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GOP and Dems Battling Over Patients' Bill of Rights

Aired June 19, 2001 - 17:00   ET


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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be no July 4th recess. There will be no break until this bill is passed in the United States Senate.


ANNOUNCER: The battle lines are drawn over patients' rights, testing the new balance of power in the Senate.

Political groundbreaker Geraldine Ferraro faces a new challenge: cancer.

Plus: Ford Explorers descend on the Capitol, where the safety of their tires is in question again.

And in the Giuliani divorce battle, a judge asks, what about the children?

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

The opening of the Senate battle over patients' rights is proving to be a dramatic demonstration of just how the political tables have turned. Today, it is mostly Democrats who are trying to press ahead with their agenda, while it's mostly Republicans who are digging in their heels and holding up debate. Here is our congressional correspondent Kate Snow.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Colleagues, if we're not finished Thursday night, we will then debate the bill and continue to work on it Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We will not have a session on the 4th of July. But pick up again on the 5th of July, and go on as long as it takes, we will finish this bill.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new majority leader laying down the law. Democrats want to move quickly on their version of a patients' bill of rights, not least because it's their first legislative move, now that Democrats control the agenda. SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We want to move the law from the side of big insurance companies and HMOs and finally put the law on the side of patients, nurses and doctors.

SNOW: But while senators were already talking about the pros and cons of the bill, Republicans blocked the official debate from starting, saying they hadn't had enough time to review last minute changes.

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: We have not had any hearings on this bill, and this is one heck of a complicated bill. The bill on Wednesday wasn't the bill we got on Thursday. So when the other side says we're delaying, that I think is a little bit of a straw man.

SNOW: Republicans say they are concerned language in the bill could open the door to lawsuits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounds to me like a lawyer wrote it.

SNOW: At a rally of small business owners, Republicans said the legislation would allow patients to sue not just health care plans, but employers who provide insurance.

SEN. DON NICKLES (R-OK), MINORITY WHIP: I'll just say, as a former employer, employers beware: there is language in this bill that can bankrupt you. There is language in this bill that says you can be sued for unlimited amounts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to continue working on this. They can slow us down, but they can't stop us.

SNOW: Democrats launched their own public relations blitz, reviving a war room they call the "Intensive Care Unit" to spread their message. The bills' sponsors insist employers are explicitly protected from liability unless they directly participated in the decision that cause the problem.

They say the last minute changes Republicans are worried about were only meant to make it more clear that employers are protected.


SNOW: A privately Democratic aide says they feel Republicans are stalling on purpose to try to wait for action on the patients' bill of rights. A Republican version of a patients' bill of rights in the House, House and Senate GOP aides saying, though, that that is not the case, they are not coordinating efforts here.

Senator Phil Gramm said on the floor today, he feels once they get right down to it and read through all the language, Judy, there will be a lot more in common than they think right now.

Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Kate, what are the Republican, the minority leaders saying at this point about how long they are prepared to go to slow this thing down?

SNOW: They're talking about needing to get through the details, they've suggested a couple of days, they really say to them, it is about the language, they think there are things that were added at the last minute last week that they had some concerns about, and they say they want to work through those differences.

Again, Republicans saying that they simply want to pass a bill that the president will be able to sign -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, Kate Snow at the Capitol.

And in connection with all this, I spoke this afternoon with Senator John McCain, one of the sponsors of that bill in the Senate, about the patients' rights bill that he has cosponsored and the political battle being waged.

I started by asking him for his response to GOP leaders, who say the bill can't be taken up now, because they don't know what's in it. .


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: First of all, of course, they know what's in the bill. And we continue to negotiate with them just as we did on campaign finance reform, to try and come up with ways in which we can agree. We've been negotiating with the White House, and with other interested parties, but of course that's what debates and amendments are supposed to be all about.

WOODRUFF: Let me just cite to you some of the things that others are saying. Senator Nickles is saying, employers beware, there is language in here that can bankrupt you.

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, we have very strong employer protections, an employer will not and cannot be sued if they had nothing to do with a medical decision -- that language is very clear. If there's any doubt about that, then we should debate it and make sure it's on the record and amend if necessary. It is clear language that employers are protected from having suits brought against them.

WOODRUFF: So how do you explain accusations out there like that one?

MCCAIN: I can't explain these accusations, except that very, big money is being spent by the HMOs, was in the last election, and a lot of money has spent by trial lawyers, too. Which is why we haven't taken up this issue over a five-year period.

We think we have a reasonable compromise, we believe we have the votes, and those that don't agree with us, I'd say, let's have votes and we'll find out what the majority of the Senate feels.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of trial lawyers, the president's chief of staff, Andy Card, said just two days ago, he said, this is a trial lawyer's bill of opportunity. He said, it's not a patients' bill of rights.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, we've heard that in the past. And that also is interesting, because this bill is very much modeled after the bill that was passed in the state of Texas. And also there have been two states, California and Texas among others, who have passed similar bills.

And there's only been a handful of lawsuits brought as a result of the passage of this legislation, upon which ours is modeled, because there is internal and external review processes, which largely negates the need for it. So we have a record of two states, at least, that have passed very similar bills where the cases are in state court, not federal court, and there has only been 10 cases in the state of Texas and a handful in the state of California.

WOODRUFF: Let me also read to you -- you talked about how much money is being spent. There is a television ad, a lot of pictures, but the copy in the ad is very brief. It says, "working Americans rely on their health insurance for quality care and peace of mind. The Kennedy-McCain bill will flatline that coverage for more than a million of them driving up the cost of health care coverage, an average of 4.2 percent nationwide causing more than 1.2 millions Americans to lose health care coverage."

MCCAIN: And I was told this morning by others that they will spend as much as $15 million, which clearly indicates that they are very concerned.

Well, first of all, our legislation does increase by .8 percent the costs of our liability provisions. The so-called Breaux-Frist bill increases it by .4. The other increase in costs as calculated by the CBO are directly related to two provisions we have.

One is breast cancer treatment and the other is clinical trials for fatal illnesses, those do increase costs. I will be glad to have a vote on the floor of the Senate as to whether we should increase coverage for working Americans to treat breast cancer or not. And then we'll decide whether the American people want to absorb those increased costs of health insurance.

WOODRUFF: Senator, let me ask you something else. The argument, the focus of these lawsuits should be in federal court. Why shouldn't -- why isn't it sufficient to make these lawsuits -- put these lawsuits in federal court and not the state court?

MCCAIN: Well, I always believed it was a fundamental Republican principle that what happens in states should be handled by the states. No lesser expert than the Supreme Court justice has -- Chief Justice Rehnquist, in a statement made by judicial review panel, stated that in their opinion, that these managed care cases should be handled in state courts, not federal courts.

So, I think -- and also of course, the Texas and California cases are being handled in state court as well. Where a contract dispute exists, obviously, we think that should be adjudicated in federal court because it is a multi-state kind of situation. Could I also mention there are 500 organizations -- doctors, nurses, national cancer -- all of the health care advocates in America are supporting our legislation, on the other side are the HMOs. So we have a fairly clear choice here as to who's supporting what.

I'll stick with the doctors and nurses of America most any time in a fight against the HMOs.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that the other side is -- is anti- patient?

MCCAIN: No, no. I think that the other side is clearly against these reforms where a doctor makes a decision on a kind of health care a patient needs, rather than an accountant, where there are external and independent review processes for patients who have not received adequate care.

There was a recent, dare I say, CNN/"USA Today" poll in the last few days that showed -- the question was what degree of confidence do you have in these organizations. The bottom organization was HMOs, 15 percent.

I think they got that reputation because they weren't treating their patients right. I don't know of any other reasons why HMOs should be the least respected organization in America. We're trying to fix that.

And I'd like to also add we're working with the White House, we're working with everybody. We want to come up with a bill the president will sign. That's our job.

WOODRUFF: Because he said right now he will not sign the bill in its current form.

MCCAIN: Yes, and I hope that we can come up with a bill that he can. But we obviously find it hard to understand why a bill that is so similar to the one that was passed in the state of Texas, albeit without his signature, was passed in the state of Texas would not be something that the White House could support.

WOODRUFF: And finally, senator, our political analyst Charles Cook was on our program yesterday, and among other things said that it's his understanding that if John McCain, if the John McCain- supported patients' bill of rights passes the Congress and were vetoed by the president, that would be a clear trigger for you to leave the Republican Party.

MCCAIN: No. That -- under no circumstances.

WOODRUFF: Are you even thinking, considering...


WOODRUFF: ... leaving the Republican Party?

MCCAIN: No, nor am I discussing it with anyone. I'm trying to work with Republicans and the president, and I will on a broad variety of issue. We have a very cordial relationship and I want to help him.


WOODRUFF: Senator John McCain talking with me at his office in the Capitol just a few hours ago.

Now, an opposing view on patients' rights. Assistant Senate Minority Leader Don Nickles joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Senator Nickles, thank you for being with us, and let me begin by asking about your argument or the argument of you and your colleague that you need to delay this debate, because there's information -- there's material in the bill that you don't know about. Senator McCain said of course they know what's in the bill.

SEN. DON NICKLES (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, a couple of comments, Judy. One, the bill that I think we're going to be hearing or reviewing or the, Democrats are going to call up is one that was introduced late Thursday night. They had another bill on Wednesday. So I don't know exactly what the changes have been.

The one that we'll be considering, we've never had hearings on it. The last hearing we had before the Labor Committee was in, I think, March of '99, over two years ago. It's not the same bill. It's not the Kennedy-Norwood-Dingell bill that we wrestled with, with the last Congress. So it's significantly different.

It's also very important, because we're dealing with issues that are going to affect every single health care plan in America. And some of these changes are very, potentially are very expensive changes. I mean, employers can be sued. We've had some of the proponents say employers can't be sued be in the language of the bill. They can.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me take some of the points that I raised with Senator McCain one by one. To your very point, I quoted to him your comment that this bill could bankrupt employers. In response to that, he said there are very strong employer protections in here. He said an employer will not and cannot be sued if they had nothing to do with a medical decision.

NICKLES: Well, that's not what the language in the bill says. That's one of the reasons why we've been saying we need to have a little time to look at the bill. They've changed little parts of this bill. But basically, there's a provision that says employers can't be sued, then the next paragraph says employers can be sued, and then it says if they had anything to do with the decision-making process, where every employer has something to do with the decision-making process. They select the carriers and so on. So it has a couple of exemptions.

But the way I look at it almost any employer that has anything to do with health care plan can be sued for unlimited damages, pain and suffering. They can choose the court -- a trial lawyer can choose whatever court they want, state court or federal court. And they have unlimited noneconomic damages -- that's pain and suffering. They will put a lot of employers at risk, and a lot of employers, unfortunately, I think, faced with that uncertain legal climate will drop their plans.

WOODRUFF: Senator, to the point that the criticism from your side that their bill is a trial lawyer's bill, Senator McCain said in states where a bill like this has been passed there have been very, very few lawsuits.

NICKLES: Well, that's a different issue altogether. Those lawsuits -- for example, eight states have passed something that provided for some limited liability. This bill goes so much further than any of those states. For example, the state of Texas was referred to. Texas has an employer exemption. There's no employer exemption in this bill, or if it is, it's so riddled with holes. Employers can be sued under this bill.

And to have major proponents of the bill saying, well, employers can't really be sued when they can be, I find this very troubling.

WOODRUFF: He -- I also asked Senator McCain -- I think you heard it -- about this notion -- I asked him why -- why is it such a problem only to be able to sue in federal court. He said it's his understanding that Republicans -- it's a longstanding Republican principle that you want to use a state court for a state matter, and then he went on to cite Justice Rehnquist, saying that these are the kinds of issues that ought to be settled in state courts.

NICKLES: Well, what they have in their bill is you can sue in state court or federal court. They put a $5 million cap on punitive damages in federal court, no limitations in state court. So you can do some jury shopping, pick your jury, find your state, find a jury. And with a good jury, you can put somebody out of business.

I don't think that's a -- I don't think that's a good result whatsoever.

WOODRUFF: And on the point of cost, Senator Nickles, I think you heard his point that yes, it does cost some more than alternative legislation, but he said much of that cost is because they would take care of breast cancer treatment, and they also are involved in clinical trials for terminal illnesses. And he said he'd be glad to have up-or-down votes on the Senate floor on those issues.

NICKLES: Well, we're going to have up-or-down votes on ways to reduce the cost of this, because this -- according to CBO, it says that this increases costs 4.2 percent over and above escalating health care costs. As you know, Judy, the last couple of years health care costs have been rising dramatically: 13-point-some percent nationally. This is on top of that.

A lot of employer, particularly small employers, health care costs are already rising at 20, 22, 25 percent. So you add another 4 or 5 percent on top of that, a lot of employers are going to say: No way, I don't have to provide this benefit. My employees don't appreciate it very much anyway. Now, I can be sued for unlimited damages on top of that. I'm afraid, Judy, a lot of employers will say: No, thanks. Here, employee, here's the money, I hope you go out and buy health care. Some of them would. Unfortunately, a lot of them would not.

WOODRUFF: Finally, senator, what about his point that on their side they have hundreds of organizations, of doctors and nurses, the American Cancer Society, and other groups, he said versus your side has the HMOs? And he said he'd much rather be on the side of the doctor and nurses than on the side of these organizations that are held, as he put it, in such low regard by the American people.

NICKLES: Well, I don't think HMOs are on my side on this issue. I will tell you, I think the dilemma -- some of the groups that he mentioned have special provisions in this bill. They helped write his bill: the trial lawyer, the American Medical Association -- they helped write this bill. And they have little special provisions that basically say, hey, if we say something's needed, if we have expert opinion from anybody, anybody who is an expert, they have to be paid, even if it's not in the contract.

I find that in violation of any type of contractual law. So if you have a contract with somebody to provide benefits, under this bill, it says the contract need not apply.

WOODRUFF: Prediction, senator. What's going to happen?

NICKLES: Well, I hope, Judy, that we pass a good patients' bill of rights. I hope that we pass one that would help reduce costs, not increase health care costs. I don't want to pass a bill that's going to uninsure millions of Americans. I'm afraid that's what would happen if we pass the bill as it's written. I hope that we can improve it as we consider the bill through various amendments and possible substitutes.

WOODRUFF: All right, Senator Don Nickles, we thank you very much. Good to see you, senator. Thank you.

NICKLES: Thanks, Judy. You bet.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

And now, we go to the White House for the latest on patients' rights and other matters political. Let's check in with our senior White House correspondent John King.

Now, John, we understand the Republican leadership is at the White House right now to talk about strategy. What can you tell us about that?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. The House speaker, Dennis Hastert, and the House -- the Senate minority leader now, Trent Lott, the former majority leader meeting with the president at this hour. It is a private meeting. On the agenda, of course, strategy for the issue you've been discussing: two very different views between Senator McCain and Senator Nickles. The White House deciding just how it should approach this debate over a patients' bill of rights. Senior officials here saying the White House is not a party to the delay strategy right now being used by Senate Republicans.

In the view of the White House, according to one senior official a short time ago, let's get this bill on the floor, let's have some votes on those amendments to see who actually has the votes on the major issues. The White House, of course, says it wants a bill the president can sign, but a very contentious battle there ahead.

This meeting called by the president, because just heading into this July 4th congressional recess and just out of it, a lot of his domestic agenda will be decided by the Congress. He wants the House and the Senate to reach a compromise agreement on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. His problem there, House conservatives -- they think the Senate version of that bill spends way too much money.

The House on Thursday will mark up a compromise of the president's faith-based initiative, the White House suddenly confident that perhaps it can get that item through the Congress, beginning in the House.

Trade, another issue for this discussion here: the president seeking not only passage of some controversial trade agreements, but also a new trade negotiating authority. Again, patients' bill of rights, one of the issues: perhaps not the No. 1 issue on the president's agenda. But he knows over the next two or three weeks he will have to react to that debate given the contentiousness of that issue -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, speaking of contentiousness, there's a letter that's gone out from the Internal Revenue Service that's got some Democrats upset. The letter talks about the president's tax cut. Tell us about that.

KING: Well, Judy, before the check is in the mail, that tax rebate check, there will be a letter in the mail from the Internal Revenue Service, the administration saying simply, good government. That letter says, quote: "We are pleased to inform you that the United States Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law, the economic growth and tax relief reconciliation act of 2001, which provides long-term tax relief for all Americans who pay income taxes.

The new tax law provides immediate tax relief in 2001 and long- term tax relief for the years to come. Now the Democrats saying this is an abuse of power by the administration, among them Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who, earlier today, said this was simple partisan politics designed to help the president.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This letter is imbued with political rhetoric and it leads to the inevitable conclusion that it's purpose was not informative but rather political. It risks harming the reputation of the IRS, sets an unfortunate precedent, and wastes millions of dollars.


KING: Now, the White House saying that is simply not so. They say people over at the IRS said if these checks show up unannounced without any explanation, that the IRS switchboards would be overwhelmed with telephone calls from people who the administration says just aren't used to getting a check in mail from the IRS. So, White House press secretary saying this is not an abuse of power. He says it's good government.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They are in the best position of anybody to know whether or not receipt of 100 million unexplained checks is going to all of a sudden cause more problems if people don't have any type of notice that they are going to be receiving a check of this nature. So the IRS is sending out the notice as part of their routine communications, properly so.


KARL: The White House concedes, however, that three senior administration officials were on a conference call with Treasury Department officials in helping to draft the language of that letter. Those officials, though, say that they at one point said hey, why can't you send this letter in the mail with the check, explaining what the check is about.

They were told that government regulations prohibit that. So, the letter will go out first, check later. Debate continues -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And John, separately, a move by the Justice Department to settle the lawsuit with the tobacco industry?

KING: Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked three lawyers from the department's civil division to explore a settlement. Remember, this suit was filed against the industry during the Clinton Administration. Attorney General at the time Janet Reno saying the government loses more than $20 billion a year in health costs because of tobacco-related issues -- related illnesses.

This administration, the Bush Administration, has always been skeptical about the suit. We're told that after a few adverse court rulings, the attorney general, on the advice of career civil division lawyers, decided to explore a settlement. The department at the same time though, saying a separate team of lawyers will continue the case in court if those settlement negotiations are not fruitful -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting from the White House, thanks.

Fighting the patients' bill of rights 30 seconds at a time. We'll roll out the ad reel with David Peeler to find out who's spending and how much. But first...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. KEN ANDERSON, GERALDINE FERRARO'S DOCTOR: She's approaching this challenge, the challenge of her life just as she's approached other challenges, and I'm sure she'll be a winner.


WOODRUFF: A new obstacle for Geraldine Ferraro. Plus, a look at the legacy of her most famous journey down the campaign trail.

And later: Looking for answers. The parents of a missing intern bring their search back to the nation's capitol.


WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting for most of this day, former Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Geraldine Ferraro is battling blood cancer. Ferraro was diagnosed with the illness after a routine physical in December 1998. She disclosed the illness in a "New York Times" interview published today.

CNN's Eileen O'connor has more on Ferraro's illness and her groundbreaking career in politics.



EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When she accepted the Democratic nomination as the first woman vice presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferraro reflected on the gift of life.

FERRARO: If it is preserved jealously and selfishly, it impoverishes and saddens, but if it is spent for others, it enriches and beautifies.

O'CONNOR: The daughter of Italian immigrants, Ferraro became a public school teacher, attending law school at night, becoming a mother and a prosecutor who fought for victims of violent crime and, ultimately, her congressional constituents.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: She's someone who inspires you -- not just women, but everyone who cares about improving life for people.

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: She's been blazing trails ever since, and even in this, with her diagnosis of her illness, she certainly has been graced with a lot of strength and dignity in confronting it as well.

O'CONNOR: Diagnosed in 1998 with multiple myeloma, an incurable type of blood cancer that suppresses the immune system, Ferraro will be testifying before Congress seeking money for a cure.

ANDERSON: We can't cure this disease today, I'm very sad to say. The overall survival is about three to four years.

O'CONNOR: Because myeloma represents about 2 percent of cancer deaths, claiming about 11,000 lives a year in the United States, doctors involved with Ferraro's care complain there is little incentive for drug companies to fund the research. But they hope having Ferraro on their side will help.

Doctors say Ferraro's cancer is being treated with thalidomide, a once controversial drug linked to birth defects, recently found effective in stemming the growth of certain cancers. Ferraro's friends say she's never shied from a fight or a controversy, standing by her husband accused of financial wrongdoing, or supporting federal funding for abortion, despite her catholic upbringing.

PATRICIA IRELAND, PRESIDENT, NOW: She has fought for other women's rights and other women's lives, and in anyway she can draw strength to fight for her own life, more power to her.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Ferraro says she doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for her, and while acknowledging this is a race she may not win, she says she is still going to go on and "do the things that I do."

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And joining me now with a closer look at Geraldine Ferraro's political career is CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, so what happened in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro broke through that glass ceiling and became the first woman to run for national office on a major party ticket? All kinds of unexpected things.


SCHNEIDER: (voice-over): Before the 1984 Democratic convention, Walter Mondale was under a lot of pressure from women's rights activists to put a woman on the ticket. If he does that, cynics said, Mondale will look like he's caving in to another special interest. He did name a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic Congresswoman from Queens, New York. But the reaction was not what the cynics expected. People were genuinely excited.



FERRARO: "Vice president," it has such a nice ring to it.


SCHNEIDER: Women found themselves caught up in the thrill of it all. Democrats were over the moon.


FERRARO: My name is Geraldine Ferraro. I stand before you to proclaim tonight: America is a land where dreams can come true for all of us.


SCHNEIDER: Along with the excitement came apprehension. No one knew the rules for dealing with a woman candidate -- like whether you kiss your running mate or simply shake her hand. Almost immediately, questions emerged about her husband's finances. Is it fair to ask her about that? How hard should she be pressed? How will she handle it?


FERRARO: I was there merely to keep in case of emergency or his disability that he is alive. I have never participated in the workings of that business despite the title.


SCHNEIDER: She handled it very well, as it turned out. Critics complained that she didn't answer all the questions, but her performance was so assured that, as one wag put it, "the networks declared her innocent."

At one point in the vice presidential debate that year, her opponent stepped over the line.


GEORGE BUSH, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 1984: Let me help you with the difference, Ms. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon.


SCHNEIDER: Ferraro called him on it.


FERRARO: Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.


SCHNEIDER: The press also found itself in an awkward position.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have had little or no experience in military matters, and yet you might, some day, find yourself commander in chief of the armed forces. How can you convince the American people and a potential enemy that you would know what to do to protect this nation's security?


SCHNEIDER: She knew how to handle them, too.


FERRARO: Are you saying that I would have to have fought in a war in order to love peace?


SCHNEIDER: In the end, what impact did her candidacy have on the race? That, too, was unexpected. Throughout the entire campaign, Mondale trailed Ronald Reagan in the polls.

Only once did Mondale catch up with the incumbent president. That was during the Democratic Convention when Ferraro got the nomination. Americans were excited. For a brief moment, the race was too close to call.

It didn't last. In the end, having Ferraro on the ticket didn't seem to make much difference. That, in itself, was a big step forward for women.


SCHNEIDER: Now, here's another ironic step forward for women: For all his many years in public service as senator, vice president and ambassador, Walter Mondale is likely to best be remembered as the man who put the first woman on a national political ticket.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

A mystery in the nation's capital. What happened to Chandra Levy and what brings her parents back to Washington? The latest from Bob Franken, just ahead.


WOODRUFF: The parents of Chandra Levy are due back here in Washington later today to keep pressing police and their congressman for information about their missing daughter. Our national correspondent Bob Franken has been following this case. He's here with an update.

Bob, what do Dr. and Mrs. Levy hope to find?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I am not quite sure. Nobody seems to know exactly why they are coming. We are told that there will be a news conference tomorrow -- they arrived by the way late this evening flying from San Francisco -- holding a news conference some point tomorrow. Will be introducing their new Washington attorney.

We are told that they do not have a meeting with the Washington police, at least as of last word. There is no meeting with Congressman Condit. Although Congressman Gary Condit, who is of course involved in this because of the accusation that he had a romantic relationship with their daughter, Congressman Condit has repeatedly said he would love to meet with them, but thus far, according to his office, no meeting has been set up. No response has come from Dr. and Mrs. Levy.

So they're coming to town for a news conference and to find out what other strategies they have will probably rely on what their attorney tells them.

WOODRUFF: Other than getting more press attention, which they presumably will do here in Washington, what can they accomplish here that they couldn't accomplish back home in California?

FRANKEN: Well, you are asking a question that a lot of people are asking: is the reason to just keep this alive by coming to the media centers and getting press attention? The fact of the matter is that the story has developed to the point that they will get press attention whenever they want. As we found out last Thursday, when in fact they got a tremendous amount of attention from their home in Modesto, California.

It's been seven weeks since their daughter has been missing, they want to try everything that they can. What is new about this one is the fact that they will meet with their new Washington attorney. It begs the question, why couldn't they have the meeting over the phone?

WOODRUFF: Bob, anything new at all on the case from the police?

FRANKEN: The police say nothing, at least that they are telling us, of course we don't really know if there is anything new. What they will tell us is that they do not know where she is. They don't know exactly what happened to her. They do say that it is still being treated not as a crime, but as a missing person report.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken, thank you very much.

Executives from the Ford Motor Company testify on safety issues on Capitol Hill, while hundreds of UAW workers rally outside in support. We'll have more on that story when we return.


WOODRUFF: More than 300 -- or 3,000 Ford hourly workers, riding in some 1,900 Ford Explorers, staged a huge rally today in Washington. The United Auto Workers Union members came to town to express support for Ford, as company executives answered questions at a congressional hearing on safety issues surrounding the Explorer. Ford paid at least a day's wage to each UAW member who made the pilgrimage to Washington.

Sure enough, the hearing today offered some surprises to those Ford executives who had hoped to stem safety concerns about the Explorer by recalling some 13 million Firestone tires often found on the vehicle. That decision sparked a major battle between the Ford and Firestone companies, and as our Patty Davis explains, one senior Republican suggested that Ford's cure may be as bad as the problem.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The allegations are enough to drive a Ford Explorer owner crazy. Congressional investigators now say the tires Ford recently told Explorer owners to use to replace Firestone may have problems of their own.

REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R-LA), ENERGY & COMMERCE CHAIRMAN: Ford is going to replace these recalled tires with tires that have a worse claims history that some of the tires that are coming off of the Explorers.

DAVIS: Billy Tauzin who chairs the committee investigating tire safety has refused to name the specific tires, saying he wants to give federal investigators 30 days to check safety concerns. Ford's CEO said this is the first he'd heard of it.

JACQUES NASSER, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Mr. Chairman, we should not be waiting 30 days. If that data is accurate, we should be acting in 30 minutes.

DAVIS: In fact, a congressional source tells CNN the committee tire investigation is bare bones and questions the findings. In its latest effort to replace 13 million Firestones, Ford's using tires made by Goodyear, Continental, General, Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal. Consumer advocates say Explorer owners have a right to know the facts now.

CLARENCE DITLOW, CENTER FOR AUTO SAFETY: It's clearly confusing the consumer, because we went through one recall and replaced the tires, and now they are saying that the tires that were replaced maybe worse.

DAVIS: Experts say consumers worried about tread separation should watch for these signs.

STEVE ROBAIR, MANAGER, D&D TIRES: For a ride that's not as smooth, if you are getting some trouble in your ride, you're getting a vibration, you're getting a shaking, you know, those are things to be concerned about. Get them checked out.

DAVIS (on camera): But tires may not be the only concern of Explorer owner. Federal safety regulators are considering a request by Firestone and Chairman Tauzin to investigate whether the Ford Explorer itself is safe.

Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: The man you saw just a moment ago, Ford Motor Company President Jacques Nasser will be a guest tonight on Lou Dobbs' "MONEYLINE," that's at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Nothing left but the waiting. It's decision day for the voters who have watched two candidates battle for the Virginia House seats. Will the ads make the difference? We will check the ads spending with David Peeler.


WOODRUFF: Voters in Virginia's 4th congressional district are going to the polls today, casting ballots to fill the seat of the late Democrat Norman Sisisky. Today's special election marks the end of a bitter campaign between two state senators, Republican Randy Forbes and Democrat Louise Lucas. Given the slim margins on Capitol Hill, the national parties are carefully monitoring this House race.

As the candidates traded barbs on a number of issues, their campaigns, along with the state parties, launched attack and counterattack ads throughout the course of the campaign.

And joining us now, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting. Hi, David.


WOODRUFF: First of all, how does the spending add up in this race?

PEELER: Well, Judy, it's very interesting. This may be a local congressional race, but it's really turned into a heavyweight about for the national campaign parties. And I tell you, the money tells the story.

As we look at the figures: Forbes has spent about $651,000 against Lucas' $308,000. That's about what we would expect for a middle-sized medium market. But what is really interesting here is let's look at what the parties have spent: the Virginia Democratic Party has weighed in with almost $1.4 million, the Virginia GOP spent almost $1.2 million.

Even the unions have stepped in, with the AFSCME group weighing in with $30,000 on behalf of Lucas, so this has clearly been a very, very competitive race and one that has been involving the national and the local state parties.

WOODRUFF: David, there is another race that is warming up in Virginia, and that one is for the governor's seat. You have Democrat Mark Warner. He has been on the air for quite some time, and now the Republican nominee, Mark Earley, is reaching out to voters, and he has a new series of ads.




EARLEY: We have come a long way, but there is still...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot more we can do. EARLEY: Smaller class sizes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More parents involved.

EARLEY: Raise teachers' salaries to the national average.

EARLEY: I am Mark Earley.



WOODRUFF: So, between Mark Earley and Mark Warner, how much have these two candidates spent?

PEELER: Well, let's put this race in perspective. Mark Warner has been on the airwaves pretty much by himself since early May. He spent about $1.7 million so far in support of his name recognition and getting out there.

Earley waited until he got the GOP nomination, which he got, and went on the air about June 7. He so far spent $179,000, so he is being outspent to date 10 to one.

The media story here is that this race doesn't take place until the fall. We are still -- we have not even hit the summer yet, so these two candidates are at a rate that is very, very accelerated in terms of time and in terms of dollars. Earley is going to have to make up that money difference pretty quickly. And it's going to be a very competitive race.

WOODRUFF: David, different topic: we talked earlier in the show about the patients' bill of rights, the debate coming up in the Senate. What sorts of ads are there out on this issue?

PEELER: Well, there are quite a few ads, most of them in opposition to the Kennedy-McCain bill, and all of them really kind of touch on some of the same themes. Let's show a couple.



NARRATOR: The Kennedy-McCain bill has Rhonda Rome (ph) worried.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can barely afford.

NARRATOR: It could force small businesses like hers to cut health insurance benefits because of expensive new health care lawsuits.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear! NARRATOR: We can make health plans accountable to patients without killing the coverage of working Americans. Say no to Kennedy- McCain.



NARRATOR: Bad for the economy. Bad for working people. Bad idea.


PEELER: Well, the media story here is that there is not an awful lot of media weight behind it. We've seen less than $100,000 spent so far. We have seen the Chamber Institute of Legal Reform spend close to 50. Health care -- Health Benefits Coalition, about 15,000. And the American Association of Health Plans at 20,000.

Interestingly, though, from a media perspective, all of that spending is within the Beltway. So it's one of those pundit advertising stories, trying to craft a debate.

If this issue is going to stay on the front burner, here's what I would expect to see. As the senators recess over the July 4th holiday, those ads should start running in those home districts. So, that's what we'd expect to see, again, if it's going to stay a hot issue.

WOODRUFF: When I talked to Senator John McCain today, David, he predicted that his opponents on this will spend up to $15 million. So we'll see whether he's right.

PEELER: Well, remember, Judy, they spent it against Harry and Louise, so I'm sure they have the money.

WOODRUFF: All right. David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting, thanks.

PEELER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: An impasse in a very public breakup: another legal representative appointed in the bitter divorce between the New York City mayor and his wife. The reason just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: In the very public divorce of New York City's mayor and his estranged wife, the judge today took action on one contentious issue. The Giuliani children now have a legal representative who will broach the issue of meeting the mayor's girlfriend.

CNN's Jason Carroll reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man who has run New York City with a firm hand for the past seven years now has the state court running one of the most private parts of his life.

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: The divorce dispute between Donna Hanover and me should be private.

CARROLL: The legal team of the mayor's estranged wife, Donna Hanover, isn't commenting either about the latest developments involving their divorce case. But Rudy Giuliani's attorney is talking about his client's reaction to a state judge's decision appointing a law guardian, or legal representative, for the Giuliani children.

RAOUL FELDER, GIULIANI'S ATTORNEY: The mayor on a personal level was disappointed that two adults could not move forward and try to do what's right for the kids and try to get on with their lives.

CARROLL: Justice Judith Gische says she had no choice but to appoint the law guardian to represent the children's interests. She had given both sides 30 days to reach an agreement on how Andrew, who's 15, and Caroline, 11, would meet Giuliani's girlfriend, Judith Nathan. But they couldn't agree and the two sides are still fighting.

FELDER: Ms. Hanover is dancing to her own drummer, and that drummer is telling her drag this case on as long as possible.

CARROLL: Justice Gische also appointed a New York attorney to negotiate the Nathan issue and custody arrangements.

JO ANN DOUGLAS, ATTORNEY (via recording): Hi. My name is Jo Ann Douglas and I'm a lawyer with the distinct pleasure of representing children in divorce proceedings.

CARROLL: On this Web site, Jo Ann Douglas explained for children how a law guardian works.

DOUGLAS (via recording): ... take the opportunity to talk to your children about it.

CARROLL: CNN's Greta Van Susteren explains why a law guardian was needed.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What it means is that it may chill out the parties a little bit. Right now, I suspect both sides are coming in and with great vigor are asserting all sorts of things about the other side, and what this does in some ways is put out the fire a little bit.

CARROLL (on camera): The state justice has expressed frustration over the dueling parties' inability to settle their differences in this divorce case, which has already dragged on for several months in public, upstaging the mayor's policy efforts. The justice has scheduled a private off-the-record court proceeding with the parties to get them talking face to face.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Turning a crisis into a campaign issue: Can California's governor put the power problems on the White House and boost his re-election campaign? Ron Brownstein on the new Gray Davis strategy, ahead in the next 30 minutes of INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: The federal execution of Juan Raul Garza raises old questions about race and justice. Also ahead, in Texas, a celebration of emancipation that was late in coming. And a baseball legend in his own time says it's time for him to go.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

After a 38-year hiatus, the federal government has executed a second inmate in a little more than a week. The lawyer for convicted murderer Juan Raul Garza decried his client's death by lethal injection as "precise savagery."

But, the White House characterizes it as a deterrent to crime and says there is no evidence of racial bias in Garza's case. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has been looking at Garza's execution, and questions about race and the death penalty.


HARLEY LAPPIN, WARDEN, TERRE HAUTE PRISON: Pursuant to the sentence of the United States district court in the Southern District of Texas, Juan Raul Garza has been executed by lethal injection.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Juan Raul Garza died eight days almost to the hour after the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Garza died in the same place, on the same gurney, by the same chemical solution with considerably less attention.

The execution gives volume to what may be the most politically potent question about the death penalty: Is it racist?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I think there is racial bias, but also class bias. You see more people of color and you see more people of meager mean, low-income people. You seldom ever see someone on death row that is wealthy or very, very rich. It's people that have full legal counsel, people that are black or Hispanic.

CROWLEY: The raw numbers are not in dispute. Garza's death leaves 18 men on federal death row: 14 African-Americans, two Hispanics, two whites. In the past dozen years, 75 percent of those charged with a federal capital crime have been minorities.

But where death penalty opponents see part of a large troubling picture in the Garza execution, the White House paints a smaller, clearer case.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of Mr. Garza's victims, except one, were Hispanic. The prosecutor in the case was Hispanic. The presiding judge is Hispanic. At least six of the jurors were Hispanic.

CROWLEY: Garza and McVeigh, the first federal executions in nearly 40 years, are part of a macabre mosaic that has brought the death penalty to the forefront and to the doorstep of George W. Bush.

JOYCE LADNER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It is increasingly strong, especially among advocate organizations, among very politically aware people, and even among people who are not that very -- not interested or involved in politics, still see the disparity.

CROWLEY: In between the two executions, the president was in Europe, where death penalty protesters showed up in the streets and in the headlines.

And just before Garza's death, Texas Governor Rick Perry, vetoed a bill to ban the execution of the mentally retarded, rekindling discussion of the president's Texas record on the death penalty. For a president anxious to court the Latino and African-American communities, this is a troublesome spotlight.

LEWIS: I think any president -- whether that president be Republican or a Democrat, in this case Mr. Bush -- I think you pay a heavy price for allowing any human being to be put to death.

CROWLEY: President George Bush, the last stop for Juan Raul Garza, refused a clemency request.

GREG WIERCIOCH, GARZA ATTORNEY: Today, President Bush had the last word, but he will not have the final say on the death penalty. History will.

CROWLEY: Death penalty opponents believe the course of events is on their side.

(on camera): On both sides of the issues the numbers and factors are dizzying, and subject to manipulation. But as any politician can tell you, in politics sometimes the facts are not as potent as the perception.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington


WOODRUFF: Now, to Texas and a celebration of the end of slavery. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on today's "Juneteenth" festivities, and the freedom that was late in coming to the Lone Star State.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to read you a story and it tells about the story of Juneteenth.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jaye McLaughlin is telling a 136-year-old story, the legend of what happened on June 19, 1865.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's when the Texas slaves learned they had been freed. Nobody really knows why it took so long to get the news down here. Freedom was a long time coming, but it was mighty sweet when it got here.

LAVANDERA: Countless stories have been told about why it took more than two years for Texas slaves to find out Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863, freeing slaves across the Union.

One story says the messenger was murdered on his way down to Texas. Others say slave owners refused to break the news so they could get one more season of work out of their slaves.

ROBERT HAYNES, DALLAS AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSEUM: Now, these are all folk tales, and nothing can be verified, but we do know that Gordon Granger arrived on the 19th of June, 1865.

LAVANDERA: So when Gordon Granger's ship pulled into the port of Galveston, he read the news that triggered a cultural earthquake across Texas.

HAYNES: "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with the proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

LAVANDERA: The original military order is stored under lock and key at the Dallas Historical Society -- seven lines that changed thousands of lives.

REV. RICHIE RUSH: That's one of the basic reasons that makes this race, this culture so strong, is that the endurance of not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring, but always knowing there will be a tomorrow.

LULA BRIGGS GALLOWAY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JUNETEENTH LINEAGE: We're celebrating the fact that our ancestors had the nerve to start celebrating that day, because they did.

LAVANDERA: 136 years later, African-Americans still celebrate the day. Juneteenth is a Texas state holiday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It always surprises me that we were the last to find out, but I am glad we did!

LAVANDERA: These kids may not be old enough to fully understand the story of the Juneteenth jamboree, but the lesson for June 19th can be captured in one simple, yet powerful word: freedom.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


WOODRUFF: Matters of race and ethnicity are prominent in American life and politics in the year 2001. But author and journalist Michael Barone says that has been true for more than a century. I spoke recently with Barone and I asked him about his new book, and why he called it "The New Americans, How The Melting Pot Can Work Again."


MICHAEL BARONE, "US NEWS & WORLD REPORT": We hear a lot of talk today that America is suddenly becoming a multiracial, multicultural country. And a lot of people who say that are saying we have to live off in kind of our separate categories and separate groups, as they do in the college dormitories where they have separate black and other dining halls and things like that.

My thesis in this book is that that's wrong, that America's minority groups of today resemble immigrant groups of 100 years ago. Blacks resemble Irish. Latinos resemble Italians. Asians resemble Jews.

One-hundred years ago, people were saying, look, these different races: Irish, Italians and Jews were regarded as different races, can never be mixed into the American fabric. Well, they were, and we can do it again.

WOODRUFF: Why -- all right, let's talk about these individual groups, you talk about Irish and blacks, what are the parallels?

BARONE: Well, the Irish that came from Protestant-ruled Ireland in the 1840s. And the blacks who came from the segregated South to the northern cities starting from the 1940s, both came from old countries where they were excluded from political power, excluded from government, largely excluded from the economic marketplace. The only institutions they really controlled were their churches.

And they came to the northern cities mostly without high skill levels and they came with an attitude that the larger society was fundamentally unfair, which, of course, it had been, where they came from.

WOODRUFF: Now, some African-Americans, I think, might argue, well, we've been in this country a long time and in many respects we still haven't been assimilated.

BARONE: Well, I think that argument is correct. The first blacks -- Africans were shipped here as slaves in 1619. And full citizenship was not really realized until the civil rights acts of the 1960s.

I'm old enough to remember when blacks were taking their lives and their hands when they tried to register to vote in some states in this country, including the one which CNN is headquartered. So, that was -- black Americans have obviously operated under a lot of handicaps and it's a long history.

But that history of the migration from the '40s resembles in a lot of way, not perfectly, that migration of the Irish of 100 years before. WOODRUFF: And what about the Italians and the Latinos?

BARONE: The Italians who came mostly from Southern Italy. The Latinos, who come from Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Both come from societies where institutions are untrustworthy.

You don't trust any institution except your family and hard work. Everybody else is just out to cheat you. You steer clear of them, keep your head down, and work hard. And what we've seen today, Hispanic males have the highest work force participation of any measured group.

WOODRUFF: Finally, what about Jews of a century ago, or more recently, today's Asian immigrants?

BARONE: Well, the Jews of a century ago and the different East Asian groups in different ways have both been persecuted peoples, people who have faced persecution as the Jews did in the Russian Empire, as the overseas Chinese have done in East Asia. They have also been people of high traditions of literacy, people of the book, of the Torah, of the book of Confucius and other religious books, who have valued literacy, and people with a lot of experience in commerce.

When they have come to America where they haven't been met with barriers, as the Jews were met with barriers in the big corporations and the old law firms -- where they haven't met barriers, they have been exceedingly successful.

WOODRUFF: Still, having said all this, Michael Barone, how can you be so confident that the assimilation is going to happen as it happened, as it took place before?

BARONE: Well, I think in some ways I'm not totally confident. I think we have unlearned some of the lessons that we should have learned from the last century. I mean, if you have gone to Julia Richmond, the superintendent of schools of the Lower East Side of New York in 1913, and said: "How are you going to educate these Italian kids? They come from a tradition where families have no regard for education, they mistrust the schools, they want their kids out of there."

She said: "When we have them, we are going to teach them how to speak, read and write English and we are going to teach them the basic civic culture of the country, the basic facts about the government and the founding of the United States," and the New York public schools did that.

Now, the New York and Los Angeles public schools with Latino kids have been keeping them in Spanish-language instruction, have been keeping them out of full access to English under these so-called bilingual education programs.

WOODRUFF: What are the political ramifications here? Why is it so important for this nation that these groups are assimilated, as you describe? BARONE: Well, I think it's important because people are only going to really achieve their maximum potential, if they have a chance to be part of this larger society. And that, you know, we've got a country of 281 million, stretched across a continent, with outposts in Alaska and Hawaii. We have people with grave differences on cultural issues. I mean, in the last election people split on religion more than any demographic factor between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

I think that we want to have a common civic culture in which people agree on the rules of the game, and they agree on the rule that everybody should have equal opportunity, nobody should have special privileges, and that we should work hard to make sure that those who come here as immigrants and migrants from that old south do with some handicaps, make sure that we provide through the public sector, the private sector, individual effort, help people to overcome those handicaps and make their own choices of how to be Americans.

WOODRUFF: All right, Michael Barone, and the book again is "The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again." Thanks very much.

BARONE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.


WOODRUFF: A charged debate over capping energy costs out West, the latest in the power struggle in the U.S. Senate, when INSIDE POLITICS continues.


WOODRUFF: On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats shifted gears today, turning away from legislation that would have imposed pricing caps on electricity in the Western states. The shift comes just one day after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moved to extend price mitigation efforts in California and 10 other Western states. The decision also comes after a Senate hearing on the issue. Among those testifying today, FERC Chairman Curt Hebert.


CURT HEBERT, FERC CHAIRMAN: We've issued orders removing impediments, removing obstacles. We're doing things faster than they have ever been done before to help California and the West.

We've got gas prices coming down, we're moving toward transparency with gas price. We're seeking comments on that, we're seeking comments on the caps themselves, on the capacity release. And now, we have price mitigation not only for California but also for the West.


WOODRUFF: After that testimony, California Senator Dianne Feinstein said that she's prepared now to wait and see how FERC's new policies affect the prices of energy.

And joining me now with more on California and its energy troubles, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times." Ron, this ruling, this decision yesterday by FERC, a victory for Governor Gray Davis?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": A victory in some ways, and maybe a problem in others. I mean, there has been a tug-of-war going on, Judy, between Davis and the White House and national Republicans on the other hand, over where California should point the finger of blame and expectation, who they look to for solutions to the problem and who they blame for the problem.

Davis' argument has been for months -- the argument he is going to repeat tomorrow when he testifies before Joe Lieberman's committee -- is that we are doing all we can in California, but Washington isn't doing enough to help us. That argument is obviously going to be harder to make now that FERC has acted, and Dianne Feinstein, among others, have basically said, look, don't look to us for more price relief at this point.

Davis is going to try to shift the argument toward rebates, but by and large, this has made it tougher for him politically, even as it has given him a substantive victory.

WOODRUFF: Do you think he realized that coming into this turn of events over the last few days?

BROWNSTEIN: Actually, I do think so. I mean, I think that the view in the White House is that Davis wants to put Bush on the ballot in 2002. He wants to run as much against Bush as whoever the Republicans nominate, largely in part because none of the potential -- leading potential Republican nominees have much connection with the crisis. Dick Riordan, the mayor of L.A., the secretary of State, the son of former Treasury Secretary Williamson, none of them are easily attached to this and given blame for it.

So, for Davis, I think one of the primary political imperatives is to argue that Bush is complicit in this, and therefore turning the state over to a Republican would make things even worse. Now, what the FERC decision does, as I said, is makes it somewhat harder to press the argument that the White House, the administration, has turned a total cold shoulder to California.

WOODRUFF: Makes it somewhat harder, but does it make it impossible?

BROWNSTEIN: No, nothing is impossible in politics. I mean, as soon -- it was price caps, price caps, price caps for months out of Sacramento. Now that FERC has gone further in that direction, it's rebates, rebates, rebates. I mean, the argument that he's going to make tomorrow, the governor, is that California has been overcharged and deserves as much as $5 billion or $6 billion in rebates.

The likelihood is there will be a sustained series of conflicts because Davis and the White House, partially because they have legitimate disagreements over how to handle this, and partially because it is a political necessity, many believe, for the governor to have disagreements with the White House to keep Bush, in effect, on the ballot in 2002.

WOODRUFF: Won't he also argue, Ron, that more needs to be done, that this mitigating prices in the West is not enough? That they need hard price caps?

BROWNSTEIN: Right, yeah. But the problem he's got is that -- it was always an uphill push to get hard price caps through the Senate, much less the House. Now that FERC has gone this far, really that has lanced the pressure there. You have Feinstein, the principal sponsor of the bill, saying, look, I am willing to wait. Jeff Bingaman today, the chairman of the Energy Committee, said I am willing to wait. It's very hard now for Davis to be out there arguing that we need to go forward.

WOODRUFF: So how does he take -- how does he deflect, then, the attention that's coming his way?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, you know, the challenge here is now this does tend to put the focus more back on decisions in Sacramento. If the summer is long, hot and power-starved, it does tend to put the focus more back on him, which is exactly the point that Scott Reed and his advertising campaign -- he was on the show yesterday.

The American Taxpayers Alliance, they are very much conscious of the threat to Republicans -- not only Bush, they don't really worry about it, they don't think he is going to carry California, but the danger to Republican congressional candidates if Davis can pin the blame primarily on the White House, or at least get people looking largely at the White House for solutions.

So, all of this, both the FERC decision and the ad campaign that the Reed group has, is all designed to put the focus back on Davis and what he does, in the hope that eventually Californians will take it out on him, if they are disappointed in the way things are next year.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein. And I have an apology to make. I called the chairman of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Curtis Hebert, and it's Curtis Hebert. And we want to make sure that's correct.


WOODRUFF: All right. Ron Brownstein.

BROWNSTEIN: The least of his troubles this week.

WOODRUFF: OK. Perhaps so. Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.

Well, he's not a politician, but he's got a lot of fans here in the nation's capital, including at least one in the White House. Coming up: Bruce Morton takes a closer look at Cal Ripken, as he prepares to end two decades with the Baltimore Orioles.


WOODRUFF: And finally, a story that has nothing to do with politics. As a Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripkin Jr. has surpassed many milestones -- in hitting, in home runs, in consecutive games played. Now Ripken says the time will be right at the end of the season to start a new life.

CNN's Bruce Morton takes a look back at a remarkable career.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is -- number 3,000, and another milestone for Cal Ripken Jr.!

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He passed all the milestones -- 3,000 hits, 400 home runs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deep to left, that ball is going to get out of here!

MORTON: Only seven players reached both those marks. He made only three errors one year, in a 161-game season, a record for shortstops. Eighteen all-star games. And of course, in September 1995, he broke Lou Gehrig's unbreakable record of playing 2,130 consecutive games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is official now, Cal Ripken has broken Lou Gehrig's record.

MORTON: And the applause went on, and on, and on. He played over 500 more games, ending the streak at 2,632 -- that's about 17 seasons -- simply because he thought it was time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for the first time in over 18 years, has sat and watched nine innings of baseball in a Baltimore uniform.

CAL RIPKEN JR., BALTIMORE ORIOLES: It's not a sad moment. I'm not going to sit up here and bawl my eyes out for you, that's for sure. I might hold it back until I get home. But no, it was OK.

MORTON: But Ripken is more than the numbers, the records. In an age when politicians follow polls, when sports seems all about money and agents bigger than players, in an age of hype, Ripken was the man who played for one team all his career, who stayed at the park and signed autographs when the sport needed to win fans back after the 1994 strike. He was the one with the work ethic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a love for the game, it's a respect for the game, and trying to go out there and pay honor to the game and play the best you can.

MORTON: And now he said this, his 21st season, will be his last. He didn't announce retirement exactly. A reporter asked him.

RIPKEN: The question was asked to me, is this your last year? And I paused for a minute, wondering what the ramifications of me answering the question directly would be, which is what you see right now, and I just said, yes. I said this is my last year.

MORTON: He is active in baseball for young people. Might like an ownership role. But mostly he says he wants more time with his family. He also said he hopes the rest of this season will be baseball, not a farewell tour. Don't bet on it!

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And we in Washington have been lucky to have Cal Ripken a hop, skip and a jump down the road. 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. Our e-mail address is

This programming note: Tonight in the CROSSFIRE, Senator James Inhofe and Robert Kennedy Jr. on President Bush's decision to halt bombing exercises on a Puerto Rican island. That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. I'm Judy Woodruff. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" next.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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