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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Former Florida Congressman Enters Rehab; Bush Administration Refutes Woodward Book; Foley Fallout

Aired October 2, 2006 - 20:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for joining us.
At this hour, we're watching late-breaking developments in a story that has nationwide implications. With congressional elections a mere five weeks away now, the Mark Foley scandal is not only tonight's "Top Story" in politics. Now that state and federal investigators are involved, it's also a "Top Story" in crime.

As we speak, former Republican Congressman Foley is seeking treatment for alcoholism. He resigned abruptly on Friday, after revelations that he sent sexually explicit computer messages to a teenage boy who had been a congressional page.

Tonight, ABC News is reporting that Foley repeatedly tried to meet with the former page. If proven, that opens the possibility of a federal charge of soliciting for sex.

But the story has moved beyond one former congressman's personal troubles. It's raising serious questions about how much the Republican leaders of Congress knew, and how little they did about it.

Our "Top Story" coverage starts tonight with senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House will be in order.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Out of Congress and into rehab, ex-Congressman Mark Foley wrote a Florida TV station saying -- quote -- "I strongly believe that I'm an alcoholic." And he's seeking treatment for that and what he calls related behavioral problems, and his former colleagues call something else.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Instant messages reportedly between Congressman Foley and a former page sent in 2003 were vile and repulsive.

REP. JOHN SHIMKUS (R), ILLINOIS: The very thought of this behavior made me sick. And Mark Foley should be ashamed.

CROWLEY: Rehab of the political sort on Capitol Hill, where the Republican leadership is getting pummeled for knowing, as early as last fall, that the then-52-year-old Foley had, at the least, crossed a line, when he e-mailed a still underage former page asking for a picture. Foley was told to knock it off. And that was that, until ABC began late last week to report on a string of lurid Internet messages ABC says were between Foley and another teenage former page.

ABC says he Foley the screen name MAF54. CNN has not independently confirmed these exchanges.

Foley: "I want to see you."

Teen: "Like I said not until February. Then, we will go to dinner."

Foley: "And then what happens?"

Teen: "We eat. We drink. Who knows, hang out, late into the night."

Foley: "And?"

Teen: "I dunno."

Foley: "Dunno what?"

Teen: "Hmm. I have the feeling that you are fishing here. I'm not sure what I would be comfortable with. We will see."

Hastert says nobody in the Republican leadership saw anything like this, until ABC uncovered them.

HASTERT: Congressman Foley duped a lot of people. Me lied to Mr. Shimkus, and he deceived his in-state paper when they each questioned him.

I have known him for all the years he has served in this House, and he deceived me too.

CROWLEY: One former female page privately told CNN she was uncomfortable around Foley. She found him a little weird. But others describe a congressman who took the time to learn their names and talk to them, as he did to the graduating page class of 2002.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK FOLEY (R), FLORIDA: You have taken on your respective roles as junior members of Congress. And, oftentimes, I get a kick when I walk by the back row: "Mr. Foley, please mention the pages, so our parents will hear us on C-SPAN."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Now, the FBI and the state of Florida are trying to figure out whether Foley broke any laws dealing with the transmission of sexually explicit messages to minors via electronic device.

For Republicans as a whole, the problem is not legal, but political, just five weeks before an election which already threatened the Republican majority, they are wrestling with another political storm that's shaking the party down to its grassroots.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: Senior correspondent Candy Crowley is with us now.

And -- and, Candy, if it turns out that other Republicans in Congress knew about this, and either didn't do anything about it, or even sought to cover it up, how far could this go?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, after this past week, where we have had so many things, and this sort of capping off last week, one wonders.

We're already hearing, well, a lot of people knew of his behavior -- whatever that means -- as early as five years ago. So -- but, as far as we know right now, this is confined to sort of a handful of the leadership that said: Look, you know, all we knew was that he was, you know, writing too familiar e-mails to this one child. The parents didn't want to pursue it. So, we told him to knock it off.

The problem is, John -- and you put your finger on -- if this goes any further, it's just hard to see how Republicans are going to get up off the mat.

ROBERTS: Yes, what a bombshell.

CROWLEY: Yes.

ROBERTS: And this close to the election, too.

CROWLEY: Yes.

ROBERTS: Candy Crowley, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Tonight, Mark Foley's political career is destroyed, and he could face a criminal investigation. But, for the moment, he is in alcohol rehab.

National correspondent Susan Candiotti is in West Palm Beach tonight with that part of the story.

Hi, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John.

You know, where the disgraced congressman is receiving that treatment remains a mystery. But what's also a mystery to many of his friends, both here in Florida and in Washington, is how it is they say they saw no signs of alcoholism before. In fact, some people have even questioned his admission.

However, tonight, Mr. Foley's lawyer, David Roth, here in Florida, says that, absolutely, his client is an alcoholic, who hit rock bottom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID ROTH, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER CONGRESSMAN MARK FOLEY: Mark is an alcoholic. He drank in secret. He did not drink in public. He had two lives with regard to his alcohol consumption. In public and in public service, he was sober. When he was alone, he was not sober.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: His lawyer says Foley has not sought help before for alcohol abuse, but has indeed sought mental health counseling before.

And that attorney says that Mr. -- he has not discussed any kind of plans or any discussion about any possible legal problems that Foley might face. In fact, he says, he describes his misconduct with the -- with the pages as only inappropriate communications.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile, has never, ever had an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: The attorney says that Mr. Foley expects to be in this in-house treatment program for a minimum of a month -- John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Susan Candiotti for us live tonight in Florida.

And we should also point out, though, that the absolute definition of pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children, has nothing to do with the actual act of sex.

In a sign of how serious this story's implications are for the Republicans, longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie, a major figure in Republicans politics, is now calling for the resignation of any top GOP leader who knew what Foley was doing, but took no action.

He's on the phone with us right now.

Mr. Viguerie, who else do you think should resign, besides Mark Foley?

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN TARGET ADVERTISING: Well, any of the Republican leaders who were aware of this.

You know, this is not an issue just standing alone by itself. We have many years of these Republican leaders engaging in whatever type of activity was necessary to hold on to power. They're spending our country into bankruptcy, simply for the sole, in my opinion, immoral, corrupt purpose of holding on to power.

And if they were engaged in a cover-up to keep this quiet until after the election, you know, that's outrageous. It's terrible.

ROBERTS: Yes. You -- you have been named one of the top 13 conservatives of the century, which I would assume includes the six years of this century, as well. Yet, you're talking out against your own party. What is it that particularly has you most angry about this incident?

VIGUERIE: Well, I don't know -- I no longer, like a lot of conservatives, consider myself a Republican. I think of myself as a Reagan conservative...

ROBERTS: Mmm-hmm.

VIGUERIE: ... because I'm just so disillusioned with the betrayal of these Republican politicians that, you know, it just -- it is a long list of their betrayal of -- their spending. They have used conservative voters, conservative issues, organizations, donors to get elected, and then they abandon these voters and govern as big- government politicians, mostly for the purpose of holding on to power.

That seems to be their -- their -- their main principle these days, is -- is power.

ROBERTS: I don't know if you saw it, Mr. Viguerie, but, earlier today, House Speaker Dennis Hastert held a press conference, in which he said he didn't learn about these -- quote -- "vile and repulsive" messages until last week.

Do you believe him when he says that?

VIGUERIE: I -- I, you know, take him at his work. I -- you know, I'm not in a position to challenge him on that.

But I do know that, when we have scandals, John, the number-one issue, invariably, seems to come back to a cover-up. And it's OK to have the FBI investigate. But there's no reason the Republican Party should not demand of their leaders full disclosure immediately of everything everybody knew...

ROBERTS: And...

(CROSSTALK)

VIGUERIE: ... who knew what and when did they know it.

ROBERTS: Well, we certainly know, Mr. Viguerie, that a few people did know about it.

Richard Viguerie, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Now let's turn to a "Top Story" panel, political analyst Amy Holmes, who used to be a speechwriter for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Joe Conason, columnist and political editor "The New York Observer," and David Drucker, staff writer with the Capitol Hill newspaper "Roll Call."

Amy, let's start with you.

Should somebody besides Foley take the fall for all of this?

AMY HOLMES, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, right now, we just need to let the facts out.

I think that Speaker Hastert did the right thing, coming out swiftly, seriously. Mark Foley might be facing criminal prosecution, even prison time. This is a very serious story that just seems to get worse and worse every day. And I think speaking Hastert did the right thing by saying, let's get all the facts into -- onto the table, into the light, and see where responsibility lies down the road.

ROBERTS: Joe Conason, shouldn't these overly friendly e-mails have raised a much bigger red flag than they did? Should the people who knew something about this, which include Congressman Shimkus and -- and Reynolds, should they not have done more immediately?

JOE CONASON, COLUMNIST/POLITICAL EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK OBSERVER": Of course they should have, John.

Listen, this is an obvious red flag that went up in front of these members of Congress. Some of them say they told the leadership, including the speaker. The speaker says he can't remember whether he was told or not. And they ought to have done a lot more. They should have been investigating six months ago, or five years ago, or whenever this first came up.

To -- for them to say now they're going to investigate themselves is not satisfactory.

ROBERTS: And -- and, David Drucker, what really ironic about -- and tragically ironic about this whole thing is that Foley was the co- chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

What does this say about the amount of trust that Americans can have in their lawmakers?

DAVID DRUCKER, STAFF WRITER, "ROLL CALL": Well, I think Americans know enough that they -- they kind of trust their lawmakers the way they car salesmen. They believe everything, and they believe nothing.

In a case like this, when it involves children, they're going to be a little bit more in horror than they would be, say, you know, with the -- with -- with the corruption charges that have been circulating on Capitol Hill. So, it's definitely more serious. But I don't think it's going to throw people for a complete loop.

ROBERTS: Joe Conason, what is this going to do to the midterm elections? There are many people, many analysts who believe that the 16th Congressional District in Florida has gone Democratic. That means that there's only 14 now left that they need to turn over control. How big an impact is this going to have?

CONASON: It has a big impact, A, because it creates an atmosphere of distrust among voters towards the Republican majority, and, B, because it's dividing the Republican leaders among themselves.

They can't get their stories straight. And Tom Reynolds, who's in charge of preserving the majority, the New York congressman who's supposed to run the National Republican Congressional Committee, is right in the middle of this And I think that's going to have a damaging effect on their -- their campaign.

ROBERTS: Amy Holmes, do Democrats have to be careful how hard they hammer on this?

HOLMES: I think that there's a possibility for overplaying their hand.

I mean, let's be careful here. This -- these are very serious charges. Speaker Hastert is a former high school teacher and coach. It's -- I cannot imagine that he would knowingly allow a child predator to be roaming the halls of Congress, let alone serving in Republican leadership.

So, before we start hurling around these allegations that that was going on, I think we need to let the facts come out. Mark Foley committed -- if this is all true, and all of us to believe, which it appear -- appear -- appears to be so, he behaved entirely inappropriately, and, as I said, may be facing prison time, if the criminal prosecution goes forward.

ROBERTS: And, David Drucker, is there anything that Republicans can do between now and November the 7th to repair the damage?

DRUCKER: Well, yes. First of all, they can get their stories straight, and -- and figure out what they know, and what they knew, and when they knew it, so, they can come out to the press in a unified fashion and quell the feeding frenzy.

I mean, as you know, we will keep asking questions until we get -- get sufficient answers. And, the less we know, the more we ask, and the more this is going to push what Republicans did last week, legislatively, out of the headlines...

ROBERTS: Right.

DRUCKER: ... and keep this in the news. And that's not good news for them the closer we get to November 7, which is about five weeks away tomorrow.

ROBERTS: What a wrench this throws into their election plans.

David Drucker, Amy Holmes, Joe Conason, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Coming up: other top stories that we're following, including what could be the bigger controversy behind the Mark Foley scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): Abuse of power in government and business -- idealistic young staffers, powerful authority figures, and the difficult line between mentor and monster.

And the president's team launches an attack against Bob Woodward's controversial new book, with a flurry of denials and "I don't recall"s. How will Woodward's bombshell accusations hold up under fire?

All that and more -- as PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: At this hour, we're watching late-breaking developments in another of today's top stories. In a little bit, we will bring you up to date with the execution-style shootings in an Amish schoolhouse. And we will also explore what's behind the rash of shootings in schools across the nation.

Our "Top Story" coverage continues right now, though, of the scandal that has cost one congressman his career, and could severely damage the Republican Party's hopes in November.

Representative Mark Foley resigned last week, after sexually explicit text messages from him to teenage boys appeared in the news. But this is just one of a long series of cases of people in powerful positions taking advantage of it.

President Clinton's affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, got him impeached. Congressman Gary Condit's career was destroyed over an alleged affair with Chandra Levy, a Washington intern who was murdered in 2001. Condit had nothing to do with the killing.

And, back in 1983, there were two cases of congressmen censured for having affairs with underaged pages. Republican Congressman Dan Crane lost a reelection bid over it. But Democrat Gerry Studds survived the scandal, and served 13 more years in Congress.

The abuse of power is central to all of these cases.

Joining me now for a "Top Story" panel, TIME.com Washington editor Ana Marie Cox, Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who's now executive director of Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and talk radio host Lucianne Goldberg.

Thanks, all, for joining us.

Ana, let's start with you.

Certainly, there are plenty of cases in this world where people abuse power. There are a number of incidents of teachers having sex with underage students. But what is it about Washington that seems to attract more than its fair share of this type of behavior?

ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON EDITOR, TIME.COM: Well, I have said before that I think Washington is the only city in the country that is completely ruled by geeks. These are people that are not very well socially adjusted.

And I think, for them, they work a lot. They work all the time. And they're most comfortable dealing with people who they work with. And the only people they really feel they probably can seduce are their underlings.

ROBERTS: Right.

Is -- Melanie Sloan, is this becoming more or less prevalent than it has in years past? Certainly, as we have pointed out coming into this segment, it has happened in the past. Is it just reported now more often than it was? Do we find out about it? Do we tend to find out about it more than we used to?

MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: I think that's exactly what happens.

I think it's the same kind of conduct that has been going on for decades, if not longer than that. It's just that, now, we're -- in the media age, we're much quicker to find out about this kind of conduct.

And, Lucianne Goldberg, how is it that these people get caught up in this? Are they starstruck? They come to Capitol Hill, they -- they tend to really fall in love with these people who they're working for?

LUCIANNE GOLDBERG, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You -- you talking about the kids or...

ROBERTS: Yes.

GOLDBERG: ... the congressmen?

ROBERTS: The kids. The kids.

GOLDBERG: Well, I don't see any overt -- truly overt conduct on the part of the -- the youngsters here. This seems to be overt on the part of the congressman.

But I surely think it's a glamorous thing. Power is attractive. Young people can short -- shorten their careers by being -- having the right contacts.

ROBERTS: Right.

GOLDBERG: And, yes, but I don't see it in this case at all.

ROBERTS: Yes, but there's -- there's something about, you know, having the right contacts. But, then, there's something about somebody on the other side decides to take that contact too far.

GOLDBERG: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: I mean, what do you -- what do you think of the whole thing with Foley here?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think he's a sleaze for doing this.

I'm -- if it -- if -- I'm the mother of sons. And, I mean, I would be after him with a hit man.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I mean, this is not -- this is not something that anybody condones. And I don't think anybody is saying that -- I have -- I have yet to hear anybody come to his defense -- his lawyer, but he's being paid.

ROBERTS: Right.

GOLDBERG: But, no, I don't think any of us think this is a cool thing.

ROBERTS: No.

GOLDBERG: It's dreadful.

ROBERTS: Ana Marie Cox, 535 people up on the Hill -- do you expect that Mark Foley was the only one who was allegedly engaged in this conduct?

COX: Well, in this particular specific conduct, I think yes.

However, I'm sure that there's other kinds of funny business going on. But you also just said -- when you said how many congressmen there are, you have to remember, in the sort of Washington totem pole, congressmen are actually pretty low on there.

ROBERTS: Mmm-hmm.

COX: I think that one of the reasons why the pages were so impressed by them is, they're the only ones left in Washington to be impressed by them.

(LAUGHTER)

COX: But, when you look at the coverage of this, it's really interesting, the coverage in "The New York Times" today, that said the -- the pages really liked Foley, because he remembered their names and...

ROBERTS: Right.

COX: ... and their shoe sizes, oddly enough.

(LAUGHTER)

COX: But you can see how they would be -- you would be a 16- year-old; you would be wowed by that.

ROBERTS: Right. Melanie Sloan, these page positions are prestigious. They're hard fought after. What does this say to prospective pages, though, and their parents about making the journey to Capitol Hill?

SLOAN: This says, you better be very careful about coming to Capitol Hill, that, even with the changes in the page system made in the past 20 years, after the Studds and Crane scandal, even then, you can't keep young 16- and 17-year-olds completely safe, if there are folks who want to prey on them.

ROBERTS: Right.

And, Lucianne Goldberg, should parents not be able to send their young children to Capitol Hill without thinking that...

GOLDBERG: Well...

ROBERTS: ... they may become prey for some pedophile?

GOLDBERG: No.

Capitol Hill is hardly a cesspool of sin.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I mean, you let your kids go. They have to leave home. They have to get out of the house some time. Some don't.

However, this is -- this -- I mean, the media is having a field day with this. And I'm thrilled, because it keeps Bob Woodward from getting any attention.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: It may not be a cesspool, but, certainly, there are little swamps here and there that people have to worry about.

GOLDBERG: There are little swamps on every block in this country.

ROBERTS: Right.

GOLDBERG: And, if you don't send your kids to Washington because one congressman misbehaves this year, the kids are missing a great opportunity.

ROBERTS: It still is a pretty troubling allegation, though, that we have got out there.

GOLDBERG: It's nasty, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Lucianne Goldberg, Ana Marie Cox, Melanie Sloan, thank you, all. Appreciate it.

Much more "Top Story" coverage just ahead.

First, Melissa Long is in our Pipeline studio with tonight's CNN.com countdown.

Hi, Melissa.

MELISSA LONG, CNN PIPELINE: Hello, John.

More than 26 million people -- a lot of traffic on our Web site today -- checked out the stories. And let's go down the list now.

Number 10, our story takes you to Chicago. Illinois has suspended the license of a dentist whose 5-year-old patient slipped into a coma during a treatment, and later died. State regulators say the dentist failed to properly monitor that child's vital signs, after she received several doses of painkillers.

Story number nine: A South Carolina man is charged in the killing of his wife and her four children. Police say the victims were all shot to death as they slept at their home in north Charleston.

And story number eight: Supreme Court justices back to work today, and the Supreme Court refusing to hear a case involving prominent attorney Gloria Allred. She was the subject of a gag order in a high-profile murder try that's now over, and had filed a legal complaint called -- calling, rather, that order a violation of the First Amendment.

John, those stories 10, nine, and eight -- we will continue to count down the list coming up.

ROBERTS: Melissa, thanks very much. We will check back with you in a few minutes.

LONG: OK.

Our "Top Story" coverage takes us back to Florida in just a minute. A once safe Republican seat is now up for grabs. And the voters there seem very unhappy.

Later on: the Republicans' other headache -- we will go in-depth on the reaction to Bob Woodward's book. It contends, when it comes to Iraq, President Bush is in -- quote -- a "State of Denial."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Our "Top Story" coverage tonight is focusing on the scandal in Congress: Florida Republican Mark Foley's resignation over explicit e-mails sent to teenage congressional pages just five weeks before Election Day. Republicans, hoping to hold on to control of Congress, now have this new headache. And what a headache it is.

They have just picked a replacement candidate, who has to find a way to explain to voters why Foley's name and not his will still be on the ballot in November. And his Democratic opponent suddenly is a serious contender for what had been a secure Republican seat.

John Zarrella filed this report tonight from West Palm Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Democrat Tim Mahoney is suddenly on the radar, suddenly becoming a household name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim Mahoney will be the candidate that will do that.

ZARRELLA: From his headquarters in North Palm Beach, Mahoney, running for the 16th Congressional District seat, held, until last Friday, by Republican Mark Foley, suddenly finds himself the front- runner. Until last week, even his own political party gave him only limited support.

TIM MAHONEY (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We had it to a different degree. I mean, you know, what we have now is whatever it takes, it's going to be.

ZARRELLA: Mahoney, a wealthy investment banker, had never run for political office before, but insists he only got in the race because he felt Foley was beatable.

MAHONEY: I think that, if any of the experts were to come down and spend a week with me, take a look at our polling data, take a look at the district, take a look at who I am as a candidate, I think everybody would have walked away with a very clear understanding that -- that our race was winnable.

ZARRELLA: Political experts say Mahoney didn't have a realistic shot. Foley was hugely popular in a district stretching from Port Charlotte on the West Coast to the Palm Beaches.

And it's district as diverse as it is sprawling, from sugar mills around Lake Okeechobee, to mansions on the Atlantic. And everyone here is stunned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people, I find, are -- are pretty shocked by it, not -- not necessarily just shocked because of the actions, but shocked that -- frankly, that he was involved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the whole situation is really unfortunate. He's a great person. He's done a lot for the community. And, you know, I hope whatever needs to be done is taken care of. And I hope he gets back on the right tack.

"Palm Beach Post" political editor Brian Crowley believes the Republicans are very likely to lose the seat they thought was entirely safe.

BRIAN CROWLEY, POLITICAL EDITOR, "PALM BEACH POST": It's going to be very difficult for the Republicans to pull this out. Part of the problem is that Mark Foley's name remains on the ballot, so they have to educate their supporters that, when they pull the lever for Mark Foley, they're voting for the other guy.

ZARRELLA: Florida's Republican Party leadership met today in Orlando to pick that other guy. In a unanimous vote, they chose State Representative Joe Negron, who immediately distanced himself from Foley.

JOE NEGRON (R), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This election is not about Mark Foley. Mark Foley is not an issue in this election. Everyone agrees that what Mark Foley did was indefensible and reprehensible.

ZARRELLA: Negron added that this seat has been in Republican hands for decades, and should stay that way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Even though Foley's name, and not Negron's name, will appear on the ballot, Negron says that he believes that the people here in the 16th Congressional District are smart enough to figure it out. But are Republican voters going to be so turned off by what happened? The question is, do they show up to vote at all? -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, let's find out about that.

John Zarrella live in West Palm Beach -- John, thanks.

And joining me now the man you just heard from, Joe Nagron. He's the new Republican candidate for mark Foley's seat. And also the chairman of the Republican Party in Palm Beach County, Florida, Sid Dinerstein.

Sid, let's start with you. Have you lost the 16th congressional district to the Democrats?

SID DINERSTEIN, PALM BEACH COUNTY GOP CHAIRMAN: Oh, no, of course not. If you want to know just how good this election's going to be, Mr. Mahoney had Mr. Kerry in town the other day to remind the 16th congressional district that he's a cut and run Democrat.

People up there already know Joe Negron, and Joe Negron is one of them. He's solid. He's a family man. And he's going to be doing a great job when he gets to Washington. And we're going to be very proud of him.

ROBERTS: Joe, you're going to spend a lot of time in the next five weeks explaining to voters what happened with Mark Foley. What are you going to tell them?

JOE NEGRON, REPLACEMENT CANDIDATE FOR FOLEY: What I'm going to tell them is that I share the shock and anger at what happened in this case. But the reality is it would only worsen things by punishing the entire district by sending someone to Washington that doesn't represent our views.

I think that people are inherently fair. They're not going to penalize me for the conduct of another person. And this is a Republican district. People don't want to turn on C-SPAN and watch their Congressman trashing our president, and Mahoney does not represent the views of the majority of people in this district.

ROBERTS: All right. Sid Dinerstein, what's the strategy for the Republicans? Is it throw Mark Foley overboard as far overboard as quickly as possible? Denounce what he did as loudly as possible? There's a lot of Democrats from the late 1990s who remember what happened to them when they stood up and said I support President Bill Clinton during his times of trouble.

DINERSTEIN: Well, I think it's not a question of throwing Mark Foley over. When a person does things that are reprehensible we can't defend that. But we can defend that, but we can defend what our party did, and our party said we're not going to stand for that, we're not Teddy Kennedy Republicans, we're not going to have people who are going to hang around forever after they've lost the public trust. We don't want them. They can't represent us, and they can't represent the people.

So the strategy is simple. We're going to have Joe Negron going back to the people he's gone with for years who know him very well, who know his wife Rebecca very well, and who are going to make sure that Joe gets to represent them in the 16th congressional district of Florida so that he can support the president and so that we can keep fighting in Fallujah instead of Ft. Worth -- or Ft. Pierce.

ROBERTS: So let's just talk about what members of Congress did do. In this particular case, Joe Negron, we have a couple of highly placed members of Congress on the Republican side who knew about these e-mails, who knew he was sending them, slapped him on the wrist and said stop. We had Richard Vigory (ph) on just a little while ago who said anybody who engaged in such activity, regardless of their position in the leadership should be told to go. What's your position on that?

NEGRON: I completely agree with that. I think we need to have a full investigation of all the facts, find out when these issues came to light, and if somebody did not take appropriate action, if someone covered it up, if someone turned a blind eye, let the chips fall where they may.

I think parents have a right to know if their kids go to Washington to be a page in the United States Capital that these kind of things are not going to be allowed to happen and certainly are not going to be covered up after they happen. So let's let the investigation go forward.

But the issue tonight is we have an election for a new Congressman in five weeks. And I can tell you that voters in this district want a conservative, someone who is going to protect the environment and someone who's going to support our president.

They don't want someone who's hanging out with Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry and ripping our president and saying that Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be fired. ROBERTS: Right. Well, you've got a big hill to climb as far as name recognition goes. Good luck to you Joe Negron and Sid Dinerstein, thanks very much.

We'll get back to our top story coverage in a moment, right now, though, Melissa Long continues our CNN.com countdown -- Melissa.

LONG: Hello John, and story no. 7 tonight is about brilliance and an amazing accomplishment. Two American scientists winning the Nobel prize for medicine.

Andrew Fire and Craig Mellow will share the $1.4 million award for finding a way to silence genes. The discovery could lead to new drugs that would block genes that promote disease. All smiles there.

Story no. 6 the garage that gave rise to Google is now officially part of the company. Google's founders have bought the Menlo Park, California, garage where they founded that company some eight years ago.

And story no. 5 this evening, one of tonight's top stories on the Paula Zahn program. Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley is facing allegations again that he sent improper e-mails and instant messages to teenage pages in Congress. Foley, as you know, is now in a rehab facility being treated for alcoholism, John.

ROBERTS: Melissa, thanks very much. We'll check back with you later on.

Bob Woodward's new book says the president is in a "State of Denial" about how bad things are in Iraq and much of the blame falls on Donald Rumsfeld. Next in our top story coverage the White House counterattack.

Also ahead, an Amish schoolhouse becomes the latest setting for deadly violence. We'll look at what's behind the epidemic of school shootings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Our top story coverage turns to the Bush administration's public relations battle over Bob Woodward's new book "State of Denial." It's ignited a political fire storm with a damaging portrayal of the White House and its handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the president's team began fighting back, supporting the man at the center of that storm Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Here's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld is in Minagua, Nicaragua where he took time out from meeting with defense ministers to inspect a volcano. But the heat was nothing compared to the political eruption back home. Should he stay, asked the front page Washington Post headline about Bob Woodward's latest book excerpt which included a low angle picture of Rumsfeld looking imperious. But Rumsfeld told reporters traveling with him, President Bush has given him yet another vote of confidence, something the White House promptly confirmed.

SNOW: I think what the president simply wanted to do is, given all the press attention and everything that's been going on is to say Don, I still have faith in you and I support you.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld, a former White House chief of staff himself says it's perfectly understandable that Andrew Card would recommend changes when Card held that post in 2004.

In fact, Rumsfeld told reporters that after Mr. Bush was reelected he told Card no one is indispensable, and that he ought to fashion the next term in the way that makes the most sense, adding, that's not resigning, but it certainly is opening the door.

In his book "State of Denial," Woodward reports Card pressed to have Rumsfeld fired. Mr. Bush vetoed the idea.

SNOW: You want to make sure that everybody has got fresh legs for a second term, and the president took a cold look at it and still supports Don Rumsfeld.

MCINTYRE: If Rumsfeld ruffled feathers at the Pentagon and in the administration, he told CNN's Frank Sesno it's because he was doing the president's bidding.

RUMSFELD: Basically, the president wanted things changed. I understand his instructions, and we have set about that task. I also understand that when you do change things, that it's hard for people.

MCINTYRE: Traveling to Central America, Rumsfeld dismissed Woodward's contention that Rumsfeld would not return phone calls from then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice when she had questions about war planning or troop deployments.

"That's nonsense," he said. "We certainly discussed a hundred things over the phone I suppose for almost every morning for years."

Would he resign? "No. How many times do I have to answer? No."

And he cut off further questions in classic Rumsfeldian fashion. "Is that all you guys do, is read these books?" he quipped. "You ought to get a life."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: Now, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says he hasn't read Bob Woodward's previous two books and doesn't plan to read this one either, although he did sit down with him for two interviews back in July, and the full texts of those interviews have just been posted on the Pentagon's Internet Web site. They make some interesting reading, good insights into Bob Woodward's interviewing technique. ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely, Jamie. It's pretty interesting. I've seen it before in the past, and also kind of ironic that the secretary sits down for the interviews, yet doesn't read the result.

MCINTYRE: I thought that was interesting too.

ROBERTS: CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntire, thanks very much.

And Bob Woodward is Larry King's guest at the top of the hour. Larry is joining us now. Larry, a lot of questions to put to Woodward tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: You bet, John. I hope we can get to all of them. He's here in the studios raring to go. The book is right beside me, "State of Denial: Bush at War Part III." Interesting, of course, is the dichotomy between the George Bush presented in the earlier books by Bob Woodward and the George Bush in this book, 180- degree turn. It's all ahead at the top of the hour, John.

ROBERTS: And of course, now the White House, which so heavily promoted his last book, now saying, well, don't believe everything you read.

KING: It all depends on who's coming from what angle.

ROBERTS: Exactly. Thanks, Larry. And we should also mention that coming up on 360 after "LARRY KING LIVE," we'll be talking to former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card about some of the things written about him in Woodward's book.

More top story coverage in just a moment, but first, let's go back to Melissa Long at the CNN.com countdown center with more of our countdown. Hey, Melissa.

LONG: Hello again, John. Reports of a teenager with a gun causing a lockdown at a north Las Vegas high school. That story number four on the list this evening. That lockdown lasted more than three hours. Police say no one was hurt. They describe the teen as a former student, who either was expelled or transferred from the school.

Story No. 3, a visionary teenager who's part of a groundbreaking effort to get identity chips implanted into people has died. Derek Jacobs was killed over the weekend in a motorcycle crash near Boca Raton, Florida. His family was the first to get those I.D. chips put in. And you remember, that was actually happening live on television back in 2002.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Melissa. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

LONG: OK.

ROBERTS: More details have come to light in another of today's top stories. Police have just released more information about the gunman who walked into an Amish schoolhouse, lined up 11 schoolgirls and shot them execution style. We'll have the very latest for you in just a moment.

We're also going in depth with a security expert to look at what's behind our national epidemic of shootings at schools. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Our top story "Outside the Law" today, the third deadly shooting inside a school in the last week has left a peaceful Amish community in absolute shock. And this time, it wasn't a student killer but an enraged truck driver with a mysterious grudge, who singled out young girls at a one-room schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania. Jason Carroll is in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania tonight. He joins us with the very latest. Terrible night there, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. And you know, that truck driver's wife actually released a statement this evening describing her husband as a thoughtful, loving, caring man, the type of father who took his kids to soccer practice. But police say Charles Roberts also had a deep-seeded grudge, one that drove him to murder innocent children.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Trucker Charles Roberts drove his regular Monday night milk run, walked his children to their school bus, then said goodbye to his wife for the last time.

COL. JEFF MILLER, COMMISSIONER, PA STATE POLICE: He told her he loved her and that was it.

CARROLL: What he did next has this Amish community in shock.

MILLER: When he began shooting the victims, these victims were shot execution style in the head.

CARROLL: Roberts drove to an Amish one-room schoolhouse, armed with a 12 gauge shotgun, a 9 mm pistol and 600 rounds of ammunition. He nailed the door shut with strips of lumber, then he separated the girls from the boys.

MILLER: At that time, he apparently told the kids to line up in front of the blackboard.

CARROLL: He tied the girls' feet together, the youngest 6, the oldest 13. He let the boys go, 15 of them. He also told a pregnant teacher, as well as mothers there with their babies, that they could leave.

Then Roberts called 911 to warn police to stay back or he'd start to shoot. MILLER: We didn't have enough time to really launch a full-scale assault, because we were still trying to hail him when we got word, and by the time we got word and were able to try to relay it to the perimeter, he was already shooting.

CARROLL: Police say Roberts shot the girls he held captive at the school, some at point blank range, then he shot himself to death. Two girls died at the schoolhouse, another died later in the arms of a state trooper. Eight children remain hospitalized in very critical condition.

Roberts also left his wife a suicide note, described by investigators as rambling. Police only said that he harbored an undisclosed 20-year grudge, and that he wanted to attack young female victims.

JANE KREIDER, SHOOTER'S NEIGHBOR: To see him, he was just your normal father, loving father.

CARROLL: It was the third school shooting in the nation this week, this time in an Amish community, whose horses, buggies and black coats set it apart from the modern world.

Roberts was not Amish. His victims were religious people who reject violence.

JOHN FISHER, VICTIM'S FRIEND: As a whole, the community is going to pull together, whether it be Amish, non-Amish, whatever it may be. Everybody is going to pull together.

CARROLL: Roberts had no criminal record, no known mental health problems. He leaves behind three children of his own and few clues as to why he targeted a schoolhouse full of little girls.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: And Jason Carroll, is there any indication that he was specifically targeting Amish people for this vendetta that he had?

CARROLL: Well, here's what police say. The police say that he wasn't intentionally targeting Amish people. What happened was they just simply -- they were convenient. He lives just about three miles from here in Bart, Pennsylvania, and so what he was looking for was a way that he could find young girls. This was a school room that was not secured. He knew he'd be able to get in there, do what he wanted to be able to do.

ROBERTS: Targeted it because it was convenient.

Jason Carroll, thanks very much.

Since August, there have been some two dozen school shootings all around the country. Next in our top story coverage, school security under fire. Is this the beginning of a deadly trend that could affect your child's school?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: And now Melissa Long is here to wrap up our CNN.com countdown. Hi Melissa.

LONG: Hello once again. George Michael has been in the news recently because of his latest tour, but now he's in the news because of his run-in with the law. Police in London say Michael was arrested on drug possession charges over the weekend after he was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car.

And story number one you covered in detail tonight, the deadly shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. Three girls were killed, eight other female students were shot and are in critical condition tonight. And from the police commissioner in the state of Pennsylvania it would take a miracle for us not to lose any more lives today.

ROBERTS: Melissa, thanks very much.

Today's school massacre in Amish country is the third fatal shooting in just a week, another alarming sign that school violence may be on the rise. Within the past hour we learned that President Bush is asking attorney general Alberto Gonzalez and education secretary Margaret Spellings to bring together federal resources to help communities stop school violence. But what's going on now with the security situation in American schools?

Kenneth Trump is a consultant and president of the National School Safety and Security Services. He joins us tonight from Indianapolis. And Mr. Trump, how are we doing this year in terms of school shootings at this point in the school year? Are we better off? Are we worse off?

KENNETH TRUMP, NAT'L SCHOOL SAFETY & SECURITY SERVICES: John, this has been a really tough week for school safety across the nation. At this time of the year it's very rare for us to see a spade of school shootings that we've seen in the past week. Normally when we see a spike it's in March, April, May, around springtime, around the Columbine anniversary. So it's a tough and unusual time to see this spike now.

ROBERTS: What's the total for the year in terms of numbers?

TRUMP: Well, so far we're seeing a spike not only this year, but actually for the last three years. This will be our fourth year of an uptick across the country. This school year we, up until today, we had seven already since last month and also a number of non-fatal shootings that haven't even really hit the radar screen compared to the terrible losses of life that we had beyond that.

ROBERTS: Ken, is there adequate funding for security at schools? Should, in this day and age, every school have guards at the doors?

TRUMP: Well, actually, Congress cut back on school safety funding, cut over 20 percent out of one federal education fund last year. School police officer funding has been cut, safe and drug free school funding. So it makes no sense to me at a time where we're putting more money into protecting airports, monuments and even the Capital Hill itself that those people there have been cutting it back, but at the same time we have to recognize that it's an investment of time as much as it is money.

The first and best line of defense is a well-trained, highly alert school staff and student body, and we need to have that balance where we're not just focusing on test scores, but we're first focusing on safety.

ROBERTS: OK, so on that point, the school shooting in Colorado last week, apparently the shooter was on school property for 35 minutes before he went inside and committed his deadly act. Should that not have raised an alarm?

TRUMP: That's actually something we work with and we've been working with for seven years, John, is trying to get students and staff aware of a stranger. If you have someone in a parking lot for 20 minutes, walking through the school mingling with kids for 35, we want to get students and staff at a point where they are actually alert to that, call, and try to get some intervention before it escalates into a tragedy.

It may be difficult, some incidents we won't be able to prevent, but we can do a much better job at detecting changes in behavior of problem kids who commit violence, as well as looking at strangers on school campus, but it requires constant training, heightened sense of awareness, and it has to be vigilant when we're not just having a tragedy.

ROBERTS: Exactly, vigilance, everybody's got to participate. Ken Trump, thanks very much, appreciate it.

TRUMP: Thank you John.

ROBERTS: We're just minutes away from a "LARRY KING LIVE" that you're not going to want to miss. "Washington Post" reporter Bob Woodward talks about his new book "State of Denial." Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: That's going to do it for us tonight. Tomorrow, which by the way, is exactly five weeks out from election day, we'll consider the cumulative effects of Bob Woodward's new book about the White House and the war in Iraq, leaked intelligence reports, the Mark Foley scandal, new revelations about disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's contacts with the White House and Senator George Allen's pension for verbal mis-ques.

What else can go wrong? Is the GOP experiencing the perfect political storm? We'll have more on that tomorrow. For Paula Zahn, I'm John Roberts. Thanks for joining us. Right now here's "LARRY KING LIVE."

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