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Governor's Travels; Retirement Plans; First Lady Pitches Youth Initiatives; College Caters to Home-Schoolers

Aired March 7, 2005 - 15:29   ET


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: As you know, I don't need to take any money from anybody. I have plenty of money myself.

ANNOUNCER: So why is the California governor fund-raising in New York? Is Arnold Schwarzenegger flip-flopping on the issues?

Should the retirement age rise to 68? That's part of a new plan out today to save Social Security.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: We need to begin the process of defining ideas. Defining ideas to forge the best, most responsible policy for the future.

ANNOUNCER: We'll talk with the top Senate Republican about the fight over reform.

He's an outspoken arms control expert who rarely tempers his views. Now the president wants him as our ambassador to the U.N. Will John Bolton ruffle feathers at the world body?

JOHN BOLTON, NOMINATED AS U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: As you know, I have over the years written critically about the U.N.



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

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attends a Republican Party fund-raiser in New York just a few hours from now. It is the second stop on a cross-country trip that will also bring him here to Washington as he tries to raise money for what he calls his reform agenda.

That agenda marks a change in the way the governor has done business. And it has political opponents fuming back home.

Our Bill Schneider is in Los Angeles.


SCHWARZENEGGER: As you know, I don't need to take any money from anybody. I have plenty of money myself.

I solemnly swear...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Governor Schwarzenegger.


Governor Schwarzenegger is raising money in New York and Washington. His goal? A cool $50 million for his ballot initiative campaigns. The governator has become the reforminator.

SCHWARZENEGGER: We all know that this town is run, as I said during my state of the state, by special interests. But we're going to change all that. We're going to change that with the redistricting, we're going to change that by redoing the whole budget system, we're going to change that by redoing the pension plan system, and also education. We're going to change all that.

SCHNEIDER: An ambitious agenda. Too ambitious says this former Democratic ally.

DARRY SRAGOW, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: And he's just picked too many fights. And he needs to pick fewer fights, and he needs to not pick fights.

SCHNEIDER: Californians see a dramatic shift in Governor Schwarzenegger's strategy. During act one, his first year as governor, Schwarzenegger was a deal maker. He focused on one goal at a time. He built broad coalitions.

Now, it's act two. And Schwarzenegger has become more combative. He's picked fights with nurses, teachers, government workers, labeling them all "special interests." He's mocked legislatures as girlie men and losers.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Those girlie men up there in Sacramento...

The legislators are providing comedians with great new material instead of tackling the major problems affecting our state.

SCHNEIDER: The governor has shifted from consensus to conflict. He's counting on one key ally, the people.

SCHWARZENEGGER: And it will be the governor with his partners, the people of California, against the legislators.

SCHNEIDER: It's a high-risk strategy. Schwarzenegger is already bleeding Democratic support. By picking fights with so many groups, including sympathetic groups like teachers and nurses, he risks creating a broad coalition against him. Could it be a negotiating tactic? Maybe act three will be another deal.

SRAGOW: The speculation in Sacramento certainly is nonstop. Where people get together over a cup of coffee is, what's changed? I don't think anybody knows, but if there's one thing I'm confident of, it's that he's very pragmatic and he's moderate. And he can just sort of pull back and switch directions here. I mean, this may be all very deliberate.


SCHNEIDER: Schwarzenegger comes out of Hollywood, where the highest art is the art of the deal. And to get the best deal, sometimes you have to be conciliatory and sometimes you to be confrontational. Ask any agent -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So Bill, these items that Schwarzenegger wants on the agenda in the special election, how important are they to Schwarzenegger and any hopes he has for getting re-elected?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they are certainly important to him. One wonders how important they are to the voters, things like redistricting, which is not a high priority. They are important to him, but the most important thing as far as the voters are concerned is education.

And he's angered a lot of people in the education community because they accused him of reneging on the deal he made with them last year. They say he hasn't given them $2 billion that he promised them. So that's going to be a very, very important test.

WOODRUFF: OK. Bill Schneider joining us from L.A. Thank you, Bill.

And one more note on Governor Schwarzenegger's travel. During a weekend stop at a bodybuilding competition that bears his name, Schwarzenegger was asked to explain why he says he does not regret his past use of steroids. The governor said at the time he used steroids they were new and they were not illegal. He said now their harmful effects are now known, they are illegal, and they should be eliminated from bodybuilding competition.

On a different health note, the governor said he supports a proposed ban on the sale of junk food in California's schools.

Well, turning now to the Social Security debate, the White House has said it welcomes all ideas on how to reform the program. And today, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel weighed in.

In a speech in his home state of Nebraska, Hagel explained the details of his plan first reported on this program last week by CNN's Ed Henry. Hagel called for raising the retirement age to 68 and reducing the level of benefits for people who retire early.

He would keep the current system in place for people who are 45 and older. But workers 44 and under would have the option of diverting 4 percent of their pay that would go to Social Security into private retirement accounts. Hagel said the system can be fixed and now is the time to act.


HAGEL: Dealing with this problem now means less dramatic and difficult choices later. The earlier we confront the reality of the coming crisis, the more options we will have to come up with a wise and sustainable course of action.


WOODRUFF: And a reminder. I'll talk with Senator Chuck Hagel about his Social Security plan and other issues tomorrow right here on INSIDE POLITICS.

Well, Senator Hagel's Republican colleague, Charles Grassley of Iowa, is a very influential voice in the Social Security debate. He's the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the committee where any Social Security reform bill would originate. Senator Grassley joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Senator, good to see you.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, I'm glad to be with you.

WOODRUFF: First of all, what about Senator Hagel's proposal to raise the retirement age to 68? What do you think?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think that that's one of those issues that very definitely has to be on the table. But that issue in and of itself only solves part of the solvency problem. So I think you put it along with some changing in the indexing formulas, the issue of raising the payroll tax, and a lot of other things.

Let's say there's 100 moving parts. I may be a little outrageous in saying that, but 100 moving parts. What 12 moving parts do you put together?

I think the best answer to your question is, does this lead us a step towards getting a bipartisan agreement? And I think the answer is yes. But this is strictly mathematical.

You know, if I laid 10 charts out here on the table of the problems of Social Security, no Democrat or Republican would disagree with them, that something needs to be done. And then you get to the issue of how to do them.

So what dozen parts to you put together to take care of the $10 to $12 trillion solvency problem that we have over the last -- over the next 75 years? And that's set by the trustees, the very same trustees that have told us for the last 25 years we're going to have a problem starting about now.

WOODRUFF: Senator, very quickly, you mentioned raising the payroll tax. Are you talking about the payroll tax rate or raising the cap, the wage cap on which Social Security tax...

GRASSLEY: Yes. I want to make it very clear that I'm not very much in favor of raising the cap. And I am talking about the cap. But I do believe, as an honest broker, as chairman of the committee, in order to get a bipartisan agreement, I can't come to the table and say certain things aren't on the table. Now, the Democrats think they can get away with saying there's certain things that aren't on the table by saying, for instance, personal accounts wouldn't be on the table.

WOODRUFF: Senator, the president is now reported to be considering ending the exemption that future state and local employees receive from paying Social Security taxes. They currently don't have to pay these taxes because they contribute to public pension plans. Is that something that should be on the table?

GRASSLEY: Yes, it should be. But I want to tell you that there's only a handful of states where that's the case. In my state of Iowa, state and local employees pay into Social Security.

WOODRUFF: Senator, another -- another thing about the timetable of all this. It was just about a week ago when you said you thought, and I'm quoting you now, you said you thought in another two or three weeks you would like to see some movement in the public opinion polls or you might have some question about the president's succeeding in selling his plan to the American people.

Are you still sticking with that timetable?

GRASSLEY: I'm sticking with it, but I'm giving the president yet a longer period of time to get the voice at the grassroots strong enough to come to Congress to move Congress along. And I do believe that that will happen.

On the other hand, the president has already made grade strides, because if you go back to last fall, Social Security was not on any citizen's chart of things that Congress ought to be dealing with. Because of the president's work, it's now listed as number one, two or three by the public at large in polls that is a problem Congress should be dealing with.

WOODRUFF: But you still have opposition, at least the polls I've seen, opposition to the private accounts.

GRASSLEY: Well, we sure do, because everybody was led to believe that that was going to be a solution to the solvency problem. And nobody really thought that, but that was all that was talked about.

And, of course, the Democrats have gotten a free ride out of this because they've concentrated on just the personal accounts and their opposition to it. And they've been able to avoid until I brought the issue up in the article that you quoted that -- that really who's concerned about the next 75 years?


GRASSLEY: You know, Grandpa Grassley, am I concerned about my granddaughter having Social Security? And we've got to focus on that, too.

WOODRUFF: Just to be very clear, senator, and quickly, to go by the timetable you were cited on a week ago, we would be now down to another week or two. So you said you're taking another look at that. How much time does the president have now? GRASSLEY: Well, it's going to take, you know, 60 days before it's going to -- if he's successful, it will show up in the polls so that we can move. But listen, I intend as chairman of this committee to make this an issue regardless of whether the president's successful because I haven't had a chance in 20 years with presidential help to have an opportunity to tackle this issue. And as Chuck Hagel said, it's better to tackle it now, at $600 billion cheaper this year, than next year.

WOODRUFF: So you're extending the timetable?

GRASSLEY: Well, I'm extending it from the standpoint of what I'm going to do on my own initiative. If I do it because of the president's initiative, you know, it's just a few weeks away.

WOODRUFF: OK. All right. Well, we're going to -- we'll keep looking at the calendar, Senator. Thank you very much.

GRASSLEY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And we appreciate you talking to us today.

GRASSLEY: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Helping those who need it the most. The president and the first lady make a stop in Pittsburgh to talk about helping teens overcome such dangers as drugs and gangs. We'll take their comments live in just a few minutes.

Plus, was it history in the making? A blogger sits in on today's White House briefing. So what's he saying about his experience? Find out next when we go "Inside the Blogs."


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kitty Pilgrim with "The Dobbs Report."

We have very small gains on Wall Street. That's pushing the Dow close to the 11000 level. Last time it hit 11000, by the way, June 2001. We have about 15 minutes of trading left. The Dow industrials gaining just five points now. The Nasdaq 1 percent higher.

In corporate headlines, a private matter is dominating news at Boeing. The company's chief executive, Harry Stonecipher, was forced to resign after Boeing discovered he had an affair with a female co- worker. The 68-year-old will be immediately replaced by the company's chief financial officer.

Coming up 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS," should states or the federal government set standards for drivers' licenses for illegal aliens in broken borders? We address that.

Then, Georgia state Senator Chip Roberts talks about the massive influx of illegal immigrants into his state.

Plus, former White House spokesman Ari Fleisher on his new book about his years in the Clinton White House.

All that and more 6:00 p.m. But for now, back to Judy Woodruff.

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

Italy held a full state funeral today for one of its secret service agents who was shot to death by U.S. troops in Iraq. The agent had helped to free an Italian journalist kidnapped by insurgents.

The journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, was also wounded by the U.S. gunfire near the Baghdad airport. And her account of the ordeal is stirring anger in Italy. It is also getting a lot of attention from the bloggers here in the United States.

With me now to talk about this and other hot topics online, Jacki Schechner -- she's our blog reporter -- and CNN political producer Abbi Tatton.

Hi, Jacki.


You're absolutely right. The blogs are talking about exactly what the mainstream media is talking about today, Giuliana Sgrena. Lots of accusations and unanswered questions. It's a case of what she says versus the official U.S. position on what happened.

Over at The Moderate Voice -- it's a centrist blog -- an interesting roundup. Under the title of "Wounded Italian Journalist, Victim of Conspiracy or Polemicist," it talks about the news that people are linking to her story, other stories about the incident.

I know it's sort of hard to follow when I scroll down. But I wanted to show you, there is a round up towards the bottom of what a lot of the blogs are saying. And it's got an inclusion of American Blog, Michelle Malkin, Baldylocks (ph) -- I'm sorry -- Little Green Footballs, lots of sites and how they're weighing in, lots of different discussions and arguments on what they think happened.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Right. Lots of different points in the story that people are focusing on.

Here at This Modern World, this is Tom Tomorrow. He is a left- wing columnist and cartoonist. He's talking be about what he sees is the real issue, which is that, "American troops have authority to fire whenever they have reason to believe that they're under attack makes the following point: as was the case in Vietnam, our troops often cannot tell friend from foe, which puts them in an untenable situation and gets a lot of innocent people killed."

SCHECHNER: The same issue being brought up over at He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. He says he's been training Iraq-bound units on how to run traffic control points. And the quote here is, "The TCP" -- traffic control point -- "is a delicate balance between protection of the soldiers manning it and protecting the innocent people who come through it."

TATTON: On to another story, something we wanted to update you on, is one blog's attempt to secure access to the White House briefing room. We talked about this last week.

Garrett Graff, he's with Fish Bowl DC, which is a gossip site, a media blog site here in Washington, he was trying to find out if he could get a day pass into the White House. This was after Jeff Gannon, you'll remember, managed to secure such a White House day pass for almost two years.

Well, he was having a pretty hard time of it last week. Look at this.

"Day one: rejected." By Thursday or Friday, when it started to get a little bit of coverage, he had more success. And by now, by today, he managed to blog from inside the White House. Seems to think that he's the first one doing this.

SCHECHNER: A lot of sites seems to think he's the first one. I think there will probably be a call to find out whether or not he is.

TATTON: Right. Garrett seems a little bit underwhelmed by the entire experience. He said, "We'd been warned by a regular correspondent over the weekend that the zoo of the briefing would likely leave us knowing less and being more confused than when we went in. Having sat through it now, we have to agree."

Now, bloggers left and right seem to be quite happy that one of their own managed to get into the White House. But Instapundit here does make the point of Garrett's background working for Howard Dean. And the fact that he made this point has angered some of the bloggers on the left here. You can click through to see that some people weren't too happy about Instapundit's comments.

SCHECHNER: But the main lessons not lost on most of the blogosphere -- and this is my favorite blog name of the day, Granny Insanity, out on the edge in Montana, the two points -- and they reference Jay Rosen, the journalism professor at NYU -- one being that it is harder to get into the White House than we would have initially assumed. And then, two, that this now expands the definition of what constitutes the press. So interesting points it raises by this.

Also, over at Secure Liberty, a funny little quote that we had here. "The only reason I can see that more bloggers haven't tried this is that most of us have jobs preventing us from hanging around the White House press room."

TATTON: Now, one Washington story that made the blogs today, this is that President Bush will nominate Undersecretary of State John Bolton to the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Now, the liberal blogs picked up on this quickly, suggesting that maybe he's not the best candidate. Here at Think Progress, this is the blogging arm of the Center for American Progress which is a liberal site, pointing out some of the things that John Bolton has said in the past about the United Nations. In 1994, he said, "There is no such thing as the United Nations." He goes on to say, "If the U.N. Security Building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

SCHECHNER: Over at The Corner, it's "Re: Bolton." They say, "That's excellent news, but get ready for a heck of a confirmation fight."

And Judy, I know you'll get a kick out of this one. "Just incase people were confused," under the title, "I know what you're thinking," it is actually John Bolton and not Michael Bolton. I know the hair can trip you up sometimes."

WOODRUFF: Well, we've even heard of the other Bolton. Thank you both.

And just -- and I just want to let you know that our producers let me know that we've learned that blogger Garrett -- what is his last name?


WOODRUFF: Has been invited to meet with Mark McClellan -- Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary. So I guess more to come about that.

SCHECHNER: Making history.

WOODRUFF: All right. Thank you, both.

TATTON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Abbi, Jacki, thank you.

Meantime, we are still awaiting President and Mrs. Bush in Pittsburgh. We're going to bring their comments to you live as soon as that event gets under way. Stay with us.


WOODRUFF: Still waiting for a live event involving the president and Mrs. Bush in Pittsburgh. They're going to be speaking about a new initiative aimed at America's youth. They're going to be visiting the Pittsburgh north side's Providence Family Support Center and Community College of Allegheny County.

These are some pictures earlier of the president and the first lady arriving in Pittsburgh this afternoon. And we are going to be going to that event just as soon as it gets under way.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. We are watching an event at this hour in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First lady Laura Bush on the road with the president, for a change. They are unveiling a new initiative for at-risk youth.

Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the goal we all want, and that's for America to be the most hopeful country in the world for every single citizen, and that's really what we're hear to talk about.


I said that's what we're hear to talk about. The truth of the matter is, I'm the introducer.




It's not the first time people have cheered when I said, I'm the introducer and Laura is the speaker.


I do want to thank Senator Arlen Specter for joining us today.and I appreciate him coming here. He's always telling me what to do, and I'm telling him what to do since it's my airplane. I'm proud of Congressman Tim Murphy. It's go to see you, Murph. Thank you for coming. Congresswoman Melissa Hart, thank you for being here.

It's always good to see Bishop Donald Wuerl. Gosh, I think I've been with the bishop, three or four, maybe five times. Every time I'm with him, he talks about education. He loves education. And it's you know, one of the things, when you talk about a hopeful America, it's important to always keep in mind the cornerstone of a hopeful America, the foundation of a hopeful America, is an education system which makes sure every single child can read, write and add and subtract. It's the beginnings of what a hopeful America is about.

And I appreciate, Bishop, your leadership when it comes to the Catholic education system here in Pittsburgh. It's a model of excellence. It is -- some day, I hope that we're able to further the ability for parents to escape failure and go to any school they choose or send their children to any school they choose.

Speaking about organizations that work, I appreciate the Community College for Allegheny County for one, lending us the facility, and two, providing an education that is affordable and flexible and market-driven. I want to thank Paul Whitehead and Brian Johnson for being good hosts. You know, the community college system is a vital part of making sure people are able to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Community colleges are able to adjust their curriculum to the needs of the local employer base.

And if somebody needs nurses, they come to a community college system and help us, they say -- help design a curriculum so we can train nurses. They need computer technology people. I mean, the community college system is vital and important. Melissa happens to be a board of this community college system. And this administration will continue to support our community colleges to make sure people have the skills necessary to fill the jobs which are being created in America, the jobs of the 21st century. So thank you for letting us come today.

And now it's my honor to introduce Laura. She and I share a passion that we've got to make sure that the great strength of our country, that is, the hearts and souls of our citizens, are directed in such a way that every child can be saved. That's what we want. And we're worried, we're worried about gangs, we're worried about drugs, we're worried about bad choices. But we also know that if we can, in our small way, encourage people to put their arm around somebody and say, I love you, what can I do to help you? If we can encourage people to step forward and to volunteer their time and talent and compassion, this country can be a better place. It's one of the big initiatives that she will be leading on behalf of my administration.

The country's had to utilize the assets at our disposal to make sure every single child, every single person, has a bright and hopeful future. You know, De Tocqueville years ago wrote about America. In 1832, he wrote about the great capacity of our country to have people who cared about their country to be able to associate in a voluntary way to transcend individualism. In other words, what he was really saying is America's a unique place for people to come together to cause greater than themselves.

It's for people to come together to serve a cause greater than themselves. I think the patriotism of the 21st century is -- can be found when somebody goes to the center we just came from, to volunteer his or her time and says to a child, I love you. What can I do to help you to realize your dream? Laura is here to talk about that on behalf of our country. I'm proud of her as the first lady, I love her dearly as my wife. She's a fabulous mother. Laura Bush.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Thank you all so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all. Thanks so much. Thanks. Have a seat. It's an honor to be introduced by the president of the United States, and this is a real role reversal. I've listened to a million of his speeches. Now, he's going to get to listen to one of mine.

I wanted to thank everyone here. Thank you all very much for coming out here to the Community College of Allegheny Country and welcoming us. Monseigneur William Kerr (ph), Sister Maria Fast (ph) and Trish Donshoward (ph), thank you all very, very much for being here with us. And thanks to the men and women of the Providence Family Support Center, who just showed us their work.

We dropped in on two programs, a great after-school program for children in the kindergarten through fifth grade, and then another program for teenagers. The teen program is new. It was started in January because the staff recognized that teenagers in their community needed a place to go after school. And they needed adults who could help them learn how to make the right choices in their lives. Identifying the community's needs and taking action to meet those needs is at the heart of helping America's youth.

President Bush asked me to lead this new effort, and when he did I eagerly accepted. For years, I've worked in schools, or I visited schools and after-school programs that helped children who might be at greater risk of getting in trouble. These programs are changing young people's lives for the better. And children and parents need to know where they can get help.

Some trends among youth are heading in the right direction, but others are not. Risky behaviors, including illegal drug use, alcohol and tobacco use, violence and early sexual activity are still among the top causes of disease and early death among young people. In addition, more children in America are growing up without fathers in their lives. And studies show that an overwhelming number of violent criminals in the United States are males who grew up without a father.

Helping America's Youth will help children and teenagers by emphasizing three key areas: family, school and community. The initiative highlights the importance in every child's life of a loving, caring adult. Whether that's a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a coach, a mentor or a pastor. Helping America's Youth is an umbrella initiative that incorporates several federal programs that already exist or that have been proposed in the president's budget.

This fall, we will convene a White House summit on Helping America's Youth. Researchers, policy experts, educators, parents and community leaders will discuss the best way to help children avoid risky behaviors and build successful lives. Researchers will identify the causes of many, many problems that our children will face and the best and most effective plans to overcome those problems. Community groups, including faith-based groups, will tell us what's working in the field.

The conference will introduce a new assessment tool that will allow communities across the country to identify the challenges that they face and the services that they already have that address these challenges and where their gaps are. Communities can then build off existing government programs, as well as volunteer, faith-based or community programs to create seamless efforts to help their local children.

Over the past month, since George announced the Helping America's Youth initiative, I visited several cities to find out what difficulties today's children are facing and who is there to support them. Innovative ideas and community spirit are producing great programs all over the country.

A program called Think Detroit teaches children life lessons through sports. Today in Detroit, more than 650 coaches volunteer their time to mentor thousands of young children while they coach them in sports. In northeast Philadelphia, I visited a Boys and Girls Club that has a Passport to Manhood program. Statistics show that boys are having an especially tough time growing up. They're more likely to fall behind girls in schools. Fewer boys than women -- fewer men than woman are graduating from college and with Masters degrees. And boys, on an average, are more likely to join gangs, commit crimes and end up in prison.

In the Passport to Manhood program, boys ages 8 to 16 meet with a group leader to talk about the characteristics men should have and the character traits they want to develop in themselves. These young men in these discussions see an ideal of manhood that respects life and women and rejects violence. The programs in Detroit and Philadelphia are successful because adults are using sports and games and communication to give young people positive messages about education and character.

These adults serve as a counterbalance to negative peer pressure. They serve as a safe harbor in a place of violence or the inspiration to keep working toward goals, like graduating from high school and enrolling in college. Research shows that the more children and youth hear these positive messages from adults, the less likely they are to engage in risky behavior.

Parents and family are the first and most important influence in every child's life. But we all know, there's no direction book that comes with a baby. Plenty of parents need help. And organizations like the Providence Family Support Center that we just visited are providing it. Providence offers parenting classes for moms and dads, as well as help finding a job or learning how to keep a budget. Parents can take advantage of lessons in anger management and they can participate in home visits to improve their parenting skills.

Helping America's youth includes two proposed federal programs to strengthen marriages and help families: a responsible fatherhood initiative would support community and faith-based organizations to provide education, training and other services to help fathers stay involved emotionally and financially in their children's lives.


And the healthy marriage initiative would support research into the best ways to keep marriages strong, and provide funding for community groups that help couples establish stable marriages.

Schools are the second major influence in a child's life. The No Child Left Behind Act ushered in a new era in education. Now, we ask schools to show us that every child is learning. That means every child, of every race, in every type of school, from every kind of family. Our nation will need 2 million new teachers over the next decade to achieve this goal. And we need to recruit more men and minorities to the teaching profession, men who will be good role models for the boys in their classrooms.

The Community College of Allegheny County is helping by providing training for teachers with a focus on teaching in urban areas. We need excellent reading teachers. Reading is the most important skill children learn and all of the rest of their school work depends on their ability to read. Evidence shows that if students haven't learned to read on grade level by the third grade, the odds against them catching up are not great. And the student who makes it to high school without sound reading skills are at greater risk of dropping out. New research in education gives us a better understanding of how people in different stages in life -- young children, teenagers and adults -- respond to different teaching methods.

Part of the Helping America's Youth Program is the Striving Readers Program. Striving Readers assist states and school districts implement research-based reading programs for students in the upper grades. As more middle schools and high schools use these reading programs that are proven to work, more students will improve their reading skills and stay in school and be prepared for life after graduation.

Last year, Striving Readers started with $25 million in funding. For 2006, the president has requested $200 million to help make sure students in every grade learn to read.


And our communities are the third main influence in a child's life. Parents and schools rely on other adults in our communities to reinforce positive messages and to help children fill their time with constructive activities.

More than 14 million school-age children take care of themselves after school. And the hours between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. are peak hours for juvenile crime.

After-school programs, like the one we just visited at Providence Family Support Center, can keep children safe and improve their academic performance. James Moorefield (ph) is a single dad who needed help in raising his 9-year-old son Drew (ph). James and Drew are here today with us. I don't see them, OK, but they are here. Maybe they'll stand in a minute. There they are.


Drew has attended the after-school program and the summer camp at Providence since 2001. James said being able to leave Drew in a supportive and educational environment gives him peace of mind while he can go to work.

Albert Conasella (ph) is 15 years old and by all accounts a great football player. His high school, Central Catholic, puts an emphasis on community involvement. So Albert has been spending time at Providence as a tutor and a mentor to the younger boys in the after- school program. The boys at Providence have really taken to Albert because he's still young enough to be cool.


Is Albert here? There's Albert. (APPLAUSE)

Albert sets a great example for how these young boys should behave as they grow older. President Bush has called on all Americans to engage in 4,000 hours of community service throughout their lives. Studies show that there are 15 million children in America who are searching for a role model or a mentor. Surely, there are 15 million caring adults who can help fill that need.

People who don't know where to get started can look at the USA Freedom Corps Web site, The site contains the largest online clearing house of volunteer opportunities ever created.

The USA Freedom Corps and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives support neighborhood groups and volunteer organizations that are helping families through drug treatment, mentoring, abstinence education and many other services. Many of the community leaders here today have worked with USA Freedom Corps and the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, because both offices are useful for recruiting volunteers and expanding the reach of such organizations. The success of helping America's youth depends on organizations like these and on the individual commitment of every American.

The time between childhood and adulthood is too short, as George and I can attest. And every moment in a child's life is precious. After my visit to Think Detroit, a newspaper reporter asked one of the little boys that I met what he thought of my visit. And I was moved when I read that he simply said, I wish she could stay here.


Children want us in their lives, and they need us in their lives. And as I've learned from the remarkable men and women I've met around our country, each of us has the power to make the difference in the life of a child.

Thank you all very, very much for your efforts to help America's youth. Thanks for being here today. Thank you all.


WOODRUFF: First lady Laura Bush in what she herself described as quite a role reversal. She said, I've listened to thousands of my husband's speeches, now he's going to listen to one of mine. This is the first lady's -- one of her major projects, the second term of the Bush administration, the first lady talking about a program to help America's youth, promoting reading for children, promoting contacts so that there is an adult in the life of every child, trying to move children away from opportunities to get involved in drugs and alcohol and gangs and other negative influences.

The president introduced his wife by saying that she and I are both passionate about this. They are speaking, and you can see them now talking to people in the crowd, shaking hands at this community center in Pittsburgh. Moving on now, it is a school on a mission.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Christianity has a role to play in the world. I think Christians do. I think they don't need to be afraid.


WOODRUFF: Coming up next, we'll pay a visit to a college campus where today's home-schooled evangelicals are groomed to be tomorrow's political and cultural leaders of the right.


WOODRUFF: A new college, Patrick Henry College, in Virginia, is the only college in the United States where most of the student body has been home-schooled. And it has a specific mission, to shape home- schooled evangelicals into political and cultural leaders.

So far it is a mission that seems to be succeeding.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): Chris Tuggle walks briskly in the bitter cold, across the windswept quad, past the frozen lake and into faith's warm embrace. Here, in chapel, the students of Patrick Henry College begin each day affirming their closest bond.

The nearly 300 students at Patrick Henry share another experience, 90 percent were home-schooled by evangelical parents. Chris grew up in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, taught by his mother from first grade through high school.

CHRIS TUGGLE, PATRICK HENRY STUDENT: It's becoming much more accepted today. At that time it was -- some would see it as avant garde, some would see it as simply weird.

WOODRUFF: Mike Farris, a pioneer in the Christian home-schooling movement, founded Patrick Henry just five years ago with an unabashedly political goal to groom the conservative leaders of tomorrow.

Here where each class begins with a prayer, John Ashcroft's wife serves on the board of trustees. Recent graduates work on Capitol Hill, in the White House and in policy thinktanks. The students have a real change-the-world mentality, which Mike Ferris says comes naturally.

MIKE FARRIS, FOUNDER, PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE: People were prosecuting home-schoolers very vigorously in the early '80s and on into the early 1990s depending on where you lived. And just to home- school you had to stand up for your rights. You had to get involved, you had to go the state legislature. And you had to go to court. And you had to do all these things. WOODRUFF: Chris has worked on six political campaigns, but he's not trying to make a career out of. His interests, international law and human rights. Religion, he says, is his guide.

TUGGLE: I believe in Christianity like I believe in the sun. Not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.

WOODRUFF: Patrick Henry College defines leadership broadly. Washington isn't the center of gravity.

MICHAEL HOLCOMB, PATRICK HENRY STUDENT: I'm interested in going into Hollywood, perhaps. And just for producing moral films, there's so many films out there where maybe they're entertaining, but they're actually teaching our kids bad morals.

WOODRUFF: Students here have to pledge to a series of theological principles and sign a moral code forswearing everything from cigarettes to alcohol to premarital sex. A tall order for your average college crowd.

We can take ownership of what we have and what we do.

ANGELA CHRISTENSON, PATRICK HENRY STUDENT: But all the rules were street (ph) initiated. And we can take ownership of what we have and what we do.

WOODRUFF: Reason is nothing new to April Quarto. What is, the classroom environment, the open exchange of ideas with her peers.

APRIL QUARTO, PATRICK HENRY STUDENT: It has made me come out of my shell, so to speak, and be able to debate and hash out issues.

NATHAN POE, PATRICK HENRY STUDENT: I come from the West Coast, San Diego. It's a pretty loose place.

WOODRUFF: Here, says Nathan Poe, he's learned to bolster his faith with reason.

POE: We can't just be pig-headed Christians who -- fundamentalist Christians who just say, well, this is the way it, this is what the Bible says. And I'm sticking to that and I'm got going to give you any other sort of support for that.

WOODRUFF: The culture chorus, he says, needs his voice.

POE: I think Christianity has a role to play in the world. I think Christians do. I think they don't need to be afraid.

WOODRUFF: And at Patrick Henry College, they're not.


WOODRUFF: Pretty remarkable place, and we thank them for letting us come pay a visit. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: It's just before 4:30 Eastern. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS, I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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