JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Jobless Rate Surged to 6.4 Percent In June, Nine-Year High; Can Howard Dean Win?
Aired July 3, 2003 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My answer is bring them on.
ANNOUNCER: He was talking about Iraqis on the attack. But it's the Democrats who are bringing it on. Blasting the president on two fronts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard Dean is going to be the next president of the United States!
ANNOUNCER: He's got money and momentum. But Democrats are asking themselves, can Howard Dean win?
A Declaration of Independence. But not everyone buys the familiar stories about the Founding Fathers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thomas Jefferson's claim of being author of the Declaration of Independence was a bit of an overstatement.
He was a draftsman, not an author.
ANNOUNCER: Now live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
Well, just when things seemed to be looking up for the U.S. economy and, in turn, the Bush campaign, the latest unemployment figures came as quite a jolt. The jobless rate surged to 6.4 percent last month, a nine-year high.
A number of Democrats rushed in to ask, where are the new jobs that the Bush tax cuts were supposed to create? Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry put it this way, quote, "I think everyone knows that the only person in this country who deserves to be laid off is George w. Bush."
Well, '04 Democrats also are zinging the president about his controversial "Bring them on" remark yesterday, putting the White House on the defensive on Iraq as well as on the economy. Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, are they feeling that this comment the president made yesterday on Iraq could be a political problem?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're certainly not saying that publicly, for sure. What they're saying privately is they, of course, understand that that kind of comment can be misinterpreted by some, but they also are saying that the president certainly said it when he said off the cuff, it was an off the cuff remark. And that what he was meaning by those comments was that he felt confident in the American military and their ability in Iraq after he was posed questions about whether or not the U.S. needs help and whether or not the U.S. is on the right course in trying to maintain stability in Iraq.
But it certainly provided an opening from Democrats who have been sort of reluctant to attack President Bush on anything relating to national security. I can read you some. Starting with Dick Gephardt, of course, he's a presidential candidate. He said, quote, "I have a message for the president. Enough of the phony, macho rhetoric. We should be focused on a long-term security plan that reduces the danger to our military personnel."
And from John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, also somebody who wants President Bush's job, he said, quote, "The president's comment was unwise, unworthy of the office and his role as commander-in-chief. The deteriorating situation in Iraq requires less swagger and more thoughtfulness and statesmanship."
And one of the key advisers to one of the Democratic candidates I talked to earlier today said that they understand that Americans actually like the sort of swagger that President Bush has, especially when talking about issues of national security. But they are also thinking that this particular comment is something that's not going to play well with soccer moms -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And, Dana, then what about the economic numbers? The high unemployment rate, highest numbers in nine years. Are they worried about that hurting the president?
BASH: Well, absolutely. They -- Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said, of course, the president is concerned that about the fact that Americans don't have jobs. And the economy is, of course, something that, Judy, that most Democrats believe is the president's Achilles' heel.
And this -- these particular numbers certainly help their argument on that. I mean, my e-mail box, I'm sure many around Washington were flooded with comments from Democrats saying that this is proof that the president's tax cut plans, his more than $1 trillion in tax cuts over the past two and a half years simply aren't working.
Now as far as what the White House is saying about that, they maintain that economic numbers are actually looking good and that the jobless rate is actually a lagging indicator of the economy. They say that it will soon show, the economy will show that it's bouncing back. And when asked about whether or not the tax cuts actually have had an effect, they quickly put out this report. This report is from the year 2002, February of 2002. And this is a report that they say, from the Council of Economic Advisers here at the White House, they say shows that the tax cuts are actually helping.
But certainly this is something that is not helping the president, as it goes around, talking about the economy and about the fact that he believes the economy is getting better -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, we know they certainly hope those tax cuts are going to make a difference. All right, Dana Bash at the White House.
Well, when it comes to the president's comment "Bring them on," Howard Dean is part of the chorus of '04 Democrats wincing at the president's choice of words. Dean's opposition to the war in Iraq has helped make him the surprise upstart of the campaign. But it may also be one of his drawbacks. A day after Dean supporters met up nationwide, our Candy Crowley considers the question, can Dean win?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got that money, mostly small donations from people who came to meet us like this who had never done anything like this.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are essentially looking at a Howard Dean rally, minus the balloons, minus Howard Dean.
PAUL MCKENZIE, DEAN VOLUNTEER ORGANIZER: Someone was telling me that they were on a bus in downtown Washington, D.C., and they saw the "Howard Dean for America" button, and they said, yes, that's that guy that raised $7.5 million. He's doing really well.
CROWLEY: A Web site called MeetUp, which puts together people of similar interests, says nearly 20,000 people met up Wednesday night in 285 cities to support, rally for and otherwise discuss Howard Dean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked John Kerry at first, and I kind more of liked his biography and his tory. But I find him as a speaker not too entertaining and not able to draw people in. And the rest are, I think, really boring.
CROWLEY: By almost any standard, Howard Dean is doing well, defying the odds, mastering Internet politics, generating heat with his piercing anti-Bush rhetoric.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, just he was perfect. He said everything that I was feeling.
CROWLEY: Yeah, but can he win? Or is Dean, as one rival camp put it, just another in a long line of quirky insurgents a la Bill Bradley or John McCain?
Like McCain and before him, Eugene McCarthy, Dean has tapped into the dreams of the young, but it was not enough for McCain and McCarthy, it will not be enough for Dean.
There is a reason most politicians court the young only occasionally. They do not vote in large numbers. Even at the meet ups, mostly young and white crowds, there is hesitation, there is doubt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people that I talked to were pretty honest about how they felt about Dean. They know that he's a candidate they like. They also feel that there are other front runners. Kerry was one that most people felt really was the front runner. Lieberman's name comes up.
CROWLEY: The political case against the Dean victory generally takes two paths: either he is too liberal for the mainstream where elections are won, or he's really a moderate who will eventually alienate his liberal base. It's all dismissed by the Dean camp as typical Washington think and at the meet ups, they are thinking a different thing altogether.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just heard the latest numbers from Iowa. And you're going to be very, very happy. Dick Gephardt has 21 percent. Howard Dean has 20 percent and is in second place! Everyone else is far behind. Howard Dean is going to be the next president of the United States!
CROWLEY: Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: The saga continues.
Well, checking the headlines in "Our Campaign News Daily," one of Howard Dean's Democratic opponents will be riding in style in July 4 parades across New Hampshire. Two Joe-mobiles will make their Granite State debuts this weekend to promote the campaign of Senator Joe Lieberman. The senator and his family will accompany the cars at parades in Amherst and Merrimack.
Senator Hillary Clinton is not presidential a candidate, of course, this time. But the wife of at least one world leader says she'd like to see Clinton give it a try. Bernadette Chirac, wife of French President Jacques Chirac, said a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would encourage women around the world to, in her words, "engage in politics." Senator Clinton is in Europe on a promotional tour for her new autobiography.
Still ahead, the picture's worth 1,000 words about the presidential candidates and the places and people that matter to them most.
Plus, what did senators learn on the ground in Iraq? And do they think the president's words, indeed, are helping? I'll talk to a Democrat just back from Baghdad, Senator Ben Nelson.
And later, the power of the Internet. Has it finally become a hard-driving force in American politics? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WOODRUFF: In California, organizers say they have enough signatures to force a recall vote on Governor Gray Davis. A spokesman tells CNN the groups collecting them have turned in more than 924,000 names. About 897,000 are needed to force an election. Davis supporters are critical of those claims. They say recall organizers have inflated their numbers in the past.
I'll speak with Governor Davis this weekend on "LATE EDITION." That is Sunday at noon Eastern.
INSIDE POLITICS returns in 60 seconds.
WOODRUFF: At least 10 U.S. soldiers were wounded today in attacks throughout Iraq. Three were hurt in central Baghdad, when a Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Six others were hurt about 60 miles away when their convoy ran over an explosive device.
Several U.S. senators just back from Iraq say they were struck by the need to find and arrest Saddam Hussein. One senator said a climate of fear remains prevalent among Iraqis.
One of the senators on that three-day trip was Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and he joins us now from Omaha.
Senator, I notice that the senators -- while you were there, you stayed in Kuwait City. You made day trips into Iraq for a few days in a row. Why not stay in Iraq? Was it a safety question?
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: It's a security issue. I think there are places that are safer. Kirkuk, I believe, would be safe enough to spend the night in, but I think the security issue is so strong that nobody wants to take a chance. It wouldn't be a good career move for anybody trying to protect us.
WOODRUFF: How safe and how secure are the people of Iraq, though?
NELSON: Well, I think the people of Iraq are subject to terrorist activity by loyalists and by looters and by others, mostly Iraqi people doing things to Iraqi people after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Obviously, one of the main things that's being attempted is to build a police force so that you can get law and order returned to the Iraqi people. But it ranges from extreme lawlessness in some locations to a fairly lawful situation in Kirkuk, in the northern part of Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Well, almost every day -- in fact, every day, we are now hearing reports -- there was yet another today of U.S. troops under attack. There have been dozens of deaths, many more wounded. How worried are you about this? NELSON: Well, I'm worried that it will continue. And I believe it will continue until we find Saddam, we stop the loyalists. I think what we have to do is puncture their balloon. Many of them simply are waiting for Saddam to return. And they're going to fight until he does return. There are others that are just trying to destabilize every effort that's being made today to return civilian control to Iraq. So I think we have to brace ourselves for the continuation of this kind of activity for an indefinite period of time. And it's not easy to do, and it's not easy for me to say that's what we have to do. But I think those are the facts.
WOODRUFF: Well, I know you're familiar with what President Bush said yesterday referring to these attackers. He said, "Bring them on." Now, some of your Democratic colleagues are saying, that's not presidential. That's what Dick Gephardt said. You had Senator John Kerry saying it's unworthy of the office. Some very strong comments. Was this a smart thing for the president to say?
NELSON: Oh, I don't know. He'll have to answer for his own comments and his own thoughts. All I know is as governor, I never said anything to predict scores in football or basketball games or athletic events to top the opposition. So I've always been very careful with what I have to say about that.
But the president's in his own position. He can make those decisions. Apparently it was an offhand comment. It will be...
WOODRUFF: You don't think it was a poor choice of words?
NELSON: Well, it wouldn't be my choice of words, put it that way. I don't want to criticize other people's words. But I don't think that I would have said that.
WOODRUFF: Senator Nelson, how long do you think U.S. troops are going to need to stay in Iraq?
NELSON: Indefinitely. I wish I could tell you it was one year or two years or three years. The question is, how long have they been in Korea?
I think it's a situation that is fluid at the present time. I do think that progress is being made, particularly in certain areas in the northern part of Iraq. More progress is being made than has been made in the south.
But when you talk to the advisers there, when you talk to the military, to a person, they all believe we are making progress and that these issues are going to get resolved and that we will bring law and control and law and order and control back to the country in a way that it's a government of the people, for the people and for the Iraqi people.
WOODRUFF: Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska joining us this afternoon from Omaha. Senator, we appreciate your talking with us.
NELSON: Thank you, Judy. WOODRUFF: Thank you. It's good to see you.
He is riding high right now, but is Howard Dean's popularity partially linked to his use of the Web? Coming up, the Internet's political power in the race for the White House.
And later, we'll take a sneak peek at some candidates in the kitchen.
WOODRUFF: Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean's recent fund-raising success has brought a lot of new attention to his extensive campaign use of the Internet. Beyond the big money and the meet ups coordinated online, some question whether the Internet is ready for political prime time.
With me now to talk more about this, Chris Suellentrop, he is the deputy Washington bureau chief for Slate.com. Thank you for joining us.
CHRIS SUELLENTROP, SLATE.COM: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Chris, first of all, people are still agog, I think, at what Howard Dean's done, not only the $7.5 million that he raised in the second quarter, but the fact that so much of it apparently came in over the Internet. How do you explain that?
SUELLENTROP: Well, Dean is better organized on the Internet than the other big-time candidates, than Edwards or Kerry or Lieberman.
The question is why. I think part of it is that the campaign works harder at it. They've been aware of it, and they're trying to, you know, create that. But I think it's also that his supporters, for whatever reason, are -- have a facility with the Internet. They use the Internet. He has a lot of Silicon Valley supporters. If you look at the blog culture, which are these personal Web sites...
SUELLENTROP: ... amateur punditry, sort of, on the Internet. A lot of them, not the big-time ones that you read about that are professional journalists, but, you know, the sort of Joe Blows blog, you'll find a lot of Howard Dean supporters there.
WOODRUFF: Is it because many are young and they are more familiar with the Internet? Although you wouldn't think they would necessarily have the income to be sending in these big checks.
SUELLENTROP: Well, the checks aren't that big, I think $112...
WOODRUFF: You're right, you're right.
SUELLENTROP: ... was the average check. So I think that could be part of it. I mean, we don't know. Is Dean -- is Dean popular on the Internet because there's something about the Internet that attracts Dean, or is Dean and his message the thing that they're responding to?
WOODRUFF: Which gets to my next question. Could the other candidates, if they really tried hard to play catchup right now on the Internet, could they duplicate what he's been able to do?
SUELLENTROP: That's a mystery. I don't know. John Kerry maybe. For example this MoveOn.org, which was an online primary they had on the Internet, Howard Dean got first in place, Dennis Kucinich got in second place at that was like 65, 70 percent of the vote, which tells you how liberal those voters were.
John Kerry was hugely popular among those same voters, not in terms of votes but in terms of 85 percent of them or more said, we would enthusiastically support John Kerry, much more than Edwards or Lieberman or Graham, all of whom are around 50 percent.
WOODRUFF: Do you believe, somebody who's looked at this pretty closely, that there is an untapped resource out there that a candidate, whether it's Howard Dean or somebody else, can make great use of to his advantage in the next year or so?
SUELLENTROP: I don't think it's going to -- it's not going to replace the 30-second television ad. That's what's going to drive the campaign. In a nine-party primary, can it give you a point...
WOODRUFF: Nine-candidate primary.
SUELLENTROP: Yes, excuse me. Nine-candidate primary can it move you a point here or there? Can it make a difference? Can it give you buzz? Because what it is, what -- Internet support serves as a proxy, it's a symbol of grass-roots support. It's a symbol of, Oh we've got new voters, young voters. People who haven't been in the party before.
Whether that's true or not, we don't know. These are huge political junkies paying attention to a primary in June. But maybe.
WOODRUFF: And we've got to get used to all of this and got to get used to words like "blog" and all the rest of it.
SUELLENTROP: That's right.
WOODRUFF: Chris Sullentrop, with Slate.com, it's great to see you. Thanks very much for coming by.
SUELLENTROP: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Keep watching all this.
Well, presidential candidates get their pictures taken all the time, but new portraits shot exclusively for "Esquire" magazine offers insights into some of the Democratic hopefuls. Dick Gephardt's fondness of cooking and love of family were captured in his kitchen. Howard Dean was photographed with his surrogate family, his campaign volunteers. Soul food fan Al Sharpton and his wife posed at one of their favorite restaurants in Harlem. Bob Graham apparently was relaxed, reading to and posing with his grandchildren. John Edwards' young children were on the move in their family portrait, as you can see right here. John Kerry was chatting on the telephone while his wife, Teresa perched on the chair. And Joe Lieberman's family apparently is his kitchen cabinet. While the photographer shot, they noshed.
Still ahead, history on parade as we march toward the 4th of July. Our Bill Schneider gets in the revolutionary spirit when we return.
WOODRUFF: Well, many Americans thoughts turn to parades and fireworks, our Bill Schneider's gearing up for the 4th of July by looking at the Declaration of Independence in a whole new light.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Think of the Declaration of Independence as the nation's first campaign ad. It was aimed at selling a policy: revolution.
PAULINE MAIER, MIT HISTORIAN: It is amazing how long it took for the colonies to be willing to declare independence when you realize that the war began in April 1775, and they don't declare independence until July 1776.
SCHNEIDER: The Continental Congress actually declared independence on July 2, but the Founding Fathers felt compelled to issue a statement, a campaign ad, two days later to justify what they had done.
MAIER: There were only two reasons why you could get rid of a standing king. Either he was inept, which they called, a "rex inutelist" (ph) or he was evil in the sense of interfering with the rights of the people.
SCHNEIDER: They went with evil. A long list of King George III's abuses and usurpations, the first negative ad in American politics. The problem was that American colonists were British subjects. They loved their king. But the Founding Fathers got lucky. The king was a very inept politician.
MAIER: He issued public statements that the colonies were rebels, that they were trying to found an independent empire. Everything that they denied. He said that their professions of loyalty were meant only to amuse. It was rather insulting, I would say.
SCHNEIDER: The Founding Fathers clinched their argument for revolution by making an appeal to people's rights, including, oddly, the pursuit of happiness.
MAIER: The word appears twice. The pursuit of happiness and at the end where Jefferson asserts the right of revolution. SCHNEIDER: Bingo. The ad worked. Still does, in fact. Right now, Americans are split over whether the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be pleased or disappointed by the way the United States has turned out.
Republicans versus Democrats? For once, no. Rich versus poor.
SCHNEIDER: Poor people think the Founding Fathers would be disappointed with the U.S. Rich people think they'd be pleased. In a republic founded on the pursuit of happiness, rich people are pretty happy -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: That will take a pretty serious division, though, on the eve of the 4th.
SCHNEIDER: It is.
WOODRUFF: OK, Bill Schneider, thanks very much. And we'll see you tomorrow.
That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. We will be back tomorrow. I'm Judy Woodruff.
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