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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

The Vote To Recall California Govenor Gray Davis Set For October 7. Who May Run For Election In California? Was Former President Clinton Right To Defend Bush? Definitive Report Of 9/11 Released Today, What Was In it?

Aired July 24, 2003 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANNOUNCER: It's been 82 years since a govenor has been recalled, but political history may soon happen again.
LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMONTE (D), CALIFORNIA: The date that I have decided to choose for this election is Tuesday, October the 7, 77 days from the date of certification.

ANNOUNCER: So the game is on in California, but who are the other players and will "the Terminator" enter the fray? Can Gray Davis survive? The govenor won't go down without a fight.

Did a lack of communication between the CIA and the FBI contribute to the 9/11 terrorist attacks? A long awaited report gives some answers but leaves many question. Live from Sacramento, California, this is a special edition of Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Good afternoon from Sacramento I'm candy Crowley, Judy is on assignment.

California Governor Gray Davis has less than three months to save his political career. Just a few hours ago, California's lieutenant governor announced a recall election will be held October 7, giving Davis little time to convince voters he deserves a chance to complete the second term he won just eight short months ago. The recall election will be a costly one for California and the details are only beginning to take shape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWELY: That oncoming train is picking up speed.

BUSTAMONTE: The date that I've decided to choose for this election is Tuesday, October the 7th.

CROWLEY: California's second in command is required by law to set the date for the recall vote on California's No. 1, but he is not required to like it.

BUSTAMONTE: Having a recall, in my view, is not the proper way of being able to do this. Just because you're mad at somebody doesn't mean you spend $35 million to oust somebody.

CROWLEY: Figuratively, maybe literally, that may only be the half of it. Between now and October 7, the secretary of state's office has to mail informational pamphlets to California's 15 million registered voters. The state's 58 counties have to find up to 25,000 locations for people to cast their ballots, and recruit 100,000 poll workers to oversee it all. And oh, yes, some counties need voting machines. They threw out the old ones, and the new ones haven't arrived. Hear those alarm bells ringing? So does the state's top election official.

KEVIN SHELLEY, SECRETARY OF STATE, CALIFORNIA: No one, obviously, wants a Florida type election in California and I certainly don't want that on my watch as secretary of state. It's a challenge.

CROWLEY: Beyond the logistical nightmare, there are the political machinations. At least 12 different organizations are bringing cacophany to the chaos, including Rescue California, which wants Davis out, and Stand for California, which wants Davis to stay. The governor is not popular here but the anti-recallers say that's beside the point.

ART PULASKI, CALIF. LABOR FEDERATION: We need to educate voters that this recall is not about one man, whether you like him or not. It's about these issues that most of us hold dear.

CROWLEY: Davis and allies will frame the recall as an attempt by minority Republicans to win an election they can't win the old- fashioned way. In his brief, begrudging news conference, Lieutenant Governor Bustamonte seemed to settle on of the outstanding issues, there wil be two on the ballot. They boil down to this, do you want to throw Gray Davis out of office? If so, who do you want in his place? One of the pro-recallers say it won't be enough for wannabes to talk about what a lousy job Gray Davis is doing.

TED COSTA, RECALL GRAY DAVIS: You're not going to get by with just a few campaign slogans. They're really going to have to have a plan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: One last thing about the political maneuverings. The state Republican party has quietly told those who would like to run against Davis that they should hold out making their campaigns official until the very last minute. The party wants to keep its options open should a Democrat get in, and they want to whittle down the list of Republicans.

This being California, the list of potential candidates who may try to replace Davis is large and diverse. Our own Bill Schneider is back in Washington with more on that. Bill, who's on the list?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Candy, the game is on. Now, who are the possible players? Two candidates have already anted up, I'm in, says Republican Darryl Issa, he paid for the game. I'm in, too, says Green party candidate Peter Camejo, he got 5 percent of the vote last year.

Two other former losers could get back into the game, Republicans Richard Riordan and Bill Simon, Jr. Last year Ridroan lost the GOP primary to Simon, who lost the election to Davis. Plus two former winners, Republican Governor George Deukmejian, and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Hey, haven't they already served two terms? Yes, but that was before the term limit law took effect. They can still play.

Then there's the dealer, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamonte, a Democrat. He makes the rules possibly with his eyes on the pot. Two kibitzers. On the right, Republican State Senator Tom McClintock to come, formerly on the right, now on the left, columnist Arianna Huffington. Some wildcards, three Democrats who hold office statewide office, Treasurer Phil Angelides, Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, plus former Clinton Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta. Like every other Democrat, they say they do not intend to run.

Well, we'll see what happens if it looks like Davis is about to fold. Two aces in the hole. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the state's most popular politician, and the terminator, Republican dream candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Will his wife let him play? Oh, and a joker. For decades, L.A. residents have looked at billboards touting the fleshly charms of a model named Angelyne . Well guess what? Angelyne says she wants to play, too -- Candy?

CROWLEY: Thanks, Bill. Sounds like it's going to be a very long ballot.

Straight ahead, California's lieutenant governor sets a date, but he's not happy with the idea of a recall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSTAMONTE: Frankly, I don't think the recall is the way to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Up next, my conversation with Cruz Bustamonte about his duties in the recall process and why he thinks it's a bad idea.

Also, Bill Clinton rises to defend the Republican who replaced him, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan consider the former president's comments about Iraqi intelligence.

And later, electronic voting was a big hit with many voters, but are the machines at a big risk for hackers?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The man in the middle of the California governor recall vote is Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. As the state constitution stipulates, he sets the date of October 7 for the historic election. I spoke with the lieutenant governor earlier today and began by asking how wise it is for Democrats to stay off the ballot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BUSTAMANTE: For me, I took a real good ,close look at all the aspects of it. And strategically, I think it's the best way of handling this particular activity. I've talked with many folks within the party. I've talked to a lot of folks that are outside the party. And I think that when the message comes out, that this is a waste of taxpayer dollars, of $30 million or more. The numbers will continue to grow. We won't know exactly what it is, but we're estimating $30 million plus. When they find out that those are going to come out of the kinds of services in a budget where we're already feeling a tremendous crunch, and when they find out that this is absolutely not the right use of the recall process, I think we're going to have a good message that's going to say and it's going to resonate with people, and then they're going to vote against the recall.

CROWLEY: But Governor, aren't you putting all of the Democratics' eggs in the basket of Gray Davis? I mean, if you see those poll numbers plummet even further, aren't you really risking the future of the state if you're a good Democrat?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, for me, I have to make a decision in terms of my career and what I think is best in terms of my involvement with this particular election. Other Democrats are going to have to do the same thing. I've decided for me that the best thing for me and for my participation in the selection is not to put my name forward. And so...

CROWLEY: As an overall strategy with no one coming on? Do you like it?

BUSTAMANTE: Others are going to have to decide themselves. But for me, I think it's the best thing for me.

CROWLEY: But for Democrats, do you think it is, for all Democrats to stay off except for Gray Davis?

BUSTAMANTE: I think it's a winning formula.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about something that the secretary of state said yesterday. He raised the specter of Florida.

BUSTAMANTE: Yes.

CROWLEY: There's a lot of unknowns out there. You apparently have some places that don't have their new voting machines. You've got to put this all together...

BUSTAMANTE: Exactly.

CROWLEY: ...in a short period of time. How worried are you that California becomes Florida?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, I'm pretty sure is that it's not going to become Florida . But in order to ensure that, based on the length of time in the constitution, we have a maximum of 80 days that we can put on a Tuesday. And so what we decided to do was put it on the 77th day, giving the most amount of time possible for county clerks to be able to do the best job they can with the circumstances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Now, as his lieutenant governor was setting the date for the recall vote, Governor Gray Davis was in Los Angeles to talk about a variety of budget items. But you didn't think he could get away without answering a question or two about the recall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm going to fight for what's right for the people of this state. And I'm going to get my job done. The most important part of what is passing a budget. And then if the people want me to present my credentials, and apparently they do one more time, I'm going to present my credentials. I do not -- I am not reluctant about doing that. Five times the people have elected me to statewide office, more than any other Californians. I am honored to be governor of this state. And I think while they have problems with me, while I've made mistakes, while we have a tough economy all across the country, at the end of the day, I believe they will acknowledge we have been making progress in a tough economy, and I don't think they're going to replace my progressive agenda with a conservative agenda.

So the election will be about whether or not we've done the best we can in trying times and whether or not we want to replace a pro- choice, pro-environment, pro-public safety governor with someone who's pro-choice and not pro-environment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Governor Gray Davis, who is the first governor in California history to be subject to a recall vote.

Back on the East Coast, on Capitol Hill this afternoon, members of the joint intelligence panel investigating the September 11 attacks, released their final report. The document concludes the FBI and CIA had accumulated a large amount of information about al Qaeda. But none of the information pointed to specific times, methods or locations for attacks. The report also found the CIA was aware of the terror links of two of the future hijackers who were also in contact with an FBI informant in San Diego.

The report concludes -- quote -- "The informants' contacts with the hijackers, had they been capitalized on, would have given the San Diego field office perhaps the intelligence community's best chance to unravel the September 11 plot."

For more on the political reaction to this report and some of the criticism aimed at the White House, we want to turn to our Capitol Hill correspondent, Jonathan Karl -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, as you can imagine, virtually all the Democrats running for president have already come out with their reactions to this report. Perhaps the harshest statement comes from Senator Joe Lieberman, who raises what before now was really one of the untouchable questions, the question of whether or not 9/11 is, in some sense, the Bush administration's fault because they did not follow warnings they should have followed.

In his statement, he says -- quote -- "There were enough warnings, enough signals and enough information to force us to ask forthrightly, 'Did the Bush administration do everything that could have been done once it knew that Osama bin Laden was determined to use airplane hijacking to strike at the United States." That statement from Joe Lieberman.

Republicans are quick to point out that much of the report talks about missed opportunities that happened under Bill Clinton's watch. So saying the blame game here doesn't do anybody any good. In fact, the situation out in San Diego, which the report cites as the best opportunity to uncover the 9/11 plot -- well, those individuals were in San Diego in 2000 when Bill Clinton was still president.

Now, there's also another aspect of the political play here. And that is complaints from Democrats -- vigorous complaints that there was too much left out of this report. And if you look, Candy -- if you look at this report, there are pages and pages and pages that go on and on that are left blank, that have been censored for national security reasons, or at least that's the reasons cited.

Democrats say many of these pages have to do with Saudi Arabia and that the Bush administration is trying to cover for Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Why is there a constant, coddling and covering up when it comes to the Saudis? We know there are terrorists walking out in the open over there. We know they raise millions of dollars in telethons for suicide bombers and their families. We know they have cooperated less with America and American intelligence than just about any other country. And we continue to coddle them, and we continue to cover up their wrongdoing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Republicans say charges of a cover-up are simply nonsense, that what was left out was left out for solid national security reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PORTER GOSS (R), FLORIDA: Remember, we are at war, and there are some actionable items still being pursued by the appropriate authorities. And you also have to understand that there are people watching this press conference who are going to read this book, who are going to analyze what information we've put out and what we haven't put out. And the last thing we want to do in any way, is create an opportunity for a terrorist to take advantage of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Meanwhile, Democrat Bob Graham, another one of those presidential candidates, is holding a press conference right now where he is calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Jonathan. We're at that time where it is hard to take the politics out of policy. Thanks.

Tomorrow that child tax credit check goes in the mail. But more than 6 million lower-income families won't be getting one. Congress is deadlocked over whether that change that. And the stalemate is triggering sharp words from the White House. We have that story from CNN's Kathleen Koch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the $400 rebate checks rolled off the presses, President Bush prodded lawmakers.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've got to resolve their differences and get it to my desk as quickly as possible.

KOCH: Since Congress in May expanded the child tax credit, it has grappled with whether to fix a last minute change that left out 6.5 million families making less than $26,000 a year. Supporters have mounted protests at the White House, on Capitol Hill and bogged down House floor action.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They have refused to provide working families with the same child tax credit they have already given every other family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We only service children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years of age.

KOCH: Caught in the middle are people like single mother Ayyisha Turner, who makes $17,000 a year helping run a non-profit child care program in WASHINGTON, D.C. Her teenage son and daughter have summer jobs in child care.

AYYISHA TURNER, CHILDCARE PROGRAM ASSISTANT: I thought that the low-income would be receiving it.

KOCH: So confident was Turner the money was coming, that she already spent it.

TURNER: I spent money that I shouldn't have spent, thinking I'm going to receive a check in the mail to replace the money that I spent. So I just have to deal with that as the days come.

KOCH: Opponents like House Majority Leader Tom DeLay explain low-income Americans like a mother making $20,000 a year with an $800 tax bill have already seen dramatic tax reductions. REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Under the president's jobs and growth package we just passed that same single mothers, total tax bill is now zero.

KOCH: Others caution the expansion isn't good tax law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By increasingly turning the tax code into a welfare system is really problematic, I think. I mean, most legislators view welfare as something you want to do on the spending side of the budget and not on the tax side of the budget.

KOCH (on camera): The House of Representatives leaves Friday for a five-week summer recess. So any expansion of the child tax credit may have to wait until fall.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan go head-to-head over the move to boot California Governor Gray Davis out of office.

Also, the buzz on Andy Young. Is the former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. gearing up for a Senate run? The latest in "Campaign News Daily."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: With us now, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and American cause president, Bay Buchanan. Thank you all for being there, but I'm here and all politics is local. I need your uppermost thought on Gray Davis and the recall attempt.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRES. AMERICAN CAUSE: Amazingly refreshing, Candy. Just terrific to see that there's going to be a little accountability reintroduced into this political realm of ours.

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MGR.: I disagree. I think it's a sad day for democracy. Once again, the Republicans can't win the election outright they have to recall someone in order to win. I think this is going to be a Florida-style election where the votes may not even be counted because some precincts won't even have new voting machines in time.

BUCHANAN: Florida-style means we win, Candy. That sounds good to me.

CROWLEY: Fortunately we'll have what about 80 days to discuss this. So I wanted to move you on to one of Donna's favorite people, and that's former President Clinton. Who was on Larry King the other night and had this to say in defense of George Bush's Iraqi policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRM. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We can have honest disagreements about where we go from here, and we have space now to discuss that in what I hope will be a nonpartisan and open way. But this State of the Union deal they decided to use the British intelligence, the president said it was British intelligence. Then they said on balance they shouldn't have done it.

You know, everybody makes mistakes when they're president. You can't make as many calls as you have to make without messing up once in a while. The thing we ought to be focused on now is what is the right thing to do now. That's what I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Gee, Donna I'm not sure that President Bush's spokesman couldn't have said it any better. What are you thinking?

BRAZILE: Well, the last thing I expected was Bill Clinton to pardon George Bush. Look, I disagree with my former president. I think he's wrong on this one here. We can't move on until the president takes full responsibility. And for the White House to finally come clean and explain why they exaggerated the evidence.

BUCHANAN: You know, Donna's really got to listen to the president here, her President Clinton. He's made some excellent -- it's remarkable what he had to say. Not only did he support the president, saying his actions against Iraq was absolutely justified that he's never deceived the American public, but he's shamed the Democrats, this assault against them, he ashamed them and says, listen, you guy, you're on the wrong message, you're not accurate what you are saying and it's time to move on. Donna, you'd better listen. Good advice.

CROWLEY: Donna, doesn't it undercut the nine Democrats that have been out there pounding President Bush on this, to have, you know, the hero of the Democratic party out there supporting him?

BRAZILE: Absolutely not. Again, I think the president, on this one here, is absolutely wrong. This is a bipartisan conversation that's taking place right now, not a partisan conversation. You have Republicans who are asking for a better explanation from the White House as well. So Bill Clinton, we still love you. But on these matters here, we'd better take our advice from some of the candidates running.

BUCHANAN: But he's absolutely undermined them, Candy, there's no question about that. And what he's saying -- and politically, no one's ever questioned President Clinton, he's always been very good politically. And what he's telling them is you've got the wrong message. This is not what you should be talking about. We should be talking about how we're going to build Iraq and make sure we're going to be successful in this peace.

BRAZILE: And Democrats.

CROWLEY: I've got to jump in here. We'll go on later with this one later too. Thank you all so much for being here. Come out here next time. BRAZILE: We will.

CROWLEY: The political influence of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton leads our headlines in campaign news daily. she's not running for president, as we know, but if she did, she would enjoy strong party support. A new Quinnipiac University Poll finds Senator Clinton the runaway favorite of Democratic voters when measured against the nine announced candidates. Only Senator Joe Lieberman reaches double digits against Senator Clinton.

Georgia Democrats looking for a candidate to run for retiring Senator Zell Miller's seat may finally have a top-tiered choice. State party chairman Calvin Smeary tells CNN that former Congressman and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young is seriously considering the race. They described Young as a, quote, "clear the field candidate." He says he expects Young to make a decision very soon.

Are electronic voting machines, a disaster waiting to happen? That's up next on INSIDE POLITICS. What a new report says about possible mischief from high-tech gremlins.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Could computer geeks cause havoc in upcoming elections? A new report reveals major kinks in the software powering thousands of d-bold (ph) electronic voting machines across the nation. According to the Johns Hopkins study, tech minded troublemakers could easily vote more than once, or alter existing ballots. A spokesman for D- Bold (ph) tells "The New York Times" the company is constantly improving its machines.

That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. We are bidding you good bye from Sacramento, California. I'm Candy Crowley. It is now on to CROSS FIRE which starts right now.

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

October 7. Who May Run For Election In California? Was Former President Clinton Right To Defend Bush? Definitive Report Of 9/11 Released Today, What Was In it?>


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