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Senate Passes Bill Repealing Limits on Income for Social Security Recipients; Gore and Bush Reaching out for Congressional SupportAired March 22, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: This is a mutual admiration and mutual aid society that we're involved in. We're helping one another.
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BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Congressional Democrats and Al Gore insist there is no daylight between them. Gore isn't the only one building election-year bridges on the Hill. But will a certain Republican's efforts backfire?
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COLIN POWELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: You have to listen to the president and see whether or not it's something that you feel you can do for the president. So you have to consider it.
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SHAW: Does that sound like a man interested in becoming Secretary Powell?
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: Thank you for joining us. Judy is on assignment.
We begin with something of a rarity, especially in an election year: legislation both parties agree on -- unanimously, no less. The Senate gave final congressional approval today to a measure repealing limits on income for Social Security recipients.
CNN's Chris Black has more on the Hill and how it may score points with a politically powerful group: older Americans.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aurellia Clontz, a part-time bookkeeper at a Washington restaurant is hoping to work as many hours as she wants next year, collect Social Security and incur no penalty.
The bill allowing her to earn as much as she wants passed the Senate Wednesday without a single dissenting vote, as it did earlier in the House.
SEN. WILLIAM ROTH (R-DE), FINANCE CHAIRMAN: This repeal is good for seniors, it's good for America, and it's good government.
BLACK: Republicans highlighted the plight of Mrs. Clontz and 800,000 other retirees in their late 60s who under current law now lose some of their Social Security benefits if they earn more than $17,000.
Mrs. Clontz says the new law will allow her to work more.
AURELLIA CLONTZ: This way I keep active. My mind keeps, you know, sharp and up to what's going on.
BLACK: Republicans are hoping the bill will protect them from Democratic charges the GOP is not doing enough to protect Social Security.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott singled out for special praise three Republican senators all up for reelection this year, and each targeted by Democrats.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: But all of these senators have been pushing on this issue and insisting that we do this.
BLACK: One of those endangered Republicans is Senator John Ashcroft.
SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: Of course anytime you do a good job, you're going to have an enhanced capacity to campaign effectively.
BLACK: Eliminating the earnings limit was part of the Republicans' Contract with America six years ago. Democrats had resisted it, preferring it come as part of a broader reform in Social Security. But times change.
DASCHLE: We just didn't think we had to hold the millions of seniors hostage to that day when some comprehensive reform can be enacted.
BLACK: While praising the vote, some in the Senate said a larger issue looms: making Sure Social security has enough money to operate after the year 2017. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a longtime proponent of sweeping changes in Social Security, urged his colleagues not to wait too long.
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D), NEW YORK: Let us hope one day we do it before it becomes too late, and that time will come sooner than you may think.
BLACK: In a statement issued in India, President Clinton urged Congress to build on the bipartisan vote and make more changes in Social Security. But it is an election year, and lawmakers say prospects for dramatic change this year are nonexistent -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Chris Black on the Hill.
The election year maneuvering on Hill today goes well beyond the vote on Social Security. Al Gore drooped by for a show of party unity.
As our Patty Davis reports, the glue in the Democrat's bonding experience is their desire to win.
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In their first meeting since he clinched the Democratic nomination, Vice President Al Gore met with House Democrats on Capitol Hill.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was more of a reunion and discussion of where we go from here.
DAVIS: Their goal, to keep a Democrat in the White House and take back control of the House of Representatives by picking up six seats in the fall. Gore and the Democratic leaders glossed over their differences. including China trade, and touted party unity.
GEPHARDT: I have never seen a campaign for the presidency where the presidential candidate is as in line and together with the Democratic caucus as this campaign for the presidency.
DAVIS: Gore campaign officials say the vice president plans to campaign alongside House Democrats and rally around a common agenda.
GORE: Can I sit down with you?
DAVIS: That agenda includes education. Gore announced Wednesday he's backing a Democratic bill to rebuild schools. Another big issue, campaign finance reform. Gore and Hill Democrats are trying to make the issue their own and blunt Republican attacks on questionable Democratic fund-raising in 1996.
GORE: There is one Texas-sized obstacle to campaign finance reform, and that's Governor Bush.
DAVIS: Bush hasn't embraced Gore's call for a ban on unregulated soft money. Gore is refusing to go it alone, so Wednesday, he put his fund-raising muscle to work in Washington D.C., raising $700, 000 for the Democratic National Committee.
(on camera): And Gore plans to raise much more for the Democratic Party, attending fund-raisers in Cincinnati, Detroit and Houston later this week.
Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: Gov. George W. Bush sent an emissary to the Hill today to meet with congressional leaders. But Bush's former opponent, John McCain, stole the spotlight, as he positioned himself as a helpmate of House Republicans.
Our Jonathan Karl reports on those overtures and the Democratic spin surrounding them.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Venturing to the other side of the Capitol, John McCain rallied House Republicans, promising to campaign for GOP candidates, even if they disagree with him on campaign finance reform.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think that I should impose a litmus test on anybody who I think shares my values, my philosophy and my principals.
KARL: House Republican leaders say McCain is key to keeping control of the House, but Democrats insist the strategy will backfire.
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D-RI), CHAIR DEMOCRATIC CONG. COMMITTEE: We couldn't have choreographed a better use of John McCain in a general election, to go around to all of their most vulnerable Republicans and highlight the fact that they're all wrong on the principal issue of concern to most voters who love John McCain.
KARL: But if McCain wants to help the GOP maintain control of the House, he can't limit his support to Republicans who agree with his signature issue. Democrats have compiled a list of 27 vulnerable GOP incumbents who voted against campaign finance reform. McCain will have to campaign for some of them.
Also on Capitol Hill was Bush campaign manager Joe Albaugh, meeting with congressional leaders. Now that Bush has clinched the nomination, he is working to solidify his power over the party, and that means exerting influence, if not control, over the congressional agenda.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R-MO), DEPUTY MAJORITY WHIP: An important part of that is not as much coordination as communication. We need to know what the campaign's talking about. They need to know the realities we're dealing with in the Congress. We're on parallel tracks that have a mutual benefit at the end.
KARL: Governor Bush's pointman in the House says that one thing that Congress won't be doing is voting now on all of Bush's campaign proposals.
BLUNT: I think the Bush agenda really doesn't have life until after he becomes president, and I think he understands that.
KARL: Like John McCain, Governor Bush has also volunteered to campaign for House Republicans, but for those -- for now at least, for those in those critical swing districts where the battle for the House will be most intense, it is John McCain who is in more demand -- Bernie.
SHAW: Jonathan, what are you hearing about one of the few Republican senators who endorsed McCain getting ready to switch?
KARL: Well, as a matter of fact, McCain was only endorsed by four of his fellow senators here. One of those, Fred Thompson, had already endorsed Bush sometime ago. But right now, we are hearing that Senator Jon Kyl, fellow Arizona senator, has agreed, has told the Bush people that he will come out and endorse Governor Bush and do that shortly.
SHAW: Thank you, Jonathan Karl, on the Hill.
Now, an update on an issue that has been prominent in the presidential race and some Congressional contests as well: gun control. House Republicans introduced a bill today designed to reduce gun crimes by encouraging states to more vigorously prosecute criminals who use guns. The measure was championed by the National Rifle Association, which has accused the Clinton administration of being lax in its enforcement of gun laws. This, as the White House Doled out new punishment for gun makers who refused to follow Smith & Wesson's lead and cut a deal on gun safety.
That story from CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reward and punishment, the latest move in the president's strategy of going around Congress to get gun control. Police who patrol federal housing and officers in 30 cities will now carry only Smith & Wesson guns.
ANDREW CUOMO, HOUSING SECRETARY: When we choose a product, we choose the safer product, and we choose the company that is doing the most to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
GARRETT: Cuomo says the government buys nearly 30 percent of all guns sold each year, and Smith & Wesson will get all that business for agreeing to child-proof its guns and run background checks on all new gun buyers.
Rival gun makers Glock and Browning have rejected the president's gun safety deal.
BRUCE REED, CLINTON DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: We believe that the more companies look at this, the more they realize that this is good for their business and good for the country. GARRETT: Glock said there was no way it would submit to government supervision.
One of the gun lobby's strongest supporters in Congress says the White House is bullying gun makers.
REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: If it cannot get what it wants through legislation, then they have now decided, well, we'll now browbeat private entities -- in this case corporations that manufacture a legal product -- into doing what we want.
GARRETT: The White House is betting that the carrot of more business and the stick of threatened lawsuits will bring gun makers inboard. Meanwhile, the stalemate over gun control in Congress continues: all the more reason White House officials say, to take their gun-safety case straight to the gun makers -- Bernie.
SHAW: Major, you keep a close eye on things happening on the Hill. Any new developments up there today?
GARRETT: Well, yes. Senator Hatch, who is the point person for the Republicans on the conference committee on pending gun control legislation, sent President Clinton a letter today asking him to allow Senator Hatch to separate the issue of a juvenile justice bill from the gun control issue. But Bruce Reed, the president's chief domestic adviser, told CNN earlier this afternoon the president will not accept such a deal. So it appears, Bernie, the stalemate will continue, at least for a while.
SHAW: It certainly does. Major Garrett at the White House.
And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS...
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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The rule is, if there are no big issues to talk about, then little things become very big.
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SHAW: Bill Schneider with flashbacks to campaigns past for a look at what history tells us about the current White House race.
SHAW: George W. Bush and Al Gore scored easy victories, as expected, in yesterday's Illinois primaries. Bush finished with 67 percent in the Republican contest. Gore picked up 84 percent on the Democratic side.
But what can we expect when the two go head to head in November?
Our Bill Schneider takes a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SCHNEIDER (on camera): The polls, which have shown George W. Bush ahead of Al Gore for the past year, are now closing up. This election could be a close shave.
It's happened in presidential elections before: five times, to be precise. And those campaigns tell us something about what we can expect this time.
(voice-over): Five times in American history, a presidential election has been decided by less than 1 percent of the vote: three times in the 1880s and twice in the 1960s.
It's hard to call the 1880 election a close shave when you look at the two candidates. The issues were irrelevant. The campaign turned on the behavior and private lives of the candidates.
Republican James Garfield was attacked for receiving a $329 bribe from a railroad. Democrats retaliated by forging Garfield's name on a letter advocating the admission of Chinese laborers to California. Thousands of copies were reproduced and distributed on the West Coast.
Garfield won by the closest margin in American history: fewer than 2,000 votes out of over 9 million cast. But that doesn't come close to the raucousness surrounding the 1884 race.
The Republicans nominated James G. Blaine, a candidate immersed in so many scandals that Democrats called him, "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine."
When the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, acknowledged that he may have fathered a child out of wedlock, Republicans marched through the streets chanting: "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha."
Blaine's fate was sealed in the days leading up to the election when he failed to disavow a supporter who called Democrats the party of "rum, Romanism, and rebellion," effectively ceding the Catholic vote to his rival.
It didn't help when the next evening Blaine attended a sumptuous banquet at Delmonico's restaurant hosted by the wealthiest men in the country. Cleveland became the first Democrat to win the White House in 24 years.
When he ran for re-election in 1888, Cleveland ended up with almost 100,000 more votes than his Republican opponent, Benjamin Harrison. But Harrison carried the electoral vote and won the election. It was one of only two elections in American history when a presidential candidate lost the popular vote and still won.
Fast forward to 1960, and you find another campaign where the issues were elusive. Richard Nixon ran on the Eisenhower record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, SEPTEMBER 20, 1960) RICHARD NIXON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have developed more hydroelectric power in these 7 1/2 years than was developed in any previous administration in history.
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SCHNEIDER: John F. Kennedy promised to get the country moving again.
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JOHN F. KENNEDY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now entering age of the missile gap.
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SCHNEIDER: Unbelievably, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had to write a book explaining to liberals why it made a difference whether Kennedy or Nixon got elected. The campaign was dominated by the first televised debates, not especially by what was said...
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KENNEDY: The question really is which candidate and which party can meet the problems that the United States is going to face in the '60s.
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SCHNEIDER: ... more by how the candidates looked. In the end, Lyndon Johnson's influence in Texas and mayor Richard J. Daley's influence in Illinois decided the outcome by the second-smallest margin in American history, less than one-quarter of 1 percent.
Then there's the 1968 election, when there were plenty of dramatic issues: racial violence, student protests, tragic assassinations, convention riots, and the war in Vietnam. But the major party candidates spent most of the campaign avoiding those issues.
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HUBERT H. HUMPHREY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One nation, under God, not under dictatorship.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE NIXON ANSWER, OCTOBER 4, 1968")
NIXON: I believe I've found some solutions to those problems. They're new solutions for the new world. They aren't the old solutions of 30 years ago, most of which Mr. Humphrey now is advocating.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER: In fact, the 1968 election was a massive repudiation of President Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Party. It was close only because the anti-LBJ vote was split between Nixon and George Wallace. Wallace carried five Southern states and almost threw the election into the House of Representatives.
In a close election, everything matters, and it's likely to get very nasty.
(on camera): The rule is, if there are no big issues to talk about, then little things become very big. So don't expect a high- minded, philosophical campaign this year. More likely, as we've already seen with the John McCain phenomenon, the biggest issue in this campaign is likely to be the campaign.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: And joining us now, David Broder of "The Washington Post."
Dave, do you agree this race is going to be neck and neck?
DAVID BRODER, "WASHINGTON POST": It may end up being a land slide, but starting out it's clearly a very close race. Whether you look at the polls, which have these folks now that Gore has closed up the difference that was there earlier in the year, virtually tied in terms of popular support, or whether you look at the electoral college map, it looks to be a very tight race starting out.
SHAW: Why? You've got a Republican. You've got a Democrat. You've got a moderate or liberal, and you've got a conservative.
BRODER: Well, if you look behind the personal ratings of these two candidates, what you see, Bernie, is that the two great parties in this country are virtually at parity in terms of their public support: House of Representatives, within six seats of each other. That reflects how closely the country is divided as to whether they want Republicans or Democrats writing their laws.
But also I think with new candidates, neither of whom is the incumbent president, people are still going to try to take a measure of these two people. Both of them I think looked strong in defeating strong opponents in the primaries and they looked to be estimable candidates. The voters are going to probably take their time. I wouldn't be surprised if we went into the last couple of weeks of this election still seeing it look very, very close.
SHAW: Now, when people awakened to "The Washington Post" this morning and had their coffee or tea they saw that you wrote among other things in your column, "when voters cannot figure out what the election is about, they tend to place emphasis on moral values," which you say "prove to be a boon to Republicans." Explain.
BRODER: I think the moral values package of issues includes everything, Bernie, from concern about violence in shootings in school, gang violence, the sort of hostage situation which we've just seen here in Maryland next door, from that to questions about whether religion is somehow being displaced by Hollywood values that people feel much less comfortable with, and it also includes, frankly, the residue of the president's scandal in Washington in 1998. So that's a set of issues I think on which Republicans feel more comfortable perhaps talking and decrying the current situation than the vice president and the Democrats do.
SHAW: Well, conversely, you make the point that Governor Bush is better positioned to battle Gore for the center of American politics?
BRODER: He is because his whole politics in Texas was one that reached out to the whole electorate of Texas. He was not trying to sort of segment there and get the votes of the Anglos and put the Latinos and African-Americans in a different camp. He was trying to campaign to all those people, and I think in a general election you will see him doing that again.
The Democrats are still in terms of party preference somewhat the majority party in this country, and Gore has had greater success so far in uniting the Democrats behind his candidacy than Bush has in uniting the Republicans. That, too, spells a very close race.
SHAW: It does. And tactically, whom do you think will be a better general election candidate?
BRODER: I don't think we can tell yet. I think if you said which candidate improved the most during the primaries, I'd say Al Gore came on stronger at the end compared to where he was at the beginning of the primaries than did George Bush improve. But Bush has had more experience running general election campaigns than he ever had in Republican primaries and I look for him to be a better candidate in the general election than the fellow that we've seen up to this point.
SHAW: One quick question, you would expect that given what you said about the moral issues out there, certain groups will be getting a lot of attention from the candidates and one of them we hear so much about now are soccer moms.
BRODER: Soccer moms. And one of the interesting things that we're seeing in the polls now is that married women, whether they stay at home or work during the day, tend to be much more supportive of Governor Bush than they do Vice President Gore.
It's the single women who are giving the Democrats the so-called gender gap and how that plays out is going to be very interesting. Education will be a key issue in this campaign, and it's going to be again a highly competitive issue. Republicans are not conceding that issue to the Democrats this time.
SHAW: David Broder, "The Washington Post," thanks very much.
In Illinois' 10th Congressional District, money doesn't always equal victory, at least that's how Republican Mark Kirk sees it. Kirk bested a field of 10 Republican candidates in the primary race for retiring Congressman John Porter's seat. Kirk had Porter's endorsement, but he lacked the financial resources of his wealthy opponents.
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MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: As you know, I was not one of the six millionaires in this race.
KIRK: I needed a help. I needed a lot of help.
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SHAW: Kirk credits the hard work of his all-volunteer staff. He will face Democratic state representative Lauren Beth Gash in November.
There's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
Still to come, the enduring appeal of Colin Powell. Our Bruce Morton on the most popular Republican when it comes to name-dropping.
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BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jesse Ventura may be out of the ring and out of the Reform Party, but control over that party's future still looks like a wrestling match, with the two fighting factions squaring off in federal court.
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SHAW: Our Beth Fouhy on the battle for control of the Reform Party.
And later: Can John McCain make the most of his reform agenda now that he's back on the Hill? We're going to ask Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson here on INSIDE POLITICS.
SHAW: We'll have more on the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories.
The pope's Mideast journey today took him to the birthplace of Christianity. John Paul II celebrated mass at Manger Square in Bethlehem. It was an emotional stop, one he called the "heart" of his weeklong visit to the Holy Land. The trip took on a somewhat political overtone when the pontiff visited a Palestinian refugee camp. He was accompanied by Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. While he was in the West Bank, Pope John Paul spoke of the Palestinians' "natural right" to a homeland.
President Clinton addressed India's parliament today and he urged an end to the nuclear race with Pakistan. The legislators applauded many of his statements, but were conspicuously silent during that portion of the president's speech. Mr. Clinton then turned to sightseeing and he fulfilled a lifelong dream by visiting the Taj Mahal. Referring to the pollution-damaged walls of the palace, he said India should not let economic interests get in the way of environmentalism.
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WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the experience of the beautiful Taj Mahal proves and as the struggle to save the Ganges proves, we can no longer ignore man's impact on the environment.
Pollution has managed to do was 350 years of wars, invasions and natural disasters have failed to do. It has begun to mar the magnificent walls of the Taj Mahal.
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SHAW: Here in Washington, sources in the Justice Department are telling CNN the Elian Gonzalez case won't be allowed to drag on indefinitely. The Cuban child's Miami family is trying to win an asylum hearing. Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that Attorney General Janet Reno can make that decision. But Reno insists the boy's father is the only one who can speak for him, and the father wants the boy returned to Cuba.
Police in North Carolina are trying to determine what sent a minivan hurtling backward, killing a 10-year-old boy and injuring six other children. The driver had just dropped off two children at a middle school when the van lurched into reverse. It plowed across a lawn and into a group of children. Two students are still in critical condition.
A simple blood test is better at predicting heart attacks than cholesterol screenings. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say a test for c-reactive protein lets doctors know if a patient's arteries are inflamed. Scientists believe heart attacks are triggered when the inflammation causes fatty deposits to break off and clog an artery.
When INSIDE POLITICS returns, Colin Powell's mystique and the Reform Party's feuding.
SHAW: Now the latest evidence that when Colin Powell speaks, politicians, especially Republicans, listen. The former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff left the door open yesterday to serving as a Cabinet member.
Our Bruce Morton looks at the renewed speculation about Powell's political future.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colin Powell, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a war the United States won, author whose book tours drew more television cameras than most book tours draw readers, was firm about one thing: He was a soldier, not a pol.
POWELL: I am not seeking any political office in 1996 at any level. I'm a private citizen and I'll be practicing my politics in private for this year.
MORTON: He made some appearances for Bob Dole, but stayed a private citizen. Same thing this time, as in this Q&A session at the Reserve Officers Association this week.
POWELL: I have no desire for political office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That includes the vice president.
POWELL: Now wait a minute now. We have three questions. I'm working my way down here.
Yes. Since last I heard, the vice presidency is an elected office.
MORTON: But what about an appointed office, a Cabinet job, something like that?
POWELL: On the third question of serving somewhere else in government, I would never rule out. Any president that comes to you and says, "I need help and would you be interested in performing this job?" you have to listen to the president and see whether or not it's something that you feel you can do for the president. So you have to consider it.
MORTON: Why might a president want Powell? In a CBS News poll last month, he had a favorable rating of 81 percent; unfavorable, 1 percent. That's one reason.
And listen to a man who didn't win the GOP nomination, John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JANUARY 29)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You've to give them people that they think they can trust, and that is not only the president of the United States but the people around them. I think Colin Powell would make a wonderful secretary of state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON (on camera): A spokesman for George W. Bush's campaign said it's premature to speculate about jobs in a Bush administration, but added the governor thinks very highly of General Powell.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: On another matter, one might argue that these days the Reform Party could use some Powell-esque political sheen. A federal judge in Virginia heard arguments today from two rival factions which both claim to represent the real Reform Party.
Our Beth Fouhy has more on the power struggle.
FOUHY (voice-over): Jesse Ventura may be out of the ring and out of the Reform Party, but control over that party's future still looks like a wrestling match, with the two fighting factions squaring off in federal court.
In one corner, Jack Gargan, who Ventura chose to wrest control of the party from its longtime leaders, who were tied to Ross Perot.
JACK GARGAN, REFORM PARTY: It's inconceivable to me that we'll walk out of here anything but winners.
FOUHY: In the other corner, Pat Choate, Perot's vice presidential candidate in 1996 and a supporter of Pat Buchanan's presidential bid this year.
PAT CHOATE, CHAIRMAN, REFORM PARTY: You know, everything was done properly in Nashville, and we think it'll be reaffirmed here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Jack Gargan! For six months, he has been unduly harassed and I am ashamed of this party! You are...
FOUHY: For the Reform Party, Nashville was the political equivalent of World Wrestling's "Smackdown." That's where forces loyal to Perot and to Buchanan ousted Gargan as chairman and installed Pat Choate. The meeting was so rowdy, police threatened repeatedly to break it up.
Here at this courthouse in Lynchburg, Virginia, a federal judge will decide whether Gargan's removal was legal. Choate and Gargan will each argue that the Reform Party's complex constitutional rules play in their own favor.
The fight comes with a high price tag: Ross Perot's showing in the 1996 presidential election made the party eligible for some $12.6 million in federal funds. Both Gargan and Choate lay claim to the money, a chunk of which has already been seized by the court, pending the judge's decision.
CHOATE: The Ventura/Trump chaos is over. That's the main thing. We...
QUESTION: Ventura/Trump (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
CHOATE: Right. We're now on the way toward the 2000 election.
FOUHY: Ventura left the Reform Party just days before the Nashville meeting. Billionaire developer Donald Trump then abandoned his plans to launch a Reform Party presidential bid.
A Pat Choate court victory would spell good news for Pat Buchanan, who would almost certainly become the Reform Party's presidential nominee.
FOUHY: But of course we have yet to hear from Ross Perot, who still hasn't ruled out his own run for president, which would add yet another strange twist to this year's Reform Party saga -- Bernie.
SHAW: Beth, how soon can we expect a court ruling from this federal judge?
FOUHY: Well, it could come as early as Friday. They're expecting three days of testimony, and it could come Friday or probably next week. But it's got to come soon.
SHAW: And a bigger question: What happens to those millions of dollars?
FOUHY: That's the $12.6 million question certainly. It's going to go to whomever the judge determines is the rightful president of the Reform Party, and it depends basically if whether either side of the matter decides to take up an appeal. They both said that they're considering it. But if they decide to leave it where the federal judge leaves it, then we'll probably see a new Reform Party chairman, and he'll control the money and the nominating process.
SHAW: OK, thank you, Beth Fouhy.
Well, up next here on INSIDE POLITICS, the latest in that New York Senate race. Will Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent attacks on Rudy Giuliani win votes? We're going to ask Tish Durkin to size up the race.
SHAW: Tomorrow, on the Hill, a House appropriation subcommittee hearing will address questions about first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign travel. At issue: Republican questions about whether the first lady is adequately reimbursing taxpayers for her use of government planes for campaign-related trips.
Today in New York, Mrs. Clinton continued to criticize Mayor Rudy Giuliani's actions in the most recent police shooting. Giuliani again denounce Mrs. Clinton's attacks as a -- quote -- "politicized response."
Joining us now to talk more about this match-up, Tish Durkin of the "New York Observer."
SHAW: Tish, is this race between Clinton and Giuliani getting ugly?
TISH DURKIN, "NEW YORK OBSERVER": It's getting very ugly and very, very personal even at this rather early juncture, Bernie.
SHAW: How much will the New York City Police Department be an issue in this Senate race?
DURKIN: Well, I think what's happening here with this latest shooting incident is that Mrs. Clinton is making an attempt not only to bolster her support among African-Americans, which as you know is tremendous and overwhelming.
But she's trying to make the -- what is perceptually disturbing about the mayor's response to such incidents, resonate with moderate whites and particularly, the liberal Democrats who did vote Giuliani in 1997. So in that sense, the police department has become a bit of a lightning rod.
SHAW: Well, but the mayor says he was only trying to get out the facts when he permitted the release of the Patrick Dorismond's juvenile case records.
DURKIN: Yes, and of course, to echo the same cop-out that all politicians make about such instances, we of course do have to wait until all the facts come out to make sure that indeed there wasn't some -- a reason at that moment that the police officers in question felt that their lives were threatened.
But I think in the absence of such a smoking gun -- no pun intended -- the mayor is going to have to answer as to what relevance he felt there is in the rather ancient history of this victim. I mean, was there some reason why incidents of disorderly conduct of some years back should have played into the calculation as to whether or not he was an immediate danger to the officers in question.
SHAW: Now, Giuliani is accusing Mrs. Clinton of dividing the city. At one point, he said that: "She is engaging in a process called projection in psychology..."
DURKIN: So funny.
SHAW: "... it means accusing someone of what you're doing. That is precisely what Mrs. Hillary Clinton was doing."
DURKIN: You never would peg Rudy Giuliani as the therapy type, would you? And yet, you have Mrs. Clinton on one side talking about he's lashing out and he's angry, and the mayor shooting back at her that she's projecting onto him the polarization that she herself is guilty of.
I think on Mrs. Clinton's side, what's interesting about that is, again, this attempt to broaden it out beyond police misconduct issues, beyond issues of concern to African-Americans, and talk more about what she terms the mayor's leadership style, his tendency toward inappropriate anger and so on and so forth. SHAW: I'm just reading the "Wall Street Journal" lead editorial -- Nine paragraphs, and listen to this -- quote -- "Hillary Clinton faces the brutal political reality that she can't possibly win in November unless she and Al Sharpton figure out a way to divide this city" -- unquote.
DURKIN: Well, I think that's a kind of an -- I would take some issue with that. The other thing with "The Journal," I think, in that instance is echoing, is something that the mayor is in the habit of doing. Which is that every time Mrs. Clinton or any of his political opponents do anything to or about or around or for African-Americans, they are immediately pegged as singing from the same page as Al Sharpton; being in cahoots with Al Sharpton; being pals with Al Sharpton. As if the only person who is concerned about this issue is the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Now whatever one thinks of the Reverend Al Sharpton, whatever one thinks of Mayor Giuliani or Mrs. Clinton on this for a variety of other issues. The idea that he is the only African-American figure who is greatly disturbed by the issues that we're discussing this week, is just not continent with reality.
SHAW: And finally, this development: state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver -- he's a Democrat -- he's planning to hold hearings into whether the mayor acted illegally by permitting the deceased man -- his disclosure of his juvenile case records.
What is this development going to do to all of this?
DURKIN: Well, I think that the mayor -- the mayor of course, has said that with death, one's privacy rights are extinguished, which I'm not a lawyer, that may or may not be the case. But I think the thing that the Clinton campaign is hoping is that even if it doesn't turn out to be illegal, just the idea of someone's body not really being cold in the street before their life story is -- the most unpalatable aspects of their life story are brought out for all to see is something that the average voter is going to be bothered by. That may or may not turn out to be true, but that's what they're banking on.
SHAW: Well, we'll continue watching things. Thanks very much for coming in. Tish Durkin of the "New York Observer."
DURKIN: Thank you.
SHAW: Quite welcome.
And when we return, more on New York politics and John McCain's Capitol Hill return, with Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson.
SHAW: And joining us now to talk more about this day's political matters, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard."
John McCain has ridden back to the top of the Hill. His saddlebags are stuffed with campaign finance reform ideas. Will they work, Margaret?
MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, he says he's going to go out on the campaign trail and spread the idea this way. He's going out with some people that aren't in fact in favor of campaign finance reform, but maybe in exchange for the McCain magic -- and he seems to be the most popular Republican at the moment -- they could convert, or at least they'll be susceptible to conversion if they get re-elected or elected.
TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I think this is a good development, because it means that McCain hasn't started to believe his own press. He has realized, I think -- I hope this is evidence of it -- that whatever propelled him to where he is now had very little to do with campaign finance reform; it had to do with him as a man, as an attractive politician or something about him that's appealing. Hard to tell exactly what it is, but I really don't think it had anything to do with McCain-Feingold.
M. CARLSON: But he's using his story and himself to push this issue, and he's going to push it on these people.
T. CARLSON: But it is remarkable how pro-Republican or how loyal he turns out to be. I mean, a week ago, I called up the campaign to ask if the Straight Talk America, this pact, was going to be raising money for just Republicans or also Democrats and maybe independents, and they wouldn't answer. I mean, it wasn't clear at that point. I think that the hostility that McCain was feeling toward Bush, but also toward the Republican Party, was so profound that they wouldn't even want to commit to just that, and now it seems like they're just...
M. CARLSON: When he went over to the House today, he got three standing ovations at the House caucus, which shows that he's more popular in the House than he is in the Senate in some ways.
SHAW: Well, part of that has to with his announced plans to campaign for quite a few House members.
But doesn't this political action committee also position him very well, if Governor George Bush loses to Vice President Gore in the general, this fall, does it not give Senator McCain a great opportunity not to mention a war chest to run for his party's presidential nomination four years from now?
T. CARLSON: It might. I mean, it's just hard for me to believe that they're planning that far ahead.
M. CARLSON: We want to think that.
T. CARLSON: Right, exactly. Two days before the Michigan primary, they had literally, like, three people from the McCain campaign in the state of Michigan, and they weren't even sure what was going on. This is not a guy who plans ahead a lot.
M. CARLSON: It could be the earliest exploratory committee ever formed, other than maybe Reagan in '76, when he went out and campaigned for candidates and never mentioned Jerry Ford. You know, I think actually McCain will come around to mentioning George Bush at some point.
SHAW: Before we move on to Colin Powell, I've got ask this INSIDE POLITICS question: Do you think that the Senate Majority leader from Mississippi, Trent Lott, is ecstatic about John McCain prowling around the Senate once more?
T. CARLSON: He's thrilled. He said so. I think he said something like, "my oldest friend, John McCain, back."
M. CARLSON: He said he kept the lights on.
SHAW: Do you believe that?
M. CARLSON: If that isn't an effusive, I don't know what is.
T. CARLSON: He said it, I believe it, sure.,
SHAW: Colin Powell, somebody's cabinet, somebody's vice presidential running mate?
M. CARLSON: He said no to vice president, and I tend to believe that. Secretary of state, maybe. But vice presidents only help you once in a while, or occasionally or not very much. He would help Bush if he were to take the vice presidential spot. But a prospective secretary of state helping a candidate win the election? I don't know, doesn't sound right to me.
SHAW: But wouldn't he be campaigning, helping?
M. CARLSON: I mean, if he's going to be out campaigning and helping, I think he's going to do it with or without some cabinet position being held out. The question is whether, if the public thinks that Colin Powell is going to be in a Bush cabinet, does that help Bush? I don't know. I don't think so.
T. CARLSON: No. I mean, Ross Perot would be the president if that were the case. I mean, Perot never promised to assemble this all-star team of world geniuses to fix all government problems.
M. CARLSON: James Stockdale.
T. CARLSON: Right, exactly.
SHAW: But Powell is more popular than Perot.
T. CARLSON: Of course he is. But that's the point, is that in the end, it was Perot who was running, not the imaginary team of assembled geniuses he was going to bring together to fix the world's problems. Ultimately, I think voters look at the candidate, and you know, whoever Bush picks as a runningmate or as a member of his cabinet I don't think, ultimately, is going to be an issue.
M. CARLSON: But if he -- I disagree on one little point. If he could talk Colin Powell into running for vice president, I think that could make a difference.
SHAW: Vice President Gore, campaign finance reform -- in trouble?
T. CARLSON: He's very forward. I guess he's been saying recently that he's been reforming for many years; he's kind of a reformer with results or something I sort of lost in the blizzard of the work reform actually.
M. CARLSON: We're back to Congress. They're the most enthusiastic once they come around. And you know, I prefer the hypocrisy of wanting it, even though you're not practicing it, than somebody who says I neither want to raise money in a, you know, better way, not having special interest, and I never want to. I think that Gore saying I believe in reform, even though now, I have to do it according to the rules as they are.
T. CARLSON: Right, like granting chastity, but not yet.
M. CARLSON: Yes, something like that.
SHAW: What was that?
M. CARLSON: Yes, he's quoting fathers of the church.
SHAW: Before we go, how many times do you think we will see in Republican campaign ads this fall Vice President Gore at the Buddhist temple?
M. CARLSON: We are going to see the saffron-colored robes of the Buddhists in George Bush's ads, and in Al Gore's ads, we're going to see that big red carpet that George Bush crossed as he went to embrace Bob Jones.
T. CARLSON: Yes, I think saffron will now be the official campaign color of the Bush campaign.
SHAW: Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson, thanks very much.
M. CARLSON: Thanks, Bernie.
SHAW: Always good to have you in.
Well, that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
Remember this, You can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.
I'm Bernard Shaw.
"WORLDVIEW" is next.
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