BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, war and politics.
Possible new clues about Saddam's fate and the impact of all this back home. Loyalists to Saddam Hussein continue to attack American troops as rumors about the Iraqi leader abound. Is he alive? If so, will we find him? And is resistance to Americans growing? We'll get the latest from Elizabeth Palmer, our CBS News Correspondent in Baghdad.
Then, we'll talk about how all this is affecting domestic politics in the coming campaign with the head of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, and the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator George Allen of Virginia. I'll have a final word on the power of picture. But first, the latest from Iraq on Face The Nation.
ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.
SCHIEFFER: And good morning, again. We're beginning this morning in Baghdad, because there is an intriguing story now out of London that says U.S. specialists are checking DNA on human remains that they have taken from a convoy that was attacked last week by U.S. forces near the Syrian border. They're checking because there are reports that those could be the remains of Saddam Hussein, and, perhaps, one of his sons.
We're joined in Baghdad this morning by our correspondent there, Elizabeth Palmer.
Elizabeth, first, what can you tell us about this report?
ELIZABETH PALMER, CBS News Correspondent: Well, apparently, U.S. ground and air troops staged a raid last Wednesday. It took them over the Syrian border. We know that some Syrian border guards, five, were arrested in the process. And part of the raid involved an attack on a convoy which apparently contained Saddam's inner circle. That's as far as the Pentagon is willing to go this morning. So perhaps not Saddam and his sons or son, but rather some of his very close inner circle. Now if it happened on Wednesday, that's two days after U.S. forces picked up Saddam's private secretary. And one of the things he has apparently told U.S. intelligence is that Saddam had been trying to escape from Iraq by going into Syria.
SCHIEFFER: Is the general feeling there now, Elizabeth, that Saddam Hussein is alive someplace?
PALMER: Well, it depends who you talk to but many, many people on the streets believe that he is. I was up at the university the other day where 15 or 16 of Saddam's race horses had been taken to be kept safely in the stables there. They had been being abused at the racetrack. And the young stable boys who are looking after them will tell you on the QT that they're looking after them just in case Saddam might show up and ask for them back.
Similarly, we had a fellow in here just a few minutes ago who swears he was taken to see Saddam Hussein who told him that he ought to keep fighting and keep up the resistance. So the myth is alive. Now whether Saddam is alive is another story.
SCHIEFFER: What is the impact of that myth, the fact that many people do believe he is still alive? Is that having an impact? Is that one of the reasons we're seeing this resistance that we're seeing?
PALMER: Presumably, a lot of people are not cooperating as fully with the American forces as they might because they're afraid that he's going to come back. I think the other thing is that it makes people hold back and not participate in the reconstruction in case Saddam comes back. They will perhaps be put in jail because as you know the reprisals against people who acted in any way against him in the past were brutal. Often people were simply killed. So I think the whole country is holding back until they see one way or another that he's either dead or behind bars.
SCHIEFFER: Now I know you talked this morning with the top commander, the U.S. commander there in Baghdad. How seriously is he taking these attacks that we're seeing? Have we become involved now in some kind of guerrilla war like Vietnam? Is this resistance just scattered? Do you get any impression that there is any kind of central command behind all of this?
PALMER: I talked to Colonel Michael Tucker who is one of the two top commanders in Baghdad and he used the Vietnam analogy. He said one of the significant things is you don't see the guerrilla, if you like, here, torturing collaborators and then making the torture public. In other words, they're not working up intimidation or fear yet. They are certainly, he says, beginning to do hit-and-run attacks on his men at fixed installations, guarding power plants, on sentry or checkpoint duty, and that sort of thing. So he says that they responded by stepping up their raids hugely. And he says in his estimation catching some of the people who are potential resistance fighters.
He said that they did pick up a couple of instances foreign fighters so that lends some credence to what in intelligence circles seems to be increasingly a phenomenon, that there are fighters from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi here in Baghdad trying to link up with the resistance.
But he did say that one thing you would expect to find if there was an organized resistance is reprisals against people helping the Americans, either working for them or giving them information, and he hasn't had one incident like that. So he's led to believe that at the moment they're very fragmented, they may be tapping into pools of money that belong to old Ba'athists, perhaps even wealthy donors outside the country, but they don't have telephones, they don't have decent radios, and they can't organize yet. So nothing he would call a resistance movement or a guerrilla army that has them terribly worried.
SCHIEFFER: All right, well, that's very enlightening, Elizabeth. Thank you very much.
All right. Well, we turn now from war to politics. We're joined by George Allen, the senator from Virginia, who is the chairman of the Senate Campaign Committee. That means he's the chief fundraiser and strategist for Republican senators or for Republican candidates running for the Senate next year. And we have with us also, Terry McAuliffe, who is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Senator Allen, you heard it, an American commander in Baghdad now using a Vietnam analogy. We don't know if Saddam Hussein is dead or alive. We have found no weapons of mass destruction. Again today, another American was killed in Baghdad. That brings it, I think, to 55 now since the president said that military operations have stopped. Beyond the tragedy, how long before this is a problem for the Republicans and for President Bush?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN, R-VA, Chairman, National Republican Senatorial Committee: I think all Americans this morning and every day that we hear that there's been one of our men or women in our military who's lost their life, out hearts go out to their families. The people of America support our troops. They support our president. They recognize that these troops are serving in a very precarious and dangerous situation. The opposition now is not an organized military -- regular group of thugs and remnants of that tyrannical regime.
We will never know how long it's going to take until it's actually done. But as soon as possible, we do want to constitute a government run by Iraqi people respecting individual rights, human rights, as well as trying to get their infrastructure up, whether it's the oil, water, electricity, so that they can have just the basics of living in a civilization.
So we're in a tough situation. Nevertheless, the people of Iraq are much better off today than they were under the brutal tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.
SCHIEFFER: Is this going to be a price that's too high to pay, Mr. McAuliffe?
TERRY McAULIFFE, Chairman, Democratic National Committee: I think it's too early to tell.
Obviously, there's an evolving situation in Iraq. There are many questions that we need answered.
Where are the weapons of mass destruction? And the reason that this is an issue, Bob, is that the president, as you know, in his State of the Union, used incorrect information based on a forgery. You had Vice President Cheney saying that they were reconstituting their nuclear program. All turns out, both those statements turn out to be false.
We need to make sure, as we go forward, that our Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency were not politicized. Did they exaggerate these claims as it related to our intelligence to justify them going into the war? And this is what's going on on Capitol Hill in both the House and the Senate. We're going to have hearings. But a lot of issues are out on the table.
Where is Saddam Hussein? Where is Osama bin Laden? These are legitimate questions that the American people are going to want answers to as we move forward.
SCHIEFFER: So are you ready to say at this point there's a credibility gap?
McAULIFFE: : There's a huge credibility gap. Obviously, you had the president of the United States in a State of the Union speech giving incorrect information. You have the vice president of the United States on March 16th of this year saying that they're reconstituting their nuclear program. We have, obviously, no evidence of that.
Clearly, there are inconsistencies. We now have members of the Central Intelligence Agency that say they were pressured to give information. They felt that the information they were providing was puffed up, exaggerated and that this goes to the credibility of our country all over the world.
SCHIEFFER: I guess at least one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Senator Allen, has come very close to saying the president lied.
ALLEN: You're talking about Senator Kerry. I was listening to Terry go through all of this. There are some of those who are opposed to this war. But if you look back at Senator Kerry back in 1997, 1998, supporting President Clinton's military strikes against Saddam Hussein. It is not just nuclear.
There's this clear and convincing evidence, not just from the United States, but from Britain, from the United Nations, and others that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical and biological weapons. It's not a question. I mean, that really was stipulated evidence. In fact, we know he used it against the Iranians. He used it against the Kurds, killing thousands and thousands of people. And the whole world recognized that he had the biological and chemical weapons and there is a legitimate concern that he could have handed those off to terrorist groups or used a container of it in Israel. And we do know also that Saddam Hussein was giving rewards to families who would send their sons or daughters into suicide murders in Israel.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. McAuliffe, Howard Dean, one of the Democratic candidates, has made some rather extraordinary attacks on the other Democrats, and a lot of it about their support of the war and other things. Do you think at this point that he is a problem for Democrats?
McAULIFFE: : No, he's exciting a lot of people across the country. I was just with him in Minneapolis the last two days. We had our 50 state chairs. We had a great meeting up there. Howard was there; gave a great speech. He is trying to stake out where he wants to be and he believes our party ought to be going forward. This is what we have primaries for. The primary voters will determine who the nominee of the Democratic Party will be. I believe we'll have a nominee, Bob, by March 10th, but all nine candidates are out there putting their agenda out.
I want everybody to be focused on George Bush because it's his disastrous economic policies the reason there's so much trouble in this country today. But let's be honest. They want to differentiate themselves. One of them wants to be our nominee. Whoever's our nominee is going to go on to victory in 2004.
We're going to beat George Bush just like we beat his father because, as you know, three million people have lost their jobs since George Bush became president. You've seen unemployment go up 49 percent. Long-term unemployment up 192 percent. Consumer confidence just dropped 30 percent. These are what the issues are going to be as we go into the election data.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let's talk a little bit about George Bush since you bring it up. I must say, Senator Allen, that President Bush apparently is extraordinarily confident going into this campaign. A big long story by Dan Balz on the front page of "The Washington Post" today, saying the president has told his people, `I don't want a lonely victory.' What he is saying is that he wants a big victory. He's talking about a landslide now and he's talking about winning a campaign and not just for the presidency but to get big majorities in both the House and Senate. What about that?
ALLEN: Well, I think the president clearly has been very helpful in the 2002 elections for the Senate and, thus, regaining a majority in the Senate. And so the president's going to run on ideas and he's going to run on his record of performance. I think the people of America really do like this president. They like him.
SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think at this point, that it's a given he's going to win and the only question now is: By how much?
ALLEN: Now understand I come from a football family and you never predict it and you have to respect your opponents, but you know what the voters are going to look at is: What's your record of performance? Not the path that's concocted by these political consultant buzzards, but
'What's your record of performance?' And the American people have seen his performance after 9/11, a tragedy -- a human tragedy that hit this country, united us, and to those depths of despair, we're coming back strong, how he wants to cut taxes to create more jobs, how to strengthen and improve Medicare, with the prescription drug benefit, how he wants to make us less dependent on foreign oil as well as invest in new technologies for energy.
SCHIEFFER: There's no question that he's been able to raise a lot of money. He did it before, and apparently he's going to do it again. So is he headed for a landslide, Mr. McAuliffe?
McAULIFFE: : Yeah, he's headed for a landslide defeat, you bet.
In the 2000 presidential election, I remind you, Bob, that George Bush had $150 million more than we had, and Al Gore did get 500,000 more votes than George Bush did. Listen, he can pile his money as high as he wants. He's not going to be able to hide his disastrous economic record in this country.
Ultimately, he is going to face a very potent force, the American people, and they're asking questions: 'Where's my job?' People who have lost their job -- nine million people in this country today do not have a job. People have gone from fulltime to part-time; overtime's gone. One out of every two Americans now fearful they're going to lose their job.
SCHIEFFER: But let me just interrupt here because his...
McAULIFFE: : But three college kids out of 10 are getting a job today.
SCHIEFFER: ...his popularity is still extraordinarily high. At this point, it does not seem to be that the economic message you're trying to make today is sticking.
McAULIFFE: : Well, I disagree. He is personally popular, but if you ask the second question, 'Would you vote to re-elect George Bush?' he's at 45. Any candidate under 50 percent is in trouble. He's at a 45 percent after he's done his aircraft carrier landings and all this other stuff.
We have a lot of issues. People are asking, `Where's my job? What happened to my 401(k)? Where's my health insurance? Where's my prescription drug benefit? Where's Osama bin Laden? Where's Saddam Hussein? Where's the proof of the weapons of mass destruction?'
Huge issues for us going forward. I'm excited about where we are.
ALLEN: And not a single positive, constructive solution from the Democrats. We are trying to get this economy moving. The Democrats fought us on the tax cuts for families and small businesses. The Democrats have not delivered in the past on the prescription drugs and strengthening of Medicare. They also have not delivered on an energy policy. Issue after issue, this president is leading with Republicans in the House and the Senate, and people don't want to hear a bunch of this pap and statistics.
ALLEN: We're trying to get this economy moving, and, in fact, indicators right now are very good.
SCHIEFFER: We will continue this...
McAULIFFE: : It will continue because it's bad news.
ALLEN: Well, but you have no solutions, just criticisms.
SCHIEFFER: We'll continue the good and bad news...
McAULIFFE: ...bad news.
SCHIEFFER: ...in just a minute.
ALLEN: All right.
SCHIEFFER: Back now with Senator George Allen and Terry McAuliffe and we're talking politics.
Senator Allen, what has been the impact of Hillary Clinton's book?
ALLEN: The impact of Hillary's book is it's even made her more of a leader for the Democrat senators in raising money, and she's had fund-raisers at her mansion. They're going to have fund-raisers all across the country. It does remind people of that administration.
You compare that to George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and I tell you, as a father, it's nice to be able to have the TV on at night and talk about the president without having to change the station.
SCHIEFFER: Terry McAuliffe, what do you think the impacts have been? Has it helped Democrats or hurt them?
McAULIFFE: : It's helped them. To have Hillary out there is energizing a lot of folks all across the country. She had a story to tell. It's out there, talked about her life experiences. Obviously, you know, close to a million people have purchased the book already. I mean, I love these Republicans. You know, they just can't get over the Clintons.
I just read a story which shocked me the other day. They spent $100,000 to chisel a plaque off of AID's headquarters that was in honor of Hillary Clinton; $100,000 to take her name off the wall. That $100,000 could have gone to help all these 500,000 schoolchildren who've lost their after-school programs. I mean, I just--they're small, they're petty. She is out there; she's a great senator for New York.
Her husband, as president of this country, 22 million new jobs created, more people moved out of poverty in the history of our country while at the same time, more millionaires, billionaires created; highest level of home ownership in the history of the country. That's a track record that I'm proud of, and that's what the American people want back. They want to see the economy going. They're tired of photo ops. They want jobs.
ALLEN: And you know what? If this election is based on the values of Hillary Clinton vs. those of George W. Bush, I think the vast majority of tax-paying, working people and families are going to support George W. Bush. And you see it in the fund-raising. The folks would rather be eating hot dogs and hamburgers at a Marriott with George W. Bush than sipping wine and nibbling cheese with Hillary at her mansion.
SCHIEFFER: Let's just talk a little bit about the Supreme Court. We may have some resignations this year. Both Senator Daschle and Pat Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, have called on the White House saying -- basically, what their message is, 'Let's talk about this. It doesn't have to be Armageddon. Let's see if we can't work out something together before we have another of these knock-down, drag-out fights over a Supreme Court nominee.'
Republicans don't seem very interested in that, Senator Allen. Why?
ALLEN: Well, I think that Alberto Gonzales certainly said that we'll listen, but there is no vacancy, and certainly we'll listen to Democrats. The thing that is so disingenuous about all this is while they send these sweet-talking letters and saying they want to consult with the president and Mr. Gonzales, meanwhile, Terry is running these ads calling George W. Bush, our President Bush, a madman, and they have this `Bushenstein' matter.
There's not even a vacancy and they're concocting this very vicious and negative approach, and calling President Bush a madman, and it's just the sort of level of obstructionism that we've seen on Miguel Estrada; highly qualified, he's argued cases before the Supreme Court, winning most of them; unanimous recommendation at the highest level, the highest rating from the ABA, and the Democrats will not allow a vote on him.
SCHIEFFER: Let's give Mr. McAuliffe a chance to respond to that. What about that ad? It was pretty strong.
McAULIFFE: : Oh, it's a little humor talking about a very serious issue.
ALLEN: A madman?
McAULIFFE: : Well, if he appoints an extreme right-wing conservative to the United States Supreme Court, I will tell you, Democrats, independent-minded folks who want to unite America all over this country, are going to come out. We need to be prepared for this.
ALLEN: Is Miguel Estrada a nomination of a madman?
McAULIFFE: : Well, if we knew where he stood on issues, we might have a better time figuring it out. But we are not going to let a conservative go on the court who is going to roll back public education as we know it in this country, civil rights, workers rights. We know how this administration feels about affirmative action. They've wrote briefs against it. And choice is a major issue. Sandra Day O'Connor is the swing vote on choice. And we are not going to sit by and let them pack the court with right-wing conservatives.
This is a 'read my lips' moment for George Bush. If he doesn't put an extreme right-wing conservative on that court, he is going to have heck to pay within his party, and we're not going to stand for it. We're going to fight it. I commend Tom Daschle and the rest of the Senate Democrats who are righting it.
SCHIEFFER: Do you want to respond?
ALLEN: Well, I just think it's very duplicitous to say you want to talk to the president on these -- there's not even a vacancy on the Supreme Court, and here you have these vicious, negative attacks. And it's typical of the obstructionism, the stagnation, the negativity from the Democrats while we're trying to move this country forward with better opportunity and prosperity.
And on these judges like Miguel Estrada, have the guts -- stand up, vote yes or no, and explain to your constituents whether you're for or against him. The Senate is to advise and consent, not to delay and obstruct. And American people think there ought to be a vote on Miguel Estrada, and the president's nominees.
McAULIFFE: : And I'd like to go back and we'll look at the Clinton record of the number of judges he put up and how many he got past. Many of his nominees languished -- didn't even get to committee -- very qualified people.
ALLEN: So why don't you have a vote on Miguel Estrada?
McAULIFFE: : I talked to Tom Daschle and members of the Senate, but we are going to make sure that we have justices on that court who matter and talk about negativity -- I mean, you ought to talk to your own Tom DeLay and look at some of the letters that he's sending out, and the last thing I will say, 'We need an investigation of West Star.' We have letters, $56,000...
SCHIEFFER: OK. All right.
McAULIFFE: : ...for tax legislation. It's wrong. John Ashcroft needs to stand up and investigate.
SCHIEFFER: I've got to go.
ALLEN: I thought you'd have one positive thing to say but we're going to keep fighting for America.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you, both. All right.
McAULIFFE: : Unfortunately, the facts are on my side tonight.
SCHIEFFER: We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.
ALLEN: Is that so?
SCHIEFFER: Finally today, some of the news from Iraq I understand and some of it, frankly, I just don't. Like the other day when I saw this picture on the front page of "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." Maybe it was on the front page of your hometown paper.
I was drawn to it because you don't often see American soldiers using fixed bayonets to hold off a crowd of protesters. But it was the caption that really got to me. It said the demonstrators were former Iraqi soldiers who'd come to U.S. headquarters to protest because they aren't getting their back pay.
Now wait a minute. The Iraqi soldiers say it's our fault they didn't get paid for fighting us? Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't remember a scene like that in those closing days after World War II. I thought we were right to topple Saddam, but that picture really bothered me because pictures can sometimes tell us more about war than words.
Seeing the Marines raise their flag on Iwo Jima told us about valor. Seeing Rosie the Riveter showed us changes on the home front. That naked child running from American napalm showed us the horror of good intentions run amok in Vietnam.
But that picture of Iraqi soldiers blaming Americans for not getting paid, to be honest, I'm not sure what it means. But maybe it tells us three things. First, that we're involved in something unlike anything we've faced before. Second, that we're nowhere close to a solution. And third, whether or not we were right to go to Iraq, we're in too deep now to walk away.
That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.