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Bush And Kerry Both Campaign In Iowa; Hecklers Along The Campaign Trail; Interview With Congresswoman Jane Harman; Big-Name Concerts Staged To Support Kerry; Interview With Dennis Hastert.

Aired August 4, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: The duel in Davenport.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's great to be back here in the Quad Cities area. It's a great place to work and raise your family. It's what I would call the heart and soul of the country.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I don't know how many of you know. I guess President Bush is just a few blocks from here.

ANNOUNCER: Why did President Bush and Senator Kerry campaign just blocks from each other today in Iowa?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Where's the beef? Talk is not action.

ANNOUNCER: Is Congress moving fast enough on the 9/11 Commission recommendations?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And people say we have all the answers to all the questions now, let's go forward instantly, reconvene Congress tomorrow, pass it, and our problems are solved. That's not the way it works.

ANNOUNCER: Rocking the election: Some top names plan to take their acts on the trail to support John Kerry. But is the Bush campaign planning a musical counterattack?



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Well, the people in the east Iowa city of Davenport have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. After all, people in most towns and cities never see a presidential candidate in person, much less the incumbent and challenger on the very same day. But Davenport's status as a showdown state city with a rich vain of Independent voters makes it a prime target for both Bush and Kerry.

Our Dana Bash is in Davenport with the Kerry campaign.

Hello, Dana.


And as you know, the voters in Iowa are not unaccustomed to seeing their politicians come through here. Of course they have the first in the nation caucuses. But we have been here for about a day now, and even in talking to some hardened veterans, they even say that what a local paper has dubbed the "Davenport Duel" is something to behold.

And you mentioned that of course these two candidates were here at the same time. They were blocks apart, about three blocks away from each other, speaking almost simultaneously. And while the president held more of a traditional, large rally, Senator Kerry's event was somewhat more intimate.

And so not to be outdone by the politics of imagery, the senator made an unscheduled stop, talking to some construction workers, to get some pictures of him out and about with the locals. And his bus went around the block to an event that was really just across the street, right past the site where President Bush was having his event. Now, the senator then came to his event and raised the sword about the president's new slogan.


KERRY: It occurred to me, I don't know how many of you know, I guess President Bush is just a few blocks from here. It occurred to me that he could come here for a great discussion about America's future, if he were really willing to just turn the corner.


BASH: Now, whether the fact the two candidates were here is by coincidence, that is still up for debate. But certainly not up for debate is why they were both here.

These numbers show it. The last presidential race, President Bush lost by 4,144 votes. That's an average of two votes per precinct. And while Senator Kerry was up after the caucuses in the polls, now it's a dead heat.

Davenport, in particularly, the city, did go for Al Gore pretty big in 2000. He won by 14 percent. But both sides say that this is a key swing area.

It's not just about the fact this is a key swing area, this town is about 100,000 people. But the local media market is huge. It's about the third largest in the region. That is why these campaigns are here frequently. They want to get that local coverage. Now, Senator Kerry's event here was about fiscal responsibility, hitting the president on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KERRY: We are now almost $5 trillion-plus in debt. The debt of our country is growing. We have deficits as far out as we can see.

We just announced the largest deficit in history. We have lost in the last four years 1.8 million private sector jobs in America, 25,000 of them right here in Iowa.


BASH: And this event here was with some local business leaders, also some CEOs that they brought in.

The message of the day from the Kerry campaign is that they have some 200 CEOs they say have signed on to his campaign, trying to bolster his credentials with the business community. Republicans shot back that, if you look at the list, there are some well-known Democrats on the list, like Vernon Jordan, even Hillary Clinton's press secretary. One Bush aide said that's like them putting Ari Fleischer on their list -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Dana Bash spending some time in Davenport. Thanks very much.

Well, President Bush made no mention of Senator Kerry's appearance when he spoke to his supporters at his rally along the Mississippi River. Bush spent much of his speech defending his handling of the nation's economy and describing how his policies have benefited people in Iowa.


BUSH: Iowa has added more than 11,000 jobs over the past year. Because we acted, Iowa's unemployment rate now is 4.3 percent.


BUSH: When it comes to creating jobs for American workers, we are turning the corner and we're not going back.


WOODRUFF: From Iowa, Bush headed to Minnesota, where two more rallies are planned today. We'll have more on the president's day later in the show.

Well, today's dueling events offered a chance for Bush and Kerry supporters to cross paths directly. But that's already been happening in some places. Our Bruce Morton reports that hecklers are beginning to make their voices heard along the campaign trail.


KERRY: And I'm proud to be here. I'm proud to hear the voices of democracy. Sometimes they're a little loud, but that's the nature of democracy. And we welcome it. We welcome it. BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's that time of year, interest in the presidential race growing, hecklers turning up at the rallies. How to respond? One good way, let your guys out-shout the other bunch.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!

ANNOUNCER: Teresa Heinz Kerry did a rift on that.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S WIFE: They want four more years of hell.

MORTON: And then she led the crowd in a Kerry chant.

HEINZ KERRY: Three more months! Three more months!

MORTON: Her husband loved it. Is there a better way to deal with hecklers? The Republicans are screening a lot of their events, admitting party members and backers. But demonstrations happen anyway next door.

AUDIENCE: Bush is a liar! Bush is a liar!

MORTON: Democratic events have been more open. Bigger crowds, but hecklers. You can try to ignore them.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't worry, they'll stop in a minute.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The one thing you don't want to do is lose your cool. Suddenly, then the focus becomes on the reaction or the overreaction, rather than on the heckler. And you know, people don't like hecklers, but people want to see their political leaders or the spouses of political leaders show that they can rise above the bad guys.

MORTON: With humor.

KERRY: We've got some young Republicans down here who came here to learn something today, and we're going to teach them a lot.

MORTON: With anger.

KERRY: I want to thank -- I want to thank George Bush for sending the goons here tonight to excite us to do a little more work. Thank you!

MORTON: In any case, it's all been fairly civil so far, unlike, say, in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, when about the only places President Lyndon Johnson could speak without being booed were military bases. So far this is a long way from that.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," it is no surprise that a nationwide poll finds a close race between Bush and Kerry. But the survey also found an interesting split in the nation's showdown states.

A Marist College poll shows John Kerry and George W. Bush separated by a single point, 45 percent to 44 percent. But in the 17 showdown states, where Bush and Kerry are spending most of their time and money, Kerry leading Bush by seven points, 49 to 42 percent.

A new poll in one of those battleground states, Arizona, appears to hold a little better news for the president. A survey by "The Arizona Republic" newspaper finds Bush with a slight edge over Kerry, 48 percent to 45 percent -- still within the margin of error. Bush held the same three-point edge in an Arizona poll taken seven weeks ago.

Republicans in Tennessee trying to block the only candidate who filed to run as a Republican in tomorrow's eighth district primary. The party did not plan to challenge long-time Democrat incumbent, John Tanner. But a real estate agent named James Hart decided to enter the race.

According to his Web site, Hart is a strong supporter of eugenics, which he describes as reducing the birth rates of what he calls "less favored races." The local GOP has condemned Hart's views and it has endorsed a write-on candidate.

Some members of Congress are giving up part of their summer vacations to hold hearings on anti-terrorism reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Coming up, I'll talk with a member, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who wants lawmakers to work even faster.

Also ahead, Dennis Hastert joins me to talk about his journey from high school coach to speaker of the House.

Plus, plans for a big-name concert tour where the music will go hand in hand with politics.

With 90 days left until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: Some lawmakers are changing their plans to be in Washington for hearings on the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for fighting terrorism. Members of the House Intelligence Committee met today. However, no specific bills were up for the committee's consideration. And that didn't sit well with its ranking Democratic member, Jane Harman of California.

When we spoke a short time ago, I noted that, despite her criticism, Republican committee chairman, Porter Goss, did call today's hearing, along with others scheduled this month.


HARMAN: And he's called one hearing each Wednesday the month of August, but they are not directly related to acting on the 9/11 Commission recommendations. He said himself this morning that we've had 62 hearings open and closed in the House Intelligence Committee this year.

The subjects we deal with all relate to the performance of the intelligence community and the funding of the intelligence community. And I think we're ready, even past ready to move legislation. A bill that I authored with eight others in the House is almost identical to the 9/11 recommendations, and it's been sitting in our committee for four months.

WOODRUFF: But the Speaker of the House -- the Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, has said, yes, there should be movement, but it should be deliberate and not rushed. Condoleeza Rice, the president's National Security Advisor, says we're talking about pretty fundamental changes here.

HARMAN: You bet we're talking about fundamental changes. We're operating with a 1947 business model. That's when the director of Central Intelligence apparatus was set up to fight the communist menace which we defeated in 1989.

That's when we should have changed this 15 years ago. We're already 15 years late, and we have had the 9/11 Commission, before it the Senate Intelligence Committee, before that the 37-member bicameral joint inquiry into 9/11, lots of outside commissions, Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor, telling us what we need to do. And I'm ready to do it.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying, then, that the Republicans in the Congress, as well as President Bush, are not taking the 9/11 Commission recommendations seriously enough?

HARMAN: A lot of talk this morning about how great the recommendations are. A lot of talk about that from the president. Where's the beef? Talk is not action. The 9/11 families, the public, and all of us who want to be safer in the future deserve action.

WOODRUFF: All right. I want to ask you, also, Congresswoman Harman, about the terror alerts this week in New York, New Jersey, and here in Washington.

At first we were told they were based on current information. Then yesterday it was reported they were based on information three or four years old. Now today, we're hearing, no, it's different new information. Are you satisfied the government isn't overreacting?

HARMAN: Well, that's always a hard call. I want the government to take the necessary steps to keep us safe. The good news is this is a regional warning. We have more specific information. And so in this region, we are taking steps.

I'm not upset about old information corroborated by new information. But I think the way the government rolled this out was poor. People are suspicious now that they learn a lot of this was based on -- on old information.

It was handled badly. We need a lot of work on our threat warning system. People are still not getting information about what to look for and what to do, and there's this danger of threat fatigue, which is a real danger. And then we will be even more vulnerable, which is obviously not what we want.

WOODRUFF: Well, the Governor -- former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, says flatly in an interview today -- he's quoted as saying he thinks the Bush administration is manipulating the release of information in order to affect the president's campaign.

HARMAN: Well, I don't really want to comment on what Governor Dean said. I am just saying as a customer of classified intelligence I think there are reasons to be concerned about the subject -- the substance of the warning. But the way it was rolled out leads to questions about the timing of it.

WOODRUFF: Last quick question. The polls show President Bush leading John Kerry when it comes to who could better handle terrorism. Can John Kerry catch up in that department?

HARMAN: I think we still have 95 days to go. People are forming impressions I think for the first time of the Kerry-Edwards team.

I was very impressed by John Kerry's speech at the convention. He was, by my likes, a very confident commander-in-chief. And I think that that image will take hold, and I think people will change their impressions of him over time. And I predict a very close election, but I predict a Kerry-Edwards victory.


WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Jane Harman, she is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, we're going to hear perhaps another side of that from House speaker, Dennis Hastert, also about his new book.

And the stars are lining up in the presidential race. A look at political activism in the music world when we return.


WOODRUFF: Some of the biggest names in the music industry are taking to the political stage in this year's battle for the White House. And while there's nothing unusual about music stars being politically active, that activism appears to be much more intense this year.

Here now, CNN entertainment correspondent, Sibila Vargas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks and R.E.M. -- just some of the rockers joining forces in an effort to oust President Bush.

In what's being called the Vote for Change tour, the Boss and about two dozen artists are taking to the road in key electoral battleground states in hopes that their music can sway undecided voters to join their cause.

MIKE MILLS, R.E.M. BASSIST: The fact is it is a Vote for Change tour. We want a new administration in the White House, and this is the best way we can think of to do it. Nothing like this has ever really been done before, and it seems like it's got to have some kind of positive effect

VARGAS: To some, the tour may recall the mobilization within the rock world during the Vietnam War, when activist artists, such as Bob Dylan, used the power of their music to energize the anti-war movement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think what we're seeing is an extremely high level of participation by artists, primarily rock artists, that started with the war in Iraq.

VARGAS: The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Eyed Peas were just two of the prominent musical groups present at the Democratic National Convention. And when it comes to celebrity endorsements, Kerry seems to have the edge.

But President Bush has found support in country and Christian artists. Ricky Martin and Jessica Simpson have previously loaned their support to the president. And with the Republican National Convention fast approaching, some feel it's just a matter of time before the commander-in-chief unveils his musical counter-attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just haven't seen the Bush camp really push that button yet. And I'm sure we'll see some -- some artists come out for Bush. Perhaps not in as strong numbers, but they'll be there.

VARGAS (on camera): Meanwhile, the Vote for Change tour presented by MoveOn PAC kicks off October 1. Proceeds will benefit the Democratic political organization America Coming Together.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Hollywood.


WOODRUFF: CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" with me now to talk more about these musical stars and their political activandalism.

In fact, Ron, you spent some time yesterday with Bruce Springsteen and some of these other stars. Lucky you.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "L.A. TIMES": Yes. It was quite a day.

WOODRUFF: Let's go back to the basic question, though. It's not the first time that entertainment stars have gotten involved. What's different about this effort?

BROWNSTEIN: In fact, you know, since the 1920s, there's been interaction between celebrities and politics. This, though, is an extraordinarily ambitious effort, Judy. And perhaps one of the most ambitious efforts that ever have been launched by entertainers of any sort to influence a presidential campaign.

What they're doing is not what you typically see in this case, a bunch of musicians coming together in New York or L.A. or some other big city for a single, one or two big concerts to raise money. They are launching what is, in effect, six simultaneous tours aimed directly at battleground states over a single week.

And each night, beginning October 1 in Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Michigan, the goal is to have six shows blanketing the state from all of these artists in cities large and small, including many of the swing communities that both President Bush and John Kerry are campaigning in. And it really is an extraordinary effort.

WOODRUFF: These artists not worried about hurting their own CD sales? Because some of the people that like their music may not like their candidate.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. And they -- and they talk about that.

I mean, I think they are expecting a certain amount of backlash and turmoil over this, because obviously audiences for these musicians, as you suggest, extend beyond one political community. Bruce Springsteen said to me that "I have spent 25 years hopefully building up credibility and capital with my audience." And he felt this was a time to spend it.

What's extraordinary about Springsteen, of course, is that he has never taken this overt a step to involve himself in partisan politics, despite requests going back many years. And it's a statement, really, of how much passion this election is inspiring on both sides.

WOODRUFF: Ron, we hear so much about the so-called cultural divide in this country. And already, we've heard the Republicans saying -- in fact, President Bush himself last week talked about, you know, the Democrats, they have Hollywood values. He happened to be in Springfield, Missouri, and he said, "I think Springfield represents American values."

Could we see more of that...

BROWNSTEIN: I think we will. And that was extraordinary.

President Bush does not do that. He does not talk -- he does not targeted sort of the way Bob Dole did in 1996, or say a Bill Bennett. He has not targeted Hollywood much throughout his presidency. I remember interviewing him on the eve of the Democratic convention in 2000, where he said he did not like to point fingers in that way as president.

I think it is a sign in the same way that these endorsements of John Kerry, or at least this effort on behalf of removing President Bush is, of how deep the cultural impact is in this election.

I mean, we are in a period where the electorate divides more along cultural than economic lines, and you see each side bringing out symbols. I'm sure there will be some for President Bush from the country-western, NASCAR, that reaffirm, really, their commitment to their piece of the red-blue divide.

WOODRUFF: So, we could hear more from the Bush campaign about that. How does President Bush match this? I mean, are there stars at this level that he can roll out?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I don't think he can match this kind of popular music mega-tonnage, really, in terms of people selling things. But he has been a very shrewd practitioner of cultural politics himself.

NASCAR drivers, I'm sure, country music stars, even I read that he's going to be appearing Friday night on an hour-long bass fishing documentary at a time when he doesn't really give a lot of interviews. I mean, he is very good at sending signals to his side of the cultural divide that he shares their values.

And as you saw in Missouri, he may be more overt about doing that. But this really is an extraordinary effort on the other side that will not only attempt to raise money, but influence votes. I mean, these artists are going to be giving interviews as they're out there in these markets, large and small.

The names of everyone who buys tickets will be captured by, their PAC, which is one of the largest interest groups on the Democratic side, already 2.5 million members. And the money will go to America Coming Together to form the "get out the vote" and the media effort. So it really is, I think, a synthesized and integrated effort to have a big bang on this election.

WOODRUFF: Springsteen, that's a big bang...

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, right there.

WOODRUFF: ... by himself. OK. Ron, thank you very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, all four members of the Republican and Democratic tickets are on the road today. We'll get a snapshot of the race and of the polls in just a minute.

Also ahead, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert stops by to talk politics and about the lessons he's learned in 40 years of coaching and politics.


ANNOUNCER: A close call in Iowa. President Bush and Senator Kerry were just blocks away from a campaign clash. Why is the Hawkeye State so important for the two candidates?

Terror threats and the campaign: are both sides trying to use the latest warnings for political advantage?

She usually reports the news, but last night our Judy Woodruff was news.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Tonight we have a brand new segment. I don't think we've ever done this before. It's called "CNN Startled News Anchor of the Night." It's a very rarified segment, and it features Judy Woodruff...

ANNOUNCER: Stick around for the story.


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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. We begin the second half hour of INSIDE POLITICS with live pictures from Le Sueur, Minnesota, President Bush's second stop of the day. The president's speaking in one of the battleground states in the upper Midwest, Minnesota.

Earlier today, he was in eastern Iowa. That's the spot that we've been reporting on all day. The duel in Davenport featured both the president and Senator John Kerry making simultaneous pitches for voter support in another crucial election battleground. Two candidates, two events, one city, all at the same time.

CNN's Jill Dougherty is traveling with the president, and she has more on the candidates and their Iowa appearences.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Bush campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi river. And just down the street, about four blocks, a five-minute walk away, his challenger, John Kerry.

Scott McClellan, the president's press secretary, saying on the plane coming in here that this is not the first time the two campaigns have crossed paths and it won't be the last.

Why Iowa? It's literally neck and neck. Back in 2000, Gore won it but barely. And the latest poll is showing 47 percent for Bush, 47 percent for Kerry. There are very few swing voters left in this country and certainly in Iowa. And the president made a very direct appeal for anyone who is still sitting on the fence.

BUSH: Now when he you're convincing them who to vote for, don't overlook discerning Democrats and wise independents. When you get them headed toward the poll, nudge them our way.

DOUGHERTY: Recalling the last four years, President Bush said, quote, "We've been through a lot," and he claims he has delivered. He also touched on the two themes that constantly intertwine in this campaign and that is terrorism and the economy. He said, on the economy, "We are turning a corner and we are not going back."

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Davenport, Iowa.


WOODRUFF: While the president rallied the faithful outdoors, Senator Kerry was indoors talking economics with a group of business leaders. Kerry used his appearance to criticize Bush for mismanaging the economy, citing an increase in the budget deficit and a failure to lower the cost of healthcare.


KERRY: They've had four years. They have no plan, not only to provide coverage to the people who don't have it, which is important to America, but to lower the cost for everybody else. In the past three years, health premiums have gone up $2,600.


WOODRUFF: Just a short time ago, I talked about the increasingly heated race for Iowa with Mike Glover, political writer for the Associated Press.

I started by pointing out that both Bush and Kerry are predicting that they will win Iowa, both of them. And I asked Mike Glover how the race looks from his perspective right now.


MIKE GLOVER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It looks like one of them's going to be right, Judy. And I don't know which one. This state is a battleground state; it's a dead heat state. Polls have shown they're in a virtual tie here and polls have shown not a lot of movement in that over the past few weeks.

This is a state that went Democratic by 4,000 votes in the last election. And there's no indication it's anything other than just a dead heat, battleground, flip-of-the-coin-on-November-2nd state.

WOODRUFF: What are the forces that have changed on the ground in the state since 2000, Mike?

GLOVER: One of the forces that changed -- it's interesting that both of them are in the eastern portion of the state, in Davenport, in Dubuque. There's are old line manufacturing blue-collar sections of the state that have been hit pretty hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs, meat-packing jobs, farm implement manufacturing jobs. Davenport has suffered a lot of losses. Dubuque has suffered a lot of losses. There are a lot of blue-collar people in this portion of the state who have felt the impact of the recession over the last four years. Compounding the issue, making it even a little bit more complicated, this is a very heavily Catholic portion of the state, with a reputation for being sort of a conservative blue-collar Catholic region.

It's a very competitive swing state that's got, sort of, competing forces working on the electorate, the social conservative forces, blue-collar Catholics, and the economic forces of job losses in manufacturing.

WOODRUFF: So, it sounds like you're saying the economic problems would work to John Kerry's benefit?

GLOVER: The economic problems absolutely work to John Kerry's benefit. Davenport, down in southeast Iowa, around Fort Madison (INAUDIBLE) and Burlington, where John Kerry's heading from here today have all suffered serious losses in the manufacturing sector.

Farm implement manufacturing, meat-packing, what used to be the traditional middle-class blue-collar jobs have drained away from here fairly heavily. That works in John Kerry's favor. The sort of social conservative, blue-collar Catholic democratic value thing, that works in President Bush's favor, which makes this portion of the state, the most populous, by the way, a very competitive region.

WOODRUFF: And Mike, is there something to stir up those Catholic voters who might be more inclined to vote Bush?

GLOVER: There is. The abortion issue appears to me to have faded a bit. A lot of Republicans are trying to get the gay marriage issue fired up to move those voters in this portion of the state. We'll see how that plays out.

WOODRUFF: What do these candidates need to do, Mike, between now and November 2nd to push it over the top for themselves?

GLOVER: I think right now, Judy, what we're at, is we're at an organizational game. Both candidates are pretty good at getting their message out there, both candidates have identified a base. I think both candidates have identified a strategy for appealing to that base.

It's a turnout game now. It's down to where we've got about equal numbers for each candidate, a very small number of uncommitted voters, and it's who is going to be able to get their base out to the polls on November 2nd. It may be all mechanics from here out.

WOODRUFF: And at this point, Mike, how do you rate their organizations?

GLOVER: Right now, I give John Kerry an edge. He's got some of the best organizers I've ever met, not working for his campaign but working for some of the affiliate groups, the America Coming Together, the There's some awfully good organizers spending an awful lot of time trying to turn out that Democratic base vote. Republicans are trying to match it. But my sense as of right now is they haven't matched it.


WOODRUFF: Mike Glover of the Associated Press. He knows Iowa politics.

Well, how about this for timing? Three Davenport, Iowa, banks were robbed during the Bush and Kerry campaign events. Were the robbers hoping that the city police would be shorthanded while the two campaign events were taking place?

Well, Davenport's police captain, David Struckman, says that patrols were at normal levels while the president and Senator Kerry were in town. Police say they believe the robberies were timed to occur during the two candidate's events, but they may not necessarily be coordinated. Fascinating.

Presidential running mates also out on the campaign trail today. Vice President Dick Cheney is in Missouri this afternoon, where he held a town hall meeting near Kansas City. Earlier today, he campaigned in Wisconsin and he has a stop later this evening in Colorado.

John Edwards arrives in Memphis, Tennessee, this hour, where he's scheduled to tour the National Civil Rights Museum. Earlier, he attended a rally in Arkansas, where his son, Jack, as he has done before, threatened to steal the show.

Well, the war on terror is now a political issue in the presidential race here in the United States. That fact was made clear this week by the latest reported terrorist threats. Here now, CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The War in Iraq has always been a political issue. Now, terror, too, has become politics. The administration says be afraid, be very afraid.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not yet safe. Threats are still out there.

SCHNEIDER: The homeland security secretary's message was specific and sobering.

TOM RIDGE, SECY. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information.

SCHNEIDER: Many Democrats were alarmed by the timing of the alert, right after John Kerry's triumphant convention, based on intelligence that was several years old. They saw politics. But Kerry couldn't say that without sounding cynical.

KERRY: I haven't suggested that, and I won't suggest that.

SCHNEIDER: So others said it, with or without Kerry's approval. HOWARD DEAN, FMR. VERMONT GOVERNOR: It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics.

SCHNEIDER: No fear of sounding cynical here.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": With the Democratic party now in the spotlight, many people are wondering -- yes, oh, this just in. I'm sorry. "Terror warning." OK.


OK, I guess we'll have to stop. We'll have to stop talking about the Democrats.

SCHNEIDER: The administration was shocked -- shocked -- to hear that politics might be going on.

RIDGE: We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security.


RIDGE: The kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats, too, can turn terror into politics. They can accuse the White House of fear mongering.

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: A true leader inspires hope and vanquishes fear. This administration does neither. Instead, it brings fear.

SCHNEIDER: They can argue that Democrats would do better.

KERRY: And I believe that I can fight a more effective war on terror than George Bush is. I know I can fight a more effective war.


KERRY: I will build and lead strong alliances.

SCHNEIDER: And they can charge that the administration's policies, like the war in Iraq, have made the U.S. more vulnerable.

KERRY: I believe this administration in its policies is actually encouraging the recruitment of terrorists.


SCHNEIDER: This week, a barrier was broken. The war on terror is now officially a political issue. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Sea change.


WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider. Thank you very much.

Well, a quarter century ago, Dennis Hastert was a high school wrestling coach. These days, he pursues a different kind of contact sport, politics. The speaker of the house joins me shortly.

Also ahead, an update on the search for an opponent for one of the Democratic Party's rising stars.

Plus, the results of some interesting summertime primaries and elections. With 26 days left until the Republican National Convention, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: This hour, Republican Party leaders in Illinois are trying to settle on a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Their original nominee, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race after a media firestorm over his divorce records.

Both finalists are African-American. Andrea Grubb Barthwell is a physician who worked in the Bush administration's drug policy control office. The other finalist is a two-time presidential candidate, Alan Keyes. His home state is Maryland, but he's apparently willing to move to Illinois to make the race.

Whoever the Republicans pick will face State Senator Barack Obama, whose keynote speaker wowed the Democratic convention last week. We'll have more INSIDE POLITICS in 90 seconds.


WOODRUFF: A named Dennis Hastert is out with a new book on the story of his rise from coaching high school wrestling to speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Appropriately it is titled "Speaker: Lessons from 40 years in Coaching and Politics." And he's here with me now to share some of those lessons.

Mr. Speaker, very good to have you with us.

DENNIS HASTERT, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Judy, nice to be with you.

WOODRUFF: We've got the book right here.


WOODRUFF: You are the second person in line to become president if something were to happen to the president. And you found out about that right after 9/11. Tell that story. It's in the book.

HASTERT: Well, after not only 9/11, but right after the campaign, with the hanging chad campaign, we were at a deadlock. And the problem with the deadlock is that, you know, if the Supreme Court hadn't made a decision and it was carried out, I would have been a temporary president of the United States. It gets your attention, sobers you up real quick.

WOODRUFF: What did you think when they talked to you about that -- it was during the recount?

HASTERT: Well, at first, you know, I didn't even want to talk about it, because I didn't think it was ever going to happen. Then, as time dragged out and dragged out, you know, first of all, I tried to keep myself up to speed, have CIA reports, know what's going on in the world, but then, you really have to focus.

And I thought, well, if I'm going to have to do it, I'm going to have to do it. But you also leave the speakership when you do that, so...

WOODRUFF: And that's not something you wanted to too?

HASTERT: That's not -- I really didn't want to do that.

WOODRUFF: Dennis Hastert, Mr. Speaker, you have kept, I think, what most people would agree, is a fairly low profile, compared certainly to your predecessor, Newt Gingrich, a lot more attention seems to go at times to Tom DeLay, who is the majority leader. Is this by choice, and do you think it's been the right decision?

HASTERT: Well, you know, I think, if I have to go out and talk about a position of our party, to move an issue forward, I'll do that. I've not been reticent to do that. But I watched Newt and I served in Newt's leadership for four years. And Newt was on TV all the time. He became a lightning rod. And it really hindered our ability to move our agenda forward.

So I think I made that decision when I became speaker. I didn't choose -- you know, I wasn't -- campaign for speaker, it just happened. But I decided what I wanted is to make sure the House -- I was there to make the House could run, that we could move legislation, that we could bring people together. And I didn't have to be out in the headlines all the time.

It was kind of an old coaching philosophy of mine. I feel a good coach makes sure that he puts his best and brightest players out, and make sure that the team comes around him, so that they could have success and everybody has success. The coach doesn't need to be in the headline, neither the speaker.

WOODRUFF: It's a philosophy of leadership that a lot of team members appreciate. Let me ask you, Mr. Speaker, about a current issue, and that is the 9/11 commission recommendations.

A few minutes ago on the program, we ran an interview I did today with Congresswoman Jane Harman. She's a ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. In essence, she's saying, "Why not move more quickly with legislation?" She said we've had 62 days of hearings this year. We've done the work. We're ready to move to reform the intelligence community. What's the hold up?

HASTERT: Well, actually, there's no hold up. I've asked all the committees of jurisdiction to come to Washington. They're having 15 hearings in the month of August. Before you move any type of legislation -- now, remember, this is the 9/11 recommendations. You need to hear the recommendations. You need to bring in the expert witnesses, expert testimony. And we are moving so that when members come back in September and October, we can move the legislation.

WOODRUFF: She says, in essence, that the proposed legislation's been written mirrors what the commission is recommending.

HASTERT: Well, there's different points of view. Jane Harman has a piece of legislation. Porter Goss has a piece of legislation. We need to meld those things. And you know, I don't think you ought to do this in a knee-jerk way, but I think you need to do it as quickly as possible.

We have taken the extraordinary step of bringing our committees back. They're having hearings. The Intelligence Committee is having a hearing, I think, as we speak. And we're getting that work done. And we're going to do it right.

WOODRUFF: Let me also ask you about the terror alerts that were raised over the weekend. Much discussion now about whether there's politics involved here. In the beginning, it sounded like this was based on fresh information, and then we find out some of it's based on three or four-year-old information, and then maybe new information.

People are beginning to ask, you know, can we really believe what government tells us? Congresswoman Harman said to me we have to worry about terror -- what did she say -- terror weariness, people just sort of burning out on hearing about terror threats and not taking them seriously.

HASTERT: Well, it's interesting. I spent the last couple of days in New York City. People in New York City understand what terror is. They've lived through it, of the thousands of people that were killed in New York City, almost everyone has a relative or an acquaintance or some -- a friend or a neighbor that died in that fiasco. Those people are focused and they understand.

And you know, the New Yorkers are going back to work everyday, but they're just a little bit more cautious, and they'll go through those extraordinary things. You know, before 9/11, America never thought terror was going to happen in this country.

It was something that was going to happen in the Middle East or something that happened in Northern Ireland. But until we saw the smoke and so we smelled that and actually witnessed it, did we become believers that terror was going to happen here.

What we have to do now is move forward on that information. You know, we knew that the al Qaeda had been planning something. They would like to disrupt our election process. I think they were certainly inspired by what happened in Spain. And you know, there's a consequence to that elections.

So we knew that there are people in place, they are talking about this, from the intelligence we have, that there are things moving, and I can't say much more than that. Then we had this intelligence that came off a computer in Pakistan. Granted, some of that information was old information, but it was new information us to. And other information that's out there...

WOODRUFF: It was somewhat confusing in the way it was rolled out.

HASTERT: Right. And so when you start to put the pieces together, it's not one segment of information here or one segment of information there, but when you bring that information together, it shows there's a real caution. And for those four cities that have those institutions, we'd better be careful.

WOODRUFF: We hear you. He is Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the house. The book is "Speaker." Thank you very much for talking with us.

HASTERT: Thank you. Nice to be with you. Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, the voters in the state of Missouri have spoken up on a divisive issue. Coming up, a ban on same-sex marriage was just one of several attention-getters on the ballot yesterday in the Show-Me State. Primaries took place in some other states as well. And election round-up when we come back.


WOODRUFF: Voters in several states took part in primary elections yesterday. And much of the attention was focused on Missouri, where the issue of gay marriage was on the ballot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The jury came out loud and clear that marriage is important.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): And so it did. Voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved a measure banning same-sex marriage in the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The threat is that we will be using our constitution to limit the rights of a group of Missourians for the first time ever, which is absolutely wrong.

WOODRUFF: It's the first time voters anywhere have tackled the issue this year, but it won't be the last. Up to a dozen states have similar measures on their ballots in the coming months.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MISSOURI STATE AUDITOR: Tonight is the beginning of the Missouri comeback.

WOODRUFF: And it was for Missouri state auditor, Claire McCaskill, who handily defeated Governor Bob Holden in the Democratic primary, the first time in a decade a sitting governor anywhere has lost in a primary. So, big night for the Show-Me State. And there's more: the Carnahan political dynasty continues as Russ Carnahan, son of the late governor, Mel Carnahan and former Senator Jean Carnahan won the Democratic primary for Dick Gephardt's House seat. And Russ's sister, Robin Carnahan, advanced to the general election in the battle for Missouri secretary of state.

And elsewhere in the country...


WOODRUFF: ... not good enough. John Ramsey, father of murdered child beauty queen, Jon-Benet Ramsey, lost his bid for a seat in the Michigan state legislature.


(on camera): INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: Covering politics can have its unexpected moments. Take last week for instance. During part of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention, a ship announced its presence in the Boston Harbor at just the wrong time. And it made for some laughs last night on David Letterman.


LETTERMAN: Tonight, we have a brand-new segment. I don't think we've ever done this before. It's called CNN Startled News Anchor of the Night. It's a very rarefied segment, and it features Judy Woodruff. Watch and listen closely, the CNN Startled News Anchor of the Night. Take a look.

WOODRUFF: Call them battleground or showdown states, they are already on top of the travel itinerary...


... a boat in the harbor.



LETTERMAN: This just in. Judy Woodruff is good looking, isn't she?


WOODRUFF: We think he's cute, too. And by the way, my producer made me run that piece.

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


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