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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
A Troubled Pitch?; God & Government Grounds; Reiner Speaks Out
Aired March 2, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.
This hour, President Bush welcoming the Boston Red Sox to the White House. It is a big day for baseball in Washington, along with a certain Massachusetts Democrat who would have preferred to be hosting the event. During their time together, Mr. Bush may want to take some pointers from the World Series champs about beating the odds and silencing the naysayers, given the wary reception his Social Security reform pitch has been getting lately.
We begin with our White House correspondent Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy.
And that event with the Red Sox is scheduled to start in a short time here at the White House. But, of course, talking about Social Security, Alan Greenspan is somebody -- the Federal Reserve chairman, of course -- is somebody that one senior official here dubbed perhaps the leader in what she called the coalition of the important when it comes to the Social Security debate. And on Capitol Hill today, Alan Greenspan talked about this issue.
He did say that he thinks Medicare perhaps is in worse financial straits than Social Security. But he said that Social Security, as he said before, can be fixed, perhaps the best with private accounts, as President Bush is pushing. And he said the following when it comes to the timing of reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: If existing promises need to be changed, those changes should be made sooner rather than later. We owe future retirees as much time as possible to adjust their plans for work, saving and retirement spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, that could not have come at a better time for the White House. They have been urgently trying to fight the perception that the president's Social Security plan is doomed because of the fact that lawmakers have come back from recess and are saying there just isn't the groundswell that they perhaps had hoped to hear, particularly Republicans, about the need for reform.
So the president has been traveling, of course, around the country and talking about the need for reform. But congressional Republicans say he has to do so more. And at the White House, they are trying to calm that by saying that the president is going to get out there more and they are going to be traveling, making the case even more in the next couple of weeks. And even the president started an event today in Maryland talking about job training, promising that he is going to -- he hears them and he is going to do this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Friday I'm off to New Jersey and Indiana. Every week I'm going to be out talking about the problem, assuring seniors that nothing will change and reminding young Americans that they need to write the Congress, the senators and the House of Representatives and demand action so that we don't stick a young generation with serious problems that will wreck our economy and wreck their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, the White House today is playing up the fact that it's not just going to be the president, but the mantra is that they are going to blanket the country from senior administration officials, top officials on down. There you're looking at a release that they put out over at the Treasury Department. That's the headline "60 Stops in 60 Days." That comes from the Treasury secretary.
They are saying that this is going to happen, an education process that fellow Republicans on the Hill are asking for. What's important to know, Judy, however, is that the very open question still is whether or not even if people do think that there is a need for reform, they could find a compromise to get that done. And they're going to need, as we've talked about, those Senate Democrats to do so. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, said again today that he believes all 45 Democrats in the Senate are united against the president's idea for private accounts in Social Security -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Dana, Just quickly, to clarify, it's my understanding that Greenspan was urging still a go-slow approach on those private investment accounts. But what he's urging that there be quicker action on is cleaning up the fiscal state of both Social Security and Medicare.
BASH: That's right. He's saying Medicare is perhaps the bigger problem than Social Security. But if the political debate is right now on Social Security, then people should realize on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that it should be done quickly.
WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash at the White House. Thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Well, we are still waiting for President Bush and Senator John Kerry to take part in that Red Sox tribute. The event is running a little behind schedule after both men appeared at the Capitol Hill event you just saw. That was the event honoring Jackie Robinson, the baseball great. We're going to go live to the Red Sox ceremony, by the way, live as soon as it gets under way.
Over at the United States Supreme Court today, a new round in the separation of church and state debate. At issue, does a Ten Commandments monument on government grounds amount to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion? Our national correspondent Bruce Morton has more on the cases that are before the high court.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Texas case involves this monument near the capitol which lists the Ten Commandments with the words, "I am the lord thy god" in large letters. The Kentucky case involves posting Ten Commandments along with other historical documents in two courthouses. But the arguments were similar.
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: We made clear to the court that the Ten Commandments is of historical significance as a symbol of law in this country.
MATTHEW STAVER, ATTORNEY FOR KENTUCKY COUNTIES: The reason for all of this is because the Ten Commandments have profoundly impacted American law in government.
MORTON: No, said the opponents, this is government endorsing religion.
DAVID FRIEDMAN, KENTUCKY ACLU: And we are hopeful that the court will agree with every court below that on this record, these counties had both an impermissible purpose and an impermissible effect of endorsing religion.
MORTON (on camera): The lawyers argued in a room decorated with a freeze (ph) of historical figures, including Moses and the Commandments. Justice Souter pointed that out. But also including Mohammed and Confucius.
Comments from the justices, Kennedy: "There is this obsessive concern with any mention of religion that shows a hostility to religion." O'Connor: "If the legislation can open its sessions which the public can attend with a prayer, why can't it do monuments? It's so hard to draw this line where one is proper and the other isn't."
(voice-over): It's hard to know how the court will rule. The public is clear. Fifty-six percent told a CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll they think a display of the Commandments in their state capitol would be appropriate. The court's decision will probably come toward the end of the term in June.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.
There is, meantime, a new move on Capitol Hill to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military. Congressman Marty Meehan introduced a bill today to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays to stay in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret. Meehan cites a Government Accounting Office estimate that it has cost the Pentagon about $200 million over the last decade to replace hundreds of critical troops booted for being gay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is an issue that has to do with military readiness and national security. Surely since 9/11 all of us recognize the fact that we need to have people in the military with specialized skills. And the idea that 10,000 of those individuals who are bravely and courageously serving can't serve because of their sexual orientation doesn't make any sense from a military perspective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: It was the Clinton administration that came up with the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise and Congress passed it back in 1993.
The GOP is lambasting Senator Robert Byrd for apparently drawing a comparison between Senate Republicans and Adolph Hitler. Here's what the West Virginia Democrat said yesterday while urging a full debate on the president's judicial nominees and warning Republicans against rule changes, the so-called nuclear option, to prevent Democrats from filibustering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made it -- made this illegality legal. And that is what the nuclear option seeks to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: In a statement, the Republican National Committee chairman, Ken Mehlman, said, "Senator Byrd's invocation of Hitler's Germany is reprehensible and beyond the pale." Mehlman says, "This poisonous rhetoric only serves to illustrate the desperation and weakness of Senator Byrd's position."
In Hollywood, actor Robert -- Rob Reiner is a powerful voice for Democratic causes. Up next, my conversation with Rob Reiner about President Bush's policies and his own political future.
Also ahead, a high profile and outspoken Republican, Senator John McCain, will discuss his recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan and whether he's at odds with the president on his approach to Russia.
And when we go "Inside the Blogs," the debate over how many people actually read all those online opinions.
WOODRUFF: Rob Reiner is a well known Hollywood actor, producer and director. And in recent years he's been a high-profile advocate on political issues to, especially those affecting children. He's even been mentioned as a possible opponent for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I spoke with Rob Reiner a little while ago and I started by asking him why he's criticizing President Bush's proposed budget.
ROB REINER, ACTOR, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR: Well, it's where the money is being spent and where the priorities are. We have a $45 billion cut in Medicaid. We have child care resource of bloc grants frozen. We have Head Start frozen.
This is going to cause hundreds of thousands of children to lose child care, to lose -- to be taken off of Head Start. We're going to have millions of children that are going to lose their health insurance because of this.
The priorities are messed up. That's the problem. And that's what Parents' Action is designed to do. We started this movement to empower parents, to give them a voice to say that the issues that you care about need to be heard.
WOODRUFF: But I've looked at what the president and the people around him are saying about their budget, and it's pretty clear they want to move away interest those traditional federal spending programs that they think aren't delivering services and, among other things, move to some of these faith-based initiatives. They're promoting -- they say in this budget they're promoting marriage, they're promoting sexual abstinence, fatherhood. What's wrong with those priorities?
REINER: Nothing wrong with those priorities, and there's nothing wrong with faith-based organizations that can deliver services. But I can tell you, based on all of the experience I've had -- and I've been not at it as long as many people, but I've been at it for 10 years in California. I run a -- I'm the chairman of the California Children of Families Commission.
We deliver a lot of services to, you know, a lot of people out in California. And the private community, the foundation community, although helpful, and the faith-based community are not -- cannot take the place of public dollars, of what we do. That's the biggest portion of the pie. And what public dollars are going to do and what the priorities for those public dollars are really critical to what we deliver for children.
WOODRUFF: The other quick point the administration would make is that we're in war time, we're fighting a war on terror. That has to be the chief priority in this budget.
REINER: Right. And we don't pay for that either. We don't pay for that either. Since when have we ever been at war where we don't ask the taxpayer to -- you know, to contribute? It's never happened.
So we give tax cuts to rich people, we roll up the deficit. And when we try to balance the budget, we balance it on the backs of poor people, working families and kids. That's not the way to do it. Let's everybody contribute.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about California. You've been pushing an initiative out there, a preschool initiative. Is that going to be on the ballot do you think in June '06?
REINER: Yes. That will be on the ballot in June 2006, and that will provide preschool for every 4-year-old in California. And we've got a powerful coalition that we've assembled to do that, and that is a priority for us.
WOODRUFF: Rob Reiner, let's talk also California politics. Very interesting poll came out a few days ago showing you lead a group of potential Democrats for governor. Are you looking at running?
REINER: Look, I am very flattered that the voters in California would think of me in that way. Right now my big concern is to fix the education system in California, and that starts with preschool. So my focus right now is to make sure that we get preschool for every 4- year-old, and whether or not I run for elected office, that's something that might happen down the road.
WOODRUFF: So you've given it some thought?
REINER: Yes, of course.
WOODRUFF: You've given it thought.
REINER: Of course you give it thought.
WOODRUFF: Arnold Schwarzenegger ran and spent a lot of time the year before he ran focusing on afterschool programs. Is that a model, do you think, for you?
REINER: Well, but -- no. You see, I've already passed legislation in California, Proposition 10, which passed in 1998, which provides about $600 million a year. It was done through a tobacco tax increase -- $600 million a year for children's programs, preschool, health care, child care, so on.
The initiative that Arnold passed, Prop 49, which was for afterschool programs, was an unfunded mandate. There was no money attached to it, and it was essentially -- his own legislative analysts in Sacramento has now said it's not a good program because it straps the government at a time when resources are scarce.
WOODRUFF: Finally, do you have a timetable for deciding on whether to run?
REINER: You know, there is no timetable. Right now, like I say, I'm focused on making sure every 4-year-old gets preschool. And then we go on from there. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WOODRUFF: Rob Reiner, who has founded an organization, Parents' Action for Children.
Well, before he faces any possible election challenge, Governor Schwarzenegger is once again trying to leverage his star power to sway public opinion. The governor drove his Hummer SUV to a news conference yesterday to kick off his drive to place several items from his political agenda on the ballot this fall. Schwarzenegger needs to collect 600,000 signatures before voters can consider constitutional amendments limiting state spending and state pensions, making teacher salaries merit-based and changing the way political districts are drawn.
DNC chair Howard Dean made Mississippi the latest stop on his tour of so-called red states. Dean spoke to a crowd of more than 900 Democrats last night at a hotel in Jackson. He said his party will not concede traditionally conservative states to the Republicans. In his words, "The South will rise again, and when it does, it will have a 'D' after its name."
New Mexico's Democratic Governor Bill Richardson wants to increase the influence of western state voters in the 2008 presidential primaries. Richardson told the "Albuquerque Tribune" he wants the region to be "a bigger player" by persuading western mountain states to hold their primaries on a single day early in the season. Richardson, we should add, is often mentioned as potential presidential candidate in 2008.
And a follow-up to a story that we told you about earlier this week. A Shreveport, Louisiana, cable advertising company has pulled a TV ad critical of Congressman Jim McCrery.
The ad came down after the advertising firm received a fax from McCrery's campaign committee labeling part of the ad, "patently false." A spokesman for the left-leaning Campaign for America's Future, which paid for the ad, says that his group is "troubled by the decision."
Well, we're going to go online when we return. We'll tell you what blogosphere has to say about a move to regulate the content you see on cable TV.
Plus, outrage over Robert Byrd's Senate floor comments, comparing Republican tactics to Adolph Hitler. All that is next.
WOODRUFF: You're looking at live pictures from the south lawn of the White House. These are members of the World Series-winning Red Sox, Boston Red Sox. They are going to be honored by President Bush. In fact, there's the president himself right on time, well, a few minutes late, coming from the Capitol and a ceremony honoring Jackie Robinson, the late baseball great, who was honored with a Congressional Medal of Honor today. President Bush, followed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Let's listen in.
BUSH: Please be seated, unless you don't have a chair. So like what took you so long?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the wind.
BUSH: Yes. Welcome. And welcome to the citizens of the Red Sox nation.
I'm proud to be joined by the vice president. He's a Chicago Cubs fan. So like he knows what you've been through.
We're really glad you're here. There have been a lot of people in this town waiting for this day to come. Some have said it would be a cold day when the Red Sox made it here.
I am honored to welcome the world champs, the mighty Boston Red Sox, to the White House.
I want to welcome the members of the Massachusetts delegation who are here. I know that Senator Kennedy is here. Senator Kerry is on his way.
We had just finished a ceremony honoring Jackie Robinson. It's -- I know members of the congressional delegation are here from like Massachusetts and everybody else that claims to be a Red Sox state. You all are welcome here.
I appreciate the commissioner coming.
And Bob, it's good to see you, sir.
I thank the members of my cabinet who are here. Appreciate the mayor being here, the mayor of Boston. He's...
You've had a heck of a year, mayor.
I want to thank and welcome my friend Tom Warner and Larry Lucchino. I'm sorry John Henry is sick.
You know, Lucchino, I knew you would amount to something, eventually.
(LAUGHTER) I appreciate -- I appreciate the way this team played baseball. You know, it took a lot of guts and it took a lot of hair.
It took a great manager and coaching staff. And I'll never forget calling Terry Francona after the team won the championship and he -- the only thing I remember him saying was, "It all depended upon the players," which is why he's a good manager, isn't it?
I appreciate the fact that Dom DiMaggio and Jimmy Piersall are with us.
You guys represent a lot of great Boston Red Sox players that a lot of us grew up watching play. And you're welcome here in the White House, and you're representing a great tradition of wonderful folks. You know, the last time the Red Sox were here, Woodrow Wilson lived here.
There were only 16 teams in baseball then. After the World Series victory in 1918, a reporter from Boston said, "The luckiest baseball spot on Earth is Boston, for it has never lost a World Series." That's one optimistic writer.
Senator, welcome. Good to see you.
The only time I -- I like to see Senator Kerry, except when we're fixing to debate.
WOODRUFF: Former baseball team owner himself, the president of the United States, welcoming the World Series champion Boston Red Sox to the White House. Right at home with that team, giving them a little bit of a hard time, talking it would be a cold day in Washington before the Red Sox were at the White House. Today, we just checked, it's 34 degrees, two degrees above freezing, but they're there and they're the winners.
Time now to check what's going on in the blogosphere. And with me once again today to talk about what they are talking about, CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner. She's our blog reporter.
So, Jacki, I bet it's not baseball.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: No, it's more like Byrd. We've already heard what Senator Robert Byrd said on the floor of the Senate, comparing Republican tactics to Adolph Hitler's rise to power. Conservative blogs all over it.
Over at Captain's Quarters, he's got plenty to say, including this comment: "Byrd, with his attempted filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the last person who should be standing in the well of the Senate calling anyone a Nazi." As some people may remember, that filibuster 14 hours.
ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: So the conservative bloggers linking to this last night, and outraged for a couple of reasons. First of all, the comments by the senator himself, like what he actually said, but also the coverage of those comments. Radio Blogger here looking at how the mainstream media has covered what Senator Byrd said. He goes through newspapers, cable news channels, left-wing blogs, other news channels as well, saying that there's no mention of Byrd.
Another thing just quickly, comments by another senator. This is Ted Stevens of Alaska. He wants to expand the FCC's indecency standards to cover cable. This also not going down very well.
Let's quickly look at Ace of Spades there. "Senator Ted Stevens wants to take your skinmax (ph) away. As Charlton Heston would say, 'Out of my cold, dead hands.'"
SCHECHNER: Want to go quickly over to DrZhiblogo.com (ph), which is now -- or, I'm sorry, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which is now my favorite name for a blog, who says, "How stupid is this?" And says if there's anything that he doesn't want to see or he doesn't want his son to see, he'll just change the channel -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Dr. Zhiblogo (ph), is that what you said -- Zhiblogo (ph)?
SCHECHNER: Dr. Zhiblogo (ph).
WOODRUFF: OK. That's a good one. All right. Abbi, Jacki, thank you both. Sorry we had to cut that short because of the baseball event at the White House.
So, a question. Was the president tough enough when he met with Russian President Putin last week? That was one of the questions I asked John McCain. My interview with the senator coming up next.
Plus, the legal battle over the Ten Commandments. I'll get the take from the left and the right with Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan.
WOODRUFF: Just after 4:00 in the East. The markets have just closed on Wall Street and I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, Judy.
Stocks moving lower on the day. Earlier in the session, however, the Dow reached a three and a half year high. But as the final trades are now being counted, the Dow Jones industrials is down almost 17 points. The Nasdaq slightly lower on the day, as well.
The big reason for the downturn: crude oil soaring to a new four- month high, a recent cold spell triggering supply concerns. Oil prices rising more than $1 today, topping $53 a barrel. That jump in oil prices and a fire at a Texas refinery sent gasoline futures to an all-time high today and that probably means higher prices at the pump.
Not only do we depend, of course, on imports for our oil supplies, but also now for our flu vaccine in this country. One of the nation's largest makers of the treatment, Chiron, has been cleared to produce the vaccine again after contamination problems led to the closure of its plant in England last fall. That suspension cut our nation's flu shot supply in half over this flu season.
And corporate America's top brass could be facing audits from the IRS. IRS officials saying that it will now routinely look at the tax returns of top executives at hundreds of big companies. This group was rarely audited before, but a trial program at more than 20 companies revealed what the IRS called significant problems. As corporate scandals and huge bonuses have made headlines, the IRS says it's looking to see whether executives are abusing tax shelters.
Coming up tonight here on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," our special report on CAFTA. The controversial Central American Free Trade Agreement has many in the textile industry predicting major job losses to those chief labor markets overseas. They see CAFTA as yet just another bad trade deal in the name of free trade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER CHASTAIN, MOUNT VERNON MILLS: We're exporting our middle class jobs. We exporting our standard of living. We are exporting the American dream for the next generation, and to me, that's criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Also tonight we'll take a closer look at CAFTA. In our face-off, a debate on whether the trade agreement with Central America is beneficial or harmful for America. We'll investigate both sides of the issue with Congressman Sherid Brown (ph) and Kevin Brady. And Texas attorney general Greg Abbott today argued before the Supreme Court. He joins me tonight to talk about his fight to keep a Ten Commandments statue in front of the Texas State Capital.
And two members of Congress pushing to legalize hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who work on American farms. Senator Larry Craig, Congressman Howard Berman are leading that fight. After a sometime sharp exchange on our broadcast here a couple of weeks ago, we invited them back for further explanation and discussion and we'll have that tonight. We hope you will join us at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Lou, question about the big topic. We're following here in Washington the president's push on Social Security reform. Reporting today that some Republican leaders in Congress think that the vote on this may have to be put off until next year. What's your sense of what the background is here?
DOBBS: Well, Judy, as you know, on my broadcast and in my columns, I've been arguing some would say vociferously and vigorously to end this nonsense on Social Security reform. The fact of the matter is, what is being proposed is not reform of Social Security. It is privatization of accounts that will have nothing to do with reforming Social Security. It's a bad priority. It's the wrong time and it's the wrong plan. And I haven't heard a plan yet that does make really good sense.
We need to leave it alone until we can have serious and, I'm convinced, lengthy study of how to go about preserving the values of the Social Security system and retaining its benefits for retiring Americans in particular.
WOODRUFF: Lou Dobbs, we are -- interesting, couple that with what we heard from Chairman Greenspan today and it's clear that people are saying there needs to be a serious look at Social Security.
DOBBS: Absolutely. Absolutely, Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK, Lou, we'll be watching you at 6:00.
DOBBS: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: He's just back from Iraq.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think the dynamic was changed from insurgents versus U.S. forces to insurgents versus Iraqi government. We win under the latter scenario, but it's going to be long, hard and tough.
ANNOUNCER: Judy goes one-on-one with Senator John McCain.
Should cable be subject to the same indecency guidelines that cover broadcast TV? Some key members of Congress say yes. We'll get the take from the left and from the right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every now and then we're reminded of the transcendent power of sports when an athlete reaches beyond himself.
ANNOUNCER: And Congress writes a wrong with an overdue honor for a man who made history.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Five years after he first ran for the White House, Senator John McCain still portrays himself as a straight talker who isn't afraid to disagree with George W. Bush. The Arizona Republican recently spent some time overseas. He was in Iraq and Afghanistan with another outspoken senator, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now, back in Washington, I sat down with the senator just a short time ago to talk about a variety of things. First, I asked him for his sense of the situation in Iraq, where the U.S. commander in the region believes the insurgency is waning.
MCCAIN: My sense is that General Abizaid, who is one of our finest military leaders, is correct, but I think we have to emphasize that it's a long, hard, difficult struggle. You got a combination of Baathist, criminals, people from outside Iraq, and other disgruntled Sunnis that are going to make life hell for a period of time. But we are showing some progress. Judy, I think the dynamic was changed from insurgents versus U.S. forces to insurgents versus Iraqi government. We win under the latter scenario, but it's going to be long, hard and tough.
WOODRUFF: How do you persuade the American people of that, though? Because you see these terrible incidents day after day and yet the officials and you are saying things are getting better?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I would say that the security that we had to be under on this last trip was greater than the first trip that I made to Iraq. I think we can tell the American people that the Iraqi military and police are being trained and they are gradually taking over more of these responsibilities. That the elected government, which was uplifting to all Iraqi people, is reaching out to Sunnis to bring them into the government. And I am optimistic over time.
WOODRUFF: Somebody who was with you in Iraq, Senator Russ Feingold, he came back and said he's very concerned about whether the situation is moving in the right direction. He said it's very much in doubt. How could the two of you have different views?
MCCAIN: Well, we're very close friends, as you know. But I believe that Russ and I just had some different impressions. But I also visited with many of our troops. They are excellent, their morale is good. They believe that they're making progress. As I mentioned, General Abizaid, the marines in Falluja we met with, are convinced that they're making progress there.
But we're going to see days like a couple of days ago, where a hundred people are killed. It's a very rough neighborhood. And could I add, it was in Afghanistan, as well, there were many people who predicted that Afghanistan would not be a success. So far, it's a remarkable success.
WOODRUFF: Senator, let me turn you to Russia. You have said in the last few days you don't think Russia should be permitted to be part of this G-8 major industrialized nations leaders meeting this summer because of -- in your words, that the Putin government has become more repressive. Now, President Bush was just over there last week. He described his conversations on democracy with Mr. Putin as constructive and in a friendly way. He said he talked about the bomb. Should the president have been more firm, do you think? MCCAIN: It's hard for me to second guess the president. There are some vital national security issues that we share with Russia, including a nuclear stockpile in Russia that, under the Nunn-Lugar, we have to make progress on and others. I'm sure that the president was very firm with him in private. I believe that we have now a movement that's very clear towards autocracy, restoration of the Russian Empire, repression of internal dissent, as well as media and others.
WOODRUFF: Well, doesn't that call for more than a constructive and friendly conversation?
MCCAIN: Well, in my view, it probably does. But I also understand that the president, in private, feels that he can be more constructive. And if the -- I'm sure he gave a very strong warning to President Putin that he needs to come back in another direction. If he doesn't, I think you're going to see a further deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations.
WOODRUFF: Do you know that for a fact or you just believe that?
MCCAIN: You can tell by their body language when they came out that President Putin was not happy with the conversation that they had. And I have heard secondhand and thirdhand that the president was pretty strong with President Putin. But a lot of their conversation was just between the president -- between the two presidents.
WOODRUFF: That was the first part of my interview with Senator McCain. And on the home front, find out if McCain sees eye to eye with the president on Social Security reform. That's when we bring you more of the interview with the senator tomorrow on INSIDE POLITICS.
In the early race to 2008 some would-be contenders may be haunted by ghosts of campaigns past. We'll bring some of those issues out in the open, ahead.
What if cable shows such as "The Sopranos" had to clean up their act? Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will face off over indecency on TV.
And later, it takes a legend to bring George W. Bush and John Kerry together. That's what happened.
WOODRUFF: With me now to talk about some of the governors who have an eye on the 2008 presidential is Chuck Todd. He's the editor- in-chief of The Hotline, an insider's political briefing produced everyday by The National Journal. We read it every day.
So, Chuck, do some of these governors face issues back home that could complicate a White House run?
CHUCK TODD, THE HOTLINE: Well, people think Congress passes weird laws. State legislatures pass some of the weirdest laws and can put some of these governors and make them sign or veto bills that make them uncomfortable and turn into potential litmus tests that are sometimes worse than any number of votes that a U.S. senator even casts.
WOODRUFF: Now let's talk about some of the Democrats. What are they dealing with?
TODD: Well, Bill Richardson this week has -- his state house in New Mexico passed a bill that would repeal the death penalty. The state senate out there seems fairly likely to do the same. It's going to put him in the awkward situation of making the decision. He says he is favor of capital punishment, in favor of the death penalty, with all the DNA stuff. But does he -- what is good for a general election might not be good for the primary. Is the death penalty a big issue? It puts him in an awkward situation this early out. And we all know these things -- votes and vetoes have a huge lifespan.
WOODRUFF: Mark Warner of Virginia, taxes.
TODD: Taxes, now that's a situation that if he ever got the nomination then he would probably be in bigger trouble. Not as much of a problem in a primary -- being in a Democratic primary being a tax raiser.
WOODRUFF: What about Republicans?
TODD: Well, this week we have seen Mitt Romney get hit by Grover Norquist, he's the anti-tax activist. He's a watchdog over all these guys. He was upset that Mitt Romney was trying to get Massachusetts companies -- trying to watchdog Massachusetts companies that were trying to evade some of the state tax loopholes and pay taxes in other places to save some money because Massachusetts has higher taxes. Norquist got mad at him, Romney backed off, because Romney knows in a Republican primary Norquist is very effective and could really hurt these guys.
Another one to keep an eye on, Mike Huckabee. He's a potential -- the governor of Arkansas. He's been fighting conservatives in his own state on immigration stuff. He supports a bill that would allow illegal aliens that graduate from Arkansas high schools to be eligible for in-state tuition. That's something that conservatives are very upset about, believe that some state benefits shouldn't be applied to illegal aliens. And that's a big divide inside the Republican Party.
WOODRUFF: Well, this is something I know we're going to be coming back to because we're going to be talking about these men and what they are up to.
TODD: Over and over. It's worth watching now.
WOODRUFF: In the weeks to come.
WOODRUFF: OK. Chuck Todd, thanks very much. The Hotline, an insider's political briefing, produced daily by The National Journal. And you can go online to nationaljournal.com for subscription information (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
The Ten Commandments under review at the U.S. Supreme Court. Coming up, do religious monuments have a place on government ground? Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile will deliver their own verdicts.
WOODRUFF: With me now Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Thank you both. Good to see you. All right. Let's talk about what is before the Supreme Court today. The Ten Commandments monument. Two states that are looking at whether this infringes on the Constitution in some way. It's a statement of religion.
Donna, we have seen a poll that shows 56 percent of Americans think it's appropriate to put this sort of a monument on state capitol grounds.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's because most Americans see the Ten Commandments in their lives. They see these monuments all over the place. But Judy, I think this is an issue of religious liberty. Some people will like it. Some people will dislike it. Some people believe that we should allow these government institutions to be free of any kind of religion, any kind of religion interference. So it's the spiritual foundation of our country, but I don't believe it has a place in every governmental institution.
BAY BUCHANAN, PRES., AMERICAN CAUSE: We're talking here Ten Commandments. And by the way, 76 percent of Americans do believe we should have it in public places. It's a historical document...
WOODRUFF: In Texas the poll said...
BUCHANAN: It's just Texas because nationally a recent poll shows 76. And the key here is it's a historical document, the basis of American jurisprudence. And in addition to that, it's who we are, Judy. It's part of our culture. It's the fabric of our society that we are a Judeo-Christian people. And this is something that played a major role in the founding of this nation. And so it is appropriately on...
BRAZILE: But Bay, but Roy Moore is even concerned that what version of the Ten Commandments? Are we going to use the Catholic version, the Lutheran version, the Jewish version, what version? I mean, are we going to refer to God? Are we going to just make a generic?
I mean, look, this is a big issue. And we can't just -- I mean, people, look, everyone loves God, at least most people do. But we shouldn't impose our religious views on people who have no religion.
BUCHANAN: Donna, these are in parks now. We have thousands of them across this country and on government property...
BRAZILE: I agree.
BUCHANAN: ... and on government buildings. And nobody had a problem except this homeless person found himself a lawyer and then they went and filed a suit.
WOODRUFF: Different subject. Massachusetts Congressman Marty Meehan today came out and said that the administration should completely pull back this don't ask, don't tell policy. He said it is has cost almost 10,000 people, caused them to leave the military over the last 10 years at a time when the U.S. needs good people in the military. Is this a policy that should continue or not?
BRAZILE: We should lift -- Marty Meehan has introduced a very important bill, military readiness. What he's saying is that we've lost 10,000 Americans who are willing to serve their country, 800 specialists, including linguists, people who spoke Arabic who could really help us in the war on terror. Al Qaeda is not looking for gays or lesbians. They are looking for Americans. And if these Americans are willing to fight in the war on terror, then let them serve.
BUCHANAN: But let's understand really why these people ended up leaving the military. The military has laws and regulations. It's different than the civilians. And those people who join the military take an obligation and they have a responsibility to live by those rules. These individuals broke the rules that they said they would live by. They broke them. They do not have the discipline to be the kind of soldiers we need. That is why they were thrown out of the military.
BRAZILE: Well, we talk about rules breaking, and I'm sure there are a whole bunch of straight people who would be thrown out for similar rules.
BUCHANAN: They should be. They break the rules they should be thrown out.
BRAZILE: This is about military readiness. And we need talented people regardless of the sexual orientation who are willing to serve our country at a time of war.
WOODRUFF: Very quickly, decency standards that now apply to broadcasting television. Should those be expanded to cable television?
BRAZILE: You know Bay doesn't watch that smut on TV. So I should be the expert on this.
BRAZILE: Absolutely not. Look, we have a lot of smut. It's a lot of bad trash on TV. And I agree there's a lot of trash. But people pay for these services. This is a First Amendment issue. I don't believe that we should extend it from the broadcast to the cable channels.
BUCHANAN: Senator Stevens says there's no problem at all. And he'll take this right to the Supreme Court. It should be spread even. First of all, it should be fair. Broadcasters, cable should have the same rules. We have a right to decency standards and indecent material, obscene material does not have a constitutional right.
BRAZILE: The cable companies have control over those channels. And they have given parents more control. Turn it off, Bay, just turn it off.
BUCHANAN: To get CNN, the basic CNN...
BRAZILE: At least stay for "Sex and the City."
BUCHANAN: ... I have to get that other stuff along with it.
BRAZILE: And I pay for CNN and "Sex and the City."
BUCHANAN: It comes with it. I can't get rid of one without the other. Where else would I hear my news?
WOODRUFF: And there's nothing indecent about this conversation. All right, I was waiting to say that. Bay, Donna, thank you both very much.
Well, this is proving to be quite day for the baseball fan in chief. Up next, a report from the White House on today's tribute to the legend who broke baseball's racial barrier.
WOODRUFF: Well, President Bush had not one but two opportunities today to show his love of America's favorite pastime: saluting a player from the past and the current World Series champ. Let's check in with our senior White House correspondent and Red Sox fan John King.
John, I know you didn't go up for any autographs, right?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right here to talk to you, Judy. No autographs, but in my eight days here at the White House, I would say this is the most important day here, from a sports perspective, anyway. The World Champion Boston Red Sox just finishing up a visit here to the White House. Some members of the team were at the White House stake-out a few moments ago. It's a place where we often see senators and governors out taking questions.
Here you see the president getting his jersey. Bush 43 from Curt Schilling, the star pitcher of the Boston Red Sox. Also one of the players who went out on the campaign trail this past campaign to campaign for the president in the campaign.
Now as the president celebrated the Red Sox championship here today, this was one of the examples of where sometimes sports and politics go hand in hand. Vice President Cheney getting his jersey. He's hoping -- he's a Cubs fan. He's hoping his Cubs this year have the success the Red Sox had last year. Eighty-six years since the Red Sox last one the World Series. They are being celebrated here at the White House today.
And among those on hand, the Democrat from Massachusetts who opposed the president in the last campaign, you can even see the back of his head there as the president shakes hands. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts arriving for the ceremony as Mr. Bush was speaking. And the president took notice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Senator, welcome, good to see you. The only time -- I like to see Senator Kerry except when we're fixing to debate.
BUSH: You know what I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mr. Bush, of course, an amazing baseball fan. He saw Senator Kerry earlier in the day. And you see the handshake there on Capitol Hill, a ceremony posthumously honoring Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger who broke the color barrier in baseball. The first African-American to play in the Major Leagues getting posthumously, again, the Congressional Gold Medal earlier today on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Bush, of course, the former owner of the Texas Rangers, the majority partner, a huge baseball fan, so enjoying his day very much, Judy. There are a lot of policy issues to deal with at home and abroad. But a bit of celebration and relaxation for the president for a little bit of today.
WOODRUFF: Our Red Sox fan in chief at the White House, John King. And a little bit of hog heaven over there.
KING: A little bit.
WOODRUFF: John, thanks very much.
We notice the president said, it took a lot of guts and it took a lot of hair for the Red Sox to win. Well, that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff on this Wednesday. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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