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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Condoleezza Rice; Interview With Howard Dean
Aired October 3, 2004 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles and on Mount St. Helens in Washington State, 6 p.m. in Jerusalem, 7 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "LATE EDITION."
We'll get to my interview with the U.S. national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in just a moment. First, let's get a check of what's in the news right now.
BLITZER: The war in Iraq certainly dominated the first debate between President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry.
The presidential candidates will be focusing in on the U.S. economy and other domestic issues when they meet once again on Friday in St. Louis. That would be their second debate. The vice presidential candidates, Dick Cheney and John Edwards, will have their debate in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Just a short while ago here in Washington, I spoke with the president's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, about Iraq, the president's performance in the debates and much more.
BLITZER: Dr. Rice, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thank you. Nice to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about this military offensive underway in Samarra right now. Is it wrapped up, wrapping up, almost over?
RICE: Well, the reporting from the ground is that things have gone well. I think it would be premature to say that it has wrapped up, because insurgencies have a tendency to wax and wane. But clearly the really good news out of this is that Iraqi forces have fought alongside American forces and they've done well.
Prime Minister Allawi said last week that they were not going to wait to allow the insurgents to continue to wreak havoc. And this is one of those operations. But I think it would be premature to say that it has been completed. BLITZER: What about as a precedent, as a future, in the future, will you do the same thing in Fallujah, Ramadi, Sadr City, that slum area of Baghdad, these other so-called "no-go zones"?
RICE: Well, Prime Minister Allawi has had a view, which is very smart strategy, that you have to have both the political and military tract when you're dealing with an insurgent.
And he's therefore been working a lot with political leaders in these troubled places to say to them, "You now have to be part of the political process and that means you can't have support for these insurgents."
These insurgents have, in many of these places, worn out their welcome, because the Iraqi people would like a normal life and they really don't like the fact that, for instance, a car bomb by Zarqawi last week killed 35 Iraqi children who were lining up to get candy.
And so they don't have political support and Prime Minister Allawi has been working to separate the insurgents from the population, but also recognizing that it may be necessary to use military force and the Iraqis have to be a part of that. And of course that's what the coalition forces are there to do, is to help them.
BLITZER: So can we expect a combined effort, U.S. forces, Iraqi forces to move into Fallujah, for example, Ramadi in the coming weeks?
RICE: Well, the timing on any of these efforts really is going to be taken on the ground, because that is where Iraqi and coalition decision makers can work together to decide how much military force is used in addition to the political efforts that are there. So I wouldn't want to make a judgment on which of these areas might look like Samarra.
I would note that, when it comes to Sadr City, that there have been very large sweeps and efforts going on there for some time, and Muqtada Sadr's militia has been seriously hurt by the military efforts of the Iraqis and the coalition forces.
BLITZER: You probably saw the report in the papers today that Muqtada al-Sadr is now thinking of joining the political process, becoming, in effect, a politician vying for election in the new Iraq.
Given the blood that's on his hands, though, because it wasn't a long time ago U.S. military commanders said they wanted him dead or alive, is he acceptable as a political figure in Iraq?
RICE: Well, first of all, Wolf, I think we've all learned with Muqtada al-Sadr that it's deed, not words, and so one wouldn't put too much weight on what he's saying. But his military position is not very strong. His militia has been really very badly hurt, and it maybe why he's reconsidering his options.
It's going to have to be up to the Iraqis who can participate in their political process and who can't. They're a sovereign nation and they'll have to make that call.
BLITZER: Listen to what Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, said on September 23rd, and I want you to answer if, in fact, what he said is still operable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Let's say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four- fifths of the country, but in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great. Well, so be it. Nothing is perfect in life. So you have an election that's not quite perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that the position of the Bush administration?
RICE: Well, it sounds to me as if Don was speculating on something, but it is the position of the Allawi government and our position because we back him, that these have to be elections. They will be as widespread as possible, and we expect them to be held throughout the country.
BLITZER: So obviously that was a misstatement on the part of Rumsfeld. You can say that if it was.
RICE: He said -- I remember that statement. I remember what he said before. He was sort of speculating about it, and this is a time when a lot is being done to create the conditions in Iraq for elections that are nationwide and that are broad scale.
Prime Minister Allawi himself did say that this will not be the most perfect election that Iraq will have. After all, Iraq is in a transition. No transitional elections are perfect, but the important element here is that the Iraqi people are focused on their elections.
You know, Wolf, back in the spring, the president laid out his five-point plan. We were going to transfer sovereignty. That has been accomplished. We were then going to work to strengthen Iraqi security forces. We now have 100,000 of them trained, police and army and national guard and border guards. There will be 125,000 by the end of the year, and 200,000 at the end of next year. We're going to accelerate the reconstruction, and...
BLITZER: When you say trained, though, some of them have been trained two or three weeks, not exactly trained a level...
RICE: Eight-week training course, for instance, for the police forces. These are forces that are demonstrating, as they did in Najaf and as they apparently did in Samarra, that they are capable of taking on these tasks.
BLITZER: But they're still not large numbers that are really capable of combat readiness along the lines of the 1st Infantry Division.
RICE: Well, we're talking about the 1st Infantry Division of the best Armed Forces in the world. That's kind of a high standard.
BLITZER: But that's what you need if you're going to hand over responsibility to the Iraqis.
RICE: What you need is for the Iraqis to be able to carry out their own security requirements, and Prime Minister Allawi and his government have always said that it's going to be a while before that happens. But we are on the way to getting to the day when Iraqis will be able to do that.
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about the debate.
In the instant poll that we did that night after the debate in Miami, who did the best job in the debate? Kerry, 53 percent; Bush, 37 percent.
In a more substantive Newsweek poll that's come out today, who did a better job, who won the debate? Kerry, 61 percent; Bush, 19 percent; 16 percent, tied, no winner.
Why wasn't the president better prepared to handle that debate on national security, foreign policy, homeland security -- areas that you're responsible for?
RICE: The president did a very good job of showing the American people why he's the kind of leader...
BLITZER: But he wasn't at his best. You'll agree he wasn't at his best.
RICE: Wolf, I thought he did a fine job. And he did a fine job of showing the American people why he is the leader that he is and why he is the leader to carry us through this war on terrorism.
What he did was to demonstrate that he understands this war on terrorism. The idea that somehow you kill Osama bin Laden and maybe al Qaeda wraps up and then you're done with the war on terrorism could not be further from the truth.
To be clear, we are after Osama bin Laden. He is being chased by Pakistani forces and Afghan forces and American and other forces. We have broken up 75 percent of the al Qaeda known leadership. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia fully...
BLITZER: Well, when you say 75 percent, of how many leaders are we talking -- 75 percent of a quantity of what? 30, 25?
RICE: Of its known leadership.
BLITZER: But how many...
RICE: I would suspect that that's in the tens to hundreds -- tens to 100. BLITZER: Because that CIA analysis had a relatively small number when they had the 75 percent figure.
RICE: But what you're calculating there is who's leading this organization. Do they have their official planners like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the guy who actually did 9/11 planning? No, they do not.
BLITZER: Well, he's a big fish.
RICE: He was a big fish.
But, Wolf, let me just finish this point because the idea that you just deal with al Qaeda and you're through with -- or just deal with Osama bin Laden and you're through with the war on terrorism simply is not a good understanding of the war on terrorism.
And what the president said is that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism because you've got to deal with state sponsors of terror. You, of course, have to deal with the Middle East that is badly in need of change. You have to change the circumstances that produced al Qaeda.
BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the things that the president said at the debate because some of them seem to be a little bit sloppy, got repetitive, as you well know.
But listen to this one excerpt of what he said briefly about Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former Pakistani nuclear scientist who helped create the Pakistani bomb, and obviously that no longer exists. But listen to what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: To justice? The guy has been -- Khan has been freed. He's been pardoned by President Musharraf. And none of his associates have been brought to justice.
RICE: Well, his associates are in the process of being brought to justice. BSA Tahir (ph) is in custody. Several other members are in custody.
BLITZER: But Khan himself lives in a villa. And the IAEA would like to question him, and the Pakistani government doesn't even allow that to happen.
RICE: I think we all know that A.Q. Khan was a particular kind of figure in Pakistani lore, a national hero. And Musharraf has dealt with what is a very difficult situation about A.Q. Khan, by making certain that he's out of business, making certain that he loses the kinds of privileges that he had to travel and the like.
The important thing is that the A.Q. Khan network is out of business. And people are being brought to justice.
BLITZER: But the president would have been better saying the A.Q. Khan network has been rolled up or stopped. But brought to justice is a specific phrase...
RICE: They've both been brought to -- they've both been rolled up, and they're being brought to justice. A number of countries are pursuing prosecutions...
BLITZER: Against Khan?
RICE: ... against the A.Q. Khan network -- people like his chief operating officer, BSA Tahir (ph). South Africa is pursuing prosecutions. Europeans are pursuing...
BLITZER: But not A.Q. Khan specifically.
RICE: A.Q. Khan, in a sense, has been brought to justice because he is out of the business that he loved most.
BLITZER: All right. So you don't want to say that was sloppy wording?
RICE: Wolf, A.Q. Khan...
BLITZER: It's hard to say the president had sloppy wording.
RICE: A.Q. Khan is out of business and he is out of the business that he loved most. And if you don't think that his national humiliation is justice for what he did, I think it is. He's nationally humiliated.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on. I will talk about another statement the president made, and I want your explanation of what he meant by this. Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom. A free Iraq will help secure Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. I want you to explain. How will a free Iraq help secure Israel? The argument being the Palestinians, who oppose Israel, either the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza or Israel's very right to exist -- do they care what exists in Iraq?
RICE: I'll give you two ways. There's no longer a Saddam Hussein paying $25,000 to Palestinian suicide bombers and housing Palestinian rejectionists. And there's no longer a Saddam Hussein who can rain Scud missiles on Israel like he did in 1991.
BLITZER: But the bottom line is, Palestinians will still fight Israel, no matter what happens in Iraq? RICE: Of course, but the rejectionist elements have lost a very good friend in Saddam Hussein. And that's what you have to do, you have to wrap up the state sponsors of terrorism.
Israel is safer, and the Israelis believe that they are safer with an Iraq that is fighting terror, rather than supporting terror, including terror against Israel.
BLITZER: Now, here's another controversial statement that the president made at the news conference, and you can explain to our viewers what he meant. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BUSH: First, listen, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam's regime also had long-established ties with al Qaeda. These ties included senior-level contacts going back a decade.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: That was the vice president, speaking earlier, on July 1st...
BLITZER: ... making the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
But on the specific issue of 9/11, the 9/11 Commission said, in terms of operational collaboration, there's no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.
RICE: Wolf, no one has ever said that Saddam Hussein operationally planned 9/11 or maybe even knew about 9/11, but nobody's tried to make that link.
BLITZER: Well, there are people who have made that link.
RICE: The administration has not made that link. And I think the president has said, I have said, Colin Powell has said, there's no evidence of Saddam Hussein with a direct link to 9/11.
But that's a rather narrow notion of what caused the 9/11. What caused 9/11, of course, was the organization that did 9/11, and they're being wrapped up, people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
But what also caused 9/11 was a Middle East that is roiling, that has dictatorships throughout it that are not allowing the free aspirations of their people to come out, and so it's being channeled in these very virulent ways; a Middle East that was unstable, thanks to people like Saddam Hussein who were friends of terrorism. And he was on the state sponsor of terrorism list for a reason.
So, in that sense...
BLITZER: But on the specific -- because a lot of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had some role in planning 9/11.
RICE: Wolf, I've just said, Saddam Hussein didn't plan 9/11. But if you look at what caused 9/11, and you look at the circumstances in the Middle East, you also have to change those circumstances in the Middle East. And dealing with Saddam Hussein is an important part of changing those circumstances in the Middle East.
BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. When we return, more of my interview with Condoleezza Rice. We'll talk about John Kerry's call for a so-called global test on U.S. foreign policy and why the president thinks that's wrong.
Then, Iraq's deadly, dangerous path. I'll speak with two leading U.S. senators about a possible exit strategy for the United States.
And later, on the campaign trail, I'll talk with the former presidential candidate Howard Dean. I'll ask him what John Kerry needs to do to win this election.
"LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.
BLITZER: "LATE EDITION's" Web question of the week: Who won the first presidential debate? You can vote right now. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll tell you the results later in this program.
Up next, more of my interview with the national security advisor to President Bush, Condoleezza Rice.
You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We return now to my interview with U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
BLITZER: Here's a new ad that John Kerry is running in the aftermath of this debate. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: George Bush lost the debate. Now he's lying about it.
This is what you heard John Kerry really say: "The president always has the right for preemptive strike. I will hunt and kill the terrorists wherever they are." But here's something new about George Bush. Newspapers report he withheld key intelligence information from the American public so he could overstate the threat Iraq posed.
Bush rushed us into war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, what about that, the whole notion that now he says the president -- this is what the Democrats and Kerry are saying -- the president is lying when he says that there's a Kerry doctrine that would not allow preemptive strikes?
RICE: I'll tell you what I heard, and, you know, I don't want to get into the politics here, you know that. But I will tell you what I heard. I heard Senator Kerry say there was some kind of global test that you ought to be able to pass to support preemption. And I fundamentally don't understand what a global test is.
BLITZER: All right. Let's listen precisely to what John Kerry said on that issue, the global test. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No president through all of American history has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test, where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right.
RICE: I don't understand, proving to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons. What, that we took Saddam Hussein out, somebody that for 17 resolutions and 12 years shooting at aircraft and so forth that somehow that didn't prove to the world?
But let's go back to this notion of a global test. What does that mean? Does that mean the consensus of the international community of Cuba and countries like that, that we've passed the global test?
The words are what the words are.
BLITZER: I'll tell you what his people are saying, is that what he says is, there should be a preemptive strike, if necessary, as a last resort, but at the same time you should explain to the world what you're doing.
RICE: No, it said it should be able to pass a global test. And I don't know how you pass a global test, given that, by the way, you couldn't even get consensus on the fact that, after Saddam Hussein had defied the international community for all of those years, that it was time to do something.
Can you imagine trying to pass a global test in a Security Council that Syria has sat in?
The fact is, he said what he said.
Now, what the president did when he went into Iraq, of course, was to go to the international community. There was explanation after explanation of why it was important to deal with this threat.
But you're never going to get 100 percent consensus. We went in with a large coalition. Some people didn't disagree. The issue is, if France and Germany don't disagree, do you decide not to do it?
BLITZER: Two other things I want to get through before I let you go.
On the day after the debate, the president said this in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I want your explanation. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The use of troops to defend America must never be subject to a veto by countries like France.
The president's job is not to take an international poll. The president's job is to defend America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. When I heard that, I said the president is singling out France, America's oldest ally, for ridicule in this kind of a political context. Is that appropriate?
RICE: There's no ridicule here. It's a statement of fact. The French didn't agree.
And, you know, the French took what they believed to be a principled stand. They didn't believe -- I remember that the French foreign minister said, essentially, there was no resolution they would vote for that would lead to war.
Well, at that point, you have to make a decision. Are you going to allow this to be a veto, or are you going to go ahead? Because, after all, France did have a veto in the Security Council.
The president and a number of other countries, Prime Minister Blair, the Poles, the Australians and now 30 other countries, decided it was time to take care of this threat.
BLITZER: The only reason I raise it, at a time like this, a delicate time, when you're trying to get France to support the United States, is it appropriate for the president to be ridiculing France?
RICE: It's not a matter of ridicule. It's a statement of fact. The French know that they didn't support this. The French know that they were the ones who said there was no resolution that they would vote for.
And the president and President Chirac had a number of conversations before this. And I can remember one in particular in which they essentially agreed to disagree. And, at that point, the president had to make a decision.
BLITZER: Let's get to one final thing. It's in The New York Times today. On this program, almost exactly two years ago, we were talking about those aluminum tubes that the Iraqis were getting, and you said this on "LATE EDITION." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance -- into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, in The New York Times today, they say that, at that time, for a year you already knew the Department of Energy and others in the U.S. government were suggesting they probably were being used for small artillery rockets or other purposes, that it was a debate that was ongoing.
RICE: Well, at that time, when I came on your show, I knew there was some debate out there. But I tell you, I did not know the nature of the debate. We learned later, as we were going through the NIE, the Department of Energy's objections.
I also knew, of course -- but I did know at the time that the DCI and the intelligence community had said -- the intelligence community as a whole, believed that these were for centrifuge parts.
Now, there are debates in the intelligence community all the time. It is the job of the intelligence community, through its NIEs, through the DCI, to resolve those debates and to present to the administration, to the political leadership, its most likely case for what this is.
And throughout this entire period, the case that was presented to us was that, because of the nature of the tubes, they're a very fine specifications, because they were extremely expensive, because they had gone through particular bank accounts, that they were associated with the nuclear weapons programs.
Yes, the NIE and indeed the white paper that was unclassified said that there were people who disagreed with that.
What the Department of Energy did not disagree with, is that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program. What the key judgment said that had the support of the intelligence community is that he could have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade.
And, Wolf, if you're a policy-maker, you are going to be certain that you're not wrong on the short side, that you're not wrong in underestimating. Because, after all, if you underestimate the nuclear threat of a tyrant, you make a really big mistake.
And I stand by that decision of the administration to this very day.
BLITZER: And the way you phrased that statement, do you stand by that too?
RICE: Wolf, at that time, that what we thought, but the fact of the matter is, the president made this decision based on a body of evidence, not just on aluminum tubes, and on the key judgment of his intelligence organization that this was a program of reconstitution of the nuclear program.
BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation, Dr. Rice. Thanks very much.
RICE: Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead, a quick check of what's making news right now. We're keeping an eye on Mount St. Helen's in Washington State. Scientists there warning it could erupt literally at any moment.
Then, a nuclear-armed Iran. The Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, and a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chris Dodd, will discuss the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Iraq and much more.
More "LATE EDITION" straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We've done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years. We've been challenged, and we've risen to those challenges. We've climbed the mighty mountain, and I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush speaking during the first debate between himself and the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, in Miami Thursday. The two men will square off again on Friday in St. Louis. That format will be different. They'll be taking questions from the audience. Joining us now to talk about the first Bush-Kerry showdown and much more, two guests: Virginia Republican Senator and Bush supporter John Warner. He's the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And in his home state of Connecticut, Democratic Senator and Kerry supporter, Chris Dodd. He serves with Senator Kerry on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senators, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, let me get you to respond first to Dr. Condoleezza Rice. What was Senator Kerry talking about when he said there should be a global test before the U.S. would preemptively strike against an enemy?
DODD: Well, I think he was saying, first of all, you never rule out preemptive strikes at all. I mean, when your security is at stake here, and it's the only means by which you can deal with it, you don't ever want to rule that out.
But, obviously, if you're going to do that, if you can, building international support, much as George Bush's -- this president's father did, not that it was a preemptive strike, but building that kind of international support, we've done that throughout the 20th century: World War I, obviously the Second World War, where great coalitions, led by the United States, dealing with the enemies of the day.
And certainly in the 21st century, when you're dealing with an enemy like terrorism, international terrorism, then having the kind of international support is going to be critically important if you're going to win this contest that we are we in today with these terrorist elements around the globe.
That's the reason for that.
BLITZER: But if you don't get the international support, and let's say, France sits on the Security Council, they're not going to support it, they're going to veto it, you would still say go ahead if you deem it to be in vital U.S. national security interests?
DODD: Absolutely. Absolutely. And John Kerry has said that over and over again. That's absolutely correct, yes.
BLITZER: What's wrong with that position, Senator Warner?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: You know, I start off with Chris's opening sentence: "I think what Kerry said was."
Look here. John Kerry and I share a friendship we developed in the Senate, and particularly because we're both trained by the Navy.
First saying you're taught in the Navy is "Loose lips sink ships." He cannot be the head of our state if he's going to continue to make these remarks which nobody can really understand what's behind it.
BLITZER: But what don't you understand?
WARNER: Look, Chris talked about the Gulf War and President Bush I establishing that coalition. We not only had a coalition, but we had a U.N. security resolution, and yet both Kerry and Dodd voted against going into it.
So I don't understand -- we had a certainty, if you want to define a global test on the first Gulf War. And this time it seems to me that the president did everything he could. The U.N. resolutions, 17 of them, and Saddam Hussein defied them.
BLITZER: Let's let Senator Dodd respond to that.
Go ahead, Senator.
DODD: No, I just thought it missed the point. The question was, should you try to build coalitions? It doesn't mean you vote for...
WARNER: Well, of course you do.
DODD: Well, that's the point. Your suggestion is that John Kerry somehow is going to defer national security interests to some international organizations. That's not true. John Kerry has never said it.
So, if we agree on that, then we ought to move to the next point.
WARNER: Chris, he said you've got to pass the global test. Go read the statement.
DODD: John, what he's saying here is, is you ought to try and build coalitions.
WARNER: You've got to keep interpreting it, and we can't do that.
DODD: No, no, no. It's not interpreting. This is not interpreting. It's what he meant here. Clearly, you try to build coalitions.
Obviously, we didn't do that here in this particular effort in Iraq. We pretty much went it alone with the exception of a few people, and they're dropping like flies as part of the coalition.
John Kerry is offering a new opportunity here to get this right, and we are should get it right. But there are many people who feel today we're on the wrong track here. We're not getting this right, and we're getting deeper and deeper into trouble which can cost a lot more down the road.
WARNER: And one more thing. I copied this one down. This is Kerry at Drake University this year, March 8th. He called it "a trumped-up coalition of the bribed and coerced states." Now, that's just not the way to be the head of state. And there's no way in the world that he feels that he could come on the scene now as the new president and suddenly bring in people when he said it's the wrong war at the wrong time. You were coerced, you were cajoled.
He calls Allawi, through his spokesman, a puppet. Now, that is not what the American people want as their chief executive officer.
BLITZER: Before I let Senator Dodd respond, which of his spokesman called Allawi a puppet?
BLITZER: Joe Lockhart?
BLITZER: I don't remember that. But we'll double check that.
WARNER: I'll get it for you. Would you?
BLITZER: Chris Dodd, do you remember Joe Lockhart calling Prime Minister Iyad Allawi a puppet?
DODD: No, I don't, but the point is here, look, you can spend our time talking about the past here on this thing. I think most people agree now here that we got into the war in Iraq because of the arguable presence of weapons of mass destruction.
That, of course, has turned out to be not the case.
Then the Bush administration has tried to pretend there's some deep connection between al Qaeda, the people who did attack us on 9/11, and Iraq. That hasn't proven to be the case. The 9/11 Commission ruled that out entirely.
We're there now. We've got to kind of get this right. Now, we obviously need more troops on the ground. We've got to do a better job of training the people there.
And the Iraqi people who've got to decide they want democracy in their country at least as much as we do for them. That has yet to demonstrate itself categorically. And I think that's going to be proven in the elections.
Let's get this right. Let's work it right. But don't try to pretend somehow that this is an extension of 9/11 somehow. It's not. And nor are the weapons of mass destruction there. Had we known...
WARNER: Wait a minute. Can I get a word in edgewise, here?
DODD: Wait a second, John. Had we known then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote in the United States Senate on this issue.
BLITZER: All right. Let's let Senator Warner respond.
Go ahead, Senator.
WARNER: Well, Chris, look, hindsight is one thing. Had we left Saddam Hussein in office, who knows where the world would be and particularly the Middle East today in that whole region? He would have further destabilized it and, in all probably, been more heavily injected in on the worldwide war on terrorism.
But I come back to you, dear friend. At the time this decision was made, you and I saw the same intelligence, as did our president. And that was one factor, the weapons of mass destruction, but there were many others to move on.
It was a sound decision. It was supported by a coalition of allies, most principally Great Britain.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on and get to some other issues. Thomas Friedman has a column in The New York Times today. And I want both of you to respond, because you're both deeply involved in this issue. Let me read a line or two from it.
"For all of President Bush's vaunted talk about being consistent and resolute, the fact is he never established U.S. authority in Iraq, never. This has been the source of all of our troubles. We have never controlled all the borders. We have never even consistently controlled the road from Baghdad Airport into town because we never had enough troops to do it."
Let me let Senator Warner respond, because you're the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. And, as you know, there's still a huge debate, saying that the U.S. still doesn't have enough troops on the ground now to do the job.
WARNER: The president, I think quite properly, did not try and secondguess his military commanders.
The first phase was the operation against the Iraqi troops. We wrapped that up, I think in record time. It was a success by any fair judgment, militarily.
The second phase, of trying to control that country in the aftermath, in all probability, we did not make the right calculations in some areas. But again, the president has reposed the decision as to the level of troops to the military commanders.
BLITZER: All right.
WARNER: And they have stood by the figures, and each time they've asked for more, the president responded.
BLITZER: Do you disagree with that, Senator Dodd? Because General Abizaid, General Tommy Franks before him, they have said whenever they wanted more troops the president always listened and responded. DODD: Well, we know certainly there were estimates early on that we should have had more troops on the ground. General Shinseki made that recommendation, that he thought the level of troops was not going to be adequate to get the job done.
And certainly I think today people realize here that the number of troops we have there, given the magnitude of the problem, given the problems we're facing, probably has to be increased, if you're going to provide the kind of security for the elections coming in January, to train the people in Iraq, so they can do the job with the national police and the military.
I think we clearly now recognize we made a huge mistake in denying the previous military in Iraq, the rank-and-file members, the junior officers, we didn't allow any of them to serve at all. That was a huge mistake.
We're only spending about two or three weeks per trainee right now to take on a tremendous responsibility.
So, my sense of this is, while our forces on the ground are doing a miraculous job under the circumstances -- and they deserve great credit for what they're doing. Whatever the policy debates may be, there's no debate about the respect and admiration we have for these people doing the job.
BLITZER: All right.
DODD: But I think many people will tell you that we don't have the level of forces we probably need to get this job done right.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break, but we're going to continue the conversation with our two senators.
Our staff also has come up with the exact quote of precisely of what Joe Lockhart, a spokesman working with John Kerry, said on the whole issue of whether or not the Iraqi prime minister is a puppet of the U.S. government. We'll have that for you, as well.
And don't forget our Web question of the week: Who won the presidential debate? You can vote. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results shortly.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our discussion with two members of the U.S. Senate, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John Warner, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut, the top Democrat, at least a top Democrat, I'll repeat that, a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Joe Biden would be the top Democrat...
DODD: That's correct.
BLITZER: ... on the Foreign Relations Committee.
We promised our viewers we'd check what Senator Warner said quoting Joe Lockhart, a spokesman for John Kerry, as calling Prime Minister Allawi, the interim prime minister of Iraq, a puppet.
And here is exactly what Joe Lockhart was quoted as saying in The Los Angeles Times in an article by Ron Brownstein. He was quoted as saying this. He said, "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips."
That's what Joe Lockhart was quoted as saying, referring to Prime Minister Iyad Allawi when he was here in Washington.
WARNER: You know, he's a man of great courage. I was privileged to meet him when he was here in Washington. He bears the scars of an ax. Saddam Hussein's henchmen tried to murder him, chop his head off with an ax. And this man every day is at enormous personal risk.
Chris talked about the resolve of the Iraqis. There's an example.
Also the troops. There were 2,000 Iraqi troops that fought with our troops in the Samarra campaign.
You are seeing Iraq take hold of its own destiny now.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the troop levels, and I'll let Senator Dodd weigh in on this.
Are you among those Democrats who are suggesting that another draft will be needed, reviving the U.S. military draft will be needed?
Look at this. In The New York Times, they had a story the other day, because they're failing to meet some quotas for numbers of troops there, the U.S. Army is easing some high school graduation standards, lowering test score requirements, at least for 2,000 recruits, in order to get enough soldiers in the U.S. Army.
DODD: No, I don't think you need a draft, because clearly a draft for a couple of years is not -- today's soldier needs far more training than they did a generation ago.
BLITZER: But Senator Kerry is suggesting that if Bush is re- elected, the U.S. may have to revive the draft.
DODD: Well, there's been that talk, and certainly we're talking about it here. And obviously when we're telling people they can't complete their tour of duty, that these stop orders are going into place forcing people to stay on longer, many argue that's sort of a back-door draft for those who are already in.
My own personal view, and I think it's the view of Senator Kerry, that we don't need a draft. In fact, John Edwards has said categorically that if John Kerry and John Edwards are elected president and vice president, there will be no draft. BLITZER: And in fact, the Bush administration insists there won't be a draft.
You were secretary of the navy when the draft was abolished.
WARNER: We laid the foundation.
BLITZER: But knowing the manpower needs of the U.S. military right now, knowing the agenda out there, do you believe -- and there are a lot of nervous families out there -- that the draft may have to be revived?
WARNER: Very strongly no. And, furthermore, that Congress won't let it be done.
Because we know that, to bring on the draft and then you'll have to draft the women with the men, furthermore, what do you do -- we only need about 6 percent of the man/woman-power pool as they turn of age. What are you going to do with the other 94 percent? Let them go their way? Do what they want? No, they'll have obligated service. So it's an enormous, big problem.
But the key to it is, the all-volunteer force has worked, and worked beyond the expectations of all of us.
BLITZER: Let's talk about a huge issue out there potentially, and I'll let Senator Dodd weigh in first, on the supposed plan by Iran to try to build a nuclear bomb.
The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazzi, was interviewed in the new issue of Newsweek and he was asked whether there could be a dialogue with the United States on this issue. And he's quoted as saying this: "They have left no room for any rapprochement, especially in the case of Iran. They" -- referring to U.S. officials -- "have interfered in our internal affairs and have talked about a change in regime."
What do you believe a Kerry administration would do differently in dealing with Iran than the Bush administration is doing right now?
DODD: Well, I think Senator Kerry spelled it out the other night pretty clearly. And that is we -- when asked what is the single most important issue we face down the road, he talked about nuclear proliferation and obviously dealing with terrorism.
And with all due respect to the Bush administration, their neglect of these issues that have been around now for a while, both in North Korea and Iran, I think are a mistake.
Now, you have to explore these avenues with various people who do have relationships with Iran. We have not had one for all the obvious reasons.
But obviously, allowing this to proceed at the rate it is, them getting materials, for instance, out of the former Soviet Union, these are kinds of steps we ought to be taking, to work with the Russians and others to see to it that we can purchase a lot of this equipment, some of these nuclear materials, as well as the biological, chemical, that are proliferating around the globe, that are sitting there waiting for people to either to buy them or for terrorists to get their hands on them.
And this administration has done almost nothing. In fact, we've spent less on the Nunn-Lugar proposals than we did in the Clinton administration.
BLITZER: Let's let Senator Warner weigh in.
WARNER: I was in the room the day the Nunn-Lugar proposal was put together. I remember it very well. Sam Nunn...
BLITZER: But on Iran specifically right now?
WARNER: On Iran, specifically right now, the president is doing the right thing. There we were clearly working with international organizations. And there's a lot of pressure being brought on by the entire community. We're not in any way trying to resolve this thing through unilateral force. We're doing it through diplomacy, and we're doing it properly in balance with the other nations.
BLITZER: Senator Warner, thanks very much.
WARNER: Thank you.
BLITZER: We've got to leave it right there.
Senator Dodd, thanks to you as well.
DODD: Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We'll speak with the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties about who lost and who won at this week's presidential debate. That's coming up.
First though, let's go to CNN's Andrea Koppel for a quick check of what's in the news right now.
BLITZER: Let's get some more details now on that developing story, Mount St. Helens in Washington State, apparently on the verge of erupting again.
Joining us now on the phone from Castle Rock, Washington, near Mount St. Helens is CNN's Donna Tetreault.
Donna, what is the latest?
DONNA TETREAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the eruption could be in minutes, hours or days. That's what the USGS is telling us now.
They're also confirming the presence of volcanic gases. And that means the next eruption to take place will be bigger than the last two and more ash will be emitted into the air, and it could get into populated area, as well as affect air traffic.
Now, yesterday scientists reassessed the activity after a puff of steam flowed out of the crater at 12:15 Pacific time. All of this activity led to evacuations. Tourists were evacuated from Johnson Ridge, where they were trying to get a glimpse of the volcano.
Now, at this point, it's up to counties to alert local people regarding evacuations and possible road closures. Some counties are already distributing information to residents on how to protect themselves from ash from the volcano.
BLITZER: CNN's Donna Tetreault on the scene for us in Washington state. We'll continue to watch Mount St. Helens, get back there if there's any development whatsoever.
But let's move on back to politics. More than 60 million Americans watched the U.S. presidential debate on television this week. Did it change any minds? Will it change the race?
Joining us now, two guests: In New Jersey, the Republican National Committee chairman, Ed Gillespie, and here in Washington, the Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe.
Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us.
Let's take a look at the two polls that came out this weekend -- the Newsweek poll, a Los Angeles Times poll.
And I'm going to begin with you, Ed Gillespie.
The Newsweek poll now has Kerry, among registered voters, ahead 47-45 percent Bush, 2 percent Nader. The last time Newsweek did this in September, September 9th, after the Republican Convention, Bush was ahead 49-43, with 2 percent for Nader.
The L.A. Times poll still has Bush-Cheney ahead 49-45 percent. Six percent say they don't know. That's registered voters. But even in the L.A. Times poll, the race clearly tightening, 4 percent margin of error.
What happened to the president in that first debate, Ed Gillespie?
ED GILLESPIE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Well, the president was very forceful in making his case for winning the war in Iraq, winning the war on terror. I think there was a clear distinction in his approach to how to go about doing that from Senator Kerry. Senator Kerry laid out for us a new clarity in terms of his wanting to impose a global test, as you were just discussing, on how and if we can act preemptively in our own national security interest. I think that's a major difference.
I also think that President Bush exposed a major vulnerability in one of Senator Kerry's central rationales for his candidacy.
He is always telling voters that, if he were to be elected, he would bring more countries into Iraq, and get them to commit troops on the ground.
But President Bush was right when he said, how are you going to do that? Are you going to go to another country and say, would you commit troops to a grand diversion? And to the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time?
There's a central flaw in that approach, Wolf.
BLITZER: But all of the polls show that, when the question was asked, who won the debate, Bush or Kerry, Kerry won the debate. At least all the polls suggest that.
GILLESPIE: Look, Senator Kerry was very polished, literally and figuratively. We anticipated that he would be a good debater. I said that going in. This is someone who has trained all his life for a presidential debate. He was on the debate team in his high school and the debate team in college. He's been in the world's greatest deliberative body for 20 years, and his debates with William Weld were legendary.
But the president is someone who says what he means and means what he says. And when it comes to credibility and policies, that's what decides elections.
BLITZER: I'm going to bring in Terry McAuliffe in a second. But the president is the president of the United States. He's been president for almost four years. Are you saying he's not a polished debater after being president for four years?
GILLESPIE: Wolf, I think, when it comes to credibility and the policies, he was -- he won. And in fact, if you look at the polls you just referenced, people say, well, even those who say Kerry won the debate, a majority in your polls said that they agreed with the president's policies.
And so this is not -- this is an election. This isn't a moot court or a college debate club. This is about an election. And the president won when it comes to credibility, because he didn't reverse himself the way Senator Kerry did...
BLITZER: All right.
GILLESPIE: ... even in the course of the debate, saying that Iraq was a mistake, but then saying that our troops aren't sacrificing for a mistake. BLITZER: Let's bring in Terry McAuliffe and take a look at some other numbers.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: ... doing a great job.
BLITZER: Well, we've got some other numbers that you're not going to like that much, Terry McAuliffe.
Who would be tougher as president? In the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll taken after the debate, 54 percent, the president, say the president would be tougher, 37 percent say Kerry.
On the other question, who would be better, who would better handle Iraq? Once again, after the debate, 54 percent say the president, 43 percent say John Kerry.
Those are numbers that show that maybe on style that Kerry won the debate, but on substantive issues the numbers didn't really change, at least according to these two numbers.
MCAULIFFE: Well, clearly John Kerry won both substance and style. The polls say it. I mean, you now have the polls out that show us now leading, in some of the polls of the nation. That's because people tuned in last night -- or the other day, watched John Kerry and George Bush.
And it was almost embarrassing to watch the president of the United States up there praying for the lights to come on, because he didn't have anything else to say. He had a smirk on his face, he looked arrogant, he was hunched over the podium. You know, I thought it was an embarrassing time for George Bush.
John Kerry looked like the president of the United States, looked very strong, he had very concise, precise answers of what he would do. George Bush at one point said that Iraq had invaded the United States of America. I mean, he wasn't right on substance. He wasn't right on style.
But it made it look like George Bush thought it was a birth right that he'd be president.
BLITZER: But even if Kerry won the debate, that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to win the election.
MCAULIFFE: Of course it doesn't. But, you know, when it comes down to those critical issues of who would do a better job of moving this country forward, people watched the debate on Thursday night, they saw John Kerry looking like a commander in chief, strong answers. George Bush fumbling along, couldn't even finish the time period. So it was a bad night for George Bush.
But your point's right. I mean, here's Ed having to defend, saying that John Kerry's had all of this debate practice and all that. George Bush is the president of the United States for the last four years and he has trouble putting a sentence together. I mean, it was astounding.
BLITZER: Ed, go ahead and respond.
GILLESPIE: Look, the election is not about who is the more flowery orator, Wolf. The election is about who's right on the policies.
And again, when you saw the president talking about how we're going to go about winning the war in Iraq, how we're going to go about winning the war on terror, demonstrating the flaw in one of Senator Kerry's central arguments.
Look, this is someone who -- and I appreciate the fact that you went back and got the quote that Senator Warner cited, because it's a very important quote. Senator Kerry and his people were not only disdainful of Prime Minister Allawi, one of our most critical allies in the war on terror, they were insulting to him.
Just as Senator Kerry was insulting to our allies in the debate when he said that it's not a genuine coalition, countries who were in there -- 30 countries who were in there sacrificing alongside the United States. That's not how you build a coalition. It is a central flaw in his approach.
BLITZER: Well, I want to move on...
MCAULIFFE: Well, let's talk about the coalition, because this is an important point for John Kerry.
BLITZER: We're going to get to the coalition in just a moment. But on the specific notion, Joe Lockhart suggesting that the prime minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, was a puppet of the U.S. government, was that statement appropriate?
MCAULIFFE: Well, I'll let Joe Lockhart speak for himself. But what John Kerry has clearly said as it relates to Iraq, we have a mess on our hands in Iraq today.
George Bush is like an ostrich with his head in the sand. He keeps saying things are great in Iraq.
You know, we've lost 1,050 troops. September was a horrible month for our troops and the killings that we had over there.
We have spent $200 billion. We're 90 percent of the costs and the casualties.
We do not have an international coalition like George Bush's father. Bill, you saw Britain now wants to pull a third of their troops out. Poland wants to pull their troops out. It's not a coalition.
George Bush has got to get off this, face reality. This is George Bush's war. He created a mess over there, and he can't see it today.
GILLESPIE: I cannot allow Terry to mischaracterize the president's position on Iraq. And he's mischaracterizing it willfully, the president's position.
The president was clear again in the debate: Things are going to be hard in Iraq. This is not easy. But we must be victorious in Iraq to withdraw our troops. To leave Iraq before we have finished the job of establishing a free and stable Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a disaster.
And the fact is, the president demonstrated again his commitment to winning the war. I don't believe we saw that commitment from John Kerry on Thursday.
MCAULIFFE: George Bush was not clear. He mumbled through it. He can't face reality. His own secretary of state last week said, "We have a mess in Iraq." Chuck Hagel said it. John McCain had it. Republicans don't even agree with George Bush.
We're not going to change Iraq until George Bush is gone and John Kerry's in, plain and simple.
BLITZER: I want to get back to some substantive issues that came up during the debate. And Ed Gillespie, I want you to listen to what John Kerry specifically said during the debate on U.S. credibility around the world under the administration. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: We can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with de Gaulle. And in the middle of the discussion to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And de Gaulle waived him off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."
How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let me let Ed Gillespie respond to that.
Go ahead, Ed.
GILLESPIE: Well, start with the 30 that are in the coalition in Iraq today, rebuilding Iraq. And then remember that when the president made the case, the world community agreed about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein: the French, the Russians, the Germans, the United Nations all agreed -- Great Britain. All saw the same intelligence.
John Kerry, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, saw the same intelligence, came to the same conclusion. And as he said Thursday night, "I accepted the intelligence." And so, the fact is they all saw the same thing. There were different approaches. The French and the Russians did not want to remove Saddam from power at that time. But as the president made clear, 20 more resolutions would not have made a difference relative to Saddam Hussein complying.
BLITZER: All right. Let's listen to an ad, Terry McAuliffe, because I want you to respond to this. This is a new Bush campaign ad that's going after John Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: He said he'd attack terrorists who threaten America. But at the debate, John Kerry said America must pass a global test before we protect ourselves. The Kerry doctrine: A global test.
So we must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America? So America will be forced to wait while threats gather?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. What do you make of this -- this is a line that we're hearing now consistently since the debate that Kerry, in effect, is going to give France and other countries veto power of how the United States can defend itself.
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, George Bush lost the debate. He embarrassed his party. He embarrassed the country with some of his answers. And this is what they're doing. This is an out-and-out lie.
If you want to put up on your screen exactly what John Kerry said. First and foremost he said, I will go in preemptively if I have to do it. If we have to move preemptively...
GILLESPIE: Please do.
MCAULIFFE: ... we will go ahead and do it.
And you know what? He will do it if we have to. Then he said, is it better for us to go in with an international coalition? Of course it's always preferable, so we don't have a mess we have in Iraq. We are 90 percent of the casualties, 90 percent of the cost.
The issue we have in Iraq is that nobody believes George Bush. Just look at the front page of The New York Times today. They knew that Iraq did not have the capability of using aluminum tubes to create nuclear materials and work with them. That was a fact. They were told a year before.
They sent Colin Powell to the United Nations, embarrassed and shredded this man's credibility. Read the paper today. The George Bush administration has been lie after lie. This issue on the global test is a lie from the Republicans. Put up his quotes.
BLITZER: Why is Terry McAuliffe misstating the facts? GILLESPIE: Well, where do I begin? The fact is, if you look at transcript, if you play the tape, play the tape, we...
BLITZER: We played the whole tape in the first hour.
GILLESPIE: Terry, if I might finish my sentence. I allowed you to talk.
MCAULIFFE: First of all, that was Wolf Blitzer. It wasn't me, Ed. He's got a different voice than I have.
GILLESPIE: The fact is this. If the senator in the debate said we must subject our preemptive approach to a global test -- that means who passes or fails you on a global test? The French, Russians, the U.N. passes you or fails you on a global test before we would take action under a President Kerry.
That is a very disturbing point. That is a fact, when pressed on it in the debate, when President Bush came back and said, "A global test? That's a real problem," he let it stand, because he knows that's his view. That's his approach.
When it comes to aluminum tubes, we just heard from Dr. Rice who made this point, this was the assessment of the intelligence community at the time. Terry is going to call the president a liar every day from now through November. So is Senator Kerry. That is not going to make him more effective as a candidate. It's not going to win the election.
They are the party of Michael Moore, the protest and pessimism party. They're free to be that. But the fact is that the president was right when he made the case. He's right now. John Kerry has reversed himself ten different times on one of these central issues of our time.
BLITZER: Very quickly...
MCAULIFFE: George Bush ought to talk to his own secretary of state and see how the things are going in Iraq and ask him did he tell the truth to the United Nations when he went up and put those aluminum tube pictures? He'd like to take it back.
BLITZER: Just to be precise on this whole global test issue, we're going to play for our viewers once again, a second time, on "LATE EDITION" precisely what Senator Kerry said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test, where your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. We heard the whole thing now.
GILLESPIE: So Russia can say, "You have not proven it to me. You haven't proven it to me..."
BLITZER: Hold on. One at a time. Let's let Terry McAuliffe, first of all, try to explain what John Kerry meant when he did speak.
You heard him say there should be a global test.
MCAULIFFE: He said that if I have to go act preemptively, he will do it as president of the United States of America.
When we have won our great world wars and when we've gone and fought, you know what? We did it working with our allies to make it a better team so we're sharing responsibilities.
We've always gotten the job done. We've ended the Cold War, 40 years of the Cold War, because we worked with allies. We would love to have as many international troops at our side over in Iraq today. We have 140,000 troops today, The international coalition is 20,000 and shrinking.
So let's get other people in to help us and share the burden costs on this.
GILLESPIE: Wolf, this is vintage. This is classic John Kerry. This is him saying, "I would never surrender our own national security interests to any other nation, but I would subject us to a global test. I would be one who supports our troops, but I voted against the $87 billion as a protest, as he said the day before the vote. The war in Iraq was a mistake, but our soldiers aren't dying for a mistake."
It is vintage John Kerry, trying to have it both ways.
"I want to bring more troops from other countries into the theater of Iraq, but it is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. I want to get other countries to commit their personnel on the ground next to the U.S. soldiers, but it's a grand diversion."
He can't have it both ways, as hard as he tries, and the American people see through it.
BLITZER: All right.
MCAULIFFE: John Kerry's going to tell the truth. George Bush is going to lie. Read the paper today, ask Colin Powell. He has shredded the foreign policy of this nation.
BLITZER: On that note, a note of disagreement, we began with it, we'll end with. This will continue through November 2nd, I suspect beyond.
Ed Gillespie, thanks to you for joining us.
BLITZER: Always a good debate between the two of you.
Both, by the way, graduates of Catholic University here in Washington, D.C., yet they strongly emerged from that great university with very different political perspectives. What a great country.
Straight ahead, he's shared the debate stage with John Kerry, former candidate Howard Dean. He'll join me live. We'll talk about what happened in Miami and more.
Then, after what's widely considered a stumble in his first debate, I'll speak with two magazine editors about the challenge ahead for both President Bush and John Kerry.
"LATE EDITION" will continue after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: I believe America's best days are ahead of us, because I believe that the future belongs to freedom, not to fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What days are ahead for the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry after Thursday night's debate at the University of Miami? Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Joining us now from Burlington, Vermont, a man with experience in political combat, specifically political combat with John Kerry, the former presidential candidate, the former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. He's also author of a brand new book. It's entitled "You Have the Power: How to Take Back our Country and Restore Democracy in America."
Governor Dean, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We'll talk about the book shortly.
Let's talk about John Kerry, first of all. Did you sense, as so many others have sensed, that since capturing the Democratic presidential nomination, especially in recent weeks, John Kerry has increasingly moved toward the position that you took during the Democratic presidential primary? HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: Well, I would argue that he had never left it. Even though we disagreed on whether or not we should go in or not, his position and mine have been similar. You've got to do the responsible thing.
But the points that I thought he made was so effective on Thursday, is, first, that he would put together an international coalition like George Bush's father, and by contrast, pointing at the failures of George Bush.
I was shocked to read in The New York Times today that the news media is now documenting the fact that this administration was fundamentally dishonest in bringing us to war. They knew there was a case against going to war, and they did not share it with the American people.
In the largest circulation paper of the United States of America, The New York Times, I think that's -- or Sunday paper, I think that's an appalling admission. And I think this president's going to pay an enormous price for sending us to war without telling us the story about why we should go.
BLITZER: But on the fundamental question of weapons of mass destruction, it's been widely known now, since the U.S. won the war, at least the major combat operations, in Iraq the last year and a half, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction.
The intelligence that was provided to the president, to members of Congress, to the American public, to the U.N. Security Council, the intelligence to put it mildly was flawed.
DEAN: No, it's worse than that. Because Condoleezza Rice's staff, according to The New York Times, was told that there was another part of the story about the aluminum tubes that were going to create the nuclear weapons. They didn't believe there was any evidence.
Dick Cheney knew, when he insisted that the nuclear weapons were just at the verge of being developed by Saddam Hussein, he knew there was a strong body of evidence in the Energy Department and strong counterpoint of view in the CIA, that said that was not true.
We never heard about that. All we heard was, "War, war, war, nuclear weapons are about to be developed." And in The New York Times this morning, it turns out that they knew very well that that was not true.
That is why this president ought not to be re-elected. He needs to be fired by the American people for what he's done.
BLITZER: All right. Well, let me very precise, because at the time, even I, a simple reporter in Washington, knew that there was a dissent on the aluminum tubes being used for nuclear purposes by the Department of Energy. That was pretty widely known. There was dissent elsewhere among some at the CIA, at the State Department, as well. But the prevailing view, the view that George Tenet, the director of the CIA, put out in that National Intelligence Estimate was that it looked like those aluminum tubes were, in fact, going to be used for some sort of nuclear centrifuge program.
DEAN: George Tenet said yesterday in a prepared statement that he made it very clear that there were two points of view on this issue. The administration, according to The New York Times, never checked with the Energy Department because they didn't want to hear the other point of view.
You cannot trust this administration. They sent us to war without giving us the full information to the American people. I think that was wrong.
And that's why John Kerry won the debate, because the truth is, the most important thing John Kerry said, I thought, in the debate was, you know, being certain and being stubborn ought not to be confused with leadership.
We have a certain president. He's certain about the things that are wrong, and they're wrong for America. We need a president that's right for America.
BLITZER: John Kerry was debating you way back in December. It seems like a long time ago, it's not even a year.
DEAN: It does, doesn't it?
BLITZER: As I'm sure you will agree.
Among other things, when he was debating you, he said this, and we'll put it up on the screen, December 16, 2003: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."
He was taking a direct swipe at you. Do you remember the context of those words?
DEAN: Oh, sure, absolutely. Look, this is a hard-fought campaign. And we're tough competitors, and politics is a tough business.
But there's a very small difference between John Kerry and I, compared to the enormous gulf between -- John Kerry and I on the one hand, and George Bush on the other.
The reason I'm a whole-hearted supporter of John Kerry is, I don't believe that John Kerry would ever send American troops to war without telling the American people the full truth about why it is we're going. George Bush did not do that. And I don't think he ought to be president.
BLITZER: Let's take a phone call, because we have a caller out there who wanted to ask a specific question to you, Governor.
Go ahead, Minnesota.
CALLER: Good afternoon, Wolf and Howard Dean. I'd like to ask Howard Dean what his interpretation of the exact language that John Kerry used to describe the global test, because it seemed to me to be talking about a -- approval about a country, and to prove to the world after he'd done it that it was reasonable.
DEAN: I actually have a transcript right here, because I was anticipating that.
Seems to me that he talks specifically in the debate, the global test is that you've got to prove to your own people that you're doing the right thing. George Bush didn't do it. George Bush just told us a lot of things that turned out not to be true.
I think the global test that John Kerry talked about was the kind of global test that John F. Kennedy illustrated -- that John Kerry illustrated in the debate, when John F. Kennedy's people went to de Gaulle and said, "Here's our evidence."
Well, George Bush never gave us any evidence. He asked us to take his word for it. And most Americans did take his word for it, because we want to trust our president. Now we know we can't trust this president.
BLITZER: In that same quote -- you have the quote there -- it was not only the global test to convince the American people, but he went on to say to convince the world that what United States would have to do, as far as a preemptive strike would be concerned, would be justified.
DEAN: Exactly so. And the reason that America, under this president, has lost its moral leadership in the world is that George Bush didn't care what the world thought.
You know, I want John Kerry to be president because I think he's going to restore the moral leadership that America has exhibited in this world since the end of World War I. I want him to be president because I want to restore our good name around the rest of the world.
I don't think George Bush understands that strength and power come not just from a strong military, but come from moral leadership. This president has not provided moral leadership. He did a lot of things, including sending 1,000 Americans to their deaths, without telling people why.
And now it turns out that he knew very well that the case was not as strong as it was, and I think that's a disqualification to be president of the United States. And hopefully the American people will see it that way on November 2nd.
BLITZER: Howard Dean, stand by for a moment. We're going to take a quick commercial break. Howard Dean, speaking out forcefully, as he always does, just as in the first hour of "LATE EDITION," Dr. Condoleezza Rice, speaking out forcefully, as she always does, with a very different perspective.
Coming up, more of our conversation with the former Democratic presidential candidate, Howard Dean.
First, though, we'll get a quick check of what's making news right now, including the latest on Mount St. Helen's in Washington State. Experts say it could erupt literally at any moment. We're watching.
Please stay with "LATE EDITION."
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with the former Democratic presidential candidate, Howard Dean, also the former governor of Vermont. He's got a new book that's out. We'll talk about that, as well.
One of the things you write in a column this week, in the past couple weeks, on the reviving of the U.S. military draft. Among other things, Governor, you write this:
"Because of the president's military adventurism, our armed forces are under enormous pressure. The only place to go for more troops is a draft. Selective service boards have been already notified that 20-year-olds and medical personnel will be called up first. Bush will be forced to decide whether we can continue the current course in Iraq, which will clearly require the reinstatement of the draft."
Now, everyone from the president on down says you're totally wrong on this, at least in the administration. Listen to what the vice president said in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: The suggestion that somehow there's a plan out there for a secret draft is -- I'd call it either an urban legend or a nasty political rumor, but it's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On what basis, Governor, do you say there's a secret plan out there to reinstitute the draft?
DEAN: Well, first of all, let me go back to, just for the shoring up of my credibility, since it's under attack by the vice president.
I was able to call the president on his misrepresentation on Iraq simply by looking at the facts and the public information. It turned out I was right. It turned out we did go to war without being told the facts, and that they concealed information. And that's all over the front page of The New York Times today.
Now let's go to the matter of the draft. As I said in the column, which is available at democracyforamerica.com, which is our Web site that I put the columns out on, in addition to newspapers, you will find that the president, first of all, was withdrawing troops from South Korea. He's announced that.
I think that's an incredibly dumb thing to do while we're trying to convince the North Koreans that they ought not to have atomic weapons. That's an ambiguous signal. We ought not to send ambiguous signals in terms of our military.
BLITZER: Well, what about the draft? What about the draft?
DEAN: What I'm trying to do is make the case to you that they have mismanaged our military resources. They haven't sent enough troops to Iraq. General Shinseki told them they'd need more. We need more troops in Afghanistan. They are now pulling in people who are 40 years old who haven't trained in years, waiting for retirement, individual ready reserve.
So the case is very clear that the president has overstretched the military, extending National Guard tours to 12 months at a time when they have no business being in Iraq.
BLITZER: But you write specifically -- let me just press you, Governor, on this point -- "Selective Service boards have already been notified that 20-year-olds and personnel will be called up first."
Where do you get that?
DEAN: Because I've talked to two members of local Selective Service boards. Governors actually recommend to the president who gets appointed to the local Selective Service board. I've talked across the country to at least two members of local Selective Service boards who have already been told that 20-year-olds will be first if there's a draft. Medical personnel will be next, and then there's a scaled-up until 26-year-old -- draft commitment after that, as to who they will be calling.
The plan is in place. I can't guarantee you there's going to be a draft. But I don't trust George Bush, and I don't think anybody else should either, having been told that we went to a war because Saddam Hussein was about to get nuclear weapons. And they knew all along that there was a strong argument that was not true.
We find that today. Why would we believe the vice president when he talks not drafting people? It'd be a sad thing for American families to re-elect President Bush and find out next March that their 18-year-old kids are going to end up in the army in Iraq.
BLITZER: Let's move on and -- let's talk a little bit about your book. The title of the book, "You Have the Power."
Among other things you write this. It's an intriguing passage that I marked. You quote Bill Clinton: "Bill Clinton once told me the American people will always vote for someone who is strong and wrong before they'll choose someone who is weak and right. I think that's true."
So what's the context of what -- you obviously write that thinking that Bill Clinton is probably right, in terms of the current race between Bush and Kerry?
DEAN: Well, again, I think it's something that John Kerry brought out in the debate.
George Bush keeps insisting that people know where he stands. Well, the truth is they don't know where he stands. He just insists, insists. He reminds of my son when he was about 12. He insists and insists.
He insisted that we weren't going to have a 9/11 Commission. Then we had one. Then he insisted he wasn't going to testify. Then we had one. He insisted Condy Rice shouldn't testify. Then she did. On and on it goes, back and forth and back and forth.
The president believes that appearing certain somehow means that what he says is true. And bad leadership when you're strong is not a good thing for the country. Fortunately, Senator Kerry showed on Thursday night that he's strong and willing to give us the right leadership and take the country in the right direction.
BLITZER: But it's not just the president. General John Abizaid, the commander of the central command in charge of that entire region -- he says the situation in Iraq is a lot better than a lot of people think. Listen to this little excerpt of what he said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, CENTCOM COMMANDER: I do think that there is a general lack of understanding in the United States of how things are going. The images that are on the screens are almost always of negative images as opposed to the important and positive steps that are taken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is General Abizaid credible in your eyes?
DEAN: Well, certainly he is. I have enormous respect for the American military. They've done a great deal for my family. And I think they're terrific.
However, 35 children were just blown up by terrorists who attacked American soldiers and Iraqi children in the opening of a water cleaning plant the other day. This does not strike me as being a situation that's well under control.
I have enormous respect for our American military. The problem is I don't have much respect for the civilian leadership.
BLITZER: And I think that's clear because you don't mince any words. Governor, as usual, thanks very much for joining us.
DEAN: Thanks very much. Good to see you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And the name of the book again is "You Have the Power." Howard Dean is now an author. "You Have the Power" -- Howard Dean's book. Thanks very much.
DEAN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead, 31 days and counting. We'll talk about where the presidential race stands, the candidates, the key issues. Two veteran editors: Mort Zuckerman of U.S. News and World Report and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine. They disagree. You won't be surprised.
"LATE EDITION" will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Joining us now, two seasoned observers of presidential politics and world affairs, both joining us from New York. Mort Zuckerman is the editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report. He's chairman also of the New York Daily News. Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of The Nation magazine.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
And, Mort, let me -- you travel all over the world. Do you understand why so many people around the world are nervous, agitated about President Bush's policy of preemptive strikes?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Yes, of course. In large part, it's because they see it as something that is almost a unilateral decision by the United States, and George Bush has not inspired the confidence of many parts of the world in terms of making this decision.
A lot of people were very uncomfortable about the United States going to war. And George Bush's rational for it did not sit well with many, many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, a part of the world that really doesn't believe in this kind of military response to a threat.
Of course, the fact is that the United States is the number one country. It's also the number one threat, and we were the ones who were hit on 9/11, and that changed everything for the United States. But they don't necessarily understand that.
BLITZER: Katrina, what is your assessment?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, THE NATION: My assessment is that this administration has made America more isolated, more hated in the world, and that America is stronger when it leads with alliances, when it works with international law. It is the crusade that this administration has launched by, as John Kerry said, this colossal error of judgment going into Iraq, has led America to destabilize a region it claims it's spreading democracy, and has undercut America's image in the world and has contributed to a sense...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, I'm sorry. But the preemptive doctrine has been -- the preemptive doctrine is one that has also led, Wolf, other nations to use that as a cover, to abuse human rights, to violate international law.
BLITZER: But, Katrina, let me interrupt. If, in fact, there are free and fair, relatively speaking, elections in Afghanistan and Iraq in the coming weeks and months, will -- and Saddam Hussein, of course, and his henchmen are all in jail or dead, will it have been worth it?
VANDEN HEUVEL: The question, Wolf, is, as George Bush has said, and was cited by John Kerry in the debate, and it is a debate we have not had in this election, are we now viewed as occupiers in a brutally hostile land that is Iraq? And that, to me, is a debate we need to have in this election.
I think the idea of phased withdrawal from Iraq should been on the agenda. And I think it may be that in elections in America today a sensible, sane debate that American citizens deserve, may just be too difficult to have electorally.
But I think this war in Iraq is an occupation that is not going to be resolved by military means. And the political solutions required have been dissed and dismissed by an administration, the Bush administration, which doesn't believe in political, diplomatic methods crucial in this world today.
BLITZER: Mort, I suspect you disagree?
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, no, I definitely disagree. If it were a colossal error of judgment on the part of President Bush, which I don't happen to believe, then it was equally a colossal error of judgment by John Kerry who supported this war.
And when he says he just authorized the war subject to this or subject to that, that's nonsense. Everybody knew what that resolution was all about. So let's start from there.
Now, the fact is that, until you eliminated Saddam's regime, you were never going to have a chance to have any kind of political or diplomatic engagement with Iraq. And the fact is, also, after 9/11, we had reason to be believe -- it turned out to be wrong, but certainly the president and John Kerry both saw the same intelligence, which you recall was described by the director of the CIA as a slamdunk to prove that they had weapons of mass destruction.
And on that basis, you have a very different condition today. When you have small groups of people with access to these kinds of weaponry who are willing to die in the process, and they certainly are as they've demonstrated over and over again, then we were threatened. You have to respond to that. You couldn't wait to...
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, Mort -- wait a minute, Mort. I thought John Kerry was very effective again in the debate, decoupling the attack of 9/11 from Iraq. There has never been any evidence except the manipulated intelligence deployed by the Bush administration sadly on Wolf Blitzer's show and on the other programs to say that there was a link. And that has scared the American people.
This administration has nothing to fear but the end of fear itself. And that is not policy. That is not national security policy nor is it a foreign policy that will lead America to be a more secure nation. So I disagree with you. And what John Kerry did was vote for the authorization to use diplomacy and all possible methods not to rush to war.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, the fact is that the president and the secretary of state went to the U.N., got a unanimous resolution. We had inspectors there trying to find out. They were unable to gain access to the information that we needed.
I mean, the notion that somehow or other, he just rushed to war, despite the fact that we went to the U.N., got the unanimous resolution, worked for eight weeks to get it, spent weeks and weeks and weeks after that trying to get the information that we needed is -- I just it is false.
And I also think the suggestion that John Kerry didn't know what he was voting for at that time is frankly disingenuous on the part of John Kerry. Now, it worked in the debate. I'm not arguing that. But that fact is absolutely untrue.
BLITZER: He says, Mort...
ZUCKERMAN: And if you watch what he said, if you watched what John Kerry said...
BLITZER: Let me interrupt. He says he knew what he was voting for. He wanted to give the president some political power to get U.N. inspections going, to get international support. He wasn't necessarily giving him a carte blanche to go to war.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Exactly.
ZUCKERMAN: Fine. Well, the president did go to the U.N., did get the unanimous support of the U.N. Little did we know that France had no intention of living by what was implicit in that resolution. We're going to disagree on that.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Oh, Mort, please. It's like the discussion in this country today about France is ridiculous.
But you know, it seems to me that if one is a true conservative in America today, you vote for John Kerry. Because what this administration did is basically roll back decades of bipartisan tradition of containment and deterrence. Containment was working when it came to Iraq. The U.N. inspectors had already destroyed the possibility of any imminent threat from Iraq.
And what we have now, Mort, is a diversion from the real problems the world faces, trying to resolve -- is the Israeli-Palestinian situation, and trying to deal with the economic crisis, the development crises facing the world.
BLITZER: We have 10 seconds, Mort, for you to button it up. Go ahead.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, listen. I mean, that's certainly a point of view. I happen to believe that the war on terror, the war against terror, does involve rogue terrorist states who have the chance to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist networks. And that is something we had to do something about.
It is a very different kind of a war. And these are people who are willing to do anything, as you saw from the assassination/murder of 35 children over the weekend. We must find a way to stop these people and the rogue states that support them.
BLITZER: Mort Zuckerman, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, a good solid debate -- short but to the point. We'll continue this down the road. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
ZUCKERMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, the results of our web poll question of the week: Who won the first presidential debate?
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Our "LATE EDITION" Web question of the week asked this question: Who won the first presidential debate? Among those of you who voted, 6 percent said Bush, 93 percent said Kerry, 1 percent said neither. Remember, though, this is not a scientific poll.
And that's your "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, October 3rd. Please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
I'm here Monday through Friday, twice a day, noon an 5:00 p.m. eastern.
A reminder: I'll be in Cleveland Tuesday for the vice presidential debate. CNN's special prime-time coverage begins Tuesday night, 7:00 p.m. eastern.
Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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