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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Israel Shows no Signs of Scaling Back; U.S. Envoy Meets Palestinian Leader

Aired April 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 Washington. Israel shows no signs of scaling back its West Bank offensive, as a U.S. envoy meets face to face with Yasser Arafat.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. The two Presidents Bush and their Mideast policies -- the similarities, the differences, on the issue that never goes away.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. The Mideast crisis forced the president to act. And his response determined the winner of the political play of the week.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Jackie Kennedy and classic style. I'll talk with Letitia Baldridge about a new exhibit honoring the former first lady.

Thank you for joining us. Israeli tanks rolled deeper into the West Bank today and military helicopters opened fire on Palestinian targets. Even as the week-old operation moved forward, there was new U.S. involvement in efforts to end the violence.

U.S. mediator, Anthony Zinni, met for about an hour with Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Arafat agreed to form a committee of top aides to work with Zinni on achieving a cease-fire. Meantime, Israeli defense forces announced that the man they say was the mastermind of the Passover suicide bombing was among six people killed in a helicopter strike. The suicide bombing killed 26 people in the city of Netanya, and sparked the current military offensive.

New anti-Israeli and anti-American protests erupted in several countries, including Turkey, Bahrain and Syria. In Turkey almost 4,000 people gathered outside a mosque to show support for the Palestinians.

The three-man committee that Yasser Arafat named to work with Anthony Zinni has so far been unable to meet. Palestinian sources say Israel has blocked the meeting and will not allow the three Palestinians to travel. For more now on Zinni's meeting with Yasser Arafat, and the tense atmosphere inside Ramallah, here is CNN's Michael Holmes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anthony Zinni visited Yasser Arafat around midday, the meeting lasting an hour. Some tentative steps taken, but the situation on the ground unchanged. Palestinian sources saying...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We're interrupting this story to take to you the State Department, where Secretary of State Colin Powell has been meeting with the Jordanian foreign minister, Marwan Muasher.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Wait for the siren.

REPORTERS (singing): Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Mr. Secretary, happy birthday to you!

POWELL: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Today is Colin Powell's birthday today and the press corps is serenading him.

POWELL: Beg pardon?

QUESTION: The first question, big plans for your birthday?

POWELL: Family plans, quietly. I'd like to welcome once again my colleague, the foreign minister of Jordan, Minister Muasher. We've had a good conversation for the past 30 minutes reviewing the situation in the region. And this is the first occasion I've have to express to him my thanks and admiration for the role that King Abdullah and the Jordanian government played in the Arab Summit last week,which produced what I think is an historic document.

It was introduced by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. But the significant thing is it now reflects the view of the entire Arab League. Twenty-two nations have expressed their willingness to make peace with Israel in a collective way, and to, in due course, have normal relations with Israel.

There is still, of course, many difficult issues that would have to be solved before such a vision would become a reality. But the vision is there. And reality begins with a vision. We hope, both of our nations, that the current violence we are witnessing, the tragic situation we see in the region on our television sets everyday now, will soon be brought to an end.

The U.N. has spoken clearly on this a number of occasions. And I think President Bush spoke rather directly and clearly to it yesterday in his speech. I want to express my admiration for King Abdullah's hard work to achieving peace. His hard work, and doing everything possible to solve the current crisis in which we find ourselves.

And I hope that we will be finding a way out of this crisis in the very near future. And I look toward my trip to the region. I will be departing on Sunday. And the exact details of my trip and my itinerary will be known in due course. Thank you very much. My colleague.

MARWAN MUASHER, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you, sir. I had a very productive meeting with Secretary Powell. I'm glad he could receive me on his birthday also. We had an extremely productive meeting, and we supported and welcomed the president's statement yesterday, signalling not just Secretary Powell's upcoming visit to the region, but hopefully the beginning of a process, a political process, that would lead us out of this present situation we find ourselves in.

And I talked to the secretary about the need to link this security aspect of the problem to a political process. And I think that we both agree on the need to do that. As you know, we are going through a very difficult period in the Middle East. We all want the situation to subside. And we all are looking for ways to de-escalate the crisis and put back the peace process on track.

In the Arab summit last week, we feel we have been able to come up with a historic document that promised a collective end to the conflict, that promised a collective peace treaty between the Arab states and Israel, that promised security guarantees and an agreed solution to the refugee problem. And in that, I think that we came up with something that addressed the needs of all peoples of the region, Arabs and Israelis alike.

It is an initiative that is serious and that is one that we intend to push through, even though the present difficulties might overshadowed it for the time being. I'm very heartened and very hopeful, and very grateful by the United States stand, and by the United States commitment to the process. The United States has done a lot in the past and we look forward to working with it, hand in hand, in order to get ourselves out of this present situation, and hopefully move to end the occupation and establish peace and security for all.

POWELL: If I just might add one word to what the minister said. Just to reinforce his point that Tenet and Mitchell are all for one purpose, and that is for getting to negotiations. Getting to a process that will lead to a settlement. The political dimension is key, and we have to bring it as far forward and as early into the process as possible. And I think the president, in his speech yesterday, once again made a firm commitment to that political process, under the terms of the various U.N. resolutions, 242, 338 and 1397. Question.

QUESTION: ... during the time between your leaving and arriving in Israel, that Prime Minister Sharon may indeed use the opportunity to escalate operations against the Palestinians, with the possible attack into southern Lebanon?

POWELL: I think that president's statement yesterday was rather clear, and the interpretation is further reinforced by the u.n. resolution last night. The president's expectation is that the incursions will stop and the withdrawal process will begin as soon as possible, or without delay, whichever formulation you choose. And it is not related to my trip. As soon as possible, without day, and that is the president's expectation.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Ari Fleischer is saying in Texas that you have no plans to meet with Arafat. I don't think he elaborated on that. Is there a problem getting to Arafat? Can you explain...

POWELL: General Zinni met with Chairman Arafat today. And so obviously we can get to Chairman Arafat. It's just that my itinerary is still being worked at by my staff, and the places that I'm going to visit. And so I think what Ari meant to say, and he said it yesterday as well, no plans at this time, simply because there are no plans at this time. Not that there won't be plans in due course.

I plan to meet with as many leaders as I can in the region, reflecting all and representing all the points of view in the parties in the region.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, why are you withholding criticism from the Israelis? Because far from withdrawing, they have moved into a new Palestinian town today. And also, for Foreign Minister Muasher, sir, what is your reaction to the -- at least, the lack of an explicit commitment to meet with Chairman Arafat during Secretary Powell's trip?

POWELL: Well, I think that the president's statement of yesterday was rather clear. That he is asking Israel -- and the U.N. put this in the form of another resolution last night -- to cease operations and to begin the process of withdraw. This is the president's expectation, that this will happen as soon as possible. And we will see what happens in the days ahead.

MUASHER: I think we all agree on what the next steps should be, to stop the incursion into Palestinian cities. And as the president said, to start the withdrawal process and get back the peace process on track. And we are all working, hand in hand with the United States, and with all other countries that are involved in the process, in order to make that happen.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary...

WOODRUFF: Secretary of State Colin Powell has been meeting at the State Department with the foreign minister of Jordan, Marwan Muasher. Among other things, they talked about the importance of moving up the political process, to be working at the same time as the efforts to find security in that region.

Joining me now, former United States Senator George Mitchell, who worked hard over a year ago to put together the Mitchell Plan, as it's now referred. A peace proposal that both parties have agreed to, in large part, Senator Mitchell, but not agreed to in detail.

Let me just first ask you though about the Jordanian plea to Secretary of State Powell. We are told that the Jordanians are saying, don't wait for Secretary Powell to go there. The U.S. has got to immediately stop the Israelis from what they are doing, or else the Palestinian Authority will lose all of its authority and will not be able to speak for the Palestinians from now on. GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Well, I think that's reflected, not just in the president's words yesterday, but in the United States' vote for the U.N. Security Council resolution, which was adopted unanimously, asking that this occur without delay. And reinforced by Secretary Powell' comments today.

The risk, of course, is that the longer and deeper the incursion goes, the less likely that Secretary Powell's visit will be successful, and the process under way. That is, the more difficult there is attended on it. It's already a very difficult task, and a dangerous situation. And I assume that Secretary Powell has conveyed that view privately, as well as he just did, publicly.

WOODRUFF: Senator, what needs to happen on this trip by Secretary Powell to the region, for this to be considered a success?

MITCHELL: Judy, I don't think it's very helpful for me or others to start now, even before the trip begins, to establish bars which the secretary will have to get over, in order to have it a success. I must say to you frankly, that I think this whole process of using the word "success" and "failure" at each step, indeed, each day in this process, makes it all the more difficult.

The making of peace is a difficult, painstaking process. And I've said many times, I think you have to expunge the word failure, and even in short term, success, and simply go at it and do the best you can and stick with it. I don't think that General Zinni's previous efforts have been failures, although they've been described as such. I think they represent a continuing effort.

In Northern Ireland, we had negotiations that lasted two years. It was described as a failure for the first 700 days. Then we had an agreement and it was a success.

WOODRUFF: Up until now, Senator, the Bush administration had taken the position that there really could be no progress on the political front until the security issues were settled in large part. Now they seem to be saying that it is appropriate to look at the political aspects of this.

Do you believe it is possible to make progress on the political side, as long as there is still violence, as long as the security issues are unresolved?

MITCHELL: Well, yes, of course, providing that there is a substantially reduced level of violence. Judy, no society in all of human history has been able to obtain a complete absence of violence for any extended period of time. If we say that nothing can happen until everything is quiet, why, of course, we impose a condition that has never been met and that cannot be met.

But, you have to put it in context. There has to be a reduction of violence. There has to be a period in which political steps can be taken and compromises made. And what our report said was that there has to be, on the part of the Palestinian Authority, a 100 percent effort to bring violence to an end, even though it may not be 100 percent successful.

That language came from the Israeli government. It said we know he doesn't have complete control, but he has to make a complete effort. That's what's been lacking so far. And once that happens, you'll see a reduction. And then I think you can see these other steps being taken.

WOODRUFF: Well, if Yasser Arafat can't control all of what is going on, on the part of these militant Palestinian groups, then who can?

MITCHELL: Well, I doubt that anyone can completely control it to the point of having complete absence of violence. What if someone said to the United States, we won't deal with President Bush unless you assure us that for the next few weeks there will be no violence in the United States? The reality is that he does have a significant degree of authority. His prestige has risen, in fact, over the last few days, with the events that have unfolded there. He doesn't have complete control.

But the Israelis have asked, we have asked, is that he make the 100 percent effort. What he needs to know, and what he's asked for, is that if he does so, it'll be followed by a political process. That you'll have political discussions under way.

Our committee said that there cannot be a long, sustained cessation of violence without some follow on political process. But there has to be the effort to reduce the violence.

WOODRUFF: Last question. How important is it that Secretary Powell meet with Yasser Arafat on this trip?

MITCHELL: Well, that's a judgment the secretary will make, based upon the circumstances that exist when he gets there and as the events develop over the next few days. Again, I don't think it's helpful for me -- particularly me, and others who have been involved in this process -- to kind of set tests up for the secretary, to say he's got to do this or that.

The administration has to have the maximum flexibility in moving into the situation, and acting as appropriate, under the circumstances which exist. And I trust the secretary's judgment to make the right call on that.

WOODRUFF: All right. Former Senator George Mitchell, the author of the Mitchell Plan. We thank you very much for joining us. Good to see you.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: I appreciate it. And we have two views of the Middle East crisis coming up. Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile talk about the violence and Secretary Powell's trip in our "Taking Issue" segment.

But up next...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETITIA BALDRIDGE, FMR. SOCIAL SECRETARY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: She made a decision and wore it, and it was the right thing. Of course, all of America followed her with 24.95 knock-offs. Not quite the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: A new exhibit here in Washington remembering the style and the influence of Jacqueline Kennedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: "On the Record" today, Letitia Baldridge, longtime friend and former social secretary for first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. Ms. Baldridge and I met this week at the Corcoran Gallery of Art here in Washington to preview an exhibit dedicated to the first lady. It opens tomorrow after breaking attendance records at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDRIDGE: She always had a spark. She was a leader. She wrote better than anybody else. She painted beautiful little pictures. Her sense of humor was incredible. And her chic -- you know, she wore jeans, she wore leather belts, she wore scarves and sweaters, but like nobody else did. We all knew that she did something with the scarf and her neck that none of us could do. We all looked as though we were losing our scarves. But Jackie was chic.

WOODRUFF: Why is it important, do you think, to look at these clothes from 40 years ago?

BALDRIDGE: It's important because they were beautiful, and they represented something that's called classic taste. That is my favorite dress, because the brocade, the embroidery took months of work by French artisans. It's by Balanciaga. It is so beautiful. It is one of the best dresses of the French trade.

And she looked so glorious, as the guest of General De Gaulle and Madame De Gaulle, sitting in the grand opera box. Her hair and her jewelry, and the top of that dress. That's what everybody looked at, and just went, oh! So I liked it. It was my favorite, and it was her favorite, too.

WOODRUFF: Did she really love clothes?

BALDRIDGE: She really did. As I say, she didn't -- she wasn't obsessed by them. She didn't spend all of her time thinking about them. It's just that she had this natural, flamboyant good taste. And she trusted her own taste, and so she didn't spend a lot of time laboring over it.

She made a decision and wore it, and it was the right thing. And of course, all of America followed her, with 24.95 knock-offs. Not quite the same. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A charming visit, then.

BALDRIDGE: She disliked having to wear hats. That was a real negative in her life. And the minute she could take it off, she would take it off.

WOODRUFF: Isn't that interesting, because...

BALDRIDGE: And of course, the pillbox...

WOODRUFF: People think of her with the hats.

BALDRIDGE: I know it. But she hated to wear them and she never wore them unless it was a head of state or something that -- or going to see Mrs. Woodrow Wilson at her house for lunch, that kind of thing. She'd wear a hat. Her mother had trained her properly.

And of course she was criticized for having these beautiful clothes. Mrs. Nixon said, you know, I don't even -- I can't even buy her underwear. And she retorted something like, well, you know, I'm not wearing mink underwear. They had a great battle going on over the clothes.

WOODRUFF: It's one thing to be fashion conscience. Is it another thing altogether to be fashion conscience in Washington, which is the nation's capital. And it's a place that, historically, where a lot of things have mattered. Clothes and fashion have not mattered as much here.

BALDRIDGE: I would say that in comparison to New York, Washington is exceedingly dowdy. I'll probably have the apartment burned down because of having said that. Clothes do not mean as much here. You can wear the same evening dress for five years and get away with it. The dust collects on it. Jackie was New York fashion right, and Paris fashion right.

WOODRUFF: What was her view, in 1960, '61, '62, '63, when her husband was running for president, and president, as the role of first lady, and how important was it to her that the first lady have a certain look? How did she view all that?

BALDRIDGE: I think she had studied the role of the first lady. She was an historian. She studied history. She knew all about the first ladies, starting with Martha Washington. And she particularly admired Dolly Madison, who was such a fashion (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

She knew her history. And she also knew the White House, because she had been there many times with the senator.

WOODRUFF: What do you think would be the reaction today, if there were a first lady like Jacqueline -- or if she lived today, with her inedible sense of fashion and her incredible sense of style?

BALDRIDGE: Well, you know, today's woman can't spend that much time being a great mother, housekeeper, hostess. It was a different world when Jackie was mistress of the White House. We've had Hillary Clinton, and we've had a lot. And we now have wonderful Mrs. Bush. But she has enormous agendas -- literacy.

Every woman has a lot of work to do today in the White House. You can't go around having a fine arts commission, and deciding you've got to get the Louvre to cough up the Mona Lisa for a special showing. There isn't time for that anymore. We have moved on.

WOODRUFF: What do you miss the most about her? You knew her very well.

BALDRIDGE: Well, I miss the most, her presence. How she jacked us all up and made us all want to look better and read what she was reading. I mean, America followed her, just like slaves. They followed her. Everything she wanted to do and wanted to know.

I think young girls who look at the way she moved in her clothes, to look at her posture, her sense of dignity. To listen to her choice of words. She had a wonderful command of rhetoric.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: The Jacqueline Kennedy exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art here in Washington, beginning tomorrow.

Coming up, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan square off over the race for campaign cash. And the Bush administration's new Middle East mission.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Diplomacy in the Middle East tops the stories in our "Newscycle": U.S. Envoy Anthony Zinni spoke face-to-face today with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. They met for about an hour inside Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, which is still surrounded by Israeli forces. Arafat agreed to name three senior aides to work with Zinni on a way out of the crisis.

The so-called second Taliban American is now in the United States. Yasser Hamdi was transferred a short time ago from Guantanamo Bay to the Norfolk Naval Station. Officials say Hamdi apparently holds dual American and Saudi citizenship.

The body of Britain's beloved queen mother now lies in state at Westminster Hall in London. Earlier today, police estimated nearly a half-million mourners lined the streets as her coffin was moved from St. James' Palace. It was escorted by her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.

Here in the United States, the two major political parties have released their fund-raising numbers for the first quarter of this year. The Republican National Committee raised more than $31 million from January through March. The Democrats brought in $26 million during the same period. Most of the GOP money, about $26 million, was in hard money contributions. The Democrats brought in $8 million in hard money. The rest was in the form of soon-to-be-illegal soft money. The entire $8 million in hard money raised by the Democrats came from this direct-mail solicitation, a first-quarter record for the DNC.

Joining us now to discuss some of the top issues of the day: former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Bay, what does it say about the Democrats? Do you think that they have to rely so much still on soft money to keep up with the Republicans?

BAY BUCHANAN, AMERICAN CAUSE: It should be making them extremely nervous, Judy.

The key here is, the fat cats clearly are going with the Democratic Party. It's the party of the fat cats now. And the enormously impressive number of small donors that are contributing to the Republican Party suggests not only that they are going to have much, much more money than the Democrats, but that they have got enormous grassroots support.

People who give $25, $30 are committed to that party. And we're talking millions and millions compared to this piddly number over there at the Democratic Party.

Donna, I think you should be very nervous. You guys are in real trouble unless you can turn things around the next two years.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE Campaign MANAGER: Well, surprise, surprise, surprise, Judy.

When I heard the numbers this morning, I wasn't surprised. In fact, I was quite excited to hear that the Democratic Party had an all-time fund-raising record in terms of bringing in a large number of first-time donors to the Democratic Party. Terry McAuliffe has done an excellent job in reaching out to people that we've never reached out before to.

And, so, while the Republican Party has a president who is a stellar fund-raiser -- in fact, George Bush should be renamed fund- raiser in chief. But I think the Democratic Party did quite well. And, remember, message trumps money. And I do believe the Democratic Party will have a credible message to go to the American people this fall.

BUCHANAN: You know, Donna, you must be shocked at the sum of money that they're picking up, this soft money. The Democrats are deep into the pockets of corporate America.

And you and I both know that that's something that the Democrats have always said is wrong, that it's too influential, that it is corrupting. And there you have the Democratic Party living off it, living off of that fat-cat money.

(CROSSTALK) BRAZILE: I don't know if it's fat-cat money.

But you know what? It is money. And it's legal right now. And I think the Democratic Party should go out and shake as many trees as possible before November 6, and bring it all in, and bring it all home, and, of course, help Tom Daschle retain the Senate and Dick Gephardt take control of the House. So, it's legal.

Look, the Republican Party has done a fabulous job over the years of getting special-interest money, corporation money, and any other kind of money that they can bundle up.

WOODRUFF: And, Donna, you're not worried about the Democrats being able to keep up after soft money is banned or outlawed, for the most part?

BRAZILE: No. With the new technology that Terry McAuliffe is out there putting in place, it will help the Democratic Party reach out and find even more donors. Remember, the Democrats have the real political base out there, the grassroots. And we have to ensure, the party has to ensure that those people give $5 and $10 contributions.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both about the Middle East, the new Bush administration initiative.

Bay, is this the right thing to do and is it in time?

BUCHANAN: Judy, who knows if it's in time.

I'd like to just say one thing. The enormous savaging of President Bush's, as if he is somehow responsible for all that's going on over there, is completely unfounded, unwarranted, and unfair. I think he is absolutely doing the right thing. I think the Arab world is dependent on him to use the United States, to use our influence with Israel, a great ally of ours, to see if we can't get them to pull back.

He is probably the only hope -- this country is the only hope of getting those two parties at a table. But I'll tell you what President Bush's real problem is, is he has a domestic problem here: enormous pressure for him to side publicly with Israel, to, in essence, call names of Arafat and the Palestinians. And that is wrong.

In order for America to really make a difference here, he has got to go high road. He's got to become the power broker, the honest power broker. And Secretary Powell is exactly the right decision, because I believe that the Arab people really feel a friend there and someone they can trust.

BRAZILE: Well, I agree with Bay that Secretary Powell is the right person. He has the creditability. And he also has the stature to go over there to try to make some sense out of it.

But, look, the reason why people are finally applauding George Bush is because he's stood on the sideline for weeks as the violence took a toll on Israel. And he was just lobbing messages over the Internet, or I guess over the transom. But Arafat didn't pick them up. And so I'm grateful that the president has finally gotten into the game. Look, after all, we are the referee over there. We've been the referee for years.

And it's important that the United States, a world superpower, get back into the game. And Secretary Powell is the person to do it.

WOODRUFF: Donna, do you hold the president responsible for the situation getting worse?

BRAZILE: I hold the administration responsible for not getting involved sooner, for waiting until the European allies and the Arab nations screamed at us several weeks ago before sending back Special Envoy Zinni.

I hold him responsible for not consulting with people in the Clinton administration who, by the way, have an excellent track record of dealing with the situation. So, now we are looking at the future. And now we should back what the president is doing by sending Secretary Powell over there.

WOODRUFF: Bay, one quick last word.

BUCHANAN: You can say what you want, Donna, but all the efforts of the Clinton administration did not give us peace. Both sides walked away from it. Sharon has denounced that plan. And so the president was given a very, very tough hand. You've got to work with people who want to come to the peace table. And he wasn't working with them.

But now I think, with this enormous mess out there, the pressure will be to bring some sense out of it. And, hopefully, we can be successful.

BRAZILE: And use his political capital, because he didn't want to use his political capital.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: Bay, Donna, we are going to have to leave it there.

BRAZILE: He is going to be in real trouble with his own party if he takes an honest-broker role. But he's going to have to do it.

WOODRUFF: I'd love to go on for hours, but we're going to have to stop it there. Bay and Donna, thank you both. Good to see you. And have a good weekend.

BRAZILE: Good luck to Secretary Powell.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Still ahead: the "Inside Buzz" on the Pennsylvania governor's race. Plus, an Ohio Democrat's court case: Both sides have one last chance to convince the jury. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Time now for the "Inside Buzz" on the ad wars under way in races around the country. Today's focus: next month's Democratic primary in the Pennsylvania governor's race.

David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID PEELER, CNN MEDIA CONSULTANT: Bob Casey Jr. and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell are embroiled in an old-fashioned Democratic throw-down. Casey, the state auditor general, has gone after Rendell with this ad criticizing Philadelphia's troubled school system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Under Rendell, Philadelphia's school children scored in the bottom 1 percent of the state; 50 percent failed basic math and reading.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEELER: Rendell responded, trying to take the high road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Ed Rendell's plans for education have been applauded statewide, while newspapers are criticizing Casey, calling his attacks on Ed Rendell unfair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEELER: Let take a look at how the ad dollars stack up.

Casey has spent $3 million since early February focusing on traditional Democratic issues: health care, education, and raising the minimum wage. Rendell started running his campaign ads earlier. He has spent $4 million touting his record as mayor, among other issues.

Where the ads are running is also very important. Casey has not bought any ads in Philadelphia, Rendell's stronghold. And Rendell is spending big in Pittsburgh, where Casey is better known, but Rendell considers fertile ground. Who has the edge? It's really too close to call, with a lot of voters still undecided, making advertising even more important in the days ahead.

Casey's father once served as governor. And the son has inherited his dad's causes, including opposition to abortion and gun control. Rendell is trying to straddle the old and the new wings of the party, the city and the suburbs. The winner faces Republican attorney General Mike Fisher. He's ready, waiting and unopposed.

For INSIDE POLITICS, I'm David Peeler.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, closing arguments are set for Monday in the corruption trial of Congressman James Traficant. Acting as his own attorney, the Ohio Democrat rested his case today without taking the stand. Traficant is accused of taking kickbacks from staffers, accepting gifts in exchange for political favors, and filing false tax returns. If convicted of all 10 counts, he could be sent to prison for up to 63 years.

Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": Massachusetts Republicans are expected to endorse Mitt Romney by acclimation at tomorrow's state party convention. Romney is also working to ensure his favored running mate also wins a spot on the ballot. A new poll shows Romney leads all five of his potential Democratic challengers.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush is taking steps to trademark his name. The governor says he wants to prevent outside groups from using his name in unapproved ways. He singled out a group called Americans for Jeb Bush, which has attacked his potential opponent, Janet Reno.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was denied entry this week to a speech on the Middle East by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Harris did not have a ticket for the event at the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club. She reportedly tried to enter the club through a wine store attached to the club's restaurant. Harris later said -- quote -- "No big deal, one less chicken dinner," who is running for Congress, as we said.

Well, straight ahead: like father like son. On many issues, the 41st and the 43rd president do agree. But what about their policies for achieving peace in the Middle East? We'll examine that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The Middle East has joined the war on terrorism on top of the expected agenda in Texas this weekend for President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The return of the Middle East as a top priority is a recurring theme for U.S. presidents. And it brings inevitable comparisons between the current President Bush and his father.

More now from our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the 43rd president of the United States is drawn into the Middle East vortex...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world finds itself at a critical moment. This is a conflict that can widen or an opportunity we can seize.

CROWLEY: ... comparisons to the 41st president of the United States are inevitable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the first time in history, the vision of Israelis sitting with their Arab neighbors to talk peace is a real prospect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Beyond the name, the DNA, and the job, now add the Middle East to what they have in common.

Do the similarities end there? This George Bush stared down Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in a dispute over U.S. loan guarantees and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

HENRY SIEGMAN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Bush Sr. was seen or suspected of being a person whose natural sympathies were with the Arab world, not with the state of Israel.

CROWLEY: This George Bush is seen as having given Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the green light to move his tanks into the West Bank.

And this George Bush, a foreign expert policy when he became president, arrived with a Rolodex full of the names of international leaders and a firm belief in what wonks call multilateralism.

EDWARD WALKER, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: He was a man who felt that we had to be operating in the world at large. We had to have allies. We had to get cooperation from people.

CROWLEY: This President Bush came to office with little international experience, few foreign friends in high places, and a confidence in what Texans call going it alone if you have to.

Still, while acknowledging differences, these analysts say the analogies are simplistic, that the father's perceived pro-Arab tilt should be seen in the context of the Cold War.

WALKER: George Bush found that the approach that Shamir was taking was counterproductive to American interests in the region. And so, therefore, he took a line which was seen as being hostile to Israel. It wasn't. It was pro-American.

CROWLEY: Similarly, the argument goes, the son's perceived pro- Israeli slant needs to be seen in the context of the war on terrorism.

WALKER: It is in our interest to eliminate terrorism from the world. And so, if that means that you're going to identify with Israel on certain things, fine. So be it.

CROWLEY: In fact, many analysts argue the fundamentals of Bush vs. Bush in the Middle East are nearly identical.

EDWARD DJEREJIAN, BAKER INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY: The Bush 43 administration has certainly set out its vision for peace, which is really not that different from the administration of Bush 41.

CROWLEY: What they share, it seems, is the vision thing. What's different is the world.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Political fallout from the violence in the Middle East -- coming up: Whose views are carrying the most weight here in Washington?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: This current conflict in the Middle East has had political repercussions here in Washington.

Bill Schneider joins us now with some thoughts on that -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, alongside the bloody ordeal in the Middle East, there was a political struggle in Washington. There were no winners in the Middle East, but Washington did have a winner and a "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): On one side, a potent array of influential conservatives, including Gary Bauer, William Bennett and Richard Perle, who wrote a letter to President Bush urging him to stand firm with Israel. They took heart from what President Bush said last week.

G.W. BUSH: Israel is a democratically elected government. And the government is responding to the will of the people for there to be more security.

SCHNEIDER: Conservatives believed they were winning.

REP. TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: He is standing side-by-side with Israel. And he is resisting the calls, the constant calls from the left and the media to force Israel back to the negotiating table, where they will be pressured to grant concessions to terrorists.

SCHNEIDER: But there was an influential voice on the other side.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am prepared to go anywhere anytime, when it serves a useful purpose.

SCHNEIDER: On Monday, when President Bush refused to ostracize Yasser Arafat, conservatives began to worry.

RICH LOWRY, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": They've lost the clarity of the Bush doctrine, which is that, if you harbor and encourage terrorism, you're a terrorist.

SCHNEIDER: Secretary Powell begged to differ. POWELL: Chairman Arafat still has a legitimate role within the Palestinian movement. And we think, at this point, it is best to deal with him in that role.

SCHNEIDER: On Thursday, President Bush called on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled areas. And he declared a winner in the battle of Washington.

G.W. BUSH: I've decided to send Secretary of State Powell to the region next week to seek broad international support for the vision I have laid out today.

SCHNEIDER: Today happens to be Secretary Powell's 65th birthday. A trip to the Middle East isn't much of a present, but we can offer the "Political Play of the Week." Happy birthday, Mr. Secretary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now, why did Secretary Powell prevail? Well, start with this: He had the entire international community on his side, including Arab regimes, whose support is going to be crucial in the larger war on terrorism -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Appreciate your pointing that out. Bill Schneider, thanks.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: And have a good weekend.

More INSIDE POLITICS ahead, but first, we want to go to Kate Snow to find out what's ahead on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Judy, thanks.

Journalists in the line of fire: Witness the scene as they tried to cover the Mideast crisis. Also, Israel strikes back for the Passover massacre. Disturbing news out of Afghanistan: Learn how U.S. troops are being targeted. And a prank on the world's richest man: How did Bill Gates take it? You'll hear his reaction coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: And you thought he was still in an undisclosed location. Well, Texas Ranger fans were thrilled to see the vice president, giving him a rousing welcome as he took the mound this afternoon. And then it was time for the windup and the pitch: no bounce, straight to the catcher. And so the home season begins for the team that Mr. Cheney's boss, President Bush, once owned. We're glad to see he has a future in baseball.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. Now we're on to "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

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