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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Abortions Politics Heat Up On 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Aired January 22, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Abortion protests and abortion politics. Thirty years after Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We pro-life Americans have got a friend living in that house. A friend who agrees with us. God bless George Bush!

ANNOUNCER: The Democratic president's candidates stand together with abortion rights groups, and against President Bush.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are wrong. They are wrong. They are wrong. And we must stop them, and we will stop them.

ANNOUNCER: Evidence of a political big foot? we'll follow clues from the White house to Capitol Hill.

A whole new ball game? A one-time all-star on the diamond may try slide into the political field.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us. Even as President Bush turns up the heat on Saddam Hussein, he is treading carefully on two domestic issues that many Americans care deeply about. In this "Newscycle," Mr. Bush took his tax cut pitch to the heartland, at a time when American doubt about his handling of the economy are growing. More on that ahead.

Mr. Bush did not attend the big anti-abortion rally here in Washington. It marked the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Following a precedent set by his father and Ronald Reagan, he spoke to the demonstrators by phone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Respect for the right to life cause is to defend the sick and the dying. Persons with disabilities and birth defects, and all who are weak and vulnerable. And this self-evident truth calls us to value and to protect the lives of innocent children waiting to be born.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: For more on today's demonstrations here in Washington, let's bring in CNN's Bob Franken.

Bob, tell us what's going on outside right now outside the Supreme Court?

BOB FRANKEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's the kind of scene we witnessed over the last 30 years, Judy. A huge crowd of demonstrators. Most of from the anti-abortion forces, who of course, been rallying here today, expressing bitter opposition to the Roe v. Wade decision, which came down from this court 30 years ago. They marched from the Washington Mall area up to the Supreme Court where you can tell they're rallying now, expressing opposition, as I said to a decision which legalized the woman's right to choose abortion.

Since 1972 -- '73 rather, when that decision came, the Supreme Court has whittled away at it. It has in fact given the states more power to regulate abortions. Those who oppose abortion say there must be an absolute reversal of Roe v. Wade and are expressing opinions in a variety of ways. They are countered by people calling themselves a pro-choice movement, saying a woman has a right to choose whether she can terminate a pregnancy. They're planning various rallies. There will be a candlelight vigil this evening.

Thus far everything has been almost calm. Very few confrontations, in fact, we've witnessed none. This is an issue that at its core is an issue about the definition of life. But it has become much more complicated over the years. First of all, medical technology has really provided new definitions to the viability question. There are also (UNINTELLIGIBLE) issues, stem cell research, fetal research, that type of thing which complicated this debate, and just about assured it is not an issue that will be solved any time soon.

There is no case before the Court now that would question the fundamental decision which is to allow a woman the right to terminate a pregnancy, which, of course, was that Roe v. Wade decision, which is going to be the subject of political debate for many years, as it has been, Judy, for of the last 30 years.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken, with a large crowd of demonstrators at the Supreme Court. Thanks, Bob.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, some Democrats blasted President Bush's stand on abortion, and portraying him as a threat to a woman's right to choose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: He stepped out and said I'm going to govern from the center. Well, we are watching, and so far, we haven't seen that, and it's very, very disturbing to us. Why is it disturbing to us? Because before Roe was decided, women were dying. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of women were dying, thousands were dying, because of back alley abortions, and many of us remember that very leer clearly. We cannot go back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Senator Barbara Boxer met with medical students who say they are not getting adequate training to perform abortions. The students also took their complaints to doctor turned Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Abortion rights activists are taking their campaign to the airwaves as well. NARAL Pro-Choice America launched a new ad last weekend in Washington, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP "NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA AD")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who decides? I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life's most important decision belongs to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A woman right to choose is a fundamental freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a basic right

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's seriously threatened right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: NARAL say the ads will eventually run in 15 states as part of a multimillion dollar campaign on TV in print and on the Internet. And anti-abortion group is launching its own campaign targeting what it calls the deadly dozen 12 senators who say they are faithful Catholics and yet openly support legalized abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY BROWN, PRES. AMERICAN LIFE LEAGUE: Being a Catholic is taking seriously the teachings of the church. And if one is not willing to take seriously the teachings of the church and abide by them, then all we're asking is, please leave the church and stop calls yourself Catholic.

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I don't know what this group is, but obviously I do not support it. I take my religion very seriously. And my faith very deeply. And I also take my oath of office very seriously as well. And I am a pro-choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Senator Kennedy speaking yesterday of the dozen senators targeted, John Kerry is the only one who has declared his intention to run for president. Kerry says, as a Catholic, he has enormous respect for the Vatican's teaching, but as a public servant, he says he represents all of the people of Massachusetts. Kerry, and the other Democrats running for the White House were brought together for the first time by the abortion issue.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports on last night's event and the power of abortion politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roe v. Wade. For 30 years it has been a call to arms. Each year bringing thousands to the streets in protest. This year bringing six Democratic presidential rivals together.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The freedom to choose has never been in more peril than it is today.

CROWLEY: With a Republican House, a Republican Senate, a Republican president, and another election cycle under way there is renewed political potency in the abortion rights movement.

KATE MICHELMAN, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: When President Bush sends a Supreme Court nominee to the Senate for confirmation, I fully expect pro-choice senators to filibuster any nominee that does not affirm that the constitution protects a woman's right to choose!

CROWLEY: Abortion, it said, is one of the most divisive issues of our time. Numbers suggest other wise. Sixty-six percent of those polled this month by CNN/"USA TODAY"/Gallup said abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. A figure which may explain why President Bush rarely talks about banning abortion, and the six Democrats who want his job insist that's exactly where he's headed.

EDWARDS: They are wrong. They are wrong. They are wrong. And we must stop them, and we will stop them!

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't worry, some people say. The courts won't ever really allow, outlaw abortion. But, my friends, the courts are powerful, and do things we don't expect. Especially the Supreme Court. Just ask Tipper and Karenna and Al and Hadassah and I after that 2000 election. So take those courts seriously.

CROWLEY: One of those bright lines politicians like to draw to make the other side look extremist. Candidate George Bush sought to hold both on to and get around his anti-abortion stance.

G. W. BUSH: Talking about an ideal world and we don't live an ideal world right now. So, in the meantime, seems to me, bring people into understanding the importance of banning partial-birth abortion, having notification laws, not spending taxpayer money on abortion.

CROWLEY: In fact, the Gallup poll shows despite support for abortions, Americans overwhelmingly want it restricted. Eighty-eight percent would require doctors to inform patients about abortion alternatives, 78 percent want a 24-hour waiting period, 73 percent said yes to parental consent for minors, 72 percent would require spousal notification, and 70 percent would support a law to ban a late-term abortion procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: In short, outside the land of sound bites and one issue voters, abortion is a much more nuanced subject. But do not expect politicians to fall into this gray line. This is a tough one to give up, because on both sides of the bright line there are dedicated voters and big bucks -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Neither one of which politicians can ignore.

CROWLEY: No.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley, thanks very much.

Well, Americans who hold more of the middle ground on abortion may not have the loudest voices in the abortion or the political debate. But our Bruce Morton says their quiet influence has increased over the years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thrity years since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal; 30 years of demonstrations from those who favor abortion on demand and those who would ban it absolutely.

But the biggest group is in the middle: opposed to a ban on abortions but in favor of restrictions on it.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: In the past four or five years the American public has been very stud steady in their views on abortion, very steady in their views on Roe v. Wade, very steady in their views on restrictions like 24-hour waiting periods or parental consent laws.

E.J. DIONNE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: This middle, I think, is a group that really doesn't like much the talk about this issue at all. And so, almost all the battles take place between the ardent and consistent prolifers and the ardent and consistent pro-choicers.

MORTON: Ardent? Well, yes. An anti-abortion group called The Army of God celebrates on its Web site the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who performed abortions, in Buffalo 1998.

Still, Operation Rescue, which staged many of the protests at clinics, is bankrupt. Clinic violence is down. So is the number of abortion providers from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,819 in 2000.

And the number of abortions is down to its lowest level since 1974. Abortions went up after Roe v. Wade peaked at 29.3 per 1,000 women between 15 and 44, started to drop in 1992 and is now at 21.3 per 1,000.

Abortion among teenagers is down too. Studies credit both abstinence and contraception.

(on camera): Before Roe v. Wade, abortion was up to states. Legal in some, illegal in others. Women who couldn't afford a trip to where it was legal, tried it themselves or met shady people in back alleys and sometimes died.

(voice-over): States still play a role; 32 states have parental notification or consent laws for minors. Louisiana has passed a law banning abortion except to save the life of a mother, in case Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Abortion rights activists in Illinois will push for a law to make it legal in case Roe is overturned.

DIONNE: I think if Roe v. Wade went tomorrow, there are an awful lot of states that would move quickly to re-establish abortion law as it is or at least in the first trimester or first two trimesters of pregnancy.

MORTON: So the extremes march, the middle doesn't, and the law is 30 years old.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And we'll bring you our own abortion debate next on INSIDE POLITICS.

Plus -- a federal judge weighs in on a lawsuit blaming a fast food chain for making people fat.

And later -- Hispanics' growing numbers and growing political clout. We'll talk to two Latino politicians on different sides of the aisle.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in jerusalem. I'll tell you (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- what's the buzz -- in next week's Israeli election. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for all the campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time to check your "I.P. I.Q." Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun was the author of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Which president appointed Blackmun to the Supreme Court? Was it A, John Kennedy; B, Lyndon Johnson; or C., Richard Nixon? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're told about a woman's right to control their own body. But doesn't the unborn child have a higher right? And that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The continuing strong presence of the march for life, reminds those of us in decision-making capacity that millions of Americans care fundamentally about this issue, and are committed to preserving the sanctity of life.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: As we listened to two former presidents addressing the anti-abortion rally, with us now Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine and Terry Jeffrey, editor of the conservative weekly "Human Events."

Terry Jeffrey, we heard all six Democrats who'd like to be president themselves at this NARAL dinner last night on the anniversary -- eve of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Is this going to be an issue in the '04 presidential election?

TERRY JEFFREY, HUMAN EVENTS: Well, it's no doubt it's going to be an issue, Judy. They pledged that it would be. I take them at their word and I think the president understands it's going to be good politics for him.

If you look at the mid-term election, you've got a number of key races that gave the Senate back to the Republicans where abortion is pivotal.

Norm Coleman made it a central issue against Mondale, in their debate the day before the election. Exit polling showed by nine points he got a boost out of pro-life voters. Jim Talent got 11 point net from pro-life voters in Missouri. And Saxby Chambliss, who beat Max Cleland in Georgia, knocked out a Democrat incumbent, made abortion an issue even in his TV ads.

So I think in the states that are going to be the difference -- the swing states in 2004, abortion is going to be a cutting and important issue.

MARGARET CARLSON, TIME MAGAZINE: I'm not sure that was a single issue in most of those races.

WOODRUFF: And you know this without the exit polls, I should say.

CARLSON: Yes.

JEFFREY: Fox News did a poll that showed this.

WOODRUFF: OK. Well, we'll talk about that some more.

Margaret, go. CARLSON: It's an issue that brings out the fire on the pro-life side. But if the situation were to switch and abortion were truly to be in jeopardy or were it to be made illegal, because the judges were appointed in the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the fire would go to the other side and the pro-choice forces, I think, would be a potent political force.

It's that right now they're in the place where they have nothing, that much to fight for.

WOODRUFF: Is there much difference among these six candidates who have declared -- taken the formal step to say they're going to run for president?

JEFFREY: You know, from what I understand, there's one difference, and that Dick Gephardt actually was in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban. So each one of the other five Democratic candidates are so extreme in the pro-abortion views, that they hold that as a constitutional right to kill a child in the moment of its birth.

CARLSON: I don't know that they hold that view. And Partial- birth abortion was something made up.

Tom Daschle, too bad he's not running, because he introduced a bill that would make all postliability abortions illegal. And what's happened in part is that medical science has moved beyond Roe v. Wade, where the last trimester is prohibited, except for -- with certain exceptions.

JEFFREY: Well, actually, on Daschle's bill, he said postliability provided it didn't contest with the health of the mother. As everybody who knows this issue knows that jurisprudence in the Supreme Court, health of the mother could mean anything. So in other words, Daschle's bill did not restrict abortions at all.

CARLSON: No. He restricted the health of the mother, because you're right, that there are court decisions that have interpreted health very broadly.

WOODRUFF: Let me come at this from another way.

Kate Michelman, the head of NARAL, the new name of the organization NARAL, Pro-Choice America, said "We expect -- we at NARAL expect those who are with us to filibuster any effort to put a Supreme Court Justice --confirm a Supreme Court Justice by the Senate who is not with us on abortion.

Now, we checked with the candidates. Joe Lieberman's office is saying no litmus test. John Edwards office is saying he's going to fight it. We haven't been able to get in touch with John Kerry, yet.

Margaret, does this put an undo -- kind of undo pressure on these Democrats? I don't know of any other way to put it.

CARLSON: Crying wolf for a long time and trying to get pro- choice forces as animated as pro-life. I can't match than any of these candidates are going to make abortion their single issue.

JEFFREY: Well, I think NARAL is actually going to jerk around any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) presidential candidates. That's what we saw yesterday. The single most important issue for the Democrats running for president. Every Republican Supreme Court nominee, including J.P. Stephens has been opposed by NARAL. Their goal is to make an absolute litmus test. Some of them must go into Senate Judiciary Committee and say they think it's an absolute right to kill an unborn child or else they can't go on the Court. The Democrat now say the agree with that.

CARLSON: You know, if Bush gets -- enough judges who are pro- life, he's going to issue a litmus test, because if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it becomes an issue that works against Republican it's.

JEFFREY: The litmus test ought to be in the constitution of the United States. The 14th amendment equal protection under law. The Democrats want to give it to everybody but babies.

WOODRUFF: All right, we have to leave it there. Terry Jeffrey, Margaret Carlson, great see both of you. Thank you very much.

We turn to the economy now and President Bush's trip to Missouri today to drum up support for his tax cut plan. Mr. Bush told workers at St. Louis trucking firm that his $674 billion economic stimulus plan will be good for small business, which makes the plan good for America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. W. BUSH: And when you multiply the effects of that money throughout our society with all the individual decisions that are being made to strengthen the small businesses it is going to have an incredibly positive affect on job growth in America. And to make sure that job growth at the small business level is more significant, we ought to allow small firms to write off as expenses up to 75,000 a year instead of the limit of $25,000 a year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Last hour, Senate Democrats took issue with the president's remarks. They called the tax cut plan a losing proposition for workers and the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: When he passed the tax plan in 2001, he said his plan would provide for maximum pay down of the national debt. Instead what we're seeing is maximum expansion of the national debt, and the maximum taking of funds from the Social Security trust funds to pay for his tax cuts. That is not pro growth that is anti-growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Today his trip to Missouri was the ninth for President Bush. He won the state by about 79,000 votes in the 2000 election. Coming up, we'll tell you why Democratic president's hopeful Al Sharpton is a hot topic today.

Plus a tussle over timing. Will New Hampshire lose its standing as the first in the nation's primary?

But First it appears a major muck controversy, pardon that is over or is it?

Rhonda Schaffler joins us live from Wall Street with the latest on a fast food fight -- Rhonda.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, SENIOR NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, it's a bit of a yes and no answer to that particular question. The story involves a lawsuit that alleges McDonald's is responsible for making people obese. That lawsuit's been dismissed. The federal judge ruled plaintiffs did not show that McDonald's products pose an unknown danger to consumers. This landmark lawsuit was brought by the parents of two teenagers who went to McDonald's a lot and are overweight. But the judge is going to allow these plaintiffs to file an amended complaint addressing some problems he found in the original argument.

On Wall Street, investors were very much focused on what's going on as far as corporate earnings, and they were a bit lackluster. One of the most disappointing came from Eastman Kodak. Stock slipped near think 12 percent after it posted a smaller then expect profit. It worried about the current (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and also said it's going to have to cut some jobs. Perhaps 2,200 of them.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 124 points stretching its losing streak to five sessions. In that time, now, the Dow rates all of its January rally. The Dow is down for the year. The Nasdaq up four points today. That's the latest from Wall Street.

More INSIDE POLITICS after the break, including a behind-the- scenes look at GOP candidates.

WOODRUFF: Time to check your "I.P. I.Q." Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun was the author of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Earlier we asked, which president appointed Blackmun to the Supreme Court. Was it, a., John Kennedy, b., Lyndon Johnson, or c., Richards Nixon? The correct answer is, c, Richard Nixon appointed Blackmun 1970 calling him "A strict Constructionist at the time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Is it a campaign cover-up or the case of an overzealous volunteer? Coming up, the controversy behind these "Made in the USA" signs. First, this news alert.

(NEWS BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Returning to election politics now. White House strategists made it clear long before last November which Republicans the president would support in key party primaries.

Our Jon Karl is with me with signs the White House is once again playing favorites.

Jon, what's going on?

JONATHAN KARL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly, some early positions here and some of the most aggressive positioning in the state of South Dakota. Tom Daschle is up for re-election. The Republicans, especially the White House, want to make sure Daschle a very tough challenge from a tough Republican challenger. John Thune where the speculation is right now.

And the "Hill" newspaper up here on Capitol Hill had a story that said that the White House talked to Bill Janklow, the former of South Dakota, representative of South Dakota. Janklow, would potentially run in a primary against John Thune. The Republicans don't want that to happen. The story in the "Hill" says that the White House contacted Janklow and said please don't talk about running or consider running until John Thune has made up his mind about whether or not he wants to run. Now, Republicans up here are not confirming that story, but they are making it very clear that John Thune is the favorite candidate up here.

I spoke to George Allen, senator from Virginia, who is also in charge of the Republican reelection efforts for the Senate. And he told me -- quote -- "John Thune is the person I would hope to run. And I think John Thune is our strongest candidate."

As for Bill Janklow and whether or not he would run against, I spoke with one of his top aides today, who said, we're still unpacking our boxes over here. Janklow just got elected to the House. So, he's saying it's too early to tell, that they're not really considering this yet. And they're saying, as far as they know, the White House has not contacted Bill Janklow.

But a sign here, Judy, that, very clearly, Republicans are trying to everything they can to pick the right candidates, what they believe will be the right candidates, the strongest candidates in the key races, and to make sure those candidates do not have tough battles in the primaries. As George Allen Said: I would like our candidates to get their hunting licenses early.

So, Judy, look for a lot more of this in the coming days.

WOODRUFF: That's right. And it will be interesting to hear what Bill Janklow himself has to say about the White House not wanting him involved.

KARL: Yes.

WOODRUFF: OK, Jon, thank you very much.

KARL: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Well, there's more news about potential candidates in our "Campaign News Daily": Retired baseball star Dale Murphy says he's being urged to run for Utah governor next year. Murphy, who works full time for the Mormon Church, tells "The Brigham Young University NewsNet" that he is interested, but -- quote -- "A lot of things have to happen" before he enters the race. Incumbent Governor and fellow Republican Mike Leavitt has not said if he will seek a fourth term. Dale Murphy played Major League Baseball for 17 seasons.

Well, one day after Al Sharpton announced his campaign for president, firefighters were called to his New York headquarters today. The second-floor fire was controlled within an hour. One person was treated for smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire in under investigation. Late today, Reverend Sharpton looked at the damage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what caused the fire. We will cooperate with authorities to see. But I will promise you, there will always be a house of justice. There are always be a place for disaffected people to come. I will continue in my drive toward the nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Look out Iowa and New Hampshire. Washington, D.C. leaders are forging ahead with plans to make the D.C. presidential primary the first in the nation. Iowa and New Hampshire zealously guard their first-in-the-nation status. However, all Washington City Council members and the mayor are now on record supporting a bill to hold their primary on January 10, 2004.

Now, there could about catch. Democratic and Republican Party spokesmen say moving up the D.C. primary would violate party bylaws. So, we'll see what happens.

When we return: President Bush does it. So do many politicians of both parties. Up next: the fight for Hispanic votes as seen through the eyes of two Latino members of Congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A crucial contest in Israel: after two years of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed, a vote next week to determine if peace talks will be restarted.

We'll go live to Jerusalem for a preview of the Israeli election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In many newspapers, the headlines blared, Hispanics have surpassed blacks as the nation's largest minority group. But the populations of those two groups actually are very close. And the political realities may be more complicated, too.

Let's talk about the census numbers and political outreach to Hispanics with two congressmen: assistant Republican Whip Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida and Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Congressman Menendez, does the fact that there's a surge in Hispanic voters, whether they've now taken over African-Americans or not, does this automatically benefit one party or the other?

REP. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, certainly, for Republicans, reaching out to the Hispanic vote is a calculated political strategy. For us, it's a long-term extension of our relationship with this community, as is evidenced that 20 of the 23 members of Congress of Hispanic descent are in the Democratic Party.

So, we believe that our longstanding relationship with the Hispanic community in this country, the positions and public policy views that we hold, the understanding of their hopes, dreams and aspirations, and the way in which we pursue those hopes, dreams and aspirations in the Congress inure to our benefit, as they have. Overwhelmingly, the number of Hispanic elected officials throughout the country are of Democratic Party affiliation.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Diaz-Balart, does one party benefit over another? Do the Republicans or the Democrats automatically benefit or not?

REP. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: I think the whole society benefits when citizens participate.

And I think both parties have realized the importance of the Latino community. And, as the Latino community understands the issues more and more that really represent both parties, that inure to the benefit of the Republican Party.

When you analyze issue by issue, for example, on education, we don't think that people -- that students in schools where they are threatened with violence or schools that consistently fail should have to be condemned to stay in that school. We offer choice to that family. And that is an overwhelmingly popular position in the Hispanic community.

With regard to trade, the president is pushing for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a common market of all the democracies in this hemisphere. There's a tremendous tie in U.S. Latinos, Hispanics, with their countries of origin. They want to see their countries of origin in a common market with the United States.

WOODRUFF: Congressman...

DIAZ-BALART: And on issues like this, issue after issue, the Democrats don't hold the future and their positions are contrary to the hopes and aspirations of the Latino community in the United States.

WOODRUFF: How do you counter that, Congressman Menendez?

MENENDEZ: Well, very simply. My dear friend Lincoln's party, he's in the wrong party for the Hispanic community. That's the party of Pete Wilson, the party of Proposition 187, the party of very anti-immigrant fervor, the party and the presidency that has destroyed the Hispanic Education Action Plan that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus put together to try to relieve the dropout rate that is still too high within our community, the party that set aside

(CROSSTALK)

DIAZ-BALART: ... Section 8(a) set-asides with our small businesses, which is the really economic focal point of our community.

So, the Republican Party knows it has deep problems with our community and now may seek to court it, because it recognizes the numbers are growing. But it's a long term coming.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Diaz-Balart, the numbers in 2000 tell one story. Al Gore got 62 percent of the Hispanic vote, George W. Bush, 35 percent. How much of a challenge is that for your party?

DIAZ-BALART: Well, the support of -- Latino support for the Republican Party is growing.

When you look at what, for example, the president did in his reelection in Texas, when he got 50 percent, approximately, of the Latino vote, that is something that I think we're going to see replicated in the reelection of this president. When Governor Bush in Florida got over 60 percent, received over 60 percent of the Hispanic vote statewide, that shows that, when he improves education and improves the opportunity for, for example, the two million Hispanic small businesses in the United States.

We recognize that it's hard to make a payroll, that the overwhelming, if not the majority, certainly most -- many of the Hispanics in the United States work for those two million Hispanic small businesses. We want to help them make their payroll, expand their businesses, reduce taxes on small businesses. Those are issues that resonate in the Hispanic community.

And the cliches and the stereotypes offered by the Democrats simply are not going to hold water in the future, because we have to discuss the issues issue by issue and where the hope aspirations of the people, the Hispanics of the United States, are best served.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, as much as we'd love to continue listening too both of you, we are going to have to leave it there.

Congressman Diaz-Balart, Congressman Menendez, good to see both of you. And we thank you very much for talking with us.

Well, political campaigns often have a defining moment. Up next: Why should the upcoming election in Israel be any different? We'll get the "Inside Buzz" on Ariel Sharon's turning point from our man in Jerusalem, Bill Schneider. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Crucial Israeli elections next Tuesday top our look "Inside Their Politics": The current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is running for reelection. Sharon won a landslide two years ago after promising to be tough on the Palestinians. Since then, Israel has suffered from suicide bombing and other Palestinian violence. Sharon's main opponent, Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna, vows to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. The latest polls show Mitzna's party trailing Sharon's Likud Party.

In Israel, voters cast ballots for a political party and not for a candidate. Likud is now projected to win the most seats, but would need to form a coalition to govern the country.

Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, is in Israel right now. And he joins us live from our Jerusalem bureau, where it is nearly midnight.

Bill, thank you for staying up so late. Tell us what the buzz is right now about this election.

SCHNEIDER: Sure. And Shalom, Judy. OK.

Today, I spoke to three campaign managers, two political analysts. And they all told me that the defining moment in this campaign came two weeks ago, when Prime Minister Sharon went on television to defend himself from scandal allegations involving illegal foreign loans.

Now, because of the scandal, the prime minister's party had been dropping in the polls. So, Sharon went on TV to defend himself, claiming it was all a conspiracy. Now, get this. Israel has a law that prohibits any campaign propaganda from broadcasts on television within a month of the election. Unbelievable.

A supreme court judge who also chairs the Central Election Committee called the television station and ordered the broadcast by the prime minister shut down immediately. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are compelled to interrupt the broadcast, the live broadcast of the prime minister's press conference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: They yanked the prime minister off the air. It was unbelievable. Can you imagine? Well, the voters were outraged. And the prime minister's party started to pick up again in the polls.

WOODRUFF: So, Bill, why did this turn things around for Sharon?

SCHNEIDER: Well, because his party has always gotten a lot of mileage by claiming to speak for the out groups in Israel, like non- European Israelis and observant Jews and immigrants.

This incident revived the image of a liberal establishment, in this case, the courts, suppressing the voice of the people. It looked like a conspiracy. And guess what? Today, the attorney general revealed that a senior Tel Aviv prosecutor had leaked the information about the illegal loans to a newspaper. And she says she did it for political reasons. The government is now considering filing criminal charges against her -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, the voters will get the last word on this.

OK, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

SCHNEIDER: They will.

WOODRUFF: And we hope to talk to you again before that election. Thanks, Bill.

State governors caught in a budget crunch -- up next, my conversation with Idaho's Republican Dirk Kempthorne on why tough choices, including raising taxes, are suddenly on the table for governors all across the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: State governors across the country are working through major budget shortfall this year caused in large part by the nation's economic slowdown. By one estimate, the states are facing a combined $60 billion shortfall. Well, the crunch is forcing many governors to make some tough decisions, including higher taxes and big cuts in services.

A little earlier, I spoke with Idaho's Republican governor, Dirk Kempthorne. And I began by asking him if his recent decision to raise some taxes violates Republican orthodoxy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. DIRK KEMPTHORNE (R), IDAHO: No. What we're doing is a pragmatic approach.

My history in public service has been one that I cut taxes. As governor for the last four years, I have cut taxes 48 times, and tax incentives. When I was in the United States Senate, I always opposed tax increases. But there comes a point that you have to be pragmatic. And I'm not going to preside over the dismantling of my state.

I'm going to keep my emphasis on education and providing the essential services. I think, before you even think about a tax increase, you have to be able to demonstrate to your citizens that you have gone forward and you have made major cuts and reductions in government.

WOODRUFF: What would you have had to do if you had not made the call to raise taxes? KEMPTHORNE: If you take the categories of education, which make 65 percent of our state budget, you add in there health care, which is 20 percent, and then public safety, which includes your prisons, that's 95 percent of your budget.

Therefore, in order to make up this gap, I would have had to take all of the rest of government and, in essence, eliminate it. That would have still left me with $70 million. And because of corrections, I can't -- I'm not going to go forward with early release of prisons. And with health care, because of Medicaid and then Medicare, there are requirements there that we have to meet.

That would have put the onus on education. It would have been massive cuts in public education and higher education. And I'm not willing to do that.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to other governors out there? And I know we know at least, I guess, eight of them, half of them Democrats, half Republicans, including your Republican colleagues in New York and Florida, Governor Bush and others, and Colorado, who are saying, we're not going to raise taxes. We're going to do everything we possibly can to avoid it.

KEMPTHORNE: Well, I would say to them, I wish them sincerely the very best, because that's where I come from. It's not in my fiber to raise taxes.

We tried everything we possibly could. We've made the cuts. But I can't make further cuts. I also would be concerned that, until we see a national recovery, that one-time solutions -- you can perhaps get through for one more year with one-time money. But then, the following year, you're going to be in a situation that you may find yourself in a corner.

WOODRUFF: How do you square this, Governor, with President Bush's proposal to further cut taxes across the board and saying, we need to put more money in the pockets of American taxpayers?

KEMPTHORNE: Well, I concur with the president.

I think the more money you can put into the citizens' pockets -- it's their money -- the better off. But there's a distinct difference. And that is, at the state level, we have a constitutional requirement that we must balance the budget. We have to end every year in the black.

WOODRUFF: Would you rather go into deficit, if had you that power, that ability to do so?

KEMPTHORNE: No.

Again, at the state level, I think it's something that we have learned to live within our means. As a state, we have probably one of the lowest debt ratios of any...

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: That's Idaho's Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

Up next: the gaffe President Bush left behind in Missouri and his aides' explanation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Finally today, a lesson in political event planning.

When President Bush appeared at a warehouse in St. Louis today to promote his tax cuts, boxes in the backdrop were labeled, made in the USA. But, on closer inspection, boxes in front of the stage actually had a made-in-China label, which had been covered up with tape and a piece of paper. The White House says the fake labeling was the work of an overzealous advance volunteer. And they say it is being taken up with the appropriate people. We bet.

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

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