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Inside Politics

President Hosts Summit on `New Economy'; House Votes for Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

Aired April 5, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do we keep this expansion going? How do we extend its benefits to those still left behind in the shadows?


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Questions about the future of the U.S. economy. Will Wall Street give Al Gore reason to worry?

Plus: George W. Bush on global policy. But is it an issue that excites U.S. voters?

And, the Texas governor's California dreams and a look at the political realities.

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

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernie is off today.

Well, of all the issues sure to crop up over the next seven months, none may affect the outcome of the election as much as the performance of the economy. A measure of stability returned to Wall Street today after yesterday's white-knuckle ride, but many analysts say that a serious correction is still very possible, and that is an unnerving prospect for millions of Americans with a financial stake in the stock market and for the candidate with the biggest political stake, Vice President Al Gore.

CNN's Patty Davis examines the potential downside of banking on the boom.


PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has become Vice President Al Gore's mantra on the campaign trail: stick with him and the economy will remain strong.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It just didn't happen. We made it happen. We worked for it. DAVIS: Over at the White House, just how to keep the economy chugging along was the focus of a conference on the new economy, a day after the stock market's wild swing on Wall Street led by huge losses by the new economy's technology stocks. Gore's political fortunes could lie in the economy's direction.

THOMAS GALLAGHER, POLITICAL ECONOMIST: His strongest argument is the economy, if -- then a deterioration in the economy has to give voters a reason to look for an alternative.

DAVIS: Historically, the economy does matter, as Bush's father, the incumbent president, found out when he ran for re-election. A CNN/"USA Today" Gallup Poll in October of 1992 showed only 11 percent of voters rated the economy as excellent or good. With the U.S. economy having weathered a recession, Bush lost.

In October, 1996, 47 percent of voters thought the economy was in good shape. Incumbent Bill Clinton won. As of January of this year, 71 percent say the economy is prospering.

While some polls show Gore and Bush about equal in terms of handling the economy, a "Washington Post"/ABC News poll found more voters think George W. Bush would do a better job handling the economy than Al Gore. Analysts say Gore needs to fine tune his strategy.

GALLAGHER: He's got to tie the link more closely between electing him and continuing the strong economy. He also has to call into question Bush's economic strategy and suggesting that his tax cut might endanger the prosperity that everybody's been enjoying.

DAVIS: Gore is doing just that. At nearly every campaign stop, including one at the building in construction trades union conference in Washington, the vice president warned voters face a dire choice. Go with him or...

GORE: To choose the other direction, which would mean a right- wing U-turn back to the Bush-Quayle deficits, the Bush-Quayle recession, the Bush-Quayle assault on working families.


DAVIS: Now, while polls show the nervous stock market is not making most Americans nervous, analysts say that Gore is most vulnerable on the continuing high gas prices and further interest rate hikes this summer. Now, Judy, that could plant a seed of doubt in voters' minds, one that George W. Bush would be happy to help blossom.

WOODRUFF: All right, Patty Davis, thanks very much.

Well, as Al Gore hitches his wagon to the economy, Bill Gates may be hitching his to politics. Who wins next fall may have a significant affect on how this week's court ruling against Microsoft ultimately plays out.

CNN's Jonathan Karl reports on Chairman Gates' trip to Washington. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hoping to fare better in the political arena than he's fared in court, Bill Gates paid congressional leaders a timely visit. Gates didn't talk publicly about the Justice Department lawsuit, but many Microsoft allies believe the best antidote for Microsoft's legal woes would be a Bush administration.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish there had been a settlement early on in the case. I was hoping that there would be a settlement and an agreement between the two parties. That didn't happen. But so long as the case is pending, and as you know the case still is pending, the judge hasn't made his decision as to what the remedies ought to be, I'm not going to make a comment on the particular case.

KARL: But Bush did comment while he was campaigning in Microsoft's home state in February.

BUSH: You know, the fundamental question is, is Microsoft an innovative entity that is providing jobs? Are they disrupting an economy that is changing so rapidly? I think the great fear is that Microsoft will be broken up, and it's hard to tell what the consequences are of the lawsuit.

KARL: Moments later, Senator Slade Gorton, with Bush at his side, declared that a Bush administration would never have brought the case against Microsoft in the first place. But Microsoft politics are tricky. The Bush campaign issued a hasty clarification just days before the California primary saying the governor was not taking a position on the Microsoft case.

And while Bush's initial pro-Microsoft comments were cheered in Seattle, they were greeted with alarm in California's Silicon Valley, where Microsoft is unpopular because of the same tactics that brought on the Justice Department lawsuit.

Bush's rival has been consistently silent on the Microsoft case. Although during a visit to Microsoft headquarters late last year, the vice president lecture Microsoft employees on the importance of antitrust law.

GORE: If competition is valuable, which I think it is, then antitrust laws have a place in embodying the values of our country.

KARL: Microsoft has given money to both Gore and Bush and dumped more than $1.2 million into the coffers of Democrats and Republicans since January of last year, but all that spending doesn't happen in a vacuum. Both parties have eagerly sought, and received, major donations from Microsoft's enemies in Silicon Valley.

(on camera): In a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Gates did not talk directly about presidential politics, but he did say that he believed a different administration would treat Microsoft differently than the Clinton-Gore administration. Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Well, for more on how the economy may affect the presidential election in November we turn to our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, do voters see a big difference here between Gore and Bush?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Not really. Our poll last month showed the two candidates in a virtual tie when voters were asked which one would do a better job handling the economy -- same result we got when we asked about handling world affairs. The economy and world affairs are the two big issues that usually dominate presidential politics. That is why this year's election is very odd.

When we asked voters to rank 25 issues, the economy came out 10th and world affairs ranked number 22, 22nd in importance. We have a presidential election in which neither the economy nor world affairs is a big concern to voters, and neither candidate has an advantage on either issue -- strange.

WOODRUFF: So do these results tell you, Bill -- because you've been looking at polls for a long time -- do they tell you that there's a big consensus on these issues?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think that's exactly what they do say. In every campaign since the 1950s, Gallup has been asking voters which party would do a better job keeping the country out of war and which party would do a better job keeping the country prosperous. Last fall, they found Republicans and Democrats tied on both of those issues. Consensus in the country, stalemate in the election.

WOODRUFF: So how would you describe the consensus on the economy and world affairs?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I would say on the economy, invest and grow has replaced tax and spend, and Bush has gotten the message loud and clear: don't threaten the safety net. You could call it cautious investment. In world affairs, both candidates agree the U.S. has to be a world leader, and both agree the U.S. should not be policeman to the world. You could call that cautious internationalism.

WOODRUFF: So, $64,000 question, how are voters then going to choose between Bush and Gore?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, like everything else about this election, what it comes down to is personal qualities. More people think Gore has the knowledge and experience necessary to be president, but people are more likely to see Bush as a strong and decisive leader. Vastly different policies? No. Somewhat different leadership styles? Yes.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Well, our military's role overseas might change greatly with George W. Bush as commander-in-chief. Our national security correspondent David Ensor takes a look now at Governor Bush's global policy.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush promises a "distinctly American internationalism" where U.S. troops will only be used abroad when it is in the clear national interest.

BUSH: America must be involved in the world, but that does not mean our military is the answer to every difficult policy situation, a substitute for strategy.

ENSOR: Condoleezza Rice of Stanford University is the governor's top international policy adviser. She says the U.S. military was, for example, not the answer for Haiti.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, BUSH INTERNATIONAL POLICY ADVISER: It's really never a good idea, I think, to deploy American military forces with the notion that you're going to build somebody else's state, or you're going to build somebody else's democracy, and some several billion dollars later Haiti is if anything in as bad shape as it was when we went.

ENSOR: Then there is Kosovo. Though Governor Bush supported the NATO air campaign, Rice sees a quagmire now.

RICE: It's not clear to me that we know precisely what it is that we are doing in Kosovo. The situation is getting worse there, and I'm not sure we have either a political solution in mind nor do we have an exit strategy for our forces.

ENSOR: Not that governor bush has yet proposed an exit strategy for Kosovo either. Though he supports membership in the World Trade Organization for China, he has proposed an overall tougher policy toward Beijing.

BUSH: China is a competitor, not a strategic partner. We must deal with China without ill will, but without illusions

ENSOR: And, says Rice, without inconsistency.

RICE: On one day, there were the "butchers of Beijing," which was the critique of President Bush's administration, and the next, year they were a strategic partner. It's no wonder even the Chinese are confused.

ENSOR: Other differences with the Clinton/Gore administration: Bush would spend much more on defense. He's ready now to deploy a national missile defense, whether or not the Russians agree to amendments to the treaty banning such systems. And he is ready now to start moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But it is on the question of global policy experience that Governor Bush has found himself on the defensive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Can you name the president of Taiwan?

BUSH: Yes, Lee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Can you name the general who's in charge of Pakistan?

BUSH: Wait a minute, is this -- is this a "50 questions?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: No, it's four questions about four leaders in four hotspots.


RICE: Well, I would have challenged probably three quarters of the foreign policy establishment to come up with those four particular names.

ENSOR: Aides point to the strong relationship Governor Bush established with President Zedillo of Mexico as important experience dealing with a key world leader, but the real issue is not what he knows or has done, says Condaleezza Rice, but what he will do and how he will do it.

RICE: I think there will be a touch of steel in a George Bush foreign policy. Sometimes diplomacy is really having to persuade people to your point of view, even your adversary, and I think he's very good at that. But you can't do that unless you have a very strong set of principles and a strong center from which you are operating. That's the touch of steel.

ENSOR (on camera): Aides say Governor Bush is considering a trip to Europe or Latin America in coming months, though nothing has been decided yet. His first priority has to be the election campaign.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson on politics and the economy, the Elian Gonzalez saga and why Hillary Clinton's New York Senate bid may be taking off. Will Rudy Giuliani be playing catch-up?


WOODRUFF: Joining us now, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard." There's so much to talk about. A lot of discussion this week about the stock market, about the economy. To what extent is Al Gore's success hinging, Margaret, on a healthy economy?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Traditionally, that's what it hinges on. If the economy is good, the incumbent benefits, and he wins. It's interesting that the polls show that lots of people, 47 percent, think George Bush is better at handling the economy, which I find an astonishing figure.

I tend to think that if the stock market has more of these gyrations, that in fact it could work to Gore's benefit in this odd way, which is, if people get nervous, they may want to stick with the guy who's there. And when Bush says if you want to continue with the status quo, don't vote for me, and if you want to end the Clinton/Gore era, I always think that's a little bit dangerous for him, in that people, in general, would like to continue this economic era.

TUCKER CARLSON, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Except if Bush can make the case that Gore's Justice Department the Clinton/Gore Justice Department is the reason that the economy is fluctuating wildly. Clearly, to a much greater extent than most incumbents, Gore is dependent on a good economy, and what's the...


WOODRUFF: ... Microsoft.

T. CARLSON: Yes, that's right. He's charming guy. He's a straight shooter. I mean, really, he's making the case, we created this great economy, stick with us. And I think that Bush may have missed a chance earlier this week to leap right on the Justice Department Microsoft situation, and say look, the Clinton/Gore administration has been tinkering with the engine of the economy; if your 401(k) is suddenly devalued, it's their fault. For some reason, the Bush campaign didn't turn quick enough to do that.

M. CARLSON: Maybe they were being intellectually honest, because as the market was falling 500 points, every commentator said, you know, it's done, it's not the Microsoft case, it just happens to coincide with that, because the Nasdaq has had these wild gyrations all year long, 300, 400 points a day, and then it quickly righted itself. Nothing about Microsoft changed, but it came back, just as it has each time this year.

WOODRUFF: Well, that may be right, but I mean at some point, there's going to be what's called a readjustment right to Nasdaq, and the question is, who's going to get blamed for it? And I do think that the Bush campaign is missing a great opportunity to start to pin the blame on Gore. I mean, why not? This is politics.

T. CARLSON: And then you have the John Karl piece, pointing out that in California, I mean, in other points of the country, there are folks, there are interests, that don't exactly want to see the Justice Department fail in its effort against Microsoft, Microsoft's enemies -- California, Silicon Valley.

M. CARLSON: They're even more like -- you know, Senator Orrin Hatch in Utah has Novell and a few companies like that which were very much hurt by the monopoly that Microsoft had, and as well as Netscape, and Java and others. So they benefit when this happens.

T. CARLSON: That's reason you have this, is because they complained in the first place. I still think it's very hard to make the case the justice department appear to be trying to make, that somehow consumers are being hurt by all of this. You know, you pay $90 for Windows. It works perfectly. Everyone uses it and likes it? We're suffering? I mean, it's difficult.

M. CARLSON: You don't know what other than Windows was out there because it was destroyed by Microsoft.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about Elian Gonzalez. Al Gore, very visible position on this. Has he helped himself, Tucker?

T. CARLSON: I don't think he has. I think this may be Gore taking a position on principle. I know that's hard to swallow, hard to believe, but I think that the polls don't -- you know, if you're his adviser, you don't tell Gore to take the stand he's taken. Pretty much unless you're a Cuban-American living in South Florida, you think Elian should go back to Cuba or don't have strong feelings about it, so Gore alienated a lot of people by taking this position, or appearing to take this position. It's not clear exactly clear where he stands now. Maybe he took it because he thinks it was the right thing to do.

M. CARLSON: I don't think so. He appealed by -- he wants Florida, you know, he wants Florida in play. And by appealing to the most passionate minority there who may vote on the issue, who are likely to vote on the issue, he gained something. However, since Bush has the same position, it may have been an ineffective pander but it looks like a pander.

T. CARLSON: Well, it's a pander -- it's a pander with happy results as far as I am concerned.

M. CARLSON: No, I think it's -- I think it's...

T. CARLSON: If you're going to pander...

M. CARLSON: It's a nonconstructive pander, because Bush is going to out-pander him. And he's going to get the Cuban-American votes.

T. CARLSON: Oh, it's a pander-fest.

M. CARLSON: Yes, or it's a wash.

WOODRUFF: All right. I'm going to read you some numbers. New York Senate race -- we're changing the subjects quickly here. New poll out today showing first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has moved ahead of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Quinnipiac College poll giving the first lady a three-point edge, 46 percent to 43 percent, the first time she has been ahead in a poll in months. Now Giuliani led by seven points last month but he has since come under heavy criticism for his handling of a police shooting in New York City.

Margaret, should the mayor be worried?

M. CARLSON: Well, it isn't so much what Hillary has done as what he's done. And yes, he should be worried because what his handling of the death that Patrick Dorismond showed was that the problems people have with his temperament came into play, and it resonates with the doubts people have about him. He was quick to -- he didn't wait for any investigation. He was quick to side with the police and smear the dead man, release his juvenile records, do many intemperate things that he actually didn't have to do, because everyone knows he's a tough law and order guy.

And Hillary, uncharacteristically, kept kind of quiet. I mean, she gave one speech and then let the facts speak for themselves. So she was savvy in her silence on this and she's benefited.

T. CARLSON: And I think it's a great strategy. I mean, the one thing that hurts Mrs. Clinton's numbers is when she speaks on television. And I think that being quiet, maybe not saying anything at all, maybe going mute...

M. CARLSON: Right. She was doing good.

T. CARLSON: ... the mime candidacy.

M. CARLSON: Right, she was doing so well on her listening tour when she was just nodding. And it wasn't until she started speaking that her numbers went down.

WOODRUFF: Just last quick question, Governor Pataki urging Congressman Rick Lazio not to get into this race, to take any siphon, any votes away from Giuliani. Is that going to be an effective strategy, Tucker?

T. CARLSON: Yes, oh, I think it will be. I mean, Pataki and Giuliani obviously don't care for one another. You know, one feels sorry for Rick Lazio, a nice guy, kind of embarrassing himself. Hopefully he'll get out.

M. CARLSON: Yes, he keeps putting himself out there and no one comes.

WOODRUFF: All right. You heard it here, Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson. Thank you, both.

M. CARLSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right.

A different story: Two Buddhist nuns were indicted today on contempt of court charges in connection with the trial of former Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia. The nuns failed to appear as witnesses regarding the 1996 fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai Temple, an event attended by Vice President Gore. Justice Department officials believe the nuns now are in Taiwan. Hsia was convicted of campaign finance violations in connection with that event.

And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, a Capitol Hill vote on a controversial issue. Will some members feel the pinch back home? Plus, the party nominations are all sewn up, but what about the general election? Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook take a look down the road to the White House. And...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sort of a microcosm of the whole country. We have a very diverse population, and if you can win here, you can win sort of everywhere.


WOODRUFF: Not New York, but California, a look at that state's importance in the strategy of George W. Bush.


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

The U.S. attorney for the father of Elian Gonzalez is on his way back from Cuba. He's trying to work out arrangements for bringing Juan Miguel Gonzalez to the United States.

There's no word on what, if anything, was resolved. The 6-year- old's Miami relatives are to meet with U.S. Immigration officials again tomorrow. Local authorities say they are hopeful that the custody battle will be resolved peacefully.


CHIEF KEITH WILLIAM O'BRIEN, MIAMI POLICE: No federal agency has asked us to go and physically take the boy by force nor have they asked us in the assist them in the taking by force. Accordingly, as I say, I'm pretty confident that's the very last thing on their list of options. And you know, would -- if they did that and the crowd set upon their officers, would we come to the assistance of federal law officers? You know, obviously.


WOODRUFF: A few dozen protesters turned out today outside the Dade County home of U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. She was not in town.

There are new charges of corruption on the Los Angeles police force. A federal grand jury returned indictments this afternoon charging a current and a former officer with fabricating evidence. The 5-year-old case is not related to the current LAPD corruption probe. However, it raises the question of how widespread corruption may be on the force.

A Florida jury is deciding whether and how much tobacco companies will pay sick smokers in a class-action lawsuit. That judgment eventually could reach $300 billion and 500,000 smokers. In a move to shield cigarette makers during the appeals process, the North Carolina legislature today passed a bill tapping the bond tobacco companies must post at $25 million. Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky have all passed similar legislation.

Japan's new prime minister says that he will not call early elections, and promises that he will continue his predecessor's economic recovery plan. Yoshiro Mori became prime minister today, replacing Keizo Obuchi, who is on life support after a massive stroke. Mr. Mori says his top priorities are the Japanese economy and preparing for the G-8 summit this July. He says rumors of early elections are untrue. The government must call elections by October.

Alexis Herman will not be the subject of an ethics investigation. Independent counsel Ralph Lancaster announced today that he will not seek an indictment of the nation's labor secretary. An African businessman had claimed that he once gave Herman an envelope of cash in exchange for her help with a consulting firm while she was a White House aide.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns, an issue with election-year significance and a look at the role of women voters.


WOODRUFF: In what has become a regular occurrence on Capitol Hill, the House voted today in favor of a ban on a certain type of late-term abortion, one opponents call a partial-birth abortion. The president is expected to veto the measure once again and observers say there are not enough votes in the Senate for an override.

As Bob Franken reports, whether or not the ban becomes law, some representatives may pay a high political price for today's vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the bill is passed without objection...

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the overwhelming House passage, the vote masks a political predicament for many on both sides of the aisle. For some Democrats, it is a choice between abortion rights and a specific procedure which is widely unpopular.

REP. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: I rise today as one of the people who is under political attack by right to life on this issue, which, in my state, is very clearly a political issue.

FRANKEN: Stabenow, who is running for Senate in Michigan, still voted against the ban, but 79 of her fellow Democrats joined the Republican majority in voting for it and Democrats are not the only ones struggling with this issue.

CHARLES COOK, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Well, for moderate Republicans it's the toughest, because they've got to reach out to swing voters who tend to be pro-choice but still keep their base in line which tends to be pro-life, so they're walking the finest line out there in politics. FRANKEN: Case in point: Jim Greenwood, who was one of eight Republicans voting against the ban. Greenwood came under harsh attack by his anti-abortion opponent in the recent Pennsylvania primary. He won by a 2-to-1 margin, but he still took to the House floor to complain about raw politics.

REP. JAMES GREENWOOD (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This is all about politics. It's not about saving lives. It's not about winning hearts. It's about saving seats in the Congress; it's about winning seats in the Congress. It's not about making law; it's about making noise.

FRANKEN: President Clinton is already promising his third veto and most believe the Senate will again sustain his action, but that is not the last word.


FRANKEN: The Supreme Court will hear arguments on late-term procedure in the next three weeks or so. There are bans in 30 states, and the lower courts are very divided on the issue just like the political world -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken reporting from the Capitol, thanks.

The political activist group Emily's List uses periodic surveys to track trends in the preferences of women voters. Their latest nationwide shows George W. Bush slightly ahead of Al Gore among all voters, 44 percent to 42 percent. But Gore holds the advantage among women.

Well, joining us now to talk more about the results and what they mean, Ellen Malcolm, who is the president of Emily's List, and Republican pollster Ed Goeas.

Thank you both for being with us.



WOODRUFF: Ellen Malcolm, to you first, again, just to recap, polling showing very tight race between Bush and Gore, but among women Gore is pulling ahead, why?

MALCOLM: You know, he has made significant progress with women since we did our first poll in December. I think they are hearing his positions and women agree with those positions and they are moving toward him. In the same way, when they learn a little more about Governor Bush's positions they are moving away from him and we are seeing his favorable ratings now decreasing particularly with independent and undecided women.

WOODRUFF: Specifically, what issues are helping Gore here? MALCOLM: Well, the most important issue that we tracked in this survey was the education issue, that is now number one with both men and women. And there is a very clear mandate coming out of our data that shows that voters want something done about education, they want a strong federal role in fixing the educational system, and a lot of their -- of the Republican positions, such as school vouchers, are in disagreement with what most voters want.

WOODRUFF: Ed Goeas, is that what your polling is showing?

GOEAS: No, we saw basically within the margin from the battleground poll a week earlier, we are seeing women leading -- going with Gore by about 6 percentage points, but men going with George W. Bush by 10 percentage points.

But most of the polls that are -- have been out recently are showing that they are basically tied on the education issue and that's something that Republicans are excited about, because if you look at the education issue back just eight years ago and two presidential races ago, we had a 20-point deficit. So to be playing in the same basic field, basically have parity on the education issue, that's important.

The other thing is we focus on mom's, and mom's and dad's, if you will, those people that have children at home and how George W. Bush is doing with those parents, and we show on the education issue both with mom's and with dad's that George W. Bush is in fact leading.

Going back to the Emily List poll, probably the most interesting thing I saw in the data, at least from a Republican perspective for George W. Bush is of all the issues they tested, the number one issue, the strongest supported proposal that they liked was literacy, the literacy program that George W. Bush came out with. So maybe there are some things they don't like, but there are some things they really do like that the president -- that George W. is doing.

WOODRUFF: Given that, Ellen Malcolm, how do you tell really who is ahead on the issue of education?

MALCOLM: Well, we saw for example it was even on the numbers on trusting both Bush or Gore to deal with education, but when you went to people who said -- to women who said, it is your top priority, education, they overwhelmingly supported Gore. They say very much they want an investment in the public school system, they don't want money taken away for vouchers, they want to have an investment in education instead of the income tax. So on all the proposals that are the traditional Republican proposals, women voters are saying, no, we don't want that, we want a role in -- federal role in education, we want to make the school system better.

WOODRUFF: What about that, Ed Goeas?

GOEAS: Well, if you look at most of the polling out there, if you ask what the number one problem on education is, they say parents. It's the number one problem over everything else. And so the real issue on education is not the brick and mortar, it's not necessarily the schools, it's how do you empower parents to have more involvement in their kid's education, how do you have accountability in the school system, how do you have control of the school system, and most importantly, how do you let the parents know whether or not the schools they are sending their children off to are good schools in teaching their kids.

WOODRUFF: All right, other than education which we're spending most of our time here -- and rightly so, because it's important to so many voters -- what are the other issues that you see that are a plus for the vice president, Ellen?

MALCOLM: Well, I think we see on a range of issues. Social Security, health care, education, women agree with the Democratic position and it's why Vice President Gore and Democrats running for Congress are doing better. And this is good news, by the way, I think, for women voters, because now there is a discussion on the issues that they care the most about, they are really creating an agenda here and that means that people are going to be talking to their concerns about their families and finding some solutions. Hopefully, it means we're going to have a big turnout on Election Day.

WOODRUFF: If that's the case, Ed Goeas, how does George W. Bush deal with that? What does he do about that?

GOEAS: Well, first of all, I think very often we fall into the trap of talking about going female voters like they're a monolithic group and and they are not. We are seeing women at home, particularly white women at home almost two to one supporting George W. Bush. We're seeing white working women under the age of 65 virtually split on supporting George Bush and Al Gore. You are seeing white suburban women doing extremely well -- George W. Bush doing extremely well with them, even with Hispanic women voters. Although, he is not doing very well with African-American voters -- women.

So you can't just look at all women and say, well, they either going for Gore or going for Bush, which very often these conversations appear. He is doing very well with some key female constituencies.

WOODRUFF: This is a subject that we're going to come back to again and again through this election year, we appreciate both of you being with us. Ellen Malcolm, Ed Goeas, thank you both very much.

MALCOLM: Thank you.

GOEAS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, the presidential hopefuls and the tight race for electoral college votes. Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook tell us the states to watch.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now for a look at how Al Gore and George W. Bush may fare in the race for electoral votes, Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report" and Charlie Cook of "The National Journal."

Gentlemen, all right, you've both been updating those wonderful numbers we love to look at, the electoral college numbers.

Stu Rothenberg, first of all, tell us what you're showing right now.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, Judy, I still have Bush ahead by only about 20 electoral votes at the moment: 166 toss-ups. That's obviously enough to decide the election one way or another.

I think Bush has lost a little ground in my calculations. Some of those states I thought were toss-ups. I've moved them toward Gore now. I'm talking about Connecticut, Maine, for example.

But I just saw a Wisconsin poll, a state that I thought was definitely leaning toward Gore, that was quite close. And I've moved that in the toss-up category.

WOODRUFF: Charlie, what do you see overall?

CHARLES COOK, "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": Yes. I've got a somewhat smaller pool of toss-ups than Stu has, but I've got 209 electoral votes for Bush, 207 for Gore, and 122 up for grabs. But of that 122, I would have Bush in a little bit stronger shape than Gore.

But the key kind of states we're going to be watching -- Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania -- Stu would throw Illinois into that list -- those are the big states that are going to make a huge difference in this election.

ROTHENBERG: Judy, I think we know that Bush is going to do well in the South, in the mountain states and in the agricultural Midwest. I think we can figure Gore's going to do quite well in the Northeast, New England, but also a number of the mid-Atlantic states, also in California. So we're really talking about the upper Great Lakes and some states around the country, whether it's Delaware or Missouri that the race is going to boil down to.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, let's talk about some of these key so-called "battleground states." Let's start with Michigan -- Charlie.

COOK: This is probably one of the closest pure toss-ups out there. It doesn't tilt one way or the other. It's just going to be extremely close. Republicans were hoping that Governor Engler could make a huge difference. Frankly, I think governors are more important in primaries than in general elections, and Engler wasn't able to help Bush much in the primary.

I just think it's an absolute pure toss-up.

ROTHENBERG: I agree. Michigan and Missouri are kind of the ultimate pure toss-ups. You tell me who wins those, and I think I can tell you who's going to win the White House. WOODRUFF: All right. But you're not going to give us the answer to this.

ROTHENBERG: I don't know the answer. In mid-February, Bush was ahead by about four or five points in a Mason-Dixon. I suspect the numbers are down now.

WOODRUFF: All right. Illinois, now I understand this is one that Stu tends to think is more of a battleground, but...

ROTHENBERG: Well, I have it in the toss-up category. If you pushed me, if you really shoved me, I think the Democrats may have an advantage there with a strong base in the northern part -- northeastern part of the state. But I think it's going to be competitive.

I think the polling, the early polling that I've seen I think shows the Democrats ahead, but I think it's competitive.

COOK: Yes. It's on the cusp between sort of toss-up and lean Democrat. And interestingly, of the big swing states out there, Illinois is the only one that has a viable Democrat who -- who probably is a contender to be on the ticket, Dick Durbin, Senator Dick Durbin.

But again, that's -- it's a seat that if the race is really 50/50 nationally, Gore ought to win Illinois anyway. So in a way, that wouldn't be the optimal pick. But you know...

ROTHENBERG: And the Republican governor, George Ryan, is in trouble. There's some scandal out there, ethics questions. So the Republican Party's on the defensive.

WOODRUFF: All right. Ohio -- Stu.

ROTHENBERG: Well, this is one where I think -- maybe it's a mirror image of Illinois. I think although we have this in the toss- up, I tend to think, if the election is going to be close, that this is the kind of state that's going to tilt Republican.

Republicans just have an advantage in Ohio with the big suburban and the rural areas. The Democrats need huge margins out of Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, to carry the state.

I think it's competitive. It usually is close. But I would tilt it just slightly to the Republicans.

WOODRUFF: You're nodding, Charlie.

COOK: Ditto.


COOK: Yes, absolutely.

WOODRUFF: OK. Let's move on. Pennsylvania -- Charlie. COOK: I would call this a toss-up, but with a very slight tilt toward -- well, I know the last poll -- normally, I would say toward Democrats, but we just saw a poll that had Bush ahead by 4 percentage points. But if you added Tom Ridge, it made about a -- what? -- a 14- point difference, made a big difference if Ridge is on the ticket.

And the thing is it is very hard to see how Democrats get 270 electoral votes without Pennsylvania.

If I were George Bush, I would put Tom Ridge on the ticket, even he's...

WOODRUFF: You think it makes that much difference.

COOK: I think it would. Even though he is nominally pro-choice and a lot of pro-life -- a lot of pro-life activists would go absolutely crazy, I would do it. But the thing is I'm not sure that George Bush is the risk-taker to do that. I mean, that takes some real guts to do it.

WOODRUFF: It raises some other...

COOK: Yes, I think -- tell you what. That is not the path of least resistance, even if it's the best path.

ROTHENBERG: You know, this is a fascinating state. I love Pennsylvania. We think of it as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and inner city and African-Americans and organized labor. In point of fact, a couple of recent polls have shown Bush ahead slightly. This is a state with a Republican governor, Republican senators, Republican state legislature. I think that it's pure toss-up. But this is a state -- this is -- Charlie's absolutely right. This is a great opportunity for the Republicans. This could be a bellwether for them.

COOK: And it's a very complicated state. You've got suburbs like -- Philadelphia suburbs like Montgomery County, Bucks County that are sort of nominally Republican but liberal on social-cultural issues. And so maybe you play up guns there. But then Pennsylvania has the second-largest number of NRA members of any -- any -- second only to Texas.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's go next door. We've got about 70 seconds left. New Jersey -- Stu.

ROTHENBERG: Well, I have it -- I think I have it leaning Gore at the moment. Yes, it could be competitive, but of late it has been trending Democratic. I just don't like how it smells out there for the Republicans either in some congressional races.

WOODRUFF: But it could be a toss-up (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ROTHENBERG: Well, I actually have it as leaning slightly Gore. I think it's certainly competitive.

COOK: I have it in the toss-up category. I agree it's sort of tending a little toward Democrats, but I still have it in the toss-up category. It's going to be very close.

WOODRUFF: All right. You've got some extra seconds -- Missouri.

COOK: It -- it's always close. It's more of a bellwether.

I mean, the thing is, with Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, this is a big chunk of the country. But Missouri, it's a smaller chunk, but it's a very good bellwether. Nice mix of urban, suburban, rural.

ROTHENBERG: Two keys. Conservative rural Democrats and suburban voters, moderate Republicans. I think it's a great indicator.

COOK: And a huge Senate race and a huge open governor's race there too.

WOODRUFF: All right. And you've both got California leaning Gore. We'll talk about California another time.

Stu Rothenberg, Charles Cook, thank you both.

And when we come back...




WOODRUFF: ... bilingual TV ads for George W. Bush hit Northern California. Will they translate into votes in November?


WOODRUFF: The Republican National Committee is hoping that Governor Bush's popularity among Hispanics in Texas translates in California. Today, the RNC began airing a series of bilingual TV ads in the Fresno market, ads aimed at Latino voters.


CHRISTINA BUSTUL (ph): I am Christina Bustul. Today I am living the American Dream. Politically, I have been independent. But lately, I have been hearing from the Republicans about education, opportunity and family.

Papa, I heard what you have to say. This year I plan to keep an open mind and vote for the best person, and that includes Republicans.


WOODRUFF: Party leaders say that a survey found that 30 percent of California's Latino voters are Republican, and 25 percent more might be persuaded to vote that way.

Well, California has always been one of President Clinton's strongest states, and Al Gore's backers say that he has the state sewn up. But George W. Bush will isn't so sure and tomorrow he begins staking his own claim to the golden state.

CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley looks at the significance of the Bush Trip.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirty-five percent of registered voters in California are Republicans, which only begins to explain George Bush's challenge here.

ART TORRES, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: Bill Clinton could run for governor of California and win. He is very popular here in this state, and he knows California. He is California.

CROWLEY: They love Bill Clinton, the California economy is golden and Al Gore is leading in the polls. Oh, did we mention that Gore has been to the state 65 times as vice president? It makes you wonder why George Bush would bother to spend time or money in this big, expensive, complex state. But coming he is -- Thursday, his 12th trip, his first since the California primaries, and the state party is thrilled.

JOHN MCGRAW, CALIFORNIA GOP CHAIRMAN: This is purely a voter- contact trip, a chance to let voters here in California get to know him a little bit better, and I know that he's going to be here at least once a month between now and the convention in Philadelphia.

CROWLEY: The Bush campaign says he's coming and will continue to come to California because the state is winnable. Secretary of State Bill Jones defected from the Bush campaign to support John McCain and is now back with Bush, for a race he, too, thinks is doable. Jones says if you count up all the people who voted Republican in the primary and pit them against those who voted Democrat, the Republicans win by 10 percent.

BILL JONES, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: We now have in the case of the independents and crossovers, 1.2 million voters who voted for our combined Republican presidential candidates that are in play, many of which have not been in the past, and now we have a chance to go attract those voters again in November and replicate our success in March.

CROWLEY: That's what you call the glass half full, because many of those McCain voters told pollsters they would vote Gore in the fall if McCain lost. Still, say the glass-half-full people, they are persuadable.

And anyway, for California Republicans, November is not all about Bush. There are other races, in particular congressional races that may be won or lost by the energy at the top of the ticket.

MCGRAW: Every minute that he spends in California, we think he will be very popular, and he will really help those congressional candidates. It's very important to him. We not only want to win the White House, we want to keep our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and California can be pivotal in that.

CROWLEY: Despite the odds, and the polls and the huge expense of California, Republicans here and in the Bush campaign insist the state is in play.

TORRES: Well, they have to say that in order for the donor base and for the media to cover their events, but the bottom line is, it's not going to be in play, because the numbers don't tell us that it is. If it is, that's great -- let them spend and waste their money in California so we can beat them in other states much more handily.

CROWLEY: The reverse is true as well: If Bush makes a strong play for California, Gore will have to spend money here, too, money he, too, could use in other states.

(on camera): Beyond the practical -- California does have 54 electoral votes -- there are psychological reasons Bush needs to be seen as a player here. As one state party member put it, "If other states see Bush leaving, the argument then becomes, if he can't win in California, maybe he can't win at all."

Candy Crowley, CNN, San Francisco.


WOODRUFF: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

I'm Judy Woodruff.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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