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Interview With Peter Ueberroth; Are Women's Issues Being Addressed by White House Candidates?

Aired August 27, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Take cover. With the U.S. death toll still rising in Iraq, are President Bush's poll numbers moving in the opposite direction?

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: I'm running for governor to lead a movement for change.

ANNOUNCER: Arnold on the airwaves. The costly ads and the free publicity. We'll spot check Schwarzenegger's latest moves and ask Republican rival Peter Ueberroth if he's being overpowered.

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Together, we are going to take the "Men Only" sign off the White House door. Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: But only one woman's running for president. Are women and their big issues being embraced or ignored in the race to 2004?

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. A day after President Bush tried again to reassure Americans about the U.S. mission in Iraq, our new poll out this hour suggests that the public may need more convincing.

First, the big picture. Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating now stands at 59 percent. And 57 percent of those surveyed say they approve of his handling of the situation in Iraq. Those numbers have not changed much in recent weeks, but they are down from war-time highs above 70 percent back in April.

Read deeper into the survey and more evidence of anxiety. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is with us from London. Bill, first of all, are Americans getting worried about Iraq?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, yes. Last month 56 percent of Americans thought things were going well for the U.S. in Iraq. Now in the aftermath of the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, that number has dropped to 50 percent. Right now the public is split over whether things are going well or badly in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: You mean the people have turned against this war or the war aftermath?

SCHNEIDER: No. Last month 63 percent of Americans said Iraq was worth going to war over. That figure has not changed at all. It's still 63 percent.

Now some members are of Congress are arguing that the U.S. needs to increase its troop commandment in order to stabilize Iraq. That does not sell at all to the American people. Only 15 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should send more troops to Iraq, 36 percent favor keeping the U.S. troop commitment just as it is, 32 percent want to withdraw some U.S. troops and 14 percent want to get all the troops out.

Notice there's not much support for either extreme option, sending more troops or withdrawing. The prevailing view here is, stay the course.

WOODRUFF: Now, Bill, what about when you try to determine whether the public has confidence that President Bush knows what he's doing in Iraq?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the answer is actually surprisingly, no. Fifty-four percent say President Bush does not have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq. In fact, exactly the same numbers say President Bush does not have a clear plan for handling the nation's economy.

Uh-oh. Does this mean the president is in trouble for re- election? Not yet. Last month when we asked registered voters if they were more likely to vote for President Bush or the Democrat in 2004, Bush led by 9 points. Now Bush has increased his lead to 12 point.

Now this could mean two things. One, people have no idea what alternatives the Democrats have to offer. Two, it is a vote of confidence in President Bush's leadership.

What the voters may be saying is, We're not sure where you're going, but we're willing to follow you there -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK, I think we follow that. All right Bill Schneider with us from London where he follows the American polls. Thanks, Bill.

Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily". Retired Army General Wesley Clark is dropping still more hints about when he will announce his decision about a run for the White House. Clark tells "The Des Moines Register" he will announce a decision before he appears at the University of Iowa for a speech on September 19.

Out in California Arnold Schwarzenegger has made another appearance on talk radio. Schwarzenegger defended his decision to accept campaign donations after signaling he was willing to finance his own campaign.

Meantime, Democratic lieutenant governor an recall candidate Cruz Bustamante is making creative use of 2002 re-election committee. "The L.A. Times" reports that Bustamante is using his 2002 committee to raise money for his current recall effort because the old account is not subject to new campaign finance limits. A spokesman says that Bustamante is obeying the law.

Also in the recall campaign today, 20 Republican members of the California state assembly threw their support behind Arnold Schwarzenegger. GOP leaders say they are increasingly urging the party to unite behind Schwarzenegger. But some of his rivals aren't going along. Republican Peter Ueberroth is running for governor as an independent. The former baseball commissioner and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics is with us now from Los Angeles -- from San Diego, I should say.

Peter Ueberroth, you might say Arnold Schwarzenegger is the 8,000 -- 10,000 pound gorilla. Are you feeling like the also-ran in this campaign?

PETER UEBERROTH (I), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: We're just getting started. And I don't call anybody any names, gorilla or anything else.


UEBERROTH: What's going to happen here in California is the public understands there's serious problems. Thanks to you, thanks to the media, there's been lots of things said, but pretty soon people will start to get serious and they're going to look for a leader, somebody that can change things in California and focus on three years of hard work.

And then the polls will start to show that Pete Ueberroth is making a run for this campaign and for this governorship.

WOODRUFF: Now, you say pretty soon, but this election is only about five weeks away. And right now you're very aware the Republican mantra is, We need one Republican in this race or we don't really have a hope of getting rid of Gray Davis.

UEBERROTH: You know, it's really about -- first of all, I think that a lot of Democrats will vote for me. I've shown that can bring Democrats and Republicans together and get jobs done. I've got a history, I've got credentials that make sense to the California voter.

And it is only six weeks, but that's because of what the media doing that's going to be very, very intense with the public. And the voters in California are not dummies. They've all got friends who lost jobs, they understand what's happening to the economy and they're going to look for leadership.

And after the din wears off and people get serious about this campaign, as I think you will, and I think as you'll follow it, it's going to be history in the making. I think that I'll be there. WOODRUFF: Well I hope we're serious about it now. But I guess my question is isn't the math here really inescapable? If Republicans are divided, doesn't that mean either that Davis is going to beat the recall or that the winner on the replacement ballot's going to be Cruz Bustamante the Democrat?

UEBERROTH: No, the -- that's fun to deal with the math because take a look at the independent voters. Where are they going to go? Are they going to vote for the recall or against the recall?

How about Democrats? Democrats might vote for me. They'll be very serious people that want change. It's a mandate for change. And they'll vote against -- excuse me, they'll vote for the recall and vote for Pete Ueberroth.

So, no matter what candidate you might want to focus on today, all of them are doing the math. Nobody's asking me to get out of this race. And the voters are going to make the decision. And it's -- there's a lot of Republican voters, a lot of Democrats and a whole lot of growing independents.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about one issue and that is taxes. Die-hard Republicans want a governor who is not going to raise taxes. Are you prepared to make that pledge?

UEBERROTH: Taxes don't work. Taxes do not work in this state. If -- anyone who lives here can tell you that we've been taxed to the top, to the limit. And frankly if taxes were raised in any way, shape or form for the little bit of money that would go to the budget, increased revenues from taxes, more jobs would leave the state and take those payrolls out of the state. And so new taxes frankly won't work.

You can't tax your way out of a mess. And jobs are what this is all about. We've got to get jobs in California, and I'm the leader that can get that done.

WOODRUFF: And you're saying nobody is asking you to get out of the race.

UEBERROTH: That's right.

WOODRUFF: I'm asking just because some of your staff was quoted saying you had been getting that message. But we'll take it from you...


UEBERROTH: You know, technically there was one Congressman about a week ago that said that he thought it might be a good idea. But nobody's talking to me about that. And frankly on their side, I wouldn't be doing that.

WOODRUFF: All right, Peter Ueberroth, good to talk to you. Thank you for being with us today.

UEBERROTH: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Peter Ueberroth.

And coming up on INSIDE POLITICS, the recall candidates battle it out on the airwaves. How fierce is the ad war? Who has the advantage?

Plus, abortion rights supporters are among those trying to rally women voters in the lead up to election 2004. But what other issues do women care most about? And are candidates addressing them?

And later...


ALEX MUNOZ, REPUBLICAN FOR DEAN: ... yes, Howard Dean falls on the liberal side of the spectrum. But Howard Dean, like a lot of individuals, deifies labels.


WOODRUFF: In many ways dean supporters defy labels, too. We'll look at the voters behind the phenomenon, from "Dean-heads" to Dean teens.


WOODRUFF: Bad news for the GOP. Two prominent Republicans have decided against challenging Democratic senators next year. Arkansas' governor, Mike Huckabee, announced today that he will not run against freshman Democrat Blanche Lincoln.

And in North Dakota, former college basketball coach Dale Brown has decided not to enter the race against Democratic incumbent Senator Byron Dorgan.


WOODRUFF: The Democratic presidential hopefuls have been on the trail for months, but some are planning to relaunch their campaigns in search of a post-Labor Day bounce, you might say.

The latest is former senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. At a news conference to accept the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus, Braun said that her big kick off will be September 22.

And joining me now to talk more about the Braun candidacy and women in politics are Kim Gandy, the president of NOW and Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America.

Kim Gandy, why endorse Carol Moseley Braun? Here she is trying very hard, but she's in the bottom of the polls and you've got other men on the Democratic roster who hold the same positions that she does. KIM GANDY, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: Well, the last I saw she was tied for fifth in the polls and Carol Moseley Braun has been underestimated before. When she ran against Alan Dixon, an incumbent Democratic U.S. senator, everybody said she was crazy, she had no chance to win and, in fact, she unseated an incumbent Democratic senator to become a U.S. senator and the first African-American woman in the Senate. So, first, don't underestimate Carol Moseley Braun.

Second, the gender gap will be a major factor in the 2004 election. And if we don't activate women who didn't vote in 2000...


GANDY: ...then the Democrats are going to lose this election.

WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about that...

GANDY: And we think she can do that.

WOODRUFF a minute.

But first of all, Wendy Wright, what about the NOW endorsement? Is that going to help?

WENDY WRIGHT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: No, in fact, I think Carol Moseley Braun's candidacy is irrelevant and I think that this is going to end up hurting NOW's credibility and reputation.

Carol Moseley Braun's -- senator -- Senate -- her time in the Senate was plagued with scandal after scandal. Medicaid fraud, money scandals, secret visits to an African dictator and her voting record is pretty shameful as well. She voted against increases in terror -- anti-terrorism funding, defense funding, intelligence funding.


WRIGHT: And she also voted to hike taxes on Social Security.

WOODRUFF: All right. There's a lot there. We're not going to have time to get to all that.

GANDY: Well, and most of it's not true.

WOODRUFF: Well, I want to move on now and I feel badly about leaving that sitting out there.

GANDY: Me too.

WOODRUFF: But I hope that we can -- I hope that we can address it.

What I do want to ask you both, though, about are -- this notion you raised about the gender gap. Because we now know that the way women voted in the 2002 Congressional elections -- well, they voted identically with men. There was no gender gap. In fact, we've have some numbers we can show that in the race for the House seats you had 49 percent of women voting -- or rather, voting for Democrats and 49 percent voting Republican. You don't really have a gender gap. How do -- how do you....

GANDY: Right now there's...

WOODRUFF: ..NOW and Democratic women get around that?

GANDY: Actually, there's a substantial gender gap that is showing up in the polls now. George W. Bush has a much lower approval rating from women than he has compared to men. He is about even with men compared to an unnamed Democratic contender, but far ahead with men. There is a very significant gender gap and we believe that Carol Moseley Braun will help to identify and activate and get involved in the political process those women who feel disenfranchised and disconnected. And that's going to help whoever the Democratic nominee is...

WOODRUFF: Wendy Wright...

GANDY: ...even if it's not Carol.

WOODRUFF: Do you see that same gap redeveloping here?

WRIGHT: You know, what women care about is the content of a person's character and that is going to play in very seriously in this. Just because Carol Moseley Braun is a women doesn't mean that women are going to vote for her. What women care about now is security issues, not only national security, but domestic security. They care about various issues and they're going to look for the candidate that supports those views. Carol Moseley Braun's record is shameful.

GANDY: Carol Moseley Braun's record is fantastic on all the issues that women care about and when she ran for the Senate in 1996, there was a smear campaign run against her by Karl Rove, who was little known outside of Texas at that time and clearly the Republican establishment is very worried about Carol Moseley Braun that they would go to this extent to smear her character, when, in fact, after all that came out she was confirmed by the Senate as an ambassador to New Zealand.

WOODRUFF: Very quick final word.

GANDY: And she was cleared of all of those.

WRIGHT: And the people of New Zealand actually called that appointment an insult.

Now let's look at her record.


WRIGHT: Two issues regarding abortion. Her votes are that she wanted to federally fund abortion and she voted against a ban against on partial birth abortion.

GANDY: Yes, and we're very proud of both of those.

WRIGHT: Even people who are on the middle on abortion don't agree with those votes. And particularly women don't agree with those votes.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Obviously, much to talk about. But this is an election that's over a year away. We'll keep talking about it until then. Kim Gandy and Wendy Wright, thank you both. We appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, the race is on and the California airwaves are filling fast. Which candidates are already running TV ads and what can we expect to see in the days and weeks ahead?


WOODRUFF: Back to INSIDE POLITICS in a moment, but right now we're following a tragic story in Chicago this morning.

A gunman, a man carrying a gun went into a warehouse where he was working. He was about to be fired, according to officials there. Went into an auto parts supply warehouse, killed -- shot and killed six people before he, himself, died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

The police in Chicago are about to hold a news conference and we'll be taking that news conference just as soon as it gets under way.

Well meantime, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean may be making another leap forward. A new poll suggests that Dean now has an eye-popping 21-point lead over rival John Kerry in New Hampshire. Pollsters and pundits will be watching to see if those numbers are mirrored in other surveys in the coming days.

Meantime, Dean is reveling in the success of his big summer campaign tour. CNN's Maria Hinojosa weeded through a New York crowd to talk to Dean supporters.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There isn't a typical grass roots organization for the Howard Dean campaign. Instead, these are the Internet crowds that have now sprung to life. Four thousand in Falls Church, Virginia, 10,000 in Seattle, the campaign says. And about as many in New York City, including 23-year- old Alex Munoz, a first generation American-Chilean just graduated from Columbia University and, get this, not a Democrat.

MUNOZ: I am a registered Republican an U.S. Army recruit. I leave for basic training in September, on September 23.

HINOJOSA (on camera): And you're supporting a liberal Democratic anti-war candidate?

MUNOZ: I would say that yes, Howard Dean falls on the liberal side of the spectrum. But Howard Dean, like a lot of individuals, deifies labels.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Like the tie-dyed Dean-heads selling buttons, the older folks sitting on the grass, the hipsters blogging away on laptops posting real-time reports on various Web sites. And the oh-so-young, these teens aren't old enough to vote yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has great "Deanness."

HINOJOSA (on camera): Deanness?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deanness, the aura of Dean.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): An aura that brought 21-year-old Trina Dasgupta out of her job at MTV to volunteer for the first time.

TRINA DASGUPTA, DEAN SUPPORTER: He's different. It's not the same agenda and not the same story and it's not so center that you're not hearing anything different.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Claire Knight grew up in Vermont always feeling different. The daughter of a lesbian couple she's the first time activist.

CLAIRE KNIGHT, DEAN SUPPORTER: When you're the daughter of a lesbian or a gay person you have no control over that. Howard Dean had control, he chose to do the right thing, to take a stand for equality for all people.

HINOJOSA: His campaign says the average contributions are in the $80 range. His meet ups, rallies organized through contacts on the Internet, are nine times that of his closest competitor. That's according to His campaign claims 300,000 grass roots volunteers. And in exchange these young political neophytes get to introduce the big guy...

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States -- Howard Dean!

HINOJOSA: ... who looks, well, like a politician. Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: The Deanness. That's a new word.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: We're following that tragic story in Chicago this morning. A man who worked add an auto supply warehouse walked in and killed six people there before he was shot in an exchange of gunfire with police.

We are waiting right now for the news conference with Chicago Police. The acting supervisor of Chicago Police and while we wait, let's bring in our own Jeff Flock who's in Chicago.

Jeff, this is another one of those tragic situations. This man was about to be fired, apparently, according to people who worked with him.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, according to the police, this man indeed was either a former employee or about to be a former employee. You just had his picture there a moment ago, as we wait for the press conference, we have tracked down his name. His name is Salvador Tapia. That's T-A-P-I-A. He is -- or was 36 years of age and apparently employed at the salvage company, auto parts, salvage and sales business on the southwest side of Chicago.

As you report, he -- although at this point we don't know whether he took his own life or whether he was killed by authorities as they attempted to take him into custody. But, as you point out, another tragic workplace shooting -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Now, Jeff, Chicago Police apparently moved in very quickly because there was -- there were police on the scene shortly after he shot the people who ended up dead.

FLOCK: Well, we're not 100 percent sure on the chronology. But the best way we can reconstruct it is this: Chicago Police, according to their spokesman Pat Camden, at about 8:45 local time, 9:45 Eastern, got a call about shots fired at that location. They came to the location and began a gun battle with Mr. Tapia.

At that point he retreated inside the auto parts warehouse, barricaded himself in. Chicago Police attempted to negotiate with him via the phone, but as the spokesman put it, he would have none of it. There was no negotiating. They went in then and got him.

Now it's unclear whether he killed all of the victims prior to that initial gun battle with police or whether they took -- some of that took place after when he retreated back into the building. At this point we don't know about that and of course that's going to raise the issue of how the police responded to this. But, yes, I expect we'll get those answers at the press conference shortly.

WOODRUFF: The firm, the company is called the Windy City Core Supply Auto Parts Facility. What part of Chicago is this?

FLOCK: This is not too far from what they used to call Comiskey Park. It is now U.S. Cellular Field. But if you drive three blocks from there, you can see the giant hulk of Comiskey Park. So it's what they call the Bridgeport neighborhood, the home to many Chicago Mayors, including the original Mayor Daily and until not too long ago current Mayor Daily. He's moved a little closer to downtown now.

An industrial area, it's for years been industrial area. It's part of the Bridgeport neighborhood they call Canaryville. And then there are a lot of heavy industry around there.

And in fact what happened was when this all went down is there are a lot of semi-trucks that go past on what is called Pershing Road where you're seeing right now. That's the scene of it and there's a very busy street, 39th Street which they call Pershing Road. Lot of big semis on there.

Everything stopped dead. The trucks of course couldn't turn around, so there was a mile-long traffic jam extending all the way back almost to the lake front on 39th street. So it caused quite a mess. But in a heavily-industrial area -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Jeff Flock with us on the phone. Again, that story in Chicago this morning six people shot to death and the gunman himself killed in an exchange with police.

We are waiting for that news conference with Chicago Police. We'll take you to that as soon as it gets under way.

Meantime, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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