Bradley and Gore Campaign in New Hampshire, Focus on Health Care; Scrutiny of Hillary Clinton IntensifiesAired January 19, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Kids and health care dominate the Democrats day in New Hampshire and make Bill Bradley misty-eyed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I certainly intend to spend the rest of my life with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: That hasn't stopped New York reporters from grilling Hillary Clinton about her marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iowa, a farm state, right? Well, not exactly, not anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Bruce Morton on the changing economic scene in the leadoff caucus state.
ANNOUNCER: From Des Moines, capital of the state where the first presidential votes of the year will be cast, this is IOWA CAUCUS 2000. a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Now to CNN caucus headquarters and anchors Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: Thanks for joining us.
Even though the caucuses here in Iowa are only five days away, the presidential candidates in both parties are all too aware that the real horse races right now are in New Hampshire.
WOODRUFF: That is why Al Gore and Bill Bradley are there instead of here today. That is also why the Democratic contest featured tit- for-tat testimonials on the matter of health care, an issue that left Bradley a bit choked up.
We get the latest on the race from CNN's Jonathan Karl in Lebanon, New Hampshire -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Judy. Less than a week to those Iowa caucuses, both Democrats here in New Hampshire talking about health care. Speaking to group of citizens here in the town of Salem, Senator Bill Bradley became emotional, his eyes tearing up, after hearing the story of a woman who has four children without health insurance.
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BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes important when reality kind of enters a political campaign, and I think we've heard that reality here today.
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KARL: Bradley went on to say that his health care plan is the best way to help those without any health insurance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADLEY: It is because of you that I have laid out the health care plan that I have in this campaign, because I believe that every child in America should be guaranteed health insurance.
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KARL: In another part of the state, in the tiny town of Wapole, Vice President Gore did some retail campaigning with famed documentary maker and New Hampshire resident Ken Burns on a day devoted to the health care issue. Although later that day, later today, Gore also received the endorsement of neighboring governor, Vermont governor, Howard Dean, himself a medical doctor. Now although both dean and Gore criticized Bradley's health care plan, Gore also had some nice words to say about Bradley, saying at least he's put health care on the agenda for presidential politics.
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ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He and I stand together in sharp contrast to all of the Republican candidates, who have been ducking this issue, who have not addressed this issue, none of whom have put out a plan in the face of 44 million Americans who have no health insurance at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: But the entire day was not devoted to such weighty matters. There in that tiny town of Walpole, Vice President Gore also took some time out to help make chocolate at a renowned chocolate shop that claims to have the best chocolate in the country -- Bernie, Judy.
WOODRUFF: Jonathan, I won't ask you if you tried any. But I do want to know, we understand that Bill Bradley also had an endorsement today, is that right? KARL: Well, that's right. This was in many ways a day of dueling endorsements, Gore of course bringing out Howard Dean, a governor and a medical doctor, while Bradley picked up the endorsement of Oregon Governor John Kitsober (ph), himself also a doctor, and at that endorsement, Kitsober also made the point that Bradley is the one that's talked about universal health care and doing it all at once -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl, New Hampshire, thank you -- Bernie.
SHAW: On the health care front, Governor Dean wasn't the only politician rallying behind the vice president this day.
As CNN's Chris Black reports, President Clinton got into the act, with a little help from a Kennedy.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president is embracing his vice president's plan on health coverage for the working poor.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know parents who have access to health care themselves are more likely to get care for their children.
BLACK: To make it crystal can clear, Mr. Clinton is giving Al Gore the credit.
W. CLINTON: I thank the vice president for this proposal. I believe it can make a difference to millions of families.
BLACK: And the president's spokesman was happy to identify the author.
JOE LOCKHART, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was the vice president who first raised the idea of expanding CHIPS to family members.
BLACK: CHIPS is the children's health insurance program, and the president's $110 billion dollar initiative makes parents eligible for the same plan as their children. The president is also calling for tax credits to make health insurance more affordable for older workers and for those who lose their jobs. It was no surprise the original author of the CHIPS program likes the proposal.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I commend President Clinton for his announcement this morning that he will fund this proposal in his new budget. This step alone will give seven million more Americans the coverage they need and deserve.
BLACK: A bigger surprise, the positive reaction of the Health Insurance Association of America, sponsors of the "Harry and Louise" TV commercials credited with sinking the Clinton's national health care program in 1995. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMERCIAL)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't leave working families and kids without insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHIP KAHN, HEALTH INSURANCE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA: The industry doesn't necessarily agree with every detail of his plan, but he is clearly moving in the right direction, and major portions of his plan are similar to those that the industry has offered.
BLACK: The president, only half joking, invited Harry and Louise to the Oval Office.
W. CLINTON: I'd love it if Harry and Louise would just sidle right on in here and say that they think this is the greatest idea since sliced bread, and we could go forward together.
BLACK: Despite the unexpected supporters and high public concern about health care, congressional Republicans have still not weighed in on this costly proposal. But White House officials say they hope the conventional wisdom that nothing ever gets done in an election year will be wrong in this election year -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Chris Black, at the White House.
Well, as one watches the president act as cheerleader for this is number two, one might wonder, whatever happened to concerns about Clinton fatigue?
Our CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us from Washington.
Bill, is Gore's connection to the president a plus or minus for his campaign?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Both. Remember the voters are firmly of two minds about President Clinton. They think he's doing a good job, but they have an unfavorable opinion of him as a person. Among Democrats, however, it's a different story. Clinton is still quite popular with Democrats. Look at New Hampshire. Among all New Hampshire voters, according to the latest CBS News poll, Clinton gets a 54 percent job-approval rating. But among those likely to vote in the Democratic primary, Clinton's job approval surges to nearly 80 percent. You know, among voters who give Clinton an 80 percent job-approval rating, you don't talk about Clinton fatigue; you talk about Clinton fervor.
SHAW: Well, is it paying off for Gore?
BLACK: Oh, you bet it is. Among Democrats nationally, the more you like Clinton, the more you support Gore over Bradley. Now look at Democrats in New Hampshire. Democrats who approve of the job Bill Clinton is doing are voting for Gore over Bradley by a huge 22-point margin. Bradley is way ahead of Gore among those Democrats who don't approve of Clinton, but there really aren't very many of them, which is why Bradley, like Gore, doesn't say very much about Clinton. Anti- Clinton sentiment will not get him very far in a Democratic primary.
SHAW: So what can President Clinton do to help Gore, say in New Hampshire?
BLACK: Well, Bernie, exactly what he's doing. He doesn't have to talk much about Gore. He just has to show Democrats that this administration still has a big Democratic agenda: poverty. Last week, Clinton proposed a $2 billion expansion of the earned-income tax credit for the working poor. Environment -- he went to the Grand Canyon and declared the north rim a national monument. Health care? Today, we just heard he proposed spending over a hundred billion dollars to provide health insurance for five million Americans without coverage. That kind of stuff rallies Democrats to Clinton, and he hopes to Gore.
And don't forget something, just five days before the New Hampshire primary, President Clinton will deliver his seventh and final State of the Union Address, with Gore sitting right behind him. The idea is to convey a subliminal message to New Hampshire Democrats who are still wavering between Gore and Bradley: five more years -- Bernie.
SHAW: Bill Schneider, in Washington, thank you -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, of course the president also is a factor in Hillary Clinton's Senate bid, and that can be a mixed blessing for the first lady, as she faces reporters in New York state and renewed questions about her personal life.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): It is a subject Hillary Clinton said she would not discuss anymore, her marriage to the president, but a campaign trip to Buffalo has forced her to break her silence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, WGR NEWS RADIO 55, BUFFALO)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to hate me. You were on television last night talking about your relationship with the president, Bill Clinton. Have you ever been sexually unfaithful to him, and specifically the stories about you and Vince Foster, any truth in those?
HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY: Well, you know, Tom, I do hate you for that, because, you know, those questions I think are really out of bounds, and everybody who, you know, knows me, knows the answers to those questions. You know, I just...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the answer no?
H. CLINTON: Well, yes, of course it's no. I think at some point we all have to say, you know, these questions, these speculations, all of that diverts attention from really talking about and working on...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: During the telephone interview, the host also asked Mrs. Clinton if she'd ever tried marijuana or cocaine. She said no. After the show, Mrs. Clinton said the personal questions were inappropriate.
H. CLINTON: It is on some people's minds, but most of what people talk to me about is the state of their families, and their jobs, and their schools and their health care, and that's what I am going to be talking about throughout the campaign.
WOODRUFF: Yesterday, Mrs. Clinton added she expected the 25-year marriage to last beyond the White House. Mrs. Clinton's public words about their marriage were her first in five months. Last time they were provoked by the publication of her interview in "Talk" magazine.
H. CLINTON: My husband and I love each other very much. And we are very committed to one another, and we have been through a lot, like most marriages I am aware of.
WOODRUFF: Her expected Senate campaign, Mrs. Clinton said, would be launched officially on February 6th in her new home county of Westchester. President Clinton plans to be there. The first lady said her fund-raising was going well, but she did not disclose how much money was in the bank. The campaign committee of her expected Senate opponent, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announced that it had exceeded its fund-raising goals for 1999.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friends of Giuliani has raised $12 million to date, which is a Senate campaign record. We're very, very proud of that.
WOODRUFF: Both the Giuliani and Clinton camps say they expect their candidates to raise as much as $25 million each during the course of their campaigns.
SHAW: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, is George W. Bush turning up the heat in New Hampshire? A look at the latest move his campaign has cooked up.
WOODRUFF: In New Hampshire, rivals George W. Bush and John McCain are butting heads over tax proposals. As the Bush campaign released a new ad on the subject, the McCain camp issued a challenge.
Our Jeanne Meserve has the story.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is this ad criticizing the McCain tax plan that is sending the dust flying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BUSH CAMPAIGN AD)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Something I don't agree with I am going to point it out. I don't agree with leaving money in Washington, D.C. And I darn sure don't agree with, you know, saying that you're going to take 40 billion dollars of employee-related benefits and have the people pay tax on them. I think that is a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: McCain's New Hampshire chairman characterizes it as a negative ad, and his national co-chair, former Senator Warren Rudman, says Bush is breaking a promise.
WARREN RUDMAN, MCCAIN NATIONAL CO-CHAIR: John McCain and Governor Bush shook hands on no negatives, and certainly we don't have a problem with people who want to compare the two plans, as long as they do it accurately. There's an old saying amongst trial lawyers that everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but nobody is entitled to their own facts. And Governor Bush's statements in the last 48 hours, and those of his campaign staff, are just flat-out false.
MESERVE: Senator McCain speculated on the implications for the rest of the campaign.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am worried about the trend here. I am worried about the trend. That is what I am more worried about. This has been a very high-level of debate, and one that's been characterized by respect. I'm worried about it.
MESERVE: But Governor Bush said the ad is not negative, and is accurate.
BUSH: What we do in the course of a campaign, as you know, is lay out a plan, we put it in writing. People look at it, they scrutinize it, they analyze it. And that's what I have done. And that's what it says.
MESERVE: McCain Wednesday opened fire on a new tax front, saying Bush's proposed modifications to the so-called marriage penalty would actually increase the tax bill of some couples. Bush said, not so.
BUSH: This is a restoration to where it was when President Reagan was the president. This is a mitigation of the marriage penalty.
MESERVE: In Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday afternoon, the Bush campaign took the McCain campaign up on an offer to compare tax plans and numbers. But according to McCain staffers, the Bush people set the time unilaterally without checking who would be there. McCain's press secretary called it a political stunt, quote, "It is ridiculous."
(on camera): George Bush is leaving New Hampshire to campaign in Iowa, but he is not surrendering the territory. His ads will continue to saturate the airwaves, and his mother, the former first lady Barbara Bush, will be in New Hampshire Thursday and Friday to rally support for her son.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Plaistow, New Hampshire.
SHAW: Joining us now with more on the Republican race, Bob Novak of the "Chicago Sun-Times."
Bob, how is the race between Bush and McCain shaping up in New Hampshire?
ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, it's getting nastier and nastier, and that always happens when you have a close race and you get close to election day.
There's no question that the Bush people thought they had McCain just where they wanted him. No matter how much they protest, they were taxing employee benefits. They'd pull back from that position. And they thought a tax-cutting position in good old New Hampshire, anti-tax New Hampshire, would be terrific.
But New Hampshire has changed. It's more like Massachusetts now than it used to be, and also Governor McCain has been campaigning there endlessly, having given up on Iowa a long time ago. So the polls, Bernie, right now show something of a surge for Senator McCain, though it's still a very close election.
SHAW: Bob, what about Steve Forbes up here in Iowa?
NOVAK: He was -- he put all his chips on Iowa, and it looked last summer, Bernie, like Steve Forbes was a real challenger against Governor Bush. But the problem is he just hasn't taken off. He is less attractive to the Iowans than he was, in many ways, four years ago. I have talked with some non-partisan, that is, non-committed Republicans out there just today, and they look like -- it looks like Mr. Forbes is not going to do very well, although he has a very good organization in the polls.
Usually conservatives do better than the polls indicate they're going to do when they go to the caucuses, but that may not be the case for Steve Forbes. And that might give Governor Bush a little bit of a bump going into New Hampshire, although that has been largely discounted.
SHAW: Let's cross the aisle, now. Let's talk about Al Gore and Bill Bradley. How do their campaigns feel about the race in New Hampshire?
NOVAK: I think they both agree that New Hampshire is a very close race. There was a "Newsweek" poll that showed a huge Gore lead over Bradley, but everybody believes there are some mistakes and some faulty procedures in that poll. The thing that I think is very interesting is everybody agrees there is a movement forward by Gore right now and that there's no question that Bradley is not doing as well as they thought he was going to do.
Still very close in New Hampshire, Bernie, but I think the tip- off is that some of the Bradley people I talked to say all they have to get out of New Hampshire is a competitive showing not a win. That indicates that perhaps they're much less optimistic than they used to be.
I think if it is close in New Hampshire, there is no question, however, that Senator Bradley will continue on to the big -- he has the money to do it -- to the big round of New York, California, other states on March 7, and there will be plenty of time between New Hampshire and then to campaign. So New Hampshire in the Democratic Party is not make or break this time.
SHAW: Thank you, Bob Novak.
And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
SHAW: Good to be here in the Hawkeye State.
Presidential candidates traditionally have played up farm issues. But while crops and hogs still matter to many Iowans who will take part in Monday's caucuses, it is not necessarily what the Hawkeye State is all about.
Our Bruce Morton has an inside view of the new Iowa economy.
MORTON (voice-over): Iowa. A farm state, right? Well, not exactly. Not anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven.
MORTON: This is the brand new Lakeside Casino, in Osceola, 45 minutes south of Des Moines. Eight hundred jobs.
JOE MASSA, GENERAL MANAGER, LAKESIDE CASINO & RESORT: It's definitely going to have an impact on the region. Any time you introduce that kind of a payroll into an area like this, people are going to feel the ripple effect of it. You bet.
MORTON: But Iowa is changing in much more fundamental ways than this.
PROF. DEAN WRIGHT, DRAKE UNIVERSITY: I think Iowa is really going through a massive change as a rural economy moving urban. The fact is, the family farm tends to be a nostalgic myth, to be honest about it. Companies like Cargill, Iowa beef processors, pioneer hybrid corn companies, beef companies -- big companies have basically taken the family farm and moved it into a large corporate enterprise.
MORTON: Just under 40 percent of Iowans are rural now. More jobs in agribusiness in fields as diverse as genetics and pharmaceuticals; fewer people on the farms. And another new day is breaking in Des Moines and the state's other cities. Teresa Wahlert works for U.S. West, but also works at economic development here.
TERESA WAHLERT, U.S. WEST: It's high tech. It's the financial industry, the insurance industry, even manufacturing out in the -- in what we would call the suburbs, but really it's all the greater Des Moines area and central Iowa. All of these really produce the engine of the economy for central Iowa and for Iowa itself.
MORTON: Yes, banking, insurance, publications. Maybe 250,000 lived in Des Moines when they had the first early caucuses in 1972; 400,000 now. Iowa is growing.
WRIGHT: The state tends to be growing, but it's growing in the urban environment. It's the Des Moines that are growing. It's the Waterloos that are growing.
MORTON: High tech. Small cities. Iowa has things to offer.
WAHLERT: We still are among the very top of all of the states in our educational system, and of course we believe that is a real value, quality of life issue that most anybody is interested in.
MORTON: Iowa has built it and they have come. Case in point, Susan Ramsey of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, who went away to work for 10 years, came back home to visit and stayed.
SUSAN RAMSEY, GREATER IOWA PARTNERSHIP: When you have a family, when you start raising children, you want to provide the best for them and you see what schools are like in other areas of the country, or you look at the bars on the windows in other urban areas, and you want an urban existence, but you also want the childhood you grew up with, and that's what brought me home.
MORTON: Iowa cities growing. You could say they're on kind of a roll here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The number is 36 red.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I get that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you did!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right!
MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Osceola, Iowa.
WOODRUFF: If anyone is taking a gamble here in Iowa, it may be GOP presidential hopeful Steve Forbes.
CNN's Patty Davis is traveling with Forbes as he tries to beat the odds in Monday's caucuses.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Steve Forbes' bus plowed through Iowa, he was up against more than polls showing him trailing Texas Governor George W. Bush. This time he was up against a winter snowstorm.
STEVE FORBES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very, very honored that you made the effort to be here today. So much for global warming.
DAVIS: As one of the few candidates in Iowa Wednesday, Forbes attracted more media attention than usual. He tried to take advantage of it, coming out swinging against tax plans offered by front-runner George W. Bush and Arizona Senator John McCain.
FORBES: It's tweedle-dum, tweedle-dee, the same old, same old. Why not get to the heart of the problem, which is the tax code.
DAVIS: Buoyed by his strong showing in a "Los Angeles Times" poll of Iowa Republicans, he played to social conservatives, calling Bush a pacifist on abortion for not pledging a strong anti-abortion plank.
With less than a week to go before the Iowa caucus, Forbes is making a last-ditch effort to sway voters.
FORBES: You can make a real difference in these remaining days.
DAVIS: He admittedly resorted to pandering to the elderly voters here in Boone.
FORBES: None of you remember the mid '80s; you're not old enough. That's called pandering.
DAVIS: Both the Bush and Forbes campaigns were preparing Iowa voters for potentially nasty days ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BUSH CAMPAIGN RADIO AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might receive misleading phone calls, negative mail, or see or hear their attack ads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: Ironically, Forbes warned of the same thing from the Bush campaign.
FORBES: We've gotten rumblings about certain mailings ready to be made, phone banks ready to go, so it's just to put our people on alert.
DAVIS: In the final days before the caucus, the Forbes campaign is using what is called its Wal-Mart strategy, and that is hitting as many small towns as it can, and then expanding as the Wal-Mart stores did to the big cities -- Judy. WOODRUFF: All right, Patty Davis, right here in Iowa, thanks.
Still ahead, Pat Buchanan revisits his signature issue as he continues his quest for the Reform Party nomination.
WOODRUFF: Despite his party change, Pat Buchanan has not abandoned immigration as a central issue in his presidential campaign. As a Reform Party candidate, Buchanan has renewed his commitment to controlling United States borders.
Jennifer Auther has more.
JENNIFER AUTHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pat Buchanan took his message of protectionist nationalism to Arizona Wednesday, illustrating what he calls the perils of illegal immigration across the Mexican border.
PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton-Gore administration is not serious about defending the sovereignty for the boarders of the United States. This situation in Douglas, Arizona is a travesty and a tragedy.
AUTHER: The Reform Party presidential candidate was joined by area residents who say they feel scared and threatened. Eight-two- year-old widow Teresa Murray, whose home is surrounded by razor wire, says she's been broken into 30 times over the past 18 years. Cattle rancher George Morin has other concerns.
GEORGE MORIN, CATTLE RANCHER: And I've had the unfortunate experience of finding quite a large amount of dope just lying around, and you look down and you see a couple 100 pounds of dope, you know, somebody's got to be watching it, and it really unnerves you a little bit.
AUTHER: According to the U.S. Border Patrol agents, seized a quarter of a million pounds of marijuana along this 281-mile long stretch of border last year. They also say, on average, more than 950 Mexican nationals are apprehended in this area every day. In a major policy speech Tuesday at the Nixon Library in Southern California, Buchanan said he'd overhaul the Immigration Act of 1965.
BUCHANAN: As president, I will ask Congress to reduce new entry visas to 250,000 to 300,000 a year, which will be enough to admit family members of new citizens, with plenty immediate family members, with plenty of room for many thousands with the special talents or skills our society needs.
AUTHER: The man who embarrassed President Bush in New Hampshire in 1992 and defeated Senator Bob Dole there in 1996 finds himself far from the GOP battle this year, since the Reform Party chooses its nominee later this summer. (on camera): If Buchanan wins the Reform Party nomination and the $12.5 million in federal dollars that come with it, many pundits say he'll hurt the GOP presidential nominee more than he'll hurt the Democrat.
BUCHANAN: We would hope that I would get the Reform Party nomination and I would do damage to both parties, but we're not going to worry about whose vote other people claim them to be.
AUTHER: Buchanan still says his switch to the Reform Party was the right move. After the GOP, in his words, "bet the whole ranch" on George W. Bush.
Jennifer Auther, CNN, Cochise County, Arizona.
WOODRUFF: When we return, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson on the candidates, the campaigns and the media.
Plus: Bob Dole's career takes a comic turn. We'll look at his plans for election 2000.
WOODRUFF: For more on the political matters of the day and the news from the campaign trail, we turn to Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard," and they both join us from Washington.
Margaret, to you first. George W. Bush is so far ahead in the polls, why is he now going all out to criticize John McCain over taxes?
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Well, they have nothing else to really go on. I mean, they need something -- they're like Gore and Bradley on health care. They need to find an issue, and they need to argue, and tax cuts are as good as anything -- even though like with Gore and Bradley it's the difference between, you know, as I said, you know, one percent and two percent milk.
TUCKER CARLSON, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I mean, I think he's concerned. I mean, look, if all of a sudden John McCain, you know, wins in New Hampshire by a decent margin, if Bush, you know, if Bush is hurt by Forbes in Iowa, McCain wins New Hampshire and then wins South Carolina, I don't know, potentially could be a problem. No reason to, you know, leave any possibilities un-dealt with. So they've been hitting it back.
I actually think that Bush would have been better off hitting McCain earlier on taxes, say a week earlier. At this point, it's -- I'm not sure he has time for the message to sort of settle with the people who are seeing it. WOODRUFF: Well, what about all these national polls we're seeing, and we're seeing more of them this week, that show that even Republicans, even conservative Republicans, are just not that excited about these huge tax cuts anymore? Why doesn't that sentiment help McCain?
M. CARLSON: Well, it might not be hurting him as much as the Bush people think it would, because tax cuts are not the holy grail they used to be. And when you poll conservative Republicans, they don't put tax cuts at the top of their list anymore. They also care about Social Security, Medicare and the deficit.
T. CARLSON: But I think...
WOODRUFF: But why...
T. CARLSON: I think it's potentially helpful for Bush to use this issue, whether or not it resonates with the public, to hammer McCain. I mean, this morning on ABC, McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, and Bush's, Karl Rove, were on. And Davis says to Rove, you know, why don't you come by our office and take a look at our tax numbers if you don't believe them? Well, within two hours, the Bush people had called all the networks and said, well, we're going over to McCain's office. Didn't call McCain's office until an hour before they showed up. And they had this kind of amazing photo-op, sort of circus atmosphere. And they brought their own camera crew and they tried to turn the whole thing into an opportunity to embarrass McCain. I don't think it worked, but the point is that getting aggressive like that does work.
M. CARLSON: It's like "60 minutes" and Mike Wallace with the ambush interview.
T. CARLSON: That's right. That's...
M. CARLSON: Yes, that is somebody to put their hands up...
T. CARLSON: Where were you on the night of July 29th, and that works.
M. CARLSON: Yes.
T. CARLSON: Totally.
M. CARLSON: Not cutting taxes.
T. CARLSON: Exactly.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you both about Steve Forbes. He's trying very hard here in Iowa. How well does he need to do to get any kind of a real bump out of this state?
T. CARLSON: I think he'd need to get probably about 100 percent.
M. CARLSON: He's the guy that gets A for effort, and he has been at it, and he never seems to get there. He is the only one that gets up in the morning and thinks he has a chance to be president.
T. CARLSON: But what's interesting is, the Forbes campaign, the idea was even though Steve Forbes is not going to be president, the campaign will be useful to conservatives because it will push Bush to the right. It will keep him from running a general election campaign in the primary. And I think if anything it's been McCain who has really forced Bush to tighten up his campaign and to define his issues a little better. And, of course, McCain is no flaming right-winger. He is much more of a moderate than Forbes is. So I think in a lot of. sort of more profound ways, the Forbes campaign has been a failure.
WOODRUFF: Let me switch you both to the Democrats quickly. Howard Kurtz writes in "The Washington Post" this morning that the press now seems to be turning on Bill Bradley. Is there something to this, Margaret?
M. CARLSON: Well, it's taken a while. What happened was that Bill Bradley had utter contempt and disdain for Al Gore. The he began to show some disdain for the voters, and then he began to show it for the press. And by the time he put the press inside his circle of disdain, they reacted badly, and turned on him.
Also, an insurgent has to kind of keep insurging, and he seems to have lost energy and squandered that early bump that he had. And the press, which wants a race, is cruelly disappointed at this moment.
T. CARLSON: And also, in -- well, in a campaign in which temperament famously is the deciding factor (AUDIO GAP) views that are super important beyond temperament, Bradley has, I think, one of the least attractive temperaments you could imagine. If you set out to construct a candidate who has trouble connecting with individual voters and certainly with the media, you would construct Bill Bradley, so...
M. CARLSON: He's made Gore look soft and cuddly...
T. CARLSON: He has.
M. CARLSON: ... and he's the only guy in America who could do that.
T. CARLSON: I think that's fair.
M. CARLSON: Steve Forbes, maybe.
T. CARLSON: No, I think he's tougher than Steve.
WOODRUFF: Very, very quickly from each of you, just a few words. Hillary Clinton now giving these interviews out. Is she helping herself, Margaret?
M. CARLSON: Well, the radio is like an ambush question. The coming out and saying what she said once before, which is, listen, I've been with this guy more than half my life, I'm going to stick with him, I think is actually was effective at the time, and it is much more effective than asking people to giggle along with you in the end-of-driveway press conferences as if you have just moved into your newlywed cottage. You know, the idea that they put the marriage out there I think is offensive to voters. If you are kind of forced out, and you say something like, hey, my marriage is fine, leave it alone, I think she gets rewarded for that.
WOODRUFF: Got to be quick, Tucker.
T. CARLSON: I would just echo what Margaret said. Look, if you are going to use your family or certainly your marriage as a campaign prop, you know, you can't whine when people bash you over the head with it.
WOODRUFF: Tucker Carlson...
M. CARLSON: I second that.
T. CARLSON: Amen.
M. CARLSON: Amen.
WOODRUFF: Thank you both. We'll see you later. Bernie.
T. CARLSON: See you.
M. CARLSON: Thank you, Judy.
SHAW: Thank you, Judy...
M. CARLSON: We'll be there.
SHAW: We have some late-breaking news to report to you. Our CNN senior White House correspondent John King has just sent word that Senator Bob Kerrey, a two-term Nebraska Democrat, is telling associates he's inclined not to run for reelection. His term is up this year. CNN has learned that Senator Kerrey has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning at 10:15 Eastern Time.
John King also reports that Senate minority leader Tom Daschle will be meeting with Senator Kerrey very, very shortly, hoping to try to persuade Kerrey to change his mind and to run.
Again, the headline on this: CNN has learned through our senior White House correspondent John King that Nebraska two-term Democrat Bob Kerrey has decided that he will not run. He is telling associates that he's inclined to do that. News conference tomorrow at 10:15 Eastern Time. We are watching that, and that's the very latest.
WOODRUFF: That's right. We knew he was going to be making a decision pretty soon.
WOODRUFF: So we'll find out.
SHAW: We'll have full details, of course, on INSIDE POLITICS tomorrow.
Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole will have a different role in this presidential election. Dole has signed as a political commentator for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With John Stewart."
Well, that concludes this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.
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