has met with Hamas, he has not discouraged the activity, this is again the Israeli's president perspective on this, and in fact he said that Arafat wants and desires, that's President Katsav's words, these confrontations to pursue and further his own aims and that he, Arafat, has the power, as we heard just a moment ago in Major's report there, to stop this.

What the president of Israel said that he was going to convey was that sufficient pressure from the United States and from the free world, as he put it, could bring Arafat to the point where that violence is brought to a halt over there. Obviously, the Palestinians and others have a very different perspective on f what is going on there, though.

WOODRUFF: Frank, this represents a change in tone on the part of the Israelis?

SESNO: Well, this reflects the change of tone that, of course, came in with Ariel Sharon and the government over there, the prime minister. What this really demonstrates, though, is that this position, this largely ceremonial position that the president occupies and as he points out, sort of, personifies the national will of Israel itself. That national will has changed very dramatically in the eight months since this confrontation, this violence has been going on.

And the president of Israel said he was here because the U.S. policy toward Israel is still forming. He wants to be sure that he is bringing this Israeli national will very much front and center before the administration. One piece of business, the president of Israel says, and that is to get a cease-fire. And he expected and wants the United States to put its full weight behind that, meaning leaning on Yasser Arafat very hard.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's bring in our White House correspondent Major Garrett now, who's report we heard just a few moments ago. Major, we know all sorts of contacts going on now between top Israeli officials and the Bush White House, Secretary of State Powell, on the phone, I believe it was last night, with the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon. What message is the White House taking away from all of these contacts?

GARRETT: Well, right now, there is a bit of pessimism about exactly how much movement the White House is really going to see from either side, the Palestinians or the Israelis. William Burns' conversations with both sides over the past week have really not produced anything that White House officials believe is fodder for a breakthrough on either side.

And one interesting thing that was not talked about today when President Bush met with President Katsav of Israel. The president did not bring up the very touchy subject of Israeli settlements. White House officials say that it was an opportune time possibly to bring up that line, but the president of the United States did not. And of course the Palestinians have made it abundantly clear that it is the settlement issue that is at the heart of whether or violence can stop.

Because from the Palestinian perspective those settlements and any activity that enlarges them at all is, from their point of view, an act of violence itself, something that they must respond to. And that issue was not brought up today when President Bush sat down with the Israeli President, a signal perhaps that this White House is not going to embrace, in totality, the Mitchell's report's recommendation that there is an immediate stop to all settlements, not only natural growth, which the Israeli government has committed itself to, but building new settlements.

And that is going to be an issue that has to be resolved at least from the Palestinian perspective, before any real progress can be made on the ground toward a cessation of violence.

WOODRUFF: Not embracing the part of the Mitchell report, perhaps, and that would be an interesting development. All right. Major Garrett at the White House, Frank Sesno here in the Washington bureau.

Reading the political tea leaves, our Bill Schneider scours the states counting up the governors' races and the possible party gains.


WOODRUFF: As Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate, both parties are looking ahead to the 2002 congressional elections. But our Bill Schneider says there are other races where the balance of power will play out, races with high voter and party interest -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, for most voters the main event in a midterm election is the vote for governor. After all, governors tend to become presidents, like Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

With 38 states electing new governors this year and next, what can we expect?


(voice-over): Big gains for Democrats. That's what we can expect in the 2001 and 2002 races for governor. Why? Take a look. Here's where the 38 states electing governors stood before the big Republican breakthrough of 1994. Fourteen had Republican governors, 22 were governed by Democrats, and two by independents.

Then came the revolution of '94. Republicans picked up 12 new governors, giving them a total of 26. Democratic governors fell by half to just 11. What happened four years later? Not much change. The economy was booming, so 1998 was a good year for incumbents. And all those GOP Governors first elected in '94 were running for a second term.

Now comes the moment of truth. The '94 cycle may have run its course. In the elections for governor this year and next, Republicans are likely to have trouble holding on to their lead. As many as 13 Republican governors may be running for reelection, but for many of them incumbency may not be much of an advantage. Three incumbent Republican governors have never been elected. In Texas, Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry took over when George W. Bush became president.

In Massachusetts, Jane Swift succeeded Governor Paul Cellucci, who was named ambassador to Canada. And Scott McCallum took over in Wisconsin when Governor Tommy Thompson joined the Bush cabinet. GOP governors George Pataki of New York and John Rowland of Connecticut may run for a third term, which is always a little dicey.

At least one Republican governor running for a second term could be in trouble. That's Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, site of the recent unpleasantness. It would be quite a coup for Democrats to reclaim the governorships of Texas and Florida next year. Talk about beating the Bushes. There are 12 states where Republican incumbents will not be running. In 11 of those states, they are term-limited, including John Engler in Michigan and Tom Ridge in Pennsylvania. Those are big states with high-stakes races.

The two states electing governors this year both have Republican governors who can't run, or aren't running: Virginia and New Jersey. Look for tight races in both states this fall. Democrats are far less exposed. Of seven Democratic governors who may run for reelection, only two look like they may be in trouble: Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who may run for a fourth term, and Gray Davis of California, who's experiencing a power shortage in more ways than one.

And only four states have term-limited Democratic governors. Oh, yes, two states now have independent governors. Jesse Ventura can run again next year in Minnesota, that should be fun. And Maine has an independent governor who's term-limited.

(END VIDEOTAPE) In the governor's races as well as the congressional elections , 2002 could be the year when the GOP's mandate of 1994 finally runs out.

WOODRUFF: So, are we looking for some early warning signs this year in the governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey?

SCHNEIDER: We certainly are. Back in 1993, both of those states, Virginia and New Jersey, switched from Democratic to Republican governors. That was a sign of what was about to happen in 1994. If Virginia and New Jersey switch back to Democratic governors this fall, it could be a leading indicator of trouble ahead for the GOP.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Joining us now with his "Reporter's Notebook," Bob Novak of the "Chicago Sun-Times."

Bob, we just heard Bill Schneider talk about Gray Davis maybe having a tough reelection battle next year. You just came back from California; you were covering the governor's meeting with George W. Bush. What are you picking up?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, he has his back to the wall because of the brown outs and the energy and the power prices. and I thought that the Bush people thought that Governor Davis was very unimpressive yesterday, but people have been underestimating Gray Davis at their parallel for years. Gray Davis has been a tough fighter and he is clearly on a plan to blame George Bush for the power shortages in California.

And some of the Republicans I talked to, Judy, felt that the president should have had a little something more positive than just say, he's against price caps, when he came out to California. They are a little worried about his performance there.

WOODRUFF: Well, right there in the city of Los Angeles, you have the mayor, Richard Riordan, who's thinking about running for governor himself. What about that?

NOVAK: Everybody had been talking to Mayor Riordan for years, and saying, that you ought to run for governor and he's saying no, I am too old, I'm too old. He'll be 72 years old during the election next year. But now that he is leaving the mayor's office and going into the cold world, Mr. Riordan is seriously considering running for governor.

A lot of the Republicans are not too happy with him. He hasn't been much of a Republican, but I will tell you who likes him running for governor and that's the White House. He is the White House candidate for governor.

WOODRUFF: Well, there are, as you know, two Democrats in a run- off to take Richard Riordan's job. What are you hearing from Republicans out there? Where are they going to go in this contest? NOVAK: It's interesting. There's a lot of prominent Republicans: Stu Spencer, Ken Khachigian, and Senator Jim Brulte. They have all endorsed the former assembly speaker Tony Villaraigosa for the mayor's job, hoping that would help the Republicans with the Hispanic vote.

But the funny problem is that the rank and file Republicans in Los Angeles, and the only two members of the Los Angeles City Council are supporting Jim Hahn, so the Republicans are getting no credit either way, because their position is divided. That's a close race, but a lot of the old hands i talked to think that Jimmy Hahn will do it. He may be the last non-Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles.

WOODRUFF: All right. The story back here in Washington. With the turnover in the Senate, the Democrats taking over. Two California Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein are now going to have say over federal judgeships. What are Republicans saying?

NOVAK: The president has given them a veto power and that means that Congressman Chris Cox, who was slated to be on the court of appeals, and now the court of appeals is out. The Republicans that I have talked to in California think that a big mistake was made there, that it's a big boost for Barbara Boxer, who was up in 2004, and they feel that this is a sign of weakness by the president, and I, coming back here, I am hearing the same thing that this was a mistake by the president. But we will see.

WOODRUFF: Last but not least, a challenge to Trent Lott to be Republican leader in the Senate?

NOVAK: There are people in the Senate: senators, staff and lobbyists -- who are pushing Bill Frist of Tennessee to replace Trent Lott as Republican leader to be the minority leader now. That's easier said than done. It's harder to change the leadership and particularly a lot of it is sending signals, no more Mr. Nice Guy. He's talking about doing filibusters, all of the mean things that Tom Daschle did when he was the minority leader.

But keep your eye on Bill Frist and see whether he is a potential rival to Senator Lott -- Senator Frist of Tennessee.

WOODRUFF: We've never had a surgeon as a party leader in the Senate, have we?

NOVAK: No, we've had a lot of knife operators.


WOODRUFF: This may be a first. I knew that you would have a comeback for that, Bob. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.



WOODRUFF: ... and Defense Attorney Robert Shapiro will be the guests.

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



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top