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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Senators Disclose Assets; Will Bill Clinton Run for Mayor of New York?

Aired June 13, 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: Follow the money, which U.S. senators are rolling in dough? We'll check out some big name bottom lines.

Clinton for mayor? Would the former president consider running for New York City's top job? Big Apple pols are buzzing about the possibilities.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: I'd sort of recommend that he thinks about it for the next six years, because he'd have a tough time winning before that.

ANNOUNCER: The other Clinton has a best selling book and media hordes clamoring for interviews. But guess what? She lost the competition for the political play of the week.

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, even in the millionaires club, as some call the Senate, certain members have far greater financial assets than others. And that can help make or break their political futures.

Senators' financial disclosure forms were released today and CNN's Kathleen Koch has been crunching the numbers, you might say.

All right, Kathleen, who comes out on top?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, who comes out on top, Judy, is actually also a presidential candidate. And that is John Kerry. He's holding that top number for the second, third year in a row. In any case, he is valued at some $163 million to $221 million. So he is he's on the top of the heap.

Followed by the other presidential candidates. Second is John Edwards of North Carolina. His net worth between $12 million and $60 million. Bob Graham of Florida comes in third at between $7 million and $32 million, and then finally Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, with a net worth of between $482,000 and $1.8 million.

Now, when you take a look at the Senate leadership, there are some widely diverging numbers here. The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, very successful heart surgeon from Tennessee. His family founded the Hospital Corporation of America. That's one of the largest for profit hospital chains in the country. He is one of the wealthiest in the U.S. Senate, valued about between $15 million and $42 million.

Now, Senator Tom Daschle, his Democratic counterpart, the Senate minority leader, is a man of more modest means. His net worth put at between $416,000 and $1.2 million.

And then finally bringing up the bottom, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. He does have assets valued between $16,000 and $65,000. However, he has quite serious debt, so it actually puts him, Judy, giving him a net worth of -$185,000 -- back to you.

WOODRUFF: Well, poor Senator Feingold in that crowd.

Well, let me ask you finally, Kathleen, about the former first lady, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. How does she shape up?

KOCH: Well, obviously the senator has been in the news quite a bit lately with this new book of hers out, "Living History." She got an $8 million advance for that. However, her net worth is put about only between $352,000 and $3.8 million because a lot of that advance went toward paying off some of those outstanding legal bills, Judy. And, also, it's important to point out that this is just a rough, rough estimate of what these senators are worth because, according to the 1978 Ethics Government Act, senators don't have to give the precise value of their assets, just their best guess. So a wide range, say, between $1 million and $5 million for one asset, five and 10 for another. And this also doesn't include their salaries, their pensions, the value of their homes. So they're actually worth, believe it or not, a lot more than we're predicting right here.

WOODRUFF: Well, for some of them, like Senator Kerry, that's a lot.

All right, Kathleen Koch at the capital, thanks very much.

KOCH: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Well, the White House today is urging Senate and House negotiators to quickly resolve their differences over expanding the child tax credit. The House version, approved yesterday, would expand the credit to lower income families just as the Senate version does. But moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate say the House bill, which also would give credits to higher income families, is too broad and too expensive.

Meantime, both parties are increasingly optimistic that a Medicare prescription drug plan is on its way to passage after clearing a Senate committee yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While we still have more work to do, we are confident that members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers will work together to pass strong Medicare bills before the Fourth of July recess, bills that provide our seniors with the prescription drug benefits and choices they need and deserve and a bill hopefully that can be on the president's desk before the end of the summer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: While a majority of Democrats are expected to vote for the prescription drug plan in the full Senate, White House hopefuls John Kerry and Bob Graham voted against the measure in committee yesterday, putting them at odds with President Bush and many members of their own party.

Well, now we turn to New York City and the early speculation about the next mayor's race. Republican Michael Bloomberg isn't up for reelection until 2005, but his plunging popularity has tongues wagging. A new poll out today shows his disapproval rating at a hefty 65 percent.

But there's another reason for the Big Apple buzz, and that is recent wishful thinking by some Democrats that Bill Clinton would run for the city's top job. A Clinton spokesman says the former president is not considering it, but Bloomberg says bring him on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG: I'd welcome lots of competition. If President Clinton wants to run for mayor, I can tell him it's a very challenging job. But it's a great job and I would recommend it to anybody. I'd sort of recommend that he thinks about it for the next six years because he'd have a tough time winning before that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about the prospect of a Clinton for mayor campaign with a Democrat who has held that job himself, former Mayor Ed Koch.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you.

ED KOCH, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Where did all this talk about Bill Clinton come from?

KOCH: Well, it's been brooded about for a number of weeks and I suspect that while he may think about it, because I think he misses being the, in the center of the action, you know, it's no longer dominating a room, as he once did, or dominating the world -- and he's a brilliant guy. But I think the people around him, the court retainers, so to speak, are probably hyping it a little.

WOODRUFF: Well, how serious is this? I mean what are the prospects, Ed Koch, that he...

KOCH: I would say less than one out of four chances that he might run. He'd be a formidable candidate. I'd be opposed to him myself and I don't think he'd enjoy the job. Being the most important person in the world is not like being the mayor, who has to worry about the garbage being picked up every day.

WOODRUFF: Well, now wait a minute. You had that job. You loved that job where you say you don't think Bill Clinton would like it?

KOCH: I loved it. No. I absolutely loved the job and enjoyed the delivery of services to the people and talking to people every day on the block, wherever I'd go. I don't think that Bill Clinton or anybody who has been president, which is the most important, most powerful job in the universe, would be happy being mayor, even if it's being mayor of New York City.

WOODRUFF: Do you think he could get elected if he did decide to run?

KOCH: No.

WOODRUFF: You said, you put it at one chance in four?

KOCH: No, one chance in four that he might run.

WOODRUFF: That he might run.

KOCH: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Which is higher, I guess, than I expected. But you said you don't think he can win, could win, even if he did run.

KOCH: No, I do not. I do not believe that he would win. You know, Bill Clinton really sacrificed his future so far as I'm concerned, and I know a lot of people feel the same way. I supported him through thick and thin, through impeachment, which was absolutely outrageous. But when he used the last 30 days of his presidency to pardon and commute sentences of crooks, he lost me forever. And I think that's true of lots of people.

WOODRUFF: He has not put a stop, though, to all the speculation yet.

Why do you think that is?

KOCH: He loves being the center of attention. And let me just say, we will go many, many more years before there's another Bill Clinton with the dynamism and intelligence and power to grasp an issue and be able to present it in the best possible way so that people understand it. He destroyed himself for people like me and I'm really sorry about it. But I don't think that he would win as mayor.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, do you think Michael Bloomberg is vulnerable?

KOCH: Oh, he's extremely vulnerable. But I nevertheless believe he's a great mayor who has done everything on the merits and this, too, the 24 percent favorable rating, shall pass and he... WOODRUFF: And you think he'll get -- you think he'll get reelected?

KOCH: Yes, I believe he'll be reelected and I told him the other day, when he said I am running, I said I'm glad your running, Mr. Mayor, and I want to be your advance man.

WOODRUFF: The one and only Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you.

Thanks very much.

KOCH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, while we're talking about possible political comebacks, sources close to Al Gore tell our Candy Crowley that the former vice president meant it when he said he would not be a presidential candidate in 2004. On the eve of a Draft Gore rally in his home state of Tennessee, sources say they expect Gore to issue some kind of Trumanesque statement, sooner rather than later, asking loyalists to stop trying to pull him into the race.

We're checking some other campaign headlines. Wisconsin will be the center of attention for some of the Democratic presidential hopefuls this weekend. John Kerry, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton all scheduled to address the state party convention, which will include a straw poll. The Badger State recently moved its primary from April to the more prominent date of February 17th.

Well, sooner or later the rigors of campaign travel catch up with almost every candidate. The latest is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Dean discussed health care policy in New Hampshire yesterday wearing his usual business suit and his running shoes. The reason? He forget to bring his dress shoes, which were back home in Vermont. Well, I mean these guys do a lot of traveling.

Still ahead, state house horror stories. We will tell you which governors' reelection bids appear to be on the rocks.

And later, why the Secret Service may now be wary about those new Segway scooters. Are they a threat to the president?

And they're getting older and better in the political play of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: At a time of tense relations between Pentagon brass and the Army, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today helped to celebrate the 228th birthday of the United States Army. The Pentagon ceremony included a birthday cake along with praise for the sacrifices made by generations of soldiers. INSIDE POLITICS returns in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, they may not have it as bad as their California colleague, Gray Davis, who is facing a snowballing recall effort right now, but a number of governors up for reelection next year have good reason to be nervous.

Let's bring in our analyst Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report."

Stu, we don't talk about the governors very much, other than to hear that they're in big, many of these states, most of these states in big financial trouble.

How is that going to affect them overall, those who are up for reelection?

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, Judy, what we're seeing is the same phenomenon that we saw two years ago when federal officers, that is, members of the House and the Senate, incumbents, were in pretty good shape, but governors were in big trouble. More than half of the governors' state parties switched. So if a Republican headed, was the governor of a state, the Democrat won.

This time we're seeing the same kind of thing. Governors, about half of the governors who are up in 2004 may switch parties and the three governorships up in 2003 are also possible switches. So there are a lot of governors at risk.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's look at some specific states.

In Missouri, Bob Holden, he's a Democrat.

ROTHENBERG: Bob Holden, a Democrat, may face a challenge in the Democratic primary from Claire McCaskill. Internal problems, state budget problems. The Republicans are going to have a strong candidate, the secretary of state, the son of Congressman Roy Blount may run. So this is a state that's definitely at risk and it certainly has financial problems.

WOODRUFF: All right, move out to Washington State. Gary Locke, who's gotten some attention. He gave the response to the State of the Union, Democrat.

ROTHENBERG: All you have to know is $2.7 billion state deficit. He's in a squeeze between people who want to raise taxes and people who want to cut services. He's trying to avoid tax increases, but he's in a huge economic problem there.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk about another Democrat. The Democrats seem to be in the big trouble. West Virginia, Bob Wise. He's got some other problems.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, this is an extramarital affair. There's already a Democrat who's announced. Secretary of State Joe Manchin is going to run against him. Wise also, we thought he'd probably be in good shape, but these personal problems have built up. There's a lot of turmoil, a lot of suggestions that maybe other Democrats might run against him. This is a seat you'd have to think is a Republican opportunity. But remember, we used to think of West Virginia as rock solid Democratic, not so much anymore.

WOODRUFF: OK, what about Montana? Now, here you've got a Republican, a newly elected Republican, but she's having real approval problems.

ROTHENBERG: Judy Martz's job numbers are absolutely awful. A recent poll had her job approval at 20 percent while 48 percent, 48 percent said she was doing a poor job. A lot of this has to do with some personal style, some local controversies. The state economy is not in great shape. It's not in as bad a shape as many other states, but wages are down. Wages are very slow growing out there. Commodity prices are a problem. So her numbers are absolutely terrible and there's talk about a Republican primary to possibly save the seat. And, in fact, she has not yet announced whether she will run for reelection. She might forego the race. That would be the best news the Republicans could get.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, another Democrat who is stepping down, Frank O'Bannon in Indiana. Economy an issue there for the Democrats or not?

ROTHENBERG: Oh, absolutely it's an issue. And Mitch Daniels, the former OMB chairman, director, has gone out there to run. There was a three way Republican primary, including former Congressman David McIntosh. But it is fiscal issues down there, budget issues back there. And the Republicans have a terrific opportunity. Democrats also have a primary from where DNC Chairman Joe Andrew is running, but it's a competitive primary.

So there are lots of races where Democrats are running against Democrats and Republicans hope to take the opportunity to score some gains.

WOODRUFF: Stu Rothenberg with a look at some of these governors. We need to keep checking in on these people because these tastes are having some problems.

ROTHENBERG: They are.

WOODRUFF: And are the individual politicians.

ROTHENBERG: They are.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

We want to go right now, there's some breaking news out of the Middle East. I understand there's been another attack in Gaza.

And CNN's Kelly Wallace is reporting for us now on the telephone -- Kelly, are you there? KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am, Judy, yes.

Another Israel operation appears to be under way, this the second Israeli air strike of the night in just the span of a few hours. We saw with our own eyes two Israeli Apache helicopters firing at least one missile on a neighborhood not too far away from the Gaza City downtown area. At this point in time, we don't have any reports of any killed or injured. It's just preliminary right now. We just don't know what the target was and whether anyone was, in fact, hit, killed or injured.

Again, Judy, this the second Israeli air strike of this night. Earlier this evening, Israeli helicopter gunships fired on a car in a neighborhood in the Gaza City area, as well, in that operation, killing one member of Hamas' military wing and injuring more than 20 others, including seven children. The Israeli military said the target of that operation was, in fact, a Hamas militant and another man who were apparently getting ready, according to the Israeli military, to fire homemade rockets at Israel.

And this, Judy, coming after a number of days of air strikes, five air strikes before the two today over a three day period, leaving more than 20 Palestinians dead. And early on this day, there were funerals for the eight Palestinians killed in Thursday's air strike, including a Hamas commander, his wife and his 1-year-old daughter.

So this is all part of what Israeli officials say, Judy, is going to be their stepped up and targeted campaign to hit "Hamas forcefully." One Israeli official said it is now an all out war. Israeli officials say they are comparing Hamas to their own al Qaeda. They say they're going to keep up the pressure because they say the Palestinian Authority is not doing it and they say they need to do this to protect the security of Israelis -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, our Kelly Wallace reporting from Gaza on yet another strike by Israelis into that area. As Kelly just said, the Israelis have vowed to go after the leadership of Hamas, and presumably that is what is going on.

Just ahead, the forces driving the debate on a prescription drug benefit for Medicare.

Bill Schneider joins me with a lesson in how to pressure law makers into delivering on their promises.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Catalysts for congressional action can emerge from many different directions. Now to look at the latest lesson in the use of political clout, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seniors want prescription drug coverage.

WILLIAM NOVELLI, CEO, AARP: It's been about 10 years that we've been fighting for this and that seniors have been asking for it.

SCHNEIDER: Both parties promised it in 2000. Now another election is coming up and the senior vote is uncertain. Among non- seniors, President Bush has been getting solid support for reelection. Among seniors, however, President Bush's margin over a Democratic opponent shrinks to single digits and the number of undecided voters is more than twice as high.

The message from seniors? Let's see what we can get for our votes.

In January, President Bush promised seniors they could get prescription drug coverage if they chose a private insurance plan.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs.

SCHNEIDER: But most seniors don't want to change plans.

NOVELLI: They don't want to leave traditional Medicare and go into new private sector programs.

SCHNEIDER: This week, President Bush gave way. He indicated he would accept equal prescription drug benefits for seniors who stay in traditional Medicare and those who join private plans. Conservatives complain that would slow down Medicare reform. Meanwhile, liberals are unhappy because they think the prescription drug plan is not generous enough. But last week, Senator Edward Kennedy gave way. He declared the Senate bill a major breakthrough. The right is unhappy, the left is unhappy, but the center is holding.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Last night we passed the most extensive update to the Medicare program since the program's creation in 1965. The effort was bipartisan.

SCHNEIDER: For the first time, a prescription drug bill is likely to pass the Senate, overwhelmingly.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: This legislation has tremendous momentum. It's going to pass. It's going to be enacted. The president's going to sign it.

SCHNEIDER: Seniors got clout.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 2003 looks like it very well may be the year where seniors are able to get the prescription drugs they deserve.

SCHNEIDER: Because seniors got votes. They also got the political play of the week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: And seniors got something else this week. In Connecticut yesterday, President Bush promised a rule change that will allow faster approval of cheaper generic drugs. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer is sponsoring legislation in the Senate to do the same thing.

If you've got clout, you get results.

WOODRUFF: Well, and they've got the clout because they vote.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, political play of the week, thanks.

We will hit the links ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. But instead of a Tiger-like performance, we'll show you a couple of speedy golfers named George.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Like father, like son. At the Bush family home in Maine, presidents 43 and 41 enjoyed a round of golf today in their traditional faster is better style. If the hook into the mud didn't get the current president down, a Segway personal scooter may have. On Mr. Bush's first attempt at riding the scooter, the machine went down, although he managed to stay on his feet. Some still shots here.

Then his father climbed on a second Segway and they cruised around the driveway of their estate.

You can't ask for better publicity than that for the Segway.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

Have a good weekend.

CROSSFIRE starts right now.

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