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Inside Politics

Bush Says He'll Consider John McCain for His Running Mate; Gore and Bush Neck-and-Neck in Michigan

Aired April 18, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll give John McCain consideration. I know he said he doesn't -- not interested, and you know -- but until I talk to him, I'll find out how uninterested or interested he is.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush volunteers John McCain's name as a possible running mate. Is it a coincidence that Bush said it in Michigan?


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ... how the tigers finished, all we know Governor George W. Bush or Al Gore will ride the tiger, so to speak, and win this state.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Bruce Morton on the Bush-Gore race in Michigan, where McCain's primary win changed the playing field.

WOODRUFF: Plus, the political battle over U.S. trade relations with China. Is the House Democratic leader about to gum-up the works for the White House?

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

George W. Bush returned to Michigan today for the first time since John McCain pummeled him in the Republican primary there. Now facing a stiff general election battle in the state against Al Gore, Bush seemed unusually eager to invoke the name of his former rival.

Our Candy Crowley reports on Bush, McCain and Michigan.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): George Bush says there is no list -- no short list, no long list, no list at all about who he might select as vice president. So guess who's on it?

BUSH: I'll give John McCain consideration. I know he said he's doesn't -- not interested, and you know -- but until I talk to him, I'll find out how uninterested or interested he is.

CROWLEY: Mind you, Bush volunteered the name McCain in answer to a general question about the vice presidential list he doesn't have.

BUSH: There really is no list. Either there is no list or there's -- everybody's on the list. There's so many people on the list, there is no list.

CROWLEY: The vice presidential question is an almost daily occurrence and Bush expected it. Interesting that he would bring up McCain's name in Michigan, a battleground state where Bush currently runs even with Al Gore, a state where independents and cross-over Democrats will make the difference, a state where independents and cross-over Democrats gave John McCain a primary victory over George Bush.

And it's interesting, too, that only about an hour before Bush talked McCain, John Engler, the governor of Michigan, talked to CNN and also volunteered the name.

GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: We certainly would start with Senator McCain. I mean, I don't think that, that is out of the question at all. I think that's -- I have always said that was kind of a likely pairing.

CROWLEY: Bush and McCain are scheduled to meet May 9th in Pittsburgh. It will be the first the two have seen each other in person since their bitter primary battle ended. McCain has been pretty clear since then about what his future plans are not.

QUESTION: Could you accept the vice presidential nomination if offered by Governor Bush?


CROWLEY: Bush suggests if the atmosphere feels right May 9th, he may see whether he really should take no for an answer.

BUSH: Depending upon how the conversation goes, I -- you know, he's been pretty outspoken about his opinion, but I just really want to look him in the eye and visit with him about that -- part of a wide range of different topics we'll discuss.

CROWLEY: Even if McCain is serious about not wanting the vice presidential spot, and even if Bush is not so serious about putting him on that ticket, in an election where McCain voters could make the difference, it can't hurt to put the possibility out there.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.


WOODRUFF: Well, now we are joined by Richard Berke of "The New York Times."

And, Rick Berke, was it just -- is this the same George W. Bush who just a month ago in an interview with you said, number one, that McCain hadn't affected his views at all, and number two, reminded how well McCain had run, said, well, how come he didn't win?

RICHARD BERKE, "NEW YORK TIMES": And he said he didn't learn anything from McCain from that whole primary race. It's just a matter of political expedience right now. George Bush needs John McCain right now and wants to win over his supporters, so why not throw his name out?

I mean, you remember during the early primaries, or before the primaries started, when George Bush literally embraced John McCain. John McCain was not seen as a threat, and as John McCain climbed in the polls they got less and less touchy -- got less and less touchy with him, and now he's reaching out again, and it's a win-win situation for Bush and McCain, because Bush can say, yes, I like McCain, you know, I've tried to win over his supporters. McCain's supporters can say, that Bush is a smart guy, he knows that McCain is the right guy for him.

WOODRUFF: So you don't think this was a coincidence?

BERKE: No, not at all, not at all.

WOODRUFF: That he brought it up, and particularly in Michigan where he is going to need may of the voters who gave McCain such a big victory.

BERKE: Right, and there is really no downside to this. You know, bush doesn't have to pick him. He can do whatever he wants. He's been mentioning other people, he's been mentioning Whitman, Ridge, you know. Wherever he goes he'll mention whoever the candidate is. As long as the person is a credible politician who people could see as a vice president, it does no harm to Bush to name the person. And who knows? He may -- he could pick McCain. I think it's all a matter of where he's at as we get closer to the convention. I mean, no one thought Bob Dole would pick Jack Kemp, they didn't have a particularly good relationship four years ago.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of relationships, I mean, would you listen to Bush today, you would think the two were old buddies. What is the facts about -- what are the facts about the state of their relationship?

BERKE: Right. People close to Bush say that Bush still has -- bears some resentment to the way he views McCain attacked him during the campaign and there is still not the warmest of relationships despite what you saw today, not the warmest of relationships between the two of them. But they are both smart politicians who know when you have to reach out, and it clearly is a new George Bush from the one that I saw a month ago in Austin, where he wanted nothing to do with John McCain.

WOODRUFF: Separately, Rick Berke, McCain tomorrow is going to South Carolina and is going to take a position after all on the Confederate flag flying over the capital, saying it needs to come down. What's this all about? This is a change in his position.

BERKE: I think when you are no longer looking for votes in South Carolina, you can -- when you're no longer running for president you can be a little freer in your position, and you remember John McCain initially had said he had problems with the Confederate flag flying over, and then we got closer to the primary, he kind of backed down from that. So I think it just -- he's freed from his having to win over and maybe pander to South Carolina voters.

WOODRUFF: All right, Rick Berke, "The New York Times," thanks very much.

BERKE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you.

Now, a closer look at the state where Bush chose to dangle McCain's name as a vice presidential prospect.

CNN's Bruce Morton reports on the Michigan battleground and how McCain helped make it what it is today.


MORTON (voice-over): This battleground state has already had a battle: the Republican primary last February. Governor John Engler was manning a firewall to win it for George W. Bush.

ENGLER: We're on the wall. We've got our water cannons out. We're spraying the foam, trying to put the fires out.

MORTON: But the wall failed. John McCain carried every congressional district, set turnout records, swept all before him. And now? Engler's an optimist.

ENGLER: The turnout blew all the records away, and I think that has good news for George Bush for the fall and for the Republicans, because there's a lot of interest.

MORTON: That is not a universal view. Pollster Ed Sarpolus says Bush used to be ahead, before McCain won the primary.

ED SARPOLUS, MICHIGAN POLLSTER: George Bush was in the mid-50s, Al Gore couldn't even break 40 percent.

MORTON: But now? Voters in Detroit, voters across the state, have shifted.

SARPOLUS: What's interesting, though, amongst those swing voters, those McCain voters, that's where Gore has the biggest advantage, nearly 50 percent of those, so McCain has opened that door amongst independents for Gore.

MORTON: None of the above?

HUGH MCDIARMID, "THE DETROIT FREE PRESS": People are kind of grumbling about the -- what they consider to be the less than overwhelming quality of the two major candidates in the major parties.

BILL BALLENGER, "INSIDE MICHIGAN POLITICS": I think McCain struck a chord that is still there, and I think there is a third force out there -- independent voters, swing voters, ticket splitters, who don't really like the choice they have in November.

MORTON: Issues? Well, the economy is good, and that might help Gore. But this is, of course, a state that makes cars. Gore's free trade views can hurt him.

MCDIARMID: The United Auto Workers did not endorse him in the Michigan caucuses, neither did the Teamsters in Michigan certainly, and that's a factor, so it could even out.

REP. DAVID BONIOR (D), MICHIGAN: To the extent that our trade policies don't reflect a level playing field, I think that probably helps the candidate who speaks to that issue, and you're going to get the fringe candidates speaking to that issue, not only Buchanan, but if Nader is on the ballot, he will speak to it very strongly as well.

MORTON: And Gore's environmental views?

DAVID SEBASTIAN, GOP CHAIRMAN, OAKLAND COUNTY: I don't see how anyone who works with the auto industry, as many people do in this state, could possibly vote for Al Gore.

BONIOR: Well, Gore has also been responsible for the hybrid engine and the partnership for new cars into the next century and -- which is the future, and that's automobiles now that have hybrid engines in them that can get up to 70, 80 miles per gallon of gasoline.

MORTON: Another thing: Michigan is full of lakes. At St. Clair Shores, some folks already have their boats in the water. The environment is something they care about, too. This is Macomb County, where Reagan Democrats used to live. They're older now, some Republican, interested in other issues.

SHARON GIRE, DEMOCRATIC CHAIRWOMAN, MACOMB COUNTY: Al Gore does speak to some of the most important issues for this county, the issue of health care, senior prescription drugs.

MORTON: Sebastian in swing Oakland County thinks Governor Engler helps Bush.

SEBASTIAN: People are looking at him the same way they looked at Governor Engler -- somebody that's going to cut taxes, that's going to have creative education proposals. MORTON: Gire, in swing Macomb County, isn't so sure.

GIRE: There is an interesting sort of feeling among Republicans as well as Democrats that maybe his time has peaked.

MORTON: It's not on everybody's mind, of course. Lots of people have come out to see the Detroit Tigers' new baseball park, pose with the Tiger statue, get an autograph from a live player.

We heard a lot of people say they liked the park but worried about the team. Nobody thought the American League pennant race was a tossup, which is what the experts say about the election.

GIRE: I think it's going to be a very competitive race.

GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: An issue-focused campaign allows George Bush to win Michigan.

MORTON: Or not.

BILL BALLENGER, "INSIDE MICHIGAN POLITICS": The state is up for grabs here in Michigan. There's no question about it. This could go either way.

MORTON: And it's months away. We'll know how the Tigers finished before we know whether George W. Bush or Al Gore will ride the tiger, so to speak, and win this state.

People are seriously confused.

ED SARPOLUS, MICHIGAN POLLSTER: Oakland County, 56 for Republican, is leaning Al Gore. Macomb County, the traditional bastion of Democratic strength, is voting for George Bush. I can't tell you what's happening. It's all over the map.

MORTON: And he's the guy who usually knows.

Pray for the tigers. Good thinking. But maybe pray for the political experts, too. They need some help.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Detroit.


WOODRUFF: Next on INSIDE POLITICS, Bernie talks with Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating on tomorrow's anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Plus, much ado about China. Not there, but here in Washington, where the White House is bracing for a setback. Or is it?


WOODRUFF: After months of publicly staying mum about his voting plans, House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt is expected to announce tomorrow that he opposes granting permanent normal trade privileges to China. Gephardt's decision is seen by many as a setback for the Clinton/Gore administration. But as CNN's Major Garrett reports, the White House does not seem overly concerned.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gephardt told the president last week on Air Force One as they returned to Washington from Denver: From his demeanor and advance warning, White House aides concluded Gephardt's opposition to the China trade deal would be muted and mild, and that's just the way the administration likes it.

GENE SPERLING, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: He felt that this should be a vote of conscience for members. He did not seek to use his leadership position to influence people one way or the other.

GARRETT: Officially, the White House says it's wounded. Privately, they're delighted the minority leader won't use his clout to rally fence-sitting Democrats. That's what the White House has been doing for months, and it appears to be paying off. House Democratic sources now believe they will have at least 60 votes, while House GOP leadership aides predict they will have 160 votes, meaning the China trade deal is likely to pass in late May. Even so, Republicans, eager to avoid the perception of carrying White House water, want the White House to get more House Democratic votes.

REP. ROBERT MATSUI (D), CALIFORNIA: This has not changed our strategy any, and we still think we're going to do quite well in terms of the Democratic vote.

GARRETT: The White House says it never expected to win Gephardt's vote. The Missouri Democrat ran for president in 1988 on a platform attacking the ravages of trade with Japan.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: We are enhanced as a country if we defeat a flawed and a bad NAFTA.

GARRETT: He also opposed free trade with Mexico, escorting fellow Democrats across the border to see the living and working conditions there, the very same argument opponents are making against free trade with China.

PEGGY TAYLOR, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, AFL-CIO: It will be a very dominant part of the background when we talk about our perspective on the issues with China.

GARRETT (on camera): Some Democrats will look to Gephardt's personal example, but House Democrats on the fence will have to decide on free trade with China based on the economic and political contours of their own districts.

Major Garrett, CNN, Chicago.


SHAW: President Clinton travels to Oklahoma tomorrow to take part in ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. It was April 19, 1995 when a truck bomb ripped apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building and killed 168 people. Some found the deadliest terrorist attack ever in this country even more horrifying when it turned out to be home-grown. Two Americans, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were charged in the bombing and later convicted.

Joining us now from the site of bombing, the governor of Oklahoma, Republican Frank Keating.

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS, governor.

GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: Hi, Bernard. How are you?

SHAW: Pretty fair, sir. Good to have you on.

First question to you is, in your judgment, is this a fitting memorial?

KEATING: I can't hear him.

SHAW: You can't hear me?

KEATING: Yes, there we go. Go ahead.

SHAW: OK, very good. My first question, sir, is in your judgment, is this a fitting memorial?

KEATING: Well, the -- this memorial behind us is a -- really a statement for life. Since the tragedy of April 19th, for the last five years, we've raised the money to put every child through college who lost his parents, either one or both parents or who was injured. The memorial behind us today, we finished the capital campaign to build the museum and the memorial itself.

So we're celebrating togetherness. We're celebrating all of us holding together as a family, an Oklahoma family during this agony. And I think that's going to be the message tomorrow, that we are still together as one American as well as an Oklahoman family.

SHAW: And let me take a moment to describe what used to be the office building is now a grassy hill with nine rows of empty bronze and stone chairs, one for each of the 168 people killed in the bombing.

KEATING: That's correct. The focus here, Bernard, is on those who lost their lives and those who survived. There aren't people on horses with sabers or lances; it's not your classic memorial. It focuses on the ordinary men and women, most of whom were federal employees or visiting a federal building, who gave their lives serving the public. And I think that's a very powerful statement.

SHAW: Starting from the next day, April 20th, Judy Woodruff and I were on the scene with hundreds of other reporters from around the world. We talked to you a lot down there at the time. What, in your opinion, is the ultimate lesson from this tragedy? KEATING: Well, the ultimate lesson should be that this is intolerable conduct, that no amount of anger or animosity toward real or imagined government wrongs should countenance or permit the murder of 19 babies.

You know, if we as a people don't like the government, throw it out. If you don't like a particular elected official, throw him out. If you like an agency, repeal it. But don't take the law into your own hands and destroy the lives of the innocent that happened here.

SHAW: Let me switch to politics now. Last week in Tulsa, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said you are a very serious contender to be Governor Bush's running mate. How serious?

KEATING: I don't even know. I mean, Newt was in my state eating my food, so it's nice that he was nice to me. But outside of Oklahoma, I don't think that's particularly something that's being talked about.

All I want is to elect George Bush as president. I think he's a great man, a tremendous friend of the country to the south, Texas. We like them always until we're playing them in football. But I really don't see that going any place.

SHAW: But if he asked you, would you accept?

KEATING: Oh certainly, but I don't expect that to happen. You know, like -- it's like being offered to win the lottery without having to enter. I don't think that's going to happen.

SHAW: OK, Governor Frank Keating, thanks for much joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.

KEATING: Thanks, Bernard. Thank you.

SHAW: Quite welcome.

Well, there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Still to come: the electoral strategy.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: How does George W. Bush build an electoral vote majority? He's got to start with the base of anti-Clinton states, and then add to it, state by state.


WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider on what the Texas governor needs to win the November election. Plus...

SHAW: The television ads that could turn some Senate campaigns into bumpy rides. David Peeler takes a look at the latest independent expenditures. And later... WOODRUFF: A picture you may not see after election 2000. We'll find out who is getting out of the fund-raising business.


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

A man suspected of killing two people and wounding at least six others in Michigan is in police custody. Police arrested him after knocking down the door to an apartment where he was hiding. The shootings began in the building's office. The suspect had been summoned regarding complaints about his language.

SHAW: Another day of watching and waiting in the standoff over 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez. Meantime, a new voice is weighing in about the strain the boy may be under.

CNN's Mark Potter joins us live from Miami with the latest -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's created quite a controversy here on an another -- an otherwise quiet day in Miami. As you said, it's been a day of waiting in Miami, waiting for that critical 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Elian's immediate future.

The boy himself was out in the yard quite a bit today, playing with some young playmates at first, and then he was out there with his great uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, whose custody of the boy has now been revoked by the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, a small group of protesters gathered at the house to offer support to the Gonzalez family. But with the government now promising that it is preparing to physically come get the boy if necessary, and the court deciding whether to actually order a reunion between father and son, the crowd was rather subdued.


OFFICER ANGEL CALZADILLA, MIAMI POLICE SPOKESMAN: The mood that I see out here right now while they're in this holding pattern is not a festive one. It's not an angry one. It's almost like you would see at a funeral or at someone's hospital bed, where you're just waiting and waiting for that doctor to come out with some news.


POTTER: Now, in Miami today local health care professionals and politicians reacted angrily to that letter that's been talked about so much today by the pediatrician Dr. Irwin Redlener, who said that Elian is in psychological danger and should be removed from this house in Little Havana.

The biggest criticism of the doctor's letter, of course, is that he made that rather dramatic assessment without actually analyzing the boy.


DR. RIGOBERTO RODRIGUEZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Mental health professionals, health professionals in general need to be very careful about any comments, diagnosis that they make regarding an individual that they have not examined directly. It is a very dangerous position to take.


POTTER: Now as for the appeals court ruling, we are told that the courthouse in Atlanta is now closed for the evening, meaning that it is somewhat unlikely that we'll get a judge's ruling tonight.

Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from Miami.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Thank you, Mark.

WOODRUFF: Wall Street enjoys another day of recovery as the Nasdaq sets a new record, closing up more than 250 points, and the Dow gains 180. The two-day rebound is a dramatic turnaround from last week's trillion-dollar sell-off. Recovery isn't complete, though, and analysts say it is too soon to know if it will last.

SHAW: The parents of Amadou Diallo, the West African immigrant slain by four New York police last year, are suing the city and the officers involved. They filed a $61 million wrongful death lawsuit today. That sum includes $1 million for each of the 41 bullets fired by police. A jury acquitted the officers of murder last February.

WOODRUFF: The state of Vermont is one step closer to recognizing civil unions between seam-sex couples. Today, by a vote of 19 to 11 state the state Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill granting same-sex couples many of the benefits and responsibilities reserved for marriage. A final vote is expected tomorrow, and then it will go to the house, which passed a similar bill last month but will have to consider changes made by the state Senate. The governor has promised to sign the legislation.

The civil unions bill stops short of allowing gay marriages but goes further than any other state in recognizing the rights of same- sex couples.

SHAW: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, our Bill Schneider is going to go all over the map to find a way George W. Bush can win the White House.


WOODRUFF: Although George W. Bush is campaigning hard in Michigan today, he apparently could win the White House without winning that particular battleground this fall. Our Bill Schneider has been going over the electoral map, with Bush in mind and with a calculator in hand -- Bill.

SCHNEIDER: I have. How does George W. Bush build an electoral vote majority? Well, he's got to start with the base of anti-Clinton states, and then add to it, state by state.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Start with the 18 states that President Bush carried in 1992. Let's lose the two bush states that switched to Clinton in 1996: Arizona and Florida. But Bob Dole added three new states to the GOP column in 1996: Colorado, Georgia and Montana. That's the anti-Clinton base, Dole's 19 states.

Gore is Clinton's vice president and political soul mate, so the anti-Clinton base will very likely turn into the anti-Gore base. And since George W. Bush appears to be running stronger than Dole did four years ago, let's assume Bush will hold on to the Dole states.

Those 19 states have a total of 159 electoral votes, 111 short of a majority. Where will those 111 electoral votes come from? Most likely from the states that Dole almost carried last time.

Clinton carried 10 states by less than 10 percent in 1996. The closest was Kentucky, which Clinton carried by just one percentage point, followed by Arizona and Tennessee, which Clinton carried by two points. Clinton had a six-point margin in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, seven points in New Mexico, eight in Oregon, nine in Pennsylvania, and just under 10 points in New Hampshire.

We can eliminate Tennessee from the list, since Gore's likely to hold on to his home state. The nine remaining states are Bush's targets of opportunity. They have a total of 112 electoral votes, just enough to put Bush over the top.

The list includes three big states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, each with more than 20 electoral votes. For Bush to win this election, he's going to have to carry all three. That's why Gore is making a big play for Florida. That's also why running mates from those three states will be at the top of Bush's list. Well, maybe not Florida. He's already got his brother Jeb in place there as governor.

But if Bush wants Florida insurance, he can put Senator Connie Mack on the ticket. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is another hot contender, although his support for abortion rights poses a problem.

Ohio has former Cleveland mayor, former governor and now Senator George Voinovich, and former presidential contender John Kasich.


SCHNEIDER: Now what do polls show in those three states? Well, there are no recent polls in Ohio. But in Florida and Pennsylvania, Bush is leading by just four points. So a Bush majority looks doable, but it's likely to be a tough fight.

WOODRUFF: What about today's development? Bush out there mentioning John McCain's name first as one of those he might think about the vice president. Would it make sense, would it be smart for Bush to offer the vice presidential slot to McCain?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Judy, I always say there are 10 reasons why a nominee picks a running mate. No. 1, pick someone who can help you win. The other nine reasons don't matter.

There are only two contenders out there who could help Bush win clearly. Colin Powell, who doesn't seem to be interested, and John McCain. Yes, it makes a lot of sense. Bush is only interested in one thing right now: winning, getting elected. John McCain can help him do that.

WOODRUFF: And it makes sense for McCain to accept?

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's a little more complicated, because, you know, there's a risk if McCain accepts. It would help him prove that he's a good soldier and it would prove his bona fides to the party, because he'd be campaigning for Bush. The downside for McCain is he could get elected, he could win. And then he'd have to be, oh my god, vice president of the United States for maybe eight years and he'd become Bush's man: a whole different kind of person.

WOODRUFF: Indeed Bill Schneider, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, one of the things that highlighted John McCain's quest for his party's presidential nomination, you might recall that battle in New York state when McCain went to the Russian legation and said, it was communism, his party preventing him from getting on the ballot. You also might recall that Steve Forbes once sued to get on the New York state ballot.

This just in from Albany, New York. Today, the state Senate passed new legislation to simplify that New York Republican presidential primary ballot. Voters had complained that the delegates' names first appeared and then the candidates' names secondarily in smaller print. That has been changed now, so you can say that McCain won a victory today in New York -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And up next, from ad spending to fund raising, a look at campaign money now and after the election.


SHAW: Michigan may be a battleground in the presidential election this fall, but right now, there's an ad war raging and the subject is Republican Senator Spencer Abraham. It began earlier this month with an ad by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.


NARRATOR: This is an urgent message about our jobs. Senator Spence Abraham is pushing another bill to import more than 200,000 foreign workers a year to take good American jobs, jobs our college graduates should get.


SHAW: In response, an organization called Americans for Job Security launched an ad which criticizes the immigration reform group, defends Abraham, and attacks his Democratic opponent.


NARRATOR: So who's smearing Senator Abraham with negative attack ads? An extremist group charged with bigotry and racism. "The Detroit News" says they have an ugly agenda. Yet Debbie Stabenow is so desperate she won't denounced this campaign of fear.

Call Stabenow, ask her to stop the smear campaign.


SHAW: Joining us now in New York, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

David, how much are these two groups spending in Michigan?

DAVID PEELER, COMPETITIVE MEDIA REPORTING: Well, Bernie, the interesting tactic here that we see is that it's not abnormal to see independent expenditure groups weigh in behind candidates. What is different here is that the only ad campaign that's on air is by two competing independent expenditure groups.

The FAIR group has spent about $181,000 to attack Abraham, while the Americans For Job Security have now come in, in the last couple of weeks and spent about $185,000 to help prop him up and support him. So here we've got independent expenditure groups really being in charge of the campaign tactics this early on in the process. It's a new tactic.

SHAW: We have talked before about the ad campaign by Citizens For Better Medicare criticizing plans for government price controls on drug --prescription drugs, and now the group has taken direct aim at one of the supporters of those measures, Montana's Democratic Senate candidate Brian Schweitzer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian Schweitzer wants Canadian-style government controls on prescription medicines here in America. He needs to think again, because Canadians say their government- controlled health system is in crisis.



BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA SEN. CANDIDATE: This busload of people will save $24,000 by buying prescription medicine in Canada over a 12-month period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Across America, people are beginning to listen to one Montanan's crusade to lower prescription drug prices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian Schweitzer has a plan to force pharmaceutical companies to sell medicine at the same low price they do in Canada and Mexico.


SHAW: Now, David, how much is this organization spending on this ad campaign and how much is Brian Schweitzer putting into his response ads?

PEELER: Well, Bernie, here is what we see the tactics behind this campaign. The Citizens For Better Health Care, you know they have been on all summer with a national campaign. They are really a very well-funded group and have really come to the forefront in terms of media tactics. What they are able to do is wage both a national campaign to talk -- or to move the debate, and then a local campaign behind it.

In this case, reports have them spending about $175,000 in Montana against Schweitzer out of a total of a $1.3 million that they're spending nationwide. What's happened is that Schweitzer has had to come on to respond to this attack and he has been able to spend about $57,000. So you can see that the independent expenditure groups, if they weigh in heavily, can really craft and move the message of the debate.

SHAW: Now, let's go to Minnesota. In that state, Republican Senator Rod Grams is the target of an ad by the political arm of the environmental group Friends of the Earth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For at least a dozen of these men, asbestos poisoning sent them to an early grave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were happy. They had no idea what was going to happen to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Senator Rod Grams is pushing legislation to let the asbestos companies off the hook.


SHAW: That ad has been running for nearly two weeks. Also this month, Grams launched the first ad of his re-election campaign, with no mention of the asbestos issue.


SEN. ROD GRAMS (R), MINNESOTA: I hope when I come back home to Minnesota that I can sit down and say that I have represented them well in Washington, I have carried their values there, that I've done the job they've asked me to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: Now, David Peeler, what do we know about the spending in Minnesota?

PEELER: The spending in Minnesota -- here is a new tactic. It's the independent expenditure group gets out early in the campaign, forces the candidate to respond. In this case, Grams has spent about $183,000 in order to make sure that his negatives do not go up in this case.

So, here is an opportunity where candidates are not really being able to determine when they're going to go on air. It's the independent expenditure group that forces them -- forces their hand and when they have to respond. I suspect we're going to see an awful lot of this as we roll into the November elections. It's unprecedented that it happens this early.

SHAW: Well, we'll be watching and reporting on it. David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting, thanks a lot, see you next time.

PEELER: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: You're welcome.

The Hollywood moviemakers of DreamWorks SKG Studios say they will take a break from political fund raising after the November election. Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg have raised at least $15 million for the Democratic Party at fund-raisers over the last seven years. A DreamWorks spokesman cited fund-raising fatigue as the reason behind the decision. At the most recent fund-raiser Saturday night, President Clinton encouraged supporters to press on.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you think it doesn't matter, when you get tired, when you wish somebody wouldn't call you again between now and November, you remember the story I told you about the last longest economic expansion in American history and take a deep breath and bear down, because the best is still ahead of us.


SHAW: Joining us now Mike Allen of "The Washington Post," who wrote a piece today about this.

Mike, is this really a case of donor fatigue, is that really why they are pulling back?

MIKE ALLEN, "WASHINGTON POST": It seems to be, Bernie. Just when Americans seemed to be getting over Clinton fatigue, now people in the administration are concerned about donor fatigue. Most people when they thought of DreamWorks would think of "American Beauty" or "Saving Private Ryan," but for the last seven years, Democratic leaders have thought of money, whether it was for the presidency twice, or for House Democrats, or Senate Democrats, or the Clinton library. Geffen, Katzenberg, Spielberg were the most reliable place for Democrats to turn. Now they are saying that after November they want to work -- they want to get the vice president elected, they're going to work hard for that. This event Saturday that you showed will help with that, but after that they don't want their phone to ring for a little while.

SHAW: Does this decision put Silicon Valley in play?

ALLEN: It sure does, and that's a lot tougher area for Democrats because it is an area where there aren't a lot of commitments right now and a lot of that money will probably go to Republicans. Hollywood is very reliably Democratic. Also, Hollywood being Hollywood, there were a lot things about it that made it easier to raise money. At the events there, they had Whoopi and Jay and Barbra and their concern is that it's going to be touch to replicate that either with other players in Hollywood, or if they move up the coast and work Silicon Valley harder.

SHAW: Well, let me ask you about something rather sensitive in this town, how much of this has to do with Vice President Al Gore lacking Bill Clinton's star power?

ALLEN: The big concern among Democrats that I talked to is that this is a small symptom of a bigger problem and that is that Vice President Gore, as strong as he looks right now, just will not have the political or the financial durability of President Clinton, who as we have discovered can overcome just about anything. Supporters of the vice president point out that he has made his own contacts in this area. He had worked the technology community early and they say he has friends in Hollywood separate from President Clinton.

But there was something about President Clinton, even though he was a Southerner, he was a centrist, it's hard to see what exactly the connection was, but he made an early and very strong bond with Hollywood. And as you and your viewers know, DreamWorks has even been talked about as a possible future employer for the president if he gets tired of hanging around the library.

SHAW: Well, we'll be watching that one. Mike Allen of "The Washington Post," thanks a lot.

ALLEN: Thanks, Bernie.

SHAW: Quite welcome.

And when we return, Judy will talk with Bob Novak and Bill Press about politics, the economy, and those presidential hopefuls.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now on INSIDE POLITICS, Bob Novak of "The Chicago Sun-Times" and Bill Press of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

And, Bill...


WOODRUFF: First of, hello. Thank you both.

I understand you have something you might wan to add on this whole subject of DreamWorks pulling back their money.

PRESS: Well, just watching that piece about DreamWorks, I mean, I know these guys. They're friends of mine. I've worked with them in California. I mean, nobody one has ever raised as much money for either party in California as has Spielberg, and has Katzenberg and David Geffen. I mean, Lou Wasserman was the king before this. These guys have surpassed everybody in the fund raising. I've spoken with Andy Spahn, their financial person. It is really donor fatigue. They're committed to getting Al Gore elected, but then they say they're going to hang it up.

But you know, in this business, that's going to be tough for Al Gore, but there are always people who step up, then they step down, and then others step up to the plate.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, CNN "CROSSFIRE": Well, it's like stepping up to the plate. It's like -- for Al Gore, it's like the manager of the Cincinnati Reds suddenly got a message that Griffey Jr. wasn't going to take any bats this year.

WOODRUFF: That bad?

NOVAK: That bad.

WOODRUFF: Nothing like this would ever happen in the Republican Party?

NOVAK: Are you kidding?

PRESS: People get burned out; I don't blame them.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of money, the financial markets -- big downer the end of last week, back up again this week.

Bob, is this the kind of thing that can affect the outcome of this election?

NOVAK: It's hard to tell. Unless Dr. Greenspan and the Fed goes crazy and starts raising interest rates and saying we've got so much inflation. I think he's going to react normally to it.

The problem is, Judy, I hate to tell you, is that the country is overtaxed, and what could caused this crash, very few people would admit it, that so many individual investors were stuck. They realized in the beginning of March with the huge capital gains payments. Probably you had the same problem. And they had to dispose of their stocks because there's just no other way that they could get the money. And I checked around, and it wasn't a case of big institutional investors selling; these were small investors. You've got to give credit to Jude Wanniski, who was the first one who spotted at, but a lot of other people now are coming on the bandwagon and saying that this is a tax problem.

WOODRUFF: Actually, I didn't have the problem. But your point is that tax day was coming.

PRESS: First of all, Bob Novak is the only person that I know who is actually undertaxed in this country, and we're trying to correct that, maybe in the next administration.

But you know, Judy, I have to say, I think this whole theory is kind of silly. I mean, if people are going to vote according to the market, then Al Gore would win by acclimation, because over the last seven years, the market has gone from 3000 to right around 11000. You know, the market has bounced back yesterday. It's back again today. I think the economy is strong. So maybe a few dot.coms lost their way last Friday, but nobody is going to blame Al Gore if a couple of dot.coms tank. That's the American way.

NOVAK: It isn't dot.coms; there were billions and billions of dollars of wealth lost in the market.

PRESS: And regained Monday and Tuesday, Bob.

NOVAK: Not all of it was regained. And these are individual investors who turn that money over to the government. See, the reason we have the big surpluses is, in no small part, is the capitol gains tax. It's much too high. And when you finally have to have -- the piper came, and it had to be paid, people were selling stocks.

WOODRUFF: Two quick questions -- George Bush today floating the name of none other than John McCain.

Bill, what's going on?

PRESS: Well, I think what's going on is that George Bush realizes that he made a mistakes, saying he never learned anything from John McCain. He's got to reach out to these McCain people. What better way to do it than to float the name of John McCain. I think it would be the absolute best possible choice for George W. Bush. I also don't think there is no way that he will make it, because he doesn't dare, because John McCain is too independent for George W. Bush.

NOVAK: So the thing is, it's a safe bet because John McCain says he will never do it. I believe John McCain. I mean, John McCain is many things, but he's not a liar, and he says he's never going to take it, so it's a safe bet for George Bush.

The thing that people worry about is, what if George Bush asked him and he said yes, because I can tell you this...

WOODRUFF: Who worries about that?

NOVAK: The Bush people, because I can tell you this for sure: George Bush does not want a vice president who doesn't like him. He has said that a million times, and that's why he doesn't wants him. But as long as he's going to no, why not float him. PRESS: But there are in history many vice presidents who haven't liked the president, and vice versa, who've been put there for strategic reasons; again, strategically, I believe, it's the best George Bush can make, but he won't do it.

WOODRUFF: All right, we don't have enough time for another question. Here's what the question was going to be: Is Bush moving to center and whether it's smart? But we've got 10 seconds left.

NOVAK: It is smart. It is smart. How do you like me saying it's smart?

PRESS: It is smart, but lots of luck is all I've got to say.

WOODRUFF: More on that later.

Bill Press, Bob Novak, thank you both.

SHAW: You when he said what he said, I thought of JFK and LBJ.

WOODRUFF: The "lots of luck?"


SHAW: No. The president and vice president that did not quite like each other.

NOVAK: They detested each other.

SHAW: OK, who tested each other.

WOODRUFF: All right, that is all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you again tomorrow, when our Candy Crowley will be in South Carolina, covering Senator John McCain; speaking of whom, he is expected to call for the removal of the confederate flag from atop the statehouse.

SHAW: And of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff.

"WORLDVIEW" is next.



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