FTN 3/17/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch on the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee blocked President Bush's latest choice for the Appeals Court last week and now Republicans are threatening retaliation.

Does this auger more gridlock in the Senate, and will Republicans filibuster campaign finance reform, which comes up this week?

We'll ask the Senate Leader Tom Daschle and get the other side from Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on the race for the Oscars. But first, Senate Leader Tom Daschle on Face the Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face the Nationwith Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. And from Rapid City, South Dakota, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle joins us this morning.

Mr. Leader, welcome.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, Majority Leader, D-S.D.: Thank you, Bob. Good to be here.

SCHIEFFER: Before we get to events on Capitol Hill, let me ask you about some late developments in the Middle East, more violence there this morning. Just as our representative, the U.S. representative to the Middle East Anthony Zinni, was trying to get the two sides together and reported some progress, we have had yet another suicide bombing in Jerusalem and a shooting in Tel Aviv.

This comes as the administration, we are told, is planning to offer U.S. CIA monitors, maybe even in Palestinian jails and in the Palestinian offices.

I'd like to ask you, do you think this is a good idea?

DASCHLE: I do think it's a good idea, Bob, because I think that our presence there is the only thing that will offer the stability that will be required, if we're going to begin the talks. So there's no doubt that, unless we're there, unless we have a presence, we really can't be optimistic about the future.

There will be setbacks. This is just another one this morning. There will be radical elements, especially among the Palestinians who don't want the talks to continue. But unless we are there, I don't think that there's any possibility that we can see success.

SCHIEFFER: Do you have any reason to be optimistic this morning about how things are going there?

DASCHLE: Well, I think the only real opportunity for optimism right now is the sense, over the last 24 hours, that both the Sharon government as well as the Palestinians were at least inching closer to the possibility of joining together in the same room for the first time in a long time for talks. That's about the only source of optimism today.

And I think the other optimistic note is the one you've just asked about -- our willingness to be engaged. To assert ourselves, like we are, I think is a catalytic opportunity for us and for them that could produce some results within the next 48 to 72 hours.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Senator Daschle, if I might please turn to some domestic policy right now. President Bush's director of homeland security, Tom Ridge, is refusing to testify on Capitol Hill, saying that he is a presidential adviser and therefore doesn't have to do so.

Democrats and Republicans say that he should appear on Capitol Hill to testify. Can you tell us why you believe he needs to do so?

DASCHLE: Well, Gloria, he is the administrator of a very important program right now. The president has said, second to defeating terrorism, creating our own security system in this country through a new network of homeland defense is essential.

It's going to cost a lot of money. It's going to involve a lot of the government. It will involve a lot of coordination between the administration and the Congress. The only way we're going to be able to do it effectively, is if we talk officially and unofficially between us and among us.

And so, I think it's essential. He is acting as an administrator. He's acting with all the rights and privileges of a Cabinet officer. He ought to come before the Congress and work in concert with us to do this job right.

BORGER: If he does not come voluntarily, do you think that you would subpoena him to testify?

DASCHLE: Well, we haven't come to any conclusion about what we might do. Coercion is not ever my first choice. I'm hopeful that we can demonstrate on a bipartisan basis. As you noted, there is a strong desire.

Republicans and Democrats in the House and in the Senate have said this is an untenable position that they are currently taking. We've got to find a way to break the impasse. He's got to work with us. There is just too much at stake.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just see if I can pin you down here, because last week, toward the end of the week, there were reports that you and the various committee chairs met to talk about this. And the reports coming out of that were, one of the options you were considering is subpoenaing Mr. Ridge. Is that, in fact, an option?

DASCHLE: Oh, it is an option, clearly, Bob. We want to look at all of the options at this point.

But we're hoping it is not a necessary one. We are still hoping that they will have a change of heart, perhaps by passing a resolution which indicates our strong desire to have him testify, perhaps, by simply sending a letter.

I know that Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens, the Appropriations Committee, sent a letter again on Friday reiterating their strong view that he must come before the committee. Perhaps things like that will work. We're hoping that that will be the case.

BORGER: Do you want to make his position a Cabinet-level position, perhaps, as Senator Lieberman has spoken about?

DASCHLE: I think that that makes a good deal of sense. Given the tremendous responsibilities he has, given the great need I think there is for coordination within the government.

It seems to me that elevating the position to that level makes sense.

Perhaps it could involve some other statutory responsibility that falls short of Cabinet level like the EPA, but I certainly would hold open the possibility that a Cabinet distinction in this case makes a good deal of sense.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Lieberman, some Republicans say, why are you making this distinction with Mr. Ridge? They say, after all, you don't call on Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, and she is certainly a very important official in the government. You don't call on her to come before the Congress. You look on her as one of the president's advisers. And of course, as we all know, presidential advisers don't come before the Congress.

Why are you separating out Tom Ridge and setting up this new thing for him?

DASCHLE: Well, that's a good question, Bob, but I'd say that the answer is very simple. He is acting as the administrator today. I've actually received letters from him indicating what the administration position is. The office is really somewhat ambiguous, but he is the one, clearly, as the spokesperson, the public spokesperson.

He is also the administrator of all of the array of agencies that are now being coordinated in response to the need for homeland defense.

So he's taking on a different role than that of Condoleezza Rice, who serves as an adviser to the president. This goes way beyond that. And for that reason, especially, it's important for to us to be able to coordinate and work with him, much more closely.

BORGER: Let me just switch for a moment, if I might, to another controversy on Capitol Hill last week. Democrats voted down, along party lines, the judicial nominee, Charles Pickering. And the Senate Republican leader, Trent Lott, says that that nominee should have gone to the floor, yet it was stopped dead in its tracks in the committee. Senator Breaux, this morning, a Democrat, said that it should have gone to the Senate floor, as well.

Is there are chance that you will let this nomination proceed to the floor of the Senate?

DASCHLE: Well, Gloria, that's unprecedented. I think maybe what Senator Breaux said is that the committee should have reported out the nomination without recommendation. But there is no precedent, in all the history of the United States, for us to circumvent the Judiciary Committee on judicial nominations at the district and circuit levels. That has never happened before. You could virtually eliminate the Judiciary Committee if we were to adhere to that practice.

So, what we have said is that the Judiciary Committee ought to have the autonomy, ought to have the responsibility to make the right decision. And in this case, they've made it, and I'm going to respect it.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Daschle, you have said before that the American Bar Association recommendations ought to be taken into consideration. And the American Bar Association, in this case, says that Judge Pickering was well qualified.

Why are you saying that their recommendations ought to be considered in one case but not in this case?

DASCHLE: Well, I think they ought to be considered, Bob, but that ought not be the only criteria by which we judge the qualifications of a judge. In this case, there were very serious concerns about perhaps the possibility of some ethical lapses. There's some real question of whether he was willing to uphold civil rights and voting rights laws in this country.

And so I think it was on the basis of those concerns, very serious ones. We got a good deal of information from legal analysts from all over the country, who shared the view that in this case Judge Pickering was not qualified to be a circuit court judge.

So while we look at the ABA, there are a lot of other experts and a lot of other sources we have to consider as well.

SCHIEFFER: What Republicans would say would fly in the face of that was that there was a multiracial delegation from his home state, including Medgar Evers brother and he was a great civil rights leader, who came to Washington. That delegation also included Mike Moore, the Democratic attorney general in Mississippi. These people all said that he is well qualified and that he has had the proper view on civil rights issues.

What do you say in response to them?

DASCHLE: Well, we respect their opinions a great deal, but we also respect virtually every single civil rights organization in the country who came out in opposition to Judge Pickering. Virtually every women's rights organization came out in opposition to Judge Pickering.

So there was a substantial degree of opposition from the organizations representing African-Americans and Americans of all backgrounds, who came out very strongly in opposition. That was part of the record as well, and of course we have to take all of the recommendations and ideas and opinions into account as these decisions are made.

BORGER: Senator, we seem to now be getting into a bit of a tit-for-tat situation as a result of this. Senator Lott has now held up a $1.5 million budget request from the Judiciary Committee to look into FBI counterterrorism. He's also holding up the nomination for an FCC seat of a former staffer of yours.

How do you react to Senator Lott doing these things?

DASCHLE: Well, Gloria, I think it's very unfortunate. Jonathan Adelstein had nothing to do with the Pickering nomination, so to lash out at him is an unfortunate set of circumstances that I hope that will cause Senator Lott to reconsider.

We're going to do the best we can to deal with all of the judges that have been nominated. You know, we've dealt with 41; we've confirmed 41 nominations. That is more than what the Republicans did when they were in the majority for an entire year in many cases. In 1996, not one circuit court judge was confirmed, not one. We've already confirmed seven in nine months.

So we're doing the best we can. We're going to continue to do more. We're going to build on the tremendous progress we've made so far. And I hope that people will judge us by that progress and by our intent to continue to confirm both circuit and district court nominees.

SCHIEFFER: Another subject. Campaign finance reform finally comes up this week in the Senate. What do you hear? Will the Republicans try to filibuster it? Because we hear that you say you have the votes to pass it.

DASCHLE: Well, we think we have the votes to pass it but the Republicans have yet to agree to a unanimous consent agreement that would allow us to vitiate the cloture votes. In other words, we expect right now that there will be a filibuster, which is why I brought the cots in last week.

If we have a filibuster, we're going to do it around the clock, beginning on Wednesday, because I need to get this done by Friday. And I believe we will get it done, either the easy way or the hard way, but it will be done by Friday.

SCHIEFFER: Another subject on politics, and that is Tipper Gore reports today that she may in fact be thinking of running for the Democratic Senate nomination in the Senate. Do you think that's a good idea?

DASCHLE: Well, I talked to Tipper last week and I also talked to Bob Clement. We are fortunate to have two very strong potential candidates. I know that Bob's going to make his plans known perhaps as early as tomorrow and Tipper is very seriously thinking about it.

So, this just represents another example of why we are so optimistic, Bob.

Now the Republicans have four open seats that they have to defend. I think we can win all four of them. Tennessee is the latest demonstration of that. We've got two excellent potential candidates, and I'm very excited.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just raise this question with you. If indeed she does decide to run, isn't this fairly high risk? Everything we hear, her husband is going to run again for the presidential nomination. Here is a person who could not carry his home state, Tennessee, in the last presidential election. If his wife should run and she gets beat, you would then have a wife who couldn't carry the home state and a husband who couldn't carry the home state.

Wouldn't that pretty much do in Al Gore as a presidential candidate the next time around if he decides to run?

DASCHLE: Oh, I don't think so at all, Bob. I think these are issues that come and go, and they've got to make their best calculation as to what they want to do.

And as I said before, Tipper Gore is a respected leader. She's a woman who has a tremendous amount of experience. She's been involved in a number of issues, especially mental health.

So she and, as I said, she and Bob Clement both would represent the best of the Democratic Party in Tennessee and I would think would be in an extraordinarily competitive position. So, we're excited, and we'll let whatever political calculations take care of themselves.

SCHIEFFER: OK, Tom Daschle, thank you so much. Talk to you soon.

DASCHLE: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a moment with a top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: With us now, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch.

Senator Hatch, President Bush's nominee for the appellate court, Mr. Pickering, has been turned down. What's going to be the fallout from that?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-Utah: Well, it's a real tragedy because here was a man who really was rated well qualified by the organization the Democrats called the gold standard, that's the American Bar Association. That's the highest rating they give.

This fellow had served 12 years with distinction in Mississippi and had a reputation as being one who, when it was really tough to do, lived up to civil rights.

SCHIEFFER: So, why did they do it?

HATCH: Well, I think a lot of it comes down to they want to continue the Old South reputation. I think it is a branding of the whole South. They want to keep that up because by doing so they can rally their very liberal forces into a whole wide variety of ways.

Secondly, these outside groups, you heard Tom Daschle say that the outside groups didn't like him. Well, these outside groups are all Washington-based. They're all far-left groups that never surface until there is a Republican president.

And I have to say that, you know when I was chairman, we had some right-wing groups come in and start making a lot of noise. I told them get lost. I made a lot of enemies. But that was where they belonged. They belonged to get lost, because we ought to make these decisions based upon the facts.

And in this particular case, here is a man who sent his kids to integrated schools, primarily African-American schools, at a time when other people in the South were avoiding public schools and going to private schools. I wonder how many members of our Judiciary Committee and members of the Democrats are sending their kids to private schools today here in Washington, D.C., because they don't think the schools are good enough for their white kids, do you see?

Now, this is a man who really lived right.

SCHIEFFER: What is going to happen as a result of this? Senator Lott is now talking about payback. He has blocked a nominee that Senator Daschle sent to the FCC.

HATCH: Well, that was done far in advance to this. I don't think that has any relationship to this.

SCHIEFFER: Oh, come now.

HATCH: Well, Senator Lott does not feel that person is qualified for that job, and I heard that before this came up.

But you know, in my wildest dreams, I didn't think that they would vote a man of Charles Pickering's qualifications down, with his son sitting there. And Chip Pickering, I give him a lot of credit. He was one of those who came in and advocated for Margaret Maro a very liberal judge in California that I had to ram through over objections because it was the right thing to do.

BORGER: Senator Lott is holding up $1.5 million for committee funding to look into FBI counterterrorism. Don't you believe the committee ought to be doing that?

HATCH: Well, of course I do. I jointly signed the letter, but I have to admit, our committee is heavily financed. And I think with the partisanship that Senator Lott is seeing, he doesn't see any reason to give another million and a half dollars to a group that won't treat a decent man like Pickering right.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Nickles said this morning that if something doesn't happen, if we are not able to resolve this divide here, Republicans are going to have to do something to get the attention of the Democrats.

What does that mean?

HATCH: Well, it can mean any variety of things. I can't speak for Senator Nickles.

You know what I would prefer? I would prefer we treat people with dignity and decency. Do you realize since 1950, there have only been four people -- we've never had a person stopped in committee unless the Democrats were in control. The last time we did was 1991 when Judge Ricecamp was stopped in committee and not given a chance on the floor.

In my six years as chairman on the Judiciary Committee over the prior six years, everybody went to the floor, and that's what is irritating a lot of Republicans.

BORGER: Senator, Democrats point out that three of President Clinton's choices for this 5th Circuit were not even given a hearing, meaning they didn't even get as far as the committee. So how do you respond to that? They say Judge Pickering at least got his hearing in committee.

HATCH: Well, first of all, they were put up quite late. Secondly, there were objections to them, and thirdly, there were some objections by the senators involved who do play a very important role in this process. And thirdly, there were some who didn't make it. But I have to say, we did a far better job than the Democrats are doing.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk a little bit about this Ridge situation. Should Mr. Ridge have to come up and testify before Congress?

HATCH: Look, he is the president's right-hand person. He is a member of the administration. It would be highly unusual to demand -- it is highly unusual to demand that a person who has no formal office other than as an adviser to the president has to come up and testify to Congress. And especially Tom Ridge, who is handling some of the most intricate, difficult problems in our society today, problems that all of us are worried about. And once that starts, he will be up there spending all his time on Capitol Hill rather than doing his job.

SCHIEFFER: But unlike Condoleezza Rice and some of the other advisers, he is asking the Congress for appropriated money to go to various agencies and he is deciding which agency gets it.

HATCH: No, he isn't. The president is asking and the president is taking his recommendations and saying, "This is my program, I'd like to protect America. I'd like to make sure we do something about terrorism. I'd like to have the cooperation of the Congress. I don't want my right-hand person that I have doing this all day long every day up there in front of a Senate or house committee every day. I want him doing his job." And you know, I kind of agree with the president on that.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Senator. I think you do.

(LAUGHTER)

HATCH: I certainly do, and he is doing a good job, this president.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, did you catch that story in the New York Times yesterday? The movie studios are now turning to negative campaigning to win Oscars. It's an art-imitates-politics kind of thing.

The people involved in the Oscar-nominated film, "A Beautiful Mind," say a vicious whispering campaign has been launched against their movie, and they suspect a competing studio's Oscar strategist is behind it.

That's right. The studios are now doing just what the politicians do.

They're hiring professional consultants, Oscar strategists they call them, whose only job is to find a way to win.

And just as it is in regular politics, when the consultants came on board with only one mandate -- to win -- the campaigns turned nasty.

The whispering campaign against "A Beautiful Mind" has sunk so low that the real-life professor John Nash, whose life the movie is based on, is being accused of being anti-Semitic. There is no truth to that, but the rumors are being taken so seriously that Nash is going on 60 Minutes tonight to deny them.

Well, why not? It worked for Bill and Hillary.

Well, what is next, fund-raisers and sleepovers in the John Wayne bedroom?

Guessing who'd win the Oscars used to be fun, but the revelation that the studios are now using the same techniques to win Oscars that politicians use to win the highest offices in the land is nothing for any of us to be proud of. To the contrary, it's about the worst thing you can say about anything. That's the sad part.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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