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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

The Electability Question: Dogging Dean; Iraq Contract Flap: Bush on the Defense

Aired December 11, 2003 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: He wants to be the Bush camp's worst nightmare. But is Howard Dean really the Republicans' dream opponent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing better than that for the Republicans.

ANNOUNCER: We'll tackle the looming question: Is Dean electable?

On edge about electronic voting.

REBECCA MERCURI, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: ... many local election officials, all the way on up, are confused by this.

ANNOUNCER: Is the new generation of voting machines as problem- filled as the old?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's very simple.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush defends his policy on reconstruction contracts in Iraq, but critics still aren't buying it.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that limiting contracts to companies that gave aid is an enormous mistake. I think it borders on the stupid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

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

Most of the top Democratic presidential candidates are making a final scramble for donations, endorsements and good PR before their campaigns virtually shut down for the holidays. But Howard Dean is taking the day off, publicly, at least. The prerogative apparently of a frontrunner who's been on quite a roll. Still, for all of his gains, Dean cannot shake the electability hanging over him and his party.

Here now, our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The Democratic race has come down to one issue, the one raised at the beginning of Tuesday night's debate.

TED KOPPEL, MODERATOR: So I would like all of you up here, including you, Governor Dean, to raise your hand if you believe that Governor Dean can beat George W. Bush.

SCHNEIDER: Only one hand went up. Dean believes he can win by leading a movement of new voters. Barry Goldwater was a movement politician. So was George McGovern.

Uh-oh. The White House claims to be worried. But privately, Republican analysts say Karl Rove could not have designed a better opponent for Bush to run against.

DAVID BROOKS, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I have spent a lot of time talking to Republican pollsters, privately and a background basis, and saying, is there any of the major Democratic candidates who would be easier to beat than Howard Dean? They all say no. Dean's the easiest to beat.

SCHNEIDER: Dean's Democratic rivals have started to raise the electability issue, carefully. Dean has no international experience and no military record.

WESLEY CLARK (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to be the party that can stand toe to toe with George W. Bush on national security.

SCHNEIDER: Joe Lieberman says he could pull the Democratic Party back to the left on many issue.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign for the Democratic nomination is fundamentally a referendum within our party about whether we're going to build on the Clinton transformation on our party in 1992.

SCHNEIDER: He is the only governor to have signed a gay civil union bill. Al Gore urged Democrats to nominate Dean in order to, among other things, make an anti-war statement.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... he was the only major candidate who made the correct judgment about the Iraq war.

SCHNEIDER: But it may be hard to unify the Democratic Party around the idea that the war was a mistake.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Candidates who rely on building their own constituency of new voters often face a huge challenge. But you know, Ronald Reagan was a movement candidate, sand he won. Some analysts think to elect Dean, only one thing is necessary: a discredited incumbent, like Jimmy Cart in 1980 and Bush's father in 1992. Those were both years when supposedly unelectable candidates, Reagan and Bill Clinton, got elected. The current President Bush is not in that kind of trouble. At least not right now.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you.

A new poll out today underscores the "is Dean electable" question. Although he has a wide lead over fellow Democrats in New Hampshire, Dean trails President Bush by 27 points in the Granite State, according to the latest survey of voters statewide.

More news from the '04 Democrats in our "Campaign News Daily." Wesley Clark is celebrating his biggest one-night fundraiser yet. And his top supporter in Congress made his endorsement official.

New York Congressman Charles Rangel and two other House members formally endorsed Clark this morning in Harlem. Rangel championed Clark as a presidential candidate long before Clark entered the race. The New York congressman introduced Clark last night at a fundraiser in Manhattan. The campaign says about 600 people attended the event, which brought in about $1 million.

John Kerry unveiled his plans for reforming the mutual fund industry this morning in a speech in Boston. Among his proposals, Kerry said he wants so-called market timing by stock traders to be illegal. The practice is already banned by some fund management companies because it often hurts the profits of long-term investors.

John Edwards is taking his campaign message to the sports audience. Edwards appeared on ESPN 2's "Cold Pizza" this morning, where he shot a few hoops and discussed his allegiance to North Carolina sports teams. He said he cheers for NC State in football and for the North Carolina Tar Heels in basketball. He made it clear he is not a fan of the Duke Blue Devils.

At a fundraiser today in Virginia, President Bush told donors that he's loosening up and getting ready for the campaign. But at the same time, he may be feeling a little tense about the controversy over his policy on reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

Let's check in now with our senior White House correspondent John King.

John, what is being said right now?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president defending the policy today in the face of criticism for many corners around the world. Another diplomatic dust-up now over Iraq and some political criticism here at home.

At issue, of course, this decision by the United States to give nearly $20 billion in U.S. reconstruction contracts in Iraq only to companies that are from the countries that are participating in the U.S.-led coalition. War opponents, France, Russia, Germany, have all cried foul here. The Canadian government complaining as well. Mr. Bush defending the policy today in his final cabinet meeting this year. The president saying it makes perfect sense to him that those that took military and political risks should get the business now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It's very simple. Our people risked their lives. Coalition -- friendly coalition folks risked their lives. And therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that. And that's what the U.S. taxpayers expect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Criticism overseas from the countries effected in Russia, in Germany, in France. Some questioning whether this meets with international law. The president scoffed when asked about those complaints today. And here at home, some political criticism as well. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of the Democrats running for president who says this is, to them, another example of a diplomatic misstep by the Bush White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I think that limiting contracts to companies that gave aid is an enormous mistake. I think it borders on the stupid. It is counterproductive. It is the exact opposite of what we should be doing in order to bring other countries into the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, again, the president, though, defending the policy today, although officials here at the White House do concede the timing was a bit awkward, Judy. This policy coming out, the tensions inflamed again, if you will, with key countries around the world, at the very moment the president is asking former Secretary of State James Baker to go to Paris, to go to Moscow, to go to Berlin to try to get those nations to forgive or at least relieve, lower much of Iraq's longstanding debt to them. It makes Secretary Baker's mission all the more complicated now -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: At the very moment they're trying to calm things down, this stirs things up a little bit.

KING: Yes, it does.

WOODRUFF: OK. John, thank you very much.

Well, as we head toward another presidential vote, many election officials around the country can't help but flash back to the ballot troubles of 2000. Their high hopes for new electronic voting devices appear to have given way to high anxiety. Our technology correspondent, Daniel Sieberg, spent some time with e-voting experts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The voter inserts the card here. They just press to make selections. They press the cast ballot button, and then...

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If only it were that easy. Electronic voting has become a hotbed of debate. And with less than a year before the presidential election, many technical experts have deep-rooted concerns. In particular, security and the lack of a paper trail.

This week, for the first time, players on many sides of the thorny issue gathered at the headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, NIST plays a key role in improving voting systems by 2006.

But what about next year? Well, Harvard University's Rebecca Mercuri says it doesn't look good.

MERCURI: Really, 2006, I think, before we're really going to start to see equipment that actually is more updated with updated standards.

SIEBERG: The main reason is because certifying and implementing electronic voting machines can best be described as Byzantine and bureaucratic. And any changes to the federal standards could take months if not years to put into place.

MERCURI: It is confusing. And the main concerns that I have is that many local election officials, all the way on up, are confused by this.

SIEBERG: NIST, along with other technical groups and advisers, are now updating those high-tech guidelines, hoping to give states and counties and voters more confidence.

(on camera): Well, following the debacle in 2000 with the hanging chads in Florida, many counties across the country decided to purchase some new machines, some high-tech machines, like the ones that are on display here behind me. But many political observers say they jumped the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are recommending to the counties that they do not buy equipment right now until we have standards as been set forth by the NIST group.

SIEBERG (voice-over): This agency has been looking at electronic voting for decades, which is partly why Congress turned to them for guidance. But NIST cannot enforce those recommendations.

ARDEN BEMENT, DIRECTOR, NIST: I want to stress that NIST is a non-regulatory agency. And we recognize that our role is limited. It is essential that we be in close contact with a variety of interested parties.

SIEBERG: But with at least three reported flaws in electronic voting, just this year, casting a shadow on the casting of votes...

MERCURI: No one appears to be held accountable. Officials are not removed from their posts, fined or sent to trial. Vendors are not banned from participation, equipment is not recalled.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIEBERG: Well, because of harsh criticisms like that, equipment makers are trying to boost their profile and instill confidence in the technology. This week, they formed their own council to address some of those security concerns, and they do plan to work jointly with groups like NIST -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So Daniel, with all these concerns about this high- tech kind of voting, what are the benefits?

SIEBERG: Right. You start to wonder what all the positives are. And, of course, there are meant to be some.

First of all, one of the major ones is it's meant to help disabled people cast a ballot in secrecy without any assistance whatsoever. That's something that many of us take for granted. You know, ultimately, it's meant to make the process more efficient and more cost-effective. But it's going to take more time before that happens.

WOODRUFF: OK. Daniel Sieberg, thank you very much.

Well, many Democrats are asking questions about the direction of their party. Up next, the DNC chairman in the hot seat. Would Howard Dean be his ticket to victory, or defeat?

Should Republicans be celebrating Dean's successes? Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan face off on that one.

And later, how African-American voters may determine which Democrat has a prayer in South Carolina.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The big political news this week has been Howard Dean's endorsement by former Vice President Al Gore and how that is affecting the Democratic race.

Joining us now with his view, the Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

All right. I've heard you say already, because you've been talking about this, that this doesn't cinch the nomination for Howard Dean. So let me turn the question around very quickly.

There are already those who are saying it may even hurt Howard Dean, because it may cement his frontrunner status so early, that it, in effect, gives the other candidates an opportunity to overtake him. How do you see it?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Possible. I said it was a very significant event, obviously, when the vice president endorsed Howard Dean. But I remind you, Judy, we're 39 days away from Iowa. Not one vote has been cast.

I don't believe that people should get out of this race. Let the voters decide this. These candidates have been traveling this country for a year in kitchens, talking to people, talking the issues. Let the voters decide.

WOODRUFF: But could this have been too soon? I mean, this was extraordinarily early for the last party nominee, Democratic Party nominee for president, to come forward and anoint someone, in effect.

MCAULIFFE: Well, the only thing I would say is, the vice president did tell us that he would probably do an endorsement, he would probably do it in December. I think he was leaving for a two- week vacation, and I think he wanted to do it, get it out of the way, be done with it. And he believes where Howard Dean stands on the war.

But you know what? Endorsements -- you know, endorsements are endorsements. It ultimately comes down to who is going to get people to go to the polls. And that's what matters. I wouldn't make too much of endorsements.

WOODRUFF: All right. What about all that we're hearing, Terry McAuliffe, about weather Howard Dean can beat George W. Bush? You surely have Democrats calling you. There are plenty of Democrats in the Bill Clinton circle. You talk to them all the time.

What are they saying to you about their concerns that Howard Dean may not have what it takes?

MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, President Clinton is not going to endorse anybody. He has offered advice equally to all nine candidates, in fairness to the president. And people are trying to create issues between Gore and Clinton.

They don't exist. And he wants a Democrat to win. He wants to beat George Bush.

So put the president aside for a minute. It's early in the process. If Howard Dean were the nominee -- we don't know that today -- Howard Dean would be a great nominee. Any of the nine would be a great nominee.

WOODRUFF: But you acknowledge there are Democrats right now who are worried about his electability?

MCAULIFFE: Sure there are. I get many calls a day. But you know what? He is perceived now to be the frontrunner, so people are now focused on that.

We go through this all the time. Whoever is the perceived frontrunner, people say, oh, this candidate can't win, that candidate. Howard Dean has excited a lot of passion around the country. He's raised a lot of money, he's built a lot of grassroots support. You know, I have to be equal towards all the candidates.

I don't know who's going to do it. But clearly, the Republicans are getting nervous, clearly they're trying to define our candidates. And I'm not going to let them do it, put us in these ideological boxes.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about the McCain-Feingold ruling. The Supreme Court upholding the new campaign finance law. A lot of people say this puts Democrats at a real disadvantage, even though your party was largely behind it.

MCAULIFFE: Oh, yes. Our party pushed it. But clearly, you know, we're never going to have as much money as they're going to have, Judy. No question about it.

But I've got to tell you, yesterday, when I got the call from my lawyer that this is what had happened, I got to tell you, it validated what we've been working on at the DNC for the last two and a half years. I took a lot of criticism because I said we're going to invest in the future of the party, we're going to build the infrastructure.

We paid off the $18 million in debt, we built the new headquarters, we built voter files, we built the data file. We're now debt-free for the first time in our history.

We are prepared. We're ready to go only because we made those tough challenges. So I have $10 million in the bank today. The DNC has never had money. We're never going to have as much money, Judy, as they're going to have, but...

WOODRUFF: But with these independent third-party committees, the so-called 527s, the Republicans are saying the Democrats are every bit as deep-pocketed as we are with this outside money that's going to be spent.

MCAULIFFE: Well, I'll be very frank, and I've said this on television. This has been my problem from McCain-Feingold all along, is you've taken the money away from the national political parties, and people who relied on us to do it aren't going to get the money that they used to. And a lot of outside groups are going to do it.

These Republicans have set up these C-3s and C-4s with nice names: Progress for Growth for America, Taxpayers Unions. They don't disclose their donations. And I think it's wrong, Judy.

You give me a check, and you know what? If a candidate or if voters don't like it, they can say it. This money is now going to these outside groups with no disclosure about income or expenditures. And so I've got real problems, obviously, with the legislation.

But you know what? We made the changes we had to with the party to prepare ourselves. We're in the best shape we have ever been at the DNC. I need a nominee, no question. But once we get that nominee, we're off.

WOODRUFF: A confident chairman of the Democratic Party.

MCAULIFFE: You bet. Let's get at it. Let's go.

WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe, great to see you.

MCAULIFFE: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for coming by.

MCAULIFFE: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it. We'll talk to you again very soon.

MCAULIFFE: OK, you bet.

WOODRUFF: The outline of 2004 presidential contest seems to be getting clearer. But what surprises could lie ahead on the road to the White House? Next, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will join me to talk about President Bush, Howard Dean and even Ralph Nader.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

All right, Bay, I'm going to start with you. There was a story going around that Karl Rove over the summer cheered at a 4th of July parade when somebody talked about Howard Dean. Is Howard Dean the dream candidate for Republicans?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, Judy, you always want to practice up to a game as if it's the toughest candidate around that you'll be working against. And that's what they're doing now.

They're saying, oh, no, you never can tell. And then there's this unknown factor that he has this excitement and enthusiasm around his campaign. But the bottom line, in my opinion, is Donna and her friends are going to need Moses to get him back out of the wilderness when they finish with Dean if he's the candidate.

WOODRUFF: Is Dean Moses?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, we still need some Moses, but Karl should be careful for what he prays for. I mean, back in 1980, I'll never forget, we prayed for an unknown B-rated actor to come on the stage on the Republican side, and look what happened. Ronald Reagan won.

So I'm not convinced now that Karl Rove and the Republicans should be celebrating this early about the 2004. This is going to be a close, tough election. And Dean is electable, as well as the other candidates. BUCHANAN: I think what his real concern -- the real problem right now for the Democrats is, you have Bush. He's got a good story to tell, and has a good personality. Dean is angry, his people are very angry themselves. And his story is not a good one.

He's got a lot of problems there. He's got some inexperience. He shoots from the hip all the time. I think that's where you have -- you're going to have a real tough time beating Bush with a Dean.

BRAZILE: Well, since she started off with Moses, let me give you another scripture. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but joy cometh in the morning. Dean will bring joy if he wins the nomination back to a Democratic Party base that's been floundering.

So I wouldn't necessarily think that Dean is going to lead the party into the wilderness. I think Dean will get his groove and ultimately reach out to moderates and broaden his appeal.

WOODRUFF: A little bit more on that. Gore and Dean this week talking about that it's the right thing to appeal to the Democratic base and not to worry about reaching out to those swing voters. Is that a smart strategy that they were talking about?

BUCHANAN: Well, they're in a primary right now, and in a primary that's how he's going to win it. He's reaching out, he's getting real excitement amongst that base, and they'll come out for him. But you're not going to win a general election that way. You can't possibly win the general election.

Bush has got a lot of the middle. He's got the independents; very, very strong support with the Independents. He's got Republicans solid. He's picking up some of the Democrats, in my opinion, who are for that war. I don't know how you can win with just that baseline.

WOODRUFF: But hasn't the country polarized a lot?

BRAZILE: It's polarized, but, look, you have to solidify your base, enlarge it, empower your base, and then spread out and broaden the appeal to the middle and to moderate and to Republican who will find Howard Dean's appeal, as well as the other Democrats, very exciting next year.

BUCHANAN: But you know what I think is interesting, and I think it's overlooked right now, at least in the last week or so, is if you read the polls, they show that Dean support is very educated, a wine and brie crowd. They don't go to church, tend to not go to church at all.

And if that's the case in Iowa, as Donna will tell you, as well as I can, you have a big snowstorm on the 19th, and they will not be out in those caucuses. I think Gephardt still has a strong chance of winning this thing. His people will be there.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about Ralph Nader real quickly, Donna. He's authorized an exploratory committee to go out and raise money. What affect does he have if he gets in? BRAZILE: Well, first of all, there are a lot of Democrats, including the chairman, who is reaching out to Ralph Nader, to try to encourage him to sit this one out, so to speak. But if Ralph Nader decides to get back in the race, my recommendation is, later Nader.

I believe he'll get less than two percent of the vote. He will not have the same appeal that he had in 2000 in drawing votes from Al Gore. And Democrats will be able to bring home all of its base into n 2004.

WOODRUFF: He hurt the Democrats?

BUCHANAN: He clearly hurts Democrats. This is an anti-war, tree-hugging crowd. And that is not Republican. It never has been.

So even if it is only two percent, of course the anti-war people would stay with Dean. I don't see why they would move with the Green Party. But even if it's one percent or two percent, if it's in those key states, again, the Republicans could win states that should be Democratic.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, see you next week.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, Howard Dean's big week doesn't mean that things are all over for the other candidates, as we've been saying. Coming up, we'll hear from a congressman who is doing all he can to make sure that Dick Gephardt's star is rising in Dixie.

And some well-entrenched members of Congress are suddenly finding their jobs in jeopardy. We'll consider the ever-changing lines of congressional districts.

INSIDE POLITICS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: South Carolina on their minds. That primary battleground is gaining importance, and so are African-American voters, who may not be enthralled with the Democratic frontrunner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe Dean needs sunshades and a saxophone. I mean, I'm not sure. I mean, he needs something that says, I understand where you are.

ANNOUNCER: A spoiler in 2000 ponders a second act in '04. Will the green Party's Ralph Nader run for president again?

The dating game. Did Dennis Kucinich hit it off with his would- be first lady? Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. We turn our attention right now to the New York stock exchange, where you can see the number, the Dow Jones Industrials closing over 10,000, the Stock Exchange closing just this moment, closing over 10,000 for the first time in better than a year and a half.

Let's turn quickly to CNN Financial Reporter Alan Chernoff. Alan, we talk all the time about a psychological barrier. Just how much of a barrier is this?

ALAN CHERNOFF, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it is a psychological boost no question about that. We should also note that in the final minutes after 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, the number can change somewhat, but it does look as if we are, in fact, going to get a close above 10,000.

Now we've not had a close above 10,000 in two and a half years on Wall Street. So this really signifies to all of America, to Main Street, that the bull market is back. Although this is certainly a very different bull market than the one that we did have in the late '90s.

Of course, Wall Street has been very much sobered, all the corporate scandals, the accounting scandals, corporate executives indicted, some in jail now. So, Judy, it is a different world but nonetheless, the Dow has climbed back. That's important.

WOODRUFF: All right. Alan Chernoff joining us from New York and also making the point that sometimes those numbers settle down in the few moments after 4:00 Eastern. We'll, of course, watch to see what happens. Right now, as you can see, 10,007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as he said, closing at this number, the first time in two and a half years. Alan, thank you very much.

Back to now to INSIDE POLITICS. The battle to influence African- American voters in South Carolina is heating up today as more and more Democrats see that primary as a possible last stand for Howard Dean's rivals.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm Jim Clyburn. I've seen dick Gephardt's concern and commitment up close. As Democratic leader, he fought the Clinton's economic plan (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 22 million jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: This Dick Gephardt TV ad featuring influential South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn was unveiled today. It is airing statewide. And there is word today that former United Nations ambassador and civil rights trailblazer Andrew Young, plans to endorse Wesley Clark. Young is scheduled to appear with Clark later this month in South Carolina.

INSIDE POLITICS traveled to South Carolina to talk to African- Americans American voters to talk about the first in the South primary coming up February 3.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: We are all in this together.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Sunday, Columbia, South Carolina. Democratic front runner Howard Dean after the endorsement of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Hands wave "African-Americans for Dean" signs. But most of those hands are white.

Last Tuesday, the Bible Way Church of Atlas Road. About 1,000 people have turned out for bible study. Pastor Darrell Jackson draws six times that number on Sundays.

REV. DARRELL JACKSON, BIBLE WAY CHURCH: I've got to go to church.

WOODRUFF: The church is getting a lot of visitors these days, candidates looking to woo African-Americans who could make up half of the vote in South Carolina's Democratic primary.

And the man who faces the steepest climb may very well be Dean.

JACKSON: Maybe Dean needs sun shades and a saxophone. I mean I'm not sure. He needs something that says, I understand where you are. I may not be who you are, but I understand what you're going through.

Bill Clinton and feeling the pain was very significant.

WOODRUFF: There is no Bill Clinton figure this time around, no white candidate who connects with blacks on such a profound level that he's almost embraced as one of their own.

This time, the hopefuls demonstrate their commitment vicariously through the African-American officials who endorse them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The two most familiar candidates to me, like I said, are Gephardt and Edwards.

WOODRUFF: Winning black votes in South Carolina is a top priority for both. Dick Gephardt's prize supporter is Congressman Jim Clyburn, South Carolina's top black official who brings with him a formidable organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to say to everyone, vote Edwards.

WOODRUFF: The senator boasts an impressive list of local black supporters. Pastor Jackson, who was also a state senator, was once on that list, but no more.

JACKSON: A lot of us are concerned with finding a candidate that we think could represent all of the people and do well in the general election. And I'm not sure if Edwards is that candidate or not.

WOODRUFF: But Wesley Clark may be, say some in the pastor's flock who cite the former general as the right man for these times. The war has touched this church, from the soldiers who have gone to fight to the children they've left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They miss their parents. And a lot of time, they will be saying they want their fathers to come home.

WOODRUFF: And then there's the wildcard, the candidate who has no money and little organization, but threatens to capture a sizable portion of South Carolina's black vote.

JACKSON: Al Sharpton is going to have an advantage with African- Americans because he looks like us, he talks like us, he walks among us.

WOODRUFF: But what of Dean? Why isn't he on the minds of more African-Americans here?

JACKSON: I think his problem will be the whole connection thing.

WOODRUFF: Al Gore's endorsement may help with that, but Reverend Jackson says even Gore is no Bill Clinton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Joining us now on the telephone from South Carolina, Democratic Congressman and Dick Gephardt supporter, Jim Clyburn.

Congressman Clyburn, a lot of people thought, all right, the Al Gore endorsement for Howard Dean, that's going to cinch the nomination, practically, for him. But it's not, in your view?

CLYBURN: No, I don't think so. I think that this campaign is still wide open in South Carolina. I think for the first 24 hours after the endorsement, Al Gore sort of resonated a little bit.

But I've been hearing different stories today. People are now looking back at the candidates, looking at people's experiences, looking at their resume. I think that Dick Gephardt has a real good chance here in South Carolina. I'm going to do everything I can to help him.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, why is it that members of the Congressional Black Caucus so far are divided? By my count, Dean has something like five endorsements among your fellow members of the caucus. You and one other member have endorsed Dick Gephardt with whom you've served for such a long time. How do you explain that?

CLYBURN: Well it's easy to explain. I think that most people kind of reflect what they consider to be the interest of their constituents. And I don't care who it is that I may support. If you remember the other one was William Clay Jr., and he's from St. Louis and people expect that. I think that people are waiting to see exactly how things shake out in these other states. Even with me. I know full well that even with my help in South Carolina, it's not going to do a whole lot of good unless Dick does well in Iowa. I think that the real test for Dick Gephardt is, in fact, in Iowa. We have the infrastructure in place to do well in South Carolina, but that isn't going to help if he does not do well in Iowa.

WOODRUFF: In other words, I hear you saying if he doesn't either win or come across very convincing in Iowa, South Carolina -- your endorsement in South Carolina could mean something less than what it appears right now?

CLYBURN: What it would otherwise -- absolutely, because people tend to want to be with a winner. People don't want to be left out when the train is coming through.

And so if it looks as if there's a big train riding from Iowa through New Hampshire down to South Carolina, you know you're going to be in with six other states on that one day.

So Delaware is in play, Missouri is in play, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma. All these states are going on that same day.

WOODRUFF: All right. Congressman Jim Clyburn from the state of South Carolina making it clear that Iowa is still the place to watch for Dick Gephardt. Congressman, we thank you very much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

CLYBURN: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: Many Democrats apparently still hold a grudge against Ralph Nader after his Green Party bid for the presidency took votes away from Al Gore in 2000. Now we know that Nader is thinking about running for the White House again. He's in New Jersey today raising money, talking about his options.

CNN's Kelly Wallace joins us from Princeton. Kelly, what is he saying?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we talked to Ralph Nader a little bit ago. And he says he is testing the waters and that he will ultimately make a decision by sometime in January.

But he also says this. That if he can get enough volunteer support and raise enough money, he says there is, quote, "a high probability he will run."

But that being said, Ralph Nader faces a number of challenges. One you just mentioned. Anger from many Democrats who believe that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 2000 election, that he took votes away from Al Gore, especially in Florida, where Ralph Nader, the long-time consumer advocate, got 97,000 votes. And Democrats fear if Nader runs in 2004, he could cost Democrats the White House again.

Well, Ralph Nader says his goal here, if he runs, would be trying to preserve the right of a third party candidate. And he says Democrats have nothing to be afraid of.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER (G), FRM. PRES. CANDIDATE: But I say to the Democratic voters, the following. If you think that a third party candidacy is going to take away votes and cost the Democrats the election, you've got the power entirely within your own franchise, when you go to the voting booth and vote for the Democrats.

So I'm looking for that huge independent vote, which is one third of the voting turnout, and the 100 million non-voters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Another challenge for Ralph Nader, the polls. According to the survey conducted in October, 23 percent of Americans polled believe Ralph Nader should run, but 66 percent saying they don't think he should.

And finally, there is the Howard Dean factor. Howard Dean's candidacy appealing to young voters, many people frustrated with politics as usual. Some political analysts think Dean supporters now may have been Ralph Nader supporters back in 2000 Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly Wallace, bottom line, we know that in a close, close election, even a few votes going to a third candidate can make a huge difference. All right, Kelly, reporting from Princeton, thank you very much.

Drawing a line against gerrymandering. Texas Democrats accuse Tom DeLay of trying to draw them out of office. Our Bruce Morton updates the controversy over redistricting.

Outside groups increase their influence on the race for (AUDIO GAP)

And will there be a second date? Dennis Kucinich has breakfast with the winner of the "Who Wants to be a First Lady" contest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Who gets elected to Congress sometimes depends on who draws the district boundaries. Our Bruce Morton reports on the legal battle in Texas that could have political repercussions nationwide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called gerrymandering because Elbridge Gerry once draw a district shaped like a salamander. It is the process of drawing congressional district lines no matter how weird they look so that your party wins the districts.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Redistricting is the most political form of politics. It involves one party trying to stick it to another party in the drawing of congressional districts.

MORTON: State legislatures used to draw the lines every ten years after the census. But in 2002, when Texas Republicans won control of the state house, Congressional Republican Leader Tom DeLay launched a drive to redraw them again. Democrats fled, trying to block a vote but failed and the new lines could cost the Democrats seven seats in the U.S. House.

One of them, Charlie Stenholm's, a conservative Democrat in his 13th term.

REP. CHARLES STENHOLM (D), TEXAS: What caused them to draw the map for me as they drew it being was the fact that I as a Democrat had the audacity to win 51-47 in a district in which President Bush carried 72-28. You know, that is not permissible.

MORTON: Stenholm's home and his farm were both in his old district, the 17th. Now, his home is in one proposed district, his farm in another. He says redrawing the lines more than once every ten years is unconstitutional.

STENHOLM: If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds holds this process, then we'll see it happening every year until the next census.

MORTON: And both parties increasingly draw safe districts for their members. Maybe two dozen of the 435 house districts will be really competitive in 2004. And those safe seats go mainly to left- wing Democrats and right-wing Republicans. It makes Congress more partisan.

ROTHENBERG: Those members of Congress don't have to woo moderates or move to the center when running for office so they don't have to be in the center when they're serving in office.

MORTON (on camera): The Texas case is in federal court in Texas. Colorado Supreme Court rejected a redistricting plan. And Here at the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices this week heard arguments on a Pennsylvania case. They are likely to have the last word on this issue.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: All right. Well as we head toward the presidential primary season, special interest groups across the political spectrum are an increasingly powerful force on the television airwaves.

For a little bit more, I am joined by our consultant, Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence. His group tracks ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets. Evan, let's first of all talk more about these issue ads. How many more of the are we seeing this cycle than we saw in the last presidential election?

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: Well we've been under the campaign finance rules for a year now and we've seen over 20 groups spending about $6 million so far just on the presidential election. So really we've had an explosion in the number of groups and even the number of dollars.

WOODRUFF: Now, let's then talk about -- let's be more specific. What are you seeing in terms of dollars?

TRACEY: Right now, we have groups that are spending anywhere from a couple of million dollars down to just a couple thousand dollars, really. And again, it's a lot of the audition process we've had set up. We most recently have seen the Howard Dean crossfire where you had him being attacked from the left and the right with Club for Growth spending $10,000 in Iowa and New Hampshire. And then the Americans for Jobs, Health Care and Progressive Thinking spending a lot more attacking him on his NRA rating, where they're spending about $100,000 in Iowa just in about five days.

WOODRUFF: Now you have to keep a little note card with you to keep up with the names of all these groups, right, because most have eight words in their title?

TRACEY: I looked up on my way over and stopped counting at 115 of these new 527s that are going to be predominant as we get into next year.

WOODRUFF: All over the map.

All right, separately, Evan, let's talk about the Supreme Court decision this week upholding the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform. What is that going mean for television advertising this year?

TRACEY: Television is not going to be taken out of the process. It's still the biggest megaphone that these groups have at their disposal. What you're going to see is what we've seen in the past where the groups spend a lot of time with their lawyers and their consultants crafting what messages are in bounds in the so-called blackout periods of the 30 day and 60 day. We'll see a little bit of a calendar movement along the rest of this year and into next year.

WOODRUFF: You're referring to that period of time when it is legal to...

(CROSSTALK)

TRACEY: The blackout periods are really designed so that these issue groups can't run negative ads where they name specific candidates' names in the 60 days before a general election or the 30 days before a primary.

So what we'll probably see some of these groups recraft their messages to where they're calling candidates by name right up to the 60th day, and then will go to drive more agenda with sort of topline messages that say vote for candidates that support our issue, either environment, guns, whatever it's going to be.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have these ad watch folks keeping -- being very vigilant over the months to come. TRACEY: It really will. It's going to spread out across the country.

WOODRUFF: All right, Evan Tracey, TNS Media Intelligence, great to see you.

TRACEY: Thanks. Great to be here.

WOODRUFF: See you next week.

With one exception, Al Gore is not going to win any popularity contests among the Democratic presidential candidates this week. Up next, Bob Novak opens his reporter's notebook and tells us who else is on the receiving end of Democratic hard feelings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak here now with some "Inside Buzz."

All right. You've been talking to everybody. What's the fallout from the Gore endorsement of Dean?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": There's an awful lot of Democrats who have a little bit of a backlash against Gore. They didn't like the way he did it without notifying Joe Lieberman or his former supporters.

A little backlash against the press for saying it's all over. These people don't think it's all over. Many have not endorsed anybody. They want to see a competition to test Dean, whether that John Kerry has to do a lot better to be one of the competitors, but maybe Clark or Gephardt would.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well there's enough worry about Dean, though, that you're hearing that a group of Democrats are looking at a way to beef up any Democratic ticket to help in the South. What are you hearing?

NOVAK: I'm told that recently a group of fairly high-level Democrats started wondering whether to go with Dean or any non- Southern presidential candidate. The person would be former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia who sort's of a Democratic Cheney. He's considered moderate, he's an older head, he's been -- went out of politics some years ago to make money. Has made a lot of money. National security. Be an ideal guy on the ticket.

Would he go on the ticket? I don't know, but it's kind of intriguing and idea, Nunn for vice president.

WOODRUFF: Democratic Cheney?

NOVAK: He's 65-years-old.

WOODRUFF: Well, he's very young. Democratic Cheney. You may have coined a term there.

All right, Pennsylvania. A battle for the U.S. Senate seat there dividing Republicans.

NOVAK: Yes. Liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter being challenged by conservative Congressman Pat Toomey. And I'm told that Brent Bozell, the media research service, has resigned from the board of the American Conservative Union because the long-time ACU chairman, David Keene, has endorsed Specter.

I also hear that Toomey is holding back names of prominent Reagan-era cabinets members who are supporting him, they're going to go into Pennsylvania at the first of the year. So this has the ear marks of being a real race between Toomey and Spector.

WOODRUFF: So we could see blood-letting.

NOVAK: Lots of blood, Republican blood.

WOODRUFF: All right. More and nothing is -- bluer or redder than that.

All right, finally, a final fund raiser for George W. Bush.

NOVAK: In the Washington area, was held at noon today. We like to talk about these fund raisers. This was out at Tyson's Corner, which is way out in the suburbs of Virginia at the McLane Hilton Hotel.

Now, why would they have a fund raiser way out there in the middle of nowhere? Because that's where the money is, Judy.

And there was the same old rules, however, that they had in the city. For $1,000, you just get a seat. For $2,000, you get a good seat. And if you pay -- if you raise $20,000, you get your picture taken with George W. Bush out in Tyson's Corner.

WOODRUFF: And you were there, right?

NOVAK: I was not there.

WOODRUFF: And you were not there.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Well, you know, in California, McLane, Virginia wouldn't be that far out. But in Washington, it's a long way.

NOVAK: It is.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bob Novak, see you later.

NOVAK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The only bachelor in the presidential race held something of a tryout for first lady this morning. We're going to go looking for a different kind of campaign chemistry when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: This just in to CNN from Iraq. Loud explosions have just been heard in the last few minutes in central Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. We are told that sirens have been sounded in the area of Baghdad housing the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition. We are trying to get more information. We're going to have a live report from there in just a few minutes. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Picking up on the story we just told you about moments ago, loud explosions have been heard in central Baghdad. Let's bring in our correspondent, Nic Robertson, he's on the telephone. Nic, tell us what

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we still don't have any confirmation from the coalition as to what may have caused these explosions. We're located about half a mile from what's known as the Green Zone in the center of Baghdad. This is the area of the coalition's main headquarters.

We heard about four loud explosions within the last ten minutes going off. Our camera position, you're looking at now, that looks down on that Green Zone area, on the coalition headquarters, we can see some smoke rising. The detonations appear to have come from within the Green Zone, within the coalition headquarters.

And shortly after those detonations were heard a siren went off. These sirens have recently been installed by the coalition in that area to warn them of any potential problems within the compound.

We, as I say, don't yet have details from the coalition as to what it may be. Security experts with us here believe the sound could be attributed to mortars, possibly as many as four mortars landing within the coalition's large headquarters in the center of Baghdad -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Nic, tell us a little bit more about what would be found at the headquarters. Are these simply offices, or is any of it residential? What is there?

ROBERTSON: A large, sprawling complex. It is offices. It is home to thousands and thousands of employees within the coalition. This is where Paul Bremer's office is and accommodations are. This is where many of the senior civil administrators who work with the new ministries that are being set up in Iraq. There are many troops who are also based within that complex.

This was Saddam Hussein's main Republican Palace complex within the center of Baghdad. It sprawls perhaps about a mile and a half, two miles long. So a mile or a mile and a half across. It's a very large area.

Some of the people who live there, some of the coalition workers who live there live within some of the former palace buildings. Some of them live in cabins outside those buildings. So the accommodation quite varied.

And it has been a concern, over the last month or so, since that headquarters has been mortared on a couple of occasions, at least, there has been a concern, particularly for those people outside.

I've talked to people who live within the coalition headquarters there and they say it's a concern. Should we live in the crowded accommodations inside the Republican Palace buildings that are still intact, that weren't bombed during the war? Or should we live in, perhaps, the more roomier accommodations outside?

But these accommodations outside are made of wood. They're not particularly strong and don't afford a lot of protection. So it has been a concern for people living there -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Nic Robertson reporting for us live from Baghdad where it's just after midnight. Loud explosions heard in Baghdad, in the area where the U.S.-led coalition headquarters are located.

As you can tell, details just coming in. We're attempting to get more information. We'll get to that to you just as soon as we can. There will be more at the top of the hour on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

For now, that's it from Washington. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" coming up.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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