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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

United States Clashes With Allies Over War; Istanbul, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran Expected To Demand Iraq Comply; Interviews with Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, Mario Cuomo

Aired January 23, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Iraqis vent their anger at the U.S. while Washington clashes with some of its allies over the prospect of war.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: To say never mind, I'll walk away from this problem, or ignore it, I think, would be a defeat for the international community.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry on the campaign trail, attacking Bush foreign policy and playing up his combat experience.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Bonds you build in war are as close to men coming to the point of using the word "love" and admitting it.

ANNOUNCER: Democrats go back where the Clintons dared to tread. Will health care reform help or hurt the party this time?

Trailer park politics? A new senator shows us his less than posh work space on Capitol Hill.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: To be the only -- to be an inhabitant of the only real trailer park in Washington, D.C. is a pretty significant fact for this boy from Georgia, let me tell you!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. We begin with a breaking story in the Democratic presidential race. In this "NewsCycle," Senator Bob Graham of Florida says he will undergo heart surgery early next month, so he is putting off any campaign announcement. The 66- year-old Graham says he will have a common procedure to replace a faulty aortic valve. He says he had tentatively decided to announce a run for president, but will reassess his plans about a month after the surgery.

Now, to the showdown with Iraq. The foreign ministers of six key Muslim nations still are struggling to build a united front in hopes of heading off a U.S.-led war with Iraq. At a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are expected to demand that Iraq comply with U.N. weapons inspectors in exchange for their support.

Well, the Bush administration says that it will have the support of a number of allies if it uses force to disarm Saddam Hussein, despite growing opposition from Germany and France.

Here now is our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana, what are they saying at the White House? How do they plan to overcome not just the opposition from Europe, from certain countries there, but also growing evidence in the public opinion polls the American people are uneasy?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you hit the nail on the head there by talking about the polls, particularly. Most Americans do support some kind of military action against Saddam Hussein, but if there is U.N. support. The vast majority want the U.S. to work with the U.N.

So the U.S. is saying -- the administration is saying today that, yes, they do intend to work with the international community, even if there isn't a U.N. resolution per se, or some kind of U.N. action, if France or Germany block that. They do intend to work with other countries and they're saying that the U.S. isn't going to go it alone.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said that, and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer made it clear earlier today that there are other countries, and he listed some of the other countries, he said, that the U.S. believes will be on board. One of those countries is Australia. Australia has started yesterday to send troops to the region, to prepare for any kind of U.S.-led attack against Saddam Hussein. Another country, of course, is Britain. They have about 30,000 troops on the ready. Spain and Italy are two other countries that Ari Fleischer mentioned.

But meanwhile, the P.R. blitz continues. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave a speech in New York today where he -- he gave the latest argument for why Saddam Hussein is not doing what the U.S. and what the world asked him to do, why he's not disarming, and he was talking about what he thinks and what the U.S. thinks disarmament actually looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The decision on whether Iraq's weapons of massive terror will be dismantled voluntarily or whether it will have to be done by force is not up to us. It is not up to the inspectors. It is not up to the United Nations. The decision rests entirely with Saddam Hussein. So far, he has not made the fundamental decision to disarm, and unless he does, the threat posed by his weapons programs will remain with us and indeed it will grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Judy, this P.R. campaign, of course, will culminate next Tuesday night, where we will hear from the president himself, giving his State of the Union address. We're told today that he is going over that speech with advisers, going over the draft, and we're told that over the weekend, he will start practicing work on the teleprompter -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Always important. Dana, thank you very much.

Well, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry today accused the Bush administration of -- quote -- "blustering unilateralism" that he says is wrong and even dangerous for America. In a foreign policy speech at Georgetown University, Senator Kerry warned against a quick attack on Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I say to the president, show respect for the process of international diplomacy, because it is not only right, it can make America stronger. And show the world some appropriate patience to building a genuine coalition. Mr. President, do not rush to war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Kerry's views of war and peace have been shaped partly by his service in Vietnam. That's just one part of a resume that he often plays up on the campaign trail. Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, tagged along with Kerry in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY: It's no coincidence that on his first trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate, this was the first stop.

John Kerry of Boston, Massachusetts and Jean Thorson (ph) of Aimes (ph), Iowa served together along the Mekong (ph) Delta in Vietnam.

KERRY: The bonds you build in war are as close to men coming to the point of using the word love and admitting it.

CROWLEY: It's an interesting public statement for a presidential candidate who seems to understand why people think he's aloof.

KERRY: And it's something people always wonder about me a little bit. Is Kerry approachable, can I get to know him or something? Because there's a piece of me that so cherishes a zone of privacy, if you will.

CROWLEY: It is so Kerry, an early baby boomer, not quite one thing...

KERRY: If I wasn't doing this, I'm the kind of person that would jump on my bicycle, and I would go for a nice ride, or I would go out and do something.

CROWLEY: Not quite the other. KERRY: I am also a guy, incidentally, who can just veg. Bang, that's it. I'm on the couch, and an afternoon of football or reading, or hacking around with my guitar.

CROWLEY: He is not quite a product of the stoic '50s, not quite a let it all hang out guy of the '60s.

KERRY: ... big destroyer, a guided missile cruiser.

CROWLEY: But like so many of his age, he is a product of a place in time, Vietnam. It forged lifelong friendships, and now serves as a linchpin for the launch of a presidential campaign.

KERRY: Clearly, I'm the only candidate running for president of the United States who spent four years on active duty in the military and served in a war. I have a sense of what the military demands are, and war is about in a way that I think allows me to speak with greater authority than perhaps some of my colleagues about that.

CROWLEY: It is, in some ways, a flashback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a real sense, this administration forced us to return our medals.

CROWLEY: Kerry is a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the peace movement to end it. Now he uses his resume and his rhetoric to walk the line on Iraq.

KERRY: The United States of America should never go to war because we want to go to war. We should go to war because we have to go to war. And you don't have to go to war...

CROWLEY: Iowa's Democratic living rooms and meeting halls are full of war resistors who prefer the peacenik Kerry. Would you, asked one voter, attend peace marches against this war?

KERRY: I think the direction and energy of these marches ought to keep focused on the international community and on a responsible approach. But I don't want to be perceived and I don't want us to be perceived, as not caring about how we're going to make America safe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Like all the Congressional members in the '04 field, John Kerry voted to give the president authority to wage war against Iraq. He has since then argued about the reasons why it shouldn't be done now. He is neither for it nor completely against it. Not quite a dove with war credentials, not quite a warrior with the voice of a dove -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Candy Crowley. Thanks very much.

Well, many Democrats believe they need to stand tougher on national security, but some also are returning to issues more commonly associated with their party. As our Bruce Morton reports, health care is back on the agenda nearly a decade after Bill Clinton unveiled a plan that proved painful for Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA: The first step to any new health care system should be universal health insurance, and now is the time for us to engage in a new social contract where universal health care is the equal and shared responsibility between government and each American.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Democrats are talking health care. John Breaux would work through the states.

Vermont's former governor, Howard Dean, says step by step, not all at once.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR, VERMONT: Because Americans are conservative with a small "c." They don't like too much change too fast. If you try to change the whole system, people are going to get nervous.

MORTON: Former President Bill Clinton says things are getting worse.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After we reversed the rise in uninsured for the first time in 12 years, they're going up again, accompanied by double digit increases in health insurance premiums.

MORTON: He's critical of President Bush's tax cut, which he says favors the rich, like himself.

CLINTON: You can see, I can afford a nice suit and a tie, but I need an income tax cut, and a dividend tax cut, and they want to give the money to me. I don't get it.

MORTON: Still, could this be the year...

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: There are three factors that come together to improve our prospects. First, the new Republican leader has a long-standing interest in health care policy.

Second, the public is fed up with inaction on issues like prescription drugs that should have been dealt with years ago.

And third, there's growing evidence that there's a need for broad reform.

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It is a time for bolder action. The fundamental reform we need is to guarantee that every job in America comes with health coverage.

MORTON: But the clock is running. Bipartisanship will get harder as the next election gets closer. WYDEN: Specifically, I believe that the heavy lifting on health care needs to be done in the first six months of the session.

MORTON: It won't be easy. Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have wrestled with the issue. Sure, science is doing wonders, but...

CLINTON: The stuff we know is stunning, and yet, America, with all of our high technology, is the only rich country in the world that can't figure out how to give everybody health insurance.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: On Monday, Senate and House Democratic leaders are planning to deliver what they call a prebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union address the following day.

A new Pew poll out this hour shows Americans are relatively divided over whether the main focus of the president's address should be terrorism or the economy. But a solid majority, 61 percent, agree that Mr. Bush is not doing as much as he can to help the economy. More than half say Mr. Bush's address this year is more important than last year's.

Well, there is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Coming up next in our "Daily Debate," an AIDS activist remarks about gays and their lifestyles cost him a job with the Bush administration.

I'll ask former New York Governor Mario Cuomo for his take on the Democratic presidential candidates, and his party's message about President Bush.

Plus, Colin Powell's evolution from the lone dove on Iraq to a man who's talking more like a hawk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Top White House adviser Karl Rove says he expects the 2004 presidential election to about close one. Rove told a group of newspaper and magazine reporters yesterday that next election will be more like the close race in 2000, unless, like the 1984 landslide won by Ronald Reagan.

As for what the president can deliver to his supporters in the anti-abortion movement, Rove wrote -- quote -- "I think the practical and the possible is a ban on a particularly gruesome procedure, partial birth abortion, and I think there is a strong desire, certainly among House Republicans, and I think among many in the Senate, to deal with cloning."

Well, one big controversy blew up today over the selection of a Pennsylvania man to the panel that advises the president on AIDS. Less than a week before he was due to be sworn in to the president's advisory commission on HIV and AIDS, Jerry Thacker bowed out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The White House wants to get one thing straight -- Jerry Thacker was not the president's choice.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not a presidential appointment. It is an appointment that comes at the cabinet level.

WOODRUFF: That would be the Department of Health and Human Services, led by Secretary Tommy Thompson. And one other thing...

FLEISCHER: No. The president does not share that view. The president has a totally opposite view.

WOODRUFF: Thacker has had a terribly sad personal story. He says his wife and baby daughter contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during delivery. Before the family knew, Thacker had contracted the virus as well.

But his comments on the nature of the disease are highly controversial. On his Web site, Thacker writes that he was shocked to discover he had contracted HIV -- quote -- "AIDS was something that bad people had to worry about, not Christians."

He writes that he thought HIV was -- quote -- "shameful," "God's judgment on immoral behavior."

Thacker is a graduate of the conservative Christian Bob Jones University in South Carolina, a university summary of a speech that he gave there says Thacker called homosexuality a -- quote -- "deathstyle."

The summary also said Thacker referred to AIDS as the -- quote -- "gay plague."

Massachusetts senator and '04 hopeful John Kerry, who wants the support of gay groups, said Thacker's selection shows where the administration really stands on AIDS.

KERRY: They have photo opportunities with Bono and talked about AIDS in Africa and then don't do it. They have photo opportunities about tolerance, but they run a stealth campaign to put people in places where they really do the damage.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Bay, by -- we know now that Mr. Thacker has withdrawn his name. He is not going to hold this post. But does this entire episode somehow undercut the president's argument that he says, I'm a compassionate conservative?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Absolutely not. I think the liberals have just so overreacted. John Kerry said that this was somebody that would undermine the situation with AIDS. This is a man that's entire family has AIDS. Obviously, he has enormous interest to bring to the table to try to help and find a solution, that recommendations can be made to the president. This is what this commission is all about. And you know, Judy, when there was somebody named to that commission who was from the gay community, an activist from the gay community, I had no problems with that. I disagree with them politically, totally with their agenda, but, of course that...

(CROSSTALK)

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: But the problem is he has made bigoted reactionary statements. That is offensive. It is the equivalent -- the equivalent to making an ethnic slur.

And I think, not only gays but other Americans of compassion were very alarmed by his statements that he made. Look, you have people like Magic Johnson, you have others who will get on that commission and do the right thing, and help the president steer policies in the direction of helping people with AIDS.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Donna, there was nothing bigoted about what he said. What he was saying is expressing his views which happen to be in opposition to that of the gay agenda. Millions of Christians share the view, and that is not to say that they are not -- feel warmth and love for the gay community and the problems that they face. It's just they disagree with their lifestyle.

BRAZILE: Many Christians are also supportive of gay women -- I mean lesbians and gays, and I don't see what the problem is, the president saying this guy doesn't represent my view. I don't know how he got this typeline in the first place.

BUCHANAN: The fact his family has AIDS might have been top of the line.

WOODRUFF: Moving on to comments yesterday by Karl Rove saying he thinks, this should be an urgent priority for Congress. Banning human cloning and also doing something to prevent late-term abortions. Is this something, Bay, that the president -- this is smart for him to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) political...

BUCHANAN: Listen, late-term abortion, 90 percent of Americans are supporting. There's nothing to lose there. Spending, to be quite honest, and cloning the same way. Very important to his faith but also to middle America, very supportive of this and the president's very wise. I'd like him to throw viability in there. Eighty percent of Americans believe a that a viable child should never been aborted.

BRAZILE: Bay, you and I both know this is the big payback time for the conservative play and the Republican play to give them some crumbs and a lot of Christmas gifts early on before 2004. Partial- birth abortion is a manufactured issue, rarely happens. It's a procedure no one supports out there and it rarely happens. Look, on cloning, therapeutic cloning, you can be against reproductive cloning without, you know, abandoning all cloning which will help people with Parkinson's and diabetes a new chance at life.

BUCHANAN: Partial birth had a report just the other day, Donna. Three times, increased by three in just the last three years...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: ... babys, are killed.

BUCHANAN: Let's get through. If it's irrelevant, pass it.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: Because You want dismantle Roe v. Wade, which is the law of the land.

WOODRUFF: Finally yesterday it was announce that part of the presidents faith based initiative is part of that. The president wants to allow religious groups to spend federal funds to build buildings that might be used for houses of worship as long as they're also used for social, community, recreational activity -- Bay.

BUCHANAN: First of all, the federal funds are to be very clear. The way it's written, you have a building, have a church and then it's going to be for a homeless shelter. Then how much does a homeless shelter cost? Use could use federal money for that. That's the key here. And Judy, look what it's doing taking federal money sending it right to the front line. Every studies show the people at the community level can solve the problems far more effectively...

(CROSSTALK)

Absolutely. Even many conservatives believe this is blurring the line between church and state. They're taking the bricks out of the line, statute by statute, regulation by regulation. And if church, faith-based institutions, would like to receive federal money, then they should go ahead and impose federal laws and guidelines on themselves so that they can receive (UNINTELLIGIBLE) under the discrimination law.

WOODRUFF: Leave it there.

BUCHANAN: All right. Leaving it there.

WOODRUFF: Both sides. We're always going to give you another chance to talk about it. Bay, Donna, thank you both. We appreciate it.

Will he or won't he? Are Gary Hart's travel plan as clue whether he will make another run for the White House?

Plus, Mario Cuomo, aimed at President Bush and the Democrats. The former New York governor joins me in a moment.

But first, the weather's freezing, but home heating prices are hotter than ever.

Rhonda Schaffler joins us live from Wall Street way look at your money.

Hello, Rhonda.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Judy.

Heating oil costs have moved higher for nine weeks in a row. The price is at a two-year high, 24 percent more expensive than last year. All told, new Energy Department estimates are that heating oil prices could jump 43 percent above last year's levels. Electric heating costs rising as well. As far as why things are going -- yes, cold weather is part of the problem here. Also, the Venezuelan oil strike continues and worries about high destruction, if there is a war with Iraq.

As far as the action on Wall Street today, stocks finally managed to snap a five-session losing streak. Dow Jones Industrial gains 50 points, despite a 19 percent drop in AT&T stocks. The country's biggest long cities dance phone company warns sales are down again this year. And McDonald's fell more 2 percent. It lost money first quarter, first time in its history. The burger giant was hurt by competition, changing consumer taste and an intense price war that will close better than 500 under performing restaurants. Still going to open about 850 though in other parts.

That is the very latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS ahead, including a new poll on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

WOODRUFF: Time again to check your "I.P. I.Q". Earlier we asked, when was the first election in which all states voted for president on the same day? Was it, a., 1848, b., 1912, or, c., 1932? The correct answer is, a. Congress decided on January 23 today's date in 1845, that all future federal elections should be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Capital digs that are anything but cool. Why some senators are working out of trailers. But first, this News Alert.

(NEWS BREAK)

WOODRUFF: One year before the presidential primary season, Democrats are trying to hone a winning message. And a party member known for stirring rhetoric has a few ideas for them.

Joined by New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

Mario Cuomo good to see you again.

MARIO CUOMO, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW YORK: Nice to see you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: You've been talking about President Bush tilting his tax cut plan to the wealthy. But Karl Rove who is the presidents top political adviser said yesterday, this a president who cares about the little guy. He said this tax plan, by taking so many low-income people off the tax rolls, means that more wealthy people are going to be carrying the tax burden. In other words, he says you're wrong.

CUOMO: If he's able to fool the American people with that, then they'll deserve what they get. It's very close to a complete absurdity and it shows you how far they'll go.

I think we should get one thing clear. The question of the tax cut should not be an argument over fairness. It shouldn't be an argument over, well, who gave us the most money and should they get it back? The economy is a disaster. Does a tax cut help the economy? Only if it solves the economic problem.

The economic problem is not that we don't have enough money to invest. We have more millionaires and billionaires than ever. My clients have plenty of money to invest. The problem is, businesses aren't doing business. And, therefore, there's nothing to invest in. So what you need, Judy, are consumers. You have 150 million workers. If were you to give them those tax cut breaks, they would spend the money. They would buy a baby carriage. They would buy a pair of shoes. They would buy a television set. The economy is 72...

WOODRUFF: So, the dividend tax cuts...

CUOMO: The economy is 70 percent consumption. What you want to do is put the money in the hands of the people who will use it to buy things. That's not the rich people.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the Democrats. Have they been too timid?

CUOMO: The Democrats were too timid in November. They have ceded the Iraq issue. They've ceded the terrorism issue. There are very big and important issues there.

No. 1, should we defang Saddam Hussein? Of course. No. 2, will the president do everything possible to defang him without a war? Is he doing everything possible to see to it that perhaps there is an exile deal that can be made? And the second question about Iraq, what happens if you do go to war? What is the aftermath? How much will it cost? There is a suggestion that we'll spend $1.6 trillion in Iraq after we win the war.

And if you succeed in taking down Saddam and Osama and al Qaeda, what then, Mr. President? What do you do to dry up the source of this terrorism? These people are cancerous tumors. What do you do to deal with the cancer that produced those tumors? Those are questions we haven't argued.

And, then, of course, there are the economic issues, the health insurance, 41 million people, etcetera, etcetera. There are plenty of issues. They didn't make them aggressively last time. They'll have to to win in 2004.

WOODRUFF: You said not long ago you'd like to see Bob Graham, the senator from Florida, run for president. We know today he's going to have to have heart surgery. He's putting off a decision.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

WOODRUFF: And as are we.

Are you saying, though, that it's really going to be very difficult for the Democrats to win unless they have a Southerner on the ticket?

CUOMO: No. I think it helps to have a Southerner on the ticket somewhere. And there are Southerners out there. That's clear. You've got already the senator from North Carolina, John Edwards.

And, look, we don't really need a bright, dazzling persona. We have plenty of formidable, good-looking candidates. What you need are issues, Judy. We have to prove to the people of the United States of America that we Democrats know what they want. What do they want? They want peace. They don't want war. If there must be war, they will support war. But, mostly, they want peace.

They want health insurance; 41 million people don't have any. They want better education. It's not getting better. We're not getting more access to college education, which we need. Only one out of five are high-skilled people in this country. They want the environment to be preserved. They're not getting that. You haven't done anything about Social Security and Medicare, etcetera, etcetera, real issues.

Instead, he's got us talking about cloning. Now, you have to be kidding. He's got us talking about partial-birth abortion. Talk about abortion if you want to. Talk about Roe against Wade and are you are going to take that big issue and are you going to deal with that, Mr. President? So, he's got you thinking about little issues. The Democrats have to get back to the big issues.

WOODRUFF: A lot of passion there, but you're not going to be a candidate yourself?

CUOMO: I'm going to be whatever I can be to help the Democrats. I'll speak everywhere, anywhere. I'll vote. I'll get other people to vote. I'll do what I can to see that we return the Democrats to office.

WOODRUFF: But you won't be a candidate?

CUOMO: Oh, no. I had that chance, Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: All right, former Governor Mario Cuomo of New York, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

CUOMO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

When we return: Is Colin Powell still a reluctant warrior? Our Andrea Koppel looks at the secretary of state's tougher talk on Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Secretary of State Colin Powell firmly declared today that Iraq's failure to disarm is a challenge that must be met.

Our State Department correspondent, Andrea Koppel, reports that Powell's rhetoric has undergone a transformation, along with his views about Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: In the absence of cooperation, the inspectors will not find everything.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's now a familiar refrain from an unlikely messenger. Once described as the lone dove among hawks, for months, Secretary of State Powell has been the Bush administration's most ardent advocate of giving Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, one last chance to disarm.

POWELL: We have to see whether or not Iraq will cooperate and permit the inspectors to do their job.

KOPPEL: It was Powell who pushed President Bush last fall to seek another U.N. resolution demanding Iraq allow weapons inspectors to return.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam has perfected the game of cheat-and-retreat.

KOPPEL: Vice President Cheney, on the other hand, fought a losing battle last August when he argued inspections would be a waste of time.

CHENEY: There's a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow back in his box.

KOPPEL: A position Powell now supports. The question isn't, how much longer do you need for inspections to work, Powell told journalists this week; inspections will not work. Analysts say tougher talk, especially when it comes from Powell, sends a powerful message.

IVO DAALDER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: If you want to convince the world, if you want to convince the American people, if you want to convince Saddam Hussein that it is time for the United States to act, that war is now, rather than later, you have to make the case. And Colin Powell is now making that case as well as anybody else in this administration. KOPPEL: Twelve years ago, when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the now-retired four-star general was also initially reluctant to go to war against Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: Even now, Powell aides defend Powell's preference for diplomacy over military action. And despite a growing risk with key U.S. allies on the Security Council, Powell still defends going the U.N. route last November, Judy, rather than going with a unilateral military action he says wouldn't have been the best option -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: A very discernible change in what he's saying.

All right, Andrea, thank you very much.

Well, our focus returns once again to presidential politics when we come back: a look at where the six Democrats stand in a new poll, as we check the headlines in "Campaign News Daily."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We check in on the 2004 Democratic hopefuls in our "Campaign News Daily": Potential candidate Gary Hart has returned to Iowa for the first time since he canceled his 1988 campaign for president. Hart told reporters in Des Moines that he expects to be the butt of jokes on late-night television if he decides to run again. But he also pointed to the serious issues facing the country, including the prospect of war with Iraq and said he thinks the laughs would be temporary.

Fellow Democrat Joe Lieberman is making the rounds in New Hampshire for the second day in a row. Wednesday featured a now- familiar stop at the Merrimack Restaurant in Manchester, where reporters following Lieberman outnumbered the diners.

A new poll give Joe Lieberman the early lead nationwide among the six declared Democratic candidates. Lieberman leads in the ABC/"Washington Post" survey of Democratic-leaning voters with 27 percent. Congressman Dick Gephardt received 14 percent, followed closely by Senators John Edwards and John Kerry. Al Sharpton and Howard Dean were in single digits; 24 percent said they were undecided.

One more note on the Democratic candidates: For the second time this week, all six will appear at the same event: the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. It gets under way next hour right here in Washington.

Well, the Democrats running for president have criticized the recent Bush administration's stand on affirmative action.

With me now to talk more about the president, his party, and issues American to African-Americans is Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He's the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. You met two days ago this week with the newly elected majority leader in the Senate, Bill Frist, the first time you've had a meeting in the post-Trent Lott situation era, if you'll call it that. What did you meeting accomplish? Anything you can tell us about it?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It was a good meeting.

I had an opportunity to lay out the caucus' agenda, to try to figure out what Senator Frist's opinion would be and what his policies would be with regard to many of the items that we're concerned about, such as health care, AIDS, election reform, things of that nature. And I must say, we agreed on a few things and disagreed on quite a few things.

WOODRUFF: Well, at the same time you're having this meeting, we're hearing from the administration this week and the last week, the president opposing an affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan. We know the president has decided to resubmit the nomination of conservative Judge Charles Pickering of Mississippi to the federal bench.

What signals does this send at the same time you're trying to work with Republicans in the Congress?

CUMMINGS: I've said it over and over again that, after the Trent Lott statement and then the president's statement in reference to it, saying that it did not stand for the ideals of this country, to then submit Judge Pickering's name again after it had been defeated and highly opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus, and then his position with the Michigan case, I question -- if the president had a problem with what Lott said, Senator Lott said, then it seems like he's speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

And so the question becomes, is the conscience of the Republican Party not that of Trent Lott? And if it is not, then we would ask, what is it? And if it is consistent with an inclusive and a America with opportunity for all, then we would ask the Republicans and President Bush to synchronize its conscience with its conduct.

WOODRUFF: Well, in line with that, let me lead you something that spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert had to say just the other day. He said -- and I'm going to quote -- "Frankly, African- American liberals aren't going to like us that much. But African- American conservatives and moderates, they're the ones who believe in family values. They are going to start seeing the Republican Party as one that they can support."

CUMMINGS: I think that that person is apparently dreaming.

When we look at the Pickering nomination, when we look at the approach with regard to the Michigan cases, and many other things that the Republicans have done, it's clear that there's not very much in there for African-Americans and Hispanics. And so, I don't see that. And when I move around my district, amongst Democrats and independents, they favor strongly the Democrats, no matter what their financial situation might be. And so I just don't buy that. And I think that he's basically projecting something and hoping for much.

WOODRUFF: So, when you hear this, when you read these kinds of statements, how much cooperation can there be between your organization -- not that every member is going to vote the same way -- but between the Congressional Black Caucus and the Republican leadership in both houses?

CUMMINGS: Well, going back to Senator Frist, he made it clear that we would have an ongoing dialogue. And dialogue is No. 1. You have got to at least be talking. And so I think that we're going to work well together. We'll agree on some things. We'll be able to accomplish some things.

But, again, it's going to be a wait-and-see. But he's a man of faith, and he emphasized that. And I'm a man of faith.

WOODRUFF: Senator Frist.

CUMMINGS: Senator Frist, that is. And I think that we'll be able to accomplish some things.

WOODRUFF: Representative Elijah Cummings, good to see you again.

CUMMINGS: It's good to see you, too.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for coming by.

CUMMINGS: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, you've won a Senate seat, so what do you do next? Coming up: Forget the trip to Disney World. Georgia's Saxby Chambliss is hanging out in a trailer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Being a United States senator obviously has its perks, but some newcomers are not exactly living in the lap of luxury. While office assignments are being rearranged, Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss has set up shop in a double-wide. And he took our Jonathan Karl on a tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator Chambliss, one of the great things about becoming a senator is, you have these grand Senate building where you have these grand Senate offices, right?

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Yes, there's no question about it. And to be the only -- to be an inhabitant of the only real trailer park in Washington, D.C. is a pretty significant fact for this boy from Georgia, let me tell you.

KARL: So, here you go. Here's the trailer park. This is, I guess, temporary office. And we should point out, the architect of the Capitol insists this is not a trailer, but a mobile or modular unit.

CHAMBLISS: Oh, well, yes, we're pretty uptown in Georgia. We manufacture thousands and thousands of these every year.

And they used to be trailers. We've now upgraded them to mobile homes, because that's really what they are. It's not a trailer anymore, But it's a pretty nice-looking facility. And you see, we got great skirting going around there. That keeps the wind from getting under the mobile home to keep the temperature from going down. It cuts down on our heat bill. We're being mighty efficient with the taxpayer dollar.

KARL: Well, let's take a look inside and see what you got.

CHAMBLISS: OK. Notice we've got good solid doors.

(LAUGHTER)

KARL: All right, over here?

CHAMBLISS: And we've got my chief of staff, my office manager and my assistant in here.

KARL: We've got to take a look at your chief of staff here.

CHAMBLISS: And you can see, we decorated pretty darn good to make it look really first class. We actually got telephones and those sorts of things in here that work and work like they're supposed to.

KARL: And you've got your entire staff on the phone. So, we'll let them work and we'll take a look at the rest over here.

CHAMBLISS: They're trying to impress you.

(LAUGHTER)

KARL: Are they really talking?

CHAMBLISS: Let's hope so.

Then you got my office, which is not much smaller than what my office was over in the Longworth Building, when I was a member in Congress. It was about maybe twice this big, but this is pretty nice here. And this is the other half. This is the double part here. See, we got 14 feet over that way and we've got another 14 feet this way. So, that what's make it a double-wide.

KARL: All right, so let me get this straight. You get elected to the United States Senate, get a major promotion from being over in the House, and you get an office that is half the size?

CHAMBLISS: That's right, about half the size. I spent $8 million to get elected to the United States Senate and I get an office that's half the size of what I had.

This is our workspace back here. We've got all of our staff assistants located in cubicles. But it's pretty efficient for them to get their work done. And everybody has a desk. And then, when I invite all the folks from the White House or some fellow agency down here to visit with us -- the secretary of the Navy was in here the other day. This is where we met, in this very lavish part of our office right here.

KARL: Well, Senator, thank you very much for the tour.

CHAMBLISS: OK.

KARL: And we'll see you when you get to the big offices.

CHAMBLISS: There you go. Come back and we'll show you the new one one of these days.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Yes. And we bet all trailer homes look exactly like that one. Thanks for showing us around, Senator.

Don't look now, but some extra uncounted ballots have been found in Florida. Up next: the latest election embarrassment for one south Florida county.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Under the believe-it-or-not category, state prosecutors investigating Florida's Broward County election office have discovered a tray full of unopened absentee ballots, apparently left over from last fall's election. "The South Florida Sun-Sentinel" reports about 100 ballots were found as part of an investigation into the office run by the Broward County election supervisor Miriam Oliphant.

Meantime, Europe's leading security organization has given Florida a passing grade for its performance in the fall elections. The Organization of Security and Cooperation normally monitors elections in developing nations. It observed Florida's vote at the invitation of the State Department. The shoe's on the other foot.

Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.

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