CNN Late Edition
Bush Pulling Ahead of McCain in `Super Tuesday' States; Bradley Campaign Struggling to Gain MomentumAired March 5, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington and here in Atlanta; 11:00 a.m. at Mardi Gras in New Orleans; 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles and 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION. We'll get to our guests shortly. But first, the latest on the race for the White House.
In just two days, the biggest contest yet of campaign 2000 will take place. On Super Tuesday, voters in 16 states head to the polls. The prize for both the Democratic and Republican candidates are some 60 percent of their conventions' delegates. This morning a coveted endorsement for two of the candidates, The New York Times endorsed Republican John McCain and Democrat Al Gore. With so much at stake, the candidates made their case on the Sunday morning talk shows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we can win Ohio and I think if we win the beauty contest in California, I think that has an impact because all the polls show that I'm the one that beats Al Gore. No longer does George Bush beat Al Gore or they're very close. I'm ahead of him by double-digits.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are pouring into our party because I've energized the Republican party. I'm going to unite our party. I'm bringing new folks into the primary. I'm getting the young vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Also this morning, former Democratic senator Bill Bradley spoke out about his chances in Tuesday's primaries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People vote. Next Tuesday is the decisive day. It's when we have to take off. I think that if you look at how we're doing in places like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine. I think we look at Missouri. We look at Maryland. There are a number of places where I think we're doing well. And in New York, I wouldn't write those numbers off either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore did not appear on any of the Sunday shows.
Joining us now to sort out what the latest polls are showing is CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, first of all on the Republican side, on this eve of this huge Super Tuesday, what are the polls showing?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the race to watch on the Republican side is New York. We're going to watch this one because this is the most closely competitive. In that race, John McCain had been leading George Bush by a narrow margin, but in the last few days, Bush has jumped ahead by just six points. This is a trial by ordeal campaign. It's a must-win for McCain.
California was supposed to be a contest but it really isn't. The latest poll shows Bush leading McCain among registered Republican voters, the only ones who count for choosing delegates, by 18 points. Now, the California ballot is interesting because there's also an open primary in California, where anyone can vote for anybody.
And there Gore, Bush and McCain are all right at the top, tied at the first place with Bradley way behind. If you add together the Bush and McCain votes you get over 50 percent, which ought to give California Republicans some hope. Except they don't know if those McCain voters are going to vote Republican if George Bush ends up being the nominee.
BLITZER: What about on the Democratic side, what's happening out there?
SCHNEIDER: Well, on the Democratic side, Gore in New York is leading Bill Bradley by 34 points. Now that's important because Bill Bradley played ball in New York. He was the senator from a neighboring state. This should have been a competitive state.
And New York Democrats who supported Bradley were just beside themselves when he spent most of the last week in Washington state ending up losing that contest. Should have been competitive, it isn't.
California, another state where Bradley had some hope, Gore is now leading by 31 points. Wolf, we could see a clean sweep for Al Gore. I can't find a single state where Bill Bradley is leading, even the ones he just mentioned in New England. If it's a clean sweep for Al Gore, then, well you just said, Bradley just said, Tuesday will be my takeoff day. He'll be able to take off for sometime.
BLITZER: Take off for some place else. Finally, John McCain, realistically what does he need to do to keep this race alive after Tuesday?
SCHNEIDER: What he needs to do, just to keep it alive, is to win several New England states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont where he seems to be way ahead. He has got to win New York and he has got to win the beauty contest in California where we just saw he's really in a tie with George Bush. If he does that he will be able to stay in the race, though he will still be way behind for delegates.
BLITZER: OK. Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, thanks of course, for joining us as always on Late Edition.
And joining us now with their take on the presidential race are four members of the U.S. Senate. In Dallas, Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She is supporting Governor George W. Bush. In Cleveland, Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine. He is backing Arizona Senator John McCain. In Omaha, Nebraska Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, a supporter of Bill Bradley. And shortly, John Kerry, the Democrat from Massachusetts supporting Vice President Al Gore. He will be joining us as well.
Thank you, senators, so much for joining us on LATE EDITION. And I want to begin with you, Mike DeWine. You're supporting John McCain. John McCain earlier today on "Meet the Press", he made it clear that he does not think that George W. Bush has been running a very fair campaign against him. Listen to his response to a question from Tim Russert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, NBC "MEET THE PRESS": Do you believe that George W. Bush has run an honorable campaign?
MCCAIN: I can't say that. I can't say that with the things that have happened. I'll support the nominee of the party; I will support him. But I cannot say that things like that, with the Wylye brothers and the phone calls and the attack ads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you believe, Senator DeWine, that George W. Bush has run an honorable campaign?
SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: You know, Wolf, we're going to have to go forward after this election with one of these two candidates, and I just tell you that one of the things I have found, constituents yesterday when I was going door to door in Canton, Ohio found irritating, and that is the fact that this Texas billionaire put $2 million into this race, and a lot of that has shown up in the state of Ohio. And I think people think that's just not right.
BLITZER: Well, Kay Bailey Hutchison, you heard Senator McCain, now you heard Senator DeWine. What do you say? You're supporting your fellow Texan, George W. Bush.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: You know, in a close race, things happen that candidates don't appreciate, they don't like, and sometimes they are not even responsible for. This has been a tough primary. I think that in the end, we're all going to come together and we're going to support our nominee. Governor Bush is going to be that nominee. And I hope that Senator McCain will support him fully and I believe that he will.
BLITZER: Senator Hutchison, the George W. Bush campaign is running an ad going after John McCain on the issue of breast cancer research, money for breast cancer research. Listen to this ad because I would be curious to get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: John McCain opposes many projects dedicated to women's health issues. It's true. McCain opposes funding for vital breast cancer programs right here in New York. John McCain calls these projects, quote, "garden variety pork." That's shocking. America deserves better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senator Hutchison, the Senator from Arizona says he supports money for breast cancer research, points out that his own sister has had to suffer from breast cancer, and he argues that the reason he opposed that specific bill was because it was part of a bigger Defense Department bill he thought that money for breast cancer should not be included in that legislation although he's voted for breast cancer research many times. Is that kind of ad fair game in this kind of campaign?
HUTCHISON: Wolf, you know, the fact of the matter is that I don't argue that we should have a process where anything that is going to be a research grant has a vetting, has a process that we determine the quality of that research.
But I think when Senator McCain puts lists of pork barrel projects on his web site, that we ought to have a vetting process for that as well. And I know some of the projects that he has listed are very good projects. So let me get to the bottom of this.
Since the Republicans have taken control of Congress, we have doubled breast cancer research funding. Senator McCain has supported that and Governor Bush has been a leading advocate for breast cancer awareness. I've worked with Laura Bush to make sure that we have an awareness campaign which is the best resource we have right now to save lives. But all of us want to get the cure for breast cancer because that will be the best end result. And we're all working toward that and I think we ought to stop talking about specific projects and let's get on with it and let's double the breast cancer funding research.
BLITZER: All right. I want to get to Senator Kerrey in a second, but back to you for a minute, Senator DeWine. As you know, the bitterness in this campaign between McCain and Bush has been very, very serious. And it seems to be getting worse as Super Tuesday does appear to be approaching. Do you believe these two men, irrespective of whoever gets the Republican nomination, these two men will be able to work together down the road, given what they've said against each other?
DEWINE: I don't think there's any doubt about this. Now I think from what I found yesterday going door to door in Parma and Canton, I think my candidate, John McCain, will do very well in Ohio. We think this race is very, very close in Ohio. We think he can win Ohio. But no matter how this turns out, I think we'll get together as a party and we will go forward and we'll beat Al Gore.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Kerrey, your man, Bill Bradley, is obviously on the ropes. He needs some wins on Tuesday to stay in this contest. He also was asked earlier today if he thinks Vice President Gore has been running an honorable campaign. I want you to listen closely to what Senator Bradley had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRADLEY: I think that he has distorted the record considerably. He said a number of things untrue about his own record and about mine. And I think that I had hoped that we could get to an election where people would be choosing between two politicians they esteem, as opposed to one they can barely tolerate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Sounds as if he doesn't think that the Vice President has run an honorable campaign. I'll ask you the same question I asked Senator DeWine.
Do you agree with Senator Bradley?
SEN. BOB KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: In this case, no. I think the vice president has not gone outside the range of motion that's allowed for running an honorable campaign. He did say some things about votes that Bill cast that weren't 100 percent accurate and he's had some difficulty describing his own record as well. But, no, I think he's run an honorable campaign.
BLITZER: And do you think if he is the Democratic nominee, this whole issue of the 1996 campaign fund-raising scandal, the conviction this week of Maria Hsai, a close friend of Vice President Gore, someone who was instrumental in raising that money at that Buddhist temple in Conner (ph) in 1996, do you think that is going to be legitimate fair game for the Republicans to go after the vice president?
KERREY: Well, I think it's going to be fair game but I don't think it's going to connect very well. In fact in that regard, I think Senator Bradley in many ways, this way in particular, has helped the vice president by surfacing the issue, the vice president's had to come back and explain, he's been for campaign finance reform for 20 years, and he's got not only a record, he's got an advocacy today of changing the system to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. So it will be fair game and may cause some voters to turn off, but I don't think it's going to be a big issue in 2000.
BLITZER; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, John McCain earlier today said that your candidate, the man you're supporting, Governor Bush, will not be able to use that campaign fund raising issue as a sledge hammer against Al Gore because he's basically done the same thing. Listen to what John McCain said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: If George Bush is a nominee, nothing. Because of what the Wylye brothers have done and his incredible view of campaign finance reform, which doesn't prohibit, which doesn't place any limit on individual contributions. If he's in the debate with Al Gore, he'll have nothing to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Nothing to say on an issue which of course did resonate out there with the American public. What do you say about that, Senator?
HUTCHISON: Governor Bush hasn't broken one campaign law. Vice President Gore's friend and fund raiser has just been convicted of violating campaign laws. I think there's going to be a huge difference and most certainly we will use that as an issue. There is a difference between Vice President Gore and Governor Bush on this issue.
BLITZER: Senator DeWine, how much of an difference, how much of a difference on this issue is there?
DEWINE: I think the one thing that Ohio voters, particularly Republican voters, are really looking at on Tuesday is who can beat Al Gore. And I think there's no doubt that the best person to beat Al Gore is John McCain. If we're serious about winning in the Fall, John McCain is our man and I think Ohio voters are really going to look at that when they go to the polls on Tuesday.
BLITZER: All right, Senators, stand by, we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, he'll be joining us as well and this additional note with two more tragic shootings in the United States this past week, what role will the politics of guns play as voters go to the polls Tuesday, and later, of course, in November? We'll ask all four senators when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Our conversation with four Senators representing the four different presidential candidates will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I think we ought to have instant background checks where guns are sold. I know we need to enforce law and I believe that's the best gun control policy there is.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need child- safety trigger locks. We need to ban junk guns and Saturday night specials. We need to require a photo-license ID for the purchase of a new handgun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush speaking on the issue of gun control following a pair of fatal shootings this past week, one of which involved a 6-year-old Michigan girl who was killed by her first-grade classmate.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Texas senator and Bush supporter Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ohio senator and McCain supporter Mike DeWine, Nebraska senator and Bradley supporter Bob Kerrey, and shortly, Massachusetts senator and Gore supporter John Kerry.
Senators, let's begin with this whole issue of guns. And I want to go first to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. President Clinton is foreshadowing what is certainly going to be a major Democratic issue in November, assuming Al Gore gets the nomination or Bill Bradley were to get the nomination, this issue of going after the Republicans on gun control. Listen to what President Clinton said just this past Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that it's long, long past time to license purchasers of handguns in this country. If we had child trigger-locks on all these guns, we could keep them alive. So I hope Congress will break the logjam and I'm going to invite the conferees down here and do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are you ready, Senator Hutchison, to go ahead and support these child trigger-locks for handguns?
HUTCHISON: I have supported that and Governor Bush supports that. I think what President Clinton did is incredible and I think it's terrible that he would make this a political issue that these children had these guns, when the child was living in a drug house and he broke laws that were in place. Governor Bush signed a law in Texas that said any adult will be criminally responsible for leaving a gun with the ability of the child to get to that gun. This would violate, what that child did, the adult in the house violated a law allowing that child access.
There were drugs being used in that house. What Governor Bush is trying to do is give that child an opportunity through good education, and through value-based training and religious-based training to get that child out of that environment. That's what we ought to be talking about.
BLITZER: Senor Bob Kerrey, how much of an issue will gun control be in November?
KERREY: Well, it's going to be a huge issue, I mean for gosh sakes, you can go to a gun show in the United States of America and have a one-day background check and it takes at least 72 hours to get the people who have something in their background that makes them a risk. I mean, it's much too easy to buy a gun in America today. You don't have to go to a drug house in order to buy a gun if you're a kid, you can buy them relatively easy on the street.
I mean, there's no question we need to enforce the laws and it isn't all just gun registration that's going to get the job done, but it's much too easy for a young person to be able to buy a handgun in the United States.
BLITZER: Senator DeWine, your candidate, John McCain, he's usually voted against serious gun control measures while he's been a senator and before that, a member of the House of Representatives. How vulnerable will he be to the attacks from the Democrats on this very sensitive issue?
DEWINE: John is in favor of safety trigger locks on guns, he's also supported my legislation to reauthorize the drug and safe free school act which is very important.
And the one thing that John's going to do is appoint an attorney general of the United States who will enforce the drug laws and will enforce the gun laws. You know, under a previous Republican President Bush, we had a position where we went after what's called project trigger lock, people who used a gun in the commission of a felony. Unfortunately the Clinton administration abandoned that program and we've seen prosecutions go down. We need to go after the people who are using guns in the commission of felonies and John McCain will do that because he'll appoint an attorney general who will get the job done.
BLITZER: But Senator DeWine, unlike you, John McCain did oppose the Lautenberg amendment the last time around which called for these background checks at these gun shows and he's opposed other serious gun control measures as well. And so as a result, a lot of people think that on this issue, a hot-button issue, he is going to be vulnerable.
DEWINE: I don't think so, John has support instant background checks, he has supported legislation and money which I've been directly involved in to get better background checks, make them more accurate, get them faster, so I don't think he's vulnerable at all. And I think when the American people truly understand that the attorney general today has not been vigilant in prosecuting people who use guns in the commission of a felony, they will understand how important it is to elect John McCain who has pledged to put an attorney general in there who will in fact truly enforce the law against the most dangerous people in our society.
BLITZER: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, on the whole issue of the religious right and the decision by Governor Bush to visit Bob Jones University in South Carolina, he of course has now said he regrets the fact that he didn't use that opportunity to condemn the ban on interracial dating and some of the anti-Catholic views that have been expressed at Bob Jones University. Will this continue to be an issue in the general campaign assuming Bush gets the nomination, or is it going to go away?
HUTCHISON: I don't think it will be. I saw Pat Buchanan on a show earlier today, he is a Catholic and he went to Bob Jones University, and I think that people realize that Governor Bush is reaching out to all people. He is not excluding anyone in his campaign because he wants to bring people together. And I think that will be a point and he's going to reach out to Christians, he's going to reach out to Catholics, Jews, Muslims, I think he's being very inclusive and I think that will show in the campaign.
BLITZER: Senator Kerrey, do you think that the move by Governor Bush towards the right, in the course of these primaries, is going to backfire once, if he gets the nomination in a general campaign against the Democratic nominee?
KERREY: Well, there's no question it will effect his campaign. I mean, he's gone to the right and he started off as a compassionate conservative trying to appeal to the middle. But if you don't mind, Wolf, I'm still of the opinion that Bill Bradley can win on Tuesday and I hope...
BLITZER: Tell us why.
KERREY: Well, I just think that he, by the way, is the strongest candidate in the general election, and I think people see in him honesty, integrity, and trust that will enable him to get the things done that he wants to get done. So, I haven't had a chance to say that, and I want to do that even though you asked me a different question.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Kerrey, let me read what The New York Times wrote this morning in endorsing Vice President Gore. Among other things, The New York Times said: Mr. Gore knows more about domestic and foreign issues than any candidate in either party is an aura of confidence and readiness for command have intensified while Mr. Bradley's appetite for the job seems to have mysteriously diminished during the campaign.
KERREY: One of the difficult things that people have...
BLITZER: Excuse me, Senator Kerrey.
KERREY: Yes. One of the things that people have difficulty with Bill is that when he gets angry, he doesn't raise his voice, he doesn't show the kind of-- you know the sort of behavior we get accustomed to in politics. He's a different sort of politician. I don't think his enthusiasm is diminished at all. It's remained the same as it was in Crystal City, Missouri, when he began.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on to Senator DeWine. You're predicting that John McCain, your candidate, will win in Ohio. But all of the polls in Ohio show that Governor Bush seems to be significantly ahead of John McCain on the basis of -- what evidence do you have that Ohio could go for McCain? DEWINE: Wolf, we did a poll in my own senate campaign race and it's more current than the two polls that you're talking about, I believe and we had Wednesday night and Thursday night, and we came out of the field, and these are pollsters who have great experience in Ohio, and they had a five- point margin -- McCain behind five points but closing the gap. He was coming on strong.
Also what I saw when my wife, Fran (ph), and I were campaigning in two bellwether areas of the state -- Canton, Ohio, and Parma -- the enthusiasm for John McCain was absolutely unbelievable.
I think it's hard for pollsters, in all fairness to them, to measure what's going on out there. When you look at who shows up at McCain rallies -- we're going to have two in Ohio, today he's going to come into Cleveland in just a moment and then go to Clinton county and campaign in southwest Ohio -- and when we saw the people that turned out last week, he's drawing people to politics that have not been involved in politics before or who have not been actively involved. And I think it's hard for pollsters to measure the intensity of this. I think it's hard for them to estimate who really is going to show up on Tuesday.
So we're confident we are right in this race. We think it's going right down to the wire. The fact that John McCain is coming back to Ohio this weekend we think is very significant.
BLITZER: All right. We finally managed to work out our problems, and we're able to bring senator John Kerry of Massachusetts into this conversation. Thank you so much for your patience, Senator Kerry. Welcome to LATE EDITION from our Boston bureau.
Let's get right to some of the issues...
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is truly -- this is really LATE EDITION.
BLITZER: Right. Let's get right to the issue that some Republicans say your candidate, Vice President Gore, will be most vulnerable on: the campaign fund-raising irregularities from the '96 campaign, the visit to the Buddhist temple. How is the vice president going to explain that, if in fact the Republicans and John McCain and George W. Bush say they will go after Al Gore specifically on that?
KERRY: Well, I think that shows the weakness of their overall effort that we will see in November. I mean, if that's what they think they're going to their base campaign on, the Republicans are in trouble.
Americans are looking for help for their schools. Al Gore is the only candidate for president of the United States who's put forward a major effort to help kids in public schools in the country.
They want guns out of our streets, they want guns out of our schools. The Republicans don't want to talk about that, so they're going to try to shift the topic.
The vice president has made it very clear that health care is going to be a major priority.
We've got people over all this country struggling with HMOs that cut them off when they most need help, people without insurance at all, children who have no coverage, and the Republicans don't want to talk about it. I mean, hidden behind all of these primaries has been a do-nothing Congress, run by the Republicans that doesn't want to tackle the real issues of the country.
And when it comes to campaign finance reform, let me tell you something: Al Gore has much credibility on campaign finance reform as John McCain. And if the press is willing to let John McCain go out and be a reformer on campaign finance reform, folks, he once made a mistake and he said, I made a mistake. Al Gore in the White House in his phone calls said, I made a mistake.
But as The New York Times says today in its endorsement of Al Gore, he will make campaign finance reform a priority. And what's more important, he goes farther -- farther than John McCain in the reform effort that he wants for campaign finance reform.
So I don't think they have anything -- I just think they're whistling "Dixie," and I look forward to it.
BLITZER: Senator Kerry, stand by.
We have a lot more to talk about with all four senators representing four presidential candidates. Stay with us. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition, Senator John Kerry, you know Senator John McCain well.
You've worked with him on the Senate Armed Services Committee; you've worked with him on Vietnam issues, POW issues. In your opinion, is John McCain temperamentally suited to become president of the United States?
KERRY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that is just one of the shameful things that's come up in the course of the Republican primary.
You know, I think that it's extraordinary to me that Republicans have been able to get away with that or maybe they haven't gotten away with it. But most Americans have made their judgment about John McCain.
He's a courageous soul. He's a good man and many of us are very friendly with him. I will say, however, and I think a lot of people don't realize this, I mean, you know, as much as I like John McCain, I disagree with John McCain. I think most of the American people will disagree with him on his approach to education, on his record on the environment, on his position on women and choice, on his position on a host of issues that are of critical importance to how the American people will vote for president. So as much respect and genuine affection as I have for him, I really think there are differences that will be focused on no matter who the Republican nominee is. And I might add one other thing. On the subject of campaign finance reform, who is George Bush who has blown all of the rules on campaign finance, who won't even live by the standard Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Robert Dole all lived by, who is he, who is spending these millions of dollars with a party of support that doesn't even embrace campaign finance reform? How will they raise that issue? It's absolutely incongruous.
BLITZER: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, I'll give you a chance to respond since you support George W. Bush.
HUTCHISON: Thank you. He has not broken one campaign law. And it will be an issue.
BLITZER: The point that Senator Kerry is making that he's not accepting the matching funds. He's going beyond what the other Republican candidates did in just raising an unlimited sum of money.
HUTCHISON: Governor Bush learned a lesson from what happened to Bob Dole four years ago. And that is he spent all of his money in the primaries and then he had an onslaught against him by President Clinton's campaign for three months before could get the federal matching funds. And Governor Bush said, I'm not going to be in that position.
So he is absolutely within the law. He is doing exactly what is allowed under the law. And you know, Governor Bush doesn't want to infringe on the freedom of speech. He is going to be very cautious about infringing on people's right to say what they want to say and pay for it. And I think he's right. We should be cautious if we're going to limit speech.
BLITZER: Senator DeWine, why is it that on some of these issues, a Democratic senator like Senator John Kerry seems to have nicer things to say about your candidate John McCain than several other Republican senators who don't like him personally, as you well know.
DEWINE: First, I think many Republican senators got on board with George Bush when it looked like he was inevitable, that he was going to be the nominee six months to a year ago, just same reason a lot of governors and other elected officials did.
I think the second thing, I would comment on, is that the things that the personal traits of John McCain, his bluntness, his openness, his candor, his willingness to tell people things that they don't want to hear. The things that sometimes irritate other senators are the very qualities that are endearing to many people in the United States. And when I again talk to people in Ohio, I think they really like those qualities and find that they're refreshing.
BLITZER: Senator Bob Kerrey, you're a straight-talker ourself. You're leaving the Senate at the end of this term. Who would the Democrats fear most in a general campaign, George W. Bush or John McCain? KERREY: I don't think I'm prepared to choose. I don't think either one of them are going to be nearly as strong as people think. I agree with my younger brother John's assessment of the campaign earlier. I think if it's Bill Bradley, we've got an agenda. If its Al Gore, we've got an agenda that connects with what the American people want to get accomplished. They've been frustrated not to get a patients' bill of rights; they've been very frustrated not to get expansion of health insurance; they've been very frustrated not to get more support for their schools and education, and very frustrated not to get something done to make it more difficult for people to purchase handguns. And I think that frustration is going to bear out in the election on November 7.
BLITZER: All right. I want to thank all four Senators. We are all out of time. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mike DeWine, Bob Kerrey and John Kerry, especially thanks to you for your patience in allowing us to work out some of those technical problems. Thanks to all of you for joining us on LATE EDITION.
And when we return, John McCain takes on the religious right. We'll talk with one of his targets, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate John McCain taking on leaders of the religious conservative movement this past week.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us from Lynchburg, Virginia to respond to Senator McCain's attack, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, president of Liberty University, and the founder of the Moral Majority.
Reverend Falwell, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
REVEREND JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Hi, Wolf.
BLITZER: You heard the comparison to Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan. What do you say when you hear a Republican like John McCain linking you and Pat Robertson on the extreme right to what he regards as the extreme left in the Democratic Party?
FALWELL: I, you know, I'm an admirer of the senator, and I said this morning earlier on another network show, that if he is the nominee, I will vote for him in November. He's a true American hero, he's just getting bad advice as often candidates do. He knows better. He made the remark in one of his debates in Los Angeles that I had once said that Mr. Clinton was a murderer, and he knows that's a fabrication, I've never said that, would never say that. I don't believe that, all those things are just -- the idea was coming into Virginia last Monday, that way behind, maybe if we can get some people mad about this, these religious conservatives, that would help us. It did not help.
And his campaign, you know, I've said I'd vote for him in November, I think he would make a good president. I don't think he will get the nomination, I think his plane will go down in flames on Tuesday, and if there's one engine working, it will go down the next Tuesday and George Bush will be the next president. But just because I support George Bush and support his father, Mr. Reagan and all the rest, does not mean that I'm anti-McCain. I have high admiration for him.
BLITZER: Well, you know, your fellow conservative Pat Robertson is not as generous towards John McCain as you are. He was on this program a couple weeks ago, and he made it clear that he could not endorse, he could not vote for John McCain if he were the Republican nominee, in fact, he went even further. Listen to what Pat Robertson's said on LATE EDITION only two weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN COALITION: I think that this man is regarded as a maverick, he doesn't work well with his colleagues, and there's a deep concern about what seems to be a specious issue in relation to campaign finance. And so we're looking at a situation that could be devastating to the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I take it you disagree with Pat Robertson, that it would not be devastating to the Republican party if John McCain were the nominee.
FALWELL: If John McCain wins the nomination, I would work as hard for him to be elected as for George W. Bush and I would hope that all Republicans, I'm not a Republican, but I would hope Republicans, independents, conservative Democrats would do the same.
BLITZER: What about his proposal, the McCain-Feingold Proposal, to overhaul campaign fund raising capabilities, Pat Robertson says that he simply, the Christian Coalition and a lot of other groups, issue groups, would not be able to operate if that were the law of the land.
FALWELL: Well, obviously I think it is wrong to restrict Americans at any status in life economically from participating at whatever level they wish to. Of course there are laws about how much one can give to a candidate. But soft money and giving to the various parties, I think nothing should be changed, I think that fraud should be dealt with, dishonesty dealt with, I think the laws are good as they are. And George W. Bush chose not to take government funds on this thing and he has raised the money in the private sector, I admire that.
BLITZER: Getting back to that one issue where McCain said you were among those who were accusing President Clinton of murder, what he was referring is to that famous documentary that video, the Clinton Chronicles in which somebody on there said Bill Clinton was responsible for the murder of some relative of his and that your organization was distributing, was selling that videotape. I just want to nail this point down. You do not believe under any circumstances whatsoever that Bill Clinton had anything to do with murder?
FALWELL: Of course not, and I've never even inferred that. You know, I've been on television 44 years, almost every day but every week with a national program in every instance, and we have offered literally thousands of videos, audio tapes and Clinton Chronicles was created by citizens for honest government in California, Pat Matrichiono (ph), an investigative reporter and our preacher, did a very good job.
And all these comments by persons on the tape, I made it real clear when we, back in '92 -- I think it was '92 -- offered the tape on our program, that we are no means -- by no means acknowledging, supporting, affirming, negating the charges. We simply think "that you might want to hear it."
We did that with also a tape developed by a "theological" -- if I can use that term in quotes -- "atheist." He believes there is no God and he's mad at God, so whatever that means. We certainly don't endorse what he believes, but we distributed the tape to show the other side of the issue.
BLITZER: You know, I know that in recent months you have made the point of being a little bit more tolerant towards gays, including some of your former supporters who have now openly acknowledged their homosexuality. You met with a delegation of gays. The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gay Republicans, is running an ad, a radio ad, attacking George W. Bush. I want to you to listen to that ad and tell me if you think that George W. Bush should join you in perhaps being more tolerant towards homosexuals. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): I want the Republicans to win in November. That's why I was happy to hear George W. Bush say he's a uniter, not a divider. But then he said he would not meet with gay Republicans, and he aligned himself with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. I am sorry. That doesn't build the kind of Republican Party that wins elections.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: First of all, explain to us what you have been doing on this issue of reaching out to homosexuals, and what do you think Governor Bush should be doing?
FALWELL: Well, first of all, as a Christian who believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, I do believe that homosexuality is always sin, it's always wrong.
But hating sin and loving sinners is what Jesus and all of his followers have done for 2,000 years. George Bush does not dislike gays and lesbians. He does believe -- in my opinion, from what I've heard him say -- he does believe the lifestyle is wrong.
But he is a uniter. He is in fact one who will represent all the people.
I think the Republican Party needs the votes of all citizens who will stand behind the governor. I think in November we need all the McCain supporters, the Log Cabin group -- I think that they're living an immoral lifestyle, but I'd much rather they vote for George Bush than Al Gore, who'll be the Democratic candidate.
And so I think the governor is doing what he ought to do. I don't think he should meet with them and get their agenda. Bill Clinton has done enough of that for two lifetimes. He needs to pray for them and be kind to them. I had 200 come here, invited them to worship with us. We sat down, discussed the violence issue. But in now could I ever, ever endorse their lifestyle, nor can George Bush.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a caller from Queens in New York City. Please go ahead with your question for the Reverend Jerry Falwell.
CALLER: Hi. I'm just talking -- I'm calling and I'd like to first of all say I enjoy the objectivity of CNN.
And I have a question for the Reverend: Does he or Pat Robertson, in his opinion, have any personal resentment toward John McCain because of what he said.
BLITZER: Go ahead, please.
FALWELL: Well, I'll speak for Jerry Falwell. I'm a great admirer of Senator McCain. He spent five and a half years in a communist prison camp for me, for all Americans. And I can tell you that that's enough to destroy a man. It didn't destroy him.
And while we may have some differences -- and I do -- on most of the issues, Senator McCain and I would agree. It's not so much the issue thing, I think that George Bush would make the better president. And I made that decision way, way, way back before George Bush was even a candidate.
I love and admire Senator McCain, and I've said this morning and I've said it since the campaign began, if he's the nominee -- I don't think he will be -- but if he is, he'll have my support.
BLITZER: OK. The Reverend Jerry Falwell, thanks again for joining us on this Sunday on LATE EDITION. Thank you very much.
And coming up next, as George W. Bush and John McCain head toward a Super Tuesday showdown, what 11th hour strategy do the two candidates have for winning? We'll talk with the men who run their campaigns: Bush senior strategist Karl Rove, and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I am a Reagan Republican who will defeat Al Gore.
BUSH: I don't appreciate the politics that's happening in America today, that's using religion as a race card.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican presidential candidates John McCain and George W. Bush taking on each other on the campaign trail.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We now hear from the two men responsible for keeping the Bush and McCain campaigns on track. Joining us from Austin, Texas is Bush senior strategist Karl Rove. And in Washington, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION, and I'll begin with you, Mr. Rove, The New York Times this morning, in endorsing John McCain over George W. Bush, had this to say, let me read it to you. "Mr. McCain's potential proceeds from deeper knowledge about government and a commitment to reform as a guiding idea rather than a hastily adopted slogan. We think Republican voters should judge him on his real record, not the falsified version being pushed by Mr. Bush's right-wing enforcers." Strong words from The New York Times in a state which is very important on super Tuesday.
KARL ROVE, BUSH STRATEGIST: Well, The New York Times has a reputation for endorsing Democrats. It endorsed Al Gore on the same page; we anticipate they'll endorse Al Gore in the fall. And they obviously missed the mark. Governor Bush as governor of Texas ran in 1994 on a platform of reform: reform of education, welfare, juvenile justice and civil justice laws. When he became governor, he enacted that reform agenda into law with terrific results for Texas, particularly in our schools. He has a reputation and a record of a reformer with results. And obviously The New York Time" in its liberal viewpoint decided to ignore that. But that's fine, we never expected to get, to be applauded on the editorial page in The New York Times.
BLITZER: Rick Davis, your candidate, John McCain, has a Straight Talk Express but he's being widely criticized, including by Bill Bennett, for refusing to simply say, I made a mistake in not acknowledging on that day of the Michigan primary that yes, the McCain campaign was behind that Catholic Voter Alert that has become so controversial over these past several days. Why can't he simply say, and he even refused to say it today, why can't he simply say yes, I made a mistake but let's move on?
RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, Wolf, there's one simple fact, he didn't make a mistake. He took responsibility for what we were doing, and that's what's important to the future president. Unlike the campaign that's being waged out of Austin, where there's no evidence that they have their hands on any function of their campaign. And so rather than just say, I don't know anything about it and keep moving on, John McCain took responsibility and said yes, these are our calls, I'm proud of them, they say the right thing and frankly something voters ought to know about.
BLITZER: But he did give the misleading impression there was no McCain involvement at all in that Catholic voter alert, didn't he?
DAVIS: Well, I think Wolf, you were the one who was misled. He was asked a very specific question and he gave a very straight answer to what the question was. He couldn't read into that question everything that everybody was trying to come up with.
As soon as it was brought to his attention what the issue was, he said yes, absolutely these are our calls and here's what they're saying. They didn't call George Bush, as much as George Bush likes to say so, an anti-Catholic bigot. But it did refer to Bob Jones University that way and that's what George Bush apologized for. So I think it proves that he was right.
BLITZER: All right, let me let Karl Rove have a chance to respond.
ROVE: Well, first of all, Senator McCain did not for one week, one entire week acknowledge that these calls were made by his campaign. He didn't want to acknowledge the parentage of these telephone calls, they don't even say that they're calling on behalf of McCain for president, the calls are made in the name of a phony non- existent group, Catholic voter alert.
As to the purpose of the call, the purpose of the call was clear, it was to leave the impression in people's mind that Governor Bush was a anti-Catholic bigot. And the reaction, the negative reaction to it was so strong that Senator McCain in New York has finally been forced to change the tone of those calls and remove all the references that lead people to believe that Governor Bush is a anti-Catholic bigot.
This was the worst form of politics, the worst injection of religion as an issue into the campaign, since 1960. That's why Senator McCain, for one entire week, refused to acknowledge that he was responsible for those calls, and continually misled reporters when they asked him if his campaign had anything to do with it.
BLITZER: Rick Davis, the McCain campaign is going after the Bush campaign for allegedly being behind that $2 million buy in ads by the Wylye brothers, Sam Wylye, although George W. Bush and everyone else in the Bush campaign insists they had no connect, no knowledge that the Wylye brothers were doing this strictly on their own. You don't believe them, do you?
DAVIS: Not in the least. I mean, Karl would know a lot about phony front groups, because he's got one operating in New York.
And what's amazing to me is that the press and this program to some degree, hasn't really called his cards on it. Everybody involved in this project is a Bush supporter, most of them intimately involved, the contributor who put $2.5 million into the table for the Bush campaign hasn't even been questioned as to what real commitment he's got to this issue.
Look, the facts are the facts. This is a Bush-inspired event. They're trying to beat John McCain on issues in New York. They don't have the money or the wherewithal to want to slam him on environment. Why? Because he has a great record on the environment.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to let Karl Rove respond in a minute. Unfortunately we have to take a quick break. For our international viewers, world news is next. For our North American audience, another half hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories, then your phone calls for Bush campaign senior strategist Karl Rove and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. Plus, our LATE EDITION roundtable and Bruce Morton's last word. It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: We'll give Karl Rove a chance to respond to what Rick Davis was say. He's says, flatly, that those Wylye ads, the $2.5 million going after John McCain's environmental record were Bush- inspired.
ROVE: Well, that's absolutely not true. Look, democracy is messy. The first amendment allows people to say things. I saw no outrage on the part of Senator McCain when the Sierra Club or the National Abortion Rights Action League ran ads critical of Governor Bush. Right now the Log Cabin Republicans which have raised money for Senator McCain are running radio ads attacking Governor Bush. You had it on your program earlier. They're entitled to it under the first amendment to the constitution.
But Senator McCain's campaign and Senator McCain do have this habit of tossing around these accusations and charges without proof. Senator McCain, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, referred to all the members of Congress as corrupt. When Senator Bennett of Utah and Senator McConnell of Kentucky asked him to specifically show who was corrupt and how they were corrupt, he refused to answer. He referred to religious leaders last week as evil. Words mean something and Senator McCain needs to be more careful about these accusations and wild words that he uses in his campaign.
BLITZER: All right. Rick Davis, let's talk a little bit about California. A huge prize, the biggest prize on Tuesday. There is some speculation that your candidate, John McCain, may win the popular vote, the so-called beauty contest, but when it comes to delegates, Republican delegates, that's only a Republican-registered vote that counts. Are you prepared to say right now that even if John McCain wins the popular vote, you will go along with the rules as worked out and allow the Republican voters only to determine how that winner- take-all prize of California's delegates will be apportioned?
DAVIS: Wolf, as you know, we all got into the California primary knowing what the rules are. I don't think the problem is what are we going to do. I think the problem is, what is the party going to do? Because the party may be faced with a dilemma that John McCain, which under current polls, your own polls show this, is beating Al Gore in double-digits but George Bush is losing to him in California.
And if we lose the Republican primary race there, which is the most narrow race on the March 7, and very exclusionary, but we win the popular vote, what's the party going to say when they look at that and say he's not our strongest candidate, George Bush. What are we going to do with these delegates now? It's actually up to the party to decide and we're confident they will make the right decision.
BLITZER: It sounds, Karl Rove, as if the McCain campaign just now on this program, is leaving a question mark over what that Republican vote-only will result in.
ROVE: Well, Senator McCain signed an affidavit the first line of which is upon pain of perjury he would abide by the rules of the California Republican party in awarding the delegates to the winner of the Republican vote in California. And for once I'm going to take him at his word.
Imagine what the outcry would have been if after the Michigan primary the Bush campaign had said only Republican votes should have counted in Michigan towards the allocation of the delegates. And the delegates ought to be awarded to Bush because he won the Republican vote even though the rules were the Republican, Democrat and independent votes counted. Look, we're going to win both votes on Tuesday and make the question moot.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a caller from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, I'm from Mount Pleasant, Michigan. And I am a Republican and a former Bush supporter. I watched the campaign in New Hampshire and what I saw there was fair and on the up and up and I believe McCain won that very well. And then all of a sudden things changed in South Carolina.
BLITZER: What's the question?
CALLER: Things got very, very ugly in South Carolina.
BLITZER: Sir, what's your question? Sir, what's your question?.
CALLER: John McCain on veterans' issues and I really didn't like that, that's what made we switch over. I wonder what happened, Mr. Rove, to change the Bush campaign over to an ugly one.
DAVIS: Well, I have to disagree with you. In the exit polling in South Carolina by a wide margin, South Carolinians felt that Senator McCain had run a negative campaign as opposed to Governor Bush. Two-thirds of South Carolina voters said Senator McCain had run a negative campaign. And the reason was obvious. He ran an ad that totally distorted Governor Bush's record on taxes, claiming he saved not a single dime or single red cent for Social Security. ROVE: He then ran not one but two television ads in which Senator McCain compared Governor Bush's untrustworthiness to President Clinton's. I can think of no worse insult.
And then he campaigned for three days with Gary Bauer by his side and made an overt bid for the votes of religious conservatives, and once he lost that support on election day, immediately turned with a vengeance to attack religious conservatives.
Senator McCain was the man who ran two television ads saying that he was pro-life, ads that he hasn't bothered to show in any other state. And he's the man who was introduced by his campaign co- chairman in South Carolina with the words that God had willed Senator McCain to be in this race. And yet, two days after he lost that vote in South Carolina, he was routinely referring to South Carolina voters as Dixiecrats and other terms of derision and scorn.
Now it was Senator McCain who ran a negative campaign in South Carolina and that's...
BLITZER: Karl Rove, I just want to interrupt for a second. I want to give Rick Davis a chance to respond because we're almost out of time.
Go ahead, Mr. Davis.
DAVIS: Yes. This is an incredible rewrite of history. The reason that John McCain lost South Carolina was the pervasive negative campaign run by George Bush. There's not a soul in this country -- other than maybe Karl Rove -- who wouldn't agree with that statement.
And the idea that he's rewriting history at this late date of the primary is incredible to me.
John McCain didn't stand up and destroy George Bush's record as a person in the war. George Bush did. He stood next to a man on a dais and said: John McCain has not done enough for veterans since he got back from prison of war camp. It's incredible.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, gentlemen, we are all out of town.
Karl Rove, Rick Davis, thank you so much for joining us on LATE EDITION. Good luck to both of you and your campaigns on the campaign trail.
DAVIS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you so much.
ROVE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And when we return: Who will be in and who will be out after Super Tuesday? We'll go around the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION round table.
Joining me from Washington, Susan Page, White House bureau chief for "USA Today"; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report"; and on the campaign trail in Cleveland, Ohio, Tucker Carlson, political writer for "The Weekly Standard."
All right, Steve, we'll go around the table first. What is going the happen first of all on Tuesday?
STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, I think on the Democratic side it's going to be all over for Bill Bradley, he can go back to shooting hoops in his backyard. I think in terms of the Republican side, this is a royalist party, and in the end, you know, since 1952 there have been 12 Republican tickets, only once in those 12 times has the Republican Party nominated a ticket that did not include someone named Nixon, Dole or Bush. And they're going to do it again. In fact they might get two out of this, Bush and Dole. But what's happening is that the Republicans are coming back to their home base and that's going to be the deciding factor.
BLITZER: Tucker Carlson, you agree with Steve?
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: I do. I mean, I think it, well, I think it's over for Bradley and I think it looks tough for McCain, but you know, it looked bad after South Carolina too. I mean the McCain campaign has always been this, obviously this insurgency. When you're running an insurgency, you know, momentum is what matters. So with every loss, the momentum dissipates. I think it would take something approaching a miracle to win, but one never knows.
BLITZER: All right, what about that, a miracle, Susan?
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: It would be a surprise for McCain to do well, but on the other hand it's possible, and as Tucker said, he surprised us in Michigan, he surprised by the size of his win in New Hampshire. So I think that one of the things that will make Tuesday night fun, is that we don't know exactly what will happen on the Republican side. I'd like to see who wins in New York, who wins the beauty contest balloting in California, even what happens in Ohio. We clearly expect George W. Bush to be able to put this away in a week or two. But we're not quite able to say that with real confidence yet.
BLITZER: Looking back, Steve, with hindsight, was it a mistake for John McCain to go after Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, other leaders of the Christian right the way he did on the eve of the Virginia primary?
ROBERTS: I think it was, Wolf. I think that he stepped on his own message. John McCain all along has been selling one thing, John McCain, his biography, his heroism, his idealism and I think he muffled his own voice, and I understood what he was trying do, which was energize moderates and independents, but I think as I said earlier, I think in the end, the Republican party nominating process is controlled by Republicans. I don't see how you win those primaries by attacking leaders of one of your core constituencies and I think in the end he stepped on his own message, I do think it was a mistake.
BLITZER: He is, Tucker Carlson, John McCain's camps, you heard Rick Davis on this program earlier say that this whole Wylye brothers, the Sam Wylye $2.5 million ad campaign attacking John McCain's environmental record, is really Bush-inspired. In fact, George Bush was asked about that earlier today on "Face on Nation." Listen to what George Bush said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: There have been ads, independent expenditures that are saying bad things about me. I don't particularly care when they do. But that's what freedom of speech is all about, and this allegation somehow that I'm involved with this is just totally ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Totally ridiculous he says that he's at all involved or anyone on his campaign with the Wylye ad.
CARLSON: Well, he'll be in a lot of trouble if he's shown that he is directly involved, and of course, there would be coordination. No, I find it plausible that he's not. You know, I don't believe that Bush picked up the phone and said, run these ads for me in New York state, but clearly they're designed to help Bush.
I think McCain's challenge this week, and all along really, has been to not over respond to things like this. McCain believes that one of the reasons he lost South Carolina was because he went as he put it down in the weeds, he got exercised, he got angry at the attacks made on him by the Bush campaign and he focused on them too much and I think to the exclusion of what Steve described as his real message, which is, I'm John McCain, I'm a better man. And so, while this may hurt Bush, I think focusing on it probably hurts McCain.
BLITZER: You know, Susan, I was intrigued earlier today, we had the four senators on, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democrat, someone supporting the Vice President Al Gore, he really went out of his way to say very nice things about John McCain, in contrast to some Republicans. Is that going to hurt or help John McCain in this Republican primary season?
PAGE: You know, I think we're going to see a case where John McCain may loose the battle, he may not get the nomination this time, but he may win the war because he's really shown the power of a message that doesn't appeal only to core Republicans, also appeals to independents and to some Democrats.
And it shows in a time when people are decreasingly likely to really feel strongly about a party, to really feel that they're Republican or Democrat, he's showing a way that a candidate can get some cross party support as he shown he got in Michigan and elsewhere.
And I think that there may be, this may be a case where there are lessons that get learned from the McCain candidacy that we don't see really applied until the next time around in 2004.
ROBERTS: I'll tell you, George Bush doesn't seem to be learning those lessons here. One of the ironies here is George Bush attacking McCain for broadening the base of the Republican Party. He uses words like hijacking the Republican Party, when in fact he is bringing in Democrats and independents. You would you think that they would be welcoming that. And I think it's ironic and self-defeating to be attacking McCain for broadening the base of the Republican Party.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, we have to take another quick break. Still ahead, not long ago, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley was surging in the polls. Now he's on the brink of being eliminated from the race. What went wrong? We'll ask the roundtable, when Late Edition continues.
BLITZER: Welcome to our roundtable.
Tucker Carlson, the Bradley campaign at one point before New Hampshire seemed to be having some serious momentum. It's been a lot -- it's been all downhill ever since. And we've seen this past week Bill Bradley in an almost new posture actually being very gentlemanly like and much less vociferous in going after Al Gore.
Here we see him on a ferry in Washington State, a picture that The New York Times ran, an AP photo this past week. He seems to be sort of aloof right there from the campaign trail.
What is going on in the Bradley camp right now?
CARLSON: Well, Bradley's always aloof. And it turns out he's a party man after all. I mean, I think he's toned down his attacks on Gore. He realizes he's not going to win and he doesn't want to damage the Democratic ticket anymore than he has.
I don't think the Bradley candidacy was ever terribly plausible. A, he ran left at a time when the audience for that message is getting smaller; B, he's not a great candidate. I really have met morticians with charisma than he has; and, C, he was running against a candidate who really had the backing of every organized Democratic constituency. Bradley was popular in a few rich zip codes for a time. He raised a lot of money there in Silicon Valley and places like it. But I don't think there was ever a broad swell of support for his campaign.
BLITZER: All right, Steve, what did Al Gore do right in his campaign?
ROBERTS: Well, he re-tooled himself early enough. He got a wake-up call back in September, and I do think he became crisper, more focused. And as he's described as metamorphosis -- you know, in the beginning he was campaigning like a vice president, he was thinking through everything in terms of what's the policy of this administration, am I saying something that's going to help or hurt an established policy -- it really crippled him.
And I think he started thinking like a candidate. He started thinking for himself. I think it changed his whole approach to the campaign.
But the best thing he did was be vice president at a time when the economy's doing so well. That's the biggest asset he has; it's going to be the biggest asset he has in the fall campaign as well.
BLITZER: Susan, what do you say? You spent some time covering the vice president. You know him, you've interviewed him. Is that going to be his biggest asset?
PAGE: You know, I think Al Gore owes a lot to Bill Bradley, because Al Gore forced -- Bill Bradley forced Al Gore to shake up his campaign to become a better candidate.
Now we have this really unexpected situation. After the Super Tuesday contest on Wednesday morning, Al Gore will have more money in the bank than George Bush. Al Gore will have the Democratic nomination in hand; George Bush will still be fighting for the Republican nomination.
This is not the race we expected at this point in time. And that's going to give Al Gore a tremendous advantage -- or a tremendous opportunity as we get into this odd period until the conventions when the landscape is going to be set for the general election.
I think Al Gore is a much more formidable general election candidate at this point than we ever expected. And he has Bill Bradley in part to thank for that.
BLITZER: All right. Susan Page, Steve Roberts, Tucker Carlson on the campaign trail in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio, thanks again for joining us. We'll have plenty to talk about next week when you return for our LATE EDITION roundtable.
And just ahead, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazine. Plus Bruce Morton's last word on racial politics, past and present.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirty-five years ago we watched what came to be called "Bloody Sunday," as civil rights marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge trying to march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Bruce reflects on the march to Selma and the politics of race in America.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Time now for Bruce Morton's last word.
With voters across the country heading to the polls Tuesday, Bruce reminds us that for some Americans, getting the right to vote was not without bloodshed.
MORTON (voice-over): Bill Bradley has a saying, he used it in Senate speeches, used it again during his presidential campaign.
BRADLEY: Slavery was our original sin just as race remains our unresolved dilemma.
MORTON: This weekend is one more reminder that he's right. Thirty-five years ago, we watched what came to be called Bloody Sunday, as civil rights marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, trying to march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery. State troops, swinging nightsticks, attacked the marches, young or old, man or women. John Lewis, now a Georgia congressman but then a march leader, suffered a fractured skull, but he was not the only casualty.
Back then, the issue was legal segregation. Black Americans in southern states were systematically denied the right to vote. Bloody Sunday ran on newscasts around the world. It shocked many. Martin Luther King led a march that reached Montgomery a few days later. One protester was killed. But later that year, Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed, the voting rights act. All Americans could vote. Another wall had come tumbling down.
So now it's 35 years later and politicians are arguing about whether police do and should use racial profiling, stopping drivers, say, on the basis of their looks. Here in California, a survey shows 50 percent think racial profiling is widespread in their part of the state. The Democratic presidential candidates talked about it in their Harlem debate.
GORE: We have to recognize that racial profiling is a problem not only in law enforcement but also in insurance, in banking, inside school rooms, inside people's hearts.
BRADLEY: I would issue an executive order that would eliminate racial profiling at the federal level.
MORTON: Republicans have been debating the morality of flying the Confederate flag at a state capitol, a symbol of the proud past to some, a symbol of slavery to many, and slavery did end up being what the Civil War was mostly about.
They've also been talking about Bob Jones University, a school which was lily-white, admitted a few blacks faced with a cutoff of federal funds, and until last week, barred interracial dating. Should a candidate speak there and not mention that? It took much pain and much blood to end slavery, much blood and much pain a century later to end legal segregation, but race still casts long shadows over American life. Race, as Bradley said, is our unresolved dilemma, and a resolution is not now in sight.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce. Time now for a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.
On the cover of "Newsweek": "Murder in the First Grade: The tragic Shooting of a Michigan First-Grader."
On the cover of "TIME," Katie Couric lost her husband to colon cancer. Now she's spreading the word -- get tested to save your life.
And "U.S. News & World Report": "A Cure for Heart Disease? New Treatments Are Defeating America's No. 1 Killer," on the cover.
That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, March 5. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. And I'll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for "THE WORLD TODAY." For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Atlanta.
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