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Inside Politics

McCain Rallies Troops in South Carolina; Bush Discusses Saturday's Match-Up; GOP Candidates Invest Heavily in South Carolina Air War

Aired February 17, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win on Saturday and we're not afraid of losing my dear friends, but I think we're going to win.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: John McCain rallies his troops. But does his political future hinge on South Carolina?



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The real test of the man in this case is whether I can endure the bad moments as well as the good. And I'm assuring America I can.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush discusses campaigning, supporters and Saturday's match-up with our own Candy Crowley.


WOODRUFF: The final ad push: We'll find out how much the GOP hopefuls have invested in the Palmetto State's ad war.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

Locked in what appears to be a very tight race, George W. Bush and John McCain today predicted victory in South Carolina on Saturday. With just two days left before the primary, the rival campaigns are imploring supporters to vote. McCain, in particular, is urging another massive turnout such as the one which propelled him to victory in New Hampshire.

We begin with CNN's John King in Columbia. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain is talking turnout and of turning the Republican race for president on its head.

MCCAIN: If we win here, I don't see how we can really be stopped.

KING: Saturday's vote is fast approaching, so the focus is on signing up supporters and getting them to the polls.

MCCAIN: Two and a half weeks ago we were 20 points behind. Now they say that it's a dead heat.

KING: Fellow veterans are a key ingredient of the Arizona senator's recipe for success here.

MCCAIN: All my old dear warriors.

KING: So is the argument that McCain is the Republican best- positioned to take back the White House.

MCCAIN: We've had enough of the truth-twisting politics of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and it's time for a change.

KING: Rallies have replaced town halls as the campaign shifts from courting the voters to turning them out.

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If it's raining where you go, if it's cold where you go...

KING: At every stop, the senator accuses Governor Bush of running negative ads to turn off voters, especially Democrats and independents who like McCain and are eligible to vote in Saturday's open primary. McCain then tries to use the tone of the campaign as a turnout tool.

MCCAIN: The people of South Carolina deserve only positive views, no negative campaignings and we -- campaigning, and we should reject it. We should reject it.

KING: More local television interviews are part of the get out the vote strategy. And with no time to waste, the usual gab fest in the back of the McCain bus is cut short, as the candidate chats up radio talk show hosts.

MCCAIN: It's been a great experience.

KING: McCain's big New Hampshire win reshaped the GOP race and made the Arizona senator a serious contender.

MCCAIN: We now are up in Washington state in a poll. We're up in Michigan in a poll. We've closed to single digits in the state of New York -- that's without campaigning there.

KING: But McCain knows his standing elsewhere could be affected by Saturday's results here.


KING: Now there are some 12,000 McCain volunteers signed up, we're told, at five offices across the state. The senator says he could survive a narrow defeat. But his aides are predicting a narrow victory. And if that happens here on Saturday, a candidate for months who has been called the underdog in this race will wake up on Saturday morning with a different label: the front-runner -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, I'm curious, do state officials have a general idea of turnout?

KING: They do not. The big question here, as we saw in New Hampshire, will Democrats and independents -- this is an open primary -- will Democrats and independents turn out this time? There is not a history of that here in South Carolina. One indicator, though, both campaigns telling us absentee ballots are way up this time around. They take that as a sign of voter interest in this very heated Republican voter primary -- Bernie.

SHAW: John King, Columbia, South Carolina, thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, for Governor Bush, the stakes are plain in South Carolina. A loss would make it two defeats to McCain in the races both have contested. Traveling on his bus today through eastern South Carolina, Bush spoke with our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. And she joins us now live from Litchfield -- Candy.


The governor has been going up and down this seaboard here today rallying his base, trying to reach out to independents. We did have a chance to talk to him on his bus today. My first question to him really began with the thought that he has many times mentioned that he thought he was going to win New Hampshire.


CROWLEY: What did you miss?

BUSH: I missed the turnout. I missed who was actually going to show up to vote. And I'm, you know, here battling for the vote here in South Carolina. I've got a little different approach than I did. I was probably a little too standoffish from the crowds. And now in South Carolina, I'm right in the middle of the crowds. I'm taking a lot more questions, a little less pontification.

CROWLEY: When you were up in New Hampshire, you've also said, I smiled a lot. I took it. I'm not going to do that anymore. You haven't done that here. Which are you more comfortable with? Which style?

BUSH: Well, I've been comfortable with defending my integrity and my honor. And when a man calls me Bill Clinton, when he questions my trustworthiness and equates it to Bill Clinton, it doesn't take much for me to stand up and defend myself.

I'm a -- you know, I can be both a feisty personality -- it's the mother in me -- and I can also, you know, set a high tone. And I'm doing both in this campaign.

CROWLEY: Did you know going into Bob Jones University that it would become a flashpoint of sorts or a mini flashpoint?

BUSH: Not really. I didn't. That wasn't on my mine. What was on my mind was here is 6,000 people giving me a chance to say, this is my agenda. Follow me. This is the agenda that I think is important for America. And afterwards, I was asked about some of the controversial policies -- I've been asked about them a lot. And I don't hesitate when I say, you know, I support people from all walks of life being able to date.

CROWLEY: When you -- you know what it's become. I mean, the code here is that you went there, that it is a racist university. I mean, that's the -- that's really sort of the undercurrent here.

BUSH: But the thing, Candy, is this. And this is what the facts are. Ronald Reagan went there, President Bush went there, Jim Hodges, the current governor, who's a Democrat, has gone there. People have gone there to try to find people to lead. And that's what I did.

CROWLEY: I know you believe you'll win South Carolina.

BUSH: Yes, I do. The question is, do you?

CROWLEY: I -- I have no idea, and I freely state that.

If you go out of here with a loss, does it not become harder for you to raise money? We had a money story yesterday. Do you not, then, need to hold onto some of the folks that are out there, some of, you know, at least one has fallen in California and switched to the...

BUSH: You know something?

CROWLEY: Is there something more you need to do there?

BUSH: You know something about life? You learn who your friends are in this line of work about as easily as any other line of work. You can find -- when times get tough, you really find out who your friends are. And I find out who my friends are. But I'm going to win in South Carolina. You mark my words. You can mark it down on that pad of paper.

CROWLEY: You said -- when we were up in Kennebunkport on your first swing, you know, if I lose, I can always go fishing and...

BUSH: Yes.

CROWLEY: You still feel that way? I mean, do you still have that...

BUSH: I'm a competitor. And don't get me wrong. I mean, I don't want anybody to misinterpret what I'm saying. I'm working my heart out and I'm going to win. I'm going to win. You know, but sometimes life don't work out necessarily the way you want it to. And I understand that. And I accept my fate. And I accept -- I don't -- you know, I didn't like losing in New Hampshire. But it didn't take me long to dust the snows off my suit and to get out there and get down to Delaware and win that primary. It didn't take me long to get here in South Carolina. And I learned some good lessons. And I think they're going to pay off on Election Day.

But I'm in this thing as long as I can -- as long as I'm running. And I'm going to be running for a long time. And there's going to be some fine moments, some exciting moments, and there's going to be not so exciting moments. And the real test of the man in this case is whether or not I can endure the bad moments as well as the good. And I'm showing America I can.


CROWLEY: Overall, Judy, I would say that the tone here with Bush is very upbeat, but he is working very hard. No overconfidence. In fact, I can tell you that they're not particularly comfortable. Despite a few polls that shows that he has a little bit of an edge, it's not a big enough edge for George Bush.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley on the campaign trail today with Governor George W. Bush.

Well, having to face a competitive John McCain has forced Mr. Bush to part with millions of dollars in South Carolina, and some analysts say courting that state's conservative voters has pushed him farther right.

Let's bring in now our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, how have the primaries affected the outlook for Republican candidates in the fall, in the general election?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, the news he has not been good for Governor Bush. A month ago, before Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush was running 19 points ahead of Al Gore among likely voters nationwide. Since then, Bush's lead has been slipping. He was just 10 points ahead a few days after he lost New Hampshire. Now it's even closer, just a five-point margin over Al Gore. And that is well within the margin of error.

Right now, a presidential race between Bush and Gore looks like a toss-up. Bush's loss in New Hampshire was very damaging. He's slipped seven points in one month, while Gore has gained seven on the heels of his victory in New Hampshire.

WOODRUFF: So at this point can Bush claim to be more electable than McCain?

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely not. Let's look at how McCain does against Al Gore. McCain leads Gore by 16, triple the Bush margin over Gore and well beyond the poll's margin of error. But electability I don't think will become an issue unless polls start showing Bush losing to Gore while McCain wins. And it hasn't gotten that bad for Bush.

WOODRUFF: How has -- can you tell? -- how has the South Carolina campaign affected Bush nationally?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it has affected him a lot, since he's been forced to move to the right in South Carolina in order to shore up his conservative support.

And look at what that's done to Bush among liberal and moderate voters across the country. Ten days ago, Gore led Bush among liberal and moderate voters by 18 points. Now that lead has widened to 30 points. Bush's visit to Bob Jones University and his harder line on abortion and other issues may be turning those voters off.

Now here's the evidence that clinches the point: Bush has gained support at the same time among conservatives. Ten days ago, Bush led Gore among conservatives by about two to one. Now Bush's lead among conservatives has increased to more than three to one. Conservatives are rallying to Bush, but he's turning off other voters, including crucial moderates. Bush's move to the right may win him South Carolina on Saturday, but it could prove to be a costly victory -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thank you -- Bernie.

SHAW: Joining us now with his "Reporter's Notebook," Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times."

Bob, what are you hearing about the Republican race in South Carolina?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": well I just spent three days in South Carolina, I'm going back there again tonight, Bernie, and there's no question there's tremendous excitement about that race. Both candidates are getting terrific crowds. There was just an awful lot of -- there was an awful lot of excitement at the rallies, at the meetings.

But it's a fascinating situation that I haven't ever quite seen the likes of, and it amounts to this: that the Republicans are about -- the real Republicans down there are about two to one in favor of Bush, and the independents and Democrats, who can vote in that primary, are more than two to one in favor of McCain. So nobody knows. Nobody knows -- don't talk about surges by somebody -- how that's going to come out.

SHAW: Bob, since his New Hampshire victory, John McCain has made gains in other states as well. We have a new poll released today in Virginia which shows Bush still well ahead. But McCain has cut his lead by more than one-half in recent weeks. How is the Bush reacting in states such as Virginia and California?

NOVAK: This is fascinating. I had an interview with the Bush high command in December, and they said even if they lose in New Hampshire it's no problem. They've got all these firewalls constructed. Well, they really didn't calculate on how difficult the states are where Democrats are permitted to vote in the so-called "firewall states." Now in Virginia, anybody can vote in the Republican primary. You've just got to walk in. And this is now very much in play. No firewall.

California is even worse. The senior Republican in California, Bill Jones, secretary of state, senior elective officeholder, has switched from Bush to McCain. And the reason he made the switch is that they are -- the Republican Party in California is in very bad shape. They need somebody at the top of the ticket, and they're beginning to think that maybe McCain is better at the top of the ticket. So California's in play.

SHAW: And before you leave us, anything new on the endorsement front?

NOVAK: The McCain people are playing the endorsement game big time. They just got Dan Evans. He may not be a household world but he's the former governor of Washington. He helps in that state.

But in Virginia, which is suddenly in play, this is a big state, and the McCain people are going after a congressman named Virgil Goode. Virgil Goode was a Democrat for many years in the legislature and in Congress, very conservative. He switched to an independent who caucuses with the Republicans. That is just the kind of image that the McCain people want. He's much more conservative than John McCain, but they are going after him big time to get him to endorse McCain before the Virginia primary. I wouldn't be surprised if the Bush people tried too. Virgil Goode is being courted like he's never been courted in his life.

SHAW: High symbolism there. OK, thank you, Bob Novak.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, Al Gore's Southern firewall and Bill Bradley's Northeastern bus tour after the break.


WOODRUFF: With almost three weeks to go until their next head- to-head contest, Democrats Al Gore and Bill Bradley both are spending time among their core supporters. Campaigning today in his native South, Gore is being endorsed by Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove.

CNN's Chris Black is with the vice president, who started early this morning in New Orleans.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore won the blessing of labor months ago, but the vice president is taking nothing for granted, privately reviewing campaign strategy with labor leaders in New Orleans, greeting shipyard workers at dawn.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, Mike, thanks for coming out. How are you doing? BLACK: Gore is keeping one wary eye on Bill Bradley, who is struggling to catch up. But the other is looking ahead, locking up the delegates required to win the Democratic nomination and laying the groundwork for a victory in November.

For this Democrat, his native South constitutes a geographic firewall.

CHRIS LEHANE, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: As you know, Al Gore is a son of the new South. He did extraordinarily well here in 1988, I think winning seven or eight states. The South is certainly a bedrock of his candidacy.

BLACK: The vice president just swung through four Southern states in two days: North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. African-Americans represent a critical constituency in those states.

HASTINGS WYMAN, SOUTHERN POLITICAL REPORT: And they are about a third of the party's constituency and their turnout is essential. They're very important in the general election.

BLACK: This week, a CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll shows Gore with an enormous lead over Bradley in the South, 67 to 23 percent.

The South also represents a motherlode of convention delegates. In a single week in March, 761 Democratic delegates are at stake in nine Southern or border states.

Gore campaign officials also see targets of opportunity in the South in a general election, should he be the party's nominee. They include Gore's native Tennessee, plus Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky.

(on camera): Gore's advisers say the vice president is following a national not a regional strategy. But he's hoping to win the Democratic Party nomination in a way that will help him win the general election in November: by solidifying his support among key Democrats in his native South.

Chris Black, CNN, New Orleans.


SHAW: And for Bill Bradley, his current tour of New England recalls a certain aspect of his basketball days: defense. His problem: While he's defending his favorite turf, it is offense Bradley needs to close the gap with Gore.

With the Bradley campaign, CNN's Pat Neal.


PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Bradley started early to get Boston commuters on board. His campaign is picking up the pace with a barnstorming bus tour through four northeastern states, with primaries March 7. It's crunch time. Nationally, the latest polls show Bradley trailing Vice President Al Gore by a wide margin.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a normal bump in New Hampshire, lasts about two weeks. Now we're in the third week, and we're moving toward the second week to go.

NEAL: The Northeast was once thought to be Bradley's strongest region. But since his loss to Gore in the New Hampshire primary, Bradley has seen his support evaporating here, so Bradley's is playing to his strengths. He's remembered as a former New York Knick and New Jersey senator in towns like Providence, Rhode Island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's smart, he's got experience, and he speaks from his heart. And whereas with Gore, you get the feeling that there's always this equivocating. He's always calculating how it's going to sound.

NEAL: Bradley continues taking aim at his differences with Gore. In Dorchester, Massachusetts, the topic is gun control. Bradley wants to register and license all handguns.

BRADLEY: His response to my proposal that we register and license all handguns was, it's impractical, it's too hard to do. Well, I guess that's just a different view of what leadership is in America.

NEAL: Over the airwaves, it's abortion, coming on the heels of a major endorsement of Gore by the abortion rights group NARAL. Bradley has released a new ad alluding to Gore's inconsistent voting record.


BRADLEY: This is the kind of issue you can't straddle. You can't be on both sides. You have to decide which side you're on: Are you anti-choice, or are you pro-choice? And I decided a long time ago that I'm pro-choice.


NEAL: And this former pro ballplayer says there's time to win voters and to show the resilience he says he learned on the court when the going gets tough.

(on camera): Another stop on Bradley's bus tour is here in New Haven, Connecticut. Polls in this state show the race tighter, about 10 points apart. Bradley hopes to close that gap and work on tightening the race in other Northeastern states.

NEAL: Pat Neal, CNN, New Haven, Connecticut.


WOODRUFF: And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: There's much more ahead here on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Coming up: a Lone Star view of George W. Bush. We'll talk with Molly Ivins about the Texas governor and his home state record.

And later:

SHAW: The other George Bush talks about his son, and our own political analysts.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. At the Capitol, a House committee wants the Pentagon to stop vaccinating the military against anthrax. It called the inoculations an "overreaction to the threat of biological warfare." The lawmakers suggest the vaccine isn't save. However, the Pentagon says it has not plans to halt the vaccination program.


REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: The consequences are that we have some men and women who are getting sick. Now most have some adverse reaction, but it's minimal, some have a stronger one and some have systemic reactions. And what we are seeing -- and it's tragic -- we are seeing some of our military in the active force being court martialed because they simply refuse to take this vaccine.

DR. SUE BAILEY, ASST. SECY. OF DEFENSE: The Department of Defense is very confident in the Anthrax program we have undertaken. We have a very safe and effective vaccine against a very biologic agent that we know to be in the hands of many of our adversaries and could be used against our forces. That would imply were they not vaccinated and exposed to this agent, they would die a horrible death.


WOODRUFF: More than a million and a half members of the military have been vaccinated against anthrax. Six-hundred and twenty experienced adverse reactions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new type of ear-infection vaccine named Prevnar. The vaccine protects children from a type of bacteria that leads to pneumococcal disease, the most common cause of ear infections in children. Researchers say it may be -- quote -- "the most important public health advance for children this decade."

SHAW: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan is warning inflation remains a threat. His remarks suggests to Wall Street that interest rates will continue to inch up this year until the economy slows a bit. The Dow fell more than 46 points in afternoon trading, but the Nasdaq shrugged off the warning and rose more than 100. All three people aboard a DC-8 cargo plane that crashed in California are dead, when the plane plunged into an auction yard of junked cars Wednesday night, leaving a trail of burning debris. Authorities say the pilot reported the cargo shifted shortly after takeoff. He turned the plane around for an emergency landing, but, obviously, did not make it.

WOODRUFF: Professional football player Ray Lewis insists he is innocent in the deaths of two men in Atlanta, Georgia. Lewis is in Baltimore, free on a million-dollar bail. He called a news conference this afternoon.


RAY LEWIS, MURDER SUSPECT: I am innocent. But of course I've been ordered by the court that I can't speak about the case, so I won't. All I can do is sit back and wait for justice to take it's course and wait for everything else to take it's natural nature course. But I am looking forward to the day when all the facts come out, that everything is out in front, and my name is cleared.


WOODRUFF: Police say that Lewis took part in the beating of the men who were later stabbed to death.

SHAW: In a moment, Judy and I will be back with more of INSIDE POLITICS.


SHAW: With his son tied down by a certain pressing matter in South Carolina, former President George Bush took to the campaign trail today, appearing in Michigan. Bush, the elder, cited his son's record of winning elections in the family's home state of Texas.


GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He won the first election 53-47, beating Ann Richards, which was a real feat, and then he was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote, Democrats and independents coming in because they saw the record. Some of this gets obscured these days. Some of it gets obscured by charge and counter charge and the editorials and by assaults not from just opponents, but in the press.


SHAW: Calling Michigan critically important, Bush said a win in that state's primary next Tuesday would guarantee the Republican nomination for his son.

WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now is a reporter who over the years has kept a close eye on Bush the father and Bush the son. Plainly put, she has been at times a thorn in the side of both. She is Molly Ivins, columnist for the "Fort Worth Star-Telegram," and author of the recent book titled "Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush."

Molly Ivins, good to have you back on the program.

MOLLY IVINS, AUTHOR, "SHRUB": I thank you again, and I'm delighted to be here.

WOODRUFF: This book is very much about George W. Bush's record as governor, but I want to first ask you about his record as a businessman. You say at one point -- this is page 21 -- "George W. arrived in Midland in 1977, set up a Shell company, lost a congressional election, restarted building the company, put on hold loss more than $2,000,000 of other people's money and left Midland with $847,000 in his pocket."


WOODRUFF: Are you saying he is not a good businessman?

IVINS: Yes. Well, I mean, the reality is pretty grim. I mean, George W. is not going to tell you he was a big success in the oil business, and there are really some questions, too. The second business venture, as you know, was the Texas Rangers baseball team, and he started there with a nice pool of investment and got a bunch of daddy's friends to invest a lot of money and came out with a 2,400 percent profit, so now let's balance this with oil (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

WOODRUFF: But you also point out that the oil business was tougher when the son was in it than when the father was?

IVINS: You bet. The 1980s were not good years in the oil business in Texas, they really were not, and a whole lot of people besides George W. lost their shirts and other people's money as well.

WOODRUFF: Molly Ivins, the governor goes around -- he is constantly saying that he is the governor of a big state.


WOODRUFF: Now you point out that, that is -- leaves a misimpression. What do you mean?

IVINS: Well, I mean, seriously, if you are counting on being governor of Texas as your record for executive experience you are probably in a little bit of trouble because this is of all the weak governor states, we are the weakest, and being governor of Texas is pretty much a part-time job. Now, let's not say that it's not an important job, it is for a lot of different reasons, but the real power, both constitutionally and by Senate rules is with the lieutenant governor. I mean, if you've been a pretty good governor of Texas, you are qualified to be lieutenant governor.

WOODRUFF: You are tough on him in this book, one thing you do give him credit for, though, is in the area of education.

IVINS: I do, and what drives me crazy, and everybody else too, is that he is claiming credit -- he is due credit, he really is due credit on education, but not what he's claiming credit for. I actually heard him stand up and say, "and I stood up to the education establishment of my state and reformed the public schools."

I hate to tell you this, but that was done in 1982, 1983, when W. was losing money in their oil business. It was done by Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, Comptroller Bob Bullock, Governor Mark White, you know, so I put them in their order of importance, and the inevitable H. Ross Perot. That was when we had that terrible fight over saying that if you weren't passing all your school courses you couldn't play football. Judy, you would have thought we were trying to pass the Communist Manifesto.

WOODRUFF: You write at some length, Molly Ivins, about his role in, as you put it, trying to take children off of federal state health insurance programs and deny them other options. How do you sum up that whole episode?

IVINS: I think there is really -- in the record, and again, all we are doing is record. I'm not -- we are not doing psychology, sex, drugs, any of that. This is just the public record. In the public record you can find a whole lot to question about the compassionate part of compassionate conservatism, and trying to knock 200,000 poor kids off federal health insurance is just one of them.

WOODRUFF: The environment, he says the air in the state of Texas is cleaner today than when he became governor.

IVINS: Absolutely demonstratively untrue, and for a record that's really not that bad. I mean, I wouldn't tell you that George Bush has been a terrible governor, or is a terrible person, or anything like that. But I will tell you the single worst part of his record is in the environment, and that's where I say the governor of Texas doesn't have much power, but that is where you can directly lay and attribute to George Bush's significant worsening of the environment in our state -- you can't.

WOODRUFF: Campaign finance reform, just this week came out with what he said was restating his position on reforming campaign finance?

IVINS: Well, why the whole world isn't bursting in raucous laughter over -- when George W. came out and announcing he was the big champion campaign finance reform is beyond me. That's one of the funniest claims I ever heard in my life. Of course he's not in favor of campaign finance reform. Sitting there so indignant saying, "and my opponent has taken lobbyist and special interest money." The guy is sitting on $70,000,000 worth of lobbyist, special interest money, and he has no more interest in reforming this system than he does in growing wings and flying.

WOODRUFF: You do give him credit for being an effective politician, for being somebody who does politics well?

IVINS: Well, I think he has real -- yes -- real political skills, and I don't say this as a put down. I mean, for heaven's sakes, the world needs real political skills. I mean, you can't keep a quarrelsome family together without them. And W. I think has -- really does have good skills, and I particularly give him credit for keeping together those disparate parts of the Republican Party there, the Christian right, your economic conservatives, and very shrewd wooing the Hispanic vote in Texas. It may seem like a no brainer, but there have -- where some other Republicans have not been smart enough to do that.

WOODRUFF: Based on what you saw in Texas, or what you're seeing in Texas -- he's still the governor -- what kind of president would he be?

IVINS: Boy, if you think his daddy has trouble with the vision thing, wait until you meet this one. It is amazing to me, I don't think W. wants to do very much, I mean, I have never seen any great deep desire except for tort reform, cutting down on people's ability to sue corporations, that I thought he was really passionate about, but from a Republican point of view that's a good thing, because many people think that not doing much with government is exactly what you want, so there you are.

WOODRUFF: And "Shrub"?

IVINS: Well, "Shrub" for the little Bush. In Texas, of course when you have daddy and son with the same name, you know, sort of big George, little George, big Bush, little Bush -- little Bush, "Shrub."

WOODRUFF: And you point out in here early on that the family doesn't like the fact that you called him that, that others...

IVINS: What he really doesn't like is being called Junior.

WOODRUFF: Molly Ivins, thank you very much for joining us.

IVINS: It was my pleasure, thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you.

The Minnesota Governor Jesse Venture has never been one for doing things the usual way. Now, Ventura is getting rid of his 1990 Porsche online. The governor is auctioning this dark blue car on the eBay Web site. The bidding ends on Sunday. At last check, there were more than 50 bids and the price was more than $40,000. Ventura says he's getting rid of the car because he has a new one.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, a look at the Republican efforts to reach South Carolina voters.

Plus, the battle for Hispanic votes in Arizona.


SHAW: A look at the Republican efforts to reach South Carolina voters.

Plus: the battle for Hispanic votes in Arizona.


WOODRUFF: Now for a look at the GOP ad wars in South Carolina, we turn to David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, first of all, how much are these Republican candidates spending in the Palmetto State?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Judy, it's as you'd expect. There's a tremendous amount of spending that we've seen in the last six weeks; that's since January 1.

If you look at George W. Bush -- we took a look at Greenville in Charlotte, which is just 40 percent of the state; that's $900,000 he's spent in the last six weeks alone. John McCain is coming in at $800,000 in those markets, and even Alan Keyes has spent $3,500. So you know, what's interesting to point out here is that all we're talking about is television advertising, spending in those numbers. We're not including radio. We're not including local cable. And we're not even including the new medium the Internet. So there is a tremendous amount of spending in these last six weeks.

WOODRUFF: Well, that sounds like a lot of money, but what does it really mean to the average television viewer in South Carolina?

PEELER: Well, the best way to take a look at that, Judy, is to take a look at, you know, a day in the life of a television viewer,if you will. What you see in South Carolina, in Greenville, is that on the 15th of February, 144 ads for either George Bush or John McCain ran that day. That's $25,000 per candidate, but what's interesting is really the story behind the numbers. They're both spending the same amount of money, but they have different strategies and different objectives.

What we see in George W. Bush's campaign is that day, he ran one commercial only, and that was the famous "he called me Clinton commercial," had a little bit of a negative tone. His objective is to kind of keep the independents and the Democrats home.

Where John McCain, on the other hand, ran about three different commercials, more positive: one about he could beat Al Gore; the other one about military pay.

So the tactics that the individuals campaigns are using behind the media dollars are very interesting.

WOODRUFF: All right, so David Peeler. That's South Carolina. Now let's take us a few days beyond that to the contest next Tuesday in Michigan and Arizona? How much are the Republicans spending there?

PEELER: Well, you hit the nail on the head. The interesting thing is it comes two days after. So this campaign, from a media standpoint, has been good going on for quite some time. George Bush has spent over $2.3 million in the state. John McCain got in a little later, but he's spent $1.3 million. So both of those candidates are very heavily investing in that state, and we expect that to accelerate between now and Tuesday.

The other state that comes up on Tuesday is Arizona. Another interesting story: George Bush 1.2 million; John McCain continues to skip the state. It's obviously his home state. He feels very comfortable in that state.

In fact, we've just in the last couple of days picked up some spending in some of the states that come up after next Tuesday. We've seen John McCain and George Bush starting to air some campaign ads in Los Angeles. So this is going to shift to the Western states pretty quickly.

WOODRUFF: David, before we go, one question about the Democrats. Michael Jordan, as we now know, has endorsed Bill Bradley in a television ad. How is the Bradley campaign using that ad?

PEELER: Well, they put a lot of money behind it. Interesting, they spent almost $900,000 behind this individual commercial. They've run it in about 14 markets. My guess is, and this is a sense only, that you know, since New Hampshire, Bill Bradley has been kind of knocked off the front page. I think this is an attempt to inject, you know, a little bit of the celebrity, star quality back into the campaign, get people like myself talking about it, so that we can bring Bill Bradley back into the campaign.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, David Peeler, thanks once again. Always great having you on.

PEELER: Thanks, Judy. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

SHAW: Three days after Saturday's vote in South Carolina, two other states hold Republican primaries. Now we've talked at length about delegate-rich Michigan, perhaps less so about the vote in Arizona.

While favorite son John McCain has built a lead in the polls, Governor Bush is making a play for a potent segment of Arizona voters.

CNN's Bill Delaney is in Tucson.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we go, ready or not.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another hardcore bingo face-off at the El Rio community center in Tucson, Arizona. Among some of this state's most courted voters, Hispanics, seniors who can currently see Texas Governor George W. Bush battling hard on TV in his rival John McCain's home state, in advance of Arizona's primary this Tuesday.

And a new day for politicians paying attention to Hispanics, the country's fastest growing ethnic group, with more than seven million registered voters. Reina Ortiz reflects the older generation, in how, for example, she feels about Arizona favorite son Senator John McCain.

DELANEY (on camera): How about Senator McCain?

REINA ORTIZ: Senator McCain? He's a Republican. No, I don't want him. I am a Democrat. I'm going for Democrats.

DELANEY (voice-over): McCain is not campaigning nor even advertising in his home state, though he will return there on the eve of the Tuesday primary, but McCain already knows, like Bush, Hispanics party loyalty is changing. George W. Bush won 49 percent of the Latino vote in the 1998 Texas governor's race, while McCain won 55 percent of Hispanics in his Senate race the same year.

(on camera): Aware of the emerging independent streak among Hispanic voters, the man with perhaps the best political antenna in the country, President Clinton, this week he hosted a White House event touting the accomplishments of the Clinton/Gore administration for Hispanics.

(voice-over): While also blasting Senate Republicans for, he said, holding up nominations of three Hispanics to the federal bench.

Jose Ibarra, a Tucson city councilman who's been an adviser to Clinton says the president's attention is warranted. He cautions both parties, no one owns the Hispanic vote and that slick TV, even a smattering of accented Spanish, doesn't cut it.

JOSE IBARRA, TUCSON CITY COUNCIL: Some politicians, in my opinion, are going to separate themselves by literally going in the barrio, walking door to door in the community, and really showing that, look, that I am more than just a 60-second spot that says, I will do this for you.

DELANEY: Daisy Exposito-Ulla, a New York advertising executive, agrees, while predicting in a tight race, Latinos will be a crucial swing vote next fall in at least seven states.

DAISY EXPOSITO-ULLA, BRAVO GROUP: I think that our issues are very much the issues of America, you know, education, employment, economic empowerment.

DELANEY: Margarita Jaime of Tucson is eligible to vote this year for the first time, caring less if a politician speaks Spanish, caring a lot that a close friend was shot to death a week ago.

MARGARITA JAIME, STUDENT: It just matters on what they have to say, you know, how they run their selves, kind of what they really want to be and how they want to get there.

DELANEY: In an election year in which so many voters like Hispanics seem less respecting of party and more interested in a candidate they can respect.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Tucson, Arizona. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Still ahead, we'll find out which candidate the voters find most appealing.


SHAW: Across the country, the candidates are focusing on issues and campaign messages.

WOODRUFF: But a new Gallup Poll shows how voters rank the candidates on some other factors. Voters apparently think Republicans are funnier. When asked which candidate has the best sense of humor, George W. Bush finished first, with John McCain and Al Gore tied for second.

SHAW: But Gore and Bush tied as the candidate voters would most like to have dinner with. Men were more likely to say John McCain, but women, they favored the vice president.

WOODRUFF: And when asked the all-important question, which candidate is the best looking, Gore came in 19 points ahead of the Texas governor, for what it's worth.

SHAW: Earlier we heard former president George Bush's comments on the campaign trail for his son, but the elder Bush also had a few words about the performance of our own political analysts after Tuesday night's debate.


PRESIDENT BUSH: I was listening to this guy on CNN, Jeff Greenfield was the name, listening to him, I mean, I thought off to a reasonably good start, and Barbara stormed in and made me turn it off, So I turned it off. I said, well, it's just a good thing, because Bill Schneider will be on there and he's usually critical. A few minutes later we get a call, about half an hour later from a friend of mine in Washington, he said, did you hear what Bill Schneider said? Gosh, he was praising your son for how well he did in the debate. I said, I always liked Schneider and I'm very...



SHAW: Tomorrow, our Bruce Morton will take a closer look at the former president on the campaign trail for his son in Michigan.

WOODRUFF: And we wish Bill were here to take his bows.

SHAW: Well, absolutely. That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you again tomorrow, when Schneider will have his political play of the week.

WOODRUFF: And we hope President Bush is watching.

And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.


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