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Inside Politics

The Iowa Caucuses: Candidates Make Last-Minute Pleas for Support as Caucuses Near

Aired January 23, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN election 2000 special presentation.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The caucus process is a chance for you to fight for your future.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bring a friend and relative to your caucuses tomorrow night.



STEVE FORBES (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to have a Declaration of Independence, the first round tomorrow night.



BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We could surprise a few people.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The candidates on the eve of the Iowa caucuses: What impression are they making on the first voters in election 2000?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's no big deal, no big deal, because, they put their pants on the same way I do.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We'll focus on this state where meeting would-be presidents is routine. Plus... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We could go further looking for a place for the campaign to start and do worse.


ANNOUNCER: The Iowa caucuses, a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff, and panelists Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Twenty-four hours from now, it begins: Iowans will carry out their by now familiar role as the first sounding board and springboard on the road to the White House.

SHAW: Candidates of both parties are campaigning into the night.

Here in Des Moines, the Iowa capital and the site of our caucus headquarters and across the state: Presidential hopefuls zipped in and out of nearly a dozen cities and towns today. We begin our Iowa coverage with the Republicans and CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday in Iowa. For the front-runner, that meant church, some heavenly poll numbers, the editorial blessing of Iowa's leading newspaper, and another go around on abortion.


BUSH: And I understand good people can disagree on this issue. But I'm going to lead the country to a better appreciation of the importance of life. And no one's pushing me around.

CROWLEY: Maybe, but Steve Forbes' persistent question of Bush's anti-abortion commitment has kept the issue in the headlines when Bush would rather be talking about tax cuts or almost anything else.

Forbes is counting heavily on social conservatives and a crack organization to weaken Bush for a New Hampshire finale.

FORBES: My campaign manager last night made one prediction, and that is that George W. Bush will finish third in New Hampshire. So it'll be a race between me and Mr. McCain.

CROWLEY: It will also be a miracle. In New Hampshire, Forbes trails Bush by roughly 20 points. The "Des Moines Register" poll shows Bush at 43 percent in Iowa and Forbes less than half that. The rest of the pack is in the single digits, though the upward movement of Alan Keyes has politicos buzzing about a strong third for the rhetorically blessed Keyes.

For Forbes and Bush, in the final hours, the mission is the same, but the tactics are opposite. Forbes needs to stir things up, keep things moving, try to find a wedge. For Bush, the strategy is steady as she is going, shake a lot of hands, say as little as possible, and oh yes, make those heavenly poll numbers a reality.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you planning to go to the caucuses tomorrow night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I haven't decided yet. I hope to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is favorite candidate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personally I like George Bush.

CROWLEY: Bush has less than 24 hours to convince the people who tell pollsters they support him to go to the caucuses and say it where it counts.

BUSH: Say if you're for me, which I hope you are, bring a friend and relative to your caucuses tomorrow night.


CROWLEY: Though Bush will take the next 24 hours or so criss- crossing Iowa, the campaign is already thinking one step ahead. Bush will leave Iowa tomorrow night, just after the caucus results are in. He will land in New Hampshire in the wee hours of the morning and immediately hold a rally. The race for New Hampshire then will be on -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Candy Crowley.

Now for more on the Republicans, let's turn to our CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, what stands out about the Republican front-runner?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What stands out is how much Republican hope is being placed in the George W. Bush campaign, Republicans right now, as I see it, are desperate to win. They've had a tough time after eight years of Bill Clinton. It took Democrats 12 years in the wilderness to feel this way, to get this desperate, as they were in 1992 when Clinton promised to lead them back to power.

Well, Bush has the same appeal. He looks like a winner, and he's reached out to conservatives here in Iowa on issues like abortion. But it's interesting that they're not putting any tough tests to him. They're reaching out to him to lead them back.

There is an enormous amount of hope being placed in his campaign and a great breadth of support across the party.

SHAW: Enter the second tier of Republican candidates.

SCHNEIDER: Well, the question we are going to find out tomorrow night in Iowa is, are conservatives really going to give Bush any kind of a tough time? We'll see how many votes candidates like Bauer and Keyes and Forbes and Hatch get. We're also going to find out who is going to be their standard-bearer. Steve Forbes right now is running ahead in the polls. He's claiming to be the king of the conservatives. But there is something missing from the Forbes campaign. You could call it populism, red meat, an anti-establishment appeal. The guy who seems to be catching on with that kind of message isn't Steve Forbes. It's Alan Keyes, and we'll be watching very closely to see if Alan Keyes pulls a surprise tomorrow night.

SHAW: OK, Bill Schneider -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, in the Democratic race, Bill Bradley picked up a key endorsement here in Iowa today. And that may help explain why he sounded so upbeat on the stump, despite Al Gore's growing advantage in state polls.

CNN's John King has an update on Gore versus Bradley and their caucus eve campaigning.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm running for president, and I'd like to have your help.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Door to door on the eve of Iowa's vote, looking for a big win in the kickoff contest of campaign 2000.

GORE: It's going real well.

KING: The struggling underdog said he was in the Democratic race for the long haul and wished aloud for an Iowa upset.

BRADLEY: You know, they say we're behind in Iowa. But as I look around at this crowd, I think, you know, we could surprise a few people.

KING: Gore had a bounce in his step and for good reason. The final "Des Moines Register" poll showed the vice president leading big, 56 percent to 28 percent. But the "Register" gave its Democratic endorsement to Bradley, saying -- quote -- "a compelling vision and fundamental decency give him the edge."

The vice president takes a different view.

GORE: Senator Bradley is a good man. He's a decent man. I've never attacked him personally and I never will. But he hasn't made a speech about education reform and has treated it as kind of an afterthought.

KING: Between speeches, back on the bus, barely time for a yawn, the snow-covered landscape passing by as the vice president campaigns by phone.

GORE: I appreciate your dedication to my campaign. No, I'm not kidding. It really is me.

KING: Bradley's closing pitch was that Iowa faced a choice between politics as usual and someone a little different.

BRADLEY: I believe everything I just told you.

KING: But if the polls are to be believed, Bradley won't get the return he was looking for when he decided to invest big in Iowa. He's suddenly struggling in New Hampshire, too, but says he'll stay in the race even if he loses the two opening contests.


KING: But the Gore campaign sees in Bradley's struggles a chance to bring the Democratic race to an early close. So as the candidate works union halls like this one, the Gore campaign not only calling its own supporters in the final hours but also reaching out to Bradley supporters, using its phone banks to see if they can be persuaded to change their minds -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, reporting here in Iowa.

Well, for more perspective on the Democratic contest, let's turn now to CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield..

Jeff, as I think you know, there are even at this early stage some insiders who are saying that Bradley is really finished. Isn't it awfully premature to say that?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: You know how there are illnesses that are prone to certain geographic regions or ethnic groups? Among particularly the press, the rush to judgment is probably something we need to develop a vaccine for.

Last night at one of the gathering places here in Des Moines, I actually heard somebody going up to November to explain who would win and why, and I suspect there are people tonight picking either Gore or Bush's Cabinet. Of course, it's too early.

For one thing, even if Bradley, as the polls say, loses badly in Iowa, you know the history of New Hampshire. It often ignores Iowa. The polls show Bradley has slipped behind, but it's still very competitive. And he has the money and the resources to fight: Once New Hampshire's over, there's a five-week hiatus on Democratic side until that in effect national primary: New York, California, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, and New England.

And so the question for Bill Bradley is not, is he done, does he have to leave, does he have to give up his citizenship; it's does he something to say that can explain to people precisely why they should come to him rather than going with a sitting vice president. That I think is what's been missing. But it's way, way early to say this is done.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, thank you.

And as our special edition of INSIDE POLITICS continues, Iowa's relationship with presidential hopefuls: a look at how often the candidates and the voters cross paths in the pre-caucus days. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The candidates have been driven and flown for days, weeks and months across the state of Iowa, shaking countless numbers of hands. They manage to meet and greet a significant portion of the state's caucus-goers, but to what effect?

Our Jonathan Karl reports.


GORE: Thank you. Thank you, guys. Thank you.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Usually it's not much more than a handshake.


FORBES: Good to see you.

KARL: But an estimated one out of every three Iowa caucus-goers will actually meet a presidential candidate.

BRADLEY: What's your name? Nice to meet you.

KARL: Here you can get a would-be commander-in-chief to listen to your poetry.

BRADLEY: Hey, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wrote it in 10 minutes!

BRADLEY: Ten minutes, that's quite a poet.

KARL: And ask a question, you may get a speech.

GORE: I proposed a national tuition savings plan to make higher education accessible to all.

KARL: The sleepy town of Indianola is a must stop for candidates. The normally laid-back Corner Sundry Coffee Shop turned into a madhouse when George W. Bush hit town.

BUSH: Well, hi. How are you doing?

KARL: Just ask the regulars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was standing in the back, back there, and he was at the bar. I couldn't see him. I had no idea who he was with, and I screamed out, I, said hey, governor...

Hey, governor, come back here and see the real people.

BUSH: Hey, he's standing next to one.

Are you suggesting these people with cameras are not real people? KARL: The cameras can get in the way, just witness the scene down the block at Ray's Barbershop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't any different than anybody else's haircut. I didn't actually do that much, just kind of trimmed it around the ears.

KARL: None of this is new to the regulars at Corner Sundry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place has seen virtually every candidate go by, not only this year, but in every year in the past that we've had caucuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's no big deal. No big deal, because they put their pants on the same way I do.

KARL (on camera): By the time Monday's caucuses are over, the candidates competing here will have spent a combined total of more than 360 days in Iowa since last January.


BUSH: Thanks.

KARL (voice-over): If charm were the only factor, Bush could have won over this Bradley supporter in Grinnell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After just meeting them, I'd say go Bush. But after reading all their policies, I'm for Bradley.

GORE: If you give me his telephone number, I'll call him.


KARL: In fact, the face-to-face meetings may not change many minds, but they can serve another purpose, energizing supporters to turn out on caucus night.

GORE: Hey, thank you.


SHAW: Now, let's turn to Jonathan Karl, who is following the Forbes campaign, as well as colleagues Candy Crowley here in Des Moines with the Bush campaign, John King covering Vice President Gore, and Jeanne Meserve on the trail out in Iowa City with the Bradley campaign. Jeanne, first to you, I have got to ask you, does Bradley believe he can, as he said, "surprise" the vice president -- a sitting vice president with all his organizational clout in this state?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly does not believe that he can win, he knows the realities here. What he is hoping for is that 31 percent benchmark, that he'll meet or exceed that. That was the number achieved by Senator Ted Kennedy when he ran in 1980 against Jimmy Carter here, that's really the number this campaign is looking at. They are hoping to best it. They are trying very hard to mobilize their supporters out here. At every event, Bradley is saying to them, go out, call 10 people, get them to the caucuses, maybe we can make a better showing than the conventional wisdom thinks we will.

SHAW: John King, does Al Gore think that at this point given his lead, that it is time to start a kind of early bind up our wounds with Bill Bradley?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Bernie. The -- Senator Bradley had been ahead in New Hampshire until the polls just in this past week. The vice president, because he is confident of victory here, being polite in drawing distinctions with Senator Bradley. But still at every stop, draws at least a half dozen or more on health care, on education, on other policies.

So the vice president still very concerned. As Jeanne mentioned, they're concerned about how the news media will talk about the margin of victory here, assuming Gore wins, then they expect a very difficult week in New Hampshire, because New Hampshire known for its contrarian history often goes against the results in Iowa.

SHAW: And over to the Republican side, Jonathan Karl, it seems that Steve Forbes has carpet bombed Iowa with money?

KARL: That's true.

SHAW: Going back in -- going back in '96 and now. What is he banking on now at this late hour?

KARL: You know, there is something very interesting that has happened here this year with Steve Forbes. Forbes has actually spent about a million dollars less on TV advertisements in this campaign than he spent four years ago. Instead, he has spent his money a little differently, building an organization. The Forbes campaign has more than 40 paid staffers in Iowa, so they are counting on those paid staffers, this vast organization he's built, to turn out voters.

And in fact, what the Forbes people have been doing is actually praying for a blizzard tomorrow, because they believe if there is a low turnout -- and by the way, the weather is not supposed to be blizzard like -- but they believe if there is low turnout in this caucus that Forbes will do well, because Forbes has that organization and very committed supporters that will get to the polls no matter what.

SHAW: Candy Crowley, given what Jonathan just said about the Forbes people praying for a blizzard, I suppose it is far too early for George W. to be thinking about binding up wounds within the party with Forbes, and McCain, and the rest of the field sniping at him?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The road really has only gotten tough recently for George Bush. You know, he spent a great year, he was flying through things. But now, you know, push has come to shove here in Iowa. Even if Steve Forbes can't overtake him, Steve Forbes can do some damage, if Forbes has a huge turnout, if he can score significantly high points, even if he doesn't win. You know, it is all in interpretation.

So what the Bush campaign has been trying to do for the past couple of days is to tell people, look, please ignore those polls, much the same as Al Gore is doing, ignore the polls and go to the caucuses. And Bush knows full well that he's got to go into New Hampshire and really do battle there, where the numbers are a lot closer. Indeed, a lot of the polls show John McCain ahead, and in fact, that is one of the reasons why Bush is going to leave Des Moines late tomorrow night and head right for New Hampshire to begin that battle.

SHAW: Folks, we're fast running out of time, but all of you are our precious eyes and ears. Is there anything someone wants to point out?

KARL: Well, interesting, picking up on what...

MESERVE: Yes, Bernie, I would chime in. I'd chime in and say this is a very energetic and enthusiastic campaign at this point, despite the poll numbers. It may be that Bill Bradley is a professional athlete and he knows how to prepare for a competition, but he has actually been very energetic, and actually amusing on -- in his campaign stops in the last couple of days.

SHAW: Jon?

KING: A lot of talk early on that the vice president was distancing himself from President Clinton, but as he closes here in Iowa and look for even more in New Hampshire, the vice president taking credit for economic prosperity. New Hampshire is coming a long way since 1992, when Bill Clinton first campaigned there. Look for the vice president to continue to associate himself with the president from the last day in Iowa and beyond into New Hampshire on the subject of the economy.

SHAW: Thanks very much to all of you. The majority of you are freezing, we love you.

When we return, to New Hampshire and the campaign of Republican John McCain. Can this maverick senator hold his lead in the Granite State?


WOODRUFF: In the first-in-the nation primary state, New Hampshire, our new poll shows Al Gore with a five-point lead over Bill Bradley. Gore got 50 percent to Bradley's 45 percent among likely Democratic primary voters. That's in the CNN/"USA Today/Gallup tracking poll.

On the Republican side, the poll shows John McCain has widened his lead to nine points over George W. Bush.

The margin of error for both polls, plus or minus four points. We'll update this poll daily until the New Hampshire primary on February 1st. SHAW: And with Bush busy here in Iowa, John McCain is making the most of his time in the Granite State.

As Bill Delaney reports, the Republican hopeful is pushing forward in New Hampshire without a second thought for tomorrow's caucuses.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain was all over the place in New Hampshire, from way south to far north, three more town hall meetings. In the town of Salem, one exchange tailor-made for McCain, the self-declared straight-talker in a state that likes that sort of thing.

BOB ELLIOTT, RETIRED TEACHER: Don't ever embarrass us. When you go to Washington, you've got to assume the vows of the priesthood of being a president. Now we don't expect you to be celibate, but we do expect you to be faithful.


We say character is very important, and you have it, and we want you!

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You raise the important point. You raise the important point about what leadership is all about. I will do as you asked, and frankly, as you have every right to expect from the leader of the greatest nation in the world. I thank you.

DELANEY: What many say the outcome in New Hampshire may come from: a sense of who the candidate is, character, in a race in which front-runners -- McCain and George W. Bush -- are sparring over just a few issues. Bush's tax plan was again slammed by McCain.

MCCAIN: The difference between me and Governor Bush is Governor Bush wants to put all of that surplus into tax cuts. I don't think that's conservative.

DELANEY: As for passing up Iowa, no second thoughts.

MCCAIN: We'll see what happens out of Iowa and whether it affects beneficially or negatively our campaign. But I still think that it was the right thing to do.

DELANEY: Alone in New Hampshire, John McCain, standing out where most believe his candidacy will rise or fall.

(on camera): In a state where more than most voters are used to special treatment, McCain is giving it, and on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, especially, getting it. Capacity crowds at his town hall meetings, covered on local TV starved for other candidates, while two important Sunday newspapers came out in support of him, making 15 such endorsements. (voice-over): In the state that matters most to McCain, New Hampshire, it's hard to see how his absence in Iowa would have made the hearts of any voters here fonder.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Concord, New Hampshire.


WOODRUFF: While John McCain looks forward to the New Hampshire primary, let's turn our attention again to tomorrow night's Iowa caucuses. Joining us now with their thoughts, Stu Rothenberg of the "Rothenberg Political Report" and Charlie Cook of "The National Journal."

All right, gentlemen, let's be absolutely shameless and talk expectations. How well, Charlie, do Mr. Bush, and Mr. Gore have to do here in Iowa to have it be called a success for them into New Hampshire?

CHARLES COOK, "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": I think if either of them win by 15 points or more it's hard to say they didn't win. I mean, I think 15 points is certainly a good win. But even 12 points or up, really, is a decent win.

Single digits for either one, I think, is a disaster.

WOODRUFF: Just 12 points, is that...

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, you know, on the Republican side, I think George Bush needs to hit somewhere around 40 percent, assuming Steve Forbes is going to be about 25, that is a 15-point margin. Now, Judy, I've talked to a number of reporters, and some of them disagree with that. They say, no, Bush has to get 45, 46. If he only gets 40, that's not big enough. I think a 40/25 win is quite comfortable.

And on the Democratic side, you know, there has been talk the last few days of possibly a two-to-one victory for the vice president, talk of Bradley's softness. I don't know. I think the vice president probably needs to hit 60. Anything above that is gravy.

WOODRUFF: And if he doesn't, Charlie?

COOK: Well, the funny thing is it is logical to say that Iowa, a win, a good showing in Iowa gives you a boost in New Hampshire. It's absolutely logical. Unfortunately, if you look at history, there's not -- you know, it is very, very often in competitive races whoever wins Iowa loses New Hampshire and whoever loses in Iowa wins in New Hampshire, that there's not a lot of linkage there, that people in New Hampshire hardly acknowledge the existence of Iowa. But you have to do well at one or the other. That's for sure.

WOODRUFF: Stu, what do you think: If one -- if either Bush or Gore doesn't do as well as some are saying they likely will, what does it mean? Does it mean anything? ROTHENBERG: Well, it means a week or so of second-guessing, forcing them to answer questions as to why they didn't do as well, focus on strategy and tactics rather than message. Neither of them would like that, just as Bill Bradley wouldn't like it.

So I think it's a problem, but I think Charlie's right. The nature of the electorate in New Hampshire is fundamentally different than in Iowa. And frankly, New Hampshire voters like the idea that they're quirky enough to correct whatever Iowa has done.

COOK: It's sort of like if you either win the division championship or the wildcard. And Iowa's kind of the wild -- you have to win or the other. And if you don't, it's just really hard to see you doing well after that.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about Bill Bradley. How well is he doing here in Iowa? How well does he need to do? And how much does it affect New Hampshire?

ROTHENBERG: Well, they set the bar at 31 percent. Since they set it there, we know that's too low. That can't be where the bar is. Most political reporters, if you talk to them, they would think -- they would talk more about 35 percent or so.

I think there's been a lot of discussion the last few days about weakness in Bradley. Maybe that lowers expectations. Maybe that's ultimately good for him.

Clearly, the campaign has been stumbling.

COOK: There's no doubt that Bradley was in a free fall for a week or so, and yesterday I think was a particularly bad day. This morning, he got the "Des Moines Register" endorsement. Got -- what? -- three or four endorsements in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts. I went out and watched him this morning at Cornell College at Mt. Vernon, and he seemed upbeat wasn't as dour about the situation as he was yesterday, you know they are. He wasn't as dour about the situation as he was yesterday.

You know, they're hoping that they can bounce back. They've had a good day after a really bad week.

ROTHENBERG: You know, it wasn't that long ago that they put a few hundred thousand dollars -- I think 800,000 into this state -- and most political reporters I talked to say they think that Bradley felt he had an opportunity for a real surprise there. That seems to be -- that seems to be wasted now.

WOODRUFF: But he used those words again today and said maybe we'll pull off a surprise.

But let me -- let's switch now to Steve Forbes quickly. Charlie, there's so much going on in that campaign. How well does he need to do? What if he doesn't?

COOK: Steve Forbes is so improved over four years ago as a candidate. His campaign operation is amazing. If you are for Steve Forbes, they're going to drag you out to the polling places.

Now if he can get 25 or 30 percent, that's pretty good. If he can break 30, that's terrific for him. But it's -- he's got a great organization.

ROTHENBERG: Look, he has a terrific campaign manager. Jim Tobin is doing a good job here. The problem is the guy's been spending all his time in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's way behind in New Hampshire. If he doesn't do well in Iowa -- I think he needs to come close to Governor Bush. If he only gets 25, 28 even 30 percent, and Bush wins by 10, I don't know where he can go.

I'm sure in his own mind he'll stay in the race. He has the money to spend.

COOK: If this thing's 40/30 -- 40, Bush, 30, Forbes -- that's terrific for Forbes.

ROTHENBERG: Yes, I think they'll be happy with that. They deserve to be happy with that. But isn't that his high watermark? If he's at 30 here, what does he do in New Hampshire and then right after that?

WOODRUFF: And now he's predicting in New Hampshire that Bush will come in third.

COOK: But if it's...

WOODRUFF: Or he's saying -- he's quoting his campaign manager.

COOK: But if it's 40 Bush, 30 McCain (sic), what the story will be is Bush is very, very vulnerable.

ROTHENBERG: Bush is surprisingly weak...

COOK: Yes.

ROTHENBERG: ... but the question is, is the beneficiary Forbes or is the beneficiary McCain?

COOK: Good point.

ROTHENBERG: And then there's the question of Alan Keyes. There is now talk about Alan Keyes coming in third. And if he comes in third with 10 or 12 percent, do we read some dramatic move into that? I think some people will. I probably won't.


WOODRUFF: Well, believe it or not, in about 24 hours we'll be able to put some real numbers on what is now still expectations.

COOK: Was that shameless enough?

WOODRUFF: That was very shameless and we loved it. Charles Cook, Stu Rothenberg, thank you both -- Bernie. SHAW: Thank you, Judy.

Forty/30, 12 percent, hmm.

There is much more to come on this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next...


BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They gather in the local diners and beauty shops, talking with neighbors they have known all their lives, but one night every four years the routine changes.


SHAW: Bob Franken on the residents of the people here in the Hawkeye State as they prepare to launch the 2000 election.

Plus, battling for the conservative vote, the candidates who have set their sights on less than number one.

And later...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Growth now is in the cities, high-tech, insurance, banking, but who are they, these Iowans?


SHAW: Bruce Morton's insight on the residents of the Hawkeye State, and our Bill Schneider examines their motivation.


SHAW: Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, and as cold as it here, not a sane person on the street. Here in Iowa, campaign officials are keeping tabs on the weather, mindful that a sudden turn for the worst could throw a monkey wrench into their best laid plans for tomorrow tonight's caucuses. That is why Democratic presidential front-runner Al Gore urges supporters this evening to turn out and not take anything for granted. The Republican leader George W. Bush has a similar mantra on the trail.

CNN's Bob Franken has more on the lead up to these caucuses and what will happen when voters get there


FRANKEN (voice-over): Sunday in Rural Iowa still looks like Sunday. People can be found in church worshipping. The rest of the week they gather in the local diners and beauty shops, talking with neighbors they've known all their lives. But one night, every four years, the routine changes. At exactly 7:00 p.m. local time, those who want to, will trek through the snow to their caucus meetings in schools, grange halls, restaurants, wherever party leaders decide, and begin the national process of selecting a president.

(on camera): In today's high-tech, fast-moving world, these Iowa caucuses conjure up descriptive words like quaint, old fashioned. But the stakes are high, and for all the candidates in each of the 2,131 precincts, the first challenge is to make sure their supporters to show up.

PAULA EATON, HEALTH CARE WORKER: I know we've been getting a lot of information in the mail, and I've had a lot of phone calls, and even had a message from Al Gore's campaign on our answering machine when I got home from work.

FRANKEN (voice-over): The rules of the game are complicated.

BRADLEY: But then the mystery of the Iowa caucus is a little bit like the mystery of the college of cardinals, right? You don't quite know how that decision is made.

FRANKEN: Actually, it depends on whether it's the Democrats or the GOP. Republicans choose their candidate by secret ballot at their caucuses. On the Democratic side, voters split into candidate preference groups. In most precincts, any candidate who gets less than 15 percent is eliminated, and his voters are persuaded to join another group.

Delegates to a county convention are awarded based on the size of each group. Then, based on that number, the party figures out how many state convention delegates each candidate has won. The candidate estimated to have the most state delegates is the night's winner. There can be a lot of yelling.

MATT JOHNSON, FARMER: Yes, there's a lot of that, there's a whole lot of that, which I don't like. I mean, you don't have to put somebody else down to make yourself look better.

FRANKEN: But within an hour or two, all the shouting is over, and life in Iowa returns to normal, for another four years.

Bob Franken, CNN, State Center, Iowa.


WOODRUFF: Now some thoughts on those caucus-goers, a relative few with unusual clout. And let's turn back to our Jeff Greenfield.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, Judy.

It is a commonplace by now that Iowa, while a fine state with fine, civic-minded citizens, doesn't really represent the United States, it's too small, too rural, too white. What is less recognized is that these caucuses don't even represent the people of Iowa. The decisions made tomorrow night will be made by a sliver of a fraction of Americans. Now, Iowans proudly note that their caucuses bring people not simply to vote, but to debate and to discuss.

That's true, but the need to commit a few hours of your time, rather than a few minutes in a voting booth, means that relatively few Iowans bother. Look at what happened the last time. There are about 580,000 registered Republicans in Iowa. How many showed up for the '96 caucuses? Ninety-six-thousand-four-hundred-and-fifty-one, that is a turnout of under 20 percent. Now by contrast, look at New Hampshire. In the 1996 GOP primary, more than 200,000 voters, that's more than 70 percent of registered Republicans, turned out to vote.

And there's another huge difference here. While both Iowa and New Hampshire allow independents to participate, the Iowa party caucuses obviously hold little appeal to independents, because much of what happens involves party business. Now the fact is there are more independents in Iowa than either Republicans or Democrats. But, by one estimate, fewer than 2,000 of them will bother to turn out for the respective party caucuses.

And finally, the commitment of time also rewards quite often those candidates whose support is most intense, which is why Reverend Pat Robertson in 1988 and Pat Buchanan in 1996 did so much better than the polls indicated. What later primaries showed, however, is that their support, while intense, was highly limited even among Republicans.

Small as these turnouts are, they could well be even smaller this year, with no issues dominating the landscape, and with a relatively contented electorate. And that highlights the ironic fact that the caucus process, celebrated by Iowans as a splendid civics exercise, is one that the overwhelming majority of Iowa voters won't even bother to attend.

WOODRUFF: And yet, Jeff, for the sake of argument those who do go have paid a lot of attention to the process and are representing their considered judgment of watching these candidates over a period of weeks and months.

GREENFIELD: That is a decent argument. But the fact is when we look at all the effort and all the time and all the money poured into this state, I think the caucuses are a fine way for people to get involved with their party and their state. What I question is whether that is a sensible way of figuring out who is going to be a serious presidential candidate, which is one reason why no one in a non- incumbent year -- no non-incumbent who ever won the Iowa caucuses has ever been elected president.

WOODRUFF: And we'll keep on remembering that and see whether it holds true this year.

GREENFIELD: I'll keep on reminding you.

WOODRUFF: You'll keep on reminding us, Jeff Greenfield.

And up -- Bernie. SHAW: Well, let's just continue that thought there. Question: What really motivates those who do show up on caucus night? Bill Schneider has the answer.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, what kind of people go out on a cold winter night to spend a couple of hours declaring their political allegiance in front of friends and neighbors and God and everybody? Well, here is a hint. It's not your average voters.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It's your true believers, Republicans...

BRANDON HAMIL, REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST: People that actually turn out to participate in the caucuses are ones that are fairly motivated.

SCHNEIDER: ... and Democrats.

TOM HENDERSON, CO-CHMN., POLK CO. DEMOCRATS: Folks from the Democratic Party who participate in the caucuses tend to be the activists.

SCHNEIDER: Studies show that Iowa caucus-goers tend to be much wealthier and better educated than the average voter and they have strong political views.

Four years ago, 80 percent of Republican caucus-goers called themselves conservatives. Democratic caucus-goers were not quite as one sided. about half said they were liberals. But that's lot more liberal than most voters or even most Democrats. Candidates who appeal to true believers do well in Iowa.


PAT ROBERTSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As they come with me to the caucuses...


SCHNEIDER: In 1988, Pat Robertson came in second in Iowa, ahead of Vice President George Bush.


BUCHANAN SUPPORTERS: Go, Pat go! Go, Pat go! Go, Pat go!


SCHNEIDER: In 1996, Pat Buchanan came in a strong second to Bob Dole in Iowa.

If conservatives are going to give George W. Bush any trouble this year, it's going to happen in Iowa.

But it may not happen, because what motivates conservatives this year is winning in November.

BRANDON HAMIL, REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST: What I'm noticing, just across the board, that delectability is a very important issue.

SCHNEIDER: Among Democrats, some true believers are high-minded issue activists. The Iowa caucuses created Jimmy Carter in 1976. They gave Gary Hart a big boost in 1984. This year, issue activists are going for Bill Bradley.

TOM HENDERSTON, CO-CHAIRMAN, POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATS: They see him as more of a visionary, someone who is more focused on the issue.

SCHNEIDER: Other true believers are party activists, looking for a candidate who will fight for them, like Walter Mondale in 1984.


WALTER MONDALE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we want a president who will fight for the average American family. That's what we want.


SCHNEIDER: And Dick Gephardt who won the Iowa caucuses in 1988.




SCHNEIDER: This year, the party activists have their fighter.

GORE: I want to fight for you. That's why I am here.


SCHNEIDER: Voting is choosing. Participating in a caucus is a lot more than that. It's coming out to say what you truly believe: not in a secret ballot but publicly. Ordinary voters don't do that. True believers do -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, Bill, we're true coverers of whatever they do tomorrow night. We'll be here.

SCHNEIDER: Truly believe it.

SHAW: Thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And up next on INSIDE POLITICS, where will Iowa's decision leave the other Republican hopefuls? And do the caucuses have any real impact outside Iowa? We'll talk with Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" and Cynthia Tucker of the "Atlanta Constitution."


WOODRUFF: As we look at a night-lit Iowa state capitol, there is a secondary contest here in Iowa tomorrow: the battle for the support of the social conservatives. And it is being fought by the candidates with little hope of toppling George W. Bush.

Gary Bauer reached out to supporters at a Des Moines church today, where Bush also made an appearance. Bauer urged Christians to vote on principle, not on what he calls selfish issues like taxes.

Bauer appeared at the same Family, Faith and Freedom rally as Alan Keyes last night. Keyes is advertising heavily in the state and has seen an increase in his support, although the Bauer campaign claims that their candidate has better turnout organization.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch runs last in the polls, and he says that he will seriously consider dropping out if he does not finish fourth or better tomorrow night.

SHAW: Joining us now with some insight on this caucus eve, Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times," and with perspective from outside Iowa, Cynthia Tucker of the "Atlanta Constitution."

Cynthia, I must ask you, in the South, is there World Series-like interest in what's happening here in Iowa?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, "ATLANTA CONSTITUTION": I'm afraid not, Bernie, by no means. Voters here have not yet begun to pay attention. We've got the Super Bowl coming in, in Atlanta next weekend, and that's probably got more attention than the Iowa caucus.

But people do -- the Iowa caucuses certainly send a signal that there is a presidential election going on. People here begin to pay attention. And after all, the Republicans at least will be moving South pretty soon, in early February. They'll come to South Carolina. So we'll be paying a lot more attention then.

SHAW: Ron, are the candidates on the ground here -- you've been watching them for weeks and weeks -- are they generating the kind of interest that they think will help them as they go into New Hampshire, and then as Cynthia said, South Carolina and on, Michigan, et cetera?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, Bernie, you have to play these things one at a time. That's the way that the calendar sets it up. But as you have talked about earlier on the show, I mean the history of it is that Iowa at best can nudge New Hampshire: certainly if we have a very surprising result on either side, a much closer finish between Steve Forbes and George W. Bush, than we expect, a much closer finish between Bill Bradley and Al Gore. That might have some effect. But by and large, New Hampshire tends a separate race.

The challenge for the folks chasing the front-runners will be what will give them momentum going into there. I think that is more of an issue than whether people will be scrutinizing in New Hampshire and beyond the exact number of the vote here. SHAW: Well, Ron, and also, Cynthia, why is it that people so discount what happens here? After all, this is the first stop on the long road.

BROWNSTEIN: Bernie, I don't think they necessarily discount that; I just don't think that any single state is totally dependent on what happens in another, especially in New Hampshire: And the reason why is because candidates who spend enough time there, they've put enough money on television, that they have developed sort of an independent identity and independent relationship with the voters.

When you get past New Hampshire and you move on to what becomes very quickly a national primary, with the exception of South Carolina on the Republican side, then I think the domino effect becomes more important, because there isn't time. People in California have not had a year of personal attention and media from Bill Bradley and Al Gore the way they have in New Hampshire. So I think the results down the line may be more affected, but New Hampshire is kind of an island unto itself.

SHAW: Yes. Cynthia.

TUCKER: Well, Bernie, I think that the important thing to look for in places like Iowa and New Hampshire for us in the Southeast is the issues that will travel. Ethanol, for example, which candidates pay a lot of attention to in Iowa will not travel, but abortion, for example, will.

There are lots of social conservatives in the South. They will be listening very carefully. I suspect that we will see not only George Bush, but Steve Forbes certainly has enough money to make it on here. And we will probably have Alan Keyes as well, because he has enough passion to remain in the race, so we will see those candidates. And they will bring their anti-abortion stances, which are very important to a lot of social conservatives.


TUCKER: Social Security will continue to travel. So will education. So those are the issues I think we'll be keeping an eye on.

BROWNSTEIN: Bernie, I have to say one other quick point, is that the electorates on both sides in Iowa and New Hampshire are very different. Religious conservatives are very important in Iowa. That gives a benefit to a candidate like Forbes, the way he's positioning himself. They're not nearly as important in New Hampshire. Likewise in New Hampshire, unions aren't nearly as important as they are here on the Democratic side. Independents can vote on both sides. The electorates are so different that it really rewards different kinds of candidates.

SHAW: But Ron, on the points that Cynthia just made on the so- called "traveling issues," is McCain making points so far on the trail, especially here in Iowa but also in New Hampshire, as we just saw -- he's campaigning there tonight -- is McCain making points on taxes and abortion, issues that will travel into the Palmetto State?

BROWNSTEIN: Taxes so far I think he is, certainly in Iowa and New Hampshire. We've polled at the "L.A. Times" in both places this week, and in each state Republican voters, including Bush voters, prefer the McCain approach toward a smaller tax cut and using most of the surplus for Social Security and Medicare.

I think the problem -- the interesting test will be as you move toward the South and the Midwest, where you may have somewhat more conservative Republican electorates, can he win that argument, especially when Bush is also going after him on campaign finance reform. There is a clear ideological distinction of who is supporting the two of them. McCain is much stronger in the center than on the right. That's fine in New Hampshire. South Carolina, Michigan, places like that, it gets a little more dicey.

SHAW: But Cynthia, in the closing seconds, George Bush still appears to be quite strong, much stronger than McCain in the South, does he not?

TUCKER: Absolutely. Bush early on lined up the support of many heavyweight Republicans throughout the South. After all, the heavyweight Republicans in Congress, and including in the Senate, are supporting George W. Bush. He has the organization. He's got the money to go the distance here.

It's very hard to see John McCain going beyond South Carolina, quite frankly.

SHAW: Cynthia Tucker, "Atlanta Constitution, Ron Brownstein, "Los Angeles Times," thanks so much for joining us.

And when we return, Bruce Morton's reflections as the caucuses draw near, hour by hour.


WOODRUFF: Iowa caucuses have been a pivotal event in the presidential contest for many years now. And our Bruce Morton has covered his share of them.

SHAW: Indeed he has, Judy. Now, Bruce's reflections on this state, the people here and their role in American politics


MORTON (voice-over): What's it like? Used to be a farm state, but more agribusiness now. These guys are somebody's hobby. Growth now is in the cities, high tech, insurance, banking, but who are they, these Iowans?

DIXIE RUBLE, NATIVE IOWAN: I think they have a wonderful work ethic. I think if they have a job to do, they like to finish it.

MORTON: For sure, if you ask for a flat-top in Ray's Barbershop in Indianola, a flat-top is what you get. LARRY CRAWFORD, NATIVE IOWAN: They're good down-home folks, and gosh, just good-hearted people normally.

MORTON: It's not Manhattan, can't always get sprinkles on your doughnut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I want sprinkles on it.

MORTON: Sometimes, just a Coke can help make your day. Of course, it might help if a stranger took your picture.

KATHI HORNADAY, NATIVE IOWAN: I think they're open and caring people, energetic. I think caring probably is most important.

MORTON: They care about education, the state is full of fine, small liberal arts colleges. This is Simpson in Indianola. It's a small town turning into a suburb of Des Moines -- look at the houses going up.

ROBIN LUNKLEY, NATIVE IOWAN: Hard-working, independent, they think for themselves.

MORTON: In politics too, they're doing work on the capitol, but both parties have run mostly clean campaigns for years. Iowans don't much like negative advertising either. Lots of churches, this service at the Airport Baptist Church just outside Des Moines, was non- political, but Christian Conservatives are an important force in Republican politics, though they've had organizational problems lately.

REBECCA MATTESON, NATIVE IOWAN: I think there's a work ethic that we have. We have a real neighbor ethic. We like to -- most people that I have met like to do as they say and say as they do.

MORTON: It's not typical of the country, of course, a little older, a lot whiter. But in more than a quarter of a century of visits, I've found them intelligent and kind to strangers. We could go further, looking for a place for the campaign to start, and do worse.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Indianola, Iowa.


WOODRUFF: It's the kind of place we all want to stay in.

SHAW: Good people here.

WOODRUFF: That is right.

Well, our colleague Jeff Greenfield joins us once again with the final thought.

GREENFIELD: Critical one. Since we invest everything with politics these days, I want to make this quick point. Next Sunday, just two days before the New Hampshire primary, the Tennessee Titans from the home state of Al Gore, will be playing the St. Louis Rams from the home state of Bill Bradley. Anyone who finds political significance in what happens needs urgent immediate medical professional help.

WOODRUFF: We won't take issue with you, at least I won't. I don't know about Bernie.

SHAW: Nor will I.

That's all for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. CNN, of course, will provide you full coverage of the Iowa caucuses starting tomorrow morning. And we will see you again tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern with a special 90-minute INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: And CNN's "CROSSFIRE" will be live from here in Des Moines at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. And Bernie and I and our colleague Jeff Greenfield will be here at 8:00 p.m. to report on the caucus results throughout the evening.

SHAW: And, of course, as always, you can go online all the time at CNN's

I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "CNN & TIME" is next.


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