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Inside Politics

Al Gore Proposes Anti-Crime Initiatives; Younger Voters Favoring George W. Bush

Aired May 2, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you give me the chance, I will be a law enforcement president.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore tries to cut into George W. Bush's advantage on the crime issue. Also ahead...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's always been two state: the Research Triangle -- high-tech, prosperity -- and the rural state -- tobacco, old-fashioned religious values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Bruce Morton with a primary day picture of North Carolina and the candidates for governor.

Plus, a new Republican proposal to dramatically shake up the primary season. Which states would come out on top?

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us. Judy is off today.

Though crime is not at the top of the list of voter concerns this election year, Al Gore apparently believes that issue offers another opportunity to try to disarm the Bush campaign.

Our Jonathan Karl reports on the proposals Gore laid out in Atlanta today and the politics behind them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eager to score political points on an issue that usually favors Republicans, Al Gore sought to portray himself as a tough-on-crime Democrat. GORE: We have to cover our communities with a blanket of blue. We have to toughen our laws. We have to stand up for the rights of victims. We have to stop the endless parade of repeat offenders.

KARL: In what Gore billed as a "major policy address," the vice president presented a laundry list of anti-crime initiatives, ranging from federal funding for another 50,000 police officers to cracking down on unethical telemarketers who target the elderly.

Two of Gore's proposals were new. The first, a $500 million a year prison drug treatment program. The second, allowing off-duty police officers to carry concealed weapons.

Gore also opened up a new line of attack against George W. Bush.

GORE: He seems to believe that there is no national responsibility to help fight crime. I believe it is one of our greatest national responsibilities and that communities should not have to go it alone.

KARL: Previously, Gore's attacks on Bush on the crime issue centered on gun control. The Gore campaign hoped to make Bush pay a political price for opposing new gun restrictions in the wake of incidents like the Columbine High School shootings. But so far, Gore hasn't gotten much traction on the gun issue.

In the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, more likely voters said Bush would do a better job handling the gun issue than Gore. And by a 20-point margin, likely voters said Bush would do a better job in fighting crime.

In a bid to change that, Gore attacked Bush's record in Texas.

GORE: I believe we should demand that prisoners get clean to get out of jail. Governor Bush seems content to keep pushing them out of that same old revolving door. The people of Texas deserve better and the people of America deserve better.

KARL: Citing a Texas study, Gore said that the recidivism rate in Texas had climbed about 25 percent since Bush became governor. The Bush campaign did not dispute the numbers, but said the study refers to convicts who left prison while Bush's predecessor, Democrat Ann Richards, was governor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Gore also tried to turn Bush's proposed tax cut into a crime issue. The vice president made the case that Bush's proposed tax cut would take away money needed to fund new anti-crime initiatives -- Bernie.

SHAW: John, how does Gore address successes in fighting crime in Texas?

KARL: Well, in fact, the Bush campaign was quick to point out that crime is at a 20-year low in Texas. And Gore does not dispute those numbers. In fact, what the Gore campaign says is that yes, crime is down in Texas, and the credit goes not to Governor Bush but it goes to President Clinton and to of course the Clinton-gore administration.

So in other words, what Gore is doing here is that he is saying that Bush is to be blamed for what has gone wrong in Texas. As for what is right in Texas, the credit goes to Washington, to Clinton and Gore.

SHAW: Jonathan Karl in Atlanta. And to elaborate on the last point Jon Karl made -- in a statement, Bush campaign officials say violent crime in Texas is at a 20-year low. So they say if Gore is willing to attack Bush's record on crime, then they also are expecting him to attack Texans for defending the Alamo.

Well, we're joined now by our Bill Schneider.

Bill, since crime is not a big issue now, why does Gore feel the need to speak out about it?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Gore needs to send a message: I'm a new Democrat. You know, Republicans are typically seen as tough on crime. Governor Bush has presided over executions, 124 of them. Wow! What can Gore do to compete with that?

Well, he can propose new federal programs to fight drug use by convicted criminals and to hire more police, and he can argue that Bush's tax cut leaves no money over for such programs, which is exactly what he did today.

SHAW: Well, yesterday, Gore pounced on the Social Security issue. Today it's crime. What's he trying to do?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, this is what's called senior politics. Yesterday, he spoke out against an idea floated by the Bush camp to allow some Social Security money to be privately invested. There's only one group that's opposed to that idea: seniors. Being tough on crime is another good way to reach seniors, who tend to have conservative values.

SHAW: Does the vice president have a problem with seniors?

SCHNEIDER: You know, you really wouldn't think so. We found a gigantic age difference in the way people are voting this year. Bush is drawing his strongest support -- Bush! -- from young people. Voters under 30 are going nearly 2 to 1 for Bush over Gore. Voters 30 to 49 are almost as strong for Bush.

Once you get above 50, the electorate tilts to Gore. Gore edges out Bush by a narrow margin among 50- to 64-year-olds. And seniors are the one group where Gore has a very big lead.

SHAW: Why are younger voters so strongly for Bush?

SCHNEIDER: Let's take a look at what we know about younger voters. One, they are moderates. They are more moderate than either liberal or conservative. Two, they're independents. Notice only 20 percent of young voters call themselves Democrats. Moderates, independents. What that tells us is young voters have no strong brand-name loyalties to any party or ideology. They're unconnected. They go for the candidate, particularly for the candidate of change. This year, that's Bush.

SHAW: And what about seniors?

SCHNEIDER: Seniors, exactly the opposite. Voters over 65 have powerful political loyalties. For one thing, they're conservative. For another thing, they're Democrats. They are the Depression and the World War II generation. Wait a minute, conservative Democrats? Yes.

They have conservative values, but they believe Democrats protect their interests. But this conflict means seniors have been bouncing around a lot this year. Imagine, at their age.

We've taken 12 presidential polls. In six of them, seniors have voted for Gore, and in six, they've voted for Bush.

How do you secure the senior vote? By appealing to their conservative values: on crime, for instance. And by promising to protect their interests like a good Democrat: on Social Security, for instance.

Put the two together and what do you get: Al Gore.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.

More on Gore versus Bush and the crime issue -- we're going to turn to Ron Brownstein of "The Los Angeles Times."

Ron, one day, world affairs, crime the next, major issues.

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Sounds like Gore is one of those bouncing seniors that Bill was talking about.

Actually, you go back a little further: the economy last week, education last week, Social Security, and the interview with The Washington Post today.

What Al Gore is trying to do on a whole series of issues -- and there will be more to follow -- is I think raise the stakes in this election. He is making a systematic effort to sharpen the contrast with Governor Bush, and there are some underlying messages that run through all of these speeches.

In effect, he is trying to argue that Bush is more conservative than he appears, whether the question is guns or taxes or missile defense. He is trying to argue that Bush lacks the preparation to be president. Whether the issue is foreign policy or domestic policy, he's constantly questioning his credentials. He is trying to make the case that Bush is a threat to the positive direction that people see in much of what's going on in the country.

In the '90s, in the Clinton era, there's much more satisfaction with the direction of the country perhaps than there is with Clinton's personal behavior.

And finally, he's questioning Bush's record in Texas. In all of these speeches, he keeps coming back to the question of what's going on in Texas.

Bernie, you take these four things, you add them up together -- ideology, record, right track, and preparation -- and what you basically have is the George Bush 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis. And to a large extent, that's the model that Al Gore seems to be following against the son here in 2000.

SHAW: But some polls show that Bush and Gore are virtually evenly matched. Is this a problem for Gore?

BROWNSTEIN: Oh yes. Well, I think, you know, Gore is underperforming the assessment of the country. I mean, historically, when times are this good and voters are this satisfied with the direction of the country, you would have to say the edge goes to the incumbent or the incumbent party.

What's happening right now is that I think Gore is both failing on some personal dimensions, but also he hasn't really established a sense of the stakes of this election: The idea that Bush is a threat to the direction that people like out of the Clinton administration I don't think is out there at all.

I was at a focus group last night that Peter Hart did in Pennsylvania, and at the end of the focus group, there was a very strong sense that people like most of the things that are going on in the country. But that didn't prevent them at the moment from saying they were willing to take a chance with Bush. He does not seem like risky change to many people now, and I think Gore has to strengthen that case in the months ahead if he's going to have a chance.

SHAW: In covering a campaign, you have to always be on-guard for sleeper issues. Is the age question a sleeper in this campaign?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that the sleeper may more be an issue that affects the elderly and everyone else, which is entitlement reform, because Bush is going to come out, has begun to float some very significant restructuring of Social Security and Medicare. He's talking about personal accounts under Social Security and a fundamental transformation of Medicare to make it a system where the government would give you a check in essence to go buy insurance rather than fee for service.

These ideas really haven't been debated or litigated in the primary process, and the question will be whether -- you know what Al Gore is going to do. He's going to basically be arguing they're risky. That word is going to be hanging around them all the time. He's going to be going out there and attacking them, and the question is whether the climate has changed enough where there's enough of a critical mass for change that Bush can go out and defend these things, because I would bet those are the sleepers for the fall that we have not seen much of in the spring. SHAW: I'm thinking about what Bill Schneider just reported. Young people, voters. How loyal to political parties are young people?

BROWNSTEIN: I believe this is correct, that in every election, except 1980, young -- since we've lowered the vote to 18, young people have voted for the winner, the younger cohort has voted for the winner. That's the suggestion that they are the least attached, as bill said, to any party. They tend to get swept along more than perhaps other voters in sort of the zeitgeist of the immediate campaign. And I think that in the end, it's likely to be the case -- George W. Bush almost certainly is going to run better with young people than Bob Dole or his father did, but whether he carries them in the end, I think remains to be seen.

SHAW: Ron Brownstein, "The Los Angeles Times," thanks very much.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have three country club Republicans, all three of them trying to run as part of the Christian Right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Our Bruce Morton will looks at today's North Carolina primary, and the choices in the governor's race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: In the Tarheel State, North Carolina voters are going to the polls this day, deciding which candidates will compete for the chance to replace term-limited Democratic Governor Jim Hunt. The voting ends a primary season filled with rancor and negative ads in both parties.

Our Bruce Morton takes a look at the issues and the name-calling leading up to today's vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): It's always been two states: Research Triangle, high tech, prosperity, which elects progressives like Democratic Governor Jim Hunt; and the rural state, tobacco, Christian, old-fashioned conservative values, which elects staunch conservatives like Republican Jesse Helms. So the three candidates in the Republican primary all say, hey, I'm conservative.

LEO DAUGHTRY (R), NORTH CAROLINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think I represent the values of the party more so than Richard Vinroot does. I've been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. My record of being a pro-life conservative is certainly better than his.

MORTON: Vinroot, a former Charlotte mayor, played for North Carolina's legendary basketball coach, Dean Smith, who's endorsed him. Vinroot signed his "no new taxes" pledge, and attacks Daughtry.

RICHARD VINROOT (R), NORTH CAROLINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Leo Daughtry, one of my opponents, has led the charge to increase our spending by 10 percent a year and given us the largest tax increase this state's ever had.

MORTON: Daughtry, Vinroot and Chuck Neely, the third Republican, all oppose a state lottery, the big issue right now in a lot of Southern states. They're pretty close on other issues, too.

TED ARRINGTON, UNIV. OF N.C., CHARLOTTE: Truth be told, there aren't real issues. What we're dealing with among the Republicans here has been summarized as saying we that have three country club Republicans, all three of them trying to run as part of the Christian Right.

MORTON: Look at the ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, VINROOT CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: New Leo opposes the lottery. Old Leo supported the lottery. New Leo says Vinroot's a liberal. Old Leo praised Richard Vinroot as a solid conservative. Old or new, Leo's all politics, and no principles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DAUGHTRY CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Was even an ally of Harvey Gantt -- until he ran for governor. Richard Vinroot, for 20 years a liberal -- that is, until he ran for governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: This Christian Coalition voter guide says Vinroot supports abortion on demand during the first trimester. He denies it, but it matters.

VINROOT: Just not so, distorted, and we've said that.

ARRINGTON: One thing we know about the Christian conservatives, they vote, and they've been instructed not to vote for Richard Vinroot.

MORTON: The Democrats, both part of term limited Governor Jim Hunt's administration. Attorney General Mike Easley and Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker. Easley leads in most polls. Wicker may have an edge among core Democrats. He got endorsed at this get-out-the-vote rally sponsored by African Americans.

Easley has one big advantage.

ARRINGTON: He's running from the very visible office of attorney general. He's been able to do things for the public and be seen to be doing things for the public for the last four years, whereas Dennis Wicker has been lieutenant governor. It's a position that disappears into the woodwork behind the governor.

MORTON: They agree on issues. Both favor a lottery, the money to go for education. Wicker, in ads, accuses Easley of helping the enemy, forcing fellow Democrat Harvey Gantt into a runoff, which helped Jesse Helm's win re-election in 1996, and giving strategic advice Lauch Faircloth's unsuccessful Senate re-election bid two years later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, WICKER CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: After helping Helms and Faircloth, should Easley be the Democrats' choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON; Don't believe Dennis Wicker's negative TV ad.

MIKE EASLEY (D), NORTH CAROLINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes ambition outruns character, and you'll see a campaign go to that when it gets desperate.

LT. GOV. DENNIS WICKER (D), NORTH CAROLINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have never wavered. I have never stayed away from the path. I have been steadfast and loyal to the Progressive Movement of the Democratic Party.

MORTON (on camera): Whoever wins -- and the winner will need at least 40 percent to avoid a runoff -- the Republicans will nominate a conservative, not quite as conservative as Jesse Helms. The party in this growing state is changing, and the Democrats will nominate a moderate. That's the only kind they'd had. And the general election campaign, like the primary, will probably be nasty.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: And there is much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come, putting a new spin on the presidential primaries, a look at a GOP proposal to overhaul the primary calendar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Both candidates insist their fates are not tied to the fortunes of their party's presidential candidates here. The pundits agree, coattails won't be enough to convince this very independent electorate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: Ed Garsten on a tight Congressional race and the candidates' battle to sway the voters. And later: California dreaming, a look at this former child actor's newfound political ambitions. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: We will have more of the day's political news coming up. But now, a look at some other top stories.

Two U.S. warships are circling the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. It's part of a planned sweep by federal agents to clear protesters from a U.S. bombing range.

CNN's Mike Boettcher joins us by telephone from Vieques with the latest -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, I'm at the front gate of Camp Garcia on the eastern tip of Vieques island, and at the front gate a handful of protesters -- there's the Puerto Rican flag flying in front, the flag of Vieques, a white flag of peace, and banners urging world support for the people of Vieques who want this bombing range eliminated from their island.

Now, calm rules in the protest camps. The action is in the inside of the camp, where there are 14 different protest settlements, if you will, Bernie, where people have vowed that they will not move until they are arrested. They've been there, many of them, for about one year, ever since April 19, 1999, when an errant bomb dropped from a U.S. Marine Corps jet and killed a civilian security guard, David Sanes Rodriguez. Ever since then there has been a movement in Puerto Rico to have the Navy leave Vieques, not use it as a target range, and they are vowing that they will stay here until the federal marshals backed by U.S. Marines come and remove them.

Now, the only U.S. presence we've seen today is one ship on the horizon. Helicopters have been flying sporadically, but not very often. There are reports of a couple of hundred federal law enforcement people in the Puerto Rico region who are preparing to make this removal, or raid, as they call it here, the protesters call it, but no sense of exactly when it will happen. The people here, though, are anxious, they believe it could happen tonight. But right now, Bernie, it's just a waiting game.

Mike Boettcher, CNN live, Vieques, Puerto Rico.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Mike.

Investigators have released official findings from the deadly collapse of logs last November at Texas A&M University. They say there are several reasons the logs toppled: stress on the lower logs, a lack of steel cables, and a lack of organizational control. Twelve people died as the logs came crashing down.

Seven cities where Time Warner pulled ABC programming yesterday are getting the network back today. Time Warner, parent company of CNN, yanked ABC during contract disputes with the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC. In addition to restoring the network, Time Warner also agrees to negotiate until mid-July. The companies are at odds over how much money Time Warner should pay to carry certain Disney channels. President Clinton says he wants to eliminate any glass ceiling that might hold back people with children at home. At today's White House teen conference, Mr. Clinton announced an order forbidding discrimination against federal workers with families. Also, he called for expanded family leave legislation and more funding for after- school programs. This one-day conference focused on raising responsible teenagers.

When INSIDE POLITICS returns: the pros, the cons of a Republican plan to reform the primary system and its chances of becoming a reality.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: This year's presidential primaries started earlier than ever, as you know, then they effectively ended before many Americans even got a chance to vote. The problem: in the rush to hold early and therefore relevant primaries, states leapfrogged one other and crowded the calendar. The result: the primary season was effectively cut to six weeks -- too short for an outside candidate to build support.

A Republican panel today proposed a solution to radically alter the calendar, throwing a question mark over one of America's most durable political traditions: the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa and New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW (voice-over): For half a century, New Hampshire has been the darling of presidential politics -- its voters lavished with personal attention, its leaders courted with a passion, its local businesses awash in media dollars. But now the quadrennial love affair may be in jeopardy. A Republican advisory commission today recommended a new primary calendar that would split the country into four groups by population.

In that plan, the smallest states would go first, including New Hampshire should it lose its first-in-the-nation status. Sixteen other states and territories could also vote then, including Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Alaska, Delaware, and Maine, deciding 13 percent of the delegates. One month later, the next rank of states would go, including Iowa, Mississippi, Connecticut, Oregon, South Carolina, and eight others. In all, 17 percent of the delegates would be decided.

In May, Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri, Washington, Indiana, and Massachusetts would vote, representing 23 percent of the delegates. Finally, in June, the big states would weigh in -- Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, and California.

It's a political atom bomb. By this year's calculations, 47 percent of the delegates would be decided in this final, climactic day.

New Hampshire and Iowa have, of course, survived many challenges to their first-in-the-nation status, and the advisory commission recommended that their position be dealt with separately.

In another major break with tradition, the Republican panel is recommending that convention delegates be allocated proportionally according to the percentage of votes a candidate gets instead of the current system where almost half of all states have a winner-takes-all system.

One surprise: The plan would allow states to keep the controversial open primaries, such as the one in Michigan, where McCain benefited from Democratic crossover votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: At ground zero of the debate over the primary calendar: the Republican state party chairs. A short while ago, I spoke to two with some serious stakes in the outcome -- Iowa GOP chairman Kayne Robinson and Delaware Republican chairman Basil Battaglia, who designed this plan the GOP panel is backing.

I started by asking Battaglia, what's wrong with the current system?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASIL BATTAGLIA, CHAIRMAN, DELAWARE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, the system as it is now is obviously -- it's the problem of front-end loading. And with all the larger states weighing in at a very early time, it takes candidates who can raise an inordinate sum of money to participate. And our proposal basically would do away with all of that, and it would permit the smaller states to vote first, and it would turn the focus back again to issues and ideas. And it will give a chance for every state to participate and every Republican voter a meaningful role in the process.

SHAW (on camera): Kayne Robinson, do you view this plan as a not-so-subtle threat to Iowa's ranking status?

KAYNE ROBINSON, CHAIRMAN, IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY: No, we don't. I think Basil's done a good job.

If you notice in the plan, you proceed down the path for a while and then it separates. And one branch of it has Iowa and New Hampshire first, and we would encourage everyone to go down that path. But obviously, the system has not worked too badly, because we've ended up with two very high quality candidates, and the lesser candidates were in it for a long time and the country got a very good look at those that had very little money and those that had a lot of money.

But this is not something that we view as threatening at all.

SHAW: Basil Battaglia, what about this complaint from the Republican Party Council in New York state? Jeff Bealy (ph) says it's unfair to the Republican nominee because the Democratic nominee would get a leg up. BATTAGLIA: Oh, I would hope that we could work with the Democratic National Committee and where we can all agree on the system that would benefit both parties.

I mean, obviously we need their participation, and we would hope that they would take a look at the Delaware plan in a very serious fashion.

SHAW: He also maintains that the fourth block of states is just taken out of the nominating process.

BATTAGLIA: Well, it really isn't. If you look at it closely, you have all the smaller states building up to a crescendo at the fourth pod, where the larger states all participate and make a meaningful difference.

SHAW: Didn't you really dodge a bullet by not deciding once and for all Iowa and New Hampshire?

BATTAGLIA: No. I mean, we have no objections to Iowa and New Hampshire being first. We have always maintained that position, and we'll maintain it now.

SHAW: Kayne Robinson, what will happen if the current system is not changed?

ROBINSON: I don't think an awful lot will happen. There is a certain amount of concern for front-loading. But as Republicans, I think we have to be a little careful about making things too complicated and too centralized.

For example, if we dictate that we can't start the process until fairly late and the Democrats complete their process and have a candidate very early on, obviously that would lock us into a disadvantage. But other than that, I think this is a good-faith attempt by my good friend Basil and others to find a way of improving the process.

SHAW: What about Kayne Robinson's point?

BATTAGLIA: Well, I think basically that this gives everyone an opportunity to play. While the Democrats may choose their candidate early, I think it's important that each state and each Republican voter have an opportunity to participate in the process and also choose a presidential candidate.

The way that we have it right now, most states are precluded from participating, and I don't think that's very fair to the rank-and-file Republicans in this country who want an opportunity to participate and have an opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice.

SHAW: So Kayne Robinson, effectively, were this plan to be adopted, no longer could you have the steam-roller money-vacuuming that George W. Bush did?

ROBINSON: Well, I think if you analyze the process, the steam- roller has been greatly overexaggerated. You saw Senator McCain come very close to George Bush at one point. You saw candidates like Alan Keyes staying in until the very end and being heard in all the debates and other things.

And so the idea that there was a steam-roller and that everybody didn't get a good look at the candidates through all the states that did participate here is just not true. The country got a very, very good luck at the candidates, both those that were well-financed and those that weren't.

That doesn't mean we can't improve it and it doesn't mean that we're opposed to what Basil has done. But I think we can overstate the consequences.

We ended up with the people that are probably the logical candidates.

SHAW: And finally, Basil Battaglia, what are the chances of this getting through and being approved?

BATTAGLIA: Oh, I think it looks very good for this plan to be approved by the rules committee in Indianapolis. And as you know, we have to present it to the rules committee in Philadelphia at the Republican National Committee. And we're confident on both scores that this plan will be adopted by the Republican National Committee and it will be approved by our convention in July.

SHAW: Gentlemen, thank you.

BATTAGLIA: Thank you.

ROBINSON: Thank you, Bernie.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: David Broder of The Washington Post has been watching and listening to this discussion, and I have to ask you, my friend, what must be going through the minds of Dan Quayle, Elizabeth Dole, Lamar Alexander? For that matter, John McCain?

DAVID BRODER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, they would have liked to have this kind of a system because all of them, I think, would have been able to raise enough money, Bernie, to compete at least in the first round of small state primaries and very possibly stay in beyond that.

This is a well-designed plan if the goal -- main goal of the Republican Party is to open up its nomination contest to more candidate and let them stay in longer. But as you heard here, the tradeoff that they would make is that almost inevitably their nomination would be delayed. And since the Democrats don't show any sign so far of adopting this plan, you could possibly have a situation where the Democratic nominee -- Democrats would know their nominee much earlier than the Republicans.

SHAW: Is it realistic on the part of Basil Battaglia to think that the Democrats would join them in resolving the front-loading controversy?

BRODER: They haven't ruled it out, but the Democratic Party comparable commission said that they had serious reservations about the Delaware plan. So I think it's going to take a lot of salesmanship on Mr. Battaglia's part to get the Democrats go along.

SHAW: Should New Hampshire, should Iowa retain their first-in- the-nation status?

BRODER: Well, you know, I've been going to New Hampshire since 1964, so I have more than a slight attachment to that state, and I would be one who would hate to see it lose its status.

I have to say, in the case of Iowa -- and this will not make me any friends in Iowa -- I think they are double-dipping at this point, because, as you know, we were all out there in the middle of the summer of 1999 for their famous Iowa straw pole.

SHAW: In Ames.

BRODER: And then back there in January essentially to have the same result handed to us in January. I think there may be a good case to be made for saying to Iowa, choose one or the other.

SHAW: If they were given that edict, would they obey it?

BRODER: I don't know. The enforcement provision in this proposal from Senator Brock's commission is very tough. What they are saying to the states is, if this plan is adopted by the Republican convention and you don't comply with it, you will lose half of your delegates at the next convention. So it threatens a very tough penalty.

SHAW: Well, how does this plan compare to some of the others that are floating out there?

BRODER: Well, the secretaries of state endorsed the idea of having four regional primaries, and this Republican commission said, if you don't like the Delaware plan, then go ahead and take a look at the regional primary idea. But Jim Nicholson, the Republican chairman, told us at the press conference that he doesn't see any particular logic in the regional groupings.

SHAW: Two questions I really want to ask you: What will this do to fund raising?

BRODER: Well, it -- it won't slow down the fund raising, but it may make it possible for people like Elizabeth Dole or Dan Quayle, their counterparts in 2004, to play in the game in a way that those candidates could not.

As you know, all of them were knocked out before a single vote was cast in any caucus or primary because they couldn't come up to that level of fund raising that was needed with this heavily front- loaded primary calendar.

SHAW: David Broder, closed or open primaries: Should the states be allowed to decide?

BRODER: I think that's sensible on the part of the Republicans, because the culture and traditions of states are so different that it would probably be a mistake for them to try to lay down some national edict on that. We're going to have a Supreme Court decision, as you know, coming along later this spring about whether you can have the California-style blanket primary, and that in itself may have some indications as to whether open primaries are permissible in the future.

SHAW: This proposal goes all the way to the Republican convention in Philadelphia this summer -- what are the chances?

BRODER: I think it's going to be a tough fight on the convention floor, because as you've heard, the final round of primaries under the Delaware plan would involve states that have 47 percent of the delegates. If all of those big states say we don't like this plan, it's going to be very hard to pass at a convention.

SHAW: Absolutely. David Broder, "Washington Post," thanks, good to see you.

Up next, a tossup in Michigan, and a possibility tied to a big what if -- the latest on that New York Senate race, still ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Today, New York Governor George Pataki said he's not ruling out a Senate bid if New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani decides not to make the race. Pataki said he expects Giuliani to run, and that the mayor's recovery from prostate cancer will be quick and complete, but when pressed by reporters, the governor replied -- quote -- I am not ruling anything out. In Michigan, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow's decision to run for Senate has left a key seat up for grabs in the tight battle for control of the House.

Our Ed Garsten now with a field report on the candidates and the issues in Michigan's 8th district.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARSTEN (voice-over): State's Senator Diane Byrum, a straight- shooting Democrat with the gun control political beliefs of a Republican.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diane, let me tell you very quickly, I am a Democrat, but I am very much in favor of gun control, and I can't supports. We would love to support you...

GARSTEN: State senator Mike Rogers, a Republican in a slightly Republican district who's still fighting for recognition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your name again?

MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN STATE SENATOR: Rogers -- Mike Rogers.

You can remember Roy Rogers, or Buck Rogers or Mr. Rogers.

GARSTEN: Rogers and Byrum are in a tight race to snatch the eight district seat that opened up when Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow decided to run for the U.S. Senate. It's a seat that Democrats are desperate to retain and one the Republicans are hungry to capture.

BILL BALLENGER, MICHIGAN INSIDER: Because control of the U.S. House of Representatives hangs in the balance this year, a mere five- seat swing.

GARSTEN: It's a race with no front-runner.

ED SARPOLUS, EPIC/MRA: Specifically it's because Democrats should never win this seat. This is a Republican base.

GARSTEN: But moderate -- the eighth district is largely responsible for John McCain's victory in the Michigan Republican primary.

At 45, Byrum is ten years-older than her opponent with more years experience in the Michigan legislature than Rogers. She paints herself as a down-to-Earth mother and businesswoman who happens to be a state senator.

Her pet issues:

DIANE BYRUM (D), MICHIGAN STATE SENATE: I am focusing on health care and education. That is what I'm about, and that's what I've been about as a community leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course we're all interested in education.

ROGERS: You bet. You bet. Well, this package would allow you to put money away tax free.

GARSTEN: Mike Rogers is an ex-Army officer and FBI agent who says he just wants to make a difference in education, health care and the tax code.

ROGERS: We need to talk about real solutions for Social Security and Medicare, and we can do that. We can provide prescription coverage to the seniors that need it, without a big government program taking over.

GARSTEN (on camera): For a hotly contested race, there has been little acrimony between the two sides. About the only exception, an exchange of charges of campaign finance irregularity, an issue thus far the electorate has largely ignored.

(voice-over): And will probably continue to do so.

BALLENGER: It's not hitting home with anybody, and frankly, why they are raising so much question about it on both sides is a bit of a mystery. GARSTEN: Both candidates insist their fates are not tied to the fortunes of their party's presidential candidates here. The pundits agree, coattails won't be enough to convince this very independent electorate.

ROGERS: Hi, Maurice. Mike Rogers, state senator here, running for Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you are?

GARSTEN: Ed Garsten, CNN, Lansing, Michigan .

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: Stu Rothenberg of the "Rothenberg Political Report" has pulled up a chair.

Stu, let's talk a little more about the contest for the seat in Michigan, the 8th.

STU ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Well, Bernie, two very attractive candidates, as you can see by the report, articulate. Byrum is running, basically, as a moderate Democrat, a small business woman. I think Rogers, the Republican, is going to try to paint her as more of a liberal. Her coattails of course will not be decisive here.

However, the Democrats are hoping that Debbie Stabenow does very well statewide. She's going to do well in this district that she's leaving open, and that Diane Byrum may benefit from that. Rogers has had a slight advantage on early fund-raising. I think this race is going to come right down to the wire.

SHAW: Now nationally, we know that the backdrop for this is the 6th seat margin the Republicans control the House of Representatives, so what are some of the most vulnerable open House seats in this election?

ROTHENBERG: Well, certainly this Michigan eight is one of them, but there are a dozen or so that are actually critical in determining control of the House. The first one I would identify would be Virginia, too. This is Owen Pickett's open seat. The Republicans have a state senator, Ed Schrock. This is a pretty conservative district, pretty Republican district. The Democrats are now talking about Jody Wagner. She's a community activist, an attorney. She raised a lot of money, actually she's raised a couple $100,000 very quickly. I still think it is uphill for any Democrats, I think Schrock has an advantage, although the Democrats are now talking about it and trying to keep it in play.

SHAW: And in Washington?

ROTHENBERG: The second seat would be Washington, too. This is a Republican open seat. Congressman Metcalf, self-term limited, retiring, causing a problem here. The Republicans just avoided a primary -- John Koster, the state legislator is going to be the nominee, a formal legislature just dropped out. The Democrats have one candidates, Rick Larson, a Sonoma County councilman, a strong candidate. He's articulate. He's down to earth. And this really is a Democratic- leaning district, this is going to be a tough seat for the Republicans to hold, I think.

SHAW: And onto the next one.

ROTHENBERG: Third would be Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania's fourth congressional district. This is a Western PA district, a north -- actually around Pittsburgh. The Democrat is Terry Van Horn in something of an upset win in a recent Democratic primary. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee preferred another candidate, the DA, who lost. Melissa Hart, state senator, is a Republican. She represents a Democratic legislative district. This is a pretty Democratic congressional district. All things being equal, the Democrats should hold it. They are not equal at this point. I think if you ask most people they would think Hart is at least 50/50 to win the seat. Republicans are extremely optimistic about it, I think they have a decent chance.

SHAW: And in New Jersey?

ROTHENBERG: New Jersey seven, this is Bob Franks. Congressman Bob Franks has an open seat, he is retiring to run for the U.S. Senate for the Republican nomination. I think the Republicans have a problem here. The Democrats have a primary, but the party establishment is solidified behind Michael Palma, who is a union county manager, he has all the Democratic establishment.

Maryanne Connelly, who ran a credible race against Franks last time, is running again. She has a lot of women's groups behind her, she is kind of the outsider, the underdog. She will be running on a number of county lines with Jim Floria, who is kind of the outsider in the Senate race. But Palma starts off with a lot of establishment support.

The Republican race is a mess, you have Tom Kean Jr., the son of the former governor, Mike Ferguson, who is running in another congressional district and has switched here, Joe Weingarten, a state legislator. This race has got to shake out a little bit better for the Republicans than it now looks, I think they're going to have trouble holding it.

SHAW: And to another battleground state, Illinois?

ROTHENBERG: Illinois 10, and this is John Porter's open seat. The Republicans have a moderate candidate in a crowded, messy primary, they have Mark Kirk, a former aide to the congressman. He is pro- choice, he is pro-gun control. The Democrats have a state legislator, Mary Beth Gash, she starts off with a lot more money, the Democratic Party behind her initially.

This is a swing district. It's an -- it's very upscale, highly educated, highly -- high-income white-collar district. Initially, I thought Gash had an edge. I think the Republicans have a good candidate. I think Kirk has a chance here. SHAW: And what's happening in West Virginia?

ROTHENBERG: This is a primary that's coming up within the next week. The Democrats have a three-way race between Ken Heckler, the 80-some-odd-year-old secretary of state, a former congressman, Jim Humphreys, a very wealthy trial lawyer who has pumped in over a million dollars into this race, and Martha Walker, a state senator.

The Republican is Shelly Moore Capito, a state legislator and the daughter of former Governor Arch Moore. Depends how this Democratic primary shakes out, the Republicans may have a chance to steal one here. This is a district that should be Democratic, but Capito is a nice contrast with a couple of these possible Democrats.

SHAW: Stu Rothenberg, thanks very much.

ROTHENBERG: My pleasure, Bernie.

SHAW: And when we return, a familiar name that may soon appear on some California ballots.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Former child actor Gary Coleman says he's planning to make the jump into politics. The former star of the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" announced over the weekend he intends to run for a California state Senate seat. The 32-year-old Coleman says he has not yet decided his party affiliation and he may run as an Independent.

That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.

And this programming note: Joe Klein, author of a new novel, "The Running Mate," will discuss presidential politics tonight on "CROSSFIRE." That's at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.

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