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Kerry on Capitol Hill; Interview With Congressman Steny Hoyer, Congressman Roy Blunt

Aired March 11, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: On a day when our counting shows he's clenched the Democratic presidential nomination, John Kerry does damage control over some controversial comments.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks. I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country.

ANNOUNCER: Senator Kerry returns to Capitol Hill, but the Republicans are armed and ready.

REP. TOM DELAY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: To call people liars and crooks, and particularly thinking that you're off mike, just shows you who the real person is.

ANNOUNCER: Our last president weighs in on the current battle for the White House.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of us in our party have always tried to keep September 11 and the aftermath out of politics.



CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.

John Kerry returned to familiar territory today, plotting political strategy on Capitol Hill. His meetings were punctuated by a strong defense of his comments yesterday about Republican campaign attacks. And his remarks come as the Bush-Cheney team prepared to launch a New round of campaign ads, at least one of which takes a decidedly negative turn.

Senator Kerry's Capitol Hill visit allowed him to bask in his New status as unofficial party leader, and also provided a forum to address an ongoing controversy. Our Bob Franken has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the day that John Kerry wrapped up the nomination, the message of the day was supposed to be unity. He met with various groups of congressional Democrats and later was getting together with his former primary opponent, John Edwards. His problem the other day, the controversy over yesterday.

KERRY: These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Kerry, there is a controversy right now...

FRANKEN: Kerry walked tight-lipped all morning past beseeching reporters. Republicans were demanding an apology. Finally, just a short while ago...

KERRY: I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks. I think that these -- I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country.

FRANKEN: Issues were the order of the day in his various meetings with Democratic members of Congress. Sources quoted him in one session describing a Bush administration with "no agenda for this country, and every agenda for the most fortunate among us."


FRANKEN: Next, more party unity, when Kerry meets with Edwards. John Kerry meets with Edwards' supporters in the hope that he can make them active Kerry supporters -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Bob Franken.

In addition to defending the critical comments he made yesterday, Senator Kerry launched a preemptive strike against a New round of Bush-Cheney campaign ads scheduled to hit the nation's airwaves tomorrow. CNN has confirmed at least one of the ads criticizes Kerry by name. Kerry said the GOP should focus instead on what he calls the important issues.


KERRY: I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country. I understand they're going to start a series of attack ads on me tonight on three topics that have nothing to do with health care for Americans, nothing to do with jobs for Americans, nothing to do with education for our kids, nothing to do with cleaner air or cleaner water. Nothing to do with making America safer in this world.


CROWLEY: According to an advanced transcript obtained by CNN, one of the ads reads, "A president sets his agenda for America in the first 100 days. John Kerry's plan to pay for New government spending: raise taxes by at least $900 billion. On the war on terror: weaken the Patriot Act used to arrest terrorists and protect America. And he wanted to delay defending America until the United Nations approved. John Kerry, wrong on taxes, wrong on defense."

The New Bush ads will air on national cable networks, as well as local markets in 18 states.

Republicans on Capitol Hill did not allow Kerry's appearance or his comments to go unanswered. CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns is with me now for more on the GOP response -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Candy, congressional Republicans responded angrily today, using the opportunity to plow into John Kerry's reputation and his record.


JOHNS (voice-over): Virtually the entire Republican leadership gathered in the same room, at the same conference table, giving a warm partisan welcome back to John Kerry.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: If you ask me, he's getting off on the wrong foot in this campaign, name-calling. We're not lying when we start to say that Senator Kerry is the old-time Democrat in tax and spend.

JOHNS: The House majority leader followed up with a swipe at all Democrats.

DELAY: They haven't produced anything but hate. And that's what's very disturbing.

JOHNS: Senator Rick Santorum questioned Kerry's character.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: And to see the way he has responded to it I think provides some insight into the character of the individual that we're dealing with here. One of the things you think any politician who's been around here long enough to know is, when you make a mistake, you stand up and you take it, and you say, "I made a mistake and I apologize." And I haven't heard an apology from Senator Kerry.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: It is an election year. And to have the very offensive comments like the ones made yesterday, of lying and crookedness, really sets America back.


JOHNS: Senator Bill Frist also hit Kerry on his opposition to the Patriot Act, and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee hit him for failing to vote for certain key weapons systems.

Candy, back to you.

CROWLEY: National campaign comes to Capitol Hill. Joe Johns, congressional correspondent, thanks very much. As for the president, he's on Long Island this hour attending a groundbreaking for a September 11 memorial. We'll have more on his New York visit later in the hour.

Earlier, Mr. Bush traveled to Bay Shore, New York, for a discussion on the economy and job training programs. Mr. Bush said the economy has taken a lot of hits, but now it's on the road to recovery.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Marching to war is a negative thought. And if you're in the business world and you're trying to hire people or you're looking for work, it's not a conducive time to do so. Now we're marching to peace.

We took the tough decision, but now we're marching to peace. We've overcome a lot, and our economy is growing. We've got robust growth the last half of 2003.

Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Manufacturing activity is up. Homeownership is at the highest rate ever.


CROWLEY: On the increasingly sensitive issues of jobs and manufacturing, Mr. Bush's planned appointment of a so-called manufacturing czar has been put under review. The expected nominee is Nebraska businessman Tony Remando (ph). And the Kerry campaign has questioned his ties to a decision to move one of his company's operations to china.

A New national poll out today shows President Bush with a two- point lead over Senator Kerry. The NBC-Wall Street Journal survey has Bush at 47 percent, Kerry at 45. Two other national polls done at the same time show Senator Kerry on top. The ABC-Washington Post poll had Kerry leading 53 percent to 44 percent. CNN-USA Today-Gallup had Kerry on top 52 percent to 44.

The battle between John Kerry and the Republicans extends into cyberspace. Coming up, Kerry e-mails a counter-punch to a Republican jab about his meeting with Howard Dean.

And later, a congressional Democrat and Republican square off over the senator's crooked comments.

And at the top of the hour, President Bush and the memory of 9/11.


CROWLEY: Senator John Kerry appears to have clinched the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nomination. Counting the delegates he's already won in the primaries, plus super delegates CNN has contacted, we can account for 2,162 votes, exactly the number Kerry needs to win the nomination. Meanwhile, Senator Kerry's campaign has returned fire in an e- mail battle with the Republicans. Before yesterday's get-together between Kerry and former presidential candidate Howard Dean, Republicans sent out a collection of Dean quotes from the primary campaign trail all attacking Kerry.

Today's e-mail over Senator Kerry's signature says, in part, "During the primary campaign, much was made of the differences between Howard and I, but here's the truth: we have plenty in common. And it begins with a vision to change this country."

Refusing to apologize, coming up next. Senator Kerry's sticking to his guns over his "crooked" remark. We'll get reaction from both the House majority and minority whips.

ANNOUNCER: Checking our political history book, on this day in 1984, Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale introduced his campaign battle cry in a debate with opponent Gary Hart.


WALTER MONDALE, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I hear your New ideas, I'm reminded of that ad, "Where's the beef?"


ANNOUNCER: The slogan helped Mondale clinch his party's nomination, but he lost in the general election to President Ronald Reagan.


CROWLEY: More now on Senator Kerry's offhand remarks yesterday in which he described Republicans as "crooked." We're joined by House Republican whip Roy Blunt and House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being there. And together even.

I want to start out with you, Congressman Hoyer, and just ask you what you think of this "crooked" remark. I'm assuming you think the Republicans have overblown it.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MINORITY WHIP: Well, I think that Adam Clymer of The New York Times, when referring to George Bush's remark about him, would probably say, that happens. Clearly, he was referring to a negative campaign which is beginning now.

It is interesting that previous presidents haven't mentioned their opponents until far into the race. But I think they're very worried about John Kerry, as they out ought to be. And the negative campaigning is starting tonight, paid where foe the Bush-Cheney campaign, and they want to divert attention from the real issues that America's confronting.

CROWLEY: Congressman Blunt, I don't think I even have to ask you a question -- go. REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MAJORITY WHIP: It's hard to think you'd have to ask a question on that. It's unfortunate that, whether that's a private comment or a public comment, that that's the way that John Kerry wants to characterize those on the other side.

You know, Steny and I and our colleagues debate every day. I hope this can be a debate about the issues. I hope we get away from the name-calling.

I hope if we say something unfortunately that we intended to be a private comment that turns out to be public that the right kind of thing is done, that somebody says "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that," or "Here's what I meant to say." "If anybody thought I meant more than that, they misunderstand what I'm saying," and move on.

This can be a campaign, should be a campaign about the issues. We're more than willing to talk about our record in the House, and the president's record. And we're also willing to talk about John Kerry's record. Every time we do that, suddenly there's a discussion that somehow your record is either -- it's unpatriotic to talk about your record, or your record should be off limits. I don't think anybody who has a voting record believes that or thinks that's reasonable.

CROWLEY: Congressman Hoyer, let me get you back in on this, only because, you know, I think when you listen to the stump speeches and when you see the ads, this is very heated on both sides very early, would you not agree?

HOYER: I think that's the case. And I think it is because Americans want change. It's clearly voted for change. It's clear the polls reflecting they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

They want to change that. They believe that jobs are a critical problem in this country. They believe the education system is not being invested in as it should be. And they believe their health care costs are rising very quickly. And they're concerned about all of those real issues.

I agree with Roy Blunt. This election ought to be about the issues. This election ought to be about the future.

And I think what John Kerry represents is a fairness, a commitment to families, a love of country, a courage that he's displayed in the past, and a courage that he's displayed throughout his public career. So I think his record certainly is going to be an issue.

CROWLEY: Let me...

HOYER: And George Bush's record is going to be an issue. But what is really going to be an issue is which candidate's going to lead America in the direction it wants to go. I think that's what they're going to make their decision on.

CROWLEY: Generally, Congressman Blunt, let me just ask you, there you are side by side, you look like you don't hate each other. What are the prospects that in this election year, which is already boiling at the national level, that you all can get anything done up there? Or is it just going to be a lot of parrying?

BLUNT: Well, we're going to work hard to get things done. We need to get our work done, keep the government moving forward. We've got a lot of issues out there.

I just had a coalition meeting on the Charitable Giving Act that we passed out of the House last year. I think it was over 400 "yes" votes. The Senate was 95-5. It's being held up by leader Daschle in the Senate because he doesn't want to go to conference on issues that don't have anything to do with this bill.

This is a huge bill; there are many other examples of that. I think we can get those things done. Our budget's going to lay out the blueprint for that, and we need to move forward and have a debate on the issues.

Certainly, the things that Steny mentioned. Congressman Hoyer -- we are good friends and we work closely together. We don't agree a lot of the time. But the kind of campaign we need to have is one on the issues.

For months now, the country's been told -- and you've seen this because you've been covering this primary -- that all the problems that Steny mentioned are out there, it's time for the president to come back and make the case of how far we've moved in both securing our future economically and from terrorism. He's going to make that case well, and we're prepared to make it with him.

CROWLEY: Congressman Hoyer...

HOYER: We certainly haven't done much to date. We named a couple (UNINTELLIGIBLE); we've done some other things. But frankly, we find the Republican Party in gridlock and deep division.

They were supposed to report out the budget document today. They adjourned the hearing. Tom DeLay has now taken them back in. Maybe he'll get them back together. But they're deeply divided.

CROWLEY: But aren't you proving my point, Congressman Hoyer, that you all -- you know, I think the public sits out there and says, good grief, you know, these people are going to sit up there and blame each other for not moving anything. Is there anything important to the country that you all think you can get done this year?

HOYER: Candy, I would hope so. Because there's some important things we need to do. But they're not being brought forward on the agenda. And it is because the Republican Party's deeply divided.

Let me give you an example. The highway bill, we need to reauthorize the highway bill. It's a jobs bill. It can create a lot of jobs.

We want to see this country invest in jobs. We were supposed to pass it by October 1. Republicans delayed it because they didn't have agreement between the White House, Senate, and themselves. Not between Democrats. So what you've seen is delaying occurring from divisions within the Republican Party.

And Roy, with all due respect, I want to speak to Tom Daschle. The reason, Roy, as you well know, that Tom Daschle is holding up that conference is because we were shut out of the Medicare conference, where Chairman Dingle and Chairman Rangel, two ranking members on the committees, weren't even invited to the conference.

BLUNT: Reny, I just don't think the American people...

HOYER: Nor was Tom Daschle. That's what we're talking about.

BLUNT: I don't think the American people understand or appreciate that. That had nothing to do with this important bill.

We are going to get work done. We had a good year last year. We had a better year on the House, obviously, in getting our agenda moved forward than they had in the Senate. And we're going to work hard to do that again and challenge our friends on the other side of the building to work with us and get things done for the country.

CROWLEY: Congressmen, thank you both so much. We're going to have you back in a couple of weeks and see what you've accomplished.

House Republican whip Roy Blunt, Democratic whip Steny Hoyer, thank you both so much.

HOYER: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: The images of September 11 in TV ads for President Bush have caught the eye of former President Bill Clinton. His thoughts are coming up in the "Campaign News Daily."

Also, remember the flap about White House sleepovers for Clinton contributors? Guess who's sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom these days?


CROWLEY: Checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily," former President Bill Clinton is weighing in on the use of September 11 imagery in Bush campaign ads. Mr. Clinton indicated he has some reservations about the decision.


CLINTON: When you raise an issue, then you have to -- it opens the issue in a way that -- you know, we've -- all of us in our party have always tried to keep September 11 and the aftermath out of politics. And it's been put back in politics.


CROWLEY: Introductions steeped in high praise are standard fare on the political circuit, but Democratic Senator Zel Miller's 2001 introduction of his colleague John Kerry now has an ironic twist. Miller recently criticized Kerry and all the Democratic hopefuls in the new book. He has also announced plans to campaign for President Bush this fall.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miller saw Kerry in a different light when he introduced him at a Georgia Democratic Party dinner three years ago. Miller praised Kerry for his efforts to strengthen the military and reform education, and he went on to call Kerry, "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's great leaders." Once he took the lectern, the paper reports Senator Kerry praised Miller, the Democrat now supporting a Republican president, as "the face of our party."

Be careful what you say.

Our next stop is New York, where President Bush is talking about, among other things, September 11.

Also coming up, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile weigh in on the early state of negative ads and name calling in the presidential race.

Later, in a year crowded with elephants and donkeys, what kind of animal should an Independent look for?



ANNOUNCER: The politics of September 11.

NARRATOR: And some were like no others.

ANNOUNCER: Tricky ground to tread for the commander in chief, who's in New York today at a 9/11 memorial.

One nation, two Americas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're segmenting in all sorts of ways. We move to places where we find people basically like ourselves.

ANNOUNCER: Across the country, the cracks are showing in churches, coffee shops, and, yes, in voting booths, too. Bill Schneider puts it all together.

And we'll tally up the sleepovers in the Bush White House, where the Lincoln bedroom has seen some heavy traffic. We'll tell you who's been settling in for the night.



CROWLEY: Welcome back. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.

President Bush is in New York this afternoon, taking part in the groundbreaking for a new memorial for victims of the September 11 terror attacks. Here in Washington, there's word that the Bush team is launching its second big ad campaign beginning tomorrow.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is with the president in East Meadow, New York.

Suzanne, what can you tell us about this new ad campaign?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, these ads should be released within a couple of hours. At least some of the excerpts of these ads. And what we've been told through some of the Bush aides, the campaign aides, is that essentially this is a time, a very unique window when people are paying very close attention to the ads on television. So that's why they want to put them out as quickly as possible.

It's a second round. One of them is portraying President Bush talking about his record, and the war on terror, as well as the economy, progress that's being made. The other one they're calling a contrast ad. Some would look at it as a negative ad which portrays what it would be like, they say, if Senator Kerry was in office for the first 100 days.

They also, of course, are not making any apologies about the first round of ads that were used that did create some controversy. Some of those images of 9/11 that were used, they say that they believe these images, of course, teach people, remind people that this was a difficult time for the American people. And that the president acted in a way that demonstrated his leadership. They're going to continue to use those ads in rotation, as well -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about this 9/11 groundbreaking in Nassau county. What are the circumstances under which he's there today?

MALVEAUX: Well, as you know, of course, that also creates somewhat of a controversy, as well. They reported that there wouldn't be a lot of protesters. There were a lot of complaints even before the ceremony. This is something where Nassau county firefighters as well as New York officials and family members from 9/11 have gathered.

It's a groundbreaking ceremony to start this construction project that they hope is finished by September 11. President Bush involved in this ceremony, very quiet and low-key. But there were complaints that this, because it's back-to-back with a fund-raiser that's happening later this evening, that it was just inappropriate, that they were exploiting the tragedy of the situation.

But the people who have organized this memorial, as well as the White House, say that this fund-raiser, the campaign fund-raiser was set in the schedule way before this memorial was. And that when people realized he was going to be in town here in East Meadow in Long Island, they decided to invite him to participate. And that is why he is here. The White House says that, of course, it is very fitting that the president recognize the families, the victims, and the tragedy of September 11. They don't think it's inappropriate at all -- Candy. CROWLEY: Thanks, Suzanne. We should probably point out, too, that the county executive in Nassau county is a Democrat. The man who invited him. Thanks very much.

On Capitol Hill, the president's Democratic rival John Kerry blasted word of the new Bush ads. Kerry returned to the Hill for meetings with house and Senate Democrats for a show of unity. And to plot party strategy. Senator Kerry also refused to back away from yesterday's comments describing some Republicans as crooked.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks. I think that these -- I think the Republicans need to start talking about the real issues before the country.


CROWLEY: Later this evening, Senator Kerry will join his one- time rival John Edwards at an event for Edwards' top fund-raisers. The event will give Kerry a chance to cultivate new sources of campaign cash, and offers another chance to display a unified party.

White House sleepovers. Remember the flap over all those friends, including big donors, the Clintons invited to spend the night when the White House was their house? Well, ditto for President Bush, who has also had friends and donors spend the night. Our Bruce Morton has the story.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who slept here? Well, they were just friends, of course, old pals from Texas, or maybe Yale. The Bushes have invited at least 270 people to sleepovers during their three-plus years in the building. Including some big contributors. And yes, some stayed in the Lincoln bedroom. But hey, they were friends first. The Associated Press quoted one old Yaley, "friendship comes first, donations come second." Which makes perfect sense. Not a lot of glam names on the Bush list. Golfer Ben Crenshaw (ph) is about it. Fat cats? Misuse of the building?

STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: These are the folks, when you look down the list, who went to kindergarten with him and played Little League ball, and were his fraternity brothers. So the moral of the story is sure, journalists dig deep and then sometimes they conclude that, like Richard Stein (ph) said about openness, no there there.

MORTON: The Clintons? Well they had all those coffees which were fund-raisers. Sleepovers, between July 1, 1999, and August 31, 2000 when Hillary Clinton was running for the Senate, 404 slept over. And some of them were contributors, gave her campaign (UNINTELLIGIBLE) roughly $600,000. There were lots more celebrities. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Actor Steven Spielberg, actress Meg Ryan, actor Danny Devito, newsman Walter Cronkite, and newsman Rick Kaplan who used to work here and dignitaries like the king of Spain. But hey, they were mostly friends.

The White House lists Arkansas friends and longtime friends and friends and supporters. It was a friendly place, apparently. Then and now. And some of them stayed in the Lincoln bedroom. Lincoln didn't, of course. It was his office. The Oval Office and the West Wing hadn't been built then. He worked in the room, signed the Emancipation Proclamation there in 1863. Franklin Roosevelt went one step past sleepovers, some of his staff lived in the White House. The last time the president has done that. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: As if the presidential race wasn't rough enough, the Bush/Cheney campaign is about to release some new tough ads. Coming up, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile take issue over the '04 campaign.

Later, Bill Schneider looks across the great divide. Plus, Democrats have donkeys and Republicans have elephants. What kind of animal does an Independent from Vermont relate to?


CROWLEY: You are looking at a groundbreaking event, a 9/11 groundbreaking event in Nassau county, New York. The president invited there by the people putting together this ceremony. Nassau county lost nearly 300 people in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The president, we are told, was asked to come after the Democratic county supervisor learned that the president would be in New York for a fund-raiser. There will be some digging of the dirt here as they begin this memorial. Again in Nassau county, the president attending. So good time to bring you all in. Bay Buchanan, Donna. How are you?


CROWLEY: Good to see you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

CROWLEY: OK, 9/11 and the imagery of 9/11. Anything wrong with those pictures we're seeing?

BRAZILE: Right now, absolutely not. In his official capacity as the president of the United States, to attend a memorial service, to break dirt, to put forward a memorial, that's something he should do. But to use it in an ad for political gain, partisan political gain, that's inappropriate.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: He's doing absolutely the correct thing, showing enormous respect for the loss that this county has faced. And 9/11, and he's the guest there. So he's doing absolutely the correct thing. But it's interesting, the Democrats say he shouldn't use 9/11 in his ads. Yet they constantly say he should run on his record. His record is very much so defined by 9/11. That was a defining moment of his presidency. So certainly that's something that he has every right to talk about. It's what really set him apart from other presidents.

BRAZILE: It's about taste. It's about taste. You could do it without having a flag-draped coffin coming out of the ashes, the rubble of 9/11. Don't exploit the death, the tragedy, the sacrifice of 3,000 Americans. Use it -- today, there's an appropriate use, the ads were inappropriate.

BUCHANAN: And then you agree, though, there's only one ad that used the coffin, the other ones did not. So you think those were totally appropriate? It's just the one coffin you have a problem with?

BRAZILE: I agree with the 54 percent of American people who thought it was inappropriate.

CROWLEY: How much of that 54 percent were moved on by the Democrats? You know by saying oh, my God, this is terrible, this is terrible. I mean if nothing had been said, do you think there had been some groundswell that that was a tasteful or untasteful commercial?

BRAZILE: I think they were moved on by the families of the victims of 9/11. They were moved on by the people who -- the first responders, the firefighters.


BRAZILE: ... the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. They were moved on by their own sense of what's right and what's wrong. And that's what -- I think that's what happened.

BUCHANAN: The Democrats are sitting and waiting. Every time this man makes a move they're ready to criticize him, to find some angle they don't like, to try to put him on the defensive. And that's what they did. They were waiting for those ads and jumped right on it.

And, Candy, you're absolutely right. They're the ones that moved those polls, but the president stands by those ads.


BRAZILE: ... finally did something to move the polls?


BRAZILE: I'm surprised.

CROWLEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm just wondering like where's that line? I mean, inevitably aren't Democrats and Republicans going to argue about the line of taste here?

BRAZILE: Right. That line is a very -- it's a very thin line. He was commander in chief. It happened on his watch. But the American people came together. We came together to share not only tears, but also to talk about the enormous sacrifice, and our resolve to fight terrorism. We didn't come together just to elect Republicans. We came together to defeat terrorism.

BUCHANAN: These are bio-ads. These ones that talk about what he's accomplished, his record...


BRAZILE: Where was Dick Gephardt? The two men who stood by him, shoulder to shoulder?

BUCHANAN: Why would he need to bring those in? He's talking about why the American people should, indeed, reelect him. He's done a fine job. He's been a terrific commander in chief. That's key to this. The war on terror continues. You need a strong commander in chief and he's saying I'm that person. He has every right to do that...


BRAZILE: ... blame Bill Clinton, blame the Democrats. But on September 11 that's when the Bush presidency began and end on that day?

BUCHANAN: You want to talk about taste, then you better have a conversation with your candidate, Mr. Kerry, who feels free to call this administration and Republicans "crooks and liars" without any kind of defense whatsoever. That is irresponsible and that is very damaging to your candidate.

BRAZILE: I don't know if Mr. Kerry called the president or his administration crooks. But to paint the Republicans and their allies as very, you know, crooked, I think that's open for debate and discussion. The GOP attack machine...


CROWLEY: What is it that the Republicans, whatever Republicans we're talking about, or John Kerry was talking about, what is it that they've done that's crooked?


BRAZILE: But look, the Republican Party has attacked Democratic values, Democratic principles, Democratic leaders. Unpatriotic. They've, you know, said that we're godless, that we won't stand up for America. Look, they attacked Voinovich and Snowe when they disagree with the president on the tax bill. Max Cleland? Remember Max Cleland down in Georgia? They attacked Max Cleland...

BUCHANAN: On issues. I don't remember this Patriotism angle. They're saying, listen, this is the way he's voted. And Democrats then say oh that suggests I'm unpatriotic. Just because you all want to define it that way doesn't mean that's what it was.

We argued that John Kerry is weak on defense. That doesn't mean he's unpatriotic. But we feel that he was not...


BRAZILE: ... also called him French.


CROWLEY: I want to read something. There's a new ad coming out tonight, it's a Bush/Cheney ad which says, "A president sets his agenda for America in the first 100 day. John Kerry's plan for to pay for new government spending, raise taxes by at least $900."

The ad goes on. "On the war on terror, weaken the PATRIOT Act used to arrest terrorist and protect America."

And the ad says, "Kerry want to delay defending America until the United Nations approves. John Kerry, wrong on taxes, wrong on defense."

Cheap shot, fair, personal?

BRAZILE: Look, the Kerry campaign should expect that ad and many other ads like that. I believe they should respond and say, here's what is happening. This president misled us to war. Where are the weapons of mass destruction? He has put us back into deficit. Where's his plan to grow us out of deficit? He's misled us on issue after issue. Broken his promises on education.

So if that's what they have, let's get it on.


BUCHANAN: Absolutely fair. Those are issues, very legitimate issues, the ones that are concerning the American people. And basically what the Bush campaign is trying to define John Kerry for who he really is. That's how he's voted. That's who John Kerry is.

BRAZILE: And he can defend his votes on those issues. This is a guy who supported...


BRAZILE: ... supported the troops in the field, the veterans at home. This is a guy who will not give tax breaks and giveaway to Halliburton.

CROWLEY: OK, next time you get the last word. But I've got to go. I love this because I never have to say much. Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, thank you all so much.

BRAZILE: You're welcome.

BUCHANAN: Sure, glad to be here.

CROWLEY: Red states, blue states and the race for the White House. Coming up, our Bill Schneider looks at the deep divide between the liberals of the blue states and the conservatives of the red states. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The bitterly contested presidential election four years ago drew sharp focus to a divided nation. The so-called blue states of Al Gore versus the red states of George Bush. It remains so today, but it's by no means a recent development. Our Bill Schneider looks at the origins of this great divide and how it's evolved over the years.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): November 7, 2000, Bush v. Gore. Two Americas, red and blue, evenly split, bitterly divided.

Since then, the United States has experienced a devastating terrorist attack, two wars, a recession, and a wave of corporate scandals. So where is the country now politically? It's still November 7, 2000. Two Americas, red and blue, evenly split, bitterly divided.

The roots of that division go back 40 years to the cultural civil war of the 1960s. Liberal America v. Conservative America.

DAVID BROOKS, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": It started in the '60s. You liked bra burning or you liked buzz cuts. So people who were on the buzz cut brigade in the 1960s, they like Bush and hate Clinton. People who were on the hippy side of the '60s like Clinton, hate Bush.

SCHNEIDER: In the '60s the conflict was on the streets. Now it's at the ballot box. Republicans and Democrats don't just represent different political positions, they represent different lifestyles.

JOHN KENNETH WHITE, PROF. OF POLITICS, CATHOLIC UNIV.: It's two music cultures, if you will. Those that like country music and those that like hip-hop. It's two very different religious cultures. Those that go to church and those that don't.

SCHNEIDER: Since the '60s, politics has become more and more about values, not just government. One reason the values divide has persisted, is that the two cultures have moved apart, literally.

BROOKS: We're segmenting in all sorts of ways. We move to places where we find people basically like ourselves.

SCHNEIDER: Liberals in Blue America, conservatives in Red America.

Kennesaw, Georgia, the heartland of Red America. Once a small town, now a fast-growing suburb 25 miles outside of Atlanta. A two Wal-Mart town. It's a place with a powerful sense of history. Southern history.

Kennesaw was a Confederate stronghold and the confederate battle flag still flies proudly in the center of town. Here's Marilyn Gilhuly, author and local Republican activist.

MARILYN GILHULY, AUTHOR, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: I'm a member of the DAR and a member of other organizations, that cherish American history. And 22 lineal and collateral ancestors fought for the south and one great-grandfather fought with the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry.

SCHNEIDER: People here are comfortable with guns. Kennesaw made news in 1982 when the city council unanimously approved an ordinance requiring every household to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition. If Kennesaw has a lifestyle you could describe it in one word, faith. Just ask the mayor.


SCHNEIDER: Last year the Kennesaw city council passed a resolution supporting religious displays in public buildings like the ten commandments.

CHURCH: We're not talking religion, we're talking God, not religion. But don't tell me I can't talk about it. You know, you talk about who you want, that's fine. That's what you want to do, that's fine. But don't tell me I can't and don't suck me in to your unbelief.

SCHNEIDER: Churches are everywhere in Kennesaw.

GILHULY: The churches have given people a sense of community. It's a gathering place of people who feel the right way about life in the country. This is a very patriotic area.

SCHNEIDER: In 2000, George W. Bush carried 64 percent of the vote in Kennesaw. Compare that with the parallel universe of Bethesda, Maryland, where Al Gore took 64 percent of the vote. Bethesda is deepest blue America. It's just outside Washington, D.C. Longtime civic activist Pat Baptiste and her friends in Bethesda certainly have a different view of government than the people in Kennesaw.

MEREDITH WELLINGTON, MONTGOMERY CO. ZONING & PARKS COMMISSIONER: I have lived here for 25 years. I have never heard people complain about our taxes. Our taxes are high.

SCHNEIDER: And a very different view of President Bush.

WELLINGTON: I think he's perceived as one of the most dangerous presidents we've had in a very long time.

SCHNEIDER: And in the heart of Bethesda you'll hear a rather different view of guns.

PAT BAPTISTE, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: The biggest gun issue here is whether we should hire sharpshooters to try to cull the deer herds. And there are people who don't want guns used by sharpshooters in control situations. So that's pretty extreme. We don't want guns doing anything. SCHNEIDER: Religion has a different meaning in Bethesda than it does in Kennesaw. Less faith, more social justice.

BAPTISTE: The attitudes towards poor people, towards people without medical insurance, towards social issues, it's a social issue orientation to religion in the county.

SCHNEIDER: People here do have a deep and abiding faith in one thing. Education. Bethesda has the most highly educated voters in the United States.

BAPTISTE: The schools are wonderful. And people are prepared to pay whatever it costs to have their schools first rate.

SCHNEIDER: There's a European-style downtown with cafes, bookstores, art theaters, and highly specialized boutiques.

DENISE GRAYBILL-DONOHUE, OWNER THREE DOG BAKERY: This is a gourmet bakery for dogs.

ROGER SCHEUMANN, CEO, QUARTERMAINE COFFEE ROASTERS: We certainly do huge business in cappuccinos, lattes. In the summer when it's hot, cafe frappes.

SCHNEIDER: Lattes and guns, Walmarts and dog bakeries, Bethesda and Kennesaw, the great values divide. But what do they really have to fight about? The answer, presidents. Bill Clinton was the first president to come out of the liberal culture of the 60s. While his policies were popular, his values tore the country apart. Conservatives were consumed with Clinton hatred. September 11 was supposed to end that division. It didn't. The war in Iraq, the Patriot Act and George W. Bush's cultural conservatism have re-ignited the conflict. Bush hatred is now consuming liberals.

DAVID BROOKS, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": What's the same about the two hatreds is that neither side is willing to give the other the benefit of having good intentions.

SCHNEIDER: Two Americas, evenly split, and bitterly divided. Bill Schneider, CNN.


CROWLEY: The Republicans have an elephant, the Democrats a donkey but what about the Senate's only Independent? Here's a hint. It's stubborn and bull-headed. We're talking about the animal, not the senator. The answer when INSIDE POLITICS continues.


CROWLEY: We all face big decisions from time to time, but consider the one Jim Jeffords is grappling with. The former Republican from Vermont is now the Senate's only Independent. So come this summer, which convention does he go to, New York and party with his former party colleagues? Or to Boston, and dance with the Democrats? You sometimes think that one of the beauties of being an Independent is that you don't have to go to either one. In any case Jeffords is mulling this over but he has decided on an animal to represent him. The rhinoceros. Why a rhinoceros? Jeffords says it's because the rhinoceros is, quote, "stubborn and bull-headed." That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Judy is back tomorrow. I'm Candy Crowley. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


Hoyer, Congressman Roy Blunt>

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