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Congressional Battles Resume; Howard Dean's War of Words; Senator Hatch Interview; Begala and Holt Debate

Aired June 6, 2005 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: They're back and so are their battles. From the fight over judges to the brouhaha over John Bolton. We're live on Capitol Hill as we keep a close eye on those congressional clashes.

Howard Dean lashes out at Republicans.

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: A lot of them never made an honest living in their lives.

ANNOUNCER: But do Democrats agree with their party chairman's comments?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I think about it, I don't agree with it.

ANNOUNCER: It's the election that just won't end. But will today's court decision end seven months of fighting over who's really the governor in Washington state?

Mixing religion and politics deep in the heart of Texas.

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: We may be on the grounds of a Christian school today, but our message speaks to all who believe in standing up for the unborn.

ANNOUNCER: But did the Lonestar State's governor cross the line?

Now live from Washington, CNN's INSIDE POLITICS.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. I'm Candy Crowley. Starting today we are expanding the show to 90 minutes and there is lots of political news to cover this Monday, from here in Washington, down south to Texas and out west in Washington state.

We want to start on Capitol Hill, where members of the Senate returned to work and the unfinished business of presidential nominees. The president's picks for the federal bench and ambassador to the U.N. dominated discussion before members of Congress left town.

For an update on where things stand as they are coming back, we turn to who else but our congressional correspondent Ed Henry -- Ed.


That's right. Right back into the fire and the man feeling the heat, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He felt his authority questioned, challenged a bit last month when that filibuster deal went down. He was cut out of the loop. Then he lost a vote on the nomination, as you mentioned, of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

But Frist feels that this is being overblown. A little earlier today, he got on the Senate floor to say he feels like he's making progress on some of these nominations. In fact, just today in Texas, Priscilla Owen was sworn into her new seat on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This week also, Senator Frist expects swift confirmation for Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor, two of the other judges given political amnesty, if you will, in that filibuster deal.

Frist is also hoping to potentially bring the Bolton nomination back to the Senate floor this week. But at this point, there's no guarantee because it does not look like Frist has the 60 votes to break off a filibuster. But it's clear to both sides that, in fact, Frist would have 51 votes if he got a straight up or down vote. But that's why Republicans are demanding that Democrats stop the stalling.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: It will be up to the Democrats as to whether or not he's given a chance to have an up or down vote and if he gets one, he'll be confirmed.


HENRY: Now, Republicans say that they've already turned over some 800 pages of documents relating to the Bolton nomination and they don't feel they need to turn over more. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today, though, said it's not Democrats who are blocking the nomination, it's the president. He says President Bush has not turned over enough documents to give Democrats a chance to really delve into John Bolton's record.

Democrats say that they also feel that Republican leaders have spent way too much time on these divisive nominations, ranging from judicial nominees to John Bolton. They say that's sapping valuable time from other issues like healthcare pension security.

In fact, Harry Reid today held a press conference saying it's time to put these differences aside and work together with the president on issues like healthcare. But I asked the first question and asked Senator Reid about an interview he gave to "Rolling Stone" magazine just last week where it was noted that Harry Reid had already called the president a loser.

Harry Reid jumped in in that interview and said, in fact, he had also called the president a liar and Harry Reid noted in that interview that while he had apologized for calling the president a loser, he never apologized for calling him a liar. And I asked whether that could really help forge bipartisan compromise.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MINORITY LEADER: I know you hate to give up on that. I apologized for the loser, I haven't for the liar. But, you know, it looks like you, with all due respect to you, that maybe you could come up with something else.

HENRY: But do you think it's helpful to push forward...

REID: I've answered the question. I've answered the question.


HENRY: You see a rare bit of anger flashed there by the Senate Democrat leader. It's clear we've only been back for a few hours, but both sides are ready for a fight -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Well, I was going to ask you, Ed, about the atmospheres, but I actually think I don't have to ask you that. So let me move to the Supreme Court. All this talk about nominations. Nearly everybody thinks that sometime this year we're going to have an opening. Are there any preparations underway? This is a huge process, once it gets started with a resignation.

HENRY: Absolutely. And in fact, since there's an expectation on both sides, it is very possible, as you know, that Chief Justice William Rehnquist could step down. It's been rumored for a long time. It has not happened. But he's 80 years old now, battling cancer. A lot of court watchers think there could be a vacancy as early as this month.

And the reaction here on the Hill, the planning that's going on, is that Republican leaders are scurrying right now to try bring up the energy bill in the Senate next week. They want to deal with the highway bill. The bottom line is, they want to clear as much legislation as possible now, because they know these Bolton nominations, judicial nominations, that's child's play compared to what would happen if there was a Supreme Court nomination fight this summer.

And so they realize the rest of the president's agenda would come to a screeching halt. They want to clear as much business as possible now to be ready in case there is a Supreme Court nomination -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Ed Henry. Sounds like a long, hot summer up there. Thanks very much. From party debates to debates within a party, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean's latest verbal assault on Republicans has some Democrats carping. They say they worry Dean's blunt language, while craved by party activists, is crowding out the party's message for average Americans.

CNN's Bruce Morton has more.


DEAN: We're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and...

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Howard Dean's full-throated rhetoric hurt his presidential bid and some Democrats worry it limits his effectiveness as party chairman. The latest example on C-Span last week, while commenting on the hardship imposed on Americans who have to stand in long lines to vote.

DEAN: You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever and get home and then have a -- still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well, Republicans I guess can do that because a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives, but...

MORTON: Never made a honest living? That drew immediate criticism from Democratic Senator Joe Biden, speaking on ABC's "This Week."

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats. And -- but I wish that rhetoric would change.

MORTON: He's not alone. John Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential candidate, at a Tennessee fundraiser this past weekend.

JOHN EDWARDS, (D) FMR. VICE PRES. CANDIDATE: My own view is that the chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the Democratic party. There are a group of people who speak for our party nationally and he's a voice in that chorus, but he's only a voice. And, you know, speaking for me, I speak for myself.

MORTON: Actually, the chairman of the party that doesn't have the White House usually is something of the party spokesman, as Republican Haley Barbour, now governor of Mississippi was, during Democrat Bill Clinton's presidency. Dean later said he was referring to the Republican leadership, not ordinary Republicans. And he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer...

DEAN: Democrats are now going to speak for ourselves. We are going to tell the Americans what our message is. It's clean government, no more corruption in Washington. It's a Social Security system that works for people. It's a healthcare system that works for people, like all these other countries have. That's what the Democratic party's going to stand for.

MORTON (on camera): We'll see how successful his message is. The only thing party chairs do is raise money. Dean was very good at that as a presidential candidate, but during his first few months as chairman, the Republican National Committee has raised more money than the Democrats.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


CROWLEY: This is one of those stories we will not let go easily. We will have much more on Howard Dean's war of words coming up in the show.

The Supreme Court today struck a blow against using marijuana for medical reasons. In a 6-3 ruling, the court said federal authorities can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana, even if a doctor recommends it to ease pain. The ruling agreed with the Bush administration that state laws do not protect users from a federal ban on marijuana. Still, the ruling does not strike down laws in the 11 states which allow medicinal use of marijuana. The court was not asked to declare the state laws illegal.

In another court ruling, this one involving a long-running battle from the 2004 elections, a judge in Washington state today rejected a Republican bid to nullify the victory of Democrat governor Christine Gregoire.

CNN's Sean Callebs is standing in Wenatchee, Washington, with the latest -- Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. If you thought the presidential election from 2000 was long, well, this is a legal challenge that really began back in January after three recounts. Well, today the judge deciding that Democrat Christine Gregoire won the election fair and square over Republican challenger Dino Rossi.

Now, the Republicans started out this two-week trial by alleging fraud. Now, Judge John Bridges said that in the end, there was no fraud, no foul -- malfeasance, there was no misconduct, no stuffing the ballot box, no stealing of votes. Now, he said that any time the courts are asked to weigh in on an election, they should do so in a very tentative fashion.

Well, today's results had the Democrats standing by being a large certificate of the election with Christine Gregoire's name on it. Very pleased with the results. Now, Bridges did set the tone early on in this case, saying the Republican challengers would have to prove that Christine Gregoire received enough improper votes to prove a difference.


DALE FOREMAN, ATTORNEY FOR REPUBLICANS: We had to prove that the illegal votes went to Christine Gregoire and we couldn't prove that those illegal votes all went to Christine Gregoire.


CALLEBS: Now, more than 2.8 million votes were cast in last November's election. There were three recounts. Rossi won the first two by a count of 261 votes, then 49 votes. The third recount was done at a painstaking fashion, by hand. In that vote, Gregoire won by 129 votes. No one was arguing there were illegal votes in this statewide election. There were felons that voted that shouldn't have, deceased were listed as voting. In some cases, people voted twice.

Now, Republicans maintain that a lion's share of those illegal votes went to the Democrats, and they called in a GOP statistician and used a formula called proportional reduction. It's somewhat complex, but in essence, it breaks down like this: if there's a precinct where there is 10 illegal votes, and in that precinct, 60 percent of the people voted for Gregoire and 40 percent for Rossi, then six votes should be taken away from Gregoire, four from Rossi. In the end, the judge said, no way, that there was no scientific evidence that that formula would work.


JUDGE JOHN BRIDGE, CHELAN CTY. SUPERIOR COURT: An election such as this should not be overturned because one judge picks a number and applies a proportional reduction analysis. To do so within the context of the facts of this case would constitute the ultimate act of judicial egotism and judicial activism, which neither the voters for Mr. Rossi or for Ms. Gregoire should condone.


CALLEBS: Now, Gregoire has been pursuing her agenda as though she won by a landslide, to quote one journalist up in this area. Rossi -- what about his political future? He was deemed a GOP up-and- comer. Now, this is a state that has not had a Republican in the gubernatorial office since 1980. He is going to hold a news conference in a little more than four hours and talk about his plans. Many people expect he will appeal this to the state supreme court.

Now, in closing arguments, the judge was asked by attorneys to send a statement. Bridges, who really won over both sides in this, said he wasn't going to make a statement. But he did tell the voters they should stand up, because in his words, the election officials in this state showed selfishness, not caring about co-workers or the public and refused to be held accountable in this last election.


CROWLEY: Sean, let me ask you something. Politics is a little like real estate in that it's all about location, location. Why did they pick Wenatchee? I assume they could have filed this almost anywhere. Why did did they pick this place -- the Republicans pick this place to take their grievances?

CALLEBS: It's a good question. And really, this is a beautiful area -- orchard country, about 90 miles to the east of Seattle. But two reasons: One, they can file the case where they allege election fraud. Well, they didn't want to do that in King County, because, you know, that's overwhelmingly Democratic, and they probably would have ended up in front of a Democratic bench. The reason they did it here, they must file in an adjoining county, and believe it or not, this county does barely touch King County up in one corner. That's why they came all the way out here, hoping to find a judge who would side with them.

CROWLEY: Sounds like it was good news for you anyway. Thanks a lot, Sean Callebs. Appreciate it.

From a battle in Washington state, to battles back here in Washington, D.C. When we come back, I'll speak with a top Senate Republican about Congressional clashes, from the fight over John Bolton to the war over judges.

Also ahead, bacon, egg and cash. It wasn't just your average breakfast for Hillary Clinton this morning. We'll explain in our "Political Bytes."

Plus the race for '08. When a White House wanna-be heads to Iowa, New Hampshire or other key states, it gets our attention. We'll tell you who's going where.


CROWLEY: As we reported earlier, the Senate is back in session after taking a break from some contentious political fighting, much of it centered on President Bush's judicial nominees. Earlier, I spoke with Senator Orrin Hatch, who's on the Judiciary Committee. I began by asking him how his constituents feel about all the partisan battles that have been taking place.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, I can talk maybe not just for my Utah, but for people all over the country. They've been very concerned with the tremendous partisanship that's arisen over the years, especially with regard to judges. The average person doesn't talk much about judges, but they feel it. They know there's something wrong. They know that when these people don't even get a chance for a vote, especially once they come to the floor, that, you know, that there's something wrong with the system. And so, they're very upset about it, because they know how important one-third of the separated powers really is, and that's the judiciary.

CROWLEY: So, do you think this deal is going to hold? We're already hearing Democrats saying, well, you know, there's this big thing in there that says that we can -- when people are really egregious, that we can go ahead and filibuster. Isn't that a loophole they can pretty much drive any nominee through?

HATCH: Well, just the words "extraordinary circumstances," that has to be the biggest loophole ever done. But, you know, when you have Democrats who are willing to filibuster a Priscilla Owen, who has the highest rating from their own gold standard, the American Bar Association, who was the number one in her bar review, number one in her class at school, who is a terrific human being and a wonderful judge -- justice on the supreme court, when they find that they should filibuster her, you can imagine, they can justify filibustering anybody.

CROWLEY: Well, as you know, but both sides over the years have played this game, have obstructed when they didn't like a nominee or when they were trying to get at something else. Doesn't somebody somewhere, to meet this constituent dissatisfaction that you're talking about, have to call a truce and say, what can we get together on here, because it seems as though all that happens on the Hill is fighting. HATCH: Well, I'd like to do that. But, you know, it hasn't been equal in what's happened. This all started in these modern times with the smearing that some Democrats did of the chief justice now Justice Rehnquist. And then we got to Bork, which was an all-time low. And they even smeared, to a degree, Souter, who they thought was pro-life, and you can see how pro-life he is. The they -- the all-time low was, of course, Clarence Thomas. And that created a lot of upset with the Republicans.

And I have to say, there have been some things that both sides should be ashamed of, but nothing like what they've done. There's never been a series of filibusters of Circuit Court nominees like -- and there's never been a filibusters of a Circuit Court nominees until President Bush got in there. And frankly, only one thing you might call a filibuster, and that was the Fortas case. But in that case, there was almost an equal number of Democrats to Republicans who were opposed to him, and the leader of the fight said they would have defeated Fortas. So that's considerably different from leader-led filibusters that are just partisan. And that's caused a lot of problems.

Republicans have never done that to Democrats, even though I can point to some times when I was chairman of the committee when some Republicans just didn't want people to get through the committee and did everything they could to make it difficult. But it wasn't I. I tried to do everything I could to get Clinton's judges on the bench.

CROWLEY: Let me turn the corner to two issues. One I open you can answer with a one-word question, so I can move on to the other.

HATCH: Sure. Oh, okay.

CROWLEY: John Bolton, will he pass?

HATCH: Yes, he's going to pass. And he ought to pass. He's been confirmed five times by the Senate. There's no excuse for what they've done to him. And by the way, it's about time we have someone with candor and ability as our ambassador to the U.N. Look, that agency is on the precipice of not being as valid or important as it could be. I think Bolton can bring it back and could, I think, straighten out a lot of messes up there that would be very well done.

CROWLEY: Twenty seconds I've got left -- are you going to be able to get that stem cell research bill on Senate floor through Senator Frist?

HATCH: One way or the other we're going to get it on the floor because it has to be fought over and we'll pass it on the Senate floor. Now, we might even pass it with enough votes to overrule a presidential veto and I hope we can because it's a very, very important thing.

CROWLEY: Utah Senator Orrin Hatch out of Salt Lake City.

Just ahead, Senator Hillary Clinton is raising cash for her reelection campaign. We'll tell you about her breakfast fund raiser and check in on some other would-be White House candidates when we return.


CROWLEY: We want to check in on some potential 2008 White House candidates in our Monday edition of "Political Bytes."

New York Senator Hillary Clinton had breakfast with about 800 supporters this morning in what aides called the first big fund raiser of her 2006 reelection campaign. She already has about $8 million in cash-on-hand. Today's event was expected to raise about half a million dollars.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain is in Michigan where he's the guest speaker at tonight's Macomb County Lincoln Day Dinner. McCain has already been to Michigan once this year. He attended several fund raisers there in March.

And New Mexico's Democrat governor, Bill Richardson, heads north to New Hampshire this week. Richardson has several speeches and interviews planned including a Latino summit in Manchester, and a politics and eggs breakfast in Bedford.

And while a group of Iowa boosters meet with potential '08 candidates in Washington this week, Virginia governor Mike Warner is headed to Iowa. Warner is scheduled to co-host a town hall meeting tomorrow on education with Iowa's governor and fellow democrat, Tom Vilsack.

A political fight over church and state -- Did the governor of Texas cross the line when he signed a bill?

Coming up it's not what he signed, but where he signed it that's causing commotion.

Plus, he's now on the outside looking in, I'll talk with Tom Daschle, who used to be the top Democrat, about the new battles being fought in the Senate.


CROWLEY: The markets are getting ready to close on Wall Street, which means I am joined by Christine Romans in New York, with the DOBBS REPORT.



A little movement on Wall Street today, a quiet way to start the week. Right now the Dow Industrials are adding about 11 points and the NASDAQ is just slightly higher. One reason for that investor caution, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is set to speak about the economy tonight at an international conference.

Meanwhile, another big case of identity loss. This time, the biggest breach of customer or employee data reported so far. This time, Citigroup, the world's largest bank, reveals information on almost four million of its customers is missing. The data was all on computer tapes and was being shipped by UPS to a credit bureau in Texas. The lost information includes names, Social Security numbers, account history, loan information on customers of the company's Citifinancial division.

Washington Mutual is buying into the credit card business. It's paying nearly $6.5 billion for Providian Financial, a large credit card issuer. Providian has more than nine million credit card customers; WaMu has none. Until now it had concentrated on the mortgage business, but it's looking to branch out as the refinancing boom cools.

Apple is making a big change in what comes inside its Macintosh computers. It's dropping IBM technology and shifting to computer chips made by Intel. The company says all of its new Macs will be using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007.

Coming up CNN at 6 p.m. Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT a special report on "Exporting America," violence in the workplace is on the rise and some say outsourcing is a major factor.

DOUG KANE, RISK CONTROL STRATEGIES (video clip): We have seen a lot of companies being downsized for the last several years. As a result of that they are turning to offshoring and outsourcing a lot of their activities. As a result of that, some of the employees now are tasked with training their replacements which again creates somewhat of a hostile work environment.

ROMANS: Also tonight we'll look at alarming trends in global warming, which threaten many coastal regions. We'll take a look at what can be done to stop is it.

Also, we'll speak to the parents of a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy who was allegedly killed by an illegal aliens. They're telling us how they're fighting to protect others from a similar fate.

Plus the author of "Dying to Win" explains why he believes it's crucial that the United States tighten its border security immediately. That and more at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Candy, back to you.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Another jam-packed show from Lou Dobbs. Thanks a lot, Christine. And now back to INSIDE POLITICS.

Welcome back. The tensions surrounding religion and politics is as old as the republic itself, and that tension is always close to the surface on emotional issues such as abortion. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider reports the governor of Texas has opened a new chapter in an old debate by signing an abortion bill on church property.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN ANALYST: Texas Governor Rick Perry has created a furor. On Sunday he went to an evangelical Christian school to sign two measures, one on abortion and the other on same-sex marriage.

GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TX: Today we affirm these truths, as I sign that parental consent bill into law and we give the people of Texas the opportunity to define and defend marriage in our constitution.

SCHNEIDER: Critics say signing those measures on church property crosses the line. On one side of the line, it seems okay for politicians to campaign in churches. Republicans and Democrats do it all the time. Nor do you hear many complaints when President Bush promotes his policies at religious institutions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States ...

SCHNEIDER: But signing measures on church property is a different matter. It's not politics, it's government. In the view of one noted scholar of religion in public life, Governor Perry seems to be putting the church at the service of the state.

ALAN WOLFE, BOSTON COLLEGE: He's using religion, he's using religious people, genuine people of faith, to make a political statement, and I think that's wrong.

SCHNEIDER: Governor Perry says he does not believe he was violating any separation of church and state.

PERRY: We may be on the grounds of a Christian school today, but our message speaks to all who believe standing up for the unborn, all who cherish strong traditional families.

SCHNEIDER: But among some evangelicals there's some about linking politics and religion too closely. Last month President Bush gave a commencement speech at Calvin College, a small evangelical institution in Michigan. He encountered student and faculty protesters who were concerned that the president was links their religious views with his political views. "God is not a Republican or a Democrat" their buttons said.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): Perry is running for reelection next year and could face a challenge in the Republican primary from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson who is perceived to be more moderate on abortion than Perry. Last week the Perry campaign released a message that said, quote, "we want to completely fill this location with pro-family Christian friends who can celebrate with you. Candy?

CROWLEY: So, Bill, is there any unofficial or official line between what one can do in, you know, governance, that is, signing a law, or pushing a bill? I've seen many a president use schoolchildren as a backdrop for pushing some education thing. Is it only religion? Or is there some fine line out there that they're trying to find?

SCHNEIDER: Certainly there's a special sensitivity with respect to religion because of the separation between church and state. We've never heard of a separation between school and state, and in particular, when it involves a controversial issue like abortion or same-sex marriage, a lot of people would say that's the sort of issue on which you should not cross that line. If it's simply making a broad statement about "In God We Trust" or the role of faith in our public life, that's one thing, but a controversial issue that's something else.

CROWLEY: Bill Schneider, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Later in a new feature on INSIDE POLITICS, insiders Paul Begala and Terry Holt will discuss the day's latest topics, and that will include the actions by the Texas governor yesterday.

With lawmakers back in town at the Memorial Day recess, the bitter fight over John Bolton is set to resume. The Senate could vote this week on Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the UN. Democrats have blocked that vote twice, demanding White House information on whether Bolton tried to tamper with intelligence reports. Last week, President Bush showed no sign of backing down.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT (video clip): The Intelligence Committee reviewed the NSA intercept process and confirmed that Bolton did what was right. And so it's just a stalling tactic. I would hope when they get back that they stop stalling and give the man a vote. Just give him a simple up or down vote.

Joining us now with the latest on the Bolton dispute, White House correspondent Dana Bash. So, Dana, so there's two things out there. One, will the White House give up any papers, and two, do they think John Bolton is going to eventually get through the Senate?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the second one is yes, they definitely think he'll get through the Senate, and there's really not any Democrats that are contradicting that at this point. But Candy, the Bolton nomination was really an unexpected cliffhanger when Congress left for Memorial Day break. Around here they were very surprised that the Bolton nomination was stalled essentially by Democrats who said they wanted to see more information from the National Security Agency intercepts and also from the State Department, that they think perhaps could back up their claims that John Bolton misused intelligence. The president went into the Rose Garden last week for a very practical reason, and really stood firm. And that is, because even though the Democrats did succeed before the congressional break in stalling the nomination, the white house does believe they are going to be able to get this through even procedurally without giving into what the Democrats want.

Now, Democratic senators have been trying to perhaps forge a compromise with the white house. Senator Chris Dodd, one of the leaders on this from the Democratic point of view has tried to reach out to the leader of the national -- to the director of national intelligence, I should say, John Negroponte, trying to find compromise, any way they can see the documents they are looking for, but at this point in talking to Bush aides, on talking to aides in Congress, Republicans, and even some Democrats, they say that's probably not necessary. And the reason is they think they really only need two Democrats to cross over. And they've talked to some Democrats even before last week's vote, like Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, like Senator Diane Feinstein of California, they think that even those two senators perhaps won't have the stomach, if you will, to keep this going and perhaps they can convince them to vote procedurally for John Bolton, and then ultimately he will go through. But Candy, as Ed Henry pointed out early in the program, that might not happen until next week.

CROWLEY: Matter of time but it will be interesting between now and then. Thanks so much, Dana Bash at the White House, appreciate it.

BASH: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Another contentious issue facing President Bush, the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Just days after Amnesty International compared the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo to prison gulags of the former Soviet Union, Democratic Senator Joe Biden says the Guantanamo facility should be shut down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Howard Dean doing the party any good?

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DE: Not with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric ...


CROWLEY: Sorry, this is the -- that was the wrong soundbite. You heard him talking about Howard Dean. What Senator Biden said was he thought given what at least has been alleged that they ought to shut the place down and find somewhere else to go. Joining us with more on the controversy over Guantanamo, CNN's senior pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie, are they feeling it -- to my knowledge, Senator Biden is sort of the first senior senator to call on the U.S. to shut down that detention place in Guantanamo. Do they feel any pressure at the Pentagon at all?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure if they're feeling the pressure or not, but I can tell you at this point there's no consideration of closing this facility at Guantanamo and moving the prisoners elsewhere. For one thing, the United States has invested millions of dollars in upgrading the facilities there to be able to handle what they call enemy combatants.

And of course, the primary purpose of this facilities is not so much detention as extracting intelligence that the U.S. claims is helpful in thwarting future terrorist attacks. In addition, of course, there have been some court decisions, saying that these people, foreign nationals held there, do have the right to challenge their captivity in U.S. courts. Supreme Court ruling that last June. But still having a facility that's outside on of u.s. Soil makes it easier for the Pentagon to argue they don't have to follow the same procedures that are followed in the U.S. criminal justice system. Just last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked point- blank whether he would consider closing Guantanamo, and here's what he said ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered moving Gitmo, the terrorist prison in Cuba to America, given the criticism and given the Supreme Court decision that says there is some review there? Have you ever considered that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would it give any advantages of transparency or better oversight?

RUMSFELD: My goodness, there's so much transparency in Gitmo and so much oversight ...


MCINTYRE: Again, Rumsfeld said there's so much oversight of Gitmo, but it was interesting, his answer was a lot different than he was asked about closing Abu Ghraib, the infamous Iraqi prison. Asked during congressional testimony whether they ought to just close that, he said they kind of thought they should, but there's a difference there. Abu Ghraib, which of course was a symbol of prisoner abuse because of the images that came from there, is an Iraqi prison and it's being turned over to Iraqis and Iraq will have to decide what to do with it. Guantanamo Bay, while on Cuban -- in Cuba, is U.S. territory at this point, and the U.S. is showing at this point no signs of wanting to take that facility down.

Again, the Pentagon insists it's not the prison, it was some procedures that might have been lacking. They say they changed those procedures back in January of 2003, and that since then, they've shown utmost respect for the Koran.

CROWLEY: Jamie, Friday we saw that report sort of handed out late in the afternoon saying there were they five instances, some of them inadvertent, some of the them not, in which the Koran seem to be disrespected at Guantanamo Bay. Is there recognition there that this is symbolically a problem, and that Gitmo may in fact become a symbol of American overreach. Do they worry about the diplomatic side of that, I guess, at the Pentagon?

MCINTYRE: Well, they are worried about how these things are proceed, but they insist if you look at the details of these incidents, that they are relatively minor and in one case inadvertent, and even the worst incident, which apparently a guard urinated near an air vent, and the wind blew into the cell and got on somebody, that just sounds awful, but they insist if you look at the details of that, it was inadvertent and the guard was immediately removed and never had anything to do with detainee operations again.

So they're hopeful by put out a report that has all the details people will look at the fine print, but if history is any judge, some people around the world are going to judge the United States no matter what the Pentagon says.

CROWLEY: Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. We love it when you join us, thanks, Jamie.

He once wielded a lot of power. Tom Daschle is no lodger in the Senate, but still involved in politics. Just ahead, a live interview with the former Senate Democratic leader.

There's a lot of buzz over medicinal marijuana. We'll go inside the blogs to see what being said.

Plus, in our political strategy session, Paul Begala and Terry Holt weigh in on big topics, including Hillary Clinton's big fundraiser.


Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle may be gone from capitol hill, but he is not out of the political loop. The South Dakota Democrat is with me from New York to talk about a number of topics, including some of the recent battles over some of the president's the judicial nominees. Senator, thank you so much, first of all, for being here. You know, from the 10,000-foot look, as you watched Capitol Hill now, does it seem substantially more bitter to you now than it was when you were there, a short six months ago?

FORMER SENATOR TOM DASCHLE, (D) SD: Well, Candy, it does look like the bitterness has escalated, the partisanship, the confrontation. I was so pleased to see there was some resolution, at least in part, to the matter involving the nomination issues right before the break, but clearly partisanship continues to rise. And the rancor is very much a part of the political life today.

CROWLEY: And what do you think accounts for that? I mean, it seems to me that you and I have in fact had plenty of discussions about just this topic. It seems like every year, boy, we've never seen it anything like this, and then the next year, boy, it's never been this bad. And here we are now, what is causing this?

DASCHLE: Well, it won't surprise you to hear that I believe so much of it is driven by the hard edge that this administration and some of their supporters have in Washington. There doesn't seem to be an accommodation, a willingness to try to work with both sides and compromise. It took the moderates in the middle to try to find that common ground on nominations before, even though I think Senator Reid had made a real effort to try to do that. So a big part of it is idea logically driven, a very significant unwillingness on the part of the administration to compromise on these key points.

CROWLEY: And yet we have heard Senator Reid, who you've noted is the Democratic leader in the Senate, called the president a loser. He apologized. He called him a liar, he didn't apologize. Did you ever call the president a loser and a liar?

DASCHLE: Well, again, I think it goes to the point, there really is a great deal of partisanship right now. I think those feelings are generated in part by the fights you see on the senate floor, whether they're judicial or legislative, there's just a great deal of political confrontation.

CROWLEY: And you're out and about now, talking to what we like to refer to as real people. And I suspect you all call them real people, too. What is your sense about how people are viewing what's going on on Capitol Hill?

DASCHLE: Well, I think it's fair to say they don't like it. I don't think they feel that the Senate right now, especially, is dealing with the issues that they care most about. They're worried about their economic circumstances, they're worried about healthcare, they're worried about the quality of their education for their children. They're worried about their pensions. And they don't see that Congress as addressing those issues right now. I think above and beyond anything else, those are the concerns they wish the Congress would address in a much more bipartisan manner.

CROWLEY: As you watch Senator Reid, do you feel for him? I imagine you can certainly see yourself in his shoes. How do you think he's handled everything?

DASCHLE: Candy, I think he's done an outstanding job. He's a very close personal friend of mine, and it's a tough job, especially given his numbers right now. And I think he's handled it admirably. I'm very, very pleased to see what he's been able to do in the short time as the Democratic leader.

CROWLEY: And let you take a whack, then, at Senator Frist. I suppose it's the opposite, but you led the minority, then you led the majority. He's got a tough job, has he not?

DASCHLE: Well, he does. I think there's a lot of expectations, especially from the far right and from the Republican base that are put upon Senator Frist. He may be running for president. And I think that drives a big part of his agenda as well. So he's in a much more complicated and far more challenging situation than he's probably ever been before, and I would give him mixed reviews right now. I know he's trying.

CROWLEY: Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, please come back and see us. We appreciate it.

DASCHLE: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Prosecuting sick people who smoke marijuana, that's a hot topic today in cyberspace after the Supreme Court's ruling. Just ahead we're going inside the blogs to find out what's being said.


CROWLEY: As we've told you, the U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a stinging defeat to supporters of the medicinal use of marijuana. And the ruling is getting a lot of attention from bloggers. We want to check in with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Jacki? JACKI SCHECHNER: Hi, Candy. Yeah, the Supreme Court ruling that federal law trumps state law when it comes to medicinal marijuana getting a lot of attention on the blogs. I wanted to make all the obvious puns, but what I'll do is let do it for me. He said "The fight went all the way to the Supreme Court, but in a blunt opinion, Justice Stevens saw through the haze and made hash out of arguments." But he's a former copy editor, a print reporter graduating from law school soon, and he does have an interesting smart post that follows the puns. And he has got a roundup, and a lot of people are saying this is an overreach of the federal government.

Over at the Irish Trojan's Blog, this is, he says it's the most heinous vomit the Supreme Court has yet spewed forth. Very strong opinions. Also at she says it's a whole egregious intrusion into state matters by the fed.

And then an opinion from the middle. This is the, a centrist blog that we often to says this is judicial activism, saying it's not a bad idea to let a few states experiment with drug laws, that the national laws, federal laws are often harsh.

ABBI TATTON, CNN PRODUCER: And it's not just political bloggers weighing in on their opinions on this from the Supreme Court today. If you go over to some of the law blogs, there is a whole genre of law blogs out there, or "blawgs" if you want to use the proper terminology. Here is, this is run by Tom Goldstein, a partner in the law firm specializing in Supreme Court litigation. It's not just Tom posting, he's a partner but he's got his summer associates who post there as well. Also recent graduates from Harvard Law School. Lots of people weighing in. It's a great resource for what the court is doing. I like this post today. "A visual guide to day's opinions. This is from Heather Lloyd, the officer manager at the firm there, showing you who were the dissenting voices on the bench there today on the three opinions. Also, if we're using terminology you don't understand, like "blawg" and all of the other things if you're new to this blogging thing, go across to where they have a glossary where it explains that blawg means it is written by a lawyer or concerned primarily with legal affairs.

SCHECHNER: Another story we wanted to bring you, last Thursday, the DNC chairman Howard Dean had a controversial comment saying a lot of Republicans had never made honest livings in their lives. That comment was the big talk in the blogs on Friday, and then over the weekend, Senator Joe Biden and John Edwards both weighing in and saying Dean didn't speak for the entire Democratic Party. That stirring up a lot of the blogs today.

TATTON: Yeah, the progressive and the liberal blogs, we're seeing a common theme, saying democrats, stop eating your own, attack the Republicans, not each other, you're seeing this all over the place, but I like this one from, this is Hanna Clarke (ph), an NYU student, who says, do the Dems really need to go the Republicans' job for them. We need to learn from the GOP. I'm sure conservatives hate each other as much as liberals do, but they keep it to themselves.

SCHECHNER: Same thing in, Joe in DC posting, here's an idea for the Democrats, stick together for a change, also noting that Dean is out organizing in Montana and Missouri trying to turn red states blue rather than trying to turn other Democrats back and blue. So Candy we started on a pun and are ending on one for this segment.

CROWLEY: Can't do without a pun but we'll give you another shot at another one coming up later in the hour. Thanks a lot, Jacki and Abbi.

Next up, something new here on INSIDE POLITICS, we're going to go beyond the political headlines for a strategy session, for Democrats pushing back against their party boss Howard Dean, to the Texas governor's bill-signing at an evangelical school. We'lre going to talk to two political insiders, Paul Begala and Terry Holt. Stick around, we'll be right back.


CROWLEY: You are looking at an American Airlines plane, which is currently circling over Miami International. This is American Airlines Flight 1550. It was bound for Newark, apparently taking off from Miami toward Newark, but came back. The pilot is reporting a problem with his hydraulic system, something with the front landing gear. About 180 passengers on board and seven crewmen. These pictures we're bringing you from our affiliate WPLG-TV.

Again, out of Miami International, American Airlines flight circling Miami International, reporting a problem with its hydraulic system. We are obviously watching this story, and we'll bring it back to you as soon as there are any new developments. We have no reason to believe that there's any dire danger here, but this is what is going on over Miami International. Everyone, of course, watching it very closely.

Back now to INSIDE POLITICS and a new segment here for us. It's called "Strategy Session," where our experts take on the hottest topics in politics.

Joining us, two people reasonably well-versed in political things, CNN political analyst Paul Begala and Republican strategist Terry Holt. Today, Howard Dean's in another fight. It's all about location for the governor of Texas. Too rosy on Iraq from the Rose Garden. And Hillary Clinton has a few hundred friends over for breakfast.

We begin with criticism for Howard Dean, this time from inside the Democratic party. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee has been tough on Republicans, saying some have never made an honest living. And he said that at one point, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should go on back to Texas to serve his jail term. Former vice presidential candidate John Edwards and Senator Joe Biden are critical of the criticisms. Biden says Dean has gone too far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Howard Dean doing the party any good?

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: Not with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats. And -- but, I wish that rhetoric would change.


CROWLEY: So, you know, let me kick it off here. Should -- is this something Democrats ought to be doing?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course not. It's typical Democratic instinct for the capillary, OK? The Democratic party is? in extraordinary trouble. They've lost the House, they lost the Senate, they lost the White House. They don't control anything. And Senator Biden and others are concerned whether Howard Dean controls his mouth.

I mean, it's as if your car didn't have an engine and you were worried about whether fixing the door lock. Maybe it's a problem, maybe it's not. The Democrats have a whole lot bigger problems than whether Howard Dean pops off about Republicans.


CROWLEY: Why you are you nodding your head here?

HOLT: Well, they're running from Howard Dean like scalded dogs, but they should be, because he doesn't represent most good-natured Democrats out there. And they've all been doing a pretty good job the last six months. The Democrats have knocked the Republicans off message. They've been obstructionists very effectively. And here comes their party chairman who can't keep his mouth shut. He's got diarrhea of the mouth.

CROWLEY: Let me just throw something in here. Isn't it kind of nice to have a foil? Isn't it kind of nice to have your party chairman out there saying things so that you, if you're Joe Biden or John Edwards and you might maybe want to think about running for something higher...

HOLT: It is, Candy. And I think that, you know, there is always this opportunity for the white knight, or in Hillary's case, the white knightess, to ride in on the white horse and say, here...

CROWLEY: Don't be so mean.

HOLT: ... we're saving it. We are the good Democrats. I think, you know, for us, we need to stay on. We need to keep building at the grassroots. You know, Howard Dean was at one point hired for this job because he could organize at the grassroots. So let's see if he can do that.

CROWLEY: And because they thought he could raise some money. BEGALA: I think that's a bigger concern among the Democrats I talked to, is that the Democratic party -- we'll see June 30th close the books on this quarter and we'll see how Governor Dean is doing, but the word I hear is that he's not raising money as effectively as Terry McAuliffe, his predecessor, did. I think that's a bigger problem for the party chairman than just popping off. I mean, my goodness, it is the party chairman's job.

And Terry's right, there's this element of good cop/bad cop, but the Democrats' only strategy in minority is unity. I mean, when Terry was working for the Republicans and they were taking over the House, I'm sure that Newt Gingrich had his issues with Dick Armey and Dick Armey didn't get along with Tom DeLay, but not in public. They stayed together and that's why they won. I think Democrats ought to learn from Republicans on unity.

CROWLEY: Let me just tell you, the flight -- American Airlines flight that we had been following, as you can see now, has landed safely. So all is well, despite some problems with the hydraulic system. So everything -- the -- everything is fine and they are back down and looking very safe. OK.

I want to go, move us on to more of our hot political topics and Republican Governor Perry in Texas staging a bill-signing in a controversial location. Perry signed a measure yesterday putting more limits on late-term abortions and requiring written parental consent for girls under 18 seeking abortions. The signing took place in front of 1,000 people in the Calvary Christian Academy's gymnasium in Fort Worth. Protesters gathered outside, upset that the signing took place on church property.


GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) TEXAS: We may be on the grounds of a Christian school today, but our message speaks to all who believe standing up for the unborn, all who cherish strong, traditional families, regardless of party, of ethnicity or creed. That's why we're here today.


CROWLEY: Smart move? Bad move?

HOLT: Well, smart move. He's in a potentially difficult re- election fight against Kay Bailey Hutchinson. But he's a conservative governor of a conservative state, and I don't see what all the fuss is about.

CROWLEY: What is all the fuss about?

BEGALA: The fuss about. I mean, how more political can you be? I mean, my goodness gracious. These are serious topics...

CROWLEY: Well, he's signing a bill.

BEGALA: Right, but that's a governmental function, not a political function. There's nothing wrong with campaigning on a church ground, nothing wrong with having a picnic on a church ground, but signing a bill there -- I think that, obviously, Terry is right. The governor is looking at a primary. This is unusual in the Republican party, at least in my state of Texas, but Kay Bailey Hutchinson, probably the most popular politician in Texas, the U.S. senator from Texas, is thinking about challenging...

HOLT: Well, I would say George W. Bush might be the one...

BEGALA: Well, now that Governor Bush, unfortunately, gone on to other and more important jobs, I know...


BEGALA: But also, if not, Senator Hutchinson, Carol Straymore (ph), who is the controller of public accounts, not well-known outside of Texas, but her boys are. Her son is Scott McClellan, the president's chief spokesman. Her other son is Mark McClellan, who runs for Medicare for the president. So either way, there's going to be a huge fight in the Republican family in Texas. And Governor Perry wants the most conservative faction on his side.

HOLT: That's a great fight to have. Texas has gone from complete Democrat stronghold and over the past 25 years become a Republican stronghold. And I think it's a good fight to have. We'll have a Republican in the governor's mansion after all is said and done.

CROWLEY: But you know, you have to wonder, this is -- this would have been a primary move, I guess. I mean, a move sort of aimed at the primary, because in toto, I wonder whether some of this, you know, signing things -- not just with Governor Perry, but elsewhere in the Republican party, but some of it isn't turning off the middle a little bit?

HOLT: Well, it's tough to say. I mean, there is a very definite pro-life Christian ethic that's in the part of the Texas culture. And I'm not a Texan, but having been there, I'm not sure that you're not on pretty safe ground talking about pro-life issues, no matter whether you're a Republican or Democrat in the state.

BEGALA: The problem, if there are problems with winning, is that the president has built a much broader coalition for his party, brought a lot of Christian conservative evangelicals into the political process, something that Ronald Reagan began. And Bush has perfected -- President Bush has perfected.

The problem with that is there's now enormous tension between economic conservatives, who tend to be very secular and very powerful in the Republican party and the religious conservatives. And so there's going to be a civil war in the post-Bush era in the Republican party. And today I think Governor Perry fired one of the first shots.

CROWLEY: Not to worry, they'll be back.

Ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the Bush administration offers an optimistic take progress in Iraq. Is the view too rosy?

And we're going to go back to the blogosphere to find out the latest information, going online "Inside the Blogs."


CROWLEY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS and our "Strategy Session."

Paul Begala and Terry Holt are here to exam whether the administration's view of Iraq is too rosy. There was another deadly car bombing near Baghdad today killing two Iraqi soldiers and injuring a dozen others. But over the weekend a huge weapons bunker was uncovered, and President Bush and other top members of his administration point to steady progress in Iraq.


Are they overselling this and what's the danger?

HOLT: Well, the president measures success in big strategic ways.

Are they on the path to democracy?

They certainly are.

Are they working to secure their own future and standing up a military?

Yes, they are.

Things were difficult in Afghanistan for quite a long time. We have an even more difficult job in Iraq.

And I think the president measures these things in broad strokes whereas we're still thinking about success based on the number of car bombs.

And in a way, that lets the terrorists define success and not our policy-makers.

CROWLEY: Well but don't you have to have some feeling that you're grounded in reality?

BEGALA: Right, that's the problem. It's actually a tough calibration for any president to make because you can't simply say things are terrible.

Well, things are terrible today, we hope that they get better tomorrow.

And, you know, Confucius once said "a leader must be a dealer in hope."

And the president, I think, wants to be hopeful, but my own sense is his calibration is a little off. That...

CROWLEY: So what -- I mean -- what should he say?

BEGALA: Well I think he should begin by what Terry said which is, it's difficult in Afghanistan, and remains so. It's difficult in Iraq, but when he gets conservative Republican politicians going on the record yesterday in "The Washington Post" saying he or his team is not accurately reflecting what's going on the ground, that's a big problem.

Curt Weldon is a Congressman from Pennsylvania -- as pro-military as he can be -- the other day, he said that Rumsfeld and others were misleading Americans about the number of functional Iraqi troops.

He got back from Iraq and had a very dark report and really took a shot the president's administration.

Look at what he said, though, on the day Baghdad fell, "The plan established by our Pentagon leaders was a valid plan, and, in fact, has accomplished not only what we could have in our wildest dreams imagined and expected, but it's even surpassed our expectations in the success."

Now that's changed, things are worse on the ground but also the politics has changed.

HOLT: Paul, I think...

BEGALA: I mean President Bush was at 90 percent then, he's at 45 now and, you know, Republican Congressmen are starting to jump off this.

HOLT: Well then this Republican Congressman -- it looks like he's changed his policy far more than the president has. The president has been consistent throughout.

BEGALA: He has.

HOLT: And we are going to have bad days -- we had some horrible days -- Abu Ghraib -- but we had an election seven months later...

BEGALA: But Weldon would not be saying this if President Bush was at 75 percent. I'm just making honest observation of politics in America.

HOLT: Whether the polls are up or down, this president has to stay on track. And the first sign of weakness you give to the terrorists, you know, I think that you have to stay on track to Democracy.

Democracy is the cure in Iraq...

CROWLEY: But Terry...

HOLT: No matter what you think of Democracy. CROWLEY: Don't you feel as though -- if you're watching in TV and you're seeing Iraqis -- I'm just you know -- tens of thousands of Iraqis.

HOLT: It wears on everybody.

CROWLEY: You see these Americans -- it gets wearing, and people go, "We've been doing this for two and a half years."

HOLT: Absolutely, but the mission is the same, and you can't look up from a hard mission.

And the president's resolve, and, I think, optimism, have kept this country on course. And for him to flake out at this point would be a monumental disaster.


CROWLEY: What do you think of the House resolution that's kind of going around calling for a timetable of withdrawing troops?

What do you think of that...

HOLT: It's a disaster.

BEGALA: I think as a substantive matter, timetables never work.

President Clinton tried that in Bosnia, and he had to renege on it.

Why -- so he had to say no -- times up but we have to continue the mission.

But that is a sign; the president has to keep the American people with him. And you don't do that simply by saying I'm right and everything is rosy, because it's simply not.

I think people would stay with him if he sounded more like John McCain, who was for the war even before President Bush was for the war...

HOLT: But the president has pointed out.

BEGALA: ... but to keep things more realistic, I think that's the better calibration in this.

HOLT: Well, McCain's a Democrat's favorite Republican.

I personally think John McCain has been dead-on on these, and he has supported the president on this war.

So that may be a bit of an overstatement to say that McCain is the right and President Bush is the wrong.

Look, this president has put us on a path to Democracy in Iraq, it's painful every day, but that's what this is. This was never going to be easy; we lost 3, 000 lives on September 11th, and we're going to have hard days.

CROWLEY: The president has a high-wire act here; that's what it boils down to.

They'll be back.

There was a very expensive breakfast in New York this morning.

Why were so many willing to spend so much to have breakfast with Hillary Clinton?

I bet you already know.

The story when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up at the top of the hour the United States Supreme Court says no to medical marijuana.

How will that affect California and other states where doctors, at least for now, can prescribe it?

A look inside a huge insurgent bunker in Iraq -- you won't believe what they found inside.

And how safe is your car if it's hit from the side?

We'll have the results of new tests.

All those stories and much more only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."


CROWLEY: Thank you, Wolf.

We are back with more of today's "Strategy Session."

Paul Begala and Terry Holt take a look at a Senate campaign that might have ramifications for the 2008 race for the White House -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's breakfast with several hundred of her nearest and dearest friends this morning.

It was the first New York Women for Hillary event of 2005, and it was expected to bring in several hundred thousand dollars for Senate reelection campaign.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth. It is very hard...


... to tell people that they must think about the country's future, not just their own partisan political advantage.


CROWLEY: OK, so she's raising money for her Senate reelection campaign. She already has $8 million, by the way, before this first fundraiser. What's she actually raising money for, do you think?

HOLT: To be reelected in an overwhelming way. And she's only about a third of the way to the money she's going to need or a quarter of the way. She raised and spent $30 million to be elected the first time. But this is all -- this is a precursor to a national campaign. And she has to do it convincingly so that when she goes to the national stage, no one will doubt that she can prove -- and you know, I was in Ohio in 1998, and I went to a speech and they let me in, surprisingly, that Hillary Clinton did.

CROWLEY: Oh, we learned something.

HOLT: Going to a Democrat event for a Republican is a bit like going into a "Star Wars" bar. I don't know how you hold all those people together.

CROWLEY: You going to take that?

HOLT: But she's a very convincing candidate and I don't think anybody should sell her short.

BEGALA: Yes, I was struck that -- Candy, yesterday -- Ken Mehlman was on "Meet the Press," and he reminded everybody what my party was saying back in 1979. A Carter White House was saying, well, we want Ronald Reagan, bring Ronald Reagan on, he's a warmonger, he's a nut, he's a B movie actor. Well, we got Ronald Reagan and he won two landslide elections.

I think, Terry, Ken Mehlman, the smart Republicans I know, are watching this woman and saying, wow. You know, she won a huge victory, a landslide victory the last time in New York and she didn't even live in the state. And she beat a high-quality Republican, Rick Lazio. He's a Congressman, he's good-looking, he's smart, he had $20 million...

HOLT: From Long Island.

BEGALA: From the right part of the state. So yes, she's a very formidable candidate. And it happens to be the best thing that ever happened to cable news, too, because we talk about her every day.

CROWLEY: Exactly. Well, as one who has tried to get her to sit down, to talk about these sort of things to find out if that I really wanted to go to Buffalo and listen her talk to the constituents, that would be wonderful. But she didn't want to talk national politics. This is going to be -- talk about high-wire acts. Isn't this another one? Because, you know, we're sitting here going oh, she's really running for president, isn't she? So how does that come in New York and how does she play it?

HOLT: She won't. And she was here last week and very coy about a national race, and I think she has to be. In 2000, she made a commitment to the people of the state. She said I will serve the same six years. She's not interested in making that same pledge, but she does have to at least look like she's going to stay there through the term.

BEGALA: Well, she's going to do what Governor Bush did when he ran for re-election in Texas in 1998. Everybody in the Republican party wanted him to run, but he stayed very focused on the task at hand. He won an overwhelming re-election. And he was asked by his fellow Texans whether he would serve his full term, the second time he ran, his re-election, he said, look, I may take a look, I know a lot of people want me to run for president, but I'm not going to focus on that just yet.

I think Hillary might not like me to hear me say this, but I think she's a lot like President Bush that way. She's very focused, she know's she got to win the race at hand. And there are pressures for her to run for president, but she's not going to pay attention to them yet.

BEGALA: Oh, goodness, I agree completely.

CROWLEY: Wow. What a wonderful way to end your maiden voice on "Strategy Session."

BEGALA: Well, thank you.

CROWLEY: You know -- here you're here. It was great. Come back, Like, tomorrow. Thanks.

Still ahead, we'll go back "Inside the Blogs" for a story that's getting a lot of attention. An 80-year-old woman arrested for running a brotel.


CROWLEY: Time now for another look at some of the stories causing a buzz with bloggers today. We're going to check in with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter.

Jacki, it better be about that 80-year-old brothel owner.

JACKI SCHECHNER, BLOG REPORTER: That's a good tease, because we're going to get that out in a minute. But with the Senate back in session, we just wanted to bring this up. You may remember before the break that a lot of the blogs were up in arms over the bipartisan deal, but not all of them.

And some of the ones who refused to get all worked up over the filibuster deal called themselves the Coalition of the Chillin'. And a list of those over at As Instapundit's logo puts it, they are the ones dedicated to the proposition that the world did not end on May 23rd, 2005.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Which brings us to this great visual over here that just appeared this morning. If you want to find out who these civilized blog states are, then click on this over here at, a reworked map of old Europe. You can go to the Duchee of Insi (ph) here, he's one of the coalition now that takes you back to his site.

SCHECHNER: So the story that you were talking about, Candy. You wanted puns, we got puns for you. An 80-year-old woman arrested in New Jersey for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of her home. 80 years old, said she inherited the business from her daughter who passed away. And get this, using the money to subsidize her Social Security checks. If that's not a story ripe for puns and humor, I don't know what is. Abbi's got the best one over there.

TATTON: They're all over the place. A California conservative took a little bit of time off from blogging about politics to call this Granny Fleiss, asking -- saying that, "No report yet on whether she offered AARP discounts. I guess Social Security doesn't really cut it."

SCHECHNER: And then over at, saying the world's oldest profession -- saying they kind of liked the story, believing that prostitution should be legal, and then second, "It's inspiring to see an 80-year-old woman running her own business. Bless her lascivious heart." So, not all serious stuff on the blogs. I'm sure for her family it's very serious, but not all serious stuff to give you today, Candy, and a little of punny fun to end it.

CROWLEY: So is this all over the blogs or is this just a tiny portion? I'm interested in what kind of radiation this story had.

SCHECHNER: It's only a couple of blogs today we've got, and not a huge amount of them. There actually were some blogs in other languages we found that had the story.

TATTON: Yes, that was -- this was big on Dutch blogs, as well. I saw a few places. They seemed to really like that one. Maybe prostitution a big one for some of them.

SHECHNER: The Red Light District. But it wasn't "The Times" -- if I'm not mistaken, they had the story today. So some people picking up on it and just linking to it and having a little bit of fun.

CROWLEY: Jacki Schechner, Abbi Tatton. As my mother, 80 years old, once told me, sometimes it's best not to say anything.

One of those times. That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.



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