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Pelosi Selected to Lead House Democrats

Aired November 14, 2002 - 16:00   ET


I'm Judy Woodruff on Capitol Hill. House Democrats choose a woman to advance their agenda. Critics say Nancy Pelosi is too far to the left. Pelosi says she stands ready to lead.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. She's the first woman to lead either party in Congress. What drives Nancy Pelosi, and what her rival at the top says about the direction of the Democratic party.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Los Angeles. The owner of this car is making a statement. I'll tell you what it is and why it's likely to create a stir on your airwaves.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, a name you know gets engaged, and we're not just talking about J. Lo. We'll tell you who's hearing wedding bells, from Hollywood to Washington.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Here on Capitol Hill, House Democrats today make California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi the first woman ever to lead a political party in Congress.

Pelosi won the post easily, reflecting wide support among her fellow Democrats. An interesting side note, however, is the many Republicans who were also happy, they say, to see Pelosi ride to the top, but for very different reasons.

Our coverage begins with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Listen. That's the sound of a glass ceiling shattering.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER-ELECT: I've been waiting over 200 years for this.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is the first woman elected to the top spot of either party on either side of Capitol Hill. And she's a Democrat. Here them roar. REP. JOHN SPRATT (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have a fresh face. We're going it win back the House on the marriage with better policies and better ideas, a new agenda for the American people.

CROWLEY: The Democrats fresh face and fresh voice is 62-years- old and a 15-year veteran of Capitol Hill, representing San Francisco, one of the most liberal, most Democratic districts in the country.

That's something conservative Democrats worried about, Republicans reveled in and she dismissed.

PELOSI: The role of leader is quite a different one from the role of advocate. The lead has to unify the caucus, has to develop policy.

CROWLEY: Having survived the deer in the headlights phase, Democrats, conservatives, moderates and liberals now depend on Pelosi to figure out and fix what went wrong November 5.

PELOSI: The reason we didn't win in 2002 is because not enough Democrats voted and not enough people voted Democratic.

CROWLEY: But to fix that, to put Democrats back in the running, Pelosi may not need to be a juggler so much as a contortionist.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: I think the answer for the caucus is to not do what some are saying, that we need to move to the base or we need to move to the center. We need to do both.

CROWLEY: Madam leader, as she is now called, may well be up to this task, managing, in her first statement, to be both conciliatory and unbending.

PELOSI: Where we can find our common ground on the economy and on other domestic issues we shall seek it. We have that responsibility to the American people. Where we cannot find that common ground, we must stand our ground. The American people need us to do that.


CROWLEY (on camera): Pelosi, who prefers the label pragmatist to liberal, became the Democrats' fresh face the old fashioned way: she earned it. With years of grassroots efforts, her climb up the party ladder, her tireless efforts for and generous donations to the campaigns of fellow Democrats.

Perhaps the most telling came today from her Republican counterpart, Tom Delay, who called Pelosi a worthy opponent -- Judy

WOODRUFF: Now Candy, it's clear that Republicans say they're pleased that the Democrats have chosen a liberal. What about among the Democrats themselves? Do they believe that Pelosi can pull the party together and move in the right direction? CROWLEY: Well, you have to look at the overwhelming vote and say they do. You know, the proof is always in the pudding. We'll see. But you heard her talking and you heard that speech. And she makes a good point, that being the representative of San Francisco is far different from being the leader of the caucus, and she's got a lot of views that she has to take into consideration. Will she vote any differently? No. But she has a different job and she'll act accordingly.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy, thanks very much.

Well just about half an hour ago I spoke with Nancy Pelosi about her election to the post of Democratic House leader, and I started by asking if she's had a chance to sort out personal feelings at this point.


PELOSI: It is pretty exciting. I feel a certain solemnity about it because when we're in the rough and tumble of campaigns as we were just up until last Tuesday, you know, you're not thinking about these kinds of things and then with the departure -- the announcement of a great leader, Dick Gephardt -- that he was not going to stand for election again, it all came quite fast.

So now that the vote is over, it feels kind of solemn to me, to go forward.

WOODRUFF: If the Democrats are pleased, the Republicans say they are thrilled, that they now have a San Francisco liberal as the person who's leading the Democrats, somebody they can talk about. I asked you about this last Friday. The Republicans are still beating that drum. Is there anything you can say to quiet that?

PELOSI: They called Joan Arthur Smith, who was a very conservative candidate in New Mexico, the Democratic nominee there, too liberal. That is their mantra. Actually, it's kind of an old thing. In California we think in entrepreneurial and fresh ways about every issue. And if it comes down to the right or left of center, so be it. The solutions are where they are.

But some in San Francisco always say they call -- when they called me a liberal Democrat, I always say, yes, I'm a liberal Democrat, but I'm a conservative Catholic. So put that in your mix.

This idea of right and left is yesterday. It's about going into the future, not from right to left, and that's what we're going to do as Democrats.

I think when people say that, they really don't understand what the role of the leader is. Certainly to one of us who comes to Congress who represents our district, and when one of us becomes the leader, then we represent the caucus, and we have to build consensus within the caucus as we go forward.

WOODRUFF: Even some of your supporters, Nancy Pelosi, are saying that they're concerned for all of your wonderful political skills, that you may not reach out enough to moderates in the party?

PELOSI: Well I don't know who those supporters are who say that but 177, over 85 percent of my colleagues, gave me a vote of confidence, because they thought I could be a good leader and it is essential to reach out as I have all along. I've reached out within our own party, and -- or to the other side of the aisle.

I always seek common ground where we can find it, as I have said, or stand my ground where we can't find it. And as the leader of the party, I hope that our party will come up with -- our issue is the economy. We will put forth our proposal for economic growth, opportunity for every American to participate in the success of our economy. First we have to find out why the Bush economic plan is failing so we can have the proper remedy to it.

WOODRUFF: What about those Democrats who are now saying that you need -- the country needs to roll back some of the Bush tax cuts? Isn't there a risk in doing that? That Democrats just get labeled tax raisers again?

PELOSI: I don't know that that is the decision that the Democrats will come to.

WOODRUFF: What do you think?

PELOSI: There may be some redirection of the tax cut. It's not a matter of what I think. I was very pleased to offer the title of assistance to minority leader, to Congressman John Spratt of South Carolina. He's a very respected and senior member of the armed services committee since 1982, and a ranking Democrat on the budget committee since 1996. He's the Mr. Moderate of the Democratic party in the Congress and very respected. He and others will draw upon the expertise that we have within our caucus, reach out for other expertise to formulate how we go forward.

It's not a question of what I think. It's a question of what we decide after we have considered many options, in viewing what's wrong with the economy, and, again, what the proper remedy is to it. I think that you're going to -- people will be surprised. We are about making the future better. We're about growing the economy, and it's not about reaching out left or right. It's about where the answers are. And I'm very -- I'm very thrilled that John Spratt accepted this honor, and he will bring a great deal to the debate and in establishing the framework for discussion on the economy.

WOODRUFF: Representative Nancy Pelosi, the next minority leader in the House. Congratulations again.

PELOSI: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thanks for talking with us.

PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Nancy Pelosi won her race to become Democratic house leader by easily defeating Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford 177-29. Ford ran against Pelosi to provide what he called a more moderate alternative for the party. Today Ford said he is hopeful that Pelosi recognizes the diverse views among Democrats.


REP. HAROLD FORD (D-TENNESSEE): The last election results proved that there should be some more faces and voices at the table and I would have to think that Ms. Pelosi can answer and should be willing to reach out. If not, we'll have the same minority race two year years from now.


WOODRUFF: Democrats also chose the rest of their House leadership team today. Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, takes over as Democratic Whip. In a tight battle for the post of caucus chairman, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, defeated Connecticut's, Rosa Delauro, by 104 to 103. The caucus vice chairman will be, James Clyburn of South Carolina.

With me now at the capitol, are our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.

And Jonathan, you got some news on this. Independent commission, this whole idea that has been batted around several months now, the whole idea behind it was to have an outside group to look into what went wrong, 9/11? What were the intelligence failures? Now what happened today with regards to that?

JONATHAN KARL, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some significant development, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) development on this. Looks like they are very close to a deal on this. Now back up a minute. You remember this was Joe Lieberman and John McCain, and actually Robert Torricelli who initially proposed this. An independent commission will look into what went wrong on September 11, 2001.

The White House, was initially adamantly opposed to the idea. They came on in favor over the summer, and have been deadlocked on the issue ever since. They've been meeting in Trent Lott's office: congressional leaders, White House representatives. And I am told they are very near to a deal. This would be a 10 member commission: five Republicans, five Democrats. The chairman pointed by the president. The vice chairman will be a Democrat appointed by the Democratic leaders in the Congress.

There will also significantly, an 18 month limit, for how much the commission can look in to this. 18 months from now. That would mean the commissioner would be done by spring of 2004. Well in advance of the 2004 presidential election. The president did not want the commission to come out way report in October of his re-election year.

WOODRUFF: OK, some changes, some shifting positions there. Stick quickly to another subject, Jon, that is Tom Daschle coming out with tough criticism the Bush Administration?

KARL: Yes. Tom Daschle had extremely tough criticism on the war on terror. If you remember, several months ago Daschle suggested that we were actually losing the war on terrorism. He came out again, and basically said the same thing but in very strong language. He said that we have not found Bin Laden, and we've not been making real progress in the other aspects of going after Al Qaeda. Not making any real progress. And then compared Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the sniper that terrorized Washington.

Listen to this.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Osama Bin Laden is the sniper. He is terrorizing the country as the sniper terrorized Washington. And we finally found the sniper. And I would hope that we could find Bin Laden. And I would hope that whatever resources have not been applied, whatever resources organizationly that have not been utilized, that they be utilized, and the sooner the better.


KARL: And Daschle said he believes Al Qaeda is as great a threat today as they were a year and a half ago, before the war started in Afghanistan. Now, Trent Lott had a hasty response to this in the hallway talking to CNN. He said, and I think we have a fullsceen here, it seems to me Senator Daschle's comments are inappropriate, out of order. And he might want to check with Senator Landrieu, to see if she agrees that the president has not done a good job on the war on terrorism.

A reference to Mary Land., who of course, faces a runoff election on December 7. Democrats took heat for criticizing, for not being seen as on the same page with the president on the war on terrorism. So kind of a comment from Senator Lott.

WOODRUFF: Well see were that goes.

OK, John, thank you.

Well the president's top political adviser says American voters are trending Republican. Donna Brazil (ph), and Bay Buchanan, offer their thoughts a little later.

Also, the Republican House Whip wins a promotion, and hands over his velvet hammer. After the break, I had chat with Congressman Tom DeLay.

The fourth of July may never be the same for one member of Congress. Voters decide to bring home an incumbent whose big business is fireworks.

And later, another attack on the Goliath of the highway. SUV opponents are now appealing to patriotism, even religion, to get sport utilities off the street. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here's a snapshot of the new capitol gang, so to speak. Today incoming house freshman took time out from orientation to pose for a class photo. Republicans in this new class outnumbered Democrats nearly two to one.

With the GOP members of that group will answer to a fiery Texan known at "the hammer." Congressman Tom DeLay is the new house majority leader. And I spoke with him about an hour or two ago outside this house office building.


WOODRUFF: Congratulations, Mr. Majority leader.

REP. TOM DELAY, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you, I'm not used to that yet. Being whip for 8 years, I'm used to being called whip but that's nice.

WOODRUFF: Not only whip, but called "the hammer," "the enforcer." Are you still going to be that in this new position?

DELAY: Well, I passed the hammer to my successor Roy Blunt, from Missouri, who is the new whip. It will be a different focus for me, a different job for me, and I'm looking forward to it. Actually, I'm a little excited about it.

WOODRUFF: Now, your party is already saying that the leader of the Democrats in the house, Nancy Pelosi, is liberal. The Democrats are saying Tom Delay is conservative. They're saying you're as conservative as she is liberal. Is that true?

DELAY: Oh, I don't know. It's all in the eyes of the beholder. Nancy Pelosi stands for what she believes in, and I respect that. I stand for what I believe in, and I hope she respects that. And we're worthy opponents. Hopefully she'll be the loyal opposition.

WOODRUFF: To the extent the Republicans may want to make hear lightning rod for the Democratic party, could the Democrats do the same thing to you?

DELAY: Well, they tried to for many, many years. You know, those are not things that I focus on. I don't worry about people's image of me. I don't worry about those kinds of things. What I worry about and focus on is my job, and how do I get done? How do I advance the president's agenda? How do we cut taxes? How do we do pension reform, welfare reform? All the things we want to do. If I spend any time at all worrying about who says what about me, I'd never get anything done.

WOODRUFF: People look at you, Tom Delay, and say he someone who is conservative. And the question, some are asking, for you now, is ideology coming first or as many wins as you get, even if it means compromising with your own party and with the Democrats? DELAY: Well, I just think you need to look at my record. I've been majority whip eight years now. And I think I've done a pretty fair job in advancing the Republican agenda and America's agenda. Yes, that's taken some compromises, but the overall direction of where this country is going has changed significantly since the Republicans took over the house in 1995. I'm very proud of the fact that we balanced the budget. That we did welfare reform. That we were paying down the debt, that we are supporting the president on this war on terrorism. The things we have been able to accomplish, I don't know if you call it a moderate or conservative agenda. I don't really care. I think it's good for the country, and I'm looking forward to doing more of it.

WOODRUFF: Last question: terrorism insurance. Construction projects all over the country are being held up because builders are concerned about their liability if there's another act of terror.

The president very much wanted this passed. Yesterday, you said there were serious flaws in this legislation, that it's better to just hold off and do it next year.

DELAY: I didn't say that. I said there's serious flaws in this legislation, and I am right. We are going to pass this bill, because I think it's important to get this bill done. The insurance part of the bill is very important, but I'm very concerned about opening up the pockets of the taxpayers to trial lawyers, and the liability portions of this bill need to be fixed, and I got assurances from the president that he's going to be very, very active in helping me next year fix those problems.

WOODRUFF: So pass it now, but fix it later.

DELAY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mr. Majority Leader, thank you very much for talking with us.

DELAY: My pleasure.


WOODRUFF: DeLay also told me that going forward, it's important to note that the president has his agenda, Democrats have their agenda, and he said we, the Congressional Republicans, have our agenda.

The president's closest adviser says America is moving right politically, and last week's election results prove it.

Up next, our in-studio guest will take issue with Karl Rove's latest remarks.

But first, let's turn to Rhonda Schaffler. She is at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update -- hello, Rhonda.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. News that Americans are still spending at the mall gave investors a reason to go shopping for stocks today.

The market rallied on the latest retail sales report, which showed that consumers haven't finished their shopping spree just yet.

Good news for the economy, which thrives on consumer spending. Investors also heartened by some upbeat earnings reports from Target and some other retailers.

Let's show you some closing numbers here. Dow Jones industrial average jumped 143 points, or nearly 1 and 3/4 percent, ending near session highs. The Nasdaq composite surged 3 and 2/3 percent.

After the bell, Dell Computer reported a profit that was in line with expectations. In corporate news, General Motors is recalling 1.5 million vehicles because of a problem with power steering.

That massive recall affects model year 1996 to '98 cars and minivans. GM will begin notify affected owners in January and instruct them to bring their vehicles to the dealers.

That's the latest from Wall Street, more INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including an upcoming ad campaign targeting SUV owners.


WOODRUFF: Presidential adviser Karl Rove isn't wasting any time presenting his theory for last week's GOP triumph at the ballot box. Rove says the Republican message is simply resonating with voters. Is he right? Well, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile certainly have some opinions -- hello, there.



WOODRUFF: Karl Rove, in a speech in Salt Lake City yesterday is saying, essentially, that there are important signs coming out of this election, that the country is trending more Republican.

Let me just quote to you something that he said. He said, "Things are moving in a new direction. It's not just that Republicans picked up three seats in the Senate, or six or seven or eight in the House, it's something else more fundamental, but we'll only know what it is in another two years or four years."

Now, let me quote to you something that Senator Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware said about the same subject. He said, "This was a much less significant election than you all make it out to be. Fifty thousand votes cast nationwide would change the results completely.

Bay Buchanan, who's right?

BUCHANAN: Karl Rove, I think, is accurate. There is no question that the middle, the undecided, the swing vote, moved towards Bush, responded to his message. That is without question, I think, but I think Karl is also talking about the last six or eight months, the trends in polls show women, more and more, voting for Republicans, the gender gap closing, and young people signing up as Republicans in much larger numbers than they ever have. That would bode well for the Republicans in the future.

BRAZILE: Well, in some of the post-election polls, Bay, we see that young people are still trending Democratic, if we get them out to vote and we get them registered.

Let me just say that Karl Rove is a master strategist, but he is not a psychic. I don't think there's a huge shift that has taken place in the electorate. Bay is right, the independent women, as well as seniors shifted to the Republican Party this election season, but next electoral season, I think they'll come back to their natural base with the Democratic Party, because they stand and they believe in many Democratic values.

WOODRUFF: Well, what about the gender gap? Among the other -- some of the evidence that Rove pointed to is that especially among -- he said older and younger voters, but he noted especially younger voters, the gender gap is coming together. It's much narrower than it used to be.

BUCHANAN: And the significance there is it's with the women, which are usually overwhelmingly Democratic, that's closing, but still, Republicans hold their own with the men very, very strong. That's not closing. That's where I think the real danger is for the Democrats.

BRAZILE: Well, I think the danger is if Republicans will not deliver on all the promises that they made, many promises that Democrats have tried to keep -- keep Republicans to make, that is to improve public schools, to make sure that they save our retirement security, Social Security, and if Republicans fail to deliver, now that they have all three branches of government, then those voters will come back to the Democratic Party. I think the Democratic Party needs to prepare its message as well as a strategy to recapture those voters in 2004.

BUCHANAN: There is no question Donna has an excellent point, Mary (ph), in the sense that in the next two years, if Republicans don't perform, they have a problem. But even on the issue of education, polls were showing more Americans believe that the Republicans have a better answer than Democrats, and I don't know that that's ever been true in my lifetime, until now.

WOODRUFF: We were both -- you were both talking about the Louisiana Senate race before we went on the air. Let me ask you both Donna, to you first, right now you've got a Republican governor who is not enthusiastically embracing the Republican candidate for the Senate. This is of course, the Mary Landrieu effort to get re- elected. You know Louisiana, you're from there. How much difference is that going to make?

BRAZILE: Well, I think if Governor Foster continues to sit on the sidelines, and Mary continues to put the kind of campaign that she's putting together, urban Orleanians, and rural and suburban people from Bossier City and other places, Mary will have the former (ph) she needs to win her re-election. She is a good candidate, she is strong, she is bright, she is a centrist Democrat, and I think that Governor Foster's decision to sit it out thus far is helping Mary coalesce the Democratic as well as independent votes in that state.

WOODRUFF: Bay, quick comment.

BUCHANAN: Yes, Mary -- I've run two primaries down there and done very well. I know the state fairly well. And there is no question, the governor should be out there. That's outrageous. But the people he would -- who would respond to him will respond to President Bush, and Vice President Cheney, who -- both will be down there, and they are solid Republicans. These are not edgy people. They are Republicans. I believe they'll be voting. Problem with Landrieu is she's got to get people out to vote who didn't get out on general Election Day.

BRAZILE: Bay, I invite you to come on down to New Orleans and have a good old bowl of jumbo and some jambalaya and ettouffee, and maybe we'll change your mind. That's all.

WOODRUFF: Going to New Orleans is something we can all agree on.

BUCHANAN: That's for sure, and I'll let you take me to those restaurants, Donna.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: A live update from Iraq is next on the CNN "News Alert."

Also ahead: the winners of two Senate cliffhangers. I'll talk with Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota and South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson.


WOODRUFF: A more thorough read of Iraq's new letter to the U.N. is giving the White House cause for concern. Apparently, the letter was filled with anti-American invective and claimed that Saddam Hussein's government has no weapons of mass destruction, nor the means to make them. Secretary of State Colin Powell said such denials won't be enough to thwart the inspections.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it is absolutely necessary that there be no confusion, no misunderstanding that, if the Iraqis do not cooperate, do not comply, do not work with the inspectors, do not take this opportunity to get rid of their weapons of mass destruction, then there will be consequences. And those consequences will involve the use of military force to disarm them through changing the regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: CNN's Rym Brahimi joins us from now Baghdad, where it's a little after midnight.

And, Rym, they are reacting to these comments from the Bush administration.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, people here, Judy, are very, very much aware that this is no joke and that the U.S. will be looking for everything possible maybe to maybe block them, as they put it.

Now, that goes not just for the Iraqi leadership that is very, very much aware that this is a very, very crucial moment, what happens on the ground being more crucial than even what was said in the letter. And that also goes for ordinary Iraqis.

Now, I understand from many Iraqis that they're concerned. They are willing to cooperate because they do feel that it is a question of life and death. They feel that they could be bombed at any time, if any glitch were to take place. But they also worry, because they say: "Well, what if an inspector showed up at my place? Am I supposed to just open the door to him if he shows up out of the blue?" They also feel that it is very humiliating.

Now, I do understand from sources close to Iraqi officials that instructions have been given out to government employees and also to university professors, for instance, to make sure that, if the inspectors did show up anywhere, they will receive full cooperation. So there's a lot of awareness here, and not just for the Iraqi leadership, for who it's a question of survival, but also for many ordinary Iraqis, because the last thing they want to see here, Judy, is another war -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Rym Brahimi, reporting for us from Baghdad.

And, as we've been telling you today, CNN is following the trial today of the gun distributor. This is the case of a young man, a young student in Florida, South Florida, who, two years ago, took a gun and shot and killed his teacher. That young man is now serving a sentence in prison. The gun distributor, though, is now on trial for what its liability should be.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has more.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The widow of Barry Grunow wants the gun distributor, Florida's Valor Corporation, to share legal responsibility for the murder of her husband.

PAMELA GRUNOW, WIDOW OF VICTIM: The hardest times are trying to have a family dinner without him. It's very empty.

CANDIOTTI: Mrs. Grunow's attorneys waved before the jury the very same gun used by student Nathaniel Brazill to kill teacher Barry Grunow two years ago.

ROBERT MONTGOMERY, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: It was available to gun manufacturers, Raven in particular, methods that could deter persons who are unauthorized from using this weapon.

CANDIOTTI: Valor insists a lock on this so-called Saturday night special or any gun would not have prevented this teen from pulling the trigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he took the gun. He loaded the gun. He took the safety off the gun. He pointed it right at Mr. Grunow. And he pulled the trigger.

CANDIOTTI: Valor says the teenager's family friend, from whom Brazill stole the gun, was negligent for keeping the weapon in a cookie tin.

ROBERT UDELL, ATTORNEY FOR BRAZILL: Was he being downright reckless in the storage? I ask you, would you store a gun in this fashion? Common sense.

CANDIOTTI: The shooter, Brazill, now 16, was called by the defense, but pleaded the Fifth. His lawyer said the teen did not want to help the gun company, grateful to Mrs. Grunow for not asking a judge to put him away for life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows he owes a debt to this lady. And she was very gracious. And if this is the way we can pay her back, fine.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): But Brazill, currently serving a 28-year sentence for second-degree murder, isn't on trial. The gun distributor is. For the first time, a Florida jury is deciding whether a gun company should be held liable for providing what the plaintiffs call an instrument of destruction. The pawn shop who sold it and the elderly man who owned it have already settled out of court with the widow for nearly $600,000.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


WOODRUFF: And the jury in that case has been deliberating. They have now gone back to the courtroom to announce their verdict. As soon as we're able to report it, we will bring it to you.

Question: Is someone who drives an SUV supporting a terrorist? A new ad campaign in the works says yes -- that story when we come back.



NARRATOR: This is the cartel that uses the smuggler that smuggled the pot to the dealer who sold the joint to Dan Bach (ph). And this is the family that was lined up by Dan's cartel and shot for getting in the way.,


WOODRUFF: You've probably seen that anti-drug ad on TV a lot lately. Well, a very similar ad campaign is expected to hit the airwaves soon. But instead of drugs, this one targets sport utilities vehicles.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, spoke with the driving force behind this new endeavor.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm here with Arianna Huffington and her new car.

Now, you and some friends here in Hollywood are starting the SUV ad campaign. Now, one of the ads is a parody of the ad our viewers just saw. Now, it will begin with the words, "This is George." And it's going show a man at a gas pump filling his SUV. Over footage of a terrorist training camp, a child says -- quote -- "This is the terrorist organization supported by the country where the oil company executive buys the oil that makes the gas that George buys for his SUV."

And the ad's tag line: "The biggest weapon of mass destruction is parked in your driveway." Pretty tough.

Arianna, are you trying to scare people out of their cars?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No, no, no, not scare them out of their cars.

We are trying to find out what friends pointed out to me when I gave up my SUV and bought a hybrid car, which is that the reality is, if we want to really move to oil independence, the easiest way is to increase our fuel-efficiency, and drive hybrid cars, and certainly give up our SUVs, which are major gas-guzzlers.

SCHNEIDER: OK. Well, a group of evangelical Christians will begin running ads later in the month called "What Would Jesus Drive?" Now, they're trying to get evangelicals to see buying an SUV as a moral or immoral choice. Now, is that what you're doing, and have you coordinated with them?

HUFFINGTON: No, I didn't even know they were doing that.

But there's definitely a grassroots feeling, because I just wrote an column and said, almost rhetorically, what about an ad campaign? And then we started getting money. We've got over $30,000 in small donations from people who agree that it's not patriotic. We are being told we're at war. We need to be patriotic. It's not patriotic to be driving gas-guzzling cars. But it's up to people to make that choice.

SCHNEIDER: You wrote a column last year where you urged Americans to sacrifice for the sake of the war on terrorism, just like they did during World War II. Now, is driving this car a sacrifice to you?

HUFFINGTON: Well, actually, I've loving it.

And it's about 50 miles to a gallon. My kids have grown to love it. My 11-year-old enjoys the panel that shows how electricity becomes gas as you are driving. It's very quite. And you can get used to it. And it's $20,000.

SCHNEIDER: But if Americans make sacrifices in their lifestyle, doesn't that mean the terrorists will have won?

HUFFINGTON: Absolutely not.

First of all, it means that automakers are going to start producing fuel-efficient cars that are much more beautiful than mine, that are bigger, that have all the luxuries that we've grown to love, but they are fuel-efficient. That's not beyond American inventiveness. If the people demand it, we are going to get better hybrid cars.

SCHNEIDER: And when will we start seeing these ads?

HUFFINGTON: As soon as we finish producing them, which we hope will be by next month.


WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider talking with Arianna Huffington.

That trial that we were telling you about just a moment ago, the distributor of a gun used by a young man to kill his teacher in South Florida two years ago, that trial under way, the jury has come back. They're now reading their verdict before the judge. As soon as we're able to report it, we'll share it with you.

Meantime, a California senator comments on suggestions that she should run for president -- next in our "Campaign News Daily."

Also: An election defeat opened up new opportunities for one member of the Senate. We'll tell you which senator is hearing wedding bells -- just ahead.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": A spokesman for California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein gave what Washington likes to call a nondenial when asked if his boss might run for president. A San Francisco columnist last weekend urged Feinstein to mount a run for the White House in 2004. In response, Feinstein's spokesman said -- quote -- "If Senator Feinstein decides to run, she'll make an announcement at the appropriate time" -- end quote.

Louisiana's Republican governor, Mike Foster, is still withholding his former endorsement in his state's Senate runoff election. Foster met with fellow Republican Suzanne Terrell this week for the first time in more than year. He said he also plans a meeting soon with Democrat Mary Landrieu.

There will be no fireworks celebration this election season for New York Congressman Felix Grucci. Earlier today, Grucci conceded defeat to Democratic newcomer Tim Bishop. Grucci made the announcement at his fireworks factory on Long Island. Because of his line of work, the congressman was a popular TV guest every year around the Fourth of July.

Well, among the many changes happening here on Capitol Hill in the wake of last week's election, one involves Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia, the newly elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Senator Allen now is in charge of electing more Republicans to the Senate.

And when I talked to him yesterday, I started by asking how his job is going to be different from his predecessors because of the new ban on soft money.


SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Yes, it will be different. In some ways, it will be the same.

No. 1, I think we need to focus on incumbents, to promote them, so they get reelected. And then also very important is to recruit good, top-quality people in the various states as candidates, as challengers. And then now, the big change, though, will be that you only can get direct individual contributions. And that's going to make it much harder to raise money.

So, what I'm going to do is analyze what has worked well in the past and also look at some innovative, creative ways in the future to get more grassroots support. And so, rather than getting $50,000 or $100,000 corporate contributions, we'll maybe have to get $50 and $100 contributions. But those are still investments in our cause and our ideas.

WOODRUFF: You mentioned recruits. Now, we know that President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove, very involved in recruiting Republican candidates for the '02 elections. Do you expect that they're going to remain involved for the '04 cycle that way?

ALLEN: I sure hope so. And I'm counting on the president and his team to be involved.

Obviously, they have their own election and their own campaign. But, at least initially, it would be great. And there are certain people who we've been talking about and certain states that we look at as opportunities, where, if the president, along with myself and others, can recruit some very well-known, well-respected individuals in states to run, it will make it much easier to win in 2004.

And, also, the attraction is, they'll be running along with President Bush for their election and his reelection.

WOODRUFF: Now, the Republicans are going to be defending 14 Senate seats in '04, the Democrats 19 seats. Have you already picked -- I mean, you just mentioned you've looked at the list. Which Democrats are there out there who you think are particularly vulnerable next time?

ALLEN: I think there are several. I would refrain right now from getting into that. We're analyzing various states, but I think...

WOODRUFF: You don't want to name names?

ALLEN: No, I don't want to name names yet. But believe me, I'm already looking at them, analyzing those states, looking at the vulnerabilities of those incumbents, as well as how well President Bush did in the last election in that state. And I think you can do some of that figuring yourself and deduce the same sort of results.

But, nevertheless, it's not just numbers. It's also the quality of the candidates who are running. And that's important: to recruit top-quality, experienced people who can motivate the voters to join their cause.


WOODRUFF: George Allen talking with me yesterday.

Well, right now, the entertainment world is abuzz with Jennifer Lopez, J.Lo's engagement to Hollywood hunk Ben Affleck. But news that a lame duck lawmaker is tying the knot is what's driving all the gossip here at INSIDE POLITICS.

Outgoing Georgia Senator Max Cleland announced last night that he plans to marry his longtime companion, Nancy Ross. His spokesman said the 60-year-old Democrat proposed the day after he lost his reelection bid to Saxby Chambliss. Congratulations to both.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez last night confirmed all the rumors about her plans to marry Hollywood's most sought-after leading man, we guess. She'll be making her third trip to the altar when she ties the knot with Mr. Affleck.

From nuptials to a feast for a beast, we're saving our sweets for dessert.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Two stories we want to update you on: In the trial in South Florida of a gun distributor, having to do with the gun used by a young man who shot and killed his teacher to death two years ago, Nathaniel Brazill, the jury has been deliberating. They've come back for a verdict. We're still waiting to find out what they say about the gun distributor's liability.

And second, it now appears, in Virginia, that the execution of Aimal Khan Kasi -- this is a Pakistani who killed two CIA employees in front of the CIA building in Northern Virginia 10 years ago -- it now appears that Kasi will be executed tonight in Virginia. The governor of the state of Virginia, Mark Warner, could have stayed the execution. He has now chosen not to grant clemency. This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay the execution as well.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: A look ahead to what's in the works for the Friday edition of INSIDE POLITICS: Our Bill Schneider will give us an inside look at the TV program "The Agency." The show is produced by former "Hardy Boys" actor Shaun Cassidy.


SHAUN CASSIDY, PRODUCER: Deal with current events as we people are, so the folks at home can relate to them.

SCHNEIDER: I'd like to see some of the other sets you have here. I understand you have a control room?

CASSIDY: We do, the command center, or the bridge on the Enterprise, as we like to call it.

SCHNEIDER: And that has to do with counterterrorism.

CASSIDY: Yes, Counterterrorism Center. And it's just this way.

SCHNEIDER: Good. Let's take a look.


WOODRUFF: Shaun Cassidy talking about "The Agency" -- no doubt which agency they're talking about.

And, finally, when we talk about donkeys and elephants in this town, we're referring to Democrats and Republicans, but not today. The elephants at the National Zoo here in Washington were treated to seasonal treats. The pachyderms had a feast, stomping, squashing and eating donated pumpkins, stems and all.

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


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