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What's Next For Martha Stewart?; Ship Bearing Nuclear Material Leave Libya; Iraq Constitution Negotiations Proceed

Aired March 6, 2004 - 14:00   ET


BOB FRANKEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's 2:00 p.m. In our nation's capital. 10:00 p.m. in Baghdad.
I'm Bob Franken. Ahead this hour on CNN SATURDAY -- drafting a new law of the land. The latest for the interim constitution for Iraq.

And guilty on also charges. What's next?

We'll consider the tough road ahead for Martha Stewart.

Baseball and steroids. Mum is the word from the commissioner but a cloud looms over the game as spring training begins. The latest ahead.

A U.S. ship left Libya today carrying all the known equipment left from Libya's nuclear weapons program. A spokesman for the National Security Council said the 500 ton cargo includes five Scud long range missile, centrifuge parts and other equipment. No word on where the ship is headed.

David Crosby is in trouble with the law. He is charged with possession of a weapon and marijuana. Police say employees at Crosby's hotel in New York found a bag of marijuana and a handgun in a piece of luggage that Crosby had left behind.

One sign of fall from Martha Stewart. Her TV show was dropped by a New York station carrying it. WCBS had already moved "Martha Stewart Living" to an early morning time slot. The "New York Times" and "The Post" say the show is off altogether starting Monday.

President Bush makes a concession to his Mexican counterpart, Vincente Fox. Mr. Bush will ease security restrictions on Mexicans visiting the U.S. for a short time. President Fox has been urging compromises on immigration.

And CNN's Dana Bash is live from Crawford, Texas where the two are meeting.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Bob. And the two met this morning -- for most of the morning we are told at the president's Ranch. They also took a tour of the 1600-acre area. And they came out to face reporters a little while ago. And Mr. Bush spoke actually for the first time on an unrelated matter about the use of 9/11 images in his ads which came out this week. Firefighters, victims families and his Democratic rival have been quite critical of the use of those images. But Mr. Bush defended them saying how his administration handled that day and the war on terror is worthy of discussion.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will continue to speak about the effects of 9/11 on our country and my presidency. I will continue to mourn the loss of life on that day, but I'll never forget the lessons. The terrorists declared war on us on that day and I will pursue this war. I have an obligation to those who died. I have an obligation to those who were heroic in attempts to rescue. And I won't forget that obligation.


BASH: Now, Bob, with regard to the U.S./Mexican relations which are key to Mr. Bush particularly in an election year when he is trying to court the Hispanic vote. President Fox said at the press conference that Mr. Bush agreed to back off an issue that has upset Mexicans and that is the idea that they would be photographed and fingerprinted when they crossed the border. And this is for frequent visitors who cross the Mexican border into the U.S. The White House is saying Mr. Bush did, in fact, say he is committed not to go ahead with that program. But they have still yet to be working out the details. And this is quite an important development because it is something the U.S. is doing for a number of countries as part of their U.S. visitor program, as part of the Homeland Security Department's new move to try to crack down on people come nothing the country. But that in addition to immigration all tops of discussions here with the president and Mr. Fox.

Back to you, Bob.

FRANKEN: And Dana, it's a delicate issue because on the one hand there is the concern among many Hispanics that Mexico was being singled out, discriminated against. But on the other hand there is a concern over security which, of course, is one of the major concerns that's going to be discuss in this election year.

BASH: That's right. There is a concern about security which is why the White House is saying that they are committed not to photograph and fingerprint people who frequently come across the border. But they have to work out the details as to what security measures will be in place in lieu of those measures which are implemented not just for Mexicans but for countries around the world, not only at borders but airports and other places of entry.

FRANKEN: Dana Bash, in Crawford, Texas. Thank you, Dana.

On track. That's how a coalition official describes negotiations on an interim constitution for Iraq. Iraq's Governing Council is discussing differences today after yesterday's delay to sign the document.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has the latest developments live from Baghdad -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bob. While efforts to get that rather problematic interim constitution approved have moved from Baghdad to the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf. Today several Iraqi Shiite members of that governing council made their way to that holy city where they are meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani, probably the most powerful Shiite leader in the country. Now it was, of course, the Grand Ayatollah who has serious reservations about some contents of that interim constitution, specifically a clause that would effectively give three Kurdish provinces in the north veto power over a permanent constitution, which is going to be put to referendum sometime next year.

Now, late last night the governing council put out a statement saying that the weekend would be spent in discussions trying to iron out differences over these problematic clauses. That statement also said that on Monday morning they would be meeting again, hopefully to sign it, but at that point it is not at all clear whether that is going to take place.

Now, this last minute hitch has caused serious annoyance among other members, no Shiite members of the governing council, who say they have spent a lot of time debating and discussing this interim or temporary constitution. And now is not the time to come up with last- minute and in fact after the last minute objections. It's also caused some embarrassment to officials of the U.s.-led coalition provisional authority, who nonetheless have put a positive spin on all of this, saying this is democracy. It's messy, but it is a Democratic process, and that the problems are being discussed in a civil manner and they're confident soon, but specifically when, it's not clear, that the document will be signed -- Bob.

FRANKEN: Ben Wedeman, in Baghdad, thank you very much.

The political path to Iraqi democracy is a long one, of course, filled with a lot of negatives that we have heard about, but there are some who say there are positive factors. The positives including Iraq's pursuit of an interim constitution despite delays, reconstruction money reaching the nation and local leadership taking shape. What's wrong, the security situation and ethnic conflict, both negatives for Iraq.

Phebe Marr is the other author of he book, "The Modern History of Iraq." Also a former fellow at the Pentagon's -- the Pentagon's National Defense University.

We hear a lot about the wrongs, and we hear about the squabble going on over the constitution. None of this is a surprise.

PHEBE MARR, "THE MODERN HISTORY OF IRAQ": Shouldn't be, certainly not. There are some thorny issues to be decided. The Kurds in the north, particularly the three provinces mentioned want a considerable chunk of autonomy. The Shia who are a majority in Iraq want to make certain that whatever government emerges has a Shia majority. And then the Sunni population, which used to dominate the councils of government feel left out, and need to be brought in and given a stake in the future. These are difficult decisions. And we shouldn't be surprised they are taking a long time to iron out.

FRANKEN: One of the things that strikes me is the belief that a U.S.-style constitution, a U.S. Government -- type government is plausible.

There there's a huge cult gap, though, isn't it?

MARR: Certainly. But the political cult chore of democracy, which requires compromise, requires tolerance, not a zero sum game, a certain amount of trust is certainly not in Iraq. But that is not to say over time it can't be developed. Iraq used to have a very strong middle class. We forgotten but it's politics used to run on ideology, on class issues, development issues. We are going to have to work this back a bit from this intense ethnic identity that now predominates.

FRANKEN: But it also had an iron-willed dictator controlling it, and as we have seen in other situations, Yugoslavia being one that comes to mind, that forces people to be together, to create a middle class and all that.

Now we are seeing the disadvantages of the steps towards democratization, wouldn't you agree?

MARR: Looks like it is coming apart. One of the problems is that we not only removed the Ba'ath Party which everybody wanted removed. We removed the pillars of the government and we shouldn't be surprised that there's no national leadership there to take their place. That's why we have providential leaders emerging. But it is going to take time to develop new national leaders. Which of course couldn't take place at any time under the Ba'ath.

FRANKEN: Well, when you have historic hatreds between the likes of the Shia and Sunni, for instance, is it realistic in the time period everybody is talking about to even think they can compromise?

MARR: Not in six months or a year. These are incremental steps. But I would like to say that the so-called hatred between these communities, I don't really see that. There's been a lot of violence in the part of these communities against the government because they did not have adequate representation. But Iraq doesn't really have a history like Yugoslavia of Shia killing Sunnis, Kurds killing Arabs. That has not taken place. We want to make certain in this sort of struggle for power that it does not become an inter-ethnic inter- sectarian conflict.

FRANKEN: Well, you have one other factor, we are running out of time. But the one other factor and that is the presence of countries that surround Iraq, and they have big concern there's. I'm thinking of Iran and thinking of Turkey, all of who have tremendous interest and tremendous apprehensions.

MARR: In a political vacuum at the center, all of those countries will want to have an or in the boat so to speak. And there is plenty to meddle.

FRANKEN: And there's is plenty of opportunity to watch something unfold that is as unscripted as you can find.

MARR: Absolutely. But interesting to watch. FRANKEN: And this is the kind of thing that causes to you have a very fulfilling profession.

MARR: Yes.

FRANKEN: Thank you very much, Phebe Marr. We will switch from what is the compelling international story to what is probably the biggest domestic story, that is concern over the strong reaction to the verdict of domestic diva, and we're talking about Martha Stewart, of course.

Here is CNN's...

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Maria Hinojosa in Westport, Connecticut where Martha Stewart lives. I'm here at Oscar's Diner on Main Street. Much of the reaction, just like the rest of the town, you either love her or hate her. That's coming up.

FRANKEN: Also New York State takes the lead in the argument over same-sex marriages. We have the latest on this hot topic this election year.

And more trouble for the Aristide family as they try to adjust to life in Africa.


FRANKEN: Martha Stewart is described as upbeat despite the likelihood that she will spend at least some time behind bars. Stewart predicts she will be cleared on appeal. Her sentencing is about three months from now but meanwhile the fall out from Stewart's conviction continues. Stock in her company, Martha Stewart Living Onimedia plunged more than 22 percent after the verdict. And there's word that WCBS TV in New York is pulling the plug on her show, "Martha Stewart Living." Stewart's phenomenal rise to prominence made her a respected national figure and the target of critics. So, what's the view in her hometown?

We go to Westport, Connecticut for that, and Maria Hinojosa.

HINOJOSA: Well, you know, it kind of depends. There are a lot of people talking about this. Some people have said I don't want to talk about this at all. And then there are some people like Lisa Bowman who clearly has an opinion, OK?

She wakes up this morning and says that's the T-shirt I'm going to wear, "Free Martha." Why, Lisa, why?

LISA BOWMAN, WESTPOST RESIDENT: Well the T-shirt is tongue and cheek. I do believe that the verdict says it all, and the verdict was correct. I think she did lie about the things she lied about. It evens the playing field for the little guy and the big guy.

HINOJOSA: I thought with you wearing that T-shirt you were going to be saying don't put her behind bars, let her go and she's not guilty. BOWMAN: I do believe she's guilty. I do think she should go to jail? I don't think so it's a victimless crime. She hurt herself actually, and her reputation and everything. She does not have a great reputation in town, but...

HINOJOSA: So what do you get when you are wearing that T-shirt?

BOWMAN: I don't know. I actually bought it six months ago. It's not even a new purchase. It kind of says it all.

HINOJOSA: It does. So some people like that wearing it straight out on front.

Now, Adrian is a new citizen from Romania.

What are your thoughts, Adrian, as you're watching this in your new country?

ADRIANA RICKINSON, WESTPORT RESIDENT: Of course I watch the news like every person in this country. But I think that there are -- there are more pressing issues such as education and healthcare that we should worry about before we worry about the fate of Martha Stewart.

HINOJOSA: You are kind of over it?

RICKINSON: I'm just not concerned, not really interested in what happens with Martha Stewart.


RICKINSON: I'm not interested in celebrities much, about whether they are in the category of good or bad or ugly. I don't really care about that because there are so many other issues that we should worry about, especially as parents. I'm a teacher, for example, I worry about the education. Like I said before, it's very important.

HINOJOSA: OK. Thank you, Adriana.

OK, that's an opinion from a new citizen who says you know what there's a lot more important things going on. No one is talking about Martha Stewart's looks here. So, let's keep that clear.

Now, Jonathan is a contractor here.

And you have some real strong opinions, Jonathan what do you say about Martha Stewart?

JONATHAN MILORD, WESTPORT RESIDENT: I see it as a steady decline of American culture when this arrogance is all over the place. And here we are trying to teach our young people about right and wrong, and all over the news there are adults lying and cheating.

HINOJOSA: What do you say to your boy in a situation like this?

Can you use it as a learning lesson? MILORD: Follow your heart, know the truth. Do the right thing. And treat others as you wish to be treated.

HINOJOSA: And are you thinking Martha Stewart learned her lesson?

MILORD: I believe she will, and it's unfortunate is the bottom line. She has done a lot of good for a lot people. But, you know to get that greedy over $50,000 or whatever, it's ridiculous.

HINOJOSA: Thanks for that. So, a lot of differing opinions. One thing we have heard people saying, and I was talking to teenagers, they say the problem is she lied. And certainly she's been convicted of that, but a lot of young people are saying how are we supposed to see her as a role model when she lies. So, more on that coming up later.

Bob, back to you.

FRANKEN: Maria Hinojosa, in Westport, Connecticut.

We're going to have much more on Martha Stewart on "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS." It looks at the highs and lows of her career. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" airs today at 5:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

With me now to talk about the best case/worst case scenarios for Martha Stewart is Avery Friedman in Cleveland, he's a civil right's attorney and law professor.

And in Minneapolis, criminal defense attorney Richard Herman.

Let's start with you, Richard.



Let's talk about the prospect force an appeal here, slim and none?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, zero. Those are the prospects. Martha Stewart should save her money. She will not -- there are no grounds to appeal this case from my perspective. This judge Cedarbaum was very careful during the course of the case. She knocked out the securities fraud count. She precluded the government from testifying and commenting on the phone logs, speculating whether or not that was part of the conspiracy. Those logs took place after the sale. Judge Cedarbaum was a careful judge. Martha was guilty. She was guilty, and they had nowhere to go during the course of this trial. This will not be overturned on appeal. I guarantee it.

FRANKEN: Well, Avery, one of things that struck me after the verdict is the comment of the juror who said let this be a lesson to other people who believe that they believe arrogantly that they have too much power at the expense of the little people. My question though, is, should that be the basis of a verdict as opposed to the facts and beyond the reasonable doubt standards of a court case?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: The jury your totally missed the point here. When Judge Cedarbaum instructed the jury and she took two hours to explain what the rules are, you nailed it, Bob. The point is you have to look to the evidence and whether or not the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It did, there was no question. In fact, it seemed clear for those commentators watching the trial carefully that those cases, the obstruction and the conspiracy to obstruct went to the heart of it. And you know, the interesting thing is she would have been convicted of nothing if she could have just shut up. If she would have gone on after the FBI and SEC started snooping around. All she had to say was nothing, and there would not have been charges. She would be free today.

HERMAN: Or had she gone to the SEC and said, listen, I got this message from my broker. I sold my stock, the most she would have been looking at is a fine under $51,000. She never would have been indicted. She never would have faced this travesty that she's facing right now.

FRANKEN: There's a plateaued that oftentimes the cover-up is what gets you, not any alleged crime itself and seems what happened here.

HERMAN: That's exactly what got her here. Her cover-up and her lies, and her manipulation. And it's almost as if she thinks she is above the law, master of the universe, no one to answer to. And her attorneys early on, it was like the emperor with no clothes on. They just let her go.

How could they let her walk into that and let her lie with this preposterous version of a $60 stop loss which could never be proven?

FRIEDMAN: They should have never worked with the SEC or FBI. She would have been a free woman today, no question.

FRANKEN: Let's talk now about her lack of freedom. Apparently she will be going to prison. We have heard a lot about the maximum sentence. We all know that's always sort of a fraud when people talk about what the maximum sentence is going to be. You have sentencing guidelines. Most judges hate them but neither the less they're specific.

All the things that are in, I'll start with you, Avery, what would you expect her sentence will be?

FRIEDMAN: We are looking at 16 months, maybe more, maybe less. But the hype about 20 years, and $100,000 fine, I have to tell you, Bob what this judge will do, and she has a reputation of not being tough. She's going look for the minimum sentence. I think you also nailed it. The federal district judges around the nation are angry about being hampered by sentencing guidelines. If Judge Cedarbaum had more discretion you wouldn't even be looking at this amount of time. FRANKEN: If you are looking at a brief period of time, Richard, isn't there going to be a feeling but she was as important and as wealthy as she is, she is getting off easier than she should?

HERMAN: The guideline range comes out to about a level 17, which is like 24 to 30 months, but there are other factors, and it provides the judge with leeway to reduce it, which as Avery said, she will do. And it will probably come in around 12 to 18 months. But she's going to prison. No question about it. And they will look at a factor, she has no prior criminal history. That's major for her.

FRANKEN: Thank you very much -- never try to stop a lawyer from talking.



FRANKEN: But you from still interested, our Web site is your legal link to the high-profile cases making headlines. Feel free to log onto for the latest developments, as well as legal opinions and analysis.

And moving along.

Exiled and unwelcomed. Banished from Haiti, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is struggling to make the adjustment in his new homeland.

And the White House comes out swinging as the 2004 campaign now shifts to the general election. Details straight ahead.


FRANKEN: There's more trouble brewing in Haiti. Rebel leader Guy Philippe asked his followers to lay down their arms. But many opposition fighters say they will not surrender their arms, until supporters of ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide do the same. Others want Aristide brought back. But in the Central African Republican -- excuse meant the Central African Republic, Aristide and his wife are confined to an apartment on the grounds of the president's mansion. And as Jeff Koinange reports, many there are unhappy with his presence.


JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there's one thing of the citizens of the Central African Republic hate more of French troops in their country is the presence of what many deem as uninvited guests. To many here, in one of Africa's poorest nations, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is an unwelcomed distraction they could do without.

We are simply not prepared to accept someone who is considered a predator. Who caused massive suffering and poverty in his own country. We can't accept this dictator here, he says. While experts and pundits debate on why Aristide ended up in this most unlikely of places, consider the similarities between the two countries. For one, the CAR is ranked among the poorest in the world with a violent history of coups and dictatorships. Secondly, it's past governments have widely been described as corrupt, having ransacked the country of precious funds. Haiti has a similar checkered history and past governments have been accused of plunder and mismanagement. And the ironies continue.

During the turbulent 1970s and '80s when Haiti was ruled by a dictator, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier many Haitians fled the tiny island nation and ended up -- you guessed it -- right here in the Central African Republic. General Timothy Malendoma was prime minister during that period. He insists this is not a time to coddle what he calls washed-up rejects.

GEN. TIMOTHEE MALENDOMA, FORMER CAR PRIME MINISTER: The fundamental problem here is that Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a dictator. We have had our fair share and we don't need anymore. Not now, and not here. Let him go somewhere elsewhere he will be welcomed. The Central African Republic is not a dumping ground. But the Central African Republic is a junta, where democracy is a luxury and opposition is a foreign concept. For now at least the government is prepared to take its chances with Aristide as long as he behaves.

LT. COL. PARFAIT M'BAY, CAR, MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION: We made Mr. Aristide understand no case key use the territory of Central Africa, the hospitality of Central Africa to create problems. To create problems for his country by calling on people to revolt, for example or by making regrettable statements.

KOINANGE (on camera): The country's fledging opposition has given the government seven days to find the former Haitian president who now is resigning in that big white palace behind me asylum elsewhere. The government assists they will grant Aristide his wish to stay, if he so chooses. While a imminent showdown looms, many here can't help but wonder why it is trouble keeps following the former Roman Catholic priest even in exile.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Bangui, in the Central African Republic.


FRANKEN: And we have much to talk about gearing up for the November showdown. The latest from the campaign trail, camp Kerry versus Bush/cheney.

And also bidding farewell to one of the most controversial figures in baseball. That still ahead.


FRANKEN: Headlines now. More attacks today in Iraq. Three American soldiers were wounded in a truck bombing in the so-called Sunni Triangle near Baghdad. And seven British troops were hurt, British troops when their patrol was fired upon in southern Iraq. Russian helicopters plucked a team of stranded scientists from deep within the Arctic Circle today after their research station was nearly crushed by a wall of ice. The 12 scientists spent three days in temperatures as low as 38 below zero. The 30-foot ice wall pushed much of the outpost into the water beneath an ice flow. The scientists miraculously were unhurt.

Attorney General John Ashcroft is in a Washington hospital where he is being treated for a severe case of gallstones pancreatitis. Ashcroft was admitted Thursday night and is expected to remain in intensive care through the weekend.

Pointed politics target President Bush this weekend. Democratic candidate John Kerry blasted the president during today's Democratic radio address saying that President Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq unprepared for combat. Kerry cited reports that the troops and their equipment lacked necessary armor to protect them. He says it's not a budget issue since the Bush administration has given billions of dollars in contracts to Halliburton.

Some September 11th families demand the Bush/Cheney campaign pull television ads that feature images from the attacks. They say they don't want any candidate to use the pictures for political purposes. Bush campaign defends the ads as one way to highlight President Bush's leadership. Meanwhile the president is defending his economic policies this weekend. A disappointing report Friday showed the economy added fewer jobs than expected. The president still insists however that the economy is rebounding. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash has more.


DANA BASH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): The president's political team was hoping this would be the jobs report they'd been waiting for. It wasn't. Only 21,000 new jobs created in February. And January's numbers revised downward to 97,000. Bush aides strain to put the best face on a small gain for an enormous political issue.

STEVE FRIEDMAN, DIR. NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: There have been jobs created since -- since we -- since the president's tax package. We're just not at all -- not remotely comfortable with the pace of it.

BASH: Last month, the White House said 2.6 million new jobs would be created in 2004, and then backed away from the rosy prediction. The president's Democratic rival used the forecast to attack his economic policy and credibility.

JOHN KERRY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He thought that he could stand up in front in front of that sign that says "Mission Accomplished." And he thought none of you would notice what's really happening in America, but we do. 21,000 jobs in one month, another broken promise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: This economy of ours is strengthening. BASH: Mr. Bush's campaign message is one of optimism. Insisting his tax cuts is making the economy stronger. But in key industrial states that can make or break the election, experts warn it may not fly.

ED SARPOLIS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It is difficult, if his message is not believable, because every time we get a new story about job increases, it's very small or it's masked with another 4,000 job layoffs by some other firm in some other state.

BASH: Now that they have an opponent, the White House is on the counterattack, saying he'd make things worse.

DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: John Kerry likes higher taxes. He's voted to raise taxes 350 times. He's already told the American people that he would raise taxes within the first 100 days. If you want to destroy jobs in this country, you raise taxes.

BASH, (on camera): President Bush has been pointing to stock market gains, housing starts, and consumer confidence as evidence his tax cuts are working. But Democrats are hammering away at the 2 million jobs lost on his watch. The question is whether Mr. Bush can change the subject. Dana Bash, CNN, Crawford, Texas.


FRANKEN: Now it's time to catch up on the campaigns with our senior political analyst Bill Schneider keeping track here in Washington. Bill, the primaries are over. I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I have enough to do these days.

BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's going to be a campaign. It's sort of already gotten started and it has already turned negative very quickly. The president put out positive ads and needly created a controversy over the use of 9/11 imagery.

FRANKEN: Well you know it's interesting that you mention that off the top. They seem to be sort of getting off to a halting start. I think there was a feeling there might be a cakewalk early on.


FRANKEN: For Bush before the Democratic primaries.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, a lot of -- people still expect Bush to be the winner, but with the latest job figures and with Democrats amazingly united, in my life time which is considerable, covering these campaigns for several decades, I have never seen Democrats this united.

It's not Kerry; it is Bush that is uniting the Democrats. They are absolutely bound and determined to defeat George Bush. And they have rallied around a candidate they believe is electable. They have refused to be distracted. They look to Howard Dean and say well we agree with a lot of what he says but he can't be elected. The Democrats are determined to make this a real race. And it looks like they are succeeding.

FRANKEN: And in campaigns past we all know that the watchword was "it's the economy, stupid." It is one of the watchwords this year.

SCHNEIDER: That is right, the economy is stupid, and it's not good. And it brought down his father and it could do the same to him because these job reports are very disturbing.

Look Americans hear all these signs about the stock market, and about housing starts, this and that. There's only one thing that matters, jobs. That is what this country is about: without jobs, there is no American dream. If the jobs are not produced, then this president really is in trouble.

His father's recovery really started in March 1991 and the jobs came two years later, which is about when we expect jobs to recover. This recovery started in November 2001. The jobs were supposed to start growing in November 2003, where are they? They are overdue, and they are overdue for this presidential election.

FRANKEN: And there are some differences between an economy of today and an economy of just a couple years ago, the word is productivity which is another way of saying as much profit with fewer workers.

SCHNEIDER: That is right, there are two troubling signs, one is the increasing productivity, which means people produce more, and you don't need as many workers. There is the escalating cost of healthcare. That leads employers to be reluctant to hire workers, because they have to pay a very rapidly increasing healthcare cost, and then there's the issue of outsourcing. Jobs being exported overseas, all of those are central to this campaign.

FRANKEN: Well what makes this campaign a little different perhaps than most of them is the fact that domestic considerations are not the only ones that are controversial this time.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. The president has clearly signaled his intention to run as the leader on the war of terrorism what he's trying to do with the 9/11 images is recapture the six or eight months when his presidency was at its peak. His handling of 9/11. The war in Afghanistan, widely supported throughout the world.

I can assure you, I've looked at the data. Most Democrats supported President Bush for about six months. They thought he was a great leader. He is trying to revive that image of his presidency before he really spent all of that political capital on the war in Iraq.

FRANKEN: Well do you think that the campaign against John Kerry, which in effect seems to be, forget calling him a liberal, but that he seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth, do you think that is going to take its toll?

SCHNEIDER: Well it could if he's saying things that people want to hear. He is telling the Jewish leaders one thing about the Middle East and then Arab leaders another thing about the Middle East. That is very damaging.

On the other hand a lot of Americans voters criticize President Bush for being somewhat stubborn, bull headed, he makes fun of nuiance. We don't do nuiance, so a lot of Americans say, you know a president who can see both sides of an issue, who is complex in his thinking, that might not be such a bad idea.

FRANKEN: Well one of the factors a lot of people did not like to talk about the last time around is that George W. Bush won the personality contest over Al Gore. John Kerry is accused as being aloof, somebody who has some deficits in the personality contest. Do you think it is going to be a factor?

SCHNEIDER: Well John Kerry has to be very careful in the debates. He's sophisticated, very knowledgeable. But people like George Bush; I've always said the prize for winning a presidential debate is not getting elected. Because you can win the debate as a lot of people thought Al Gore did, and people don't like you. Well if Kerry looks arrogant and aloof and tends to dominate in the debates, a lot of people will say we are going to stick with George Bush. We like him.

FRANKEN: Well the two sides are quite polarized right now, those who are pro-Bush and those who are anti-Bush. But we have whole several months of advertisements, which are probably designed to blur some of those differences. Do you think that polarization will subside a bit?

SCHNEIDER: I don't think so polarization rarely subsides in an election campaign. I think there is a view, I'm not sure I agree with this view, that there are no swing voters. That America is divided into two warring camps, Republicans and Democrats. And the way to win the election is to mobilize and rally your base and overwhelm the opposition. That's a view some people are said to hold in the White House.

I think there are a lot of swing voters out there. And you have to be careful about rallying debates as both Democrats and Republicans are attempting to do and antagonizing a lot of votes who say the devil with both of them.

FRANKEN: Well you know you made an interesting point a moment ago and that is looking way down the road. That is the importance of the debates, the face to face with George Bush and John Kerry. Am I correct in assuming your belief is that might really be the determining factor?

SCHNEIDER: It could very well be. Kerry is an experience debater. He had a series of debates with his Republican component Bill Wealth when he ran for reelection in 1996, some of the greatest debates in American political history. Since Lincoln/Douglas he could easily dominate President Bush in those debates but he has to be careful not to appear arrogant and not to make himself unlikable in those debates. FRANKEN: But even now, you are talking in terms of President Bush having an advantage in the expectations game in that less is expected of him.

SCHNEIDER: That is right he is not considered a great speaker or debater. If he can hold his own against John Kerry, he wins?

FRANKEN: Do you consider that to be somewhat ironic given the fact that he is the incumbent?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, sure basically look this race is supposed to be a referendum on George Bush. Bush is trying to make it the White House is trying to make it a referendum on John Kerry. He is inconsistent, he flip flops, and all that. But the rule is rarely violated, that when an incumbent in running, the election is a referendum on the incumbent and that is the way Kerry wants to keep it.

FRANKEN: This was a vice president free zone, we've talked this to death with no answer, in ten seconds or less do you have a favorite?

SCHNEIDER: All I can tell you is it won't be Hillary. People are talking about Hillary. If Kerry puts Hillary on the ticket, Kerry he will become a forgotten man. And the election will be all about the Clintons. That is not what he wants.

FRANKEN: It is long list at this point. Bill Schneider, we are going to have this conversation many times.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

FRANKEN: Thank you very much. We also want to suggest you get a back stage view of the rise and fall of one recent presidential campaign when CNN presents "True Believers, Life Inside the Dean Campaign." That's tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern here on CNN.

More headlines across America.

The who's who of baseball converged on Cincinnati to pay final respects to Marge Schott. Pete Rose, top Reds officials, and Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken were among the mourners. The one-time Reds owner is perhaps most remembered for her controversial opinions about Adolf Hitler and minorities. She died Tuesday at age 75.

In central Ohio a high school math teacher in Columbus is charged with abduction over what he calls horse play. Robert Martin admits he bound three female students hands with plastic ties in three separate incidents and duct taped their mouths. The girls did not report the incident but the principal found out through a friend and the teacher could face prison time if he is convicted.

In Wisconsin, the state house approves a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. And backers are concerned a judge could overrule state laws that define marriage as a contract between a husband and a wife. The state senate takes up the proposal next week. The boys of summer and a scandal for America's past time. Playing spring ball in Florida and Arizona. Even with allegations of steroid use among star athletes. Getting an edge on the competition, we will show you how some networks went to great lengths when covering the Martha Stewart trial.


FRANKEN: It's batter up time. Major league baseball throughout the first pitches of spring training this week. But players are taking the field under a thickening cloud of suspicion connected to possible illegal use of steroids by some players. Following a game against the Chicago Cubs in Arizona. San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds kept mum on the issue steroids telling reporters he saw no reason to address anything other than baseball.

Baseball's commissioner has ordered all teams and players not to talk about the issue. But others have plenty to say. Josie Burke reports.

JOSIE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barry Bonds is going through the rituals of spring training without addressing the latest allegations linking him to performance enhancing drugs. It's a topic that's hard to avoid.

JASON SCHMIDT, SAN FRANCISO GIANTS, PITCHER: I don't know anything about it so.

BURKE: One former Bonds teammate did not shy away from the subject during a radio interview this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you telling us in your opinion Andy it looks like he has taken steroids?

ANDY VAN SLUKE, BONDS TEAM MATE: Oh absolutely he is taking them. Without a question. And I can say that with -- you know, with utmost certainty.

BURKE: Both the Giants and baseball have taken steps to curtail the speculation. Last week a team attorney addressed the San Francisco players and advised them against talking about Bonds and steroids. Major league baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a similar directive to the club executives and owners under his direction but no one has silenced the fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so much evidence now against it. They are leaning to the fact that he used it. It's kind of sad in my estimation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That does not necessarily mean that Barry Bonds took the steroids. Maybe he did or didn't. But we'll have to wait and see what comes out.

BURKE, (On camera): Bonds did speak briefly with reporters on Wednesday. He did not talk about steroids but he did allow however that he spent part of Tuesday, " playing with my computer and trying to avoid the TV as much as possible." Josie Burke, CNN, Scottsdale, Arizona.

FRANKEN: And moving to another subject that gives us headaches, something that we spend millions of dollars on can sometimes give us millions of headaches. We are talking about dealing with contractors for home improvements and construction. But coming up today at 4:30 Eastern on CNN, "Dollar Signs." we'll have expert advice to help you avoid contractor nightmares. And we want your questions and comments. Our emails address, and we will also take your phone calls starting at 4:30. The toll free number is 1-800-807-2620.

Fat Tuesday takes on another look in Australia. We will head down under for an alternative look at Mardi Gras.


FRANKEN: Stories from around the world. Americans are being warned by the State Department about the potential for violence in Venezuela. Tens of thousands demonstrated in Caracas against the government of President Hugo Chavez and opposition leaders are demanding a recall vote. Voters in Greece are casting their ballots in national elections that could alter the political reality just ahead of the Athens Olympics.

The socialist party has governed Greece since 1993. And Australians rarely pass up a reason for a party. The latest -- the annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. Thousands ignored heavy rain to dance in the streets or watch from the sidelines.

And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is in favor of same-sex marriages but admits he has been struggling with the issue. We get more on the escalating demand for gay marriages in New York from CNN's Adaora Udoji.


DANIEL HERNANDEZ: We have to start putting together all that stuff. Like we have to right it all.

ADAORI UDOJI,CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daniel Hernandez a real-estate developer and Nevin Cohen an environmental planner have been together six years.

NEVIN COHEN: We built a home together and it's time for us to get married. We want to do that.

UDOJI: But the New York city clerk, citing state law, refused them and other gay couples a marriage license. So, they're suing, using the same argument that persuaded Massachusetts Supreme Court to legalize gay marriages. Backed by Lambda Legal a gay and lesbian advocacy group, they argued the clerk violated their constitutional equal protection rights.

KEVIN CATHCART, LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENCE FUND: Every day terrible injustices occur throughout this state as tens of thousands of same- sex couples are discriminated against because they can't marry. UDOJI: The suit presents a dilemma for Mayor Michael Bloomberg who told reporters he supports same-sex marriage but must uphold the law. All week protesters have rallied against the law. The attorney general reluctantly concluded prohibits same sex marriage. The latest protest, a caravan of gay and lesbian couples applying for licenses on Long Island at times was tense.

COHEN: You are taking away my right that if David was in an emergency room about to die that I would not be able to go see him.


COHEN: Well some one is, and you are the messenger that is telling me, I can't have that right.

UDOJI: The first New York mayor to give that right after marrying 25 same-sex couples in the Village of Newhall was ordered by a judge to stop. Opponents across the country say activists are thwarting the law.

MATT DANIELS, ALLIANCE FOR MARRIAGE: Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don't have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society.

UDOJI: Daniel and Nevin believe ultimately the courts will decide the issue.

HERNANDEZ: I'm hopeful that this will prevail and we will be able to get married.

COHEN: I really expect it. The whole world is changing.

UDOJI: They like so many hope so, but there are also many who hope they are wrong. Adori Udoji, CNN, New York.

FRANKEN: And in a moment we are going to show you the pushing and shoving that sort of marks our profession. Up next, an inside look at the rat race outside the trial of Martha Stewart.


FRANKEN: Well, when the verdicts were announced in the Martha Stewart trial yesterday there were no cameras allowed in the courtroom so if you thought that was bizarre, wait until you see what members of the press who were waiting outside did to devise their own interesting systems to get the word out of the jury's decisions. Jeanne Moos shows us show scarves and signs spelled out the grim details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): All eyes were on the courthouse door when the equivalent of Paul Revere appeared. Instead of wanted by land, this one-upraised arm meant guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guilty! MOOS: Like a coach sending signals to his team, these may look like sports fans, they too were signaling. And all of those numbered signs stood for criminal counts, red for guilty.


MOOS: It may look like they were judging skating, but this is how the judgment against Martha was flashed to TV reporters trying to beat the competition. No wonder one network got it wrong at first.



MOOS: The media signals were so sophisticated they could of made it into one of Martha's publication. Organizing good things but the only good thing for defendant Peter Bacanovic was a single green sign among the red.

HUNTINGTON: He is not guilty apparently on his -- the count regarding making a false document.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Verdict was red the doors burst open. People come sprinting out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was complete mayhem. I never ran so fast in my life. A couple girls were ready to trip me but.

MOOS: The most vigorous signalers were the scarf wavers. Waiting sinfully red scarfs all we can tell you they worked for Fox News Channel. They would not reveal their system. Were there scarf's of a different color if the verdict had been not guilty? One waiver worried she would have become a media joke but who needs a scarf, the guilty verdict was written all over her face. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

FRANKEN: Just another day in the news bix. There is much more ahead on "CNN Saturday." At the top of the hour "NEXT@CNN" today, the racing robots and why the U.S. military is taking such an interest in the competition.

At 4:00 "CNN Live Saturday" in "Dollar Signs" dealing with contractors and tips on how to avoid getting taken by scams. And at 5:00 "People in the News" profiling today's biggest name in the news Martha Stewart. Conviction against her and the impact on Martha's Media Empire. But first a check of the top stories at this hour.


Material Leave Libya; Iraq Constitution Negotiations Proceed>

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