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Bush Voices Disapproval at Potential Homeland Security Bill; D.C. Mayor Struggles to Get Name on Ballot; Trade Promotion Authority Faces Congressional Opposition

Aired July 26, 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 president says the power of his office is at stake. He signals he is prepared to veto a Senate version of homeland security legislation.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. I'll hop on the subway with Senator Fred Thompson to discuss homeland security and the symbolic deadline to start the new department.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. Washington's mayor has no serious challenges, so why is he having so much trouble getting his name on the ballot?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. Out of the shadows and into the limelight: the bill no one dared oppose delivers the "Political Play of the Week."

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Congress has moved another step closer to creating a massive new government agency charged with protecting America's homeland security.

The House passed an amendment, favored by the White House, giving the president authority to waive labor regulations in the name of national security. Those powers are not contained in the Senate bill, which caused the president to warn of a possible veto if the current Senate version is approved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going accept legislation that limits or weakens the president's well established authorities, authorities to exempt parts of government from federal labor management relations statutes when it serves our national interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman is the chief sponsor of the bill, was in the audience for the president's remarks. He says the differences can be overcome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Some people seem to be suggesting that the homeland security ship has hit an iceberg. To me it seems a lot more like an ice cube. So this is no time for anybody to be jumping ship. The fact is, existing law which is reaffirmed in our bill gives the president and secretary substantial flexibility to manage the new department and its 170,000 employees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: For more on the back-and-forth over homeland security, we turn to Jonathan Karl at the Capitol and Kelly Wallace at the White House. Jonathan, I'm going to start with you. Is it realistic to think that the Senate could pass this version?

KARL: Well, Republicans were very happy with the veto threat as far as the prospects here of this version in the Senate. It would almost certainly pass at the end of the day but what's interesting here is the question is when, Judy.

Very much in doubt now is whether or no the Senate, whether the Congress can meet that September 11 deadline, and the problem in the Senate isn't necessarily Republicans. You have two very old guard, very powerful Democratic senators, Fritz Hollings and Robert C. Byrd, who both say that they have deep concerns about this department and will use their power as senators to slow this thing down.

So now it's very unclear. One other thing, very interesting to watch him manage (ph), the person that set that deadline was the top Democrat in the House, Dick Gephardt, and as of this hour, Dick Gephardt's people say that it's unclear whether or not he will actually vote for the bill now under consideration on the House floor. That vote's in about an hour, but they raise the possibility that Gephardt could potentially vote against it.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating. Jonathan, on another subject, I understand there may be now an agreement on a prescription drug plan for seniors.

KARL: Well, certainly a breakthrough of sorts, whether or not it's enough to get it passed still remains to be seen, but what's happened here is Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon has worked with Bob Graham, the top Democratic sponsor of the prescription drug benefit on a compromise that would basically provide for a catastrophic benefit for senior citizens and aid to lower income seniors.

It would be about a $400 billion program and with the support of a top Republican like Gordon Smith or at least an influential moderate Republican like Gordon Smith, it has the possibility of getting to that threshold, 60 votes needed to pass. Still unclear whether it ultimately will, it is a significant development here in that debate.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl, thanks very much. And now I'm going to turn to Kelly, who's at the White House. Kelly, we noticed that when the president made those remarks this morning, even though the White House says he would threaten that he would veto this Senate measure, he didn't use the word veto himself. What's that all about?

KELLY WALLACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, aides say because the president is still optimistic this can all be worked out. They say this is a case where the president's message is clear.

He does not have to say it specifically. They say the political pressure is there and now they are hoping this can be worked out. Judy, we know Senator Lieberman walked over to the event with President Bush. They spoke. Again, aides really do think this can be worked out and they're very heartened, Judy, because a measure introduced by Senator Graham and Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, closely backing exactly what the president wanted. So they see the support of at least one Democrat. They think this will work in the president's favor, Judy.

WOODRUFF: But how does the president's position, Kelly, square with efforts lately on the part of the White House to court organized labor?

WALLACE: Well, you know, we asked officials if they're concerned about the reaction from union workers, and they say no but they are concerned about the way the debate is being characterized. They think some are mischaracterizing it for political purposes and that's why you saw the president today very strongly saying there are those who say the president wants to undermine the rights of union workers.

He said he rejects that as strongly as he can state it. He used the bully pulpit to say those workers will have all the rights, the rights of equal opportunity, discrimination, other rights. The key, though, Judy this administration says this agency needs to be able to move employees around to hire and fire because it is focused on protecting the country from terrorism. They think they're going to win here. Obviously some Democrats disagree, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Kelly. We'll hear a little bit more about that in a few minutes.

Meantime, President Bush today added an economic forum to his Texas vacation plan next month, an event designed to highlight White House efforts to boost the economy. Workers, investors and corporate executives will all be invited to attend the forum in Waco with the president and other White House officials. At this hour, Mr. Bush is traveling to Capitol Hill to rally Republican support for the upcoming vote on giving the president expanded power to cut trade deals.

Our Kate Snow is with me now. Kate, the first time the House voted on this, it passed by just one vote. What are the prospects this time?

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it's looking about the same, Judy. It's a real squeaker. President Bush coming up, spending about a half an hour, we understand. here to give a sort of rally the troops kind of talk.

He's coming up specifically to ask for their votes for this trade promotion authority, what we used to call fast track authority. He wants to be able to negotiate with other countries on trade deals and not have to worry that Congress will then come back and change those deals, but the White House and House Republicans clearly a little bit concerned about this.

They are just now starting to get the sense for where their members stand. I'm told by Republican leadership aides that there is a concern about some of the areas that the last time around were a concern.

Do you remember back last December there were members who represent areas that have heavy textile industries, people who are worried about losing their jobs in the textile industry because of trade and competition from overseas. Those members that represent those people are worried about that too and especially with an election looming, also concerns from the citrus growing regions out of Florida and from other vegetable growers in Florida that they might lose jobs, say, to Brazilian grapefruits that are cheaper and so those congressmen, for example Cliff Sterns of Florida, raising some concerns.

He's one who at the last minute voted for this the last time around, Judy, but I was told by his office he has concerns again today.

And finally the steel industry as well, the same concern that steel jobs might be lost overseas. All of this boiling down to the fact that Republicans really need to have every last vote. They're even looking at absenteeism today, Judy.

One member is in the hospital and that's raised a little bit of concern. One Republican who would have been a loyal Republican and voted for the president and then one other interesting factor in all of this is you've got Democrats in the Senate saying that this is now a good bill.

Senator Tom Daschle, the leader over there appearing this morning saying that he thinks they've improved the bill. They've added a lot of protections for workers, for employees, including health care and job training for those who are displaced by trade, but look who is standing right next to Daschle, Dick Gephardt.

Dick Gephardt has a completely different view on this one. He thinks that this bill is still a flawed bill. He's going to encourage every Democrat in the House, Judy, to vote against this bill, so you're going to see a real showdown in the House. We are expecting this to happen very late tonight, possibly even early tomorrow as of course the House tries to get out for their August recess tomorrow -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate, thanks very much. And as I've been listening to you I'm told the president's motorcade has arrived at the Capitol. We may be able to show you some live pictures of that right now.

Separately I can also tell our viewers that Represent Roy Blunt, who's part of the Republican leadership in the House, won't be voting today because he has undergone surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital to have a left, his left kidney removed. We are showing you pictures of course of President Bush arriving at the Capitol. That looked like speaker Hastert and perhaps Dick Armey, the majority leader with him, but as I was saying, Representative Blunt, who's in the Republican leadership, had a kidney removed today. We are told there was a cystic mass but that the surgery was successful, so according to that, there should be very good prospects for his recovery. Kate, any more information on that?

SNOW: I'm told that it was a minor procedure. It was an elective surgery, I shouldn't say minor, but I should say elective and I was told that it wasn't that big a deal but they were joking earlier today among the leadership that maybe they should roll his gurney in here, Judy, because they need his vote, but all joking aside I was told this wasn't a very, very serious procedure, but something he elected to have, just so happens that it falls today.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate. Thanks again and as we reported, the president is at the Capitol to talk to Republican House members about that trade promotion bill.

Well, there are some constants here in Washington. One is that members are always dealing with important issues like the ones Kate was just describing. Another constant is high school students who come here year-round to gain what they call hands on experience with how our government. I had a chance to talk with a select group of young people just a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

I'm here at the Capitol with six members of Boys Nation and Girls Nation. These are young people from all over the country who have been selected in their states to come to Washington for Boys and Girls Nation. Who would you like to talk to, if you could talk to one or two people in Washington, who would it be? Who would you like to spend some time with?

H.J. SHAY, MINNESOTA: Of all the people I think it would be Donald Rumsfeld, because of the way that he has conducted and led our nation in this tough time and conducted the war on terrorism abroad and I admire him for not only the way that he conducts himself, but also the way that he's led our nation through this tough time.

ABBY KIRKBRIDE, WYOMING: Without a doubt it would be Vice President Dick Cheney. Being from Wyoming, it's such a small area. It's not known for being a cultural or political center by any means but he has gone from the bottom from Casper High School all the way to the top and I would love to sit down and just ask him about that journey and his time as a senator and I would very much enjoy talking to Vice President Cheney.

WOODRUFF: And Jeff Ellis, what about you?

JEFF ELLIS, TEXAS: I would have to say Secretary of State Colin Powell. He's such an inspiring guy to all of us and I know his job is quite important in promoting U.S. interests abroad, and I want to know what his opinion is on how the U.S. should be seen in the world.

WOODRUFF: Do you think leaders in Washington, H.J., pay enough attention to the views of young people?

SHAY: I think that leaders do pay enough attention but I think that the young people also need to rally around their call.

SONYA WALTERS, ARIZONA: I think that if young people would get out and get involved and start volunteering or trying to understand their country as the American Legion Auxiliary is helping me to do, then I think that we would have more a voice because the men and women of power in this city would say those young people really know what they're talking about.

WOODRUFF: What do you say, Anthony, though, to those people who just are frankly kind of either bored with Washington or turned off or couldn't care less? I mean they've got other things on their mind.

ANTHONY HERIN, NEBRASKA: Well, I'd say there's nothing to be accomplished if you sit back and don't get involved. The whole purpose of the American Legion and Boys Nation and boys state program is to have youth get involved in these programs, and that's what got me involved in the state level.

WOODRUFF: Why should I care about Washington?

CANDY CAVANAUGH, MAINE: I think it's sad. I think there's not a sense of awareness about what people have done for us. I think Washington is a wonderful place. I've never been more privileged to come here. I would say to them that this is important, even just seeing a flag, not even coming to Washington. If I had never gone to Washington I should still be able to feel patriotic and when we see that flag we need to be proud of our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Boys Nation and Girls Nation, some really impressive well spoken young people I had the opportunity to talk to. Inside the homeland security debate when we return, including my conversation with Senator Joe Lieberman. Also the latest stop in the "Subway Series." Senator Fred Thompson joins our Jonathan Karl.

D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has petition problems. Candy Crowley explains the city's latest political soap opera. Plus a taxing week for California Republican Bill Simon. I'll talk with the GOP candidate for governor about his campaign against Democrat Gray Davis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Republican Fred Thompson and Democrat Joe Lieberman are on opposite sides of some troublesome issues as Congress tries to reach agreement on a Department of Homeland Security. We'll hear from Senator Lieberman in a moment. But first, our Jonathan Karl caught up with Senator Thompson as part of his "Subway Series."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KARL: Senator, come into my office.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: All right.

KARL: Right here. So it was interesting. The White House said that the president would veto this bill that came out of the government affairs committee but the president himself didn't ever actually use the word veto. Do you think that if this passed that he would really go through and veto the bill?

THOMPSON: My opinion?

KARL: Yes.

THOMPSON: Yes, he would. I think people underestimate how important these issues are. We are creating a very big, very important new department in a government that's ill managed overall, and we've got to have some management capabilities and flexibilities in this creation of this thing in order for it to hope to work, and the way it's shaping up now the president is going to have less leeway, less flexibility.

KARL: Now it does come down to these worker protections, and let's think about those 170,000 employees that would be in this new department. Democrats say what the president wants to do is actually take away the basic civil service protections that they already have.

THOMPSON: Well, that couldn't be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is since 1979 the president has had very limited authority but very important authority on national security grounds to abrogate collective bargaining for particular units, not government- wide but for particular units.

They've used that. Democrat, Republican presidents have used that authority very sparingly over the years, very important national security authority. What this bill would do would take that away from the president with regard to this new department. In other words, other presidents have had it government-wide. This president today has it government-wide but if this bill passes with regard to the most important national security department in the government, they would take it away from it. I don't think the president can live with that.

KARL: So what happened here? I mean this is really an incredible transformation because when the president made his proposal everybody jumped up and down and praised it. You couldn't find a critic anywhere in this town, and now we're in what looks like a real partisan battle in both the House and the Senate.

THOMPSON: Well, the devil's in the details. I still think the Democrats and Republicans both generally have the same goal and I'm hopeful that at the end of the day that wisdom will prevail and we will understand that we need to come together and hopefully these are just initial skirmishes.

KARL: So take a step back. Aside from the skirmishing over these labor issues, I mean are we trying to do too much too fast by saying we can get this done in one year. There's talk about September 11 deadline, but...

THOMPSON: Yeah, all that, a lot of that is kind of meaningless. I think the September deadline is kind of silly, you know. It's symbolic. People want to do it. It would be great if we could, but trying to be wed to that is the kind of silly, I think.

We probably can do it before we get out this year. I don't see what's happened the last day or two doesn't encourage me in that respect but we can still probably do it. But we shouldn't be wed to any timeline and we need to understand that we're going to be working on this thing for years. These other departments that are much less complicated have been put together in the department have been fine tuned for years and many of them still don't work.

KARL: All right, well, Senator Thompson, thanks a lot for taking a ride on the subway with us.

THOMPSON: Enjoyed it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: With me now Senator Lieberman. Senator, the president is saying the home security bill that passed the Senate is going to weaken his authority, take away managerial flexibility and all of this in a time of war.

LIEBERMAN: I'm really surprised by the president's reaction, with all respect, and disappointed by it. The fact is our committee in reporting out a homeland security bill yesterday gave the president well over 90 percent of what he asked for, because we all agree on it, and that's the guts of how do we prevent future terrorist attacks.

Here we have some minor disagreements about the rights of federal employees, but those are truly inconsequential. And we can -- we should not let them stop us from going forward and creating this department, which really will better protect the American people.

WOODRUFF: But the president says that he's willing to let these workers stay in a union, keep their union membership unless he decides specifically this is going to have an adverse effect on national security. Why isn't that sufficient protection for them?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope the president's advisers read our bill over because that's exactly what it allows the president to do. He just can't say to a federal worker who's come from another agency with union rights, I'm just going to take your union membership card away because you happen to be work out of a home security department.

All he's got to do under our bill is to show that that worker's job is changed and it's involved in national security and he can believe it or not unilaterally without appeal take their union card away. So I don't know why they're making such a big fuss about this.

WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, is this a big enough deal to you that you are prepared to see the Senate go home for recess without voting on home security? LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope not. I want very much to take this bill up and finish it before we go home for the August recess. This is not just another bill. It's about an urgent national necessity and I think we've got the votes to pass the bill. The problem, Judy, may be there may be a few senators who want to delay the bill overall and they're going to use the procedural rights they have to do that. That would be a shame.

WOODRUFF: But what if the president says I must have this, will you give in then?

LIEBERMAN: I think we're many steps down the road. It has to pass the Senate and then we will go to a conference committee with the House and we'll continue to reason together with the president, and I'm willing to make my case that in fact our bill gives him more management flexibility with regard to the employees of this department than any president has had before, because we adopted some civil service reforms yesterday.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to leave it there. Senator Joe Lieberman, thanks so much for talking with us.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Judy.

Coming up, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan tackle trade issues and Washington D.C. politics. And we'll go live to Pennsylvania for the latest in the desperate attempt to rescue those trapped coal miners.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Rescue workers desperately are trying to free nine coal miners trapped 250 feet underground near Somerset, Pennsylvania. CNN's Brian Palmer is on the scene in Somerset -- Brian.

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy. It has been a exceptionally frustrating afternoon in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, particularly at the Que Creek Mine, which is only about three miles down the road from where we are now.

An announcement of a major advance earlier in the day actually turned out to be premature.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID HESS, SEC. PA. DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: In fact the drill bit is not out of the hole. What in fact people saw coming out and reported here from several sources at the site was the fact that they had pulled out the device out of the well that was used to grab onto the drill bit so the drill bit is not yet out of the hole. They just made some other modifications to the device that is designed to pull the drill bit out of the hole. This is obviously very disappointing news at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PALMER: Judy, David Hess was referring to that first escape shaft that they were digging. Progress had stalled at about 2:00 a.m. last night. And it is still stalled. A second shaft is being dug, but still minimal progress on that.

At about 6:00 p.m., we should be getting some more substantive information at a news conference. But we have no idea what condition these nine miners are in at this point. Overcast skies have opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain on Somerset County. That certainly can't be helping rescue efforts -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, thank you, Brian. I know a lot of people are praying.

And finally, in our "Newscycle": President Bush says he cannot accept the Senate Government Affairs Committee's Homeland Security Bill. Mr. Bush wants the new Department of Homeland Security to be exempt from federal labor rules. The Senate bill does not provide for that. The full Senate could take action on its bill next week. The House today continued debate on its version. House Democrats are fighting for the same labor provisions as in the Senate committee bill.

With us now: former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Bay, should the president -- has the president become an obstacle, in a way, to getting this bill passed?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: No, he's doing absolutely the right thing.

Judy, he would be irresponsible if he were to agree to sign a bill that would create an organization that the people thought would help, but which would absolutely fail. He needs to set a reorganization up that will really do the job of securing the homeland.

And the only way he can do that: moving these people into one organization and then having the flexibility to get rid of those he doesn't need, those who cannot do the job, those who have proved themselves not to be interested in working the kind of hours that are going to needed, so that he can bring in new people with energy and who are creative thinkers to get the job done. Without that, this will never work.

WOODRUFF: Donna?

DONNA BRAZILE, CHAIRWOMAN, VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well, Bay, you're absolutely wrong on this one here.

The president has given new meaning to the old saying, "You move, you lose." Many of these individuals will continue to do the same job that they're doing now in the departments that they're in. They have done a tremendous job in helping to protect the homeland up to this point. And I think they should be rewarded, not stripped of their rights and their federal civil service protections, their collective bargaining rights. It's absolutely wrong that that they are going to become second- class workers in the federal government, just because some Republican president would like to score brownie points 102 days before the election.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: I am going to interrupt and turn you all, because I want you to comment on a very different story. And that is, the mayor of Washington, D.C. has run into problems getting his name on the September Democratic primary ballot. Very interesting names have cropped up on these qualifying petitions for Mayor Anthony Williams. It turns out some of them were forgeries.

Let's hear quickly now from Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): And now another in our series of occasional soap operas from the nation's capital, starring the mayor, who has pronounced himself nauseated by the whole story and sought refuge in the third person.

ANTHONY WILLIAMS, MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: Mistakes were made by this mayor, by this candidate.

CROWLEY: There are cameo appearances from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, actor Kelsey Grammer, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, all of whose names appear on D.C. voter petitions supporting the mayor's reelection and none of whom signed the petition, nor in fact even vote in the District or, in some cases, the United States.

MARK PLOTKIN, WTOP POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, this is supposed to be a political city, right? This is Washington, D.C. This is the center of national politics. But we have always been the Rodney Dangerfield of national politics.

CROWLEY: The mayor needed 2,000 signatures to satisfy D.C. law. His reelection campaign offered signature collectors $1 a name. More than 10,000 signatures were submitted, including bogus names, celebrity names, pages of names in what even the amateur eye can see is the same handwriting. Not only is there apparent fraud. It is needless fraud.

PLOTKIN: This is an extreme act of political masochism. No Republican is running against him. No serious Democrat is running in the Democratic primary. No independent is going to surface in a general election.

CROWLEY: His honor, a bow-tied, buttoned-up, bookish kind of guy, had left the signature collecting to his reelection team.

CHARLES DUNCAN, FORMER WILLIAMS CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I had limited involvement in the petition process until I was advised of the numerous alleged forged and otherwise fraudulent signatures on many of the petitions.

CROWLEY: Make that the ex-reelection team. Most have been fired. And a passel of lawyers have been hired to argue the mayor's case before the D.C. Board of Elections and -- ahem -- ethics, which is having trouble, because the signature collectors who do show up say they don't know what happened. And those who might know won't talk or don't show.

STEPHEN CALLAS, D.C. BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND ETHICS: Mr. Chairman, justice must prevail. And these witnesses who were subpoenaed have shown an absolute total disregard. And I feel outraged.

CROWLEY: Meanwhile:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you observe lines one, four, five...

CROWLEY: They are examining signatures at a rate of one every two minutes.

(on camera): At that rate, the board might well miss its Tuesday deadline, meaning Williams would go on the ballot as the Democratic Party candidate. But there are reports here Williams may end it all by running as a write-in Democrat or an independent. In either case, in any case, he is expected to win, making this an apparent meaningless and, by the way, incompetent fraud.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: So, Bay, should the mayor be allowed to get away with this?

BUCHANAN: No, and I don't think he expects to. I do not think he should be put on that ballot unless he has the 2,000 signatures. This is not even a difficult requirement. And he is obviously enormously embarrassed and heartbroken.

He's put his trust in some people. And they failed him miserably and they should be prosecuted, if indeed they broke the law. Obviously, many of them did. But this is an indication his judgment in individuals is poor. But I do not believe that, in any way, his integrity should be questioned, because candidates are not responsible for getting these signatures. They never are.

My candidates weren't. I was responsible for many, many of these types of efforts. And I know it is kind of as heartbreaking an experience as it can be.

WOODRUFF: But, Donna, shouldn't the mayor be held responsible for what happened here?

BRAZILE: I think he's finally taking responsibility for the call that someone made in the campaign to pay people. I've gathered petitions for many candidates in the District of Columbia over the last 20 years. It's always a very fun and exciting time to get out there and ask your neighbors and friends to help someone you like to get on the ballot. In my case, this year, I did 15 pages for Eleanor Holmes Norton, didn't have to forge the signatures. People say "Absolutely."

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: But I think the mayor should abandon his legal fight and just make a bold decision to run a grassroots campaign, a flawless grassroots campaign to get on the Democratic ballot for the fall by running as a Democrat as a write-in and say: "Vote for Tony. I'm the guy in the bow tie that needs you to write my name down."

BUCHANAN: I happen to agree with Donna on that one, Judy. He should just abandon the legal effort. He shouldn't push himself to get on a ballot when there's so much fraud involved. And he is going to win it one way or the other. I think he would be bold to do it, take responsibility for that act, and move on. But his integrity, I do not believe, should be questioned.

WOODRUFF: Well, here we go again. It is Washington, D.C.

All right, Bay Buchanan...

BRAZILE: And we tend to agree on Fridays, Judy.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: We've noticed that. Donna and Bay, thank you both.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Have a good weekend.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

I am told that there is a news conference getting under way right now in Somerset, Pennsylvania. That's the sign of those mine workers trapped underground, 230-some feet underground. They have been trapped since Wednesday night.

And this news conference, officials in that area had said it would be several hours, at least another hour or so before they would talk to the press again. But just in the last few minutes, we got word that they wanted to make another statement.

(INTERRUPTED FOR LIVE EVENT)

We'll take a quick break. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In California, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon is taking heat for the manner in which he released his tax records. The wealthy businessman is challenging the incumbent Democrat, Gray Davis. After first refusing for three months to divulge his tax information at all, Simon allowed access to it Monday for just a few hours.

In an interview earlier today, I asked him, "Why not give reporters the chance to study the returns and run them by tax accountants"?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SIMON (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Judy, you know, they had full and fair opportunity to check out the tax returns. You know, some reporters were in there over five and a half hours. And you know, the fact is, they could've taken a lot of notes, and they had plenty of time.

And the bottom line is this. I have disclosed to all Californians every single holding, every single asset that I own, every single source of income. And now I've disclosed all my income and all the taxes I've paid over the last 11 years. I think that's a very substantial amount of disclosure, and I believe that Californians will be quite happy with that because they know Bill Simon has paid a lot of taxes.

WOODRUFF: The IRS, as you know, has said that you are one of those people being investigated for using illegal tax shelters. Do you think that your tax business is the business of California voters?

SIMON: Well, actually, the IRS has made no accusations like that, Judy, and that's the problem. They're in discussions now with KPMG, the accounting firm. And the original story was broken in the Wall Street Journal. And in that story, they specifically said all the people that were listed, the hundreds of investors that invested in this investment transaction -- and there were hundreds of them -- have not been accused of anything.

And that's the problem. The IRS acted inappropriately. And I believe that the Wall Street Journal and others have published editorials to that effect, saying they should not have disclosed the names of these people. Their privacy needs to be respected before they've been accused of anything, which is exactly where we are today.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about a TV ad that Governor Davis started airing this week. And among other things, it quotes a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper report claiming that you siphoned excess management fees from your family foundation. And I just want to show you a portion of that ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: The Chronicle said a substantial amount of money earmarked for charitable purposes ended up at Simon's private investment firm.

Simon -- if we can't trust him to run a charity, how can we trust him to run California?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: How do you respond?

SIMON: Judy, that ad is 100 percent false and misleading and is typical of the ads that Gray Davis has chosen to run now. He's raised over $50 million in an attempt to smear my record. At the same time, our family foundation has given away over $50 million.

And the facts are this. I've been a trustee of that foundation for over 17 years, until a month ago. During that 17 years, our family foundation gave away over $50 million. I did not take one nickel, not one penny, in a fee. That's the truth, Judy.

And unfortunately, Governor Davis has chosen to engage in smear tactics, which is the only way he can hope to be elected, because he knows that Californians cannot be convinced that he did a good job as governor, because he's failed in all areas, whether it be the economy, whether it be our schools, or whether it be our roads and water and power.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Bill Simon talked to me just a few hours ago.

Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": Colorado Democrat Tom Strickland's campaign for the Senate is a popular cause for the Gore family. Al Gore is in Denver today raising money for the Strickland campaign. Earlier this week, daughter Karenna Gore Schiff also headlined a Denver fund-raiser for Strickland. And back in February, Tipper Gore hosted a gathering under the title "Women for Strickland."

Georgia Senator Max Cleland has unveiled a new ad in his campaign for reelection. The spot features people Cleland calls everyday heroes. And the senator offers his pledge to protect the future of Social Security. Three Republicans, including Congressman Saxby Chambliss, are competing to face Cleland in November.

Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode has completed his political transformation. The three-term House member was elected as a Democrat in 1996, but left the party to become an independent in 2000. Well, yesterday, Goode said he will join the Republican Party effective August 1.

You can keep up on all the political buzz with our week ahead in politics. Check out CNN.com/allpolitics on Saturday to get the inside scoop on next week's political scene.

Coming up next: Bill Schneider, his "Political Play of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: We have some news to report on the disappearance this morning of a 6-year-old girl in a suburb of St. Louis.

Local affiliates are saying that police have found the clothing of little Cassandra Casey Williamson, who was last seen early this morning inside a neighbor's home very close to her own home. Her father saw her there. Just a few minutes later, he could not find her. And also missing was a homeless man who had spent the night in the neighbor's house.

The police have been -- hundreds of searchers have been fanning out over an area around the little girl's neighborhood in Valley Park, Missouri. This is a suburb of St. Louis. These are live pictures you can see coming into CNN right now.

The development that we were just telling you is, basically, police have found some clothing. It is believed to belong to Cassandra Williamson. She was last seen wearing a white nightgown, we are told. And so it is presumed that that is the clothing that was found. As any more information comes in on that story, we will share it with you.

And now with his "Political Play of the Week," our Bill Schneider is with us -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: Judy, after more than three decades in Congress, the man has finally met the moment and he's put his imprint on a major issue. This is an overnight sensation that took 32 years to happen.

And it's this week's "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): It was 28 years ago that Paul Sarbanes last held center stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1974)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Sarbanes.

REP. PAUL SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: Aye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he drafted the main article of impeachment against Richard Nixon. Since then, Sarbanes has labored in relative obscurity: quiet, methodical.

Then, last December, the Enron story broke. Senator Sarbanes started working on legislation to reform the accounting system, quietly, as usual. His Banking Committee held 10 weeks of hearings in February and March, with little public attention. Suddenly, in June, WorldCom went bust and so did the stock market. Congress was under pressure to act fast. And here was the Sarbanes bill, carefully crafted and ready to go.

SARBANES: It's not an issue with which you can or should be playing political games.

SCHNEIDER: Suddenly the name Sarbanes was on everybody's lips, Democratic lips:

SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: The Sarbanes bill, by every independent kind of analysis, is the direction we should be taking.

SCHNEIDER: And Republican lips:

BUSH: Now, as to the Sarbanes bill, we share the same goals.

SCHNEIDER: "Wait a minute," House Republicans said. "What about our bill, the one we passed back in April?" "Read my lips," said Senator Sarbanes.

SARBANES: Apparently, some on the House side want to raise procedural questions in order -- which would result in them avoiding taking the issue up and bouncing it back to the Senate. We think that's an outrage.

SCHNEIDER: Last Monday, the Sarbanes bill passed the Senate 97- 0. This Wednesday, House Republicans caved in.

REP. MICHAEL OXLEY (R), OHIO: We are pleased to say that we have an agreement for the conference.

SCHNEIDER: That day, the stock market went kazoom, up nearly 500 points. On Thursday, the House got the message and passed the bill 423-3.

SARBANES: I am very pleased we are now at this point. I can't tell you how pleased. And it's been a rather intense time getting here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: For Senator Sarbanes, a Senate workhorse, a hard- earned "Political Play of the Week."

WOODRUFF: He's come a long way since those days during Watergate.

SCHNEIDER: He certainly has. Exactly.

WOODRUFF: Bill, thanks.

Well, I'll be back in a moment with details on the latest political figure to agree to appear on "Saturday Night Live," but first let's take a look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi, Wolf.

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

A frantic Friday search: She was out of sight for just a few minutes. Now she's gone missing in Missouri. We'll have late- breaking developments. And it's a shame-on-you TV. Will this program shame customers away from prostitutes? And getting into Ivy League schools is tough enough. Now the competition is getting very ugly between Yale and Princeton. But is it legal?

Those stories at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here now a quick look at what's in the works for Monday's INSIDE POLITICS: I will be in New York City at the Democratic Leadership Council's -- quote -- National Conversation to catch up with some of the party's 2004 presidential hopefuls and other leaders. We'll have reports from Jeff Greenfield, Bill Schneider and Ron Brownstein.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. And let me just tell you -- before we wrap up this week on INSIDE POLITICS, we want to tell you about the latest Washington figure planning an appearance on "Saturday Night Live." Senator John McCain has agreed to host the show in October. He will join a memorable roster of past political guests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

DANA CARVEY, ACTOR: Mr. President, while I've got you, would you mind doing one of those catchphrases I used to do, like, "Not going to do it" or, "It's bad; it's bad," just for old-times' sakes?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dana, I'd prefer not to do that. Wouldn't be prudent at this juncture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: "Saturday Night Live" is one of our great New York City institutions.

And that's why it's important for you to do your show tonight.

LORNE MICHAELS, PRODUCER: Can we be funny?

GIULIANI: Why start now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You heard her, you pill-popping, spoon- cooking bastards!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

JESSE JACKSON: "You do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I Am." (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Senator McCain is quoted as saying his children are now very impressed with him.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. Thanks for being with us. I'm Judy Woodruff.

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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