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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Storms Devastate Midwestern and Southeastern U.S.; Democrats Fall in Polls; Tax Cuts Projected As Key Bush Administration Goal

Aired November 11, 2002 - 16:00   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. On this day of remembrance, scenes of destruction. Americans struck by killer storms search for the missing, and the pieces of their lives.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Gary Tuchman in Mossy Grove, Tennessee, where a powerful tornado has rocked this small town to its foundation.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. As if the election results weren't evidence enough. I have new proof from our polls that the Democrats are in big trouble.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, reading the writing on the wall. Lessons on creating a moving memorial.

Thank you for joining us.

Before we get to the day's political news, we want to take you to a place pounded by the line of killer storms that swept through the eastern United States today.

Gary Tuchman joins us from Mossy Grove, Tennessee.

Gary?

TUCHMAN: Judy, hello to you.

This is a very small town, nestled in the high country of Tennessee about 40 miles west of Knoxville, and last night about 16 hours ago was a very frightening evening for the few hundred people who live here.

You could see some of what happened behind me, some of the devastation. This town, Mossy Grove, only has a few hundred people. Most of the town is still intact, but a swath about one mile long by one mile wide suffered immense damage from a twister that came through here.

There are dozens of homes that have been destroyed or heavily damaged. There are at least eight people in this county, Morgan County, who have been killed from the tornado or tornadoes that have come through.

One of the people who died was actually a rescue worker, a firefighter, who was looking for people who might have been trapped. He suffered a heart attack and was brought to the hospital, and he was the last fatality, a man who died this morning.

Since then, nobody has been found dead. That's the good news. But they continue to look, because 75 people are still missing. It's believed they are all alive and just haven't been able to contact their loved ones.

But you can see the houses that have been destroyed; there have been cars flipped over on their sides.

A short time ago we went to a church, a church where Sunday services were taking place when the tornado came through. There were about 80 people inside the sanctuary. They knew there was a possibility of a tornado coming. Most of them told us there was a tornado watch when they went to the church. Some of them heard about the warnings.

The tornado came through, partially collapsed the church roof, broke much of the glass, but nobody inside the church was hurt. But a very frightening night indeed for the people who live in this small, little town.

Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, it certainly was. All right, Gary. Thank you very much.

Now, we turn to memories of wars past, and the prospect of a new war on the horizon.

On this Veterans' Day, President Bush laid the traditional wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. And he made an unscheduled stop at the Vietnam Memorial, as well.

He used the holiday to bolster U.S. troops and prepare the nation for possible military action against Saddam Hussein.

Iraq's parliament today debated a tough, new U.N. resolution on disarmament before an expected vote tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This great nation will not live at the mercy of any foreign plot for power. The dictator of Iraq will fully disarm, or the United States will lead a coalition and disarm him. [ cheers and applause ]

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Our new poll shows 59 percent of Americans now support a U.S. invasion to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Now, that is up five points from last month, and the highest level of support since June. Forty percent of those surveyed say the U.S. should use force only with the backing of the United Nations.

Well, the threat of war with Iraq and the ongoing battle against terror helped give President Bush and his party the political upper hand when Americans voted last week, but now we have a better picture of why Democrats were on the losing end of the election.

Our Bill Schneider's been going over more numbers from our new poll.

First of all, Bill, did this mid-term election actually change people's views of two political parties?

SCHNEIDER: Not the Republicans. Before the election, people gave the Republican party a 53 percent favorable rating. After the election, 54 percent. Almost no change.

But, my goodness, look at what happened to the poor Democrats. Before last week's election, the public's view of the Democratic party was nearly two to one favorable. Then electoral disaster. The Democrats' favorable rating dropped 10 points. The party's unfavorables went up 12.

No question here, Democrats look like the losers.

WOODRUFF: So where do people find fault with the Democrats?

SCHNEIDER: I'd say no message. Look at this comparison between the two parties.

People are inclined to believe the Republicans do have a clear plan for solving the nation's problems. Do the Democrats? No. Big no. Two to one no.

Democrats are in desperate need of some new ideas, especially about terrorism. On dealing with terrorism, a solid majority believes the Republicans are tough enough. And the Democrats? No, not tough enough.

You know, one of the Democrats' big mistakes was opposing the president's plan for a new Homeland Security department. The damage was evident in the Georgia Senate race last week, and again in this poll.

WOODRUFF: Bill, some critics are out there saying what the Democrats mainly did wrong is they didn't stand up to the president on Iraq, and they didn't stand up to the president on his tax cut.

Is that what people are thinking, as well?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, the president just received an overwhelming vote of confidence from the American people. To argue that Democrats should have opposed him more vigorously strikes me as somewhat delusional.

In fact, only 37 percent of Americans say Democrats should oppose President Bush more. When asked about whether Democratic leaders in Congress should promote policies that are more moderate or more liberal, moderation wins hands down.

When people say they want new ideas from Democrats, they don't mean liberal ideas or ideas that undermine President Bush. They mean ideas that contribute to solving problems, productive ideas. Otherwise, the Democrats are out of business.

WOODRUFF: Hmm. Okay. Bill Schneider, thanks.

Now let's bring in our senior White House correspondent John King.

John, high expectations for this administration. Is there a problem there for them, and how do they plan to deliver on it?

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, there could well be a problem if the administration, the president, look at the new polling data, ours and others, and decide, "Let's go for everything at once." But you heard the president himself in his news conference the other day saying he would set one or two priorities at a time and he would pursue them.

Here at the White House they believe after any election the winners get a bounce and president certainly is in this polling. They also believe, though, as the pollsters are fond of saying, this is just a snapshot of the moment. It doesn't mean these numbers will sustain themselves over time.

In the short term, though, the White House believes one number in our new poll that is usually beneficial to the president: 87 percent of the people in our poll, 8 in 10 Americans, say it is at least somewhat important that the government create this new Department of Homeland Security.

That is the president's number one priority in the lame duck session of Congress about to begin. So the administration believes it has the support of the American people in pushing that through and trying to push it through quickly.

Looking ahead a little bit further, you have 64 percent in our new poll saying the Bush tax cuts, the ten-year Bush tax cuts, should be made permanent. That will be the president's number one economic priority, spending priority, tax priority in the new Congress that begins in January.

So on the top two priorities of this administration, they believe the numbers are good. They won't get overly cocky, though, about the other members, because they believe as the debate resumes, when Congress comes back, the president's likely to come down a little bit, as generally happens after elections.

WOODRUFF: Well, John, we just heard, when I asked Bill Schneider about this notion, some critics saying that Democrats should have stood up to the president more, you heard Bill say that that's practically delusional. That the results of this poll show, what, just 37 percent of people think that the Democrats should have done that.

What does the White House think about all that?

KING: Well, the White House believes, especially if Nancy Pelosi, as expected, becomes the Democratic leader in the House, that you will have a much more combative Democratic debate with this president, especially on economic policy.

They believe for now, at least, the president has the upper hand. They also believe that what happens here in Washington in terms of what the Democrats want, and what the Republicans want, will have much less to do with who has the upper hand in this debate as to what actually happens with the long-term economic sustainability -- growth of the economy.

The White House somewhat encouraged of late that the stock market appears to be slowly getting back to an upward track. The White House believes the interest rate last week will help the economy in the long run.

Yes, the White House is expecting much more combative nature out of the Democrats, especially in the House, but they believe if the president can calm Republicans who want to go for it all, if you will: go for a capital gains tax cut, go for additional corporate tax cuts.

The president is telling Republicans, let's take this one step at a time. We have the upper hand right now. Let's not reach too far and lose it.

WOODRUFF: All right. John, thanks very much.

Well, it's never too early for a 2004 edition of our "Campaign News Daily." Our new poll shows Al Gore still holding a wide lead over other Democratic presidential prospects. Thirty-six percent support among registered voters.

It is the race for second place that's interesting, with senators Joe Lieberman, Tom Daschle and John Kerry now tied with 12 percent each.

Kerry is said to be speeding up his decision on whether to run for the White House. The Massachusetts Democrat denied reports yesterday a declaration of his candidacy is imminent. Kerry says he has not made a final discuss, but he adds his gut tells him positive things.

G.O.P. Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois is gearing up for his 2004 re-election bid by adopting a "Dartmouth platform." Fitzgerald reportedly is hitting up fellow Dartmouth graduates for contributions by touting that he's the only alum of the college now serving in the U.S. Senate.

Well, there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

Up next, two sides of a political coin. Is a scaled-back G.O.P. tax cut agenda threatening to divide the party?

Also ahead, the inside story of President Bush's big mid-term election gamble and how it paid off, particularly for strategist Karl Rove.

And later... (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Vietnam Memorial really changed the way we think about memorials, because it was so abstract. People didn't know what to expect, and when it appeared it was awesome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Behind the Wall: Tips for memorial makers at Ground Zero.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With the mid-term elections out of the way, questions already are being raised about Republican leaders and their tax-cut plans. Will they push for an aggressive new round of cuts or a more modest proposal?

With me now to talk more about the issue, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist.

Grover Norquist, good to see you.

Republican sources, congressional sources on the Hill telling "The Washington Post" today that they think that whatever gets pushed is going to be on the modest side, that given the environment, that it just doesn't make sense to go anything more aggressive.

Is this what you're picking up?

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Yes and no. It will be an aggressive package, but it won't be one package.

First, we'll take the president's ten-year tax cut that passed in 2001, make that permanent. That's one.

And then there are a series of additional tax cuts that can add up to being substantial if you're looking at dollar figures. But I don't think you'll see them wrapped into one big package. It's just a roll of the dice, whether we do lots of things, small things.

Going towards expensing rather than long depreciation schedules, expanding IRA's and 401(k)'s, deportment legislation, liberalizing things on behalf of investors.

I think you will see an effort to speed up the death tax implementation, because 75-year-olds don't want to be told they have to wait ten years.

WOODRUFF: What price tag are we looking at here for all this?

NORQUIST: There's not a fixed one. Because first of all, you have the one big package, which is take the ten-year package and make it permanent. And then we'll just do the others as they...

WOODRUFF: And after that, how much are you talking about to make it permanent?

NORQUIST: Well, for a ten-year -- since it goes for ten years, and you're only measuring ten years, you're really only counting in the budgeting process for about a year or so. So it won't show up as very much.

WOODRUFF: So to those who say we've got growing deficits, they're already projecting $200 billion this year, no telling what it's going to be after this and saying maybe this isn't the right climate to be talking about making the tax cuts permanent?

NORQUIST: The deficits flow from two things. One is the slow down of economic growth, and to get the economy growing again, we can't cut interest rates again. They're darn near zero now. So we have to reduce taxes to get the economy growing.

The second is we have too much spending as a result of September 11, and a lot of the things that people stuck in to what was supposed to be September 11 related to spending.

So we have a real agenda of reining in spending. You have a secretary of defense talking about transformation, about contracting out jobs and so on, about reining in the defense budget, in time of war. Being serious about protecting against overspending there.

We not only can afford tax cuts, we have to have them to get the economy growing faster.

WOODRUFF: And you're saying the plan is to be aggressive in going after them, but be prepared to accept something of a...

NORQUIST: Yes, and there will be a series of tax cuts. Not one big tax cut, a series of them.

WOODRUFF: What about the president's economic team? A lot of talk about they haven't delivered or they haven't delivered as much as -- The president gave an endorsement, but some thought it was a fairly lukewarm endorsement, at his news conference last Thursday.

NORQUIST: Well, I don't quite understand the disquiet there. You have the secretary of treasury, somebody who's done everything the president wanted. And Larry Lindsey, a strong supply side, or a good tax cutter.

People may want to move on after two years of being there, but this is the president's call, and he's happy with the team.

WOODRUFF: So you don't hear grumblings?

NORQUIST: One hears lots of grumblings. But this is a Bush Administration where they don't leak against each other. So if you're hearing leakings, the person in trouble is not the person being leaked against, it's the leaker.

WOODRUFF: Okay, we'll remember that. Grover Norquist, thank you. NORQUIST: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you again. Appreciate it.

When the lame duck Congress reconvenes tomorrow, Dean Barkley will take his seat as Minnesota's new senator.

Barkley's in Washington getting ready for his swearing in. He was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash before the mid-term election. An independent, Barkley says he still has not decided whether to side with Republicans or Democrats on key issues, including the Homeland Security Bill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN BARKLEY, MINN. SENATOR-ELECT: In memory of Paul Wellstone, I should, you know, not give it to the Republicans. Norm Coleman won the election, Republicans of Minnesota said, well, Republicans should take over.

I've got Jesse Ventura, who's an independent. I'm an independent. We should stay independent. Which way I can maybe get some things for the state done. I mean, those are all things I'm putting into the equation. I've sat and talked to everybody I think I could that could give me some useful input, and my mind is working as you speak to try to figure out what's the way that will be most effective.

But starting yesterday, I went out and actually got to play a little bit of golf, it cleared my head. And I think I'm coming to the right decision, and I'll let you know soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Republican Norm Coleman, who beat Democrat Walter Mondale last Tuesday to win the seat, now says he plans to be sworn in on January 7, when other new senators take their seats. Coleman had suggested earlier that he would gain seniority if Barkley stepped down even a day early.

Just ahead, the devastation in parts of the Midwest and Southeast is shocking. We'll have the latest on the killer storms that swept through those areas.

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

Hi, Rhonda.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN SENIOR MARKET CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Judy.

Stocks slid for a third straight session. Worries about a war with Iraq, in the absence of any positive news, kept the buyers on the sidelines. Trading was light for the holiday. That may have, in fact, exasperated some of the price swings we saw today.

Let's show you the closing numbers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 178 points, or 2 percent. The NASDAQ slid nearly 3 percent, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gave back 2 percent.

Hewlett-Packard tops the big board's most active list and was one of the biggest decliners on the Dow. The company president Michael Capellas stepped down amid reports that he's in line to take the top job at WorldCom. Capellas was chief executive at Compaq Computer before it was acquired by HP, and he ran day-to-day operations at the merged company.

That is the latest from wall street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including the power of the Wall. Bruce Morton takes a look at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on its 20th anniversary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff Maria Echaveste and Betsy Hart of the Scripps Howard News Service.

It is Veterans' Day, so let's start out with a veterans' question. Right now, if you are a veteran who is disabled and you go ahead and retire, you don't get the full retirement benefit. The money that you get as a disability payment is counted against what you would get for retirement.

Now, the veterans are saying that's not fair. Those who are disabled, if they are disabled, they gave for their country, they deserve this money. The Bush Administration and others say that's wrong.

What's the right way to go here?

BETSY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Well, Judy, you have to consider that this change in a 100-year-old law, allowing disabled veterans, and oftentimes disabled means sore knees, or a bad back. If you've been able to serve your 20 years, it's likely in that kind of category. Would cost about $80 billion over 10 years.

That's $80 billion that's not available to active duty personnel. And for what? We're talking about a situation where people get to the end of their 20 years, they have full medical benefits that will cover their disability and anything related to it, then they also get a full pension. On top of that they want generous disability benefits.

Lots of people are saying, wait a minute. That's double dipping, that's too much. And we need to do something that's a lot more reasonable.

MARIA ECHAVESTE, FMR. WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I think one of the questions is, what's the disability for? Was it service- related? I think if is was service related, that then prevents you from being gainfully employed after 20 years, people still had a long work life. And if you're disabled and you can't earn to supplement your income, then I think you need to be able to have both.

And to think of it as two different tracks. If you've put in your 20 years, part of your benefit is a pension. Right? If you then become disabled before that as a service related, it seems to me that those ought not to cancel each other.

I understand completely, having sat in the White House, with those veterans and how much money they costs. But the fact is, we ask our men and women to serve and to be there for us in bad times as well as when you're able to retire with no pain.

So in this instance, we can't just let money dictate. We need to look at what's fair. And I think if it's service-related, you ought to be able to get both.

HART: Now keep in mind, if you can get to 20 years, the point where you're getting your pension, it probably is not a disability that's going to keep you from being gainfully employed elsewhere.

WOODRUFF: Let me say, this is not just an esoteric discussion. This is up for vote in the Congress; it's a law that was passed back in the 1800s and some veterans want to repeal it.

HART: Right. And it's hugely expensive. I mean, we have to -- what's the best place for our resources?

WOODRUFF: Quickly, to the Democrats.

The apparent new face of the Democrats in the House of Representatives is going to be Nancy Pelosi. She says she has the vote.

Is this the type person, is this the face of someone who's going to be a good leader for the Democrats?

HART: Well, in a sense, it is, because she represents the Democratic Caucus in the House. There are hard left on significant number of issues. You have well over 100 seats, after gerrymanders into state Democratic districts, so these guys can truly vote their consciences.

And what we're finding is that the conscience of the Democratic Party is far left. Nancy Pelosi is a true San Francisco Democrat. We can actually say that now and mean it literally. Does represent the Caucus.

However, as we all know, that's very good news for the Republicans, because she doesn't represent America.

ECHAVESTE: Well, speaking about gerrymandering, the fact of the matter is, this election was maybe about 40 were actually competitive in the House. Each one took care of their own to make sure there were no real races on the Republican side or the Democratic side.

As for Nancy Pelosi, she has worked and earned her way to take this position. She is a prodigious fund-raiser, and we're going to need that in order to be competitive.

But more importantly, she is the woman that has worked with many different parts of the Caucus, yes. Her particular political view is on the left, is liberal, but as we well know, there are moderate Dems as well.

So the challenge is going to be how to -- how the unified message for, not just for 2004, which is way too early, but for the issues facing us.

WOODRUFF: Is she the strongest choice for the party?

ECHAVESTE: Well, I think she is. I think she is. I think it's tremendous, the fact that we have a woman in that capacity, and that's not a small matter. This country is way behind on having women political leaders.

HART: Republicans are delighted that you think Nancy Pelosi is a strong choice. That's all I can say.

WOODRUFF: All right. We are going to leave it there.

Betsy and Maria, thank you both. Appreciate it.

And just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, we will go live to some of the areas devastated by the powerful storms that swept through the Midwest and the Southeast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Killer storms have struck. Has the danger passed? Up next, we'll have a weather update and go live to some areas where the fear factor still is high after residents were pummeled on rain, lightning and tornadoes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't see anything. We were all busy trying to get in the bathroom, to get all the kids in the bathtub so they'd hopefully be safe. We were going to board up my windows blew in. I mean, we didn't hear anything. It was that quick.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Topping our "News Alert": the severe storms that have left a trail of destruction from the Great Lakes to the Deep South. At least 35 people have lost their lives the severe weather, nearly half of them in Tennessee.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is with us now from Mossy Grove, Tennessee, where the damage is catastrophic -- hello again, Gary.

TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. And this little this town is in Morgan County, Tennessee. We're told that, in this county, more than 200 homes have been destroyed or heavily damaged here, one of them right across the street from me. You can see they're already doing work on the roof of the home, that house heavily damaged, belongings from the house all over the front and backyard -- behind the house, three cars flipped over on each other.

As you look around the area where we are right now, you can see many trees came down. Behind me a short time ago, where there is more damage, the governor toured the area a short time ago, coming by in a helicopter.

And we want to give you a look down here at what's behind me. I was talking about this earlier in the show. This is the New Life Pentecostal Church. And inside this church last night, 8:00, a Sunday service was taking place, people inside praying when the tornado came through. Take a look at the roof. It partially collapsed on the right side of the building.

You could see the front entrance where the caution stickers are. The windows broke. There was a lot of damage inside. But inside the sanctuary, where the congregants were, no damage. Therefore, nobody was hurt.

And with us right now is the pastor, Anthony Pemberton (ph). He was leading the service last night when this tornado came through.

It must have been a very frightening evening for you.

ANTHONY PEMBERTON, PASTOR: Yes, sir. (NO AUDIO)

WOODRUFF: We're sorry about that. We've obviously lost the signal there where Gary was talking to the minister of that church -- a very lucky congregation, indeed.

Well, for the latest on where this deadly storm system is now, let's turn to CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. She's at the CNN Center in Atlanta -- hi, Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Judy.

And hello, everyone.

The good news is, is that all the tornado watches and the warnings at this time have expired. We still have one severe watch box that remains in place, a severe thunderstorm watch from Augusta down towards Savannah, including the Charleston area in South Carolina. This is anticipated to expire at the top of the hour. So, conditions have calmed down very significantly. But we're going to continue to see some rainfall in this area.

Now, our next concern is going to be a little bit farther to the south of here, where thunderstorms are starting to develop into the Panhandle of Florida. There you can see them stretching all the way up into the mid-Atlantic and then moving offshore here. We do have a threat of severe thunderstorms continuing with this system into tomorrow, the Storm Prediction Center issuing a slight risk of severe thunderstorms from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, extending down to just north of Lake Okeechobee into Florida. And the threat of tornadoes possible.

This whole storm system is not ready to give up just yet, though. We're going to be watching it ride up the coastline. A little wave of low pressure has developed on that main front. But the threat of severe weather is going to be diminishing here across the mid- Atlantic. What's going to happen is that the winds are going to be pulling up. There's still some moisture wrapping around on the back side of that low, so it will be a rather raw day across much of the Southeast, with those cooler temperatures.

Our focus now is into the southern parts of the Carolinas, Georgia, and into about the northern half of Florida -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jacqui, thanks. It looks like it is moving on.

Well, this storm system also dealt a deadly blow to the state of Alabama.

CNN's Charles Molineaux is with us now from the town of Carbon Hill -- Charles.

CHARLES MOLINEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Judy, actually, Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has been touring the area. He was on a foot tour a few minutes ago. His helicopter just touched down.

And now he's here surveying the damage at Carbon Hill Junior High School, which had its roof blown off and suffered severe damage. The school was actually shaken up. The roofs were blown off. Some people ended up going in.

Governor Siegelman, Charles Molineaux, CNN. Good to see you with us.

How does it look out there?

GOV. DON SIEGELMAN (D), ALABAMA: In outlying parts of the county, the houses are totally annihilated, devastated. It's like somebody wrapped up sticks of dynamite and blew these homes into little tiny pieces.

When you look at a school like this -- and, unfortunately, I've had to look at several, this is -- you know, but what you are thankful for is that kids weren't there. And so there's always a silver lining on any dark cloud. But, clearly, we've got to get money to these communities to get these schools rebuilt as quickly as possible.

MOLINEAUX: Now, we have seen armies of utility crews coming in to the area. How has the response been?

SIEGELMAN: Well, I think the response has been and frankly is good in Alabama on any emergency situation.

You find an extraordinary community spirit. People come together. And they'll stay here until all hours of the night. As long as there's light to work and a little coffee, they'll be here to help their neighbor get cleaned up.

MOLINEAUX: A Red Cross shelter is already opened up here in Walker County, right? What other aid is available for people?

SIEGELMAN: Well, we have got the National Guard, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation, Alabama's Emergency Management Team is here.

And, of course, Joe Allbaugh told me this morning he was sending his folks in. They should be here tomorrow. And they will take a tour of all of the counties that have been hit yesterday. We had 46 strikes, 12 tornadoes, 12 deaths. This was a huge impact, devastating impact to the state of Alabama.

MOLINEAUX: What do you say to the people who are really suffering through some horrific devastation right now?

SIEGELMAN: Well, they want to know that there are people who care. And, frankly, it's not so much the financial help.

It's the spiritual help that these people need right at this moment, to know that there are people outside the county, that the state of Alabama is thinking about them and praying for them. And we're going to do everything we can to help get their lives and their homes, businesses back together.

MOLINEAUX: All right, thank you very much -- a long road ahead.

SIEGELMAN: Yes, it is. Thank you.

MOLINEAUX: Alabama Governor Siegelman, good to have you with us.

The governor has declared a state of emergency statewide, Judy. So help will be coming in. We have seen a lot of people working to try to get things repaired. There are utility crews everywhere. The tarps are being put over the devastated roofs of the homes. Some of the people I talked to who rode through say it was all over in just a matter of minutes. But, of course, the worst of it for some of them may yet be beginning.

WOODRUFF: That's right, Charles. Thanks.

And when you see some of this damage, it's just hard to believe that more people were not killed. Thanks very much.

MOLINEAUX: Well, there's a lot going to the fact there was advance warning this time from the National Weather Service. They really felt like they were on top of it.

WOODRUFF: All right. Thanks again. There is a new "TIME" magazine article that gives new insight into the midterm elections. It's the inside story of how President Bush and his political strategists gambled it all and won.

With me now: "TIME" magazine's Jay Carney, co-author of the article.

"W. and the Boy Genius" is what you call this. Jay Carney, people have talked a lot about the strategy, the president going out, states where there was a very close contest, especially for the Senate, and going back and again and again. How risky was it for the president to do this?

JAY CARNEY, "TIME": Well, there are two ways to look at this, Judy.

Actually, the president's top advisers met back in January of this year and had this debate, had this discussion. "Do we husband the president's popularity? Do we protect him and not send him into the fray his year in these midterm elections and risk eroding his stature as commander in chief? Or do we get in and try to" -- at least, at that point, I think, they viewed it as, their best opportunity was to avoid massive losses, which are usually the case or often the case in midterm elections.

They decided that, true to President Bush's words, that he had political capital with his popularity and that he was going to spend it, because that's the only way you can use it and gain more.

WOODRUFF: Now, this idea was all born in early '01, right, shortly after the president took office?

CARNEY: Exactly.

In fact, not long after the Supreme Court delivered the White House to President Bush, Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, hired a deputy, Ken Mehlman, and they began thinking right away about the 2002 midterm elections, how they could build on this very shaky election victory in 2000, where they would be vulnerable, where there were vulnerabilities, what to do about redistricting, how to get new candidates to take a run.

WOODRUFF: But, according to your reporting, they really didn't have to twist the president's arm. He was prepared to go along with this.

CARNEY: That's what they say, that he was prepared and that he was again true to the philosophy that he annunciated during the 2000 campaign -- and somewhat criticizing his own father for his father's failure to take advantage of those very high approval ratings after the Persian Gulf War and to use those approval ratings and the public's support to do something about the economy and to do something about some other domestic problems.

This president decided: "Hey, I've got this political capital. I might as well use it, see if I can get Republicans elected, because, if I lose, it's going to be a black eye anyway. Why not try to win?"

WOODRUFF: As you say in the title of the piece, "Boy Genius," describing Karl Rove. What does this do for Karl Rove's stature?

CARNEY: Well, I think he instantly becomes the most successful political adviser in town and in the country. He was already widely viewed as incredibly influential and powerful individual within George Bush's inner circle.

This White House is very interesting, because, even though profess not to look at polls and not to let polls infect policy, in a way, that's because the political and policy operations are so woven that you can't even see the stitching. Karl Rove is involved in every domestic policy meeting. He's not just a poll-waving political adviser. He's very expert on a lot of policy issues.

WOODRUFF: Quick last question: To what extent does this strategy, Jay, transfer to the presidential election in '04?

CARNEY: I think instantly. I think that you'll see an effort to -- what this president knows and this adviser knows is that the way you win is, you build off your base.

And they will do what they did in the first two years, which was, do the necessary things to satisfy conservative Republicans. I think we'll see a lot of that in judicial nominees, very conservative judicial nominees. That's a way of placating the base, so that they can then do some things in the center, picking off some Democrats, to satisfy those key swing voters.

WOODRUFF: All right. It's Jay Carney. The piece is "W. and the Boy Genius." It's a cover piece on how they aced their midterms in "TIME" magazine.

CARNEY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: Jay, thank you very much. Good to see you.

Well, our Bob Novak still is California dreaming. Up next, he has the "Inside Buzz" from the Golden State on Republican hopes in '04.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Our Bob Novak is again with us from San Francisco to share his "Inside Buzz"

All right, Bob, it's a holiday, so there couldn't be that much going on here in Washington. Could there?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes, there is, Judy.

People, staffers on the Hill, who never thought they'd be working on this Veterans Day, are busy at work trying to get together a homeland security bill to pass in the lame duck session starting tomorrow. They didn't dream of this happening up until noon on Friday.

In fact, on Friday morning, Speaker Hastert and Senate Republican Leader Lott got together and said that it was too complicated. The parliamentary difficulties were too tough to pass the homeland security bill. Then they had lunch at the White House with the president. The president laid down the law. He said: "You will pass this bill in the lame duck session. And they saluted."

This is a different president after the midterm victories. Just an example, Judy: The notoriously temperamental Ted Stevens, past and future chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was very upset that a prolonged lame duck session will interfere with the junket of the congressional delegation -- CODEL they call it -- that he was planning. I'm told the word came back from the White House. The president says these are his planes. If he says they're not going to use them, there's not going to be any junket.

WOODRUFF: Two other quick questions:'04, what are you hearing among California Republicans about that?

NOVAK: The California Republicans are not happy with reports from Washington that the president may not campaign in the state after the disastrous GOP showing Tuesday, where they lost, for the first time, every state office.

People out here say that the president is very popular, that he runs very well in the polls. And if the Republican Party is ever going to come back in the nation's most populous state, he better campaign here, just as he did in 2000.

WOODRUFF: And second, some bankers not happy about the results of the midterms?

NOVAK: Yes. They are going to get as the new Senate Banking Committee chairman Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Now, Shelby is a conservative, but he's not a banker's kind of conservative. He's a populist, a consumer advocate who has fought very hard against the bankers selling the names of bank depositors to credit card companies. The bankers would much prefer the Senator Robert Bennett of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the Banking Committee.

But, Judy, they're going to have to learn to live with Richard Shelby, just as the CIA had to learn to live with him when he was chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He's a very independent- minded fellow.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob, well, we hope to see you back in Washington one of these days. Thanks.

Coming up: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial turns 20. Our Bruce Morton will take a look at the Wall, its controversial beginning and what it means to Americans today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: It started out on a controversial note. But now the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as the Wall, is one of the nation's most visited memorials.

CNN's Bruce Morton looks back at its beginning and its influence on memorials today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Vietnam Veterans memorial is 20 years old now. Over the weekend, they read the almost 60,000 names inscribed on it.

People still come, leaves photos and flags, take a picture, touch a name. It's hard to remember how controversial it was at first.

JAN SCRUGGS, VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL: It sort of served as like a Rorschach inkblot test on Vietnam. People read things into this design that were not there, that this is the black gash of shame. Politics almost stopped this memorial from being built.

MORTON: These statues were part of the compromise that got it built. Now, of course, people understand the power of the Wall, the names. It is one of the memorials the people planning the memorial at the World Trade Center are studying.

ALEXANDER GARVIN, LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORP.: The Vietnam Memorial really changed the way we think about memorials, because it was so about abstract. And people didn't know what to expect. And when it appeared, it was awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And most of them have the middle initial.

MORTON: A group involved in the New York project has been visiting other memorials. Scruggs was their guide here.

SCRUGGS: So, controversy is not necessarily a bad thing.

ANITA CONTINI, LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORP.: We're trying to look at and stay focused on what we have to get accomplished, what we have to build, how many voices, and how we get those voices to be listened to. And in that, they'll be the controversy, but controversy is part of our way.

MORTON: They're just starting, some working on possible memorials, some on how to use the land, how much for a memorial, how much for commerce and so on.

GARVIN: We have seven designers working on developing ideas for the site itself and which we will select places that the memorial could be.

MORTON: Again, they're just starting. September 11 was 14 months ago. The bomb in Oklahoma City went off in April 1995. The memorial there was dedicated five years later. New York will announce a formal worldwide design competition early next year, worldwide because 9/11 was a worldwide event. They want an open process.

GARVIN: I think that it's very important to reflect the interests of the whole world. You know, everybody saw this event on television. Billions of people have seen the event. And to do this in a backroom with a single individual betrays the very democracy that that gang of murderers were trying to destroy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Criteria kind of evolved.

MORTON: They'll do some arguing. If they are skillful and lucky, they will end up with a place that does what this wall does: lets people mourn and cry and heal.

SCRUGGS: I believe that they will find themselves with some controversy. They'll find themselves with some differences of opinion. But I believe that's the nature of American democracy.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And this item we can report to you. CNN has learned that, despite heavy lobbying by both Democrats and Republicans, Dean Barkley, who is the independent who was chosen by Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota to fill the vacant Senate seat left vacant when Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash, that Dean Barkley will remain an independent, that he will not caucus with either Republicans or Democrats, which means that Tom Daschle will remain as majority leader until Missouri's senator-elect, Jim Talent, is sworn in. That's expected to be later this month.

So that's the news for now. More INSIDE POLITICS in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With the nation possibly on the brink of another war, this Veterans Day was especially poignant for many Americans, including those who gathered today at the Vietnam War Memorial here in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my first time down to the Wall. It means a lot for me to be here, especially this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see the youth of today coming out, and with the new things in Afghanistan and around the world going on, it reminded me of what we went through 32 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was very patriotic when I was a teenager. And going in the war was the big thing then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: Throughout the world, throngs of people hail the end of the war in Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's more support now than there was for Vietnam. I think that's good, just like in Desert Storm. We had a lot of support then. And the guys need a lot of support, particularly when they come back. It's a very difficult experience. If you haven't been in combat, you just really don't know what it's like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one likes war, particularly the veteran, particularly the soldier. But we have an obligation to do what the commander in chief asks of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The elective freedoms you got, it's because of guys like myself and the ones that are on that wall over there that give it to you. So you can't take it for granted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My message for people on Veterans Day is, please remember those veterans, all of them, have done something for you, and to say thank you, and also to say a little prayer that all those who are serving right now will come home safe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: For Veterans Day.

And this last word: Arizonans finally have gotten closure in that state's governor's race. Democrat Janet Napolitano is the winner by just under 12,000 votes. Republican Matt Salmon conceded the election last night. He said he will be praying for Janet Napolitano to be a successful governor.

That's it for this Monday's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.

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