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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

John Edwards' Super Tuesday Strategy; Deaniacs After the Fall

Aired February 20, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the people of Georgia deserve to hear of a debate between John Edwards and John Kerry, don't you?

(APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: The Edwards challenge. How hard will he keep pushing? And will Kerry take the bait?

Going to the map. The front-runner charts his course toward Super Tuesday, with question marks on the horizon.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no clue, Judy, where the schedule is. I really don't.

ANNOUNCER: The Dean campaign's final days. CNN went behind the scenes and captured some remarkable moments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... New Gallup-USA Today poll.

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't seen it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Us, 24 nationally; Clark 20.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, it's become a rule of thumb in presidential campaigns. Front-runners and incumbents often want to limit debates, while challengers tend to want all the exposure they can get. That brings us to John Edwards, who today is pressing John Kerry to take part in several debates in Super Tuesday states.

CNN's Dan Lotion has more on Edwards and his strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While some have been critical of the Edwards' campaign strategy to focus narrowly on areas impacted by the loss of manufacturing jobs, Senator Edwards believes that is the strategy to win. That is why he took his message of the economy, jobs and trade to the first stop in Savannah, Georgia, then here to Prince George's Community College in Maryland, a state he says that's lost some 21,000 jobs in recent years.

EDWARDS: We also need to do everything we can to keep jobs here in this country. We've seen what's happened. Loss of millions of jobs during the time that George Bush has been president. That's why I'll support small manufacturers and offer a 10 percent tax credit for manufacturers that keep jobs right here in America, where we need these jobs.

LOTHIAN: In other developments, Senator Edwards picked up the endorsement of the mayor of Albany. That is an area in upstate New York where the campaign will be focusing heavily.

The campaign also opened its headquarters in Minnesota. That is another state where they will be focusing, as well.

And in a final piece of news today, Senator Edwards sent a letter to Senator Kerry, where he's calling for four debates over the next two weeks. Part of that letter reads that, "While we are all Democrats, there are very real differences among us. And the American people deserve to know who we are, and where we're from, and where we stand on the issues." No word yet on any response from the Kerry campaign.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Largo, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: In fact, all four remaining Democratic presidential candidates have agreed to take part in a CNN-LA Times debate in another Super Tuesday battleground, California. It's set for next Thursday at the University of Southern California. Larry King will moderate the 90-minute forum live on CNN beginning at 9 00 p.m. Eastern. And I'll be there, as well; anchoring INSIDE POLITICS live from the site of the debate at our normal time.

Well, John Edwards campaigns in New York State later today. But a new poll suggests that he has a long way to go for his push there to be successful. John Kerry is literally 52 points ahead of Edwards in this Marist poll of likely voters in New York's Democratic primary. But only half of those surveyed said they were strongly committed to a candidate.

Another plus for Kerry in New York, two prominent African- Americans, Congressman Charlie Rangel and former mayor of New York City, David Dinkins, both plan to endorse Kerry on Monday. They had previously supported Wesley Clark. Kerry has no public events on today -- that is, going on today.

In New York and other Super Tuesday states, both John Kerry and John Edwards are hoping to win over the Deaniacs who were once committed to and, in many cases, disappointed by the former candidate.

CNN's Jason Bellini went to Emery University in Atlanta to find out what the Dean crowd is doing now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Huttman -- that's him on the left -- once a Deaniac, has given his heart to John Edwards. I met Huttman last June. He was wild about Dean. He helped lead meet-up groups, bring together Dean supporters who met over the Internet to express the love that many felt for the very first time.

CHRIS HUTTMAN, EDWARDS SUPPORTER: I look at it kind of this way: the first girl I ever asked out didn't say yes, but you keep up with it and you stay persistent and eventually things will work out for you.

BELLINI (on camera): Do you feel like your date slapped you in the face?

HUTTMAN: Oh, no. I don't feel like my date slapped me in the face.

BELLINI (voice-over): But after his candidate screamed in his face, Jeremy Buckmaster realized this just wasn't going to work out.

JEREMY BUCKMASTER, EDWARDS SUPPORTER: Well, while I understood that it was loud in the auditorium where he was speaking and everything, I just couldn't see him ever getting past that.

BELLINI: So Edwards became his, um, man.

BUCKMASTER: Kerry, I have tried and I really just can't get all that excited about him.

BELLINI: Before Dean, David Fortune was a political virgin.

(on camera): When did you become an Edwards supporter?

DAVID FORTUNE, FMR. DEAN SUPPORTER: I'm not an Edwards supporter. I'm still undecided. Came here today looking for some more solid answers. But to me, it just sounds like echoes of Dean.

I'm still not sure. I mean, I just don't see that passion within these other guys. They're too much the Washington insider type.

BELLINI (voice-over): Fortune is far from over Dean. He's still bitter.

(on camera): Do you feel a little naive now?

FORTUNE: No, I don't feel naive. I feel as though the media, for the most part, has snatched the race...

BELLINI: Oh, there you go. Blame the media. Blame the media.

(voice-over): Huttman sees Dean differently now.

HUTTMAN: The movement that the Dean campaign had built was better than the candidate.

BELLINI: But he has no regrets.

(on camera): What about the movement he started? Does it go away now?

HUTTMAN: I don't think it's too early to say right now. I think you've got 600,000 people, according to the Dean Web site, that are active in politics and want to change this country. And I just don't see how a group that large that cares and was right -- this country does need change -- is just going to go away into the night.

BELLINI: Do you think their will ever be meet-ups like the ones you had this past summer? With that kind of enthusiasm, people from all walks of life just showing up?

HUTTMAN: I don't think it would be possible to recreate that. I mean, you had just this amazing set of circumstances that kind of came together and made something great.

BELLINI (voice-over): Huttman has no doubt, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And we'll keep watching those committed Dean supporters as the year goes on.

Well, checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," today, John Kerry began getting Secret Service protection, and John Edwards has been authorized to get it, too. Federal law allows White House candidates to request Secret Service protection if they meet a certain level in the primaries and in the polls.

No wonder John Edwards is not campaigning in Vermont. It turns out he's not even on the March 2 primary ballot there. Back in January, when Howard Dean was still the front-runner, Edwards decided not to file to be on the ballot in Dean's home state.

Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader plans to announce Sunday whether he will run for the White House again this year. Many Democrats saw Nader as a spoiler who cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. Nader will follow up his Sunday announcement with an appearance Monday right here on INSIDE POLITICS.

Question: did you ever wish you could be a fly on a wall of a presidential campaign headquarters? Coming up, the next best thing, an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Howard Dean's campaign before the free-fall.

Also ahead, a preview of what the Bush campaign soon may throw at John Kerry.

And where's the love? Find out in the "Political Play of the Week."

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The head of a powerful labor union that once endorsed Howard Dean says that he urged Dean to get out of the race to avoid a humiliating defeat in Wisconsin. Gerald McEntee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says that he begged Dean to get out, but that Dean declined. He said Dean's refusal to quit despite dwindling support, plus some awkward campaign appearances, changed his opinion of Dean. McEntee told The New York Times, "I think he's nuts."

Well, Dean's presidential campaign had its fair share of glitches. Some of them highly publicized, but some you probably haven't heard about. A CNN producer was given exclusive behind-the- scenes access and followed campaign manager Joe Trippi's every month for seven months. Four hundred-some videotapes later, CNN has enough for a documentary. And here now we're going to share with you a sample, Dean and Trippi in the weeks before their devastating upset in the Iowa caucuses.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: If you're willing to come out here in the snow, so am I. And let's go take back our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's it going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going strong.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Front-page story tomorrow (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the New Gallup-USA Today poll?

DEAN: I haven't seen it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Us, 24 nationally; Clark, 20.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like the other candidates are closing in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we'll see on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of that stuff matters right now. In Iowa, it's organize, organize, organize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is the blog handling all this? You know, the polls saying it's a dead heat, all of that kind of stuff. How are they reacting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some are doing "the sky is falling." Some people are saying it's not about the sky is falling. There's definitely some of the sort of freaking out attitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real story is John Kerry. He had a 25- point night last night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These two communities are very similar. They're suburban, middle income, two kids, one-dog communities. And it's primarily Kerry. There's a small amount of roots support, primarily Kerry. A little bit of Gephardt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who's going to win these precincts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Dean's going to win these precincts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. Can you get me...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to go get the poll right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I see Dean people." I hate that sign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the point of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. But it comes from the movie slogan, "I see dead people."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think it's going to be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what everybody else is doing, Joe? They're doing this: talking to smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. And we're just growing, baby. Every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, 36,000 out of 130 (ph) would be 28 percent. It should be enough. So it's between us and Gephardt, or you don't think it's between us and anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's between us and Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Howard, Howard Dean, Howard Dean. Going to take our country back, going to take our country back. Whoo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are hot.

DEAN: Now we just got to make sure that we win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can take it from a pure polling statement, which I know isn't a straight comparison. But if it doesn't get any better, it means that we just -- you know, we just hit flat and never got anything back. And they kept moving. And Kerry in particular.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Here's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) numbers I just got. Kerry 34; Edwards 23; Dean 19; Gephardt 11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Gina (ph) tell him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Go ahead. OK. Bye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Those were the heady days. But, the reality started to hit there at the end, as you saw. And for more exclusive behind- the-scenes moments from the Dean campaign, please watch "CNN PRESENTS, True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign." It premieres on March the 7th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

An intelligent, savvy and honest leader infuriating critics with his success. Such is life in Bush country. The latest broadside from the right in the ongoing book battle with the left. I'll talk with author John Podhoretz straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, it's the latest round in the ongoing book battle between supporters and critics of President Bush. It is called "Bush Country: How W. Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane." John Podhoretz is the author, and we sat down this week to talk about his latest work. I asked him if this was the right time for a book defending the president when there are something like 25 others out right now critical of him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN PODHORETZ, AUTHOR, "BUSH COUNTRY": Oh, I think it's more than the right time. I think it's a necessary time, because the book goes through the 36 months of the presidency of George W. Bush, and lays out in a very systematic way why this is one of the most consequential presidencies in American history, and how the record of the president's achievements in office over these past three years equals or surpasses many two-term presidents and what they did in eight years. Not just in terms of things that he did after September 11 and the war on terror, but also domestically.

Massive, very important controversial pieces of legislation on education, Medicare, two enormous tax cuts, two wars. You know, two wars, the ouster of two evil regimes. This is an extraordinary list of accomplishments.

WOODRUFF: John Podhoretz, you write about the president's style, but you also say there's a side that aides call extremely disciplined, but you also say there's a side that has the -- where he has the instincts of a gambler. What do you mean by that?

PODHORETZ: Well, I mean that he's personally very, very focused and disciplined. This is the one thing that I would say that his aides told me to a man. That he sits down, he does his work, he's up in the morning. He goes from morning till night.

He goes in meetings. He's focused, he's controlled, he's concentrated. He remembers everything he needs to remember.

Politically, and in terms of playing the political game, he goes very aggressively at things. If he wants a tax cut, he says he wants $1.6 trillion. If he wants a second tax, he says he wants $765 billion. He doesn't say he wants a demonstration program, a starter project. He wants big.

He says he disdains what he calls "small ball." You know, baseball where you try to hit singles. He swings through the fences and he tries -- an din another sport, mixing my game metaphors, in terms of poker playing, he goes at people and he says, I've got the hand; you better play with me.

WOODRUFF: Now, I mentioned the anti-Bush books that are out there. And I want to ask you about one. We interviewed the author of one of those, Mark Green, just last week. Very critical of the president.

He told me, in addition to policy differences with Democrats, he says there is a credibility gap. And I'm citing Mark Green. He says on issues like the deficit and the environment, he said, "This president doesn't change his policies, he changes the facts."

What do you say to charges like this?

PODHORETZ: Well, I actually think that George W. Bush is about as straightforward a political leader as we've had in my lifetime. He pretty much says what he's going to do and he does it.

Does he put the most positive gloss on things when they happen or when things go wrong? Of course. He's also a politician. And politicians, what they do is they try to take what facts they have and make them look as good as possible.

Every politician does it. To accuse him of some special and spectacular version of dishonesty for literally doing the job the way the job is done is an act of at least a lack of charity, and mostly an ideological assault covered in an assault on a question of character.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, is this president vulnerable? We have a new poll out this week showing him 10 and 12 points behind John Edwards and John Kerry.

PODHORETZ: He is vulnerable the way that all politicians are vulnerable. But I think that as the American people are brought over the course of this year to remember what he has done and, most importantly, what sorts of ways he has worked to make America safer, to protect the country after September 11, and to advance a vision of freedom and safety for the world, in the advent of September 11 they will look at him and say he is a great leader and that they will want him back again. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: John Podhoretz, the author of the book "Bush Country."

Well, perhaps in keeping with what we heard John Podhoretz say, describing the president as at times a gambler, today, as we just reported, President Bush has made a recess appointment to the Federal Court of Appeals of attorney general of Alabama, William Pryor. Recess appointment, meaning the president getting around Senate Democrats who have opposed Pryor's appointments on the grounds that he has openly been an opponent of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Just now, we're getting a statement from Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York saying, "The president is on shaky ground with the right, and is using this questionably legal and politically shabby technique," he says, "to bolster himself." Again, criticism already poring in from Democrats to the president's decision to appoint Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the Federal Court of Appeals.

Question: how does a candidate run in 10 states at once and on a limited budget? Coming up, plotting strategies for Super Tuesday and beyond.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry can lead.

EDWARDS: And I will stand with these kids who need help.

ANNOUNCER: The Democrats have been all over the airwaves. But get ready for this...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... a responsibility to fight AIDS.

ANNOUNCER: We'll take a sneak peek at the Bush add strategy.

EDWARDS: We face a basic choice between taking the high road on trade, or the low road of bad jobs, and then no jobs at all.

KERRY: I believe that we should be exporting goods, not jobs, to other countries.

ANNOUNCER: OK. We get it. It's all about jobs. But who's got the better argument as we head towards Super Tuesday?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. When the Bush campaign recently released a Web video targeting John Kerry, it was, by many accounts, just the tip of the iceberg. The Republicans, we're told, are gearing up for a multimillion-dollar ad war.

Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" has a preview for us of what the Bush camp may throw at front-runner John Kerry sooner rather than later.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): John Kerry has had a pretty easy time in the Democratic primaries so far.

EDWARDS: I think that Senator Kerry is a good and serious candidate, has been from the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry.

KURTZ: But Kerry is about to get hit by an advertising avalanche, as President Bush's campaign prepares to spend up to $100 million against the Massachusetts senator. Senior Bush campaign officials tell me the aerial assault, which begins next month, will focus not only on Kerry's Capitol Hill record, but on his early career.

As chief media adviser Mark McKinnon put it, the beauty of John Kerry is 32 years of votes and public pronouncements.

One possible tag line, he's been wrong for 32 years, he's wrong now.

That means the president's ads, targeted at the 20 most contested states, will include plenty of blasts from the past. Such as Kerry's tenure as lieutenant governor under Michael Dukakis, the man defeated by Bush's father, and Kerry's days as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, when he testified before the Senate about U.S. military atrocities.

KERRY: Horrible, horrible, horrible thing.

KURTZ: Bush's strategists say they will not only portray Kerry as a big-spending, defense-cutting liberal, but as a man who fudges his positions on issues, including, they say, the hot button question of gay marriage.

Presidential pollster Matthew Dowd says one ad might put it, John Kerry says he's going to help the middle class with taxes but here's who he is. We've already seen a sneak preview of the Bush offensive in this online video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kerry, brought to you by the special interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Kerry's spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter dismisses what she calls a smear campaign, saying Bush, quote, "has taken a record amount of special interest money and rewarded them handsomely by inviting them to rewrite the nation's environmental, health and corporate tax laws."

But Mark McKinnon, who made Bush's ads in 2000, says the issue is hypocrisy, and saying you're going to take on the special interests, not who took the most special interests money.

And what if Kerry doesn't win the nomination? The Bush officials tell me they've got plenty of research on John Edwards, and even Dennis Kucinich.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Kerry won't have the resources to match the Bush blitz, which will also include plenty of positive advertising about the president, and the Democratic National Committee is trying to raise $15 million for a counter-offensive.

But there are risks for the Bush team, as well. If the anti- Kerry ads are too negative, too personal or too relentless, there could be a backlash from turned off voters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Howard, how much are they concerned about that? Or do they just assume you throw everything out there you've got, and hope a lot of it sticks?

KURTZ: Well, they know what all political professionals know, which is that negative advertising works, even though people grumble about it. But John Kerry will be out there every day, saying this is character assassination, they're attacking me because they can't defend the president's record. And if there's a 10 to one ratio on the air of Bush to Kerry ads, and if the ads seem too harsh in tone -- tone is the key here -- then it might strike some people as overkill.

WOODRUFF: My question is, is there any evidence out there in the past from previous experience that a relentless attack on someone backfired?

KURTZ: What happened sometimes, Judy, is that the person being attacked puts up ads attacking the attacker and saying they're going negative on me, and both of their favorability ratings come down, because voters see them as just sort of throwing mud at each other. So there is a risk here. The Bush people didn't seem terribly concerned about it when I raised that question, but we'll see how that plays out.

WOODRUFF: We shall see. All right, Howard Kurtz, thank you very much. And we'll see you on "RELIABLE SOURCES" Sunday.

KURTZ: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, with each passing month, the Bush team has even more cash to spend on campaign commercials and everything else. The Bush/Cheney camp said that it raised nearly $13 million last month, from 71,000 contributors. That brings the total amount raised so far to more than $143 million.

Meantime, the Kerry campaign is trying to figure out how to use its money wisely. Democratic campaign strategists are busy mapping out time and resources for the big super Tuesday showdown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no clue, Judy, where the schedule is, I really don't. I just -- you know, you're looking at somebody who's got to figure out where I'm going to be on the weekend.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): John Kerry heads to Georgia this weekend, and beyond that we'll wait to see. As the front-runner, he needs to be ready to troubleshoot in states where John Edwards is competitive.

Edwards has effectively waved the white flag in four super Tuesday states in Kerry's northeastern backyard. Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Kerry's home state of Massachusetts.

That leaves six battlegrounds in play. And Edwards has stops in all of them, except for California, today through Sunday.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right here in the state of Georgia.

WOODRUFF: His aides expect Edwards to spend the bulk of his time and money in states with big job losses and big delegate counts. Georgia, Ohio, New York, and California.

Kerry already is moving to counter Edwards' moves in Georgia. During his weekend swing there, Kerry will appear with one of his newest supporters, Georgia congressman and civil rights legend John Lewis.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: The next president of the United States, John Kerry.

KERRY: 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: Kerry has yet to go up with any ads in super Tuesday states. Neither has the Edwards campaign. And there's good reason. Eight of the nation's 20 most expensive media markets are in the March 2 states.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: So, the campaigns will need to carefully place their ads to get the most bang for the bucks that they raise. And when will the super Tuesday air war begin? The Edwards camp says, stay tuned.

And now, a closer look at how the jobs and the economy figure into super Tuesday strategy. Here's our national correspondent Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heading towards super Tuesday, the candidates are talking jobs. John Edwards criticizes trade agreements like NAFTA. In the Wisconsin exit poll, he was almost even with John Kerry among voters who think trade has cost the U.S. jobs.

EDWARDS: The loss of jobs and the decline of living standards are happening for a very good reason. We face a basic choice between taking the high road on trade or the low road of bad jobs, and then no jobs at all, which is the direction we're headed in right now.

MORTON: John Kerry, who voted for NAFTA, blames corporations for moving jobs overseas.

KERRY: When I am president, and with your help, we're going to repeal every benefit, every loophole, every reward that entices any Benedict Arnold company or CEO to take the money and the jobs overseas, and stick the American people with the bill.

MORTON: How big an issue is the economy in the super Tuesday states? The national unemployment rate for December in the last month available was 5.7 percent. It's the same in Massachusetts, a super Tuesday state. Six of the 10 that vote that day have unemployment rates below the national average. Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota and Georgia.

But in the three biggest super Tuesday states, it's worse than the national average. Six percent in Ohio, 6.2 percent in New York, and, worst of all, 6.4 percent in California. So the candidates will concentrate on those states, right? Maybe not. You almost have to campaign on TV in those big states, and ...

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Television is exorbitant in California and New York. And some of John Edwards' special appeal comes through on TV ads. But TV ads are something of an equalizer. As long as you have a good consultant, a good technician...

MORTON: Edwards, most observers agree, is best in small groups, in person.

ROTHENBERG: Edwards needs to stand out, and he stands out when he's in the flesh, when people can see him live on television or live in person. It's just tough to campaign that way in large states, and in so many states at the same time.

MORTON: It is tough. The first President Bush, when he was losing the nomination to Ronald Reagan in 1980, said one Tuesday, nobody said it was going to be easy. Nobody was right. John Edwards probably knows now what he meant.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, Howard Dean is out of the race. John Edwards keeps finishing second. And John Kerry hasn't clinched the nomination yet. So, if the presidential candidates can't come up with a "Political Play of the Week," who can? Bill Schneider has the answer, coming up.

And then later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: If it's Friday, it's time to look in our rearview mirror at the highlights of the past week on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: One week ago, he was relatively unknown to much of the country. But he is quickly becoming a household name. Some call him a hero. And others a villain. Bill Schneider joins us now to explain.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In Massachusetts, unelected judges ordered the state to recognize same- sex marriages. In San Francisco, it was done by the newly elected mayor. That's very different. In fact, it's the political play of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: More than 3,000 same-sex couples married in San Francisco this week. How did this happen? It all started in January when newly elected San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom attended President Bush's State of the Union speech.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation must defend the sanctity of marriage.

SCHNEIDER: What Mayor Newsom heard was discrimination.

MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: I do not have the benefit or privilege to discriminate against people and it's something I felt and take seriously and we acted accordingly.

SCHNEIDER: With that Mayor Newsom ordered the city and county of San Francisco to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

PHIL MATIER, COLUMNIST, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": Was it a smart political move in terms of San Francisco? You better believe it.

SCHNEIDER: At a stroke, Newsom, elected by a narrow margin in December, became a hero to the city's large and powerful gay community. And his cause, the target of criticism by President Bush.

BUSH: Watching very carefully but I'm troubled by what I've seen.

SCHNEIDER: How big a problem can that be for Newsom in a city where George W. Bush got 16 percent of the vote? But what if Newsom has political plans beyond San Francisco?

MATIER: I don't think he's going to be invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

SCHNEIDER: The 36-year-old mayor is looking to the future. Younger Americans are much more inclined to favor same-sex marriage. It's like their civil rights issue.

NEWSOM: I imagine people are saying in 1966 the same things they're saying now about blacks and whites getting married. That's in my lifetime. It's just so absurd as to be literally unbelievable.

SCHNEIDER: And in the meantime?

MATIER: I mean let's face it, San Francisco has been put on this planet for one reason, and that's to give the rest of the country something to talk about. And once again, we haven't let you down.

SCHNEIDER: Well for another reason, too. For the political play of the week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Gays are an increasingly important power block in cities all over the country. Why, this week, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said he had, quote, "no problem with issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Cook county, Illinois." I bet you didn't know Mayor Daley was a hip, cutting-edge kind of guy, did you?

WOODRUFF: We heard some other mayors making the same point. Bill, thank you very much. One programming note, Mayor Newsom of San Francisco will be Wolf Blitzer's guest on "LATE EDITION" this Sunday, at noon Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.

Are conservatives uneasy with president George W. Bush? Coming up, Bay Buchanan and Ann Lewis take on the presidential race, including the possible source of some worries on the right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now, Ann Lewis who is chairwoman of the DNC Women's Vote Center and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. I want to talk to you both about -- this has apparently been a rather tough week or weeks for President Bush. You've got conservatives on the right, Bay, saying the president is letting spending get out of control. They're concerned about the jobs forecast coming out of the White House. They're concerned about the way the Iraq war is winding up or down or whatever. Is this -- should the president be worried about his support in his own party?

BAY BUCHANAN, FMR. BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN CHAIRWOMAN: Well, you always worry about that. The last thing you should do is take your base for granted. And I think, to be quite honest, the president has taken it for granted somewhat over these last six months. He had a very strong support from the base last summer. And it has taken a hit. But I think it will be there for him as long as he gets out there on the campaign. His greatest quality is leadership and shows real leadership on some of these issues to rally the troops. But he's got to address them and their needs and their concerns.

WOODRUFF: Ann, how do you see it from your perspective?

ANN LEWIS, CHAIRWOMAN, DNC WOMEN'S VOTE CENTER: Well, it's just been, as you say, a difficult week for the president. His economic adviser says outsourcing jobs is a good thing. His press secretary will not say the president stands behind his own economic forecast. His poll numbers are going south and his conservative base is saying, wait a minute, we're supposed to be the people who lower the deficit and in fact the deficit has exploded. It's tough to live with it. But that's the reality.

WOODRUFF: One of the comments that we saw that we -- caused us to raise this is the quote in the "Boston Globe" today, Bay, where you have a senior Republican congressional staffer, senior aide to a senator saying, "for the first time, some Republicans are facing the prospect that the president could lose." He goes on to say that there is an wonder in Republican circles about why the administration has been so ham-handed in getting their message out.

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, the first thing to remember here is George Bush is, I believe, going to win this whole thing and the only one who can beat him is not a John Kerry. The only person who can beat George Bush is George Bush. And he has now, there's been a period of time when he's been under attack for many, many months and he hasn't been in a primary. So he doesn't have that experience out there, the quickness that a campaign brings to you. Those things will come and John Kerry will be put on the defensive and the president will be on the offense I think in short order. But there's no question this is not been a great couple weeks.

WOODRUFF: Isn't there something to what Bay says, Ann? It's still early, there's plenty of time for the president to get things back on an even keel?

LEWIS: I think it's early, and he has time to make his case. But again, I'd say I think the case he can make has still got to be grounded in reality somewhere. You look at those deficits, you look at the direction the budget's going, you look at the economic numbers, and the jobs, it's tough to go back to the American people and say, this is what I told you I was going to do. I'm working in your interest. And let me add, I think what has gone through the Hill, and Republicans on the Hill like a shot, is Democrats picking up that congressional seat in Kentucky.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's quickly turn -- speaking of Democrats, turn to the contest for the nomination. It's still very much alive. John Kerry's the front-runner, John Edwards breathing down his back, some would say. We just learned in the last few minutes, Bay and Ann, about a new ad John Edwards is going to run in the states of Georgia and Ohio. He's talking about two Americas. We've heard a lot about that. But he's also talking -- one ad is called "Better Life." He says, I was born 50 years ago, he's going to say, this was my first home, my folks weren't famous, they weren't rich. Is this attack, Bay, that's going to -- could work for John Edwards?

BUCHANAN: He's a long shot, at best, at this stage. Clearly Kerry has all the momentum in this race. But he does introduce a very interesting facet. There's energy in his message, and in himself. He's very personable. And I think a lot of people could look and be attracted to him. They thought that Kerry -- they look at Kerry only from a resume. He's got the stronger resume. But when it comes to personality and on the issues, I think Edwards is a stronger candidate.

WOODRUFF: Ann, is there worry on the Democratic side that this thing could stay unresolved for a long time?

LEWIS: Well, you know, I'd say, one, this is not a negative ad. This is a comparative, if you will, a differentiating ad. He's saying this is what's strong about me. But what we've seen so far is that this debate has actually been good for Democrats. When people see John Kerry and John Edwards out there talking about issues, talking about the economy, being the face of the Democratic Party, everybody's numbers go up.

WOODRUFF: But couldn't something like this -- I mean, he's clearly pointing to John Kerry, who came from a privileged background, couldn't this take some of the bark off of John Kerry, if you will?

LEWIS: It hasn't so far. And I don't see any reason why it would. And in fact, I'd say if you go back and look at some of the earlier primaries, then it was even a little feistier in the debate. And people say, you know what, they're talking about the right things. That is what our candidates for president should be doing.

BUCHANAN: But if John Edwards wants to win any of these primaries, he's going to have to go directly after John Kerry and bring him down, or he will not win. So that's going to be his call.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying this sounds too subtle to you?

BUCHANAN: It's way too subtle. He has got a guy that has enormous momentum, that he has got to stop the momentum and get them to turn and look at him. The only way you do that is go negative.

WOODRUFF: Maybe we'll see that in the debate next Thursday. We keep saying we might see it. Maybe we'll see it next week.

LEWIS: We hope so, don't we?

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Ann Lewis, thank you for stopping by. Bay Buchanan, thank you very much. It's great to see both of you.

Well, the list of presidential candidates keeps getting smaller. But rest assured, there's no shortage when it comes to highlights from this week on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As it turns out, Wisconsin was a must-win for Howard Dean after all. But for political junkies it isn't just about whether you win or lose. It is the constant playing of the game. Here's a look back at the political "Week That Was."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gentlemen, start your engines.

KERRY: We don't need a president who just says "gentlemen, start your engines." We need a president who says, America, let's start our economy and put people back to work in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, John Kerry has one quality I think all of us know, he can beat George Bush and that's all we want to do. Let's kick his (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

EDWARDS: Not so fast, John Kerry. Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.

CROWD: Four more wars! Four more wars?

SEN. EDWARDS KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I said to John out back, I said, when you were a young man, did you ever think that you'd go out to Vietnam to be a war hero? And he said, let me ask you a question, when you were a young man, did you ever think that you'd grow up to the uncle-in-law of an Austrian bodybuilder Republican governor of the state of California? I said no. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), who knows.

DEAN: I'm going to enjoy this when we go to California, and when we go to New York. And when we go to Rhode Island. And when we go to Massachusetts. Yahoo.

I've got to put my coat and tie back on. This wouldn't look presidential.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW": We have some exclusive footage now, shot by CNN. This is Howard Dean at home in Vermont. Take a look.

DEAN: Yeaaagh!

LETTERMAN: Howard Dean at home in Vermont.

JAY LENO, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW": You know, it's amazing, Dean spent over $40 million, didn't win a single primary. All that money, didn't win. He's like the New York Yankees of politics.

DEAN: We are not done.

I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We used to do serious news, too. There's nothing like a presidential campaign.

Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Have a wonderful weekend, and be sure to join Candy Crowley for "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. 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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