The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Vicente Fox; Interview With Kissinger, Albright

Aired November 21, 2004 - 12:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 2 p.m. in Santiago, Chile, and 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "LATE EDITION."
We'll get to my interview with the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, in just a few minutes. First, though, let's get a quick check of what's making news right now.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: At the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, President Bush met with other world leaders and, as is the tradition, dressed up with some local flair. It's become an annual tradition for the host leader to select an appropriate and always colorful shirt for the occasion. Today was certainly no exception. Check out these ponchos.

President Bush also held bilateral talks with Mexico's President Vicente Fox, a key U.S. ally and neighbor, though there have been serious problems in the U.S.-Mexican relationship in recent years. President Fox, for example, opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

After their meeting earlier today, I spoke with President Fox about Mexico's stand on the invasion of Iraq, U.S. immigration policy and much more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: President Fox, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

How strained would you say the U.S.-Mexican relationship is right now? Several issues of contention, as you well know.

PRES. VICENTE FOX, MEXICO: Wolf, nice to talk to you, and thank you for this opportunity.

I'm just coming out of a meeting with President Bush, and as always, the relationship is very strong. The friendship is very strong. And our attitude to the future, to these next two years of Mexican administration is very positive and very optimistic on this relationship.

So we're ready to work with the recently elected -- or re-elected President Bush. And I noticed that we have a window of opportunity -- we discussed this -- because, in our case, from here to October, November next year, we'll have all the time and all the capacity to take advantage of this window of opportunity, because later on, we'll be on our electoral process.

BLITZER: Did you get the sense from your meeting with the president, with President Bush, that he was no longer angry at Mexico for its refusal to support the United States to launch the invasion against Saddam Hussein?

FOX: I never noticed him angry even through those critical days of the decision in relation to Iraq. The relationship is so mature and so friendly that we can discuss things that are difficult, but that we can have a positive attitude always in trying to work them out among ourselves.

And this is what we discussed, for instance, in relation to migration. Number one, the obligation of Mexico and of President Fox's commitment to build up the jobs in Mexico to expand the economy so that the opportunities for our people are here in Mexico and not have to be forced to move to look for those opportunities somewhere else.

But at the same time, he also referred to migration issue in the context of what he had announced to the U.S. opinion. So he is conducting, leading on this issue, and we're just ready to support and to analyze together with him what will be the best decision, the best for people in the United States, for people in Mexico and for our two nations.

BLITZER: Well, on this issue of immigration, which is a sensitive issue, the president, President Bush has proposed some sort of temporary worker visa program for several hundred thousand undocumented Mexican workers in the United States, and it goes not nearly as far as you would like. Are you satisfied with what the president outlined for you today?

FOX: Yes, and he is willing to lead and to conduct ahead with the appropriate political timing. He has the will in trying to work this thing out. In our case, what we have from that first initiative of January, where he came to public opinion -- it's a good base to depart from.

And we are not after amnesty. We don't think that's what should be done. Now, it's basically to legalize the work that Mexicans are paying in United States with dignity, with productivity and making that economy more competitive.

So in this case, we will work out with President Bush's administration to have that product prepared, that initiative. But we will be subordinating to the overall context of the excellent relationship we're having right now.

BLITZER: Did President Bush promise you that he would push this legislation through Congress, the U.S. Congress? As you well know, there's a lot of opposition in the Congress to the legislation. FOX: Well, what I got, and very firmly, is his will, his will to attend this issue under the basis of what he has already presented. There are also other initiatives coming from Senator McCain or from other senators or congressmen, both from Democratic and Republican side.

And so I think the elements are there. And what we all need is to come out with an intelligent, innovative way of proceeding to the benefit of both and specifically to the benefit of security, which is the other issue that we dealt with -- so important, security against terrorism.

But where we come into this, that by moving ahead with the migration issue in order to order the process, in order to legalize or document those who are in the United States and that have a job, is the best contribution we can make to security on the border, because then we'll have the rules of the game clear. We will not have to have as many conflicts as we have had. And no doubt that advancing on the migration issue will pay a strong support to the security issue.

BLITZER: As you know, there is enormous concern that terrorists potentially could try to get into the United States through Mexico. The last issue of Time magazine, I'll read it to you, a sentence from there.

It said, "U.S. and Mexican intelligence conferred about reports from several al Qaeda detainees indicating the potential use of Mexico as a staging area to acquire end-stage chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material."

How concerned are you that al Qaeda might try to get into the United States through Mexico?

FOX: Well, first, on the overall concept of concern, no doubt that we have the same concern about terrorism as President Bush has it and as many other democratic countries have it. You've seen this repeating in many places of the world, acts of terrorism, that we must reject and we must stop altogether.

Now, in the case of the border, insecurity in the border, and this partial information or rumors that al Qaeda's people would have been moving through Mexico, nothing of that is yet true, or we don't have any information that that is confirmed.

But what we have is a very strong relationship with security agencies of the United States, especially with the security of SAR (ph), which is doing that work for the United States. We worry about NAFTA region. We worry about United States, Mexico, Canada or any other country that could have these acts of violence.

So we must be very intelligent and very strong and committed in working for security in that border, but at the same time, and we made the comment (ph), it's a border -- a very active border. More than a million people crossing every day, products and services coming from the United States to Mexico that generate jobs in United States, products and services coming from Mexico to the United States that generate jobs in Mexico.

Generating jobs in United States, generating jobs in Mexico, is the best contribution to migration, to peace and harmony and efficient and fluent border.

BLITZER: So what would you say was the major accomplishment, if there was some major accomplishment, emerging from your meeting with President Bush today?

FOX: OK, number one, that we will meet again in a visit to Washington during the month of February or March, where we will bring our homeworks done in these three issues.

One is migration, so that we have the package put together and refined and ready to go.

Number two, the issue of the initiative of North America, working through this NAFTA-plus concept, making sure that we keep competitiveness in our three countries, that we defend our jobs of this region against Asia or Europe or anybody else, and that we can build up a more strategic, more productive, more active and more competitive relationship, the three of us, in this case including Canada.

And number three, there is this issue of totalization (ph) that we have called in the relations to social security systems of both countries.

And that we're ready, we are giving the green light to move ahead to Congress in the United States and to Congress in Mexico, so the three key subjects are moving.

BLITZER: President Fox, thanks so much for spending a few moments with us today.

FOX: A pleasure, and thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Coming up, a look ahead to the new United States Congress. Are bitter battles already looming? We'll talk with two leading members of the U.S. Senate, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison and Democrat Charles Schumer.

Then, shake-up over at the CIA. Two former CIA directors assess the changes and whether they're good for the spy agency.

And later, a closer look at America's new top diplomat. Two former secretaries of state weigh in on the challenges facing Condoleezza Rice.

"LATE EDITION" continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Just ahead, two former CIA directors assess the agency shake-up.

And our Web question of the week is this: Will resignations and new policies over at the CIA improve U.S. intelligence gathering? You can vote. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results for you later in our program.

Up next, though, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Charles Schumer on what's ahead for the new U.S. Senate and what we can expect from a stronger Republican majority.

You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: The politics of common ground will not be found on the far right or on the far left. That is not where most Americans live.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The outgoing Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, bidding an emotional farewell to colleagues this past week. He's the first Senate party leader in 50 years to lose re-election.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

Joining us now, two guests who will be playing key roles in the new United States Senate: in Dallas, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. She's vice chairman of the Senate Republican conference, also the author of a new book, "American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped our Country." And in New York, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. He's the new head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Senators, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

And let begin with you, Senator Hutchison. You're from Texas. You just may have heard President Fox on "LATE EDITION" say there's a one-year window for the president of the United States to get this immigration legislation through that would give opportunities for undocumented workers to stay in the United States for several years to work toward getting green cards.

Do you think that anything serious is going to happen in the new Congress?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Yes, I think there will be a push to have immigration reform. We need a regularization of the process. We have 2,000 miles of border with Mexico. We need to have a regularization and the capability to go back and forth with ease, while at the same time making sure that we have secure borders.

And I think President Fox was right to note that terrorists are not something that he wants in Mexico, and certainly not as a conduit into the United States.

So we have major issues here, but I think it is a priority. We need to address a regularization of immigration policy.

BLITZER: You support the president's plan, Senator Schumer?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think it has some good elements. The idea that any immigrant who is here should work, have to work and have a relationship with the employer, pay taxes, obey the law, all are good elements of the plan.

But I'd say there's one major thing missing to deal with illegal immigration, and that is we've been saying we were going to do this for three years, but anyone who is not a citizen who comes across our borders should have an I.D. card, nonforgeable, tied to their fingerprint or how their retina looks, as they go back and forth.

And that would allow people who belong here, who have a right to come here, who have relatives here, who work here to come, but keep out terrorists and others, illegal immigrants and others who shouldn't be here. That's key. And we're so far behind on it, it's really appalling.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Hutchison? Do you believe that Mexico, for example, is doing everything it should be doing -- the government of Mexico -- to prevent terrorists, for example, from crossing into the United States?

HUTCHISON: I think Mexico is doing more than we have ever seen before to help work with our security agencies to stop potential terrorists.

We are seeing what we call illegal immigrants other than Mexicans coming into our country, and we don't have a strong process right now that keeps them in some facility or keeps control of knowing where their whereabouts are so that we know that we can take them back to their country of origin.

And we have a number of those, thousands, actually, who have come over. We have not held them. They have gone out, and we've asked them to report back for a hearing, and 90 percent of them don't come back.

Now, we have got to get a handle on this situation. Mexico agrees with us, and they are working with us, but we need to perfect it on our side to make sure that we know every person who is in our country.

And I think what Senator Schumer is saying, some kind of a document that cannot be forged, is an acceptable item to require for entering into our sovereign nation.

We have to make sure, though, that we can have commerce on the border where you don't have long backups, because if you have two-hour waits at the border, that interferes with the capability to do business. SCHUMER: I agree with that.

HUTCHISON: So we have got major problems here.

BLITZER: All right. Let me move on.

Senator Schumer, as you know, yesterday, the House and Senate conferees, they failed to reach final agreement on legislation to enact some of the 9/11 Commission reforms in the U.S. intelligence community. The Republican leadership saying that it's still possible in this session to come back some time in December after Thanksgiving and get the job done.

Do you believe it's possible to do it still?

SCHUMER: Well, I think it's very hard, and the president is going to have to stand up to both his own Defense Department and to the hard right.

This bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly. It has the support of the 9/11 Commission, both Democrats and Republicans, had the support of the families, many of them from New York, who pushed for this, and had the support of the president.

And yet a small group of very, very conservative Republicans in the House held it up. It's reported they were aided and abetted by the Defense Department, which didn't want to submit its large defense intelligence apparatus to the control of the new director of intelligence.

If we can't pass this bill, we are really letting the American people down. It's what we need to make us secure. We learned on 9/11 that having different agencies not share information and say, "No, only I can use the information that I have," leads to a breakdown and leads to what happened on 9/11.

And it's going to be a real test to the president, a first test, if he is going to stand up to those on the hard, hard right, not mainstream conservative, not most of the Senate, who supported the bill, but this small group in the House that seems to be running the show.

BLITZER: The former chairman, Senator Hutchison, of the 9/11 Commission, the former New Jersey governor, Thomas Kean, himself a Republican, says, you know what, the leadership in the House and Senate could have passed this legislation yesterday, that Congress could have gone into recess. There were enough Democrats and Republicans in both chambers to pass it, but the leadership decided they didn't want to embarrass some of those Republican conferees who are still trying to protect the Pentagon as far as their intelligence- gathering and budgetary responsibilities are concerned.

Was it a mistake to do that?

HUTCHISON: Wolf, let me say that I supported the bill totally when it came out of the Senate, and the president did try and the vice president did try to get this compromised bill through.

However, I want to add that I and many others, some of these House members, have become very concerned about what has happened in the CIA in the last couple of weeks.

It gives me pause that people who have access to the most sensitive information in the world would be leaking. It almost looks like Porter Goss is being ambushed.

And I don't like having an agency with this kind of responsibility acting like that. And it makes me very concerned to make sure that we have checks and balances, that there is strong congressional oversight.

So I'm not going to criticize those House members. I think we need to look very carefully to make sure that we do have some ability for somebody else to look at this information besides one person, if you are going to have leaks like sieves, as we have seen in the last couple of weeks, out of that agency.

BLITZER: Well, does that mean you're having second thoughts, Senator Hutchison, about passing this 9/11 legislation, this reform legislation?

HUTCHISON: I am having second thoughts when I am seeing the behavior of people who are supposed to be at the highest level of security clearance leaking information, calling Porter Goss's people "Hill pukes," saying we don't have to listen to them. I think that is very dangerous.

Now, I do think we need to make sure that we are allowing our agencies and requiring that they share information. But I want to make sure there is a very strong check, and I want to look at this again.

BLITZER: I'm going to give you a chance to respond, Senator Schumer. Then we'll take a quick break and continue, but go ahead.

SCHUMER: You know, one is apples, one is oranges. In fact, having a strong director of intelligence will allow that person to make sure these leaks don't occur, to make sure that the agencies cooperate. It's just what we need, not just for the defense agencies, but for the CIA as well.

I supported Porter Goss. I served with him in the House. I like Porter Goss. But the bottom line is if we don't have someone strong at the top, you're going to have not only more leaks, but you're not going to have the agencies cooperating. And the very same mistakes we made before 9/11 will be made again.

BLITZER: All right.

HUTCHISON: Porter is trying to do that right now, and he is getting submarined by people in that agency.

BLITZER: Some of those people supposedly have already left or have already resigned. We'll pick that up, Senators, when we come back.

We'll keep the senators with us. Take a quick break.

Up next, we'll also have a check of what's making news right now, including an announcement from Iraq setting a firm date for democratic elections.

Also ahead, assessing the new boss. We'll get insight from two former CIA directors on the man now holding the job they once held.

Much more coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Beautiful day here in the nation's capital.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

We're talking with two key members of the United States Senate, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Democrat Charles Schumer of New York.

Senator Schumer, a lot of people were shocked -- and I use that word deliberately -- to discover, in this nearly $400 billion spending bill that was passed yesterday, there is language in there that would authorize some members of the Senate and House to snoop and take a look at anyone's IRS income tax returns, their political enemies', their friends', anyone they want. Somehow that got in there. Nobody seems to know how that got in there. They're all now say they're trying to get it out.

But what's going on?

SCHUMER: Well, it's just incredible that such a provision, which would allow any American's privacy to be pierced, got into the bill. And hopefully it will come out.

But let me say this. I spoke with Minority Leader Pelosi. She's going to hold things up in the House until we find out who put this provision in.

And I agree with her. There ought to be a full and complete investigation as to how this provision got in, and there ought to be appropriate punishment.

This hearkens back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover when some unknown people could go and snoop on you, against the law, against the privacy that we all cherish, and they could use it for political, economic, evil purposes in any way.

This provision never should have gotten in. We ought to find out how it did, and we ought to find out very quickly.

BLITZER: I assume, Senator Hutchison, you're just as outraged as Senator Schumer is. HUTCHISON: Absolutely. We are unanimous on this. The Senate was unanimous. I think everybody stepped up to the plate -- Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Finance Committee, Ted Stevens, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Something happened clearly in the dark of night. There was no -- the Senate was totally amazed.

And I think we all stood together and made sure that, before the bill went to the president, that would be taken out, and I think that was the proper thing to do.

SCHUMER: Let me say, Wolf...

BLITZER: But it raises -- go ahead, Senator.

SCHUMER: Let me just say, Wolf -- and I think that Kay and the Senate leadership on the Republican side were outraged, but it asks a question: Is a small group, a hard cabal group, a small group on the right, going to run things?

They've so far shot down the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which the president supported, the overwhelming majority of the Senate supported. They snuck this provision in, or somebody snuck it in, that just makes you scratch your head in wonder.

HUTCHISON: No, that's not fair.

SCHUMER: They put in a provision on abortion that really needed debate. It was a major and controversial provision. Some said it was a conscience clause; that's good. Some said it was a gag rule; that's bad.

And the real question is, are we going to govern in a bipartisan way, or is a small group, mainly on the House of Representatives, on the hard right going to call the shots? And that will be very -- I think the president's success depends on his ability to steer a more centrist path.

HUTCHISON: Wolf, if I could, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that that clause that was inserted about IRS documents or people's tax returns being able to be gotten to by any member of Congress or any staff -- can't be blamed on the right wing. That's totally inappropriate. I don't think we know how that got in, and I can't -- it's not fair to put blame. It's just not fair.

SCHUMER: Well, no, I didn't -- I'm saying we ought to have a full investigation, and I hope you join me in that, Kay, in finding out who put it in.

All I'm saying is, here we are just two weeks after an election. The president won fair and square, and he's got the right to set his agenda. But it was a 51-48 election. 70,000 votes in Ohio might have changed things.

And already we're seeing signs that some take that election to be an indication that we should move the country 40 degrees away from the middle. And that's going to create a bad, bad situation in Washington.

HUTCHISON: I think that's a bit of a stretch.

BLITZER: I'll give you the last word, Senator Hutchison. Go ahead.

HUTCHISON: I just think that's taking it too far. I think that all of us are going to try to move forward and get the country's business settled and pass it. But let's don't go too far here. Let's don't get into politics when things have not been proven at all.

SCHUMER: Well, I just hope and pray we work in a bipartisan way and from the middle, but early indications are not so good.

BLITZER: Let's try to find out who got that language in that 1,000-page piece of legislation. And we'll just leave it on this note, because we have to move on to the next segment. It raises the question how many other items might be in there similarly that very few people have had a chance to examine, given the nature of the legislative process. Probably only in the weeks, months, maybe even years to come, we'll get some other surprises in what will become the law of the land.

But I want to thank both senators for joining us.

Senator Schumer, thanks for joining us from New York.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, thanks to you for joining us.

A reminder to our viewers, Senator Hutchison has an important new book out. You see the cover up on the screen, "American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped our Country." Congratulations to her for her new book.

HUTCHISON: Thanks so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next, intelligence matters. Is the CIA becoming a casualty of partisan politics? We'll talk with two of the agency's former directors, Stansfield Turner and James Woolsey. They're standing by to join us live.

More "LATE EDITION" straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PORTER GOSS, CIA DIRECTOR: My attitude toward the intelligence community and, I guess, my alma mater, the CIA, is one of tough love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The CIA director, Porter Goss, speaking during his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate in September.

Evidence of what the new CIA chief calls tough love surfaced this past week when the two top men in the agency's clandestine service resigned after angry exchanges with aides to Goss.

Joining us now to talk about the shake-up over at the CIA, what it all means, two guests: the retired U.S. Navy Admiral Stansfield Turner. He was CIA director under President Jimmy Carter. And former CIA Director James Woolsey; he served under President Bill Clinton. He is now a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton.

Both of you, thanks very much for joining us.

And I'll begin with you, Director Woolsey. What's happening at the CIA right now? Because if you read the reports of people resigning, walking out, the shake-up, it sounds like the place is approaching chaos at a time of critical importance to the United States national security.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think there are a couple different things going on. One is that I think Porter Goss has some good ideas, substantive ones.

He wants more risk-taking. He wants less reliance on so-called liaison service information. That is, information from friendly intelligence services.

And he probably, although nobody has told me this -- I'm reading between the lines -- he probably wants much greater use of nonofficial cover officers. That is, intelligence officers who run spies who aren't under cover as, say, a U.S. government official in the embassy, but rather are seen to be native of the country where they're based and speak the language fluently and are completely apart from the U.S. government. Now, that's dangerous, but it also probably is the best way to penetrate terrorist groups.

BLITZER: Those all sound like logical, good ideas. Why would it cause the kind of shake-up, if you will, that's occurring?

WOOLSEY: Well, I think there is some substantive disagreement. And that's a real disagreement, and it ought to be resolved and dealt with.

But underlying all this -- it's beginning to look a little bit out there at Langley like the tail end of the Pistons-Pacers game last Friday...

BLITZER: Brawl.

WOOLSEY: ... at least a verbal version of it.

I think underlying all this is the fact that over the course of the last year, particularly as the weapons of mass destruction issue has been so front and center in the presidential campaign, you have people in the administration and some on the Hill who have said, "Look, the CIA got this wrong." And then you have people in the CIA saying, "Well, we didn't get it all that wrong. Mainly you guys got it wrong." And some of them have been leaking. And that has underlaid a lot of the, sort of, anger. And then I only know one of the four people that Porter has taken out there with him, and he's an able former intelligence officer. But obviously there's some personality conflict and turf conflict.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit -- I want to bring in Admiral Turner now -- about some of the CIA resignations that have gone on now.

John McLaughlin was the deputy director. He had been the acting director after George Tenet resigned last July. I guess his departure was almost expected.

Stephen Kappes, deputy director of operations; Michael Sulick, deputy to Stephen Kappes -- they resigned. Michael Scheuer, who had been doing the Osama bin Laden desk, the author known as "Anonymous," he resigned as well.

The L.A. Times on Thursday wrote this in an editorial, among other things: "It was always clear that Porter J. Goss, who bungled oversight as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was a questionable choice to run the CIA. But the turmoil that Goss, who assumed his new post in late September, has thrown the agency into shows that he isn't as bad as many feared. He may even be worse."

That's The L.A. Times on Thursday.

What do you make of this?

STANSFIELD TURNER, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: What we are seeing here is two things.

The first is standard, bureaucratic resistance to change. But it's unique in the CIA, because in normal agencies, when they mess up, the public finally demands change. This agency has been so secretive for so long that it's taken time for the public to realize that change is needed. But the bureaucrats, of course, at the CIA are resisting this and have traditionally. It's a long history.

The second thing is we're seeing the last throes of the military- industrial-Congressional complex that was built up by the Cold War. We needed that then because our military strength was the key to winning the Cold War.

We're now trying to shift the paradigm. We're trying to shift to a war against terrorists. That's what the president says is our number-one threat. And if that's the case, the military is no longer the primary user of our intelligence. It's counterterrorism. And that means you've got to change the way you do business.

BLITZER: So let me get this clear. Do you think Porter Goss is doing the right thing, shaking up the CIA the way he apparently is?

TURNER: It's too early to tell. Porter Goss has been there seven weeks. And these people who are leaving the ship in the middle of a war are reprehensible, in my opinion, in doing that. They ought to, number one, give Porter more time to demonstrate where he's going, what he wants to do. Neither you nor I nor Jim really know what Porter is heading for.

Beyond that, they ought to at least have said to Porter, "We'll stay for a couple of months here to ensure there is a smooth transition." How does he, Porter, find out who are the best people to replace these until he's been there a little while and got his feel for it?

BLITZER: Do you accept that?

WOOLSEY: Well, yes, except I don't know several of these individuals involved, and some of these arguments...

BLITZER: They were all there when you were there.

WOOLSEY: Well, I didn't know Mr. Kappes. I knew Mr. Sulick somewhat. John McLaughlin I know quite well. He worked directly for me, and his retirement has nothing to do with this. He told me that himself a couple days ago.

And Scheuer is another case entirely. He was permitted to write these two books while he was on duty as Anonymous, and the books deal with the substance of what he was working on, which is unique. That's the first time I think they've ever let anybody do that. And so he's gotten tangled up in some of the policy debates and himself decided to step down, I guess to pursue his career as an author.

BLITZER: And the accusations that some anonymous officials, not Michael Scheuer necessarily, but others at the CIA are making is that the White House has ordered Porter Goss to come in, clean out shop, because of the leaks that were damaging to the president supposedly in his bid for re-election.

Let me play for you what Porter Goss said on September 20th during his confirmation process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOSS: I believe it is the intelligence community's job to provide the best product to any administration. It's not a partisan question at all.

And as I explained last week, I well understand that I'm leaving one arena and, if confirmed, heading to another arena that operates completely differently, where partisan politics are not part of the job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Porter Goss, a former Republican Congressman from Florida.

He wrote this in a memo that was leaked earlier, on Monday this past week: "We support the administration and its policies in our work as agency employees. We do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies. We provide the intelligence as we see it and let the facts alone speak to the policy-maker."

Now, some have interpreted that as saying that the CIA's job is to support the administration no matter what.

WOOLSEY: Well, if you read the memo as a whole, it's a good memo. That's a couple of ill-chosen uses of the word "support," because it's an ambiguous word and it suggests that he means political support. I don't think that's the way the memo as a whole reads. It's the objective.

The CIA has to call it straight, whether it means good news for the administration or bad news. Stan and I have both had experience and both bear some scars from calling it the way we saw it. And I think Porter probably will do the same.

But that was not a well-crafted sentence.

BLITZER: Support, in this particular context, they say means help, not necessarily political support. Do you buy that?

TURNER: I will give Porter Goss the benefit of the doubt here, but it was certainly poor wording. And the question is, was it a Freudian slip?

Porter Goss, in my opinion, is a very partisan person, and he can set that aside, but he can never set aside the image that he has been a partisan person all this time.

And the last thing we can tolerate in this country is a politicized CIA. And I think one of the problems with the weapons of mass destruction was the pressure to politicize that kind of analysis way back in...

BLITZER: The faulty analysis, and it raises all sorts of other questions about U.S. credibility right now, looking down the road to Iran, for example.

A lot of people out there will say, well, if Colin Powell says he's got this intelligence that says Iran is building a nuclear bomb, they're not going to believe him based on what happened leading into the war with Iraq.

WOOLSEY: Well, Saddam had three nuclear weapons programs, enrichment programs for uranium going in the 1980s, and the intelligence community missed it and the International Atomic Energy Agency missed it.

And it was that history that led, I think, a lot of people to tilt in a way toward the conservative side, in the sense of being cautious and saying, well, he's probably got some kind of weapons of mass destruction. They also missed the biological weapons program.

Now, in Iran, there's no question they have a nuclear program. There's no question they have nuclear enrichment going on. The question is exactly in what locations, to what degree, a country that has this much oil and gas and for which these nuclear plans are so expensive, does it make any sense to think they're really doing it for electricity? It's a different situation than Iraq.

BLITZER: But we're talking about U.S. credibility right now. It may be a slam dunk, as far as Iran is concerned, by a lot of allies, a lot of people out there are going to be doubtful.

TURNER: Oh, we have really hurt ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot with the way we handled Iraq, as to whether there was a connection to al Qaeda, with whether there were weapons of mass destruction. It never was a slam dunk, we called it that, and our credibility is going to be in question for a long time to come.

BLITZER: We'll have to leave it there, unfortunately. Thanks to both of you for joining us, Admiral Turner, Director Woolsey.

And please don't forget our Web question of the week: Will resignations and new policies at the CIA improve U.S. intelligence gathering? You can vote right now. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results later on this program.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

We'll talk with former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright in just a few minutes.

First, though, a quick check of what's making news right now.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: President Bush and the leaders of 20 other Asian- Pacific nations are focusing in on the international economy at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that's taking place in Chile.

But the president also took some time out to shore up an old friendship that's been strained in recent years.

Our senior White House correspondent John King is in Santiago, and he's joining us now with details.

John?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, that effort with the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, coming here in Santiago, the president's first international trip since winning re-election.

And if what we're being told here in Santiago plays out when Mr. Bush is back in Washington, the president could be setting the stage for a rather contentious fight with conservative members of his own Republican Party in Congress.

Mr. Bush met with President Fox this morning on the sidelines of the APEC summit here. You spoke with Mr. Fox earlier in the program. He says the president gave him his word that immigration reform will be a priority for Mr. Bush in the next session of Congress.

Most controversial about what the president wants to do in a new guest-worker program is to allow workers already illegally in the United States, workers who entered the United States and broke the law in doing so, to step forward and get legal status to join this new temporary guest-worker program.

The president stopped short any of details but did say after his meeting with President Fox that this issue was a key priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told President Fox that I had campaigned on this issue. I made it very clear, my position that we need to make sure that, where there's a willing worker and a willing employer, that job ought to be filled legally in cases where Americans will not fill that job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Mr. Bush saying that he campaigned on this issue. In reality, he mentioned it only infrequently and mostly in border states where his position is popular.

But, again, the provision that would allow workers who illegally enter the United States to come forward and get legal status faces stiff opposition in Congress from many conservative Republicans. Among them is Tom Tancredo, a Republican congressman from Colorado, who says he will fight to the last to block Mr. Bush's proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: You know what this tells them? I'll tell you what this message is. You're all suckers. That's the message we sent when we give people who have broken the law the same advantages we give people who've done it the right way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So perhaps a fight for the president brewing back home.

Here at the APEC summit, the leaders gathering at the end of their discussions for another group photo, this one in business suits. They issued a final declaration promising that they would commit themselves again to broad free-trade relationships.

And, Wolf, the president will head home from here quite happy. He believes his biggest accomplishment, getting momentum to get North Korea back to the table in negotiations over its nuclear weapons program.

Wolf?

BLITZER: And we're going to have more on that coming up. John King reporting for us.

John, thank you very much.

Moving on to Iraq right now, where there have been numerous and deadly attacks this weekend. Still, the Iraqi government today set a firm deadline for holding national elections.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Baghdad. He picks up the story for us live.

Karl?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. The Iraqi electoral commission met this afternoon, early afternoon, and they've set January the 30th as the date for national elections.

They'll choose in those elections the national assembly. They'll choose a regional parliament for the northern Kurdish area, and they'll also choose 18 provincial councils for all of Iraq's 18 provinces.

Wolf, what this really does is express confidence in that the timelines and all the procedures to make these elections happen are, in fact, all on track.

Now, that will surprise some of the Iraqi general public and possibly also some international observers. They had been casting doubt on whether elections would, in fact, be possible in January, given the level of violence we've seen of late, not only around Fallujah in relation to the Fallujah offensive, but also in the number of attacks -- the violence that really has spiked over the last few weeks in Baghdad and all points around the country.

But, certainly, this does seem to be an expression of confidence that everything is intact at this stage.

We do know, of course, though, that the procedure for political parties registering to take part in the vote has gone well. We're told about 120 political parties have so far registered.

What there does seem to be difficulty though with is the voter registration process. We understand that insurgents have been both destroying some of the election paperwork, but also threatening election officials so that they don't distribute the voter registration cards, obviously making it difficult to put together a full and comprehensive voter registration list.

Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Karl Penhaul in Baghdad. January 30th, that's the deadline now for the Iraqi elections.

President Bush, as we know, is now back on the world stage this weekend, fresh from his re-election victory and a remodeled Cabinet. Helping us sort through his changes at home and his challenges abroad are two masters of world affairs: the former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger, who's joining us from Kent, Connecticut, and here in Washington, Madeleine Albright. She served, of course, during the Bill Clinton administration.

Welcome back, Secretaries, to "LATE EDITION."

Let me begin with some controversial, provocative words from another former secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger. And, Dr. Kissinger, Dr. Albright, listen to what Lawrence Eagleburger said about the president's decision to ask Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Everybody is going to speak the same language, talk the same thing. And I think what that means is that whatever influence, for instance, Colin Powell had, is going to be much less under these new circumstances.

It is not that I dislike Condoleezza Rice. I think, however, she is not the person for that job."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Lawrence Eagleburger speaking with our Paula Zahn this past week.

Dr. Kissinger, pretty blunt talk from a former secretary of state. Not very diplomatic.

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Larry is a man of strong convictions. He's a good friend of mine. I disagree with him. I don't think that one can measure the role of a secretary of state by keeping a scorecard of how often he disagrees with the president.

The secretary of state advises the president and carries out his policies. But what he advises, I think, should be between him and the president and should not be measured by how much controversy that exists in an administration.

I think that Condoleezza Rice has been close to the president. She knows his thinking. But equally important, he knows her thinking. And that can't be measured by whether there were any public disagreements between the two of them.

So I think this is a good way to start a new term and to get a cohesive policy.

BLITZER: All right. Madam Secretary, who are you closer to, Dr. Kissinger, on this issue of Condoleezza Rice, or Secretary Eagleburger?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Frankly, neither.

I believe that the president has every right to appoint whom he wants as secretary of state. And I think we all need to give Condoleezza Rice a chance. I called her up when she was named. You know, my father was her professor. So I said to her three things: One is that my father would be over the moon about this. Two, that I believe in a bipartisan foreign policy. And, three, that she and I belong to a very exclusive group.

I do think what is important is for there to be a capability to have diverse views presented to the president. And I can tell you that during President Clinton's time, Sandy Berger did a remarkable job of making sure that all our views were fully heard. We did disagree, there's no question about it. But then we went to the president and were able to present our views.

And I do think that it is important to have some kind of system that allows for different views to be presented, because otherwise the president would own have only one adviser.

BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, the decision to ask Condoleezza Rice to become secretary of state is not being done in isolation. There are other jobs that are being filled in the second term, as well.

Listen to what John Kerry said in an e-mail this week to his supporters. He said, "Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA. And the Cabinet is being made to rubber-stamp policies."

David Gergen, an adviser to four U.S. presidents, Democratic and Republican, said, "His administration," referring to the president, "has already shown ominous signs of groupthink in its handling of Iraq and the nation's finances. By closing down dissent and centralizing power in a few hands, he is acting as if he truly believes that he and his team have a perfect track record."

You understand the need for dissenting views in any administration.

KISSINGER: Absolutely. And when I was security adviser, I gave the president conflicting points of view, sometimes with my recommendations, sometimes not.

But I think the new administration should be given a chance to carry out its policies. It's in the interest of the president that he hears different points of views. And I am sure that he will make every effort to get different points of view.

But I simply reject the idea that in order to measure this, one has to have declared critics of some of the policies in the Cabinet.

BLITZER: What do you think of this Stephen Hadley, Madam Secretary, who is going to be the next national security adviser, replacing Condoleezza Rice? We don't know a whole lot about him.

ALBRIGHT: Well, he has been somebody, I think, that has worked within the process a long time. I have a great deal of respect for him, because I have seen him in a variety of bureaucratic situations. He does have very close ties with Vice President Cheney. And I think that is really the question, about where the power is going to lie in this administration. And, therefore, we have to look very carefully at what the next appointments are going to be, deputy secretary of state, what happens at the Pentagon, because this table has not been fully set yet.

But I think it is so essential for the president to have a variety of ideas and for the national security system to function. It is the only way that the president can get proper views. And, frankly, the only time that the national security adviser and the secretary of state got along was when Henry held both posts.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Well, what about that, Dr. Kissinger? All of us remember when you served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, you were, at one point, both secretary of state and the national security adviser.

Stephen Hadley moving up now from Condoleezza Rice's deputy to become national security adviser, is this a good idea?

KISSINGER: When I had both posts, it was not a good idea, because it meant that in the departmental meetings, I represented both the White House and the State Department, and this did not make for the smoothest in the departmental process.

On the other hand, having somebody move up that knows the basic thinking and that has worked together is a good idea.

In a second term, one has to remember there are only about two creative years and then a third year of consolidation and a fourth year of politics. And it's important to start with momentum. And I think the administration ought to be given every opportunity to develop its policies.

And there will be plenty of comments from the outside. There will be Steve Hadley, who also used to work for me, is a very fair- minded and good man. And I am sure that he will make sure that different points of view get put before the president. But at the end of the day, there has to be a decision.

ALBRIGHT: I do think, however, that the system did not work in the first administration, whoever is responsible for that. Because we do not fully understand the role that Vice President Cheney played and kind of a parallel national security system that he set up with a much larger staff than any vice president has ever had.

So, in terms of bureaucratic processes, we don't know what is going to happen.

BLITZER: But didn't Vice President Gore have his own national security apparatus, with Leon Fuerth running that outside the formal structure of the NSC?

ALBRIGHT: No. Vice President Gore had a couple of people. And Leon sat with us in all kind of meetings, and it was a very integrated process, because that is what the president wanted, that's what Sandy wanted. And I think that it was different from what is the largest vice presidential staff that we have seen.

BLITZER: All right. We'll pick that up and we'll talk about more, including Iran, North Korea, Iraq, the Middle East. Much more to talk about with two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. They're going to stick around and rejoin us.

And later, we'll have a panel of Democrats speaking out about what went wrong for John Kerry and the prospects for their party's future.

Our "LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're talking to two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright.

Dr. Kissinger, do you think President Bush treated Colin Powell fairly, or I guess the word is politely, given the indications he was giving that he wanted to stay on a little bit longer and they basically said to him, "You know what, this is probably a good time to leave now"?

KISSINGER: I was out of the country when all of this happened.

My view is Colin Powell is a great American who has performed tremendous services, and he is an extraordinary human being. But if a change -- well, and if Colin Powell wanted to stay for an extended period, that was something that should have been taken very seriously.

But if Colin Powell meant to stay just a few months to get some new negotiations started, then I can see a strong case for the proposition that any change that was going to happen early should happen immediately to permit a reorganization or to permit the same person to carry through the whole process.

BLITZER: I think that sort of makes sense.

KISSINGER: But he certainly deserves politeness.

BLITZER: Yes, I think you make a good point, Dr. Kissinger. And I'll ask Madam Secretary Madeleine Albright if she thinks the way this was handled, the transition from Powell to Rice, was appropriate, given the stature of Colin Powell.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it was, I think, appropriate.

The question that I have is, how come that Secretary Rumsfeld is staying on, and how long is that going to happen? Because I think that is what the signal is in terms of the direction in which this administration is going.

BLITZER: You want him to leave? ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that there is a real question about the success of the Iraq war, and what does it mean in terms of the pursuing of various policies. But it is not...

BLITZER: But it is still the middle of the Iraq war. There's elections now scheduled for January 30th.

ALBRIGHT: And there also are the beginning of negotiations and continuing negotiations throughout the world that Colin Powell was involved in.

But I come back to what I said originally. The truth is, it is totally up to the president of the United States, any president of the United States, to make choices for his Cabinet, and I do think that President Bush should be allowed to make those choices.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about some specific challenges facing this new U.S. administration, the Bush administration, the new team.

Dr. Kissinger, I'll begin with Iran and its nuclear weapons program. You have no doubt, whatsoever, that there is a nuclear weapons program. The question is, what should the U.S. and the international community be doing about it? How much further should the U.S. be going, for example?

KISSINGER: Well, first of all, I think it is something that should be handled, to the greatest extent possible, by the international community, or at least by ourselves and our NATO allies.

Secondly, we have to make a decision and determination of how much time we actually have to bring this matter to a conclusion. Because a point is undoubtedly going to be reached somewhere along the line where the program is so far advanced that no decision to abandon it is meaningful or can even be made.

Then one has to decide what incentives and pressures one is prepared to exercise. And there has to be a mix of both of these.

And finally...

BLITZER: The threat of military -- you're saying the threat of military action against Iran should be on the table?

KISSINGER: I think it cannot be excluded, but it's not a matter that the United States should easily take unilaterally.

And we have to -- our allies and ourselves and other countries have to ask ourselves a question. If we let the program go through, what do we do if a nuclear bomb explodes anywhere in the world? How do we deal with it and what will be our reaction? Can all of us live in a nuclear world?

This is a question that should be dealt with in the first instance and with the greatest intensity on a multilateral basis. And we should not discuss unilateral action until we have made a significant multilateral effort.

BLITZER: I don't think you disagree with Dr. Kissinger on that.

ALBRIGHT: No, I agree.

And I also think that the Europeans have played an important role in this, in getting Iran to try to make some agreements. I actually think the Europeans should be tougher.

But that combination of work with the Europeans is very important, but you raised an issue in the last segment. We have a credibility problem now as a result of what was not done in Iraq or how the agency played there, and for we don't know what basis Secretary Powell is making now statements about Iran.

So we have a very serious problem with how the international community views what we say about Iran. And that is the cost of a lack of credibility.

BLITZER: There's another problem that the administration has, North Korea. Listen to what the president said yesterday in a blunt message to the North Korean leader. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I can report to you today, having visited with the other nations involved in that collaborative effort, that the will is strong, that the effort is united, and the message is clear to Mr. Kim Jong Il: Get rid of your nuclear weapons programs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sounds like a little bit of the message that Ronald Reagan had to Mr. Gorbachev, "Tear down this wall."

That's blunt talk, Dr. Kissinger. But should the U.S. be engaged in direct, bilateral talks with North Korea, as the North Koreans want, as opposed to the six-party talks that have been under way?

KISSINGER: Well, I can't believe that the president made the statement after having met the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, unless he had some clear understanding with the Chinese president of the seriousness with which China views the situation.

And China and, to a lesser extent, Japan are in a very strong position to exercise influence and pressure on North Korea.

The trouble with bilateral talks with North Korea is that it puts the entire responsibility on us. It forces us then to act if there is any breakdown, and it reduces to spectators the nations that have immediately even more at stake than we do.

That six-power forum seems to be working well.

BLITZER: All right. KISSINGER: Our understandings with China and Japan and, I hope, South Korea and Russia seem, to me, adequate. And it would be far preferable to proceed on the six-party line than on bilateral talks, which would leave us as the only country with an enforcement necessity.

BLITZER: You met with Kim Jong Il, Madam Secretary. Should there be bilateral, two-way talks between United States and North Korea right now? I know that John Kerry supported it during the campaign.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I fully believe that. It doesn't mean that the six-party talks aren't important also. And when we were in discussions with Kim Jong Il, we actually had very close relations with the South Koreans and the Japanese, because we never believed that this was just on us.

But I have to tell you, North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world. We believe that the status quo was unacceptable, and the Bush administration in its first term wasted time.

And we now believe that the North Koreans have six to eight nuclear weapons, and I am very glad that the president has finally turned his attention to this issue as being vitally important.

And you don't have to give up the six-party talks in order to have the possibility of bilateral talks. We have to deal with North Korean issues.

BLITZER: One final question before I let both of you go, on the issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, who wants to be president of the United States by all accounts one of these days.

Should the Constitution, Dr. Kissinger, be changed so that even you, who were born in Germany, could become president of the United States someday?

KISSINGER: Well, I've been advocating it for 30 years.

BLITZER: So you're not giving up hope yet.

KISSINGER: But, seriously, I think it is -- that provision was put in for different reasons. And I think foreign-born should have a possibility of running for president.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, you're younger than Dr. Kissinger. You were born in Prague.

ALBRIGHT: Right.

BLITZER: So maybe you'd still become eligible.

ALBRIGHT: Well, you never know.

But I have to say this, is I think that every immigrant, like Henry and me, who has had the opportunity to serve this country as secretary of state -- and we are good, patriotic Americans -- believe that immigrants should have the right, after a very long period of residence in the United States, to run.

I, however, do not favor President Schwarzenegger.

BLITZER: All right. On that note, we'll leave it. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

You never know, maybe both of you will still have chance to run for president one of these days.

(LAUGHTER)

Up next, a quick check of what's in the news right now, including an update on a kidnapped relative of Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Then, Democrats thinking and fighting their way back. We'll talk to comedian, radio talk show host, political activist Al Franken and three Democratic members of Congress about past defeat and future hope.

"LATE EDITION" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The president is not the kind to give up a fight. His staffers were known to say, "If Clinton were the Titanic, the iceberg would sink."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush speaking at a very rainy opening ceremony of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library.

Seeing Bill Clinton back in the spotlight not only made Democrats nostalgic, it's fueling debate about why they lost five of the last seven presidential elections here in the United States, as well as seats in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Joining us now, four prominent Democrats: in Dallas, Texas, the outgoing Congressman Martin Frost. He was defeated in his latest bid for re-election. Here in Washington, Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. He was re-elected. In Los Angeles, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. She also was re-elected. And, here in Washington, comedian, author and talk show host on the Air America radio network, Al Franken, who is not running for anything, although he may be running for something down the road.

Good to see all of you here on our program.

Congressman Frost, let's start with you. What do the Democrats need to do better down the road in order to win, what they haven't been doing recently?

REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all, they need to pick and choose their opportunities and then be very tough.

For example, the right wing scuttling the intelligence bill this weekend. I think we should not let up on that. That had bipartisan support, and a small group of right wingers prevented that from being voted on in the House.

And then the Republican conference letting Tom DeLay off the hook, saying it's OK for him to be indicted and continue to serve in a leadership position.

I think that we ought to pick our spots and then go very hard.

And, by the way, Al's book, I think, is a good outline for us. Al's not just a comedian. He's a serious political person.

BLITZER: Are you inclined -- do you want to be chairman of the Democratic Party, Congressman Frost?

FROST: Oh, I think that's a decision to be made by a lot of other people. It's a very complicated decision. I am looking forward to being in private life in Washington, D.C., and we'll see what the future brings.

BLITZER: Well, you're not ruling it out then.

FROST: I wouldn't rule it out, but it's a very complicated matter, and I'd be surprised if it happened.

BLITZER: All right, Loretta Sanchez, what do you think the Democrats have to do better that they haven't been able to do yet?

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think there are really three or four things we need to do.

One, we need to recognize who our base is, and we need to work with them. And that would go to, in particular, the African-American community.

Secondly, we need to understand the Hispanic population. We need to bring them back into our fold. And where we spent the resources and we talked to Hispanics, we picked up the Hispanic vote. Where we left it untouched and where Bush put in the resources, they went away from us. So, that's a very, very significant piece for us.

Third...

BLITZER: Let me interrupt you for a second, Congresswoman Sanchez. According to our exit polls from the election, Hispanic vote was up 9 percent for President Bush. The female vote was up 5 percent.

Certainly his nomination of Alberto Gonzales to become the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States is something that's going to resonate with Hispanics.

Listen to what the president said about Mr. Gonzales.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: My newest Cabinet nominee grew up in a two-bedroom house in Texas with his parents and seven siblings. Al's mother and dad, Pablo and Maria, were migrant workers who never finished elementary school. But they worked hard to educate their children and to instill the values of reverence and integrity and personal responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congresswoman Sanchez, that's a pretty powerful, personal story that the president told about Alberto Gonzales.

What do you make of this opportunity that they have to make even further inroads among Hispanics down the road?

SANCHEZ: As I've said, they've been very good about talking to the Hispanics. I mean, that same story applies to my family. Seven kids, two parents from Mexico, three-bedroom home, worked in a factory, two daughters in the United States House of Representatives. I mean, the stories are out there.

However, if one would look back at Albert's upbringing, not only was it about his family and the values that Hispanics bring to the United States, but I bet you it also was about a good public school education, maybe about Head Start, as I had as a child, probably about Pell grants and scholarships to go to university and to go to law school, student loans.

Those are all issues that are brought forward and are worked on and are pushed by Democrats. We have a very difficult time getting Republicans to put money into student loans and into increasing Pell grants.

BLITZER: All right. Jesse Jackson Jr., what do Democrats have to do to, not only keep the core constituencies like African-Americans on board, but get further inroads elsewhere?

REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: Wolf, Democrats need to focus on two areas: message and organization. We must take the time to create and articulate guiding principles that withstand the test of time and not just see this process as every two years and then four years and six-year election cycles. We must make that commitment.

But we must also emerge as a national party and not a party that writes off the South, that writes off the Western states, that ignores whole regions of the country while pursuing a few electoral votes to deliver the presidency.

BLITZER: Al Franken, you can't disagree with that.

AL FRANKEN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I don't think we ignored the Western states. We won the West Coast. We got 49-percent-plus in New Mexico. We got about 49 percent in Nevada.

I think there's a lot of things we have to do, one of which is articulate our values. I mean, when you talk about what's moral, is it moral to launch a preemptive war against another country on false premises? I don't think it is.

Is it moral to give huge tax cuts to the very wealthy and pass that on to future generations, to our children, grandchildren, our great-grandchildren? No, it isn't.

BLITZER: But why have -- the Democrats, as you recognized, had a great opportunity this time because of those issues that you're just raising right now. Yet, despite that, Bush got 51 percent of the vote.

FRANKEN: Well, I think that a large part of it is that the media hasn't done its job. And a large percentage of Bush supporters believe the following things: that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, found them; that...

BLITZER: But what did the Democrats do wrong? Why couldn't the Democrats do a better job getting that message across? Was it the candidate, John Kerry?

FRANKEN: I think that it's partly the candidate, probably, sure. But I think also the press bears a responsibility.

Let me -- I was in the green room, and I watched an ad run by the coal people. It said "eagle." You've seen it a million times, right? The eagle flies and is coughing and lands on this thing. And then it flies off and then there's blue sky.

Do you know what it says at the end of that commercial? It says that by 2016, or it gives some date in the future, our air quality will be 70 percent better than it was in 1970.

Well, do you know how much better it was in 2000? It was over 50 percent better. And do you know why it will be considered better in 2016?

BLITZER: But it raises...

FRANKEN: Because -- wait a minute...

BLITZER: But it raises the question...

FRANKEN: I'm sorry, Wolf. Let me just finish. It's because they've eliminated CO2 as a pollutant. And the air isn't getting any cleaner.

And you guys run this ad without challenging it.

And this is my criticism, is that we can't get our message across because the media isn't doing its job.

FROST: Wolf, I'd like to add something to that. BLITZER: You blame the media, but you've got to take a look at the Democratic leadership.

Congressman Frost, let me...

FRANKEN: You asked me on here. You asked what my opinion was, and I'm telling you.

BLITZER: I'm just saying, you've got to also take a look inside.

And, Congressman Frost, I think you will acknowledge that it's not the media that's the problem for the Democratic Party. There are some other structural problems there that have cost you your re- election, among other things.

FROST: Well, that was an unusual situation, Wolf, because you had a redistricting in Texas out of sequence.

But I want to go to the overall question.

The Democratic Party has to be the party of strength. Now, that doesn't mean -- and I'm not going to get into an argument about the war, but we have to -- we're the party that supported veterans.

We're the party that stood by them while the Bush administration has cut benefits for veterans. We're the party that wants to be able to equip the troops while they're in battle and to prepare them for battle.

I think the price of admission for being taken seriously by the American people is to show that we stand firmly behind the people who fight for us.

BLITZER: But I'm going to ask the other members of the panel to weigh in, as well.

But do you believe, Congressman Frost, that Al Franken is right when he says it's the media's fault that the Democrats went down to defeat?

FRANKEN: I didn't say it was entirely the media's fault. I started about articulating our values.

But I'm saying that also a large percentage of Bush supporters believe things that were demonstrably false. And I wonder why that is.

BLITZER: Well, let me let Congressman Frost weigh in.

FROST: Wolf, let me answer the question, because a long time ago, I was a reporter before I got into politics. And we have to do a better job. More Democrats have to be willing to go on Fox, for example, one of your rivals.

We have to tell our story to the American people. And we have to scream loud and make sure that message gets through, because it's very hard to get through.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take a quick break. We'll pick up the conversation when we come back.

Much more to talk about with our panel of Democrats. The future of the Democratic Party, a lot at stake.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're talking about the future of the Democratic Party with Texas Congressman Martin Frost, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and radio talk show host Al Franken.

Jesse Jackson, Jr., is it the media's fault that the Democrats lost this time around?

JACKSON: I think there's a role for the media. And I think Al would probably make that point better than any members of Congress has, because he deals with them in more ways than many of us do.

But in order for Democrats to be successful, they're going to have to develop not just a quarterback or determine who is going to get the Heisman Trophy. We're going to have to build a winning team that includes a lot of players on the bench and a lot of races throughout the South, throughout the Western states, throughout the Midwestern states, in order to be effective.

We need to have a party-building message that transcends what happens in '06, '08, '10, '12 and beyond. And we have to do it over a long period of time.

And we can take a play right out of the Republicans' notebook. What did they do? They took big ideas, which Democrats should stand for, and they made them the biggest ideas by making them constitutional ideas. Gay marriage, supported by 10 or 11 or 12 state-ballot initiatives at the local level.

Why don't Democrats fight for education of equal high quality and health care as state-ballot initiatives at the local level?

BLITZER: What do you think? Loretta Sanchez, what do you think?

SANCHEZ: I agree with Jesse. I agree with my colleague. I believe that we made mistakes. The media certainly is not in our hands any longer, and, in particular, radio talk shows where that is completely in the opposition's hands, and they use it effectively against us.

BLITZER: But, Loretta, when you say the media -- when you say the media is not in your hands, are you saying that ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN are hostile to Democrats?

SANCHEZ: No, that's not what I said. I'm saying that -- if you would let me finish -- that the majority of people are now receiving a lot of their information out of radio. And the radio isn't in the hands of the Democrats anymore.

Many years ago, the Republicans made a very effective play. They sat down. They made a strategy. They decided they were going to put big thinktanks around, that they were going to fund them. They decided that they would buy radio, that they would use that to talk to people. And people drive in their cars, they're listening to the radio all the time. They're getting a lot of information that way.

You know, networks are losing -- you know, they're getting less and less viewership.

BLITZER: Let's bring back Al Franken, because he raised this issue.

SANCHEZ: So they're not impacting the message any longer.

But also Democrats made a lot of mistakes.

BLITZER: Major newspapers in the United States, are they unfriendly? The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Washington Post?

FRANKEN: Well, I think to some extent there has been internalized -- you said this is what the Republicans did, blame the media. And that actually worked, I believe.

I believe that the mainstream media has internalized this criticism that they've been hearing from the right and from a right- wing infrastructure, that the media is liberal. So, I think that the mainstream media is scared of its own shadow.

And, so, as a result, in the lead up to the war, The Washington Post, The New York Times, both of which have printed mea culpas, did not do their job in being skeptical about weapons of mass destruction.

BLITZER: All right.

FRANKEN: And since then, we have found out there were no weapons of mass destruction...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Congressman Frost, hold on one second.

JACKSON: Wolf, the media is not responsible for Democrats running an electoral-based campaign that focused on a few states and ignored whole regions of the country in the last campaign. The media is not responsible for that. The Democratic leadership is, quite frankly, responsible for that.

FRANKEN: I'm not saying they are.

JACKSON: I recognize that. But putting our focus on the media and not focusing on the party's leadership, we just fumble the ball.

BLITZER: Congressman Frost, go ahead.

FROST: I just want to say that Jesse is right on two major points.

One, that we have to be competitive all over the country.

And, two, that we need to take advantage of the multitude of voices within our party that can carry our message, not just one or two people.

Jesse is entirely correct, and I hope the party does that.

BLITZER: Let me just go around very quickly. If each one of you could tell us who you would like to see as the Democratic nominee in 2008.

Which one name, Congressman Frost, jumps off the top of your head?

FROST: I just want someone who can win. It's too early to make that decision.

BLITZER: Loretta Sanchez?

SANCHEZ: I would like to see someone from the Southwest. Hopefully maybe a minority or a woman would be great to have. I think that's our best chance.

BLITZER: Jesse Jackson, Jr.?

JACKSON: More important than drafting the quarterback is building the franchise.

BLITZER: Al Franken?

FRANKEN: I agree with Jesse. And I'll wait and see what state the country is in. You know, things happen. It's four years from now.

BLITZER: A lot of time to go, down the road.

Thanks to all four of you for joining us. The Democratic Party's got a full agenda ahead of it, a lot of challenges out there.

Up next, the results of our Web question of the week. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our "LATE EDITION" Web question of the week asks this: Will resignations and new policies at the CIA improve U.S. intelligence gathering?

Take a look and see how you voted. Eighteen percent of you said yes; 82 percent of you said no. But, remember, this is not a scientific poll. Let's take a quick look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines in the United States.

U.S. News & World Report looks at saving soldiers, new techniques, especially in Iraq.

Newsweek magazine is mad about housewives, behind TV's guilty- pleasure hit, mad about housewives, "Desperate Housewives." That's the new TV show.

And Time magazine focusing in on the most amazing inventions of 2004, all on the cover.

And that's your "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, November 21st. Please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

I'm here Monday through Friday, twice a day at noon and 5 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.