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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Kerry Blasts Bush; Dean Running Ahead of Other Democrats

Aired July 16, 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's the ultimate political game show with big money and big names. See if you can match the presidential candidates to their top celebrity donors.

The CIA chief called on the carpet on Capitol Hill and the president's credibility under fire.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not just the 16 words. It's all of our intelligence.

ANNOUNCER: But do John Kerry and some other White House hopefuls have an Iraq credibility problem of their own?

California voters get the message. Are they being tricked by someone who wants Governor Gray Davis to hang it up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Unintelligible) the recall to remove Governor Gray Davis out of office as soon as possible.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

More fingers are pointing and accusations flying in the political dust up over pre-war intelligence about Iraq. We'll have the latest fireworks, including the CIA chief's appearance on Capitol Hill.

But first, we couldn't resist the powerful combination of celebrities and money. Our Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley has been going over the presidential candidates' fund-raising reports with stars in her eyes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Give her a Democrat any Democrat. Putting her money where her mouth is, Barbra Streisand has contributed to the campaigns of John Kerry, John Edwards, Richard Gephardt, Bob Graham and Howard Dean. Not a penny for Joe Lieberman, Mr. V-Chip.

Still Democrats will need to assemble a cast of thousands to bridge the financial gap of the '04 campaign. Bottom line, in this past quarter George Bush raised $34.4 million in six weeks. More than the total raised by nine Democrats in three months.

Biggest expense so far in their rival-free Bush camp, $649,000 in stamps. Thank heavens for self adhesive.

The surprise has long since gone out of the Democrat second quarter story. It is Howard Dean who raised more than anyone else and has the glitziest donor list, too.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ENTERTAINER: How much money have you raised? Let's look at the tote boards.

CROWLEY: Robin Williams, an enthusiastic donor of years past, Ted Danson, Susan Sarandon, Paul Newman, Stephen King and Alec Baldwin, still living in the country, are all Dean-ies.

The president is not without some marquee names, in a retro kind of way.

Several blasts from the past rang it up for Bush/Cheney, including crooner Andy Williams, game show host Wink Martindale and Chuck Norris, who's not a Texas Ranger, but plays one on TV.

"West Wing"'s Brad Whitford is down for $4,000 to the Kerry campaign. Brad, call your accountant. The limit is $2,000.

Kerry, by the way, is this quarter's No. 2 fund-raiser, but he still has more cash in the bank than any other Democrat.

Read the word "trouble" between the lines of Richard Gephardt's numbers. He raised $3.8 million, less than the goal he set for himself. And losing your own expectations game tends to cut down on the interest.

Also in the out category, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton were out raised by perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, how's the fund-raising going?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's going well. Going very well.

CROWLEY: Actually, John Edwards' bank account looks better than his poll numbers. The rookie North Carolina senator has $800 million on hand and several Washington pros on his list: Sandy Berger, John Podesta, Vernon Jordan, Joe Lockhart and Abbey Lowell, Clintonites all, gave to the Edwards' campaign.

But before concluding that Edwards really is the secret Clinton favorite, you should also know that all or some of the above also gave to the campaigns of Richard Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.

In Hollywood, you spread the wealth. In Washington, you hedge your bets.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: It's fun to look through those SEC files.

Well, on Capitol Hill today, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee aren't looking for cash. They're demanding answers from the Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. The closed door session has opened the door to more partisan sparring over Iraq and the president's credibility.

Here's our Congressional Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, Tenet arrived up here about an hour and a half ago and they went through about an hour of the hearing. It's a closed hearing but our sources tell us that in that first hour they hadn't even yet gotten to the question of the president's State of the Union address.

They were still looking at the original purpose of the meeting, which was to look into questions about how much intelligence the CIA shared with the U.N. weapons inspectors before the war. Many Democrats say not enough.

Going into the hearing John Edwards, the only presidential candidate on the Intelligence Committee had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have some very serious questions about what I think are one of the most important issues there can be which is the credibility of the president of the United States.

When the president speaks he speaks on behalf of the American people. George Tenet has accepted his responsibility and that's good but at the end of the day the president when he speaks has to take responsibility for what he says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Like most Democrats, Edwards is placing the blame directly on the president but Joe Lieberman became the second presidential candidate to say George Tenet should go. He should be fired. He should resign because of his admission of not serving the president right on this. They're not saying the buck stops with Tenet but they think Tenet should go that from Joe Lieberman.

Meanwhile, John Kerry delivered a speech in New York today. Kerry had some very harsh words to say about the president's policy toward Iraq, the State of the Union address, and his approach to national security generally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: A flight to an aircraft carrier no matter how well staged does not end a war. Strong words must be matched by strong actions. It is time for a president who will face the truth and tell the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: The committee is in a short break now so the Senators can go and participate in two votes but it is expected when they get back they will get to the question of the intelligence that got into the president's State of the Union address and this hearing may go well into the evening, probably until 8:00, 8:30 tonight - Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon, I have a feeling you're going to be there until it's over.

KARL: Yes.

WOODRUFF: OK, we'll be coming back to you later, Jon Karl at the capital.

Well, even as Senator Kerry gave that speech today the Bush White House was trying to turn the tables on him. Press Secretary Scott McClellan accused Kerry and other Democrats of politicizing Iraq and the broader war on terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I recognize there are a number of Democratic candidates trying to gain an advantage in an election but the bottom line is America is safer, more secure, and better prepared than we were on September 11, 2001.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: In Senator Kerry's speech he asked the question are we safer today than we were in the days after, right after 9/11.

Well, some critics are suggesting John Kerry may have his own credibility problem as one of several Democratic candidates blasting the president in connection with a war that they supported.

Here's our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It wasn't supposed to be like this. Last October when many Democrats in Congress supported the war resolution they figured they'd take national security off the political agenda and change the subject to the economy. That didn't happen. President Bush surprised Democrats by making national security the focus of the midterm campaign and winning big.

Four Democrats running for president voted for the war resolution. They figured the U.S. would bring down Saddam Hussein. They'd have political cover and antiwar candidates like Howard Dean would fade away. That didn't happen.

What did happen is that Iraq has become more controversial. Polls show more and more Americans turning against the war and strong opposition from Democrats. Now, President Bush is facing a credibility problem over the war and so are pro-war Democrats running for president.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think those who voted for the war in Iraq are on very thin ice. They did not exercise their Senatorial requirement to advise and consent knowing all the facts.

SCHNEIDER: Dean hasn't served in Congress and didn't have to vote on the war, which he has always opposed, but those Democrats in Congress who voted for the war now find themselves on the defensive.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I respect your position. Let's disagree respectfully. Let me finish my remarks.

SCHNEIDER: They have to face hostile Democratic audiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Unintelligible) does not bring people back from the dead.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I'm saying is that I did the best I knew how to do in my judgment, in my heart, in my mind for what it would take to keep our people safe.

SCHNEIDER: They have to backtrack.

KERRY: They assured us they had a plan. It is now evident they didn't have a plan.

SCHNEIDER: While Howard Dean has become Mr. I told you so.

DEAN: I believe that the evidence was not there. I refused to change my view and as it turned out I was right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: The script said the U.S. would win the war, then the war issue would fade away and antiwar Democrats like Dean would disappear but the war is still controversial. Dean is thriving and a lot of Democrats are frantically trying to rewrite the script - Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider watching it all. Thank you very much.

We will put the pedal to the metal ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll have the latest on Senator Bob Graham going the extra mile to win over NASCAR voters.

Plus, does Gray Davis' wife think the California governor is the target of a right wing conspiracy?

And, I will ask Republican Senator Lamar Alexander if he is breaking with his former presidential rival over clean air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The Congressional Black Caucus has declined an invitation from President Bush to come to the White House to discuss his recent trip to Africa. Caucus Chairman Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, turned down the invite in a letter which noted the president's failure to meet with the caucus since his first month in office. Now, the White House spokeswoman says the president has met with individual members of the caucus.

INSIDE POLITICS returns in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: This is a D-day of sorts in the campaign to oust California Governor Gray Davis. It is the last day for supporters of the recall to turn in petitions to county election officials in order to get the issue on the ballot. If a vote were held today a new field poll shows that a slim majority of likely California voters would elect to remove Davis from office.

Recall backers appear to be trying a new tactics. Hundreds of northern Californians have received phone text messages in recent days saying please call Jen and giving a phone number. If you call that number, you get a recording saying why Davis should be recalled.

Meantime, here in Washington today, Davis' wife was asked if she thinks the campaign to recall her husband is proof that he is the target of a right wing conspiracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON DAVIS, GRAY DAVIS' WIFE: Well, this has been completely funded and backed by Republicans and on prominent Democrat has agreed to get into the race, so I don't think it's a conspiracy but I think you could say this effort is completely funded and backed by Republicans. And so, when you let voters know that then they're less inclined to support the recall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: With us now former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and American Cause President Bay Buchanan.

Bay, is Gray Davis going to be able to survive a recall?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRES., AMERICAN CAUSE: No, I don't believe so. Judy, you know, you hear that it may be Republicans that are behind this but California is a Democratic state. It's overwhelmingly Democratic right now and he's down to 20 percent so that tells you a lot of Democrats decided he needs to go.

It's due to the fact that he's mismanaged that state and they feel that he deceived them and I think those are two really, really big things that they are going to have a hard time overcoming and I think they will vote him right out of office.

WOODRUFF: Donna. DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MGR.: I think the momentum is always on the front end on a recall campaign so right now the anti- Davis forces are winning in the polls but I think ultimately Democrats will come home and support Gray Davis.

Look, when you look at the alternative, four millionaires who could not challenge the man in election season and win are using their millions to try to get on the ballot and try to become governor. They will say I don't think so.

BUCHANAN: But, you know what's interesting. Thirty-one attempts to recall a statewide official in that state all have failed. They've never been successful. Why is it the one against Gray Davis that's successful? It's nothing to do with the money. It's to do with the people of California want him out and this is wonderful.

There's real excitement out there, the political theater out there, a lot of press drawing attention to it and it's all drawing attention and it's going to be damaging to Gray Davis because people are going to step forward and I think there's a lot -

BRAZILE: They will find out that this recall effort is going to cost the state $50 million to $60 million they're going to rethink this and, I'll tell you, I don't believe they will vote for anti- choice, anti-environmental Republicans to replace Gray Davis anytime soon.

BUCHANAN: But, what is it, $38 billion deficit they're looking at. This $30 million is a drop in the bucket. (Unintelligible.)

BRAZILE: If the legislators will sit down and work it out with Gray Davis and stop being obstructionists, the governor can put forward a budget that will really help them.

WOODRUFF: I have to move you to another question and that is over this brouhaha faulty intelligence that the president cited in the State of the Union address. Democrats are up in arms. Republicans are up in arms. You now have on the Democratic side former Vermont Governor Howard Dean telling a newspaper, "The Washington Post" that the candidates who supported the president on going to war, Donna, have a credibility problem. Is that a problem for these gentlemen who want to run for president and voted with the president?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I don't think there's no point to revisit the decision to go to war. They made the decision based on intelligence, based on the information they had at hand, and based on their own belief that Saddam was a bad guy and he should go. There's no need to cut and run and to leave our troops without having the broad bipartisan support that they had going into the conflict.

So, I disagree a little bit with Howard Dean and I expect to receive several e-mails today so I can respond to them in person. They are very eager to try to discredit people who supported the war.

On the other hand, I think the administration must come clean and level with the American people on the quality of intelligence that they provided to members of Congress as well as to the American people.

BUCHANAN: You know, there's a real good issue here. Donna suggested there are certain reasons why these Democratic leaders did indeed vote for the president to have the authority to go to Iraq and I think she missed the major one and number one was these fellows had questions. They were in the press talking about concern.

They didn't feel there was an exit strategy that was well defined but when the vote came up the polls in this country were overwhelmingly in favor of the president going to Iraq and so rather than vote their conscience, rather than really ask the tough questions that needed to be asked at the time, they through away any kind of leadership qualities and they decided to do what was politically expedient because they knew they were running for president. So, given that they are hypocrites and they are leaderless individuals and that is an issue and Dean makes a good point.

BRAZILE: Well, I'll tell you one thing there's a lot of things you can call Democrats but gutless I disagree. They stood their ground. They had firm principles in going into this conflict. They wanted U.N. involvement. They asked the White House to give them, you know, quality intelligence and what they received many Democrats as well as Republicans we all now know that some of their information was bogus but it's no reason to cut and run right now.

BUCHANAN: There's another issue here that's critical and that is I think the Democrats are showing enormous, really foolhardy politically because what they have done with all of this, I believe we should have an investigation of our intelligence and so I think the president of all people needs that.

But the key here is the politics of it is foolhardy. National security is now going to be an issue in 2004. That helps George Bush and hurts these fellows who have no credibility on this issue.

BRAZILE: Bring it on. Bring it on Democrats.

BUCHANAN: Wrong field you're playing on friend.

BRAZILE: Bring it on.

WOODRUFF: We're hearing you both, Bay, Donna. Thank you very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you. All right.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you next week.

And checking in now a little more on the Democratic presidential hopefuls in our "Campaign News Daily," Senator John Edwards is making several midweek stops in New Hampshire after holding a two hour town hall meeting last night in Portsmouth, Edwards promoted his plans for job growth this morning at a plant in Milford.

The belt tightening as Senator Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign also affects two of the Senator's own children. Matt and Rebecca Lieberman were being paid combined annual salaries of $100,000 each as fund-raisers. The campaign confirmed that the siblings will take pay cuts, reportedly 20 percent each.

Attention race fans, Democratic hopeful Bob Graham wants your vote. The Graham for president campaign has extended its sponsorship of the NASCAR Craftsman Series truck team until the end of the season. The Graham team is aiming to attract blue collar and rural racing fans, a group that voted heavily Republican in recent elections.

Well, a clean air initiative leads to a Republican divide. Up next, I'll talk with Senator Lamar Alexander about his decision to go against the White House on the environment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Tennessee's U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander this week announced his support for a clean air bill that he says will be more effective than a measure proposed by President Bush, his fellow Republican.

A short time ago I spoke with Senator Alexander and I started by asking him why he split with the Bush administration on cleaning up the air.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: First, it's no surprise. I said that in the campaign even though I'm strongly in support of the president but we need a stronger bill than the president has proposed. He's proposed a good start. He's put it on the agenda as only a president can. He moves in the right direction with sulfur and nitrogen and mercury pollutants but it doesn't go far enough fast enough and we in Tennessee have a real problem.

We've got the great Smoky Mountains and the air blows into Tennessee that's polluted and then it blows up against the mountains and it just hangs there, so the Smokies are the most polluted national park and Knoxville is one of the top ten polluted cities in America and we need to change that.

WOODRUFF: Have you made this case to the EPA and to the White House.

ALEXANDER: I have. I've made it. I've met with the Council on Environmental Quality and I've talked to my fellow Senators and I thought if early on I took a strong position for a strong bill, a balanced bill, one that respects our need for job growth that maybe that would move the debate toward a stronger bill.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you something that a spokesman for the National Resources Defense Council said. He said: "The support for the alternative bills" like the one you're supporting, "shows the debate on air pollution in the Senate is moving swiftly and dramatically away from the president's position." Is that what's happening? ALEXANDER: Well, it starts with the president's position. The good thing about the president's position is he's proposed a market based way of cleaning the air that limits regulation, limits litigation, and creates uncertainty. It creates less - more certainty. What we're doing is going a little farther a little faster and we're adding some modest controls to carbon dioxide.

WOODRUFF: How do you explain the decision by the EPA not to make public its own analysis of the Bush Clear Skies initiative and refusing to make public its economic analysis of some of these other proposals?

ALEXANDER: Well, I can't. I can't really explain that. I don't think that's helpful. One of the reports got out in November and it showed the bill that I'm supporting does a lot more to reduce health care costs and only costs consumers a little bit more than the president's bill. It would be helpful to us in the Senate, as we weigh these different alternatives, to know what the costs and the benefits are.

WOODRUFF: The last question I want to ask you to put on your Foreign Relations Committee hat and that is the whole brouhaha now over what the president had to say in the State of the Union about intelligence, about what Iraq was or wasn't doing to get weapons of mass destruction before the war.

One of your colleagues in the Senate, Republican Chuck Hagel, among others, is saying the administration, the Congress, needs to get to the bottom of this. Is this administration in danger of having its credibility undermined?

ALEXANDER: I don't think so. You know this is 16 words and it's the truth apparently. I mean British intelligence sources citing multiple sources say that it's true and that is what the president said.

He said the British say X. I think we ought to be focusing on the larger picture, democracy in Iraq, a little more freedom in Iran, Syria moving out of Lebanon, Iraq now not funding the Palestinians, maybe a little progress with the road map on the Middle East peace. That's what's really happening in the Middle East and I think this is way overblown.

WOODRUFF: Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.

Well, we've heard all about the White House hopefuls and their campaign cash. Up next, the latest word on the finances of a group hoping to coax a new candidate (unintelligible).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we've reported President Bush has a mere $32 million in cash on hand for his reelection bid already. Still hopeful but quite away behind that number are the folks at Draft Wesley Clark 2004. The group reports that it collected about $15,000 in the first ten days that the pack was open for business this month. General Clark says he has not made up his mind about a possible presidential run. If he runs, he may have to raise more money than that.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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