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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Election Primaries Kick Off in California; Commerce Secretary Defends Compromise on Steel Tariffs

Aired March 5, 2002 - 16:00   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 California on this primary day. I've been talking to the top Republican candidates for governor about their showdown. And I've also been talking politics with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Frank Buckley in Modesto, California, where Gary Condit's political career is on the line here today, as he battles scandal and a former aide.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. Who are the most oppressed minorities in politics? My answer may surprise you.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. Commerce Secretary Don Evans will join us to defend the president's new compromise on steel tariffs.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS WITH JUDY WOODRUFF.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. I'm coming to you today from a polling place in Culver City, California, just outside of Los Angeles. voters here are casting their ballots in the first big primary of election 2002. The outcome will obviously affect the future of politics here in California, but it could also have a bearing on national politics as well.

We'll have a little more on the key races in a moment. But first let's go to Candy Crowley, back in Washington, for some of the headlines this hour -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Judy, U.S.-led forces have been pounding al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts in eastern Afghanistan again today. U.S. officials estimate the air and ground assault will continue for another week to 10 days. But sources in the Afghan defense ministry tell CNN the country's interim government is preparing to announce that al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the area have been defeated.

The remains of the seven U.S. servicemen who died yesterday in Operation Anaconda arrived at Ramstein Air Base in Germany today, en route to the United States.

Here in Washington, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is preparing to meet with President Bush this hour to discuss the Middle East crisis. In a speech today, Mubarak made an impassioned plea for U.S. intervention between Israelis and Palestinians, in his words, "whether they like it or not."

WOODRUFF: Well, there may be something for everybody. Turning to California politics and today's primary, from the surprisingly competitive Republican race for governor, as we said on the GOP side, to the tabloid element in California Congressman Gary Condit's bid to be reelected.

After Condit cast his ballot this morning, he acknowledged the uphill battle that he faces in the Democratic primary against his former friend and aide, Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza. Later our Frank Buckley will have more on Condit and his effort to overcome the fallout from the Chandra Levy case.

In the governor's race, Republican Richard Riordan is accusing Democratic incumbent Gray Davis of hijacking today's GOP primary. Davis ads, slamming the former Los Angeles mayor, have helped Riordan's leading GOP rival, conservative businessman Bill Simon, become the unexpected front runner in that primary contest. Governor Davis, who's running for a second term, does not face any major opposition in the Democratic primary.

I spoke with both Davis and Riordan late yesterday, and also spent a little time with them on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SIMON (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: How are you? Nice to see you. Bill Simon, running for governor. Love to get your support. How you all doing? Don't let me interrupt your lunch. All right. This food looks pretty good.

Nice to see you. How are you? I'm running for governor. And I'm sorry to interrupt your meal. Did I come to the right place? Nice to see you. How are you?

Actually, for about two months now, we felt we were on the right track. What we tried to run is what I call an old-fashioned campaign. You know, make sure we have presence in every single one of our 58 counties.

WOODRUFF: But you had some pretty smart politicians who were out there betting against you, all the way from President Bush and his top political strategist, Carl Rove. They had put their money on Dick Riordan, arguing he's the only Republican who can beat Gray Davis. What does that say about their political judgment?

SIMON: I think the stories about President Bush's urging of Dick Riordan and Carl Rove's support of Dick are a little bit exaggerated, to be honest. I think the most important thing is, after the primary, the White House has told us specifically, they would work very closely with us and support us. And I would be honored to work with them. And we would welcome their support and...

WOODRUFF: When did they say that?

SIMON: Well, we've been in contact over the last number of weeks.

WOODRUFF: So, if you were to win this primary on Tuesday, and be the candidate in November for the Republican Party, are you saying that your views, for example, on issues like abortion -- you are ardently pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-gun rights -- that you're saying those would sell to the vast majority of California voters?

SIMON: Let's talk about that. I have said publicly, on many occasions, that those issues will not be a centerpiece of my agenda. And that, in traveling all around California and talking to thousands of Californians, I think I know what's on their minds.

The overwhelming majority want to talk about their pocketbook. They want to talk about their children's education, and want to talk about their daily lives, how they get to work. Do they have reliable and affordable water and power? That's really what resonates with them.

So when you say that I'm ardently pro-life, you know, I would say I believe abortion is wrong. But I respect the law. And I've said publicly I will not disturb the law. I took as oath as an assistant U.S. attorney to uphold the law. And there were a number of laws that I didn't necessarily agree with. So I will not be an activist governor in these areas that you talk about.

WOODRUFF: How do you feel about the fact that you've now been helped by this Democratic governor you'd like to unseat, by the kind of attack ads he's been running against Dick Riordan?

SIMON: Well, there's no question those attack ads have not helped Dick. But they come at a time that lots of other things are happening, too. We've been running our advertising showing Rudy Giuliani endorsing me, with myself, setting forth my own positions, with the strong pull, with the endorsements that I've received.

So much has happened, you know, within let's say a three-week time frame or a four-week time frame, you know, to me it's a little hard to isolate it. But there's no question that Davis' ads have not helped Dick. It probably hurt him.

WOODRUFF: No matter what happens on Tuesday, is Richard Riordan still your friend?

SIMON: Yes, he is still my friend. I respect him. It's has been a -- I would say, a hectic seven days or 10 days. But he is still my friend.

RICHARD RIORDAN (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Gray Davis is trying to hijack the Republican primary. As Arnold pointed out, he spent over $10 million to defeat Dick Riordan, because he knows I will beat him come November.

(APPLAUSE) RIORDAN: So, Gray Davis, we have a simple message for you: the Republican primary is not for sale!

WOODRUFF: You're aware that the polls the last few days have shown Mr. Simon moving up and you're sliding.

RIORDAN: Right.

WOODRUFF: What do you attribute that to?

RIORDAN: I attribute it to the fact that Gray Davis has spent over $10 million making me look bad, making me look like somebody who I'm not. Making me look like I'm against the death penalty, against prop 13. Whether I'm against pro-choice, and things which are absolutely not true. And then Bill Simon jumps in and makes me look bad on other scores, which are not true.

But the bottom line, that's politics. I'm used to it. But apparently some of the voters have been convinced of that. And my job the last week has been to try to unconvince them -- to tell them what the real Dick Riordan is.

Gray Davis is gloating today. He spent over $10 million to demonize Dick Riordan, and I'm behind the poll. And he's bragging to the world that he is beating me and therefore going to win in November. And most of the experts agree. Unless we get the woman back in the party, and Bill Simon says, in effect, we don't want women who are pro-choice as part of the Republican Party. We want a pro- life platform for the Republican Party.

WOODRUFF: President Bush, a lot has been written, a lot has been said about President Bush, his political strategist, Carl Rove and others close to the president, encouraging you to get into this race. What role did they have actually, in your decision?

RIORDAN: I think they had a good size role in it. Because they, like everybody else, know that I'm the only one that can beat Gray Davis. And of course, everybody is surprised at how even the race is right now.

WOODRUFF: What do you say -- I mean, there are those who are saying, well, the president -- maybe he didn't judge this right. Maybe he underestimated...

RIORDAN: Obviously, yes.

WOODRUFF: Maybe he underestimated...

RIORDAN: Yes, I think that's true, sure. I agree.

WOODRUFF: Have you talked to the president in the last few days about the race?

RIORDAN: No, I haven't. It would be very unfair for me to talk to the president. My people have talked to the other people in the White House regularly, including the last few days. WOODRUFF: Are they giving you any good advice at this point?

RIORDAN: I have found one thing in life, the buck ends with me. And all the good advice in the world is not good enough unless you take the responsibility and you make the decisions. In this case, I have made the decisions, for good or for bad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, one of Riordan's star supporters -- you just caught a glimpse of him -- is our headliner next on INSIDE POLITICS. Arnold Schwarzenegger goes "On the Record" in his first national TV interview about California politics, and his campaign for a state initiative to expand after-school programs. I'll be back with that shortly.

CROWLEY: Also ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, our Jeff Greenfield offers his take on the latest Mideast violence and the need for one side to blink.

And a very different kind of face-off. The game of Survivor. It's a political variation on the TV show in an equally hostile environment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: "On the Record" today, political star power. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. He's also one of the most visible Republicans in California. For his first national TV interview on state politics, we met at a school, to talk both about his political activism and about a state initiative he is promoting to create after-school programs statewide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: The most important thing in an after-school program is that you include the children in the decision making process. So that have you to ask the kids, what would you like to do?

For instance, there's an inner-city school in Detroit where the school principal has decided to ask the kids that question. They say, we want to do skateboarding. So, all he did was put in a skateboarding park in the school and said, you can skateboard all afternoon. And you have to give me one hour of academic work. And so he traded.

And you know, and so they give him one hour with great pleasure. They do the tutoring and all of these things, and it works. And this obviously, the kids enjoy it. You can see that. And it is positive. They're doing physical fitness. They play together, which is important for kids to do.

WOODRUFF: What is the "Terminator" doing, pushing a program for California schoolchildren to have a richer after school experience? SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I do the same job again. I terminate problems. That's the bottom line. We have a major problem here. We have millions of kids that are unsupervised in the afternoon, by a grownup or parent. And those are the kids that then cause problems, you know. They get involved in teenage pregnancy, crime, gang-related violence, drugs, alcohol, smoking and all those kinds of things, which costs the state a fortune.

And it also doesn't give kids a break at all. They will never be part, when they get into trouble, be part of the American dream, the land of opportunity. So we want to give them a comprehensive after school program in every elementary school and every middle school in California so kids have a place to go.

They can study there, do their homework, find a safe place where they can do their homework, do sports programs, cultural programs. And get smarter at the same time and physically fit, rather than getting into trouble.

WOODRUFF: Any doubt that it will pass in November, or is that up in the air?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, everything is always up in the air. You can never approach anything like this and say it's a done deal, because otherwise, why campaign for it? I think we want to make sure that, as in everything else, that every Californian knows about it.

I'm on the campaign trail, going up and down the coast, make sure that I get the information, the message out there, how important after school programs are. And we will do everything possible, raising money, campaigning, putting TV ads together and all this, to really launch a good campaign, And to make sure that it will win.

And we are very fortunate that we started this campaign in a very inclusive way. We have brought Democrats and Republicans together for this, because this is not a political issue. This is an issue that deals with children. It is a children issue, a family issue. It's an education issue.

WOODRUFF: Picking up on this initiative and your work for it, you described yourself as a -- I think, a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. Right now, running for the Republican nomination for governor is another social liberal, fiscal conservative, Dick Riordan. He's having a hard time seeking the nomination in this state, where conservative Republicans tend to dominate in a primary.

So I guess my question is, thinking ahead, do you think about that formula may not work, as you move down the road to the general election?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think, and I hope, that the Californian Republicans are smart enough when they go to vote to think about that. Because there is no two ways about it, that a conservative Republican will not win against Gray Davis, or will not win in the state of California. Because people are -- you know, there's a majority of Democrats here in California. And I think that, you know, conservative politicians have a tough time lately in California. So I think that they ought to elect someone at the primary election, someone that is in the middle of the road. So, someone that can put up a fight and really win the next race for governor.

WOODRUFF: You've given $50,000, is that right, to Dick Riordan. It's been published. You introduced him when he made his formal announcement that he was running. What has happened to his campaign, do you think?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that the key thing is to continue driving the message home, and I'm going to help him. When he arrives back here from his multi-city tour, to be sure to put a positive spin on the whole thing, and let the Californian voters know that he's the man that I stand 100 percent behind him.

And he's the only one that really can beat Gray Davis. And this is why Gray Davis, obviously, has launched this, what some newspapers say, "$10 million campaign" against him, to derail him, to interfere with the Republican primary process. And to handpick his candidate, the candidate that he wants to run against.

And I hope that the Californian Republican voters are smart enough to realize that when they step into the booth and vote, that they should not be told by Gray Davis who they should vote for. They should really vote with their conscience. And you know, as far as I'm concerned, the man is Dick Riordan, because he has shown the substance, and will show it if he is governor.

WOODRUFF: Did you mean to suggest a minute ago that if Bill Simon is the nominee, that he can't win against Gray Davis?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't want to say anything like that, because I don't want to speak against anyone in a negative way. But I just say that to me, that the right choice is Dick Riordan, because he has a chance to beat Gray Davis.

WOODRUFF: Is there something that Dick Riordan could have done differently, do you think, at this point?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I'm not a campaign manager. I have never run a campaign. So I will be the last one to say that all the smart people that are around him, that they did something wrong. But I think, you know, maybe they did not know that the governor is going to unleash this huge campaign against him, and step over the party line and go and get involved in the Republican primaries like that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Tomorrow in the second part of my interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, we'll talk about his own political future and about why he decided to become politically active in the first place.

CROWLEY: A White House compromise on steel tariffs. We will talk with Commerce Secretary Don Evans just ahead. Plus, the INSIDE POLITICS "News Cycle," including the arrival in Germany of the remains of U.S. servicemen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. We have just received some pool tape from eastern Afghanistan. It is video of some of the fighting, we are told, near Gardez. It has just come in again, back to Washington, fed to us by the CNN pool. Here in Washington, President Bush has decided to impose limited tariffs. Let's go back now to this -- this again, Operation Anaconda. Some of the fighting where U.S. servicemen were killed yesterday.

Back in Washington, President Bush has decided to impose limited tariffs on imported steel. The compromise decision is expected to anger U.S. trade allies, but does not go as far as had been sought by steelmakers and some members of Congress. Mr. Bush faced pressure from steel producers in key electoral states, as well as from free traders within the administration.

Joining us now from the White House, Commerce Secretary Don Evans. Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.

DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: You bet, Candy. Good to be with you.

CROWLEY: Let me just ask you first, I need you to square this decision to raise steel import tariffs by 30 percent for many steel imports, with the free trader we listened to during the campaign.

EVANS: Well, Candy, I guess I would say to you that once again, this president has shown all of America that he is a leader that you can trust. He is a leader who keeps his word. He is a leader that is going to continue to move the free trade agenda forward.

But he also understands that you cannot have free trade without fair trade. And this is just demonstrating his strong commitment to fair trade, to a level playing field. That's what this decision is really all about.

CROWLEY: Mr. Secretary, as you know, there are elections this year and another election in 2004, which the president will be interested in personally. There are some key steel states here: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia. We have read that the president's political advisers were in on this decision. How much of this is politics, how much of this is good business?

EVANS: No, no, this is all about what's doing right for America, and for the American people. The president realizes that free trade, open trade, is going to be a critical part of his economic growth agenda. But to open up markets around the world to American producers and American workers, you have to have a level playing field. And part of our responsibility in making sure we maintain a level playing field is administering our laws here, our trade laws, and remedies in America. And as to the steel industry, Candy, what I would say to you and the Department of Commerce, we administer anti-dumping laws. And we have about 350 anti-dumping laws that we administer. One-hundred and sixty of them are steel related. So you know, it's clear that there is a surge of steel coming into this country. And the president is going to make sure we maintain a level playing field.

CROWLEY: Let me try once again, just because we're on INSIDE POLITICS. No political element to this decision, that the steel workers, who have been pressing hard for this decision for years, the steel industry, the fact that they're in some key states in 2002 and 2004, played absolutely no part in this decision?

EVANS: Not any part in this decision. The president makes decisions based on what's in the long-term best interest for the general well-being of the American people. I mean, that's a screen he'll always run decisions through. That's what he ran this decision through. And that's why he decided that it was important to impose this 201 remedy.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about the effect this decision might have on prices here. A lot of people that are watching may not be in the steel industry, but they do own a car, a desk, a lawn mower. What happens to those prices?

EVANS: You could see a minimal rise.

I think I heard maybe $3 on refrigerator and some minimal amount possibly on a car, remembering, though, Candy, this is temporary. This is short term. This is not long term. This is only to give the industry a little breathing room here for a couple of years to restructure. I mean, they have continued to deal with an overcapacity of steel all around the world, industries and companies around the world that have been subsidized.

And so it is important that they have a little breathing space in here to restructure. And that is what the president is providing them.

CROWLEY: Let me talk real quickly about the effect of this oversees. You have already heard from the allies. Some at the EU are predicting a major trade war. What is going to happen here? Are we going to see some retaliation from some of the major steel exporters?

EVANS: Candy, I think we will be able to manage our way through this. We have been talking to our friends around the world. I know Ambassador Zoellick has today, as have I. And I have had some very constructive conversations with a number of our allies.

They understand the steps that we are taking, also understand that there are a number of countries that will be excluded from this. Our free trading partners, Canada, Mexico, Israel, Jordan, they will all be excluded from it. The developing countries will all be excluded from it. That is about 80 or so developing countries that will be excluded from it. I'm confident we will be able to manage our way through this, Candy. CROWLEY: Commerce Secretary Don Evans, thank you so much for your time on INSIDE POLITICS.

EVANS: You bet, Candy. Thank you.

CROWLEY: Give us your opinions on these topics and more at CNN.com/INSIDE POLITICS. Plus, don't forget to e-mail Bill Schneider with your ideas for this week's "Political Play of the Week."

WOODRUFF: And we will have political headlines from all around the country next in our "Campaign News Daily." And we will head to California's Central Valley, as Congressman Gary Condit faces the voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: What is normally a quiet primary in California's 18th Congressional District has drawn unusual national attention this year because of one man's decision to seek reelection. He is Congressman Gary Condit.

CNN's Frank Buckley joins us from Modesto, California -- hi, Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.

Gary Condit told us that he will be campaigning today. He told us last night he is going to fight to the very end to retain his seat. But the reality is that he is down in the polls. He has had to loan his personal money to the campaign to keep the campaign going in the final days. He is clearly the underdog as he tries to retain his seat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Gary Condit emerged from the voting booth an incumbent facing five fellow Democrats on the ballot. But the seven- term congressman says it's just another Election Day.

REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: The only thing different is the intrigue of what's happened over the last summer and the fact that you're all here. That's really the difference in the election.

BUCKLEY: Last summer, Condit was the focus of a bicoastal press corps on the Chandra Levy story. Last night it was clear, the attention that faded in the wake of 9/11 was back.

CONDIT: Everybody slow down. I don't want anybody to fall down.

(CROSSTALK)

CONDIT: We'll talk to you after the debate.

BUCKLEY: Condit appeared on a local TV farm show, then reiterated to reporters a theme of his campaign: Ignore the national media. CONDIT: We think the people of the 18th Congressional District will decide. They should make the decision on who is going to be their representative in the 18th Congressional District. And we are not going to allow the people outside the district to do that.

BUCKLEY: The message resonates with at least some voters who have voted for Gary Condit for 30 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Condit supporter. And I'll probably always be a Condit supporter.

BUCKLEY: Condit hopes such voters will drive an upset over the front-runner, State Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, a former Condit aide.

DENNIS CARDOZA (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm just charged up and ready to go to Washington as soon as we can get this November election over with.

BUCKLEY: Cardoza leads in polls and enjoys the support of the Democratic Party establishment. But Condit hopes voters will surprise.

CONDIT: You elect Gary Condit, you will rock this nation!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BUCKLEY: He would certainly surprise this nation, given the poll numbers. A direct-mail survey sent out in this region showed it as close as eight points. But Cardoza's campaign, one aide was telling me, shows that it has never been closer than 15 points, that is, Cardoza 15 points ahead of Condit.

Still another poll taken by a Democratic polling firm in this area early this year showed that the negatives against Gary Condit are somewhere near 70 percent of the people have a negative impression of Gary Condit. Those are very difficult numbers to overcome -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley in Modesto.

And despite all that, it is clearly the most closely watched congressional primary this day. Thanks again -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Judy, next on INSIDE POLITICS, we expect to have some videotape out of Eastern Afghanistan: our first close-up look at Operation Anaconda near the town of Gardez, Afghanistan, that mountainous and inhospitable area where servicemen died in a fierce battle -- coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS.

We are about to show you some video we've gotten out of Eastern Afghanistan, where a fierce battle has taken place between the Taliban, the al Qaeda forces, and U.S. forces.

I have standing by with me CNN correspondent Barbara Starr, as well as retired Air Force Major General George Harrison.

General, I'm hoping that you can sort of help us here with what we are seeing, as best you can tell.

And let me just tell our audience, this is the first any of us have seen it. So forgive us a little uncertainty.

RET. GEN. GEORGE HARRISON, AIR FORCE: All right.

The first thing that I see, obviously is an MH or a CH-47 helicopter inserting troops into the area. What we saw first was the video as the troops were approaching the area. You saw that they were ready to get out of the helicopters and assume their combat positions as they moved along.

Now, of course, we're seeing a soldier on the ground. You can see that he is well-equipped. And he is ready to fight in a mountain environment, in a very cold mountain environment, as a matter of fact.

WILLIAMS: Now, General -- or maybe Barbara is better at this.

Barbara, who shot this video? This is from the Pentagon?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Candy, we are told this is combat camera video we are looking at right here now from the Defense Department.

They are not going to tell us very much about the locations that we are seeing and the action going on because, they say, this is an ongoing operation. But we have been led to believe these are soldiers from the Army's elite 101st Airborne Division that we are seeing in some of this video. You are looking at them here now moving towards positions, looking like they are getting ready to launch their attacks, again, some of these very well dug-in Taliban and al Qaeda positions on the ground that they have been firing against for the last five days.

You can begin to see in this picture here that they are moving through rough terrain. And they are moving up hillsides, up mountainsides. The U.S. and coalition forces are moving from low ground into the higher altitudes, where some of these caves are, where the enemy forces are dug in.

This is what has been causing some of the problems. Forces dug in in caves up those mountainsides have a clearer shot at the coalition and U.S. forces than the U.S. would like to see. Airstrikes can't get rid of this all. So, these small U.S. teams of U.S. soldiers are moving very strategically through some of this territory, staying as well hidden as they can, getting as far up into enemy territory as they can before they launch their attacks.

They are moving very deliberately. And there is air cover overhead throughout all of this. We should mention that, too. They look here now like they are moving towards some of these mortar positions, some of these other positions. And they are going to attack them. Here...

CROWLEY: Let me just interrupt you here, Barbara.

General Harrison, has anything struck you looking at this? It seems to me that this looks like a perilous sort of mission. They are, are they not, at the bottom of a mountain?

HARRISON: Well, they are at the bottom of a mountain. But, as you can see, they are moving tactically. They are using the kinds of movements and the kinds of advancements that they have trained very well to do.

We saw briefly an attack helicopter that was hovering, that was getting ready to provide -- or was in position to provide support if they needed. So it looks like a well-planned, well-executed operation.

CROWLEY: And, General, one of the things I have wanted to ask, we have heard a lot about how, at the temperatures that these helicopters are flying, they are right at the edge of their capabilities. What does that mean?

HARRISON: Well, that means that they are flying in a very high- density altitude. They are very -- up around 8,000 or 12,000 feet. That means that they have to have forward movement in order stay airborne. They can't hover very effectively if they are out of ground effect or if they are above about half a rotor blade's width.

So that makes it a lot trickier operation for the helicopter pilots. That means that they have to put the troops down, get them on the ground, and then move the helicopters out, because they are very limited in their maneuverability at these altitudes.

That CH-4 or MH-47 that you see flying away right now is a very powerful helicopter. And it has the capability of reducing the fuel load and reducing the troop load sufficiently so that it can maintain an adequate degree of maneuverability. So this is clearly an operation that had to be planned a little bit out of the ordinary -- reduced troop loads, reduced fuel loads, all those kinds of things -- so that they could get a tactically sufficient amount of troops and ammunition on the ground to get the job done.

CROWLEY: Major General George Harrison, from the Air Force, retired, thank you so much, and CNN's Barbara Starr. Thanks for your insight, both of you.

HARRISON: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Back to politics: One week from today, the political spotlight shifts from California to Texas. Coming up next: the governor's race in the Lone Star State. Our Ron Brownstein will join us with the "Inside Buzz" on a primary contest that is making history. And Judy will be back, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here in California, the buzz is all centered this day on hot primary races being decided across this state today. But, one week from today, political observers will be homing in on another state: Texas, where a gubernatorial primary will be taking place.

Our Ron Brownstein has gone there to get a bit of a head start and a peek.

Ron, you join us from San Antonio. Hello.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Judy. You are out in California and I'm in Texas.

WOODRUFF: That is right.

BROWNSTEIN: We switched places.

WOODRUFF: Ron, this is a primary in Texas making history because both of the gubernatorial primary candidates on the Democratic side are Hispanic. And, in fact, race has become an issue in this contest.

BROWNSTEIN: Really an astounding conclusion, final lap to this race, in many ways, with two Hispanic candidates, Tony Sanchez, a businessman, and Dan Morales, a former attorney general, who is the breakthrough candidate, the first Hispanic elected to one of those statewide executive offices here.

It was expected to be a Democratic race that would essentially celebrate or validate the increasing importance of Hispanics in the state and particularly to the Democratic coalition. But it has taken a very strange turn here at the end, beginning with that debate. And I know you had both candidates on last week, where Dan Morales has been relentlessly attacking Tony Sanchez, accusing him of trying to divide the state by race by insisting on one debate in Spanish.

Now, Morales has some problems on making this argument, not the least of which is that he is advertising in Spanish himself, about a third of his advertising budget. But, nonetheless, he making what most observers think is a play for white Democratic votes in this primary in the final lap here by accusing Sanchez on issues like affirmative action, and especially this debate, of dividing the state by race.

The real question may be whether this becomes a problem for Sanchez in the general if he does win the nomination.

WOODRUFF: Ron, Sanchez is a wealthy businessman. How much of a factor in this contest is his money?

BROWNSTEIN: Sledgehammer and ant. Certainly it is a big factor in this primary.

Figures came out yesterday, Judy, that Sanchez has spent almost about $18.5 million, most of it of his own money. Dan Morales has spent about a half a million dollars. In addition to having all of this money to use against Morales -- by the way, in February, Sanchez spent about as much every day and a half as Morales has spent in the entire campaign.

But in addition to having all this money to use on his advertising, the fact that Sanchez has all this self-financing capacity helped explain why the party establishment rallied around him so early and so completely, which has made it tougher for Morales to raise money. Now, on the flip side, Morales has raised a series of allegations against Sanchez's business practices. And those have not had as much impact as they might, because, as we said, Morales doesn't have money to put them on TV.

You can bet the Republicans will in the fall. We will hear more about the failure of an S&L that he was involved in and some other issues. That is going to a real challenge for him if he does win the nomination next week.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, joining us from San Antonio -- thank you, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, our Bill Schneider has also been thinking about Texas politics and how it mirrors some of what is going on here in California -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, this is a story about oppressed minorities, the most oppressed minorities in American politics. I am referring, of course, to California Republicans and Texas Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): California and Texas are becoming, more and more, one-party states. Both states are electing governors this year. And that is just where beleaguered California Republicans and Texas Democrats are pinning their hopes.

"Now, let's see," California Republicans strategists said. "To beat Democratic Governor Gray Davis, we need a wealthy guy with strong support in the vote-rich Los Angeles area who can appeal to moderates and Democrats," like former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan.

RICHARD RIORDAN (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: And the main reason is, I'm the only candidate who is capable of beating Gray Davis. And he is the enemy of the state.

SCHNEIDER: Brilliant! Except for one thing: Riordan has to win the Republican primary. And he is getting his brains beat out by opponents who say: What kind of Republican is this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SIMON CAMPAIGN AD)

BILL SIMON (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Dick Riordan called Bill Clinton the greatest leader of the free world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: "Now, let's see," Texas Democratic strategists said. "To beat Republican Governor Rick Perry, we need a wealthy guy who can get the minority vote out, while, at the same time, appealing to conservatives and Republicans," like Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SANCHEZ CAMPAIGN AD)

TONY SANCHEZ (R), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: As governor, I will protect Texas values, cut waste, keep taxes down, help businesses create jobs, and bring better accountability to education.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Meanwhile, Tony Sanchez has to win a Democratic primary in Texas next week against former Attorney General Dan Morales. Sanchez was a George W. Bush pioneer who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Bush campaign.

SANCHEZ: Having supported one Republican does not make me a Republican.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: California Republicans and Texas Democrats are playing a game of survivor. To survive in a hostile environment, you have to do some pretty desperate things. And what happens if you lose? You get voted off the island -- Judy -- or Candy.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: And who would have thought these primaries in Texas and California would get so interesting here at the end?

Bill Schneider, thanks -- Candy.

CROWLEY: In a moment: a preview of tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS.

But first, let's head to Atlanta and check in with Wolf Blitzer for a preview of what's coming up next on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Thank you very much, Candy.

We are following the escalating fighting in Eastern Afghanistan. For those who of you who thought the war there was over, you were wrong. We'll have details from our correspondents on the scene and over at the Pentagon. And, switching gears, Ted Koppel breaks his silence on the future of "Nightline." We will speak to someone who says it is time for that show to go -- all that right at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A reminder of what's "In the Works" for tomorrow's edition of INSIDE POLITICS: I'll have the second half of my interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, including his thoughts on why he decided to get involved in politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I remember that, when I was in my 30s, all of the sudden I fell like, OK, I've done so much for myself. And I have spent so much time in front of the mirror and think about: How could I get stronger? How can I get more muscular? How can I get richer? How can I get to the to the movies and climb that ladder and be the highest paid entertainer and all those things?

And eventually you say, well, now let's take this power that I have over children and this power of influence and the money that I have and reach out and give something back to the country. And, basically, it's like destroying that mirror in front of you, the mirror that always makes you look at yourself and just say, OK, let me look beyond that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: So that's one reason to watch INSIDE POLITICS tomorrow. Another reason is, I'll be interviewing incumbent Governor Gray Davis and the man he'll be facing this fall, the winner of today's Republican gubernatorial primary -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Big night in California, Judy. Have fun.

I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

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



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