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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

President Bush Condemns Jerusalem Suicide Attack; Will Gray Davis Be Recalled?

Aired June 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: It may look like a kids' party, but it's a protest on Capitol Hill targeting House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his stand on child tax credits.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I couldn't believe that what he had told me and everybody else for a very long period of time was not the facts.

ANNOUNCER: Many Americans don't believe her, but do they like her? We have new poll numbers this hour on Hillary Clinton and the man she stood by.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: I mean, this is really embarrassing. I just forgot the name of -- our state governor's name.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHWARZENEGGER: But I know that you will help me recall him.

ANNOUNCER: Will California Republicans terminate Gray Davis' term as governor? We'll talk to a congressman fighting to boot Davis and take his job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

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

We do begin with the bloodshed in the Middle East that we reported to you just moments ago. President Bush is condemning the suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, even as he struggles to keep his road map for Middle East peace from becoming a casualty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is clear there are people in the Middle East who hate peace. There are people who want to kill in order to make sure that the desires of Israel to live in secured peace don't happen, who kill to make sure the desires of the prime minister from the Palestinian Authority and others of a peaceful state, living side by side with Israel, do not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: CNN's Mike Hanna joins us now from Jerusalem.

Mike, what is to prevent people from looking at this and saying: Here we go again. How do we pull this peace process together?

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Judy, it is an all-too-familiar sight, attempts to implement a peace plan falling apart in a wave of violence, and a wave of violence it was, indeed, over 20 people killed and more than 100 injured in a day of attacks, the suicide bomb attack here in Jerusalem in which 16 Israelis were killed, the suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew detonating his explosive device aboard the No. 16 bus in the middle of Jerusalem at the height of evening rush hour.

Then, shortly afterwards, Israeli attacks in Gaza, which Israel says was targeted at members of the militant Hamas organization, seven people killed in that attack, among them, at least two senior figures in the Hamas militant movement.

So, once again, a peace move process attempting to be implemented, but, once again, it stalls at the first sign of violence. The key issue, Judy, is whether this time they manage to get momentum going again. By they, I mean all the parties to it, the Palestinian leadership, the Israeli leadership, and U.S. President George W. Bush, who has put his own personal stand and made his own personal commitment to ensuring that, this time, the peace process works. At this stage, it doesn't look likely, though, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Mike, just about an hour ago, Senator John McCain said here on CNN that he believes what has got to happen is that the U.S. has got to somehow pressure the Saudis and other governments that are continuing to put money into the pockets of Hamas and these terrorist organizations.

HANNA: Yes, indeed, that's one element of the tenets, an element that was discussed in a meeting between President Bush and a number of Arab leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh last week.

At that particular meeting, it was made very, very firm to these Arab leaders that any form of funding to terror organizations such as Hamas must be stopped immediately. Now, straight after that, complete assurance came from Saudi Arabia, from Jordan, saying that, yes, indeed, they would meet their commitments in terms of that and that they would not support terrorism in any form or from any source or for whatever justification.

So that was a week ago. Shortly afterwards, he had that summit meeting in Jordan, where the Israelis and Palestinians made their commitment. But a key issue is funding. Where does the funding come from? How does it happen? Perhaps one week is too short of time to see any clear results on the ground.

But, in the meantime, Israel is making quite clear that, if nobody else stops the militants from carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians, it will do so. And, by doing so, it then makes the job of the Palestinian prime minister to get some kind of truce in place absolutely impossible. It's a vicious circle here, Judy, which is very hard to see how it can actually be stopped or resolved at this point.

WOODRUFF: Very much a vicious cycle. Thank you, Mike. And more depressing than ever. Thank you, Mike Hanna, reporting for us live from Jerusalem.

And now we come back here to Washington and to Capitol Hill and a potent political issue here and a child-friendly photo-op to go with it. It all comes the day before a House vote on extending a child tax credit to lower-income families. Democrats don't like the bill or Majority Leader Tom DeLay's efforts to block a Senate version that Democrats would prefer.

Here now, our congressional correspondent Kate Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A made- for-TV rally orchestrated by the Children's Defense Fund, the focus by Democratic speakers on extending the child tax credit increase to millions of lower-income Americans.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Tom DeLay says it ain't going to happen. I stand here with you today and say it is going to happen on the power and the importance of the people of America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Families with strollers up this way, up this way!

SNOW: Following organizers, moms and dads, kids in strollers walked for blocks past the Supreme Court, headed to Majority Leader DeLay's office.

PROTESTERS: Leave no child behind!

SNOW: Most of the families CNN talked to didn't know why DeLay was targeted, didn't know the details of the partisan battle over the tax credit. And most of these moms are getting a check this summer for the $400 increase in the child tax credit signed into law by President Bush.

Colleen McCrystal, a lawyer from the Capitol Hill neighborhood, brought eight week-old David out. She says she doesn't need a tax break.

COLLEEN MCCRYSTAL, ATTORNEY: It seems like everything we have done for tax breaks in the last year or two is about the wealthiest top percent and, frankly, people probably like me, who really don't need it, and to keep taking from the folks who we're supposed to be here to help. The government, that's what it's supposed to be about, is helping those who have a whole lot less.

SNOW: As the moms passed through security, House Republicans were just wrapping up a meeting upstairs. Tom DeLay, who rarely works out of this building, avoided the cameras.

But Republicans can do political theater, too. When the crowd reached DeLay's door, they were greeted by Press Secretary Stuart Roy, holding his 2-year-old daughter, Halli (ph).

STUART ROY, TOM DELAY PRESS SECRETARY: So we want to extend this $1,000-per-child tax credit for years to come and not let it end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why didn't you do that in the earlier tax bill? And we can do that next year. But, meanwhile, why don't we get the kids left behind now?

ROY: We would love to have extended the $1,000-per-child tax credit and made it permanent, but it was people like you and the Democrats that wouldn't allow us to

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, we were...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And, Judy, you can see, the arguments continue.

Up here on the Hill, what will happen tomorrow is, the House Republicans will bring up a bill that will cost about eight times as much as what the Senate passed last week to fix this problem. House Republican leaders presented that bill to the president last night at the White House. I'm told by one member who was in that meeting that the president really hadn't been aware of the details.

But once they laid it out to him, he was more receptive to what the House is doing. I'm told Republican leaders told the White House they were not very pleased with some of the messages they had heard coming out of the White House. Aides say the president didn't tell the House not to do what they're going to do tomorrow. He didn't say: You must pass the Senate version of this bill.

But one aide says what he did say was: You better do something and get this off the table -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Kate, very quickly, the White House is with the Senate version or the House version?

SNOW: Well, that's the confusing part.

Apparently, from members and from one member and from several aides who know about this meeting yesterday, the White House listened to all of it and, basically, bottom line, said: We don't care how you do it. Let's just get this off the table. Let's get this fix in place, if you want to call it a fix. Let's cover these lower-income Americans -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate Snow, there's going to be some movement one way or another. Thanks very much. Well, President Bush, for his part, hit the road today to help seal the latest bid on Capitol Hill to approve a Medicare prescription drug plan. Even as Mr. Bush appeared before a medical group in Chicago, momentum for the legislation continued to build. Both the president and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle now agree the plan does seem likely to win approval.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: With the right spirit, I am confident that both the House and the Senate can act on historic Medicare improvements before the Fourth of July recess.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Nothing would please us more than to come to some conclusion successfully this year, being able to say to seniors all across this country, we now will ensure that you will get the best drug benefit coverage that we can provide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: But Democrats on the Hill remain divided about the GOP-backed prescription drug plan. Many say it doesn't go far enough to meet seniors' needs. Others say they're worried about handing a political victory to President Bush.

House Republican Whip, the No. 2 Republican in the House, Roy Blunt, is under fire now by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It is accusing Blunt and other Republicans of trying to turn the Department of Homeland Security into their own department of political security.

Now, separately, "The Washington Post" reports that Blunt tried to insert a provision benefiting tobacco giant Philip Morris into legislation creating the Homeland Security Department. The provision that would have made it harder to sell cigarettes on the Internet was removed from the bill before passage, with the support of the House Republican leadership, we should say.

It is not too surprising that Democrats would pounce on the report, which also details Blunt's personal and political ties to the tobacco industry. What is surprising is that it was Republican sources who apparently were not shy about talking to "The Post" about what Blunt has done. Blunt's office calls "The Post" story -- quote -- "ridiculous" and says Blunt did not do anything out of the ordinary to move the legislation forward.

Now we go to a favorite Republican political target. The Hillary Clinton book-selling tour continues. She gave her first live television interview about her memoirs on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night and talked more about her efforts to save her marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

CLINTON: It is the case that we did have to work very hard to decide whether we were going to stay married. And we did have counseling. I write about that in the book. LARRY KING, HOST: Did you lay any blame at yourself?

CLINTON: Well, I think in a marriage you have to be honest and ask yourself, you know, what is my role? What is my responsibility?

You know, marriage, like any relationship, has two people involved in it, whether it's a problem at a particular period in time or a difficulty that you have to confront together. So I certainly asked myself a lot of hard questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, what does the public think about Senator Clinton and her story?

Let's bring in now our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, looking at the latest poll numbers, has Senator Clinton's image gotten any better since the book came out?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, but it may not just be the book.

Opinion of Senator Clinton has definitely approved since mid- March. Just before the war, 45 percent expressed a favorable opinion of New York's junior senator. Now 53 percent like her. But look at this. Her husband's image has improved, too, at exactly the same rate. That is the highest favorability rating for Bill Clinton since he left office.

In the book, Mrs. Clinton says she eventually decided to forgive her husband and she expresses support for his policies. Well, apparently, a lot of Americans also forgive Bill Clinton. We asked people if they thought the country was better off with Bill Clinton or George W. Bush as president. And the result, look at this, a near tie. Instead of dredging up bad memories of the Clinton scandals, her book may be setting off a way of Clinton nostalgia.

WOODRUFF: Well, but he can't run again, at least not right now, according to the Constitution. But is this setting off a wave maybe for Hillary for president?

SCHNEIDER: Judy, not quite.

We asked registered voters: How likely would you be to vote for Hillary Clinton if she runs for president in 2008? Fifty-seven percent say, well, they're not likely to do that, especially men. The idea of Hillary for president does not get much support from men. Women, however, are pretty closely split.

WOODRUFF: A very interesting gender difference there, something to explored later.

Bill, finally, what is the public saying about whether they believe Senator Clinton and what she writes in the book? SCHNEIDER: They don't believe she is entirely truthful, at least not the part where she says she did not believe her husband was having an affair with Monica Lewinsky until he admitted it to her eight months after the story broke.

Most Americans say, she's not really being truthful about that. She knew long before he admitted it. You know, women feel that way, too. Do people think she should have divorced him? No. Interestingly, men are more likely than women to say she should have dumped the guy, none of this stand-by-your-man stuff for men, especially when the man involved is Bill Clinton -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Some very interesting poll results. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Well, it is going to be a Clinton festival on "LARRY KING LIVE" this weekend: an interview with former President Bill Clinton on Saturday and then Larry's full interview with Senator Hillary Clinton on Sunday. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on both nights.

Coming up, I'll talk to the Republican who is putting his own money into the campaign to boot California Governor Gray Davis from office.

The repot man is after one of the nine Democrats running for president. We'll tell you which candidate is in the crosshairs.

Plus: Does Jerry Springer want to make a move from daytime TV to Capitol Hill? We'll check out his new Web site for a hint.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: California Governor Gray Davis won a second term a little more than six months ago, but, already, that victory seems like a distant memory. A Republican-led group is working to force a recall election; 31 California governors have faced recall efforts through the years, but all of those efforts failed. This attempt appears to be gaining momentum.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I mean, this is really embarrassing. I just forgot the name of -- our state governor's name.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHWARZENEGGER: But I know that you will help me recall him.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Is Gray Davis' stay in the California Statehouse about to be terminated? Organizers of the Recall Davis movement say more than a half-million California voters have signed petitions supporting a new election to decide if the governor should stay governor. And they say they are on course to gather the 900,000 signatures they need to get the referendum on the ballot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody save us from Gray Davis!

WOODRUFF: Most Californians apparently don't like their governor. A recent poll shows Davis suffering a miserable 24 percent approval rating.

If the referendum makes it onto the ballot, voters will pick the next governor on the same day they decide whether or not to recall Davis. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the recall effort, is likely to run. But when it comes to star power, he can't compete with another possible GOP candidate.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's playing coy on his intentions, but he sure has been raising his political profile. A bevy of Democrats may also be waiting in the wings, among them, California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Both have denounced the recall movement. Still up in the air: when voters would go to the polls. It could be as early as the fall or as late as March, when California holds its presidential primary.

The timing, like everything else in this political saga, comes with a whole other set of what-ifs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And with me now to talk more about the attempt to recall Governor Gray Davis is one of the effort's key backers. He's Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: You're welcome.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure you know right now, the FEC, Federal Election Commission, is investigating a complaint from some supporters of Governor Davis about, about $450,000 given by a real estate company that you own to the recall effort. They're asking whether this is a violation of new campaign finance laws.

First of all, how much money have you personally raised in this effort?

ISSA: Well, it is not allowed for me to raise money. So I don't solicit soft money. That is something that has not been decided in the courts post this new McCain-Feingold law.

However, the frivolous case that's been brought by the governor or his surrogates is all about whether or not I'm free as a citizen to give my own money or whether I'm going to be limited under some federal statute to being able to participate in free-speech exercise, including giving-away of my own money. It is very frivolous and it's intended only to scare people away from giving.

WOODRUFF: Now, this is, what, $450,000 from your real estate company, is that right, money to the recall effort? ISSA: This is money that my wife and I personally control and own and which I directed the money to be given to the recall effort, because I believe Gray Davis has, in fact, misled the people, misled them in a way, using the power of government, that led to an outcome in the election that the people would not have voted for had they known.

If they had known that, in fact, the budget challenge had not been met, but in fact simply rolled over for another year, if they had known that we would be facing $38.2 billion worth of deficit and that the governor would only have tax increases as the answer, they would have voted differently. They also would have voted differently if he hadn't spent $11 million distorting the Republican primary and causing Dick Riordan not to be the nominee of the Republican Party. So there has been a lot of money used for distortion.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, Congressman...

ISSA: Mine is only being used to help people get an opportunity to vote.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, you are now being singled out by Democrats in California because it's -- at least it's believed that you're interested in being governor yourself. For your positions, anti-abortion, your position in -- against the assault weapons ban and so forth, they're basically saying you're too conservative for the state of California.

ISSA: Well, the amazing thing is, they're making allegations of votes that I've never made and bills that I've never authored.

I actually voted to ban offshore oil exploration here -- there in California, while they're making the exact opposite claim. There's a lot of claims being made, but it's not about Darrell Issa. This is about whether Gray Davis should be recalled for cause by the voters in a way that has been on the ballot for almost 100 years, something that came out of a progressive movement and which the governor was very aware when he ran for office.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, Congressman, you now have the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger out there talking more and more about his own possible political future. Since this -- the law will work in a way that anybody could be elected with just a plurality of the vote, as little as 10 percent of the vote, are you at all concerned, with all the effort you're putting into it, that Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, could end up being elected?

ISSA: I'm putting effort into recalling the governor because it's the right thing to do for California.

It is very clear that every governor of California has been better than this one. And any governor that would be elected post this governor in a recall effort would be better than this governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken very strongly in a positive way about the recall and the need for leadership that isn't in California.

WOODRUFF: Anybody? You mean, Darrell Issa, you're saying Willie Brown, Dianne Feinstein, anybody would be better?

ISSA: Look, Willie Brown has the respect of many of us who didn't and wouldn't vote for him. He is a very competent person, who knows how to run the mechanism of government. I would not vote for him. I would choose a fiscal conservative.

Senator Feinstein was a well-respected mayor and is a well- respected senator and is able to make decisions and manage a staff. I would not vote for her. I would vote for a fiscal conservative.

WOODRUFF: Well, we get...

ISSA: But, absolutely. I think that it's very clear that we're talking about a governor so bad that any other major candidate would be better.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Darrell Issa, thank you so much for talking with us.

ISSA: Sure thing.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. We'll continue to follow that recall effort. Thank you.

Just ahead: a Jerry Springer campaign update, the latest on the still undecided talk show host and his potential run for office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Senator John Kerry is in double digits, but still trailing two party rivals in a new Quinnipiac University poll. The survey finds Joe Lieberman on top with 22 percent, Dick Gephardt second with 17 percent, and Kerry third at 15 percent. Bob Graham is next, followed by John Edwards, Howard Dean and Al Sharpton at 5 percent. Carol Moseley Braun and Dennis Kucinich round out the field.

Flamboyant talk show host Jerry Springer has not decided about a run for the Senate from Ohio yet, but he's already accepting donations. Springer's new Web site, RunJerryRun.com, offers supporters a Springer T-shirt for a $25 donation and an autographed photo for $100. The site also features news articles about Springer and audio clips from recent interviews.

INSIDE POLITICS continues after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Al Sharpton's camp is calling a report that he could have his car repossessed nonsense. "The New York Post" says Ford Motor Company filed suit against the Democratic presidential candidate after he stopped making payments on a 2001 Explorer. Sharpton's lawyer tells CNN that the suit is actually against the civil rights group Sharpton founded. And his lawyer says Sharpton does not even drive.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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