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Ivan Pummels the Gulf Coast; Kerry Speaks to National Guard Officers; Bush's Administration -- Gloomy Forecast For Iraq; Women's Vote in Swing States?; Amendment For a Foreign-Born President?

Aired September 16, 2004 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Flooded, powerless, and blown away: Ivan pummels the Gulf coast and storms on to other targets.

John Kerry follows in the president's footsteps, speaking to National Guard officers. Will he press a hot button Bush avoided?

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With your help, we're going to carry Minnesota and win a great victory in November.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush on a battleground while his administration addresses a gloomy forecast for Iraq.

A doctor-turned-Senate candidate is haunted by past allegations of malpractice and fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What it is, is it's about the politics of personal destruction.



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

In the next 90 minutes, we'll bring you all the main political stories of the day, but, first, an update on the devastation from Hurricane Ivan and where the storm is heading next.

Meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is tracking Ivan at the CNN Weather Center.

Hello again, Jacqui.


We're having some serious problems with tornadoes at this hour. We just had a report of ground truth and some damage in Rockmart in Georgia. That's in Polk County. We told you about that warning an hour ago. And now we have a bunch of brand new warnings. And a lot of these are within this line for Madison and Oglethorpe County in northeastern Georgia, DeKalb County in northeastern Alabama, Western Lamar, Eastern Pike and Spalding County and west central Georgia.

You can see all of these warnings beginning to line up behind me. And this one we're particularly concerned about for Griffin. It's heading on up to the north/northeast. And that could be moving into the Atlanta suburbs if this holds together. So, we have confirmed reports of tornadoes in some of these warnings now. And the other thing to keep in mind is that sometimes they are difficult to see in hurricanes because of the tropical rains that are coming down. The rains can be so very, very heavy that you don't always see the tornadoes.

You really need to heed warning on these and get to the lowest level of your home to an interior room away from doors and windows and take cover when these warnings are issued. I do want to show you where the watches are in effect. This is the biggest line of concern right now, where we're seeing a lot of rotation in it. Right along I- 20, you can see extending down towards Macon right now.

The tornado watch also includes parts of South Carolina, also extending all the way down into the Florida Panhandle. We're watching the storm now. It's taking more of a north/northeasterly track, as we did expect it to, weakened significantly. We're down to 70 miles per hour. So, it is officially a tropical storm, but still a very strong tropical storm, with those 70-mile-an-hour winds. It is forecast to continue to slow down as it moves on up to the north and the east and continue to weaken as it does so.

Once we get through tonight, the winds will no longer really be an issue and it's going to be a very significant flooding threat we think as it moves all across the Appalachians and slows down. We also have Hurricane Jeanne weakening as it moves across Hispaniola. And the forecast track for Jeanne has it heading toward the Bahamas and then heading up toward the United States by Tuesday. So, we'll keep a very close eye on Jeanne.

And believe it or not, Judy, we've got another little wave which is coming in off the coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands right there on the end of your screen. And just read the National Hurricane Center's discussion. And they think this could become a tropical depression later on for today -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: There's no end to these hurricanes.

JERAS: They just keep coming.

WOODRUFF: They sure do. Well, it may be a Tropical Storm Ivan, but it's still doing an awful lot of damage. Thank you, Jacqui, very much.

Hurricane Ivan we know now has killed at least seven people in the Florida Panhandle. The storm unleashed tornadoes, as you just heard from Jacqui, fierce winds on the Gulf coast, blowing boats ashore and tearing roofs off of buildings. Many streets and homes are flooded, drenched by Ivan's pounding rains and storm surge.

At last report, more than one million people were without power in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Many residents have been warned to stay in their homes, rather than risk the dangers of downed power lines and fallen trees. Work crews are out assessing the damage in the storm-ravaged areas, including Panama City, Florida.

CNN's Rick Sanchez is there.

Hello, Rick.


Boy, I'll tell you what, it has really been a long night and a difficult morning as well for the people in this entire region, not just Panama City and Panama City Beach but the entire eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle. In fact, still, people are checking the satellites to see if there could be some other tornado warnings, something that has become the norm in the last 12 to 16 hours.

I'm going to venture to go outside here just a little bit to show you what the wind is still doing even after the tornadoes passed. Difficult to walk. You can see what's going on with the surf. Very strong surf still as it continues to push the water. It's moving counterclockwise. The rest of what's left of this Tropical Storm Ivan into this area right here. Obviously, that's a beach that's been depleted somewhat.

The erosion, they're going to have to deal with that. And it may end up costing them an awful lot of money all over again. I'm going to try to get over here and get away from that because it's just too difficult to stand there. Maybe I can get a little shelter over here. The most difficult part of this storm without question is what's happened in Calhoun County, where four people have died as a result of a very serious tornado. We're being told that maybe an F-2 or an F-3 tornado that came through there, it cut a path about a mile long, and not only in Calhoun, but in several other areas.

But it was in Blountstown, a little community where there was a trailer park community where four people lost their lives. Also in Marianna County, it cut through there as well. Two people have died here in Bay County as well and yet a third in Gulf County. So, seven people dead thus far as a result of this. And most of it ironically enough here in this region of the Panhandle, which is extremely far from where the eye actually made contact this morning -- Judy, back to you.

WOODRUFF: All right, Rick Sanchez on the Panhandle of Florida reminding us that even with all the warnings, storms still very dangerous. Seven people dead. Rick, thank you very much.

We are going to have more storm updates throughout INSIDE POLITICS. And of course, stay with CNN 24/7 for complete Ivan coverage.

And now we turn to the rough and tumble of the presidential campaign. At this hour, Senator John Kerry preparing to speak to the same National Guard group President Bush addressed earlier this week. We plan to carry a portion of his speech live. Let's get a preview though, now, from CNN's Frank Buckley. He is in Las Vegas, where John Kerry is.

Hello, Frank.


John Kerry speaking to the National Guard association within the half-hour. We're expecting him to go after President Bush pretty forcefully on his management of the war in Iraq. The other day after President Bush just spoke to this organization, Senator Kerry said that it was his view that the president -- quote -- "glossed over" the extent of the problems in Iraq. We expect to hear more of that theme from Senator Kerry here before this organization and more of that forceful critique of the president's handling of the war in Iraq as we've been hearing on the campaign trail like we did yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president made a mistake in rushing to war without a plan to win the peace. He made a mistake in rushing to war without understanding the complexity of Iraqi nationalism and tribal feudalism. He made a mistake of rushing to war without knowing for certain what the outcome would be with respect to our allies. He made a mistake in not even guarding the ammunition dumps that are now being used with the weapons that are attacking our kids.


BUCKLEY: What we don't expect from Senator Kerry is for him to attack on this issue, the controversy surrounding President Bush and his National Guard service more than 30 years ago, and questions about whether he fulfilled his service. Of course, President Bush and his camp are saying that he did get an honorable discharge and did fulfill his service.

Kerry is leaving the attacks on that to Democratic operatives to keep that issue alive. They would like to see this issue drive up President Bush's negatives in the same way that the swift boat controversy drove up Kerry's negatives. But analysts suggest it's unlikely that this issue will actually sway undecided voters on their vote.


THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think it's unlikely for the National Guard and Vietnam to move swing voters by Election Day. In the end, what's really critical, is this is a referendum on George Bush and his management of the economy and the war in Iraq, or is this a referendum on whether John Kerry can be trusted to keep us safe from terrorism? The former elects Kerry. The latter elects Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BUCKLEY: And again, we do expect Senator Kerry to go after President Bush on the issue of Iraq. We have an excerpt of some of the comments that he'll be making in his speech.

Senator Kerry is expected to say: "You deserve a president who will not play politics with national security, who will not ignore his own intelligence while living in a fantasy world of spin, and who will give the American people the truth."

Of course, the Bush campaign saying it's Senator Kerry who's had the inconsistent position on Iraq, and that's not the kind of leadership they say is required when the U.S. is at war -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley waiting for John Kerry to make that speech to the National Guard group. John -- Frank, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Meantime, in Minnesota today, President Bush fired back at Senator Kerry, while his administration addressed that newly disclosed intelligence assessment on Iraq.

Here now, our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

Hello, Suzanne.


It is a new national intelligence estimate prepared by the intelligence community. It lays out various scenarios of what could happen in a postwar Iraq. And senior administration officials confirm that it is not all good. This is a 50-page document completed late in July. It was circulated among top White House officials just within the last couple of weeks and it lays out these possible scenarios, some of them sounding quite dire, talks about internal conflict, increased violence and even perhaps a civil war erupting inside of Iraq.

I spoke with National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack earlier today, who talks about the NIE in broad terms because there are parts of it that are classified. And he goes on to say that: "This NIE discusses different possible scenarios for Iraq's political and economic future over the course of 18 months, starting July. The NIE makes clear that the future of Iraq will be determined by a number of factors, including the nation's economic progress, the effectiveness of their political structures and stability." He goes on to say: "We must be ready for more violence, increased violence, tough challenges. Is there a threat of civil war? Yes."

But he also says: "We would make the point that prior to the war there were many dire scenarios out there, threat of mass migration, starvation, manmade disasters, as well as political ones like civil war, but that has not come to pass."

Now, President Bush campaigning in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, not talking about this document specifically. As a matter of fact, the Bush administration very much focusing on the positive aspects of the future of Iraq.


BUSH: In Iraq there's ongoing acts of violence. This country's headed toward democracy. There's a strong prime minister in place. They have a national council and national elections are scheduled for January.

It wasn't all that long ago that Saddam Hussein was in power with his torture chambers and mass graves. And today this country is headed toward elections. Freedom's on the march.


MALVEAUX: Now, Judy, White House officials take it one step further saying they believe that this document underscores the need for the administration to stay the course and to make sure that those Iraqis, make sure that they have a democracy, fight for democracy and the security, of course.

You may recall that the last national intelligence estimate that was completed back in October of 2002 dealing with Iraq was whether or not it had weapons of mass destruction. That, of course, later received a great deal of criticism for its inaccuracies. Well, White House officials emphasizing that this document is not a fact-finding mission, but rather what they call a think piece.

But just to let you know the political context here, we are told by the Kerry campaign, expect to hear Senator Kerry talk about that particular document, that report, again making the case that he believes the Bush administration has failed in its Iraq policy and he points specifically to that intelligence document -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Suzanne, that's right. And we do expect Senator Kerry to start speaking now within just a few minutes to the National Guard group in Las Vegas. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thanks.

Two different takes on the outlook in Iraq and the fallout for the presidential race, that's ahead. I'll talk with Republican Senator John Warner and Kerry adviser and retired Air Force General Merrill McPeak. And later, the party chairmen go head-to-head on the presidential race, the polls and campaign critics.

And is Schwarzenegger for president a step closer to becoming a reality?

With 47 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


JERAS: I'm meteorologist Jacqui Jeras.

We have some new information on tornado warnings for Western Lamar, Eastern Pike and Spalding County in Georgia and also for Madison and Oglethorpe County, also in Georgia. Our storm track has this moving quickly on up to the north at about 60 miles per hour. And the FasTrac system showing that indication of rotation here. It's moving very, very quickly up to the nor and could be arriving in the Atlanta area as quickly as about half of an hour from now, so about 10 before the hour. This is a radar- indicated tornado. We don't have reports of ground truth at this time.

But remember sometimes tornadoes are very difficult to see in tropical weather systems like this. So, again a tornado warning for Lamar, Pike, Spalding, Madison and Oglethorpe County until 3:30. And the Atlanta area could be in the path of this storm about one half an hour from now.

We'll have more on Ivan in just a little bit.

INSIDE POLITICS continues after a break.


WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, a highly classified U.S. intelligence report presents several bleak scenarios for Iraq, the worst of which is a civil war in Iraq before the end of next year.

Joining me now from Saint Louis with his take on this new intelligence report on Iraq's future and more, Kerry adviser and retired Air Force General Merrill McPeak.

General McPeak, the administration allies say the president has leveled with the American people on Iraq. What's your view?

RETIRED GEN. MERRILL MCPEAK, U.S. AIR FORCE: Well, I don't see how they could say that.

The president saw this national intelligence estimate a couple of weeks ago, according to the report in "The New York Times" this morning. And it, as you say, paints a very grim picture. We've known this is a mess for some time. It appears that it's quite likely to get worse. And yet the president made a very upbeat speech at the Republican Convention a couple days ago in Las Vegas to the National Guard, painted a very positive picture: They're on the road to democracy et cetera, et cetera.

Look, I've commanded troops in combat. The least he could do is level with the troops here, let alone coming clean with the American people. This is a wall-to-wall disaster that the president has engineered our way into here. And we simply have to get rid of this administration and get started on fixing it.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something President Bush is saying today in a speech in Minnesota, General McPeak. He's repeating his criticism that John Kerry has been inconsistent on Iraq. Today, he said he's probably had about eight different positions on Iraq.

MCPEAK: Well, to me the president has kind of flip-flopped his way over to where he's standing pretty close to where John Kerry has been for some time. I mean, Senator Kerry says we ought to increase international participation there, ought to speed the training of the domestic Iraqi security force and so forth.

And the president, who started some distance away from that, has come over to where I don't see much daylight between the two positions. The fact is, anybody who thinks it's going to be simple to get out of this mess is a fool. And John Kerry is no fool. So, the question for the American people, really, is which of these two guys has some real shot at pulling these strategies off. And it seems to me that's a pretty clear-cut case that only a new administration can do this.

WOODRUFF: But again, the president is saying John Kerry has been for the war. He's been against the war. He said he's been for the funding, increased funding and against increased funding. Where does John Kerry come in?

MCPEAK: Well, I think that some of that is like that picture of John Kerry and Jane Fonda sitting on the lawn in the '70s. It's been edited. It's been cropped.

For me, I've listened to John Kerry. And his position has not been all over the place. He has said that he would, yes, vote to give the president authority to act. But in everything else, he himself would have act exactly differently than this administration. Now, that may not be good news to Mr. Bush but that's the fact and it seems to me he's been consistent about it all along.

WOODRUFF: General McPeak, even "The New York Times" editorial page, which is no friend of George Bush's, as recently as last Friday said, what exactly would John Kerry do differently? It talked about his having a blurry message. At one point, it said simply promising things are going to turn around under a new administration isn't enough.

MCPEAK: Judy, look, this is a hard problem. This is a very deep hole that this administration has dug. It is not going to be easy for anybody, including Senator Kerry, to get us out of this mess. But the real question here for the American people is, do you want to continue the administration that dug this hole and seems intent on digging deeper or do you want to bring in a new crowd that will have the potential at least to start with a clean sheet of paper and try to work our way out of these difficulties? For me, that's a pretty easy choice.

WOODRUFF: General Merrill McPeak, retired from the Air Force, we thank you very much. It's good to see you.

MCPEAK: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

In just a moment, we are going to talk with the senator who is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner. He'll be talking to us about Iraq. Meantime, both President Bush and John Kerry spending a lot of time in Pennsylvania. We have some new polls helping explain why. Coming up, we'll look at those numbers.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily," new polls from the showdown state of Pennsylvania show a still closely contested race, with President Bush holding a slight edge. In the Keystone State poll, Bush has a one-point lead among likely Pennsylvania voters in a two-way match up with John Kerry.

A Quinnipiac survey of likely voters offers identical numbers. Its poll of registered voters gives Bush a three-point lead in Pennsylvania. The vice presidential candidates are out campaigning in some top battlegrounds today. Dick Cheney participated in a roundtable discussion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before heading on to a rally in Reno, Nevada. John Edwards wrapped up a two-day swing through southern Ohio with a stop in Portsmouth. His next stop, a fund-raiser in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Kerry campaign launching a new healthcare ad in battleground states. The spot responds to and rejects the president's charge that Kerry's healthcare plan would create a big new bureaucracy.

George Bush and John Kerry each attacking one another over the war in Iraq today. The next blast may come just minutes from now, when Senator Kerry speaks before the National Guard Association. We're going to go live to Las Vegas for a portion of that address.



MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Miles O'Brien at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Coming up at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, Hurricane Ivan is now a tropical storm, but it's left major destruction and at least seven deaths in its wake. The big worry now throughout the Southeast is flooding.

Two Americans and a Brit the latest to be kidnapped in Baghdad. They were seized by gunmen from a house in an upscale neighborhood.

And controversy continues over those CBS reports about President Bush's National Guard service. Anchor Dan Rather admits there are legitimate questions about the documents his network used in a hotly debated report.

Those stories and much more later on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."


WOODRUFF: Welcome back to our 90-minute edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We've moved up our start time to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. We've expanded to 90 minutes until Election Day to keep you up to date on what's going on throughout the campaign.

But first, an update on what is now Tropical Storm Ivan. The storm is churning away from the Gulf coast, leaving behind major flooding damage and power outages. The worst of Ivan was felt in the Florida Panhandle. Seven people were killed there.

Let's find out where the storm is now from our meteorologist, Jacqui Jeras.

Hello again, Jacqui.

JERAS: Well, hello, Judy.

We are getting close to Montgomery, where the center of circulation is right now, and a tropical storm, which is good news. It has weakened. And further weakening is expected throughout the day for today.

And our biggest concerns are going to be some flooding rains and also the potential of tornadoes. We've been having tornado warnings going on all morning, all afternoon long. And the ones that I mentioned earlier now expired at the bottom of the hour.

The most recent one is Madison and Oglethorpe counties. That warning has been extended now until 3:45. This is a radar-indicated tornado at this time.

The rainfall rates have been coming down very heavy, as much as two inches per hour. This is Doppler radar estimated rainfall totals -- or rather Viper rainfall totals, estimated from when Ivan made landfall. And take a look at some of those heavy amounts just near the Pensacola area and on up to the north, 10, nine, up to seven inches extending on into parts of central Alabama.

And the forecast rainfall is expected to still be within maybe 10 to 15 inches within the path of this storm. As it moves on up to the North and East, we're now seeing a turn with it. That means we are expecting it to stall out as well. And so, that means the flooding is likely going to be spreading throughout much of the Appalachians.

There's the latest forecast track here now. On Ivan, you can see that it's going to be moving up towards eastern Tennessee by your Friday morning. And then as we head into Sunday, only moving into parts of West Virginia and Virginia here. So, it really stalls down the later into the forecast period that we get.

Now, this Hurricane Jeanne, still a hurricane at this point. But it has been weakening as it's been moving across Hispaniola. It is expected to move west and then turn up to the west-northwest and head towards the Bahamas, where hurricane watches are in effect.

This is still a long way before Jeanne could be affecting the United States, maybe as early as Monday or Tuesday next week. But right now the best forecast estimate has it staying offshore for Florida, but possibly heading towards the Carolinas. So, we need to be on high alert once again. And you can see the intensity forecast does have it as a hurricane, maybe a Category 2 early next week -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's a lot to keep track of. Jacqui Jeras, thank you very much.

Well, Ivan was an unwelcome visitor in the tourist haven of Biloxi, Mississippi. That's where we find CNN's Kathleen Koch. She has an early assessment of the damage.

Hi, Kathleen.


Well, it's very hard to believe that more than 13 hours ago the Mississippi Gulf coast was getting hammered by hurricane-force winds, pelted by heavy rains. As you can see, most of the businesses along the coast are still closed, very much boarded up. They took no chances.

When it comes to damage, there were trees down on the Gulf coast, lots and lots of branches lost. Some 71,000 people still have no power. But amazingly, most businesses fared quite well.

I'm here right now with Bernie Burkholder, who is president and CEO of Treasure Bay Casino, one of the 12 casinos that dot the Gulf coast.

How did the casino fare, Bernie?

BERNIE BURKHOLDER, CEO, TREASURE BAY CASINO: We were very fortunate with this storm. We had minimal damage, as did a lot of the rest of the community. So, I'd say, all in all, Biloxi and Treasure Bay fared well.

KOCH: Your casino behind us is very vulnerable. You told me it's been damaged severely in other hurricanes and tropical storms. What made the difference?

BURKHOLDER: We've made several improvements to the moorings and the ramps, which I'm sure helped. But I think the most significant factor was the fact that this storm side-stepped just to the east a little bit and missed Biloxi. And we didn't -- we didn't take the direct hit that we could have taken.

KOCH: Indeed, Biloxi and the entire Gulf coast very fortunate.

These casinos are hoping to open soon. They provide some 14,000 jobs for the Gulf coast. And of course, Mississippi's governor is here as we speak in the eastern part of the county, which had more severe damage, surveying it and promising much federal aid on the way -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kathleen Koch reporting for us from Biloxi. Kathleen, thank you very much. And now joining us, Republican Senator John Warner, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator Warner, you and I were trying to have a conversation before the program began. We had a little satellite problem. And we're glad to have it restored.

Now, I want to ask you, first of all, you said you had not had a chance to see it. But I do want to ask you about the story leading off "The New York Times" today because Senator Kerry is referring to it in a speech that's about to get under way to the National Guard Association.

Essentially, the story is about the national intelligence estimate. It came out in July, gave a pessimistic outlook on the war in Iraq. The question people are asking, Senator, is, are the American people getting a realistic honest appraisal of the war given this assessment and given the reality on the ground?

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I feel that the American people are receiving as fast as we can give it to them -- and I say we -- you're an important factor as a member of the media -- the facts relating to that war, good and bad, sorrowful and here and there. There's a lot of good things going on with those troops over there. They're helping out the Iraqi people achieve their freedom. So, I think the American people are getting adequate information to make up their own minds about that controversial war.

WOODRUFF: Senator, without in any way taking anything away from what American troops are doing, anyone can look at the statistics now, the number of American soldiers dead, the number wounded, the Iraqis being killed, police recruits -- today you had two more American hostages taken. I just spoke with retired Air Force General Merrill McPeak. He called Iraq a wall-to-wall disaster engineered by this president.

WARNER: You know, I would caution anyone like General McPeak. I knew him, served with him in the sense when I was in the Congress. We've got men dying and fighting and women also every day. And if we've got ideas on how to better run the war, there are means by which particularly retired military can convey those ideas, if necessary directly with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Because I recall it being a Marine myself in Korea and reading the press. The press can be very troublesome, particularly when people -- when you see certain situations on the ground, and it's differently described back at home by some armchair strategist.

I think our president has leveled with the people, looked them square in the eye and said from the very beginning this is going to be tough going. And the men and women of the armed forces are (INAUDIBLE) their responsibilities as fine as any generation that ever wore the uniform.

WOODRUFF: Senator, are you confident at this point that the elections in Iraq can take place on time as scheduled in January? WARNER: Judy, I follow that very closely. As of this hour, I'm told they're on schedule.

Working with the Senate leadership, we're bringing up next week to the Senate, secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Negroponte, our ambassador there, to listen to them very carefully. And that will be a question that will be examined, I can assure you.

WOODRUFF: One other thing, Senator. The Bush administration this week, as you know, proposing to shift spending in Iraq from reconstruction to security. We're learning that of the $18 billion that was approved by Congress for reconstruction, only about a little over $1 billion of that has been spent. A fraction of the money from other countries.

Even your Republican colleague, Senators Hagel and Lugar, are raising questions. Senator Hagel saying -- he's been harshly critical saying it's a zone, it's moved into a dangerous zone. Senator Lugar saying it's exasperating not to see this money spent the way it should be.

WARNER: Well, Judy, let's go back to the president's decision, which is a wise one. Let's take the money that the Congress has authorized and appropriated and shift it to where it's needed. That is, improving the security such that the contractors can perform their work and they are better -- a better, safer environment for the men and women of the armed forces and all others. That's the fundamental decision.

We'll have time to go back and see why money wasn't expended more quickly to refurbish the infrastructure. But the decision to send it to where it's needed today, I commend the president. It was a wise one.

WOODRUFF: So, you disagree with Senator Lugar and Senator Hagel?

WARNER: I said the decision to send that money to where it's needed today, improve the security, is a correct one.

WOODRUFF: We hear you loud and clear.

WARNER: You bet.

WOODRUFF: Senator John Warner, and we appreciate your time.

WARNER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Especially coming back to us after we had that problem. Thanks very much. It's always good to see you.

Senator John Kerry has begun his remarks at the National Guard Association. We're going to go to that in just a moment.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: John Kerry has begun his remarks to the National Guard Association in Las Vegas, the same group President Bush spoke to just two days ago. Let's listen in to some of what the president -- what Senator Kerry is saying.


KERRY: ... during and after mobilization, end of story. That's what I believe.

Right now, thousands in the Guard still aren't getting their paychecks on time, and some don't get them at all. So, people are calling home from the front lines. And instead of talking about how the kids are doing in school, they're talking about how to cut through the red tape, how to pay the bills. That's wrong, and I believe we have to change it.

Right now, too many in the Guard still don't have the body armor, though the general informs me that they're beginning to catch up and they're now getting more of it, the night-vision goggles and radios that they need to do the jobs. Too many are using outdated equipment and hand-me-downs from the regular forces. And they're wondering if today will be the unlucky day when something doesn't work. That's wrong, and I believe we have to change it.

Right now, those who serve in the Guard can't receive retirement benefits until age 60. And this administration can find the money to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut, but we can't find the money to be able to find the funding to lower the age to 55, even when we're spending $200 billion to go it alone in Iraq. I believe that's wrong.

And for those who've served in active duty in conflicts abroad, we have to change it and permit retirement at 55.

Right now -- right now -- right now, members of the Guard who are serving overseas are losing paychecks here at home. Some are passed over for promotions and returning to find the jobs that they once held are gone. I think that's wrong, and we have to change it with a different policy about how we create jobs and protect people who serve their country.

Right now, our troops -- just an honest assessment -- common sense, which is an American value, says that we are overstretched, overexpended...

WOODRUFF: Our apologies. Apparently some satellite problems coming out of Las Vegas. We'll try to figure out what -- what is going on, because we do want to bring you several minutes of John Kerry's speech, as we did President Bush's speech before the National Guard group on Tuesday. We're going to try to get that straightened out and get right back to it as quickly as we can.

Meantime, it is a candidate's worst nightmare: potentially damaging allegations from the past. Ahead, a look at the charges and countercharges in the Oklahoma Senate race. We'll be right back.



WOODRUFF: John Kerry speaking to the National Guard Association in Las Vegas. The same place President Bush spoke two days ago.

John Kerry saying the president has not been -- has not leveled with the American people, has not leveled with them about the challenges Americans face in Iraq. And as you just heard him say, the president, in his words, diverted resources from the war on terror in Afghanistan, the effort to find Osama bin Laden, in order to focus on Iraq.

Well, turning now to some domestic politics, the very tight Senate race in Oklahoma could turn on how voters react to allegations stemming from a medical case 14 years ago. The outcome in Oklahoma also could be a deciding factor in which party controls the Senate.


TOM COBURN (R), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Politics, I can assure you, is no fun.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Not for former Congressman Tom Coburn, at least. Not these days. With Election Day looming large, the Republican Senate candidate finds himself embroiled in controversy, battling old charges of Medicaid fraud.

COBURN: You're taken an unfounded accusation from a sleazy, liberal dot-com and making it something real.

WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, reported that 14 years ago, Coburn, an obstetrician, sterilized a woman without her consent during surgery to relieve an ectopic pregnancy. Coburn didn't report the sterilization to Medicaid, saying the cost would not have been covered by insurance since the woman was under 21.

The woman later filed suit. But Coburn insists she repeatedly asked to be sterilized.

COBURN: And the fact is that she's sitting there dying with a belly full of blood. And had I sterilized her before when I she asked me to, she wouldn't have gotten in that place. So, when she asked me to do that this time I did. And I'd do it again.

WOODRUFF: Before the story broke, polls had Coburn locked in a tight race with Democratic Congressman Brad Carson. Now Democrats see an opening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Coburn's character and integrity are absolutely in question.

WOODRUFF: But Coburn remains defiant... COBURN: If you think my character is wrong, go do the hard work to prove it.

WOODRUFF: ... as defiant as he's been for most of his political life. From the moment he swept into Congress on the wave of the Gingrich revolution, through this campaign, calling for the death penalty for abortionists, and casting the contest as a battle of good versus evil.


WOODRUFF: An update on the Oklahoma Senate race.

Well, is it a dead heat again in the race for the White House? A new poll out this hour may surprise you. We'll examine the latest numbers and get reaction from the chairman of the Democratic and Republican National committees.

Plus, we're also tracking the stormy weather. An Ivan update minutes away.



ANNOUNCER: Ivan moves inland: We're tracking the storm as it tears through the Southeast.

A campaign clash: The Democratic and Republican Party chairmen face off.

The women's vote: Will it be the deciding factor in the battle for crucial swing states?

Arnold for president? One Congressman's trying to make it happen.



WOODRUFF: If you were with us for the first hour, welcome back. If you're just joining us, we are 90 minutes now. But we have a jam- packed half-hour of political news still ahead. But first, the hammering that the southeastern United States is taking from a major storm.

Ivan has now been downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane after it made landfall overnight in Alabama as a Category 3 hurricane. Other parts of the Gulf coast and Florida and Mississippi were socked with powerful winds, rain and tornadoes. At least seven deaths are being blamed on Ivan. All of them in Florida.

More than one million people have lost power. And flooding is a major problem across the storm zone. We'll have more on Ivan's power and its path ahead.

Turning for now back to politics, two polls out today offer new evidence that President Bush's convention bounce may have faded. A just-released Pew poll shows Bush leading John Kerry by one point among likely voters nationwide. The two are dead even among registered voters. And a New Harris poll shows Kerry edging one point ahead of Bush among likely voters nationwide.

The president is trying to fend off any Kerry rebound by repeatedly attacking the senator on a variety of fronts, including his position on Iraq. CNN's Elaine Quijano is with Bush in Minnesota -- Elaine.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Minnesota, President Bush used a new line in his ongoing attacks against what he says is Senator John Kerry's shifting position on Iraq.

The president's comments came during a rally in St. Cloud, Minnesota -- the first of three stops today on his bus tour through the state. President Bush reiterated his criticisms of Senator Kerry, trying to reinforce the notion of the Senator as a flip-flopper, who voted for the war but against funding for troops.

And today the president added a new line, citing exempts of a recent interview Kerry did.


BUSH: Yesterday in a radio interview, he tried to clear things up. He said there were no circumstances, none, under which we should have gone to war. Although he said his own vote to go to war was the right vote, and it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. The radio interviewer concluded, "I can't tell you what he said."


QUIJANO: In response, the Kerry campaign says the president has been sending misleading signals on Iraq, that the president's strategy has taken America in the wrong direction, and campaign aides say that the president needs to, quote, "come clean on what's happening in Iraq."

Now, today, here in Minnesota, the president also criticized John Kerry on the issue of healthcare, which is the focus of his second visit here in Blaine, Minnesota. Now, the Kerry campaign says that President Bush does not have room to criticize John Kerry on that particular issue. As for the president, he wraps up his day here in Minnesota with a rally in Rochester.

Now, Mr. Bush is in a tight race in this state, which has actually voted Democratic in the last seven presidential races. Now, in a recent CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, in a three-way contest with Ralph Nader on the ballot, the president and Senator Kerry were tied. Now back in 2000, Mr. Bush lost Minnesota by just two percentage points, and Bush campaign aides say today part of the strategy is for the president to hit those counties where he had support four years ago and try to sway what the president calls discerning Democrats and hopefully tip the balance of votes in the president's favor come November.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, Blaine, Minnesota.


WOODRUFF: As you heard live on INSIDE POLITICS a short while ago, John Kerry is out pressing his case against the president's Iraq policy. Speaking to the same National Guard group that Bush addressed two days ago, Kerry cites a newly disclosed intelligence assessment offering a largely gloomy outlook in Iraq. And he says Americans deserve a president who, quote, "will not ignore his own intelligence while living in a fantasy world of spin," end quote

The Democratic National Committee is taking its own shot at Bush on Iraq and the president's Mission Accomplished speech in a new ad. It begins airing tomorrow on national cable outlets and in 11 showdown states. The cost to the DNC, we are told, about $7 million.

Well now, let's talk to two of the candidates' top allies: DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie. Gentlemen, very good to see both of you.



WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about what's being said out on the trail in these ads in a minute, but Ed Gillespie, let me come at you first with these new poll numbers. First of all, a new Pew Research poll out showing the race a dead heat. A Harris poll showing even -- in a dead heat, John Kerry one point ahead.

Has the bounce that your campaign got after the convention, and a race that Matt Dowd of your campaign said to me Monday has the president in the lead, is all that now gone?

GILLESPIE: Oh, I don't think it's all gone. But we said -- and I know Matthew said it; I said it after the convention, you know, 11 points was artificially high. We knew that all along. And we knew that the race would narrow. It's the nature of where the country is today.

But most importantly, we've come out of the convention with momentum. And that momentum continues as the president talks about an agenda for the future, talks about the need to continue to create jobs in our economy and to win the war on terror, to reduce our alliance on foreign oil and sources of energy and make healthcare more affordable.

Those are the things we're talking about -- simplify our tax code. A very positive agenda, and that's what's propelling us to good polls, by the way, in many of the battleground states when you look at what's going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, other battleground states -- going very well.

WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie says they've still got the momentum and they're looking good in the battleground states.

MCAULIFFE: Well, I would cite the Harris poll out today, which as you look at the 2000 presidential campaign, was the most accurate one -- today has us up one with likely voters.

John Kerry's message is working. He's out traveling across this country, hitting hard, talking about the issues of George Bush's failed presidency on jobs, education, healthcare. We've learned today what a failure as it relates to Iraq, and the president of the United States continually misleads the American public, sugarcoats the issue in Iraq.

And his own intelligence experts say, as you saw on the front page of "The New York Times" today that we have a disaster on our hands. George Bush has got to tell the truth. Quit sugarcoating these issues. Hit it hard. Talk the truth. And I think that's why George Bush is in trouble and John Kerry's moving today.

WOODRUFF: How do you answer that, Ed?

GILLESPIE: Well, the fact is the National Intelligence Estimate laid out a range of possible outcomes in Iraq, including a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario.

And I remember -- I mean, I understand pessimists like Terry and Senator Kerry thinking that it won't go right. That's the way they felt -- by the way, they said the June 30 deadline for a transition to a self-governing Iraq and interim government was unrealistic. It was realistic. They said Iraq could never pull together a national Congress, and they did bring them together. They said there would never be a temporary administrative law that would recognize the rights of individuals and women and religious freedoms, and they did.

So, the pessimists have been wrong throughout in Iraq. Obviously there's a long way to go to continue to make Iraq a self-governing and stable country in the heart of the Middle East, but...

MCAULIFFE: But wait, Judy. There are three outcomes in that report today if you read it. Not one of them is good for the United States of America. There is nothing optimistic. These are the president's own intelligence advisors.

We have a mess in Iraq. The insurgents today are in many parts of Iraq. We have moved out of Afghanistan. We now read today that al Qaeda is moving training camps into Afghanistan. We still don't have Osama bin Laden, which George Bush said dead or alive.

Osama bin Laden is our biggest threat. Where is Osama bin Laden? And he continually deals with these issues in Iraq -- and he's spending $200 billion, and he has created a mess in Iraq today.

WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie...


WOODRUFF: ... answer, because...

GILLESPIE: ... the fact is Terry's just wrong in terms of the assessment and in terms of what the options are. There are good outcomes possible for us in Iraq, and it's important that we achieve those good outcomes.

The fact is Senator Kerry, in terms of Iraq, I've been trying to figure out his position. It is constantly changing. Yesterday on the Imus show, he went beyond contradiction to utter incoherence. I would give you 100 bucks if you could tell me whether or not he thinks it's a good thing for Saddam Hussein to be in jail instead of in power, or if he would have had to do it over again would he have done it. I can't tell anymore.

WOODRUFF: And in fact...

MCAULIFFE: John Kerry will tell the truth in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: ... Terry McAuliffe, the president was just...

GILLESPIE: What is it?

WOODRUFF: ... was just ridiculing John Kerry. We just heard part of his speech. The audience was laughing. He was saying we don't know where he stands.

GILLESPIE: Maybe you could tell us now?

MCAULIFFE: First of all, sure, I can tell you where he stands on Iraq. Today, as you know, our allies are trying to move out of Iraq. We just read that Poland is now threatening to pull out. Countries are not going in to help us. They're pulling out. We're not going to get a new international force in there until John Kerry is president...

GILLESPIE: John Kerry's stand -- what is it?

MCAULIFFE: ... because George Bush -- George Bush misled us. He embellished the intelligence data to get us over there. He had no plan for what to do with peace. He said Mission Accomplished. We've lost 1,000 soldiers over there and $200 billion for what?

GILLESPIE: If you can find Senator Kerry's policy in that answer, by the way, I'll give you 100 bucks.

WOODRUFF: All right. Very quickly...

MCAULIFFE: ... George bush continually lies. He's caught up in many lies this week...

WOODRUFF: All right...

MCAULIFFE: ... Guard service, and now in Iraq, he can't face reality.

WOODRUFF: All right. A very quick question on the National Guard story. CBS is now acknowledging that these documents may be -- that there's a dispute, and they are continuing to report.

But let me just quickly cite something Dan Rather said. He said, "There are those who have criticized our story, but they've never criticized the heart of it, the major thrust of it, that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the Guard and, once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service."

GILLESPIE: Judy, nothing has -- nothing...

WOODRUFF: Do you have information to the contrary to put this story to rest once and for all?

GILLESPIE: This story is at rest once and for all. Terry's going to talk about it every day between now and November. He's welcome to. The American people aren't looking backward; they're looking forward.

But that said, the fact is nothing has repudiated the central fact that President Bush served honorably; 50 service points, what I understand, is required. President Bush racked up 300 service points. He was on active duty as a fighter pilot for over a year in the Air Force.

And you know, the fact is that you can keep talking about it, it's fine. The American people know the fundamental truth: The president served honorably, was honorably discharged for his service.

WOODRUFF: Very quick response, and then I want to ask you something different.

MCAULIFFE: First of all, I don't know about CBS. You can talk to Dan Rather.

The issues that I'd raise and the points that I raise have nothing to do with CBS. It is George Bush didn't serve. Ben Barnes came out and talked about it the other day. In the AP lawsuit that came out this week, four major news organizations this week have reported that George Bush didn't serve.

Where is his band of brothers?

GILLESPIE: Ben Barnes said exactly what he said in 1999?

MCAULIFFE: Why did not one person come out and talk...

GILLESPIE: He said exactly what he said in 1999.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you -- let me cite to you...

MCAULIFFE: John Kerry's people stand with him and fought with him. You can't find anybody who saw George Bush. WOODRUFF: Let me cite to you what Tony Coelho, who ran the Gore campaign for a time in 2000 -- said some very tough things about the John Kerry campaign. Nobody's in charge. He said they're fighting. There's no clear message. He talked about different factions in the campaign.

How do you answer this criticism from a fellow Democrat?

MCAULIFFE: I could care less what people are saying. Nobody in American cares who's sitting in what chair at the Kerry for President Campaign Committee. They care about what John Kerry -- what is his message? What is he going to talk about, and how he's going to create jobs, fix healthcare and education.

Who cares who's in a campaign? The issue is -- and obviously something's working, because today we are now one point up in the Harris poll. We're doing great in the battleground states. So, obviously our message is working. We've got new people in the campaign. Good. Bring them on, bring them in, let's get more people out there.

But if I were George Bush, an incumbent president that can't break 50 percent today, obviously he's failed America and it's not working in this country today.

GILLESPIE: But this is what we're hearing. The fact is that, you know, you have to know who John Kerry is bringing in to tell him what to say next. John Kerry needs somebody to come in and tell him what to say. What does that tell you about his leadership?

MCAULIFFE: George Bush doesn't get a teleprompter, you couldn't get a word out of his mouth and he can't get a sentence put together.

WOODRUFF: It is getting nasty.

MCAULIFFE: Get excited.

We love each other.

WOODRUFF: Ed Gillespie, Terry McAuliffe.

They really do love each other -- maybe.

How valuable are women in the upcoming election? I'd say very important. But find out why a certain group of women could prove decisive in the race for the White House.

Ivan is proving to be a source of a lot of rain in the southeast. Ahead we're going to get an update on where the storm is heading, and the damage it left behind.

And from actor to governor to president? Support picks up to permit Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, to run for the White House. That's later on INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Joining me now with a look at the all-important women's vote in this election, Chuck Todd, editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced everyday by the "National Journal."

All right, Chuck, we hear all the time about a gender gap. First of all, did we actually see one in the last election? And what does it tell us about who we see the campaigns targeting this year?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR, "THE HOTLINE": Well, overall, Al Gore won women, in its entirety over President Bush by a significant margin. It was 53-40 -- 54-43. He had 54 percent of the vote. But when you break it down in the true sort of -- when you hear about women being targeted as swing voters, it's really white women because among white women President Bush actually beat Al Gore in 2000 by one point. 49 to 48 percent. And so, when you hear about this targeting of women in particular it's really white women because they're the ones that really are the 50/50 electorate.

WOODRUFF: Not the African-American women who vote largely Democratic? Latino women...

TODD: Absolutely. He had votes in 80-20 proportions is what Al Gore won and in the same numbers John Kerry's been doing the same thing.

WOODRUFF: So, you've looked at a lot of numbers, how do you see the women's vote shaping up this year with Bush and Kerry?

TODD: Well, it's interesting. When you see John Kerry's numbers they move when he does well in national polls, it's because he's doing really well among women voters. When President Bush has taken the lead it's because he's improved his numbers among women. This new Pew poll that's out today shows exactly the same movement where President Bush before his convention was only getting 42 percent of women. After his convention he got it up to 48 percent.

Now as John Kerry has made some improvements there, Bush's number is back down to about 43 percent. It's the number that fluctuates. The CNN/Gallup poll right after the convention had President Bush getting 48 percent of the women's vote. There is no way John Kerry can win this election if George Bush is even getting 45 percent of the vote. We did a study in the states. And if you look at the states there's not a single state that George Bush carried of the showdown states where he got less than 45 percent of the vote. So, it is a very important, almost more important in some ways for George Bush to win some of these states than for John Kerry.

WOODRUFF: So, Chuck, what are the campaigns doing to attract the women's vote? Is it different from what they do to attract men?

TODD: It is a little bit. We've heard this, "W" stands for women and what the Bush campaign is doing and Laura Bush definitely is going out there trying to sort of target married white women. But it's already a piece of the women's vote that they do very well with. The issue that they use is security. And that was what you saw at the convention when they talk about security and terrorism and security for children and security at home, that's what moves this women's vote a little bit over to Bush.

As far as the Democrats, John Kerry, the issue that seems to move women in their direction is when they start talking about healthcare. When you look at the white women sort of ages 35 to 55, they're worried about healthcare for their children, healthcare for themselves and healthcare for their parents. So, it is an issue that can move women. But then the safety issue has been trumping it of late. That's what we saw in 2002 and right now it's we're seeing and why President Bush seems to have a little bit of a lead.

WOODRUFF: So interesting to look with this especially with the volatility in Iraq and to see how women perceive that.

TODD: That's another thing. Military moms going to be another segment that people are going to be studying a lot of.

WOODRUFF: That's right. OK, Chuck Todd, "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing, we'll tell you again, produced every day by the "National Journal." You can go online to for subscription information. Chuck, thanks very much.

All right we're going to have much more on tropical storm Ivan as it is now. And the damage it's done and where it's headed next coming up.


WOODRUFF: Ivan is now a tropical storm, but it is still creating lots of trouble for people in the southeast.

Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras tracking the storm in the CNN Weather Center. Jacqui, tell us the latest.


WOODRUFF: All right, thank you very much. Of course, Jacqui is in Atlanta at the CNN Weather Center. So, that's where they are watching this, among other places, very, very closely.

Well, first it was Senator Orrin Hatch, now a California Congressman -- proposing changes that could lead to a presidential race by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We'll explain in a moment.




WOODRUFF: Here's a question: Will the Terminator get a shot at the White House? A California Congressman is proposing a Constitutional amendment to permit foreign-born citizens, such as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run for president.

But as our Bruce Morton explains, it would be a complicated process.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I say to everyone here today, and to all Californians, I will not forget my oath, and I will not forget you.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since he became governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been getting rave reviews. Some even want him to run for president. He can't. The Constitution says only native-born Americans can.

But now, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is proposing an amendment allowing immigrants like Arnold, who have been citizens for at least 20 years, to run. Good idea?

MANN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I can think of a whole lot of higher priorities for improving the electoral system. But hey, it's an anachronism that naturalized citizens can't run for president?

MORTON: Is it just Arnold? Rohrabacher notes his California colleague in Congress, Tom Lantos -- born in Hungary -- could run. The inscription on Lady Liberty says, "Send your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," and many came. Ellis Island is packed with their ghosts.

Should immigrants be able to run? We asked some New Yorkers and found a split.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if they come over here, you know, and they're well educated and they know the policies and the laws of this land, they should have the opportunity to run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the Constitution works. It's been working for a while. I think there's other things that may need attention, but certainly not that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't have a problem with that.

MORTON: Amending the Constitution is hard. You need a two- thirds majority in both the House and the Senate and then approval by three-fourths of the states. Still, Arnold can be very persuasive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see your invitation, please?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Sure. Here's my invitation.

MORTON: You'd have to at least pay attention, wouldn't you?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: You certainly would.

Well, that's it for this Thursday INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.

"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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