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Inside Politics

On Eve of Super Tuesday, McCain and Bush Campaign in Critical California; Gore Likely to Sweep Bradley in Super Tuesday Contests

Aired March 6, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tell his sleazy Texas buddies to stop these negative ads, take your money back to Texas where it belongs.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: John McCain keeps pounding familiar themes against George W. Bush in hopes of beating the Super Tuesday odds.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's nothing more humbling than to lose a few elections.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Bush reflects on his past losses while exuding confidence about the big contest tomorrow.

SHAW: And in what may be the last vestiges of Gore versus Bradley, one is thinking ahead while the other sounds a bit wistful.

ANNOUNCER: This is INSIDE POLITICS from election headquarters at CNN Center in Atlanta, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff, and analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. There has been so much talk about the importance of tomorrow's deluge of primaries and so many predictions about the outcome that the presidential candidates seem to be fighting a sense that the contests are anti-climactic, even as they battle one another. Well, that may be particularly true of Republican John McCain, who is rallying voters in California and trying to stay in the game.

CNN's John King is with McCain.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain is at a California crossroads, hoping Super Tuesday brings yet another campaign 2000 surprise.

MCCAIN: And I believe that California tomorrow night will send a message, send a message throughout America and the world that change is coming, change is coming.

KING: Once more, McCain argued he's the true reformer in the Republican race. Once more, he lashed out at an attack ad campaign financed by big Bush fund-raisers.

MCCAIN: We're going to send a message to two sleazy Texans who put-- who put 2 1/2...


... who put at least -- who put at least $2 1/2 million, $2 1/2 million running attack ads against me.

KING: The Arizona senator is fighting for survival: this urgent in-flight huddle with top campaign aides a reflection of the Super Tuesday stakes.

There are some 600 delegates at stake, 60 percent of what it takes to win the nomination. With Governor Bush favored to win most of them, the surprise candidate of campaign 2000 is hoping he has at least one more big week left.

MCCAIN: One thing we know is that the unpredictable will happen. The only thing that has been absolutely certain in this primary season so far is that the predictions haven't worn out -- bourn out.

KING: McCain spent the entire day in California, but his Super Tuesday strategy is anchored in the Northeast. McCain hopes to sweep the five New England states and the 102 delegates they offer. Winning a majority of New York's 93 is another McCain must.

Ohio's 69 delegates are the day's third-biggest prize, and some advisers believe McCain needs an upset win there to have any realistic hope of winning the nomination.

All of California's 162 delegates go to the candidate who gets the most votes from registered Republicans. Winning those would change everything for McCain, but his advisers concede it's unlikely.

McCain hopes for this consolation prize: beating Bush in the overall California vote by drawing independent and Democratic support.

MCCAIN: Come onboard. Come on, independents, come on, Democrats, libertarians, vegetarians, all of you, join our banner.

KING: Winning the popular vote but not the delegates would give McCain evidence to make the case he's the stronger general election candidate.

MCCAIN: I'm the only one that can beat Al Gore, and you know that.


KING: The governor is heavily favored next week in Texas, Florida, and several other Southern states. And some advisers believe that if McCain takes a thumping this week, he would be better off bowing out before next Tuesday.


Now, the McCain campaign complaining to the end here on the night before Super Tuesday about those campaign attack ads financed by two Texas businessmen. The campaign -- the McCain campaign filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and the senator himself saying over the weekend that Bush's fund-raising tactics are -- quote -- "so Clintonesque, it's scary." McCain making the case Bush would be a weak candidate for the Republicans to nominate in the fall. But right now, he has a much more short-term worry: having a strong enough Super Tuesday showing to justify staying in the race -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, you mentioned that if tomorrow doesn't go well, that some of the people around McCain think that he should get out before next week. What else are you hearing about the future of this campaign?

KING: There is a debate right now in the campaign. When it looks like you might not survive, there's always some infighting over strategy: many people critical of the senator's effort here in California, many of his in-state supporters saying he did not make a good effort here in the critical state of California.

The debate now will be does he get enough delegates and perhaps the beating Bush here in the popular vote. No one in the McCain campaign expects to get California's delegates. But does he get enough to go on? That will be the big question.

There's a debate next week as Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Southern states the governor's expected to win. If Senator McCain wants to get out with dignity, in the words of one top adviser, and if tomorrow goes poorly, they think he will withdraw from the race Thursday in Arizona. But the senator himself saying again today perhaps there's one more surprise left in this campaign -- Judy.

WOODRUFF; And John, you also -- we heard Senator McCain talking about Governor Bush's sleazy pals. Do we know what McCain thinks personally of the governor?

KING: All along, Senator McCain has said he considered Governor Bush a friend, then over the weekend he said he did not think the governor had run an honorable campaign. He said he would support Governor Bush if he were the Republican nominee and would even campaign for him in the fall, but then he added this condition in conversations on the bus and the airplane over the weekend. He said he would expect a significant change in the tone of the Bush campaign, and again, Senator McCain says the Republican nominee, no matter who that is, should not accept soft money.

Governor Bush, of course, says he will raise and spend soft money. So still significant differences, both from a campaign policy and tactics standpoint. And certainly, personally this relationship has deteriorated significantly.

Senator McCain was very angry when he saw a clip of the governor on the evening news last week. The governor was asked about Senator McCain's sister having breast cancer. Governor Bush said it was all the more reason to look at the senator's record on that issue. Senator McCain was visibly angry when he saw that. He said it's proof to him that Governor Bush is not ready for primetime.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King reporting from San Diego, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Governor Bush is also campaigning in California. And at least publicly, he seems to be trying to put some of the bad blood in the Republican race behind him.

CNN's Candy Crowley is traveling with Bush.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a tougher, meaner, longer race than he, or anyone else, expected, which is not all bad.

BUSH: There's nothing more humbling than the lose a few elections. It has been good for me, a candidate, to be -- to have good competition. My message is sharper. It's good for people who were wondering whether or not I could battle back.

CROWLEY: They're reading the Monday polls and the Bush camp is feeling pretty good about Super Tuesday: confident enough for the candidate to entertain questions about putting the pieces back together.

BUSH: I don't think the fractures is -- is much of a fracture. I really don't. Because I think one of the interesting facts of the primaries is that we've had large turnouts. John deserves credit for bringing people into the party. I deserve a lot credit, too, for exciting -- exciting the party and to bringing people together.

CROWLEY: Even as he sought to minimize the rift in the Republican Party, Bush was eager to go at Al Gore. Gore has suggested that an anti-McCain ad funded by a Bush supporter points out the need for campaign finance reform.

BUSH: The man must have amnesia when he's talking about campaign funding reform. He must have forgotten that he went to a Buddhist temple here in California raising money from people who made a vow of poverty. He must have forgotten that his close associate was indicted and convicted.

CROWLEY: Still, reconciliation and tolerance were the dominant themes Monday. An article in Monday morning's "San Francisco Chronicle" reported that Bush, who once declined to meet with a group of gay Republicans, known as Log Cabin Republicans, is now open to such a meeting. It is unclear whether that gesture to gay Republicans is incidental to or part of the effort to shake the specter of Bob Jones University.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a member of the Catholic church. What is this business I hear about you not liking Catholics?

BUSH: Yes, I appreciate that. Don't believe it. But I missed an opportunity to say that, you know, don't condemn a Catholic church. I missed an opportunity to say the Catholic church is a great church.

CROWLEY: At every turn now Bush uses the opportunity to speak out against intolerance of any sort to show voters the George Bush his supporters see.

BUSH: You're not going to agree with me 100 percent of the time, but I am a man who respects each individual.

CROWLEY: It is no coincidence that the centerpiece of this final pre-primary trip to California was a visit and speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

BUSH: I want to talk about the need in our society to, even though there are differences, to remember that it is important to respect others and respect their opinions.

CROWLEY: The center is a museum dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and furthering tolerance.


CROWLEY: Governor Bush has just finished his speech here at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He talked about the two great pillars of tolerance in this country. One he said was America itself and the unbreakable guarantees of the Constitution, and the other, he said -- the other pillar of tolerance is faith, adding, "We don't believe in tolerance in spite of our faith. We believe in tolerance because of our faith." A very somber address here, but one that was well received by the small crowd that came to see him -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Candy Crowley in Los Angeles -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Al Gore also is laying groundwork for his fall campaign, given the widely held view that tomorrow will be a decisive day in the Democratic race. And as CNN's Chris Black reports from New York, that means Gore has his sights more firmly set on Bush instead of Bill Bradley.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Al Gore is probing for the weak spots in George W. Bush's Texas record.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Governor Bush, you may be interested in this in light of some of the advertisements being paid for by special interests. Under his leadership, the state of Texas now ranks 49th in health insurance for children, and health insurance for women? Fiftieth, 50 out of 50.

BLACK: On the eve of a decisive moment in his campaign, Gore is touching base with key Democratic constituencies in New York, the United Jewish Appeal.

GORE: Israel is our friend. I support that relationship uncompromisingly.

BLACK: And Hispanic health care workers.

GORE: (speaking in Spanish)

BLACK: Gore campaign advisers expect him to emerge from the 16 Democratic contests as the prohibitive favorite for the nomination, with about 950 elected delegates and nearly 600 super delegates, about three-fourths of the number needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. As this chapter of his campaign closes, Gore is speaking kindly of his rival.

GORE: Senator Bradley has been good for me. I wouldn't have wanted it. I've run both ways and I preferred unopposed, but my preference would have been to my detriment, because the competition really has been a chance for me to dig deeper and find better ways to connect directly with the American people.

BLACK: And revealing the outline of a general election campaign, reaching for the campaign finance mantle with renewed energy.

GORE: The need for it is much greater than it was in the past, because the special interests have gotten bolder and they're trying to gain even more influence over the decisions made in our national government and we have to fight back.

BLACK: And painting Governor Bush as a pawn of special interests.

GORE: Now we knew that Governor Bush was in the hip pocket of the special interest. Now we find out what a deep pocket that is, $2.5 million all of a sudden flooding into these contests.


BLACK: Gore aides expect the vice president to call for a ban on soft money in the fall campaign tomorrow night as part of a process of defining George Bush and dramatizing the differences between Gore and someone they view as a vulnerable Republican opponent -- Bernie.

SHAW: Chris Black, thanks very much up on the roof in New York City.

Bill Bradley also chose to spend this Super Tuesday eve campaigning in New York. Once he had high hopes of winning the Empire State, but now CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports Bradley seems, more than anything else, to be keeping up appearances.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every campaign has elements of theater, but at this point, the Bradley campaign seems almost entirely so. Reality is kept at bay.

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't listen to the polls and pundits. Go to the polls and vote your convictions. Vote your heart. Vote for the future of this country. If you share my dream, make it your dream and help me make it our dream.

MESERVE: Bradley even manages little dashes of humor -- for instance, in his introduction of friend and supporter Lowell Weicker.

BRADLEY: Governor, senator, emperor, Lowell Weicker, thank you.

MESERVE: But the smiles fool no one. Polls show Bradley down in each and every one of the 15 states holding Democratic primaries or caucuses Tuesday. No predictions from this campaign about which states they will win because they may not win any at all.

So dismal is the outlook that the campaign spokesman has tried to get positive spin out of Maine state caucus results. They are largely irrelevant and Bradley lost, but not, the spokesman eagerly points out, by much.

ERIC HAUSER, BRADLEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We think we battled the usual forces of entrenched power and did very well and are doing very well in Maine and think that will be a good boost for tomorrow.

MESERVE: Though Bradley has seemed upbeat, even boisterous at times with his traveling press, there was moment during a speech to Bronx High School students Monday where one thought one glimpsed a man struggling to come to terms with what could be the largest public defeat of his life.

BRADLEY: Discipline yourself so that you will know that whatever abilities God gave you, that you have made the most of them and that you didn't fail to become what you could have become because you didn't work hard enough. Thank you very much.


MESERVE: There are no public admissions from the Bradley staff that the senator could be anywhere close to throwing in the towel. The advance staff has been given its marching order. The press has been told that the senator will be campaigning Thursday in Florida, but everyone knows that the down day on the schedule for Wednesday could be down in more ways than one for Bradley and his supporters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeanne Meserve reporting from New York, thanks.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to try a sample of these?

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the mall, girls are selling Girl Scout cookies. It's that time. It's election time, too, here in Thousand Oaks, population 120,000, mostly Republican. Their issues? Ask what brought them here.


WOODRUFF: Our Bruce Morton on what matters most in the suburbs and whether the candidates are hitting the right notes.


SHAW: No state has more delegates up for grabs tomorrow than California. And in the last year, the five major candidates still in the Democratic and Republican races spent more than 90 days campaigning in the Golden State. But are they connecting with California voters?

Our Bruce Morton ventured to the suburbs to find out.


MORTON (voice-over): In the mall, girls are selling Girl Scout cookies. It's that time. It's election time, too, here in Thousand Oaks, population 120,000, mostly Republican. Their issues? Ask what brought them here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Schools, the environment. Not as crowded.

MORTON: Mayor pro tem Daniel Del Campo.

MAYOR PRO TEM DANIEL DEL CAMPO, THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA: Urban sprawl, growth, the quality of life -- that plays an important role in the council elections every two years as to the quality of life, the slow growth versus pro-business.

MORTON: Population started zooming here 10 years ago and now houses sprout like crab grass.

How many houses, how many condos, how many families on how many hillsides -- suburbanites worry.

A lot of this is local. Presidential candidates talk past it.

DEL CAMPO: If they don't read the small-town newspaper, then they don't understand what's going on in the community and what's on people's mind.

MORTON: But one issue does concern suburbanites and candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We moved out here for the schools, for the public schools. We can't afford private schools.

DEL CAMPO: People, in fact, come to this community because of the school district. What's on their mind, though, is, you know, what's being taught in the schools, reform, the quality of education.

MORTON: Whether your child is in a stroller, on a scooter, or selling cookies, education is on every parent's mind. Are the candidates talking to the parents in Thousand Oaks?

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, POLITICAL ANALYST: George W. Bush is hitting hard on education, is hitting hard on parental choice, on parental involvement, and that resonates in suburbia. Al Gore is hitting hard on education, but he's also talking about sprawl, he's also talking about growth.

MORTON: At the mall, we found respect for John McCain the man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, my dad was a veteran, same war and everything, so that kind of -- he instantly had that going for him.

MORTON: Robert Sarto (ph) is kind of, sort of for Gore.

ROBERT SARTO: I think he's going to deal with the right issues, but I don't know if he's -- if the outcome will be to my liking, just with him president.

MORTON: Whoever they vote for, they share a concern: a good life and a good education for their kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?

MORTON: Bruce Morton, CNN, Thousand Oaks, California.


WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now for more on tomorrow's contests, in Washington, Mark Shields of CNN's "CAPITAL GANG," and here in Atlanta, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Gentlemen, let's start with California since that is what we just heard Bruce Morton talking about. At one point, wasn't it supposed to be competitive in both parties, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, it was, Judy. And it's always been the most important state in the entire Super Tuesday. And tomorrow is no exception. And right now, all hopes of Bill Bradley have faded from California, and John McCain's hopes for winning the beauty contest -- that is where all the votes are counted, not simply Republican votes -- are getting slimmer by the hour.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, what about California? I mean, at one point we thought it was really in play.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, you know, Bill Bradley went out after he left the Senate and spent several months. I think he taught at Stanford. We heard that he was working the Silicon Valley, making a lot of contacts. He certainly did well financially in Hollywood. People like Barry Diller, I believe, and Michael Eisner of Disney were contributors. So he did everything but make a campaign argument that persuaded Democrats to move away from a sitting vice president of a president who is popular in his own party, which is pretty fundamental.

As far as the Republicans go, you know, I remember about a year and a half ago -- I may have even been talking to Mark about it, saying, "Mark, do you happen to remember if the Republicans ever changed their winner take all policy, because the Democrats dropped it back after 1972?" And it turns out that that may turn out to be the single-most important decision in the campaign, was the Republican decision to keep the winner take all and confine that only to Republicans.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me broaden this out a little bit. Here we are on the eve of the day with the most primaries, the most delegates at stake, Mark. And we seem to be back where it all began with the same two front-runners who we thought were the front-runners a year ago. What happened?

SHIELDS: Well, Judy, I mean, John McCain, who was I think the most intriguing, interesting candidate of the -- and exciting, certainly, of this whole election year, fell into a trap that is -- that has bothered a number of candidates in the past: Nelson Rockefeller, former Republican governor of New York, Senator Henry M. Jackson, former Democrat from Washington.

In each case, Rockefeller was the Democrats' favorite Republican. Howard Baker of Tennessee was the Democrats' favorite Republican. And Scoop Jackson of Washington was the Republicans' favorite Democrat.

The problem is for such candidates, who broad appeal in a general election, the nominating process is controlled, influenced and ultimately determined by members of the their own party. And that's where they, all three, failed: Baker, Rockefeller and Jackson. They couldn't get the nominations of their own party. And that's what's happened to John McCain.

John McCain showed enormous appeal and brought in, you know, thousands of new voters as a candidate who was listed as a Republican but his appeal was essentially to independents and Democrats.

WOODRUFF: And Jeff, if that's what's been going on with McCain, what about with Senator Bradley?

GREENFIELD: You know, one of the reasons why you get such good odds on long shots is they don't come in that often.


Many people in a bankruptcy know that.

I don't believe in inevitable political rules, but the last time a sitting vice president of his own party was denied his party's nomination was Alvin Barkley in 1952, and that's a long time ago.

SHIELDS: That's right. GREENFIELD: You know, from the get-go, for all that he did well in organizing and money, Bill Bradley's fundamental challenge was how do you persuade members of his own party to desert the sitting vice president when times are so good. And I'm sure there will be lots of analysis. I think I said on "LARRY KING" "Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat has a thousand kibbitzers." But -- and they'll all tell you what Bradley did wrong, and the heartbeat story was a problem. But fundamentally, Gore persuaded the Democrats to stay with the guy that brung him.

WOODRUFF: I don't obviously -- nobody wants to be premature here. We're looking at polls, and we're all -- we really do want to wait for the votes to come in. But Mark , what would constitute a good showing for McCain tomorrow, and for Bradley for that matter?

SHIELDS: Well, I think in John McCain's case it's easy, and that is to sweep or win four of the five New England states, win New York and a majority of delegates in New York, and to win the California beauty contest or Ohio.

I mean, I think he has to win at this point to stop the Bush momentum, the sense of inevitability about the bush candidacy. He has to win two of the three big states.

WOODRUFF: And Bradley?

SHIELDS: In Bradley's case, you know, Judy, I think Bill Bradley came to terms with his campaign last week. I was with him in California at a number of events, particularly at UCLA. And there's a sense of acceptance, a sense of tranquility. I don't really want to sound like Francis (ph) Kubler-Ross and the seven stages, but he's there. He's at acceptance. And I don't -- I don't think that -- you know, I couldn't come up with a scenario that's going to say, gee, Al Gore is in trouble.

I mean, you could -- Jeff's mention of the heart -- this has been a cardiac campaign in an important respect in that Bill Bradley's revealed his heart wasn't perfect and George W. Bush has told us his heart is good, that he has a good heart. And I don't know what Bill Bradley can do.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, on McCain, do you accept Mark's scenario there that -- that McCain would have to do well in two or three states in order to be considered doing well?

GREENFIELD: Yes. The problem is a little like, you know, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid standing at that cliff. And the Sundance Kid said, you know, "I can't swim." And Butch says, "Don't worry, the fall will probably kill you."

The problem with McCain is unless he can persuade the Republican Party that there's a dynamic at work here, that the ground is shifting, he -- assuming he survives tomorrow -- then he faces a March 14th in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma. And it's very difficult to see how John McCain does well in those states. I mean, it's not every guy that goes into a state where a guy and his brother are governors of the two largest states at stake.

So without a victory in New York, without a victory somewhere else, the blanket primary in California, somehow pulling out a victory in Ohio -- the numbers just begin to look terrible. It's not a matter of a premature burial. It's just looking ahead and saying, how does it happen?

WOODRUFF: Well, on behalf of Butch Cassidy and Francis Kubler- Ross, I want to thank you both. Mark Shields, Jeff Greenfield, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: And there's still much more ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come...


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A bellwether: a bit urban, a bit suburban, a bit rural; a place with a kind of genius for being not unusual.


SHAW: Bill Delaney on one Ohio's county record as presidential predictor. Who will voters choose this time around?

Plus preparing for tomorrow's big races: Our Bill Schneider takes a look at who's ahead, who's trailing, and who's in the home stretch.

And later, tomorrow's delegate forecast: Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook look at the candidates and how they are likely to do in the delegate race.


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

A guilty verdict in the second trial involving the 1997 attack on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. A federal court jury in New York today convicted police officers Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder and former officer Charles Schwarz of conspiring to obstruct justice. Prosecutors say the three lied to protect Schwarz. Louima spent two months in the hospital after he was brutally beaten in a precinct restroom.

SHAW: That Southwest Airlines plane that skidded off a Burbank, California runway last night is back on airport property. Cranes were used today to move it off the street.

And CNN's Greg LaMotte has more on the incident.


GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passengers said the plane was traveling too fast when it hit the runway. Seconds later, the Southwest 737 from Las Vegas to Burbank skidded off the runway, crashed through an airport fence, crossed a five-lane highway, hit two cars and came to a rest just short of a gas station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm watching the Chevron station approach, and that had me nervous, and it was just some miracle; somebody stopped that plane.

LAMOTTE: A handful of people, including the pilot, were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. They were treated and released. The passengers in the cars were not hurt but said they were in a state of shock. Five crew members were on board, along with 137 passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People were yelling, we've got to get off, because things were falling down from the ceiling, the panels were falling down from the ceiling.

LAMOTTE: The plane came to a rest nose down, it's front landing gear destroyed, shortly after 6:00 p.m. local time Sunday. The wings were badly damaged, the fuselage was cracked and pieces of fence were embedded in the plane's engines.

HERB KELLEHER, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CEO: I would have to say, from looking at the scene as I've seen it, it appears that there's a good chance it might be a total loss.

LAMOTTE: Cranes were used to lift the plane and help push it back through the fence it crashed into, eventually to be taken to a hangar for investigation. The plane received a service check March 2. The airline says no anomalies were discovered. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, which could have been disastrous had the plane actually crashed into the gas station.

Greg LaMotte, CNN, Burbank, California.


WOODRUFF: Overseas, planes and helicopters are crisscrossing Mozambique, dropping off tons of food and other supplies after weeks of flooding. However, there is growing bitterness in the southern African nation over why it took the international community so long to respond.

SHAW: The United States census bureau wants churches to help it gather information on what it calls hard-to-count populations. Religious and civil rights leaders are outlining a plan to convince people they won't get in trouble if they fill out the census forms. Among those being targeted, new residents and illegal immigrants.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, stark political realities from a bellwether county in Ohio.


WOODRUFF: New polls show George W. Bush and Al Gore with huge leads in Ohio, which offers the third biggest delegate prize in tomorrow's pivotal round of primaries. But might one part of the state with a history of picking winners go against the grain? CNN's Bill Delaney traveled to Stark County to find out.


DELANEY (voice-over): As for the matter of electing presidents, Stark County, Ohio is the heart of the matter, having voted as the nation voted in every election for the past 30 years, except when Jimmy Carter won in 1976; a bellwether, a bit urban, a bit suburban, a bit rural, a place with a kind of genius for being not unusual, which is the beauty of the place to Shane Jackson, chief deputy clerk of courts in the town of Massillon.

SHANE JACKSON, DEPUTY CLERK OF COURTS: So it's a nice mix, you know? The people, for the most part, are good people and it has a strong sense of community. You've got a close to an even mix of Republicans and Democrats, and a lot of Independents.

DELANEY: In Tuesday's primary, Vice President Al Gore is expected to easily defeat Bill Bradley on the Democratic side. It's the Republican race where Stark's independent streak could kick in. It's a county, after all, that in '92 and '96 voted much bigger numbers for insurgent Ross Perot than the rest of the country did. This year, many are tantalized by -- guess who.

JACKSON: John McCain. There's a strong support for John McCain, I think. There are Republicans and Democrats and Independents, and I have a couple of friends who aren't political who didn't plan on voting but they've really been taken with John McCain.

DELANEY: The sort of thing, of course, heard in a lot of places this primary season. The sort of thing also shadowed in a lot of places by what's also a reality in Stark.

JACKSON: Bush will beat McCain in Stark County.

DELANEY: Huh? Well, whatever enthusiasm McCain's generated among new or usually unenthusiastic voters, they will likely be outvoted by Stark County's enthusiastic and well-organized Republican establishment for Bush.

(on camera): As for reading the political tea leaves here in Stark County for next November, a betting man might conclude, don't bet on it -- not yet anyway. With no one issue dominant here, no war, no economic crisis, no one vision of the future, no one candidate is dominant either.

(voice-over): Deputy clerk Jackson says he wouldn't dare predict the winner of a Gore-Bush match-up this fall in Stark. He will predict some will be turned off by it.

JACKSON: Friends I talk to who support McCain, you know, aren't real enthusiastic about Bush and aren't real enthusiastic about Gore. And just as quickly as they entered politics and voting for the first time, I think they'll leave just as quickly.

DELANEY: What will be interesting to see: whether in this scenario, too, as Stark goes, so goes the nation.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Massillon, Ohio.


SHAW: Ohio is one of 11 states holding presidential primaries tomorrow.

And our Bill Schneider joins us now with the big picture.

What do the latest polls show in those 11?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, boy. Well, let's line them up and move them out. First, the GOP line-up: Start with the states where John McCain is leading. McCain with a single- digit lead in one state: Maine -- just four points. That one could go either way. Well, as Maine goes, so goes Vermont. A little bigger lead for McCain, in the teens. McCain's biggest lead? The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, George McGovern's lone state in 1972. It's now showing a 30-point lead for McCain over Bush.

Now what do Maine and Vermont and Massachusetts all have in common? They all border New Hampshire. If John McCain wants to become president of New England, he's well on his way. In all the rest of tomorrow's primary states, Bush is in the lead. But, you know, some of them are very close.

SHAW: What are the close ones?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Bush has a single-digit lead among all California voters. That's Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everybody. This race doesn't count when it comes to choosing delegates. Only registered Republican voters can do that. But McCain is fighting hard to win this beauty contest so he can claim a mandate to keep going. The two latest polls both show Bush six points ahead of McCain in that California beauty contest. Too close to call. Bush also has a single-digit lead in Connecticut.

Why is Connecticut the most pro-Bush New England state? Well, possibly because Governor Bush's grandfather was a Connecticut senator. But, you know, more likely because Connecticut is the only New England state with a closed primary, restricted to Republicans only.

And the Big Apple, the giant knish, the great cannoli: New York. The latest polls show Bush with a very narrow lead in the Empire State, just four or five points ahead of McCain, who has been endorsed by all the major newspapers in the New York City area.

Now, stop right there. If McCain can win all the states I've mentioned so far -- New England, plus New York plus the beauty contest in California, he's going to claim a mandate to go on. Winning New York and California, you know, is not nothing, even if McCain doesn't get any delegates in California.

SHAW: None of the other states are closer? SCHNEIDER: Well, no, not especially. Bush's lead is in the teens in Missouri, 12 to 14 points in the latest polls. Among California Republicans, Bush is running more than 20 points ahead. All the delegates are awarded to the winner of that California contest, which doesn't look like much of a contest. Bush's lead is also in the 20s in Maryland and in Ohio, the third biggest state voting tomorrow. Ohio has an open primary just like Michigan. But it's not voting like Michigan. There's a Democratic race on the ballot in Ohio tomorrow, which was not the case in Michigan last month. That may keep Ohio Democrats from crossing over to vote for John McCain.

And finally, Georgia, right here, where Bush has a huge lead -- 30 to 40 points. Georgia is voting just like South Carolina and Virginia did, only a little bit more so.

SHAW: Can't let you leave without asking you one simple last question: What about the Democrats?

SCHNEIDER: I've heard of them. You know, not much of a story there. Bradley is not ahead in a single state. Not one. In fact, every state voting tomorrow shows Gore with a double-digit lead. For Bradley to win anything tomorrow would be a surprise. For him to win two major states, which he says he must to carry on, that would be a miracle -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.

Well, up next: Translating poll numbers into delegates with political analysts Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook.


SHAW: Joining us now from Washington, Stu Rothenberg of the "Rothenberg Political Report," and Charlie Cook of the "National Journal."

Charlie, starting with you first: How do you expect McCain to fare nationwide on Super Tuesday tomorrow?

CHARLIE COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, clearly, as Bill pointed out, McCain's going to do great in New England. New York is awfully close, can go either way. But for him to survive, for him to keep going, he's got to win outside of the Northeast. I mean, he absolutely has to win New York, but then he needs to win someplace else. He needs to break through Ohio, he needs to pull of an upset in California. Someplace like that he's got to win if he's going to remain viable after tomorrow. And obviously I don't think it's going to happen, but that's what he's got to do.

SHAW: Of course, the numbers don't look good in Connecticut. They don't look good in Missouri either.

COOK: Well, but at the same -- yes, absolutely. But remember, we've been shocked -- we were shocked by the margin in New Hampshire, we were shocked in South Carolina, we were shocked in Michigan. You know, I'm not expecting to be surprised, but, gosh, we have to be ready for it.

SHAW: Stu Rothenberg, how do you think McCain will do tomorrow and why?

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, Bernie, I don't expect him to do particularly well. I mean, I'm hoping to result here, but I think part of the problem is the winner-take-all in California means 162 delegates for Bush. Bush looks like he's swamping McCain in Georgia. And even where we're talking about possibly McCain pulling an upset in New York State with 101 delegates, you know, they assign delegates on the basis of congressional districts, and you have to wonder how -- whether McCain is going to do so well statewide that he's going to sweep delegates. That seems unlikely to me. I would guess that Bush would do pretty well in the more conservative upstate areas among loyal Republicans in congressional districts.

So the problem for McCain is, even where he's going to win, A, he's going to win in some smaller states with few delegates. But even if he does well in New York, he's going to split the delegates with Bush.

SHAW: Everybody thinks about McCain's past performance, 19-point victory in New Hampshire, the swing voters in Michigan. Tell us, both of you, what do you think is going to happen if McCain fails to do well tomorrow, if he doesn't get the nomination, drops out of the race. What will happen to McCain's swing voters?

COOK: Well, clearly you had great turnout figures everywhere since Iowa and because of that, McCain has clearly pulled into the political process a bunch of people who don't normally participate. And we always have -- unlike Europe, we have center left, center right parties.

I think that both Bush and Gore are going to be crowding the center more than ever before, but they're also going to have to come up with some kind of -- their own variations of this outsider message to try to reach out to those people that early on were looking at Bradley, more recently looking at McCain. They have to find out a way to reach out to those people that are sort of the newer generation version of Perot voters, they have to do it if they are going to win the general election.

SHAW: Stu.

ROTHENBERG: Bernie, I'd agree. I think that what happens is John McCain suddenly becomes the prettiest girl at the dance and both sides try to woo McCain supporters. I think there probably is an advantage for Bush. You've got to assume on this ballot test with Bush continuing to do well against Al Gore that swing voters are tending toward him.

If they were going toward Gore, I think you would see Gore opening up a significant general election lead. That hasn't happened. So I think Bush has an advantage among them, but it is certainly not over. I mean, we have a very competitive general election if it is Bush against Gore.

COOK: But, Bernie, I think also one of the things to take apart, why were these people gravitating toward John McCain? And I think it was sort of three parts hero for every one part outsider maverick in the sense that I think a lot of voters wanted to put the presidency back up on the same pedestal that it used to be, restore sort of faith, honor.

So the idea of going to a war hero, going to someone that's shown sort of the courage and personal fortitude out there, that is what that is all about. So I think both Gore and Bush have a challenge of trying to look and appear presidential, someone that's not going to embarrass the country, I think that is very, very important.

SHAW: If you would -- both of you -- a succinctly stated thought about former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, Charlie?

COOK: I -- boy, that's tough. He was a concept candidate that never was able to reach out and broaden his message beyond the sort of intellectual message that really went way over the heads of a lot of voters. It never was a broad message and he never connected on a personal level beyond that group.

ROTHENBERG: I'll confess, Bernie. For a while I thought he would be where John McCain was a few days ago. His early fund raising was so terrific, he had a good story of his own, just didn't sell over the long haul.

SHAW: Stu Rothenberg, Charlie Cook, guys, thanks a lot, see you tomorrow.

And still ahead, contemplating the impact of Super Tuesday. Our Jeff Greenfield on looking beyond the wins and the losses.


WOODRUFF: Joining us once again on the eve of the big March 7th primaries, our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, Judy.

You know, on this day when the political world is consumed by one question, "who's going to win?," let's pause and offer up a word for the losers.

Even if politics is a contact sport, it is hard not to feel a pang of sympathy here for those who fall by the wayside, especially since the only way they become presidential losers is to have had an incredibly successful public life. Consider Orrin Hatch: a senator for some 24 years, chairman of a powerful committee. Elevators are held for him; presidents defer to him; and then he enters the presidential race and he becomes the invisible man. Consider Dan Quayle: congressman, senator, vice president before his 40th birthday. Now he's something between a footnote and a punchline.

And consider Bill Bradley: champion athlete, Rhodes scholar, senator in his 30s, a future president from his undergraduate days, praised for so long as thoughtful, now scorned as the man who wouldn't fight. And as for the media piling on, ask yourself: If Bradley were leading in the polls, would they really have used this shot that looks as if he were begging for spare change?

Yes, Harry Truman was right when he said, "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." But tomorrow, as the winners bask in the spotlight, we ought to think just for a moment on those left behind in the shadows.

WOODRUFF: Memorable picture of Bill Bradley.

GREENFIELD: "Politics ain't beanbag," as Mr. Dooley said.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Yes.

Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but you can go online all the time at CNN's

WOODRUFF: And these programming notes: Our Wolf Blitzer will anchor a special two-hour edition of INSIDE POLITICS tomorrow starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. And Bernie and I and the rest of the CNN election team will be here starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for complete coverage throughout the evening.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. We'll be right back with "WORLDVIEW," coming up next.


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