Return to Transcripts main page
JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Iraqi Prisoner Abuse: Bush on Damage Control; Interview With Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Olympia Snowe; Cinco de Mayo: The Hispanic Vote
Aired May 5, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to tell the people of the Middle East that the practices that took place in that prison are abhorrent.
ANNOUNCER: President Bush speaks directly to Arabs' outrage by prisoner abuse in Iraq. Will it ease the fallout overseas or at home?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: And it casts a pall of shame worldwide over what the United States says versus what it does.
ANNOUNCER: Ralph Nader sees himself as the antiwar candidate. We'll ask him about events in Iraq and his race for the White House.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Feliz Cinco de Mayo. How are you?
ANNOUNCER: Look who's celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Can John Kerry counter critics who say he's neglecting Latino voters?
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.
President Bush tried today to persuade people across the Arab world that he is as appalled by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners as they are. In back-to-back interviews with Arab language television outlets, the President acknowledged mistakes, but he stopped short of an outright apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I want to tell the people of the Middle East that the practices that took place in that prison are abhorrent and they don't represent America. They represent the actions of a few people. Secondly, it's important for people to understand that in a democracy, that there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Voters across the United States also are weighing the president's response to what happened in Iraq, as are lawmakers. Our congressional correspondent, Joe Johns, has the latest on the outcry and investigations on Capitol Hill -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, there is a tug of war going on, on Capitol Hill, right now to get Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld here to testify in a public hearing sometime tomorrow morning. One of the administration's greatest friends on Capitol Hill, John Warner, is demanding it. He talked about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I fully believe that the most constructive course of action at this point is to fully understand -- I repeat, to fully understand -- the extent of the problem no matter how much time it requires to gather all the facts, no matter how difficult and where we must go to get all of those facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: But CNN has been told that DOD officials are now doing things that are being characterized as trying to keep Donald Rumsfeld from taking the heat in a public hearing, things such as stalling for time, trying to push the hearing into next week, trying to have a closed hearing, or, in the alternative, an open hearing surrounded with officials from CENTCOM and the Department of the Army. Still, some Republicans on Capitol Hill say they are not so sure that Rumsfeld needs to come to Capitol Hill to talk about the issue of Iraqi abuses, at least right now. Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio among them.
Congressman -- sorry, we don't have that. Congressman Bob Ney's position essentially is that a lot of this controversy is endangering troops and creating more problems overseas for Americans than necessary.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to beat the drum on this issue. They were out on the Senate floor again today talking about it. A number of Democrats say all of the information about the Iraqi abuses needs to be put out into the public as soon as possible.
So this controversy continues to grow. The issue of the defense secretary coming here to Capitol Hill is an issue that is still being negotiated. And a number of senators say they'd like to see Donald Rumsfeld here on the record in public tomorrow morning. Now, Donald Rumsfeld has said that he has a speech in Pennsylvania tomorrow. However, a number of Republicans have said to them at least right now, that's not good enough.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: Joe, very quick clarification. Congressman Ney, who is a Republican, is saying this is endangering the troops by talking about this? JOHNS: Yes. He's saying that the media is making an overblown issue of something that had to do with a very few service members in Iraq which is being investigated. He's saying, while it is an important issue, he thinks it should go through regular channels and be handled, you know, with a uniform code of military justice. He says it's not necessary to continue dragging this out in public, at least right now -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns reporting from the Capitol.
And I want to let our viewers know, I'll be talking with the Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator John Warner, a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.
We also want to let you know we're waiting for live comments from John Kerry. He is in Los Angeles. He's going to be answering reporters' questions in just a few minutes. We'll be taking that live as well.
Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee did begin its closed-door hearings on Iraqi prisoner abuse just about one hour ago. I talked with two members before they went in, ranking Democrat Jay Rockefeller and Republican Olympia Snow. I began by asking Senator Rockefeller what questions he wants answered.
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We need to know what people knew. We need to ask what kind of training did the MPs have. We need to ask, did the military, as I understand they did, sent over people to investigate this when it happened last year, none of us knowing it at the time, or did they not? Why didn't they act on whatever those people recommended?
There's a series of things we have to do, but the main thing is accountability. And I'm not being partisan when I say this, but in something of this enormous gravity, which puts our soldiers at risk and our country even more at risk than it is today, somebody's got to step forward and take responsibility for this and resign.
WOODRUFF: Senator Snowe, what about you? What are your questions?
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, first and foremost, to ascertain the facts about the extent of their involvement, the military intelligence, and the entire community in these interrogations and these abuses. Because they obviously have tremendous repercussions on our credibility.
So we need to note extent of the problem. We need, as Jay indicated, to find out who was responsible. We have to hold them accountable and we have to bring them to justice. I mean, the bottom line is here, there was a tremendous breach in command structure and a failure of leadership.
WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller, already there seems to be some attempt to pass off blame here on the major general, the woman who was in charge of the soldiers at the prison. Is it going to be left at that, that the person on the ground is responsible, no one else?
ROCKEFELLER: I don't think at this point that we should leave it at that, but as Olympia properly points out, we have to find out exactly what the facts are. And that process starts in about 15 minutes in our intelligence committee hearing.
We need to -- I think we need to get Secretary Rumsfeld before the entire Senate, put him under oath, ask him questions. I mean, there's the people on the ground in the military. They tend to take orders. What about, you know, the commander, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff?
I mean, there are all kinds of things that we don't know yet, but we do know that one of the worst things that ever happened in American history, captured on photograph and potentially on video, is going to make our lives of our soldiers over there much more difficult and their chances for endangerment on the part of infuriated and humiliated Arabs and Islamists here in America. It's a very grave situation.
WOODRUFF: Senator Snowe, today, President Bush gave interviews to two Arab television networks, actually one of them run here in the United States. He called what happened abhorrent. He did not in so many words apologize. Is that going to be sufficient?
SNOWE: Well, I think the President obviously indicated in his message in the fact that he was speaking on Arab television that obviously this nation is indeed apologetic. We want to express in the strongest of terms how we view these atrocities and that they are represent reprehensible
So I thought it was commendable that the President did express it personally on television because I think that the entire world needs to know that America does not obviously endorse these kind of actions. You know, it's a reflection on us as a nation. And obviously, this not our values, this isn't the face of America. And it is not, obviously, a reflection of the men and women who are performing superbly in Iraq and around the world on behalf of the United States and on behalf freedom.
WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller, very quickly, what is all this going to mean for the U.S. mission in Iraq going forward?
ROCKEFELLER: I think it makes it even more difficult. I can't predict today, and I don't have any intelligence today, as to what has happened as a result of this. But I'm not sure it's sunk in.
I'm very happy and glad, as Olympia Snowe said, that the President went on television. I wish had he gone on Al-Jazeera, but on the other hand, maybe they didn't make themselves available to him. But I think this is worldwide in its implications.
Here we're talking about the war on terrorism in the deepest terms. We're not just talking about Iraq. We're talking all across the world.
WOODRUFF: Senator Snowe, are the American people owed some sort of an apology?
SNOWE: Well, I think that obviously when we come to terms with this, most certainly, because, you know, it's a breach of failure. And it's hard to understand what conditions would have led to such conduct, to be honest with you. And so, yes, they do, because this is obviously not America.
ROCKEFELLER: Judy, can I say one more thing?
WOODRUFF: Yes. Very quickly, Senator.
ROCKEFELLER: Very quickly. While this is being investigated, I think it's very important for the United States Congress to go on record with a resolution, with a Senate resolution, a House resolution in which we express our profound shock, outrage, et cetera, whatever the appropriate words are, because silence in the Arab world is an admission. And silence is saying we're guilty. And we need to say that we feel awful about it.
WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller added that a congressional proclamation or statement is necessary because, in his words, no one is stepping forward here in Washington and expressing outrage.
Well, faced with more than one embarrassment in Iraq, President Bush's job approval ratings continue to suffer. Forty-six percent of Americans say they approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job, his lowest rating ever in this poll. Still, the survey shows the President neck and neck with john Kerry, Bush with 44 percent, Kerry 43 percent.
When Independent candidate Ralph Nader is factored in, it is Kerry who suffers. It's Bush 43 percent, Kerry 40 percent, and Ralph Nader 6 percent.
So what does Ralph Nader have to say about the abuse of prisoners by some U.S. soldiers? I'll ask him about that and what it may mean for his presidential campaign and more ahead.
Plus, John Keori's Latino outreach. Will it translate into Hispanic votes on Election Day?
And is Mickey Mouse trying to protect President Bush?
This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.
WOODRUFF: On this 5th day of May, or Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates Mexican independence, both President Bush and John Kerry are attending events honoring Americans of Latino heritage. Democrats have enjoyed the edge among Hispanic voters in recent elections, but some community leaders say John Kerry is lagging behind the president in his efforts this year to energize their community.
Here's CNN's Maria Hinojosa.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN URBAN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry is hitting the road for Latino voters, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish to crowds in Albuquerque...
KERRY: Gracias por estar...
HINOJOSA: ... and reaching out at a Los Angeles high school on Cinco de Mayo. Even his wife, Teresa, is trying to connect. The Kerry campaign has yet to open up campaign headquarters in Florida, Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico, all states with big Latino populations, while the Bush campaign says it has offices with Hispanic outreach teams in 30 states and Puerto Rico.
DAN DIAZ, BUSH 2004: We have our campaign operations up on -- in all the critical battleground states, and we're going to continue to reach out to the Hispanic community.
HINOJOSA (on camera): In the 2000 election, Democrat Al Gore beat George W. Bush among Latino voters by a margin of 23 percentage points. This time it appears the Republicans are closing in. A recent poll has Kerry leading President Bush by just 10 percentage points. And Kerry's Democratic critics worry he's not doing enough to fight back.
ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, ALBUQUERQUE DEM. CONSULTANT: They've been slow to move in the Hispanic community. And I think that was the frustration.
HINOJOSA (voice-over): The Kerry campaign says it is about to open offices in all the battleground states. On Tuesday, New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson announced a New Mexico state director. And John Kerry promised the voters a diverse administration.
KERRY: All of our efforts will reflect the doors of opportunity and the full face of the United States of America. That I absolutely promise you.
HINOJOSA: But some Latino leaders say Kerry still needs to do more.
RAUL IZAQUIRRE, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: The silence of the Kerry campaign in terms of reaching the movers and shakers in the Latino community, they have been waiting for the phone to ring, and it hasn't rung. The Republican Party has done a more credible job.
BUSH: I said, in the first place, we're going to win.
HINOJOSA: And President Bush is saying in English and in Spanish that picking up a few more Latino votes this time around could win him the election.
Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: And as we've been reporting, John Kerry campaigning today in Los Angeles at a Latino event. Any moment now, he's expected to talk to reporters, make a statement about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. We'll take that live when it happens.
Meantime, coming up, Ralph Nader on the Iraqi abuse scandal, and other important issues. My interview with the Independent presidential candidate when INSIDE POLITICS continues.
KERRY: ... undermines the overall effort of the United States in the region. So I think it is important to have an understanding of this as rapidly as possible, and to make that explanation and any other appropriate comments to the world.
Patsy (ph)? Patsy (ph) gets this because it was her birthday yesterday. So...
KERRY: Well, on the second part of the question, I called for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation months ago based on his miscalculations with respect to Iraq and based on the lack of a plan to win the peace. With respect to this particular incident, we've got to have the facts.
I want to know, as I think Americans do, is this isolated? Does it go up the chain of command? Who knew what, when?
All of those questions have to be answered. So I don't want to shoot from the hip on that. I think it's very important to have those questions answered as rapidly as possible.
KERRY: No matter what happens, some American troops under some circumstance have engaged in behavior that I've said and everybody else has said is absolutely unacceptable. I think the world needs to hear from the president that the United States of America regrets any kind of abuse of this kind or any kind of effort like this because we have to show the world that we're willing to correct our own mistakes, that we're willing to be responsible for things that don't live up to our values and don't live up to our best traditions.
I think everybody in the military that I know would be deeply disturbed by this. And so I think it's important for the United States to take responsibility when it is appropriate.
KERRY: Well, let me just assure you that if I were president, we'd have a very different set of activities going on in Iraq today.
KERRY: I'd want to get the facts. And when I get the facts, I'd hold the people accountable and I'd make appropriate statements, David.
KERRY: I just said in answer to the question previously, I think the United States needs to -- the person who speaks on behalf of it, the president of the United States, needs to offer the world an explanation and needs to take appropriate responsibility. And if that includes apologizing for the behavior of those soldiers and what happened, we ought to do that.
KERRY: We have many other CEOs and many other investors who are involved in the Kerry campaign and will increasingly be involved in it. Not now. We're going to be releasing it at the appropriate time. But I assure you, we haven't raised the record-breaking sum of $80 million over the course of seven weeks without people who are capable of reaching out to the business community and embracing a very responsible approach to the economy of our country.
What it says is -- and what they're saying to me -- is that this administration has pursued economic policies that put the long-term health of our country at risk. That digging deficits as deep as they have dug these deficits, placing further debt on our children, relying on more and more foreign debt, foreign capital to buy the debt of America, that not investing in job creation and encouraging an economy of job growth at the expense of tax cuts, which they believe are unaffordable and unwise, that they believe there's a better direction for our country.
And that's what I'm offering America, fiscal responsibility, responsible investment policies and job creation, and an ability to cut our deficit in half while we do the things that make America stronger here at home. That's what they want. They believe that if we had a responsible economy, they could make more money in the marketplace than they are today in a world that is increasingly alienated by the United States, where we are losing jobs abroad because of our foreign policy, and where we are losing jobs at home because we don't have a sensible tax policy and sensible fiscal policy.
WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry on the campaign trail in Los Angeles, answering reporters' questions. Most of those questions at first about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Just in a nutshell, saying he thinks the response of the Bush administration has been slow.
He said it has been inappropriate. He said the president owes the world an explanation. And he said if that includes an apology, then he said that should be forthcoming. He also reminded reporters that he earlier called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld base on what he said his lack of planning to win the peace in Iraq.
Meantime, Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader strongly opposed, as we know, President Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq. And he remains a harsh critic of the president's Iraq policy. Just a short time ago, I spoke with Ralph Nader and I started by asking him about the abuse by American soldiers. And I asked him who was ultimately responsible.
RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't know that. We know that it's higher up in the echelons. It could be both the corporate contractors and, of course, the supervisors of the interrogators or the abusers.
WOODRUFF: Do you see this as something that gets explained away easily or what? I mean, how does this get resolved?
NADER: It looks like there's more that's going to come out. In fact, The Washington Post today showed that there were more than just abuses and torture. And more is going to spill out. Usually this is not just a single episode. It represents a pattern of interrogation of prisoners that is largely to be a bigger story.
WOODRUFF: You have called for U.S. troops to come out of Iraq as soon as possible. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I gather that's what you're saying. But there are others who are friends of yours who are saying this would just lead to chaos on the ground in Iraq, and it would call into question what did all those 700-plus American soldiers who died in Iraq die for?
NADER: Well, we don't want more of them to lose their lives or their limbs. You have to look at it from the point of view of what we're trying to do. The mainstream Iraqis are going to support the insurgents if they think that they're going to be faced with a permanent military and corporate occupation and a puppet regime.
They are likely to distance themselves from the insurgents if they realize they're going to have independent internationally- supervised elections, and that they're going to not be subjected to military and corporate occupation. That's really the choice, Judy. I mean, do we really want the mainstream Iraqis to be driven into the side of the insurgents by being told in so many ways there are going to be 14 military bases opened in Iraq, there's going to be a military occupation, corporations are going to take their jobs right down to the truck driver level?
WOODRUFF: What is wrong with the approach of John Kerry, who spoke at Westminster College in Missouri last week and said what we need is a multi-step process here to internationalize the U.S. effort there, to turn this over to international bodies?
NADER: Well, that's a good approach, but it doesn't have a withdrawal strategy. If you say the U.S. is going to liberate Iraq, you've got to convey to the mainstream Iraqis a withdrawal strategy, a responsible withdrawal strategy with international peacekeepers coming in, internationally-supervised election, humanitarian assistance.
It's really very clear. We're either going to drive the mainstream Iraqis into the hands of the insurgents, or we're going to give them a stake of an independent Iraq.
WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the Ralph Nader candidacy. As you know, plenty of Democrats are out there saying you are undercutting John Kerry. They're saying the polls show that. Today in The New York Times, a Yale law and political science professor, Bruce Ackerman, says what you, Ralph Nader, should do is pick electors who are the same electors in these critical states around the country as John Kerry. That people vote for you, they show they support you, but they're electors could go with John Kerry.
NADER: That really is an ingenious proposal. I haven't read the article, but I'm going to read it very, very carefully.
Right now, we're very focused on getting on the ballot. There are huge ballot access barriers in Texas and North Carolina. And for people who are worried about civil liberties and the right of third parties and independent candidates to have a voice and have a choice, they really should look at our Web site, VoteNader.org, and see how many obstacles about 15 states place in front of a diversity of campaigns.
WOODRUFF: So you don't rule out a formula like that have working, using electors in these states who would be the same as John Kerry electors?
NADER: I don't rule out thinking about it. I haven't read the article yet.
WOODRUFF: There are, I am told, a number of former Ralph Nader Raiders, people who were very close to you as far back as the 1970s, who are going to put together an aggressive efforts to try to challenge the signatures that you get on ballots around the country, to in essence, do anything they can to diminish your support.
What do you say to these people who say they know you very well, but don't want you running for president?
NADER: I say that they have every right to oppose us, but they don't have a right to silence us by keeping us off the ballot. Free speech, the right of assembly, the right of petition is something all of us should support no matter how much we disagree with someone and then we can oppose and challenge.
I haven't heard of that pending cabal here.
WOODRUFF: Talking to Ralph Nader.
The second half hour of INSIDE POLITICS starts right now.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a serious matter. It's a matter that reflects badly on my country.
ANNOUNCER: Damage control from the president. Will it be effective?
He's riding high in the polls. George Bush, John Kerry? No, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Should the presidential candidates take a page from the California governor's political playbook?
Is electronic voting safe from tampering? The experts disagree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel our system is very secure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must trust them not to fail. We must trust that they haven't been programmed maliciously. And we must trust they have not been tampered with. That's a tall order.
ANNOUNCER: The fuss over the bus. Is the controversy over American-made campaign buses a fender-bender or a major wreck?
WOODRUFF: Welcome back.
There is little dispute that President Bush's interviews with Arab language TV outlets today were attempts at damage control. The administration clearly has been stung by revelations that some U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners.
But there are plenty of people who question whether the president can say or do anything to make amends in the Arab world. Let's check in with our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, there are still a lot of unanswered questions this evening in light of those interviews. The president earlier in the Map Room here at the White House gave those interviews to Al- Hurra and Al Arabiya, those Arab language networks.
The message from the president is that he found those acts of abuse abhorrent. He also said he believes it's just the work of a few and that those who are guilty will be held accountable. This is all a part of a much wider and aggressive public relations campaign to counter those images of abuse that have aired across the world. This is highest level of damage control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: First, people in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent. They must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent America that I know. Our citizens in America are appalled by what they saw, just like people in the Middle East are appalled. We share the same deep concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Judy, there are two unanswered questions here. First we had learned from the president that he had found out about those images, those photos at the same time that everybody else did, when they aired on television.
We asked Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, whether or not the president was disturbed by that, that Secretary Rumsfeld did not alert him to that. There were other Pentagon top level officials who knew about this for weeks to come and were prepare forget fallout here. McClellan only saying the president's focus is going to be preventing abuse of this kind in the future.
We also do not have a clear sense of when the president was first alerted about allegations of abuse inside the prison. We do know that some of that information came out sometime in January, but we were not able really to pinpoint and get an answer in terms of exactly when the president was notified about that.
Having said that, however, Judy, the president does say that he has confidence in Rumsfeld and his spokesmen saying that he is not asking for his resignation -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: I have no doubt those questions will continue to be asked and until the answers are forthcoming. Suzanne, thank you very much.
Well, John Kerry had said little about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal until he spoke to reporters just a short time ago. Let's talk now about his remarks, and they did happen a few minutes, ago with our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, as we saw a short time ago, the senator did come out, did in fact, have an opening statement to his press conference, first one in about two weeks. He said, listen, these were horrible events. These were disgusting events.
But then he went on to say that the administration's response, the president's response has been slow and inappropriate. He said that the president owes the world an explanation. And that in fact, when asked specifically about apologizing, the senator said that the U.S., in fact, should admit mistakes when it's appropriate.
So he did come out expressing his feelings, obviously, against the abuse that we've seen. But also saying that he didn't think the president clearly had done enough. So that was sort of the message he wanted to get across.
The senator was also asked about a couple of other things, CEOs and business leaders, whether they supported his campaign, who would be on his campaign. He said he already has plenty of them, but he's always reaching out.
Questioned a little about what some people have criticized him for saying he doesn't have enough minorities represented on his staff. As you know, he's been hit lately about not doing enough outreach to minority communities in particular Latinos. Sort of a broad ranging news conference going on still.
But mainly the point he wanted to get across was that, in fact, he shares the outrage of the U.S. and did say that he felt that the administration again had given a slow and inappropriate response thus far -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley who's following the Kerry campaign and what the Senator John Kerry is saying today about all this. Candy, thank you very much.
As we reported earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, John Warner, is pressing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to testify before his panel tomorrow about the prisoner abuse scandal. Senator Warner joins us now from Capitol Hill.
Senator, we've gotten conflicting reports about whether Secretary Rumsfeld is going to come before your committee. Is he or isn't he?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: I've been in discussions with him and his staff today together with senator Frist. And indeed, Senator Daschle on the floor. I joined him this morning in jointly expressing a strong desire on behalf of the Senate to have him appear in public before the Armed Services Committee, which I chair.
First, in these discussions with Secretary Rumsfeld, I detect no reluctance to come at the appropriate time. It's just a question of perhaps getting some individual from the Iraqi scene over in time to join him and to get the facts all together so that he can make a very clear and precise report to the Senate. That is the Senate Committee.
There's no reluctance. We're moving towards his appearance at a time that's mutually convenient for the Senate and when the secretary can have in his possession a full array of facts and indeed, individuals who have been on the scene and really have a firsthand knowledge.
So I commend the secretary of defense. I think he's proceeding in a proper way.
WOODRUFF: So you're saying, Senator, though that it may not happen tomorrow. It may be later.
WARNER: It could be Friday. But I would like to have the opportunity to finish my discussions with him today. And I'll make a statement before the close of business today.
WOODRUFF: Senator, there are -- there are members of Congress, Republican Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio, who today says this on going talk of investigations and testimony, he said, just continuing to prolong discussion of this abuse of Iraqi prisoners. In his words, is endangering the troops, making the situation worse, overblowing what happened.
WARNER: I spoke on the floor of the Senate this morning. I said we've got to strike a balance between the duty of the elected representatives and indeed others to speak out about this tragic situation of the allegations surrounding our men and women in uniform and perhaps some civilian contractors to the Department of Defense taking steps clearly that were in violation of known regulation and known practices and the image of how we conduct ourselves here in the United States.
WOODRUFF: So you're not worried about...
WARNER: Wait a minute, let me finish.
It is clear that we should keep the focus on the brave men and women of the armed forces and indeed, their families here at home who are carrying on their missions at this very minute. So we have to strike a balance between the responsibility to speak out on this issue, but do it in a way not to send any message that would endanger the armed forces of this country or the coalition partners.
WOODRUFF: Senator, it has just been disclosed in the last hour or so that the Bush administration is apparently ready to ask Congress for another $25 billion to carry on in Iraq, to both fight the aftermath of the war there and for reconstruction. And yet, this may be just the beginning, that there may be still be more money they'll be asking for. What is your understanding of this? Because earlier the administration said they were not going to ask for more money.
WARNER: I was a part of the discussions today with the majority leader. I support the administration coming forward now. As a matter of fact, I just left the committee of the armed services. We're in session on a markup, and we will be including in our bill that will go to the floor of the Senate in a matter of days a provision to support the president in his intention to get another 25 billion at this time. It is needed. Otherwise, the military will be drawing down their accounts like uparmored Humvees which are desperately needed. We just voted additional money for those and other things that our men and women in the armed forces need and the funds have to be there to pay for them.
WOODRUFF: Senator, but just to be clear you are satisfied with the -- with what Secretary Rumsfeld is saying and doing at this point?
WARNER: That is correct. I've worked with Secretary Rumsfeld for these many years. We are a good team together. I am a strong supporter in the goals of the president and Secretary Rumsfeld is implementing those goals.
WOODRUFF: All right. Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed services committee. Thank you very much.
WARNER: Thank you. WOODRUFF: Well, in the midst of a foreign policy crisis or some other scandal, presidents often try to avoid outright apologies. When they have appeared to express regret or take responsibility, the political results have been mixed.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will tell you now that it was a very sober two days.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): 1961, President John F. Kennedy accepts blame for the Bay of Pigs debacle, the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro. His poll numbers shoot up 11 points.
1980, President Carter takes full responsibility for the failed rescue mission of U.S. hostages in Iran. His presidency already crippled by the hostage crisis Carter loses his reelection bid later that year.
1987, President Reagan's second term is tarnished by the trading of arms for hostages scandal known as Irancontra.
RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact of the matter is that there's nothing I can say that will make the situation right. I was stubborn in my pursuit of a policy that went astray.
WOODRUFF: Reagan makes amends in an Oval Office speech, an implied apology that goes a long way toward preserving his legacy.
1998, a very different kind of controversy.
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.
WOODRUFF: President Clinton issues the first in a series of mea culpas for the Monica Lewinsky affair. His credibility in tatters, Clinton goes on to be impeached but avoids removal from office.
WOODRUFF: The politics of apologies. Coming up, computerized voting. Does it solve the problems of the 2000 election or make matters worse? We'll hear the latest from fans and from critics of the system.
And later, find out what happens when the Bush and Kerry campaigns collide over the origins of their buses.
WOODRUFF: Question. Is another disputed presidential election in the making? A computer science expert today said that could very well happen. Unless steps are taken now to fix electronic voting machines planned for November. Not all the experts agree. Kathleen Koch has more.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Casting a vote with a touch, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission was told such systems may be easy to use, but they're far from secure.
PROF. AVI RUBIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Right now we're sitting very, very close to terrible. We need to develop systems that do not require completely trusting a vendor with the outcome of the election.
KOCH: Maryland, Georgia, and California had touch screen failures in the presidential primaries. The California secretary of state last week decertified all touch screen voting machines in the state and proposed charges against one manufacturer, Diebold Election Systems. At the hearing, Diebold insisted its technology is solid but still apologized.
MARK RAOKE, DIEBOLD, INC.: We sincerely regret that this issue inconvenienced voters and affected precincts.
KOCH: The short-term solution for most at the hearing. Paper receipts. That way there's a record of votes cast, making recounts are possible. But companies insisted there's not time to retrofit many of the electronic machines by election day.
WILLIAM WELSH, ELECTION SYSTEMS & SOFTWARE: The time to develop and time to get certified, we're talking a minimum of a year.
KOCH: California's secretary of state, the first to require such a paper trail disputes that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know many say we can't have a voter verified paper trail in place by November but I come here today to challenge that notion.
KOCH: But some California precincts found receipt printers on touch screens frequently jammed.
It required the machines to be taken out of service and I quote, "when the printed record stuck, they had to be extracted with many creative tools that were at hand including a windshield wiper and a back scratcher."
KOCH: Disabled Americans who until now had to rely on assistance to vote asked commissioners to fix the technology that offers them new freedom.
JIM DICKSON, AMERICAN ASSN. OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Because of touch screen voting, I voted secretly and independently for the first time in my life. That was an incredibly empowering experience.
KOCH: The commission this week begins distributing $2.6 billion to states to update their voting equipment, but because of the recent problems, it may also recommend that all new technology for the first time meet national standards. Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," President Bush's TV ad campaign appears to be having an effect on how Americans view John Kerry. The latest Annenberg Election Survey finds 38 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Kerry and 33 percent view him unfavorably. That is a two-point drop in Kerry favorable rating and nine-point jump in his unfavorables since a similar poll in mid-March.
The National Republican Committee expects to set a one-night fund raising record at an event tonight in Washington. The gala could bring in more than $38 million for the Republicans topping the $30 million mark set two years ago. Back in 2000, the parties were still accepting unlimited contributions known as soft money which now are banned.
Anti-Bush filmmaker Michael Moore says Disney Studios has blocked its Miramax subsidiary from distributing his latest movie. The film, which is called "Fahrenheit 911" is highly critical of President Bush and his policies in the war on terror.
"The New York Times" quotes a Disney executive who says the company wants to avoid political controversy. But Moore's agent told the newspaper that Disney's CEO is concerned that the film could anger the Bush family and put corporate tax breaks at risk in Florida which is home to both Disney World and to Governor Jeb Bush.
A political fuss over a campaign bus. Up next, does made in America matter when it comes to campaign transportation?
WOODRUFF: Evidently, some political maneuvers work better than others. A case in point, the Kerry campaign tried to make political hay when it learned that the Bush campaign bus, which was labeled "Yes, America Can," was actually made in Canada.
But it turns out the bus John Kerry used back during the primaries, "The Real Deal Express," was also made in Canada. Apparently by the same manufacturer.
Well, our Dana Bash accompanied the president on his bus trip through Ohio and Michigan this week. Dana reports the president could use any form of transportation that he wants. But while Air Force One is first class, it's hard to beat a bus for campaign imagery.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of the Rose Garden, off Air Force One. Time to start transforming the president back into a candidate. The motorcade becomes "bus-cades," an old campaign trail favorite to roll through the heartland with a look more corporate jet than Greyhound.
The bus makes no unscheduled stops during the two-day swing to shake hands along the way. But make no mistake, this is to show a president getting out among the people.
BUSH: Mind if I take off my coat? I think I will.
BASH: Relaxed and in the round, it's time for ask the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you like your job? And is it difficult at times?
BUSH: Yes, I love my job.
BASH: Not exactly stumpers. The room's in Michigan and Ohio filled with supporters.
But the trip is aimed as much, maybe more, at supporters as fence sitters. While Democrats slog through primaries, Bush campaign quietly worked these crucial states building early robust grass-roots organizations.
It's six months until Election Day. Still an energy boost and an appeal from the big guy at every turn.
BUSH: I'm running against an experienced candidate. I'm not going to take him lightly.
Put the signs up.
I need to you turn out to vote.
I'm here to fertilize the grass-roots today.
BASH: The rallying, however, is tempered by a reality he can't ignore.
BUSH: There are people in parts of Ohio who haven't felt the recovery yet.
BASH: Cameras are allow closer to capture candidate moments. Flipping pancakes, making a rock star entrance before a jam-packed arena.
There was one minor detail campaign aides neglected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, would you please sign this?
BUSH: Yes! In a minute.
BASH: Always make sure the candidate has a pen.
Dana Bash, CNN, traveling with the president.
WOODRUFF: No pesky reporter questions to trip him up.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "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