Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



President Bush Agrees to Seek Congressional Approval on Iraq; Is the U.S. Ready to Take Charge in Setting Up a New Regime After the Attack?

Aired September 4, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. President Bush makes a concession to Congress as he begins pressing his case against Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For 11 long years, Saddam Hussein has sidestepped, crawfished, wheedled out of any agreement he had made. I am going to call upon the world to recognize that he is stiffing the world.



Has the president adopted his father's prudent approach in laying the groundwork for war?


Are lawmakers here shuddering at the thought of a debate over Iraq just before Election Day?

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

President Bush says the national discussion about the Iraqi threat begins today, even though political figures have been debating an attack on Saddam Hussein for weeks, among themselves and in the op- ed pages. We have just in to CNN our interview with one of the most prominent voices of caution: Secretary of State Colin Powell. We will hear from Mr. Powell shortly.

And Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is briefing lawmakers on the Hill right now. He is expected to speak afterwards and we will bring that to you, live.

But first, we want to go to the White House and word that the Iraq debate will lead to a vote by Congress.

Here now, CNN's Kelly Wallace. KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Facing criticism he has not made the case for a U.S. attack on Iraq, President Bush mounts an offensive. He summons congressional leaders to the White House, telling them he will seek a congressional resolution, backing possible military action to oust Saddam Hussein.


G.W. BUSH: At the appropriate time, this administration will go to the Congress to seek approval for - necessary to deal with the threat.


WALLACE: The president urges Congress to act before lawmakers recess for the November elections. Aides stress Mr. Bush has not decided military action is necessary.

But, one Republican leader left the White House session, convinced otherwise.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: I think military action is inevitable, faced with Saddam Hussein, 11 years of history of his thumbing his nose at the world.

WALLACE: Democratic lawmakers applaud the president for seeking congressional approval, but stress the administration needs to answer several questions.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: How are we going to build a democracy? How -- who is going to help with that? What is the strategy for dealing with all of that? Then there is the question of whether military should be involved.

WALLACE: Democrats also want proof about the threat posed by the Iraqi leader.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (R-CA), MINORITY WHIP: I have not seen the intelligence that would indicate the threat is imminent.

WALLACE: In an effort to prove that, the president sends Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Capitol Hill for a closed-door briefing with senators. The PR offensive also to include, top administration officials, testifying before Congress, the president consulting with allies, meeting Saturday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and delivering a major address to the United Nations September 12.


BUSH: I will first remind the United Nations that, for 11 long years, Saddam Hussein has side-stepped, crawfished, wheedled out of any agreements he has made.


WALLACE: Senior aides stress the president is not ruling out diplomatic options such as seeking a U.N. inspections regime backed by force but they also say he is convinced the clock is ticking down to prevent Iraq's weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly, thanks.

Well, the prospect of a congressional vote on Iraq before the November election does not exactly fit into all the Democrats' campaign plans. Our congressional correspondent, Kate Snow, looks at the possible fallout -- Kate.

SNOW: Well, Senator Daschle was asked about the political fallout today, Judy and he had words of caution for the White House. He was asked by a reporter would it be better for the White House to hold off, on this debate and on this vote on a resolution until after the election.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I'm not going to -- to dictate any time frame. I think that we do have to worry about the politicization of this issue. And I think that there are skeptics out there who wonder to what extent the political implications of any of this may affect the elections so in order to ensure that -- that there isn't any charge of politicization in such a sensitive international and national matter, I think it is critical that we take a great care that -- that that timing and all other issues are taken into account.


SNOW: Daschle you'll notice chose words carefully. Democratic strategists also being very careful about what they say but some do suggest, Judy, that Republicans may be making a concerted effort to try to least keep Iraq on the front page of the newspaper. Democrats of course had hoped to spend the fall talking about domestic issues, the economy, corporate scandal fallouts, and obviously they're not able to do that. Now some analysts suggesting that that could hurt Democrats.

Democratic strategists though say that they think this is won't work against them. They say that there are people out there that are still concerned about the economy and their jobs, and, as one Democratic strategist put if it, if Republicans choose to ignore the economy, they do so quote at their peril.

On the other side, Judy, Republicans strategists insisting there is no concerted strategy to keep Iraq on the front page. There is no concerted effort to talk about war, discuss war, simply for political reasons. They say that would be a very crass indeed.

Senator Bill Frist talking to CNN said in fact he believes that talking about war with Iraq does not necessarily help Republicans. As one Republican aide put it to me Judy, any time you talk about war and people potentially dying, it is not a very good political subject for either party -- Judy. WOODRUFF: All right Kate, at the Capitol thanks.

And, on that subject that you just brought up a short time ago, I was at the Capitol and I asked the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Republican Henry Hyde about the timing of a congressional vote on Iraq, relatively near election day.


REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL), INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CHMN.: The question is does history wait for our Elections? We do have important elections coming up November 5, and but that is a little distance from now. We have the whole month of September and October, and the interim, and, I don't know that this can wait as the vice president said time is not on our side.


WOODRUFF: More of my interview with Chairman Hyde, another major player in the Iraq debate a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Well, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell tried today to warm skeptical allies to the idea of taking action against Saddam Hussein. Powell met with various world leaders on the sidelines of the earth summit in South Africa, and he spoke to our Johannesburg bureau chief, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, about the president's Iraq policy and whether it has created rifts between Powell and other administration figures.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president spoke to this very clearly, today. He said that he is beginning an intensive process of consultation with the American Congress. He's going to talk to the American people and he's talking to the world. He'll be talking to a number of foreign leaders over the next several days, and he will be talking at the United Nations next week on the threat posed to not just the United States, but to the whole world by Iraq.

Iraq, here is the evidence. First, Iraq has violated all of the resolutions that were placed upon it requiring to it get rid of its weapons mass destruction. There is no debate about this! It is absolutely a fact that Iraq has not complied with these resolutions to get rid of weapons of mass destruction.

Second fact, the Iraqis are pursuing still, after all these years they are still pursuing these weapons. They are still pursuing this technology, and when Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister comes and says they are not, it is a lie and everybody knows it is a lie and he's trying to con us. One day he says no inspectors. The next day he says maybe inspectors. It's all a con.

Now what the United Nations has to do is to look at these facts and make a judgment as to what they should do about the fact that this regime has been thwarting the will of the international community for all these years and the United States is willing to point this out to the world, and make the case to the world. The president will make it clear to the allies in the days ahead. He'll make it clear at the United Nations next week. He has also said he has made no decisions with respect to what options he might choose to pursue either within the multilateral environment, or, what we might have to do as a nation unilaterally, and, the -- the thing that is clear about all of this is that doing nothing is not an option as to president said.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, but is there any difference of opinion between you and other members of the administration, on the advice that the president is being given?

POWELL: The president benefits from all of the advice that we give him as a group, and -- a lot of the chatter about all of the disagreements that take place within the administration is mostly that, chatter. We talk to each other in an open candid environment. We're all old friends. There are no wars going on within the administration.

There is good debate and that debate and that discussion and the advice that we give to the president has only one purpose and that is to make sure that the president understands all of the issues with respect to any particular problem that is before him, and with respect to Iraq, it is a very serious matter.

And we have to make sure he gets the best advice, and I'm confident that I, Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney my former secretary Cheney, and Condi Rice and George Tenet of the CIA and all of our colleagues are doing everything we can to make sure the president gets the best advice and we are unified together and we are behind him.


WOODRUFF: Colin Powell speaking today just a short time ago in South Africa.

A good deal of President Bush's domestic political strategy is based on avoiding the mistakes of his father. But now, on Iraq, is he following the elder Bush's lead? That's a question for our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, what do you think?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know the word "prudent" is a Bush one word. Wouldn't be prudent comedian Dana Carvey used to say when he imitated the first President Bush.

Well this President Bush is being criticized for not being prudent, for rushing to war with Iraq. Today, for the first time, he began to sound like his father's son.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Persian Gulf crisis started with a clear provocation. Iraq invaded Kuwait. President Bush was resolute. GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will not stand.

SCHNEIDER: The president proceeded cautiously, building support for military action step-by-step. First step: United Nations resolutions demanding Iraqi withdrawal.

G.H.W. BUSH: Let me be very, very clear. There will be no compromise on the stated objectives of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, none at all.


SCHNEIDER: Bush the son faces a bigger challenge. This time, Saddam Hussein's provocation is not as clear-cut.

But, the international community still wants some kind of U.N. authorization. Polls taken this summer in six European countries show that, without U.N. approval, people in those countries do not support military action against Iraq. With U.N. approval, they do, and only with U.N. approval. The U.N. could give Saddam an ultimatum: allow inspectors unfettered access, or else.

President Bush's view?

G.W. BUSH: The issue is not inspectors; the issue is disarmament.

SCHNEIDER: Saddam Hussein has failed to live up to his obligation to disarm under existing U.N. resolutions. Saddam's response today, the U.N. has not lived up to its obligation to lift the embargo against Iraq.

What about congressional approval? The first President Bush did not exactly ask Congress for permission to act. In 1991, he wrote in a letter to the speaker of the house quote, "I am determined to do whatever is necessary to protect America's security. I ask Congress to join with me in this task."

The second President Bush is taking a similar position. In due time, he, too, will go to Congress, for support, not permission.

To critics who say this President Bush is rushing to war, the president had this response.

G.W. BUSH: Today the process starts, about how to open dialogue, elected officials, and therefore the American people, about our future and how best to deal with it.


SCHNEIDER: I other words, we are just beginning to make our case. We're not rushing into anything. We are being, well, prudent.

WOODRUFF: As you have said we have heard that word before from Dana Carvey. All right Bill, thanks a lot.

Well, as we told you, we're still waiting for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to turn up before reporters and cameras at the Capitol. He has been briefing a group of senators. We believe all the senators were invited. Some of them have drifted out of that meeting. We are waiting to here what he has to say. Not everyone is singing the same tune on Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A because we'll put a boot in your ass. It's the American way.


WOODRUFF: That song is quoted today by a prominent critic of a preemptive strike against Saddam Hussein. We'll talk next with former Navy secretary James Webb.

Also ahead, Joe Lockhart and Charles Black on Bill Clinton's busy campaign season schedule.

And later...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that Dr. Sam Mudd was an innocent victim. He was not the sort of man to join Booth, a madman, in any kind of plot or conspiracy against the president of the United States.


WOODRUFF: A legal bid to rewrite history and clear the man whose name was Mudd.


WOODRUFF: Former U.S. Navy Secretary James Webb today joined a succession of former officials from Republican administrations to advise caution in dealing with Saddam Hussein.

James Webb is with me now here in Washington. Thanks for being with us.

The administration is saying, though, that this man Saddam Hussein poses a threat, can't be allowed to remain in place, and they say we will give you the information, the evidence, you need at some point. Why is that a flawed argument or is that what you are saying?

JAMES WEBB, FMR NAVY SECRETARY: I don't think it's a flawed argument, so much as at this point it is incomplete argument. I'm glad that the president stepped forward said he is going to begin a debate here, but, my point and the article that I wrote today, was that before we begin a unilateral invasion of Iraq, we need to sort out a -- the consequences after the war. We need to be discussing this. How long is it going to be to take?

We're going to be occupying Iraq. It's very clear from the people who are proposing this. What does it take to put a new regime into place in a country that's that unstable? How does that play out in terms of our ability to defeat international terrorism, and what does it do to our forces worldwide if we have to commit forces in that region for a long period of time?

WOODRUFF: Are you saying, that those kind -- that kind of a commitment is not worthwhile even if Saddam Hussein is on the verge of using weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons.

WEBB: Well -- I wouldn't want to prejudge the evidence that is going to come forward. I don't know what's in it.

I mean if there were evidence that were so strong that it demonstrated that our country was really at risk in terms of its continued existence, that sort of thing, then I would certainly fall in line to a certain level, with this as well but people have to be talking also about what happens afterwards.

Are we really committed as a nation to staying in that part of the region, that part of the world for the next 30 years because that's really what we're talking about.

WOODRUFF: And one of the lines in your "Washington Post" op-ed piece today, you say in Japan, remembering after World War II, you said American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. You go on to say in Iraq they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.

WEBB: That point was made in response to an argument that has been around since the Gulf War, when people were criticizing the act that we did not go in and put a so-called MacArthurian regency in Baghdad but before we examine the validity of the comparison we have to look at the difference in the two cultures and that's really what I was talking about that Japan a homogeneous culture. We didn't go into the country until after the war was over. The emperor had prepared the Japanese people for the occupation.

The situation, that we face in Iraq, is a multiethnic society at war with itself, and we have no one on the ground other than ourselves, if we go in there in order to implement this policy.

WOODRUFF: Is the administration talking about these issues that you are raising inside, I mean...

WEBB: Well, you know, I'm like you I'm sitting out here watching the news, and, that is one reason I cannot prejudge the evidence that they might bring forward but certainly, those -- the key element of this debate really is not so much the war itself, but what are we going to do in the aftermath and how is that going to affect our ability to conduct ourselves militarily around the world.

Another point in the article that I think is very important is the emergence of China, and the fact that the Chinese have for decades cultivated the Muslim world, and I think they have done that out of a conscious strategy, and if we were to unilaterally go into Iraq and to establish this MacArthurian regency in that country, he would run the risk of being isolated diplomatically from a huge part of world to the benefit of the Chinese.

WOODRUFF: But the president, President Bush today says we are going to be consulting with the Russians. We're going to consult with the Chinese. I mean, why can't some of these problems be dealt with ahead of time with diplomacy?

WEBB: Well, he's talking about, in the sense of going into a war, and...

WOODRUFF: In the first place.

WEBB: And it is -- you know commendable that those sorts of consultations take place, but without a -- pretty wide diplomatic backing, of a postwar area as well, this remaking of the country, what we will have in effect or I worry what we set up is essentially a mouse trapping of the United States in a region of the world that could go on for decades to our detriment.

I'm not trying to ring any big alarm bells here. I'm just saying those are the kinds of issues that need to be discussed in the debate, and very clearly, they have to be discussed, with the Congress, not in a consultative form in my view.

This is the kind of situation that the constitution was designed to in order to prevent certain you know, any -- in effect a monarchy where you have whoever has the ear of the king can set policy for 30 years.

WOODRUFF: Now the president today is saying that he will go to the Congress and will ask for a resolution of support. All right.

WEBB: One would hope that he does more than consult yes this is all good today.

WOODRUFF: James Webb, former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan. Good to see you again. Thank you for coming by.

WEBB: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well as the dust settles in the state of New York, we assess Andrew Cuomo's exit from the governor's race and its effect on the Democrats chances.

Also ahead, an update on today's discovery of a car filled with weapons, here in the nation's capitol.

First, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler. She's at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update this Wednesday.

Hi, Rhonda.


We got a late day rally on Wall Street today and that of course reverts some of Tuesday's massive washout. But Wall Street remains nervous. Market watchers say investors are still concerned about the economy, earnings and possible repercussions from a military conflict with Iraq.

Let's take a look at some numbers. Dow Jones Industrial Average up 116 Points. That snapped a five session losing streak. Nasdaq gained 28 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 also rose on the day

Procter & Gamble gave a boost to the Dow industrials as Merrill Lynch issued some positive comments on household products companies. Citigroup recouped some of yesterday's 10 percent slide. General Motors gaining ground. GM, Ford and Chrysler posted surprisingly strong August sales figures, and GM raised its earnings target for the rest of the year. But on the big board, Hershey foods fell $3.

A Pennsylvania state judge is temporarily blocking the possible sale of the biggest U.S. chocolate maker. The judge issued a restraining order after the state attorney general argued a sale could lead to major layoffs in the state. In July, the Hershey Trust, which controls 77 percent of Hershey Foods, announced plans to sell its stake.

That is the latest from Wall Street.

More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including a look at former President Clinton's role in the upcoming midterm elections.


WOODRUFF: Checking the "Newscycle," CNN is following a developing story this hour right here in the District of Columbia.

Police have arrested a man whose car was found to contain a large number of weapons, including rifles and handguns.

For the latest on the arrest and the role of the Secret Service in this turn of events, let's turn to CNN's Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy the Secret Service found the car they were looking for and stopped it right here on this corner.

Inside they found 10 rifles and six handguns. They detained a man by the name of Jeffrey Cloutier without incident, but Cloutier did have in his pockets rifle ammunition. He is facing possible felony charges for possessing an unlicensed firearm and also unlicensed ammunition.

The Secret Service had put out an alert for Cloutier and his vehicle, a white Chevy Cavalier earlier this morning after he made threats against the president of the United States. The exact nature of those threats are unclear. However one knowledgeable law enforcement source tells CNN it had "something to do with the implants the CIA put in his brain."

But the firearms found in the vehicle make it clear that this was anything but the average threat against the president. President Bush spent the day at the White House, never in any imminent danger. This car was stopped some 20 blocks away from the White House -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeanne Meserve reporting from right here in Washington. Thanks Jeanne.

Meanwhile, hazardous materials teams have been called to 11 police departments just north of Boston. The departments all have received envelopes filled with an unidentified white powder. Samples of the powder have been sent to a state lab for testing.

President Bush said today that he would seek congressional approval before launching a military attack against Iraq. Mr. Bush made his comments at a meeting with congressional leaders.

Last night on "LARRY KING LIVE," former President Bill Clinton said that he would like to try weapons inspectors "one more time." But, he added, the use of force might be needed to oust Saddam Hussein.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think it will be a big military problem if we do it. You know, our guys did great there last time in the Gulf war. We're stronger and he's weaker than he was then.

The security challenge will be you can't surprise him. You got to move a lot of people in. And if he has chemical and biological agents, and I believe he does, he would have no incentive not to use them then if he knew he was going to be killed anyway, deposed.


WOODRUFF: At this hour at the Capitol you see we're still waiting for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to come out of a briefing. He's been meeting with a large number of senators and we have a camera, a live camera there. As soon as he steps out we're told it could be any minute, we're going to talk to him.

In the meantime we have with us former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and Charles Black. He's a former adviser to the Bush campaign.

Well, gentlemen, it is not just President Clinton who is raising concerns. We've had a number of other Republicans and Democrats. Today, though, the president said: "We are on track. We're going to go after congressional approval."

Charlie Black, is this administration going, ultimately, to get the support that it needs to go after Saddam Hussein?

CHARLES BLACK, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Judy, I fully expect that we'll have a broad bipartisan consensus on behalf of regime change.

The president said he hasn't decided on the tactics, whether military force is necessary. He'll be working with Congress, not only briefing them, but consulting with leaders of both parties.

And I think, whatever the ultimate decision he makes is, that he'll have very broad bipartisan support in the Congress and in the country.

WOODRUFF: Do you agree, Joe?

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, I think if he's able to demonstrate what our national interest is in going in and invading Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein. That's ultimately the important question. And that's been missed because we spent so much time on the politics.

And I'm afraid that, if you look back over the last month, it is one of two bad stories. One is, they really didn't know what they were doing in August. And I don't think that's the case.

WOODRUFF: You mean the administration.

LOCKHART: The administration, because people were all over the place. You had Bush 41 people one place. You had Colin Powell in another place. You had Dick Cheney in a third place.

But I think, unfortunately, this has more to do with politics, because I think they were very, very anxious to change the subject away from the economy and the corporate governance things and scandals. And, unfortunately, they've walked themselves into a place where I'm afraid that they're going to think that anything short of military action is weakness. It shouldn't be about politics. It should be about what's in our national interest.

BLACK: Well, it has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.

You've observed this president, that he tries to do what's right. He is also patient. He does it at the right time. It was completely predictable that he would involve congressional leaders of both parties. So whatever happens here, it's not going to be political, because both parties are going to be equally behind it, in my opinion.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of politics, I want to turn to Bill Clinton. We just saw him talking about Iraq.

But, yesterday, we saw him standing right next to Andrew Cuomo as the former HUD secretary announced that he's not going to be running for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York. So now you have got former President Clinton out not only at this appearance yesterday. He's out today, tomorrow, raising money for Democrats around the country.

Joe Lockhart, is he an asset or a liability for Democrats?

LOCKHART: He is an asset for most Democrats around the country. For every request he says yes to, he has to say no to a dozen more.

There are some places in this country that, obviously, candidates will make the decision that it doesn't help them. Elections are the great clarifying thing. You get all of the smoke and mirrors away. And candidates will decide, "Is this good for me or is it not good for me?" And candidates, dozens and dozens and dozens of them around the country, have said, "We want you the come."

It is impossible to fill that demand. But there are certainly places where candidates will say, "You know, I don't want Clinton to come." And there's no point in him going.

WOODRUFF: Charlie.

BLACK: Well, it looks to me like the great majority of the Democratic candidates don't want Clinton to come. And the only public appearance he's made with a Democrat was Cuomo when he's conceding defeat. That's sort of a portrait of the whole thing.

LOCKHART: That's not true. The president has gone out and campaigned for 40 Democratic candidates. He'll do 40 more before it's over.

BLACK: Closed fund-raisers, closed to the press. They don't get a picture of Clinton with the candidate.

LOCKHART: No, he has done rallies. He has done public things. That's not true.

And if we want to really talk about political fund-raising, the current president is the king of that, because he spent all of August doing it and has done more fund-raising than I think any president in modern history.

BLACK: I don't know of a single Republican candidate that's not proud to appear in public on camera with President Bush.


LOCKHART: Well, maybe they should bring cameras into these fund-raisers and we could find that out.

BLACK: What about the Ron Kirk episode? Ron Kirk is running for the Senate from Texas. He snuck into New York City to have Clinton host a fund-raiser. They snuck Clinton in through the back door through the kitchen and had him run through the kitchen to avoid getting a picture, a photo of Clinton with Kirk.

LOCKHART: If he was sneaking around so much, Charlie, you've got good sources.

BLACK: Because Clinton would be so unpopular as an issue in Texas.

WOODRUFF: But you started out saying most Democrats wouldn't want Bill Clinton, wouldn't want to be seen with him. (CROSSTALK)

BLACK: Why hasn't he done more events that are public events...


BLACK: ... as opposed to just private fund-raisers?

One last thing: Earlier this year on this network, I offered to Erskine Bowles, Democratic candidate for the Senate from North Carolina, former chief of staff to Clinton, that if he would invite Bill Clinton down to campaign for him publicly in North Carolina, I will personally pay for the private jet to take President Clinton down there and all the potato chips he can eat on the way. I repeat that offer.

LOCKHART: I think that the important thing here is that the reason the Republicans are worried about Clinton and why he is going to probably be a bigger factor than they had thought, the issue in this campaign has gone back to the economy and economic security.

And people, when they see Bill Clinton, say: "Ah, when you left, we had a $5 trillion surplus. We had an economy growing at 3.5, 4 percent. What happened?" And that scares the heck of out the Republicans.

BLACK: The fact is, the Clinton recession had started. And they also remember the largest tax increase in American history as part of the Clinton...


WOODRUFF: We're never going to get...

LOCKHART: I think most people believe they were better off under Clinton than they are feeling right now. And that's what this election will be about.

WOODRUFF: All right, we've heard it from both of you. Joe Lockhart, Charlie Black, great to see you both.

BLACK: Good to be here.

LOCKHART: Thanks a lot.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

And we want to tell you that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a very sneaky man. He left the United States Capitol without stopping to talk to television cameras, CNN's included. So you won't be hearing from him at the Capitol, despite what we told you earlier. We'll have to have a talking to the defense secretary about this.

Question: Will President Bush have a tough time getting Congress to back a U.S. attack on Iraq?

Up next: more of my interview with Republican Henry Hyde, one of the congressional leaders who met with President Bush today.


WOODRUFF: As chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Republican Henry Hyde is a lawmaker to reckon with in the debate over attacking Saddam Hussein. After he and other congressional leaders met with the president today, I asked Mr. Hyde if the president will have a tough sell in getting congressional approval for action.


HYDE: Well, it's always difficult when you are taking a strong move, such as removing the regime. But he did a very good job today. There was a virtual consensus around the table that this is a very serious situation. And, to coin his phrase, doing nothing is not an option.

WOODRUFF: Would this be a non-binding resolution? Is that what we're talking about here?

HYDE: Oh, absolutely. I think it would be an expression of support from the Congress for giving the president the flexibility he needs to move forward. I doubt very much if it would be anything beyond that.

WOODRUFF: The timing of this, they're talking about, is before Congress goes home, before the November 5 midterm elections. Already, the Democrats are saying: "Wait a minute. You've got to be careful not to politicize this." Should that be a concern, that this might get politicized?

HYDE: Yes, it's a big concern. And the question is, does history wait for our elections? We do have important elections coming up on November 5, but that's a little distance from now. We have the whole month of September and October in the interim. And I don't know that this can wait. As the vice president said, time is not on our side.

WOODRUFF: What's the soonest you think you could get it done and get a vote?

HYDE: Well, I think by the end of September, very early in October, my guess is. I want to have hearings in our committee, International Relations, to lay the predicate for this debate that we're going to have on the floor. So far, all we have are conversations with the administration. We need some testimony, some evidence to help nail down the president's position.

WOODRUFF: The president said today that he's going to cooperate fully with the Congress. Who would you like to have testify before your committee and what are you going to be trying to find out in these hearings?

HYDE: We want the most authoritative spokesmen for the administration possible. That would mean Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld and people of that stature.

We want to learn what the administration can tell us. And we recognize they can't share everything publicly, because there may be some secret, classified intelligence that informs them. But we want to know how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear bomb and the means to deliver it, the question of biological warfare, chemical warfare, what he has, what are his intentions. There are a lot of things we need to know to facilitate our reaching a decision of support.

WOODRUFF: Well, there are not only Democrats, but Republicans saying they haven't seen this evidence; they haven't seen this information. How important is it to you to know that this evidence exists before Congress gives a green light?

HYDE: I think it's critical. I don't think people want a vote to send us into a combat situation that could be very consequential without the backup of having the evidence to support it. I think the administration understands that and they have stressed their willingness to cooperate in testimony and answering questions. So I think the information we need, we'll get.

WOODRUFF: And just finally, this whole question of the United States remaining in Iraq to make sure that whatever comes after Saddam Hussein is what the United States, what the rest of the world wants, how much of a concern is that to you?

HYDE: Well, that's a very real concern. And I think we have to learn from Kosovo and Afghanistan that we need to share those burdens. I don't think we can walk away once the war is over unless we have a democracy in place. But until that happy circumstance occurs, it seems to me the burden of occupation should be shared with other countries who are benefiting from what we've done.


WOODRUFF: Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde telling me today his committee could begin hearings as early as September 23.

They share the same last name, but a candidate for Illinois governor wants voters to know he's not the incumbent -- details in our "Campaign News Daily." Also, is Carl McCall better off now than he was a day ago? We'll assess the new dynamics of the New York governor's race next.


WOODRUFF: Conventional wisdom says that Carl McCall can breathe a little easier now that Andrew Cuomo has dropped out of the Democratic primary for New York governor. But McCall still has a lot of work ahead.

For more, let's turn to Joel Siegel of "The New York Daily News."

Joel Siegel, do you agree with the conventional wisdom or not? There's a "New York Times" analysis today saying Mr. McCall isn't necessarily helped by this.

JOEL SIEGEL, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, there certainly are some people, especially in Carl McCall's campaign, who believe that carrying forward with the primary and defeating Andrew Cuomo by a large margin -- which looked like was going to happen -- that that would have been a great thing for Carl McCall. It would have really given him a bounce and propelled him into the November campaign.

I think, though, on balance, it is probably better that it worked out that Andrew Cuomo withdrew. We have the September 11 commemorations coming up next week. The primary is going to be held on September 10. The fear among Democrats was that, whoever won the primary, that victory would be lost in all the ceremonies going on the next day.

So this way, Carl McCall gets to get out ahead of that. He gets a week head start on the general election. The Democratic Party is guaranteed to be unified now. There was not that guarantee after the primary. Plus, he saves a couple million dollars in TV advertising that he was going to direct toward primary voters. So, on balance, I think it is probably better for Carl McCall that it worked out the way it did.

WOODRUFF: Even though Cuomo got out this late -- I mean, it is almost unprecedented for a primary candidate to get out just a week before the primary election day.

SIEGEL: Well, it certainly would have been much better for Carl McCall had Andrew Cuomo not even entered the race. As a matter of fact, many Democratic leaders counseled Andrew Cuomo on that point a year ago or more.

So, clearly, the earlier Andrew Cuomo dropped out, the better it would have been for Carl McCall. But I think, on balance, the McCall campaign will accept what had happened. I mean, look, Charlie Rangel and other supporters of Carl McCall were urging Andrew Cuomo to drop out over the last week. They wouldn't have been urging that if they thought it was bad for him.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the roll of the Clintons in all this, former President Bill Clinton, of course, New York junior United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She formally was not involved, and yet she was photographed, widely seen walking alongside McCall in that parade on Monday.

What role does she play going forward? Are she and her husband going to get involved? Are they going to be able to help McCall any?

SIEGEL: Well, clearly, Carl McCall is going to have an uphill battle. Polls show he's now behind George Pataki, Governor Pataki, the Republican, by 20 or so points.

But they're going to be very helpful. They're going to raise money. They're going to call attention to Carl McCall and his candidacy. And don't forget, New York, despite having a Republican governor, is a very Democratic state. Bill Clinton remains very popular here. So it will be beneficial for Carl McCall to hold on to the Clinton's coattails and see how far that will take him.

WOODRUFF: How much do you think they're really prepared to do for him?

SIEGEL: Well, I think they're going to be prepared to do a lot.

First and foremost, Carl McCall is trying to become the first black governor in New York state history. The black community has been a solid supporter of the Clintons, both President Clinton and Hillary Clinton. So, just on that fact alone, I think they feel a sense of obligation to help Carl McCall. Plus, they like him. And he's the Democratic candidate.

So I don't think this is going to be a case where the Democratic nominee will have to fend for himself. The Clintons will be helpful in this situation.

WOODRUFF: All right, Joel Siegel of "The New York Daily News" -- even though the Clintons were not -- at least Hillary Clinton was not involved until the very end, you're saying she is going to be involved going forward. It's certainly going to be a campaign we're watching.

Good to see you, Joel. Thanks very much.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": A decision by California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon to disavow views attributed to him on gay-rights issues has cost Simon a planned fund-raiser with a gay Republican group. Simon was to attend a reception tomorrow featuring Mary Cheney. She's the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. But the Republican Unity Coalition canceled Simon's invitation after Simon back away his responses to a recent questionnaire on gay rights.

Nevada Democrats have chosen state Senator Joe Neal to take on incumbent Republican Governor Kenny Guinn. Neal won yesterday's primary with 36 percent of the vote; 24 percent of Democratic voters, however, chose "none." Nevada is the only state in the Union which allows voters to choose the word "none" as an option in statewide races.

In Illinois, gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan is still working to make sure voters don't confuse him with the current governor. Jim Ryan's campaign has asked state newspapers to use initials or full names in their headlines and graphics so that voters don't think he is the unpopular outgoing governor, George Ryan. In a poll that we told you about earlier this week, Jim Ryan runs better against Democrat Rod Blagojevich when voters are reminded that Jim and George Ryan are two different people.

And one other development in that race: Meanwhile, Governor George Ryan told reporters today that Jim Ryan is running -- quote -- "a lousy campaign." He said he has been a lousy candidate. And he went on to say that he ought to quit, in his words, hiding behind false issues. So we'll be looking for more there.

WOODRUFF: Coming up, I'm told that we have a live report on a Florida murder trial: two young boys accused of killing their father.

We're going to take a break. We'll be right back with that after this.


WOODRUFF: CNN has been watching a story in Florida: the trial of two young boys accused of murdering their father.

Joining us now is CNN's David Mattingly from Atlanta.

David, we understand one of the boys now testifying.


WOODRUFF: That innocent-faced young boy is 13-year-old Alex King. He and his older brother are accused of murdering their father last November in Pensacola, Florida where this trial is being held.

That's it for our coverage today of INSIDE POLITICS.

We're going to turn it over now to Wolf Blitzer who's reporting today from New York.


Iraq; Is the U.S. Ready to Take Charge in Setting Up a New Regime After the Attack?>



Back to the top