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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Kerry in the Heartland; 'Ticket Talk'

Aired July 2, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're witnessing steady growth. Steady growth. And that's important.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can do better, and we will do better than that.

ANNOUNCER: Both presidential contenders jump on the June jobs report. But which one will profit politically?

VP wildcards: is John Kerry looking beyond the usual suspects in his search for a running mate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry says he's author of a strategy to win the war on terror against the Japanese yakuza.

ANNOUNCER: The Bush camp pokes fun and tries to poke holes in Kerry's latest campaign ad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, economists had hoped for more, and President Bush probably did, too, knowing his political future may be linked to the state of the economy. Still, he sounded upbeat today about what is, at best, a mixed employment picture.

The government reports 112,000 new jobs were added to U.S. payrolls in June. It is the 10th straight month of gains. But about half of the growth economists expected. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent for a third month. Speaking to small business owners at the White House, the president said the numbers show a steady rebound for a once battered economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We've been through a recession, a national emergency, a war, corporate scandals. We've got an economy which is changing. It's -- the nature of the job base is changing.

And all that means it's been a difficult period of time, yet we're strong, we're getting stronger. We're witnessing steady growth. Steady growth. And that's important. We don't need boom-or-bust type growth. We want just steady, consistent growth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WORDED: We'll have a live report from the White House on Bush and jobs a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Today's numbers did not give John Kerry any reason to back off from his contention that the jobs market still is suffering. Kerry talked jobs today in Minnesota, the first stop in a holiday weekend bus tour through three showdown states. CNN's Joe Johns traveled with Kerry to Cloquet, Minnesota.

Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. They're not conceding anything at this point. This campaign obviously has been critical of the job creation numbers and continues to do so. It continues to say the country is still a long way off from restoring the quality as well as the quantity of the jobs that have been lost.

So the campaign essentially is saying today's job figures basically proves its point. The candidate, John Kerry, appearing here in Minnesota today, talked about those job numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: This administration says to you that this is the best economy of our lifetime. They say that this is the best that we can do. They've even called us pessimists. Well, I say to them, the most pessimistic thing that you can say is that America can't do better than we're doing today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So, if one thing is clear, the Kerry campaign does think jobs are still an issue and believes this bus tour here in Minnesota is the place to prove the point -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Joe, what else can you tell us about this tour? Where else are they going? What are they trying to do?

JOHNS: Well, here in Minnesota, they'll go on to another rally this afternoon. From there, they go next to Wisconsin. And then on Sunday, they end up in the state of Iowa.

Basically, what's going on here is John Kerry is trying to show himself to the voters. There are a lot of concerns because polls have indicated President Bush has a pretty wide lead in the heartland among rural voters. This is something the Kerry campaign wants to try to improve. Of course, Al Gore had a rough time as well in the election four years ago -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Joe Johns, traveling with John Kerry in Minnesota today. Joe, thank you.

Well, anticipation is clearly building for the announcement of Kerry's running mate. And once his bus tour ends, you can look for the VP watch to shift into overdrive. As always, our political editor, John Mercurio, has his ear to the ground, listening for "Ticket Talk" and more.

John, this could be the last weekend we sit here in anticipation. What's the latest?

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, the latest is that we have no new ins today, Judy. But we apparently have two -- two new outs. You know, one of the outs unfortunately was somebody that we never got to know very well at all, Dick Durban.

Now, Democrats are telling us that John Kerry, during private meetings this week, frequently brought up the name Dick Durbin as somebody that he was considering for VP. Now, Dick Durbin is a popular two-term senator from Illinois, well respected in the Senate, well known in the sort of Midwestern media markets. Al Gore briefly considered him as a running mate in 2000.

But sadly, this boomlet that we were hoping for, for Dick Durbin, didn't last very long. We reported this earlier this morning, that Kerry was considering it. Just a few hours later, Durbin's spokesperson talked to CNN and said that there's no interest on Durbin's part, that he would decline, humbly decline the offer if it was ever made. So I -- you know, I guess that's over now.

One other name that we might be able to cross off our list is Wes Clark. Now, we're just reading tea leaves here, but sources telling us that in several meetings this week, John Kerry -- in, you know, several VP-related meetings, John Kerry mentioning Wes Clark's exactly zero times. So -- so read from that whatever you want.

WOODRUFF: OK. And that we will. All right.

Bill Richardson was another name that came off the list. What do you know -- what do you know about that? I know you were reporting on this late yesterday.

MERCURIO: Well, this is sort of interesting. I mean, just a few hours after Bill Richardson submitted a letter to John Kerry, withdrawing his -- his candidacy, his chief of staff was on the -- was working the phones, talking to reporters, trying to make the case that the motivation behind it was Richardson's desire to keep the pledge that he made to the voters when he ran for governor that he would serve the full four-year term.

Now, aides are telling us that he's always been -- been motivated by this, that he met with Jim Johnson as early as May 1 in Washington, Johnson urging him to stay in the race, Richardson telling him that he wasn't interested. Kerry met with him in Phoenix on Tuesday. They talked for about two hours. Richardson saying again at that time he wasn't interested. Kerry urging him to stay in, telling him that he was one of the finalists, that he really needed -- you know, he really needed him as -- as a candidate.

But what -- there's a lot of talk this day about other motivating factors for Richardson. He was the only Latino Democrat on this...

WOODRUFF: Right.

MERCURIO: ... on this sort of short list. But according to a lot of recent media reports, you know, he had sort of fallen off of this sort of very, very short list of John Edwards, Tom Vilsack and Dick Gephardt. And there's a lot of talk today that he was a little discouraged by the thought that maybe Kerry was just keeping him on the ticket or as a possibility in a way to appeal to Hispanic Democrats.

WOODRUFF: And now, he is apparently truly off.

MERCURIO: Yes.

WOODRUFF: All right. Finally, what about timetable? What about schedule? What's your sense on that?

MERCURIO: Again, we really do hope this is the final weekend. As Joe Johns just reported, Kerry is going to be traveling in the Midwest this week on a bus. He's going to be in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and then Iowa.

In Iowa, he's going to be meeting up with Tom Vilsack. We assume they'll have, you know, some time to talk to each other.

John Edwards is going to be down in North Carolina doing a beach walk on Sunday. But over the weekend, we're hearing that Edwards' advance people are traveling sort of quietly, we think, up to Pittsburgh to help the Kerry people prepare for a barbecue they're holding on Monday up in Pittsburgh, which obviously they have a house up there. Now, there's a lot of speculation that John Edwards perhaps might join the Kerry campaign.

WOODRUFF: Some of his own staff.

MERCURIO: Some of his own staff, exactly, up in Pittsburgh. That speculation is complicated by the fact that Edwards is holding a big fundraiser in Boston, or is attending a big fundraiser in Boston that night. So it's unclear exactly whether or not he's going to be there, but we're watching that closely.

But one other piece of anecdotal evidence to show that we're thinking that this really will take place in the middle of next week, the Democratic governor close to the Kerry campaign who was trying to schedule with the campaign sort of a regional announcement for sometime in the middle of next week, his staff talked to the campaign earlier this week, said, you know, when can we schedule this? We're interested in doing it Wednesday or Thursday. The campaign telling this Democratic governor's staff that they were under strict orders to keep next week as clear as possible, so urging them to -- to plan that event sometime for the following week.

WOODRUFF: That smells very suspicious.

MERCURIO: Yes, exactly. WOODRUFF: Just the kind of thing we're looking for. Except we still want a name. And we will -- we won't give up until we have it.

MERCURIO: Judy Woodruff -- Judy Woodruff for vice president.

WOODRUFF: John Mercurio, OK. I don't think know. But thanks. And, you know, anytime you have anything, we're going to put it right on the air.

MERCURIO: OK.

WOODRUFF: John, thank you very much.

Well, another setback today for Ralph Nader's Independent presidential campaign. The Nader camp gave up its effort to get on the ballot in Arizona, conceding that it was about 550 signatures short of the number needed. Democrats had challenged the validity of thousands of signatures. A judge was preparing to hear the case today, when the Nader camp throwing in the towel, saying it didn't have the signatures or resources to wage a legal battle.

The Bush-Kerry race in Arizona may not be affected much. The most recent state poll gave the president a 12-point lead, with Nader getting just two percent of the vote. Meantime, Nader failed to meet yesterday's deadline to get on the ballot in Indiana, securing only about half of the 29,552 signatures that are needed.

In the showdown state of New Mexico, the Bush campaign is targeting Kerry and mocking his new biographical TV ad. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" looks at the dueling spots and whether they ring true.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stronger at home, respected in the world.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): John Kerry's new soft focus ad is designed to remind people, especially the millions who don't know much about him, that he's not just a senator in a suit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a husband and father, a pilot, a hunter, a hockey player.

KURTZ: But once we get past the hunting and hockey playing, viewers see this tough on terrorism line...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Author of a strategy to win the war on terror.

KURTZ: Hold on. There's a picture of Kerry's 1997 book, "The New War," which has a couple of references to terrorism but is mainly about global crime, from Colombian drug smugglers to Italian mobsters. It's about "what is going on in the international underworld," said The Boston Globe. To call this a blueprint for fighting terrorism is, well, a stretch. That provided an opening for the Bush campaign, which today began airing a counterattack spot that is part book review, part ridicule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry says he's author of a strategy to win the war on terror against the Japanese yakuza. He never mentions al Qaeda, says nothing about Osama bin Laden. Calls Yasser Arafat a statesman.

KURTZ: The Bush ad even cites the liberal New Republic as reporting months ago that Kerry's description of the book was awfully selective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can John Kerry win a war if he doesn't know the enemy?

KERRY: The decision is made to strike.

KURTZ: That's a bit of a stretch, too, since Kerry is a Foreign Relations Committee veteran who voted for the Iraq war. And the president's camp was unable to cite any statement about terrorism in 1997 by Bush, who was then busy running Texas.

(on camera): For the moment, both these ads are airing only in New Mexico, though they're expected to spread to other battleground states. The real showdown is over the war on terror, Kerry trying to bolster his credentials as a global crime-fighter. Bush using the senator's own words against him. At best, the controversy might help Kerry sell a few more copies on Amazon.

This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Many people around the world have been riveted to TV screens in the past 24 hours, watching images of Saddam Hussein in court. Up next, Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan take on Saddam and his possible influence on our presidential race.

Also ahead, top guns in the Bush and Kerry campaigns do battle over Iraq, the economy and more.

And find out how a slight of hand can make the "Play of the Week" appear.

With 123 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: It has been a full year since President Bush spoke those words of defiance to terrorist insurgents in Iraq. So, was it a case of be careful what you wish for, you may get it? Here to take issue, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Donna, what about this? I mean, a year ago, that's what George W. Bush said. This week, the Iraqis got their government, their country back, Saddam Hussein's going to be standing trial. That's all good news for the president, isn't it?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's good news, but we don't know how this is going to play out. Look, we have a long time between now and when the Iraqi citizens finally hold their election. We still have to stabilize the country, provide security, so that these insurgents and these militias, the guys and folks that have come on -- into the border of Iraq, we need to find ways to help the Iraqi citizens take control of their government, and perhaps we can have a joyful holiday season in the fall.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: This -- this is excellent news for the president. But it should have been expected. He's been talking about this, it's been his plan, it's been laid out, he's taken the -- these steps now. And I think the more you see Saddam Hussein talked about and on television, it's a reminder to Americans how awful he was, what he did to those people, and I think it makes more and more people go back to the position that maybe this was a good thing that the president did.

WOODRUFF: But Donna, your argument is it's just wait and see?

BRAZILE: It's wait and see, because, look, I don't think in the short term it will give anybody a necessary boost. Those militias -- the insurgents, they're emboldened. I mean, the entire Arab world today is basically questioning what's going on in Iraq.

Now, this is now a free society. We have given them the keys to the palace, so to speak. Let's see what happens. The most important objective for the American soldiers over there is that they provide security, and then -- then stability will come.

BUCHANAN: But we know what we're looking forward to next is elections. And we're bringing the U.N. in. There's a lot of activity, and the American people know that it's not going to be a smooth road, that there is going to be some problems along the road.

But what I think what they're looking for is to see that we were turning this over, that it was not going to be our responsibility for years and years, and that we start backing out. And I think this is what they can see. And if they can see that on Election Day and feel confident that this is slowly being transferred...

(CROSSTALK) BRAZILE: But wait until they find out, Bay, that we're still footing the bill, that we're still, you know, having our soldiers die. Wait till they figure out -- the American people are smart. They're going to figure out we're not "there" there yet.

We have to get there. And the only way we get there is to have more troops. That's what John Kerry has said. And that we bring in the people that can help us do the training so that the citizens feel confident that the lights will stay on, the water will flow. And them perhaps we'll see what happens.

BUCHANAN: There's -- you know, it's going to take time. We are going to train them. We've been training. We've got to train more. But you will not see more troops going on in Iraq. I do not believe you'll see that.

BRAZILE: Oh, well...

BUCHANAN: You will see people who are training.

BRAZILE: Well, you better check on the president, because he's trying to call back some troops to go over to help out.

BUCHANAN: Yes, but that's because of transfers.

BRAZILE: No.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk quickly about the economy. Job numbers came out today; 112-some thousand jobs were created, Donna. Growth, but not as much as some of the experts had predicted. Is this is a wash? Is the president helped or hurt by this?

BRAZILE: Well, look, I mean, for those Americans whoa re still looking for work, they're still waiting for the president's magic to work so that they can find jobs. One hundred and eighty-five thousand jobs short of their expectations. We need a new recipe, so to speak, to get this economy churning.

Look, I was just showing Bay some numbers. Seventy-seven percent of African-American teens are unemployed. Sixty-eight percent of Latinos. That is a recipe for disaster for the future of our country. Sixty percent of all teens.

So I don't know when the magic wand will work. But we know now that it's not working.

BUCHANAN: You know, it's -- things are going in the right direction, there's no question. There were jobs created. It was not as good as expected, there's no question about that. But we're moving in the right direction.

And if you want to talk politics, the key here is, do people feel, as we take that turn into September, that their communities are a little more prosperous, it's going in the right direction? Do they feel a little more secure about their own family situation and businesses coming into their neighborhoods? If they do, George Bush will benefit. There's just no question about that. It takes time, but the direction is what's key, not what happens on -- on every fourth Friday.

BRAZILE: I like that. Check your wallet. If you check your wallet, you'll know that you've been robbed. You've been robbed of having a paycheck to help you make ends meet.

BUCHANAN: But, you know...

BRAZILE: You've been robbed of your retirement security. So if that's the -- if that's the bottom line, Bay, then George Bush is in trouble.

BUCHANAN: You know...

WOODRUFF: But what about Bay's point, that people must be feeling that things are getting better compared to where they were?

BRAZILE: Well, look, the 5.6 percent, that's been the unemployment figure now for several months. So the jobs are coming, they're coming along. But we're still losing manufacturing jobs, we're still not creating jobs that will give people the type of stability they need. So there's a concern that this -- this economic recovery is slow on the take, and who knows how long it will last.

BUCHANAN: Where the president should be worried is -- is the Midwest and the rural South. You know, as those manufacturing jobs continue to go down again, and he has troubles in key states, that's where he has to look for. And that's where I think those numbers indicate there could be a problem.

BRAZILE: And let's not forget our urban centers. I mean, we -- we have to find jobs for our young people. Children's Defense Fund says this is a critical issue, and I agree with them.

BUCHANAN: And Kerry has no better policies than George Bush on any of these issues.

BRAZILE: But he has a plan, and that's something...

BUCHANAN: A plan.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: ... that the administration is lacking. Happy Fourth of July, Bay.

WOODRUFF: And the president himself today said that job base is changing. And I think we all agree on that. Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, thank you both.

BRAZILE: Thank you. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Happy Fourth of July weekend.

BRAZILE: Same to you, Judy.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right. See you next week.

Well, June 30 was supposed to be the big day in Iraq this week. But it didn't quite work out that way. Up next, Bill Schneider joins me to explain what he sees as award-winning performance in U.S. diplomacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider is with me now from Los Angeles to tell us why good timing is important, especially in politics -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, remember last Thanksgiving, when President Bush faked out the press with a surprise visit to Baghdad? Well, this week, the administration did it again. But the "Play of the Week" doesn't go the guy who showed up, it goes to the guy who left.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It was the great fake out.

BUSH: Earlier today, 15 months after the liberation of Iraq and two days ahead of schedule, the world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraqi government.

SCHNEIDER: Who ever heard of a government project getting done ahead of schedule? Who was running that show? This guy, Paul Bremer, III.

PAUL BREMER, FMR. U.S. CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope.

SCHNEIDER: Why did it happen two days ahead of schedule?

ADAM ERELI, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPT.: There was a security consideration. If they can take over and they can move to -- to intercept and otherwise disrupt those who are bent on disrupting or those who are bent on attacking the transfer of sovereignty, then that's one more blow against the terrorists.

SCHNEIDER: But remember, occupied Iraq was a dictatorship. Not him, him. The U.N. envoy said know.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money, he has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country.

SCHNEIDER: Bremer moved up the transition date to make a point that Iraq was under control. Some observers got exactly the opposite message. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impression you created today, that you couldn't hand over the burden of Iraqi quickly enough, and the way it's done is proof, is a symbol, if you like, of a shambles...

SCHNEIDER: Cut and run, or stay and fight?

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And we're not walking out of this at all. We stay and support them.

SCHNEIDER: The early transition ushered in a week of good news from Iraq, culminating in Saddam Hussein's first day in court. Bremer made his point.

BREMER: Iraq is a much better place. It was absolutely worth it.

SCHNEIDER: A swift signature, a kiss, a tear, and Bremer was out of there, taking with him the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Bremer left something in Iraq, too, a long list of edicts and appointments aimed at sustaining U.S. influence over the new regime, like a requirement that one out of every three candidates on a party's election slate has to be a woman. But the new Iraqi government is supposed to be sovereign. So we'll see how many of those orders are disregarded -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Yes, we shall. All right. Bill Schneider, "Political Play of the Week."

There were some diplomatic maneuvers of a different kind this morning involving Secretary of State Colin Powell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Yes, that is the secretary, performing a modified version of "YMCA," by The Village People, at the conclusion of the Southeast Asian security conference in Indonesia. We're told it's a tradition at this event for participants to take the stage and perform in front of their peers. I bet they're glad those cameras were there.

Well, it is a working holiday for the nation's politicians. Coming up, John Kerry farms for votes in America's rural heartland.

Also ahead, we remember an actor who sometimes dabbled in political issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: From the campaign trail...

KERRY: We have a million and a half jobs lost, and I don't believe that's the best that we can do.

ANNOUNCER: ... to the White House.

BUSH: It's been a difficult period of time, and yet we're strong, we're getting stronger.

ANNOUNCER: The guessing game: speculation on who John Kerry will pick as his running mate heats up. Stick around for more "Ticket Talk."

Are we going back to the future in the Sunshine State?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went ahead and removed me. It's like guilty until proved innocent.

ANNOUNCER: Are thousands of Florida residents wrongly barred from voting this November?

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Voters may not see John Kerry as an open roads, backyard barbecue, heartland kind of guy. But the Massachusetts Democrat isn't letting his urbane image stop him from reaching out to rural voters who by and large backed George W. Bush four years ago.

Kerry's holiday weekend bus tour is taking him into smaller corners of three battleground states. Places such as Bloomer, Wisconsin; Cascade, Iowa. And today, Cloquet, Minnesota. Among other Kerry knows many people in Smalltown, America still are smarting from job losses. He was quick to cite today's job employment report as evidence of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I don't know how many of you saw the job release just this past month, 112,000 jobs created. Less, again, than the 150,000 they promised. Less than the 250,000 that they produced before which was beginning to inch up. But we lost 45,000 jobs so it's a net 67,000 jobs.

Don't tell the people getting those second-rate jobs, don't tell the people working two or three jobs at a time that we can't do better. We have a million and a half jobs lost and I don't believe that that's best that we can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: You can look for Vice President Cheney to try to counter Kerry's heartland appeal tomorrow when Cheney begins a two-day bus tour through Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Well as for President Bush, he preempted Kerry's jobs pitch in Minnesota with his own rosy take on employment numbers. Let's check in now with Elaine Quijano. She is at the White House. Hello, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy. Steady and strong, that is how President Bush says that he sees the economy even after these latest job numbers which fell short of what some economists had predicted.

The president maintains that thanks to his administration's policies that the overall economic picture is still encouraging even though today's Labor Department figures amount to less than half of what analysts had forecast.

Now White House officials say the unemployment rate is holding steady at 5.6 percent. That is below the average of the 1970s, '80s and '90s. And president Bush said there has been consistent growth, not a boom or bust cycle. And he points to 10 consecutive months of job growth with 1.5 million new jobs created.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: To me that shows the steady growth. It's one thing to reporting, you know, the GDP numbers are up. It's another thing to be able to say more Americans are working.

And that's what we want. We want people going to work. We want people to be able to come home and say, boy, how was work? It was great. I enjoy working.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now President Bush today also repeated a call on -- to Congress to help strengthen the nation's economy. He would like to see tax cuts made permanent. He'd also like to see a national energy policy adopted. And also an end to what the administration calls frivolous lawsuits.

But, Judy, the bottom line on these latest job numbers, here at the White House, officials say, the economic glass is very much half full -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK, Elaine, thank you very much.

As we head into the holiday weekend, political observers are likely to be spicing up their picnics and parades with speculation about John Kerry's upcoming vice presidential announcement. Let's talk now to two journalists who are deep into "Ticket Talk," as we like to call it. "Washington Post" senior political reporter Dan Balz and "TIME" magazine White House correspondent Jay Carney. Gentlemen, good to see both of you.

Dan, Let me start with you. Who's it going to be?

DAN BALZ, "WASHINGTON POST": Judy, who's it going to be? I'm as confused as everybody else. I think we're all reading the same tea leaves and trying to come to the conclusions. And one day it looks like somebody, one day it looks like somebody else.

And so, you know, this is always the hardest story to handicap. Tons of speculation. I think campaigns sometimes lead us on wild goose chases, perhaps. In the end, it's such a personal decision that you have to be a mind reader to decide who the nominee is going to pick. And I've been wrong so often that I hesitate to say who I think it might be.

WOODRUFF: Same here, same here. Such a personal decision. It does tell us a lot about the nominee himself.

Jay, is there really a short list as we keep hearing there is?

JAY CARNEY, "TIME": Well there is at least an official or unofficial short list which includes John Kerry (sic), senator of North Carolina.

WOODRUFF: John Edwards.

CARNEY: I mean, I'm sorry, John Edwards, senator of North Carolina. Richard Gephardt, Congressman of Missouri. And Tom Vilsack, I would say, fills out that top tier. He's the governor of Iowa.

Beyond that, there are a whole host of names. Bob Graham, senator from Florida. Evan Bayh, senator from Indiana. And, you know, how they fit into the tiers of possibility, it's really only John Kerry knows.

WOODRUFF: Dan, what about the pluses and the minuses? Let's talk about the pluses. I mean if it's a Dick Gephardt, what does that bring John Kerry?

BALZ: Well it brings tremendous experience, it brings somebody who is probably instantly creditable as someone who could be president given his time as a House Democratic leader, the fact that he's run for president. It gives him somebody that I think there's probably a certain comfort level between the two men.

They were not best of pals over the years when they served in the Congress together. But during the campaign, I think they developed a bond that seems to be real.

So with Gephardt, you would get that. You would also get somebody who has Midwestern roots, who might help in Missouri a very crucial state that President Bush won four years ago. Because of Congressman Gephardt's support among labor unions, particularly the industrial unions, that could help in other Midwestern battleground states.

WOODRUFF: Jay, what about Tom Vilsack? What does he bring?

(CROSSTALK) CARNEY: I would say the appeal of Tom Vilsack -- there are two things that are appealing about Vilsack. One, he's from Iowa. Very popular there. He would secure that state, likely, for John Kerry which Al Gore won by the narrowest of margins in 2000. And he has also broader appeal in that crucial region in the Midwest.

The second thing is that he's something of a surprising choice. And one thing we learned from Bill Clinton's pick of Al Gore in 1992, Al Gore's pick of Joe Lieberman in 2000, and even to some degree, George Bush's pick of Dick Cheney in 2000 is that the media responds to a surprise pick. You get a lot of momentum and attention by pick someone that not everyone thought was even on the list.

And Vilsack's on the list, but he would be a surprise. If you pick a Dick Gephardt, there's the risk that he's written off very quickly because he's such a known quantity here in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Is there that much benefit, Dan, in going with someone who's not so well-known nationally like a Vilsack?

BALZ: Well there's a benefit and there's a risk. Jay's absolutely right that there's always something about a surprise element that at least in the short run fascinates the press and probably creates a little bit more aura about the nominee having done something somewhat unexpected.

The risk, of course, is a person who is not experienced in national politics. Certainly Governor Vilsack is experienced in Democratic Party politics nationally. He's the chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association.

But an unknown pick brings you unknowns. And that's one of the risks of picking somebody who is not as seasoned or not as well-known as some of the others.

WOODRUFF: Quickly I want to ask both of you, about John Edwards. What does John Edwards bring John Kerry?

CARNEY: Well he brings a national name because of his run for the presidency in this past primary cycle. Even though he didn't win many states, he did compete well with Kerry and conducted himself in a way that he didn't harm his chances at becoming the vice president. He ran a positive campaign, that's very appealing.

He also brings great skills from his trial lawyer days. He speaks well, he's probably the best speaker the Democrats have right now -- after Bill Clinton. And while he probably can't deliver any particular southern state, he brings regional appeal with his southern accent.

WOODRUFF: What would you add to that, Dan? Quickly.

BALZ: Well I would add only that I think there is a certain excitement level about Edwards out in the party. Having talked to people in the last few days about this, even people who like Dick Gephardt very much say there's an excitement about John Edwards, that he might add to the ticket. So that's another element.

WOODRUFF: Last thing I want to ask both of you. Dick Cheney. Dan, is he going to remain on the ticket with the president?

BALZ: Judy, I don't know. He's certainly more of a liability today than he once was. President Bush is tremendously loyal to the people around him and the people who serve him. It would be a huge step on his part not to have Cheney back as a member of the ticket.

WOODRUFF: Jay, what do you hear?

CARNEY: I'd be shocked if Bush were to jettison Cheney, because of the loyal and also because it would look like they were pushing the panic button at the White House. To dump Cheney would cause a rash of stories about how panicked they are about losing this election. And I think it's highly unlikely.

WOODRUFF: OK, we are going to leave it there. If anybody knows what's going on, these two gentlemen do. Jay Carney, Dan Balz, good to see both of you, we appreciate it. Thank you.

And now, checking the Friday headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," John Kerry wants the Boston Pops to perform a free public concert during convention week as a way of saying thank you to the people of his home city. The idea is meeting some resistance, however, because it would mean hundreds of thousands of more people in an already crowded downtown. State police and city officials are reviewing the concert request.

A new survey appears to have found something voters dislike even more than higher taxes. Traffic. A poll taken for the Associated Press finds that 56 percent of respondents say they would be willing to paying higher taxes if the taxes would mean significant improvement in roads and public transportation. 43 percent say they would oppose the idea.

The survey also found that about 90 percent of Americans drive themselves to work. Overall, about one in 20 take mass transit, although that numbers rises to one in eight in the northeast.

From Iraq to the economy, there are plenty of areas of disagreement for the presidential campaigns. Up next, two Bush and Kerry camp insiders go head to head over the race and the issues. I'll talk to Bush strategist Matthew Dowd and Kerry political director Steve Elmendorf.

Plus, could it happen again? We'll explain why a sense of deja vu is building for some voters in Florida.

And later, he often played rebels with a cause. We'll remember Marlon Brando.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As John Kerry reminded voters in Minnesota today, July 2 means there are just four months to go until the November 2 presidential election. It is getting closer than you think. What better people to talk to on the weekend of the Fourth of July than two people who know the inside of these campaigns. Kerry's campaign political director, Steve Elmendorf, and Bush campaign '04 chief strategist, Matthew Dowd.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you. We thank you for coming by.

Steve Elmendorf, to you first. The economy didn't create as many jobs last month as was expected but still, it's up. Saddam Hussein is about to go on trial in Iraq. Things are looking pretty good for President Bush, aren't they?

STEVE ELMENDORF, KERRY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I don't think things are looking pretty good. I think the American people still have real questions about his leadership. I think that the economy is still not growing as much as it should. He still lost 1.8 million jobs, the greatest job loss since Herbert Hoover as president.

So I think the American people, if you look at all the recent polls, don't think the country's going in a very positive direction. This is why they are interested in John Kerry's leadership.

WOODRUFF: And that's your take as well, isn't it?

MATTHEW DOWD, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: We've had ten straight months of job creation. We've had over a million jobs created in the last four months. The Kerry campaign and John Kerry sound like that guy that won the lottery and then complains he had to pay taxes. I mean, this is just a situation where we have a lot of good news, a ton of good news, it's not as good as we would like and it's obviously better than they want but it is a good direction and we'll continue to see it head that way.

WOODRUFF: So how does John Kerry counter that?

ELMENDORF: Well, I think as you see, John Kerry is out in the heartland of America for the next three days on a bus talking to people about their concerns, making his case for the issues that he's going to talk about and we're getting a very positive response. Just four months to the election, there are going to be up months, down months, up weeks, down weeks. But we feel very good about where they're at.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd, I know you never look at the polls, of course, but the "New York Times"/CBS poll out this week shows 45 percent of the people do think the president's policies have decreased jobs in America, only about a quarter of the people say they have increased jobs. People really do know what's going on with this economy, don't they?

DOWD: Yes, they do. You can see it in the consumer confidence numbers and the conference board numbers and all of those are at all- time highs over the last four years. And we're at the same level that Clinton was at in 1996. It's interesting to me that people talk about the Bush economy this time. It's exactly the same place it was with Bill Clinton in 1996. Same unemployment rate, same job creation rate, same customer confidence, a higher rate of homeownership, a lower inflation rate.

So I don't think if they're arguing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that type of the Bush economy or the Clinton economy?

WOODRUFF: Which is it?

ELMENDORF: Well, the Clinton economy created 22 million new jobs and the Bush economy have lost 1.8 million jobs. I think that's a pretty stark difference.

WOODRUFF: Steve, let me pick up on this. When you look at the fact that the president, you know, you've got the negatives of the economy starting to turn around, you've got -- but, still, there's unhappiness, to a degree, as you're pointing out over Iraq, the polls still show this race is a dead heat. Why isn't John Kerry doing better when the president has had some of the difficulties he's had in recent months?

ELMENDORF: He is the incumbent president. He is very popular obviously in the post-9/11 period. I think it's pretty amazing that John Kerry is as close as he is. No incumbent has been where George Bush is, currently in terms of job approval, and gone on to win the election.

So again, there's a long way to go. We take nothing for granted. But we feel very good about the fact that it's as close as it is.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about another number, Matt Dowd and that is from the "New York Times"/CBS poll. Fifty-one percent of Americans say this president has divided Americans. Less than a third think it has brought Americans together. How do you account for that?

DOWD: I think this country has gone through a lot of difficulties and a lot of challenges on some major issues, the war on terror, what happened with 9/11, and our economy is going through a transition so there's real concerns by the public. But I think that in time after time, when you ask who they trust more to deal with these important issues, the president does better than John Kerry. That's the reason why this race is tied. And even though we started up behind in March, and they have outspent us, between the Kerry campaign and the 527s, by over $25 million which people forget. They've outspent us by 2 to 1 over the last month. It is a dead even race and that's just where I thought it would be.

WOODRUFF: Steve Elmendorf, a lot I want to ask you but let me ask about the fact that -- ABC, give them credit, reported today that the Kerry campaign has hired an outside pollster to do a poll on the vice-presidential hopefuls. Now the RNC, our friend, Ed Gillespie, who's the chairman of the RNC, put out a statement saying, "to John Kerry, the most important criteria for a vice president is not experience but polling numbers. Once again we see politics over principle.

ELMENDORF: I have no idea if that is an accurate report. The vice presidential process...

WOODRUFF: You're part of the campaign, you would know, wouldn't you?

ELMENDORF: ...is being done completely privately. John Kerry's not going to make this decision based on polls. He's going to make this decision based on who he thinks would be the person to be president if something were to happen to him once he's elected.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd, there was no polling done on Dick Cheney back in 2000?

DOWD: Not a poll. Not a poll. The president wanted to pick somebody that could serve in the office of president. That was the first and foremost option. I just find it very interesting. I don't know anything about their vice-presidential pick. The only thing I do know is that whoever gets picked is the second choice. Because as we've learned, John McCain was their -- they had to find a Republican as their first choice who obviously turned them down and he's now campaigning with the president.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to that?

ELMENDORF: Whoever we pick will be more popular than Dick Cheney.

WOODRUFF: All right. Just quickly, this ad that you are running where you talk about John Kerry's record. The Bush campaign has come back and said John Kerry's distorting his own record. He hasn't been out there early on terrorism as he says he has.

ELMENDORF: You know this is another example of the Bush negative machine. They've run $83 million worth of negative advertising attacking John Kerry. They have nothing positive to say. We put up a positive ad talking about John Kerry's record, talking about his positive vision for America and they respond immediately with another attack ad. That's not accurate. George Bush didn't have a cabinet meeting about terrorism before 9/11. And he's criticizing John Kerry for writing a book about international terrorism.

DOWD: The interesting thing to me is nobody's criticized the ad that we put on the air as inaccurate. John Kerry wrote a book, didn't mention Osama bin Laden, mentioned the Taliban once, and didn't mention al Qaeda. The only thing he talked about was international crime primarily in this book. So he talked...

WOODRUFF: That was 1997. Al Qaeda was how old?

DOWD: Osama bin Laden, when John Kerry wrote this book, Osama bin Laden, in a number of instances already had mentioned what he wanted to do against the United States, when he wrote this book. He talks about global crime, we're talking about terrorism.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there, mid-sentence. Matthew Dowd, Steve Elmendorf, thank you, both. Hope we see you both again soon. Maybe we'll know who the vice-presidential nominee will be at that point.

All right. Every vote matters, we know, in the showdown state of Florida. Up next, the latest polls show Bush and Kerry in a dead heat. Now a list of ineligible Florida voters appears to contain a lot of names that shouldn't be there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we told you yesterday, a Florida judge ordered state officials there to give CNN and other media organizations a list of almost 50,000 suspected felons. The list was created to determine who will be eligible to vote in November. And it appears it contains a number of mistakes. CNN's Susan Candiotti has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went ahead and removed me. It's like guilty until proved innocent.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Darren Jones (ph) was stunned when he opened a letter last month from the Miami- Dade elections office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court system has notified the elections department of your recent felony conviction which is not true.

CANDIOTTI: True, Jones is a convicted felon who served six months of house arrest but that was in 1988.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I know this couldn't be right.

CANDIOTTI: Like all Florida felons are required to do, Jones applied for and got his voting rights back in 2003. And he says he proudly used his card to cast a vote in last spring's Democratic primary. Dade elections officials admit they goofed this time but can't explain it.

What happened to Darren Jones is happening to others. CNN successfully sued Florida election officials to get a list, and this is just a part of it, of 47,000 suspected felons who could be dumped from voter roles and like the case of Darren Jones, we found mistake after mistake.

At 22, Sam Heyward was convicted of buying stolen furniture. In 1986, he won back his voting rights and says he hasn't missed an election only to discover he's on the new suspected felons list.

SAM HEYWARD, VOTER: To find out that my name was still on the list and then they said it may have some effect on your voting privileges. I'm like well, I don't see how. I've been voting for the last 15 years.

CANDIOTTI: The "Miami Herald" reports that it documented more than 2,100 errors on the massive list. Of the 47,000 named, 39 percent reportedly are black Democrats, 20 percent are white Democrats, 16 percent white Republicans. With only about four months to go before the presidential election, 67 county supervisors now find themselves under orders from the Capitol to confirm the new so-called suspected felons list. Few, if any, are happy about it. JON SANCHO, LEON COUNTY ELECTION SUPERVISOR: As an elections official, asking me to conduct criminal background checks and spend most of my time in the criminal justice system would be analogous to asking doctors to do tax returns. This is simply not our job.

CANDIOTTI: A spokesman for Governor Jeb Bush says the list is only a tool and insists election officials will have enough time to check each name before the next election. The NAACP and ACLU settled a lawsuit against Florida two years ago. It called for improving the state's voter database.

HOWARD SIMON, FLORIDA ACLU: If state officials placed an eligible voter on the list of people to be purged, that is negligence on the part of state officials.

CANDIOTTI: For Darren Jones and others the mix-ups make them wonder what will happen in November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to happen again. Trust me, it's going to happen again.

CANDIOTTI: Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: A Hollywood legend has passed away. In a minute, we'll look back on Marlon Brando, actor and occasional political activist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It seems Marlon Brando never played a president or a congressman in any of his movie, but the legendary actor who died last night at the age of 80 had some of his most powerful moments onscreen playing men who rebelled against the powers that be, from Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar to Colonel Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now."

Perhaps Brando's most famous act of rebellion came in real life in 1973 when he refused to accept the best actor Oscar for "The Godfather." He sent a Native-American woman to the ceremony in his place to make a political statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what Marlon Brando has in his heart is that the image of Native Americans, in this country of the United States, should be changed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: More memories of Marlon Brando, the man and his roles tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Friday. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a good weekend. Be sure and tune in this weekend for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Kerry communications director Stephanie Cutter will join our Kelly Wallace to talk about the veep stakes. That's Sunday morning 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 7:00 a.m. Pacific here on CNN. That's it for me. Have a great and a safe holiday weekend. Again, "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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