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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Bush Vs. Kerry; Interviews with Marc Racicot, Donna Brazile, Jesse Jackson; Voting and the Evangelical Right

Aired September 7, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No matter how many times Senator Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush stays focused on his rival stands on Iraq, while Senator Kerry tries to change the subject.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "W" stands for wrong. Wrong directions, wrong choices, and it's time to put it right.

ANNOUNCER: They're back. With Election Day looming, Congress tackles its unfinished business with intelligence reform at the top of a lengthy list.

A double take on the Bush twins. Did Americans find their convention performance refreshing or embarrassing?

JENNA BUSH, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT BUSH: You know all those times when you're growing up and your parents embarrass you? Well, this is payback time on live TV.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Exactly eight weeks before the election, the presidential candidates are sharpening their lines of attack, essentially trying to hone their messages down to single buzz words. While John Kerry labels George W. Bush as wrong on issue after issue, the president continues to try to portray the senator as a serial flip-flopper.

We begin with Bush going after Kerry in the showdown state of Missouri. Here now, our White House correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, Bush aides have been down right giddy, really, over the past day since they have seen what they think is a new opening to hit John Kerry on Iraq because he struck a more defiant tone yesterday when he said that the war was the wrong war at the wrong time. Well, Republican opposition teams dug up a debate from the Democratic primaries where Senator Kerry said that he supported the decision of the president at the time, and Howard Dean, the darling of the left, really, at that time, used the exact same line that Kerry used yesterday.

So, it gave the president a fresh zinger to use today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. BUSH: He woke up yesterday morning with yet another new position. And this one is not even his own.

(LAUGHTER)

G. BUSH: It is that of his one-time rival, Howard Dean. He even used the same words Howard Dean did back when he supposedly disagreed with him. No matter how many times Senator Kerry flip-flops, we were right to make America safer by removing Saddam Hussein from power.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, Kerry aides say that what Senator Kerry believes is that the president did not wait long enough to let diplomacy take hold and that he didn't go about it the right way.

But regardless, the political strategy for the Bush campaign, really, it's pretty obvious what they're trying to do, which is link John Kerry to somebody who does not necessarily appeal to the swing voters that he needs in order to win this election.

And it also does give Mr. Bush some new bullets to fire in his "Kerry is a flip-flopper" attack line. That's one that's been getting a lot of applause as he's been talking to these Republican rallies through Missouri -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana, you say the Bush campaign feeling giddy. Are they feeling giddy about Missouri? How are things looking there?

BASH: Well, Judy, I wouldn't say giddy, but they certainly do say privately they are feeling better about the state of Missouri. Now, just take a look at what the results were last time around.

Missouri is a state the president did win, but just narrowly -- 50 percent for George Bush, 47 percent for Al Gore. And he had one rally last night, three stops on a bus tour today.

And the president, the strategy is to hit mostly areas that he won big last time. And this travel strategy is very similar to what he's doing in other states where he won that he wants to keep in his column, which is essentially to talk to big Republican crowds, to energize the base, to energize the grassroots campaign, to get out and vote, to make sure that the voters are there this time around once again. Now, in the case of Missouri, Mr. Bush is also doing that with his message. He's talking a lot about socially conservative issues, particularly a ban on gay marriage. That's something that won statewide on a ballot by 70 percent last month in Missouri, and it gets rousing applause, really his biggest applause line at the rallies so far.

And also, Republicans in this state, Judy, do say they feel good, as I mentioned. Bush aides say that they hope to keep this in their column. And they do remind us that, in the past 100 years, Missouri has mostly gone with the winner, except for once.

WOODRUFF: Yes, and we are reminded of that. Dana Bash, thanks very much.

Well, the president heads to the battleground state of Florida tomorrow to look at the damage from Hurricane Frances. He's asking Congress to approve an initial $2 billion in emergency aid to help the state recover from Frances and from Hurricane Charley three weeks earlier.

John Kerry found a new source of ammunition today against the president. The Congressional Budget Office now predicts that this year's federal deficit will reach a record $422 billion.

The Bush camp is quick to note that figure is less than previous estimates. But Kerry used the figure to press his case against the president's economic policies. CNN's Ed Henry traveled with Kerry to North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Kerry visited the textile state of North Carolina as his campaign opened a new line of attack against President Bush, calling him the outsourcer in chief.

KERRY: George Bush's wrong choices we're continuing to ship jobs overseas, jobs that have good wages and good benefits. And all across America companies have been shutting their doors, downsizing the benefits to employees.

HENRY: Kerry's need for a push on pocketbook issues is clear in a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. While the president has double- digit leads on who would do a better job handling terror and Iraq, Kerry has just a three-point edge on the economy. The senator charged that the loss of 2.7 million manufacturing jobs on Bush's watch is due in part to the president's support of a decades-old provision that allows U.S. companies that operate overseas to defer paying taxes on those earnings.

KERRY: Bush actually thinks it's a good idea.

HENRY: Kerry outlined a plan to close the outsourcing loophole and still cut taxes for 99 percent of U.S. companies. Bush campaign officials strongly defend the president's record and say the Kerry plan will do virtually nothing to stop the flow of U.S. jobs overseas.

TIM ADAMS, BUSH CAMPAIGN POLICY DIRECTOR: Kerry's own advisers say that his proposals won't work, and this stands in stark contrast to the president's proposals, which will address outsourcing and will address job creation and keeping jobs here.

HENRY: The Bush campaign also notes that, when Kerry recently released a list of top business supporters, it included 40 outsourcers.

(on camera): John Kerry is here in North Carolina because Democrats have high hopes of carrying the swing state, especially with John Edwards on the ticket. Republicans scoff and say it's a matter of time before Democrats write this state off and focus even more resources on places like Ohio, where John Kerry is headed, once again, tonight.

Ed Henry, CNN, Greensboro, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: The latest North Carolina poll taken four weeks ago shows Bush leading Kerry by three points. Bush easily won the state four years ago.

Well, let's talk more now about the state of play and the war of words in the presidential race. We're joined by Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot.

Marc Racicot, good to see you. Thanks for talking with me.

MARC RACICOT, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Today, we do hear John Kerry talking about the economy, talking about jobs. These are issues he's talking about. And in fact, those are issues where he's doing better than the president in the polls.

They're issues that we are told, according to the polls, that the voters want to hear more about. Are these issues a problem for George Bush?

RACICOT: Absolutely not. The fact is we want to talk about those issues. We want to talk about the future.

The president's plans have reinvigorated the economy. His efforts there with the tax relief measures and all of the work that's been done with trade and addressing other policy initiatives, the fact is that we've seen 1.7 million new jobs created since a year ago. And we know the other economic indicators are very positive, from home ownership to productivity.

We could go on and on and on. So, it's an issue that we want to talk about and embrace, because the president's policies, because of his insight, and acted early enough to turn the economy around. WOODRUFF: The federal budget deficit figure is out today, Marc Racicot. The deficit at $422 billion. Your allies are saying, well, this is smaller than anticipated, but it is still the largest ever. And it is a sign, we gather, that this is -- that these deficits are going to continue. In fact, the 10-year projection is something like $2.3 trillion over the next decade.

What is the Bush campaign saying that it is going to do about this deficit?

RACICOT: Well, any deficit is unwelcome, as Secretary Snow has pointed out and the president has pointed out. But the fact of the matter is we are in the middle of a war. We were attacked. And as the president indicated during his first campaign, sometimes there's a necessity for us to make certain that the people of this country are safe. And that's precisely what he's done.

It was indicated earlier in your program that that deficit has come down by close to $100 billion, is my recollection, the prognosis for that. So, obviously, it's moving in the right direction, and the plan -- the president has a plan to eliminate it over the next few years.

And if you juxtapose that with John Kerry's position, of course, Judy, he's recommending $2 trillion of additional spending without any visible means to pay for it. So, under his plans, the deficit would only going up exponentially over the course of that 10-year period of time.

WOODRUFF: Well, the Kerry campaign disputes those numbers. But without getting into that, let me ask you about the deficit, though, because I'm reading analysts today saying much of the spending is due to Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly projected deficits down the line. Democrats are saying the more money you spend on defense, the less money you're going to have for schools, for education and for domestic security.

RACICOT: Well, the people of this country, I believe, want to be safe and secure. They know that we're not removed from being victims of terrorism if we don't remain vigilant.

And so, as a consequence of that, the president has made certain by making available resources to first responders and law enforcement and our troops, to make sure we're safe and secure. And that is the number one priority. And I think that's the bottom line with the American people as well.

In reference to non-defense related discretionary spending, the president's budgets have been one percent this year. They've been steadily going down over the course of the last several years.

I think the American people understand these questions very, very clearly. That they want to be safe and secure, and there's a plan to eliminate the deficit over these next five years. Or to cut it in half -- I'm sorry. WOODRUFF: I'm sorry. Marc Racicot, there are also -- in our new poll, it is the case that President Bush is ahead of John Kerry by seven points. But when people are asked about whether the Republicans spent too much time criticizing the Democrats at their convention, 50 percent of respondents said they agree with this. Are you worried about that, are you worried it could backfire?

RACICOT: Well, we've always tried to elevate the campaign. And clearly, there's an expected contrast between the positions of the parties.

Of course, Senator Kerry, any time his position is questioned, tends to equate that to attack upon his patriotism, which is patent nonsense. We have never engaged in the same kind of venomous rhetoric that the opposition has.

We' re going to continue to stay focused on the positive and upon the development of the initiatives of the president that he wants to lead America with into the future. So, we're very much looking forward to a continuation of our positive dialogue, and hopefully the Kerry campaign hopefully joins in that effort.

WOODRUFF: Well, was it positive dialogue yesterday when Vice President Cheney, in reacting to John Kerry's comments on Iraq, and John Kerry -- "When it comes to diplomacy, John Kerry should stick to wind surfing"?

RACICOT: Well, what John Kerry was saying, I think, Judy, is a fairly mild response to the fact that he was, in essence, reflecting our coalition, where he claims to have expertise in dealing with, namely all of those foreign entities around the world who are our allies, our coalition of the phony, the bribed, the coerced.

I mean, quite frankly, his comments were beyond anything appropriate for someone who claims to have the skills he has. And I think the president's response to that was particularly mild in comparison to what it was that John Kerry accused the administration of doing, or at least his appraisal of what it is that has unfolded.

WOODRUFF: He wasn't ridiculing John Kerry?

RACICOT: Well, what would you say that John Kerry was doing in response, calling our coalition of allies, 30 nations who have been there every single day, the coerced, the bribed, and the phony?

I mean, quite frankly, I think the president's -- or the vice president's comment that, look, if this man claims to know diplomacy and claims to know about putting together an international coalition, and make those kinds of comments and that kind of characterization, he probably would be better spending his time wind surfing than joining in efforts to try and reach diplomatic relations with all of those we want to support us.

WOODRUFF: All right. Spoken by the chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Marc Racicot, good to talk with you.

RACICOT: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. We appreciate it.

Well, we hit the trail with the presidential running mates in our "Campaign News Daily." Vice President Cheney today spending the day in the two states that traditionally kick off the presidential election season.

Cheney held a town meeting this morning in Iowa, and he has another one scheduled later today in New Hampshire. In a reference to the recent terrorist attack at a Russian school, Cheney said, "The jury is still out on possible links to al Qaeda." In his words, however, "The Russians seem to think there are some connections."

Cheney's Democratic counterpart, Senator John Edwards, has two events on his campaign schedule. Edwards attended a rally in Ohio earlier today, where he focused much of his remarks on the nation's economy. He has a fund-raiser later this evening in Bloomington, Illinois.

Independent candidate Ralph Nader has run into another roadblock in his effort to get his name on November ballots. Virginia election officials say Nader fell almost 3,000 signatures short of the 10,000 verified names required to get his name on Virginia's ballot. As of now, Nader is on the ballot in at least 17 states with potential access to reform party line in two additional states.

Many Democrats say they see the race for the White House differently. Up next, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile shares her insider's take on John Kerry's strategy and some recent additions to his team.

And later, a more critical point of view from former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. He'll share his thoughts about the Kerry campaign.

Plus, Bill Clinton on the mend and on the political sidelines after heart surgery.

With 56 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We got the Republican perspective a few minutes ago from the chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Joining us now, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000.

Donna, not only is George Bush running ahead in the polls, but the latest polls, our CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, shows for the first time in this election Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. Has John Kerry missed an opportunity here?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No, Judy. I think there's still time to rally Democrats. Look, we came out of the Democrat convention, Democrats were united behind the ticket. They will continue to support this ticket. What we need to do now is to go back into those battleground states and remind Democrats what's at stake, and you'll see them rally to the ticket once again.

WOODRUFF: Not only that, the new poll showing a drop in the percentage of people who think it was a mistake to send U.S. troops into Iraq. It was 48 percent. Now it's 38 percent. Again, this was something John Kerry was talking about. Has he lost an opening here?

BRAZILE: No, I think over the course of the next several weeks, John Kerry can once again remind voters that George Bush misled us into Iraq. Look, we're approaching over 1,000 American troops dead on Iraqi soil. This is an opportunity to tell the American people what John Kerry would do differently and how we get out of there and bring our troops safely home.

WOODRUFF: But are people going to listen? I mean, George W. Bush is -- a lot of people would say he's moved this debate over to his turf right now.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, they need to, you know, somehow come out with a no gloat zone around the Bush-Cheney campaign. They're gloating right now because they have a small, you know, two, three percentage bump.

But sill, the majority of Americans believes that this country is headed in the wrong direction. John Kerry is sharpening his message, he's reaching people now. And I think, once the dust settles, the Kerry-Edwards campaign will regain the momentum and regain the lead.

WOODRUFF: The staff changes in the Kerry campaign, Donna, are they going to make a difference? And if so, how?

BRAZILE: Let me just say this. I mean, I've known for months that John Sasso was going on the plan. Michael Hooley (ph), one of the best strategists in the Democratic Party, he's at the DNC with Terry McAuliffe. That's a great move on the part of the Kerry campaign.

They're beefing up. Look, four years ago, we redoubled the Gore campaign. In fact, when I walked into the headquarters in Nashville, I said, "Where did all these people come from?"

Well, they quit their jobs and they decided they wanted to get on board, they wanted to become foot soldiers for the ticket. And that's what's happening right now.

WOODRUFF: I'm going to be talking to the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the next half-hour, Donna, and I've already talked to him on the phone. His view, among other things, is that John Kerry is not adequately working the Democratic base, including African-American voters. Is John Kerry doing enough in that department?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm going to translate Reverend Jesse Jackson's comments, and that is Reverend Jesse Jackson, like Reverend Sharpton and many other key leaders, Congressional Black Caucus, must go out there and help John Kerry get that message out to the base.

WOODRUFF: Well, he says he's offered to, and the campaign hasn't worked with him.

BRAZILE: Well, I know the campaign is trying to put together a schedule for Reverend Jackson. He was in Africa a couple of weeks ago.

Reverend Jackson is still strategically relevant to the base voters. They want to hear from him. And I believe the Kerry campaign and the DNC and some of the coordinated campaigns will be utilizing Reverend Jackson's skills. It would be a mistake if they didn't, I can tell you that much.

WOODRUFF: Donna Brazile, Democratic Strategist. Great to see you. Always great to see you.

BRAZILE: Good to see you, too, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much for coming by. We appreciate it.

Well, the president's daughters took the mike and told a few jokes at the Republican convention. But some pundits say they didn't see much to laugh about. Up next, how does the American public view Barbara and Jenna Bush? We'll have new poll results next on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Bush's twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, got a good bit of attention with their appearance at the podium during last week's Republican National Convention. Some pundits panned their performance, but now Americans are weighing in.

So much for the pundits. In a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, 49 percent called the Bush twins a breath of fresh air. Nineteen percent said the twins are an embarrassment. And one-third had no opinion.

During their time in front of the cameras last Tuesday night, the 22-year-old twins joked about their days as "young and irresponsible party girls." They also sprinkled their speech with references to pop culture that many of their elders, like me, may not have understood.

Well, when we come back, Iraq and the election. Is the war still a potent political issue for the Democrats? Our Bill Schneider reports on which candidate has the edge with voters when it comes to managing the war.

Also, friendly criticism from a fellow Democrat. We'll see how friendly. Jesse Jackson shares his thoughts about Kerry campaign strategy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: A very deadly week in Iraq for U.S. forces. Will reaching a morbid milestone over there affect the presidential race back here?

KERRY: I would have done everything differently in Iraq.

G. BUSH: My opponent has now voted for the war and against supplying our troops.

ANNOUNCER: Is the Kerry campaign on track? Not all Democrats agree. We'll speak with the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

He calls himself a foot soldier in our fight for the future. But this soldier is now off the battlefield. How will former President Bill Clinton's surgery affect the race for the White House?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

You could say the Bush administration has reached a grim milestone. Two more American soldiers were killed in battle in Baghdad today, bringing the total troop death toll in Iraq up to 1,000.

In our just-released poll, 37 percent of Americans said 1,000 deaths means the United States should intensify efforts to withdraw from Iraq. But a majority, 58 percent, said it should not lead to a change in Iraq policy.

As our senior political analyst Bill Schneider explains, the public outrage and election-year calculations about Iraq are not what they used to be.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Democrats believed anger over the Iraq war would drive them to victory. What happened? Even though Americans are still being killed, public concern about Iraq has diminished.

Since mid-July the percentage of Americans who say Iraq will be the most important issue in their vote has dropped overshadowed by terrorism and the economy. It appears that the handover of authority in Iraq at the end of June made Iraq seem like less of a problem to Americans. Republicans used their convention to wrap Iraq in 9/11.

G. BUSH: Do I forget the lessons of September 11 and take the word of a madman? Or do I take action to defend our country?

SCHNEIDER: The vice president denounced John Kerry's criticism of the preemptive war in Iraq.

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He declared at the Democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked.

SCHNEIDER: But not by Iraq, Democrats would say. Before the Republican convention the public was divided over whether it was a mistake for the United States to send troops to Iraq. Now, after the convention, most Americans say it was not a mistake. Kerry has done his part to lose the advantage on Iraq. First, he made his Vietnam record an issue. And then had to spend time dealing with criticism.

Last month he dismayed supporters when he answered the president's challenge to say whether or not he would still have voted to go to war knowing what he knows now.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I would have voted for the authority.

SCHNEIDER: He spent a lot of time since then explaining.

KERRY: I would have done everything differently from this president.

SCHNEIDER: The president was quick to respond.

G. BUSH: My opponent woke up this morning with new campaign advisers and yet another new position. Suddenly he's against it again.

SCHNEIDER: Who do voters think would handle Iraq better? Before the Republican convention it was a close call. Now a majority say President Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Could the issue re-emerge as the death toll of U.S. military personnel reaches 1,000? At the convention Vice President Cheney talked about 1,100 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan making Iraq part of the global war on terror.

WOODRUFF: So, Bill, are you saying the Republicans, the Bush- Cheney campaign, lumping the two together take some of the, if you will, pressure off of them on reaching this number?

SCHNEIDER: They don't want this number to be a milestone politically. They don't want it to be noticed very widely or commemorated although obviously it's a tragic milestone because they're saying Iraq is part of a global war on terror and we passed 1,000 some time ago.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider. Thanks very much.

Meantime on the terror front a Kerry ally is taking a new shot at the Bush administration. Former Senate intelligence committee chairman Bob Graham is accusing the White House of covering up evidence of Saudi Arabian ties to the September 11 attacks.

The Florida Democrat makes the allegation in his just-released book "Intelligence Matters." Republicans are rejecting what they call Graham's, quote, "bizarre conspiracy theories" -- end quote. And Saudi officials say Graham's charges are, quote, "reckless and unsubstantiated." I'll talk with Senator Bob Graham tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS.

Now we turn to Capitol Hill. Lawmakers back at work after a six- week summer recess and they have a lot in their plates before they adjourn again in the runup to election day. Among their highest and most politically-charged priorities, intelligence reform.

Here now, our Congressional correspondent Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With time running out to act on the 9/11 Commission's recommendations before Congress breaks for the election, Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Joe Lieberman, two players on national defense and security issues unveiled legislation that addresses all of the commission's proposals.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been embraced by virtually one and all clearly with some reservations because it's not a perfect document, but overall the overwhelming majority of Americans expect that we should act on this blueprint.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The commission's recommendations should be our starting point. And I believe in many cases probably most, that it should be our ending point as well.

JOHNS: The bill would create a new national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center, improved information sharing throughout the intelligence community, set up a terrorism screening network at U.S. borders and ensure the protection of civil liberties.

The bill won the endorsement of the 9/11 Commission's co-chairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is our dream.

JOHNS: The proposal has bipartisan support, but it also faces considerable resistance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that we would just carte blanche accept everything the commission came up with, I personally think would be a big mistake.

JOHNS: But a warning from the bill's backers at the Political Price For Inaction could be severe.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: For those who would seek to delay, and for those who would seek to temporize, the burden will be very heavy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now the House will look to the White House for guidance on these matters. The president is expected to meet tomorrow with the bipartisan group of members of Congress to talk about the recommendations -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Joe, any reason to think this bipartisan approach is going to extend to any other of the issues on the platter there before the Congress and the White House?

JOHNS: Well, as you know, this is certainly still an election year so it's hard to imagine members of Congress on either side throwing in the towel, Judy. They still have the controversial issues of judicial nominations. They still have the issue of the president's tax cuts and whether to make them permanent and they still have spending bills which are always controversial even when it's not an election year.

So there's a lot to fight about.

WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns with a smile on his face at the Capital. Thank you, Joe.

President Bush and John Kerry dueling as we've been reporting over a number of election-year issues with the fall campaign now moving into overdrive. In the showdown state of Missouri the president again accused Kerry of flip-flopping on Iraq, citing his remark yesterday that the U.S. invasion on Iraq was, quote, "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

In North Carolina Senator Kerry today tried to stay on his economic message condemning the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas and what he calls the wrong choices made by President Bush.

WOODRUFF: When it comes to campaign strategy, some of Kerry's fellow Democrats have been questioning his choices. Joining me now former Democratic presidential candidate, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Good to see you, Reverend Jackson. I know you are supporting John Kerry and yet the bump up in the polls for President Bush, is this because President Bush is doing things right in his campaign or because John Kerry is doing some things wrong?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: President Bush's staff, Karl Rove and his staff operate with more sophistication, more wit, more toughness and a game plan. So far Mr. Kerry has not been served as well by his top leadership in terms of lack of sophistication. Karl Rove's plan is to solidify his base first and move outward. Mr. Kerry's campaign has him distancing himself from his base.

In New York -- in Baltimore, for example, the energy of that convention was in fact putting on a straitjacket, distancing from that energy. In New York, more than a half million people marched in their quest for peace and a new deal relative to Iraq, distancing. Yesterday in Appalachia, we had 50,000 to 80,000 people. They chose rather 3,000 people 30 miles away and so this idea of distancing from the base is not smart.

WOODRUFF: You were talking to me about this event. You were involved in that rally in Charleston yesterday. You said tens of thousands of people showed up. But you said the John Kerry campaign didn't want to be part of that or what happened?

JACKSON: Did not -- distanced himself from it. For example, we had the -- Rainbow Push had Willie Nelson and Judy Collins, Asleep At The Wheel, Indigo Girls. This huge array of audience from Nashville and from Austin, Texas, around throughout the Appalachias they came. The common theme, "Reinvest in America." There's a net loss of jobs intrastate because, Judy, with all of the mudslinging, what's clear is a net loss of jobs. What's clear is people are working without health care.

So these issues of jobs and health care matter and that's fair. Mr. Bush is vulnerable and somehow they've gotten sidetracked away from that base.

WOODRUFF: Did you talk to the Kerry campaign about participating in this event yesterday?

JACKSON: We did talk to them about it. As a matter of fact, every office in the area allowed us to put in the Jesse Jackson-Willie Nelson campaign posters except the campaign. They didn't want to get too close to that rally and they...

WOODRUFF: Why not?

JACKSON: It's irrational. In the end, Mr. Kerry was 3,000 miles down the road in Racine...

WOODRUFF: You said 25, 30 miles.

JACKSON: Thirty miles in West Virginia in Racine. Now, the point is Mr. Kerry is reaching out, but he needs more than a shake-up. A shake-up cannot just be a vanilla shake. It has to be a bonding of the base. And that shake-up must be some renowned leaders of labor and blacks and Latinos and peace activists because that's where the base is.

And what Karl Rove is doing is quite smart, frankly, is that in a race that is so polarized you must first tie down your base and spread outward. And there's too much distance between the head and the base of energy.

WOODRUFF: I just talked to Donna Brazile on this program a few minutes ago. She talked to the Kerry campaign. She says they are starting to reach out to the Democratic votes.

JACKSON: I just left Appalachia. I see it differently. I know that we can reach out because, first, Mr. Kerry has a compelling message. After all, there has been in the last -- Mr. Schwarzenegger came and he gave a speech about how he represents the ideal immigrant. Schwarzenegger was a lotto immigrant. He hit the lotto ticket.

Most immigrants come out of the coal mines, they come out of the steel workers. They are farm workers. They're hospital workers. These are people struggling to get their green card. He does not symbolize the immigrant. So there he was.

They say, well, Zell Miller is kind of mean tonight. Well, he was the former chief of staff of Lester Maddox. Of course he has that mean spirit in him. We saw all of this coming and there was no preparation. I would think they would have think they have had people like Gephardt and Daschle and Cisneros and Maxine Waters.

Democrats who have credibility are not following. They were not present, they're neither in the campaign, at this point they ought to be. And I think they will be, not the DNC. There must be a shake-up that includes expansion, sophistication, toughness and timing.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying they're taking the base for granted, including African-American voters?

JACKSON: Well, it's not just African-Americans. Now think about the convention itself. There was a straitjacket on speeches. I mean, we hit Bush with velvet gloves, they hit us with brass knuckles. So it is not just about blacks. The black dimension is real. There is not -- the sharpness should be in the black community given how we've suffered.

For four years, we've not had one meeting, neither blacks nor labor, with Mr. Bush, with Ashcroft. A classic case, Mr. Bush puts a picture of Dr. King in the White House one day, against affirmative action the next day. He puts a wreath at Dr. King's gravesite one day, and the next day he puts on the right wing, Georgia for the federal court.

So there are these huge spots there. We have a good candidate. He needs a stronger, tougher, smarter line blocking for him.

WOODRUFF: And you're talking about missed opportunities here.

JACKSON: Missed opportunities. If he seized -- there's still time because in fact, when all of the dust settles, we've lost a thousand troops in Iraq. We have found no weapons of mass destruction, no al Qaeda connection, no imminent threat. Instead there, we've lost lives, we've lost money and we're now losing our credibility.

So these are opportunities, but I don't see anyone jamming in those holes. We'll meet Mr. Kerry real soon. I want to work with him, but so do many others, leaders from labor and Hispanics and peace activists. They must have a real place in the campaign, both in the DNC and in the Kerry campaign itself.

WOODRUFF: Reverend Jesse Jackson with a clear message for the Kerry campaign. Thank you very much for coming by.

JACKSON: Thank you very much. WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. We'll stay in touch. Thank you.

Well, if John Kerry was counting on Bill Clinton to spend this fall stumping for him, he may be disappointed. Up next, we'll consider Clinton's campaign prognosis after heart bypass surgery.

Also ahead, evangelical Christians in the race for the White House, how big a factor are they?

And later, John Kerry finds out firsthand that supporters can say the darnedest things.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Former President Bill Clinton is expected to move out of intensive care as soon as today as he begins his recovery from yesterday's heart bypass surgery. The expected timeframe for Mr. Clinton healing also means that his role on behalf of John Kerry this fall will be limited.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Returning to the role that I have played...

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Just over a month ago he declared himself...

CLINTON: ... a foot soldier in the our fight for the future.

WOODRUFF: But now the soldier has been sidelined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's actually doing just fine.

WOODRUFF: His doctors say the former president will be back in fighting shape within two to three months. The election, of course, is just eight weeks away and what's an election these days without Bill Clinton? Well, ask Al Gore.

AL GORE (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand here tonight as my own man.

WOODRUFF: Gore gambled in 2000, banishing his boss from the campaign trail. He thought Clinton would hurt more than help. John Kerry's thinking is different. And so, Clinton thundered from a Harlem pulpit on the eve of the Republican Convention. He had a roster of campaign events scheduled for the coming weeks. All that's on ice for now. But Democrats can find some silver linings.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: He's extremely grateful for the outpouring of concern and prayer and support from around our country.

WOODRUFF: Clinton's hospitalization did steal some of the thunder from his successor's big convention speech, and what would Democrats call a triumphant early return to the stump? How about an October surprise.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We'll see. We certainly do wish him well.

Just ahead, turn out the faithful on Election Day. I'll talk to with "The Hotline's" Chuck Todd about the Bush campaign and its outreach to Christian conservatives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A bit of an interesting, if not remarkable, development out on the campaign trail: Vice President Cheney talking to voters -- to supporters in Iowa today, warning Americans that voting for John Kerry makes it more likely that the United States will face a terrorist attack.

And just quoting, he said -- the vice president said, "It is absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again. And we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

Again this, is Vice President Cheney speaking to a group of supporters in Des Moines, Iowa. Already, the Kerry campaign -- Kerry/Edwards' campaign has come back with a brief comment rejecting the vice president's words as, quote, "scare tactics that cross the line." I'm sure that we'll be hearing more about what the vice president had to say.

Well, Meantime, Chuck Todd is with me now to talk about the role of evangelical Christians in the race for the White House. You might say a tamer subject than what we just discussed.

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Who knew it would be tamer? Yes.

WOODRUFF: Who knew?

All right, first of all, Chuck, let's talk about this: How many voters identify themselves as members of the religious right?

TODD: Well, that's the hardest part of this thing, because it's not clear what the best description is. For the last three or four political cycles, pollsters have identified this group as religious right. So, that's the data we have in 2000. Fourteen percent of the electorate identified themselves as religious right. In 1996, 17 percent identified themselves as members of the religious right.

It was that downturn in that self-identification that had Karl Rove take a second look at these returns and basically claim that one of the reasons why they lost the popular vote is somehow evangelicals -- or self-described members of the religious right -- didn't turn out in the same numbers that they turned out before. If you extrapolate it out and had they, it would have netted another 300,000 votes.

So, statistically, Karl Rove's theory does play itself out between '96 and 2000.

WOODRUFF: All right, I know you've looked at this across the country and particularly in the battleground states. When do you see the vote making a difference?

TODD: Well, there's three states where there was gigantic drop off in the religious right vote between '96 and 2000: Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. Now, all three were states that Bush carried, but they saw dramatic decreases in the members describing themselves in the religious right.

All three of those states are considered battlegrounds -- North Carolina and Virginia, for instance, moving a little bit toward the Democrats and how it's been growing. It's still a lean-Bush state. Missouri is sort of growing away, but its performance among the religious right in the base part of these states that the Bush campaign's counting on to make sure they don't slip away.

Conversely in 2000 in Michigan, for instance, the Republicans did get an increase in the evangelical vote from '96, and yet Gore won by a big margin. So, Rove talks about how much this religious right vote is important to him, but it's hard to find the statistical evidence, because where the increases could occur are in states that he already controls, and where they might not occur are states that they've already lost.

WOODRUFF: Well, by necessity, you're relying on exit polls in 2000. How easy is it for the campaigns to know where these voters are and how many there are?

TODD: Well, what they've done -- it's not easy, because it's not easy to identify them. Do people not like the term religious right? Is evangelical Christian better? That's a problem.

So, instead, the campaigns have taken this to the churches, and there are some very -- there's a huge voter registration program among evangelicals. James Dobson of Focus on the Family just teamed up with ivotevalues.com, an evangelical Christian voter registration site. They have a bunch of dos and don'ts about what they can legally say from the pulpit -- some things that they've never done before.

So, it's getting the churches themselves and these evangelical Christians to get more politically active from the pulpit inside, and that's the assumption of how it increases turnout.

But again, statistically, very hard to see how it could move numbers and actually swing states. We could see how it can move popular vote numbers, but maybe not as many states as we think.

WOODRUFF: All right. Chuck Todd -- I should have said, of course, he's editor of "The Hotline," and we know that is an insiders political briefing, produced every day by the "National Journal." Chuck, thanks very much.

TODD: Thanks, Judy. WOODRUFF: Still to come on INSIDE POLITICS, a John Kerry supporter cannot hide her excitement as the Democrat nominee campaigns in North Carolina. Details on a hot exchange when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, you may be hearing carping from people in his own party, but John Kerry got a little bit of a lift today. During a stop in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Democratic nominee ran into a supporter who had no trouble expressing her excitement about seeing Mr. Kerry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so excited to see you!

(APPLAUSE)

And I think you're hot!

(APPLAUSE)

Senator Kerry, I would like to know when we're going to get to see you in your first debate with George W.?

KERRY: Well, my daughter just buried her head in her hands..

(LAUGHTER)

That is not the way she thinks about her father.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Every candidate -- every candidate needs a day like that out on the trail.

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

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