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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Super Tuesday Preview; Interview With Robert Bennett

Aired March 1, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Feeling Super? John Kerry talks like a winner, heading into tomorrow's 10-state showdown.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When November comes, George Bush is going, we're coming. And don't let the door hit you on the way out, folks.

ANNOUNCER: No more Mr. Nice Guy?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: There are real differences between Senator Kerry and myself on these issues. I mean, you can pretend there aren't.

ANNOUNCER: Has Edwards taken his New York debate feistiness on to the campaign trail?

Georgia landmarks. What does the only southern Super Tuesday battleground tell us about the presidential race?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

We are in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. You could say this is a fitting setting on the eve of tomorrow's decathlon Super Tuesday primaries.

Incase you need a reminder as to why we call it "Super Tuesday," more than half of the delegates that are needed to win the nomination are up for grabs tomorrow in 10 states, including this one, Georgia. Both John Kerry and John Edwards head here to Georgia later today as part of their final swings through the Super Tuesday states.

We begin with front-runner John Kerry, and with our correspondent, Candy Crowley, live in Columbus, Ohio -- Candy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: By the time voters begin to go to the polls, John Kerry will have visited seven of the 10 Super Tuesday states. On Monday, he went to Maryland, Ohio, and by the end of the day, Georgia. But while this is still the primary season, John Kerry clearly has fall on his mind.

KERRY: This isn't going to be some kind of, you know, "we're like them, they're like us, wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed you can't tell the difference deal." This is going to be something where we're giving America a real choice.

CROWLEY: Kerry uses military lingo and muscular language. But the words "John Edwards" never cross his lips. The target here is George Bush.

KERRY: This president has, in fact, created terrorists where they didn't exist. And I believe -- I believe this president has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country. And we need to hold him accountable.

CROWLEY: At the Kerry campaign, aides still speak the mantra. They take nothing for granted. They are working hard for every vote. Still, as they say it now, they say it with a smile.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Columbus, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, John Edwards also campaigned today in Ohio. And that was where he faced questions about his Super Tuesday strategy, and about his exit strategy.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is traveling with John Edwards.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One day after drawing the sharpest contrast yet with John Kerry, John Edwards came here to Toledo and delivered his standard 15-minute stump speech. In fact, he spoke in the same room where John Kerry appeared last week before a larger audience.

There was no mention of his Democratic rival. In fact, John Edwards saying that if Democrats are looking for a Democrat who attacks other candidates, then he is not their guy. Well then reporters asked him how he reconciles his all-positive, all-the-time campaign with what he did in yesterday's debate.

EDWARDS: My message has been one of optimism and hope and positive all along. I have always said that I would draw differences -- I'm sorry, I have always said that I would draw substantive policy differences between myself and other candidates.

WALLACE: Edwards is now trailing in all the Super Tuesday states where polls are being conducted. So we asked him if there are any circumstances at all in which he would consider getting out of the race tomorrow.

EDWARDS: I plan to stay in this until I'm the nominee.

WALLACE: No matter -- let me just ask you, no matter what happens tomorrow?

EDWARDS: I plan to be in this until I'm the nominee.

WALLACE: But don't the numbers at some point...

EDWARDS: Of course. At some point, I've got to start getting more delegates or I'm not going to be the nominee. But I intend to be in this until the end.

WALLACE: Edwards says he has not received one phone call from Democrats urging him to get out of the race. That said, if he does not pull off any upsets tomorrow, the phone calls could start coming in from Democrats urging him to bring his campaign to an end.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, Toledo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And now a closer look at where Edwards and Kerry stand in these Super Tuesday battleground states. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been going through the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The polls do not look good for John Edwards going in to Super Tuesday. Let's look at polls taken since the February 17 Wisconsin primary, when Edwards surprised everybody by coming in second, a lot closer than expected.

The biggest Super Tuesday prize? California, where the polls are showing a blowout for John Kerry. Kerry leads Edwards by more than 40 points in the Field Poll, 60 to 19 percent. Without a budget for TV ads, Edwards may not find much gold in the Golden State.

New York: Edwards has been campaigning in economically distressed upstate areas. But upstate New York typically casts less than a third of the Democratic primary vote. The Marist College Poll shows Kerry ahead of Edwards.

Edwards has high hopes for Ohio. His trade message should resonate in a state that suffered severe manufacturing job losses. Edwards is a little closer in one Ohio poll, but still 21 points behind Kerry. Another Ohio poll has Edwards 33 points behind.

The big surprise on Super Tuesday could be Maryland, a border state. The American Research Group Poll shows Edwards just 12 points behind Kerry. Watch Maryland.

So far, Edwards has a mixed record in the South. He won South Carolina, where he was born, but he lost Tennessee and Virginia. The big test on Super Tuesday will be Georgia, a must-win state for Edwards.

How's he doing in the Peach State? One poll has him 10 points behind Kerry in Georgia, his strongest showing anywhere. But another Georgia poll has Edwards trailing Kerry by 24. Not one poll in any of these Super Tuesday states has Edwards ahead, or even within single digits. Not even in Georgia. But Edwards says he relies on a late surge to give him a boost.

In Wisconsin, for instance, three quarters of his supporters said they decided to vote for him in the last three days of the campaign. But he still came in second.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, both Kerry and Edwards have spent a good deal of time in Georgia, and in Ohio. Up next, how do voters in these Super Tuesday states view the Democratic contenders? And are they already thinking about the fall?

Also ahead, how the U.S. is responding to the crisis in Haiti. And what it may mean for the president's re-election campaign.

And later, can John Kerry pull off a "Lord of the Rings"-like sweep tomorrow? Or will Super Tuesday have more drama than the Oscars? Dueling strategists weigh in on INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: You could say that Ohio and Georgia are at the heart of John Edwards' hopes for an upset in tomorrow's Super Tuesday primaries. Well, with me now are two reporters who know those states very well. Tom Diemer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is with us from Cleveland. And also right here in Atlanta, Tom Baxter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Tom Baxter, to you first. Right now, how does this race shape up here in the state of Georgia?

TOM BAXTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: It shapes up a Kerry victory if you believe our tracking polling. We saw some signs of the race beginning to tighten up a little bit at the end of last week, but then it widened out again. Edwards says that he sees some momentum here in Georgia, but we have not picked it up yet in our polling.

WOODRUFF: All right. Tom Diemer, what about in Ohio? Edwards has also put a lot of effort into your state. What does it look like right now?

TOM DIEMER, CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER: Well, Judy, I was at an Edwards event this morning in Toledo, and at a Kerry event just now in Ohio State in Columbus, and there was a contrast. The Edwards event was subdued, a respectful crowd. He did his 15-minute to America speech, got on and off.

And the Kerry event was almost like a victory rally. He held out a lucky buckeye, he was flanked by the mayors of Columbus and Cincinnati. And they -- I think the Kerry people smell victory here. WOODRUFF: Tom Baxter, what is the problem for John Edwards? He's a southerner, born in neighboring South Carolina. You know, he's got the right accent. What's the problem he's having?

BAXTER: You know, that's interesting, Judy. I don't talk to any voters who dislike John Edwards. But I think his problem is that he hasn't convinced the voters that he's the guy who's going to beat George Bush. And you see among Democratic primary voters here, as well as in other states, that is the highest priority. They want somebody that they know can come right out of the gate and run against George Bush.

WOODRUFF: Is it the same problem that Edwards is having in Ohio, Tom Diemer?

DIEMER: Well, I think it's a little bit more nuance here. He had a good message here, the idea of tying unfair international trade deals, at least in his view, to job loss. That looked like it was going to work pretty well in northern Ohio.

I think the problem was he just couldn't be here enough. Ten states, three or four or five that you're focusing on, two debates. And I just think he couldn't be on the ground enough.

We asked him about that and he acknowledged it. His brand of retail politics works when he's in a state. He was here three different times, but it wasn't enough.

WOODRUFF: Tom Baxter, what are you seeing, though, at this point? If you're seeing that Georgia's about to go for John Kerry, are you seeing the shape of something that foretells anything at all about the general election in November?

BAXTER: I don't know that it really does, Judy. I don't know that you would put this in the Kerry column at all for November. But I do believe that it shows a greater intensity on the part of Democrats here, and that reflects an intensity all across the country, so that this might be a little bit more competitive state even if it's solidly in the Bush column.

WOODRUFF: Intensity how and why?

BAXTER: That's a good question, too. I think you see it in the voters at these rallies, and it's a real sense that they're committed to doing whatever it takes to bring about a change of the administration this fall.

WOODRUFF: And what about on that point, Tom Diemer, in Ohio? We all know very well by now that no, I guess, Republican has ever been elected president without the state of Ohio. What's it looking like for George Bush right now in Ohio?

DIEMER: Well, George Bush is going to have an opportunity in Ohio. But remember, Vice President Gore only lost Ohio by, I think, 3.6 percentage points, even though he walked away from the state three weeks out four years ago. So there's an opportunity here for the Democrats, and the Democrats here have been down for quite a few years.

They have no statewide office holders, and they are very, very hungry. I know that the Bush people are taking the threat here very, very seriously. So I think the Democrats have a shot. But it's certainly not in their column.

WOODRUFF: You just said, Tom Baxter, here in Georgia, that this is hardly a state that John Kerry can count on. You just completely put it out of the picture?

BAXTER: I don't think you can completely. But I think if in October you see John Kerry and George Bush neck and neck in Georgia, then you figure John Kerry is going to sweep to a surprising victory.

WOODRUFF: Because ordinarily...

BAXTER: Because ordinarily it would not be that way.

WOODRUFF: And very quickly Tom Diemer, what is it that George Bush and John Kerry need to do to make the sale in the state of Ohio?

DIEMER: I think in the state of Ohio one of them has to convince the voters here that they can help turn this economy around. Ohio typically lags behind the nation during times of economic recovery, and job loss is a big deal here, particularly factory jobs. So the candidate who can convince these folks, particularly in the hard-hit areas, that they can swing the economy and start creating jobs, is going to have the best shot.

WOODRUFF: All right. Tom Diemer, with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tom Baxter, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, great to see both of you. And I want to make sure everybody understands we're not trying to jump the gun. We're not trying to say that John Kerry's won the nomination, simply that it's looking tough right now for his principal opponent.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you. Thank you very much.

DIEMER: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And a reminder. We want to ask you to stay with CNN for the most complete coverage of tomorrow's Super Tuesday primaries. Our prime-time coverage of all 10-state contests gets under way at 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific. That's tomorrow, on Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: Well, one of President Clinton's lawyers during impeachment was Robert Bennett. Coming up, he joins me to talk about his latest work, helping to oversee reports of a grave crisis confronting the American Catholic Church.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The sexual abuse scandal -- by the way, we're back here inside because of all that wind outdoors. The sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Catholic Church has passed an important milestone with the release of two new reports. One finds that at least 10,000 abuse claims were filed between 1950, and 2002, involving almost 4,400 priests. The other report faults the Catholic bishops for not confronting the problem over the years. These reports were overseen by a 12-member panel appointed by the bishops and composed of non- ordained lay Catholics.

Joining me now from Washington is one of them, attorney Robert Bennett, who oversaw the writing of this report.

Robert Bennett, good to see you. Thank you very much for talking with me.

ROBERT BENNETT, ATTORNEY: Hi, Judy. Nice to be here.

WOODRUFF: Some pretty disturbing information coming out of all this, Robert Bennett. But there are still victims who are saying even today that there still is a question of why there was not individual reporting done, why you relied on the parishes themselves to come forward with information. In other words, why your commission didn't go out and aggressively report.

BENNETT: Well, that's just unfair. You know, I would suggest that the press conference was held even before they had our report. That's just not fair. I can understand them being upset, but that's not a fair criticism.

We did aggressively go out. And we took advantage of all available statistics and data, including information they had provided us. But the most important source of the files were files which were in the individual diocese.

And I would point out to you that, as a result of getting access to these files, we were able to show that the numbers were higher than any of the numbers that had been previously provided. So, instead of criticizing the bishops, I think they should be complimented for making this information available. I know of no other organization or group that's ever done it before.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you, Robert Bennett, from James Post, who is head of the lay organization, Voices of the Faithful, who says, "There is no accounting of the number of bishops who knowingly transferred sexually abusive priests. This omission is unacceptable and stalls abuse survivors, the hierarchy, and the laity in their attempts to protect children and create a better, safer and healthier church environment."

BENNETT: Well, I think Mr. Post, with all due respect to him, just does not understand what the purpose of this board was. This was not the goal or the purpose of our board. This was not our mission.

Perhaps that is something that should be the subject of a further study. But that's not -- that had nothing to do with what our mission was. So it's -- that should be addressed to somebody else.

WOODRUFF: Robert Bennett, your report points out, among other things, that there are two factors that you did not address here. And that is homosexuality among priests, and the larger question of celibacy. There are those who say that these two issues are so fundamental, that one cannot really address what happened to the Church without looking at these issues. How do you answer that?

BENNETT: Well, I answer it by saying that whoever provided you that information has not read the report. There is extensive discussion of both the subject of homosexuality and celibacy. The report is replete with discussions on both those subjects. So whoever told you that we didn't just didn't read the report.

WOODRUFF: But the report does not take a position on them.

BENNETT: Well, yes, the report does take a position on them.

WOODRUFF: And what is the position?

BENNETT: Well, in terms of homosexuality, we point out that 80 percent of the victims were at the wrong end of what were homosexual acts. We say that, while we don't think there should be a litmus test for applicants to the seminary, that there perhaps should be a heightened scrutiny.

On the subject of celibacy, we say, while we don't think it was a cause of the crisis, we say that for some bishops, or priests, it's a gift. And for others, it's an albatross. And it requires -- it requires further study, because we think that, while it does not contribute to sexual abuse of people, it does cause other problems: loneliness, alcoholism, and the crossing of boundaries. And we ask that further study be done on it.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Robert Bennett, does this clear the air, to a large degree, this report?

BENNETT: No, I don't think it clears the air. I think our report shows the way to the bishops, which, if they follow our recommendations, can some day hopefully sooner rather than later, put this problem behind us.

WOODRUFF: Robert Bennett, who was the principal author of this report on the incidence of sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church. Thank you very much for coming by. We appreciate it.

BENNETT: You're welcome, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: The second half-hour of INSIDE POLITICS begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

ANNOUNCER: President Bush sends in the Marines. But his campaign rivals say it was too little, too late. EDWARDS: This is a crisis situation that the president allowed to develop.

ANNOUNCER: It was the state that put George W. Bush over the top in 2000. So where does Florida stand this time around? We'll check out which way Sunshine State voters are leaning.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't call it Super Tuesday for anything.

ANNOUNCER: We're not arguing with Al Gore, but how did Super Tuesday get its name?

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And welcome back to Georgia and our Super Tuesday countdown. As I said a moment ago, it got a little windy outside of CNN Center in Atlanta, so that's the reason you see me inside now for the rest of the program.

Well, on this final day of campaigning before the biggest primary day of the season, the Democrats' travel schedules tell you a lot about their political strategy tomorrow, and in the future.

CNN's Bob Franken has more from Maryland, where John Kerry began his day.

Hi, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did begin his day here, Judy. And that is because Maryland is a state where it's fairly close. Not a lot of delegates here. But still, this is a state that has a lot of symbolic value. Kerry is trying to overwhelm Edwards, and so he wants to try and widen the gap, which is about a seven-point gap right now.

So he was campaigning here at Morgan State University. He also had stops in Ohio, a state that's also in play, apparently. And then he's going down to Georgia.

As for John Edwards he was in Ohio. Edwards is hoping for what has become one of his patented comeback victories. He is hoping now that he's going to get a late surge and that he's going to be able to give his campaign continued credibility so he can go ahead, go on.

And as a matter of fact he's already announced his schedule for after Super Tuesday. He's going to be going to Florida. He's going to be going to all the Southern states that make up the next primary. He's hoping that his Southernness will appeal to voters down there and cause some momentum to develop, if he has any delegates at all.

Of course they call this Super Tuesday because there's such a massive number of delegates involve, 1,151, 53 percent of those required to win the Democratic nomination will be decided tomorrow. As I said, Maryland is a state that is quite close. It's a state that shows polls either an eight or seven-point separation, Kerry ahead. But that's kind of a precarious lead for Kerry. The other states that might be battle grounds include Ohio and Minnesota.

So, Super Tuesday could be decisive. But John Edwards is saying it won't be. Of course the reality is if he is completely swamped he may have to revisit the situation -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We're not going to take our eyes off of it no matter what. OK, Bob Franken, thank you very much, joining us from Baltimore.

Well newspaper endorsements lead our headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." John Kerry has picked up most of the Super Tuesday editorial nods in recent days, including "The Atlanta Journal- Constitution" and "The Baltimore Sun."

"The San Francisco Chronicle" also endorsed Kerry saying, "more important than the distinctions in style are the distinctions in experience. Kerry's two decades in the Senate are apparent in the depth of his responses to questions about trade, foreign policy, environment, and other issues."

"The Cleveland Plain Dealer" also backed Kerry, noting that leading the battle against terrorism is the most important requirement for the Democratic nominee. Quote, "More than anything else, that nominee must convince Americans that he can stand up to those that despise this nation and its values. And on this count Kerry is easily the better choice."

Kerry didn't make a clean sweep of the Ohio papers. John Edwards also picked up a Buckeye State endorsement. "The Cincinnati Enquirer" praised Edwards for his ability to debate the important issues. According to the editorial, quote, "his discussion of the war and the nation's responsibilities do not dwell on the generally irrelevant issue of what he was doing in the 1960s. That contrasts with the bickering over the Vietnam Era between Senator Kerry and President Bush."

Well, looking ahead to face-offs in Florida, a poll out today shows John Kerry leading John Edwards by 22 points among likely voters in next week's Democratic primary in Florida. In a general election match up, Kerry trails President Bush by five points among Floridians who are likely to vote in November. Ralph Nader gets one percent.

When Edwards is pitted against the president in Florida though, the survey shows Mr. Bush winning by eight points. Again, Ralph Nader gets one percent.

Well voters in Florida are among those keeping a close watch on the crisis in Haiti. And how the Bush administration responds to it. For the very latest on all that let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the Bush administration is very sensitive to the perception that it acts as an imperialist power. To underscore that the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House all dismissing these allegations that Aristide was forced to leave his country, that he was kidnapped by the United States.

Earlier today, Aristide called two members of Congress both members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He also called an African activist and said that he was kidnapped, that he was forced to leave Haiti by U.S. forces, and that he was being held in the Central African Republic against his will.

Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, both of them coming out saying that these allegations were absurd. Secretary Powell saying that Aristide's aides asked for help and protection, that he was assured of this, he was provided a plane and it was only after Aristide said that he would resign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Judy, this is something the Bush administration sees as a distraction. They want to get back to the issue at hand, of course. But as you know, Haiti a very hot political issue -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Suzanne, how concerned are they about some of these comments coming from Democrats Charles Rangel and others?

MALVEAUX: Well, they certainly think that -- they hope at least that they've put this to rest. But essentially this is just another thing that the Bush administration has to be concerned with.

One of the things is that they are getting a number of -- quite a bit of criticism and increased scrutiny. That is because they have now troops on the ground. And like Afghanistan and Iraq the policy is going to be looked at a lot more carefully than it was before.

This is something that they realize is going to happen. It happens in the campaign season and they certainly hope that they've gotten over this hurdle.

WOODRUFF: All right, Suzanne Malveaux reporting for us from the White House this afternoon. Thank you, Suzanne.

And ahead, the presidential race beyond Super Tuesday. I'll ask two party strategists about tomorrow's showdown, and we'll hear their advice for victory in November.

John Edwards looks outside the party as a way to win Democratic delegates. Political analyst Ron Brownstein considers his game plan.

And later, glitz, glamour, and politics. Views from the Left Coast at last night's Academy Awards.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With me now to analyze Super Tuesday and the overall race for the White House are two veteran party strategists. Democrat Doug Hattaway joins us from Boston. He is a former spokesman for Al Gore.

Republican Scott Reed is in Washington. He was Bob Dole's campaign manager during the 1996 presidential campaign.

Scott Reed, you're a Republican but I'm going to start with you anyway. Does it look from your perspective as if John Edwards has any hope tomorrow of winning?

SCOTT REED, GOP STRATEGIST: I don't think so. Judy, if you look at the debate yesterday, what Edwards did on Saturday in his debate prep was really spend a lot of time with his team and look at the polls. And the polls show they're really looking down a barrel here of ten elections tomorrow night, where they're trailing in all ten states.

And I think that's why you saw a little bit of a different strategy and approach. It's too little, too late to change tactics like that on the Kerry situation.

But, it's going to be a long night tomorrow night for Edwards and probably the beginning of the end. Today's the day before the funeral.

WOODRUFF: Doug Hattaway, too little too late or could John Edwards surprise everybody?

DOUG HATTAWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's what he's hoping for, certainly. I think they're looking for a late surge in the next round of primaries that's coming up with all the Southern states hoping to repeat what Bill Clinton did back when he sort of caught up and overtook Paul Tsongas.

It doesn't look good for Edwards right now given these ten states that are up tomorrow night. And I do tend to agree, it's a little late in the game to be changing tone. Which is what we saw in the debate. Edwards got a lot of kudos for being positive. He is a very good candidate. Got a very positive message and really delivered it talking about his working-class roots and people really feel that he's connecting there.

But that said, when he took the turn last night and started to go after Kerry a little more, it's hard to blame him giving what the polls say. But it's sort of tough to do it at this stage of the game and just looks political. I think that's hard for John Edwards at this point.

WOODRUFF: Scott Reed, what does John Kerry need to do going forward? We've got eight months between now and November, assuming John Kerry gets the nomination wrapped up, and whether John Edwards gets you know, drops out this week, next week or two or three weeks down the line, how does John Kerry keep this momentum going?

REED: It's going to be tough, Judy. John Kerry and his campaign are about to enter the longest five months of their life between now and their convention in Boston. It's going to feel like five years because they don't have the financial resources to go out and fill in some of the blanks on John Kerry's background.

I mean, what Kerry and his team are going to recognize at the end of this week, after they are the presumptive nominee is that nobody really knows who he is. You know, he's been a bit of a flash here the last 80 or 90 days where he's come from a campaign we were all laughing about last December, to being the front-runner and now being the nominee, and one of the things I learned eight years ago was even though we'd been through a tough process and even though Senator Dole had been a leader for 25 years a lot of the American voters that are just beginning to tune in now really don't know who he is.

Kerry's about to learn that same lesson. You couple that with about 104 million reasons why it's going to be tough, because Bush has so much money in the bank. They're going to be able to define him on their terms. They're going to start later this week. They're going to be defining President Bush on their terms. But I think soon you're going to see the pivot towards Kerry and it's going to be very tough.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Doug Hattaway, if you're John Kerry, what do you do? I mean that's a pretty steep mountain to climb as Scott describes.

HATTAWAY: Yes, the money is the toughest part of it. I think the Democratic side has a big job to do to keep the focus on Bush's record and his dismal record on the economy. The challenge that Kerry has is mostly in the free media, and in countering all these attacks that are coming his way from the Republicans with counterattacks.

They've done a really good job of that. You've actually seen Bush on the defensive, who is the incumbent coming into this election year. He should not be back on his heels but he is. And the Kerry campaign's done a great job with that. I think the big challenge, as Scott said, is all the money that's going to be focused on trying to define Kerry in a negative way.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, both of you. Scott Reed, vice presidential pick? Does it matter if John Kerry goes to the Midwest, the south or what?

REED: Well, it does matter, because you have to -- he has to figure out how he's going to win. It's a little premature. Probably it will take until about April until they begin to recognize what type of shape they're really in, how they came through this campaign. Edwards makes some sense. I don't know if he helped himself yesterday. But the fact is, Edwards -- the amazing thing about this is that the Kerry campaign has been putting out all this information that Edwards can't even carry his own state of North Carolina. It doesn't make much sense to me because you'd think Edwards comes out of this a big winner as Doug just said. He could do well in the Midwest. He'd make some sense. WOODRUFF: Doug Hattaway, what about that?

HATTAWAY: Well, I think this election is going to be really close. It is going to make more of a difference than it usually does who the VP pick is. I've heard a lot of folks talking about the fact that we have got to win Florida. And looking at Bob Graham, who ran and even Bill Nelson who is currently a senator from Florida not just any southerner, but that one state that we have to win.

Other than that, there's a lot of parlor games going this time. I think Kerry probably likes the fact that we're sitting here trying to guess who his VP would be. But it's a little early to see the battleground.

WOODRUFF: It is early but we never stop talking about it. A lot of that examination between the relationship between Kerry and Edwards. We'll be talking about that, weeks to come. Scott Reed, Doug Hattaway, great to see you both. Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Judy.

The Democrats cannot focus all their attention on November just yet. Coming up, more on Super Tuesday strategy with political analyst Ron Brownstein.

I'll also look at the history of Super Tuesday and how it came about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We keep reciting the Super Tuesday numbers. You want to remember them, ten states with 1,151 delegates at stake. CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" joins me now from Washington to talk a little bit more about the campaign. Ron, yesterday morning's debate in New York City, did it change anything?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Actually, joining you from Los Angeles. I thought the debate showed John Edwards as a dug-in, as Scott suggested, clearly needing to shape up the race. What we've seen Tuesday after Tuesday I think is proof of what should be an old truism in politics which is if you don't give people a clear reason to vote against the front-runner, most of them will vote for him.

And John Edwards has seen the truth of that come crashing down on him week after week. He sharpened arguments. He didn't really open new fronts. He broadened arguments, phrased it in more barbed terms. If he had done this a month ago and sustained it, it might have had more impact than at this point.

WOODRUFF: What is your reporting telling you, Ron, About Edwards' chances tomorrow? We talked to reporters a little while ago from Ohio and Georgia. What are you hearing?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's a simple and stark question facing John Edwards. One that should be almost self-evident in a Democratic primary. That is can he get more Democratic voters to vote for him. John Edwards this year has proved I think what we make call the McCain maxim after John McCain. Which is that it's difficult to win a party's nomination primarily by relying on the votes of people who don't belong to the party.

Edwards has stayed in this race largely on the strength of his appeal in many states to Independents and even Republicans. But Judy, in the ten states that have had exit polls, so far only in three of them has Edwards stayed within 17 points of Kerry among Democrats.

And as we look at the polling in states tomorrow like Georgia and California and New York you're seeing enormous advantages for Senator Kerry among Democratic partisans. Without changing that, I don't see how John Edwards can go on.

WOODRUFF: All right. If he doesn't go on, Ron, what is the effect that has on John Kerry? Or if he does -- I meant to say if he does go on.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think at this point there really isn't that much danger to Kerry. In fact many Democrats have felt that it's been good for the party to have the race continue, because both candidates, at least until yesterday, were focusing most of their fire on President Bush.

And also because John Kerry is being introduced to the country as a winner which I think is very important historically in these primaries as a way of getting that first notice of the country.

So if John Edwards gets out the race shuts off, the cameras go home. There are no more Tuesday night speeches, no more Wednesday morning headlines. The only question would be if Edwards is going to have a sharper tone towards Kerry, then there would be more pressure on him to get out.

For Edwards, too, there's a question. Look, he's come out of this a big winner. But if you stay at the party too long and all of a sudden you're someone who's losing 60-25 instead of someone who's performing well, that may tarnish his image, as well, in the long run.

WOODRUFF: If he were to get out, whether it's this week, next week or whenever, I'm going to ask you the same question I put to Scott Reed and Doug Hattaway a couple minutes ago. What does John Kerry do, if anything, to keep up the kind of momentum, the kind of publicity that you just mentioned that he's been getting winning these contests every Tuesday?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's a big challenge. It was a big challenge for Al Gore in 2000. He certainly sagged for much of this period as you know, Judy, after him clinching the nomination through to the convention. It's a long period.

I think in Senator Kerry's case he does have the opportunity to begin defining and flushing out his policy agenda. There's probably been less of a policy debate in this Democratic primary than any I've covered especially once Howard Dean was dethroned as the front runner. It essentially became about personal qualities and electablity.

So Kerry has a lot of room to try to make some news and keep the press focused by defining where he would take the country in greater detail than he has so far.

WOODRUFF: And doing it in a way that everybody's going to pay attention.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles. Thank you very much.

Well, the word Super Tuesday has gotten pretty familiar in these presidential election cycles. But the concept is actually a fairly recent development. Here's a quick look back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): March 1988, Super Tuesday is born. For Democrats of 20 state (UNINTELLIGIBLE) contest designed to boost Southern influence in the nominating process. The winner that year...

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), 1988 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And now we know why they call it super Tuesday, don't we?

WOODRUFF: You guessed it, a Yankee. The South rose again four years later when Bill Clinton swept the states.

BILL CLINTON (D), 1992 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is only tonight that I fully understand why they call this Super Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: Tennessee and Al Gore brought it home again in 2000.

AL GORE (D), 2000 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, they don't call it Super Tuesday for nothing.

WOODRUFF: But Super Tuesday never delivered on its Dixieland promise. This year, just ten states are up for grabs, only one of them below the Mason Dixon line. Four Southern states have their say next Tuesday, but probably won't have much of an impact.

So tomorrow won't be as super as it's been. Yet, it is the biggest one-day grouping of primaries in this cycle. And more people will vote Tuesday than on any other day this year, except the general election.

The prizes awarded also no small shakes, 1,151 delegates are up for grabs, 53 percent of those needed to snare the top spot on the ticket. And the biggest 24-hour haul of the nominating contest.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: One thousand, one hundred and fifty-one. You're going to know that number before it's all over.

Well, Hollywood is still abuzz about its Super Sunday. Up next, fashions may come and go, but is political commentary always in style at the Academy Awards?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Actor Sean Penn was criticized when he visited Iraq and for his vocal opposition to the war. So his reference to the conflict at last night's Academy Awards may have been less surprising than the fact that he overcame controversy to win for best actor.

And Penn wasn't the only celebrity with Iraq on his mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: If there's one thing that actors know, other than that there weren't any WMDs, it's that there is no such thing as best in acting. And that's proven by these great actors that I was nominated with.

BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: I first hosted the show 13 years ago. Things were so different then. You know how different it was? Bush was president, the economy was tanking, and we had just finished a war with Iraq. Isn't that amazing? Unbelievable, 13 years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Billy Crystal. He was in charge last night.

That's it for this Monday's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join me again tomorrow for a special expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll be back here in Atlanta as we look at the candidates' last-minute strategies. CNN's special coverage of the ten Super Tuesday contests begins tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Have a great 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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