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White House Dismisses Defiant Hussein Speech; Speculation Surrounds a Second Term for Cheney

Aired August 8, 2002 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, GUEST HOST: I'm John King in Washington. A new show of defiance by Iraq's president is raising the prospects for Saddam versus Bush, the sequel.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Suzanne Malveaux with President Bush in Crawford, Texas today. The administration dismissing Saddam Hussein's speech as more of the same saber rattling.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bruce Morton in Washington. As Democrats and Republicans scout 2004 convention sites, I'll look back at some of the best and worst places for the parties to party.

KING: Also ahead, find out why the perfect storm may be coming to a television near you.

KING: Thanks for joining us, Judy is off this week. Iraq's Saddam Hussein warned today that any strike against his country is, quote, "doomed to failure." The defiant talk comes as the Bush administration intensifies its military plan and as key members of Congress warn the White House it had better seek their advice and support before trying to remove the Iraqi leader from power. Hussein used an anniversary celebration to try to sound threatening instead of threatened.

TRANSLATOR: The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their backs to die in disgraceful failure, taking their skins back with them or to dig their own graves after they bring death to themselves.

KING: For more on what the Iraqi president said and how it will impact the political debate here in the United States, CNN's Rym Brahimi joining us now live from Baghdad. Tough talk from Saddam Hussein, meant for the United States or meant more for the domestic audience in Iraq?

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a bit of both, John, really. Tough talk as you say. A lot of it was the usual rhetoric that Saddam Hussein is now famous for calling the American forces, of evil and forces of darkness, if you will. So that wasn't much of a surprise. He said things like that before but this was actually the first time that he real directly responded to those U.S. threats since they actually began toward the end of last year.

Now, as you've seen also probably, this talk, this tough talk, this rhetoric was backed up by a show of force. There have been a couple of military parades here in Baghdad. There was one earlier this morning, about 10,000 volunteers, John, marching in the streets of Baghdad. They were armed. They were chanting slogans, saying they support their president. Actually one of the slogans went, "Bush, listen well, we all love Saddam Hussein."

So this is obviously for public consumption in many ways, but it's also -- they know that there is media around. They know that we're going to film it. It's also a way of saying, we're preparing. We're doing what we can, and look, the people are backing the president -- John.

KING: Rym, we see a military parade, but any sense at all of any military preparations in Baghdad and around the country that would give you a sense of what Saddam Hussein views as a timetable whether he thinks U.S. military action is imminent or down the road?

BRAHIMI: Well, John, it's very difficult to tell here in Iraq, because obviously you see very little in terms of military, real military preparations. When you leave Baghdad, you can see few tanks being moved here and there, nothing very threatening, to be honest, from what I understand. But that's about it.

You do feel though, John, that security has been tightened and in the past few days, especially since the offer to invite the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix over to Baghdad was dismissed by the U.S., and President Bush said that no matter what happened with the inspectors, he actually still wanted regime change. Well, you can sense that there's been increasing tension. You can sense also that by the fact that there have been a lot of high level meetings with the president and members of his cabinet.

He's been meeting with his very, very top political and military advisers and you can sense some measure of tension and there are a lot of checkpoints around Baghdad. Again, you need to sort of leave Baghdad to have a better idea of what's going on -- John.

KING: Rym Brahimi live from Baghdad. Thank you very much for that. And now the Bush administration's response. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is with the president in Crawford, Texas. Saddam (sic), any reaction from the administration, anything at all that he said, Saddam Hussein said that would change the president's posture?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely not. The White House basically saying this was insignificant. White House spokesperson Scott McCullen saying and I'm quoting here, "the Iraqi government needs to meet its obligations." Those obligations meaning to rid the country of any weapons of mass destruction.

He went on to say that the president has not made any decisions in terms of carrying out U.S. policy, that policy being regime change, the ousting of Saddam Hussein. He also went on to say that the U.S. is not going to act without first consulting with Congress as well as our U.S. allies. But make no mistake John, despite this dismissal, this is really a top priority of this administration, dealing with Iraq, dealing with Saddam Hussein. As you know it was just Monday when we saw General Tommy Franks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the White House with President Bush, talking specifically about this before he left for his Crawford ranch.

We're also going to see the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice here next week as well as Rumsfeld, again addressing those type of issues. This is a top priority for this administration and despite the fact that they played this down, this is something that is coming up in high level meetings.

Also wanted to tell you aside, that it is not of course all work and no play. We are told the president in his first full day here at the ranch. He woke up at 6:30 a.m., went for a three-mile run. He then decided to chop some wood. He is spending some time with the first lady. We are told not to expect to see him in public for the next couple of days -- John.

KING: All right, Suzanne Malveaux from nearby the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, thank you very much.

And as war talk increases, leaders of several Iraqi opposition groups are here in Washington. They're scheduled to meet tomorrow with senior U.S. military and diplomatic officials to offer their ideas for overthrowing and perhaps replacing Saddam Hussein. The opposition leaders say the Iraqi president is trying to delay a U.S. attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iraqi military is not willing to fight and die for Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi military has been humiliated, insulted, oppressed, tortured, murdered, their families have been abused by Saddam Hussein. No stretch of the imagination would make them want to defend Saddam Hussein, and that is the truth of the situation inside Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us now to offer insight from Capitol Hill, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, a top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, this president, President Bush has said that if he is to go to war with Iraq, he will deeply consult the U.S. Congress. Are those consultations underway? Do you view military action as imminent?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: Well, I'm not aware of the consultations and I would not see military action as imminent. But I thought the president's statement in Mississippi was very important and certainly, Senator Biden, who conducted the hearings with me last week would say that we both want to support the president. We both would like to consult with him. And I think that there are grounds to do so as we begin to refine really what has to happen here.

There are some parallels with Afghanistan in which the president indicated earlier, the Taliban, that they got rid of al Qaeda. That, to my relief then, at least for the moment, the world is saying that, including ourselves with Saddam, that he has to give up the weapons of mass destruction.

Now we need to be thinking as a country and the president specifically, about how after the regime changes, we actually get our hands on what are sometimes estimators, 300 installations scattered all over the country. What kind of regime change, who will be in the new regime? What kind of people can we depend upon at that stage? Therefore, the conferences about what after are almost equally as important as how the war is to be fought.

KING: Well sir, if no consultations about military action have taken place with you, a very influential Republican, and no consultations about how many peacekeepers if Saddam Hussein is overthrown, how much money, what sort of government would you try to put in place. As you noted the Afghanistan example. This has to be months away, in your view?

LUGAR: Not necessarily. And I would just say for all I know, consultation might occur fairly soon. But it appears to me, just reading the press that the White House is visiting with our military leaders. They're thinking through a number of tactical or strategic moves that would be important given the basing that's going to be required, the number of forces, the timetables, the type of equipment or armament we need. The basic planning is occurring. My guess is there are going to be manifestations of that almost every day.

KING: Inevitable comparison to the former President Bush and the Persian Gulf War of more than a decade ago. This would be a very different Iraqi military the United States would go up against if indeed there is a military action. We're going to show our viewers some numbers here. In 1991 Iraq had nearly 1 million troops, fewer than half that now, 400,000.

At 5,500 tanks in the Persian Gulf war, about 2,600 now according the reliable estimates. The number of aircraft also more than cut in half, from 300 now, about 689, so close to 700 back in the Persian Gulf war. How does that change? How does the strength of the Iraqi military or the weakness of it, you might say, change the calculations in your view about what it would take for the United States to successfully topple Saddam Hussein, president makes no bones about it that, would be the objective this time.

LUGAR: Well, it changes everything a great deal. But also changed is the fact that we had 23 air bases available for our aircraft last time. We had 500,000 people with a possibility of basing in Saudi Arabia. Those situations clearly are not in the cards for the moment. And in the German election, the chancellor is saying Germany will not be a part of.

We know that even Tony Blair with the Labor party in Great Britain has some problems in public opinion polls. This is why a lot of preparation in terms of our own diplomacy and our own basing strategies are of the essence because that is changed too. President Bush the former was able to call on the phone the Japanese leadership, and they pledged money, $48 billion of the $61 billion the war cost.

That preparation probably has not started, at least I have not seen evidence of it, but it really is important in terms of the cost of this to the American taxpayer plus the cost of the aftermath.

KING: And senator, quickly, last time it wasn't much of a fight on the ground but it was a desert war. This time there are indications Saddam Hussein saying he would leave his troops in the city, the major cities of Iraq, not only Baghdad but around Iraq, forcing if the United States troops went in, for them to go into urban areas not only to fight the military but also significantly raising the stakes for civilian casualties. Are there both military and psychological calculations there?

LUGAR: Well, let me just say that I'm not going to try to stake out the work of the military here. I thought military people of the United States performed brilliantly in Afghanistan in ways that none of us could have foreseen. And I would say that that is probably going to be the case in Iraq also. So I have confidence that we're going to get the job done.

The problem will be after we do, specifically how do we move to the weapons of mass destruction. I still think that is the basic objective and that is one in which the world shares our anxiety because those weapons could be used on the neighbors and ultimately can be spear-headed out to be used in this country.

KING: Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, a leading voice on international (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on Capitol Hill. Sir, thank you very much for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you.

And we'll talk more about the politics of an attack on Iraq when the party chairmen go head to head next. They'll face off over the Hispanic vote. And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER: Halliburton, Harken, Halliburton/Harken, Cheney/Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Ralph Nader challenges the White House response to corporate corruption, and will the issue prompt him to run for president again? And in Florida, is Jeb Bush riding (ph) on the new crowd? This is INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us to go on the record today, Governor Marc Racicot, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Thank you, gentlemen, both for joining us today from Las Vegas.

Terry, the reason you are there is the Democratic party's annual meeting. On the agenda today a new effort to reach out to Latino, Hispanic voters in the midterm election year. Tell us specifically, we know why it is important voting block, but tell us what you will do to try to court it. TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Well, it's not really a new effort. I'd say it's more aggressive outreach that the party's done before. As you know the Democratic party received 66 percent of the Hispanic vote in this country.

There are 5,000 Hispanic elected office holders in America. Ninety-two percent of those are Democrats. We have 500 candidates running at the state and local level this year. So we're very excited. But our message today is a continuation of outreach in the Hispanic community. We need to make sure that every vote out there we are getting, we earn every single vote and we are talking about the kitchen table issues of job creation, education, Social Security, prescription drug benefit which resonates in the Hispanic community.

KING: Governor Racicot, I assume you believe the Republicans have just as good a horse in this race, if you will. But Terry does make an interesting point. Back in the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore won 62 percent of the Hispanic vote, just 35 percent for then Governor George W. Bush. So what are the Republicans doing, and do you concede that you have your work cut out for you here?

MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, I think that we are always as party challenge to make certain that we engage as many of our fellow citizens as we possibly can, especially those that may have not traditionally been aligned either with one party or another or with a party that we presume them to be aligned with.

The president feels very strongly about the grass roots efforts that we have undertaken. His cabinet obviously reflects that. The appointments that he has made are the most diverse in the history of America. We have a very aggressive effort that is built upon the notion that if we are engaged in a relevant fashion, prioritizing issues, listening carefully, sincerely working with our fellow citizens in the Hispanic communities across the country, the power of our ideals, the values of the party will attract them to our efforts.

KING: The economy obviously a major issue in the midterm elections. The president and the Bush administration mounting a concerted effort, a forum next week in Waco, Texas, speeches just yesterday but both the president and the vice president trying to convince the American people, yes, there's turmoil on Wall Street. Yes, you see headlines about corporate corruption, but in this White House is viewed that the economy is quite strong. Listen here to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will continue to work to build the economics, the foundations for economic security for our people. And I believe the foundation is strong. Listen, our economy is growing. It's getting better. Inflation is low. The great news and I'm not surprised at this, is that worker productivity is increasing dramatically. I'm not surprised because I know the American people.

KING: Terry McAuliffe, is the Republican president right? Is the economy growing and getting stronger by the day?

MCAULIFFE: Listen, everybody out there today is very worried about the economy. I think next week in Waco, unfortunately it's just a photo op. No Democrats were invited no. No members of Congress were even invited John, to go to Waco. So it's basically a waste of time.

If you want to have real reform, you want to get things happening in this country, I think the president needs to call a bipartisan summit, bring Democrats, which they are willing to do, they're willing to cooperate with the president, have everybody sit down in a room and talk about our economy -- 1.8 million people have lost their jobs since George Bush became president.

People are very worried about the economy and all we've seen so far is the blame game. Let's blame the predecessor. When Bill Clinton became president of this country, he had a seven percent unemployment rate. He had a budget deficit, the worst our country has ever seen. His first quarter was recession and he didn't blame his predecessor. He got to work. And what the result was, we had the greatest economic expansion in the history of our country, 22 million new jobs created in this country. And then yesterday you saw Vice President Cheney.

The only thing he said that got the economy going was the rebate checks that went out to citizens last year, but as you know, that was Democratic proposal that we put into...

KING: Let me stop you, Terry McAuliffe. Governor Racicot, how do you respond and why not have the president of the United States sit down with Democrats and Republicans alike. Some Republicans view this as a trap, if you will, to reconsider the tax cuts and all that.

RACICOT: Well, in the first place, John, my colleague is shamelessly opportunistic here and inaccurate. The fact of the matter is, there is an economic agenda before Congress. The president has moved very, very aggressively with the domestic agenda. The tax relief measures, historic in their significance were put into place with bipartisan support. That's one step forward. The education agenda was a major step forward. It's all a part of the economic development package.

KING: Has the president of the United States affirmatively made the case to the American people that he would be justified in using U.S. military forces to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Chairman Racicot first.

RACICOT: Well, let me tell you plainly, this is a very serious and very grave issue and politics has absolutely no part to play in the discussion of that particular issue. I think the president has indicated quite obviously what he thinks about the situation, how it ought to be addressed. He indicated yesterday he's going to be consulting with Congress and our allies around the world. And I think that's precisely how the issue ought to be left. So we were not going to play politics with that issue in any way whatsoever.

KING: Has he made the case, Terry McAuliffe?

MCAULIFFE: I'm glad to hear now that he is going to consult with the Congress. That was obviously the top concern. I think Chairman Joe Biden and the Senate committee did an excellent job last week in his hearings. This is not a political issue. I'm glad the chairman has said that and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

This is not a political issue and we'll support the president 100 percent out there. Brave men and women fighting all over this country so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

KING: Will the 2004 ticket include the name Dick Cheney? One of the topics in our taking issue segment after the break.

Also, tightening security near the White House. A look at the new rules taking effect first thing tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat led a Palestinian delegation today in meeting with with top U.S. officials including the secretary of state, Colin Powell. After their talk, Secretary Powell said the discussions were in his word, quote, "a good exchange."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I reaffirmed to the ministers that the president is committed to doing everything possible to find a way forward, recognizing the difficulties that exist, and condemning the violence that afflicts the region and occasionally thwarts our ability to move forward. We will not be deterred. We will continue to move forward.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Recovery efforts continue at the site of last night's crash of an Air Force cargo plane in Puerto Rico. Military officials say none of the 10 personnel on board survived. The plane crashed into a mountaintop during a storm about 20 miles from San Juan.

The Secret Service is tightening security near the White House. Beginning tomorrow all parking will be banned on the stretch of 17th Street, which runs beside the Eisenhower executive office building next to the White House. Large trucks will be banned from this street as well. The Secret Service says the rules were not prompted by any specific threat.

With us now former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, who joins us from Las Vegas and here in Washington, Bay Buchanan, president of the conservative American Cause. Ladies, let's get straight down to the debate of the economy. I'm sorry, let's go first to the debate over Vice President Dick Cheney. He says, if willing, he's ready to be at the president's side in 2004. Dick Cheney, let's listen to him first.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF TEH UNITED STATES: If the president is willing and if my wife approves and if the doctors say its OK, then I'd be happy to serve a second term. But I emphasize again, that's the president's call, not mine.

KING: Bay Buchanan, any reason to believe Dick Cheney won't be there.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRES., AMERICAN CAUSE: No. And I think the president should hope that he can be there, God willing, and all of us do. He has done an outstanding job and I think his answer was perfect.

He serves at the pleasure of the president, and the consent of his wife and doctor. I think that works real well.

KING: Donna Brazile...

DONNA BRAZILE, CHAIRWOMAN, DNC'S VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well, John, perhaps he needs to wait until the SEC completes its investigation to see if the doctors at the SEC will give him a green slip to go forward after the investigation on Halliburton. So I guess that's one secret in Washington, D.C. that the cat's out of the bag. Dick Cheney and Halliburton is under investigation.

BUCHANAN: You know, Donna, as opposed to the former president, someone you were close, he doesn't have to wait for the investigation to be over because he knows how it's going to end. He did nothing wrong. He already knows that.

BRAZILE: Who is he talking to, Miss Cleo? Who is he talking to, Miss Cleo?

BUCHANAN: He did nothing wrong.

BRAZILE: We don't know.

BUCHANAN: Yes, we know he is the one that said it.

BRAZILE: What we know and what the American people know is that when Dick Cheney, under his stewardship and stewardship at Halliburton, some things, some books were cooked. And so I think it's time he released the data and the documents and let the investigation proceed.

BUCHANAN: You know, Donna, you may have missed it but Bob Novak reported today in his column that it looks as if the books were cooked in respect to the economy in the Commerce Department under Bill Clinton for the last two years. Nobody's saying it was done deliberately but some things were done that now show that we were not doing so well these last two years. Things could have happened in Halliburton that maybe Dick Cheney didn't know about, too.

BRAZILE: Well, Bay, if -

KING: Time out, time out. BRAZILE: If books were cooked, the recipe came from the 1980s.

BUCHANAN: They held over for 10 years.

KING: We're going to move on, ladies, and we're not going to ask Donna whether she reads Bob Novak or not. We'll save that for another day. I want both of your thoughts on a very interesting debate playing out in the state of Florida, a debate about whether a woman, if she wants to put her child up for adoption, but does not know who the father is, needs to go public so that the father could step forward and voice his opinion in the case.

It's a case that has polarized people down there, a right obviously to a woman's privacy but also a debate about father's rights. I want to show you some quotes from some attorneys involved in the case. First, this quote from Charlotte Danciu, who's the attorney for the plaintiff. Quote, would you want your deepest darkest secret to be published for all to read? It has a tremendous chilling effect on women having their child placed up for adoption.

But arguing the other side is attorney Michael McCormick for the American Coalition of Fathers and Children. He says that argument strikes him as somewhat hypocritical. We're concerned or worried about the reputation and what this says about the woman at the expense of that child's relationship to the father. Bay Buchanan, should a single parent, a mother, who does not know who the father is, have to go public with all the men she may have had sexual relationships with before putting that child up for adoption?

BUCHANAN: You know, John, I understand this law and I think it has very good intent and I think with some adjustment that it's an excellent law, because what they're trying to do is all the cases we hear of just heartbreaking, where these adoptive parents take the child in, become bonded. It's a healthy relationship for everyone and find out that a father hasn't been properly notified and he has his rights to parenthood and it's a mess for everyone. To stop that, we're trying to put some pressure on the woman to come clean as to who the father could be and I think there's many cases and in most of the cases we hear about, the woman does know or has some clue and just is a little embarrassed about telling so.

But I think that if the man has violated any law in conceiving that child, he has no right so the judge was right to throw out any rape...

KING: Quickly Donna Brazile, the last word.

BRAZILE: Bay, you're showing your passion today, but let me just say this is outrageous. Look, once a notification go out, if the guy want to fess up and come clean and claim the child, he should. But to allow sexual information and a woman's past sexual history to be published in a local newspaper is just outrageous and an invasion of privacy and unconstitutional. And there are other ways to get at this data without putting that information in the newspaper.

BUCHANAN: Well... KING: All right, ladies, ladies, we need to end it there. We will resume this at another point.

Thank you both, Bay Buchanan here in Washington, Donna Brazile in Las Vegas today.

BUCHANAN: Thank you, John.

BRAZILE: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you both very much.

A husband and wife prepare to square off on the November ballot ahead in "Campaign News Daily."

And up next: "Inside Buzz" on the media swarm gathering in TV land, as political ad spending skyrockets this election season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Time now for some "Inside Buzz" on political advertising, where Madison Avenue meets Pennsylvania Avenue.

With me now is David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, from a media perspective, what challenges will candidates face this fall?

DAVID PEELER, CNN MEDIA CONSULTANT: Well, John, the political weather forecast really lays out like this.

If you look at it, this is the last election cycle before the effects of campaign finance kick in. So, what we have are some very competitive races with national consequence. You have an awful lot of dollars being spent. All this combines to equal an awful lot of political ads. And what we see is really the growing media equivalent of the perfect storm.

And, as an example of that, let's take a look at a market like Paducah, Kentucky. If you look at Paducah, Kentucky, it has a very -- it has a Senate race. It has a competitive House race. But the Paducah media market covers Illinois, which has a very competitive Senate race, a governor's race, and competitive House races; Missouri, with a Senate race and a House race.

So, in total, you're looking at 10 competitive races covering three states all affecting the people in this media market. You know, already, since Labor Day, we have seen over 8,000 political ads run in Paducah. And, at this rate, it looks like over 30,000 will run by October. In comparison, a McDonald's, a Burger King, a Hardee's, those fast-food kind of -- advertisers run a lot of ads, probably run somewhere around 500 to 1,000 during that same time period. So you're talking about a tremendous amount of weight in those markets.

KING: OK, David, so if I owned a TV station in Paducah, I'd be making a lot of money. How does it look in markets across the rest of the nation?

PEELER: Well, that's what's interesting.

As you take a look at the national perspective, there are about 10 markets that have all the same formulation for this same kind of effect, all the way from Portland, Maine; down to El Paso, Texas; and all along the Southeast. When you add to that key races in New York, California, Florida and New Jersey, we expect that, by the time this is all said and done, we're talking about $1 billion. That is $1 billion with a "b" in ad spending in 2002.

And what's important to note is, this is a nonpresidential year. So, there's a tremendous amount of money, a tremendous amount of clutter going on in these markets all at one time. This is about a six-week window.

KING: A lot of clutter.

Any other problems, then, for candidates as we look ahead between now to November?

PEELER: Well, I think the challenge this year for candidates -- it's is a challenge for a lot of advertisers in general.

The networks have elongated how long they take to roll out their fall programming schedule, so it takes a longer period of time for audiences to gather and then for advertisers to find that audience. This really affects political advertising, because they got to do it by the first Tuesday in November.

But I think the second big issue that nobody's ever had to deal with before -- remember, advertising is about creating an environment and a mood and it's about persuasion. We have September 11. Even here on Madison Avenue, nobody really knows how to handle the September 11 anniversary issue. Do you advertise? Do you pull off? If you pull off, you're out of the market for a period of time. A candidate, that's a risky bet.

If you advertise, what's the message that you send? It is going to have to be crafted very, very carefully. And I think it is a challenge for anybody in this election season.

KING: A challenge and something to watch as September 11 closes in on us.

David Peeler, thanks very much for joining us today from New York.

PEELER: Thank you.

KING: And Bob Novak joins us from now the "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University with some "Inside Buzz."

Bob, I understand you have been checking up on how the group EMILY's List is performing this primary season? ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not very well, John.

EMILY's List was set up to get liberal Democratic, pro-choice women elected and nominated. And they had a tremendous loss Tuesday. Lynn Rivers, Congresswoman Lynn Rivers lost to John Dingell in that big primary in Michigan. And they had previously lost in Illinois, when Nancy Kaszak, who they put a lot of money into, lost to Rahm Emanuel. They have lost six big House races.

So the question is, how important and how valuable is an EMILY's List endorsement these days?

KING: Not a complete loss, though. We had Jennifer Granholm on the program yesterday. She's the Michigan candidate, the Democrat, for governor now. EMILY's List must be happy about that race.

NOVAK: I wouldn't say EMILY's List put her through, but she won a big win over a former governor and a former House Democratic whip. She is a rising star. She's a heavy favorite to be elected. If she is, she is going to supplant Hillary Rodham Clinton as the best bet to go on a Democratic national ticket, if not in '04, in '08. She's only 43 years old and a coming political superstar.

KING: All right.

Just a few months back, Republicans would have said, if you asked, "Where are the key Senate races?" they would have said Congressman Greg Ganske, in the Republican Party's view, had a pretty good chance of knocking off incumbent Tom Harkin, the Democrat in Iowa. Second thoughts?

NOVAK: Right now, the Republican strategists have downgraded that to only the sixth best seat for a Republican takeover. It's mainly a matter of money. Ganske had a tough Republican primary. He's down to about $600,000 in money, way below $3 million that Harkin has. Harkin is a favorite.

And, by the way, they have put Torricelli now -- who is coming up from nowhere because of his censure by the Ethics Committee -- he is now considered by the Republicans the fourth most likely Democrat to be defeated.

KING: All right, and one more point. We noted the other day when President Bush was in Pennsylvania that he had passed the $100 million mark, raised $101 million now for Republicans in this cycle. But he's not the only fund-raiser in the family, is he?

NOVAK: That's right.

Laura Bush, the first lady, next Wednesday will travel from the ranch to the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin for a fund-raiser for State Attorney General John Cornyn, who is in a very tight race for the U.S. Senate against former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

Now, if you want to go to that Four Seasons lunch, if you just want lunch, you can get by for only $250. If you want a whole table, it's $2,500. But, John, if you want your picture taken with Laura Bush: $5,000 cash on the barrelhead next Wednesday at the Four Seasons in Austin.

KING: All right, Bob, if you go, I hope you'll show me the picture when you come back.

Bob Novak, on the "CROSSFIRE" set, thank you very much.

NOVAK: Thank you, John.

KING: Now checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily": Florida Governor Jeb Bush is reaching out to various interest groups in his race for reelection. Today's audience: the leather-clad biker set. The Republican incumbent spent time today at Jim's Harley Shop in St. Petersburg. Later, he delivered a speech to the Tampa Bay Black Republicans.

The governor's potential Democratic opponent, Janet Reno, sat down for an interview with a gay radio talk show. Reno addressed a variety of topics, including her support for adoptions by gay couples.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET RENO (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: There will be some times when a gay couple is not suited to adopt. There will be times when a heterosexual couple is not suitable to adopt. Let's look at the facts in each case and make a decision based on what's right.

QUESTION: So you would support changing the law in the state of Florida?

RENO: Very much so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Robert Torricelli's ethics problems appear to have affected his standing in a new Quinnipiac University poll. Torricelli and his Republican challenger, Douglas Forrester, are in a dead heat at 37 percent each in the survey. The June poll showed Torricelli with an eight-point lead.

And, in Kansas, the stage is set for a husband and wife to square off in the race for a district judgeship. You may recall Judge Steve Becker and his wife, attorney Sarah Sweet-McKinnon, from their appearance on this program earlier this summer. On Tuesday, Becker won the GOP primary. His wife was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. They will face each other in November.

Do members of Congress deserve a pay raise? Up next, we will talk to former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader about his latest campaign against the powers that be.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: When he was the Green Party candidate for president back in campaign 2000, consumer advocate Ralph Nader often complained there wasn't much difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

I spoke with Nader and asked if he thinks it's a good or a bad thing that the two parties worked closely together on that legislation designed to crack down on corporate corruption.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RALPH NADER, FORMER GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's an interesting thing, because it has the November elections written on it, all over it.

The Republicans catered to the Democrat's version of the corporate crime bill because they didn't want to have this be an issue in the election. Now the Democrats are faced with the challenge of, how do they propose the second installment of corporate accountability, like disgorgement of ill-gotten gains by the crooked bosses, stock-option expensing, no more Bermuda tax havens, etcetera.

And how do they do that and draw a bright line, so they can campaign on it in November? That's the challenge of the next few weeks.

KING: One way they have tried to do draw that line is to say that Bush and Cheney can't lead the charge because of Bush's Harken experience, Harken Energy, an SEC investigation. No charges brought, but the Democrats bring it up -- the ongoing investigation of Halliburton while Dick Cheney was the CEO. Is that fair?

NADER: Yes, it is fair, because Bush got the sweetheart loan from Harken Energy. Bush sold the stock before the Harken Energy stock tanked, even though he was on the board of directors and the audit committee and he knew about it.

So, actually, Bush and Cheney could have led the fight, because it could have said to the business world: "Hey, it takes one to know one. We know what you're up to and we know how to stop it." But they're two corporatists. The Democrats have a good issue here. It's going to continue: "Halliburton, Harken, Halliburton, Harken, Cheney, Bush."

KING: And amid all this, one of the things you are upset about is that, in a time of economic uncertainty, certainly turmoil on Wall Street -- some question about whether the economy has come out of recession and has sustainable growth -- it's doing better, but the question as to how long -- Congress raises its pay.

NADER: They're moving next month to raise their pay another $5,000 to $155,000, not to mention their lavish perks and the great health insurance, terrific, generous pension, life insurance, housing deduction.

This is at a time of rising unemployment, a frozen minimum wage at $5.15 federal, which is $2.50 less in purchasing power than it was in 1968. At a time of growing recession, at a time of a burgeoning government deficit, they want to feather their own nest. Senate Feingold is going to fight it right to the mat. The fight is going to be in the U.S. Senate. The phone number -- it's a switchboard -- is 225-3121 in Washington, D.C.

KING: Is your argument they don't deserve the money or that they should do a lot of other things if they are to get the money? And you think they should be more public about this.

NADER: They are very well paid. They are very well paid.

They're paid five times the median female worker income, not counting their perks, et cetera, not counting they can get luscious jobs after they leave Congress, in terms of becoming corporate lobbyists. But they are not a moral authority when they do that and when they sit on millions of Americans who have to try to make ends meet on $5.15 an hour. They haven't raised the minimum wage since 1997. They've raised their own wage eight times since 1989. And now they do it without a public hearing and without a roll-call vote.

They stick it in the Treasury postal appropriations bill in order to avoid public accountability. That's a sniveling performance by both Democrats and Republicans, with the exception of Senator Feingold.

KING: As we close, Ralph Nader ran third as a Green Party candidate in 2004, but obviously had an impact in a race that was so close, decided in the courts, if you will. Does Ralph Nader think he should run again and will again as the Green Party nominee in 2004?

NADER: Well, it really is too early to tell. I want to wait until after the 2002 elections. I don't particularly like long campaigns.

But I think definitely, whether I do or not, I want to help support a new political movement that will clean up Washington and give the American people the voice they deserve, because the two parties are in the hands of corporate lobbyists.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Democrat Patty Murray goes underground. When we return, the Senate campaign point woman rides the subway with our Jonathan Karl and rides herd on the Republicans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As Democrats try to make economic anxiety the top issue this fall, Patty Murray is one of the top senators with the job of pinning the blame on the GOP.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairwoman joined our Jonathan Karl on the Capitol Subway.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, Senator Murray, welcome to the "Subway Series."

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Hey, it's great to be with you on this.

KARL: Well, we've got a major, obviously, battle for control of the Senate here. But before we get to that, I remember you as the mom in tennis shoes getting $25 contributions and winning a come-from- behind victory in 1992 in Washington. The tennis shoes are gone.

MURRAY: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Now you're raising $70 million, you've helped raise, for the Senatorial Committee.

MURRAY: That's right.

KARL: What's happened to you?

MURRAY: And it's the same thing I did in my very first race, when I ran for the school board and had to do a garage sale to raise enough money to print a few little brochures. And I realized, this is not the way you raise money. You've got to ask people. You've got to say that: "This is what we stand for. Will you invest in us?"

And when you do that, you get support behind you. You get help for your candidates. And you get the message of your cause out there.

KARL: Now, some of that money you're using now in South Dakota. Your committee has just put up an ad really attacking John Thune quite strongly on the whole issue of corporate responsibility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Who voted against tough new accounting rules? John Thune.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Is this a sense of what's to come? Is this the kind of campaign that we're going to see this fall?

MURRAY: I think there is a real mood change in the country, as people have watched first the Enrons and all the way to the WorldComs. And even bigger than just an accounting scandal, they're watching people at the top who have made millions of dollars walk away.

And they're sitting there and their retirement is gone. They don't feel secure. They don't know if they're going to be able to pay for their kids' education. And they're saying, "Whose side is this government on?"

KARL: OK, but, now, the Republican Senatorial Committee has put out this 43-page document. I just have a couple pages here, because I couldn't bring it all with me.

MURRAY: It took them that long to get to their point, I see. KARL: But the thing is here that they list money from questionable corporations, corporations like Global Crossing and Enron and WorldCom, given to Democrats; and, look, Tom Daschle more than $200,000; Robert Torricelli, who is running this year, $123,000. They even have you down here as accepting more than $90,000 from these corporations that are under scrutiny right now.

MURRAY: Well -- and I think that's where people believe in the integrity of the Democrats, that we will take what we need to be able to go out and get on television and fight for our causes in view of everybody. But when we come here, we make sure that an education policy encompasses everybody. We make sure that the pension-reform system works for everybody.

KARL: But aren't you compromised by the fact that you've taken so much money from the very corporations that are in trouble right now?

MURRAY: I don't feel the least bit compromised. My constituents know exactly who I am and who I fight for. They've watched me battle on the floor of the Senate for many issues that affect them, making sure that they have the opportunities, that they come -- because I have raised money for the DSCC doesn't mean I've lost who I am.

KARL: So, you're the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Committee. Give us your assessment of the race right now. Obviously, the battle for control of the Senate, it's wide open. Where do things stand now? And do the Democrats have a good chance of picking up seats?

MURRAY: You know, it depends on what happens. We're three months away from the election. We all know that a day can change everything. But, right now, I see anywhere between two and five Republican seats right now as opportunities, that, if we continue to be able to do what we've been doing, there's opportunities to pick up seats.

KARL: Let me ask you. Another race that could complicate things for you, obviously, is New Jersey. And Robert Torricelli has been, what was it, severely admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee. Are you uncomfortable with a candidate like that?

MURRAY: You know, Bob apologized to his colleagues. He apologized to his constituents. And I think his words stand for his own...

KARL: Well, Senator Murray, we have come to the end of the ride. I thank you very much for going on the subway with us.

MURRAY: All right.

KARL: And we'll be watching you through the fall campaign.

MURRAY: All right, thank you. Nice to talk with you.

KARL: Thanks a lot. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Our Bruce Morton rates the convention cities in just a moment, but first let's got to Miles O'Brien with a preview of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

MILES O'BRIEN, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": All right, thank you very much, John.

We are following a new development in the murder trial of Danielle van Dam. We'll keep you posted on that. Also: Legalizing marijuana, did you know it's a real possibility? Learn where voters are able to choose on that. And swimming with the sharks: Tourists fall into to a tank full of them. What happened to them? We'll tell you. Those stories, plus Saddam strikes back with a warning, right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Republicans searching for a 2004 convention site are in Tampa-St. Petersburg. The Democrats made a second visit yesterday to Boston, a sign that city is a strong contender for the party's big party.

Our Bruce Morton has been to several decades worth of conventions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Well, the place has to have enough hotel rooms, of course, and a big hall. And you want it to be a place where the delegates will have fun. But that's hard to predict that ahead of time.

San Francisco: great city, swell restaurants, cable cars, bridges. Barry Goldwater and the Republican conservatives had fun there in 1964, but moderate Nelson Rockefeller got booed, not much fun for him. And when Democrats went in 1984, Republicans blasted them for going to hippie heaven, as if they had gathered in what was left of Haight-Ashbury. And Walter Mondale, their nominee, carried just one state that fall.

Chicago's a fine convention town: great music, great food again. But the cops attacked anti-war protesters when the Democrats went there in 1968. And it turned into what an investigation later called a police riot. The Dems went back in 1996, and things were a lot quieter, and their man won, so that was OK.

Miami Beach? Sun, sand, stone crabs, key lime pie. But Richard Nixon, nominated there in 1968, chose a running mate -- "Spiro who?" one well-known reporter asked -- who later turned out to be a crook. And George McGovern in 1972 had a convention so rowdy, people thought of Democrats as the radical hippie party for the next 20 years or so. And he picked a running mate who later withdrew. And McGovern, like Mondale, wound up carrying just one state. It takes a lot of stone crabs to make up for that. Detroit? Republicans went there in 1980. The city was still trying to recover from its 1967 riot. And it was never a big-time party town, anyway. But the GOP nominated Ronald Reagan, their most successful candidate, in decades.

The Big Apple? Democrats go there a lot. One year, I remember, they got to Madison Square Garden just after the circus had left and one corner of the hall still smelled strongly of elephants. They nominated Jimmy Carter there twice, Bill Clinton once. And, hey, winning two out of three isn't bad.

(on camera): The parties have also gone to Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Everybody liked it: good climate, ocean breezes and all that. The man nominated there, Bob Dole, lost, of course. But nobody blamed San Diego.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Bruce knows conventions.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is up next. I'm John King. Thanks for watching.

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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