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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

John Edwards Says Good-Bye; 9/11 Families Lobby to Make Difference on Capitol Hill; Bush Tries To Warm Up Relations with Canada

Aired December 1, 2004 - 16:00   ET

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


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Lou Dobbs in New York. A big rally on Wall Street. Oil prices fell sharply today. A triple-digit gain for the Dow Jones Industrials as the final trades are now being counted. The Dow gaining just about 160 points. The Nasdaq adding 41 points on the day.
Crude oil prices falling down more than $3 a barrel. Settling under $46. A government report showed inventories higher than expected. Positive signs for our economy as well. Consumer spending and income stronger than expected in October. An indication the economy is off to a solid start. And the manufacturing sector grew at a faster pace in November. The Federal Reserve says the Labor Department improved as well over the past month.

The leaders of America's top corporations have a generally upbeat outlook on our economy. According to the survey of CEOs the economy would grow at a healthy rate over the next year, although not at the level seen this year.

CEOs cited health care costs as the biggest drain on corporate profits followed by litigation and, of course, energy prices.

Tonight on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," in Arizona a landmark anti-illegal immigration initiative now being held hostage by the federal court system. A federal judge last night blocked the will of the people and put Proposition 200 on hold. That initiative would deny state services to illegal aliens, it was drafted to survive just this kind of legal challenge. The supporters of Proposition 200 nervous because the bill is now being defended by a governor and attorney general who originally opposed it, but they say they will win in court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY PULLER, YES ON PROP. 200: You can never say that it's guaranteed. But I think we're on pretty sound constitutional law basis, and we're confident that we will prevail on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Also tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. New calls for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign in the wake of the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal. My guest tonight Senator Norm Coleman, chair of the subcommittee investigating that scandal. In our special report, "Overmedicated Nation," nearly 40 percent of all Americans can't afford to fill their prescriptions. We'll take a look at the risks many of us are taking to get the medications we need.

And our face-off tonight, there's no debate that the FDA isn't working. Tonight we debate how to fix it in order to protect your health and your life. I'll see you back here again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only is this fight not over, I'm not through fighting.

ANNOUNCER: John Edwards' farewell tour. Does his swan song as a senator mark the beginning of his next campaign?

Ground Zero in the fight for intelligence reform. Is the lobbying by 9/11 families making any difference on Capitol Hill?

Northern exposure. President Bush takes another shot at warming up relations with Canada.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two prosperous, independent nations joined together by the return of NHL hockey.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. At a time when Democrats are struggling to get their political act together, many are keeping close tabs on John Edwards. He's spending some of his last days as a U.S. senator on a farewell tour of his home state of North Carolina. But sometimes good-bye is more like see you later. And that may be especially true for the failed but still fighting vice presidential nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EDWARDS: The truth is, when I cross that line into North Carolina, my blood pressure drops automatically.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): John Edwards, former presidential candidate, former running mate soon to be former senator. He came back home this week to say thank you but not good-bye.

EDWARDS: Not only is this fight not over, I'm not through fighting.

WOODRUFF: Which begs a lot of questions, at least for us reporters. The senator's supporters who gathered in Greensboro yesterday seem to know what he's getting at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the question is will you be on the ticket in 2008?

WOODRUFF: He didn't answer.

EDWARDS: Bless your heart, thank you.

WOODRUFF: It's almost as if Edwards' disciples are in a holding pattern. Talk in Greensboro yesterday afternoon and Raleigh last night was not of what could have been but of what still will be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, our future something, and my good friend, John R. Edwards.

WOODRUFF: Edwards basks in the praise but won't take the bait. Won't talk about his political future beyond saying that he's weighing options, speaking engagements, foundation work.

EDWARDS: And I also want to say a word about Elizabeth.

WOODRUFF: The senator's first priority is tending to his wife, recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

EDWARDS: She's been strong as all of you would expect, and she says to me over and over, yes, this is tough, but millions of women across this country who are just like me.

WOODRUFF: The family will be moving back to a new North Carolina home in the spring. And from there John Edwards will rededicate himself to that fight he keeps talking about.

EDWARDS: There is a common set of values around which we can unite this country, and I'm also here to tell you there's a common set of values around which we are going to unite this country.

WOODRUFF: John Kerry, the Boston Brahmin, wasn't able to do that. Now Edwards while heaping accolades on his onetime ticket mate is drawing subtle distinctions.

EDWARDS: Everywhere you go they have great fancy food. And of course what I always wanted is pinto beans and cornbread.

WOODRUFF: When he talks about what America needs...

EDWARDS: The values you learn growing up on a farm or in a small town in North Carolina.

WOODRUFF: He seems to be talking about himself. His advice to the Democrats...

EDWARDS: Reach out to all the red parts of America to make sure that people know that we believe in faith, we believe in family, we believe in hard work and responsibility.

WOODRUFF: And who better to do that than a battle tested son of the south. No hard promises yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep fighting, senator, we're behind you.

EDWARDS: Absolutely. Don't worry. WOODRUFF: But stay tuned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Meanwhile over on Capitol Hill, Democrats have more pressing problems than who will run for president in four years. They're busy arming themselves for political war in the weeks and months ahead. Here's our congressional correspondent Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stung by the discipline speed and precision of the Republican press operation, Democrats are trying to form one of their own. Harry Reid the new Senate Democratic leader is taking control of the party message, establishing a permanent Democratic war room in his leadership offices designed to compete with the GOP machine in 2006 and beyond. Reid has recruited Edward Kennedy's veteran press aid Jim Manley to run a 15-person operation to impose some discipline on the message.

JIM MANLEY, DEM. COMMUNICATIONS STAFF: If the election taught us anything is that we have to approach this in a more coherent and aggressive fashion. Because if we don't all stand together, we're all going to be a lot worse off in two years.

JOHNS: But some observers say discipline doesn't come naturally for the Democrats.

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": There's a sense that there is a power vacuum. That there is not necessarily a voice of the Democratic party. That there's not one singular message or consistent message of the Democratic party, and Republicans have been very, very disciplined, started with the Bush campaign, the House and the Senate.

JOHNS: Among the new approaches, an aggressive Internet strategy and a rapid respond unit headed by former Kerry aide and ex-Chuck Schumer press secretary Phil Singer.

PHIL SINGER, REID COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The key is making sure that the public knows that what they're hearing is not true, as soon as possible, as quickly as possible and as simple and concise a manner as possible.

JOHNS: Reid's shortcoming is that he himself is not considered the most inspiring public speaker. But two of his top lieutenants are among the party's best communicators, Senator Schumer and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. With the party weakened in Congress and facing a tough election in 2006, the new team and the new war room have a lot to prove and little time to do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): Reid's first big test comes this weekend when he appears on "Meet The Press." Preparation for that begins tonight in the war room -- Judy. WOODRUFF: I guess it takes several days to get ready for that. Joe, what are the Republicans saying about this Democratic war room?

JOHNS: Well, they're saying the issue really is of content -- content of the message, not necessarily the delivery. They say the Democratic message was rejected in the last election and they say 15 staff members in a war room won't be able to fix that -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: We shall see. Joe Johns, thank you very much.

The clock is ticking on intelligence reform. Still ahead, for all the protests and politicking, is there any movement on the bill on Capitol Hill? I'll ask Senator Joe Lieberman.

In Canada, more anti-Bush protests even as the president keeps trying to bond with the folks across the border.

And later, is there anything to read into this political pairing?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Federal taxpayers will have to pay any legal judgments related to former South Dakota Congressman Bill Janklow's conviction on reckless driving and manslaughter charges. A federal judge has ruled that Janklow was on duty as a government employee more than a year ago when he ran a stop sign, killing a motorcyclist in South Dakota. The family of the man killed in the collision had sued Janklow, but they plan to refile the suit against the federal government.

In New Hampshire, a federal grand jury today indicted President Bush's former New England campaign chairman on charges related to jammed phone lines on election day 2002. State Democrats have accused James Tobin of being involved in efforts to jam phone lines that were used in their get out the vote efforts two years ago. Tobin left the Bush campaign in October, when he called these allegationS against him, quote, "without merit."

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: President Bush is back at the White House this hour, after his fence mending mission in Canada. Our senior White House correspondent John King looks at what Mr. Bush tried to accomplish during his final stop in Nova Scotia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a stop with two goals: to say thank you for Canada's help on the defining day of his first term and sound a conciliatory note looking ahead to the next four years.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new term in office is an important opportunity to reach out to our friends. KING: A more diplomatic tone, but not necessarily a new course. To Canada and other Iraq War critics, this message from the president: if they want him to give the United Nations and other organizations more say, then they must demand that multilateral diplomacy means results, not just meetings.

BUSH: The objective of the U.N. and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate.

PROTESTERS: Go home, Bush!

KING: More demonstrations underscored Mr. Bush's delicate challenge. He wants to put the bitterness of Iraq and other debates in the past, while firmly defending his decisions. Better personal relations are key, and Mr. Bush has taken a liking to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

BUSH: Paul and I share a great vision for the future. Two prosperous, independent nations, joined together by the return of NHL Hockey.

KING: Mr. Martin was quick to echo Mr. Bush's friendly tone.

PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: We're in a war against terrorism, and we are in it together, Americans and Canadians.

KING: Key European first term Bush critics also welcome the president's talk of a fresh start.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I can tell you that that's exactly the mood in Europe, so let's shake hands and let's work together to build a better future for our people.

KING: Iraq aside, many Canadians feel slighted by Mr. Bush. He ditched tradition and went to Mexico on his first international trip, repeatedly sparred with former prime minister Jean Chretien and waited nearly four years to make his first official visit.

In trying to make amends, Mr. Bush praised Canadian military help in Afghanistan, reconstruction aid in Iraq and the remarkable outpouring of kindness to some 33,000 Americans stranded here when U.S. airspace closed after the 9/11 attacks.

BUSH: Beyond the words of politicians and the natural disagreements that nations will have, our two peoples are one family, and always will be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING (on-camera): Now conciliatory talk is one thing, better relations quite another. The true test will come into the debates ahead over Iran, Iraq, North Korea, other global challenges. Or, Judy, as one senior official put it, quite soon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, thank you very much. On the trail with President Bush. A new poll underscores the reality that these days Americans and Canadians don't necessarily see eye-to-eye. When asked if Canadians are fundamentally different from Americans in values and outlook, 82 percent of Canadians said yes. Fewer Americans, 50 percent, said yes.

Will Congress pass an intelligence reform bill next week? When we come back, I'll speak with Senator Joe Lieberman, who supports the bill.

Plus, it has been a month since the presidential election, but they're still counting votes in Ohio. The story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A group of 9/11 family members who support the intelligence reform bill currently stalled on Capitol Hill are at Ground Zero in New York today. Several members of the House and Senate joined the families at the vigil.

Even though President Bush supports the legislation, some top Republicans are blocking it. For one thing, they want the measure to include tougher immigration rules. With me now from Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Senator, as of yesterday, we were told there was no give in the position of Chairman Sensenbrenner, Chairman Duncan Hunter, so what makes you optimistic, as I'm told you are, that this bill is going to pass this month?

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I'm optimistic because the president of the United States as recently as yesterday in Canada made very clear, he said twice, I am for the bill, and I appreciate that, and the bill is the result of weeks and weeks of negotiation, including with Duncan Hunter and Jim Sensenbrenner in which both of them had many of their concerns accommodated. The fact is there are a majority of members of the house and almost everybody in the Senate that want to support this bill. The president is for it. If Speaker Hastert allows the roll to be called next week when we come back in yet another lame duck session, we'll pass this bill, and we need to. Tom Kean said yesterday this bill is going to become law. The question is whether it happens now or after the next terrorist attack. We ought to do it now.

WOODRUFF: Clearly a number of 9/11 families are with you but there are 9/11 families who are against you on this. One mother, Joan Molinari said yesterday no bill should pass the Senate, the House anywhere, she said, unless it contains immigration reform. She said, "you allowed the murder of my son," I'm quoting her, she said, "I will not allow you to kill my daughters." What do you say to these families?

LIEBERMAN: Look, of course my heart goes out to these families. What I say to them is immigration reform is very important. The president says he will make it a priority next year. Mr. Sensenbrenner is the chairman of the House judiciary committee in a great position to make it an important issue, but I'd say this, all of the immigration reforms that Mr. Sensenbrenner are now urging on us, if they were law today, they would not have stopped one of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on September 11. They deal with immigration reform, not counterterrorism, and therefore, we shouldn't let them stop us from doing what the 9/11 commission said we need to do to protect our security, and that is pass this bill.

WOODRUFF: Senator, we've just learned that today in a speech, the former CIA director George Tenet said that he thinks it would be a mistake to create a new national intelligence director separate from the head of the CIA. Is he wrong?

LIEBERMAN: Respectfully, George Tenet is wrong. I mean, the fact is that George Tenet was supposed to be the director of central intelligence. He was supposed to be the leader of the CIA and the leader of the intelligence community. He wasn't, he couldn't be as he said himself at one point. He was the director of the CIA. The whole intelligence community needs a leader. They don't have one now. The 9/11 commission told us that no one is in charge of the American intelligence community, FBI, CIA, military, all the rest. We need them to have someone in charge forcing them to work together. The 9/11 commission told us, Judy, that if there was a national intelligence director, as our bill would create, before 9/11. If there was a national counterterrorism center before 9/11 as our bill would create 9/11 might well not have happened.

WOODRUFF: Senator, a quick political question. The head of the Democratic National Committee. A lot of people have thrown their hats in the ring. Do you have a favorite?

LIEBERMAN: No, I don't have a favorite. Only thing I would say is that the head of the DNC should be at this point in our history, a bridge builder who can bring the party together, and look for a whole new generation of ideas that can help us win some elections again. That's what this is about. In the meantime, I'm going to work to try to get some things done here, and I think that's what Democrats everywhere should do, try to show that we can govern in a way that helps the public live better, safer lives.

WOODRUFF: Would it help the party to have a leader from a red state? A leader from, you know, let's face it, a less liberal leaning background?

LIEBERMAN: Sure, it couldn't hurt if the leader was otherwise capable of putting up a big tent, and bringing all factions of the party together. But clearly, we're not going to win elections unless we reach out to some people who didn't vote Democratic in the presidential or senatorial elections in this year's election day, and somebody from a red state might be in a good position to help us do that.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there. It's very good to see you, Senator Joe Lieberman. We appreciate it.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. A New Jersey senator, Jon Corzine has scheduled a news conference tomorrow afternoon. And CNN has confirmed that Corzine will announce that he is running for governor next year. He would be the first Democrat to enter the race since Jim McGreevey resigned last month, and was replaced by acting governor and fellow Democrat Richard Cody.

A former president offers words of praise for a sitting governor, and words of advice for his audience. Up next, what the first President Bush advised his listeners about the potential for a President Schwarzenegger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: News from the state credited with sealing George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry leads the headlines in our campaign news daily. Ohio's 88 counties have until the top of the hour at 5:00 Eastern to meet the deadline and certify their presidential vote totals, including provisional ballot results. As of last night when all but ten counties had been certified, results showed about 78 percent of the provisional ballots cast had been accepted and counted.

Meanwhile, an attorney for an advocacy group planned to file what is called a contest of election today, requesting that an Ohio State supreme court justice accept or reject the election results.

In Florida, state elections officials are proposing major changes in the voting process. Election officers say they want election day replaced by an 11-day voting period. They also want to replace precincts with what some describe as supervoting sites which can handle large numbers of voters. Officials hope to rally support for the ideas and hopes of putting them in place by 2006.

And in Texas last night former president George Bush presented a public service award to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former president also seemed to suggest that foreign-born Americans should be allowed to run for president. In reference to a potential Schwarzenegger presidency, Bush offered a word of advice, quote, "don't bet against Arnold Schwarzenegger." We'll be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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