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Inside Politics

Bradley Launches New Line of Attack on Gore; McCain Stays Zeroed in on Bush in New Hampshire

Aired January 13, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the middle of campaign, it is like throwing a piece of raw meat in a cage of wolves -- ya, ya, ya, ya...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Bradley complains anew about the Gore camp's tactics, even as he launches a stinging new line of attack against the vice president. We'll tell you how Willie Horton, a symbol of negative politics, has been injected into the 2000 Democratic race.

Plus:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars" headed out from the Death Star.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: John McCain stays zeroed in on George W. Bush in New Hampshire, mindful that the force still seems to be with Bush in New York.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SESNO: Thanks for joining us. I'm Frank Sesno, sitting in for Bernie and Judy today.

Just a day after we reported that Bill Bradley's plan to go after Al Gore more aggressively was taking shape, the former senator has followed through with an attack on the Gore campaign, the Gore is calling, "very sad."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Bill Bradley has raised an explosive new issue in the Democratic primary, suggesting in a newspaper interview that Al Gore was responsible for injecting race into the 1988 presidential campaign by introducing Willie Horton.

In response to a question from the Boston herald, Bradley said, quote: "Gore introduced him into the lexicon. It bothers me a great deal ... I wouldn't have used Willie Horton."

Willie Horton was a convicted murderer, released from a Massachusetts jail on a weekend pass during Governor Michael Dukakis' tenure. He was black. While on furlough, Horton fled, then raped a woman.

When Bradley says Gore "introduced him to the lexicon," he's referring to a 1988 Democratic primary debate where Gore criticized the furlough program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1988)

SEN. AL GORE (D), TENNESSEE: Eleven of them decided their two- week passes were not long enough and left. Two of them committed other murders, while they were on their passes.

If you were elected president, would you advocate a similar program for federal penitentiaries?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Bradley says Gore should not have chosen a case with racial overtones. "There were probably a lot of other people who fit that category," Bradley told the "Herald."

But the Gore campaign says that Gore never, as Bradley suggests, used Horton's name or race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He never even talked about race when he discussed Willie Horton, at one time during the debate. We raised the legitimate issue of the Massachusetts prison furloughs program.

SESNO: The issue never took off for Gore, but it did for George Bush. One of his campaign aides saw Gore's criticism, and later Vice President Bush used the Horton case to charge Dukakis with being "soft on crime."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 21, 1988)

GEORGE BUSH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What did the Democratic governor of Massachusetts think he was doing when he let convicted first-degree murderers out on weekend passes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: An independent group, not connected to the Bush campaign, then produced one of the most notorious attack ads ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NATIONAL SECURITY PAC AD)

COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: He allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. One was Willie Horton, who murdered a boy in a robbery stabbing him 19 times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: The Bush campaign produced its own controversial ads on the issue. Although Bush never used Horton's picture or name, he was accused of exploiting race for political gain.

So why is Bradley attempting to connect Gore to the Horton affair now? Well, Bradley has been getting tougher and more personal, as the first caucuses and primaries are just weeks away. The two Democrats are in a tough fight for the important African-American vote. Bradley has made racial harmony a central plank of his campaign, and yet polls continue to show blacks are among Al Gore's most loyal supporters.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: A surprising development indeed.

So let's talk more about Bradley's new line of attack against Gore.

CNN's Jonathan Karl, who has been covering Bradley on the trail. He joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire. Also with us, CNN White House correspondent Chris Black, who covered the 1988 presidential campaign and the Willie Horton controversy.

Jonathan Karl, first to you. What is the explanation from the Bradley camp as to all this?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Bradley's people are saying that he was answering a very specific question with an honest, candid response. They say this was not a plan to go out and bring up the Willie Horton issue or to go after Gore on the issue of race. But they are not backing away in any way. In fact, what the Bradley people are saying is that, although Gore never mentioned Willie Horton by name, the whole controversy about that furlough program was a controversy about Willie Horton. And they said that mentioning the furlough program was simply code for mentioning Horton.

SESNO: Jonathan, some observers saying this undermines Bradley's claim to the high road in this campaign.

KARL: Well, it is interesting, the Gore people are publicly coming out, acting very indignant about this, saying this was an unfair attack by Bill Bradley. But one senior Gore adviser told me, quote, "they are doing high-fives at Gore headquarters." They are ecstatic about this. Because what they say is that Bradley's number- one strength is that he is seen as above the fray, not a traditional politician. And every time he goes out and attacks, he is brought down, and looks like a traditional politician.

SESNO: Chris Black, you recall this event very well, this Willie Horton business. What could the motivations be behind this?

CHRIS BLACK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Whose motivation, Frank, Bradley's? SESNO: Yes.

BLACK: Well, it is hard to say. I think that there is no question at the time, in 1988, a lot of Democrats and the Dukakis people thought it was a really low blow for Gore to raise this issue. And while Gore, himself, certainly did not exploit the issue the way Vice President George Bush did, Bush's exploitation of this issue did a lot of damage to Dukakis, as the Democratic nominee that year.

SESNO: What exactly was on Gore's mind back in 1988 when he raised it, even generically?

BLACK: Well, it is important to remember that Al Gore had put all of his marbles in the New Hampshire basket. He bypassed the Iowa Caucuses, and he was hoping to sort of make inroads in New Hampshire. Never happened, Dukakis was the governor from the neighboring state at the height of his popularity. So the New York Primary, he raised this issue in a debate in New York State, was literally Al Gore's last stand. He was trying to get some traction.

SESNO: Jonathan, any sense that Bradley is going to get traction on this one now?

KARL: Well, Bradley's number-one strength is that he is seen as a candidate who is above the fray. Every time I go out and talk to people at his events, what they say is they like Bradley because they don't see him as a traditional politician, they see him as honest and sincere and not somebody that is going to go out and attack. And one of his biggest applause lines out on the stump is that he will not go negative, that he will not run those 30-second attack ads. He says they're not the wave of the future. So clearly, there is somewhat of a risk here, every time he attacks, he looks a little bit more like a traditional politician.

SESNO: Jonathan Karl, Chris Black, thanks to you both.

And let us turn our attention now back to the issues, farm issues in particular. They have been a bone of contention between Bradley and Gore as well, with each taking shots at the other's record. In Iowa today, Al Gore stepped up his bid to use agriculture and the family farm to his advantage.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is traveling with Gore.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are 95,000 farms in Iowa and Al Gore went to one of them to discuss the issue he believes scores with Iowa voters: agriculture. One farmer used a box of Wheaties to drive home the point that farmers are getting the short end of the stick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The retail price of this box of Wheaties is $4.38. We have talked to them, This is the amount wheat that is used to make this box. The farmer gets 3 1/2 cents of that. MESERVE: Although Al Gore grew up as a child of privilege in Washington, D.C., he mentioned the Gore farm in Tennessee, portraying himself as a champion of the suffering family farmer, ready to tame the powerful dragon of agribusiness. Even mentioning some of the big producers and packers by name.

GORE: Iowa B (ph) Processing is the best known of that group, and I guess I'm stepping on somebody's toes, but I really don't care.

MESERVE: Gore pointedly declined to say anything negative about his opponent, Bill Bradley. He left that to others. Iowa's Senator Tom Harkin laid out Bradley's voting record in the Senate against crop insurance, flood relief and ethanol, and Harkin took a jab at Bradley's brainy image.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: I want someone in the White House that knows us, that understands us, not just up here, but down here, where it really counts.

MESERVE: The Gore campaign also trotted out Roy Etsch, a corn and hay farmer from New Jersey. When Bradley was his senator, Etsch claimed, Bradley refused to meet with him.

ROY ETSCH, NEW JERSEY FARMER: And this is what Senator Bradley was more interested in than anything, the cities, the farmers he didn't even know existed. I doubt if today he knows the difference between corn and soybeans.

MESERVE: Bradley senior strategist Anita Dunn didn't dispute Etsch's story, but said it is an insult to the people of Iowa to use these gimmicks.

Gore will trial to keep Bradley off-balance on agriculture with new advertisements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GORE CAMPAIGN AD)

HARKIN: The floods devastated Iowa and Al Gore came through for us as he's done so many times when I have call on him to help Iowa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (on camera): Some of the farmers at Thursday's event liked what they heard from Al Gore, but are skeptical that any Washington politician will deliver what they need to stay where they are: on the family farm.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Logan, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO; And after spending the morning in Iowa, Gore flew to New Hampshire, where a new poll shows he has lost some ground to Bradley. The Quinnipiac College survey shows Bradley is 10 points ahead of Gore among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire. Bradley had a mere one-point lead in early December. In the Republican race, the Quinnipiac poll shows John McCain is nine points ahead of George W. Bush in that state. Last month, the same survey had Bush ahead by just one point among likely GOP primary voters.

And we'll have more from the Republican side after the break, and much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Seeking the conservative vote on the roads of Iowa. Also, Bill Bradley and John McCain, have they peaked? Our analysts, Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, join us for a discussion on that topic. And coming up later, the big-time ad- spenders among the presidential candidates, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, joins us with the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: John McCain suggests his fortunes have risen in New Hampshire because he's remained so focused on the state.

Though, as CNN's Candy Crowley explains, McCain did get a bit sidetracked today, by reporters and by his ballot fight with Bush in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Hampshire's first snow of the season is breathtaking, but he barely notices. Welcome to the world of John McCain, presidential candidate.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Outside of my prison experience, I've never been so tired, you know, as I have time to time during this campaign.

CROWLEY: Holding forth to reporters en route one event to the next, McCain careens from one subject to the next. He will talk about anything, but what's on his mind is his efforts to secure a place on New York's primary ballot.

MCCAIN: It's just not right to do that. Everybody knows that I'm a legitimate candidate, so therefore, I should be on the ballot.

CROWLEY: McCain supporters have gathered signatures to get him on the slate in New York, but he's been told state party leaders are challenging him.

MCCAIN: Governor Bush, since they're all supporting him, could weigh in and say, let him stay on the ballot, just out of fairness.

CROWLEY: The role of underdog suits McCain. He has thrived on it in New Hampshire. En route from Keene to Nashua, the Arizona senator is handed the latest news from the polling front.

MCCAIN: What are we handing out now?

QUESTION: This is a quiz that we're going to be giving you.

MCCAIN: I guess this is a good news/bad news poll. Bradley/McCain lead, but the voters expect Gore/Bush race. Why are we handing this out?

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Credit McCain's New Hampshire lead to shoe leather; he's been in the state more than any other candidate. His political fortunes have flourished through town hall meetings, word of mouth and abundant free press.

Though he talks easily on all subjects, campaign finance reform is his centerpiece. He relishes nothing so much as the title "reformer."

MCCAIN: I will appoint a cabinet level official in my administration to serve as a reform czar, who will help me implement the changes in the institution of government we must make if we are to restore a government of, by and for the American people, as intended by our founding fathers, whose vision was guided by hope, not tainted by cynicism.

CROWLEY: So far, McCain has weathered the rough road. Questions about letters he wrote to federal agencies on behalf of campaign donors have given way to a battle over the appropriate use of the Confederate flag; it's a question that has convulsed the early primary state of South Carolina. The topic even crops up during a radio call in show in New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You personally do not see it in any way as a symbol of movement that was in some -- to some degree based on the enslavement of human beings?

MCCAIN: I think clearly that the Civil War had a number of factors that started or were -- causes of the Civil War. Historians differ on that, the original reasons though. For years, it was viewed strictly as a states' rights issue; historians have viewed it as an -- also an issue of slavery as well, and I think there is still divided opinion, but I don't think there is any doubt that the issue of slavery played a major role.

CROWLEY: Though he later feels the need to re-explain the causes of the Civil War, McCain relishes the fray. He is, at the heart of it, a warrior.

MCCAIN: I really feel like I'm Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars," headed out for the Death Star -- you know, I see the goal, and I see the opening, and I see that, you know, all the things that are being fired at us, and all the explosions that are going off and everything like that, and you've just got to keep going.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: In New Hampshire in January, during the primary season, there is no rest for either the warrior or the weary. For John McCain, there is always one more town hall meeting to go before he sleeps -- Frank.

SESNO: All right, Candy, I will ask about the snow and the weather and whether that's getting anybody down or has any impact on the campaign trail?

CROWLEY: No, they keep going this is -- I mean, you know, this is snow Washington standards, but this isn't snow New Hampshire standards. You know, it looks great to us and in fact it looks great to them, because they haven't had any and it's hurt the skiing season, but as far as New Hampshire goes, this isn't that much of a snow, and it hasn't stopped any of the candidates that I know of.

SESNO: All right, thus reassured then, Candy, let me ask you the question about that poll that McCain was talking about on the bus, where he said you know, his numbers were pretty good, but people expect that it's going to be George W. Bush. For poll watchers, people who pull that sort of thing apart, that's very significant, what people expect. McCain have anything more to say about that?

CROWLEY: Well, yes, I mean, and absolutely, because he knows, first of all, that outside New Hampshire, he remains the underdog. I mean, he looks great here, he's leading in some of the polls, sort of dead even in other polls, but McCain knows full well, and that's why he keeps calling himself the underdog, that outside of New Hampshire, he is facing a huge Bush machine that has a lot more money, a lot more personnel than he does, and where the polls show that he is still way behind the front-runner. So obviously, he knows that that poll is so. And part of the reason people expect that Gore and Bush will be the people that we see in November, is that they are watching the polls as well.

So McCain still believes here's the underdog, and that certainly is bolstered in the polls.

SESNO: Candy, thanks. Stay warm.

And speaking of the machine, George W. Bush also is in New Hampshire today as well, his sights still firmly set on McCain and his tax plan.

CNN's John King is on the trail with Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the first snow came something else long associated with the New Hampshire presidential primary: an escalating debate over who can be trusted to cut taxes.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I laid out my plan, there were two voices that argued for keeping money in Washington: Al Gore and John McCain.

KING: Governor Bush talked tax cuts in his speech to Rotarians in Portsmouth and earlier after touring a high-tech plant in Laconia.

Arizona Senator John McCain may be the darling of many independent voters here, but Governor Bush is betting that conservatives will dominate the Republican primary and embrace his five-year plan for $483 billion in tax cuts. BUSH: It is fair. It is realistic. It achieves economic prosperity. And most of all, it trusts the people of New Hampshire to make the right decisions with the surplus, and not the federal government.

KING: It is a point Bush makes again and again, taking issue with McCain's claim to be the only candidate with the courage to stand up to special interests and wasteful spending.

BUSH: The best budgetary reform is not to leave surpluses lying around in Washington, but to pass it back to the taxpayers.

KING: Some polls here show McCain leading Bush, others a neck- and-neck race.

BUSH: I want the people of New Hampshire to understand that I am in a fight -- with a friend, but I am in a battle.

KING: The day in New Hampshire did not leave Bush unrepresented in Iowa. The governor said he was grateful for the high-profile help.

BUSH: I am proud of him, and I am glad he is out on my behalf.

KING: But Bush aides say they don't expect the former president to campaign here in New Hampshire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: That is because many in this state never forgave President Bush for breaking his 1988 "no new taxes" pledge, and it's a comparison Governor Bush doesn't want to encourage now as he makes cutting taxes the centerpiece of his own White House bid -- Frank.

SESNO: John, if there is any place that taxes are going to have traction, it has to be New Hampshire, tax-averse New Hampshire where there is no broad-based tax.

Is it connecting? Do you see an indication from the crowds, the people you talk, to the editorials, that this is really becoming the defining issue there?

KING: Governor Bush has one problem on the tax issue here. That is that the "Manchester Union Leader," generally the conservative newspaper that pushes tax cutting, has endorsed his rival Steve Forbes.

But the Bush campaign believes, for all this talk of the independents supporting John McCain here, in the last primary, 1996, 35 percent of those who voted in the Republican primary identified themselves as independents, the rest were Republicans. Lamar Alexander tried to get the independent vote -- he finished third. The Bush camp hoping that Republicans will rally to his plan, and Governor Bush believes that if he can beat John McCain here, John McCain is out of the race -- Frank.

SESNO: All right, John King, thanks so much. Forbes himself, meanwhile, kicked off another bus tour of Iowa today in a drive to attract conservative voters. He, of course, laying claim to the tax issue as well, with his flat tax on the table. He is also using the journey to attack George W. Bush.

CNN's Patty Davis reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): On the road again -- just can't wait to get on the road again

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With his campaign bus blaring out one of his favorite theme songs, billionaire publisher and Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes launched his final bus tour before the nation's first presidential contest.

Forbes, who has spent 52 days in Iowa, more than any of the other presidential candidates, is trying to drive his message home.

On abortion...

STEVE FORBES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am pro-life, and I believe in the life amendment.

DAVIS: On allowing taxpayers to invest their own Social Security money -- it is on his 17 percent flat tax that Forbes gets his biggest response.

FORBES: You should be free from fear of the infernal -- I mean the Internal -- Revenue Service.

DAVIS: Despite strong support for Forbes' signature issue, the flat tax, among Iowa Republican, and a strong second-place showing in last summer's straw poll, a "Des Moines Register" poll shows Forbes is lagging 27 points behind Texas Governor George W. Bush among likely Republican caucus-goers.

Forbes makes no apologies for what some consider going negative against Bush, charging the governor broke his no-tax pledge in Texas.

FORBES: If being negative means telling the truth, I will tell the truth. George Bush made a pledge, he broke the pledge, and people are tired of that.

DAVIS: And he rejects the notion that his negative ads crippled Republican nominee Bob Dole in 1996.

FORBES: In the '96 campaign, I left that campaign in March. The election was in November. That's eight months for a candidate to get their message out there. He didn't do it, though.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAVIS: With Arizona Senator John McCain not actively campaigning here in Iowa, Forbes chances of a strong showing here are increased. Now, Forbes believes some good results could give him some major momentum going into New Hampshire, where he is far behind both McCain and Bush -- Frank.

SESNO: No snow in Iowa. Patty Davis, thanks very much.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back, and when we return, Charlie Cook, Stu Rothenberg join us with their analysis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: In the kickoff caucus-state of Iowa, two new polls show George W. Bush holding a better-than two-to-one lead over Steve Forbes in the Republican presidential race. Senator John McCain, who has not campaigned in Iowa, is third in both polls.

Joining us now to talk more about the presidential race is Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report," and Charlie Cook of "The National Journal" and "The Cook Political Report."

Gentleman, welcome to you both.

Let's start with this rather peculiar development today of Willie Horton coming back. I pretty well thought we were done with Willie Horton, but apparently not quite yet.

Go ahead, Charlie.

CHARLES COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": I think it's pretty clear the Bradley campaign is not looking at 9-point spreads like the Quinnipiac poll. I mean, that is not a poll, that is not -- that's something you do when you are sliding, when you are slipping, when things aren't going so good -- you lash out like that.

But the thing is, what are primary opponents supposed to do, not use -- you know, they find some -- not use an attack, and let you get all the way to the general election before people find out your vulnerability? You know, I don't think this -- I think it is a pretty desperate move.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Two things, Frank. If he's down to issues that are 11-years-old to attack Al Gore, he has got some problems. And second of all, as Jonathan Karl pointed out, this is a guy who is campaigning as being above negative advertising. I think the voters are going to see this as traditional politics. Traditional politics isn't always bad, but for -- I think for Bill Bradley it is.

SESNO: And meanwhile, we saw John McCain talk to Candy Crowley about this, the whole expectations issue in the polls that he's watching. Yet the Quinnipiac poll shows some more distance for him -- what do you make there?

COOK: I sense that both of those races are tightening up, that Bush and Gore are both picking up. And, you know, if they haven't overtaken Bradley and McCain yet, they are getting pretty close to doing that. That's -- and that's the way the race feels up there. ROTHENBERG: Yes, I think the outsider momentum has stalled. They are on the message.

SESNO: Why?

ROTHENBERG: Well, they are on the defensive. McCain, for example -- for example, after months of being able to talk just about reform, his message is suddenly having to defend himself. And Bradley the same way, there is more scrutiny of him, and of his campaign strategy, and tactics and message. So he's not on the attack, he's not setting the agenda, he's responding.

COOK: It's like a runner getting thrown off your stride, and that's the way both McCain and Bradley look -- like they are off their stride, they are off their message, they are sort of flailing around. You can just tell things aren't going well.

ROTHENBERG: I think they are both looking more like traditional politicians than they did months ago.

SESNO: And also there is some, some sense in the early days before people look very closely, of the weaknesses of the front- runners, or the presumptive front-runners. And yet, when they actually engage and compete, they are not there for no reason.

ROTHENBERG: Bush has done much better in recent debates, I think. he seems more comfortable, and I think Republicans watching the debates are more confidant about him.

And at the same time, I think all that early reorganizing of the Gore campaign has ultimately helped Al Gore.

SESNO: Question: Taxes -- McCain has got his tax plan, certainly Bush has his, and yet Steve Forbes is the father of the tax proposal from four years ago, now with the flat tax. Why is he getting no traction out of this?

COOK: You know...

SESNO: Or apparently -- let me be -- let me rephrase that. Apparently so little traction?

COOK: I think Forbes' candidate skills, his speaking skills, the way he comes across, far superior to four years ago. His campaign operation is much better than four years ago. He has got a four-year head start. And yet, it is just not clicking, and sooner or later you have to come to the conclusion that people aren't buying him, even people who are predisposed to agree with his message.

But I think the flap between McCain and Bush over the size of the tax cut -- or McCain, yes McCain and Bush over the size of their tax cut -- comes down to this: What percentage of the Republican primary vote do you think is going to be made up of independents? If it is a small percentage, say 15 percent, like -- then you go with a heavy tax message, like Bush has. If you think that percentage is going to be a good bit higher, with independents not really keen on cutting taxes, then you might take the more McCain approach.

SESNO: Stu, if the tax debate is being framed in the Republican Party, you got both George W. Bush and McCain doing fundamentally the same thing, which is tinkering with the rates, lowering them in some cases, marriage penalty.

Steve Forbes wants this fundamental change, to a flat tax. Shouldn't that be what the debate is being and seeing?

ROTHENBERG: I think part of the problem is that Steve Forbes, as Charlie suggested, has not connected personally.

Now, it is true that in the early part of the campaign, during the straw poll, for example, where Forbes was out there going from small town to small town, he was doing better with small groups. He seemed to be connecting a little better. When we see him on these debates, Frank, you see, he has limits to his candidate skills.

SESNO: Down in Texas the other day, hearing from some conservative Texas Democratic congressional members, they claim anyway they're quite distressed what is happening with Al Gore, going father to the left, being pushed farther to the left on certain issue. Real concerns?

COOK: I think they are, but Gore is doing, to a certain extent, what he has to do. He's getting pulled left by Bradley, but he thinks he can sew up this nomination before it ever goes south. But you know, clearly, the joint chiefs of staff, the policy on don't ask, don't tell, clearly that was a mistake and you saw Gore backing off. But I think they're trying a knockout punch in New Hampshire, and that way, the primaries never go south.

ROTHENBERG: Frank, I think those Democrats to whom you refer were hoping that Al Gore was not going to have a serious primary, and that now anytime he's pulled to the left, that makes them uncomfortable. They have some reason to be uncomfortable, because the presidential race can define what the parties are all about, and that can affect congressional candidates.

SESNO: Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, great to see you both.

ROTHENBERG: Thanks.

SESNO: There is much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Up next, George W. Bush opening up that big war chest of his and ratcheting up the ad wars. Plus, which candidates are seen as green? We'll tell you how a leading environmental group ranks the presidential hopefuls. And later:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: He's done a lot of stuff as mayor, but I think being senator is a different kind of job. You know, as senator, you can't go arrest a homeless person, for example.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: She may have jabbed at Giuliani, but with "Letterman," Hillary Clinton mostly played for laughs. We'll look at her performance and flash back to candidate talk show chats of the past.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories making news this day.

Thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Abraham will not spend the rest of his life in adult prison. Instead, he'll pay for his crime in juvenile detention. Rehabilitated or not, he'll be released at age 21. Abraham was 11 years old when he shot a man outside a Pontiac, Michigan convenience store. He's the first youth charged with first- degree murder to be prosecuted under a Michigan law that allows some juveniles to be tried as adults.

Attorney General Janet Reno says people need to think about little Elian Gonzalez and do what's best for the Cuban boy. At a briefing today, Reno said politics should be kept out of the case. And the 6-year-old boy should be returned to his father in Cuba as soon as possible.

After 25 years as CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates is stepping down. Steve Ballmer, who has worked with Gates for almost 20 years, will take his place. Gates says he's stepping down to develop new software technologies for Microsoft.

Scientists have cloned a monkey. Her name is Tetra. She's the first monkey to be cloned using a process that splits embryos, a process much different from the one that was used to clone Dolly the sheep in 1997.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has more on this breakthrough and its implications.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Tetra, the cloned monkey. She may become as famous as Dolly, the cloned sheep. Tetra, who's four months old, is the first monkey cloned using a process called "embryo splitting." It potentially creates unlimited numbers of identical offspring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very excited about this. This is another step in the progress that has been made.

COHEN: Excited because genetically-identical monkeys are invaluable in research, and monkeys rarely have twins on their own.

GERALD SCHATTEN, OREGON REGIONAL PRIMATE RESEARCH CENTER: What we would say we are on the road towards is making identical twins, identical triplets and the identical quadruplets which could serve as the models for curing the life-threatening diseases that still plague us today. (on camera): Tetra was conceived here at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center. Now, there's a big difference between Tetra the monkey and Dolly the sheep. Dolly had only one parent and was a genetic clone of that parent. Tetra, on the other hand, was a clone of her sisters. Researchers took one embryo and split it into four clones.

(voice-over): Here's how scientists created Tetra: They obtained an egg from a female monkey and sperm from a male monkey, put them together and created an embryo. That embryo then divided into eight cells. Researchers split that embryo into four two-celled embryos. Those four embryos were then implanted into surrogate mothers. Only one embryo survived, and Tetra was born. Researchers say they're not sure why Tetra's sisters died in the womb, but Tetra, who's name means "one of four," is indistinguishable from her playmates.

SCHATTEN: Tetra is a frisky, energetic, healthy little girl, and she's growing up with a number of her buddies as a normal monkey.

COHEN: Theoretically, the technology that created Tetra could be applied to humans, but right now there's a ban on using federal funds to research human cloning. Scientists here say they have no interest in cloning people, just animals, who can help find cures for human diseases.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Beaverton, Oregon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, some interest groups that seem more interested than ever in weighing in on the presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: With campaign 2000 now at full speed, the Republicans are stepping up efforts to court Hispanics. The Republican National Committee is expected to begin this week a multimillion-dollar television and print ad campaign in that effort. Here is an excerpt of the TV ad, which is to run in several states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RNC AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, even my 95-year-old father is today a Republican. He passed these values along to me, and I've passed them along them to my children and my grandchildren. When people ask me why I am a Republican, I tell them it is because my family's values are the values of the Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: RNC Chief of Staff Tom Cole says the party needs to get 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to capture the White House.

But right now, the emphasis for both parties is in New Hampshire and Iowa. The leading candidates are spending a huge amount of money in those states, so let's look a little deeper. Joining us now from New York to talk about this, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, let's start by looking at Republican front-runner George W. Bush and what he is spending in the Granite State.

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, George W. Bush since as of Tuesday has spent $650,000 in order to win the primary in New Hampshire. He's being matched pretty closely by John McCain, who has spent $495,000, almost $500,000 in that state. It's a very expensive state from a media standpoint to watch for between now and the primaries. That inventory is tight and all the candidates are going to have to spend more to get on air.

SESNO: David...

PEELER: If you take a look at -- I'm sorry.

SESNO: Sorry, go ahead.

PEELER: I was going to move on to Iowa, which is the other state that's interesting. You know, here George Bush can employ a different tactic, he's spending $85,000, let's call it enough to get to the goal line. He's able to do this because John McCain continues to skip Iowa in terms of media spending.

SESNO: All right. So let's look beyond New Hampshire and Iowa. Sorry for that interruption. Where else are Bush and McCain spending their money right now?

PEELER: Let's take a look at Michigan. That is kind of interesting. Michigan falls on the heels of the primary in New Hampshire, so George Bush got out first and has spent half a million dollars in that state. John McCain surprisingly enough has started to counter him and has recently spent as much as $100,000 plus in the state, so that is kind of unique.

As you move on to the primary agenda, look at South Carolina. Both candidates are spending or trying to match their rate. Little interesting thing about South Carolina is that John McCain is focusing his efforts in the upper part of the state; George W. Bush on the lower part of the state. So there is a difference in media rates and that's why they are able to compete effectively in that primary.

SESNO: David, McCain's camp says the Arizona primary is one they have to win, for obvious reasons. But is McCain doing any advertising in his home state?

PEELER: Well, they may have to win that primary, and I think that makes sense, but if we look at the media spending so far, George W. Bush is the only one spending in Arizona, $250,000. John McCain has spent zero so far. I think what this indicates is that George W. Bush, because of his fund-raising prowess can run what we call a media marathon. He can really start spending in a lot of states. John McCain, however, has to run a media sprint. I think the sprint for John McCain at least so far ends at South Carolina. I want to...

SESNO: Other states?

PEELER: Interesting, you know, to bring home the point of the marathon. Washington, the state of Washington, George W. Bush has spent $39,000 on his first day of advertising, just kicked off. That's a tremendous amount of spending in that state. If you move on to Virginia, George W. Bush again $25,000 in his first day of spending. You know, this, from a traditional primary standpoint, this is unheard of. We've never seen spending at this rate, this early in the primary process in these states, it's pretty unique.

SESNO: Let's go from the Republicans we were just talking about to the Democratic candidates and how they are spending, first in Iowa and New Hampshire, David.

PEELER: Well, this is a little more conventional. You see Al Gore spending $90,000 in Iowa versus Bill Bradley's $85,000. It's a very competitive race between the two and they're both spending equal amounts of money. You look at New Hampshire, again, New Hampshire is a more expensive ad spending market, $650,000, Bill Bradley spending a little more, $860,000, that's principally because he has a few more ads on in the market of Boston. That's the conventional spending as opposed to what you would see as we see in the Republican race, so it's different tactics, different media tactics for different situations.

SESNO: Indeed. David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, thanks very much, good to see you.

PEELER: Thank you, Frank.

SESNO: And for the first time in any political campaign, the American Cancer Society is airing ads urging the presidential candidates to help draw focus to the disease. The society began airing two ads today, one each in Iowa and New Hampshire. The one being seen in Iowa asks what the presidential candidates are doing in the fight against the disease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY RADIO AD)

COMMERCIAL NARRATOR: Each year, cancer touches millions of people. That's why the Iowa caucuses are so important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know the presidential candidates care about cancer, but what are they going to do about it?

COMMERCIAL NARRATOR: This year, a half a million people will die of cancer. It's time the candidates tell us what they're going to do to win this battle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Officials of the American Cancer Society say it is important for all of the candidates to address cancer and efforts to find a cure. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SEFFRIN, CEO, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Its purpose is to ensure that the presidential candidates each and all not only understand the issues surrounding cancer, but also understand what American voters, especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire, think about these critical life and death issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: And the American Cancer Society says cancer is a national policy issue, candidates should address it by fighting the disease with a broad-based approach.

Still to come on INSIDE POLITICS, we've heard a lot about the presidential candidates going after the conservative vote, but what about the conservation vote. We'll hear what one green group is saying about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SESNO: Yet another interest group tried today to shape the presidential race. The National Abortion Rights Action League blasted Texas Governor George W. Bush for his state's record on abortion rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE MICHELMAN, NARAL PRESIDENT: Bush uses often the slogan of compassionate conservative to describe himself, but it hardly describes the record he has compiled as governor when it comes to insuring women's reproductive health and rights. Last year alone, Governor Bush signed seven measures restricting rights, adding to the 11 provisions enacted in previous years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Michelman says that makes Texas along with Michigan the worst offenders of all 50 states. Her view when it comes to undermining abortion rights.

Of all the presidential candidates, the one whose stand on the environment may be the most conspicuous is Vice President Al Gore. After all, he wrote a book on the subject. But a new report by the League of Conservation Voters says Gore is not a shoe-in for winning the green vote, at least not yet.

CNN's Natalie Pawelski reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATALIE PAWELSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore, Bill Bradley, maybe even John McCain. The League of Conservation Voters says environmentalists can find reasons to vote for all of these candidates, especially the Democrats, Gore and Bradley. DEB CALLAHAN, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: Both of them we believe would be strong advocates for the environment were they to be elected as president.

PAWELSKI: Bradley gets high marks for his Senate voting record. The vice president gets praise for some of his pet issues, including curbing global warming and controlling sprawl. But those same stands make him a target of other groups -- from businesses worried about tougher air-pollution limits, to property rights advocates.

MIKE HARDIMAN, AMERICAN LAND RIGHTS ASSN.: It seems that whatever the question, or whatever the issue on the environment and on preservationist issues, Al Gore's solution has been more central control, more federal government power taken away from individuals and taken away from states and localities as well.

PAWELSKI: Among Republicans, the League of Conservation Voters says John McCain has the most Earth-friendly record. It also likes his push for campaign reform. Texas Governor George W. Bush's history of pushing for voluntary pollution controls instead of mandatory environmental regulations plays well with many industry groups, but not with the LCV.

CALLAHAN: Governor Bush in Texas really has been very, very weak on environmental issues.

PAWELSKI (on camera): So far, the environment does not seem to be playing a major role in the run for the White House, despite the best efforts of several green groups. For example, the League of Conservation Voters scheduled a couple of debates in Iowa, one for Democrats, and one for Republicans. The debates had to be canceled when only one candidate from each party would commit to showing up.

(voice-over): Over the past several years, specific environmental issues that hit close to home, like air pollution and sprawl, have mobilized voters in local elections across the country, but it's unclear whether broader, national environmental issues will resonate with voters when it comes to choosing a president.

Natalie Pawelski, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: And up next on INSIDE POLITICS: Hillary Rodham Clinton follows in the footsteps of her husband and other politicians who tried to polish their image on late-night TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY: And number 3: I have not been in the Ed Sullivan Theater since I was dating Ringo.

DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE SHOW": Wow.

CLINTON: Now, number 2: To tell you the truth, Dave, I thought Johnny hosted this show.

LETTERMAN: I wish he did. That's not a bad idea -- Johnny in here.

CLINTON: And number 1: If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.

LETTERMAN: There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Well, call it a hazing ritual or a rite of political passage these days, but Hillary Clinton's visit last night to "The Late Show with David Letterman" was hardly the first time a candidate has been put through the TV paces.

Our Beth Fouhy revisits some other memorable moments now in our political "Flashback."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since Richard Nixon showed off his lighter side on "Laugh In," the nighttime talk show pilgrimage has become a campaign staple, like the proverbial rubber chicken dinner.

Bill Clinton's jazzy turn on "The Arsenio Hall Show" was one part reaching out to young voters and one part personal rehabilitation, after a bruising primary battle in 1992.

Some candidates use the shows to prove they really do have a sense of humor, like Steve Forbes during his 1996 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Is that odd, though, when you go home and you turn on, well, any of the late night shows and you see us and "Saturday Night Live" and everybody, I mean, is it strange to see people make jokes about you? Does is it make you feel odd or what?

STEVE FORBES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: Only when they do it better than I can do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: Then there's New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who proves that even tough guys can have a softer side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm here for my apology!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: Some politicians win points by just being good sports, like Dan Quayle, himself the subject of much late-night lampooning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

LETTERMAN: Would you run, would you join him on the ticket as vice president or those days are over, you can't go back to that?

QUAYLE: I've been there, done that. I don't want to get back on your show as often as I was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

LENO: Are you ready?

ELIZABETH DOLE, WIFE OF BOB DOLE: Yes, rev this baby, and let's get out of here!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: Elizabeth Dole tried to help out her husband's failing presidential campaign in 1996, with this unconventional swing through "The Tonight Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

E. DOLE: I have got to get back on the campaign trail!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: And when that didn't work, it was Bob Dole's turn to kid around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Don't worry about me. I've got something lined up.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh?

B. DOLE: I got a job answering phones down at the Red Cross. My wife pulled some strings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOUHY: Beth Fouhy, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: They make it look fun.

That is it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again tomorrow, when our Jeanne Meserve will be on the road in New Hampshire with Al Gore. And you can go on- line all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com. This programming note: CNN will have live coverage Saturday of the 90-minute Iowa Republican presidential debate. That starts at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time.

CNN Interactive will also video stream the debate live at CNN.com/election 2000.

I'm Frank Sesno. "WORLDVIEW" is next.

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