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Senate Power Shift Begins to Unfold

Aired June 4, 2001 - 17:00   ET


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

President Bush suggests he's trying to improve the environment in Florida and in the soon-to-be Democratic-controlled Senate.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only place on Earth where crocodiles and alligators live side by side. We're kind of hoping that's the way it gets to be in the United States Congress one of these days.


ANNOUNCER: We'll profile future Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as he embraces his new role and an invitation from the White House. Plus...


ANNOUNCER: Let's get ready to rumble...


ANNOUNCER: ... are Republicans on the ropes in Virginia after choosing their nominee for governor?

Now Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. In their hearts, many Democrats probably would like to roll out a marching band and set off some fireworks to celebrate their takeover of control in the Senate. But the process apparently will play out in the next couple of days without a lot of hoopla, and at times, out of camera range.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Hi, Jonathan. How do you see this power shift unfolding?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, tomorrow will be the last day of Republican control of the Senate. Most of the action will be taking place off of the Senate floor, closed-door meetings with each of the Democratic, Republican leadership, trying to plot strategy for this transfer of power.

By the end of the day, we are expecting to see a meeting between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a reorganization resolution for the Senate that will define how those powerful Senate committees are organized.

Representing the Republicans at those talks will be five senators: Senators Mitch McConnell, Phil Gramm, Orrin Hatch, Pete Domenici, and Arlen Spectator (sic). Representing the Democrats will be just one person. That will be their leader, Tom Daschle.

The likely sticking point among many minor sticking points, one major one, and that's the question of presidential nominees. What the Republicans are asking for here is that if a nomination is rejected by a Democratically controlled committee, they want the right of the full Senate to vote on that. They don't want the Democratic chairmen to be to kill presidential nominations. Democrats say there's no way they'll agree to something like that.

Now, the Jeffords' switch will actually take place after the close of business on Tuesday. When the Senate's doors close, the cameras are turned off, Jeffords' desk will actually be unscrewed from the Republican side of the Senate and moved over to the Democratic side. He's likely to sit between Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico.

When the Senate opens for business on Wednesday, you will see Jeffords' seat over there on the Democratic side of the aisle, one of 51 on the Democratic side. And the first order of business, Democrats will want to put forth a motion making Senator Robert Byrd the president pro tem of the U.S. Senate. The president pro tem is primarily a ceremonial post, but it does put him in line of presidential succession, behind only the vice president of the United States and the speaker of the House. He'll be replacing Strom Thurmond in that position.

Now, finally, at that moment, Byrd will come forward. He will be in the chair, he will recognize Tom Daschle as the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. At that moment, all those ranking Democrats on Senate committees will become chairmen of the committees with the exception of one, and that's Senator Jeffords.

He will eventually become the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. That was the deal worked out between him and the Democrats when he switched parties. But that cannot take effect, Judy, until the Senate agrees, the Republicans and Democrats agree, and the Senate finally approves a reorganization resolution. And that's not expected to happen, if the Republicans get their way, for some time -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Jonathan, we always wondered how those desks were moved. Now we know.

Tell me, how is the soon-to-be ex-Majority Leader Trent Lott handling this change of power? KARL: Well, Judy, you can say he's being dragged kicking and screaming into the minority. Lott sent out a memo over the weekend to Republican opinion leaders that was also sent out to all members of the media about this transition of power, a very harsh tone sent to this, saying that they will be very aggressive.

Lott in this memo actually says that the Democrats -- and I will quote -- he says Democrats hold a plurality, not a majority in the Senate, and that their effective control of the Senate lacks the moral authority of a mandate from the voters. Lott setting a very tough tone in this.

He also goes on to say that finally -- this is quoting Lott's memo -- "Finally and most importantly, we must begin to wage the war today for the election of 2002. We have a moral obligation to restore the integrity of our democracy."

So clearly, what's going to with Lott and what his people are telling us is that you are going to see a new Trent Lott. He no longer has the responsibilities of leadership, leadership of the Senate. He will be more aggressive and more partisan when it comes to combating the Democrats.

WOODRUFF: And Jonathan, we know you've been working on a profile of the new majority leader, Tom Daschle. You spent some time with him in his home state. What have you learned about the senator?

KARL: Well, Tom Daschle likes to tell people that to know Tom Daschle you really need to know South Dakota, his home state. So I went out with CNN photographer Neil Brofman (ph). We spent time in many little, little towns in South Dakota. This is what we came up with.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never got to hug a majority leader.

KARL (voice-over): A hero's welcome for Tom Daschle on his home turf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.

DASCHLE: Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're hanging in, huh?

DASCHLE: I sure am. You bet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got the bull by the tail.

DASCHLE: Oh, boy, I'll tell you. I'm going to ride it as long as I can.

KARL: Like most politicians, Daschle, the consummate Washington insider, promises he'll never forget where he came from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?

DASCHLE: I'm well, thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to see you.

DASCHLE: Good to see you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations again.

DASCHLE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that also comes from my mom and dad and my sister.

DASCHLE: Oh, wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They think it's so wonderful...


KARL: Daschle's frequent trips home have the rhythm of a campaign full of old-style retail politics. In Woonsocket, population 466, he reads to school kids.

DASCHLE: So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around.

KARL: In Alpena, population 251, he tours a beef jerky factory. Daschle has represented South Dakota in Congress since 1978. He traverses the state by car and by small plane in a dash to visit all 66 counties: something he promises to do each year even as he takes on new responsibilities in Washington and considers a possible run for national office in the year 2004.

DASCHLE: I don't spend all my waking hours thinking about my next job. I really enjoy the one I've got.

KARL: In the tiny prairie town of Howard, Daschle's home for a night is Freddie's Motel, which at $30 a night has no fax machine and doesn't take credit cards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to South Dakota.

DASCHLE: Thank you.

KARL: The locals call him Tom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's kind of a down-home type guy. He'll never forget about us.

KARL: Daschle says this is his time to get in touch with his roots, but outside the school in Woonsocket, an interruption from Washington...

DASCHLE: Tom! Hello. I'm pretty good. Where are you calling from?

KARL: Soon-to-be Agriculture chairman Tom Harkin has some questions.

DASCHLE: I mean, if we don't pass an organizing resolution we revert back to the 106th Congress.

KARL (on camera): With his newly exalted status, Senator Daschle stands as the person most able to thwart President Bush's agenda, but he insists his first priority is representing the people of South Dakota, a state Bush won in a 22-point landslide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

DASCHLE: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

KARL (voice-over): Almost all the elected officials who greet Daschle are Republicans. They appreciate the clout he gives their state, but there's a tension just beneath the warm greetings.

MAYOR JOHN BALL (R), WOONSOCKET, SOUTH DAKOTA: I'd like to see him, you know, support some of Bush's programs a little more. South Dakota as a whole, you know, voted Bush across the board, and I'd like to see Tom, you know, support him because the constituency of South Dakota said, hey, we support President Bush.

KARL: Daschle, who has compiled a consistently liberal voting record, is unapologetic about his role as the often fiercely partisan foil to President Bush, pointing out that South Dakota voters also gave him a landslide victory in 1998.

DASCHLE: Well, I have the good fortune of knowing that they also voted fairly strongly for me in the last couple of elections. And I think that, by and large, the agenda that I reflect, that I hold to be so important is one that affects the vast majority of the people of my state very, very positively.

KARL: South Dakota's governor, Bill Janklow, is a longtime hunting buddy of President Bush's, but he's a conservative Republican who applauds Daschle's rise to power, even as it hurts his party nationally.

GOV. WILLIAM JANKLOW (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, I'm terribly proud of him. I think he's earned it. He's -- he's earned it the hard way: by working from the bottom up. That's the way to do it, and that's the way he's done it.

KARL: Congressman John Thune, South Dakota's fastest-rising Republican star, says local pride about Daschle's rise may also help the state's other Democratic senator, Tim Johnson, who is up for re- election next year. Thune says South Dakota voters may see a vote against Johnson as a vote against Daschle as majority leader, but he warns Daschle rise as a Democratic partisan may end up hurting him.

REP. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: If Senator Daschle is looked at and viewed to be an obstructionist to getting things done in Washington, that will have consequences back here, which could be adverse for him.

KARL: The 5' 8" Daschle works hard to put a softer edge on his partisanship, a style he says will mark his tenure as majority leader.

DASCHLE: I'm not an intimidating figure. I can't tower over people and do what Lyndon Johnson used to do and just brow beat them into submission. That isn't my style.

KARL: Daschle may frequently play obstructionist back in Washington, but he'll also work to keep happy those Republican voters back home who made his rise to power possible.


KARL: Now a couple of footnotes to that. One, Daschle's office actually says he is 5' 7", so I want to make that correction, not 5' 8". But, secondly and most importantly, Representative Thune, who the president has personally talked to about running for the Senate, is weighing a decision between running for the Senate and running for governor.

He says that immediately as Jim Jeffords announced he was leading the Republican Party and putting Tom Daschle in control, that he got calls from Trent Lott and from the White House saying, hey, this shows the stakes are so high you really need to run now for Senate.

But Thune, again, made the point that he believes that now with Daschle in control, it may be harder than previously thought to oust Tim Johnson as senator from South Dakota -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Finally, Jon, what is the smallest town he visited in South Dakota?

KARL: That would be Alpena, size 251. Interesting that beef jerky factory there, Judy, actually employs more than 400 people, so it employs more people than actually live in that town.

WOODRUFF: All right. You can explain that to us later.


KARL: ... economics.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan Karl, thanks very much.

Well, amid the changes in the Senate, the president plans to reach out to three of the chamber's major players, including the man at the center of a good deal of speculation in recent days: John McCain.

Let's check in now with our senior White House correspondent John King. John, tell us more about the president's outreach program.

JOHN KING, SENIOR CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, call it bipartisan week here at the White House. Tom Daschle, who Jon Karl just profiled, will be here for dinner on Thursday night with the president, this part of an effort, the White House says, for President Bush to build more of a personal relationship with the man, the Democrat, who will now run the Senate.

But Senator Daschle not the only one invited down here, not the only major player coming to see the president. Senator Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican of Rhode Island, a close friend, from a voting perspective, of Jim Jeffords, the man who just bolted the GOP. He, several weeks ago, requested a get-to-know-you meeting with the president. We are told this will happen this week as well, most likely on the same day as Senator Daschle's dinner on Thursday, and the man you mentioned, the more controversial manage figure, John McCain.

Now, he was supposed to have dinner with the president the very night Senator Jeffords announced he was the leaving the Republican Party. Both men agreed to put that dinner off. It's being rescheduled as well, perhaps as early as this week. The president leaves for Europe early next week. White House officials say they want to have that dinner as soon as possible, this now as the president tries to adapt to the dynamic here in Washington, administration officials insisting the president's agenda will not change.

He will, for example, also have a bipartisanship group of lawmakers in this week to discuss his education program. But officials here do acknowledge the president has to adopt to the new political environment. Sitting down with Senator Daschle, one way to do that, trying to ease the concerns among many Republicans, especially the moderates, like Lincoln Chafee, another way -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, we understand the president and John McCain actually did talk this weekend. Do we know what they spoke about, and where does their relationship stand?

KING: Their relationship was quite rocky. There is a little bit of distrust, not only between the two principles, but mostly between the two staffs. This conversation was no accident. There was a story in the "Washington Post" on Saturday, suggesting Senator McCain was already talking to his former campaign advisers about running for president as an independent.

Believe it or not, there are one or two top McCain advisers who actually have good relations with the White House, and they got worried about this. They believe some McCain advisers were way out ahead of themselves having a story in the newspaper that they say does not reflect Senator McCain's thinking. So, after a few conversations between McCain advisers and senior officials here, it was decided that the president would call McCain casually from Camp David, say how are you doing, wish him good luck with his meeting over the weekend with Senator Daschle.

And in that conversation, Senator McCain then personally reassured the president, A, that he has no plans and has not discussed running for president in 2004, either as a Republican or as an independent, and that he had no plans right now to leave the Republican Party. After that conversation, some of the advisers touched base as well.

Right now, everyone says everything is fine, this dinner will happen here at the White House. These two men unlikely to become close friends, but many believe now Senator McCain is in bit of a box, and he has to prove he is a Republican, that he has to, quote, "behave," according to one friend. And the White House recognizing, again, in this narrowly-divided Senate, they have to deal with Senator McCain, even if they don't like him that much.

WOODRUFF: Would have been an interesting phone call to listen in on.

Separately, John, how is the president now balancing his desire for bipartisanship with what is clearly, at least in large part, of a conservative agenda, and particularly his call for -- for tax cuts, the tax cut bill that he's going to sign this week?

KING: That's right. He will sign it on Thursday, the very day, again, that he will meet with senators Chafee and Daschle. He will have a rally in Tampa, Florida, later today, in about an hour, I believe, to promote that. Promises made, promises kept is the president's theme in the very important swing area of the state of Florida.

That is largely a Republican achievement in the eyes of the White House. The White House says very consistent with the president's initial plan, but even there the White House is trying to cast the signing ceremony as a bipartisan event, comparing it to the ceremony Bill Clinton had here in 1997 after striking the balanced budget deal.

But this will be the different flavors, or the different definitions, if you will, of bipartisanship. Democrats will be invited to that ceremony as well. Don't look for Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle to be here, however, they opposed the tax cut bill. But look for Senator Miller, Senator Breaux, Senator Baucus, folks like that to be here. So, the White House is trying to give even that event, as the president celebrates a conservative victory, some flavor of bipartisanship.

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

While President Bush hones his strategy for a new political era in the Senate, he got some unsolicited advice today from a Republican predecessor, former President Gerald Ford.


GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my hope, and I happen to believe that the White House has learned that if they want their programs through, whether it's with the Republican control or the Democratic control, they have to be willing to sit down and negotiate and come with up with the final answers that are bipartisan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: During those remarks today to the National Press Club here in Washington, former President Ford said he does not believe that Senator John McCain will switch parties. And the former GOP standard bearer praised the independent streak of Senator McCain and Senator Jim Jeffords, saying that he, Ford, does not support rubber stamp organization in politics.

President Bush returned today to the place that helped shape the current political dynamic, Florida. In less than an hour in Tampa, he is scheduled to celebrate those tax cuts that he will be signing into law this week.

Before that, Mr. Bush tried to polish his image on environmental issues in the Everglades. Our White House correspondent Major Garrett is traveling with the president.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president flew to South Florida to announce a boost in federal support for Everglades reclamation.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Restoration will not take years, but it'll take decades. It'll require the best efforts of all involved for a long period of time.

GARRETT: The president's first budget calls for a boost of 36 percent, or $58 million, in federal commitments to save Everglades habitat and its 38 endangered species.

BUSH: Lost if we are careless are the sparrows and wading birds, panthers and bears who live here, and the chance for future generations to see these creatures in the place that nature gave them.

GARRETT: Mr. Bush is working overtime to overcome the perception that he doesn't cares about the environment, and that's by demonstrating his brand of environmentalism, one that says federal lands can be protected and used at the same time.

Mr. Bush's approach, however, has even brought him in conflict with his brother, Florida's Governor Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush opposes the president's move to allow oil and natural gas drilling off Florida's western shores.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD (chanting): Hey, hey, ho, ho, toxic waste, it's time to go.

GARRETT: The president's environmental critics were kept at a distance, protesting moves to reverse Clinton-era policies on arsenic in drinking water, the Kyoto global warming treaty and the Endangered Species Act.

Democrat Congressman Peter Deutsch who praised the boost in Everglades funding, said the president is out of touch.

REP. PETER DEUTSCH (D), FLORIDA: What's clear is that this administration's position already in terms of the environment is totally out of step with the majority of the American people.

GARRETT: But Nathaniel Reed, an Everglades activist since 1960, said Mr. Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt, even from staunch environmentalists.

NATHANIEL REED, EVERGLADES ACTIVIST: He's been in office since January, got off to a rocky start. I'm for giving him every opportunity to prove that he really does care, and he has an administration around him that does care.

GARRETT (on camera): In the battle of perceptions, the White House advisers know that scenic backdrops and budget increases for certain environmental programs will only carry them so far. Said one: "It's a long battle, and the best we can hope to do is reverse things gradually."

Major Garrett, CNN, Everglades National Park, Florida.


WOODRUFF: The proposing oil drilling off Florida that Major Garrett mentioned in that report is one piece of the administration's response to rising gas prices in this country. The cost of oil remains a top issue on Capitol Hill as well.

Let's talk about that now and about the Senate power shift and how that's affecting politics in the House with the GOP Conference chairman, Representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma.

Representative Watts, today you announced that you are notifying the chairman of two different House committees that you want them to hold hearings, looking into rising gas prices. Why are you doing this?

REP. J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, Judy, as we have seen all over the country, including in the state of Oklahoma where I am from, there's a lot of volatility, there is a lot of instability in the market. In the last six or seven days, we've seen the price at the pump in the state of Oklahoma actually go down. In some states, we see it go up, or we see it stabilizing somewhat over the last few weeks.

I am curious, like everyone else, why the price spikes, and I have gotten my theory on why that is, but I think it's important to have this multifaceted industry to come into Washington and answer the questions, or give us answers to kind of detailed why the price spikes, why we see the market being so volatile right now?

WOODRUFF: Well, you say that you have got your theory. Do you -- is part of your theory that the oil and gas companies are raising prices just to raise their own profits?

WATTS: Well, Judy, I suspect that's not the case. I suspect that's not happening, but I think it would be advantageous for the oil industries to answer these questions. Come in and answer these questions. I think an informed public will be an asset to you, and an uninformed public will be a liability to you.

So, I think giving them the opportunity or giving those who this multifaceted industry, giving them the opportunity to come in and -- and give these answers, or give the answers to the questions that will be asked, I think it will be good for the industry, for consumers, for everybody concerned.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the answers that they, the industry, is putting out right now. Among other things, they're saying that world oil prices are high. They're also saying that the distribution system in this country is outdated and inefficient. Are those not answers sufficient to satisfy your curiosity?

WATTS: Well, Judy, the Federal Trade Commission, as you know, I heard Senator Levin of Michigan, I heard you talking to him last week, and you brought up the point that the Federal Trade Commission, they have done an investigation asking different questions, and I think Congress should ask many of those questions as well.

But I think we do have to consider, as President Bush has said in his energy plan, that we do have infrastructure problems. We hadn't updated our infrastructure in many parts of the country, and in some respects, 40 or 50 years. I think that we have to take a look at conservation. You know, infrastructure. Production. Look at environmental methods. Efficiency methods to try and conserve energy. But I think all of those things go into hopefully getting us where we all want to be.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, if it were to turn out that the oil companies were charging unfair profits, would you recommend to President Bush that he reconsider his opposition to putting caps on -- oil -- gas prices?

WATTS: Well, Judy, I am more concerned of price accountability. Not price caps, but price accountability. As I said, the industry is a multifaceted industry, you have retailers, suppliers, producers, you know, refinery, you have a multifaceted industry, the oil industry's is not monolithic.

But when we talk about price caps, we are talking about the state of California. I was the oil and gas commissioner in the state of Oklahoma for four years. I was a public utility commissioner in the state of Oklahoma for four years. There are things that I think that Governor Gray can do with the city commissioners to get these same people in, these wholesalers, get them into their state commission, and ask them these questions. See if that in fact is the case. You don't have to wait on the federal government to it that. I was a state commissioner, I know that as a fact.

WOODRUFF: Let me just quickly change the subject, Congressman, to the power shift this week in the Senate. With the power moving now to the Democrats, or the leadership moving to the Democrat, does that set back the Republican agenda in the House and the Congress overall?

WATTS: Well, Judy, I think that in the Senate, obviously, procedurally, it will make things a little bit more tricky, if you will. I think that they're still trying to get this agreement to see what this new -- what this new -- what this new power structure is -- is going to be.

I heard the Jonathan Karl piece at the top of the hour with Senator Daschle. I think that, in that piece, it was detailed that they're trying to work out some agreement. In the House, it won't affect what we do in the House. It obviously will take I think a little bit more time in the Senate to get things done. But that's the nature of the beast. That's the rules of the game in the Senate.

With Trent Lott as majority leader, it often took things much longer to get things done if the Senate, than in the House.

WOODRUFF: But if the House is not -- you are saying it will not affect the House at all. If the House ignores it, sort of speak, is that not a recipe for gridlock in some instances?

WATTS: Well, Judy, it's not to anyone's advantage to ignore what is going on in the Senate. They are relevant. You know, we -- we -- we do know that.

But when you talk about what we have tried to accomplish, I think that it's just as important for us to fight for the things that we think are important to the American people, as Senator Daschle or Senator Lott or the Senate, that they think is important to the American people. We passed an education bill, bipartisan; we passed a very good tax bill that will be signed I understand this week. So, we've done some things. We need to get a prescription drug bill. You will see us work on that once we get back tomorrow and reconvene. So there's a lot that needs to be done.

Hopefully, we can go from obstruction to production for the American people, and so, we're going to have an opportunity to work together and take a look at where we are. But this new Senate arrangement, again, I don't think will have any affect of how we move legislation in the House of Representatives.

Obviously, once we get to conference, you know, we have to work with the Senate, but I don't think it will have any bearing of how we move legislation in the House of Representatives.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, Representative J.C. Watts, who's the chairman of the House Republican Conference. Thank you very much, Congressman. Good to see you again.

WATTS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The city of Los Angeles prepares to choose a new mayor. When INSIDE POLITICS returns, we will preview the issues and the candidates, just one day before voters head to the polls.

Also ahead: the weekend fireworks at the Virginia Republican Convention. A look at the winner and the runner-up in the race to be the party nominee for governor.

And later: the politics of AIDS, two decades after the disease first made headlines. This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: A rare convergence of sports and politics is taking shape this week as the NBA Finals get under way. Staples Center in Los Angeles was home to the Democratic National Convention last summer, and it is also home court for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Philadelphia's First Union Center is home to the 76ers, and it was also the site of the 2000 Republican Convention. For those looking for a winner, the NBA Finals have never been played in the convention cities previously, and the last election doesn't provide any clues, either. Al Gore won both Pennsylvania and California. So, go figure it out, and try to predict.

Most people in Los Angeles keep one eye on the Lakers. They also have an election to consider. Tomorrow's runoff for mayor matches two men with some similar views who also belong to the same political party. But as CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports, the two candidates present city voters with some stark contrasts as well.



ANNOUNCER: The next mayor of the city of Los Angeles, Jim Hahn!




ANNOUNCER: Antonio Villaraigosa for the next mayor!



THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the race for mayor of Los Angeles, time is running out. It's a high-stakes bid for the city's top job.

RAPHAEL SONENSHEIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is probably the strongest mayoral field Los Angeles has ever had.

GUTIERREZ: The contenders? 48-year-old Antonio Villaraigosa, former speaker of the California assembly, and 51-year-old James Hahn, a four-term city attorney.

In a city where 144 different languages are spoken, both candidates are working hard to break through.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, L.A. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I want to use the diversity that we have in this city and make us more prosperous as a city. GUTIERREZ: The pace has been nonstop, with debates, parades and church appearances.

JAMES HAHN, L.A. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Moving around this city that's 469 square miles, that's over 50 miles across from one end to the other, you can imagine we're spending a lot of time on freeways.

GUTIERREZ: Ironically, these two Democrats are competing now for the conservative voters since none of the centrist candidates made it into the runoff.

HAHN: I want to make Los Angeles the safest big city in America.

VILLARAIGOSA: I offer the largest expansion, the largest initiative to revitalize our schools in the history of the country.

SONENSHEIN: There's almost no difference in what they say they're going to do in government. The differences are in their records and approaches in the past.

GUTIERREZ: Villaraigosa received the coveted endorsement of "The Los Angeles Times," current mayor, Richard Riordan, a Republican, and Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat. But it is Hahn who has maintained a lead in recent polls.

SONENSHEIN: He's not particularly charismatic, he's not particularly exciting, but stable and solid.

GUTIERREZ: James Hahn has 20 years of experience in city government. His father, the late Kenneth Hahn, served a record 40 years as a county supervisor and helped bring the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. The elder Hahn was revered among African-Americans for his work on behalf of civil rights. South-central Los Angeles is where James Hahn grew up and it's where he has the largest base of support.

But if Hahn has the majority of black voters in his corner, Villaraigosa may have the majority of Latino voters. If elected, he would become the city's first Latino mayor in 130 years.

SONENSHEIN: This is a colossal transformation in Los Angeles and Villaraigosa is at the pivot of it.

VILLARAIGOSA: I grew up in a home of domestic violence, of alcoholism.

GUTIERREZ: Antonio Villaraigosa calls himself the poster child of the American dream. A high-school dropout who grew up in working- class East L.A., Villaraigosa eventually graduated from UCLA. In 1998, he became speaker of the state's assembly, pushing through a $9 billion school bond measure and a $2 billion park bond measure.

The candidates have each spent more than $2 million for the runoff, and they've spent most of it on costly TV ads.

(on camera): In the final days of the campaign, analysts say it's this television ad that attacks Villaraigosa's credibility that may have hurt him the most.


NARRATOR: Fact: Villaraigosa wrote the White House pardon office for the drug dealer...


GUTIERREZ (voice-over): The ad slammed Villaraigosa for seeing a presidential pardon for a convicted drug dealer. So Villaraigosa hit back.


NARRATOR: The "L.A. Times" called Hahn's charges misleading and distorted.


VILLARAIGOSA: I was disgusted. To try to associate me with drug dealing in the way that he has I think goes beyond the pale.

HAHN: I mean, the ad speaks for itself. It was his letter asking for a pardon for a convicted drug dealer.

GUTIERREZ: The ad controversy has ended the campaign on something of a bitter note. But Tuesday, Los Angeles voters will decide for themselves which candidate should lead the nation's second- largest city after eight years of Republican rule.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


WOODRUFF: The best evidence yet of Washington's delicate balance of power: The vice president is back on the campaign trail. When INSIDE POLITICS returns, find out why Dick Cheney went looking for votes in Virginia.


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

In Nepal, in the wake of the royal massacre, a new king has taken the throne, but conflict, not celebration, followed. Demonstrators took to the streets today clashing with police, and at least two people were killed. They demand an explanation for what happened Friday. Initially, government sources said a prince opened fire on his parents, the king and queen, killing them and at least six other family members before turning the gun on himself. Later, the palace said the shootings were accidental. The prince died of his injuries today.

A judge in Idaho has ordered the release of the mother whose arrest sparked a standoff between her children and local police, but the judge barred JoAnn McGuckin from seeing the children unless cleared by social workers. And at this hour, it is not clear whether McGuckin plans to leave the jail.

CNN 's Eileen O'Connor reports that McGuckin is demanding to see her children and also demanding that child neglect charges be dropped.

A new study sheds light on the extent to which guns seem to fascinate boys. As CNN's Rhonda Rowland reports, the study of boys from age 8 to 12 shows that many find guns to be irresistible.


RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost any parent will tell you boys are fascinated with guns. We saw it when CNN invited these boys to play with toy water guns. But what happens when boys find a real gun? 5-year-old Rudy Newborn found a loaded handgun in a relative's nightstand drawer. He shot himself in the eye. The bullet came out the side of his head.

(on camera): Did it hurt?

RANDY NEWBORN: I thought it was one of those pretend guns.

ROWLAND: So you thought it was a pretend gun?

LESLIE NEWBORN, RUDY'S MOTHER: He did not know. He could not tell the difference between a gun and a toy. To him, this was just another toy to be explored.

ROWLAND (voice-over): In fact, a new study shows most boys will play with a real gun if they find one.

DR. ARTHUR KELLERMAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: We found in the 29 sets of boys we tested, all between the ages of 8 and 12 -- old enough to know better, you'd think -- that over 75 percent of these boys put in a room for only 15 minutes found the real handgun that had been hidden there.

ROWLAND: As you can see in this video taken through a one-way mirror, the boys found both the real gun and toy guns concealed in drawers. A radio transmitter documented when the trigger was pulled. Of those who discovered the gun in the study, 76 percent handled it. Almost one-half pulled the trigger, and only half thought the gun was real or were unsure.

DR. HAROLD SIMON, PEDIATRICIAN: The families that were surveyed thought that most children in this age group would be able to recognize the difference between a toy gun and a real gun and would avoid touching them or playing with them or pulling the trigger, and that's not what we found.

ROWLAND: We asked these boys what they would do if they found a real gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, stop playing with that gun, you might kill yourself. QUESTION: Would you tell someone?


ROWLAND: But in the study, only one of the 29 groups of boys told an adult about the gun.

(on camera): These latest findings support the American Academy Of Pediatrics' recommendations that the best way to prevent gun- related deaths and injuries in children is to get rid of firearms in homes and communities.

(voice-over): Despite her son's accident, Leslie Newborn is not against gun ownership, but says:

LESLIE NEWBORN, RUDY'S MOTHER: Lock them away. Lock them away, because you can't let your guard down for it, not even for a day -- not even for a day.

ROWLAND: Although Rudy survived his gun injury two months ago and shows no brain damage, he will be blind in one eye for life.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Atlanta.


WOODRUFF: A high spirited state Republican Party convention in Virginia.

Up next, Bruce Morton reports on the festivities and the sobering challenge ahead for the new GOP nominee for governor.


WOODRUFF: The governor's race in Virginia is shaping up to be a real barn-burner, pitting the Republican Party's newly chosen nominee, state attorney general Mark Earley against Democratic businessman Mark Warner.

CNN's Bruce Morton went to the GOP convention to report on Earley's victory and his challenge.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Guys sliding down from the ceiling on ropes? Well, at a political convention, you need something besides speeches. This was part of a demonstration for one of the gubernatorial candidates, Attorney General Mark Earley.

MARK EARLEY (R), VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: I will not bend and I will not break and I will never, ever stop advancing the promise of Virginia for every man, woman and child.

MORTON: Most candidates courted the state's growing Latino vote with Hispanic Americans among their nominating speakers. Lieutenant Governor John Hager was "Chariots of Fire." He's done marathons in his wheelchair.

Hager reminded the delegates he has been a Republican longer than Earley.

LT. GOV. JOHN HAGER (R), VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: I was a national convention delegate for Ronald Reagan in Detroit in 1980, seven years before my distinguished opponent left the Democratic Party.

MORTON: They have a voting system that would make Florida proud.

Some areas voted electronically, some on paper, some people had 1/5 of a vote, and some had five votes, but the long count ended with a lopsided victory for Earley, who had strong support from Christian conservatives. Hager conceded defeat.

HAGER: I want to move that this convention endorse Mark Earley by unanimous consent...

MORTON: Earley will face Democrat Mark Warner, a self-made millionaire who was unopposed for his party's nomination and who has had success in raising money for this race.

LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL ANALYST: The early polls show Mark Warner ahead, both public and private polls. But he's not anywhere close to 50 percent, though. Generally in Virginia, Democrats do better in the spring than they do in the fall.

MORTON: The Republicans attack Warner as a rich man with no political experience and no program.

GOV. JIM GILMORE (R), VIRGINIA: When you pull back the curtain of polished multi-million dollar ads Mark Warner is a political hustler, every bit as slick as Slick Willie himself.

MORTON: But Warner, who ran unsuccessfully in the Senate in 1996, says his business experience has given him a record and a program.

MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: I think there have been a few governors in the past that have served without prior elected experience. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush came from the business side. I think coming from the business side, from the policy side that I have in health care and economic development and in education, are all areas that I have a record.

MORTON: And the Republicans have problems, the fight though a polite one for the gubernatorial nomination, and Governor Gilmore, now the Republican National chairman, now has his own trouble, a Republican governor that couldn't get a Republican legislature to agree on a budget.

Virginia is a Republican state but:

SABATO: It's not overwhelming Republican. This is not a Utah or Nebraska. Democrats can win here, primarily because of Northern Virginia, which now contributes about a third of the statewide vote.

MORTON: Earley sees the race as a referendum on President Bush.

EARLEY: I want Virginia to send a message loud and clear this November that we like the direction this country is moving. We like our new president and we want a governor that follows George Bush, not a governor that follows Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

MORTON: But it is more likely to be a referendum as Republican governor and legislature, and how, come November, the voters feel about them.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Richmond.


WOODRUFF: Voters in Virginia's 4th Congressional District will get a chance to express their feelings well before November. In two weeks, the Southeastern Virginia District will hold a special election to replace the Democratic Congressman Norm Sisisky, who died in March.

How important is this race to the national parties? Important enough that Vice President Dick Cheney took the morning off to campaign for the GOP candidate, State Senator Randy Forbes. Forbes is up against Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas. The district voted for Bill Clinton twice, but swung to George W. Bush last year.

High-tech weapons for political trench warfare. That's next, on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Every 10 years, the new census hits the political map like an earthquake, as population changes for state legislatures to change the boundaries of congressional and state districts. Redistricting is a complex and high-stakes process, with political parties trying to shape the boundaries to their political advantage.

As CNN's Kate Snow reports, this year, those doing the shaping are getting help from some powerful new computer programs.


KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how the art of redistricting used to work: giant paper maps spread out on the floor.

KARL ARO, MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES: You would have to sit there with a calculator and a paper and pencil, and write everything down and make sure that you added it correctly, and then you'd have to go back and check you calculations and make sure that they were right as well.

SNOW: Karl Aro has been working for the Maryland legislature since 1979. He's been through redistricting twice, drawing up proposals for state lawmakers. Doing it by hand was onerous. ARO: If I was doing something that involved the entire city, there are 37 map sheets for Baltimore City, and depending upon on where the area is and how the map sheets run together, you might be looking at two or three different pieces of paper just to do a simple change of maybe moving 1,000 people.

SNOW: Redistricting is all about moving people on paper, creating lines to delineate new legislative or congressional districts based on new population figures. Every 10 years, new census data dictates how many congressional districts a state should have.

Maryland will still have eight, but because of population shifts, the boundaries have to change, so that each one contains the magic number: 662,061 residents.

ARO: It's kind of like brain surgery with a sledgehammer, because you are going through neighborhoods and you are looking to balance population.

SNOW: But it's a lot easier than it once was.

ARO: All right, let's say, for example, we wanted to move some precincts.

SNOW: This is the art of redistricting in 2001: computerized maps with layers of data. Maps that used to take an hour to print are spit out in minutes, and they're easier to draw. With a click of the mouse, Aro can move boundaries.

ARO: That's it. That's all it takes.

HOWARD SIMKOWITZ, CALIPER CORPORATION: We see that darker, redder colors have a higher density population.

SNOW: Howard Simkowitz is demonstrating what his company's software can do. Change a line, and the program tells you how that affects the ethnic mix of a district, the racial mix, the number of Democrats versus Republicans.

SIMKOWITZ: You might have different objectives. You might want to build, for example, an Hispanic district. So, where do the Hispanic people live? Here we see they are concentrated certainly along the border of Mexico.

SNOW: The software can immediately locate the home of an incumbent, allowing users to target the enemy.

SIMKOWITZ: If this were the boundary for the district for this senator -- who is now located inside his district -- if you wanted to redistrict him out of the district, you would change the boundary to go along this line.

SNOW: For a few thousand dollars, anyone can buy the software and use it to craft their own redistricting proposals and submit them to their state. With Democrats controlling the process in Annapolis, the Maryland Republican Party bought a copy. CLIFF MYERS, MARYLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY: Hopefully, it allows us to be smarter. You know, we've got some very clear goals that we want to meet.

SNOW (on camera): But all this new technology can't change one fact. No matter how many computer-generated maps are churned out, redistricting battles ultimately are political decisions.

(voice-over): Maryland's Senate president predicts the governor's plan will win out no matter how many suggestions he receives.

MIKE MILLER (D), MARYLAND STATE PRESIDENT: Everybody's got a better plan than the governor. So when he submits a plan, we're not going to be able to get 47 senators and 141 members of the House to agree on a better plan than the governor's.

SNOW: Still, Karl Aro will be busy mapping out alternatives with the old paper maps on hand, just in case.

Kate Snow, CNN, Annapolis, Maryland.


WOODRUFF: Twenty years into the AIDS epidemic, have attitudes towards gay Americans changed? AIDS and its surprising political consequences, after the break.


WOODRUFF: Twenty years ago tomorrow, an article appeared in a medical journal describing for the first time a mysterious virus afflicting gay men, a virus that would later be identified as HIV. It was terrifying, especially for those facing both the disease itself, and an uncertain reaction from the American public.

So how have Americans reacted to AIDS? Joining us with more on that now is our Bill Schneider, out in Los Angeles -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, sometimes what's important isn't what happened, it's what didn't happen. That's the case with the nation's 20-year-long AIDS epidemic. The backlash against gays that a lot of people expected didn't happen.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): When AIDS began to emerge as a serious public health threat 20 years ago, a lot of people expected more hatred and repression of homosexuals. Instead, the dominant response has been sympathy and tolerance.

Look at the trend in public support for equal job rights for gays: a steady increase for the past 25 years, no evidence of any anti-gay backlash. The AIDS crisis led large numbers of gays to come out of the closet. They had nothing to lose. It was a matter of life and death. Gays have become part of the American landscape, even on network television.




SCHNEIDER: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it," gay activists said, and Americans did. In 1982, at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, only a third of Americans considered homosexuality a, quote, "acceptable" alternative lifestyle. Now, for the first time, a majority of Americans endorse a tolerant view of homosexuality.

AIDS also politicized the gay community. Since AIDS did not start out in mainstream America, mainstream leaders and organizations were slow to respond. It took the AIDS death of a well-known actor Rock Hudson in 1985 to place the epidemic on the national consciousness, and President Reagan six years to speak out.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America faces a disease that is fatal and spreading, and this calls for urgency, not panic.


SCHNEIDER: Gays had to organize and pressure for themselves. Their slogan: "silence equals death." The gay community learned the squeaky wheel rule of American politics: if you don't speak out, no one will pay attention.

They did speak out. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, for instance.


MIKE HATTOY: I am a gay man with AIDS.


SCHNEIDER: Sure, there was a backlash from predictable sources.


PAT BUCHANAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yet a militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that same convention and say, Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro- gay ticket in history, and so they do!


SCHNEIDER: Some on the religious right called AIDS a punishment from God. But by and large, the backlash backfired. Those who denounced homosexuals were tainted by intolerance. As gays came out of the closet and fought for their lives, middle-class Americans were shocked by bigotry and discrimination against people they knew, the kind of bigotry depicted in the award-winning movie, "Philadelphia."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Andy brought AIDS into our offices.


SCHNEIDER: The kind of bigotry they saw against Ryan White, a young boy with AIDS.


GEORGE BUSH SR, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ryan has helped us understand the truth about AIDS.


SCHNEIDER: The truth about AIDS is that it is not a gay disease. Sure, there was Rock Hudson, but there was also Magic Johnson and Arthur Ashe, and Mary Fisher, a wealthy, white, well-connected Republican woman.

MARY FISHER, AIDS VICTIM: There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place left in America that is safe. Until we genuinely embrace this message, we are a nation at risk.

SCHNEIDER: Why did tolerance triumph? Because AIDS affected the middle class. It frightened middle-class Americans. They were outraged to see suffering and discrimination among their own friends and relatives. Moreover, the gay community had the skills and the resources to organize for themselves, which brought them respect, not resentment.


SCHNEIDER: The epidemic is far from over, but the profile of the epidemic is changing. It's becoming more and more a disease of the poor and minorities, and that's got AIDS activists worried. If AIDS becomes less of a concern to middle-class Americans, its political impact could diminish -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider in Los Angeles, thanks.

Just moments from now, we are expecting President Bush to make some comments on the tax cut package awaiting his signature. We'll bring you those comments live from Tampa, Florida, when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. As Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate, President Bush doesn't want his victory on tax cuts to be totally overshadowed. So at this hour he is touting tax relief in Tampa, Florida, three days before he is expected to sign the centerpiece of his agenda into law. Our White House correspondent Major Garrett is traveling with the president -- Major? MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, from the first day George W. Bush took office as president of the United States, he told his senior advisers that passing a tax cut was the essential link to giving him the political clout he needed in Washington to do other, more difficult things: tackle Social Security reform, tackle Medicare reform.

And his advisers took his word, and they pursued passing that tax cut with almost single-minded zeal. In fact, they look back on it now with almost a concession that maybe they were too single-minded, because in pursuit of that tax cut, they lost James Jeffords and the control of the Senate that came with it, because part of the disagreement between the White House and Senator Jeffords was over that tax policy and all the bad blood that came when Senator Jeffords would not endorse the president's tax cut.

Be that as it may, the White House knows they have to use this week, this week, when the control of the Senate goes to the Democrats, to emphasize that he delivered on a crucial campaign promise. He's coming here to Florida to do that first, proving that that slenderest of majorities he won on the presidential election did not deprive him, did not prevent him from scoring a major legislative victory and fulfilling a crucial campaign promise -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Major, it's not that the administration is worried about chipping away at this tax cut, are they? I mean, after all, it's been passed both houses, the president's going to sign it...

GARRETT: It's been passed, 13 Democrats supported it on the Senate floor on final passage. The House of Representatives remains in Republican control and will not tolerate any attempt to scale back this tax cut. What the president wants to do, traveling here and other places this week, and down the road, is prove to doubters who said all that early traveling the president did, all those road trips around the country really did matter. Because if you look at the votes of Senate Democrats on final passage of his tax cut, many of those Democrats came from states where the president in fact took his message: South Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, Nebraska Georgia. So the White House wants to emphasize again, putting the president on the road, putting the tax cut at the center of his domestic agenda works politically -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, Major Garrett. Major Garrett on the road with President Bush, and we do expect to be hearing from the president momentarily, talking about his tax cut plan there in Tampa, Florida. And just a footnote: Senator Jim Jeffords, who started this whole shift in the Senate, will be meeting at the White House tomorrow with the president as part of a bipartisan group of senators.

Again, this is the scene in Tampa, Florida, where President Bush is just about to make remarks. We'll go there live when that gets under way.

Meantime, senior Bush administration officials huddled at the White House today, planning their next diplomatic step in the Middle East. Sources say Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, looking for assurances that both sides would attend possible security talks sheparded by CIA director George Tenet.

Meantime, the Palestinian militant group Hamas says that it is joining in the cease-fire declared by Palestinian leader Arafat, along with Arafat's Fatah movement. But a gun battle in Gaza threatened that truce today. After deadly terrorist bombings, Israel is warning Arafat that time is running out to rein in the violence.

We have more now from CNN's Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ariel Sharon and his Likud Party colleagues in the Israeli Parliament pay tribute to the 20 young Israelis killed in Friday night's Tel Aviv suicide bombing. Some of Mr. Sharon's own colleagues are pressuring him to end his self-declared policy of restraint.

"No," says Mr. Sharon, "It's Yasser Arafat who's under pressure." And he'll keep up the pressure. Still, as another 15-year-old girl was being buried, there's much popular sentiment for the Palestinian Authority to be hit, and hit hard. But there are increasing indications that Mr. Sharon is unlikely to strike militarily until he's convinced the world is convinced that Israel had no alternative but to act.

As Israel maintains a tight closure on the West Bank and Gaza, it's also insisting that in addition to ending the shooting, Mr. Arafat's forces rearrest militant Palestinians who've recently been released. Palestinian leaders say that what Israel calls its "policy of restraint" is a farce, and that the pressure of the blockade will simply encourage more suicide bombers.

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Arafat cannot maintain if the people, the 3.2 millions Palestinians, are suffocating -- if the farmers cannot move, if the students cannot move, if the industrialists cannot move, if sick people cannot move to hospitals.

KESSEL: Mr. Arafat has heard from leading operatives in his own mainstream Fatah movement that they will abide by his instructions to hold their fire. An array of Palestinian groups, including Fatah and the Islamic and hard-line nationalist groups, say, however, they have the right to resist the ongoing Israeli occupation and continue with the popular Intifada uprising.

DORE GOLD, SHARON ADVISER: What does that mean? Does that mean bombing attacks? Does that mean roadside attacks? Does that mean Israelis on streets are unsafe? That's something that the Israeli government cannot tolerate.

KESSEL: Germany's foreign minister, Yoschka Fischer, stepped into the maelstrom and helped convince Mr. Arafat to issue his cease- fire declaration.

YOSCHKA FISCHER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's a slight chance, it's a marginal chance, it's a small chance, but it's the only chance we have. And at the moment, the chance is to use it in a positive way, but nobody knows. It's very fragile.

KESSEL (on camera): Both sides couldn't agree more. Israelis say this is a testing period, a time of waiting and watching to see what Yasser Arafat will do. Palestinians say the severe pressure on Yasser Arafat will merely make this testing period a dead-end, a prelude to more conflict.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.


WOODRUFF: Back here in the United States, the government responds to Timothy McVeigh's request for a stay of execution. When we return, details on the government documents filed in federal court, two days before a hearing on McVeigh's request for a delay.


WOODRUFF: U.S. government attorneys today labeled Timothy McVeigh, quote, "undeniably guilty" in the Oklahoma City bombing in their legal response to McVeigh's request for a stay of execution. The government filing argued the FBI documents recently given to McVeigh's lawyers do not warrant anymore delays, because, quote, "the same or similar information was disclosed prior to trial."

McVeigh's attorneys have said the government committed what they called a "fraud on the court" by failing to turn over some investigative documents before McVeigh's 1997 trial. Federal Judge Richard Matsch will hear arguments in the case Wednesday morning.

In a related development, the Supreme Court today delayed a ruling in a request for a new trial by McVeigh's convicted co- conspirator, Terry Nichols. The court ruled the government must first respond to Nichols' argument that the same government documents turned over to the McVeigh defense also would have affected the Nichols trial.

Terry Nichols is serving life in prison for conspiracy and manslaughter convictions related to the Oklahoma City bombing.

The Supreme Court today also weighed in on a death penalty case from Texas. CNN senior Washington correspondent Charles Bierbauer reports the case turned on the use jury instructions, but it would have wider implications on the issue of executing the mentally retarded.


JOHNNY PENRY, CONVICTED MURDERER: I don't think that they'll -- that execute me is going to solve anything.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Johnny Penry once came within three hours of execution for the 1979 rape and murder of Pamela Carpenter. The Supreme Court has lifted his death penalty, at least for now.

The court criticized the way juries in Texas were told to consider Penry's low IQ and abuse by his mother as mitigating circumstances. Texas law asked the jury three questions: Was the murder deliberate, an unreasonable response to provocation? Was Penry still a threat to society?

Jurors were told to answer no to at least one question if they wanted to use the mitigating circumstances to give Penry a life sentence.

ELLEN MOSELEY-MAY, VICTIM'S NIECE: He stated that I knew if I went over there, I'd have to kill her, because I didn't want to get caught.

BIERBAUER: Justice O'Connor, writing for the 6-3 majority, said the instructions "made the jury charge contradictory and placed law- abiding jurors in an impossible situation, because the jury could change one or more truthful yes answers to an untruthful no answer in order to avoid the death sentence for Penry."

It's the second time the Supreme Court has spared Penry. In 1989 it granted a new trial, but said it could not then consider executing the mentally retarded as a cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The justices will consider that this fall in the case of North Carolina death row Ernest McCarver, perhaps to Penry's benefit.

ROBERT SMITH, ATTORNEY FOR JOHNNY PENRY: If it is ready to decide that the execution of the mentally retarded is always unconstitutional, then I think that that should save my client's life.

BIERBAUER: A new sentencing in Texas could do the same.

PENRY: And I beg (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mercy that -- that they will put me in a mental institution for the rest of my life.

BIERBAUER (on camera): Penry's fate could also be changed by a Texas bill banning the execution of the mentally retarded as a cruel and unusual punishment. The state legislature has passed it, but Governor Perry has not yet decided whether to sign it into law.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, the Supreme Court.


WOODRUFF: Now, let's scoot down to Tampa, Florida, where President Bush talking to a large crowd about tax cuts.


BUSH: ... Florida delegation at the Statehouse.


BUSH: I want to thank -- I want to thank my friends the Bellamy Brothers for being here.


BUSH: It's good to see you all again.

I want to thank my friend George Steinbrenner as well for opening up this beautiful park.


BUSH: A year ago, tax relief was supposed to be a political impossibility. Six months ago, it was supposed to be a political liability. Today, folks, tax relief is reality.


BUSH: I have the honor of signing the largest tax relief bill in 20 years.


BUSH: It's thanks to the American people that we're going to have meaningful tax relief. It's thanks to the thousands of hardworking Americans who made it clear at the ballot box through phone calls, through e-mails -- to letting everybody who's elected know that once we meet our needs at Washington, D.C., it's important to always remember whose money we're spending.


BUSH: That surplus is not the government's money. That surplus is the people's money.


WOODRUFF: President Bush taking off his coat, warming up to a big crowd there in Tampa, Florida, talking about the tax cut plan that he signed into law this Thursday. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: And now let's go to Lou Dobbs for a preview of what is ahead at the bottom of this hour on MONEYLINE.

Hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. Next on MONEYLINE, stocks prices pushing higher once again, the third straight day, driving the Dow Jones Industrials above 11,000. OPEC is gearing up for a meeting tomorrow in Vienna. We'll take a look at prospects for an increase in oil production and examine the possible future of gas prices.

Also, we'll take a special look at California's power crisis with an unlikely supporter of price controls. All of that and more coming up on MONEYLINE in just a few moments. Please join us.


WOODRUFF: How is your approach going to be different from, you know, there are one or two other talk shows on television. What...

JEFF GREENFIELD, HOST, "GREENFIELD AT LARGE": Like 15, or 50, or 100, right? Well, of course, besides...

WOODRUFF: How is yours going to be different?

GREENFIELD: Well, we are conducting the entire program in Amharic to kind of make it really hard for the audience, but I think this is the best way to put it: we are trying to do conversation, so that means we're not going to have the kind of thing that is on cable, and it's perfectly fine, in terms of a political discussion, to have basically, point counterpoint, "CROSSFIRE," all that stuff.

We are not going to be doing a conversation, for instance, on what does the new Senate mean. We might well be having a conversation about the art of compromise, and not just in politics. How do you do it when a business mergers? How do you do it when the two players on a sports team have a problem, the way that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal did, and not only that, but we are going to invite people to talk about things that are not in their field of expertise, but about which they might have something interesting to say.

We did some of this last fall on this unconventional wisdom show that I did during the campaign, where we invited actors, writers, business people, sports people, teachers, all kinds of people, to reflect about what was going on in ways that are different from what other people would be saying.

WOODRUFF: And that was some great television.

Jeff, take us behind the scenes.

GREENFIELD: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... how are going to go about deciding every day or a week ahead of time what is the right topic to do?

GREENFIELD: You have hit on the biggest challenge of all, I think, which is that we are inviting people from a wide variety of fields to come together, and then we may wake up one day, and say, well, there's a piece of news that we at least want to address, so one of the things we do is leaving the program a little flexible. We might book two guests.

One of the tentative matchings we have is former cabinet member Donna Shalala with Mo Rocca who does political analysis for "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart's show on Comedy Central. Now, if something happened that day, we might want to slot in a third guest who we have not booked. We might want to ask one of them to step aside for a day, so it's a constant challenge of combining our idea, of pushing the boundaries of who we talk to and what we talk about, and still remaining relevant. We keep looking for news items that we can start with, and then kind of take a different turn. And I mean, tonight we've got -- we're going to be talking about comebacks and second acts in American life. We have got Hal Prince, the legendary Broadway director -- I mean, last night's Tonys was a great comeback for Mel Brooks. We've got Elaine Kamarck, a long-time political operative, and we have got Keith Olbermann who comes from the worlds of sports where comebacks are kind of a tradition.

Somewhere in that mix, we think we are going to have an interesting and at least unusual conversation, and then it's my job to get the conversation steered right, and we'll see.

WOODRUFF: And the betting is here that that's exactly what he'll do. We'll be watching tonight. "GREENFIELD AT LARGE" premieres tonight, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern with a replay at 10:30 p.m. Pacific.

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

These programming notes: Republican strategist Ralph Reed and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn will be discussing the future of Senator John McCain tonight on "CROSSFIRE," at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. And at 8:00 Eastern, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be the guest on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

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



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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