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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Bush Backs Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriages; Kerry and Edwards Campaigns

Aired February 24, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever. Our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush presses an election year hot button that's difficult for Democrats to ignore.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think it's a federal issue. I think it's a state issue.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. SR. WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, he certainly came out swinging last night. He took the gloves off and came right out and started punching.

ANNOUNCER: Is it unusually early for the president to go bare knuckle? We'll look at incumbent campaigns, past and present.

Welcome to the Bermuda Triangle. It's no mystery why today's Democratic presidential contests are lost against the political horizon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

President Bush's public endorsement of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage comes just one day after he dives deeper into the campaign to win re-election. Is the timing coincidence? Well, many Democrats say they don't think so. They are portraying Mr. Bush's move today as an election year ploy.

Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, has more on the Bush announcement and the political implications -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, if last night's partisan debut as a candidate made anxious rank and file Republicans happy, no doubt that today's announcement makes the Christian conservatives, religious conservatives in his base quite happy. Now, Mr. Bush announced this and said his main reason in saying he wants a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is because he's seen what's going on in Massachusetts and in San Francisco, and he said that there's been a lot of confusion in the legal decisions there and what is the legal process.

That is why he said he wants clarity. That is why he said he wants a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: After more than two sent tri of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization. Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, what the president wants in terms of this amendment is language that says that marriage is simply defined as something between a man and a woman. But the White House is saying that it would allow states to make their own choices and legal arrangement other than marriage, whether that's civil unions or other rights for same-sex couples.

Now, in doing that, the president is trying to walk that fine line between doing what he thinks is morally right and not trampling on state's rights, which would go against some classic Republican philosophy. Now, the president also pointed out that polls show that there are vast numbers of Americans beyond the conservative base who oppose gay marriage. But polls also show, Judy, that there is a divide on whether or not a constitutional amendment in order to address this issue is actually needed. And that is what we're hearing from Capitol Hill.

Some Republicans there saying that perhaps we should let the process move forward up through the courts before we address this. But the president said it's of utmost national importance to address this by addressing the Constitution -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Now Dana, as you know, it is not easy to get a constitutional amendment approved. The traditional route begins with Congress, where the bill there has to be passed by two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate. Then it has to be approved by legislatures in three-fourths of the states.

Another option that's never been used, a constitutional convention can be called by two-thirds of the state legislatures to draft an amendment. But then again it has to be approved by three- fourths of the states. So my question is, this is a long and complicated road. Why is the president pushing for this sort of thing right now?

BASH: Well, publicly, what they say this that is exactly why they are pushing for it. Because it such a long and complicated road, it takes so long that they want to get the ball rolling, if you will, at this early time. But Judy, of course, the reality is, in this election year, the president does need his conservative base not to stay home.

They need them to get out and vote. And they have made it abundantly clear that this issue of banning gay marriage and a constitutional amendment to do so is issue number one, almost a litmus test for them this coming election year. And Republicans privately when you talk to them do admit that this is a wedge issue, that Republicans by and large support this across the country.

While Democrats, if you ask them, are somewhat divided on it, and that puts the Democrat candidate in an uncomfortable position of trying to appease their base which it wants to call this civil liberties issue. And some of the more conservative in their party, but also Republicans in the Bush campaign see this as a classic "John Kerry is a liberal" issue for them. It fits right in their playbooks, because he is one of only 14 senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

WOODRUFF: OK. Dana, we'll be looking for those divisions among Democrats and Republicans on this issue. Thanks a lot.

Well, John Kerry, speaking of whom, is hitting right back on the gay marriage ban. He is accusing the president of tampering with the constitution because he is in political trouble.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is with Kerry in Youngstown, Ohio. She joins us now on the telephone with more on the senator's reaction and where he stands on this issue -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, privately John Kerry's advisors believe that the move by the president is another sign they say that the White House is very worried about the strength of the Democrats. As the aide found out about the president, as we were boarding a plane headed to Ohio, and while we were in the air , the Kerry campaign issued a statement, basically accusing the president of looking for a wedge issue to divide the American people and toying with the United States Constitution.

But then the senator went ahead and once again articulated his position, saying he opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions. Here's a little bit of what he said in this statement.

He said, "While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, for 200 years this has been a state issue. I oppose this election year effort to amend the Constitution in an area that each state can adequately address. And I will vote against such an amountment if it comes to the Senate floor."

This being said, though, it is a politically difficult issue for the senator because he voted against a constitutional amendment, or he said he objected to a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts back in 2002, because he said it also banned civil unions. And as you and Dana was just saying, he is one of a handful, 14 senators, who voted against that Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996 that would have banned states from recognizing marriages between gays and lesbians.

So it is a difficult issue for the senator. But again, Judy, privately, Kerry's advisors think the White House is in trouble and that's why the president did what he did today.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, one other thing. John Kerry campaigning today in Ohio, a state where the economy has fallen on hard times. They're still lagging behind a number of other states in creating jobs. How is that affecting Kerry's message there?

WALLACE: Well, the message the Kerry campaign wanted to be this day is the issue of jobs. The senator was just here talking to workers at a manufacturing plant and just toured a plant where a number of laid off workers were there. He has been saying more than 160,000 mefrering jobs have been lost since President Bush took office, and he's trying to make that a key issue to rally Democrats as the primaries continues. And, of course, a key issue if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

And, Judy, it is no surprise he is spending two days this week in Ohio, one day last week. Because Ohio's not only important when it comes to Super Tuesday states, it's clearly likely to be a battleground state in the upcoming general election -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kelly Wallace, traveling today with John Kerry there in Youngstown, Ohio.

John Edwards is joining rival Kerry and rejecting a constitutional ban on gay marriage and accusing the president of playing politics. Edwards has been campaigning in Atlanta this afternoon.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Politics 101: when you're running for president, it's always good to take every opportunity to look like one. And so it is that John Edwards took the opportunity to walk down the grand stairway of the Georgia State Capitol. Behind him, a number of Georgia lawmaker whose are supporting the Edwards campaign.

First things first. Edwards made it very clear he's a little put out that when the president took after Democrats last night he didn't single out John Edwards.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: Not so fast, George Bush. You don't get to decide who our nominee is. And you don't get to decide what this election is about.

CROWLEY: Politics 102: when you are a Democrat running in a southern state, it is always best to stay away from cultural issues, but some things are beyond a campaign's control. And so it is that on those very same steps, John Edwards was asked about gay marriage.

EDWARDS: I am against the president's constitutional amendment on gay marriage. I don't personally support gay marriage myself, but my position has always been that it's for the states to decide. CROWLEY: Asked why he is personally opposed to gay marriage, Edwards responded, he just thinks it isn't right. Although he walked away from a question about whether that seems to be having it both ways.

Georgia is one of the states where the Edwards campaign has the highest of hopes for Super Tuesday. It is southern and he is a southerner. They have spent two days here, and that is an awful lot of one of ten states that is holding contests. Still, even in Georgia, it's an uphill battle for this campaign.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, the primary season isn't over, but is the president acting like it is? You just heard Candy refer to it. Coming up...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: And that's just one senator from Massachusetts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: ... the newly launched Bush offensive against John Kerry. Does it mirror incumbent campaigns of the past?

Also ahead, battleground Ohio. We'll explore the political terrain in that big Super Tuesday state.

And upstaged by "American Idol?" We'll consider why this primary and caucus day is not exactly getting the star treatment.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Bush used a speech before the country's Republican governors last night to fully shift into campaign mode.

Bruce Morton looks at how his situation compares with other recent presidents who also sought a second term.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president has gone on the attack against the Democrats.

BUSH: The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions. For tax cuts and against them. For NAFTA and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts.

MORTON: Why attack this early? E.J. DIONNE, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The president and his people have looked at polls showing that he's running behind John Kerry by anything from three to 12 or 13 points. And so he -- they cannot let Kerry establish himself as an effective plausible alternative to the president.

MORTON: But when an incumbent president runs, the election is usually about his record. Jimmy Carter faced opposition from Edward Kennedy in 1980 and tried to discredit Ronald Reagan, a rash man who couldn't be trusted. But voters remembered Americans held hostage in Tehran, remembered gas lines and the sour economy, and elected Reagan.

Four years later, his re-election campaign was all sunshine. Remember the ads?

NARRATOR: It's morning again in America.

MORTON: As close to negative as Reagan had to get was a joke in a debate question about his age.

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.

MORTON: In 1996, Bill Clinton, as an incumbent, attacked in May of the election year, linking Bob Dole to the controversial House speaker, Newt Gingrich.

NARRATOR: Next year, if Newt Gingrich controls Congress and his partner, Bob Dole, enters the Oval Office, there will be nobody there to stop them.

MORTON: The country was at peace, the economy was good, and incumbent Clinton won on his record.

DIONNE: Ultimately, the election is about the incumbent's record. A president has to utterly discredit an opponent. That's going to be very hard to do. We'll see if the president can do it to John Kerry or, if the race changes, to John Edwards.

EDWARDS: Not in our America.

MORTON: The Democrats have been attacking Bush gleefully for months. Now he's started shooting back.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And it is one week and counting until Super Tuesday. That's what we're calling it. One of the 10 states holding contests on that day will be Ohio. And to help us gauge this Buckeye State's mood this year, I'm joined by Tom Diemer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Tom Diemer, first of all, on the general election, can President Bush absolutely count on winning Ohio this November?

TOM DIEMER, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: No, I don't think he can. His -- one of his allies here, Deborah Price, a congresswoman from Columbus, said just a week or so ages that she thought this state would be very tough and thought the whole issue here would be -- she said there would be three issues: jobs, jobs and jobs. That's a line you often hear.

I think they're expecting a very difficult fight. Remember, President Bush only won Ohio by 3.6 percentage points four years ago, even after Al Gore pulled out of the state and took his ads down three weeks before the election.

WOODRUFF: That's right. Well, I'm asking because, as we all know too well, what is it, no Republicans ever won the presidency without Ohio? Is that right?

DIEMER: That is correct.

WOODRUFF: All right. Tom Diemer, let's move on. And really in connection with that, to this battle that's still under way on the Democratic side between John Kerry and John Edwards. How do you read the contest there right now?

DIEMER: Well, I read it as Kerry being ahead, but Edwards has a chance. Edwards is getting big crowds. He had a huge crowd at Ohio State on Sunday, a very large crowd. Edwards will be coming back to the state on Saturday, I think.

Kerry is here today and tomorrow, going to Toledo tomorrow, and Cleveland and Youngstown today. And the sense you get of it -- and there hasn't been much polling lately -- but the sense you get of it is that Kerry is ahead, but that Edwards has a chance.

He's hitting his populous job theme very hard. He has a common touch, which appeals to Ohio. He's telling his story, the son of a millwork. And I think he may be picking up some support.

WOODRUFF: Well, we notice that that's seemed to -- it seemed to help John Edwards in the other states he's been running in, stressing jobs and his background. And your sense is that that may work for him in Ohio, too?

DIEMER: I think it will help him. I don't know that he can go all the way. You know, he did better than expected in Wisconsin. Maybe he'll do better than expected here, whatever the expectation is.

Senator Kerry is very aware of this. He's on a thing right now he calls his jobs tour. And he's talking a lot about jobs, too. And, of course, when ALF-CIO endorsed Senator Kerry last week, that gave him a little bit of a boost here. That is a heavily unionized state.

WOODRUFF: There was support for Dean in Ohio not so long ago -- for Howard Dean. Now he's out of the race. Is it clear where that support goes, or is it all over the place?

DIEMER: Well, I don't know that it's all over the false. It's interesting. Some of the Dean folks have gone to Edwards.

His former state coordinator, his former communication director have gone to Edwards and are trying to bring Edwards people with them. However -- I'm sorry, trying to bring some Dean people with them. However, the Dean organization is still in place, and I was talking with them today.

They're angry that their former leader has gone over to the Edwards camp. And they're vowing that they still have some activity going for Dean, and that they're going to vote for Dean, and they want to get him delegates so he can go to the convention with strength. There are 91 delegates at stake here, and they'd like to pick off a few.

So I would say, to the extent they're going anywhere, there's probably a tilt toward Edwards. But some of them may stay home with Dean.

WOODRUFF: And last but not least, organized labor, you've been referring to it. Is it going to make a difference, and to what extent?

DIEMER: I think it will help Kerry. I think organized labor makes more of a difference in November. They have a very sophisticated get-out-the-vote effort. How fast they can mobilize here and energize and do their canvassing and their Election Day activities on Kerry's behalf, I don't know.

If it's very, very close, they could make a difference. But I think the union help probably is more of a factor for the general election than the primary.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Tom Diemer, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, thanks very much, bringing us an update on the primary contest and also looking ahead to November.

DIEMER: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll be talking to you some more. We appreciate it.

Well, they don't have the electoral clout of Ohio, but the states holding Democratic contests today are determined to make their voices heard. Up next, three small states battle to make a depression in the primary season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Three states are holding Democratic Party contests today, but the events amount to the opposite of Super Tuesday. Maybe Mini Tuesday? If you didn't know there were two caucuses and primary going on, you're not alone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Some see it as the black hole of the primary season. Others have likened it to the Bermuda Triangle. You get the idea.

Today's contest in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii aren't exactly making a splash on the political scene. No Democratic candidate is running TV or radio ads in those states, or rushing to campaign there, except for a recent Hawaii cameo appearance by underdog Dennis Kucinich.

It's tough to compete for the spotlight with next Tuesday's big event, a 10-state, 1,151 delegate bonanza. Together, Idaho, Utah and Hawaii only have 61 delegates at stake. Democratic officials in Idaho and Utah suggests they're feeling snubbed. But their predominantly Republican states aren't all that inviting to Democrats. And while Hawaii is a Democratic bastion, there's the distance change.

As Hawaii's Democratic chairman told The New York Times, "Frankly, it's normal for us not to be visited by the candidates."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: But we know they don't take it personally.

But meanwhile, state party officials do say they expect a strong turnout in Idaho and Utah, but Hawaii could be a different story. Hawaii's Democratic party chairman says that he's afraid some potential caucus-goers may stay home to watch "American Idol." One of the two Hawaii natives competing on the popular talent show performs on tonight's episode.

So take that, John Kerry and John Edwards.

Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily" a new poll shows John Kerry with a strong lead over John Edwards in the California race for Democrat delegates. Kerry got 56 percent in the new Los Angeles Times" survey. Edwards, 24 percent. In a hypothetical match-up with President Bush, Kerry wins California by 13 points. Edwards wins by seven.

To Florida now, where the Broward County Elections Office has a new headache involving misplaced ballots. At least a handful of county residents were mailed the wrong absentee ballots. Broward's election supervisor vows to correct every mistake. She was appointed to her post by Governor Jeb Bush after several election mishaps in the county going back to the 2000 election.

We'll return to the day's top political story in just a minute. But coming up, the political ramifications of the president's call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Also ahead, the battle for the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. I'll talk with the leaders of both parties' efforts to control Capitol Hill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Here's a live take on Senator John Kerry campaigning in Youngstown, Ohio. Let's listen. KERRY: ... for all Americans. And fight the guarantee that we keep the promise to our children of education. That's what this race is about. That's what I'm in Ohio to talk about.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)?

KERRY: Because I believe, as a matter of belief, that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my belief.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)?

KERRY: If the amendment provides for partnership and civil union, which I believe is the appropriate way to extend rights, that would be a good amendment. I think that you need to have civil union. That's my position.

Everybody's known my position. There's nothing new about my position. It's been my position all the time that I've been in the Senate and throughout this race.

I'm for civil unions. And I think that that is permissible within the state law, and ought to be. That's what I'm in favor of -- yes.

QUESTION: What are your plans for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Israel and...

KERRY: What are my plans for what?

WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry talking to reporters. President Bush having put the subject of gay marriage on the agenda for the Democrats. Clearly Senator Kerry in Ohio, Senator Edwards in Georgia today wanting to talk about jobs, but of course reporters asking them about this initiative put on the table today by President Bush.

Democrats are railing against the idea of banning same-sex marriage, requiring the states not to recognize same-sex marriage. Still having said all this, there's still plenty of sparring over all of this on Capitol Hill.

For that, let's check in quickly with our congressional correspondent, Joe Johns -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the speaker of the House says there's a strong possibility of a vote this year, the majority leader of the Senate wants to bring it to the floor. There is no certainty over the outcome. What is clear is that the rhetoric over this issue accelerated here on Capitol Hill today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The Constitution has often been amended to expand and protect people's rights, never to take away or restrict their rights. By endorsing this shameful proposal, President Bush will go down in history as the first president to try to write bias back into the Constitution. SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We're not process right now of judges and, candidly, vigilantes, people taking justice in their own hands and deciding to change the law without either the courts or the legislature acting and simply disobeying the law in changing what marriage is in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Now, the reality is that two-thirds vote majority is required of the House, a two-thirds majority is also required in the Senate. There are a number of conservatives, Republicans, who all have questions about this amendment. There are questions about how the revise the language of the existing proposal that's already before the Congress. There are some people who suggest it's not a good idea to revise the Constitution of the United States on a cultural issue -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So we're going to have to be watching not only discontent some among the Democrats, we've got to be watching what happens among the Republicans on the president's proposal as well.

JOHNS: That's correct. Very much so.

WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns at the Capitol. Thank you very much.

The political debate over gay marriage was already gaining steam before President Bush put his stamp on it. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider looks at where the election year discussion goes from here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): President Bush has transformed the debate over gay marriage into a debate over amending the Constitution.

BUSH: Activists courts have left the people with one recourse.

SCHNEIDER: On the issue of same-sex marriage, the public is pretty one-sided, nearly two-thirds are against it. On the issue of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriages the public is more divided. Just over half favor such an amendment.

President Bush, John Kerry and John Edwards all take essentially the same position on gay marriage: they all oppose it.

KERRY: I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

SCHNEIDER: And all three believe states should be able to pass laws allowing for civil unions between same-sex partners.

EDWARDS: These are decisions that the states should have the power to make.

BUSH: The amendment should fully protect marriage while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangement other than marriage.

SCHNEIDER: The issue that divides them is whether a constitutional amendment is needed. Bush says yes, Kerry and Edwards say no.

QUESTION: So on a constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman, your vote would be?

KERRY: Well it -- not a federal one.

SCHNEIDER: The Democratic Party says it is wrong to put discrimination back into the Constitution. They say President Bush is creating a wedge issue to divide the country. If so, it's a risky one.

It's certainly appeals to his Republican base. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose gay marriage and support a constitutional ban. Most Democrats and independents oppose gay marriage but they don't support a constitutional amendment to ban it. That's going too far.

President Bush argues that a constitutional amendment is necessary because otherwise activist judges will redefine marriage in defiance of public opinion.

Supporters of same-sex marriage, like the mayor of San Francisco, see an analogy with the debate over racial issues in the '50s and '60.

MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: If I wait for the polls in this country to turn around we're never going to change the order of things in this country.

SCHNEIDER: If the country had waited for public opinions to change on issues like segregated schools and interracial marriage those debates might still be going on.

(on camera): It's odd that amending the constitution may become a central issue in the presidential campaign because the president has no role in the process. It's up to Congress and the state legislatures. The president doesn't have to sign anything.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Meantime, gay rights supporters are hoping to send a message to the Bush White House about same-sex marriage through the vice president's openly gay daughter. They have launched a Web site criticizing Mary Cheney's silence on the issue, showing her picture on a milk carton. And thousands have posted open letters online urging Mary Cheney to spoke out against a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

And now, let's shift our focus to California, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's first 100 days as governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm very proud of what we have accomplished in the first 100 days. And this is only the beginning. There is much more to come.

And I -- it is not because of my accomplishment, what I have done. It is because I have a very, very good team around me, very smart people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: That's how the governor himself summed up today's milestone. But would Californians agree with him? CNN's Frank Buckley looks at what Schwarzenegger has and has not accomplished so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHWARZENEGGER: We are here, ladies and gentlemen, and to clean house.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to do a lot during his first 100 day in office.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I will consolidate programs, streamline the bureaucracy and give more money directly to the classroom.

BUCKLEY: As a governor, he wasted no time doing what he could on his own. On day one he ordered a repeal of the tripling of the car license fee.

SCHWARZENEGGER: This is action, not just dialogue.

BUCKLEY: Since then, he's enlisted the legislature in repealing the law that gave illegal immigrants driver's licenses and cultivated bipartisan support for ballot initiatives that if enacted will refinance the state's massive debt and force balanced budgets in the future.

Staffers say the former action star's mantra is right out of Hollywood.

ROB STUTZMAN, COMM. DIR.: It's "action, action, action, stupid" is our watch word or phrase.

BUCKLEY: Has he delivered?

FABIAN NUNEZ (D), CALIF. ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: I think this governor really has done a very good job in his first 100 day in office.

BUCKLEY: One of his Republican supporters? Hardly. Fabian Nunez is the Democrat assembly speaker. He opposed Schwarzenegger and the recall. He's taken off the gloves since the election, to put them away.

NUNEZ: And what you don't hear from me and I think many others of my colleagues is that we're not beating up this governor. And the reason why we're not beating him up is he doesn't deserve to be beat up.

BUCKLEY: But it's early. And social issues like the gay marriages taking place in San Francisco could force the governor into distracting battles.

And while proposals and valid initiatives are action, they're not accomplishments. Still, the governor is eternally optimistic.

JIM BRULTE (R), CALIF. SENATE GOP LEADER: And sometimes a little bit delusional that everything is fantastic with him, as he's known to say. Everything is wonderful.

But there's no denying that he is a force for optimism and hope and this idea that California is governable.

BUCKLEY (on camera): Still, the governor is optimistic, and he has hundreds of days ahead in which to make his mark as governor of California.

Frank Buckley, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk more about Governor Schwarzenegger's first 100 days with the Democrat who has hoped to win the top office himself, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He joins us from Los Angeles. Mr. Lieutenant Governor, do you agree with the governor, everything is fantastic in California right now?

LT. GOV. CRUZ BUSTAMANTE (D), CALIFORNIA: No, not everything is fantastic. But governor has a big job ahead of him.

You know, in our first meeting I told the governor I'm willing to cooperate, collaborate. I'm just not willing to capitulate on the values that I hold important for the people of California.

He's had a chance now for 100 days. I don't think that's a very long time to be able to move forward. But he has a very aggressive agenda. The reports say he's completed three out of the ten things. But it's better to get them done suredly (sic), to get them done well rather than running through a bunch of -- a laundry list of campaign promises.

WOODRUFF: So how well has he done so far?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, he's able to -- he's been able to do a couple of things. And it isn't the same as it was last year. Clearly there is a new atmosphere. Activity is taking place in and around. But we still have a lot of things to deal with.

For example, this budget activity, these bond bills. Although they may pass, it's the wrong thing to do. It's the wrong way to go. In fact, if we get these things passed, most people are going to think that we've resolved our budget deficit. In fact, the reporter said the same thing on the pre-portion of the program. That's not the case. That will fill a hole for this year, and in four months from now we're going to be revisiting another $15 billion.

WOODRUFF: So in essence, your Democratic friend, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein is wrong? She's been doing some ads supporting the bond issue on the governor's behalf. She's wrong in saying this is necessary?

BUSTAMANTE: I agree that we should resolve the budget deficit. On that, both the senator, governor and I and most everybody agree on. It's how you do it. What we're trying to do right now is rather than fixing it permanently, what we're doing is that we're fixing a very small portion of it for this year only. We're not cutting and raising the kinds of revenues to resolve it forever.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Lieutenant Governor, let me talk quickly about presidential politics. You were supporting Joe Lieberman in the campaign. Of course, he's dropped out. What about between John Kerry and John Edwards?

BUSTAMANTE: Well, I think that either one of the two gentlemen are great candidates, first of all. Second of all, more importantly, I think that the voters are just sort of fed up with George Bush's excuses. We were facing the possibility of having a trillion dollar surplus and now we're facing a trillion dollar deficit. And so I think that the best person -- and I'm going to take the moment just to make my announcement, that I'm going to be supporting Senator John Kerry for president. I think it's very important. He's got a great record. He's clearly shown his ability to unite the Democratic party and I think the voters generally are going to say, what we need is a change in leadership. We don't need the same old excuses. And now they're trying to put into the lexicon something called a jobless recovery. What's that supposed to mean?

WOODRUFF: But what about John Edwards? He's out there talking jobs, he's talking recovery, he's talking what needs to be done. Why not John Edwards?

BUSTAMANTE: He's a good man and I think either one could beat George Bush and, frankly, I think that that's what the state of California needs. That's what the U.S. needs. We need a change in leadership. Either one of them would be great but my endorsement is going to John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: All right, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante announcing that he's supporting John Kerry. Thank you very much.

BUSTAMANTE: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. Appreciate it.

BUSTAMANTE: Thank you for having me on, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. We'll be going to your state of California tomorrow. We're traveling there for the next two days. Tomorrow I'll be speaking live with recall California Governor Gray Davis. And then on Thursday, current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be my guest.

It's been a decade since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives. Will 2004 bring any changes in the status quo? Coming up, we'll talk with the leaders of both parties efforts to recruit and support congressional candidates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It was just an hour ago that I spoke with the two members of Congress who are responsible for recruiting and electing new House members from their respective parties. Representative Tom Reynolds of New York heads the National Republican Congressional Committee. Representative Robert Matsui of California leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I started by asking Congressman Reynolds for his reaction to the president's decision to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. TOM REYNOLDS, CHAIRMAN, NATL. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: I haven't seen what the president came out with today, but there are certainly colleagues of mine, including Marilyn Musgrave (ph) from Colorado who has introduced legislation that would be a constitutional amendment on banning gay marriage. It's certainly been a discussion. I don't know if it would be presidential politics but I expect that we will see more discussions of debate over this year.

WOODRUFF: Do you think it's a good idea to amend the constitution?

REYNOLDS: Well, I think the constitutional amendments were not created by our founders to be easy. It will have to be passed here, it has to be ratified by states and we'll see how it plays.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Matsui, is this going to unite the president's conservative base and make it all the harder for Democrats in the fall?

REP. ROBERT MATSUI, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: The president may be doing this because he wants a united base. On the other hand, I think it's strictly a political move on the president's part. I think this is a state matter. Dick Cheney, the vice president, had said in 2001 that the state should make these determinations to actually tamper with the constitution for something like this, sacred document, my opinion, really doesn't make any sense. It's purely political. It's a shame the president now has to move to the constitution of the United States in order to try to win the 2004 election.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Reynolds...

REYNOLDS: Out of fairness, this thing has certainly been started by a proactive court, particularly in Massachusetts. And we've seen in Bob's home state, the mayor of San Francisco has been very aggressive on gay marriages. This is a -- even my own state of New York where there's very different degrees from civil unions to support of a constitutional amendment has also supported a gay marriage.

WOODRUFF: You also have the Republican chairman of the House judiciary committee, Congressman Reynolds, Congressman Jim Simpson- Brenner (ph), he is telling our -- my colleagues today he thinks the current law addresses the issues. His staff saying a constitutional amendment is awfully strong medicine. Are there going to be divisions among Republican in this?

REYNOLDS: Judy, I think there's not unanimity on the issue in any corner of the country, let alone in the politics. You've asked me to explain the president's action. I haven't even seen him today but I'm well aware that debate has started in Congress and it's not one that will end today or tomorrow. I think we'll see it throughout the year.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Matsui, very quickly, to this year's congressional races, clearly the Democrats did well in Kentucky picking up a seat there. But you lost that redistricting fight in Texas. And in order to take back the house you would have to win something like 30 out of 36 competitive seats. Isn't this really an uphill battle for Democrats?

MATSUI: First of all, I think we'll do quite well in Texas contrary to what some of the pundits are saying. We have five great candidates. Secondly, we actually don't have only 36 seats in play, we have about 45 seats in play. Tom, obviously, will disagree with me on that. Right now we have 27 first-year candidate in those 45 seats. And we expect by the time filing deadlines close that we'll have anywhere up to 35, perhaps even 40 excellent candidates. So it will be a great 2004 election. The real issue of course will be why are there not jobs, what's going to happen in Iraq, what's the international situation. I think the public will respond for change in the 2004 election.

WOODRUFF: I was really referring to the seats that are seriously considered competitive. There are about 36 of those, aren't they there?

MATSUI: Well, Mr. Reynolds and a number of others have said that they were going to clean our clocks in Kentucky. We won by 12 percent when it was all said and done because we had a great candidate, great resources. Obviously our candidate put together a great campaign.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Reynolds, let me put the shoe on the other foot. From a Republican perspective, the fact that the Democrats did pick up a seat in Kentucky, the fact that you've got a real contest underway for this seat in South Dakota, are Republicans concerned about these races coming up?

REYNOLDS: First of all, we're still at 228, which is what we started January with. Ralph Hall joining the Republican ranks gives us that seat. We lost Kentucky six. Chandler was a great candidate. He's a two-term attorney general with 100 percent name id, had 3-1 favorable/unfavorable rating as he campaigned for governor and turned that into a victory for Congress.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUF: Our apologies. We obviously lost the end of that interview there. We're very sorry and we want to thank Congressman Matsui and Congressman Reynolds. We're surprised by that.

All right. Ralph Nader, his presidential bid facing a very big hurdle soon. Coming up, why getting on the Lone Star's state ballot is a Texas-size challenge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Joining me now for the weekly look at what's going on behind the scene in politics is Chuck Todd. He's the editor in chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal."

All right, Chuck, first of all the Bush/Cheney campaign finding a loophole in campaign finance reform.

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": It's a loop hole they weren't necessarily aware of but people have discovered it in both sides. And that is this whole "I approve" message on TV ads.

Well when the Bush/Cheney reelect team -- everybody's been wondering sitting president of the United States is going to have to utter the phrase "I approved of this message" because of such and such.

Well, there is nothing that says that Cheney can't be the person that says that, that the running mate -- there's no part of the law. So there's speculation that maybe on the negative ads that Bush/Cheney pays for that you may have the vice president voice it over because you don't -- the thing that all media strategists will say when your running an incumbent's reelection is you don't want to have the incumbent president in particular look negative.

And maybe this is a way for them to run a negative ad without the president looking negative. But we'll see if someone tries it. Some lawyers say the loop hole's there. And they say what's new? A loop hole in campaign finance? Go figure.

WOODRUFF: And we'll see if it the FCC weighs in.

All right. Some other ads we want to talk about and that is run by Halliburton, the big multidimensional company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, now accused of all sorts of cost overruns.

TODD: It's got people in Washington buzzing because we see this Halliburton ad all of the time. So we did digging to see how much. Where is this ad running? Is it just running in Washington or where is it running?

Our research has shown that it's running in Washington and Houston where Halliburton's headquarters are. Nowhere else. It's run two other markets as sort of test marketing, San Diego and New Orleans. But it's no longer running there.

They've nearly put a million dollars combined in the Houston and D.C. markets. It appears totally just like what you would see on the political shows, advocacy advertising, trying to protect their government contracts.

It's being done though by a firm called Nore's (ph) Ads, Austin- based firm. Of course, Austin, red flags when you hear Austin, Texas in this town. And the only other political ads they've done are for a congressional candidate in Wyoming, of all places.

So lots of interesting intrigue behind this whole thing.

WOODRUFF: I know you're going to keep looking into that.

Last but not least, Ralph Nader. He made an announcement over the weekend. But you've been looking at how hard it really is for him to get on some these ballots.

TODD: Twenty-two states require at least 10,000 signatures or more. The first deadline is Texas. That's on May 24 to get on the ballot. Florida's got a gigantic signature deadline. Why he chose to run as an independent and not with the Green Party who's already on the ballot in 22 states is beyond us. Can't figure it out.

He may not be on the states of a handful of ballots so it makes folks wonder why everybody's making such a big deal about it because he may not be a factor because he won't be able to get on the ballot.

WOODRUFF: You're saying he really may not get those signatures.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: He's going to need 65,000 signatures of people that have never participated in a primary in Texas for instance. Just crazy hoops he's got to jump through.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chuck Todd with "The Hotline." "The Hotline," of course, an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal." You can go online to NationalJournal.com for a subscription. Thank you, Chuck.

INSIDE POLITICS back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Join me again tomorrow live from Los Angeles where I will talk with former California Governor Gray Davis.

Then on Thursday, current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be my guest.

Also Thursday we'll be live from the site of the CNN/"Los Angeles Times" Democratic presidential debate. You can see that debate Thursday night at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN. Have a good night. "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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