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Big Political Stars Try to Influence Election Day Vote; Is it Getting Ugly in Iowa?

Aired October 31, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Election 2003 countdown. The Republicans and Democrats' biggest stars are trying to influence Tuesday's vote with a likely eye toward '04.

Is it getting ugly in Iowa? The Dean versus Gephardt contest grows tighter and more tense.

Haunted on Halloween. Beware skeletons in the closet, especially if you're running for president.

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


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

Well, we are heading into the final weekend before another election day. Tuesday's vote may barely register a blip on many American's radar screens, but the nation's top politicians will be watching several contests very closely, hoping to bolster their party's prospects before the big '04 election.

Bill Clinton stumped today for Philadelphia's mayor, John Street. The former president says Street needs a high Democratic turnout in order to beat Republican challenger Sam Katz on Tuesday. Former Vice President Al Gore will campaign for Street on Sunday.

And President Bush is preparing to rally Republicans behind two gubernatorial candidates. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is with the president in Crawford, Texas. Suzanne, what does the president have on his political calendar?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, it's going to be a very busy political calendar. He's going to make four stops tomorrow at two critical states. We're talking about Mississippi and Kentucky. That is where there are hotly-contested gubernatorial races that could go to Republicans.

Now, Mississippi, you have former National GOP Chairman Haley Barbour. In Kentucky, Republican Congressman Ernie Fletcher. Now, recent polls show that both of these candidates are slightly ahead. If Fletcher wins, this could be the first time that Kentucky has a Republican governor in some three decades.

Now, President Bush won both of these states, but as you can imagine, Judy, it will definitely bolster his chances for 2004. That is what they're hoping for, to get the machine out there, to get the Republican leadership and to get out the vote.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president strongly supports those who share his compassionate conservative philosophy. Those who are committed improving education and strengthening our economy, and committed to reaching out to faith- based groups, to help people in needed.


MALVEAUX: And, Judy, somewhat of a risk here, because he's using his political capital in these other races, but administration officials say they think it is well worth it, that if they can capture these two states we're not talking about 27 Republican governors, but we would be talking about 29. And that means there would be dominance not only in the Senate, in the House, but also the state leadership, and they could push the Republican agenda, also push President Bush to another election -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne Malveaux traveling with the president in Crawford today. Thank you, Suzanne.

Let's talk more now about the key contests on Election Day 2003. I'm joined by Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report.

Amy, we know it's an off-year election. All of us have been looking at California, saying, Oh, big change, big time. And you've been looking at these races -- Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana. You are seeing change, too, but change in what way?

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: It seems to be changed just for change sake as opposed to change about a specific party or a specific issue. California is certainly a perfect example of this where even voters -- even though this is the world's seventh largest economy, didn't feel that intimidated about voting for somebody who didn't have experience in government.

And so it's pretty amazing that in this time we're having some economic troubles, things that are going on overseas, in the states where are there budget troubles. Voters do not seem worried about taking risks and voting the incumbent party out and trying somebody new.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk about these states. We mentioned Kentucky. What would it represent in Kentucky, if you had voters going for Republican, after, what, 32 years?

WALTER: Right, 32 years of Democrats in control and I think that's the big part of the problem for Democrat Ben Chandler who is the nominee there. I think that's the biggest problem for him than almost anything else. Plus the fact that the governor, the outgoing governor, Paul Patton, has had a tremendous amount of scandal.

Those two things combined that would trump anything else this election is about. And so certainly Republicans will take certain joy out of winning this state and they should. But I think to read too much into it is a little dangerous and to suggest that it's simply a triumph for one party or the other takes away just what a difficult -- how difficult this is for the Democrats with Patton on top of the ticket.

WOODRUFF: What will the lessons be? Of course we don't know what results will be and we will have to wait for that. But what could the lessons be for this year for '04?

WALTER: I think that this change theme which we have seen in 2002 is really when where it started. How else really do you explain how Democrats could find themselves in a position in certain states, you know, winning certain states. republicans for example, now governor in Maryland. You have a Democrat who is the governor of Kansas.

That really didn't have any political bearing, certainly on how the states went either for the president or how they went for Congressional races in 2002 or Senate races. But what it means is for people on the ground, for voters here who do see local government and governors as closer to home in some ways than the federal government, that they were just sort of fed up with the way things had been. They weren't afraid to try something different. Try a new party. See what -- how that change in tact and go from there.

WOODRUFF: You are saying may not be something that is all relevant next year in these Congressional races?

WALTER: This is especially true in the House. Because of redistricting, we have (AUDIO GAP) very few swing districts left. The irony is, you could see a lot of turnover on governors' race, what you saw in 2002, for example. But on the House side, you only saw four incumbents lose. And we could see maybe the same sort of pattern going to on in 2004.

WOODRUFF: And when I look at those races, I think it (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Amy Walter, thank you very much.

WALTER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Talking about those race coming up in the next few weeks.

Well, two new polls lead the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are locked for a tight battle for support in Iowa. A Research 2000 survey of likely caucus voters finds that the two candidates are tied with 26 percent each. John Kerry has 15 percent, John Edwards has 8.

Wesley Clark is no longer competing in Iowa but he appears to be running well in South Carolina. Survey by the American Research group gives Clark 17 percent there with John Edwards in second at 10 percent. All the other candidates are in single digits. John Edwards had a nine-point lead in the same poll just one month ago.

Howard Dean is defending himself from claims that he has shifted his views on gun control. John Kerry, who just happens to be hunting today in Iowa, says Dean told the NRA in a 1992 questionnaire that he opposed restrictions on the private ownership of assault weapons.

On the campaign trail, Dean often says that he supports the assault weapons ban, but that gun control should be handled at the state level. Reached today by CNN, Dean bristled at Kerry's comments.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's so blatantly silly. This whole article got started because some other rival campaign leaked my questionnaire. I'm not going to get involved in the Washington nonsense of this.


WOODRUFF: Question in Iowa. Did one of the campaign's staffers use an anti-gay slur against other's? Up next, we will look at the growing tensions between the Dean and Gephardt campaigns now that the race for the Hawkeye is neck and neck.

Plus, waiting for Wesley Clark. Journalist Elizabeth Drew shares her insights about the general who be president.

And don't let Bill Schneider scare you. He doesn't have the "Play of the Week" this Halloween, but he has dug up a few political skeletons.


WOODRUFF: As you can tell by looking at those poll numbers, the race in Iowa is tightening and the tension between the Dean and Gephardt campaigns appears to be growing.

In the latest incident, Chrissy Gephardt, who is the candidate's lesbian daughter, yesterday defended a Gephardt staffer who was accused of using an anti-gay slur against a Dean aide who had crashed a Gephardt event.

Now, Mike Glover, of the Associated Press, has been following the growing rivalry in Iowa between Dean and Gephardt. He joins me now from Des Moines.

Mike, I understand you weren't there to witness exactly what happened, but what does this say about the state of the campaign?

MIKE GLOVER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: What it says, Judy, is it's a very, very competitive election, where these campaigns are really intensely going after each other. If you stop and think about it, that's not terribly surprising. Every poll I've seen has shown these two guys, neck-and-neck, atop the field here in Iowa. And more to the point, there are very real consequences for which one manages them to pull this thing out.

Dick Gephardt -- this is seen for him as a must-win state. He started out as a virtual favorite son here. He won the caucuses in '88. Should Howard Dean get past him here, it would be a very bad blow for Dick Gephardt's campaign. And should Howard Dean get past him here, he'd have a lot of momentum going into New Hampshire, where the polls show he's already ahead.

So it's a close, tight election with a lot at stake. It's no wonder these guys are getting after each pretty good.

WOODRUFF: Mike, how do you characterize the kind of support that each of these men has, Gephardt and Dean?

GLOVER: I like to look at it's the new Democratic turnout machine versus the traditional Democratic turnout machine.

Dick Gephardt has done a very good, solid job of assembling what is the traditional Democratic turnout machine. It's based on organized labor, it's rooted in elected officials, top party officials, things like that. He's organized them, organized them well and we know they'll show up on January 19.

Governor Dean has put together another very good organization, but he's done it in a different way -- driven by the Internet, luring some new people into the campaign. He gets huge crowds wherever he goes, far bigger than the other campaigns. The question is, will those people show up on January 19, and will they know what to do when they get there? Because caucuses are very complicated things.

So, it's election going into, that's actually kind of fun to cover, because, Judy, we don't know who's going to win.

WOODRUFF: All right. Are we just completely leaving everybody else out of this? I mean, we know that Edwards and -- I'm sorry, that Lieberman has said that he's not going to compete in Iowa. Wesley Clark says he's not going to compete in Iowa. But what about John Kerry? What about John Edwards?

GLOVER: Well, there's another race going on at the same time that we're all watching Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. We're watching them because virtually every poll shows them with a pretty significant lead over the rest of field.

But there's another very interesting race going out here, and this that is the one between John Kerry and John Edwards. Most polls show Kerry in third place and he thinks that's enough to get through -- to get into New Hampshire, where he's better known. But John Edwards, in some surveys, has been coming up a little bit. And an activist told me the other day, "remember in this race, fourth place is now last place, and won't do you any good." So who gets into that third place slot and gets what we called "the ticket to ride" out of Iowa, could be very important.

WOODRUFF: And we know that expectation's game is big-- big-time important when it comes to Iowa. All right.

GLOVER: Well, it's very important and it will dominate the news coverage in the week leading up to New Hampshire, and that could make a big difference in that state. And the process this time is so front-loaded, that you can't afford to stumble somewhere.

WOODRUFF: All right. Wise words spoken from Mike Glover of the Associated Press. Good to talk to you again, Mike. Thanks very much.

GLOVER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Wesley Clark fires back at the White House. When we come back, I'll tell you what the retired general turned presidential candidate had to say.



WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are always ways of looking back and seeing that you could have done better. That goes for all administrations. But the issue here is, what President Harry Truman said, "When you're the commander in chief, when you're the president of the United States, well, the buck stops here."


WOODRUFF: Wesley Clark on the campaign trail responding to comments from President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that previous presidents, including Bill Clinton's administration and others, didn't do enough to fight growing threats of terror.

Well, the late arrival of retired General Wesley Clark to the Democratic presidential field is the topic of a new article in "The New York Review of Books."

Elizabeth Drew is the author of that, and she joins me here in Washington.

Elizabeth Drew, thank you for being with us.

ELIZABETH DREW, JOURNALIST: I'm glad to be here, Judy. You know that.

WOODRUFF: You spend a lot of time looking into General Clark's military career, talking to people who worked with him. We've heard a lot. We've read a lot about the critics of General Clark in the military. What did you find out?

DREW: Well, the point is, we have read a lot. But there hadn't been a lot of looking into it. In fact, any looking into what is this about? Why are these people saying these things? And regrettably, Judy, an awful lot of the media were passing on these, if I may say so, smears, rumors, without looking into what's going on here. What's going on here is that there were some people in the military who Clark opposed or opposed Clark on certain issues. But you have to go back. Politics at the top of military can be quite vicious. Clark got to the top rather quickly. Out of the total military of 1.5 million, there are about 230,000 officers, 35 four- star generals. I was astonished when I learned that.

So people who get there, you know, there can be a lot of fighting over it. He favored the war in Kosovo over -- for humanitarian reasons.


DREW: The Pentagon usually doesn't want to fight anyone, but they didn't want to fight that.

When the war started, Clinton said, We will not use ground troops.


DREW: It was Clark's position that militarily you shouldn't remove the option.


DREW: So he argued that, and the Pentagon leader, Bill Cohen, the secretary of defense, and Hugh Shelton, the chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, were very angry at him for arguing that.

WOODRUFF: But he had has defenders?

DREW: He has his defenders. And I talk to the civilian people in the Clinton period, during the Kosovo War, and Strobe Talbott is on the record with me, speaking very highly. Sandy Berger, who was the national security adviser, they have told me also, there is a lot of jealousy of Clark.

He's, frankly, he's smarter than a lot of them. He was first in his class at West Point. He was a Rhodes scholar. He's too cerebral for some of them. And they just find that they are very jealous of him.

WOODRUFF: Did you find a conclusion of all of the research and the people you talked to, in the military and out, that this is someone who, you know, clearly has the intellect. But what about temperamentally, and in terms of experience to be president?

DREW: I don't think there is any question about the temperament. One of the smears about him, one was Hugh Shelton saying he came out of Europe...

WOODRUFF: Retired chairman of the Joints Chiefs?

DREW: Right. He came out of Europe for reasons of integrity and character. And various reporters have gone to Shelton and said, What do you mean? And he won't respond. That is a smear. And John McCain said to me, If he is going to say that, he should say what he means.

The other one is, that somehow he was wild. And in the Kosovo War, the Russians moved in to an airport at Pristina. Clark worried that this meant that after the hostilities were over, that this meant they would take a sector of Kosovo and make it their own and they should be confronted.

Our administration backed him, and the British did it first. His junior, his subordinate, this General Michael Jackson, who was British, after a while didn't like the idea. They had a very long argument, in the course of which, Michael Jackson said, I'm not going to start World War III for you.

Clark himself reported that to Hugh Shelton as an example of overemotional reaction and it leaked out.

Now, where do you think that leak came from?

WOODRUFF: Good question.


DREW: All right. Elizabeth Drew, the article about Wesley Clark is in "The New York Review of Books." Fascinating reading.

DREW: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much for talking to us about it. I appreciate it.

Well, we're going to have some Halloween fun ahead. It is Halloween. Before the trick-or-treater descend on you, we will open the door of the ghosts of the presidential candidates' past.


WOODRUFF: On this Halloween, the "Play of the Week" takes a backseat to more frightening fare. Here is our political analyst turned spook hunter Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you find lots of scary stuff about the candidates in any campaign and especially on Halloween when we asked each candidates what skeletons do you have in your closet?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): How's this for a skeleton in the closet? In 1983 and '84, John Kerry was Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor. Oooh, pretty scary, huh, boys and girls?

The skeleton in Carol Moseley Bruan's closet is a man named Kgosie Matthews, her one-time campaign manager and fiancee who was accused of campaign finance improprieties and setting up the senator's ill-advised trip to Nigeria to visit that country's dictator for whom Matthews had once lobbied. A lot of Democrats don't want to be reminded of Al Gore's 2000 campaign. One of them may be Joe Lieberman.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), CONNECTICUT: Kept away from our side, some number of middle-class people who don't see America as the people versus the powerful.

SCHNEIDER: Open Dennis Kucinich's closet and you will find out that back when he was mayor of Cleveland in the 1970s, the city went bankrupt.

John Edwards is actually 50-years-old, but he looks 30. Maybe it's the hair. Edwards' youthful appearance has been a handicap to his campaign. Not enough experience, some Democrats say.

Al Sharpton once spread the story that when Martin Luther King Jr. Was assassinated, Jesse Jackson smeared King'' blood on his clothes. Did I take the blood of the guy I loved and put it on my shirt?, Sharpton asked.

He later apologized to Jackson. But who did Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. endorse for president? Howard Dean.

Some remarks Howard Dean once made about Medicare have been haunting his campaign.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was in agreement with the Republican stand to have a deep, devastating cut in Medicare.

SCHNEIDER: OK, Mr. Gephardt, what skeletons do you have in your closet? How about this moment last year in the Rose Garden when President Bush signed the Iraq War Resolution.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank in particular Speaker Hastert and Leader Gephardt.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush praising a Democrat is one thing. But a Democrat praising President Bush?

GEPHARDT: I am very glad we got a great team in office. Men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O'Neill. People I know very well. Our president George W. Bush.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush has a missing person's bureau in his closet. Whatever happened to Osama bin Laden?

BUSH: Wanted dead or alive.

SCHNEIDER: And Saddam Hussein?

BUSH: We're on the hunt.

SCHNEIDER: And that senior administration official who leaked the name of a CIA agent to get back at her husband for criticizing the president? BUSH: I don't know. If we're going to find out the senior administration official.


SCHNEIDER: Lots of skeletons running around this campaign. It's almost as if the devil himself is running this show. Who could that be?

WOODRUFF: Your horns are flashing.

SCHNEIDER: I will have to get that treated.

WOODRUFF: OK. I am scared.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. And remember, this is no scare, remember to tune in at our new time on Monday. It is double the fun. A full hour of INSIDE POLITICS starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, and from then on.

I'll talk to presidential candidate John Kerry, to GOP strategist Ralph Reed, plus Senator Bob Graham on the day he decides whether he's going to run for the Senate again. All of them joining me with big news. Don't miss it!

I am Judy Woodruff. Have a great Halloween. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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