CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Ally Wants Explanation of 'Axis of Evil'; California Primary Approaching; Do Private School Vouchers Help?
Aired February 19, 2002 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. With the president in Asia, I will ask two veterans of the diplomacy wars if Mr. Bush is getting it right or wrong.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King with the president in Seoul, where a key U.S. ally wants an explanation of just what Mr. Bush meant when he included North Korea in the axis of evil.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Los Angeles. The Oscars aren't the only race out here. There's a California primary coming up, and things are getting interesting.
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, a CNN investigation: are vouchers to help pay for private schools paying off?
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS WITH JUDY WOODRUFF.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. It is early Wednesday in South Korea and President's Bush and Kim Dae Jung are due to meet in a little more than three hours from now. They're expected to discuss Mr. Bush's controversial declaration of an axis of evil -- three words that have proven to be especially provocative in Seoul. Our John King is travelling with the president.
KING: When the president wakes up here in Seoul he will face the most delicate diplomacy of his Asia trip, convincing a key U.S. ally that his tough talk about North Korea is not at all inconsistent with the so-called "sunshine policy" of South Korea, and President Kim Dae Jung's ultimate goal of reunifying the Korean peninsula.
The welcome here was a warm one, but that is in some ways misleading. Mr. Bush was greeted here in Seoul first by students at the American high school. In his morning meeting with President Kim Dae Jung, Mr. Bush will praise the Sunshine policy and make clear he hopes for negotiations with North Korea, aimed at getting it to curb its missile program, its missile experts, and its chemical and biological weapons systems. But Mr. Bush also will visit U.S. troops in the demilitarized zone, still separating North and South nearly 50 years after the Korean War. And in speaking with the troops, Mr. Bush will make clear his resolve to confront nations he says threatens the United States and its allies, by developing weapons of mass destruction.
To say Mr. Bush's use of the term "axis of evil" has touched a nerve here would be a dramatic understatement. There have been protests in the streets for days. And one member of the Korean Parliament, a member of the ruling party, took to the floor to call Mr. Bush -- quote -- "evil incarnate," and a scuffle ensued.
Not that there isn't some support. Some Korean War veterans, strongly anti-communist in their views, took to the streets here in advance of Mr. Bush's visit to praise the American president and his tough talk about the communist north.
Top Bush aides say the president will not back away from the principle that the United States must be prepared to confront nations like Iran, Iraq and North Korea, that he says are developing weapons of mass destruction and could strike up alliances with terrorist groups. But they also say Mr. Bush is sensitive to the criticism, and will not repeat the phrase "axis of evil" during his visit here.
But his host, the South Korean government, many believe the damage is already done. As Mr. Bush arrived here, North Korean government issued a strong statement, accusing the United States of trying to incite a second Korean war. John King, CNN, Seoul.
WOODRUFF: For more on President Bush's trip and tensions on the Korean peninsula, tune in at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a special report live from the DMZ, hosted by John King.
Our Bill Schneider is here now with more on the Koreas and international controversy -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Judy, Korea was once a controversial issue in U.S. world policy. But it hasn't been for nearly 50 years, until now. What's changed?
(voice-over): President Harry Truman committed the United States to defend South Korea.
HARRY TRUMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The threat of Soviet aggression still hangs heavy over many a country...
SCHNEIDER: But the inconclusive war became controversial, and an issue in the 1952 campaign. "I will go to Korea," Dwight Eisenhower promised, and he did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eisenhower arrives to fulfill a campaign pledge, to inspect... SCHNEIDER: Going to Korea became a Cold War ritual for American presidents. In 1991 the Soviet Union fell and South Koreans saw an opportunity for reconciliation. The United States was encouraging.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We also want to support President Kim's strategy of engagement on the Korean peninsula.
SCHNEIDER: So it was a shock when President Bush put North Korea on the "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech last month.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.
SCHNEIDER: Angry politicians complained that Bush was driving the Korean peninsula to war.
What's changed? Just this: In the Cold War, South Korea was threatened and the U.S. protected it. In the war on terrorism, the U.S. is threatened, and South Korea is being asked to make sacrifices to help protect the U.S. -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thanks.
And we'll talk more about the axis of evil and Mr. Bush's South Korea trip with former secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger and former national security adviser, Samuel Berger. That's coming up in just a few moments, "On the Record."
Now, we turn to today's action at the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices unanimously upheld the schoolroom practice of having one student grade another's work. They say the paper swapping does not violate federal privacy law.
The high court agreed to decide whether state governments may put the names of convicted sex offenders on Internet registries, even if those offenders completed their punishment long ago. This ruling could affect sex offender laws in at least 11 states.
The court also will intervene in a fight over copy rights, deciding when hundreds of thousands of books, songs and movies will be freely available on line. But the justices decided not to consider if defendants have a right to use the insanity defense, a defense very much sought -- or very much in the spotlight now because of the unrelated trial of the Texas mother who drowned her children.
We are joined now by Jan Crawford Greenburg. She covers the Supreme Court for the "Chicago Tribune." Jan, first of all, tell us about this court decision on students grading each other's papers. What's the significance of that?
JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": It will affect almost every classroom across the country, where teachers have allowed students to swap papers across the aisles and grade each other's tests or homework or other assignments. And then, of course, the teacher would stand at the front of the room and call ought the answers while the students checked off the right and wrong results and called out the grades.
We all, I think, remember that when we were in school. It's still going on today. The court today said that that practice is legal. That it does not violate a federal privacy law.
Now, a parent from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had sued to challenge the practice. She said that it embarrassed her three children, one of whom was learning disabled and was being called "dummy" by some of the students in his class. But the court didn't focus on those policy issues. Instead, it focused on the specific wording of the federal privacy law. And it said, unanimously, that under that law this practice could continue.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jan. I'm going to move quickly on now. The court has agreed to take up this public housing case, whether Congress intended absolutely for the zero-tolerance policy on drugs, to lead to people being evicted.
GREENBURG: And that's a very emotionally-charged case, and quite painful for many of the tenants who are at the center of this dispute. This case comes from California. It was argued today at 11:00. The court heard an hour-long argument on this issue.
Essentially it involves a law that encouraged local public housing authorities to evict tenants if there was drug-related activity, by themselves or by members of their household. The local public housing authorities, looking to some regulations that the Department of Housing and Urban Development had issued, said that those evictions could come, whether or not the tenant knew about this drug use or not.
Congress said this was necessary to rid the public housing projects of this terror of drugs. But what's happening is that elderly tenants -- in this case, four elderly tenants -- are being threatened with eviction, when people like their grandchildren or, in one case, a care taker, who are living with them, are caught with drugs. With drugs inside the apartment, or, the law provides, outside the apartment.
WOODRUFF: So the court is going to be deciding that.
GREENBURG: The court will issue a ruling in that case by the end of June.
WOODRUFF: Jan, finally, this important case on the death penalty, resolving these differences among states, over whether people who are mentally retarded, mentally disturbed, can be executed.
GREENBURG: Right. The court again will hear arguments in that case tomorrow, again at 11:00, after the emotionally-charged school voucher case. The second case being argued tomorrow involving whether states can execute the mentally retarded is a repeat to the court. The court, in 1989, ruled that states could execute the mentally retarded, that it did not constitute cruel and unusual, under the Eighth Amendment.
An in making that decision in 1989, it said that it must look to evolving standards of decency. So the question tomorrow for the court to consider is whether in the time since 1989 until today, those standards of decency have evolved to the point that we, as a society, consider it now cruel and unusual punishment, to execute the mentally retarded.
And it will look to state practices and state legislatures that have sense passed laws that would ban the practice, including last year, North Carolina.
WOODRUFF: Well, it's safe to say the court -- and it's been repeated many times -- the court doesn't get the easy questions.
GREENBURG: Well. that's true.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jan Greenburg Crawford -- Crawford Greenburg! I'm going to get it right one of these days.
GREENBURG: That's all right.
WOODRUFF: Jan Crawford Greenburg, thank you very much, with the "Chicago Sun Times." We appreciate it.
GREENBURG: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, the High Court will review Cleveland -- as Jan just mentioned -- Cleveland's school voucher program and whether it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. CNN's Kathy Slobogin has been investigating the Cleveland program, and she's with us now -- Kathy.
KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, you know, the Cleveland voucher program was set up to give poor students a way out of failing schools, with state-funded vouchers for private school tuition. Although it wasn't intentionally set up this way, 99 percent of the children in the Cleveland program go to religious schools. Very few nonreligious schools participate in the program, or have tuitions low enough for the $2,500 state voucher to cover.
Now, what the Supreme Court will not be considering tomorrow is whether the program works, or is wise for the schools. Those issues concern parents as much as the debate over church and state.
(voice-over): At St. Francis School in Cleveland, over half the students have their tuition paid for by the state. Very few of the children at this Catholic school are actually Catholic. But the principal here says voucher parents are looking for a moral- dimensioned education they don't find in public schools.
SISTER KAREN, PRINCIPAL, ST. FRANCIS SCHOOL: They're very happy with the moral values that we're trying to teach the children here. They're trying to teach their children some values at hope.
SLOBOGIN: But do voucher children actually do any better in private school? Evaluators who compare their academic performance to that of public school students have found virtually no difference.
ROBERT BERNETICH, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: Here's what I want you to do.
SLOBOGIN: This 22-year teaching veteran says voucher parents are fooled by a perception that private schools do a better job. In fact, he says, vouchers simply drain money from public schools that are already struggling.
BERNETICH: In my 22 years of teaching, it has always been a struggle to make the budget meet. Every year is a battle and every year is a struggle. Any dollar that's taken away from public school is a fight in the other direction.
SLOBOGIN: Now, a surprising fact which has recently come out about the Cleveland voucher program: only 20 percent of the voucher children ever attended public school in Cleveland in the first place. A third of them were already enrolled in private schools when they received the vouchers.
Vouchers are a controversial reform, but whatever the concerns of parents and educators, it's the church-state issue before the Supreme Court tomorrow that will determine whether the voucher movement has a future --Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kathy Slobogin, thanks very much.
Well, here in Washington, where the showdowns are more often political, the stage may be set for a real and controversial fight. The D.C. boxing and wrestling commission today unanimously granted Mike Tyson a license for a possible bout with Lennox Lewis at the MCI Center in June.
After a news conference with Lewis turned into a melee last month, Nevada officials denied Tyson a license to fight. Since then, Tyson supporters have been searching for possible venues for the bout. Washington Mayor Anthony Williams has said he would not object to Tyson fighting in the District, if the commission gave its approval, citing the economic boost it would give the city.
Tavis Smiley and Betsy Hart will take issue with the Tyson controversy and a little bit more, later on INSIDE POLITICS. Also ahead, Ron Brownstein will be along with the "Inside Buzz" on the public's investment in the Enron scandal.
Congressman Steve Largent talks to me about his farewell to the House, and his bid to be governor of Oklahoma.
And next, is President Bush ratcheting up tensions in the Koreas? Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger will go "On the Record." This is INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Joining us now "On the Record," from Charlottesville, Virginia, former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. And here in Washington, former national security adviser, Samuel Berger.
Sandy Berger, to you first. We're told today that President Bush will not repeat the term "axis of evil" while he is in -- at least at the DMZ, perhaps for the remainder of the trip. Is that smart, or is the damage already done, as one commentator has already said?
SAMUEL BERGER, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think the president is absolutely right in drawing our attention to the nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. That's what he was trying to do. I think the problem, always with the phrase as rhetorically hot as "axis of evil," is that it absorbs the attention away from the underlying problem, and on our own rhetoric. And I think probably just as well to get to the policy and put the rhetoric a bit aside.
WOODRUFF: Secretary Eagleburger, does it matter whether the term is used again or not, axis of evil?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: No, I don't think it matters at all. I must say I don't think it mattered in the first place. I think too much has been made of the thing, just as too much was made of President Reagan's "evil empire." The fact of the matter was, it was an evil empire. The fact of the matter is, that probably in these three countries that he's named, there is an axis that needs to be examined.
WOODRUFF: Well, Sandy Berger, just in looking at North Korea, has the president's use of this term made it easier for South and North Korea to begin to work out their differences, to being to have an engagement, or does it make it harder for that to happen?
BERGER: Well, I think, to some degree harder. It is always important that we stand side by side with South Korea, with respect to our policy towards North Korea. And the unity that we have is part of our strength. That policy has to include deterrence, as it has for the last 50 years. Our 37,000 troops in South Korea provide that.
But, there can be a policy of carrots and sticks. Engagement is not inconsistent with strong deterrence, and we've actually made progress with the North Koreans over the last decade, through negotiations.
WOODRUFF: Larry Eagleburger, would you agree that it's made it somewhat harder for North and South Korea to engage the president's use of this term?
EAGLEBURGER: Yes. I would admit it's made it somewhat harder. But I need to qualify that by saying, I think to imagine that North and South Korea can ever become more than dangerous enemies is going -- is imagining a great deal. So, having said that, yes, I think the president's remark may have made that more difficult.
But, this is an example of where the war against terrorism, now, if you will, and the old way of doing diplomacy have some -- they're going to have to depart on occasion. And it seems to me in this case, that the president was making it very clear, as indeed, Sandy Berger has just said, that there is a nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction that needs to be identified, and the countries involved need to be identified.
WOODRUFF: Well, Sandy Berger, are the signals coming from the Bush administration clear? Because on the one hand you have Secretary Powell here on CNN "LATE EDITION" Sunday, saying there is no question, the nature of this regime is evil. It is evil. Not the people, but the regime itself.
And then he said on NBC's "Meet the Press," he said, well, America has said clearly we want to speak with North Korea. We're willing to meet with them anytime, anyplace, without any preconditions. Is this a clear policy?
BERGER: I think, again, this is an example of what happens when you don't follow President Bush's admonition in another context, to say less and do more. The fact is there have been mixed signals. We have to have a strong policy of deterrence with South Korea. But we have in fact negotiated an agreement in 1994 that has been under international supervision, that has frozen their nuclear fuel cycle. We did reach an agreement in '98, which they've complied with, to stop their missile tests.
And there was on the table, at the end of the Clinton administration, another proposition from the North Koreans, essentially to substantially dismantle their missile program -- one that we didn't think we had time to pursue adequately. But I think should be pursued now by the Bush administration. I wish it had been earlier.
WOODRUFF: So, Larry Eagleburger, is this a deliberate ambiguity, or is this a mistake on the administration's part, to be sending different signals?
EAGLEBURGER: Can you name for me an administration that on one occasion or not, another has not been accused of being inconsistent in its signals? To me, we're searching for things here in this whole issue that probably don't exist, in the sense that I think -- President Bush identified three countries that he feels are very much involved in the terrorism/nuclear question. And he identified those clearly.
At the same time, Secretary Powell has to deal with the diplomacy of the time. He has said we will continue to discuss with the North, and so forth. To me, they're not inconsistent. You do have to do both. You have to warn them on the one hand. You have to identify them on the one hand. And you have to try to do business with them on the other.
WOODRUFF: Sandy Berger, nothing inconsistent here then? BERGER: No, I do think there is a kind of flapping around here a bit. The fact is that President Bush has said that in order to negotiate, the North Koreans have to pull back from the DMZ and stop their missile sales. Secretary Bush (sic) has said, we'll negotiate without preconditions. I think those statements, hopefully, will be clarified when the president is...
WOODRUFF: I'm sorry. Who said negotiate...
BERGER: Secretary Powell, I'm sorry -- said that we'll have to -- no preconditions for negotiations. And I hope that gets clarified while the two are there. Again, we have had a policy of defending South Korea and deterrence, steadfastly bipartisan policy for 50 years. We have to adhere to that policy very firmly. We did through Republican and Democratic administrations.
But we have to also test whether or not, while we are very firm in that policy of deterrence, we can achieve something through negotiations. And I think it's unclear now what the conditions are, or nonconditions are, for such engagement.
WOODRUFF: Well, quickly to both of you, finally, Larry Eagleburger, realistically, what should we expect to come out of this Bush visit to Korea?
EAGLEBURGER: I think what you'll find is that we will announce that we're good friends. That the United States supports the South Korean efforts to better relations with the North. And we will probably also get something along the lines of, at the same time that we are in favor of this improvement in relations, we need to warn everybody that North Korea's participation in some things that we haven't liked in the past also has to be corrected.
WOODRUFF: You say supports better relations with the North. At the same time, you both are saying that this statement makes that more difficult. Sandy Berger, or Larry?
EAGLEBURGER: I don't think it makes -- look, it may make it marginally more difficult. I'm inclined to believe that this is very much a mountain out of a molehill, and we will find two, three weeks from now, that the Korean issue that is now being discussed will have gone away.
WOODRUFF: Sandy Berger?
BERGER: I think it's extremely important that we stand side by side with South Korea. That has been the basis of the deterrence policy for 50 years. Right now we're not on the same page. And I hope that tomorrow and the next few days we can become more aligned once again, because that's part of the strength we bring to deterrence.
WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we appreciate both of you joining us. Sandy Berger, former national security adviser to President Clinton. Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state under President Bush. Thank you both. We appreciate it. Coming up, a dog mauling trial in California opens with some graphic comments. We'll have the latest.
Plus, some of the day's other top stories when we return.
Byline: Tavis Smiley, Candy Crowley, Ron Brownstein, Jeff Greenfield Guest: Betsy Hart,
WOODRUFF: Checking the stories now in today's INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle": Police in Georgia are searching the home and property of a crematory operator. They have found at least one body behind the man's house. At least 139 bodies have been found at the crematory.
After graphic opening statements, the trial of a San Francisco couple in the dog-mauling death of a neighbor is under way. Marjorie Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, owned the dogs that killed Diane Whipple. They have pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
President Bush is on the second leg of his swing through Eastern Asia. He is now in South Korea. Officials there are concerned about Mr. Bush's comments on North Korea, which he has called part of an axis of evil.
Joining us now: Tavis Smiley, who is the host of NPR's "The Tavis Smiley Show" and a CNN contributor. He is in Los Angeles. And here in Washington: Betsy Hart with the Scripps Howard News Service.
Good to see both of you.
BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Hi, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Thank you.
I want to begin first with the axis of evil. We just heard both Sandy Berger and Larry Eagleburger, come from two different political parties, but both of them said that they think the president's including North Korea in the axis of evil has made it harder, not easier, for North and South Korea to engage.
Tavis Smiley, where do you come down on this?
TAVIS SMILEY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think both of them are right.
I think it has, in fact, made it more difficult for us to engage these two countries in trying to live peaceably somewhere down the road, which is not easy to begin with. I think, though -- I think it was Sandy Berger who made the point that we've got to tone down the rhetoric here.
This is not unlike, for me, Judy, the president getting out front when we were talking about Osama bin Laden, saying that he wanted him dead or alive. And we are going to hunt him down and smoke him out. And to this day, we still don't know where bin Laden is. And so, apparently, the president hasn't learned yet that you've got to tone down the rhetoric.
I'm bothered by the fact that, beyond just this North Korea-South Korea conflict, when it comes to rhetoric, I don't think that, even after the September the 11th, we are put any real focus, any real attention, not having any real conversation about how we can best engage the world, about how we become better neighbors in the world.
HART: Let's remember one of the ways we do that is by strong rhetoric. And we can have sort of a good cop/bad cop routine at the same time.
But let's remember that words have meaning, like, as in, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." That was pretty strong rhetoric. And guess what? That was part of an overall plan of ending the Cold War. Remember when Mr. Reagan called the Soviet empire what it was? An evil empire. That sent a message that we meant business. And I think that is what President Bush is doing here, and wisely.
SMILEY: I think words do in fact have meaning. And I don't want to belabor the point.
SMILEY: I'm sorry, Judy. Go ahead.
WOODRUFF: Yes, I just want to quickly -- because our time is limited, unfortunately -- I want to quickly move to a story here in Washington. And that is the City Boxing Commission today giving a green light to the idea of a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight in the nation's capital.
Is this something that D.C. should do, Tavis?
HART: Well, Judy...
WOODRUFF: Or, go ahead. Betsy, you go first.
HART: I actually think we should think about combining the sports of figure skating and boxing, considering they are both sort of corrupt and political and now, apparently, of violence as well.
Actually, I think we are getting a little bit overwrought. Boxing is, by its nature, a very violent sport. We don't cull boxers from charm schools. They are, almost by definition, violent men. We have seen people with prison records, like Sonny Liston, a heavyweight champion, go on to fight again. This isn't exactly news. I don't think we need to be overly sensitive about it.
SMILEY: I think it is news. I think it is news. And you talk about politics and violence and corruption, Betsy. Certainly, with regard to politics and corruption, you can find that on Capitol Hill as well as you can find it anywhere else.
SMILEY: I digress on that point.
The point I'm trying to make is that boxing is a sport that will take advantage of any situation. It is clear to anyone that has any amount of sense that Mike Tyson has issues. And, unfortunately, Judy, there are too many cities in this country that would still entertain the fight between Lewis and Tyson, never mind the fact that everybody agrees that Mike Tyson has issues. The man needs help, but nobody in the boxing world cares about Mike Tyson getting help.
HART: Right. That is what boxing is. Let's call it what it is. And if you are going to have the sport, then let's be realistic about the kinds of men you have engaging in it.
WOODRUFF: And we should mention that this is D.C. giving it a green light at the same time, what Las Vegas, Texas, and Georgia, the states of Texas and Georgia, have all said no way.
SMILEY: And Los Angeles, where I live, is still on the list. So there's a still possibility that L.A. might give him a license to fight here out on the West Coast.
But, again, Mike Tyson has issues. And it is unfortunate, for me, at least, to sit and watch this young man self-destruct and that nobody in this entire genre of sport cares about Mike Tyson.
HART: Well, let's also remember that D.C. has its own problems with corruption. And whereas Mike Tyson has been called a sexual predator, we have had a few of those in D.C., too, recently, I'm afraid. So, unfortunately, in some ways, it does fit.
WOODRUFF: Well, Betsy Hart, Tavis Smiley, we heard you both. We hope to hear you again. Thanks very much.
HART: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Good to see you. Thank you.
Coming up: In the California governor's race, a former governor steps into the battle for the Republican nomination. CNN's Candy Crowley will give us the "Inside Buzz."
WOODRUFF: The California governor's race on the Republican side is getting hotter. And a new attack ad featuring a former governor is adding fuel to the fire.
We get the "Inside Buzz" now from CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy, from California, just a postcard of sorts to fill you in on the latest buzz in Republican circles.
As you know, there is a primary coming up in two weeks to decide which Republican will run against sitting Governor Gray Davis this fall. Now, there is also a poll coming up this week. And most people here believe that it will show a changing dynamic in this primary, that, while Richard Riordan, the ex-L.A. mayor, may still be running first, there will be a strong showing by Bill Simon.
Simon is a political neophyte, but a favorite here among conservatives. Now, Riordan's people say, look, this is all about the fact that Simon has been out there, that his name recognition has gone up because of commercials, and also because Riordan, as the front- runner, has been taking quite a pounding, first from Gray Davis, who is already running as though Riordan will be his opponent, and now from the man who consistently places third in this race, the California secretary of state, Bill Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JONES CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dick Riordan is a liberal, big city mayor who has given millions of dollars to Democrats. Riordan even gave thousands to Gray Davis and Willie Brown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Up to now, Riordan has pretty much aimed his fire at Gray Davis, but you can bet that, if this poll does show Simon closing in, Riordan will refocus his attention to his Republican primary opponent.
Now, there is a lot of hope in the Simon camp, I can tell you, that he can actually pull this off in two weeks. But so many people I have talked to said Riordan has been so far ahead, it is difficult to believe that he is in a freefall that would in fact result in his loss in two weeks from now.
We are going to be here for the rest of the week, Judy, so we'll let you know what else we pick up.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley out there in California with us, reporting on that primary which is slated for March the 5th.
On Wall Street today, the stock market posted a triple-digit loss. Analysts blame Enronitis, among other things: the fear that accounting abuses may be widespread. In political terms, the fallout from Enron may go even deeper.
CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" has been looking at all this -- Ron. RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, one reason the Enron scandal has touched such a chord may be that more Americans than ever before can directly relate to the plight of Enron employees decimated by the collapse of the company's stock.
(voice-over): When the stock market crashed in 1929, less than 2 percent of Americans owned stock. By 1987, when the market crashed again, one in three Americans were investors.
Today, half of all American households have money in the markets, much of it in 401(k) retirement plans, like the one the Enron employees depended on. With the Enron firestorm, this massive move into the market is beginning to have political consequences, though not necessarily those that most people expected. For years, many conservative strategists have hoped that, as more workers owned shares in business, they would demand the low-tax, low-regulation, small- government policies that business generally favors.
But the Enron furor suggests rise of the new investor class is actually increasing the demand for government action to safeguard investments and protect pensions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I had all my savings, everything in Enron stock. I lost $1.3 million.
BROWNSTEIN: For years, proposals to toughen government oversight of the securities industries have generally gone nowhere. But Enron could change that dynamic. The scandal has made clear to Congress that today it's not just the wealthy, but millions of ordinary families who have a stake in cleaning up the markets.
BROWNSTEIN: What's changed? As one legislator put it, it's one thing when the sharks are eating other sharks. It is another when the sharks are eating the minnows.
WOODRUFF: So, Ron, how are the two political parties going after investors as a group, as a class?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, the important thing is, first of all, the commonality. They both generally support this trend of more Americans moving into the market and want to see it accelerate over time. But once you get past that, they divide along a familiar point.
Republicans are emphasizing opportunity, more ways for Americans to move into the market. The centerpiece is the idea of partially privatizing Social Security so people can divert part of their payroll tax into funds they could invest in the market. Democrats are talking more about security, new kinds of investor protections that would parallel consumer protection in terms of pension reform, accounting reform, and perhaps new accountability for corporate directors or executives accused of misconduct.
So, although both agree that they want to move in this direction, they move, once they get past that, in very familiar distinction.
WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We'll see you again soon.
And now checking the headlines from the campaign trail: Senator John Edwards is raising political cash tonight on Al Gore's home turf: Nashville. It's another out-of-state swing for the North Carolina Democrat as he mulls a run for the White House in 2004.
President Bush plans to visit the lead-off presidential caucus state next month. According to invitations sent out yesterday, Mr. Bush will return to Iowa on March 1 to attend a fund-raiser for Congressman Tom Latham.
And the independent counsel, wrapping up his investigation of the Clintons, reportedly may run for the Senate in New Jersey. "USA Today" reports that Robert Ray is considering a bid for the GOP nomination to oppose the incumbent Democrat, Robert Torricelli.
Coming up: Control of the U.S. Senate after the upcoming elections could lie in the hands of a relative handful of voters. Our Jeff Greenfield takes a look when we come back.
WOODRUFF: Well, as all of us know, one person, one vote is a basic tenet of American politics. But that rule doesn't really apply when it come to representation in the U.S. Senate.
Our Jeff Greenfield has been looking into that.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: It's obviously one of the most undemocratic parts of the whole Constitution. And we never would have had a Constitution without it. Each state, no matter how big or small, gets two U.S. senators.
Alaska, with some 600,000 people, has the same clout in the Senate as California, with 33 million, more than 50 times Alaska's. Now, this November, that imbalance will be particularly striking. With the Senate so evenly divided, it happens that two of the most competitive races are in two of the least populous states. And that means control of the whole Senate could lie with a relative handful of voters.
(voice-over): By most accounts, the most vulnerable Republican incumbent is New Hampshire's Bob Smith.
SEN. BOB SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I will run as a Republican...
GREENFIELD: In fact, he faces a tough primary challenge from Congressman John Sununu. If Smith survives, he will face Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen in November.
Six years ago, Smith won reelection by fewer than 15,000 votes. It was so close that network exit polls called the race for Smith's Democratic opponent. It was the worst miscall ever...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Florida goes for Al Gore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: Until, of course, Florida came along 15 months ago.
In other words, if about 8,000 New Hampshire voters change their minds, about as many folks as fill a typical Los Angeles shopping mall, that Senate seat shifts to the Democrats.
By most accounts, the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent is South Dakota's Tim Johnson. He'll be facing Congressman Thune, who runs at large because the state has only one congressman. Six years ago, Johnson won his Senate seat by fewer than 9,000 votes. In other words, if about 4,500 South Dakota voters change their minds, about as many as live in a mid-sized Manhattan apartment complex, that Senate seat shifts to the Republicans.
GREENFIELD: Now, as it happens, California and New York have nothing to say about the Senate this year. None of their senators are up. But here is the more striking fact. Either one of these seats can determine control of the Senate. And that in turn can shape everything from the fate of tax bills to treaties to the fate of Supreme Court nominees.
And not only did the founding fathers want it this way, there is nothing anyone can do about it, even if we wanted to. The only part of the Constitution that is unamendable is the part that says every state has the same clout in the U.S. Senate.
So don't go circulating any petitions, Judy.
WOODRUFF: I'm already thinking, Jeff, about an entire Manhattan high-rise moving to South Dakota. But we will talk about that next time.
GREENFIELD: An interesting concept.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Jeff. We will talk to you later.
Well, from the NFL to Congress to the statehouse? Up next, an exit interview with retiring Congressman Steve Largent.
WOODRUFF: Congress is on recess right now, but when the House returns, one familiar face will be staying home. Oklahoma Republican Congressman Steve Largent retired last week to head home for good to run for governor.
I caught up with the former NFL star as he packed up his office to talk to him about his role in the Gingrich revolution and his plans for the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States?
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Largent came to Congress as part of the Republican revolution of 1994, a pro football Hall of Famer eager to make his mark in a new arena. Seven years later, he is leaving to run for governor in Oklahoma -- one of his very last votes against the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill.
(on camera): What sense does this leave you with as you depart Washington?
REP. STEVE LARGENT (R), OKLAHOMA: A sense of exhaustion.
LARGENT: Actually, I was thinking about this last night -- or two nights ago, when we voted on campaign finance reform until 3:00 in the morning, that my last day in Congress was like the first 100, when we had the Contract with America. So I think it was a fitting closure to my congressional career.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Largent is proud of his role in the Gingrich revolution, defending even the decision to shut down the government, a gorilla tactic he says was necessary to send a message that government was too big and costs too much. But his views about Washington have softened.
LARGENT: I came here, quite honestly, as a cynic railing against big government. And I can tell you that I leave -- you know, that I'm still a conservative and still believe taxes are too high and government is too big. But, at the same time, I have come to an incredibly deep appreciation and respect for our founding fathers, the work that they did, the Constitution that they handed to us.
I no longer beat up on government or on Congress, because I have been part of it for the last seven years. And I see how even people that have divergent views from my own, how they have -- their motives are pure. And I don't question those. They may have a different way that they want to see our country progress and prosper than I do, but they are working hard in the best interests of our country. And they have my utmost admiration.
WOODRUFF: His office packed up, Largent is headed home to campaign for governor. The economy is likely to be the dominant issue. At this stage, Largent is the clear favorite to win the GOP nomination. And he out-polls potential Democratic rivals by wide margins. In his own district, he has never won less than 62 percent of the vote.
LARGENT: When you run for governor, one of the things that I have discovered is that it is a very personal, much more personal decision that people make. When they vote for you to run for Congress, they are sending you away. "Go fight our battles for us. Represent our views and values in Washington, D.C."
But when they are voting for you for governor, I have found it is more like, "Is this the type of person I would like to invite over for dinner?" You know, it's really -- it's a personal thing. You represent them.
WOODRUFF (on camera): Because you are going to be out there every day.
LARGENT: You are the state. You represent them every day. And it is a big deal.
WOODRUFF: Steve Largent resigning from Congress to run for governor of Oklahoma.
And now we have the scoop on a surprising source of conflict between Republicans in the House and the Senate: "The Lord of the Rings." Our Jonathan Karl and Dana Bash have learned that House members stormed out of a showing of the movie during last month's Republican congressional retreat. That is because senators started watching the film before House members had finished their meetings. And then they refused to start the movie from the beginning when the representatives did show up.
Apparently, adding insult to injury, Senator Rick Santorum tried to defuse the tensions the next day by saying -- quote -- "We want our House colleagues to know that we have inspected the theater for anthrax. And it is safe to return." But joking about anthrax is touchy among members of Congress. And Santorum's remarks prompted boos from GOP House members. Hmm...
In Virginia: a new chance to put your money where your mouth is. That's next on INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: It is one thing to say you support higher taxes, but how many who hold that belief would voluntarily fork over more money to the government? The state of Virginia may soon find out. A bill making its way through the state legislature would allow Virginians to pay as much in additional taxes as they want. "The Washington Times" reports that this could add $50,000 a year to the state treasury. Well, what do taxpayers get for their generosity? Their names could be posted on the Department of Taxation's Web site. Let's see how many sign up. Hmm...
CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com