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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Bush: Need to Remove Saddam Outweighs Troop Safety; Virtual March on D.C. Blocks Senate Systems

Aired February 26, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The risk of assuming that Saddam Hussein will change far outweighs the risk of committing troops if we have to.

ANNOUNCER: The President's bottom-line. But will the cost of war be too high?

Protesting war, on the phone and online. Is the virtual march on Washington making a difference?

The future of Iraq and its people. Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman shares his ideas for rebuilding the country after Saddam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our daughters must not be relegated to second-class status on the nation's college and high school playing fields.

ANNOUNCER: In a league of their own, Hollywood celebrities make a pitch for college women and sports.

We'll talk to actress Holly Hunter.

HOLLY HUNTER, ACTRESS: Our message is simple and clear, save Title IX.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

We begin with the slow pace of weapons inspections in Iraq and the surging estimates of the price tag for war. In this "NewsCycle," chief inspector Hans Blix says that his teams would need several months to work inside Iraq, even if Baghdad fully cooperated. He says the inspection process is moving forward, but only centimeter by centimeter.

Sources now say that the U.S. military's cost of war with Iraq could balloon to $95 billion or more. That is far more than an earlier estimate of $60 billion. There would be additional costs for rebuilding Iraq, and for humanitarian aid.

Let's go now to the White House and CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, what are they saying there about what they do think this cost is going to be? And do they have any worry that the American people may balk when they see the price tag?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, yesterday President Bush met quietly with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mitch Daniels to talk about the cost of a potential war.

One senior administration official told me the president was basically introduced with a wish list, another one, calling it an opening bid. The Pentagon, we are told, sees the figure anywhere from $60 billion to $95 billion. The OMB uses the benchmark of $61 billion, based on the cost of the Persian Gulf War. It said it would equal about $82 billion in today's dollars.

Now, what we've been told, I think this is all a part of what they call a pre-game dance before a potential war. But the White House really doesn't like to discuss the figures. They say, why? Because they really don't know what the exact figures are. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, earlier today, says it largely depends on what Saddam Hussein does, whether or not he burns the oil fields or uses chemical weapons, or gives up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That will depend on a number of factors, many of them up to Saddam Hussein and Saddam Hussein's henchman. If Saddam Hussein and his henchmen do not follows orders, if they don't follow the orders from Saddam Hussein, that can lead to one scenario. So it's too soon to say with precision how much this war will cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And, Judy, you can bet it's really a sensitive subject here at the White House, the talk of money. I mean, the White House administration is looking at this $300 billion budget deficit. That could very much increase. That is why the administration argues that the economy needs to grow, and that they believe that tax relief will do the job -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Suzanne, the president, as we know, is going to make a speech tonight here in Washington where he's going to talk about the impact of any war on the broader Middle East region. Is he expected to break any new ground tonight?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's a very interesting argument that he's going to make. Because he's not only going to talk about how Saddam Hussein is dangerous to the American people, but also, he's going to say Saddam Hussein has contributed to terrorists, that suicide bombers -- that he makes the region in the Middle East more of an unstable region. And that if you get rid of Saddam Hussein, depose him, that there will be more stability all over the world. Believe me, Judy, this is a message, an argument that is just as much for our Arab allies as it is for the American people.

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

Well, as we've just been discussing, we will hear more about the showdown tonight. President Bush is expected to speak about Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute here in Washington at 7:15 p.m. Eastern. CNN plans live coverage.

Anti-war protesters today traded in their walking shoes for telephones, computers and faxes, creating a different kind of traffic jam at the White House and on Capitol Hill. CNN's Maria Hinojosa joins us with more on the virtual March on downtown Washington -- Maria.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, you know, old- time activists were able to really judge their success by the number of bodies that they saw standing out here in front of the Capitol. Now, in this new era, people are realizing that there are many ways to judge success.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, Senator Harkin's office.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): For those in the Senate offices answering the phones...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five-oh-7. OK.

HINOJOSA: ... there was nothing virtual about Wednesday's demonstration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, thank you. I will definitely pass on your message to the Senator.

HINOJOSA: It was work. And if it wasn't the phones ringing off the hook...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Senator Feinstein's office.

HINOJOSA: ... it was the faxes or the e-mails that came throughout the day. So many calls for a first-ever virtual anti-war march in Washington that the Capitol's phone system jammed at one point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will definitely pass on your message to the Senator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I get your zip code?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, Senator Feinstein's office.

HINOJOSA: At Senator Feinstein's office, six staffers were dedicated just to the phones. Hundreds of calls Wednesday added to the 40,000 anti-war calls she's received over the past month.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I've learned when they get up over 30,000, 40,000 from California, then I know there is really a movement. The 40,000 phone calls I think that we've received so far probably the highest number of calls we've gotten for anything.

HINOJOSA: Anti-war activists in this modern age say the virtual world has made their work easier. It took only weeks to pull together millions around the world for street protests because of e-mail communication. It helped coordinate Wednesday's full-page "New York Times" ad by musicians against the war. Whatever the form, the anti- war movement says it's got a clear message that is finally getting out.

TOM ANDREWS, WIN WITHOUT WAR: Don't invade Iraq. Don't occupy Iraq when it's unnecessary. We don't have to kill innocent people. We don't have to put Americans at risk. We don't have to give Osama bin Laden a tremendous boost in terms of the capacity to recruit terrorists, suicidal terrorists. We don't have to destabilize that region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HINOJOSA: Now, Judy, I can say that many of the protesters who were taking part in this virtual march who were calling in said it took them anywhere from a half an hour to an hour to get through to their Senators, but eventually they were able to do that.

Not so at the White House. I haven't heard from one person yet who said they've been able to make any call that gets through to the White House. Organizers are saying that over a million calls, and e- mails and faxes have come in. But the downside of a virtual march is that there's no real hard-and-fast way to prove that -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Maria, they can't get through in the White House. Why? Because the switchboard is full or...

HINOJOSA: The switchboard is saying the circuits -- the lines are completely full.

WOODRUFF: OK, Maria Hinojosa, thanks very much.

In Britain, The House of Commons today backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's hawkish stance on Iraq. The members approved the motion warning Iraq that it faces a final opportunity for disarmament. And they rejected a measure calling the case for military action against Saddam Hussein "unproven."

Blair prevailed, despite growing British opposition to war, even within members of his own Labour party. Blair also engaged in a civil but heated discussion about Iraq with anti-war activists, invited to meet with him at 10 Downing Street. Meantime, CNN has learned that the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia have reached an agreement for complete access to Prince Sultan Air Base if there is a war in Iraq. The deal, formalized in recent weeks, would allow the U.S. to run its air war from this Saudi base.

More than 500 U.S. military vehicles are standing idle in Turkey while Washington waits for a green light to deploy American troops there. The Turkish parliament now is expected to debate the matter tomorrow.

Turkey may prove to be a crucial staging area for a U.S. attack on Iraq, but Turkey's role in a war could also be problematic. Here now is our senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, many things could go wrong in Iraq. Here's one: a bloody conflict between two U.S. allies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FARUK LOGOGLU, TURKISH AMB. TO U.S.: We have Turkish military presence in northern Iraq.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The United States has made that concession to Turkey in order to secure Turkish support for the war. Northern Iraq is the Kurdish-populated area of Iraq, currently self- governing under the protection of the U.S. and British no-fly zone. Why is Turkey sending troops to northern Iraq?

LOGOGLU: The main purpose of the presence will be to address the humanitarian situation, because we know that a lot of people are going to be displaced because of military action.

SCHNEIDER: People who have visited northern Iraq in recent weeks report that the Turkish deployment is stirring fear and anger among Iraqi Kurds.

RUBAR SANDI, IRAQI-AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: They are very much concerned about what will be the role of Turkey and whether they will come and stay and occupy, or they really come in with the coalition forces to disarm.

SCHNEIDER: Why would Turkey want to do that? Look at the map. Turkey has a large Kurdish minority, just like Iraq.

TRUDY RUBIN, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": Turkey fears that the Kurds are going to declare independence and, thereby, inspire Kurds inside Turkey, with whom the Kurdish military fought a civil war over the last decade that cost 30,000 lives.

SCHNEIDER: Charges are flying back and forth about a hidden Turkish agenda.

SIAMAND BANNA, KURDISTAN REP. TO U.K.: You want to revive the old Turkish plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no concealed agenda, no ulterior motive in the Turkish movement.

SCHNEIDER: Suppose the Turks and Kurds come to blows.

ALTAY CENZIGER, TURKISH REP. TO U.N.: Imagine the headlines -- the Kurds and Turks fighting and the U.S. military is in between.

SCHNEIDER: What can the United States do to prevent such a disaster?

RUBIN: The Americans somehow have to get Kurds and Turks together to understand that both sides are interested in one Iraq, that the Turks do not have to fear the Kurds will break out into independence. The Americans will assure that.

SCHNEIDER: That's a diplomatic challenge, not a military challenge. And a lot is riding on it.

SANDI: Imagine, over a billion Muslins are watching America, what will be the outcome of Iraq? To win a war, it will not be difficult. I really don't believe that -- I don't think it is going to be too difficult. But to keep the peace, the key will be the peace, sustainable peace and security.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: The Bush administration expects to lead a coalition of the willing. But what they could have on their hands is a coalition of the warring -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Something the American people I know want to learn a lot more about. All right, Bill, thank you very much.

Well, there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you put an American in charge of the Iraqi government, it's going to begin to look like we're an occupying power, instead of what I think we should be which is a liberator of the Iraqi people who have lived under this tyrant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: I'll talk with Senator Joe Lieberman about his vision of post-war Iraq and the peril for the United States.

Also ahead, the future of the program that helped put women athletes on a whole new playing field. I'll talk with an advocate for keeping Title IX as is, actress Holly Hunter.

And is former Senator Fred Thompson considering another run for office? That story and more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. The place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: You're already paying a lot at the pumps, but you may soon be paying even more for gas and home heating oil, the details coming up in a live report from Wall Street.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time to check your "I.P. I.Q." On this date in 1951, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It stated that a president could serve only two terms. Prior to that date, how many presidents had served more than two terms? A: one, B: three or C: five? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As the United States moves forward with preparations for war against Iraq, the president of Afghanistan today asked U.S. leaders not to forget his country and its problems. President Hamid Karzai told a Senate committee that his nation has made great strides since the Taliban were driven from power. Mr. Karzai also said that his people will need more outside help if freedom is going to succeed in Afghanistan.

The challenges of governing Afghanistan are just a preview of what could follow a U.S.-led war against Iraq. As a large nation with no history of self-government, the first challenge could be simply holding the country together. Here's CNN's Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a dictatorship. The U.S. hopes the next Iraq will be a democracy. But short term, assuming a successful military action an American, General Tommy Franks, will be in charge, as Douglas MacArthur was in Japan after World War II. They'll have to begin with the basics.

JEAN ABINADER, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: The first order of business is establishing order and peace throughout the country. We can't have in Iraq what we have in Afghanistan, where we have 80 percent of the country still not under control of the central government.

MORTON: Iraq is different, more modern, more affluent, more secular than Afghanistan, which doesn't mean it will become an instant democracy. David Mack is a state department veteran with years of experience in the region.

DAVID MACK, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: The idea that Iraq, even if the military operations go smoothly, as I hope, that Iraq is going to become something like Denmark in the Middle East is really improbable.

MORTON: For one thing, Danes live in Denmark while Iraq has regional differences, Kurds in the north, Shiite Muslims in the south. Sunni Muslims, like Saddam running the country. Shiites and Kurds both rebelled against him at the end of the first Gulf War, but lost. Now, the Shiites have ties to Iran. The Kurds have ties to Kurds in Turkey, whom that government represses. The Kurds in Iraq have freedoms the others don't -- free speech, free Internet and so on. Maybe that's a place to start.

ABINADER: Arabs are more interested in the Bill of rights than they are in the Constitution. In other words, they are more interested in freedom of association, freedom of press, protection from minorities, respect for property laws. I mean, these are instinctive cares that people have. So, I think the basic building blocks of awareness are there.

MORTON: Government? Maybe a federation among the various regions and groups. Iraqis are -- people who know them say -- hardworking and well educated, given peace and stability, they could make it.

MACK: I'm convinced that Iraq can certainly become a country, let's say, on the par with Turkey or Jordan, countries that aren't perfect by any means, but certainly a vast improvement over what they have now.

MORTON: As a presidential candidate, George W. Bush was not a fan of the U.S. as a nation builder.

BUSH: I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building.

MORTON: But he's committed in Afghanistan, and now, if the war goes well, in Iraq. Neither one will be quick or easy.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Earlier today, Connecticut senator and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman delivered a speech where he criticized President Bush for not explaining U.S. plans for a post-war Iraq. And he went on the record with me saying that the government's relative silence has left the U.S. open to suspicions about its motivations.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LIEBERMAN: I think that if we make clear what our intentions are for post-Saddam Iraq, that we can diminish some of the opposition in America, and in the world, to a possible military action there. In other words, if we make clear that after Saddam is gone, we intend to live according to our national values, which is to provide political freedom, economic opportunity and religious tolerance in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: But if the president is doing this now and you say it's not too late, what harm is done?

LIEBERMAN: I just think we've drifted for too long without the administration taking the opportunity to make clear what our goals are in Iraq. We're trying to protect our security and the security of the region from an inhumane tyrant that we know has chemical and biological weapons. That's not a selfish goal.

Obviously, there are people in America and the world who think we are doing this to control the Iraqi oil. That's wrong. But unless we make clear, as I suggested today, that we have a plan to put Iraqis in control of their oil industry, have all their revenues go to the revival and reconstruction of Iraq, then people will continue to have the conclusion that our goals here, our motives are commercial or economic, and they are not.

WOODRUFF: The president, the administration, talked about putting in place an American as an administrator in post-war Iraq. You say that that's a mistake. Why?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I think it's a mistake. Remember what our goal here is, our goal is to disarm Iraq, and because Saddam has not cooperated, if war is necessary, to remove Saddam Hussein. Those are our goals. Then I think the question is, how do we secure the peace? How do we build bridges to the Iraqi people and to, indeed, to people throughout the Arab world.

And it seems to me that if you put an American in charge of the Iraqi government it's going to begin to look like we're an occupying power, instead of what I think we should be, which is a liberator of the Iraqi people who have lived under this tyrant. And, therefore, I believe that we ought to select someone from outside America, preferably an experienced government leader of an Arab nation to be the civilian administrator of Iraq until they can choose their own representative government.

WOODRUFF: Senator, a couple of questions about politics, about the presidential campaign in 2004. You spoke this week before the Democratic party's winter meeting. Some of the reviews, I think, for some of your fellow candidates were a little better than they were for you. Some of the reporters said there was a lot of passion, that they didn't see that on the part of your presentation. How did you feel about all that?

LIEBERMAN: I felt very good about my remarks to the Democratic National Committee on Friday. I said what I believe. And I felt the response was both respectful, where a lot of the audience disagreed with me, such as my belief that we may have to go to war to protect America against Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

And I thought the response was quite enthusiastic when I spoke about the way in which the Bush administration has failed to provide any economic leadership. And we've gone in two years from an enormous surplus and millions of jobs being created, to an enormous deficit and millions of jobs being lost, and people falling out of the middle class.

WOODRUFF: This theory going around with Joe Lieberman, he's more of a general election candidate than he is a primary candidate. He's going to have a tough time in some of these Democratic primaries. LIEBERMAN: Yeah, well, of course, I'm happy about the second part, where the people say I'm a Democrat who has the best chance to win in the general election in November and to restore Democratic rule to the White House. I believe that. But I also believe that I have the support within the Democratic party to win the nomination.

And, you know, you don't run just to run. You have to have a cause that's larger than your candidacy. And my cause is the set of ideas that I discussed at the Democratic National Committee last Friday, which was speaking not only to the folks in the room there, but to anyone else in America who was listening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Lieberman, not deterred by a little criticism.

Coming up, dirty doings under the dome? Are lobbyists getting strong- armed? We'll take from the left and the right coming up.

Plus, it may sound like a broken record, but another winter storm is making life miserable for many people across the Eastern U.S. That story ahead.

(MARKET UPDATE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's time again to check your "I.P. I.Q." On this date in 1951, the 22nd Amendment -- to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It stated that a president could serve only two terms. Prior to that date, how many presidents had served more than two terms? A: one, B: three or C: five?

The correct answer is A. Every president had followed George Washington's example, stepping down after two terms, except for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt successfully ran for president four times.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Catching up with dad. Chicago's mayor is getting closer. That story coming up.

Plus, a move to make SUVs safer. We'll have the details later.

But first, this "News Alert", and this story just in for the Associated Press, from NASA. NASA is just now three and a half weeks after the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated 220 over Texas is letting us know that one day before the shuttle disaster, senior NASA engineers started to raise concerns about the shuttle's left wing and specifically whether the left wing might burn off and cause the crew to die.

The scenario has been described much like the one that investigators believe happened. And I'm just quickly quoting an employee of some of the NASA engineers. He said: "Why are we talking about this on the day before landing and not the day after launch?" There was intense debate, according to the Associated Press and NASA. There were phone calls. There were e-mails. But, ultimately, after all this discussion, the engineers decided against taking their concerns to top NASA managers.

So, once again, in brief, NASA engineers, a day before the shuttle disintegrated, expressing concerns that the left wing might burn off and that the crew might not survive this.

We'll bring you more information on this as soon as we have it.

(NEWS BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, now a different forecast for the Middle East: the political debate about a post-war Iraq.

Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times" has been listening closely to what the Democrats are saying on that subject.

Ron, we know that there's a split, to some extent, among the Democrats who want to be president over Iraq, but most of them -- say, the front-runners in this campaign -- are supporting the president. But we are seeing some distance, as we saw today with Joe Lieberman, over what happens after.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

Even the Democrats who are supporting the use of force in Iraq are feeling increasing pressure to show their contrast with Bush on the broader questions of post-war Iraq, the Middle East and foreign policy more generally. There is a consistent critique, I think, emerging from these Democratic front-runners that you talk about, John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, who argue that, even if the president is doing the right thing in Iraq, he's broadly doing it the wrong way.

He's unnecessarily dividing us from our allies, they argue, in a way that will compromise our long-term security.

WOODRUFF: Is this an effective line of reasoning? Is this something that these candidates think is going to effectively put some distance between them and the president?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's going to be a central line of debate in 2004. I think everything is set up for that, that you have, in essence, Democrats arguing that we -- while removing Saddam Hussein might be the right policy, that, if we go ahead in a way that divides us from our allies, it will infringe on the cooperation we need on the broader concerns: terrorism, proliferation, stability in the Mideast.

And, in that, Judy, they're joined by a few moderate Republicans. Senator Chuck Hagel, for instance, has given speeches within the last week making this argument very forcefully. It's similar, in a way, also to what Tony Blair argues. They are, in some ways, closer to Blair than to Bush, who have somewhat different priorities in what they are trying to prove through this action.

WOODRUFF: But haven't these arguments, Ron, arisen fairly late in this debate? We've been talking about Iraq for some time. Those who are in the Congress, they have on board with the president in the past. It's only very lately that some of these concerns have been raised.

BROWNSTEIN: Although, in fairness to them, someone like Dick Gephardt would argue, from the beginning, that his intention in supporting the president was to push him toward the U.N. route. That was his goal in negotiating with them on the resolution last fall.

John Kerry has obviously raised his concerns. These are going to be secondary issues, if, in fact, in the immediate aftermath of people being -- American forces being in combat. But as you move down the road, as I said, I do think you're going to see this emerge as a principal, if not the principal line of division over the foreign policy in the 2004 election, probably more than the war itself.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Still ahead: the president and the high price of war. In our daily debate: the dollars and the possible political fallout.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley says his overwhelming reelection victory is due to the coalitions he has built and to his outreach to communities. After 14 years in office, Daley easily won a fifth term yesterday, helping him move closer to the 21 years that his father served as Chicago's mayor.

Just ahead: a question of political ethics up for debate in our "Taking Issues" segment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now: Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine and Terry Jeffrey, the editor of the conservative weekly "Human Events."

Let's talk about the cost of war, the price of war, whatever. We're now hearing this war that they said could be $20, $40, $60, now may be $95, $90 billion and up, maybe more than that.

Could this, Margaret, hurt the president's ability to keep support going for military action against Iraq?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": I think people are willing to pay what it costs once you decide to go.

But it's as if this has been the secret of this whole enterprise, which is not being willing to say what it costs and prepare people for that. Larry Lindsey, one of the reasons he lost his job is that he said $200 billion. Now Donald Rumsfeld last week said $50 billion. And now they are inching up to, I hear, $100 billion.

I mean, are we having a Wal-Mart war or are we having a Saks Fifth Avenue war? At the moment, they're giving us the discount fees. It's just part of being candid with the American people that hasn't taken place yet.

WOODRUFF: Terry, could the cost in any way undercut support for war against Iraq?

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": No, I don't think so, Judy.

I think support is predicated on the reality of the risk and the way the president has persuaded people that it is in fact a true risk. And the truth is, as a conservative, I believe a lot of things the federal government spends money on are either unnecessary or unconstitutional. But the primary duty of the federal government is to protect the American people against foreign threats to our liberty and security.

And that's what this is all about. So, if the threat is there, we need to meet it, no matter the cost.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: Margaret, go ahead.

CARLSON: Telling people what it is, is another -- is a part of that. It's not that people aren't willing to pay it. But the administration should face up to it and kind of integrate it into this idea that we're having more tax cuts. How do those two things square?

JEFFREY: But, Judy, to put this cost in perspective, today, they are saying this war might cost $95 billion. Who knows whether that's actually going to be the price.

But, last year, federal spending increased by $162 billion, most of it going to new social spending by the federal government. I think people would see that spending $95 billion to eliminate a threat to our security is money much better spent that $162 billion in new social spending.

WOODRUFF: Well, one thing is for sure. We're talking about big money.

Let's switch over to a political -- or at least a story -- a domestic story. And that is the fact that some Democrats in Congress are talking about responding, taking the -- what is -- well, let me back up. Michael Oxley, who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is charged with allegedly pressuring lobbyists for the mutual fund industry into hiring a Republican lobbyist.

Now, Democrats have gotten ahold of this information and they are saying and in exchange, possibly, for backing off on an investigation of the mutual fund industry. Democrats are saying this rises to the level of an Ethics Committee investigation perhaps. They are looking into doing that.

Terry, what about this? Does it rise to the level of something so serious?

JEFFREY: Well, Judy, I the Democratic call for an investigation is based on a February 15 "Washington Post" story, which was sourced to six unnamed people. As far as I could tell from the context of the story, they were probably lobbyists who were the sources.

And their allegation was that a single, young Republican staffer had made a remark at a party. I think that's a very thin reed to base an investigation on. If they come out with more facts, hard facts, people who come forward with their names who are ready to testify under oath, I think that would be a different situation.

CARLSON: Well, that's what an investigation would do, would be to put names on some of this. And there's enough known, I think, to proceed.

This is just an extension of what Tom DeLay was doing earlier, which is to say, we're not going to talk to you, we're not doing business with you if you don't hire Republicans. And this is the bridge too far, which is almost, we're going to kneecap you if you don't hire the Republicans that we want you to hire, because we're going to investigate or not investigate you on the basis of it.

And that is worthy of an Ethics Committee investigation.

WOODRUFF: OK, we're going to have to leave it there.

Terry Jeffrey, Margaret Carlson, good to see both of you.

CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

JEFFREY: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Women in sports and the gains of the last 30 years: a new look at Title IX that claims that the government rules have hurt some men's sports programs in the name of helping women.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A federal commission studying the effects of Title IX has delivered its findings to the secretary of education. The report recommends no major overhauls of the landmark law that banned discrimination against women in higher education.

But, following complaints that Title IX has hurt some men's athletic programs, some possible changes were proposed, among them, new ways for schools to comply with Title IX rules, more flexibility in how slots are counted for athletic teams, more leeway in gauging women's interest in campus sports, and new rules allowing schools to accept private money for sports programs. Well, among those here in Washington today lobbying against any changes to Title IX was the actress Holly Hunter. She told me that she became interested in the issue a few years ago after she played the role of tennis player Billie Jean King in a movie.

I asked Hunter about those who say Title IX has accomplished a lot of good things, but it should be adjusted so that it doesn't hurt men's sports such as swimming and wrestling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNTER: That's an understandable issue that's come up.

However, Title IX is an anti-discrimination law. And it's a law that's been supported by the courts. So, this is -- it's to prevent discrimination. It's -- basically, it's a civil rights law. So it's not about men vs. women. It's trying to give the underrepresented gender equality. It's equality for boys and girls in high school and men and women in college.

So, how colleges prioritize their money, how they spend their money on programs, is completely up to them. But Title IX simply protects equality. So it's a very simple issue, to me. It's not really political. It's more civil rights.

WOODRUFF: This panel, though, could have recommended some major changes and a major undoing of Title IX. All they are really doing is recommending some flexibility. What is so wrong with that?

HUNTER: Well, I think it's very difficult to think about negotiating equity, because equality is equality. So, as soon as you begin to negotiate it, it doesn't really make sense to me, because it's non-negotiable. It's a state of being. So, once again, I just think that it's putting Title IX in a place that's almost -- it's illogical.

WOODRUFF: So, when there are coaches for, say, men's wrestling teams who would argue -- and somebody was telling us this today -- that there was a team, a women's equestrian team, that was created at the University of Georgia. And according to someone we were talking with, they couldn't even find enough women who wanted to be on the team, but all this was done because they were trying to equalize the money that was there.

HUNTER: Well, that's an interesting statement.

I think that there has been this said, that there's a lack of interest in girls for sports. But the fact is, is that almost three million girls participate in sports in the high school level. And there are only 150,000 slots for girls in college. So you have, say, 2.8 million girls who apply for college scholarships in sports and only 150,000 get accepted. So there's tremendous interest from girls and women in playing sports.

Now, there's also particular sports, very specific sports, that women are interested in. So I think that what has to be examined is a menu of sports that would appeal to women in a particular area of the country, and we go from there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Actress Holly Hunter talking about Title IX.

Word of a Republican Party revolt next in our "Campaign News Daily."

Also ahead: The sport utility debate comes to Capitol Hill. We go along for the ride as Congress debates the safety of those big, brawny SUVs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Prominent media consultant Bob Shrum has joined the presidential campaign team of Senator John Kerry. Shrum helped Senator John Edwards with his 1998 campaign and he produced a series of ads for Edwards as recently as last fall. "The Raleigh News and Observer" reports that both campaigns confirm Shrum's decision to join Kerry and the Edwards camp issued a statement wishing him well.

More states are jockeying to increase their influence in next year's Democratic primary season. As we discussed here yesterday with Governor Jennifer Granholm, some Michigan Democrats are working to move their state's caucuses to January 27, the tentative date for the New Hampshire primary. If Michigan moves, the Web site politicsnh.com -- that's in New Hampshire -- reports Granite State Democrats may ask the candidates to sign a pledge not to campaign in Michigan.

Virginia is also moving up. Governor Mark Warner says that he will sign legislation moving the commonwealth's primary to February 10, adding another early stop for candidates.

In Pennsylvania, it looks like incumbent Senator Arlen Specter faces a challenge from within his own party. GOP Congressman Pat Toomey is expected to make what is being called a major announcement at the end of the week. He's made no secret he's considering a race against the more moderate Specter. Just this week, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card attended a fund-raiser on Specter's behalf.

Under questioning from Congress today, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration softened his stance that some SUVs are not safe. Dr. Jeffrey Runge said that he would let carmakers voluntarily reduce the risk of rollovers and other hazards involving sport utility vehicles. But he left open the option of forcing them to make changes, if necessary. Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee Chairman John McCain called the hearing. He and other lawmakers said they are skeptical that carmakers can be trusted to improve safety without further regulations.

Now playing on the silver screen: "Gods and Generals." But up next, the Civil War saga might be subtitled: congressional cameos. We'll show you some familiar faces in costume when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: He hasn't been an ex-senator for very long, but now Fred Thompson is talking about another campaign.

As you probably know, Thompson is the newest member of the cast of TV's "Law & Order," playing a conservative district attorney. He told a Tennessee newspaper he's thinking of having his character run for a new office, president, against the fictional and decidedly more liberal candidate played by Martin Sheen on the series "West Wing."

Well, some politicians study history. Others reenact it in a new film. "Gods and Generals" now is appearing in theaters nationwide. And in addition to some big-name actors such as Robert Duvall, some well-known political figures have cameo roles in the Civil War drama. And we have for you some behind-the-scenes photos.

Do you recognize Senators Robert Byrd and George Allen there on the right with his son? Well, the West Virginia Democrat played an adviser to General Robert E. Lee. And the Virginia Republican portrayed a Confederate officer. Byrd says the experience was thrilling.

Two House members, Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California and Democrat Ed Markey of Massachusetts, also had bit parts in the film. That's Rohrabacher on the left, Markey on the right. And so did former Senator Phil Gramm. Because of scheduling issues, he wound up portraying a Virginian instead of a role that he could identify with more, as a soldier from his home state of Texas.

They all look pretty handsome.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thank you for joining us.

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