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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Hillary Clinton's New Book Released; John Edwards Stumps and Celebrates in South Carolina

Aired June 9, 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: Getting a read on Hillary Clinton.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I had to address what was public in my memoir. And I tried to do so in a way that might provide some insight and information to the reader.

ANNOUNCER: Her take on her husband and scandal hits the bookstores. Is the public buying it?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so you honor me by being here and helping celebrate my 50th birthday. Do I look 50 years old?

CROWD: No!

ANNOUNCER: The icing on the cake. White House hopeful John Edwards stumps and celebrates in his home state.

A single senator takes on the Pentagon. And hundreds of Air Force officers are caught in the middle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington: JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

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

Well, Hillary Clinton says she has no intention of running for president, but she clearly has ambitions, if not for higher office, which remains to be seen, then at least she wants to make her mark in publishing. The interview and book-signing blitz is now under way to sell her memoir, "Living History."

Our Jonathan Karl has been watching Senator Clinton is action today in New York -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, this was quite an event here, quick a kickoff for Hillary Clinton in New York. She went to Fifth Avenue, the Barnes & Noble at 48th Street and Fifth.

There were people that had been waiting in line since 9:00 last night to buy some of the first copies and, more importantly, get one of 250 autographed copies. Senator Clinton agreed to sign the first 250 copies sold at that location.

This is just the beginning of an all-out blitz that the senator will be going on this summer. They have printed close to a million copies, says Simon & Schuster, of this bill. That's usually the kind of print run you see for a "Harry Potter"-type book, not for a political memoir. But they believe that they can make it all work, the $8 million they paid her for it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL (voice-over): The $8 million smile: With the kind of fanfare politicians, even some presidential candidates only dream about, Hillary Clinton unveiled her new book in Midtown Manhattan.

CLINTON: These were obviously personal and private moments that, unfortunately, were made public for partisan, political purposes.

KARL: Exhibit A: Monica Lewinsky. Thanks to books on CD, you can hear Mrs. Clinton's reaction to learning the truth after months of lies.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CLINTON: Up until now, I only thought that he had been foolish for paying attention to the young woman. And I was convinced that he was being railroaded. I couldn't believe he would do anything to endanger our marriage and our family. I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I had believed him at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KARL: But, apparently, Mrs. Clinton still believes her husband's denials when it comes to the Gennifer Flowers scandal which nearly derailed his Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. She called Flowers' story a -- quote -- "whale of a tale," but does not include her reaction when Mr. Clinton later acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Flowers.

Regarding Lewinsky, Mrs. Clinton says she wants to -- quote -- "wring Bill's neck." But one can only imagine what she'd want to do to independent counsel Ken Starr, whom she blames for mistreating her husband.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CLINTON: No matter what he had done, I did not think any person deserved the abusive treatment he had received. His privacy, my privacy, Monica Lewinsky's privacy, and the privacy of our families had been invaded in a cruel and gratuitous manner.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: As for Bill Clinton, the former president, through his spokesman, Jim Kennedy, put out a statement saying -- quote -- "Hillary's book is really good. I've read it cover to cover five times." But, Judy, we don't know if he said that statement under oath -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It is unusual hearing her say these words on that audiotape, isn't it?

KARL: It really is.

WOODRUFF: We're going to -- a lot of people are going to be listening.

All right, Jon Karl joining us today from New York -- thank you, Jon.

Well, now we quickly want to bring in political analyst and Hillary Clinton watcher Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, this is as much -- for all the personal interest in here, this is as much a political document as it is a document of literature, isn't it?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely.

Like any mid-career memoir by a public official, this book -- and I've read the whole thing now -- seems as much designed to portray her to the American people as a foundation of any future ambitions, as it is to just simply explain what she believes. You get a really good sense of how she operates as a politician and how she might position herself as a presidential candidate, if she does in fact run at some point in the future.

WOODRUFF: And how would that be?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think you get three large points about her as a possible presidential candidate, I think.

First, she presents herself as someone who's chastened and more pragmatic as the result of a failure of her health care reform during the first term. Second, she largely portrays herself as a centrist, in the tradition of her husband's new Democratic project.

But maybe the most dramatic thing was her zest for political combat that comes across in the s book. Judy, this year, there's a lot of demand among Democrats for candidates who will take it to the Republicans. And she does not shy away from conflict in this book, particularly with Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, and, I think most interestingly, William Rehnquist.

She says that she's someone who has a real stomach for political combat. And that could be attractive to Democrats.

WOODRUFF: So, in that sense, she has some differences with her husband.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. That's another striking thing in this book. She comes across as someone who has some similarities to her husband, in that she's very tenacious and she clearly sees tenacity as the core of success, I think, in politics, as in life. But she's different in that I think she is more inclined toward conflict. She tends to divide the world more into friends and enemies than he did.

She's less inclined than he is to look for consensus, for new ways to solve old disputes. She's more likely to try the steamroller over her opponents. And that really comes through. Even at one point in the book, she seems to be leveraging him -- I think a rather dramatic revelation where she says that she -- if he signed a welfare reform bill that she opposed, she said she would go public in her opposition. That's really an extraordinary bit of bureaucrat brinkmanship from someone who had not been elected to anything in her own right.

WOODRUFF: And, of course, she went on to support that welfare reform signing by the president, though.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. And she portrays that the third bill, after the earlier two vetoes, she portrays that as an outgrowth of her lessons from health care about being pragmatic, covering both sides of the base here, as she often does in this book.

WOODRUFF: Ron, does she come off more liberal or more conservative than her husband?

BROWNSTEIN: I think she comes off largely the same politically in terms of ideology, but much more combative.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times," he's read it all since Saturday afternoon. Thank you, Ron.

A quick reminder: Senator Clinton will be Larry King's guest tomorrow on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Well, in her book, Senator Clinton does not endorse any of the 2004 presidential candidates outright. But if you're looking for clues about her leanings, note that she does praise former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt as a leader in health care reform. She also mentions Senator Joe Lieberman a few times, with little fanfare, including his Senate floor denunciation of her husband's conduct in the Lewinsky scandal.

You will not find Senator John Edwards' name in the index. While Mrs. Clinton has been grabbing headlines, our Candy Crowley reports that Edwards has been back on his home turf and taking a walk down memory lane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: See, when I was young, growing up, I stayed over there with Grandma Wade (ph).

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Johnny Edwards, the name on his birth certificate, and his parents returned this weekend to Seneca, South Carolina, a state Edwards must win in the primary season and where his parents once rented two rooms in a three-room house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't know any better than this was good, because we had a new baby and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's all we could do. So...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new marriage. And we were very happy.

EDWARDS: And you had me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's right. We had you.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: The senator from North Carolina is the package. A Southerner in a party that needs Southern comfort, he is smart, charming, empathetic, energetic and genetically blessed.

EDWARDS: Great to see you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EDWARDS: And so you honor me by being here to help celebrate my 50th birthday. Do I look 50 years old?

CROWD: No!

CROWLEY: No, he doesn't look 50, which may be a problem. In this post-9/11 world, wisdom and gray hair may be the coin of the realm. And Edwards looks so green, thus the weekend warmup to his 50th birthday, the big 5-0, half a century, cakes with all the candles and an overblown AARP card. Message? "I'm not as young as you think."

EDWARDS: People will say, you've got time. Why are you doing this now? You've got time. You could do this later. You've got plenty of time. Well, I don't. I don't have time.

CROWLEY: Edwards is a man on the move, ambition wrapped in a Southern drawl.

EDWARDS: The fact that you walk around on a ranch you just bought in Texas with a big belt buckle does not mean you understand what's going on in rural America. I'll tell you that.

CROWLEY: Of those given a shot at winning the Democratic presidential race, freshman Senator John Edwards is the youngest, least-experienced politician.

EDWARDS: It depends on what experience you think matters. I think it's your entire life experience that matters, where you come from, what your view of the world is, whether you've been engaged in really tough fights on behalf of the kind of people I've been fighting for my whole life.

CROWLEY: But his nontraditional resume is not the only concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless you distance yourself from Bush's war and Bush's policies, I cannot support you.

CROWLEY: Even in North Carolina, where polls show he could be beaten by George Bush, Edwards gets an earful from his party's left wing.

EDWARDS: I am not Bush-light and will never be Bush-light.

CROWLEY: Too young, too moderate or too soon, whatever the reason, this total package languishes in the single digits of nationwide polls. Aides say they're unconcerned; this man in a hurry has time enough to change that.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Seneca, South Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Candy spent the weekend with Senator Edwards traveling through that state.

Well, news now about some of John Edwards Democratic presidential rivals in our "Campaign News Daily." Four Democratic hopefuls attended Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack's annual picnic over the weekend. Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, and Bob Graham joined the governor and about 500 party activists for the event. Graham and Kucinich took the opportunity to repeat their increasingly tough criticism of how President Bush presented U.S. intelligence about Iraq before the war.

President Bush has the fund-raising Pioneers and Rangers. Well, now Senator Bob Graham has the Bobcats. The group will be responsible for raising $1,000 in small donations from their friends and neighbors. The Graham Web site says the Bobcats are Graham's way of taking on President Bush and his -- quote -- "deep-pocket fat-cats." Bobcats who bring in $1,000 by the end of the month will receive a lapel pin featuring a Bobcat logo.

Still ahead: Texas flashbacks. What is the White House saying now about the walkout by rebel Democrats? Questions about federal funds.

A Republican senator is defending his political battle against the Pentagon and the holdup of Air Force promotions, including pilots who fought in Iraq.

And later: The ball's in their court. Before any justice retires, political partisans are gearing up to fight over a replacement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today commented on claims that the White House played a role in the search for those Texas Democratic lawmakers who fled to Oklahoma last month over a redistricting dispute. Fleischer said that the White House did not authorize any use of federal funds to help Texas Rangers look for the lawmakers. He said the administration also has no plans to respond to a written inquiry into the matter from Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Joe Lieberman.

Coming up: Bill and Bob together again. We'll tell you what they had to say -- INSIDE POLITICS back in one minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Promotions for several hundred Air Force personnel have been put on hold because of a dispute between the Air Force and Idaho's senior senator, Republican Larry Craig.

With me now for more, our congressional correspondent Kate Snow here in the studio in Washington.

Kate, what is Senator Craig so upset about?

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Senator Craig says it's not anything against these Air Force men and women. It's really not personal. He says it's just a longstanding dispute that he wants resolved.

We're talking about pilots, some of whom just came back from Iraq. We're talking about high-ranking generals, in all, up to 400 members of the Air Force, one source says just under 400, men and women, from the rank of major, on up to general, all being affected by the actions of Larry Craig, who has put their careers, essentially, in limbo right now.

Senator Craig is trying to get new planes for an air base of his in Boise, Idaho, C-130 planes he wants to go to Gowen Field in Boise, something he says that he was promised a whole long time ago. If he doesn't get those new planes, he says, the Senate will not promote those Air Force officers.

CNN caught up with Senator Craig in the hallway outside his office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: For 18 months, I've been working with the Air Force to try to bring stability to an Air Guard mission in the state of Idaho. And during that 18-month period, long before Iraqi Freedom, they have really refused to work with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, this happens all of the time in the Senate, Judy. As senators, have a lot of power. One senator can bring legislation to a screeching halt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SNOW (voice-over): In a tradition that dates back to the '60s, senators can secretly put a hold on a bill, essentially threatening to filibuster the measure if it ever comes up for a vote.

RICHARD BAKER, SENATE HISTORIAN: And they're saying to the leader, don't move this on to passage, because if you do, I'll object. And if I object, that could then trigger a filibuster. And if we trigger a filibuster, then, all the sudden, you've lost control, Mr. Leader, of the floor, because you can no longer predict the schedule.

SNOW: It used to be more common to hold up one single nominee, gay rights activist James Hormel, nominated by President Clinton to be ambassador to Luxembourg, held up for nearly two years. But senators have placed blanket holds, too. In the mid-'80s, under President Reagan, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd held up thousands of military promotions to make a point. Critics say the practice has gotten out of control in the past 10 years.

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Senators have been very happy to have an anonymous process where they can take a hostage, hold up a nomination, hold up a bill, and use it as a bludgeon against an administration usually to get their way on something completely unrelated.

SNOW: In this case, Republican Senator John McCain says Air Force generals are caught in the crossfire. "It is completely inappropriate to place a hold on the promotion of scores of service men and women who play no role whatsoever in establishing Air Force policy," McCain said in a statement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, as for Senator Larry Craig, Judy, he says that he is simply using the opportunity at hand to get his message across. He says he wasn't keeping this a secret at all, but the administration clearly leaked it to the press, wants to play it out in public. He says he's going to hold his ground and he wants those planes -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So we have yet to see how this one is going to play through. All right, Kate Snow, thank you very much.

No vacancies yet, but the battle over possible Supreme Court nominations is already under way -- politics of the high court when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It has been almost 10 years, believe it or not, since there was a vacancy on the Supreme Court, providing opposing activists plenty of time to get ready for the battle over the upcoming vacancies predicted by many court observers.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is here with us now for more on the early skirmishes, you might say.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. The doctrine of preemptive strikes has struck the Supreme Court. Liberals and conservatives are gearing up for a battle over a nominee President Bush has not yet named to fill a court seat that's not yet vacant.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Supreme Court has become the battleground over the most contentious issues in American politics: abortion, gay rights, affirmative action.

JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT: Because we want the class to be diverse. And so they use race. They use sex.

SCHNEIDER: The court is closely divided over those issues. One liberal group is already running TV ads to mobilize public opposition to any nominee who opposes abortion rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

NARRATOR: There's still time to protect your right to choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Conservatives are gearing up a countercampaign. Until the 1980s, the Senate typically voted to confirm or reject Supreme Court nominees based on their qualifications.

C. BOYDEN GRAY, BUSH ADMINISTRATION CONSUMER: Well, it was the Bork nomination which really changed it, which made it into something of a political circus.

SCHNEIDER: The Senate rejected President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork in 1987 because his views were considered too extreme.

The real political circus came when President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the court in 1991. Thomas' confirmation turned into a battle not over his qualifications, but over his behavior. Why did Thomas get confirmed, while Bork was rejected? In both years, Democrats controlled the Senate. Southern Democratic senators were the swing voters. Southern Democrats survive only with the support of African-Americans.

Polls in 1987 showed most blacks opposed Bork, because they feared he would roll back civil rights. Only two Southern Democratic senators voted to confirm Bork. Polls in 1991 showed that most blacks supported Clarence Thomas, even though his chief accuser was a black woman, especially after Thomas made this statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: It is the high-tech lynching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Eight Southern Southern Democratic senators voted to confirm Thomas.

Now Republicans hold the Senate by a slim majority. The swing votes will be cast by moderate Republicans, like Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Olympia Snowe of Maine. They survive only with the support of women. This year, the crucial question in any battle over a Bush nominee is likely to be, how do soccer moms feel?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Maybe President Bush can nominate someone whose views are largely unknown. His father did that when he named David Souter in 1990. But Souter has often voted with court liberals on issues like abortion. Conservatives are determined to resist any nominee of unknown reliability -- no more Souters.

WOODRUFF: And we know the president has said he very much admires Justices Scalia and Thomas.

SCHNEIDER: Scalia. Exactly.

WOODRUFF: So, Bill Schneider, we'll keep watching it all. Thanks very much.

Still ahead: Hillary Clinton says her husband wants everyone to buy her new book. But was the former president trying to steal some of her limelight?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(FINANCIAL UPDATE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: If you were watching Hillary Clinton's first TV interview about her new memoir on ABC last night, you may have missed her husband on CBS. In his regular "Face-off" with Bob Dole on "60 Minutes", Bill Clinton defended his suggestion that two-term presidents should be allowed to run again after some time out of office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't worry. I know I won't be running for president again. It takes too long to change the Constitution. And I don't believe in human cloning. But in the future, our country might face a crisis that a former president is uniquely qualified to help solve. And the American public should have that option.

And, as for you, Senator, you can run again or you could give Senator Dole a shot.

BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Wow, getting a wife to run for president. Wonder where you got that idea, Mr. President? You've been reading too many books.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, it seems even Bob Dole is talking about Hillary Clinton's book.

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

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