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Interview With Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; The Florida Campaign

Aired March 19, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Defending Iraq one year later.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no neutral ground. No neutral ground in the fight between civilization and terror.

ANNOUNCER: How will voters see the war and the president in November?

John Kerry on spring break. Should he be out there defending himself against Republican attacks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to tell you who they are, because that would betray their position.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you, honestly?

ANNOUNCER: TV stars in the House. Remembering 25 years of cameras watching Congress.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this historic day, the House of Representatives opens its proceedings for the first time to televised coverage.



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

Exactly one year after he launched the war in Iraq, President Bush marked the day with a somber speech at the White House. No "mission accomplished" sign. No cheering troops like those who surrounded him yesterday in Kentucky. After New bombings in Iraq and a devastating attack in Spain, Mr. Bush was as adamant as ever that the war against Saddam Hussein was part of the broader battle against terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense.


CROWLEY: In San Francisco and several other cities, hundreds of Americans demonstrated their opposition to the war in Iraq and the president. More protests are planned across the U.S. and Europe tomorrow.

John Kerry issued a statement on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion, as he continued his vacation in Idaho. The Democratic presidential candidate praised the courage and skill of the U.S. military. But, again, Kerry accused President Bush of misleading the American people about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Kerry said, "Simply put, this president didn't tell the truth about the war from the beginning. And our country is paying the price."

Back at headquarters, the Kerry campaign has rejected any association with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed, who endorsed Kerry recently in a published interview. Kerry foreign policy adviser Rand Beers called Mohammed's anti-Semitic views totally deplorable. And, said Beers, "It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America's presidential election. John Kerry does not seek and will not accept any such endorsement."

Republicans are having a field day with Kerry's recent remark about unnamed foreign leaders who want him to defeat President Bush. The Republican National Committee has released a New Web video spoofing Kerry as an Austin Powers-like man of mystery.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allow myself to introduce myself.

KERRY: I have had conversations with leaders. I've also had friends of mine who have met with leaders. And I'm not going to betray the confidences of those conversations.



CROWLEY: The RNC says it's e-mailing that video to more than 400,000 Republican activists. The DNC responded to the video in the appropriate lingo saying, "That's quite groovy, baby, but we think the Bush cat is far more deserving of that man of mystery title because," the Democrats said, "it's a mystery how he'll win with his record."

Foreign affairs and military leadership are major issues in the presidential race a year after the start of the war in Iraq and less than eight months before the election. We want to talk about the race and today's anniversary with a key Bush ally and a fellow Texas Republican, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Thank you so much for joining us, Senator Hutchison. I appreciate it.


CROWLEY: Let's talk first about the war in Iraq, which I think is going to be seen over the next eight months as glass half full and glass half empty. At the moment, when you talk to your constituents, do you sense concern about this?

HUTCHISON: Well, of course, everyone is concerned about what's happening in Iraq. But I will tell you that the people I talk to believe that we are doing exactly the right thing by staying committed, by staying focused. And I think most people realize that you don't want a leader who is going both ways.

We have to have a clear foreign policy, and the war on terrorism is our highest priority. And we have a president who is clear-focused and clear-visioned in this area.

CROWLEY: Senator Hutchison, it seems to me that some of the polls show that Americans are conflicted about this war on Iraq, whether it had anything to do with terrorism, whether it is worth the price. Do you think that over the next eight months the American voter has the stomach for more American deaths, for seeing the kind of similar chaos that we've seen, as they try to bring some order and indeed hand over the country to the Iraqis?

HUTCHISON: I think we need to go back and make sure that the American people realize what President Bush was looking at when he made the decision to invade Iraq. He was looking at 9/11, where an airplane was used as a weapon of mass destruction, and he was looking at a leader that had the money and the capability and the history of creating much more horrible weapons of mass destruction and using it on our people. So the president was making the decision for the security of the American people.

Has it been very tough? Absolutely. But we have a president who is totally focused and knows that we cannot afford to lose this war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Because if we do, the terrorists will then have open season on America, on any European democracy, and anyone else who is trying to have freedom in their countries.

CROWLEY: Senator, I know that you know that Democrats have begun to worry aloud about the handover to some entity, to the Iraqis themselves, to the form of some entity at the end of June. Do you share some concerns about that? I know you have in the past.

HUTCHISON: Well, I think we need to see where we are then, because even the Iraqi Governing Council and the leaders there may want to step up and say let's hold off or let's take over, but will you stay and help us as we make this transition? There's no question that we have made great progress with the constitution that was just signed, giving freedom of religion in Iraq, the different sects will be protected, women's rights are protected. I think these are major steps in the right direction. And I think that things are coming together very quickly. But I think we will all -- the whole world and the global community will all come together to make sure that Iraq is a success and that the handover is at the right time.

CROWLEY: So you are leaving open the possibility that that handover may not happen at the end of June?

HUTCHISON: I think that -- I think we are going to go toward the goal of having that happen. But I think the U.N. here has been very helpful in saying that we need to make sure that the elections are fair elections before we take that step. So maybe we're not going to be right on course at that time.

But I think turning the power over is not the end. Turning the power over is a step. But we will be there as long as the Iraqi leaders want us there to maintain security as we are training the Iraqi police to take over all of the functions of their government.

CROWLEY: Senator, we're about 30 seconds from listening to the president coming out of Walter Reed Hospital. But I wanted to ask you, Senator Kerry says we need 40,000 new troops in the Army, 40,000 new recruits. Are we understaffed at this point in the Army's total? Yes or no, because I've got to go.

HUTCHISON: General Schoolcraft (ph), the head of the Army, has said that we're going to have 30,000 more on a temporary basis, and I support it fully.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much. And we really appreciate it, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

This is the president.

BUSH: ... for a couple of reasons. One is to meet the wounded who have made a decision to sacrifice for this nation's security and for freedom in the war. It is an honor to meet their parents or their wives, their children, the brave souls who support there loved one with all their heart. It's an honor to be with the doctors and nurses of this fantastic facility who are doing unbelievable work in helping bring these people back -- back on their feet, back into their communities.

One of the most important things for a commander-in-chief is to be able to say to a loved one, if your son or daughter or husband or wife gets injured, you'll get the best possible care as quickly as possible. Every time I come to Walter Reed it confirms that which I know, which is we're providing the very best. The best care, the best compassion. We're moving these soldiers from the battlefield to hospitals as quickly as we can so they can begin their rehab.

And it's fantastic to go upstairs. The spirits are strong. The attitudes are terrific.

Several soldiers told me today, badly injured soldiers, that they want to get well quickly and get back on their duty stations in Iraq. They want to serve our nation. It is so refreshing and great to be here.

I want to thank you, General, for your hospitality.


BUSH: Thanks.

CROWLEY: So, again, the president coming out of Walter Reed Army Hospital, where he has just visited with some of those who have been wounded in Iraq and come back home for rehabilitation. The president obviously wanting that to be the occasion to speak about only that.

We want to move on now, checking the headlines in our Friday "Campaign News Daily."

A new poll finds President Bush and Senator Kerry locked in a tight race in New Hampshire. The American Research Group survey gives President Bush 47 percent to Kerry's 45 percent. When Ralph Nader is added to the poll, he gets 8 percent, with Kerry losing six points.

Nader is heading to Bush country for a rally tomorrow in Texas. He plans to join a protest in Crawford near the president's ranch to highlight opposition to the war in Iraq. Nader is also trying to gather the 64,000 signatures required to get his name on the Texas ballot in November.

The Bush-Cheney campaign has released its latest fund-raising figures. Last month, the campaign brought in more than $13 million, $700,000 through the Internet. Overall, the Bush-Cheney campaign has raised more than $158 million.

The Bush camp will spend some of those big bucks on a big campaign rally tomorrow. Up next, as Mr. Bush prepares to return to Florida, the state's Democratic senators will join us to defend their turf.

Also ahead, John Kerry's idea of R&R. We'll tell you what he's up to now on his Idaho vacation.

And later...


HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't drag people around or tell them what to do in this. People can make up their own mind.


CROWLEY: ... what kind of influence does Howard Dean have over supporters now that he's trying to help elect Kerry as president?

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


CROWLEY: President Bush has scheduled a big campaign rally tomorrow in Florida. As many as 10,000 cheering Republicans are expected at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. And it also explains why we have asked the two senators from Florida to join us, both of them Democrats.

How are you all both today? I see Senator Graham, and then we have very near him Senator Bill Nelson.

Let me talk to you both first about Florida and the election. We all know about 2000. But you all now have a Democratic candidate who is -- has said, well, you know, sometimes we place too much importance on the South. You have a campaign that's shaping up as the battlegrounds being in the Midwest. Make me a case that he ought to spend a whole lot of time and money in Florida.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: Florida is the largest state, in terms of electoral votes, that is not already committed to one party or the other, Candy. So it is the big prize. It's highly competitive.

Bill and I are both Democrats, elected statewide to the Senate. The governor is Republican and has illustrative of that closeness. I believe that Florida is very winnable for John Kerry, and I anticipate that he'll make a major stand in this state.

CROWLEY: Well, Senator Nelson, winnable it does appear to be. But, you know what these campaigns are like. They begin to run out of money. And it looks as though the really key swing states will be in the Midwest, where he can get a lot more bang for his buck. And there's some suggestion he might not play as hard as you might expect in Florida.

SEN. BOB NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, at the end of the day, Florida is going to be close. But, Candy, the most recent polls are showing John Kerry ahead in Florida by six points, 49-43. So I think, just like 2000, at the end of the day, this is going to be the battleground.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to the subject of Cuba, which you can hardly talk about a Florida election without talking about the Cuban-American vote down there. Senator Kerry has been widely noted in the Florida press, said that he had voted for a bill that would strengthen U.S. sanctions in Cuba. In the end, he actually voted against that bill.

Senator Graham, is this kind of a thing beginning to be a bit of a problem for your candidate?

GRAHAM: No. There were two different bills.

The first bill, which we both voted for when it passed the Senate, was a strong sanctions bill against Cuba. When it got into the conference committee, they added some other provisions, which Senator Kerry felt, were objectionable, and so he voted no. It wasn't a case of changing his position, it was that he was asked to vote on two different propositions on the same subject.

CROWLEY: But you voted for both, did you not?

GRAHAM: I did, yes.

CROWLEY: So I would say that you then disagreed with him on that.

GRAHAM: On the final vote we disagreed. But Senator Kerry has had a very strong history of opposition to Fidel Castro, in contrast to President Bush, who came right here to Miami a couple of years ago and made a whole list of commitments of what he was going to do to help the political prisoners in Cuba, what he was going to do in order to ratchet up the international effort to restrain Fidel Castro economically and politically.

He's done virtually none of that. And, therefore, large segments of the Cuban community, which had been his base of support in South Florida, are now opposing him.

CROWLEY: Senator Nelson, I want to turn the corner with you on a different question that also came up in Florida and sort of beat this horse one more time. Senator Kerry said to some Florida donors recently about leaders that he'd met with that have said that they really want him to beat George Bush -- this being foreign leaders -- setting aside that it might have been or whether Senator Kerry should say who they are. Is that the kind of statement that is helpful to a sitting president?

NELSON: Well, I think it's a reflection of the truth. And if there's any question of that, just look at the popularity of American policies abroad. I have just come back from two lengthy overseas trips. And I'm telling you, they love Americans and they love America, but they don't love this administration's policies. And it's given us heartburn in our foreign relations.

CROWLEY: Senator, let me stick with you and just try to get a one-word answer or a sentence out of the two of you on the veep sweepstakes, as we call them.

Senator Nelson, your name is mentioned. Florida a big deal. Have you been in touch, or has anyone in the Kerry campaign been in touch with you asking for any information? Has that process started to seep out to those names that are be being mentioned?

NELSON: No. I've had no contact. And, of course, I would tell them, if they did, that the most distinguished public servant coming out of Florida is Bob Graham.

CROWLEY: Well, then, that leads me neatly to the last word in this interview, and that is, Senator Graham, have you spoken with anybody in the Kerry campaign about turning in any documents or anything to do with the veep selection?

GRAHAM: I have not, but I am confident that he's going to make the decision based on who he feels the American people will see as being presidential should it be necessary for them to serve, how he believes that individual could assist in achieving his administration's goals. And then, frankly, which vice presidential selection will allow him best to get to the 270 electoral votes required to be the next president.

CROWLEY: Senator Bob Graham, Senator Bill Nelson, democrats of Florida both. Who's watching the store back here? Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

NELSON: Thanks, Candy.

GRAHAM: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: John Kerry's Idaho vacation is shaping up as possibly relaxing, but not exactly restful. Senator Kerry put on his snow shoes and started his day with a hike up what's known as Endurance Peak, a mountain outside the resort town of Ketchum where he's staying.

Once Kerry reached the top, the senator snowboarded back down the mountain, though his progress was slowed by melting wet snow. The senator got in a lot of snowboarding yesterday as well. He had a minor collision with a Secret Service agent on the slopes.

The senator was not pleased. He later used an expletive to describe the agent who knocked him down. Some of the agents currently assigned to protect Kerry are usually based in Texas. We presume that winter sports are not their specialty.

Believe it or not, there was a time when TV coverage of Congress was taboo. That changed 25 years ago today. Coming up, Bruce Morton looks back at some familiar faces and a quarter century of C-SPAN.


CROWLEY: It's been a quarter century since a fundamental change took place on Capitol Hill. Bruce Morton looks back on the day Congress decided it was ready for its close-up.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty- five years ago today, speaker Tip O'Neill gaveled the House to order with cameras watching for the first time ever. A young Tennessee congressman made the first speech.

GORE: Mr. Speaker, on this historic day, the House of Representatives opens its proceedings for the first time to televised coverage.

MORTON: It took the Senate seven more years, until 1986, to open its doors, when Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who's still there, decided to let TV in.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: It is only through an informed public opinion that our nation's laws will be best, its prosperity enhanced.

MORTON: Has it changed things? You bet.

Before, if a legislator said something dumb on the floor, you had to ask him to go to a different room and say it again for cameras. Sometimes, though not always, they declined.

C-SPAN's cameras are the only ones there. Everyone else uses their video. The more basic effect, C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb.

BRIAN LAMB, C-SPAN FOUNDER: People who live far away from Washington, many who have never come to the capital city, can now see what the House and Senate looks like and can experience the very important informing function, listening to debate, watching hearings, being involved in how their money's being spent. I don't think anything else that we could talk about matters as much as that.

MORTON: Cameras used to stay on the speaker, but a Democratic speaker of the House changed the rules so viewers could see orations in an empty chamber. Orators fumed.

REP. ROBERT WALKER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: These cameras in this chamber are under the control of the speaker of the House. No one else controls the cameras.

MORTON: And C-SPAN re-channels now lots of stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're watching "American Politics" on C- SPAN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is "America and the Courts."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, from London, "Prime Minister's Questions."

MORTON: Hearings -- this was Iran-Contra. Call-in shows, angry voices. Reporter Andrea Mitchell was the target this day.

CALLER: I think it's horrible. And you are nothing but a group of cheerleaders for anything that is coming out of this administration.

LAMB: Our goal is to be able to show the public as many politically important events as we can get our cameras in front of, and to do it live.

MORTON: He estimates that about 10 percent of Americans, roughly 30 million people, are C-SPAN junkies. And the Congress, they like it.

REP. ROBERT NEY (R), OHIO: I rise here today in support of House Resolution 551, a bill honoring Brian Lamb and C-SPAN's cable satellite public affairs network for 25 years of service to the United States House of Representatives.

MORTON: It passed unanimously. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: The Bush-Cheney camp says Senator John Kerry is soft on defense. So why is Republican Senator John McCain saying something else? Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile are standing by to take issue on that question and more.

Also coming up, politics and the price of gas.



ANNOUNCER: One year after the start of the war in Iraq, the conflict is front and center in the race for the White House.

WESLEY CLARK (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a political issue. It's a rightful political issue in this campaign.

ANNOUNCER: After a number of campaign setbacks, has the Bush- Cheney reelection team finally got its groove back?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Wrong on defense.

ANNOUNCER: He's back. One month after ending his presidential bid, Howard Dean jumps back into the political process. What's he up to?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have an array of activities, one of which is supporting John Kerry for president.



CROWLEY: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley, sitting in for Judy today.

With John Kerry on the slopes in Idaho, it's mostly been left to his surrogates to put the campaign spin on today's one-year anniversary of the war on Iraq.

The man Kerry wants to defeat spoke for himself in a high profile, but relatively low-key speech in the East Room of the White House. The president says major bombings in Iraq and the major terror attack in Spain must be answered with deeper resolve and bolder action against the killers.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No nation or region is exempt from the terrorist campaign of violence. Each of these attacks on the innocent is a shock and a tragedy, and a test of our will.


CROWLEY: Senator Kerry issued a written statement urging the president to take the targets off the backs of U.S. soldiers. Some of Kerry's Democratic allies went before the cameras to challenge Mr. Bush.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FRM. NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think it's a great thing to call people together in the east room and given them a talk and thank them. But that's not the mechanism that's going to win the war on terror. That's going to require trust and consultation and work between nations in which we listen to them as well as they're listening to us.


CROWLEY: Clark again stated his belief that, despite what the White House says, the war in Iraq was not a necessary part of the war on terror.

The president's anti-terror platform may be getting a boost now that Pakistani forces say they've cornered hundreds of suspected al Qaeda fighters, possibly including the group's second in command. So what's the bottom line for the Bush camp? After a week of violence and volatility. We want to check in with our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Candy, all this year, President Bush has been taking a hammering from Democrats, and Republicans were dismayed. When is the president going to hit his stride, they asked? Now we know the answer. This week. What happened? "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): This week, Senator John Kerry went to West Virginia, a battle battleground state, to deliver a critique of President Bush's defense policy. The Bush campaign greeted him with a TV ad.

AD ANNOUNCER: Though John Kerry voted in October 2002 for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers.

SCHNEIDER: Kerry defended himself at the West Virginia town hall.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

SCHNEIDER: Which quickly made its way into a new version of the Bush TV ad. KERRY: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

AD ANNOUNCER: Wrong on defense.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe the quote was taken out of context.

KERRY: I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.

Because I voted for it, Joe Biden and I thought this. We thought since a lot of main mainstream regular folks in America were sharing a big burden of this war, that most of the families whose sons and daughters were called up in the Guard come out of the private sector where they're earning more money...

SCHNEIDER: OK. On Wednesday, Senator Kerry made this claim.

KERRY: And the administration stubbornly holds to failed unilateral policies that drive potential, significant, important, long-standing allies away from us.

SCHNEIDER: On Friday, President Bush gave his response.

BUSH: Among the fallen soldiers and civilians, our sons and daughters of Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan.

SCHNEIDER: This week, the Bush campaign got back in the game with "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: On the battleground right now, one key ally, Pakistan, is really delivering for the U.S. in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders. As vice president Cheney might say, big time -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks a lot. Bill Schneider, senior political adviser.

We have with us now former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. OK, year anniversary. How is it playing from your alls perspectives. I suspect diametrically opposite -- Donna.

DONNA BRAZILE, FRM. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I guess, if I lived in Peoria I would be saying our troops are doing a great job in Iraq and. Afghanistan. But I would also worry about this administration's plan to really get out of Iraq, our exit strategy. We still don't have an exit strategy. Over $150 billion spent, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al Qaeda, no nuclear connection as well.

So they have a credibility problem, but still we need to have an exit plan.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: You know, I think the American people feel that this was the right thing to do. They see that the Iraqi people were quite oppressed, and they really see that again -- once again, they have hope in their future. They have opportunity to really have self determination in that nation. And I believe the American people want that to happen.

So they're hopeful that Bush's plan of transferring the power to them is done in a way where we can support them, but we can turn it over to them. I think the American people are with George Bush on this entirely. I think it's very good for him.

CROWLEY: Donna, let me ask you can Democrats both claim that why don't we hand this over to someone else and criticize the June 30 deadline for handing it over is too early?

BRAZILE: Well, basically, they're handing it over without a real road map, a real plan to implement. We still have a situation over there where the vast majority of people don't understand who's doing what.

So I don't think they can just hand it over to the U.N., hand it over to some hand-picked leaders without giving them a credible plan and resources to help rebuild their country.


BUCHANAN: There is danger to the deadline. The last thing you want to see is them fail because we pull back too quickly. You want to give them that opportunity.

And I think, when you see 150,000 Iraqis now who have been trained, are now on the front lines defending their people in one incidence or another, as police or military, this is a good thing, you know. And the U.S. military pulling back, you have to give them that opportunity to do that. And defend their own nation.

And with the leaders, I think we have to push them. They're being hesitant. You have to drive them to say, look, you've got to take the reigns. You've got to try this out. But not to abandon them. I think the deadline is a good thing because I don't know they'll give themselves the necessary deadline.

BRAZILE: Only to have democracy flourish a little bit because the leaders that we've chosen may not be the leaders the people are interested in having implement the so-called...


BUCHANAN: You have to have Iraqis first and then have those elections come next. But you have to have Iraqis running (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CROWLEY: Let me move on to something I found intriguing, not nearly as important as this. But we had John McCain out there several days, first of all, standing out there for several hours that he might maybe entertain being No. 2 on the ticket with John Kerry, McCain being a conservative Republican. And now you had him literally sort of defending John Kerry on his defense record, which is the one thing the Bush campaign is going after him. What is John McCain up to?

BRAZILE: Look, John McCain told the truth. John McCain said that John Kerry is not weak on defense. John Kerry has supported over $1 trillion on spending on our military.

I don't know how you can call a man weak on defense when he's been strong on supporting our troops and supporting programs, weapons programs and others that will enable us to fight this battle.

BUCHANAN: But there's no question the record is battling Kerry. Clearly, the vice president and president are correct to suggest that John Kerry's record shows he's very weak on defense.

And all that John McCain is doing is he loves to be front and center and get himself some limelight. And he always manages to do that when he attacks or says something against the president. That's all this is about.


CROWLEY: Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, thank you. Come back.

The voice, the suit, even the crowds are the same. But this time around, Howard Dean is campaigning for a cause, not the nomination. He'll talk about it next.

Also coming up, Bob Novak has the lowdown on a race where the Democrats have high hopes of picking up a U.S. Senate seat.

You won't find the union label on some Bush-Cheney Web site merchandise, but what you do see is raising some eyebrows.


CROWLEY: Howard Dean back on the stump giving speeches to promote his new political movement, democracy for America. Earlier, I talked with the former governor about his hopes for the organization, his relationship with John Kerry, and his controversial comments about President Bush and the Madrid bombing.

First we talked about Dean's hopes that democracy for America will live beyond this political season.


DEAN: I hope what's going to propel it is the fact that the grassroots folks that we have worked with understand that they really do have not only the power, but the responsibility to make this work.

What typically happens in these things is that the person who's running, like me, doesn't win, fades away, and then the organization fades away. I want to keep this organization going. I think we can do that if we have specific goals, and we do have specific goals, which the other campaigns, the Perot movement and the McCain movement did not have after the candidates were not nominated.

CROWLEY: I was going to ask you about whether you have any way to gauge if those who supported you so passionately are still there with you and you are able to move them into the Kerry camp.

DEAN: You know, I don't drag people around or tell them what to do in this. People make up their own mind. We have an array of activities, one is supporting John Kerry for president. Those who not comfortable doing this, we encourage them to get active in local grassroots campaigns, run for office themselves.

But In the end, I am going to make a maximum effort to get everybody to vote for John Kerry. Ralph Nader's had a long and distinguished career, you unfortunately, a vote for Ralph Nader is essentially a vote for George Bush. And I don't think anybody wants that.

WATSON: Let me ask you about the famous list now. You probably have the most sought after list of first-time donors, first time into the political process donors. What happens to that list?

DEAN: It stays with Democracy for America, which is the...

CROWLEY: You're not going to give it to the Kerry people?

DEAN: We're not going to give it away to anybody. We will certainly use it, as we did with Congressman Jackson. I don't believe those people signed up to be solicited and spammed by every Democratic organization in the country.

So we won't rent it out. We won't sell it. We won't lend it to people. But we will use it on behalf of other candidates, and that includes Senator Kerry.

CROWLEY: You've got a group that you want to help clear the special interests out of Washington and still support senator Kerry, who you believe has been supported by special interests. How are you going to unsquare that circle?

DEAN: Well, I think, we concentrated in the primary campaigns on the things that divide. Now we're in the big dance, the dance to take back the White House. And I think we concentrate on those things we have in common.

Senator Kerry and I have a health plan that's almost exactly the same. And our folks want universal health care for every single American. Senator Kerry has a plan to do that. Senator Kerry is a committed defender of the environment. That's very important to our people.

Senator Kerry has a much stronger view on defense than the president. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this week when Dick Cheney and George Bush, who both managed to evade the draft by signing up for the National Guard and so forth and so on, attacking Senator Kerry who has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on defense. CROWLEY: Governor, you yourself did not serve in the military and still thought that you would be the best person to beat George Bush. Is that still the case to you? Do you cast doubt on whether you thought senator Kerry -- and, in fact, flatly said it at times -- you didn't think he could beat Bush.

DEAN: Senator Kerry and I were tough rivals, we're both tough competitors in the Democratic primary. The Democratic primary is over. John Kerry is the nominee of this party. He would be a far better president than George W. Bush, and I'm going to do whatever I can to get him elected.

CROWLEY: Is that the answer to is he electable?

DEAN: He is electable. He will be the next president of the United States if any of us have anything to do with it.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, do you plan to endorse Senator Kerry and when?

DEAN: I do. The timing is still under discussion, but it will be soon.

CROWLEY: And let me ask you about the statement that you made recently just the simple question, do you think that President Bush is responsible for the deaths of 200 Spaniards?

DEAN: Of course not. The terrorists were responsible for the explosions in Madrid. Don't be ridiculous. I didn't say so. The White House tried to pretend I did.

And I think the journalists ought to inspect what the White House says a little more carefully given the fact the White House has not been truthful about very many issues, including the fact they insisted that one of our civil servants refused to testify before Congress and tell them how much the Medicare prescription bill or the pharmaceutical insurance bailout bill really costs.

This is an administration that has trouble with the truth and I think reporters need to be a little bit more discerning before they go out and write silly stories like that.


CROWLEY: Former Governor Howard Dean.

Checking the headlines in our second edition of "Campaign News Daily." You may have noticed gasoline price as round the country are climbing, and that includes the so-called battleground states.

Among the 18 states considered November battlegrounds, eight have gas prices at or above the current national average of $1.73. In Florida, a gallon of regular unleaded costs $1.76. The average in Nevada is a little more than $2 a gallon.

At least one campaign item sold on the official Bush-Cheney Web site was made in Burma, a nation whose goods were banned from U.S. markets last year by President Bush. "Newsday" purchased a fleece pullover with the Bush-Cheney logo with a label that stated it was made in Burma.

The supplier for the Bush-Cheney campaign, the Spaulding Group, says only a handful of items in Burma were sold and says its vendor made a mistake by shipping goods not made in the U.S.

Earlier, we showed you the Republicans' online comparison of John Kerry to Austin Powers. Now it's the Democrats' turn. This video is now posted on the DNC Web site using a giant red balloon that rises from inside the White House. The video mocks President Bush for presiding over what it describes as a ballooning federal deficit.

John Kerry's comments about foreign leaders backing him have generated plenty of "Inside Buzz." Bob Novak has been listening and will tell us some of the fallout next.


CROWLEY: Hey, look who's here. Bob Novak. He's at the "CROSSFIRE" set, George Washington University, with "Inside Buzz."

So let's talk about our much-used Kerry line now about some foreign leaders supporting him.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You know, I've talked to several Democratic insiders, and they feel that Senator Kerry really ran a mistake-free campaign on his way to the nomination. But this was his first serious blunder, saying that a lot of foreign leaders supported him.

The trouble is the guys who have come out publicly for him, like the communist dictator of North Korea and the socialist prime minister-elect of Spain, and the very controversial president of Venezuela. They were not the people that John Kerry was talking about.

So he's trying to get himself off that issue, but I think it did catch him off stride.

CROWLEY: It probably needed a little rest, which he's getting at the moment.

Let's talk about that Illinois primaries. Looks like it's set up a pretty good general race.

NOVAK: Very interesting. Barack Obama, who won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in a surprise landslide, looks like a superstar politically. But I have to tell you one thing, he is an African-American. And that is still, in any statewide race anywhere, that's still a question mark.

Now Illinois has elected black candidates, one for the U.S. Senate, several for other statewide issues. But the politicians on both sides feel that Obama against Jack Ryan, the investment banker- turned-teacher on the Republican side, makes what would be considered a Democratic certainty into a competitive race although the Democrats are still favored.

CROWLEY: Now, here's the part of your notebook I loved the best. Don King of boxing fame is going to host a Republican fund raiser?

NOVAK: Yes, at his palatial mansion in Florida. It's still possible to go there. A couple need spend only $25,000 for the couple to get tickets. But you must hurry because they're only taking the first 25 tickets.

Now, you kind of were incredulous, Candy, about Don King being a Republican. He's not. He's a switch hitter, as we say. He goes both ways. He gave contributions to the past cycle to Dick Gephardt and Carol Moseley Braun running for president as well as President Bush.

But if you really want to see how the boxing promoters and the big people live, only $25,000 per couple. I hope I don't think I'm sounding like a shill, will get you two seats at Don King's table.

CROWLEY: I'll go if you pay. Bob Novak, I love your notebook. Thanks very much. See you next time.

A political link to Paul McCartney. Up next, the musical heritage of John Kerry's campaign plane.


CROWLEY: John Kerry has struck a little gold on the Internet. According to new figures just released by his campaign, the Kerry campaign, since January 1, has raised $20 million online.

Now, about that plane, it's not exactly Air Force One, but it will do. John Kerry headed off to Idaho this week on a Boeing 737, a plane once used by several names you already know. Before the Kerry campaign got the plane, it was used by former campaign rival John Edwards. Before it was used by Edwards, the jet was owned by former Beatle Paul McCartney. Now you know.

That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. I hope you'll join me this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern for "INSIDE POLITICS." Congressmen David Dreier and Harold Ford will be here to discuss the fight for the White House.

"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.



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