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New Developments in Case of Missing Girl; Florida Missing Girl Case Generates Heat on Governor Bush

Aired May 10, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. New developments today in the case of a missing Florida girl don't seem to have eased any of the political heat on Governor Jeb Bush.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Candiotti in Miami. I'll tell you why police here are taking an unusual step as they try to figure out what happened to 5-year-old Rilya Wilson.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl at Bird's Florist in Washington with a Mother's Day story about how Congress will affect how much you spend on flowers.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. Does friendship trump party loyalty? Find out in the political play of the week.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We begin with a disturbing question Florida authorities still cannot answer. Where is 5-year-old Rilya Wilson? DNA test results released today did not solve the mystery.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Kansas City police compared Rilya Wilson's mother's DNA to that of Precious Doe, the little girl found dead in Kansas City last year. Conclusion: Precious Doe is not, in fact, Rilya Wilson.

DET. DAVE BERNARD, KANSAS CITY POLICE: The DNA is conclusive. Victoria Wilson has been eliminated as the mother of Precious Doe.

CANDIOTTI: If that qualifies as good news, the bad is that Miami Dade police still have no idea where Rilya is and are treating her case as a homicide. And while police say they have no suspect, they did release the results of a polygraph test of two sisters who were taking care of Rilya at the time of her disappearance. The sisters, according to police, failed the test.

CARLOS ALVAREZ, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: The more people we talk to that are involved in this case that supposedly saw the child, we have found out that they haven't been quite honest with us.

CANDIOTTI: One of the sisters, Pamela Graham, had legal custody of Rilya in January 2001. The other, Geralyn Graham, who calls herself Rilya's grandmother, says that a woman who claimed to be a state child welfare worker took the child.

The Florida Department of Children and Families, which was supposed to check in on Rilya regularly, only reported her missing a month ago, even though a case worker had not in fact seen her since January 2001.

Geralyn Graham told CNN today that she believes Rilya is alive and is lost somewhere in the Florida child welfare system.

GERALYN GRAHAM, RILYA'S CARETAKER: There's no disappearance. There's a DCF worker who left my house with her.


WOODRUFF: CNN's Susan Candiotti with us now from Miami, where she's been covering this case. Susan, isn't it unusual for the police to release the results of a lie detector test?

CANDIOTTI: Yes, Judy, it is. And it's surprising to a lot of people who are involved in this case. But they say that this indicates the level of frustration here. That the police chief, in his view, is frustrated that many of the people that they have interviewed so far, including state employees, he says, haven't been quite frank with him, haven't been telling the truth.

And so, in the view of some, the police chief may be trying to stir things up a bit by revealing the results of part of this lie detector test.

WOODRUFF: All right. Susan Candiotti, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Turning now to the political fallout from the Rilya Wilson case, Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke to reporters today after being briefed by Miami-Dade police about their investigation.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: What we haven't learned is if this is an example of a systemic problem. And I know there is a tremendous amount of interest in this because of just the heart-breaking aspects of a child, unloved, that's been lost for so long. And I appreciate this. And all of our prayers are that the child will be found.


WOODRUFF: Democrats who are hoping to unseat Governor Bush say that he should do more to fix the state welfare system that lost track of Rilya for more than a year.


JANET RENO (D), FLORIDA GOV. CANDIDATE: What has Governor Bush's response been? His response was to appoint four people to a blue ribbon panel, to -- quote -- "review the performance of the child protection system in Miami-Dade County."

He, I understand, said that he wanted to account for all the children in the system. But, Governor, that's not enough.


WOODRUFF: Janet Reno's Democratic primary rival, Bill McBride, agrees and says Florida's child welfare system needs a complete overhaul. I spoke a short while ago with Mark Silva of the "Orlando Sentinel." I asked him how much attention this case is getting in Florida.


MARK SILVA, "ORLANDO SENTINEL": It's saturation coverage. All of the markets in the state are reading and seeing about this.

WOODRUFF: And are fingers pointed in one direction or another or what?

SILVA: Well, the Democrats have started pointing fingers squarely at Jeb Bush, the Republican governor, seeking reelection in November.

WOODRUFF: How are they making the case that he's responsible?

SILVA: Well, certainly he is overall responsible in the big picture. It's one of his agencies that's responsible for the loss of this child. And he has taken some responsibility for attempting to overhaul the agency in the nearly four years in which he's been governor.

WOODRUFF: He's taken responsibility for that?

SILVA: He has. And the budget for child welfare in the state has doubled on his watch. So he can point to that. He can also point to the fact that he's responded fairly swiftly -- the appointment of a fairly high-level commission to inquire into how this happened.

He said again today, he's intent on getting to the bottom of it and fixing it.

WOODRUFF: So when the former attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Janet Reno, says, Governor, that's not enough, you're saying?

SILVA: Well, she also in addition called for the removal of the secretary of the department of children and families who oversees all of this. It's a 25,000-employee operation.

It's been beleaguered with problems like this for years, and gone through many, many changes and increases in spending. She says the boss should go. So that will be up to the governor.

WOODRUFF: Is that likely to happen? SILVA: I think Jeb Bush is very loyal to his people. And if the commission that's been appointed to look into this concludes that the responsibility lies with the secretary, he'll be left with no choice.

WOODRUFF: You're pointing out a number of things the governor has done over the last few years. Are you saying basically he's absolved from a responsibility?

SILVA: He's not absolved, but I think he'd have more political vulnerability if he had, one, stood on the sidelines and done nothing for four years and two, tried to avoid this issue. But in fact, he has spent a considerable amount of time working on this agency and has jumped four-square into the conflict.

He's been in Miami for a couple of days. He has not run from the situation.

WOODRUFF: Where does the case go from here, Mark?

SILVA: This panel will look into what happened. I think they'll respond fairly quickly. We've also got a police investigation going on here. We understand now it's not related to the death of a girl in Kansas. So it's two-track. There's a police investigation and a state inquiry.

WOODRUFF: And so your expectation is that it will be a story that is, you know, getting attention in Florida for some time to come.

SILVA: Oh, it will. It will remain in the headlines for some time to come. And the political voices will help keep it there. But in addition, the workings of government will keep it there. This inquiry will not last long, I don't believe. I believe it'll be fairly swift and it will be a developing story for some time.

WOODRUFF: All right. When you say swift, you mean weeks?

SILVA: I would expect so, yes.

WOODRUFF: All right. Mark Silva of the "Orlando Sentinel."

Question: has the Bush administration stands on abortion and sex education put a cramp in efforts to help children around the world? Up next, we will hear from youngsters who attended a historic session at the United Nations. And from officials with very different views on this subject.

Also ahead, reading between the lines in the Yucca mountain controversy. What exactly did the Bush camp promise?

And later, Bill Clinton's show biz connection. The former president speaks out on whether he has a future as a talk show host.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The United Nation's General Assembly today wraps up a special three-day session on improving the lives of the world's children. Popular goals included reducing poverty and improving health care. But the most divisive topics pitted the United States against most of the rest of the world, on the best way to provide sex education to young people.

Two guests will join me in a moment to discuss those issues. But first, more on the conference from CNN's Michael McManus.


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan kicked off the historic children's session with several goals in mind.

KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL: Wherever you may live, you have the right to grow up free of poverty and hunger. You have the right to quality education, whether you are a girl or a boy.

MCMANUS: Did the special session accomplish what its members set out to do? We asked delegates in attendance who could best answer that question, the kids themselves.

CAROLINE BAREBWOHA, UGANDA: This is the first time that adults have gotten to listen to our views as children.

ABIGAIL FABRIGAS, PHILIPPINES: The children's forum was really a great success. That was really a great showcase of optimism.

MCMANUS: Abigail Fabrigas is a 16-year-old delegate from the Philippines who discussed an epidemic problem within her country: poverty.

FABRIGAS: More than half of the population of the Philippines, or at least half the population, lives under the poverty line. With that poverty, we have drug addiction, we have education overpopulation, lack of health services, et cetera.

GERALDINE KAMBIDE, KENYA: Poverty is the key to everything. I think poverty is the key of everything, education, lack of food, everything.

BAREBWOHA: It does not matter whether you are boy or you are girl, you should all go to school and have quality education. And there should be no gender imbalance in schools.

MCMANUS: The head of the U.S. delegation, Health and Human Services secretary, Tommy Thompson, spoke for the Bush administration against abortion and in favor of abstinence.

TOMMY THOMPSON, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Our efforts include strengthening close parent-child relationships, encouraging the delay of sexual activity and supporting abstinence education programs.

MCMANUS: Finding a consensus proved difficult. STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, UNITED STATES: Abortion is allowed in the U.S. so I don't think that's right, that Bush is trying to limit that right in other nations.

FABRIGAS: It is a right of every child to be given a chance to live, to be born, to be happy, to be healthy.

MCMANUS: And still others were upset with the plight of the youngest victims of war.

SEVINJ MASIYEVA, AZERBAIJAN: Children which live in war situation, how they live.

SCHWARTZ: In Africa there are lots of use of child soldiers. And these children, the psychological effects as well as the physical effects, are devastating.

FABRIGAS: We, the children, have power. But we couldn't deny the fact that we are still vulnerable.

BAREBWOHA: It's not only about speeches, talking and talking. We have to implement what has been said.

MCMANUS: Michael McManus, CNN, the United Nations.


WOODRUFF: Well, as you've heard, family planning and sex education were two of the most divisive issues at the U.N. conference and are still. In a moment I'll interview Adrienne Germain of the International Women's Health Coalition.

But first, I spoke a little while ago with conference delegate and Deputy U.S. Health Secretary, Claude Allen. I started by asking him if he thought it was odd that the Vatican and a few Muslim countries were opposed by virtually all the other questions on the question of sex education.


CLAUDE ALLEN, DEPUTY HEALTH SECRETARY: Not at all. I think in fact what we're finding is in fact, what we believe is that our position, the position that we're taking in the United Nations, is the best position in terms of children and the children's health and the future for children.

First of all, we need to recognize that the United Nations, when we talk about children and we talk about children's rights, those rights, in all aspects, must be interpreted in terms of the relationship to parents' rights, responsibilities and duties.

In this specific area, we have to understand we're still dealing with children in these areas. And therefore the very best health policy that we know for children in the terms of sexual reproductive health. And this aspect -- this abstinence is one piece of it.

But also making sure that children can continue to be children. So we're trying to focus a lot of attention on that.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure you know, the people who were advocate that the language remain as it's been for the last, what, eight years, they say that you have millions of adolescents at risk around the world for HIV AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.

And their question is, why not let each other country decide how it should handle this. And if -- and in other words, not have the United States dictate to the world.

ALLEN: Well, understand, again, it's not the United States dictating to the world. This is a world conference. You have nations from around the world who have come together to negotiate this agreement.

And in terms of that, the agreement itself is nonbinding. This is a plan of action that all leaders and all countries around the world are to try to follow. There is no binding effect on a nation and what it chooses to do in and of itself.

WOODRUFF: Not binding, but it is taken seriously.

ALLEN: Certainly, and it should be taken seriously.

WOODRUFF: Or else the U.S. wouldn't work so hard to change the language.

ALLEN: Absolutely. And it should be taken seriously. And we believe that the position -- and we've seen it happen in places such as in Africa and in countries like Uganda, where, in terms of such issues and dealing with youth, the very fact that Uganda has increased its life expectancy rate has been due to its policies as it relates to children.

And so that's what we're talking about promoting and that's what we believe, in conjunction with Muslim countries, the Vatican and others, who support that position.

WOODRUFF: We just heard in the program an interview with some of the children who are delegates to the summit. One of those delegates is a 15-year-old American boy who said, when he was interviewed, that the U.S. position on this question of sex education, he says it's contrary to the views of most American people. And critics say it's also contrary to the view of the United States Supreme Court and a majority of members of Congress, in supporting...

ALLEN: Well, first of all, I would educate the 15-year-old young man because that's not true. Because the vast majority of American youth are not engaging in sexual activity. Those who are, we believe that there is an important message that the best way to avoid the bad consequences of those decisions is to avoid it altogether.

And so part of it is an education of our young people. Part of it is a reeducation of adults in many cases, that we know that in this day and time, young people are confronted with many decisions. But also, very few of those decisions have the consequences that early engagement in sexual activity will have on their futures and on their health.

WOODRUFF: All right. Claude Allen, he's deputy secretary of Health and Human Services for the United States. Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Good to be here with you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

ALLEN: Thank you.


WOODRUFF: And with me now, Adrienne Germain. She is president of the International Women's Health Coalition. Ms. Germain, we just heard Secretary Allen say that it's not odd at all for the U.S. to be aligned with just a few countries against most of the rest of the world because the United States position is right.

ADRIENNE GERMAIN, INT'L WOMEN'S HEALTH COALITION: That is very clear evidence of the cultural imperialism being adopted by the United States, the Bush administration, in this negotiation. The fact is that the world community, five times in the last eight years, came to a different agreement.

WOODRUFF: Well, he, in explaining the U.S. position, said that, as you know, their position is that abstinence is the only certain way to prevent the transmission of sexually -- sexual disease, to prevent the spread of AIDS, and so on. In their view, abstinence is the best and why not advocate for it?

GERMAIN: All of us support and promote abstinence. But we support it on the basis of full understanding and education of young people about sexuality, about love, about mutual respect.

And also we know that not just in this country, but also around the world, many young people, whether they want to or not, have become sexually active. They are forced into sex by child marriage, they are force need sex by poverty. There are many different forces at work here. Even the media can sometimes encourage youngsters to get into sexual activity.

WOODRUFF: But I think the view of the U.S. delegation, at least what I interpret, is they are saying the United States should lead the world. In fact, I see one of the delegates as quoted in "The New York Times" today as saying the U.S. should be in a position of leading everyone else.

GERMAIN: The U.S. is leading the rest of the world, or trying, to lead them back into the Dark Ages. For eight years now the world has reconfirmed that in an era of HIV-AIDS, and recognizing that at least 4 million children every year have complications of induced abortion. There are 800,000 teenagers a year in this country who get pregnant. And a quarter of a million of them abort.

You know, this is a situation where we have nothing to lead on, frankly. The rest of the world, meanwhile, is leading. They have recognized these dangers. They've committed themselves five times in the last eight years to provide sexuality education and health services that these young people need.

WOODRUFF: And since it's nonbinding, even though it is nonbinding, you're saying a great deal...


WOODRUFF: Go ahead.

GERMAIN: In this sort of situation, if you have a strong document, which is what we had during the last eight years, five times. each negotiation it got better and better for young people. And so we could use that document around the world, in Nigeria, in Nepal, in Peru.

If you have a bad document, which this one is, it's just a nuisance. But the governments will go on. Those who have started these programs are going to continue.

WOODRUFF: Adrienne Germain with the International Women's Health Coalition. Thanks very much for joining us.

GERMAIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: President Bush wants to toughen work requirements for welfare recipients. Details ahead in our "Newscycle."

Plus, Palestinians return to Manger Square after Israeli troops complete their withdrawal from Bethlehem.


WOODRUFF: Among the stories in our "Newscycle," cleanup work is under way at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. The church was filled with garbage and leftover food after the five-week standoff between Palestinians and Israeli forces ended earlier today. Thirteen Palestinians who were in the church are being exiled. Twenty-six others have been sent to Gaza.

Former FBI agent Robert Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison without parole today for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the Bureau, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage and conspiracy.

In Ohio, President Bush today called on Congress to renew the 1996 welfare reform law, and to add tougher work requirements. Mr. Bush wants 70 percent of welfare recipients to be working by 2007. He says the government will help people learn new job skills.

With us now, James Garcia. He is editor and publisher of, a Web site devoted to Latino news. And Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council.

Genevieve, to you first. The president wants to strengthen work requirements for welfare recipients and he wants this to be done at the federal level, decreasing state flexibility. Is this the right approach?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, I think, Judy, He doesn't want to just do it at the federal level. He's saying we're going to have federal dollars, but we're going to give them to the state and state and local authorities then will decide how do we best use these funds to move more people into work, to give them more training. And in some cases, even providing child care.

But the fact is, there are a lot of naysayers back in 1996 who said if we put these work requirements in, all these people are going to be without jobs. We're going to have even more folks on the welfare doles. The fact is, it's dropped almost in half.

And I think the naysayers obviously were wrong. All the president is saying is, hey, let's take it up a notch. And the states were innovative before. I think they can be innovative again.

WOODRUFF: James Garcia, smart move for the president, to do what he's doing?

JAMES GARCIA, AMERICANLATINO.NET: I think the president has to be careful on this. If he moves too quickly without providing the kind of funding that's being asked for, in terms of child care and some of the other issues, and some of the training issues, he runs the risk of perhaps damaging what's been a really pretty good track record by the Republican Party on this issue.

The Democrats, of course, are at a little bit of a disadvantage in that their president, their former president, President Clinton, signed this bill into law. And they can go out there and argue that they need more money for child care, they need more money for training and that sort of thing.

But they can't really argue vehemently against, by any means, the continuation of this package or some of the measures that the president is proposing. But -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, if you don't mind, I hate to cut you off. But I want to turn us quickly to another completely different issue, and that is the Bush administration decision recently to put a nuclear waste deposit at the Yucca flat site in the state of Nevada. Genevieve Wood, this is something that some are saying -- there is a lot of criticism that has come out of this in the West, obviously in Nevada, some other Western states. Is this something that could come back politically to bite the president when it comes election year?

WOOD: Well, I don't think so, if it is explained correctly.

The fact is, we have about 130-some-odd interim sites around this country, which means that they are targets for terrorists, to a great extent. These are things where we are storing old nuclear sites on the land. We aren't burying them in.

With the Yucca plan, this is talking about burying them under billions upon billions of miles of rubble, and basically making it much safer, putting it in one spot, not having it spread all over the country. That's what the president and Vice President Cheney talked about on the campaign trail, even though you've got Democrats who are trying to play words games again with it.

WOODRUFF: James Garcia, is it politically risky?

GARCIA: It is.

I think what we saw in the last presidential election was a very tight race in some of those Western states. New Mexico, of course, was won by Gore. And the Democrats feel they have a real shot in states like Nevada and Colorado, not just because of the question of states rights vs. what Washington wants done about this issue, but because there's been rapid Latino vote growth in those areas. And those people are still very strongly leaning towards Democrats in those states. And President Bush has to be careful with this.

WOOD: Well, the president, all I think he has to do is make the argument, this is the safest thing to do, and I think he is going to win those votes.

WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there. Genevieve Wood, James Garcia, thank you both. We appreciate it. Good to see you.

Bill Clinton tries to set the record straight. When we return, the former president weighs in on reports that he wants to be a talk show host. We will talk to the man who got that interview with Mr. Clinton, CNN contributor Tavis Smiley.


WOODRUFF: Updating the "Buzz" on Bill Clinton's possible future as a TV talk show host: In a radio interview airing today, the former president says the idea is appealing, but he doesn't think it will pan out.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody has made an offer or accepted or rejected, or I haven't walked away or walked toward anything. This was just a conversation that got blown out of proportion. And then both NBC and I, I think, got tagged in a way that wasn't quite right.


WOODRUFF: With us now: the man who interviewed Clinton for National Public Radio, CNN contributor Tavis Smiley.

So, Tavis, do you think the former president shut the door completely on a TV talk show or not?


It is clear to me that Bill Clinton still has a lot to say. He recognizes that TV provides a huge audience. And, of course, having been in the White House for eight years, he appreciates, I think, having a national and an international platform.

And so I asked him as a follow-up, I said: "Mr. President, I still feel some passion coming out of you. Are you suggesting that, if some sort of vehicle, some sort of format in radio or television to offer commentary or analysis presented itself, are you suggesting that you would not accept that?" And he couldn't even give a definitive answer to that.

So, clearly, he is intrigued by this and would like to find a way to offer his voice through the media, but the daytime talk show, certainly with NBC, is not going to happen.

WOODRUFF: Tavis, I gather the question of pardons that he granted at the end of his presidency also came up. He obviously got a lot of bad publicity about the Marc Rich pardon, but there was another pardon that came up in your interview.

SMILEY: Indeed.

Kemba Smith, a young woman out of Virginia who found herself in prison because of these mandatory minimum sentences, not because of drugs that she was selling or using, but her boyfriend, quite frankly, was the culprit here -- to make a long story short, though, the president released or pardoned her, Judy.

And it is one of the rare stories of something that he did on a pardon that is getting some positive play. Kemba went back to college, is raising her son, is graduating tomorrow from Virginia Union University with honors, and going on to law school. So, finally, at least a pardon that the president offered, somebody who got out and did the right thing. And he was very happy, because Kemba was on my show yesterday and taped a message for the president.

I played that for him. He responded to it and, quite frankly, got teary-eyed when Kemba thanked him for pardoning her and giving her her life back.

WOODRUFF: Well, Tavis Smiley, who is a CNN contributor and also a talk show host for National Public Radio, Tavis, we appreciate you being with us.

SMILEY: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

SMILEY: You too.

WOODRUFF: Well, even if a talk show is not in Mr. Clinton's future, the former president is trying to keep up his ties to Hollywood.

He will join Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz and other celebrities appearing at a fund-raiser for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles tonight. For more on Mr. Clinton's show business connections, here is Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Tonight's fund-raiser reunites one of the glitziest political couples of the 1990s: Bill Clinton and Hollywood.

But, in fact, Clinton's relationship with the film world has not been all hugs and air kisses. When Clinton first ran for the White House in 1992, he initially drew suspicion as a Southerner who supported welfare reform and the death penalty. It was only after Clinton won the Democratic nomination that he became a star in Hollywood.

CLINTON: I have always aspired to be in the cultural elite that others condemn.

BROWNSTEIN: Once Clinton captured the presidency, the road between Hollywood and Washington became as crowded as the San Diego Freeway on a Friday afternoon. Hollywood titans like Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Robin Williams became familiar faces at the White House.

But, even as Clinton rubbed elbows with Hollywood, he also banged heads with it, mostly over its impact on kids. Clinton repeatedly criticized Hollywood for emphasizing sex and violence in its films. He pushed into law measures like the V-chip and a rating system for television to give parents more control over what their children see.

And after the Columbine massacre in 1999, he ordered an unprecedented federal investigation into whether the studios were marketing violent movies to young people, a study that forced sweeping changes in the film industry.

CLINTON: I have strongly urged people in the entertainment industry to consider the consequences of what they create and how they advertise it.

BROWNSTEIN: All of these initiatives infuriated Hollywood, so much so that Jack Valenti, the moviemakers' chief lobbyist in Washington, later said that Clinton had given Hollywood -- quote -- "more discontent than any president I can ever think of."

These arguments weren't enough to break the bonds between Clinton and the stars. But the disputes did produce a relationship more complex and ambivalent behind the scenes than it appeared in front of the cameras, which, in Hollywood, is pretty much business as usual.

This is Ron Brownstein for INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges has won a small victory in his efforts to block plutonium shipments to his state. Hodges spent $100,000 from his own campaign funds to pay for this ad urging state residents to call the government and protest the shipments. Yesterday, the federal Energy Department agreed to delay the shipments while a judge hears arguments related to a lawsuit filed by the governor.

A new poll finds Massachusetts Republican Mitt Romney has lost his once-commanding lead over his leading Democratic gubernatorial opponents. Democrat Shannon O'Brien has edged ahead of Romney, 40 percent to 35 percent, in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up, another 24 percent undecided. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is in a dead heat with Romney, 38 percent to 37 percent.

In Pennsylvania, former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell leads fellow Democrat Bob Casey Jr. in their primary race for governor. Rendell has opened a 10-point lead in a new poll. But one-quarter of Democratic voters say they are still not decided less than two weeks before the primary.

Congress and the cost of flowers later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next: from San Juan Hill to Elian Gonzalez, a look at U.S. relations with its island neighbor to the south.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York.

With former President Carter about to visit Cuba, I'll look at the link between that nation and American presidents. It goes back way longer than you might think.



WOODRUFF: Relations between the U.S. and Cuba have been frozen in place for the last four decades or so.

But with the imminent arrival in Cuba of a former U.S. president, senior analyst Jeff Greenfield has some thoughts on the two nations and their complex relations.


GREENFIELD: When former President Carter arrives in Havana this weekend, he will be the first American president, present or former, to travel there since Calvin Coolidge did it some 70 years ago. And if that seems like a long time, consider this: The link between Cuba and American presidents go back decades before anyone ever heard of Fidel Castro.

(voice-over): More than 100 years ago, in 1898, Theodore Roosevelt led a charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. It made him a national hero, propelled him into the governorship of New York, then the vice presidency, then the White House.

But it was Fidel Castro's successful revolution in 1959 that really began the story, 10 presidents ago. In April 1961, the newly- inaugurated John F. Kennedy faced a major disaster when the CIA- sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion, designed to oust the communist regime of Castro's, collapsed.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any nuclear missile launched from Cuba...


GREENFIELD: A year and a half later, Kennedy and Khrushchev went to the brink of nuclear war before the Soviet leader agreed to pull offensive missiles out of Cuba.

In 1980, Castro emptied his prisons, letting thousands of refuges and criminals and the mentally ill flee to the U.S. in the Mariel boat lift. The tensions caused by handling those refugees plagued President Carter. And disturbances at one military base in Arkansas helped defeat the governor, Bill Clinton. As you may know, he recovered.

And 20 years after that, the federal raid that seized 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives in order to return him to his Cuban father cost Al Gore tens of thousands of Cuban-American votes in Florida, more than enough to cost him the state and thus the White House. Indeed, it is those Cuban-American votes in Florida and other states like New Jersey that have helped keep rigid embargoes against trade and travel in place for some 40 years.

But there are some signs the atmosphere may be changing. Farm state politicians, Republicans and Democrats, have been trying to erase restrictions in order to open a market for their agricultural products. The Senate voted to ease those restrictions in its version of the farm bill, but the plan was dropped in conference.

And the once-united Cuban-American community in Florida is showing signs of fragmenting on the issue. A conference last March urged changes in American policy.

(on camera): There is still a high level of support for keeping the embargo as it is. Neither President Bush nor his brother, Jeb, the governor of Florida, up for reelection this November, shows any signs of weakening in their feelings.

So, at least for now, more than a decade after the end of the Cold War, more than 30 years after President Nixon opened the door to China, Cuba remains a nation isolated from a world that has changed down to its roots.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: President Carter arrives in Cuba Sunday for a five-day visit.

Up next: As Mother's Day approaches, you may be thinking about sending flowers. But should you also be thinking about the trade bill?


WOODRUFF: We think we're good here at INSIDE POLITICS, but we're not perfect. Just a few moments ago, we were discussing the Pennsylvania governor's race. And I mentioned Robert Casey Jr., who is a Democratic candidate for governor. When we talked about him, we showed you the picture, though, of his late father, Robert Casey Sr. Our apologies. And we will be right the next time we talk about that race.

This Sunday, as Americans present bouquets to their mothers, trade legislation working its way through Congress probably will not be on their minds.

But, as our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl explains, there is a connection.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're thinking about getting mom flowers for Mother's Day, chances are you won't be buying American.

(on camera): You've got a floral arrangement you've done here. Where do these flowers come from?

LORI BURCHETT, FLORIST: These are from Singapore. These are from Ecuador. These are from California, American. That's the only American thing, I think, in this arrangement. These are from Venezuela. These are from Costa Rica.

KARL (voice-over): At Bird's Florist (ph) in Washington, a lesson in how the trade bill could make mom's flowers a lot more expensive.

(on camera): If tariffs are put on these flowers, what would this do to the cost to this arrangement to me, the consumer?

BURCHETT: It would raise it by about a third.

KARL: So how much is this now? What does this cost?

BURCHETT: One hundred dollars.

KARL: That's a $100 arrangement.

BURCHETT: It would be $130.

KARL: One hundred and thirty dollars for mom. (voice-over): A more modest arrangement of a dozen roses would cost about $6 more if Congress doesn't renew a trade deal with South America that is about to expire.

That's because, without the deal, the U.S. would slap import taxes on agricultural goods such as flowers and asparagus from South America. And that would mean higher prices for consumers. But one group would be delighted to see the trade deal go away and the price of imported flowers go up, arguing South American growers shouldn't be given a break in the name of free trade.

LEE MURPHY, CALIFORNIA GROWERS ASSOCIATION: Free trade isn't fair trade. And the problem, basically, is that the Third World countries that are competing with the United States have a far lower cost of living. They have cheaper labor.

KARL: California flower growers say unfair competition from Latin America threatens to put them out of work. They say tariffs level the playing field. And, they insist, that means better flowers for mom.

MURPHY: If you want flowers that are going to give you the vase life, if you want flowers that have been timed to perfection, domestic flowers are the way to go.

KARL: Back at Bird's Florist, proprietor Lori Burchett says imported buds are better.

(on camera): First of all, which is which?

BURCHETT: Colombian.

KARL: So the Colombian looks a lot nicer than the California rose.

BURCHETT: Definitely.

KARL: What about cost? How much does that cost wholesale?

BURCHETT: These cost 33 cents. These cost 56 cents.

KARL: OK, so these are much cheaper and they are better quality roses?

BURCHETT: Correct.

KARL (voice-over): That may explain why 75 percent of the flowers bought in the U.S. are imported, a fact most people won't know when they buy flowers for mom.

(on camera): All right, well, you've got an order here. I will definitely take an order of this that I will bring home for Mother's Day.

(voice-over): Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: You better, Jon, or you're in big trouble. (AUDIO GAP)

... in Jerusalem with a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- Wolf, hello.


They were in the Church of the Nativity for five weeks. Now they're out. I'll have a personal account from a priest who was inside during those five weeks. Also, are the Israelis having second thoughts about going into Gaza? We'll have the latest, all that and the day's other major news coming up at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: In Texas, Democratic Senate candidate Ron Kirk says he is a little disappointed with President Bush's remarks about him. In an interview with a Dallas television station yesterday, Mr. Bush called Kirk an obstructionist, even though Mr. Kirk says the two had a good working relationship back when Mr. Bush was Texas governor.

Well, our Bill Schneider is now here with more on Texas politics -- Bill.


You know, some things that are done in Texas are just not done in Washington. And I'm not talking about table manners. I'm talking about things that can get you a slap on the wrist in Washington, and maybe even the "Political Play of the Week."


(voice-over): The "Austin-American Statesman" revealed that Mark McKinnon, the Bush campaign's media adviser, contributed $14,000 to Democrats running for senator, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Shock! Horror!

HARVEY KRONBERG, TEXAS POLITICAL ANALYST: I knew that the folks in D.C. were going to be surprised and some were going to be chagrined. But that's not at all uncommon here in Austin.

SCHNEIDER: Texas has a tradition of bipartisanship.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In order to get something done on behalf of the people, you have to put partisanship aside, and that's what we did in my state.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER: As governor of Texas, Bush embraced that tradition -- literally -- at his second inaugural, with Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, a Democrat.

This week, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tony Sanchez, started running an ad embracing the Texas tradition.


TONY SANCHEZ (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Bob Bullock, as you know, ran the state Senate. He was a Democrat. George W. Bush was governor, a Republican. But they reached across party lines to get things done for Texas. That's my model.


SCHNEIDER: Of course, you can take this bipartisan stuff too far, like in 2000, when one of Mark McKinnon's employees mailed a copy of a Bush debate preparation tape to the Al Gore campaign -- and got caught. That much sharing is just not done, even in Texas.

But was it so terrible for McKinnon to give money to his old friend and client, Ron Kirk, now the Democratic candidate for senator? Here is Kirk with another old friend in 1999.


RON KIRK: Help me welcome the governor of the state of Texas, George W. Bush.

BUSH: Thank you, Vice President Kirk.

KIRK: Oh, yes.



SCHNEIDER: Could Texas have it right and Washington have it wrong? That's a possibility. It's also the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: "This isn't about politics," McKinnon told "The Austin-American Statesman." "It's about blood." Blood loyalty over party loyalty, that's the Texas way.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you. Appreciate it.

CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." We thank you for joining us. Have a great weekend. I'm Judy Woodruff.


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