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The Iraq Mission; Intel Reform Campaign; Interview With Governor Bill Richardson

Aired December 2, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Twisting arms over intelligence reform.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: There is a full-court press on the president and the vice president. They're making calls to member.

ANNOUNCER: But is the White House putting enough pressure on House Republicans to pass the bill?

He's already a major player in the Democratic Party, but Bill Richardson is about to take an even larger role. Does the New Mexico governor have the White House in his sights?

A disputed election, and a country divided. How involved should the U.S. get in the Ukraine political crisis?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The position of our government is that the will of the people must be known and heard.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

We begin with the politics of Iraq. Even as the United States moves forward with plans to deploy 1,500 new troops and extend the stays of more than 10,000 others beyond the time it brings in their replacements, some Senate Republicans and Democrats now in Iraq say they are heartened by the troop increase, but still concerned about security for upcoming elections. And even if that vote goes ahead as scheduled on January 30, Democrat Joe Biden warns the U.S. mission is likely to last much longer.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: There's not been a single officer with whom I have met here and/or in Washington who has indicated there's any possibility of America not having significant troop levels here for three, five, seven years. We should tell the American people the truth. And if I sound like I'm angry, it's because I am, because it undermines -- failing to level undermines our mission here.


WOODRUFF: Here in Washington, President Bush spoke today about troop strength and elections in Iraq, and he named another cabinet nominee. CNN's Elaine Quijano is at the White House.

Hi, Elaine.


The White House continues to face questions about troop strength in Iraq and specifically how much longer U.S. forces will remain in that country. The answer continues to be a family one. Officials here saying simply as long as it takes.

Now, today, here at the White House, the president commented on not only Iraqi troop strength, but on a number of other issues. That was during an appearance with the president of Nigeria. President Bush reiterating his belief that the elections in Iraq should not be postponed despite security concerns, and he explained his decision to have more U.S. forces in place in Iraq in the immediate future.


BUSH: I have always said that I will listen to the requests of our commanders on the ground. And our commanders requested some troops delay their departure home, and the expedition of other troops to help these elections go forward. And I've honored their request.


QUIJANO: Now, clearly the administration has a lot at stake regarding Iraq's future politically. Obviously, this would be a big step, a successful election in Iraq, not only for the region, but here at home the president might be ability bolster his credibility, perhaps answer some of the criticisms that the administration did not have an adequate plan in place for post-war Iraq.

In the meantime, President Bush also answered another question about the future of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The president answering that today. Questions continue to swirl.

As you know, investigations are under way regarding the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program, and whether billions of dollars went to Saddam Hussein's government and whether Annan's son had anything to do with it. Judy, the president, when asked whether Annan should resign, he sidestepped that question. Instead, saying that the investigation should continue, being careful not to take a position one way or the other -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Now, Elaine, we know the president also named a new member of the cabinet. Tell us about that.

QUIJANO: That's right. The president announced today his choice to be the nominee to succeed outgoing Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

And that choice, Nebraska governor, Mike Johanns. Fifty-four years old, Republican governor of Nebraska.

The president called him a man of action and of complete integrity, saying that he was someone who could help the administration advance its agenda. Notably, the president saying that Johanns has already traveled the world to promote American farm exports. That, of course, right in line with part of the administration's goal of opening up new markets to American exports, things like American grain, beef, cotton and corn -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: You read that he is someone who grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa. All right. Elaine, thank you very much.

Well, President Bush separately is said to be engaged in a full- court press to get the stalled intelligence reform bill passed this year. Our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, has the latest on the lobbying.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senior White House adviser Karl Rove called a top Republican senator Thursday to underscore President Bush wants to end the stalemate on intelligence reform. Senator Susan Collins says, despite some claims, the president hasn't pushed hard enough. Rove told her Mr. Bush wants Congress to finish the legislation next week.

COLLINS: It's clear that the White House is working very hard to get this bill through. There is a full-court press on.

HENRY: That includes a new round of phone calls from the president and vice president to Capitol Hill. Those follow previous calls to Republicans Duncan Hunter and James Sensenbrenner, who have refused to endorse the deal now on the table. 9/11 families who support Collins are holding vigils in major cities, like this one in New York, to urge Congress to act during the end of its lame duck session.

One idea floated to break the log jam, have the president commit to considering Sensenbrenner's immigration proposals next year. But Sensenbrenner aides say he's compromised enough, and 9/11 families who support him fear if immigration reform is dropped now, the president will not follow through.

PETER GADIEL, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR SECURE AMERICA: We're very worried. We know that the president is supposedly supporting this -- this defective bill. But again, that comports with his usual position of not securing the borders.

HENRY: Hunter isn't backing down on his contention a new director of national intelligence could slow key information from reaching military troops in the field. But White House officials continue to lobby Hunter and are hopeful of finding common ground. Collins believes with the president fully on board, the legislation will get done, with or without the holdouts.

COLLINS: I hope it will pass with the support of Congressman Sensenbrenner and Congressman Hunter, but I think it will pass regardless.


HENRY: Some Republicans on Capitol Hill believe the president has staked enough of his credibility on this issue that he now needs a deal. These Republicans privately say the White House fears that if Sensenbrenner and Hunter win, this would embolden other Republicans up here to buck the president on high-profile issues next year, like Social Security reform -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying there's more at stake here than just the intelligence reform bill.

HENRY: That's right, but the bottom line is that the key person the president has to pressure is Speaker Dennis Hastert to get him to get a floor vote. So far, Hastert has not committed to that. So it's all moot at this point, because there's no commitment on a floor vote just yet -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Fascinating, the president having to pressure his own Republican speaker of the House.

HENRY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed, thank you very much.

Well, you heard talking with Senator Susan Collins of Maine. I also spoke with her today about intelligence reform and about the political crisis in Ukraine. I started by asking her where the intelligence bill stands right now.


COLLINS: Well, the White House has really put a full-court press on to try to convince some of the house opponents that they should reconsider their position. I'm really pleased that the president and his staff have become so engaged they are pushing hard for this important legislation. And my hope is that they'll be successful in pressing for a vote next week.

WOODRUFF: But I think for many people, and I am included, the president was just reelected convincingly to a second turn. If he can't persuade members of his own party, your Republican Party, committee chairs in the House, what does that say about the president and his commitment?

COLLINS: Well, I think he will be successful in persuading them. I was surprised that a couple of the chairmen in the House decided to oppose a bill that the administration has strongly endorsed, a bill that's backed by the 9/11 Commission as well. But I think the president's going to be successful.

He can be very persuasive. In addition, there's been now a sufficient time to elapse for members to actually review all of the details of the bill, and I think they'll see that some of their concerns are not warranted and that the bill is well-balanced and a good one.

WOODRUFF: Well, when I spoke a couple of days ago with Lee Hamilton, who, as you know, is the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, he said this is a major test, the first major test of the president's political clout since the election. In effect, this is a test of the president's authority. Would you agree with that?

COLLINS: Well, I think certainly the president has made clear and will make even clearer in a letter later today that he is committed to this legislation. But I think he will be successful. I think it is a test of his authority, but I have no doubt that he will prevail.

WOODRUFF: No doubt?

COLLINS: No doubt.

WOODRUFF: All right. And we will, of course, be following this.

Another issue to ask you about, Senator Collins, Ukraine. You were there just a few months ago. Election in dispute.

Today, President Putin of Russia said that he doesn't think it's enough for there to be just a rerun of the second stage of these elections. He said there needs to be, if there's going to be anything, a complete rerun of these elections. Would that be acceptable in your view?

COLLINS: I really think that we should super a reelection between the two major candidates. This time under strict rules to prevent the kind of fraud and voter intimidation that tainted the results of the election.

When Senator John McCain and I traveled to the Ukraine last August and met with all of the figures involved, we emphasized that the world would be watching closely to see if Ukraine could meet this test and allow its citizens to freely choose its next leader -- their next leader. And it's very disappointing to see these elections so marred by fraud and abuse.

WOODRUFF: Well, do you think -- I mean, if President Putin is agreeing with the Ukraine president, Kuchma, that the election should be done all over from scratch, this could take months, it would allow Mr. Kuchma, if anything, to solidify his position. Does that meet your criteria?

COLLINS: It's not my preference by any means. I think that the elections do need to be held quickly. There's no reason why they can't be. But we need to make sure that they're going to be free and fair this time.

International observers are virtually unanimous that the elections did not meet that criteria. And I think if we go back to scratch and start the whole process over again, that it will be delaying the Ukrainian people their right to choose their leader.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. She also said she finds it very troubling that the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, is injecting himself into Ukrainian election affairs at this significant moment.

Well, the junior senator from New Jersey officially set his sights on another office. Still ahead, Jon Corzine's newly-launched campaign for governor. What's behind his decision?

Plus, is the federal government helping to spread misinformation as part of an effort to promote abstinence?

And next, the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. I'll ask Bill Richardson for his take on his party's problems.


WOODRUFF: The nation's Democratic governors are gathered this hour here in Washington to pick a new leader, and to devise new strategies for spreading the Democratic Party message. Just a short time ago, I spoke with the group's new chairman, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and I began by asking him what shape he thinks the Democratic Party is in.


GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, what we want to do with the Democratic governors is we want the Democratic governors that are elected in red and blue states to become the center of gravity of the Democratic Party. We think the party's made too many decisions based in Washington, D.C., and not enough in the heartland.

We need to rebuild our party's structures. We need to talk about issues like value and health care. But the big successes the Democrats have had have been in the states, in governorships.

We didn't lose any seats in the last election. In fact, there's a possibility for the next two years that we'll add governorships. So we're trying to recapture the Democrat Party, move it to the heartland.

WOODRUFF: But clearly the Democratic Party -- the Democratic candidate and the party were doing something wrong in this election because they lost. What needs to be fixed?

RICHARDSON: Well, several things. Number one, we need to highlight the successes of the Democratic Party. And they are happening at the state level, policies that deal with education, health care, energy.

Government in Washington, Congress has abdicated to the states. What you get the federal government doing is we're going to give you less on Medicaid, you're on your own. On education, you're on your own. They can't pass an energy bill. So what we want to do as Democratic governors is highlight the successes that we've had in red and blue states. We get Democrats elected in the South, in the West, in the Northeast, in the heartland, everywhere, but somehow our message is not getting through.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that, among other things, that a senator, especially Senator John Kerry shouldn't think about running for president again? Because he's from inside the Beltway.

RICHARDSON: We believe that outside the Beltway is where the heart of the party is, and we have to recapture our base. The presidential candidate issue is far away. That's four years from now.

What we need to do is rebuild the party at the local level. We need to get more county commissioners, mayors, legislators, governors elected.

We have 38 governorships coming up in the next two years. It's governors that set policy. What you're having in Washington is policies of Republican extremism. The real sensible, moderate, pragmatic policies are happening in the states with governors, and we want to raise the center of gravity, the governors within the Democratic Party, and not just have congressional Democrats -- that do a good job -- make all the policy decisions.

WOODRUFF: Well, one of the leaders of the party is clearly going to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Who's your favorite in that race?

RICHARDSON: We're going to take a position today that says, number one, there has to be two chairs, a party operator, because we have to rebuild our state parties at the local level, and a party spokesman. We're not endorsing anyone yet.

We intend to soon. We're going to look at candidates. We're going to talk to many.

We think it should be a candidate that is pragmatic, that comes hopefully from a red state that can speak to the heartland, that perhaps has been a governor. Right now we're holding our powder dry.

WOODRUFF: But is there a sitting governor who's a logical candidate for that first position?

RICHARDSON: Well, there are, but unfortunately they're not interested in the job. Governor Vilsack, people like...

WOODRUFF: Taken himself out.

RICHARDSON: Yes, taken himself out. The governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, would be logical, but he's not interested. But that doesn't mean that new candidates won't surface. There are a number of candidates like Governor Dean that out there.

WOODRUFF: He's here meeting with the governors today. Why not automatically support him? RICHARDSON: Well, because we want to see who is going to be there in the next few days. We want to hear from state chairs. We want to hear from our local party workers.

We don't want it to be a coronation made by governors. We're going to have a say, but this race isn't until early February. And we think it should be somebody that connects with the heartland, that recognizes that we can't just concentration in the Democratic party on presidential elections, that we have to get involved in local elections, rebuild the party, develop some new leaders, elect county commissioners, mayors, legislators, governors, not just the Congress and the presidency.

WOODRUFF: I know -- speaking of the presidency, I know you said it's a long way off. But a lot of people think Bill Richardson may be giving -- having an eye in that direction.

RICHARDSON: Well, right now I have my eye on three things. One, my New Mexico legislature, which is meeting in January. Number two, I want to do a good job as chair of the Democratic Governors. And third, my own reelection, which is in two years. Beyond that, we'll see.

WOODRUFF: Not ruling it out.


WOODRUFF: Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico just elected chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

And a quick update on the race to replace Terry McAuliffe as head of the Democratic National Committee. CNN has confirmed, and you just heard it in that interview, former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen has taken herself out of the running for the post. Shaheen served three terms as governor of New Hampshire, and she was the general chair for John Kerry's presidential campaign.

The race for the White House is now history, but John Kerry is still spending his campaign money. Coming up, we'll tell you why Kerry sent $250,000 to the Washington State Democratic Party.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," Democratic senator Jon Corzine has officially entered the race for governor of New Jersey. Corzine made his announcement a few hours ago in Newark. We'll have much more on Corzine's decision to run for governor at the top of the hour.

All 88 Ohio counties have certified their Election Day vote totals, including provisional ballots. And President Bush, as expected, held on to his victory.

Election Day results showed the president won Ohio by more than 136,000 votes. And The Associated Press reports that 121,000 provisional ballots were included in yesterday's final totals. The state is not providing a breakdown of how many provisional ballots went for Bush and how many went for Kerry.

Senator Kerry has sent $250,000 in leftover campaign money to the Washington State Democratic Party. Kerry sent the money to help the party pay for a statewide hand recount in the race for governor. Republican Dino Rossi is the apparent winner -- at least he's been certified the winner -- over Democrat Christine Gregroire. A machine recount showed that Rossi won by just 42 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.

On a related note, President Bush is also spending leftover campaign money. An FEC filing shows that Bush gave $11 million in unused money from his primary campaign to the Republican National Committee. The president had $4 million left over in his general election fund and $15 million in a legal fund to help pay for a potential recount.

More U.S. troops are heading to Iraq. With planned elections there less than two months away and no letup in the insurgency, what are the political consequences back here? We'll take a look when we come back.

Plus, should he stay or should he go? We'll get the take from the left and the right on whether U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Just before 4:00 in the East. It's time now for "The Dobbs Report." Lou Dobbs joins me from New York.

Hi, Lou.


Another big decline in oil prices today. However, it failed to spark a rally on Wall Street. Crude oil down another $2 a barrel on top of yesterday's more than $3 drop. Prices falling on a report showing a big jump in inventories, and that is easing concerns about a winter supply problem. Crude oil is now trading just above $43 a barrel.

Those falling oil prices today have hurt energy stock prices, however. ExxonMobil off more than a dollar dragging down the Dow Jones industrials today as the final trades are tallied on Wall Street. The Dow is down just about 4 points. The Nasdaq is up 4, however. The dollar hovering near a record low versus the euro and a five-year low against the yen. So problems for the dollar are continuing.

Most retailers reported weak November sales. Wall Street analysts blamed high energy prices and concerns about the job market. Wal-Mart sales were at the low end of its earlier targets because of disappointing sales over the Thanksgiving weekend. Several teen clothing chains and luxury retailers, however, reported strong sales.

And in-line with problems in the economy, more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. Jobless claims up sharply. The full employment report for the month of November will be reported tomorrow morning. Most economists are expecting 200,000 new jobs to have been created last month. And the unemployment rate edging lower to 5.4 percent.

Coming up here on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," our special report "Overmedicated Nation." Tonight we take a look at our dependency on foreign suppliers of medicines and vaccines. The United States is as dependent on foreign countries for drugs as we are for oil. Tonight we report on how this dependency could be hazardous to our health health.


ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS & INDUSTRY COUNCIL: U.S.-based pharmaceutical producers have been steadily losing market share to pharmaceutical imports since 1992. And, in fact, the market share held by imports in the U.S. market has risen from just over 4 percent in 1992 to just under 18 percent in 2002.


DOBBS: Also tonight, new concerns that the European deal to end Iran's development of nuclear weapons may be a sham. We'll have that special report for you. We'll be joined by Senator Joe Lieberman who believes strongly that Congress must and will pass intelligence reform legislation next week. Senator Lieberman will be our guest this evening. Also the Pentagon announcing plans to raise the number of troops in Iraq ahead of the January elections. CNN military analyst General David Grange will join me tonight with his perspective.

Now back to Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Lou, you were mentioning that the United States now relies on foreign countries for drugs as much as we do for oil. Why do you think we are seeing such a reliance on overseas drugmakers?

DOBBS: It is the nature of the free trade policies that we have been pursuing since really 1993. And the second part is that the U.S. multinationals, and particularly pharmaceutical companies, Judy, are finding it cheaper to produce overseas, and obviously that makes it more difficult to regulate production of drugs.

And as we have seen in both the case of Vioxx, where there has been a breakdown in regulation, and in the case of the flu vaccine where there has been an outright shortage, great problems are resulting. It is one of those areas that many critics believe the United States simply cannot afford to be dependent on foreign producers and suppliers for our medicines and our vaccines.

WOODRUFF: It is certainly worth a lot more exploration. We will be looking forward to that. Lou, thank you very much.

DOBBS: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you at 6:00. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: The new year is still a month off, but election 2005 is under way.

SEN. JON CORZINE (D-NJ), NEW JERSEY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for governor to build a better life for 8.5 million New Jerseyans.

ANNOUNCER: We knew the war in Iraq was a major issue in the presidential campaign, but will the conflict hurt Republicans down the road?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think people who even supported the president's position in Iraq have reservations about what will happen in Iraq.

ANNOUNCER: Are tax-payer funded programs that teach our kids about abstinence misleading them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These programs are completely out of control.

ANNOUNCER: We will examine the accusations.



WOODRUFF: Welcome back. You could argue that election 2005 went into high gear today, at least in New Jersey. As expected, Senator Jon Corzine entered the governor's race, the biggest name yet to jump in in a state still dealing with political upheaval.


CORZINE: I'm absolutely running for the office of the governor of the state of New Jersey.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): As some New Jersey Democrats see it, Jon Corzine's run for governor was almost inevitable, once Jim McGreevey made his "I'm a gay American" resignation announcement. Corzine may be a first-term senator but he's well-known and has deep pockets. The former investment banker spent 60 million of his own dollars in the campaign to win his Senate seat. Now he says he will tap into his wealth again to fund his run for governor, forgoing public financing and accepting limited donations from people who do not have business dealings with the state.

CORZINE: There has been far too much abuse of power in the state. And I think we can change that.

WOODRUFF: Corzine acknowledged feeling frustrated by the Democrats' November 2nd losses which happened on his watch as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But indicated he is more frustrated by what has been happening in his home state. CORZINE: Given the history of recent years, New Jersey needs credible, hands-on, executive leadership in Trenton. We need an outsider's perspective.

WOODRUFF: New Jersey Democrats still are trying to recover from McGreevey's controversial tenure and departure. Democrat Richard Codey has been acting governor for less than a month and has yet to announce his future plans. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Corzine running well ahead of Codey and well ahead of GOP rivals. Of the seven Republicans who have entered, the two most prominent are Brett Shundler, who lost to McGreevey in 2001, and failed U.S. Senate candidate Doug Forrester.

Corzine may be the front-runner, but he says he will not leave the Senate unless and until he is elected governor. And political observers suspect that Corzine might then set his sights on an even bigger prize.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: I think he's positioning himself for a presidential run down the road.


WOODRUFF: How about that? If Corzine wins the governor's race, some New Jersey Democrats predict that he would appoint Congressman Bob Menendez to serve out his Senate term. But Corzine refused to speculate about that today.

Now we turn back to Iraq, politics at a time when U.S. troop strength and casualties are on the rise. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider considers the fallout for President Bush in the days ahead and in the November (sic) election.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN S R. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): More U.S. troops in Iraq, at least through the January 30th election, at a time when the insurgency in Iraq is becoming more dangerous. The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq increased sharply in November, matching April for the highest monthly total this year. It looks like "escalation," a scary word from the Vietnam era. Could it have political consequences?

BUSH: We just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the Bush administration ought to be -- stay in place for four more years.

SCHNEIDER: Whether or not the presidential vote amounted to an endorsement of President Bush's Iraq policy is a matter of debate.

TONY FABRIZIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, you have 53 or 54 percent that approve of the decision to go into Iraq. And the president garnering well over 90 percent of those people supporting that decision.

SCHNEIDER: Researchers at the University of California have found that casualties in Iraq took away from President Bush's support. EDWARD MIGUEL, UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY: Our research shows that in states where people are really paying a human cost for the war in Iraq, where there are war dead, war casualties, war injuries, he lost support.

SCHNEIDER: As a result of news reports like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Monroe is the quintessential small town, the kind of place where just last Thursday a local Marine coming homemade front-page news. Today, another Monroe Marine is also making front-page news, but this time his coming home is a different kind of story.

SCHNEIDER: The California researchers found were it not for nearly 9,000 U.S. dead and wounded in Iraq, President Bush would have won approximately 2 percentage points more of the popular vote, carrying several additional states. In states that suffered high casualties, the idea of the war collided with the reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Another flag presented to another mother for another fallen Wyoming hero.

SCHNEIDER: Iraq may have been politically costly for Bush, but not costly enough to defeat him.

MIGUEL: Our statistical model suggests he won the election despite Iraq, not because of it.

SCHNEIDER: A Republican researcher puts it this way...

FABRIZIO: I think that even people who supported the president's position in Iraq have reservations about what will happen in Iraq.


SCHNEIDER: Escalation was disastrous in Vietnam. It looms as a serious political danger for President Bush and for his party.

WOODRUFF: And quickly, Bill, how could that manifest itself, I mean, he's re-elected now?

SCHNEIDER: He is re-elected. It could manifest itself in the midterm election with a backlash against the Republican Party, and of course it could manifest itself in 2008. Being re-elected, even by a handsome majority, as Lyndon Johnson found out after 1964, doesn't prevent a serious backlash from setting in that he faced over Vietnam.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, we will have more on Iraq and possible political wounds when Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile face off ahead.

Up next, are federally funded abstinence programs teaching children well or misleading them? And later, decking the halls of the White House.


WOODRUFF: A Democratic house member says a congressional staff analysis has found inaccurate and misleading information in federally funded abstinence programs for young people. For more, let's turn to CNN'S Joe Johns on Capitol Hill. Hi -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. This is about whether abstinence-only education programs in 25 states are going too far. Now, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, Henry Waxman, has just put out a new report that says some of these programs apparently are putting out false and misleading information to kids. A key sex education group agrees.


WILLIAM SMITH, SEXUALITY INFO. AND EDUCATIONAL COUNCIL: Completely out of control. They're using millions of taxpayer dollars to provide medical misinformation, to use fear and shame-based messages in an effort to convince young people to change their behavior. And our young people deserve better than that. And I think that's what the congressman's report indicates.

JOHNS: Now, examples cited in the report of youngsters getting false, misleading or distorted information include the assertion that condoms fail to prevent HIV 31 percent of the time and that up to 10 percent of women who have abortions will be sterile. But the publisher of one of the teaching manuals caught up in all of this attacked in the report, in a program called "Choosing the Best," is standing his ground against Congressman Waxman.

BRUCE COOK, CHOOSING THE BEST PUBLISHING: I think Mr. Waxman's report contains inaccuracies, is misleading and has gross generalizations concerning abstinence education for three reasons. First of all, "Choosing the Best" is medically accurate. Secondly, "Choosing the Best" has proven to significantly the initiation of teen sex. And thirdly, "Choosing the Best" doesn't deal with issues like religion, abortion and homosexuality.


JOHNS: Abstinence-only programs in the U.S. get about $170 million from the federal government. This study that Waxman did looked at about 11 different programs in 25 states that get just about $30 million of that funding -- Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: So just to clarify, Joe, among other things, they contend that 10 percent of women who receive abortions become sterile. Is that right?

JOHNS: Well, it does not appear to be so. Obviously, there are some studies on both sides, but the predominant evidence that we've been able to see suggests that is not true, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns, with this report from the Hill. Thank you very much. And a quick reminder, abstinence-education programs will be the topic just a few minutes from now, when the Reverend Jerry Falwell co- hosts CNN's "CROSSFIRE" with James Carville.

Up next, is Iraq ready to hold secure and safe elections? That's just one of the topics for Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: With me now, former Gore Campaign Manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, President of American Cause. Let's talk first about the announcement from the administration that they are increasing the number of troops in Iraq. It's at 138,000 now, it's going to go up next month to 150,000.

Donna, has the administration leveled with the American people about this?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I don't think so. The president indicated today that he signed this order before the election. Look, if truth be told, General Shinseki should receive some flowers for telling the truth at the beginning of the invasion when he said we needed more troops to secure the facilities there and to bring about peace and reconstruction. Now we have to extend their service for another time. This is the third extension. I do believe ultimately also we need the troops in order to secure the areas in time for the election.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I think the president has been straightforward. What he said is that we will have the number of troops needed over there. As soon as his officers say we need more we will have them. What's happened here is the insurgency has been effective at undermining our ability to build up that army and the Iraqi army and policemen so we will need to augment that effort to make certain these elections are safe and we're wise to do so.

BRAZILE: Bay, the truth of the matter is that the president did not listen to those who had their sort of ears to the ground in the beginning. He listened to his civilian leadership at the Defense Department. Now he has listened to those in Iraq who say we need more troops because after all the Iraqis who are supposed to be taking over what American soldiers were doing, they're not ready yet.

BUCHANAN: They were. We were building, we were doing well, and the insurgents realized what was going on, and it's just been in the last couple of months they have been assassinating these trainees, they are blowing up police stations, they are going after families, so obviously the Iraqi people are saying no way. We will not be involved in that. We have to get that security back that they feel comfortable becoming army troops...

BRAZILE: Sad for the troops but they should have listened to General Shinseki in the beginning. We wouldn't be going through this. WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the United Nations. Republican senator from Minnesota, Norm Coleman is saying the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, should step down because of these allegations of corruption in the Iraq Oil For Food program. Is Senator Coleman right? President Bush was asked about it today. He did not answer one way or another.

BUCHANAN: The senator is absolutely correct. He's in charge of this investigation. He sees the problem. There is no way they can get to the bottom of what happened in this massive scandal in the U.N. unless this fellow steps down. Kofi Annan must step down as in any major corporation the top fellow would have to step down under the circumstances.

BRAZILE: Too bad they don't apply the same standards to the Bush administration as a whole when things go wrong but when scandals are uncovered, most of the time we have what we call the CYA policy. Look, I don't think he should step down. He is helping to lead this investigation -- Kofi Annan, I'm referring to, Paul Volcker is doing a terrific job. He promised to deliver the materials...

WOODRUFF: He is the one in charge of this investigation.

BRAZILE: The former Federal Reserve chair. Why don't Congress with their numerous congressional leaders investigating this matter, why don't we wait until we get the material, know for sure what happened and then if heads must turn then we should do that.

BUCHANAN: The U.N. cannot investigate themselves. Do you know Paul Volcker cannot even demand that the records be produced. He has no recourse. If they lie or mislead him, there's no punishment whatsoever that he can pursue. There's no way we can be certain that we can get to the bottom of it. What we have is here Kofi Annan is like a wayward Boy Scott. He makes Ken Lay look like a wayward Boy Scout.

BRAZILE: He is one of the most respected leaders in the world. He has two and a half years left in his tenure. He has done a terrific job and he should stay on the job...

BUCHANAN: Look at what he has done with those money...


BRAZILE: We don't know. We don't know what happened with that money.

WOODRUFF: I want to quickly ask you about intelligence reform. The president says he is for it, he's talking to members of Congress. But still you have two Republican chairmen of committees in the House, Sensenbrenner and Hunter, Bay, who are apparently are disagreeing with the president. What does it say about the president's plan? The president made a phone call to these people, and they got an agreement. They negotiated a deal. And the Senate is the one, Senator Collins and Lieberman who said no go to this deal. The president needs to phone the Senate, not the Congress... WOODRUFF: But the Congress is in agreement with the Senate.

BUCHANAN: The president called Sensenbrenner and said, listen, what can we do here? What do you need? And he made arrangement, he made a deal where he will give him part of it. He said with the license plate, let's do what some states do and OK, they can have a driver's license, the illegals can, but it's marked not for identification. Cannot be used for identification. And Collins and Lieberman said no go. And so Congress is doing what the American people want them do. The American people do not want illegal aliens to have driver's licenses. That is the bottom line.

BRAZILE: Bay, for three years the American people have been patiently waiting for an intelligence reform bill. We have the votes in the Congress. We have Democratic votes as well as Republican votes, the president should march up to Capitol Hill, don't send a letter, call a press conference and call names and schedule a vote next week.

WOODRUFF: Is the president's authority on the line here?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. His political capital, he said he would spend it on behalf of the American people. This is a great opportunity for the president to show that he's willing to lead the country and not just try to play (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Republicans.

BUCHANAN: The American people sure. The press is going to make a big stink, and try to say the Democrats say the president's been harmed here. The key here is that the Republicans in Congress have said, wait a minute, we know what the American people want and we will fight for the American people. What their agenda is and we want the president to go along with it. They are trying to work with the president but they will not rubber stamp anything. You say they want a 9/11 bill, they do, but not one hollowed out by the Senate.

BRAZILE: This bill is a strong bill and it has bipartisan support. We need a vote. The president should urge that, quick action.

WOODRUFF: TBD, as they say, to be determined.

Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, thank you very much.

Christmas comes to the White House on a high note. We will get a peek at the decorations when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: After so many months of thinking about red and blue it's probably a pleasure for the White House to focus on red and green. First lady Laura Bush today showed off the White House holiday decorations including an 18 1/2 foot tall Christmas tree decked with musical instruments. There is another tree outside the White House. You can watch the National Christmas Tree light up live on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. This final note for people who watch the news closely, there will be something different tonight. No more Tom Brokaw. He may work for a competitor, but as one big news family we can say that he leaves a remarkable legacy as a journalist. And from someone who was privileged to work with him for years, I can add he's an even better person. Good luck, Tom.

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


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