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Lame Duck Senate Back At Work

Aired November 12, 2002 - 16:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy on Capitol Hill, where the lame ducks are back at work, and they may be close to breaking a stalemate over homeland security.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill, where interim Minnesota Senator Dean Barkley is the man of the moment, albeit a brief moment. And I've been spending time with him.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Washington. Now, what's the difference between this year's GOP election sweep and the one back in '94? Well, for one thing, Republicans don't have Bill Clinton to kick around anymore.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, the Democrats seem bound for Beantown. Did Boston Powers close a deal?


AUSTIN POWERS, ACTOR: Whether you're old school or nouveau, there is going to be something to suit your tastebuds. Trust me, baby.


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Well, exactly one week after Election Day, the lame duck Senate is in session, revisiting an old dispute under very changed political circumstances. A bolstered President Bush is lobbying for passage of his new Homeland Security Department, which had been held up by the Democrats, whose days controlling the Senate are now numbered.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to press people right now in a very gentle way and saying, let's get a homeland security bill done, one that enables this country to be able to respond to threats, and one that enables the president to be able to put the right people at the right place at the right time.


WOODRUFF: Mr. Bush hinted that a compromise may be reached soon. Congressional sources tell CNN that a tentative agreement has been reached that would give Mr. Bush flexibility to hire and fire workers in the new department, while giving those workers a right to appeal. That's a nod to Democrats concerned about labor rights.

Our Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House; Jonathan Karl is here on the Hill.

First to you, Suzanne. Is the White House now confident that they are going to get this, and what are they doing to make sure it happens?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House is cautiously optimistic at this point. They are doing quite a bit, really -- the president using the bully pulpit to push forward the domestic, as well as his international agenda.

It was earlier this afternoon he was touring the D.C. police joint operations center, really using it as a backdrop to emphasize the need for this Homeland Security Department. It has been a full court press when it comes to lobbying members of Congress, who really want to see it get done in the lame duck session.

The president earlier today meeting with the leadership -- Republican leadership both in the House and Senate, and perhaps what is most telling is the fact that he is going to meet with Senator Dean Barkley, the Independent of Minnesota, in about an hour or so. They're going to sit down and have a one-on-one. As you know, he is considered really the swing vote, possibly the wildcard in all of this. But if you can imagine the president sitting right across from you, making his case for the Homeland Security Department, they hope that he will be swayed by the arguments of this administration.

WOODRUFF: And, Suzanne, what was the give that the White House has given on this?

MALVEAUX: Well, the president certainly wanted the flexibility to hire and fire employees in the Homeland Security Department.

In exchange, however, is that they would allow for kind of an appeal process or a mediation process, if workers felt that they were not getting what they needed in the collective bargaining process, that Congress would be notified, and also that they would get a chance to an independent board, at least to mediate between the Security Department, as well as the union workers to make sure that they had some sort of recourse.

But the White House really getting what it had insisted from the very beginning, which is that kind of flexibility, what the president argued to use in situations of terrorist attacks that he needed to move personnel, money, departments -- things like that -- very fast.

WOODRUFF: All right. Suzanne.

And now let's turn to Jon Karl here at the Capitol.

Jon, what are you hearing after all of your reporting on the prospects here? And what about those Democrats who were so opposed to this labor arrangement all along?

KARL: Well, the political situation clearly has shifted. This latest compromise was actually the brain child of two moderate Democrats -- John Breaux and Ben Nelson, the liberal Republican, Lincoln Chafee -- all three been on the Democratic side of this.

They still believe they were in the right position before the election, but it's now after the election. They now want to get a compromise. They like this. We expect them to put out a statement shortly saying that they would vote for it.

So, do the math, Judy. With that support and with the support of all of the Republicans, you now have more than 50 votes to go to this.

Now, the Democrats have been reviewing this, the Democratic leadership has been reviewing it. We understand that initial reaction out of Senator Daschle's office is not positive on this. They still don't like what they see, but it may not matter. We will go to this bill. We expect the Senate to take this bill up tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: And what about organized labor, Jon? Where are they right now?

KARL: Well, certainly, the Democratic leadership taking their cues from organized labor on this. The organized labor does not like what they see in this compromise, so we may still see a battle on this. But again, you know, the Democrats know that they have got to move to this. You now have a few moderates siding with the Republicans on this.

There's not much that organized labor or the Democratic leadership can do to stop this, especially because they've given up their No. 1 weapon, which would be a Senate filibuster. They are not going to use, you know, procedural mechanisms, procedural tricks to stop this. That's at least what Tom Daschle has said publicly.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon and Suzanne -- thank you both.

President Bush is due to meet later this hour with the Senate's newest and shortest-term member.

Let's turn back to Jonathan Karl who has been making the rounds with Dean Barkley.

Tell us about how it's gone.

KARL: Well, it's incredible. I've spent most of the day with Senator Barkley, starting this morning. And as you'll see from the tape of the time we spent with him, he is one of the most candid senators that I have ever dealt with -- take a look.


KARL (on camera): Well, welcome to Washington.

SEN. DEAN BARKLEY (I), MINNESOTA: Well, my pleasure to be here. KARL: So, what's in store for the first day?

BARKLEY: Oh, let's see. I'm going to meet the parliamentarian. I'm going to go see Senator Byrd. I get to see President Bush at 4:30. Swearing in at 1:00. I have a speech -- my first speech on the floor will be a eulogy to the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

KARL (voice-over): A busy first day for Minnesota's accidental senator. Talking to Dean Barkley, it's almost impossible not to think of Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

JIMMY STEWART, ACTOR: The dome -- the Capitol Dome has big lights sparkling away under the old sun out there.

KARL: After all, Mr. Smith was also a political novice sent to Washington after the unexpected death of a senator.

BARKLEY: I'm a little wider than Jimmy; he's a little taller than me. But it's kind of the same thing. I mean, I'm a straight shooter, honest kind of guy -- never thought that this would happen. Lightning struck, and here I am.

KARL (on camera): Whether or not you're a footnote or a chapter head, you know, remains to be seen, but you are clearly part of American history now.

BARKLEY: Yes, I know that. I found that out as soon as I got here when the media jumped me going into Daschle's office -- all 60 or 70 of you. I said, oh, my god, what have I stepped into here? But so far, you've been nice. I guess it's still the honeymoon. When do you turn on me?

KARL: Yes, well, you have a shortened term, so maybe in a few hours.

BARKLEY: Oh, OK, good. I got until noon? And I can just walk right by. I get my own elevator and everything. You know, what a country.

KARL (voice-over): After a brief stop in his barren, windowless office, Barkley is off to his first meeting, which will be with Senate legend, Robert C. Byrd.

(on camera): Are you going to ask him for money for Minnesota? He is the appropriations chairman.

BARKLEY: I'm going to float the idea about this tribute to Paul, about getting something basically greased (ph) through as a living memorial to him. We've got some pretty good ideas.

KARL: Like what?

BARKLEY: I don't want -- because if we don't get it. There are three or four, so we've identified that would be appropriate for the senator. And we're still waiting for Senator Wellstone's staff to tell us which one they think would be the best one. So, I don't want to disappoint one of them if it doesn't. But try to get something that would be a lasting legacy to the senator.

KARL: All right, well, I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you don't want to be late for Senator Byrd.

BARKLEY: No, I don't want to do that.

Senator Byrd.


BARKLEY: My pleasure to meet you.

BYRD: Congratulations to you.

BARKLEY: Oh, thanks.

BYRD: Yes, I look forward to serving with you.

BARKLEY: Oh, I have admired you for a long time. You are the epitome of the U.S. Senate.

KARL (voice-over): Barkley emerges from his meeting with no specific commitments, but a lesson on how to bring the bacon back home.

(on camera): So, what did Mr. Byrd show you?

BARKLEY: Well, the first thing he showed me is the road map of West Virginia in 1946, where he probably said there wasn't a single two-lane paved road in the state of West Virginia, and how things have changed since he's been in the Senate.

KARL: Yes, there's quite a few paved roads in West Virginia right now.

BARKLEY: Yes, I've been through West Virginia, and I told him I noticed that you're not without a lack of freeways there; that you have quite a good transit system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you're about to enter, so help you God.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.

KARL: Barkley gets to be sworn in not once, but twice -- officially on the Senate floor and then in the old Senate Chamber, a ceremonial swearing-in.


KARL: Now, Judy, his first day as a senator is not even over, and he already has his first accomplishment, though. Senator Barkley now has a new office, not the one you saw there that he had at the beginning of the day. But he has a new office that actually has a window, and he's very excited about that.

WOODRUFF: So, he's made great progress in just this one day. He handles himself pretty well for somebody who just got to town.

Jon, any insight as to why he decided to remain an Independent and not to caucus with either the Republicans or the Democrats?

KARL: It really came down to the fact that he likes the title "Independent." And he -- you know, he's talked to Lowell Wiker (ph) about it, he talked to Jesse Ventura obviously about it, he talked to other Independents. He felt that he really should not give up that title.

And he acknowledges that by doing so, he sided with the Democrats. I mean, you know, he may be Independent in name only, but he sided with Tom Daschle and made sure Tom Daschle would be leader.

WOODRUFF: Where is he going to come down on homeland security? Did the two of you have a chance to talk about that?

KARL: Yes, we sure did. It's unclear, but he did say that, you know, his No. 1 thing when he came here is he wants to see a homeland security bill passed. He's meeting with the president and, as you know, going down there right now. We actually have a camera in the car with him. And you know, I imagine that's going to be persuasive sitting across from the president and talking about this.

WOODRUFF: I have a feeling you're right, Jon. The press will turn on him in another hour or two.

KARL: You know us.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Jon Karl -- appreciate it.

Well, after their drubbing in the midterm elections, members of the Democratic National Committee meet here in Washington tomorrow to make a decision about the next campaign; namely, where to hold their 2004 National Convention. A final vote could come tomorrow in the competition among Boston, New York, and Detroit.

Well, the city that pitched itself by spoofing Austin Powers is considered the front-runner.


AUSTIN POWERS, ACTOR: Whether you're old school or nouveau, there's going to be something to suit your tastebuds. Trust me, baby. Scrumptious, baby, yeah!

WOODRUFF (voice-over): DNC officials warn that it's premature at this point to say Boston has a lock on the 2004 convention. But as far as Boston politicians are concerned, it's a done deal. Beantown boosters point to the fact that the city has a Democratic mayor and an impressive financial package. On the downside, the Democrats already have Massachusetts sewn up.

So, how would Boston help broaden the party's appeal?

And, there's the Big Dig, the most expensive public works project in U.S. history, and a potential symbol of government waste. Boston hopes to have the Big Dig dug by 2004, but the project has a dismal history of missed deadlines.

Boston has Teddy Kennedy in its corner, but New York has Hillary and remains in strong contention. Senator Clinton, along with Senator Chuck Schumer, are pressuring DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to push New York. Some in the New York camp say Boston is not diverse enough, and that picking New York would help rally the African-American vote.

Then, there's Detroit. Say Detroit, and the rapper, Eminem, and the No. 1 movie in America come to mind, but Democrats have another star. A Detroit convention would showcase Governor-elect Jennifer Granholm, and boost Democratic hopes in the Midwest battleground.


WOODRUFF: We'll know more tomorrow.

Well, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe has more on his mind than where to party in 2004. Still ahead, McAuliffe's future in the crossfire. And after last week's election, should Democrats show him the door?

Also ahead, flashbacks to '94, the Gingrich revolution floundered. Will Bush Republicans get it right this time around?

And up next, it's orientation day for the new kids on Capitol Hill. We'll tell you who may be most likely to succeed.


WOODRUFF: Figured you'd want to know a little history there. With me now to talk about a number of things related to the House, including some freshmen Democrats and whether they are likely to succeed, is Amy Walter with the "Cook Political Report."

Amy, all right, you've inspected all of these people, you've followed them when they were running. Now, as you look at the crop of who got elected among the Democrats, who do you think is most likely to do well?

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": We have a really interesting group of Democrats that are coming and some who are very young and sitting in really new districts or districts that are very Democratic. So, they have a long time so sit and wait and mature and take their time to become potential leaders.

One to look at is Chris Van Hollen. Now, he had one of the most high-profile races in the country, in suburban Montgomery County in Maryland, one of the few bright spots for Democrats on election night. He knocked out an incumbent Republican, Connie Morella.

He's relatively young. He's 43 years old. He's a state legislator. He has a lot of experience. I think he's going to be an aggressive member of Congress, as he was a campaigner.

Now looking over in Florida, Kendrick Meek, who is also pretty young -- he's 36 years old. He is literally following in his mother's footsteps. He's taking her seat, Karen Meek, congresswoman retired. He also would like to take her seat on the Appropriations Committee. That doesn't happen very often for a freshman, but it shows the kind of aggressive, go-getter approach.

He has been a thorn in the side of state legislator, a real thorn in the side to the Bush administration. That's been his push in the legislature. He's one to watch.

And then, Linda Sanchez, another young woman here who has been elected, 33 years old; she and her sister, Loretta Sanchez, the first sisters to serve in Congress together. So, they made some history there. As a Hispanic woman, I'm sure that Democrats are going to want to use her, both in California and nationally to talk to Hispanic voters.


WOODRUFF: The family connections there, and also some ethnic diversity among the Democrats.

What about the Republicans? Who should we be watching among that crop?

WALTER: Well, there are unique members there, too. Bill Janklow stands out as not your typical freshman. At 63, he is the oldest member of the freshman class. Also, not many times that you see a sitting governor -- he was governor for 16 years -- coming in as a freshman in the House.

WOODRUFF: In the House.


WALTER: So, that's right. That's pretty unique. We'll see -- he certainly has a tremendous amount of experience where they go there.

Tom Cole from Oklahoma, he is taking over the seat of retiring Congressman J.C. Watts. This guy also has a lot of experience, not really wet behind the ears. Besides being a state legislator and secretary of state, he's been to Washington, too. He was at the Republican National Committee. He was at the National Republican Campaign Committee. I think Republicans are probably going to look to him for some good strategic advice.

And those are a couple of good folks to watch there.

WOODRUFF: All right, I can't resist asking you about the 2000 election. There's something else about Florida. There's a trifecta?

WALTER: That's right. Or think about it as it's like when you have a TV show that's been off the air for a little while, and then it comes back for the reunion show, it's really popular. And I think we're going to see that in this freshman class.

The most notable, of course, is Catherine Harris, the former secretary of state who won her election in a pretty Republican district near Sarasota. But she is joined by some of her colleagues from that era, Tom Feeney, who was the speaker of the House. He got a lot of attention in 2000, when he was working to get the legislature to push electors through the special elective session. He is also joining her in a new seat that he helped to draw in central Florida.

And then we talked about now...

WOODRUFF: Kendrick...

WALTER: ... Kendrick Meek, who was also pretty outspoken during that time. So, they all get to come together and enjoy each others' company one more time.

WOODRUFF: Never let that recount go.

WALTER: Can't wait.


WALTER: Right, it's too much fun.

WOODRUFF: It's part of our marrow.

WALTER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: OK, Amy Walter with the "Cook Political Report," thanks very much.

WALTER: Thanks, Judy.

Well, topping today's "Campaign News Daily," South Dakota election officials are nearing the official tally of votes from last Tuesday's election. The count is crucial to Democratic Senator Tim Johnson and his 527-vote victory over Republican John Thune, who has said that he will only seek a recount if the vote changed significantly during the canvas, or if major irregularities are found.

Outgoing Vermont Governor Howard Dean has signed up a money man for his expected 2004 presidential bid. He is former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman. Dean helped Grossman in his failed bid for Massachusetts governor. Grossman says his decision to join Dean is not a reflection on fellow Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, who also is mulling a run for the White House.

Presidential prospect John Edwards today laid out his economic vision, including reductions in spending and a rollback of tax cuts for the wealthy.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Do you know why Americans think that many Democrats want to spend too much money? Because they do. Do you know why Americans think that many Republicans are too close to corporate interests? Because they are.


WOODRUFF: Edwards spoke at the "Fortune" magazine global forum here in Washington.

Just ahead, "CROSSFIRE" hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson will square off in our "Taking Issue" debate.

Plus, Iraq's parliament gives a thumbs-down to the new United Nations demands.



WOODRUFF: With us now, "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

Gentlemen, let's start with something that the Senate -- about to be Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said the day after the elections. He said he will bring up and wants to pass a bill banning partial birth abortions.

Tucker, is this a good move for the Republicans to take on right now?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Of course, it's a -- I mean, it's a great move if you look at the polls. I mean, and that's what it is. That's absolutely what it is if you strip it from -- with its euphemisms taken away. And people support it. I don't think there's any way you can paint this as a move by the radical right to take away a fundamental right. There's no way to do that.

WOODRUFF: Paul, good move politically for the Republicans?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: Well, Tucker is right that the majority of Americans support a ban on the so-called partial birth abortion procedure. Tom Daschle proposed one a long time ago that would have had an exception for the health, as well as the life of the woman in the case, and Republicans didn't want that.

Fundamentally politically, though, they did not campaign on this. If they had, I think Tucker is right -- most people probably would have said that you're right on that issue, but they didn't campaign on it. They campaigned on homeland security, and I think they have a right to get their way on homeland security. But it may be a telling sign that they want to focus on social issues, and long term, that's a bad strategy for the Republicans.

CARLSON: I agree with Paul that they didn't campaign on it, and I think there are a lot of Republicans who do think it's a losing issue and it makes people squeamish, et cetera. But on this specific issue, partial birth abortion, I mean, it's just a political winner, and Republicans, I agree with Paul, don't always recognize that. WOODRUFF: Let's move to the Democrats. Terry McAuliffe, a number of people calling for his head, they're blaming him at least in part for the losses by the Democrats.

Paul, is this a man who should be shown the door?

BEGALA: No. Period. The party chairman's job is to do two things. It's to take care of the money and the mechanics. Now, there's three M's in a winning campaign. There's money, mechanics and message. It's not the party chairman's job to come up with the message. That's the job of the candidates, the politicians.

In the main, too many of the politicians in my party did a terrible job of putting out their message or devising their message. That's not the party chairman's fault. So, I think he's done a fine job. He ought to stay. There are about 50 other changes this party ought to make before we start worrying about changing our party chairman.


CARLSON: Well, I mean, I love Terry McAuliffe. He's a godsend for the right. The Democratic Party didn't have a message in this election, and that's what Terry McAuliffe articulated, a non-message. It was all personal attacks on the Bush family, accusing Republicans of being racist and other things that people has looked at and said, oh, that's horrifying.

It's very telling, though, that Democrats are agitating for his ouster. Zell Miller, a Democrat, of course, a senator from Georgia wrote a piece the other day, saying he needs to be gotten rid of. "The New York Times" today had a story, a Democratic fund-raiser, saying we got to get rid of this guy. He's an albatross.

And I guess I would just say to Paul, if he's not the spokesman for the party, who is, apart from Barbra Streisand is spokesman for the party?

BEGALA: Of course, I am, Judy, but I'm not running for anything right now, and I don't want to be the party chairman. I'm having too much fun doing "CROSSFIRE."

But no, the candidates are, the politicians are, and we can all -- look, the Republican Party chairman, very successful, Mark Racicot, also a lobbyist for Enron. What could be a greater poster boy for corporate corruption than Enron and one of their paid lobbyists is their chairman? Does anybody care? No. Does anybody vote on that? No, nor should they.

WOODRUFF: We're going to move quickly to a very different subject, and that the Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters. The chairman of that club, a man named Hootie Johnson, announced yesterday that they are not going to change their policy of not permitting women to join the club.

Tucker, are we looking at a situation where, you know, they should -- at some point, something is going to change their mind and should change their mind? Or should this just go on as it is?

CARLSON: Well, I think for the eight super-rich female golfers in America, this is a really important issue, and they'll be following it carefully. Probably the rest of the country doesn't care as much. Hootie Johnson, for whatever it's worth, did say that they might accept women in the future. He just said not this year and the point is, he was saying, it's our club and we will make that decision on our terms without the help of Martha Burk and her fundraising apparatus. I think that's fair. I really don't think most people care that much.


BEGALA: I just think it's amusing that a guy named Booty or Cootie or Tootie or whatever his name is, wants to be taken seriously and wants to be sexist and stupid. He has a legal righ to be, but it is both sexist and stupid. Of course, golf is stupid, so what the hell? You know, I mean, I really don't care very much. We're actually going to try and debate it tonight on CROSSFIRE. But the fundamental point is, why -- who wants to go play golf with a guy named Booty?

CARLSON: And in a world in which people -- women die in childbirth, is this the biggest issue? Come on. No, seriously. I mean, really.

WOODRUFF: Tucker, you need to be quiet so we can praise you.

CARLSON: I don't care.

WOODRUFF: Tucker is the winner of the Crystal Ball Contest conducted by "The Washington Post" and maybe other news organizations. That means he got more predictions right than any other pundit anywhere in the world. So Tucker, we want to be the first to give you our congratulations.

CARLSON: Well thank you, Judy. I appreciate it.

BEGALA: Outstanding. We are proud, Tucker. Way to go, Tucker.

WOODRUFF: Great -- he wears it humbly doesn't he?

BEGALA: Well no, but he deserves to be proud.

WOODRUFF: All right. Paul, Tucker, great to see you both.

BEGALA: Thanks Judy.

CARLSON: Thanks Judy.

WOODRUFF: It is no time. It is time to rebuild. Those words from a storm victim whose Ohio hometown was devastated by a killer storm. We'll have the latest on the storm cleanup efforts when we come back.



BUSH: The country is committed to making the world more peaceful by disarming Saddam Hussein. And it's just as simple as that. There's a zero tolerance policy now. The last 11 years have been a period of time when this guy tried to deceive the world, and we're through with it.


WOODRUFF: Saddam Hussein faces the final test. Will he accept or reject the U.N.'s get tough resolution? A report from Baghdad coming up.


WOODRUFF: Topping our "News Alert," the vote by Iraqi lawmakers, to recommend rejection of the U.N. resolution, demanding that Iraq immediately disarm. Today's vote was unanimous, but as the clock ticks toward a Friday deadline, the final decision rests with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

CNN's Rym Brahimi reports from Baghdad.


RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 239 members of the Iraqi Parliament vote on the U.N. Security Council's latest resolution. All 239 vote no. Despite the threat of a U.S.-led war against Iraq, if Baghdad doesn't comply with the U.N. demands. The president of the Parliament told reporters, it was a risk Iraqis' were prepared to take.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter what, the consequences are, this decision is the firm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the independence of our people, and the profession of the integrity of our people.

BRAHIMI: One by one, in the discussion that continued on Tuesday morning, the speakers explained why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We reject the decision, because it's unfair, and unjust to our people, and our country.

BRAHIMI: Only one very prominent member of the national assembly had erratically different suggestions. Uday Saddam Hussein, the president's son was one of 11 deputies to not show up. In paper he sent to the assembly he calls for Parliamentarians to accept the resolution, even though he said it was unfair. It's not appeasing the U.S., said the president's son, because Iraq will be in conflict with America for the next 20 years. Still, deputies ended up recommending the resolution be rejected. But they also voted unanimously to allow president Saddam Hussein to make the ultimate call on the issue.

BRAHIMI: The country's Revolution Command Council, chaired by the president, has until Friday to make a final decision on the resolution and it's likely to accept it. The National Assembly's public rejection a message, essentially for international public consumption that if Iraq does end up accepting the resolution, it will do so in protest. On the streets of Baghdad, whether or not the resolution is accepted, seems to make little difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the difference? The U.S. wants to hit and it will hit.

BRAHIMI: Years of conflict, and economic sanctions have made Iraqis, immune to fear, we're told. They just go about their business as if nothing were happening. But worry, they do, as they watch helpless, yet another crisis unfold between the U.S. and Iraq.

Rym Brahimi, CNN, Baghdad.


WOODRUFF: More than half a dozen states bear the scars, the killer storms that swept across parts of the Midwest and southeast. Yesterday, today, as the weather clears, storm victims are beginning to pick through the debris to start their lives over.

Miles O'Brien is in the hard hit town of Mossy Grove in east Tennessee.

Hello Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello Judy, from sunup to sundown today, this has been the scene, picking through the debris. This is the Hester (ph) family, their friends and relatives who are helping out. Their house was about 200 yards from here, most of their belongings are here.

We go over and talk to Erica (ph), 14 years old, she's been at it all day.

Erica (ph), what have you found, and what's been going through your mind, through all this search?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kind of hard, but I'm making it OK. We found a lot of our clothes. They found two bagfuls of my clothes, and everything thing. But it -- we're doing pretty good. We found quite a bit of our stuff.

O'BRIEN: That's it, just two bags full of clothes. Now you were across the street in a church service, your whole family was. And that is obviously a blessing right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's very good. It's a very good blessing.

O'BRIEN: Bobie, on the day after the day after, as this is, what -- lot of things to attend to, a lot of issues to attend to. Have you thought much about rebuilding yet?

BOBIE HESTER, STORM VICTIM: No, sir, we're just trying to settle up with the insurance company. They've been excellent to work with. I just want to take it within day at a time right now. We have really no idea what we're going to do.

O'BRIEN: But, you were across at the church services. You survey all of this. What goes through your mind? What are your thoughts?

HESTER: Well I, never been in a tornadoes, never seen one, still didn't see the one the other night. And until you actually, I guess, live through something like this, you just can't understand what people are going through.

O'BRIEN: It's an incredible scene, and really tremendous amount of devastation for a tight knit community.

You know everybody here, don't you?

HESTER: Just about. We're all pretty good neighbors.

O'BRIEN: You're getting a lot of help here, aren't you? I guess that helps.

HESTER: There's a lot of folks here. I was able to get here an hour or so ago, trying to take care of the insurance business earlier today. A lot of good folks here.

O'BRIEN: Bobie Hester and a lot of friends, thank you very much. Get back to work. We have -- we appreciate you joining us and taking a little time out. We wish you well in the future.

Just to bring you up to date, Judy, there's one person who is still considered missing -- unaccounted for. Still working on that. Authorities think it might have been sort of a clerical error. We're still trying to nail that down.

But the bottom line here is that seven people died in this field, this one square mile area when the tornado came down. Another rescue worker died -- heart attack as he was trying to help out with all of this.

Today, most of this county, Morgan County, still without power. Work crews doing a lot to try to bring it back on line. School is still out. Things, by no means, back to normal for families like the Hesters. It will be quite some time before things are anywhere close to normal -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Miles. No question that devastation is just stunning. It looks like a bomb hit, rather than just a storm.

Thanks very much, Miles.

And up next, will a GOP sweep be lovelier for Republicans the second time around? Our Bill Schneider tells us what President Bush has that Republicans in 1994 did not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Two days before House Democrats choose new leaders, Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee insists that California's Nancy Pelosi does not have the top spot locked up.

Ford tells our Kate Snow that at least eight Pelosi supporters are not solid. Ford says this video pitch to fellow House Democrats urging them to back his bid for minority leader.


REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: If elected to be leader, I'd bring the same work ethic that Dick Gephardt brought to the job. Different results, the same work ethic.

And given the opportunity to serve as leader of my colleagues in the Democratic side, I made the promise that I made my constituents back when I was 26-years-old, when I ran for Congress the very first time. There were those who criticized me for being too young. I promise if you elected me, I wouldn't let you down. And I say the same thing to my colleagues in the Democratic side. If you give me an opportunity to lead and be a part of a governing team on the Democratic side in the House of Representatives, I won't let you down.


WOODRUFF: Ford says he believes the race for House minority leader is tightening, which is why he says Pelosi has been dismissive in her remarks about him.

Well, there seems to be less conflict at the top for Republicans after their big midterm election win, but some members of the president's party may be haunted by memories of 1994.

Our Bill Schneider has been having flashbacks himself. Is that right, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Haven't we seen this before? Eight years ago, in 1994, Republicans scored a sweeping victory at the polls, and they took over Congress.

Then, they blew it. Will they get it right this time?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): 1994 was the year of the angry white men. Like this one.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: This country is conservative. It has been for a long time. Get used to it.

SCHNEIDER: What were they angry about?

This man, with his tax hike and his gays in the military and his wife's healthcare plan. They stormed the polls to vote against the president.

LIMBAUGH: Don't screw up.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they did.

Republicans assumed a mandate to govern they didn't have. It was as if Newt Gingrich had been elected president.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a wonderful time to celebrate.

SCHNEIDER: But most voters were unaware that they had elected Gingrich to anything.

And as for the Contract with America, two-thirds of the voters had never heard of it.

In 2002, Republicans and conservatives came out in record numbers again. But this time, they were voting for a president. They were driven by enthusiasm, not anger.

In 1995, the Republican Congress overreached. Remember the government shutdown?

This time, they stand a better chance of getting it right. For one thing, there's a Republican president. This was his victory. He's in charge.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: And so I'm excited to be able to be on offense, working with this president.

SCHNEIDER: This time, Republicans are determined not to overreach. No expensive new tax cuts, despite pressure from conservatives. Social security reform? In due time.

ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I'm not sure that it can happen next year.

SCHNEIDER: This time, Republicans are taking their cues from a president who doesn't sound at all like Newt Gingrich.

BUSH: If there is a mandate in any election, at least in this one, it's that people want something to get done. They want people to work together in Washington, D.C.


SCHNEIDER: Second chances are rare in American politics. Having taken over Congress for the second time in a decade, Republicans now have one. But this time, they also have the White House. And that makes all the difference -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Yep, that has a little weight on their side. All right, Bill, thanks very much.

Just ahead, we will revisit the midterm elections.

Ron Brownstein will check in and tell us what went wrong for the Democrats.


WOODRUFF: Voting machines have barely been put away, but a long- time Republican Congressman from Texas already has announced his plan to step down.

CNN has just learned Larry Combest saying his resignation will be effective at the end of May of next year. He says that that should give would-be candidates for 19th District seat plenty of time to get a campaign going. The 57-year-old Combest says he wants to spend more time with his wife. He says a number of events have happened to them this past year to make them realize how fragile life and health are. Combest was unopposed in last week's election.

Well one week after the midterm elections, many Democrats and others are no doubt still wondering what went wrong.

With us now to talk more about that, CNN political analyst and "Los Angeles Times" political reporter Ron Brownstein.

All right, Brown -- Ron, from your perspective, what went wrong for the Democrats?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's really striking, Judy. If you look around the country, the Democrats did not collapse in the places where they have been strong. They held on to the cities and they even held on to most of the northern suburbs that realigned from the Republicans toward the Democratic vote in the 1990s under Bill Clinton.

The problem for the Democrats was they could not break into the places where Republicans have been strong. And, in fact, the Republicans generally grew even stronger in those places, to the point where they overwhelmed the Democrats in many of these races around the country.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk specifics. Two places where there were very close races. First of all, Minnesota.

BROWNSTEIN: Minnesota is a perfect example of what happened in 2002. If you look apt the map, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, which have been important for Democrats, Walter Mondale held those places, but he gave ground all across rural Minnesota, in places like Ottertail and Becker and Deltrami (ph) either went Republican or the Democratic margin declined.

The real change, Judy, was in the exsurban counties outside Minneapolis-St. Paul., one county removed from the inner suburbs, places like Dakota and Scott and Carver and Wright and Sherburn and Onoka (ph), all the way around the Twin Cities. These went from places that either Wellstone -- Paul Wellstone won in '96 or lost narrowly to enormous and really unbeatable margins for Norm Coleman in 2002. That was really where the election turned in Minnesota.

WOODRUFF: Congratulations, you do know your Minnesota geography, Ron.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, a little bit.

WOODRUFF: Ron, what about Missouri, another place where the race was very close?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, a similar kind of pattern. Democrats can't look at the map in Missouri and say they lost because they did not turn out their base. Jean Carnahan's margin in St. Louis was twice as large as the Democratic margin in the 1998 Senate race against Kit Bond. It was three times as large in Kansas City. But like Walter Mondale, she was bled all across rural Minnesota. Look at all those red counties in the northeast, in the southwest. A big margins in places like Green and Jasper and Newton counties.

And also, similarly, as in Minnesota, the ex-surban counties, one county further out. St. Charles County in St. Louis, an almost all white county that grew enormously in the 1990s, a much bigger margin for Jim Talent than Kit Bond in 1998. If you look, Judy, in other states like Georgia, you'd see a similar pattern.

It was a clear problem for the Democrats going into the election, rural, small town exsurban America. It's a bigger problem coming out.

WOODRUFF: It will be really interesting, Ron, to pinpoint what it is about what voters want in those exsurban and rural counties that the voters in the urban and suburban counties don't. We don't have the exit polls, but we're going to have to do some more reporting.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. Democrats have to figure out by 2004, because a lot of these places are going to be very tough for them.

WOODRUFF: For sure. All right, Ron, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS from the Cannon House office building at the Capitol, I'm Judy Woodruff.


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