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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Interview With Senator Joseph Lieberman; Interview With Representative Roy Blunt

Aired June 25, 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: The president heads overseas, hoping to get wary European allies to give him a hand in Iraq.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one can argue that the world is better off if Saddam Hussein were in power.

ANNOUNCER: This is a drill. Are anti-terror teams in Boston ready for the Democrats' big party?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know where George W. Bush thinks America really is today.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry reaches out to jobless voters in Ohio after a night of elbow-rubbing and fund-raising with Hollywood's rich and famous.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: I saved a million-and-a-half dollars in taxes last year. Is there anybody here who thinks that's appropriate or fair?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

We have been waiting for another shoe to drop in the Illinois Senate race and it apparently has, as you've been following the story this week, sex club allegations made by Republican's Jack Ryan's ex- wife revealed just a few days ago. Now the Associated Press is reporting that Jack Ryan has issued a statement saying he is withdrawing from the race -- quote -- in his words, "to avoid a brutal scorched-earth campaign."

Again, this report coming to CNN from the Associated Press, trying to get it confirmed right now. We've been following this story and its ramifications for control of the U.S. Senate. We're going to have a live report in just a few minutes here on INSIDE POLITICS.

And now we turn to the race for the White House. President Bush has left the campaign trail for the international spotlight. He's now in Ireland for talks with European leaders and then he heads to the NATO summit in Turkey. The president is looking for broader global support for Iraq before the handover of power there next wee and one day after a deadly wave of attacks by insurgents.

A sometimes combative interview with an Irish TV journalist drove home the challenges that he faces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: He was dangerous. And no one can argue that the world is better off if Saddam Hussein were in power.

QUESTION: But, Mr. President, the world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know whether you can see that or not.

BUSH: Why do you say that?

QUESTION: There are terrorists bombing every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.

BUSH: What was it like September 11, 2001? There was a relative calm.

QUESTION: But if your response to Iraq....

BUSH: Let me just finish, please, please. You ask the questions and I'll answer them if you don't mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The president talking with an Irish television journalist.

Back here at home, Bush's rival, John Kerry, is again talking up his jobs plan in a showdown state hit hard by unemployment. Kerry held a town hall meeting with jobless workers in Stark County, Ohio. And he took some swipes at the president and his economic record.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: Just in the last month of May, there have been about 5,500 layoffs. And people are reeling from it. This isn't make- believe stuff. This isn't something that comes out because I'm running for president and it's politics. These are people's lives.

And that's what we're supposed to be doing something about at the national level in Washington. I don't know where George Bush thinks America really is today, because it's clear he's not in touch with the lives of real Americans who are working and struggling with what's happening.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: John Kerry in Ohio today. The Bush campaign is accusing Kerry of being a pessimist about the economy on the upswing.

But a new poll suggests that many Ohio voters there are buying Kerry's message. He is still leading Bush in Ohio among likely voters, 49 percent to 43 percent. Bush carried the state in 2000. Tonight, Kerry travels to New York for a fund-raising reception with his primary season opponent Howard Dean.

Well, Kerry and other leading figures in his party may see eye to eye on defeating George W. Bush, but Democrats have had their share of disagreements over Iraq.

I spoke today with Senator Joe Lieberman, whose support for the war complicated his bid for the Democratic nomination earlier this year. I started by asking the senator why he thinks the level of violence remains so high in Iraq with the handover of power just days away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yesterday was a tragic day.

The level of violence is rising, in my opinion, in Iraq because the enemy, the combination of Saddam loyalists and jihadist terrorists see us getting closer and closer to June 30, when this interim Iraqi government, which, according to the polls we've seen today, has the support of more than two-thirds of the Iraqis, is going to take over. And then it's not going to be these terrorists against the outsider Americans. It's going to be the terrorists against the Iraqis fighting for Iraq's future.

WOODRUFF: But you're still going to have 135,000 American troops, give or take some, in Iraq.

LIEBERMAN: Right.

WOODRUFF: Do you think the violence is going to decrease after the handover?

LIEBERMAN: That's up to us, us and our Iraqi allies.

The odds are, I hate to say it, that, for some period of time after the new interim Iraqi government takes over, the jihadist terrorists will try to make that new government look weak and ineffectual. I fear that one of the things they will do is not only continue the suicide bombings, but that they will go at the infrastructure to make electricity, water, so that they make life more difficult for the average Iraqi.

And, of course, the interim government is committed with our support to making life better and better there.

WOODRUFF: Senator, do you think the Bush administration and the U.S. military should have been better able to anticipate all of this violence and to somehow prevent some of it from happening?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, looking back, I think we've got to say that America was not prepared for what happened the day after Saddam Hussein was overthrown. It wasn't an easy situation, but a lot more could have been done quickly. For instance, we shouldn't have allowed lawlessness to occur, the kind of looting that happened. It sent a message right at the beginning. We looked -- we didn't involve the international community quickly enough. Everybody I talked to here in the capital, and Democrat, Republican agrees, we have got to finish the job. There's a lot at stake.

This is now the main battleground in the war against terrorism and we've got to win it.

WOODRUFF: But, as one of the Democrats, few Democrats, still outspoken in support of the concept of this war -- in fact, some people call you kind of a lone ranger on the subject -- how do you view those in your own party, including John Kerry, who in essence are saying the Bush administration made a mess of this war?

LIEBERMAN: Look, I respect the opinions of my fellow Democrats who disagree with me.

And I will say about John Kerry that he's been very steadfast in the position that we've got to finish the job in Iraq. And, if we don't, it will compromise our security and run the risk of sending the Middle East, which has so much of the oil on which we depend, into chaos. So there's a lot of dissent about what happened in the past in Iraq. I think most of us are together that we've got to get this right and finish it.

And we're making progress. So, we've got to ask the American people, stick with us until we get this done. I think it's going to get a lot better after June 30.

WOODRUFF: One of those most outspoken, though, against the war in your party is the man who chose you to be his running mate in 2000, Al Gore.

LIEBERMAN: Yes.

WOODRUFF: He gave a speech yesterday in which he said that President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their contention that there's a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, Al Gore said, "They dare not admit the truth, lest they look like complete fools for launching this country into a reckless discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever."

What you do you say to him?

LIEBERMAN: I respectfully disagree.

Look, Iraq did pose a threat to us. They invaded two of their neighbors. They had weapons of mass destruction. They supported terrorism. And, remember, after September 11, when so many people in this country said why didn't we take Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda out before they hit us, as they did that day, it was natural to say of Saddam, let's take him out of power before a day when he strikes us as devastatingly as al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden did. So I respectfully disagree with Al.

WOODRUFF: Finally, different subject, the vice presidential pick this year. You were the pick four years ago. John Kerry is obviously nearing a decision. What are the qualities you think he should look for in a vice presidential running mate?

LIEBERMAN: Well, one of the things I certainly learned in 2000 is that this is a judgment for the nominee to make.

John Kerry has earned this right. I will tell you what Al Gore was kind enough to say to me. And I think, apart from the selection that he made, which I naturally think was a great selection, it wears true, which is, first, you've got to find somebody you and the American people believe will be ready to be president in the event of an emergency.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Lieberman talking to me a little bit earlier today.

Well, two potential Kerry running mates will be showcased tonight in the state that launched the presidential nomination season. Senator John Edwards gives the keynote speech at a dinner of Iowa Democratic activists. Home state Governor Tom Vilsack also will be on hand for the state party controversy in Des Moines.

A new showdown state poll leads the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." President Bush barely lost Wisconsin four years ago, but he appears to have a slight lead over John Kerry in the current White House race. A new University of Wisconsin Badger poll gives Bush 46 percent to John Kerry's 42 percent. Ralph Nader picks up 5 percent.

Nader has been running as an independent, but he's engaged in a political battle this weekend for the Green Party's presidential nomination. As party delegates consider their choices in Milwaukee, Nader currently is trailing party activist David Cobb, who says his ultimate goal is not the White House, but the defeat of President Bush. Green Party delegates will select their nominee tomorrow.

Out west in Oregon, conservative activists are working on Nader's behalf, hoping to siphon votes away from John Kerry. A Nader rally back in April failed to garner the 1,000 signatures that were needed to get his name on the state ballot. So now, two groups, Citizens For a Sound Economy and the Oregon Family Council, both of which support George W. Bush, are making calls encouraging people to attend Nader's convention tomorrow in hopes of getting Nader's name on the November Oregon ballot.

New York City officials today outlined plans to close streets and divert traffic around Madison Square Garden for the Republican Convention, this a day after the Senate approved $50 million in funding for the GOP and Democratic Convention host cities. Supporters argue the money was needed because of the extraordinary security for the two events.

And CNN's Dan Lothian reports Boston officials are busy preparing for the worst.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): It happened in Madrid, Spain, a little more than three months ago, a violent, deadly terrorist rail bombing. Now that attack is playing a role in potentially protecting passengers traveling through Boston's rail hubs if a terrorist decides to strike during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

KYLE OLSON, HOMELAND SECURITY CONSULTANT: Your objective is not so much to solve problems as to identify problems.

LOTHIAN: Armed with notebooks, handouts and video clips, senior level local, state and federal safety and transportation officials held their first ever drill in Massachusetts. The scenario, Madrid- style bombings and other explosives found at train stations not far from the convention's main venue.

EDWARD FLYNN, MASSACHUSETTS PUBLIC SAFETY SECRETARY: Suddenly, there's a plethora of agencies that have some responsibility for this.

LOTHIAN: But are they all talking to each other?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has to be a coordinated effort. Everybody has to be working in harmony and at least know what the other person next to you is doing.

LOTHIAN: During the drill, officials say they discovered what is being described as minor communications glitches.

OLSON: There's a need to integrate the communications flow even more than they already have. There's a need for discipline, a need for organization that goes to levels above where they've been in the past.

LOTHIAN: Critical information officials are focusing on as they prepare for the unknown.

FLYNN: We feel that all the prudent steps have been or are being taken. Obviously, this is constantly evolving.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Based on the drill's results, federal officials will now issue a report so that any problems identified can be quickly corrected.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A Republican view of Iraq just ahead. Amid violence and preparations for the handover, I'll ask House Minority Whip Roy Blunt for his firsthand impressions.

Plus, the stars came out for John Kerry. We'll give you a taste of the A-list fund-raiser and concert. And battle for the Hill now that Republican Jack Ryan is bowing out of the Illinois Senate race.

With 130 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Back to the story we mentioned at the top of the program. And that is that Illinois Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan announcing he is dropping out of the race after some embarrassing disclosures this week in a divorce filing with his ex-wife. CNN, again, now confirmed this. And we're going to have a live report at the top of the hour.

And now we turn back to Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Bush has just arrived in Ireland. We have some pictures we want to show you that have just come in, this video just from Ireland, President Bush arriving there for a brief visit with the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern.

And from there, President Bush will go on to a NATO meeting, a meeting of NATO leaders in Turkey. Of course, Iraq at the top of the agenda, but they're discussing other E.U. issues, NATO issues, while the president is in Europe. Again, President Bush just moments ago arriving in Ireland. He's there with Laura Bush, the first lady, and with Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister.

Of course, CNN will be following the president's visit in Ireland and on in Turkey in the days to come.

Back to Iraq now. And we continue our discussion of next week's handover of the governing authority in that country.

I am joined now by Republican Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri. He is the House majority whip. He recently met with the new interim Iraqi president.

And I want to ask you about that in just a moment, Congressman Blunt.

But, first of all, the continuing violence in Iraq in the face of the fact that the U.S. is about to turn sovereignty back to the Iraqis, how do you explain it?

REP. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), MAJORITY WHIP: Well, I think you've also got to see who -- most of the targets are Iraqis.

There's a desperate attempt to try to maintain a last hold on the tyranny that this country has had for a long time. Clearly, these attacks are on the people that are trying to go forward and make Iraq a different place. I think the thing that we saw, both in meeting with President Yawar the day before the Reagan memorial service, which I guess was two weeks ago now, and constant contact with the likely ambassador, Ambassador Rahim, here in town, as well as those who met with Allawi, is the absolute commitment they have for Iraqis to bring security now to Iraq.

And, frankly, I think, Judy, at this point, they're going to be able do that more effectively than we would ever be able to do it in terms of the final effort to really bring this country under control.

WOODRUFF: But how will they do that when we have seen a number of instances where their own police, their own security people, seem to have shied away from confronting the insurgents?

BLUNT: Well, I think one of the things you have to have is better training of that police force. The eight weeks of training that has been the norm up until now, everyone agrees that is not good enough. We are going to have to have more police training and then an opportunity for police to work with trained police.

Clearly, they're moving forward with this 600 man, 600 person top security force to go in and really get at the really bad nest of these bad guys. And I hope that they're able to do that. I think it's a tremendous opportunity for the world and the Middle East if freedom can thrive and we can have elections in Iraq and have an elected government in the next few months.

WOODRUFF: I just spoke with Joe Lieberman a little earlier today, who's been a big supporter of this war effort. But he said he thought the administration was not prepared for this, for the level of violence that has continued for a year-and-a-half since the war, and also didn't involve the international community early enough. Is he right on either point?

BLUNT: Well, the international community is involved now.

I think we continually don't give enough credit to our friends who are there, whether they're from Eastern Europe or Great Britain or El Salvador. The only El Salvadoran peacekeeping troops, war fighting troops, as it turned out, ever anywhere have been in Iraq. We do have that commitment. Clearly, that commitment is moving forward. The president, one of his five goals is to get more international support.

The U.N. resolution gives evidence of that. I think maybe the miscalculation here on my part, Joe Lieberman's part, everyone's part, the president's part is what a traction Iraq would become for terrorists outside of Iraq. That is, in this terrorist environment, I think the one thing that it's hard to anticipate is how different the world really is when you're no longer dealing with governments, but you're dealing with cells of people who want to create terror that have figured out how to get into Iraq.

And, clearly, part of this problem is Iraqi in nature, but an awful lot of it is from outside. And the Iraqis are going to be able to figure out who the outsiders are better than any group so far, the coalition, has been able to figure out who the outsiders are.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Roy Blunt, who is the House minority whip -- majority whip, majority whip.

BLUNT: Even better, the majority whip.

WOODRUFF: Got to give you credit.

BLUNT: That's right.

WOODRUFF: It's very good to see you again. Thank you for coming by.

BLUNT: Good to be here.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you.

And one more note on Iraq. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz reiterated his apology today for his recent comments criticizing the work of journalists in Iraq. In a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Wolfowitz accused journalists there of being in his words afraid to travel and to publishing -- quote -- "rumors." He issued a written apology yesterday and this morning he had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: I would also particularly like to pay tribute to the courage of the journalists who cover this war, who I think 34 of them have given their lives. This is a dangerous theater. It's dangerous just to be there. It's particularly dangerous to be up there on the front lines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: In his letter yesterday, Wolfowitz said his Tuesday criticism was sparked by frustration with media coverage of one particular story.

Well, Tinseltown apparently turned out for John Kerry last night. Stay with us for a fund-raiser that featured plenty of stars and more than a few pennies from heaven.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A John Kerry fund-raiser last night in Los Angeles took in $5 million. You had to be there and pay money to see the best parts, like Barbra Streisand singing a very partisan version of her hit song "People." Even though the main event was off-limits to cameras, it was still possible to stargaze.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY: Can we do this every night?

(LAUGHTER) WOODRUFF (voice-over): Starry skies for John Kerry Thursday, as the Democratic nominee became the toast of Tinseltown.

KERRY: You know, California was founded by prospectors who came out here looking for silver and gold. And I'm follow in that tradition today.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: And so he did. The night's haul logged in a cool $5 million for the Kerry campaign and the DNC.

BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: I've introduced a lot in my career, but none with the power and vision to change the course of American history.

WOODRUFF: From billy to Willie, icons from stage and screen flocked to the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. They posed for the cameras, trashed the president as a protector of the rich.

AFFLECK: What did you guys get as a tax break, photographers, paparazzi, who make $50,000 a year? Even the paparazzi deserve a break, by God.

WOODRUFF: And even offered Kerry a little advice.

WILLIE NELSON, SINGER: I like Edwards pretty good. I think Edwards he is a good guy from the South, a lawyer. I can forgive him for that.

KERRY: I listened to Barbara sing "I believe."

WOODRUFF: Yes, Streisand was there, too, reworking songs into liberal anthems, making John Kerry one of the luckiest people in the world, especially since the stars will come out for him again in New York on July 8.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: That's right. They're having another concert in New York in early July.

Well, the money keep rolling in, but it's also going out, as both campaigns continue the political ad wars. Stand by for an update on the numbers.

Also, would you believe a political convention means something? Bob Novak has the "Inside Buzz" when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Is he calling it quits? Will damaging divorce records force the Republican Senate candidate in Illinois to drop out of the race? The battle for Congress. Can the Democrats take back control of the Senate? We'll look at some crucial races.

Coming today to a theater near you.

SEN. BILL NELSON (R), FLORIDA: I think it's a powerful statement.

MELANIE MORGAN, KSFO RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The movie is crap. It's not good.

ANNOUNCER: We'll look at the controversy over "Fahrenheit 9/11."

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Republican Jack Ryan officially announced his exit from the Illinois Senate race a short time ago saying he feared that it would become, quote, "a brutal scorched earth campaign" if he stayed in. CNN's Jonathan Freed is live in Chicago with more on Ryan the controversy that drove him to call it quits. Hello, Jonathan.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.

Jack Ryan's Senate bid imploded today after a week of desperate damage control. Ryan is largely blaming the media, naming in particular "The Chicago Tribune" for suing to get access to his divorce custody records.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREED (voice-over): On Monday, the Illinois Republican released 4-year-old divorce documents that had been unsealed buy a California court because of legal action by two Chicago news organizations. In the papers, his then-wife actress Jeri Ryan of "Star Trek Voyager" and "Boston Public" accuses him of trying to pressure her to have sex in front of other people at erotic nightclubs.

Ryan denied it on paper then and in public this week.

JACK RYAN (R), FRM. SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There's no allegation in infidelity or of breaking of any laws. Kept all civil and criminal law, kept my vows to my spouse.

FREED: But the GOP leadership in Illinois and in Washington felt betrayed. For months, Ryan, a millionaire and first-time candidate, insisted there was nothing damaging in the custody documents which husband and now ex-wife fought to keep sealed. They explained for the sake of their 9-year-old son.

But that didn't play, and pressure has been mounting for him to quit.

Democrats Barak Obama has a strong lead in the poll. The GOP holds the seat now, and it could help shift role of the Senate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREED: All right, Judy, so the questioning now is what is going to happen next? We have checked on that. We can tell you that the 19-member state GOP committee is going to have to meet some time between now and that latest that they would meet, of course, would be August 27 which is the deadline that a name would have to be on the ballot.

We are told that within the next week or association they are going to get this process start. And they will actually name a successor. They're going to have to vote on that and each person's vote is weighted based on the percentage of votes that came from their particular region during the primary back in March.

I've got three names for you. The Illinois GOP chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka is being named as a possible person to take over this race. State Senator Steve Rauschenberger who place third in the primary.

And one name that many people hope will actually get into race is former Governor Jim Edgar. Now served during the 1990s and he left office very much respected, and remains so largely to this day.

He's a moderate Republican, Judy. And in a state which has been largely trending Democratic recently, some are saying that he would play very well and go up quite strongly again Barak Obama, the Democrat who has had a considerable lead in the polls up until now -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Freed. Thank you for scrambling and bringing us the very latest out of Illinois. Thanks very much.

FREED: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Meantime the House speaker and fellow Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert issued a statement just a short while ago on Jack Ryan saying he made the right decision by quitting the race. Hastert says Illinois is fortunate to have a number of talented and qualified Republican candidates to run in Ryan's place.

Well let's talk more about the Illinois race and how it figures into the bigger battle for control of the Senate. Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report" is with me. Stu, what do you hear about who may get in and what does this mean for Republicans?

STU ROTHENBERG, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": I think it's interesting that the names of Topinka and Edgar others are being floated. I think both are unlikely. Judy Baar Topinka had a chance to run in this race, to be the nominee, if she so chose. She didn't want to do it months ago. I don't know why she would change her mind. She may go the same way.

Rausheberger's name is floated. He is interested. He was a pretty good candidate during the primary season. Seems to be well liked among all elements of the party.

And this is a party, Judy, let's be frank, a party is total disarray. They are at the point where they prefer eating their young to taking on the Democrats.

We are also hearing another name, Ron Gidwitz, a Republican business and fund raiser who's mention. Jim Oberweis, the dairy entrepreneur, investment analyst who ran for the Senate before. His name was mentioned.

I think it's pretty clear that with regard to whoever the Republicans get, they are going nowhere in this race. I mean this race started off uphill for Jack Ryan for the Republicans. Their chances have gone from small to microscopic.

WOODRUFF: All right, we heard it from Stu Rothenberg.

Very quickly, three other things I want to -- South Carolina, where does that stand? You've got a winner in the Republican primary, Jim DeMint.

ROTHENBERG: Jim DeMint. The question is does he unite the party? Does he appeal to Republicans in Charleston, the low country? And really what does the trade issue do to him? He's an unabashed freetrader, there are elements of the state party that are very critical of that position, Roger Melliken the textile magnate businessman, other elements.

Are they going to get behind the man or are they support Inez Tenenbaum who is a good candidate? I still think this is a pretty good Republican chance for a takeover. But there are a lot of questions, geography questions, questions about trade, whether the Republicans can win the seat. It's certainly a race worth watching.

WOODRUFF: All right, quickly to Colorado. Neither party's picked a nominee. But how does it look at this point?

ROTHENBERG: Well the Republicans had a debate recently. And all the post-debate assessment was that Peter Coors did not go do great. That his opponent, former Congressman Schaefer, is doing a good job appealing to core conservative Republicans, the kind of people who will participate in a primary. This continues to look like a difficult contest for the Republicans. Ken Salazar, the attorney general, is a good Democratic candidate.

WOODRUFF: All right, and as of June the 25th, overall, what does it look like...

ROTHENBERG: The bottom line is unchanged for me. Illinois does not move a muscle here. It doesn't change the outlook which is anything from no change to maybe a Republican gain of a seat. Is the Senate in play, broadly? Yes, there are enough opportunities for the Democrats where they could actually gain seats. At the moment it still looks to me like they're going to fall short. But we have plenty of time, things could change.

WOODRUFF: We'll we are going to be checking in with you often between now and November 2. Stu, thank you very much`.

Now checking our second edition of "Campaign News Daily." Supporters of John Kerry held a fund raiser today in an unlikely place, Kabul, Afghanistan. About 60 people, mostly American civilians and aid workers, paid 10 dollars each to attend a breakfast rally for Kerry. No U.S. military personnel attended the event which featured a donkey rented from its Afghan owner to serve as the party mascot.

Former President Bill Clinton says he hopes John Kerry wins in November, but he says eight years from now, his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton would make a great president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If she wanted to presented herself and if she got elect, she would be magnificent. Therefore for my country, I would love it because she was (AUDIO GAP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Would be First Lady Teresa Heinz Kerry is also sharing her thoughts on Hillary Clinton. (AUDIO GAP) wouldn't take on a role like Mrs. Clinton did in her husband's (AUDIO GAP). Quote, "If she's going to be chief, she should go through the nomination process like any other secretary. I thought if this health program didn't work out, he loses, she loses and the issue loses."

(AUDIO GAP) now he's taking his support a step further. Source confirm to CNN that Miller will speak at this summer's GOP convention in New York. Miller is familiar with the Madison Square Garden stage. He gave a speech praising Bill Clinton at the same site during the Democrat's 1992 convention.

The campaign advertising story of the year is coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS. (AUDIO GAP)

Plus who has the most to gain or lose when the convention balloons drop? Bob Novak will have the "Inside Buzz."

And get out the popcorn for the premiere of the latest "Political Play of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: CNN advertising consultant Evan Tracey is with me now. His firm Campaign Media Analysis Group tracks TV ad spending in the top 100 media markets. All right, Evan, the Bush campaign say they dramatically scaled back their advertising. Why are they still on the air?

EVAN TRACEY, CNN ADVERTISING CONSULTANT: That's the case. We saw them pull their business out of the 13 battleground states they've been in since March. And by staying, they're running about 70 spots a day right now on national cable between things like CNN and MSNBC and Golf Channel and ESPN. (AUDIO GAP)

WOODRUFF: All right, how much of the campaign spent overall -- let's look at overall on TV advertising -- so far this year? And how does that compare to previous?

TRACEY: Well it doesn't compare. I mean McCain/Feingold has made this not even apples to oranges. Bush has spent about $70 million since March, Kerry's close to $60 million since March. So Bush maintains about a $10 million spending advantage over Kerry. And in most of the battleground states that shows through.

WOODRUFF: But you and I were just talking about this, the advertising story of the year is these 527 groups. What's happened there?

TRACEY: Well when you look at Bush vis-a-vis Kerry in the battleground states, he has a spending advantage in every single one of them. In some cases significant spending advantage.

However when you roll in the 527s with Kerry, it almost flip flops to where Kerry now has a very large spending advantage in many of these key states like Florida, Ohio, Missouri. So really the reverse becomes true when you put the 527s next to Kerry.

I don't want to ask you to go into an area you don't want to get into. But there's been some speculation that one of the reasons Kerry's negatives haven't been driven any higher is perhaps because these 527s have been holding forth in these states and there's been more than just the Bush criticism of Kerry.

TRACEY: They clearly are helping Kerry. They are, in essence, operating as one. There's about 12 different moving parts right now to the Kerry message. But the other 11 outside of Kerry are all 100 percent negative ads against Bush right now.

So they're clearly doing sort of the good cop, bad cop where Kerry can maintain a positive message and talk about health care and talk about his biography with all these 527s basically hitting Bush on issues everything from the oil prices to the environment to No Child Left Behind. I mean there's just a myriad of issues right now these 527s are taking care of.

WOODRUFF: And still not seeing many 527s on the Republican side?

TRACEY: So far only three now with a new one today. The Americans for Progress in a couple of markets. But really only about $300,000 of the total spending from Republican 527s. So when you put that next to the $40 million of Democratic 527s, there's still no comparison there either.

WOODRUFF: Evan Tracey, he always has it all together. With Campaign Media Analyst Group. And again, they track TV ad spending in the top 100 markets. It's great to see you.

TRACEY: Great to be here. WOODRUFF: Thanks for coming by.

TRACEY: Have a good weekend.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

Still ahead -- the sex club allegations involving Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan appeared to be causing a split in the Republican ranks before Ryan left the race. Bob Novak has the "Inside Buzz" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak joins us now with some "Inside Buzz." All right, what are you hearing about Jack Ryan's decision to pull out of the Senate race?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": You know,some of the national leaders in the party wanted him to ride it through because they thought he was a good candidate. But what they were really interested in -- they didn't think Republicans were going to win that Senate seat anyway -- was Jack Ryan is a multi millionaire and they thought he would finance it and it would be a good thing.

But really this made a lot of the Illinois Republican bitter. Every Illinois Republican leaders that I've talked to for the past week including -- this includes Speaker Hastert -- really wanted him to get out of the race. And they're a little bitter that some of the national people wanted him to stay on.

They were very bitter that they though Jack Ryan had deceived them and not told them the truth about his background.

WOODRUFF: How do they feel about holding onto the seat?

NOVAK: Very gloomy. And of course the Bush-Cheney people are very gloomy about -- almost hopeless about carrying the state against Kerry.

WOODRUFF: OK. All right, Moving on. Speaking of John Kerry, we sort of tend to dismiss the conventions, but Democrats you're talking to say what about the Boston convention?

NOVAK: Democrats and Republicans both think it is very important because they feel that this more or less deadlock between Bush and Kerry going into Boston will stay even. And this is a chance and a very indispensable chance for Kerry to make a big move to introduce himself to the American people.

Republican strategists I talked to feel that Bill Clinton really won the election at the convention in 1992 in New York when he introduced himself to the American people. Most Americans don't know Kerry. And how he comes over at this convention in Boston is going to be very, very important.

WOODRUFF: Richard Lugar, he has not necessarily been lockstep with the Bush administration but you're hearing some interesting things about him.

NOVAK: He gives a speech in Istanbul at the NATO summit tomorrow in which he takes the same position the president has taken but very, very tough that the NATO troops must contribute troops to Iraq.

No question that Senator Lugar is more highly thought of in Europe, much more highly thought of than President Bush is. But he lays the line out. He says there are 2.4 million men under arms by the European NATO members. Only 33,000 of them are available for NATO duties. He said you got to get in there.

Now I am told this is not coordinated with the White House. The White House didn't see his text until yesterday. But on the other hand, I think Dick Lugar is a major candidate if President Bush is reelected for secretary of state in the second term.

WOODRUFF: Interesting you're saying that about the troops when even the president, I guess, today is acknowledging he doesn't expect troops -- as many troops to materialize from NATO.

All right, separately and finally, some anti-Bush 527 executives moving over to the Kerry campaign.

NOVAK: Yes, Rodney Shelton who is with the ACT, the Americans Coming Together anti-Bush 527, has just been named the director of the Kerry campaign in Arkansas and previously Zack Exley who was with MoveOn.org has become the head of online operations for Kerry.

He was -- now as you know, Judy, the 527s are supposed to be totally separated from the campaign according to the McCain/Feingold Bill. That's how they they can spend -- no coordination. They can spend their soft money that way. And if you have this revolving door that raises some eyebrows whether there is real coordination.

So some people take a look at that. But it doesn't matter because they don't enforce any campaign laws anyway.

WOODRUFF: So we don't look for any investigations here.

NOVAK: No. Just a little thing I like to throw out.

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak, tweaking everybody on both sides.

Just a reminder, you can catch Bob again tomorrow on "THE NOVAK ZONE." That's at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. His guest tomorrow, Senator John Breaux of Louisiana. Thanks, Bob.

NOVAK: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: In a minute, we'll take you from the small screen to the big screen. Political junkies have a reason to come unglued from their television and head over to the movie theater this weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: People around the country who like politics may be heading to the movie theaters this weekend. Bill Schneider is here to explain why -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well you know some movies win Academy Awards, others win film festival prizes. But this week the movie wins the most coveted prize of all -- the "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The country is divided over President Bush, divided over the election, divided over Iraq. It's divided over a movie. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

NELSON: I think it's a powerful statement. It raises fundamental issues of morality, trust.

MORGAN: The movie is crap. It's not good. It is wrong.

SCHNEIDER: Moore's movie ridicules President Bush. That's whole point.

BUSH: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers.

Thank you. Now watch this drive.

SCHNEIDER: One side calls it factual.

SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: It's put all together into a cohesive, chronological line of events.

SCHNEIDER: The other side calls it fictional.

DAN BARTLETT, White House COMM. DIR.: When we do have time free time to see a good fiction movie, we'll probably pick "Shrek."

SCHNEIDER: It was a struggle to get the film released. When the picture was awarded the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last month it was clearly an anti-Bush statement.

MOORE: You will ensure that the American people will see this movie.

SCHNEIDER: There's an organized effort to keep that from happening.

MORGAN: We're not asking anybody to boycott, we're asking them to communicate with the theater owners to tell them that it's not appreciated.

SCHNEIDER: But doesn't seem to be working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one theater has refused to play the picture.

SCHNEIDER: Critics say the movie to demoralize the country at a time of war. MORGAN: It is message that is undermining the war on terrorism.

SCHNEIDER: Moore says he's reporting demoralization.

MOORE: This film is full of American troops over in Iraq telling you the audience how demoralized they are because the Bush administration has sent them over there on a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will not let anyone send me back over there to kill other poor people. Especially when they pose no threat to me and my country.

SCHNEIDER: Now there's an effort under way to argue that ads for the movie could be unlawful electioneering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Effective July 31, it will be unlawful for Lion's Gate to directly or indirectly fund any commercials for "Fahrenheit 9/11" that include images of President Bush.

SCHNEIDER: Hasn't Moore said he's trying to influence the presidential election?

MOORE: I certainly hope that, you know, on November 3, the country has returned to the majority.

SCHNEIDER: It's rare for a movie to make such a loud and clear political statement. Or to win the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Movies thrive on controversy. Look at "The Passion of the Christ." These filmmakers hope the controversy will get some uncommitted voters into the theaters. So the film won't just be preaching to the converted -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. And don't miss this Sunday's edition of "INSIDE POLITICS." That's at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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