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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Earthquake Hits Central California; '04 Dems on High Alert?; Dean v Clark on VP Slot

Aired December 22, 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: The color of anxiety.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The strategic indicators suggest that it is the most significant threat reporting since 9/11.

ANNOUNCER: How are the '04 Democrats responding to the high terror alert?

A VP battle already? The squabble over what Howard Dean did or did not say to Wesley Clark, and why the dispute matters.

HOWARD DEAN (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not and have not offered anybody the vice presidency. I think that would be very presumptuous to do that.

ANNOUNCER: We'll talk to Wesley Clark.

Speaking of the VIP stakes, how far would Bob Graham go to get a shot at the number two spot?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

We're going to get to politics in just a moment. But first, we're following all the developments in California after an earthquake, magnitude 6.5, considered a strong earthquake, hit central California near the towns of San Simeon and Cambria, we are told. That's about 240 miles north of Los Angeles.

Some damage reported. We just heard my colleague, Kyra Phillips, speaking with a gentleman in that area, saying that all the books on the shelves in his house came down. There have been other people who have reported they felt strong shaking. One woman saying she felt shaking that went on for a good minute. It felt like a truck was rolling right by the building she was in.

So we are just, what, an hour and 15 minutes from this incident. A stronger quake hitting central California, located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Right now, we are gathering information, trying to learn as much as we can about the area that was struck and whether there were any injuries.

Let's quickly bring in my colleague, Charles Feldman, who is joining us from the Los Angeles bureau.

Charles, what more are you learning?

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, in the past hour we're told there have been some 30 aftershocks. Not unusual after any earthquake. Certainly not unusual after a magnitude 6.5. And aftershocks sometimes can cause as much damage, if any damage was caused by this one, as the initial earthquake.

It fortunately occurred in an area of California that is relatively sparsely populated. The county has about 250 full-time -- 250,000 full-time residents. But that's sparse considering that L.A. and San Francisco are very densely packed areas.

The only structural damage we have heard about is an historic clock tower that apparently collapsed. But no other structural damage has been reported. There have been no injuries that we've heard about, except The Associated Press reported earlier that some workers at a local winery might have been injured. But we have not been able to verify that.

They have evacuated San Simeon castle, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, which is a very big tourist destination. It is the legendary castle that belonged to William Randolph Hearst, who, of course, was the subject of Orson Welles' movie "Citizen Kane." It is filled to the brim with all kinds of artwork.

It was evacuated. We don't know if the castle itself sustained any damage. There have been reports of some power outages in the area, some 40,000 people now without power in the San Luis Obispo area.

There's also, Judy, a nuclear reactor nearby, the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant. We are told that it is operating and has no structural damage.

WOODRUFF: Charles, I'm going to interrupt you, because I'm told right now -- Charles Feldman, I'm going to interrupt. The U.S. Geological Survey holding a news conference right now. Let's listen in. This is in Menlo Park, California.

ROSS STEIN, USGS SPOKESMAN: ... 50 or so years. The last one of similar size occurred here in 1952. The earthquake caused only modest damage. But it has lit up for us a fault that's important to understanding how California works.

QUESTION: Which fault line are you talking about?

STEIN: Well, we're not certain at this point. But we believe the earthquake occurred on what's called the San Simeon Fault. It's not far from the Hearst Castle and the town of Cambria. And this fault extends to the south, where it's called the Hosgri Fault. It's essentially one very long fault that just kisses the coastline all the way from where California takes its northward bend, near Santa Barbara, up to the Golden Gate.

So this is a fault that's part of the San Andreas system. It's part of the process by which the entire Pacific slides northward relative to the continental United States, and on which we have occasional large earthquakes.

QUESTION: I see there's been already about a dozen or more aftershocks. And that's normal, right?

STEIN: For a magnitude 6.5 earthquake, we'd expect aftershocks starting at about in the low 5s. And we'll expect quite a few of them over the next days and weeks. So that's completely typical of an earthquake of this size.

QUESTION: What do you expect as far as aftershocks being felt here in the Bay area?

STEIN: I doubt we'll feel aftershocks here. We're still a very long way in the Bay area from this earthquake. If you lived in Cambria, it would be a different story, of course. And we don't expect that these aftershocks have a very high likelihood of doing damage.

Now, there's always the possibility of about five or 10 percent likelihood that one of these aftershocks will prove to be larger than the main shock. And then we'll change the game and we'll call this shock a foreshock. But that's, although possible, not likely.

The much more likely scenario is, we've seen the large earthquake. A 6.5 is certainly large. And what we'll see over the next weeks and months is diminishing frequency and size of aftershocks.

QUESTION: Well, it was felt all the way down from southern California to northern California. Why was it so widespread? Is it because of the depth maybe? It wasn't as deep, or, you know -- why was it so large enough to feel it all the way up here?

STEIN: Well, actually, I think people felt the 1983 Coalinga earthquake in the Bay area and in southern California, about the same size of event in more or less the same part of California. So you have a 6.5, you discover we're all in it together. It's part of the process.

And, in fact, for an earthquake of this size or larger, every single sand grain on the planet dances to the music of those seismic waves, which encircle the entire globe. So you may not be able to feel them, but the entire planet is rung like a bell from these seismic waves.

STEIN: You had mentioned that this fault quite possibly could connect to San Andreas Fault. Is there anything that you might learn from this that could help predict an earthquake here in the Bay area?

STEIN: Well, at its northern extremity, as you suggest, it connects up to the San Andreas earthquake. But we're a long way from that part of the fault. And the chances that this earthquake would trigger something that extended all the way to the Bay, are remote based on the kind of fault this is.

It's a little too kind of grungy and jagged to produce a through- going rupture like the San Andreas might. So we don't think this earthquake will really turn on or off or affect seismicity in the San Francisco Bay area.

Rather, we want to watch more carefully whether or not the San Andreas right here in the central part of California changes its behavior. You know, the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas is the closest to here, and that's an area that has produced magnitude 6 earthquakes every 20 to 30 years for almost 100 years now.

So we'll watch that area very, very closely. And it's the area where we're going to drill down to the depth at which earthquakes occur. And we have a fabulous set of instruments there. So far, nothing to report, except that we just have a typical magnitude 6.5 earthquake, which has fortunately occurred far from densely populated areas.

QUESTION: You said this is all preliminary information, where it was, on which fault line. What are you trying to determine -- you know, get your information that proves it was really on this fault line and this was the exact magnitude?

STEIN: Well, we have seismometers out all over California, and we have different kinds. And right now, we're using the seismometers that tell us where the fault is located. And you can see this string of aftershocks extending down to the southeast.

So that gives us a pretty clear sense that it's on one of these faults, part of this -- what we call San Simeon Hosgri system. But as we get more information, such as exactly how the ground is deformed -- because this earthquake is one in which we shove material under California and we push up the coast ranges, we'll begin to learn more about it. So we'll see how the ground is permanently deformed, the mountains have probably been pushed up a foot or so as a result of this earthquake.

We are getting in right now detailed information on the very strong shaking that affects buildings. From that standpoint, this is a wonderful opportunity for us. Here we have basically a research earthquake. It's not occurred in a densely populated area. But the kind of measurements we can get tell us what would happen if we put this earthquake of the same kind in a populated area.

QUESTION: Have you any reports of damage at the monitoring stations or other contacts reported to the USGS regarding damage in the San Simeon area?

STEIN: My understanding is there's only light damage being reported right now. But that's an incomplete message. So it may well be updated. I do know that there was no damage at Diablo Nuclear Power Plant, which extends about -- it's about, oh, 100 miles, 50 miles to the south of here. QUESTION: What would this research earthquake tell you about a similar earthquake in a populated area? What might it tell you?

STEIN: Well, for example, you look at the Northridge earthquake, about the same size. A hair larger, maybe twice as large. And it's a $40 billion event.

You take this earthquake and you put it out here, and this may be an event where the damage is measured in millions. And so what we would love to know is exactly how did the ground shake? And if we have a large structure on it, we'd want to know how that shaking passes up through the building and down.

You know, Northridge carried with it surprises. Two hundred of the best designed earthquake-resistant buildings had cracked welds (ph). Nobody knew about that. Nobody knew this was a weakness in the design.

Unfortunately, we're an experimental science and we can't plan on experience. So when this happens, the point is to figure out what it teaches us about how buildings can be designed better to withstand shaking and to measure that shaking, because we have far too few measurements of the kind of strong shaking produced by even an earthquake of this modest size.

So those measurements themselves, if we get a detailed enough set of them, will help engineers design buildings. What the engineers tell us is, give us measurements of exactly what the ground is doing, we'll design a building that resists that motion. So our part is to record it.

QUESTION: For people who are planning to travel to that area for the holidays, can you tell them what they might expect? If they're visiting San Luis Bay and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), San Simeon, et cetera, as far as the aftershocks, they may have some concerns about that.

STEIN: Well, I would say the chances that this earthquake will trigger something more dangerous, or larger, are very small. And so from that standpoint, one shouldn't worry about it.

It would be unfair not to say, however, that the chances that something larger will occur are now much higher than they were yesterday or before 11:15. Because this earthquake has triggered an aftershock sequence, and there's always the possibility that one of those aftershocks will be larger.

So somebody should be aware you're going into earthquake territory. And that means being prepared to deal with a power outage, strong shaking. You know, all the kinds of things that we need to have in the Bay area.

I hope everybody here has in the trunk of their car tennis shoes, a first aide kit, some food, some water, some gloves, a face mask. These kind of things one would bring along on that trip, too, as just part of the prudent way to live with earthquakes. And the flip side of that coin is, an aftershock could be a wonderful experience. It's kind of amazing when you feel the ground shake around underneath you. And as long as you're not worried about hazards to yourself, it's one of the wonders of the world, to feel solid rock behave like Jello.

QUESTION: So can you just reiterate the magnitude of this quake, how long it lasted, the epicenter, once again?

STEIN: We've had a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in central California on the San Simeon Hosgri Fault system. It's one of the less well known faults, part of the San Andreas system. And this earthquake did not, as far as we know, cause strong shaking.

It is producing a vigorous aftershock sequence, the largest of which is magnitude 4.7, which is certainly an earthquake that you will feel if you are in Cambria or something like that, but not enough to do damage. So it's behaving like a garden variety magnitude 6.5.

And what we've learned is you put an earthquake like that in a town of Coalinga in 1983, as occurred, and you have several hundred million dollars of damage. You put an earthquake like that under Los Angeles, and you have tens of billions of dollars of damage. You put it out here in a relatively remote place, and fortunately there are not many immediate consequences.

QUESTION: And how long did it last?

STEIN: I don't know how long the shaking lasts. But a typical 6.5 would shake strongly for about 10 or 12 seconds. It depends how clean the rupture was, whether or not it just zipped from one end of the fault to the other, or if it kind of bumped and grind, which they occasionally do.

From the aftershock pattern, it looks like it just went that way in kind of a simple one way rupture. But in terms of the strength of the shaking, I'm not aware of anything unusual.

QUESTION: You had mentioned that it was a garden variety 6.5. Was there anything unique about it, especially since the fault line runs in the ocean?

STEIN: Well, perhaps what's most unique about it is that this is an earthquake in which the Pacific sea floor is jamming its way underneath California and shoving up the coastline. So if you've ever driven this beautiful coastline, you're always impressed how steep it is, how mountainous it is. The San Luis (UNINTELLIGIBLE) range is almost impenetrable.

Well, that's why. It gets shoved up in successive earthquakes. And, in fact, Charles Darwin was the first person to go ashore in 1835 from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) after a large magnitude 8 earthquake and realize that the coastline had been uplifted -- in that case, about eight or 12 feet during an earthquake -- and look up at the Andes, 15,000 feet up, and said, wait a minute, this is how the Andes are built. It's not Noah's flood. It's successive earthquakes. He was right on it, and we're just seeing a small version of that happening here.

QUESTION: So if this lasted 10 or 12 seconds, let's say, those of us who were in high rises in San Jose maybe felt shaking or rocking up to a minute long. What's the dynamic of that? How does that work?

STEIN: A tall building is a lot like a wand with a weight on the end. OK? So imagine a wand of metal with a metal ball at the end. So if I start shaking it down here, and I just do that for 10 seconds, this building is going to start to sway back and forth. If I shake it back and forth at its resonant frequency, which means that I perfectly matched the timing of its math going back and forth, it will really exaggerate those motions and continue for some time.

It's identical when you're pushing a child on a swing. Unless you push him just when you're going down and forward, they're not going to build up their swing. But if you do that just right, you can go for quite a ride. And so people in tall buildings, if those buildings are of the proper height for the frequency of the waves, have an exaggerated experience.

QUESTION: It was quite a ride.

QUESTION: Maybe this would be a good time to remind people what they should do if they do feel an earthquake.

STEIN: I think one of the take-home messages for earthquakes like this is it's a reminder that we need to be prepared. That California is a wonderful place to live, and the small cost we pay for this is we need to be prepared for earthquakes.

And that means everybody needs to have a communication plan. So how do you get in touch with your family and you say, "All clear," or "I'm all right."

You need to have in your car, for example, tennis shoes, a little rucksack with some warm clothes, some food and water, a first aide kit. Gloves so you can dig out somebody from a building. You know, one of those surgical facemasks, as we all know now after 9/11. There's a lot of dust in the air when a building goes down.

And that these things are reasonable, simple precautions to take. The same kind of thing we'd want in our house. I'd throw in flashlights to the picture. But just those kind of things which will never be a problem, will always be a benefit to have in your car.

QUESTION: And during the precise moment of shaking, what is your advice?

STEIN: I wish we knew more about the proper way to survive a really large earthquake. This is not a really large earthquake. The simple message is to get under cover as quickly as you can.

And if the earthquake occurred now, I would duck, because this podium is probably strong enough to protect me if the roof fell. I wish we knew more about exactly where the safest places in buildings to go. But it's something that we should think about beforehand.

You know, if you work in a building, find out. Typically it's the elevator shafts which are the strongest interior part of the building to go to.

QUESTION: Can you give us your name again, please?

STEIN: Ross Stein.

QUESTION: Doctor?

STEIN: Only my mother calls me that.

QUESTION: But you are...

QUESTION: Excuse me, Ross...

QUESTION: What is your title?

STEIN: I'm a geophysicist.

QUESTION: Again, tell us what you think is unique.

QUESTION: Basically, what happened, for those of us that came a little bit late? Just the basics.

STEIN: OK. Let's wait for that cell phone to die. So we've experienced a magnitude 6.5 earthquake.

WOODRUFF: We've been listening to Ross Stein. He is a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He's holding a news conference in Menlo Park, California, not too far from San Francisco, talking about the magnitude 6.5 quake that hit central California this afternoon, 11:15 in the morning, California time, 2:15 East Coast time.

It hit right in the area where you see that earthquake Cambria legend on the map here, in the Cambria-San Simeon area, pretty much right in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The quake could be felt in both cities and up and down the coast.

We heard Mr. Stein say this is a large quake, but he said -- he went on to call it a research earthquake, because he said it was in a low population area. He said if it had happened in a big city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, the damage would have been far worse, presumably the injuries would have been far greater.

A 6.5 earthquake, a large quake. He said there has been shaking, a little bit of damage. But he said the reports of exactly what the repercussions are from this quake, still coming in.

Once again, we're going to continue to follow all the developments from that California earthquake falling in the center of the state near San Simeon. Meantime, back to INSIDE POLITICS. And we want to tell you that coming up, the heightened terror alert is coming just days after some of the '04 Democrats criticized President Bush's homeland security record. Take a look at what they're saying now.

Plus, Wesley Clark weighs in on the increased alert.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Continuing to follow developments in California after a strong earthquake hit central California just about an hour and a half ago, 11:15 California time, 2:15 Eastern Time. It hit right in that area you see in the Cambria-San Simeon area, between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Modest damage reported. So far no injuries report the. CNN attempting to get more information. And we'll get that to you as soon as it gets to us.

And now we're going to turn to INSIDE POLITICS and tell you that now that the terror alert level is back on high, the last thing many Americans want to think about is politics as they travel and celebrate the holidays. They just want assurances that they will be safe. But on the brink of an election year, practically every move by the Bush administration does have political implications.

CNN's Kelly Wallace begins our coverage with a look at how the '04 Democrats are dealing with the terror threat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Democratic presidential candidates appear to be trying to walk a fine line on the issue of homeland security. Frontrunner Howard Dean in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Monday, refused to say anything about the increase in the nation's threat level. This after he blasted the Bush administration with this comment last week...

DEAN: But we are no safer today than we were the day the planes struck the World Trade Center.

WALLACE: Senator Joseph Lieberman, who today moved into new temporary digs in Manchester, applauded the Bush team for its move.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They made the right decision. They had enough intelligence information to make me worry about the possibility of another terrorist attack.

WALLACE: Other candidates taking a more critical approach. Retired General Wesley Clark said the decision to raise the country's alert status is "further evidence that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are a continued threat to America," and said, "We must return our focus to the war on terror." Senator John Edwards in a statement Monday said, "If President Bush were truly serious about homeland security, he would do more than increase the threat level. He would increase support for cops and firefighters in our communities."

That point echoed by Senator John Kerry, who said, "When the threat of terrorism is increasing, I'll do more than simply issue an orange alert. As president, I'll make sure that towns and cities don't have to bear all the burden of increasing security."

The balancing act for Democrats, analysts say, trying not to campaign on fear, while at the same time, seizing on an issue that could score some points against a president who is currently enjoying a bounce based on the economy and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The White House is vulnerable on homeland security and national security. But the last thing any of the Democratic presidential hopefuls want to do is to take an overtly partisan or political position on terror or the war. And so they have to finesse it. They have to talk about their concerns without seeming unpatriotic or disloyal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And there is another reality the Democratic candidates must contend with. This at least according to a poll carried out in September, when Americans were asked which party they thought would do more to protect the United States from acts of international terrorism. More Americans tended to choose Republicans than Democrats -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kelly Wallace, thank you very much.

And now we turn to a he said-he said dispute in the Democratic presidential race. At issue, did Howard Dean approach Wesley Clark about being his running mate a few months ago? Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, reports on the flack and vice presidential prospects in the future.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Did so, did not. Four-year-olds on the playground? No. Presidential candidates Wesley Clark and Howard Dean on the campaign trail.

At issue, whether when the two met in September, just before Clark decided to run, Dean asked Clark to be his running mate. Did so, says Clark.

WESLEY CLARK (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a matter of fact, he did offer me the vice presidency. And what I told him was, that's not the issue. The issue is whether I'm going to be the commander in chief.

SCHNEIDER: Did not, says Dean campaign manager, Joe Trippi. JOE TRIPPI, DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, that's not what happened. We continued to -- we had a great relationship with him, talking about advice on the war and other things. But that never came up.

SCHNEIDER: Did so, the Clark campaign said in a statement. "Howard Dean did in fact offer Wes Clark a place on the ticket in a one-on-one meeting that Trippi did not attend." So there.

But Dean had the last word. Or at least the latest word.

DEAN: I did not and have not offered anybody the vice presidency.

SCHNEIDER: Wesley Clark's international experience might be a good fit with Howard Dean. The former Vermont governor said yesterday, "I need to plug that hole in the resume. And I'm going to do that with my running mate."

Clark is a retired four star general and supreme NATO commander. Clark's also a southerner. Clark's also got strong ties to Clinton loyalists, many of whom are working for his campaign.

Putting Clark on the ticket would help heal the wound that Dean opened last week, when he seemed to dis Clinton's record. If Clark becomes the "Stop Dean" candidate, could the two men ever join forces? It's been known to happen. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson competed for the Democratic nomination in 1960.

NARRATOR: Democrats, however divided among themselves they may have seemed, stand ready to join ranks.

SCHNEIDER: Ronald Reagan put George Bush on the ticket after the two competed for the 1980 GOP nomination.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm more than proud to present to you our candidate for vice president, your neighbor and fellow townsman, Ambassador George Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: You know, there are 10 reasons why you choose someone to be your running mate. Reason number one, pick someone who will help you win. The other nine reasons don't matter -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. We're going to remember that, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: OK.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

Well, you heard Wesley Clark talking about it. I'm going to ask Wesley Clark about all this again about this vice presidential dispute. And Clark will share his views on the heightened terror threat level and how the administration is handling that.

Plus, he dropped out of the presidential race and he's leaving the Senate. So why is Bob Graham so busy trying to improve his image?

And Joe Lieberman's new home away from home.

INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Another update now on that strong earthquake to hit Southern California, rather, central California this afternoon, magnitude 6.5 striking in the area of San Simeon, Cambria, California. You see it there on the map. Pretty much right in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We're told there has not been a great deal of damage reported. However, some of the heaviest damage said to be in the town of Paso Robles. Let's listen to what a witness in Paso Robles had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In an area where the center of town is, a two story building collapsed completely. In that area where the damage occurred, all the bricks that collapsed crushed about, I don't know, eight or nine cars. Beyond that, you really can't get anywhere. The power is out. Everything is like a bottleneck. Just getting out of that area is probably a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just getting informations about the clock tower. Is that the same building that you saw?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was the clock tower. Underneath it was a jewelry store and just below it to the right is a bakery. And from what we saw, it looked like the whole side of the building just -- the top of the building just slid off onto the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there any indication that you could see that there might have been people trapped inside this building? Were you able to even concentrate on your surroundings as you tried to get to safety?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I couldn't tell. To be honest with you, the fire department was there. They had pretty good control over what was going on. But due to the amount of damage, it will be awhile before they find out whether or not anybody was in that building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you describe what you felt, the kind of motion that you felt when it struck?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife and I were taking our morning walk down Spring street, which is the main thoroughfare in town. And it hit like a shock wave from a bomb blast. Almost knocked us off our feet. You could hear the sound. It was just a loud -- almost like an explosion. As soon as we turned around, we could see people running out of the buildings onto the street.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We're listening to a witness in the town of Paso Robles, California, talking about what he felt when that earthquake hit just about an hour and 45 minutes ago in central California, magnitude 6.5 earthquake.

With us now on the telephone from Sacramento is Ruth Coleman, the director of the California State Parks Service. Ms. Coleman, I understand you've been on the phone with people at San Simeon, which, of course, is the historic home of William Randolph Hearst, the Hearst castle, right near the epicenter. What are they telling you?

RUTH COLEMAN, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA PARK SERVICE: Well, actually, we have fairly good news, at least as far as the structure goes. We've not been able to identify any structural damage. Julie Morgan lived through the 1906 earthquake so when she designed this building, she made it extra, extra strong so we are cautiously optimistic about the building itself.

There are some artifacts that have fallen down and so what we don't know is whether we'll be able to put them right back up on the walls or whether some damage occurred. We may have had some minor artifact damage.

WOODRUFF: Ms. Coleman, what else are you hearing, just quickly, about any damage or injuries in the rest of the state?

COLEMAN: We haven't heard of any injuries or any difficulties at all in our state parks. We have another historic site which we've closed for precautionary purposes. But in the general vicinity, we have not heard any stories of real severe injuries.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ruth Coleman, who is the director of the California State Parks Service joining us just now from Sacramento. Thank you very much for talking with us. Again, CNN monitoring all the information coming out of California in the aftermath of this magnitude 6.5 quake.

Turning back to INSIDE POLITICS right now. Bush administration is urging Americans to go about their business despite the decision to raise the terror threat level. It's a familiar balancing act for the White House, trying to appear in charge and vigilant without pressing Americans' panic buttons.

Here now, our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, first of all, how is the administration going about this balancing act? That's really what you have to call it.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Judy. It's a very tough job for this administration. On the one hand, President Bush, by example, is trying to convince Americans they should go out and celebrate the holidays. President Bush, today, attending a number of holiday celebrations in the area.

But on the other hand, of course the administration is trying to tell people that, look, this terror alert is much different than what we have ever seen before. It was earlier in the day that President Bush met with his homeland security council, those are top officials from intelligence, State Department, law enforcement, all briefing him about the action plan when it comes to the security threat. Earlier today, Secretary Ridge really emphasizing just how important it is for people to pay attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is the conclusion of the intelligence community, general consensus within that community, that all the strategic indicators suggest, from the volume, really the level and the amount of reporting has increased. We've never quite seen it at this level before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Now also that level of reporting, we are told that the information is more credible, that they're able to corroborate a lot of those different reports. However, the administration is saying they do not have specific information about the type of target or type of method of attack, although they do say they believe that al Qaeda, because of the chatter, might use a familiar method of using airplanes as missiles as we saw in 9/11.

But the administration at the same time saying, look, Americans are safer than they were several years ago, they have reinforced the cockpit doors on international flights, they've increased security at the borders, at the airports, and other places of national interest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think what's important for the American people to know is that the federal government is working hard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to do everything we can to prevent an attack from happening. Even more importantly, the president of the United States took decisive action after September 11 to prevent attacks from happening by taking the fight to the enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And he's referring to, of course, overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan, he's talking about the Iraq war. He also says that two-thirds of the al Qaeda leadership have either been captured or killed -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much, reporting from the White House.

Right now let's talk about the politics of the terror alert and more with Republican strategist Scott Reed and Democratic strategist Doug Schoen. Scott, I want to begin with you. What are the political repercussions both for the president and for any of these Democratic wannabes?

SCOTT REED, GOP STRATEGIST: First of all, as you report on your show, this is serious, serious business and anybody that thought that the Bush administration has been playing politics with the war on terrorism now can put that to rest because as you can see from this today, this is big business.

This is a heavily traveled day. The beginning of the Christmas holiday. And, obviously, when you see someone like Tom Ridge go out and make a statement like that, having talked to the best and the brightest in the intelligence community, everybody has to take this in a very serious way, even the Democrats that are running for president.

And when you hear a comment like Senator Kerry who's a member of the U.S. Senate, talking about a preparedness gap, you've really got to think there's a real rush to the bottom here by all these Democrats to try to one-up this president. It's going to fail because that's not what the American people look for in our leadership.

WOODRUFF: So Doug Schoen, is that right? There's really nothing the Democrats can say?

DOUG SCHOEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's a little bit more complicated. Because on the one hand, Scott is right that we face a very, very serious challenge and I think all Americans want to work with the president to have a secure and safe Christmas.

On the other hand, I think it's fair to say, as people have, that we are less secure than we were a couple of years ago. We haven't broken the back of al Qaeda. And it is a legitimate question in the presidential election, though certainly at a time like this, I think it's right that we have to pull together around the president.

WOODRUFF: Well, but for Democrats, can't they at least make the argument, if they believe as John Kerry has, I want to come back to you, Scott, on this, if they believe more money should be spent on homeland security, why isn't that a legitimate point for them to make?

REED: I think it a legitimate point to make. What you're seeing here is a lot of comments that have been made in the last couple of weeks. Now we're faced with a real issue, a real threat, the level is up to orange. Nobody really knows what the orange level means except for the men and women in law enforcement and it does cause some confusion to the American people.

But I will just say that, you know, Kerry's comments and some of the other comments you showed earlier, really if they think they're going to pick up votes by doing this, I think they're in for a surprise because while there are times and places to raise legitimate issues like funding levels, which everybody should be able to raised, there's no interest in this piling on on the Christmas week. Big mistake.

WOODRUFF: I just quickly want to turn you both to the Democratic horse race. And, Doug, about Howard Dean's, the perception that he's the front runner, does anybody have a hope of catching up with him in the weeks to come? We've got, what?, five weeks to go before Iowa.

SCHOEN: I think the simple answer is, Judy, is yes. We haven't had a vote cast. John Kerry is moving up in New Hampshire. Iowa's neck and neck between Gephardt and Dean. And in the South and Western states, General Clark represents a real threat. So I don't think Howard Dean has this nomination locked up by any means -- though he certainly is the front runner.

WOODRUFF: How does it look from your Republican perspective, Scott?

REED: Dean is obviously the undisputed heavyweight champion of 2003. He's won the month of December between the Gore event and the capturing of Saddam Hussein. Everything is now frozen until the week of January 5. And there will be two weeks between that and Iowa.

I think there are opportunity opportunities for these guys to come on. I don't see them coming on. There's a lot of fight to be the alternative to Dean.

The problem Dean's having this week and Wesley Clark are having this week is they're out publicly musing about strategies of their campaign when that's not what people want to see when they look to elect a president of the United States. They're having some problems.

WOODRUFF: Doug, you agree, this whole thing is frozen until after the holidays?

SCHOEN: I think that we are in a dynamic political situation. The one thing we've learned in 2003 is that events intrude, candidates are able to campaign through the holidays.

So I think we're in a more dynamic situation than Scott suggests. It may well be the next month or so will be very, very competitive.

WOODRUFF: All right, gentlemen. We'll leave it there. We appreciate both of you. Doug Schoen and Scott Reed. Good to see you both.

Still ahead, Wesley Clark on the war on terror and whether Howard Dean made an offer he could refuse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Just a short time ago I spoke with retired General Wesley Clark while he was campaigning in South Carolina. I began by asking him if the terrorism alert is an appropriate subject for the presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARK: I think it's a critical subject for the presidential campaign. First, the very fact that the terror alert has been raised back to high ought to be sending alarm bells through America. It means that the efforts we've put in over the last two years haven't been sufficient. And our principal effort of course has been to go after Saddam Hussein.

At one point, the president even wanted to say Iraq was the central front in the war on terrorism. But it clearly is not. It wasn't. And many of us have been saying for well over a year, that this was going to be a distraction from the war on terror, that it wasn't going to help us win against Osama bin Laden.

And that's what this Orange alert shows to me, that we've been putting our resources into the wrong area. We should have been going after Osama bin Laden in Western Pakistan, we should have stayed with him until we got him.

But instead the administration distracted us and took us to war, an unnecessary war that we didn't have to fight in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: So do you agree, not enough money's been spent on homeland security?

CLARK: I think all the studies show that. But it's not only a matter of money, it's a matter of leadership, Judy. We don't have the right policies in place. We don't have the standards yet out. We're missing a lot of opportunities in the area of cyber security and bio- defenses as well as in response, first responders.

It's not only money, it's leadership and standards and the right distribution of resources to really be able to improve American security. It's not there yet.

WOODRUFF: General Clark, you're obviously in South Carolina campaigning for the presidency. But I want to clarify something about this vice presidential offer, so-called. You have said that Howard Dean offered you the slot as his running mate. He today is saying he never did that. Set us straight. What happened? Did he or didn't he?

CLARK: Well, we had a private meeting. And I told him that the key thing for me was to decide whether I was going to run for the presidency or not. He said, Well don't you want to know what the alternatives are?

And at first I said, No. And then I said, OK, well fine, go ahead and tell me but that's not going to affect my decision. He said, Well I'm thinking, you know, the vice presidency, and that kind of thing. It wasn't like, sign on the dotted line.

But it was discussed, it was discussed by him. It was brought up by him in a very positive fashion. And it's not something I've ever seriously considered.

But I think the point here is that his campaign has used this for some time as an effort to sort of buttress his national security flank by saying I might be his running mate. My point is, I'm running to be president of the United States, not to be his vice president. And I'm getting a lot of traction on that.

WOODRUFF: Just to be clear, then, he didn't formally offer you the job or the post as running mate, as his vice presidential running mate, if he gets the nomination?

CLARK: No. But just to be clear, he made the offer. Nobody's going to formally offer that position until the whole process is gone through. But let's put it this way, as I said yesterday, it was dangled out there and discussed. I mean it was offered as much as it could have been, I think.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something else Governor Dean is saying. He said his lack of foreign policy experience, he said this today, is clearly a problem on his resume. He said it's a problem he can fix by choosing a running mate with that kind of experience. Would that fix that problem for him?

CLARK: No, it doesn't because when you're dealing with foreign policy, you're really dealing with matters of experience and judgment. And having other people tell you what to do is no substitute for having been there in the arena yourself.

What we have right now in the president of the United States is a Governor who had no foreign policy experience,and didn't know very much about things beyond America's borders. And a lot of the people believed that with Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, that would work.

But it doesn't work when the advisers disagree and the president who doesn't know much has to make the decisions. It can get your country into a lot of trouble.

And that's why I believe that you need a candidate who's got foreign policy experience and also can lead on domestic issues. That's why I'm running.

WOODRUFF: Well we know you're going for the nomination yourself. But if it were to go to Howard Dean, if he were to ask you specifically this time to be his running mate, would you accept?

CLARK: Well, Judy, he did specifically dangle it out the last time. And I'm running to be president of the United States. So I want to make that very clear.

And I want the people to understand what my qualifications are. I believe that this country needs strong leadership, it needs leadership abroad and at home. It can't be performed by the vice president, it has to be the responsibility of the president to provide that kind of leadership. And that's the leadership that I'll bring to the office.

WOODRUFF: So are you saying he's not telling the truth when he says he didn't offer it to you?

CLARK: Well, it depends how you define offer. I'm just saying, it was discussed and dangled, it was offered about as much as it could be offered.

WOODRUFF: OK.

CLARK: But I don't know why he doesn't want to just come out and say it about the discussion are. I agreed I'd keep the discussion quiet. And I've never made anything out of this until right afterwards he began to talk about it. There's all kinds of news releases where his campaign's put out the idea I might be his vice presidential running mate. But what I've said consistently is, this is about running to be the president of the United States. That's it. That's why I'm running.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Wesley Clark, you heard it yourself. He says he's not running for vice president, but what about Bob Graham? Does the retiring Florida senator have his eye on the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket? We'll consider Bob Graham's political future when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

PETER WALLSTEN, "MIAMI HERALD": ... that was aired at that convention and then again last week at a Democratic National Committee fund raiser, that same video was played. He had a prominent speaking role with Hillary Rodham Clinton. He's been all over the place.

In addition to that, his own family, his daughter is heavily involved now with the Dean campaign. She as senior adviser to Howard Dean.

WOODRUFF: Is there concern on the part of the family and the people around Senator Graham that he was hurt, that his whole political image was hurt by his dropping out of the race and frankly his decision not to run for the Senate again?

WALLSTEN: His family won't acknowledge that he was hurt at all. But certainly if you talk to Democrats and Republicans around the state, they feel that he was. Bob Graham remains still very popular in Florida, but not as popular as he was before he ever ran and before he started attacking the president.

He's somebody who's built a career in Florida because he's been a moderate. He's been a centrist. He was never outspoken on wedge issues. Yet during his campaign, he was out front attacking the president on the war in Iraq.

Florida's a moderate state. It's worth pointing out all three Democrats running to replace Bob Graham say they would have voted for the war. Graham voted against it. So his numbers flipped.

WOODRUFF: If there is a sense that he wants this vice presidential slot for the Democrats, then why didn't he at least say he was going to run again for the Senate?

WALLSTEN: It opens it up for new blood in Florida. I believe that he and his family felt this was a way he could continue on the national stage speaking out in a way he felt comfortable without having to worry about his own personal political future.

WOODRUFF: Talk about his daughter. Her name is Gwen Logan. She was involved with his campaign, now she's pretty deeply involved in the Howard Dean campaign. What exactly is she doing?

WALLSTEN: She's acting as a senior adviser to Howard Dean. She's talking to him about how he can boost his image in the South. Gwen Logan is being mentioned as a possible candidate for public office in the future, perhaps for Congress. She lived in Tallahassee for many years with her husband. They moved to Miami to work on her father's presidential campaign.

She's a lawyer, very politically savvy, now involved with the Dean campaign. She insists that has nothing to do with her father's ambitions, that her father wants to remain out in the public debate and she's acting on her own.

WOODRUFF: But you're seeing it a little more complicated than that.

WALLSTEN: Right.

WOODRUFF: We'll leave there. Peter Wallsten, thank you very much with "The Miami Herald." Good to talk with you.

We know politics can be a tough and even profane business. Next, Wesley Clark's answer to a question about how he will handle attacks on his reputation. It's not for tender ears.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As George W. Bush and John Kerry know well, profanity sometimes slips out on the campaign trail. The latest candidate to make himself perfectly clear is Wesley Clark.

After a weekend in New Hampshire a man asked Clark what he'd do if other candidates attack his military reputation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to take the offensive and not allow either any of the other Democrats or George W. Bush to allow like (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and/or Shally Cashvilly's (ph), any of those Army guys that didn't appreciate you rising to the top and not use that against you? are you going to take the offensive?

CLARK: Of course I am, I'll beat the (expletive) out of them.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Yes, General, that was on television, and we just shared it with everybody. At least the relevant part.

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

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



Alert?; Dean v Clark on VP Slot>


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