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Republicans Accused of Exploiting September 11; White House Denies Complicating Carter Trip to Cuba

Aired May 14, 2002 - 16:00   ET



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Democrats are accusing Republicans of exploiting September 11th to raise political cash.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King at White House where officials say there is nothing wrong with using the president's image to raise money. They also deny any effort to deliberately complicate Jimmy Carter's mission to Cuba.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider at the Rumba Cafe in Washington. Just look around here and across America and you'll find proof that these days, Cuban culture is cool.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Orlando, Florida. I'll tell you why Governor Jeb Bush is hitting mostly one note as he hits the campaign trail.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. The Democratic National Committee says it is -- quote -- "nothing short of grotesque." The DNC is pouncing on congressional Republicans for rewarding some donors with a photo of President Bush making phone calls aboard Air Force 1 on September 11th.

The National Republican senatorial committee and its House counterpart are offering that picture and two others to anyone who donates $150 or more to attend their joint fund-raising dinner next month. Republicans say the pictures depict defining moments of Mr. Bush's first year in office.

But DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe says -- quote -- "I would hope that even the most cynical partisan operative would have cowered at the notion of exploiting the September 11th tragedies in this way." Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is here.

John, what are they saying at the White House about all this?

KING: Well, they're saying a number of things, Judy. The headline begin, they say there's nothing wrong at all for a proud Republican Party to use the president's image to raise money at a time the president is popular. Now, the one photo that is most controversial is that photo of September 11th, the president calling the vice president from Air Force 1. That photo was taken by a White House photographer, someone on the government payroll paid for by the taxpayers. But the White House makes this distinction: it was released to news agencies, including CNN, and released to the public.

The White House says that the White House did not give that photo to the party. But the party bought it from a commercial agent after the Reuters News agency sold that photo. So the White House saying, no abuse of taxpayer dollars here at all.

The White House press secretary Ari Fleischer saying the Republican committee did check in with the White House, said they would use some photos of the president. He says the White House did not know that specific photo was involved. But he also says there's nothing wrong with this at all.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These are the pictures, each a representation of the president of the United States doing his job for the American people. And I think that it's an event for the party committees to decide if they want to make those pictures available to their contributors. They have the right do.


KING: White House officials saying in the past Democrats used photos of President Clinton to help raise money in fund-raising solicitations. Obviously, never an event like September 11th before in our history. So some raising questions about this.

A number of our producers on Capitol Hill asking Republicans, including the speaker, Dennis Hastert, the Senate Republican leader Trent Lott about this. They say they know very little about the details.

The White House saying the Democrats making much ado about nothing, But obviously because of September 11th, some controversy involved here -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, turning to a different story and that is Cuba. More questions today directed at the White House about the timing of these assertions that the Cubans may be transferring biological weapons technology to other countries. And all this coming up at a time that Former President Jimmy Carter is in Cuba.

KING: Again, the White House denying any ulterior motives for the timing of all this. The main headlines about these allegations, that perhaps Cuba was developing such a program, came from the assistant Secretary of State John Bolton in a speech he gave to the Heritage Foundation just last week, obviously just before President Carter's trip to Cuba.

The White House says that was an even scheduled by the Heritage Foundation, not by the White House, and there was no deliberate effort to raise these allegations --- or suspicions, is the better word, the administration says -- just before President Carter's trip. As evidence of that, they say another State Department official gave testimony to Congress about his back in March.

They also say that we in the news media are exaggerating what the administration is saying, saying the administration is worried about Cuban programs, not that the administration has made any direct allegation that Cuba is in fact developing such chemical or biological weapons -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting from the White House. Thank you, John.

In Cuba today, Former President Carter hailed the communist regime's contributions to battling AIDS after touring a facilities for patients with the disease. About two hours from now, Mr. Carter delivers a speech to the Cuban people, scheduled to be broadcast live and uncensored throughout the communist nation. Carter says he will discuss the differences between the United States and Cuban forms of government.

In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush is keeping an eye on Cuban issues and Cuban American support. But the Republican's message today was aimed at a broader audience, as he officially stepped out on the campaign trail. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is in Orlando.

Hello, Candy.

CROWLEY: How are you, Judy? We have been here in Orlando. This is Jeb Bush's campaign that he's just now starting. Yesterday, as you know, the Senate and the House in Florida, in Tallahassee, recessed after a special session. So this really is his first full day to go out and campaign.


(voice-over): The way the governor's team figures it, this is his first full day of campaigning for reelection. And Jeb Bush spent the first part of it at a school in Tampa and the second part of it at a school in Orlando.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If reelected, how do you plan to compensate for the loss of much-needed money in the public school system?

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: OK. Your question, by the way, is the question -- based on the applause, based on the comments I get through e-mail -- that I hear a lot. And as governor, it's a little frustrating because the actual numbers, you know, while they're not the kind of growth I would like to see this year, it's still an increase.

CROWLEY: It's worth mentioning here that during the time Jeb Bush was not campaigning for himself, he and his brother found time to raise money for the Florida Republican Party, which was campaigning for Jeb.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cares passionately. He listens astutely. And he really desires the best for Florida and Florida students.


CROWLEY: You begin to wonder what they'll use for a backdrop when school lets out for the summer. But if Jeb Bush's campaign is shaping up like a one-note song, there is reason.

MICHAEL GRIFFIN, "ORLANDO SENTINEL": And voters are saying in our polling that they don't believe the schools have gotten any better under Bush's watch. And in fact, some believe it got worse.

CROWLEY: And where Florida voters find fault, Democrats who would like to be governor find opportunity.

BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GOV. CANDIDATE: Public schools in Florida get a lot of lip service by this governor. They've been getting no money. They've been getting no real support.

CROWLEY: Up until a few weeks ago, education figured to be not the top issue in the Florida governor's race, but pretty much the only issue. And then a 5-year-old under state supervision was discovered missing, not seen or checked on for over a year.

QUESTION: Did the missing 5-year-old child change the shape of this race?

BUSH: No, I don't think. I don't think that it's a political issue. This has been a problem in our state for the last generation of time.

CROWLEY: With the worst fear, this is a touchy political subject, but a subject nonetheless.

JANET RENO (D), FLORIDA GOV. CANDIDATE: This is a problem not just in Miami-Dade County. It is a problem across the state.

CROWLEY: Too much is unknown and it's too early to tell whether a 5-year-old child can help shape an election. But the subject is out there as Jeb Bush begins his reelection bid.

Beyond issues, there is undertow to Bush's bid that cannot be either denied or measured at this point. It is the ghost of 2000. Ever since the presidential election, Democrats have targeted Jeb Bush as big game. Florida party leaders hope to use resentment at the election of George Bush to drive up voter turnout against Jeb.

But like everything else, 9-11 has changed the dynamic in Florida.

GRIFFIN: The animosity, the anger, it's not there now. That doesn't mean it couldn't be whipped up. But right now, I think the Democrats are going to have a tough time getting that kind of enthusiasm again.

CROWLEY: The Jeb Bush campaign of 2002 is trying hard not to make this a counterpoint to the George Bush campaign of 2000. Refusing national interview requests, the Jeb Bush campaign says adamantly, perhaps wishfully, this is not a national campaign. That is something they may need to tell the papers in Tokyo.


For all of this, Jeb Bush still looks pretty good down here. He has plenty of money and he leads by double digits. Janet Reno considered his most likely opponent. Still, increasingly young and increasingly diverse Florida is also increasingly Democratic. So consider this race competitive -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, that we will. Candy Crowley, thanks very much, in Orlando.

And now we want to bring in the Florida party chairman, Republican Al Cardenas and Democrat Bob Poe. Bob Poe, to you first. Is education going to be the main issue in this election?

BOB POE, FLORIDA DEM. CHAIRMAN: Education is going to be the major issue of this race. Jeb Bush talks about historic increases in education and the only problem with that is that they have been historically low. Two cents per child per day is not enough. We haven't reduced classroom sizes. These are things that we need to do to make our education system better.

WOODRUFF: Al Cardenas, only 2 cents a day and not decreasing size of classes?

AL CARDENAS, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: Oh, I don't think so. Listen, Judy, no one in Florida, including the governor, is happy at where education is. But if you compare it to where it was three years ago, we've made very significant and important gains.

The governor has had a clear vision. He's begun to implement it. Legislature has agreed with that. We've increased spending by 27 percent over the last four years. And he's got a great vision for the future, including just reading, stopping social promotion and doing other great things for our kids.

WOODRUFF: Bob Poe, it sounds like you're talking about two different states.

POE: It is, because they're not talking about the facts. They're talking about how they would like to position this issue. And in fact, when you look at the realty of it and you look at the money that Jeb Bush first cut from education in a recent special session, and then they had to today put it back in.

The "Palm Beach Post" reported today, it was only 8/10 of 1 percent of an increase. That's not very much. And that's not enough...


WOODRUFF: How do you...

CARDENAS: Judy, the governor was today in a school in Tampa that we saw Candy Crowley covering. It's a school where almost 95 percent of the kids qualify for the free meals. They're indeed below poverty level kids. Yet that school is doing extremely well in the F-CAT scores and everything else.

In talking to the principal there -- and Candy was there -- the principal said, you know, it's the governor's F-CAT scores that really got us on our toes. Not only have we become an A school in Florida and are doing very well, but here's a school comprised of minority and disadvantaged children outpacing the rest, because we have a principal who decided to take the governor's norms, initiatives and reforms, and put them to good use.

I think if everybody else follows in line, the state of Florida could be a great place for all of our kids to do very well.

WOODRUFF: We only have a little more than a minute left. Bob Poe, we know the Republicans have raised something like $10 million for this campaign just in the first quarter of the year. How can the Democrats hope to keep up with that?

POE: We've got a plan on that on our fund-raising. And we're right on our plan. But let me go back to what Mr. Cardenas just said about that school in Tampa, because he makes a very, very interesting point. And the point on that school is that it had very small class sizes -- smaller than class sizes are normally around the state of Florida. That's what helped make that school better.

And lower class sizes would make the schools better in Florida. And why won't Governor Bush support lower class sizes and sign the smaller class size petition? Why won't Chairman Cardenas sign that petition as well? That would make our schools better and that would be a demonstrable thing that they could do to help schools in Florida.

CARDENAS: The answer is very simple. We all want smaller class sizes. The question is how. If you do it all at once that, it will cost an incredible tax increase on the backs of taxpayers in Florida. We want to do it over a longer haul.

But to answer your question, Judy, the thing we're proudest of is the fact that -- not that we raised $13 million for the first quarter, but that 35,000 people contributed to our party, compared to about 3,000 to theirs. And I think that's what enables us the most, the fact that we're seeming to get broad support among the people who sent in the smaller, as well as the larger, contributions. And we think we're in pretty good shape.

WOODRUFF: All right, Al Cardenas, Republican, Bob Poe, Democrat. Gentlemen, thank you both. We'll be talking to you throughout the year. And now we look at a trend that has roots in Florida -- a trend that may be even more apparent this week because of a certain former president's travels. Here now our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: An estimated 60,000 Americans visited Cuba illegally last year. Most of them were probably not making a political statement. They were making a cultural statement. Everything Cuban is cool.


(voice-over): Cuba always had a raucous allure. Americans went there to play, to gamble, to experience forbidden pleasures. And you could go for the weekend, just like in "Guys and Dolls."

Cuba in those days meant Desi Arnaz, a serious musician who became Americanized and comical. What's been rediscovered in recent years is authentic Cuban culture -- a culture that survives in Cuba in a time warp.

More than anything else, that means music. Musician Ry Cooder went to Havana, where he searched out and literally rediscovered Cuba's great musicians. They found a whole new audience as the "Buena Vista Social Club." That movie's political message was unspoken but clear. In Castro's Cuba, these musical treasures were left to fall into poverty and neglect.

In the biographical film "Before Night Falls," the politics are fierce and outspoken: the Castro regime's terrible persecution of poet Renaldo Arenas for being a homosexual.

Something else has been discovered: an authentic Cuban-American culture. Miami's Little Havana, once the domain of old men playing dominoes and plotting to overthrow Castro, has been Yuca-fied, as in, young urban Cuban-Americans.

The two best known Cuban-American performers have bridged the gap between two cultures: smoldering actor Andy Garcia and pop singer Gloria Estefan. The two of them have also bridged the gap between the two political cultures. As passionate advocates of Cuban-American interests, and as passionate defenders of American values to the Cuban-American community.

It's not always easy. Last year the Latin Grammy Awards had to be relocated from Miami to Los Angeles to avoid a confrontation with Cuban-American protesters. In the protesters' view, honoring Cuban performers enhances the image of the Castro regime.

But Americans who go to Cuba today are a far cry from the left wing radicals who went to Cuba in the 1960s to help with the sugarcane harvest. Most of them go today to celebrate Cuban culture, not the Cuban revolution -- a culture that barely survived the revolution, but one that thrives in the U.S.

(END VIDEOTAPE) Today Fidel Castro is a kitch figure, a relic of the Cold War. To those who don't know too much about it, his picture is up on the wall here at the Rumba Cafe in Washington. "Historia me absolvera," Castro once said. "History will absolve me."

No, it won't. But history will absolve Cuba. Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

WOODRUFF: And we will return to the partisan finger-pointing over fund-raising and September 11th. Up next, the heads of the Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees go head to head on that subject and on the battle for control of the House.

Up for debate today, should churches be allowed to use money from their collection plates to pay for campaign attack ads?

And later, perhaps the most dogged lobbyist ever to go to Capitol Hill. This is INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: "On the Record" this Tuesday, the U.S. House and the November elections. Republicans hold an 11-seat advantage now. So a pick-up of just six seats would make the Democrats the majority. Twenty-nine seats are open. Twenty of those currently are in Republican hands. Nine will have to be defended by Democrats.

Our research finds only 18 incumbents can be considered vulnerable. Because of redistricting, there are seven races where incumbents are squaring off against each other. With me to talk more about the House election outlook, Democrat Nita Lowey of New York, Republican Tom Davis of Virginia.

To you first, Tom Davis. And I'm going to get to these numbers in just a minute. But on the story today that your committee, the Senate reelect committee, is using pictures of the president on Air Force 1 on September the 11th, on the phone with the vice president, in an effort to raise money.

Is this an appropriate way to raise money?

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: I hadn't seen it before the broadcast. But I'll tell you something. These pictures are in the public domain. You can get them at (ph). They are available to the public. It's not anything exclusive. And our donors, frankly, would like to have -- it's a series of pictures. It's not one picture.

For $150 they can get a matted and framed picture of the president in a number of different areas. In one of them, he's on the phone. We did the same thing last year. And somehow this has caused a lot of...

WOODRUFF: Same thing? You don't mean the same picture.

DAVIS: No, it was a set of different pictures. But it's the president on the phone. And no, I don't have a problem with it at all.

WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Lowey?

REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: Well, I was really disappointed that you and the Republican congressional campaign committee would use this picture. After all, after September 11th, we really worked together. And there was a bipartisan effort to ease the pain and the suffering in New York. And we agreed not to politicize it.

So here it is, just a short time afterwards. And this picture is being used to remind everybody of the president's activities. I just think it's inappropriate. I was surprised to see it.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Davis, I want to turn you quickly to something else, and that is the major Republican fundraiser in Washington tonight. You're going to break all records. The party is going to raise $30 million, we're told, at least.

You're not going to be able to hold these kind of high dollar -- neither one of you are going to be able to hold these high dollar amounts after November. What are you going to do their place and how much will it hurt you?

DAVIS: We're going to have to readjust. The Republican committee is showing a greater propensity to raise hard dollars, the federal dollars that we can use, than the Democratic committee. When you take a look at who has what in the bank, Republicans have more federal dollars and a lot less in the soft money. But this is kind of a last hurrah for those old dollars going to party committees.

After this election that money will stay with the interest groups. And what will happen is the candidates will cater right to the interest groups instead of to the party. This is a reworking of American politics.

In my judgment, what it does is it makes the party committees less effective and it moves power to interest groups. I think it's a sad day, but we'll get a big night tonight.

WOODRUFF: Power to the interest groups?

LOWEY: Well, first of all we're going to respond and we're going to deal with the rules as they are. I supported campaign finance reform. And when I got to the committee, the first thing I did is try to expand on direct mail lists, e-mail lists. We're using the Internet effectively.

Because I think it's important to increase small donor base. And we are going to deal with the rules. And the question is, how much cash on hand. The first year we raised 48 million. The Republicans raised 96 million. We had 17 million cash on hand, they had 20. So I guess we spend the money more wisely.

DAVIS: Twenty-one.

LOWEY: Twenty-one. DAVIS: But yours are soft dollars and most of ours are hard dollars. It's very important to understand that under the new rules, you're going to find we benefit under it, frankly.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both for predictions on these House races. We spoke earlier, all of the Democrats need would be six seats to win. But we've got what, just a dozen open seats. You have 18 vulnerable incumbents. You want to call it now, Congressman Davis?

DAVIS: You have to run campaigns. I headed the committee two years ago when every pundit in this town thought the Republicans would lose the House and the Senate was safe. So you never know for certain what's going to happen.

We feel very confident right now. But six months is an eternity in politics. And we have to go out and earn the voters' respect every day. I think right now the schedule and the playing field favors us. But that could change.

WOODRUFF: What chance do the Democrats have?

LOWEY: We think we have a great chance. But this is going to be fought on local issues -- local, local, local. And each candidate is going to have to articulate to their constituents why they deserve to get elected. We feel very optimistic, because look at the last...

WOODRUFF: Even with the Republican enormous advantage in money.

LOWEY: Well, you look, since 1862 every party in the White House lost seats in the House. And the last few cycles, they lost 27, we lost six. So we think we're on a roll. But it's going to be hard. We're going to all work very, very hard. And every candidate is going to have to explain to the voter why they deserve to win.

WOODRUFF: Quickly, Tom Davis, last year before this major Republican gala in Washington, big, big donors were invited to go to Mr. Cheney's residence. This time they're being invited to briefings with Bush administration officials. Obviously, there was criticism of this in the last administration. Is this something that you are comfortable with having?

DAVIS: There's nothing wrong with political leaders going out and talking to the faithful. That's what this is. These are donors, but they are the party faithful. They carry the message for us around the country. There's is nothing wrong with communicating our message to the faithful.

Now, what they aren't getting is some special inside view that's not available to other people. Just like these pictures the Democrats are complaining about. Anybody can buy it over the Internet. So we're not giving any special privileges, like the Lincoln bedrooms or pardons, for our dollars. So I feel comfortable with it, absolutely.

WOODRUFF: All right, we'll leave it there. You get a quick word. LOWEY: I think in the end, it's: we're going to preserve Social Security, they want to privatize it. We're going to cut the price of prescription drugs. And we're going to talk about the issues in this election. That's what it's really all about.

DAVIS: Except those aren't the issues and we don't want to privatize it.

WOODRUFF: All right.

LOWEY: You don't, but the president does.

WOODRUFF: Great to see you both. Tom Davis, Nita Lowey, Congress members, both. Thank you. We'll talk to you again very soon.

The United Nations makes changes to the sanctions against Iraq. Details next in the "Newscycle."

Plus, passing the collection plate for political purposes. Congress once again considers the line between church and state.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Newscycle": The Republican Party is facing tough criticism from Democrats for its decision to sell this photograph of President Bush to political donors. The photo was taken on September 11. Democrats accuse the Republicans of exploiting tragedy.

The man police say shot and wounded a Baltimore priest last night claims the priest had once molested him. The suspect, Dontee Stokes, turned himself in to police. Stokes, who is now 26 years old, claims that Father Maurice Blackwell molested him when he was a teenager. Blackwell was removed from a church post in 1998 for what a church spokesman called -- quote -- "credible allegations of child sex abuse."

The U.N. Security Council today voted unanimously to modify trade sanctions against Iraq. The new rules are scheduled to tighten restrictions on items that could be used for military purposes, while easing the flow of civilian goods.

And with me now: Michelle Cottle of "The New Republic" and Laura Ingraham. She is host of "The Laura Ingraham Show" on Westwood One Radio.

Thank you both for being here.



WOODRUFF: First, today Congress is holding a hearing on this legislation called the House of Worship Political Speech Protection Act. The question is: Should churches, houses of worship, be allowed to raise money that is going to be spent for political purposes?

Michelle, is this something that makes sense?

COTTLE: I'm just not sure what happened to the concept of the separation of church and state here. Churches are tax-exempt, with the understanding that these donations do not go to political actions here. If we're going change all the rules, we need to be talking about this a lot more than just in a House subcommittee.


INGRAHAM: I think a lot of conservatives, and now increasingly a lot of American Jews, are tired of the selective enforcement that's gone on with this particular prohibition.

And they think, "Well, why is it that it seems that more liberal- oriented churches have been able to get away with inviting Al Gore to speak, inviting Bill Clinton to speak"? And it's not per se using collection dollars to campaign, but they're making political statements. I think this is going to be a very tough sell to the Senate. So, I think it is an interesting development, but I wouldn't make any bets about this passage of this bill.

WOODRUFF: But is there a way to make a distinction between using money raised in a church for political purposes and using money for a perfectly legitimate religious purpose?

COTTLE: Well, that's ostensibly what the whole faith-based charity work -- you will be able to take these donations or even government money and use them for a charity work and whatnot. But that's substantially different than going out and doing kind of political work.

INGRAHAM: Well, remember, part of religion is spreading the word.

So, I think you have a lot of people out there saying, "Look, part of spreading the word, especially for Christians, is perhaps being anti-cloning, perhaps being anti-abortion." And there are a whole host of other issues. Now a lot of American Jews feel very strongly about our policy towards Israel. They would like to be able to push that issue a lot harder. And I think you're going to have this odd alliance now of American Jews, who traditionally were more Democratic, and American conservative Christians.


COTTLE: Go ahead.

WOODRUFF: Go ahead.

COTTLE: We make distinctions. We allow people to advocate positions, even with nonprofit organizations that run magazines, but they just can't advocate certain political electoral officials, that kind of thing. WOODRUFF: Different subject: Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, yesterday made a point of saying, "Until we have" -- and he's talking about Osama bin Laden -- quote -- "Until we have accomplished that objective" -- finding him, capturing him -- "I don't think we'll be able to come to closure in Afghanistan. I'm confident we'll eventually achieve it. I'm disappointed it's taken so long."

Is this going to be a problem, Laura, for the Bush administration?

INGRAHAM: I think it probably won't be a big problem electorally, because I think the American people know this a sticky wicket, this thing with bin Laden.

However, he is the poster boy for terrorism worldwide. I think the Bush administration has said consistently, "We want to get him." Obviously, it is slightly embarrassing that they haven't been able to find him yet. I don't think the American public is going to penalize the administration, however, in a few years if in fact bin Laden is never found.

COTTLE: Yes, I have to agree on some level, unless there's another attack that he is somehow behind, in which case then people will, probably unfairly, get upset with the Bush administration for not having tried harder. But I do think that it is incredibly embarrassing on some level that they haven't been able to do this with what they came out with after September 11, talking about how they were going to smoke him out of his caves.

WOODRUFF: But their point more recently in the last few months has been: "Yes, it would nice to get him. But the point is, there is this bigger the terrorist network out there and that, and even if we don't find him, there are others we need to focus on."

INGRAHAM: Yes, we're tracking down terrorists in the Philippines, in the Republic of Georgia, all across the Middle East. And I think that we know now that this war is a broad war. They've said that from the very beginning.

And I don't think too many American people are out there thinking, "Well, maybe someone who was leading the war against terror could have done a better job in finding bin Laden." This is a very difficult problem. We don't know if he's dead or alive. I'm not quite sure why Senator Graham decided to share that intelligence with the American people. A cynical me would say it was partly political, but he did say he had confidence that we would find him.

WOODRUFF: All right, we are going to leave it there. Laura Ingraham, Michelle Cottle, good to see you both.

INGRAHAM: Good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate you stopping by. Thanks.

We are going to take a break, INSIDE POLITICS when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The subject of former President Jimmy Carter's trip to Cuba came up just a few moments ago in the Oval Office. President Bush had something to say about it.

Let's go to our John King at the White House -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the president meeting with the prime minister of Malaysia, most of that discussion about the international war against terrorism.

But, in the question-and-answer session with reporters, the president was asked if his foreign policy was complicated at all by former President Carter's visit to Cuba. President Carter, of course, favors lifting the embargo, easing the U.S. economic restrictions against Cuba -- the president asked, though, if that complicated things. His answer was more than one word, but essentially boiled down to no.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate President Carter's focus on human rights. I think that's important in Cuba, in a place where there is no human rights.

First of all, it doesn't complicate my foreign policy, because I hadn't changed my foreign policy. And that is that Fidel Castro is a dictator. And he is repressive. And he ought to have free elections. And he ought to have a free press. And he ought to free his prisoners. And he ought to encourage free enterprise.

And my message to the Cuban people is: Demand freedom and you've got a president who stands with you.

And my message to Fidel Castro is precisely what I said. I'm going to deliver that message next Monday here. And then I'm going to go down to Miami for Cuban Independence Day.


KING: Well, you heard the president there. He will deliver that speech, again, here in Washington, then in Miami in Little Havana.

U.S. officials say the president will announce a new approach to his relationship with Cuba. But for anyone looking for an easing of the embargo, an easing of the restrictions, senior officials tell us they will hear something quite different, a very tough speech from the president come Monday -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King at the White House once again -- thank you, John.

We have the "Inside Buzz" on the Republican National Committee's black-tie presidential gala here in Washington tonight. With Mr. Bush himself as the big draw, the RNC is hoping to raise a record $30 million. Corporations buying a table pay top dollar of $20,000 each. The least expensive admission price, PACs and individuals pay $1,500 for a single seat. The 2,500 people expected to attend will be serenaded by the Mood Swing band. They will dine on saffron orange couscous, balsamic glazed beef tenderloin, and lemon cheese cake.

Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily" now: At this hour, California Governor Gray Davis is revealing his plan to cover the largest budget deficit in that state's history. The governor wants a mix of spending cuts, loans and tax increases. Davis, who is up for reelection this November, had said that he had no plans to raise taxes to cover the budget shortfall.

Former presidential candidate Bill Bradley plans to endorse Robert Reich later today in the race for Massachusetts governor. Reich, you may recall, broke with most Clinton administration veterans and endorsed Bradley over Al Gore in the 2000 Democratic presidential primaries.

Was Bruce Springsteen born to run for elected office? is now online, designed to convince the legendary rocker to enter the New Jersey Senate race. To get Springsteen's name on the November ballot, the Draft Springsteen Group says it needs 800 state voters to sign a petition by June 4. No word from Springsteen himself on attempts to make him a candidate.

There's a clash of generations in Newark, New Jersey -- our Jeff Greenfield on today's election for mayor and what could be the changing of the guard.


WOODRUFF: The candidates in today's election for mayor of Newark, New Jersey represent a stark contrast in style and background. The race has been bitter and tense. And federal observers, even, are on hand to make sure all run smoothly in the battle between longtime incumbent Sharpe James and newcomer Cory Booker.

Our Jeff Greenfield reports the race represents more than just the differences between young and old.


SHARPE JAMES (D), MAYOR OF NEWARK: I officially declare myself a candidate for reelection.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): It should have been a cakewalk.

JAMES: Tell mom Mayor James said hello.

GREENFIELD: Sharpe James has been mayor of New Jersey's largest city for more 16 years. He has the almost unanimous backing of New Jersey's dominant Democrats. The municipal labor unions are behind him. They know how to get out the vote.

CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: You're four times more likely to be murdered here than Patterson...

GREENFIELD: But if the polls are right, Mayor James is in a fight for his political life against 33-year-old Cory Booker, who wasn't even born when Sharpe James first entered public life.

(on camera): Both candidates are Democrats, but they are deeply divided over politics and policy. They are both African-Americans, but there is a deep racial divide here. And while the debate in this mayor's race is about the kind of city Newark is, it is in a sense overshadowed by Newark's past and by the potential future of one of its contestants.

(voice-over): This is how every story about Newark begins, with the 1967 riots that killed 26 people and marked the city as the poster child for urban pathology.

STEVE ADUBATO, POLITICAL ANALYST: That is the footage that marks us. And I challenge you to ever see a documentary on Newark without that footage. And what happens, for many people, that's all they see.

GREENFIELD: Mayor James says there is much more to see: a revitalized downtown marked by a gleaming new performing arts center, the promise of a new sports arena.

JAMES: You tell me that the people here do not have pride.

GREENFIELD: He calls it a renaissance.

BOOKER: We have failed to achieve the substance of a renaissance.

GREENFIELD: Cory Booker says Newark needs a renaissance for the rest of us.

BOOKER: We only have four out of 10 of our kids graduate from high school now.

GREENFIELD: Booker, graduate of Stanford, Oxford, Yale Law School, came here six years ago, won a council seat, gained wide attention by living in a trailer in the midst of some of the most drug-infested streets in the city.

Booker's youth and media savvy have won him national attention.

BOOKER: We've got to make a change in the city.

GREENFIELD: A future president, some call him.

Sharpe James says that Booker is an interloper, a stalking horse for a white establishment that wants to take the city back.

A small taste of the media campaign offers some sense of how bitter this campaign has become.


ANNOUNCER: Booker abandons public schools and leaves our children behind.



ANNOUNCER: He bought two vacation homes, a 46-foot yacht, and a Rolls-Royce.


GREENFIELD: So did a recent debate.

JAMES: I'm amazed at Mr. Booker's lack of knowledge.

BOOKER: Sharpe James keeps talking out of both sides of his mouth.

JAMES: Mr. Booker has not told one truth on this program.

BOOKER: Sharpe James may not have a future as a mayor, but he has one as a fiction writer.

ADUBATO: The question is, has Sharpe James stayed too long? Has he burned bridges with Newark voters, enough Newark voters to lose this race? I think this is going to be the closest race in the history of the city.


GREENFIELD: And, Judy, this race is so close that a third candidate in the race, who is not likely to get more than a fraction of the vote, could conceivably push these two major candidate into a run-off if neither of them gets 50 percent tonight.

WOODRUFF: So, Jeff, how do these sharp differences between Sharpe James and Cory Booker play out in terms of their competing visions here?

GREENFIELD: In terms of policy, Sharpe James is much more of a classic big-city liberal: government, public works, public schools. Cory Booker has at least flirted with the idea of vouchers. He has backed off on that, but he is for charter schools.

He is much more likely to look at privatization, kind of a market-based solution to some of these problems. So, that is part of what goes on here. It is a different generational look at how you solve big-city problems.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, we're glad to have you in Washington for a change.

GREENFIELD: Nice to be here.

WOODRUFF: Spend more time in this city.


WOODRUFF: All right, from the big screen to Capitol Hill. Up next: Another celebrity has a cameo role in the dog-eat-dog world of politics.


WOODRUFF: Julia Roberts, Michael J. Fox and a host of movie and TV stars have all recently testified before the Congress. But today, a truly unique celebrity known by just a first name promoted a pet cause on Capitol Hill.

Our national correspondent, Bruce Morton, tells the tale.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Benji -- you remember the Benji movies -- at the Capitol.

She -- yes this one's a she -- is here to lobby congressmen and senators -- this is Republican Connie Morella of Maryland's office -- on the benefits of adopting animals who, like Benji, come from shelters.

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, AMERICAN HUMANE ASSOCIATION: Two out of three dogs that enter an animal shelter will not be adopted and will be euthanized. And what Benji is going to help do is raise an awareness level across the country that animal shelters are great places to get great pets.

MORTON: Benji is very cute and very smart. Does she understand English? You decide.

REP. CONNIE MORELLA (R), MARYLAND: And since we have already dog biscuits in this office that Benji might just be willing -- he might be willing to go home with me tonight, if he can handle my hours.

MORTON: She has a lab and is clearly a dog person.

MORELLA: I know -- I happen to agree, and I know my husband particularly agrees with Harry Truman's statement that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

MORTON: After all, you won't get a friendly lick from a colleague.

Benji was a big hit on the Senate side, too. Here she is with Colorado's Wayne Allard, a veterinarian.

SEN. WAYNE ALLARD (R), COLORADO: The dogs, they are truly man's best friend. And we need to remember that.

Benji -- well, various Benjis -- have been in four movies since the 1970s, and done TV work, too. Joe Camp, who created the character and directs the movies, thinks this Benji may be the smartest one. She starts shooting her first film next month.

JOE CAMP, BENJI CREATOR: She just picks up on things so quickly that I imagine it would be a pleasure to work with her in a movie -- much better than humans.


MORTON: What did Harry Truman say? If you want a good actor, get a dog?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: It sure never hurts to get your picture taken with a dog.

Just ahead: more INSIDE POLITICS, but first let's go to Tel Aviv for a preview of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Judy, here in this part of the world, people have to live on a day-to-day basis with the possibility of additional terrorism. We'll take a close look at what it means to be an Israeli in this time. We'll speak to an expert on terrorism here. We'll also explore the possibility of these kind of soft-target terrorist attacks spreading to the United States.

All that and much more coming up at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Now a look at what's in the works for tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: Following up on today's budget announcement by Gray Davis, we'll have an inside look at the California governor's race. Also tomorrow, actress Laura Dern will be on Capitol Hill. We'll talk to her about her latest role as political activist.

And one extra note: Later tonight, I'll be sitting in for Aaron Brown on CNN's "NEWSNIGHT." Among my guests will be White House adviser Mary Matalin.

CNN's coverage continues now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Thank you for joining us. Wolf is live from Tel Aviv.

I'm Judy Woodruff.


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