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Schwarzenegger Seeks Federal Monies for Fire-Ravaged California; Interview With Al Sharpton

Aired October 29, 2003 - 16:00   ET


QUESTION: How much will you be asking for today, sir?

ANNOUNCER: Capitol Hill rolls out the red carpet for Arnold Schwarzenegger. But will the governor-elect get what he came for?

GOV.-ELCT ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I don't that think I will get special treatment. I think I will get good treatment.


ANNOUNCER: Who's Al Sharpton standing up to now? We'll ask him about his charge that Howard Dean has an anti-black agenda.

The generation gap revisited. When it comes to young versus old, and left versus right, the battle lines aren't as clearcut as they used to be.

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


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

Whatever officials here in Washington may think about Arnold Schwarzenegger, they appreciate the importance of his state and the value of his star power. The California governor-elect's celebrity status was on vivid display on Capitol Hill today. Our Jonathan Karl has more on the visit and what Schwarzenegger may get out of it.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the governor-elect hit Capitol Hill, a reporter wanted to know what he would be asking Congress for. It's unclear if he'll get much help from his Republican friends when it comes to California's budget crisis, but he sure got the red carpet treatment. Welcomed by Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist, and by California's top Democrat who pledged support even though she vigorously fought against his election, and by the speaker of the house.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I came basically to Washington to establish relationships, and to make sure that we are getting more federal money to California.

KARL: Already Congress has set to approve $500 million to help California with the forest fires, money that will be approved as part of the $87 billion emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.

When it comes to getting more money, Schwarzenegger sought some advice from the Democratic lightning rod, Senator Ted Kennedy, his wife's uncle.

SCHWARZENEGGER: The disaster area that we have in Southern California, more than half a million acres of land has been burning. And 1,500 homes have been destroyed. So of course I asked Senator Kennedy again for advice, how to get more federal funding for those things.

KARL: In fact, in his first visit to Washington as governor- elect, Arnold spent more one-on-one time with Senator Kennedy than anyone else.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I want to say thank you very much to Senator Kennedy, and favorite my uncle-in-law.

KARL: And how does Uncle Ted like the first member of the Kennedy family to run for office as a Republican?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think Governor Schwarzenegger is doing very well.

KARL: While Schwarzenegger won't have much of a problem getting money to deal with the forest fires, getting help with California's budget crisis is a much tougher sell, something that may require a few more lines from his movies.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will be back many times. I didn't want to say the exactly line "I'll be back" but I mean I will be back many more times, believe me.


KARL: Republicans in Washington are also looking for a little help. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman met with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday, as Republicans trying to figure out if they can get some of the governor-elect's support transferred over to President Bush as he tries to become the first presidential candidate to win California since 1988 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wouldn't they like that prize?

KARL: Oh, yes.

WOODRUFF: OK. Jon Karl, thanks very much .

Well even Around Schwarzenegger's powerful presence didn't distract Democrats on the Hill from one of their main missions these day, and that is to point out the problems with the administration's Iraq policy. Today they seized on two developments. The death of two U.S. soldiers north of Baghdad brought the post-war death toll from hostile fire up to 117. That is more than the 114 killed during major combat.

And controversy continued to swirl over the president's apparent effort to distance himself from the "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Lincoln during his now-famous May 1 speech about Iraq.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I'm sure they would love to extricate themselves from this whole affair. It's got to be one of the most significant embarrassments of the entire Iraqi experience so far.

We've lost more lives since he's declared victory than we lost prior to the time he declared victory. And this latest fabrication is yet another illustration of their unwillingness to accept reality.


WOODRUFF: Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent John King. John, a lot for them to deal with at White House.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Quite a bit, Judy. When it comes to the fatality number, the White House says the president has said all along that Iraq remains a dangerous place and that U.S. troops are at risk for as long as they are there, and they will be there for at least a year or more to come.

The White House not getting into specifics of the death toll in the post-war, or the post-major combat, surpassing the deaths actually happening in combat.

The briefing today, quite a number of questions about this banner issue. It is becoming reminiscent in some way over the dispute over those 16 words in the president's State of the Union Address. the debate over the 16 words became a vehicle, if you will, for the larger debate about whether the president had exaggerated the intelligence, had exaggerated the case for going to war.

The debate over the "Mission Accomplished" banner now becoming a vehicle for those who say this president has grossly underestimated the post-war security challenges in Iraq.

Here at the White House, they are insisting that, yes, the White House paid for the banner. Yes, the White House produced the banner. But Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, saying that was done at the request of the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was the Navy, the people on board the ship, who had the idea of this banner and made the suggestion, because they wanted to have a way to commemorate the fact that these sailors and the crew on board the ship had completed their mission after a very lengthy deployment.


KING: Now, the president's critics, of course, simply don't buy that. They say the White House used that "Mission Accomplished" banner to send a much broader message when the president was on the ship today (sic). And the critics say the White House is distancing itself from that banner only because in their view, that message has backfired.

We do get a sense that the White House knew this might be coming, this controversy. Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, participated in a public forum earlier this month. And he brought this up on his own when asked about the White House image making. Dan Bartlett saying that he did not say it was a mistake, but he did say this. "Sometimes pictures have a way of coming back in a way which is very difficult."

Dan Bartlett also saying that it was he who personally approved hanging the banner at request of the crew. But also again saying that the message was meant to mean that those sailors had accomplished their mission. Of course, the president's critics, Judy, hope this debate continues. The White House hoping it goes away.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like it was a day for squirming, at least during the briefing. OK, John, thank you very much.

To another story now. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today defending General William Boykin who has been under fire for remarks many have perceived as anti-Muslim.

While in uniform, Boykin said that Islamic radicals wanted to destroy America because it is a Christian nation. And that the U.S. war on terrorism is a battle with Satan.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: General Boykin has every right to express himself in the situation that he did. The man has strong faith, he expressed that faith, and he has every right to do so in this country.


WOODRUFF: Yesterday President Bush said that General Boykin doesn't reflect his point of view, or the view of his administration.

And now we turn to the race for the White House. In response to this week's news, that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. plans to endorse Howard Dean for president, the Reverend Al Sharpton has questioned Dean's commitment to affirmative action.

Yesterday Dean described himself as, quote, "a vigorous supporter of the program." And he said that affirmative action, quote, "has to be about race."

Sharpton, however, points to a 1995 Dean interview on CNN to bolster his criticism.


GOV. HOWARD DEAN (D), VERMONT: You know, I think we ought to look at affirmative action programs based not on race, but on class, and opportunity to participate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sound like Newt Gingrich.

DEAN: People from working class families who have not had the educational opportunities, regardless about whether they're white or black, ought to be given some kind of opportunity. And that may mean doing something for those groups of people.

But I don't think it ought to be done by race.


WOODRUFF: The Reverend Al Sharpton is with me now from New York to talk more about this, and other issues. Reverend Sharpton, you criticized Governor Dean Yesterday based on that comment, and others. You said his agenda is an anti-black agenda. Very strong comment. You literally meant anti-black?

SHARPTON: What his position was, as you just played it, certainly was anti-black. If he has changed that position, he should say that.

But to say that you are talking straight, he challenged the other candidates saying he was the only white candidate talking race to whites. In fact, he started this by bringing the race issue in by attacking other candidates.

Now we see -- you just played a tape of what he was saying. Anybody can change their position. But say, This has not always been my position, I've not always talked straight, and don't attack others saying that. Because many of the candidates have always had the position that we are talking.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me read you -- now, he has now responded to your comment. He has said, yes, he was talking about it on the basis of class. And I'm going to quote him. He said, "That is about help for people who don't have any money. And I think we should do that. But I also think," he said, "that affirmative action has to be about race." And he said, "I've said that throughout the campaign."

Does that satisfy you?

SHARPTON: Judy, you just played a tape where he said it should not be about race. So he's taking a totally different view. I'm glad...

WOODRUFF: Eight years later.

SHARPTON: Well, fine. But then don't accuse people who eight years ago did not have that view of not talking straight. And don't say that you've been talking race to whites, when people like Mr. Gephardt, Mr. Edwards, and others in this race, have been saying in the Deep South what you were saying the opposite of eight years ago.

I'm not attacking Mr. Dean, I'm responding to his attack on the rest of the candidates. There's some people that have always had that position. I'm glad to see today he's finally joining us. But he has not had that position. As your tape has proven.

WOODRUFF: Well, what about the comments though, by Jesse Jackson Jr., Congressman Jackson, in effect that Howard Dean is the best person to represent the Democratic Party, blacks and whites?

SHARPTON: He has the right to make his endorsements. I'm not running against Congressman Jackson or any other member of Congress. There are members of Congress, Jose Serrano and Ed Towns, that think I'm the best candidate. We're all going to have our supporters.

But I think when a candidate attacks other candidates, and attacks their record, then it is a legitimate thing to come forth and present their record. I not only presented his record, I presented his own words, a tape of his own words.

He has throughout this campaign held other candidates accountable. He has to deal with his own words, and he cannot run around saying, I'm the only candidate talking race to whites when we just saw what he was saying to them just a few years ago in the height of the debate of affirmative action.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you something that Donna Brazile has said, who, of course, was Al Gore's campaign manager. She said, quote, "These long shot candidates," presumably referring to you, "all they're doing is taking aim at the top tier because they're frustrated. I think Reverend Sharpton should keep his focus on ideas."

SHARPTON: And I am. One of the ideas that I'm focused on, and have been focused on for years, is affirmative action. Which is why I'm not talking about Governor Dean's high school yearbook, I'm talking about the issues. That's a very important issue.

No.2, in your poll, I'm tied with John Edwards. CNN-"USA Today" poll. In "Newsweek: poll I'm tied with Gephardt and with Kerry.

So I don't know what long shot she's talking about. I remember when Mr. Dean was at bottom of the polls. He was attacking people that were out-polling him.

I have not done that. I have answered his attack. He surrogates says people are not talking straight. I say, well let's talk to his talk. He has said he's the only one talking race, he brought race in. So I said, fine, let's see what he said about race.

If you can't back up things, you ought not start a discussion that you don't intend to go all the way with. I have just said, fine, you want to bring up a discussion? Let's talk about it.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. Reverend Al Sharpton, it's good to see you.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. We appreciate your talking with us.

We're going to have more on the Democratic race for the White House ahead. Find out why Joe Lieberman's faith is at the center of a political storm in Arizona.

And we will talk about the situation in Iraq with a Congresswoman who was where -- who saw what's happening firsthand.


WOODRUFF: Want to bring you the very latest from California, the scene of those wildfires. We want to go to Simi Valley, just north of Los Angeles, where we find our Brian Cabell.

Brian, this is the so-called Stevenson Ranch area. And it looks pretty smoky.

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were just about two miles away an hour ago. It was bad there. But then the fire moved over the mountain and it's come here. As you can see down the block here, a lot of smoke, a lot of fire engines.

The fire -- let me show you some video of the fire just about 30 minutes ago. That's when it was worst. It was backing up to the homes.

And now let's talk to Roland Sprewell. He's with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, as maybe you'll look at that video.

How bad was it? Did it threaten any of the homes?

ROLAND SPREWELL, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Actually, the homes were somewhat of a threat, although what we had occur in the back was some aggressive fire behavior.

We've got a canyon that's considered a drainage, where all the water would normally run. That produces huge amounts of dry vegetation during the summer. And what you saw there was the fire getting into that canyon, catching all that brush off, and what we had was a good run of the fire in there. Tornadic-like winds, very erratic fire behavior, and that does is throws fire brands and embers all over the place. And so we had to scramble.

Our response, a heavy aerial assault, ground troops, and men and women positioned throughout each one of the backyards of these homes staged and ready to go.

CABELL: Real quickly, what next? Is it moving at all?

SPREWELL: It is moving. And we're continuing to monitor it. We're getting some runs because we've got 10 to 15 mile per hour winds in this area and it's going in various places. Winds very erratic. CABELL: Roland Sprewell, thank you much.

So again, we have a fire that's on the move right now. We have a lot of smoke in the neighborhood. Frankly, it's hurting our eyes, hurting our throats. But Judy, right now under control. They say the neighborhood is safe. That's what they keep telling us. But, frankly, when we look around, we get a little scared at times. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Yes, and I can understand why. It's interesting how much of the language he uses is the language of combat. All right.

CABELL: Militant, correct.

WOODRUFF: That's right. Brian Cabell, thank you very much. And I know we're going to be coming back to you as the afternoon goes on.

We'll be right back with more INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: First, an item just in from Capitol Hill, and that is that House and Senate conferees have now voted to strip the loan provisions from the Iraq funding measure that the conference committee was dealing with. That means the White House pretty much gets what it wants, that all the money going to Iraq, the $87 billion, will be in the form of a grant, and not a loan.

Let's talk a little more about Iraq with Representative Deborah Pryce. She's a Republican from the state of Ohio. She was part of an all-female Congressional delegation that just visited Iraq.

Congresswoman Pryce, what about security in Iraq? Now, I understand your delegation didn't stay overnight in Iraq. You had to fly in and out every day from across the border. That says to me, it doesn't sound secure.

REP. DEBORAH PRYCE (R), OHIO: Well, they tried to keep us as safe as they possibly can, as they should. And one of the safety measures was to make sure that we didn't stay in Baghdad overnight. It isn't a very peaceful place many times at night. And so we went back and forth to Kuwait City.

But the pockets of violence thus to far (ph) have been very localized, and very small, and fairly rare until just the last couple days.

WOODRUFF: What about the number of deaths now of U.S. soldiers? We now have 117 who have died since the major combat ended, 114 during the war itself. The number now surpassing the war number. You've got 33 attacks the average number every day. Is it time for a change of strategy on the part of the U.S.?

PRYCE: Well, I'm not sure how we would change our strategy, Judy. The men and women that we talked to, the servicemen and women, to the last one, felt that we were on the right track. They felt proud of the job that they were doing. They felt that the mission was a good one, a positive one. And they're very brave and committed to this.

WOODRUFF: I want to read you something that Senator John McCain said. He said "To set up the road blocks after the bomb goes off is not the answer." He said, "We need more troops." He said, " We need more special forces. We need more Marines. We need more intelligence capabilities."

What do you say to that?

PRYCE: Well, I agree with about 50 percent of that. More troops is not going to stop suicide bombers. There's just no way that more troops on the ground over there is going to stop some crazy person from blowing themselves up.

More intelligence, yes. And perhaps more special forces.

What we need to do is, is win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, first and foremost. Get that country up and on its feet so that we can turn over the military, the police force, the border guards to the Iraqi people themselves. Then we can come home. The sooner we do that, the better.

WOODRUFF: Is that happening fast enough?

PRYCE: Well, it's not happening as fast as anyone would like it. But it is -- it's a monumental undertaking. This is a country that's been devastated for the last -- over a decade by a brutal regime. And there are still pockets of his sympathizers out there.

But the Iraqi people gave us the thumbs up everywhere we went. Every person that we talked to -- and we talked to mostly women, Judy. We kind of had that as a sideline to our trip, to understand how the war has affected them and their families and how they can be involved in their new government, and to encourage them to do that. They were all very, very happy that the American forces, for the most part, have liberated their country.

WOODRUFF: Representative Deborah Pryce, who just headed an all- female Congressional delegation visiting Iraq. Congresswoman Pryce, thank you much.

PRYCE: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. We appreciate

Why is this man making the rest of his fellow Senate Democrats nervous? Coming up, Bob Graham mulls retirement. We'll hear what he has to say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily." Senator John Kerry severed all ties with an Arizona state lawmaker who reportedly used Joe Lieberman's religion to try to persuade others to join the Kerry campaign.

"The Arizona Republic" reports that state legislator Ben Miranda, along with Kerry's state campaign chairman, told others that Lieberman would not be able to campaign in the state often enough because he observes the Jewish sabbath.

A Kerry spokesman today released this statement which said, "No campaign staff were involved in the incident. We have expressed our deepest regrets to Senator Lieberman, a friend of Senator Kerry's for many years. Senator Kerry deplores and will not tolerate injection of religion in this race whatsoever," end quote.

A top Senate aide telling CNN that form presidential hopeful Bob Graham is leaning against running for reelection to the Senate. Earlier on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," Graham says he will announce his plans soon.


SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: It won't be long. I'm talking with family and friends and others. It's a tough decision. I have loved my service in the Senate. It's very gratifying to be able to serve the people of your state, and the nation.

But life goes on. And I've got to decide what would be best for me and my family, and the causes that I care about in the next stage of my career.


WOODRUFF: Sounds like he's thinking seriously about not running.

Well, question, are younger voters more liberal than their elders? Some new poll numbers may rock your perceptions. INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: As we look ahead at CNN's special town meeting with voters next Tuesday, we have new poll numbers on how young people view politics. We asked our Bill Schneider to sort through the findings.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Are young people more liberal or more conservative than their elders? The answer is, yes, it's, like, you know, like complicated.

Take President Bush. American adults under 30 give the president a 62 percent job approval rating, almost 10 points higher than people 30 and over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's doing a good job. But I think he has some P.R. struggles that he needs to work with, or solve.

SCHNEIDER: But then, young people also like Bill Clinton. Again, more than older Americans. Clinton was a cool dude.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Clinton? Bring him back.

SCHNEIDER: Young people are definitely more open and tolerant. Take the issue of gay marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no problem with that.

SCHNEIDER: Americans under 30 say, OK. Older people say, No way.

On Social Security, conservatives are the ones calling for change. And young people are ready to follow them. They overwhelmingly endorse the idea of allowing Social Security funds to be invested in personal retirement accounts. Older Americans are less enthusiastic.

Iraq was a risky policy, too. But the idealistic impression was a pro war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's important to give Iraq the democracy that they need and the freedom that they need.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it's true. More adults under 30 than over believe Iraq was worth going to war over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that we got rid of a terrible dictator.

SCHNEIDER: Young people are, and probably always have been, more optimistic, less cynical. They're more likely to believe the economy is getting better -- slowly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's getting a little better, but very, very slowly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting better really, really slowly.

SCHNEIDER: And the young are much more likely to say they trust the government in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hopeful dreamers, and we want to trust our government.

SCHNEIDER: Ah, sweet innocence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe one way to look at it is they haven't had their cynicism yet.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe innocence is bliss. Because it's true now, just as it's been true for years, that most young people just don't bother to vote.


SCHNEIDER: Young people are more open to change, and willing to take risks. That makes them more liberal on some issues and more conservative on others.



WOODRUFF: But we want an answer. One way or another.

SCHNEIDER: Whatever.


WOODRUFF: Like this. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

And don't forget young voters will get a chance to question some of the Democratic presidential candidates next week when CNN brings you "AMERICA ROCKS THE VOTE: A Live Townhall Meeting in Boston." That is Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 Pacific right here on CNN.

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


California; Interview With Al Sharpton>

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