FTN - 2/17/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, President Bush's trip to Asia and the future of campaign finance reform.

President Bush has arrived in Japan. Next stop, South Korea. What will he say about the axis of evil? And is the United States preparing for war against Iraq? We'll ask the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Then we'll turn to campaign finance reform and its fate in the Senate. We'll talk with the bill's strongest opponent, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the author of the bill, Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have the final word on curling. But first, Dr. Condoleezza Rice on Face the Nation.

And we welcome Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor. She is in Tokyo, where the president arrived about five hours ago.

Dr. Rice, thank you very much for joining us.

DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, National Security Adviser: Nice to be with you.

SCHIEFFER: Your next stop is South Korea. We are told that South Korea is a bit upset about some of the remarks the president made when he talked about the axis of evil. What will you tell the South Koreans?

RICE: We will tell the South Koreans what we've been saying throughout the time in the Bush administration, that we both understand the nature of the North Korean regime. This is a regime that is repressing its own people, and that is spreading ballistic missile technologies around the world at an incredibly alarming rate.

At the same time, we've been very supportive of president Kim Dae-Jung's efforts to engage the north through the Sunshine Policy. Unfortunately, the north has been less than responsive.

We believe that it is important that there be reunification of families. After all, the Koreans are one people. We believe very strongly that president Kim Dae-Jung should try and engage the north.

And, in fact, we have an offer on the table at any time, anywhere to North Korea to talk about the various aspects of our relationship that are--for what the North Koreans are doing that's causing a problem for peace on the Korean peninsula.

So we have a policy that we believe works. There is no contradiction between telling the truth about this regime, which is what President Bush did, rallying the world to deal with the dangers there, and yet supporting our ally and friend in trying to engage it.

It is, after all, the South Korean-U.S. alliance and the presence of American forces here that has helped to keep the peace for almost 50 years.

SCHIEFFER: Well, of course, all of this is part of a much larger picture. The president talked about North Korea when he was talking about Iran and he was also talking about Iraq. Many people, as you well know, say this was a message aimed directly at Iraq.

I want to cut to the chase here. Are we about to go to war with Iraq?

RICE: Thpresident's taken no such decision. The president has made very clear that he thinks Saddam Hussein was a problem before 9/11 and he's still a problem.

This is a regime, after all, that has flaunted the international obligations that it undertook when it lost the Gulf War. It has thrown out international inspectors so that it can do whatever it pleases in trying to build weapons of mass destruction. It threatens its people, it threatens its neighbors. It couldn't even say last year that Kuwait had a right to exist. No one disagrees with the president that this is a very dangerous regime.

Now...

SCHIEFFER: Let me just--go ahead.

RICE: ... the status quo is not acceptable, but the president has been saying that we're going to have a broad-gauged policy against Iraq. And I can assure you, he's taken no decision about the use of force against Iraq.

SCHIEFFER: Well, is it fair to say that, one way or another, Saddam Hussein has to go, either through diplomatic pressures or other ways?

RICE: We've made no secret of the fact that we think that the world will be much safer when the Iraqi people have a regime that they deserve instead of the regime that they have.

It is hard to imagine Saddam Hussein ever doing the kinds of things that he needs to do to make others feel secure around him. He has, from the very beginning, attacked his neighbors twice, gassed his own people.

Yes, it's a very bad regime, and it will be better and safer for the world when he is no longer there.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Dr. Rice, the vice president is planning a trip to the Middle East in the future. Is he going there to get a coalition together against Saddam Hussein?

RICE: The vice president is going there for a broad agenda. He has not been to the region since he has been vice president. He's someone of enormous experience and who enjoys tremendous good will and respect in the region.

Obviously, we have a lot to talk with our friends and allies in the region about. We have to talk about the war on terrorism. We have to talk about the Middle East peace process and how to try and get that restarted.

Sure, Iraq will come up; it comes up in every conversation. But it is in a much broader context and with a very large agenda that Vice President Cheney is going to the region.

BORGER: When the United Nations takes up economic sanctions against Iraq in May, are you going to call for tighter, more focused sanctions, unfettered access for the nuclear weapons inspectors, for example?

RICE: Absolutely. We believe that, first of all, the sanctions, when we came into office, the president believed that the sanctions were becoming, as he said, Swiss cheese. And that it was important to build a new coalition and to, to regenerate the coalition around sanctions that could really squeeze the regime.

We want to be sure that the Iraqi people understand that we hae nothing against them. And so, the sanctions are now tailored to make certain that the regime cannot acquire weapons of mass destruction; that it cannot acquire military equipment.

It's not easy to impose and maintain this regime, but we believe that if we can get these sanctions passed it would be better.

And, of course, we continue to hope that Iraq would, would live up to its obligations from 1991. But it is not doing that. And after three years of no inspectors, it's going to be very tough to have an inspection regime that can actually assure that there are no weapons of mass destruction being produced.

SCHIEFFER: Once you go to South Korea, of course, after that, you'll be going on to China. We are told that in China as well as in Europe, as you well know, there is considerable nervousness about this new war talk that's coming out of Washington, Dr. Rice.

What is your message to the Chinese?

RICE: My message to the Chinese is first and foremost that we would like to have a productive relationship with China, and we believe that we are on the road to building a productive, honest, straight-forward relationship.

We have many things in common. For instance, the accession of China to the WTO, the World Trade Organization, is a very important step forward. The president will emphasize the importance of China carrying out rules and living up to the obligations in the WTO, for instance, to open Chinese markets to American agricultural products.

He will also talk about his hopes for Chinese entrepreneurship in a growing economy, about the importance of human rights and religious freedom in building a modern society.

And we will talk about some difficult issues that we have, proliferation.

But I have to say that, when it comes to issues of stability, for instance, on in the Asian region or in South Asia, we hope to engage China to be a partner in bringing greater stability to this region.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Rice, let me just ask you, when I said the Chinese seem to be exhibiting some nervousness, as you well know, that you're also getting some criticism in Europe.

Le Monde, after 9/11, as Europe kind of came together with America after the terrorist attack, had an editorial that said, "We are all Americans." But just this week, the same newspaper in France had an editorial that said, "Is the United States going mad?"

Is there a rift, is there what people are calling a continental drift now between the United States and its allies around the world?

RICE: These things are always overstated, particularly in headlines.

The fact of the matter is that the president has led and rallied a coalition against terrorism which is the great post-Cold War threat. He is rallying the world to deal with the threats that we face from weapons of mass destruction.

I would just remind everyone that, while the president speaks very plainly and speaks in morally clear terms, he has always ated with patience and with prudence, even after we were brutally attacked on September 11. This is not a president who went out firing off cruise missiles against whomever he could hit shortly after September 11.

We had a careful campaign that tried very, very hard and succeeded in sparing civilian lives in Afghanistan and that has given to the Afghan people freedom and a chance for a stable Afghanistan.

This is a president who has been successful because he is both morally clear and plain-spoken in describing the threat and prudent and yet decisive in the way that he goes after it. And I think that that experience with President Bush is what people will draw on and fall back on as we move forward.

BORGER: Dr. Rice, if I could just very quickly switch the subject entirely to a little domestic political squabble.

Last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell was speaking before a group of young people and he advocated the use of condoms by the world's youth, and he was summarily attacked by some people within your own party.

Do you think that attack was warranted on the secretary of state?

RICE: I believe, as several people have said since, that Secretary Powell was stating what is U.S. policy. First of all, that abstinence is obviously the preferred course, but no one would hope that people who are sexually active would not do so safely.

It is also the case that Colin and Alma Powell are two of the strongest supporters of abstinence education. And Alma Powell, in particular, has run one of the more successful programs, been supportive of one of the more successful programs in the Washington, D.C., area.

So I don't think there's any flap here, and I certainly know that the president doesn't feel that there is.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, thank you so much, and good luck on the rest of your trip.

RICE: Thank you very much.

SCHIEFFER: And when we come back, we'll turn to the other major story of the week, campaign finance reform.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now from Louisville, Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell, and in Stamford, Connecticut, Congressman Christopher Shays.

Senator McConnell, to you first. You have been a long and proud opponent of campaign finance reform. It passed the House last week. This morning a top Republican strategist, Ed Gillespie said that he believes the bill will pass the Senate and that the president will sign it.

Are you going to let this one go through?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY: Well, first, Chris Shays and his supporters had a great victory in the House the other day, but the bill is now in the Senate and it's amendable and it's debatable. And 41 senators have the ability to make some changes, and we are in the process, Bob, of reading the bill.

Parts of it, I read, were written by an outside interest group, and we want to make sure what's in the details. And there are some omy members who are even, believe it or not, even more irritated by this bill than I. I know one wants to offer an amendment that would cease the use of soft money immediately and have that money transferred to the victims of the Enron debacle.

So we've got a number of members who would like to offer amendments. There are some who think we ought to go into conference. The first thing to do is to read the bill and figure out what's in the details, and that will determine the strategy once we get back week after next.

BORGER: So, Senator, very quickly though. It sounds like, rather than filibustering this bill, which you seem to say you have the support for, you would rather have it come up on the Senate floor and have it amended? Is that a correct read of what you're saying?

MCCONNELL: Well a filibuster's possible, but the real question is toward what end? To kill the bill entirely or to change it or to send it to conference?

I don't think it's our goal to kill the bill entirely. I think there is going to be a bill.

And I might say, there are parts of it that are very good. The hard money increases are important, a step in the right direction. We've been operating under contribution limits set in 1974 when a Mustang cost $2,700, for goodness sake. So, you know, that is a good part of the bill.

Other parts I'm confident we can knock out in court. But there are other corrections that may need to be made, and we have the ability to do that in the Senate, and will.

BORGER: Congressman Shays, do you think that Senator McConnell can succeed in essentially amending your bill to death, or do you think you are going to get your bill, as is written, out of the United States Senate?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, R-CT: You know, I don't know. I just know that Mitch is a very persuasive person, he's also very powerful.

But I do thank him for allowing this bill to be debated in the Senate last time when it had 59 votes. And I do think the bill should be debated again.

It obviously can be amended. I would be arguing against that. I think amendments basically kill the bill. If it's sent to conference, it's dead. If it's sent back to the House and then people send it to the conference, it's dead.

So I think we've got a bill that has really complemented what the Senate did with some slight changes in the House. It's really the Senate bill, and they've already voted on it and had 59 votes.

SCHIEFFER: What's going to be the aftermath over in the House? We're hearing all kind of reports that the Republican leadership may be planning punishment for those of you who went for this bill in the House.

Are you hearing any of that, Mr. Shays?

SHAYS: Well, let me they this to you. First, Denny Hastert is one of the finest Speakers that's ever had the opportunity to serve in that position.

He's not happy because he believed that this was not a good bill for Republicans. I obviously isagreed, and so did a number of other members. I mean, this is a bill that basically ends the abuse of soft money, the large corporate contributions are out, the union dues money are out, and we enforce the 1974 campaign finance law.

So, we think this is a good bill. I know the speaker didn't, and he and the leadership opposed it.

But retribution, you know, there's always a consequence for everything you do in life, and then you just live with it.

SCHIEFFER: You know, David Broder, the columnist, is saying you better be care of what you wish for here, because he says that by passing campaign finance that the Republican Party, the president, may actually wind up in a much better advantage.

As a Republican, do you think this puts your president at an advantage in the next presidential election? Will he be able to raise more money where the Democrats, who usually fall back on soft money in those months after the early campaigns, may find themselves without any money? Is that one of the reasons you were for it, Mr. Shays?

SHAYS: No. I think it's a bill that is pretty even. I think Democrats have an advantage on election day in getting out the vote in the large number of union members who will do that. So Republicans need to organize their supporters to get out the vote.

Republicans have an advantage in terms of hard money. We raise more hard money, that's the limited individual contributions. So Democrats are going to have to learn how to raise more hard money.

So in the end, I think it kind of cancels itself out.

BORGER: Senator McConnell, let me ask you about the White House role in all of this, because it's been a bit controversial. During this past week, the White House spokesman indicated before the vote that, in the president's opinion, the bill might actually improve the system. A lot of Republicans in the House felt completely abandoned.

Do you feel you have the White House support in your efforts to change this bill or to kill this bill?

MCCONNELL: I don't think we'll need the White House to do this. The kind of changes we're talking about making, I would assure Chris, would not gut the bill. But there may be some changes that need to be made to just keep it from being a total disaster.

And the larger question really is, it won't be any less money spent in the next election; it will be spent by different groups. The parties will spend less, the outside groups will spend more. The overall amount of money will go up dramatically. So it kind of reshuffles the cards a bit, but really won't have any impact at all on the amount of money spent influencing elections in this country.

SHAYS: I would disagree with that, if I could. I mean, really what you have right now is that you have very powerful people, members of Congress, leaders of Congress, shaking down, taking extortion money from corporations so that they contribute hundreds of millions of dollars ultimatelto these campaigns.

We raise a half a billion dollars in soft money. And it's raised, it's sought out. I don't think that would be anything like the kind of money that we've seen in past elections.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator McConnell, you talk about changing the bill. What would you change about it?

MCCONNELL: Well, we're in the process of reading it just to make sure it's a workable bill.

One of the good parts of the bill is that it increases the hard money limits, but it may actually decrease what can be given to parties in hard money. The parties are already taking a bath here by losing soft money. If they're going to be able to get even less hard money, that's not a step in the right direction. I don't think even Chris thinks that would do violence to the overall concept of the bill.

In response to Chris's observations about members of Congress raising soft money, they'll still be able to do it under this bill. They'll just be doing it for outside groups, who will then go out and do what the parties used to do.

SHAYS: No. Our law makes it very clear that federal officeholders cannot raise soft money, period. It is against the law for any campaign activity.

And in terms of the amount of money for the political parties, we've increased the amount of hard money that you can contribute overall from $50,000 to $95,000, and the bulk of it has to go to the parties.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator McConnell, would you go along with some sort of bill that just flat outlawed soft money? Just forget about the other parts of it here. You say you're for hard money increases and all of that, that would be expected. But would you go along with something that just flatly outlawed the so-called soft money?

McCONNELL: Well, this bill seeks to do it for national parties.

Frankly, soft money is everything that isn't regulated by the federal government. Of course I'm not in favor of eliminating that. Groups have a right to go out and raise funds and talk about issues and even criticize people like us in proximity to an election.

One provision in this bill seeks to make people go to the federal government and register and raise hard dollars in order to mention people like Chris and me within 60 days of an election. That's going to be struck down in court, and you're looking at the plaintiff.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Let me then amend the question. Would you go along with the soft money provisions in this bill as it's now written?

McCONNELL: Well, I don't like them. And what we need to do is look at the provisions with the lawyers. We're doing that now. I think we'll have a sense by a week from now when we get back in what kind of changes might be needed.

It's possible, I would say to Chris that these will not be significant changes. It could be that they are. If they are significant changes, then we'll be in a full-scale filibuster in the Senate.

SCHIEFFER: All right About 30 seconds, Mr. Shays. I'll let you have the last word.

SHAYS: Well, all we're trying to do is enforce the 1907 law banning corporate treasury money and the 1947 law banning union dues money, and restore the 1974 law where the individual has more of a voice than the very wealthy special interests. That's the bottom line to this effort.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We'll be watching. We've been watching a long time. I have a feeling we're going to keep watching for a while.

We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, I know everyone else is worried about skating, but here is my Olympic question: What is all this about curling?

As I went to bed the other night, they were curling. I got up at 5:30 and there was more curling, or maybe the same curling.

And what is curling anyway? My wife wandered by the television the other night and said, "Are they bowling on ice?"

No, and they are not waxing the floor with those long-handled squeegees, nor are they skating without skates. They're sliding around on the ice in their shoes, the way we used to do it as kids when we'd slide down the hall in our socks.

They tell me that curling is very big in Canada, but what this looks like to me is something that people do so they can have a beer afterward.

Whatever it is, it is beyond me. The teams strategize, and then they slide those little smudge pots or tea kettles or whatever they are down the ice. And then the announcer says, "It's 4 to nothing," but I have no idea why.

The other night the announcer described a lady curler as the Roger Clemens of curling, said she liked to throw the high hard one. Say what? Roger Clemens?

I know it's my fault, but I am missing something here. Maybe the Summer Olympics will be more my thing. I hear they're going to give a lot of attention to miniature golf.

Well, that's it from us. We'll see you right here next week on Face the Nation.



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