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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

President Approves New Department of Homeland Security

Aired November 25, 2002 - 16:00   ET

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

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're taking historic action to defend the United States and protect our citizens against the dangers of a new era.

ANNOUNCER: It's signed and sealed. But will the new Homeland Security Department deliver? Many Americans have their doubts.

Is Tom Ridge the best man for the new cabinet post? He'll give us an update on his battle plan in the war on terror.

On Capitol Hill, a historic treasure is safe from the trash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time we got to Thomas Jefferson -- I mean, that's a signature everybody knows. And that's the point we realized we have to tell somebody about this.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush's twin daughters turn 21. Are they now fair game for the media?

CROWLEY: Thanks for joining us. Judy has the day off.

President Bush says the hard work of building a new Homeland Security Department begins today. But many Americans are skeptical that the largest government reorganization in half a century will make them any safer.

In our new poll released this hour, just 13 percent say the department will make the country a lot safer. Forty-seven percent say we'll be a little safer. Thirty-nine percent say we will not be any safer.

Mr. Bush offered a more optimistic picture when he signed the Homeland Security Act into law this afternoon. The new federal department will have 170,000 employees and a budget of about $40 billion.

It will combine all or part of 22 federal agencies. But the FBI and CIA will not become part of the new department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Homeland Security will focus the full resources of the American government on the safety of the American people. America will be better able to respond to any future attacks. To reduce our vulnerability and most important, prevent the terrorists from taking innocent American lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Our senior White House correspondent John King is here, or at any rate, you're at the White House, John.

Listen, tell me, can this possibly be done in a year? This seems like a big bite to chew off.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well the president insists so. Governor Ridge, soon to be Secretary Ridge insists so. But there are a number of people raising concerns.

Some are it is just the nuts and bolts, if you will. They have to get everyone on the same phone system, everyone on the same e-mail system, everyone learning how to communicate with one another as they move them under one roof. All that time being those agencies still in charge of homeland security. So there are some who worry that perhaps things get more confusing in the short term, even if you support the department in the long term.

One of the biggest lingering questions from the debate in Congress is, What about the intelligence functions of this new department? The new Department of Homeland Security, Candy, has to make the assessment of the terrorist threat. It assesses the terrorist threat in this country but it does not gather its own intelligence. It will get that information from existing agencies, principally, the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency. Many question whether that will work.

Go back to the whole debate about the so-called connecting the dots prior to September 11. If those agencies do not cooperate with the new department, can it function? That's one of the reasons the president picked Governor Ridge. He is believed to have good relations with all those departments, but that is one of the debates. As this agency gets up and running, will the government finally learn to properly share information with itself -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Clearly, President Bush thinks that Tom Ridge is up to this job. Was there any doubt at all in the administration? Was anybody surprised by this pick?

KING: The only question was, would Governor Ridge accept the job? You know the president, you knew him from his days as governor. Two words: trust and discipline. They trust Governor Ridge -- Secretary Ridge, soon to be, here at the White House. His office is just a few feet down the hall from the Oval Office.

A little bit more about him. He is 57-years-old. He is a product of Erie, Pennsylvania, a Republican from a very Democratic town. He was in the Army for two years, in Vietnam -- volunteered to serve in Vietnam. Was in the Congress from 1982 to 1994. That is viewed as critical -- still has some good relationships on Capitol Hill and, of course, he was governor. Mr. Bush used to be governor, from January 1995 until he resigned to take the Homeland Security job in October 2001. The president trusts him implicitly. He has very good relations with the Vice President Dick Cheney, others across the government, especially in Capitol Hill as well. The president for a long time has said this is Governor Ridge's job if he wants it. Now we know he does.

CROWLEY: Thanks, John King at the White House. Appreciate it.

Now let's hear from the president's choice to be the nation's first secretary of Homeland Security. Our Jeanne Meserve interviewed Tom Ridge within the last hour -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Candy, Tom Ridge says that he's not naive, that he knows it's a difficult task to get this new Department of Homeland Security up and running effectively, but he says unequivocally he can do the job, including ending the turf battles that have hampered homeland security efforts thus far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We work at it. I mean, it will only take work. It's a little bit different to go from being a position where you coordinate activity to a position where you have direct accountability and responsibility for activity.

So I think in conversations with the men and women who head the agencies that are going to be merged in this one new department, I think there's a clear way ahead for us to -- understanding -- we're going have differences, but to minimize the turf battles -- understand there's only one piece of ground we have to be worried on. And that's not where your bureaucracy or office sits. That's called the United States of America. That's the only turf we ought to be worried about protecting.

MESERVE: Are you going to have to knock some heads together?

RIDGE: Could be. It could be.

MESERVE: Are you up for that?

RIDGE: I'm up for doing whatever it takes to get the job done. The president said, Job one, maximize our effort as a country to protect or citizens and our way of life, and obviously, there's ways can you get that done.

I think you have to use many different ways to get it done.

MESERVE: And what are some of the others you'll use, besides head knocking?

RIDGE: Well, persuasion. I think you build on a lot of the people that are out there but clearly, time is of the essence. We have to be agile. We have to be nimble. We have to be -- organize as quickly as we possibly can. And at the end of the day, the first mission and the first priority is security. And if you can't get it done in the manner, shape or form it needs to be done, by persuasion, then there's other -- you call it head knocking. Whatever it is, this is critical to the defense of this country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: This department is going to be set up on an accelerated schedule. The president had 60 days in which to send up a reorganization plan to Congress. It is going there today. Ridge says he'll take office on January 24 and expects by March 1 most of the 22 agencies you've heard so much about will be folded into his department -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Jeanne, we all have our ideas of what we think will be really hard about this job. What does Tom Ridge think is going to be really hard?

MESERVE: The personnel aspect of it. He admits that it will be difficult to take these 170,000 employees who are concerned about who they're working for and what they'll be doing and what will their salary be and what will happen to their seniority and their vacation time. That it will be difficult to transmit to them the idea that homeland security and job security are indeed compatible. That's issue No. 1, as far as he's concerned -- Candy.

CROWLEY: And how is he going to get a sense -- is he going to get a lot of advice from these various agencies? Like, here's how we put it together? Or does the White House have a plan saying, Here's how we're going to do it?

MESERVE: Well, there's been a transition planning office that's been up and running since this legislation was first created -- first proposed, rather. They have taken representatives of each of the agencies involved in this reorganization, put them together and they've tried to work out some of the nuts and bolts issues that you heard John King talking about earlier. Try and figure how these moving parts are indeed going to interlock. So there is something of a plan in the works. We expect to hear more in the days to come -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.

Jeanne will be back next hour with more of her interview with Tom Ridge. That's on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now, we turn to what could be America's next battleground, Iraq. With U.N. weapons inspectors on the ground in Baghdad, the pressure is growing for Saddam Hussein to comply or face the consequences.

Our Bill Schneider is here with more from our new poll.

Bill, you know, does anything in those numbers tell us whether Americans are prepared to go to war with Iraq?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, but they want to take things one step at a time. Public support for invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops is holding up at nearly 60 percent. And that's remarkable itself.

In the past, the American public has rarely given advance support for sending troops into action anywhere. The Bush administration post-Labor Day political offensive on Iraq has paid off.

In August, 55 percent of Americans believed Iraq currently has weapons of mass destruction. Now, that number is up to two-thirds, and almost all of them believe Saddam Hussein would use those weapons to attack the United States. The administration has succeeded in convincing Americans that Saddam Hussein poses a clear and present danger to the U.S.

CROWLEY: So, ready, set, go? We're gung ho to go ahead and prosecute this war?

SCHNEIDER: I'd say prepared, but not quite gung ho. There's a debate in the administration over what to do if Iraq does not comply with the U.N. resolution on inspections. Begin military immediately? Or go back to the U.N. for another resolution authorizing military action?

Now, the public's's view is clear on this. By nearly two to one, Americans say go back to the U.N. first. U.N. Authorization is essential for creating legitimacy, not just in the world, Candy, but even within the U.S.

CROWLEY: Well, does the public think that President Bush shares that view? It seems to me that there might be some distance there?

SCHNEIDER: Actually, you're right. They don't. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe President Bush has already decided to invade Iraq and has agreed to U.N. inspections mainly to gain international support. Just 38 percent believe the president has not decided on war, and is waiting to see what the inspectors find.

The public is not quite on the same page as President Bush. Americans are prepared for war, but they hold out the hope it can be avoided, if Iraq disarms. They see President Bush as more gung ho than they are.

CROWLEY: Senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Thanks, Bill.

Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily," a tough weekend debate points toward a bitter finish in the December 7 Louisiana Senate runoff. After Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Suzanne Terrell finished taping their 30 minute debate, Landrieu told Terrell off camera -- quote -- "This is your last campaign" -- end quote. A reportedly stunned Terrell turned to onlookers and said -- quote -- she threatened me.

President Bush is scheduled to travel to Louisiana to campaign for Terrell on Tuesday, December 3.

And CNN has learned Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle will meet next week with longtime supporters, who could help raise money for a potential White House run. Daschle's Senate term expires in 2004, and many sources say they believe the senator will either retire or run for president. Because of the early primaries already on the calendar, Democratic candidates need to raise huge amounts of money early on.

And it looks like Dick Armey is not the only soon to be former conservative Congressman signing on with the ACLU. Georgia's Bob Barr is going to work for the group on privacy and national security issues. As we reported last week, Dick Armey is also making plans to work with a group on privacy issues.

Much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Ronald Reagan's legacy is remembered in a new documentary. We've invited an old friend to gives us a preview.

Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF GREENFIELD, HOST, "GREENFIELD AT LARGE": I'm Jeff Greenfield in New York. The theme song for this younger generation might be, don't know much about geography. So what else is new?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And the Bush daughters come of age. Will that put their night life back in the spotlight?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: With us now, Maria Echaveste, former Clinton White House Deputy Chief of staff and Betsy Hart, Scripps Howard News Service. OK, Homeland Security that's we're talking about today. So I wanted to show you some numbers we got in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup poll. The new Department of Homeland Security will be, fill in the blank; very effective, 11 percent, somewhat effective, 54 percent, not effective, 31 percent. Basically, 55 percent of Americans think it will be a help.

MARIA ECHAVESTE, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: A little help.

CROWLEY: Well, a to little to vary, some to vary, you know, think it will improve things.

So does this set up a sort of a political

ECHAVESTE: I think, what it does is, I mean -- number one, proof that President Bush used a master stroke in making Homeland Security, putting it forward, then not compromising, even though Democrats were willing to meet him half way. Make it an issue, get the majority in both houses and then get a department which is...

CROWLEY: Going to cave.

ECHAVESTE: Well, and they caved. Democrats were like whipped dogs. It's like what could they do now?

(CROSSTALK)

ECHAVESTE: You know, you got to call credit -- give credit.

(CROSSTALK)

BESTY HART, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: They saw the election results and in many races, for instance in Georgia, this helped decide the rate race for the Republicans. I actually don't that's good idea. I don't think you fakes bureaucracy making a bigger and more expansive one, but Bush was able to sell this, the American people bought it. We'll just have to see it play out over the next few years.

I also have big concerns about Tom Ridge. I don't think he is the right person for the job. Rudy Giuliani, maybe, that would...

(CROSSTALK)

ECHAVESTE: I agree with both you. I think Homeland Security Department is a huge mistake, and the fact that a Republican president who, you know, the mantra is smaller government, proposed this huge bureaucracy really does -- is about politics, that's all it was about. And I think the headlines I just saw, more security, or a police state is what we're going to be worried about 10, 15 years from now.

(CROSSTALK)

HART: I don't think it's going to be effective. I think it's going to make things more dicey for -- you know, law abiding citizens. I just don't think its going do. You heard about that database?

(CROSSTALK)

HART: I just don't think it's going to do a lot to stop terrorism. I don't think it's going to be effective.

CROWLEY: If you all don't stop agreeing, we are going to have to invite -- somebody has to go here. This is unusual. Here we go.

The Republican agenda, I want to point out something that Trent Lott said recently. "The only places where these ideas are considered bad on the two coasts." We're talking about late term abortion. We are talking about faith based initiative. We are talking about more money for abstinence. "The only place where these idea are considered on the two coast. Where the meat is in the sandwich, the rest of America these are pretty main stream ideas."

ECHAVESTE: I think this thing that this is a strategy of abortion, make no mistakes, is the calculated effort to redefine when a fetus is a person and, therefore, protect it under the constitution so that ultimately Roe versus Wade gets overturned. Betsy, don't believe me...

HART: I wish that were the strategy. The reality, Democrats are suggesting we'll have a Taliban-style rule now. In fact, these ideas are very popular. Ending late-term abortions meaning making it illegal to kill a child moments before its born. This is not exactly scandalous, nor is another provision, which would be, to prevent young girls, under waged girls from being take out of state against their parents' wishes to get an abortion. I am sorry, we just don't have to get fitted for a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) any time soon. This is just not outrageous.

ECHAVESTE: On that last one, it's easier to talk about young girls taken across a state against their parents' wishes. What happens if a young girl been rape by her father?

HART: And she needs her parents.

(CROSSTALK)

ECHAVESTE: ... that's always been a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

HART: Like to be the problem, the reality is it's extraordinarily rare. What's really happening, we have abortion on demand, even in extremely late stages of pregnancy. And that is something most Americans oppose and the Republicans, again, won on that Tuesday, that is one of the provisions they'll see through.

ECHAVESTE: This is actually. If the Republicans look at November 5 election roles as some kind of mandate for a massive social agenda, that is not what happened on November 5. This country is still evenly divided, and if Republicans want to pick social issues like abortion, and really attack a woman's right to choose, then I think you're giving Democrats and women a real galvanizing to come out and vote in 2004.

CROWLEY: You get the first word when you come back next time.

Betsy and Maria, thank you so much.

Remembering Ronald Reagan. Next, we'll speak with the host of a new documentary that takes an in-depth look at the former president.

But first a look at your money. It's been minutes since the closing bell rang on Wall Street.

Rhonda Schaffler is there and joins us live.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Candy.

Another solid gain for stocks, setting a rally that began back on October 10. The Dow Jones Industrial gaining about 44 points. The Dow is now riding a streak of seven straight winning weeks and the Nasdaq rose to its highest level in five months. Because of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, this is a short week of trading. Lots of economic reports over the next couple of days.

One area of the economy keeps defying the skeptics. Home sales. In October, sales of previously owned homed surged more than 6 percent held by record-low mortgage rates. And brisk sales are pushing up prices, the median home price in October increased to almost $160,000. That's up nearly 10 percent from a year ago.

As home sales increase, so does the number of home improvements complaints. Shoddy home improvement contracting topped the 11th annual consumer complaint list, and it is the fastest growing complaint category. But the survey found consumer protection agencies resolve 70 percent of the problems.

That is the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including some "Inside Buzz" with Bob Novak on that Louisiana Senate race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL REAGAN, FMR. PRES. REAGAN'S SON: When he couldn't speak my name. When I would -- when he would see me, when he couldn't say my name, his arms would open up. And I became the face that hugged him hello and hugged him goodbye and said, I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Former President Ronald Reagan has been out of public view for almost a decade battling the effects of Alzheimer's.

Later tonight, the History Channel premieres a new documentary on President Reagan, including in-depth interviews with the family, friends and aides who know him best.

Among those featured, longtime Reagan adviser Michael Deaver, who recalls the day Reagan was shot in the spring of '81.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DEAVER, FORMER REAGAN AIDE: I will never forget Reagan -- when we arrived at George Washington Hospital, having not been able to talk to the car -- the limo he has in to find out if he had been hit, the door opens and he gets and cinches his pants up, you know, like this -- like he's coming out of an old cowboy movie and then buttons his -- and then walks in like this to the hospital, and I'm walking behind him thinking -- and then he hit the door frame.

The minute he hit the door, he went down -- but, you know, talk about old movies -- to him that door was the curtain. Once he got past the curtain, he was no longer on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: With me now is the host of tonight's special, former CNN correspondent and Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno.

Thanks. Thanks for coming.

FRANK SESNO, FORMER CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Candy. Great to see you.

CROWLEY: You know, even now -- he gets choked up. How emotional was this for those -- because you talked really to the people who love him the most.

SESNO: Very emotional. The assassination attempt was very emotional. Mrs. Reagan was very emotional in the middle of relaying the great drama and personal inside of what took place. She sort of stopped herself and said, Even now, she talks about that famous Honey, I forgot to duck line.

Well, the rest of the world looks at that as humor. She didn't see anything very humorous about the whole situation. She said, I love you, and that's about all she could say.

CROWLEY: You know, one of things that interests me was both Patty Davis' feeling and Mrs. Reagan's feeling about Ronald Reagan sort of forgiving John Hinckley. Let me -- I just want to play that for viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATTY DAVIS, RONALD REAGAN'S DAUGHTER: I remember him saying that his ability to heal depended on his ability to forgive John Hinckley, because, clearly, he was a misguided young man is what he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you react to that?

NANCY REAGAN, FMR. FIRST LADY: Well, I had a hard time. I had a hard time with that.

DAVIS: I can't honestly say that I reached that level of forgiveness. I could say I'm working on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: You know, it strikes me that that plays in to -- I mean, you covered Reagan for all those years. This was an unburdened man. I mean, seems to me he -- that that comes across in this.

SESNO: And one of the interesting things, Candy, that comes across in the conversations in those who were close to him is his faith. And in the forgiveness in and many of the other things that he did, the faith plays through.

He said repeatedly and to a number of people we spoke to, his minister, for example, that after that assassination attempt he believed he'd been saved for a reason. While he was in the hospital, he wrote a long letter to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The experts in the State Department and elsewhere stopped that letter. They wanted to rewrite it and all of that.

And afterwards, Devear said -- and he tells us about this, Mr. President, you're the president. And Reagan says, you're right, mike, and I'm going to rely on my own instincts more. So that assassination attempt -- the forgiveness, the faith and all of that -- it fits together and provides some insight into Reagan and how he proceeded.

CROWLEY: And was it tough? I mean, you know, this is the man who's in the final stages of Alzheimer's, doesn't know anyone around him, or not able to say their name, to not write a very sweet, historical look at him.

SESNO: Well, we did not try to conduct an audit of the Reagan presidency. What we wanted to do is we wanted to talk to people who were there in the middle of history. Now, when you're in the middle of history, and there's a picture of him toward the latter years. As you say, you can see clearly he's slower and afflicted there.

But when you talk to people who are in the middle of history, former President Bush, former Soviet leader Gorbachev, the former prime minister Mulrooney as well as the family, you get the good and the bad. Mostly the good, but when you talk about Ronald Reagan the delegator, he got into trouble when he delegated. Iran/Contra. We talk about that. Mrs. Reagan talks about that and how she had to play the protector.

CROWLEY: Last question. You know him so well. You talked to these people. What surprised -- what one thing did somebody say to you, went, Oh my gosh, I didn't know that.

SESNO: Well, I think, actually, a few things. One of them, principle among them, was the amount of writing that he did. How prolific he was.

You know, a lot of people in the media said, Oh, he's just an actor. You know? He's just reading the note cards that people hand him and following the script. The fact of the matter is, for 30 years this guy was speaking out on issues.

I have some letters here that were released to us by the family that are not yet public in their original form. Here's one he wrote in the '70s, five pages, handwritten on arms control.

So, in office he wrote to Soviet leaders. He wrote thousands of letters while he was in the White House. He wrote his inaugural speech and others. So if the Reagan presidency was a scripted presidency, you know what, Candy? He wrote a lot more of it than people think.

CROWLEY: And did you -- I know you talked to foreign leaders in that. How did you find their general feeling about him?

SESNO: Most interesting by far -- Well, everybody was interesting. Mulrooney was amazing. Great insight. But Gorbachev was phenomenal, because he said there was a rapport with the two of them instantly, but he said when he first met them and went back to report back to his own advisers, he said, the man's a dinosaur and an idealogue. But they bridged that and they ended up doing business. And in the end, Gorbachev says -- he says I don't know that the Cold War and the Wall and all of that -- that all of that would have happened if it hadn't been for Reagan. Now Gorbachev says a lot was happening inside the Soviet Union. He's not going to give Ronald Reagan all the credit for the end of the Cold War.

But that rapport between the two of them -- and he lectured him. Reagan lectured Gorbachev and Gorbachev snapped back -- snaps back and tell us and says, Look, I'm not a student and you're not a teacher. So it wasn't all sweetness and light. That insight was amazing.

CROWLEY: Frank Sesno, you and I could go on forever, so we'll do that at dinner sometime.

SESNO: Why not? I'll buy.

CROWLEY: But tonight, everybody else can watch the History Channel at...

SESNO: At 9:00 Eastern. 9:00 Pacific.

CROWLEY: Thanks very much, Frank.

SESNO: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Bob Novak has "Inside Buzz" on the president and the politics of abortion coming up next.

Plus, he's in jail for bribery and racketeering. Now, is ousted Congressman James Traficant trying to pull off a new scam?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We opened one of the more current ones first. And then we started looking around and then we found the earliest one. We knew we had found something very special.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: A historical find deep beneath Capitol Hill. We'll unearth the details later.

(NEWS BREAK)

CROWLEY: Bob Novak is here with some "Buzz."

Bob, there's only one Senate race left to watch. And you've been watching it.

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the Louisiana runoff on December 7. And the Republicans are a little less optimistic, the Democrats less pessimistic, because Former Congressman Cleo Fields, who is an African-American, has endorsed Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. They are bitter feudists from a long time back. She didn't support him for governor.

But the question is, how firm, how enthusiastic is the endorsement? Because there's still a lot of African-American Democrats in Louisiana who oppose her. She much get a good black turnout or she is going to lose to the Republican, Suzie Terrell.

CROWLEY: So the question is whether or not he'll go out and knock on doors on Election Day.

Late-term abortion, President Bush, how wedded is he to trying to get a ban through Congress?

NOVAK: The question is, will it be in the State of the Union address that the president comes for a repeal of the so-called partial-birth abortion?

My sources tell me that he will put it in. He's always said he'll sign it. But to get it passed through the Congress, it probably needs his help. And if he puts it in the State of the Union, that's a signal.

CROWLEY: Now, right after the elections, when Republicans took control, remember I answering a question about Lincoln Chafee. We ought to go find Lincoln Chafee. What's Lincoln Chafee going to do? Always thought, gee, maybe he would go be a Democrat.

NOVAK: A lot of insiders on the Republican side thought he definitely would cross over to the Democratic side, as Jim Jeffords did, as a so-called independent, no matter how the election turned out.

But they have changed their mind. It looks like he's going to stay a Republican, mainly because he was so well-treated in this flap over the Homeland Security Bill, where his objections were given consideration.

CROWLEY: Now, speaking of Mr. Jeffords, he has to give up a committee chairmanship that he got for switching sides. So he's trying to work a deal?

NOVAK: He had a secret, unannounced meeting with his successor as the chairman of the Environmental Committee. He was as an independent, but really a Democrat as chairman.

The new chairman is Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma. Well, word got around Capitol Hill Jeffords was going to do a double switch; he was going to make a deal, keep his chairmanship. Not a chance. It was strictly a courtesy call to say he wanted to be helpful. Mr. Jeffords has made his bed on the Democratic side of the aisle and he is going to stay there.

CROWLEY: Yes, but it would have been a heck of a deal.

NOVAK: It would have.

(LAUGHTER) CROWLEY: Bob Novak, thanks very much.

NOVAK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: A first today for the Federal Election Commission. It agreed to allow candidates for federal office to use some of their political contributions to pay themselves salaries. They could earn as much as they made in their previous job or the salary of the office they're seeking, whichever is less.

Supporters of the plan say it may encourage average Americans who couldn't otherwise afford to give up their jobs to run for office. The lone commissioner who voted against the idea says he fears it's unconstitutional, because some candidates would make more than others.

The dramatic results of the midterm elections are bringing some new leaders to Capitol Hill. We recently spoke Frank Ballance, president of the House Democratic freshman class.

Now we hear from Max Burns, president of the House GOP freshman class. With the GOP in control of both houses of Congress, as well as the White House, we asked the Georgia Republican about the unique opportunity his party now has.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX BURNS (R), GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: Well, you know, certainly, it's a great opportunity. And I think we have to work very hard to make sure that we proceed in a positive direction, perhaps not too aggressively, but make sure we're doing the right thing for the country.

We're going to support the president. We're going to support his vision for America. We're looking forward to working with him. We're also looking forward to working with the Democrats on the other side the aisle in a bipartisan manner. I think that one of the things that we need to do is put the partisan politics behind us and work together for the good of the American people.

But you're right. This is a great opportunity to deal with some issues that now, quite honestly, we have the opportunity of a lifetime. And we need to choose to use it effectively and seize the opportunity.

I think education is the backbone of America. And, certainly, that's going to be one of my top priorities, improving education. I support the president on no child left behind. I think we have got to move forward with that program.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Education is extremely important to Burns. He is a college professor at Georgia Southern University.

Yet another investigation has been launched into ousted Congressman James Traficant, even as he serves time behind bars for corruption. Traficant reportedly plans to put some items on the auction block in Ohio this weekend, including pieces of furniture from his congressional office. "Roll Call" reports Congress is investigating how Traficant got hold of the custom-made walnut and marble desk, with matching credenza and six leather chairs. The are no records indicating that Traficant bought the furniture before he was expelled from Congress.

A big birthday for the president's daughters -- up next. Will the media spotlight shine brighter now that the twins have turned 21?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: When President and Mrs. Bush head to their Texas ranch later this week, they plan to celebrate more than Thanksgiving. Their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were born on this date 21 years ago. The family plans a birthday celebration over the holiday weekend.

The daughters have made some unexpected, you might say unfortunate media appearances since Mr. Bush took office.

With me now to talk about today's birthday and media coverage of the twins is Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

So, they're 21. They're of age. Do we all go cover them now?

HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, I'll go out on a limb and say there's not going to be any more stories about underage drinking now, Candy.

CROWLEY: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

KURTZ: And probably fewer of those "New York Post"-type headlines, "Jenna and Tonic. "

But there weren't meetings in newsrooms all across the country today about, "Now we can take off the gloves and go after the president's daughters." Just because they've reached the legal age of 21 I think doesn't mean that the media are going to suddenly be all over them, unless -- unless they do things in a public way that sort of thrusts themselves into the news.

CROWLEY: Now, when Chelsea Clinton left the White House -- she obviously was older. And there has been a little bit of coverage of her in "People" magazine. She's in fact talked to some people. But is that something that reserved for when the father is out of office? Do you think that's pretty much an unwritten rule now?

KURTZ: Well, either that or maybe when the kids grow up and leave college. These are still two college students. And I think that, both under President Clinton and President Bush, the press had, in my view, a good policy, which is that the kids didn't sign on to be public figures. They ought to be given a little bit of space to grow up. And, obviously, there's some White House pressure. Reporters are made to feel very uncomfortable -- and I don't think the public likes it either -- when we are seen as harassing young women who are trying to grow up and live normal lives. But when Jenna and Barbara Bush did something like get themselves arrested for underage drinking, we didn't really have much choice. That hit all the headlines. It was talked about on all the talk shows.

So it's really up to them if they want to live discretely or they want to go to a lot of parties and show up with their boyfriends in public places. In that case, I think some of the gossip columnists and maybe even some of us in the mainstream media probably are going to talk about them.

CROWLEY: And discretely may be not be how Jenna in particular looks at herself.

But where is the line? How is that decision made? You say, well, no one realizes that we don't all get together on a conference call and say, "OK, go." But what's over the line now for covering these girls? And what's in the line, I guess?

KURTZ: Well, over the line would be reporters going through their garbage or tailing them or trying to sort of stir up trouble.

People forget that, the first time that Jenna Bush got in trouble with alcohol, it was a tiny little story. It was the second time, when the police got involved, that we felt that we didn't have any choice.

So I think it really is going to be up to them. Chelsea now is very public. She goes places with her boyfriend. She shows up at fashion shows. She's wearing new outfits. Obviously, she's not afraid to be covered anymore. But I think that, if Jenna and Barbara Bush want to be anonymous college students, they can largely do that, because I think there will be a lot of criticism of the press if we are seen as hounding these two young women.

On the other hand, they're now 21. And if they do things publicly -- and that's the line. If you go out, if you give a speech, if you show up drunk somewhere, you can expect coverage.

CROWLEY: Do you think that the Clintons pretty much wrote the rules about how -- it seems to me -- now maybe it's just that this is the one I noticed. They were very protective of Chelsea and kind of set the standard and made it easier for the Bushes.

KURTZ: I think that's exactly right.

You can argue that no part of Bill Clinton's personal life went uncovered, as we all remember in vivid detail, except for, largely, his daughter, though there was a time when "People" magazine put her on the cover while Clinton was in the White House. And they issued a statement denouncing "People" magazine.

I think the Bushes have tried to follow that example by setting a zone of privacy around their daughters. I'm sympathetic to that. And I think that people ought to be as hard as they want on the president, but ought to leave the family alone, unless they get into trouble in public, in which case, in today's media world, that's the way it goes.

CROWLEY: It's all over, yes.

CNN's Howie Kurtz, thanks very much.

KURTZ: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Is there a generation gap when it comes to geography? Up next, our Jeff Greenfield compares the greatest generation that fought and won World War II to today's kids, who are, excuse me, clueless about many countries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: You may have heard the headline and then grimaced. A recent survey suggested that young people in this country know more about where last season's "Survivor" series took place than about nations where the U.S. has gone to war.

Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, says the results may not be quite as bad as they seem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): If the next generation of Americans is going to hell in a handbasket, as older generations always believe, they may not be able to find their way.

If a new National Geographic-Roper study is right, young Americans, those 18 to 24, are clueless about where in the world just about anything is.

Iraq, a country we may soon be at war with, only 13 percent could find it. There it is. Afghanistan, where we've been fighting for more than a year, 17 percent know it's here. And closer to home, the news wasn't much better. Barely half could find New York state, that big land mass there. Only 30 percent could find New Jersey. Maybe "The Sopranos" isn't all that popular with the young.

So it's time for more headlines about these kids today and the collapse of our schools and the general state of youthful ignorance. But wait a minute. This headline isn't from 2002. It's from "The New York Times" of 1943. This story, about college freshmen from a time when college was a much more elitist institution, reported that students thought St. Louis was in the Pacific Ocean and couldn't identify such famous Americans as Lincoln, Jefferson, or Teddy Roosevelt.

And you could find the same dispiriting news about young Americans back in the '50s. After Russia launched Sputnik, the first orbiting satellite, bookshelves and newsstands were filled with accounts of how dumb we were, frittered away our time at sock hops, while young Ivan was learning rocket science, literally. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration published a warning called a Nation at Risk, deploring the learning, or lack of it, among our young.

(on camera): So what happened to all those ignorant younger generations, the one from 1943? We call them the greatest generation now. The ones in the 1950s invented microchips, while Ivan watched the Soviet Union collapse. The kids of the '80s became the Internet pioneers of today.

Look, the fact is, Americans have always been ignorant about the world. We are a continental nation separated by two oceans from the rest of the world, unlike, say, Europeans, who spent 500 years fighting and killing each other.

Should we know more about the past and about the present? Of course. But the fact is, when it is time for Europe to call on ignorant America to pull its chestnut out of the fire, in two World Wars, in the Marshall Plan, with NATO, we seem to be able to find those other places pretty well.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: And now, from Tennessee: Vegetarians have a beef with Governor Don Sundquist. A Republican, Sundquist has rejected requests to proclaim a vegetarian month. He says such proclamations should promote a positive message, not a political argument. But vegetarians are accusing Sundquist of discrimination. They say, if the governor can sign a proclamation honoring baton-twirling, why can't non-meat eaters have their day?

A landmark discovery in the Capitol basement up next, a look at the priceless document that came oh so close to being thrown away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We want to check in very quickly and show you pictures of a developing story this hour high above the Earth. As you can see, the space shuttle Endeavour is docking with the International Space Station. Seven crew members are on board the Endeavour. Three of them will move into the station and replace the two Russians and U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, who has been living in the station for almost six months.

Now, in the works for tomorrow: What happens to those turkeys pardoned each Thanksgiving by the president? Our Bruce Morton is going to go hunting for the truth.

INSIDE POLITICS returns in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)

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