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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Antonio Taguba Testifies Before Senate Armed Services Committee; Interview With Senator John Cornyn, Senator Mark Pryor; Campaign Themes: Kerry's Challenge

Aired May 11, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Behind the abuse of Iraqi prisoners: a general who investigated gives senators his take on what went wrong.

MAJ. GEN. ANTONIO TAGUBA, U.S. ARMY: Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade command or down, lack of discipline, no training whatsoever, and no supervision.

ANNOUNCER: The Schwarzenegger solution: what political tips could the California governor give John Kerry?

ANNOUNCER: Remember this man? More than seven years after his daughter, JonBenet, was killed, John Ramsey is set to open a new chapter of his life in politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Well, if Major General Antonio Taguba's report on Iraqi prisoner abuse had not been leaked to a news organization, the world might still be in the dark about what happened there. Taguba testified about his findings on Capitol Hill today, even as the investigation and the political fallout intensify. We begin with our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today's star witness was the non-political career officer whose explosive report exposed the prison abuse scandal.

TAGUBA: Sir, we did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did.

HENRY: But it didn't take long for presidential politics to flare up as one Republican mocked what he called humanitarian do- gooders who cared more about the prisoners than American soldiers, and charged that the Democrats are hyping the scandal for political gain.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: But I'm also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this. HENRY: Inhofe held up an online petition that was circulated by the Kerry campaign to get Secretary Rumsfeld fired.

INHOFE: And they say a solicitation for contributions.

HENRY: Democrats say it was not a fundraising pitch, and fired back that President Bush played politics by heading over to the Pentagon to give Secretary Rumsfeld another public vote of confidence.

SEN. MARK DAYTON, (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Unfortunately, we in this committee were overshadowed yesterday by President Bush's words and actions traveling to the Pentagon with the vice president to tell the secretary of defense, the country and the world, "You're doing a superb job." The president looked at a dozen more pictures of abuse and reportedly shook his head in disgust. But the apologies, regrets and mea culpas are now history. It's back to business as usual.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Judy, the situation is only going to get more intense as the Senate gets ready to finally receive from the Pentagon these explosive photos and videos that the Pentagon has in their possession. Armed Services Chairman John Warner said today that these photos are disgusting, but the Senate has a duty to review them.

But the senator is also being very careful about not setting a precedent here. The Senate does not want to be the body that actually distributes these photos around the world. So instead, Chairman Warner, along with the Senate Democratic and Republican leaders, is trying to hammer out a deal. He's hopeful to have that deal today for the full Senate to receive these photoandoes videos, review them for a fixed period of time this week, and then hand them back to the Pentagon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So the decision will be up to the Pentagon?

HENRY: That's right. Basically, people in both parties are privately saying that Congress does not want to be the body that is dealing with this political football and deciding how to release it. They want to be able to review it, to see what's there, to be prepared. Because, as you remember, Congress was left out of the loop the last time photos started dribbling out. They want to be in the loop this time, but they do not want to be responsible for actually distributing these photos and videos -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry at the Capitol. Thank you, Ed.

HENRY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, during a break in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings today, I spoke with two panel members, Republican John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas. I began by asking Senator Cornyn if he's any closer of having a clear understanding about who is responsible for the prisoner abuse.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Well, General Taguba, who did an outstanding job of investigating this matter from the beginning of the allegations last January, said that there is no policy, there is no procedure, no orders were given to treat these prisoners in this way. And it seem to be, at least what we know now, confined to a relatively small group of people who acted badly.

WOODRUFF: So, Senator Prior, is that pretty much the end of it, just confined to these MPs?

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I don't think that's the end of it. I think that Taguba did a very good job in committee today. I think he laid out about his investigation a lot of the facts, a lot of the details that, you know, most people did not fully understand until today. But I think that, you know, we will continue to look at this, as we should.

Chain of command issue here. I think one thing he said is there's very little training, very little or no supervision with some of these MPs. And, you know, you just have to look at the system that we have in place, whether it's working, whether folks in and around the facility knew better and knew what was going on, and should have stopped it if they could have.

WOODRUFF: And what about, Senator Cornyn, the role of military intelligence? There seemed to be some difference of opinion between General Taguba and the Secretary Cambone of the Pentagon over whether military intelligence was running this prison and had some authority or whether it was just the chain of command of the military police.

CORNYN: Well, you put your finger on one of the real problems, and that was that the head of military intelligence and the head of the military police apparently were in disagreement about what the chain of command should be, thus leading to a leadership void which went all of the way down to the troops who were actually guarding the prisoners. And that was one of the problems that has led to the disciplinary action that's now been taken against seven of the supervising officers, in addition to the criminal charges that have now been brought against seven of the soldiers.

WOODRUFF: Senator Pryor, we heard one of your colleagues on the committee, Senator Inhofe, say today that he's more outraged by the outrage over all this than he is by the abuse of these prisoners. How did you react to that?

PRYOR: Well, you know, I have a lot of respect for Jim Inhofe. He's a fighter, he's a true conservative senator from Oklahoma. We all know him and respect him quite a bit.

But I think there is justifiably a lot of American outrage about this. And this is something that reflects poorly on America, whether it was an isolated incident with a few MPs or whether it was more systemic.

You know, the American Red Cross had repeatedly contacted the Pentagon and others about the problems in that prison, and apparently those fell on deaf ears. So, nonetheless, the American public is outraged. I think the outrage is justifiable, and I think they expect the president and the Congress to act swiftly and act decisively on this issue.

WOODRUFF: Well, in that connection, Senator Cornyn, the Red Cross at one point has said that they think most of the prisoners or many of the prisoners who were arrested were there for mistaken charges, that they had not committed grievous -- or egregious offenses. But then you had your colleague, Senator Inhofe, today saying most of them were murderers or rapists. Which is it?

CORNYN: Well, this is a war zone. Obviously, we know that there was a mixed bag in terms of the people who were there. Some of them were criminals who were arrested for committing crimes against other Iraqis. Some were security detainees. And others were people who were enemy combatants.

But regardless of the category, General Taguba made clear that there is no policy, no procedure, no order in place to treat these people in a less than humane way. That's not the American way, and that's why we're taking this so seriously. And we must follow it wherever it leads.

WOODRUFF: So you don't agree with Senator Inhofe that the outrage that's here -- he's more outraged over the outrage than...

CORNYN: Well, I think the context -- we have to put this in context. I understand what I think he is saying, and that is, look, these are people who were trying to kill our soldiers. And let's stop, perhaps, terrorists who will commit another 9/11. And in that sense, I want to make sure we do everything consistent with humane treatment of prisoners to get information out of them to make America safer.

WOODRUFF: Senator Pryor, is, in effect -- I'm sorry -- Secretary Rumsfeld now off the hook?

PRYOR: Well, I don't know. I mean, you know, that's really a decision for the president. You know, everybody loves to talk about that and loves to speculate about that, but ultimately that's President George W. Bush's call.

He's the commander in chief. He's the one that appointed the secretary of defense. And the secretary of defense serves at his will and his pleasure. So that's really up to him.

But one thing I would like to say about what Senator Cornyn just said is that it is true that some of these inmates were combatants and all this, but it's very possible, according to some other reports, that many inmates in this prison were there mistakenly or they were there being held without charge. And it really is, as he said, a mixed bag. We're not exactly -- as we stand here today, we're not exactly 100 percent sure who all was in the prison and why they were there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator Mark Pryor, Senator John Cornyn talking with me just a short time ago about the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings. We're going to have more on the prisoner abuse scandal later, including a report on they way the White House response has evolved.

Turning now to politics, we check in on President Bush and John Kerry in our Tuesday "Campaign News Daily." The president headed to Arkansas this morning on the first stop of a planned three-day focus on education. Mr. Bush defended his No Child Left Behind initiative as the best way to reform education in what was officially a White House event and not a campaign appearance.

John Kerry will be in Arkansas tomorrow as a part of his four-day swing to promote his health care proposals. Today, in Kentucky, Kerry told a group of business owners that his health care plan will be good for small business. Kerry also accused the president of ignoring the rising costs of health care nationwide.

John Kerry's multi-day focus on issues like health care is designed to let Americans see where he stands on the big questions of this campaign. But if Kerry is in search of a truly effective campaign theme, our Bill Schneider reports the senator should look to California and a certain actor-turned-governor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Critics say the Kerry campaign needs a defining theme. What do voters want this year that they're not getting from President Bush? In 2000, Bush made this offer...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's looking for a uniter, not a divider.

SCHNEIDER: Polls indicate he's failed to deliver. Asked whether President Bush has done more to unite the country or divide the country, the public is split. Americans are divided over whether Bush has divided the country. John Kerry has noticed.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush, who promised to become a uniter, has become the great divider.

SCHNEIDER: Is there anyone out there who knows how to bridge the bitter partisan divide? Yes. What John Kerry needs to do is find his inner Arnold.

California has huge problems and a deep partisan divide, which Schwarzenegger, a Republican governor of a strongly Democratic state, has bridged. He's turned public opinion around on bond initiatives that should help get the state's finances in order.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: We have removed the financial sword that was hanging over California's head. SCHNEIDER: He's worked with Democrats to reform the state's worker's compensation and energy laws. The last action hero is proving to be a man of political action.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Action, action, action. Jobs, job, jobs.

SCHNEIDER: Compare Schwarzenegger and Bush in California. President Bush gets 82 percent approval from California Republicans and a dismal 17 percent from Democrats.

Now look at Governor Schwarzenegger. He's getting 89 percent approval from Republicans and a phenomenal 56 percent from Democrats. If President Bush is the divider, Governor Schwarzenegger is the uniter.

Can john Kerry make the Schwarzenegger solution work for him? He hopes so. He vows to be a president who...

KERRY: ...lifts us up to the highest common denominator and pulls us together and unites us to solve problems. Together, we can build a stronger America.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Schwarzenegger was an outsider. He didn't have a conservative base. And he ran against the governor who was unpopular in his own party. That made is easier for Schwarzenegger to be a unifier.

Now Kerry is a longtime Washington insider with strong liberal credentials, running against the president, who has the strong support of his party. So it won't be easy for Kerry to define himself as a unifier, but it may be the only way he can win -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kerry also never made a movie called "The Terminator" either.

SCHNEIDER: Not yet.

WOODRUFF: Not yet. OK. Bill, thank you.

In Michigan, a newcomer to politics already knows quite a lot about being in the media glare. Up next: why would the father of murdered child beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey, run for office?

Also ahead, some surprising insights about New Mexico's governor vice presidential prospect Bill Richardson.

And later, from a dressing down to a show of support, the president's mixed messages about Donald Rumsfeld.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: John Ramsey, the father of the slain child beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey, is expected to announce later today that he is running for the Michigan State legislature. Our Chris Lawrence is following this story in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Hello, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, JonBenet Ramsey actually won a beauty pageant right here in the town where her parents now live and where John Ramsey is launching his run for a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.

He'll make the announcement right behind me in a couple of hours, but he's already filed the paperwork to run in the Republican primary. And when we caught up with him earlier this morning, already looked every bit the politician.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some way, somehow, we'll have to put these insurance companies in check.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: It seems whether running for head of the PTA or president, it seems every politician ends up in a diner. And that's where John and Patsy Ramsey start their day, listening to neighbors talk about the cost of insurance, new jobs, state spending. Later, they attended a memorial service for a police officer, and he's been meeting with local party leaders to get a handle on his first run for office.

It's a very public profile for a man who's shunned this kind of attention for years after his daughter's death. But Ramsey told me today it was tragedy that led him to this point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN RAMSEY, RUNNING FOR OFFICE: What are we supposed to do with the rest of our lives here? And all of a sudden, selling computers didn't look all that important. And a lot of people reached out to us with compassion that we didn't know, but it opened our eyes to the fact that a lot of people are struggling, a lot of people are carrying burdens.

And it really changed our hearts. You know, we wanted to make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: The ramseys still talk about their daughter, JonBenet, who was murdered in 1996. At one point, the Boulder Colorado police chief placed both parents under what he called an umbrella of suspicion, but no charges were filed. And last year, a federal judge said evidence pointed to the possibility an intruder killed JonBenet.

Back here now live, it is easy to see that John Ramsey has the kind of name recognition that could give him considerable political clout, but privately several people told us here that when they hear his name they're suspicious and would not vote for him. It seems in this corner of northern Michigan, he has the kind of fame that cuts both ways -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chris Lawrence, thanks very much. And I know we're going to be watching that race all of the way to the end. Thank you very much.

And a program note. John and Patsy Ramsey will be the guests on tomorrow' night's edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." That's at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

He's a rising star in the Democratic Party, and he's said to be on the short list of people John Kerry is thinking about for his running mate. Just ahead, we'll hear from the author of a New York Times Magazine article that spotlights New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: His name is mentioned prominently in the guessing game about John Kerry's choice for a runningmate. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will also be in the spotlight come July as Democrats gather for their national convention. That's because he is the convention chairman.

Jennifer Senior, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, profiled Richardson in an article that ran in Sunday's magazine. And she's with me now from New York.

Jennifer Senior, Bill Richardson says officially he's not interested in being vice president, he wouldn't accept it if were offered. What do you think he really thinks?

JENNIFER SENIOR, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: I think that he would really like the job, and I think that he's very shrewd to say that it's not interesting to him, because he can't run for governor -- or he couldn't have run for governor in 2002 and said, I'd really love this job as a stepping stone to my next move, which is vice president or president.

WOODRUFF: One interesting -- particularly interesting line in your piece, you said in many politicians, their strength and weaknesses are one in the same. You said in the case of Bill Richardson they're just louder. What did you mean by that?

SENIOR: Yes. Well, I mean, he's one of these guys who's -- he's just slightly larger than the rest of us in almost every sense. I mean, he talks a lot, he shakes a lot of hands, he eats a lot, he schmoozes a lot.

He might enjoy the media more than he ought to, which can get him into trouble. He's very candid, which is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it's terrific because you actually know what's going on and it isn't condescending, and sometimes when you're too candid your foot winds up in your mouth. But I think on balance it's kind of a lovely trait.

WOODRUFF: A lot of people like to say -- in fact, you hear this in the Kerry campaign -- whoever is going to be the vice presidential running mate will be somebody who can step into the presidency the very next day. Is Bill Richardson presidential in the classical sense?

SENIOR: Well, he has the resume, right? I mean, his resume is actually quite strong.

He was the American ambassador to the United Nations. He was energy secretary. He was in Congress for forever, and he has very good relationships with the leaders there. He knows a lot of world leaders from his time at the U.N.

Does he have a presidential disposition? You know, the photo that accompanied The New York Times piece showed him hunched over a fajita, and you could practically smell the fajita juice dribbling down his chin.

I mean, so maybe not. On the other hand, I think he is so canneddid and he speaks so well, and he's such an effective communicator, that that might go a long way. You know, maybe the things that we fetishize (ph) as presidential aren't really the appropriate qualities sometimes.

WOODRUFF: He advocates that the Democrats drop any idea trying to win the South. Just forget that and basically go for a western, Hispanic strategy, western states plus Florida.

SENIOR: Right.

WOODRUFF: Is that a strategy that's completely self-centered, or is that something he genuinely believes?

SENIOR: Yes. It seems slightly self-servinging coming from a guy who happens to be from the Southwest.

On the other hand, it's not the dopiest idea. The Republicans are having a field day that he said this, but the truth of the matter is that the South is now more or less as Republican as the North is Democratic.

So to suggest that perhaps the Democratic Party wants to find greener pasture or more cultivatable pastures elsewhere, is not such a far-fetched idea. The Southwest has a rapidly expanding Latino community. It's got expanding cities. It's got a settling, retiring population.

These more or less mean goods things for Democrats. And if you've got to go somewhere to give your party a patina of Americanness and you can't do it in the South anymore, the Southwest isn't a bad idea.

WOODRUFF: Jennifer Senior, she's a writer for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. She spent some time with Bill Richardson, came away with some insights and colorful anecdotes.

Jennifer, thank you very much. We appreciate it. SENIOR: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Well, Ralph Nader is suing the state of Texas after he failed to qualify for the November ballot. The Independent presidential candidate is challenging the state's petition requirements, calling them unconstitutional. Nader's campaign collected more than 50,000 signature in President Bush's home state, but just over 64,000 were required by yesterday's deadline.

The White House has a number of days of damage control under its belt in connection with the prisoner abuse scandal. Coming up, we'll examine the latest administration spin and how it figures into the politics of the scandal.

Plus, it is a big day for Bill Clinton. Find out why ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Will the fight over same-sex marriages impact the race for the presidency? Gay voters speck out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like equality for gay people. I'm sick of being treated like a second-class citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, in this election year gay marriage is a non-issue.

ANNOUNCER: What do presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush have in common? Our Bruce Morton reveals the answer.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Friends, are you tired of hearing the same old predictable possibilities for John Kerry's running mate? Are you bored with the same stale list of governors, senators and representatives? Would you like choices that really push the outside of the envelope, quake outside the box, walk along the cutting edge?

ANNOUNCER: Then stick around, Jeff Greenfield has a treat for you.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

The Bush White House is responding to new and very disturbing images from Iraq. An Islamic Web site linked to al Qaeda is showing a video of an American being beheaded.

On the tape, the victim identified himself as Nicholas Berg of Pennsylvania, whose body was found in Baghdad yesterday. He was shown sitting in front of five hooded men before he is pushed to the floor and his throat is cut.

His captors said the United States refused to exchange him for detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Let's bring in our White House correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, what are they saying about all this?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the White House spokesman Scott McClellan was quick to put out a statement saying that their thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family. And also saying that this, in their view, reflects what they call the true nature of those opposed to freedom and democracy in the region, those who carried out this crime.

But essentially they say that they're trying to get the facts, trying to get the information about this Web site where this first aired. And of course the facts about how all this happened. That's essentially what they're saying that they're doing at this time -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Obviously, Dana, this comes during a time when so many people are focused on the abuse of prisoners by American soldiers at the prison in Baghdad. What was the administration saying about that today?

BASH: Well, Judy, the president did catch some of what is essentially the main event on this issue today. The Senate hearing with General Taguba and others. He watched it on his plane, Air Force One, as he headed to Arkansas.

When in Arkansas he did not say anything about this. he tried to stay on message talking about his message of the day, that's education. However other administration officials are certainly trying to get out the public relations effort, trying essentially to take control of the story. The vice president and the defense secretary both teed up the administration's line. And if you listened to it they sound strikingly similar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's also important to point out, though, that on these abuses were uncovered by the military, they're being investigated by the military. This isn't something the press uncovered, this was something that was being handled as is appropriate to the regular military channels and the uniform code of military justice.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The military, not the media, discovered these abuses. The military reported the abuses not the media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now what the administration is trying to do and officials can see they're trying to do with these comments and they reflect this, is essentially try to correct the record, change the perception that the administration was asleep at the switch, saying that they're on top of it. Because for more than a week now, Judy, we heard that the president and other top official heard about these issues, the big part of this issue, which is the pictures, from media reports.

WOODRUFF: Dana, it was the middle of last week that there was a leak apparently out of the White House that the president had scolded Donald Rumsfeld over this whole prisoner abuse scandal. Now's there's some second guessing about that?

BASH: Certainly not in public, but in private it is coming out. Now obviously this was something that was highly unusual for this White House for the president -- or fot the White House to put out word that the president was unhappy with his defense secretary. They say that they did it because the president was genuinely upset, but also to protect the president on this issue because they say he truly didn't know.

However, some officials here at the White House now say that perhaps that -- and also outside the administration, should I point out -- now say perhaps that wasn't such a shrewd move because it opened the floodgates for Democrats to call for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation and for Republicans to be more open about the fact that they think he might be a liability.

That's why you saw officials here over the weekend and then, of course, the president himself come out. As one official said what they were trying to do was stop, as he called it, the mattress mice from take over the story and run essentially to the point where Secretary Rumsfeld perhaps would have no choice to resign. They wanted to stop that soon.

And they say that perhaps the way they handled this story at beginning, some people here at the White House say, perhaps that wasn't such a great idea.

WOODRUFF: If there was any solding, they've certainly did a 180 because the president is fully embracing the secretary now.

BASH: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dana, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: In the race -- now, I should say, let's talk more about the politics of the abuse scandal with CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, looking at these hearings today and all the attention they've been getting, how does this affect the administration's conduct of this war in Iraq?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the big threat, I think, to the president from these hearings and from the entire scandal really is not only the embarassment and the sense of outrage over the events. It's the concern about the overall course in Iraq, Judy. I mean, this would not be, I think, as threat toeng the administration, if we did not have all of the violence that we've had over the past several weeks, the high level of casualties which created kind of a seed of doubt in the public about whether this mission is succeeding.

And I think the lesson through American history is that the public is much more willing to accept casualties if they believe that the underlying mission is succeeding. When they believe that these lives in effect are being sacrificed in vain, I think that's when support begins to erode dramictically. And we're seeing that, at least temporarily, in these polls.

WOODRUFF: Now -- and we were talking about this with Dana Bash -- now that the president has made it clear that he is completely associating himself with Donald Rumsfeld calling him a superb secretary of defense, what effect is that going to have on all this?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, this is the characteristic response of the administration when pushed. They tend not to like to do things under pressure. If he's going to dismiss someone, the history is that he's done it only on his own terms.

You know there's been extensive polling in the last few months from the University of Pennsylvania's Anneberg Study. And they found that people view Bush far more than Kerry as a strong leader, but also are more likely to describe him as stubborn and reckless.

And on many things that President Bush has done, I think his association with Rumsfeld here reenforces those at both ends of the spectrum. His supporters will see this as a sign of resolve. And those who don't like it will see it as a sign who of someone who refuses to change course even if there's evidence to suggest he'd be better off doing so.

WOODRUFF: Ron, I know that we just had the news breaking about the al Qaeda in Iraq beheading an American civilian over there. I don't know if you had a chance to talk to anybody about that, but you've got that happening. On the other hand, you have more pictures that may be released of even worse prisoner abuse. How is that likely to play out?

BROWNSTEIN: Public opinion doesn't move in only one direction at once. And I think the evidence to the American people -- and indeed I think many of the political leadership are conflicted about the war in Iraq.

When pushed, most Americans want to push back. We saw that after 9/11, we saw that in mid-April whent he hooric events in Fallujah, the death of contractors lead a spike in the number of people who said we should have more troops in Iraq.

And I suspect that this horrific act will have a certain cross- cutting pressure. There will be a desire among some in the public who say, look we don't want to be pushed around. We don't to let people get away with some their sort of thing of. The contrary force though, Judy, and the one the president is fighting against, is the sense that we are on track toward winning this. And I think that is the real threat. Sixty percent in a po'l last week, NBC/"Wall Street Journal" saying events were spiraling out of our control. And I think that in the end is a more powerful force than the sort of jacksonian impulse, don't tread on us.

WOODRUFF: All right. We will leave it there. Ron Brownstein with "The Los Angeles Times." Ron, thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: In the race for the White House, the first President Bush, the first one, has been a role model in many ways for what his son should not do. What can Bush 43 learn from his dad and other incumbents who lost?

Also ahead, political analyst Carlos Watson talks to gay voters about the issues that matter most to them.

Plus, Jeff Greenfield's very different spin on the vice presidential selection process.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Former president Bill Clinton has finished writing his memoirs. And he has submitted the manuscript to his publisher. Simply titled "My Life," the book is expected to run some 900 pages and will go on sale next month with a $35 cover price. The publisher Alfred Knopf plans a first printing of 1.5 million copies. A seven- hour audio version of the book available on six CDs is also planned. We'll have more INSIDE POLITICS in 90 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As he faces the rigors of a reelection campaign, Vice President Cheney got a clean bill of health during his annual heart check-up today. Doctors at George Washington University Medical Center told Cheney that his pacemaker had not detected an irregular heartbeat. The vice president who has had four heart attacks had a pacemaker put in his chest three years ago.

Even though his poll numbers have dropped in recent weeks, President Bush has one historical advantage over John Kerry, he is the incumbent. Our Bruce Morton has more on what it takes to unseat a sitting president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since World War II three presidents, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush have been defeated when seeking reelection. What do they have in common? First, they, not the challenger, were the issue.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Presidential elections were about incumbents and more particularly they're about incumbent leadership. Presidents who are seen as strong leaders, effective leaders get reelected and those not seen that way end up looking for another job.

MORTON: Gerald Ford, never elected became president when Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment. Voters resented being lied to during the Watergate scandal, during the Vietnam war. Jimmy Carter's favorite campaign line was "I'll never lie to you," so he won running against Watergate and Vietnam. But then had his own troubles. He couldn't get Iran to release the American hostages it held. Couldn't get the economy going, watched as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Challenger Ronald Reagan asked the voters...

RONALD REAGAN, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

MORTON: They weren't, of course, and he won. Bill Clinton running against the first President Bush had problems, an affair with Gennifer Flowers, allegations about dodging the draft, but in the end the election was about Bush's record. James Carville's slogan, "it's the economy, stupid," carried the day despite Bush's success in the first Gulf War.

ROTHENBERG: Sure. At the time of the first war, his poll numbers were up, he was seen as a leader, but the voters forget. They want to know where are you today, where are we today and what have you done for me lately.

MORTON: Where do the losers stand in May of their reelection years? In a May, 1976 Gallup poll, 47 percent of the voters had a favorable opinion of Gerald Ford. In May, 1980 43 percent had a favorable opinion of Jimmy Carter and in May, 1992, 40 percent had a favorable impression of that President Bush. How about this President Bush in May of his reelection year? 46 percent have a favorable opinion of him. A little better than some of those who lost, but still under 50 percent.

ROTHENBERG: Sure, President Bush is in trouble. That doesn't mean that voters have decided to fire him, but they haven't yet decided to rehire him. This race is up for grabs.

MORTON: Two questions may decide it. Do the voters think the economy is getting better and do they think Iraq is getting worse? Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: John Kerry's presidential campaign today released new income tax information about his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry. According to a news release Mrs. Kerry reports a gross taxable income of more than $2.3 million. She has paid approximately $750,000 towards her federal, state and local taxes which equals 32 percent of her taxable income. Mrs. Kerry received an extension for filing her 2003 taxes. The campaign says she plans to release more information when her return is filed in October.

Still to come on INSIDE POLITICS, Carlos Watson checks the American pulse. Today he goes to Philadelphia to talk with some gays and lesbians to find out what their main concerns are as they prepare to choose a president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Gay marriage is one of the issues in this year's presidential election and next Monday the issue is sure to heat up. That is when gay marriage becomes legal in Massachusetts. While the issue is controversial it is certainly not the only concern of gay voters. As part of his American pulse series, CNN political analyst Carlos Watson met with some gays and lesbians in Philadelphia to find out what their concerns are.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What do you care about in this election? What are the issues that matter to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like equality for women, I would like equality for gay people. I'm sick of being treated like a second-class citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody who lives out of this country can come here and marry an American and have 1,100 more rights than I have right now and I've been here all my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me in this election year, gay marriage is a nonissue. I'm a gay man, yes, I want to be married, yes, I want the 1,138 rights, absolutely, but I think the bread and butter gay issue, the most important is in depth. Employment nondiscrimination, that is in our pocketbook. We can be fired except if you're in different locales in this country for being gay.

KATHY GOMEZ, DEMOCRAT: We are spending $86 billion there in Iraq, but what about what's going on in this country? There's still over 34 million in poverty and we're starting about starting an amendment to ban gay marriage. What about an amendment to insure people? I think what the American public is really worried about are those types of issues.

WATSON: John, I think you have a different point of view.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in local control. I believe in small government. I believe in lower taxes. I think this has been a successful administration. The GDP is at a 20-year high, new home construction is at a 10-year high, our economic spending is increasing, jobs are being created. This is a growing, thriving economy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Not a unanimous set of opinions. And by the way, those interviews by CNN political analyst Carlos Watson. You can watch more of his "American Pulse" coming up tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN's "PAULA ZAHN NOW." You probably heard the names Edwards and Gephardt tossed in in speculation about John Kerry's running mate. Up next, a possible candidate Kerry may have never dreamed of considering, courtesy of our own Jeff Greenfield.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: While the Kerry campaign vets or does research on vice presidential prospects behind closed doors, our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield is happy to talk openly about his thoughts on his selection process -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Friends, are you tired of hearing the same old predictable possibilities for John Kerry's running mate? Are you bored with same stale list of governors, senators and representatives? Would you like choices that really push the outside of the envelope, break outside the box, walk along the cutting edge?

Well, boy, are you in luck for you are with to hear exclusively from me the first genuinely bold radical list of vice presidential possibilities.

(voice-over): For instance, Democrats would love to steal a Southern state like Louisiana. That's why people have suggested outgoing Senator John Breaux or the other senator, Mary Landrieu. Way too safe.

My choice? Edwin Edwards, the former high-living governor of Louisiana. He won that state four times in his flamboyant waves. One year his campaign slogan was "Let the good times roll." It's a perfect antidiv (ph) to John Kerry's reserved image. Moreover, he once defeated a former Klan leader which will help turn out the black vote.

One small problem. Edwards is currently an involuntary guest of the federal government. Some pesky financial stuff. But remember...

SINGING: You made me love you.

GREENFIELD: This is James Michael Curley. The legendary Boston mayor once served as mayor of the Boston while also serving time in a federal prison for mail fraud.

SINGING: I didn't want to do it.

GREENFIELD: In 36 states, ex-convicts are permitted to vote. Talk about appealing to the alienated voter.

Now if Kerry wants to go outside politics, one possibility is Tom Brokaw, outgoing anchor at NBC. He's from the Heartland, he's charismatic and his "greatest generation" books have given him special status.

But for a really bold broadcaster, how about Howard Stern? He reaches 8 million listeners, mostly male.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard's the greatest!

GREENFIELD: The Democrats' weaker gender, and the one-time supporter for President Bush has turned hard against him. And you can put the Stern/Cheney debate on pay-per-view.

But here's a really ground breaking idea. It comes Missouri, a state which -- you have probably heard this 5,000 times -- almost always votes with the winner. Outgoing representative, Dick Gephardt is from there, but he's only won in part of the state. How about someone who's won the whole state? In fact, the whole nation?

Yes, Harry Truman, the Show-Me State's hero. Strong on defense, straight-talking. The perfect answer to the flip-flop problem.

(on camera): What's that, you say? Harry Truman's dead? Hey, I've read the Constitution pretty carefully, and it doesn't say anything specifically about living candidates. Minimum ages? Yes. Maxed out? Not a word.

And anyway, if Missouri could send a dead man to the Senate as it did four years ago, then why shouldn't all America have the same choice? And remember, as always with insights like these, you heard it here first.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: But I'm for a living running mate. I'm with Howard Stern.

All right. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. But before we turn to "CROSSFIRE," we want to let you know Kobe Bryant is about to be arraigned in a courtroom in Eagle, Colorado. He's expected to enter a not guilty plea. We'll take you to Colorado as soon as that arraignment gets underway.

In the meantime, thanks for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow.

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