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John Kerry to Undergo Cancer Surgery; New Tape Allegedly of bin Laden Surfaces

Aired February 11, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: A presidential campaign interrupted. Senator John Kerry is set to undergo cancer surgery. We'll examine his health and his political future.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We place no limitations on our expectation on what al Qaeda might do to survive.

ANNOUNCER: New U.S. warnings about al Qaeda and a purported message from Osama bin Laden about a partnership with Iraq.

From commander-in-chief to armchair analyst. Bill Clinton talks to us about Iraq, the economy and more.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

One hour from now, on Capitol Hill, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is expected to announce that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Senator Kerry is scheduled to have his prostate gland removed tomorrow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has more on this breaking story. Candy, what is the Kerry campaign saying?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, three main things. That it is very early, that it was caught in a very localized place and that it is --quote -- "very curable."

In fact, the Kerry campaign has gone out of its way to say, Look, the doctors say this is over 95 percent curable. Senator Kerry's father did die of prostate cancer in his 80s, so Senator Kerry has been pretty vigilant about getting his test. And, in fact, it was during a routine test that they noticed some of his levels were up. They checked further. They did indeed find this very localized, very early stage cancer.

They say, Look, we expect he'll number the hospital about three days. We expect it will be a couple of weeks. He will be up and running, not literally, but running for the presidency as soon as he possibly can. They expect him to sail through this.

They put out a lot of paper. They intend to put out a summary of his health records. They want to be on top of this right away and they want Senator Kerry out there answering questions and put it sort of all in the open so they can do it, get past it and move on.

WOODRUFF: Candy, as far as we know, Senator Kerry has been in good health for the most part. Is that right? We know he's a Vietnam veteran.

CROWLEY: Yes. They say he's healthy as a horse, I believe was the word that one of the aides used, according to the doctor. And they also said, Look he is a poster boy for early detection, so...

WOODRUFF: Well, we will be talking some more about this story as we go on. Candy Crowley, shank you very much.

And now we want to bring in CNN's medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, there you are magically on the screen.

What about this surgery? It's been done with greater and greater frequency. What exactly is involved here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's involved here, Judy, is removal of the prostate gland, which you mentioned.

Now Senator Kennedy -- Senator Kerry's surgeon, he's Patrick Walsat (ph) of Johns Hopkins has pioneered -- excuse me -- a surgery that will help preserve some of the nerves. And I'll talk about that in a minute,

Let's take a step back and talk about something that Candy mentioned, which is that the senator's prognosis is very good. Now the reason for that is that the cancer is still within the prostate gland. It hasn't spread anywhere.

Also, the senator is a relatively young, he's 59 years old. He's a relatively young man when it comes to prostate cancer and also he's in very good health.

And also, another point that we need to make is that when all of those things are true, the survival rate is somewhere between 85 and 95 percent. That's according to the American Cancer Society.

Now I mentioned before about preserving the nerves. When we talk about prostate cancer, they don't just talk about whether -- talk about survival. They also talk about quality of life. So, for example, when a man has his prostate removed, it can make him incontinent. It can also make him impotent.

However, his doctor did pioneer this surgery that preserves the nerves. And what that means is the senator has a less than 1 percent chance of being incontinent and a less than 10 percent chance of being impotent. The surgeries are improving all the time.

The senator is in very good company when it comes to prostate cancer. Many politicians have been diagnosed with the disease, including Rudy Giuliani, Jesse Helms, Senator Bob Dole. And in the entire country, about 220,000 men every year are diagnosed with prostate cancer. About 29,000 of them die -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Elizabeth Cohen with those prognosis figures, it's -- there's a lot more hope out there for all of these men.

COHEN: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much, Elizabeth.

Well, a little later on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll look at the history of candidates with health problems and how their illnesses have affected their political lives.

And now to a troubling new message believed to have been sent by Osama bin Laden. Less than an hour ago, the Arab television network al Jazeera aired what it says is a recording of the al Qaeda leader claiming a partnership with Iraq, and calling on Muslims to unite in defending the Iraqi people.


OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): We are following very carefully the preparation of the crusaders to invade the Iraqi land and taking the wealth of the Muslims and installing a regime that has Tel Aviv and Washington on its head to run you. In preparation for the establishment of greater Israel, God forbid, we want to let you know and confirm to you that this war of the infidels that the U.S. is leading with its allies and friends.

First, we are with you, and we will fight in the name of God. This is not for the leaders or nations to win, but this is God winning.


WOODRUFF: Our national security correspondent David Ensor has listened to the al Jazeera tape.

David, two things. Are your sources absolutely convinced that this is bin Laden and, second, what do they make of what's said here?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, first of all, on the authenticity question, officials say that this is a much better quality audiotape than the previous one that was said to have been Osama bin Laden. That time they were talking about the interview perhaps having been -- the comments having been record over a telephone line or something and there were many more questions about its authenticity.

This time they are saying, the early read is, that yes, this is indeed the voice of Osama bin Laden himself. There will be a technical analysis done to the tape by the experts over at the National Security Agency. That may take a couple of days, but, again, they think this is really him.

WOODRUFF: And what do they make of the message here?

ENSOR: Well, they're struck by the message -- by the fact that here you have Osama bin Laden calling for Muslims to support Iraq, calling for Iraqis to fight the American infidels. He mentioned Saddam. He doesn't say he supports him, but he says he supports Iraq.

In fact, they believe that this tape may help the administration make its case that there is -- that there are ties or at least there is agreement between al Qaeda and Iraq -- that they both oppose the United States.

It may, in fact, in some ways, help the U.S. in the belief of some U.S. officials. At the same time, of course, in the Muslim world, in the Arab world, there are many who are very angry at the United States. This could resonate with some of them, and could also help Iraq -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Ensor, national security correspondent.

Well, even before al Jazeera acknowledged that it would air that audiotape, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Congressional committee that he had reviewed a transcript of the message.

Let's go now to our State Department correspondent, Andrea Koppel. Andrea, you know in the past, the administration has, at times said, We don't want you to listen to what Osama bin Laden is saying. Now they're out there pushing this. Why?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reason is fairly obvious. You've got the Hans Blix, Mohamed ElBaradei report on Friday to the United Nations. This was the sort of Iraq link to terrorists, what some believe to be the weakest link, if you will, of the case that Colin Powell presented last week before the U.N. Security Council. He made the WMD case, he made the humanitarian case and then there were, you know, he chose his words very carefully when he was talking about links between Zarqawi, one of Mohammed -- one of bin Laden's lieutenants, and the Iraqi regime.

You'll notice, though, that Secretary Powell, though he mentions the fact that bin Laden expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people, he never says with Saddam Hussein, leaving out there for interpretation, Judy. But the hope is that the Bush administration hopes that people listening to this tape will say, Ah-ha, this is the remaining bit of evidence we needed to hear.

WOODRUFF: Andrea, moving ahead to Friday, we're expecting the report back to the U.N. from the chief weapons inspector. Is the administration, the State Department, are they already now working on a possible second U.N. resolution authorizing force?

KOPPEL: Yes. In fact, they've been working on various drafts of a resolution for some time now. I'm told that the one they are working on most closely with the British at the moment is somewhat moderate restrained, if you will, draft in which the U.S. would remind Security Council member that when they signed on to 1441 back in November, that it said that Saddam Hussein was already in material breach of previous Security Council resolutions and that his behavior to date was further demonstration of that, looking for perhaps an introduction of this draft sometime later this week, Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Andrea Koppel, thank very much to you and to David Ensor.

Well, CIA Director George Tenet today repeated the Bush administration's view that the al Qaeda network has a presence in Iraq. Tenet and Fbi Director Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. They warned al Qaeda may be planning attacks with chemical weapons or radioactive materials in the U.S. or the Middle East, perhaps as soon as this week.

With fears of a new terror attack on the rise, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle offered some sharp words about Bush administration policy.

Our Congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl is with us today from New York. Jonathan, first of all, what did Tom Daschle have to say, and why?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some extraordinary criticism from Senator Daschle. He said the administration has a lack of commitment, a lack of real commitment and a lack of direct attention to finding Osama bin Laden and destroying the al Qaeda network. And then he went on to make this rather extraordinary statement.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: As I look at the threats presented to this country, the threat posed by bin Laden and al Qaeda, the threat posed by North Korea, our lack of real coordination with regard to homeland defense and this new admonition that people ought to go out and buy duct tape as a response, falls far short, I think, of anyone's expectations and ought to be reconsidered. We have to do better than duct tape as our response to homeland defense.


KARL: Now Senator Daschle is talking about the guidelines that were put out by the Department of Homeland Security for preparedness, including those suggesting that people have duct tape and plastic on hand to seal off a room should there be a chemical or biological attack.

But there's been no direct response from the administration this. However, we did reach Tom DeLay via Blackberry. And Tom DeLay, the majority leader for the Republicans in the House, said only, quote, "I can think of another use for Daschle's duct tape," and had nothing further to say than that. A senior aide to DeLay said that the point is Daschle is hitting the president where he is strongest, which is his approach to fighting the war on terror.

But also, Judy, what is significant about what Daschle said is if you look at what he described the preeminent threats facing the country. He mentioned Osama bin Laden, North Korea, lack of coordination on homeland defense. He did not mention Iraq. So stay tuned to see what this means about further criticism of the president's approach to the situation in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Stay tuned indeed. All right, Jon Karl reporting from New York today.

Well's there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Up next...


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The problem we've got now in the rest of the world is that they think that the administration made up their mind to go to war and depose him months ago and that the U.N. is just an impediment in the way.


WOODRUFF: Bill Clinton shares his unique perspective on the lead-up to possible war with Iraq.



GARY HART, FORMER SENATOR: When we engage in military conflict in the Middle East, the threat to this country will skyrocket.


WOODRUFF: Democratic warnings of the dangers at home if there is war with Iraq. That subject in the CROSSFIRE.

And we will analyze John Kerry's new cancer diagnosis by looking back at other candidates whose health problems have been under the microscope.


WOODRUFF: When this man speaks, people listen. Coming up -- what Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had to say today about the president's proposed tax cuts.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time to check your "I.P. I.Q." Georgia's Governor Sonny Purdue launched a new initiative at the state capital in Atlanta yesterday. Was it A: statewide weight loss program, B: a referendum on the state flag or C: a pledge to improve Atlanta's traffic problem? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.





CLINTON: ... but I think we want two things out of this -- to come out of this crisis. We want to disarm Iraq. That's really important, and that's why I supported the administration on this, but we want to do it in a way that strengthens the world community so that over the long run we're building more partners and fewer terrorists and fewer enemies.

We may not be able to get both things done. Maybe President Bush and Secretary Powell are right. Maybe in the end, the rest of the world just has no will to carry out the U.N.'s decision that's 12 years old now that he has to be disarmed.

But we don't know yet know that, and I always tell people, when you got the only real super military in the world, you can kill people next week or the week after that, or the week after that, but you can't bring them back. So I don't see that it hurts our country any to give Mr. Blip a little more time if that's what he wants.

WOODRUFF: So if key members -- if members of the U.N. Security Council say they will not support any more resolutions with regard to Iraq, supporting the U.S., do you believe the U.S. should go ahead and initiate military action on its own?

CLINTON: No, that's -- first of all, we're not there yet.

WOODRUFF: But we could be there...

CLINTON: We could be there. Let me say this: I do not believe, as a matter of law, international law -- let's talk about the law first, that President Bush is required to go back to the United Nations and get another resolution because there have been several resolutions since 1981 saying he has to disarm, and the last one clearly implied that if he didn't, military force, not further sanctions would be the penalty.

Now, just because he doesn't have to go back military doesn't mean he shouldn't do it politically. I believe, politically, we could get another resolution through the U.N. if Hans Blix says either that, I have completed my inspections and I'm satisfied that he still has substantial stocks that he will not turn over, or if he says, It is impossible for me to do my inspections because, look at those pictures Colin Powell showed, they're taking stuff out the back door when my guys come up to the front door.

And -- I'm only suggesting now that we don't need to do this today or tomorrow, Hans Blix has integrity, he is not in a pack with Saddam Hussein, he has been really tough on them. President Bush even cited some of his finding in the State of the Union address.

So what I am suggesting is, the policy of the United States should be, until we play this thing out a little more, to achieve two things. Let's disarm Iraq. If at all possible, let's do it in a way that strengthens world unity, and I am still not sure we can't get that. Legally does he have to go back? No.

WOODRUFF: But if that -- if that support on the part of the Security Council isn't there, should the U.S. then be -- should it then be moving ahead on its own?

CLINTON: I don't think we should do it today. If Hans Blix says...

WOODRUFF: But you are saying there may come a day...

CLINTON: There may come a day. Well, suppose Hans Blix says, Look, to the best of my ability to determine it, there are 10,000 gallons of VX. There are substantial quantities of anthrax and botulinum, which makes botulism, and aflatoxin (ph), there are 34 warheads that can carry this stuff, and five or 10 missiles to deliver it, and he won't give it up.

And the U.N. says, I'm sorry. We didn't mean that other resolution. We just don't have the will to do this. Then, if the administration decided that they thought military force was appropriate, I would be inclined to support that, because I think it's important that we not allow loose stocks of chemical and biological weapons.

But I don't see why -- the problem we've got now in the rest of the world is that they think that the administration made up their mind to go to war and depose him months ago, and that the U.N. is just an impediment in the way. If we let Hans Blix do his job, we can convince the rest of the world that we -- that the president was serious when he and Secretary Powell went to the U.N., that we honored the resolution of the U.N., that we've bent over backwards.

Then, if they don't go along with us, or if -- let's say -- Russia doesn't, or one or two other countries don't, more countries will come to us, and it will be much more like Kosovo where the world will still be with us. After the Kosovo conflict, even though the Russians couldn't go along with it in the U.N., we were much more united as a world, and the Russians went right into Kosovo and helped us enforce the peace. That's why I want to see us get as close to that as we can, and I am still not sure we can't get there.


WOODRUFF: Coming up, my conversation with Bill Clinton continues. He will talk about his role as a former president.

Well now back to the story we talked about earlier and that is the audiotape that is alleged to be the voice of Osama bin Laden discussing his connection to Iraq's Saddam Hussein. For White House reaction let's go quickly to our Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, what they're saying about it?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, this is a tape that works both for and against the White House. I just talked to a senior administration official who says it simply reinforces the argument that al Qaeda is linked to Saddam Hussein. That official saying, I'm quoting here, "that it reinforces that bad guys hang out with other bad guys and they swim in the same cesspool."

On the other hand, it works against the administration in that it reminds us that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11 is still alive and well. To that I asked the White House official, How did they react? He says that it is more than just one person talking about that the war on terror. Also saying that if he's alive, we'll get him and he says we're actively working with a coalition to break up terrorist organizations, and act of terror every day.

So the administration again saying this only bolsters the president's case for the need for this war on terror and that it is a global one -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, two sides to this. Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Alan Greenspan said today that the threat of war with Iraq makes it difficult to forecast the economy. And he warned Congress about budget deficits soaring out of control. Greenspan also said that he's not totally convinced that new tax cuts are needed to bolster the economy.


ALAN GREENSPAN. FEDERAL RESERVE CHMN.: Faster economic growth alone is not likely to be the full solution to currently projected long-term deficits.


WOODRUFF: Greenspan's comments may not be welcome words at the White House. President Bush is pushing, as you know, $1.3 trillion in tax cuts to spur economic growth. So how did the Fed chairman's comments play on Wall Street? Well, Gregg Clarkin joins us now live from the New York Stock Exchange with an eye on your money. Greg, what did they do?

GREGG CLARKIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Fed Chairman Greenspan's comments did give a lift stocks very early in the session as the Fed chief really said nothing unexpected on Wall Street.

But stocks did a sharp U-turn shortly after 11:00 a.m. when Secretary of State Powell made that first reference to the taped statement believed to be Osama bin Laden. That reignited investor jitters about terrorism as we approached 3 p.m. East Coast time and excerpts were played, the Dow dropped to session lows, at that point was off 112 points.

Now by the closing bell, the Dow did manage to come back and ended up losing 77 points on the session. The Nasdaq fell 1 point. The S&P 500 also ended on the down side.

Meanwhile crude oil prices shot up to two-year highs. Oil gained nearly $1, moving above $35 a barrel. Prices have spiked 35 percent over the last three months.

And it may not be long until we feel those high crude prices at the gas pumps. But the largest auto club said that there's no justification for the recent serge in gas prices. And AAA warned the oil industry against gouging consumers saying the fundamentals just do not merit the high gas prices. But an oil industry group said retail gasoline prices are simply tracking the rising price of that crude oil. Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Two very different versions of that story. OK, Gregg Clarkin, thanks very much.

Next -- more of my conversation with Bill Clinton. The former president talks about his role now that he's left the White House.

Plus much more on Senator John Kerry and his prostate cancer surgery. Will it have an affect on his run for the presidency?


WOODRUFF: Earlier on INSIDE POLITICS, Bill Clinton gave me his views on the showdown with Iraq. During my interview with the former president, at Georgetown University, where he's sponsoring a conference on youth, he also talked about his life since leaving the White House. I asked him in light of the many projects he's been involved in, such as health care and education, AIDS, about concerns that he may be spreading himself too thin, and whether that's something that he thinks about.


CLINTON: It is. But let me say I think I can do what I'm doing now. Here's what I think the test should be: First of all, I think all former presidents should continue public service in some way, based on their physical and mental ability to do it, and their other interests. My test is I want to do the things that I think I cared most about as president, that will contribute to the world I'm trying to build, where I can still have an impact.

For example, I'm still widely interested in the Middle East, but I can't have an impact there. I mean, I do what I can privately, but I can't really have an official impact.

So I work on economic empower empowerment for poor communities in America and around the world. I work on education and citizen service, and I work on AIDS. That's basically what I do.

And if you look at what in the first two years, I think I always keep score by whether we did anything in the first two years -- Bob Dole and I raised $110 million -- we started right here in this very room -- for scholarships for the children and other dependents, spouses of people killed or disabled on September 11. We raised a fortune and done a lot of good work in India. We're doing a lot of good work in Africa. In the first week we were working the Caribbean, we cut the prices paid for AIDS drugs in the Bahamas from $3,500 per year to under $500 per year. They're now serving seven times as many people for the same money. I think just there alone we'll probably save 1,000 lives.

So I do think whoever said that is absolutely right: My biggest problem always is there's nothing I'm not interested in, so I tend to do too much. But I think if I stay in these areas where I think I can have an impact and have the ruthless self-assessment to score every year, to say, Oh, what have we done and are we actually doing things, I'm satisfied that after 10 or 20 years I'll feel pretty good about what we do.

WOODRUFF: The quote was, You didn't have the dogged discipline of Jimmy Carter.

CLINTON: But look at Jimmy Carter. Really! What does Jimmy Carter do? Every year, he works on Habitat for Humanity, he works on river blindness, he works on human rights issues. He has a big forums at the Carter Center -- all right? And he works on advancing -- he works on monitoring elections.

And he does, like, five or six things, and over 20 years -- you know, that's why I was glad he won the Nobel Peace Prize. I think more of those prizes should be given out for lifetime achievement, instead of one particular thing. It was sort of like a lifetime achievement award for him, which he really deserved. And after 20 years, it all amounted to something. But he never did just one thing: He did a lot of things.


WOODRUFF: And you can hear more of my interview with former President Bill Clinton tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS, when he takes on a critic of his White House AIDS policy and weighs in on President Bush's stand on affirmative action.

Up next, in the "CROSSFIRE": The White House is urging the Senate to stop talking and start voting on a controversial judicial nominee. But Democrats say they have the troops to fight on.



WOODRUFF (voice-over): Time again to check your "I.P. I.Q."

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue launched a new initiative at state Capitol in Atlanta yesterday. Earlier we asked: Was it, A, a statewide weight loss program; B, a referendum on the state flag; or, C, a pledge to improve Atlanta's traffic problem?

The correct answer is A. Perdue, who is 5 foot, 11 inches, and weighs in at 228 pounds, launched a weight-loss program. He kissed his favorite snack, the Snickers bar, goodbye and pledged to adopt and promote a healthier life.



WOODRUFF: America under a heightened threat level and a war looming in Iraq: Some say the White House isn't doing enough to keep the nation safe from terror -- the debate moments from now in our "CROSSFIRE."


WOODRUFF: With us now from the CNN "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University: Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

Tucker, are the Democrats making a mistake by threatening to hold up the first Hispanic nominee to the U.S. appeals court?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I'm not sure of the fact he's Hispanic has a lot to do with it, or, at least, I'm not sure we should admit that has anything to do with it. Racial politics is pretty low, no matter who is playing it.

But I think Democrats are making a mistake in filibustering a guy for no apparent reason. We've done this debate 15 times on this show and I've never heard anybody ever give a substantive reason, point to a single thing Estrada has said or written that's unacceptable. The line instead is, well, we don't know what he thinks. Well, that may be a problem. It's hardly something over which you filibuster somebody.

So, I think it's hard to win public support if you don't have a clear case. And Democrats don't.


PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": In fact, the opposite is true.

Mr. Estrada is apparently a very nice guy. He's a very well- educated guy. He's a very rich guy. But beyond that, we know he belongs to an ultra right-wing legal group, the Federalist Society. But beyond that, Judy, he won't tell us his views. Of course he's not entitled to a seat on the second highest court in the land.

And, of course, President Bush is playing racial politics on this. But he won't tell us his positions on issues. In fact, tellingly, he was asked whether he thought Roe v. Wade rightly decided. He said: I have never reviewed it the way a judge reviews it. Well, it turns out that's false. He was a clerk on the Supreme Court when the Webster case came up for certiorari. He did review it as a clerk the way, much the same way a judge would.

He did for his justice. But he still won't tell us his views on that or any number of other controversial issues. If he doesn't want to tell us his views, he doesn't have to. But he doesn't need to get entitled to a job on the second highest court in the land.

CARLSON: The idea -- you just heard the McCarthyism, the basic fascism of the position right there. He's a member of an ultra right- wing legal group, tarring him with nonspecific charges, making him...


CARLSON: Hold on. Settle down. Let me finish, Paul.

Making him sound like a nutcase, like someone whose views are completely beyond the pale, and then not spelling out those views. That is really a low tactic.

WOODRUFF: Paul, quickly.

BEGALA: He won't spell out the views, Judy. This would be very simple if he -- there is an honorable group of people who believe Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned. What's wrong with telling the truth, Miguel? Go before the Senate, if that's your view, and say: You know, Mr. Chairman, if you put me on that court, I will work to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Lots of people believe that.

But he's playing politics here. He knows it's an unpopular position, so he's trying to pretend he doesn't hold it.

WOODRUFF: To a subject that we've been discussing on the show: terrorism.

Quickly, I want both of you to listen to something that Gary Hart had to say last night at a speech in San Francisco.


GARY HART (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: We should not invade Iraq or kick open the Middle East hornets nest until this country is prepared for what I think are inevitable retaliatory attacks.


WOODRUFF: Sorry about that. It obviously wasn't during the speech. It was an interview.

But, Tucker, is Gary Hart right that we've got to be worried in the United States about retaliation?

CARLSON: Well, of course we do. I think everyone agrees with that.

Gary Hart went on to say, however, that the Bush administration and the United States government was acting out of -- this is almost a quote -- secret aims of empire, that it secretly wanted to create an empire in the Middle East. It was really a disgusting statement, actually, completely irresponsible. We'll be talking about it tonight on "CROSSFIRE." I'd really like to hear the senator explain it. It sounded like an Al-Jazeera editorial. I'd like to know what he meant.

BEGALA: Well, of course, Gary Hart is exactly right.

We have got our priorities backwards. The president does seem hell-bent on a war against Iraq, even though containment has worked quite well for 12 years. We're not doing anything near what we should do, I think, to go after al Qaeda. And going after Iraq, will -- Gary Hart is right -- stir up inevitable retaliatory strikes against us, strikes that we are not prepared for because of our president's fixation on Iraq. Of course he's right. It's common sense.

WOODRUFF: Former Senate Hart and current Senator Daschle singing from the same sheet today.

All right, Tucker, Paul, good to see you both. And we'll be watching you on "CROSSFIRE."

CARLSON: Thanks.

BEGALA: Thanks, Judy.


Straight ahead: Now that Senator John Kerry is set to undergo prostate cancer surgery, will health questions dog his presidential campaign? We'll discuss Kerry's political prognosis and look at similar cases in the past.


WOODRUFF: Well, amid all the talk of possible war with Iraq, President Bush making some time this afternoon to deal with domestic issues, meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders.

He had this to say today about welfare reform and judicial nominations.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my pleasure to welcome members of both political parties from the House of Representatives to discuss how we can continue to make progress in -- on welfare reform.

The welfare law of 1996 made a significant difference in the lives of a lot of our fellow citizens. Our job now is to build on that progress. And I want to thank the members for being here. I look forward to a good and fruitful discussion.

I nominated a good man named Miguel Estrada for the Circuit Court here in Washington, D.C. Miguel Estrada is highly qualified, extremely intelligent. He has the votes necessary to be confirmed. Yet a handful of Democrats in the Senate are playing politics with his nomination, and it's shameful politics.

This man, this man is highly qualified and I expect him to be nominated, and I expect him to get fairer treatment than he's getting from those who are really playing against the spirit of the United States Senate.

And so I call upon fair play in the Senate for the sake of -- for the sake of a good, sound judiciary.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all very much.



WOODRUFF: President Bush focusing on domestic political matters, accusing the Democrats of playing politics with the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals here in Washington.

Now let's turn to Senator John Kerry's expected announcement that he will undergo prostate surgery. That announcement we expect less than a half hour from now.

Let's talk a little bit more about his personal health and his political future with our analysts, Jeff Greenfield, Ron Brownstein, and Bob Novak.

Bob Novak, to you first, because you've been very open. You had prostate cancer surgery...


WOODRUFF: Eleven years ago, and the same surgeon that John Kerry is going to use. What should he expect?

NOVAK: He should expect -- well, when I had it, I was in the hospital for a week and then I was home for two weeks.

But I just this afternoon talked to a friend of mine who also had Dr. Pat Walsh at Johns Hopkins operate. He was in the hospital 3 1/2 days. This was about two months ago, then at home for a week. So, he should be back at work in less than two weeks, if all goes well.

Pat Walsh is the greatest prostate cancer surgeon in the world. He invented this technique that used to just -- before that, the operation would create impotency or incontinence. And he's even perfected it more since I had the operation. So, if all goes well, John Kerry should be back running for president before you know it.

WOODRUFF: With as little nerve damage as possible.

Jeff Greenfield, if that's the case, how should this affect John Kerry's campaign?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Well, if everyone were rational and if the prognosis were as good as Bob suggests it is, it should not affect it.

The problem is that, sometimes, when people hear the word cancer -- this is less so than it used to be -- there's still a kind of uncertainty, almost a kind of fear about it. Second, there's a really hard political question to ask about whether or not people will feel that, somehow, John Kerry is less strong than he was.

You remember when Bill Bradley talked about his irregular heartbreak, a much less serious thing, in the middle of the 2000 campaign, it was a problem. I do think that the examples of people like Rudy Giuliani and Norman Schwarzkopf and Bob dole, who ran for president five years after prostate cancer surgery, and Bob Novak, who is clearly hale and hardy and as just as vigorous as ever...

WOODRUFF: And we're glad for it.


GREENFIELD: ... will actually help.

I do think people have grown up a lot about illness in general. And if John Kerry is open about this, it should -- and, remember, people don't start voting until next year. And he has the capacity to diminish this issue simply by going back on the political campaign trail and being a healthy, active candidate.

WOODRUFF: That being the case, Ron, that there are all these people running around, from Bob Novak to all these others, who are healthy, why should this have any affect on the campaign?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Jeff is right. It should not have any effect so long Senator Kerry, as we all hope, has a completely successful operation and returns to health. I think, if he can demonstrate his health over the course of the months ahead, it will diminish this issue.

Part of the reason it was such a problem for Bill Bradley was when it occurred, right at the very height of the race, beginning in December in '99, then into January, with the revelation of more episodes, when the race was really at a crystallized point. I think Senator Kerry, as long as the operation goes well -- and Bob Novak say's there's every indication to think that it should -- has plenty of time to put this behind him.


NOVAK: Can I put in a plug for prostate cancer?

Thirty-thousand American men -- 30,000 -- die each year. And it's an extraordinarily painful death from prostate cancer. But, if you go, starting at the age of 40 years old, for an examination...

WOODRUFF: At 40 years old?

NOVAK: At 40, starting at 40 -- and almost everything is going to get it if you live long enough -- then it can be caught and you can have surgery and have a very productive life.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. One thing about the way Senator Kerry has handled this is, they do seem to have learned some of the lessons from the past.

WOODRUFF: They put a lot of information out there.

BROWNSTEIN: They've put a lot of information out.

And, really, I think that has been the issue -- for Paul Tsongas in 1992, the late Senator Paul Tsongas, who had survived lymphoma, a much more serious form of cancer in the 1980s, but faced questions about whether he was being fully honest about his medical records. Obviously, with Bradley, there were questions about disclosure. They seemed very determine and they say they will be very open going forward into the future making this information available. That could be critical.

NOVAK: Let me just correct you, Ron. There is nothing more serious than prostate cancer. It's a question of whether you catch it in time.

BROWNSTEIN: More threatening, yes.


WOODRUFF: Jeff, go ahead.

GREENFIELD: The only thing I would add, very quickly -- and we're all -- we've covered politics for a long time among the three of us.

To be blunt, I do raise the issue of whether or not John Kerry, on the political campaign trail, is going to have to be -- is going to be asked some extremely, extremely personal questions, questions that Bob alluded to. Is it any of our business whether or not John Kerry is incontinent or whether he is impotent? Will anyone dare ask him that? And, if so, is it going to leave some sense among voters that they are uncomfortable?

Should it? Absolutely not. Could it? I'm a little less certain of it.


WOODRUFF: Well, if the standard is whether it has any effect on someone's ability to perform the job as president...

NOVAK: And, Jeff, he can be asked these questions and, particularly with Pat Walsh operating, he can give the answer, no, it doesn't affect it. And I think people have grown up a lot on cancer. And we all live so long now that cancer strikes most of our families. And we've gotten used to it.

WOODRUFF: Well, we just hope that all of the men who have anything to do with program and all of you men who are watching get that test Bob Novak mentioned.

Thanks to Jeff and Ron and Bob. Thank you all. Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS: There is word that Senator Bob Graham of Florida -- speaking of people with health problems -- is close to taking a big step toward the run for the White House -- that and much more in our "Campaign News Daily" when we return.


WOODRUFF: In today's "Campaign News Daily": Associates say that Florida Senator Bob Graham plans to file papers launching his presidential campaign in the next two or three weeks. That will allow Graham to start raising money. But he won't make a formal announcement about running for the White House until mid-April. Graham had said he would delay a decision until after his recent heart surgery and recovery.

INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Ron Ziegler, press secretary for President Richard Nixon, died of a heart attack at his California home yesterday.

Here now is CNN's Bruce Morton with more on Ziegler and his key role in the Nixon White House.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When he was in college, he was a guide on Disneyland's Jungle Tour boats. He joked later that it was good training for politics.

He met H.R. Haldeman while in advertising, worked with Haldeman in Richard Nixon's losing 1962 campaign for governor of California and his winning 1968 campaign for president. With Haldeman, he came to the White House, the youngest press secretary ever.

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Ron Ziegler was, by accident, press secretary of the president of the United States at 29 years old, without ever having served in the federal government.

MORTON: He didn't go to all the meetings. He was a spokesman who said what he was supposed to say on detente with Moscow, on China, whatever.

HESS: He did very well in a tough job for a very long time, until along came Watergate and a president who had a lot to hide. And he hid it from Ron. And Ron was out there taking the blows and which he could not defend himself. I have always felt very sorry for him.

MORTON: He called the Watergate break-in a third-rate burglary and said afterwards: I was right. It was. Who knew it was going to be anything more than that?

He didn't know about the cover-up. But the revelations kept coming. Ziegler conceded at one point that his previous statements on Watergate were inoperative. He apologized to "Washington Post" reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who traced the burglar's money to the president's reelection campaign: "When we are wrong, we are wrong, as we were in this case."

It wasn't easy. The president shoved him once, saying, "I don't want any press with me and you take care of it." But he was a loyalist, insisting in July 1974 that the House impeachment hearings were a kangaroo court. Facing impeachment, Nixon resigned less than a month later. And Ziegler went into exile with him in California.

Looking back, he said once: "I don't feel the need to apologize. There are some things, however, I would have done differently."


QUESTION: You don't want to talk to us?




MORTON: Ron Ziegler dead at 63.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And that is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.


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