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Going South: The Bush Strategy; The Partisan Divide: How Split is America?

Aired January 8, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Lessons in southern politics. President Bush visits campaign battlegrounds that hold special meaning from the 2000 race.

A nation still divided. We'll update the state of reds versus blues to see if America is as polarized as ever.

WILLIE BROWN, FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: It's good to be the king.

Willie Brown's reign ends in San Francisco. Could this also be the end of an era in California politics?

BROWN: Power is frankly more addictive than I would imagine crack cocaine would be. And believe me, there's no cure.



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

So go figure. The temperature here in Iowa is up to a balmy 33 degrees or so, but Dick Gephardt is the only '04 Democrat here to enjoy it. Most of his primary rivals have hightailed it to New Hampshire, where the wind chill is expected to make it to the light 20 below zero tonight. President Bush, meantime, has his sights set on the South and two key general election battlegrounds.

Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, John King.

John, what's in Tennessee and Florida?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, electoral votes, Candy, a lot of money, and the chance for the president to flex the muscle of incumbency, if you will. Tennessee, of course, was Al Gore's home state. George W. Bush would not be president if the former vice president, Al Gore, had carried his home state.

That was the president's first stop today. The first stop during that stop was in a school. Twice this week the president has focused on education. That is no accident. And text to terrorism, our polls show it as the number one issues voters want addressed in this campaign re-election season.

So you see the president in a classroom here. He also is there, though, to bring in a million dollars and to remind Tennessee of how important it was to him in campaign 2000. And he hopes will be on his side again in 2004.

The more interesting stop, Candy, about to happen. The president is on his way to Florida. This is his 18th trip to that state as president, but his first visit back to the infamous Palm Beach County. Home, of course, to the chad, and the great butterfly ballot of the last election campaign.

The president won't be asking for a recount, trust me, but he'll raise even more money and focus again on a state that was critical to him, controversial, of course, back in campaign 2000. The president hopes he can win by at least a slightly bigger margin this time around -- Candy.

CROWLEY: John, we know that the president has a brother who's a governor in Florida. But there are political liabilities there. What do his advisers say?

KING: It's a tough state. It was a much tougher state for the president last time than many of his advisers thought it would be. And many Democrats have said for some time that they believe Florida is one of the states that demographically is trending their way.

The president very much wants it. He wants those electoral votes. He does have the power, if you will, of his brother's political organization. But if you look at the demographics of Florida, especially the growth in I-5 going across Tampa, across the central part of the state, it has been going more Democratic.

And some Democrats think the Senator from Florida who dropped out of the presidential race, Bob Graham, could be a Democratic vice presidential prospect. So the president has spent a lot of time there in the past, and he will spend an awful lot of time there. And again, one of his advantages now, having no primary opposition, is that he can go again and again and again to places like Florida, while the Democrats fight it out in Iowa and New Hampshire, because they understand it is a very tough state.

CROWLEY: One of the advantages of incumbency. Thanks so much, CNN's John King, at the White House.

A lot has happened in the three-plus years since the Florida election standoff. During that time, have Americans come any closer together politically? Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, looks at a new report on the partisan divide.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): How divided are we? The Gallup Organization has put together more than 40,000 interviews conducted during 2003 to try to come up with the answer. And the answer is: plenty divided. Ten years ago, during Bill Clinton's first year, Democrats had a nine-point lead over Republicans. Now, according to the interviews 45.5 percent of the country call themselves Republicans, or lean toward the GOP; 45.2 percent identify with or lean toward the Democrats. Can't get much closer than that.

With all those interviews, Gallup can do something you can't do with an ordinary pole. It can look at partisanship state by state.

Here's the map. Strong Republican states in red, strong Democratic states in blue. So how big is each party's electoral vote base now? The strong Republican states have 172 electoral votes. The strong Democratic states have 175. Still close.

Let's factor in states that just lean toward one of the parties. Suppose Bush carries all the blue states on this map, and the Democratic candidate carries all the red and pink states. How close would it be then?

The Republican ticket would have 250 electoral votes. The Democratic ticket 253, with 35 electoral votes in four states where neither party has any advantage: Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Washington state.

DAVID BROOKS, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": It's divided electoral lines. And it's still divided, and it's growing more divided. One of the things we notice is that the number of people who split their ticket, who vote for different parties in the same election, is going down every single election. So we are a divided country.

SCHNEIDER: Not just divided. Intensely divided.

Here are President Bush's current job approval ratings. Republicans are solidly behind Bush, 93 percent. But only 29 percent of Democrats think President Bush is doing a good job. That's a 64 percent difference. The biggest party split we've ever seen over any president running for re-election.

In January 1992, for example, the first President Bush was getting 20 percent approval from Democrats and only 79 percent from his fellow Republicans. A smaller gap.

JOHN KENNETH WHITE, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: We don't have what we would call George W. Bush Democrats. We didn't have them in 2000. I don't think we're going to have them in 2004.


SCHNEIDER: In terms of partisanship, the country looks like a 50-50 split. And, you know, the two halves are not on such good terms -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Bill.

And now to New Hampshire, where Wesley Clark is getting new traction in the race for second place in the leadoff primary. Today, he had a well-known whistleblower by his side.

CNN's Dan Lothian is in New Hampshire.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Riding a wave of positive poll numbers, retired General Wesley Clark is back out on the campaign trail today in New Hampshire. Campaign aides clearly pleased that the level of support that they're finding at each campaign stop. Typically, they were seeing about 100 or so supporters. Now hundreds are showing up, usually standing room only.

Today, the general is joined by Sharon Watkins. She is the so- called Enron whistle-blower. The general focusing on ending what he calls corporate welfare.

WESLEY CLARK (D), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's what we're trying to do, to bring a higher standard of leadership to America. A leadership that's interested in America as a whole and not captive to special interests.

LOTHIAN: On a lighter endorsement note, Madonna, who has talked about her support for Wesley Clark, is now officially endorsing him. She has released this letter on her Web site, where she says, she's not only endorsing him as a celebrity, but as an American citizen, and as a mother.

That's the very latest from New Hampshire. Dan Lothian, CNN. Back to you.


CROWLEY: And Wesley Clark leads the headlines in "Campaign News Daily." Clark shared his views on abortion in an interview with the "Manchester Union Leader." Concerning his potential nominees to the bench, Clark said, "I'm not going to be appointing judges who are pro- life." As for his personal views on the subject, he said, "I'm not going to get into a discussion of when life begins. I'm in favor of choice, period, pure and simple."

Al Gore's lending his voice to Howard Dean's campaign in South Carolina. Gore recorded the new radio ad explaining why he supports Dean for president.


AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Howard Dean is not afraid to take on the Bush White House, to speak out against a misguided war, against tax breaks for the wealthy, against cuts in public education, against a Republican economic agenda that has cost Americans millions of jobs.


CROWLEY: Howard Dean is the subject of another ad in South Carolina, except this one is running in the state's GOP Senate primary. Former State Attorney General Charlie Condon uses the ad to criticize what he calls Howard Dean Democrats who oppose the war on Iraq. Condon is running for the seat left open by the retiring Democrat Ernest Hollings.

Howard Dean has been known to drop verbal bombs on the campaign trail. Coming up, has he started to think twice before he speaks? We'll get a strategy update from his campaign manager Joe Trippi.

Also ahead...


GOV. JOHN ROWLAND (R), CONNECTICUT : I was wrong in failing to truthfully address these issues. I lied. And there are no excuses.


CROWLEY: A lot of people in Connecticut watched their governor's latest mea culpa. But were many convinced he should keep his job?

And next, he's been putting oomph into California politics for four decades, so what will Willie Brown do now that he's no longer in office?


CROWLEY: A short time ago, Gavin Newsom was sworn in as the new mayor of San Francisco. Which means that, for the first time in nearly 40 years, Willie Brown is a private citizen instead of a political office holder.

Rusty Dornin looks back on the career of the man Bill Clinton himself called the real Slick Willie.


BROWN: I want to be your mayor!

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They got him. And for eight years, Willie Brown was known as da mayor of San Francisco.

Brown leaves office this week. While he sees himself as an idealist, he admits it was something more that kept him in politics for 40 years.

BROWN: Power is frankly nor addictive than I would imagine crack cocaine would be. And believe me, there's no cure.

DORNIN: A fiery orator, attorney, and California legislator, he began making national press at the '72 Democratic Convention.

BROWN: Give me back my delegation!

DORNIN: In the '80s and '90s he wielded incredible power as speaker of the House for nearly 15 years.

(on camera): You've been called flamboyant, brash, backroom broker. Are you all of those things?

BROWN: All of the above, and frankly none of the above.

DORNIN (voice-over): Critics say Brown brokered deals through political patronage. His style of insider politics like those of Tammany Hall. There were various corruption probes. Nothing illegal ever turned up.

But his deal making also earned him a reputation of getting things done when no one else could. While he hobnobbed with the rich and famous, Brown says what got him headlines was irreverent behavior, especially around reporters.

BROWN: They can always BS with Willie Brown and almost for sure come out with something that's a little whacko. That makes for star status.

DORNIN: Labeled "His Willieness" by a local cartoonist, even Brown made fun of his mayoral reign.

BROWN: It's good to be the king.

DORNIN: What's next? Zone Institute. One he hopes will be a hands-on roundtable for politicians.

(on camera): What are you doing these last great days?

BROWN: I'm packing.

DORNIN (voice-over): But can this man really pack up his political career for good?

BROWN: A U.S. Senate seat would be an absolutely attractive space and place for...

DORNIN (on camera): That might be the one thing that would pull you back into politics?

BROWN: No, the presidency would, too.

DORNIN (voice-over): Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.


CROWLEY: Now back to the other coast and Connecticut, where Republican Governor John Rowland is fighting for his political life. He was on statewide television last night apologizing yet again for lying when he denied accepting gifts from state employees and from friends who do business with the state.

Polls show a majority of Connecticut voters still want him to resign. State lawmakers are talking about impeachment.

Joining me from Hartford is Democratic state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin Sullivan. Senator Sullivan, thank you for joining us. I have, in fact, read the press release you put out after meeting with the governor last night, and I want to see if I have your message right. The governor needs to resign or you will move ahead to impeach him?

KEVIN SULLIVAN (D), PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE, CONNECTICUT STATE SENATE: Well, I think that we've been patient. This is a very, very sad time for our state here. I think it would be best for him, best for Connecticut, given what he's done, given the road ahead, if he were to resign. If he fails to do that, then the House of Representatives, which is meeting, Candy, even as we talk right now, has the momentous choice before it to launch impeachment.

CROWLEY: So it is an either you get out voluntarily or we're going to move forward?

SULLIVAN: I'm not sure we're to that point. But we have very few other options.

At this point, the governor has lost the vast majority of the people of the state of Connecticut. Sixty-five percent want him to resign. For the first time in a poll, a majority would favor impeachment if he does not resign. Ninety percent do not believe he's truthful and honest.

Those are awfully hard numbers to come back from. I feel deeply for the person, but my duties to the state tell me that we would be better off if he were to leave, and so would he.

CROWLEY: Senator, I wanted to tell you that John Kissel, who I believe you know -- I hope I'm pronouncing that right -- a six-term Republican state senator has, in fact, called on Rowland to resign. How does that change the mix? Is he one of the first Republicans to do this publicly? Give us a dynamic.

SULLIVAN: Yesterday, two members of the House of Representatives, Republicans, interesting enough, two of them policemen, called on the governor to resign and told him directly they believe that was what he should do. My friend Senator Kissel has done so today.

The good news, if there is any, is that this makes it more clear that this is not a partisan issue. None of us want this to be a partisan issue. This is really an issue about restoring the trust of the people in their government.

And I might point out that if Governor Rowland were to resign, the governor to be is Lieutenant Governor Rell, a Republican in our state. So Republicans will continue to be in charge of the governorship. It will just be somebody that has a clean slate and a fresh start.

CROWLEY: I mean, has Governor Rowland -- obviously has not been proven to have done anything illegal, although he's admitted to lying about who made the improvements on his home. But what has been -- why do you think he needs to go? What has been the political effect? Has something stopped in the state? What's the urgency?

SULLIVAN: I think a couple of things. One, he has admitted to violations of our state ethics laws. He has admitted to taking large sums of money from people doing business with the state, doing business with his office, taking gifts. But probably more important than that, he has come before the people of the state of Connecticut and lied to them.

And I think that's what is really in the minds of the people right now. That it's an issue of trust and whether there is trust to go forward and govern. And my fear is that if we are still in this, we go into session, our regular legislative session at the beginning of February.

This will hang like a cloud. Every issue before us will be seen in the context of this issue. There's a federal investigation still out there. And I think what the people in Connecticut have said is for the good of the man, for the good of the state, for the good of the process, let's move on, and governor, it would be the right thing to do to leave.

CROWLEY: I'm just wondering, Senator, I guess what I'm interested in, it's the polls that are telling you that Connecticut voters want him to leave. Yet, you can't want the polls on any given political figure to be the determinant of whether he leaves office.

SULLIVAN: No. I think the question is one, there's an admitted record of misdeeds. There isn't any doubt about that. And I think as his speech, which was very, in many respects, heartfelt last night, to the people of Connecticut, nonetheless the response of the people of Connecticut today is more people believed him less after that speech than believed him more after that speech.

And that's a tough row. He has to govern. He has to have trust.

Our Constitution charges the governor to faithfully, faithfully implement his duties. And the constitution has the greatest trust in his office. He's our chief executive. That, I think, is what the issue here is. And whether he can govern or not govern, and so far the evidence is that he will not govern with the confidence of the people. And probably not govern with the confidence of the legislature.

CROWLEY: Quickly, Senator Sullivan, is Rowland on his way out?

SULLIVAN: I was hopeful when we met with the governor the other day that he would choose to resign. He has said no. This has got to be an awful time in his life, to be facing the possible end of a long and distinguished political career over some of the things that he's done.

He will make that decision first. But at some point, and the point is this month, the legislature's got to make a decision on how we go forward, lest this become the burden that we carry to the detriment of everything else we need to do.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Connecticut State Senator Kevin Sullivan. We appreciate the time.

SULLIVAN: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Just ahead, they might not look like political activists, but looks can be deceiving. Punk rockers unite in an attempt to defeat President Bush in November.


CROWLEY: Two lighter news items from the campaign trail. The founding member of this band, Faith No More, is among the organizers of the Web site The site is home to a group of punk rockers who will be here in Iowa this weekend to offer details on their efforts to defeat President Bush.

Meanwhile, Democratic delegates heading to Boston get to fly an official airline. When they arrive they can ride in an official car. The "Boston Globe" says General Motors will be the official automaker of the Democratic Convention. The newspaper notes that DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe enjoyed his Cadillac Escalade so much during the last convention that he later bought one for himself.

We've all seen the most wanted Iraqi playing cards. Now supporters of Howard Dean have come up with their own deck of cards. The jack of spades is Dean's newest number one fan, former Vice President Al Gore. One of the joker cards has a little fun at Vice President Dick Cheney's expense. And of course the ace of spades is the candidate himself, a smiling Howard Dean.

Coming up next, will the leading lady of the Florida recount take the plunge and run for the Senate? Congresswoman Katherine Harris is inching toward a decision.

And in the second acts category, Gary Hart is considering another bid for public office. Those stories when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

Stay with us.



DEAN: I tend to say what I think. And that includes all of what I think, not just the part that's good for focus groups.

ANNOUNCER: Is Howard Dean suddenly watching his words? We'll ask his campaign manager if Dean is retooling his strategy and getting more tightlipped.

Back to the future in Florida. President Bush's return gives the political world a new jolt of deja vu.

Is Madonna rocking the vote? We'll look at the power of high profile presidential endorsements.



CROWLEY: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley filling in for Judy today.

Around this time in a presidential election year, Iowa and New Hampshire make up the center of the political universe, and Washington, D.C. suddenly seems to lose a bit of its luster, even though the district actually holds the first presidential contest just five days from now.

Our national correspondent, Bruce Morton, looks at the primary that gets no respect.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Reverend Al Sharpton visited Washington's Anacostia High School. The District has a primary next week, but it's unofficial, doesn't count, and most of the Democratic candidates aren't on the ballot. Sharpton talked about the city's colonial status. It can vote for president, but has no representation in Congress.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To because me it is against democratic principles that the nation's capital would not afford its residents with the right to vote on who represents them in Congress, in the Senate.

MORTON; One solution, make D.C. a state. Congress approved a constitutional amendment in 1985 but state legislatures didn't approve it. Other statehood bills have died in Congress. Why?

MARK PLOTKIN, WTOP POLITICAL ANALYST: We're too liberal in terms of political philosophy. We're too urban. We're city dwellers and there's an anti-urban bias. We're too Democratic Party affiliated, 77 percent of the registered voters in the district are Democrats. And finally, and not insignificantly, we're too black. Sixty percent of the population is black.

MORTON: A narrowly Republican Congress like this one isn't likely to welcome more Democrats. And the city seems not to mind much.

PLOTKIN: They take it, they accept it, this un-American status. And they learn how to navigate it.

MORTON: But, as Sharpton explained to the high school's government students, it's a little weird all the same.

SHARPTON: Now it seems crazy to me that the present president would want to assure one person, one vote in the capital of Iraq in Baghdad, but not assure one person one vote in the capital of the United States in Washington, D.C.

MORTON: But that's the way it is here and it's not likely to change. Jesse Jackson said once it could change when D.C. residents felt personally insulted. Now, they don't.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: Here in Iowa, a new John Kerry campaign ad began airing today, an apparent slap at the two Democrats running ahead in this state, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. Both of them have promised to repeal all the Bush tax cuts, including those on the middle-class.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband died of cancer a few years ago. I'm working full-time. Raising four boys, and on $28,000. I think it makes sense to roll back tax cuts on the wealthiest people in this country, but some candidates want to raise taxes on the middle class. We can't be taxed anymore. John Kerry's not going to raise taxes on the middle class.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think we should be asking the middle class to be the people who are going to pick up for George Bush's mistakes.


CROWLEY: Given attacks like that, there's talk the Dean campaign is preparing to embrace its own middle-class tax cut. In addition, the often outspoken Dean is said to be trying to hold his tongue on the trail.

We want to get the full story on the Dean strategy from campaign manager Joe Trippi who is with us from New Hampshire. Joe, thanks very much for joining us. So, a couple questions here. Have you really decided to sort of keep the candidates away from making those verbal -- you don't like to call them gaffes -- away from saying things that are sometimes misinterpreted?

JOE TRIPPI, DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Not at all. I think we're just at a stage now where it's more important to be talking with local reporters in Iowa and New Hampshire and be on local television in Iowa and make sure those -- that they have the opportunity to ask the questions and have the interviews. And the national press for the next 10, 15 days just becomes a little bit less important in terms of making sure we get our message out in Iowa and New Hampshire.

CROWLEY: So it sort of sounds like something the Bush White House is doing, was kind of going over the heads of the National Press Corps. You think you're getting a bad break...

TRIPPI: We're not trying to go over or under the heads of the National Press Corps. We're just trying to make sure that with ten days to go in Iowa that we're spending every bit of the moment we can speaking directly to the people of Iowa, directly to the people of New Hampshire through press or local events, where we can get our message out.

We've gone through the stage where for nine months we were desperately trying to get our message out nationally and it's worked. We're heading most of the national polls. But we've got to make sure that we win Iowa and New Hampshire. And that's what we're trying to do.

CROWLEY: Joe, let me get to the middle class tax cut. Will Howard Dean have a middle-class tax cut plan in the near future?

TRIPPI: Well, we're going to have tax reform plan that we will outline for the American people at some point in the next weeks or months. But, we stand by our position, and it's Dick Gephardt's position, as well, that the Bush tax cuts, every single one of them, needs to be repealed.

The Bush tax cuts are not about giving $100 to the average American, or $100,000 to millionaires. It's really about starving programs like Social Security and Medicare and public funding of education. And we believe we've got to turn that back and then sit down and give the people real tax fairness and make sure that low and middle-income people are reflected in tax reform.

But it's going to be an entire tax reform package. It won't be what -- name your price middle-class tax cut. That's one of the things that John Kerry's doing, you know, basically saying that we can cut taxes on the middle class, give health care to everybody, fund education, all these spending programs.

It's just not the truth. You're not being straight with the American people if you're going to maintain that you can spend all this money, give everybody their programs, and keep running these huge deficits. The governor, Governor Howard Dean's first thing is to balance the budget. That's the most important thing, to get our economy moving and to get people health care.

CROWLEY: Joe, let me ask you sort of bluntly, look, tax reform as you often know, comes in the form of tax relief for lower and middle income. This is sort of the first that we have heard about a tax reform package, at least recently. It looks as though, and your rivals are complaining, that the reason that you're now sort of talking about tax reform and perhaps a cut in the middle class is that you're getting nicked pretty hard by the complaints that you're actually going to increase taxes if you repeal all the Bush taxes.

TRIPPI: Not at all. We've been saying from the very beginning that we will repeal all the Bush tax cuts, that that's what you need to do to balance this budget. If you're really going to provide health care for every American, you have to do that. You have to repeal these tax cuts. If you're going to protect Social Security and Medicare and public funding of education, you have to do that.

And we've said from the beginning that we would be offering our own tax reform package, and we will. But we're not doing that before Iowa or New Hampshire, which would be the sort of old politics way of doing something, just go out there and pander to people. We're not going to do that. We will not do what John Kerry's doing.

CROWLEY: Quickly let me move back to another subject and that is the letter that you got from the Gephardt campaign, worrying that a previous suspicions that the Dean campaign was maybe going to use non- Iowans to go into these caucuses and vote. They think it's wider spread than we have talked about previously.

What are you doing to find out if there is anything like that going on into your campaign? What have you found? And are you aware of any of this?

TRIPPI: There isn't anything going on our campaign like that. Thirty-five hundred people have gone to Iowa because they want to change America's politics. To ask any of them to participate in something like, you know, disguising themselves and walking into a caucus and claiming they're an Iowan is ridiculous. We wouldn't do that. I think if we ask any of them to do it they'd get in their cars and drive back home.

What this campaign is about -- what's so threatening to the Gephardt campaign, is that 3,500 people from around this country, 48 states, have driven to Iowa to campaign on behalf of Howard Dean. If they've got a problem, the problem is they can't excite 3,500 people anywhere in this country to get in a car and go to Iowa for them.


TRIPPI: No! I mean first of all, it's ridiculous on its face. Iowa communities are pretty strong and they're pretty small in most place. To think that somebody in Mississippi is going to go door-to- door in that town and ask people to vote for Howard Dean and then show up in a caucus where everybody knows everybody in the town and say, Hi, I'm from here and I want to vote is ridiculous. You would never get away with it. We wouldn't even try it. I've done too many campaigns in that state.

I love that state. It is the most -- Iowa and New Hampshire are the best thing to ever happen to our country because it means all these candidates have to go there. They have to be seen in a living room, with real Americans. It's not just TV.

And they know, they get to meet these candidates and make their decision. There's no way you could do this in either of those two states. And Steve Murphy, the campaign manager for Dick Gephardt knows that. I was Dick Gephardt's deputy campaign manager in 1988. If my word's not good enough for Steve Murphy and Dick Gephardt, then I'm sorry about that. But that's the way it is. We're not doing it.

CROWLEY: Joe, thanks very much. Come back. It's warmer here now. We appreciate it.

TRIPPI: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: President Bush made a beeline out of Washington today for a political swing into the south. He flew to Florida from Tennessee a short while ago and he's due at a fund-raiser in Palm Beach County about two hours from now. His first visit to the county since the 2000 election dispute is enough to give CNN's John Zarrella a flashback.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: What were you doing there?

(voice-over): Remember this man?

JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY: This was during the recount. And I guess Theresa's (ph) probably looking at the next ballot and we're looking at somebody -- showing somebody something.

ZARRELLA: It's Judge Charles Burton. In November of 2000, Burton was chairman of the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board.

BURTON: I was told, you know, it's a presidential election year so you're just going to have to work a little late that night.

ZARRELLA: Burton's election supervisor Theresa LePore (ph) and county commissioner Carol Roberts (ph) worked more than three dozen nights. As President Bush makes his first return visit to the county of infamy, Burton is still a judge, LePore is still election supervisor and Roberts is out of office. Back then they were at the center of a recount and a butterfly ballot fiasco.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is an absolute certainty that if Palm Beach had designed a ballot that correctly reflected the views of the voters Al Gore would be president of the United States today.

ZARRELLA: The ballot, designed to make it easier for people to read, made it harder in some cases for people to vote, resulting in, many analysts say, thousands of miscast ballots. To this day, Democrats here are bitter. They call the president selected not elected.

The infamous butterfly ballot and the vote-a-matic machines are simply a part of history now. In fact about the only place you can find them here in Palm Beach county is at the museum.

BURTON: When you showed your voter I.D., you got a card like this...

ZARRELLA: Because of the confusion the ballot created the Science Museum in West Palm used the machine, which it bought on Ebay, and the ballot in its brain teaser exhibit.

JAMES ROLLINGS, SCIENCE MUSEUM: You have arrows pointing from both the left and the right, and people thought that the first hole was Republican, the second hole was Democrat, and that's where they went wrong. Because the second hole was Pat Buchanan. ZARRELLA: For many Democrats the president's visit opens old wounds. For Republicans, the visit is expected to open up wallets. John Zarrella, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


CROWLEY: We remain in Florida as we check the second edition of "Campaign News Daily." Congresswoman Katherine Harris appears closer to a decision on a possible run for the Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham. GOP sources say she is leaning toward entering the race which already includes former Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, considered the candidate most favored by the White House.

Former Senator Gary Hart is once again thinking about a return to politics. The AP says Hart may challenge incumbent Republican Ben Knighthorse Campbell of Colorado this fall. Hart was elected Colorado senator twice in '74 and 1980.

Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey is challenging fellow Republican Senator Arlen Specter and he's released a new ad blasting Specter's voting record as too liberal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1990s, Specter votes for the largest tax increase in history, opposes the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Today, Specter is rated the worst Republican senator. He even opposes the death penalty for Saddam Hussein. Arlen Specter, three decades of liberalism is enough.


As those ads hit the airwaves Senator Specter is not standing still. He kicked off a two-day campaign swing through the state this morning in Philadelphia.

George W. Bush returns to the scene of the chad and butterfly ballots. Coming up, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile are standing by to take issue on the presidential trip and more.

Plus politicians with stars in their corners. Do the celebrity endorsements really affect the voters?


CROWLEY: Bob Novak, who follows me everywhere I go, is here now with me in Des Moines. You've been talking to a bunch of people about the Democratic race. What are the dynamics right now?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Candy, some of the neutrals I talk to think there's really an uptick for Senator John Kerry here. A lot of Iowans apparently say he's their second choice.

Now that counts for something in Iowa because you can change your vote once you've started the caucus. Incidentally, there are over 900 union members from out of the state, in the state for Dick Gephardt right now.

That's not nearly as many as the out-of-towner college kids. And other people who come in for the frontrunner Governor Dean.

CROWLEY: So what is Gephardt's future at this point? Let's say Kerry does surprise us with a strong second? What next for Gephardt?

NOVAK: Some very prominent, high-level Republican sources in Missouri who are putting out the word that Dick Gephardt, if he loses this caucus, will immediately get out of the race and announce for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri held by Republican Rich Bond right now.

I asked Congressman Gephardt about that this morning. He said there was no way he will run for the Senate. He suggests this was a fund-raising gimmick for Rich Bond.

CROWLEY: And a smart one, too. Listen, let's talk about whether politics, because you can't be in Iowa and have a caucus without worrying about the weather. How do you parse that?

NOVAK: Too far away for a long range forecast. But if the weather is bad the experts here say it will really hurt John Kerry because they feel his people are not as committed.

It would hurt some of Gephardt's older people. He's got a lot of the senior citizens. It would hurt least Howard Dean who's got these zealots who don't care about the weather. Bad weather, good for Dean.

CROWLEY: Everybody's praying for sunshine except for maybe Dean. Let me ask you about the question here in Iowa. Tom Harkin, very respected senator, is he going to endorse somebody?

NOVAK: He is the most popular Democrat in the state right now. The Dean people told me that he will not endorse. He has not said anything. I don't know whether the Dean people are setting this up for a huge surprise. Wow, he endorsed, but I think the consensus is that even though he's not saying anything, Tom Harkin won't endorse. But he's a very clever politician, and everybody is saying, gee, I wonder what Tom will do.

CROWLEY: Set you up? Never happen, right? Thanks, Bob.

NOVAK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Still ahead, celebrities try to strike a chord for their favorite candidates.

But next, will she try moving to the other side of Capitol Hill? Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan take issue on Katherine Harris' political ambitions.


CROWLEY: With us now former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan president of American Cause. So it's colder there in D.C. now than it is in Des Moines. Serves you right. (CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Let me go straight to this whole Dean tax cut thing. It seems to me in talking to Joe Trippi if I were a cynic I would say they're putting up hints that they actually will have some relief for the middle class but they're calling it tax reform and they're putting it off later. Donna, what's going on here?

DONNA BRAZILE, FRM. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Look, I think Governor Dean has been consistent on this one. He's called for a repeal of the Bush tax cut across the board from day one in order to pay for his health care proposal and also to reduce the deficit.

The campaign is likely to put out a tax reform package that would include some relief to the middle class but we won't see that package until the president shows his hand sometime next month.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: It's clearly a flip- flop, Candy.


BUCHANAN: It's clearly a flip-flop. I mean he has to eat his words. He spent most of the last year saying that the president's tax plan was an awful thing, it should be repealed, which basically says he wants to raise taxes on everyone. All of a sudden he becomes aware of the fact this is not a strong position, especially since that tax cut contributed to the economic recovery.

So he has to eat those words, flip-flop. His own opponents in the Democratic primary know this. And I can assure you that George Bush will not have it overlooked either in the general election.

BRAZILE: I don't think it's a flip-flop. I think this is the revolution of Howard Dean on the tax package, which, of course, like most Democrats who opposed the tax cuts to the very wealthy, he will come up with his own tax plan and hopefully it's fair and equitable and will create a stimulus in this country.

CROWLEY: But, Donna, if he spent all this time saying we really can't afford a tax cut because we've got to pay for health care and special ed and the packages that he has out there, aren't you going to be a little surprised if he puts out a tax reform plan in a couple of weeks, after Iowa and after New Hampshire and says well but here's your tax relief? You don't see any kind of...

BRAZILE: No, I don't see a contradiction. Look, the president may put out another -- there's a hint now that the White House might put out more tax cuts in the president's State of the Union. I think Howard Dean should respond to that as well as the other candidates who are still viable when the president put out his budget.

I don't see it as an inconsistency. I see that Howard Dean is still trying to keep his same line on the tax cuts, which is they're bad for America, they've created a huge deficit, and they should be repealed. BUCHANAN: They should be repealed. But by the way, I will increase them, as well, because -- I mean I will decrease them, as well, because that's what the American people want. This is completely a political tactic because he was wrong. He knows now he was absolutely wrong on tax policy and he's going to have to explain that.

CROWLEY: Let me move to Donna's favorite word now, Florida. George Bush is there for about the umpteenth time of his administration. Donna, tell me what the dynamics are in Florida right now for '04.

BRAZILE: I think Florida will continue to be competitive in 2004. That's why the president has traveled there, you know a half dozen, maybe a dozen times. I guess he's in Palm Beach now to make sure he didn't leave any chads behind or any butterfly ballots -- with Bay's brother on it.

But the fact of the matter is, Democrats have a real shot at winning Florida again in 2004. And that's because the population increase that has occurred in Florida, I believe, are good demographics for Democrats in '04.

BUCHANAN: You know, Candy, this is...


CROWLEY: Bay, let me just ask you, because I want you to get the last word in here. But I want to introduce another name, Katherine Harris. We're hearing that she may run in Florida. Does that change the dynamic for Republicans for the president?

BUCHANAN: Well, obviously the Republican establishment think it does. There cannot be a better get out the vote tool for the Democrats than putting Katherine Harris on that ticket. I would agree there with them.

But she has a right to vote. She's the No. 3 fund-raiser in this country only behind the president and the vice president. She's running way ahead of any other potential primary opponents. And the president is putting all kinds of effort. There's going to be enormous get out the vote effort down there for Republicans.

So anyone who wins that nomination is going to very likely win that seat. So I think it would be good to see another woman in the Senate for Republicans.

CROWLEY: Last word. Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, come on out the weather is fine, both of you.

BRAZILE: We will.

CROWLEY: Who gives a hoot if Hootie and the Blowfish are supporting John Edwards? And even if Madonna justifies her choice of Wesley Clark, will music fans follow her to the voting booth? Coming up, the politics of celebrity endorsements. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: When it's primary or caucus day in your state maybe someone will tell you, "I'm here because Madonna supports Wesley Clark" or "If Willie Nelson is for Dennis Kucinich, so am I."

Here is national correspondent Kelly Wallace with the 2004 hit parade of celebrity endorsements.


PETER YARROW, MUSICIAN: Dear John, I need your help.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seems more like a who's who list of rock 'n' roll. Peter from Peter, Paul and Mary writing a song for John Kerry. Willie Nelson jamming for Dennis Kucinich.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The band from South Carolina, Hootie and the Blowfish.

WALLACE: Most of Hootie and the Blowfish hooting it up for John Edwards. And are you ready for this? The Material Girl backing the retired general. Madonna recently put this letter on her Web site, urging her fans to support Wesley Clark, his site now only a click away from hers.

MADONNA, ENTERTAINER: I think he's a natural-born leader.

WALLACE: In Iowa, this view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I read that Madonna was supporting him, it's like, Eh, it's Madonna.

WALLACE: In New York City, something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I laugh now or later?

WALLACE (on camera): You're laughing now.

(voice-over): If Madonna does not impress, what about this blast from the past?

SHERRON WATKINS, ENRON WHISTLE-BLOWER: Politics became personal to me because of the Enron scandal.

WALLACE: Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistle-blower who made her first on the stump appearance with Clark Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're asking a Republican, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a democratic city, and you want an answer. I'm sorry. But I can't.

WALLACE (on camera): I think I've got my answer.

(voice-over): There's always been this mix between celebrities, new and old ones, and politicians. Why should this year, with nine candidates in a mad dash for the Democratic nomination be any different?

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR: I'm very proud, I'm very honored to throw my support and endorse Howard Dean for president of the United States.

WALLACE: So the Democratic front-runner brings out actor-turned- director Rob Reiner while the group Crosby, Stills and Nash veals a democracy at work. Stills goes for Kerry, Crosby and Nash for Dean. But does any of this even matter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their music is good, that's cool. But political advertisements and endorsements are two different things. two separate categories.

WALLACE (on camera): Do you think the celebrity endorsements help or should they just stay out of it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay out of it. Stay out of it. Stick to what you know.

WALLACE (voice-over): Ouch. But sorry, ma'am, celebrity intrigue with Washington shows no signs of going away.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, New York.


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


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