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Kerry v. Bush; Interview With Ralph Nader

Aired February 23, 2004 - 15:30   ET


RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Movements for change come from more voices and choices.

ANNOUNCER: Spoiling for a fight? Ralph Nader joins us to defend his presidential bid and send a message to Democrats who wish he'd go away.

NADER: Relax, rejoice.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the president tonight will lay out what he calls vision. I believe that what he will do tonight is run away from his own record, because he doesn't have a record to run on.

ANNOUNCER: A fall-like chill. John Kerry goes to Harlem to take on the revved up Bush campaign.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: I've been talking to governor Dean over the course of the last week.

ANNOUNCER: Deaniacs for Edwards? The campaign to court the ex- candidate's constituency.



WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

Well, as much as Ralph Nader rails against President Bush, the two now have something in common: the animosity of many Democrats who say they are committed to winning back the White House. On this day after announcing his independent presidential campaign, Nader is working to dispel the nation that he's a spoiler.

We begin our coverage with CNN's Bruce Morton.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ralph Nader is 69 now. The book that first made him famous, "Unsafe at Any Speed: An Attack on Safety in American Automobiles," came out almost 40 years ago. Then, as now, though, his target is corporations, which he says have taken over American politics. NADER: How long is the learning curve before we recognize that political parties are the problem? They're the problem. They're the ones that have turned our government over to corporations.

MORTON: Critics say he helped elect President Bush four years ago. He disagrees, adding...

NADER: I urge the liberal establishment to relax and rejoice. This is a campaign that strives to displace the present corporate regime of the Bush administration.

MORTON: On some issues he sounds like a left-wing Democrat: withdraw from trade organizations like NAFTA and GATT.

NADER: We hope to show that jobs can be kept here in the United States, good-paying local jobs by a massive repair America campaign.

MORTON: He sounded some of the same things running as the Green Party candidate four years ago.

NADER: But I can no longer stomach the systemic political decay that has weakened our democracy.

MORTON (on camera): One difference. As an Independent, he'll have to collect signatures to get on the ballot in each state, 1.5 million signatures, his Web site estimates. One early hurdle, Texas. More than 60,000 signatures due by May 10 of people who didn't vote in a major party primary.

His Web site asks for volunteers and a state chairman there. And he knows the liberals don't like him.

NADER: I think this may be the only candidacy in our memory that is opposed over whelmingly by people who agree with us.

MORTON (voice-over): He thinks most parties are controlled by corporations but says he'll concentrate on...

NADER: The giant corporation in the White House masquerading as a human being, George W. Bush.

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And I'll talk live with Ralph Nader about his campaign and the fallout ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

John Kerry says he's trying not to let Ralph Nader or anyone else distract him from his primary target, President Bush. In New York today, the Democratic front-runner found a new line of attack against the incumbent.

Let's check in with CNN's Kelly Wallace -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, John Kerry focusing on New York City. And that is no surprise because, traditionally, Democratic primaries in this state are won or lost in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. But as you said, he is trying to keep his focus on President Bush. And what he did today here in Queens and earlier in Harlem, he hit the president before Mr. Bush delivers a speech tonight to Republican governors, a speech the Bush-Cheney re-election team says will represent a new level of engagement when it comes to this campaign.


KERRY: Tonight you'll hear words; today Americans are living the truth. I think George Bush is on the run. And I think he's on the run because he doesn't have a record to run on.


WALLACE: And we saw John Kerry earlier in Harlem, along with former New York City mayor David Dinkins and New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, who at one time was backing retired General Wesley Clark. There he criticized the Bush administration's record on jobs and health care.

And what is going on at the same time, you have this duel of sorts between Senator Kerry and the Bush-Cheney re-election team. On Saturday, Senator Kerry sent a letter to President Bush accusing the president's surrogates of questioning his patriotism and military service. Well, the Bush-Cheney re-election team fired back with a letter of its own, saying it is doing no such thing. That it is keeping its focus on the senator's voting record when it comes to defense and intelligence issues.

A short time ago, Senator Kerry spoke to reporters. And we asked him about that.


KERRY: I'm not going to let them nickel and dime us on one system or another that was an individual vote.


WALLACE: And so what we are seeing, Judy, is a response and a counter-response. Because just a short time ago, I got off the phone with a Bush-Cheney re-election aide who says that, once again, the campaign is not doing anything to question the senator's patriotism, or service, but is focusing on what it believes is fair game, and that is his voting record.

A couple of other side notes. We are learning that Kerry will start running ads in Ohio, Georgia and upstate New York beginning Tuesday morning. The exact places where John Edwards is running ads. And we also asked the senator if he had been talking to Howard Dean.

He told us they have talked several times. And an aide saying those conversations have taken place since Dean got out of the race, and characterizing them as discussions on how best to defeat President Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Which is a euphemism for something. OK. Thanks very much, Kelly Wallace.

Well, Bush campaign aides also said today that they will not back down on criticizing Senator Kerry's record on national security issues. In fact, they put out a new memo doing just that. We'll have more on the Bush campaign strategy a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Like Kerry, John Edwards campaigned in New York today, and his quest to put some Super -- or poll some Super Tuesday turf out from under the front-runner. Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is following John Edwards and his countdown to the March 2 contest.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a look at Edwards' travel schedule will give you an idea of the uphill journey he is on. He travels Monday from Manhattan to rural Georgia, two of the 10 Super Tuesday states. But it is not just about logistical difficulties; it is about political difficulties. Edwards leads in no state where polls are available.

Still, what makes it a little easier is the message remains the same. Reaching out to middle class voters, Edwards talks of helping them save, buy a home, and even protecting them from predatory creditors. Later, talking to reporters, Edwards says it's the kind of agenda that should make a vote for Ralph Nader unnecessary.

EDWARDS: I believe that it is important for the Democrats to have somebody at the top of the ticket who's appealing to the people who voted for Nader last time. I think that candidate is me, because if you look at a lot of the basis for Ralph Nader's candidacy, it's his life's been fighting consumer issues, his life spent fighting for the little guy. I've spent a great deal of my life doing the same thing.

CROWLEY: Though aides admit this is an uphill struggle for Edwards, they still have a lot of hope, and some of it is pinned on Howard Dean, who John Edwards has been working pretty hard.

EDWARDS: Nothing new. Some of you have heard me talk about this, but I've been talking to Governor Dean over the course of the last week. The discussions have been very positive. He's not told me what he wants to do. I've also been talking to Governor Dean's supporters in various places, Minnesota, Ohio...

CROWLEY: It will be difficult, in fact impossible, for John Edwards to play hard in all 10 Super Tuesday states. In fact, it will be difficult for John Kerry. Still, Edwards believes he has a bit of an advantage coming up: two debates, Thursday and Sunday. It is a forum where his aides believe he excels.

Candy Crowley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: Meantime, Edwards is urging his supporters to put their money where their mouth is. His camp passed out paper bags in New York yesterday as part of a new fund-raising appeal. The goal, to get supporters to brown bag their lunch tomorrow, and to donate the lunch money to Edwards' campaign.

Checking the headlines now in our Monday edition of "Campaign News Daily," the latest CNN survey of the race for the Democratic nomination finds John Edwards is now in second place behind John Kerry. Kerry holds a wide lead overall with 685 delegates, followed by Edwards with 200 delegates. Edwards has now surpassed Howard Dean's total based on an expanded CNN survey of party super delegates.

Dennis Kucinich has a grand total of two party delegates. But he's been hard at work in Hawaii. Kucinich held a series of rallies in the Aloha State over the weekend. Hawaii, along with Idaho and Utah, holds its party contest tomorrow. Referring to the famous come from behind racehorse, Kucinich told one crowd, "I'm behind in the pack, but so was Sea Biscuit."

Democrat Al Sharpton is running into money problems, but his campaign vows to press on. The Washington Post reports Sharpton only had about $1,000 in the bank at the end of January. The paper also reports that Sharpton has a habit of staying in hotels that cost about $1,000 per night. The Sharpton campaign chairman tells The Post that the upscale hotels are needed for fund-raising and security reasons.

Many Americans still apparently wondering what was Ralph Nader thinking when he jumped into the 2004 presidential race. Up next, I'll talk to Ralph Nader about his latest run, and whether he'll play the same role he did four years ago.

Also ahead...


NARRATOR: The simple fact is, if Nader had not run, Gore would be president, not Bush.


WOODRUFF: That's the way many anti-Bush voters see it, including the man behind the ralphdontrun Web site. I'll ask him about the Nader factor.

And later, let the campaign begin. How the president is delving deeper into the election year fray.


WOODRUFF: With a growing insurrection in Haiti, an uprising against the government, about 50 U.S. troops have just landed in that country.

And for the very latest, let's go to our Lucia Newman. She's on the phone with us from Port-au-Prince -- Lucia.


Indeed, our Marines have landed, by air, that is. Flown in on U.S. military aircraft at the Port-au-Prince International Airport.

The Marines are here to shore up security at the U.S. embassy on the request of the ambassador because of all the strife and unrest in this country. In fact, the embassy was closed today. All personnel told to stay home until the security situation can be improved, until the Marines can secure the area. Non-essential personnel, both at the U.S. and the Canadian embassies, have already left the country or are leaving at this moment -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Lucia Newman reporting on the landing, the arrival by air of some 50 U.S. troops, Marines who have been sent there to help make the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, another U.S. interest, secure, because of the increasingly unstable atmosphere in that country.

Lucia, thank you very much.

Back now to INSIDE POLITICS now. And joining us now with our lead story, and that is the announcement yesterday that Ralph Nader is getting into the presidential race, will be running as an Independent, Ralph Nader joins us now in our Washington studio.

Thank you for being with us.


WOODRUFF: You ran four years ago. You got, what, three percent of the vote. Do you honestly and seriously believe that you have a real shot at winning this election this year?

NADER: Well, you know, the stock answer, it depends on the voters and the media. But there are other purposes for the campaign.

I don't think there's too much political organization behind 45 million workers who don't make a living wage in this country, or 45 million people who don't have health insurance, of which 18,000 die every year. Or there's enough organized effort to crack down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse, or the environment. In other words, we need more voices, more energies, more political and civic involvement.

WOODRUFF: I hear what you're saying, but the practical effect -- if you're saying, in essence, there are other reasons, beside actually going to win this election, the practical effect is to help or hurt the other candidates. And as you know, every Democrat who's practically got a vocal chord today is out there saying, Ralph Nader you're making a mistake.

NADER: Well, first of all, they're wrong. I mean, I've seen the assertions that New Hampshire was lost, you know, because of my vote. I got more Republican votes than Democrat in New Hampshire in 2000. So if CNN does a poll for my supporters, and breaks them down in the next few weeks, how many come from Republicans, how many come from Independents, how many come from Democrats, very few are going to come from Democrats, because the out-of-power party members come back into the fold, as Senator Kerry said quite correctly two days ago.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying you think you will be drawing as many Republicans as you are Democrats in this campaign, given your positions on the issues?

NADER: Yes, because look at the overlap of concurrence here. The conservatives are furious with Bush over corporate subsidies and the energy and Medicare bill. OK? Now, I agree with that. They're furious with him over the Patriot Act and big brother and surveillance. I agree with that.

WOODRUFF: But why would they turn to Ralph Nader rather than some other conservative who's running?

NADER: Because there isn't any other conservative. They're either going to vote for an Independent or stay home. And, by the way...

WOODRUFF: But aren't they more likely to stay home, which is what a lot of analysts are saying?

NADER: They can be encouraged to stay home by an Independent candidacy. You see, I can probe that area, because there's so many overlaps. They don't like the idea of Congress increasing their pay regularly. They don't like the idea of softness on corporate crime, the Enron thing. They're very upset by that. They hate the deficits that are growing.

There's a real revolt brewing in conservative circles. And then there's the liberal Democrats -- excuse me, the liberal Republicans, who never liked Bush to begin with.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're familiar with what the Democrats are saying, because they -- but essentially, you're arguing that the White House should be worried about your candidacy. But they're not saying anything negative about it. They're saying it doesn't affect anything they're doing.

NADER: Well, that remains to be seen. But I think we have ways to take the Bush administration apart that the Democrats are either too cautious or indentured through their financial contributors.

For example, President Bush is raising $200 million. Now, he's raising it from all the corporate fat cats who've got business before the Bush administration: contracts, grants, deregulation, things they want, right? Why aren't the Democrats exposing that? Because they're dialing for the same dollars. I'm not dialing for those dollars.

WOODRUFF: You endorsed Dennis Kucinich back in January.

NADER: Yes. WOODRUFF: And you said you were supporting him. What happened? He's still in the race.

NADER: Well, I still urge Democrats in the primary to support him. I've worked with him for 30 years. I would love him to be the Democratic nominee.

WOODRUFF: But what? I mean, but you've announced you're running.

NADER: It doesn't seem like he's a front-runner yet. That's the problem. The real Democrats in the progressive tradition of the Democratic Party are getting nowhere in the midst of the corporate Democrats.

WOODRUFF: We've already heard from John Kerry, John Edwards. They both have said they wish you weren't running. We've heard from any number of other Democrats.

Howard Dean just put out a statement saying -- he said, if George Bush is re-elected, all of the health, the safety, the consumer, the environmental, the open government things that you've spent your life working for will all be undermined. And he said that the judges that the president is appointing will still be in office 50 years from now.

NADER: Agreed.

WOODRUFF: In other words, that's going to be on your shoulders.

NADER: Agreed. I think that a second front against Bush is going to be very, very effective.

By the way, Governor Dean did his best to rip into Kerry. Remember -- I mean, they ought to talk. The main thing is we need more competition, more voices and choices. We're asking for volunteers to get on the ballot in those difficult states.

And, by the way, Judy, you should see the bias in state laws against third parties, Independent candidates. We've got a whole listing of the 50 states' requirements on our Web site:

WOODRUFF: But you're saying you can get beyond that. Ralph Nader, finally, all these people are saying this is all about Ralph Nader's ego, about himself, and not about the party, and not about the cause.

NADER: This is a commitment to justice, Judy. I've been working for 40 years on behalf of the health, safety and economic well being of the American people. I don't like citizen groups being shut out by both parties in this city, corporate occupied territory, not having a chance to improve their country.

WOODRUFF: Doesn't hurt you to hear that?

NADER: Hurt me to hear what?

WOODRUFF: That people are saying this is all about your ego?

NADER: That's because they have no other argument. You see, that's name-calling, like Governor Bill Richardson, who is a chronic speedster in his car as governor. He violates speed laws. He's probably a little irritated that I pointed that out.

WOODRUFF: OK. All right. Ralph Nader fighting back. He's running -- you're running as an Independent. Thank you very much.

NADER: Yes, thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate you coming by. We'll be talking to you as the year goes by.

NADER: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Well, Ralph Nader's candidacy, of course, is generating criticism, as we've been pointing out, from some big-name Democrats. And it's drawing criticism on the World Wide Web.


NARRATOR: This time, in 2004, the stakes are far too high. This time we need Ralph Nader with us, not against us.


WOODRUFF: Coming up, I'll talk to the man behind a Web site that was dedicated at keeping Ralph Nader out of the race.


WOODRUFF: In this age of the Internet, a Web site opposed to Ralph Nader's candidacy surfaced even before the consumer advocate jumped into the 2004 race.


NARRATOR: Ralph Nader's candidacy tipped the balance to Bush. With just one percent of the votes cast for Ralph Nader, Gore wins Florida and the election. Netting a third of Nader's votes, Gore takes New Hampshire as well. The simple fact is, if Nader had not run, Gore would be President, not Bush.


WOODRUFF: The Web site is part of a citizen initiative led by John Pearce. His background is in media, marketing and public relations. And he joins me now from San Francisco.

John Pearce, now that you're -- since your Web site didn't work, he is running, what do you do next?

JOHN PEARCE, RALPHDONTRUN.NET: Well, it's really time for the progressive community to come together. And to us, the real takeaway from yesterday was a real unanimity among the progressive community that is time to unite around the goal of removing George Bush from office.

It was interesting to see yesterday that there was a deafening silence from any of the traditional sources of support for Ralph Nader. The editors of "The Nation" magazine, the president of this flagship organization, Public Citizen, now more than 210,000 people who have visited, the consensus among all progressives is that we have to unify around the goal of removing George Bush from office this fall.

WOODRUFF: Well, that may be, John Pearce, but we just interviewed Ralph Nader. I don't know if you were able to hear, but he basically says he's going to be taking as many votes away from the president, appealing to conservatives to either support him or stay home as he is going to be helping the president.

PEARCE: I think that's a remarkable assertion that is certainly contrary to all intuition of any political observers. There's no data to support that. In fact, the data that is available supports the opposite conclusion.

Nader himself cites exit polls indicating that 38 percent of his voters in the year 2000 would have voted for Gore. Twenty-five percent would have voted for Bush. The rest presumably would have stayed home.

Another indicator is the absolute lack of any criticism of Nader's decision to enter the race from anyone in the Republican Party. And so there are a number of reasons to be skeptical about that claim from Mr. Nader, I believe.

WOODRUFF: But, you know, he simply says, well, they've run out of things to say, and therefore they're going after me for having an ego. Go ahead.

PEARCE: I'm sorry. I thought that was the interesting assertion, as well. The name calling, one in particular.

Yesterday, on Russert's program, he referred to us as the liberal intelligence. That apparently is a very broad net to take in everyone who is opposed to his candidacy. And as far as our not having anything to say, we have a great deal to say. And it comes down to one issue.

There is only one rationale for a Nader candidacy, and that is that there's no significant difference between the two major parties. That is an issue that we absolutely disagree with Mr. Nader on. And it's profoundly important to all Americans.

The number of major differences between the parties is significant. And just to rattle off the top three, first of all, another Bush administration means a continuation of tax cuts and debt that will render any progressive initiative impossible, especially as we face the Social Security bubble of baby boomers. A Scalia-Thomas Supreme Court, which means the end of affirmative action, the end of a woman's right to choose. A war that is both dishonest and counterproductive.

These are the kinds of issues that unify not just progressives, but centrists, and really are alarming such a wide range of people, that any risk of peeling off a million votes for a Ralph Nader candidacy from a Democratic candidate is something people just aren't willing to even consider this time around.

WOODRUFF: Well, John Pearce, we hear you. But it sounds like Ralph Nader is not going to be deterred. He's going ahead. He doesn't sound to me like he's backing down one bit.

PEARCE: Ralph Nader is -- nothing is now determined and one of the qualities I think we've always admired in him.

WOODRUFF: All right. John Pearce, who put up on the World Wide Web ralphdontrun. But it didn't work.

John Pearce, good to see you.

PEARCE: We'll go on from here.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

PEARCE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: The nation's governs have come to Washington. Coming up, their meeting seems to have coincided with President Bush's decision to engage in political debate.

Later, John Kerry may have Georgia on his mind, but so does John Edwards. I'll talk with two of the Peach State's leading Democrats who are on opposite sides in this battle.



ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think it is important that we get the president's message out.

ANNOUNCER: Is President Bush stepping out of the White House and onto the campaign trail earlier than originally planned?

He's back.

NADER: This is a campaign that strives to displace the present corporate regime of the Bush administration.

ANNOUNCER: He says he wants to oust the president. But will Ralph Nader end up helping keep Mr. Bush in the White House?

He's one of the hottest stars in Hollywood. But can he help his dad capture a seat in Congress?

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. President Bush kept saying the time for campaigning would come, and that time, it seems, is now.

Mr. Bush has scheduled to fire back at his Democratic rivals in a speech to Republican governors tonight. Earlier today, he hinted at the fireworks to come, even as he urged governors of both parties to try to put politics aside.


BUSH: I fully understand it's going to be the year of the sharp elbow and the quick tongue. But my pledge to you is we'll continue to work with you. You got to do what you got to do, you know, in your home states in terms of politics.

But surely we can, you know, shuffle that aside sometimes and focus on our people, do what you were elected to do and what I was elected to do to make this country hopeful.


WOODRUFF: Let's bring in our White House correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, what exactly is the Bush camp planning tonight and in the days ahead?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, certainly as you well know we've begun to hear from the Bush campaign through various ways in the past couple of weeks. Through TV appearances and through some rapid response hitting Senator John Kerry in particular.

But the key missing ingredient in all of this back and forth has been the president himself, the candidate himself. And tonight will be a debut of sorts. Campaign aides are telling us that it will be the most political speech he has given to date this election year.

They say the president will go after his Democratic opponents as backward looking with failed ideas. Specifically honing in on the economy and national security. And trying to draw the line between what he says his ideas are, his record is, and what those of the Democrats are. But we're told not to look for Mr. Bush to name names.

Now we have seen the Web ads from the Bush campaign. But they are now poised, we are told, to dip into a very important arsenal in their weaponry. And that is the $100 million that the Bush campaign has at the ready and they're going to use it, we are told, next week for the first round of paid television ads.

Now aides were slated today to start calling around to national cable outlets, to key local media markets and even Spanish television stations to get air time for March 4. That's next Thursday, that's two days, of course, after Super Tuesday. And we're told that those ads are going to run regardless of whether or not there's a Democratic nominee. And, Judy, we're told that those ads are very much going to going to focus on the president, on his record. That they were shot a week before last here, at least starting then, here at the White House and the residents in and around the grounds.

Now all of this, Judy, is what campaign aides are calling a tactical shift and will be what they are calling a new level of engagement from the Bush campaign from here on out -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Interesting they're doing all this with the president telling the governors he hoped that they could avoid politics.

But, Dana, they had been saying that the president really wouldn't engage until later when it was clear who the Democratic nominee was going to be. Why have they moved up the timetable?

BASH: A couple of reasons. And you're right, they have said really for months that they weren't going to engage with the president or with paid ads until they know exactly who they're fighting against.

But first of all they understand the president's poll numbers are falling. And they say that they really have been on the defensive, been on the attack from the Democrats over the past few months, that they have had a barrage of negative attacks against the president.

But also, there's no doubt that they're hearing from Republicans in and around Washington and around the country what we're hearing which is that there has been some concern about the fact they thought the White House has been on the defensive, that they haven't fought back enough.

So clearly the signal that they're sending to reporters and to the president's opponents that there's a tactical shift is also about sending it to their supporters saying, We're on it. We're going to go get him.

WOODRUFF: OK, Dana Bash reporting from the White House. Dana, thank you.

Meantime in New York today, Democratic front runner John Kerry zeroed in on President Bush's plan to go on the political offensive here's what Kerry said during a campaign stop in Harlem.


KERRY: We have George Bush on the run because he's going to out there and start this campaign officially tonight, before we even have a nominee of the Democratic Party.

And he's going to lay out what he calls his vision. And I think it's extraordinary that four years into this administration we're finally going to get what this president calls his vision for the nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Kerry rival John Edwards also is taking a job at Mr. Bush. In a statement about the president's speech tonight Edwards said Americans want this election to be about the future, not the past.

Democrats are practically pleading with party members to rally behind their eventual nominee, whether it's Kerry or Edwards, and not behind Ralph Nader. But could Nader's newly launched independent campaign for the White House possibly have a silver lining for Democrats? Here now our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Democrats have good reason to be freaked out over Ralph Nader's running. Look at what Nader did to Al Gore in 2000. If Nader had not run, 30 percent of his supporters said they would not have voted. But the rest would have voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush by better than two to one.

It makes sense to vote for Nader only if you honestly believe it doesn't make much difference which party wins the election. Does Nader believe that?

NADER: It's a question between both parties flunking, Tim. One with a D-minus, the Republicans, one with a D-plus, the Democrats.

SCHNEIDER: Nader calls his campaign a national liberation movement for the Democratic Party to keep it from drifting to the center.

NADER: You just can't sit back like "The Nation" magazine and betray its own traditions, and the liberal intelligentsia and once again settle for the least worst.

SCHNEIDER: Nader's real beef is with the two-party system. Of course you have to vote for the lesser of two evils. That's how a two-party system works.

Nader could help the Democrats make the case against Bush.

NADER: I'd like to make a personal statement to Terry McAuliffe, John Kerry, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, and ex-Governor Dean: relax. Rejoice that you have another front carrying the ancient but unfulfilled pretensions and aspirations of the Democratic Party.

SCHNEIDER: The voters Nader brings out could help Democrats running for Congress.

NADER: I would help deserving congressional candidates in key swing districts because I wanted the Democrats to recover the House or the Senate or both.

SCHNEIDER: And it's likely that Nader's supporters will not vote for him this time for one simple reason: they know what happened last time. What about the Deaniacs? Some Howard Dean fans are so unhappy that their guy was spurned by the Democrats that they are toying with the idea of supporting Nader. Dean's message to them? Get over it.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will support the nominee of our party. I will do everything I can to beat George W. Bush. I urge you to do the same.


SCHNEIDER: Why is Nader running? He seems to believe the 2000 election gave him clout. He determined the outcome. So this time he seems to be arguing Democrats better be listening to what he says -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bill, thank you very much.

Ralph Nader says he wants to get on the presidential ballot in all 50 states but he acknowledges it is not an easy task. Here's more now on how the process works.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Back in 2000 Nader's name was on the ballot in 44 states. But then he was running as a candidate of the Green Party which had already qualified for a ballot slot in many states based on its showing in past elections. And the Greens had an established organization to collect signatures, to get Nader on the ballot in other states.

This time, Nader is going it alone. So the process is more formidable, and more complicated. Nader's Web site says it needs to collect 1.5 million registered voter signatures in just a few months. On top of that, election laws vary greatly from state to state. And can be confusing.

NADER: There's a tremendous bias in state laws against third parties and independent candidates, bred by the two major parties who passed these laws. They don't like competition. So it's like climbing a cliff with a slippery rope.

WOODRUFF: Nader's first deadline, May 13 in Texas. To get on the ballot in the president's home state, Nader needs to collect about 64,000 valid signatures from people who did not vote in either major party primary this year.

In some states, Nader needs to collect as few as 1,000 ballot signatures. In California, more than 150,000 signatures are required. In a few states, all he has to do is file a notice of intent to run -- and pay a fee.


WOODRUFF: And even if he can get through the tangle of state election laws, Nader is expected to face numerous court challenges by Democrats who also want to keep him off the ballot. President Bush makes an end-run around his Senate opponents. Up next, the bitter battle over judicial nominees and the president's decision to make another recess appointment to the federal bench.

Prominent Georgia Democrats take sides as John Kerry and John Edwards look towards Super Tuesday. I'll talk with former governor Roy Barnes and Congressman John Lewis.


WOODRUFF: Some strong language today from Education Secretary Rod Paige. In private marks to the nation's governors, Paige criticized the National Education Association, a union that the Bush administration has battled over education reforms. Administration officials confirmed to CNN that Paige called the NEA, quote, "a terrorist organization." A short time ago Paige issued a statement, he repeated past criticisms of NEA policies, but he called today's comments, quote, "an inappropriate choice of words." INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: President Bush's decision to install Alabama Attorney General William Pryor as a federal appeals court judge on Friday marked the second time recently that the president used a recess appointment. The decisions allowed Mr. Bush to overcome Senate filibusters. But the bitter standoff over a handful of other nominees continues. With me now for more on all this Viveca Novak of "TIME" magazine. Viveca, why was the president so determined to get Judge Pryor, Attorney General Pryor on the federal bench?

VIVECA NOVAK, "TIME" MAGAZINE: As you well know, this upcoming election is all about the base. People are not fighting so much over swing voters, because there aren't that many. And to rally the base he felt like he really needed to get some of the most conservative nominees that the Democrats have been holding up onto the bench.

WOODRUFF: And why is the opposition to this man so fierce?

NOVAK: Well, Pryor is one of those who has a record. He's strongly anti-abortion. He is strongly for injecting more religion into public life. He has made a lot of very, very controversial statements about homosexuals and others. He very strongly defended the chief justice of the Alabama supreme court when he had the ten commandments, the huge statue of the ten commandments in the courthouse down there. So he has a number of issues that the Democrats have had some problems with.

WOODRUFF: I've also heard from disability rights advocates. They say that he's tried to weaken and eliminate federal protections for people with disabilities and minorities. The opposition seems to be coming from everywhere.

NOVAK: Yes. He's one of the least popular of a string of very conservative appointments that the president has tried to make. WOODRUFF: Where does this leave everything? This appointment is good through the fall of 2005, next year. What about the other judges that the president was hoping to appoint...

NOVAK: Well, as you said before, there's a handful of others that the Democrats have been filibustering. He could continue to make these recess appointments through the year to keep his base fired up.

WOODRUFF: How many more recesses are coming up?

NOVAK: They're always going into recess for one thing or another. It's possible he could do more, and certainly it's not going to hurt him with his base. It's not going to hurt him in the Senate because things are already so polarized there. Even if the appointments expire in short order perhaps the Senate will be more Republican, they can overcome the Democrats' opposition next time or even if they go away, it served its purpose for him.

WOODRUFF: All right. Putting it in perspective, Viveca Novak of "TIME" magazine. Thank you.

It is not the biggest prize on Super Tuesday but John Kerry and John Edwards already have Georgia on their minds. Up next, a former Georgia governor, and a sitting Congressman tell me why they are backing rival candidates when INSIDE POLITICS RETURNS.


WOODRUFF: The state of Georgia has emerged as a major battleground in next week's Super Tuesday contest. John Edwards has made the state a priority. He has a campaign stop planned this hour in Albany, and an event in Columbus later this evening. John Kerry says he's not conceding any state to his top remaining rival. Kerry held a rally in Atlanta yesterday at a concert theater. He also attended Martin Luther King Jr.'s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

With me now to talk more about the battle for Georgia are former governor Roy Barnes who has endorsed John Edwards, and Congressman John Lewis, he's here with me in Washington. He's endorsed John Kerry. Congressman Lewis, to you first. Why should Georgia voters vote for John Kerry over John Edwards who was born in the neighboring state of South Carolina, of all people, should understand what southerners are interested in?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: John Kerry would be good for Georgia, good for our country, and good for the rural community. John Kerry has the experience, has the ability, the capacity to bring this country together.

I've been knowing him for a long time. He's a man with vision. And I tell you, Judy, I really believe that this man will be a great president, and he would be good for Georgia in the long run.

WOODRUFF: Roy Barnes, what do you say to that former governor of the state? What do you say to that? And as we talk to you I understand we've got some pictures of John Edwards campaigning right now in Albany, Georgia.

ROY BARNES (D), FRM. GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Well, I say that first he's a good and decent man. I always look at a candidate to decide first if they're good and decent folks. And he is. He also has a vision for this nation. He is an outsider. There's no question about that, serving one term in the United States Senate.

He understands that really the most important issues to this campaign are jobs. How to keep jobs here and how to make sure that no more jobs leave this nation. And how to create more jobs, health insurance for all children and really for all adults and our own security.

I've known him for a long time. And I know that he can articulate that vision.

WOODRUFF: Let me jump in on the jobs point and turn to John Lewis on that.

What about that? Senator Edwards has made jobs and restoring jobs a keystone of his campaign. He talks about growing up in a family of very modest means. His father worked in a mill. Why isn't that a more appealing package, John Lewis, than what John Kerry has to bring?

LEWIS: I was with John Kerry yesterday at that rally in Atlanta, in the heart of the city in Buckhead. And he spoke about jobs, spoke about creating jobs. In the state of Georgia we lost hundreds and thousands of jobs.

John Kerry has the ability and know how to put the people in Georgia and in America back to work. He's committed to doing that. He wants to see this country prosper and grow, including the state of Georgia.

WOODRUFF: But why is he more qualified to do that than John Edwards who says he grew up in a family of modest means and he knows what it's like not to have a job?

LEWIS: We all can grow up with modest means. But if you don't have the skills, the experience and the know-how -- John Kerry knows how to fight. He knows how to stand up. He knows how to win. This young man served in Vietnam. He's going to stand up and he's going take it to George Bush, and he's going to win this election.

WOODRUFF: Roy Barnes, what about the point John Lewis is making that John Kerry is the one with the experience? He's certainly had many more years in Washington, he knows how to get things done, is the argument.

BARNES: Well, I'm not sure having many more years in Washington is an advantage. You know, some of the most effective leaders have been outsiders that came in. Bill Clinton was an outsider. Never served in Congress at all. And he turned out to be a very prosperous, and to lead the country during a very prosperous time. I guess -- and of course I love John Lewis. I mean, he's one of my heroes. But I guess the differences in these candidates can be summed up by where John Kerry went, and where John Edwards went.

John Kerry went to Buckhead. As you well know being a Georgian, Buckhead is in the center of the most affluent area really in the state and one of the most affluent areas in the nation.

John Edwards...

LEWIS: But governor you must also admit that he went to Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the heart of Atlanta. Went to where there are poor people, homeless people, people that are down on their -- without anything much to live on.

WOODRUFF: Roy Barnes, what is your point, very quickly?

BARNES: The point is John Edwards is today in Albany and Columbus, both places that have had tremendous loss of jobs so that he can listen to the folks that have lost their job and really are the victims of some trade policies of this nation where we encourage our own companies to go offshore, not pay taxes, and to export jobs.

And I think that's indicative of the kind of new spirit and new attitude that John Edwards will bring to the White House.

WOODRUFF: Some sharp differences coming to light there between the supporters of John Edwards and John Kerry. Governor Barnes, Congressman Lewis, good to see you both. Thank you very much.

BARNES: Good to see you.

LEWIS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We will be watching that Georgia contest.

George Clooney take more than a passing interest in politics. Coming up, why the actor and executive producer of "K Street," the show that was, is now eying Kentucky.


WOODRUFF: Actor George Clooney reportedly intends to do some fund raising for a Democratic congressional candidate in Kentucky. Why the interest in the Bluegrass State? Well the candidate is Nick Clooney, his father, who is running for an open seat in the state's Fourth District.

"Roll Call" is quoting a spokesman for one of the GOP candidates as saying that the Clooneys have their George but the Republicans have one, as well, George W. Bush. And the spokesman says the president is more popular. We will see.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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