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Kerry Pitches Prescription Drug Plan to Seniors; New Bush Ad Evokes 9/11; Nuclear Waste Plans Could Affect Nevada Vote

Aired August 11, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: He has the credentials, but is the president's pick for CIA chief independent?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We have to rely on that person to give the unvarnished facts.

ANNOUNCER: Democrats are raising questions.

In Colorado and in Georgia...

REP. DENISE L. MAJETTE (D), GEORGIA: We won this election one vote at a time.

ANNOUNCER: The field is set, but will November bring a Senate shake-up? The Republican and Democratic campaign committee honchos square off.

His constituents are happy, his poll numbers soaring, but will any of Arnold Schwarzenegger's glow rub off on his party standard bearer?


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

CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley sitting in for Judy.

The president's new CIA director nominee gave up his day job today, a move aimed at cutting off a potential line of criticism -- not that it worked. Some Democrats are still questioning whether Congressman Porter Goss is too partisan for the post.

Here's our Congressional correspondent Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after his nomination to head the CIA, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss gave up the gavel at a hearing on the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

REP. PORTER GOSS, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I believe it's appropriate to relinquish my position as chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the pendency of the confirmation process of that nomination effective immediately.

JOHNS: Some at today's hearing, including the top Democrat on the 9/11 Commission, sounded like Goss was shoe-in.

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: I just want to say that all of us should recognize that he takes the helm of this great agency of government at an exceedingly challenging time, when the intelligence community has been under stress and a very difficult period.

JOHNS: But Goss still has to be confirmed by the Senate, where Democrats are threatening tough hearings. They say he's too close to the White House and too partisan.

LEVIN: It's the independence and objectivity issue, and whoever is appointed for whatever administration, we have to rely on that person to give the unvarnished facts.

JOHNS: However, Democrats are reluctant to flat-out oppose the nomination, fearing they'll be labelled soft on national security. Two years ago before the mid-term elections, Republican targeted Democrats who raised concerns about aspects of the new Homeland Security Department.

Some Democrats are trying to shift the focus away from the Goss nomination and back to the 9/11 Commission Report. Democrats charge the Republican leadership and the administration are dragging their feet on the recommendations.

REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER (D), CALIFORNIA: It's vitally important that we stand behind this report, that we begin to move momentum.

JOHNS: Congressional Republicans and the administration pushed back.

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: So, the president certainly has not been lollygagging around in regard to his responsibility.

STEPHEN CAMBONE, UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We're moving with all the deliberate speed this requires, with the kind of hard work that you would and the American people, I think, would appreciate.


JOHNS (on camera): Democrats want a special session of Congress during the August recess to work on the recommendations. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called that, in a statement today, "a cheap excuse for a real security agenda." Candy?

CROWLEY: Joe Johns. And I bet you thought it'd be an easy August. Thanks a lot, Joe.

Now, we turn a corner to the president's recent use of that phrase to describe the state of the economy, but Democrats are trying to make sure Bush's words come back to haunt him.

Our White House correspondent Dana Bash has more on that and whether it's prompting Bush to change his stump speech -- Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, you know, the last day of the Democratic convention, Bush aides started to call reporters to pitch to them what the president's new themes would be, coming back out on the trail.

That he would be talking about moving America forward. The "Heart and Soul" tour -- that was on his bus. And that he would have a new refrain in his stump speech, and that is we're turning the corner and we're not turning back. And he said it over and over again.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to improving America's public schools, we are turning the corner and we are not turning back.

When it comes to fighting the threats of our world and spreading peace, we're turning the corner and we're not turning back.

When it comes to spreading the peace, we're turning the corner and we're not turning back.


BASH: Now, CNN's polling and even some internal Bush polls, according to a senior aide, shows that Americans really aren't satisfied with the way things are going -- that right track, wrong track question. Even close to 60% say that they're not satisfied.

And Democrats did their own poll on this phrase, we're told, that showed that it really was incredibly unpopular, so they seized on it. John Kerry was out on the stump talking about it, trying to turn the tables, if you will, on the president using this phrase right back at him.

Democrats did, as well, and they sent surrogates into the states where the president was using the phrase to try to counter the idea. And even today, the Democratic National Committee released a Web ad using the phrase.


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

We're turning that corner and we're not going back.

We're turning the corner.

Turning the corner.


BASH: Now, Bush aides do privately tell CNN now that they do not expect to hear the president saying this very much, if at all anymore. We noticed looking at the president's speeches, that he's only used the phrase once this week.

Essentially, Bush aides privately again saying they get it. They get that it was probably a mistake to have the president use this phrase. They even admit that it does expose some of the internal debate -- the internal debate about the challenge that they have, being an incumbent president, talking about the fact that he understands things aren't necessarily as good as they should be, but wanting him to have an optimistic tone.

One aide even said you can make people believe something and you can try to make them believe something as much as possible, but if they don't believe it, saying it over and over again probably won't change it -- Candy?

CROWLEY: CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash. Thanks, Dana.

A political first to report from Georgia: Denise Majette now holds the distinction of being the only black candidate to ever win a party's Senate nomination in the Peach State.

The one-term Congresswoman defeated businessman Cliff Oxford by 50,000 votes in yesterday's Democratic primary runoff. She now faces Republican Congressman Johnny Isakson, who is better financed and heavily favored to win the seat, now held by retiring Democratic Senator Zell Miller.

In Colorado, beer tycoon Pete Coors has another title: Republican Senate nominee. After yesterday's primary, Coors and Democrat Ken Salazar are vying for the seat now held by Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

CNN's Chris Lawrence has our report.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tuesday's Colorado primaries produced overwhelming victories for the favorites in each party. Now, both campaigns get set for what figures to be a close race for the Senate, a battle between the Rocky Mountain State's top lawyer and its most famous beer baron.


LAWRENCE: Republican Peter Coors carries one of the state's most recognizable names, thanks to his Coors Brewery business, but the novice politician is facing Democrat Ken Salazar, the attorney general who's won two state-wide elections with the ability to attract swing voters.

KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE: And that's an America where we have economic security for all, where we create jobs for people here in America. LAWRENCE: The candidates are already setting a pace for the most expensive state-wide election ever in Colorado. But the votes are that valuable, with both national parties calling the state a battleground.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The winner in Colorado could well determine which party controls the Senate. And if you control the Senate, you help control the agenda...

LAWRENCE: Political Analyst Stu Rothenberg says the tight Senate race in Colorado is like those in Alaska and North Carolina. The state leans Republican, but Salazar is a moderate Democrat, that rare candidate who can entice voters from the opposing party.

ROTHENBERG: And clearly the Democrats think it's competitive and think they have a chance there, not only at the presidential level, but also at the Senate race.

LAWRENCE: Rothenberg says Peter Coors' support for lowering the legal drinking age cost him some votes in the primary. But it's too late to take it back before the November election.

COORS: You know, straight talks and honest answers is what I will base my whole program on.

LAWRENCE: A program Coors hopes will carry him all the way to Washington.


(on camera): Now, most analysts say this race is a true toss up. The state leans a little bit Republican, which helps Coors, but he's got his own challenge now to make the race more partisan and ideological without becoming so hard edge that it turns off those same moderate Republican voters he won over in the primary -- Candy?

CROWLEY: Thanks so much.

Now, we want to bring in the Senators who are coordinating their party's battles for control of that chamber: Republican George Allen of Virginia and Democrat Jon Corzine of New Jersey. Thank you, gentlemen, both for joining us.

I want to take a look -- I want to take a look first at some graphics we have, just to kind of set the scene for our viewers. And when we look at the approximately third of the Senate that is now running in this upcoming election, there's probably about 10 seats that are looking like either they will switch or they're likely to switch or they're toss ups.

First to you, Senator Corzine, which state worries you the most?

SEN. JON CORZINE (D-NJ), CHMN., DEM. SEN. CAMPAIGN CMTE.: Well, I think we have a real opportunity to take back the Senate. It's going to be a very close series of elections. The map's a little bit in favor of the Republicans, but we think we have the right people -- like Ken Salazar and Barack Obama and Tony Knowles -- who really, I think, are special people and they fit the states they run from.

And so, we think we're in very good shape to challenge in a lot of places that people wouldn't typically think we would. Colorado being a very clear example with Ken Salazar. We have the same situation with Brad Carson in Oklahoma and Erskine Bowles in North Carolina, Inez Tenenbaum in South Carolina. All of these are going to be very close races. But right now, if we went to the polls, we'd be back in the majority 51, 49.

Eighty-two days to go -- or 83 I saw in your graphic. I think it's going to be a very serious challenge, but the same issues that are talked about in the national election are going to cut to our advantage. The economy is weak, job growth is poor, there's a middle- class squeeze going on. A lot of states where these races are most competitive, have the weakest economies.

CROWLEY: Senator...

CORZINE: And I think people believe there's a lot to do with regard to Iraq, as well.

CROWLEY: Senator Allen, I'm assuming that you are going to take issue with if the vote were today, the Democrats would get the Senate back. Let me try the same questions with you.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA), CHMN., NATL. GOP SEN. CMTE.: Yes, and if the votes were yesterday in Colorado, Pete Coors got way more votes than did Salazar. The reality of it is the election is not today. But look at the reality, we have great candidates in these contested states. They have a message that invigorates and motivates the people in their states on issues such as: do you want your taxes raised or not; do you want true energy security so you're not so reliant on foreign oil.

And I'll tell you what, a lot of people care about values and the direction of this country, not just for the war on terrorism, but also values of the type of judges that ought to be given fair treatment and a fair up or down vote in the U.S. Senate.

And so if you look at the races, take these 10 key races, three of them, President Bush won those states, Alaska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma, by over 20. Three of them he won by plus 10, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. He won Louisiana by plus 7. Colorado looks good and so does Florida once we get through our primary. And we have great opportunities also in Washington State. So I'm very optimistic about our opportunities to pick up seats, reinforce and strengthen our majority and move America forward as opposed to the negative obstructionism.

CROWLEY: At least we've settled that you both are going to take control of the Senate. Let me ask you, Senator Corzine, do you think that national issues and the national ticket in particular are playing in these races or is it all-politics-is-local and there are other things going on? . CORZINE: Well, I think in Senate races it's a blend of those issues. Clearly the economy cuts across every part of our country and is a national issue. South Carolina, they have the highest unemployment rate in the country, they've lost over 100,000 jobs. People care about the economy and they care about the textile industry that has been blown away under this administration.

So some national issues play there. And it will be to our advantage to talk it in a national context. On the other hand, there are real local issues that come into play, tobacco in North Carolina is a big issues. And Erskine Bowles has been maybe one of the foremost outspoken people on the tobacco buyout arrangements.

And so I think that you get a blend of these issues. No one is going to win strictly on national posture, but they have to identify with those important issues. And everybody cares about our war in Iraq and the lost lives that we have in the war on terrorism.

CROWLEY: Senator Allen, I have got literally no time left. But I wanted to give you a quick shot at this. Do you want George Bush to come and stand beside all the Senate candidates that you have got out there? Or are there places where they're better off on their own?

ALLEN: Our candidates are happy to run with the president. You saw many Democrat candidates, especially from the South not even wanting to go the Democrat convention. And by the way, on the tobacco quota buyout, Richard Burr actually got it through, and has been a great, articulate leader in trying to keep politics out of that important issue.

CROWLEY: Senator George Allen, Republican of Virginia, Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey, thanks both for joining us.

CORZINE: Good to be here.

ALLEN: My pleasure.

CROWLEY: California snapshots just ahead. Is Governor Schwarzenegger still looking good to voters and what might that mean for President Bush?

Plus, a different take on the Asian-American vote in election 2004.

And find out what singer Neil Diamond has in common with President Bush.

With 19 days until the Republican National Convention, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


CROWLEY: We turn our focus to California and today's second edition of "Campaign News Daily." The Golden State has been a mother lode of campaign cash for both presidential candidates, especially John Kerry. According to "Political Money Line," Kerry has raised more than $23 million in California, that is the most any candidate has ever raised in any state. More than $47 million has been raised on Kerry's behalf in California, when you include the money raised by the party and those outside political groups known as 527s.

George Bush has brought in more than $17 million in California. The Bush campaign and the Republican Party combined have brought in about $32 million.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to fare well in a new survey of California voters, 65 percent say they approve of the way the governor is handling his job, 22 percent say they disapprove.

With me now to talk more about Golden State politics is Dick Rosengarten, the publisher of "California Political Week."

Dick, thank you so much for joining us.


CROWLEY: What we want to do is start out, he's a very popular guy right now.


CROWLEY: Do you think that any of that popularity rubs off on the Republican president?

ROSENGARTEN: Not really. George Bush is just not too terribly popular here in California. The same people who did the polling on Governor Schwarzenegger, Mervin Field and the Field organization, just came out with their poll here in California in terms of Kerry versus Bush. And unfortunately for the president, he's behind by about 11 or 12 points in that particular poll. Ditto the Survey USA poll and Public Policy Institute of California poll, all behind by 11, 12 points. So California difference is definitely blue, you know, in terms of...

CROWLEY: Yes. Absolutely. We always have this time in the campaign where we talk about who's pulled out of what state. Do you see any signs that President Bush is playing at all in California other than to raise money?

ROSENGARTEN: It's an ATM machine for him here. That's it. At this point, unless a miracle were to happen, California's just not in play for President Bush. This is 55 electoral votes for John Kerry at this point. Now it doesn't mean that they won't put any time out here, because if they abandon California all together, it could really hurt Bill Jones, the U.S. Senate candidate who is going up against Barbara Boxer, and might hurt some of their Republican down-ballot candidates.

So he might be coming out here -- you know, he's coming out here tomorrow. He's going to do the "LARRY KING" show here. John Kerry is just across town at Cal State, Dominguez Hills. So they're both in L.A. at the same time. But maybe one more time he'll come out here -- President Bush will come out here one more time. Kerry I think will come out here a bunch of times. You see Nevada, which you covered earlier, is just right next door to us, and that's a battleground state. So you know, it's just a hop, skip and jump and you're in California. Doesn't that make sense?

CROWLEY: All right. We seem to be having a lot of those. It does make sense. And it's always good for the Republican Party. You can't abandon them altogether out there in California.

ROSENGARTEN: No, you can't. You really can't.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you whether you see any signs -- there was also discussion earlier this month about whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would campaign for George Bush in other states. Has there been any movement on that?

ROSENGARTEN: I haven't heard of anything like that. But it's always possible. I mean, he's going to speak back at the convention. He's a very, very popular guy. You know, he's even getting -- 45 percent of the Democrats approve of the way he's handling his job. So it's very, very possible that he might campaign for the president in other states other than California.

CROWLEY: Dick Rosengarten, we always appreciate it when you're on. Come back and see us.

ROSENGARTEN: I sure will.

CROWLEY: African-American and Hispanic voters are courted heavily by the presidential campaigns. Leaders of a third group, Asian-Americans, say they're often left out of the national political discussion. When we return, Richard Quest hears from some Asian- Americans in the Pacific Northwest.


CROWLEY: They make up a sizable and growing slice of the American pie. Asian-Americans are a key voting bloc this year, but some Asian-Americans say their concerns are not being addressed. CNN's Richard Quest reports from Seattle where Asian-Americans are speaking about the issues and their place in the political spectrum.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are supermarkets and then there's Uwajimaya. I could be in Tokyo, or Seoul or Beijing. But this is Seattle's largest Asian food store selling to a growing Asian community.

TOMIO MORIGUCHI, CEO, UWAJIMAYA: We try to make our shop a one- stop shop for people especially the more recent immigrants from Asia for comfort level and for everything else. So we have American foods and a variety of Asian.

QUEST: Tomio Moriguchi who owns the shop is one of the 400,000 Asian-Americans living in this region. It's a number that has doubled in the past decade. In fact 7 percent of Washington state is classed as Asian/Pacific Americans. And in an election year, it's a sizable minority which presidential politicians do not seem to have fully tapped into. MORIGUCHI: I think they're doing as much as they should and a lot of it is lip service and I think also they really don't know how to address the Asian population. They haven't spent as much time to think this through as much as they probably should.

QUEST: Others are more concerned with general issues. Cathy Dong from Korea is choosing a mid-week TV treat.

CATHY DONG, ASIAN-AMERICAN: The sesame cookies and the almond cookies are very good.

QUEST: When it comes to choosing politicians, Cathy knows immigration and reuniting families are issues still need to be resolved.

DONG: I think the immigration has a major impact on the economy and just the social issues that affects Asian-Americans in particular.

So I think that is a very important issue and I think that will be something that many people will take into consideration when they go to vote.

QUEST: At the country's only Asian-American history museum in Seattle it is clear the immigration issue is one that has been at the core of the community for decades along with discrimination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does not matter how wealthy you are, how well educated you are, I'm a highly educated professional. You still feel the stings, you are not part of this country, you're not part of the Americas, people see you as a foreigner.

QUEST: In the end, because the Asian-American community is made up of so many different nations and interests, courting this vote is like trying to hit a moving target. For instance, what those from Taiwan want is different from Chinese Americans or Japanese Americans or those from Korea. What this means is for the political parties both Republican and Democrat, this is one minority that could well defy easy political definition. Richard Quest, CNN, Seattle.


CROWLEY: Just ahead, the president as rock star. The band AC/DC may be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Pensacola, Florida but President Bush is a crowd favorite as well. A look at who's the bigger draw when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


CROWLEY: Two different attractions and two different crowds, no doubt. But it looks like President Bush and the rock band AC/DC are popular draws for folks down in Pensacola, Florida. The president's rock star-like entrance yesterday at the Pensacola Civic Center thrilled the crowd which the "Pensacola News Journal" reports was the second largest ever in that arena. It was about the same size as a crowd that gathered to hear singer Neil Diamond but it was not the largest in that building. That honor goes to the throng that showed up for a performance by the ear-splitting Australian band AC/DC.

You learn so many things when you tune in to INSIDE POLITICS. And that is it for us today. I'm Candy Crowley. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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