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Bush Has Gun Battle With Clinton-Gore on Eve of Million Mom March; What's in Rudy Giuliani's Political Future?Aired May 12, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Guns and politics: Before the Million Mom March, it is Bush versus Gore and Bush versus Clinton.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: What's in Rudy Giuliani's political future? The guessing and second-guessing about his personal life continues.
WOODRUFF: And find out who hit the jackpot, not in the Big Game but the political "Play of the Week."
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: Thanks for joining us.
Heading into the weekend of the Million Mom March, organizers are hoping their demonstration here in the nation's capital will make the gun control issue difficult for politicians to ignore. George W. Bush seems to be taking notice today, announcing a new Texas program designed to make guns safer and promote Bush's presidential bid as well.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate the moms marching. Like them, I'm concerned about gun violence in our society.
SHAW (voice-over): In an announcement deliberately timed to coincide with the march, Bush is offering all gun owners in Texas trigger locks free. Anyone with a gun could simply pick up a free lock at police and fire stations. The cost to the state: a million dollars a year for five years.
BUSH: It seems like to me that one of the things we ought to do is be common sensical about how we deal with gun safety. And if I become the president, I'm going to ask Congress to appropriate money for a national program to do just the same thing, which is distribute trigger locks for people to use.
SHAW: Bush said he would ask Congress for $65 million a year to make trigger locks available nationwide.
In the primaries, Bush was openly scornful of a Democratic proposal to make trigger locks mandatory.
BUSH: The question is how do we enforce it? Are we going to have trigger lock police knocking on people's door saying, show me your trigger locks?
SHAW: This morning, he was far less hostile.
BUSH: We would love to convince people to use trigger locks to make sure that our society is safer, Katie.
SHAW: The rhetorical shift was not lost on President Clinton. At a gun forum with some of the Million Mom March participants hosted by ABC's "Good Morning America," President Clinton grudgingly praised Bush's trigger lock idea but questioned his motives.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I think you have to understand what's going on here. There was a report in the newspaper last week that a lobbyist for the NRA said they would have an office in the White House if Governor Bush was elected. So he wants to move away from that image. He wants people not to think that he won't do anything -- that basically that the NRA will control policy on this, which they will if he wins.
SHAW: Mr. Clinton was referring to comments by a senior NRA official who last week said if Bush was elected the NRA could work out of his office.
BUSH: It's kind of hyperbole. There's only going to be one person in the Oval Office, and that's going to be me.
SHAW: Now let's put some of that partisan wrangling over gun control in context.
WOODRUFF: Our Jonathan Karl has been comparing the positions of Bush and Gore on this issue that is becoming increasingly prominent in the presidential race.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's the National Rifle Association's favorite presidential candidate. But as George W. Bush marches to the political center, he is portraying himself as a moderate on gun control.
BUSH: I would work to get an instant background check law out of the federal government. I think there needs to be one.
KARL: Like the NRA, Bush says the solution to gun violence is to enforce current laws, not pass new ones. But, he says, he would support some new gun restrictions, including raising the legal age for handgun possession from 18 to 21 -- a move opposed by the NRA; requiring child safety locks on new guns; and maintaining the federal ban on assault weapons. The NRA wants the ban repealed.
Gun control advocates favor those measures, but:
MIKE BARNES, HANDGUN CONTROL, INC.: If he's learning that the American people do want common-sense gun safety laws, that's great. Unfortunately, his record in Texas is just atrocious.
KARL: Although Bush now says he wants to raise the age for federal handgun possession, he never did it in Texas. The state still has no age requirement for gun possession. Instead, Bush won plaudits from the NRA for signing pro-gun measures, including a 1995 law legalizing the possession of concealed weapons. Two years later, Bush signed an amendment extending the right to carry guns into churches and amusement parks that don't ban them.
Bush also signed a law banning cities from suing gun companies without going through the state's attorney general.
BUSH: I've never been a member of the NRA. I think -- now let me -- I think Al Gore's been a member of the NRA, if I'm not mistaken.
KARL: Asked the next day where he got that information, Bush said:
BUSH: A little birdy.
KARL: The birdy may have been wrong. Nobody has produced evidence that Gore ever belonged to the NRA. But Gore, too, has a record that does not square with his current view on guns.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: I kind of shake my head at Al Gore. When he was in the U.S. Senate, he voted with the NRA on every single vote he ever cast. I mean, he used to call us up, we used to have meetings. We contributed to him.
KARL: As a representative from Tennessee, Gore consistently voted against gun restrictions, including one to require serial numbers on guns so they could be traced. Gore's aides say he was simply reflecting the views of those in his rural, conservative district.
But Gore's pro-gun positions continued after he was elected to the Senate in 1984. In 1985, he voted for the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which among other things eased restrictions on interstate gun sales.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the amendment is agreed to.
KARL: But for more than a decade, Gore has been a vocal gun control advocate, casting a tie-breaking vote on the issue in the Senate last year. And now he favors more restrictions, including mandatory photo licenses for gun purchases. Most prominent gun control advocates acknowledge that Gore is a convert to their issue, but they now consider him a true believe.
(on camera): Democrats hope to make Governor Bush pay a price for his ties to the NRA. But that may not work. In the latest CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll, a majority of likely voters say they have a favorable opinion of the NRA.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: We are joined now by U.S. Representative Caroline McCarthy of New York, a gun control advocate, and Texas state Representative Suzzana Gratia Hupp, a gun rights advocate.
I want to begin with you, Congresswoman McCarthy. As we know, your husband was killed by a man with a gun. You are speaking on Sunday at the Million Mom March. What do you all expect this march to accomplish?
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Well, what we're trying to do is get mostly people that haven't been injured by gun violence to become more active in certainly working with their legislators back home and hopefully even working with the legislators here in Congress so we can get some gun safety laws passed.
WOODRUFF: Which laws in particular?
MCCARTHY: Well, I think we should be dealing with what we have already on our plate, and that's closing the gun show loophole, passing the juvenile justice bill, mandating getting rid of large- capacity clips, and, yes, child safety locks.
WOODRUFF: Suzzana, your parents were killed in a shooting in Texas by a person, a man with a gun, in 1991.
SUZZANA GRATIA HUPP (R), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: And I was there.
WOODRUFF: And you were there. You escaped. You are the keynote speaker on Sunday at an alternative march, the Armed Informed Mothers March. Why do you not agree with those who are participating in this other event?
GRATIA HUPP: Well, I think it's very important to recognize, and for the people out here that are watching this program right now, to recognize that those folks do not represent all of the mothers of this country. I have a 4-year-old and I have a 2-year-old, and I don't ever want to be in the situation I was in with my parents with my children behind me and have absolutely no way of being able to protect myself and them.
WOODRUFF: What about the kind of gun laws that Representative McCarthy and others say are absolutely necessary if we're going to change the situation in this country?
GRATIA HUPP: Well, can you give me a specific, because she listed several and it would take me a while to pick apart each one.
GRATIA HUPP: Would you like to talk about, for instance, the child safety locks is something that we've been hearing about.
WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about that to begin with.
GRATIA HUPP: I have child safety locks on all of my guns at home. Again, I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. But six years ago, I was single, lived by myself out in the country. Why on earth should I have to pay extra money to purchase a gun for a child safety lock?
WOODRUFF: Congresswoman McCarthy?
MCCARTHY: Basically, we have seen over the years the gun owners -- and I think they should take responsibility for their guns. And we know that child safety locks work. So what we're saying is anyone who buys a gun should take those precautions so a child can't accidentally get to the gun, or if somebody broke into the house take that gun and use it against the person that's in the home.
WOODRUFF: What about, Ms. Hupp, what Ms. McCarthy is saying about the gun shows, tighter restrictions on sales of guns at gun shows?
GRATIA HUPP: I'm sorry, I've got to step back for just a second. You said that it would also keep somebody breaking in from being able to use that gun on the homeowner. Then you're also taking way the ability of the homeowner to use it to protect themselves.
MCCARTHY: No, we have found that the high incidence of guns that are in the house and not safely locked, where burglaries account, those guns are stolen and then used in crimes.
GRATIA HUPP: We could argue for quite a while on that statistically. I would argue otherwise. But your next question?
WOODRUFF: Is about the gun shows.
GRATIA HUPP: Specifically what?
WOODRUFF: Tightening up the restrictions on sales of guns at gun shows.
GRATIA HUPP: Yes, they refer to the gun show "loophole" as something large enough to drive a Mack truck through. And my concern is that if that loophole is big enough to drive a Mack truck through, then my ability to privately sell a gun to somebody down the street from me is a loophole big enough to drive the entire convoy through. So that's my biggest concern with that. It's the camel's nose under the tent.
MCCARTHY: I -- and this is where we disagree. I happen to think that even with her wanting to sell her gun privately to someone down the block, she should not be allowed to do that. I happen to think that anyone that buys a gun should be going through a background check. That's what we're doing on closing the gun show loophole. We know the majority of illegal guns that are coming out of the gun shows are the guns that are coming into our cities and into our communities. It has to be closed.
Years ago, when we were doing the assault weapons bill and the Brady bill, the NRA said that back then the reason we didn't need it was because most criminals bought their guns at gun shows. So now we're dealing with that.
WOODRUFF: What about that, Ms. Hupp?
GRATIA HUPP: Right now, we have all of these laws on the books, and they are not being enforced. They're simply not being enforced. And I know from personal experience that the only, the only thing, that those laws do is prevent people like me from being able to protect ourselves and our families. The bad guys, by very definition, ignore the law.
MCCARTHY: I'll come back at that and say this: We know that criminals will be able to get guns. But we also know that whatever we can do to certainly go through background checks and certainly work with our local police and ATF on checking where these illegal guns are from, we can cut down on the amount of illegal guns out there without infringing on anybody's right to buy a gun.
WOODRUFF: And you don't accept that?
MCCARTHY: No, ma'am, I certainly don't. One of the things that they are talking about quite a lot in this particular march that they're having is licensing and registration. And we know historically, over and over and over again, that that is merely a precursor to confiscations. And a lot of the people are saying, well, that's not we're after. And yet, I'm seeing all the mothers with a pin that has a gun with a line through it. And when you talk to them, that's exactly what they want.
WOODRUFF: Do you want to respond to that?
MCCARTHY: Yes, I have to respond to that. I am in Congress and I am sworn to uphold the constitutional law. We are not looking at any laws that are going to confiscate guns.
Again, let's talk about just the safety issue out there. We in the United States have the highest incidence, unfortunately, of children dying on a daily basis, and we also have the highest incidence of people getting killed with guns. Also, no one talks about 100,000 people being injured by guns every year, which is costing our health care system billions of dollars. We can do a better job without infringing anyone's right to own a gun.
WOODRUFF: A brief last word.
GRATIA HUPP: And with all due respect to the congresswoman, she did take an oath, an oath uphold the Constitution. And, quite frankly, what part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?
MCCARTHY: Well, I'll take exception with you. In the Supreme Court, it's already been handed down three times that when you talk about your Second Amendment rights, it is regulating to a well- regulated militia. I'm not even disputing that. I'm not even going into that. What I'm saying is we're working...
GRATIA HUPP: But you're making a statement that I disagree with.
MCCARTHY: Well, this is why this is America, so we can disagree. But again, nothing that we're doing will infringe on your rights to buy a gun.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there.
Suzzana Gratia Hupp, we thank you very much for being with us.
GRATIA HUPP: Thanks for having me.
WOODRUFF: Representative Carolyn McCarthy, thank you both.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS E.J. Dionne and Bill Kristol talk more about guns and the presidential hopefuls.
And does the Texas governor have cause for celebration? We'll check the latest poll numbers.
WOODRUFF: New polls numbers today from the American Research Group in three key presidential battleground states. In New Jersey, the survey of likely voters shows the race a virtual dead heat, with Vice President Gore at 45 percent at Governor Bush at 44 percent. In Ohio, Governor Bush is ahead by 6 points, 47 percent to 41 percent. And in Michigan, the survey has bush at 45 percent, Gore at 42 percent.
SHAW: Michigan's McComb County, made famous by the so-called Reagan Democrats, is considered a key prize in the presidential battle. Today a McComb family stepped into the limelight to claim one half of a record-breaking jackpot of $363 million. The Larry Ross family chose a lump sum payment, and will receive an estimated $61 million after taxes. A political connection to the event was not lost on Republican Governor John Engler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: I want Larry to tell everybody the name of the company. I don't want to say there's any omen or anything.
LARRY ROSS, BIG GAME WINNER: It's Bush Pools.
ENGLER: Bush Pools -- Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: When asked what party he belonged to, Ross would only say, no comment.
Joining us now E J. Dionne of "The Washington Post" and Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard."
The Million Mom March this weekend. Just before that, Texas Governor George Bush announcing that in his state, he's going to give free trigger locks to everyone. President Clinton saying today, in effect, that if Bush is elected president, the NRA would be in the driver's seat. Who's winning this argument, Gore, Bush?
BILL KRISTOL, "WEEKLY STANDARD": I think Bush is holding his own in the argument. Every poll that's been done, your own poll, shows that when asked whose gun policy do you prefer? Bush either wins narrowly or holds his own against Gore. Here in Washington, everyone thinks the whole country is for gun control, and you do a poll of the country, and the NRA, an organization I'm not particularly fond of, but the NRA has as high a favorable rating as Al Gore.
E.J. DIONNE, "WASHINGTON POST": That is a devastating number, but I think what you see on the gun issue is -- what Bush did today suggests that his campaign actually is worried about the issue. Republicans are usually reluctant to throw money at problems. Here we're throwing trigger locks at a problem. And I think that Bush has what he has from the pro-gun side, and he knows that this issue is potentially powerful in the suburbs of those states we just heard from, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, and the fact is the Gore folks will tell you they haven't really played with the gun issue at all, so a lot of people don't really know what Governor Bush's position is, except from his public statements, which have been much more sympathetic to gun control since the South Carolina primary, and I think that inconsistency that you showed on air earlier between South Carolina and now will become an issue in the campaign, too.
SHAW: How influential do you suppose the participants in the Million Mom March will be on members of Congress? Basically, the people coming here this weekend don't want the people on the Hill to forget, this is an issue, you can not run from it.
KRISTOL: With all due respect to the Million Mom March, it's really about 150,000 liberals marching, predominantly Democrats, organized by the sister in law of one of Hillary Clinton's closest advisers. They're going to turn themselves into a political organization the day after the march and advocate gun control and liberal causes, and I don't know that they reflect the nation as a whole, and I don't think they'll have much impact.
DIONNE: See, I think The interesting analogy that they are making is to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And I think the real issue here is not does this march affect a vote in Congress next week or next month? What they're trying to do is to change the discussion, generally turn this into as big an issue for a certain number of people as drunk driving became, and I think they have a shot at that. I think they are getting a response, and they've certainly been exceptionally successful in getting this argument into the news in a way it hasn't been since one of the disasters happened.
KRISTOL: That's because the news media, on this issue -- I'm not usually a big advocate of biased media argument, but on this issue, the news media is totally for gun control. It's -- the coverage has been unbelievable on this march -- 150,000 people show up in Washington, we've had front-page stories, we've been leading the television news all week on it; 150,000 pro-life marchers show up every year in Washington. It's on page C-27 of "The Washington Post."
SHAW: On this question on Bush and Gore, who is winning after two weeks of cannonading by Gore of Bush? Is it working?
DIONNE: Well, I think it's working better than what Gore was doing before, which was nothing in particular. I think Gore had a very bad run immediately after the primaries. Bush has been running on one Democratic issue after another. He talks about long-term care. He now talks about trigger locks. He talks about low-income housing, which is not a traditional Republican theme. So Bush succeeded in making himself look more moderate after primaries in which he did not look at all moderate, and I think Gore had disappeared. I think at least getting back into the debate is helping Gore. I think being on the attack for the entire campaign is not going to work. And I think that Gore could take a lesson from Bush and say that Bush is getting a fair amount of attention for these various proposals, and I think that Gore has to go positive at some point in this fuselage against Bush.
KRISTOL: The poll data has got to be discouraging for Vice President Gore, though. Bush is leading Gore among women by two points. He's leading Gore by 15 points or more among married women with children. Those moms who are marching here this Sunday, if their representative of mothers across America, they're for Bush.
DIONNE: I think the difficulty with the polls right now is when Bush has a lead, he's going to be running way ahead of Gore among men and be very close to him among women. And the real question is, I think these numbers mean about as much to the race in the end as a box score in today's paper means to the World Series in the end. If Bush has these numbers after the conventions, then Gore is in real trouble.
SHAW: We're trouble, we're running out of time, but I've got to ask you, what do you think is going to happen in the New York Senate race with all the questions on Mayor Giuliani's mind.
KRISTOL: Every Republican I talked to today thinks Giuliani will pull out of the race, probably on Monday, maybe Wednesday of next week. I'm not so sure. He's a tough guy. He may decide to fight it out.
DIONNE: I agree that Giuliani, the more pressure is, the more reluctant he would be to drop out. But you're seeing some leading Republican voices -- "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed page, guardian of conservative orthodox, two pieces by Peggy Noonan and Paul Zhigo (ph) saying he should drop out of the race. I think that reflects some other pressure.
But I agree with Bill, the more pressure, the more he might want to stay.
SHAW: We're going to watch it. E.J. Dionne, Bill Kristol, thank you.
DIONNE: Thanks, Bernie.
SHAW: And there's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POTLICS.
WOODRUFF: Still to come:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the latest offensive for a president who's now immersed in a campaign that has made strange bedfellows of the White House and some of its harshest critics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Our Kelly Wallace on the alliances formed on the issue of China's trade status.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The colored pins track the votes in Labor's war room for the China trade fight. In here, it's about right and wrong, not yes or no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: John King on why this issue is causing a rift between Labor and a usual ally.
WOODRUFF: Senator John McCain on the road and taking aim at two allies of George W. Bush
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): "Play of the Week?" No. Instead, we have one of the all-time championship political bloopers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Our Bill Schneider with a big political whoops.
WOODRUFF: We'll have more of this day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. Adam Petty, a 19-year-old member of the famous stock car racing family, is dead following a crash at the New Hampshire International Speedway. Petty suffered fatal head injuries while practicing for the qualifying race for the Busch 200. He was the son of Kyle Petty, a regular on the Winston Cup circuit, grandson of NASCAR champion Richard Petty, and the great-grandson of Lee Petty, a NASCAR pioneer.
SHAW: Six people were killed when their small twin-engine plane crashed today in Houston, Texas. An airport spokeswoman says the plane was taking off from William P. Hobby Airport when its engines stalled and it nosedived to the ground, catching fire.
The six men aboard the Beech Baron were bound for Louisiana on a fishing trip. Weather at the time was sunny and clear.
Federal investigators have begun their search for a cause.
WOODRUFF: In the West Bank, more than 20 Palestinians are wounded in continued clashes with Israeli soldiers. About 1,000 protesters took to the streets, burning tires, throwing stones, and in some cases, Molotov cocktails. The soldiers responded with the tear gas and rubber coated bullets. Today's demonstrations were another call for the release of Palestinians in Israeli jails, one of the issues facing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiators.
SHAW: Is Jesse Ventura bound for Broadway? Producer Pierre Cossette thinks Jesse the musical could be a hit. Cossette's been talking to "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff about playing the wrestler turned governor. He says he needs a really big guy who can sing, and Hasselhoff fills the bill.
When INSIDE POLITICS returns, the lobbying before a House vote on China's trade status: We're going to watch President Clinton and labor leaders in action.
WOODRUFF: President Clinton took his push for permanent normal trade relations with China on the road today. Less than two weeks before a House vote on the bill, the administration is going all out to sway undecided lawmakers, particularly members of Mr. Clinton's own party.
CNN's Kelly Wallace reports on the lobbying effort and the unusual help the White House is getting along the way.
WALLACE (voice-over): As Air Force One arrived near Akron, Ohio, protesters greeted President Clinton with a message.
PROTESTERS: No blank checks! No blank checks! No blank checks! No blank checks!
WALLACE: Their concern? That the China trade deal ignores Beijing's record on labor and human rights. But Mr. Clinton came to this industrial area with another message: that opening China's markets would boost Ohio's exports and lead to more local jobs.
CLINTON: There will be huge new markets for agriculture, new markets for automobiles, new markets for high-tech equipment. It's in every way an economic winner.
WALLACE: The next stop on Mr. Clinton's China road trip: a family farm in Minnesota, where he touted the benefits to American farmers of more business with Beijing, but also said the deal isn't only about economics.
CLINTON: It's a great deal for you now, but as much as I want to help the farmers here and the farmers home in Arkansas, so that when I go home they'll still let me come around, it's far more important to me to do the right thing by our national security.
WALLACE: It is the latest offensive for a president who's now immersed in a campaign that has made strange bedfellows of the White House and some of its harshest critics.
REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: We will prevail if we just have the courage to trust our own convictions.
WALLACE: Congressman DeLay has spent the past seven years opposing the president on nearly every move. Now he's rallying Republicans for Mr. Clinton's trade deal. So is big business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, THE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE ADVERTISEMENT)
NARRATOR: China is the world's largest marketplace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Corporations, normally more aligned with Republicans than Democrats, have launched a several-million-dollar ad campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LONNIE TAYLOR, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Lonnie Taylor. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lonnie, great to see you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: While lobbyists who represent business have fanned out on Capitol Hill.
The White House is making unusual alliances to find support. Its focus now is returning to its usual allies: Democrats. Mr. Clinton visited with one undecided Democrat, Tom Sawyer of Ohio, and with a Democrat backing the deal, David Minge of Minnesota.
REP. DAVID MINGE (D), MINNESOTA: It's not easy. Some of these are tough votes. You're not going to make everybody happy, but we have to get on with it, I believe, and make the right decision.
WALLACE (on camera): The president came here to the heartland hoping to build grassroots support. In his final year in office, he has little time to make or deliver on promises to get the votes he needs. So in the end, this fight becomes a true test of the power of this president's persuasion.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, Shakopee, Minnesota.
SHAW: In the China trade battle, the White House finds itself up against a group that Al Gore's counting on to help him in November: organized labor.
Our John King reports from Pennsylvania on union opposition to the trade bill and how it may play out politically.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The colored pins track the votes in labor's war room for the China trade fight. In here, it's about right and wrong, not yes or no.
Steelworkers President George Becker is Labor's point-man, at war with the president and vice president who are traditionally allies, warning if the White House wins, rank-and-file union members will remember come November.
GEORGE BECKER, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA: I will feel that we've been betrayed by our leaders. I will feel that way, and I think our people will feel that way too.
KING: This is why Labor is at odds with a Democratic president.
(on camera): A city once proudly defined by its steel mills is now full of abandoned railyards and rusting relics. So despite record-low unemployment and a booming national economy, the president's pitch for more trade with China rings hollow among many workers and labor leaders here.
(voice-over): Visitors to Steel Workers Headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh are instantly reminded of Labor's position, and literature distributed to union members across the country urges them to join the fight.
BECKER: We lost 336,000 manufacturing jobs in this country in 1998. We've lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs in 1999.
KING: This AFL-CIO TV ad targeted 15 undecided House members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AFL-CIO AD)
ANNOUNCER: Tell your member of Congress to keep China on probation until China earns our trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The closed Bethlehem steel mill in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley is another of Labor's monuments in the fight against the China trade deal.
Pat Toomey is the district's first-time congressman, a Republican who supports giving China permanent trade status. Ed O'Brien is a steel workers and a Democratic nominee in the battleground congressional district where Labor is testing the power of trade as a campaign issue.
ED O'BRIEN, STEELWORKER MEMBER: You've got inhumane conditions over there. You've got child labor. You've got prison labor.
KING: More support for the legislation is a sore spot in otherwise warm relations with Labor. The vice president hopes the anger fades in the five months between now and Election Day, and most Labor leaders predict it will.
STEVE ROSENTHAL, AFL-CIO NATL. POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The bottom line is when it's over, on 99 percent of the other issues, we agree with Al Gore.
KING: It's not over yet, and the final two weeks of the fight could strain relations even more.
BECKER: He doesn't have the votes. Now he's -- Clinton is fighting like hell trying to get the votes, and we're fighting like hell to try to stop it.
KING: This is one reason why. An increasingly rare sight in the United States, nearly a half million jobs in the textile and apparel industry have been lost in the past 15 years.
GAIL MEYER, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITE: We definitely want a future for the industry, for the businesses, for the workers, and feel that this particular bill, this Most Favored Nation, is going to be a nail in the coffin for us.
KING: Workers here at Debbie Sue Fashions are part of Labor's letter-writing campaign, warned by their union that more China trade could make payday a thing of the past.
John King, CNN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
WOODRUFF: Still ahead, how is John McCain showing his support for George Bush since their meeting this week? We'll have the latest on the Arizona senator's role in election 2000.
SHAW: Republican state leaders today endorsed the so-called Delaware Plan, that would let smallest states vote first in presidential primaries. The GOP Rules Committee meeting in Indianapolis voted 36-13 for the plan. Most larger states opposed it, saying it would limit their political importance and lead to a national convention floor fight that would distract from the party's effort to retake the White House. The committee postponed a decision on whether to exempt Iowa and New Hampshire and allow them to keep their first-in-the-nation status. That is to be decided at the Philadelphia convention this summer, along with a final vote on the Delaware plan.
SHAW: While some people were critical of this year's heavily front-loaded primary season, John McCain enjoyed an early surge that propelled him into the spotlight from which he has yet to fade. He was in Massachusetts today, reiterating his support of George W. Bush, but making clear that he does not approve of some of the Texas governor's supporters.
Bill Delaney reports.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Boston for a luncheon Friday, Arizona Senator John McCain repeatedly repeated what he said earlier in the week in Pittsburgh, that he now supported Texas Governor George W. Bush for president, and that he had no interest in being vice president. What did interest him, he said, would be to hear from Governor Bush, a clear repudiation of recent remarks by Pat Robertson that a McCain vice presidency, if there ever were one, would be dangerous.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I hope at some point he will agree that Mr. Robertson's remark were not only incorrect, but they were vicious, which is an affirmation as to why I repudiated his role in the Republican Party.
DELANEY: A sharp edge in the still evolving relationship of McCain and Bush.
McCain says portrayal of the Pittsburgh summit as a bit strained miss a basic aspect of his relationship with Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Are you friends?
DELANEY: Sure -- it depends, obviously on your definition. I don't know him very well. I saw him during the debates. I've met him a few times before. The meeting we had was by far the most in-depth conversation that we've had, but everything I know about him, I like him.
DELANEY: With the Million Mom March on guns, McCain took a shot at the NRA.
MCCAIN: The NRA is entitled to their advocacy. I don't think they help the Republican Party at all, but I don't think they should in any way play a major role in the Republican Party's policy making.
DELANEY: McCain praised Bush's new proposal to work toward supplying trigger locks to anyone in Texas to who wants them.
As for the controversy now swirling around New York City's mayor Rudy Giuliani, a man McCain says is a dear friend, McCain says he doesn't know whether the mayor will continue his Senate race. He hopes he can.
MCCAIN: I want him to be in the United States Senate, and I think he'd be a marvelous senator. I think he would. like me, get elected Ms. Congeniality and shake up the place.
DELANEY: As for John McCain's political future, he says he does miss the tumult of the campaign.
MCCAIN: The excitement, the incredible uplifting experience, the crowds, the young people, that's really what I miss to this day, and I'm sure I'll get over it. I'm about at step three in a 12-step recovery program.
I want Governor Bush to be president of the United States, and I've plenty of time to contemplate other options after this election is over.
I think that, given my age, that the odds are that I had my run.
DELANEY: Still with McCain's favorability rating among voters in one recent poll at 72 percent, the presidency may be something John McCain hasn't quite outrun just yet.
Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.
WOODRUFF: When we return, our Bill Schneider on the Big Apple blooper that derailed the "Political Play of the Week."
WOODRUFF: Each Friday, our Bill Schneider reviews the events of the last seven days, and he chooses one worthy of the "Political Play of the Week."
SHAW: But this week is different. Here's Bill to explain.
SCHNEIDER: People said there's no way Hillary Clinton could win the New York Senate race, but there are lots of ways Rudy Giuliani could lose it, and he seems to be trying them all: especially this week.
"Play of the Week"? No. Instead, we have one of the all-time championship political bloopers.
(voice-over): The estrangement between Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Donna Hanover has never been a secret to New Yorkers, but the mayor and his wife treated it as a private matter. And wonder of wonders, so did the press and the voters.
When the mayor announced his cancer diagnosis last month, his wife was not by his side, but the line still held: This was a private matter. The polls didn't budge. For months now, the mayor has been seen in very conspicuous public places with another woman, but the mayor did little to keep that relationship private.
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: I rely on her and she helps me a great deal, and I'm going to need her more now than maybe I did before.
SCHNEIDER: People wondered what was this doing to his wife, but she kept silent.
This week, Mayor Giuliani dropped a bombshell. He went public with a very private matter, apparently without informing his wife or even his staff.
GIULIANI: What I -- what I said is that we should try to work out a separation agreement.
SCHNEIDER: His wife could no longer keep silent. A few hours later, an angry and humiliated Donna Hanover made a public statement and an allegation.
DONNA HANOVER, WIFE OF RUDY GIULIANI: I had hoped to keep this marriage together. For several years it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member.
SCHNEIDER: For most New Yorkers, the issue is not the mayor's private behavior. It's the way he handled the matter. To hurt his wife in such a public way seems callous and insensitive. It reinforces the damaging impression that Giuliani can be an awfully mean guy to his opponents, to his critics and now to his wife.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton is following the oldest rule of politics. Never get in the way of an opponent who's in the process of destroying himself. Let him be the story.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, out of respect for the mayor and his family, I have nothing to say about that.
SCHNEIDER: To many voters, the issue isn't Giuliani's morality: It's his fairness, his judgment, his ability to manage relationships. When you raise those kinds of questions with voters, you've committed a serious political blooper.
(on camera): The mayor must decide over the weekend whether he intends to run for the Senate. He's always been a fighter. But can he fight three battles at once? A battle against cancer, a battle with his wife and a very tough battle for the Senate? -- Bernie, Judy.
SHAW: Thank you. Very pungent questions.
That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but you can go online all the time at CNN's Allpolitics.com.
WOODRUFF: And this weekend programming note: Commerce Secretary Bill Daley will be talking about China's trade status on tomorrow on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS." That's at 5:30 p.m. Eastern.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
SHAW: I'm Bernard Shaw. "WORLDVIEW" is next.
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