Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript
CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Democrats Poised for Takeover

Aired June 5, 2001 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a historic moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Majority is better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all have to work together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no declaration of war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate, on the brink of a power shift: the 11th-hour wrangling, the posturing and the promises.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Although the structure of the Senate may have been altered somewhat, we still can get things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: President Bush starts trying to hammer out some of his differences with Democrats and wild cards in the Senate. As the Senate leaders prepare to switch titles, will the handshakes give way to potshots?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Judy Woodruff takes you INSIDE POLITICS.

SESNO: Thanks for joining us. I'm Frank Sesno, sitting in on this big day here in Washington for Judy Woodruff.

As he prepares to take over as Senate majority leader and tip the precariously balanced political scales here in Washington, Democrat Tom Daschle is scheduled to meet this hour with five negotiators from the Republican side of the Senate aisle. Their mission: to draw up a reorganization chart, if you will, for the Senate under Democratic control, the rules of road.

Now, that may not be easy, despite all those calls for bipartisanship that are echoing from Capitol Hill and from the White House. We begin our coverage of the maneuvering before the power shift with our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Getting ready for the hand-off, Tom Daschle prepares to take control of the Senate by offering words of humility and promising to reach out to Republicans.

DASCHLE: I have to prove myself to our Republican colleagues, and I hope I can do so.

KARL: Earlier, the Senate chaplain opened the last day of Republican control with a prayer of reconciliation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially we pray for those with whom we disagree on issues. Help us to see them not as enemies, but as people who will help sharpen our edge.

KARL: A different kind of sharper edge is precisely what Senator Trent Lott is displaying as he relinquishes majority control.

LOTT: We should have a war of ideas and we should have a full campaign for the Senate in 2002.

KARL: But some of Lott's Republicans colleagues are concerned about his sharper edge, specifically a memo he wrote over the weekend about the power shift, saying, quote: "Democrats hold a plurality, not a majority in the Senate. Their effective control lacks the moral authority of a mandate from the voters."

Moderate Republican Olympia Snowe said she hopes the memo doesn't reflect the way the Republican leadership will deal with their Democratic counterparts.

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Well, it wouldn't be the right tone, it wouldn't be the appropriate demeanor, and certainly shouldn't be the way in which we should proceed to grapple with this change and shift in power.

KARL: Some White House officials also privately complained about Lott's questioning of the legitimacy of Democratic control of the Senate, because it recalls memories of those who questioned the legitimacy of George W. Bush's election as president, a point Al Gore's former running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman, was eager to make after a meeting at the White House.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I must say when I heard that statement, I smiled broadly, because, you know, on that basis, one can ask the same questions about the resident of the house behind me.

KARL: The most dramatic impact of the power shift will be in the committees that do most of the Senate's business, where control will shift from some of the most conservative Republicans to some of the most liberal Democrats.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Now, as for Senator Jeffords, the person who made the Democratic control possible with his defection from the GOP, he went in for the first time to the Democrats-only policy lunch that is held every Tuesday. Upon entering the closed-door lunch, he was given a sustained standing ovation by his new Democratic colleagues.

As for his Republican colleagues, the newly-independent Jeffords has had an interview with members of the Burlington and Vermont media, he said that he looks forward to working with Republicans, and he said what he plans to be talking to them about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES JEFFORDS (I), VERMONT: This was done solely because of our disagreements on issues, and I want to emphasize that I feel very strongly that they're on the wrong path with respect to the questions of education funding, as well as the defense issues. I think the missile defense, which I have always approved of learning the technology to do it and testing it and not to have any thought of implementing it, would be an economic disaster in my mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Now in about an hour the Senate will formally adjourn for the day, adjourn on the last day of Republican control of the Senate. At the time of that adjournment, about 6:00, Tom Daschle will officially become the majority leader. Republicans will officially be in the minority. Jim Jeffords will officially be an independent.

And, Frank, getting ready for tomorrow, as you mentioned at the top of the show, Republicans and Democrats and Tom Daschle, five Republicans, right now meeting to find out just what that Democratically-controlled Senate will look like, the critical issue of committee assignments. That's still to be worked out. It may be several days before we finally get a conclusion on that matter.

SESNO: And you just touched on the topic, Jonathan, of what I wanted to turn to, because that critical issue of committee assignments is sort of the first test of whether they will get along or merely fight it out. Early signs? KARL: Well, the early signs were that this could be a real battle. The Republicans have really put out the battle lines. You saw Trent Lott's memo. That was specifically about what this new Democratically-controlled Senate would be like.

But today we saw some toned-down rhetoric from most of the Republicans. Most of the Republicans here in the Senate saying, yes, they recognize the Democrats do have a legitimate majority, that they recognize that they will have control of the Senate. But there are some sticky issues, as you know.

The stickiest of them all is the question of presidential nominations, Republicans want to get some way so that the presidential nominations cannot be blocked by Democratically-controlled committees, but Democrats are quick to remind the Republicans that Republican- controlled committees did a good job sometimes of blocking President Clinton's nominations. And so that could be a battle we could see go on for a few days.

SESNO: And Jon, you said that Senator Jeffords got a standing ovation from the Democrats today. Well, he did not exactly get a standing ovation at the White House. President Bush stopped short of giving Senator Jeffords that standing ovation today.

But, he did welcome the former Republican and other senators to the White House, as Mr. Bush tries to show a greater willingness to reach out to the other side. Here is our senior White House correspondent John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nervous laughter, as the president got his first taste of the new balance of power in the Senate, and a close look at the man whose defection from the president's party made it all happen.

BUSH: We have an opportunity to show the American people that although the structure of the Senate may have been altered somewhat, that we can still get things done in a way that's positive for America.

KING: Team Bush promises to put a premium on politeness and bipartisanship, and Mr. Bush passed when asked about Jeffords' characterization of the Republican Party as too conservative for comfort. Those cameras now trail Jeffords at every turn, but the man of the moment isn't saying much.

The White House strategy now is to show that Mr. Bush can still advance his agenda. He will sign the tax cut plan in a big ceremony Thursday, and hopes Congress sends a major education bill his way soon. But Mr. Bush might have to wait: Jeffords and the Democrats want to add more money to the measure, which would complicate negotiations with the Republicans, who run the House. SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You can't educate children with a tin cup budget, and you can't educate children on the cheap.

KING: And things get even less certain from there. Senate Democrats promise to focus on issues on which they have major disagreements with the president: the so-called Patient's Bill of Rights; a Medicare prescription drug benefit; and an increase in the minimum wage.

This new political climate requires a new political strategy, and one of the president's priorities is trying to repair some strained relationships. So Mr. Bush invited his former campaign rival, Senator John McCain, for dinner Tuesday.

Moderate Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee gets a one-on-one meeting Thursday, and new Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is the president's dinner guest that night.

KEN DUBERSTEIN,FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The W. has to stand for Winning on Capitol Hill. That is the key. The only way to do it is to take care of the care and feeding of Congress and the Senate, hour by hour, day by day, and put that front and center on his desk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Now, criticism of how the administration has handled its relations with Congress so far is hardly limited to the Democrats and moderate Republicans. Even many conservatives complain, they haven't been consulted that much and they hope that the president keeps them in mind, as he adapts to this dramatic Senate power shift and promises more give and take with the Congress -- Frank.

SESNO: John, from your perspective over there at the White House, what are the prospects that we will see what many Democrats and moderate Republicans are saying, and that is, that George W. Bush, as he moves forward, has to move to the center?

KING: Well, stylistically, certainly we see that in the meetings now. But the administration acknowledges a very delicate political battle here. Already from the House, some conservatives saying, hey, wait a minute, we're the ones who did the work for this administration on the tax cut bill. It is our constituents who were the supporters of the George Bush presidential campaign.

So, a tug of war now. If the president moves, say, to the center or to the left, one might argue, say, on the patients bill of rights, over those provisions, how can you sue? How much will the cap on damages be? If the president moves too much to accommodate Senate Democrats, he risks alienating his base in the House. So a very delicate balance for this president right now.

And a lot of grumbling around town that (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that he has yet to have to face this tough of a political environment. He had a pretty good ride, both Senator Lott and Speaker Hastert helping him on the tax cut bill. A very different environment now.

He acknowledged that himself today a little prematurely when he turned to Ted Kennedy, the senator from Massachusetts, and said, "Mr. Chairman." Technically Jim Jeffords is still the chairman, but at nightfall tonight that will change.

SESNO: Along with a lot of other things. John King at the White House.

Well, now let's talk to one of the senators set to get the one- on-one treatment, as we just heard from John King, when he goes and sees Mr. Bush later this week: Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. He joins us from Capitol Hill -- a moderate Republican.

Senator Chafee, thanks very much.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R), RHODE ISLAND: My pleasure to be here.

SESNO: I appreciate your time. Let's start with the menu. I'm not talking about food, I'm talking about what you intend to bring up with the president when you sit down.

CHAFEE: Well, I just am curious about his strategy for going forward and building the Republican Party. It's been so much -- so far (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seem to energize the base as opposed to broaden the base. And I think that if he's interested in doing that, we've got to do more on the environment, more on choice and some of the other issues that Gore won, in states that Gore won so we can build the Republican Party. And so far, it seems to be more of a hard-core conservative party that's energizing the Bush states. And I'd like to hear his strategy and how he goes forward to be successful in 2002.

SESNO: So when -- so when you look across the table at your president and the leader of your party, you will tell him what?

CHAFEE: Well, I'd like to listen, to be honest. I want to hear what -- how do you see going forward and us building the Republican Party? I assume they have a strategy, and I'd like to hear it.

SESNO: You asked for this meeting with President Bush, as I understand, correct?

CHAFEE: Yes.

SESNO: Why? What exactly do you want to express, though -- besides the listening that you say you want to do?

CHAFEE: Well, I was concerned that my family have been friends with the Bush. I went to school with his brother Jeb. My father went to college with George, the first President Bush. And here we are voting differently -- I'm voting differently from his agenda. And I just wanted to say he and just hope there's no animosity between the two of us. I'm not going to be able to support some of the -- his more conservative elements of his program. But I did want to just break bread and at least say hi. SESNO: I have spoken to some people here in Washington, senator, who say that the people that Senator Jeffords hurt the most by his departure from the Republican Party were in fact the Republican moderates, people like yourself. True?

CHAFEE: No, I think that with the direction we are going, there was a lot of concern just long-term decisions and how it's going to affect the country: environmental decisions and areas that are affecting international relations, even with our neighbor to the north, Canada. And so I think that we're very concerned about the future of the United States of America.

And I keep arguing that even though Jeffords left, the votes are still the same and there's a broad base of moderate Republicans, especially in statehouses.

If you look at Massachusetts, one of the most Democratic states in the country -- had Weld and Cellucci and now Swift. Rhode Island, my state, elected Gore by the highest -- or voted for Gore in the highest percentage of any state -- it has a two-term Republican governor. And he's a pro-choice, pro-environment governor. Pataki in New York a very Democratic state. Pennsylvania, Ridge.

SESNO: So you're saying there needs to be room in the Republican Party for all of this.

CHAFEE: Yes. And so I still say I have company even though Jim Jeffords left the party. There's a lot of company, especially in the statehouses.

SESNO: When you report for work tomorrow, there will be another person and another party setting the agenda in the United States Senate. What do you think the biggest change for you will be?

CHAFEE: Well, I'm apprehensive there's going to be a lot of gridlock. Even before -- I've only been here a year and a half, and with the impeachment and the conservative Republican Congress and President Clinton, just not much got done here. And now it has potential to descend into that kind of partisan warfare, everybody posturing for the 2002 election. So I hope that's not the case.

SESNO: Speaking of partisan warfare, we've heard some expressions of concern about that memo we heard reported by Jonathan Karl earlier in the program, written by Trent Lott, saying that he doesn't believe that the Democrats have the moral authority and the mandate from the voters, that the Republican Party has to gear up for political war in preparation for 2002. What do you make of that memo and why did Senator Lott write it, do you think?

CHAFEE: Well, as soon as I heard it, I said to myself all he's doing is shoring up defenses against a challenge to his leadership, which is the way the Republican Senate is made up, it's very, very hardcore conservatives. And if there's going to be a challenge to his leadership, it's going to come from Don Nickles or Phil Gramm or one of the more conservative members. It's not going to come from a Dick Lugar or from a Chuck Hagel or some of the more moderate members of the Senate.

And so, that's what I think that letter was designed to do.

SESNO: And you stand behind your majority leader or your party leader?

CHAFEE: Well, we've never really had a discussion. He was unchallenged after losses in the 2002 election, the losses that put us in the position of being tied and now in the minority. And there was no challenge. He ran unopposed for majority leader.

We've met -- the Republican caucus has never had a discussion about that.

SESNO: And Senator Lincoln Chafee, firmly a Republican?

CHAFEE: Yes, I am.

SESNO: OK. Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it and we'll be watching that first day of work today tomorrow when things change on the Senate real closely.

CHAFEE: Yes.

SESNO: Appreciate your time.

CHAFEE: Oh, my pleasure.

SESNO: And now a Democratic view. We're joined by the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate leadership, Harry Reid of Nevada. Senator, thanks for coming and joining us.

As I understand, you may be one of the people who actually has to do a little trading of real estate up there as these changes come to pass.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: Well, we're looking at the changes taking place. You know, there's an ongoing discussion as to whether I should move into Senator Nickles' office. So...

SESNO: He's the -- he's your Republican counterpart.

REID: Yes, that's right. So we're working on that now, and of course, there's chairmen moving from one office to the other. So there's a lot of real estate that changes, but that's how things work around here. That's nothing unusual. It's been going on for centuries.

SESNO: And your sense -- and your sense of tomorrow and how things differ when your party is in control?

REID: Well, you know, I -- I think the world of Lincoln Chafee, and I listened to every word that he said. To me, it's almost unbelievable that he said he's never had a conversation with his leader. There isn't a member of the Democratic caucus that hasn't spent hours and hours with Senator Daschle talking about things alone. And so we have a much more open dialogue in our caucus than the Republicans have.

And so I -- tomorrow, I think we're going to try to move on. And we want to get this education bill finished, we want to get the patients' bill of rights done, we have 13 appropriations bills.

We certainly are not high-fiving, we're not gloating. We realize the responsibility we have. We have significant responsibility. We've got a Republican president, Republican House. They need us. We need them. It's time we set aside our bipartisanship -- I said our partisanship and start really being bipartisan rather than just talking about it.

SESNO: Well, it doesn't sound -- it doesn't sound -- from the sound of that weekend memo that Senator Lott wrote that he agrees with or maybe even thinks it's healthy, politically healthy, to set aside that partisanship.

REID: Well, but you have people who, you know, who want to work together. Lincoln Chafee mentioned several of them. You have a Chuck Hagel, you have an Olympia Snowe, you have Senator Susan Collins, people who want to work with us. So I just don't think that this memo -- when I first saw the memo, I thought some Democrat had written it for a joke. I can't -- couldn't believe that there was really something like that that is being circulated by the Republicans. But the fact is it was.

SESNO: Senator Reid, let's talk about some particulars. We heard Senator Ted Kennedy, as he went into the White House earlier, say minimum wage. Now, that the Democrats are in control, how does that move differently and does it go to a different place than it would have been otherwise? Where is it headed?

REID: I don't think minimum wage is a big, hard burden for anyone. We need to do minimum wage. We're going to debate the minimum wage. With it will be some tax programs that help business. That's how we do it every time.

I think what we're going to bring to the Senate is a more open Senate, that we're not going to keep judicial nominees locked up for four years. We're going to have hearings. If somebody isn't to our liking, let's bring it to the floor and have an up-or-down vote on it. Let's not leave it hidden some place.

SESNO: So will you commit to your Republican counterparts to let disputed or deadlocked nominations that end up in committees, judicial committees in particular, judicial nominations in particular, end up on the full Senate floor?

REID: Well, of course -- you know, the fact of the matter is why should we give Republicans two extra votes on the Judiciary Committee.

Look at our record. During George Bush's presidency, the president's father, we moved scores of nominations out of the Judiciary Committee. We will continue to do that. I think that's wrong with the Republicans and why they're so worried is they're afraid we're going to act like they did. We're not going to. We believe that the nomination process is one that needs to move forward. We want to give President Bush all of his sub-Cabinet nominations as quickly as possible. We are not going to hold things up. They haven't had a single hearing for a judicial nomination yet. We want to start those immediately.

SESNO: OK. Let's talk about tax cuts. The president of the United States is going to sign that big tax bill later this week, and there's been a lot of talk of tax cut II, with potential tax cuts for businesses and corporations, may have more trouble making it through a Democratically controlled Senate and ultimately to law. Your take?

REID: Lincoln Chafee said that we have the same votes today that we had last week. Things aren't going to change that much.

SESNO: So what happens -- what happens to tax cut II? Are there more tax cuts in the pipeline?

REID: We're looking forward. I hope there are some tax cuts. Businesses very badly need them. I'm sure willing to work with my colleagues on the Republican side to give businesses some tax breaks. It's too bad some of them weren't included in this last tax bill, because with the president's budget there's not much left for small businesses particularly.

SESNO: All right, Senator Harry Reid, thank you very much for your time. Good luck on moving day, if it comes to that. We'll be watching. Appreciate it.

REID: You bet.

SESNO: And when the transfer of power in the United States Senate is finalized tomorrow, there will be at least one visible change on the Senate floor. If you look carefully, you might see it: a new location for the desk of the man who set the changes in motion. After the Senate finishes its business today, Senator Jim Jeffords' desk will moved from its current location on the back row of the Republican side of the chamber. Tomorrow the newly-declared independent senator will sit on the Democratic side in the next-to- last row, between Senators Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Jeffords' office says the desk doesn't seem to be of any particular historical significance to Vermont. Here is what we know about it: it's made of mahogany, it's 32 inches tall. Of the signatures traditionally left in the desk drawers by senators, the most noteworthy in Jeffords' desk seems to be of Arkansas Democrat J. William Fulbright.

And from seating order to job titles, reality starts to set in the Senate for Republicans. Straight ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOTT: It was unfortunate the way it happened, but that's happened and we are moving on. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: An extended conversation with Senator Trent Lott on the challenges of leading the minority. Also ahead: election day in Los Angeles. Voters choosing between two Democrats in the sometimes heated race for mayor.

And later: the early release of a report on the 2000 election brings back some of the bitterness from that Florida recount. This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: Stand with olive branch in both hands, ready to sit down and talk and see what we can work out, but it takes two to tango. You can't do this alone. And you know, it's great for them to say that we're partisan, but how can they even know what we are if they don't ever talk to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt saying the power shift in the Senate gives House members a new opportunity work together.

But what does the soon to be former Senate majority leader have to say about the upcoming switch? Candy Crowley sat down with Trent Lott to find out, and quite a conversation it was.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Frank, it's a big deal in Washington, as you know. Power is the coin of the realm, and Trent Lott's net worth is about to go down a little bit, going from majority leader to minority leader.

Trent Lott has been around the U.S. Congress for more than 30 years. There are two things you hear about Trent Lott. One is that he is a pragmatist, and the other is that he is a fierce partisan. So I asked him, which is it?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTT: Well, my preference, as a senator from Mississippi and as a leader in the Senate, is to actually get things done. That's what it's really all about. Government's not about personalities, it's about ideas.

And so I really care about tax relief for the working Americans. I really care about improving education all across this country. I'm the son of a school teacher. I worked for the University of Mississippi. I think that our educational system is not what it should be, and so I prefer to keep a focus on that sort of thing, defense of our country, health policy. I would rather be working on issues and try to move them through the process. Some people were criticizing me for saying, well, he was too interested in just moving the trains, and then you see a memorandum where I basically say that we are going to fight for the things we believe in. And that was a message to a lot of people around the country that were saying, oh, my goodness, we are lost. President Bush will not be able to get things done. The agenda that the American people wanted us to pass will not be considered, and my message was no.

We are going to stand up and offer amendments and offer alternatives. We will, in spite of who is in control of the Senate, we will get education considered. We will have our defense policy considered. We are going to address the problems of energy needs in America, and it was a clarion call to the people across the country that this, too, shall pass. We are going to make sure that our agenda is considered, and by the way, we are going to work very hard with all of our might to regain control of the majority in the Senate.

So, while sometimes the choice of a word may be seized on by the media, actually all I was saying to the people is, look, I like to get things done, but let me assure you that in spite of who is in control of the Senate, the important issues are still going to be considered, hopefully in a bipartisan way. If not, then we'll take the alternative.

CROWLEY (on camera): And was it also because Senator Lott is sometimes criticized by the right as being too accommodating to Democrats, a signal to your base, saying no, no, I am still the same conservative Trent Lott, and I intend to fight these things?

LOTT: Well, the media -- I don't know that they have ever quite figured me out. Thank goodness, I think my constituents in Mississippi have a long time ago. I have been described as a guerrilla war fighter when I was in a small minority in the House, where I was the Republican whip. Then, when I got into the majority, I was criticized by some of my conservative friends for working too hard and making accommodations to get things done.

So, which am I? I am both. I feel very strongly about my philosophy of government. I am a conservative, I was when I got here, and I always will be. But I also am not here to make a statement, I am here to try to make a difference.

I am excited that we have got George W. Bush in the White House. I am very comfortable with him. I want to help him address those issues that everybody in this country cares about, including my own mother and my son and daughter and their children. And that's what it's really all about.

CROWLEY: If you had to sum up your plan as minority leader, what is it?

LOTT: Well, my plan is to make sure that we reach out and we do work with Democrats where we can, that we make sure every senator and every Republican within the Congress is communicated with, has input as to what our agenda will be, and then to make sure that when an energy bill comes up, that it's not just a fig leaf to try to cover up a serious problem, that it's a bill that does lead to more production and more conservation and incentives for alternatives and for conservation.

So, my plan will be to take action on the issues that matter, regardless of who calls the Senate to order.

CROWLEY: Predict for me the area of biggest disagreement, knowing as I am sure you do, what the Democrats want to focus on. Where is the biggest fight going to be?

LOTT: You talk about my tough rhetoric. As a matter of fact, it was partially in response to what are some Democrats saying. They came out and said, oh, national mission defense is dead, there will be no drilling for oil in Alaska area, the ANWR area -- and by the way, all these conservative judges will never be confirmed. They just laid down the law, well, we're going to stop this, stop that, and stop something else.

And so, I am sure that there will be some very strong disagreements over confirmations and over energy. Democrats think we can conserve ourselves into an energy supply. I don't believe that. I think conservation is important. We can do more. We should encourage more, but I think we are going to have to have more supply from oil and gas and natural -- natural gas, and coal and all of those things.

So there will be some pretty heavy disagreement on some defense issues, on some energy issues and on health policy. Once again, led by, you know, Senator Kennedy and probably Senator Clinton, they're going to be pushing for more and more government control of and money from the federal government in health care. We think that there needs to be a balance in that. We need to still have a private sector answer, and to make sure that the individual can choose his or her coverage, and we will have to make some changes to do -- make that happen. But there will be a pretty good debate about that.

And after all, that's fine, Candy. It's called democracy. It's where people of different views come together, debate it, have votes and move forward. And you don't do it with acrimony, you do it with the greatest possible vigor, but you try to get a result.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: On a more personal note, the majority leader admits that it does hurt a bit that Jim Jeffords has departed from the Republican Party. But he says, in politics as in life, this too shall pass -- Frank.

SESNO: Seemed pretty relaxed. All in a day's work.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. He plans to be in the majority coming 2002.

SESNO: We'll be waiting and watching. Could the Senate switch turn out to be good for President Bush? And what role does Senator John McCain play in this new power structure? Ahead, the views of former McCain adviser Marshall Wittmann.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Tonight Senator John McCain will visit the White House to have dinner with the president. No doubt the situation in the Senate will be one of the topics of conversation along with a lot of other things. You might even like be to the fly on the wall. Joining us now to discuss how the Senate power shift affects the president and the Arizona senator, Marshal Wittmann if the Hudson Institute: former adviser to John McCain. What do you think they're going to talk about at dinner?

MARSHALL WITTMANN, HUDSON INSTITUTE: Oh, baseball, the NBA playoffs.

SESNO: Yeah, right. How direct is that conversation going to be? These have not exactly been the warmest of times between the two of them.

WITTMANN: I think they get along personally and I think they will be talking about issues, Frank, issues that they have in common like defense spending, Social Security reform,and also areas where they can be working together. This may be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

SESNO: Talk of a party switch, rumors and members of staff and I understand you were a part of those conversations at some level two days ago. Is John McCain going be to where he is right now?

WITTMANN: I have no reason to believe that he is going to leave the Republican Party.

SESNO: What does dangling that out there do for him?

WITTMANN: He hasn't dangled it out there. The truth be told, it's coming to the point in Washington you can't have a private luncheon. We had a private luncheon, it showed up in "The Washington Post." It was a very informal lunch. Those present did not include Senator McCain and he did not give his support to our discussion and the truth be told, we were talking about various scenarios.

SESNO: Here's a picture for you, someone you will recognize. Ronald Wilson Reagan. Ronald Reagan was president, and in the early '80s when the economy was going south and not responding and people were leaning all over him to change course, the famous expression: "stay the course." The question is: As the Senate changes should George W. Bush stay the course ideologically and politically, or does he need to move to the center?

WITTMANN: Well, he needs to calibrate a little bit. Losing the Senate can be a liberating experience for him. Presidents have been hurt when their own party controlled Congress. This may be tremendous opportunity for George Bush not to change his principling but modulate, calibrate and build new coalitions.

SESNO: Where is new coalition? WITTMANN: In the center and on the right center. For instance, he can work with a group of Senators like John McCain on increasing defense spending. He can work with a group of Senators in the center such as Joe Lieberman and John McCain on sensible gun control.

There are a number of issues where he doesn't have move too far to the left, but stay right in the middle, in the center right where the American people are at today.

SESNO: As you well know, a guy by the name of Bill Bennett and lots of other people have been right here on this very show talking about how George W. Bush is not conservative enough, pointing to the education Bill and saying it's a Kennedy bill with too much money in it. If he moves then what happens to the conservatives?

WITTMANN: Well, this is another area where he can actually work with John McCain. John McCain is going to have a voucher amendment. he can work on with John McCain on that amendment on the Senate floor on education. This is another area where they can actually coalesce. George W. Bush may become a McCainiac after all this.

SESNO: Story in "The New York Times" today reporting back from Arizona that some people in Arizona are starting to see this as a giant McCain ego trip. Should John McCain stay the course or does he need to tone down?

WITTMANN: John McCain is overwhelmingly popular in Arizona. You know the Bush campaign spent over $3 million in trying to defeat John McCain in primary. They were unsuccessful. Arizona loves independents. They loved Barry Goldwater and they love John McCain.

SESNO: Should he tone it down?

WITTMANN: Oh, absolutely not. He has his issues that he's working on and I think tonight may be the beginning of a relationship with the president where they can work together.

SESNO: Do you think Bush needs him?

WITTMANN: Absolutely. He needs the broad center in American political life and John McCain one is one of the most popular people among independent voters.

SESNO: Prediction: future for Tom Daschle?

WITTMANN: See, what Tom does, he can't move too far to the left. He also has to calibrate. He has to take care of his vulnerable senators. For instance, his colleague Tim Johnson in South Dakota.

SESNO: Marshall Wittmann, thanks very much.

WITTMANN: Thank you, Frank.

SESNO: We'll be being seeing whether you move to the center as well. Appreciate it. For more details on this historic changeover in the Senate click on cnn.com, AOL keyword: CNN. There's an in-depth report on the changeover called Senate power shift. Find out about Democratic strategies and Republican plans to regroup. And take our quick vote and tell us how you think the power change will affect the Bush agenda. It can all be found at cnn.com.

And will a new U.S. effort to aid the cease-fire in the Middle East take hold and help? The latest on this push for peace and some other top stories of day after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: A lot more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. The president is sending the head of the CIA to the Middle East to consult with Israeli and Palestinian security officials. On day of scattered clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers Mr. Bush said the recent cease-fire seems serious enough to warrant assistance from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We believe enough progress has been made on the cease-fire that it is time to send George Tenet to the Middle East to start serious discussions at the security level about how to make sure the cease-fire continues. And we are very hopeful that this step will continue to -- will be a part of building confidence in the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Director Tenet arrives in the Middle East tomorrow. At last word it was unclear whether he'll meet with the two sides in three way talks or separately with the Israelis and Palestinians.

A federal appeals court has ruled the state of Idaho can try an FBI sharpshooter for manslaughter for a shooting death during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff. The decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals focused on when federal agents can by subject to state prosecution. A nine-judge panel disagreed with a lower court, saying it matters not whether the death was caused by excessive force. The ruling means sharpshooter Lon Horiuchi could charged with the death of Vicki Weaver, the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver.

Ohio health officials are planning to vaccinate nearly 6,000 students in and around the city of Alliance. The decision follows a meningitis related bacterial outbreak that has killed two high school students and left a third seriously ill. The bacteria are spread through saliva. The symptoms include high fever, headache, nausea and exhaustion. Officials say they'll begin administering the vaccinations on Friday.

The season's first tropical storm is bearing down on the Texas coast, dropping heavy rain and packing winds of up to 60 miles an hour. Tropical storm Allison is expected to make land fall sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. Eastern. It could bring as much as 5-foot storm surges and up to 5 inches of rain. A tropical storm warning is in effect on the coast from Sergeant, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana.

An update on the runoff for Los Angeles mayor when INSIDE POLITICS returns, including a look at how voters on the right could make a difference in a race between two political liberals.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: In a runoff election between long-time city attorney James Hahn and former assembly speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has a look at the neck and neck race and the voting blocs both candidates will need to declare victory.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daybreak on Election Day. For 48-year-old Antonio Villaraigosa, former speaker of the state assembly, and 51-year-old James Hahn, a four-term city attorney, this is the culmination of more than two years of hard work and $13 million of fund-raising combined.

Hahn and Villaraigosa are both Democrats. Ironically, it is the city's conservative vote that may tip the scales.

RAPHAEL SONENSHEN, POLITICAL ANALYST: There's never been a time when two liberal Democrats have gotten into a mayoral runoff in Los Angeles.

GUTIERREZ: After eight years of Republican rule under Mayor Richard Riordan, both men say they have what it takes to lead Los Angeles.

Villaraigosa calls himself a coalition builder, with a proven track record in the assembly for bringing Republicans and Democrats together.

Hahn touts his 20 years of experience in city government. He has built his campaign around the promise of making Los Angeles safe. Local polls have shown Hahn holding a consistent in narrow lead. But analysts say that this race may be too close to call. Latino voters may still show up for Villaraigosa at the last minute. They represent 40 percent of the population.

SONENSHEN: If they do, no lead that Mr. Hahn has is safe if there is a great mobilization.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUTIERREZ: Both candidates say voter turnout is absolutely critical out of 1.5 million registered voters -- only about a third traditionally turned out to vote. So, Antonio Villaraigosa and James Hahn both said that that would be their focus today, to make sure to get voters out to the polls, especially in the San Fernando Valley, where you have large numbers of conservative and moderate voters.

Frank, back to you.

SESNO: Thelma, thanks.

And polls are open in Los Angeles until 8:00 p.m. local time. That's 11 p.m. Eastern. We hope to have the winner. Join us tomorrow right here on INSIDE POLITICS.

Most of California's 32 Congressional District lies inside the city of Los Angeles and voters are choosing a successor to the late Democratic Congressman, Julian Dixon. Democrat state senator Dianne Watson is considered the favorite in the special election. She faces a challenge from Republican and Green Party candidates, as well as the former reform party vice presidential nominee, Ezola Foster.

Watson won the April primary and she is expected to benefit from a strong Democratic turnout for the L.A. mayoral race.

A report Florida's voting procedures stirs a new debate over possible discrimination. When we return, we will talk to the chairman of Florida's Republican Party, and get that take.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: A draft of the U.S. commission on civil rights final report on the Florida election points an accusing finger at state leaders, saying their handling of the election resulted in widespread disenfranchisement of African-Americans.

Republicans say the report is biased, flawed and unfair. But Commission Chairwoman Mary Francis Berry said today she plans to go ahead and ask Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the possibility of intentional discrimination.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO (voice-over): It is the latest controversial chapter in the nation's most controversial election. An election, this report says, marred by injustice, ineptitude, inefficiency. African- Americans, victims of disenfranchisement and racial discrimination. A governor and secretary of state grossly derelict in their duty.

Those findings are all from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's final draft report on the Florida election. Among the conclusions: African-Americans were 10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected. Blacks were far more likely than whites or Hispanics to be erroneously purged from voter polls. Majority black districts were more likely to used antiquated and error-prone equipment, such as punch cards.

And while the report found no evidence of a high-level conspiracy to deny African-Americans to vote, it did accuse Governor Jeb Bush of refusing to fund voter education, and said he and Secretary of State Katherine Harris ignored the pleas of some supervisors of elections for guidance and help.

Governor Bush's office fired back. In a letter to the commission, Bush's general counsel called the report biased and sloppy, full of vague and unsubstantiated assertions, and said it was aimed at de-legitimizing the election. The letter says the report grossly mischaracterizes the role of the governor and other state officials in administering the election, which said the letter is the responsibility of local officials. Last month, Governor Bush signed a bill banning punch card ballots and giving counties $24 million to upgrade their voting equipment.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: My hope is that people will see that we have resolved the problem, and that other states should look at this as a model.

SESNO: As for the Civil Rights Commission report, it's now up to the Justice Department, and Florida's attorney general to investigate whether the allegations it contains represent a violation of the law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: For more on the Civil Rights Commission report and the early release of some of its findings, I spoke last hour with the general counsel for the U.S. Commission on civil rights, Edward Hailes, and with the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Al Cardenas, and began by asking Edward Hailes about the specific numbers in the report that alleged that spoiled ballots were found disproportionately in African-American communities.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EDWARD HAILES, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS: Well, in a draft report there is a pretty sophisticated, complex statistical analysis that has been presented that tells more about the story that occurred on November 7 than actual numbers. You will see that African- Americans were vastly and disproportionately the persons who cast spoiled ballots.

SESNO: What is your response to this, to the report you have seen these and other statistics, other numbers, some of which we just cited in the piece we ran, as the gist of this whole thing? What is your and the state's response?

AL CARDENAS, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: Well, Frank, I think most Americans are going to be outraged at the process as much as the substance of the report. In terms of the process, Civil Rights Commission is supposed to be a venerable body, a respected body that is supposed to be there, respecting the rights of others and making sure that every one is entitled to due process and equal protection, and yet it's this very same Civil Rights Commission that has trampled on the due process and equal protection rights of others.

And I'll give you a few for instances. There is a statutory mandate, according to federal laws, the code -- federal code, title 45, that says you must provide those folks that you spoke to 30 days in advance of publication of the report, a copy of that report, and an opportunity to respond to it in writing and within 20 days. They did not do that.

The report was leaked. We need to find out how, but adequate response -- time has not being given to the governor, the secretary of state and others to respond to it. On April 13 -- April 13, chair Berry said: "Listen, everybody in this commission is going to have a right to review these findings preliminarily, to talk about it, to vote upon it, and the governor, the secretary of state and others are going to receive the report and are going to have the right to comment on that. Those rights have been trampled.

SESNO: If I may, Mr. Cardenas, first of all, what you are saying is first of all, that there were politics involved in the report itself. Secondly, that the leak of this report violates the letter and the spirit of the statute and the premise under which the commission was operating, but what about the findings of the report itself? We'll come back to those other issues, what about what is in here, which is that the Florida election was fundamentally flawed and unfair, discriminatory?

CARDENAS: Those, sir, are improper and unjust conclusions. I will say this: that Florida, like any other state, has an imperfect not a flawless election system. Ours was less than adequate. These were laws that were adopted by Democrat legislature and a Democrat governor and implemented by the two-thirds of the constitutional supervisors of elections in Florida, who happened to be Democrats.

However, on a non-partisan basis, this governor and this legislature in Florida just adopted model election reform law in Florida.

(CROSSTALK)

SESNO: If I may, though, how do you respond, for example, to the finding that 100 precincts with the highest numbers of disqualified ballots, 83 of those precincts were majority black districts?

CARDENAS: I will say this, the degrees of inaccuracies not only in Florida but across American are going to be highest in those precincts that have the lowest denominators in terms of income and education, and they will run across ethnic lines. If you have a wealthier African-American community versus a poor white community, the poor white community will have a higher inaccuracy rate.

In Florida, it is true that there were inaccuracies higher in the lower income and economic status areas, but that is the case everywhere in America. I will say this -- I will say this -- that what we have done in Florida is no different that -- what happened in Florida is no different from what has happened elsewhere in America, except that the rates of accuracy why higher than the norm. And what we have done in Florida is make sure that we corrected the mistakes of the past.

SESNO: Mr. Hailes, would you address first, well, the two main points that Mr. Cardenas has just developed.

HAILES: Yes, I can tell respectfully that your guest does not have a specific answer to your question, but the commission did afford an opportunity for state and local county officials to review and comment on specific portions of our draft report, and we expect where there are comments that should be appropriately addressed in our report, that those comments will be reflected.

I don't know how this report or why this report was leaked. I can tell you this, that the officials of Florida have been afforded an opportunity to review the document and will have a chance to have their comments where it's appropriate and necessary incorporated and reflected in our report.

SESNO: Mr. Cardenas?

CARDENAS: Frank, in Florida, to be very specific about that, this is not the first time we have had a leak. They did a preliminary report, that report was leaked as well. If you look at the "New York Times" and "Washington Post," you will find that two members, at least, of the commission, one of whom was an African-American said: "Hey, I have never seen that report. Chairman has never shared it with me, the staff has never shared it with me, and I haven't commented on it."

SESNO: Mr. Cardenas, let me ask you this one last question.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDENAS: Given the right opportunity to comment on that report, you will find a lot of fallacies in that report, unsubstantial factual allegations.

HAILES: We are waiting to receive those comments.

CARDENAS: Frankly, illegal -- well, because if you don't provide people with the report, they can't respond to it.

HAILES: But we have, we have provided...

(CROSSTALK)

SESNO: Gentlemen, I'm sorry we are almost out of time here, but before we go I want to ask Mr. Cardenas and Mr. Hailes both this question. Mr. Cardenas first: "Disenfranchised, not a dead heat contest was the extraordinary -- disenfranchisement, rather, not a dead heat contest, was the extraordinary feature of the Florida election." That's what the report, draft report, says. What is your response to that?

CARDENAS: My response is that there were imperfections in the election in Florida. The imperfections hurt Republicans far more than Democrats, and I wish that commission had studied things like why were absentee ballots for military personnel not properly counted, objected to by Democrat attorneys. Many of those military men and women in the armed forces were minorities.

SESNO: Mr. Hailes.

CARDENAS: I thought that the civil rights...

(CROSSTALK)

SESNO: Very briefly.

HAILES: Yes, this report is based on an exhaustive investigation with substantial analysis that the commissioners will consider at a meeting on Friday.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: The full report on Florida's election procedures has not been approved by the members of the Civil Rights Commission. The vote is scheduled for Friday.

The personalities behind the power switch in the U.S. Senate. Ahead, the new Judiciary Committee chairman, and the issue Republicans fear he'll affect the most. Capitol Hill report from Kate Snow and much more in the next 30 minutes of INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Democrats stepping into power in the United States Senate, how will they navigate uncharted territory? Also ahead, who needs podiums and news conferences? We'll look at the New York mayoral bid launched in a commercial.

And remembering D-day and its terrible toll on a small community in Virginia.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. Judy is off today. I'm Frank Sesno.

In the United States Senate, this day's closing session unlike any other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is no further business to come before the Senate, I now ask that the Senate stand in adjournment under the previous order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection, the Senate stands adjourned until 11:00 a.m.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: And the gavel fell just a few minutes ago, 5:57 Eastern time, if you are keeping score, marking the end of Republican control of the chamber, the launch of the new era. Senator Jim Jeffords officially leaves the GOP and becomes an independent aligned with the Democrats. In fact, they will be moving his desk over to that side of the chamber. That clears the way for Democrat Tom Daschle to be officially recognized as the majority leader tomorrow, replacing Republican Trent Lott.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOTT: I think that it was very unfortunate that a number of Democrats came right out last week and basically said, well, this is the end of national missile defense, this is the end of, you know, an opportunity to have additional oil supply in the ANWR of Alaska, but worst of all, that this was an end to conservative judges and we are going to have a litmus test. I thought that all of that was very inflammatory and unfortunate on behalf of the Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Lott went further in weekend memo to Senate Republicans, questioning the moral authority of the Democratic takeover absent a voter mandate. Incoming majority leader Daschle took exception with Lott's view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: I believe I have the moral authority, as any majority leader would have with a 51/49 margin, and I look forward to working with Senator Lott all the way through on all of the issues. He is the leader. I respect him and continue to believe that he will be a productive and cooperative partner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: President Bush did his part today to try to ease tensions between Republicans and Senate Democrats and reach out from his end of Pennsylvania Avenue. He invited key senators to the White House to discuss education, including GOP defector Jim Jeffords and Democrat Edward Kennedy.

Well, let's get the very latest from the Hill now from our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, the gavel is down, the deed is done, quietly, but nonetheless officially, if we can say that. How is it going to change things up there? What is it looking like and sounding like?

KARL: Well, immediately, the biggest change you are going to see is on those committee, and what's interesting is, these all-powerful Senate committees that do most of the Senate business, tend to be controlled by the most liberal or conservative members of the respective parties, so you are going to see Republican committee chairmen leaving tomorrow, people like Jesse Helms of the Foreign Relations Committee, replaced by Joe Biden, for example.

So, it's going to be a really marked difference, because those committee chairmen really do set the Senate's agenda, in terms of what comes before their committees. Also, Frank, we've just learned that the meeting between Daschle and the five Republicans that are working out this deal on reorganization of the Senate has just concluded. Republicans left Daschle's office, saying that they feel better about the possibility of coming up with an agreement. They say they will be meeting with Daschle again tomorrow.

SESNO: What's on the table there, John?

KARL: Well, of course, the stickiest issue is this question of judicial nominees -- not just judicial nominees but all presidential nominees. Republican want to be able to vote on those in the full Senate, even if they are rejected at the committee level. That's something Democrats don't want to play along with.

But there is another very interesting item on the list of negotiating points, and that is that Republicans would like to see something in there so if Senate control reverts back to the Republicans, Republicans will get everything that Democrats are getting as a result of this reorganization. So, Republicans still holding out some hope that there may be further changes in the Senate leadership, either because, say, a Democrat switches parties or because a senator is forced to leave office for one reason or another. Still holding out that hope.

SESNO: A little political ping-pong on Capitol Hill. Jon Karl, thanks.

Well, some of the most significant changes, as Democrats take control of the Senate, will happen on the Judiciary Committee. Utah Republican Orrin Hatch loses his post as chairman there. Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy moves in, and as CNN's Kate Snow reports, that represents a sea change when it comes to some of those issues, surrounding president Bush's judicial nominees.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Patrick Leahy says he wants to lower the temperature on the Judiciary Committee.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), INCOMING JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: I don't want the Judiciary Committee, which is probably the busiest of all the committees, to be the most contentious one. I think we should be looking for common ground, not the other way around.

SNOW: But there are heated battles ahead. First and foremost, consideration of President Bush's judicial nominees.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: We are not going to see every judicial nomination put forward by George Bush deep-sixed in this process, but the White House has to be worried because it is a different world now. When it comes to their judicial nominations, they are going to have to heed what Democrats say.

SNOW: With his committee staff literally moving into the majority office, a Vermont Democrat will dictate the timetable for hearings now. Republicans fear the pace of confirmations could slow to a trickle.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), OUTGOING JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: It isn't Senator Leahy, I think, who will be the problem. There will be others in their caucus who want to slow down this process who want to ask exorbitant questions.

SNOW: The new chairman says he won't apply a conservative litmus test. He points out he supported more than 98 percent of the nominees from President Reagan and the first President Bush.

LEAHY: I don't care whether we have Republicans or Democrats on the bench. I care that we have a judiciary that's fair, that is honest, that is non-partisan in its dealing, where people have the trust of that judiciary.

SNOW: But there has been partisan bickering in the past. In a tense exchange last month, Hatch complained to Leahy about filling Justice Department posts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HATCH: It's now been two months. We got a Justice Department floundering down there, and I just can't do it.

LEAHY: It's not floundering. You've got 10,000 people working hard.

HATCH: Yeah, give me a break.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Both men say they generally get along well. And they're anxious to work together. They've cosponsored a $1.4 billion measure to shift the focus in the war on drugs to prevention.

But on some key issues, Leahy will change the committee's direction. He's pushing the Innocence Protection Act, that would give death row inmates access to DNA testing. He favors immigration reforms, to prevent potential asylum seekers from being automatically turned back at U.S. airports. Senator Hatch worries about the new direction.

HATCH: Well, one of the problems we have is every time you get a liberal in one of these crucial positions, they are always looking for ways of making excuses for people who commit criminal activity in our society. And that bothers me, and that's one of the things I'm worried about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, Senator Leahy says no worries, his approach will be balanced when he takes over the chair of this committee. By the way, that chair is right behind me, deep in the background there. We are inside the Judiciary Committee hearing room here. Senator Leahy will be in that chair, presiding over a hearing tomorrow, and ironically that hearing is one that has to do more with something that Orrin Hatch, the former chair, wanted to push, and that is the president's faith-based initiative.

Frank, back to you.

SESNO: Kate Snow, thanks.

And joining us now with more perspective on the Senate power shift, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, for some perspective and some history here.

Come first to something we heard Tom Daschle and Trent Lott essentially sparring over, and that is the moral authority of the Democrats to be in charge, and Tom Daschle to be majority leader. Is there a point there?

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: There is certainly no history there. We have not had a situation in previous American history whereby the party majority change within a Congress -- and of course as a result of one member changing -- but listen, Democrats and Republicans won roughly the same number of votes in the election. Republicans have an advantage in the Senate because they represent small states.

In the end, the majority leader is elected as a result of having the most senators who are willing to support him. So I don't see any -- if Tom Daschle has more -- a problem of moral authority, then George W. Bush may well have that same problem. Listen, we accept both.

SESNO: Where do you think the biggest change is going to be seen and felt?

MANN: I think that it is in this respect: finally, Democrats have a platform for raising issues, for offering alternatives, for being heard nationally. George Bush has dominated the bully pulpit as a consequence of unified Republican government.

Finally now, Democrats have a leader, Tom Daschle. They have committee chairs. I think it's in this agenda setting, it's in this giving voice to alternative conceptions of good public policy.

SESNO: They are already giving voice to what is going to come in 2002. Trent Lott is saying, hey, we need to, you know, have a war footing here. Dick Gephardt and others over on the House side laying out territory. How does it affect '02?

MANN: It all depends on how this plays out right now. Notice, George Bush and Tom Daschle are not on the same war footing rhetorically as Dick Gephardt and Trent Lott are. Each of them is talking about accommodation. Both understand that the American public doesn't like talk about war. But they face a substantial battle leading up to 2002.

SESNO: Don't the Democrats and Tom Daschle have a very difficult choice to make here? How hard to push an agenda to get it out there, their equivalent of the bully pulpit, how much to put George W. Bush essentially in a veto posture? Or cooperate with them?

MANN: Actually I think that they have the easier task. The more substantial task is faced by George Bush. He took a dead-heat election, declared a victory in a mandate, and governed from his conservative base with his Republicans, cherry picking a few dissident Democrats. This switch reinforces the fact that he can't do that anymore.

Personal gestures, nice little meetings, symbolic photo-ops are not going to do it. The question is, is he prepared to move to the center to meet the Democrats? Or will his concern about his conservative base, and the lessons of his father, prevent him from doing so? If George Bush doesn't move substantively, Democrats have every basis, including substantial public support, for drawing the line and taking the battle to the next election.

SESNO: Is there a sleeper issue or a sleeper personality out there, Tom Mann? Something that we aren't thinking about, that we should be tracking?

MANN: I think the -- yes, I would say the tax cut bill that will be signed later this week may end up returning to the agenda as the issue is replayed, vis-a-vis defense spending, and drug benefits for the elderly, we may be revisiting tax policy sooner than anyone imagined.

SESNO: Stay tuned, and come back. Tom Mann, I appreciate it.

MANN: Thank you.

SESNO: Straight ahead: the small Virginia town that felt the impact of D-Day more than any other. A memorial to those who died in one of World War II's most important battles, when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: President Bush will travel to the town of Bedford, Virginia tomorrow to attend the dedication of the National D-Day Memorial. This is a story of remembrance and respect we bring you. Bedford paid a high price in the D-Day invasion, which is why it will be home to the national memorial. CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton has more on the town, its veterans, and the high costs of war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROY STEVENS, BEDFORD D-DAY VETERAN: This is about as real as you're going to see, Ray.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ray Nance and Roy Stevens remember. They were part of the 116th infantry, the first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

RAY NANCE, BEDFORD D-DAY VETERAN: Believe it or not, we competed to go in first. We wanted to go in first. I don't know why. I don't why we did it, but...

MORTON: Thirty-five Bedford men were in the attack: 19 died in the first 15 minutes, 2 later, the worst per-capita loss of any American town.

NANCE: The people we had in the outfit were so young. So many of them were killed. They didn't know what life was all about. They were just that young.

STEVENS: This is Ray and this is me.

MORTON: Roy Stevens served with his twin brother, Ray. They were on different landing craft.

STEVENS: Just before I loaded on, he was standing on the corridor as we went down, and then he extended his hand for me to shake it. I said, "Ray, we agreed to meet at Vierville, some area, that and I will shake your hand there. He just dropped his head and went on.

MORTON: But Roy's landing craft got wrecked, hit one of these boat traps. He got to Normandy four days later. He'd heard that his brother, Ray, had been wounded.

STEVENS: So when I went back over there I was thinking he was in a hospital somewhere. We never heard. The first grave I came to was his. It was a cross. His dog tag was on it, and my buddy with me, he found his brother.

This is the flag that brought his body back in 1948.

MORTON: Roy, who lost his hand years later in an accident, still has the Purple Hearts they both won. The memorial includes a landing craft, shows bullets hitting the water, shows casualties. Ray Nance, a first lieutenant then, remembers.

NANCE: Behind me, in the water, the bodies were so close together that they were in the surf bumping against one another, and I knew what had happened.

This is where I came...

MORTON: Nance was hit three times, and he remembers a Navy medic in clean clothes -- everyone else was filthy -- telling him he'd been lucky.

NANCE: And nobody that I ever saw or talked to saw him. Was he real? That thought came in to my mind. Strange things happened on that beach.

MORTON: Nance came home, delivered mail on a rural route -- remembers a family named Parker, two sons killed. The third, a prisoner of war.

NANCE: That couple -- just to watch them, their agony -- the two who didn't come back. It was -- it did something to me that I've never forgotten.

STEVENS: These are the medals that the French gave us.

MORTON: Roy Stevens came home, too, with memories.

STEVENS: A company, I always thought, was a great company. We were tough, and we could do anything, but we couldn't. Their firepower was too great for us.

MORTON: Mrs. Stevens, the twins' mother, kept hoping Roy's brother was alive, somehow. NANCE: She always thought he was coming back, even after his body had come -- been returned over here for the burial. You know, he is out there somewhere. He's -- he'll come back.

MORTON: It was another D-Day veteran, Bob Slaughter of nearby Roanoke, who had the idea for a memorial. He never imagined it would be this big, but he wanted future generations to know what he and his fellow vets had done.

BOB SLAUGHTER, D-DAY VETERAN: I didn't tell my children much about it, we didn't talk about it. I don't believe they would have understood, it, so I just didn't bother. They know now.

MORTON: The memorial is finished now. And the president will speak at its dedication. And the old warriors remember and wonder.

NANCE: I've never known for sure why I was spared. I guess I never will know.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Bedford, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: And we will have Part 2 of Bruce Morton's report on the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, tomorrow here on INSIDE POLITICS. A reminder, the president goes for that memorial and dedication tomorrow.

We turn next to a Big Apple campaign, via television. Up next, the unusual launch of a New York mayoral campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: We're talking mayors today here on INSIDE POLITICS, west to east. As Los Angeles voters chose their new mayor today -- are choosing them even now -- New Yorkers got a new candidate to consider in their upcoming mayoral primaries. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced he will run as a Republican to succeed Rudy Giuliani.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more on the Big Apple's newest candidate and the challenges he'll face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: My name is Mike Bloomberg and I'm running for mayor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): With those words in a TV ad, billionaire Mike Bloomberg made an unconventional entrance into the race for New York City mayor. No press conference, no live announcements. It was all on tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

BLOOMBERG: My experience has taught me how to get things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: So where was Bloomberg on this important day? One hundred miles south in Princeton New Jersey at his daughter's college graduation. He said he launched with a TV spot to take his message directly to the people.

BLOOMBERG: I'm just somebody that lives in the city and loves it and is going to try and make a difference.

CARROLL: Bloomberg is the founder and CEO of Bloomberg LP, a global news and financial services company.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: I think he's qualified to be mayor. He has run a very, very successful business. He has been innovative in the way he's run that business. He has a lot of management experience, and he would certainly know how to run the city of new York.

CARROLL: Most New Yorkers will tell you it takes a tough charismatic leader with more than a bit of chutzpah to lead the Big Apple. But announcement by TV ad, "The New York Post" called it a remote controlled mayoral candidacy.

ROBERT HARDT JR., "NEW YORK POST": I think there's a bit of arrogance involved when you are trying to bypass the people and us, the media, the people who are trying to find out more about you.

HERMAN BADILLO (R), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I think the way he is announcing and the way he is performing is outrageous.

CARROLL: Bloomberg's campaign manager preferred to use the word "innovative."

BILL CUNNINGHAM, BLOOMBERG CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Mike's talking directly to the voters and that's a little different. And we know that's scary for the political clubhouse gang, but that's the way we're going to do it.

CARROLL (on camera): And with Bloomberg's deep pockets he has the money to keep doing it. He spent $350,000 on just his first ad and plans many more. As for the traditionalists want him to press the flesh, well, Bloomberg will be out campaigning the old fashioned way on Wednesday, all over town.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: And that's it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com, AOL keyword: CNN. Our e-mail address is insidepolitics@cnn.com.

And these programming notes for you: Another famous politician who chose the independent route: Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura: he'll be the guest tonight on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific.

And incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will be the guest tomorrow morning on CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. I'm Frank Sesno. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" is next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   




MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 














Back to the top