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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Aftermath of State of the Union Address

Aired January 29, 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: Now we turn back to INSIDE POLITICS and we want to thank you for joining us.
ANNOUNCER: The president's next steps on Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein.

ANNOUNCER: How will the final phase, as the White House calls it, play out?

Will Congress debate war with Iraq again? A top Democrat urges a vote and a top Republican says, Go ahead, make my day.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I would love to have Senator Kennedy standing on the Senate floor, saying the things that he has been saying recently.

ANNOUNCER: The State of the Union (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- every one's getting into the act. From the voters...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was kind of emotional, and that brings a lot to heart.

ANNOUNCER: ...to Democrats running for the White House.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Mr. Bush should get (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and certainly should not be given confidence of the American people, based on his State of the Union address last night.

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

WOODRUFF: And again, we thank you for joining us.

Well, President Bush may not have delivered the war speech, but his remarks last night about Iraq still echo loudly throughout the world and here at home.

In this post State of the Union address "Newscycle," the U.N. Security Council gathered behind closed doors to debate a course of action on Iraq. U.S. allies welcome Mr. Bush's plan to disclose new intelligence on Iraq's weapons program. Baghdad insists that Washington does not have evidence to back up its accusations.

In Michigan, Mr. Bush pressed on with his dual campaign against Saddam Hussein and for his domestic agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We need some life in this economy. We got people looking for jobs who can't find them. If the tax relief is good five years from now, it makes a lot of sense to put the tax relief in today. For the sake of our economic vitality, Congress must act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, the president's proposed 2004 budget is hot off the presses and will be released on Monday. The Congressional Budget Office, meantime, has a new estimate of the government's red ink. The CBO now forecasts a $199 billion federal deficit this year. That is up $54 billion from its projection last summer.

Well, the president's budget and domestic agenda are likely to be overshadowed in the days ahead by the threat of war with Iraq.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King.

John, the president keeps saying that the economy is important, but all the talk, or most of the talk, is Iraq.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, that's right.

Mr. Bush hitting the road today to focus more on the Medicare part of his State of the Union address than the economy, but certainly the president trying to focus his public attention, or most of it, on the domestic agenda at the same time the administration says it is entering what the White House itself calls the final phase of the diplomacy when it comes to the showdown with Saddam Hussein. So Mr. Bush, even in that Michigan speech today, dedicating a good portion of it to Iraq.

The White House says this final phase will look like this: the president meets tomorrow with the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, a key ally; then with the British prime minister Friday and Saturday, Tony Blair, another key ally. Secretary of State Powell goes to the Security Council next Wednesday.

He will deliver a presentation that, we are told, will include newly declassified U.S. intelligence that the administration says proves Iraq is hiding things from the inspectors on the ground in Baghdad.

Following that presentation, the administration will issue a direct challenge to the Security Council saying, its credibility is at stake if it does not back up the words of Resolution 1441, which calls for one final chance for Iraq to disarm and then serious consequences if Iraq does not comply with the terms of the resolution.

The president himself said today he still hopes this can be resolved peacefully, but at the same time he said he does not believe Saddam Hussein could be contained, and he believes the United Nations must rise to the challenge.

And Judy, the president alluding to what he called an honest debate here in the United States about the wisdom of going to war with Iraq at this moment, the president saying, though, he is determined to lead the country, as he believes he is doing, in the right way despite, all though he did not mention it specifically, rising calls from members of Congress, the president and senior aides here at the White House are saying, Look for three weeks of tough diplomacy. By the end of February, the administration wants clarity on where this crisis is heading.

WOODRUFF: So John, stepping back, is the president really leaving any openings for somehow for war to be avoided?

KING: Well, we are told by senior officials that one option still on the table if the United States believes it will bring France and bring other key security members along, it has not ruled out another resolution in the Security Council that would set a final deadline for Iraq to fully comply and fully cooperate. That would avoid war if that happens. They're quite skeptical here it would.

Secretary Powell said today that perhaps Saddam Hussein would be convinced to leave the country and that would avert war, although, again, they are very skeptical that will happen.

So yes, they say, there are some small opportunities, if you will, to avoid military conflict, but they say the president is determined to bring all of the questions to a conclusion in the next three weeks or so. He would like the support of the Security Council. If he cannot get it in those three weeks, he will move outside of the United Nations.

WOODRUFF: All right. John, thank you very much.

Well, Senator Edward Kennedy, whom we mentioned a minute ago, says President Bush has not made a persuasive case for a war against Iraq. The senator is preparing to take his complaint to the Senate floor, and he's not the only one.

Our Congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl has more on all this from Capitol Hill -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy.

You also have Senator Robert C. Byrd, who is actually on the Senate floor right now making his statement against the prospect of immediate war with Iraq. Both of these two senators speaking back to back on the floor of the Senate represent the two most senior Democrats in the United States Senate. Between the two of them, 90 years of service in the Congress, and now emerging as the two strongest anti-war voices in the Congress.

What Senator Byrd is doing right now is he is calling for a resolution that would say the president must first go back to the United Nations Security Council to get authorization to use force. I'll read you from his resolution that he is about to introduce.

It says -- quote -- "Before initiating any offensive military operation in Iraq, the United States should seek a specific authorization for the use of force from the U.N. Security Council."

That's the case he's making right no, and when he's done, you're going to see Senator Ted Kennedy come up and make his case for his resolution.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes are 77, the nays are 23.

KARL (voice-over): The vote was overwhelming last fall to give the president the authority to wage war against Ira. But Senator Kennedy says much has changed, and Congress should vote again.

(on camera): You didn't vote for the last one. Would you vote for this one?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D) MASSACHUSETTS: If the president is able to demonstrate that we are facing an imminent threat from Iraq. He has not made that case. That case has not been made. I am a member of the arms services committee, I have attended the briefings, I have attended the secret sessions. That case has not been made.

BUSH: And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military and we will prevail.

KARL (voice-over): Kennedy remained seated during some of the toughest war lines in the president's State of the Union address and has emerged as the leading anti-war Democrat in Congress.

But his proposal highlights the deep division among Democrats on the prospect of war. While most Democrats are harshly critical of the president for moving fast on Iraq and alienating traditional U.S. allies, they are not willing to go as far as Kennedy in opposing war. And Democratic leader Tom Daschle stopped far short of supporting Kennedy's call for another vote

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: We ought to have one last opportunity to think very carefully about what our options are before we make that commitment. I don't think that has to take the form of a resolution, but I do believe, as the first resolution dictated, that there has to be the kind of partnership created with the Congress and in the international community before we make a final decision about committing troops.

KARL: The top Democrat on the foreign relations committee was less diplomatic.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Kennedy's idea would not pass. I think, quite frankly, the president has the constitutional authority to go -- to move. He's keeping this commitment. He's going back to the U.N. again. He has not called for, you know, it's over. He said, You're getting your last chance, which means that there's going to be more inspections. The question is whether it's, you know, three weeks or three months. I don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Now Senator Byrd, in some very tough talk right now on the Senate floor is saying the president has turned the overthrow of Saddam Hussein into a personal crusade and has run rough shod over the United Nations.

As for the Republicans, they have reacted incredibly negatively to Senator Kennedy's proposal. They haven't had a chance yet to react to Senator Byrd's. But several top Republicans say this is simply an effort to delay and would only serve to give comfort to Saddam Hussein and allow him to think that he can keep the United States divided and to delay action against him.

But as you also heard in the open of this show, Judy, Senator -- Congressman Tom DeLay, majority leader in the House, says, basically, go ahead and make my day. Let's have another vote. He knows full well that if there were another vote, it would certainly pass.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jon, thanks very much. Interesting to see the differences among the Democrats.

Well Ted Kennedy's resolution will give the Senate Democrats running for president yet another chance to weigh in on Iraq. The 2004 contenders all ready have had plenty to say about President Bush's State of the Union address and much of it hasn't been pretty. Here's our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two years from now these guys hope to be giving the speech not coming to hear it. But for now, they can only critique. The rule of thumb for the '04 gang is this: thumbs down on the economy.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president has no economic proposal that will stimulate this economy. And worse yet, he's driving us deeper and deeper into deficit.

CROWLEY: A "calculated and cynical speech," said former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. The president is "talking about things he has no intention of doing."

But it is thumbs up on Iraq. Richard Gephardt called Saddam "a serious threat to U.S. security interests. We must," he said, "do everything in our power to confront Iraq and other rouge states that might share weapons of mass destruction."

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think last night the president made the case quite effectively and I appreciate it. He spelled out why Saddam threatens us, and why this is really his last chance -- Saddam's to live by the promises he made.

CROWLEY: Last night was an easy call for the most hawkish in the '04 field and for the most dovish. REV. ALL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We feel that Mr. Bush is continued to play games with the American public and the world community. If there is any direct evidence that would in any way, shape or form justify military action, he should have spoken to that last night.

CROWLEY: Americans say the economy is their biggest concern and the '04 Democrats think they're on terra firma there. But Iraq is shaky political territory for the presidential hopefuls and it shows.

John Kerry said before the president's speech, he thinks Saddam is in material breach of the U.N. resolution. After the speech, Kerry took on the president for practicing "a blustering unilateralism that is wrong and even dangerous for our country."

They are arguing the edges of the war, that U.S. allies have been treated arrogantly, that George Bush hasn't explained things well enough. That there is no end game.

LIEBERMAN: I don't see adequate steps by the administration to be prepared for the day after our victory in Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: They are in fact not opposing the war but raising enough questions to flash their foreign policy savvy and provide some cover, should it all go bad -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy, thank you very much.

There is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS as we comb the world for state of the union reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Excuse me. HI, my name is Jason. I'm with CNN. We're just asking people whether they watched the president's speech last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

BELLINI: No? Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was busy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: We're pretty sure the party chairmen watched the president's speech and they'll have a lot to argue about. That's coming up next.

Later, international outrage. A stunning front page tells part of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider in Tel Aviv. George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon. What do they have in common? Maybe more than you think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS Rudy Giuliani to the rescue. We'll tell you what happened.

Plus, Jim Traficant may be gone form Capitol Hill, but his spirit lingers on. We'll explain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time to check your "IP IQ." Seventy-four percent of the people who watched President Bush's State of the Union address in 2002 had a very positive reaction to that speech. How many people who watched last night's State of the Union said they had a positive reaction? Is it A: 50 percent, B: 60 percent or C: 70 percent? Stay with INSIDE POLITICS. We'll tell you the answer later this hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The political impact of the president's State of the Union address is already the subject of debate. A short time ago I spoke with Republican Party Chairman Marc Racicot and his Democratic counterpart, Terry McAuliffe. I started by asking McAuliffe if he thinks President Bush strengthened his hand heading into the third year of his presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Well I think any president who gives a State of the Union will help themselves. Anytime you have the ability to speak to 50 million Americans will help yourself.

I think he helped himself on Iraq. I think he gave a very good speech. But I've said he's always had good speech writers, so I give the president credit for that.

We are disappointed. Obviously we have strong disagreements on his tax policy; 8.5 million Americans out of work today. I don't think he addressed the issues domestically. Domestic security which so many people are concerned about today.

As you know, household income is down last year, this year it's down again. People are concerned. Health care costs up. Education costs up. Seven trillion loss in the stock market.

People are very concerned about their own personal welfare. And I don't think he did a very good job last night of addressing those issues.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Marc Racicot?

MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well as a matter of fact, personal income is up according to the information that I've seen.

I think the president was typical of how (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he address his issues. He was direct, he was confident, he was calm. And he spoke about a bold plan to bring about the economic recovery with even more speed.

And I think the tax plan and the jobs plan that he has for the people of America, frankly, most of it is based upon things that Congress has voted on. And they've already approved. He's just saying if it's good then it ought to be better now.

And there's just overwhelming proof that in fact if it's implemented it'll benefit the American people in substantial ways.

WOODRUFF: Let me cite to you both from a poll that CNN/Gallup "USA Today" did last night. And we want to explain that this poll tends to be -- it's people who watched the speech tend to be more Republican, they tend usually to belong more to the party of the president who's delivering the State of the Union.

But among views of the speech, 49 percent said that they think the president's economic program will bring the country out of it current problems. But after last year's State of the Union address, addressing this same, you know, audience of viewers, 73 percent said they have confidence in the president economic (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

So I guess my question is, what's going on here? Has there been a noticeable drop? (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

RACICOT: I think quite frankly the president has said that, Look, things are not turning around as rapidly as we want them to turn around. That's why I'm going to be as bold as I possibly can in steering this economy into the ways that I can. Government an can't do everything, but you can certainly set a context within which creativity and imagination of people can do things.

I have no question about the fact that now we've gone through a period of time, in addition to the period last year, were we haven't seen the recovery be as fast as we want because of international terrorism. Because of the recession that began before his watch that he wants to reinspire the economy.

WOODRUFF: What about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MCAULIFFE: I find it surprising that 50 percent of the people think he's doing a good job handling the economy and won't get the economy moving again. As you said most of the people who watch are of the president's party. So this is of Republicans. I mean, this is the same trend that we're seeing. They don't think this president has shown leadership. He has changed his economic team but hasn't changed the play book. The plan that he has out there is not going to stimulate the economy. We have some very serious issues we have to face. How are we going to pay for all this?

WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn you quickly to Iraq. That took up a large portion of the president's speech. The same poll of viewers before the speech you had 47 percent saying they support the idea of U.S. military action. After the speech, 67 percent. The president picked up something like 20 percent of the people who were watching. So Marc Racicot there is the -- president did get a lift how far does that take him?

RACICOT: He's not going to make judgments on the basis of polls. With all due respect, they're an important indicator of what people might think of the moment. The fact of the matter is he gave a litany. A bill of particulars that is overwhelmingly convincing to the American people. And I believe ultimately will be to our allies as well.

This is a different moment in history. We've ever faced the terrorism we face now. Clearly this president has to address it in a different fashion. As a consequence of that, I think you'll continue to see public opinion galvanize around the leadership he's providing.

MCAULIFFE: As we have consistently said, I think the majority of Americans feel that, we all want to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

How do we do it? what's left over after we do it?

A multi-nation coalition like the president's father did in the early '90s when involved in the region before is the right way to go. I am glad he's sending Colin Powell up to put more evidence on the table. When the evidence is there and they lay it out, we're going to go in alone or with a multi-nation force. Let's continue to get the information out there so we can go in as a multi-nation force, a multi-nation coalition, so we can continue to have stability in the region.

WOODRUFF: All right. Before I let you note, Marc Racicot, has decided that he will have his name before the members of the Republican National Committee. Is that right?

What does that mean?

RACICOT: It means that I'll stand for election and probably damage the ratings of this particular enterprise by some substantial margin.

WOODRUFF: Stick around for another two years.

RACICOT: Yes, another two year term.

WOODRUFF: Which is how much longer Terry McAuliffe is going to be around.

RACICOT: I could not stand to not be here.

MCAULIFFE: How could we not be together every day? He'd have no fun in his life, you know. WOODRUFF: We hope to have you back many times. Early and often here on INSIDE POLITICS.

Great to see you. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: You heard the adult supervision line. Well, after the interview we expect Marc Racicot, headed off to if Republican National Committee winter meeting that kicks off here in Washington today. Among the highlights a Friday speech by Vice President Dick Cheney.

In the line of fire. Coming up the controversy over South Carolina's governor. Will he do his duty?

But first the big news today from the Fed is no news. Rhonda Schaffler joins us live from Wall Street with a look at your money.

They didn't do anything, did they -- Rhonda?

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CORRESPONDENT: They did not. That was seen as welcome news here on Wall Street. We had one of these sessions where the market was all over the place ending with modest gains. The market did turn following the Fed's decision to leave interest rates alone for the time being. The Dow closing up on the session, coming back from a triple digit decline this morning. And that came in reaction to President Bush's comments on Iraq last night. The Nasdaq tacking on more than 1 percent.

The Fed's decision to leave its key short term interest rate unchanged at 1.25 percent was totally expected. The Fed all left its bias unchanged, saying risks remain evenly balanced between inflation and weakness. Policy makers opted to keep rates at four decade lows while they wait the economic impact of a possible war with Iraq. And also President Bush's proposed tax cuts. The Fed did say the economy should improve once war fears ease. And just a few moments ago our parent company AOL Time Warner said it is taking a $45 billion charge. That is to reflect the decline in it value of it America Online division. And that is the very latest from Wall Street.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, students speak. How college students are responding to the pro-speck of war with Iraq.

Time to check your "I.P. IQ." Seventy-four percent of the people who watched President Bush's State of the Union address in 2002 had a very positive reaction to that speech.

Earlier we asks of the people who watched last night's State of the Union what percentage said they had a very positive reaction?

Is it a, 50 percent, b, 60 percent or c, 70 percent?

The correct answer is a, half of those polled said they had a very positive reaction to the speech.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting, President Bush has not quieted all the Democratic concerns about the Iraq policy. In fact, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy has gone to the Senate floor to, among other things, argue that Congress should have a chance to vote before they proceed with military action.

Lets listen to Senator Kennedy.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Poised to pull the trigger of war. I'm delighted to work with Senator Byrd on this issue and I'm a co-sponsor of his resolution. We share the goal of the insuring that war will be the last resort. That if we do have to go to war in Iraq it will be with the support of Congress, the American people and the international community.

In light of the chained circumstances since the previous vote by Congress, I am introducing another resolution supporting the inspection process and requiring the president to obtain approval from Congress before committing American troops to war. This decision may well be one of the most important that any of us will make. On January 27, the inspectors submitted a report to the Security Council about Iraq's cooperation with weapons inspections.

Chief Weapon Inspector Hans Blix stated that Iraq has so far cooperated rather well, but that additional cooperation is necessary. The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency said inspectors have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since the elimination of the program in the 1990s. And that inspectors should be able, within the next few months to provide credible insurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program.

WOODRUFF: Senator Edward Kennedy, on the Senate floor at this moment, at this hour, arguing, as you just heard, that Congress should have a chance to vote before the U.S. takes military action. Also arguing the U.S. needs the support of the international community before military action is taken.

Well, this nation's college campuses often serve as an early barometer of how the country will respond to the prospect of war.

CNN's Jason Bellini spent some time today at Emory University in Atlanta to see what students there thought of last night's State of the Union address.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jason Bellini at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where we've been going around today fishing for students' reactions to the State of the Union address.

Now, the first thing we noted is that most students, probably more than half the students we spoke to today, weren't even listening last night when the president spoke.

Did you watch the speech last night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I'm sorry. I missed it.

BELLINI: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was intramural basketball in the gym.

BELLINI: And that's more important than hearing what the president had to say about our country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the playoffs.

BELLINI: Among those who did tune in last night, just about everyone said they were paying the closest attention when the president spoke about Iraq. And they said he didn't change their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a younger brother who just turned 18. I'm 22 myself. You understand? We have lives that are going to be pretty much disrupted should we go to war or continue to go to war with Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea.

BELLINI: After hearing the speech last night, do you think that a war with Iraq is more or less likely?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's very likely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think going to war is a really big mistake, especially considering all the problems we have inside the states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first, I was completely against the war. But as he's released more information and he's more confident about it, I think that...

BELLINI: So the speech last night really had an impact on you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, in that sense, it did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way he presented stuff, it sounded convincing. And I think, like, if I wasn't...

BELLINI: But are you still against it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Right. If I didn't already have my own opinions about it, I would have been persuaded.

BELLINI: The big issues of last night: jobs, taxes, Iraq. The overall sense I got here is that, for most of these students, all of those issues seem a bit far from home at the moment.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: All right, the view from one college campus.

More INSIDE POLITICS coming up. When we come back from this break, a report, a live report from North Carolina, the site of that pharmaceutical plant where there has been an explosion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now to talk more about the State of the Union speech: Margaret Carlson of "TIME" and Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

Tucker, how much did the president help himself?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I think he helped himself quite a bit, laying the predicate for what's going to be a much more elaborate argument in favor of going to war with Iraq.

But in the short term, I think he outmaneuvered Democrats, kind of amazingly, on two issues that should have been theirs: AIDS and Africa; and alternative energy. He laid out a pretty eloquent case for both of them. These are obviously Democratic issues. And it just shows how completely disorganized the Democratic Party is that they waited for a Republican to bring them up at a public forum like this. It's kind of amazing.

WOODRUFF: Margaret, what about this proposal for hydrogen- powered cars? Does this deflect criticism that the president is in the pocket of the oil and gas industry?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Well, there's so many other things that the Bush administration hasn't done on the environment. They have a very bad reputation, clean air, clean water, so many things, that this is a good gesture and it's really important, especially since, remember, when SUVs came up as whether they would be considered light trucks or something else for mileage purposes, so they would be using less gas, the Bush administration just let it go. And so they get to have this very low mile-per-gallon fuel usage.

And on the AIDS thing, by the way, I think Senator Bill Frist had a huge impact on that and talked the president into doing it and maybe making it a Republican issue, because, remember, it was Secretary of State Colin Powell's top issue before he came secretary of state and got involved in other matters.

WOODRUFF: Well, Tucker, let me read to you a quote from John Kerry, Senator Kerry.

He said, -- quote -- "He," meaning the president, "talked about fighting AIDS in Africa, but he pulled the rug out from under Bill Frist and me last fall when he had the chance to make America the world's leader in fighting that pandemic."

T. CARLSON: Yes, I got that e-mail at 10:04 last night from Senator Kerry's office, a sort of instance response to the speech. It's pretty lame. It's kind of beneath Senator Kerry's usual high standards.

The fact is, this is the first president to say, we're going to spend billions of dollars to tackle this problem. Remember that when Bill Clinton left office, in one of his 300 or 400 farewell statements that he gave, he promised that he would spend the rest of his life fighting this problem, this AIDS epidemic in Africa. And, of course, he's done no such thing and, instead, just given a lot of speeches.

Really, in the final analysis, it's guy who stands up and says, this is how much money we ought to spend on it who gets the credit for it. And that's President Bush in this case.

WOODRUFF: So, he does deserve credit, Margaret?

M. CARLSON: He does.

And, Judy, I think it shows that Senator Bill Frist's influence has grown. And to the extent we say, the majority leader and the president are now on the same page, I think is partly proved by this.

WOODRUFF: Tucker, let's talk about the Democrats.

We've been hearing, they're backing off, to some extent, on Iraq. They don't want to look as if they're the peacenik party. But, on the other hand, do they need to keep some distance with the president? Or do they get any mileage out of the positions that they're taking on it?

T. CARLSON: No.

If their position is a pallid imitation of the president's position, which is what it is, with some exceptions. Senator Daschle got up the other day and said, we're not even sure that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. But if, for the most part, they just sort of nod and smile grimly when the president talks about Iraq, are you going to win on that? Voters are going to pick the real thing, Bush.

The only thing Democrats can make this a good issue for themselves is to outmaneuver him to the right and bring up, say, Saudi Arabia. Why aren't you tougher on Saudi Arabia or Syria or Iran, etcetera? But they'll never win from the left.

WOODRUFF: Margaret?

M. CARLSON: Well, they missed an opportunity last night. As good as Governor Gary Locke was, he was good for Governor Gary Locke, because he showed himself to be a very adept politician. But he didn't respond to the president.

And some Democratic leader should get up there on the spot and respond, instead of having a speech that's already in the teleprompter that tells us about Gary Locke's grandfather, but doesn't really make the case that those who want to move cautiously or think Bush needs to make a better case could do.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to leave it there, Margaret Carlson, Tucker Carlson, great to see you both. Thank you very much.

T. CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

M. CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And we're going to go quickly to Kinston, North Carolina, where a spokesman is describing the situation at the site of that chemical -- I'm sorry. -- pharmaceutical plant where there was an explosion. They said there have been eight fatalities.

Let's listen.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: They've now been working in real bad conditions, with the smoke and the heat an things. What are you doing now to keep them safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?

QUESTION: What are you doing in terms of keeping the firemen hydrated, keeping them from being exhausted?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got water. And then their vital signs are taken. They'll sit out for a while. They kind of cool off, kind of refresh a little bit and then are sent back in. And I have really got to go.

WOODRUFF: So, again, we're reporting on the aftermath of a terrible explosion at a plant in Kinston, North Carolina, about 90 miles from Raleigh, the capital. They have said at least eight people now confirmed dead, a number of other injuries, including some very critical people being flown to burn units and hospitals around the state of North Carolina.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We want to go back to North Carolina now, the story of a pharmaceutical plan in Kinston, North Carolina, where there was a terrible explosion this afternoon, at least eight people dead.

We want to join now Heather Moore with News Channel 14.

HEATHER MOORE, NEWS CHANNEL 14 REPORTER: That's right, Judy.

We are here in Kinston, North Carolina, where there has been a big explosion at West Pharmaceuticals here in Kinston. As far as we know, right now, all we do know is that it was a big explosion. And that is what has created this large cloud of smoke right here behind me.

I have gotten quite a bit of information throughout the afternoon. One of the most important pieces of information, in speaking with a former employee, she told me that there are at least 150 employees on a typical day on the day shift. Family members of people working at West Pharmaceuticals are being asked to meet at Emanuel Church. Now, we are told that employees that were in West Pharmaceuticals earlier today, when the explosion occurred, were brought to a staging area just outside of the facility. And they were treated in terms of those that were most injured were treated first. There were several rescue helicopters were brought in to transport them to area hospitals.

Officials tell us that at least 20 peel have been transported and they are going to area hospitals by ambulance, by helicopter. Even military helicopters have been helping to get patients out of here. We have seen two busloads of employees. We are told that these were employees that were OK, maybe just scratches, things like that.

They were taken out of the Global TransPark. Again, that was two buses. We were told that they were taken to a meeting area at Emanuel Church, where family members were asked to go and meet. A former employee also said that most of those employees just suffered from burns and scratches.

Reporting live in Kinston, Heather Moore, News 14, Carolina.

WOODRUFF: All right, Heather Moore, thank you for that report.

Again, a terrible explosion at a pharmaceutical plant in Kinston, North Carolina, at least eight people confirmed dead. CNN, of course, continuing to follow this story.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We begin our "Campaign News Daily" with more news related to Iraq.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has decided that he will serve if called to active duty in the Air Force Reserve. The governor also says he will not resign as governor if he is given an extended deployment. Sanford joined the reserves just last year and was elected governor in November. As we reported yesterday, he faced public criticism after suggesting he might leave the reserves if called to active duty.

Former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun hasn't decided yet if she's running for president, but her travel plans suggest she's thinking hard about it. Moseley-Braun has accepted invitations to speak in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over Presidents Day weekend next month. Her audiences will be organized by American Women Presidents. That is a group that encourages women to run for the White House.

More than $300 million in state spending cuts are now planned for the state of Oregon following yesterday's defeat of a 5 percent income tax hike. Voters turned back Measure 28 by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. The possible cuts include 129 state trooper jobs, state assistants to thousands of low-income seniors, and some community mental health programs. Also, $95 million in public school spending may be cut.

Well, earlier, we heard some snippets of what Democrats are saying about the president's stand on Iraq. Now let's do a little more reading between the lines with Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, for the Democrats running or thinking about running, how do the president's remarks in any way, or if they do, change the dynamics?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the real turning point, Judy, was the Hans Blix report on Monday.

I think there's a subtle but unmistakable shift in emphasis from some of the Democrats after that. Joe Biden gave a speech on the Senate floor yesterday in which he said, yes, the president should take more time, try to accumulate more international support, but after that report, Saddam is in breach and that we may eventually have to act alone.

John Kerry said something similar in an interview with reporters yesterday, saying that he would be open to a resolution that would give Iraq only a 30-day deadline to comply after the Blix report. That's a big shift in tone from him from the week before, where he gave a speech saying that, in effect, Bush was rushing to war.

WOODRUFF: Do you think the Democrats would like to put more separation between themselves and the president?

BROWNSTEIN: I think they are under a lot of pressure to do that from inside the party. Clearly, the momentum has been building among Democrats to have a more oppositional posture toward this.

But, again, the Blix report I think really took the edge off that by making the case that, while Saddam may be cooperating on the process of inspection, Blix argued he is not cooperating on the substance of disarmament. And I think, in the end, that makes it hard for Democrats to camp out too strong a position of opposition, even though that resistance is still there. Ted Kennedy signaled that today.

But I also noted that Gary Locke, in his response to the State of the Union, reverted to the campaign posture for most Democrats, embracing the president on the war and national security and trying to move as quickly as possible to homeland issues.

WOODRUFF: Very, very quickly, you mentioned Ted Kennedy, Bob Byrd. You're saying basically that their effort isn't going anywhere?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it's going to be very hard to get that. Tom Daschle didn't endorse it today. And I think many Democrats are going to be reluctant of going too far out on a limb on opposing this, because it puts them in a position, in effect, of being dependent on Saddam behaving. That was the original dynamic last fall. I think it recurs now.

WOODRUFF: OK, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

Well: how the State of the Union played outside the U.S. Up next, our Bruce Morton has the international reaction to the president's speech.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The president's State of the Union speech was more than an address to the American people. It contained plenty of messages for the international audience as well.

CNN's Bruce Morton samples world reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush's announcement that the U.S. would give the U.N. new evidence against Saddam Hussein drew praise.

John Howard, prime minister of Australia, a U.S. ally.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: By going back to the Security Council with this new material, the Americans are using the United Nations process.

MORTON: South Koreans liked Mr. Bush's nonthreatening approach on North Korea and its weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I agree with the peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue, but I hope South Korea participates actively to resolve this issue as well.

MORTON: But on Iraq, the speech changed few minds.

Zhang Qiyue, spokesman at China's Foreign Ministry:

ZHANG QIYUE, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The Iraq question should be settled diplomatically with a U.N. framework.

MORTON: Some ordinary citizens agreed. Businessman Lee Minjet (ph):

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think we should look up to the United Nations. The U.N. represents the will and interest of the international community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think China should oppose the war, but I don't think China should support Iraq. China should be neutral.

MORTON: Same view in Indonesia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't agree with an American war in Iraq. Can't we find another way to peace?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it's right. That's it, period. It's as simple as that. War is a no-go for me.

MORTON: France and Germany still oppose a U.S. invasion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As I interpret George Bush's speech, on this question, Bush recognizes the place for decision-making is the U.N. Security Council.

MORTON: He may be the only one who reads it that way. Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, answering questions from opposing members of Parliament, is an ally.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And another question is shouted at me. When do we stop? We stop when the threat to our security is properly and fully dealt with.

MORTON: But on Britain's streets, a lot of skepticism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a bit distressing that they're calling for action so quickly before there's been some more evidence of what's going on Iraq.

MORTON: A bitter Russian view.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there's nobody for America to compete with, so they're dictators now.

MORTON: And in Baghdad, official denunciations and some comments from civilian Iraqis. Sincere? You decide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say to President Bush, is all this words in his speech is lying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I say to President Bush, why you attack Iraq? What is the purpose of attack Iraq? Please explain why.

MORTON: Mr. Bush has said why, of course, but people in different places hear different things. Around the world, the speech seems to have changed few minds.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And we have some breaking news to tell you, a development of great interest for those of us at CNN.

And that is that the founder of CNN is resigning his position as the vice chairman of the parent company. And that is AOL Time Warner. It was just announced moments ago by Dick Parsons, Richard Parsons, who is the chairman of AOL Time Warner, that Ted Turner will step down his position as No. 2 in the corporation in the company. He has been vice chairman. All we know at this point is Mr. Turner's statement said, among other thins, he wants to make room for other people. His resignation will be effective this coming May. Ted Turner, he's meant a lot to CNN.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Please stay tuned to CNN for updates on that terrible explosion at a North Carolina pharmaceutical plant, eight people dead, and the surprise announcement that just came down moments ago, Ted Turner stepping down from his position as No. 2 at CNN's parent company, AOL Time Warner; Ted Turner, of course, the founder of CNN, someone who will be missed very much around here.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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