Iowa Public Television

 

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin

posted on May 18, 2005

Borg: IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, A PARTISAN SHOWDOWN. THE FILIBUSTER MAY BE A CASUALTY. COMMENTS ON THAT AND OTHER ISSUES FROM IOWA SENATOR TOM HARKIN ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

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ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MAY 13 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: THE DEEP PHILOSOPHICAL CLASH OF THE LAST ELECTION LIVES ON. IT'S ESPECIALLY PROMINENT IN THE CONGRESS, WHERE THE MAJORITY REPUBLICANS STRUGGLE TO ADVANCE BUSH ADMINISTRATION PRIORITIES, SPECIFICALLY THE PENDING SENATE CONFIRMATION OF THOMAS BOLTON TO BE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N., SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, ENERGY LEGISLATION, TAX REFORM, AND THE FIGHT OVER GETTING A SENATE CONFIRMATION VOTE ON THE PRESIDENT'S FEDERAL JUDGE APPOINTEES. IOWA SENATOR TOM HARKIN IS IN THE CENTER OF THAT FIGHT THAT COULD DESTROY THE FILIBUSTER PROTECTION THAT HE AND OTHER MINORITY DEMOCRATS NOW HAVE. SENATOR HARKIN, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Harkin: GOOD TO BE BACK, DEAN.

Borg: AND ACROSS THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE: "DES MOINES REGISTER" POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND "ASSOCIATED PRESS" SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR, I'D LIKE TO START WITH SOMETHING JUST A LITTLE PAROCHIAL. LAST WEEK THE PENTAGON ANNOUNCED ITS RECOMMENDATIONS ON BASE CLOSINGS. IN IOWA, THE BIGGEST HIT WAS THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, WHICH LOSES A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF JOBS. THERE WERE SOME OTHER LITTLE HITS AROUND THE STATE AND MAYBE SOME ADDITIONS. OVERALL, WHAT'S IN THAT IMPACT ON THE STATE, AND WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

Harkin: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I HAVE BEEN VERY SUPPORTIVE OF WHAT THEY CALL THE BRACK PROCESS, BECAUSE IT HAS TAKEN IT OUT OF POLITICS. YOU KNOW, A LOT OF THE BASES HAVE EXISTED SINCE WORLD WAR II, AND THEY NEED TO BE MODERNIZED. WE NEED TO CONSOLIDATE. WE NEED TO STREAMLINE THE MILITARY. AND DOING IT THIS WAY DOES TAKE IT OUT OF POLITICS. SO I'VE BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF THE PROCESS. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE RECOMMENDATIONS ON ROCK ISLAND AND ON CAMP DODGE, WHICH LOSES SOME, BUT SIOUX CITY GAINS SOME -- AND I THINK THERE'S A COUPLE OF OTHER SMALL RESERVE CENTERS BEING CLOSED IN THIS STATE, AS THEY ARE AROUND THE COUNTRY. JUST KEEP IN MIND THOSE ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE D.O.D. IT NOW GOES TO THE BRACK COMMISSION. BY LAW THEY HAVE TO GO VISIT THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL. AND WHEN THEY VISIT THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, I AM HOPEFUL THAT THEY WILL SEE THAT SOME OF THE ELEMENTS THAT THEY WANT TO TRANSFER OUT OF ROCK ISLAND WOULD BE BETTER LEFT THERE, I BELIEVE JUST FROM MY OWN KNOWLEDGE OF ROCK ISLAND OVER THE YEARS, THAT I CAN'T SEE HOW IT'S STREAMLINING OR SAVING ANY MONEY TO MOVE SOME OF THOSE TO OTHER LOCATIONS. SO AGAIN, I'M HOPEFUL THAT WHEN THE COMMISSION MAKES ITS RECOMMENDATIONS THAT IT WILL BE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS RECOMMENDING.

Glover: WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING?

Yepsen: WELL, WHAT I'M GOING TO DO IS DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO MAKE SURE THE COMMISSION AND THE HEAD OF IT, WHO IS AN OLD FRIEND OF MINE, BY THE WAY -- HE WAS A FORMER V.A. COMMISSIONER -- TAKES THAT INTO ACCOUNT AND REALLY PROVIDES FOR US THE RATIONALE FOR TRYING TO MOVE SOME OF THOSE CIVILIAN JOBS OUT OF ROCK ISLAND. AGAIN, I'M NOT AN EXPERT IN THESE AREAS, BUT FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN, I DON'T SEE HOW THIS REALLY SAVES US ANY MONEY.

Yepsen: SENATOR, CAN YOU TELL US AT THIS POINT WHETHER THIS IS A NET PLUS OR MINUS TO IOWA?

Harkin: WELL, JUST MY PRELIMINARY IS, DAVID, IT LOOKS LIKE MAYBE A NET MINUS IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER OF JOBS INVOLVED. IT MAY BE A NET MINUS, BUT THAT'S IF EVERYTHING GOES AHEAD WITH ROCK ISLAND. IF ALL THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN TO ROCK ISLAND, THEN IT COULD BE A NET PLUS.

Yepsen: ANOTHER ISSUE FACING THE CONGRESS IS THE CARIBBEAN TRADE INITIATIVE, CAFTA. HOW WILL YOU VOTE ON THAT?

Harkin: I DON'T KNOW YET. I'M STILL ASSESSING IT. I'VE GOT -- WELL, BASICALLY I HAVE SUPPORTED -- WELL, BASICALLY MOST OF OUR TRADE GROUPS IN THE PAST I'VE SUPPORTED. I TEAMED UP -- TALK ABOUT STRANGE BEDFELLOWS IN POLITICS; I TEAMED UP WITH JESSE HELMS IN THE YEAR 2000 AFTER HAVING FOUGHT FOR YEARS TO GET CHILD LABOR PROVISIONS IN OUR TRADE BILLS. I TEAMED UP WITH JESSE HELMS IN 2000 TO PUT A VERY STRICT CHILD LABOR PROVISION IN THE GENERALIZED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES, OUR GSP. THAT'S THERE. WELL, THE ADMINISTRATION HAS NOW COME AND TAKEN IT OUT. SO NOW WE PUT IT IN GSP, BUT NOW THEY'VE TAKEN IT OUT ON CAFTA, AND THAT REALLY UPSETS ME. WE HAD A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT TO BE STRONG AGAINST CHILD LABOR, AND THEY TOOK IT OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT. AND THAT MAY BE THE TIPPING POINT FOR ME ON THIS ONE.

Borg: I MENTIONED THE FILIBUSTER AS I INTRODUCED YOU. WHEN YOU WERE IN THE MAJORITY, DEMOCRATS, YOU SPOKE IN FAVOR OF ELIMINATING THAT.

Harkin: SOMEHOW I THOUGHT YOU MIGHT BRING THAT UP, DEAN.

Borg: YOU RECALL THAT, DON'T YOU?

Harkin: OH, YES, I SURE DO. I'M REMINDED OF IT A LOT THESE DAYS.

Borg: THE SHOE IS ON THE OTHER FOOT NOW. CAN YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT THE FILIBUSTER?

Harkin: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, KEEP IN MIND, I NEVER -- EVEN WHEN I SUGGESTED THIS BACK WITH JOE LIEBERMAN BACK IN THE MID '90S, I HAD NEVER SAID THAT WE OUGHT TO VIOLATE THE RULES OF THE SENATE IN ORDER TO ADOPT IT. I SAID LET'S GO THROUGH THE NORMAL PROCEDURE, THE RULES OF THE SENATE, AND CHANGE THEM. THAT'S NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE. THAT'S NOT WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE. THEY'RE NOT GOING THROUGH THE NORMAL PROCEDURE OF COMMITTEE HEARINGS, PROPOSING RULE CHANGES, AND GOING TO A VOTE OF THE SENATE. THAT'S WHY THEY'RE CALLING THIS THE NUCLEAR OPTION. IT JUST DOES NOT FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE SENATE WHATSOEVER, SO THAT'S A KEY DIFFERENCE. AND THOSE WHO SAY I'M CHANGING MY MIND -- I WILL POINT OUT THAT 24 REPUBLICANS VOTED AGAINST MY MEASURE AT THAT TIME, AND NOW THEY'RE VOTING FOR THIS ONE. SO WHY HAVE THEY CHANGED THEIR MINDS ON IT? I THINK THE BASIC THING TO KEEP IN MIND ON THIS FILIBUSTER THING IS THAT -- IS THE WAY IT'S BEING DONE. IF IT WAS THROUGH THE NORMAL PROCESS, WE COULD HAVE A DEBATE, VOTE, AND SEE WHAT WE WANT TO DO. THAT'S WHAT I HAD PROPOSED TEN YEARS AGO. WHAT THEY WANT TO DO IS THEY'RE SETTING UP THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO TELL US WHAT THE RULES OF SENATE ARE. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES IS VERY CLEAR. ARTICLE I, SECTION V: EACH HOUSE SHALL DETERMINE ITS RULES. IT DOESN'T SAY THE VICE PRESIDENT SHALL. IT SAYS THE HOUSE -- EACH HOUSE SHALL DETERMINE ITS RULES OF PROCEDURE. WE HAVE A RULE OF PROCEDURE IN THE SENATE. NOW WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO IS SAY THAT VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY CAN COME IN AND UNILATERALLY DECIDE WHAT THE RULES OF THE SENATE ARE.

Borg: YOU'RE CRITICIZING THE PROCEDURE BUT THE NET EFFECT IS WHAT'S GOING TO HURT IF INDEED IT HAPPENS.

Harkin: WELL, I THINK BASICALLY, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE ONE PARTY CONTROLLING THE WHITE HOUSE, THE SENATE, THE HOUSE, AND THE THIRD BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT. THAT'S WHAT BOTHERS ME MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, THAT THEY'LL BE ABLE TO CONTROL ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT. AND OUR FRAMERS OF OUR CONSTITUTION NEVER, EVER ENVISIONED THAT, AND I HOPE WE DON'T EITHER.

Yepsen: SENATOR, DOES IT BOTHER YOU AT ALL THAT YOU'RE NOW ON THE SAME SIDE AS SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS WERE DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA WHEN THE FILIBUSTER WAS USED TO BREAK CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION? DOESN'T THAT TROUBLE YOU AT ALL?

Yepsen: SURE IT DOES. IT TROUBLES ME THAT THE FILIBUSTER HAS BEEN USED -- IN MUCH OF OUR PAST, OUR FILIBUSTER HAS BEEN USED TO STOP PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATION. THAT IS TRUE. BUT AGAIN, THE RIGHTS OF THE MINORITY DO NEED TO BE PROTECTED. YEAH, IT DOES PAIN ME. I WOULD NEVER HAVE SUPPORTED THE FILIBUSTER IN THOSE DAYS OR WHAT THEY WERE DOING. BUT NOW WE SEE A HUGE POWER GRAB. YOU SEE, THEY WERE USING THE FILIBUSTER TO STOP PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATION. WHAT THIS ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO DO NOW IS TO DO AWAY WITH THE FILIBUSTER IN ORDER TO TAKE OVER ALL OF THE POWER OF THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT, EVEN IN THE JUDICIARY. EVEN WHEN THE SOUTHERNERS WERE USING THE FILIBUSTER, THEY WERE NOT TAKING OVER THE CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE AND EVERYTHING ELSE. THEY WERE JUST TRYING TO STOP CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION. AS BAD AS THAT IS, IT'S STILL NOT TAKING OVER THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT. THAT'S WHAT THIS IS. THIS IS A POWER GRAB, THE LIKES OF WHICH WE HAVE NOT SEEN SINCE FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT TRIED TO PACK THE COURT IN 1937.

Glover: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE THAT HAPPENED JUST THIS PAST WEEK, THERE WAS AN EVACUATION IN WASHINGTON. A PLANE FLEW INTO AN UNAUTHORIZED AREA, AND A LOT OF BUILDINGS WERE EVACUATED. IN THE DAYS THAT HAVE FOLLOWED THAT EVACUATION, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF CRITICISM OF THE WAY THAT WAS HANDLED -- THAT INCIDENT WAS HANDLED. DO YOU HAVE CRITICISMS OF THE WAY THAT INCIDENT WAS HANDLED? WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THAT? DID WE JUST NOT DO THINGS RIGHT?

Harkin: WELL, WE'VE JUST GOTTEN -- I THINK WE OVERREACT A LOT OF TIMES TO THINGS LIKE THAT. WE NEED A BETTER PROCESS AND PROCEDURE FOR THESE TYPES OF THINGS. YES, A PLANE WAS COMING DOWN. THEY'D BEEN TRACKING IT. AND BEING A PILOT MYSELF, WHEN I LATER FOUND OUT THAT THEY'D SENT UP A HELICOPTER AND THEY FOUND OUT IT WAS A CESSNA 150 WITH TWO PILOTS IN IT AND THAT'S ALL, HARDLY ANYTHING THAT COULD DO ANY DAMAGE TO ANYTHING, THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN GOTTEN OUT. A LOT OF OUR PEOPLE -- OUR POLICE OFFICERS IN THE CAPITOL DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING. THEY WERE JUST TOLD WE HAD TO EVACUATE THE CAPITOL. SO THE FLOW OF INFORMATION WAS NOT GOOD. TOM RIDGE SAID A FEW DAYS AGO THAT WHEN HE WAS THE HEAD OF OUR HOMELAND SECURITY THAT A LOT OF TIMES THEY'D WANT HIM TO RAISE THE THREAT LEVEL, AND HE'D SAY, "FOR THAT LITTLE THING WE'VE GOT TO RAISE THE THREAT LEVEL?" SO I REALLY DO -- I THINK WE'VE GOT TO GO BACK IN AND DO A BETTER ASSESSMENT OF WHAT IS A THREAT AND WHAT IS NOT A THREAT. I THINK MANY TIMES WE JUST OVERREACT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER IMPORTANT ISSUE ON THE PLATE IN CONGRESS IS SOCIAL SECURITY. WE KNOW YOU DON'T LIKE THE PRESIDENT'S PROPOSAL. DEMOCRATS DON'T LIKE IT. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

Harkin: I WANT TO SAVE IT, DAVID. I WANT TO SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY

Yepsen: DO NOTHING?

Harkin: I WANT TO SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY. THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS WE CAN DO. BUT FIRST OF ALL, KEEP IN MIND IT'S NOT A CRISIS. NOTHING HAPPENS -- WE'RE ABLE TO PAD 100 PERCENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR ABOUT THE NEXT FORTY YEARS AT LEAST. MAYBE FORTY TO FIFTY, SOMEWHERE IN THAT RANGE. SO WHAT'S THE CRISIS? WE'VE GOT TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHAT WE WANT TO DO AND TO DO IT RIGHT. THERE'S NO CRISIS OUT THERE. IT'S MANUFACTURED BY PRESIDENT BUSH. AND THIS IDEA OF PRIVATIZING IT? YOU KNOW, THERE'S A JOKE GOING AROUND DEMOCRATIC CIRCLES NOW: THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN OUT ON THIS 60-DAY OR 60-STOP ROAD TRIP OF HIS, AND EVERY TIME HE'S BEEN OUT THERE, HE GOES DOWN IN THE POLLS. WE WANT HIM TO EXTEND IT TO 120 DAYS. WE'LL EVEN BUY HIS TICKETS FOR HIM, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND IT, PEOPLE GET IT. THEY KNOW WHAT PRIVATIZATION WILL DO TO SOCIAL SECURITY. THEY SEE WHAT HAPPENED TO UNITED AIRLINES' PENSIONS THIS WEEK, WHAT HAPPENED TO TYCO PENSIONS, WHAT HAPPENED TO WORLDCOM PENSIONS, WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ENRON PENSIONS. AND THEY'RE SAYING, WAIT, YOU WANT TO DO THAT TO SOCIAL SECURITY TOO? FORGET ABOUT IT.

Yepsen: SO WHEN DO DEMOCRATS COME WITH SOME SOLUTIONS OF THEIR OWN HERE?

Harkin: I BASICALLY THINK WE HAVE. LOOK, WE HAVE SAID, FIRST, DO NO HARM. IT'S THIS WHOLE IDEA OF PRIVATIZATION. THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID THAT HE WANTS -- THAT HE'LL BE FOR PRIVATIZATION UNTIL HIS LAST DAY IN OFFICE. I'M TELLING YOU IT IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL IN THE CONGRESS. DEAD ON ARRIVAL, PRIVATIZATION. BEFORE WE CAN HAVE A MEANINGFUL DISCUSSION ON THE LONG-TERM SOLVENCY OF SOCIAL SECURITY, THE PRESIDENT HAS TO TAKE PRIVATIZATION OFF THE TABLE. AS LONG AS HE HAS PRIVATIZATION THERE, NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. SO THE BALL IS IN HIS COURT. THE PEOPLE DON'T WANT PRIVATIZATION. THE POLLS SHOW THAT. CONGRESS DOESN'T WANT IT. HE'S GETTING NOWHERE WITH IT. IF HE'D JUST TAKE PRIVATIZATION OFF THE TABLE AND SAY, OKAY, NOW LET'S DO IT -- NOW, I CAN TELL YOU THAT IF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE TWO COMMITTEES, THE TWO -- FINANCE AND THE WAYS AND MEANS, IF THE CHAIRMAN ON THE SENATE SIDE, SENATOR GRASSLEY, AND CHAIRMAN ON THE HOUSE SIDE, CONGRESSMAN THOMAS FROM CALIFORNIA, IF THOSE TWO JUST SAID, LOOK, PRIVATIZATION IS DEAD, GET IT OFF THE TABLE, I THINK WE COULD MAKE SOME BIG PROGRESS.

Glover: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE THAT DEAN MENTIONED IN THE OPENING IS THE BOLTON NOMINATION TO THE AMBASSADORSHIP. GIVE US YOUR PREDICTION ON THAT, AND GIVE US YOUR OPINION ON IT.

Harkin: WELL, FIRST, I'M NOT ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, SO I DON'T HAVE REALLY INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF A LOT OF THIS. I JUST KNOW FROM TALKING TO COLLEAGUES AND EVERYTHING. I ASSUME THAT HE'LL HAVE THE VOTES TO PASS, BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT. IT WILL BE CLOSE. I THINK THERE WILL BE SOME REPUBLICANS WHO WILL VOTE AGAINST HIM. I THINK THAT'S INDICATED ALREADY. SO IF THERE'S THREE OR FOUR REPUBLICANS WHO VOTE AGAINST HIM AND HE DOESN'T GET ANY DEMOCRATIC VOTES, YOU'RE DOWN TO MAYBE A VICE PRESIDENT BREAKING A TIE VOTE TO GET BOLTON TO THE U.N. >>

Glover: BUT YOUR ASSUMPTION IS HE GETS CONFIRMED?

Harkin: MY ASSUMPTION IS THAT THEY'LL TURN THE SCREWS ON ALL THE REPUBLICANS TO GET HIM INTO THE UNITED NATIONS. LIKE I SAID, I DON'T KNOW BOLTON. TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, I NEVER MET THE MAN. I JUST FIND IT ODD THAT CONDOLEEZZA RICE, OUR SECRETARY OF STATE, WOULD SAY THAT HE -- WE CAN SEND HIM TO THE U.N. BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO CLOSELY SUPERVISE HIM. WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET HIM SAY ANYTHING ON HIS OWN. WHAT KIND OF A RINGING ENDORSEMENT IS THAT, THAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEND SOMEONE TO THE U.N. THAT YOU'VE GOT TO MONITOR EVERY DAY WHAT HE SAYS?

Borg: DOES THAT CRIPPLE HIM AT THE U.N., SQUEAKING THROUGH A CONFIRMATION LIKE THAT?

Harkin: I WOULD THINK SO. I WOULD THINK THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT IT. AND IF HE CAN'T -- IF WE DON'T HAVE -- IF THE SECRETARY OF STATE DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH CONFIDENCE IN THE PERSON AT THE UNITED NATIONS THAT SHE WON'T LET HIM SAY ANYTHING UNLESS IT'S APPROVED BY HER, WHY DOESN'T SHE JUST GO BE THE U.N. REPRESENTATIVE? I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO DO HERE. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, ANOTHER ISSUE ON THE MINDS OF A LOT OF IOWANS IS IRAQ. WHEN CAN THE TROOPS COME HOME?

Harkin: WELL, I'M SORRY. WHAT WAS THE QUESTION?

Yepsen: WHEN CAN THE TROOPS COME HOME?

Harkin: WHEN CAN THE TROOPS COME HOME? PERHAPS AFTER THE CONSTITUTION IS ADOPTED THIS FALL AND THEY HAVE -- THE NEXT ELECTION IS SET FOR DECEMBER, IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN. I THINK WE OUGHT TO BE THINKING ABOUT AN EXIT STRATEGY RIGHT AFTER THAT.

Yepsen: AND DOES THAT SEND A SIGNAL TO INSURGENTS TO KEEP UP THE FIGHT IF WE SET A DATE CERTAIN TO GET OUT?

Harkin: LOOK, I THINK YOU'VE GOT A SITUATION THERE THAT IS A CIVIL WAR THAT'S BEEN IN THE MAKING FOR A LONG TIME, EVER SINCE THE BRITISH CARVED IT UP AND MADE IRAQ OUT OF THE KURDS AND THE SHIITES AND THE SUNNIS. IT'S MUCH AKIN TO YUGOSLAVIA. YOU KNOW, IT WAS HELD TOGETHER BY TITO, WHO WAS A DICTATOR, NOT AS BAD AS SADDAM, OBVIOUSLY, BUT A DICTATOR. AND AS SOON AS HE DIED, LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. WE MAY JUST HAVE TO FACE THE REALITY THAT IRAQ IS GOING TO HAVE SOME REAL PROBLEMS DOWN THE ROAD NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, WE'RE NOT -- WE CAN'T MAKE IT A GARRISON STATE UNLESS WE'RE WILLING TO PUT IN, OH, I WOULD JUST VENTURE A GUESS FROM MY OWN -- FROM THE APPROPRIATION STANDPOINT OF FUNDING THIS OPERATION, UNLESS WE'RE WILLING TO PUT IN 500- TO 700,000 TROOPS AND KEEP THEM THERE, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE THIS GOING ON YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR.

Glover: THERE IS AN ARGUMENT AMONG THE GROUP CALLED NEOCONSERVATIVES THAT WE OUGHT TO HAVE A PERMANENT AMERICAN PRESENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND IN IRAQ.

Harkin: MY POINT IS, ARE THEY SAYING HOW MANY, MIKE? NO. IF YOU JUST HAVE THE LEVEL THAT WE HAVE THERE NOW, THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP PICKING US OFF. THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP PICKING US OFF, AND THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP UP THIS KIND OF INSURGENCY. TO REALLY PUT DOWN THAT INSURGENCY AND TO KEEP IT DOWN FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, LET'S SAY FIVE TO TEN YEARS, YOU'LL NEED 5- TO 700,000 TROOPS THERE ALL TIME. WE'VE ALREADY SPENT $200 BILLION OF OUR TAXPAYERS' MONEY. WE'VE LOST WHAT NOW, ALMOST 1,600 AMERICAN LIVES, OVER 12,000 CASUALTIES. HOW MUCH MORE ARE WE GOING TO SPEND? WE'RE ALREADY LOOKING -- EVEN IF WE WIND THIS THING DOWN, WE MAY SPEND A HALF TRILLION DOLLARS ON IRAQ. AND WHAT HAVE WE GOT FOR IT? SO NOW I THINK WE'VE GOT TO FACE UP TO THE FACT THAT THIS HAS BEEN A MESS FROM THE BEGINNING. IT'S BEEN WRONG FROM THE BEGINNING. THE REASONS FOR GOING THERE WERE WRONG. AND I THINK THAT ONCE THEY GET THE CONSTITUTION -- ONCE THEY HAVE THEIR ELECTION IN DECEMBER, WE OUGHT TO START GETTING OUT OF THERE. LET ME JUST SAY ONE OTHER THING ON THIS SHOW TONIGHT. I JUST VOTED FOR ANOTHER SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION. THAT'S KIND OF A FUNNY WORD, "SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION." BUT ALL OF THE FUNDING FOR IRAQ HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN THESE EMERGENCY APPROPRIATIONS. WHAT THAT MEANS IS IT'S NOT COUNTED ON THE BUDGET, SO THEY'RE TRYING TO HIDE THE COST OF THE WAR. WELL, I'M TELLING YOU, I THINK I MAY HAVE VOTED FOR MY LAST EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL. NO MORE. I'M NOT GOING TO DO THIS ANYMORE. IF THEY WANT MORE MONEY FOR IRAQ, LET THEM COME TO THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE, SPELL OUT WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO WITH IT, WHAT THEY NEED, AND LET'S PUT IT ON THE BUDGET SO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IT'S COSTING US.

Glover: SENATOR, IT WOULDN'T BE AN OFFICIAL "IOWA PRESS" SHOW IF WE DIDN'T TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT POLITICS, SO WE'D LIKE TO DO A LITTLE POLITIC TALKING HERE.

Harkin: IT'S A LITTLE EARLY FOR THAT, ISN'T IT, MIKE?

Glover: OH, NO, IT ISN'T. IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR THAT. AND THE FIRST PLACE TO START IS YOUR OWN FUTURE. ARE YOU RUNNING AGAIN?

Harkin: WELL, I DON'T KNOW. I'VE GOT THREE MORE YEARS LEFT IN MY TERM. BUT I MUST TELL YOU, I JUST HAD MY PHYSICAL THIS YEAR, AND I'M IN GREAT PHYSICAL SHAPE. THAT MAY BE -- MY OPPOSITION MAY SAY I'M NOT ALL THAT SHARP ANYMORE, BUT I FEEL VERY GOOD. I LOVE MY JOB. I LIKE MY WORK. THE PEOPLE OF IOWA HAVE INVESTED A LOT IN ME IN TERMS OF MY TENURE AND MY SENIORITY, SO I'M ABLE TO DO GOOD THINGS FOR THE STATE OF IOWA. SO GOD WILLING, IF MY HEALTH CONTINUES, I SEE NO REASON WHY I SHOULDN'T.

Yepsen: YOUR PARTY, SENATOR, IS GOING THROUGH A REAL DISCUSSION RIGHT NOW OVER THE CAUCUSES, THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY, AND THE PROCESS THAT YOU USE TO NOMINATE YOUR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. WHAT SHOULD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY DO ABOUT ITS NOMINATING PROCESS?

Harkin: WELL, KEEP IOWA FIRST -- I'M SURE THAT SHOCKS YOU THAT I WOULD SAY THAT -- AND NEW HAMPSHIRE SECOND. I THINK THE WAY IT STARTS IS FINE. AND AS YOU KNOW OUR PARTY -- THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS MEETING TOMORROW IN CHICAGO WITH THIS COMMISSION TO LOOK AT POSSIBLY CHANGING IT. ALL THE INDICATIONS I HAVE ARE THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP THE SAME THING. MY RECOMMENDATION IS JUST TO CHANGE WHAT COMES AFTERWARD. IT'S TOO FRONT-LOADED. IN OTHER WORDS, HAVE THE STARTING GATE IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. THERE'S A LOT OF REASONS FOR THAT. I CAN GO INTO THAT IF YOU WANT. BUT THEN AFTER THAT, LET'S STRETCH THEM OUT A LITTLE BIT SO WE DON'T HAVE IT ALL BUNCHED UP AT THE BEGINNING, SO IT STRETCHES OVER A COUPLE MONTH'S PERIOD OF TIME.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE BIGGEST CRITICS OF THE CAUCUS PROCESS IS YOUR COLLEAGUE IN THE SENATE, CARL LEVIN OF MICHIGAN. HAVE YOU TALKED TO SENATOR LEVIN ABOUT THIS? WOULD THAT SATISFY HIM?

Harkin: WELL, I DON'T THINK SO. CARL AND I HAVE LOCKED HORNS ON THIS FOR A LONG TIME. HE'S A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, BUT EVERY TIME THAT HE'S COME UP WITH A POSSIBLE SOLUTION, IT DOESN'T WORK. NO MATTER WHAT STATE WANTS TO GO FIRST, SOME OTHER STATE SAYS, WELL, WHY NOT US.

Yepsen: BASICALLY, HE WANTS MICHIGAN TO GO FIRST.

Harkin: WELL, OF COURSE. OF COURSE HE DOES BUT ALL THE OTHER STATES -- CALIFORNIA SAYS, "WHAT'S WRONG WITH US," OR NEW YORK SAYS, "WELL, WHAT'S WRONG WITH US?" WHEN IT FINALLY COMES DOWN TO IT, THEY FINALLY SAY, "WELL, ACTUALLY THE WAY WE HAVE IT IS PROBABLY PRETTY DARN GOOD." THE ONE THING ABOUT IOWA BEING A CAUCUS STATE AND THEN NEW HAMPSHIRE BEING A BALLOT STATE, A PRIMARY STATE, IT PROVIDES FOR A GOOD KIND OF A BALANCE IN THE BEGINNING, CAUCUS AND PRIMARY. ALSO, THESE ARE LOW-COST STATES. IT MEANS PEOPLE HAVE GOT TO GO OUT AND REALLY CAMPAIGN FACE TO FACE, AS YOU KNOW. I THINK IT'S A GOOD WAY TO START.

Glover: IN LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT ELECTION, THERE HAS BEEN SOME SUGGESTION THAT GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK MIGHT FIND HIMSELF A CANDIDATE IN THAT NEXT ELECTION. TWO QUESTIONS TO YOU: ONE, WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON WHAT THE GOVERNOR IS DOING; AND TWO, IN 1992 WHEN YOU RAN, EVERYBODY ELSE AVOIDED IOWA. WOULD THAT BE THE CASE AGAIN IF HE RUNS?

Harkin: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, AS YOU KNOW, I'M VERY HIGH ON TOM VILSACK. I THINK HE'S BEEN A GREAT GOVERNOR. HE'S JUST A GOOD PERSON. HE'S SMART. HE GETS IT. HE GETS IT. HE GETS WHAT GOVERNANCE IS ALL ABOUT, AND HE'S WILLING TO MAKE SOME TOUGH CHOICES. HE'S MADE SOME TOUGH CHOICES IN IOWA, AND I THINK PEOPLE RESPECT THAT. AND HE'S SHOWN THAT HE CAN WORK ACROSS PARTY LINES TO GET THINGS DONE. I THINK HIS RECORD SPEAKS VERY WELL FOR HIM. AND QUITE FRANKLY, GOVERNORS HAVE A BETTER TRACK RECORD OF WINNING THE PRESIDENCY THAN SENATORS, AS WE KNOW. SO I THINK -- I THINK IF HE DECIDES TO DO IT -- AND I DON'T KNOW. HE'S NOT CONFIDED IN ME ON THAT. BUT IF TOM VILSACK SEEKS THE PRESIDENCY, I THINK HE'LL BE IN THAT TOP TIER. HE'LL BE ONE OF THE LEADERS IN THAT.

Glover: DO YOU THINK A VILSACK CANDIDACY WOULD MAKE IOWA'S CAUCUSES IRRELEVANT?

Harkin: WELL, I DON'T KNOW. YOU KNOW, WHEN I RAN, THEY WERE. PEOPLE JUST AVOIDED IOWA AND THAT WAS THE END OF IT. I WOULD THINK THAT PEOPLE WOULD SAY, WELL, WHY GO THERE. I MEAN OBVIOUSLY HE'S THE FAVORITE SON AND WOULD WIN THE CAUCUSES. BUT YOU KNOW, KEEP IN MIND THERE'S ALWAYS COMING IN SECOND, YOU SEE. SO IF PEOPLE CAME, THEY'D SAY, OKAY, VILSACK, YOU CAN WIN IOWA, BUT I'M GOING TO COME IN SECOND AND I'M GOING TO SHOW THAT I HAVE STRENGTH IN IOWA.

Glover: THERE'S ALSO AN ARGUMENT OUT THERE THAT CAUCUS GOERS ARE VERY SOPHISTICATED VOTERS --

Harkin: THAT'S TRUE.

Glover: -- WHO VIEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES MUCH DIFFERENTLY THAN THEY VIEW CANDIDATES AT THE STATE LEVEL AND THAT VILSACK MIGHT RUN A BIG RISK IF SOMEBODY COMES IN TO RUN AGAINST HIM.

Harkin: WELL, I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK THAT TOM VILSACK WOULD CARRY IOWA VERY HANDILY. PEOPLE KNOW HIM. THEY KNOW HIS ABILITIES. THEY KNOW HIS STATURE AND I THINK THEY'D GIVE HIM A DARN GOOD SENDOFF FROM THE STATE OF IOWA.

Yepsen: WELL, BUT, SENATOR, THERE'S A COUPLE POLLS THAT SHOW AT LEAST A MAJORITY OF VOTERS IN IOWA DO NOT WANT HIM TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. AND SECONDLY, IN '92, WHILE YOU GOT A PASS IN THE IOWA CAUCUSES, BOTH BOB KERRY OF NEBRASKA AND PAUL TSONGAS OF MASSACHUSETTS SAID AFTERWARDS THAT THEY MAY HAVE MADE A MISTAKE IN NOT COMING IN HERE AND CHALLENGING YOU BECAUSE THEY COULD HAVE FINISHED SECOND. SO DOESN'T GOVERNOR VILSACK RUN A REAL RISK HERE, IF HE RUNS FOR PRESIDENT, OF BEING EMBARRASSED IN IOWA BY A JOHN EDWARDS OR A JOHN KERRY OR A HILLARY CLINTON WHO SAYS, "FINE, GOVERNOR, YOU CAN RUN FOR PRESIDENT BUT WE'RE COMING TO IOWA TOO"?

Harkin: DON'T MISUNDERSTAND ME. I'M NOT SAYING THAT IF TOM VILSACK RUNS FOR PRESIDENT THAT HE CAN JUST TAKE IOWA FOR GRANTED AND LEAVE THE STATE AND NEVER COME BACK. I'M NOT SAYING THAT. I WOULD TELL YOU -- YOU WILL REMEMBER WHEN I RAN IN '91, I WORKED HARD TO SEW UP IOWA TO TIE IT TO MAKE SURE THAT SOMEONE COULDN'T COME IN AND UNDERMINE ME. I WORKED HARD IN WESTERN IOWA BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE BOB KERRY WAS COMING AFTER ME, SO I DIDN'T LEAVE ANYTHING TO CHANCE. I MEAN I WORKED VERY HARD. I HAD A BIG ORGANIZATION IN THE STATE. I'M NOT SAYING THAT GOVERNOR VILSACK WON'T HAVE TO WORK AT IT. HE'LL HAVE TO WORK HARD HERE, BUT HE WILL. AND THAT'S WHY I THINK HE'LL HAVE NO PROBLEMS HERE.

Yepsen: TAKE A BROADER VIEW OF YOUR PARTY RIGHT NOW, SENATOR. WHAT -- DEMOCRATS LOST THE '04 ELECTION. THEY LOST NARROWLY. THE PARTY SEEMS TO BE IN KIND OF AN INTROSPECTIVE PERIOD NOW. WHAT SHOULD DEMOCRATS STAND FOR? WHERE DOES YOUR PARTY GO FROM HERE?

Harkin: WELL, I THINK OUR PARTY IS VERY SOUND. WE'VE SHOWN GREAT UNITY IN WASHINGTON IN THE SENATE AND IN THE HOUSE. LOOK, GEORGE BUSH NARROWLY WON -- WE KNOW THAT -- JUST VERY NARROWLY WON THIS ELECTION. THE COUNTRY IS SPLIT PRETTY EVENLY. LOOK AT OUR OWN IOWA LEGISLATURE, WHICH IS SPLIT PRETTY EVENLY IN THE STATE OF IOWA. I THINK WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE TALKING ABOUT IN TERMS OF SAVING SOCIAL SECURITY -- BY THE WAY, I MAKE A PREDICTION RIGHT HERE TONIGHT THAT NEXT YEAR SOCIAL SECURITY IS GOING TO BITE THE REPUBLICANS VERY HARD. PEOPLE GET IT. THEY DON'T WANT IT PRIVATIZED, AND BUSH IS PUSHING IT. AND I BELIEVE THEY'RE GOING TO PAY DEARLY FOR IT IN THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS NEXT TIME. SO THE ISSUE OF SOCIAL SECURITY, THE ISSUE OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY -- I MEAN WHEN PRESIDENT CLINTON LEFT OFFICE, WE LEFT THE BIGGEST SURPLUS IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY. WE WERE LOOKING AT SURPLUSES AS FAR AS THE EYE COULD SEE, AND LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO OUR FISCAL -- WE'RE IN A MESS IN THIS COUNTRY. WE'RE IN A MESS IN TERMS OF OUR RELATIONS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES. I JUST RETURNED -- I WAS JUST IN IRELAND LAST WEEK. IRISH LOVE AMERICANS AND THEY LOVE OUR AMERICAN PRESIDENTS. I WAS TOLD -- I WENT BY THIS CASTLE WHERE PRESIDENT BUSH HAD STAYED, AND THEY SAID, SAD TO SAY BUT HE WAS THE FIRST U.S. PRESIDENT EVER BOOED IN IRELAND. JUST THINK ABOUT THAT. OUR RELATIONS AROUND THE WORLD ARE IN A SHAMBLES. I JUST READ A REPORT OF PRESIDENT BUSH WHEN HE WAS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO AND THE PREMIER OF CHINA WAS THERE. ALL BUSH TALKED ABOUT WAS TERRORISM. THE PREMIER OF CHINA TALKED ABOUT HEALTH CARE, TALKED ABOUT BUILDING THE ECONOMIES. I'M TELLING YOU, THAT'S WHY I THINK THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS IN GOOD, SOUND POSITION.

Glover: AND WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON WHO IS RUNNING, AND SHOULD JOHN KERRY RUN AGAIN?

Harkin: WELL, I DON'T KNOW. I'M NOT -- I THINK -- I THINK THEY'LL HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE RUNNING. KEEP IN MIND THIS IS THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION -- I'LL BET YOU GUYS KNOW THIS -- THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SINCE 1952 IN WHICH THERE'S NOT BEEN EITHER AN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT OR VICE PRESIDENT ON EITHER TICKET, SO THIS IS WIDE OPEN. AND QUITE FRANKLY, I'M PREDICTING -- I'LL PREDICT TONIGHT YOU'LL SEE SOME PEOPLE YOU HAVEN'T THOUGHT OF.

Glover: SHOULD JOHN KERRY RUN AGAIN?

Harkin: LOOK, I DON'T KNOW. THAT'S UP TO JOHN KERRY. OBVIOUSLY, HE DID VERY WELL AND I THINK HE'S GOT EVERY RIGHT TO RUN AGAIN, OBVIOUSLY, IF HE WANTS TO. THAT'S A DECISION THAT HE'LL HAVE TO MAKE.

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT FIVE SECONDS LEFT. WHO ARE YOU GOING TO VOTE FOR IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR GOVERNOR?

Harkin: I BEG YOUR PARDON?

Yepsen: WHO ARE YOU GOING TO VOTE FOR IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR GOVERNOR?

Harkin: LOOK, I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE ANY STATEMENT. WE DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO'S GOING TO RUN YET.

Yepsen: YOU'VE BEEN SAVED BY THE BELL HERE.

Borg: WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANK YOU, SENATOR, FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE DISCUSS THE NATIONAL ISSUES FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. FORMER SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, NEWT GINGRICH, WILL PROVIDE HIS INSIGHTS. HE'S NOW AN AUTHOR AND LECTURER AND LOOKING SOMEWHAT LIKE A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. WE'LL QUESTION HIM ABOUT THAT AND OTHER ISSUES. THAT'S NEXT WEEKEND, REGULAR AIRTIMES: 7:30 FRIDAY, SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

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