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Saddam Hussein's Daughters Speak Out; Interview With Terry McAuliffe

Aired August 1, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Nine candidates, but no clear leader. Democrats are attacking Democrats as party veterans shake their heads. Can the Dems get their house in order before '04 rolls around? We'll ask DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

As Arnold prepares a late-night announcement next week, the cast of characters in the Golden State recall is expanding. Think the chaos in California can't get any weirder? Wait until Larry Flynt enters the race. We'll have all the recall headlines.

Looking for a little excitement on Capitol Hill?

JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Will you vote for me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I will. What are you running for?

ANNOUNCER: But is America ready? We'll take a look at the Jerry Springer speculation.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us. We're going to get to politics in just a moment.

But first, the two widowed daughters of Saddam Hussein say they last saw their father a week before the war. And they say they don't know where he is now.

In an exclusive CNN interview conducted this afternoon, the women spoke from a palace in Jordan, where both have been granted sanctuary.

CNN's Jane Arraf conducted the interview and she joins us now on the phone from Amman. Jane, it is a remarkable interview.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They were remarkable women, Judy.

The only thing we've really known of them is what we've seen in the very few photos that have been emerging. Now there is a famous photo that had been released, a family photo, with the two daughters and their husbands standing behind them. After their husband's returned to Iraq following their defection, they returned believing they were forgiven. They were killed, believed to be on the orders of their own father, Saddam Hussein, the girls' own father. Their pictures were airbrushed out. So what we really had been expecting were two demure women who really didn't have a lot to say.

And what we found instead were two women very composed, very dignified and very clear about what their feelings were, particularly about their father. The younger, Rana, who is 32, married at 15, and she has four children, said that they had grown up in essentially a loving home. Now, let's listen to that.


RANA HUSSEIN, SADDAM'S DAUGHTER (through translator): He have so many feelings, and he was very tender with all of us, to the point we would go to our father for many issues or problems, and he told us to tell him what's going on. Usually the daughters should be close to her mother. But we were the ones who would usually go to him. He was our friend. He treated us fine. He taught us the right way. All the great manners.


ARRAF: Now, they are an enigma, Judy. These are two women whose father was probably responsible for the deaths of their husbands. And I asked them, wasn't that -- isn't that a dilemma, the vision that the world has of Saddam Hussein with the loving man they were describing. The oldest daughter, Raghad, said there had been some tension after that happened, after their husband's were killed, but she said really now she didn't want to dwell on it because their father was in a very difficult position and he did not -- he would not want to see his daughters, as she put it, at war with him.

And an interesting answer and one that indicates a couple of things, that obviously the relationship had them estranged, but now it's at the point where -- they said, when asked whether they had a message for their father, that they wanted him to know that they loved him and missed them and hoped to see him again -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jane, what is their view of the United States?

ARRAF: There were a lot of things they didn't want to talk about, and that was one of them. That fell into the realm of political discussions, which they said they weren't prepared for, prepared in a sense that these are two women who have been in hiding for several months. They came just last night. They've only been in the country less than 24 hours, and they've come with their nine children. They were absolutely exhausted. They weren't particularly thrilled about talking to the media, but they felt it was important to get it over with, to let the world see what they were like.

In terms of the United States and in terms of the future of Iraq, they both said that they could not go back, that they didn't want to go back, that it was too painful, that the country was in such shambles. They have not seen their father since just before the war, nor have they seen their mother. They described quite a dramatic meeting five days before the war, the last time the family got together, where they had a family meeting and decided to split up. They said essentially that they were too large a family to hide in any one place. They've been hiding since then. But now they have found refuge. They simply asked the Jordanian royal family for protection, and the royal family said, "Yes, of course. Please come."

And they're here, according to the family, for as long as they need protection -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jane Arraf joining us by telephone after a fascinating interview with the daughters of Saddam Hussein.

Well, from that story to the politics here in the United States, it is getting stranger by the day in the leadup to California's recall election. There is still the question of whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will enter the fray.

And what about a self-proclaimed smut peddler? Larry Flynt is among dozens of people who have taken steps to declare their candidacy. As potential candidates line up, the embattled governor, Gray Davis , s trying to carry on with his domestic duties.

As "TIME" magazine's West Coast Bureau Chief Terry McCarthy is with me now from Los Angeles.

Terry, my first question is, you know, it's pretty clear, I think, to many of us that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not going to run. That's what we're hearing from the people around him. What's holding up his announcement of that?

TERRY MCCARTHY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Judy, let me just preface my answer by saying since I came to California, I've been trying to persuade my editors in New York to take the state seriously ,and it's not just a state full of surfers and models with inflated chests.

And guess what? We've got a recall election and we got candidates ranging from, you know, models with inflated chests to a comedian who registers his candidacy on eBay to a woman in San Francisco who's selling her campaign on thong underwear to, of course, Larry Flynt, the publisher of "Hustler" magazine.

Now, as for Arnold, it seems that he was initially keen to go. However, his wife seems to have made a very strong argument that this would interfere with their family life. She is, after all, from the Kennedy clan. There are fears of security. They have four children who are young.


MCCARTHY: So I think he is being pushed away from that by his wife.

WOODRUFF: So what's holding up the announcement and what's holding up Richard Riordan from announcing, which we keep being told is going to happen?

MCCARTHY: I think what we're seeing is it's boiling down to a game of chicken. The deadline for registering for a candidate is next Saturday week. Riordan is keen to go in, but he's afraid if Dianne Feinsten was to declare, that he wouldn't be able to beat her. So he's waiting to see what she's going to do. He doesn't want Schwarzenegger to say that he's not going to run until Riordan is ready to go. So it's a -- sort of a game of chicken, who's going to be the first to fold.

WOODRUFF: And yet Dianne Feinstein formally, on the record, says she's not going to run. At the same time, we know the Democrats are doing some polls out there. And if those polls continue to show in the next few days that Gray Davis is weak, what can happen, do you think?

MCCARTHY: Well, I know there's been some talk about Leon Panetta coming in for just a limited term of three years. I know the Democrats are doing a lot of polling. Gray Davis has got about a week now to prove that he can win this. And if come next Thursday or Friday his numbers aren't looking good, there will be huge pressure either on Feinstein or Panetta or someone else to step in.

WOODRUFF: And is there any thought out there at this point, Terry, that Davis could actually win this?

MCCARTHY: Oh, absolutely. It's entirely possible.

Davis' strategy now is to direct the entire debate away from his own personality, which is not the vote winner. And two, the very notion of whether or not we should have this election in California in the first place. And so all those Joe candidates that I mentioned at beginning, that works in his favor because he can then argue, this is a ridiculous waste of time for California. We don't need a recall election. It's an attempt by some right-wing Republicans to steal the election and steer the debate away from his own personality and against the very notion of this recall debate in the first place. So he could still -- he still could swing this his way.

WOODRUFF: It's not dull. Terry McCarthy, "TIME" magazine, joining us from California. Thank you very much.


WOODRUFF: Well, ahead of his monthlong trip to Crawford, Texas, President Bush is disputing the economic naysayers.

During a Cabinet meeting this morning, Mr. Bush focused on the economy, insisting that is vibrant and strong. That despite a new report showing the jobless rate at 6.2 percent in July. Now that is a slight drop from the nine-year high in June.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even though there's been some progress made in terms of numbers, this administration focuses on lives. And when there are people looking for work and they can't find a job, it means we're going to continue to try to put pro-growth expansive policies in place.


WOODRUFF: The president is scheduled to leave Washington tomorrow for his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The president will work some campaign politics, however, into his August vacation. And there are no lazy summer weekends for the '04 Democrats either.

Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily, " Howard Dean continues his New Hampshire offensive with yet another visit to the Granite State. And Iowa is also on the weekend itinerary for at least two hopefuls, Bob Graham and Carol Moseley Braun.

John Kerry hits a different sort of trail in Boston tomorrow. The senator will ride in a bike-a-thon to benefit cancer patients.

Here are four words you rarely find together: "Dennis Kucinich" and glitzy fund-raiser. But tomorrow the long-shot candidate will be celebrated by actors Hector Elizondo and James Cromwell at a $500-a- head dinner in Los Angeles.

INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Still ahead, our Bill Schneider's here to tell us who's going to get the "Political Play of the Week."

Plus the race for California governor, names and rumors are flying. But how much weirder can it get? We'll talk to the chairman of the National Democratic party.

And Senator Jerry Springer? Will the talk show host give it a go? We'll tell you what he says. You're watching INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: The Teamsters Union officially endorsed Dick Gephardt for president today. Teamsters President James Hoffa called the Missouri congressman to inform him of the unanimous decision by the leadership. Gephardt and Hoffa will appear together for the formal endorsement announcement in Detroit on August 9. The two will then travel to key states including Iowa and New Hampshire.

With me now with his take on are where the Democratic Party stands in the California recall election and 2004 is the party's national chairman, Terry McAuliffe. Thank you for being with us.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Great to be here, Judy.

WOODRUFF: You know -- I know you're saying that Gray Davis can beat this, but there are now a growing number of democrats, including three sitting members of the Congressional delegation from California, who say they're worried enough that they want Dianne Feinstein to get on the replacement ballot. Their view is that just in case Gray Davis loses they don't want there to be no Democratic, strong Democratic alternative. Why isn't that a good idea?

MCAULIFFE: Well, what we're trying to keep everybody focused on is voting no on Question 1. We think the whole recall's a bad idea, $67 million of a report yesterday that's going to be spent on it. You could end up with a conservative partisan Republican being the governor who is anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-gun control.

Right now we are all unified as it relates to Question 1. Senator Feinstein is 100 percent against the recall. Her public statements have said she has no intentions of running. But you'll see a lot of discussions as we lead up to August 9, which is the filing deadline. But today we're all unified.

WOODRUFF: That sounds like a big wide-open door, Terry McAuliffe, to change the mind of the party, for Dianne Feinstein or somebody else to get in. You said right now you're united but...

MCAULIFFE: We are united. And I've spoken to most of the Democrats out there involved in this process. We all are working together to make sure there is a no vote on Question 1 and we're going to win that. Our whole focus is on that. We're not even going to get to Question 2. It's become a joke. Two hundred people have picked up applications. Larry Flynt is running.


WOODRUFF: ... if you've got polls on Gray Davis that come back and say he's still weak, in the 20s or 30s or somewhere, aren't you going to be obligated as the Democratic Party chairman, to see that there's a strong Democrat on that ballot?

MCAULIFFE: We're supporting Gray Davis. We'll see where we are next week. I think all of us are supportive of Governor Davis. He rightly won this election, Judy, eight months ago. Here we are spending millions dollars (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we support him, we're going to win on Question 1, so we don't even have to get to Question 2.

WOODRUFF: That's your position as of now. We'll talk to you again next week.

All right, moving to the big picture, the '04 Democrats running for president. Democratic Leadership Council meeting last week. The message they put out was that Democrats can't come up with a position that is strong on defense and is not as reflexively anti-tax cut as the White House position. And they're going to have a hard time winning this election. Doesn't that mean that a number of your candidates for president are in trouble?

MCAULIFFE: No. We're just beginning the primary process. We are very strong on defense. All of our candidates. And when we get to our nominee, which I think will be March of next year, you'll see the Democratic Party out there very strong on the national defense issues.

Also very strong on out there on the economic issues. You saw the reports out: 44,000 people lost their job in July. In addition, 500,000 people, Judy, stopped looking for work in the month of July.

George Bush's economic plan has been a disaster. It hasn't worked. You're going to see our positive -- what our agenda is going to be to get this economy moving again. I feel bad for all the people who have lost their jobs out there. No one works more to make sure that people have jobs than the Democratic Party.

WOODRUFF: But you also have, again this is coming from the Democratic Leadership Council, moderate wing of your party, Mark Penn, who is a Democrat, saying Democrats right now are hurt by the perception that they stand for big government, that they're for raising taxes, that they're too liberal and so on and so on.

MCAULIFFE: My answer to Mark Penn and to everybody else, this is very early in the primary process. I remind people that Bill Clinton didn't even get in the race till October 4 of 1991.

We have plenty of time. We have nine candidates running. We've got to get through the primary process. The primary voters will pick the Democratic nominee.

At that point in March we have eight months to go one on one, Judy, against George Bush. George Bush right now, his re-elect number is 45 percent. His father was 52 percent on this same day in 1991. His father's economy was as bad as his son's, but he only had half the deficit. His father didn't have credibility issues as it relates to his speeches and so forth.

WOODRUFF: But if your field is as strong as you say it is, why are people like Hillary Clinton a the top of -- when you ask Democrats who would you like to see president? It's Hillary Clinton.

Al Gore had to go to all the trouble to say that he's not running. There's still a lot of interest of other candidates getting into the race.

MCAULIFFE: I think at this point nobody's really paying attention. I saw a poll today, 66 percent of Americans couldn't name one candidate yet.

When Bill Clinton got in on October 4 of 1991 he had a 2 percent name I.D. Judy, it's early in the process. Once we get through into the fall, into the primary season, people will begin to pay attention.

Right now George Bush is in the middle 40s on re-elect. Anytime you have a candidate under 50 percent, we're in very good shape. His programs aren't working. Our programs when we get our message out will work. And that's what the people are going to go vote in November.

WOODRUFF: We are paying attention.

MCAULIFFE: Great. I know you are. So am I.

WOODRUFF: And Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic Party. It's great to see you. Thanks for coming by we appreciate it.

MCAULIFFE: Thanks, Judy. Great to be with you. You bet. Thanks.


Still ahead, can the former Cincinnati mayor turned talk show host make a viable run for the U.S. Senate? What does he say? We'll tell you when we come back.


WOODRUFF: TV host Jerry Springer is expected to announce next week whether he'll run for the U.S. Senate in Ohio. His spokesman says he's still deciding.

Springer, a Democrat, is eying the seat currently held by Republican George Voinovich. Springer can talk the talk.

CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, looks at whether he can walk the walk to Washington.




CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To run or not to run? That is the question.

CROWD: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

CROWLEY: Name recognition? Check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We grew up with Jerry Springer. I remember high school, watching him on TV and stuff.

CROWLEY: A third of Ohio voters are Democrats, a third are Republicans, a third are independents.

SPRINGER: Hey, guys. How are you?

CROWLEY: Jerry Springer hopes to form a base with those who don't bother to be anything.

SPRINGER: There are 2.5 million people here in Ohio that think all politics is bull. They don't believe the Republicans, they don't believe the Democrats, they don't think any politician relates to their needs. Somehow I have a connect with them. But they only vote occasionally. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're great.

SPRINGER: Do you think you're going to, like, register and vote and everything?


SPRINGER: You would vote for me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I would. What are you running for?

CROWLEY: Financial resources? Check. Even Republicans buy tables to see Springer test-market his politics. Not that he needs the money. The guy made millions of "the show."

Experience? Here the checklist bogs down. Thirty years ago, Springer was a Cincinnati city councilman who resigned in a sex scandal but was later re-elected with enough votes to make him mayor. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Springer is liberal Populist who says one of the things he learned going from poor to rich is that rich people get the breaks.

SPRINGER: I really think regular folks get a raw deal. I'd love to be a fighter for them.

CROWLEY: In the past four months, Springer has visited nearly half of Ohio's 88 counties, talking education, economy, health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think he's, you know, he's representing us for a change instead of someone who is only supporting the people who make lots of money.

MARK NAYMIL, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: The show and Jerry Springer as a senator, it don't add up to me. I couldn't see Jerry Springer being a senator.

CROWLEY: And that's the problem. For the last 13 years, there has been "the show."

SPRINGER: My show didn't shut down one school. It didn't close one factory. It didn't...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to keep saying that too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a theory that nobody will step and share a podium with him. What happens if we have a Democratic presidential candidate coming through Ohio next year? Will they stand next to Jerry? You know, will the taint be there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. It's great to see you all.

CROWLEY: Democratic State Senator Eric Fingerhut would face Springer in a primary. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we'll lose not only all the independent swing voters and Republican voters, but we'll lost a good part of the Democratic voters, too, who are , rankly, embarrassed and appalled by what Jerry's been doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: WTAM 1100, you're on the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this man has profited and made millions and millions of dollars by exploiting people and basically ruining a lot of lives.

CROWLEY: It's a riddle, really. How to use the show to bring them in without turning them off.

SPRINGER: If I'll never break through this you know, kind of the upity show, those people that -- you know, it's that arrogance, but yet I may not be able to break through it.

CROWLEY: We await his final thought.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Still ahead, it may have taken awhile, but they got exactly what they wanted. And in turn, also got the "Political Play of the Week." When we return, our Bill Schneider hands out the coveted award.


WOODRUFF: In his "Political Play of the Week," our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, zeroes in on the often rocky relationship between the president and the press.

All right, Bill. You're joining us with your selection.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. You know, in that battle you just referred to between the president and the press corp, the president usually wins. But every now and then, the press gets its way. And when that happens, it just might be the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Bush is not too fond of formal news conferences.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: These grand news conferences of the past are designed for a little more fear than they are for information.

SCHNEIDER: The previous one, on March 6, was stiff and formal and apparently scripted.

BUSH: In a minute. King, John King. It's scripted. SCHNEIDER: Nearly five months later, the Washington press corps was clamoring for access to the president.

What about a news conference, clamored "The Washington Post." what about a news conference, clamored reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is the news conference? The news conference?

SCHNEIDER: By this time in their presidency, the first President Bush had held 61 news conferences. And President Clinton, 33. This president, a mere eight.

So on Wednesday morning, the White House held a news conference at 10:30 in the morning, when everybody's at work. The president showed up on time, as usual, sounding kind of chipper.

There were some Bush moments.

BUSH: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Al -- Ramzi Al Shibh or whatever the guy's name was. Sorry, Ramzi, if I got it wrong.

SCHNEIDER: And an interesting challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?

BUSH: Just watch.

SCHNEIDER: Despite everything, news managed to break out. On the discredited statement in the State of the Union speech concerning Saddam Hussein's effort to acquire uranium?

BUSH: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course.

SCHNEIDER: And one piece the news the president made to a question he wasn't really asked.

BUSH: I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other and we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.

SCHNEIDER: The press corps forces this president to make news. Man bites dog, and it's the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Most viewers have no idea how frustrating it is for the press corps to be embedded in the White House, week after week, with no access to the person they're covering. And that's why they're often reduced to shouting questions and sounding rude.

WOODRUFF: And how much notice did they have, Bill, before this news conference, that it was going to come? SCHNEIDER: Less than two hours to prepare.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider. That's the way it sometimes works at the White House.

SCHNEIDER: Sometimes.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider, have a good weekend.


WOODRUFF: And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.



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