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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Gauging the Edwards Bounce; Courting Hispanic Voters

Aired July 12, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the first time I've appeared anywhere without John Edwards in the last four days. I'm feeling this withdrawal, you know?

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry back on the trail without his new running mate. But is John Edwards giving the Democratic duo a bounce? We've got new poll numbers out this hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Su nombre es John Kerry.

ANNOUNCER: Pitch for Latino voters: will a massive new ad campaign help John Kerry and John Edwards connect with Spanish- speaking voters?

MAYOR JOHN STREET (D), PHILADELPHIA: I think it's very unfortunate that President Bush chose to ignore this convention.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush declines an invitation to speak to the NAACP convention. Will the move anger black voters into action?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

It seems John Kerry still can't say enough good things about John Edwards nearly a week after they became a political pair. But are voters along for the honeymoon? Our new poll out this hour shows Senator Kerry now leading President Bush by four points in a head-to- head match-up. Bush had a one-point advantage last month before Edwards joined the Democratic ticket. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is gauging the Edwards' bounce.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: How big a bounce? For that, a poll of polls. Before, the race was a dead heat in the June polls. Then, last Tuesday...

KERRY: I am pleased to announce that with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.

(APPLAUSE)

SCHNEIDER: And after, Kerry-Edwards leads Bush-Cheney by an average of 50 to 46 percent. Looks like Kerry got a three-point bounce.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Kerry-Edwards, it's got a winning ring to it.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe the Democrat's lead is not statistically significant in any single poll. But the fact that Kerry and Edwards are ahead in four polls suggests there was a bounce. Who bounced? Listen to what they're saying about Edwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's being described today as "charming," "engaging," a "nimble campaigner," a "populist" and even "sexy."

SCHNEIDER: Well, women seem to be impressed. The Democratic ticket got a four-point bounce among women, just one point among men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Edwards is a fantastic addition to this ticket.

SCHNEIDER: Well, young people certainly think so. The Democratic ticket gained a whopping 10 points among voters under 50. The Democrats actually lost ground among older voters. Maybe they're listening to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does he stack up against Dick Cheney?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dick Cheney can be president.

SCHNEIDER: Is John Edwards' accent turning southern voters on? No sign of a bounce for the Democrats in the South. Edwards advertises his small town origins, and sure enough the Democrats seem to have picked up support among rural voters. Republicans say Edwards adds geographical but not philosophical balance to the Democratic ticket.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: There's no ideological balance. I think he's the fourth most liberal person to the left of Senator Kennedy and to the left of Senator Clinton.

SCHNEIDER: Sure enough, conservatives are not impressed. No bounce on the right. But there was on the left, and in the middle, where the swing voters are.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: By naming Edwards to the ticket early, Democrats are looking for a month-long bounce right through the Democratic convention. And then, in August, Republicans will get the ball -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, looking at all the polls for us. Thanks. Well, Kerry and Edwards have parted company on the campaign trail. The top of the ticket Democrat has several events on his home turf in Boston today. Once again, he repeatedly spoke of values to promote opportunity for all Americans and to blast the current commander in chief.

Meantime, John Edwards is back in Washington today. Although he had no public events scheduled, he wound up visiting the campaign's D.C. headquarters for the first time today, getting the VIP treatment from some cheering staffers.

In different ways and in different places, President Bush and Vice President Cheney spent time today defending the invasion of Iraq. The president traveled to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to visit the nuclear weapons lab there and to give a speech on Iraq and the broader war on terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: In Pennsylvania, Vice President Cheney tried to turn the tables on Democratic critics of the Iraq war and accused John Edwards and John Kerry of having a convenient case of campaign amnesia about their Senate votes for the invasion.

Both the Bush and Kerry camps have been going out of their way to court Latinos, a fast-growing but politically-diverse segment of voters. Today, the Kerry camp is launching what it calls the largest Spanish language ad buy in presidential campaign history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Su nombre es John Kerry.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): This new ad touts John Kerry as a man of faith, family and honor. It's part of a $1 million multimedia ad buy, targeting Hispanic voters in 10 competitive states.

KERRY: I am committed to celebrating immigration.

WOODRUFF: The Kerry camp is trying to enhance its Latino advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love Kerry!

WOODRUFF: A recent Gallup poll shows Senator Kerry 17 points ahead of President Bush among registered Hispanic voters in a three- way contest, including Ralph Nader. A sizable lead, but its 10 points less than Al Gore's Latino vote in the 2000 election. Bush's 35 percent then was considered an impressive performance for a Republican. And he appears to be holding on to that support. Still, more than half of Hispanic voters disapprove of the way the president is handling his job, a less upbeat rating than Bush gets from whites, but not as negative as the marks he gets from African- Americans.

BUSH: We share the same goal. We will keep working to make this nation a welcoming place for Hispanic people.

WOODRUFF: The Hispanic voters who stand to influence the race the most are those in battleground states, such as Florida. Bush narrowly won Florida in 2000 with the help of conservative Cuban voters. Some analysts believe the political dynamic may be shifting in Florida as other groups of Hispanics flood into the state, including Puerto Ricans, who tend to lean Democratic.

TOM FIEDLER, "MIAMI HERALD": There are obviously some demographic shifts that are going on that the parties are attempting to take advantage of. I think a big one that the Democrats would hope will work in their favor is the continued growth of Hispanic voters around the Orlando area, central Florida.

WOODRUFF: The Bush camp also is eager for a repeat win in Arizona, another state with a growing Latino population. The most recent Arizona poll shows Bush's lead over Kerry has narrowed to three points. Our Bob Novak reports Arizona Senator John McCain has told colleagues he's worried about Bush's prospects in his home state.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: For its part, the Bush camp says Kerry is launching his new Spanish language ad buy "from a position of weakness." But the Bush team is airing its own new Hispanic radio spots and spending more than a million dollars on its campaign to target Hispanics.

The president's relationship with African-American leaders is getting more tense and complicated. NAACP chairman Julian Bond is urging members to register voters who will work for regime change, as he put it. In other words, the ouster of Bush. As our Bruce Morton explains, Bush seems to have added insult to injury by deciding not to appear at the civil rights group's annual convention.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The NAACP, 95 years old, is meeting in Philadelphia. President Bush campaigns in Pennsylvania often, including last week, but he won't speak to the civil rights group. He did in 2000 when he was running, but hasn't as president. NAACP president, Kweisi Mfume, says he wrote asking for meetings in 2101 '02, and '03, but...

KWEISI MFUME, PRESIDENT, NAACP: The president never wrote me back. I always got a letter from someone else in the White House stating that his schedule did not permit such meeting, and they would get back to me, essentially. And he never did. MORTON: President Bush in Pennsylvania last week told reporters his relationship with the present NAACP leadership is basically non- existent. Adding, "You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me."

MFUME: If the president's new mantle and measurement for dialogue is to only talk and only meet with those individuals or organizations that agree with him, then we are getting closer to the previous regime in Baghdad than we are to a democracy here in America, where nations around the world expect us to be different from everyone else.

MORTON: But there they be a simple political reason for Mr. Bush's non-appearance. Blacks are and have been for years the most constant, loyal element in the coalition that is the Democratic Party.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: About eight in 10 blacks tell us right now that they are likely to vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Only about one in 10 blacks say that they're likely to vote for the Bush-Cheney ticket right now.

That's very much in keeping with what we've seen in previous elections. Typically, Democrats at the presidential level, Senate level, gubernatorial races win 80 to 90 percent of the black vote, and that's been going on for several decades.

MORTON: So will the Democratic candidate talk to the NAACP? You bet.

KERRY: My friends, I will be a president who meets with the leadership of the civil rights congress, who meets with the NAACP.

MORTON: He'll speak to them on Thursday.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Blacks and Latinos are important voting groups in the showdown state of Florida. Up next, we'll get the lay of the land from the state party chair.

Also ahead, new moves to put House Majority Leader Tom DeLay under the Ethics Committee's microscope.

And later, the gay marriage debate creates new sparks on Capitol Hill and in the presidential race.

With 113 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Given his controversial role in the 2000 election, and its status as the biggest electoral prize among the showdown states, Florida is expected to be one of the toughest presidential battlegrounds in the months ahead. I spoke recently with Florida's two state party chairs, Democrat Scott Maddox and Republican Carole Jean Jordan. I started by asking Maddox about John Kerry's decision to choose John Edwards as his running mate instead of one of Florida's two Democratic senators.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MADDOX, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: Well, we love our senators here, Senator Bill Nelson and Bob Graham. They both have a lifetime of service to the state. But they are absolutely committed to the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

John Edwards is going to help a lot in Florida. His southern roots will help in north Florida, and his enthusiasm and exuberance will help him in southeast Florida as well. I think he's going to do a great job, and we're all behind him.

WOODRUFF: Carole Jean Jordan, now that John Kerry has picked his running mate, more questions about whether President Bush is going to stick with Dick Cheney. Is Dick Cheney still an asset for him in Florida?

CAROLE JEAN JORDAN, FLORIDA GOP CHAIRWOMAN: Absolutely. Dick -- Dick Cheney is available to be president of the United States and totally qualified. And I'm absolutely amazed, Judy, at the choice of Edwards. I really question what he brings to the ticket. You have the first and the fourth most liberal Democrats in the United States Senate now as a team.

WOODRUFF: Scott?

MADDOX: Well, you know, it's sad that here we are in 2004, and the only response we can get from the Republican Party is name- calling. This time, they can't elect their person just by calling the other person "liberal."

They're going to have to answer for why we're in Iraq with a war that the Senate Intelligence Committee came out today and said we -- if they had known then what they know now, they would not have voted with the president. And his administration has given incompetent information.

They're going to have to talk about why we keep losing jobs in America. They're going to have to talk about why health care is not available in this country. They can't just call the other side names. It's not going to work in 2004.

WOODRUFF: Carole, do you...

JORDAN: Judy, liberal -- Judy, liberal...

WOODRUFF: Let me just ask you about that Senate Intelligence Committee report, because it's a...

JORDAN: Let's do talk about -- let's go and talk about liberal first, though. Liberal is a voting record. Liberal is a voting record where someone votes.

Both Kerry and Edwards voted against the Laci Peterson Act. That means when a woman who is pregnant with a child is murdered, they don't believe that two people are murdered. That's liberal. First and fourth most liberal senators in the United States Senate.

WOODRUFF: Scott Maddox?

MADDOX: Listen, if it's liberal to say that you won't go to war unless you know for sure that we are in danger here in America, if it's liberal to say that you want a good economy with more jobs in America, then I guess Carole Jean can call them liberal, or the Republican Party can. But we've got a president who gave us the largest deficit, outside of foreign policy, outside of the domestic issues that haven't been addressed. This president gave us the largest deficit in the history of the nation.

I don't see how he can be called a conservative, certainly not a fiscal conservative. But instead of calling names and labels, what we ought to talk about is what these two teams will do for America.

WOODRUFF: Carole Jean Jordan, very quickly, on this Senate intelligence report, is the president hurt by this finding that the decision to war was based on false and misleading, overstated analysis?

JORDAN: I think that -- to say is he hurt, certainly, people are personally hurt by that. But the answer is, we obviously had flawed intelligence, and we had a huge downsizing of funding for the CIA and the intelligence community across the world over the past 10 years. Let's put the blame where the blame lies, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Let's quickly...

JORDAN: Let's look at Kerry and Edwards, that voted for us to go to war and then a few months later voted against supplies, food, body armor for our soldiers.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you both a question about Florida before we have to leave it. And that is, what is the vote in the state of Florida going to turn on, Scott Maddox?

MADDOX: Well, Judy, I think that Iraq is a big part of it. I don't know what you tell the families of soldiers, airmen, Marines, Navy personnel, who have lost limb and life, and now they found out they lost it because of incompetence of this administration. I think that's going to be a key issue.

Jobs and outsourcing are also key issues in the state of Florida, as well as health care. But the overriding issue is going to be the fact that we went to war unilaterally because of bad intelligence under this administration.

WOODRUFF: Carole Jean Jordan, what's the vote going to turn on in your state? JORDAN: Let's -- let's talk about the compassion of both Governor Bush and President Bush and the state of the economy in Florida. Because of the changes both have made, we've had 28 months of job growth, we have low unemployment, we have seniors that are getting health care, we have fourth graders that are number four in the nation in education in reading.

This is what the president cares about, this is what Governor Bush cares about. And this is what the voters are going to care about. Certainly, they care about soldiers -- soldiers lost and the terror that we've had to endure. But we've taken that terror off the shores of America to Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: The two Florida state party chairs, Carole Jean Jordan and Scott Maddox.

Well, checking the headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily," anti-Bush political groups, as we've reported, have helped to close the fundraising gap between candidates Bush and Kerry.

And TV ads by those outside groups are flooding the nation's airwaves. According to CNN's ad consultant, TNS Media Intelligence, Kerry campaign ads have shown -- have been shown more than 80,000 times since early March. Anti-Bush ads by outside groups have aired more than 58,000 times. Their combined total far outpaces the Bush- Cheney campaigns, whose ads have run about 77,000 times, with just a few hundred ad buys by outside groups.

A new survey examines how the news media appear to be shaping the public images of George Bush and John Kerry. The study is by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, along with the Pew Research Center and the University of Missouri. It finds that news outlets most often portray the president as "stubborn and arrogant," and as someone who "lacks credibility." On the positive side, Bush is also portrayed as a strong and decisive leader.

As for Kerry, the common media themes are that he flip-flops on the issues, and that he is "very liberal." Positive coverage of Kerry usually portrays him as "a tough guy who doesn't back down."

The Homeland Security Department confirms that officials have discussed the idea of postponing the election in the event of a terrorist attack. But the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee tells CNN the idea is "excessive," and she criticized last week's announcement al Qaeda might try to disrupt the November elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the Ridge press conference was a bust. He sounded more like an interior decorator talking about what more we can do under the shade of yellow. I think the color-coded system should be junked. And if we're going to have national news conferences, we should be giving specific guidance to people about what to look for and what to do, and that wasn't there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: That was Representative Jane Harman.

Meanwhile, Representative Chris Cox, a Republican and the Homeland Security Committee chairman, disagreed with her. He tells CNN the proposed plan to prepare for attempts to interfere with an election would be prudent.

Powerful Texas Congressman Tom DeLay is hearing rumblings in the news media as well as voters in his home state. Up next, the alleged Enron connection, and the story of big money, big corporations and high-stakes politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The House Ethics Committee was presented with petitions today containing 10,000 signatures of Texans demanding an immediate investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The petitions arrived on the same day "The Washington Post" published an article looking at DeLay's links to contributions from big corporations.

Democrats have alleged the money helped fund Republican candidates for the Texas legislature. "The Post" says it has uncovered an e-mail from May 2001 in which two Enron lobbyists told Ken Lay that DeLay was pushing for a $100,000 contribution to DeLay's political action committee. Some of the money, according to the e- mail, was to be used in the redistricting effort in Texas that DeLay was sphere heading.

Republicans eventually took over the Texas legislature and redrew the state's legislative and congressional districts to their political advantage. A Texas prosecutor is now looking into possible violations of a state law that prohibits corporate contributions for election purposes. DeLay says all his actions have been "legal and ethical."

Ken Lay, by the way, is tonight's guest on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

President Bush was in Al Gore's home state today, but he was thinking about events on the other side of the world. John Kerry campaigned in his own back yard. Coming up, political analyst Ron Brownstein joins me to talk about the latest events on the campaign trail.

Later, how a former Chicago Bear could find a place in the Republican Party's playbook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: A Senate showdown over same-sex marriages. Should the Constitution be amended to outlaw such unions? The numbers game. How much does John Edwards help John Kerry in the race for the White House?

KERRY: Well, the only people who had a better week -- or the only person who had a better week than John Edwards and John Kerry was "Spider-Man."

(LAUGHTER)

ANNOUNCER: A convention countdown. We're two weeks away from the start of the Democrats' big gathering in Boston. We don't have the entire lineup, but one convention speaker may surprise you.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

On Capitol Hill today the Senate is debating a proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. And if anyone had any doubts about the implications for the presidential race, stay tuned to see how John Kerry and John Edwards deal with the upcoming vote.

Our congressional correspondent Ed Henry has the latest on the Democrats plans and on today's debate. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy.

Senator John Edwards will make his first trip to Capitol Hill as a vice-presidential candidate this week. He's going to have a series of meetings with Senate and House Democrats. On Tuesday, we've confirmed Edwards is going to have lunch with Senate Democrats. And then on Wednesday morning he's going to meet with House Democrats.

What Edwards' office is telling us is the bottom line is that he wants to be able to discuss strategy, his vision for the campaign. He also wants to talk about the legislative agenda. They're expressing confidence.

Senator Edwards is saying he wants to talk about the Kerry- Edwards administration, what kind of legislation they may be bringing up next year. He wants to talk about HMO reform, for example. An issue that Edwards has championed. And he wants to get back on the radar screen.

But also Edwards is going to offer himself up as a surrogate, not just for John Kerry but for House and Senate Democrats in their battle to take back control of Congress.

Now, you mentioned gay marriage. That's the main reason why Edwards will be on the Hill. And in fact, Senator John Kerry will as well. They're going to be here to vote against the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Now originally, Republicans thought they were really would get Kerry and Edwards on the defensive. Part of the reason why it was scheduled this week was to get Democrats on record against the amendment. Republicans believe that will help them heading into the Democratic Convention.

But there's been a little bit of twist this week. Just yesterday Lynne Cheney went on CNN's "LATE EDITION" and was asked about this very issue. And she pointed out that she agrees with what her husband said back in the 2000 campaign. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF DICK CHENEY: I thought that the formulation that he used in 2000 was very good. You know, first of all, to be clear that people should be free to enter into the relationships that they choose.

And secondly, to recognize what's historically been the situation. That when it comes to conferring legal status on relationships, that is a matter left to the states.

Of course, what's happened is we're in a situation now where the ability of the states to do that has been called into some question by the actions of the court in Massachusetts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Judy, Democrats are trying to exploit this slight division here between Lynne Cheney and the administration. They're trying to say that they're not on the same page.

And Democrats are also trying to make a political point here. They think that it's a waste of time to be focusing on gay marriage this week. They want to instead focus on issues like homeland security because after all this constitutional amendment is very unlikely to pass.

Republicans privately admit that. But they do want to bring it up anyway. And Senator Rick Santorum said there's a good reason why they want to bring it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I can't think of anything more important than the basic social building block of our country. And that's what marriage is, that's what the family is. And it is in jeopardy. It is in serious real jeopardy as a result of what the courts are doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Republicans think that by getting John Kerry on the record, however, against this amendment is going to hurt his argument on the campaign trail that he's in favor of conservative values. Democrats counter, however, that they believe if Republicans push this amendment too hard it could backfire with swing voters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry, very interesting. The vice president's wife speaking out right now further underlining those differences among Republicans. Thank you, Ed.

From gay marriage to war in Iraq, there was plenty of back and forth today between the presidential campaigns. John Kerry attended a dedication for 9/11 memorial in Boston. And he rejected President Bush's assertion on the trail that he has made America safer from terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I happen to believe that the commander in chief has to be able to look into the eyes of a parent, family, brothers, sisters, grandparents. And you better be able to say to them, "I tried to do everything in my power to avoid the loss of your son and daughter, but the threat to our nation was such that we had no choice."

I believe that value, that trust was broken in these past years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: President Bush is now back at the White House after a Tennessee swing in which he again defended his decision to invade Iraq. His campaign strategist may be studying our new presidential poll numbers which show Bush now trailing Kerry by four points in a two-way race. This is among likely voters. And by five points when Ralph Nader is factored in.

Well here now to talk about bout what's happening on the campaign trail, CNN analyst Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

All right, Ron, four points trailing the president among likely voters, seven points among registered voters. What do either one of these numbers say to you?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well first of all, they're consistent with the other polls we saw over the weekend. "TIME" and "Newsweek" polling in the same period found a similar result.

This about -- it seems to be a reasonable bounce for the Democrats out of the announcement of John Edwards. But we're going to have to wait until the convention to really have a verdict on even this the first stage, much less of course election day.

Traditionally the vice president has been named so close to the convention that it's hard to tease out the vice presidential bounce (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the overall convention. But if you look back at 2000, Bush got more of a lift after naming Dick Cheney. Al Gore didn't get quite as much of a lift after naming Joe Lieberman.

So in fact this looks like a very first reasonable step for Democrats and what they have to do over the next few weeks which is solidify impressions about John , fill in the blanks for many voters right now who see him you know kind of in fuzzy terms still.

WOODRUFF: Overall, Ron, what do you see that John Edwards brings to the Kerry ticket?

BROWNSTEIN: I think John Edwards is going to be more valuable delivering a message than delivering a region. I think even with John Edwards on the ticket, it's going to be very hard for John Kerry to win many, perhaps any southern states in a close race. They still lean enough Republican that I think that's going to be hard.

Also, the rural value of John Edwards, I think, is an unproven proposition. A lot of Democrats think that because he was born in a small town -- he likes to remind people of that by playing the song at his rallies -- that he's going to help them in small town and rural America where they clearly need help.

On the other hand, Judy, during the primaries he did better in rural Missouri than he did the rest of the state. But not so in Ohio or Wisconsin. Didn't really run any better in rural areas than elsewhere. So it's unproven proposition to me that he can attract those votes.

What he has show he can do is score well on empathy, on generating and exuding concern for economically squeezed voters. He dominated Kerry among voters in the primary who said their primary concern was a candidate who cared about people like them.

And I think in the end what Edwards is going to have to do is sharpen that economic message and make a connecting that's sometimes hard for John Kerry with economically squeezed voters.

WOODRUFF: That's right. It was the two Americas during the primaries. We'll see whether he updates that and how.

How does all this affect George W. Bush? And is there -- a lot of talk about Dick Cheney. Any chance he's going to be removed from the ticket?

BROWNSTEIN: I say right now no. But if George Bush is down 12 points at the end of August, you know, gravity ceases to function. And anything, I suppose, can happen.

There's sort of an interesting cross current in the polls right now. John Kerry is moving up in the horse race. But I think in presidential politics, the horse race, strangely enough, is often a lagging indicator of where the race is going.

And I think Democrats have to keep their eye on another number which is that George Bush's approval rating, in a number of these polls, is beginning to tick up a little bit after really cratering down through June. He's beginning to see some upward movement. He still has pretty low numbers when people are asked they want to reelect them. The sense that the country is on the wrong track is still pretty powerful. Both of those, of course, are bad for the incumbent. But he is showing as Iraq moves out of the headlines a little bit that his numbers are beginning to move back up. I've often felt and said that his natural equilibrium is 50 percent without a strong current in events that push him either up or down. That seems to be where the public comes to rest on George Bush. And I wouldn't be surprised if we get to Labor Day and that's where we are again.

WOODRUFF: Smells like a cliff-hanger election.

Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

We know a bit more today about the schedule for the Democratic Convention exactly two weeks before the party gets under way in Boston. CNN has learned that Jimmy Carter will speak at the convention on Monday night, a relatively prominent forum for the one- term former president. The Democrats plan to reveal more of the roster of convention speakers tomorrow.

We got word yesterday, by the way, that President Reagan's son, Ron, will also have a prime time speaking role in Boston. He'll be talking about the importance of stem cell research which the Bush administration opposes. That is, embryonic stem cell research. Ron Reagan made his feelings about this issue clear in days after his father's funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON REAGAN, SON OF FRM. PRES. REAGAN: It's shameful that this administration has played politics with an issue that is -- you know, this could be the biggest medical breakthrough in history. This could be bigger than antibiotics.

And this administration is pandering to the most ignorant segment of our society for votes and throwing up roadblocks to this sort of research.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: That was from an interview I did with Ron Reagan on INSIDE POLITICS.

Straight ahead, the emotional issue of same sex marriage. The debate conditions continues on Capitol Hill. I'll talk with one of the authors of the proposed constitutional amendment, Senator Wayne Allard of Ohio.

Some high-profile name are joining the opposition to the ban. I'll also talk about the issue Chip Carter, son of former President Jimmy Carter.

And later, from the sidelines to the U.S. Senate, the latest name floated in the Illinois Senate race, a certain coach by the name of Ditka.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As our Ed Henry just reported, the Senate today resumed debate on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages. A little earlier I spoke with Colorado Republican Senator Wayne Allard who drafted the amendment. I started by asking Senator Allard about Republican opposition to his amendment and how serious the divisions are within his own party.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. WAYNE ALLARD (R), COLORADO: Well, I don't think they're too serious. If you're going to bring up any issue, you're going to find some disagreement among Republicans. But generally a large majority of Republicans and I think this is one of those issues on the Republican side that is actually unifying, and one of those issues, I think, that crosses party lines.

Minority groups such as black Americans, and Hispanics and Asian- Americans all support the traditional family. And they are frequently coming forward and expressing their support for this amendment. So I'm very comfortable because it has such a broad impact on constituents in America.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to your fellow Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee who says the timing of this debate and vote, he called it political posturing which he said could hurt the party in November.

ALLARD: It isn't political posturing. What has been driving this has been the courts. And my view is that we have a few radical activist judges that are making decisions that's forcing a change in the definition of marriage. I think this issue ought to be dealt with in the legislative bodies. It ought to start with the Congress and then it ought to go down to the legislators.

Right now, if this continues the way it has been going in the courts, then the legislators are not going to have an opportunity to address the definition of marriage. I think this has really been driven, more than anything else, by the Massachusetts court and with May 17 having rolled around and passed, we now have licenses are being issued to same-sex couples.

And now, all these couples have dispersed throughout all the states except for two and there are lawsuits being filed in these states, so I feel that we need to act now or we're going to lose this battle if it moves too much further in the courtroom without some kind of congressional action.

WOODRUFF: But, you know, Senator, even with all that, a well- known conservative, Lynne Cheney, the wife of the vice president said yesterday that she thinks this is a matter that should be left to the states.

ALLARD: Well, if you look at my amendment, we do reserve a huge role for the states. We just define marriage as the union between a man and a woman and then we do limit the powers of the federal courts and we allow the states to move forward in a Democrat process to define civil unions or how they want to deal with domestic partnerships and the benefits that may accrue thereof. So all we do in this amendment is define marriage and then we leave everything else up to the states basically and we restrict the courts.

WOODRUFF: One other issue or question, Senator. What do you say to those Christian conservative leaders who are concerned, who are really critical that the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention are primarily individuals, Republicans who oppose this gay marriage amendment. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger. They're the featured speakers.

ALLARD: Well, you know, I'm not involved with putting together that agenda. And I'm not familiar with what their position might be and I'm not familiar with how they might vote if they were in the Congress. But I think that you will find that there will be a balance. And I think it's good that we have dissension in the Republicans. We have always been a party that's been relatively open. We've had issues that we've been willing to debate in the open. We have people with different views in our party. We don't try and exclude anybody particularly. That's one of the reasons why I'm a Republican.

WOODRUFF: One last quick question. Is this amendment going to pass the Senate?

ALLARD: I don't expect it to pass, but the Democrats are being rather coy, and it's a little bit difficult to do an analysis on where they stand on this particular issue. I think there's some attempt to lock all of them in, in one position. But I do know there's a lot of sympathy over on the Democrat side. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when we have our vote. I think it's going to be in the middle of the week on Wednesday. That's why we have votes so we can determine where everybody stands. And it's likely we will have to work on this amendment for several years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado. Up next, an opposing view to the same-sex marriage amendment. I'll talk with the son of a former president after the break, Chip Carter about why he's getting involved in the gay marriage debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We continue our discussion of the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage currently being debated in the Senate. I'm joined from Atlanta by Chip Carter, the son of former President Jimmy Carter. He's one of several children of former presidents who are publicly opposing the amendment.

Chip Carter, thanks very much. We appreciate you talking with us. Why publicly get involved in this and oppose it when even the proponents are acknowledging it may won't pass.

CHIP CARTER, FMR. PRESIDENT CARTER'S SON: I don't think it's going to pass but the reason we're getting involved is because of the almost ridiculousness of it. The distraction that it's being charged -- instead of talking about jobs or health care or Iraq or homeland security. It's unnecessary. There's already a law that they had passed in Congress that makes it unnecessary. The constitution...

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, you know, they say the courts have forced their hand. They point to what the Massachusetts courts did.

CARTER: I don't believe in discrimination. I was raised in the real south Georgia during the civil rights era when discrimination was so obvious that it just became almost a part of you. I certainly hope that we don't, in this country, discriminate against gays and lesbians in that same way. It's ridiculous. Our constitution is a beacon of hope for most of the people on earth. They look at it and our bill of rights and how good it is. And to add this kind of discriminatory amendment to it would be absolutely ridiculous in my opinion.

WOODRUFF: Have you talked to your father about this?

CARTER: Yes, I asked him if he would help me get involved with this and he said -- well, he supported my position but he wasn't going to get involved because it didn't have a chance of passing.

WOODRUFF: But he's with you on your position?

CARTER: Sure. It's the values that I was raised with. You know, values are something I think that your parents instill in you as a small child. I can't understand what they're defining as values here. A president that lies to the American people about going to war and then comes out to discriminate against a homosexual. That's supposed to be the values that we have as a country. I certainly don't believe it's that.

WOODRUFF: Have you talked to either of Georgia's U.S. senators on this?

CARTER: I have not talked to Georgia's senators on it, no, but I have been working with some on the senatorial campaign down here and hopefully we can elect a Georgia Democrat senator.

WOODRUFF: I hear you, Chip Carter. Your father's going to be speaking at the convention. What does he think about that?

CARTER: I don't have any idea. He's in a small island off the small coast of Russia. And so he calls in, he called in and found out about the invitation and accepted. But nobody -- I didn't get to speak to him. He'll be home on Saturday.

WOODRUFF: Well, we were just able to report that. Let me ask you about the son of another former president who is going to be speaking at the Democratic convention but his father's a Republican. And that is Ron Reagan. Were you surprised when you heard that?

CARTER: No. Actually, I saw him on TV the other day. And I fully agreed with almost everything he said. One thing he didn't say that I will say now is I don't believe that Ronald Reagan would have ever brought up an amendment like this because I don't think Ronald Reagan tried to discriminate against anybody. It's just not something that he would have done. So I'm pleased that Ron is going to come to the convention. I hope I get to meet him there. Maybe he and I can join up on something someday and work together for the good of the country.

WOODRUFF: Can you ever imagine yourself speaking at a Republican convention?

CARTER: No, ma'am. No, ma'am.

WOODRUFF: In other words, this is pretty unusual?

CARTER: I think it's very unusual. But I think Ron's got a lot of guts. He tells it exactly like he sees it. He's not trying to hide anything, he's not trying change his views because of polls. He's just out there talking and I really believe that's almost the same thing he does. When you visit America, and when you see what's going on, and when you get to see the country through the eyes of the people that live there, that you do as a former president's child, you come out with a whole lot more understanding of what other people are thinking and what's going on. I believe he's right on this issue we're discussing now but he's right on a lot of other issues. I can't wait to hear him.

WOODRUFF: Chip Carter, we thank you very much for talking with us today.

CARTER: My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: We hope to see you during the week of the convention in Boston.

CARTER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks again.

As the election gets closer, driving gets more interesting, if not more distracting. Coming up, what bumper stickers may be saying about the national mood.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no no and no yes. Let's just see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: In his own words, Mike Ditka today, not ruling in or out a possible run for the Senate in Illinois. Some Republicans would like the former Chicago Bears Super Bowl winning coach to take on Democrat Barack Obama for the open Senate seat. Jack Ryan won the Republican primary but the millionaire investment banker turned teacher dropped out of the race two weeks ago after the release of his divorce records which contain embarrassing sex club allegations. Well, bumper sticker sales seem to mirror the political polls this year. According to an Internet business in Washington State, a Seattle newspaper reports George W. Bush and John Kerry are neck and neck in sales at Bumperart.com, each getting 50 percent. Almost all the stickers sold to Kerry supporters are actually anti-Bush. Only 1 percent are pro-Kerry. On the other hand, Bush supporters are buying more pro-Bush stickers than anti-Kerry by a margin of more than two to one. Did you follow all of that? That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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