The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Dean's Labor Day; Interview With Joe Trippi; Interview With Patrick Leahy

Aired November 12, 2003 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Two big unions unite behind White House hopeful Howard Dean.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to change America because it's going to put working people back in the driver's seat in this country.

ANNOUNCER: Is it a labor of love or a marriage of convenience?

AMB. PAUL BREMER, U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: I think we all know that we are in a very intense period here.

ANNOUNCER: Intense and deadly. On the heels of another attack in Iraq, the president's team holds emergency talks.

Get out your cot. The Senate is set to hold a slumber party of sorts, as Republicans and Democrats argue into the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McCain suggested we have a snoring and a non-snoring section.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Well, Howard Dean calls his double-barrel labor endorsement here in Washington today an extra thing. Translation: it goes a long way toward helping Dean convince skeptics in his own party that he's electable.

Our Candy Crowley has more on today's announcement by the unions representing service employees and state, county and municipal workers.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It no longer has the sound of a pipe dream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sisters and brothers, the next president of the United States of America, Howard Dean. CROWLEY: The endorsement of the two biggest, most politically active unions inside the AFL-CIO makes Howard Dean not unbeatable, but at least a formidable front-runner in the Democratic primary race. Even he's impressed.

DEAN: We have built an enormous grassroots organization in our campaign so far. But what you have just done dwarfs even our organization. Three million members...

CROWLEY: The headcount is not assured. An early August Gallup poll found that 57 percent of union households approve of George Bush's performance. Still, the vote tally is beside the point just now. What Dean has picked up is free labor and the organizations to deploy them for the Democratic nomination battle.

Equally important to Dean, who recently got tangled up in a furor over the Confederate flag, is the diversity within the unions. It is not coincidence that his remarks focused heavily on race relations.

DEAN: The word "quota" is a race-coated word which is deliberately designed to appeal to people's fears they're going to lose their job or their place in a university to a member of a community in color. In other words, the president played the race card, and that alone entitles him to a one-way bus ticket back to Crawford, Texas.

CROWLEY: Why Dean? The more liberal Service Employees International Union likes his health care plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a doctor, he has seen health care from the bedside. As a governor, he's provided to almost all of the citizens of his state. We are totally comfortable with his positions on Medicare and long-term care and nurse care and health care in general. And after November 4, there will be a doctor in the house, the White House, that is.

CROWLEY: The more pragmatic American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees likes his chances.

GERALD MCENTEE, AFSCME PRESIDENT: Together we can defeat this anti-worker, anti-family, anti-democracy president and his fat cat friends.

CROWLEY: The unions say Dean worked hard for the endorsement, but it is equally true that his rivals brew it.


CROWLEY: While the SEIU's liberal politics are a natural fit for Dean, AFSCME took early and frequent looks at John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, and later Wesley Clark, all of them passed over for a variety of reasons ranging from inept campaigns to candidates who fail to excite. But in the end, these endorsements boil down to one maxim: nothing succeeds like success. And the biggest success story of the campaign so far is Howard Dean -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Certainly a good day for him. No way to argue that.


WOODRUFF: All right. Candy, thank you very much.

Well, while Howard Dean basks in his new union endorsements, Dick Gephardt is claiming something of a consolation prize. The Iowa Council of United Auto Workers was expected today to finalize plans to back Gephardt. And a coalition of 16 pro-Gephardt unions has launched ads in Iowa that focus on trade and indirectly target Dean.

Well, more than half of organized labor is backing Dick Gephardt. Unions clearly are divided over the '04 race. Given the split, I asked Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, if Dean's endorsement today will really in the end mean that much.


JOE TRIPPI, DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Oh, I think today's an earthquake in terms of what it means. These are two unions that do not tilt at windmills. Beating Bush has been their central goal from the beginning as they went through their processes.

And they put real feet on the ground, along with our grassroots, the hundreds of thousands of people that already support us in the grassroots that we've created. This is a huge push for us. I mean, it's a great day for the Dean campaign.

WOODRUFF: When your candidate says that he hopes to raise $100 at least from two million people, is he being realistic?

TRIPPI: Oh, yes. I mean, we've already got half a million people who signed up online for us; 233,000 of them have already contributed an average of $77. I mean, that is -- I think in the end what makes us really competitive with Bush is our ability for the American people to go toe-to-toe with Bush's bundle dollars. And he's going to have $200 million.

We can do it if two million Americans give us $100. And the governor has said repeatedly, and I agree with them, there are 200 million people who would borrow $100 and give it to Howard Dean if it meant getting George Bush out of the White House. And that's what we're going to do.

Today, there are three million new folks who have joined up with us, working men and women, and it will make the job that much easier. But we all have to get in this together, and that's what our campaign has been building.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something that John Edwards told "The Washington Post" yesterday to some editors there. He said, "It's all well and good for Democrats to be bashing President Bush, and to talk about what's wrong with this administration." But he said what voters in this country really want is they want to know where the Democrats are going to take the country. And he didn't name Howard Dean, but he clearly was including him in criticism that the Democrats have got to provide an inspiration, they've got to have a positive message, as well as a critical message.

TRIPPI: Well, all the candidates right now are taking those kinds of shots at us. They have for quite a while. One of the reasons we're here today is because Governor Dean took stands when a lot of Democrats were keeping silent. And I think that's what the American people want right now, somebody who's going to take the tough position and make his case.

That's what the Democratic Party wants. That's what the grassroots wants. In the end, I think, look, we're not underestimating any of these guys. We got to where we are today because they underestimated us. And we're not underestimate -- we're not going to make that mistake.

We're not underestimating them. We're going to work. We're going to fight for this. We're going to go out there and organize. We're going to build the grassroots movement. And we are going to get 200 million Americans to contribute $100 to get George Bush out of the White House.

WOODRUFF: But his point is that it's not enough to be criticizing and bashing the president, going after the president on the war. There's got to be something positive and inspirational.

TRIPPI: Well, the governor has been talking about his plan to provide health care for every American. He's been out there. People who follow this campaign know full well what Howard Dean's positive message is.

I might point out that the other candidates have had their opportunity, the same opportunity we have to have done so. Most of them started out way ahead of us and are now looking up the other way.

So I mean, it's fair to criticize, if that's what they want to do, in an effort to tear us down. But right now, what we're interested in, competing with George Bush, and taking that fight to him, while not underestimating these guys. That's the way we look at it.


WOODRUFF: Joe Trippi, campaign manager for Howard Dean.

Well, the first big test of the Service Employees Union endorsement of Howard Dean will be on January 27, when New Hampshire Democrats vote in the leadoff presidential primary. CNN's Dan Lothian looks at the SEIU's clout in the Granite State.


DANIEL LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This restored Victorian building along N. State Street in Concord, New Hampshire may not look like a power base, but it's the headquarters of the SEIU, or Service Employees International Union Local 1984. It's a union that's flexing its political muscle, supported by rank and file members like Sheila Heath, a state chemist. SHEILA HEATH, SEIU MEMBER: We were not active in politics say 10 years ago. And we actually decided at one point that we needed to get involved, because that's where the decision-making processes are.

LOTHIAN: A critical shift in this key primary state by the largest union here made up of police officers, school workers, and various other state employees.

ANDREW SMITH, UNIV. OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: They've got the bodies more than the other old-line unions. And their employees will turn out consistently in Democratic primaries.

LOTHIAN: That's why he says Dean stands to gain so much from the SEIU's endorsement.

SMITH: I think this is an important signal to those voters and those union members to work for Dean.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Whether they're sitting behind a desk in a state building or standing by the side of the road repairing a highway, the union has more than 1.5 million members nationwide -- 7,500 of them are right here in New Hampshire. Members who say they are comfortable with their growing fruns in presidential politics.

You're dealing with the bad guys.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): Gary Smith is a sergeant at this state prison.

SMITH: I am proud of the input that our union has in this process. I'm glad that it's taken this role.

LOTHIAN: They started making noise in 2000. While the national union endorsed Al Gore, the New Hampshire chapter backed Bill Bradley. It was unanimous for Bill Clinton in '96 and '92.

Why Dean? The SEIU, which bills itself as one of the most diverse unions, representing the largest number of immigrant workers, says the former Vermont governor addresses concerns members have about health care, jobs and education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What our union stands for is changing the lives of working families in this country.

LOTHIAN: The union says, making a big endorsement is the first step.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Concord, New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: And now we turn to Capitol Hill, where senators are preparing for a side show, a marathon of fighting and finger pointing over judicial nominees. At the same time, there is some actual progress to report toward closing a deal on a Medicare prescription drug bill.

Let's check in now with our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.

Jon, just how close are they on this Medicare thing?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, it looks like they are on the verge of announcing a deal, possibly as soon as tonight. Bringing to an end the torturous Medicare negotiations that have been going on for months up here on Capitol Hill behind closed doors, finally bringing some fruit, bearing some fruit.

What sources involved in the negotiations tell us is that they have reached a tentative deal between the three key players here: House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and moderate Democrats, Max Baucus and John Breaux. John Breaux told reporters just a short while ago, "We have a tentative agreement that I can be supportive of." He also predicted that other Democrats would support this as well, saying, "Democrats have told me that coming up to an election, they don't want to disappoint seniors again."

Now, the most contentious issue in these negotiations have been Republican plans to put Medicare in direct competition with private insurance companies. The way they have resolved that is to put a pilot program, a demonstration project that would operate in four cities, or one region of the country. They would put Medicare in competition with private insurance. Those cities or that region would be chosen by the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Senator Tom Daschle, the top Democrat here in the Senate, said that amounts to destroying Medicare.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: We think that it, for all intents and purposes, means the end of Medicare as we've known it for all these 40 years. So if that is the plan, we're going to want to know more. But I don't need to know much more than that to know that that is a very disturbing agreement, and one that would be -- would not be well received in our caucus.


KARL: But sources up hear say that the AARP has been involved in these negotiations, and if indeed Max Baucus and John Breaux officially come on board to support it, that they will support it too. If that is true, Judy, it would be very hard for Democrats to make the case that this bill is really going to destroy Medicare. After all, the AARP has been seen as the guardian of Medicare up here for many years.

WOODRUFF: It sure has. All right. Jon, what about this talkathon, as they're calling it, over judicial nominees. What are both sides doing to get ready for this? KARL: Well, this is going to be a 30-hour talkathon that's supposed to start at 6:00. And already, Republicans have been bringing in the cots. I think we have some pictures here of the cots they have brought onboard, so that those senators that would be speaking at 3:00 and 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning can catch a little nap in between their speeches if needed. They've been bringing those cots in.

Republicans making the case that they are trying to show that Democrats have been violating the Constitution or hurting the Constitution by blocking the president's most high-profile circuit court nominees. One of those Republicans came out this morning, Lindsey Graham, and said that in the most stark of terms. Here he is.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There's never a good time to hijack the Constitution for political reasons. But the worst time is when you're at war and you've got nine million people unemployed.


KARL: Now, Judy, Democrats say this is a colossal waste of time. They point out that 168 judicial nominees have been confirmed, nominees of the president. They focus on those, not the ones they're blocking -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Those mattresses look pretty thick, Jon. I don't think anybody's going to be suffering too much if they catch a nap on that.

KARL: Yes, I don't think so.

WOODRUFF: OK. Jon Karl, thanks very much.

At the White House, there appears to be a growing sense of urgency about the U.S. presence in Iraq. Up next, against the back drop of a new U.S. bombing operation in Iraq, has the Bush administration come up with a new battle plan?

Plus, it has a history as a hot political issue. But you don't usually see Democrats at odds over flag burning. They are now.

And later, more on labor politics, then and now. Bill Schneider will explain why it's not your father's union anymore.


WOODRUFF: As the security situation in Iraq takes another deadly turn, U.S. forces are taking aim at troublemakers in the Iraqi capital. A short time ago, American forces attacked a building in southern Baghdad. The U.S. military says the building has been used by opponents of the U.S.-led coalition.

Another attack was aimed at insurgents in western Baghdad. Earlier, a car bombing at an Italian military headquarters in Nasiriya in southern Iraq killed at least 17 Italians, including military police officers, army soldiers and civilians. Eight Iraqis were also killed.

As the attack took place, the Bush administration civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was on a hastily-arranged trip back to Washington. The latest now from our senior White House correspondent, John King.

John, why did they call Bremer back?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, you see the deteriorating or at least the escalating attacks. The security situation in Iraq an increasing problem for the administration. And the Bush White House believes one solution is accelerating the political transition in Iraq.

That is why Ambassador Bremer was called back to Washington. Two days of urgent discussions here at the White House and indications this afternoon that a potentially significant shift in U.S. policy could be forthcoming.

The president for months has said that he views the transition this way: you have Iraqis write a new constitution, then you have democratic elections, and then you have a transfer of sovereignty from the coalition to a new Iraqi government. But we are told that Ambassador Bremer will make his way back to Baghdad with the president's blessing of a potential option that could include an interim constitution and an interim Iraqi government modeled loosely after the government put in place in Afghanistan, once the Taliban regime fell.

Now, that would be a shift in administration policy. Administration officials are being very careful not to discuss the details publicly. They want this to be embraced first by the Iraqi Governing Council. The press secretary, Scott McClellan, at the White House saying the president understands he has to be flexible.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just like you have to adapt and adjust on the security front to meet the enemy, you need to be willing to adjust and adapt to circumstances on the ground in terms of reconstruction and in terms of the political front.


KING: Officials tell us Bremer returns with no firm timetable to get a consensus on this new political transition plan, but that he was told by the president and others here that there's a clear sense of urgency. In his public comments to reporters, Ambassador Bremer very reluctant to get into the details. But he did make very clear the sense of urgency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BREMER: We have a -- obviously a war on terrorism going on, and a low intensity conflict in Iraq. The stakes are very high. The stakes are very high for the war on terrorism, and the stakes are very high for moving towards a sovereign Iraqi government.


KING: And here in Washington, Judy, many would say the stakes are very high for a president heading into a reelection campaign at a time when many are questioning his policy in post-war Iraq. Again, we are told Ambassador Bremer carrying the president's blessing for new steps in the political transition that could include a transitional government, a transitional leader in Iraq. That would be a significant shift for this White House -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, the fact they called him back indicates it's clearly gotten their attention. All right. John, thank you very much.

What is the real story behind the firing of John Kerry's campaign manager? Stu Rothenberg will be here next to fill us in.

We'll also ask him about Howard Dean's big splash with big labor.


WOODRUFF: While Howard Dean is out there collecting union endorsements, John Kerry is still trying to explain the reasons behind his campaign staff shakeup. Here with the inside story, Stu Rothenberg.

Stu, we've been hearing various explanations for the firing of Jim Jordan the last few days. What are you hearing?

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Well, what I'm hearing is this is simply an effort by the senator to shake things up. There have been a number of suggestions that I think are just inaccurate about why Jordan was canned. I've heard a suggestion, for example, that he's a conservative Democrat, ties to the DLC, and this was an ideological power play, bringing in a more liberal team. That's just not the case.

Jim Jordan is -- he's a self-described -- he describes himself as moral liberal, further to the left than John Kerry, not more conservative. This was not about ideology. It was about shaking things up.

WOODRUFF: So it's about John Kerry.

ROTHENBERG: I think it is about John Kerry. You know, you also hear that the new team is going to be more aggressive toward Howard Dean, or going to attack him more. In fact, Jordan is the guy who over the last six to nine months has been arguing for an attack strategy. And Bob Shrum, on the other hand, has been saying, no, Senator, you act presidential. If you appear presidential, people will support you. So I think it's much more about the senator's weaknesses. I think the idea that this is like a -- can jump-start a campaign is really farfetched, Judy. We're not talking about a football coach where all of a sudden players are going to play harder for you.

WOODRUFF: So just quickly, should we expect him to attack Dean more now, or less?

ROTHENBERG: He is starting to attack Dean. I think they're up against the wall. There's not a lot of time left. They're going to have to start attacking him. And they are. I get attack e-mails every day from the Kerry campaign about Dean.

WOODRUFF: All right. Howard Dean picking up two big union endorsements today. The fact that he's able to galvanize this kind of significant support from inside the Democratic community establishment, whatever you will, what does that say to Republicans as they look at Howard Dean? Does it make him more formidable? Does it matter?

ROTHENBERG: I think it does, because initially, think back how we described Howard Dean. We saw him as kind of a white wine Democrat. He was going to appeal to the college professors and undergraduates on campus and very liberal upscale voters. That has limited appeal within the Democratic Party and also in a general election.

But now that he's getting support from working class labor unions, SEIU, AFSCME, we're talking about the, if not blue collar, at least more working class also. Unions in the case of SEIU, significant minority population. It suggests his ability to build a broad coalition, both for the Democratic Party nomination, but also in a general.

WOODRUFF: And they're saying that they can get two million people to give him $100 each, which is -- I don't know, that's interesting.

ROTHENBERG: That's the other thing, electability. We wondered whether he was electable. But if he can match Bush dollar for dollar over the summer, that's something the other candidates can't do.

WOODRUFF: All right. Stu Rothenberg, great to see you. Thanks very much for coming in. We appreciate it.

In today's edition of our "Campaign News Daily," retired General Hugh Shelton finds himself headlining a political controversy. Shelton is a military adviser to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. He has also criticized retired General Wesley Clark's performance as NATO's supreme commander. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) staffer accused the Edwards campaign of condoning mudslinging by its use of Shelton. Edwards defends Shelton, though, as a fellow North Carolinian and a respected military leader.

Wesley Clark has come out in opposition to some of his Democratic opponents on another front. In a Veterans Day speech, he endorsed a proposed Constitutional amendment that prohibits flag burning. Senator John Kerry says if he saw someone burning the flag, he would punch them in the mouth. But he says the Constitution guarantees the right of free expression.

Senator Kerry was riding instead of punching last night. He rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle onto the set of "The Tonight Show." The interview that followed was relatively serious. Kerry called his campaign a "long and humbling experience."

Why did two top unions endorse Howard Dean over Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, or one of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls? I'll ask labor leader Gerald McEntee when we return.

Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger's staff says he's been hard at work. But has California's governor-elect also been working on his tan?



ANNOUNCER: Howard Dean receives the union label.

DEAN: ... $87 billion a year for health insurance for every single man, woman and child. The president can run that on our credit card and send the money to Iraq. He can put a health care right for every single...

ANNOUNCER: But why is labor endorsing a candidate like Dean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we have two of America's largest and certainly two of America's most politically potent unions endorsing a guy who was the outsider candidate.

ANNOUNCER: It's back to the future under the Dome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last all-night filibuster was in September of 1994.

ANNOUNCER: The Senate gets set to pull an all-nighter over the president's judicial nominees.

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

Well the spectacle gets under way on Capitol Hill, two hours from now. Republicans are calling it a reverse filibuster, Democrats are calling it a colossal waste of time. Either way, look for some senators to actually use the cots delivered to the Hill today as they argue through the night over the president's stalled judicial nominations.

GOP leaders say they are launching the 30-hour marathon debate to publicize the way four conservative U.S. appeals court nominees. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: Senators have a right to vote. If they want to reject these candidates, these nominees, they have a right to do it.

But once they hit the floor, based upon all the history of this country, they deserve a vote up or down. And we did that for the Clinton administration, and all other prior administrations. And it's time they do it for this administration, because this is a constitutional disaster waiting to happen unless we stand up and do what has to be done.


WOODRUFF: Well, needless to say, Democrats see it differently. I talked to Senator Hatch about all this yesterday. Today I'm joined by the ranking Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, Patrick Leahy.

Senator Leahy, you heard what your colleague says, Senator Hatch. he says, "Senators have a right to vote and that's what they ought to be doing." And the Democrats are standing in the way.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: One of the things that I love about Orrin, he can say something that far off the mark, and actually say it with a straight face. He did, of course, stop 63 of President Clinton's nominees from ever having a vote.

You know, we're talking about this whole filibuster thing. I've been here long enough to know when we had real filibusters on real issues. And this is a phony filibuster on a phony issue. The fact is, we've confirmed 98 percent of President Bush's judges. That's far more than any president that I can ever remember getting through certainly at this point in their term in office.

But I think what it is, they know that they missed the September 30 deadline when the law required the Republican leadership to pass all the appropriations bills, they didn't. They didn't follow the law on that. They don't want to talk about these things.

I mean they talk about a -- four jobs. We've got unemployment up from 4 percent to 6 percent, impoverishment and so on. These are the things they do not want to talk about.

WOODRUFF: All right, Senator, what about -- I mean, they're saying that, frankly, for the first time in history, Democrats are filibustering judicial nominees. They are saying this has never happened before.

LEAHY: Well actually, they had a number of filibusters, and we had to vote cloture during the Clinton administration. The people who are talking about how terrible this is, the Republican leader at that time voted not to stop a filibuster against a Clinton judge. The now Republican leader, Senator Frist voted not to stop a filibuster against a Clinton judge. And then stopped another 63 by anonymous one-person filibusters. If they had one, if they had one Republican who anonymously would tell him he didn't want a Clinton judge to go forward, they didn't. They just never got a vote.


LEAHY: ... filibustered 63 judges.

WOODRUFF: They say that they pushed through 377 of President Clinton's nominees.

LEAHY: No, actually, they didn't. There were a number of those who were put through when the Democrats were in charge.

The fact is, they blocked -- and then the numbers that count for these. They blocked 63 of President Clinton's judges. We have stopped four of the most ideologically extreme nominees who were picked solely because they would politicize the federal court and try to make it a Republican court.

It shouldn't be a Republican court or Democrat court, it should be independent.

WOODRUFF: Senator, what about the spectacle of this? People all over the country are watching this unfold on television, or reading about it in the newspapers. And they must be just shaking their heads saying, These guys will never get along, will they?

LEAHY: Well, I mean it is ridiculous. We haven't passed the appropriations bills to get the country running. We won't vote on minimum wage, we won't vote on Medicare, we won't vote education bills. But they'll spend 30 hours on a fake filibuster.


WOODRUFF: ... because of what the Democrats did.

LEAHY: Oh, baloney. They're doing it because they don't want to vote on those things that the American people want, like Medicare, like good education bills. They don't want to vote on these things. And so they'll do this spectacle instead. It makes absolutely no sense.

And to say they're doing this, they won't talk about 3.5 million people out of work, they talk about four people they want to give lifetime jobs to.


LEAHY: I've never seen anything like this in the years I've been there.

And then they talk -- you mentioned Senator Hatch being on here. He said he has a list of 13 or 15 people they're going to filibuster. Nobody has ever seen such a list, neither Democrat or Republican. This has become "Alice in Wonderland."

WOODRUFF: That is what he said yesterday. Well, Senator, we're all going to be watching closely, looking for...

LEAHY: I hope you have better things to do than watch a fake filibuster.


WOODRUFF: We want to see where this ends up. Senator Patrick Leahy, thank you very much. Good to see you, Senator. Thank you.

LEAHY: Thank you.

Well, now we turn to labor politics and Howard Dean's big endorsements. It didn't take too much reading between the lines to understand why AFSCME and the SEIU today through their support behind Dean. A union statement contending Dean can, quote, "Defeat this president" pretty much said it all. During the announcement here in Washington, Dean gave his union supporters what they wanted, a stinging critique of Mr. Bush.


DEAN: ... the president cut Pell Grants, cut health for fire and police and first response and ambulance workers and health care workers all over America so that he could give $3 trillion of our tax money to his friends who write him $2,000 checks so he can get reelected president. That is not going to happen.


WOODRUFF: Well, the two-fer union endorsement was widely expected, but it represents a break from tradition as our Bill Schneider explains.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Labor unions embrace Howard Dean. What's wrong with this picture? Howard Dean is supposed to be the yuppie candidate, not the guy who appeals to blue collar workers. Dean's issue is the war, labor's issue is jobs. The script for this campaign said that labor already had its candidate, Dick Gephardt.

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: I love this union. I love this union. And I love being with your people all over the country.

SCHNEIDER: Gephardt was supposed to play the Walter Mondale role, while the part of the new Democrat, Gary Hart's role, would go to Dean. What happened to the script?

Many old line industrial unions have endorsed Gephardt, who's fought the good fight for them for years on the trade issue.

GEPHARDT: Say no to this NAFTA.

SCHNEIDER: Organized labor is actually divided.

HAROLD MEYERSON, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE AMERICAN PROSPECT": There's a real split between some of the old line manufacturing unions that are more impacted by trade issues, and the service sector and public employee unions.

SCHNEIDER: Dean's unions include people who work in offices and hospitals, not factories. They're fast growing unions that see themselves as a movement, just like the Dean campaign. They see excitement and commitment in Dean's movement.

DEAN: What we're really trying to do here is build a movement to take back this country.

MEYERSON: And the story is told that Gerry McEntee, the president of AFSCME, sent some of his staffers around, just to check out the headquarters of the various candidates. And they reported back that, boy, you know, the Dean headquarters is where you've got people working 24/7. This is really the place where you find the intensity. And I think that mattered.

SCHNEIDER: Dean's signature issue, opposition to war in Iraq, resonated with these unions.

DEAN: Eighty-seven billion dollars a year for health insurance for every single man, woman and child. If the president can run that on our credit card and send the money to Iraq, he can put a health care right for every single people...


SCHNEIDER: Organized labor is famously pragmatic. But do they believe Dean can beat President Bush? Well, Dean's people say their candidate has a quality that George McGovern and Michael Dukakis and other new politics Democrats did not have -- toughness. If Bush hits Dean, Dean will hit back.

WOODRUFF: That's what it was sounding like today. We'll see. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, does the president of the AFSCME Union see it the same way? Up next, I'll talk to union chief Gerald McEntee about today's endorsements and what they mean for Dean.

Plus, a blast from the past. Can tonight's marathon Senate debate compare to famous filibusters of the past?

And later, the convention cruise that may not fly.


WOODRUFF: Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined thousands of Californians at a memorial service honoring a firefighter who died in the line of duty during last month's wildfires. Schwarzenegger takes office as governor on Monday.

His staff has been saying that he's been in private transition meetings for the past few days. But today, Reuters reported that Schwarzenegger and his family have been vacationing in Hawaii.

I spoke with a transition spokeswoman, Karen Hanretty (ph), who confirmed that Schwarzenegger has been on vacation, but she didn't say where. She also pointed out that the governor-elect is trying to balance work and family. She said this office sees no conflict between his being on vacation and being able to work at the same time.

By the way, INSIDE POLITICS will, of course, be live from the West Coast on Monday for Around Schwarzenegger's inauguration. Be sure not to miss it.

We'll be back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: In endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean today, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees surprised many people in labor and political circles.

Not long ago, the union's president, Gerald McEntee, was calling the Democratic field "murky." And there was no standout candidate.

Well, just a short time ago I asked McEntee why he is now convinced that Howard Dean can now beat President Bush.


MCENTEE: Well, I think the positions, Judy, he's taken thus far -- we think his position on Iraq when it wasn't sort of a favorite thing to do, took a tremendous amount of courage. I think -- we think, our union, anyway, that he's been proved right.

Electability has always been our main goal, as long as the candidates met a certain bar, which most of them do meet that par, whether it's health care or education, whether it's women's rights, or union rights. We think Dean is -- Dean is keen, if you will.

WOODRUFF: You know, you're very familiar, Jerry McEntee, with one of the raps on Howard Dean, and that is that he is simply the governor -- a former governor of a small state, that he's too liberal to get this nomination.

MCENTEE: Well, if you recall, Judy, where he started -- I mean, he was -- I guess he was running behind others as a governor of a small state.

When he was the governor, put into operation health care, as well as many other things, treated rank and file workers in most -- certainly an appropriate way. He has moved from being under others to the top of the pack. We believe that he is electable, that he can beat George Bush -- he can get the nomination and he can beat George Bush. WOODRUFF: But there's a large chunk of the labor movement that believes Dick Gephardt has a far better track record when it comes to issues that are important to organized labor, not the least of which is free trade. How do you -- what do you say to those in the labor community who are with Dick Gephardt?

MCENTEE: Well, we like Dick Gephardt. He's been on our side for a long, long period of time. It was a hard telephone call for us to make, to talk to Dick Gephardt. He was in the running for the nomination.

But, I mean, we went through an extensive procedure. We had a debate out in Des Moines. We had a town hall meeting in San Francisco.

WOODRUFF: You also flirted -- if I could just interrupt -- you also flirted with, looked at endorsing John Kerry, Wesley Clark. You even postponed an endorsement so you could take a longer look at Wesley Clark. What happened?

MCENTEE: I truly am a flirt. I must -- I must admit to that.

We were somewhat uncomfortable with the organizational structure of the general, although we have a great personal relationship. We were -- we were upset when they made the tactical and strategic decision not to go into Iowa. We thought it was wrong. I told him that. And as a result, the more we polled our people, the more meetings we had -- we even doubled back and sent -- asked to all the candidates to go back into Iowa and meet with our 25 folks who basically are the keys to the caucus operation in Iowa. And it was Dean. Dean all the way.


WOODRUFF: A quick amendment. When I asked Jerry McEntee if Dean wasn't too liberal to win the nomination, I meant too liberal to win the election. My mistake.

In any event, McEntee and his union provided critical early support to Bill Clinton in his 1992 White House bid.

Coming up, as senators get ready to face off in a 30-hour talk-a- thon over filibuster judicial nominees, our Bruce Morton will look back at some famous filibusters from the past.


WOODRUFF: Well, as we've said, it's expected to be a long night on Capitol Hill, as senators take part in a talk-a-thon on President Bush's judicial nominees. For 30 straight hours, Republicans and Democrats will swap charges over what was behind filibusters against four appeals court nominees.

Our Bruce Morton has more on filibusters in history.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the beginning and for more than a century, the Senate had a tradition of unlimited debate. That changed in 1917, when, at President Woodrow Wilson's suggestion, they adopted what was called Rule 22, which said that a two-thirds majority could vote to end a debate. Invoking cloture that was called. They did that for the first time in 1919, cutting off debate on the Treaty of Versailles, which had ended World War I.

Famous filibusterers? Well, Huey Long, Louisiana King Fish (AUDIO GAP) the Constitution with recipes for pot liquor, which is what you cook the greens in, and fried oysters.

First judicial filibuster? Republicans against then-President Lyndon Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. Cloture failed. Johnson withdrew the nomination.

Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest individual filibuster, just over 24 hours, talking against the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

But the longest ever, that was against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the law which ended legal segregation in the South. Fifty-seven working days. Six Saturdays. Senators were tough back then. Guys in their underwear, sleeping on cots in hallways.

(on camera): Those civil rights senators, those trying to break the filibuster, had to stick around in case the filibusterer suggested the absence of a quorum, a majority of senators. Without a quorum, the debate would have ended, everybody would have gone home. They'd have had to start all over again.

It ended finally with Everett Dirksen of Illinois, Republican, leader of the pro-civil rights forces, quoting the French author Victor Hugo, "Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come." Nine days later the bill passed and changed America.

(voice-over): Those were real filibusters on big issues.

Lately, it's lost its punch, almost as exciting as an invitation to tea. Senator A announces he intends to filibuster. Nobody works late. If there's a vote, it's scheduled in the daytime. And nothing ever interferes with plans for the weekend.

This week's little exercise isn't very taxing either, 30 scheduled hours. Remember 1964, guys -- 57 working days.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Nobody knows legislative history better than Bruce. I don't know where he got that 1919 video. We're going to have to find out if it was stashed in his office.

Well, the Republicans apparently have done an about-face on a controversial plan for housing some lawmakers and lobbyists during next year's GOP national convention.

The story when we return.


WOODRUFF: Some Republican leaders are throwing cold water on a controversial plan for next year's GOP convention in New York City. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was among those pushing a plan to park a luxury cruise ship in New York Harbor to serve as a floating hotel for Republican lawmakers and lobbyists. Well, "The New York Post" says that several Republican lawmakers are opposed to the plan. Among them, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who says it is inappropriate during wartime.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.


With Patrick Leahy>

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.