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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Ueberroth Leaves Gubernatorial Race; Wolfowitz Faces Hard Questioning From Senate Committee

Aired September 9, 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: Feeling Arnold's muscle? Republican Peter Ueberroth is dropping out of the recall race. Judy will ask Tom McClintock if he's any closer to doing the same.

Recall catcalls. After Mrs. Schwarzenegger faced an angry crowd, is there a troubling message for her husband between the lines of the latest poll?

Thinking green and seeing red. Senate Democrats grimace at the president's price tag for the mission in Iraq.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), RANKING MEMBER ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: This huge sum is a bitter pill for the American people to swallow.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The costs are large, but it is a battle that we can win, and it is a battle that we must win.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

After weeks of insisting he was in the California recall race to stay, Republican Peter Ueberroth is set to make his exit this hour. CNN's Kelly Wallace is in Costa Mesa, California where the former baseball commissioner is expected to speak shortly -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we're expecting Peter Ueberroth to approach this podium just about a minute from now and tell us all exactly why he is choosing to step out of the race now.

Republican sources say he will go ahead and announce he is leaving the race and also that he will approach all the major candidates and talk to them about their plans for creating jobs in California before making any other endorsement.

I believe Mr. Ueberroth is now in. Let's listen to what he has to say.

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF LIVE EVENT) WOODRUFF: Peter Ueberroth saying he's a practical businessman, saying he's looked at the numbers and he doesn't see how he can get across the goal line as he puts it, saying he's going to drop out of the race and move on to continue to push for jobs.

Still with us from that news conference in California, CNN's Kelly Wallace.

Kelly, are you at a place where you can talk to us? OK.

WALLACE: Judy, I'm here if you can hear me.

WOODRUFF: Yes, it sounds as if he's saying he's going to continue to push jobs, but as he said the numbers are not there to make it.

WALLACE: Exactly. And Judy, I'm talking softly because I'm right in the room where Peter Ueberroth is continuing to address reporters. He clearly said that he thought they were improving in the numbers. But that, again, he did not feel that they could win and as you said, he said he's a businessman. And if he feels he can't win, he needs to get out of the race.

We asked him if he has faced any pressure from Republicans circles to get out of the race and avoid splitting the vote. He said honestly no. He said there was one call coming from Republican Congressman David Drier, who is an adviser to the other Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. But he said beyond that, he said no pressure. He said this is his own decision. And now he said he's going to be talking to candidates, talking about their job creation plans before he makes a decision about an endorsement -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Kelly Wallace at the news conference that's underway with Peter Ueberroth saying he is out of the race.

So with Ueberroth out, let's check the state of the recall race. In Los Angeles, our Bill Schneider has been looking over all the poll numbers.

And Bill, what are you seeing with Ueberroth out?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, take a lock at this. The latest poll shows Arnold Schwarzenegger five points behind and Peter Ueberroth getting 5 percent of the vote.

So will Ueberroth's decision to drop out deliver California to Schwarzenegger? Not necessarily. Because Schwarzenegger has bigger problems.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Why is this man happy?

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm excited about the Field Poll. It shows we're making strides.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it shows he's some making progress.

In last month's Field Poll, 58% percent of likely California voters were ready to fire Gray Davis. Now, 55 percent want the governor out. Not a significant shift.

The best news is that Davis' strategy may be working. His strategy? Don't vote for me. Vote against the recall. Last month, 49 percent of the voters said Davis should fight the recall rather than resign. Now, 59 percent want the governor to stand and fight. And that is a significant shift.

The battle to replace Davis is getting tight. Democrat Cruz Bustamante gets 30 percent of the vote. But Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is right behind him with 25.

Schwarzenegger's problem is another Republican, Tom McClintock, who's getting 13 percent. McClintock gained the most from last week's debate, the one Schwarzenegger didn't even show up for. If the Terminator could somehow terminate McClintock, he'd be in much better shape.

If McClintock were to drop out, the poll shows, Schwarzenegger would move slightly ahead. Schwarzenegger has a dilemma: to get McClintock voters, he'll have to take a more conservative line. But if Schwarzenegger moves to the right, he could make his biggest problem worse.

That problem is women. Among men, Schwarzenegger has a slight edge over Bustamante. But he's losing women voters big time. His past behavior with women has become an issue. An issue his wife, Maria Shriver, is trying to deal with by speaking out for him.

Bustamante is having some success rallying Democrats by depicting Schwarzenegger as an out-of-touch movie star.

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D), CALIFORNIA: He doesn't live in our world. He lives on Planet Hollywood.

SCHNEIDER: Nearly 60 percent of Democrats are lining up with the lieutenant-governor. Just 12 percent of Democrats are undecided.

Schwarzenegger's campaign is far less partisan.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: If you want to change the state, then join me.

SCHNEIDER: He's getting less than half of the GOP vote. But with 22 percent of Republicans undecided, there's room for Schwarzenegger to pump himself up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Ueberroth is a Republican but he was campaigning as an independent. His 5 percent will probably get split up and not make a decisive difference. But McClintock's 13 percent could make a decisive difference, just as women voters already do -- Judy. WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, looking at all the numbers.

And in light of those latest numbers and Peter Ueberroth's decision to call it quits, Republicans likely to step up their calls for Tom McClintock to also drop out and give Arnold Schwarzenegger a clearer shot at winning.

Well, State Senator Tom McClintock is with us now from Sacramento.

Senator McClintock, first it was Bill Simon. Today, it's Peter Ueberroth. Are you next to drop out?

TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: Oh, no I'm in this race right to the finish line, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, you say that and yet Peter Ueberroth was saying right up until the moment he got out he was saying he's in the race till the end. How do you know for sure what you're going to do?

MCCLINTOCK: Judy, what is it about the word no that you guys don't understand?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCLINTOCK: If you can come up with a more unequivocal line for me, I'll be happy to use it. I'm in the race to the finish line.

WOODRUFF: That's a Shermanesque statement.

MCCLINTOCK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right. I was asked -- that meant to be with a question mark.

But let me ask you to look at the poll that we just looked at. With you in the race, Arnold Schwarzenegger is running a little behind Cruz Bustamante. When you take your name out of the race, Arnold Schwarzenegger pulls ahead. So in effect, you are in a position of denying a Republican the statehouse?

MCCLINTOCK: Oh, on the contrary, Judy. The election is not today. The election is fully a month from now.

We're only halfway through this race. And in that period of time, I have shown the most dramatic momentum. If the momentum we've had during the first half of this race continues into the second half, I'll be in the winner's circle election night. That's why we call it a race.

I'm very saddened to see Peter Ueberroth's departure from the campaign. He was an exceptionally well qualified and serious candidate. Peter Ueberroth's supporters are all very serious voters who were supporting a serious candidate. It's my hope that they will migrate to my campaign. Those are folks who are looking for somebody who is well grounded in public policy. And who has very precise and -- and clear ideas of how to restore California's economy.

WOODRUFF: But what do you say to those Republicans in your state who say we like Tom McClintock. He's a nice guy. But Arnold Schwarzenegger is our ticket to the governorship.

MCCLINTOCK: Well, again, the race is only half run. And in that half, we've been gaining ground very, very dramatically. Just stay tuned for the second half of the race. And then the voters will make a decision.

WOODRUFF: Have any Republicans asked you to get out?

MCCLINTOCK: I keep reading that the pressure is growing in the newspapers. And if pressure is growing, that means I must be gaining.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: We just heard Peter Ueberroth say that he's going to talk to you and the other candidates about jobs. What are you going to say to him in a nutshell that you want to do to keep jobs in California?

MCCLINTOCK: Well, what I've been saying since the beginning of this race that within moments of taking the oath of office, I'll rescind the governor's tripling of the car tax, I'll act to void the $42 billion of outrageously overpriced electricity contracts that Davis locked us into, and then I'll call a special session of the legislature to replace our worker's compensation law with Arizona's and bring our workers' compensation costs down by two-thirds. That can all be done before lunch of the first day of this new administration and it will be.

WOODRUFF: You make it sound very simple. Is it that simple?

MCCLINTOCK: Yes. This is all a question of public policy.

What has happened to California is not because of some act of God that struck our state down. It is entirely because of very stupid acts of government. And that's what we have the opportunity to change 28 days from now.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you quickly about Latino voters. As you know they make up a large part of California's population. Many of them are in favor of this bill that was signed very recently by Governor Davis that allows illegal immigrants to have a driver's license.

You have said that you would veto -- you would get rid of that legislation. Aren't you worried about the support of Latinos, though?

MCCLINTOCK: No, look, Latino voters pay the same tripled car tax, they pay the same electricity prices. They're losing jobs just as every other Californian is to spiralling workers' compensation costs. These -- this is -- there are not issues that divide us. These are issues that unite us as Californians. Yes, I am opposed to SB-60 which would provide a California driver's license for illegal immigrants. I think that that destroys the validity of the driver's license as proof of legal residency for the millions of Californians who currently hold one. But the issues -- the overriding issues in this campaign for every Californian, all come down to this. What is our future in California going to be like if we continue another three years down this road with the policies of this regime?

WOODRUFF: Tom McClintock joining us from Sacramento with a Shermanesque statement. He's not getting no matter what.

Good to see you. Thanks very much for talking with us.

MCCLINTOCK: Thanks for having me.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Still ahead, some of the president's top guns under fire on Capitol Hill. How hard are they being hammered for their Iraq policy and its multibillion dollar price tag? We'll go live to Capitol Hill.

And to the White House -- how much will the Iraq mission and the swelling federal deficit cost the president politically?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In the political wrangling over Iraq, it looks like the numbers seem to keep adding up to trouble for the Bush administration.

Consider these figures. Pentagon officials say that about 20,000 reserve troops may have to stay in Iraq a few extra months. Three new attacks today on U.S. troops in Iraq left seven soldiers wounded. The White House acknowledges that its new budget request for Iraq will balloon the federal deficit to a record $525 billion or more next year.

Let's bring in now our Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl and our senior White House correspondent, John King.

Jon Karl, to you first. We know that Paul Wolfowitz, the state of the Pentagon was at the -- on the Hill today. Also General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. What sort of reaction are they getting when they ask for this $87 billion?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this first hearing showed that all the president will almost get the billions he wants for Iraq, he is first going to take a beating from Congress.

At today's hearings, some of the most pointed questions came from Republican John McCain, who thinks the Pentagon needs more American troops on the ground in Iraq because other nations can't be counted on contributing troops any time soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JON MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Do you have any idea when as to when we could expect the first international troops to arrive in Iraq?

WOLFOWITZ: No, sir.

MCCAIN: You have no idea?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, sir, I...

MCCAIN: Thank you.

WOLFOWITZ: Sir, I only have no idea because as -- it would depend on the Security Council resolution and I can only say, to you, sir...

MCCAIN: So we cannot count on an immediate infusion of international forces into Iraq?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Ted Kennedy demanded to know why the troops already there in Iraq aren't being better protected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You and other officials in the administration responsible for this war were warned. Yet you put tens of thousands of American troops in harm's way without adequate planning. I'm going to be interested in how that could have happened. And who's accountable?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Faced with the barrage of criticism, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the president's Iraq policy, repeatedly tried to emphasize the positive, what's been done right on the ground in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFOWITZ: Confidence is part of winning. We need to project confidence. and we have every reason to project confidence because we've done a fantastic job. We've liberated a country from a horrible dictator. We're cleaning up the remnants of that regime. We have the people with us. We'll get the electricity fixed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And Judy, this is the first of many hearings up here. This vote -- final vote on this -- is probably not going to happen until the first week in October. So there will be more continued criticism and pointed questions directed at the administration about their handling of Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Striking comments. All right. Jon Karl at the Capitol. Now we quickly move to the White House, to CNN's John King.

John, we know the president is out there talking about education today. But with the price tag for Iraq growing, what effect is -- could that have on the president's domestic priorities?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, on his priorities none, Judy. On spending on those priorities, that is another issue.

Now the White House, says as Mr. Bush campaigns today for his education priorities, that that money is already in the pipeline. The president mentioning his call for prescription drug benefit today. That is already factored into a budget the White House sent up that had a then record $475 billion deficit next year. Now the White House says the deficit will be in excess of $525 billion.

Here is one effect we have seen already. This was a president who planned on proposing tax cuts every year of his first term. They have now ruled that out for the final year, the re-election year, as Mr. Bush heads into re-election, one of the reasons is of course they know they would be subject to criticism that this president, who came into office with a $250 billion surplus, now has a $500 billion-plus deficit.

So no new tax cut from the president next year, and as campaign and White House aides look for some signature initiatives, new initiatives for next year's State of the Union they are being told there is not much money to spend. So in terms of things already put forward, the White House says you can pay for those, but it is affecting any White House Thinking about new initiatives next year, especially in the president's decision to rule out new tax cuts. They know full well, Judy, they will be campaigning in a year in which the Democrats, and whoever the Democratic nominee is, says how did we get to a 525 or a $550 billion deficit? This president is hoping the American people accept this answer -- that the tax cuts were necessary to spur the economy. And that the war on terrorism is a price worth paying, even if that price means huge record deficit spending -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Somebody might say it's gut check time at the White House and elsewhere. All right, John King reporting from the White House.

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)

WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF BREAKING NEWS)

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Questioning From Senate Committee>


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