CNN INSIDE POLITICS
State Department Investigates Pearl's Kidnappers; Bush Has New Response to Enron Scandal; Interview With King Abdullah of Jordan
Aired February 1, 2002 - 16:02 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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. The king of Jordan tells me there will be major problems if Iraq is the next target in the U.S. war on terrorism.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Andrea Koppel at the State Department. Officials here are investigating a new and potentially damaging e-mail from the kidnappers of "Wall Street Journal" reporter, Daniel Pearl.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Kelly Wallace at the White House, where the president has a new response to the Enron debacle.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. I'll tell you who is having it both ways, and scoring the political play of the week.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is inside politics with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. It is still not clear at this hour whether kidnapped "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl is dead or alive. News organizations received an e-mail today claiming that Pearl had been killed. Our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel joins us with the latest on what happened to Pearl -- Andrea.
KOPPEL: Judy, I just spoke with a senior State Department official who is involved and intimately familiar with the details of this e-mail. He says that as of right now, there has been no conclusion made as to whether or not the latest e-mail is in fact authentic. According to the e-mail, which was received by a number of news organizations, including CNN, the kidnappers, the people who claim to have Daniel Pearl, say that they have killed him.
Obviously, the State Department and other U.S. officials are going over this very, very carefully. They want to be extremely careful, Judy, before they come forward with any kind of determination. I can tell you that they're also looking at, although not as quite as seriously, the phone calls that came out of Karachi, Pakistan earlier today as well, that claimed that they have Pearl, he is alive and they want a $2 million ransom -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Andrea, is there anything different about the latest e-mail from the earlier ones? Is there anything to help them, give them any more information about who's behind this and where they are?
KOPPEL: Well, unlike the first two e-mails, this latest e-mail does not have any pictures of Danny Pearl accompanying it. But I can tell you that the one -- the e-mail that came out yesterday which was authenticated also didn't have pictures.
Also, all four e-mails seem to be very different. They're sent to different news organizations. They come apparently from different log-ins, different e-mail senders. And the language, the text also seems quite different -- misspellings with different words, and things of the like. So they've got a tough job here trying to figure out if this is authentic.
WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Andrea Koppel, thanks.
Well, amid so much uncertainty about the fate of Daniel Pearl, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan issued an appeal today. In a message to fellow Muslims, he says -- quote -- "I urge the immediate release and safe return of Mr. Daniel Pearl. His release may serve the greater good and promote meaningful dialogue with the American people and government. Muslims are known for their compassion and mercy for the human family," end quote.
Farrakhan goes on to say "Mr. Daniel Pearl, a journalist, is not a combatant, and should be released. Our religion Islam is under trial. The world is watching. To execute or murder this man will increase hatred for Islam and damage the reputation of Muslims throughout the world." Farrakhan also calls on the United States to grant Afghan detainees prisoner of war status, and to reexamine its policy toward the Middle East and other regions.
Daniel Pearl's story drives home the dangers faced by journalists, particularly during wartime. Let's bring now in Howard Kurtz, of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES." Howard, first of all, you have a situation here where the government is saying it doesn't want to negotiate. But "The Wall Street Journal" is not in that position.
HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, I think "The Wall Street Journal" is doing what any company in America would do if one of its employees had been abducted and life threatened in this fashion. The "Journal's" managing editor, Paul Steiger, put out an e-mail saying "journalists are by definition trained messengers. Danny can be your messenger. A free Danny can explain your cause and your beliefs to the world."
Now, I don't think that's an effort by the "Journal" to capitulate or act as a spokesman for this group, a group no one had ever heard of before this incident. But I think -- it's a humanitarian appeal for a guy who has a pregnant wife, who colleagues say is a terrific human being, that dead, he isn't any good to these folks. So I'm not going to criticize the "Journal" for the approach they have taken right here.
WOODRUFF: Is there anything else the "Journal" could be doing at this point?
KURTZ: The "Journal" has made obviously an appeal to the U.S. government. The U.S. government is not going to negotiate over the demands about releasing Pakistani prisoners and so forth. So I think all the "Journal" can do is hope that other media around the world -- and I'm a little uncomfortable talking about this unconfirmed e-mail, because we don't know yet whether it's authentic -- but that other media around the world will carry the message of this, and that perhaps that, in turn, gets people like Louis Farrakhan and others who might be able to have some kind of connection with this group, involved.
But the truth is, in this kind of situation, reporters take all kinds of chances when they go into places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. There isn't really much that the news organization can do, other than issue an appeal, hope, wait and pray.
WOODRUFF: Well, Howard, you bring up the point about journalists being in a very dangerous situation. What are reporters to do in situations like this, where they may -- as you say, they have to make the decision on the ground. They can't call the home office every time an opportunity presents itself. But what are their guidelines that reporters can use in this situations?
KURTZ: By and large, Judy, editors in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, leave it to the reporters on the ground, veteran foreign correspondents, to figure out what risks they want to take. In hindsight, it was probably not a good idea to go off with people to a non-public location, not being entirely sure of the terrorist connections of this particular Pakistani group.
But at the same time, we have to keep in mind that it's hard to know when you're on the ground in a place like Pakistan or Afghanistan, where there is a lot of hostility to Americans, who do you trust? Who can act as your guide? Even your driver, your translator -- is that someone you can confide in, or who might be in cahoots with those who want to do you harm? So it's a very dangerous situation.
Eight other journalists have already been killed in Afghanistan during this war. And I think it just reminds us of the courage of correspondents, that we all take for granted when we see their reports, when we read them in the paper. The courage that they have in going into these situations. In this particular case, obviously, we're all still hoping for the best.
WOODRUFF: We are certainly hoping for the best. And you're right, we do take that courage for granted. Howard Kurtz, thanks very much.
The White House, understandably, has been closely following developments in the Daniel Pearl case, even as it moved ahead today with its domestic agenda, including its new 401(k) reform plan. Our White House correspondent, Kelly Wallace, has more on that proposal, and how it figures niece Enron politics. Hello, Kelly. WALLACE: Hello to you, Judy. Well, the White House definitely trying to show that it's reacting quickly to the collapse of Enron, and so we saw Mr. Bush head out to West Virginia this afternoon to talk to Republicans. And there he unveiled his proposals. Aides say he is really trying to deal with the most obvious problems. No. 1, giving Americans more freedom to diversify -- that Americans would be able to diversify their investment portfolios after three years.
Also the president is saying that executives should be barred from selling the company stock during those times when employees are barred from doing so. And also, the administration is calling for employees to get more investment advice, and to get 30 days notice before these black-out periods, when workers are not able to sell their company stock, so they can make some investment decisions ahead of time.
Again, aides say this, a first step, this a response to the president's task force put together about three weeks ago. Mr. Bush unveiling the recommendations today, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, Kelly, with Enron clearly being the backdrop here, do we know to what extent any of these reforms would help the Enron employees who lost so much money?
WALLACE: Well, you know, according to CNN's own analysis, and a lot of reporting by my colleague, Brooks Jackson, it appears these proposals would not have really helped Enron employees all that much, because apparently Enron employees had control of about 89 percent of their Enron 401(k) stock for most of the time. They just chose not to sell.
And so a lot of people are saying this is a good start, but what is really needed, restrictions on how much of a company stock an employee can hold. And also, better accounting rules and disclosure requirements. And aides say the administration certainly working on that latter point, and more recommendations will be forthcoming on that point in the future -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Kelly, I know you have been talking to a lot of people. What are they saying? How much of this is policy, and how much is politics?
WALLACE: I just talked to a senior administration official who simply bristled at the notion that this is politics. He said this is governing, this is not politics. But, Judy, we certainly know the administration has been moving quickly, making the case that the president is outraged about what happened. Trying to convey the president's concern about what happened to workers, and trying to prevent this from ever happening again.
Analysts say really the big problem for the administration is not that there is any allegation of any wrongdoing, not that maybe Enron had any undue influence with this White House, but a perception problem that Mr. Bush is too closely assigned with big business. This is a way to show that he is really concerned about the everyday worker -- Judy. WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace with the latest at the White House. Thanks.
And now a little more on Enron politics on the air waves. Republicans are expected to unveil a new ad later today in response to a Democratic spot attacking North Carolina Senate hopeful, Elizabeth Dole.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: September 11th, Elizabeth Dole promises she will put her campaign on hold. But then on September 20th, flies to a secret fund-raiser hosted by Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: That ad, from the North Carolina Democratic party, began airing across the state today. Our Jonathan Karl reports the National Republican Senatorial Committee is firing back with an ad that accuses Democrats of trying to smear Dole, and it calls for an end in negative campaigning. The Republican ad will air in major North Carolina markets, and it will match the six-figure buy for the Democratic ad, we are told, dollar for dollar.
Well, now we're joined by Paul Begala, former adviser to President Clinton, and by Charlie Black, a former campaign adviser to the first President Bush. This 401(k) reform plan, Paul, to you first, to what extent does this help the administration mitigate any damage from the Enron mess?
PAUL BEGALA, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER: It's classic locking the door once the horse has gotten out. I mean, it may be a good idea. We'll let the policy analysts take a look at it. But politically, the problem that Bush and the Republicans have with Enron is that they are seen as being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enron.
What they need to do is disclose. They need to disclose all the contacts that Enron had with the White House, with the rest of the Bush administration, with the transition and with Bush's team in Austin, when they set up the regulatory environment that allowed Enron to become Enron. So they need to put all the facts out.
They can propose forward-looking legislation, might be good, might be bad. None of this will go away until they just fess up.
WOODRUFF: Is that the case?
CHARLES BLACK, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, obviously, Paul is engaging in the same smear tactics that we're seeing in North Carolina. There is not one scintilla of evidence that this administration has done anything improper, vis-a-vis Enron. In fact, they're sort of certified as innocent, Judy, because when Ken Lay called the administration and asked for help in desperation, the administration, the cabinet secretaries said no. So there may a handful of Democrats... BEGALA: May I give you a couple of scintillas? For example, today's AP reports that the two Bush appointees to the federal energy committee, that regulates Enron, the two that Bush made came right from Ken Lay! Kenny-boy...
BLACK: That is nonsense.
BEGALA: That Ken Lay gave a list to Bush, and Bush chose off of that list.
BLACK: That is total nonsense. Bush had already appointed Pat Wood as head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission...
BEGALA: On Ken Lay's recommendation in Texas!
BLACK: That is total nonsense.
BLACK: That is not evidence. You guys are going to lose every election in '02 if you try to hang it on smears and innuendoes...
BEGALA: This is the AP and "The New York Times," which months ago reported this. Are they wrong? Because I never heard Bush say that.
BLACK: If they say that anyone in the administration was picked by Ken Lay, that's a lie and it's wrong.
BEGALA: Ken Lay recommended them.
WOODRUFF: Charlie Black, wouldn't it settle a lot of this if the Bush White House would go ahead and release the documents that the GAO is asking for?
BLACK: Listen. The GAO contest with the White House has nothing whatsoever to do with Enron. For 200 years there's been a contest, a legal contest, about how much access Congress should have to deliberations within administrations. The Supreme Court settles these issues every 20 or 30 years. This one will probably be settled by the Supreme Court.
But the president and vice president are saying it's a basic principle. We should be able to meet with people and solicit advice and information in confidence, and not have to make it public. Congressmen and senators don't have to disclose every meeting they have with everybody, and every word that's said. And the president is going to fight for this principle.
WOODRUFF: Let me switch to this announcement by the secretary of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, yesterday, Paul, redefining "child" to cover an unborn fetus in order to extend federal health care coverage to pregnant mothers. Now, why doesn't this solve the problem, at least of serving those poor women who are pregnant and who need health care?
BEGALA: I think it is a very clever ploy. Of course, the president could extend health care benefits to those women without defining their fetuses as children. But I think the Democrats not ought to fall into that trap. I think they ought to call his bluff and say, if you really want to extend more health care to poor people, bravo. We'll do this for pregnant women who are poor, but, Mr. President, you join us and extend health care to women who are not pregnant, or maybe even to men or families who laid off by Bush's his buddy, Ken Lay, in the Enron debacle. So if he's serious about moving to more health care for poor people I think Democrats should join him. But otherwise, it's just a political ploy.
BLACK: Well, it's not a political ploy. It means that low- income pregnant women are going to get more health care if the states decide to give it to them. What this does is allow the states, if they so choose, to do it. Congress never passed that. Democrats in Congress never passed it. The president is passing it. He also has other proposals to extend more health care and prescription drug benefits to more Americans, especially senior citizens, if Congress will go along with him.
WOODRUFF: Quickly to Al Gore. He announced this week that he's setting up a political action committee, he says just to help candidates who are running this year. Paul,is he going to run?
BEGALA: Yes, I think so. I'm not in close touch with him. I haven't talked to him in over a year. But my guess is he will, and he's got a right to say, "I told you so." Not just about Florida. But he said that Bush's numbers wouldn't add up in the budget, and he was right. He said Bush was going to raid that lock box that we laughed about in the media and on "Saturday Night Live." He was right. He had the Gore commission on airline security, which might have been prevented September 11th, if the Republican Congress had implemented it. So he's got a good reason to crow right now.
WOODRUFF: Is Al Gore a threat?
BLACK: Listen, Al Gore is a pretty a good candidate. He ran a close race. We Republicans can't really try to decide who the Democratic nominee is going to be. But I'll tell you this, all the polls out there, I think the voters know a lot of the stuff that Paul just said about Al Gore. But right now, all the polls would show President Bush defeating Al Gore by 30 or 35 points. So we'll let the Democrats duke it out about who their nominee is going to be, then we'll beat whoever it is.
WOODRUFF: All right, well, we're going to have to leave it there. But I have a feeling we may hear more about this a little later. Charlie Black, Paul Begala, thank you both. Good to see you. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you.
Turning to global politics, and President Bush's tough talk about an axis of evil. Coming up next, my interview with Jordan's King Abdullah, and his words of warning about the next phase in the war on terrorism.
Also, before you place your bets, we'll get the early odds on the top contenders in the 2004 presidential horse race, a little more about that.
And speaking of bets, we'll ask the mayors of Boston and St. Louis about their stakes in the Super Bowl. This is INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: On the record today, King Abdullah of Jordan. He met earlier with President Bush at the White House, and he said he endorsed Mr. Bush's policy of putting countries that support terrorism on notice. At the same time, the king says he opposes any plan to target Jordan's neighbor, Iraq, because of the repercussions for the entire region. I asked the king to expand on those statements in our interview this afternoon.
KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: My understanding from the president is what I reported this morning, was that he feels that those countries play a very fine line of where they stand. And his address was not targeting those countries, but saying to them that he does not want violence or armed conflict. But what he is saying to those countries is that, from the American point of view, they feel that those countries are not playing ball, and that he is telling them to.
WOODRUFF: But when you said it would create immense instability, do you believe that?
ABDULLAH: I believe it will, because at the moment, there is so much frustration in the Middle East, that the core issue of regional conflict has not been resolved, and that is the Israeli and Palestinian one. So that for the Arab street, for the Palestinian street to have armed conflict that is ongoing with the Palestinians, and at the same time, seeing the Iraqi people suffer because of any potential violence, I don't think the Arab street would be able to handle that.
WOODRUFF: Let me turn now to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You've already mentioned it yourself. You said yesterday that you thought the president was striking a fair balance between the two, and looking for a way out of this. You don't think the U.S. is significantly tilted toward Israel in this conflict?
ABDULLAH: There's the definite impression in the Middle East that it is a one-sided approach. That the Palestinians are always bent for everything, and the Israelis can do no wrong. That is the impression on the Arab street.
But I know where the president's heart lies. He cares about what is happening to the Palestinian people and to the Israeli people. And as we discussed today, the sadness of it is that the sometimes the leaderships forget as they get into the struggle between both sides. It's the Israelis and the Palestinians that are suffering. And where the president, I think, what it hurts him the most is he understands the suffering of the Palestinian people. And he wants to reach out and see if he can alleviate the suffering. So when I say balanced approach, I mean, in his heart the president wants to be fair. But sometimes a policy gives the impression that it's one- sided.
WOODRUFF: But if it's in his heart and it's not in the policy, what difference does it make?
ABDULLAH: Well, it's difficult for the president. I think the problem the American president has was that, from their point of view -- and I think, quite fairly to an extent, that in the previous administration, both the Israelis and Palestinians took America for granted. There was round-the-clock visits from the Israelis and the Palestinians.
And the impression with the new administration is that both the Israelis and Palestinians have got to be serious enough themselves to want peace before we can help. In other words, they have to help each other before we can help them. So the president's intentions are always good, but the Israelis and the Palestinians have to take that extra step if one of us can help them.
WOODRUFF: But you're satisfied with the U.S. approach?
ABDULLAH: I am satisfied that the president of the United States understands what needs to be done to bring a fair resolution to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The problem is setting up the mechanism to be able to achieve that. And the only way you are able to do that is that when you get more indication from the leadership on both sides, to be able to address the issues.
WOODRUFF: Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made news with the statement that he found it hard to defend America in the current environment. He said, very hard to defend America. Do you find it hard, difficult?
ABDULLAH: Well, the thing is, ma'am, when we watch television in the Middle East, you know, you see the sufferings of the Palestinian people. And again, I think there is a social-economic devastation that is happening to the Palestinians that is not viewed worldwide. We have a field hospital in Ramallah. We've had it since the start of the intifadah. We've already done 500 major operations related to intifadah injuries. We have treated over 60,000 Palestinians. This is just in one year of one field hospital that we have in the West Bank.
So those of us living in the area see the excruciating difficulty that the Palestinian people are going through. And this really does affect, and as this continues, sometimes it is very difficult for people in the Arab world to say that there is a, you know, a two-sided approach.
WOODRUFF: But the suicide attacks, the terror attacks, keep coming. ABDULLAH: They keep coming, ma'am. And I'm very concerned that we have come to a new level of violence. A young lady to be a suicide bomber has never happened before in the Arab or Muslim world. I think again, that points to the level of frustration and complete desperation that the Palestinians are facing.
WOODRUFF: But you have now the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, saying today he is coming to the United States next week, and he's going to urge President Bush to continue to isolate Yasser Arafat. He is going to say, boycott him, have nothing to do with him. Would that be the right approach?
ABDULLAH: The problem with that is you push Arafat into the camp of the extremists. You push Palestinians, normal Palestinians -- and I've got to again reiterate that the majority of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza -- the majority of Israel want out of this. They are sick and fed up of the violence.
If you isolate the leadership of the PNA, then what you're doing is taking the moderate Palestinians living in the West Bank and pushing them over the edge. So we have to be very careful how to pursue that policy.
WOODRUFF: It was reported as you were leaving Jordan that you were planning to urge the United States at least to lift the travel ban on Mr. Arafat. Did you do that?
ABDULLAH: That issue was discussed and again, I think the president takes everything very close to heart. My concern is that we have the Arab Summit coming up in March in Lebanon. We are the chair of the Arab Summit at the moment. We hand it over to the Lebanese in the next two months. The amount of negative rhetoric that you're going to get, the increase of frustration. If we're going to talk about peace and moving forward when Arafat is under arrest in Ramallah is going to be a tremendous blow to the moderate Arabs that are trying to speak reason.
WOODRUFF: Finally I want to quote something that Prime Minister Sharon had said this week. "There was an agreement in Lebanon not to eliminate Yasser Arafat. The fact of the matter is, I'm sorry we didn't eliminate him."
Now, when President Bush was asked about this morning, he avoided the question. What do you...
ABDULLAH: Well, we can't past judgments on what leaders think of each other. My only response to that is that the leaders have got to remember that whatever decisions they make, sometimes that is easily forgotten, is that it's the people that suffer. At the end of the day, the Israelis and Palestinians are in desperation. And if there is any advice that I can give to our friends in the area, it is remember that whatever decisions you make, it reflects on the livelihood and the future of peoples. And you know, we as leaders, at the end of the day, are in our positions because we have to serve the people. And it's the people of Israel and the Palestinian territories that are suffering at the moment. WOODRUFF: Your Majesty, thank you very much for joining us.
ABDULLAH: Thank you very much.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: That interview done just a couple of hours ago.
And now back here in the United States, a quick check of stories making headlines on the campaign trail.
North Carolina's Democratic Senator John Edwards has kicked off a three-day visit to New Hampshire. Edwards will make the rounds with party activists, testing presidential waters in the traditional home of the first election primary.
Down south in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush holds a strong lead over his potential Democratic opponent, Janet Reno. The Mason-Dixon poll, taken before Reno's fainting spell earlier this week, shows Bush leading Reno 58 percent to 36 percent. Reno has sizable leads over her opponents for the Democratic nomination.
Here in Washington, Senator Jesse Helms didn't use the "E" word, but he came very close. At the CPAC gathering of conservative activists yesterday, Helms, who is retiring, called Elizabeth Dole -- quote -- "the new conservative Republican senator from North Carolina."
More on that CPAC meeting -- next on INSIDE POLITICS: Are conservatives harboring any doubts about President Bush? Candy Crowley has the "Inside Buzz"
WOODRUFF: Now to the "Inside Buzz" among some conservatives.
Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has had her ear to the ground at the CPAC meeting here in Suburban Washington. Here is what Candy's been hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the place to be if you are a conservative.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the 29th year of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The place is packed with a cornucopia of conservative causes, conservative icons and a look of conservative regeneration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The buzz is really about the number of young people who are here.
CROWLEY: All this, and just across the river, a Republican in the White House. What could be wrong? Well, for one thing, airport security, not the lack of it, but the excesses of it.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I mean, no one is any safer and we know it. But everyone is delayed and defiled and demeaned. And when it doesn't work, where is it going to stop?
CROWLEY: Here's the problem. This president is the best thing to happen to conservatives since Ronald Reagan.
MIKE DEAVER, FORMER REAGAN AIDE: Conservatives have also become much more politically sophisticated through the years. They have come to believe you can't get 100 percent.
CROWLEY: Still, President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, the conservative's conservative, are the ones who pushed Congress for tighter airport security and closer surveillance of e- mail and cell phones.
(on camera): ... Bush for that or Ashcroft for that?
LAPIERRE: No, I mean, I think right now we are watching. I think everyone is watching. I don't know anything specific at this point, but the dangers are out there.
CROWLEY (voice-over): So, for now, let's not call this conservative criticism of the Bush White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that he needs to remember that the conservatives helped place him into office. And please do not give away those very freedoms that we fight for everyday.
CROWLEY: For now, let's just call it a nudge.
CROWLEY: And still, this president knows, this White House knows that when a nudge comes from the right, it is at least worth thinking about -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, it certainly is. Candy Crowley, thanks.
And now let's look ahead to the 2004 presidential race. It is never too soon. It may be a little early, but there is plenty to analyze.
Ron Faucheux of "Campaign and Elections" magazine has an online feature.
RON FAUCHEUX, "COMPANIES AND ELECTIONS": Hello.
WOODRUFF: On which he sets the odds in the political races.
First of all, Ron, let me ask you, the president is riding high in the polls right now, but how are you seeing his odds for reelection? FAUCHEUX: We have his odds up to 3-2 favorite for reelection, which means 60 percent chance that he would be reelected, which is very good for an incumbent president at this stage of the game.
WOODRUFF: Now, let's quickly go to the Democrats. We know that Al Gore -- we have talked about this -- he has a fund-raiser tomorrow. At least he is speaking at a fund-raiser, raising money for Democrats in Tennessee. What are you looking at for him?
FAUCHEUX: Well, we have him as early front-runner. We have him with about a 38 percent chance to be nominated at this point. He is clearly ahead of the rest of the field, assuming that he runs. Now, that is significantly lower than where he was four years ago at this point, when he was about a 60 percent chance to be nominated.
WOODRUFF: What happened in the meantime?
FAUCHEUX: Well, first of all, he lost the last election and he went away and left the political spotlight for a long time. And a lot of Democrats are concerned about that.
WOODRUFF: Well, he is obviously not the only Democrat whose name is out there. A number of other Democrats positioning themselves -- where do you see them?
FAUCHEUX: Well, we have several tiers. Al Gore would be in the top tier. We have Hillary Clinton in second tier. She would be considered the contingency factor. If Gore doesn't run, there will be a big vacuum. And it is possible. Even though she says she is not running and the people around her say she is not running, it might bring her into the race.
Then you've got the third tier and you have people like Joe Lieberman, Senator John Kerry, Senator John Edwards. You also have the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt. So they would be in the top tier if Gore and Hillary Clinton wouldn't run.
WOODRUFF: Any other names out there? We covered six or seven of them.
FAUCHEUX: Well, then we go now to the fourth tier.
WOODRUFF: Now we're down in the third and the fourth tiers.
FAUCHEUX: Now we're down to there and we've got the longshots. But we have people, everybody from Joe Biden to Bill Bradley to the governor of Georgia, Roy Barnes. We have Chris Dodd; possibly Gray Davis; the governor of Vermont, Howard Dean; Al Sharpton -- a large field out there.
WOODRUFF: Name a Democrat in the Senate, go on and on and on.
All right, Ron Faucheux, thanks very much. We will have you back again soon.
FAUCHEUX: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
Well, at this hour in Chicago, former President Bill Clinton is expected to endorse his former adviser Rahm Emanuel in his bid for an open seat in Congress. And this is the first time Clinton is publicly campaigning for a candidate this year.
I spoke last night with Rahm Emanuel and I asked him why, after working in the White House at the pinnacle of power, he would want to become one of 435 members of the House.
RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I love public service. And when I left the White House, the mayor asked me to serve as vice chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, taking one of the worst public housing authorities and turn it around.
And it is now a model. And many people, national people, have written about who what we did at the Chicago Housing Authority is now a model for people to revitalize public housing. And you know, since the days I was starting off after college with the Illinois Public Action Council, I love public service. And although I enjoyed the time at the White House, and as you said, the pinnacle of power, I never lost my interest in serving and being part of the political process.
And so, you know, this was an opportunity that I saw. And I have been part of Chicago my whole life. And I thought it would be a wonderful thing to do to continue my interest and continue my commitment of public service.
WOODRUFF: Well, your opponent, among other things, is portraying you as a carpet-bagger who has parachuted into the 5th Congressional District and he really doesn't know the state or the city.
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, as you know, Judy, my dad is a pediatrician who has had his practice on the north side of this district for 40 years. My uncle is an officer, a sergeant in the police force here in the city of Chicago on Pulaski in the 17th District for 23 years. And outside of college and outside of Washington, I have lived in this district my whole life.
WOODRUFF: Just quickly, on Friday, President Clinton is going to be there campaigning for you. Is he an asset still?
EMANUEL: Sure. The battles that we fought on behalf of common sense gun control laws, getting the Brady Law, the assault weapons ban and putting more police on the street and getting guns off the street, or, as we're going to announce tomorrow, the children's health care program -- one of the women I met in the campaign when I announced that was a program that gave her three children health care.
And we are going to talk about that and what I want to do. Absolutely, because the very things that I started in politics when I went door to door -- and I am going door to door now -- my life has kind of come full circle -- are the very things that people talk about that we did the at the White House: Family Medical Leave Act, the Brady Law, the children's health care initiative.
And so those things that we fought and I was honored to be part of the Clinton administration to do -- and some of those I took a key role in -- very much are an asset, because they are what people care about.
WOODRUFF: Having said that, President Bush right now enjoying sky-high popularity ratings, his State of the Union speech widely acclaimed by the American people -- how tough is it to be a Democrat right now?
EMANUEL: Well, in a Democratic primary, not tough at all. And, also, as long as you are committed to the values that we believe in and some of the policies I just talked about, I don't think it is tough at all, because people are thirsty and hungry for an agenda, whether that's focused on the economy, that's focused on health care. And that's why I'm talking about what I did on health care, what I want to do with it in the Congress.
WOODRUFF: You mentioned the economy, but the recession may be over soon. We may already be out of it.
EMANUEL: Well, Judy, I know you are very smart, but that may be talk in Washington, but out here, where I go door to door and all the train stops and computer stops I'm talking about, people are talking about their retirement. They're talking about their jobs. I was at a coffee last night in a home on the eastern part of this district and two young individuals talked about that they have lost their job. Now this young woman is now going into teaching.
But the fact is, that's very present on people's mind. I know the talk out in Washington and maybe in New York may be -- the data may say that we are not in a recession, but people's concerns are very much about their pocketbook and their kids and making ends meet.
WOODRUFF: All right, Rahm Emanuel, candidate for the 5th Congressional District in the Democratic primary, good to see you. Thank you very much.
EMANUEL: See you, Judy. Thank you.
WOODRUFF: A check of the INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle" is next, including an update on the fate of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl.
WOODRUFF: Time for a check on INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle": The fate of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl is unknown at this hour. A group claiming to be Pearl's captors sent e-mails to news organizations today stating Pearl had been killed. A separate report originating with Pakistani police said another group was demanding $2 million for Pearl's release. U.S. and Pakistani officials are working to determine if either of the two claims are true.
President Bush today named Jim Towey as the new director of his faith-based initiative program. Towey is an attorney and former humanitarian worker. He also spent 12 years as legal counsel to Mother Teresa.
Idaho has become the first state to repeal a state term-limits law. The Idaho legislature today overrode the governor's veto and threw out term limits first approved eight years ago.
Well, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy will air two ads during this weekend's Super Bowl. The agency cut a special deal for the slots to debut a new anti-drug campaign. Well, it's not unusual for Washington to pay close attention to Super Bowl ads. After all, you never know which political figures might just show up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LAYS AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Excuse me, sir. I bet you can't eat just one Wavy Lays potato chip.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: OK, son. What are we betting for?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Your seat.
Excuse me. Hello, Mr. Quayle. Care to make a bet?
DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, sure, son. What's the bet?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Can't beat these seats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DORITOS AD)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Mario, I haven't seen a change like this since I was knee high to a june bug.
MARIO CUOMO, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: Ann, I was as surprised as you were.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Well, I should have seen it coming.
CUOMO: Maybe so. But now I think we ought to accept this change, embrace it and be positive about it, because change can be very exciting.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You're probably right, Mario. I guess I'll get used to Doritos' new bag.
CUOMO: There you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Bob.
BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: How you doing? Good to see you.
Great lunch. Take a check?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Of course, Bob. Can I see some I.D., driver's license, passport, military I.D.?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PEPSI AD)
DOLE: Easy, boy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: I love that Bob Dole ad.
Well, joining me now to talk about this weekend's game are two people with an understandable disagreement about which team will win: Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, home of the Rams, of Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, home of the New England Patriots.
All right, gentlemen, you are both in your hometowns. Is either one of you going to New Orleans?
THOMAS MENINO, MAYOR OF BOSTON: I am going to be going to New Orleans, Judy.
WOODRUFF: You're both going.
MENINO: That's right.
WOODRUFF: I trust.
All right, let me start with you, Mayor Menino. Who is going to win?
MENINO: Of course the Patriots, no question about it.
WOODRUFF: How can you be so sure?
MENINO: They will win by four points.
WOODRUFF: All right, by four.
MENINO: We have gone through this -- that's right, we have gone through this whole season. The Brady bunch is together. And we are going to win on the turf once again. And I just say that we are a team of destiny.
WOODRUFF: All right, so, Mayor Slay, the Patriots by four, is that what is going to happen? FRANCIS SLAY, MAYOR OF ST. LOUIS: I don't think so, although we have a lot of respect for the Patriots in St. Louis. They have come on strong, particularly in the second half of the year. And giving them all of the benefit of the doubt, which I think we should, my prediction is the Rams will win by two touchdowns.
WOODRUFF: By two touchdowns, so by 14 points.
WOODRUFF: All right, Mayor Menino, you are just going to let that stand?
MENINO: That's ridiculous. The Patriots continue to -- they are overachievers. They're a team. We've got real football players on that team who really want to win. There's no real superstars. And look at last week. When Brady got hurt, Drew Bledsoe came in and carried the team. So we have great front-line players. And we have great backup players also. We have a team of destiny.
The Rams, they are a good team, but not up to the Patriots' quality.
WOODRUFF: Well, but what about the fact that the Rams have experience playing on artificial turf? Does that make a difference?
MENINO: Well, that might make little bit of difference, but that doesn't -- you know, you get the football stuck in your belly, you've got to run through that line. Who is going to erupt those holes? And I think the Patriots have those linemen that can open up those holes as Brady gives them the ball. And Brady can pick out his receivers very well.
And so I think we have a complete team. We don't just have one player. We have many players out there who do the job. And they are all overachievers.
WOODRUFF: So, Mayor Slay, you have just got one player, right?
SLAY: Well, we have got a lot of depth, both on the offense and the defense, with Kurt Warner as the quarterback, the best quarterback in the league. We have Marshall Faulk as a running back. We have Aeneas Williams and Orlando Pace. And we've got Grant Wistrom and Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, so a lot of depth all the way around. Our special teams are good.
We've got experience and do well on turf. And I think the important thing is that the Rams have demonstrated their ability to win the big game. And we did it two years ago. And we are going to do it again.
WOODRUFF: Let's get down to basics now and what's really important, Mayor Menino. What's on the line here? Are the two of you ready to wager what's going to happen?
MENINO: Judy, I've got a pretty good winning streak. WOODRUFF: What are you ready to put forward?
MENINO: I have a pretty good winning streak already. I won in Carolina. I won in Pittsburgh. Now I put a lobster bake on the table. I get a few lobsters, some clam chowder, some steamers, some corn on the cob. We'll also give him the pots and pans to cook it in. And we'll give him a great dinner for what their offer will be.
WOODRUFF: And how are you going to counter that, Mayor Slay? What are you ready to put up if the Rams lose?
SLAY: Well, St. Louis is home of the king of beers, Anheuser- Busch. So we are going to offer up O'Doul's, which is a nonalcoholic beverage, to Mayor Menino -- also Ted Drewes, which is a frozen custard delight here that is very popular here in the St. Louis area, some toasted raviolis from the Pasta House Company, which is a unique....
WOODRUFF: Some toasted what?
SLAY: Toasted raviolis, which is a unique St. Louis delicacy. You've got to try them. They are great. You dip them in -- they're basically fried. You dip them in tomato sauce. And we are going to sweeten the deal by adding a 5.5-pound football from Bissinger's, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary here, and some heavenly hash from Crown Candy Kitchen.
WOODRUFF: So, I'm just trying to visualize eating the fried ravioli and the O'Doul's and the lobster bake at all one time.
All right, gentlemen, can we have you back when this is over to watch you eating what the other mayor is putting forward here?
MENINO: You sure can. I never heard of toasted raviolis. And I'm Italian.
WOODRUFF: I know. That's the reason I was grilling him on that one.
SLAY: Oh, yes, you ought to try it. It's very good.
WOODRUFF: All right, Mayor Slay, who says the Rams are going to win by two touchdowns, Mayor Menino, who says, no, it's the Patriots by four, gentlemen, thanks very much. We will all be watching Sunday night.
SLAY: It's pleasure to be here.
MENINO: Thanks Judy.
WOODRUFF: You're good sports. We appreciate you're being with us. And we will have them back to watch them eat what the other guy put forward. We will work on getting that done.
Coming up next here: The wait is over. Bill Schneider joins me for the "Political Play of the Week."
WOODRUFF: Filling the "Back Page" this Friday is the much anticipated return of a staple here on INSIDE POLITICS, our favorite segment.
For more, I'm joined by our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, today's word is disingenuous. It means crafty, calculating, insincere. Critics are calling the Bush administration's new health care policy for low-income children disingenuous. We are calling it the "Political Play of the Week."
(voice-over): On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced a new policy to extend government-funded health insurance coverage to unborn low-income children. How can anyone oppose that? It is compassionate, supporters say.
LAURA ECHEVARRIA, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE: It's certainly something that I think the vast majority of Americans would say, hey, this is great. You are insuring an child.
SCHNEIDER: It may sound compassionate, critics say, but it is really conservative.
KATE MICHELMAN, NARAL: This is a policy that is designed to create a precedent for granting embryos and fetuses legal personhood, as part of the administration's long-term goal to have the government make abortions illegal.
SCHNEIDER: Secretary Thompson did seem to have abortion on his mind when he announced the policy to a thrilled audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
TOMMY THOMPSON, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: And our nation should set a great goal that unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected in law.
SCHNEIDER: What's the goal here?
THOMPSON: All we are trying to do is make sure that poor mothers are going to able to get the care necessary for their unborn child.
SCHNEIDER: The issue is: Do you insure the unborn child or mothers, who are not normally covered by this program? Critics suspect those who want to insure the unborn child have a hidden political agenda. "How can you think such a thing?" Secretary Thompson asks.
THOMPSON: All I'm telling you is, is that this is not an argument for the pro-choice or pro-life movements.
SCHNEIDER: "How can you be so disingenuous?" critics reply.
MICHELMAN: For the administration to suggest that this is not about abortion is simply -- it's simply not possible to believe.
SCHNEIDER: Secretary Thompson insists politics has nothing to do with it. But we think it does. We are calling it the "Political Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER: Secretary Thompson's move forces abortion-rights supporters to make legal complaints. It puts anti-abortion leaders on the side of compassion. Well, guess which side wins that one?
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thank you very much. Good to have "Play of the Week" back.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. Glad to be here back with it.
WOODRUFF: But we see you everyday.
WOODRUFF: OK, Bill Schneider.
When we come back: a look ahead at what's in the works on next week's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: On Monday's INSIDE POLITICS, we'll have complete coverage of former Enron Chairman's Ken Lay's testimony on Capitol Hill, and a New Hampshire field report from our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, and much more.
CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.
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