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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Another Antiwar Democrat Joins Presidential Field; President Bush Plotting Next Moves on Iraq

Aired February 17, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: This administration can't be trusted with the war power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Another anti-war Democrat joins the presidential field. We'll ask Congressman Dennis Kucinich why him, and why now?

A vivid reminder, it sometimes gets lonely on the campaign trail.

Live from Washington this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us. Well, as if Washington weren't already in a deep freeze from a paralyzing winter storm, a different kind of chill is blowing this way today from Europe. In this "NewsCycle," French President Jacques Chirac says his government would oppose the second U.N. resolution authorizing force against Iraq. He spoke at an emergency summit of the European Union, aimed at closing its split over Iraq. We'll have a live report from Brussels ahead. The meeting comes a day afer the NATO alliance resolved its month-long deadlock on defending Turkey in case of war in neighboring Iraq.

Here in the U.S. Capitol, President Bush is plotting his next moves on Iraq inside the snow-covered White House. Because of the winter storm, he returned from Camp David by motorcade yesterday, instead of the usual helicopter flight.

Well, for those of you who are not in the blizzard zone, our apologies if we seems a little snow-obsessed today, but you can't escape it here in Washington where the snow will keep federal government offices shut down again tomorrow. At least, 18 storm- related deaths have been reported since Friday along the snowbound East Coast.

And getting from here to there can be treacherous or impossible. We begin our coverage with CNN's Patty Davis at Reagan National airport. Patty, the airports, most of them closed down.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's true. Reagan National airport here in Washington, D.C. area, the one that's going to definitely remain shut down through today. Crews have been working so hard since 3:00 a.m. to get this airport open. But, needless to say, passengers who were here yesterday got stranded here. There were a few of them, they were laying on grates, heat grates overnight. The airport gave them blankets to keep them warm. But they've had little to eat because none of the restaurants are opened in areas that are accessible. People are still coming here to the airport. Looks like it may open tomorrow morning by about 7:00 a.m.

Now the federal government, as you said, Judy, appears now that it will be closed again tomorrow. A beautiful shot of Capitol Hill. You see here snowbound Capitol Hill. Well, people will not likely be returning there to work because of that federal holiday. And then over at the White House, snowbound, they've been work at both of those places to get those opened so that people can eventually return to work. Crews on the roads. People trying to dig their cars out. A festive atmosphere at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., where it is actually easier to walk rather than drive your four-wheel drive even or go by bus. We saw a bus earlier today being actually towed away, a hard time getting through the snow. So Washingtonians so glad that the snow has passed, and now the hard job of digging out and getting back to normal is under way. - Judy.

WOODRUFF: Okay, Patty, I can tell you from this morning, driving along what are usually very busy thoroughfares and seeing almost no cars, it was very strange. It was like we were in another land. All right, Patty Davis, thanks very much.

Well, this city may look like a frosty ghost town. But at least one resident wants you to know he's here and hard at work. D.C. Mayor Tony Williams cut short a vacation in Puerto Rico and returned here yesterday. Williams was mindful of the political perils that can result for city officials who mishandle a major storm. A prime example, Williams predecessor Marion Barry, who was criticized for being out of town during snow emergencies.

Well, a number of other Eastern cities have it bad or even worse. With about two feet of snow on the ground, Baltimore is just inches away from breaking its snowfall record. Philadelphia is expecting as much as 25 inches. Most of Pennsylvania has been under a winter storm morning, and Governor Ed Rendall has declared a disaster emergency.

Meantime, in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging residents to quote, "have a little patience" as the city works to dig out of one of the worst storms in its history. CNN's Daryn Kagan is in snowy Central Park. Daryn, yes, and it's still snowing there.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Judy. They said it was kind of calming down. But I got to tell you in the last hour, I think it's actually kicking up a little bit. Nineteen inches so far here in Central Park, the most anywhere here in the city at JFK International airport, 23 inches there. You mentioned Mayor Bloomberg. He has also declared the snow emergency. That means they are going to be able to use funds to hire private contractors to get the snow out of the way. Why is that important? Well, let me show you. Take a little walk with me.

The snow has to go somewhere, and it's turned into giant drifts. This is Columbus Circle, which is usually one of the busiest intersections in New York City. See this person right here? They're going to have a tough time getting their car out of the way. Also, Governor Pataki has declared a state of emergency for New York City. That means that they'll be able to use federal funds and state funds in order to help clean up this mess. This one, it might have calmed down in Washington, D.C. where you are, Judy, but it is far from over here in New York. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: It looks bad. And, Daryn, we're glad that our correspondents come equipped with snowsuits.

KAGAN: Actually, I didn't. There was one store open in New York City selling sporting goods at 10:00, and I found it.

WOODRUFF: Very becoming. Daryn Kagan, thanks very much. Well, the winter storm also has begun to wallop Massachusetts and other parts of New England. Let's check in with Victoria Block of our affiliate WHDH. She's in Revere, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. All right. Let's see what it looks like there. My goodness. A lot more snow.

VICTORIA BLOCK, WHDH CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it is brutal out here. We're getting tremendous wind gusts off the ocean. Lots of chunks of ice right along the sea coast here. Tremendous winds. There's a big problem with people coming out on the roads right now. The governor is asking everyone to stay off the roads. He was visiting many of the people and some of the homes in Revere here earlier in the day to make sure that they could evacuate if they needed to. We've got some plow trucks out here doing a good deed, just to move some of this snow around, so people like us can get out and move around.

The governor says that within the next 12 hours or so he'll make an assessment as to whether or not he'll need to call the National Guard out. Right now they have all state plows and heavy equipment out on the road. They are trying to get through some of the narrower streets and some of the main roads. But as long as people are out and driving, it's very difficult to navigate some of the narrower streets. So they are asking everyone to stay off the roads.

The Massachusetts emergency management agency is in full gear, and is set up in the bunker to deal with any issues that come along. They are worried about coastal flooding here. There's also always a tremendous problem with erosion and coastal flooding. And the concern is tomorrow at noontime, the tide is going to be up around 11 feet, and that's above normal. So that's what they'll be really looking for right now. But at this point, we're just expect expecting the worst to come within the next I am going to say five to six hours. This is just the beginning of the storm for us. Reporting live from Revere, I'm Victoria Block, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Victoria, you know, here in Washington, we're always told that we're not supposed to have enough snow removal equipment. But in a place like Boston, and in that area, we believe or we expect that you would have enough. What do officials say about that?

BLOCK: Well, right now they say that it's not much of an issue. And one of the good things about it is that it is a holiday. So a lot of the communities, even though their budgets are in trouble right now in terms of snow removal, they have a lot of equipment that was ready and geared up, and so it was ready to go. And so, there aren't the number of people on the roads right now that they'd have to deal with. So it is easier for them to plow.

But I think as the hours wear on, and we see how much snow we get and what the drifts are like, and where this takes us, they're going to know whether they need to call out some of the heavier equipment from the National Guard that is here in Massachusetts. And if they need to, they will. But in these kinds of situations they are always looking at anything just to see what equipment they have and where. And they're using everything right now and all the guys are on overtime.

WOODRUFF: All right, Victoria Block in what looks like a serious storm still moving through the Boston, Massachusetts area. Thank you, Victoria. Now we want to get an update on the power and the path of this storm as we've watched it move up the East coast. Here's CNN's Jacqui Jeras at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta, Jaqui.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

WOODRUFF: They sure are, Jaqui. It looks pretty when it's coming down but what havoc it can wreak. Jaqui Jeras, thanks very much.

Well, for more on this storm on the latest weather forecast, and preparation and safety tips, you can head to our special interactive report. It's all online at CNN.com/winter. Much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next, a Congressman throwing his hat into the presidential ring. I'll ask Dennis Kucinich what he would bring to the White House, and why he opposes war in Iraq.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Intensity matters, not just numbers, and the protesters are intensely anti-war, and anti- Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider on the peace movement and the message it's sending the White House.

And why did the Bush administration get wrapped up in the great duct tape debate? Did focus groups have anything to do with it?

It's time to check your I.P I.Q. Here in our nation's capital, we're grappling with well over a foot of snow. And city officials have declared a snow emergency. How does the severity of today's storm rank officially? Is it, A: The district's sixth largest storm ever? B: It's third largest or, C: The largest storm ever? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The latest Democrats hoping to challenge President Bush next year are vigorous opponents of a war against Iraq. Former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun is in South Carolina today after weekend stops in New Hampshire and Iowa.

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is also in Iowa. They both plan to file the paperwork for presidential exploratory committees tomorrow. Kucinich began his political career as a 23-year-old Cleveland city councilman. In 1977, he was elected Cleveland Mayor, the youngest ever to head a major American city. He election to the U.S. House in 1996, earning a reputation as an economic progressive. Kucinich is more centrist on cultural issues. He opposes abortion. Most recently he has made headlines as a vocal opponent to a U.S. war in Iraq. Congressman Dennis Kucinich is with me from des Moines.

Congressman, thank you for being with us. As I say, you are opposing this war. But in a recent poll of Democratic voters in state of Iowa, the first caucus state, the candidates who did the best among the voters are those who are supporting military action against Iraq. Those opposing a war are at the bottom of the pack. Why do you think you can do any better?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Well, first of all, one cannot take a poll to determine whether this nation should go to war. The administration hasn't made its case for war. I'm proud to have led members of Congress, 126 Democrats in opposing the war. And I'm the only candidate in this race who's voted against the war. There are no bases to go to war against. Iraq was not responsible for 9/11, for al Qaeda's role on 9/11, or for the anthrax attacks on our nation. Iraq cannot attack our nation. But if we attack Iraq, I think we'll make America less safe and more vulnerable to terrorism.

WOODRUFF: There are already candidates in the race, as we pointed out, who were against military action. You got Howard Dean, you got Al Sharpton, former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, which just mentioned. How are your views any different from theirs?

KUCINICH: Well, first of all, again, I led the effort in the Congress. I'm not new to this. And I'm glad we have a number of people whose voices are being raised in this. But this isn't just about Iraq. This is about an administration's policy, which is going to proliferate war around the world. This is about a policy of preemption and unilateralism of nuclear first strike. We need a foreign policy which is cooperative, which enhances our relationships with allies, not separates people. We need a holistic world view that views the world as interdependent and interconnected. So I think that I can make a statement that looks at in terms of a word view, and also look at a way of assuring our security through diplomacy, not through the use of nuclear weapons or through threatening other nations with war.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, you said in an interview with an Akron newspaper recently it would be "a cold day and possibly a snowy day in hell before a liberal Democrat would get back into the White House." If that's the case, how are you going to make it? KUCINICH: Well, have you been checking the stories on CNN today? All over America it's cold and snowy. So here I am, ready to run for president.

WOODRUFF: Seriously, seriously, though. I mean, the odds are very much against somebody who is outspokenly liberal as you aren't they?

KUCINICH: Well, you know what, though, I'm an FDR-type Democrat. And that is, get government for the people to make sure the people have jobs, and universal health care and protect social security. And when I take that message through this state and across this country, I think there's going to be real responsiveness to it. And also a message that war is not necessary. I don't think the American people want to go to war.

WOODRUFF: Let me just quote now a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, a man named Jim Dyke. He was asked earlier whether the liberal base in the Iowa caucuses could quote, "empower the more liberal candidates" -- including you - "and pull the entire Democratic field further to the left but making it much harder for the winner then to appeal to a national mainstream constituency in the general election. Doesn't he have a serious point here?

KUNICICH: You know, that's old thinking. I mean, if by liberal you mean that I want to protect social security, create jobs, make sure everyone has health care, then I'm a liberal. And I think that we need to bring back into the debate the old-time Democratic values. This is a struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party, which in too many cases has become so corporate and identified with corporate interest that you can't tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Well, in my case, you'll be able to tell the difference. I'll be there on the side of workers, on the side of the environment, on the side of fair trade, and on the side of peace. And I think that's a message which will resonate across this state and around the country.

WOODRUFF: And your position opposing abortion rights, you don't think is going to hurt you among some of the very progressives you are trying to appeal to?

KUNICICH: Well, I've made it very clear that I support a woman's right to choose, but I don't think that that is antithetical to wanting to create a culture of life where all choices are possible, where we can have abortions less necessary through sex education and birth control, and also to help life come through with prenatal care and post natal care and child care. So, I think we have to have a culture which affirms all choices and lifts this debate up. I consider myself someone who can lead this nation and get away from the polarization on this serious issue.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, announcing this day, he plans to jump into the presidential race for the Democratic nomination. Thanks very much, Congressman. Good to see you.

KUNICICH: Thank you very much. WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, in addition to Congressman Kucinich, there are three other Democratic hopefuls who are going to be attending a dinner tonight sponsored by the Iowa Federation of Labor. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Edwards, as well as former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Coming up, millions around the globe take to the streets to protest for peace. But will their voices make a difference?

Plus, nightclub doors, locked or blocked, and 21 people trapped inside don't make it out alive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Opponents of a U.S.-led war against Iraq made their voices heard around the world over the weekend. Tens of thousands turned out in San Francisco yesterday in one of many U.S. rallies organized by the anti-war group, International Answer. One of the largest weekend rallies was held Saturday in Rome, where organizers claim up to a million people hit the streets in protest. The Italian government is a strong -- staunch backer of U.S. policy toward Iraq.

Also Saturday, at least half a million demonstrators crowded into London's Hyde Park. Speakers criticized Prime Minister Tony Blair for his high-profile support of the Bush administration. Today, Britain's foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told the BBC that it would be quote, "very difficult to conduct a war with much of the public opposed to military action." Later, Britain's deputy prime minister downplayed the effect of the large peace marches.

Well, as we just saw, some of the strongest opposition to war can be found in nations where the governments support potential U.S. military action. So the question is, do these peace marches really make any difference? Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: This weekend, millions of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 350 cities around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Is anybody listening? The demonstrators think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I think they've actually got a chance of winning, of actually stopping this war.

SCHNEIDER: What makes them think that? They believe, if it were not for the protests, the war would have started already. The longer they can delay an invasion, the less likely it becomes. The protesters are playing for time. They know Americans don't want to fight this war alone. 63% of Americans say Washington should not act without the support of its allies. The demonstrators' message is, the world is not with the United States on this.

JAMES CROMWELL, ACTOR/ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: And if we're right, how come our rightness has not convinced the rest of the world?

SCHNEIDER: The Bush administration has an argument to counter the demonstrations.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: I think there is often a part of the tactics of one side of the debate, the left, to engage in the right to peaceful protest and take to the streets. That does not as often appear to be the tactic used by people who support military action and military force, which is, again, the reason I think that much of the support you'll see often goes undernoticed or underreported.

SCHNEIDER: He's right. Protest marches are a signature tactic of the left. Most Americans, the famous silent majority, would support the Bush administration in a confrontation with Saddam Hussein. But that doesn't mean it's safe politically to ignore the protests, because intensity matters, not just numbers. And the protesters are intensely anti-war, and anti-Bush. The protests ratchet up the political stakes. If the war turns out to be costly and indecisive, if there are massive casualties, if the U.S. fails to remove Saddam Hussein, if there are terrorist reprisals, if the whole Middle East erupts in flames, if any of those things happens, the political consequences for President Bush will be huge.

SCHNEIDER: The protesters are serving notice. This is not our war, Mr. Bush. This is your war. Bill Schneider, CNN, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Still ahead, can a divided Europe speak with a single voice on war with Iraq? We'll have a live report from the emergency meeting of the European Union.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: France stands firm against any attack on Iraq. We will report on a gathering in Brussels, Belgium, where European leaders are meeting. And we'll go live to the White House for how the Bush administration is responding.

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: Now for the latest on Europe's split over war with Iraq: At the European Union's emergency meeting in Brussels, E.U. leaders have issued a strongly worded declaration warning Iraq that it has one last chance to disarm peacefully. The declaration says that U.N. weapons inspections cannot continue indefinitely without Iraq's cooperation, but that war should be a last resort.

You're now looking at a live picture of that European Union news conference in Brussels. Our Robin Oakley is among the reporters there. We hope to speak to him a little later this hour.

Here in Washington, President Bush met today with the European leader. And for some reaction from the White House on what they are saying there, our correspondent John King.

John, they must be breathing a bit of a sigh of relief at what the E.U. did.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A bit, Judy, but just a bit.

The administration will consider this a success, because past European Union statements have not even mentioned force. This one just being released in Brussels does say that military force might be used as a last resort. The resolution being released by the Europeans also credits the U.S. military buildup for forcing Saddam Hussein to, at least so far, cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

The administration would make the case that Saddam is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. But the European Union is now saying that Saddam Hussein must cooperate and putting force on the table. However, in a setback to the Bush administration, language in a draft saying that time is running out on Iraq was deleted because of continuing objections from Germany.

So, on the one hand, you do see a united statement out of the European Union. On the other hand, Judy, in the consultations to put this statement together, you continue to see the divide, France and Germany chief among the European nations saying they want it made clear that diplomacy should get more time and that force should not be considered a leading option, so, still some disagreements among all the diplomatic wrangling, all of this, of course, aimed at a new resolution at the U.N. Security Council -- the United States and Great Britain working on a new draft.

They hope to introduce it by the middle to end of this week, still, though, the consultations continuing over just what that resolution should say. The United States wants a simply worded resolution that says Iraq is in continued material breach. That, of course, in the White House view, would open the door to military action, France saying it would veto any resolution that explicitly authorizes the use of force right now.

The question is, does a resolution that simply says Iraq is in material breach, is that authorizing force? It depends on who you ask -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, if that's the case, John, what are the White House options? Is it literally just over a word here and a word there?

KING: This is even more complicated than the seven, eight weeks it took to get Resolution 1441, which sent the inspectors in to begin with. The United States wants a resolution that declares Iraq in material breach.

It also wants the United Nations Security Council and the inspectors on the ground to immediately put Iraq to the test by saying, destroy those missiles that Hans Blix, the chief inspector, last week said were in violation of Iraq's commitments to the United Nations. The United States wants the inspectors to push for those missiles to be destroyed in the days ahead, believing that Saddam Hussein will say no; he'll refuse to destroy those missiles.

The United States would like such an example of Saddam Hussein directly defying Dr. Blix. The U.S. believes such an example might help it get a second resolution through the council.

WOODRUFF: Well, John, on a slightly less global matter, somewhat more down to Earth, we noticed that the president took a motorcade back to the White House yesterday from Camp David. It's been noted recently that the president doesn't spend a lot of time in Washington. Any idea what he had to say or what he thought about his long journey back into the city?

KING: No, Judy, but we do know the White House decided it was best to get the president back to the White House yesterday. He generally does return on Mondays. He did have a meeting here with the president of Latvia yesterday, Latvia one of 10 Eastern European nations quite supportive of the administration view on Iraq.

The president had that meeting. You see the motorcade here coming down, I believe that's Route 270. Now, if you think Route 270 looks bad in that picture yesterday, you should have seen it this morning.

WOODRUFF: The city is pretty snowbound.

All right, John King at the White House -- in fact, it looks pretty snowy where you are, John.

KING: It's beautiful. The grounds are quite beautiful on a day like this. It's going to take quite a while for all this to melt.

WOODRUFF: That's fine with us.

OK, John, thanks very much.

Well, one further note on White House policies here in the United States: A group of Pentagon officials and retired military officers are the latest to file a brief with the Supreme Court in support of affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan. Retired Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Hugh Shelton have both signed on to the brief, along with former Defense Secretaries William Perry and William Cohen. President Bush says that he supports diversity, but he says the Michigan affirmative action policies are unfair. The Supreme Court will hear the case on April 1.

Up next: A night on the town proves deadly. We'll have a live report on the stampede out of a Chicago nightclub.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In Chicago, a terrible story: 21 people are confirmed dead after a stampede out of a nightclub early today. A disturbance, a blast of pepper spray, and blocked doors apparently all contributed to the problem and the panic. CNN's Keith Oppenheim is in Chicago.

Keith, a lot of questions being asked today.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's really true, Judy.

The building behind me you see is called Epitome. That represents the restaurant on the first floor. Above it is the nightclub call E2. And that's where the trouble apparently, began around 2:00 in the morning.

Now, after the tragedy, investigators are talking to the owners of the club. They are interviewing the security staff. And the community here is in mourning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These were Chicagoans who went to a nightclub, who was out to have a good time, as simple as that. And they lost their lives tragically. And what we have to do as a police department is find out why.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Why a nightclub became the scene of a stampede is a question that's just beginning to be answered. Witnesses say the stampede began when security guards used pepper spray or mace to break up a fight between female patrons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The smaller women was getting push or stamped on, because the bigger guys was really trying to make headway to get out the door. But once they came through the main entrance, it just kind of like got stuck.

OPPENHEIM: Many of the victims were trampled as people rushed for the exits. But a rear door was chained shut. And, eventually, firefighters cut it open. But that came too late. When the melee was under way, there was only one way down from the upstairs of the club. And officials say trampled bodies had to be pulled from the stairwell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had several people who were in cardiac arrest that were in traumatic asphyxiation from being crushed underneath the piles of people trying get out of this building.

OPPENHEIM: There are conflicting reports about how many people were in the club. But witnesses say it was very crowded and may have been beyond capacity. Police say the area is being treated as a crime scene.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OPPENHEIM: Investigators also said that a number of other doors, not just the back door, were locked in the building. They are also saying that there were problems inside, such as occupancy signs. On the downstairs, there was an occupancy sign with a limit of 327 people posted at the restaurant. But, Judy, there was no such sign posted at the upstairs club, according to investigators -- back to you. WOODRUFF: Keith, is it clear why the police used pepper spray when, clearly, there was limited circulation in this place?

OPPENHEIM: Yes, it's not clear to us at all.

We have spoken to witnesses out here on the street, people who were inside at the time. And they said those fumes were very overpowering, that there were waves of people trying to get out just after the pepper spray was used. That's clearly going to be a focus of the investigation, as to why the security staff did that. But those who came out said it was very tough to breathe and they didn't understand why it was done either.

WOODRUFF: OK, Keith and I want to clarify. I said why police used pepper spray. And I have just been corrected and told it's not clear yet who used it. It could have been security guards.

So, all right Keith Oppenheim reporting for us from Chicago -- thanks a lot, Keith.

Well, we may learn soon a little more about the nightclub tragedy. Chicago officials are expected to brief reporters this hour. And, of course, CNN will carry that news conference live.

A former congressman plots a return to Washington. Up next: details on Bob Barr's political future -- when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Our lawmaker, the son of a dairy farmer, raises Angus cattle. He's won numerous awards for milking cows faster than his constituents and keeps a bullwhip in his office. Why the bullwhip? More clues later.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now: Maria Echaveste, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff; and Terry Jeffrey, editor of the conservative weekly "Human Events."

Terry, Maria, yesterday, the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, in effect, accused France, Germany, Russia and others of helping Saddam Hussein. I'm going to quote quickly what she said on NBC's "Meet the Press": "We need to remind everybody that tyrants don't respond to any kind of appeasement. Tyrants respond to toughness. And that was true in the 1930s and 1940s when we failed respond to tyranny, and it is true today."

Maria, is she right?

MARIA ECHAVESTE, FORMER CLINTON DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think that Condoleezza Rice has always been seen as -- by many folks as a more reasonable voice, someone who understands the importance of multilateral engagement. And for her to use this kind of rhetoric, maybe she's gone over to the cowboy side or something here.

But, seriously, this escalation of rhetoric is going to make it that much harder to pull together the forces that we need.

WOODRUFF: Terry?

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": Yes, I think she is right, Judy.

I think the point the she's trying to make is, the French, by opposing the United States now, are actually hurting the best chance for peace. Samuel Johnson said that a fortnight's anticipation of a certain hanging would concentrate the mind wonderfully. I think what the president has tired to do is give Saddam Hussein a fortnight in which he can absolutely contemplate the resistance of the entire world to his defiance.

And what the French are is, giving him a way out, giving him the possibility of thinking he can get out of this without his destruction, if he won't disarm.

ECHAVESTE: I was going to say, on the contrary, I think that, recent news we just saw right now from the E.U., with its very strong statement, says that it's coming -- people want -- the whole world wants to be united in taking that kind of action. So, I think her rhetoric is unfortunate.

WOODRUFF: E.U. coming together, with at least not exactly the language the administration wanted, but a united stance.

JEFFREY: Well, I think that they're moving in our direction, Judy, and there is going to be more movement in the future, because I think people understand that President Bush is credible.

President Bush not only has said he will use force to disarm Saddam Hussein, with a coalition of the willing, but the United States Congress, under our Constitution, on October 10, gave him the authority to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein. So, this is a U.S. policy, bipartisan, backed up by the United States Congress. I think the world better take that seriously.

WOODRUFF: A very different subject, I'm going to turn you both to homeland security.

In a meeting that he had with the editorial board of "The Chicago Tribune," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge revealed that his department had used -- and now his department is making sure -- they just called us a short time ago to make sure we know this was done in something with conjunction with something called the Ad Council -- but they use so-called focus groups to figure out what kind of information to share with the public about dealing with a crisis.

And let me quote what the chairman of the Democratic Party had to say when this was written about in the press. Terry McAuliffe said: "We all knew that this was a very political White House. But conducting focus groups on buying plastic sheets and duct tape is a new low for this administration. The White House should be more concerned with providing first-responders with the resources they desperately need, rather than providing themselves with poll-tested political cover."

Maria?

ECHAVESTE: The thing here is, were they using focus groups to determine whether it was politically -- what was politically advantageous to share with the public?

And that, it's a bad political move on their part, because now it makes all of us question just what kind of information we're getting. Is it the information we need so we can protect your families, or is it something that will make us feel good about going out to buy plastic sheeting, but it won't make a world of difference?

WOODRUFF: Well, now the homeland security folks are saying, well, we didn't ask them what we should do; we just asked how we should explain it to the American people.

Terry?

JEFFREY: Well, Judy, I agree that it's idiotic for the federal government to have focus group to figure out how to hold hands with the American people, who are very anxious about terrorist attacks.

What they need to be doing is focusing on the real threat, which it's not clear Terry McAuliffe wants to do or Tom Ridge wants to do. Last week, FBI Director Bob Mueller said to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the greatest threat to our country are terrorists that are already here. It's Tom Ridge's job to find those people and get them out of here. It's the Democratic Party's job, including Terry McAuliffe's job, to encourage policies that keep aliens out this country that can threaten us and take those that are already here and remove them.

WOODRUFF: Are there the funds to do that?

ECHAVESTE: Well, they just passed the omnibus. But it will take months before our local and state governments will have the millions of dollars they need to better do the job. And so I'm really worried that the threat, which is terrorists who are currently in our country, we're not that closer to finding them.

WOODRUFF: A quick last word, Terry.

JEFFREY: Well, Terry McAuliffe talked about first-responders. That's the Democratic code word for giving federal money to local governments.

Getting aliens out of this country that are a threat is the job of the federal government, specifically Tom Ridge's department, specifically the Immigration and Naturalization Service. That will be part of Homeland Security. He needs to do it. He needs Democratic support to do it.

ECHAVESTE: So, listen to Terry -- last thing -- aliens, he wants to get rid of everyone who is currently in the country, as opposed to targeting the terrorists, of which there are only a few, not the millions, who are here.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY: I'm all for targeting them. Let's target aliens who pose a threat to us here.

WOODRUFF: We'll continue this next week.

Terry, Maria, great to see you both.

JEFFREY: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Two well-known Republicans lead the headlines in our "Campaign News Daley": Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr wants his old job back, but this time in a different district. Barr said today that he'll run for the 6th District House seat being vacated by fellow Republican Johnny Isakson. The seat is solidly Republican. It was once held by Newt Gingrich. Isakson is leaving the House to run for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Zell Miller.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour says he's running for Mississippi governor. Barbour has been considering this race for some time now. This morning in Yazoo City, he promised to restore fiscal responsibility to the state. The GOP primary is August 5, Election Day, November 4.

Over the weekend, new Democratic presidential candidate Carol Moseley-Braun faced one of the toughest challenges in politics: a near-empty room. Besides the news media, only one person showed up for Moseley-Braun's speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday afternoon. Now, granted, turnout was probably hurt by the foot of fresh snow that hit the area. The former Illinois senator forged ahead with her remarks, though. She blasted White House policy toward Iraq and she called for a rollback of the Bush tax cuts.

One extra note on this President's Day on women running for the top job: A group called the White House Project is urging qualified women of all political parties to consider a run for the White House. The group has sent campaign hats reading "Madam President" to all female members of the House and Senate and other women leaders, in hopes of inspiring women to run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): More clues to today's "Capitol Crib."

A rocking chair, a gift from his alma mater, Southwest Baptist University, where he previously served as the president of the university and a history professor. One last clue coming up shortly. (END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): A blue, velvet-covered hammer, a gift from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was known as the hammer when he was House majority whip. Congressman DeLay presented the hammer to his successor and covered it in blue velvet as a symbol of his successor's softer touch.

Whose crib is this? Our congressman is House Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And thanks to Congressman Blunt for letting us take a peek.

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

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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