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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

The Bush Campaign: Full Steam Ahead?; Kerry Looking South and at President Bush

Aired February 9, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Ten for 12 in 2004. John Kerry is thinking beyond the primary season, with his sights squarely on President Bush.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like father, like son, one term and you're done.

ANNOUNCER: The president hits the heartland. Is his reelection message getting through?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's essential that I explain this properly.

ANNOUNCER: How did he do in the Sunday morning hot seat? The reviews still are coming in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

We begin with President Bush, seemingly deeper than ever into 2004 election mode after his rare Sunday talk show appearance and with John Kerry looking more and more like his probable rival. Mr. Bush flew today to Missouri, a state likely to be pivotal in the general election.

CNN's Dana Bash has more from the White House -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, it's really become a pattern for the president to go to states right after the Democrats have had their primary. Last week, it was South Carolina. And the week before that, New Hampshire.

Today, as you said, is Missouri. The president was there. His 15th time in that Show-Me State since he has been in office. The state he narrowly won in 2000. And as important as Iraq and national security are in terms of issues to this White House this election year, the president's advisers look back through recent history and say the economy is still the make-it-or-break-it issue for incumbent presidents. Now, the president stepped it up a notch today in Missouri in defending his economic policies by hitting back at Democrats, those Democrats who have been saying that his $1 trillion in tax cuts that he's passed since he's been in office are actually hurting the economy. To those Democrats who say they want to repeal at least some of the tax cuts, here's the president's new response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: They're going to raise the taxes and increase the size of the federal government, which would be bad for the United States' economy. People have got to understand and listen to the rhetoric carefully. When they say they're going to repeal Bush's tax cuts, that means they're going to raise your taxes. And that's wrong. And that's bad economics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the president's economic team released a new report today saying that the economy will get better in 2004. But there still is a lot of work to be done for this White House to convince voters of that.

Take a look at the latest CNN-Time poll. When asked about how the president is handling the economy, only 43 percent say he's doing a good job. That's down from just a couple of weeks ago. And then on the federal deficit, only 33 percent say a good job. That, of course, is $520 billion this year, according to the White House.

Now, the key problem for the president, of course, is still unemployment. He was in Missouri. That is a state that has lost about 73,000 jobs. That's of the more than two million lost this year.

The other thing, Judy, that the president's economic team said today is that they expect all those job losses to be recovered this coming year, but that's also something that they said last year. Last year they said more than 1.5 million would be gained in 2003, but they lost 50,000 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana, very quickly, how does the White House feel the president did yesterday in his interview on "Meet the Press?"

BASH: Well, as you can imagine, when you talk to them they said they feel that he did pretty well. They said that they feel that he handled the questions right. They got the message across, and that message, of course, is that -- as you heard him say, many, many times -- is that he feels that he did what is right. That he is somebody who is a wartime president who can take the lead when he feels like he has to and makes the tough decisions when he has to.

That is the theme of this White House going into the election year. It's something we're going to hear time and time again -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana at the White House. Thank you. Well, Democratic front-runner John Kerry is campaigning today in Virginia and Tennessee, looking to add those states to his win column on Tuesday. Kerry has finished first in all but two of the 12 primaries and caucuses so far, including weekend contests in Michigan, Washington State and Maine. With over 80 percent of caucus sites reporting in Maine, unofficial tallies show Kerry with 45 percent, Howard Dean with 26 percent, Dennis Kucinich with 16 percent.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is on the trail with Kerry today in the South.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With so much momentum behind him after winning the first 10 of 12 presidential contests, John Kerry appears to have already started the general election campaign. Earlier today, in Roanoke, Virginia, and over the weekend, Kerry never mentioned his rivals. Instead, focusing entirely on President Bush. He is exuding the confidence of a candidate that most analysts believe is virtually unstoppable now in his quest for the Democratic nomination.

KERRY: This president has the worst jobs record of the last 11 presidents combined. And I say, I don't think we need a new report about jobs in America, I think we need a new president who's going to create jobs in America and put America back to work.

WALLACE: Despite barely campaigning in Virginia and Tennessee, polls show the Massachusetts senator with a sizable lead. Right now, he is trying to stick to one page of his winning play book, appealing to veterans and military retirees. But the campaign still has to do some damage control.

An Associated Press story charges that Senator Kerry, from 1985 to 1990, received $120,000 in speaking fees from groups such as oil and tobacco companies. A senior Kerry campaign adviser said the senator did what was allowed under the law back then. That he spoke to a range of groups, including high schools and universities, and that these issues were raised in previous campaigns, and that voters showed they did not care.

There have been a handful of stories involving Senator Kerry's past political donations. In light of his campaign pledge to try and get special interests out of the White House, so far it does not appear that any of these stories are slowing down John Kerry's momentum.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, reporting from Roanoke, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, having said that, the Democratic contest is not over yet. But many party members around the country can't help but look ahead to the fall. And they're hopping on the Kerry bandwagon in the process.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, crunches the latest national poll numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Polls show Democrats are rallying to John Kerry. The latest CNN-USA Today- Gallup poll shows a majority of Democrats now favors the front-runner over the other candidates in the race. Kerry's support sweeps across all categories of Democrats: men and women, moderates and liberals, old and young. And, yes, southern Democrats, too.

Kerry's support among southern Democrats is greater than the support for John Edwards and Wesley Clark combined. Kerry's claim on the nomination is based on electability.

KERRY: We're here today to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency. That's what this is.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHNEIDER: How does he hold up against President Bush? It's neck and neck in the latest CNN-"USA Today" Gallup poll taken over the weekend. Bush 49; Kerry 48.

Other polls taken since last Tuesday also show a close race. Bush by two in the CNN-Time poll. Kerry by five, still within the margin of error in the Newsweek poll. Bush by four in the Fox News poll. Every poll, too close to call.

Kerry's claim of electability is not that he's a sure winner, it's that he's a lot better bet than the other Democrats. Let's compare.

Bush leads Kerry by one point. Bush leads Edwards by four. He leads Clark by five. Howard Dean, who also premised his campaign on electability, loses to Bush by -- gulp -- 10 points. This and other polls shows Dean as the surest loser of the top candidates.

Why does Kerry show strongest against Bush? Is it because only he can rally Democrats? He certainly does that.

Ninety-one percent of Democrats support Kerry over Bush, a spectacular display of party unity. Especially in the middle of the primaries. Democrats are just as united as Republicans.

But Edwards, Clark and even Dean get about 90 percent support from their fellow Democrats. The guy uniting Democrats isn't Kerry, it's George W. Bush. But Kerry takes a majority of Independents. That's where he does better than Edwards, Clark and Dean. It's Kerry's appeal to swing voters, not to Democrats, that makes him look like a potential winner.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Did President Bush's television interview Sunday morning have any impact on the race? Can't say yet. Almost all the interviewing in these polls was done before that interview was broadcast -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Maybe we'll see something in the days to come.

SCHNEIDER: We should.

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

Well, John Edwards says that the president's "Meet the Press" interview showed that he is out of touch with average Americans. Edwards is stumping today in Virginia and Tennessee, states where he's hoping to finish at least second tomorrow. Edwards contends the Democratic race will continue into March, despite John Kerry's string of victories.

Wesley Clark is focusing on Tennessee, where he says he believes he has the best shot of edging out Edwards for second place. Clark today told Tennessee that even if he is an underdog he is the best candidate to run against President Bush.

Meantime, Howard Dean is camped out in Wisconsin, where the February 17 primary a week from tomorrow could be his last stand. Today, Dean relished his second place finishes in all three caucuses this past weekend. And he downplayed the loss of the big AFSCME union endorsement.

We'll have reports on the Edwards and the Clark campaigns and their showdown in the South.

Also ahead, snap shots from Tennessee and Virginia. What are Democrats there looking for? And could John Kerry fit the bill?

Up next, Monday afternoon quarterbacking after the president's Sunday TV performance. We'll hear from Republican Mary Matalin and Democrat Rahm Emanuel.

And Madonna may have endorsed Wesley Clark, but it was another music star who got political at the Grammys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The president's Sunday morning talk show appearance has provided plenty of material for his supporters and for his Democratic opponents. But as Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" reports, much of what the president had to say covered familiar ground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): President Bush survived his hour with Tim Russert without any major bruises. But he spent the entire hour on the defensive, like a witness in a courtroom deposition. And even conservatives felt let down. Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan saying the president seemed tired, unsure, and often bumbling.

Each time the "Meet the Press" host asked about Iraq and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, Bush seemed to rely on the same set of talking points. At one point acknowledging that he sounded like a broken record.

BUSH: I expected to find the weapons. He had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum. He had the capacity to have a weapon, make a weapon. We thought he had weapons.

KURTZ: The same went for his description of Saddam.

BUSH: In other words, you can't rely upon a madman. You're not going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trust a madman.

KURTZ: Presidents can make news at any time, in speeches, in press conferences, in overseas trips. But the surprise here was that Bush, in his first Sunday morning interview as president, made no effort to generate headlines and said little he hadn't said before. When Russert asked about the struggling economy, Bush blamed it on an inherited recession and 9/11. And on this point, Bush said his tax cuts would generate jobs.

"That hasn't happened," Russert said. "It's happening," said the president. Bush offered no new information on this AWOL charge being trumpeted by Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: George Bush was supposed to have shown up in the Alabama National Guard. He didn't show up.

BUSH: They're just wrong. There may be no evidence, but I did report.

KURTZ: Today's headlines tell the story. "President Offers Defense on War and the Economy," said The New York Times. "President Defends Iraq War Decision," said USA Today. And you can't score points when you're on defense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Our apologies. Obviously something's wrong with the audio from Howard Kurtz. He was giving us some commentary there from The Washington Post newsroom. We're going to try to get that straightened out. But our apologies to all of you and to Howard.

Well, meantime, with me now to talk a little bit more about the president, about the campaign, and White House political strategy, is Mary Matalin. She's a longtime GOP strategist and a senior adviser to the Bush campaign.

Mary Matalin, we heard enough from Howard Kurtz to hear him say that the president was on the defensive. Is that what this was about?

MARY MATALIN, BUSH CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: No, absolutely not. I'm glad I didn't hear that. I've heard quite enough of that.

The point was that after $26 million, and months of nothing but Bush bashing -- we understand that that's their primary -- it was time for Americans, all Americans, to just hear from the president. It wasn't a newsmaker. He's always a newsmaker is right.

But the context of his short-term national security policy and his long-term foreign policy has been lost in all this primary cacophony. And that was the point, to put it back in context to give the big picture.

WOODRUFF: What about the comments from Peggy Noonan, well-known conservative Republican former speechwriter. She wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal online. She said the president seemed tired, unsure, often bumbling, he did not seem prepared.

MATALIN: Peggy's a poet. You know, this is a Sunday morning show. The point was to get out the information and education, and on the president's big policies, on national security, on economic security, and put it back in context.

There's been a lot of puny, petty, partisanship going on out in the silly season out there. You've been covering it. I've been out there. And I know, having seen you on the road, the Republicans out there want to hear from their president, their candidates, and all Americans want to put this into sometime of context.

That was all it was meant to be. And it certainly did accomplish that well.

WOODRUFF: This interview format a good format for him, the president, do you think?

MATALIN: Yes, I think people want to hear how this president thinks, how -- he has very strong convictions about facing this threat. A threat that this country has not had to face in its history. A threat that only America can attend to.

We're the only ones that can. And if not now, when? And they need to know from -- they need to see that conviction and the passion that he feels for this policy he's putting into play.

WOODRUFF: Mary Matalin, let me ask you about a specific thing the president said in the interview. He said repeatedly he went to the U.N. seeking a diplomatic alternative to the war with Iraq. But didn't the U.S. actually reject a number of efforts on the part of the U.N. to find the diplomatic solution?

MATALIN: No, they did not. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously that Saddam was in violation, and that there would be serious consequences for its continued being in violation by the perpetuation of these weapons of mass destruction.

And the other thing that's been widely misreported or miscast by the Democrats, since Dr. Kay's interim report over there, were there may or may not be stockpiles. We don't know that yet. But what Dr. Kay said was that Saddam presented an even bigger threat in this unstable world than they thought was the case before he went in there. So the president removed a threat during the war on terror.

WOODRUFF: Quick question about someone you know very well, Vice President Cheney. He's come under fire lately. People -- a lot of charges out there about Halliburton overcharging, conflict of interest.

One Republican, Scott Reed, has said the chatter on Cheney has increased in the last two weeks. He's moved into the Bush world. You either love him or hate him. Is this going to be -- is the vice president a vulnerability for this president?

MATALIN: Absolutely not. He is an extraordinary asset, particularly in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), where national security is the biggest debate we've had in our lifetimes. There is no greater public servant with the breadth and depth of experience that the vice president has.

There's increased chatter because the Democrats are in full partisan mode. And their favorite target has been from the outset of this administration has been Dick Cheney. It's the proof of how effective he is.

WOODRUFF: Mary Matalin, we're always delighted to have you in.

MATALIN: Well, we're happy you're home. For what, an hour or so, Judy?

WOODRUFF: For a couple of days. Mary Matalin, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

Well, in a minute, Democratic reaction to the president's session with Tim Russert. A former member of the Clinton administration takes issue with President Bush on the shape of the economy before the president took office, among other things

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now with his reaction to President Bush's television interview yesterday, little Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who was an adviser to president Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998. He joins us from Chicago.

REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Hey, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Emanuel, I don't know if you were able to hear, but Mary Matalin just basically said the president was not on the defensive. He made his case very strongly. This was a good format for him.

EMANUEL: Well, Judy, what I find, everybody's talking about how he wanted to get his message out. He needs to talk about Iraq and the economy. The interesting thing is, we're only two weeks past the State of the Union. I mean, that's supposed to be the high point.

The reason he had to get back out and do something on "Meet the Press" to address the country was because the State of the Union was an absolute dud. And his actual numbers compared to other State of the Unions for every other president, rather than going up, actually went down.

And on the issue of the economy and Iraq, he laid out a message which was the status quo, stay the course. And he's left Democrats with the agenda of change in a new direction. And it's ironic that they're saying, look, he's been taking a beating out there. And so two weeks after the State of the Union we've got to get people to hear us.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me just...

EMANUEL: He just had an audience of 65 million people at the State of the Union. And it totally, because of the policies and the message, fell flat.

WOODRUFF: I hear you. Let me ask you about something that he did say yesterday. He said in the last year of President Clinton, he said discretionary spending was up 15 percent. Our spending has steadily declined. In other words, your administration, the Clinton administration, deserves a lot of the blame for the size of this huge deficit.

EMANUEL: Well, you know, it's also -- I find it's a part of a pattern. On the deficit, he blames it on everything but the tax cuts. And you cannot finance three wars with three tax cuts and expect a different result than $521 billion in deficit.

The Heritage Foundation said President Clinton over the term of his life, the discretionary spending went up only three percent. The Heritage Foundation. So this is -- why shift blame?

In fact, spending has gone up under his president. But you cannot finance three wars with three tax cuts and expect a different result. And rather than take blame -- go ahead, Judy.

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, let me ask you about what the president is saying today out in Missouri. He's saying, "When the Democrats talk about rolling back some of my tax cuts, they're talking about raising taxes." How is that ever going to be a winning issue for Democrats?

EMANUEL: Well, we need to offer, as I've laid out before and talked on this show before, is about an agenda on tax reform that's wholesale on tax reform. But on poll after poll, but also on policy direction over policy direction.

As a matter of fact, ask the American people, would they like full funding for our police officers, our firefighters, or a tax cut for the top one percent? They'll put our police and firefighters. And so, in that sense, I think we can make that case about tax reform and funding the services on education and health care the American people want. It's about choices.

WOODRUFF: The Democratic race, Congressman Emanuel, you've been supporting Wesley Clark. If he does not win in Tennessee or Virginia tomorrow, should he stay in the race? EMANUEL: Well obviously there's nothing like winning in politics. And the general will make an assessment if he doesn't win whether he can continue to carry his campaign forward.

I think that, you know, obviously winning like he did in Oklahoma gave him a reason and a purpose to continue in Tennessee and Virginia. If he doesn't win there, he has to take a realistic assessment both not only on resources but on what the voters are saying. And then obviously he'll meet with some of the people who have been working on the campaign to make that assessment.

WOODRUFF: Is General Clark right to be going after John Kerry right now for being a Washington insider?

EMANUEL: Well, he's drawing a contrast on their two records, and saying, look, here are the choices between us. And why he thinks being an outsider he would be more electable in November. And that's a fair thing to draw a contrast on.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. Rahm Emanuel, congressman from the state of Illinois, joining us from Chicago. Thank you very much.

EMANUEL: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Great to see you. We appreciate it.

In just a minute, we're going to head back into the campaign trail. The mid-South takes the spotlight in tomorrow's primaries. But will it be in the Republican column come November?

Later, the sweet and savory taste of victory. It was time to pay off a bet and settle a score on Capitol Hill

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, it is with great pleasure that I endorse you, urge all my friends in Virginia to vote for you come Tuesday.

ANNOUNCER: He's got some big endorsements and he's up in the polls. But can John Kerry win in the South?

Thinning the ranks?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is quickly narrowing to a two-person race.

ANNOUNCER: But who will be the last man standing next to John Kerry?

He can play a mean saxophone, but that wasn't the reason it was an award-winning night for Bill Clinton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back on another presidential primary eve. When Democrats vote tomorrow in Tennessee and Virginia, front-runner John Kerry is hoping to prove his viability in the south. A Tennessee poll out today shows Kerry 23 points ahead of Wesley Clark. He's running neck and neck with John Edwards for second place. The latest Virginia poll also shows Kerry with a wide lead, with Edwards slightly ahead of Clark for second place. Kerry is campaigning in both those states today, turning his attention toward a likely face-off with President Bush, even as he keeps working to lock up the nomination.

John Edwards says there is still mileage in the Democratic race, and in his bid to be the leading alternative to Kerry. And he says that that will remain true tomorrow, even if he loses to Kerry in his native south. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has more from Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Since winning in South Carolina just about a week ago, John Edwards has spent much of his time on a continuous round trip between Virginia and Tennessee. This morning, in Morrison, Tennessee, a tiny town which has recently found out its plant will be closing and taking away 1,300 jobs, Edwards talked a lot about both his policies, but most importantly what he believes is his biggest asset, where he came from. Edwards is a multimillionaire now but he has southern roots and a modest background. He believes for Democrats worrying that the south has turned irretrievably Republican, he is just the ticket.

EDWARDS: The south is not George Bush's backyard. It is my backyard. And I will beat George Bush in my backyard.

CROWLEY: Still it is possible that tomorrow Edwards will lose two of the states in his backyard to John Kerry, a northeasterner.

EDWARDS: What we have been preparing for the entire time is a nomination process that will go on well into March. We're prepared for that. We have the resources to do that. And most importantly we have a message that it's obvious resonates with voters here. People want real change in this country. And they know that I'll bring them that change.

CROWLEY: At the very least Edwards would like a pair of seconds tomorrow in Tennessee, and Virginia. He will settle for less. He has already been to Wisconsin once. He intends to go there and stick in this race, he says, until it becomes a one-on-one between John Edwards and John Kerry. Candy Crowley, CNN, Norfolk, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And now to the candidate that Edwards would like to nudge out of the way in tomorrow's primaries. Wesley Clark is in Tennessee today and that's where we find CNN's Dan Lothian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Retired General Wesley Clark in what some consider a do or die situation here in the Volunteer state continued reaching out to voters at a blues club here in Memphis. He asked supporters, quote, "if you put me on third base, I'll take it home." Clark, who got a haircut on the campaign trail, also appeared at two other morning events where he was pushing his tax plan and his whole program of family values. But Clark also, for the first time, talked about his personal feelings on the current hot issue of gay marriage.

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm real proud of my son, he's married, he's got a child. But if he were gay, I would love him. And I wouldn't want him to be discriminated against.

LOTHIAN: I asked General Clark whether he was concerned that his message might be lost with so much attention being paid to the front- runner, Senator John Kerry? He acknowledged that momentum is an issue, but he said he hopes that voters can connect with his issues. Dan Lothian, CNN, Memphis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: For more on tomorrow's southern contest, let's bring in CNN's Bob Franken. He's all the way over in Arlington, Virginia -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually at one of the landmarks of Arlington and that is Bob & Hugh's Diner (ph) which is an all-night diner, it's a collection of military types here and regrettably we find that military types, of course, are not able to speak about their preferences about the election. But what we're finding as we talk to people throughout the day, is that the south is not all that different from what we've seen in the northern states. That is to say there's a lot of interest in John Kerry, even though he's not one of the southerners, John Kerry has created an impressionable electability here.

The other thing that's to be remembered is not only is there a heavy military presence in Virginia, we're not far from the Pentagon, but throughout the state there is a variety of naval bases and the like, there's a large veterans population and John Kerry has been making his appeal to them. So far it's been resonating. There seems to be less of a desire to go with the southern good old boys, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) use the impression, but Wesley Clark and John Edwards have both made a big deal out of the fact that they're from the south.

And there's been very little indication, here or in other parts of the state, that that's going to be the big issue. The polls seem to bear that out. They're saying that John Kerry is going to win. He has the Democratic establishment behind him. Certainly the governor here. And in Tennessee. So, all indications are that the southern strategy's going to be very simple for John Kerry. To win in the south like he's won in the north -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Bob, what about the differences between Edwards And Clark? Are people even noticing enough to say that there are differences that they see?

FRANKEN: Well, there are some, of course. But for the most part it's all between John Kerry and everybody else. And as far as Clark and Edwards are concerned, their strategy now seems to be not to win in the south as they were hoping to show that they can win, but to be the one who comes in second, so that person can make the claim that he is the one who go one-on-one with John Kerry. Forgetting, of course, that there's somebody up north named Howard Dean who's ready to do the same thing next week in Wisconsin.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bob Franken in Arlington. By the way, we thought there were diners only in the state of Iowa. We're glad to know there's some right over there in Arlington. Thank you, Bob.

Howard Dean is continuing with his Wisconsin or bust so-called campaign strategy before the February 17 primary there. In the Badger state today, Dean portrayed himself as a reformer. He unveiled new proposals for improving disclosure rules for lobbyists and he repeatedly invoked the name of Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold, sponsor of the new campaign finance reform law. Feingold has told CNN that he is unlikely to endorse any Democrat in this primary season.

Checking the headlines now in our campaign news daily. Maine caucus goers appear to have given Dennis Kucinich his best finish so far in the Democratic contest. With 80 percent reporting, Kucinich is in third place with 16 percent of the vote. Part of his strategy, Kucinich had encouraged Maine's sizable minority of Green Party voters to switch their registrations and vote for him.

Al Sharpton is trumpeting his finish in Saturday's Michigan caucuses. Sharpton finished fourth. But he won seven delegates with a strong showing in the Detroit area. New locations for caucus sites and some last-minute closures kept some Detroit Democrats from attending the caucuses. African-American leaders in the city today are angry. They're calling on a state party co-chairman to resign.

Al Gore is denouncing President Bush once again and he's using increasingly harsh language to make his point. His latest remarks in an event last night in Tennessee. Question the president's rationale for removing Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He betrayed this country. He took America on a foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Former vice president getting pretty worked up in Tennessee last night. Well, North Carolina's John Edwards and Arkansas Wesley Clark promise that they'll attract southern voters if they end up at the Democratic nomination. Coming up we'll consider the chances of Massachusetts' John Kerry down south in Dixie.

Later we'll look at the somewhat confusing delegate process and at the delegate numbers which are beginning to add up.

And you don't have to keep up with popular music to get the political point of an acceptance speech at the Grammy awards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: John Edwards and Wesley Clark are fighting to keep their campaigns alive in tomorrow's Virginia and Tennessee primaries. But has the midsouth suddenly become John Kerry country and would it be this November? Joining me from Charlottesville is the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato. First of all, Larry Sabato, if John Kerry is able to pull off a win in Virginia and Tennessee tomorrow what does that say about his ability to win either state or anywhere in the south in November?

LARRY SABATO, POLITICAL ANALYST, UNIV. OF VIRGINIA: Not a lot, Judy. You know how these primaries go. They're low turnout primaries. They draw mainly liberal Democrats to the polls. I know in Virginia probably a 10 percent turnout. Maybe 400,000 to 500,000 Democrats. While there are 4.2 million registered voters in Virginia. So I don't think it says a thing. And I think we need to remember the history of the blue states and the red states and the fact that not all that much has really changed since 2000. On social issues.

WOODRUFF: You mean in terms of the economy. Although the Democrats hammer away at the loss of jobs, even Republicans in the south are telling me that they have some concern about job loss across parts of the south.

SABATO: That's true, Judy. Take South Carolina, for instance. I think that clearly Bush has lost some support in South Carolina. That's why he's down there trying to repair some of the damage after the Democrats left. But, look at the results from 2000. Bush has a lot of points to fritter away in South Carolina. To win the electoral college you don't have to carry a state by a landslide. You just have to carry it by one more vote than the other candidate.

So, Bush has so many points to fritter away in the vast majority of the southern states, that I really don't see Kerry being a threat in more than a few. But suppose we put John Boro (ph) on the ticket from Louisiana. He'd carry Louisiana. Suppose he sent Bill Clinton in for the last two weeks of general election to campaign in Arkansas. I bet he'd carry Arkansas. But it's going to take something like that, a state by state to pull even two or three southern states into Kerry's towel.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's go back a little bit and talk about right now though. Even before we get to this nomination, you still have John Edwards and Wesley Clark saying one of them, say they are going to win one or both of these states of Tennessee and Virginia tomorrow. I mean, could that happen based on what you're seeing in the polls and if it doesn't happen, is it likely that one of them or both of them will get out of the race?

SABATO: Well, I'm looking at the same polls you are. We all know that polls are sometimes wrong. And especially in a primary process. Because, turnouts are low. And in a primary process, you could have buyer's remorse. The Democrats can look at the situation and say, either gee, I don't know that Kerry is the best candidate, or they can say I don't really want to end the process this soon. I think I'll vote for another candidate to keep this going for a few more weeks while we consider our options.

So yes, it's possible that an upset could happen tomorrow. But I think all indications are that Kerry will win Virginia and Tennessee. And if he does, it's very difficult to see how Kerry and Edwards can go on. Kerry has won -- rather Edwards and Clark can go on. Edwards has won South Carolina. Clark has won Oklahoma by a fingernail. That's not enough, and Kerry has won everything else.

WOODRUFF: Well, when southerners go to the polls, are they taking electability into consideration as much as we're hearing it was taken into consideration in Iowa and New Hampshire and so many of the states that voted on February 3?

SABATO: Judy, they're taking electability into consideration, but remember, they're comparing or had been comparing John Kerry to Howard Dean. Howard Dean in the southern view whether it's right or wrong, Howard Dean is seen as being far left. Kerry is simply seen as being liberal. And most of the Democrats who vote in the south are really just like the Democrats who vote in the north. They tend to be liberal Democrats. So it doesn't bother them that Kerry has a liberal record in the Senate. Believe me, it will bother the general electorates in the south come November.

WOODRUFF: All right, very early in the process. But never too early to talk to Larry Sabato. Thanks very much for talking with me.

SABATO: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We just heard Larry mention Howard Dean. And in fact, Dean has been making some comments today on the trail in Wisconsin about what happened to his campaign going forward. Let's check in with our Joe Johns. He's been with the Dean campaign the last few days. He's on the telephone now with us from Green Bay. Joe, what is the former governor saying?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Howard Dean has apparently changing directions in a sudden about-face. He says he will stay in the race for president no matter what happens here in Wisconsin. He made the statement in interviews with local television. He said, quote, "I've just been convinced we're not going to drop out. There's too many people that have come up to me and said whatever you do, don't drop out. I don't know what's going to happen in Wisconsin. But we're going to find a way one way or the other." And asked if he was planning to stay in for the long haul, he did say yes. So, of course, as you know, it was just last week that the Dean campaign was saying in a fund-raising letter that if he didn't win Wisconsin on February 17 he could be out of the race. He never said on the record for sure that he would quit the race. And now, Judy, it appears that Howard Dean has decided to stay in no matter what. A lot of Democrats, as you know, have been concerned, even pressuring behind the scenes for him to get out, so that all of the party can coalesce around the front line. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Joe Johns, who's covering the Howard Dean campaign. Joe, we're sorry we can tell you got a bout of laryngitis going on. We're going to give you a break but thank you very much for that report. Evidently Howard Dean saying that he may not get out after all if he loses Wisconsin. Although we also have to say there have been some ambiguous statements coming from his campaign about which it was going to be. Well keep listening.

Coming up next, a quick look at the Democrat delegate process including the latest numbers. Also coming up there was a lot riding on the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots. Winning, a nice trophy and a big parade. But on Capitol Hill there was a wager you could really sink your teeth into.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Presidential primaries and caucuses are a series of somewhat confusing state by state contests for convention delegates. Just who are these delegates who want to represent the Democrats in Boston this summer? They are the first subject of a new regular feature we're starting called "How It Works."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): They wear funny hats. They do silly dances. But when you think about it, they're the life of the parties. We're talking about delegates. The building blocks of a presidential nomination. In the Democratic primary, you need 2,161 to hit the jackpot. So how do you get them? Well, primaries and caucuses elect 3,520 delegates, pledged to specific candidates. Another 801 Democratic movers and shakers, senators, Congressmen, governors, are tapped as unpledged super delegates.

For a grand total of 4,321 envoys to this summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston. Okay. So how's it looking so far? No surprise, John Kerry's cleaning up with 426 delegates. Howard Dean's up next with 184. John Edwards has mustered 116. Wes Clark's got 82. And Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich languish at the back of the pack with 12 and 2 respectively.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Of course those numbers will change tomorrow when we get the results from Tennessee and Virginia.

The unlikely pairing of a music legend with a Democratic presidential hopeful. Up next, why Johnny Cash and John Kerry earned mentions at last night's Grammy awards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole made good today on her friendly football wager with Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. Dole delivered North Carolina barbecue to Kennedy, because her home state, Carolina Panthers lost the Super Bowl. Kennedy's New England Patriots. Kennedy had put up some of his state's famous clam chowder in case of a Patriot debate. Looks like they both tried out the barbecue.

The world of politics converged with last night's Grammy awards. Former President Bill Clinton was among those honored. He won a Grammy along with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and actress Sophia Loren for best spoken word album for children. A reading of "Peter and the Wolf." Also, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin is from great Britain. But after his group won record of the year, he saluted a musical giant, and then offered his endorsement for U.S. president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MARTIN, SINGER, COLDPLAY: We'd like to dedicate this to Johnny Cash and to John Kerry who hopefully will be your president one day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: So I guess you can say that whether you vote in the U.S. or not. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Be sure to join me again tomorrow for a special expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'll be in Atlanta to take a look at the latest showdowns in the south. Be sure to join me. It all begins at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Plus, I'll be back tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern to host "NEWSNIGHT." Have a great evening. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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

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