The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


Bush Hopes for Boost from NATO Summit; Kerry Secretive on V.P. Decision; Majority Leader Optimistic on Iraq; Wesley Clark: Kerry Would Work Better with World Leaders

Aired June 29, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Homeward bound. President Bush returns from overseas bearing gifts. At least he hopes voters see it that way.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world has seen a great event in the history of Iraq, in the history of the Middle East and in the history of liberty.

ANNOUNCER: big names, strong opinions. Republican Tom DeLay and Democrat Wesley Clark give us dueling spins on the Iraq handover.

Now playing, "The Notebook". It's a movie title, but it also describes a scene from John Kerry's search for a replacement for Dick Cheney.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think he's upset and cursing Democrats today, just wait until November 2, in a few months. We'll give him something to curse about.

ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us on this day after the handover of power in Iraq.

Officials in Baghdad and right here in Washington got some stark reminders of the difficult and dangerous work ahead.

Three U.S. Marines were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. And insurgents ambushed Iraqi police in several other cities.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers were told of the Army's plan to call up reservists who are rarely tapped for duty. As many as 6,500 members of the individual ready reserve will fill holes in units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Back in Iraq, a move that offers better handover P.R., the new Iraqi government says that it will take legal custody tomorrow of Saddam Hussein and of 11 top officials in his former regime, all due to face war crimes charges.

President Bush is heading home from the NATO summit, as Iraq's next chapter is just starting to be written. Of course, that story is intricately linked to Bush's own campaign saga.

Here now our White House correspondent, Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Turkey, the president stood at the symbolic crossroads of Europe and the Middle East to declare Iraq and its day-old sovereign government a shining example.

BUSH: And the historic achievement of democracy in the broader Middle East will be a victory shared by all.

BASH: His optimistic flourishes came with a pointed warning for countries like Iran and Syria.

BUSH: The rise of Iraqi democracy is bringing hope to reformers across the Middle East and sending a very different message to Tehran and Damascus.

BASH: But Mr. Bush carefully tried to dispel suspicion about U.S. motives in promoting Mideast freedoms.

BUSH: When I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crash commercial -- crass commercialism are not what I have in mind.

BASH: The president exited the world stage, his last overseas trip until election day, hoping the transfer of power in Iraq and modest new support he won from NATO there will help turn around warning signs on the campaign trail.

A CBS/"New York Times" poll taken just before the handover shows just 42 percent approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing, the lowest in this survey since he took office.

And while most voters say it's important for troops to stay in Iraq now, 60 percent say the war that has come to define the Bush presidency is not worth the cost.

Ceding political control while nearly 140,000 American troops remain does pose some risk for Mr. Bush. Although unwilling to appear on camera for fear of angering the White House, several Republican pollsters told CNN they're skeptical the handover will help the president politically. What matters most to voters, they said, is whether Americans in Iraq continue to die.

Republicans inside and outside the White House do agree Iraq is critical, but it's the ultimate wild card.

SCOTT REED, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: This handoff has been important. But Iraq is still an unknown and will continue to be right up through November.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Despite bad news out of Iraq over the past month, Bush campaign aides say they take solace in several polls that show some slight improvement against the president and his Democratic opponent John Kerry, in head-to-head match-ups -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana, I understand that the Bush folks are already talking about focusing on some other issues beyond Iraq. What are they saying?

BASH: Well, certainly there is the economy, Judy. The president is coming back. Obviously we have the July 4 holiday, and then he'll get back on the campaign trail.

And over the past three months, the job numbers have shown some very positive news for the president, but they've simply gotten buried every single month in other news.

And they're hoping that this Friday, when the new job numbers come out, they will once again be positive and they will be something that the president will be able to break through on.

Of course, they sort of laugh at the Bush campaign, because it is the ultimate irony that they're trying to talk about the economy and that's the issue they thought would be his biggest vulnerability, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana, thank you very much.

More evidence today that the Bush-Kerry presidential race is a squeaker, at least right now. Kerry is leading Bush by a hair, 45 percent to 44 percent in that new CBS/"New York Times" poll that Dana mentioned.

In a three-way race, Bush leads Kerry by one point, with independent Ralph Nader getting five percent.

Today Kerry has been busy, reaching out to African-American and Latino voters. He is due later today at the La Raza Conference in Phoenix after speaking to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in Chicago, along with V.P. prospect, Dick Gephardt.

Kerry seemed to acknowledge that some blacks and Hispanics have not been entirely satisfied with his minority outreach.


KERRY: I'm wary about standing up in front of you, because I know there's a cynicism. I know you're tired of the words. So am I. So is Dick. So is Jesse. We've been at this a long time, folks.

I didn't get in this business to just throw words around. I didn't get into this in order to drive wedges between people or watch the opportunities of our generation just be washed away by callowness and shallow offerings of partisanship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: We'll have more on John Kerry and minority voters a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

As Kerry gets closer to choosing a running mate, we asked Americans to weigh in on the candidates. Our poll shows John Edwards leading the V.P. pack, with 72 percent saying they would be enthusiastic or satisfied if Kerry selects the North Carolina senator.

Former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is second with 64 percent, followed by retired General Wesley Clark with 59 percent. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack rounding out the top five.

For a little more ticket talk let's bring in Chuck Todd, editor- in-chief of "The Hotline" to talk about some of these names.

Chuck, probably a dozen or so or more names being bandied about. But this week, we do seem to be hearing as much as anything Edwards, Vilsack and Gephardt. What are you hearing?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE": Well, they get the most press coverage, those three. And that's what's so hard about this, is that we're not quite sure is that what John Kerry's thinking about. But they certainly get the most press coverage.

John Edwards was just out in Iowa, speaking at the Iowa -- an Iowa Democratic fund-raiser, got enthusiastic applause. Tom Vilsack was out there as well. Obviously, that's his home state. So there was definitely a lot of buzz.

But at the same time, because there's only -- all this buzz centered on these three, it's making people wonder, well, it's never who the obvious short list is, it's always somebody out of left field. And so there is sort of this focus on, who else should be on that short list?

WOODRUFF: And speaking of that, I mean, there's always the theory out there that he could go outside of those names that we keep hearing and pick an entirely wild card.

TODD: Well, and that's what, I think, all of a sudden there's this counter-conventional wisdom developing.

The problem is John Kerry, to his credit, is not talking. People around him aren't talking.

But we do know little things. We do hear that, you know, if he wants to make a presidential statement, and wants to talk about national security, well, then, he's going to make a pick that the intellectual conventional wisdom crowd hasn't been thinking about. And it's a way to almost enunciate the fact that he's ready to be a presidential candidate.

And so I think that that's why we're seeing other names pop up.

WOODRUFF: So we really are just sifting through tea leaves. I mean, talk about some of the tea leaves that you're sifting through.

TODD: Well, that's what's so hard. I mean, I hear a lot of buzz the fact that John Kerry and Joe Biden, for instance, the senator from Delaware, talk a lot, in fact that Kerry personally talks to Biden more than he talks with anybody on the supposed short list.

Yet Jim Johnson hasn't vetted Biden at all. And yet you talk to people who understand how Kerry thinks who say, well, if Kerry announced Biden, it wouldn't shock them because Kerry knows Biden. And he's personally comfortable with him.

So there's been some Biden bubbling up talk as of late.

This morning, the fact that Wesley Clark was on the "Today Show" being sort of the Democratic response on the Iraq handover made a lot of people wonder, oh, well, he wouldn't have done that without John Kerry's approval.

So all of a sudden people are wondering, well, maybe there's this, you know, Wesley Clark boomlet that people are missing.

And I've also heard that Bob Graham's notebooks, these controversial diaries that he's been taken, is being read by Jim Johnson, and have been sent to the vetters. And so better are wondering, well, maybe Bob Graham is much more higher up on that list than we realize.

So it's those little things that everybody is over reading, probably. But, you know, we don't have anything to do until he makes the pick, so we're going to over read.

WOODRUFF: But historically, Chuck, I mean, you've covered these elections, these choices before. Is this the way the press ultimately does get closer to figuring out who it is?

TODD: No. To be honest with you. I mean, you know, unless Kerry is going to tell somebody, but, you know, everybody is taking Kerry at his word. He did not like the way Al Gore treated him during 2000. It was almost as if...

WOODRUFF: It was so public.

TODD: It was so public, to the point of, you know, they made campaign posters with all three names on them, with Gore-Edwards, Gore-Lieberman and Gore-Kerry.

And Kerry is so determined not to do it that way that he's almost been ultra secretive, making it very difficult, making people like John Edwards and Tom Vilsack wonder, well, do I need to be more publicly outspoken about wanting to be the nominee? Vilsack giving an interview to "The New York Times," talking about how he would debate Dick Cheney.

So it is, I think, leaving some of these potential candidates a little not sure what to do.

WOODRUFF: Wondering, just like the rest of us.

TODD: Just like the rest of us.

WOODRUFF: Mildly -- Mildly reassuring. But only mildly.

TODD: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chuck, thank you very much.

Well, "The Hotline," of course, an insiders' political briefing, produced daily by the "National Journal." You can go online to for subscription information.

Thanks, Chuck.

TODD: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily."

Florida just wouldn't be Florida without a close race for the White House. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, John Kerry leads George W. Bush by two percentage points in the Sunshine State. Now when Ralph Nader is included in the survey, the race becomes even tighter, 43 percent for both Bush and Kerry, and five percent for Nader.

John Kerry used part of his speech this morning to focus on education. And his plans are getting a boost from the first American woman in space. Sally Ride hosted a conference call to say that she supports Kerry's proposal to encourage more women and minorities to study science and technology.

Ride did not officially endorse Kerry for president, however. When asked who she would be voting for in November, she said, quote, "We'll see, won't we?"

Kerry and Bush surrogates are fired up to talk about Iraq politics. Up next, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay applauds the handover and takes on Bush critics. And then Democrat Wesley Clark's perspective as a retired general and Kerry rival turned ally.

And later, Ralph Nader, strange political bedfellows. With 126 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: As the majority leader of the House, GOP Representative Tom DeLay has been a staunch supporter of the president's policies in Iraq.

I spoke with DeLay just a while ago, and I started by asking him if he believes there will be more stability in Iraq, now that Iraqis are running the country.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes, I believe so. I think we've seen more stability ever since we started this was 15 months ago.

It's gotten better. The infrastructure's gotten better. The quality of life has gotten better. With the Iraqis in charge, and an Iraqi face on bringing freedom to Iraq, I think the Iraqi people will understand the importance of taking responsibility for their own freedom. And all that has to play well.

Obviously the terrorists and insurgents and people that don't want freedom to come to Iraq and to the region will continue their violence and their attacks. But as long as we can go get those terrorists and put them in a cell or a cemetery, and the Iraqis are doing most of the work, I think stability will come to the region.

WOODRUFF: Yesterday the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, told me in an interview, he said like everybody else, he hopes this new phase works. But he compared it to diving off of a diving board when you don't know if there's any water in the pool.

DELAY: Well, that's real unfortunate. There's pessimists everywhere, and there are critics everywhere.

We've been planning this day for months. We knew that we had to turn over freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. And they had to take responsibility for it. And we've been planning it.

The day has come. It came a couple of days early. But the leaders of Iraq have shown that they're ready to take over and run the government and bring security to the Iraqi people.

And I'm very optimistic. I think this is going to be -- bode well for the future of Iraq and the region, and security for the United States.

WOODRUFF: How do you rate, Majority Leader DeLay, how do you rate the American occupation of Iraq while it was underway?

DELAY: Well, I think it is amazing what our men and women in uniform have been able to accomplish in a very short period of time.

Sure, we've run into some problems and challenges. This is a huge effort, this war on terror. Iraq is part of the war, as Afghanistan is, and going after cells all over the world. We're having to rewrite the manual of war.

But overall, I think it's absolutely amazing that we've been able to accomplish what we've been able to accomplish, and in just 15 months, bring freedom to the people of Iraq, freedom to people of Afghanistan, security to the people of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

It's an amazing effort. And I give it an "A" for everybody involved, starting with the moral leadership of the president and everybody on down.

WOODRUFF: If that's the case, then, what do you say to the majority of the American people, at least this is what the polls are indicating, who are now saying they believe that the war and the aftermath was not worth the cost in American lives?

DELAY: Oh, I think those that have the resolve to fight this war and win this war will show the rest of the American people that in the end, months from now, maybe even years from now, it was worth it to take out Saddam Hussein, who had close ties and supported terrorist organizations all over the world, made it more dangerous for the American people.

You tie that to disrupting cells and disrupting terrorists around the world, the thousands of terrorists that we've been able to kill and thousands we've been able to capture.

I think the American people in the end, unlike a snapshot of a poll, in the end the American people will realize that we're winning this war, and it was well worth it.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe these polls? Do you think they're accurate?

DELAY: No, I don't. I don't look at polls. The president of the United States doesn't look at polls. Polls are nice to talk about sitting around the coffee table. You've got to do what's right.

The president has shown more leadership and has done what he felt has been right in protecting the American people, regardless of what the polls say.


WOODRUFF: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, talking to us today from Houston.

Stay with us for a distinctly different view of the overseas challenges confronting the U.S. In a minute, I'll talk policy even and a little vice presidential politics with former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark.


WOODRUFF: As NATO supreme allied commander, retired General Wesley Clark was in charge of NATO forces during the 1999 crisis in Kosovo. A short time ago, we talked, among other things, about the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

I began by asking him if the United States was right to turn reins over to the Iraq people yesterday before there's stability in the country.


GEN. WESLEY CLARK (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to turn the government back to the people. My concern all along was that there wasn't a properly thought-through strategy for success. And the 30 June date was pulled out of the hat without any consideration of reality on the ground.

It was really with an eye toward U.S. domestic politics and the election coming up in November when it was announced. A lot of standards have been compromised. But once the date got out in public, yes, we had to follow through on it.

Now, I would have liked to have seen a real handover with little pomp and circumstance, so the Iraqi people could have gotten into it. Instead, we did sort of a stealth handover.

And it's an indication, really, of how shaky the security situation is over there. I think it's very shaky. It's a very tough problem. And nothing about this handover is going to make that security problem any easier, in the near term.

In the long term, I hope it will. I think the Iraqi people will pull together. You know, my concern is for the safety of the men and women in the armed forces and for their families back here in the states. And my concern all along has been the administration just didn't have a strategy that made the best use of our military resources.

WOODRUFF: Well, I -- we just listened to Tom delay the House majority leader, saying this was the beginning of a new era that is going to set Iraq on a path towards stability. That yes, there are going to be bumps in the road. There are going to be security problems. But this is the right path.

CLARK: Well, I hope it will be. Certainly, you know, we're all better off with Saddam Hussein gone. But the question is, how does it fit into the larger pattern of U.S. security concerns?

We still have Osama bin Laden on the loose. We still have real problems in Afghanistan, getting an election to take place there in September. We don't have enough resources. NATO doesn't have the resources it really needs even to put into Afghanistan much less to really make a difference in Iraq.

And the war on terror can't be won anyway by the occupation of Iraq. It could be lost, but it can't be won. It's a different matter.

WOODRUFF: You are supporting John Kerry. You know, all along he's been saying this war should be internationalized, you know, NATO, the U.N.

CLARK: Right.

WOODRUFF: Now, President Bush is trying to do that. The best he's been able to get is NATO is now saying, we'll train Iraqi troops and police outside the country. What really more could John Kerry do?

CLARK: Well, John Kerry's a different person. He comes in with a fresh face, without all the baggage that President Bush has accumulated now with the Europeans. I think John Kerry will be very much respected, admired and supported by the people in Europe, and by their governments.

I think it's going to be a whole new sweep. Just like Tom DeLay says about the change in Iraq. I think we could have that kind of change in the United States, and find that the United States once again is a power that listens to others around the world, and is in turn listened to, admired and respected.

WOODRUFF: But for the American people who are looking at whom to vote for in November, are they really seeing that much of a difference in the plan for Iraq going forward?

KERRY: Well, I think what the American people -- I hope what they'll understand is that George Bush has flip-flopped.

I mean, he's the one who said no U.N., we'll do it all ourselves and so forth. And now out of necessity, he's been driven into the position that John Kerry and I and many others have been advocating all along: get with the international community. Take the "American- only" label off this operation. And let it work on behalf of the Iraqi people.

He's been driven to that position not by preference, but by necessity. And that's a huge difference, Judy, because when you look out ahead and you say, what are the challenges -- the remaining challenges that are out there: North Korea, Iran, the broader war on terror.

The American people are going to have to decide whether they want to rely on the judgment of a man who has been proven wrong time and again in foreign affairs, or whether they're going to go with a group of people whose expressions have been very clear and very consistent and have been proven right.

WOODRUFF: The vice presidential question: you've clearly been on the list of people John Kerry's been looking at. Where do you think you stand right now?

KERRY: Well, I'm very honored that, you know, my name's been floated out there. But as I've said, that's -- he's got a private process. And I'm in the business community. I'm going to do what I can to help get John Kerry elected -- get elected. And I'm sure he'll make the right decision.

WOODRUFF: Do you think you're on the short list, whatever that is?

CLARK: I have no idea. But what I have said from the beginning is really this is not my intent. I'm not interested in this. I ran for public office because I was worried about the country. I think John Kerry's going to be a great president, and I'm going to do everything I can to get him elected.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Loyal soldier, Wesley Clark.

Still ahead, books and baseball, with a political spin, of course.

Also, we'll have the latest on who the Democrats hope you'll tune in to watch during their convention in Boston.

Plus, a veteran of the campaign trail joins me to discuss how the events in Iraq may affect the presidential race.



ANNOUNCER: Reaching out.

KERRY: I believe this is the most important election of our lifetime, and we need to mobilize as never before.

ANNOUNCER: Can John Kerry energize black and Latino voters?

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's dirty politics in the worst tradition.

ANNOUNCER: Are Democrats trying to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in key stats? Are Republicans trying to get him on?

You may not know him, but David Cobb is running for president. We'll speak with the guy who beat out Ralph Nader for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

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


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The Kerry campaign's news release is headlined "New Kerry Plan Will Expand Opportunity Through Education." But there is much more to read between the lines of the Democrat's emphasis today on higher education for all. Kerry is trying to build bridges. And in some cases, mend fences with African-American and Latino voters.


KERRY: I know there's a cynicism. I know you're tired of the words. So am I.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): John Kerry rallying the most loyal Democrats of all. Brushing off criticism he's done little to broaden his appeal among minorities.

KERRY: I reached out a lot and I listened to people about the feelings and the black community across America that people are there at election time, what happens afterwards. They sort of feel it disappear and the broken promises have been broken so often. WOODRUFF: Polls show blacks overwhelmingly back Kerry over George W. Bush. But turnout is key. And some African-American leaders complain Kerry does not have the base fired up. It's a concern echoed in the Latino community.

Perhaps to address the criticism Kerry is headlining a string of minority gatherings this week. Take today's pilgrimage to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. His speech this evening at the La Raza Conference in Phoenix. And last Saturday's address before the National Council of Latino Elected Officials.

KERRY: America wouldn't be where it is today as a country and as a people if it wasn't for immigrants. And neither would I because I married one.

BUSH: Mi Casa Blanca es su Casa Blanca.

WOODRUFF: The president is also trying to build a following among the nation's fastest growing minority. The GOP sees a long-term opening, envisioning a political landscape in coming years where Latinos could be as drawn to Republicans as blacks are to Democrats.

They've been running Spanish television commercials, but so has Kerry. Efforts sure to continue in a tightening election, where every constituency is a potential battle ground.


WOODRUFF: Some big name is hip-hop apparently are not yet convinced of Kerry's commitment to the African-American community. "The New York Daily News" quotes Sean "P. Diddy" Combs as saying, "I'm holding my vote hostage until I hear what Kerry to say about health care and computers in schools."

And Hip-Hop Summit organizer Russell Simmons reportedly accuses Kerry of, quote, "Taking the black vote for granted."

Our second edition of "Campaign News Daily" centers on the upcoming Democratic Convention in Boston. As we have reported, the convention speakers list will include big names like Clinton and Gore. We have also learned that some of Kerry's primary challengers, including the Reverend Al Sharpton and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, will also play undetermined roles at next month's event.

Members of John Kerry's immediate family will also make remarks to party delegates. In addition to his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, reports say the senator's two daughters and at least one of his stepsons are also expected to speak.

As for state residents awaiting the arrival of delegates and media, opinions are mixed about the impact the convention will have on Boston. In a "Boston Herald Poll," 44 percent of state residents say the event will be good for the city and 43 percent said it would not.

Among people living in greater Boston, however, 48 percent say hosting the convention is a bad idea. Many Green Party members still are debating the bombshell they dropped at their convention when they refused to endorse Ralph Nader. But Nader may be feeling comforted by some unlikely supporters in Oregon. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is tracking the Nader factor.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Conservatives for Nader? Whoever heard of such a thing? Not to mention dirty tricks in Oregon.

It's easy to make the case that Ralph Nader was responsible for electing George W. Bush in 2000. Democrats are concerned Nader will do it again.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Ralph Nader's candidacy is the single biggest danger to the Kerry candidacy.

SCHNEIDER: Now that Nader has failed to get the Green Party's nomination, he has to figure out some way to get on state ballots. In Oregon, the Nader forces made their second try Saturday to get 1,000 registered voters to show up at a convention in Portland and sign petitions that would qualify Nader for the ballot in that swing state.

Only this time Nader had some help from unlikely sources, like the staunchly conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy.

MATT KIBBE, PRES., CITIZENS FOR A SOUND ECONOMY: There's about 30,000 Oregon CSE members. They care about economic freedom issues. And we called about 1,000 folks in the Portland area and said, this would be an opportunity to show up to provide clarity in the presidential debate.


KIBBE: I think, you know, Ralph Nader certainly provides clarity because he forces John Kerry to explain where he is on things.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats cried foul. They claim Republicans had a hand in the recruitment of phony Nader supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican Party here didn't deny it. Essentially they said it was volunteers. But as everybody knows, volunteers don't just sneak into campaign offices to make phone calls. These are organized and scripts are approved.

SCHNEIDER: Citizens for a Sound Economy insists there was no coordination.

KIBBE: No, there's been absolutely none. Not with Nader, not with Bush.

Meanwhile, Nader is complaining about dirty tricks by Oregon Democrats. An e-mail went out from a Democratic activist urging Democrats to show up at the Nader convention and refuse to sign the petitions.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They want to censor and stifle and sabotage the opportunity for tens of thousands of Oregonian voters to vote for the candidates of their choice.

SCHNEIDER: Democratic officials say the e-mail was sent by a volunteer, acting on his own. Conservatives say they're going to keep on helping Nader.

KIBBE: We're looking at Washington state where Nader's trying to qualify for the ballot. We're looking at Wisconsin as well. Michigan and Florida. But in Michigan and Florida, as you know, he qualified already under the Reform Party. So we're looking at all the swing states.


SCHNEIDER: So what happened in Oregon? The secretary of state's office says the signatures from Saturday's event have not been validated yet. And they add, it's going to be very close.

By the way, we also checked to see if it's true that Nader could hurt Kerry this year. We found 18 state polls that asked people how they would vote with and without Nader's name on the ballot. In 15 of those states, Nader takes more votes away from Kerry than Bush. In three states, his impact is neutral. We didn't find a single state where Nader's name on the ballot helps Kerry -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating. Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, as the nominee of the Green Party, David Cobb is guaranteed a spot on the ballot in 22 states, and the District of Columbia, now seven of those states are Bush-Kerry battle grounds. Green Party candidate David Cobb joins us now from San Francisco. Congratulations on getting the nomination of the Green Party.


WOODRUFF: What do you say to Ralph Nader who was clearly upset about losing this. Among other things, he said endorsing him would have meant higher visibility for the Green Party. He said it was -- it offers the party better fund raising opportunities, and on and on.

COBB: Well, I have nothing but absolute respect and admiration for Ralph Nader. As I've said many times, I'm a lawyer because of Atticus Finch and Ralph Nader.

Ralph Nader and I both absolutely agree on the need to break out of this corporate-controlled politics and the corporate-controlled nature of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties.

But, Judy, Ralph and I have a disagreement on the best way to do that. In this election cycle Ralph is running an independent campaign. It's his right to do that. And I think it's shameful that all the shenanigans are taking place to prevent Ralph Nader from being on the ballot as an independent. But myself and the Green Party are committed to building an independent political force to challenge the Democrats and the Republicans because there has to be an opposition party that will continue after the November election no matter who wins.

WOODRUFF: Well, he clearly thinks you're not challenging the Democrats enough. He says the fact that you're staying away from the states, or at least you've said you would stay away from the states where there's a close race, he says if you're trying building a political movement, you don't turn your backs on people in so-called close states. Is that what you're doing?

COBB: That is not what I'm doing. In fact, I plan on going to Pennsylvania and Ohio immediately to help to bolster ballot access drives in those states.

You know, Judy, what I've said is, I want to run a strong, aggressive and smart campaign that will both grow the Green Party and culminate with George W. Bush out of the White House. It's a very nuanced strategy. But it's one that I think is in the best interest of the country and it's in the best interest of the Green Party.

WOODRUFF: But aren't you really saying, David Cobb, that you're going to tread lightly when it comes to seriously challenging John Kerry?

COBB: Well, Greens tell the truth. And the truth of the matter is, that John Kerry voted for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act. John Kerry voted for NAFTA. John Kerry opposes single payer universal health care. John Kerry opposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage. I'm going to be willing to criticize John Kerry on taking positions that progressives cannot support, and that progressives would like to see enacted. That's the reason so many more progressives at the grassroots level are actually joining the Green Party.

At the same time, I'm going to acknowledge the truth of the matter that as bad as John Kerry is on all these issues, George W. Bush is qualitatively worse. The difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush may be nearly incremental, but it is not inconsequential. I trust the voters to hear the truth, and make up their own minds.

WOODRUFF: Let me quote to you from what one of the Green Party delegates said at your party convention this past weekend. He was obviously unhappy. He said, "this is a dark day. We've just nominated a white lawyer with a car salesman's smile. He might as well be a Republican."

COBB: Well, it was a very contentious convention. Tempers were high for many people. But, you know, Judy, I grew up in grinding poverty in San Leon, Texas. I've washed dishes. I've been a construction worker. I'm a genuine working class person who lived the American dream. You know, Greens are ordinary people trying to do something extraordinary which is to build a genuine movement that will take our country back from the corporate hooligans who have literally hijacked it.

I'm reaching out to Ralph Nader. I'm reaching out to Independents. I'm interested in what's in the best interest of the Green Party and the best interest of the country not just for this election cycle but what are we going to do in December and January and what are we going to do in 2005 and 2006. And I'm working very hard to make sure that the Green Party continues to be the electoral arm of the growing movement for peace, racial and social justice, economic democracy, and genuine ecology.

WOODRUFF: We hear you and we thank you for joining us. David Cobb, who is the brand-new nominee of the Green Party after this weekend's convention. We'll be talking to you throughout the election. Thank you very much.

COBB: Thanks, Judy. I encourage people to check us out on the web at

WOODRUFF: He got his plug in.

However the Greens or Ralph Nader may influence the presidential race, the Iraqi issue seems likely to remain front and center for some time.

Up next, the handover and the political stakes for President Bush.

Plus, I'll ask pundit-turned-author Bill Press why he insists Bush must go.

And find out who's adopting the mantle (ph) of Yankee fans, at least, tonight.


WOODRUFF: President Bush, this week, highlighted the future role that NATO will play in training Iraqi troops. With me now to talk more about NATO, Iraq, and the race for the White House, is Karen Tumulty, she is the national political correspondent for "TIME" magazine. Karen, thank you very much for being with me. Does this handover clearly give George Bush, at least, a momentary lift?

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Certainly it is one day's worth of good news. But the fact that the administration had to do it and the way they did, you know, moving it up two days, not having a big celebration, but essentially having to do it very quickly behind closed doors, almost underscores the real problem, which is the security situation on the ground. And certainly for the president to get a political bump out of this, it does appear, especially looking at, you know, poll numbers coming out, even today, that Americans are going to be looking for better news on the ground. Fewer American casualties. You know, an end to these gruesome videotapes.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, John Kerry is out there, where, with his argument? He's been saying, we need more of an international involvement. Now the president is trying to do that. But how much of an argument is John Kerry left with?

TUMULTY: Well, you don't hear him making a lot of argument, period, as you reported earlier. He's continuing with this schedule stressing domestic events. He's really only talking about this when he is asked. Today, when the campaign responded to the president's speech in Istanbul, it was with a statement from their security adviser Rand Beers rather than the candidate himself. His argument seems to be, you know, that NATO needs to be more directly involved. There need to be more boots on the ground from NATO forces. But he does not have a really clearly differentiated strategy at this point.

WOODRUFF: Let me turn you quickly to the vice presidential pick. Karen, what are you hearing? You're reporting on this like the rest of the political press in this town.

TUMULTY: The campaign has been quietly putting out the word that the announcement could come in a two-week window that begins July 5 and there certainly are all sorts of signs that Senator Kerry is very close to a decision. And so there's a lot of speculation at this point that the announcement could even come as early as next week.

WOODRUFF: Any greater speculation about one name over another? I mean, it's the question everybody has. And we talked to Chuck Todd of "The Hotline" about it earlier. Is it the same names we keep hearing or could it be a surprise?

TUMULTY: Well, the one thing that the campaigns have managed to do in the last few cycles is surprise us at the end. So, yes, of course, everyone is still talking about Senator Edwards and Congressman Gephardt, the vanquished rivals. Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson. But I'm hearing more talk, too, for instance, about Florida, and possibly that the campaign is giving another look at Senator Graham. Again, the problem in this is, for all of us who are reporting it, that the campaign, particularly Senator Kerry, campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, Jim Johnson, who's managing the process, have been very much keeping this close to the vest. And so anything you hear is generally second, thirdhand, and not particularly informed.

WOODRUFF: So far, we have to give them credit for keeping it under wraps.

TUMULTY: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: We'll see. All right. Karen Tumulty, "TIME" magazine, thank you very much.

TUMULTY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, you can't get away from politics at the bookstores right now. Coming up, a new look at President Bush by an author who isn't exactly a fan.


WOODRUFF: The cover gets straight to the point. There is nothing cryptic about it. We're talking about a scathing new book by Bill Press. It is called "Bush Must Go. The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesn't Deserve A Second Term." I talked recently with a former "CROSSFIRE" co-host about the book.


BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, "BUSH MUST GO": Yes, this is not the "Da Vinci Code." You don't have to search for clues, hidden clues (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is sort of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that hits you right between the eyes as to why I believe President Bush doesn't deserve a second term.

WOODRUFF: What are the main reasons?

PRESS: There are a lot. The economy, you know, I think he's taken us from A-OK to IOU. The environment, where he's really rolled back the clock on about 30 years of environmental progress. The Patriot Act, which I think undermines our basic civil liberties. Crony capitalism. He's really sold this country out and, I think, federal agencies out to the biggest contributors but the number one reason I believe, Judy, has to be the war in Iraq. We see more and more evidence every day that the reasons he gave us for going to war are not valid. And this president chose to go to war. It was not a war of necessity. It was a war of his choice.

WOODRUFF: We hear so much, Bill Press, about the country being divided right down the middle, deeply divided. Are you finding that? I know you've just begun your book tour around the country. What are you hearing?

PRESS: Well, I'm -- I must admit, I'm not a scientific poll when I walk around. But even here in the heart of Texas, I find a lot of dissatisfaction with George Bush as president. And I find Texans, a lot of them willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, Judy. They're willing to take George Bush back to Texas in order to save the country. But I think this is a -- we're still a 45-45 or 50-50 nation. It's going to be a close election. But I do find that more and more Americans have lost that positive feeling about George Bush, and they're looking for an alternative.

WOODRUFF: I read a very -- a small review, and it said, among other things, it said that it didn't assume that Bush officials were concerned about your book, because it said it reaches not only -- it reaches out only to Bush haters, and not to swing voters. If you're trying to persuade people, why not be a little more subtle?

PRESS: Well, first of all, I don't hate George Bush. And I say that on the first page of the book. I love America, which is why I wrote this book because I think his policies have been so dangerous to America. But, Judy, I was not really reaching out to the swing voters. I really wanted to give the committed activists, Democrats an agenda, a Bible for 2004, to put in one place, sort of like a compendium or a handbook they could carry around, the ten most important reasons, so that they know when they're talking to people, why this man has been so dangerous for this country and why it's so important to get rid of him. I welcome swing voters but it's really aimed at the choir.

WOODRUFF: You don't think those people are already sufficiently motivated to vote against George Bush?

PRESS: I think they're hungry, for ammunition. They're hungry for information. And they're hungry for facts. I mean, I'm sure you sometimes hear this, I do, particularly from my friends that, I can't stand that man. I can't stand the way he walks. I keep telling people, that's not enough. You've got to know the facts. You have to know, issue by issue, why his policies have been so dangerous for this country. And, you know, that's what I hope to do with the book.

WOODRUFF: Are you running into any hostility, negative reaction from people who love George Bush out there?


WOODRUFF: What are they doing or saying?

PRESS: Well, I have talked to -- particularly I've done a lot of conservative talk radio, and some of the more conservative television shows and what I find particularly are the Republican talking points. And let's take Iraq, for example, and let's take weapons of mass destruction. I can't tell you how many times have been repeated to me the quotes by Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright and Al Gore, and others, saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And so they say, see? You can't blame George Bush. To which I point out, yes, they thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction but they did not take this country to war based on that information. And what they did was passed a policy that said regime change in Iraq, in other words, fund the opposition inside of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, which I think was the right policy.


WOODRUFF: Bill Press, talking about his two by four.

We'll get the latest on another political author in a minute. Bill Clinton's book has been out for a week now. Guess how many copies he's already sold.


WOODRUFF: Bill Clinton's publisher reports the former president's book is just about to pass the 1 million mark in sales. "My Life" went on sale last Tuesday. By Sunday night, 935,000 copies had been sold. The book is already in its third printing, with an expanded print run of almost 2.6 million copies. And we know it's almost 1,000 pages long.

One final note from the world of politics concerning America's favorite pastime, it seems Vice President Cheney will attend tonight's game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox as a guest of Governor George Pataki. No word yet on who the vice president will be cheering for. We'll be looking. Upon hearing of Mr. Cheney's plan, Senator Kerry's campaign said, quote, "although his recent language belongs best in the bleachers at a Yankee stadium after about ten beers, I thought Vice President Cheney judging by his secrecy over his dealings with Halliburton and Enron would have been more of a fan of dodgeball." We have no doubt who Senator Kerry will be rooting for. Everybody's getting in his licks.

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


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.