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America's New War: Bipartisan Support of President

Aired September 21, 2001 - 05:13   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN: CNN ANCHOR: We are witnessing in the United States a rare moment of national unity.

Kelly Wallace, back at the White House.

This morning, Kelly, boy, even the president's critics are calling his speech "elegant," "powerful," "fierce."

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Carol, as you know, Washington is normally a very partisan town, but on Thursday night, you couldn't really tell who was a Democrat and who was a Republican -- both sides coming together praising the president, and then the president praising the Congress for its leadership.

As we saw in John King's package earlier, you saw this incredible moment when the president hugging an emotional hug with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle -- the Democratic leader -- a sign of this unity at this moment.

Democrats saying that the president did a very good job explaining to the American people who the enemy is. They also applauded the message he sent around the world. The message is either you are with the United States or you're with the terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: He spoke particularly clearly about who these terrorists are. Sometimes when you say we're going to wage a war on terrorism, people say, well, who are they you're going to fight? He spelled it out, we know who they are, and we know which countries are harboring them. And I think the president made that clear tonight.

And I'll tell you, I think the terrorists and the leaders of the countries that are harboring them are not going to sleep very comfortably tonight, and that's good news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And another sign of these extraordinary times, usually after the president delivers an address to the Congress, a member of the opposition party delivers the response. Well, not this time. Thursday night, the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders stood together -- an unprecedented move -- delivering the response. And Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said the president did a very, very good job preparing the American people for what will be a very long and possibly costly war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Tonight, he gave us a call to action. He said all the right things. He reached out to those that are grieving. He gave a challenge to us here in America. He asked for our patience. And he told those that would heap terror on America and the world that we will not stand for that. We will fight for freedom here at home and all around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And as for that fight at home, President Bush also announced the creation of a new cabinet-level position, the Office of Homeland Security. This would basically focus on coordinating federal, state and local efforts to protect the United States from any domestic terrorism.

And he named Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge -- Republican governor -- you see he was there last night -- to head up this new office -- the Pennsylvania governor announcing that he will be stepping down from his governorship on October 5th. He's a good friend of the president's -- actually someone whose name came up when the president was looking for a vice presidential candidate. He is also a military veteran.

And Carol, he says he accepts this job and will give whatever it takes to this challenge. He also said that he was quite saddened that the Administration even needs to create such a position.

Carol.

LIN: Kelly, yes, a very popular governor, indeed, here in the United States.

On another matter, American Airlines -- America's airlines, I should say, because there are several of them -- are fighting to stay in business. What is the president going to do to help them?

WALLACE: Absolutely. Very interesting. Right after the president's speech, House and Senate lawmakers and White House officials meeting behind closed doors to hammer out a final deal to help the struggling airline industry. The deal included $5 billion in cash that would go to the airlines right away, $10 billion in loan guarantees, and then the creation of this government-backed victims' compensation fund.

This is designed to protect United and American airlines -- the two airlines whose planes were hijacked last week -- from a ton of expensive lawsuits. Basically, any victims and their families who decide not to go to court could be compensated through this fund. The fund would be -- how much they would get would be decided by government officials. Also, Carol, the Administration and the Congress agreeing to have some government insurance for the airline industry -- airlines not getting private insurance right now because many private insurance companies feel like the airlines are just not very safe.

So these measure taken to help this industry, which, as you know, as been losing millions of dollars a day every since those deadly attacks last week.

Carol.

LIN: Sure. We're seeing a lot of empty planes these days.

Thank you very much. Kelly Wallace reporting live this morning in Washington.

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