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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Ammunition for Kerry?; Interviews With Sarah Brady, Wayne LaPierre, Elijah Cummings, Ken Blackwell; Sensational Biography about Bush Family by Controversial Author Kitty Kelley Hits Stands Monday

Aired September 10, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: A new twist in the flap over the president's military service. Were documents critical of Bush forged?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's "W." That's wrong, wrong choice...

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry takes a shot at Bush on an issue the Democrat had been pretty mum about until today.

The assault weapons ban on the verge of extinction. And gun control activist Sarah Brady is fighting mad.

SARAH BRADY, GUN CONTROL ACTIVIST: It's politics. Right now, they're playing right down to the wire with public safety.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

Some senior Democrats today continuing to pounce on questions about President Bush's military service almost three decades ago. DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe held a news conference to accuse Bush of lapses in credibility and character. McAuliffe rejected the president's assertions that he fulfilled his National Guard obligations and that he did not get preferential treatment to avoid going to Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: The only way George Bush can put behind him these issues is for the president of the United States to address the American public straight on and answer the questions.

Mr. President, why did you lie to the American people? Why did you tell us that you received no special treatment? Why did you say that you had served honorably in the Air National Guard? Why did you lie to the American public?

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: The Bush camp fired back, while again trying to turn the tables on the Democrats. Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, "The president met his obligations and was honorably discharged." He went on to say -- quoting again -- "There is an orchestrated effort by Democrats and the Kerry campaign to tear down the president because of the direction the polls are moving." The Kerry camp says that is not true."

Well, new information has come to light in recent days about Bush's military record from news media reports and from officials who have come forward to tell their stories. But today, there are serious questions about the authenticity of some newly-disclosed documents.

As first reported by CBS News, the memos appear to show that Bush ignored a direct order from a superior officer and lost his status as a Texas Air National Guard pilot in the early '70s. A report today by "The Washington Post" suggests the memos may have been forged based on analysis by document experts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DOBBS, "WASHINGTON POST" Experts are saying they appear to have been generated by a computer or a word processor, rather than the typewriters which were widely in use by President Bush's National Guard unit in Texas in 1972, 1973. And there are a number of reasons, including the use of proportionate spacing, on these documents that lead the experts to conclude that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: CBS News anchor Dan Rather says the network stands by its "60 Minutes" report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: I believe -- I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic or we wouldn't have gone to air if they had not been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Both the Bush and the Kerry campaigns have so far stayed out of this dispute over the documents and their authenticity. And on the trail, both candidates are keeping quiet about the National Guard flap all together.

Well, the president is in Ohio this hour on a campaign bus trip that is taking him through Chillicothe, Portsmouth and nearby Huntington, West Virginia. Along the way, Bush again criticized John Kerry's stands in the war on Iraq. He also played up the prescription drug bill for seniors that he signed into law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beginning in 2005, there's going to be preventative screenings for the first time in Medicare. If you sign up for Medicare, you're going to get a free check-up. And the reason why that's important is you solve problems early before it's too late. Secondly, in 2006, you've got prescription drugs coming your way if you're a senior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: We'll have a full report from the campaign trail on Bush's day later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Health care also was a major theme for John Kerry today, again, along with the timely and politically-charged topic of assault weapons. CNN's Ed Henry has more on what Kerry said and what he tried not to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a town hall meeting in the battleground state of Missouri, John Kerry once again refused to comment on President Bush's National Guard service.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What right Bush has to attack a veteran, which I was in World War II, and he wasn't even in the service, that's a lot of bull.

KERRY: Well, there's an unbiased question.

HENRY: But Kerry expanded his attack onto the president's domestic agenda, slamming Mr. Bush for saying he supports the assault weapons ban but will let it expire Monday.

KERRY: Never pushed the Congress to pass it, never stood up, caves in to the NRA, gives in to the special interests, and America's streets will not be as safe because of the choice that George Bush is making.

HENRY: The senator charged that the Bush administration is scaring Americans about the war on terror but will now make it easier for terrorists to get their hands on weapons.

KERRY: In the al Qaeda manual on terror, they were telling people to go out and buy assault weapons, to come to America and buy assault weapons. And you can't fight a war on terror and you can't make our streets safe, which every enforcement officer in this nation knows.

HENRY: Some Democrats think it's a mistake for Kerry to get involved in a debate about guns since the issue hurt Al Gore in swing states. But Kerry was in West Virginia this week touting the fact he's a hunter. And Kerry aides say the assault weapons ban is popular, especially with suburban women.

At the town hall meeting with seniors, Kerry also charged that the president's new Medicare law has helped HMOs and insurance companies, but left seniors with a 17 percent hike in premiums. The Bush camp is firing back with an ad entitled "Medicare Hypocrisy," charging Kerry has voted to increase Medicare premiums five times.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: John Kerry will continue to hit the president over the assault weapons ban at a rally Monday with law enforcement officers. Despite the political risk, Kerry aides believe that this will help them in the suburbs of key states, like right here in Missouri. And they need help.

The latest CNN poll shows that in the Show-Me State, Kerry is trailing by 14 points. That has led Republicans to suggest that Kerry is going to wind up pulling resources out of this state. But I can tell you that Kerry aides insist to CNN they have no plans to drop out of Missouri, they're going to stay in this battleground state -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry, thanks very much.

And now checking the Friday headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," Vice President Dick Cheney is explaining some controversial remarks he made earlier this week when he seemed to say the election of John Kerry would make a terror attack against the U.S. more likely. In an interview published in today's "Cincinnati Inquirer," Cheney says, "Whoever is elected president has to anticipate more attacks. My point was, the question before us is, will we have the most effective policy in place to deal with that threat?" "George Bush," he said, "will pursue a more effective policy than John Kerry."

The CNN political unit has released its latest electoral map. And at this point in the race, our analysis finds George W. Bush has added to his lead.

Based on state polls and interviews with campaign aides and analysts, CNN has added New Mexico to the Bush column, giving him 299 -- 289 electoral votes to John Kerry's 249 -- 270 are needed to win the White House. CNN political editor, John Mercurio, notes that, while the trends have moved in Bush's favor since the GOP convention, a slight shift in a few states could tilt the balance in Kerry's favor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: First of all, Bush is still enjoying something of a post-convention bounce. Even his own aides admit that.

The second thing is that the race remains extremely close. If John Kerry were to pick up support in a state like Florida, he would surge into the lead. And if he were to beat Bush -- or lead Bush in Ohio, the race would actually be tied in the electoral college.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Of course we know a great deal can happen between now and November. We will be updating our electoral map each week until Election Day. The clock is ticking toward the expiration of the assault weapons ban, as you've heard. Up next, gun control advocate Sarah Brady points a finger squarely at President Bush. And the NRA's Wayne LaPierre will represent the other side of the debate.

And later, John Kerry's biblical appeal to African-Americans voters. We'll see how it played to two black officials, one Democrat and one Republican.

Plus, the growing buzz about a sensational new book about the Bush family.

With 53 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: More now on the fierce debate over the assault weapons ban, which is due to expire Monday. A gun control group is stepping up pressure on President Bush and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to save the measure.

The group is running a full-page ad again today in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." This one shows Osama bin Laden holding a rifle under the banner "Terrorists of 9/11 can hardly wait for 9/13." The ad is sponsored by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Republican leaders say there are no plans to vote on the ban before it expires on Monday, September 13.

Well, earlier, I spoke with Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She is the wife of Jim Brady, the former press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, who was wounded in the assassination attempt of Reagan in 1981. She said that she thinks that she does have -- that there are the votes to extend the ban. I began by asking her if that's the case, why is it so hard to get it done?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRADY: Well, there are two big reasons. One is the president of the United States, George Bush.

He has said he'll sign it. But without his leadership, the leadership in the House and Senate have said they will not bring it up. They will bring it up only if he asks for it. And he says he will ask for it only if they tell him they want it.

WOODRUFF: So what's going on here?

BRADY: It's politics. It's -- and right now, they're playing right down to the wire with the public safety.

A few days from now, we're going to have assault weapons and large capacity magazines back on the street. When terrorism is everybody's greatest concern, we're going to be arming terrorists right here in the United States with large capacity magazines and -- and UZIs and military-style assault weapons.

WOODRUFF: There's a report in "The Washington Post" this week about the number of orders that are -- that are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for these kinds of weapons. Sarah Brady, the White House says President Bush has made is position very clear. They say his position is well known. So why isn't that enough?

BRADY: It's not enough because, without his leadership, it's not going to be brought up. As my husband says, he knows the speaker's telephone number. When he wants something, he gets it. He can make the calls up there and say, "I want this passed, I want this on my desk."

The onus is on him. And if he doesn't take advantage of this situation in the next couple of days, talk about flip-flop, you can't just turn on one hand and say I'd sign it and I'm for it, and to do absolutely nothing, nothing to make sure it is passed.

WOODRUFF: The National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, says there's no clear evidence that this assault weapons ban has had anything to do with a reduction in crime.

BRADY: Of course that's -- that's what they would say. And it's baloney.

In the first place, crime with assault weapons has gone down 66 percent since the assault weapon ban was passed. We no longer see gangland killings on the streets with UZIs and AK-47's, which were rampant. Kids were sleeping in bathtubs in the Bronx because they were afraid of the spray fire on the streets.

There are still assault weapons out there that were grandfathered in. But next week, hundreds of thousands of them could be sold to fugitives, felons, mentally unstable people, terrorists. And the really scary thing this is large capacity magazines. We're going to have terrorism right here in this country, and our own city streets if something isn't done about this.

WOODRUFF: Do you get frustrated about this? This is an issue you and your husband, Jim, have been working on for so long.

BRADY: Yes. It's especially frustrating to think everybody worked so hard, the law enforcement community, a wonderful bipartisan effort. Every president, except for George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, campaigned for it.

That went back to Gerald Ford, Carter, Clinton. Reagan worked for this. And to think we're going to take a step backwards and put our law enforcement people and our kids, everybody at risk again, it's unbelievable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And one other point, Sarah Brady says that her group has made appeals to the White House but has received no response. Today, the White House officially refused to meet with law enforcement officials about the ban.

Coming up next, we will hear the other side of the assault weapons ban debate from Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifles Association.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Continuing now our discussion on the assault weapons ban which is set to expire on Monday, we just heard from a supporter of the ban, Sarah Brady, of the Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. We did ask the White House to provide a guest to respond to Brady, but they declined to do so.

Joining me now with his take on the ban, Wayne LaPierre, who is the executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association.

Thank you for being here.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VP, CEO, NRA: Good to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

It's not just Jim and Sarah Brady, Wayne LaPierre. It is law enforcement officials who are arguing -- and I'm going to read this quote -- "Fugitives, felons, mentally unstable people, even terrorists who they say are now going to be able to buy these large capacity guns."

LAPIERRE: Well, all those people are prohibited from buying any gun at all. But here's what the American public that doesn't understand guns needs to understand.

When this thing sunsets on Monday, which it will sunset, on Tuesday, there will not be one gun available that is a machinegun, that is readily or easily convertible to a machinegun, that has characteristics like more powerful, rapid firepower, sprays bullets. All these terminologies being used to confuse people are simply not true.

The only difference between the guns that will be available after Tuesday and not available before under this bill which will sunset, is you'll be able to put more than two cosmetic accessories on a gun. And cosmetic accessories have absolutely nothing to do with how a gun shoots.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about a report today. I read, "Gun manufacturers," the newspaper says, "are gearing up for this change in the law. The Berretta USA Corporation offering two free large-volume magazines with the purchase of certain guns, the Taurus Corporation making plans to begin manufacturing ammunition magazines that hold up to 17 rounds. What are these guns used for? They're not for... LAPIERRE: Well, the magazine ban will expire. But, you know, when I hear magazine bans, it's just nonsense.

There are hundreds of thousands of magazines out there that were grandfathered. All it is a piece of sheet metal.

Anybody who knows guns knows that you can change a 10-round magazine in that fast. So I know it's an issue that kind of confuses people, but I don't think it means anything in the real world. But, yes, the magazine ban will expire.

WOODRUFF: So the University of Pennsylvania has done a study. I'm sure you're familiar with it. Among other things, they concluded there may be a flood, what they call a flood of these assault weapons being sold in undocumented second-hand markets. In other words, markets where they say people who want to, you know, break the law, criminals and others, can use them.

LAPIERRE: It's nonsense. In fact, CNN has absolutely the best story that I've seen on it. It was run last May, on a Monday, where CNN took reporters -- well, reporters were at the range with police officers from Florida, and police officers looked at the guns under this '94 ban, as opposed to guns that are still available, and showed on CNN's story that there is zero difference in the performance capability, that none of them are machineguns, they're not convertibleable to machineguns, they don't fire rapid.

We have 7,800 law enforcement instructors at the NRA. I challenge anybody to prove at the range these ridiculous descriptions, like rapid fire, mow (ph) down people. Machineguns are all under the 1934 machinegun laws.

WOODRUFF: Then what are these large-capacity guns used for?

LAPIERRE: Large-capacity magazines are just large-capacity magazines. But they don't affect the shooting power of the gun.

The fact is, all the guns that are on this '94 ban are no different than guns that are available now. Rifles, shotguns, handguns that are available now, none of these guns under the '94 ban are any more powerful than rifles, shotguns and handguns that exist right now.

In fact, when John Kerry held up that Remington 1187 in West Virginia, he probably doesn't realize it, but his bill, the Lautenberg bill, that he is a co-sponsor of, would ban the very gun he proudly held up and said he was a hunter.

I mean, so much of this is cosmetic nonsense. All you're talking about are bayonet logs and handles on a gun. You're not talking about the way the gun shoots.

WOODRUFF: And these magazines that we mentioned.

LAPIERRE: And the magazine ban would expire, that's correct. WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Wayne LaPierre, a forceful advocate for the National Rifle Association. We appreciate you coming. Thanks for coming by.

LAPIERRE: Thanks, Judy. Good to be with you. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Well, we join the candidates out on the campaign trail straight ahead. The president and his favorite Democratic senator kick off a campaign bus tour.

Plus, John Kerry turns to the bible to make his case against George Bush's policies toward African-Americans. We'll hear what he said and get a Republican response when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: George W. Bush is a Republican we Democrats can proudly support!

(APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: George Bush gets some help as his campaign goes country in Appalachia.

Tough talk from John Kerry.

KERRY: George W. Bush may have talked about compassion, but he's walked right by. He's seen people in need, but he's crossed over to the other side of the street.

ANNOUNCER: We'll take a look at the question of race in the race for the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

If President Bush is feeling any pressure personally to respond to the controversy over his National Guard service, he isn't showing it publicly. He is staying tight-lipped on the subject during a campaign bus tour through Ohio and West Virginia today. Our White House correspondent, Dana Bash, is traveling with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's battleground buscade rolled through Appalachian small towns with a traveling companion Republican convention viewers may recognize. MILLER: I am honored to be here with you, and I am proud to be back on the trail with President Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Zell Miller, the Georgian who infuriated fellow Democrats last week with his biting anti-John Kerry oratory. Team Bush says this sound of Appalachia is still a crucial weapon here.

MILLER: All of you who might be a little hesitant to bring it up around the dinner table, or say something at the union meeting, tell them that George W. Bush is a Republican we Democrats can proudly support!

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one in West Virginia, stop one on this Bush bus trip.

BUSH: We're going to win the election.

BASH: Clearly pumped from several polls showing his lead is widening, the president tried to keep momentum going with a formula he thinks is working.

Take what Kerry says in Iraq, find a contradiction, throw its credibility into question and the campaign off message. This week Kerry has been questioning the $200 billion price tag in Iraq when it's needed a at home.

BUSH: The newest wrinkle is that Senator Kerry has now decided we're spending too much money in Iraq even though he criticized us earlier for not spending enough. One thing about Senator Kerry's position is clear, if he had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

BASH: The Bush campaign then pointed to an interview the senator gave last year saying Iraq funding should actually be increased, quote, "by whatever number of billion dollars it takes to win."

Kerry aides responded Bush miscalculations in Iraq made the costs higher than necessary. As the president bused into southeast Ohio he continued to steer clear of controversy both about his National Guard service and whether new documents that re-ignited the issue are authentic. He also steered clear of any reporters poised to ask him about it.

Privately Bush aides are relishing questions about whether documents from the president's commander in the National Guard 35 years ago are actually fake. They say, regardless, it puts the whole story into question and they hope makes it less likely it's going to stick. Dana Bash, CNN, Fort Smith, Ohio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: This hour, John Kerry is heading to the showdown state of Pennsylvania after unleashing a double barrelled attack at Bush in St. Louis, Missouri this morning. Senator Kerry accused the president of caving in to the National Rifle Association by not pushing for an extension of the assault weapons ban which expires Monday. Kerry also continued to hammer on rising health care costs.

Kerry will be here in Washington tomorrow, to speak at a conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. Yesterday, the senator criticized the president for failing to meet with the Black Caucus and some other African American groups. In his remarks to the Baptist Convention in New Orleans, Kerry took his appeal to black voters, a dramatic and Republicans charged, divisive step further.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KERRY: Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Kerry spoke to black Baptists in the language of the Bible charging President Bush's passionate conservatism is all talk and no action.

KERRY: He's seen people in need but he's crossed over to the other side of the street.

WOODRUFF: Kerry went on to compare the impact of Bush's economic policies to the fallout from racial segregation.

KERRY: Our cities and our communities are being torn apart by forces that are just as divisive and destructive as Jim Crow.

WOODRUFF: The Reverend Jesse Jackson was at Kerry's side. Jackson has publicly urged the Kerry camp to offer a sharper, more spirited appeal to African Americans and other members of the Democratic base.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: 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...

WOODRUFF: The Democrats may fire up the base with this continuation of the Kerry-Edwards charge of two Americas. But the Republicans say it's Kerry who's being divisive.

The Bush camp issued a statement saying Kerry's speech was, quote, "filled with misleading baseless attacks and attempts to divide Americans." End quote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Joining me now, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Maryland Democrat, Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings, good to see you again.

Is the Bush campaign right when they say these comments by John Kerry are baseless and an attempt to divide Americans? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: No. I don't think they're right. The fact is President Bush has refused to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and a lot of his policies have very much hurt African Americans. When you talk about divisiveness when Bush filed his brief in the University of Michigan case, for example, when they were trying to do the right thing with regard to including Africa -American students in their population, that's divisive. Those are the kinds of things that the Bush administration have done over and over again. They smile one day, give a wreath, plant a wreath at Martin Luther King's grave one day and next day appoint the most conservative judges that they could possibly find. And we've seen that over and over and over again.

WOODRUFF: But would you go so far as to say what John Kerry did. I mean, he said these policies, on the part of the White House, he said are as divisive as Jim Crow racial segregation.

CUMMINGS: I would agree with John Kerry. When I look at the fact the African American unemployment rate being over 10 percent, double that of the population, the general population, when I look at the fact that so many African Americans now do not have health care, we've got 1.3 million going -- people going into poverty, many of them African Americans. Judy, that's harmful.

The other thing that really hurts with regard to African American population is No Child Left Behind. This president, on one side of his mouth at the convention talks about all the great things he's done with regard to education, but at the same time, denies this program some $27 billion, and the people who need it most, the kids who are in public schools, and quite a few of them are African American.

If John Kerry is saying things that you agree with, then what about Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Jesse Jackson's comment that John Kerry hasn't yet, quote, in his words, "tied down the base, there's been too much distance between John Kerry, his campaign and African American voters?"

CUMMINGS: I think that John Kerry still has some work to do. I think he's been working very hard and I think he's working -- he's going to be with us, the Congressional Black Caucus on tomorrow night, speaking before some 5,000, 6,000 African Americans. I've advised him to lay it out there and show how he plans to affect their lives and give practical solutions to their problems.

The fact is is that -- there's no doubt about it, Judy, John Kerry is the -- a man of compassion, he is a man I think truly cares about the African American population and I think he'll do a great job.

WOODRUFF: What's your assessment of his campaign right now? A lot of talk about how they got behind and they're not on message?

CUMMINGS: I think that they are on message. Sometimes -- all campaign usually have ups and downs. The fact is I think they're on message. I think you're going to see a much more aggressive John Kerry. I think you'll see a John Kerry who clearly shows the difference between his policies and those of the Bush administration. He's going to also point out how this Bush administration had failed African Americans and so many other Americans over this past four years.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. Representative Elijah Cummings who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus. Thank you very much. We appreciate you coming by.

CUMMINGS: It's always a pleasure.

WOODRUFF: Coming up next, a black Republican's view of John Kerry's comments and racial politics. I'll talk with the secretary of state in Ohio, Ken Blackwell.

Also ahead we're following the money in the TV ad world. We'll find out where the candidates are spending and where they've stopped spending.

Plus an act of defiance in the political play of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We are going to talk more now about the presidential race, including John Kerry's remarks last night about President Bush's policies towards African Americans. I'm joined from Dayton, Ohio by Ken Blackwell. He is the Ohio secretary of state and a Republican who supports President Bush. Thanks for being with us.

I want to start with what Congressman Cummings just said. In essence, he says John Kerry is right when he says that President Bush's policies have divided the country and hurt African-Americans, because, among other things, the Congressman pointed out the unemployment rate among African Americans over 10 percent.

KEN BLACKWELL (R), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: The one way that you get the economy moving again is by cutting taxes, making those tax cuts permanent and getting our economy growing so that there is a reason to invest in business expansion and job creation. And that's exactly what the president's economic program has done. Unlike many elected officials, I've been in a partnership that's created jobs, I understand what it takes to not only create a job but to provide benefits like health care. I think the president has basically said, look, there has been an uneven uplift. He understands that there are still some people hurt going, some people have been left behind. But he's gone back for them. He's, in fact, expanded health care and community health clinics in his first administration and his intent is to in fact make that health care more accessible to 6 million more Americans.

WOODRUFF: I want to interject...

BLACKWELL: African Americans making up a good number of them.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Cummings was just pointing out however, he says, that when it comes to health care, he said African Americans have been disproportionately hurt. He said more of them don't have health coverage.

If, in fact, you take a recession, which the president inherited and if you don't do anything to remedy it, and you have job loss, you're absolutely right, African Americans are going to be impacted.

So the economic expansion and the job creation is in the interest of the African American community. The president is realizing that not all boats are lifting with this economic tide and so he's gone back and he's basically said, look, I'm going to concentrate on a couple of things. I'm going to try the strength in families. We know that strong families give you a better chance economically. He said, I'm going to expand homeownership, which he has done and he's going to grow the economy and create jobs and he's put the economy back on the right path. And black people are benefiting from that, just as all Americans.

So we can try to separate, as is the case with the Kerry campaign, this into two Americas. But I can tell you right now, when it comes to defending the shores of this country, there's only one America and I want a president and African Americans just like all Americans want a leader that will support our military and defend our interests.

WOODRUFF: Well, again, both in what John Kerry said and just now, what Congressman Cummings has said, he said the Michigan case, where-in the administration weighed in against preferences for blacks and other minorities, he said this is an instance where the administration is dividing the country and giving unequal treatment to African Americans.

BLACKWELL: I think what the president has done is basically said that it is in his interests to expand the ownership stakes in our country and in our country's future.

So whether it's the health -- medical savings accounts, whether it's giving young people, including African Americans a property stake in their own security and retirement programs, the president has been on point. He has in fact expanded homeownership. And I can tell you, as a person whose father didn't own his own home and whose father encouraged him to own his own home, two of my three kids owe their college education to the fact that we had a home that we could borrow against.

I got into business borrowing against that home. The president understands that when people have a stake in the economy, they have a stake in America's future and so the expansion of homeownership under this administration shows that he wants of make sure that all Americans benefit in the uplift.

And so we can talk about all of the pessimistic things but we must start with the fact that the government, under the president's leadership, has focused on those things that government must do, that people can't do for themselves, like create an environment and an even playing field, and that has benefited African Americans.

So I think this whole notion there is a black America and a white America is quite disruptive.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Ken Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state. It's good to talk to you again. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

A celebrity biographer brings her controversial ways to Washington. Up next, an early look at the new Kitty Kelley book and its unflattering allegations about three generations of the Bush family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A new book by the controversial author Kitty Kelley is stirring talk here in Washington because of its sensational claims about President Bush and his family. CNN obtained advance copies of the book. Kathleen Koch has a report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fact or fiction? The question applies to most Kitty Kelley biographies and this one is no different. Even before the book hits the stands Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said it was, quote, "filled with garbage, garbage that was discredited, disavowed and dismissed years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Kelley makes things up. She writes fiction under the guise of the biography in order to sell books.

KOCH: The author's note does admit many were reluctant to tell their stories on the record so there is liberal use of unnamed sources. But there are plenty of direct quotes some most sensational from Sharon Bush, who in 2003 underwent a messy divorce with George W. Bush's brother, Neil. Kelley quote Sharon as blaming an affair with a woman working for Barbara Bush. "The Bushes knew about the affair before I did. They even entertained the woman in their home. They encouraged their own son's adultery. What kind of family value is that?"

KOCH: Sharon Bush is also quoted in the book talking about alleged she is talking about alleged drug use by her brothers-in-law, including George W. Bush. He and Marvin did coke at Camp David when their father was president and not just once either. This was a family of alcoholism, drug addiction and even schizophrenia. But Sharon's attorney denies the drug comments.

DAVID BERG, SHARON BUSH'S ATTORNEY: Sharon's understanding at the time perhaps naively when you're talking to Kitty Kelley that everything was off the record. But let me make it clear. She didn't say what's attributed to her.

KOCH: But Sharon's then PR consultant Lou Colisano (ph) who was at the lunch last year with the two women when the subject came up, says Sharon did confirm the drug use.

(END VIDEOTAPE) (on camera): Republicans charged that the book's release less than two months before an election is time to hurt the president. Democrats for their part believe it will put President Bush on the defensive. They don't expect it will change the mind of any ardent Bush supporters but they admit to hoping that it could perhaps make a difference to some crucial undecided and independent voters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kathleen Koch, thanks very much for that report. We appreciate it.

Time now for an update on television ad spending in the race for the White House. I'm joined by our media consultant Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence. His company tracks ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets.

All right, Evan, the last month saw a big spending gap in TV ads between the two campaigns. Tell us what you find.

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE: The Bush campaign really ended this, quote-unquote, "primary season" the way they began. If you look at their ad buys over the last 30 days, they spent roughly $30 million to Kerry's $500,000.

If you look at the first 30 days of the buys it's about the same. So about 60 percent of Bush's ad buys were in the beginning and the end both times when Kerry was off the air.

WOODRUFF: You were just saying political scientists will be studying, among other things from this campaign, for a long time to come. Evan, the DNC has stepped in. They've spent a lot of money on John Kerry's behalf. Talk about how much the parties have been spending the last 30 days.

TRACEY: Right. Part of McCain-Feingold really invigorated the parties to go out and raise hard dollars so they can play from an advertising perspective. The DNC spent about $32 million during this time where Kerry was off the air in August. We expect the Republican party to be spending a lot of hard dollars. They've just started buying right now so they're going to end up spending a lot of money by the time this is all said and done. Probably more than the candidates over these last 50 days.

WOODRUFF: Which is unusual? Not what everybody expected?

TRACEY: Well, generally, the party spending was frontloaded, so now it's backloaded.

WOODRUFF: Finally these 527 groups, these so-called 527 independent groups, are we still seeing the ones that lean Democratic outspend the ones that lean Republican?

TRACEY: All told, spending by Democratic-leaning issue groups right now is outpacing Republicans by about 7-1. However, the Republican 527 groups seem to be generating the most headlines right now. So again this will come down to one of those earned media versus paid media, things again that the academics will probably have a field day studying after the elections.

WOODRUFF: The Swift Boat one...

TRACEY: The Swift Boat one, yes, specifically.

WOODRUFF: The prime example of that getting a lot of press coverage.

TRACEY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: All right. Evan Tracey, TNS Media Intelligence. We hope to be visiting with you several times before the election.

TRACEY: Good to be here.

WOODRUFF: An uphill battle is nearing an end and only one side can come out a winner in the political play of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It doesn't taken an expert on politics to read the handwriting on the wall. But sometimes it does take a wise analyst to figure out who can claim an election year advantage. For that, we have our own Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Can you get away with defying public opinion? Sometimes. Sometimes you can even get the political play of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Bush says he will sign a bill renewing the assault weapons ban if Congress passes it. How likely is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not supposed to pass the bill. If it the president asks me I will tell him the same thing.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats blame President Bush.

KERRY: George Bush who says, oh, I'm for that, never asked the Congress to pass it, never pushed the Congress to pass it, never stood up, caves in to the NRA.

SCHNEIDER: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "I think the will of the people is consistent with letting it expire so it will expire." But a national Annenberg election survey shows two thirds of the public favors extending the ban. So why won't Congress pass it?

SEN DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The NRA, with all its selfishness, has the ability to go into certain districts and defeat people.

SCHNEIDER: The Democrats learned that lesson in 1994, just after Congress passed the assault weapons ban.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXEC. V.P. CEO, NRA: President Clinton, after the '94 election said he thought this issue probably cost the Democrats the House of Representatives.

SCHNEIDER: Why should the minority on this issue have so much power? Simple. They vote the issue.

LAPIERRE: Gunowners and hunters that know guns deeply resent the mischaracterizations and the fact that the other side is attempting to mislead the American public on this. And they will go to the polls and vote against the congressmen that go along with the lie.

SCHNEIDER: Most gun control supporters do not vote the issue. So even though they're in the majority, their views don't matter.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: When the general public is not so aroused, small interest groups can have a greater say.

SCHNEIDER: They can even get the political play of the week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Let's say you're a member of Congress and you know that two thirds of your constituents favor renewing the assault weapons ban, so you vote for it. Are you safe? No because you're likely to lose more votes from the minority who oppose the ban and who will vote against you for that reason alone than you will gain from the two-thirds majority who agree with you but will not vote for you for that reason alone -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's all about passion and how much they care about.

SCHNEIDER: Intensity matters.

WOODRUFF: Intensity. Bill Schneider, thank you very much. Our wise analyst. Appreciate it. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS this Friday. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now. Thanks for joining us.

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