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Iraq Crossroads; What's Ahead for Rice?; Interview With Senator Trent Lott; President Bush Honors Colin Powell

Aired January 17, 2005 - 15:29   ET


ANNOUNCER: Second thoughts about Iraq. Who's having them now? We'll check new poll results and hear what Republican insiders are saying.

The Condi Rice confirmation hearings. Will she run with the ball tomorrow, or will Democrats try to rough her up?

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Well, they will try to play this bump and run, try to knock her off stride.

ANNOUNCER: New takes on Dr. King's dream. On this MLK Day, are African-Americans at odds with gay rights advocates?



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

We begin with Iraq at a time when that country and the Bush administration are at a crossroads. Three days before the start of the president's second term, and two weeks before Iraqi elections, some shifts can be detected in the views of Americans, including some top Republicans. Here now our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Signs of an Iraq backlash are popping up. Earlier this month, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who served the first President Bush, told an audience the upcoming elections in Iraq could end up deepening the conflict. "We may be seeing an incipient civil war," Scowcroft warned.

Outgoing Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told National Public Radio that he and Secretary Colin Powell have deliberately expressed reservations about the president's policies on the record. "This is what the president paid us for, to bring him our views," Armitage said last week. "He can agree with us or not as he chooses."

President Bush is even expressing some second thoughts. Remember back in 2003 when the president said this about the Iraqi insurgents...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring 'em on.

SCHNEIDER: Now he says that remark was a little blunt and had unintended consequences. Remember Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? It was recently revealed that U.S. agents have given up looking for them.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The issue of weapons of mass destruction is one that we really have to look into. Why did the intelligence community get it wrong?

SCHNEIDER: Last week the National Intelligence Council said the war in Iraq may provide recruitment and training for a new class of terrorists.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The Iraq mission, even if it does have benefits for getting rid of Saddam, may actually in some strange sense be helping al Qaeda.

SCHNEIDER: The number of Americans who say the United States made a mistake sending troops to Iraq has been growing. Forty-four percent called the Iraq war a mistake just before the election. Forty-seven percent right after the election, 50 percent in early January.

And now, 52 percent in the latest CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll. It's an issue that continues to divide the country.

Very few Republicans call Iraq a mistake. Almost all Democrats do. What's changed is that Independents now side with Democrats on this issue.


SCHNEIDER: Do Americans believe President Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion? The answer is clear. By nearly two to one in the latest Annenberg Survey they said no.

WOODRUFF: And these numbers continue to build against the president's argument?

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Against the president's argument. Of course a lot will be decided by the outcome of the election in Iraq.

What's interesting about that election, of course, is that you've got two different politically correct positions. Supporters of the war say it will be a triumph of democracy. Opponents of the war say it will be a disaster.

WOODRUFF: Well, we shall certainly see. Bill Schneider, thank you very much. Well, questions about Iraq are expected to dominate Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearing tomorrow. And it is likely to be one of her main challenges when, as everyone expects, she becomes secretary of state. We have a preview now from our congressional correspondent Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Condoleezza Rice is such a big football fan, she's toyed with the idea of some day becoming commissioner of the NFL. For now, she just wants to be secretary of state. And Rice's love of the gridiron may be good practice for her confirmation hearings.

ALLEN: Well, they will try to play this bump and run and try to knock her off stride. Ultimately, they're going to be voting for her to be secretary of state.

HENRY: Democrats plan tough questions about Rice's time as national security adviser, from her handling of terror warnings before 9/11, to her role in faulty intelligence reports leading up to the war in Iraq. Democrats also say Rice may be too close to the president, unlike outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has been seen as a moderating influence in the cabinet.

SUSAN RICE, FMR. KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: When you look at a secretary of defense who has been as forceful and effective as Donald Rumsfeld, for good or for ill, he's a tough customer. And she'll have to show whether she has the stuff to stand up and fight.

HENRY: Republican committee Chairman Richard Lugar wants Rice to lay out her vision for the president's second term on hotspots like Iran, North Korea, HIV-AIDS in Africa and Mideast peace. Allies say Rice will preview the theme of President Bush's inaugural address, spreading democracy around the world. And they say the personal story of Rice, who grew up in the segregated South, will help her carry that banner on the world stage.

ALLEN: As we try to advance freedom for all people in the world, regardless of their race or their gender or their ethnicity or religious beliefs, I think her own life experiences makes her an even stronger person to advocate the concepts of freedom.


HENRY: As national security adviser, Dr. Rice did not have to testify under oath to Congress. The Democrats are very eager to get this chance to grill her.

And one of the grillers will be Democratic Senator John Kerry. So that could make for some very interesting TV since he sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But leaders in both parties say that they expect this to play out just as the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez has played out. Some tough questions, but in the end Dr. Rice is going to be confirmed -- Judy. WOODRUFF: So, Ed, this hearing gets under way tomorrow. How long do you expect it to last, and what about the president's other nominees? When are those confirmation hearings coming?

HENRY: We're hearing there could be a second day of hearings for Dr. Rice on Wednesday. But only because -- not because of any trouble, but only because there are a lot of senators who are out of town right now for the Dr. King holiday, some out of the country. They may not be able to get back on Tuesday.

So there would be could be a second hearing on Wednesday so those senators could have their questions asked. And then on Thursday, Republican leaders in the Senate are hoping to bring up Dr. Rice's confirmation before the full Senate at about 10:00 a.m., two hours before the swearing in ceremony and possibly other nominations, like Margaret Spellings to be Education secretary -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ed Henry reporting from the Capitol. Thank you. And we'll be talking to you throughout the day tomorrow when that confirmation hearing gets under way.

Well, we are counting down now to President Bush's second inaugural. Up next, what might Mr. Bush's speech have in common with presidents of the past? We'll consider themes then and now.

Also ahead, gay rights and civil rights. How is same-sex marriage playing with African-Americans voters?

And later, remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Amid the many celebrations today, President Bush will speak at an MLK Day event. We'll carry it live at the top of the next hour.


WOODRUFF: Turning our focus to this week's second inauguration of President Bush, I'm joined here in Washington by Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. He's the chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Senator, good to see you again.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Good to see you again, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Do you have big expectations for George Bush's second term?

LOTT: I do. And the theme for the inauguration is vision for America. I think he is looking at what we need to do for our children and our grandchildren.

He is thinking some big thoughts. And we have a lot of things that we can do that we didn't quite get across the finish line last year. Things that are big, like an energy bill and transportation bills, some things that were close but because being an election year we didn't quite get done. But I'm excited about this 55th inauguration of our president. Even though he is the 43rd president, it's the 55th inauguration. And I think the event's going to be one of the best ever.

WOODRUFF: Well, I know you're going to be front and center in all the ceremonies. But let me kick off a few of the issues that are on the table.

LOTT: Right.

WOODRUFF: Social Security.

LOTT: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Do you agree with the president, the White House, that this is in crisis? And do you agree that for it to be fixed benefits are somehow going to need to be cut at some point down the line?

LOTT: I think there's a lot of inaccurate rhetoric being used. There's not a crisis in that people are not going to get their checks in a year or two. My 91-year-old mother is going to continue to get her benefits. She's going to get the COLA increase each year. It's going to be there for her.

But I'm thinking about it, and a lot of people are, about, well, yes, but will it be there in a way it should be for our children and our grandchildren? And the year 2018 or sooner is not forever. And every year we let go by that we don't address this problem, it's going to become more serious.

Now, I'm one that said in the '80s and the '90s on occasion, be careful. You know, we really don't need to do this yet. But I think we are to the point where the demographics have changed.

I think people are realizing we are going to have to address this issue. And I don't think we ought to start by putting things off the table. But it is inaccurate to say that if you have an accurate Consumer Price Index, CPI, which means that you get an increase based on inflation, not on wages, that that is a cut in benefits.

And so we shouldn't start off by scaring people to death. It's something...

WOODRUFF: But you're looking for something to be done this year on Social Security?

LOTT: I personally think we should look at all of. The personal savings accounts, but also making sure that we do some structural changes that will keep it sound well into, you know, the next two or three decades.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something else the president had discussed, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The president is now saying that he is not going to push for this because of the views of a number of senators. Do you think the president is right not to do that? LOTT: Well, we may not need it depending on what our courts rule. You know, there is a law on the books that some people say -- or -- that it's enough and the states can act on this. But there is a concern that various supreme courts, like the one in Massachusetts, may render decisions that will cause a problem.

There will be another constitutional amendment introduced. The question is, when will it come up and when will it be necessary for it to come up? And it may not be something that will be pushed immediately, but the time may come where we're going to have to do it.

WOODRUFF: And you're fine with that? You're fine with that for the time being?

LOTT: Yes, for now.

WOODRUFF: Iraq. The president is now saying -- has said over the weekend, was quoted as saying that the November election was, in effect, a ratification of his pursuit of the war in Iraq. CNN's latest poll is showing now that over a majority of Americans, 52 percent, now believe it was a mistake to send troops into Iraq. Is the president wrong, do you believe, to say that?

LOTT: I believe the people of America voted for President Bush because they see in him a strong leader and a man of courage, a man that will take a stand. They believe that he would do a better job than John Kerry would have done in the war on terror.

You know, the war in Iraq is not going as well as we'd like for it to, but I do think that they have a vision of where they want it to go. They want to have elections, they want the Iraqis to assume more of their responsibilities, to govern themselves, and to defend themselves. And I believe that with time both of those will work out.

WOODRUFF: So that vote in November was not necessarily a ratification of the Iraq policy?

LOTT: I don't think that that's the way people really looked at it at the time. But, you know, if you force people to say, did we do the right thing or not, I still think the majority of the people would say that we did.

But it wasn't an election in isolation. It wasn't just about that. It was more about the overall war on terror and the security of our people. And that was just a part of it, I think.

WOODRUFF: Senator Trent Lott, we're going to have to leave it there. It's always good to see you.

LOTT: OK. Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And we appreciate you coming by. We'll be watching you this week.

LOTT: OK. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

Well, this week's inauguration will include the traditional pomp and circumstance we've just been talking about. It also offers the president a chance to lay out his vision for the next four years. Our Bruce Morton looks at how past presidents have used the moment to explore the issues and ideas they consider most important.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... what he wants to say, but he might look back for a hint or two. One popular theme, America is a special place, a special experiment.

George Washington, in the first ever inaugural, 1789: "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the Republican model of government are justly considered as deeply as family, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

2004 was a tough, sometimes mean campaign, but John Kerry conceded and nobody really argued about the result. It was like James Buchanan's described similar win at his inaugural 1857. "The passions of our fellow citizens were excited to the highest degree, but when the people proclaimed their will the tempest at once subsided and all was calm."

This president likes tax cuts. Calvin Coolidge, 1925: "The time is arriving when we can have further tax reduction. When unless we wish to hamper the people in their right to earn a living we must have tax reform."

Or Richard Nixon in 1973: "Government must learn to take less from people so that people can do more for themselves."

To rally the country against the great depression or for a war, you can't beat Franklin Roosevelt, 1933.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts.

MORTON: Need to rally the country for a cold war, a war on terror? Listen to John Kennedy, 1961.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

MORTON: We know this president believes in spreading democracy everywhere. He could quote his father in 1989.

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know what works. Freedom works. We know what's right. Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth. MORTON: Well, this president probably has his speech all written, but you never know. A thought from the past just might help.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Turning to our "Political Bytes" on this Monday, the seven candidates who hope to succeed Terry McAuliffe as DNC chairman presented their case over the weekend to Midwest party leaders. Former Congressman Tim Roemer lashed out at fellow Democrats who have criticized his opposition to abortion rights and his generally moderate record in Congress. In Roemer's words, "I like a good fight, but don't put my arms behind me."

Howard Dean appeared to respond to Roemer when he said, "Let everyone in who wants to be in, but don't change our core principles." Dean sweetened his appeal for party support by handing out Ben and Jerry's ice cream from his native Vermont.

In Boston today, Senator John Kerry used a King day breakfast event to revisit election day voting problems around the country. In Kerry's words, "I nevertheless make it clear that thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote. Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans went through in 10 minutes."

Exit polls found that concern over moral issues sent a lot of people to the polls last November. Up next, can the values vote break the Democrat's lock on African-Americans? A lot of Republicans think so. A look at race, morality and party politics when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: On this Martin Luther King holiday, 2005, many Americans are looking back at the civil rights movement and asking where it goes from here. When it comes to moral values questions that were such a part of the election year debate, many African-Americans may see a nation in crisis.

Here is CNN's Jennifer Mikell.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hallelujah. Thank you, lord.

JENNIFER MIKELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, it may look like a civil rights march. But the thousands of African-Americans who recently converged a the King Center in Atlanta were there to demonstrate their devotion to moral values and their opposition to gay marriage. The ministers behind this march, including Martin Luther King's daughter, Bernice, suggest they are pro-values rather than anti-gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not marching against folk. We are marching for folk.

MIKELL: But same-sex marriage does appear to be a powerful political issue for many African-Americans. In our Election Day exit poll, nearly half of black voters said they are against both civil unions and same-sex marriage. About a third of the white voters we interviewed said they feel that way.

Blacks may anchor the Democratic Party base, but on certain social issues many African-Americans views are more reflective of the GOP platform. Polling shows more than half of African-Americans rate moral values in this country as poor, compared to a third of whites. Blacks are more likely to oppose abortion under all circumstances than whites, and they report attending church more regularly.

JOE WATKINS, CONSERVATIVE TALK SHOW HOST: African-Americans are so incredibly conservative when it comes to moral values. A lot of African-Americans responded to the fact that George Bush was the candidate who really idealized those kinds of issues.

MIKELL: President Bush made modest gains with African-American voters compared to four years ago. But John Kerry still overwhelmingly won the black vote.

(on camera): For all the discussion of moral values, many African-Americans still are focused on something the Democrats have wanted to talk about, the bottom line. While whites cited moral values as the issue that mattered most in the election, many African- Americans said that they were concerned by far with the economy and jobs.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: They often tend to vote on quality of life issues, not just the right to life.

MIKELL (voice-over): Still, many Democrats acknowledge they need to better connect with voters of all colors on matters of faith and family and convince them that traditional Democratic issues, such as education and health care, are moral values.

BRAZILE: The truth of the matter is, is that African-Americans can only provide gravy. You need -- you need more voters, the potatoes, as I call it, in order to win elections.

MIKELL: Gravy perhaps, but Republicans want more of it. And they believe the social conservatism within the black community may help them get it.

WATKINS: And I think in the coming -- in the coming cycle, political cycle, you're going to see Republicans really reaching out to the African-Americans to really tap that conservatism.

MIKELL: Jennifer Mikell, CNN, Atlanta.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Jennifer. Well, are some comments President Bush made about the gay marriage amendment causing problems with conservatives? When we return, we'll go live to the White House to find out.

Plus, remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. We'll have live coverage as the president honors the late civil rights leader.



ANNOUNCER: President Bush creates a commotion with comments over an anti-gay marriage amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This does not change President Bush's view about amendment, the need for an amendment, and he'll continue to push for an amendment.

ANNOUNCER: Will that satisfy conservatives?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I have a dream that one day ...

ANNOUNCER: On the 20th federal holiday honoring his life, those who knew Martin Luther King speculate on what he would say if he were still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he would be saying today in the war on Iraq and bring our young men and our young women home.

ANNOUNCER: This hour, we'll have live coverage as President Bush honors the slain civil rights leader.

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. At this hour, President Bush is preparing to speak at a Martin Luther King day event at the Kennedy Center here in Washington. We'll carry his remarks live. Meantime, as Mr. Bush looks ahead to his second term, some of his recent comments have been raising eyebrows. The White House has been scrambling to clarify the president's statement that he would not lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Let's check in now with our White House correspondent Dana Bash. Hi, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, you remember during the campaign the president's stump line was that marriage is the foundation of society that must be protected. Social conservatives took that to mean he'd take an active role in pushing for a ban -- a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

It's an issue, of course, that many believe did help drive conservatives to the polls. And in a "Washington Post" interview, President Bush was asked how hard he would lobby senators for that amendment. He said quote, "I do believe it's necessary; many in the Senate didn't because they believed they believe DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] is in place and they're waiting to see whether or not DOMA will withstand a constitutional challenge." And then when asked to clarify that, he went on to say, "The point is the senators have to make it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I take their admonition seriously."

Now some conservatives saw that and thought that perhaps that single line helped undermine the movement that they have been pushing for this constitutional amendment. Even some Bush allies I talked to said that they winced when they saw that in the "Washington Post," knowing the political ramifications of even appearing to not want to push for something that Mr. Bush campaigned on. That is so important to his base.

Now, GOP sources tell CNN that the White House top officials here immediately did reach out to top conservative leaders to clarify he was not backing down from his beliefs, that he was talking about the process. And Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president said that what they understand is that the Defense of Marriage Act, the law of the land since 1996, denies federal recognition of same-sex marriage and that senators see that as something that still stands and they don't want to push for something else until that is constitutionally challenged.


DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: What the president was speaking to was some of the legislative realities in the United States Senate. As you know, it requires 67 votes in the United States Senate for a constitutional amendment to move forward. That's a very high bar. This does not change President Bush's view about amendment, the need for an amendment, and he'll continue to push for an amendment.


BASH: So Bartlett was trying to make the point that the president was talking about process, but some conservatives in Congress, some sources I've talked to in Congress and certainly outside say that's not necessarily good enough.

Tony Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, put out a statement today that said in part, quote, "The president has a mandate to protect marriage, therefore he, not members of the Senate, must lead the effort to protect the institution of marriage."

So, what some have talked to you, Judy, are saying is that they heard Dan Bartlett's comments but they want to hear it from the president himself that he will use the bully pullpit to, in fact, push for this amendment banning same-sex marriage and certainly the president has some interviews that he has in his future still before talking about the inauguration, including one with CNN tomorrow. So, perhaps we'll have an opportunity to elaborate more -- Judy. WOODRUFF: So Dana, very quickly. Is the president going to push for this amendment or not?

BASH: Well, what they're saying, Judy, is that they're going to essentially take the Senate's lead and that the Senate is going to watch. I talked to even some leadership sources in the Senate saying that they've agreed with the White House.

They're going to watch to see what happens in the states, whether or not there is a real constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and to see how far that gets. And that will determine whether or not they are going to have to actually push for this constitutional amendment in the Senate. But as you heard from Dan Bartlett, it's a process in the Senate that certainly is very, very hard.

WOODRUFF: OK. Dana Bash at the White House. Thank you very much. And we want to tell you again that we are waiting for President Bush to make remarks at the Kennedy Center this afternoon, observing Martin Luther King's birthday -- holiday. And we're going to go to that as soon as it does get under way.

Meantime, flashing back to the 1960s, during some of the most important events of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson proved to be crucial, if somewhat unlikely, allies. Their relationship is at the center of the book "Judgment Days."

Joining us now, the author of the book, Nick Kotz. It's very good to see you. Thank you for your coming out.

NICK KOTZ, AUTHOR, "JUDGMENT DAYS": Pleasure. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: People know -- they think they know Martin Luther King played a crucial role, of course, in getting the civil rights legislation of the 1960s through, but what made Lyndon Johnson's role so crucial?

KOTZ: Martin Luther King was Mr. Outside. King put on the pressure for the government to act. Lyndon Johnson was a genius at moving legislation through the Congress. And together they made a very, very powerful team. What people don't know is that King and Johnson, not friends, not likely allies, worked together, accommodated to each other, and the result was what Martin Luther King called a shining moment, the elimination of official segregation in the South.

We also forget that this was a time when thousands of black churches were burned, when people were beaten, when men and women, white and black, were killed. And the fact that we got through this struggle and made progress is due very, very much to the leaders, Johnson and King.

WOODRUFF: That was just four decades ago. People know -- or they believe, again, they know Martin Luther King was driven by a passion here. What was driving Lyndon Johnson? Was it a personal set of beliefs? A personal commitment? Or was it political expedience? KOTZ: I don't think it was political expediency, although he needed to act. Lyndon Johnson, from the time he was a child, wanted to be president of the United States. Lyndon Johnson also grew up feeling like he was an underdog, even when he became a powerful man. He empathized, he identified with underdogs. The night that John F. Kennedy was killed and that he became president of the United States, Johnson in his bedroom told his aides what he wanted to do. What he wanted to do was not only pass the civil rights laws, he wanted to finish Franklin Roosevelt's social revolution. And in 18 months, he and King together accomplished more than maybe anyone in a similar period of time.

WOODRUFF: In fact, you write in a fascinating way about how the seeds were sewn while Johnson was still vice president, Bobby Kennedy setting him off at one point, making a speech. Nick Kotz, what is it -- give us an example of one of Lyndon Johnson's maneuvers, if you will, his interactions with the leadership of the Senate, which, if it hadn't been for his pushing, as you point out, wouldn't have gone along with civil rights legislation.

KOTZ: Lyndon Johnson was masterful at creating coalitions. And he and king have that in common. They were both coalition builders. To get this civil rights bill through, Johnson had to convince 67 senators, which is what it took then to break a filibuster. He did this by promising favors to some people, but he mostly did it by appealing to the higher nature of these senators, particularly some Republican conservatives from the Midwest, that this cause was bigger than partisan politics. And it was a magic moment for this country when we had a majority of Republicans and Democrats united.

WOODRUFF: Nick Kotz -- we are talking to Nick Kotz, the author of "Judgment Days," the book about Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King. We've just been showing our audience live pictures from the Kennedy Center, President Bush arriving there. He's going to be speaking shortly and we are going to go there as soon as his remarks get underway.

But Nick Kotz, what about the relationship between the two men? You talked about how they were not necessarily likely allies. What was it that -- what kind of relationship did they have?

KOTZ: They had a very formal relationship. 40 years ago almost today began the most significant battle of the civil rights movement. We all remember the Selma Bridge and the demonstrators being beaten up. For a period of six or eight weeks Johnson and King accommodated to each other. If they had hadn't have, we may have had the United States Army occupying Alabama. And what was already a bloody confrontation may have been much, much worse.

Johnson was sensitive that King had to play his role. He didn't always like it because presidents don't like demonstrations putting pressure on them. King was sensitive that Johnson had constituencies that he had to satisfy. Both men were not only master negotiators and conciliators but both men were sensitive to the needs of the people they had to deal with.

WOODRUFF: Nick Kotz who happened to have been a reporter during that time. You covered much of the struggles of that era.

KOTZ: Yes, I did.

WOODRUFF: A man who knows where of he writes. Nick Kotz's books is "Judgment Day, the Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Laws That Changed America," thank you very much.

KOTZ: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Quite a book.

All right. We will take our audience to the Kennedy Center. Actually, we will go to a short break first. When we come back, President Bush making remarks on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: We are moments away from hearing President Bush speaking today at the Kennedy Center on the day that we observe the birthday of Martin Luther King. We will go to the president just as soon as his remarks get under way. If Martin Luther King were alive today, where would he stand on the war in Iraq? That topic came up at the commemorative service marking the King holiday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. King was a preacher there from 1960 until his death in 1968. Democratic Congressman John Lewis speculated on what stance King would take.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I believe he would be saying today end the war in Iraq and bring our young men and our young women home. I think he would say that. I believe he would say end suffering and poverty in Africa and Asia, he would say don't give up. Don't give in. Stay in the struggle and build a beloved community.


WOODRUFF: Congressman John Lewis who marched alongside Martin Luther King in the civil rights protests of the 1960s. We've been telling you President Bush will be speaking at the John F. Kennedy Center here in Washington. Right now we want to take you to some remarks being made by Secretary of State Colin Powell. He and his wife Alma have been presented with an award, the Legacy of a Dream award presented by John Thompson, former coach of the Georgetown University basketball team and the president of Georgetown. We are told that the secretary will be introducing President Bush momentarily. Let's listen.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: the fact that so many others are deserving, so many others who came before us and never would have had an opportunity for the positions that we have been privileged to occupy or to receive such awards, because they came along too early. But in their sacrifice and in what they did, they made it possible for all of us to achieve.

And for the young people who are here today, I would say to you, never forget what was done for you, black and white, to make this country a better place, to make sure that we are always one day closer to the dream of Dr. King and to the dream of our founding fathers.

And so I thank you for this award on behalf of Alma and me.

God bless you all.


And it's now my very, very great pleasure and honor to introduce the president of the United States, George W. Bush.



Thank you for coming. Thank you for the invitation.

Laura and I are pleased to join you on this national holiday, as we honor two exceptional Americans who we're proud to call friends.

I want to thank Dr. De Joya (ph) and Georgetown University for sponsoring the "John Thompson Legacy of a Dream" award.

I want to thank the Georgetown Gospel Choir for sharing their gifts at this celebration.

I want to thank John Thompson for being here and for setting such a great example.

I appreciate the thoughtful words from one of the most recognized voices in America, Tom Joyner.


I can't wait to hear Aaron Neville.


I want to thank the members of Congress, the members of my administration and all of the distinguished guests who are here today.

I also want to thank Dr. Dorothy Height for joining us this afternoon.


Every year on this day, we reflect the history of civil rights in America. It's a story of our founders, among them slave owners, who declared a standard of equality and justice that would one day be used to put an end to slavery. It's the story of a terrible war that freed men and women...


WOODRUFF: Our apologies. We lost the signal from the Kennedy Center where President Bush -- we are working on getting the signal both video and audio worked out. The sound and the picture.


BUSH: ... segregation. It's the story of generations not having received the promises, but having seen them far off. And it's the story of Americans like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who held our nation to those promises and would not rest until they were written into law.

Dr. King was a minister of the gospel who could have had an easy life in a respected pulpit. Today he would be just 76 years old. Instead he chose to minister in the spirit of John Wesley who said "I look upon all the world as my parish."

The nation first took notice in the 1950s and in the 1960s when he wrote "I'm in Birmingham because injustice is here."

In the space of just a few years through the power of his intellect, the truth of his words and the example of his courage he left this country a different and better place and made his own journey to a different and better place.


Dr. King believed so fully in the ideals of America that he was offended every day that they were violated. He had studied the founding documents and found no exceptions to the promise of freedom. He was disappointed in the unfair practices of his country. Yet he said there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.

Dr. King loved America enough to confront its injustices, not compromising the truth and not fearing any man. And America loves him in return.


Martin Luther King also knew that man's right to be free is rooted in something far beyond the charters of a country. He believed and he knew that the image of God we share as a source of our dignity as human beings and the basis for our equality. He believed and he knew that the teachings of Jesus stand in eternal judgment of oppression. He believed and he knew that the God who made us for freedom will bring us to freedom.


By observing and honoring...

(AUDIO GAP) WOODRUFF: Once again, we apologize. The signal from the Kennedy Center here in Washington, we seem to be having some difficulty. It's a perfectly clear day, we will try and...


BUSH: We need them to know that the greatest causes sometime involve the greatest sacrifices and that history moves forward on the strength of those sacrifices.

And we need the children of America to know that a single life of conscience and purpose can touch and lift up many lives.

The influence of one good life is also the message of the "Legacy of a Dream" award. In this case, it's the influence of two good lives.

Alma and Colin Powell are among the most admired people in our country.


For these four years, they've also been America's representatives to the world. They are honorable people who bring honor to this nation. And America is grateful for their example of service.

As their friends know, Alma and Colin met on a blind date.


Alma has said she remembers the future general looking like a lost 12-year-old.



And that's the side of the man that I've never seen before.


For his part, Colin has said that night he was mesmerized by a pair of luminous eyes in an unusual shade of green. And from that day to this, he has been fortunate to have this beautiful, accomplished woman at his side.


Colin Powell has lived his own inspiring story, a story of exceptional accomplishment that started before segregation ended.

When he was a young officer, someone told him, "You are the best black lieutenant I've ever known."

He later wrote, "Inside me I was thinking if you intend to measure me only against black lieutenants, you're making a mistake." (LAUGHTER)


He went on to write, "I'm going to show you the best lieutenant in the Army, period."

The best lieutenant in the Army went on to a distinguished military career that ended with four stars on his shoulder.


Along the way, he earned two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Soldier's Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Congressional Gold Medal and two Presidential Medals Of Freedom.


I'm not through yet.


I'm just getting started. See, he's been an official in the administration of six presidents, including service as national security adviser to President Reagan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Bush and Clinton.

More than four years ago when I needed a secretary of state, I knew what I was looking for. I wanted someone who believed deeply in the values of our country and could share them with the world, a person of wisdom and decency, a leader who could bring out the best in people. I found all this and more in Colin Powell.


Our 65th secretary of state became one of the most effective and admired diplomats in America's history. He has helped to rally the world in a global war and to resolve dangerous regional conflicts and to confront the desperate challenges of natural disaster and hunger and poverty and disease.

He's been tireless and selfless and principled. In the work he and I have shared he has become a great friend. And I appreciate all he has done for our wonderful country.


His proudest achievements probably have little to do with public service. See, he's a wonderful dad to Michael, and Anna Marie (ph) and Linda.

Over the years he's been a mentor to young people. As the founder of America's Promise, Colin has drawn countless others to become involved in the lives of children and to give them the hope and confidence they need for a successful life.

Today we honor, not just Colin Powell's lifetime of leadership, but we honor his great kindness and his compassion.


The same kinds of idealism and character have marked the life of Alma Johnson Powell. Like her husband, she was raised by strong and decent people.

In Birmingham where Martin Luther King was jailed -- Birmingham, where he was jailed was also the home of the Johnson family. That's where she was raised, in other words.


Alma remembers her father, during the worst of days, sitting up at night with a shotgun by his side to protect his wife and his children. Mr. Johnson was a high school principal, and he was a legend to generations of students who remember his high standards and his imposing presence.

His daughter, Alma, has always been impressive as well because of her grace, and her principles.

For many years, Alma served America as a soldier's wife, moving the household 18 times and leading the family when the Army...


Anyone who wants to know the meaning of duty and unselfish love can look at our military families, like the Powells.


A good-hearted mother and grandmother shares her love with others as the chair of America's Promise. The people here at the Kennedy Center know her as a leading member of the board of trustees.

She's a noted author of several children's books and a volunteer who gives her time to help young people make good choices in life.

Alma Powell is one of the finest people Laura and I are privileged to know. And she is a superb choice for the Legacy of a Dream Award.


We have chosen on this important day for America to pay tribute to a woman and a man who have upheld the highest ideal of American citizenship. In their love of country and their heart for service, they show the same character found in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Thank you for the privilege of joining you this afternoon and for the pleasure of being able to honor these fine, fine Americans.

May God bless the Powells and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (END LIVE EVENT)

WOODRUFF: President Bush and first lady Laura Bush at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts here in Washington heaping encomiums on departing Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife Alma Powell. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS and for our special coverage of the president's remarks on this Martin Luther King holiday. Thank you for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" right now.

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