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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Kerry and Nader: A Meeting of the Minds?; Interview With Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Mark Pryor; Interview With Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Aired May 19, 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: Did John Kerry lay his cards on the table? We'll investigate what the Democrat and Independent rival, Ralph Nader, talked about behind closed doors.

Do people who have a lot in common with Kerry plan to vote for him? Our poll numbers reveal some surprises.

A general report on Iraqi prisoner abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No doubt we have made mistakes in Abu Ghraib. We have suffered a setback.

ANNOUNCER: Did senators get the answers they were looking for?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

If John Kerry learned anything from Al Gore's campaign experience four years ago, it may be don't underestimate Ralph Nader. Today, the Democratic presidential candidate met with the Independent who could cost him votes just days after Nader suggested that the Kerry camp was giving him the cold shoulder. I'll talk with Nader about the meeting a little later, but right now, our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has details on the face-to-face here in Washington -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Judy, you're right. The Kerry camp doesn't need to be told that, in fact, Ralph Nader's candidacy could be and might already be a problem for the Kerry camp, particularly so now that the public is growing increasingly against the war. Ralph Nader has been against the war, unlike John Kerry.

Just a couple of hours ago, Kerry told The Associated Press a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush. Now, anything that direct is not likely to work on Mr. Nader, who is notoriously stubborn and has rejected any criticism that he caused Al Gore, in fact, the White House. So the Kerry campaign advanced this meeting, saying these two men have a lot in common, there are many things they have worked together with, and they called this session the beginning of a long process.

The Nader meeting is also coming on the heels of a couple of others that John Kerry had today that are both politically and geographically important. Returning to his old haunts, Kerry dropped in to visit retiring Senator John Breaux, a conservative to moderate Democrat from Louisiana, a presidentially Republican state which camp Kerry has signaled it wants to play in this time.

Next up, he went over to see Robert Byrd and John Rockefeller, among the more liberal Democrats from the state of West Virginia, a Democrat-leaning state that Bush won by a hair because the Kerry camp says Al Gore ignored it until time had ran out. Kerry strategists say they won't make the same mistakes.

Add to that that joint Kerry-Dean appearance over the past days in Oregon, capped off with a jovial, cozy little plane ride, where the two men played hearts and told reporters they really did have a lot in common. The message for those who are not already drowning in this, part unity. Camp Kerry is all over it, and for a couple of good reasons.

The first is we now hear from the Dean people he has been able to raise about $500,000 so far just over the past couple of days through a Web site that he put up for John Kerry. Also, taking a look at the numbers, which we went back and looked, Judy, in 19 -- I'm sorry, in 2000, 86 percent of Democrats supported Al Gore. Right now, at this moment -- I'm sorry, 86 percent for Al Gore at this moment, 95 percent of Democrats support John Kerry.

They're roughly even with Republicans and Independents. So it's the Democrats that have made all the difference. So there is a reason you reach out to a moderate like John Breaux, and then you reach out to someone like Nader. It makes a difference, and it's what's making the difference in the polls right now.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating those numbers. All right, Candy, something else altogether. You reported yesterday Kerry, the Democrats pushing hard on this whole issue of gas prices that have been going up. They've been pointing fingers at the White House.

Well, today, the President fired back. He reportedly -- and we're going to show this right now -- rejected John Kerry's proposal to temporarily stop filling up the strategic petroleum reserve and he tried to turn the tables back on the Democrats and the Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the one hand, they decried the price at the pump, and on the other hand, they won't do anything about it. They won't take action.

Congress needs to pass the energy plan. If people had acted on my energy Bill when I submitted it three years ago, we would be in a much better situation today.

Secondly, we will not play politics with the strategic petroleum reserve. That petroleum reserve is in place in case of major disruptions of energy supplies to the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: So Candy, how vulnerable is the Bush camp on this, and are Democrats going to keep the pressure on?

CROWLEY: Well, look, it's the overarching picture that Democrats are concentrated on now. It's a good way to kind of use as an example for what the Democrats are pushing, and that is, George Bush doesn't care about normal people's problems, he doesn't care about the middle class. He hasn't acted on gas prices, he hasn't acted on health care. That's been their main -- the main theme of camp Kerry.

They think this is a good way, it needs no nuance. One of those issues, you know, you just say gas prices, everybody's talking about it. You get in a cab, somebody's talking about it. So it's an issue with a lot of leg, and it's an issue that the Kerry camp believes they can, in fact, use to illustrate that George Bush is out of touch, that all-important line in polls, cares about people like you. They're trying to drive those numbers down for Bush.

So, yes, they are going to keep at it. The DNC has put up a Web site to talk about George Bush's ties with rich people in the oil industry, to talk about how much this is costing people in given States. They think this is a very good example of an overarching issue.

WOODRUFF: Whether there's a direct connection or not.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. If you can make the connection, go ahead and make it, right?

WOODRUFF: Grand old petroleum. We saw that. OK. Candy, thank you very much.

CROWLEY: Sure.

WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the fight for Iraq. Top Army officers today defended their handling of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The top commanders said that U.S. military personnel previously disciplined in the scandal may still face criminal charges. And General John Abizaid denied that the abuse was condoned or was widespread.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, CENTRAL COMMAND: We understood that there were problems in the detainee system linked to the intelligence system, linked to the political system that had to be addressed. And we were working on them. But I would also like to remind you that these images are not the kind of thing that we thought was happening out there, that anyone in the chain of command would have condoned or allow to be practiced.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: During the hearing, the chairman of the committee, John Warner, revealed that the Pentagon has found another disk of images documenting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. We are joined now by two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

First to you, Senator Pryor. Did General Abizaid put your mind to rest that what went on in this instance, these instances that we're aware of at Abu Ghraib was not something that was widespread, it was not something that was systemic?

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D), ARKANSAS: I don't know if he put my mind at rest. But I'll tell you, he made a good witness today. He was contrite. He took responsibility. He acknowledged that there were a lot of problems, not just at this one facility but others. But also, they really emphasized today that the problems have been corrected.

You know, one of the questions that you talked about a few moments ago was how far up the chain will this go, how many more people will be punished? And that was a question that we really did not get a clear answer to today. But I have a lot of confidence in General Abizaid.

WOODRUFF: How far up the chain of command do you think it will go, Senator Sessions?

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Well, we had a good hearing on that. I think a number of questions were answered. Certainly, it's very clear that the top commanders in the field, General Sanchez and General Abizaid and General Miller, had not in any way issued any orders that would have justified this kind of activity. In fact, their directives showed just the contrary.

Yes, this was war time, yes, there were a lot of people being brought in these prisons and they were losing control of it. They were aware of that. But that did not justify these kind of actions.

If people were overwhelmed with work, how in the world did they have time to abuse prisoners like this? So that's just not a justification. But I think it's important for us to get it out there, for the generals to be up front about it, to explain what they did, what mistakes they made, and so the world can know what happened.

WOODRUFF: There was a report today in The New York Times, Senator Pryor, about the Army trying to restrict visits by the International Red Cross after it learned about these allegations of abuse. Where does that lead, do you think?

PRYOR: Well, I saw that news story today, and you know the timing of that could not have been more coincidental from the standpoint of our hearing today, because we asked about that. And, you know, the bottom line is that the International Red Cross did notify us repeatedly and in different ways that we had problems in this prison.

And as best I can tell and best I can understand it, you know, for the moment at least, that for a long period of time, these complaints and concerns went unnoticed, or, you know, unresponded to. And then at some point, the gravity of the situation finally got everyone's attention and then they started working on it.

And my sense is, once they started working on it, they really did start working on it, and they really probably now are in compliance with every conceivable Geneva Convention provision. But there was a period of time where conditions for Iraqis in those prisons was not very good.

WOODRUFF: Senator Sessions, I want to turn the corner and ask about the overall security situation in Iraq. We read this morning in the newspaper some quotes from a Kurdish member of the Iraqi Governing Council who says i something isn't done about security, there will be no transfer of power.

I'm just going to briefly quote. He said, "Never in Iraq has it been like this, never even under Saddam." He said, "People are killed, kidnapped and assaulted, children are taken away, women are raped. Nobody is afraid of any punishment."

SESSIONS: Well, I think there is a problem with the criminal element in Iraq. And it's not good. But as General Abizaid said, he did not agree with that comment because we've seen the prisons Saddam Hussein had. We know the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people he abused and killed.

So there's some frustration there. It's important for us to get these Iraqi forces up, the Iraqi police departments up. They can function. They can do this job.

General Patreas (ph) has been sent there, the former commander of the 101st. And we have got a big challenge, but we have got to get the local people who speak the language. American military can't be a law enforcement agency because they can't conduct interviews. And we've got to have the locals help.

WOODRUFF: Senator Pryor, are you distressed, concerned about what today and what in recent days just seems to be a growing chorus of worry, despair, if you will, about the future of Iraq?

PRYOR: I am concerned about that. And I must tell you that Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, has shown tremendous leadership on this issue. He's been holding these hearings. Apparently the House is not holding any more hearings.

But he's been holding hearings. He's been standing tall. And one thing he announced today is that the Pentagon has now told him that they have a new disk of photos.

Now, we don't know how many that is. We don't know what's on there. But I'm going to tell you, both Jeff and I sat through and watched and looked at those other photographs that have not been released. And, by the way, that's the Pentagon's decision, not ours. It's their decision to release those. But I'm going to tell you, there's some very disturbing, very violent and graphic images on those. And I'm just fearful of what this new disk will show.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, gentlemen, we are going to have to leave it there for time reasons. But I want to thank both of you, Senator Sessions, Senator Pryor, for being with us. We appreciate it. Thank you both.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

PRYOR: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Apparently more sniping, though, today between House and Senate Republicans one day after they crossed swords over the extent of the Senate's investigation into prisoner abuse. Today, while being questioned by a reporter, House Speaker Dennis Hastert vented about Senator John McCain's frequent refusal to tow the party line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a speech by John McCain the other day.

DENNIS HASTERT, HOUSE SPEAKER: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain, sir.

HASTERT: Where's he from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a Republican from Arizona.

HASTERT: He's a Republican?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyway, his observation was, "Never before when we've been at war have we been worrying about cutting taxes." And his question was, "Where is the sacrifice?" So we have the war in Iraq and...

HASTERT: If you want to see the sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed and Bethesda. There's the sacrifice in this country. We're trying to make sure that they have the ability to fight this war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, here now is what former Vietnam prisoner of war McCain said in response to Speaker Hastert, and I'm quoting, "The speaker is correct in that nothing we are called upon to do comes close to matching the heroism of our troops. All we are called upon to do is not spend our nation into bankruptcy while our soldiers risk their lives. I fondly remember a time when real Republicans stood for fiscal responsibility. Apparently those days are long gone for some in our party."

Again, a comment from John McCain.

Well, some Democrats also have their political knives out. Coming up, a new stop Nader campaign in the making. We'll have a report, and I'll ask Ralph Nader what he thinks about it.

Also ahead, parlez vous Francais? Does a certain presidential candidate translate well in the country that critics often link him to?

And next...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: The president has a broken record on this subject. We're talking about moving forward in a positive way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: ... House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi takes aim at the Bush White House in our interview about the hot political issues.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Democrats have hammered President Bush this week over high gas prices. A short time ago, I spoke with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who spoke about that issue and other important concerns on Capitol Hill. I first asked her about President Bush's response that if Congress had just passed legislation permitting drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, more oil would be flowing today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PELOSI: The president has a broken record on this subject. Instead of really moving forward in a way that would have kept down the cost of gasoline to the consumer and reduced our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, this administration, the Republicans in Congress, has insisted on focusing on an energy Bill that would do nothing to bring down the cost of gasoline. And the president knows -- or let me put it another way. The president should know that drilling in the ANWAR is not the answer.

What we have to do is what Senator Kerry is talking about, is talk about fuel economy, talking about investments and energy efficiency, energy conservation. We're talking about moving forward in a positive way that will reduce our dependence not only on Middle Eastern oil, but on energy in general.

WOODRUFF: Another remedy that's been suggested by Democrats is looking at the strategic petroleum reserve. But this is something Bill Clinton tried back in 2000 and it really didn't make a difference. Why would it make a difference now?

PELOSI: Well, what the Democrats are talking about, and others, are not about drawing upon the reserve, but to divert some of the oil going into the reserve temporarily to increase the supply. We could also -- and what Senator Kerry is talking about also is to urge the OPEC countries to increase their supply.

I don't know why the administration isn't using the leverage that it has at its disposal to do that. Indeed, the secretary of energy could do that today when he speaks to OPEC.

WOODRUFF: Representative Pelosi, you and other Democrats have talked about in the Republican-controlled House work is not getting done. And yet, the Republican leadership turns around and they say, well, in the House we've done Medicare prescription drugs, we've dealt with tax cuts to promote growth, we've voted to support the war in Iraq. It's the Senate that's been holding everything up.

PELOSI: The House Republicans are in complete denial as to what is a good work product for the American people. Millions of Americans are out of work, and they have done nothing to grow the economy to create jobs. In fact, their reckless economic policies are making economic growth more difficult.

And when it comes to prescription drug benefits, they ought not to even bring that subject up. It was a cruel hoax on America's seniors, and the more they know about it, the less they like it. And the most recent example of it is that card (ph) that people are saying is just too chaotic to deal with.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you very quickly finally about congressional races. Democrats already are saying that the most opportunities they have to pick up seats in the House are in the so- called red states, Republican-controlled states. Not many opportunities in those key battleground states where John Kerry has a better shot at winning.

That being the case, does it really matter to Democrats that john Kerry is at the head of the ticket? Aren't you mainly going to be running on local issues?

PELOSI: It matters greatly to the Democrats and, indeed, should to the whole country that John Kerry is running at the head of the ticket. When he wins, we will have a great president who will lead us in a way that will make us all proud and regain for our country our status in the world as a leader that respects other countries. And, in fact, it is our first priority.

We are in some battleground states with the presidential, but we have had a plan for over a year and a half to win the House in the discrete districts where our races are. All of the generic polls -- in fact, the most recent one was Friday. TIME Magazine-CNN poll, 13- point advantage to the Democrats.

That's generically. Individually, we're getting very excellent reports on the polls in our individual races that we're running on. We're getting ready for a big Democratic victory.

A Democrat in the White House with John Kerry, a Democratic Senate with Tom Daschle as the majority leader, and hopefully in the House. And I feel quite certain about it that we'll win the House and elect the first woman speaker in the history of our country. That would be me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Nancy Pelosi, currently the minority leader of the House.

My conversation with Ralph Nader is still ahead.

Plus, many of the people who are most like John Kerry apparently are not supporting him for president. Our Bruce Morton considers why Kerry doesn't appeal to more of his own.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Political candidates can usually count on voters who are most like them to form a core of support for their campaign. But that's apparently not happening right now in this presidential race. Our Bruce Morton has been checking the polls and he finds that John Kerry is having an unusual effect on those voters who are most like him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a close election. It's an odd election. Odd because, for one thing, people who are like John Kerry don't particularly like John Kerry. He's a white man, and George Bush leads among white men in our CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll.

OK, that's a gender gap you see in lots of races. Kerry is rich, and rich people are lopsidedly for Bush. Say, Bush is rich, too, and rich people got most of those tax cuts he passed.

Now one that's really odd. Kerry is Catholic. The first Catholic nominee since John Kennedy, and Bush leads among Catholics in our poll, 52 to 44 percent. These among white Catholics. Hispanics tend to vote Democratic, even more, 66 to 42.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: One possible reason may be that a lot of Catholics don't know he's a Catholic. The fact that the bishops are going after him in terms of his stance on abortion may actually in the long run help him by telling a lot of Catholics that he is one of their own faith.

MORTON: Another oddity, veterans. He fought in Vietnam, campaigns with veterans.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I depend on the same band of brothers that I depended on some 30 years ago. We're a little older and a little grayer. But I'll tell you this, we still know how to fight for our country.

MORTON: In our poll, Bush leads among male veterans, 52 to 43 percent. Are these men in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) typical?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's raising the gas prices. Don't like him for that alone. John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a graduate of Yale. He didn't have to do what he did. But it seems like to me like he had done the whole thing with an eye towards the future of politics.

MORTON: Kerry, wouldn't you know, leads among non-vets. One final oddity, Kerry, who is 60, should win 60-year-olds, shouldn't he?

HOLLAND: In fact, Kerry, as a 60-year-old, is losing among 60- year-olds. It's a very puzzling thing, something else that's probably troubling to the Kerry camp.

MORTON: Behind with vets, up with non-vets. Behind with 60- year-olds, up with 18 to 35-year-olds. Maybe they like his hair. Go figure.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Go figure. Well, did Ralph Nader find any common ground with John Kerry when the two men met today? Coming up, I'll ask Nader about their conversation and what he got out of it.

And how much will the Bush daughters do for their dad's campaign? Their mother offers some clues ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Ralph Nader in the crosshairs? Are some Democrats trying to keep the Independent presidential candidate off the ballot this November?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel I made a mistake. By supporting Ralph Nader, I actually helped George Bush.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry walks the tightrope over the war in Iraq. But haven't we been here before?

RICHARD M. NIXON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a new team in Washington.

ANNOUNCER: We'll look at the Kerry-Nixon connection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bon appetit.

KERRY: What's that mean?

ANNOUNCER: He's just joking. He really does speak French, and Republicans can't resist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. Or as John Kerry might say it, Bonjour.

ANNOUNCER: We'll examine Kerry's French connection.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. John Kerry may not have asked Ralph Nader to drop out of the presidential race when the two men met here in Washington today. We don't know yet. We're still asking, but that is not stopping some other Democrats from joining forces against Nader. CNN has learned a group of top Democratic operatives is launching a major independent effort to blunt Nader's impact in six battleground states. Our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new group called the National Progress Fund is being formed amid serious Democratic concerns that Nader could pull enough support in key states to tip them to President Bush and cost Kerry the election. Former Howard Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright is the president of the group.

TRICIA ENRIGHT, NATIONAL PROGRESS FUND: This is an effort to give Karl Rove his real nightmare because right now Karl Rove's dream is for the Democratic party and progressives to be divided. And what we want to do is to create a community, a real movement of Democrats, progressive Democrats, Nader supporters who are uniting around one common goal.

HENRY: A senior Kerry aide told CNN that the campaign is aware of the organization and said Democrats should remember what happened in 2000. But the Kerry aide stressed that the group is, quote, "completely independent" of the campaign. The group has already cut ads it intends to run in swing states which feature former Nader voters who now regret their decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel I made a mistake.

HENRY: They're pledging to raise as much money as it takes to slow Nader's impact in Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin and New Mexico, as well as other tight states where Nader could make the difference. Recent state polls show the potential impact of Nader's candidacy. In Oregon, Bush and Kerry were tied at 45 percent in a recent poll with Nader drawing 5 percent. In Pennsylvania, Bush leads Kerry in one pole by six points with Nader drawing 8 percent. In New Jersey, an April poll showed Bush topping Kerry by four points with Nader getting 5 percent.

The group is also trying to create an online community of progressives who like Nader but intend to vote for Kerry. The website, the Naderfactor.com.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Judy, CNN has also confirmed that this new group is in discussions with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America about funding all of most of these television ads. A person close to the Trial Lawyer confirmed they are in these talks. That would be a major boost for the stop Nader effort because obviously, as you know, the Trial Lawyer lobby has very deep pockets, is very powerful, pours millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns in every election cycle. There's also talk among Democratic strategists they may try to get Washington lawyers around town to push Nader off the ballot in key states.

That may be complicated by the fact that Nader has won the endorsement of the Reform Party which gets him on the ballot in key states already. The bottom line here though is that the irony, of course, Judy, is the fact that Nader has been a long-time ally of the Trial Lawyers in fighting corporations, that's how he made his name as a consumer advocate and now the Trial Lawyers may be fighting his effort because they want to make sure Kerry wins over Bush.

WOODRUFF: Ironic, indeed. You're right because they did support him at one time. Thank you, Ed, we appreciate it.

We are trying right now to hook up a telephone call with Ralph Nader. We're working on that and hope to have it underway in just a few minutes.

Meantime, at the White House today, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to transfer power in Iraq on June 30, even though top ministers of the new interim government have not yet been selected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I anticipate in the next couple of weeks, decisions will be made toward who will be the president, the vice presidents, as well as the prime minister and other ministers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The president did not say who will choose those leaders or who he would prefer to fill the post. More than a few critics have compared the uncertain situation in Iraq to Vietnam more than three decades ago. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider considers the parallels between the presidential races then and now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Could this be 1968 all over again? In 1968, after the TET (ph) offensive Americans started to call the war in Vietnam a mistake. This year, since the insurrection began in Iraq, most Americans are saying it was not worth going to war there. Richard Nixon won the 1968 election. Nixon's position on the war was that after four years of war and 20,000 Americans killed, the country needed new leadership not tied to the mistakes of the past.

NIXON: They have failed in so many areas that we need a new team in Washington. SCHNEIDER: On occasion, Nixon talked about opening discussions with the Soviets and the Chinese and training the South Vietnamese to take over the fighting. Critics charged Nixon had a secret plan to end the war and so what? He could get votes from hawks and doves. Anyone who wanted the war over. So what's John Kerry's plan for Iraq? Bring in other countries.

KERRY: The immediate goal is to internationalize the transformation of Iraq to get more foreign forces on the ground.

SCHNEIDER: And bring in more Iraqis.

KERRY: We need a massive training effort to build Iraqi security forces.

SCHNEIDER: Kerry says the U.S. can't cut and run.

KERRY: We do not have the choice just to pick up and leave and leave behind the failed state, a new haven for terrorists.

SCHNEIDER: He wants to turn Bush's war into a success. That has some anti-war Democrats upset.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, this is the same kind of argument that was used to keep us in Vietnam and resulted in 50,000 American deaths and more.

SCHNEIDER: Nixon won and the Vietnam war went on for six years. That's what worries Kerry's critics on the left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say stay the course of this imperialist war and you say you are stark different from George Bush. People hate George Bush but by the end of your presidency, people will hate you for the same thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: In 1968, most Americans were neither hawks nor doves. They just wanted peace. That's what they thought they would get with Nixon. That's what Kerry hopes voters will believe they can get with him.

WOODRUFF: Tough questions. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will face off about Iraq politics and the Nader factor just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

Plus, find out how Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to use his political muscle to help his party.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Since I last saw the two of you, more bad news from Iraq, and then Monday we had the assassination of the top person in the Iraqi governing council. Today, there are reports coming in about U.S. firing on a wedding party in western Iraq with children and women killed. The news just keeps pouring in. Bay, my first question is what, if anything, can President Bush do to stop this kind of relentless news which is bound to have an effect on him?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: It's clearly having an effect. You can see it in the polls. The problem is his campaign -- and no one in the White House can control this issue, this issue has a life of its own. It's over there in Iraq. The news come in every single night and comes to our newspapers and the American people are responding to it. He cannot control this. What he has to hope is that making an appeal to the American people that they stand by him. It is tough and he knows it. And that they stand by him through these very difficult times. I think June 30 is critical, that the American people see that another step closer to us getting out of there is taken, and that really has to happen.

WOODRUFF: Donna, what -- from a Democrat, Democratic perspective does the president have the ability in any way to turn this in his favor?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: First of all, we shouldn't stand by him. We should stand by our troops and a credible plan that empowers the Iraqi people to take control of their government to give the U.N. whatever assistance they need to provide for the transition, a very smooth transition so that Paul Bremer can come home and someone can take charge of their country. To recruit and train people, Iraqi citizens to secure their own country. Look, we have all these hot spots in the country, in the south, now in the west. It's important that the president get it right. We have six weeks to go and he has to have a plan, Bay. There's no plan. If you don't have a plan, what are you going to stand by? Stand by a man?

BUCHANAN: This is the problem for Democrats is what Donna has described as everything the president has tried to do for the last nine months, this is exactly what he has been doing. It is not working. And in fact the insurgents...

BRAZILE: He's not had the U.N. involved, Bay.

BUCHANAN: He has been trying to bring them in and he's the one that gave them responsibility for much of the transition. The key is the insurgents are more energized than ever and politically speaking, Judy, the problem is that the Democrats have no different plan. They are not an alternative. Both of them were for the war and both candidates do not believe we should leave right now.

BRAZILE: Bay, that's absolutely wrong. What the Democrats have been saying is that we want more international involvement, more perhaps Arab-speaking countries to come in and assist us with the transition. We need credibility now. We have no credibility. We have no credibility. We have the king of Jordan here and no one asked him to do anything. We've had -- now we're on good terms with Libya. Why not ask some of these countries to help us out?

BUCHANAN: They want to criticize, the Democrats want to criticize all they want but as I said, this is what the president is doing. I ask, call on John Kerry. Let's ask him, what's he going to do the first six months that George Bush isn't doing? Tell us what he does differently.

BRAZILE: He will internationalize and build a coalition...

BUCHANAN: They've said no. Colin Powell has asked and asked and asked. They will not get involved.

BRAZILE: Who would go in under the false pretense that the United States came up with in order to go to war? That's why they said no.

BUCHANAN: That's past. They don't come in now. Spain just pulled out, Donna.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of the lack of difference or difference over Iraq, there is somebody in the race talking about pulling the troops out. His name is Ralph Nader. Donna, is there anything John Kerry can do about Ralph Nader? We know they met today. We don't know what they talked about. Ralph Nader shows no sign of getting out of this race.

BRAZILE: First of all, I can't speak for the Kerry campaign but Ralph Nader should get out of the race. Progressives are very excited about John Kerry and want him to win. We don't need a Ralph Nader. I'm sure Ralph Nader is not going to get out of the race, but he will stay and hopefully he will not help elect George Bush.

BUCHANAN: What Nader is doing is he's really offering an alternative just as you point out, Judy. And what do we hear today, what are the Democrats going to do about it? They're going to try to knock him off balance. People in this country have put him on ballots, it takes a lot of tough effort to do that and they're going to get their little lawyers, these rich fellows, to go out there and try to knock him off the ballot. I call upon you as the first Democrat to say that is wrong, that is not right to give the American people, to cheat the American people of a real choice on ballots because you're afraid of those votes.

BRAZILE: At the end of the day, I don't feel Ralph Nader as much as I feared him in 2004. I think the party, progressives, liberals are very united and Ralph Nader's not going to have the type of steam and support he had in 2000.

BUCHANAN: So you agree they should not attempt to knock him off the ballot.

BRAZILE: I cannot speak for independent organizations.

WOODRUFF: Last question...

BUCHANAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Democrats.

BRAZILE: I'm keeping my powder dry just in case they need somebody to pull him out, I'm available. WOODRUFF: Very quickly. Last question to Donna alone and that is some criticism that the Kerry campaign does not have enough African Americans and other minorities in that close inner circle of advisers around John Kerry.

BRAZILE: One of the things I've seen over the last two weeks is a willingness on behalf of not just John Kerry, Mary Beth Cahill (ph) and his campaign to reach out, but to embrace some of the ideas that African American leaders have been talking about from Elijah (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and others. They want a strong turnout of African Americans. In order to have that you need a strategy. And they now have that strategy.

BUCHANAN: What took him till the last two weeks, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, sometimes our memos take a long time to get across Washington, Bay. You know the beltway.

WOODRUFF: We know who they're hearing from anyway. Donna, Bay, thank you both. We'll see you next week. We appreciate it.

Turning to the political ad wars, CNN's advertising consultant, TNS Media Intelligence reports that John Kerry has outspent President Bush in the top 100 media markets in recent days. Last week, the Kerry campaign spent almost $3 million more than the Bush team. Part of a month-long $25 million ad buy. Since March, however, the Bush team has outspent the Kerry campaign by almost two to one on TV ads. Outside groups are making up the spending gap between Bush and Kerry. The Kerry team and anti-Bush groups like Moveon.org together have spent $71 million on ads since early March. The Bush campaign spent more than $60 million during that same time and outside groups chipped in another $100,000 on pro-Bush ads.

Big money is also on the agenda in California. We have details on next week's big GOP fundraiser.

Also ahead, North Carolina was Bush country four years ago. Would a Kerry-Edwards ticket make the Tarheel State competitive this November? We'll have results from the new poll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We have a readout apparently on that meeting between John Kerry and Ralph Nader. Our own Candy Crowley, our senior political correspondent has been talking to the...

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Camp Kerry. And such as it is, here's the readout. Nothing really happened is what I'm told again, this is the camp Kerry perspective. They said they talked about issues they agreed on. A corporate responsibility, campaign finance reform, no talk about Iraq, again, I'm told. No talk about Nader getting out of the race. Kerry did make his point that he's running because the nation is headed in the radically wrong direction and Nader made his point that he thinks he's helping Kerry by holding Bush's feet to the fire.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like they only talked about the things they agree on.

CROWLEY: Exactly. That's a nice way to start out. But we said it was the beginning of a process. And it stops the complaining of he won't meet with me. Remember it's all about inclusion. So they'll meet with him again. So, start of a process.

WOODRUFF: Stay tuned. Candy, thank you for coming back. We appreciate it.

Time to check the midweek headlines in our campaign news daily. A new poll of North Carolina voters offers a clue as to how much John Edwards might help John Kerry in the Tarheel state. In a head to head match-up, Bush beats Kerry 48 percent to 41 percent. When favorite son John Edwards is added to the mix as Kerry's running mate, the race becomes a dead heat.

First Lady Laura bush says daughters Jenna and Barbara will soon go to work for their father's reelection campaign. In an interview, Mrs. Bush said the two will probably go to work in the campaign's headquarters but they might also travel on their father's behalf, quote, "if they have the confidence."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is headlining a huge fundraiser for the state Republican party. Monday's $2 million governor's gala could become the state's biggest single fundraiser ever. Donations can be made in any dollar amount. For example a $125,000 check gives donors the right to become a gala chairman and sit at the head table.

It's not known as something John Kerry speaks of a lot of in his run for the Oval Office. Just ahead, he caught flack early in the campaign for his French connections. We will see how the senator is handling the issue now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: One word that usually gets Republican tongues wagging about John Kerry is the word French. The French, of course, among other things helped to strain the alliance between the United States and its European allies over the war in Iraq. John Kerry's French connections have made him the target of some ribbings. So how is the presumptive Democratic nominee handling these jabs as he battles for the top job in America?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bon appetit.

KERRY: What does that mean?

WOODRUFF: He's kidding. He knows what it means. But John Kerry is not about to get caught speaking French in public. Norwegian, sure.

But French, no way. Even though he has French family, speaks French fluently and used to summer in a glorious little French seaside town called Saint-Briac where his first cousin is the mayor.

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Good afternoon or as John Kerry might say it, Bonjour.

WOODRUFF: Republicans on the other hand can't get enough of Kerry's French connections. Commerce Secretary Don Evans remarked the Massachusetts senator looked French. Rush limbaugh branded him a French-looking Democrat. What's it all about, you wonder? Try asking an American to describe the French. For every...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stylish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cultured.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romantic.

WOODRUFF: You get a lot more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uppity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uppity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arrogant, rude, nasty.

WOODRUFF: None of them words John Kerry wants attached to him. Here's another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: International.

WOODRUFF: A tricky word to be saddled with if you're running to lead a war-time White House and your relatives across the pond have not embraced the war. Saint-Briac-Sur-Mer, an idyllic slice of Brittany where Kerry used to spend summers as a youngster. This is his family's estate. Les Essarts. He hasn't been back in 20 years. Kerry's cousin, Brice Lalonde is mayor of Saint Briac, but perhaps wary of hurting his American relative's campaign, he denied our request for an interview. Locals, however, were more forth coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's maybe not going so well for Mr. Bush, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Bush, I don't like him very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He makes the U.S. look bad.

WOODRUFF: And they appreciate Kerry's French ties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Maybe because he's lived abroad, he has a perspective that Mr. Bush doesn't have.

WOODRUFF: In Paris, the editor of "Le Monde" says if the French want Kerry in, they should butt out.

JEAN-MARIE COLOMBANI, EDITOR, "LE MONDE": John Kerry is already known on the Republican side as the French or the one who looks French. So the best thing the French people have to do is not to say they would like to support John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: None of the French folks we spoke with found Kerry the slightest bit Francais. On our side of the ocean, opinion was split.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess he could pass as French.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People might think so with his features.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I think he's just a very good looking man.

WOODRUFF: And some accused the GOP of speaking in code.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...that they mean he's anti-American perhaps?

WOODRUFF: Kerry says Americans know better and issues a warning to the White House.

KERRY: As I understand, Karen Hughes was born in Paris.

WOODRUFF: On guard, Mr. President.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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