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Inside Politics

Bush and McCain Charge Each Other With Making Defamatory Phone Calls; Bradley Attacks Gore's Liberal Credentials

Aired February 22, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. McCain is making phone calls in this state accusing me of being an anti- Catholic bigot, and I don't appreciate it.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Phone messages targeting George W. Bush and others slamming John McCain add to the sparks on this pivotal GOP primary day.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything is do or die in this campaign. That's why we're having so much fun. Every day is do or die.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: McCain urges voters in Arizona and Michigan to give him the wins he wants -- and probably needs -- to keep his campaign competitive.



BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what you've seen is an elaborate, what I call, Gore dance.

ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that's not a plan: That's a magic wand, and it doesn't work that way.


WOODRUFF: After that often bitter debate, has anything changed in the Democratic presidential race?

ANNOUNCER: This is INSIDE POLITICS. From CNN Center in Atlanta, Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us. Heading into today's primaries in Michigan and Arizona practically every public dig delivered by George W. Bush or John McCain has been scrutinized by the news media and, in turn, by voters.

WOODRUFF: But now there are new charges and countercharges to consider stemming from a stealth campaign of sorts that was thrust into the spotlight today.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports from Michigan.


MCCAIN: Every day is do or die. We're a high wire act, an insurgency campaign, and we've had a great, great ride, and we're proud of the positive campaign we have been running.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Somewhere in Michigan, between the platforms and the private phone lines, there is a disconnect. This is a recorded call from Christian conservative Pat Robertson about John McCain.


REV. PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN COALITION: A man who choose as his national campaign chairman a vicious bigot who wrote that conservative Christians in politics are antiabortion zealots, homophobes and would- be censors.


CROWLEY: And this one is about George Bush, described as a Catholic voter alert.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several weeks ago, Governor Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti- Catholic statements, including calling the pope the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church a satanic cult.


CROWLEY: It is the subterranean campaign that surfaces when somebody gets a negative phone call about a candidate he supports, and it is passed along to the people on the platform.

BUSH: This is a campaign ad paid for by John McCain. It's about as low as it gets.

CROWLEY: Both candidates are sure the other is to blame. But McCain denies he is behind the Catholic-alert call, and Bush says Robertson is on his own.

BUSH: We have nothing to do with that. Mr. Robertson made these calls on his money. CROWLEY: It's hard to tell how many of these phone calls go out, only that they do. No one knows how much damage they do and whether they are convincing to those who receive the calls or merely make them angry. It's like trying to grab a handful of smoke: You know it is there, but it's hard to get a grip on it. You only know that what you see is not all there is.


CROWLEY: These sorts of calls are the kinds of things that tend to run through any campaign with very few fingerprints. And while it may be true that neither of the candidates are directly responsible, the question is whether they're totally blameless -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, stand by, we're going to return to you in just a minute. But now, let's focus on what John McCain hopes to do and has to do in today's primaries. He is waiting for the results in his home state of Arizona.

CNN's John King is there, too.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Count one vote for John McCain, a man with a lot riding on tonight's tallies in Michigan and Arizona.

MCCAIN: We're going to win both, this one a little bit bigger than the other one, and we're very upbeat and very happy, and looking forward to going to Washington State tomorrow and continuing the campaign.

KING: McCain delighted in being the first candidate with the chance to vote in this year's primaries.

MCCAIN: That's kind of a unique experience for me. For a guy who finished fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, that's not too shabby.

KING: But his joy will be short-lived if he can't get back in the win column, and many think victory at home in Arizona won't be enough to throw George W. Bush off course.

SCOTT REED, 1996 DOLE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Michigan needs to be a win for John McCain tonight. He needs to get back with the momentum, back on top of this campaign, out of the tactics of the campaign, and more into his real message of reforming the government.

KING: McCain says he's in the race at least through March 7, and took pains to make the case that a close loss in Michigan wouldn't crush his candidacy.

MCCAIN: We were 30 points behind three weeks ago. We are very happy with the traction that we've gained in this campaign.

KING: Bush made an early push in Arizona and won the endorsement of the state's GOP governor.

MCCAIN: I can't tell you how glad we are to be home.

KING: But home-state pride kicked in after McCain's big New Hampshire win, and at a homecoming rally in Tucson Monday night, the senator poked fun at his rival's largess.

MCCAIN: We want to thank them for contributing about $3 million into our economy.

KING: Washington State is McCain's must-win target next Tuesday, and the underdog will stay in the race past March 7 only if he has a few big state wins to brag about.

MCCAIN: Every day is do or die. We are a high-wire act, an insurgency campaign, and we've had a great, great ride, and we're proud of the positive campaign we've been running.


KING: Top McCain aides say only a giant Bush win in Michigan tonight would get them talking about getting out of the race, and they don't expect that to happen. But in the McCain camp, they do know they need on the night on March 7 to be able to count victories in California and New York. If they don't have a win streak then, they say, McCain will need to get out of the race, because the campaign then shifts South, to states like Texas and Florida, two states with governors named Bush -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John, I want you to stand by, too. Let's talk more about this Republican race and bring Candy back in. She's rejoining us now from Michigan.

Candy, you were talking about the negative tone of this campaign the last couple of days in Michigan. How much does the Bush campaign think that this kind of tenor, this tenor of the campaign may affect the turnout -- or the outcome, rather?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think they're probably more concerned about the turnout than the outcome, not that they're not concerned about the outcome, but as far as the phone calls are concerned, generally, when a campaign turns negative or when there is negativity out there from either campaign, it tends to kind of turn off voters, and that would sort of depress the voter turnout.

But you heard the governor, I mean, it was the sort of thing he doesn't appreciate. Obviously, this kind of notion that Bush is anti- Catholic is something that could hurt him here, but again, they don't know how widespread these phone calls are, so it's difficult for them to gauge how damaging they might be.

WOODRUFF: And again, they say no knowledge of the Pat Robertson call, even though Ralph Reed who is a former very close colleague of Robertson's, supporting Bush.

CROWLEY: Well, you know, Bush, as you heard him, again say, look, you know, we didn't ask him for it, we didn't know about them. Clearly, they know about them now. But they neither directed them nor coordinated them with Pat Robertson.

WOODRUFF: John King, to you. The McCain people, whatever happens today in Michigan, and I gather they're pretty confident about Arizona, what are they thinking in terms of these next few states coming along?

KING: Well, like in Michigan, Governor Bush has the establishment support as the campaign goes on. They know John McCain simply needs to win. For the underdog to take away the nomination from the front-runner, he needs to win big states. Michigan would be one, if they could pull that out tonight. They expect if they lose there the margin will be close enough that they can rationalize going on. Then they know they must win Washington State next Tuesday as a springboard into March 7. California, New York, Ohio among the big states. They know John McCain has to get on a winning streak, because after that, the campaign heads back South to Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, all Southern states, all state's squarely in Bush's corner.

Right now, they need to rattle Bush and beat him if the McCain campaign is to go on.

WOODRUFF: And, Candy, if that's what the McCain people are thinking, what would the Bush people counter that with?

CROWLEY: Well, the Bush people would counter with a very strong drive in California to begin with. They would like to -- you know, there's a sort of a different way of how California votes. They're counting on the Republicans to give them the delegates they need. They'll move on. They have said all along, you know, that he was down here in Michigan. It's now a dead heat. Never have I heard them say, well, gee, if we don't do this, then we're out of it. Again, he has the finances, he has the support to continue on, and he thinks the longer this race goes on between him and John McCain, the more the states and the odds favor the governor.

WOODRUFF: And just quickly, John King, the McCain people think they're in what kind of shape in California?

KING: Well right now, they acknowledge they're trailing. They do think if they can win in Washington State and certainly if they can win in Michigan tonight that they'll have sort of a post-New Hampshire momentum, a lot of focus on how the underdog once again knocked off Governor Bush. That's a big if of course. They need wins. It's been three weeks now since Senator McCain won in New Hampshire. He got a big bounce out of that, but the glow is starting to fade. They know they need to get back in the win column. Looking at the finances, they actually think they're not at such a disadvantage anymore. Their guess is that Governor Bush has about $14 million on hand right now, and they have just under $10 million. So again, they're not so uncompetitive when it comes to money, but they do need wins, and they would like to win more than Arizona tonight to get that started.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, joining us from Arizona, Candy Crowley in Michigan. Thank you both, and we'll see a lot of you both a little later tonight. Thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: John just mentioned finances. Where there are primaries, there are political ads. For a look at the Republican ad spending, we turn to David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting in New York.


SHAW: Hi there.

David, how much have George W. Bush and John McCain spent in Michigan and Arizona?

PEELER: Well, Bernie, we took a look at the last two weeks, and as you recall, the last two weeks most of the candidates spent their time in South Carolina, but the ad wars were in effect in both Michigan and Arizona. In the last two weeks alone, George W. Bush has spent over a million dollars in the state of Michigan, and John McCain has been keeping up with him with over $800,000.

As we turn to Arizona, John McCain's home state, you'll see that George W. Bush is spending some significant money in that state also, while John McCain assumes that he's pretty much a shoo-in in his home state and he hasn't spent any money during this entire campaign in the home state of Arizona.

SHAW: Now, in the lead-up to the South Carolina primary, McCain ran a response ad accusing Bush's ads of "twisting the truth like Clinton." Bush then responded with an ad of his own, and McCain eventually pulled his ad in South Carolina. David, how much did the GOP hopefuls spend on these two ads?

PEELER: Bernie, this is the interesting story behind this individual ad. What you see here is the ability of advertising to kind of craft the message that the campaign needs to go out with. John McCain spent a little over $20,000 on that ad in the Greenville market.

George Bush, on the other hand, had to respond both in South Carolina and five other states against that ad, because it was picked up by the media, with over $800,000 in spending to counter it. So -- and that's almost twice the rate that he spent in South Carolina alone. So, you know, this is what we talk about when we talk about the advertising effecting some of the campaign strategy.

SHAW: Now, let's take a look at the upcoming primaries. Where are the candidates focusing their ad spending?

PEELER: Well, if you take a look at what comes up on the 29th, we'll quickly turn to Virginia. It's -- obviously, it's a Republican- only primary. Virginia -- George W. Bush has spent a million dollars. John McCain has kind of ceded that to him, spending almost $200,000 there in the last two weeks. Going on to Washington, here we see where John McCain is making it a stand for him, 654 for Bush, 526 -- pretty much equal spending in that state.

Turning to California, you'll see that in California both Bush and McCain are out spending early in that state, even John McCain spending a little more. I think you heard from John King's comment that they think they need to make it a race in California. So they're out spending heavily in those states that come up on the 29th and beyond that, March 7.

SHAW: OK, David Peeler, thanks very much.

PEELER: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: Welcome.

Well, as far as we can tell, Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes has not spent much, if anything, on ads in Michigan and Arizona. He appeared at an inner-city Christian school in Detroit this morning. Heading into today's primaries, Alan Keyes was a distant third in polls in both states.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: Does John McCain need to retool his image? We're going to talk to Jeff Greenfield about how the Arizona senator could reconnect with Republican voters.


SHAW: Joining us now from Washington to talk more about the challenges facing John McCain, our CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield fresh from the Apollo Theater.


SHAW: But on the Republican side, Jeff, where does the McCain campaign stand right now?

GREENFIELD: Well, the pre-election polls show that Michigan is probably going to be very tight, but even if he wins he faces a very tough challenge, because in most of the big states, as John King indicated, California and New York, particularly on March 7, only Republicans can vote, when it comes to counting delegates.

Now, McCain has been urging, as he puts it, independents, Democrats, vegetarians and Trotskyites to come out and vote, but he can't do that in the upcoming primaries. He has to appeal to Republicans and so far Republicans have been voting heavily for Bush.

SHAW: So how can McCain do this, how can he appeal?

GREENFIELD: Well, the first appeal is tactical. He can argue that he's more likely to win. The last CNN poll that we had released I guess yesterday show that right now John McCain is leading Al Gore by 24 points. George Bush is leading Gore by only 5 points. So he can certainly make the argument that it's a paradox.

Most Republicans believe that Bush is the stronger candidate. Our polls would suggest otherwise. But that's not enough, because most voters do not vote tactically, they vote for the person they want to see to win, so there's more.

SHAW: Do you think that will be enough or does McCain...

GREENFIELD: No, no, no, no. I think he has to make an appeal to Republicans beyond, I can win, and I -- there's one possibility I want to show you. Back in 1996, John McCain gave a very powerful speech when he nominated Bob Dole for president. I want to show you a look at a small excerpt. Let's roll that please.


MCCAIN: In America, we celebrate the virtues of the quiet hero, the modest man who does his duty without complaint or expectation of praise, the man who listens closely for the call of his country, and when she calls, he answers without reservation, not for fame or reward, but for love. He loves his country.


GREENFIELD: Now, apart from the fact that McCain could be talking about himself there, you see him not at a rally, not wearing a college sweatshirt, but looking -- if I may use the wretched cliche, Bernie -- very presidential at the rostrum of the Republican nominating convention enunciated deeply held Republican beliefs. You can almost see that as an ad, you know, the -- isn't this the kind of leader Republicans deserve and America wants?

So, in the next couple of weeks I think the McCain campaign has to put the senator in forums where he is talking to Republicans about why what he believes echo and resonate with core conservative Republican values, even campaign finance reform. He has to link to a Republican victory and Republican values, because -- this may sound so obvious as to be ludicrous -- but right now, McCain is where he is having not won Republican votes in any primary, including New Hampshire's, and unless he starts winning Republican votes, he can't win. So he -- that's the strategy I think that he has to figure out.

SHAW: Interesting and also very complex.

GREENFIELD: Well, I think it's complex, but it's really simple. If he doesn't get Republican votes, he isn't going to win the Republican nomination.

SHAW: That's simple.


SHAW: Jeff Greenfield, and I know we'll see you again when we begin our coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern of the Michigan/Arizona primaries. Plus, you'll be doing the "LARRY KING LIVE" show tonight, so we'll see lots of you later on. Thanks a lot.

GREENFIELD: See you later, Bernie.


And when Judy and I return: Did a South Carolina win put a little extra spring in George Bush's step? Our Bill Schneider on the possibility of a Palmetto bounce.


WOODRUFF: George W. Bush came into today's primaries fresh off Saturday's win in South Carolina. But how much is that worth? Joining us now, our Bill Schneider. Bill, nationally, are we seeing a South Carolina bounce for Bush?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Nope. We are not. Before South Carolina, Bush was running 5 points ahead of Al Gore. That's within the margin of error, too close to call. After South Carolina, look at what happened -- nothing. Bush is still running 5 points ahead of Gore. No bounce for Bush.

Before losing South Carolina big time, McCain was running 16 points ahead of Gore. Now how's McCain doing now? Twenty-four points ahead of Gore! The man loses South Carolina and what happens? He gets the bounce. Notice, Gore's support drops 10 points, 10 points, if McCain rather than Bush is the GOP nominee.

WOODRUFF: Now what makes this costly for Mr. Bush?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is a costly victory for Bush, because he got beat up pretty badly, and he had to move to the right to win South Carolina.

Bush's favorability rating among voters nationwide has been slipping for some time and it has continued to slip after South Carolina. Not especially among Republicans, where Bush has held up pretty well.

But look at what has happened to Bush among independents, who are crucial swing voters. Down 10 points after South Carolina. That is real damage. And among Democrats, down 6 points.

WOODRUFF: So does that help McCain at all?

SCHNEIDER: Not for the GOP nomination. McCain has lost a lot of popularity among Republicans. At the same time, he has gained support from independents and from Democrats. McCain is getting stronger and stronger among independents and Democrats, while Bush is getting weaker and weaker.

At the same time, Bush is consolidating his support among Republicans while McCain is turning Republicans off. McCain's campaign is not shoring up support in his own party for McCain, but it's doing some real damage to Bush outside the party -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Really fascinating numbers. Bill Schneider, thanks.


WOODRUFF: And we'll be seeing a lot of you later.

And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

SHAW: Coming up, the Democratic hopefuls take off their kid gloves.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Bradley entered to the theme from "Rocky" to deliver a flurry of verbal right hooks and upper cuts to Al Gore.


SHAW: Jeanne Meserve on Bradley's new line of attack.


WOODRUFF: Al Gore fights back. Can he use his opponent's jabs to his advantage?

And later...

SHAW: Will turnout be the deciding factor in who wins today's primaries? We're going to ask Bob Novak and Ron Brownstein.


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

Hospitals and doctors would have to report all medical mistakes and mix-ups if a White House plan is approved by Congress. This proposal is not popular among insurers and physicians. However, President Clinton is saying admitting mistakes will not lead to more malpractice lawsuits.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We also want to replace what some call a culture of silence with a culture of safety, an environment that encourages others to talk about errors, what caused them and how to stop them in the first place. So we'll support legislation that protects provider and patient confidentiality, but that does not undermine individual rights to remedies when they have in fact been harmed.


SHAW: A report issued last year estimates medical mishaps kill as many as 98,000 Americans each year -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Closing arguments were heard today in the murder trial against four New York City police officers. Defense attorneys argued the suspects had no choice but to shoot immigrant Amadou Diallo last year, because he was acting suspiciously. Diallo was shot 19 times. The officers say they thought the victim was holding a gun. That gun turned out to be a wallet.

SHAW: A new judge has been assigned to the case over 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. United States District Judge Michael Moore was selected today to replace the original judge, who suffered a stroke this weekend. Outside the hearing, Elian's Miami relatives were met by a group of Cuban exiles, demanding that Elian be allowed to stay in this country.

WOODRUFF: In just about an hour from now, the Space Shuttle Endeavor will attempt to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Stiff winds prevented the six astronauts from ending their mission on time today. Stay with CNN. We plan to carry the shuttle landing live at 6:22 Eastern Time.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, after last night's bitter Democratic debate, what do the candidates do for an encore?


WOODRUFF: On this GOP primary day, it would be difficult for the Democratic presidential candidates to upstage their Republican counterparts. For that matter, Al Gore and Bill Bradley might have had a hard time matching their own rock 'em sock 'em debate performances in New York last night. Gore isn't even trying. He's taking a day off from the campaign trail, while Bradley pressed on with his toughened attacks against the vice president.

We have two reports now on the Democratic race after the debate, beginning with CNN's Jeanne Meserve in New York.


MESERVE (voice-over): Bill Bradley entered to the theme from "Rocky" to deliver a flurry of verbal right hooks and uppercuts to Al Gore.

BRADLEY: The motto of the next president has to be more than just "more of the same."

MESERVE: Amplifying the theme he sounded in Monday's debate, Bradley characterized Gore's congressional record as conservative. While representing Tennessee, Bradley said Gore had been anti-choice, a reliable vote for the National Rifle Association, a dependable vote for the tobacco companies, and a Johnny come lately to education, health care, racial reconciliation and campaign finance reform.

BRADLEY: Now he claims that these issues are priorities for him. But priorities come from conviction, not from polls, and his actions have been far different from his words.

MESERVE: So what does he believe, asked Bradley, calling into question not just Gore's consistency, but his trustworthiness. Bradley said that he, on the other hand, had been steadfast in supporting the same fundamental Democratic issues.

BRADLEY: You know who I am by what I believe and by what I've done. I don't cut my convictions to get elected. I don't change my beliefs to whatever the polls say and whatever is convenient.

MESERVE: But Bradley did acknowledge what could be construed as a shortcoming.

BRADLEY: I'm not a flashy man. I never have been, either on the floor of Madison Square Garden or in the U.S. Senate.

MESERVE: Or, one might add, on the campaign trail. But in the coming weeks, as Bradley tries to reignite his sputtering campaign, expect him to argue that strength of conviction is what matters.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, New York.



CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Bradley is launching a stinging critique of Al Gore's liberal credentials. Gore's response: Bradley is divisive and a pawn of the Republican Party.

BRADLEY: Me calling attention to the fact that he was a conservative Democrat before he was Bill Clinton's vice president is simply truth telling.

GORE: The problem is these attacks don't solve any problems. They do divide us as Democrats. They distract us from the real enemy, the right-wing, extremist, Confederate Flag-waving Republicans who are trying to roll back the progress that we have made.

MESERVE: But Bradley continues to unearth new examples, charging Gore voting to protect the tax-exempt status of schools with discrimination policies, like Bob Jones University. Gore says the 1981 issue concerned racial quotas for private and parochial schools. The support of key Democrats and constituency groups for Gore also belies Bradley's assertion he is the true Democrat.

GORE: I am the one who have been endorsed by the leading pro- choice group. I have been endorsed by organized labor. I have been endorsed by Senator Ted Kennedy and by virtually the entire Congressional Black Caucus. Now do you think that they all have such poor judgment, Senator Bradley?

BLACK: All of which feeds Bradley's frustrations.

BRADLEY: They don't know your record as a conservative Democrat.

BLACK: In response, Al Gore's Web site is introducing a new feature, the Bradley Information Bureau, questioning the accuracy of Bradley's charges and statements, such as his pledge he would not spend his time attacking Gore on old congressional votes.

Observers see Bradley's crusade as the true liberal in the race as a bit out of step with the times.

GEOFF GARIN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: The election is not about what happened in 1988, not about what happened in 1978; it's about what's going to happen in 2001 and 2002 and where these candidates stand now and what they're going to do to make people's lives better.

BLACK (on camera): Well, campaign officials are privately relieved by what they see as the tactical and strategic errors of the Bradley campaign. At the same time, they note that only 69 of the more than 4,300 Democratic Convention delegates have been chosen, so they say they're taking nothing for granted.

Chris Black, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Now let's talk more about the Democratic race with two "Time" magazine correspondents who asked questions during last night's Apollo Theater debate. Joining us from Washington, Karen Tumulty, who is covering the Gore campaign, and from New York, Tamala Edwards, who is covering the Bradley campaign.

It seems that since New Hampshire, the Democrats pulled off the campaign trail and stayed at a roadside spot for weeks and weeks, but last night, they were in the spotlight on the stage of the Apollo Theater. Has the Democratic race changed, beginning with you, Karen?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, I think, Bernie, after last night in your tour as moderator, if you ever get tired of this news anchor gig, you have the credentials now to become a referee in the World Wrestling Federation.

SHAW: Well, I could have used a pair of brass knuckles and a fire extinguisher last night, too.

TUMULTY: This was -- six weeks, eight weeks ago, this was a campaign about health care, this was a campaign about education; it was a campaign about very big ideas. And as Geoff Garin pointed out, it's come down to, you know, reading off a congressional record from 1978. It's a very different campaign than it was as recently as New Hampshire, which is beginning to feel like it was a year ago, not just a few weeks ago.

SHAW: Tamala.

TAMALA EDWARDS, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes, actually I have to agree with Karen's point. And what's interesting here -- I watched Bill Bradley give a speech this morning, in which he very concisely, succinctly and sharply tried to take on the vice president, and the feeling in the room was that that was the sort of speech that had he given it two months ago and set up that he was going to call Al Gore in question this way, it might have been one thing, but coming this late, I think it's really hard for people to get a feel that this is really going to go anywhere.

SHAW: Let's be very frank. What, in your judgment, is going on with Bill Bradley? Last night, he was a tiger on the stage, and as you just pointed out, he was a different kind of candidate before. Does he not want to try to win his party's nomination?

EDWARDS: He absolutely wants to win his party's nomination, and he realized that what he was doing before was essentially standing there while he got knocked down time and time again, but the problem is he's always boxed himself in by doing what he's doing. It goes right back to Karen's point. A few, you know, weeks ago, this was really about ideas, and it causes people to stand back and say, Bill, you said you didn't want to do the old politics; what's going on?

SHAW: Karen?

TUMULTY: But he's learned the hard way, after the vice president went aggressive earlier, that the oldest -- one of the oldest rules of politics is that if you're not on offense, you're on defense.

SHAW: And what's curious, of course, is that this man is a former professional NBA player.

Well, we know that Michigan and Arizona will give their denouements tonight when we report the primary results, focused again by the national media on McCain and Bush.

What is this going to do to the Democrat's fight?

TUMULTY: That's right. If somehow John McCain pulls it out tonight in Michigan and continues the focus on this interesting Republican race, it really sucked up a lot of the oxygen and a lot of the attention that Bill Bradley needs, and he's going to have to start shouting even louder to make his message heard.

EDWARDS: You know, Bernie, Bradley -- the strategy there is that they want to try to make the next contest, which is Washington State on February 29, a battleground state, but if McCain wins tonight, everybody's going to be looking at Virginia and the Republican primary there. I just don't -- I agree with Karen. It will be like life on Mars: We'll know whether or not you can exist without oxygen.

SHAW: Well, I don't want to sound like a rapper, but what's up with Bradley's popularity, or lack thereof, among African Americans? For example, was he handicapped on that stage last night?

TUMULTY: Well, it was interesting, Tam asked him that question, and his answer was "Beats me." But the fact is that the vice president has -- even before this race began, has had black voter support pretty well locked up, largely because of his service over the last seven years at the side of Bill Clinton, an enormously popular figure in the black community. But in addition to that, he has worked very hard to shore up support among black mayors, among black opinion leaders. And so while Bill Bradley has some very high-profile endorsements from the likes of Michael Jordan and Spike Lee, the vice president has the sorts of supports who actually bring voters to the poll.

EDWARDS: It's been pointed out that there's probably not any major black organization, an even middle-sized black organization, across the country that the vice president hasn't made a point of speaking to in the last few years.

And when you look at, you know, the man that he's number two to, President Clinton. Clinton has something that's almost unprecedented: a 91 percent approval rating among African Americans. That's almost unheard of. So I think a case really has to be made in that community, why do we shake this guy off when actually for the first time ever in the joint center poll, African Americans are more optimistic about the future than white Americans.

SHAW: So when Bill Bradley has spent as much time as he has in past weeks, and certainly last night during the debate, talking about alleged -- what's the phrase? The advantages of having a white skin.

EDWARDS: White skin privilege.

SHAW: This has no resonance?

EDWARDS: You know, Bernie, what's interesting in watching him is that I do think that Bill Bradley in incredibly sincere in both the issues that he's picked, the way he feels about this issue and the way that he would take on these issues as president.

SHAW: Is he naive?

EDWARDS: I don't that's it's naive. You know, perhaps some might say that he didn't package himself very well. The difference is that he's running against a guy who can say, in seven years here's my record. There are some things that people can pick at, but there are also a lot of things that people are very happy with.

The question is whether this segment of the population was ever going to be available to any other candidate besides Bill Clinton's vice president. And I think increasingly it's looking like it wouldn't.

SHAW: Last question, yes or no -- I hate to do that to you -- but if on the morning of March 8th it is shown that Bradley did not do well in those big primaries, is it "Taps"?

EDWARDS: I guess this one starts with me, since I'm the one who lives with the man. You know, Bernie, he is better organized than any other insurgent candidate we've ever seen. There is a side of Bill Bradley that is incredibly pragmatic, that I think if he was losing that badly he's say no. But then there might be a part of him that says, I've got the money and the ability to go at least until the 14th. Let's stick it out.

TUMULTY: And at that point, he starts doing damage to the ultimate Democratic nominee, and he may understand that it is no longer about Bill Bradley anymore and he may decide to step aside.

SHAW: They're from "TIME" magazine, Karen Tumulty and Tamala Edwards.

EDWARDS: Thanks.

SHAW: Thanks so much. Good working with you last night.

EDWARDS: Thanks, Bernie. SHAW: Quite welcome. And when Judy and I return, the Republican match-up and why tonight's results may determine the next battleground state. Judy will talk with Bob Novak and Ron Brownstein.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now on this Republican primary day, from Detroit, Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times," and from Washington, Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Gentlemen, if George Bush had to win South Carolina, does John McCain have to win Michigan, Bob?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Yes, I think in all practicality he does. His people talk about if he loses this election, going straight to California and making the big pitch there to get back. But it's a very uphill climb if he -- if he loses Michigan.

Now what -- what makes that so interesting, Judy, is that he is relying today on a huge turnout of independents and Democrats -- hopefully, from his standpoint, 50 percent or more of the vote -- to win here and to overcome an overwhelming superiority by Governor Bush among Republicans.

So it's a -- it's an interesting situation that in a state where the Democrats tend to be quite liberal, Senator McCain is relying on them the survival of his campaign and his candidacy.

WOODRUFF: Ron, you don't disagree that McCain really needs to win Michigan?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I think that if he comes close and loses he probably can keep going and maybe even win some states on the 7th. But certainly, you've got the situation that you've had really throughout, where George W. Bush, because of his early lead, leads everywhere. And McCain needs big jolts that can move the electorate all across the country at once. It's hard to win these things on a state-by-state basis.

So winning Michigan puts him in a much, much more viable position than losing it does, obviously.

WOODRUFF: Bob, are we looking at a, you know, one week one has to win, the next week the next one has to win, and yo-yoing? A week from now on Tuesday when it's Virginia and Washington State the other one has to win? I mean, assuming McCain remains viable today after Michigan.

NOVAK: No. I don't think that's the case, Judy. I think Governor Bush has such a superiority with Republican voters, which didn't matter as much in South Carolina or Michigan, which are open primaries, that he has a huge advantage in these closed primary elections. So I would say that Governor Bush would rather not lose in Michigan, because it makes life much more difficult and expensive for him. But it's not a "must" situation here for Governor Bush. And certainly, if he loses here, it's not a must situation next week. He still has a big advantage.


BROWNSTEIN: Well, Judy, first of all, I think we might even think about calling in Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson, because this is really "as good as it gets." This has been a tremendously engaging election, one I think that shows the cost to the country and the voters of compressing the primary schedule so tightly.

There's really no reason why people in Michigan had to have only three days to make this decision. You know, you go back a few years, they would have had a week or so to look at these candidates and examine them: have McCain make his arguments, have Bush have to defend some of the things he did in South Carolina.

I think the McCain camp views as sort of a hurdle to be crossed. I think everyone would agree with what Bob is saying: You cannot be the nominee of the Republican Party if you are going to consistently lose Republican voters by 40 points.

McCain has to reintroduce himself to the base, but to effectively do that, he really has to get through tonight, looking viable, and then have a chance to try to come around Bush at the right, perhaps on issues like spending and national defense, and try to gin up his Republican numbers, because you can't depend on independents to this degree to be the nominee.

NOVAK: That's exactly correct, and I have been waiting for Senator McCain -- and a lot of his aides have told me he's going to do it -- to start to make a pitch for Republican voters. He just hasn't done it, because I think he has his own game plan and he's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

I just heard him on a talk show here in Detroit, radio talk show from Arizona where he was attacking Bob Jones University. Now, that is -- that is a very good issue with liberals and Democrats. Doesn't really have much resonance with Republicans. And maybe after Michigan, he can go -- he'll start to take issues that will appeal to the Republican base.

WOODRUFF: But Bob and Ron, doesn't McCain going around saying he's a real conservative? I mean, I hear -- I hear him saying this over and over again.


NOVAK: But he doesn't talk -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

BROWNSTEIN: I'm sorry. I was going to say, Bob, I mean, he does -- he does say that. But I think the problem is, Judy, is that the reform process message has overwhelmed the result. The reform message of cleaning up campaign finance reform is very attractive to independents, but he used to connect it more to arguing that we had to go through these reforms to achieve conservative ends, like partially privatizing Social Security, obtaining school vouchers, cutting domestic spending, wasteful government spending, an end that Republican voters (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

WOODRUFF: And you're saying he's doing -- and you're saying he's not talking about this as much?


BROWNSTEIN: He's gotten into very much of a process argument and also has complained about the way Bush is treating him in the campaign. And as Bill Bradley learned this fall, nobody cares. Nobody cares how you're being treated in the campaign.

NOVAK: There's another -- there's another phenomenon that occurs, and that is that I think that in any campaign, a candidate begins to take on the coloration of his supporters. And as Senator McCain has become the darling of Democrats and independents, he has sounded more liberal. The John McCain today is demonstrably more liberal than the John McCain of a year ago while George W. Bush, as the candidate of the conservative base, sounds a lot more conservative than he did a year ago.

WOODRUFF: If that's the case, Ron Brownstein, what is that going to mean next week, Virginia, Washington, the week after, California?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, John McCain is probably at this point very much, first of all, a coastal candidate, like Bill Bradley might have been if he had taken off. He's going -- he's going to be strongest in places where there is a more independent, perhaps out of the South where the share of the vote that's from religious conservatives is a little smaller. Those are going to be hard states for him.

But in the end, Judy, no matter where it is, he's got to be able to go back to the Midwest, to places like Illinois, I think, down the road. New England, he could do well. New York, potentially a more moderate Republican electorate even though it's closed.

He's got to figure out a way to get more Republicans to vote for him, because it is not ultimately not sustainable to be the nominee of your party losing not only religious conservatives, but just rank and file, somewhat conservative, moderate to conservative Republicans by 30, 40 points. It's not a long-term strategy that's viable.


NOVAK: That's correct, and you know, if they -- as I said before, if they -- if McCain loses here, I think he'll concentrate on California. But if he wins here, I think he's going to make a big push for next week in Virginia.

Just two little Virginia tidbits. Virgil Goode, the only conservative, independent member of Congress, yesterday endorsed George Bush. Both sides have been trying to get his endorsement. That shows the inside game that's being played there.

And the interesting thing was there was a big fund-raiser for the Washington hoity-toity lobbyists in Warrenton, Virginia that George Bush had planned on February 28, the day before the Virginia primary, it's been canceled, because he believes he has to spend all of his time in Virginia shaking hands and not raising money. And that's a concession for the Bush camp.

WOODRUFF: Two very interesting tidbits. Bob Novak, Ron Brownstein -- gentlemen, thank you both.

Up next, Jeff Greenfield returns with some final thoughts.


SHAW: Well, by my watch, in a little more than two hours, most of the polls will close in Michigan and the evening will be filled with Republican hopefuls and the results from that state and from Arizona.

But our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, has some final thoughts about the most recent encounter of those two Democratic candidates -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Yes, Bernie, permit me one last word about last night's debate at the Apollo Theater. The morning papers called it raucous, nasty, a bare-knuckled brawl. The crowd was cheering, applauding, hooting, heckling. I loved every minute of it.

Where is it written that political debate is supposed to take place in a hermetically-sealed chamber, with only high-minded, polite exchanges of views? When you think about it, there's another arena where political debate is surrounded by raucous cheering, and booing and heckling. Where? The British House of Commons, the mother of parliaments.

The fact is, politics in a free society is always a mix of serious policy argument and street theater. It's been that way in America from the first days of the stump speech to the torch light parades and the state fairs and picnics of days gone by.

Indeed, one of the reasons why voter turnout is so pathetic here may be that we don't have that kind of theater anymore. Now politics comes all wrapped up in a television tube, and voters are more and more spectators instead of participants.

So maybe this fall, the nominees should debate not in a TV studio, but in real, live theaters in front of real, live people. Let them clap, let them cheer. Let them hoot, let them boo. Maybe if politics becomes fun again, people will start caring again -- Bernie.

SHAW: Amen, Jeff Greenfield.

WOODRUFF: Let's hope.

SHAW: Yes, let's hope.

Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: These programming notes: Two former GOP Presidential candidates will be the guests on "CROSSFIRE" tonight. Congressman John Kasich and Gary Bauer supports John McCain. That's at 7:30 p.m., Eastern.

SHAW: And Judy and I will be back at 8 p.m. Eastern, along with our colleague, Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider with his fascinating exit poll results. That's for complete coverage throughout the evening of the primaries in Michigan and Arizona.

WOODRUFF: And of course, you can go online at for the latest on the voting in those primary states.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

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


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