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CNN Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics Transcript

Location: Unknown

November 3, 2003 Monday

HEADLINE: Preview of Election Days '03,'04; Interviews With John Kerry, Bob Graham

GUESTS: John Kerry, Bob Graham, Ralph Reed, Jehmu Greene

BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, William Schneider, Candy Crowley, Dana Bash, Jonathan Karl, Dan Lothian

A year away from Election Day 2004, Bush strategists are already planning for the best and the worst. Just a month after dropping out of the presidential race, Bob Graham says he won't seek another term as senator from Florida.

WOODRUFF: The Senate is expected to approve the Iraq funding package by voice vote later today.

Well, the '04 Democrats have shown that they are ready, willing and eager to pounce on the president's handling of post-war Iraq. But what would they do right now under the same circumstances? I asked that question today of Senator John Kerry during a break in his campaign schedule in Iowa.


KERRY: I would go to the United Nations with a legitimate diplomatic effort, with humility, with a genuine effort to acknowledge some misjudgments, and to start—to state clearly to the world, the way in which the world has a stake in what is happening, notwithstanding the errors of judgment that this administration has made. I would turn over to the U.N. legitimate authority for the civil reconstruction, for the humanitarian mission, and for the governance. And I would use the U.N.'s good services to help to internationalize this effort so that we reduce the sense of American occupation and the targeting of American troops.

WOODRUFF: And you would do that immediately, Senator?

KERRY: Yes, I'd do that immediately. I'd do it tomorrow morning, today. I think it's long overdue.

The president, Judy, the president has rebuffed three efforts of the United Nations to do this properly. He rebuffed it at the time of the first vote. He rebuffed it when the statue was torn down in Iraq and Kofi Annan offered the opportunity to have help. And he rebuffed it again when he went to the United Nations a few weeks ago and gave his speech.

The president needs to get off his high horse and engage in real diplomacy.

WOODRUFF: So you would leave the number of troops where they are right now, about 130,000?

KERRY: I don't want to add additional American troops to this effort. I want to add Arab-speaking Muslim troops to this effort. And I think that ought to be our first goal.

Now, if after all of the diplomacy and everything else is done, the United States has to succeed here. But I don't believe we can succeed here by keeping this in an Americanized form. And one of the reasons it's Americanized, Judy, is that the president is the prisoner of special interests in this country, the Halliburtons and others who want the spoils.

I mean, on the front page of "The Washington Post" the other day, there was a story of all of the president's cronies who have campaigned and contributed to his campaigns who are getting all the contracts in Iraq. The message that that sends around the world is disgraceful and counterproductive.

WOODRUFF: Senator, what some Democrats have said—that I've heard them say—is that for you, for someone who supported this war in the first place, to then turn around and be critical of the post- war period, their question is: why don't you just stick with your original position rather than going through sometimes fairly tortured explanations of what's changed?

KERRY: I am sticking with my original position. There's nothing tortured at all, Judy. I said to the president, "Mr. President, take the time to build the coalition. Don't go to war because you want to, go to war because you have to. Exhaust the remedies available to you."

I said to the president from day one that the difficulty here is not winning the war, the difficulty is winning the peace. My position, Judy, has been consistent from day one. And in fact, I saw these problems ahead of time. That's the job of a president of the United States.

My position I think was the right one. In fact, I think it would be great if the United States had a president who gets it right at the beginning. And that's exactly what I did.

WOODRUFF: Senator, we're...

KERRY: Can I say one other thing, Judy?

WOODRUFF: If you would quickly.

KERRY: What I'm saying about the money is absolutely consistent. What I learned in Vietnam is, when it's going wrong, get it right. And what I want the president to do is get it right.

I know we have to win. I don't want to cut and run. I want to support our troops till the end.

But you know how you support them? You support them by getting a real coalition together and internationalizing this effort. That's the best support you can give the troops.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry also has choice words for those who suggest his campaign is in trouble. More of my interview ahead.

And I'll ask Bob Graham about his decision to retire from the Senate and whether he helped to doom his party's dream of regaining control.



JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Enough of these guys. What about the 2008 presidential election?


WOODRUFF: Jonathan Karl on potential Republican successors to President Bush five years from now.

And the rap on a younger generation and their politics. Will they rock the vote or skip it?


WOODRUFF: Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham announced today that he will not seek a fourth term in Washington. Graham's decision makes a tough job even tougher as Democrats try to regain control of the Senate.

Fifteen Republican seats are at stake next November. But Democrats have to defend 19 Senate seats. Because of incumbent retirements, four Democratic seats are wide open: Georgia, North and South Carolina, and now Florida.

Senator Bob Graham is with me now from Tallahassee to talk more about his announcement today. Senator, this year you have been at the center of American political life. You were not only running for president, you were out they're critiquing the president's policy on Iraq.

You were speaking about American national security. And now suddenly you're saying, I'm not only not going to run for president, I'm not going to run for the Senate again. What happened?

GRAHAM: Well, it was a very difficult decision, Judy. But I finally felt that I could use the rest of my public and private career better in the private sector to do some things that I am interested in doing, including assisting, further assisting in strengthening our intelligence as a means of securing our homeland.

WOODRUFF: What about the politics of it, though, Senator Graham? You just heard the statistics. You know them better than we do.

You're now the fourth Democratic Senator in the south to announce you're not running for reelection. Are you leaving your party in the lurch in the state of Florida?

GRAHAM: No. Fortunately, we have a very strong group of Democrats running or who have indicated their intention to run for the U.S. Senate. I'm quite confident that the Democratic nominee will be successful next November and will provide outstanding leadership for both Florida and America.

WOODRUFF: So you're confident that a Democrat can win the Senate seat in Florida?

GRAHAM: Absolutely. Democrats won the Senate seat in Florida in 1998, in 2000. Al Gore probably got more votes for president in 2000. Florida is, by any standard, a very competitive state and clearly a state in which Democrats can be elected to the U.S. Senate.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think you're abandoning a sinking ship here?

GRAHAM: Absolutely not. I think it's a very strong ship. And it has a very bright future.

WOODRUFF: Senator, what advice would you have for your fellow Democrats, all nine of them, who are still out there running for president? You were doing that until not so long ago. What are they doing—what should they be doing that they're not doing right now? I'm sure you know the polls that have been done show many Americans aren't even able to name a single one of them.

GRAHAM: Well, I think, first, they need to continue to do what they have been doing. I believe that many of the candidates are starting to break through, and people are identifying and identifying positively with them and with whomever might be the ultimate Democratic nominee.

I think, second, it's important that we have a strong message to send to the American people. It has to be optimistic. We will not be elected and should not be elected just because there's bad news, whether it's in the economy or in Iraq, affecting the American people. We've got to have a positive visionary message of what we're going to do to make America better.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of messages coming from the Democratic Party, let me quote to you what your Democratic colleague from the neighboring state of Georgia had to say over the weekend. Zell Miller not only saying very nice things about President Bush, but he said, "The so-called Democratic national leaders, none of them can come south and try to help a fellow Democrat because this party has been pulled by these special interests with their own narrow agenda so far to the left that they are completely out of the mainstream."

Is that the same Democratic Party that you know about?

GRAHAM: Well, Zell is a friend of mine, and I participated and helped him in his campaign four years ago. I just think Zell has got it wrong.

Zell and I happen to have co-introduced the Democratic version of prescription drugs for the elderly. I think it was a very solid centrist position. Now the Republicans have gone far to the right. They want to privatize Medicare's condition of getting prescription drugs, and are going to offer a plan that, for many millions of seniors, will be seen as grossly inadequate.

I think Zell Miller had it right three years ago when he was proposing a comprehensive and affordable prescription drug plan. I'm afraid his evaluation of that issue and others today is not so thoughtful.

WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Bob Graham being very polite about a fellow Democrat. Senator, good to talk with you. And I know we'll be seeing you again.

GRAHAM: Thank you very much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Well, ahead, more on my interview with current Democratic hopeful John Kerry. This time we talk about White House politics.

But up next, a federal probe gives a struggling incumbent a political boost. We'll preview tomorrow's bitter election for Philadelphia mayor.


WOODRUFF: Democrat John Street and Republican Sam Katz square off tomorrow in the race for Philadelphia mayor in a rematch from four years ago. This time around the race has gone far beyond the usual debates over local politics.


MAYOR JOHN STREET (D), PHILADELPHIA: Don't forget tomorrow is the big way.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): John Street, energizing voters, asking them to give him a second term.

STREET: I think we have a great chance if people who have said that they support this administration go to the polls.

WOODRUFF: Sam Katz, hoping to knock down the Democrats"52-year grip on City Hall.

SAM KATZ ®, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR: I'm interested in cleaning up the politics of a city that for too long has been corrupt and content (ph).

WOODRUFF: Both candidates forced to adapt their messages to the discovery four weeks ago of FBI-planted listening devices inside the mayor's office. Street, tying the bug to a plan to help President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ever had a Republican on the second floor of City Hall, the first order of business would be to get George Bush reelected as president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: Street and national Democrats suggesting the timing of the Justice Department bug was suspicious. Al Gore, who carried Pennsylvania in 2000, with Street's help getting out the vote, knows turnout in Philadelphia is key to winning the presidential battle ground state next year.

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the most powerful things you can do is to make certain that the White House does not succeed in taking over Philadelphia this Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: But Katz rejects any White House link in a city where there are four Democrats for every one Republican registered to vote.

KATZ: George Bush's name is not on the ballot, my name is on the ballot.

WOODRUFF: Federal official leading the probe into possible corruption in city contracts deny political motivation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never discussed this case at any time with the attorney general.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one regrets more so than the investigators on this case that this device was uncovered in the midst of an election.

WOODRUFF: But the exposure of the expanding investigation, the FBI raids of city offices, the seizure of the mayor's bank records, has drowned out other issues. Both candidates punching and counter punching, even with hometown heavyweight heroes.

STREET: The fact that there is an investigation literally does not mean that anybody has done anything wrong.

KATZ: This is a mayor who didn't know his brother was getting a $100,000 a month contract at the airport.

WOODRUFF: The question is, will voters see Katz as an agent of reform and see Street as tainted by the probe, or instead, as its victim?


WOODRUFF: Well, since the discovery that Street's office was bugged, as you just saw, there has been a parade of national Democrats who have campaigned at his side. And the polls now show that the race has gone from a toss-up to a double-digit lead for Street.

When it comes to running for the White House, it's never too early to start planning, it turns out. A case in point, while most Republican faithful are focused obviously on reelecting President Bush, our Jon Karl reports some GOP leaders are already thinking about 2008.


KARL (voice-over): Enough of these guys. What about the 2008 presidential election? Who will Republicans tap as their next presidential candidate? It's not too soon to ask. Some top Republicans are already laying the groundwork for a possible run in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's said that every governor and every senator of either party knows most of the words to "Hail to the Chief." It's kind of a first instinct. But I'll bet that there are eight or 10 fairly significant Republican senators or governors who are at least thinking about thinking about it.

KARL: George Pataki, a Republican who has managed to get elected governor of New York three times, is off to Iowa later this week. He and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani are co-chairing next summer's Republican convention in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pataki and Giuliani have not always had the smoothest of relationships. Face it, they were vying for leader of the Republican Party in New York State. I think they're both going to see the New York convention as an opportunity to showcase themselves.

KARL: Governor Mitt Romney, perhaps the only Republican governor to appear in campaign ads without his shirt on, is another possible candidate. Romney has proven he can win in Democratic bastion Massachusetts.

Then there's Republican bastion Texas and Bush's successor, Rick Perry. If not another governor from Texas, how about another governor named Bush? Name recognition wouldn't be a problem.

Colorado's Bill Owens is another Republican expected to run. And how can you count out California's new governor-elect? The Constitution bans foreign-born presidents, but there's already a move under way to change that. The Bush cabinet has potential candidates too, like Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A highly respected successful governor. I think he'll be somebody who is on the list that people are looking at it.

KARL: Or how about Condoleezza Rice, a Californian who doesn't need to change the Constitution to run? The Senate never fails to produce presidential wannabes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, has a platform that would allow him to campaign nationally very quickly. He's serious, he's studious, he's thoughtful.

KARL: Other senators to watch, Chuck Hagel, Rick Santorum and George Allen. And while the Republican field looks wide open five years out, if one of these Democrats doesn't capture the White House this time, does anyone doubt who will dominate the early speculation on the next battle for the Democratic presidential nomination?

Jonathan Karl, CNN, reporting.


WOODRUFF: We love that looking ahead.

Well, we're going to turn back to this year's race for the White House when we come back. I'll speak with Ralph Reid, a top strategist in the Bush reelection campaign.

And looking at a power lunch. We will tell you how much money President Bush raked in this afternoon when he broke bread in Alabama.

Plus, was Howard Dean a wild man in his younger days? A new book could be revealing.

INSIDE POLITICS back in two minutes.


WOODRUFF: Hello again from Washington. For more INSIDE POLITICS, there's plenty ahead to get your political juices flowing whether you were with us for the first half hour or just joining us now.

Well, folks in New Hampshire probably don't need much of a reminder that the 2004 election is a year away. But they got one anyway. This is the first day for presidential candidates to file to be on the January 27 primary ballot.

Dick Gephardt did just that before any of his major Democratic rivals.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has been looking ahead too.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) One year away from the presidential election, this much is clear:

KERRY: How are you doing with the economy right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's picking up. I've done well. A little slow in the summer, but now it's crazy.

KERRY: I'm glad to hear it.

CROWLEY: A year can change anything. A year can change everything.

KERRY: Well, nobody expected such a situation with the war. And so these things happen.

CROWLEY: A war turned sour and the economy goes bullish. Events have turned the conventional wisdom of politics on its head and back again.

Richard Gephardt has already had a rebirth, prompting a spate of tortoise and hare stories with Gephardt emerging from the Iowa caucuses as a slow but deliberate Deanslayer.

Last winter's presumed front-runner is not anymore. Possible scenario, Gephardt meets Dean in Iowa, John Kerry then beats a weakened Dean in New Hampshire.

Viola! Comeback kid, the sequel.

KERRY: The people of New Hampshire want to know who can be president. And they want to see anybody who wants it, fight for it. And I intend to fight for it.

CROWLEY: The most familiar face in the Democratic crowd is languishing. Yes on war in Iraq, yes on the $87 billion. Joe Lieberman struggles in a primary shaped by anti-war Democrats.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't duck it. I didn't play politics. I voted to support our troops and finish the job.

CROWLEY: Lieberman looks for a respectable third in New Hampshire to take him to the more moderate climes of South Carolina, Arizona, and Oklahoma, where he becomes the not-Dean candidate.

It's a highly competitive position. John Edwards, yet to make the splash his fresh face promise, looks to survive Iowa and New Hampshire with a pair of thirds and make his play in South Carolina as the not-Dean.

Likewise, Wesley Clark. Passing on Iowa, Clark sees a third in New Hampshire as his ticket to South Carolina, where the state's large veteran population crowns him the not-Dean.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't have to say that.

DEAN: You guys are great, thank you.


DEAN: You guys are wonderful. Thanks for all your hard work.

CROWLEY: This is Dean, last November's asterisk, now a front- runner with groupies. He has the most money, the best polls, the only pizzazz, and a strategy of inevitably.

DEAN: We're going to reach out and give 3 or 4 million people who didn't vote in the last election or voted for a third party a reason to vote. And when they vote, we're going to have more votes than the president of the United States. And this time, the person with the most votes is going to the White House.


CROWLEY: All viable strategies and possible scenarios. But the war could go right, the economy could go wrong, or some combination thereof. Anything can happen in a year and it usually does—Judy.

WOODRUFF: Yes, that is true. All right. Candy, thank you very much.

Well, John Kerry has had to grapple with a hard reality that Howard Dean has stolen, as Candy just suggested, some of his thunder in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

I asked Senator Kerry today what happened to his campaign.


KERRY: You know, that's all conventional wisdom talk, Judy. We're doing very, very well. My ground operation here in Iowa—I've had people switching from Howard Dean, from Gephardt, coming up to me and saying, "You're the person who can be elected president. You're the person who can be president."

Yesterday in "The Washington Post," there was a poll that showed I'm the Democrat who runs the closest to George Bush. I run—and 15 -- -- and Howard Dean's 15 points behind. I am not as far behind in New Hampshire today as Al Gore was to Bill Bradley four years ago.

We're doing very well. My campaign is growing. We have the on- the-ground operation. And I'm the person who can challenge George Bush, as I have in the past years, on foreign policy and on his giving in to the special interests in Washington.

WOODRUFF: But Senator, we're talking about a very short amount of time between now and these primaries.

Let me quickly turn to the economy.

KERRY: No, it's not that short. It's a lifetime in American politics.

WOODRUFF: Some would argue that.

Senator, quickly, the economy. All the signs coming out now say that it's turning around. Manufacturing numbers just out today, other economic numbers looking good. Is this turning out not to be an issue for the Democrats with this president?

KERRY: No, because the president's not creating jobs, Judy. This is a jobless recovery. Two hundred and fifty thousand people stopped looking for work last month; 250,000 people stopped looking for work the month before. We need a president who's going to create jobs and hold on to some of the manufacturing jobs here in this country.

Besides the jobs and economy issue, this president has no plan to provide health care to all Americans. He's going backwards on the environment. He is not funding education in America. He's lost us friends and allies around the world.

I hope the economy is strong. I really do. But I'll tell you, if it is, there's no lack of choice for Americans about how to get this country moving again and do better.


WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry talking with me earlier today.

Content and programming Copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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