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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Will the Internet Catapult Dean to White House?; Interview With Edward Kennedy

Aired July 15, 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: When it rains, it pours in hurricanes and politics. We're tracking the storm over pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth.

ANNOUNCER: Senator Ted Kennedy tells us why he's adding to the flood of Democratic criticism.

Gay politics in America. Activists say it's not what it used to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gay agenda truly is the American agenda. I mean, it's become the most boring political agenda in the world.

ANNOUNCER: Online and on fire. How did Howard Dean's Web team spin support into a virtual gold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Dean's site, 150 bucks. Trust funds are (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

Well if anyone had any doubts, the Democrats have decided to seize on the president's Iraq policy and questions about his credibility. Just look at the outpouring of criticism again today. It seems to be getting broader and more bitter.

Our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl is on the Hill. Jonathan, does this suggest that the Democrats are going to continue to push this issue?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And this was a coordinated attack today, Judy, that came from all the major voices in the party here in Washington, taking on the president both for allegedly mishandling the situation in post-war Iraq and for the whole controversy over the intelligence in the president's State of the Union Address. The attack most loudest today came from Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENNEDY: It's a disgrace that the case for war seems to have been based on shoddy intelligence, hyped intelligence and even false intelligence. All the evidence points to the conclusion that they've put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth. They have undermined America's prestige and credibility in the world.

KARL (voice-over): While Senator Kennedy delivered his blistering speech at the school for Advanced International Studies, fellow Democrats echoed his attacks on the Senate floor, specifically targeting National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: I am deeply troubled by Ms. Rice's continuing justification of the use of the statement in the president's State of the Union address. She repeatedly says it was, quote, "accurate" despite the fact that it's clear aim was to create a false impression. Her statement and Director Tenet's statement raise more questions than they answer.

KARL: A short while later was the Democratic leader's turn as a party once deeply divided over going to war with Iraq finds a unifying issue.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: That fundamental question is, are we using or are we abusing intelligence data to make the case with regard to foreign policy? And if that intelligence data is abused, what circumstances were created that allowed for that to happen and what do we do about it?

KARL: In response to the escalating attacks, House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said of the Democrats, "They think if they just get a little bit angrier and a little bit meaner and a little bit louder the American people will start hating the president as much as they do."

And as Republicans circle the wagons to defend the president, Senator Rick Santorum pointed out that Congress authorized the war long before the president gave his State of the Union speech.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The fact that one piece of information is now dominating this whole discussion is missing the forest for a tree. There are plenty of trees still standing to support what the president wanted to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: The Democrats here are newly emboldened here. They see the president as being weak on national security question and even more vulnerable when it comes to the economy, looking at a nine-year high in the unemployment number and newly announced figures on the deficit, record high deficits. Democrats think that President Bush is more vulnerable than he has been perhaps in any point in his presidency. Certainly, at any point since September 11 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl reporting for us from the Capital. Thank you, Jon.

Well for it's part, the Bush White House tried to put the best face on the new deficit projections, calling them manageable. The administration estimates that the budget deficit will climb to a record $455 billion this year and then surge to $475 billion in 2004. But the White House is quick to note the shortfalls are expected to ease after that to $213 billion in '07 and $226 billion in '08.

Well the political uproar over the deficit might have been greater if the White House weren't already facing the Democratic attacks over Iraq. Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is with us now. Dana, how is the White House dealing with the political fallout here?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well Scott McClellan was asked over and over about it today and over and over he uttered words like, that has been addressed and I've already addressed that. They are trying really hard to get beyond this issue, to put it behind them.

But they're not just playing defense. The Republicans have also started to play offense on this issue to hit back at Democrats. Check out this e-mail from the RNC. It lists press clips from Democrats or about Democrats saying that they are trying to politicize the war and bring it up because it does, they believe, benefit them politically.

And it's not just an e-mail campaign. Incoming RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie has been doing a number of interviews. They have also been recruiting surrogates, House members and other to get out and talk to local media, to go around the national media to hit Democrats on this for politicizing the war.

Now the GOP is trying to make the case when they do these interviews that the Democrats are trying to politicize the war for one primary reason at this point. They said it's the Howard Dean factor, that he did tremendously well this last quarter in terms of his fund- raising by tapping into that anti-war Democratic base. And now they are trying to also tap into that base.

But Republicans I've talked to privately do admit, Judy, that this could hurt the Republican president, that some independent voters, especially, could be turned off by this, which is why the Republicans are going on the offense, as well -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana Bash, at the White House thanks very much.

And as we were telling you it was in a speech at Johns Hopkins University today that Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy criticized the post-war U.S. strategy in Iraq, labeling the current policy as, quote, "adrift."

Senator Kennedy is with me now from Capitol Hill. Senator, are you saying the war was a mistake?

KENNEDY: Well, first of all, I believe that the administration made a rush to war. And what we are finding out now is that the administration really didn't have a follow-on plan and our policy is a policy adrift and basically a bankrupt policy. And those that are at the end of it are our fighting men that are like a shooting gallery in Iraq. They're the ones that are suffering as a result of a bankrupt policy.

That is today why I strongly urge that we follow the past tradition, which has been successful, when we have worked with the international community. We have brought the international community into Kosovo and Bosnia and to east Timor and also into Afghanistan.

I think the president ought to go to the United Nations and ask for a new resolution and bring the United Nations to help bring stability in terms of Iraq. And also bring NATO and let NATO reach out to bring Pakistan and the Indian army, bring in the Muslim armies, change the face on the occupiers in Iraq.

My complaint to today is not to refight the issue about whether we should have gotten in there, which I had the strong reservations about, but where we are today. The fact is our failed policy is resulting in American soldiers getting shot every single day, 81 of them since the president of the United States and announced on the Abraham Lincoln this war's over and that's wrong.

WOODRUFF: Senator, the White House is saying we are reaching out. They've said they've reached out to at least 70 countries, 24 of them have said yes.

And on this business about the intelligence...

KENNEDY: Well, let me answer that, if I could. Yesterday I talked to Kofi Annan. I talked to Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations. And he said this administration has not asked for a new resolution on Iraq.

Yesterday I talked to the secretary-general of NATO. He told me that this administration has not asked for a special kind of condition like we had in Kosovo and in Bosnia.

And so that is what these are (ph) individuals. This administration is reaching out to individual countries and NATO. That's the fact of it. But if you're under that impression, that is a mistaken impression because the general secretary, Kofi Annan said very clearly that the administration has not requested...

WOODRUFF: So you're saying the administration...

KENNEDY: Has to go to the United Nations and make the request for a new resolution. And also bring in the NATO, not individual NATO countries like Poland.

We just saw yesterday that India turned the United States down 17,000 troops because it wasn't under United Nations mandate. Why not bring the Indians in? Why not bring the Pakistanis in? Why not share the burden in terms of the troops and as well as the cost?

WOODRUFF: What do you say, Senator, to those who are saying well all the Democrats are piling on right now, this is a politically motivated attack on the administration.

KENNEDY: It's an issue when they have a failed and flawed policy. It is a national security issue. All you have to do is look back into "The New York Times," what James Baker said would happen in Iraq and predicted what would happen -- he was a Republican secretary of state -- unless we plan to occupy.

Look what James Webb, who was under the Reagan administration, said was going to happen in Iraq. Look what the generals have said. Look what the generals have said. These aren't partisans.

These are -- and all you have to do is read history. The fact is these are national security issues and they require national security responses. And that is what is required at this time.

And the administration has to have better options because American soldiers getting shot every day, what's their answer to that? Send in more soldiers to get shot? What is their answer to it?

WOODRUFF: And so when Congressman Tom DeLay, who is the House Republican leader, says let the Democrats call for -- he said it's a crowd fighting for headlines and control of the Democratic Party and the president ought to just say, bring them on.

KENNEDY: Let's have the answer to why they won't go to the United Nations. We know why they won't go. Because there are people within the Republican Party that don't want to admit that they're wrong. And by the arrogancy of their position they're continuing to put American soldiers at stake. We have the best trained, best lead military in the world, but they were not trained for military police work.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: You're saying that soldiers are dying because of the arrogance of this administration.

KENNEDY: Because we are not having a policy. That is a reality. We have 71 that have been killed since the president said, the war is over. Those are realities, those are facts.

And what I am saying is let's try and find a solution. And my recommendation is we go to the United Nations and bring in the United Nations. We go to NATO, we try to bring in additional military personnel, bring in the soldiers, bring in those trained police like the J'an Darme (ph), the Guardia (ph) that the Spanish, the Carbonari (ph) that the Italians have. Well-trained police. Why aren't we bringing them into this situation? We did it in Bosnia, we did it in Kosovo. And we saw a decline in American presence and American servicemen.

Why won't you do that now, Mr. President, is my question. And I asked Tom DeLay that, too.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there.

KENNEDY: All right. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: And we'll seek those answers. Senator Ted Kennedy, it's good to see you. Thank you very much.

More INSIDE POLITICS after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: While Democratic presidential candidates continue to take on the Bush administration's Iraq policy and its credibility, they're tending to their political base. Today most of the '04 Democrats reached out to gay voters at a forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. As our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, reports, gay political activists are feeling energized these days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNIDER, INSURANCE AGENT: I'll call Mike and see what we can do to straighten this out.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is an insurance agent who talks underwriting by day and goes home at night to three cats and her significant other.

SNIDER: You have kitchen duty if I cook.

CROWLEY: Something extraordinary is about to happen in the ordinary life of Mary Snider.

SNIDER: It's historic. It's the first time we've ever had this kind of event and we have 600-some people that will be there, members of the Human Rights Campaign.

CROWLEY: The country's biggest, most powerful gay rights group hosted a forum this afternoon and guess who showed up? Just about every Democrat running for president.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have led and tried to lead on ENDA, on civil unions, on HIV AID, on hate crimes.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think I have to tell you that as governor of Vermont I signed the first civil unions bill.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe I came to you with the broadest, strongest and longest record of support.

CROWLEY: Not coincidentally, when the Supreme Court struck down an anti-sodomy law and some Republicans suggested a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, guess who hedged?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know if it's necessary yet. Let's let lawyers look at the -- look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearings. CROWLEY: After "Ellen," after "Will and Grace," after oh-so- mainstream Wal-Mart broadened its anti-discrimination policies, the gay and lesbian community has come of age in politics.

STEVE GUNDERSON (R), FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: They're probably the closest thing we have to a 21st Century political movement because they really have become active in both parties to the degree that even the Republicans cannot really avoid the constituency.

CROWLEY: For politicians, it's about the votes, stupid -- Mary's and those of her ordinary family, two parents, four siblings, nine nieces and nephews.

SNIDER: When they hear this kind of talk, discriminatory talk,trying to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting or whatever it may be, they're incensed, because to them, you know, that's their aunt, that's their sister.

CROLWEY: The gay and lesbian agenda for '04 is shaping up under the general question of marriage, which no major political candidate supports, and civil unions, somewhat more acceptable in the mainstream.

Former Congressman Steve Gunderson, an openly gay Republican, says the battle over words masks a pretty tame agenda.

GUNDERSON: It's become the most boring political agenda in the world. They want the right to work, they want right to rent apartments, they want the right to serve their country, they want the right to have long term, monogamous relationships and they want to raise kids.

CROWLEY: For Steve Gunderson, and for Mary Snider, it is, in the end, about the right to be ordinary.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A quick look at presidential fund-raising leads the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." As the White House hopefuls file their second quarter numbers, President Bush is leading the pack. His campaign reports raising $34.4 million during April, May and June. The Bush team says the money came from more than 105,000 individual donors.

On the Democratic side, the AP reports Congressman Dick Gephardt brought in almost $3.9 million in the second quarter. The total is lower than expected. Gephardt officials had expected to bring in about $4.5 million.

Confirming what had been widely reported, Howard Dean had a strong quarter, with $7.6 million. Dean also reports having more than $6 million in cash on hand.

Joe Lieberman reports bringing in $5.1 million. Lieberman also shaking up his fund-raising team. He's named a new finance director and a new finance chairman after what the campaign described as differences with the campaign manager.

Governor Gray Davis may be a poster boy for embattled politicians, but there are some pols, apparently, who are even less popular. Poll numbers and the politics when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A ray of hope today for California Governor Gray Davis and his fight to stay in office. Davis supporters are filing suit to challenge the petition drive to put a recall election on the ballot. They say they discovered widespread illegalities in the process, including signature voters who were not registered to vote in California.

Well, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is following the recall campaign in California politics. Bill, is there a voter revolt under way in California?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Apparently, there is and it's not limited to Governor Davis. Davis' job approval rating is down to an abysmal 23 percent in today's field poll. Can it get any worse? Yes. The state legislature is doing worse. Only 19 percent approve of the job the state legislature is doing in California, the lowest approval rating ever for the legislature.

The field poll asked California voters what kind of job each party in the legislature is doing to resolve the state's budget problems, and three quarters say neither party is doing a good job. Voter anger in California is not partisan, it's not ideological. It happens that the Democrats are in power. But if this thing spreads, as voter revolts in California have a tendency to do -- remember Proposition 13 -- then politicians everywhere better watch out. This is an equal opportunity revolt.

WOODRUFF: Now, Bill, we know the recall supporters are pushing hard for this election to take place this fall rather than next spring. Why do they want it this fall? Explain that.

SCHNEIDER: Here is a reason: the car tax in California is schedule to triple starting this fall. How do Californians feel about that? Yikes. Only 28 percent think it's justified to deal with the state's budget crisis. Two-thirds say it's not. Most of them -- Democrats feel that way too. When the car tax hits, Davis opponents believe the governor's goose will be cooked. But remember, this sort of thing is going to be happening in states and cities all over the country.

WOODRUFF: And we're going to be following it all, Bill Schneider...

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: ...thank you.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Iowa and New Hampshire are traditional campaign battlegrounds, but this year the battle is also being fought in cyberspace. And Howard Dean is proving himself a master of that domain.

I traveled to Burlington, Vermont, late last week to see what made deanforamerica.com click.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have the power to reclaim our nation's destiny.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It's the gospel according to Niko, the Dean for America Web master and a true believer in the Internet's power to transform American politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It is cool.

WOODRUFF: Cutting-edge technology powered by a skeleton crew has propelled the Dean campaign into the vanguard of virtual politics with some very real results.

The message? The Internet is the future of grass roots organizing, replacing television as a way for candidates and voters to connect and bringing new people into the political process.

For Dean, it is paying off. In three months he raised $3.6 million online, $800, 000 of it in a single marathon day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is the students for dean site, $25.18 starving student, $35.18 -- mom slipped me 50 bucks for food, all the way down to $150. Trust funds rock.

WOODRUFF: Campaign manager Joe Trippi, the force behind Dean's online juggernaut, says the tally is rising.

JOE TRIPPI, DEAN CAMPAIGN MANGER: Our hi-tech nerve center keeping track of it.

WOODRUFF: Noting Internet contributions for the first 10 days of July totaled more than the April and May online numbers combined.

But money is just one piece of the Internet puzzle. The other part is bringing Dean supporters together in a real world setting. Go to deanforamerica.com, type in your zip code, and you'll get a list of campaign events in your area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is meet up central here.

WOODRUFF: Meetup.com connects netizens to people nearby who share a particular interest. Team Dean latched onto to the site to move its virtual pep rally from the computer screen to bars and coffee shops across the country. More than 60,000 people have signed up for these events where Dean supporters turn online connections into ground-level organizing.

At the last rendezvous, Dean fan reached out to undecided Iowa voters the old-fashioned way, by writing letters.

We admit it's all pretty cool. But will the coolness catapult Dean to the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The net is not the answer to everything and it does not reach everybody.

WOODRUFF: A quick scan of the D.C. meetup raises a some questions. The crowd is young and largely white. Can Dean bridge the digital drive and make traditional appeals across demographic lines? Trippi says yes.

TRIPPI: We now have the resources, though, to now to move beyond just the net into the traditional campaign organizing of reaching into the African American community, reaching out into the Latino community.

WOODRUFF: Nearly 200, 000 people have signed on to the Dean e- mail list. The campaign is hoping to have a million on board by the end of the year and Dean is counting on them to pad his war chest and support him in a more traditional venue, the polling place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: That's a peek at the Dean headquarters.

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

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