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Rumsfeld's Frustration?; Interview With Senator Sam Brownback

Aired May 18, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Capitol questions about the conflict in Iraq. Pentagon leaders face more grilling about the prison scandal, the mission and the price tag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how does the administration want to oversee all of this? Well, they're going to ask Larry and Curly to take a look and see what Moe is doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now time to can Bush.

ANNOUNCER: Democrats get revved up about gas prices, but do they have a good plan to solve the problem? Republicans don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reserve is not there just simply to try to change prices.

ANNOUNCER: It's all about access. Disabled Americans score in the Supreme Court, but how will they benefit day to day?



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

To some in Washington, it may seem like Iraq overload. But many members of Congress say they still do not have all the information they need. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meets behind closed doors with lawmakers later this hour. This is a cap to the latest round of public and private sessions on Iraq today. And more Senate testimony on the prisoner abuse scandal is set for tomorrow.

All this appears to be grating on the Pentagon chief and dividing Republicans. Let's begin with our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, a lot of tension bubbling up within the Republican Party over this prison abuse scandal. Specifically, as you mentioned, Secretary Rumsfeld had 12 senators over at the Pentagon this morning for breakfast. Senators there tell CNN that Secretary Rumsfeld expressed deep frustration over the fact, particularly about the Senate investigation of this prison abuse scandal. Secretary Rumsfeld said that he is spending almost all of his time dealing with this. He expressed frustration about all the hearings in the Senate. Secretary Rumsfeld also upset about the fact that three of his generals in the field will be testifying in the Senate tomorrow, Generals Abizaid, General Miller, also General Sanchez. And the message from Secretary Rumsfeld to the senators was that all of these officials are spending so much time dealing with this investigation that they're not having enough time to deal with executing the war on terror.

Now, Chairman Warner, John Warner, the Senate chairman, took some heavy fire not only from Rumsfeld, but also from his counterpart in the House today. Chairman Duncan Hunter in the House lashed out at this Senate hearing that's coming up tomorrow.


REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: All of the troops are in a shooting war right now who need the leadership. By bringing leadership out of theater, jerking out these battlefield commanders, including the theater commander, General Sanchez, and the CENTCOM commander, General Abizaid, who have problems stacking up on their desks right now and there in their commands with respect to force protection, surveillance, deterrence of the enemy and a number of key areas, intelligence operations, and prosecuting this war and protecting our troops...


HENRY: Now that drew a sharp rebuke from Chairman Warner, who came to the television cameras to point out and read a letter that he sent to Secretary Rumsfeld last week.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Given that some witnesses may need to remain in Iraq for operational reasons, we are open to exploring the option of video teleconferences for some of the hearings.


HENRY: Now, the point there is that Chairman Warner was saying that last week he was giving the Pentagon the option of having these generals testify by videoconference and have not to come all of the way back. But Chairman Warner was told privately that these generals were coming back to Washington anyway, so they could testify.

He thinks this is much ado about nothing. Off camera, Chairman Warner also said he is not feeling pressure from his colleagues, although conservatives on that Senate Armed Services Committee, like John Cornyn, told CNN earlier he was at this breakfast this morning, and Senator Cornyn says he shares the concern that Secretary Rumsfeld has that maybe the Pentagon is spending too much time on this, maybe the Senate has to hold back from having so many hearings. But another key Republican, John McCain, said today as well off camera that he believes that these hears are critical. He backed up Chairman Warner and said that these hearings need to move forward because the prison abuse scandal, according to Senator McCain, is undermining the war effort. And he said the only way to get it behind the United States is to continue to have a very aggressive investigation and have these hearings -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry, our congressional correspondent, with the very latest from Capitol Hill. Ed, thank you so much.

HENRY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, President Bush again today tried to link the U.S. mission in Iraq to the broader war on terror, even as he reached out for support from Jewish voters. Bush got a rousing welcome from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee here in Washington. He told the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group that freedom in Iraq will bring greater security to the Middle East and the world.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In time, Iraq will be a free and Democratic nation at the heart of the Middle East. This will send the message, a powerful message from Damascus to Tehran that democracy can bring hope to lives in every culture.



WOODRUFF: The President told APEC that spirits are high among U.S. troops in Iraq. He downplayed the effect on morale from the prisoner abuse scandal.

Well, let's talk more about Iraq now, the mission and the politics, with Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Brownback, I want to ask you first about what our correspondent Ed Henry was just reporting, that not only Secretary Rumsfeld expressing frustration over the time, his time and the time of his generals being spent on this ongoing investigation into the prisoner abuse scandal, but also one of your colleagues, Senator Cornyn, over in the House, Duncan Hunter, frustrated, upset even with the fact that the Senate Foreign -- Senate Armed Services Committee prolonging this investigation. Are you bothered by that?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I think one of the key issues we've got here is the confidence of the American public. And as long as the American public is with us, we can do and move things on forward. As long as we have those questions, we have to address them.

So I think it's important that we get them addressed. I know it is taking a lot of time, and that is problematic. But we've got to deal with the questions really that the public is asking, and that needs to be handled.

WOODRUFF: So you're not concerned that these generals by taking their time to appear before the committee are using up precious time they'd be spending on war-related decisions?

BROWNBACK: Well, it is precious time. But my point is that the weakest part of the American military is the American public opinion.

People in this country have to support what we're doing. And so if we have to have the generals and the secretary answer these sorts of things so the public feels like they've got a full picture, that is time well spent, even though it is precious time and it does take focus away from things they might be doing in Iraq. We've got have the American public with us in this war.

WOODRUFF: Senator Brownback, with the assassination yesterday of the leader of the Iraqi Governing Council, are you now confident that all is on track for the June 30 handover?

BROWNBACK: I am confident. And I'm not only confident, we have to do this.

We should have handed over leadership to Iraqis much earlier. And, indeed, now, even 10 of the 26 different governing councils or the ministries are in complete Iraqi control. But Iraq has to be run by the Iraqis, and that's a key for us in moving on forward, even though there's going to be security problems and security issues as we move forward, as there are now.

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm sure you know most of the polls that have been done in Iraq show most Iraqi people now want U.S. troops out of their country. Are you confident they're not going to ask for that to happen as soon as this -- or soon after this handover takes place?

BROWNBACK: I doubt that that will occur. Where they have elected officials, people elected inside of Iraq, they've elected mostly moderate individuals there. So I thank there's one thing that they're saying, yes, we want the U.S. to leave, but we want more first -- first we want sovereignty, and we want to be able to have a sovereign Iraq that can stand on its own.

Security-wise, that's just not going to be viable soon after June 30. It's going to take some time.

WOODRUFF: Well, when asked if this new authority, new governing body, whatever it is, has the authority to ask U.S. troops to leave after July the 1st, officials from the State Department are say saying, yes, they will have that authority, officials from the Pentagon are saying no. Which is it?

BROWNBACK: Well, I think they'll have the authority to ask and do almost anything they want to within the guidance of what they can do. Remember, this is an interim government. It is not elected. It will be selected basically by the international community.

It won't be until we have the first of next year you'll have national elections in January that you'll have a duly-elected and authorized government. This interim government was limited by its own constitution that the Iraqi Governing Council put in place. They'll be able to ask and do a number of things, but we won't have the legitimacy of the Iraqi people's election until the first part of next year.

WOODRUFF: All right. We'll have to leave it there for now. Senator Sam Brownback with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thank you very much.

BROWNBACK: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, the situation in Iraq has not helped keep a lid on rising fuel prices here at home. The average price of regular gas nationwide now tops $2 a gallon for the first time ever. And Democrats are casting blame on President Bush.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where's the President who, when he was campaigning for President, said in New Hampshire, what we need is a President who jawbones OPEC to lower those gas prices? Well, I haven't seen any jawboning, have you?


WOODRUFF: In Oregon today, John Kerry said he would temporarily suspend filling the strategic petroleum reserve in order to provide relief from soaring prices. We'll have more on his comments later. But Kerry is not the only Democrat pouncing on this issue today. Here now, our national correspondent, Bruce Morton.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gas prices are way up, no doubt about it. And the American Automobile Association says more Americans will be driving this coming Memorial Day Weekend, 3.4 percent more than last year.

Are the high prices a political issue? Democrats hope so. Senate Democrats want the president to release some oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is we have to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.

MORTON: The administration won't do that. Treasury Secretary John Snow says the oil is for genuine emergencies, not price fluctuations. Early in his administration, the president had hoped to increase the supply of oil.

BUSH: We recognize that we need more supply. And when you read the reports, you'll see we've laid out constructive ways to make sure that there are more supply available. MORTON: But events, 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, interfered with that. So are gas prices an election issue? Probably not in Bush's home state of Texas, or John Kerry's Massachusetts. But in some of the battleground states that may decide the election -- in Ohio, gasoline was $1.68 a gallon back on March 1st; $2.01 today, a 33 cent boost.

In Pennsylvania, $1.68 then, $1.99 now, according to the American Automobile Association. A 31 cent jump.

In Oregon, where Kerry campaigned today, $1.80 March 1st, $2.27 today. A 47 cent increase, one of the biggest in the country.

In Arizona, $1.59 then, $2.13 now. A 54 cent jump. And the heavy summer driving season hasn't really started yet.

Gas prices may come down, though experts are not forecasting that. And in a country full of drivers, everybody knows how much they pay for gas. So it could be a political issue, a negative for a president whose handling of the economy already gets in poll after poll low marks.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Amid all the election year debate, Americans with disabilities may not be the most powerful constituency, but they can claim a new victory in the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll talk about that next.

Plus, Carlos Watson heads into the stands to find out how the presidential vase playing out in showdown states.


WOODRUFF: The U.S. Supreme court has provided an unexpected boost to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The high court has upheld the right of a paraplegic man to sue because he had to crawl up the steps of a Tennessee courthouse that lacked an elevator.

Joining us now, Andrew Imparato. He is president of the American Association of People with Disabilities. And in Princeton, New Jersey, former Congressman Tony Coelho. He's the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you.

And Tony -- I'm sorry, Andy Imparato, let me start with you. Some people are saying this ruling by the high court yesterday is a significant civil rights victory. But what are its practical effects for people with disabilities?

ANDREW IMPARATO, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Well, this case was really about what kind of power does Congress have to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in the United States. If we had lost this decision it would have put into question Congress's ability to protect our civil rights, vis-a-vis, the states. They would have held that part of the ADA was unconstitutional.

So because we won, it signals that Congress is appropriately using its power under the Constitution to protect our civil rights. The case was about access to court so that practical impact immediately of the case is that people have a right to sue for money damages if they're unable to access the state courthouse.

WOODRUFF: But it was a narrow ruling, as I understand it. What didn't the court address?

IMPARATO: The court could have ruled on the constitutionality of all of Title 2 of the ADA, which deals with everything that states do, vis-a-vis people with disabilities. Instead, they said we're gong to deal with courts because under the due process clause in the 14th Amendment, we see that's a particularly important right that people with disabilities should have, equal access to the courts. But we're not going to address other issues, like equal access to voting, equal access to education, health care those kind of issues.

WOODRUFF: Tony Coelho, is that a disappointment, that the court didn't rule broadly here.

TONY COELHO, AUTHOR, AMERIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT: Oh, yes, it is, Judy. I think what happened here is that the four justices who constantly have been with us made this very narrow in order to get Justice O'Connor get her fifth vote in order to get this passed. But this, you know, only opens the door to the state courts for those of us with disabilities, but the rest of the doors are still closed.

We'll have to see whether or not the court permits the law that was adopted. We established very carefully that states were discriminating across the board. And we, in the Congress, went ahead and adopted the ADA to prevent that. Now we've got to get the courts to rule in our favor, and we'll see what happens as we go forward. It's a critical issue for those of with us disabilities.

WOODRUFF: And Andy Imparato, for the community of people with disabilities, does this give you hope down the line that the court is going to smile on what you come to them with in the future?

IMPARATO: Put it this way, I have a lot more hope today than I did before I saw the decision yesterday. If you look at where this court has been in disability, it's been abysmal.

This court has ruled against us more often than not. They've taken away rights from people under the definition of disability, they've taken away rights in terms of the Constitutional rulings in the area of employment. A lot of the bad rulings have been in the area of employment.

So we have access to courts. But as Tony said, we've left for another day important other issues like access to housing, access to health care, employment, voting, those kinds of issues. WOODRUFF: I want to broaden this out a little bit politically.

Tony Coelho, you went to the Democratic candidates and I believe to President Bush some months ago. You asked him to address issues of concern to those in the disability community. Are they addressing concerns, the two candidates, John Kerry and George W. Bush?

COELHO: Well, as you know, Judy, I issued a challenge in July -- I mean, October, in New York City, urging all of the candidates for president, Democrat and Republican. The Democrats all responded favorably. The White House has yet to do so.

Basically, what those of us in the disability community want is appointments of judges that will be favorable towards the ADA. There are several other things, but President Bush has yet to respond to the challenge. And I would hope those of us in the disability community keep his feet to the fire and demand an answer before November as to whether or not he'll make these appointments. John Kerry has said yes, and so let's see what happens when we go forward.

This is a critical issue for us, because whoever gets president in the next four years will probably make two appointments to the Supreme court. It could be critical with a 5-4 vote, and it could go either way for us.

WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, we are going to have to leave it there. Former U.S. Congressman Tony Coelho, and Andrew Imparato, who's head of the American Association of People with Disabilities, good to see both of you. We appreciate it.

COELHO: Thank you, Judy.

IMPARATO: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

All right. We'll head to the campaign trail at the top of the hour for the latest on candidates Bush and Kerry.

Also, checking the American pulse. Hispanic voters in Arizona tell us our Carlos Watson what's important to them in the November election.


WOODRUFF: In a series of reports we call "The American Pulse," CNN political analyst Carlos Watson has been traveling the showdown states and talking to groups of people about the upcoming election. He recently spoke with a group of Hispanic voters in Arizona who are members of a co-ed softball league.


CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So who plans to vote in this November's election?



WATSON: Everyone?


WATSON: Who's made up their mind already?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm swinging toward Kerry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a disabled Vietnam veteran, and I don't like the fact that we're in Vietnam -- I mean, in Iraq.

WATSON: Priscilla (ph), what about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going for Bush, just for the reason he started something. He needs to finish it.

WATSON: And that something you're referring to is what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, the war that's going on now. But I'm still for him because, why bring in Kerry to clean up something he started?

WATSON: Where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still pretty much undecided at this point. I think I sway a little bit more towards Kerry because I have a very strong feelings that we've lingered too long in Iraq.

WATSON: Harry (ph), what about you? Who are you leaning towards?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More toward Kerry, and it's mostly because I don't agree with what Bush is doing.

WATSON: If Kerry becomes president, what are some of the things you hope that he'll do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully that the war would end. I mean, of course. And I think our economy is shot to heck right now and we need to recover from that.

WATSON: And when you say it's shot to heck, why do you say that? Have you felt it personally?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm paying close to $2 a gallon of gasoline right now. Nobody can tell us why we're paying so much. And it bugs me. The price of meals, the price of beef, everything's going up.

WATSON: Do you blame the president for the weakness we've had in the economy over the last several years? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know what they say. You've got the office, it's your baby, it's your show. He's pushed a lot of legislation through that has benefited the rich. We're getting crumbs down here.

WATSON: Michelle (ph), where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I will vote for Bush. I do agree that the loss of American life is devastating. What happens if we did just don't do anything? What happens if we just leave Iraq alone, pull our troops out?

Another 9/11, it could happen every year. Terrorism is not going to go anywhere. These people, they're breeding little baby terrorists over there and we need to take care of it. And I think Bush is doing a good job at that.

I think Osaka bin Laden will be caught right before the election. I mean, come on, they have to know where he is.

WATSON: And what will that do to you? Will that change your vote in any way?



WOODRUFF: You can hear Carlos Watson's entire interview tonight on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, right here on CNN.

Well, we know a little bit more today about the personal finances of Mr. and Mrs. John Kerry. We'll have an accounting of the Kerry family's cash ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

And how do academics grade Kerry and President Bush? The answer may surprise you.



ANNOUNCER: Gas prices top two bucks a gallon for regular.

KERRY: We need a president who's fighting for the American worker, the American family at the fuel pumps to lower the price of gasoline.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes like the Americans do that gas prices are too high.

ANNOUNCER: So who's got the better plan?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oregon has one of the highest job losses of any state in the country since George Bush has taken office in the last three years. ANNOUNCER: And that's why Howard Dean and the Democrats think John Kerry can keep Oregon blue. We'll spotlight the race in a state that could decide November's election.

Who do you want John Kerry to pick as his running mate? We'll show you the results of our online vote.

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. If John Kerry and his party has their way, Americans would think of President Bush every time they paid record high gas prices. The Democrats went full speed on this issue today, and the Bush administration pushed back.

First, Kerry's line on the pumped prices. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley traveled with Kerry to Oregon.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two bucks a gallon nationwide. A politician can get some mileage out of that.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where's the president who when he was campaigning for president in New Hampshire, what we need is a president who jawbones OPEC to lower those gas prices? Well, I haven't seen any jawboning, have you?

CROWLEY: John Kerry says if he were president, he'd press OPEC to increase supply and help lower prices by temporarily diverting some of the crude oil intended for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve into the general U.S. marketplace.

KERRY: Bottom line, we need a president who's fighting for the American worker, the American family at the fuel pumps to lower the price of gasoline in the United States.

CROWLEY: The average price of gasoline in Portland runs about $2.30, but none the voters brought in to a round table discussion on economic issues asked about gasoline.

Still a coast to coast full-court press by Democrats is testament to the political potency of pump prices.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: He's been silent on the issue. He's been unengaged and shown absolutely no leadership.

CROWLEY: Piling on with Kerry, the Senate's top Democrat, Democratic governors who wrote the president asking for an investigation of fuel pricing structures and the Democratic party chairman.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: This administration isn't just bought and paid for by the oil industry, it's owned, locked stock and oil barrel.

If we went beyond ball games and stadiums, in the Bush White House you'd have the Exxon Cabinet Room, the Mobile West Wing and the Halliburton Oval Office.

CROWLEY: For Kerry, the eye-popping price of gasoline is a political two-for, a nuance free issue that affects everybody and another way to portray the president is unaware and unconcerned with daily life in America.

KERRY: This is a country that's built on fairness. And what's happening today is not fair to the average worker of this nation.

CROWLEY (on camera): With one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Oregon looks like fertile territory for Kerry, but Ralph Nader could be a factor here. Hoping to offset that, the Kerry camp is looking for a heavy assist from former rival Howard Dean. Dean campaigned alongside Kerry for his two-day visit here.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Portland, Oregon.


WOODRUFF: For its part, the Bush White House is rejecting pressure from Democrats to use the Strategic Oil Reserve as a vehicle to lower fuel cost. Let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, these soaring gas prices have really become a soar spot for the Bush administration and really a very hot political topic here. White House officials today saying today they are not going to dip into the Strategic Oil Reserve of the country.

They say, yes, gas prices are up but this is not a national crisis, these are price fluctuations. We heard from Secretary of Energy Spence Abraham who said the idea of U.S. policy is to expand energy sources, not to drain the ones that exist.


SPENCER ABRAHAM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Instead of tapping resources that can be, in my judgment, tapped in an environmentally friendly way, domestic resources, domestic oil, what Congress is saying is let's put ourselves in a position where we're less prepared to deal with a crisis and an emergency by emptying the emergency petroleum reserve. I just don't find that to make much sense.


MALVEAUX: Now the question, of course, what is the administration going to do about this? White House Spokesman Scott McClellan saying that he is pressuring Congress -- the president is pressing Congress to pass the Comprehensive Energy Plan, the legislation. He says, of course, it has been stuck for some time. That is a long-term strategy. The big question here is what is the White House going to do in the short-term strategy? You're looking at possible energy shortages, blackouts and of course those expensive gas prices at the pump.

Here's what McClellan said earlier today.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Remaining actively engaged with producers around the world, making sure there's not price gouging going on, opposing any attempts to increase gas taxes which this president has stood is firmly against. And working with local officials to see if there are regional spikes going on that we need to address.


MALVEAUX: And of course, Judy, the big question is whether or not all of that is going to be enough in the months to come. And with summer right around the corner, we'll just have to way and see -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Separately today, Suzanne, we know the president made the announcement of a reappointment. I guess it was designed to calm the markets. Was that what that was all about?

MALVEAUX: It looks perhaps it has done what it was meant to do. We're talking about Alan Greenspan, the president renominating him as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

And of course, this is the fifth term, four-year term that he will have served. But the glitch in all this, of course, is that his term limit is in 2006 in February. Still speculation what happens after that. But this White House says they're not engaged in speculation.

And of course that also assumes that it will be President Bush who's going to will be serving those four more years -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: That's right. All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.

Meantime, the Bush and Kerry families are not having to pinch pennies to afford a full tank of gas or anything else. We have new figures on John and Teresa Heinz Kerry's finances. The senator's reported net worth between $668,000 and $2.7 million. We're still not clear about his heiress wife's net worth. But Teresa Heinz Kerry reports assets of at least $188.2 million.

While the first family cannot match that, they're in pretty good shape, financially. Last week the Bushes reported an estimated net worth between $7.7 and $19.1 million. That's a pretty big spread.

More money headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." It looks like many of the nation's professors are putting their money behind John Kerry. A survey for "The Boston Globe" finds that employees at four- year colleges have given Kerry more than $1.3 million. They've given George W. Bush about $512,000. Four years ago, Bush raised slightly more money than Al Gore on college campuses.

The new Democratic Network today released a series of TV ads aimed at the nation's Hispanic voters. One ad features Hispanic elected officials such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson explaining why they think the Democratic Party offers the most opportunities for Hispanic-Americans. The ads will run for a month starting tomorrow in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico at a cost of $600,000.

The first lady and the president's father are on the campaign trail today at home and abroad. Protesters gathered outside the London hotel where former President Bush attended a fund raiser for his son's reelection campaign. Some demonstrators wore hoods similar to those placed on Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad.

First lady Laura Bush is helping out the Republican cause as well. She's attending a congressional candidate fund raiser in South Dakota followed by a Bush campaign rally and dinner tonight in Las Vegas.

For John Kerry, the target state of the day was Oregon. Up next, snapshots of a battleground state that is not the liberal bastion many people think.

Also ahead, John F. Kennedy's grace and power. We'll talk to the author of a book on the private world of the Kennedy White House.

And later, the votes are in. Find out who won a very unscientific selection of a running mate for John Kerry.


WOODRUFF: Senior Bush strategist Matthew Dowd says the president's declining approval ratings could make a November victory difficult if the numbers continue to decline. Matthew Dowd tells the "Washington Times," quote, "if his approval numbers move above 50, it's very difficult to lose. If his numbers move below 40, it is very difficult to win. Those are the facts."

The latest CNN/"TIME" poll puts the Bush approval rating at 46 percent.

Out west, the state of Oregon is holding primary elections today even though there are few contested races on ballot, Oregon is already the focus of close attention from both the Bush and the Kerry campaigns. Our Bill Schneider has more on Oregon's new role as a showdown state.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): John Kerry is in Oregon for the primary. Say Oregon to people who follow national politics and they'll think tree huggers. The state does have a powerful environmental movement and a tradition of cultural liberalism. It has decriminalized medical marijuana, legalized assisted suicide and earlier this year, began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the Portland area.

Oregon has voted Democratic for president in the last four elections. But Oregon voted for Al Gore by an extremely narrow margin, half a percent, fewer than 7,000 votes. It's actually a divided state. The coastal and urban areas vote like northern California, liberal for Gore. The rest of the state votes like Idaho, conservative for Bush, the state is politically polarized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The consequence of all of that that these changes were economic which have reduced the employment base in the traditional industries and cultural have been to polarize politics in the state to move the Republicans to the right and the Democrats to the left.

SCHNEIDER: Guess who showed up in Oregon to campaign with Kerry this week.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You are looking for those qualities that brought Howard and myself and so many of the rest of us into the political arena.

SCHNEIDER: But one issue overrides the divisions, jobs. For most of the past three years Oregon has had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Last month it was still higher than the rest of the U.S.. The recession devastated both Oregon economies, wood chips and microchips.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The high tech is the largest single component of Oregon's economy and so when the high tech bust hit in 2001 it was quite devastating.

SCHNEIDER: So Kerry and Howard Dean come to Oregon and do a round table and a rally on the economy.

KERRY: And we are going to end this practice where American workers are subsidizing the loss of their own job. It's over.

SCHNEIDER: Recently, the job situation in Oregon has been looking better, at least on paper.

SUE HARVEY, CLAIMS SUPERVISOR: My sense is it doesn't feel better to us. We're still processing a high volume of claims.

SCHNEIDER: Will the recovery be fast enough to save President Bush? Maybe. One poll of Oregon voters this month shows a dead heat. Another shows Kerry with a two-point lead.


SCHNEIDER: Oregon is the only state that votes entirely by mail. No polling places. People get their ballots in the mail and they have three weeks to cast their vote. You know, one campaign manager said it's like the movie "Groundhog Day." An election day that's 20-days long. And no exit polls. WOODRUFF: And no exit polls. All right. Some people are thankful for that. Bill Schneider, thank you.

And we have a key development to tell you about from another showdown state, Ohio. We recently profiled Stark county, Ohio as a key bellwether region in the state for this fall's election. President Bush carried Stark county in the last election. Over the weekend the Timken company which is the area's largest employer announced it is closing three plants at a cost of 1,300 jobs. This comes in addition to the 3,500 jobs lost in the county in the last three years. In an area where jobs are already a concern, these layoffs are seen as a potential problem for President Bush.

A new look at a popular topic. Up next, my conversation with author Sally Bedell Smith about her book, "Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House."


WOODRUFF: A new book on the Kennedy White House offers intriguing new insights into the lives of both President John Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy. The book is "Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House." I recently spoke with Sally Bedell Smith and I started by asking her since there are so many books about the Kennedys, why did she want to write another one?


SALLY BEDELL SMITH, AUTHOR, "GRACE AND POWER": Well, the fact is that, you know, there's been a lot of mythology and there have been a lot of attack biographies but in fact there had never been a complete portrait of the Kennedys and their circle during the White House period and so that's what I -- that's what I set out to write. It was such Washington -- Washington was such a different world then. The White House was so different and so what I wanted to do was capture the daily life of the Kennedys and the spirit and the youth that they brought to the country. They were so young. Jackie was 31.

WOODRUFF: She was 31.

SMITH: He was 43 and in the front of the book I have the whole cast of characters and all their names and nearly all of them were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

WOODRUFF: So hard for some of us to believe. When you say their circle, that was an important part of this book in what way?

SMITH: It was a very important part of this book. In a sense, all politics is personal. Every -- every president has to rely on friends and advisers and families as does George Bush, as does aspiring president John Kerry and nobody had ever really explored the nature of those relationships and who was influential and how and why and that was very significant and the sort of intersection of the personal lives with the political and public decisions and the major events that affected everybody was an integral part of sort of weaving together these stories in the book. WOODRUFF: Do you find that those personal relationships that the Kennedys had did have a big influence on the decisions he made as president?

SMITH: Well, they did in ways large and small. I mean, you see somebody like Ted Sorenson who was his -- somebody called him his intellectual blood bank and his alter ego and I developed an understanding of how they worked together. And also, the other aspect of their relationship which was a sort of emotional aspect. You never think of it in those terms, but Ted Sorenson was a very flinty character, very doer, but yet his marriage collapsed during the course of the Kennedy White House and one of the most surprising things he told me was that at one point Jack Kennedy came to him and he said, I'm really sorry. I feel as if I was sort of responsible for that.

WOODRUFF: What about, Sally, you also write about how President Kennedy managed the people around him. How he brought, I think you say at one point, the best out of them and often good. Maybe not always, but how did he do that? How did he work people?

SMITH: Well, he had a lot of different ways to work people, he was compartmentalized and everybody had a role. He did have very good instincts for what people's talents were. Sometimes he worked them against each other, sort of in the interest of creative tension. For example, he told Douglas Dillon who was a Republican, he had three Republicans in his administration and Douglas Dillon was his secretary of the treasury and he said you will be my chief economic adviser but by the way I have to also -- I'm hiring Walter Heller who is a liberal Democrat and he's going to be the sort of public face, but you and I are really going to create the economic policy and at the same time he told Walter Heller that he would be the counterwave to Dillon.

So they both had roles that they were playing. Heller sort of figured it out by end and he was a little bit miffed about it, but in fact it was Dillon and Kennedy who were doing things like creating a tax cut for business and personal income tax. So that's the kind of example of how he figured out how to place people in roles and how to maneuver them.


WOODRUFF: Sally Bedell Smith, the book, "Grace and Power."

John Kerry's choice for a running mate remains a political secret, but the virtual voters think they know the name at the top of the list. Coming up we'll find out who comes out on top in our veepstakes game.


WOODRUFF: We have a winner in the veepstakes game. Web surfers have picked the person they think would be Senator John Kerry's running mate and that it wasn't even close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF (voice-over): The virtual voters have spoken. suffers predict John Kerry will choose John Edwards as his No. 2. The North Carolina senator beat out 31 other candidates in the veepstakes game and he walloped Wesley Clark in the final two-man showdown.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: What does this mean? Next to nothing.

WOODRUFF: CNN polling director Keating Holland devised the game, but admits guessing the ultimate outcome is beyond even his polling powers.

HOLLAND: There is no way and there never has been a way to predict how one person will make one decision. It's totally up to John Kerry, only he knows and he probably doesn't even know himself at the point.

WOODRUFF: For what it's worth the veepstakes game has scored in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next vice president of the United States Jack Kemp.

WOODRUFF: The 1996 online voters picked Jack Kemp and so did Bob Dole. In 2000 they were a little off, choosing then Congressman J.C. Watts for George W. Bush's No. 2. And Kerry himself as Al Gore's likely sidekick.

Kerry is tight-lipped about the whole VP process.

KERRY: I'll pick somebody before the convention and that's my story and I'm sticking by it.

WOODRUFF: But if he's looking for advice more than 54,000 online gamesters have already delivered.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry, are you listening? We'll see.

A county commission candidate in Florida says he was tired of people stealing his campaign signs. So he took matters into his own hands. Pal Howell says he put nails in campaign signs to stick anyone who tried to take them. It worked when a man was stuck in a finger as he tried to remove a sign he says was posted on his property without his permission. Police are investigating. As one detective put it, "as if we didn't have enough to do."

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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