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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

'Turkeys of the Year'; Brazile vs. Buchanan

Aired November 25, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips in Atlanta. INSIDE POLITICS up next. But first, here's the headlines.
An amazing story of survival in Wisconsin. A 15-year-old girl bitten by a bat has become the first person ever known to survive rabies without a vaccine. Doctors used an experimental combination of drugs and induced a coma for about a week to stave off infection.

More folks heading out the door at the CIA. "The New York Times" reports that the head of the Europe and Far East divisions are retiring. This would make five high-level departures at the agency this month alone, and the latest since Porter Goss became CIA director in September.

Hundreds of professional hockey players will start receiving lockout pay from their union now. The Canadian press reports that each player will get $20,000 for the rest of 2004 and up to $10,000 a month from then on. They missed three paychecks since the NHL lockout began in September.

A lot of folks are taking their hard-earned cash and heading straight to the stores. A number of big retailers are opened this Thanksgiving. People can get a jump on holiday shopping. And it's a chance to walk off -- walk off that turkey.

Wisconsin police are on yellow alert and have issued an all- points bulletin for a six-foot SpongeBob SquarePants that was Shanghaied in Sheboygan. A thousand bucks being offered as a reward for information leading to the perpetrators. Bet you detectives can't wait to wring a confession out of them.

More headlines in half an hour. Sorry.

Now, your special Thanksgiving edition of JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Pardon me. President Bush may have spared a holiday bird, but did he escape our analyst list of the "Turkeys of the Year?"

Now playing, morals at the movies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

ANNOUNCER: Are the values that supposedly swayed voters on Election Day on display on the big screen?

On this Thanksgiving, we spend some time with U.S. troops back home and healing after serving in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't hasten (ph) to do this all over again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for spending some of your Thanksgiving with us.

We begin by going straight for the dessert, or you might say by giving a few miss-stepping politicians their just desserts. Yes, it is time for a hallowed Thanksgiving tradition here on INSIDE POLITICS, served up as usual by our own Bill Schneider.

Hi, Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. Let's talk turkeys.

Foolish creatures, overstuffed, noisy and self-important. A lot like politicians. Feathered turkeys ended up roasted and carved on the Thanksgiving table. Political turkeys end up roasted and carved our on Thanksgiving list. So bring on the political "Turkeys of the Year" and let's carve them up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): How do you become one of the political "Turkeys of the Year?" By doing something pretty foolish. Let's see who makes the cut.

Turkey no. 5: Remember Jack Ryan, who won the Illinois Republican primary for senator? Ryan insisted that the sealed papers from a custody dispute from his ex-wife, actress, Jeri Ryan from TV's "Star Trek," contained nothing embarrassing. But the "Chicago Tribune" sued for access and found some spicy stuff, but no cheating.

JACK RYAN (R), FMR. ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: There's no allegation of infidelity or of breaking of any laws. Kept all civil and criminal laws to my vows to my spouse.

SCHNEIDER: But Republican leaders were angry over Ryan's lock of candor. Rather than go through what he called a "scorched earth campaign," Ryan withdrew from the race. You know what they say, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Turkey 4: How about a little turkey for the Democrats? Like the time John Kerry went windsurfing on his summer vacation. Someone must have told Kerry windsurfing is all the rage in Youngstown, Ohio. Sure enough, footage of Kerry being blown this way and that made its way into a Bush campaign commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry, whichever way the wind blows.

SCHNEIDER: Concerned about appearing out of touch, Kerry decided to compensate by dressing up in neat camouflage duds and going bird hunting in, where else? Ohio. The turkey hunting the geese?

Turkey no. 3: President Bush had his turkey moment during the first campaign debate. He appeared to be unaware that his every reaction was being caught on camera. And boy, did Bush react. Like when Kerry talked about earning respect from allies...

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think we have a lot of earning back to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety seconds.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Uh...

SCHNEIDER: And when Kerry talked about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

KERRY: He would have still done everything the same way. Those are his words.

SCHNEIDER: The president did not look very presidential in that debate.

Turkey 2: An independent turkey? Yes, there was one. Has anyone ever figured out what Ralph Nader was doing in this race? Nader claimed he was helping defeat George W. Bush.

RALPH NADER (I), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democrats are steering attention away from our criticism all over the country of George W. Bush. And they just are fighting themselves.

SCHNEIDER: This in a year when Democrats were remarkably united and disciplined. Nader's support collapsed from nearly three million votes in 2000, to less than half a million this year. At least this time, Democrats can't blame Nader for elected Bush.

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for: the Turkey of the Year. It goes to the winner of last year's invisible primary, the candidate who raised the most money and topped the polls in 2003 so that his nomination seemed inevitable. Until Iowa.

Iowa Democrats decided to go with the candidate who had a better chance of beating Bush. Dean came in third in Iowa, behind Kerry and John Edwards.

What really took the air out of the Dean balloon wasn't the defeat. It was the scream. Which came after the caucus results were announced.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then we're going to Washington, D.C. to take back the white House. Yeah! SCHNEIDER: What got into him, the world said in amazement. This turkey was done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Stick around tomorrow, when we'll have, what else? Leftovers. But today, it's time to answer my annual Thanksgiving question.

What three national disasters would occur if you dropped the Thanksgiving platter? Answer: the downfall of turkey, the breakup of china, and the overthrow of grease. So for the sake of world peace, be careful out there.

WOODRUFF: And we never get tired of hearing those answers.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: And we love the hat.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, yes, there is always room for error in politics. But there are also reasons to be thankful, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. That was the subject of my holiday chat with former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: It is Thanksgiving Day. It's so good to see both of you, Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan.

Donna, let me start with you. What is it that Democrats, if anything, have to be thankful for?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, as a country we're thankful for our troops who are serving our country so well. But as a Democrat, we're thankful that John Kerry didn't get blown out like Michael Dukakis in 1988. He did carry, you know, well over 48 percent of the vote.

The Democratic Party is thankful that we have so many new activists that stood in long lines to vote, so many new voters that participated in the process. And so many new donors. So I think we have a lot to build upon for the future.

WOODRUFF: Democrats have a lot to be thankful for, Bay, huh?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I'll tell you, that's a glass half full, I must say, Donna. Most optimistic of you.

They have -- I'm, of course, happy for the Democrats that they found a pro-lifer to be their leader. I thought that was wonderful in Hear Reid. Something I didn't expect from you all. But of course Republicans have an enormous amount to be thankful for at this stage.

The White House, the House, the Senate is in much stronger position than they were. And a mandate. A mandate from the people, and a conservative one, which I think many of us are really thrilled to know that it defined the direction that the people want this country to go in. And I think the president feels emboldened by it, as do the House members.

WOODRUFF: Is that what the Republicans should be thankful for, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, I mean, of course they're going to take this narrow victory and make it a mandate. But Democrats are thankful that we have Nancy Pelosi in the House to lead us in the future, and, of course, Harry Reid, who you mentioned.

We're also thankful that the president, who said that his job is very hard, very tough, incredibly tough, is now willing to reach out to Democrats. And that's something to be thankful for. We're also thankful that John Ashcroft resigned, as well.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Poor Donna, she has to go deep in that well to find things to be thankful for. But it is a -- it looks like it's going to be a very exciting couple years for Republicans.

You know, we're -- I'll tell you, many of us are enormously thankful, Judy, that we're not going to have to watch our man Kerry, John Kerry, on television every night for four years. We are thrilled that he was beat. That was something we were a little nervous about after eight years of Bill Clinton.

WOODRUFF: That's in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Bay. But Bay, what about on the Republicans?

You know, some are saying maybe they're over-reaching. You know, with the House leadership giving special dispensation to Tom DeLay. If there were an indictment, he could keep his leadership position, a Republican committee chairman in the House. In essence, defined the president on the intelligence reform.

BUCHANAN: You know, that's something we should be as Americans so thrilled about. Because so many times in the last couple years, the House Republicans, which have a -- tend to be conservative, have just fallen over with the president making a phone call. They've say no, OK, we'll abandon our agenda and go with the president's.

If there is a conflict between the president and the House, the House should recognize it. They really should fight for the people they represent. And that's what they did this weekend.

Judy, that is probably the most exciting thing since Election Day. And equally as exciting as Election Day for many of us.

BRAZILE: Well, for Democrats, we're thankful that there's some policy wonk on Capitol Hill who found a little provision that was tucked into this omnibus bill that would allow those lawmakers to see our tax return. So we're thankful for the congressional staffers who still do their job, despite the Republican majority. We're also thankful that Halliburton is not cooking our turkey, meaning we can have perhaps have a lot more of it today than what they paid for.

BUCHANAN: I tell you, I suspect it was a congressional staffer that put that little thing in that omnibus bill that suggested that they could actually look at my tax return and your tax return at will. And so I am delighted. And we should get rid of more of that stuff while we're at it.

WOODRUFF: But Donna, what about Bay's point, that it's fine if there are members of Congress, of the president's party who disagree with the president on intelligence reform or something else, to go their own way? What -- how do the Democrats view that?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, I...

WOODRUFF: I mean, do you just -- they just stand by as onlookers?

BRAZILE: I think the president's in -- the president's going to have to use some of his political capital in order to get his agenda through, including intelligence reform. Look, this president now has a mandate perhaps to work with the Democrats, to try to change the tone in the nation's capital, bring civility back to our nation's capital. And he should reach out and make that happen.

Now, the Republicans will not go lockstep with him. I guarantee you George Bush will not be out on the stump in 2006 working very hard to reelect those fellows.

BUCHANAN: He certainly will, because he wants more of them. On most of those things they'll be with him.

But, Judy, the key here is the House Republicans should recognize that they have a responsibility to those they represent. And when the president calls on them to do something that they don't think is in the best interest of the country, they have to stand up and say no occasionally. And so then, they will get more of the agenda.

That's what -- I think this mandate was a conservative mandate. And it was a mandate for people in Congress to make certain...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: They owe their jobs and their futures to George Bush.

BUCHANAN: Absolutely not.

BRAZILE: He was the driving force in the 2002, 2004 election. And let me just say this, on a positive note, we also should thank Tom Daschle for his years of service. And Dick Gephardt, a friend of mine, who we will miss next Thanksgiving. WOODRUFF: Very quickly, last year this time, we had Thanksgiving dinner. We talked about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. What are you eating this Thanksgiving, Donna and Bay? What's on the menu?

BRAZILE: Well, because I'm doing the red blue thing. So I have red snapper stuffed with blue crab. And my traditional New Orleans gumbo.

WOODRUFF: Very good.

Bay, what about you?

BUCHANAN: And I'm bringing the cookies. I'm the baker. And this time my sister-in-law's turkey will be just terrific.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we wish both of you a happy Thanksgiving.

BUCHANAN: Thank you. Same to you.

WOODRUFF: Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile, thank you. We'll see you next week.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: On this holiday, in a nation at war, many servicemen and women are thankful to be alive. Up next, we head to the hospital with the Navy surgeon general to visit U.S. troops on the mend.

Also ahead, can't they all just get along? We'll talk with two senators trying to bridge the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

Plus, fumbled theories. We will revisit the Washington Redskins and other alleged predictors of the presidential race.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: These holidays can be a difficult time for military families whose loved ones have been killed or wounded in Iraq. The Pentagon says at least 51 troops have been killed in the Falluja offensive that began two weeks ago, and 425 wounded. That is the highest casualty count for any battle in the Iraq conflict.

This week I spent some time with wounded troops, along with the Navy surgeon general. They shared their stories, their pain and their commitment to their country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Walk into Building Ten of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and you'll find a solitary statue, two men carved out of wood.

VICE ADM. DONALD ARTHUR, NAVY SURGEON GENERAL: This is the unspoken bond. It's a wood carving of a Marine in World War II being cared for by the omnipresent corpsman.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): And it's those corpsman who are there during combat, to care for those who may get hurt?

ARTHUR: Yes. And you can't tell them apart from the Marines until someone gets injured and the corpsmen are right there at their side. And they are the ones who are saving these Marines' lives in combat.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Now, meet the real thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was supposed to be able to do exactly what my Marines do and do my job as a medic.

WOODRUFF: Hospital Corpsman Fabian Vargas (ph) joined the Navy out of 17, right out of high school. He was 21 when he deployed to Iraq on August 25 of this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My job as a hospital corpsman is to provide medical aid to any of my Marines. It could be the smallest thing as a blister, to a gunshot wound, to an extremity.

WOODRUFF: And so, about two weeks ago, hospitalman Vargas found himself in the middle of Falluja, bunkered down with a platoon guarding a weapons cache, under martyr fire from insurgents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're heading in a straight line. And I see two of my guys go down. And as a corpsman, it's my duty and my job to go and provide aid.

So I saw that happen. I got up. And as soon as I got up and was going to run across the street, I heard and felt the blast next to me, ma'am.

And it was maybe 10, 15 feet away from me. But I didn't feel a thing. I didn't feel a thing.

I just saw my -- I just knew I dropped my weapon. So I was going to reach down and grab my weapon, but my left arm wouldn't respond. So I looked down at my arm, and it was pretty much dangling.

WOODRUFF: He quickly fashioned a tourniquet. But then, he got woozy and felt like he was floating away in a haze of blood and morphine. He woke up after surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I was losing my arm. I thought I was -- I thought I was going to be an amputee.

And the doc said that, you know, "It looks like I'm going to have to take your arm off." But he went in and he felt -- felt for my pulse, looking for my pulse. And he said, "Oh, I feel a slight pulse."

And then he said, "Try to wiggle your fingers." And I held on to my rosary. And I remember I was praying.

And I said, "Please, god. Please, let me move my fingers."

And I felt my middle finger just kind of twitch. And I just -- I had seen that. And I was like, "Look, my finger's moving." And he pretty much said, "OK, we can do something for you."

WOODRUFF: Three surgeries later, and hospitalman Vargas can move his thumb. Feeling has come back to his arm. But his heart remains in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to mention my buddies back in the rear and my other buddies that have gotten hurt. And they're not forgotten. They're always on my mind.

And I would go back in a minute, ma'am, just 'cause -- at least I know I could make a difference for them.

WOODRUFF: All Americans, he says, should remember these men, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say be proud of them. Because we're only doing our job.

We're not the ones who make the big decisions. We do our job. And I feel that, for that, and for that particular reason, we should be held up with high -- high regards.

WOODRUFF: In the same hospital room, Lieutenant Victor Lin is recovering from injuries he suffered when the ambulance he was riding in was struck by a makeshift bomb. He knew instantly that both his legs were broken.

He knew this because Lieutenant Lin is a doctor. He joined the Navy as part of the health professional school program. He was on his first tour of duty.

LIN: I would (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to do this all over again. The mere fact that I was injured, there's surgeons and people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) murdering and maiming coalition forces and innocent Iraqi civilians.

We're doing the -- we're doing the right thing over there. We're making a difference. And I was glad and honored to be part of that process even though I'm not directly involved in the combat. So...

WOODRUFF: Lieutenant Lin says his experience in Iraq will enrich him as a doctor.

LIN: My belief, it gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of what the other patients have to go through when they receive care. And I believe, ma'am, that it will help me to eventually become a better physician in terms of the human -- the human aspects of medicine in the process.

WOODRUFF: Eighty-five Marines and Navy personnel injured in Iraq are recuperating here at Bethesda Naval, which has been an uptick in casualties since the Falluja offensive began. Rear Admiral Adam Robinson is the commanding officer here.

REAR ADM. ADAM ROBINSON, COMMANDER, NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER: The staff thinks of these young men, mainly men, some women, as their brothers and sisters. My staff has been with them night and day since they have arrived. And they will stay with them until they leave.

WOODRUFF: Inspired by a duty to serve, and an unspoken bond as close as family.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Every one of them is a hero.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Next up, a check of top stories this Thanksgiving.

Plus, we all know how the race for the White House ended. But what about all those presidential predictors? Do they stand up to the test of time?

And later, a different take on the campaign. Stick around. We'll serve up treats from the trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Happy Thanksgiving. I'm Carol Lin. More INSIDE POLITICS after these headlines. Like American soldiers around the globe, U.S. troops in Iraq are celebrating Thanksgiving Day. For Marines in Falluja the mess hall spread, well it featured not only turkey, but roast beef, pork and plenty of extras. It was the first hot meal in weeks for many of the Marines who had taken part in the battle for Falluja.

And although President Bush didn't make a return trip to Baghdad this Thanksgiving, he did put in some phone calls to U.S. troops stationed overseas. Mr. Bush relaxing with family members at his Crawford, Texas ranch and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings.

And Crawford ranchers better leave a little room for some birthday cake. First twins Jenna and Barbara Bush are celebrating their 23rd birthdays today at the western White House.

And now Orelon Sidney has got your holiday forecast.

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Here is a look at your next 48 hours. Storm system is moving into the west and out of the east. Our eastern storm system will still bring you some rainfall as we go through the evening hours, snow in the great lakes though it's going to be light, mainly two to four inches in most areas. Look for mountain snows out to the west as well, nothing like the snow we saw yesterday, especially in parts of Michigan, picked up almost a foot of snowfall.

Leavenworth, Kansas came in at 7 1/2 inches. That's all gone for now. There will be some lingering snows through the western great lakes on Saturday. Cold temperatures through the Rockies and snow expected all the way out east towards Denver. The south looks great as we go through Saturday, Friday, but Saturday doesn't look so hot. That's when a new storm system starts to roll in and you will find cold temperatures through New England, perhaps some heavy rainfall across parts of Lake Michigan and through the state of Michigan and some scattered showers and thunderstorms expected down to the south. High temperatures will still be warm in the southern plains, the 30s and 40s will be the best you can do across much of the northern tier states. You will continue to see cool temperatures, slightly warmer for parts of New England on Saturday.

LIN: Great. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more news but right now, back to INSIDE POLITICS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. THOMAS CARPER (D) DELAWARE: This is not the House of Representatives. This is the United States Senate and like it or not, this place works differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: But is the Senate becoming as partisan as the House? We'll meet two former governors, one a Democrat and one a Republican who are working together to make the Senate a more congenial place.

Welcome back to this Thanksgiving edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. We will look at efforts for harmony in the Senate in a few minutes. But first, in these waning days of November, the holiday season is upon us. But more than a few Americans are clinging to their presidential campaign memories. Whether your hopes were fulfilled or dashed on November 2nd, was the outcome more predictable than we imagined weeks ago? By some measures, maybe not.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): They are the old wives tales of our business. The Redskins lose their last pre-election home game and the incumbent loses the White House. The American League wins the championship and Democrats dominate the World Series of politics.

Wrong and wrong. This year the Skins lost and George Bush won. The Sox soared and John Kerry, well, he didn't.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I'm proud of what we stood for in this campaign and of what we accomplished.

WOODRUFF: Two tales tarnished as science trumps superstition again.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Is there any news value to that?

WOODRUFF: Not for Keating Holland, our polling guru and a man of science if there ever was one.

HOLLAND: Sometimes you just see an interesting pattern and it happens to hold true for a while until it doesn't.

WOODRUFF: And so he dismisses football forecasting and baseball barometers and --

HOLLAND: Cookie polls, or polling kids.

WOODRUFF: And all those other silly little so-called political predictors we junkies obsess over. And he takes gleeful pleasure in trumpeting the year's best election fortune teller.

HOLLAND: Almost every poll that was sponsored by a news organization came within a point or two.

WOODRUFF: OK Keating, but you and your colleagues aren't the only oracles. For a bunch of academics, elections are equations with variables like war, the economy, scandal, charisma and so on and so on. Several sages built models around these matters and most turned out right. Certain states bank on their soothsayer status like Missouri, which since 1900 has picked every winner but one. And of course -- no Republican has ever won the White House without it. But before you smarty states start gloating, remember this, what the political gods giveth, they also taketh away.

HOLLAND: For every election between 1984 and 2000, the tiny state of Delaware voted the same way as the winner of the popular vote year after year after year. It was an unbroken streak.

WOODRUFF: Delaware's pick this year -- Are you listening, Ohio? Picking candidates is no tea party so don't trust the tea leaves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: But don't think for a minute we're going to give up on reporting those prognostications in the next election.

The big holiday movie season now is under way after an election in which moral values played a feature role. CNN's Jennifer Michael looks at the films Americans are flocking to and whether they reflect the values that apparently were important to voters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER MICHAEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heading into this Thanksgiving week all four of the top grossers at the box office were either PG or G. Sure kid-friendly fare tends to be big around the holidays, but could Americans be casting their votes for family values in movie theaters across the country just as many did, according to exit polls, on Election Day?

POLAR EXPRESS, COURTESY: WARNER BROTHERS: Sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

MICHAEL: What could be more wholesome than the "Polar Express"'s dreamy take on a child's faith in Santa Claus and "The Incredibles" tell us that even if you are a superhero, it pays to have the wife and kids by your side through good times and bad.

THE INCREDIBLES, COURTESY: DISNEY/PIXAR: I know you miss being a hero and your job is frustrating, but I just want you to know how much it means to me but just stay at it any way.

COURTESY: PARAMOUNT PICTURES: Hooray.

MICHAEL: "Sponge Bob Square Pants" may not be the brightest bulb under the sea, but that doesn't stop him from squashing a plan for world domination.

SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS: I will rule the world.

MICHAEL: A "New York Times" reviewer jokingly promotes Sponge Bob as the yellow antidote to America's red state/blue state fever. But as election officials know, there can be only one winner.

NATIONAL TREASURE, COURTESY: WALT DISNEY: You think there's a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence?

The map is invisible.

MICHAEL: "National Treasure" topped the charts the weekend before Thanksgiving. It bested its animated rivals with lots of animation, steeped in American history instead of Rambo-style gore. So is R- rated fare out? Hardly.

BRIDGET JONES, COURTESY: UNIVERSAL PICTURES: I happen to have a very high regard for your (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MICHAEL: The Bridget Jones sequel is pulling in big bucks with its sexual content and adult themes. And new on the big screen -- "Alexander" is somewhat different from the traditional big budget epic in that it more than hints at the title character's love affair with another man.

The bio pic "Kinsey" also deals openly with the famed sex researcher's bisexuality as well as his work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Kinsey's findings are shocking.

MICHAEL: Some religious and conservative groups are protesting the film because they see it as a celebration of the sexual revolution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL: Both "Kinsey" and "Alexander" were just released nationwide. As the box office grosses come in, we should get a clear picture of the way morals are playing at the movies. Jennifer Michael, CNN, Atlanta. WOODRUFF: Jennifer, thank you.

With the often bitter presidential campaign behind us, are Republicans and Democrats really committed to political healing? Coming up, I'll talk with two senators who say yes.

And later, it's feast or famine in our Thanksgiving edition of campaign news daily.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm Sergeant Wesley Ward (ph). I'd like to send a special hello out to all the families of Bravo company 15 infantry first platoon. A special hello to the wives of 3rd squad, Lulu, Gloria, and Nicki, Chrissy and especially my wife Regina. I love you and miss you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm Specialist Coon (ph) from Orange County, California. I would like to say happy Thanksgiving to my parents Greg and Cassie and wife Leslie. I miss you and love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is Private First Class (UNINTELLIGIBLE), just want to say hi to my family, my mom, my dad, all my relatives in Los Angeles and I want to say hi to my wife and my two little daughters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: We appreciate hearing from the troops.

Partisanship now seems to be a rock-solid piece of the political landscape in the United States. Just look at the red and blue divide in the last two presidential elections. But as we know, partisanship can cause serious problems and now new efforts are under way to get Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together for the good of the company.

Earlier I spoke with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Thomas Carper of Delaware who are pushing bipartisanship. I first asked Senator Alexander where the push to get both sides working together came from.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R) TENNESSEE: Well, partly from Tom Carper. A number of us have been talking. He and I were governors. We always worked together. We get here in Washington and we are always in team meetings. We are together when we pray, prayer meetings, when we vote, when we travel. The rest of the time we are in team meetings trying to outwit each other and that makes it more difficult to find the personal relationships that make it easier to work together. So we said, well, maybe we can create a more bipartisan environment by working on an orientation for the new senators and talking about that.

WOODRUFF: So you had some sessions now. You have been talking about how to do this. What makes you think it's going to work? It's one thing to have governors working together in different states, but in an environment where you are voting all the time and trying to beat each other, how's it going to work here?

SEN. THOMAS CARPER (D) DELAWARE: When Lamar and I were elected as new governors we, before we were sworn in as governors in November of the year we were elected, we were invited to the new governor's school for new governors and for their spouses. We spent three days together with the faculty of current governors and their spouses and all they tried to do was to help us, to help us to acclimate, to learn where the old guys and gals had made their mistakes, where they'd screwed up to try and make sure that we did not.

And during those three days together we had breakfast together. We had lunch together. We had dinner together. We stayed in the same place. We really got to know each other across party lines, not just the new folks, but the veterans as well. And what Lamar and I enjoyed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to do was to take the model of the National Governor's Association and junk plunk it right down in the U.S. Senate.

WOODRUFF: But again, why would it work in the Senate? It's a different...

ALEXANDER: There's a very practical reason it'll work. Most of the senators can count and the magic number in the Senate is not 51 which is an absolute majority and it's not 55, which is a Republican majority, it's 60. Nothing really happens over here unless you have some consensus. We actually do about 90 percent of our business by unanimous consent. In other words, if we don't get consensus, nothing happens.

WOODRUFF: You are making some pretty, what sound to the outsider to be some pretty simple recommendations, that there be no night sessions after 6:00 on Mondays and Tuesdays, no, what is it, more breakfast get togethers, is that right?

ALEXANDER: Well just some forum, just some time when we are not in a team meeting.

WOODRUFF: Team meeting meaning parties...

ALEXANDER: Team meeting, the Republicans are altogether. The Democrats are altogether. Now we're going to fight over some things because we have principles, but if we are trying to fix immigration or if we're trying to fix Social Security, we're going to have to work across party lines and to do that -- we will be able to do that more easily if Tom Carper and I have some time each week when we can see each other. WOODRUFF: But Senator Carper, we've just come off an election where the Republicans, as you both know very well, not only won the White House, won the Senate, increased your margin in the Senate and in the House. What's the incentive do you think for the other party to compromise?

CARPER: Lamar's already said it. In the Senate you don't get much done on controversial issues unless you've got 60 people. The Republicans have 55. They don't always vote as a bloc. They need some Democrat support. In my conversations with Senator Frisk and Senator Mitchell, the Republican leaders here, I've urged them to take a number of confidence-building measures, things that they can do with respect to funding for committees, staffing for committees, not trying to drop the nuclear depth (ph) bomb we call it on the ability for the minority to stand up and say, you know, certain things are wrong. We just can't go there. On our side, there's a need for us do be willing to reciprocate. The president can do a lot. I think the president going to the dedication of the Clinton library and the words that he said were helpful. The president's early nominations to fill the cabinet vacancies will be helpful. The president's early nominations for judicial vacancies will be helpful.

WOODRUFF: But Senator Alexander, you also heard the president in his first news conference after the election saying words to the effect the people have spoken. I feel I have a majority behind me. And I intend to do what I think I was elected to do.

ALEXANDER: Well, of course he does and I understand that and Tom does. We're both governors. The president's job is to set the agenda and move it on out. If he didn't do that, we would think he didn't know what he was doing. Our job is to respond to that and the Senate can't respond to it unless it does it in a bipartisan way. So if the president will have an immigration reform plan, we can work better on it, because it's very controversial, if we work together on it and come up with some consensus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We'll find out a little more about this effort by Senators Alexander and Carper to build bipartisanship just ahead. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm Private First Class Christopher Coral (ph). I'm from (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Mexico. I would like to wish my family a happy Thanksgiving and tell my wife Rosa hello that I miss her and I love her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Sergeant Steven Holland (ph) from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I just want to tell my friends and family happy Thanksgiving and I miss you a lot. Hopefully I'll be home soon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Private Matthew Drow (ph) from Indiana. I just wanted to wish everybody back home a happy Thanksgiving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: And now more of my interview with Senators Thomas Carper and Lamar Alexander about their efforts to forge closer ties between Democrats and Republicans. Senator Alexander notes there was a time when lawmakers were able to get to know each other better on a personal basis, helped by a senator from Rhode Island.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER: Back in the late '60s and early '70s, Senator John Pastori (ph) from Rhode Island, who was a little fiery guy. The Senate had gone on to about 6:15 in evening and it regular like clockwork. He would stand up and say Mr. President, Mr. President, Mrs. Pastori is cooking dinner. He would say Mr. President we have families and Senator Mansfield who was the majority leader, would just shut the Senate down, happened every night. Only in an emergency would the Senate go on into the evening. As a result you had Tuesday nights, you had 10 or 12 Senate couples who would get together, get to know each other, have dinner together and create the personal basis for a working relationship.

WOODRUFF: Why couldn't that happen now?

ALEXANDER: Well, because we usually meet on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursday nights, so that couldn't happen very easily now.

CARPER: And the other thing, we are invited to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) receptions and dinners. We do a lot of fund-raising. We do a fair amount of that in the evening, both parties do that. Individuals do that, so there's usually a whole lot going on in the evening. People say to me why do you think this orientation is going to work? What I say is, if we keep on doing what we have always done, we will keep on getting what we have always gotten. It's just the time to do things differently and we are determined to make sure that happens.

WOODRUFF: The bottom line is Senator, you want to win elections. You want your party to increase its majority.

ALEXANDER: When I was governor and I think as senator I'll find the same people, it's good politics to be effective. Plus even if it's not, we are here to serve. I'm not up here just to play politics. I'm up here to try to deal with the war on terror and education and a lot of other things at a very serious time in our country. And I think most senators feel that way. So I want to be effective when I'm here. I want to be principled. There's some talk around Washington that coming to a compromise is unprincipled. I think it's the most principled work because we have conflicts of principles and we need good legislators to try to resolve those conflicts.

WOODRUFF: What is at stake in this? CARPER: Getting back to the question you posed to him, I like winning elections and I like to see Democrats win elections. I also like to see thoughtful moderate Republicans like Lamar win elections. I want to get stuff done and it's the old governor I think in us that we don't like this partisanship. We don't like the gridlock. We came here to accomplish things, good things. I think it was Rutherford B. Hayes who said, good policy makes good politics. If we do the right thing, we will get elected.

WOODRUFF: But you know at the same time, you just had some deeply partisan, some people with very strong feelings elected in your party to the Senate. What is the incentive for some of these new members like frankly Senator Coburn, Senator DeMint.

ALEXANDER: Senator DeMint for example wants tax reform. He can either make a speech about tax reform or he can pass a law about tax reform. If he and I and the president want to pass a law about tax reform, it'll have to include lots of Democrats or it won't pass in the United States Senate and he knows that.

CARPER: Through last week's orientation, any number of senior Republicans, Trent Lott, Don Nickles, Ted Stevens came and spoke to all the newly elected senators including the six who come over from the House and they said to them point blank, this is not the House of Representatives. This is the United States Senate and like it or not, this place works differently. And one of the things that drives this institution is our ability to work across party lines. It may not be that way in the House today. It's been that way in the Senate and if we're unable to recapture that, that civility, we're not going to have much success.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Democratic Senator Tom Carper, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander. We'll see what happens.

On a day when food is front and center, there's a little more to digest as we look back on the presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name's Sergeant Damian Walker (ph). I'm from Fort Lewis, Washington here at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Iraq. I want to say hello to my wife Candice and my friends and family back in Tacoma, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm staff sergeant Timothy Lloyd (ph) from Mosul, Iraq. I'd like to say hello to my wife Heidi, my family in Tacoma, Washington. Heidi, I love you. Happy Thanksgiving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: We appreciate those greetings from Iraq.

Election 2004 has been sliced and diced and analyzed in practically every way imaginable. But in this Thanksgiving edition of campaign news daily, we try to get to the heart of the Bush/Kerry contest in a way befitting this food laden holiday, through their stomachs. A review of the videotape of John Kerry campaigning reveals the Democrat essentially ate his way across America. We are not talking tofu. Over weeks and weeks on the trail, cameras caught the lean, health-conscious Kerry sinking his teeth into an array of snacks from popcorn to ice cream, as well as a few fast food delicacies.

By contrast, we rarely if ever got a good glimpse of George Bush with his mouth full, even when he had food in hand or on his plate. Whether he's ordering a sandwich or ice cream or sitting down to a pancake breakfast or a lunch with the troops, we never see him take a bite. A coincidence or a savvy campaign move that helped to clinch his victory? Hum.

While we didn't see him eating much on the campaign trail, the president and his family we are told will be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner today at their Texas ranch. On the menu, leftovers. The president played host to the king and queen of Spain yesterday and they served a traditional turkey and stuffing lunch. So, the White House says it will be more of the same today. Turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, pan-roasted root vegetables and corn bread stuffing.

And on that mouth-watering note, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. CROSSFIRE is just one minute away but first a news update from the CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

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


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