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Homeland Security Opens With Plenty of Questions Unanswered; Bush Will Make Modernizing Medicare a Top Priority

Aired January 24, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Taking the oath to secure the homeland. But is the new department making us safer?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We have relied on a myth of homeland security instead of relying on good old-fashioned American ingenuity, might and muscle.

ANNOUNCER: We'll talk with Senator Hillary Clinton.

Taking a gamble with seniors' health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the electric -- all your utilities. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

ANNOUNCER: Does the president have a cure for the high cost of prescriptions?

Angry words in the California capital. Wait until you hear what some state Republicans are saying to one another.

A senator gets cooking. We'll get her recipe for Maryland crab cakes and the dish on Democrats.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: I guess it's like a little crab caucus and they figure out how they're going to stick together when they go into the frying pan. That's the way we Democrats feel.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

A new warning is out for Americans in other countries to be prepared to evacuate in case of an emergency, including the prospect of a terror attack. A senior state department official did not deny that a possible war with Iraq is behind the timing of the advisory.

Also in this "Newscycle," a major move to protect Americans at home. Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of homeland security, and his department opened for business. Within the past hour, Ridge touted the department's commitment to protect the nation, echoing Mr. Bush's words earlier in the day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Today marks another step in this country's effort to secure the homeland. Since the president signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law 60 days ago, the transition staff has worked around the clock to develop the organizational framework needed to refocus and reorganize the department's work force to accomplish the unified mission of protecting America.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At home we're taking every measure to protect the American people against a serious and ongoing threat. The Department of Homeland Security will lead a comprehensive and unified effort to defend this nation.


WOODRUFF: But some Democrats are questioning whether the Bush administration is doing enough. We'll hear shortly from New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

But first, our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley will join us.

Candy, why is homeland security one of the favored issues that we're hearing about these days among the '04 presidential hopefuls?


First of all, it's really the ultimate domestic issue, security and safety here at home.

And second of all, it's obviously very fresh on people's minds because of what happened at 9/11.

But more than that, four -- every one that is running for '04 that is in the Congress voted for the president's Iraq resolution, giving him authority to go to war. It becomes very difficult to criticize that, first, because there was that support, and, second, especially if there is a war. That's when politicians begin to get very uneasy about criticizing something when American troops are overseas.

Homeland security is something different entirely. It is a huge issue and it has a potential to go on for many years. The Gulf War if there is one, could be over soon. Homeland security is top on the minds of many people, and also is an ongoing concern.

WOODRUFF: Well, Candy, if, God forbid, there were another major terror attack, how would all of this play out? Of course, it's so hard to predict the future. But what is the thinking now? How would this play out in '04?

CROWLEY: Well, a couple of things.

First of all, if it happened before '04, obviously I think many people believe there always is this spurt of support around a president. However, you have all of these '04 Democrats out there who have either given major homeland security speeches or will give major homeland security speeches both criticizing the president for what he has and has not done and offering their views.

I think the time period between that sort of cooling off period when everyone feels that they don't want to say anything that they want to, you know, move through the process, is very short during an election cycle, and the Democrats are pretty well positioned to say, I said this, I said this, I said that. It's going to be very hard for George Bush to separate himself from anything that happens, should it happen.

WOODRUFF: And we'll talk about that in just a minute. Candy Crowley, thank you very much.

Speaking of which, in New York today, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took aim at the state of homeland security, saying the president's main idea in recent weeks, eliminating the dividends, tax will not save one police officer or make America more secure.

I spoke with Senator Clinton just a short while ago, and asked her if Tom Ridge is right, that the U.S. is safer now than it was before 9/11.


CLINTON: Well, Judy, I think that Secretary Ridge has certainly worked very hard, and I was pleased to support him for this new position, but I would respectfully disagree.

I think that we have made progress, but we have not done nearly enough to put the resources behind our planning and our rhetoric, and we certainly haven't done enough to make sure that, at our local community level, that the police and firefighters and emergency responders have the resources necessary to be our frontline soldiers, which, indeed, they are today.

WOODRUFF: And whose responsibility is it? Whose fault is it that that has not taken place?

CLINTON: Well, I think it is a problem at the top. I know that, repeatedly, the Congress over the last two years has tried to appropriate the resources that we thought would be necessary to protect our ports, to protect our borders, to provide some direct funding to local communities, and we've not been successful. And even with the omnibus appropriations bill passed yesterday, the across the board cuts and some of the other decreases in spending are coming right out of the very programs that we should be beefing up in order to provide the kind of resources that I think security demands. And certainly, when we look at the new Department of Homeland Security, they have a very long way to go to be in a position to better coordinate and provide the kind of leadership that we need nationally.

So across the board, I have to say that we aren't very much safer than we were on the morning of September the 11th.

WOODRUFF: Well, when it comes to funding, the president's budget director, Mitch Daniels, is now saying that the president is going to be unveiling substantial increases for Homeland Security in early February, in the next budget, and let me just read you something else.

He said, "We really cannot defend every square foot of America against every threat that some hateful person might concoct." He said, "we're going to have to get better at deciding what threats are most dangerous, most likely, and make sure we're putting our resources against them."

CLINTON: Well, Judy, I don't think anybody would disagree with the idea of prioritizing, but we haven't done very much at all.

I released a survey today where we asked the towns and cities around New York, from New York City to Buffalo, to tell us how much they've received in terms of federal help. And of the towns and cities responding, 70 percent said they haven't received a penny of federal help, and they're digging deep into their own budgets to protect their reservoirs, to respond to, you know, the anthrax scare that we had.

They're trying to deal with the problems that come from being near the borders, or being on a port, and, you know, it just is wrong to say that we can't defend everything, when I don't think we have defended enough yet.

Yes, we may have to make hard decisions, but this administration hasn't provided the funding that is needed.

WOODRUFF: Well, there are those, Senator, who say that when you and others charge that the Bush administration has not adequately funded and organized homeland security, that you are in effect setting this president up, and that if there were another terrorist attack, he would then be in a position to catch all the blame for it.

CLINTON: Well, I'm not interested in placing blame or pointing fingers. I'm interested in providing real security. And maybe I just feel more personally about this than some, because, after all, as a senator from New York, I have had the incredibly awesome experience of trying to help people who were directly affected by these awful attacks.

So today I tried to, once again, put our security needs front and center, and I'll look forward to hearing what the president has to say, but I think we have a long way to go before I honestly can tell my constituents that we are better prepared.


WOODRUFF: One of the themes of Senator Clinton's comments were that homeland security -- the United States has relied on the myth of homeland security and we just recently heard this response from the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

He said it is not a myth. He said that 170,000 people go to work every day in this department. It's not a myth that the information sharing has gotten better. He said, I it's rather unfortunate to categorize it as myth. Again, comments from Tom Ridge.

Well, the White House said today that President Bush will make it a top priority to create a modernized Medicare that includes a plan to provide prescription drugs for seniors. He reportedly is considering an overhaul that would encourage seniors to join private health plans to get prescription drug benefits.

Our senior White House correspondent John King talked to some older Americans, who will be listening closely to the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early afternoon at the Coney Island Texas lunch, a Scranton landmark for 80 years now.

Lucy Warner (ph) is part of a small staff that does it all, 30 hours a week at age 65. Not just to keep busy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I only have Medicare and they only pays for hospital and doctors. They don't pay for prescriptions, they don't pay for dental and they don't pay for eye.

KING: Even with steady work, she sometimes skips the doctor's appointment and leaves prescriptions for high blood pressure and other ailments unfilled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't do it. When you have $450 a month rent; you got a gas, bill electric, all your utilities, they come before you.

KING: This is an increasingly familiar scene in an aging America. Retirement delayed, in many cases because the drugs that help prolong life cost more than a fixed income can handle.

MIKE BROWN, OWNER, BROWN'S DRUG STORE: It's hard to see these people having to make a choice between, you know, you know, food and prescriptions. Some of them stretch them out. Maybe they don't take them every day, try to make a month's supply of medications last, you know, two months.

KING: A prescription drug benefit for seniors will be a priority in the president's State of the Union address. Little time in Brown's Drug Store, a reminder of the old adage that good policy can be good politics. Mr. Bush lost Pennsylvania in campaign 2000, but is aggressively targeting the state for 2004, already visiting 18 times in his first two years as president. A prescription drug issue could prove critical. In the last presidential election, nearly 20 percent of the state's voters were age 65 or older.

Some here at the South Side Senior Center get help from a Pennsylvania state program, but Joan Conroy (ph) is among the many whose the modest income is still too high to qualify.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A hundred and twenty-one dollars a month. I take, plus the max, which is all approximately $64 a month and I take Lotrel (ph) which is $58, approximately. Besides the vitamins that I have to take and everything else, I'm broke.

KING: The regulars give the staff a medical profile in case of an emergency.

KATHLEEN O'BOYLE, MGR., SOUTH SIDE SR. CTR.: Sometimes it's stunning, like to look at a piece of paper and see someone who's taking -- juggling 10 different drugs to stay alive, or to stay well, or just to be able to walk out the door and come here.

KING: Lunchtime often draws the politicians in election years. Reliable voters, but a skeptical bunch to say the least.

Bill Codd (ph) voted Bush, but now sees a president worried much more about Saddam Hussein than problems here at home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he could argue, like, for us like he does about that guy, we'd be in business here.

KING: Bill Flynn (ph) says the president's promise a new drug benefit sounds all too familiar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing is believing. This has been said so many times before and they couldn't get off the ground when Clinton was in. So, you know, it's long overdue.

KING: Ed Weller blames the Congress more than the president and says broken promises from the politicians are just another part of the daily routine.

John King, CNN, Scranton, Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: John King on the road.

Up next, how the Democrats assess the state of the union.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: They're concerned about their loss of pensions; they're concerned about loss of health care; they're concerned about their loss of jobs in many cases. So the state of the union is anxious today.


WOODRUFF: I'll talk with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle about politics and the economy.

And you'll want to hear what Daschle has to say about talk show host Jerry Springer.

Also ahead -- some Democrats take on President Bush with some unusually cutting words.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Tel Aviv. Maybe it's the jet lag. But this time around, I'm going to tell you how not to win the "Play of the Week."

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news from all over.


WOODRUFF: Coming up, war worries drive the markets down. An eye on your money when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle today unveiled his alternative to the president's economic stimulus plan during Daschle's speech in Cleveland, Ohio. Among the highlights: tax cuts for families, including a $300 rebate for each adult and for up to two children. He also called for an extension of unemployment benefits, along with new tax incentives to encourage business investments and job creation.

Daschle also proposed $40 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. I spoke with Senator Daschle a little while ago and I started by asking why he began today's speech by saying the state of the union is anxious.


DASCHLE: Well, Judy, I think people are anxious in this country for a lot of reasons: war in Iraq, the war on terror, the threat that is posed to us by terrorists abroad and maybe here at home.

But I think the economy as well. They're concerned about their loss of pensions; they're concerned about loss of health care; they're concerned about their loss of jobs in many cases.

So, the state of the union is anxious today.

WOODRUFF: Why is your plan to help the economy any better than President Bush's plan?

DASCHLE: Well, it's better because it does the things that the economists tell us we have to do to get the economy going again. It helps immediately. It's broad-based in that it provides meaningful help to those who can use it the most. It's fiscally responsible. It doesn't exacerbate the debt. And finally, it helps states in many ways where they need it so badly.

WOODRUFF: But President Bush's argument this week is with the tax cuts -- big tax cut plan, he's putting that money into the hands of business owners. They're going to plow that money back into their businesses; it's going to help create jobs.

DASCHLE: Well, Judy, the problem with that is that it doesn't do it this year. Only about 5 percent of the president's plan takes affect in 2003.

And secondly, about 226,000 millionaires are going get about $88,000 a year for here on out. The unfairness there just troubles me a great deal. You can't ask young men and women to go to war give up their lives and tell then tell every millionaire in this county they get an $89,000 tax break.

And it's reckless. It's going to drive up more of the debt. We're borrowing every dollar of what the president's proposed, and if you take all that he's proposed, it's $1.3 trillion in additional tax cuts. We can't afford that this year.

WOODRUFF: You've been meeting with a number of influential Democrats in the Senate trying to get them to sign on to your plan. So far among them, Senator Breaux, Senator Baucus -- so far, they have not done this. And by our count, there are at least three or four other Democratic plans out there in the House and the Senate, not to mention all the Democrats who are running for president, and their plans.

Isn't the fact that the Democrats are not united going to be fatal to any hope of getting -- of denying the president his plan?

DASCHLE: Well, not at all. In fact, just the opposite.

I think we've got a great deal of unity already. They may not have had the opportunity to see every final draft, because we've been working on this all week, but I am absolutely confident, Judy, that we will have broad unanimity, broad consensus and support of the plan I have just introduced today.

But I would also say this -- there is a great deal of division among the Republican side. You have an unprecedented number of Republicans who have come forth to say they can't support the president's plan; they will not support the president's plan, because it's reckless, because it's unfair and it's not stimulative.

WOODRUFF: Question about Iraq, Senator. If the Bush administration were to go ahead and initiate and ask Congress to support them in a military action against Iraq, without U.N. approval, which is a distinct possibility, would you and other Democrats go along?

DASCHLE: Well, our strong, strong preference is U.N. approval and U.N. support. I think it's critical that we do whatever we're going to do with the help of an international coalition.

To act precipitously, act unilaterally, especially in a preemptive manner would be a terrible tragedy and set all the wrong precedence and send the wrong messages to the world community. So I think it's essential that we get the kind of support through the United Nations and the kind of support of the international community that even the president acknowledged is critical to his success.

WOODRUFF: And if he doesn't, will you support him?

DASCHLE: Well, that's hypothetical, and we won't cross that bridge until we actually have to see what the circumstances are at the time. What I'll say this -- we need international cooperation. The United States must not and should not act unilaterally in this case.


WOODRUFF: Senator Tom Daschle.

Well we've heard from a number of Democrats today. What about the Republicans point of view? We hope to speak with the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist next week, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert will join us live on Tuesday in advance of the State of the Union.

Coming up, rating the secretaries. Which cabinet members are getting a passing grade?



WOODRUFF: How would you grade the members of the Bush cabinet? A national journal has issued its own report card and only Secretary of State Colin Powell gets an "A." Three other cabinet members get an "A-minus." The rest get "Bs" and "Cs," except for ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, who get "Ds."

Is President Bush making the grade? Different question. His declining poll numbers will be a topic in our "Daily Debate." Just ahead, so stay with us.



MIKULSKI: This is fun. This is not dainty. This is not delicate. This is not diplomatic core. This is crabs.


WOODRUFF: Coming up, we'll head into the kitchen for some home- cooked politics with the most senior woman in the Senate.

But first, this "News Alert."


WOODRUFF: And Tom Ridge says that he has promised President Bush he will work tirelessly in his new job as secretary of Homeland Security. Ridge was sworn in on this opening day for the new department.

Joining us now in Pittsburgh television talk show host John McIntire, and in New York, Deroy Murdoch of Scripps Howard News Service.

John McIntire, to you first. We have Tom Ridge saying our homeland is safer than it was before 9/11. On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton and others, you heard her earlier in the show, and other Democrats, questioning that. Who's right?

JOHN MCINTIRE, TV TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not sure who's right, but I'm dubious about Tom Ridge and his ability to get anything done, necessarily. When he was the governor of Pennsylvania one of his big priorities was to sell the state stores -- we're the last state in the Union with this anachronistic practice. He had the legislature under his control, both the House and Senate were Republican controlled. He couldn't get it done. Where the evidence is of this tremendous leadership abilities is escaping me.


MCINTIRE: Also as you may remember, and I don't mean to interrupt, but Bush drug his feet on saying we need create a cabinet- level department at all. Finally he came to conclusion that we did, but we lost time while he decided whether or not it should be cabinet level.


DEROY MURDOCK, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE: Well I think Tom Ridge is in a very interesting situation, because if there are no attacks throughout his tenure, we won't know if it's because of his competence or because of excellent intelligence on the part of the CIA or perhaps because al Qaeda just ran out of steam.

However, if there is an attack and something awful happens, he'll be the first person blamed. So it really is a thankless task he's embarking upon. And as someone who's used to being an elected politician, I admire the fact he's walking the situation where it's going to be so hard to take credit if things go well and so easy to blame him if thing go wrong.


MCINTIRE: ... as you know, the Justice Department is saying that many of the airports in to which people enter into this country have more holes in them than a block of Swiss cheese. So it sounds like to me we're still in big trouble.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both, just very quickly, I have one other question -- go ahead, Deroy, quickly. MURDOCK: Well, I was just going to say that there a lot of balls being juggled here among intelligence agencies, federal agencies, state police, local police, people at the airports.

The organization chart for this is just incredible. I hope it goes well. But I think the good news is, they'll be more coordination, I hope, of intelligence. If we can get the operations all synchronized, it will be very impressive, indeed.

MCINTIRE: Yes, a giant bureaucracy, that's what we need.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both -- we're going to change the subject a little bit. The president's poll numbers are starting to slide, three new polls out that show Mr. Bush's approval rating in the 50s. You see them there, between Pew and ABC and NBC.

My question is, is this something the White House should be worried about -- because, just a few weeks ago, they were consistently in the 60s, the president was -- or not?


MCINTIRE: I think they should be worried about it, but I think they are. Karl Rove just predicted the other day it will be a close election, which proves he hasn't completely lost his mind.

I think all of America went under the bed after 9/11, 2001. And they are just starting to peek their heads out now. And they realize this is the same mediocre guy who wasn't a very good president, that wasn't a very good president before 9/11, when his poll numbers were mediocre. It's callous and insensitive to say, but 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to George Bush, because it made him look like a strong leader because it scared us all to death.


MURDOCK: Well, I think the way for him to get his numbers back up are a couple things. One is to remind the American people why we're having this crisis, if you will, with Iraq.

It's not just weapons of mass destruction. That's become kind of a cliche, it's said so many times. It's weapons of mass murder. And I think he ought to educate the American people about what would happen if one or several of these devices went off in this country and put it in as graphic terms, so we understand what the stakes are.

No. 2, if do we have a war, win it decisively and quickly, at which point, his numbers will go back up; and No. 3, get his economic proposals passed, so this economy will get up and running again. And if those things happen, I think he will back up in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or maybe even higher.

MCINTIRE: Well, we passed the tax cut he wanted and the economy is still in the tank.

WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we're going to have to leave it there. Hate to cut you off. We're going to have to leave it there.

Deroy Murdock, John McIntire, good to see you both. Thanks very much.

MCINTIRE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Up next: Would Tom Daschle welcome Jerry Springer into the political fold?

Plus: The California landscape may be beautiful, but the current bickering among state Republicans is not.


WOODRUFF: Anyone who has followed the Trent Lott controversy knows that Republicans now are trying to improve their image on racial matters. But did anybody tell that to California Republicans, who already are something of an endangered species?

Consider this recent round of angry exchanges. First, the only black on the state GOP board, Shannon Reeves, complained that GOP leaders expect African-Americans to -- quote -- "provide window dressing and cover to prove that this is not a racist party. Yet our own leadership continues to do otherwise."

A white member of the GOP board, Randy Ridgel, sent Reeves a sarcastic letter, saying, "At my age, with the distractions of being a detestable, insensitive racist, I grow befuddled from time to time, but I just don't remember your being hired as our black window dressing."

Well, since that exchange, every Republican member of the California assembly has condemned the race-tainted backbiting, which stems from a bitter fight for the party chairmanship.

One assemblyman, Ray Haynes, wrote a letter saying -- quote -- "I can't believe that the leadership of the California Republican Party, or those who would want to succeed to the leadership, would engage in such childish behavior."

Well, Assemblyman Ray Haynes is now with us from Sacramento.

Mr. Haynes, what is going on out there among you Republicans?

RAY HAYNES (R), CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMAN: Well, at the party level, I will say, in this leadership debate that has been going on, some folks have decided to engage in some ugly campaigning.

And the reason I sent my memo out as sort of an open letter to all the Republicans in the state was, I wanted them to get over what's going on, over this fight that they've been engaging in and start talking about the good things that we've been doing, the things that we've been doing in registrations and elections. We picked up three seats in this last election. And this fight has been obscuring that whole discussion.

People thought we wouldn't do it. We did it. It's great things. And we're getting lost in an irrelevant fight.

WOODRUFF: Do you know of anyone in your party in California who you believe has racist views?

HAYNES: Well look, there's racists on the Democrat side. There's racists on the Republican side. None of the folks that are engaged in this fight are racists. I know that.

I also know that the rhetoric got real heated. And it has everything to do with people trying to take advantage of the Trent Lott circumstance to gain an advantage in the party leader fight in California. And that's what I found reprehensible.

WOODRUFF: Any signals from Washington, from the White House, from the Republican National Committee that they'd like to see all this come to an end?

HAYNES: Well, look, if I were them, I would be saying, bring it to an end. But I think this is a problem that the California Republican Party needs to solve on its own.

We need to start talking about the fact that we're registering in record numbers in the state, that our county parties are the strongest that they've ever been, that we've picked up three seats in the last legislative election, when people thought we wouldn't pick up any, that we've been doing the work that we had to do. And then to get involved in this kind of a fight at this time is quite...

WOODRUFF: But, with all due respect, Mr. Haynes, you wrote a letter, an open letter. You distributed it to everybody. The media got hold of it, in which you've criticized everyone involved. Do you think you helped the situation?

HAYNES: Well, yes. Well, my hope was that, by everybody recognizing what they -- their problem in the debate, that they'd all settle down, start acting like adults again, and start focusing on the positive within the party.

I think we're on the cusp here in California. I think we can do some great things if we get away from this sort of internal bickering and start doing the things that parties ought to do. We're going to take the state for George Bush in '04, if we stop this kind of stuff. And that's what my goal was to try to accomplish.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to sure be following what's going on. And we hope to be able to report on it when that happens.

Ray Haynes, California state assemblyman, thanks very much.

HAYNES: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

Well, he might be serious. But, then again, he's Jerry Springer. The outlandish TV host is once again hinting that he might run for statewide office in Ohio. Springer says that he'll decide by summer about a possible challenge to the incumbent GOP senator, George Voinovich, next year. Springer once served as the mayor of Cincinnati.

When I spoke with Tom Daschle today, I asked him about a potential Jerry-Springer-for-Senate campaign.


DASCHLE: He wouldn't be my first choice. I understand he was a mayor at one point, but I think we can do a lot better than that. And I'm sure Ohio will.


WOODRUFF: Tom Daschle.

A textbook example of campaign politics: up next, good examples of bad strategy in the race for Israeli prime minister.


WOODRUFF: Things are starting to get personal in the latest edition of "Campaign News Daily," where Democrats appear increasingly unafraid to go negative. Congressman Richard Gephardt ripped the White House tax plan cut yesterday to an audience of Democratic mayors. Gephardt described the plan as -- quote -- "some crazy scheme for double tax on dividends that nobody understands."

Senator John Edwards took his comments to the mayors a step further, drawing a class distinction with Mr. Bush. Edwards, who likes to say he's running for regular people, described himself as the mirror image of the president, saying -- quote -- "He comes from the mighty prep schools and his daddy was the president of the United States."

The negative tone was set earlier in the week, perhaps, by actor Ed Harris. After stating his support for abortion rights at a Washington dinner, Harris launched a personal attack on President Bush.


ED HARRIS, ACTOR: We've got this guy in the White House who thinks he is a man, who projects himself as a man, because he has a certain masculinity and he's a good old boy and he used to drink and he knows how to shoot a gun and how to drive a pickup truck, etcetera, like that. That's not the definite of a man (EXPLETIVE DELETED)


WOODRUFF: Actor Ed Harris.

In campaign news from overseas, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party is the heavy favorite in next Tuesday's election.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is in Tel Aviv this evening, where he's been keeping an eye on the Israeli elections -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, Judy.

I've been here in Israel all week watching their election campaign. Now, have I seen the "Political Play of the Week"? Not exactly. But I've seen a good lesson in how not win the "Play of the Week," because, this year, Israel's Labor Party, the party of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin has written the textbook on how to lose an election.


(voice-over): Here's how to lose an election, by the Israeli Labor Party. Lesson one: Choose a new, largely unknown leader, and give the voters just eight weeks to find out who he is.

That's what Labor did when it chose Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna on November 19. In the United States, Democrats have sometimes sprung previously unknown candidates on the voters. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton come to mind. But voters had a year to get to know them, not eight weeks.

Lesson two: Choose a dove when a major war is looming. Although Mitzna was a general in the Israeli army, he was the candidate of the left in the Labor Party. Many analysts here call Mitzna Israel's George McGovern. He wants Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and resume unconditional negotiations with Yasser Arafat.

AMRAM MITZNA, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE: I hope that we will have an partner on the other side to come to an agreement between the state of Israel and the future state of Palestine. And if not, we will unilaterally withdraw from places which we don't want to be there.

SCHNEIDER: Those positions are not unpopular with Israelis, but the timing could not be more wrong.

Lesson three: Insult the prime minister. Run an ad suggesting that, because of corruption allegations, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is like -- well, just listen to the music.

Lesson four: Refuse to give the voters what they want. Polls show what the voters want is a government of national unity, where Labor works together with Prime Minister Sharon at a time of national crisis. But Mitzna ruled out any collaboration with Sharon, after which, he immediately started sinking in the polls.

Follow all those lessons. And just like Israel's Labor Party, you will be sure to lose the election, not to mention the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Judy, the future does not look too good for the Labor Party either, because a poll this week in an Israeli newspaper shows that, among first-time voters in this election, Labor support is exactly zero -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Whoa. We don't even see it that low here in this country for either party.

All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much. We'll see you Monday.

What is cooking in the political world? Up next, we give a whole new meaning to that question, as we whip up crab cakes with Senator Barbara Mikulski. And we'll also tell you where to get her special recipe.


WOODRUFF: Now, for the inaugural edition of "Capitol Cooks," a little food spiced with politics.

Today's chef: Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, with her home state classic, Maryland blue crab cakes. Trust me, they are delicious.


MIKULSKI: Well, Judy, I'm thrilled to be able to do this. When it comes to talking about the Chesapeake Bay, I can talk longer than a filibuster.

But what I'm happy to do today is give you the recipe that really my mom developed. And it's a combination of Baltimore, the bay, and our own unique stuff. When you make crab cakes, you've got to have a binder. But you know what? It doesn't have to be bound like a book. Less is better. It's like legislation. You got to have something that holds it together.

And the way we do it, some people use cracker meal and all that. But my grandmother ran the best Polish bakery in Baltimore. So, our recipe uses bread, because we had lots and lots of bread. Then, the next thing you use is mayonnaise. Today, we're using just regular good old-fashioned mayonnaise. So, you take this and you just start just beating this up and fold and beat and mix and whatever.

And you see how we're just doing that? Doesn't that look good? And this is just a little mix. And we make sure that egg covers everything. And this is a little bit the way the Senate is now. You don't know quite what it looks like or where it's going, but it's going to be OK. Then we take two tablespoons of mustard. Now, life can never be too spicy, as far as I'm concerned, but you cannot overspice your crab cakes. So, I use Old Bay, which is the classic. You use two teaspoons. OK.

WOODRUFF: All right.

MIKULSKI: Now, we're going to take this and very gently put it in the binder. OK? And whatever you do, remember, these are like little diamonds. You don't mash them like potatoes. You don't mash. You don't mash. WOODRUFF: Now, you're almost lifting it up there, yes.

MIKULSKI: Well, see, that's right, because, if you do, you don't want to disrupt.

WOODRUFF: So, let me just ask you, while you're stirring here, as a Democrat, lifelong Democrat, is there agreement right now among Democrats in terms of what they want to accomplish, given the enormous popularity of this president?

MIKULSKI: Well, President Bush is popular, but, also, we're very close to the grassroots. And right now, we're looking at both national security, how to protect America.

And we're also looking at the other threat to America, which is the chaos that our economy seems to be going in. So, we're looking now as to, what is the best way to stimulate the economy? And what we're finding is, we disagree with the president.

WOODRUFF: Now, what do you hear from your constituents? How comfortable are they with the idea that there could be military action soon?

MIKULSKI: My constituents, from the conservative Easter Shore to the Baltimore-Washington corridor, are saying, stick with the United Nations. Make sure that whatever we do is multilateral. If Saddam is that big of a threat, he's a threat to the world. And, therefore, we need to have international legitimacy and international support.

Now, Judy, we're at the next best part of this. It's the actual making of the crab cake. What do you is, you take a little bit of crab. OK, in your hand. Some people use an ice cream scoop. I'm a hand-going kind of woman.

WOODRUFF: You want to feel it?

MIKULSKI: Yes. And then you do it, but it's got to be gentle. See, you have to make out you're holding like a bird or a frog. That's what my mother would say to me.


WOODRUFF: They look fabulous.

MIKULSKI: Don't they look -- and they taste fabulous. Just take a saltine.

WOODRUFF: These are just saltine crackers.


WOODRUFF: I can't wait.

MIKULSKI: Let's just do this.

WOODRUFF: Do -- you cut off -- oh, you just -- OK, the whole thing. All right. I'll do that.

MIKULSKI: OK. Now, this is one of the best experiences, other than being elected to the Senate, eating crab cakes. Here we go.


WOODRUFF: Oh, it's hot.


WOODRUFF: It's good.


WOODRUFF: They are delicious.

And you can get the recipe for Senator Barb's crab cakes on the senator's Web site. It is Just click on the little crab icon. And, by the way, we're going to be talking to some Republican members of Congress in the days and weeks to come about their own recipes.

We do have a little story update that we want to bring you. And that is, White House officials are saying, in his State of the Union address next week, President Bush, among other things, will say that Saddam Hussein has massive piles of weapons of mass destruction, as part of the president's effort to persuade the American people that military action may well be necessary against Iraq.

INSIDE POLITICS continues in just a moment.


WOODRUFF: We're just showing you what the governors say.

Sun, surf, the Super Bowl, and face time with House Speaker Dennis Hastert: That's what about 140 lobbyists will get in return for a $10,000 donation to the GOP Congressional Committee. The lobbyists will get two tickets to Sunday's game in San Diego and what one GOP official described as quality time with Hastert and other Republican leaders. For the Democrats, California Senator Barbara Boxer will host a fund-raiser at the Super Bowl for the party's Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Well, taking a stand as part of politics: And North Carolina Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards took a big risk with one recent statement. Edwards, who went to North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina, was quoted in "The Oregonian" newspaper as saying he -- quote -- "hates Duke basketball."

Careful, Senator. Duke graduates are loyal viewers of INSIDE POLITICS.

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


Unanswered; Bush Will Make Modernizing Medicare a Top Priority>

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