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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Filibuster Time?; Talking With Laura Bush; State of the Union Address Preview

Aired February 1, 2005 - 15:29   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Another confirmation controversy. Senators cross swords over Alberto Gonzales and his nomination as attorney general.

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Judge Gonzales is the wrong man for this job.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Judge Gonzales, 49, comes to this nomination for the chief -- chief law enforcement officer of the United States with an extraordinary record.

ANNOUNCER: Laura Bush one on one. The first lady talks to our Candy Crowley on the eve of her husband's State of the Union Address.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: The president will talk about confronting problems that he feels like is his responsibility and the responsibility of elected officials to confront.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The post-election scene in Iraq. As the votes are being tallied, how long can Iraqis count on U.S. troops to protect them?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

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

First, an important development in the race for chairman of the Democratic Party. Former Congressman Martin Frost has dropped out of the race, possibly clearing the way for former Governor Howard Dean. We'll have much more on that in just a moment.

Meantime, Senate Democrats are considering a new line in the sand against President Bush, using one of the limited weapons at the disposal of a minority party, the filibuster. Their potential target, attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales.

Let's get the very latest on the debate and the pending vote from our congressional correspondent Ed Henry. Hello, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy.

It was exactly four years ago today that John Ashcroft was confirmed by the Senate as attorney general after a nasty debate. It was only a narrow margin, 58-42, that he was confirmed. So perhaps it's fitting that as the Senate debate over his potential successor, Alberto Gonzales, kicked off today in the Senate, it got just as rough.

You're right, the Democrats were -- a lot of talk that they were contemplating using a filibuster. But I can tell you, all that talk has now been shot down in the last half-hour. But even the talk of Democrats contemplating the use of the filibuster really wrangled Republicans, especially Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The idea that the other side of the aisle is even considering filibustering, this manifestation of the American dream that's represented by -- by Judge Gonzales, is simply beyond me. By the time we finish the debate, I think that he will demonstrate bipartisan support and will be confirmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, heading into a closed-door lunch of Democratic senators this afternoon, there was a lot of speculation that senators Edward Kennedy and Dick Durbin were going to urge the Democratic caucus to stand up and, as you mentioned, Judy, filibuster the nomination of Judge Gonzales. But instead, I can tell you, Senator Kennedy's office is insisting that he never urged the caucus in that luncheon to push for a filibuster. And, in fact, Democratic leader Harry Reid came out of that luncheon, came to the cameras and insisted the Democrats did not even debate the possibility of a filibuster at that closed-door luncheon.

Reid saying that they are ruling out a filibuster. Instead, they now want 10 hours of debate over this nomination, and then they will let it come to a vote on Wednesday or Thursday.

Democrats also insisting that despite what Senator Frist said, they have no personal beef against Judge Gonzales. Instead, they are concerned about his role in shaping policies in dealing -- administration policies dealing with torture in the handling of detainees in the war on terror. Here's Democrat Pat Leahy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEAHY: My reasons for voting against Judge Gonzales arise to the need for accountability, and derived from the nominee's involvement in the formulation of a number of policies that have tarnished our country's moral leadership in the world and put American soldiers and American citizens at greater risk. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, when all is said and done, the Democratic leader, Harry Reid, today predicted that about 25 to 30 Democrats will end up voting against Judge Gonzales when that vote occurs later this week. That would mean that he would probably get more votes than John Ashcroft got for attorney general, but less than Condoleezza Rice got just last week, the 85 votes she got for secretary of state.

One final note. Republicans are saying that these attacks on Judge Gonzales, who is in line to become the first Hispanic attorney general, is going to boomerang against Democrats politically.

In fact, Republicans are telling us freshman Republican Senator Mel Martinez is planning tomorrow to give a speech defending Judge Gonzales on the Senate floor and give that speech in Spanish. So obviously Republicans hoping to use that card a little bit politically -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. But again, they're predicting 25 or 30 Democrats will vote against?

HENRY: That's right. So presumably about 70 votes for Judge Gonzales. And again, that's more than Ashcroft got. John Ashcroft only got 58 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry at the Capitol. Thank you very much.

Over at the White House, President Bush is preparing to deliver his State of the Union Address. We'll find out what the administration is revealing about the speech a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Meantime, a Democratic congressman says he has invited Christopher Reeve's widow to attend Mr. Bush's address. James Langevin of Rhode Island says he hopes that Dana Reeve's presence will help to refocus the nation's attention and the president's attention on funding for stem cell research.

Three years ago, Mr. Bush restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to existing stem cell lines. Congressman Langevin has a personal connection to that debate. He has been confined to a wheelchair since he was accidentally shot at the age of 16.

As always, Laura Bush will be in the audience for her husband's big speech tomorrow night. Today, Mr. Bush spoke to our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley about her role as first lady and much more.

And Candy joins us now.

Interesting conversation.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was interesting. It sort of spanned the gamut, but first thing's first for the first lady, who is taking part in a national campaign called Heart Truth. It's designed to educate women about heart disease, which kills more women than men, and is, in fact, the leading cause of death among women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: So women don't suffer the same symptoms sometimes. Sometimes rather than a crushing chest pain that we're -- you know, we've heard about on -- in the movies when someone dies of a heart attack, instead women will have a jaw ache or a neck ache or an ache in their back. Extreme fatigue is also one of the symptoms. So I hope that women will learn what their risks are for heart disease and really pay attention to their health.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Mrs. Bush talked about a number of front-page items, including the upcoming State of the Union Address from her husband, the recent Iraqi elections and criticism that Mr. Bush has sometimes seemed cavalier about U.S. deaths in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: All of these tragedies, every one of them, he thinks about every single day. I mean, when you're the commander in chief, when you're the one who's made the decision to put young men and women in harm's way, which is by far the most difficult decision any president ever has to make, then you're always aware of the consequences of that decision.

CROWLEY: Why do you think we don't see it?

BUSH: Well, I think you do see it. I mean, I think there are some people -- there's certainly times that people see that. And the families of people who have lost someone in Afghanistan or Iraq who met with the president certainly know how he feels.

You know, I don't know what the criticism is. I mean, I understand that people criticize him for not mentioning that at every single press conference. But the fact is, he does think about it every single day. And I certainly think about it every single day.

You know, these are very tough times. They're tough for people who have a loved one who's deployed overseas. But on the other hand, look at what happened on Sunday.

CROWLEY: Did you all watch on TV? Because that was my other question about...

BUSH: We did. We watched it on TV. We woke up really early, and George called the situation room to hear what the reports were out of Iraq.

And they were very encouraging then. And then all day at different points of the day when we'd have television on and see the different stories and see the people dancing in the street and...

CROWLEY: We read that he feels vindicated. Does he feel -- has he expressed that to you?

BUSH: Oh, I don't know if I would say that. I mean, that's somebody else's putting that word on him.

But -- but I also -- but I do think that we all -- that all Americans see that, you know, that the Iraqi people do want to build a democracy. And that's what we saw in Afghanistan when they voted.

Just think of what we've seen in the last three or four months. We've seen a historic election in Afghanistan. We've seen an election in the Palestinian territory. And now we've seen an election in Iraq.

And these are very, very hopeful times. They're difficult times. There's no doubt about it. And they are particularly difficult for the United States military and their families. But they're very historic.

CROWLEY: Do you feel your role changing? Are you more political now than you were four years ago, five years ago?

BUSH: My role probably hasn't changed as much as I've changed and just become more comfortable in this job that I have, this job, as Lady Bird Johnson said, that, you know, has no job description. As she said, "The first lady has a podium, if she chooses to use it." And I think that's what I've come to find out.

And I didn't -- when I first started, when George was first inaugurated president, I think I didn't really realize what an opportunity I had, and what a responsibility I had, really, to talk about issues that are important to me and to try to make a difference however I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Another thing people have noticed, and I'm sure you noticed, too, Judy, that the first lady looks different than she used to. Looked terrific walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tells me that she has been lifting weights three times a week for an hour for three years, and that it has shown some benefits. A lot of people talking about that she not only looks good, but she also seems substantively stronger. And I think you saw some of that in the interview.

WOODRUFF: She seems very comfortable in the position of first lady.

CROWLEY: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Very comfortable and very plugged in.

CROWLEY: Yes. I think she has the ultimate plug there.

WOODRUFF: She has the ultimate connection to what's going on.

CROWLEY: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: Candy, thank you very much. Really, really worth listening to.

Well, when President Bush address addresses Congress tomorrow night, it will be his fifth beginning-of-the-year speech to lawmakers and the nation. Our national correspondent Bruce Morton looks at how the president's words and the world have changed through the years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This president's first speech to Congress in February 2001 wasn't billed as a state of the union speech. Simply an address to a joint session. It made a claim.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together, we are changing the tone in the nation's capital.

MORTON: Though most Democrats would say partisanship is worse now, not better. He called for tax cuts.

G. BUSH: The people of America have been overcharged, and on their behalf I'm here asking for a refund.

(APPLAUSE)

MORTON: Congress said yes. By the 2002 state of the union speech, of course, 9/11 had happened, the U.S. had gone after terrorists in Afghanistan.

G. BUSH: We'll be partners in rebuilding that country, and this evening we welcomed the distinguished interim leader of a liberated Afghanistan, Chairman Hamid Karzai.

(APPLAUSE)

MORTON: And he voiced a belief that is central to his foreign policy.

G. BUSH: America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere.

MORTON: In the 2003 speech, he urged making his tax cuts permanent. Still a goal.

G. BUSH: I am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year.

MORTON: And he had a warning for the dictator of Iraq.

G. BUSH: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

MORTON: The U.S. invasion came less than two months later, March 20. In 2004, the problem was insurgents. Though the president claimed progress. G. BUSH: These killers, joined by foreign terrorists, are a serious, continuing danger. Yet we're making progress against them.

MORTON: And he said this...

G. BUSH: I believe that god has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.

MORTON: After the Iraqi election last Sunday, he may use that line again in this year's speech.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

And stay with CNN throughout primetime tomorrow for complete coverage of the president's State of the Union Address, analysis and the Democratic response.

What should Americans be watching for when President Bush takes the podium tomorrow night? Still ahead, we'll have a viewer's guide to Mr. Bush's State of the Union Address.

Plus, as the vote counting continues in Iraq, should President Bush be spelling out an exit strategy? I'll ask Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd next.

And later, I'll talk to Republican Senator George Allen.

There is breaking news, as we mentioned at the top of the show, in the race for DNC chair. Martin Frost is dropping out. We'll have details on that ahead and what it means for Howard Dean's campaign.

And find out what happens when two political lightning rods collide. It's Jesse Helms versus Bill Clinton ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Iraq's interim president said today that it would be "complete nonsense" to ask U.S. and other foreign troops to leave the country immediately. President Ghazi al-Yawar said the troops should leave only after Iraq's own security forces are built up. But he also said the number of foreign troops could decrease by the end of this year.

In Baghdad, workers continue to compile the votes from Sunday's nationwide election. The final election results are not expected until the middle of next week.

Here in Washington, the Senate held hearings on a plan to raise the death benefit for U.S. service members killed in combat. The proposal offered by President Bush would raise the one-time death benefit from about $12,000 to $100,000 tax free. With me now to talk more about U.S. troops and the situation in Iraq is Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, different Democrats are saying different things about whether the U.S. should now set a timetable to get out of Iraq. Where do you come down? Do you agree with Senator Kennedy, that now is the time to seriously plan for a withdraw?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I respect those who set timetables. It's not unique to suggest that.

I think probably at this juncture here the best thing we could be doing is -- is trying to make sure the security forces in Iraq are capable of providing the kind of security that the Iraqi people and the government there will need to have. And whether or not that can be done in the time frame the senators have talked about I don't know. But certainly that ought to be the standard.

I think that, as well as having a government that can stand as the support of the Iraqi people. There's several benchmarks I think we ought to be looking at to determine whether or not you have a complete withdraw, barring, of course, the request of the Iraqi government that we leave. Now, we just heard they don't want us to leave right away, but there may come a time here when they'll ask us to move on.

And to the extent we can bring in other people. There have been significant offers now in the last several days on the part of regional governments in the Middle East, as well as some of the European governments, to really weigh in and help out.

I think the United States ought to take advantage of that offer. I hope President Bush in his trip to Europe will solicit that kind of support. The less of a profile the United States has, the more international profile there, and the more secure these forces in Iraq can provide to the Iraqi people, then you can really talk about the United States getting out. And that might happen in the next year or two.

WOODRUFF: But you're not -- you're not calling for any sort of move now...

DODD: No.

WOODRUFF: ... to seriously consider withdrawing?

DODD: I wouldn't at this point. I think that would be -- we had an incredible day the other day. First of all, it needs to be said, I -- what everyone's views are about Iraq and the policy, the courage and fortitude shown by millions of Iraqis to show up and vote, where there were 500 or 600 incidents across that country and 40 people lost their lives, we know in this country if it's a slight mist on election day, people don't vote. Iraqis showed people what democracy really can mean to people.

WOODRUFF: So tomorrow night in the State of the Union Address, very quickly, what do -- what do you need to hear the president say about Iraq?

DODD: Well, that we're going to build on this. This was a great day on Sunday, but it's only going to be as significant a day in light of history with what follows on.

Do the new Shia majority here invite Sunnis to be part of this government? Are there going to be Kurdish ministers in this government here? Are you going to get the kind of infrastructure built now, where water and sewage, the electric lights go on in people's homes?

That's what you need to build off this election day. If it's only an election day, and things begin to deteriorate hereafter, then we'll remember it just as a significant day and nothing more than that. It's an opportunity that the election has provided. I hope the president talks about that and his willingness to reach out to others to join with us.

And lastly, Judy, he's got to get our fiscal house in order. We've got a mess fiscally in this nation. The largest debt in the history of our nation. The largest deficit, rather; trade deficit as well.

We're not going to be able to do much anywhere, either at home or abroad, if we don't get our fiscal house in order. And I hope the president talks about that.

WOODRUFF: Senator, very quickly now, two questions. Social Security, the president is now sounding like he's willing to give some on phasing in changes to protect the deficit. Are Democrats going to go along with that?

DODD: Republicans won't. This is a nonstarter. The president needs to smell the day here and talk to his -- his own party officials.

I don't think this proposal of his is a crisis. It's not going anywhere. Let him shift to Medicare and Medicaid. We need some real help in those areas. And leave Social Security alone.

WOODRUFF: Last question. Howard Dean -- Martin Frost dropping out of the race for the Democratic National Committee chair. Is it Howard Dean's now, and are you willing to support him?

DODD: Well, it looks as though it will be. Don Fowler, who I know very well, his father and I served together as chair and co-chair of the DNC a number of years ago, and young Donnie I know well. I think he's still in the race. It's a two-person race, and I'm prepared to support whoever ends up being the choice of the Democratic National Committee.

WOODRUFF: We hear you. Senator Christopher Dodd, very good to see you.

DODD: You bet. Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you so much. DODD: Bye-bye.

WOODRUFF: And we turn our attention more to domestic politics. Straight ahead, can social issue issues help break the Democrats' hold on African-Americans voters? The GOP sees signs of hope when INSIDE POLITICS returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We lead off today's "Political Bytes" with continued efforts by Republicans to improve their standing with black voters. The "Los Angeles Times" reports that more than 100 African-American ministers are gathering there today for the first of several regional summits to build support for a ban on gay marriage.

The newspaper says the event is among several backed by the GOP and by conservative political groups. Some strategists believe the president's opposition to gay marriage improved his Election Day support among black voters in key states, including Ohio.

In Maryland, hip-hop music producer Russell Simmons is praising Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich for his drug law reforms and his support for black colleges. Simmons tells "The Washington Times" that Ehrlich is winning over African-Americans voters and that the governor "makes every Republican open for disdiscussion among black voters." In 2002, Simmons campaigned Ehrlich's Democratic opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In presidential politics, Senator John Kerry reports that he has transferred $4 million from his presidential primary campaign account to his Senate campaign fund. According to FEC records, Kerry still has $10 million in the presidential primary account. All the money in both accounts could be used to run for re-election to the Senate in 2008 or to make another run for the White House.

One day until the state of the union. What items will President Bush push in his address tomorrow night? We'll check in with our John King live at the White House when we return.

Plus, Bill Clinton may have to update his resume. We'll tell you about the former president's new high-profile position.

And the race to run the Democratic Party. Will Howard Dean be just about the only candidate left standing?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As the markets are about to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "THE DOBBS REPORT." Hi, Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy, thanks. Well, it's the second straight day of solid gains on Wall Street. American Express is up about six percent. That's leading the blue chips higher. The market likes it that the company is spinning off the financial adviser's unit, which had been seen as a drag on the profits.

Let's take a look at the numbers as the final trades are being counted. The Dow industrials adding about 60 points, and the Nasdaq slightly higher. And the bigger picture on the economy. The Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting this morning, but the decision on interest rates won't be out until tomorrow afternoon. Now, economists expect another quarter-point hike in that key rate. That's the sixth one since last June. Wall Street, however, will pay more attention to the Feds' written statement, and that gives clues if the Fed is setting a target rate for inflation.

A $16 billion merger and the workers at the two companies will be paying for it. SBC Communications, which announced just yesterday it would acquire AT&T says nearly 13,000 jobs will be eliminated and more cuts could follow. The company says that 60 percent of the cost savings from the deal come from job cuts. And the combination of two phone firms will still create the largest company in the telecom industry.

American car companies still not doing well. They're posting weak sales figures, while Japanese auto companies are grabbing more of the U.S. market. Now, Ford says sales of all of its brands fell 12 percent in January and that's mainly because sales of Ford Explorer and the Excursion model SUVs tumbled more than 40 percent. Chrysler sales also fell. They were down about one percent. General Motors, that's the biggest automaker, says its sales actually rose by one percent.

The Pentagon and Halliburton have come up with sharply different figures on how much it will cost to feed and provide services to the troops in Iraq. There's a nearly $4 billion gap between the amount of money the Pentagon has set aside and what the defense contractor says it will charge. Now, the two sides are still negotiating over what services will be provided over the next year. Halliburton says it won't provide services unless it's directed and funded by the Pentagon.

Coming up 6:00 p.m. Eastern, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," Congressman J.D. Hayworth calling for a crackdown on illegal aliens in this country and he joins Lou tonight. Plus, broken borders. Mexico's interior minister continues to spark controversy with his comments about the United States. We take a look at the relationship between the two countries. And sweeping reforms are under way at the National Institutes of Health. Top government experts are no longer allowed to receive lucrative consulting deals with drug companies. We'll have a special report on that.

But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kitty, thanks very much. And we'll be watching at 6:00.

INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: What should you look for when President Bush gives his State of the Union address tomorrow night? Stick around for our viewers guide.

He's been out of office for four years, but is former president Clinton still the bogeyman when it comes to conservatives?

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. The Bush White House is promising the president's State of the Union address will take the debate over Social Security reform a bold step forward. For more of a preview on the speech, let's go to our senior White House correspondent, John King.

Hi, John.

JOHN KING, SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Judy. Senior administration officials briefing reporters today, offering a preview of that speech. And they have significantly raised the bar, if you will, when it comes to the trademark issue, the signature issue on the domestic agenda the president will outline, and that is revamping Social Security. The whole debate, as you know, in recent weeks and months, has been when will the president offer more details beyond saying he wants those personal retirement accounts, investing money in private accounts like the stock market. When will the president go beyond that?

Well, officials today refusing to give us the details, but they do suggest in the speech the president will, quote, "advance the ball." The president will make clear he is quote, "willing to provide the necessary political leadership on some of the most difficult issues involved in Social Security." And they also say that he will -- this will be a bold step forward in the debate.

Now what will that mean? They won't tell us just yet. They say more details tomorrow just in advance of the speech. But of course, the key issues are will the president acknowledge and will he signal his willingness to cut benefits for some younger Americans as they get older? The president, we are told, will make a detailed case about the financial footing of the Social Security program and make clear that he wants this changed and changed this year. The key, of course, is he open to saying he'd raise the retirement age? Is he open to saying that he would change the way the inflation adjustment is calculated every year for Social Security recipients?

The officials today would not give us those answers, but they do say the president would be more detailed in his speech, which is something Democrats have been daring the president to do and Republicans are saying are necessary because they say many of their constituents are just quite uneasy about having this debate at all.

On other issues, we are told the president will talk about the mission in Iraq and lay out how he thinks the Iraqi elections this past weekend are historic, but also make the clear that the U.S. military mission will continue for some time to come, until more steps toward democracy are taken, until much more Iraqi forces are trained and ready. The president will reject calls from Democrats that he give any specific exit timetable in his State of the Union address.

And, Judy, one more quick footnote. The president will dedicate half of this speech -- it runs about 40 minutes before applause -- half of it to domestic issues, half to foreign policy. In that foreign policy section, the president will voice great optimism that there is a moment here and a great opportunity to revive the Middle East peace process, now that the Palestinians have new leadership. And the president will promise in that speech that he will fully commit his administration to that effort -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So a different balance from the inaugural address, which was largely foreign policy. OK. John King, thank you very much.

Well, whatever President Bush says tomorrow, will it be what the American people want to hear or need to hear? Here's our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The 2004 campaign bitterly divided the country. Those divisions have shown no sign of healing until Sunday. The Iraqi election has given President Bush a much-needed boost. Iraqis seem to want to reconcile, how about Americans? What signals should viewers be looking for in the president's State of the Union speech? On Iraq, viewers will be looking for some sign that the end is in sight, but don't count on a timetable.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Timetables send the wrong message to the terrorists because all terrorists have to do is wait, and then they can plan and coordinate and prepare attacks around those timetables.

SCHNEIDER: Social Security will be the big item on the president's domestic agenda.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One innovative response to this issue is to allow younger workers to take some of their own money and set it aside in a personal savings account.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats are all geared up to take shots at President Bush's Social Security plan, if he presents one. But Bush may decide not to make the same mistake his predecessor did on healthcare and give his opponents a target to shoot at.

Both liberals and conservatives will be listening to hear how much of a priority he intends to place on social issues. Conservatives will be disappointed if he doesn't say he'll work hard to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. They will also be disappointed if he says he will work hard to pass his immigration reform proposal, which they don't like. One sign of reconciliation to look for -- how many times Democrats join Republicans in a standing ovation. It happened often in Bush's 2002 State of the Union speech.

BUSH: So my economic security plan can be summed up in one word -- jobs.

SCHNEIDER: But that was during the era of good feeling after 9/11, when partisanship was subdued. It happened less often last year. The country had become divided over Iraq. The era of ill will had set in. It's still going on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: The Iraq election gives President Bush an opening to try to break through the ill will, but he has to seize the moment tomorrow night.

WOODRUFF: We're all going to be watching.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, we will.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

And one more State of the Union reminder. CNN will have complete coverage of the president's speech in primetime tomorrow, along with the Democratic response and in-depth analysis.

Well, President Bush may not be ready to offer a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq, but after Iraqi elections, should he be clearer about his exit strategy? I'll talk with Republican Senator George Allen ahead.

Plus, can anyone or anything stop Howard Dean from becoming DNC chair now? Up next, we'll consider that question now that Dean rival Martin Frost is dropping out.

And later, why is former senator Jesse Helms suggesting that Bill Clinton wants to take over the world?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Two more candidates for Democratic National Committee chairman have dropped out of the race, just within the last couple of hours. With me now to bring us up to date on these fast-moving developments is Chuck Todd. He's the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced daily by the "National Journal."

So Chuck, it's like thunderbolts. We've had Martin Frost, the former Texas congressman, drop out. And then the Ohio candidate, Mr. Leland. What's going on?

CHUCK TODD, "THE HOTLINE": Frost was basically waiting one more day. After yesterday when he didn't have the support from the state chairs, which pretty strongly endorsed Dean in their vote, it was more than a two to one advantage of Dean, even when you combine all the other candidates vote in support, but he was waiting to see if labor, some of the AFL-CIO as an entire coalition or some significant number of labor unions were going to endorse him, he was going to stay in the race. When they chose not to endorse, which was what they did just after lunch today, then he realized he had no more constituency left...

WOODRUFF: Why didn't they endorse Martin Frost? He really wanted that.

TODD: He did. Labor is going through its own problems right now. Labor is trying to -- you've got Andy Stern who has headed the SEIU who is trying to basically reform the entire AFL-CIO down to -- and get rid of some unions, merge some unions. They have their own business to clean up. The last thing they want to do, after being on the wrong side of two different presidential candidates in 2004 is be on the wrong side of a DNC race.

WOODRUFF: So who do we have left? We've got Howard Dean and who else?

TODD: Howard Dean, Donnie Fowler who is the son of the former DNC chair, you have former congressman Tim Roemer is staying in the race from everything we understand. And then you still have Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democrat Network. Now I've talked to his people. And they say they're going to assess where things are. That's sort of code sometimes for, you know, they might be looking to see -- they're not in it to just make a statement. As they kept saying they're in it to win it and if they don't think they can win then they would likely move out.

What's interesting is that Fowler's people say they're definitely going to stay in. No one blames them. They were the only one that had double digit support among state chairs. There's sort of this outsider constituency out there that is very supportive of decentralizing the DNC, and Donnie Fowler has tapped into that.

WOODRUFF: Chuck, there was all this talk that those in the party were worried Howard Dean is too liberal, he's going to send the wrong signal, it's going to be hard for the party to raise money. There was going to be a Stop Dean candidate or an anti-Dean. Why hasn't one emerged strong enough to do any damage?

TODD: The problem is it's the people that were supposedly looking for the Stop Dean candidates, the Clintons, the Congressional Democratic leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, they didn't get together and talk to each other and get behind one candidate.

So that was one problem is that you had different people thinking that there was a Stop Dean movement. The other thing was misreading the state chairs a little bit. That maybe -- that there was this idea that there was going to be a majority out there that were against Dean. And the fact is the anti-Dean movement is not a movement at all, but more of an idea that didn't have the resonance inside the states that I think the smart people here in Washington thought.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Chuck, how much upset is there going to be in the Democratic party if Howard Dean is elected chair?

TODD: I think there's going to be less than we're all predicting. I think there's going to be some searching. The media is going to try to find some breaks. Dean has been very careful to keep a low profile at these forums. He's been the guy who's been sort of holding himself back, sort of making fun of the caricature that is Howard Dean. What will be an interesting test for the party is what happens when the RNC, which had a whole bunch of opposition research on Howard Dean, when they thought he was going to be President Bush's opponent, decides to start dripping that out right after Dean's elected and just see if they can make Dean completely untenable in Alabama, in Georgia, where he can't even go and raise money. How the party holds itself together, going through what could be a tough two- month stretch, will be interesting.

WOODRUFF: So much to watch. And it's happening very fast. Chuck Todd, thank you very much. "The Hotline" an insider's political briefing is produced every day by the "National Journal." You can go online to Nationaljournal.com for subscription information.

Ahead here, a Republican view on progress in Iraq. I'll talk with Virginia Senator George Allen about Sunday's election and the challenges still facing U.S. forces in Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Earlier in the program, I discussed the situation in Iraq with Democratic Senator Chris Dodd. For a Republican point of view on Iraq and other issues, I spoke a short time ago with Senator George Allen of Virginia. I started by asking Senator Allen if U.S. troops in Iraq are any safer following Sunday's nationwide election.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: I believe they are because I think you'll see the ultimate dynamic of this wonderful successful election over the weekend was that the people of Iraq are now taking control of their own government. The terrorists, the remnants of Saddam's regime, the hostage takers are enemies of the individual freedom of the people of Iraq, and I think you'll see more security forces coming forward, being trained up in Iraq, and that will make it safer for our troops, who will probably be more in a supportive role and ultimately come home.

But make no mistake about it, the Sunday elections there in Iraq were history. It reinforces my faith in human beings and their desire to live free and control their own destiny. We saw it in the past in places like Afghanistan and decades before in Central America. But it's a positive step.

WOODRUFF: Senator, the president often cites the presence of international troops as proof that there's a broad coalition, broad support for the U.S. mission in Iraq. But now we see several of the 28 countries that do have troops in Iraq are saying that they plan to bring their troops home, either in whole or in part. Is this going to hurt the cause? ALLEN: I think the key aspect of all of this right now is for our troops and our coalition forces to continue in the efforts to train Iraqis to take care of their own safety. I actually do think that even countries such as France and others who are not involved in the military action recognize a convergence of the interests of the United States, of France, of other countries to make sure that this democracy takes hold in Iraq; because it's not in any of their interests for it not to succeed.

So I think that you're going to see greater international cooperation in training because now you have a duly elected interim national assembly in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Senator, another question about Iraq. The top U.S. commander in Baghdad, General George Casey, is saying he is facing what he calls an unaffordable budget gap between what the Halliburton Company is saying that it is going to cost to provide food and housing and so forth to U.S. troops versus what the military has budgeted, something like $4 billion gap there. Is more money going to have to be appropriated?

ALLEN: I suspect so, Judy. We're going to have to expend what is necessary to make sure our troops have the equipment, and for that matter, the necessities of living and life there in Iraq.

I do want to say something to the families who have lost loved ones, over 1,400 in this war on terror, that they've made the ultimate sacrifice, and they also ought to recognize how grateful we are to them for the progress that's been made in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Senator, thank you for that. And finally, on a different topic, you and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu introduced a resolution formally apologizing for the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass anti-lynching legislation. That is obviously getting some attention. But now there is a fellow at a Democratic thinktank called the Center for American Progress, pointing out to the media that there was criticism of you during your campaign for governor, that you had promoted Confederate history month, that you opposed the Martin Luther King state holiday and so forth. They're asking, isn't there a contradiction here?

ALLEN: Virginia has a very complex history, and the Confederacy and the Civil War is part of our history. In Virginia, there's a lot of tourism in battlefield sites involved in that. One goes through life learning, and when one sees things that are wrong in the past and folks come to request my assistance, I wanted to help them. I think it's a deplorable lack of activity on the part of the U.S. Senate in years past to not pass an anti-lynching bill which would have helped, I think, prevent a lot of these deaths as well as help prosecute those involved in it.

I could go through all of my record, but I'm one who's grown up believing that every person, regardless of their race, their gender, their religion or ethnicity ought to have an equal opportunity to compete and succeed. And I'm continuing to advocate those ideals, those principles. And this anti-lynching legislation with Mary Landrieu is one to point out what went wrong in the past so we remember it but also not repeat it in the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia.

When it comes to fund-raising, some politicians have it, and some don't. Up next, a clash of the titans drives home the way that some partisan figures are cash magnets for the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A man at the center of U.S. policy in Iraq is making his first public comments on Sunday's elections. He is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He gave an interview just moments ago to CNN's Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And in that interview, Judy, Secretary Rumsfeld praised the courage of the Iraqi people for going to the polls despite the threat -- the real threat from the insurgents, and he said, even though the election shows that Iraq is on the right path, it's still too soon to say when the U.S. will begin to be able to make significant reductions in troop levels there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Obviously, the answer to your question is not a month or a year. It is a -- it's condition based. It's based on when the Iraqi government and their security forces have developed the capability, the capacity to provide for the security of their people.

We've been working very hard on it. There are over 130,000 Iraqi security forces in the ministry of interior and the ministry of defense. There's another 70,000 site protection people. So a lot's been done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld refused to speculate on how soon those Iraqi forces would be able to take over for U.S. troops. He said, every time somebody makes a prediction about something like that, they are wrong. But he insisted that Iraq is on the right path, and what he called the great sweep of history is for freedom, and that he believes the U.S. has made the right decision. We'll have a little more of that interview later on CNN -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. Later on tonight. Jamie McIntyre, thanks very much for that update on his interview. We appreciate it.

Well, a United Nations diplomat tells CNN that Secretary-General Kofi Annan plans to name Bill Clinton as his envoy to head up tsunami reconstruction efforts in South Asia. The former president already is helping to raise private sector financial support for the region at the request of President Bush along with the president's father. A Clinton appointment by the U.N. may only add fuel to a new line of attack against him by former Republican Senator Jesse Helms. It's a clash of two political figures who helped to write the script for partisan dramas of the past decade.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DARTH VADER, LORD OF THE SITH: It shall be a day long remembered...

WOODRUFF: Imagine "Star Wars" without Darth Vader.

VADER: ... this technological terror you've constructed.

WOODRUFF: "Lord of the Rings" without Gollum.

GOLLUM: Precious.

WOODRUFF: "Jaws" without the shark.

Not a lot to sink your teeth into, right? Well, politics, like cinema, can be all about the bad guy.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS
WOODRUFF: For decades, former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms was the devil for the Democrats. A living embodiment of much that was wrong with Republicans.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: And for 12 or 14 years I had to sit there and listen to Jesse Helms go on and on with his sort of subtle kind of racist remarks.

WOODRUFF: They invoked his name to rally their base and raise mountains of campaign cash. Now Helms is turning the tables, summoning another political bogeyman in a fund-raising letter for his library. In the appeal, Helms raises the specter of Bill Clinton, U.N. secretary-general, writing, quote: "I cannot afford to sit back and allow Bill Clinton the chance to corrupt the rest of the world."

Of course, the chances of Clinton taking over the U.N. are remote at best. It's really only a rumor. But as Helms knows only too well nothing inflames passions like a villain, and bogeymen are nothing new in politics. Over the past decade, you've had your Newts.

CROWD: Newt must go!

WOODRUFF: Your Teddies.

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: And no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry!

WOODRUFF: Your Hillarys, of course, .

BUSH: My opponent's plan would put us on the path to Hillary- care.

WOODRUFF: One of the biggest bogeymen of the left is about to exit stage right.

RALPH NEAS, PRES., PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Who would have thought at the beginning of a millennium that a president-elect would name or would nominate to be attorney general someone to the right of Senator Jesse Helms.

WOODRUFF: Comparing John Ashcroft to Jesse Helms? Fighting words indeed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Ah, are you scared? That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.

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


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