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Inside Politics

McCain Endorses Bush: What Does it Mean For GOP?; Former Louisiana Governor Found Guilty of Racketeering; White House Pushes Trade With China

Aired May 9, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I endorse, I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush.


I endorse Governor Bush, I endorse Governor Bush.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, I enthusiastically accept.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The long awaited Bush-McCain meeting leads to an endorsement, if not a meeting of the minds.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two questions go to the complexity of this awkward political mating game. Why endorse George Bush and/or why not endorse him sooner?


WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley on McCain's motives and the bitter pills he swallowed.

Plus, the verdict is in on the racketeering trial of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards.

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

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

One practically expected to hear a drum roll as George W. Bush and John McCain emerged from their one-on-one meeting in Pittsburgh, given all the speculation that had preceded their get-together. In the end, McCain took some of the drama out of their political relationship by clearly backing Bush's presidential bid.

We begin our coverage with CNN's John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They stood side by side after more than an hour face-to-face, former rivals now on the same team.

MCCAIN: I look forward to enthusiastically campaigning for Governor Bush for the next six months, between now and November.

KING: But the senator didn't look terribly enthusiastic, and it took some prodding from reporters to elicit the words the governor was eager to hear.

MCCAIN: I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush.


I endorse Governor Bush. I endorse Governor Bush.

BUSH: By the way, I enthusiastically accept.

KING: So close that chapter of campaign 2000, and this one, too.

BUSH: I asked his advice about the vice presidency.

MCCAIN: And I asked that I not be considered for vice president of the United States.

KING: Aides in both camps acknowledged there's little personal chemistry here, and McCain said his endorsement did not mean he'd stop airing his differences with Bush on issues like tax cuts and campaign finance reform.

MCCAIN: I think our discussions and our debate will be healthy and, in the long run, helpful to the party and the country.

KING: Many in the Bush camp resent that McCain has stayed in the spotlight in the two months since bowing out of the Republican race, and many Senate colleagues back in Washington were grumbling that McCain was a sore loser. The emphasis here was on looking ahead and finding common ground against a common enemy on issues like education, military spending, and Social Security reform.

BUSH: It's going to be a big difference of opinion between what he and I believe and what Vice President Gore believes. Vice President Gore's willing to accept the status quo. He's willing to think the current system is going to work, and we don't.

KING: Advisers say McCain and Bush talked just three times for a total of only seven to 10 minutes before the Pittsburgh meeting. McCain initially wanted to hold an endorsement for another month or so, but decided over the weekend he was hurting himself by not making crystal clear he's in the Republican fold. But there are still tensions. McCain aides were angry, for example, that Bush did not answer directly when asked if he would repudiate Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson's statement that a McCain vice presidency would be "dangerous."

BUSH: Listen, I like John. I'm looking forward. I intend to become the president.

KING: But this was a day for the cameras, and there were plenty of them -- a long-anticipated day to project an image of Republican unity.

BUSH: I love you, man.

MCCAIN: David.


KING: Now, love might be a bit of a stretch, but both men had something to gain. Senator McCain wanted to prove his party loyalty and silence the critics who suggested he was being a sore loser, and for Governor Bush it was another day to celebrate, another reminder that for all the spotlight on McCain it's the Texas governor who will lead the Republican ticket this fall -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, John, where does this leave the McCain reform agenda? Does he -- he goes off and he promotes his reform agenda, and what does Governor Bush say or do about it?

KING: Well, let's start with Governor Bush. Governor Bush said there are more agreements than disagreements if we're talking about education reform, Pentagon reform and some of the sub-issues of campaign finance reform.

Obviously, still a big disagreement over soft money. Governor Bush does not want to ban the large contributions from individual donors, Senator McCain says he'll continue to speak out for that. He says he can do so in a way that does not contradict his support for Governor Bush. One key thing to look for down the road though will be when the Republican Party starts running those soft money ad, ads funded by all that soft money, what does Senator McCain say then? -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King in Pittsburgh, thanks very much.

Now a closer look at the internal struggle and the long-term agenda which led to McCain's endorsement of Bush.

Here is our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.


CROWLEY (voice-over): To share the podium with a man he thinks waged a dirty campaign, to endorse a man who does not share his vision on the core issue of campaign finance reform -- John McCain often lets humor soften the truth. MCCAIN: I think your take the medicine now is probably a good description.


CROWLEY: Two questions go to the complexity of this awkward political mating game: why endorse George Bush?

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Both of them looked uncomfortable. I think that's a fair statement. That doesn't mean that they don't have a lot of agreement.

CROWLEY: And/or why not endorse him sooner?

GRAHAM: This was a tough primary, and for us to jump in the next day and say, "all is well," would sort of be a phony deal.

CROWLEY: In the post-primary days, an aide close to McCain says nothing ate at the senator as much as Bush's ads in New York suggesting that McCain opposed breast cancer research. It was exacerbated by Bush's cool response when told that McCain's sister had breast cancer.

BUSH: All the more reason to remind him of what he said about the research that goes on here.

CROWLEY: Bush added that he was sorry about McCain's sister, but the damage was done. Personally, McCain may not forgive or forget, but there are political reasons to set it aside.

MCCAIN: For me to look back in anger or with any rancor would be a mistake. It would harm me. It would harm Governor Bush. And it would harm those who supported me in this campaign.

CROWLEY: If lingering resentment helped fuel McCain's two-month silence about Bush, so, too, did this. A man who toiled in the blandness of the Senate chamber for almost two decades became, in mere months, a political phenomenon and a best-selling author.

McCain's post-primary days included a high-profile meeting with the independents' independent, Jesse Ventura, a much televised return to Vietnam, and a campaign swing with fellow in-your-face Republican Rudy Giuliani.

The intoxication of the campaign trail is hard to walk away from, and so, too, the audience. Four and a half million passionate voters gave McCain victories in seven states. And even as he reached out to Bush, McCain held on to them.

MCCAIN: I will continue to pursue the issues of reform, and I want to assure those people that supported me in the primary that I will continue to pursue this agenda.

CROWLEY: You never know when McCain and his supporters may cross paths again. Which brings us to how, in the end, John McCain found there were more political reasons to help George Bush than there were personal reasons not to.

GRAHAM: But it's very important to John and John's future in this party, and whatever aspirations he may have, is to be seen as a value-added product.

CROWLEY: Perhaps with John McCain's help, George Bush will win this fall, or maybe he won't, and if he doesn't, the GOP will need to nominate someone else in 2004.

(on camera): There are seasons in politics, a time to be a maverick and a time to be a team player. For John McCain, the time had come to play nicely with others or run the risk that in some future season Republicans might not let him in the game.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Pittsburgh.


WOODRUFF: Well, much of the interest in McCain's endorsement of Bush stems from the senator's continued prominence on the political scene.

We're joined now by our Bill Schneider.

Bill, has McCain retained his popularity since the primaries?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'll say. Let's take a look at how McCain, who you remember lost the primaries, compares with the two men who won. Just over half of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Al Gore. Gore's negatives are well over 40 percent. Voters like George W. Bush better, 2-1 favorable.

Now, how does John McCain stack up against those two? Well, he certainly doesn't look like a loser. At 72 percent favorable, McCain is more popular than either Gore or Bush, just 16 percent have a negative view of the Arizona senator. McCain loses the primaries and he ends up more popular than both of the winners.

WOODRUFF: Does he draw a different kind of support, Bill, from the kind of support that Bush pulls?

SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. McCain's popularity crosses party lines. McCain is very popular with Republicans, but over 60 percent of Democrats also like him. Even more important, McCain has high standing with independents, which means he can influence swing voters. McCain is a nonpartisan figure. Also, non-ideological.

Take a look. Remember how much trouble McCain got from conservatives in the Republican primaries? He threatened their control of the GOP. Well, McCain said he would put the rancor of the primaries behind him, and apparently so have conservatives, 73 percent of conservatives like him, and so do 77 percent of liberals, and 71 percent of moderates, the biggest constituency of all.

I can't think of another politician who draws that kind of support from left and right, at least not one who's still alive. This is a very unusual thing, a politician who's just been through a bitter and divisive campaign drawing support like that. Nearly everybody likes McCain. McCain's support is not about party, and it's not about ideology; it's about him.

WOODRUFF: So is it transferable to the man he's endorsed?

SCHNEIDER: Well, that's a very good question. I don't think McCain can just deliver his supporters to George Bush. McCain's support is not based on issues or conviction. Other politicians can't just pick it up by endorsing similar views. In fact, McCain was very careful today to say that he and Bush did not make any deals today on the issues.

McCain is beyond ideology. That's the key. McCain's embrace makes Bush look more mainstream, which is exactly what Bush has been trying to do for the last two months in what one extremely clever Democrat calls "The Bob Jones Redemption Tour."

Well, if anybody can help redeem Bush from Bob Jones University, I think that would be John McCain.

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

Well, now we hear from the chiefs of the two major political parties. Weighing in, we are joined by DNC national chairman Joe Andrew and RNC chairman Jim Nicholson.

Jim Nicholson, did George W. Bush need this endorsement today?

JIM NICHOLSON, RNC CHAIRMAN: This was a great thing for Governor Bush and our party today. I mean, as Bill pointed out, John McCain's a very popular figure and he ran a very competitive race, and they're two very competitive people. And they came together today, and McCain endorsed Bush.

WOODRUFF: Did he need it, is my question. Did the governor need the endorsement?

NICHOLSON: Well, you know, it's hard to say in the end whether he would have needed it to win. He's been doing very well. But it's certainly going to be helpful, because John McCain has excited a lot of people throughout the country, and I don't exactly agree with Bill Schneider's characterization of him as being nonideological. I think he stands for a lot of thing. He's a real reform-minded person, and so is Governor Bush.

And now, we've got the two of them together, and that's a mighty strong team.

WOODRUFF: And Joe Andrew, now that they are together, it's a formidable combination. How does Al Gore defeat this strong set of opponents, if you will, on the other side?

JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: No one who saw those photographs today or those pictures on television thinks these two people are really together. Jim's right: There is something about ideology here and they do stand for things, very different things.

George Bush has talked about trying to have comity in this process, a less rancor, less divisiveness, less negative, but that's exactly what happened in the Republican Party. They disagree on every major issue, and that's why this is one of the silliest things to happen in a very silly Republican primary, these kind of peace talk photo-ops. In fact, that's why we introduced a CD today called McComedy Central -- I brought a copy of it here for you -- that has a list here of all of John McCain's quotes about George W. Bush on it and all the things they disagree, ending with John McCain saying that George W. Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican and he's going to lose to Al Gore.

John McCain's right about a lot of things, including that.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you...

NICHOLSON: The greatest form of flattery is imitation. We put out a CD about 10 days about Al Gore's greatest hit, you know, about all these foibles and flip-flops, and I'm glad to see...

WOODRUFF: So you're saying they're copying you.

NICHOLSON: Of course.

WOODRUFF: Jim Nicholson, what about -- we just heard Joe Andrew mention Pat Robertson. It is the case that when Governor Bush was asked about Pat Robertson again today, he still did not repudiate what Pat Robertson said during the primaries. Is this something that you're comfortable with just being out there? Not publicly repudiated by the leader of your party?

NICHOLSON: Well, you know, a lot of things go on in these primaries, and people say things, and it creates some scar tissue. But most of that heals up, and I think this will as well.

I'm not surprised that John McCain endorsed Governor Bush today. John McCain was in my office a year and a half ago, and he said, I'm going to run for the president. And he said, if I don't win, he said, I'm going to support the nominee of my party. I'm a loyal, faithful Republican, and he showed that again today.

WOODRUFF: Joe Andrew, I just -- I have it on very good authority, namely from Bill Schneider, that you are the Democrat who talked about the Bob Jones Redemption Tour that John McCain went on.

Does it again the fact that he went on that tour but now he's with George W. Bush, doesn't that make it all the harder for Al Gore to make a case against this Republican candidate?

ANDREW: Oh, not in the least. You know, no one can find, even in contemporary political history, some time when it's taken a defeated candidate so long to endorse the person who actually beat him in their own party. There is a gulf here in the middle of the Republican Party as big as the Grand Canyon. George W. Bush's central point is $2.1 trillion tax cut plan that John McCain calls foolish. John McCain's central piece of legislation is McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform that George W. Bush won't endorse and won't support.

You can't have two people that are more different inside the same party.

NICHOLSON: I think it's really interesting. You know, they've been saying that using the word reckless and irresponsible -- now, these two great Republican leaders come together today and Joe calls it silly, and that there's a big gulf. They have extreme unity. The gulf going on out there is in the Democrat Party.

We saw Senator Moynihan on Sunday endorse Governor Bush's Social Security reforms. We see a break in their party with Senator Breaux and Senator Kerrey over Social Security. There's divisions in the party between Gore and the Democratic Leadership Council. The real breach going on here is in the Democratic Party.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me -- speaking of break or divisions in the party, Jim Nicholson, what about Candy Crowley's -- or maybe it was -- I'm sorry, John King's point, that what is John McCain going to say when the Republican Party, of which you are the head, starts running these ads paid for with soft money, which John McCain says should be banned.

First of all, is the party going to run these kinds of ads?

NICHOLSON: Well, we are endeavoring to be in a position to respond. You know, Gore is in an attack mode. That's about all he does is attack and try to demean and criticize and ridicule. He's not putting out anything positive himself. Governor Bush is doing that almost every day on Social Security and health care and on taxes.

So if they attack us, we want to be in a position, of course, to defend ourselves. And that takes resources, because it costs money to advertise on CNN.

WOODRUFF: And Joe Andrew, if that's what the Republicans are prepared to do, what do the Democrats do?

ANDREW: You know, we've issued a challenge that we won't run issue ads unless they do. Jim has already run them. They've run them in California already.


ANDREW: They were paid for by soft money. The fact of the matter is we've chosen not to respond yet, but we'll make the same commitment today that the vice president made in the same challenge: to not have 30-second ads, to instead have debates every single week and get out of this process.

NICHOLSON: I'm running an ad in California in the Hispanic community in Fresno where I have an independent young mother on there. She's a registered independent, talking about how important it is, she thinks, to keep an open mind. That's the so-called "attack ad" that Joe is describing.

ANDREW: I didn't call it an attack ad. The question is soft ad, and it is.

NICHOLSON: I thought you did. You said they're doing it already.

ANDREW: You are.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there this time. But when you come back, we'll straighten it all out again.

Jim Nicholson, Joe Andrew...

ANDREW: Thank you.

NICHOLSON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... thank you both very much. We appreciate you being with us.

And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS...


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So what do you do with the man you beat? Sometimes ignore him. Sometimes draft him.


WOODRUFF: Our Bruce Morton on history and how today's Bush- McCain meeting fits into the patterns of the past.


WOODRUFF: George W. Bush may be able to breathe a sigh of relief now that his former rival has endorsed his candidacy.

Our Bruce Morton looks back now at how some other presidential nominees have handled what sometimes was an awkward situation.


MORTON (voice-over): What do you do with the guy you beat? John Kennedy ignored Hubert Humphrey, the man he beat, and, knowing he needed help in the South, persuaded Senate leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas to be his running mate. They won, of course.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help.


MORTON: 1964's Republican winner, conservative Barry Goldwater wanted nothing to do with the man he beat, moderate, which many Goldwater delegates translated as "wicked," Nelson Rockefeller of New York. They booed him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARRY GOLDWATER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.



MORTON: In 1976, Gerald Ford ignored the man he beat, Ronald Reagan, and chose Bob Dole as his running mate. In 1980, at the Republican convention, there was an evening's worth of speculation about Ford as nominee Reagan's running mate. It would be a kind of co-presidency, some said. But Reagan said, "no," and unlike most nominees, picked the man he'd beaten, his most persistent rival in the primaries, George Bush.

In 1984, the Democrats picked Walter Mondale. Gary Hart went back to the Senate. But what to do with Jesse Jackson? In the end, Jackson made a memorable speech to the convention.


JESSE JACKSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient. God is not finished with me yet.


MORTON: In 1988, nominee Michael Dukakis never figured out Jackson. Jackson hinted at the number two spot, didn't get it. If he'd been happier, could he have helped the ticket more? Hard to say. Dukakis made enough mistakes to lose.

In 1992, with Jesse Jackson opting not to run, Bill Clinton faced little opposition, a nominee who'd run in the South who couldn't win without black voters and could talk to them. He scored points with whites and blacks by criticizing rapper Sister Souljah at a Jackson- sponsored event.


GOV. WILLIAM CLINTON (D-AR), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I defend her right to express herself through music, but her comments before and after Los Angeles were filled with a kind of hatred that you do not honor today and tonight.


MORTON: So what do you do with the man you beat? Sometimes ignore him, sometimes draft him. Today, Bush received the endorsement of the man he beat. Not a bad start.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

Still to come: the verdict is in for former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, we will have the latest.



CLINTON: If the Congress votes against it, they'll be kicking themselves in the rear 10 years from now, because America will be paying the price.


WOODRUFF: President Clinton turns on the pressure as Congress struggles with the issue of China's trade status.

Plus, another hot-button issue plays out on television. A look at the ads and the money with David Peeler.

And later...


FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to the way reporters cover politics, why the Internet revolution has truly arrived. The old morning paper, evening news cycle has been blown away. News is now instant and so is the response.


WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno on how campaigns and media coverage are changing in the Internet age.


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

The nation's richest lottery prize just keeps getting bigger. The jackpot in Tuesday night's Big Game drawing has now topped $350 million. Lottery officials say thousands of tickets are being sold each minute at outlets in the seven participating states. A single winner who selected the cash option would receive a lump-sum payment of about $118 million after taxes. Otherwise, he or she would receive 26 annual after-tax payments of $9.1 million. Officials do say that it is unlikely that there will be one winner because of the sheer volume of tickets that have already been sold.

Which U.S. airline do frequent fliers rate as their favorite? Well, a new survey asked veteran travelers to rate the nation's air carriers, based on a number of criteria. And according to the study, one factor stood out: getting there on time.

Details from CNN's Carl Rochelle.


CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Continental Airlines was the top choice of frequent flyers for both long- and short-haul flights, according to a survey by J.D. Power Associates of more than 6,000 passengers who flew 25 or more times in the last year. The survey asked passengers to rate their last three flights on nine different airlines for seating, baggage handling, flight availability, but one issue stood out.

MIKE TAYLOR, J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES: On-time performance is the key driver. People take an airplane to not experience the food necessarily, or to have an in-flight movie, they take the plane to get somewhere on time.

ROCHELLE: TWA, last year's leader in the short-haul category, finished second in both categories this year. Southwest was third. America West, American, Delta, Northwest, US Airways, and United fell below the national average in short-haul flights. United matched the national standard in long-haul flights.

But passengers still have mixed views on airline performance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, I've been pretty happy and I fly quite a bit. So I'm pretty pleased for the past year. I think there's, you know, a lot of improvement in the service.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's getting more crowded and, I don't know, I'm finding that it's just harder to travel in general.

ROCHELLE: The survey also reflected continued dissatisfaction. More than half of those who responded reported some type of problem with their flight. Key among them: on-time performance, seating issues, and carry-on luggage space.

Critics say the survey doesn't show a true picture of passenger concerns.

DAVID STEMPLER, AIR TRAVELER ASSOCIATION: We are all looking for kinder, gentler airlines these days. But these kind of factors don't change the way that people select airlines for their trips. What we found is that it's price, schedule and frequent flier relationships that make the determination.

ROCHELLE (on camera): Southwest and Continental fared well in a separate survey a month ago that measured on-time performance, baggage handling, and other passenger complaints. But that survey, using information the airlines provided to the Department of Transportation, also found that passenger complaints were up 130 percent last year.

Carl Rochelle, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WOODRUFF: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the verdict against former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards.


WOODRUFF: Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards was found guilty today of 17 counts of racketeering and fraud in connection with a scheme to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen applying for riverboat casino licenses. Still under a gag order, the 72-year-old Edwards spoke briefly to reporters in Baton Rouge about his first conviction after being the target of almost two dozen investigations over the years.


EDWIN EDWARDS, FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR: Frankly, I didn't expect it, but it is the nature of the beast. We live by this system and we die by it.

I'm sorry that it came to this point, and I again want to express my appreciation to everyone who has been so supportive during the past three years, and hope that when it's all said and done -- and it's not yet all said and done -- all will be well.


WOODRUFF: It is not yet clear what Edward's sentence might be. If he had been convicted of all 26 counts against him, he could have faced a maximum of more than 300 years in prison.

Edwards' son, Stephen, also was convicted of 18 counts.

Well, joining us now is John Maginnis of "The Louisiana Political Fax Weekly."

John, tell us just exactly what was Edwards accused of doing?

JOHN MAGINNIS, "LOUISIANA POLITICAL FAX WEEKLY": He was accused of at least making these casino developers believe that he could help them out or that he could he hurt them if he didn't -- if they didn't give him money or agree to do it in the future.

Part of -- some of the schemes were while he was governor, and the latest one involved Eddie DeBartolo after he had left the governor's office.

But they said that he was using his authority as governor or that his political power as an extortion tool against these businessmen.

WOODRUFF: Does this mean, these verdicts, does this mean the prosecution had a pretty airtight case here?

MAGINNIS: I don't call it airtight. I mean, I think they put a very big, interesting picture up there. There were some holes in it. But overall, there was a pattern there that made the jury believe that there was -- something was wrong here. The wire taps, I think, were very compelling evidence, but also the witnesses who turned on Edwards, his former friends, and testified against him -- I think they carried a lot of weight too.

WOODRUFF: Now, what was the reaction on Edwards' part and the others when the verdicts were read?

MAGINNIS: Well, Edwards was his usual poker face. He didn't -- he didn't -- you know, he didn't show any emotion. He was just making notes as they went. His family was just breaking down in tears as his daughter-in-law, Leslie, collapsed in her mother's arms. Sandy -- Candy (ph) Edwards was bending over and crying, but she righted herself and then she was comforting the rest of the family.

The whole -- that whole side of the courtroom was filled with friends and relatives, and they were just all crying. It was -- it was a very emotional moment.

But Edwards was the one who just said, you know, who would not -- he would -- he didn't change his demeanor.

WOODRUFF: What -- what was different about this trial from all the other -- investigation from all the others? I mean, we point out they tried so many times to get Edwards and they finally did. What was different this time?

MAGINNIS: Well, this time they had live witnesses against him. They never -- they didn't have that before in his previous two trials, and I think they had the wiretap evidence against him. I mean, Edwin Edwards own words being used against him, that's never happened before, and I think that was some pretty compelling evidence: and not just Edwards' words but his son too. And I think that -- that kind of brought some life to this conspiracy for the jury to be able to appreciate.

WOODRUFF: Appeal possibilities?

MAGINNIS: Oh, absolutely, and probably the first point that they will appeal was that the judge dismissed a juror last week in the middle of deliberations because the juror would not follow instructions and would not cooperate. And this juror apparently was a pro-defense juror. And so, you know, Edwards and company will say that he was booted off the jury, that he was unfairly discharged, and that he could have held out for acquittal.

WOODRUFF: Any sense, John, of what the sentencing might be? Is it completely up to the judge?

MAGINNIS: Well, no, there are federal sentencing guidelines, which are very strict and very onerous when you're dealing with this amount of money, public officials, and money laundering, which he was convicted of. I mean, he's looking at double digits higher than that.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Maginnis of "The Louisiana Political Fax Weekly" talking about Edwin Edwards, the former governor of Louisiana, a huge figure in Louisiana politics for the last few decades.

Up next, China's trade status and the ad wars: a look at how much groups on both sides are spending to get their messages to the voters.


WOODRUFF: President Clinton today enlisted some of his predecessors, Democratic and Republicans, to help him in a battle he is waging largely with members of his own party.

At issue: a House vote, expected later this month, on whether to permanently normalize trade relations with China.

More on the presidential pitch now from our White House correspondent Major Garrett.


MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With two former presidents at his side, President Clinton challenged wavering House members to support free trade with China.

CLINTON: If the Congress votes against it, they'll be kicking themselves in the rear 10 years from now, because America will be paying the price. And I believe the price will start to be paid not 10 years from now, not even 10 months from now, but immediately.

GARRETT: After saturating Congress with its economic pitch on China, the White House is hammering the national security angle by enlisting support from America's top voices on international and defense policy.

Former President Ford said free trade with China would bring stability to Asia, thereby enhancing U.S. national security interests.

GERALD FORD, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want China's economic reform to succeed. Our own interests are best served by a steadily growing China that contributes to stability, politically, economically, in Asia.

GARRETT: But these arguments have failed to sway many prominent House Democrats.

One of the leading opponents of the China trade deal says the White House is ignoring China's record on trade.

REP. DAVID BONIOR (D-MI), MINORITY WHIP: The real problem here is that China has not lived up with any of its trade agreements for the last eleven years, 10 years. It is a country that does not have any semblance at all of enforcement or compliance, and so they're rushing to get this thing done, because they know they're in trouble.

GARRETT: The White House knows House Republicans will supply most of the votes it needs. And despite some gloomy forecasts from Bonior, the Republican point many says the free traders have the momentum. REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: It's a real winner in our quest to deal with national security and human rights concerns, and I believe that we are going to win.


GARRETT: Privately, White House officials are similarly upbeat. Week by week, they've picked up Democratic support in the House. Events like today's are designed to win over more Democrats and satisfy Republican demands that the White House do most of the heavy political lifting -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Major Garrett reporting from the White House, thank you.

Well, although former President George Bush also supports the China trade bill, he did not attend today's White House event, citing a previous commitment. In the process, he avoided sharing a stage with his son's presidential opponent.

CNN's Beth Fouhy reports on Al Gore's participation in the China trade pitch and his other appearance of the day.


BETH FOUHY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a day of vice presidential duties for Al Gore, all tinged with a campaign flavor. By morning, he played the statesman, promoting permanent normal trade status with China, even offering praise to a president named Bush.

GORE: I would also like to thank President Bush, who is not here today, but he has been unequivocal on this issue.

FOUHY: Seemingly at ease alongside diplomats and presidents, Gore, unlike the rest, risks a political price for his support of the controversial proposal. Facing the opposition from organized labor, human rights activists, and environmentalists -- virtually the core of the Democratic Party -- Gore acknowledged the disagreements, but stayed steadfast in his views.

GORE: There are those who disagree with us on this issue. I respect their views, and I understand their impatience with the pace of change in China.

FOUHY: By afternoon, he was back on more comfortable ground, before the Anti-Defamation League, whose work on behalf of Israel Gore has long supported. He even tried out a few jokes -- in his words, the latest on the Jewish country and Western hit list.

GORE: Number three is "The second time she said shalom, I knew she meant goodbye."


FOUHY: He returned to a more serious subject, pledging broad federal legislation to combat crimes motivated by bigotry or bias. GORE: I call for the passage of national hate crimes legislation in this session of Congress. It is time.


FOUHY: In his vice presidential mode, Gore's swipes at his GOP rival were necessarily subtle. But a foray into the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in South Carolina left little to the imagination.

GORE: When the Confederate flag flies over the state capitol, it should concern us all. This is not complicated -- that flag has to come down, from that state capitol.


FOUHY: During the months of emotional debate on that issue, George W. Bush has said the people of South Carolina should decide the future of the flag. Likewise, he's resisted endorsing a hate crimes bill in the state of Texas, despite a high-profile, racially charged murder there in 1998.

GORE: In Texas we saw James Byrd dragged to his death from behind a pickup truck simply because of the color of his skin.

FOUHY (on camera): With two of James Byrd's killers facing the death penalty and a third spending his life behind bars, Bush aides say it proves Texans have no tolerance for hate. They say Gore's comments are just part of a pattern of tearing down Governor Bush, while offering few positive proposals of his own.

Beth Fouhy, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: The battle over China's trade status is playing out on television, as well as here in Washington.

For more than a month, the AFL-CIO has been running this ad in opposition to the permanent normal trade status bill.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Jae Jing Xhu (ph) endured years of torture for challenging a brutal system of slave wages and sweatshops, through which Chinese workers are exploited and Americans lose jobs. But instead of pressuring China to stop these practices, Congress, is set to scrap its annual review of China's record and reward Beijing with a permanent trade deal.


WOODRUFF: While the AFL-CIO ad says the bill would hurt American workers, another ad, paid for by the Business Roundtable, says workers want trade with China.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trade with China...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: will open new frontiers and build a better future for me and my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China's markets have unlimited potential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work in America, and trade for China works with me. Let Congress know that trade with China work for us working Americans.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now from New York, David Peeler of Competitive Media Reporting.

Hello, David.


WOODRUFF: How much are these organizations spending on this issue?

PEELER: Well, Judy, this is a big-money issue with big-money players on both sides. The AFL-CIO, who is no stranger to advertising during political campaigns, has spent $1.1 million in the last month in order to oppose this bill. You see the Business Roundtable weighing in with $1.4 million. That's of a reported $4 million campaign. Both groups have a national campaign, using national cable, national print, radio, their advertising in some of the congressional districts, so this is a full-court press on both sides against this issue and for this issue.

WOODRUFF: All right, that's the China trade question. Now let's turn to another controversial topic in Washington and on the campaign trail. That, of course, is gun control.

Last week, the group Handgun Control began airing an ad criticizing George W. Bush's record on gun issues and his ties to the National Rifle Association. Handgun Control is also airing ads promoting the Million Mom March against gun violence, which is slated for Sunday here in Washington.

At the same time, the NRA is airing ads touting its own million mom effort. In its ad, a woman appeals to mothers to put politics aside and to donate $1 each to a gun safety education fund, to match a $1 million NRA donation in the name of NRA Moms.

David Peeler, how much are these two groups spending?

PEELER: Well Judy, what's interesting here is that the two different groups have very different tactics. The Handgun Control group has spent in the last week about $17,000. As you can see, they're spending it in some very obvious places -- Austin, Texas, Washington D.C., Sacramento. So what they're trying to do is they're trying to craft the message within the media and use, as we've called it, pundit advertising to get their message out.

If you move to the NRA, the NRA has got a different tactic. They have more money and they're spending the money. They're spending $265,000 to get their message to the people, and that's a different tactic than what the Handgun Control group can do.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Peeler, Competitive Media Reporting, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

And INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: This election season, for the first time, political candidates and their campaign staffs are using the Internet to reach voters, and more often political reporters are turning to high-tech means to keep their readers and viewers informed.

Our Frank Sesno took part today in a Harvard panel discussion on coverage of the primaries, including the Internet.


SESNO (voice-over): In many ways, the Internet's impact on the 2000 campaign has been limited: Direct mail still beats e-mail; donations are much more likely to come in as checks than online credit card donations. But when it comes to the way reporters cover politics, why the Internet revolution has truly arrived. The old morning paper/evening news cycle has been blown away. News is now instant, and so is the response, as we discovered in a roundtable discussion with the press secretaries from the McCain and Bradley campaigns and some of the reporters who covered them.

HOWARD OPINSKY, MCCAIN PRESS SECRETARY: What I found is because -- because you can see so much media in one sitting online -- and again, it's not just the "Salons" or the "Slates" -- it's everything -- that speeds up the whole pace of the echo chamber.

ERIC HAUSER, BRADLEY PRESS SECRETARY: One of the major differences this cycle is that everybody's online, so "The Post" -- I mean, we're out in Seattle, and you don't get The Washington Post in Seattle, the newspaper. But you get it online, and you get it, you know, at the hour of the day you need it.

SESNO: With everyone online, the competition between news outlets has never been more intense, offering sites with relatively few readers to compete with the big guns. Case in point,'s in-depth look at the history of Bob Jones University.

JAKE TAPPER, SALON.COM: That story goes up February 3rd. The hotline links to it, other political sites link to it, and by one week later the story is bigger than it was that day.

SESNO: And while the print editions of the big national newspapers may be technological dinosaurs, their Web sites most certainly are not. The Washington Post's online midday edition is up- to-date, up-to-the-minute and influential.

CECI CONNOLLY, "WASHINGTON POST": The campaigns are using those Web editions to sort of jump in the mix, so that if you put a Gore story on our Web site at noon or 1:00 p.m., I'd often very soon thereafter get a call from Eric saying, "We want to be in that Web story."

I don't think we've quite reached the point where campaigns are you things for your Web, but I expect...

HAUSER: We have.


CONNOLLY: I'm showing my age.

HAUSER: We did that. We did that. I mean, we purposely tried to get stories into the midday Web cycles.

SESNO: The press secretaries' mission: use the early online reports to anticipate problems and head them off early, before they blow up on the evening newscasts and in the morning papers. But some of our panelists saw potential danger in the self-referential, inside baseball world of Internet political reporting: that many Americans will be left out.

E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": What's not clear at all is whether all this great information we have is doing anything to improve the political dialogue to make it easier for voters to make decisions, and in a funny way, may be contributing to the "ghettoization," where politics becomes only a hobby for junkies, and then that's not democratic anymore.


SESNO: Judy, what everybody agreed with is that the Internet cycle is very much here to stay, especially in insurgent candidacies, such as Bradley's and McCain's. However -- however -- we should say that they are dependent upon especially the checks that come into them. But in the end, it didn't make much difference. The big guns won.

WOODRUFF: And Frank, did they project ahead? I mean, if it was a little bit of an impact in the year 2000, what about in 2004, in the congressional election? Did they look ahead and project?

SESNO: They see it becoming an increasing part of the pie here, and the impact both on the fund raising, the campaign organizing, but in particular on the coverage of something that all are looking to intensify: concern about the ghettoization of political coverage, but also what we call the "narrow-casting," increasingly small bits targeted to targeted audiences through these online and cable operations.

WOODRUFF: And the point that we saw a "Washington Post" reporter, columnist E.J. Dionne make about -- you call it the ghettoization -- the sort of politics only for the junkies. What does one do about that? How do you make politics accessible?

SESNO: Well, it's very difficult. I mean, I think what -- what many of them said, there was a sense that the candidates themselves have to connect, there has to be something in the message. Clearly, there has to be something in the time.

Eric Hauser of the Bradley campaign said, you know, the days of those "Big Three" networks taking gavel-to-gavel convention coverage, they're over, and so we'll have to get used to it.

WOODRUFF: All right.

SESNO: No easy answers.

WOODRUFF: And INSIDE POLITICS is over. We're glad you're with us. Frank Sesno...

SESNO: As always.

WOODRUFF: ... thanks very much.

That's it for now. I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" is next.



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