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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With John Edwards; Interview With Guy Phillipe

Aired February 29, 2004 - 12:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's noon in Washington and Port-au- Prince, Haiti, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7 p.m. in Jerusalem, 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for "LATE EDITION."
We'll check in with CNN reporters covering the day's big stories, including what's happening in Haiti, in just a moment. First, though, let's get a quick check of the hour's top headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: More now on today's breaking news, the turbulence in Haiti. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide now out. What and who will follow very much in doubt.

For the latest on the ground, let's go to our Lucia Newman. She's joining us live from Port-au-Prince.

What exactly is happening right now, Lucia?

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boniface Alexandre, the president of Haiti's Supreme Court, has stepped in as the new president, the interim president of this country, as stipulated by the constitution of Haiti.

At the same time, the prime minister Yvon Neptune made an appeal to both supporters and opponents of the now ex-president of Haiti, calling on them not to seek revenge. He said, dear citizens, I call on us, on all people here, to respect the norms governing a civilized society, the right to life.

This, of course, Wolf, in a country where everybody is carrying weapons right now. There are still Aristide supporters out on the streets building barricades, burning tires, very, very aggressive at this time, while others are celebrating of course the demise of the president.

Both the prime minister and the U.S. ambassador here, James Foley, called President Aristide's move a sacrifice. The U.S. ambassador said that he had reached the conclusion that he could not be part of a viable political settlement, and that that's why he stepped down.

At this moment, Wolf, we do not know exactly where Jean-Bertrand Aristide is. We know he left at about 6:15 this morning, flew to a Caribbean island, and from there, according to some reports, is flying to an African nation, possibly to South Africa, but that has not been absolutely confirmed, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lucia, is there a sense that the worst may be over with now Jean-Bertrand Aristide is out, or that the violence, the chaos may only be just beginning?

NEWMAN: Wolf, I think it is much too soon to say that the violence is over. It very much depends on who is going to restore order in this country where now there is absolutely none. There really has been no police force or army of any sort, or really a government in charge.

Now, technically, there is a new government, an interim government in charge. It's yet to be seen whether Aristide supporters will respect Aristide's plea that he wants the best for his country. He said he left here to avoid a bloodbath. That's what he wants.

And so the international community is saying that it will soon send in a multinational peacekeeping force, but the new government has to ask for it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lucia Newman, reporting live from Port-au-Prince. Lucia, we'll be checking back with you. Please be careful, together with all our colleagues on the ground. Thanks, Lucia, for that.

The events in Haiti, of course, serving up a huge challenge for President Bush. Following that part of the story, our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.

What exactly is the administration doing right now, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the senior administration officials who I've spoken with all morning said this is a very significant and a positive development, but there's still a lot of concern about what is happening on the ground inside Haiti, just how dangerous it is.

That is why officials are telling us that there are discussions going on now in Washington involving the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House, a contingency plan of perhaps sending in Marines, a stabilization force, as early as later today.

Now, they haven't made this determination yet, but those discussions are ongoing. It would involve several hundred Marines. We were told they'd have to be invited by the Haitian government. It wouldn't be an invasion force.

And, essentially, the operation would be the repatriation of Haitians, as well as trying to support some sort of international peacekeeping force, which would be later on down the road, perhaps in the days to come, sanctioned by the United Nations.

The other side of this, of course, is the diplomatic political effort. Administration officials telling us that the international community is working on a plan. It would be a power-sharing plan involving, really giving much of the power to the prime minister, diminishing the role of the presidency to really a symbolic role, and at the same time, opening up the government to these opposition groups, so this type of catastrophe would not happen again -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, it seems clear the Bush administration was actively engaged in trying to get Aristide to step down from power and leave Haiti. Walk us through a little bit of some of the behind-the- scenes developments over the past few days that set the stage for this morning's dramatic development.

MALVEAUX: Well, you're absolutely right, Wolf, because what we have been told is that it was really last night, is when Secretary Powell brokered this deal, and there was that breakthrough, but it had occurred over the last couple of days.

State Department officials telling us that, of course, quietly behind the scenes, they were putting a lot of pressure, as well as the international community, on Aristide to step down. And then it was yesterday, the White House essentially gave up its public support of Aristide when they released a statement, a very harshly worded statement, saying they did not believe -- they didn't have the confidence that he could carry out his administration, and that they believe that he should step down.

It was last night that Powell spoke with other leaders, Caribbean leaders, as well as his counterparts from France and Canada, and convinced Aristide that that was the right thing to do.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Democrats now running for president were facing off today in a just-concluded televised debate in New York City, their last major meeting before this week's Super Tuesday contest in 10 states, Haiti very much being a subject in this debate.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has been covering this story. She's joining us now live from New York.

Candy, fill our viewers in.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Wolf, the first question out of the box about Haiti. It won't be any surprise that nobody up there liked what President Bush was doing, but the fact of the matter is, that John Kerry believes that it's not so much what's going on right now, but what didn't go on before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president always makes decisions late after things have happened that could have been different had the president made a different decision earlier.

ELISABETH BUMILLER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Senator Kerry, what would you have done in this situation?

KERRY: Well, first of all, I never would have allowed it to get out of control the way it did. This administration empowered the insurgents. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Now, John Edwards would liked to have used this hour forum to make the differences between he and Senator Kerry, but on Haiti, the two stood together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At its best for the president and the administration, this has been neglect. In other words, they paid no attention they haven't been engaged. At its worst, they have actually facilitated the ouster of Aristide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Beyond that, this was a debate that ranged from, what did they personally believe in, to gay rights, to Haiti, and on down the line. A very contentious debate, not just candidate to candidate, but candidate to journalist.

Certainly one of the more private and a close-knit -- or close together -- they were all close and looking at one another and very much in each other's face, particularly Al Sharpton, who went after one of the journalists saying: I know you're trying to keep me out of this debate. You all can't decide who is going to win.

So contentious, but some interesting things on Haiti -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley reporting from New York.

Candy, thank you very much.

Let's get back to the Haiti story right now. One word we keep hearing, chaos. And one question: What role will the U.S. and other countries now play to try to stabilize Haiti?

Joining us, two leading members of the United States Congress, both from California: In San Francisco, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. She serves on the Intelligence Committee. Here in Washington Republican Congressman David Dreier. He's a member of the House Homeland Committee, as well as chairman of the Rules Committee.

Welcome to "LATE EDITION."

Senator Feinstein, let me begin with you. What do you believe the United States must do now in Haiti?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: See that peace is maintained, see that security is stable. I think move rapidly. I think there has to be an international peacekeeping force.

I happen to believe the United Nations that this is the perfect case for U.N. action. But I mean, it has to take place within hours. And if I were the head of this new government, I would ask for help right away before things get out -- really out of control. BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, it's clear the Bush administration pushed Aristide to leave. Was that wise? He was, after all, elected by the people of Haiti.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Wolf, he was elected but he's been a lightning rod. You can go back to the parliamentary elections in 2000 there, which were problematic. We know that there have been a pattern -- we've seen a pattern of problems there.

I agree with Dianne, that a stabilization force is the right thing to do, coupled with a U.N. -- an international group that will deal with this.

It's obviously a very, very troubling situation as we listen to Lucia's report there. You know, there is real uncertainty and Ambassador Foley clearly has reported that, as well.

BLITZER: You want U.S. Marines, U.S. troops directly involved in that volatile situation?

DREIER: Well, at this point I think the White House is making that decision. And Dianne is correct, it should be made within hours. But I believe that this matter is serious enough now, if you look at 8 million people in Haiti, it's one that does need to be addressed. And I do think that the departure of Aristide does, in fact, as you said in your questioning of Lucia, raise this prospect that we can, in fact, see many of the problems behind us.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, you want American troops in Haiti?

FEINSTEIN: If need be, yes. I think so, because I think you're going to have anarchy that's going to result in the death of thousands of people. I think you'll have a flood of immigrants with nowhere to go. It could be a potentially catastrophic situation, and we know this situation. You know, it's kind of been there, done that, but you've got to get there early before insurrection grows.

DREIER: I think that decision is going to be made within a matter of hours.

BLITZER: That U.S. troops will participate?

DREIER: Well, I mean, it certainly is appearing that way and obviously, with an international group as well with the United Nations.

BLITZER: That's what the U.S. ambassador in Haiti is calling for.

Congressman Dreier, I spoke Friday with President Aristide, now I guess former President Aristide. It was clear he wanted to stay.

Listen to what he said to me on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE, FORMER PRESIDENT OF HAITI: I have the responsibility, as an elected president, to stay where I am protecting the people the way I am, the way I can asking the U.S., the international community to stand against terrorists; and it's possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was followed yesterday by a statement from the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan. He said this. He said, "This long simmering crisis is largely of Mr. Aristide's making. His own actions have called into question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully, to accept responsibility and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti." He has now since left.

We heard from Charlie Rangel, congressman from New York, this morning, other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, that the Bush administration participated in what they're calling this coup d'etat in Haiti.

DREIER: That's absolutely ridiculous. If you look at where we're going, everyone acknowledged that there were problems surrounding President Aristide.

DREIER: And I believe that a correct course has been taken. President Aristide said one thing in his interview with you on Friday, but obviously the circumstance got to the point -- the circumstances got to the point where it was very, very clear that with the tyranny that was existing in the streets, and is existing at this moment in the streets, that his departure was the right thing to do.

And I believe now we do have an opportunity to move ahead with the kind of international community support which is going to be necessary to bring about the kind of stabilization that we need.

BLITZER: We heard from in this debate that just occurred, Senator Feinstein, from both Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry, strong criticism of the Bush administration for the way it's handled or mishandled the situation in Haiti. Do you share that criticism?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I share it because Aristide had become a lightning rod. This has been clear for some time now. And the situation has just gotten worse, and worse, and worse. I do think the administration did the right thing in terms of encouraging Aristide to go.

Fortunately, the Haitian constitution does have a line of succession that's clear. I, frankly, hope that the rebels will subside, but I would be doubtful that that would happen. Therefore, I think the presence, a strong presence is really what is required right now.

BLITZER: Senator...

FEINSTEIN: And to dilly-dally could be a tragic mistake. DREIER: That's not going to happen.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, Senator Feinstein, the president earlier in the week also urged Haitians not to get on boats and try to reach U.S. shores, saying the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy would simply send them back. Do you support that policy?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think this is extraordinarily difficult. One of the problems is that very large numbers have come in the past, and it presented a number of difficulties. I think the best thing is to quickly move to secure the situation so people don't have to flee their homes.

You've got a highly armed society over there. It's a very volatile society. It is clearly fermented by a rebel culture that has built up over the past several years, and as I said, Aristide has become a lightning rod. He's been unable to handle it.

DREIER: Wolf, let me just say that, obviously, it's interesting to have John Kerry criticize the president on what he called disengagement. We know this administration has been extremely engaged, and just by your question and, frankly, the departure of Aristide, it's clear the United States did encourage that.

John Kerry is the one who in the mid-1990s voted for a $1.1 billion cut in human intelligence. And that's why I think that it's very, very wrong. And we saw his speech on this terrorism issue that he made on Friday. I mean, in this speech, when he started criticizing the president on the war on terrorism, when we've gone, since September 11th, without an attack on the United States of America. We are winning on the war on terrorism. We've got a long way to go, but we are winning it.

BLITZER: We're going to pick up all that. I want both of you to stand by, because we're only getting started here on "LATE EDITION." Much more to talk about. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, also, your phone calls for Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman David Dreier.

And later, a special conversation with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards about his strategy for trying to win on Super Tuesday.

Also, the president of Haiti steps down. Will the U.S. step in? We'll talk with Florida Senator Bob Graham.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Still to come, our special interview with the Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards.

And our Web question of the week is this: Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to effectively ban same-sex marriages? Go to cnn.com/lateedition to cast your vote. We'll tell you the results later in "LATE EDITION."

"LATE EDITION" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Republican Congressman David Dreier.

Senator Feinstein, you're a member of the Intelligence Committee. We keep getting hints, nuggets that maybe the U.S., together with Pakistani forces, Afghan troops, are getting closer to finding Osama bin Laden. Is that your sense?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I've read the newspapers. I can certainly speak to that point of view.

It's clear that there is an effort going on to intensify the search for him. I think we need to keep this up. I think it is really important that this man be brought to justice. He is the titular head and more than that, really, responsible for the basic structure of what happened on 9/11, and for the cell distribution that exists in many countries across the world.

So, the ability to expedite the search by using special operations people, I think is the right thing to do, and I think every American strongly supports this, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican.

BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, at the same time, you point out correctly there have been no successful terror strike on U.S. soil since 9/11.

But listen to what the CIA director, George Tenet, pointedly told the Congress this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE: Even catastrophic attacks on the scale of 9/11 remain within al Qaeda's reach. Make no mistake. These plots are hatched abroad, but they target U.S. soil and those of our allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You're on the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives. How worried are you that al Qaeda could strike with a catastrophic attack almost at any moment?

DREIER: Well, of course that exists constantly. I mean, that's why, again, I get back to the speech that John Kerry gave on Friday, in which he said that he would basically win the war on terrorism, and that we're not.

We so far have had success, but capturing Osama bin Laden would be helpful, although President Bush has said this is not about one man. We know there is an entire network, including in Iraq, that al Qaeda has, and so I believe that we are living daily with that threat. That's why we have a Department of Homeland Security. That's why we've redoubled the efforts that we have.

But we have to this point been successful, and we have -- and this president's leadership has in fact kept this terrorist threat off our soil, and over in other parts of the world.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, let me read to you from an excerpt, an editorial in the Los Angeles Times this past Thursday.

"Though John F. Kennedy took full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs in 1961, he also sacked CIA Director Allen Dulles and his deputy for failing to provide adequate intelligence. The moment has come for similar action with CIA Director George J. Tenet."

Do you believe he should be sacked?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you what I do believe. I believe that we had a massive intelligence failure. At least that's clear so far. We have found no chemical, no biological weapons, no deployment of weapons, no large stores, no sense of immediacy of their use, and I think that's been made pretty clear.

Now, that might change. What surprises me is that, in view of this lack of finding so far, that the agency isn't taking a much more active stance, a much more proactive stance in reorganizing.

It has become clear to me, in my service on the committee, that we have a very flawed intelligence structure. You have the secretary of defense that controls about 60 percent of the dollars, seven of the 14 intelligence agencies. You have no structural head over the entire intelligence community.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, let me get back to the question. Should Tenet go?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't know that it's the right thing to do right now, but I would say this: Unless I see some extraordinary activity very soon, my answer would have to be yes.

BLITZER: All right. And do you agree, Tenet should have to...

DREIER: No, let me just say, that's obviously a decision of the president of the United States. The president of the United States has said, as recently as just a few days ago, that he is supportive of George Tenet, believing that he's doing a good job. And I work closely with Porter Goss, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

But I will tell you...

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Listen, Congressman Dreier, to what Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States, said this week about the Bush administration, the president's decision to go to war against Iraq. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spent about three months of my life working every way I could against initiating a war in Iraq, which I think it's probably one of the worst mistakes internationally that our country has ever made.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: "One of the worst mistakes internationally that our country has ever made." Jimmy Carter, saying about the administration's decision, which at least looks like now was based on some flawed intelligence.

DREIER: Well, I will tell you, Dianne correctly said this might change. We obviously have a commission that this president has put into place, Wolf, that is going to be looking at that issue. But, clearly, to, in any way, say that the world is not -- or imply, as President Carter does there -- the world is not a better, safer place with Saddam Hussein gone is what what one could infer from the statement that he made. And I think that's just plain wrong.

BLITZER: Let me dramatically shift gears and ask a question that's important to everyone in California, and everyone around the United States, but especially in California, Senator Feinstein.

Based on what's happening in San Francisco right now with these gay marriages continuing, is it time to stop -- for the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, to stop these marriages?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think this: The matter is now in the hands of the court. That's where I thought it should be from the beginning. I don't see a mayor as an arbiter of what's constitutional and what isn't. A mayor takes a pledge to carry out the law and should, and none of us like every single law.

Our job is if we don't like it to change it, but the people had voted just a couple of years ago on a proposition called Proposition 22, which very clearly put before the electorate of California that marriage is between a man and a woman. Therefore, if he believes it's unconstitutional, the place to take it is to the Supreme Court.

And, I mean, I regret that he took the action, because I think it sets in a kind of chain of events which is unfortunate, but now, I would be very hopeful. And I believe that the Supreme Court of the state will hear the case. I hope sooner rather than later.

BLITZER: Congressman Dreier, you disagree with the president in a rare disagreement you have with the white house. You don't think he should push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

DREIER: I think marriage should be between a man and woman. I supported the Defense of Marriage Act, but actually, before I get into that, let me just say since Dianne mentioned Proposition 22, propositions 57 and 58, which are on the ballot this coming Tuesday, are very important to getting our state going again. I appreciate Dianne's support of that effort there. But I just believe that amending the U.S. Constitution should be a last rather than a first resort. I think that what, as Dianne's correctly says, what has been done in California and Massachusetts we believe to be -- in New York now, we believe to be wrong. But I believe that what we should do, and I've constantly opposed amendments on flag burning and other things, I'm a classical conservative when it comes to the U.S. Constitution.

I just want us to make sure that we exhaust every possible -- look at every other way to deal with this before we go to amending the constitution.

BLITZER: On California, Senator Feinstein, looks like it's going to vote for John Kerry. At least all the polls going into Super Tuesday show that. You're smiling. I assume you want John Kerry to be the Democratic nominee.

FEINSTEIN: Oh, yes, I do. And what's been amazing, I was with him in the Bay Area Friday night, and what's been amazing is the sense of people coming together all over the state. I think there is a clear groundswell. I think Super Tuesday is a bellwether.

I think John Edwards has waged a highly principled and fine campaign, but I think Super Tuesday will make it clear. And I would be hopeful that the Democratic primary could end at that point, and we would be able to get on the road to fashioning a general election campaign.

BLITZER: I'll give Congressman Dreier the last word. California, it looks like the Democrats have an upper hand going in on a possible race between President Bush and John Kerry. How formidable of an opponent would John Kerry be to the president?

DREIER: Well, obviously, he's a formidable opponent, and I will acknowledge the fact the California is a difficult state for us to win. But if you look at the success that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is having right now in his support of President Bush, I have little doubt whatsoever that California has the potential to be in play a we head towards this election.

And I think that these issues of national security, economic growth -- you know, we're getting very positive news in the president's favor because of the policies that he's been pursuing, and I think those will inure to the benefit of Californians.

BLITZER: All right.

DREIER: And I think that we are going win the state.

BLITZER: It'll be a good debate. And David Dreier I'm sure will be a good surrogate for President Bush. And Dianne Feinstein will be a good surrogate for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Coming up next, we'll have a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, Edwards versus Kerry. We'll talk about John Edwards -- and we'll talk with John Edwards, that is, about his Super Tuesday showdown with the Democratic presidential front-runner.

You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: I think an Edwards-Kerry ticket would be powerful.

(LAUGHTER)

KERRY: I want to thank him for the consideration. I appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: One of the lighter moments in Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

If he is to overtake or at least stay competitive with the Democratic front-runner, Senator John Edwards is going to have to win at least some of the Super Tuesday contests. There are 10 in total.

Joining us now from New York is Senator Edwards.

Senator, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

EDWARDS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll talk politics in just a few moments, but let's talk Haiti right now, a crisis unfolding only 90 minutes by air from the United States.

I know you've been critical of the president for supposedly neglecting Haiti, but what would you do right now if you were president?

EDWARDS: Oh, I think the right thing to do is to bring in an international security force and we should participate in it. We don't have to be the largest part of it, but we should participate in it because America's got to lead in this part of the world, this hemisphere.

And this is something that shouldn't have gotten to this situation. But we should stabilize the government and then lead to -- set up a process for a democratic election.

BLITZER: So would you support sending in U.S. troops, U.S. Marines, as part of some sort of international peacekeeping force perhaps under the U.N. umbrella? EDWARDS: Yes, I would. I think that we have to play a role in this. I don't think we have to be the biggest part of this force because there are a whole number of countries who have offered to help. And we should enlist their help. And it should be, as you just said it, Wolf under the auspices of the United Nations.

But I just want to go back to this because I know you went past it quickly. This is a crisis situation that the president allowed to develop. And I think it's part a pattern that we've seen with this president. You know, he neglected Haiti. He neglected, actually, most of the countries in this hemisphere.

We had the same problem in North Korea. We're now in a crisis situation in North Korea. America has got to lead and stay edge gauged and not sit back and allow crises to develop and have to respond to the crises.

BLITZER: Would those U.S. troops, as part of a peacekeeping and international peacekeeping force, be under the command of a non- American military leader? Would you support U.S. troops obeying commands from a United Nations-led force?

EDWARDS: Oh, no, we always are going to keep our troops under our own command. You know that, Wolf. And I've said that consistently. But we can be part of this U.N. force, which I think is important in terms of having legitimacy in what we're doing in Haiti.

BLITZER: But how do you do that? How do you have U.S. troops part of an international U.N. force with -- would you make sure -- I guess the only way you could do that is make sure the overall commander would be an American.

EDWARDS: Oh, we'll have -- of course, if America is participating in this and it's a U.N. operation, we're going to be involved in the leadership. There's no way it'll happen any other way. We know that's going to occur.

That's why actually it's not just in Haiti, it's in other places the world where the U.N. has been involved.

And I might add, because you didn't ask me about this, but I think there's a significant chance if troops go they'll actually come from Camp LeJeune in my home state of North Carolina.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the criticisms that that have been leveled at you. The New York Times, in an editorial endorsing John Kerry this past week, wrote this, among other things. It said, "Senator John Edwards, Mr. Kerry's only serious competitor, has been terrific on the campaign trail. But Mr. Edwards has spent only a few years in public life. When he departs from his stump speech and discusses domestic issues, or particularly foreign affairs, his lack of experience shows."

This was a subject that came up in that televised debate in the previous hour in New York City as well. How do you reassure nervous voters that you have that kind of gravitas, that kind of foreign affairs experience that Senator Kerry, who has being in Congress now for what 20, 30 years, that he has?

EDWARDS: Well, any voter who watched the debate that we just had, will have absolutely no question about that. We talked about a whole range of issues from Haiti to North Korea to what's happening in Iraq to the fence in Israel, all of which ,I believe I was very, very strong on what America's role is and what our participation and leadership needs to be.

The bottom line, Wolf, the most important characteristics of any leader are to basically are to understand the situation, to have a vision about what America's leadership role should be and to have the strength and the conviction to lead. And anybody who watched the debate that we just had would see that in me.

BLITZER: Let's talk about a very sensitive issue, gay marriage, that's come up as a result of all these marriages unfolding in San Francisco right now. The president this past week calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, effectively speaking.

As you well know, May 17th, that's when gay marriages will go into effect in Massachusetts, the supreme court there -- the Massachusetts Supreme Court -- authorizing gay marriage.

Should those marriages be accepted outside of Massachusetts once they begin there?

EDWARDS: The answer is the federal government, if Massachusetts starts that process in May, then the federal government should honor what Massachusetts decides. We should not have a constitutional amendment on this subject.

I think this is a purely politically motivated effort by this president. The very idea -- first of all, if we start with basics, no state under today's law is required to recognize another state's marriage. So that's the law as it exists today.

And now the president is proposing that we have a constitutional amendment to solve a problem that doesn't exist. I mean, we amended the constitution, Wolf, to give women the right to vote and to end slavery. This is a politically motivated effort by the president, and we need to stand up to it.

BLITZER: Why should gay Americans, citizens of the United States, not be allowed to get married as all Americans can do?

EDWARDS: Because I believe this is an issue that should be resolved at the state level. You just mentioned Massachusetts. Let's take Georgia where I was campaigning yesterday. If the state of Georgia or the state of Massachusetts decides that they're going to recognize this that's something traditionally been decided by the states, if they're going to recognize a gay or lesbian marriage, then the federal government should honor that. But the federal government plays an important role in this process, because the federal government does play a role in what substantive rights attend marriage. And I believe the federal government should recognize what individual states decide.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about where you stand going into Super Tuesday right now. There have been, what, 20 contests so far. You won your home state of South Carolina where you were born.

Look at the delegate count we have right now. Kerry has 754 lined up. You have 220. Dean, 175. Sharpton and Kucinich, way behind. You need 2,162 to get the nomination. Will you continue this contest beyond Tuesday, even if you don't win any of them, any of the ten contests on Tuesday?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I think I have a great chance of winning some of these primaries on Tuesday. But the answer is, yes, because if you go past Tuesday, the following week we have Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, all places where I'm very strong.

And then the following week, and I think Kansas comes -- fits in this two-week schedule too -- the following week we have Illinois. And so this is a great opportunity for me, Wolf, and the most important thing in those statistics, those numbers you just gave, is nobody is anywhere close to the number of delegates it's going to take to get this nomination.

And it's now a two-person fight. And people who saw the debate that just took place got a chance to see what the real differences are in the way John Edwards would lead and the way John Kerry would lead. I specifically asked Senator Kerry, because I was given the opportunity, "Do you believe we're going to change this country in a serious way originating in Washington, D.C.?" And his answer was, "Yes."

Well, I just -- I think that's not true. If we're going to change this country, that change has to originate out here in the real world.

BLITZER: Is it my impression -- we're almost out of time, Senator Edwards -- that it's getting a little nastier between you and Senator Kerry in the home stretch right now?

EDWARDS: Oh, no, absolutely not. John Kerry and I are friends. I have enormous respect for him, but there are real differences, and we present real choices. And those folks who got to see the debate just now, and I think it'll be shown later tonight, can see what those choices are.

BLITZER: And can you categorically, as you have in the past, once again say under no circumstances will you run as his running mate, vice presidential running mate?

EDWARDS: I'm only interested in being president of the United States, as I've said many times before. BLITZER: Well, that doesn't sound like a categorical absolutely not. Am I missing something, Senator?

EDWARDS: Now, Wolf, there's nothing different. Same thing I've said all along. Nothing different.

BLITZER: All right. Well, we'll leave it at that. Senator Edwards, good luck to you. Good luck to Senator Kerry. Good luck to all the candidates. Thanks very much for joining us.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead, President Bush shifts into campaign mode himself. We'll get some insight into his blueprint for victory from a key ally, Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney.

And later, culture clash: the debate over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

"LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get some Republican perspective on what's happening right now.

Joining us from Boston, someone who knows President Bush quite well, as well as the presumed -- or at least the front-running Democratic challenger, John Kerry, Republican Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is joining us on "LATE EDITION."

Governor, thanks very much for joining us.

We'll get to politics in a moment, but explain to our viewers what will happen on May 17th in Massachusetts, once the supreme court in your state says gay marriages can go forward.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, that depends in part on what happens on March 11th. March 11th is when our legislature reconvenes to consider a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. I believe they will pass such an amendment, and then some 2 1/2 years later the citizens will get to respond to that same question, to decide whether to accept that amendment or not.

The Supreme Court has given us a ruling that says on May 17th we need to start issuing marriage licenses. So we could have the anomalous situation where we're issuing marriage licenses which are valid for a couple of years, and after that the people would say, no more marriage.

BLITZER: Let me clarify. Even if the legislature should pass such an amendment, it wouldn't go into effect for 2 1/2 years. In the interim, people would be allowed to go forward with gay marriages in Massachusetts? ROMNEY: You know, I think that's the opinion of most people who've looked at it, that the Supreme Court here will insist that even in an interim period we'd have to go ahead with marriages. There will of course be activity, and potentially action taken by the legislature to consider whether, during this interim period, the court's decision should be put aside, and make sure that the people have a chance to speak before we start issuing marriage licenses.

But we'll have to follow the law, and the Supreme Court will have the final word.

BLITZER: You heard Republican Congressman David Dreier say he doesn't think a constitutional amendment, that drastic step, is necessary right now, as the president is calling for. What do you think?

ROMNEY: Well, he's talking about of course a federal constitutional action. We clearly see that the courts are willing to intrude in matters that have been defined in civilization and by our constitution for centuries. And I think the need for a constitutional amendment at the federal level is to assure that, if there's some rogue court somewhere, or perhaps a rogue mayor somewhere in the United States, as we're seeing in upstate New York and also in California, that these kinds of marriages don't have to be accepted in all the state of the Union. That's an important feature.

I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, but I respect other people's views. But fundamentally I believe we should have the rule of law in our country.

BLITZER: If it is a Bush-Kerry race -- and it certainly looks like it will be -- you know both of these men. You're from Massachusetts. You're in a unique vantage point.

Set the stage for us. How tough will it be?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think it's going to be a real tough campaign. I think you're going to see a real stark contrast between two people, less on the basis of their positions, more on the basis of their character and their sense of leadership.

I think, in the case of President Bush, you see a person who's decisive, who has very clear values and is willing to take positions on tough issues.

In the case of Senator Kerry, who's a person a lot of us here know well and like and respect, we recognize that he's a person that has a hard time coming down with a clear decision. On most of the key issues that this campaign has faced, he's been on both sides.

And on the issue, for instance, of gay marriage, which is not the most important issue of this campaign, of course, he's on both sides again. He's said he supports the Massachusetts constitutional amendment, which would limit marriage to a man and a woman, but he's against a federal constitution amendment to do the same thing. So, the fact that he's not willing to be decisive and to be seen as taking a position on key issues is something, I think, that'll harm him down the home stretch.

BLITZER: Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, we'll be hearing a lot more from you down the road. Thanks very much for spending a few moments with us.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're just getting this in from the State Department, a statement suggesting that the United States will send Marines immediately to Haiti as part of a multinational interim force. Other countries will be participating, as well.

We'll get some more details, bring that to you right at the top of the hour, when we'll also check the hour's top stories.

Much more "LATE EDITION" coming up.

The turmoil in Haiti, including a change of power, we'll ask Florida Senator Bob Graham what it all means, and where the U.S. and its allies go from here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We'll get live reports on the day's top stories in just a few minutes. First, though, a quick check of the hour's headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Dangerous uncertainty on the march in Haiti as President Aristide flees. CNN's Lucia Newman is joining us now live from Port-au-Prince, where she's been monitoring these dramatic developments -- Lucia.

NEWMAN: Hello, Wolf. The new interim president of Haiti, the Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre, is appealing to both supporters and foes of the now ex-president to please not go into acts of revenge and violence. He said we must respect the norms of a civilized society.

He's obviously fearing the worst, at least in the short term. In fact, armed gangs of supporters of the former president are still roaming the streets, putting up barricades, shooting at people; still a chaotic situation out on the street at this moment, Wolf. Although there are other people celebrating the news.

Now the president, President Aristide, said that he was leaving this country to avoid a bloodbath. We know that he left very early this morning. We do not know where he is, though, at this time, or which country has agreed to give him exile, to grant him exile.

Now, the political opposition meanwhile is huddled at this moment to discuss the situation. We did speak to opposition leader Andre Apaid a short while ago. He did say Aristide's resignation a move in the right direction, but said there was still a lot of very important issues that had to be resolved. He did not specify.

But, Wolf, there are a lot of people in the opposition, you know, who do not agree that an international peacekeeping force should be sent to Haiti. However, this as more than half the country is in the hands of rebels. They are not saying who they believe can restore order.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Lucia, the attitude of the opposition to Aristide, the rebels as well as the political opposition, as far as the United States is concerned, what do they say about U.S. policy? In other words, how endangered are Americans in Haiti right now, especially those Marines, several hundred of them, expected to land? And that could happen as early as today.

NEWMAN: Well, that's the thing, Wolf. Certainly, the supporters of the former president will see these Marines, or could well see these Marines as an enemy force. And we also have some people in the opposition, the peaceful (ph) opposition, who believe that the international community should come in to support the police, but not as a kind of peacekeeping force, a savior's force, because they say that that's happened in the past and it hasn't resolved anything.

And then we have the unknown quantity here, the armed rebels. We don't know how many they are, but they do control, as I said, more than half the country. Will they give up their weapons peacefully to an international peacekeeping force, or to the interim government for that fact, Wolf?

BLITZER: Do they anticipate, Lucia, that the United Nations, in this force that will be put together, U.S. and other troops coming in, that that could lead to some short-term stability in Haiti? Will that be enough, in other words, to reverse these awful trends that we've seen unfold over the past three weeks, now that President Aristide has gone?

NEWMAN: I think, Wolf, it's much too early to tell. But it does seem clear to most people that someone has got to step in to try and restore some kind of order and support the police force, which up until now has been absolutely absent from this, devoid of any role in keeping law and order in this country.

There are many in the international community who say that the United Nations has to approve the sending of any peacekeepers, of any military force from another country, and we'll have to see if that's what happens, very soon, for the United Nations to put its seal of approval on the news that you just gave, that perhaps the United States might be sending in Marines as early as today. But in the past, the United Nations have said that it would consider a peace-keeping force if and when a political settlement here in Haiti was reached first.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Lucia, bear with me. Let me read precisely the statement from Richard Boucher, the spokesman for the U.S. State Department. Among other things, he said this, he said, "The decision by President Aristide to resign resolves the political impasse that is the root of the violent unrest in Haiti in recent weeks. Therefore, the United States will deploy a contingent of U.S. Marines as the initial contingent of a multi-national interim force. We have been informed that several other countries are prepared to move quickly to join this mission."

We're also hearing from the U.N., the United Nations, that a Security Council meeting could take place at some point trying to move this process forward.

You're in touch with U.S. officials at the American embassy there. You're also getting a sense of the violence in Port-au-Prince and Haiti. To our viewers in the United States, indeed around the world right now, give us some flavor of how bad the situation is on the streets of Haiti.

NEWMAN: I can speak to the situation here in Port-au-Prince, Wolf, and it is still very chaotic. There are armed gangs roaming the streets, shooting at people, shooting...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have ordered deployment of Marines as the leading element of an interim international force to help bring order and stability to Haiti. I have done so in working with the international community.

The government believes it essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the country's history.

But I urge the people of Haiti to reject violence, to give this break from the past a chance to work. And the United States is prepared to help.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: There was the president, returning from Camp David on the South Lawn of the White House just a few moments ago. You saw the videotape, the president of the United States saying that U.S. Marines will be the lead force in trying to establish some sort of stability in Haiti, that he has authorized the deployment of U.S. Marines to be part of this international peace-keeping force, to move into Haiti, now that president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has stepped down and has left Haiti. We don't know yet where he's going.

How will that be received, Lucia Newman, in Haiti, based on what you know now, based on the mood of the opposition, based on the mood of the rebels, what the president just said, that American Marines are on the way?

NEWMAN: There will be a mixed reaction here, Wolf, I can tell you. I'm hearing -- there are people in this country who will welcome the Marines with open arms, because they've been begging for some kind of sense of security, of law and order here. But there are others who will feel somewhat...

BLITZER: Unfortunately, I think we lost the audio from Lucia Newman on our videophone. We'll try to fix that.

Lucia Newman suggesting there could be mixed reaction to the deployment of U.S. Marines as part of an international peace-keeping force about to move into Haiti, now that President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has stepped down.

We're going to continue to follow this story. We're hoping to hear from Senator Bob Graham of Florida. That's coming up. Also, other important subjects that we're covering, including the whole issue of gay marriage, for whom the wedding bells toll. Why mayors from New Paltz, New York to San Francisco are allowing gay marriage.

And beyond that, an Israeli raid on banks and a seizure of millions of dollars in Ramallah, sparking new Palestinian anger. Is there hope for reviving peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians?

All that coming up on "LATE EDITION."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Let's get some more insight now to what's happening in Haiti, a turbulent situation. Here to help us better understand what the departure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide might mean,what should happen next, what U.S. policy should be, joining us,the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the United States Senator Bob Graham, Democrat from Florida.

Senator Graham, Florida critical, clearly having a great stake in what's unfolding in Haiti right now, given the possibility that thousands of Haitians could get on boats, rafts, try to make it to Florida's shores.

The president just moments ago announcing he's approved the deployment of a contingent of United States Marines, part of an international peace-keeping force to try to restore stability to Haiti.

Is this a good idea?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's a very good idea, Wolf. Clearly, we are facing the potential of revenge killings throughout Haiti now in the aftermath of President Aristide's departure.

So having an international force there to avoid that is critically important. It's also important that we provide some immediate humanitarian assistance, particularly food and medical services, which have been severely disrupted as a result of the recent violence.

BLITZER: How worried are you that Haitians might seek to -- go to the sea and start building boats and might try to reach U.S. shores?

GRAHAM: One thing I've heard is that there are so many boats in Haiti today, that what had previously been a harbinger of refugee flight may not be so significant today, that is, the building of new boats. There are plenty of boats already there.

I am concerned that we might have another major flow. There's been some 500-plus people in the last few weeks who have tried to leave Haiti. Getting humanitarian relief, getting some sense of law and order on the streets of Haiti will be a very significant factor in avoiding that refugee flight.

BLITZER: You've covered, you've watched this Haiti situation unfold for a long time, former governor of Florida, now a long-time senator from Florida. Your two Democratic colleagues, Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry, earlier today, both very critical of President Bush for failure, they say, in the whole Haitian policy.

Do you share their criticism that president Bush was negligent in dealing with this brewing crisis?

GRAHAM: One of the surprising things about the Bush administration has been its indifference to the Caribbean and Latin America in general. When running in 2000, candidate Bush made a lot of statements about how engaged he would be as president with Latin America. Almost none of those have come to pass. And Haiti is a good example of it.

If we had moved over the last several years more effectively, I think there would have been a good chance we could have avoid avoided the violence and anarchy which has occurred in Haiti in the last few weeks. We should have put and led an international force to provide security for the people and possibly, therefore, not had the 70-plus deaths that have occurred and the thousands of people who have been wounded and the tremendous looting and disorder that is a fact of life in Haiti today.

BLITZER: But was the president right and the administration right, Secretary of State Colin Powell right, in effectively forcing President Aristide or strongly urging him behind the scenes to read the handwriting on the wall, step down and leave Haiti?

GRAHAM: There are going to be some real consequences to this approach, one of which is how do we maintain confidence in the electoral process if, as we have had yet again in Haiti, an elected president has been removed by force.

But the exit of President Aristide, who, frankly, was a great disappointment to me -- I had known him when he was a priest in the 1980s and then in his two terms as president -- does give us a new page in Haitian history.

We need to learn the lessons of what we didn't do in 1994 after he was replaced in office, and that is, we didn't stay there long enough. We didn't make a deep enough commitment to security, to building the institutions of democracy, and to building an economy that will give the people of Haiti -- who have the lowest per capita income of any nation in the Western Hemisphere -- some hope for a future at home.

BLITZER: Do you agree or disagree with Congressman Charlie Rangel, who earlier today said: By this policy over the last few days, in effectively telling Aristide to leave, the U.S. was participating in what he called a coup d'etat against an elected, democratic official in Haiti?

GRAHAM: Well, I would describe what has happened in Haiti has been a coup d'etat against an elected presidential office holder. The degree of the United States involvement in that, I think, is still unknown. But I believe that we now need to not think about the past, but focus on how can we build a better future?

The Haitian people are wonderful people. We have several tens of thousands of them living in my state of Florida. And they have been family-oriented, they're hard-working, they're industrious. They seek advancement through education, all the values that we admire in the United States. And there's no reason to believe they can't apply those same values in their home country.

BLITZER: Listen to what the president said earlier in the week, warning Haitians not to get on boats and attempt to reach the United States. Listen to this, Senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I have made it abundantly clear to the Coast Guard that we will turn back any refugee that attempts to reach our shore. And that message needs to be very clear as well to the Haitian people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, say that's a racist policy that should be condemned. Do you agree or disagree with this policy?

GRAHAM: My principal criticism of the president's statement are the words "any refugee." We've recognized throughout this country's history the difference between economic refugees, people who are fleeing their home countries because they want a better job and a better life, and political refugees, who are fleeing because of a legitimate concern about their being persecuted. I think that we should make that distinction today. If a person can make the case that, if they were to be forcefully returned to Haiti that their life would be in jeopardy, they should be granted the opportunity to prove that through the immigration process. If they can't, then they should be returned.

BLITZER: Senator Graham of Florida, thanks very much for joining us on this important day. The president of the United States saying perhaps a new chapter has started in Haiti's history. We shall see. Appreciate it very much.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, we'll shift gears: Gay marriage in the United States, should there be a constitutional amendment to ban it? We'll have an assessment where the U.S. goes from here on this sensitive issue.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This is a debate that the nation must have, and the people's voice must be heard in the debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush on Friday on the debate that could be heard from California to New York this past week over the sensitive issue of gay marriage in the United States, and a move endorsed by the president and others to try to change the U.S. Constitution in order to ban gay marriage.

Helping us grapple with this issue, two guests: From Philadelphia, the former solicitor general of the United States and former independent counsel, Judge Starr, Kenneth Starr, that is. And from Chicago, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Professor Dershowitz, first to you. Why do you disagree with the president on this issue of a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSSOR: We're just beginning to have a great national, indeed international debate, about the nature of families that have gay couples. We shouldn't shut off the debate by having a constitutional amendment.

Imagine what would have happened if when we had -- if an amendment had been passed banning miscegenation in the constitution, just at the time when a few states began to experiment with interracial marriage and began to tolerate it. It would've been so much more difficult to come where we've come. The constitution for generations has been a source of granting rights. And to use it now to shut off debate to end this experiment -- states are the great laboratories of experimentation. Let's let it go forward for some years. Let's see how it works out. And let's see if there is a need for a constitutional amendment. I don't think there'll be one.

BLITZER: All right. Judge Starr, let me read to you from an editorial that appeared this past week in USA Today, the newspaper. It said, among other things, it said James Madison said any amendments to the Constitution should be reserved only for, quote, "great and extraordinary occasions." Social causes that are driven largely by emotions and election-year politics don't fit Madison's definition. Do you accept that?

KENNETH STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I certainly do, Wolf. I think that is exactly right. We do need to be cautious. And I don't think anyone is welcoming the prospect of a constitutional amendment.

But we do have a very extraordinary situation here, which is a violation of the laws of various states in several states, and then the Massachusetts supreme judicial court, in interpreting its own constitution in really a very extraordinary way. And that cut off debate.

I certainly agree that we should have a great national debate, and the constitutional amendment is an appropriate mechanism for doing that. Should we do it lightly? Of course not.

But a bit of background: In 1996, when the issue first arose, the Congress of the United States responded with a statute that was overwhelmingly passed, both by the House and by the United States Senate. It's called the Defense of Marriage Act, and it defined marriage in a traditional way, of the union of one man and one woman.

And that law was signed into law by President Clinton, who issued a very strong statement about the importance of protecting marriage. And so I do think we have to recognize at the outset of this debate that marriage is a fundamental institution in society and must be debated.

On that point, Alan Dershowitz, the Wall Street Journal in its editorial on this subject on Friday wrote this, among other things: "We have reached a point where a constitutional debate may be the only thing that will guarantee Americans the right to decide such a fundamental issue as marriage in a democratic fashion." And Judge Starr is right: President Clinton, a Democrat, did sign that Defense of Marriage Act into law.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, but every state has a right to experiment with these new forms. Let me give you an example. President Bush says that marriage is a sacrament. And maybe it is, just like baptism and like circumcision. But the state perhaps should be out of the business of administering sacraments. What if a state like Massachusetts decided it would only as a state would grant civil union certificates? And if anybody wanted to get married, they could go to a church or a synagogue or a mosque, and if they could find a religious institution that wanted to marry them, they'd get married.

So gays wouldn't go to a Catholic church. A Jew who wanted to marry a non-Jew wouldn't go to an orthodox rabbi. He'd find a reformed rabbi, or somebody else. And we limit -- we have equality for all people in the country. They all get the rights and responsibilities of living together, bringing up children, and then marriage is reserved for those who want to seek it through religious institutions.

What would be wrong with a state experimenting with that, or a state experimenting with civil unions? But I think this constitutional amendment cuts off all experimentation, all debate. We do not need to have uniformity in this country at a time when we're having a great debate.

Because, again, I go back to miscegenation. If we proposed a constitutional amendment, back in the 1920s or 1930s, it would have passed.

BLITZER: All right.

DERSHOWITZ: And it would have been impossible for us to achieve the kind of racial equality we've achieved.

BLITZER: Judge Starr, you want to respond to that?

STARR: Yes, very briefly, I would just say, the basic concern here is, who does get to decide? And the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has really launched this, by this divided, 4-3 decision. Four justices have essentially said, here's the way it's going to be in Massachusetts.

Well, that is launching a debate in Massachusetts. Let's have that great debate, but you can have it in the context of a constitutional amendment. The judiciary has historically protected marriage, such as saying anti-polygamy laws are constitutional, and the like. It's not certain...

(CROSSTALK)

STARR: Go ahead.

BLITZER: Judge Starr, I want to interrupt and point out to you and to a lot of our viewers who remember, that conservatives, Republicans often say these kinds of issues should be left to states, states' rights. In fact, in the 2000 presidential campaign, both the then Republican candidate, George Bush, and the then vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney, both suggested this should be left to the states. Listen to what they said then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business, in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: So if a state were voting on gay marriage, you would suggest to that state not to approve it?

BUSH: The state could do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in the states' issue like they're trying to get me...

KING: You just did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Shouldn't this be left for states to decide? That's the argument, Judge Starr.

STARR: Yes, and I think that is the preferred method. I agree that there should be a state-by-state analysis of this, and so one can in fact say, gee, do you approve of a particular wording of a constitutional amendment?

The point is, we may need a constitutional amendment just to ensure that we don't have one state, be it Massachusetts, Hawaii, or Vermont, driving the institutions in another state.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, we agree on that. We agree.

STARR: And that is absolutely critical, but that is, I think, what is ultimately at issue here: can the judiciary decide the meaning of marriage, and then impose that on the rest of society?

And that's -- no, but that's...

(CROSSTALK)

STARR: That really is at issue here.

BLITZER: Hold on, Alan Dershowitz, I want you to respond, but the president made that same point this past week, and he blamed what he calls "activist judges." Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Alan Dershowitz.

DERSHOWITZ: Of course it was the Supreme Court of the United States which struck down the last of the anti-miscegenation statutes. In Massachusetts, there's a great debate going on. The legislature is now considering having a state constitutional amendment. In Georgia, there is a great debate going on. In California and in New York. Let these debates go forward, and let's see how they get resolved.

It may be that in the end no state will accept gay marriage, and then we have a constitutional amendment which simply for the future prevents experimentation and debate from going forward. You don't amend the Constitution except as a last resort, and the states are doing their job. Massachusetts is doing its job.

Let's wait and see how they resolve this.

BLITZER: Judge Starr, I'll give you the last word, briefly. Go ahead.

STARR: Wolf, wait and see is such a sensible solution ordinarily, but here I think we've reached a different stage, thanks to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. They gave virtually no time to the legislative process to work. They rebuffed the Senate, when the Senate said, can't something short of marriage work? The same four justices said no.

And now what we're going to see is, Massachusetts marriages then being argued to take effect under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution in other states. That's the problem that the president and others are trying to address.

DERSHOWITZ: But there's a solution short of a constitutional amendment to the Full Faith and Credit issue, and we should be addressing that, not the constitutional amendment...

BLITZER: We'll leave that -- we'll continue that discussion on another occasion. Unfortunately, we're all out of time.

Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, a good debate. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

STARR: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And coming up, a quick check on what's making news at this hour, including the latest developments, dramatic developments in Haiti.

And from the Middle East to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, arguments over Israel's controversial security barrier. We'll have an assessment of that.

You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

Deadly confrontation in the Middle East continuing this past week over a security wall Israel says it needs to protect itself from Palestinian terrorists. The International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands held hearings on this matter the past week.

Joining us now live from Jerusalem, the former Israeli prime minister, now the finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Minister, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI FINANCE MINISTER: Thank you.

BLITZER: The International Red Cross has suggested this in a statement they released on February 18th. They said, "Where it deviates from the green line into occupied territory, the barrier deprives thousands of Palestinian residents of adequate access to basic services, such as water, health care, and education, as well as sources of income, such as agriculture and other forms of employment."

Why not simply build the security barrier along the so-called green line, as opposed to relatively deep into the West Bank?

NETANYAHU: It's not deep at all. It's about 13 percent, 12 percent of the entire area of the West Bank, which, by the way, is disputed land. The Palestinians claim it. We claim it. It was occupied illegally by Arab forces in 1948 in an occupation recognized by only two countries.

We took it back in a war of self-defense in 1967. And Resolution 242 of the Security Council says that this land should be negotiated on a border and a final resolution between the two parties.

Now, there's no one to negotiate with for the moment. But what we can do is put up a fence, a temporary security barrier. It's not a permanent border. We just tore down 20 kilometers of it to, in fact, to enable the Palestinians an easier daily life.

But remember, the quality of life is not the same as life. You can always improve quality of life. But lives taken by terrorists who penetrate our cities and explode our buses, explode our children, explode our schools, our cafes, our restaurants, those lives are forever lost.

The Palestinians complain their children are -- some of their children are late to school because of the fence. Well, many of our children never get to school because they're blown up by these terrorists. So we're merely putting a barrier to prevent these terrorists from coming in.

BLITZER: I think even the Bush administration, top Bush administration officials, will agree that Israel has every right to build that security barrier to prevent terrorists from infiltrating what they raise -- the criticism you hear from the State Department and others here in Washington is that Israel has moved into the West Bank, ten miles at some points, eight miles at other points.

Why not, once again, simply have built it along the Israeli side to avoid that kind of criticism?

NETANYAHU: Because that line is indefensible. That's why we were attacked from it in the first place in 1967. But the reason we're putting the fence where it is is not a land grab. If we wanted a land grab, we'd take a lot more than 13 percent. It follows merely the distribution of the main population centers of Israelis and Palestinians.

Israelis are living in the West Bank and Judae (ph) and Samarra. We're not making allowances for all of them. But the main population blocks are such in this distribution that one percent of the Palestinians are in the territory that is within the fence, one percent.

Whereas about 80 percent, not 100 percent, but 80 percent of the Israelis are on our side and therefore protected. In other words, 99 percent of the Palestinians are not enclosed in this fence, and 80 percent of the Israelis are protected by it. And, of course, the rest of the Israeli population in Tel Aviv, and Haifa, and Jerusalem is also protected.

So this fence follows the population line, not a geographical line, not a political line. It is merely meant to facilitate a barrier against terrorists. And, of course, if we have a peace partner, which we don't, somebody who will actually fight terrorism and recognize our right to exist if we had that, then we could bring down this fence in two minutes.

But I assume, if you had terrorists penetrating the United States or anywhere else, in any country where people are listening to me now, they'd do a lot more than put up a fence, for God's sake.

BLITZER: You're the finance minister of Israel. How much is this barrier, this security barrier going to cost Israeli taxpayers?

NETANYAHU: Well, it's costing quite a bit, I have to say, because everything costs. And you know, whatever it costs, it's a lot cheaper than to have about a thousand of our people blown up in these horrible bombs.

You know that, in American terms, this is about 60,000 Americans. Imagine 200 suicide bombs in every city -- in San Francisco, New York, and in Miami and Chicago and so on -- 60,000 people. That's 20 times the numbers that were lost in the horrific carnage in the September 11th.

So we're just getting attacked beyond belief. And what we've done is put up a barrier that works 100 percent. I think that's what people have to understand.

BLITZER: Well, what is...

NETANYAHU: Not one single terrorist has crossed this fence, not one.

BLITZER: What is the bottom-line cost?

NETANYAHU: So far, I think it's about -- I have to calculate the exact numbers -- but it's several hundred million dollars so far, and it will go further up. There's no question it's expensive.

We're paying this from our own money. And this is not easy, I can tell you, because we were bringing down the cost of government, so this is kicking it up. Nevertheless, we're able to control our costs.

BLITZER: The former prime minister of Israel, now the finance minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks for spending a few moments with us on this sensitive subject. Appreciate it very much.

NETANYAHU: Thank you very much, Wolf. I appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And when we come back, we're hoping to hear from Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian cabinet minister. We'll speak with him when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll be speaking with the Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian cabinet minister, just in a few moments.

First, let's go back to the White House. Suzanne Malveaux, our White House correspondent, is joining us once again.

Suzanne, dramatic announcements from the president himself?

MALVEAUX: Absolutely, Wolf. And this is really a reflection of what we have been hearing from senior administration officials, that is that this is a very significant and positive development what has happened by Aristide leaving. But at the same time, there is still a bit of concern of the situation that is on the ground, just how dangerous it is.

That is why the president announced just within the last hour or so that there would be Marines that would be sent to Haiti to make sure to secure the peace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: President Aristide resigned. He has left his country.

The constitution of Haiti is working. There is an interim president, as per the constitution, in place.

I have ordered a deployment of Marines as the leading element of an interim international force to help bring order and stability to Haiti. I have done so in working with the international community.

This government believes it essential that Haiti have a hopeful future. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the country's history. I would urge the people of Haiti to reject violence, to give this break from the past a chance to work. And the United States is prepared to help.

Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The president speaking just within the past hour or so announcing that U.S. Marines would be part of an international peace- keeping contingent in Haiti.

Joining us on the phone now from Haiti, Guy Phillipe. He's the rebel leader who's orchestrated so much of what's going on in Haiti the past three weeks since the violence started.

Mr. Phillipe, thanks for joining us.

Now that President Aristide has left Haiti, what happens next?

GUY PHILLIPE, HAITIAN REBEL LEADER: I think now the opposition people should get together and find a good solution for the country.

BLITZER: What is that solution, from your vantage point, the leader of the rebel forces?

PHILLIPE: I think the solution is, you know, justice to all those people that aided a dictator (ph), Aristide, one, and see how we can go forward, how we can have a better country, how Haitians can have a better conditions of living. For me, that's the solution.

BLITZER: Will you continue your military struggle? In other words, will you move in on Port-au-Prince any time soon?

PHILLIPE: If we move in Port-au-Prince, it will be to put security. But we don't intend to fight anymore. Time is not for fighting anymore.

BLITZER: Will you put down your arms now that the U.S. and other international forces are on the way to Haiti?

PHILLIPE: As we already said, whenever we have the solution, the dialogue begin, and we find a solution, we will put down our weapons.

BLITZER: Do you welcome the decision by President Bush to send United States Marines and other forces to Haiti?

PHILLIPE: I think it's a good decision. The people of Haiti need it, and the country needs it.

BLITZER: What will that mean? How will they be received, the American and other international forces, once they arrive?

PHILLIPE: They will be welcome.

BLITZER: Will you go forward with the constitutional process, the democratic process of Haiti now, and allow the supreme court justice to take interim control as you await new elections in the aftermath of President Aristide's departure?

PHILLIPE: We were fighting for democracy, and the constitution said the judge shall be the president. So he will be the president. BLITZER: And you accept that unconditionally?

PHILLIPE: Excuse me?

BLITZER: You accept that unconditionally, that the justice, the supreme court justice, will be the interim president of Haiti beginning right now?

PHILLIPE: I do.

BLITZER: What will you and your rebel forces be doing in the hours ahead?

PHILLIPE: Excuse me?

BLITZER: What will you and your rebel forces, your comrades, what will you be doing in the hours ahead today and tomorrow?

PHILLIPE: We're just taking contact with the political leaders to see how we can make the dialogue and find a solution as quick as we can.

BLITZER: Will you move forward in trying to find some sort of political settlement that will restore democracy in Haiti?

PHILLIPE: I don't understand the question.

BLITZER: Will you support the political process, the democratic process in Haiti, the elections that are expected to take place at some point down the road?

PHILLIPE: We will support all the effort to put back democracy.

BLITZER: What happened? Why did President Aristide, who came back to power a decade ago -- what happened? Why did you, in effect, go to battle against him?

PHILLIPE: Hey, I didn't do that. The people of Haiti begin it. We just came to help people of Haiti.

BLITZER: And as a result of what happened, you will now step back. Do you personally, Guy Phillipe, do you personally have any political ambition in Haiti?

PHILLIPE: Not for now. It wouldn't be good for the country for our military chief to go to politics now. So for the country and for democracy, I won't go to politics.

BLITZER: You won't go to politics. Can you tell our viewers where you are right now, where you and your forces are based?

PHILLIPE: So now, I'm in a cabin on my way to Port-au-Prince.

BLITZER: You're on your way to Port-au-Prince. When do you expect to reach the Haitian capital?

PHILLIPE: Excuse me?

BLITZER: When do you expect to be in Port-au-Prince?

PHILLIPE: I think tonight or tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: And you will then cooperate with the international force, including the United States Marines, who are on the way?

PHILLIPE: We are waiting for them. We need them.

BLITZER: You need them. You're waiting for them. That means you'll cooperate, and you're looking forward to a new chapter in Haiti's history. That's what President Bush said earlier, that this could begin a new chapter. Are you optimistic that the worst is now over?

PHILLIPE: I think the worst is over now, and we're waiting for the international force to -- they will have our full cooperation.

BLITZER: How many U.S. and international troops have you been told will be coming to Haiti?

PHILLIPE: I don't know. I hope the more they can send.

BLITZER: And, finally, Guy Phillipe, there have been concerns expressed in the United States, as you well know, especially in Florida, that Haitians may attempt to go on boats or rafts and try to reach the United States. Do you see any evidence that that is happening?

PHILLIPE: I don't think it will happen, because we're not chasing anyone. What we want is unity. We're not here to divide. We want unity. And all Haitians can be sure that we're not going to chase anyone.

The only problem was Aristide. We don't have any problem with Aristide's followers. So they can stay in the country. And they won't be -- they won't have any problem to stay in the country if they want.

BLITZER: Guy Phillipe, thanks so much for joining us.

Guy Phillipe, the rebel leader in Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. He says he will be there tonight.

That's unfortunately all the time we have for this "LATE EDITION," breaking news involving Haiti. Our apologies to Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Cabinet Minister. We'll try to get him back on this program next Sunday.

Until then, thanks very much watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Have a nice afternoon.

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