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Farrakhan Denies Anti-Semitism; Bush Stuck with Supporting Tainted California Candidate; Congress May Digitize Mail System

Aired August 23, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan goes on the record this hour. I'll ask him if, as critics charge, he's promoting political tensions between black and Jewish Americans.

LOUIS FARRAKHAN, NATION OF ISLAM: If you dare to take a position that is just where the Palestinians are concerned, then you are considered dangerous.


JOHN KING, SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King in Stockton, California. I will tell you why the president's fundraising trip here is stirring a corporate corruption debate in a way the White House doesn't like.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Los Angeles. Here's the concept. President Bush meets Smokey the Bear. Get it? You will when you see the political play of the week.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We begin with President Bush stepping gingerly around political minefields in California. Mr. Bush is trying to raise money for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon without appearing too close to Simon or his political problems. So as our senior White House correspondent John King reports, the day's campaign photo ops and themes are being kept to a minimum.


BILL SIMON, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, I can't tell you how grateful that we are for to you be here and for your support.

KING (voice-over): For Bill Simon, more than 3 million reasons to be happy today. A much needed visit by the Republican parties for a mere fund-raiser.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm honored to be back to work on behalf of the next governor of the state of California, Governor Bill Simon.

KING: But for the president, this is an awkward date. Corporate corruption is a major theme in the midterm elections and a major issue for the struggling Simon campaign.

DAVIS FOR GOVERNOR AD: Two of Bill Simon's businesses were accused of accounting irregularities. Another is being sued for fraud.

KING: The IRS is investigating an offshore Simon tax shelter, and his family business was recently ordered to pay a $78 million fraud judgment. Privately, White House officials are steaming that Simon didn't tell them about the fraud case, but in public the president has little choice but to offer support.

BUSH: Bill Simon assures us that when the courts look at this case, he will be innocent. I take the man for his word. The most comprehensive corporate reforms...

KING: But now that corporate responsibility is a major midterm campaign issue and a staple issue of the Bush stump speech, many Democrats question the public White House line that Mr. Bush is proud to be here, proud to be at Simon's side.

BILL CARRICK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Big problem for the president is he made this decision to come out here before it was clear that Simon was going to be in all this trouble. And I think if they had to make the decision over again, the president would have probably stayed in Crawford for a few extra days.

KING: California Republicans applaud the president's party loyalty in taking a long-term view, say this visit can't but help in a state Mr. Bush lost big in campaign 2000 but hopes to make competitive come 2004.

KEN KHACHIGIAN, GOP STRATEGIST: There's absolutely no political risks for President Bush to come out here. He should be aggressive. He should be strong. He should be the happy warrior that I think he is when he campaigns.

KING: White House officials say canceling this trip was never discussed because of the devastating impact that would have had on Republican morale here. But a president with a very aggressive fall campaign travel schedule as of now has no plans to return to California, and one top White House aid says that isn't likely to change unless Simon makes what he calls, quote, "a miracle turnaround." John King, CNN, Stockton, California.


WOODRUFF: Well, you may have heard protesters in John's piece, protesters in the background. Our White House team says it was the usual relatively small group of protesters who often follow Mr. Bush on the road. In Oregon last night a demonstration against the president got a bit out of hand. Police in full riot gear shot pepper spray and rubber bullets at protesters who pounded on police cars and refused to back off from a barricade.

Well, Bill Simon's campaign is trying to turn the tables on Governor Gray Davis and spotlight his ties to big business. A Simon ad charges that an oil refinery was allowed to release more toxic chemicals into the water just a day after Davis accepted a $50,000 campaign contribution from the company. I spoke with Governor Davis a short while ago and I asked him to explain that.


GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: First of all, it wasn't a day after, and the ad is a total fabrication. It was a regional quality board that was -- had a majority of Republicans appointed by my predecessor, Governor Wilson. The chair was a Republican. He said in a published Op-Ed piece to the "San Jose Mercury," there was no contact between our offices.

They made the judgment based on their merits. But that stands in sharp contrast to my opponent, who was censured three times and fined twice by the national securities association for contributing to state office holders in order to get bond business running securities firms. So this is really the kettle calling the pot black.

WOODRUFF: So when this particular incident happened with the oil refinery and environmental groups came after calling you or saying you were selling out human health, how did you answer them?

DAVIS: I don't have anything to do with it. These are regional quality boards of which there are 10 or 11 up and down the state. They're part-time members. A majority of this board were Governor Wilson holdovers. The chair was a holdover and he says there was no communication, no contact. An independent judgment was rendered by that board.

So to suggest there was any connection is just a total fabrication. Mr. Simon on the other hand was recently hit with $65 million fraud judgment by a jury of 12 for defrauding one of his partners, who as you know, turned out to be a convicted drug felon.

WOODRUFF: Governor, as you mentioned President Bush is in your state today. By the time he leaves he will have done a total of five fund-raisers for Mr. Simon. How do you compete with the president, who's in the state getting a lot of media attention?

DAVIS: You can't compete with the president. It is a great -- a great advantage to have the president campaign for you. President Clinton campaigned for me in '98. But in a race for governor, Judy, I think people know that the race is between Gray Davis and Bill Simon, and they're going to choose the person with the experience and the values they share, and I believe they're going to decide I'm the person to lead them through these rather difficult times.

WOODRUFF: Governor, two days ago I was interviewing Mr. Simon here on this show and when we talked I asked him about the size of your campaign treasury compared to his. And here's what he said in his answer. He said, quote, "Gray Davis has more money in his account than any candidate for statewide office in any state in the history of our country, and there's one reason for that: because his signature is for sale," end quote. DAVIS: Well, again, I strongly disagree. Mr. Simon, as we speak, is being sued by the Federal government for defrauding the post office.

He just was hit with $65 million judgment for defrauding his partner, who turned out to be a convicted drug dealer, and that was a decision made by a jury of 12 individuals, and he's currently being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, that claims he's used abusive tax shelters to avoid paying taxes. So again, I don't think he has any standing to raise these issues.

WOODRUFF: But that's a pretty strong charge coming from him saying your signature is for sale.

DAVIS: I am proud of how I've conducted myself. There is hardly a contributor to me that hasn't seen several vetoes. The Teachers Union is annoyed with me because I wouldn't support their number one priority this year, which was to allow collective bargaining to determine when students got textbooks.

I didn't think that made sense. So they're out bad-mouthing. I do what I think is right. And I am greatly honored to be governor. I know at some point, hopefully after eight years, I won't be governor any more, I want to be able to look back and know that every action I took regarding a piece of legislation was the right thing to do.


WOODRUFF: And we want to tell that you after that interview Governor Davis' office called us to clarify his comments about the state water board that is mentioned in the Bill Simon television ad. In the interview you heard the governor say that the board has seven members, four of them appointed by Republicans, three by Democrats. In fact, that board is evenly divided. There are three Democrats and three Republicans.

A reminder today that some Democrats still are trying to keep their political distance from Bill Clinton even in his native Arkansas. The former president will stump for some candidates in Arkansas next week. But notably Democratic Senate nominee Mark Pryor (ph) will not appear with Clinton. His campaign says Pryor needs to rest up for his Tuesday debate with GOP incumbent, Tim Hutchinson.

But the "Washington Post" quotes a Pryor aide as saying the Senate hopeful is not, quote, "from the Bill Clinton school of politics."

Another prominent no-show to tell you about, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has scrapped his plans to appear with Governor Jeb Bush in south Florida next month, a day before the state's primary.

A Sharon spokesman says the decision has nothing to do with complaints by Florida Democrats who saw Sharon's visit as an effort to help the reelection bid of President Bush's brother. If Sharon does reschedule the trip, a spokesman says, it will not be for at least another few months.

In Florida tonight, many people will be remembering hurricane Andrew, which devastated parts of that state 10 years ago and left a mark on the 1992 presidential campaign as well. The storm was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Forty-three people were killed, some 180,000 left homeless. At first some accused then President George Bush of responding too slowly to the disaster at a time when critics already were charging that he was out of touch with Americans problems.

So his Democratic rival Bill Clinton eagerly stepped in. Mr. Clinton traveled to Florida to show his concern for hurricane victims. In the process, he set a new standard for politicians dealing with natural disasters.

Well, back now to current day politics and an idea aimed at preventing another anthrax by mail attack on Capitol Hill. Our Congressional correspondent Kate Snow reports on a proposal to phase out all paper mail deliveries to the Hill by going digital.


KATE SNOW, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Main Street, Warrenton, Virginia, inside what used to be a small town hardware store. Mail, snail mail is being digitized, a tiny camera capturing images of both sides of each envelope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we start by taking an image of the exterior of the envelope, serializing it with a bar code so that it's trackable.

SNOW: Another machine scans the letters that were inside.

PAUL ROME, EXEC VP, IMAGING ACCEPTANCE CORP: There's a separation in the way people still deal with their physical mail with the way they deal with their electronic mail. The idea is to make them one and the same.

SNOW: Imaging acceptance corporation is one of several companies competing for a huge new client, the U.S. House of Representatives. Why would Congress want to revolutionize the way lawmakers get their mail? One word, anthrax. Digital mail is a lot safer.

REP. BOB NEY (R) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ADMINISTRATION: You don't have to worry about mail coming in here or having to leave these buildings again or people having reaction, because it's all digitized and it's on a screen, not in the hands.

SNOW: And there's another reason. Ever since Congress was hit by anthrax, getting mail at the Capitol is a real pain. It takes at least 12 days, sometimes weeks or even months for a letter from a constituent to be irradiated and reach a congressional office.

Members of Congress are getting invitations too late, missing letters from constituents with urgent problems, getting advice from home after they've already taken a key vote. Digitizing the irradiated mail would cut the turnaround time.

ROME: Whatever comes in on any given day has to be done by the next day. Otherwise you are like Lucy on the line with the pies. They are piling up and you are trying to find a place to put it.

SNOW (on-camera): If it all works out, this could be the mail room for the U.S. House. Servers delivering digitized mail to Capitol Hill about 50 miles away. The technology is all here, but is Congress ready?

(voice-over): The longest serving member of the House has real concerns.

REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: I think that this mechanism that they are discussing has the possibility of first of all destroying the confidentiality and second of all destroying the trust that exists between my constituents and I.

SNOW: Dingell also worries about the cost of digitizing 10 to 12 million pieces of House mail every year. But Congressman Bob Ney, who's pushing the project, insists it's cost effective. Not only will members get their mail quickly and confidentially, it could be sorted, filed instantaneously and staffers would no longer have to spend hours opening the mail.

Plans are moving forward, but slowly. A pilot program for about a dozen House offices is slated for later this fall. Fears about danger in the mail could change the century's old tradition of getting word to Washington.

Kate Snow, CNN, Warrenton, Virginia.


WOODRUFF: The good, the bad, and the ugly are still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. The title of the famous film applies to some of the latest shots fired in the campaign ad wars.

Also ahead...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why hide something if it's only going to get you in trouble later on? I see no reason to hide who were are.


WOODRUFF: Candid conversation at a school of sorts for aspiring gay politicians. And coming up next...


FARRAKHAN: I have never been, am not now, anti-Semitic.


WOODRUFF: I will ask Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan about his controversial views and his political influence.


WOODRUFF: Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan last weekend added his voice to Georgia's contentious fourth district congressional primary. Mr. Farrakhan threw his support behind outspoken incumbent Cynthia McKinney, who received financial backing from pro-Palestinian groups.

Her challenger, Denise Majette, who defeated McKinney on Tuesday, received donations from Jewish groups opposed to McKinney's stands on Israel and the Middle East. With me now from Chicago is Minister Louis Farrakhan. Thank you for being with us.

FARRAKHAN: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: During this week, political reporters are saying that your visit, your campaigning for Cynthia McKinney not only hurt her with White voters but hurt her with middle class Black voters. How do you respond to that?

FARRAKHAN: We had nearly 700 and some have estimated nearly a thousand brothers and sisters working there on behalf of Cynthia McKinney. And in every district where our followers worked, the get out the vote campaign increased 30 to 300 percent. So I don't think that we actually hurt Cynthia. In fact if I were able to campaign even harder for her, I believe it would have helped her more.

WOODRUFF: The observation is being made, Minister Farrakhan, in the wake of 9/11 that voters are just less comfortable with outspoken candidates and particularly perhaps candidates who are associated with Islamic groups or pro-Islamic views.

FARRAKHAN: Well, I think in reality, the American people are gradually growing more and more fed up with the loss of the, we the people, a government of, by and for the people that this country was founded upon. Increasingly now, big business lobbies are taking away from the American people their representative rights by giving to Congress over a billion dollars each year to finance legislation that is in favor of corporate America but may not necessarily be in favor of the people whom the representatives of Congress represent. I think that -- I'm sorry?

WOODRUFF: I just wanted to ask you about Representative McKinney and whether you share her view stated back in the spring that the Bush Administration may have had prior notice about the September 11th attacks.

FARRAKHAN: I think that it was proper to ask the question, what did he know and when did he know it. There are members of Congress who raised this question and no one said they were anti-American for raising that question because many in the foreign community said that they communicated to our government and the intelligence community of the United States, information that would lead us to believe that something very ugly and wicked was about to happen to the United States of America by foreign forces or terrorists. And unfortunately, we were not able to piece it together in time to stop this horror from happening on September 11.

WOODRUFF: So you do believe it is possible still that the administration -- that it is possible that the administration had information ahead of time?

FARRAKHAN: I would never say that the president of the United States knew this and allowed the deaths of innocent people. I believe that had he known, would he have done everything in his power to stop it. But that does not mean that there were others who did not know. I believe there were some who did know and who benefited from September 11. On September 10 the country was divided behind their president.

Some even felt that he stole the election and on September 10, the Congress was divided. But on September 12 and the 13th and the 14th, the country united behind their president and he asked for $20 billion from Congress and they gave him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) billion dollars so the war machinery of American benefited.

The people began to slowly lose their rights under this Patriot Bill. So who benefited from September 11? And my question is, how did we know so much the day after and so little the day before? I think that's a valid question and I don't think Cynthia McKinney or anyone who raised it should be considered anti-American. After all, the president is our servant, not our master. He is to represent us and therefore we have a right to question our leaders and our officials.

WOODRUFF: Minister Farrakhan, you were in Iraq last month and you had said before this trip, at one point you called Mr. Bush the leader of the lynch mob. And I'm quoting you, referring to any plans to attack Iraq. Do you still believe that today? Would you use those words again today about Iraq?

FARRAKHAN: As Black people in America, we know what a lynch mob is. And those who grew up in the early West know what it was for somebody to be charged with being a horse thief or something wrong and then a crowd gathered and called for the hanging of that person. When we were charged with something affecting a White woman, all that had to do was be a rumor. But the mob began to...

WOODRUFF: But with regard to Iraq.

FARRAKHAN: Yeah, I'm know I'm about to get to that. What I'm saying is that the president wants to attack Iraq. But the evidence is not there that that man actually is producing weapons of mass destruction. So around him are gathering a voice that is saying let's go after Saddam Hussein.

I believe that is a mob activity, and I believe that the Congress of the United States should hold hearings on this, and there are many scholars inside America and outside that could be called to testify and even the Iraqis should be invited to testify, and let the American people decide whether this country should go to war with Iraq. After all, we have over 400,000 Black men and women along with hundreds of thousands of Hispanics and poor Whites and not one of these should die on a vendetta or on the president's suspicion that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the world. What seems to me is that he is not the threat, maybe our president's view is a threat to world peace.

WOODRUFF: Well, Minister Farrakhan, we are going to have to leave it there, but we want to thank you very much for talking with us today.

FARRAKHAN: I thank you for inviting me.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

Protecting privacy rights in the war on terror. That's one of the topics ahead in our taking issue debate. Also, the devastating floods in China. Hundreds of thousands forced to evacuate. An update next in the "Newscycle."

But first, let's turn to Joya Dass. She's at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update. Hi, Joya.



WOODRUFF: Among the stories in our "Newscycle," terrorism experts say the collection of Al Qaeda tapes obtained by CNN give us a sense of al Qaeda's media savvy. There are tapes showing al Qaeda's own cameras taping network TV interviews with Osama bin Laden in the late '90s. Other tapes include al Qaeda recordings of news coverage of the September 11 attack from the international TV networks, CBC, Al- Jazeera and CNN.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) the accidental police shooting of an 11-year-old boy. The boy was struck in the arm when officers fired on a pit bull outside a home where they were attempting to serve a search warrant. Police say the boy's wound was not life-threatening. Four people were arrested in the incident.

Overseas, more than 250,000 people living in towns along the edge of China's Dongting Lake have been forced to evacuate. An estimated one million others have been mobilized to help fortify dikes around the lake. Almost 1,000 people have died across China during this summer's rainy season.

Well, it's time now to take issue with Terry Jeffrey of "Human Events" and Michael Eric Dyson of the University of Pennsylvania.

Gentlemen, down in Cobb County, Georgia, the school board has voted, in essence, to open the door to the teaching of creationism along with the theory of evolution to students there. I want to quote what the county school board chair, Curt Johnson, said. He said: "The point is, we want free and open discussion in the classroom. And our teachers are nervous about what they can talk about.": Michael Eric?

MICHAEL DYSON, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I'm an ordained Baptist minister. And I have quite a bit of sympathy, of course, for Biblical narratives that talk about the beginning of creation.

But I suspect here, Judy, that I would stand against this, because, when you open the door to teaching creationism, from what perspective? Are they willing to entertain a multiple variety of faith positions in the classroom? Are we going to teach evolution, plus the Buddhist conception of the beginning of life, reading from the Bible, the Koran? Where does it end?

I thought we were about separation of church and state. Biblical narratives or other creation myths are crucial to be taught I think in school, but in a class on religious studies. When we talk about the scientific exploration of the beginning of the universe, it is true that evolution is a story. But it is falling under the rubric of a scientific explanation about life and not a religious one.


TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": Judy, what I understand the Cobb County schools have been doing up until now is, they had a sticker on their science textbooks that said, "Evolution is a theory, not a fact," which is a truthful statement. They have been sued by the ACLU over that statement, which the ACLU wants them to teach evolution as if it were religious doctrine.

But I think the point here is that, in the United States, we do believe there is a God. We do believe that God created man. In fact, our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, says all men are created equal and they have certain inalienable rights that come from their creator. And yet, in our schools today, Cobb County or anywhere else, that truth cannot be taught.

And because of the ACLU and other liberal groups that embrace moral relativism, children are being taught that evolution is a fact. And evolution is being used to undermine their belief that man is a creature created by God. So I think Cobb County is going in the right direction.

WOODRUFF: I am going to step in quickly here and shift gears.

A very secretive court called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an opinion back in May. It has just been released by the Congress. But, in essence, it says that the FBI and the Department of Justice misled this court on 75 different cases and that these agencies should not be given any further powers in the war on terror.

Michael Eric, are these agencies overstepping their bounds?

DYSON: Absolutely the case.

And we must note, in all fairness, that, of course, most of these abuses occurred under the Clinton administration. But it bodes ill for what goes on now with the anti-terrorism and Patriot Act, extending the powers of the state to really deprive citizens of their privacy.

And I think, in the name of democracy, we have to make sure that we shore up our rights while protecting our borders and make certain that, in the name of attacking al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, that we don't end up undermining the very rights that we want to protect. And so I think it is very crucial for the government to step in here and say, look, this sharing of information among these intelligence agencies has really broken the law and really broken trust with the American public.

WOODRUFF: Terry, quick word from you?

JEFFREY: Well, I took the time to sit down and read this court decision this afternoon. And it's true the FBI inaccuracies happened in the Clinton administration.

But more to the point, what the court is actually saying is that, when the FBI counterintelligence people have a wiretap on a suspected terrorist, they can consult with prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators. But they're saying that those FBI criminal investigators and U.S. attorneys cannot direct the FBI in that investigation of that terrorist.

The court says it is shackled by the law, Judy. They may be right. Congress needs to change the law so federal prosecutors and the FBI can cooperate in tracking down al Qaeda terrorists.

WOODRUFF: All right, Terry Jeffrey, Michael Eric Dyson, great to see you both.

JEFFREY: Good to see you.

DYSON: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Have a good weekend. We appreciate it.

And when we return: the hit tunes of the political season so far.


NARRATOR: Buddy Darden is back with all his golden-oldie votes, like his vote to raise taxes on Social Security recipients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Well, I'm the tax man, baby.


WOODRUFF: The good, the bad and the ugly in the political ad wars next.


WOODRUFF: There's word this week that over $250,000 has been spent on political ads nationwide just since January.

CNN consultant David Peeler has seen more of these ads than probably anybody else. He joins us now from Los Angeles with a look at the good, the bad and the ugly in the political ad wars.

David, it's all yours.


We'll see tens of thousands of campaign ads between now and Election Day. We're only in the primary season. And, as you said, some are good. Some are bad. And some are just downright ugly.

And I think, for an example of what we see in the ugly category, I don't think we don't have to turn much further than the Texas governor's race to the match-ups between Perry and Sanchez. And this race got off nasty from the start. And we have kind of put together a little compilation of mudslinging's greatest hits.

Let's take a look.



NARRATOR: Terry's door is wide open for big donors. And we pay the price. Rick Perry, looking out for himself, not us.



NARRATOR: No vision, no leadership, no clue. Shame on you, Mr. Sanchez.



NARRATOR: Rick Perry, we didn't elect him. We don't have to keep him.



NARRATOR: Tony Sanchez wants to run Texas like his businesses. But after Sanchez's bank was used to launder drug money, his bank failed.



TONY SANCHEZ (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Rick Perry's attacks on me are about as honest as this shot. Come on, Rick. Stop with the games. Start telling the truth.



PEELER: You know, there's a real difference between hard-hitting advertising in campaigns and ugly, nasty advertising. What we see in these next snippets coming from Georgia, which had some very, very competitive House races is hard-hitting advertising that works. It's aggressive. But it does tell a story.

Let's see the first clip from Buddy Darden against his opponent Roger Kahn. And I think the story tells itself.


NARRATOR: In June, "The Journal Constitution" reported Roger Kahn told college students he was open to legalizing drugs. Now he says that's not true. Lucky someone had a video camera. Here's Roger Kahn caught on tape.

ROGER KAHN (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: And maybe some drugs could be legalized in some way.


PEELER: In the end, it didn't work for Buddy Darden, because Buddy Darden lost in that race. But it was good hard-hitting advertising.

Let's take a look -- coming from Georgia also -- at some other hard-hitting advertising that takes a slightly different approach, a lighter approach or a lighter touch to try to project a tougher image.

Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barr's always fighting like a bulldog.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He kind of barks when he talks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Linder is more like...



NARRATOR: Buddy Darden is back with all his golden-oldie votes, like his vote to raise taxes on Social Security recipients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Well, I'm the tax man, baby.

NARRATOR: His vote to charge more for Medicare. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Let them pay. Let them pay. Let them, pay, pay, pay, pay.


PEELER: Well, it didn't work for Barr, but it did work for Kahn. So, you can see you can take different approaches at this.

And, finally and last, we went all the way to New Hampshire so that we could find some celebrity endorsement advertising, which I'm sure everybody in the audience is familiar with.

Here's an interesting new spin on it, however.


JASON ALEXANDER, ACTOR: What do you think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the Social Security lock box.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the Bush administration passed the big tax cut last year.

ALEXANDER: Tax cut. That's good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. that was based on a $5.6 trillion surplus and a booming economy. And they're gone. So they're invading your lock box.

ALEXANDER: Can you fix my lock box?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Freeze that tax cut until the booming economy is back again.

ALEXANDER: Makes sense to me.

Vote for Norman H. Jackman for Democratic primary September 10.


PEELER: Well, we're not sure whether Jason Alexander got lost on his way to a KFC shoot or if the "Seinfeld" curse will continue. But what we did really find out was that Jackman's son is actually a Hollywood producer. And he was able to get that celebrity endorsement. So we'll see if it works.

WOODRUFF: Well, you do learn a lot following these ads.

All right, David Peeler, thanks a lot. We'll see you soon.

PEELER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Question: Can death take a holiday because a politician says so? That story is next.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in of our "Campaign News Daily": Louisiana's Republican governor, Mike Foster, will not enter the race for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Mary Landrieu. Many Republicans, including President Bush, encouraged Foster to enter the race. Instead, Foster endorsed GOP Congressman John Cooksey.

You won't find the names of the two major candidates for Washington, D.C. mayor on the primary ballot, a fact which could force the vote count into overtime. Incumbent Tony Williams and his leading challenger, Willie Wilson, are both running as write-in candidates. "The Washington Post" reports that the D.C. Election Board expects to take seven to 10 days to determine who won next month's Democratic primary.

Georgia Republican Congressman John Linder defeated fellow Republican Bob Barr on Tuesday. But Linder says the two incumbents could have avoided the showdown that will lead to Barr's exit from Congress.


REP. JOHN LINDER (R), GEORGIA: You probably know that he moved to have this fight. He could have stayed in his own district. He probably would have won it. None of the Republicans running would have run against him. And the two Democrats who ran both said that their polls showed Bob could have won in his own district. He moved to have a safer seat. He thought I was a pushover. And I wasn't.


WOODRUFF: John Linder, the winner in that contest on Tuesday.

Well, according to the old political adage, nothing is certain but death and taxes. But the major of a town in France apparently is trying to change that. He has banned the residents of Le Lavandou from dying until he can find somewhere to bury them, because he says the local cemetery is full to bursting. It seems like a tough edict to uphold, but the mayor says most residents have obeyed it so far. We'll see. We'll keep track of that one.

INSIDE POLITICS is right back.


WOODRUFF: These days, there are more openly gay candidates who are running for political office. But their numbers are still small and the hurdles they face can be great. I recently stopped in at a political workshop in Washington conducted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea is that you're constantly going to be thrown curve balls and lots of things that you have to deal with and lots of work.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Welcome to gay candidate school, where aspiring politicians learn how to deal with the politically charged issue of sexual orientation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we all get a little competitive, but I want you to share.

WOODRUFF: They learn by conducting a mock campaign: on one side, a blue-collar Democrat, liberal on economic issues, but culturally conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our main issues are going to be health care, equality jobs. Family values I think is going to be our key issue.

WOODRUFF: Running against him: a moderate Republican woman. It turns out she is also a lesbian. At this early stage of the campaign, no one wants to force the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the question we had is, do we go ahead and come out now, to some degree, and diffuse the issue?

WOODRUFF: But her orientation won't stay secret for long. As one student put it, it's not as if they don't share the rent.

For students Kathy Copelin and Gwen Hare, it is not just an academic exercise. They too share the rent. And Copelin is thinking about running for the state legislature in Pennsylvania a few years down the road. But when it comes to how public to be about the fact that they are lesbians, there is no debate.

KATHY COPELIN, STUDENT: I mean, that's who I am. And one of the neat things that the two of us, and me in particular, has in order to do that is, it just makes me that much more honest and open with the folks that I am going to be representing. It's not something that I need to hide. It's just one tiny little facet of who I am.

WOODRUFF (on camera): Are there any circumstances I guess you could envision where it would make sense not to do that, do you think, Gwen?

GWEN HARE, STUDENT: Why hide something? It's only going to get you in trouble later on. I see no reason to hide who we are.

WOODRUFF: What do you see, at this point, in the Philadelphia area? I mean, this area that you have just moved into is new to you and you said somewhat conservative, but maybe a little progressive too. What do you see in your area at this point? I mean, what do you think the reception would be?

HARE: My gut instinct, in our neighborhood, it's very positive. We don't hide behind closed doors. We are out in the yard. We communicate with our neighbors. We go into Doylestown. We went to the polls together.

To me, it's a nonissue. It's just who we are. And if you have a problem with us, talk to us about it. We are more than happy to talk to you. We pay taxes. We keep our yard clean.

COPELIN: Take out the trash.

HARE: We take out the trash. We do everything that everybody else is doing.

So I think the only thing that could happen is, perhaps if we have a neighbor that may have an issue, they are going to see that we're just as normal as they are.

WOODRUFF: To what extent does geography, location, matter in these races?

COPELIN: My mother's side of my family is Mormon. And I've got a pretty good broad base of relatives out there that would probably not vote for me as a result.

So, being in Utah would probably not be a perfect spot for me to go. However, I think where I am now, in Pennsylvania, I think we've done some good things. I don't know if that answers your question, but I probably wouldn't start in Cedar City.

WOODRUFF: What about fund-raising, Kathy? You've got to get enough. Obviously, in every campaign, you've got to have some money to get your issues out there and your identity. Is that something daunting that -- you think, or is that very doable? What do you think about it?

COPELIN: What do you think?

HARE: Fund-raising for Kathy is very doable. Kathy can sell bark to a tree.


HARE: So, if you need somebody to raise money, Kathy is the person to do it.

COPELIN: And I think some of our connections with the Human Rights Campaign and through the Victory Fund. We certainly don't simply want to stick with the gay and lesbian agenda. But I think we have some contacts, a broad base that we could draw from. So, yes, we don't mind asking for money.

HARE: You don't mind.

COPELIN: I don't mind asking for money.

WOODRUFF: What else would you like to learn from them in this session or other sessions?



WOODRUFF: As firefighters struggle with one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, there is word the U.S. Forest Service never spent about $250 million earmarked for wildfire management two years ago. The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says the money could have been spent on measures to help prevent this year's fires.

Well, those fires have caused some lawmakers to react in award- winning fashion, at least according to our Bill Schneider. He joins us now from Los Angeles -- hi, Bill.


You've heard, "Go West, young man"? That's exactly what President Bush did this week. To seek his fortune? No, to seek the "Political Play of the Week."


(voice-over): Westerners have long resented the federal government's hands-off policy towards managing forests. President Bush shares their frustration.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We haven't had a strategy to clear the forest floor of built-up brush and densely- packed trees that we have seen firsthand here and in other places around the country.

SCHNEIDER: The argument is, you have to cut down the forest in order to save it, which sounds ridiculous, except to the people who live there.

GOV. JANE DEE HULL (R), ARIZONA: We have got to clean up these forests. Nature did it. Nature did it on a very regular basis before people came out here.

GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: We are facing a huge challenge because of these fires.

SCHNEIDER: A consensus has been growing among Westerners: Federal environmental restrictions must be relaxed to streamline the process of thinning out dangerously overgrown forests. That policy was endorsed this year by Western governors from both parties and by a bipartisan group of 15 Western senators.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: It is absolutely critical that, on a bipartisan basis, we move aggressively with a fuels-reduction program to end this devastation.

SCHNEIDER: What broke the political logjam was a move by the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, to bypass federal regulations and allow a forest-thinning program in the fire- plagued Black Hills area of his home state.

BUSH: My attitude is, if it's good enough for that part of South Dakota, it's good enough for Oregon.

SCHNEIDER: Thursday, in Oregon, President Bush seized the opening and called for a more aggressive logging policy.

BUSH: It's not a Republican idea. It's not a Democrat. It's an American idea to preserve our forests.

SCHNEIDER: Environmentalists protested and complained.

REP. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: And what he wants to do is to finance this program by doing clear-cuts in old growth. And that is not what America wants.

SCHNEIDER: The president's response?

BUSH: What the critics need to do is come and see firsthand the effects of bad forest policy.

SCHNEIDER: The West has seized the initiative. You could call it the triumph of Western civilization. You could also call it the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: According to the census, migrants are leaving old Sun Belt cities like Los Angeles and Miami and Houston and moving to the interior West, to places like Denver and Phoenix and Las Vegas, from the coast to the edge of the forest -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill, thanks very much. Have a good weekend.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And, finally, we want to tell you that I misspoke yesterday when I said we had tried to get some information on the president's fund-raising from the Republican National Committee. In fact, we did not call them yesterday. And we regret the mistake.


We thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.


Tainted California Candidate; Congress May Digitize Mail System>



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