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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Dean Attacks Kerry in Retaliation; Democrats Continue Questioning of Bush's Military Service

Aired February 11, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as General Clark gets out of this race, John Kerry is resting up for the road ahead. After winning Tennessee and Virginia, Kerry is taking two days off here in Washington. He heads to Wisconsin Friday, the site of his party's next primary on Tuesday.
Kerry has won 12 of the first 14 presidential contests. Tuesday's victories made Kerry the only presidential candidate besides Michael Dukakis to defeat a Southerner in the South since 1968.

In the hunt for delegates, Kerry has the lead with 516 at this point. Wesley Clark may keep about 50 of his delegates, although it is ultimately up to each delegate himself or herself to decide how to vote at the national convention.

John Edwards is in Wisconsin today, a day after his pair of second place primary finishes. He is vowing to emerge as the clear alternative to John Kerry, as the race moves forward.

Howard Dean has been in Wisconsin for days, trying to appeal to the state's tradition of progressive politics.

In Milwaukee this morning, Dean blasted John Kerry over reports that former Senator Bob Torricelli -- he's a Kerry fund-raiser -- is among those who donated money to a group that aired anti-Dean TV ads in early primary states.

One of the ads, paid for by the group, featured the image of Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: We live in a very dangerous world. And there are those who wake up every morning determined to destroy western civilization. Americans want a president who can face the dangers ahead.

But Howard Dean has no military or foreign policy experience. And Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy. It's time for Democrats to think about that. And think about it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: This morning Dean called reports of Kerry's links to those negative ads, quote, "deeply troubling."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We now see that Senator Kerry is not only supporting the Bush agenda on the war, supporting the Bush agenda on No Child Left Behind, but Senator Kerry apparently also supports the kind of corrupt fundraising, politically corrupt fundraising mechanisms that George Bush has also employed.

I intend to support the Democratic nominee under any circumstances. I'm just deeply disappointed that once again we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Just a short time ago the Kerry campaign responded to Howard Dean's remarks.

A Kerry spokesman told CNN's Kelly Wallace, quote, "Another day, another Dean act of divisive desperation." To continue quoting, "These inaccurate and indefensive character attacks need to end." End quote.

Well, in the primaries in Tennessee and Virginia, it has shown that John Kerry's popularity among Democrats is not limited by geography.

But exactly how did the Senator from Massachusetts score such impressive victories in the South? CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider has been looking at the exit polls for some answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Imagine Democratic unity. How did this happen?

Democratic primary voters in Virginia and Tennessee said they were looking above all for a candidate who could beat President Bush. Among those voters in Virginia, Kerry blew his competitors away. Kerry was Mr. Electability.

Which may have been the key to Kerry's stunning performance among African-Americans in Virginia, where more than 60 percent voted for the Massachusetts senator.

Kerry stole Wesley Clark's issue: national security. One in five Virginia voters said they were very worried about another terrorist attack like the one on the Pentagon.

Despite Clark's promise to keep the country safe, he got less than 10 percent of the vote among worried Virginians. Most voted for Kerry.

Kerry and Clark were competing for the same voters: veterans, for instance. They were a quarter of Virginia's primary voters, but they didn't exactly split. Kerry took the lion's share. Clark got the leftovers.

Clark ran as a political outsider. Once he got his message straight.

CLARK: I'm not an outsider -- I'm sorry, I'm not an insider. I am not an insider.

SCHNEIDER: Dean's running as an outsider, too.

DEAN: Only if we send Washington an outsider, the leader with a record of results, can we strengthen American values and bring real positive change.

SCHNEIDER: Even John Edwards, a United States Senator, fashions himself a Washington outsider.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have one America that controls what goes on in Washington, D.C. They only care about the bottom line.

SCHNEIDER: But Kerry, a 19-year Washington insider, beat them all. The outsider appeal isn't working this year. Democrats want someone with knowledge and experience, who can promise to keep the country safe. This is not the year to take risks with an unknown quantity.

Was there any evidence of anti-Kerry sentiment in these Southern primaries? No. Kerry won 52 percent of the vote in Virginia, but nearly 90 percent of Virginia Democrats thought Kerry was likely to beat President Bush.

Kerry was supported by 41 percent of Tennessee Democrats, but 81 percent said they'd be satisfied to see him get the Democratic nomination.

(on camera) Democrats are totally out of power. Adversity is holding the party together. It's turning out to be a powerful force.

Bill Schneider, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: One day after releasing some records and fending off some tough questions concerning President Bush's National Guard service, the White House apparently still on the defensive.

Let's go to our John King for the latest.

John, what's going on today?

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, some colorful rhetoric from both sides of this debate today. Let's begin here at the White House.

It came up this morning in the off camera briefing with Scott McClellan. Again at the noon briefing at the White House. The White House press secretary making the case that the president has now answered the questions. By his account, the president has released the documents that prove he fulfilled his commitment during the National Guard 30 years ago, received an honorable discharge.

Scott McClellan said that should be it. But he also said, in quite strong rhetoric, the Democrats won't let it end there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAND, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: This is nothing but gutter politics. The American people deserve better.

You know, we -- we are facing great challenges in this nation. And the president is focused on acting decisively to meet those challenges. Instead of talking about the choices we face and addressing our highest priorities, some are simply trolling for trash for political gain. The American people deserve better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Trolling for trash for political gain, the White House press secretary says.

If that was designed to stop the Democrats, Judy, it has not worked, at least not in the short-term.

A short time ago Secretary of State Colin Powell up testifying at a House committee hearing, presumably testifying about the whole dispute over going to war in Iraq and the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, but Congressman Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, wanted to bring up the president's National Guard service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: We count on you. The president may have been AWOL. The vice president said he had other priorities during Vietnam. Other high administrative officials never served.

You understand war. We absolute count on you. And I think a lot of us wonder what happened between that post-interview and your statement the next day when you said the president made the right decision.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: First of all, Mr. Brown, I won't dignify your comments about the president, because you don't know what you're talking about.

Secondly I'll get to the points that you were raising.

BROWN: I'm sorry. I don't know what you mean, Mr. Secretary.

POWELL: You made reference to the president.

BROWN: Said he may have been AWOL. POWELL: Mr. Brown, let's not -- let's not go there. You know, let's just not go there. Let's not go there in this hearing.

If you want to have a political fight with -- on this matter, that is very controversial and I think is being dealt with by the White House, fine. But let's not go there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: If you know Colin Powell, Judy, you know what that glare back at the congressman meant. The secretary very polite in his words but clearly not happy to be drawn into a political controversy.

But it's also quite clear that the Democrats, whether the White House calls this trolling or trash or gutter politics, at least some of the Democrats are going to continue to raise questions about this -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Yes, John, a pretty unmistakable withering look from the secretary of state.

John, separately what about on all this talk about whether or not to go along with a constitutional amendment to support a specific definition of marriage that would ban gay marriage, marriage among gays?

What is the White House going to do about all this?

KING: The public line, Judy, is that the president has not made the final decision yet to publicly endorse a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.

The White House says it is still looking at developments up in Massachusetts. That is where the state supreme judicial court has issued a ruling allowing gay marriages.

There's some talk now of coming up with a legislative compromise that would allow civil unions but not gay marriages in Massachusetts. The White House says it is continuing to watch those developments and that the president will wait before making the final decision.

But if you talk to conservative members of Congress or activists who have met either with the president or his top political advisor, Karl Rove, in recent weeks, they will tell you that they are being told in private meetings that there is no doubt that the president will endorse a constitutional amendment to ban marriage, will endorse it in this election year.

The only question, those activists say -- those conservatives say is when, not if.

WOODRUFF: And John, the loophole, if you will, to permit civil unions even if there is a ban on gay marriage in that amendment language?

KING: The White House says the president will accept that. That he wants to preserve, as they say here, the sanctity of marriage.

And that if a state wants to have a how that allows civil unions or contractual relationship between same-sex couples that is fine. But you cannot use the term marriage. That is where the White House draws the line.

WOODRUFF: OK. John King, thank you very much.

Well, John Edwards has come a long way in the presidential race. But can he move to the top of the field? Next, a top Edwards campaign strategist just joins me to talk short-range and long-range strategies.

Later, actress Hilary Swank recreates history. She's in a new movie about the women's struggle to win the vote.

And Democrats living outside the U.S. get to pick convention delegates, too. We'll tell you who won their caucuses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: After his two second-place finishes yesterday, Senator John Edwards wants voters to see him as an alternative to Senator John Kerry and not as the most likely No. 2 man on a Kerry ticket.

Joining me now is Edwards' media strategist, senior strategist we should say, David Axelrod.

Good to see you.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR STRATEGIST, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN: Good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

People out there, they're saying good, John Edwards came in second in two of these states, but he didn't win. What's the rationale for going on with his campaign?

AXELROD: Well, the fact is that he did very well in both states. We have been working all along to winnow this field down, to get a one-on-one race.

Obviously, if General Clark had not been in the field yesterday, I think he would have won the Tennessee primary. We would have done very well in Virginia.

Now that he's departed we have a smaller field. We're getting closer to that contest that we want. We're sort of the Seabiscuit of this rate. We're trying to get our match race with War Admiral here, and we're getting closer.

WOODRUFF: But right now you're facing Wisconsin a week next Tuesday.

AXELROD: Yes. WOODRUFF: You're lagging in the polls there. How do you...

AXELROD: We've lagged, Judy, in the polls everywhere. We were at five percent in Iowa just several weeks before the caucuses, and we got 32 percent of the vote there.

John Edwards, whenever he's had a chance to spend time in an area, to campaign, meet voters, when they get to know him, he does very, very well. And I guarantee we're going to close very fast in this state. And that's what we're looking forward to.

WOODRUFF: Let me cite to you something our Bill Schneider just noted about these exit polls, of voters in Virginia and Tennessee. Again these are states adjacent to John Edwards' home state of North Carolina.

He said the outsider appeal doesn't seem to be working to many Democrats this year. They want an insider who has experience.

What about that? This is part of -- the chief piece of John Edwards appeal?

AXELROD: I'll tell you, I think what people want. Certainly in the state of Wisconsin, I was there yesterday and in many other places in this country, they want somebody who understands the struggles they're going through and who will be a powerful advocate for them in Washington to deal with issues like trade, which Senator Edwards talked about today.

And it's had a terrible impact in the state of Wisconsin and in other states around this country.

And he's someone with not just a track record, but a lifelong commitment to that kind of advocacy. So I think that he has something to offer that's distinct here.

WOODRUFF: But he has not been drawing distinctions, clear distinctions between where he stands and where John Kerry stands. Is he going to do that in Wisconsin?

AXELROD: Look, if people are looking for someone to body slam other Democrats, that's not John Edwards. He's made it clear from the beginning that he's running to try to lift this country up, not rip other Democrats apart.

He will be very clear about where he stands. And hopefully there will be a debate on Sunday. I don't know whether Senator Kerry has yet agreed.

WOODRUFF: We understand that he has, by the way.

AXELROD: Well, there will be an opportunity then to compare and contrast positions. But it's going to be on the substance of their differences and not in some gratuitous and negative way.

WOODRUFF: I ask you because when you're going up against the frontrunner and he's just mowing everybody down, don't you have to put yourself and say -- up against him and say, here's where I disagree with you?

AXELROD: No. I think what you have to do is say here's where I want to take this country. And draw distinctions on substantive positions like trade for example, where Senator Kerry has voted for virtually every agreement that has come in the Senate.

Senator Edwards has been much more skeptical about them. And now I think his position has been justified.

Those are legitimate differences, and we won't hesitate to draw them. But if people are looking for a bloodletting, they're not going to get it from John Edwards. That's not what he is about. That's not what he thinks this country needs.

WOODRUFF: David Axelrod would know. He's the senior strategist, media strategist for John Edwards. Thank you very much. We appreciate you coming on.

AXELROD: Thanks, Judy. Thanks for having me.

WOODRUFF: Thanks a lot.

And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Academy Award-winning actor Hilary Swank is on a mission this presidential election year. She is taking part in a push to get Americans to get out and vote. Two of the key targets, women and young voters. Swank plays a suffragist in a new HBO film "Iron Jawed Angels" which recounts the struggle to secure voting rights for American women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILARY SWANK, ACTRESS: A stout old maid with facial hair. Carrie Nation waving her (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's what people think of when you say suffragist.

So not the fight that was madonna and child. Women who nurture the family, rock the baby, serve the dinner, serve society.

(CROSSTALK)

SWANK: But the new suffragist is single, young, independent...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Educated.

SWANK: ... and very, very beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Hilary Swank is with me now here in Washington to talk more about her new movie and her efforts to promote voting. Thank you so much for being here.

SWANK: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: People think of suffrage, the movement, they think of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They may not always think of Alice Paul. Tell us quickly who she was.

SWANK: I don't think most people even know who Alice Paul is. I certainly didn't. Most people when I tell them I'm doing this movie about Alice Paul say who is Alice Paul? Even some historians don't know who Alice Paul is.

But she was very, very instrumental in taking over where Susan B. Anthony left off in getting women the right to vote.

WOODRUFF: And this movie was something you obviously participated in because you felt it had a message.

SWANK: Absolutely. You know I read this script and I was inspired and I was enraged and I cried and I felt the gamut of emotions.

And I knew that I had to be a part of it to help tell this story about these women pioneers who really paved this road for us. And gave us the rights that we have now as women.

WOODRUFF: Do you think that in watching a movie like this women today, and especially younger women, will take from it the sense that they should get involved themselves?

SWANK: Absolutely. I think a lot of times when you think of the history of the government you think about all men, all men. Certainly I do.

WOODRUFF: Yes.

SWANK: Because in my history books, I didn't read very much about women. And especially about women suffragists. Maybe there was a sentence or two in my history books.

So it's not something I knew much about. And I think that with people seeing this movie and learning about this, what's going to happen is they're going to realize that women were a big part of history and a big part of their history and giving them the right to vote and the power that they now hold in order to make change in the future.

So I think that's going to want to make anyone get involved.

WOODRUFF: How are you getting the word out? You're obviously going around, you're talking about the movie. What are you saying to young women? SWANK: I'm saying to young women that it's important, if you want to see change for women, which most of them do, that you need to use your voice, you need to register and you need get in there and make your voice heard.

And for those people who say yes, but it's just me, it's just one person, I say if well everyone thought that then nothing would happen.

WOODRUFF: It was reported at one point not too long ago I think in "The Washington Post" recently that you Hilary Swank had not registered to vote not so long ago.

SWANK: That was actually a week ago. And I actually talked about that because I wanted people to know that yes, we are all busy. I'm busy myself. And I had a really hard time, you know, trying to find that time between now and then.

I went in and I registered to vote because you know, I wouldn't go an election year, certainly as well, without voting and having -- and having, you know, my voice heard. And also, you know, as women, we made this movie about. I'm not going to let all their hard work go at a loss.

WOODRUFF: Any thoughts about the presidential campaign as it's shaping up this year? Do you think, I mean, you're free to tell me what your political persuasion is but I'm not going to press you on that if you don't want to talk about it. What do you think?

SWANK: Honestly, I've been out of town. I've been in South Africa filming a movie about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. So I just got back two weeks ago. I'm not really up on all that's been going on.

I don't usually talk about my political views. But I certainly want to just encourage people to get out there and vote so that they can hopefully have a say in things that they believe in.

WOODRUFF: She is Hilary Swank. You all recognize her. The movie is "Iron Jawed Angels" airing on HBO. And it will be airing a number of times. So if you miss it you can watch it again.

SWANK: That's right. February and March.

WOODRUFF: Hilary Swank, thank you very much for stopping by.

SWANK: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

And INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

CROWD: Equal rights. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?

CROWD: Now.

ANNOUNCER: From the streets of Boston to the campaign trail, will gay marriage rock the road to the White House?

BUSH: Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

KERRY: I think people in the United States of America want a president who will stand up for civil rights and civil liberties and not drive a wedge between people in our country.

ANNOUNCER: The battle for the Badger State. The campaign spotlight now shines on Wisconsin.

They know their politics, but do they know their pop culture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What boy band is Justin Timberlake a member of?

KERRY: *NSYNC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is bling bling, Dennis Kucinich?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know.

ANNOUNCER: The candidate get quizzed on what's cool.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

A recent Massachusetts high court ruling that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages has vaulted the issue into the national political debate. From a mention in the State of the Union Address, to the raucous scene today outside the Massachusetts state house political leaders in both parties are being forced to take a stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?

CROWD: Equal rights.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Anger and protest as Massachusetts lawmakers consider amending their state's constitution to ban gay marriage.

This as the White House steps up its tone on the polarizing issue. SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you have activist judges seeking to redefine that institution, the issue of marriage, then the only alternative may be the constitutional process.

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush is stopping just short of endorsing a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexuals. But he's leaving the door wide open. His spokesman saying a proposal banning gay marriage but allow allowing states to pass civil union and domestic partnership laws is consistent with the president's views.

MCCLELLAN: Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. He believes very strongly that we should protect and defend the sanctity of marriage.

WOODRUFF: It is a red meat matter for Bush's core conservative constituents. And the subject he's touched on repeatedly as he revs up his re-election campaign.

BUSH: Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

WOODRUFF: Also an area where the president must tread lightly rallying the base, while taking pains not to offend the center, lauding traditional marriage, without sounding anti-gay.

His Democratic foes face the opposite problem.

EDWARDS: I don't support gay marriage. I do support gay rights.

WOODRUFF: Front runner John Kerry sings the same tune.

KERRY: Look, I support equal rights, and the right of people to have civil union, equal partnership rights. I don't support marriage. I never have.

WOODRUFF: And Howard Dean offers a variation on the theme, saying the matter should be left to the states.

DEAN: The federal government doesn't get to say who gets married and who doesn't. What the federal government's job is to make sure everybody has equal rights under the law.

WOODRUFF: None of the '04 Democrats support a constitutional amendment to define marriage. And even if the president decided to push for it, the process would take a very long time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: I'll discuss the president's approach to the issue of gay marriage and other political issues when I'm joined just minutes from now by GOP strategist Ralph Reed.

Well out on the campaign trail the Democratic candidates moving on after yesterday's two Southern primaries. John Kerry's dual victories in Tennessee and Virginia prove that he can win in the South. Kerry is taking some time off before heading to Wisconsin on Friday. Howard Dean campaigned in milwaukee this morning. He remains winless in the 14 contests so far. And he's counting on a strong showing, if not an outright victory in Wisconsin to keep his campaign hopes alive.

John Edwards planned multiple stops in Wisconsin today, hoping to build on his pair of second place finishes yesterday -- and angling to emerge as the clear alternative to John Kerry.

Wesley Clark has bowed out of the Democratic race for president. That decision after the former NATO commander finished third in yesterday's primaries in Tennessee and Virginia. Our Bruce Morton takes a closer look at Clark's decision and the reasons behind it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARK: So this is the end of the campaign for the presidency. And it's not the end of the cause. Because the real cause is a campaign for America's future.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wesley Clark, retired general, is now a retired presidential candidate, too. He had a distinguished career in the Army. First in his class at West Point and Rhodes scholar.

Like John Kerry, he saw combat in Vietnam. Like Kerry was wounded there and won the Silver Star there.

His military career peaked when as NATO commander he oversaw the bombing which stopped Serbia from attacking Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

But he had enemies in the Pentagon. And then-Defense Secretary William Cohen relieved him of his NATO command early.

He came to politics late, announcing that he was a Democrat only last August. And joining the presidential race in September, months after most of the others.

Made some rookie mistakes. First saying he probably would have voted for the resolution allowing the president to invade Iraq then reversing himself to criticism.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I must say that I've been very disappointed since Wes Clark came into this race about the various positions he has taken on the war against Saddam Hussein.

MORTON: He skipped Iowa, a tactic which worked for John McCain four years ago. But said last night that had been a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wish you'd had been in Iowa.

CLARK: Well I wish I had, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was standing up for you.

CLARK: I know. Thanks very much. Everything might have been different.

MORTON: In fact Clark and Joe Lieberman who both skipped Iowa are out now. John Kerry campaigned there even when he was behind in New Hampshire, won there, and never looked back. Clark lost momentum and money.

MATT BENNETT, COMM. DIR., CLARK CAMPAIGN: When your momentum dies your financing dies with it.

MORTON: So he's out, but he is expected to stump for Democratic candidates this fall.

CLARK: So today I end my campaign for the presidency. But our party's campaign to change America really is just beginning. And, folks, this old soldier will not fade away.

MORTON: But the Navy vet, not the Army general, seems likely to command in that fight.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well as we've been saying, the White House still on the defensive over some questions that have been raised about President Bush's National Guard service. Republican strategist Ralph Reed is with us now from Atlanta to talk more about that and some other issues. Ralph Reed, good to see you again.

RALPH REED, GOP STRATEGIST: Thank you, Judy. Good to be with you.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about the decision by the White House to put those records out yesterday. Not only there are now still questions about there being no evidence or no person to come forward to corroborate the president's statements that he performed duty, but now you have this man who was a specialist, who filled out these records, who told the "Boston Globe" that he evaluated President Bush using the lower of two ways to evaluate service in the Guard, and then he went on and said the president should have done more but he didn't have to do more. Is this story just really never end?

REED: I don't really think the American people care about it, Judy. And to be real honest with you, this issue came up in 1994, when then candidate Bush ran for governor. He won handily. In 2000 it had no impact. It's not going to have any impact this time. And the reason why is because the president served honorably. He did his Guard service. He was an F-102 jet pilot. His commanding officer at Ellington Air Force Base rated him among the top five percent fighter jet pilots he had ever trained. This is really not an issue to the American people.

And I think it's really unfortunate and sad that John Kerry tried to interject this into this campaign and allow his surrogates to suggest that the president didn't honorably serve. I think he owes an apology to the 455,000 members of the Guard, to the 27,000 members of the Guard who are now boots on the ground in Iraq. And to the roughly 98 Guardsmen who have given their lives in the war against terrorism.

WOODRUFF: Well, I don't want to get into a debate over that but I think it was Michael Moore the filmmaker who was campaigning for Wesley Clark.

REED: Terry McAuliffe suggested on national television the president was AWOL, which is a crime. And John Kerry has yet to repudiate that comment.

WOODRUFF: All right. That point, all right we're going to let that stand. And we're going to hopefully get a chance to ask John Kerry about that. But I guess my point is, you now have a spokesman for the National Guard saying there's commander discretion involved in some of these rankings, or in deciding who gets an honorable discharge. Is this something that the White House can put final closure on one way or another?

REED: I think they have. The pay records have been released. The service records have been released. You know, my father served on an aircraft carrier in Vietnam, Judy. He's got a certificate hanging in his office that says honorably discharged. That settles it. It settles it for the American people. The only people making an issue out of this is the media and John Kerry surrogates.

WOODRUFF: The president, there's now speculation about whether or not the president is going to endorse a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as something that is only between a heterosexual couple, in other words banning gay marriage. Are you and others going to be comfortable if the president leaves the window open for civil unions still to be legal in this country?

REED: I'm very comfortable with the president's position. He's made it abundantly clear that marriage is a sacred institution. That we need to defend and protect the sanctity of marriage. And if activist judges, acting by judicial fiat, without any allowance for the role of legislative bodies or for the people, try to redefine marriage by legislating from the bench, then the only recourse left to the people is the constitutional process. We'll see what happens in Massachusetts.

The president has found that decision deeply troubling. And he's indicated that he will do whatever is necessary to work with Congress, and do what we have to do to preserve the sanctity of marriage. In terms of other types of contractual arrangements, states have the right now to allow for hospital visitation, or insurance, or other contractual arrangements without regard, Judy, to the sexual preference of the people involved. And that's their right now and that wouldn't change.

WOODRUFF: And that includes civil unions presumably. All right, Ralph Reed, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much.

REED: Good to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Helping the Bush campaign out. Thank you very much.

And now we have a quick follow-up to a story that we first reported yesterday. The Bush re-election campaign has agreed to remove portions of the president's "Meet the Press" interview that were used in a promotional video posted on the campaign website. This video was promoted in an e-mail to 6 million campaign subscribers. NBC asked the campaign to remove the clip because it said the video was being used to support the president's re-election campaign.

Voters in five battleground states will be seeing another of the TV commercials produced for Moveon.org's controversial "Bush In 30 Seconds" ad contest. It shows a polygraph reacting to some of the president's prewar statements about Iraq, and weapons of mass destruction. Moveon.org is spending $1.4 million to run the ad in Florida, West Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, and Missouri. Moveon's winning entry has been running on cable TV, although CBS refused to run it during Super Bowl coverage.

The question how will Wesley Clark's departure affect the Democratic presidential race? Coming up, I'll compare notes on the campaign with the "Washington Post's" Jim Vandehei.

Before he dropped out, Wesley Clark tested his knowledge of popular culture. You might be surprised at how he did. Also ahead, John Kerry adds another victory to his list but it isn't in one of the 50 states.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Dick Gephardt dropped out after the Iowa caucuses. The February 3rd states were the end of the line for Joe Lieberman. And now Tennessee and Virginia persuaded Wesley Clark to end his campaign. Here now to survey the state of the Democratic presidential race, what's left of it, is Jim Vandehei of the "Washington Post." Jim, is there a race left?

JIM VANDEHEI, "WASHINGTON POST": There is through Wisconsin. It gets harder to see how John Kerry loses this. He heads into Wisconsin with a 30-point lead. John Edwards and Howard Dean both plan on making a big stand in Wisconsin but they don't have that much money. It's hard to fathom a message they could put together that would undercut Kerry and drop his numbers down low enough where they could make a move, win the state and move into March 2 and really make a stand there.

WOODRUFF: But you have Howard Dean in Wisconsin really pounding Kerry, has been pounding him and pounding him again today on this question of special interests. Money that he has taken supposedly, or benefited in different ways. Is any of that going to hurt Kerry?

VANDEHEI: Well, Howard Dean has been making this argument now for several weeks. And there isn't really any evidence in these states that have voted that these attacks are working. John Kerry's winning, and usually with 50 percent or better of the vote in all of these states. He's now won 12 out of 14. There isn't a whole lot of tangible evidence that these attacks are working. John Edwards who's run this hopeful, optimistic campaign does not want to attack Kerry. That allows Kerry to get this free ride. It's been amazing since Iowa, no one's come that hard at Kerry. So he's been able to take this momentum and move, move, move without a lot of people trying to stop him.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of getting a free ride I just interviewed David Axelrod with the Edwards campaign and among other things he said if somebody's looking for scorched earth campaign for somebody to come in and trash John Kerry we're not going to do that. But he did say that Edwards is going to draw distinctions. My question is, is that enough to get the voters attention?

VANDEHEI: History says no. I mean when you have a front-runner who's up this far the only thing that's going to bring him down is a scandal or is a sustained attack that really start to raise up his negative ratings. And nobody's doing that. So John Kerry's going to go into Wisconsin with this 30-point lead and it's just really hard to see how in less than a week, how you can take those numbers and move them regardless of what the attack will be. The truth is there isn't that many differences between John Edwards and John Kerry. Where is he going to attack him? He's going to attack him on trade. That's the only issue where he's raised the distinction so far. It will be interesting to see what exactly that argument is.

WOODRUFF: Is there a soft underbelly to the Kerry campaign? I ask because there's a column in "Slate" online magazine talking about how Kerry has not attracted independent moderate voters as much as Edwards has. Is there a problem for him down the line?

VANDEHEI: I think what's been really interesting about this compact calendar that we've seen so far is that Kerry's surge doesn't seem to be all that much about Kerry. It's about Democrats moving away from Dean and looking for someone who's electable. So it's still not absolutely clear to me that this is a movement about John Kerry. And for him to make it into the general election and beat Bush it has to be about John Kerry.

He has to give voters a reason to think that he's a guy who's going to be a much better president than George Bush. The one thing that we have seen in the polling so far is that John Edwards has done better with Republican crossover voters and independents so he's going to have to expand his base as he heads into a general election.

WOODRUFF: But perhaps we'll hear more from John Kerry in terms of flushing out who he is and what he stands for in the days to come. All right, Jim, we're going to have to leave it there. Good to see you.

Here is at least a little grumbling now in the Democratic ranks. Next in our campaign news daily, word of a prominent party member who is taking issue with one of John Kerry's favorite attack lines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In a sure sign that the opposition research units are up and running in this presidential race, a photo featuring both John Kerry and Jane Fonda has recently surfaced. The snapshot saws Fonda at an anti-Vietnam War rally back in 1970. Kerry can be seen sitting several rows behind the actress.

Fonda told CNN earlier today when she stopped by for an interview that she had little contact with Kerry at that event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE FONDA, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: The American people have had it with the big lie. Any attempts to Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end. I don't even think we shook hands.

And they're also saying this organization, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, was a communist organization. This was an organization of men who risked their lives in Vietnam, who consider themselves totally patriotic. And anyone who slams that organization, and slams Kerry for being part of it, is doing an injustice to veterans.

How can you impugn, how can you even suggest that a Vietnam veteran like Kerry or any of them were -- are not patriotic? He was a hero there.

And this is the kind of big lie that's coming out of this current administration that I think the American people are sick of. And I don't think it's going to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Actress Jane Fonda commenting just a short time ago on that photograph that surfaced in the last couple of days showing her and John Kerry at an anti-Vietnam War rally back in 1970.

We're checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily." John Kerry's victories in Virginia and Tennessee follow word that Kerry had also captured a select group of Democrats. Kerry won the Democrats Abroad caucuses, which were held Friday through Monday in 19 countries for American Democrats living outside the U.S.

In a straw poll of caucus participants Kerry got 55 percent followed by Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. Convention delegates will be assigned based on the official caucus results.

Democratic strategist Harold Ickes apparently does not support John Kerry's frequent attacks against so-called special interests. Ickes heads the Media Fund, a new group created to funnel millions of dollars to Democratic candidates. He is also a former adviser to Bill Clinton.

Ickes tells the New York observer, quote, "I don't think the special interest message cuts. I don't think people have any interest in that." So speaks Harold Ickes.

Well, they are all politically savvy, but are they in tune with pop culture? Still to come...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the definition of bling bling?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't define bling bling. You have to show it. Those that try to explain it don't know it. Bling bling is a show thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Music channel VH1 puts the Democratic candidates to the test. A presidential pop quiz when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Believe it or not John Kerry knows all about Bennifer, the on-again off-again affair between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Howard Dean listens to the Grateful Dead and the Beatles.

Those are just some of the things VH1 learned when it asked the Democratic presidential candidates to take a pop culture quiz. Among the Democrats in the know, Wesley Clark, who knew what a metrosexual is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's a metrosexual?

CLARK: Someone -- some of the people on my staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see one right now.

CLARK: These are sophisticated, urban heterosexual men who can do things like make crepes and iron and do things like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Clark, who is now officially dropped out of the race, obviously is out of sync though with fans of *NSYNC. He said he thought that band member Justin Timberlake was a member of the Beach Boys.

Well I'm just glad they didn't give me this quiz.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "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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