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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

AFL-CIO Endorses John Kerry; Interview With AFL-CIO President John Sweeney; Interview with John Kerry; Former Athletes defend University of Colorado Football Program

Aired February 19, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we know the time has come to unite behind one man, one leader, one candidate.

ANNOUNCER: Big labor flexes its muscle for John Kerry, despite their disagreements. Is it a union of convenience? Judy goes one-on- one with Kerry to talk about that and much more.

John Edwards downplays his rival's latest endorsement.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: And I will continue to speak directly to union households and working people. And that's worked up until now.

ANNOUNCER: Is it harder now for Edwards to hit Kerry on trade? Or does he need to take the gloves off?

A tongue-in-cheek protest of the president's economic policy. We'll hear how Republicans are defending the Bush record.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: And thank you for joining us.

Well, while some other labor groups jumped into the endorsement fray much earlier, the 13 million-member AFL-CIO held back, wary apparently of betting on the wrong horse. Well, that caution paid off today for Democratic front-runner John Kerry.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is here with us now in Washington where the event took place.

Kelly, a big day for the Senator.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A big day, indeed, Judy. And the senator's aides say just the sheer size of this organization, 13 million members who can try and help get out the vote -- and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney saying the board voting unanimously. Although CNN has learned at least one union, the Service Employees International Union, which had backed Howard Dean, did abstain as it decides what to do. That being said, having the backing of the AFL-CIO, which was vigorously against the North American Free Trade Agreement, can help John Kerry, who supported that trade deal, as he tries to make the point that he and John Edwards, he says, have the same policy when it comes to future trade agreements. Well, John Kerry, for his part, targeting exclusively President Bush, ridiculing the White House for pulling back on its estimate that it could create 2.6 million jobs this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yesterday, George Bush said he couldn't be held responsible for knowing the number of new jobs, because he's not in charge of numbers. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it just doesn't take a lot of fuzzy math to count to zero.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And Kerry got another boost this afternoon, getting the endorsement from civil rights champion and longtime lawmaker Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. That happened at an event this afternoon with Kerry's wife Teresa.

We are learning from Kerry's aides that the congressman and John Kerry will campaign together in Georgia. They say this will significantly help John Kerry in Georgia, which is one of the 10 states holding a primary on March 2. But, Judy, one thing we have learned, the record definitely mixed when it comes to how much all these endorsements really help when it comes to the candidates.

WOODRUFF: Especially when you see what happened with Mr. Dean and Mr. Gephardt. In fact, that's one of the things I asked the senator about.

But I do want to ask you, Kelly, here he is, he's going into 10 states, and even though he's running ahead at this point with delegates, very expensive to run in these states. How much money are they raising right now?

WALLACE: Very expensive. They say they're doing well when it comes to money. They say they've raised more than $7 million since January 1, $6.5 million since the Iowa caucuses.

And they say half of that money is coming from online donations. A comparison, they say, they raised $1 million in the full year last year. Online they say they've brought in about more than $300,000 since Wisconsin.

It is expensive, though, so don't expect to see John Kerry going to all 10 states. They'll send surrogates, but he'll concentrate on some of the top states.

WOODRUFF: Or running ads everywhere in all.

WALLACE: Very expensive to do that, absolutely. WOODRUFF: OK. Kelly, thank you very much. Good to have you in Washington for a change for a minute.

WALLACE: Great to be here -- for a minute.

Well, I did interview Senator Kerry, as we mentioned a short time ago. And he told me that the AFL-CIO endorsement, in his words, evidence of his appeal to working families, even as John Edwards tries to bill himself as the champion of workers. My extended interview with the senator coming up on INSIDE POLITICS.

Well, John Edwards is downplaying the AFL-CIO endorsement, even though it could take some of the sting out of his jabs at Senator Kerry on trade.

CNN's Dan Lothian has more on Edwards' day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using the issue of trade to define his campaign, Senator John Edwards told a packed audience at Columbia University in New York he'll fight to keep American jobs on American soil.

EDWARDS: They cut your wages and benefits as far as they can just to please the stock market. And when they can't cut anymore, they pick up your job and take it to another country, where they can pay just pennies for an hour's worth of work. Our trade policies encourage it and our tax policies make it worse.

LOTHIAN: Voicing often his opposition to NAFTA, Senator Edwards is trying to set himself apart from his chief rival and Democratic front-runner, Senator John Kerry, who voted for the trade agreement. And in a bold overture, said he's ready to go one-on-one.

EDWARDS: We should debate wherever and whenever. I'll go anywhere in America we need to go to debate these issues.

LOTHIAN: Senator Edwards says he's unconcerned about the AFL- CIO's endorsement of Senator Kerry.

EDWARDS: If you look at what's happened in all of the early primaries, unless I missed something, with the exception of Unite (ph), I've not had the endorsement of labor unions and I've done very well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Senator Edwards just wrapped up another campaign rally in Atlanta, Georgia, continuing that theme of the economy and trade. He will be going next to Miami for a fund-raiser tonight.

And speaking about money, the campaign says it is in good shape to battle it out in the Super Tuesday states. In fact, since Wisconsin, the Edwards campaign says $700,000 has been raised; $450,000 of that amount came from online contributions. Since Iowa, the campaign has taken in almost $5 million. The campaign, Judy, by the way, plans to spend rather heavily in Georgia and Ohio.

WOODRUFF: I was just talking with Kelly about how much it does cost to campaign in those states. Dan, what about what's going on inside the Edwards campaign? They talk as if he's going out for every vote. But, in fact, he's well behind in delegates. Do they really think he has a shot at this nomination?

LOTHIAN: They really do believe that he does have a shot. And the reason is because of what they saw happen in Wisconsin.

They saw the momentum, they saw they were down in the polls. They saw how they were able to come back up. They believe that the message on trade and jobs is resonating with the voters. It is, by all accounts, a long shot. But he truly believes that he can do it.

WOODRUFF: I guess that's the very least what you have to have to keep going.

LOTHIAN: That's right. That's right.

WOODRUFF: Dan, thank you. And it's good to see you in Washington for a change.

LOTHIAN: It's good to be here.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, heading into the big Super Tuesday showdown, John Edwards does have some tough decisions to make in his bid to slow or stop John Kerry's push toward the nomination. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been considering Edwards' options.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): John Edwards is a brilliant retail politician. But the campaign now moves to air wars. Problem, Edwards doesn't have the money to run TV ads in all the Super Tuesday states. How can he compete? He can press for debates.

EDWARDS: I will definitely come to New York to debate. And I will -- and if you can get Senator Kerry to come, I'll be there.

SCHNEIDER: Edwards will have to rely on free media coverage. He can do that by making news. He can make news by going negative on Kerry. Kerry may look electable, but are voters aware that he opposes the death penalty, just like the guy he once served as lieutenant governor under?

GOV. MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent.

SCHNEIDER: In 1998, Edwards advertised his support for the death penalty to get elected in North Carolina.

NARRATOR: Now, here is the truth. John Edwards supports the death penalty.

SCHNEIDER: Edwards can draw the distinction between himself, the economic populist born to modest circumstances, and Kerry, who had a more privileged upbringing.

EDWARDS: They deserve a president of the United States who understands what their life is like, who understands what it means when they lose their job.

SCHNEIDER: So what if the AFL-CIO endorsed Kerry? That just makes him look like an insider. Edwards knows how to run as an outsider. He did it in 1998.

EDWARDS: I'll be a new kind of senator. I won't ever take a dime from PACs and Washington lobbyists.

SCHNEIDER: But Edwards has taken pride in running a positive campaign. How could he go negative on Kerry? Maybe the same way he went negative on his Republican opponent, Lauch Faircloth, in 1998, by claiming to defend himself.

EDWARDS: Lauch Faircloth is not telling the truth. If he was, don't you think he'd be willing to say it to my face?

SCHNEIDER: Edwards is emphasizing his differences with Kerry on trade. Kerry's response? What differences?

KERRY: We have the same policy on trade. Exactly the same policy. He voted for the China Trade Agreement. So did I.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Meanwhile, Republicans are spoiling for a fight between Edwards and Kerry. They want to see Kerry get bloodied up. You know, maybe that's why we found in our exit poll that Republicans who voted in Wisconsin's Democratic primary on Tuesday went strongly for Edwards -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wasn't that interesting? We did notice that. All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

And my one-on-one interview with John Kerry is still ahead.

Plus, is the AFL-CIO putting electability over issues? I'll ask federation president John Sweeney what he hopes to get out of the Kerry endorsement.

The Bush camp is trying to deflect criticism by the labor and the Democrats. We'll hear the Republican counterattack.

And later, will Kerry or Edwards get Howard Dean's endorsement? We'll have the inside story on the political calculations and the personal conflict.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Let's get more now on today's AFL-CIO endorsement of John Kerry. Union president John Sweeney joins us.

Mr. Sweeney, good to see you again.

JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Thanks. Nice to be with you.

WOODRUFF: So you've stayed out of this battle until now, and you picked somebody who hasn't always agreed with you on the issues. What was this all about?

SWEENEY: Well, the labor movement wanted to make sure that when they did endorse as a federation that they were really expressing what they were hearing from their members. And I think the primary process that we've gone through with some real good candidates out there, getting support from different unions, raised the focus on the issues of working families, on jobs, and health care and education. And this process has been invigorating for the labor movement at the grassroots level.

This is clearly an endorsement from the grassroots up to the leadership. And I think that what we have seen today is that the candidacy of Senator Kerry was overwhelmingly endorsed by the affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

WOODRUFF: You did have some that opted out. Among them, the Service Employees International, fresh off of Howard Dean's candidacy. I guess it's understandable why they would want to late a little. But, John Sweeney, I guess the question people keep coming back to is, when you have a candidate like John Edwards, who was with organized labor on NAFTA, which was a huge issue for your union, umbrella organization, why wouldn't someone like John Edwards be more attractive than somebody like John Kerry, who favored that free trade agreement?

SWEENEY: Well, John Edwards has been a good candidate and continues to express issues -- his position on issues that are important to working families. There's no question about that.

John Kerry has been winning the primaries; a momentum has been building on his candidacy. And a substantial number of unions have changed their endorsements, or those who haven't made endorsements, some have decided to endorse John Kerry. We needed two-thirds of our membership in order to make an endorsement, and we have far surpassed the two-thirds.

WOODRUFF: But it doesn't bother you that John Kerry was again -- he was for NAFTA, which the AFL-CIO opposed. He was for fuel efficiency standards that I know the UAW, separate union, but many of your unions were upset about. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was another issue. Was this simply a matter of putting the issues aside and let's just go with the horse who can win?

SWEENEY: No. John Kerry throughout his years in the Senate has a 91 percent voting record in support of working families issues. Sure, there are some issues that we've had differences in the past. But John Kerry has been speaking out on these very issues, and times change.

I mean, the situation in our own country with what's happening to jobs, and how people are so concerned about their jobs, and we're talking about middle class jobs, we're talking about manufacturing industry. And Kerry has been resonating well in terms of how he intends to address trade issues, how he intends to negotiate trade agreements and include labor standards. And we look forward to working with him.

WOODRUFF: But as one observes what's happening, though, it seems to me people would look and say, but still, surely the AFL-CIO would have been happy or much happier with a candidate like Dick Gephardt who's not in the race anymore.

SWEENEY: Dick Gephardt is an outstanding candidate and has been a great supporter of working families throughout his career. He's a class act. There's no better friend that the labor movement has than Dick Gephardt. But Dick Gephardt wasn't winning and wasn't raising the enthusiasm and energy of a lot of the voters.

WOODRUFF: What do you make of the fact, John Sweeney, that the endorsements that Howard Dean got from the SEIU and from Service Employees, from AFSCME, the American Federation of State Government -- State and Local Government Employees, really didn't get him anywhere. I mean, he ended up doing far worse than people had expected. And with Dick Gephardt, he had a number of union endorsements that didn't get him anywhere.

What does that say to you about the clout of labor?

SWEENEY: It's not about the clout of labor. It's about how you raise the issues that are important to the voters and to workers, and what candidate connects with people around the country. And I think we're seeing -- we started out saying that we had to have a candidate whom we thought a substantial number of our members would vote for. And we think that John Kerry is that candidate.

And all the other candidates you've mentioned -- Howard Dean was a good candidate. But I think that John Kerry can win. I think that he is connecting with average people all across the country.

WOODRUFF: So you think this endorsement will make a difference? I'm asking because these other endorsements didn't.

SWEENEY: Yes, I think this endorsement with a united labor movement is going to mobilize an educate at the grassroots level. Our resources are no match for the Republican Party. But we do have numbers and we do have activists, and I think we're going to wage a good campaign.

WOODRUFF: You do have numbers and you do have activists. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, it's good to see you. Thank you very much for coming by.

SWEENEY: Thank you. Nice to be with you.

WOODRUFF: I appreciate it. Thank you.

President Bush, speaking of whom, goes on the offensive when it comes to jobs. I'll explain what that's about when we return.

And later, my interview with Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Bush is on the offensive today on the economy, amid growing criticism from Democrats. He talked to economic leaders here in Washington this hour, telling them that his tax cuts are working to improve the economy. And should be made permanent.

Critics have been hammering the president over an economic forecast last week that predicted 2.6 million new jobs would be created this year. A figure the administration has since distanced itself from. Today, the president was painting an upbeat picture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that's what happened. We cut the taxes on the -- on everybody who pays taxes. I don't think it makes sense for, you know tax cutters to say, you win and you lose. My attitude was, if you pay taxes, you ought to get relief. And we cut all taxes, and one of the important things about cutting all income taxes it really affected the capacity of small businesses to grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: President Bush talking today here in Washington.

We turn from this to a very different story. And that is some turmoil in Boulder, Colorado, the site of the University of Colorado, a city that has been racked the last few days by some charges by a former female place kicker for the Colorado football team.

Our sports reporter, Josie burke, joins us now from boulder.

Jose, first of all, give us a little background. I know we're waiting for a news conference now from some of the former teammates of this -- of Katie Hnida, but tell us a little background first.

JOSIE BURKE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Judy. About 15 or so teammates of Katie Hnida, guys who played on that 1999 Buffalo team with her, are actually inside the building behind me. It's the athletic building here on campus.

We do expect that they're going to come out and talk a little bit about that team that they all played on with Hnida. In this week's issue of "Sports Illustrated," Hnida, who's now a student at the University of New Mexico, spoke to Rick Reilly (ph) for his column, and she made some very serious allegations. She said that when she was on that team in 1999, her teammates routinely harassed her. She also said that in the summer of 2000 she was raped by one of her teammates. We expect that the gentlemen who played with her on that team are going to come out and address some of those allegations.

We already know that the response of head coach Gary Barnett to Hnida's comments have cost him his job, at least temporarily. Last night, it was announced that he has been put on paid administrative leave, in large part because of what he said after hearing Hnida's allegations.

He came out and actually criticized her on-field performance. He said that she was terrible, that she was awful, that she couldn't put the ball through the uprights. So that's where things stand right now.

There was also a police report, Judy, that came out late yesterday. The Boulder Police Department released it. And it detailed allegations made by another woman that she was raped by another senior football player in the fall of 2001. And it also attributed the woman with comments, saying that she told investigators at the time that she had a meeting with Barnett, and Barnett said, if she pressed charges he would, "back his player 100 percent" -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's -- I'm sorry. Josie, thank you very much. We lost audio contact there for a minute. Josie, thank you very much.

She's waiting, standing by for that news conference in Boulder, Colorado, with former Colorado football teammates of Katie Hnida. Josie, thank you very much. And when that news conference gets under way, we will go to it live.

In just a couple of minutes, my in-depth interview with Senator John Kerry.

Also coming up, why Al Gore is making a political visit to, of all places, Idaho.

And they may not see eye to eye politically, but George W. Bush and John Kerry may have more in common than you think. Stay tuned to find out why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: He's out of the race for the White House, but is Howard Dean thinking of supporting one of his former rivals?

John Kerry looks for and finds the union label.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will be our champion in the White House, and he'll bring jobs back to America.

ANNOUNCER: Judy speaks with the Democratic front-runner about today's endorsements and his battle for his party's nomination. They went to the same college, and they want the same job. But what else do these two men have in common?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

Well, while the AFL-CIO hitched itself to John Kerry today, there is an intriguing behind-the-scenes courtship under way between John Edwards and Howard Dean. Sources say that Dean has made overtures since Edwards since deciding to leave the presidential race, including a phone conversation yesterday morning. And we are told that the two are trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting, sometime before Super Tuesday, perhaps as early as this weekend in New York.

The big question, will Dean decide to back Edwards and give him a little bit of money and momentum in the March 2 contest? At least we assume there'd be money involved.

Well, some possible deciding factors by most accounts, Dean has no love lost for John Kerry. And he has said before that he did not believe Kerry can beat President Bush. AFL-CIO leaders would and did argue otherwise when they endorsed Kerry today. But the feeling apparently was not unanimous. We've now learned that at least three abstentions of the AFL-CIO took place by the UAW, by UNITE, and as we reported earlier, the SEIU. That's the Service Employees International Union.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I did speak at length with Senator Kerry after today's endorsement event here in Washington and I started by asking him about the importance of labor's support, given the fact that it didn't get Dick Gephardt or Howard Dean very far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we proved over the course of the last primaries and caucuses that I know how to translate into -- into grassroots effort. And that's what you have to do is go out and appeal to voters. I've never taken endorsements as a free-standing effort. What you have to do is talk to voters. I've been doing that. I've won 15 out of 17 now. I take nothing for granted. Every step of the way now. I was in Ohio yesterday talking to workers who've lost their jobs, who are desperate about health care.

The people want somebody who's going to offer leadership, Judy. And in the end, that's the measurement. Do you have a plan to put America back to work? I do. Do you have a plan to put America -- to have health care? I do. Do you have a plan to make our schools better? I do. And those are the things that will decide this race.

WOODRUFF: Senator, questions are already being raised about what you said to some of these labor leaders in order to get their endorsement. James Hoffa of the Teamsters said in an interview just this week, he said you told him that while you opposed drilling in Anwar the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that you are, quote, he said, going to put that pipeline in and drill like never before, drill all over the United States to create more jobs.

KERRY: I think he -- I said exactly what my policy has been all my life. Which is I'm for the natural gas pipeline. Absolutely. I voted for the natural gas pipeline. I think it's important to build it. And so do most Americans. I'm also for the drilling in the 95 percent of the Alaska oil shelf that's up for leasing now. In fact, President Clinton put out the biggest lease in American history in that part of the shelf. I'm not for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and I haven't changed and I won't change.

WOODRUFF: You're saying there's no contradiction here?

KERRY: Absolutely none whatsoever.

WOODRUFF: Senator Edwards, who now it seems to be boiling down to you and John Edwards, pointing out all the time that he doesn't take money from lobbyists. On top of that you have this story today in the "Los Angeles Times," I'm sure you've heard about it, about dozens of letters that you wrote to government officials on behalf of a defense contractor who pleaded guilty to illegally funneling money contributions to you. Now the Center for Responsive Politics says this at least raises questions about whether that money caused you to do what you did.

KERRY: Look, I fought for jobs in Massachusetts. Every person in the United States Senate and Congress fights for their state and there are people who support them for those reasons, obviously. I have limited the amount of money that I ever take in any of my campaigns. I'm the only United States senator who has been elected four times, voluntarily refusing to ever take political action committee money in my races. Now, what I've done is reduced the giving to the single individual. And the minute we learned anything about this person's, the way they'd given the money, I said we're going to give that money back.

WOODRUFF: But doesn't this just add to the Bush administration charge, oh,...

KERRY: No.

WOODRUFF: Here's another Washington insider?

KERRY: No, it doesn't, because I've been very different from almost everybody in Washington in how I have gone about raising money. I'm the only United States senator elected four times, serving in the Senate today, who has voluntarily refused to take the big checks, the money from political action committees. I've gone out and raised money from individual Americans. And if you added up all the money in my lifetime that's been given to me by lobbyists, anybody who's lobbied for anything, it's about 1 percent of the total of everything I've done. My average contribution, I think, in my last Senate race was around $70 or $80. I'm very proud of that. And if you look at the things I fight for, I've stood up against Newt Gingrich's efforts to kill the Clean Air/ Clean Water Act. I stood up and led the fight to stop the drilling of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It's like night and day, the difference between what George Bush fights for, and what I've fought for for 35 years. And I think Americans will realize that.

WOODRUFF: Let me change the subject and ask you about Wisconsin. You won it this Tuesday. But some exit polls, Senator, showed that Senator Edwards was the one who did better with voters who identified themselves as Independents and Moderates. These are clearly the voters the Democratic nominee is going to have to win in November to have any hope of defeating George Bush.

KERRY: And that's exactly who I've won. No, that's exactly how I've won 15 out of 17 primaries and caucuses. I won the Independents and Republicans in Tennessee. And in Virginia, in Ohio, in New Hampshire, in Missouri, I mean I'm very, very pleased with what we've done. And I will continue to appeal across the board.

WOODRUFF: But Wisconsin was different.

KERRY: Different states are different. Obviously, it's an open primary, it's run differently. But I'm very pleased with what is happening nationally. And in fact, I've won by appealing to people across the board and not just niching or targeting one particular group. And I will continue to do that.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something. It was reported by, I think, the "Washington Post" that you were a little irritated with the way Senator Edwards went after you in that debate. At one point he said, "that was the longest answer I've ever heard to a yes or no question." At another point he said, "not so fast, John Kerry." Is he getting under your skin?

KERRY: Not in the least. I don't know who reported that. But that's just not correct. I like John Edwards. He's done a terrific job. And I made no comments at all about the other candidates. I think most people know that.

WOODRUFF: Is this a bit of an irritant to have to be still running against him at this point?

KERRY: Not in the least. Look I'm not running just against him. You know there are others in the race. Obviously he's one of the leading contenders. I take that seriously. I take nothing for granted. I have continually said every single step of the way, I'm fighting for every single vote. And I have continually talked about my vision for the country. I want to put America back to work. I have a plan for health care that will lower the cost for employers and give health care to all Americans. I have a plan to actually fund our schools, and roll back George Bush's unfair, unaffordable tax cut for the wealthiest people. Those are the things that make a difference to people. And I intend to keep running on the issues. WOODRUFF: To the extend that John Edwards is your main opponent, he is out there saying it would be a real loss for the Democratic party if you and he didn't debate in New York, and debate anywhere and everywhere the voters want you to debate. Now I gather you've agreed to do the CNN/"Los Angeles Times" debate next week...

KERRY: I don't know what the schedule is...

WOODRUFF: Are there going to be other one-on-one debates?

KERRY: I have no clue, Judy, where the schedule is, I really don't. You're looking at somebody who's got to figure out where I'm going to be on the weekends.

WOODRUFF: But are you up for doing as many...

KERRY: I've always been -- but let's see where the schedule takes us. I've got to do what I need to do to run my own campaign. That's what I've done from day one. And I intend to continue to do that.

WOODRUFF: Let me cite to you something, Senator, the "Washington Post" editorial page said the other day. This would normally be considered a very friendly newspaper to you. What they said was you had been fuzzy -- their word -- on a number of issues ranging from gay marriage to Iraq to free trade. They go on and say -- they say they call on you to make an honest accounting without the fuzzing. Do you have some explaining to do?

KERRY: Ask me any question.

WOODRUFF: Well, on gay marriage. They said you've taken...

KERRY: Gay marriage -- no, I've not -- I've taken one position. I believe that marriage is between a man and woman. I'm for civil unions and partnership rights. There's your answer. What's the next question?

WOODRUFF: NAFTA. They said that you voted with NAFTA but now you're saying that there were so many things wrong with it?

KERRY: There are side agreements in NAFTA. There are two side agreements on labor and on the environment, they haven't been enforced. It is not inconsistent to expect that if you have a trade agreement you enforce it. Just like we have in the China trade agreement. Surge and anti-dumping. They haven't been enforced. I'm for enforcing trade agreements to fight for American workers. Ask me any other precise question? Iraq. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. George Bush chose the wrong way. If I had been president, we'd be doing it the right way, period, end of issue.

WOODRUFF: Why do I think thoughtful news organizations like the "Washington Post" are taking up this much space...

KERRY: You know what, I welcome going in and talking to them. I look forward to being clear about any issue they have a question on. And I'll answer any question you or any American has directly and straight.

WOODRUFF: Two other very quick things, Senator. One is, it's been reported that, well you're aware of this, Vietnam veterans upset with the fact that when you came back from the war, you went to Capitol Hill, and you testified in so many words against the kinds of things that U.S. soldiers were doing over there...

KERRY: Yes, I did.

WOODRUFF: To the Vietnamese.

KERRY: Yes, I did.

WOODRUFF: They are saying, in effect, you were accusing American troops of war crimes.

KERRY: No, I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership. I said to the Senate, where is the leadership of our country? And it's the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers. I never said that. I've always fought for the soldiers. In fact, not only did we oppose the war, but we proudly stood up and fought for the additions to the GI Bill so that vets would be able to use it. We fought for the V.A. Hospitals. I wrote the Agent Orange legislation with Tom Daschle. I helped with the post-Vietnam stress syndrome outreach centers.

I'm proud of the record of fighting for soldiers and for veterans. And the fact is if we want to redebate the war on Vietnam in 2004, I'm ready for that. It was a mistake, and I'm proud of having stood up and shared with America my perceptions of what was happening.

WOODRUFF: One very last question. Senator Edwards frequently points out that one main difference between the two of you is that he feels what people who've lost their jobs are going through. His father was a mill worker. He likes to talk about sitting around the table with his family worrying about how he was going to pay his way through college. The implication being you never had to worry about that.

KERRY: Well, people are given different hands in life. I respect John Edwards and I respect his family's history and everything about it. But if the qualification is sort of where you're born or whether you can feel things, we'd have never had a great president in Franklin Roosevelt. We'd have never had a great president in John Kennedy. I think the test is, what do you fight for? What are your values?

WOODRUFF: But John Edwards keeps bringing this up, Senator.

KERRY: Well, that's fine.

WOODRUFF: You've given that answer before and he keeps coming back and saying... KERRY: That's OK. I think Americans are looking for leadership. I think Americans are looking for somebody who has a proven record in fighting for working people. I'll take a second seat to nobody in my fights through the years, for people who are hurting. I have fought, and that's why the labor, that's why today, the AFL-CIO, working people who are getting the short end of the stick in America, stood up, and embraced my candidacy.

Because they know I fought for them with a 91 percent voting record throughout my lifetime, and I have fought to raise the minimum wage. I fought for health care. I fought for children. I fought for clean air and clean water. I fought for things that make a difference. And I've walked that walk for 35 years. And I will stand by my record.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry talking to me today in Washington.

In a postscript, a new survey suggests that the presidential primary season has been a PR plus for the Democrats. A Pew poll shows 45 percent of Americans nationwide now have an excellent or good opinion of the Democratic candidates. That is up from 31 percent in January. A slim majority, 51 percent of those surveyed do predict that President Bush will win in November. Now that is down from 61 percent who felt that way last month.

Some Republicans have wondered if there might be any changes in the GOP's 2004 ticket. Coming up, the Bush/Cheney team. Bob Novak has the latest buzz on the vice presidential race.

Also ahead, is a certain former vice president playing second fiddle to John Edwards?

And later, a picture that's music to the Kerry campaign's ears.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're going to take you live to Boulder, Colorado, where some former University of Colorado football players are talking about some allegations that there was sexual abuse and even rape of a former female place kicker, Katie Hnida. This is Scott Nemeth (ph), a former football player.

(JOINING AN ONGOING PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...from using appropriate behavior. His rules were strictly applied, suspending players or adding additional discipline for being late, dressing out of uniform or displaying any sort of conduct that did not meet the standards discussed in the player conduct book. He has faithfully directed the participants in this program to the highest level of integrity and moral discipline. Gary Barnett is an upright, honest and moral man and I stand behind him -- I stand by him as my coach, as my leader and as my mentor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you spell your name for us? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: N-e-m-e-t-h. N-e-m-e-t-h. And Rashidi Barnes (ph) wants to say a couple words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you all doing today? OK, great. We're losing focus here. First of all let me step back and say, we all met on behalf of ourselves. We wanted to get together because as alumni student athletes, we need to get here together and basically come out and show our support for the Colorado program, as well as the student athletes that walk in and out of this center every day. We have basketball, track, football, a number of athletes being bombarded by the media.

They had nothing to do with anything. They don't know anything. We need to just let them kids get their education, basically. We need to understand that this is not affecting only the CU Boulder, this is affecting people across the nation. Everyone that's affiliated with CU football is being affected. We get bombarded every day with telephone calls. Just want to make sure that we understand that these kids are great kids, positive kids, are not villains, they are not rapists. These kids just want to get an education and go to school. That's it. And play football. Basketball. Whatever else it is. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rashidi. R-a-s-h-i-d-i.

WOODRUFF: All right we've been listening to two former University of Colorado football players defend the team, and defend their coach, Gary Barnett who has been placed on administrative leave because of some comments he made about a former female Colorado place kicker named Katie Hnida, who's accused some members of the team of rape and of being -- verbally abusing and harassing and molesting her. Let's bring in sports attorney Rob Becker in New York. Rob Becker, what is the legal trail from here on? I mean, after Katie Hnida was described as making these charges in that "Sports Illustrated" interview this week, where does this go from here?

ROB BECKER, ATTORNEY: Well, the legal trail in her particular case may not be very long because she says she's really not going to press criminal or civil charges. But if she changes her mind then it could be a very serious problem for the university. And in the end, all these various accusations are starting to build together, and also the fifth person who claims to have been raped, her accusations may come into play in some lawsuits brought by three other women, those were the first three suits brought, they claimed there was this atmosphere of sexual harassment that led to their rape, and until recently it didn't appear that they had a lot of incidents of sexual harassment that they could point to to make their case.

The fifth woman's accusation is about an event that took place prior to the event involving the three people who sued. So that helps them to some extent build their case that the university knew of an ongoing sexual harassment problem, and did not react appropriately, and that's what you have to prove in a Title IX suit like those three women have brought. You have to show ongoing pattern of sexual harassment, university knew, and its reaction was unreasonable. So we're getting a little closer to perhaps seeing those plaintiffs make their case.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, how many women have come forward and made accusations now?

BECKER: Five of which two are still anonymous.

WOODRUFF: All right, Rob Becker joining us from New York. He's a sports attorney helping us understand some of the background behind this story that really exploded into the news this week, with that interview in the report in "Sports Illustrated" about Katie Hnida. All right, Rob, thank you very much.

And now we want to turn back to INSIDE POLITICS and check the headlines in our campaign news daily. Former vice president Al Gore is going to sub for Senator John Edwards who angered some Idaho Democrats when he canceled plans to speak this weekend. The Democrats say that Gore stepped in for the good of the party. And his appearance at the annual Idaho fund-raiser should not be considered an endorsement of Edwards. The Idaho caucuses are coming up next Tuesday.

Massachusetts Democrats are hoping for the best in the presidential election but a John Kerry victory could also bring problems. If Kerry wins the presidency his Senate seat would become vacant allowing Republican Governor Mitt Romney to appoint an interim replacement from his own party. Now Democratic lawmakers are proposing a law that would keep Kerry's seat vacant until there was a special election.

And President Bush's top man in Iraq offers an opinion about U.S. politics. Asked about possible changes in U.S. policies, civilian administrator Paul Bremer had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL BREMER, U.S. CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATOR: ...lose the election nor do I expect for there to be any change in the American polity. The American people understand the importance of what we have done here, liberating 25 million people of vicious tyranny...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Paul Bremer just this week. Well there's no question John Kerry's the current front-runner for the top half of the Democratic ticket. Coming up, Bob Novak has the latest buzz about the bottom half of both presidential tickets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're going to try to get straight for you what we told you about just before the break, and that is President Bush's top man in Iraq, the U.S. administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, talking today about what would happen if there were a change in policy. Here's what Bremer had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREMER: I don't expect President Bush to lose the election, nor do I expect for there to be any change in the American policy. The American people understand the importance of what we have done here, liberating 25 million people from a vicious tyranny, fighting the global war on terrorism and bringing democracy and pluralism to this country. We will continue on that until we succeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Paul Bremer. Well, Bob Novak is here now with some inside buzz. All right, let's talk about the vice presidential sweepstakes. On both sides, what are you hearing?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Rumors sweeping all over the political circuit, including over on Capitol Hill, is that Dick Cheney is going to be dumped. I talked to the people on the re-election campaign and they usually won't tell you if your pants are on fire and they are unequivocal he will not be dumped. He will be renominated. They say this is a nonstory.

On the other side somebody who I had thought had been ruled out for a vice president, I hear a lot more talk about Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. Indiana has got twelve electoral votes, Bayh is a moderate. The downside is he voted for one of the Bush tax cuts and he voted against partial birth abortion. But he does add a little moderation to a Kerry ticket.

WOODRUFF: He might help in Ohio and some of those other midwestern states. All right, veto politics. What are you hearing about the highway bill right now?

NOVAK: Highway bill, there is a disagreement between President Bush and the speaker Hastert. President Bush wants to veto this bill to show he's a tough guy, Speaker Hastert does not want his Republican members to have to vote on an override. That's a no-win situation for them. He wants some kind of a compromise on this. This is really, and nobody can really say what they really mean so this is a very tense situation between the speaker and the president.

WOODRUFF: Got to get resolved at some point.

NOVAK: Pretty soon.

WOODRUFF: All right. Weapons of mass destruction. You've been hearing some concerns on the Republican side of the fence.

NOVAK: Last Friday, at 3:00 p.m., the intelligence committee staffers had a secret briefing for all the house Republican staffers on the weapons of mass destruction. Usually something like that at the end of the weekend has a few people, place was packed, standing room only because they all wanted to get some weapons for their bosses. What can they say about the weapons of mass destruction? And it was a very tense session because there's not a lot they can say. The point of the matter is Republicans are really worried about this as a political issue.

WOODRUFF: Finally, I want to ask you about the death of someone both of us knew and you knew very well. Political writer, columnist for the "Chicago Sun-Times" Steve Neal.

NOVAK: My colleague on the "Sun-Times." I've known Steve well for 25 years. He died this week. Tragic death. Still is one of the great political reporters in America. The top political columnist in Chicago. Besides that a scholar. He wrote the best biography of Wendell Wilke. Excellent book on Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. And he just has a new book coming out, he's been working on for years, on 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that nominated Roosevelt just about to come out. Steve Neal was an institution in Illinois politics, Chicago politics, and will be badly missed.

WOODRUFF: He and I covered the White House many years ago. He's a great journalist and a great guy. He was only 54 years old. Bob Novak, thank you very much.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: If John Kerry wins the Democratic nomination you could say the 2004 race would become a family affair. At least that's what two genealogists say. According to their research the president and the senator are distant cousins. 16th cousin, three times removed to be exact. The genealogists say the two men also share ties to several well-known figures including Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, and Charlemagne. How's that for a little variety. We may need to check that out a little bit more. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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President John Sweeney; Interview with John Kerry; Former Athletes defend University of Colorado Football Program>


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