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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Boston Labors; Politics in Granite; Interview With Jeanne Shaheen, Kerry, Edwards Hit Key Themes Across Country; 9/11 Report Could Affect Bush Campaign; Kerry is Gaining Ground in Contested States; Will Delegates Refuse to Cross Picket Lines?

Aired July 19, 2004 - 15:29   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Boston on the brink a week before the Democratic convention. Can an embarrassing labor dispute be resolved?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics is like a pastime here in New Hampshire.

ANNOUNCER: An early stop on the road to the White House. Are New Hampshire voters expecting to make as big an impact this fall as they did in the primary?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, unscripted.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I call them girlie men.

ANNOUNCER: We're gauging the fallout from the governor's latest slap at statehouse Democrats.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Concord, New Hampshire, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us outside the statehouse in Concord, a hub for the intense politics New Hampshire is known for. As the home of the lead-off presidential primary, New Hampshire helped to set John Kerry on the path of the Democratic nomination and the convention in Boston, which opens one week from today. The Granite State also is our launching pad for our Election Express bus trip all this week to the Democratic convention.

In Boston today, some dramatic action aimed at resolving a contract dispute between the city and its police union before the Democrat's party gets under way. CNN's Dan Lothian is in Boston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The stage is set for next week's Democratic national convention, officials today unveiling the new structure inside the FleetCenter, two podiums, one on each side. But outside, still more work to be done in the bitter police union dispute with the city of Boston over raises. In a last-ditch effort to avoid potentially disruptive protests by union members who have been very vocal and visible in recent weeks, the state's labor management board met and voted to approve a quick arbitration, speeding up a process that could be resolved by next week. Marita Hopkins (ph) represents the city.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should all be ready to sit down and go to arbitration right now.

LOTHIAN: But the union cautions against a quick fix, saying the only immediate, effective solution is for the mayor and the union to sit down and hammer out a deal.

RAY MCGRATH, COMMITTEE FOR THE POLICE UNION: If we went this afternoon to arbitration, the decision would not be out until after the convention.

LOTHIAN: Pressure is mounting on Boston's mayor to resolve the contract dispute. Union members have vowed to picket any event he attends, including delegation parties. Some states have reportedly encouraged their members to avoid picket lines, jeopardizing some of the political bashes.

In an effort to allay fears, the organizing committee sent this letter to each of the delegations, touting Boston's pride in its city, progress in resolving other union contracts, and urging them to "not let this stand in the way of a successful convention."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Mayor Tom Menino, pleased with today's vote, also sent out his own letter informing delegates that the picket lines are only informational and that they should not deter delegates from attending the parties. Now, the union says his letter is "misleading." Members say they are not pleased with today's vote; they'd rather have this decided between the city and their leadership, not a third party. By the way, an arbitrator is expected to issue a decision on Thursday -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It sounds like the two sides are still very far apart.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

WOODRUFF: Dan Lothian, thank you very much.

Well, let's talk more about that labor dispute, as well as John Kerry's pre-convention strategy. We're joined by CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times."

Ron, does this labor dispute have the potential to hurt John Kerry?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think it's not -- I mean, look, we're looking at a very narrow funnel for what the public is going to get out of this convention, especially from the broadcast networks. Bill Clinton and John Edwards and John Kerry, that's just about it.

I think it's an annoyance. It's another reason why the convention, I think, in many ways, with all the security costs now and all the disruption that goes with it, is something that cities are probably going to look twice at in the future because it does put the mayor -- mayors in this difficult situation. But in the end, Judy, it's a secondary concern for John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ron, let's talk about what John Kerry is doing in the days leading up, in fact during the convention. Instead of sorting in a convention city hotel, which is what so many nominees have done in the past, he is literally working his way across the country, including during convention week. He doesn't even arrive in Boston until the night before his acceptance speech. What's the strategy here?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, first of all, when you look at it geographically, it's fascinating, you know, there. It's a combination of hopes and fears in the state that he's stopping in.

He's got two that he has to defend, Iowa and Pennsylvania, that Al Gore won. He's got four that he's targeting, including Ohio and Florida, obvious ones. Then Colorado and Virginia are stops, which are states certainly at the edge of what Republicans consider truly competitive in this race.

It underscores their -- the Kerry camp's belief that it can broaden the battlefield. We'll see on that, Judy.

Message-wise, I think it's going to be much more about John Kerry than George Bush, like the convention, like the last few months. I think the Kerry campaign has made a strategic decision, a gamble, really, that there is at least a tentative majority ready to replace Bush, and their principal task is not to build an anti-Bush case, but to reassure voters that Kerry can take the mantle if they're ready to make a change.

WOODRUFF: But in essence, Ron, are they acknowledging that they haven't done that yet? That they've -- they've spent $80 million in television advertising, they've had, what, four months of national campaigning, and there are still 30 percent of the voters who either don't know who John Kerry is or haven't made up their minds yet.

BROWNSTEIN: And I think that's absolutely right, Judy. I mean, I think we're going to look back on this and wonder whether the amount of television that both sides have spent can really be justified given the level of interest that voters may have in really focusing on this at the time this television was pounding them every day.

I do think the reality is that these next two weeks are critical for John Kerry because he has not made that deep an impression on voters yet. It may be impossible for any challenger to do so before their convention. This is clearly the best opportunity he's going to have to tell his own story in his own terms to voters, and one that if he does not really grasp, will not -- he will have anything like it again. So this is a critical moment for them. And I think what we're going to see over this week, and especially through the convention, as I said, is more of focus on telling the Kerry story, convincing voters that he will keep them safe, that he is a -- try to rebut the Bush charge that he is a flip-flopper who lacks principles, more than making a case against Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right. We heard it from his mouth. Ron Brownstein said these next two weeks critical for John Kerry.

Ron, thank you very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And now, a Republican convention update. A federal judge says New York police may not search the bags of demonstrators at the GOP's big event at Madison Square Garden unless they can show there is specific threat to public safety. In the ruling that was made public today, the judge said his order does not stop police from conducting less intrusive searches of all demonstrators with devices such as metal detecting wands.

We're checking the Monday headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." President Bush and John Kerry are taking time off from the campaign trail today, but their running mates are staying busy. Vice President Dick Cheney is making stops in the showdown states of Missouri and Ohio.

John Edwards had two events today in North Carolina, including a million-dollar fund-raiser before heading back to Washington. A new nationwide poll by Maris (ph) College is the latest to highlight the extremely tight White House race. The survey gives John Kerry 45 percent, George W. Bush, 44 percent, and Ralph Nader 2 percent.

In the all-important 17 showdown states, the poll shows Kerry leading Bush by five percentage points. A closer look at one of those showdown states, Minnesota, also finds Kerry in the lead. A new Mason Dixon poll there finds Kerry ahead of Bush by three points, 48 percent to 45 percent.

Well, the state that I'm in right now, New Hampshire, is considered one of the big 2004 battlegrounds. And many voters here who are used to being in the thick of the political fray during primary season are pleased that they're going to have a featured role in the fall as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The state that hosts the lead-off presidential primary is less influential in the general election, with just four electoral votes. But in an era when every vote counts as a campaign mantra, George W. Bush and John Kerry are waging a fierce battle for New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very, very close, very competitive. WOODRUFF: And the most recent polls suggest the showdown here is as close as they come: 46 percent to 46 percent with 2 percent for Ralph Nader. It was a squeaker back in 2000 as well, with Bush edging Al Gore by one percentage point. This time around, Bush is a known commodity, and like many Americans, Granite State voters are assessing his record on Iraq and the economy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to make sure jobs stay here at home, in order to make sure people can find work, we need to be competitive.

WOODRUFF: The Bush camp is quick to note that New Hampshire gained jobs each of the first five months of the year.

SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR POLITICAL REPORTER: So New Hampshire is enjoying a slightly better economic situation than much of the country.

WOODRUFF: John Kerry suggests New Hampshire's gains and the country's are not good enough. He's also hoping his criticism of what he's calling Bush's "go it alone strategy" in Iraq will resonate here. Per capita, New Hampshire had a relatively large number of reservists called to active duty.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But they deserve the support of a policy that doesn't just leave them exposed almost alone.

WOODRUFF: As a senator from the state next door, Kerry is no stranger to New Hampshire voters. But that doesn't guarantee him an advantage. Kerry spent weeks last winter trailing in pre-primary polls before his Iowa bounce sealed his turn around and eventual victory in New Hampshire.

Bush has also experienced the fickle nature of this state. Four years ago, John McCain's upset win in the GOP primary may have left Bush red-faced, but determined to fight even harder for the nomination and the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, there's plenty more to say about the battle for New Hampshire. Coming up, I'll talk with Kerry campaign chairwoman and former governor of this state, Jeanne Shaheen, and we'll get the other side form GOP strategist and former New Hampshire attorney general, Tom Rath.

Also ahead, where does the Bush administration stand on a proposal for a new national intelligence chief? We'll hear what the president has to say.

Plus, was he spoofing a spoof of himself, or was Governor Schwarzenegger going for the political jugular?

With 106 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to rainy Concord, New Hampshire.

Well, recent polls showed nearly one-third of the voters don't know enough about Senator John Kerry to make up their minds, as we were just discussing with Ron Brownstein, despite all of Kerry's campaigning and about $80 million worth of advertising. Just a little while ago, I spoke with Kerry campaign chairwoman and former New Hampshire governor, Jeanne Shaheen. I started by asking how the Kerry campaign hopes to use the events surrounding the Democratic convention to persuade those people who don't him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE SHAHEEN, KERRY CAMPAIGN CHAIRWOMAN: Well, we think the convention is a great opportunity for people to learn more about John Kerry and John Edwards. And, you know, we're looking at some broad themes for the convention, stronger at home, respected in the world, and looking at -- at how John Kerry's career and life experiences play into those themes.

So we'll be highlighting some of those things on the roll-in into the convention. He'll be in Aurora, Colorado, for example, where he was born. He'll be in Norfolk, Virginia, talking about his military service and his commitment to the country. So we hope that there is an opportunity over the next two weeks, really, to showcase for the public more about who John Kerry is.

WOODRUFF: But are we going to learn something about John Kerry that we don't already know?

SHAHEEN: Oh, sure. There are a lot of people who, you know, haven't focused yet on the race. It's not until November.

And for a lot of people, if you're not in a battleground state, you haven't seen a lot of the ads and you have not been paying a whole lot of attention. So we think that's going to change. And hopefully as people look at the convention this will be the beginning of the general election campaign.

WOODRUFF: This convention is crucial.

SHAHEEN: It is. It's very important. But again, we think it's an opportunity for people to learn more about John Kerry and John Edwards. We don't expect to come out of the convention with a big bounce, as has happened sometimes.

WOODRUFF: Well, I wanted to ask you about that, because Bill Clinton came out of his convention in 1992 with a 24-point bounce. Are you going to get anywhere close to that?

SHAHEEN: Well, but part of the reason that happened is because Ross Perot dropped out during that convention, and a lot of those supporters went to Bill Clinton. So we don't expect that. We think we've consultant the base of the Democratic Party, and right now, as we know, the nation is very polarized.

WOODRUFF: So you're not just lowering expectations here?

SHAHEEN: No, no. The fact is, we don't have -- because of that support in the Democratic Party, anywhere from 82 to 89 percent of Democrats say they support the ticket. There isn't the room to grow that we've seen in some past years.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about this cross-country tour that John Kerry is making from Colorado, as you mentioned, all the way across, during the convention itself. It's unprecedented to do this. Some people would say you're sort of, you know, stealing your own thunder, you're trying to get people's attention, the press corps. We're going to be in Boston, but he's going to be making his way across the United states.

SHAHEEN: Well, he's -- he's sort of going on his own freedom trail into Boston, picking up on Boston as the birthplace of the country. And it's an opportunity to talk both about his vision for strengthening America and what he wants to do, and to focus in those different parts of the country that are so crucial to this election. He's going to be in Columbus, Ohio, he's going to be in Sioux City, Iowa.

WOODRUFF: But aren't you competing with the convention for attention Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday?

SHAHEEN: Well, they're starting on this Friday. So we think a lot of what they're doing will not be at the same time that the convention is going on.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk very quickly about New Hampshire. You lost -- Democrats lost this state by one point back in 2000. What does it look like right now?

SHAHEEN: Well, it's very close. The Republicans have a big advantage in terms of registration and voting patterns in the state. But we think we have a great base to start with.

Most public polls have us even right now in the state, or a little ahead. And we think, again, the convention is a great opportunity for people in New Hampshire who watch a lot of what goes on in Boston to have a chance to see more of John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: Are you betting on a victory in New Hampshire?

SHAHEEN: You know, I never bet, but I'm working hard to make sure we win New Hampshire.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeanne Shaheen, who is the former governor of this state and also co-chair of the Kerry campaign, thank you very much.

SHAHEEN: Thank you. Nice to be with you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: She's actually chair of the Kerry campaign. We'll give her that credit.

More on the presidential race from the New Hampshire perspective a little later in the program when I talk with long-time Republican strategist here Tom Rath.

Also ahead, the governor of California uses a famous one-liner to mock his political rivals. But Golden State Democrats aren't laughing.

And a reminder. For the latest on the CNN Election Express and our stops on the road to Boston, go to cnn.com/bus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A top California Democrat said today that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger must have "taken leave of his senses." But the governor's spokesman says don't expect an apology.

They are both referring, of course, to Schwarzenegger's weekend comments mocking lawmakers for failing to pass an overdue state budget. Some Democrats have called the governor's comments sexist and even homophobic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: If they don't have the guts to come out here in front of you and say, I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers, I want them to make the millions of dollars, I don't want (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I call them girlie men. They should go back to the table and they should fix the budget.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: Schwarzenegger took the girlie man line from the old "Saturday Night Live" skit, apparently, featuring two obsessed bodybuilders with thick Austrian accents. California residents had a mixed reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he's going to make some mistakes, but he's better than what they had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's totally inappropriate, but it's Arnold, the governor. I mean, that's inappropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think he should like, you know, hold up to his word, but just, you know, use a different language.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Schwarzenegger delivered a similar speech yesterday, but he left out the "girlie men" comment. His spokesman says the governor didn't use the line a second time because he had already made his point. In a few minutes, I'll be talking to California State Democratic Party chair Art Torres, and I'll ask him what he thinks about the governor's comment.

Well, stay tuned now for an update on what President Bush is doing today.

We'll also get a Republican view of the political landscape here in New Hampshire.

Much more from the CNN Election Express straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Rolling toward Boston: Team Kerry-Edwards prepares to take its road show cross-country.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This si the America we believe in.

ANNOUNCER: We'll tell you where they're heading on their way to the convention.

Tallying the numbers in a race where every battleground is hard fought. We'll parse the polls in the showdown states and tell you who's ahead where it counts.

At the dawn of the Kerry juggernaut, there was New Hampshire. And now the Granite State's a key November prize. We'll take a look at the Bush efforts to win New Hampshire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Concord, New Hampshire, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to Concord, the capital of the state of New Hampshire and a little over an hour's drive from the Democratic convention city of Boston. After our program here, in fact, we're going to be packing up and traveling alongside the CNN Election Express to Bean Town, where we're going to see some sights from the John F. Kennedy Museum at Fenway Park. It's all part of our weeklong INSIDE POLITICS countdown to the Democratic convention.

Of course, the Democratic Party is counting down, too. We got our first glimpse today of the FleetCenter stage where John Kerry will accept his party's presidential nomination next week. And we now have more details about the Kerry camp's convention build-up. CNN's political editor, John Mercurio, is with me now from Washington.

All right, John. What have we learned and what does it mean? JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, I mean, it's become sort of a tradition before the convention for these candidates to embark upon sort of a grand personal -- personal journey across country. And the Kerry-Edwards ticket is no different.

They're calling their trip America's Freedom Trail, which is designed to sort of denote the sort of historic role that Boston played during the foundation of the country. The trip is going to take Kerry from his birthplace in Colorado to America's birthplace in Boston. Now, some might argue that America's birthplace is actually in Philadelphia, but that's beside the point.

On Friday, Kerry and John Edwards are going to start out in Colorado, together in Colorado. It's a potential swing state where Kerry was also born in December, 1943. He actually only spent a couple months living there with his dad, who was recovering from tuberculosis. Then they moved back to Massachusetts. His daughter, Alex, said today that she's never been to Aurora, so she's sort of excited about the trip.

On Saturday, Kerry heads to Sioux City, Iowa, campaigning there. On Sunday, Kerry will travel to Columbus, Ohio. On Monday, he'll be in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Tuesday, back up north, to Norfolk, Virginia. On Wednesday -- and this is all just Kerry -- Kerry will be in Philadelphia. And obviously on Thursday he'll head up to Boston to accept the nomination.

WOODRUFF: All right. And I guess there's a little military emphasis there on those -- on those military bases. John, what is...

MERCURIO: Right.

WOODRUFF: ... John Edwards doing while Kerry is doing all this?

MERCURIO: Well, Edwards and his wife and their family are going to start out, again, in Colorado with the Kerry-Heinz clan. They're then going to go their own way.

They're actually leaving Colorado and heading for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They're going to spend a day campaigning there. He then heads home to his native North Carolina, campaigning in the Research Triangle for three days. And Wednesday he travels to Boston, of course, to deliver his acceptance speech in Boston.

WOODRUFF: You know John, we've been watching these battleground tours constantly for the last few months. How is what Kerry is doing in the coming weeks different from that?

MERCURIO: Exactly. I mean, that's a very good point. How does this differ from another day on the campaign trail, or another week?

They're trying really hard right now, I think, to create a sense of moment, a sense of history and to try to connect the themes of this trip with themes that are going to be going on in Boston.

In Sioux City, Iowa, for example, you know, the campaign is making a point about how this was a major stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition out West. Kerry talking in Iowa next week about the important of American opportunity, American optimism and the can do spirit.

He then travels to Columbus, Ohio, a state that's been hit hard by job loss, Kerry talking about opportunity and job growth. I mean, you're starting to see a trend here.

He then goes to Cape Canaveral, the site of the space shuttle launching. They're be trying to connect the sort of pioneering spirit of space exploration with his call for affordable health care.

Norfolk, Virginia, the theme is going to be -- He'll be joined by Skip Barker, who's a fellow Vietnam vet, talking about the importance of public service in the military.

Do you see the themes: opportunity, optimism, the future.

WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, John, we also got our, I guess, first actual look inside the convention center, the FleetCenter, this morning. Tell us about that.

MERCURIO: Yes. We got our first glimpse and with note, it was from Vanessa Kerry. She was the host on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING." With no further adieu, let's take a look at what Vanessa has to say about the convention hall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VANESSA KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S DAUGHTER: The stage is behind me, which gives you a quick glimpse of what is coming. We have two podiums where people are going to speak from. There are podiums here on the arena floor.

We have a huge main screen and several plasma screens. We're going to be bringing in the faces of America. Our goal is to make this as inclusive as possible and to not only bring Americans into the convention hall but also to, obviously, bring this convention out into America. Passing on our message, stronger here at home and safer in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MERCURIO: Now one other -- one other thing that Vanessa mentioned after that was that there's going to be space for some 200 people to stand behind the podium while the speakers are speaking. So I think what they're trying to do is create the sort of sense of a campaign rally going on during the convention.

WOODRUFF: It does sound like that. And I think we're going to be hearing the word "inclusive" a lot. OK.

MERCURIO: Inclusive, opportunity. True.

WOODRUFF: CNN's political editor, John Mercurio. Thank you, John. MERCURIO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the White House, where President Bush is anticipating the 9/11 commission's final report this week and its potential effect on his reelection campaign.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dana Bash.

Hello, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.

And you remember all of the questions about when the 9/11 commission would actually release its report, concerns about it being released too close to the election and it getting politicized.

Well, Judy, here we are. The report won't be issued until Thursday. But some of the commission's findings and some of its recommendations have already become public. They're already in the public domain.

And how to fix the systems, they're re already out there, at least some of the recommendations on how to do that.

As far as the White House is concerned, their strategy until it is actually out there and released is for the president to try to maintain an above the fray posture, essentially trying to say that he's taking it seriously and he's going to wait and see what they recommend and make his decisions on what he'll recommend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I look forward to seeing those recommendations. They share the same desires I share, which is to make sure that the president and the Congress gets the best possible intelligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now Democrats admit that they see this report on top of last week's Senate report on faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq as an opening to attack the president.

The Democratic National Committee and the Kerry team are coordinating a weeklong campaign to make the case that the president has not made America safer.

There, you see a Web ad that they put out today. They had former senator, Max Cleland on a conference call with reporters this morning, launching even what Democrats called an explosive attack on the former President Bush for what he called some failures in his presidency, even calling this President Bush Mr. Macho or "macho man."

As for the Kerry team, they had Senator Bob Graham as their surrogate on a call with reporters, and he said, quote, "George Bush's leadership of the intelligence has been missing in action, and America is no safer today than it was on September 11."

Now the Bush campaign response is essentially one of shock and awe. They say that Democrats would have such a coordinated take based on a report that is not yet out.

Nevertheless, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, could not resist an invitation to respond to Senator Max Cleland and other Democrats who are suggesting the president went to war in Iraq and made -- and did not make America safer. He said it's the Democrats' opportunity or their responsibility, particularly Senator John Kerry, to explain their votes on Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The president's opponent looked at that same intelligence and made the same decision to support the use of force to remove that regime from power. I know he's been all over the map since that time frame, trying to justify his positions and giving some tortured responses with regard to that position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: But, Judy, in addition to all kinds of questions about the findings in this 9/11 report, whether or not other administrations in the past, like the Clinton administration, will look like they, perhaps, were equally culpable. That is still obviously, something that's out there and to be answered.

The other out there question is whether or not this president is going to embrace one of the key findings, the key recommendations, which is to create a new cabinet level position to look over all 15 intelligence agencies.

That is something that they've been reluctant to do. They're cooling their heels. They're not saying whether of not they'll do that at this point. Certainly, there is pressure from both sides of the aisle in Congress to do so -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash, reporting from the White House. Thank you, Dana.

WOODRUFF: Well, both campaigns readily agree that the Bush-Kerry contest will, for the most part, be decided in fewer of half of the states, those considered 2004 battlegrounds, such as right here in New Hampshire.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been studying the latest showdown state polls and the electoral map.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Let's see where the electoral map stands going into the Democratic convention.

Start with the 2000 map, red states for Bush, blue states for Gore. Have any states changed since 2000?

Nonpartisan polls have been done in 26 states in June and July. Most of those states are voting the same way they did in 2000. But four Bush states look a little shaky. Recent polls in Florida, West Virginia and Ohio show Kerry slightly ahead. And a New Hampshire poll shows a dead heat.

Only one 2000 Gore state looks shaky for Kerry, Wisconsin. One Wisconsin poll shows Kerry slightly ahead; one shows Bush slightly ahead.

In addition, polls in two Bush states show Bush still ahead, but by a narrow margin: North Carolina, John Edwards' home state and Colorado, where Kerry has run TV ads.

There's one Gore state where polls show Kerry ahead by a narrow margin: New Jersey. It, too, could end up in the battleground column.

Add up the electoral votes in the question mark states, and you get 80 shaky electoral votes for Bush and 25 shaky Democratic electoral votes. Bottom line, the electoral map is tipping toward Kerry.

Keep in mind the 2000 battleground states are still battlegrounds. Not a single poll in any battleground shows Bush or Kerry getting over 50 percent of the vote.

Then, there's the Nader effect.

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (no audio)

SCHNEIDER: He'd better think again. Polls that asked people how they would vote with and without Ralph Nader on the ballot show Nader taking more votes from Kerry in eight states. In five, Nader makes no difference.

There's only one state, Wisconsin, where polls show Nader taking slightly more votes from Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: We could not find a single state in which President Bush is doing better in the polls right now than he did in 2000, not even Idaho, Bush's best state in 2000. He got 67 percent in Idaho last time. The most recently poll this summer shows him getting 55 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider. Those are numbers we know the White House is watching very closely, and the Kerry campaign. Bill, thanks very much.

And now for the second edition of our "Campaign News Daily."

Ralph Nader says he will use voter signatures, some gathered by his campaign, others by Republicans, to try to get his name on the Michigan ballot. More than 40,000 signatures have been submitted on Nader's behalf, 10,000 more than required.

Democrats have vowed to file a complaint, however, because they say the names amount to an illegal campaign contribution by state Republicans.

Nader has also tried to qualify on the Reform Party line, but that effort has been hampered by a split in the Michigan Reform Party.

The National Rifle Association is running new TV ads blasting John Kerry's position on the Second Amendment. One spot features NRA leader, Wayne LaPierre, comparing his stance on gun rights to that of fellow Massachusetts senator, Ted Kennedy. The ad is running here in Washington -- or I should say in Washington, D.C., and in other media markets.

Pro wrestlers grappled with the issue of student voting today on Capitol Hill. World Wrestling Entertainment stars the Hurricane and Maven were among those who met with members of Congress to discuss ways to increase voter turnout on college campuses.

And the Bush/Cheney campaign has announced a new steering committee to attract African-American voters. Among those attending today's event in Detroit were Maryland's lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, and pro football hall of famer Lynn Swann.

Well, New Hampshire just barely went for George W. Bush in the 2000 election, as we told you. Coming up, I'll ask a top New Hampshire Republican what's being done to keep the Granite State in the GOP column this time.

Later, how Democrats from other states may react to the potential labor problems at their convention in Boston.

Plus, Howard Dean and the wallet that apparently, reportedly got away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We're going to take a look now at New Hampshire's political landscape with Republican strategist Tom Rath. He is a former state attorney general here in the Granite State and a long time member of the Republican National Committee.

Good to see you again.

TOM RATH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good to have you here, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for stopping by under our rainy tent here.

RATH: Usually, we're plowing this when you're here, so...

WOODRUFF: All right. John Kerry, not only rolling out the convention, big convention next week, but making this trip across the country, talking about his history, his life. You getting a little nervous as Republicans that the Democrats are getting all this going? RATH: Well, this is their month. I mean, this is the month they better make the move. They have not really moved the numbers a great deal, didn't move them a great deal when they announced their vice president. They need to draw some attention to the convention.

Right now in New England, there's been more talk about the traffic dislocations and the problems that commuters are going to have than what the substance of the convention is going to be.

So I think that this is their week. They ought to go out and try to make the most of it.

WOODRUFF: You've been -- you were -- you've been watching politics for a long time, Tom Rath. I don't know if you were able to hear, but Bill Schneider just did a sort of survey of the battleground states with the polls.

Right now, the president is behind in some states that he won, a few, and not as far ahead as, I guess, one would like, you know, if you're a Republican, you'd like to see him.

Is there concern inside the Bush campaign that -- that time is passing here?

RATH: Well, I think it's going to be a close election. I think anybody who ever thought it wasn't going to be a close election is being proved wrong.

Don't forget, seven electoral votes in the states that Bush carried the last time. So they're giving us a little bit of an advantage going in.

WOODRUFF: Right.

RATH: But I think we will -- I really do believe we're going to hold most of those states. I think that as the president's message gets out, as we get past this time of sort of intense partisanship and the country engages, not just the two bases, which we keep hearing how the bases are engaged.

Surely the entire country is going to take a look at who's the one who's had the best programs, who's the one who's been the most constant in their adherence to certain basic principles.

I think that's going to change this dynamic a great deal.

But it is very partisan right now. And some of those states we carried the last time were Democratic states. So we want to hold onto those, and this is one of the ones we most want to hold onto.

WOODRUFF: Republican pollster Bill McIntyre (ph) gave a speech over the weekend, talked to Republican governors who were meeting, and he said among other thing that the Bush message of the economy is getting better is not as effective, in his view, as the Kerry message of the middle class is getting squeezed. He's done polls; he's looked at it. Should the president fine-tune or change in a significant way his economic message?

RATH: I think the best thing we can do is to have the continued strong economic recovery. We need to bring jobs back. We've begun to see that people are changing their mind about how they feel about the direction of the country. Those are the things we really need to stay to.

What we can't do is do what John Kerry does, which is every time a poll comes out, changes his position and goes a different direction. The key to this president getting reelected is his consistency, is his constancy.

WOODRUFF: But -- but his point is the Bush message of just wait, because things are getting better is not good enough.

RATH: Well, I think we need to keep the economy growing. I think clearly, the big issue is going to be the level of stability and confidence that people have in the situation in Iraq. Those are the two things.

I don't know that you can solve this equation without knowing how both those things are going to feel in October.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor, said she's feeling pretty good about New Hampshire right now. George Bush won here four years ago, but by one point. What's it looking like?

RATH: It's going to be very close. This is the one state in the entire northeast that went for the president the last time, and we're working awfully hard to hold it. I think we will hold it.

Don't forget, we -- We took about $8-10 million of negative advertising unanswered during the Democratic primary here. We were in the belly of the beast. We've come back from a 15-point deficit right after the election. I heard the governor say it's either even or they're slightly ahead. I'll take that, going into this convention.

Our time will come. I think we're going to hold the state, but we're -- it's going to take a lot of hard work.

WOODRUFF: Nobody knows the state better than Tom Rath.

RATH: Thanks, Judy. Good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. We appreciate it. Thank you for talking with me.

Well, some state party chairs are joining the debate over Boston's labor troubles. Up next, my conversation with California's Art Torres about next week's convention and the potential for pickets in the White House race ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres is one of several party chairs who have urged their convention delegates to boycott Boston's welcoming reception rather than cross union picket lines.

For more on this and other issues, Art Torres joins me now from San Francisco.

Good to see you again.

ART TORRES, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: Good to see you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Are you serious about this?

TORRES: Yes, we have to be. I think too many lives are at stake in terms of equitable wages. I think the mayor has had more than three years to deal with the police union and the firefighters here, for two years. And I think this -- these contracts are on the table, and he ought to sign them.

WOODRUFF: So when the mayor sends a letter to all the delegates saying, "Hey, this is -- these picket lines are just informational, and they shouldn't keep anybody from attending a convention event," what do you say?

TORRES: I've -- I've heard the same thing from the growers when I was Caesar Chavez' national legislative director when we tried to have a boycott throughout America against grapes and iceberg lettuce.

We're not going to respond to that kind of argument from management. We're going to wait and see what the rank and file police officers and firefighters say, because they're the ones that are at risk here in terms of an equitable salary.

If the mayor can provide these provisions for teachers and other city employees, what is the hold-up in providing them for the very people that take care of our lives and protect us in case of emergencies? It doesn't make sense to us.

I think if you took a poll of the city of Boston, more of a majority of the people there would probably vote to say, "Menino, sign the contracts and give theses guys and women a chance to live like the other city employees in your -- in your city."

WOODRUFF: Today, we know a judge sent this off for bonding arbitration.

TORRES: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying if that result goes against the unions, you are still going to stick with the unions here, no matter what the binding arbitration answer is?

TORRES: I'm -- I'm sticking with the working men and women of the city police force and the city firefighters of Boston. If they don't have a fair an equitable contract, which is what needs to happen -- and I know they filed -- they filed for a TRO today in the Boston Superior Court, and we're waiting to see what that result is.

Then I think we need to be patient and let the process take its place. But to force them to...

WOODRUFF: But you don't -- you don't...

TORRES: I'm sorry, Judy.

WOODRUFF: You don't worry about how this makes the Democratic Party look?

TORRE: I think it makes us look very, very strong in supporting police and firefighters.

I mean, since we had our incredible tragedy in this nation, even before then, the American people support firefighters and policemen and women, because they're out there. They're the first line of attack in protecting our citizens across this country, and we ought to be behind them.

WOODRUFF: All right. Art Torres, a quick question about California politics. I know you're aware of Governor Schwarzenegger's comment over the weekend, calling Democratic legislators who don't like his budget girly-men.

What's -- what do you say about this? Is this a big deal?

TORRES: I invite -- I invite him to feel my biceps here in San Francisco and see if he'll call me to my face that. I mean, this is crazy, this third grade bully.

Obviously, it really is so transparent because the real issue here is that the governor doesn't agree with the Democrats that we should outsource private contract work. We're already outsourcing through a Canadian firm the governor's using to -- outsourcing jobs out of California.

And now he wants us to do that with school districts rather than provide for public employees, who do a much better job than some of these private companies doing the same thing for us. That's really what's at issue here.

WOODRUFF: You -- You're calling Governor Schwarzenegger a third- rate bully?

TORRES: Third grade.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, at least we got it cleared up. We're going to let you stand on those remarks, Art.

TORRES: I'm not going to talk about his acting ability. That's another day. WOODRUFF: OK. All right. We'll -- we will leave it there for this day, Art Torres. And we look forward to seeing you here in Boston...

TORRES: Take care, Judy.

WOODRUFF: ... in a few days. Thanks very much. Thanks very much.

Political fundraising speeches we know can sometimes be pretty predictable. But Howard Dean had an unusual and upsetting ending to a recent speech. Details when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK REPORT)

WOODRUFF: And finally, a timely reminder about hanging onto your valuables.

According to the "New York Daily News," bad weather recently forced Howard Dean to phone in his speech to a Democratic fundraiser from a pay phone at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York.

Well, as Dean was giving his pep talk, he suddenly said, "I've got to go. Somebody just stole his wallet." Apparently, Dean had set his wallet on top of the phone, and somebody else noticed. All Dean saw was a hand reach over, grab his wallet and disappear. I guess that's a lesson.

Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow. We'll be live from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. I'll be joined by a father and son team, Massachusetts senior senator, Edward Kennedy, and Rhode Island congressman, Patrick Kennedy. That's at 3 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

I'm Judy Woodruff. My colleagues from "CROSSFIRE" start right now, and they're sitting right here.


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