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The Situation Room
Top Evangelist Who Resigned In Disgrace Speaking Out; Howard Dean Interview; Hundreds of Thousands Of Small Arms Provided To Iraq's Army And Police Forces Unaccounted For
Aired November 03, 2006 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, President Bush launches a weekend campaign marathon to try to keep the House and the Senate in Republican hands. But new polls suggest that there could be a riding wave of momentum four days before America votes. We'll share those polls with you.
Two big name political players will share their takes on the battle for Congress and the hot issues that could make all the difference.
This hour, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. And later, Republican strategist Mary Matalin.
And a top Evangelist who resigned in disgrace speaking out. Ted Haggard denies he paid for sex with a man, but admits to buying drugs from him.
Will this scandal influence voters in his home state of Colorado?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
With just four days left before the mid-term election, there's new evidence that Democrats have a strong shot at seizing control of the U.S. House or Representatives and maybe even the Senate. New polls are out from seven Republican held states considered most vulnerable to Democratic take over. Check out these Zogby/Reuters surveys of likely voters.
In three of the battlegrounds -- Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- the Democratic challengers have a significant lead over the Republican incumbents. In three other states -- Missouri, Montana and Virginia -- the races are neck-and-neck, with polls suggesting the Democratic challenger has a slight edge over the Republican incumbent.
In only one critical race -- that would be the open seat in Tennessee -- the Republican is ahead -- and it's by a 10-point margin.
Let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
He's watching all of this unfold.
I guess this could be very, very decisive if these polls actually hold up.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, what it means is that we're going to be watching half a dozen states with -- pardon the cliche -- baited breath. If you look at our smart board, our what if Senate board, we've allocated the seats the way it looks like the polls are going. We are assuming that the Democrats hold New Jersey -- Bob Menendez over Tom Kean. We're assuming the Democrats hold the open seat in Maryland -- Ben Cardin and Michael Steele.
We're now down to seven Republican held seats. The Democrats would need six of them. Let me just magically do what you've told us already.
In Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse seems well ahead of Senator Chafee.
In Ohio, incumbent Republican Mike DeWine trails Congressman Brown.
And in Pennsylvania, incumbent Senator Santorum trails State Auditor Bob Casey, Jr.
So the Democrats would need three of the four remaining seats.
We've just reported that in Tennessee, Representative Bob Corker seems to be leading Harold Ford, Jr. which means, to take the Senate, the Democrats need to win in Montana, which is very tight between incumbent Republican Conrad Burns and State Senator Tester. They need to take Virginia, where incumbent Senator George Allen, once considered an odds on favorite, is in a virtual dead heat with James Webb, former Reagan Navy secretary. And they need to win Missouri, where incumbent Senator Talent is in the dead heat with State Auditor Claire McCaskill.
So depending on the way the lay of the land goes, they have a shot at the Senate, but -- choose your cliche, Wolf. They've got to draw to an inside straight, run-the table or throw the Hail Mary pass.
I'll leave you for the sports analogy.
BLITZER: It sounds like all of them would work in this kind of a situation.
There are some new economic numbers out showing unemployment now at a pretty good low.
Is that likely to help the Republicans?
GREENFIELD: They've got to feel a lot of frustration about this. Unemployment has dropped to 4.4 percent, the lowest since 2001. That should be a great issue. But as our colleague, Bill Schneider, often says, it's not always the economy, stupid. There are two problems with this for the Republicans. First, overwhelmingly, voters are telling us that Iraq is the big issue. Our polls show that. There's a Gallup Poll that said 64 percent think Iraq should be the top priority, 18 percent the economy.
Second, as the "Wall Street Journal" told us last month, when you ask Americans what's the big economic issue, many of them cite the disparity between rich and poor. The back row numbers, 4.4 unemployment, do not seem to have convinced most Americans that the economic benefits have yet reached down to them. That's the problem.
BLITZER: We'll continue to watch it, Jeff.
Thanks very much.
I love this new smart board, as we're calling it.
Thanks very much for that.
GREENFIELD: You can do your taxes, too, you know.
BLITZER: Now let's go to President Bush and his carefully targeted campaign blitz in these final days before the election.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Bush really engaged in an all out campaign blitz, hitting about a half dozen states before election day.
Now, this is friendly territory for President Bush, the red states, ones that he won two years ago. So what he's doing is really turning on the charm, trying to get the Republican base, essentially to convince them to go out to the polls.
So today we saw President Bush hitting the battleground state of Missouri, then on to Iowa. Saturday it is Colorado. Sunday, Nebraska and Kansas. Monday, Florida, Arkansas and then Texas. That's where he's going to be voting on Tuesday, before he returns to the White House.
And, Wolf, the playbook is quite simple. It is try to appeal to the Republican base by focusing on their issues. That would be tax cuts and national security -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's going to be traveling a lot this weekend.
Thanks very much for that, Suzanne.
The White House calling the allegations against one of the nation's top Evangelical leaders shocking and disgraceful. Today, the Reverend Ted Haggard admitted that he had contacted his accuser for a massage and bought methamphetamine from him.
But Haggard says he never used the drugs and he denies he ever had sex with admitted ex-prostitute Mike Jones.
Jones is standing by his climate of a sexual relationship with Haggard, even after taking a polygraph test that suggested some deception.
Listen to what Haggard told a reporter in Colorado today, a day after resigning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. TED HAGGARD, FORMER EVANGELICAL LEADER: I was so grateful that he failed the polygraph test this morning and -- that my accuser did. And we have gathered together this outside board of overseers. And they're going through the process of investigation and finding out what needs to be done to me.
You know, I've put myself on an extended -- what do we call it?
HAGGARD: Suspension of my senior pastor's role. I resigned from the NAE. Because both of those roles are based on trust and right now my trust is -- is questionable.
QUESTION: Right. Well, and...
HAGGARD: And so...
QUESTION: ... the man who is making the accusations, Mike Jones, did fail part of the polygraph. It showed deception about having any kind of a relationship. He did not fail or did not directly address the aspect of any use of illegal drugs.
HAGGARD: Yes, and all of that's...
QUESTION: And so that's another question that's out there.
HAGGARD: ... all of that's got to be processed through and I'm sure they're going to do that.
QUESTION: And I know that Nicole asked you the other night, but I have to ask you again, have you used meth?
HAGGARD: No, I have not.
And the voice expert that is in Denver that was hired by KUSA...
QUESTION: ... has matched now 18 of the words left on the voice- mail message ...
HAGGARD: Yes. I did call him.
QUESTION: ... your voice.
HAGGARD: I did call him.
QUESTION: And what did you call him about?
HAGGARD: I called him to buy some meth but I threw it away.
QUESTION: And who were you buying the meth for?
HAGGARD: No, I was buying it for me, but I never used it.
QUESTION: Have you ever used meth before?
HAGGARD: No, I have not.
QUESTION: So why...
HAGGARD: And I did not ever use it with him.
QUESTION: And did you ever have sex with him?
HAGGARD: No, I did not.
QUESTION: And at what point did you decide to throw away the meth?
HAGGARD: Right after. I never kept it very long, because it's -- it was wrong. I was tempted, I bought it, but I never used it.
QUESTION: And how did you know that he would sell it to you?
HAGGARD: He told me about it. I went there for...
QUESTION: Because you had that ...
HAGGARD: I went to him for a massage, so -- OK, we're late for our appointment. And so -- but thank you for your work.
QUESTION: How did you find him to get a massage from him?
HAGGARD: A referral.
HAGGARD: From the hotel I was staying at.
QUESTION: The hotel where?
HAGGARD: I've stayed at a lot of hotels in Denver because I write in Denver so -- OK?
HAGGARD: All right, thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ahead, his accuser, Mike Jones, spoke to CNN just a short while ago.
He described his alleged sexual contacts with Haggard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE JONES, HAGGARD'S ACCUSER: So he called me and said his name was Art from Kansas City and he wanted to hook up with me. And so we arranged that. And he came to my apartment.
And we continued seeing each other about once a month for that first year there. And every time he would phone me, it was from a blocked number, so on my caller I.D. I had no idea who was calling. But it didn't even matter to me, you know? He was just -- we were just hooking up.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: So you saw him three times -- or at least you met him three years ago? And then how often?
JONES: Yes, roughly once...
HOLMES: ... a couple times a month?
JONES: Roughly once a month.
HOLMES: Once a month.
Now, without going into detail, you are saying, again, that there was a sexual relationship involved with this?
JONES: We did have sex.
HOLMES: You did have sex?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallagher -- Delia, first of all, just give us some context.
This pastor represented a huge, huge organization, not simply a small church.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a big deal. I mean the National Association of Evangelicals is -- represents 45,000 churches across the United States as a sort of loose umbrella group. And it's certainly significant that he was the president of that. I mean that shows his high standing within the Evangelical community. But also significant that he himself grew a church. I mean these are churches that are sort of run-by the personality of the man himself. And so that certainly has gained him a huge amount of respect in the Evangelical community ...
BLITZER: How is the Evangelical community reacting?
GALLAGHER: Well, they've come out with messages of support for him, in the first instance. I mean certainly, you know, with the allegations sort of changing and the story changing minute by minute, there have been the initial instances of support for this. But all of them have sort of cautioned that, saying, you know, we want to get the full facts out there, because this has ramifications beyond just this one person.
I mean it taints all of the Evangelical community. It taints the pastors and so on. There are a lot of suspicious things going on here and they want to have the truth out there.
BLITZER: There are some ballot initiatives, as you know, in Colorado, involving same-sex unions. There's obviously a lot of political races out there.
What's likely to be -- if you can guess -- assess the political fallout.
GALLAGHER: Well, I don't think it's changing anybody's position one way or the other because certainly Evangelicals have their position on same-sex marriage. There are two questions on the Colorado ballot about same-sex unions and gay marriage. And they feel strongly about those positions. So this isn't going to necessarily change that.
it might get some of the more apathetic voters a little bit more fired up about the issue and get them sort of off the couches and to the voting booth.
BLITZER: All right, Delia, thanks very much.
Delia Gallagher reporting for us.
And Delia, Suzanne Malveaux, Jeff Greenfield, they are all part of the best political team on television.
And remember, for the latest campaign news at any time, you can check out the CNN Political Ticker. An easy way to do that, simply go to CNN.com/ticker.
What a story that is -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Incredible.
BLITZER: That's a shocking, shocking story.
CAFFERTY: Yes. One of these days they'll start telling the truth, all of them, and then we'll know what happened.
CAFFERTY: "The Cafferty File" for this hour.
Some are -- this is a shocking story. Some of America's closest allies think that President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Iran or North Korea. These are surveys that were done in Britain, Israel, Canada and Mexico. And they show just how low the United States image has sunk.
In Britain, Osama bin Laden is seen as the most dangerous leader.
Who's in second place?
President George W. Bush, followed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, along a Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That's quite a group.
When asked if American policy has made the world a more dangerous place, 69 percent of the people in Britain said yes, as do 62 percent of Canadians and 57 percent of Mexicans.
And what do they think about the U.S. war in Iraq?
Eighty-nine percent of Mexicans say the invasion was unjustified, along with 73 percent of Canadians and 71 percent of Britons. Israel, the only country in this poll that supported President Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
So here's the question -- what does it mean when our closest allies think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than either North Korea or Iran?
E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: It means we've got a seriously problem internationally.
CAFFERTY: We really do.
BLITZER: That's what it means.
Thanks, Jack, very much.
And if you want a sneak preview of Jack's questions, plus an early read on the day's political news and what's ahead in the SITUATION ROOM, sign up for our daily e-mail alert. Just go to CNN.com/situation room.
Coming up, Howard Dean responds to President Bush's challenge for Democrats to lay out their plan for Iraq. The chairman of the Democratic Party joins us. That's coming up next.
Plus, it was one wild week out on the campaign trail.
So who wins our Play of the Week?
Bill Schneider standing by to reveal the winner.
And Democrats are accusing Republicans of pulling a fast one involving Iraq and shocking revelations. We'll tell you about the plight of the special inspector general's office and the politics surrounding it.
We're at the CNN election headquarters in New York and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Let's check in with Zain Verjee for a closer look at some other important stories making news -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
An uncle of an American soldier being held in Iraq says the kidnappers are linked to the toppled Saddam Hussein government. Entifad Qanbar, a former Iraqi government official who is the uncle of the kidnapped soldier, says he's been contacted with a $250,000 ransom demand. He says Baathist extremists linked to a former party official are responsible for the abduction.
The U.S. military is reporting just a short time ago coalition troops conducted a pair of raids south of Baghdad, killing an estimated 13 suspected terrorists. The operations come as the military is reporting eight more U.S. casualties in Iraq. Four Marines and four soldiers were killed yesterday. Evacuation U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq in the first three days of this month.
Meanwhile, in the southern Iraqi town of Arah (ph), hundreds of supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr taking to the streets chanting anti-American slogans. The protesters were demanding the release of al-Sadr followers arrested by U.S. and Iraqi troops earlier this week.
National Intelligence Director John Negroponte is repeating the Bush administration's support for the Iraqi government. Negroponte met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad just a short while ago. He's the second high level Bush administration official to visit Iraq this week. The visits follow reports of strains between Washington and Baghdad -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Zain.
Zain Verjee reporting.
President Bush is warning Democrats not to measure the draped in the U.S. Capitol Building just yet. Top Democrats are equally wary about sounding overly optimistic about victory only four days before America votes.
And joining us now from Toledo, Ohio, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Governor Howard Dean.
Governor, thanks very much for coming in.
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Four days to go. Four very long days.
DEAN: The longest four days in our lives, right?
BLITZER: The president sort of has a new line his stump speech that's been going out today.
Listen to this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's still time for the Democrats to tell the American people their plan to prevail in this war on terror. So if you happen to bump into a Democrat candidate, you might want to ask this simple question -- what's your plan?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, well, you're not a Democratic candidate. You're just the leader of the Democratic Party.
DEAN: Oh, I'll be happy to...
BLITZER: What's the Democrats' plan to deal with the terror threat?
Because he says by voting against the surveillance program, by taking steps against the Patriot Act, the Democrats are abdicating, in effect, the war on terror.
DEAN: Well, the truth is that you can't trust the Republicans to defend America. Look at their record. They had identified three countries that were a problem. North Korea just exploded a nuclear weapon. Iran is working on getting one. And we're in a civil war in Iraq. Osama bin Laden is still at large.
I don't think the president has had a plan for national security since he's been in office.
Here's our plan. One, capture or kill Osama bin Laden and put the troops in Afghanistan that are necessary to do that. Two, redeploy our troops in Iraq, bring home the National Guard and Reserve, keep a special operations force in the region to deal with terrorist attacks. Three, cooperate with other countries instead of trying to bully them, so we can get nuclear weapons one of the hands of the North Koreans. And be tougher on Iran.
So, we have a plan. The president hasn't showed us his plan. He didn't have a plan when he got into Iraq. He didn't tell the truth when he got into Iraq, and he doesn't know what to do now that he's there.
BLITZER: He says, though, and other administration officials say that if you simply pull out of Iraq right now, it will, inevitable, become another Afghanistan, a terrorist stronghold, perhaps aligned with Iran, and that's going to further endanger America.
DEAN: First of all, I don't know a Democrat that's talking about pulling out of Iraq right now. I do know a lot of Democrats who don't believe that the president has served us well by going in there.
We know that we have a problem. We know that we have to gradually disengage from Iraq. The president has no plan to do that.
Staying the course with a strategy that doesn't work is not a plan.
Secondly, the president is wrong. I don't think he ever understood Iraq when we went in and I don't think he understands Iraq now. The biggest danger to Iraq is not that it will turn into a terrorist state. The biggest danger to Iraq is that it will partition and destabilize eastern Turkey. I haven't heard a word about that from the president.
Eastern Turkey is a very important American ally. The president had no plan, had no knowledge when he was getting into this that he could result in destabilizing one of our own allies.
BLITZER: The other fear that the Republicans are raising, especially the vice president, Dick Cheney, is that if the Democrats take the Senate, take the House, Americans are going to be paying more income tax.
Listen to what Cheney said in Idaho yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I noticed that now, on the verge of the election, the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi...
CHENEY: Claims, she claims that Democratic leaders love tax cuts.
CHENEY: That only invites another look at her party's record on taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Whose taxes are going to go up if the Democrats have their way?
DEAN: Well, if you'll pardon my expression, Nancy Pelosi is a lot more of a straight shooter than the vice president is.
The fact of the matter is we're not going to -- not only are we not going to raise taxes on middle class Americans, we're going to try to find a way to cut them.
We are, however, going to rescind all those huge tax breaks that the president and the vice president and the Republicans gave to the oil companies when they were charging us $3 a gallon. That's not money that should go to oil companies. That's money that should be used to balance the budget and to restore Pell grants so middle class kids can go to college again.
BLITZER: What's going to happen on Tuesday? What's your prediction as far as the Senate and the House of Representatives?
DEAN: I don't have a prediction, Wolf. I've been in this business a long time. You do not make predictions about this kind of stuff. My prediction is, however, that the American people want real change in this country. They want a new direction. My prediction is we'll give them one.
BLITZER: You know, there's going to be a lot of demoralized Democrats out there. They can taste victory, certainly in the House, almost in the Senate. It's going to be much more difficult in the Senate, as you well know. There's going to be a lot of demoralized, depressed Democrats out there if you don't win.
DEAN: Well, maybe so. But I would hope that that wouldn't happen, because this is a long-term struggle to take back this country so that we can be the great moral leader of the world once again.
We're going to do things a lot differently than we have in the past, should we prevail, should the voters restore Democrats to power.
The first thing we're going to do is avoid the polarization that the president has used to govern for the last six years. We're going to welcome everybody. We're going to respectfully talk to the people who don't agree with us, because they probably have some good ideas about how to run-America, as well. We're going to respect people's beliefs in their families.
We want to heal America and yes, there will be a lot of partisanship, because the Republicans have basically divided this country bitterly in the last six years.
We need -- if you want to make America work, we've got to be in it together.
BLITZER: Governor Howard Dean is the chairman of the Democratic Party.
Governor, thanks very much.
DEAN: Wolf, thanks again.
BLITZER: And we'll set the stage for election day this Sunday with two special "LATE EDITIONS," two. We'll be on at our regular time, 11:00 a.m. Eastern, two hours then. And once again for a special "LATE EDITION," a live "LATE EDITION," 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk, this Sunday before America votes.
Coming up, a very different take. Republican strategist Mary Matalin joins us. She's bound to disagree with a lot of what we just heard from Howard Dean.
Stick around. You're going to want to see this.
Also, shocking revelations of hundreds of thousands of missing weapons in Iraq. And there's a new political fight over that. That's coming up.
We're at the CNN election headquarters in New York and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM.
I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN election headquarters here in New York.
It's already the number one issue on voters' minds -- Iraq. And right now there's another politically charged skirmish going on, stemming from the war. It's got Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers. It's apparently costing a special U.S. government investigator his job.
Let's bring in our Congressional correspondent, Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this special investigator for Iraq reconstruction is considered one of the most feared men in Washington. With the flick of a pen, he has sent some to prison and others have had to pay huge fines.
And if his mandate isn't extended further, his job will end next October.
KOPPEL (voice-over): It was a shocking revelation -- hundreds of thousands of small arms provided to Iraq's Army and police forces unaccounted for. The revelation made just this week in a report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
STEWART BOWEN, INSPECTOR GENERAL, IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION: We don't make any assumptions about where these weapons are in our audit. We just identify where the material weaknesses are.
KOPPEL: Since January, 2004, Stewart Bowen has led efforts to uncover waste, abuse and fraud in Iraq. But due to a provision in a recent bill to fund the U.S. military, Bowen and his team will have to shut down operations next year. Democrats climate Republicans pulled a fast one.
REP. ROBERT ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY: We need to have that auditor operating. It is an outrage that this was taken out by a provision put into the bill in the middle of the night. It is also very typical of the culture of corruption that we've seen in Washington, D.C.
KOPPEL: But Republican Duncan Hunter, who was involved in the negotiations, says that's just not true.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), ARMED FORCES CHAIRMAN: So if you look at the signature block on this, this is the signatures of the Democrats in the Senate and the House who signed off on that. And they all agreed we have to have a date certain. So this wasn't -- there was no -- there was no controversy over this. We said OK, that's a year from now, we have the I.G.'s office gets to work another year.
KOPPEL: In fact, a Democratic Congressional source confirms that key Democrats were on board, telling CNN: "This was not a final nail in the coffin that could not be undone."
KOPPEL: Still, in this highly charged political environment, Democratic lawmakers aren't about to let go of a story that alleges even more problems in Iraq, even, as it turns out, some of those charges are questionable.
And, in the last couple of hours, Wolf, Democrats have fired off even more e-mails, pushing their spin of the story -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that -- Andrea Koppel reporting. We are going to stay on top of this story for you.
Campaign cash tops today's "Political Radar."
A new report shows Hillary Clinton has raised more money and spent more money than any other candidate up for reelection during this, the 2006 campaign. The senator from New York raised nearly $38 million, and spent nearly $30 million of it, even though she hasn't had much of a competition.
Whatever is left over from her Senate reelection campaign can, of course, go toward a possible run for the White House.
Democrats probably figured it was coming. It appears that John Kerry's controversial comments about students getting -- quote -- "stuck in Iraq" now is featured in a campaign commercial. Our Dana Bash reports from Indiana that a new radio ad for Republican Congressman Mike Sodrel tries to link his Democratic challenger, Baron Hill, to Kerry.
We're told the spot accuses Hill of taking campaign donations from Kerry. And, then, you hear Kerry's now famous sound bite on Iraq. Remember, for the latest campaign news at any time, check out our Political Ticker at CNN.com/ticker.
Up next: With only four days left before the midterm election, President Bush visits a key battleground state. But who will benefit by his visit? Will it be the Republican or the Democratic candidate? We will find out in today's "Strategy Session."
And a top evangelist who resigned in disgrace speaking out -- will the Ted Haggard scandal keep Christian voters home on Election Day? I will ask Donna Brazile and J.C. Watts. They are standing by.
BLITZER: It's four days and counting until the midterm elections, and, for tight campaigns, the last-minute strategy right now could mean everything.
For our own "Strategy Session" today, I'm joined by Democrat Donna Brazile and Republican J.C. Watts.
J.C., let me start with you, a quick question on the potential political impact of this Ted Haggard scandal out there. Is it going to have any political fallout, especially in Colorado?
J.C. WATTS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I don't think so.
I think the people that's going to vote for or against an initiative that's going object on the ballot, they're going to vote for it or against it based on what they think about the marriage issue.
I don't think it's going to be what they think about Ted Haggard. So, I suspect it's not going to have any impact. I don't think it will make people stay home, one way or the other, either. So...
WATTS: ... I really don't see it having any impact.
BLITZER: Because, Donna, there is some suspicion, some fear among Republicans, that maybe it could demoralize some Christian evangelical voters, and they may just say, you know what, I'm staying home.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Wolf, prior to this incident, Christian conservatives were already demoralized across the country. This is just a nail in the coffin.
I think it will hurt Republican candidates out in Colorado. Look, he is a mega-preacher. He has a huge following, a large church. And for his congregation to wake up this morning and see this on the front page, I'm sure it's demoralizing.
There are a lot of tight races in Colorado, the gubernatorial races, two congressional races. I do believe this will have an impact.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about a little bit Missouri right now.
It's a very, very close contest in this Zogby/Reuters poll. The Democrat, Claire McCaskill, comes in with 46 percent, Jim Talent, the Republican incumbent, 43 percent, plus-or-minus-four-point margin of error. So, it's basically neck and neck right now.
The president is out there in Colorado -- in Missouri right now campaigning for Talent and other Republican candidates.
J.C., is he likely to be helping Talent or helping McCaskill by showing up in Missouri?
WATTS: Well, Wolf, I was in Missouri about four weeks ago -- three or four weeks ago -- with Jim Talent. And, boy, he's got a good organization. He's got a lot of energy going.
And let me tell you, I don't think they would have invited the president, if they didn't think that he would help. So, I think this is a benefit for his campaign, or at least that's the way the team on the ground saw it. And they felt like that he could make a difference. And there he was earlier today.
BLITZER: You know, it's a risky move, because a lot of other Republicans who are in very close races, Donna, are not necessarily inviting the president into their states right now.
BRAZILE: Well, four years ago, the president racked up a lot of frequent-flyer miles, I think 17 trips by this time.
The fact that he's not going into the two largest media markets speaks volumes about the limitations of this president to really rally anything -- anyone other than his base.
So, I think Claire McCaskill has learned how to mobilize rural voters. She has run a terrific campaign. And I do believe that the edge will go to McCaskill on Election Day.
WATTS: But, Wolf, keep in mind, you know, this was the firewall that -- that was trying to be created was Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia.
And, so, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the president is in Missouri trying to, you know, get Jim Talent over the hump. And I do think that it will be beneficial, or, again, they would not have invited him in there.
BLITZER: Let's look ahead, Donna, to Sunday. We're expecting the verdict in the first Saddam Hussein trial, the mass murder trial, to come in some time on Sunday, two days before America votes.
Everyone assumes he is going to be found guilty and given the death sentence. Do you think that's going to have an impact on Election Day back here in the United States?
BRAZILE: I don't think anything will change the topic at this late date.
Look, most voters in this country know that Saddam had a long rap sheet against him before they took him to trial. I think voters are going to be reminded of the number of troops that have lost their lives, and the fact that we still don't have an exit strategy for those who are still there serving. So, I don't believe it will in any way impact the elections on Tuesday.
BLITZER: What do you think, J.C.?
WATTS: Well, and I don't believe it will impact the elections on Tuesday, but for a different reason, Wolf.
I -- I think, just like in Missouri -- I mean -- I'm sorry -- just like in Colorado, I think people have made up their mind what they think about the issues up there. I don't think that the evangelists, that is going to matter.
Saddam Hussein, people know -- they feel like they know who is going to protect this country, who is going to defend the country. If that's what they're looking for, I think they're going to vote Republican.
And those who think otherwise, they made up their mind. They will probably vote Democrat. So, I don't...
BRAZILE: Well, J.C., I...
WATTS: I don't think it's going to have -- I don't think it's going to have any impact. I think people have made up their minds.
BRAZILE: J.C., I think the American people also know that which party has a plan for success, which party will have the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission's put into place.
I don't think this is about one party being able to protect us any greater than the other. Both Democrats and Republicans are equally convinced that we can protect this nation from any future terrorist attacks.
WATTS: Well, Donna, I will remind you now...
WATTS: ... now being -- having a plan is not being against the president's plan.
BLITZER: We're going to -- we're...
BRAZILE: Well, I wish the president had a plan.
BRAZILE: And perhaps most Americans would -- would believe him.
But, right now, we have no exit strategy, and no one is paying attention to the generals on the ground, who clearly want us to have a plan for success.
BLITZER: All right, guys, we got to leave it right there.
Donna Brazile and J.C. Watts, thanks to both of you.
And, as our viewers...
WATTS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... know, they are part of the best political team on television.
And, remember, for the latest campaign news at any time, check out our Political Ticker at CNN.com/ticker.
And please be sure to tune into CNN prime time next Tuesday, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, Lou Dobbs all will join me as part of that best political team on television. We will take you through election night, the races, the results, the ramifications. It all starts Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. You will want to stay with us for all those results.
And, coming up: the strange U.S. Senate race where polls show the Democrat is behind and the Republican doesn't stand a chance. We will tell you what's going on.
Our next stop: Connecticut, where Senator Joe Lieberman's declaration of independence started a bipartisan revolution.
Plus, which party will control Congress? It may be up to the winner of Bill Schneider's "Political Play of the Week."
Stay with us for that.
And, from CNN election headquarters in New York, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Two new polls out today in the closely watched Connecticut Senate race. A Research 2000 poll shows incumbent Joe Lieberman, who is running as an independent, 12 points ahead of Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont. A Reuters/Zogby poll shows Lieberman ahead by the same margin. The Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, is in single digits.
Our Mary Snow is following this Connecticut showdown. And she is joining us now from Greenwich with more -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this has been one of the most unusual races this election year, and one of the most dramatic.
Senator Joseph Lieberman has been a Democrat for 18 years in the Senate, but because he is running this year as an independent -- as you said, he is leading in the polls -- he has promised to remain a Democrat, should he win.
So, this race will not change the landscape of the Senate. However, anger over the war has changed the landscape over this race.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Praise the lord.
LIEBERMAN: And praise the voters of Connecticut.
SNOW (voice-over): Senator Joseph Lieberman thanked Hispanic clergymen for endorsing him in what he called a pivotal moment of his difficult campaign.
The 18-year veteran senator is leading the polls as an independent candidate against Ned Lamont, the political newcomer who launched a stunning upset, and defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary.
LIEBERMAN: I'm encouraged, because the poll shows that I'm continuing to enjoy support across party lines from people who are fed up with the partisanship in Washington.
SNOW: The main issue has been Iraq, an issue that put Ned Lamont on the map.
NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I got in this race about a year ago because I really believe that George Bush is driving this country into a ditch.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
LAMONT: And Joe Lieberman has one hand on the steering wheel.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SNOW: Lamont has tried to portray Lieberman as being too cozy with the Bush administration. And even though Lieberman has tried to distance himself from the White House, it is clear he gets the president's support.
BUSH: This summer, we saw what happens when a Democrat rejects his party's doctrine of cut and run. Senator Joe Lieberman, a three- term Democrat from Connecticut, supports completing the mission in Iraq. ALAN SCHLESINGER (R), CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Alan Schlessinger. I'm...
SNOW: Republican Alan Schlesinger has barely registered with voters. So, Lieberman has Republican and independent support that's put him 12 points ahead in the polls, despite the fact colleagues, like Senator John Kerry, seen here last month, traveled to Connecticut to support Lamont.
Lieberman portrays his challenger as a one-issue candidate who is inexperienced, but is not taking anything for granted.
LIEBERMAN: But this ain't over. I mean, I'm running against a guy with -- with very deep pockets who is willing to say and do about anything to get elected.
SNOW: In this final push, Lamont is bringing it back to the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
LAMONT: A vote for Joe Lieberman means more war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Lamont is touring the state in his bus, hoping for a late upsurge, putting another million dollars of his own money into the campaign.
LAMONT: We thought it was important, you know? Joe is hitting us pretty hard on TV right now. We have got to be able to respond. But, more importantly, we have got to give people a voice, a voice for real change in Washington, D.C.
SNOW: And, with all the money, there has been an ad blitz.
Actor Paul Newman is in the latest ad for Ned Lamont. And Lamont himself has personally spent roughly $12 million on this race.
However, the Lieberman camp has outspent Lamont, putting in about $14 million. One of the Lieberman latest ads shows voters where to find him on the ballot, since he will be running as an independent -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much.
And Lieberman keeps promising voters in Connecticut that, if is he reelected, he will align himself with the Democrats in the new Senate, not the Republicans.
And, as we wrap up the final week before America votes, we have seen more than a few campaign gaffes in recent days. But has anyone done themselves any favors politically?
Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, they're back, just in time to claim the "Political Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): For years, we have been hearing that politics is all about rallying your base. It's the Karl Rove strategy: Mobilize an army of red voters and overwhelm the opposition at the polls.
What about swing voters? Ah, they're like a third sex. Who needs 'em? Well, guess what? They're back.
AMY WALTER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The big concern is, what happens with these independent voters, these ones who, two years ago, four years ago, were evenly divided, in terms of their support between President Bush and John Kerry? And, now, these folks are incredibly angry. ` SCHNEIDER: More and more voters are registering as independents, particularly in the fastest growing states, like Arizona, New Hampshire, Florida, and Nevada. This year, nobody is ignoring them.
BUSH: Oh, I know there are Democrats and independents in a great state like Georgia who do not share the views of the Democrat leadership in Washington. You may not agree with Republicans on every issue.
SCHNEIDER: Independents were always around, but, for the past 12 years, they have split their votes pretty evenly between the two parties, like in 2004. Independents were swing voters who didn't swing.
This year, they're swinging, behind the Democrats, 2-1, not because they're liberals -- because they want change. Independents are driving this campaign, and picking up the "Play of the Week" along the way.
SCHNEIDER: Now, will independents stick with the Democrats? It depends on whether the Democrats deliver change. Remember, they're nobody's base. That's why they call themselves independents -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Schneider reporting for us -- good work, Bill. Thanks very much.
Up next: Jack Cafferty and your e-mail on this hour's very provocative question: What does it mean when some U.S. allies think President Bush is a greater threat to peace than Iran or North Korea?
We will be right back.
BLITZER: Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He is here with "The Cafferty File."
CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf.
What does it mean, the question this hour, when our closest allies, including Britain, think that President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than either Iran or North Korea?
Michael in Sioux Falls, South Dakota: "It's because of his rhetoric on just about everything. He can demand an apology from John Kerry, but he won't apologize to the many Americans who he insults on a regular basis by saying, if they are not in the support of the war in Iraq, then, they are in support of terrorism."
Daisy in Circle Plain, Minnesota: "It means our allies are very astute. An equally astute president would recognize the time is long past for a my-way-or-the-highway approach to world affairs, recognizing that everyone has something to offer, and the help of each is sorely needed."
David in Deerfield, New Hampshire: "It means we made a huge mistake electing him the first time, and a gigantic and unforgivable mistake in reelecting him. Our friends and allies recognized this some time ago. Americans are just now figuring it out."
Carol in Bloomington, Minnesota: "Jack, it means they're correct. Bush scares the hell out of me, too. He continues to portray himself as the cowboy invader in chief, yet, everything he touches turns into a disaster. And no one is ever held responsible."
Bill in Alabaster, Alabama: "Jack, it means the rest of the world has not lost touch with reality, unlike the White House and its residents."
And Jarrett in western Florida writes: "Now, now, honey. I'm in THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf and Jack."
CAFFERTY: I'm not sure what that means.
CAFFERTY: I don't think I want to know what that means.
Join us this weekend. We got a special election edition of "IN THE MONEY." We're going to talk about the elections, how they will affect the economy, how the economy has affected the elections, and why a record amount of money is being spent on all this stuff, even though we have new campaign finance laws in place.
"IN THE MONEY" airs tomorrow at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00. That's Eastern Standard Time.
BLITZER: We will be watching.
CAFFERTY: Thank you. BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.
And still to come: a longtime ally of the Bush camp, Republican strategist Mary Matalin, on the battle for Congress and her party's chances of losing the House and the Senate -- Mary Matalin, all that, coming up.
BLITZER: Getting back now to one of our top stories -- top evangelical leader Ted Haggard has denied he had sex with a man, but did admit to buying drugs from him, though he says he never used them. His accuser, a former gay prostitute, Mike Jones, is standing by his claim of a sexual relationship with Haggard, even though he took a polygraph test that suggests some deception.
Standing by with the reaction online is our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, Pastor Ted Haggard was in a documentary called "Jesus Camp," which was about kids at a evangelical summer camp.
And a clip of the film posted online at YouTube.com has now been viewed some 23,000 times. In the clip, the pastor talks about the Bible being the final word on homosexuality. The clip is also being passed around on liberal blogs today.
There's another clip of Haggard online today from Beliefnet, which is a spirituality Web site. And, in this clip, Ted Haggard talks about marriage, a successful marriage, being between two people of the opposite sex. And Beliefnet says that, if these accusations are true, then this is a sign of his hypocrisy. If they are false, it shows the cruelty of the accusations.
Now, we're also finding online people who are part of the New Life Church that Haggard was fronting. He was the pastor there. And people are having a hard time believing the allegations -- one person saying, "There is no way that I can believe that this happened."
He also ran a couple of youth groups -- or there were youth groups at his New Life Church. And they have MySpace pages, high school kids and college kids. And we're finding similar sentiments at both of these groups at MySpace, things like, "We know this isn't true, and we will stand by the church, no matter what."
At La Shawn Barber's blog -- she is a well-read conservative blogger -- she talks about being a Christian. She says that he is basically, Haggard, finished as a Christian leader. But, because he is a Christian, he will be forgiven -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jacki, thank you.
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