CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Senate Holds Hearings on Iraq; How Will Robert Torricelli Fare on Election Day?
Aired July 31, 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. As the Senate holds hearings on Iraq, is the political climate ripe for an attack?
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are trying to make sure they have a say in how and when Saddam Hussein may be targeted.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooks Jackson in Washington and I found plenty of twisted facts to zap in the red hot ad war in the Texas governor's race.
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, now that Robert Torricelli has been admonished by Senate Ethics Committee, will he be a goner on election day?
Thank you for joining us.
It has been more than a decade since the United States went to war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But for many Americans, the images of that conflict still are relatively fresh. And the outcome of that war left an indelible mark on many officials here in Washington, including President Bush as the U.S. considers whether to target Iraq again.
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is aggressive and this aggression is not going to stand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorist states and terrorist allies are an axis of evil.
WOODRUFF: With the current President Bush's warnings about the Iraqi threat in mind, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding a hearing today on a possible strike against Baghdad. The panel's Democratic chairman, Joe Biden, says Mr. Bush is justified in his concern that Saddam Hussein poses a clear and present danger.
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SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE CHMN: Saddam Hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, in my view, is one of those clear dangers. Even if the right response is pursued, it's not so crystal clear. One thing is clear, these weapons must be dislodged from Saddam Hussein or Saddam Hussein must be dislodged from power.
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WOODRUFF: Our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl, has been covering this hearing on Iraq. Jonathan is this a political show or are they really going to be able to accomplish something here?
KARL: Well, it's certainly more than a political show, Judy. I mean, this is a hearing that was started not only by the Democratic chairman, Joe Biden, who you heard in that sound bite there, but also by Richard Lugar, who is the top Republican at the hearing. They both agree that there was time to come out and have the Congress talk more, raise more awareness on the threat opposed by Iraq.
Within that, and there's large bipartisan support for this hearing, the question is, could the president, could this administration go into military strikes against Iraq without first getting congressional approval and on that question, there is widespread disagreement.
There are two top Democratic senators up here, Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy, who have a resolution that they have introduced. It would say that the president must come and get permission, get the stamp of approval from the Congress before invoking military action, before taking military action against Iraq. But the top Republican here in the Senate, Trent Lott, scoffed at that suggestion and said it was virtually ridiculous.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I think you know what you are talking about there is just a blatant political move that's not helpful. What do they want us to say? Oh, Mr. Saddam Hussein, we are coming. We're coming. Get ready. You can expect us two weeks after election day and by the way, here's the way we are coming and but before we do that, we'll have a huge debate so you will know full well exactly what's going on. Give me a break.
KARL (on-camera): Now what's interesting, Judy, is that Richard Lugar, again the top Republican at that hearing today, opened the hearing before Lott said that and said that yes, he believes that if the United States were to go militarily against Iraq, that he believes that the president should come to the Congress first.
Now, one more important thing to say in all this is that there is virtually widespread agreement up here, virtually unanimous agreement up here that the administration is not planning to invade Iraq any time soon. Joe Biden says based on his discussion with administration officials, he does not believe there will be an invasion of Iraq this year -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Thank you, Jon.
Our Bill Schneider is with us from Los Angeles now with more on the politics of attacking Iraq -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, we've had this debate before in 1990 and '91 to be precise when the first President Bush confronted Saddam Hussein. But this time the politics are very different.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1990, there was a clear provocation. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The world was outraged. But a lot of Americans wondered what does this have do with us?
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I don't want the blood of American young men and women, not the killing of thousands of innocent people who call the Persian Gulf home to be on my hands, not on my conscience.
SCHNEIDER: Memories of Vietnam lingered. In late 1990, the public was divided over going to war with Iraq. Congress was divided too.
REP. TOM FOLEY (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: This debate longest in the modern history of the House of Representatives extending over 20 hours.
SCHNEIDER: In the end, most Democrats voted against authorizing the use of force in the Persian Gulf. Most, but not all.
SEN. AL GORE (D) TENNESSEE: I feel that I owe my vote to an expression of support for the resolution authorizing the use of force. I hope it'll not be used. I'm afraid that it will be, but I will vote for that resolution.
SCHNEIDER: What's different now? Two U.S. triumphs in the Persian Gulf and in Afghanistan and an attack on the U.S. Now, the American public solidly supports sending U.S. troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Democrats, as well as Republicans. The Vietnam syndrome is gone. The Persian Gulf syndrome has taken over. Potential Democratic contenders are, as a famous Democrat once put it, acting to protect their political viability. They don't want to be on the wrong side in this Iraq debate.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: As for Iraq, I agree completely with the administration's goal of a regime change.
SCHNEIDER: Although they reserve the right to say we could do it better.
GORE: And I seriously question why we would be publicly bustering and announcing an invasion, a year or two years in advance.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): In 1991, the international consensus for war was strong but the national consensus was weak. In 2002, the domestic consensus is strong, but the international consensus for war is weak. Which matters more? We'll see -- Judy?
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill. Thanks.
There have been a number of recent reports about the Bush administration's options for attacking Iraq. The leaks to the media have put Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld on the war path. Here now, our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Pentagon leakers are criminals and they are putting U.S. lives at risk.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If people start treating war plans like they're paper airplanes and they can fly them around this building and throw them to anybody who wants them, I think it is outrageous. It's inexcusable and they ought to be in jail.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): But despite Rumsfeld's anger over a "New York Times" story about a leaked war planning document, military experts say the news media has reported little in the way of specifics that would help Iraq.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CTR FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: As long as you are reporting on total numbers of men, you are reporting a meaningless option. What counts here is the amount of armor, the amount of air power, the attack helicopters, the force mix and the basing.
MCINTYRE: Those are all details the "Times" left out of its story which was not about the war plan, but one concept. The "Times" identified its source as an official who was frustrated the Iraq war planning was quote, insufficiently creative justification rejected by Rumsfeld.
RUMSFELD: Nothing you could say would lead me to believe that the individual was well motivated and trying to serve his country by violating Federal criminal law. Nothing you could say.
MCINTYRE: Nevertheless, leaks can torpedo a flawed policy. Rumsfeld was forced to close the office of strategic influence after insiders complained to the media it might spread false information and leaks can drive debate. At Senate hearings on Iraq, much of the discussion involved a new term.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D) FOREIGN RELATIONS CHMN: This idea being discussed of inside out and relatively small number of people.
MCINTYRE: Inside out refers to a surgical attack on Baghdad and Iraqi command centers, concept leaked this week to the "New York Times." Could this all be disinformation? The Pentagon insists, no.
RUMSFELD: It's not any kind of a campaign by anyone in the Pentagon. It's leaks.
MCINTYRE (on camera): So what is going on? Well, just the usual leaks by the usual suspects for the usual reasons. Is there some ill at ease at the Pentagon because of a pending military operation? There is always some unease about that. And information here is going to be much harder to come by in the months ahead as the U.S. prepares some military operations, one, because fewer people will know about it and two, because Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has ordered a criminal investigation into that leak to the "New York Times" and that has a lot of senior people here very nervous -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: I'm sure there are. All right, Jamie. Thanks.
Well, now we turn to two members of that committee that's meeting, Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They are Democrat Christopher Dodd and Republican Lincoln Chafee. Senator Dodd, has the Bush administration made the case to this point of why they need military force to go in and take out Saddam Hussein, remove him from power?
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: No, they haven't but I don't think they've really tried to yet either in fairness to them. This is a question. There are certain things we all agree upon and that is that clearly Saddam Hussein opposes some significant threats, that we would all be a lot better off, if we were not on the stage out there.
But he is acquiring and may have already acquired some weapons of mass destruction. I think generally everybody sort agrees with those two conclusions. The third question is what do we do about it. What is the response to that threat? And there, there is some division, including I think with inside the administration as to how best to proceed. We've had some very very fine witnesses today that Senator Chafee and I and others have had the opportunity to hear. Senator Biden deserves a great deal of credit for orchestrating these hearings and bringing some wonderful people together to really examine some of those questions.
WOODRUFF: Senator Chafee, in your mind, has the administration made the case for taking out Saddam Hussein?
SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE (R) RHODE ISLAND: No. And I think a lot of the witnesses are saying at this hearing that first we have focus on the Palestinian issue and solve that and every day it seems to get worse. So this is, I think, an area where there's going to be a shift naturally that all of the allies in the region, even those that aren't so allied with us, are saying this is where the focus should be and I think a lot of Americans would agree with that first. It just seems everyday to get worse and before we take on any broad initiative, this deserves a great deal of focus.
WOODRUFF: Senator Dodd, must the president get congressional approval before he does take any military action?
DODD: The word must, the president would make a case that he doesn't need that that he has inherently in the constitution as commander in chief. But we've all learned I think, particularly back with this president's father, how valuable it was to have the debate, maybe the best debate, if not one of the best debates was heard in the Senate in the last 20 years was around the resolution of whether or not to use force at the time the president wanted to in '89. And I would urge this president to follow his father's lead here.
Having the hearings today, having a resolution, have a good debate and discussion about this, I think educates the American public, to build in the national support. If that's the option that we're going to use, the military option, I think having Congress involved makes a lot of sense. We had some wonderful testimony here today about how important is it to not over or underestimate the capability of the Iraqis and also to understand how important it is to have international support. Doing this alone is possible but a lot more difficult.
WOODRUFF: Senator Chafee, your Republican colleague Senator Lott, the minority leader, said today that he believes that there are Al Qaeda terrorists at work inside Iraq. Do you have that information?
CHAFEE: No. And there have been some recent stories where senior military officials are saying that they don't think there is that much of a threat from Iraq, even going so far as to saying, not even a terrorist threat. And so that's very very debatable, of course. But even within the administration, there is some dispute and some disagreement about the threat that Saddam Hussein poses and particularly on terrorism.
WOODRUFF: All right, senators. We are going to leave it there. Senator Christopher Dodd and Senator Lincoln Chafee, thank you both. Good to see you.
To another senator now, Senator Robert Torricelli, whose colleagues have passed judgment on the gifts he received from a campaign donor. Up next, how will New Jersey voters judge this Democrat on election day? Stu Rothenberg will handicap the race.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats have milked this issue for as much as you possibly can and this is just purely raw politics.
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WOODRUFF: Which party will pay a price for failing to pass a prescription drug bill? Tucker Carlson and Margaret Carlson will debate the fall out.
Plus, Pat Sajak's response to the question, will he spin the wheel of politics? And find out which candidate is using a popular cartoon to draw a negative picture of his opponent. This is "Inside Politics."
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to put a stop to this.
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WOODRUFF: For Republicans, an upset of Torricelli could be a key to regaining control of the Senate. Well, political analyst Stu Rothenberg is with me now to talk a little bit more about Senator Torricelli's ethics problems. How much does this hurt him?
STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Hi, Judy. I think it hurts him a great deal. Up until last night, this was simply a question of Republicans stirring the pot. Senator Torricelli could say it's partisanship. They're just out to get me. The media is out to get me. Now six members of the U.S. Senate, including three Democratic senators, three of his colleagues, three of his own partisans, have severely admonished him and have gone on the record to talk about inconsistencies and conflicts.
He evidenced poor judgment. You can see these quotes being pulled out in the Republican commercials over the next three months. I think it's a significant problem. And some of the initial reaction from Democrats, Senator Daschle, who I have often said I think is a terrific communicator for his party, talking about how these sensational allegations now have proven false and without foundation, simply brushing off this admonishment, it seems to me just, I think they're whistling past the graveyard.
WOODRUFF: Torricelli apologized on the Senate floor, Stu. If he goes out to the voters and apologizes and apologizes, does that take any of the edge off?
ROTHENBERG: Sure. I think he needs to do that. He needs it accept responsibility and he's started to do that. But he needs to do it over and over again and then he needs to do something else. He needs to talk about specific public policy matters and his accomplishments as a U.S. senator. And then he needs to make Republican Doug Forester (ph) radioactive. He needs to beat him up. Forester 49-year-old former mayor of West Windsor, New Jersey, assistant state treasurer.
But most importantly a businessman who has a company which is involved in prescription drugs benefits management. And Democrats have already beaten him up as kind of a pharmaceutical company middle man and he's responsible for high drug prices. Democrats have just got to do a number on Forester.
WOODRUFF: Are you saying Forester is not the strongest candidate Republicans could... ROTHENBERG: Well, the Republicans didn't have much of a bench to choose from, frankly. And I think actually Forester is a pretty decent candidate. He doesn't have an extensive legislative record. That's probably a plus. He attended divinity school as you can see in that clip, he has a bit of a kind of a moralizing tone to him.
I heard him recently on -- I listen in the morning, I thought he was one of the most dreadful guests I have ever heard. No sense of humor. But what's important here is a candidate whose relatively clean, who proves a good contrast with Senator Torricelli. I think Forester does that.
WOODRUFF: OK, Stu Rothenberg, thank you very much. Good to see you, appreciate it.
An animated attack in a California governor's race tops today's "Campaign News Daily." Republican Bill Simon's campaign is likening Democratic incumbent Gray Davis to Mr. Burns on the TV show "The Simpsons." Burns is the conniving power plant owner who ran a failed campaign for governor. In a satiric e-mail, the Simon camp compares Burns and Davis including their claims to fame and favorite scapegoat. Simon aides say they were inspired by a report that Davis received more than $70,000 from one of California's biggest polluters.
In the Michigan governor's race, critics say Democrat Jim Blanchard's new ad misleads voters into thinking that he has a primary endorsement from Bill Clinton. The spot shows Clinton lauding Blanchard's previous stint as governor, But the video is from 1993. Bill Clinton's office says the former president has not endorsed anyone in contested Democratic primaries. Blanchard tells "INSIDE POLITICS" Clinton personally gave him the go ahead to use the tape.
And it looks like "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak is taking a pass on politics. As we told you yesterday, the "New York Post" speculated that Sajak might consider running for office. But his publicist tells us Sajak is quote, "as likely to run for political office as I am, which is not at all likely."
Brooks Jackson will be along later to zap some misleading ads, but up next, go for flashback. Our Wolf Blitzer compares the conflict he covered from the Pentagon to possible strike against Baghdad in the months ahead.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Submarines have entered the war launching cruise missiles at Iraqi targets. And officials say they are now gearing up to start using some of those big 16-inch guns aboard the battleships Wisconsin and Missouri in the Persian Gulf.
Wolf Blitzer, CNN, the Pentagon.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: That was Wolf Blitzer back in 1991 when he was CNN's Pentagon correspondent covering the Gulf War. Well, today, Wolf has been reporting on the Senate hearings on Iraq. And Wolf, a lot more has changed than just, have you gotten even more handsome than you were in '91.
BLITZER: That was quite a picture. You really had to dig deep into the archives for that.
WOODRUFF: But the other thing, among the many things that have changed Wolf is that we are talking about a very different Iraqi force today than existed then. And also, in terms of what the U.S. military can do.
BLITZER: Very different indeed. In 1991, at the start of the Gulf War, the Iraqis by almost all accounts had a million-man army. At the same time, it quickly became apparent that a big chunk of that army, hundreds of thousands really didn't count. They were very well trained and they were ready to give up very quickly.
Right now, the Iraqis are estimated to have about 350 to 400,000 men in their army, and by all accounts, most of them are pretty well trained. They're pretty good, the Republican guard, of course, still being the elite force. The U.S. at that time together with its coalition partners put together a huge military arsenal in the region, some half a million U.S. troops.
During the course of the air war that lasted for four weeks and the ground war, that lasted for 100 hours, it quickly became apparent, only about 50,000, maybe 60 or 70,000 troops were actually needed but overwhelming force was the so-called Colin Powell doctrine that was used.
As a result right now, the maximum force they're thinking about, if the U.S. does go forward with a full-scale invasion is about 250,000 troops. It would be designed to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime as opposed to the objective in 1991, a much more limited objective, which was to liberate Kuwait.
WOODRUFF: Well, and, Wolf, the circumstances are clearly very different. Then it was President Bush, the father, who had to spend months selling his ideas about going into Iraq to the American people whereas now, after 9/11, the American people are much more disposed.
BLITZER: If there is some hard evidence that the Bush administration can point to, evidence showing Saddam Hussein directly linked to 9/11 or to other planned or previous terrorist incidents, whether anthrax related or anything else or if there is a clear and present danger that the Bush administration determines that the Iraqis are on the verge of testing or deploying a crude nuclear device, that presumably would set the stage for military action.
WOODRUFF: And finally, Wolf, in terms of coverage, there were complaints from the press, they didn't have a lot of access back in the Gulf War. It seems to me now the access would be even more limited. BLITZER: If President Bush gives the authorization to launch air strikes and a ground invasion, you're probably right. The Pentagon has gotten much more sophisticated, much better at trying to control the news media, whether there would be access from any of the staging points whether Kuwait or Turkey, perhaps Jordan. That is a very open question. The last time there was access to those staging points.
At the same time, it is unclear how the government in Baghdad would respond, if they would allow news organizations like CNN to stay put and to cover this kind of war from the inside -- so, a lot of open questions. Those of us who work in the news media will try to struggle to get access as best as we can.
WOODRUFF: For sure. All right, Wolf, thanks very much. Wolf has been covering those hearings all day long.
Thanks for talking to us.
BLITZER: Thank you, Judy.
And now let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
Jeff, talk a little about how -- we heard Bill Schneider talk about the differences between the atmosphere now and the atmosphere back during the Gulf War. But is there something deeper about this particular Senate Foreign Relations Committee inquiry?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Yes, I think so.
I was struck by the bipartisan nature of what's going on so far. This morning, Chairman Joe Biden, a Democrat, appeared with Chuck Hagel, a Republican, on one of the morning news programs. Biden and Richard Lugar co-authored a "New York Times" op-ed piece today explaining it.
I think this has a lot to do with the Senate's sense of its roll in foreign affairs. The Constitution is very clear. Not only does Congress have the power to declare war, but the Senate ratifies treaties, confirms ambassadors. It has always been the key player among the two houses of Congress.
Now, presidents have been sending troops into combat without declaring war for more than 50 years, starting with Korea. And you have the sense, I think, that the Senate -- at least the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- is really saying that before -- and that's the significant thing -- before anything happens, it wants to understand and it wants the American public to understand the dimensions of any potential engagement.
WOODRUFF: And why is that significant?
GREENFIELD: Well, the Congress has been looking into military matters after the fact, traditionally.
The very, very first congressional investigation was in 1792, looking into an Indian war conducted in the George Washington administration. There were hearings about Pearl Harbor, for instance. And very occasionally, you get a debate beforehand, the one that Bill Schneider talked about and we have been talking about, the use-of- force resolution before the Gulf War.
But the fact that members of both parties are engaging in what they seem to be calling a dialogue, not an inquiry, not putting the administration officials on the stand to grill them, suggests that they really are trying to shed light than heat. And a lot of times with Senate and congressional investigations, you get a lot of heat and not much light. They really want to try to lay out the complexities beyond the fact that most Americans and most Americans in positions of power want to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
So it has the potential, I think, to be very unusual for a congressional inquiry.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff, thanks very much. See you tomorrow.
WOODRUFF: And when we return, we'll hear what Tim Penny, independent candidate for governor of Minnesota, has to say about some key issues in his state. And he'll tell us what he thinks about Governor Jesse Ventura and his policies.
WOODRUFF: "On the Record" today: Tim Penny, who is the Independence Party's candidate for governor in Minnesota. Now, that is the party of Governor Jesse Ventura, who has announced that he will not seek reelection.
Recently, I asked Penny about some important issues in his state and about Governor Ventura. My first question was whether he is comfortable with everything Ventura stands for.
TIM PENNY (I), MINNESOTA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Everything that he stands for?
PENNY: I think on policy, he's been in the sensible center. And most Minnesotans agree with the kind of policy changes that he's brought to Minnesota. We've institutionalized rebates in those years when we have a surplus. He's put forward balanced and responsible budgets, especially now that we're dealing with the deficit. That's important. He's reformed our property tax system. He's taken more of the school aid burden off of local property taxes and moved them to state. These are pretty good policies.
But, on the other hand, nobody can be Jesse Ventura.
WOODRUFF: Well, I asked you because... PENNY: His personality and his celebrity is something no one else can match. And I have a different background a different leadership style.
WOODRUFF: I asked you, obviously, because he's clearly made some very controversial statements over the years. And he is, to some extent, identified with budget gridlock, a real problem in terms of your state government being able to move ahead and agreeing on a budget.
PENNY: Yes. Well, I know the governor's book, "Ain't Got Time to Bleed," was a national best-seller. And there were some provocative passages there. I was somewhat envious, because I've written three books, none of which were best-sellers. And someone asked my wife one time, "Why doesn't your husband write a tell-all book like the governor?"
And she said, "Because if Tim wrote such a book, it would have to be titled 'Ain't Got Nothing to Tell." So, we are different in style.
But in terms of that budget gridlock, that was really a manifestation of partisanship on both sides. The Democrats and Republicans refused to meet the governor partway. And, as a consequence, the only way they could -- quote, unquote -- "solve" the budget problem was to sweep the problem under the rug, shift some of our spending into the next fiscal year, borrow against every reserve we've got. They made the budget problem worse.
And that was partisanship on their part. And the governor was trying to steer them in a more productive, positive direction, but they just wouldn't go there.
WOODRUFF: Roger Moe, a Democratic opponent, has also said: Tim Penny has changed positions on so many things, it will be interesting to see which Tim Penny shows up for the debates.
He has also and others have talked about your position on abortion. You were primarily anti-abortion when you were in Congress, which some exceptions.
PENNY: I was perceived as being pro-life.
WOODRUFF: Now you've chosen a running mate who is pro-choice. Why the change? Is this a matter of personal principle or...
PENNY: Look, my principles have been the same. I was never 100 percent with the pro-life camp. And I think part of the problem with this issue is that people stake out 100 percent with one side or 100 percent with the other.
And they think they can't get elected unless they do that, that they start with the interest-group base; 90 percent of the voters are in the conflicted center on this issue. They are pro-life in the sense that they think a million abortions a year is a tragedy. But they're pro-choice in the sense that they understand that primarily it is a tragedy for the individual woman. WOODRUFF: So, is that where you are...
PENNY: That's where I am.
WOODRUFF: ... in the conflicted center?
PENNY: I'm not out to change the law of the land. I'm in the conflicted center on this. But I think we have to move beyond the partisan polarization on this issue and talk about family planning. We have to talk about teen-pregnancy prevention, abstinence education, improving our adoption laws. This is where most people want this debate to go.
WOODRUFF: Tim Penny is the Independent candidate for governor of Minnesota.
Just ahead: A Michigan teen says her school prevented her from speaking her mind about homosexuality. Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson will weigh in on that and other issues.
And, in the Middle East: bloodshed at a Jerusalem university. We will tell you what President Bush has to say about today's deadly bombing.
WOODRUFF: Checking our INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle": Another deadly bombing rocks Israel. At least seven people were killed today when a bomb planted in a handbag exploded at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. An American man was among those killed. Palestinian sources tell CNN the radical group Hamas is claiming responsibility. The bombing drew a quick and angry response from President Bush.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are clearly killers who hate the thought of peace and therefore are willing to take their hatred to all kinds of places, including a university. And this country condemns that kind of killing.
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WOODRUFF: Elsewhere, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is focusing on the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the consequences of moving against him. This morning, the panel opened two days of hearings on that issue. Chairman Joseph Biden says the U.S. needs to weigh the risks of action vs. the risks of inaction.
It is almost certain that senators will fail to pass a Medicare prescription-drug proposal before their summer recess. Senators today rejected yet another proposal. Each side is blaming the other for the stalemate.
With us now: Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine and Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."
Tucker, they didn't pass this. You had 46 Republicans voting against it. My question is, so are the Republicans going to be blamed or are the Democrats going to be blamed because they promised to get something through?
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Oh, I think Republicans will be blamed either way. They're accusing Democrats of setting this up to fail in order to use it as a campaign issue in the midterms. I think that's probably right.
You're going to see Senator Torricelli, for instance, throw this issue up as a way to cloak his own misdeeds. I think it works for Democrats. But the weird thing here is that both sides agree on principle that there needs to be a prescription-drug benefit. So really the argument is over size, how much money ought to be thrown at it. And that debate is always won by Democrats. So, I just think the territory itself favors Democrats.
WOODRUFF: Margaret, did the Senate leadership pull the rug out from under Senator Harkin? He's one of the Democrats who voted against this. He's in a difficult race in his home state of Iowa. And he says the leadership didn't listen to him when he said don't pass this less generous bill.
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Well, it happened in a backroom, Judy. And I'm in New York, so I can't answer that question.
But the idea of Republicans getting good mojo out of the prescription-drug bill, I don't agree with, in that Democrats have such greater I.D. with this, as Tucker says. And, if it hadn't been for the tax cut, there might be money to pay for it. The public may just say -- throw up their hands at some point and say: "Both of you are wrong, because neither one of you delivered."
But at least the Democrats have pulled Republicans along to, A, where everybody wants a bill and it is a dispute over the money. And Republicans in this are favoring insurance companies and Democrats look like they're on the side of seniors. So if it is going to cut one way or the other, I think it cuts for Democrats.
T. CARLSON: On the side of seniors.
M. CARLSON: I'll be one soon, Tucker.
T. CARLSON: Margaret, you're a long way from that.
But if you talk to any Democratic consultant -- over a beer, particularly, over several beers -- he'll say, "Look" -- in so many words -- "scaring old people: the key to electoral success." It has been for a long time. And this is just the latest frontier in the fear campaign waged by those consultants. M. CARLSON: Well, I'm scared.
WOODRUFF: Let me turn you both to another story out of Michigan. And that is, there's been a lawsuit filed on behalf of a high school student named Betsy Hansen, who lives in Ann Arbor. She claims that her civil rights were violated because her high school refused to let her speak out against homosexuality.
Here's what she said she planned to say at a school-diversity- week program -- quote -- "I completely and wholeheartedly support racial diversity, but I can't accept religious and sexual ideas or actions that are wrong." Now, the school says she wasn't censored.
My question still is, Tucker, does this case have any merit?
T. CARLSON: Well, I'm, first off, totally opposed to rights of any kind for teenagers.
T. CARLSON: So it's not clear that her civil rights were violated, at least from my point of view.
But I think the idea that you ought to be able to say unpopular things in public -- and having any qualms about the rightness of homosexual behavior is deeply unpopular, at least with a certain class of people -- I think you ought to be able to say that. And I'm sure she was censored. Then again, I doubt, as I said, she has the basis of a lawsuit.
M. CARLSON: Well, Judy, there were some factual questions about whether she was actually censored, because there were only adults on the one panel that she wanted to be on. And somebody said, "Do you want to take a second look at this paragraph?" for the group that she was addressing.
But, be that as it may, I so totally agree with Tucker. I had no rights in high school. I don't want anyone now to have any rights in high school. And I think, as a constitutional principle, freedom of speech doesn't apply absolutely to high school grounds. I think schools can set the rules they want.
WOODRUFF: So, wait a minute.
M. CARLSON: On the other hand, this was to promote understanding for minorities. And, in that spirit, she might have wanted to be a little more gracious in the second half of that sentence. But I think this is something that will pass away very quickly, as it should.
WOODRUFF: So, both of you believe teenagers, high school students, have no civil rights.
T. CARLSON: Oh, of course not.
T. CARLSON: But you're not a crackpot if you have religious objections to homosexual behavior. You're just not, despite the efforts of certain lobbies to make you sound like a member of a militia if you think there is something wrong with homosexuality. It's a legitimate religious-based point of view, even if you don't share it.
WOODRUFF: Well, we have got a topic for our next debate.
M. CARLSON: Judy, ask Courtney Carlson (ph). She had no rights as a teenager.
T. CARLSON: That's the spirit, Margaret.
WOODRUFF: All right, Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson, good to see you both. Thanks.
M. CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.
T. CARLSON: Thanks.
WOODRUFF: Well, one of our topics in a debate segment last week was President Bush's plan to spend a month on vacation at his Texas ranch. Our new poll shows more than half the people think the president's vacation plans are appropriate. That compares to last year, when a majority thought four weeks was too much time away from the White House. We'll see what happens this August.
Coming up: Brooks Jackson checks out some ads in the heated governor's race in Texas. He'll tell you which ones are stretching the truth.
WOODRUFF: In the Texas governor's race, the political ad war is getting hotter by the day. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates have unleashed new attack ads.
But, as our ad zapper, Brooks Jackson, shows us, viewers should not always believe what they hear.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Did Tony Sanchez, the Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, actually side with drug dealers? A brutal attack ad says he did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PERRY CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: ... laundered $25 million in drug money, stuffed into suitcases, flown to Texas, and deposited in his bank. (END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Republican Governor Rick Perry's campaign unleashed the ad at a news conference. And Sanchez responded quickly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SANCHEZ CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: Rick Perry is misleading you about something that happened almost 20 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON (on camera): Well, hold on. Who is telling the truth here? The basic facts are undisputed, but both sides are twisting them.
(voice-over): That suitcase image is not too far off. Two men later shown to be Mexican money launderers did bring in suitcases of money back in 1983 and '84. And officials of the Sanchez bank, Tesoro Savings & Loan, did meet them at Laredo's airport; $25 million was deposited over a period of months in 84 different accounts under various names. And the bank did wire $9 million of the money to Panama, despite IRS attempts to freeze it. None of that is in dispute.
But the Perry ad goes over the top right here:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PERRY CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: A federal judge confirmed Sanchez's bank wired millions in laundered drug money to Manuel Noriega's Panama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Whoa. Sanchez was never charged with anything, nor was his bank. The notorious Noriega was not involved at all. And the judge in question never said Sanchez's bank laundered anything, only that money was transferred. The judge now says Perry's ad takes his words out of context and calls the ad -- quote -- "political hyperbole," in other words, an exaggeration.
But the Sanchez ad also goes too far here:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SANCHEZ CAMPAIGN AD)
ANNOUNCER: And the bank was totally exonerated by the Department of Justice, two federal judges, and the IRS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Well, not quite.
It's true that one assistant federal prosecutor, when asked if Tesoro did not know the money was related to drugs, testified, "That's correct." And one IRS agent testified the bank acted like they were supposed to in cooperating with investigators. And a federal judge ruled the bank correctly did not freeze the money sent to Panama, ruling that it legally belonged to those in whose names it was deposited.
But that is not an exoneration by the IRS or Justice. They sued the bank, saying its officials should have known the $9 million was drug-related. Other former government lawyers involved in the case appeared at the Perry news conference, still accusing Sanchez of doing too little to help law enforcement. So that Sanchez claim is also an exaggeration.
(on camera): Sanchez says, back then, with the Mexican economy in turmoil, suitcases stuffed with legitimate Mexican millions were common, no need to suspect drug money at all -- a political ad war hotter than a bowl of Tex-Mex chili.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Those candidates better be careful.
A couple of ex-senators join forces for a good cause and a few laughs, that story is ahead.
But now let's look at what's coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" -- hi again, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hi, Judy.
A stunning announcement, and it does not bode well for the Olympics. Who do the feds believed rigged the Winter Games? And target: Saddam. Can he get his hands on nuclear weapons in six months? Also, the search for a serial killer brings attention to a college campus. Those stories and an exclusive CNN investigation on al Qaeda super cells at the top of the hour, right after INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Grab a big towel and some sunblock because, tomorrow, INSIDE POLITICS heads to the beach. We're going to tell you how the sand and surf are making waves in American life and American politics, for better and for worse.
And finally, two famous former senators have volunteered to promote President Bush's call to service in the USA Freedom Corps. Republican Bob Dole and Democrat John Glenn also poke fun at themselves in the new public service announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, USA FREEDOM CORPS AD)
ROBERT DOLE, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Kids, here's my favorite animal: strong, intelligent, ethical, dependable, compassionate and patriotic. By the way, where's John?
ANNOUNCER: Intelligent, strong, ethical, dependable, compassionate and patriotic.
BUSH: When you help your neighbors, you help your nation. Everyone can do something.
ANNOUNCER: Visit us at USAFreedomCorps.gov.
DOLE: When I was senator, I did a lot...
JOHN GLENN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR AND ASTRONAUT: After that, I was able to orbit the Earth in a great big rocket ship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: People are going to sign up after they watch this.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next. We thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.
And join us for our beach show tomorrow.
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