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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

How Much Longer Will the World Have to Wait for War with Iraq?

Aired March 11, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Under the gun, how much longer will troops and the world have to wait before an expected war with Iraq?

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Any suggestion of 30 days, 45 days is a nonstarter.

Showdown at the United Nations. Are Americans souring on the U.N., and the continued wrangling over Iraq.

The blame game and the backlash. Is anyone defending a congressman's suggestion that Jews are a driving force for war?

Another taste of hard feelings towards France. Now on the menu on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the French haven't been supporting us through the war, but is that the reason why to change the name of food.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.

The message today from the Bush White House -- the U.S. may push back a proposed deadline for Iraq to disarm, but don't push the U.S. too far. In this "NewsCycle," the U.N. is holding an open forum on Iraq. The United States and Britain suggest they are open to compromise on a cut-off date for Saddam Hussein that might call after Monday, but before the end of the month. The White House says it still wants a Security Council vote by the end of this week on the Iraq resolution despite veto threats by France and Russia.

In a national address today, Pakistan's prime minister said it is far too difficult for his country to back an attack against Iraq. Sources say the ruling party has advised Pakistan's government to abstain from the Security Council vote. The country is torn between opposition at home to a war in Iraq and its alliance with Washington in the war on terror.

Our Dana Bash is at the White House and Richard Roth is at the U.N. Thanks for joining us, both of you. First to you, Dana. How far is the Bush administration willing to compromise?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are willing to compromise, they say here, Candy, a little bit. There is some potential for compromise on the language, a little bit of compromise. And also on potentially pushing back that March 17th deadline, but not too far. Really probably just a week to 10 days maximum they are talking about here at the White House. The whole idea of pushing it back 30 to 45 days is some of the countries on the U.N. Security Council are suggesting. They are saying here is a nonstarter as far as the president is concerned.

And even though there are all these threats at these threats at United Nations, specifically, from Russia and France to veto the resolution, they are still saying here at the White House they want a vote on a resolution this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLEISCHER: We are still at an important diplomatic phase in New York. The consultations with our allies are ongoing and they are important. The resolution as amended is not set in stone. And the conversations are productive. The president has encouraged this diplomacy to take place, but what the president has said is that there is room for a little more diplomacy, but not a left time to do it. The vote will take place this week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Meanwhile, Candy, today is another day of diplomatic dialing for the president to try to round up those votes. This morning, he spoke with the president of Angola. Angola, of course, is a key Security Council nation, one of the potential swing votes on the U.N. Security Council. He is expected to make another round of calls this afternoon to other members of the U.N. Security Council, all trying to get as many votes as he possibly can.

And clearly what they are trying to do here Candy is even if they don't get the resolution to pass, even if France or Russia or other countries veto the resolution, at least they want to have a symbolic victory. A majority of the Security Council to approve some kind of resolution at the United Nations. So that is what they are engaged in now, trying to find the right balance, the right language, that could forge some kind of compromise -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Dana, any sense that they are making any progress with these phone calls? Did they give you any idea of the state of play?

BASH: Not really, they are saying that they are hoping to make progress, unclear from just listening to some of the reaction from across the ocean and from some of the leaders of the countries that the president is talking to, unclear whether or not they are swayed by the president. But the president is giving it the college try, trying to make the case to these leaders that what is at stake here is the U.N. Security Council.

They are using the argument that we heard Condi Rice use over the weekend and Ari Fleischer, again, today, that the U.N. can't make mistakes that they have made in the past, again, like what they feel that happened in Rwanda and Kosovo. So, the president is trying to use all of his powers of persuasion to try to get these countries to come up with some compromise language. But unclear really at this point how much effort and how much progress he's making -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Dana Bash at the White House, thanks. We want to move on up to New York and Richard Roth our U.N. correspondent. Richard, what's going on right now at the U.N.?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Security Council is in action. But there's no vote going on yet about Iraq. It's more speeches from countries that are not on the Security Council airing their latest views on Iraq, considering there's a new resolution on the table. That is the South African ambassador to the United Nations, former leader of the non-aligned movement, representing dozens of countries. The highlight so far, the opening speech by Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri.

And he defended his country against charges that it was hiding weapons of mass destruction, and he also came up with another motive. He said, besides the United States using the U.N. as a pretext of war, another motive for any military action against his country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED ALDOURI, IRAQ AMB. TO U.N.: Iraq is aware that since the start of our dealing with this matter that the United States of America and Britain will put in doubt any resolve reached because their goal is not disarmament, a disarmament which has, in effect, been achieved. And they know this as will be ascertained by UNMOVIC and IAEA soon. Rather, their objective is to lay their hands on our oil, to control the region, to redraw its borders in order to ensure the vital interests of the United States of America for a long period to come. This is a new direct colonization of the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri also said his country did possess this drone reported by Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector. But he said it was certainly within legal flying range limits. And it was never equipped to carry biological or chemical weapons. Kuwait's ambassador followed and he said that only the leadership in Iraq, in Baghdad, could profit from the division currently in the Security Council. The Council remains divided on this proposed resolution by the U.S., U.K. Spain. Let's take a look at the latest scoreboard, which has not been moved yet a lot publicly.

The U.S., United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Spain in favor. Opposed so far, three veto-carrying members, France, China and Russia, and non-permanent members Syria and Germany. Germany says it can't support war in any manner or form. And the uncommitted six, though they are leading in every which way, depending on which day it is, and they are not doing it so officially and publicly -- Mexico, Pakistan, Chile, Cameroon, Guinea and Angola. The last three African countries visited the other day by the French foreign minister. Back to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Richard Roth at the U.N., who understands both diplomacy and the scoreboard. Thanks Richard.

The showdown with Iraq has prompted a good deal of debate about whether the U.N. is relevant, not only among world leaders, but among the American people as well. Let's bring in now our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, are the polls shifting?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Candy, apparently they are. Today's New York Times/CBS news poll shows a majority of Americans, 55 percent, endorsing U.S. military action against Iraq, without, that is, without U.N. approval. Previous polling had showed most Americans unwilling to go in without a new U.N. mandate.

Now, last Thursday President Bush said at his news conference, when it comes to our security, we don't need anybody's permission. Most Americans apparently now agree.

CROWLEY: So, Bill, are there differences between this poll and the CNN poll?

SCHNEIDER: Well, when we asked the question two weeks ago, we gave people three choices. Only 38 percent approved of invading Iraq without U.N. approval. Forty percent favored military action only if the U.N. approved, and 19 percent said the United States should not send troops at all.

Now, a lot of those 40 percent in the middle when faced with only two choices, invade without U.N. approval or don't go in at all, now opt to invade. Another poll taken by I the "Washington Post" and ABC News at the beginning of the month, shows the same thing.

Now, this poll also found a majority supporting an invasion without U.N. approval. In that majority, 34 percent said they supported it without any reservations. Similar to the 38 percent in the CNN poll who said, go ahead and invade without U.N. approval. Twenty four percent supported an unsanctioned invasion, but only with reservations, and 37 percent were opposed. If you add those last two numbers, you get just over 60 percent who are either opposed or have reservation. Close to the nearly 60 percent in the CNN poll who were opposed or said wait for U.N. approval.

CROWLEY: So, Bill, if you take all of these polls and transpose them on top of one another, what's the composite picture you get?

SCHNEIDER: What they are saying, Candy, is, if the U.N. does not approve a new resolution and the U.S. faces a choice, invade or not invade, most Americans would support an invasion. Including a lot of people who were hoping for a U.N. mandate. They'd rather go in with a U.N. endorsement. But if that doesn't happen, they are willing to go in without one.

CROWLEY: CNN's senior analyst Bill Schneider. Thanks very much, Bill. New military moves today in the lead-up to likely war. Iraqi fighter jets threatened two American U-2 surveillance planes, forcing them to end their mission and return to base. Iraq blamed the United Nations saying it failed to get Baghdad permission to send two surveillance flights over the country. The U.N. says Baghdad was notified. The U.S. air force today tested a new 10-ton bomb that it hopes to use against critical targets in a war against Iraq. The MOAB is known in military circles as the mother of all bombs. It was dropped from a military transport plane over a Florida test site.

Turkey's ruling party leader now is poised to take the reins as prime minister. Washington hopes the move will clear the way for Turkey to reconsider and approve the deployment of U.S. troops there for a possible attack on Iraq.

The White House today called a Democratic Congressman's remarks about the showdown with Iraq shocking. And some members of his own party also are blasting Jim Moran's claims about the president's motives and the influence of the Jewish community. Our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl is on the Hill right now to tell us about Moran's comments and the reaction -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Moran's comments - Moran is a Democratic Congressman from Virginia -- have been drawing a lot of attention here on Capitol Hill. The comments were made more than a week ago, but they are just now getting attention and Moran is apologizing for them, and acknowledging that he made what he called, "insensitive comments." The comment in question is this one. He said to a group in Virginia -- quote -- "If it were not for the strong support of this Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."

Now some of the strongest criticism today came from the Senate, from the top Democrat in the Senate, Tom Daschle, who had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I think that Mr. Moran made comments that were unfounded, baseless, and way out of line. I think that it's a sad day when comments like that are made. They debase the debate and they have no purpose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: The top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, has also put out a statement condemning Moran's comments, saying that he rightfully apologized, and adding, quote, "His comments have no place in the Democratic Party."

Now, there have been calls from Jewish leaders in Moran's district for him to resign. He says he'll apologize but has absolutely no intention of resigning -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Well, Jonathan, I've got to believe that if Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi are criticizing a member of their own party, there is some political price to pay, or no.

KARL: Well, certainly, there is talk of the possibility that Moran could face a primary challenge, could face a challenge from a fellow Democrat in his district. And as a matter of fact, that's something that Tom Daschle was asked about and seemed to speculate about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: Well, I'm sure that there will be great debate within his district about what ought to be done, what options may be available to those. But I will leave that to the people of his district.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORAN: But Jim Moran is somebody who has been in hot water before. He faced controversy over a nearly $500,000 loan he got from the credit card company MBNA that some thought was a favorable loan. He was not investigated by the ethics committee, however, and he won re-election last year, Candy, by more than a 20 percent margin.

CROWLEY: A fairly good hot-water survivor. Thank you very much. CNN's Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill.

Also on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers are putting their anger at France's stand in Iraq, where their mouth is. The cafeteria menues in three House office buildings changed the name of french fries to freedom fries. Likewise, french toast has been renamed freedom toast.

Two Republican lawmakers behind the move say it's a symbolic and appropriate show of displeasure with France. But House majority leader Tom DeLay says he doesn't think that Congress needs to retaliate against France because, he says, the French have isolated themselves and resigned from any responsibility for the war on terror.

There is much more ahead in this hour. We'll look back at the United Nations role or, lack thereof, in wars past.

And we'll ask a former ambassador turned governor, Bill Richardson, whether the U.N. is a global player or just passe.

Some protesters say the showdown with Iraq is all about oil. And we'll examine the claims and counterclaims.

Plus, Jerry Springer knows controversy. That doesn't seem likely to change if the TV host runs for the Senate.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Will the showdown with Iraq lead to more than just a slowdown for the airlines? Will some carriers be grounded? A prediction when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): It's time to check your "IP IQ." Which U.S. senator resigned on this date in 1982? Was it, A: Harrison Williams Jr., B: Robert Packwood or, C: Wayne Hays? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: My concern is that if countries talk about using a veto in all sets of circumstances, the message that sends to Saddam is, you know, you're off the hook.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Words of warning from British Prime Minister Tony Blair to his European allies. Both France and Russia are threatening to veto a new Security Council resolution on Iraq. But Blair is facing extensive opposition at home to an attack on Iraq without U.N. support. A new poll shows only 19 percent of Britons would support going to war without a resolution.

The U.N.'s central role in the debate over Iraq is the exception, not the role in the history of the United Nations. In past conflicts, the U.N. remained on the sidelines, due mostly to Cold War diplomatic rivalries. Our Bruce Morton has more on why, more than 50 years after its finding, the U.N. now finds itself at center stage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Several inspections have taken place ...

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations debating Iraq inspections. Should the United States invade? Does the U.N. decide who wages wars? Well, sometimes. The U.N. approved the U.S. and other countries helping South Korea when the North invaded it in 1950. But that was just luck.

The Soviet Union was boycotting the U.N. then, and would have vetoed intervention had it been there. The U.N. approved driving Saddam out of Kuwait in the first Gulf War. But often it played no role. No role when the U.S. fought in Vietnam, or Grenada or Panama. No role when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, when the Chinese annexed Tibet.

But its role has grown since the end of the Cold War. Not in the U.S., but elsewhere. Lee Hamilton, veteran and former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: I think Americans are not aware of the moral and political force that the United nations has become. Partly this is in reaction to America being the only superpower, and it's where nations gather to oppose or debate the United States. MORTON; It's where the little guys and, lately, some middle- sized guys can tell off the big guy, America.

HAMILTON: It's become the voice of the developing nations, of the poor nations. And it has even become, in recent years, more of a voice for Europe, and the more prosperous countries of Asia.

MORTON: The United Nations has grown in stature in Europe. America and its president take a different view.

HAMILTON: We tend to see the United Nations as an institution that gets in our way, that constrains or restrains American power. Other nations see it as a way to extend their power, and their reach.

MORTON: Those two views may soon collide. President Bush has said over and over again he doesn't need the U.N.'s permission to invade Iraq. If the U.N. says no, France, say, vetoes a resolution and the U.S. says, out of my way, what then?

HAMILTON: The United Nations is today an indispensable forum. If we did not have it, we'd have to invent it.

MORTON: But if the U.S. defies it, will it look indispensable then?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: For more on the role the United Nations is playing in the standoff with Iraq, we want to turn to Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who was also the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. Thank you so much, Governor, for being here.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: I want to ask you the question, first, if there is no Security Council resolution approving of a war on Iraq, and if the Bush administration should go ahead, who loses in that scenario?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the United Nations loses because it shows a lack of relevance to this crisis.

And, secondly, I think, Candy, that the United States loses because we're going into a major conflict without the blessing of the U.N. Security Council, without some of our major allies like France and Russia, and also those 10 other members of the Security Council, the 10 non-permanent members that have a voice right now.

So I think it would come at considerable cost, especially if we're to win the war, which we would, issues relating to a post-Iraq configuration to the prestige of the United States worldwide to bring some kind of order to the Middle East and bring some kind of Persian Gulf-lessening attention. So, I think everybody would be a victim. The United Nations, the United States and, certainly, our NATO allies. I think would be hurt, too, because if they don't support us the breakdown of the NATO alliance might be next to go.

CROWLEY: Well, I want to cite a couple of figures for you. One of them just came from a CBS/New York Times poll, which showed that right now only about 34 percent of Americans believe the U.N. is doing a good job handling this situation.

Fifty eight percent think it's doing a poor job. On top of that, we also found that 55 percent would support an invasion, even if the Security Council says don't do it. What does that say about how Americans view the U.N., and has that changed since you were the ambassador?

RICHARDSON: Well, the United States as a populous, here in new Mexico, there's not much support for the United Nations. But at the same time, Candy, what everyone should understand is the United Nations does a lot of things that we, the U.S. as the only superpower, don't want to do.

They get involved in conflicts in Kosovo, in the Congo in Africa, in Guatemala and Latin America. Immigration issues, AIDS, refugees. We don't want to get directly involved in these, but we use the arm of international support, legitimacy of the United Nations to do it.

Now, in the Persian Gulf, conveniently, the U.N. supported our efforts in 1991 to get a broad coalition. And I think we've used the U.N. in the war on terrorism to get international support.

But clearly in this Iraq crisis, the U.N. has to step up and simply enforce its 1881 resolution. And it's not doing that. So, it's going to be a big loss for the U.N. in terms of its peacekeeping relevance, unless it really steps up and gets tough on Saddam Hussein. I think that's the issue.

CROWLEY: So, am I right, am I hearing you correctly that you believe that the U.N. Security Council should pass the resolution that Britain and the U.S. are proposing?

RICHARDSON: Well, I would go a little differently, Candy. I think the U.S. and Britain should compromise. That's the essence of diplomacy. To get nine votes, if it means postponing for 30 days, or 15 days or 10 days, a new resolution with benchmarks on Iraq's behavior, let's do it. I think that France and Russia are basically gone.

They are going to veto. But it would be a partial victory if we get nine votes for a victory of a majority in the Security Council. If we don't do that, I think it's going to be tremendous prestige loss overseas. I think, domestically, it's going to cause more problems for the administration. The Congress will be divided. This is a time when it's frustrating, but what's the rush, really. Iraq is not heading down Baghdad into the United States.

Again, it is a threat, but it's not an immediate threat. It's not something that is like the war on terrorism, where we're under alert from a potential terrorist attack in this country. So let's be judicious. Let's be calm. Let's be patient. - CROWLEY: Governor?

RICHARDSON: Yes.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry, listen, thank you so much for joining us. We've got a news conference coming from Fort (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in upstate New York.

RICHARDSON: I understand.

CROWLEY: We've got to get there. There's a Blackhawk helicopter down. We want to take you all there right now for an ongoing news conference.

(INTERRUPTED FOR CNN COVERAGE LIVE EVENT)

CROWLEY: So, back to where we were, is the U.N. relevant? Coming up, the view from the left and the right.

Plus, doing his duty. We'll tell you how the Governor of South Carolina is getting ready for a war.

(MARKET UPDATE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): It's time again to check your "I.P. I.Q."

Earlier, we asked, which U.S. senator resigned on this date in 1982? Was it: A, Harrison Williams Jr., B, Robert Packwood, or, C, Wayne Hays?

The correct answer is A. Harrison Williams Jr. of New Jersey resigned after 23 years in the Senate, rather than face expulsion in the wake of his Abscam conviction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Has the United Nations outlived his usefulness? Is the world organization still relevant?

Well, fortunately, we have you all here to help us: Peter Beinart of "The New Republic"; Terry Jeffrey, editor of "Human Events." Thank you all.

OK, it seems there are two points of view here: that either the U.S. is going to go ahead with a war that that the U.N. doesn't approve of, and, therefore, the U.S. won't have legitimacy in this war; or the U.N. will become illegitimate for not having done it. Which of those is it?

PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I think the actual debate about the U.N.'s legitimacy is a total smokescreen. The Bush administration has never cared a whit about the power of the U.N. In fact, up until this Iraq debate, they did pretty much everything in their power to undermine the legitimacy of the U.N. The truth is, when people start talking about whether this is good for the U.N. or bad for the U.N., stop listening, because what they really care about is whether we should go to war in Iraq or not. And this actually is a total side debate, in my view.

CROWLEY: OK, but don't take that literally. Keep watching.

(LAUGHTER)

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": The truth is, the U.N. has never been legitimate. Had we taken the policies that won the Cold War and defeated the Soviet Union in the United Nations Security Council, they would have vetoed them every single time except one. That was the one time in 1950 when they didn't, because the Soviet Union was boycotting when the communists in North Korea innovated the south.

So American should look at the U.N. as an instrument that exists despite our interests. If we can use it to our advantage, as we did in 1990, we should. If we can't use it to our advantage, we ought to disregard it, as the president intends to do.

CROWLEY: And, Peter, you don't suggest -- or do you -- that we ought to take our cue from the U.N. on whether or not to go to war against anyone?

BEINART: No, of course not. The United States went to war in Kosovo without the U.N.'s support. And that was absolutely right.

But the point that I think Terry is missing is that, if you want to have allies, there are times when you have to help out those allies. You can't only be involved in the U.N. when it's in America's narrow interests. There are times -- not these times -- but there are times when the U.S. has to do things to empower the organization so that it can help us.

JEFFREY: No.

The United States government has one obligation and one obligation alone: to pursue the interests of the United States in foreign affairs, defined by the security and liberty of the United States of America. Any nation that stands against us in that cause, we either have to roll over them or move them aside. Whether they use the United Nations against us or any other instrument, we have to ignore that instrument or defeat it.

CROWLEY: So, were they wrong to go to the U.N.?

JEFFREY: Who was wrong to go?

CROWLEY: Was the Bush administration wrong to go to the U.N.?

JEFFREY: No. I think it was good for this reason, because, in the process of going to the United Nations, the president and Secretary of State Colin Powell were able to make a compelling case to the American people and to the world why Saddam Hussein had to be disarmed, if necessary by military force. And, in the process, Candy, they did win a lot of allies for the United States.

So we don't have France. France is working against us. But there are a great many nations that are with us.

BEINART: No, that's actually not true at all.

In fact, the further we've gone in this debate, the more and more public opinion has turned against the United States. Even in countries where the governments are supporting us, say in Eastern Europe, public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed. I'm for this war, but the truth is, the Bush administration has made an absolute hash out of trying to get world public opinion on their side. That's why we're failing at the U.N.

CROWLEY: Peter Beinart, "New Republic," Terry Jeffrey, thank you guys so much for coming -- "Human Events." Sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY: It's all right.

CROWLEY: Come back.

Still ahead: Is the showdown between Presidents Bush and Hussein all about oil? Our Bill Schneider will be back to consider the arguments on both sides.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The threat of war with Iraq is hitting home for South Carolina's Governor. Air Force reservist Mark Sanford begins two weeks of training in Alabama on March 23. That will help qualify him to be a member of an aeromedical evacuation squadron based in Charleston. Sanford does not plan to transfer power to the lieutenant governor during his training. He says he'll stay in touch with his office regularly and will rely heavily on his chief of staff.

There is more INSIDE POLITICS ahead, including new evidence that, even in politics, men are from Mars and women from Venus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: "No blood for oil" is a popular battle cry of anti-war protesters, but does it ring true with the American people?

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is back with us with an answer.

SCHNEIDER: Well, the rest of the world does believe that this is all about oil. But the Bush administration denies it and the American people recoil from that notion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PROTESTERS: No blood for oil! No blood for oil!

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): You see the message at anti-war protests in Iraq, Australia, France, as well as Denver and Washington. Why do people all over the world believe this is all about oil?

Well, duh. Doesn't Iraq have the second largest proven oil reserves in the world? Doesn't the U.S. consume a quarter of the world's oil? Aren't George W. Bush and Dick Cheney oil men?

STEVE KRETZMANN, OIL ANALYST, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: If McDonald's, the world's largest consumer of potatoes, were to announce in advance that it was going to buy Idaho and that that purchase had nothing to do with potatoes, what would you think?

SCHNEIDER: Some Democrats running for president insinuate that it's all about oil.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This administration, as Ralph Nader said, is marinated in oil.

SCHNEIDER: That's ridiculous, says the Bush administration.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: The issue is not about Iraqi oil. If the United States had wanted access to Iraqi oil, we could have dropped our whole policy 12 years ago, lifted the sanctions, and let Saddam Hussein have his weapons of mass destruction.

SCHNEIDER: After all, there's plenty of oil available elsewhere in the world. And more Iraqi oil production would drive down prices and profits.

JIM PLACKE, CAMBRIDGE ENERGY RESEARCH ASSOCIATES: Oil companies don't have a habit of investing in oil production that drives down the price of oil.

SCHNEIDER: The oil industry wants stability.

PLACKE: It's better to have a stable price in a reasonable range.

SCHNEIDER: And war is the ultimate instability.

PETER HARTCHER, "AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW": The oil industry wants oil, but they don't have to go through a war to get it.

SCHNEIDER: There's a reason why the rest of the world readily accepts the idea that this is a war for oil. They have not heard any other convincing argument. The American public rejects that idea by 2-1. Have they heard a more convincing argument? Yes: 9/11.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: September 11 should say to the American people that we are now a battlefield.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: The real reason for the war, some analysts say, is to create a new world order based on a predominance of U.S. power. But big agendas like that make Americans nervous. Americans don't want to dominate the world. They just want to feel safe -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Well, that's probably still proof that there's a big divide between how we see things and how Europe does.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, yes.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Bill.

He presents a daily dose of dysfunctional America and he pays the price in a new poll. Up next: Jerry Springer says he may run for office in Ohio, but he has some work to do if he wants to win over most potential voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The Senate battle over judicial nominee Miguel Estrada apparently is nearing another vote. Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist today filed to hold a second cloture vote, the procedure required to end the filibuster. A cloture vote last week failed to gain the required 60 votes needed to end debate.

Vice President Dick Cheney today made a rare appearance in the Senate chamber to preside over debate on Estrada and other judicial nominees. Senator Frist read from a letter from President Bush calling for changes in the nomination press. It reads, in part: "Senators who are filibustering a vote on Miguel Estrada are flouting the intention of the United States Constitution and the tradition of the United States Senate. And now a minority of senators are threatening for the first time to use ideological filibusters as a standard tool to indefinitely block confirmation of well-qualified nominees with strong bipartisan support. This has to end."

Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily": HUD Secretary Mel Martinez is in the mix for potential run for the Senate in his home state of Florida. CNN's Dana Bash reports top Republicans have approached the White House about recruiting Martinez to run next year for the seat held by Democrat Bob Graham. Graham, as you know, has announced plans to run for president. Republicans see Martinez as a strong candidate to win the Senate seat and to help the president capture Florida.

Years of playing ringmaster to America's most dysfunctional talk show guests has left Jerry Springer with a tattered public image. As Springer considers joining the Ohio Democratic race for the Senate, a new Ohio poll finds 71 percent of state voters view him unfavorably. Just 13 percent have a positive opinion of Springer; 2 percent said they'd never heard of him.

A new poll in Louisiana reveals how voters view men and women political candidates. According to the survey of 300 men and 300 women, women candidates are seen as more honest then men who run for office. Women are also seen as more effective leaders on the issues of education and health care. Men are seen as the stronger candidates when it comes to improving the economy and fighting crime.

An infusion of federal money for cash-strapped cities, but is it enough to cover the rising cost of security? I'll talk with two mayors next about the cost of making their cities safe in the war against terrorism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced the release of millions in federal money yesterday to help local governments cover the costs of the war on terrorism. The grants total $750 million for training and equipping local fire departments. Last week, the government released $566 million for first-responders.

With me here in Washington -- welcome, gentlemen -- are two mayors, Republican Harry Smith of Greenwood, Mississippi; Democrat John DeStefano of New Haven, Connecticut, who is also, we want to add, president of the National League of Cities.

I'm afraid we are not going to get much debate here. You don't think the federal government has done enough to help you with your cities.

JOHN DESTEFANO (D), MAYOR OF NEW HAVEN: No, we haven't seen it.

Even what the secretary announced yesterday was an existing program which was slightly beefed up. So, was there $3.5 billion in the last budget for homeland security? Yes. And most of it had been there the year before and the year before under different titles in the budget.

CROWLEY: Well, Mayor Smith, I know these numbers fly around in billions and people's sort of -- their eyes glaze over. What is it that you need to do with whatever money that you get? What don't you have?

HARRY SMITH (R), MAYOR OF GREENWOOD: Well, with our 18,000 member cities in NLC, we get a wide spectrum of requests and needs, because we vary a lot.

But the things that I think we need most, we need that first- responder money. We've had to beef up a lot of things that we do. When we go to orange alert, there are certain things that we all have to do. And they cost money. And the money has not been forthcoming. Now, you know, Candy, that municipal budgets, state budgets, are stretched. And we're being asked to do things that we've never had to do before. So it's really tough to do these things.

CROWLEY: So, give me an example of -- what is it that you have sort of got to have?

DESTEFANO: You go to orange alert, you're putting more security on your port, if you have a port. You put security on your airport -- if you have high-visibility places, if you have a nuclear power plant.

I have a university that has a Bush family member in it. You pay attention to that. You want to be able, when someone pushes 911, and they say, geez, we've got this white powder here or some other material, to be able to send people in who will be able to do something about it, be trained, be able to be protected from what could happen.

CROWLEY: So, are you saying that New Haven, that Greenwood are not safe places at this point?

DESTEFANO: What you say is, they're safer places. What you can't say is that they are safe to the level that we think most families would want to be protected.

And the fact is, a year and a half -- today is a year and a half after 9/11, if you think about it. I hadn't even realized that. A year and a half later, the only money that's come out, new money, is $100 million to 50 states for planning and much of which hasn't been released to cities and towns. And if you think who's going to show up, it's your local public safety officer.

CROWLEY: Mayor Smith, let me ask you. I think a lot of people sort of look and say, look, isn't there something you can let go of? Are you prettying up a park too much? Isn't there stuff in your budget that you can cut in order to get this done, because what's more of a priority?

SMITH: It's funny you would mention a park. At the last council meeting, I told somebody, no, we can't build another park. We don't have the money.

Look, we have cut budgets, cut budgets, cut budgets. In my community, we've also raised taxes just to provide the basic services that we've always provided. There's really not much place for us to go for these things that we're having to do that are extra. My town is a small town, a rural community. We are not -- I wouldn't think that we are a prime target for any sort of attack. But we may well be a refugee center, because we have excellent medical facilities and things like that.

And we are adversely affected if our ports 300 miles away on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are hurt or our city capital is hit, if John's city is hit. We all saw what happened to us with the strike in the port in California last year at Christmas. So it affects all of us.

CROWLEY: I see you almost leaping out of your seat when I say, can't you cut something else? So...

DESTEFANO: This is playing out against 45 states that have $820 billion in budget deficits who are solving those budget deficits by cutting aid to cities and towns.

In fact, we just did a survey of cities and towns in America; 25 percent of us either have or are about to lay off public safety officers in order to balance our budgets. Nearly three-quarters of our cities and towns had public safety officers called up into the reserves. So, if you think about it, what we're actually having to do is confront this with less support than we even had before.

CROWLEY: Mayor DeStefano, Mayor Smith, thank you both so much for joining us -- something we rarely get here on INSIDE POLITICS, bipartisan agreement.

DESTEFANO: You bet.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Thanks.

SMITH: Thank you.

CROWLEY: INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Politicians here in Washington are all too aware that they live in dangerous times, but some may be more vulnerable to old- fashioned threats.

Senator Charles Schumer's car was stolen over the weekend from outside his family's apartment building in Brooklyn. To add insult to injury, he complains he had to replace his tollway pass at a cost of $23. Also over the weekend, Congressman Frank Lucas lost a tooth and suffered a cut lip during a run-in on his Oklahoma ranch. The culprit? A cow. Not this one, but a 250-pound heifer who butted heads with Lucas, which makes you wonder what the heck they were arguing about.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley.

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