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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Governor-Elect of Washington Discusses Tight Election; What Will 2006 Elections Bring?

Aired November 30, 2004 - 15:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I submitted a formal letter of resignation to the president.

ANNOUNCER: The homeland security secretary is stepping down. Who might replace Tom Ridge in the job of protecting America?

BEVERLY ECKERT, 9/11 FAMILY STEERING COMMITTEE: America will be watching what Congress does next week to see who is really running this country.

ANNOUNCER: Incensed over intel. Nine-eleven families join the debate over the blocked reform bill. And the 9/11 commissioners lobby the vice president.

North of the border, President Bush works to mend fences in Canada.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is fortunate to have a neighbor with whom we share so many ties of values and family and friendship.

ANNOUNCER: The GOP in 2005. Will big heads get in the way of a big agenda?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, and the Republicans are certainly sounding as though they're full of themselves.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

At this hour, Canadians demonstrating their anger at President Bush, as he begins a two-day state visit to the country.

Let's go right to Ottawa and our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.

Hello, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. You're looking at protesters who, essentially, have dispersed in within the last 15 to 20 minutes. Not very many compared to what we saw before. There were really thousands here before outside of Parliament Hill.

But the reason why you're seeing such an incredible show of force here is because President Bush is due back in the building across the street, at the government conference center, in about 30 minutes or so. That's when he's going to be meeting with an opposition leader in that building.

But what you're seeing here, of course, is Canadians who are demonstrating a wide variety, array of topics in which they have problems with the Bush administration on issues.

Of course, the overwhelming issue, Canadians against the Iraq war. This country refused to send troops. Of course, this country, many of its citizens, also far apart on social issues, abortion issues, gay rights. It has a federalized health care system.

And latest polls show that two-thirds of Canadians say that their opinion of President Bush over the last four years has gotten worse.

Now it was earlier today that President Bush with the prime minister, Paul Martin, both of them trying to put a positive face here, a positive spin on all of this. President Bush even making a joke about how he's being received.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I frankly felt like the reception we received on the way in from the airport was very warm and hospitable. And I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave, with all five fingers, for -- for their hospitality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Both of the leaders, of course, trying to put a positive spin on this. They say they want to try to warm relations, Canadian/U.S. relations that have been rather chilly.

But these two leaders, however, personally they like each other. It's simply a matter of policy, both of them expressing a desire to work well into the future. They both talked about a number of issues that they have concerns and disagreements over.

The ban on beef, imported beef from Canada. That is something the president said he was working on, he was addressing. Also, the tariff on lumber. That is something that the Canadians have been very upset about it. It has cost them billions of dollars.

And the WTO said it was illegal, as a matter of fact. It's a decision that the U.S. is appealing, but both of them addressed that concern.

And of course, the top priority for both administrations is really about security. It is about that border that they share and essentially allowing that border to be porous enough to allow trade, people to go back and forth, unimpeded. At the same time, of course, making sure that it's not a gateway to terrorists -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So Suzanne, bottom line, are these demonstrations affecting the discussions and the relations between the two countries?

MALVEAUX: Well, certainly, it's an outward force of -- a demonstration, of attention and a lot of disagreements between Canadians and some Americans here.

This is something that's being expressed on the street. But it also has been expressed as the highest levels of government. Even some members of Parliament who have come out with anti-Bush statements, saying it's the coalition of the idiots, meaning the Iraq war coalition. A number of people expressing themselves that way.

But it seems as if it's not necessarily affecting the talks themselves, that both of the leaders seem very much determined to say that they're on the same page. They're moving in the right direction. But they want to improve relations -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Suzanne Malveaux in Ottawa, thank you very much.

Well, even as the president and his Canadian counterpart talked about the war on terror, a new development unfolding here in Washington with the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Ridge made the announcement a short while ago.

More now from our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve.

Hi, Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.

Tom Ridge met with President Bush this morning and submitted his letter of resignation this afternoon, saying he would serve until February 1, or until a successor is confirmed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIDGE: I think we've accomplished a great deal in a short period of time. As I said to the president, there will always be more work for us to do in homeland security.

But if you take a look at many of the innovations, the improvements to security, the enhancements to safety at ports of entry, the partnerships that we've developed with the state and locals and the private second sector. Just all and all, I think it's a reflection of the commitment and the dedication and the energy and the professionalism. Really, the combined power of about 180,000 people strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MESERVE: Ridge was tapped by the president to be his homeland security adviser shortly after 9/11. And when the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, Ridge became its first secretary.

Ridge has won generally high marks for his affability and ability to communicate with the public. But there are some inside and outside of the department who feel a stronger manager is needed to create a more effective DHS.

And some say what the department also needs going forward is a savvy political player, who can win some of the turf and money battles here in Washington.

The guessing game now, of course, who will be the second secretary of homeland security? Many names have been floated. Among them, Frances Townsend, who is currently the White House homeland security adviser. She is very well liked by the president and enjoys his confidence.

Another name that has come up, Asa Hutchinson, currently under secretary for border and transportation secretary. Although there have been some problems within his directorate which some observers think may make his selection less likely.

Also mentioned, Mike Leavitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and former governor of Utah. He helped there with security around the Salt Lake City Olympic games, which were held not long after 9/11.

And Mitt Romney. He was president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic organizing committee. So dealt with security there, as he does in his current job, governor of Massachusetts.

As for Ridge, he told reporters today he wants to step back and take a deep breath and devote himself to some personal and family issues. High on his agenda, attending some of his son's rugby matches.

The speculation has been he will go to the private sector for awhile, at least. And some believe he may have presidential ambitions down the road -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, is it fair to say, Jeanne, the White House happy with Tom Ridge's tenure? Or what?

MESERVE: What I've heard is that they were quite happy with them. And there was speculation in these last few months that they might ask him to stay on for awhile. So apparently, the White House was pleased. Apparently, this is a Ridge decision, not a White House decision.

WOODRUFF: Jeanne Meserve, thank you very much.

Well, advocates of intelligence reform say that homeland security may be at risk if Congress fails to pass legislation this session. The year-end battle for the bill began in earnest today on several fronts.

Here now, our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton huddled with Vice President Cheney in a last ditch lobbying blitz for the stalled intelligence reform bill.

The former 9/11 Commission co-chairs are also making their case to Congress, warning of dire consequences if the stalemate isn't broken.

THOMAS KEAN, CO-CHAIR, 9/11 COMMISSION: Reform is an urgent matter. And reform simply must not wait until after the next attack.

HENRY: The White House says President Bush wants a deal. Despite the objections of the Republican committee chairmen, James Sensenbrenner and Duncan Hunter. But one Republican lawmaker suggested if House leaders do not bring the bill up for a vote next week, the president should get the blame.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: If we don't have a vote on September 11, it will be my feeling that the president didn't weigh in strongly enough.

HENRY: Besides the divide between powerful Republicans, there's a split between 9/11 families. Some say this bill isn't strong enough.

DEBRA BURLINGAME, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR SECURE AMERICA: Why we need to have this pass now? I'd rather see it fail than it would be without these revisions.

HENRY: Others say reform can't wait.

ECKERT: America will be watching what Congress does next week to see who is really running this country. Is it Congressmen Hunter and Sensenbrenner? Is it the Pentagon? Or is it the president?

HENRY: One woman who lost her son on 9/11, argued passionately that Sensenbrenner's immigration provisions be included.

JOAN MOLINARO, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR SECURE AMERICA: No bill should pass the Senate, the House, anywhere, unless it contains immigration reform. You secure our borders. You keep my girls alive. You allowed the murder of my son. I will not allow you to kill my daughters.

HENRY: Former 9/11 commissioners, meanwhile, disputed Hunter's contention that a new director of national intelligence will hinder key information from reaching military troops in the field.

LEE HAMILTON, VICE CHAIR, 9/11 COMMISSION: It is wartime. We would not support a bill that undercuts support to our troops. The commander in chief supports this bill. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Republican Congressman Chris Shays today challenged President Bush to come to Capitol Hill next week and make the case directly to Republican lawmakers behind closed doors.

Shays is convinced that if the president makes that direct appeal, a majority of Republicans will support the bill and it will get this done in the final part of the lame duck session of Congress -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Ed, so any sign of give on the part of Congressman Duncan Hunter or Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner?

HENRY: No, not right now. But I spoke to Lee Hamilton this morning, one of the 9/11 Commission co-chairs. He told me that White House lawyers are working behind the scenes very hard right now, trying to craft a language, a final language for this legislation that will please Duncan Hunter, in particular, and make him convinced that this will not hurt troops in the field.

They're also trying to massage the language, as well, obviously, to appease the concerns of Congressman Sensenbrenner. But they are working on that behind the scenes. So far, though, those two congressmen are not budging -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting. Ed Henry, thank you.

HENRY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: By the way, I spoke a short time ago with 9/11 Commission chief Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton about the fate of intelligence reform. That interview is ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

In Washington state, does Republican Dino Rossi feel like a winner after the recount in the governor's race? I'll talk about him about the election results so far and the expected challenge ahead.

Plus, are Republicans on the hill going too far in celebrating their election gains?

And later, all about Arnold Schwarzenegger. You may be surprised what you learn when his wife opens up.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The overtime race for governor of Washington state leads the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily."

The Washington secretary of state today certified the results of the state's machine recount. Republican Dino Rossi appears to have defeated Christine Gregoire by just 42 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast. Even though Rossi was certified as governor-elect at today's news conference, the race still may not be over. On Friday, Democrats are expected to request a hand recount of ballots in at least some parts of the state. A statewide hand recount could take up to a month to complete.

Shortly after the Washington recount results were certified, I spoke with Republican Dino Rossi about his incredibly close race for Washington governor. Given the unique circumstances, I started by asking him if he is declaring victory.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DINO ROSSI (R), WASHINGTON GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: What we're doing is we're going to have a -- a thank you party tonight, at 7 p.m. for all of the volunteers, because today, we were certified for a second time as the winner and now governor-elect of the state of Washington.

WOODRUFF: Well, but what, a margin of 42 votes out of 2.8 million cast.

ROSSI: Certainly.

WOODRUFF: Are you the winner? Or was this more of a tie?

ROSSI: No, a tie is actually when you tie. When -- when you're one vote ahead, you win. When you're one vote behind, you lose. And so it definitely is not a tie.

WOODRUFF: The Democrats are expected, now, to ask for a hand recount, either a partial or a full statewide recount. Are you going to go along with that or not, if they do?

ROSSI: I don't have a choice. If they want to -- if they want to do this, they have to pay for it. But they've been chanting all along that they want every vote counted. So they really should pay for the whole state of Washington if they really do want every vote counted.

WOODRUFF: If you are, indeed, victorious, do you feel like you're -- I mean, how do you pull the state together? I mean, and do you feel you govern as a Republican? Or I mean, do you -- do you, you know, try to make happy the other half of the state, almost, that voted for Christine Gregoire?

ROSSI: Well, I have to represent everybody in the state of Washington. How we won this campaign and how we won this election was not just Republicans, but it was independents and a whole lot of Democrats that came out and supported me. We had so many Democrats involved in your campaign, they started calling themselves "Dinocrats."

And we welcomed anybody that wanted to work in good faith to turn this state around. And there are many of the Democrats that are already on my transition committee and my transition team. And as a state senator, I had -- what I did in Olympia was work across party lines, seeking out philosophical majorities, versus partisan majorities. So nothing will change. I'll just do what I do.

WOODRUFF: Is Washington state hurt in any way by this prolonged uncertainty?

ROSSI: The election process could be if she calls for a hand recount. We've already won the election. Election night -- or the election count. And then, we won the recount.

But if she calls for a hand recount in selected areas, I think that that would be very difficult for many people. That's why a lot of the newspapers in our state are calling on her to concede.

WOODRUFF: What do you think she's going to do?

ROSSI: I have no idea. I know what I'm going to do, though.

WOODRUFF: But you're saying it will hurt the state if she and the Democrats call for a hand recount?

ROSSI: Well, it's going to take weeks. It's going to take weeks to -- to actually sort through it. And -- and even the Democrat auditors in our state say it's less accurate than the machine recounts. A hand recount is less accurate.

So you have the Democrats state auditors are saying this isn't the way to go. Even the newspapers in our state, saying this isn't the way to go. Concede.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to say congratulations for now, anyway. Dino Rossi, certified today...

ROSSI: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... again, as the governor-elect of the state of Washington. Thanks very much.

ROSSI: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Previewing the agenda for the 109th Congress. Coming up, we'll look ahead at the big issues in the new year. And we'll consider who might be at-risk in the 2006 midterm elections.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: It's the last day of November and the current Congress is still in session. But GOP leaders in the House and Senate are preparing an ambitious agenda for when the next Congress convenes in January.

I recently previewed the 109th Congress with Stu Rothenberg of the "Rothenberg Political Report" and Amy Walter of the "Cook Political Report."

I started by asking Stu how the new Congress will be different from the current one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, and the Republicans are certainly sounding as though they're full of themselves. They think that they have substantial majorities, working majorities. Certainly in the House, they decided to push the envelope, whether it's Dennis Hastert or Tom Delay, whoever you want to listen to.

This is a Republican Party and a Republican Congress that seems emboldened. And it was already pretty bold, even with a narrow majority.

So I think they are going to try to think big, I think, in terms of the president talking about Social Security reform attacks, reform and the like, drilling in the Arctic. I think they're going to try to take it all on.

And we'll just have to see whether events help them or conspire against them, in terms of funding, financial issues, or whether international events refocus attention to foreign policy.

We keep talking about -- about domestic issues, but Amy, it always gets back to foreign policy, doesn't it?

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Yes.

WOODRUFF: Amy, what should we look for from this new Congress?

WALTER: Here's something that's interesting, too, is that Congress has actually tackled a lot of these issues. Stu brought this up, that this has been a Congress that has been pretty emboldened over the last few years. Whether it's prescription drug reform, Medicare prescription drug reform, education reform, tax cuts.

Yet at the same time, this Congress hasn't really had to talk about those issues in the last couple of elections, 2002, 2004. They were about international issues. They were about the war on terrorism. They were about the war in Iraq. They're about President Bush.

This 2006 election could be the first time where actually, these members of Congress have to answer for a lot of the legislation that they've been passing for the last few years.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about 2006. Clearly, the members who are up for re-election are already thinking about it, even though we're not even a month away from the last election.

Stu, I mean, what are some of the things you're looking at on the Senate side? ROSENBERG: Well, we're obviously going to be looking for retirements. That's always the big deal. Who's going to seek reelection or who isn't? Who's going to live by their self-imposed pledge?

We're looking at Republican senators in -- in Democratic states or states that John Kerry carried. So we'll be looking at Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, who sees himself increasingly as a vocal, important member of the leadership. Maybe as a presidential candidate down the road.

Chafee, Senator Snowe in Maine, these kinds of Republicans in difficult states.

WOODRUFF: What do you think?

WALTER: Looking at the same things, who's going to retire or take another job certainly very important. The kind of challengers that these incumbents get.

Remember, 2004 was much more about who retired than who beat incumbents.

And so, we're going to also look for the red states. Stu talked about the blue ones. For the red states, you're going to look at folks like Ben Nelson in Nebraska, Bill Nelson in Florida. Those are a couple of...

WOODRUFF: The two Nelsons.

WALTER: The two Nelsons. You're going to hear a lot about those two.

And you've got Robert Byrd in West Virginia. And you have Herb Cole in Wisconsin, not a red state but a swing state. Those are kind of the folks that are going to get a good look.

WOODRUFF: Do the two Nelsons, Bill in Florida and Ben in Nebraska, do they automatically start out at a disadvantage, Stu?

ROTHENBERG: I think they start out in trouble. I think any Democrat in a Republican state now has to be very wary. Now we don't know what the dynamic is going to be like. It may be fundamentally different. It may be just good news to be a Democrat in 2006, depending upon how the president does in the war.

But if you're the Nelson boys, you have to start off assuming that the Republicans are coming at you and you're in a Republican state.

WOODRUFF: No relation.

ROTHENBERG: No. Actually no relation.

WOODRUFF: What about on the House side, Amy? Is it -- can we say if the Democrats have any hope? They clearly didn't get anywhere close...

WALTER: In this last election. That's right.

WOODRUFF: ... to success in this one.

WALTER: The second term, midterm election traditionally is good for the party out of power. Because traditionally, the party in the power -- the party in power tends to overreach. All these things we talked about earlier. And so they tend to lose seats.

In the House, the average has been 29 seats lost in these second term, midterm elections. That would be good news for Democrats. The problem is, I don't think we can find 29 seats that are competitive. Only 40 incumbents this year took 55 percent of the vote or less.

So you're already starting with a very narrow field, unless there is really tremendous upheaval: a lot of members retire; there's a big scandal; something like that. I find it hard to believe that we're going to see a field expand much bigger than we've seen in the last few years.

WOODRUFF: But that doesn't mean, Stu, that they're not raising money as if they do have a contest on their hands, right? I mean, all these safe incumbents?

ROTHENBERG: No. Sorry. They never think of themselves as safe. They always want to raise money. They always want to intimidate the opposition so they don't have a serious opponent.

But, look -- the cycle hasn't really even begun. Let's wait until after the first of the year before starting the 2006 cycle.

But having said that, I suspect the dynamic will favor the Democrats over the next few years. I think the Republicans control everything. There are significant issues out there.

I think there are Republican constituencies that have some -- they're going to demand a lot from their own -- from those Republican legislators. And I think there's going to be a challenge for Republicans to deliver to satisfy their constituency groups.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Stu Rothenberg and Amy Walter, two smart cookies.

Is the intelligence reform bill putting President Bush's credibility and authority on the line?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMILTON: This is the first major test of his political clout, after the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Coming up, an urgent plea by the leaders of the 9/11 Commission to pass the bill. My conversation with Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton just moments away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Just after 4:00 in the east as the markets close on Wall Street. I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hello, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Judy. The economy continuing to grow at a healthy rate. Consumers however becoming more cautious. Third quarter gross domestic product coming in at a faster than expected annual rate of 3.9 percent. Solid consumer spending helping boost economic growth and inflation, the tamest it's been in decades. However corporate profits moving lower, dropping 2.4 percent from the previous quarter.

In a separate report showing the consumers are less confident in the economy than in November. Consumer confidence fell for a fourth consecutive month. Stocks today moving lower on Wall Street. Retailers led the decline on worries about the holiday shopping season as the final trades are now being counted on Wall Street. The Dow is down. Just about 43 points. The Nasdaq down 9. The dollar continues its slide against the euro, falling to yet another record low on lingering concerns about the size of the U.S. current account deficit.

Wal-Mart plans to lower its prices leading up to Christmas after the retailer reported weak results during the Thanksgiving weekend. Wal-Mart says its strategy of avoiding big discounts backfired. Its competitors chose to do those big discounts. Cable TV prices not being discounted at all. In fact, going up again. Most providers planning to raise rates over the next year. Comcast, the nation's largest cable company will, raise the fees by nearly 6 percent on average. Nearly double the rate of inflation. Despite fierce competition from satellite television.

It was a record year for auto recalls. Automakers recalled more cars, trucks and SUVs in this country this year than ever before. Nearly 25 million in all. General Motors recalled more than ten million units. Toyota, about 900,000, four times as many as last year. Honda recalling more than 250,000.

Wall street analysts saying that record number because of complex technology used in today's cars and greater vigilance regarding defects and overall lapses in quality.

Coming up tonight on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," our special report: "Overmedicated Nation." Tonight we take a look at how the pharmaceutical industry is bypassing doctors heading straight to the consumer. Drug companies spending billions of dollars on massive advertising campaigns pushing pills.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIA ANGELL, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: So if they can convince fairly normal people that they have medical conditions that need treatment, they have greatly expanded their markets. They are, for example, trying to convince virtually every adult male in the United States that he has erectile dysfunction. They're advertising the condition as well as the drug.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Also tonight. The takeover of America. We examine the onslaught of Chinese goods into the U.S. marketplace. From cheap manufactured goods to high technology electronics.

Also tonight the intelligence reform bill remains a high priority in Washington. I'll be joined by Congressman Christopher Shays. A member of the homeland security committee, he'll explain why he says the president must step in to get that bill passed.

And exporting America tonight, not all companies outsource to cheap overseas markets. Plenty are choosing to send their work north to Canada. We investigate why tonight.

Now back to Judy Woodruff in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Lou, you mentioned intelligence reform. I know you're going to be covering it. In fact, I talked today with the chair and the cochair Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean. We're going to be airing that in a minute. But I want to know from your perspective, Lou, because you've been following this very closely. What do you think the prospects are for intelligence reform?

DOBBS: I think that given the amount of political pressure being bought to bear and an interesting way in which some are trying to put the president back at the forefront of this fight, I think it is unlikely that we're going to see that reform bill passed. The question is should it be passed as well, Judy. And that question is open. I've talked with nearly all of the top intelligence people over the past decade in this country and they are very leery of this legislation. In addition to that, the issues on border security, the 19 hijackers on September 11, 63 valid driver's licenses. The issue is, would September 11 have happened had we proper border security? The answer in every case is no. This legislation does not speak to that issue.

WOODRUFF: All right. Lou Dobbs, as you heard him say, he's going to be addressing it on "LOU DOBBS" at 6:00. We'll see you then. Thanks very much.

DOBBS: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reform is urgent matter and reform simply must not wait until after the next attack.

ANNOUNCER: A powerful plea to Congress to pass intelligence reform. We'll speak with the leaders of the 9/11 commission.

KWEISI MFUME, PRESIDENT, NAACP: I have decided to step down from the presidency of the oldest and largest civil rights organization in our country.

ANNOUNCER: Why is the head of the NAACP calling it quits?

Is Howard Dean the front runner a new political contest? We'll take a look at the battle over who will lead the Democratic party.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The war on terror at a turning point today. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has handed in his resignation. And will leave his post once a successor is confirmed by the Senate. And the heads of the 9/11 commission are engaged in 11th hour lobbying for the stalled intelligence reform bill, hoping to get it passed by the current Congress. In Canada today President Bush offered reassurances that he is on their side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the bill is necessary and important and hope we can get it done next week. I look forward to talking to Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist here before the week is out to express to them why I just told you in public I'm for the bill again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: I spoke today with the chairman of the 9/11 commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton. I started by asking about the charge by some 9/11 families that the intelligence bill does not make the country safer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Well, it would have thousands of people on border security patrols. But basically what they want is a tougher bill, a bill that's tougher on a number of issues. That's not the choice. The choice is between this bill and no bill. There's not an alternative out there. You can take this bill and pass it and toughen it up in the next Congress if you want to. But if you don't to pass this bill now you're going to go six or nine months with nothing on a single additional protection from the American people.

WOODRUFF: How much harder does it make your work, Congressman Hamilton, to have 9/11 families out there saying you're not -- that you haven't created a product that, in their mind, would prevent another 9/11?

LEE HAMILTON, 9/11 COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN: We've been very appreciative of the support we've had from the families generally. We're dealing with very complex subject matters. They're not going to agree with everything that we do. What we have done is we have put together a bill, obviously with the help of Congress, that sets a framework for counterterrorism policy in all of its aspects not just intelligence and not just immigration but in border security, aviation security, foreign policy, assistance to first responders and all the rest. This is not a perfect bill but in any major piece of legislation you always get it passed and then you improve it in the years ahead and that's what will have to be done here.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the bill as it is. The president has said he's for it, the White House says he's for it, but it's not -- you still have significant opposition from two Republican committee chairs in the House of Representatives. What's going on here? Is the president for this or not?

KEAN: The president said he's for it. He said he's for it in the campaign, he said he's for it since the campaign. The vice president has said he's for it. Rumsfeld said the other day, he supported the administration on the bill. I think they're for it. And this president, when he says he's for something, he's for it. That's one of the attractions to the American people about this president. Is he's direct whether you agree with him or not. He keeps his word so I think he's for it, I think he's working for it and my hope is that work is going to pay off in its final passage.

WOODRUFF: But if the president of the United States who was just reelected can't get the members of his own party on board, what does that say?

HAMILTON: Any members really had questions and they thought that it was being forced upon them to vote on too quickly. And they were reluctant to make a firm commitment even to the president. But look, the opposition amounts to several sentences in hundreds and hundreds of pages of the bill.

WOODRUFF: So what you're saying you'll be willing to let that language go?

HAMILTON: No, this is -- what you have out here -- it's very difficult to change Washington. I come from outside of Washington but I know. People are very resistant to change. People are supporting the status quo and they're hanging on to it. And that's understandable. You've got to change the status quo in this new century, fighting a new enemy.

I think most people recognize it, 80 percent of the American people support us on this. And I've never seen a bill with support of the president, the vice president, the leaders of both parties and the House and the Senate that hasn't passed. I hope this isn't going be the first one. I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) optimism.

WOODRUFF: Well, we know you're going over this afternoon to meet with the vice president. Is this a tactical meeting or is there still serious divisions inside the administration about how enthusiastic...

HAMILTON: We've not had an opportunity to talk with either the president or the vice president for weeks. The campaign, understandably, preempted their time. Now we have the opportunity just before the Congress comes back. The president's not available today. He's in Canada. We'll speak with the vice president. And we want to coordinate what we do with the vice president. We'll raise some questions with him. I'm sure he'll raise some questions with us about how best to proceed.

WOODRUFF: How -- are you convinced the administration is united? We've already heard from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Myers, who says he agrees with Congressman Hunter.

HAMILTON: Chairman Myers' letter is the basis of much of the premise behind your question. That letter did not object to the chain of command. The letter was a highly technical letter relating to budget process, how a budget is prepared and how the money flows. It had nothing to do with the tactical military intelligence available to the war fighter. Now, the questions raised by General Myers are fair enough, and we've tried to accommodate -- I think we've accommodated much.

WOODRUFF: Is the president's authority at stake here?

HAMILTON: Absolutely. The president has a lot at stake here. This is the first major test of his political clout after the election. He's said over and over again, I support this bill. Now, if he fails to get that bill through, he has to be worried about the signal that sends about his own political clout with his own party. So I think he's got a lot at stake here. I think the Congress has a lot at stake. But aside from politics, what is really important here is the safety of the American people.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Lee Hamilton, former New Jersey governor, Tom Kean, they are the chair and cochair of the 9/11 Commission.

And now to the aftermath of the November 2nd election. At least one thing seems certain today about the Washington state governor's race after the results of a machine recount were certified. The contest makes a statement about the influence of third-party candidates.

Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The official margin of victory for Republican Dino Rossi over Democrat Christine Gregoire in the race for governor of Washington state after a recount: 42 votes, out of more than 2.8 million votes cast. That's about one thousandth of a percent.

SAM REED, WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE: As we look back over Washington state history, there has never been anything close to this in terms of a major race.

SCHNEIDER: There was a third candidate in the race, Libertarian Ruth Bennett. She had a big issue.

ESSEX PORTER, KIRO: The Ruth Bennett campaigned largely on the idea that she supported gay marriage. Neither the Democrat nor Republican candidate in this race supported gay marriage. SCHNEIDER: Bennett ended up getting just over 2 percent of the vote. Doesn't sound very impressive. But compare the Republican's victory margin of 42 votes with Bennett's total of more than 63,000. If Bennett had not been on the ballot, it's reasonable to assume that many of her socially liberal votes would have gone to Gregoire, the Democrat. So what, says Bennett?

RUTH BENNETT, WASHINGTON GOV. CANDIDATE: If Christine Gregoire wanted those votes, then she needed to earn them.

SCHNEIDER: When races are that close, third parties have a lot of clout.

BENNETT: If we can swing that half a percentage point or quarter of a percentage point, whatever it's going to take, to influence the direction of the election, well, then that's an opportunity we should take.

SCHNEIDER: What about the presidential race? Democrats were fearful that Independent Ralph Nader would make a difference this year, just like he did in 2000. But Nader's vote collapsed, from nearly three million in 2000 to nearly half a million this time. Unlike 2000, there was not a single state where Nader got enough votes to swing the state to Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (on-camera): In the intensely polarized presidential race, Nader got squeezed out. Even though many major elections this year were close, no third party or independent candidate got enough votes to make a difference, except in that race for governor of Washington State -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Hmm. Very interesting. And by the way, Bill, we have an update on what's going on in Washington State. We've learned that the Democratic party will, indeed, file for a hand recount. They're trying to raise enough money to pay for a statewide hand recount, which would cost about 3/4 of a million dollars, but they say if they raise short of that, they will pay for whatever amount of a recount that they can cover.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, under the law they had until Friday to ask for a recount.

WOODRUFF: Right. And it is their bill -- they pay the bill if there's any kind of recount. All right, Bill, thanks very much.

At the NAACP today, a change at the top. What may lie ahead for Kweisi Mfume?

Also ahead, who will get the top job at the DNC? The inside story on the insiders promoting themselves for the job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Kweisi Mfume resigned today as president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, saying he needed a break and wanted to spend more time with his family. When Mfume took over the nation's oldest civil rights organization, it was plagued by scandal and financial crisis. The former congressman from Baltimore will likely be remembered for quickly restoring stability. Our Bruce Morton has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In nine years as president, Kweisi Mfume brought the NAACP back to optimism and financial health.

KWEISI MFUME, FORMER NAACP PRESIDENT: Nine years ago, many of you will remember that we were mired in debt and we were steeped in doubt. But today we finish eight straight years with a budget surplus.

MORTON: He's quitting, he said, to spend more time with his family, with his youngest son.

MFUME: I don't want to miss another basketball game and I don't want to be absent from another PTA meeting and since he's in his first year of high school, I want to be there to help sew on the varsity letters on his sweater.

MORTON: A return to politics, run for the Senate as Maryland's Paul Sarbanes retires, who knows? The NAACP's feud with the Bush White House? Well, he called earlier after the election to wish the president well and now...

MFUME: Just before I came down, I got a call from the White House and had an opportunity to chat with Karl Rove, who was calling on behalf of the president to do as I had done several weeks ago, and that was to extend best wishes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These critics missed the point.

MORTON: What about an IRS investigation into the group's tax exempt status after an anti-Bush speech Julian Bond?

JULIAN BOND, NAACP CHAIRMAN: I never thought that anyone in the United States who headed any kind of organization, non-profit or not, wasn't allowed to criticize the president of the United States.

MORTON: And the successor to Mfume? There will be a search committee. It could take months.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Democrats regroup after Election Day. Up next, as the party tries to put its political defeats in the past, we'll look ahead to the race for party chairman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As Democrats assess the results of November 2nd, we continue to keep a close watch on the race for Democratic Party leader. With me now to talk about the maneuvering for DNC chair, Chuck Todd, he is the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal."

All right, Chuck, first of all, what's the status of this race?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Well, the good news is there is a meeting of state Democratic Party chairs taking place in Orlando on December 10th. What that means is, any candidate interested that isn't a gigantic name or a current elected office holder is going to have to have some presence at this meeting.

We already know, for instance, that Leo Hindery, who is the former chairman of the Yes Network, who has the support of Tom Daschle, the outgoing Senate minority leader, is bringing operatives down with him to campaign down there.

Martin Frost, the outgoing congressman who just got ousted is making phone calls. Howard Dean, of course, we already knew was making phone calls. And Donnie Fowler, who is the son of a former DNC chair, Don Fowler, he is actively campaigning. And now I understand that Simon Rosenberg, the head of head of the New Democrat Network, who is sort of a -- got a following -- a cult following among the Democratic -- more active Democratic bloggers is going to be headed down to Orlando to campaign.

So we're getting a better picture of who the candidates are because of this event.

WOODRUFF: So that's basically how they're campaigning. That's what they're doing. What are some other names? I just saw a long list.

TODD: Well, that's what's interesting, those are the active candidates and none of them, of course, are household names. You say these names to people, Leo Hindery, you have to explain who and who he is. It's the bigger names that are still sort of sitting back.

Outside of Howard Dean you've got these guys like Jeanne Shaheen. OK, there is no woman candidate currently actively pursuing this so there are a lot of women in the party who would like to see Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor, try for this.

Ron Kirk, the unsuccessful Senate candidate from Texas in 2002, is somebody that some people would like to see. Wellington Webb is sort of straddling the fence, a former mayor of Denver, whether he's going to be a full-fledged candidate or not, but some African-American -- major African-American player is going to be a candidate here.

And so these folks seem to be sitting back waiting for these lesser-known folks to sort it out whether they decide to parachute in. And I think that that's something, again, that hopefully will be sorted out in Orlando. WOODRUFF: So is it literally, Chuck, a matter of lobbying the members of the Democratic National Committee one by one by one, is that how this gets done?

TODD: Well, the beauty of the state chair things for these guys is that the state chairs are in essence elected by some of these DNC members within their own state so they could become power players. There are 50 of these guys could control 50 votes; for instance in California or -- you know, that's what's going on interesting about following the state chair thing. One of these state chairs might turn around and say, hey, guess what, I've done this on a state level, maybe I want to be a candidate. And so we've been hearing whispers maybe Art Torres, the chairman of the California party, or Jim Pederson, the chairman of the Arizona party.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, when you sat down, you made a comment about something that John Edwards is quoted as saying about his running mate, John Kerry.

TODD: Well, it was interesting down in -- he has been doing this tour of North Carolina. And he was asked about the presidential campaign and he would not criticize John Kerry by name, but it was interesting the quotes that he was saying which sort of said that the next presidential nominee is going to have to have a message that he sort of feels inside himself and sort of is part of his value structure. It was a backward critique. And I guess everybody has expected some sort of split between Kerry and Edwards at some point because Edwards wants to run.

WOODRUFF: And we're going to see -- have a report on John Edwards in North Carolina today -- tomorrow on the program. Chuck Todd, thanks very much, "The Hotline." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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