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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

White House Computer Disk Falls in Hands of Democrats; Gore Spokesman Shares Inside Story; Interview With Gov. Bill Owens

Aired June 14, 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. The White House is cringing and some Democrats are smiling, about the case of the missing computer disk.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King in Washington. I'll walk you through what was supposed to be a White House slide presentation for Republican eyes only, and show you how closely the president's policy initiatives back his political priorities.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington, where a call to stop playing politics wins the political play of the week.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead: Al Gore's unmentionables, exposed. A Gore spokesman who was there shares the inside story.

Thank you for joining us. It has all the makings of a two-bit mystery novel, or perhaps a skit on "Saturday Night Live." The White House says that an intern was carrying a computer disk back to the office from a Washington hotel, after a presentation to Republicans by White House senior adviser Karl Rove and political director Ken Mehlman.

The disk reportedly was lost en route, and then found by, of all people, a Democratic Senate aide. Our senior White House correspondent, John King, has the details of what was on that disappearing disk.

KING: The presentation -- not so private anymore -- offers an inside look at how the White House views the political landscape for this year's midterm elections, and how it hopes to use the president's time and popularity to help Republicans.

In the first part of the presentation, the White House political director Ken Mehlman makes the point that, in his view, Republicans have much more to worry about. This slide suggests there are 25 House Republicans who are vulnerable. They're highlighted here in blue on the map. That compares, in the White House view, to only 10 vulnerable Democratic House incumbents. They are highlighted by the red dots you see here.

Now, one goal of this presentation is to motivate Republican activists and fund-raisers. This slide makes note of the fact that groups that tend to support the Democrats -- like unions, abortion rights activists and gun control advocates -- spent more than $125 million back in Campaign 2000.

In his part of the presentation, top Bush political adviser Karl Rove makes the case that the president's political standing is critical to Republican chances, come November. This slide shows that in midterm elections, the president's party loses, on average, 41 House seats, if the president's job approval rating drops below 50 percent.

The traditional midterm House losses are far more modest, just 5 seats on average, if the president's approval rating tops 60 percent -- a luxury Mr. Bush enjoys at the moment.

Now, Rove and strategy briefing recommends that Republicans focus on the war on terrorism and the economy, that they promote issues like education and welfare, and that they accuse the Democrats of obstructing the president's agenda.

And as he promises that Mr. Bush will aggressively campaign and raise money to help the party this fall, Rove suggests that there is no evidence that Mr. Bush is being hurt politically, either by Democratic efforts the highlight the White House ties to the now- bankrupt energy giant Enron, by the state of the economy, or by his recent increase in political campaigning and fund-raising -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, thank you, John. John will be back later to tell us how the White House is making good on some of the political goals that are spelled out in that confidential computer disk.

Now let's turn to CNN political analyst Stu Rothenberg of the "Rothenberg Political Report" for a little bit more on this. Now, Stu, what has some Republicans upset, anyway, is the now the open acknowledgement by the White House that they are worried very much about New Hampshire and Arkansas. What about that?

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, Judy, I think some of the problem is the classification here, and the language that's used by Ken Mehlman. The strong chance of a G.O.P. pickup, or strong chance of a Democratic pickup.

I actually called up to New Hampshire, and spoke to someone from the Bob Smith campaign, about these categories. They said to me, and I quote, "Everyone knew the New Hampshire Senate race was going to be competitive from the get-go. The Democrats have a good candidate, the best they could get," referring to Governor Jeanne Shaheen.

So their attitude is, in a sense, this is much ado about nothing. Everybody knew this was going to be a race. The problem is, we don't expect politicians, particularly in the White House, to be as forthright about this, in classifying races.

I actually think that Ken Mehlman made something of a mistake, here. When I look through some of these races, I just think the classifications are wrong. Now, maybe he's not looking -- this was not to be an issue of the "Rothenberg Political Report," as I understand it.

This is a briefing for the White House, to try to raise money, briefing by the White House Republican contributors, to try to raise money, create energy. And so, I think we may be making a mistake, to go through this with quite the microscope that we're using.

WOODRUFF: And you did mention Arkansas. We gather that Senator Hutchinson is not pleased. That, in fact, that Ken Mehlman had to call him and apologize.

ROTHENBERG: My understanding was that he has called him repeatedly. The people close to Hutchinson tell me that this rating is inconsistent with other behavior for the White House. They really don't understand it.

Their view is,again, this is a fund-raising power play. Somebody said to me, however, that this gives them a good deal of leverage in the future, for dealing with the White House. Somebody said: I have a laundry list of things now, we'd like to ask from the White House. And I'm sure that Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove are going to have to be more responsive.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you how you explain it. But particularly, talk about some of the Senate races, the five Senate races, that they classify as potential G.O.P. pickups.

ROTHENBERG: This is a particularly -- I think what's particularly interesting about this whole disk, that was first alluded to by "The Washington Post," and then reported by Ed Henry of "Roll Call," in "Roll Call" daily, was the sheer existence of it.

But when you go beyond that and you look at this, the idea that Max Cleland and Tim Johnson, Cleland of Georgia and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, in the same category of vulnerability is just dopey, it's silly. They're not. Johnson is much more vulnerable than Max Cleland.

But then go down to other ones. In Hawaii, there were possible chances for a G.O.P. pickup. Hawaii is listed. Hawaii is an absolute toss-up. It is a very good chance that is not a possible chance. It ranks a lot better than some of these "strong chances."

If you look at areas, supposedly there is no contest for G.O.P.- held seats, for governors in Kansas and in South Dakota, these are tossups, Judy. This is not no contest.

On the other hand, if you look over "possible chances for a Democratic pickup," Ken Mehlman of the White House lists Colorado -- this would be Governor Bill Owens, and Ohio Governor Taft. Neither one is in a serious race right now. So, I think...

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that the White House political people don't know what they're talking about?

ROTHENBERG: No, if you have talked to Ken Mehlman, if you know Karl Rove, you know they're on top of this. But it suggests to me that there is something stale, here, that this is a list they put together that they're using for fund-raising.

They're not using it to -- they're not trying to get subscribers off this list, although it seems to me that Ken Mehlman probably needs to call me to subscribe. But, I think that they're not looking at it the way you are. They're just trying to goose some of these races to get contributors to write checks.

Now, if we were evaluating every one of these races, I think we'd probably have to give this list, maybe a C-minus. But I think that there are a lot smarter than that.

WOODRUFF: Stu Rothenberg, appreciate it. Good to see you.

ROTHENBERG: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Well, as we've been telling you, many Democrats are saying, no doubt, I told you so, to the revelation of private, political moves inside the White House. They're also raising some serious questions. Here now, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

Candy, you've been talking to some Democrats today. Do they think they can make political hay out of this?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're going to try. We've already seen that there are e-mails going on around to reporters, saying, let's remember that Rove and Mehlman are paid for by taxpayer money. They're not supposed to be doing this sort of thing in the White House.

They know that there's a White House logo, on the outside of this briefing. There are any number of things that they think they can make hay on -- whether or not this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE), sort of a summer squall. We're used to those in Washington, in terms of politics.

The other thing that I think is interesting is they pounced on the fact that under the list of priorities, and what they were going to campaign on, it said the war and the economy.

This is proof, they say, that the Republicans are using the war to profit politically. When I pointed out that Karl Rove sort of said something along those lines several months ago, they say: Yes, well, now it's on paper. So, they're going to try.

WOODRUFF: Candy, what about -- there's a quote that some people have picked up on at the very end of this, from longtime New York Congressman Charles Rangel, which -- and they describe him not as "D- New York," but "D-Harlem."

And it goes on to say: "He drew cheers when he hailed Bill Clinton as 'the last elected president of the United States' and said, "it's our job to say we're not getting over Florida'" What are Democrats saying about that?

CROWLEY: Well, it depends on which Democrats you talk to. The real, hardball partisan ones are out there trying to win elections say, look, this is clearly that they're putting Charlie Rangel out there because he's a well-known, high-profile African-American, which rouses the Republican base, because it reminds them that, you know, an African-American may become chairman of a committee if they lose the House. That kind of thing.

The White House explanation is a little simpler. They say, look, we sort of took that paragraph right out of one of the New York papers, and he was described as instead of "D-New York," "D-Harlem." And I have to tell you, I talked to Charlie Rangel and he said he didn't see any sort of racist implications. He said, I didn't take it that way.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

Wildfires and political heat next on INSIDE POLITICS, as blazes rage in Colorado. Has Governor Bill Owens perhaps scared away some tourists? We'll ask him.

As bishops near a vote on a new policy to deal abusive priests, we will hear from Washington's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

And later, soccer star Mia Hamm on American interests in the World Cup and the politics of women's sports.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Weather improved, and that helped Colorado firefighters today in their battle against the 150-square-mile wildfire south of Denver. For more on the status of the blaze, and efforts to bring it under control, I'm joined "On the Record" today by Colorado's Governor Bill Owens.

Governor, can you bring us up to the moment on what the status is?

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: Judy, you're right. Colorado's weather in the last 36 hours has improved, where we're being able to finally get a handle on some of these fires. We still have nine major fires burning in the state of Colorado. We've been able to start to contain several of them.

We still have that 150-square mile fire about 35 miles southwest of Denver. That is only about 10 percent contained. So we've got some real challenges ahead of us. What we need is some moisture to really make sure that this summer improves for Colorado in the near future.

WOODRUFF: Well, FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh has said in the last few days that this is the worst fire he's ever seen. Have you been able to compare it, to contrast it, with other fires, to find out just how serious a situation you have?

OWENS: Judy, I have, because we've have had a number of fires over the years. But to give you a measure of how this fire season is different, in the last 8 years, we have had eight fires in the state of Colorado which received federal designation.

In the last six weeks, we've had 11 of these fires. The fire that we've mentioned is the largest in Colorado's history. We're in the worst drought in Colorado's history -- two percent of our normal snowpack for June 14.

So, what we really need is some help from Mother Nature. We have been receiving great help from our friends in Washington D.C., from FEMA. Now we need some help, in terms of more moisture.

WOODRUFF: There were some predictions that it could be as long as September before they get these fires out? Are you -- I mean, is that something you're taking seriously?

OWENS: Well, I am. And I'm not a fire professional, but that's what some of the folks on the line tell us, that if the weather doesn't cooperate, we very well could see this fire burn for some significant time.

We're hoping that we get a rainstorm, that we get some -- we actually still occasionally get snow in mid-June, in some of these Colorado Rockies. We need some help from the weather. But otherwise we're going to have fires all through the summer, I'm afraid. And that's a concern for all of us.

WOODRUFF: Governor, there has been some criticism, that Colorado didn't have enough of a centralized plan for fighting fires, no state fire marshal, I'm told. Are you looking -- having another look at your ability at the state level to deal with these things, and preventing them and getting a handle on them before they get out of control?

OWENS: Well, you know, Judy, obviously, you always look at situation like this as a way to learn. And we're going to examine what we do, in Colorado. But, I can assure you, as a person who has been on the scene at many of these fires, that a state fire marshal wouldn't have made any difference in Hayman or Glenwood Springs or Durango.

What we're facing here is, a large amount of fuel that's very, very dry. We've had forestry management practices that haven't really allowed us to try to defend against these fires. We're hoping to change that. We're getting a lot of help from Washington, D.C.

But with the toughest drought in our history and with not much snowpack left, we're facing some real challenges. We're going to learn from it. But in fact, at this point, Mother Nature is the real culprit.

WOODRUFF: Governor, obviously a very serious situation. You were quoted a few days ago as saying, "all of Colorado is burning." At another point you said the city of Denver is as dark as a nuclear winter. The mayor of Denver then took it upon himself to call a news conference, go on TV, and say, Denver is not on fire, life is going on, there is concern about tourism.

OWENS: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Did you and others perhaps overstate the situation at all?

OWENS: No, not at all. And in fact, I said that figuratively, that all of Colorado was burning. We were in Glenwood Springs. We were wanting to really tell the residents that we were with you, and that this impact was something that was affecting all four million Coloradans. It was and it is.

And so I work well with Mayor Webb. He just nominated my Democratic opponent for governor. And it's a political year, so I understand that in a political year sometimes people try to take -- make politics out of what is a statewide tragedy.

I called it like I saw it. And we face Colorado's most significant challenge, I believe, in a decade, in terms of these fires. And I'm going to do everything I can to alert Colorado to the challenge we face.

WOODRUFF: A quick last question about nuclear waste being shipped across the state, in trucks. The state of South Carolina, the South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges, says he's so concerned he's thinking about sending state troopers out to block the roads, so that there aren't nuclear -- there aren't shipments of nuclear materials. We know this is becoming, or may well become, an issue in your race for reelection. What's your position on this?

OWENS: My position is very simple. I think we live in one country and we have a national constitution, that tells us that governors aren't able to stop interstate commerce. I have been in a position before when I could have done what my friend Jim Hodges is now doing. I could have politicized this issue. I chose to work with Secretary Bill Richardson on finding a way to solve this question, of...

WOODRUFF: So you're saying what he did was purely political?

OWENS: You know, I think that Jim Hodges is in a tough election. And I think he needs to obey that federal law, obey that federal court decision, which came down yesterday, and allow this nation to start to bring some sort of sanity to this question of: how do we store and process nuclear waste?

WOODRUFF: All right, Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, we thank you very much.

OWENS: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And of course, we wish everyone involved in that firefighting the very best. Thank you, Governor.

OWENS: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan are here next to look at the White House computer disk caper, just ahead. Also, late developments from the conference of Catholic bishops, and comments on church policy by Cardinal Theodore Mccarrick.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Among the stories in our "Newscycle," President Bush said today the U.S. is at war with what he calls -- quote -- "radical killers." He made the remarks following today's car bombing outside the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Eleven people were killed, dozens of others injured. All those killed were Pakistani nationals.

A man being sought for questioning in the Elizabeth Smart case may have been spotted in Texas. Texas officials say a man matching the description of Bret Michael Edmund is suspected in a series of car thefts in Utah, Texas and New Mexico.

Catholic bishops meeting in Dallas are considering a policy for handling abusive priests which would remove offenders from public ministry. The bishops have been leaning toward a policy of zero tolerance, although a report quotes a Vatican official who says zero tolerance may not meet with Vatican approval.

In an interview with CNN, the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, said regardless of the final details, the new policy will protect children.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: According to what looks like will be in the document, what we voted on this morning, what seems to be the language that everyone is accepting, any priest -- I think any priest in the future who does this will be (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think that goes without saying. Any priest who has done this in the past, they will be taken out of public ministry.

QUESTION: Then what will happen to them?

MCCARRICK: They'll do nothing as a priest. They'll either go to a monastery, or to some religious house, or they themselves will look for laicization. Or, if the crime had been pedophilia -- and they're sick men -- I think we probably will look immediately to laicize them, to deprive them of the clerical status.

People don't like the word (UNINTELLIGIBLE) deprive them of clerical status. And then, the ones who are not laicized -- we'll have to have a place for them to stay, maybe a monastery, maybe a religious house, where they will quietly celebrate mass themselves, and pray, and do penance for the people of God, for everybody else.

But they will not be able to do public ministry. And therefore, the priests who have had this problem will be removed from being able ever to hurt a child. And that's what we promise to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A vote by bishops on the plan is expected later today. Returning now to our lead story, the confidential analysis by the president's top political advisers that reportedly was dropped by an intern and then found by a Democratic Senate aide. Our John King has been looking at that analysis and how the Bush administration has been following through on it.

KING: This is a president whose fond of saying he pays no attention to the polls. But this inside look at White House strategy shows how closely policy initiatives and presidential travel track political priorities. In a slide presentation that was meant for Republican eyes only, top Bush political adviser Karl Rove details the president's major goals for the midterm election year.

One, is maintaining support of key voting blocs: coal and steel states, for example. A few weeks back, Mr. Bush announced controversial tariffs on imported steel, and just yesterday eased environmental restrictions on coal-fired power plants.

Farmers also get a mention. Mr. Bush recently made a big deal out of signing a farm bill that many conservatives complain is loaded with government subsidies. Expanding support among believers -- meaning religious Americans -- is another White House political priority.

Just Tuesday, the president spoke via satellite to the southern Baptist convention in St. Louis. Another top priority is growing the president's support among these groups: Latinos get a mention. Mr. Bush this afternoon stopped by a Mexican-American summer camp in Houston.

Catholics -- the president has met twice with Pope John Paul II. Union members are another priority. Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa was among the president's guests at the State of the Union address. Mr. Bush will address the carpenters union next week.

Improving the president's standing among African-Americans also is listed as a top White House priority. Mr. Bush lost that constituency by a more than 9-1 margin back in Campaign 2000.

And as Mr. Bush tries to help Republicans in this year's midterm elections, the White House slide presentation also makes quite clear he's already looking ahead to his own re-election campaign in 2004. This slide highlights states the White House labels "special concerns."

Florida is one -- a state decided in the courts in the last election, and one Mr. Bush has already visited nine times in just 16 months as president. Iowa is another example. The president lost Iowa by just 4,000 votes in campaign 2000, and has already visited six times as president.

Now, some Democrats are complaining that taxpayer dollars should not be used to advance the president's political interests. But that complaint is being brushed aside by the White House. Press secretary Ari Fleischer sarcastically says he is "shocked" to discover the president's top political aides are spending their time worrying about politics -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, thanks.

With us now, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Donna, what is the significance of this? I mean, clearly, as John suggests, we shouldn't be shocked that they're worrying about politics inside the White House. So what is the significance of this?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well no, we're not shocked that they're worried about politics. What we are appalled by is the hypocrisy, here. This is an administration that campaigned on the outrage that the Clinton White House was so-called political.

Look, the White House office of politics, or the political affairs shop, should be there to coordinate information from the various Republican committees and the RNC, but not generate documents and generate material on using taxpayers' dollars and taxpayers' equipment to put out this type of information. So, I think that is where the outrage is. And that is why people are so shocked that the White House is engaged in this type of political activity.

BAY BUCHANAN, AMERICAN CAUSE: Donna, come on now. You don't even believe that yourself. There's nothing in this story. It's nothing about nothing whatsoever. You have a political operation in the White House, as every president has as long as I've been working.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: But they're not generating documents on taxpayers' time using taxpayers' resources and using...

BUCHANAN: Listen, Donna...

BRAZILE: If Karl Rove wants to run the political operation of the Republican National Committee, he should change jobs and go over to the RNC.

BUCHANAN: Donna, there is nothing in that report that I did not know already. And I am not doing a lot of that work. I'm just reading. "The COOK Report" I read 10 days ago, everything in there is in "The COOK Report."

I think the shame here is that Mr. Charles Cook didn't get some credit for the information. They are just e-mailing information that is out there now, consolidating it, and just briefing Karl Rove on what the situation is. There's nothing new. The guy is doing his job. And it doesn't look like it is too hard of a job either.

BRAZILE: They're doing a job that the taxpayers should not be paying for. The RNC should be paying for it.

BUCHANAN: What are they paying for, e-mailing? What are they paying? They are doing nothing.

(CROSSTALK) BRAZILE: They are paying to generate documents that show where the president's party is vulnerable this election cycle.

Look, we have 144 days. And if I was working for Tim Hutchinson...

BUCHANAN: You guys are desperate.

BRAZILE: ... Tim Hutchinson in Arkansas or Bob Smith in New Hampshire, I would be worried that the White House was putting out a document that said that they were going to lose.

BUCHANAN: You Democrats are so utterly desperate just trying to find some kind of scandal in the fact that this disk is out there. It's unbelievable to me, Donna. I'm interested to know that your Louisiana senator, Mary Landrieu, is in trouble. I think that's great news.

BRAZILE: No, she's not.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly to both of you, to the bishops conference going on, it looks like it is not going to be completely zero tolerance, but it is going to be at least pulling people who have ever committed -- a priest -- ever committed any sort of abuse at least out of an active ministry. They're talking about possibly to a monastery.

Either one of you?

BUCHANAN: Yes.

I don't have a problem with that. I think zero tolerance is to get them out. If they want to put them in monasteries and have them pray the rest of their lives, I think that is absolutely fine, as long as they're in no contact whatsoever with young people at all. And I don't know how they can really even advise adults at this time in their life.

WOODRUFF: Even if they have committed, even if they were...

BRAZILE: I disagree with Bay.

Bay, I think there should be a zero tolerance across the board. I think we should hold the bishops who held these secrets for so long accountable. And I think that the bishops and the archbishops and all others should answer to not just the Vatican and to the Lord, but also answer to the parishioners and to the souls that they're trying to uplift.

So, I think there should be a zero tolerance and there should be no role in the church for anyone who would harm or abuse a child.

BUCHANAN: I agree. And I think there is some zero tolerance here. I really do believe that. But I think you make a good point.

They are not even addressing the fact that there are bishops and cardinals who have protected these people. BRAZILE: Absolutely.

BUCHANAN: And that has to be addressed. They're not going to get away with it if they don't.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. We'd love to keep going. And we'll see you both next week.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, thank you.

The "Inside Buzz" with Bob Novak is next. Bob also is following the trail of the lost-and-found White House computer disk. He'll tell us what he's hearing about the fallout.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michigan Democrat Donald Albosta says, through his subcommittee's investigations, he now assumes Reagan campaign staffers did not take debate briefing materials from the Carter White House. Instead, he believes members of the Carter White House obtained and gave the papers to the Reagan campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: A flashback from the summer of '83. Congress was investigating revelations that the Reagan campaign used a briefing book secretly obtained from the Carter camp to prepare for one of the 1980 presidential debates. Well, it turned out that there was a mole with access to the Carter White House.

Now we have more on the current example of confidential political information that falls into the wrong hands. Our Bob Novak is on the "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University with the "Inside Buzz."

All right, Bob, you have been talking to a lot of people today. What are they saying at the White House and elsewhere about this computer disk?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, aside from the terrible shock that the political aide at the White House is practicing politics on company time, which they have been doing -- on government time -- they've been doing for a long time, the real problem with this is that it is very embarrassing to Senator Tim Hutchinson, Republican of Arkansas, who was depicted as a vulnerable person against Attorney General Mark Pryor.

Now, Mark Mehlman (sic), the White House aide who prepared this analysis, called up Senator Hutchinson, apologized all over the place, said it was bad information. But I can tell you -- old information -- but I can tell you, Senator Hutchinson was not happy about the headlines in today's Arkansas papers. And he is a little bit browned off at the White House.

WOODRUFF: All right, a different story: You have been following the terrorism bill. Now, what's the connection between that and casinos?

NOVAK: This is how Washington works, Judy.

They couldn't get -- in the Democratic Senate, they just couldn't get up the terrorism insurance bill to provide help for insuring buildings for terrorism. It passed the House in December. And the Senate majority whip, Harry Reid, was not interested in bringing it up. But suddenly, he brings up the bill. It's sweeping through. It's going to pass next Tuesday.

What happened? On June 5, the chief lobbyist in Washington for the gambling industry, Frank Fahrenkopf, wrote a letter to the leadership of both parties, saying it would be dreadful if this bill didn't pass; 365,000 casino workers would lose their jobs. Now, the casino industry is a big industry in Nevada. Harry Reid is from Nevada. That bill went straight to the floor.

WOODRUFF: All right, finally, last but not least, there's a New Jersey House seat, Marge Roukema's seat. She's stepping aside, retiring, but there's a wrinkle there? What's going on?

NOVAK: Well, she has not endorsed anybody for election to her seat. The Republican nominee, Scott Garrett, she opposed in the primary because he opposed her twice in the last two Republican primaries. She barely beat him last time. And she hates Scott Garrett, who's a conservative. She's a moderate.

The buzz now is around that she may endorse the Democrat, Anne Sumers, who is her former political aide. And that's a very strong Republican district in Bergen County, New Jersey. But if Marge Roukema endorses the Democrat, that seat could be in danger.

And, you know, Judy, every seat counts in this race for who controls the House of Representatives.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak.

And, Bob, I have just been told in my ear that you said Mark Mehlman a minute ago, but we know you meant Ken Mehlman...

NOVAK: Ken Mehlman, I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: ... the White House political director.

NOVAK: Yes, I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: You never make a mistake.

NOVAK: I make lot of mistakes, but you always correct me. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Novak, thanks a lot. See you next time.

And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": The Arkansas Republican Party has created a video to use against Democratic Senate nominee Mark Pryor. The tape is designed to discredit Pryor's credentials as a self-described frugal conservative by linking Pryor to Senator Ted Kennedy and by spotlighting a recent Washington fund-raiser at the upscale Palm Restaurant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, ARKANSAS GOP AD)

NARRATOR: You'd expect to see a rich man like Ted Kennedy here: pro-gun control, pro-abortion Ted Kennedy, who gets a 96 percent liberal rating from "The National Journal." He's here for a $5,000-a- plate fund-raising for -- conservative Mark Pryor?

Oh, wait. Here's Mr. Pryor arriving for his big evening with his liberal buddies. He spots a camera. Better not be seen using valet parking. It might blow his frugal claim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Republicans say they plan to run that video on Arkansas cable television. A Pryor campaign consultant described the video as -- quote -- "silly." Mark Pryor faces Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson, as we've telling you during this program, in November.

Well, he was vice president and almost president of the United States, but up next: evidence that Al Gore's days of high flying are gone, maybe for now. We'll have the inside story of a grounding moment at the airport when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It's a scene we're all familiar with at airports around the country: passengers randomly chosen for additional baggage screening. But it's not an everyday event when airport workers rifle through the suitcase of the former vice president of the United States.

Well, Al Gore spokesman Jano Cabrera was there to see it all.

Jano Cabrera, you were with him. He was on his way to Milwaukee. It was here in Washington at Reagan Airport. What happened?

JANO CABRERA, GORE SPOKESMAN: That's right.

It was funny. A funny thing happened on the way to Wisconsin, Judy. They pulled him out of line. They asked him, "Is it is OK if we go through your stuff, Mr. Vice President?"

He said, "Sure. Of course."

And they opened up his suitcase. They rifled through. They gave him an A-OK. And he flew on to Wisconsin.

WOODRUFF: Did they not recognize him? CABRERA: Well, unless they call everybody "Mr. Vice President" when they pull them out of line, they certainly recognized him. And he was fine. He was more than happy to cooperate.

WOODRUFF: And they did it again in Milwaukee, right?

CABRERA: Right. After he gave a speech, which was well received by the 1,600 political activists there in Madison, he was also, once again, pulled aside in Milwaukee and asked if they could go through his stuff once again. And, once again, he graciously said, "Of course."

WOODRUFF: Now, how often -- you were telling me this has happened before. How often, would you say?

CABRERA: This has happened before. I don't know, but he travels quite a bit. And he told me that this isn't anything new to him. And it has happened in the past.

WOODRUFF: How does he really feel about it, the fact that he was -- he had security. He travels on Air Force Two. And now he is having to have people going through -- strangers go through his luggage.

CABRERA: Sure.

He understands that we're in a new environment now. And part of that new environment means that we have to give up certain things and we have to be more patient at airports. And we have to do our part, everyone, for airport security. And so he was more than happy to cooperate.

WOODRUFF: All right, well, Jano Cabrera, spokesman for former Vice President Al Gore, if he can be patient, the rest of us can be patient.

CABRERA: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

CABRERA: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. We appreciate it.

Up next: Have you been watching the World Cup? Soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Mia Hamm talks to us about her sport and how it plays in the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: These are live pictures from Dallas, where Catholic bishops are meeting and casting ballots now on what the policy should be to deal with priests who have committed sexual abuse against a minor.

As we know, the bishops had discussed a policy of complete zero tolerance. But, as the day has worn on, we have learned that what they apparently are talking about is zero tolerance going forward. But, in some instances, priests accused of sexual abuse in the past, they would be permitted to go to a monastery, to another religious institution, where they would no longer be in an active ministry. Again, the bishops are voting now. And, of course, as soon as we have the results of that vote and they make it public, we'll share it with you.

A very different story now: The United States advanced to the second round of the World Cup today despite losing its match to Poland 3-1. The U.S. team still finished second in its group, so it moves on to play Mexico on Monday.

A little earlier today, I spoke with Mia Hamm. She's a star on the U.S. team that won Olympic gold in 1996 and the women's World Cup in '99. I asked her reaction to the success of the men's team.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIA HAMM, PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: I think it's great. I think it's great for those guys. I know they have worked hard. And they're up against a lot in this country. And soccer isn't a big sport here in the U.S, so they compete every day and they're selling their sport.

And the men have made an unbelievable push to legitimize themselves. And these guys can play. I think that's what everyone is learning outside the soccer community, that these guys are legit. And I'm just so happy for them getting into the second round.

WOODRUFF: How do you explain the fact that more Americans play soccer -- it is the highest-participation sport in the country -- but the interest in it is not as high? How do you account for that?

HAMM: Well, I think it is just kind of not -- it's not kind of intertwined in our history, whereas all these other countries, that's all you hear about. It's like baseball in Germany. It is kind of an outside sport. But, you know, the guys, and definitely on the women's side of the game, we're all about selling our sport. And we understand that.

So, you see those personalities. You see Clint Mathis. You these see these young players stepping up and making a difference. I mean, Brad Friedel, I think single-handedly at times, has kept the U.S. involved. And, like I said, they are talented guys out there. And they just -- right now they're showing it on the biggest arena. They deserve to be recognized.

WOODRUFF: You've just come back after a knee injury. You were out for seven months. You've come back. You did very well in the first game you played. How are you feeling? How are you doing? People want to know.

HAMM: I feel pretty good, a little sore from that game. Coming back, it's been a long road. I'm definitely nowhere where I need to be. But I'll take my time getting back. The team has worked hard. And the players that are out there deserve to be out there. And I'll slowly kind of weave myself back into the team.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you a question about Title 9. It basically requires colleges, in one way or another, to try to have parity between the money they spend on women and the number of women athlete sports as they do on men's sports.

Do you think that there pretty much is parity now? As you know, a number of men's less popular sports, like wrestling, are very upset. They're suing over this. What's your sense of how it has shaken out?

HAMM: You know, Title 9 was never meant to take away from men's athletics. That was never the reason why this rule was -- or this law was instituted.

All I can say is that sports in my life has just made a huge impact. And the opportunity that I've been given is because of Title 9. And I'm grateful for that. And, hopefully, we can look at this law and look at all the wonderful things that have happened because of it. And if modifications need to be made for certain groups, I think we should take a look. But I just look at it more in terms of what it has done for me. And I really can't imagine where I'd be without sports in my life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Mia Hamm talking to me earlier today.

Political power and moral authority contribute to the "Political Play of the Week" after a quick break, but first let's go to see what's at the top of the hour on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Hi, Judy.

She's the goddess of good taste, but did Martha Stewart make a poor decision? And will she pay for it? The future of the gourmet guru. And why is the family of Elizabeth Smart about to step forward with a new plan to try to find her? We'll hear from a well-known neighbor. And, in a first-grade classroom, police say a substitute teacher crossed the line.

It's all coming up at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As the 11th of the month came and went this week, the attacks on America still weigh heavily on survivors' emotions and on Washington politics.

Here now our senator political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, Tuesday was the nine-month anniversary of September 11. And Sunday is Father's Day. Put those two events together and you've got an opportunity for a powerful symbolic statement and for the "Political Play of the Week." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Democrats have been calling for an independent commission to investigate the September 11 attacks. There is plenty of precedent, they argue. Independent commissions were appointed to investigate Pearl Harbor and the John F. Kennedy assassination. So why not now?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to tie up our team when we are trying to fight this war on terrorists.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans see politics behind the demand for an independent commission.

REP. TOM DELAY (D), TEXAS: And we must not allow our president to be undermined by those who want his job.

SCHNEIDER: This week, four organizations of families of 9/11 victims brought their case to Washington. The families wanted answers. The father of a Pan Am Flight 103 victim told them the only way they would get answers was to keep the pressure on Washington.

BOB MONETTI, VICTIMS OF PAN AM 103: Washington, be aware. Today is just the beginning. These guys are not going away.

SCHNEIDER: The families' message: Keep politics out of this.

LEN CASTRIANNO, FATHER OF WORLD TRADE CENTER VICTIM: Now that an investigation has begun, we are calling for it to be independent, nonpartisan, that rises above self-interest and politics.

SCHNEIDER: Which, of course, plays right into the hands of Democrats, many of whom showed up at the rally.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: This must be nonpartisan.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats now have a powerful ally in their push for an independent commission.

STEPHEN PUSH, FAMILIES OF SEPTEMBER 11TH: If the president doesn't want to appoint a presidential commission, we will keep working until Congress passes a law to create a congressionally appointed commission.

SCHNEIDER: The families came to Washington to make a personal statement.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, SEPTEMBER 11TH ADVOCATES: This Sunday is Father's Day. It will be a sad day for many of us. My 3-year-old daughter's most enduring memory of her father will be placing flowers on his empty grave.

SCHNEIDER: But they also made a political statement, the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: What brought those people to Washington was distrust of Washington. And that's one of the most powerful forces in American politics.

WOODRUFF: So we see.

Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

And, as we say goodbye to you, we want to show you, in our Atlanta control room, our producer, longtime producer Karen Denise (ph). Karen is taking her leave of INSIDE POLITICS.

Karen, we're going to miss you a lot. And we wish you the very best. She's going on to greener pastures elsewhere at CNN. Stay in touch. Thanks for all you have done.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. Have a good weekend.

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



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