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American Opinion: The Democratic Field; Interview With Joe Lieberman

Aired January 2, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Casting the anti-Dean, it's the role of a lifetime for the other '04 Dems. But are any of them close to nabbing it? We'll have the results of our exclusive CNN-"TIME" poll.

He's lagging in the polls but hoping to make up ground with an appeal to the center. Senator Joe Lieberman joins us to discuss his White House run.

And, we'll introduce you to the politico known as G Dog.

GORDON FISCHER, CHAIRMAN, IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I'm pretty much working dawn till dawn.

ANNOUNCER: It's crunch time for Gordon Fischer, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party.



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. I'm Candy Crowley. Judy is off today.

With the holidays now behind them and a compressed primary mayor season straight ahead, the Democratic presidential hopefuls have returned to the campaign trail. Crunch time, you might say, has arrived. The latest poll by CNN and "TIME" Magazine sheds some light on how Americans and the Democratic faithful view the frontrunner, his rivals, and where the country is headed.



CROWLEY (voice-over): It turns out the season to be jolly really was. Sixty-five percent of Americans say things are going well in the country these days, a 12-point increase in happy campers since November. Maybe it's a holiday glow or a Saddam capture warm feeling. Maybe it's for real. Whatever, it's a big bang way for the president to start out his reelection year.

There is reason for merriment in the Dean camp as well. The well (ph) money frontrunner is, well, even more the frontrunner. Twenty- two percent of registered Democrats picked the former Vermont governor as their fave. He is eight points more popular than he was in November. Everyone else in the top tier seems to be idled or sinking.

Now, about the un-Dean, the candidate with the best chance for a come-from-behind surprise, the good news for Wesley Clark is he fares best against Dean in a head-to-head. The bad news is Clark still trails Dean by 14 points. John Edwards comes in as the un-Dean least likely to succeed. He trails the frontrunner by 29 points in a two- way match-up.


CROWLEY: But for all the candidates searching for some mo while sinking inside a double-digit gap, there is a figure of hope, 52 percent. That's how many Americans say they're paying some only a little or no attention to the 2004 election.

With me now for more on the new poll, Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst.

I'm told you're struck by the Clark-Dean figures.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Clark-Dean figures are very interesting because they show Dean starts out with 22 percent of support among Democrats. So a lot of people say, well, if we want to stop Dean, that's almost 80 percent of Democrats who aren't supporting him right now.

That's a pretty good stop Dean movement. Except, if you try to get it behind one candidate, it doesn't work. The candidate who is strongest is Wesley Clark. But as the poll just showed, Dean has a very clear margin, a very solid margin over General Clark. So it's pretty clear that Dean actually reflects the views of most rank and file Democrats more than any of the other contenders.

CROWLEY: So is they're anything else in the poll that sort of stuck out to you?

SCHNEIDER: Education. This was a very dramatic finding. Dean's support goes up very dramatically with education. The best-educated Democrats are his strongest supporters.

Look at this. Among non-college educated Democrats in a match- up, Dean versus Wesley Clark, it's a tie. Among Democrats who went to college but didn't finish, Dean leads Clark by 17. Among Democrats who are college graduates, Dean has a 36-point lead over Wesley Clark.

He must have 100 percent of the people -- of Democrats with Ph.Ds. This is something we've seen before. He's clearly got the upscale Democrats. The downscale Democrats aren't so sure about Dean right now, but they're really not rallying to any of the other candidates.

CROWLEY: In fact, I think on college campuses, where Dean gets a lot of his money in that hierarchy. Let me ask you another question. That is, when you look at these poll numbers, is there anything in them that says, ah, Dean's soft spot, here's where its rivals should go?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think the area where he seems to have the most problem is seniors, and that's where Dick Gephardt has really been going after him in Iowa on the Medicare issue. Seniors are undecided. Like Democrats who didn't go to college, senior Democrats are now about split between Dean and Clark. They have the most doubts about Dean, and he's going to have to make some effort to convince seniors he's really going to go out and swing for them, because Gephardt has seen that as a weakness and is running on it.

But what seems pretty clear is the upscale wing of the Democratic Party, the "yuppie wing," is solidly in Dean's corner. Any Democrat who wants to stop Dean is going to have to rally working class Democrats, older Democrats, and Democrats who aren't part of what our friend Ron Brownstein once called the Starbucks ghetto of the Democratic Party.

CROWLEY: Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Thanks, Bill. See you later.


CROWLEY: Iran today turned down an offer by President Bush to send a government relief mission to the earthquake devastated city of Bam. The U.S. moved quickly to provide aid after last week's quake killed about 30,000 people. Administration officials had said senior -- Senator Elizabeth Dole, a former president of the Red Cross, probably would have led the delegation, and that a Bush family member might have been included. According to a State Department spokesman, Iran said due to the situation in Bam, it wanted to hold off on the mission for now.

Security concerns have prompted the cancellation of more international flights bound for the United States, and some flights have been escorted by fighter jets after entering U.S. air space. Joining me for more on these developments, our Justice Department correspondent, Kelli Arena.

Kelli, let me start out first by -- I know that you have a real good sense in talking to your sources of how they're feeling about things. Is there a difference in their tension level between pre- Christmas and post-Christmas?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: A little bit. I mean, the general concern level is still very high. But the dates that they were working off of, which was something right around Christmas and then New Year's Day, have obviously passed without incident. And so there's less anxiety.

But the tension level, still very high, Candy. You had those two flights from British Air cancelled, flight 223. There was very specific intelligence regarding British Airlines and that flight number. That information coming from a variety of sources, including a human informant.

So it takes the level of credibility up a notch. So stuff like this continues to come in. We saw a movement against AeroMexico. We saw a movement against Air France. The concern about an aviation attack very real, very credible.

The problem is, there's no timing attached to anything. So I don't know if it's just general wariness that they've just been dealing with it every day, and so now it's a sense of, all right already, maybe nothing is really going to happen and maybe we're just connecting dots that aren't there, or if they really feel that that window of opportunity was shut for a while, for al Qaeda, or another terrorist group.

CROWLEY: So what's the -- is there a baseline of concern? I mean, it can't be one specific flight every day. Is there something that most concerns them or that they're looking for as they try to connect these dots?

ARENA: Well, I can tell you, Candy, that a counter-terrorism official that I got off the phone with just about an hour ago put it in the best terms that I've heard. He said, "Kelli, look, this is what we know. There's a lot that we surmise. This is what we know."

We know that al Qaeda wants to pull off a spectacular attack. Now, whether that means something that's simultaneous across the country or something even larger, like, god forbid, a chem-bio attack, they don't know, but they know that they want it to be spectacular. They know that al Qaeda and related groups wanted to do something that will absolutely hit the U.S. economy very hard.

And the new message seems to be, despite all of the protective measures and the increased security that the United States has put into place, al Qaeda and related groups want to show that the U.S. remains vulnerable. That's the baseline that they're working off of, that's what they know. But in terms of a source, method, target, time, that's still up for grabs.

CROWLEY: So it sound like maybe we'll be in orange alert for a while? It's hard to imagine how you would ever come off that baseline and have it...

ARENA: Well, that's why you've never seen it go to green. I mean, it's always yellow or elevated usually.

The expectation is -- the general consensus seems to be that we'll stay at orange through at least most of the month of January. As I said, that window ending on New Year's Eve has closed.

Now, did they postpone an attack? Did they outright, you know, just -- is that done, is that operational phase -- you know, they said, oh, we couldn't do it then, we can never get all the pieces together again to pull off something like that, we'll have to go back and restart at the drawing board, who knows? Who knows? That's all guesswork.

But at least through most of this month, they expect to remain on orange. And, of course, you know, I open my mouth now, tomorrow we'll go to yellow. CROWLEY: We'll call you back here and ask you why. Justice Department correspondent Kelli Arena, thanks very much.

ARENA: You're welcome.

CROWLEY: Joe Lieberman has temporarily moved to New Hampshire, but can he move up in the polls? In a minute, the senator joins to us talk about his chances in the Granite State and beyond.

Also ahead, the candidates, the media, and the hottest game in town.

And you wouldn't recognize his face or his name, but he's one of the most important Democrats around, at least for the next couple weeks.


CROWLEY: Surprisingly strong manufacturing numbers today that could impact the presidential race. The index for U.S. manufacturing grew last month at its fastest rate in 20 years. Analysts say it's a sign that the economic recovery continues to gain ground.

Joe Lieberman is seeing lots of blue-collar workers these days. He's shaking as many hands as possible, trying to get some political traction for the New Hampshire primary and beyond. The senator is here in Washington today and joins us now.

Senator, thank you so much for being here. I want to ask you about the economy. Manufacturing, which is where we saw most of the job loss, seems to have made a really big burst in the past month or so. How can Democrats at this point go after the economy? In what way do you see the president as vulnerable?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Candy, it's encouraging that some of the economic indicators are up, but I can tell you, as I go around New Hampshire and other places in the country, the average middle class family still feels worried about whether they're going to have jobs or if they've lost them -- three million have -- and whether they're going to get them back soon. They're having a very hard time paying the rising costs of health insurance, education, childcare.

This Wall Street recovery hasn't reached Main Street and beyond. And, of course, we are bearing the burden for future generations of the fiscal irresponsibility of George Bush. The largest fiscal deficit federal government in our history and the largest trade deficit, and the dollar is at an all-time low. A weak point, and that's worrisome for the future of our economy. We have to get back to fiscal growth, fiscal responsibility, and jobs for middle class people.

CROWLEY: Senator, I want to talk to you a little bit about your campaign, where you're concentrating in New Hampshire, hoping to make a good showing there and move into the South. Can you tell me what it is you think that has not yet caught on? I don't know if you saw the poll numbers at the beginning of the show, but, in fact, Howard Dean has strengthened his lead. What is it that New Hampshirites will see in the final days of this campaign that's going to take them from a Howard Dean Democrat to a Joe Lieberman Democrat?

LIEBERMAN: First up, a lot of Democrats have not decided. And a lot of Democrats who have been for Howard Dean Democrat or somebody else are taking a second look, particularly Dean. I think they're troubled by the fact that they're just understanding that he's against middle class tax cuts. And no Democrat has been elected, in my memory, who wants to raise taxes on the middle class.

They're very troubled about his statements about America not be safer with Saddam Hussein captured. And particularly by the statement he made that he was not prepared to prejudge the guilt of Osama bin Laden after Osama already had acknowledged and boasted about his guilt in killing 3,000 Americans.

So I think there's a second look going on. I'm a center-out Democrat, independent minded in an independent minded state that notoriously has changed their mind in the last three weeks of the primary campaign. That's where I am. I'm speaking to their security, to their prosperity, and to the quality of their lives.

CROWLEY: And you've been around for several campaigns, including one the last time around. And you know how these things work. And there is always a time when rivals go after one another.

Bill Bradley against Al Gore. Now it's sort of everybody versus Howard Dean. You a little bit have been taking off on Wesley Clark.

Does this seem to you to be more bitter? Because I sense from you, sayinging now about Osama bin Laden and from others, you've been saying, look, this man is not ready for the White House. If it should be Howard Dean, how do you make up for that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, we'll deal with that then. Of course I think it's going to be Joe Lieberman, so it's not going to be a problem.

Look, we're having a healthy debate. That's what the voters in New Hampshire want. That's what the people of America deserve. We're talking about the leader of the strongest country in the world, and we can't make that judgement lightly or loosely.

And some of the things that -- people in New Hampshire are worried that some of the things that Howard Dean has said are going to be turned right back on him by George W. Bush and Karl Rove and make him unelectable. It was very interesting; in the most recent New Hampshire poll that I saw by the "Concord Monitor," I ran 10 points closer to George Bush in head-to-head race in New Hampshire than Howard Dean did.

And in a CNN poll today nationally, I gather that I was five or six points behind the president, tied with one other person. So I'm the electable Democrat. And in the end, all the Democrats who are -- who want to deny George Bush a second term and give the American people a fresh start, I think they're going to come back to that common sense and that practical judgment.

CROWLEY: Senator Lieberman, they've got about three, four weeks to do that. We will be watching very closely. See you in New Hampshire, see you in Iowa. Thanks again.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Candy. Have a great weekend.

CROWLEY: You too.


CROWLEY: Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily," John Kerry says he knows what it's like to own a small business. Kerry told business owners this morning in New Hampshire that he will cut red tape and make it easier for small businesses to compete for federal contracts. Back in the '70s, Kerry owned a muffin and cookie shop in Boston.

Howard Dean's making use of his rock and roll connections. Singer Joan Jett today delivered Dean's petitions for the New York ballot to the Nassau County Board of Elections. Joan Jett is running to be a New York delegate for Dean at the Democratic National Convention.

One of Enron whistleblowers has decided to endorse Wesley Clark for president. Sharon Watkins says today she's backing Clark's White House effort. Watkins was "TIME" Magazine's co-person of the year in 2002 for her role for exposing accounting fraud at the energy giant.

A prediction about November from the Reverend Pat Robertson. On his "700 Club" TV program today, Robertson says god told him that President Bush will be reelected in a blowout. Robertson says Bush is blessed because -- quoting Robertson -- "he's a man of prayer."

Now that 2004 is finally here, the media are focused on the presidential campaign and what some are calling the expectations game. Howard Kurtz of CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES" is watching the game as well.

In fact, I heard you criticize us on our very air not too long ago.


CROWLEY: Every once in a while. Tell me, in terms of media, who is winning this game at this point of the candidates.

KURTZ: Well, journalists, as you know, Candy, are the biggest players of the expectations game. And they get a lot of help from the campaigns which want to talk about this isn't really a must-win state for us or we just need a strong finish here.

I would say that Dick Gephardt and John Edwards are the most straightforward, because Gephardt makes no bones about the fact that he has to win Iowa. He won it in '88; it didn't do him much good then. And John Edwards, people tell me that he has to win South Carolina. He was born there after all, so to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, if he can't win there, he can't win anywhere. But some of the other campaigns are trying to set a low bar or get the media to set a low bar so they can then declare that they have cleared it.

CROWLEY: So what is one to do about -- I mean, look, if they say -- if a candidate says, well, I'm not going to win here, or I have to win here, or I don't have to win here, that's a reportable thing, right?

KURTZ: Well, what they say is reportable, but do we have to adopt the spin that they are so interested in putting out? For example, Senator Lieberman, who you just talked to, and Wesley Clark both skipped Iowa, they're both trailing in New Hampshire. So they're talking about the February 3 states, the seven southern around western states headlined by South Carolina. That's going to be their big stand.

And there is some truth to that. But at the same time, I don't think we ought to let the campaigns define -- although they would certainly love to do that -- what constitutes a good showing. But there's a little bit of arrogance I think on our side of the ledger as well. Because, you know, just today, "Washington Post" says, if Lieberman fails to finish third or better in New Hampshire, he's in deep trouble.

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Except that when you get the kind of bad press after you don't do as well as expected, as defined by the journalistic geniuses, that tends to drive your fund-raising. So it's not just a game. It really has an impact on the shape of the race.

CROWLEY: And who, in your opinion, and watching, has played this game the best in terms of the candidates? I mean, who is getting best deal here, do you think?

KURTZ: Well, Howard Dean has an interesting approach, because his campaign, having done so well in 2003, says, no matter what the contest, well so and so is just running a one or two-state campaign. We're running a 50-state campaign. That, of course, enables him to explain away any disappointing results.

Ironically, for Dean, having done so well, expectations are so sky high for him now, particularly in New Hampshire, that if he wins by 15 points, I can see some commentators saying well, he's fading because he'd been leading by 30 points in some polls.

John Kerry has been fighting for a year against this label of New Hampshire as a must-win state for him. Now since he looks like a real long shot to win the state, he just needs a strong showing there and concentrating some of his efforts on Iowa.

So we won't really know until there are actual voters who was able to pull this off. But I do think that journalists need to be careful about laying down these markers, because voters have a way of surprising us. We've seen that in every campaign. Bill Clinton finished second, as you recall, in New Hampshire in '92. He declared himself the "Comeback Kid." Everybody bought into it, and I think he ended up winning the nomination.

CROWLEY: You're right. I believe he did. Howie Kurtz, CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," "Washington Post," we appreciate it. Come back. Will we see you in Iowa?

KURTZ: I hope so.

CROWLEY: OK. Terrific. Thanks, Howie.

His friends say he's crazy, funny and hip. Meet the 24/7 Democrat in Iowa as he rides herd over the upcoming first in the nation caucuses. He's up next on INSIDE POLITICS.


CROWLEY: For the Democrats fighting for President Bush's job, there is only one go-to man in Iowa, and right now he is consumed with the first test in this presidential election year. Judy Woodruff has this look at the chief of the Iowa Democratic Party.


FISCHER: I'm Gordon Fisher, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dialing for dollars in Des Moines.

FISCHER: As you know, the Iowa caucuses are coming up soon, January 19. Who wouldn't know that? Yeah, you'd have to live under a rock.

WOODRUFF: Gordon Fischer is logging a little call time at Iowa Democratic headquarters. A traditional function for an untraditional party chairman. Party officials rarely enjoy rock star moments. But Fischer is different. A spikey-haired MTV-watching mensch who brought a dollop of pizzazz to the Hawkeye State.

JEAN HESSBURG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IOWA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Gordon's got a great sense of humor and is really hip.

WOODRUFF: He's also managed to increase the party's membership threefold, since assuming the volunteer position just over a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gordon R. "G Dog" Fischer.

WOODRUFF: And he's boosted fund-raising, hosting a sellout Jefferson Jackson dinner, complete with six presidential candidates and a Clinton that people are still talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just -- it was goose flesh kind of environment. It was pretty amazing.

WOODRUFF: Now, Fischer's gearing up for a less flashy, though utterly crucial event. The first in the nation caucuses.

FISCHER: I'm pretty much working dawn till dawn sometimes.

WOODRUFF: Though the caucuses themselves remain old fashioned community affairs, this year's happening goes high tech with the results reported online in real time. Fischer is working to ensure the new and the old mesh, seeking advice from his predecessor over lunch.

FISCHER: Was there anything about the training that you thought you would have done differently, emphasized more, emphasized less?

WOODRUFF: Touting the innovations to the party faithful at a Christmas party for young Democrats.

FISCHER: Actually, we're doing a lot of different technology things. We're hoping to have results, believe it or not, by 10:00 or 10:30.

WOODRUFF: All wile scrupulously maintaining his impartiality in the contest.

FISCHER: I'm neutral, 100 percent neutral. I'm neutral again.

WOODRUFF: So neutral that Fischer, a four-time caucus-goer, will not be caucusing this year.

FISCHER: It breaks my heart, because I really need to be at sort of command central to help make sure that everything's going well around the state.

WOODRUFF: The field, he says, remains wide open.

FISCHER: There's so many undecided caucus-goers and there are so many soft supporters that I think almost anything can happen January 19.

WOODRUFF: On January 20, Fischer's hoping to reclaim some of his life, like his law practice, housed in a downtown Des Moines office studded with baseball memorabilia, and dinners with his wife. They wouldn't have it any other way.

Judy Woodruff, CNN, reporting.


CROWLEY: Still to come, a political ad that at least one Iowa TV station has yanked off the air. But we're going to show it to you and find out what's causing all the ruckus.

And, need an interesting book for the new year? Judy talks with a former congressman who's written about how Washington turns outsiders into insiders.



ANNOUNCER: The holidays were good to George W. Bush. With the capture of Saddam and the economy rebounding, things are looking up for the president. But should any of the Dems have him watching his back? We'll play it by numbers with our exclusive CNN-"TIME" poll.

The campaign year is under way, but the '04 Dems have been traveling the trail for months. We'll look back and ahead.

And don't stash the bubbly just yet. Bill Schneider's roaring into the new year with 2004's first political play of the week.



CROWLEY: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley, sitting in for Judy.

The race for the White House has been under way for months, and the first caucuses and primary will be held this month. But beyond the activists and the true believers, are Americans really watching what's going on?

According to our new CNN-"TIME" Magazine poll, fewer than half of Americans say they're playing close attention to the race. Against this backdrop, President Bush is holding a five-point lead in a head- to-head match-up against Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean. He has a six-point edge and one-on-one with Joe Lieberman. Mr. Bush leads Dick Gephardt by nine points, Wesley Clark and John Edwards by 10, and John Kerry by 11 points.

Checking our second edition of "Campaign News Daily," Democrat John Edwards is on a 'round-the-state tour of New Hampshire, culminating with a major speech tomorrow afternoon. The speech will be at Nashua City Hall, the same site as John F. Kennedy's first campaign event in 1960. The Edwards campaign says the speech will offer a positive alternative to the negative attacks offered by his party rivals.

Dick Gephardt's backers in the labor movement are coming to his aid in Iowa. Several hundred union organizers are flying into Iowa this weekend to gear up for the final weeks of campaigning. They'll hold an organizational meeting on Monday and then fan out across the state to work on Gephardt's behalf.

A Des Moines TV station has yanked a political ad off the air. The ad was paid for by an outside of Iowa group called The Coalition for the Future American Worker, which says it represents the interests of labor, although it has no official ties to the organized labor movements. WOHO's TV general manager calls the ad unnecessarily inflaming and borderline racist.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much longer can Iowa workers be the punching bags for greedy corporations and politicians? First, meat packers replaced Iowans with thousands of foreign workers. Next, wages were cut almost in half. Now, politicians want new laws to import millions more foreign workers and give amnesty to illegal aliens...


CROWLEY: The group sponsoring the ad denies its message is anti- immigrant. Another Des Moines station, KCCI-TV is also considering pulling the ad off the air.

A federal judge has delayed by one year new regulations requiring unions to report to the government how they spend members' dues, including political activities. The ruling said unions need more time to comply with the extensive changes, which were approved by the White House office of management and budget in November.

The AFL-CIO sued the Labor Department to block the regulations which would have gone into effect yesterday. The ruling says Labor Secretary Elaine Chao failed to offer justification for requiring the changes in a seven-week period.

With the first test of the presidential campaign around the corner who what will have the greatest influence on determining which Democrat will challenge President Bush? And just how much do voters in Iowa and New Hampshire matter anyway?

Joining me in Boston is Northeast University political science professor Bill Maher. Thank you so much, professor, for joining us. So how much do Iowa and New Hampshire matter when it comes to determining who will run against the incumbent?

PROF. WILLIAM MAHER, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, my own analysis, which I've been working on for the past couple of years, suggests that New Hampshire has a very, very important effect on the presidential -- the outcome of the presidential nomination race without going into too much of the details, the -- my estimate is that the winner of the New Hampshire primary, in a multicandidate field, can expect that his total share of the primary vote will increase by as much as 25 percent -- 25 percentage points, which needless to say is a huge bump.

What's interesting is that by the same measure, I can find almost no effect of Iowa on the long-term outcome of the race. Iowa gets a lot of publicity and yet, it's very difficult to find that it has any kind of long-term impact on the race.

CROWLEY: Well, now, but that would not be true, say, of the Jimmy Carter race would it? Wasn't Iowa instrumental in that?

MAHER: Jimmy Carter was the last time, I think, when a candidate rode a New Hampshire -- strong showing in Iowa all the way through to the nomination race. I think you can find a few other isolated cases.

Clearly coming in second, not winning it but coming in second, was an enormous assist to Gary Hart, though, of course, in the end he fell short. It probably gave a big boost to the candidacy of Lamar Alexander in 1996. Again, he falls short.

But in most races, candidates who have won there have not done a lot better or worse than you'd expect, given how well they were doing in the national polls at that point.

CROWLEY: How does even New Hampshire match up against money in terms of being determinative?

MAHER: I'm sorry, how does it match up against money?

CROWLEY: In other words, how much of an influence is money, compared to -- you said New Hampshire can be quite influential. But how about money? Isn't that, in the end, how much money a candidate has?

MAHER: Well, money clearly is a very important factor. I think it's important to say that you can't buy a presidential nomination. There are a lot of candidates that have been very successful fundraisers, and yet haven't done very well once the primaries and caucuses started. One thinks of Steve Forbes, Phil Gramm in 1996. John Connelly if you want to go back to 1980.

I think you have to have enough money to stay in the race to get your message out, but beyond that, I don't think -- if the constituency, if the appeal to the ordinary voter isn't there, spending an awful lot of money, I don't think, is going to get you the nomination.

And in that sense, I thank of the fact that Dean is so far ahead in the fundraising Derby is less significant if -- would not be as significant if he didn't have a kind of constituency that's beginning to show itself in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire and now nationally.

CROWLEY: As you look at where the candidates are currently spending their money, does it tell you about their campaign strategies?

MAHER: Clearly, the candidates have different targeting strategies. Really, normally, everybody operates pretty similar strategy. Everybody targets Iowa, everybody targets New Hampshire and that's kind of it. This year in an interesting way, you see a little more variation.

On the one hand, you've got a couple of candidates that made an explicit and public decision to skip Iowa. That's Lieberman and Clark. Gephardt clearly has set -- he has to win Iowa. If he loses there, he's out. He's clearly spending an awful lot of money there.

Dean, having the most money, has the freedom to spend a lot in Iowa and New Hampshire. And a lot of the primaries in February 3. A number of the other candidates are hoping, at best, to kind of come in second or third in New Hampshire and then hope that they can do better in February 3rd.

I think in many ways, it is those February 3 primaries that will indicate whether this is going to be a wide-open race or whether it's one that's going to come to a very quick conclusion. It is possible that this race could go on for a period of, you know, a number of weeks. It's also possible that it could end by February 3 or February 10 something like that.

Political science professor Bill Maher of Northeastern University in Boston. Thank you so much for joining us. We'll watch the race along with you.

MAHER: Thank you for having me.

CROWLEY: Coming up, JUDY WOODRUFF'S PAGE TURNERS. She talks to former Congressman Tom Coburn about his book, "Breach of Trust."

Also what New Year's Eve has to do with Bill Schneider's "Political Play of the Week."


CROWLEY: You are looking at that British Airways plane that was delayed in Heathrow for hours. It is now just about to land at Dulles airport. Obviously, everything looks all right. One of several over the past couple of days that have been delayed for one reason or another, suspicions of perhaps some terrorist concerns. But in any case, it's about to land now, many hours after the fact. But apparently, safely for all concerned.

Former Congressman Tom Coburn kept his promise. He served three terms and then he left town. And then he wrote about the experience. "Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders." Coburn spoke recently with Judy Woodruff.


TOM COBURN, FRM. CONGRESSMAN: I think they're not only part of the problem and many that have come in afterward are part of the problem. And the problem is they're more interested in receiving and controlling power than they are in fixing the problems with the country.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Why is that? What is it about this town that changes people who come here with what you describe as good intentions?

COBURN: First of all, I think that most of them are very good people. The problem is it's much like being addicted to a narcotic. The desire to maintain and receive and continue to be in a position of authority and power tends to cloud their judgment.

And the way it most often happens is that the long run gets sacrificed for the short run. And consequently, you see, with Medicare and Social Security, we haven't done anything to fix those problems. We've actually made them worse.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about some of the points you make in the book. Among other things, you talk about term limits. You, yourself, limited yourself to three terms. You say other members should do that. But if you do that, the argument is, Congressman, that people -- the people who will run this government are going to be staff and the lobbyists. Isn't that right?

COBURN: I think that's just -- I disagree with that 100 percent. I think if you have people, school teachers, radio show announcers and other people who don't have political experience who are committed to following the Constitution and representing their constituency, they're not about to be run over by staff and lobbyists.

Matter of fact, lobbyists would have a whole lot less power if we had a true citizen-based representation there. And so I think that is a rationalization of the greatest kind that only Washington puts out.

WOODRUFF: Your book starts out in the introduction with a quote from Senator Trent Lott, who of course then was the Senate majority leader. Back in 1999, you were having a discussion with him and Speaker Hastert about holding down spending. He looked at both of you said, "Well I've got an election coming up in 2000. After that, we can have good government."

What does that say to you about the leadership coming from both political parties?

COBURN: Well, what it says more is about career politicians. It's not about parties. It's more important to get reelected than it is to do what's in the best interest and the best long-term future for our country.

And that doesn't make him a bad person, it just makes him susceptible to point want be to continue to be in power. And the pursuit of power is not the thing that's going to the solve the problems. And the rationalization is you have to be in power to do that is wrong.

WOODRUFF: So even though the politicians you admire in your own Republican Party, whether it's Senator Don Nickels, who is now stepping down after four terms in the Senate, you're saying that even individuals like that shouldn't be allowed to serve more than a limited time?

COBURN: Well, it's not a matter of being allowed. The fact is is if you look at the observation of their behavior and how they vote, they change over time. And I just use a good example. Senator Nickels is not running for reelection. He's the only elected representative from Oklahoma who did not vote for the Medicare drug benefit. And if you ask him why, it's because he knows it's the wrong thing to do. And he has the courage, now that he's not running for reelection, to vote the right way.

WOODRUFF: To fix government overall you talk about term limits, you talk about the budget process and so forth.

COBURN: Well, and I think the media has a tremendous responsibility to contrast what people say when they're campaigning to what they actually -- how they actually vote. There's a real disconnect of holding politicians accountable to what they're doing in Washington, versus what they said they would do when they went up there.


CROWLEY: The "Political Play of the Week" usually goes to one person, but several hundred thousand get an assist this week. Bill Schneider will be here next to explain why.


CROWLEY: The "Political Play of the Week" gave several hundred thousand people something to cheer about. Here's Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: You know, throwing a party is not usually the way to take a political stand. But this week was New Year's and one New Year's Eve party earned the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): A political party is one thing. But a party that makes a political statement, that's something else. It all started when a Republican Congressman and chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, made this remark on a local news broadcast.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: You've got to be a fool, frankly, to go New Year's night to Times Square. I mean, I can't understand why people do that. Just one hand grenade thrown in the air and people panicking. It's just too attempting a target.

SCHNEIDER: What does he know, Mayor Bloomberg replied? He's an out-of-towner from Connecticut, wherever that is. You come to New York, buddy, like former Iraq prisoner of war Shoshanna Johnson, and we'll show you how to party.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: Anybody who is a congressman from Connecticut wants to hop on a train and come to New York, he or she is certainly welcome to stand up with me on the stage and with Shoshanna and welcome in the new year.

SCHNEIDER: But was it safe? The homeland security secretary thought so.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECY.: I don't think there's a city that has done more and sustained a higher level of security and protection than New York City.

SCHNEIDER: You nervous, the mayor said? Fugetaboutit.

BLOOMBERG: You are safer here tonight than you would be on the streets of any other city in the world.

SCHNEIDER: You tryin' to cause trouble, New Yorkers said? Get outta here.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not think the responsible thing to do, as this Congressman is doing, is to try and put out a mass panic.

SCHNEIDER: Wednesday night in New York, the revelers reveled, the ball descended, the confetti flew, and tradition was upheld. Trouble, New Yorkers shrugged? Wassa matta wit you?

BLOOMBERG: Last night was just the typical New York event. Your average 750,000 people getting together on a Wednesday night to enjoy themselves.

SCHNEIDER: You want to stay in Connecticut New Year's Eve and hide under your bed go right ahead. But don't worry about us, because this is New York, buddy.

And we get the "Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: Now, maybe Congressman Shays was just trying to get people in his district to stay home in Connecticut. Nothing like New Year's Eve in Bridgeport, they say.

CROWLEY: I've never had the pleasure, but we'll check it out some time.

It may not be the fight of the century, but it will probably be the biggest donnybrook of the year. We will have that soon.

But right now, we'd like to go to Elaine Quijano, who is at Dulles Airport to talk about the British Airways flight. Elaine, it just landed safely, I presume?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No incident to report so far, Candy. What I can tell you, this is the British Airways flight that left London earlier today. It was supposed to get here at Dulles a little bit after 2:00 Eastern time. Instead, it was delayed on the ground -- I believe we have a live picture to show you or video of the plane as it sits on the tarmac now here at Dulles -- instead, arriving moments ago here at Dulles International after that more than two-hour delay.

Now, earlier today, I spoke with a spokesperson for British Airways who said the reason that flight remained on the ground in London is because U.S. authorities wanted to conduct additional screening of the passenger lists. There you see the plane that landed a few minutes ago. British Airways Flight number 217.

Now we have some information that that plane was not escorted by F-16s. You'll recall back on New Year's Eve, Wednesday, there was a British Airways flight that we were told was escorted by fighter jets. This plane, however, the information we are getting, this plane was not.

So a safe landing for this plane. British Airways Flight 217, arrive hearing at Dulles more than two hours after it was scheduled to originally be here. -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Elaine, how does this delay -- in fact, any of the other ones affect flights later this evening?

QUIJANO: Well, what I can tell you is that it certainly is have having a domino effect. We've been watching all day as the staff members for British Airways have been trying to put passengers on alternate flights.

In fact, we know that tomorrow, there is a flight that was supposed to go out at 8:30, local time, here from Dulles to London and that flight has been canceled, because that plane will be taking off about eight hours earlier, around midnight tonight, in order to accommodate some of the passengers who were inconvenienced by delays today and the cancellations today.

So certainly, this is a situation that is still developing, still some passengers trying to figure out how they're going to get home. But again, we're getting information about a domino effects here. A cancellation tomorrow, a British Airways flight that was supposed to go out at 8:30, canceled because of the these delays -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Elaine, you know you've been out there all day because we've been talking to you all day. Give me a sense what it's like out there in general. Do people seem skittish, irritated, normal?

QUIJANO: Sort of all of the above. It's been a mix of reactions, Candy. On the one hand, you have people obviously who are very frustrated at the inconvenience of it all. Some people who just really want to go home. And quite frankly, they can't understand.

But at the same time, you have folks who say, you know, I'd rather have these flights canceled. I'd rather authorities take these precautions. As one woman said to me earlier, better safe than sorry -- Candy.

CROWLEY: For sure. Elaine Quijano as at Dulles Airport, thank you very much. I'm sure we'll see you later today.

We'll be back right after this.


CROWLEY: Ready for the big fight of '04? The champ says he's loose and raring to go. His challenger, that's to be decided in the coming weeks and months. Here the sights sounds of the preliminary rounds in the fight for the White House.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My name is Wes Clark. And I'm here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And today we stand in common purpose to take our country back!

REP. DICK GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here, at the heart of the American dream, I announce my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a candidate for president of the United States in 2004.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will do it together when I am president of the United States. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

KERRY: Thank you and god bless you all. Thank you.

CLARK: Get ready. We're moving out. Thank you! Thank you very much.

DEAN: This really is about taking our country back.

EDWARDS: Hey, how are you? Hey, happy Labor Day to you.

SHARPTON: Thank you.


CROWLEY: Eleven months till the final round of the big bout.

Before we go today, allow us our first New Year's indulgence. A good-bye to one of INSIDE POLITICS most important cogs. This is the last day INSIDE POLITICS will be able to call upon services of associate prosecutor Becky Britain (ph). What does Beck do at IP? The short answer is everything. And, boy, will we miss, Becky.

Becky Britain's new job takes her away from television but keeps her firmly planted in the political world. Bye, Becky.

Also leaving, and I take this one very personally, is producer Kevin Flower (ph) who has worked with me since the early days of the George W. Bush campaign. Given his choice for another round on the campaign trail with me or Baghdad, he chose Baghdad where he'll become CNN's bureau manager. All of us, me especially, will miss him.

And to fill Kevin's Pradas on the campaign trail is Sasha Johnson (ph). She has been INSIDE POLITICS senior producer for some time, keeping the place together, believe me. Now she'll be traveling with me, covering candidates from the Iowa caucuses through all the primaries, conventions and election night.

That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.



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