Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Missing Scout Found Alive in Utah; Another Senate Showdown Looms Over Bolton Nomination; Governor Schwarzenegger's Job Approval Falls

Aired June 21, 2005 - 16:15   ET

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


ED HENRY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. I'm Ed Henry in Washington. We'll bring you the latest political news in a moment. But first, a breaking story out of Utah. An 11-year-old boy who disappeared from a Boy Scout camp four days ago has been found alive.
CNN's Ted Rowlands joins us live from Summit County, Utah. Ted, can you update us on the latest?

ROWLANDS: Well, Ed, what a wonderful ending to a story of a missing 11-year-old boy. Brennan Hawkins was reported missing last Friday evening at 5:30 in a rugged mountainous area of Utah. And the search started shortly after he was reported missing. About two hours and 15 minutes ago, he was found alive and well. He was found about five miles from the point where he was last seen. He was found by one of the searchers. There have been thousands of people that have come out to help this family search for this young lad, and they found him today.

He was tired. He was hungry and very thirsty and cold. He was wearing the same sweatshirt and T-shirt and shorts that he was last seen in. But otherwise, he was well. He drank the water that was provided to him. He said he wanted to see his mother. He did indeed see his mother. His parents accompanied him to Salt Lake City, where he is now being checked over at Children's Hospital there.

His uncle, Bob, who has been out here searching as well from the very beginning had this to say after Brennan was found.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB HAWKINS, UNCLE OF BRENNAN HAWKINS: I don't have details of the hospital. We don't have a lot of details of the condition. It's being worked right now through Sheriff Edmunds and his crew. Toby and Jodie and their children are on the site with Brennan. And it's going from there. It is excellent news. We are all thrilled. We're so happy. What a power boost. We are absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Sheriff Dave Edmunds of Summit County says that Brennan was found in an area where he was considered not to be. It was a low probability in their search effort, but they continued the search effort because of the amazing amount of volunteers out here. They had the resources. They went out and checked this area out about five miles away over a huge summit, and lo and behold, they found 11-year- old Brennan Hawkins alive and well. He is with his family tonight.

The sheriff said of the meeting that he witnessed between the family and Brennan, one of the most touching things he had ever seen in his life. The search is over, and Brennan Hawkins is alive and in good health.

Ed?

HENRY: Ted Rowland, thank you very much. What a remarkable story.

We want to turn now in fact to Senator Robert Bennett, who's standing by live on Capitol Hill. He's a Republican from Utah. Senator Bennett, I obviously want to start off by asking you, your home state in the news here, what's your reaction to this remarkable story?

SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R), UTAH: Obviously the same reaction of everyone -- that we're so excited that he's been found. We're excited he's well. I'm thinking back over 50 years ago when I hiked those same hills as a Boy Scout, it's a fairly standard rite of passage that most Utah boys go through. They're pretty well established trails. And apparently he stayed close enough to the trail that they were able to find him. And it's obviously just wonderful news for all of us.

HENRY: Since you have been in that area, can you give our viewers an idea of just how difficult that region is in terms of someone surviving since Friday without food and watered? He had been there -- he had not been seen since Friday evening.

BENNETT: Yes. Well obviously, as the reports indicated, the main thing was the weather. The fact that the weather remained good, that it remained warm is I think the reason why he was able to survive that long. It can get very cold up there very quickly, because you're at very high altitudes, and that's the most difficult part. I go back there now, and the high altitude, I try to walk around, I think boy, how did I ever do this as a kid? So it's heavily wooded, very remote, and it can get very cold. And the fact that it didn't, I think, is the main reason he survived.

HENRY: Now we also heard from the sheriff, Dave Edmunds, out in Summit County that when Brennan Hawkins was found, one of the first things he asked to do was to play a video game on someone's cell phone. Obviously he seems to be relatively healthy and back to normal.

I now want...

BENNETT: They didn't have any of those when I was up there.

HENRY: Clearly. I now want to ask you a little bit about today's lunch with the president. The entire Republican Conference of Republican senators went over to the White House, had lunch with the president. We're told this is the first time that has happened since the Reagan administration.

You came out of that meeting saying that the president spoke very favorably about your Social Security reform plan. The key there is that your plan does not include private accounts. This sounds like potentially a major development that the president is speaking favorably about a Republican plan that does not include private accounts.

BENNETT: Well, I don't want to get ahead of the story here. The president spoke favorably of the blended indexing, which is the main part of my bill, but he didn't specifically say, and it's a good thing you're dropping private accounts. Frankly, that didn't come up.

Now, he knows I am dropping private accounts from the bill -- not because I don't believe in them. I do. I support personal accounts just as the president supports personal accounts. I think they're essential long-term.

But so many Democrats have been saying, we won't support anything that has personal accounts, that I decided to separate them, put them in a separate bill, which I will also offer and say, all right, let's see how many supporters we can get for a bill without personal accounts. And then we'll have the discussion about personal accounts later.

So I don't want to over stress the president's kind words as being a signal that he was more than willing to jettison personal accounts, because he never said that.

HENRY: But do you think this is at least a step in that direction where, maybe this is the key that unlocks door? We see polls across the board saying that the public, by and large, does not support private accounts. As you mentioned, Democrats are saying they will not come to the negotiating table unless you drop private accounts. Do you think this is a first step in that direction?

BENNETT: Well, I wouldn't be taking it if I didn't. I don't want to speak for the president on this issue. I'll speak solely for myself. I came to the conclusion that if we did not at least have an opportunity for Democrats and some Republicans who have reservations about personal accounts -- if we did not at least have an opportunity for them to sign on to a bill that addresses the solvency problem, the whole thing would probably die, and I don't want to see it die.

I applaud the president in his initiative to get this thing moving forward. It is a problem. Over 80 percent of Americans recognize that it's a problem. And I say OK. If you guys say we won't discuss it as long as private accounts are in the bill, I will offer a bill without private accounts and see how much discussion I can stimulate.

HENRY: Now, Senator, we have less than a minute. Can you, though, boil down exactly what is in that bill that does not include private accounts? My understanding is that you want to cut future benefits for anyone earning over $30,000 a year. That's also something Democrats have criticized. BENNETT: No, the $30,000 a year is not in the bill. What I'm saying is that we should blend the adjustments upward so that the higher you are, the closer your income gets to Warren Buffett's, the more your adjustment will be made on the basis of real inflation and real prices. The bottom 30 percent of people will get exactly the same benefits they're getting now. And those of us that fall somewhere below Warren Buffett and somewhere above the 30 percent will get a mixture of those.

It's frankly much more generous than the proposal made by former Senator Moynihan, who said everybody should just get price indexing as the way to deal with inflation. I'm saying no, those people at the bottom should be taken care of better than Senator Moynihan wanted to, and my bill has that blend in it.

HENRY: We'll have to leave it right there. Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, thank you very much for joining us.

BENNETT: My pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the first White House reaction to what Senator Bennett just said. We'll speak live with White House Communications Director Nicolle Devenish next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: Welcome back.

We just heard from Senator Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, about President Bush today at a lunch with Republican senators, having some encouraging words about Senator Bennett's plan on Social Security, which does not include private accounts.

We now want to go over to the White House and bring in the White House communications director, Nicolle Devenish, to get her reaction to what was said at this lunch. Nicolle, welcome.

NICOLLE DEVENISH, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me.

HENRY: So, is this a baby step toward the president saying, perhaps, that he can live without private accounts?

DEVENISH: Yes, the president applauds any member of Congress in the Senate or in the House that leads on this issue, that takes on the challenges facing Social Security. So I think he's heartened to see increased activity on Capitol Hill. But I think you know as well as anyone that our commitment to personal accounts as a part of a long- term strengthening and modernizing of Social Security is a deeply held conviction and commitment, and one that we are sticking to as a best way to solve the system.

You know what's real important about what happened today is that the Democrats now have an opportunity to walk the walk. They've been talking the talk about considering Social Security reform if it were a bill that didn't include accounts. And I think this puts the ball back in their court and gives them an opportunity to really maybe put their money where their mouth has been.

HENRY: So is the president then saying that perhaps he can live without private accounts in round one, as Senator Bennett's approach does, and have one bill that actually deals with perhaps solvency, that deals with benefits, and then perhaps have a second round that deals with private accounts?

DEVENISH: You know, I'm no expert in legislative strategy but we remain deeply committed to hopefully signing into law this year legislation that saves and strengthens Social Security by doing both pieces, by making the system solvent. And we've suggested progressive indexing. I think that's consistent with what Senator Bennett is talking about. I've not seen his bill. But it's critically important that we make Social Security a better deal for people my age and your age and future generations. So that remains our goal and our objective.

HENRY: But -- now, when you say the Democrats need to walk the walk, Democrats will respond that, in fact, the president has not actually put a plan on the table. He's talked about private accounts. He's talked about principles in his State of the Union back in January, but he has not actually put a plan on the table. Why is that?

DEVENISH: Well, you and I know that's laughable. If he hasn't put a plan on the table, what have they been attacking for six months? We have a bold and a very reasonable plan on the table. We have a plan on the table for making sure that everyone's benefits get bigger. Under our plan, everyone's benefits grow. We just adjust the rate at which they grow for the very wealthy. So that has been very clear. And then we've also been very clear and very detailed in our proposal for personal savings accounts, voluntary personal savings accounts, that would be an option for me or future generations if I wanted to have a little more ownership and control over my retirement savings.

HENRY: But I want to be clear. Is the president at least temporarily saying that he can live with taking private accounts off the table to deal with those other issues you want to deal with and perhaps deal with private accounts down the road?

DEVENISH: I think we need to deal with it all at once, and that's still our strategy and our goal. But what the president did do was applaud Senator Bennett and his political courage in doing something very important, which is putting a bill out there that the Democrats are going to have to weigh in on. This is not a bill that includes the personal accounts that they said would keep them from the table. They now -- I'm not sure how they explain -- coming to the table to discuss Senator Bennett's bill, and weighing in on it. Where do they stand on saving Social Security?

HENRY: How do you think that you can change public opinion at this point? Obviously, we've seen the president out on the road doing dozens of events on Social Security, laying out a lot of the principles that you're laying out here, now. But it does not appear that the public is buying public, right now -- private accounts. How can you turn that around? DEVENISH: Well, you know, the personal accounts wouldn't be available to anybody nearing retirement or in retirement. So, I'm not sure who the questions are being posed to, but certainly for people my age and younger, I think there's overwhelming support for personal savings accounts. And those are really the only people that they have the potential of affecting.

HENRY: Nicolle Devenish, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us. The White House communications director, Nicole Devenish.

DEVENISH: Thanks, a lot.

HENRY: The way the White House and Senate majority leader tell it, President Bush is still pushing for an up-or-down vote on John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations. And as our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel, reports, the possibility of a recess appointment remains in play.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: The White House wouldn't say whether President Bush might bypass the Senate and send John Bolton to the United Nations during an upcoming Congressional recess.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: John Bolton deserves an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate. He enjoys majority support. I think that is clear to everybody.

KOPPEL: But it wasn't clear to the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, who after initially telling reporters he would not schedule another vote to end debate on Bolton's nomination, reversed course following a meeting with President Bush.

SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We'll continue to work to get an up-or-down vote for John Bolton, over the coming days, possibly weeks.

KOPPEL: But with the Senate at an impasse, a recess appointment is among the president's few remaining options.

DAVID ROTHKOPF, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: The recess appointment gives him a chance to put Bolton in the job, put him in the job through January of 2007 and move to the next debate, get this monkey off his back, because right now the Bolton debate and the inability to get a vote is a big embarrassment for the administration.

KOPPEL: The White House could also withdraw Bolton's nomination, but said that option wasn't on the table.

MCCLELLAN: No, in answer to your question.

KOPPEL: Recess appointments of U.S. ambassadors are not unprecedented. During President Clinton's second term, he pushed through controversial ambassadorial appointments to Slovakia, Barbados, Norway and Luxembourg.

The Democrats say a recess appointment to the United Nations would send the wrong message at home and abroad.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. Bolton may have the confidence of the president, but he certainly doesn't have it of the Congress.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: But if President Bush ultimately decides to make an end run around Congress to get John Bolton to the United Nations, his administration's ambitious agenda to move forward with reform at the U.N. could be further complicated by the fact that he'd have a highly controversial ambassador, who may be viewed as damaged goods. Ed?

HENRY: Andrea Koppel, at the State Department. Thank you.

The war in Iraq continues to lose support among Americans, even as President Bush says the U.S. is making progress towards its goals. Critics complain of a gap between rhetoric and reality. The politics of war coming up as part of today's "Strategy Session."

Just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: If misery loves company, President Bush may want to give Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a call. Both face uphill battles promoting their legislative agendas. Both are losing public support in the process. And now, California's top Republican has sunk to a new low in the polls. We're joined now by senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Bill, did Governor Schwarzenegger's call for a special election in California help him or hurt him?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It hurt him. And that's from a new Field Poll that's just out in California. In February, Governor Schwarzenegger had a pretty healthy job rating: 55 to 35 percent approval. Now, that's reversed: 53 percent now disapprove of the way the governor's handling his job, down 18 points in four months.

Now, in his speech to the state last week, the governor called for a special election this November to vote on several statewide ballot initiatives. Do Californians see a need for that special election? No. Only 37 percent of California voters support that idea. HENRY: Now, is the governor mostly losing support against -- among Democrats who could be his crossover support normally?

SCHNEIDER: Actually, no. Let's take a look at the governor's approval ratings among Democrats and Republicans. His support among Democrats has tumbled to just 16 percent. That's the same low rating the Democrats nationwide give to President Bush. And notice that Schwarzenegger has lost 18 points among Democrats since February.

What about Republicans? Also an 18 point decline to 66 percent approval. President Bush's rating among Republicans right now is 86 percent. That suggests that Bush has a more solid base in his party than Schwarzenegger does. And you know, Governor Schwarzenegger spent his first year in office reconciling voters and bringing the state together. It worked and his popularity soared.

This year, he's been picking fights with a lot of people -- with teachers and with labor unions and with the legislature and with nurses. A lot of voters wonder, is all this confrontation necessary? Is it the best way to govern California?

HENRY: And I think the bottom line people are wondering around the country, can the governor win this confrontation?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the governor's rating is low, but the legislature's job rating is even lower. So, if it's the governor versus the legislature, he wins, right? Not so fast. California voters were asked, if Governor Schwarzenegger's position differed from that of state legislative leaders, which position would you be more inclined to support?

And as we see by 44 to 33 percent, they said, the state legislative leaders. What does that mean? Just this -- voters see the special election as a referendum on Governor Schwarzenegger, not on the state legislature. He's the one who called the special election.

HENRY: Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, thanks for your insights.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

HENRY: Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS, a live update on today's remarkable story of the missing Boy Scout found in Utah.

Then, today's "Strategy Session." Paul Begala and Joe Watkins weigh in on the Bolton nomination, the politics of war, and more, just ahead. Critics complain of a gap between rhetoric and reality...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS and our "Strategy Session" on today's hottest political topics. With us today, CNN political analyst Paul Begala and Republican strategist Joe Watkins. Today's topics, the growing political heat over the war in Iraq. A new poll shows fewer Americans in favor of the fight.

The Democrats blocked a vote on John Bolton in the Senate. Will the president turn to a recess appointment?

And the escalating war of words in Congress. Will members back off from the rhetorical battles? President Bush says the effort to bring peace to Iraq is tough, but he believes the U.S. is making progress towards its goals. Still, the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows only 39 percent of Americans favor the war in Iraq, while 59 percent now oppose the fighting. Both numbers a big change from an even split in opinion three months ago. We also -- there's been a lot made about the fact that Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska said this week in "US News & World Report" he thinks America is losing the war in Iraq.

Paul, your reaction.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he knows a lot more about these things than I do. He's a decorated combat veteran. He is a United States senator. He's been to Iraq. And he's certainly no partisan Democrat. I think a lot of Republicans on the Hill and in the country are really trying to grab the president by the lapels and the vice president and Secretary Rumsfeld and others running this war and say, hey, you've got to come to grips with reality here. We need a new, better, different military strategy to win. We certainly need a different communication strategy. Something. And I suspect what Hagel's trying to do is grab our commander-in-chief the way any ordinary American would do if they think the country's going off on the wrong course.

But it's politically very significant when one of the president's own leaders in his party is saying we're losing the war and that he's sort of out of touch with the reality of that fact.

HENRY: Joe, how about that? That follows last week. We had another Republican, Walter Jones of North Carolina, over on the House side of The Capitol saying he believes that he wants a timetable over the next 14 months to start bringing the troops home. Is pressure growing within the president's own party to end the war in Iraq?

JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think so. And I don't think a timetable works either, because a timetable just telegraphs to the enemy that you're leaving. And of course, that could be disastrous, have disastrous consequences for this country and certainly for the troops that have put themselves in harm's way.

You know, I think that with regards to the numbers, the polling numbers, numbers go up and down. And it's not unusual, given some of the attacks by the insurgents, for the numbers to be where they are today. But, if you look at the big picture, which is that the democracy is being won, that Iraq is becoming a free and democratic nation, that's the good news. And I think the president believes, like the commanders on the ground, that we've got to complete the mission.

HENRY: Now, Paul, the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, took some lumps this week. She had a statement on the floor last week about the war in Iraq. Republicans pounced on it. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Each passing day confirms that the Iraq war has been a grotesque mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, Paul, the bottom line there is the Republicans are saying that Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, all the Democratic leaders are basically extreme on the left against the war, against the president.

BEGALA: They can say that, but that's not what today's poll indicates. Today's poll indicates that after years now, three years of looking at this and participating in this war, the American people are coming to a conclusion, and it's not based on some transitory moment, some bad news day, the way Abu Ghraib last summer really drove down support for the war temporarily. This is a hard-and-fast opinion, I believe, that the American people are settling on. Nancy Pelosi is reflecting that opinion.

I think voters -- if only 39 percent support the war, 59 oppose the war, they're going to listen to Nancy Pelosi and say, gee, that woman's making some sense. She at least seems to be engaged in reality. And I think that it ill suits the president's political needs to be personally attacking Nancy Pelosi or having his associates attacking Ms. Pelosi. He ought to be attacking his problems.

HENRY: But are Democrats playing into the Republican hands? Coming out of the last election, there was a lot of talk by analysts in both parties that John Kerry spent far too much time talking about the war on terror, talking about Iraq rather than talking about the kitchen table issues that Democrats felt might have played better. Now, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean talking about Iraq again.

WATKINS: Absolutely.

BEGALA: With 140,000 men and many women, by the way -- there are men and women over there -- we have 1,700 dead. We have maybe up to 10,000 wounded. This is the biggest thing on Earth. And for one of the political parties to say, we're not going to discuss this, particularly when the voters think they're right, I think this is a plus for Nancy.

WATKINS: You've got brave men and women who've volunteered to be part of this nation's military force. And they are out there putting their lives on the line every single day to bring about democracy in Iraq and also to win the war against terror. These are hard times. And it's sad whenever you hear a single story about some good human being losing their life over there in defense of freedom, it's a sad story. But the peace will be won, and the mission has to be completed.

BEGALA: But that's not what voters think, Joe. That's the problem the president has politically. He has tried to sell this. He's an able politician. He's an accomplished man. And he has failed to sell this to the country. I suspect it's because people are making their own minds up.

HENRY: Now, a recess appointment or an up-or-down vote for John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. The Democrats blocked a vote yesterday, but after a White House meeting today, the Senate majority leader says the president did not talk about the possibility of a recess appointment, but pushed for a floor vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRIST: Basically our goal is an up-or-down vote, so we'll continue to work in that regard. Remember, we've got majority support for John Bolton. And it's come to a point that it's no longer -- which is clear to us, and it's clear even in the comments on the floor -- it is no longer about John Bolton. It's about an issue that it seems to be that senators have with the president on the other side of the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Joe, let's start with you. Recess appointment, would that be a good idea?

WATKINS: Well, of course, you know, it's something that a lot of Republicans wouldn't mind the president doing. But this president is determined that he's going to get up-or-down vote on his man, John Bolton, for that position at the United Nations. And Senator Frist is going to deliver that.

Remember now, I mean although it's failed twice, we aren't that many votes away. So I think Frist is going to succeed on number three.

BEGALA: It was an interesting -- you've covered the Hill, Ed, longer and better than most people I know. But you saw today a really interesting dance by Senator Frist. He announced the obvious, which is the votes aren't there. We're not going to hold any more votes. Then he went in to see the president, had lunch with the president. I'm sure the president gave him a big plate of humble pie, because he came back out then and flip-flopped and said well, after all, we are going to have a vote.

And Joe's right. The president wants an up-or-down vote. You know, my daddy back home in Missouri City, Texas, used to say people in hell want ice water. That doesn't mean they're going to get it. The president's not going to get this man voted in. He doesn't have the support.

By the way, the previous two people the president sent up for the U.N., John Danforth and John Negroponte, were approved unanimously. So it's not like Democrats have a problem with everybody Bush sends up. They just don't like Mr. Bolton, and they defeated him.

HENRY: But Paul, is this playing into the Republican allegations out there dating back to the last election again that Democrats are about obstructionism? Here's the president, he wants to get his man at the U.N. It's obviously a critical post. It's gone months now unfilled. The United States does not have a representative at the United Nations. Why are the Democrats stalling?

BEGALA: I think that's a valid point. But that's why I mention that when the president sent up John Negroponte to be his first ambassador to the U.N., he was unanimously approved. John Danforth unanimously approved by Democrats. There are other Negropontes and Danforths, conservative Republicans who will ably articulate the president's foreign policy but who didn't monkey around with intelligence the way many Democrats believe that Mr. Bolton did.

WATKINS: Well, the difference is that when those others were nominated, there had not been an oil-for-food scandal, and the U.N. wasn't in the shape that it is now. And obviously the U.N. is in desperate need of reform. It needs a tough, no-nonsense guy who's a straight-shooter. That's what John Bolton is. He's the right guy for the job.

BEGALA: The oil-for-food scandal pre-dated both of those nominations.

HENRY: If there is a recess appointment, will John Bolton really have the full authority he needs to shake up the United Nations if he does not have the support of the United States Senate? Other countries are going to look at him...

WATKINS: Well, clearly, of course, that appointment only lasts until early 2007. So it would come back. We'd come back to another Senate confirmation battle. But I think the president is right now set on an up-or-down vote. They're only a few votes away from getting this. And he's set on having an up-or-down vote, and Bill Frist is going to get it for him.

HENRY: Well, was this another loss for Bill Frist? He had a difficult time on some of the judicial nominees. He's had two votes now on Bolton. And as Paul pointed out, before this lunch with the president, he said no more up-or-down votes. The votes are not there. Then he comes out and says, well, we're going to push again for an up- or-down vote. What's going on with the Senate leadership right now? Is the White House calling the shots?

WATKINS: No, the White House isn't calling the shots. Obviously, Bill Frist wants to make sure that the American people have what they need, which is somebody representing us at the United Nations. And so I think he's moving in concert with the president on this one. And it's hard work. It's not easy work, obviously. I mean, senators are independent people. So it's hard work.

HENRY: Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, a live update from Utah on the story of the missing Boy Scout. Then more "Strategy Session". Harsh words on both sides of the aisle in both houses of Congress. We'll have the latest on the congressional war of words and whether members can get past the angry rhetoric. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: We'll have more INSIDE POLITICS in a moment, but first we want to return to our breaking story out in Utah. An 11-year-old boy who disappeared from a Boy Scout camp four days ago has been found alive. We want to return to CNN's Ted Rowlands who's live on the scene in Summit County, Utah. Ted, please update us on the latest. TED ROWLANDS, CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ed, exuberant volunteers are now heading home, an amazing end to this story which has lasted since last Friday, 11-year-old Brennan Hawkins, missing at a Boy Scout camp. No sign of him. He seemed to vanish into thin air. At about noon Mountain Time today, he was found by one of the searchers on horseback about five miles from where he was last seen.

According to the sheriff, he had to traverse a huge mountainous area to get to where he was found. He was in an area where they didn't look at first because they thought it would be too remote to look. They did look and they found him. He was dehydrated. He was cold. He said he wanted to see his mother. But he is in good health. He, at this hour, is with his family at a Salt Lake City hospital where he is being treated for dehydration. We'll have much more on this amazing story at the top of the hour with WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.

Ed?

HENRY: Thank you. Ted Rowlands, live in Summit County, Utah. And of course, CNN will have complete coverage of this story throughout the evening, but especially at the top of the hour on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.

But right now, the "Strategy Session" continues on INSIDE POLITICS. Paul Begala and Joe Watkins will take a look at the latest volleys of angry words in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is upset over Democrat Dick Durbin's comments on detainee treatment at Gitmo. And in the House, Indiana Republican John Hostettler was critical of a proposal by Wisconsin Democrat David Obey concerning allegations of inappropriate religious activity at the Air Force Academy which brought an angry response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN HOSTETTLER, (R), INDIANA: Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I move the gentleman's words be taken down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Joe, let's start with you. Some strong words from John Hostettler.

WATKINS: Oh, very strong words, but again, I think people need to be careful about what they say, obviously, and choose their words carefully. But I think what he's talking about is the general atmosphere, the general environment, which doesn't seem to be certainly pro-Christian. Obviously, there are Christian people in the U.S. on both sides of the aisle, politically. There's no doubt about that.

But you get statements like the one from DNC Chairman -- just a couple of weeks ago -- Howard Dean, who said that the Republican Party is a party of white Christians. I'm a Republican. I'm a black guy, a black Christian guy, but that's what he said. It wasn't meant in a positive sense.

HENRY: And John Hostettler withdrew those words yesterday on the House floor. It sounds like you think maybe he should not have.

WATKINS: No, I'm glad that he did. I'm glad that he did. I don't think you should make - that it's appropriate to make comments that suggest one side is Christian and the other side is not. That's clearly not the case, but the environment certainly has been charged because of the role that Christians have had in recent elections.

HENRY: Paul?

BEGALA: This was a debate about really improper -- alleged -- conduct at the Air Force Academy where Jewish cadets or Muslim cadets or Buddhist cadets or atheist cadets were being treated harshly and unfairly if they didn't sign up for a very particular Protestant, evangelical sort of ministry. That's wrong in a democracy. It's certainly wrong in the military for the government to force people -- that's exactly what the First Amendment is supposed to protect.

Congressman Obey had an amendment to ask -- to require the Pentagon to look into this, and report. And that's when Mr. Hostettler accused Democrats of demonizing Christians. It's preposterous. It's good that he withdrew those comments. But I noticed from that clip that he was reading them from a prepared script. That's a problem. When people on either side -- it's one thing if you pop off in the heat of a debate. But when you're reading a prepared text that accuses the other side of bigotry, that's just too far.

HENRY: Paul, quickly, I want to ask you about Dick Durbin, though. I mentioned that, bottom line is, Senator John McCain said he should apologize. Why hasn't he?

BEGALA: Well, he issued a statement of regret, and I'm sure he does regret it. I haven't talked to him personally (ph). I can't tell you first hand, but I've read his statement. And he was wise to issue that statement of regret because nobody should invoke the Hitler analogy for anything in American politics. It never works. It's never right. It's a crime against history. Senator Byrd in my party did it. Senator Santorum in the Republicans, now Senator Durbin. No one should do it.

WATKINS: All right. And at the same time, you don't want to energize the enemy, and that's what comments like that do. They energize the enemy, terrorists (ph).

HENRY: OK, we're going to have to leave it right there.

There's a lot of speculation in cyberspace over what's next for the stalled John Bolton nomination. When we return, we'll go "Inside the Blogs" to find out what's being said.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: The battle over the John Bolton nomination still causing plenty of chatter in cyberspace; a very quick check now with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, BLOG REPORTER: Very quick, let's get right to it.

So Bolton, big talk on blogs, has been for sometime. Many on the left giving credit now to Stephen Clements (ph) of the Washington Note (ph). He's a policy practitioner in Washington, D.C. He has been following it all along; now talking about the possibility of a recess appointment, the latest news, saying that no matter what happens, that might be a bad move for the White House.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Right, the recess appointment: the possibility of it is being talked on the right, as well. ConfirmBolton.com is a group blog set up by a group of prominent conservatives back in April, following this story all along. They're saying, if there i a recess appointment -- the Democrats actually have a point on this one -- Bolton would be hobbled at the United Nations.

Consensus on the left and right not something we see a lot, but we certainly see it there today. The idea a recess-appointed John Bolton would not be sending the right signal to the United Nations. A little bit of consensus there. Ed?

HENRY: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Ed Henry. WOLF BLITZER REPORTS starts right now.

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

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines