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Inside Politics

New York GOP Nominates Rick Lazio for U.S. Senate; Governor Bush Attacks Vice President Gore's Record on Defense

Aired May 30, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I look forward to going out there and doing everything that you expect me to do as your candidate for the United States Senate.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: With his party's nomination in hand, Rick Lazio steps up his Senate bid and his battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: On the defense issue, George W. Bush launches a post-Memorial Day attack on Al Gore.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Al Gore has long promoted the cause of environmental protection, and on this day he was rewarded for it.


WOODRUFF: Gary Tuchman on the "nature" of Gore's new endorsement.

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

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

We begin in New York State, where a short while ago Republican Rick Lazio accepted his party's nod to run against one of the most famous U.S. Senate candidates ever, a nomination he wanted for quite some time, but which became his for the asking only 11 days ago.

CNN's Frank Buckley is covering the state GOP convention in Buffalo -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rick, it is -- Rick. Bernie, it is now official: Rick Lazio is the official designee of New York's Republican Party, their designee, their choice in the New York Senate race.

Rick Lazio is still speaking right now. He's been talking on a variety of themes, emphasizing the facts that he is a native New Yorker, talking primarily about the fact and describing himself as a mainstream Republican, decrying efforts by the Clinton campaign to say that he is too right of center for New York voters.


LAZIO: I am deeply, deeply honored to accept your nomination for the United States Senate.



I am the underdog in this race. My opponent is better-financed and better-known. She comes to New York with the support of every left wing special interest, from Washington insiders to the Hollywood elite. But as I've said before, bring 'em on.


Because when it comes to representing the needs, the concerns and the values of the people of New York, I have one advantage that she will never have. I can be myself. I am a New Yorker.



BUCKLEY: We are here in Buffalo and Rick Lazio has said in campaigning up here that he planned to campaign up in the Buffalo area so much that he would be sweating Buffalo wings. And again today, before his appearance here, he was again on the campaign trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The road to victory for Rick Lazio starts right here in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BUCKLEY (voice-over): Rick Lazio was in a Buffalo restaurant this morning with supporters, continuing the nearly nonstop campaigning he's engaged in since New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the Senate race.

Yesterday, Giuliani joined Lazio on the campaign trail at a parade in Queens, the Long Island congressman sporting a fat lip after tripping and falling during an earlier parade.

LAZIO: This isn't the first time Rick Lazio got a fat lip, believe me.

BUCKLEY: New York Republicans felt like they'd been punched in the stomach when Giuliani suddenly quit, but they quickly rallied around their replacement candidate: a 42-year-old four-term congressman who they say can compete.

REP. THOMAS REYNOLDS (R), NEW YORK: I think the first lady's in trouble. Her numbers have not been good, whether it was Rudy Giuliani, whether it's Rick Lazio -- who's known very well in Long Island and beginning to get known in upstate, New York City -- or an unknown candidate. She has not been able to put the numbers on the board to show that she has got a strong position in this race.

BUCKLEY: Lazio says attempts by Hillary Clinton's campaign to define him as a Republican too right of center for New York voters will not be effective.

LAZIO: There's going to be an attempt to try and distort my mainstream record. I understand that. But I trust the people. I know you're going to look past that.

BUCKLEY: Republican state leaders say that while Lazio starts the race as the underdog, beginning his campaign a year after Mrs. Clinton began hers, he will quickly make up lost ground.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: The only foray into policy and politics that Rick's opponent had was an effort to socialize health care in this country. It was rejected. Those ideas have been rejected and they're going to be rejected on November 7th in New York as well.


BUCKLEY: Rick Lazio also appeared on stage with Governor George Pataki, a reminder to voters here that in 1994, when George Pataki ran for governor against Mario Cuomo he was also...

Bernie, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Frank Buckley reporting from New York, thanks very much.

A little later on INSIDE POLITICS, we will talk with Lazio ally and New York Governor George Pataki. But right now, we are joined by a Hillary Clinton supporter: U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York.

Representative Rangel, thank you for being with us.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Good to be back.

WOODRUFF: Tell us, first of all, is Congressman Lazio a tougher opponent for Mrs. Clinton than was Mayor Giuliani?

RANGEL: I said it before Giuliani drooped out that Lazio would be a more formidable candidate: one, because Mayor Giuliani doesn't have a clue as to what's going on in Washington, and Lazio is a legislator; and two, because the mayor really carries a lot of baggage in terms of different ethnic groups. And I think to a large extent a lot of people would have come out to vote against Giuliani, but then again, most people don't even know who Rick Lazio is. WOODRUFF: Well, where do you put him on the ideological spectrum? And clearly, part of the time he's voted with the Clinton administration. Other -- on other votes, he's voted with the Republican majority in Congress. Where does he fit?

RANGEL: Well, I tell you all this business that Rick is talking about distorting his record, that's just not going to happen. He voted with the Clinton administration when the Democrats were in the majority. But clearly, he supported the Contract with America. He voted to cut back federal funds for abortion, to cut back education money, to cut back money for the arts. And so the votes -- he voted against gun registration.

And so it's a question of whether you want a Democrat or Republican.

WOODRUFF: Is the fact that he is not well-known and able to really be a new face in this contest, isn't that going to be an advantage, though, for him?

RANGEL: I don't really think so. First of all, people have to know who he is. First, the advantage he would have, there is an anti- Hillary Clinton vote. He'll be the beneficiary of that.

But I think the first lady has shot down this carpetbagger argument, because she's been upstate, she's talked with the farmers, she understands the problem. And this is a question of who do you want to send to the Senate to be your representative.

Now, Rick may be a nice guy, but I think if you compare his ability to perform with her national and international background, in my opinion, the state would do better off by having Hillary Clinton. And we are a state that's known for our great senators.

WOODRUFF: What about the governor's comment just a short while ago, though, Congressman Rangel? He said the only public effort we know Mrs. Clinton was associated with was her attempt to socialize health care in this country.

RANGEL: Well, you know, they -- saying that, they've got to distort Rick's record, and he says bring them on. But between him talking about her left-wing interests and the governor talking about socialization of medicine, we need everybody in our country, and there are 40 to 50 million people without it. And if that's what they want to call about socialization (UNINTELLIGIBLE) believes in, let them call it.

But you know, labels are not going to make this. It's going to be talking about programs. And after you get passed housing, I don't know where Rick goes.

WOODRUFF: You expressed concern about the shape of Mrs. Clinton's campaign a few months ago. Some months have now passed by. What shape is her campaign in right now?

RANGEL: I think that was a lot of months ago. Right -- and most of my criticism was before she announced. She's made every county in New York State. She's talked with the people.

First, they came out because she was a celebrity, but when she leaves she has their support. She's doing a fantastic job all over. She's gained credibility. She knows the issues. And she's working day in and day out. And so I have said that Rick Lazio is about 10 months and $10 million short.

WOODRUFF: All right. Congressman Charles Rangel, thank you very much for being with us. We'll see you again -- Bernie.

RANGEL: Thank you.

SHAW: From a Senate race, now to the presidential race. George W. Bush pressed on today with an issue that took center stage over the Memorial Day weekend: defense policy.

As our Jonathan Karl reports from Colorado, Bush used the subject of military readiness as a weapon against Al Gore.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using America's oldest VFW post as a backdrop, George W. Bush offered his most pointed criticism yet of Al Gore's record on military issues.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent, who's no stranger to exaggeration, I might add, boasts on his Web site that he has been intimately involved in the best-managed build-down in American military history. But I want the people of Colorado and America to consider the results of seven years of the vice president's management and involvement. U.S. troops are overdeployed and underpaid and undertrained.

KARL: After more than two months of emphasis on issues that usually favor Democrats, such as education and Social Security, Bush is returning to a favorite Republican issue: national defense. Bush cited Haiti and Bosnia as examples of places where U.S. troops have been deployed too long. He said as president he would honor U.S. peacekeeping commitments around the world, but would work to reduce those commitments by getting U.S. allies to contribute more.

The Gore campaign fired back with a statement from spokesman Doug Hattaway: "Governor Bush can talk about military readiness all he wants, but he clearly isn't ready to lead the U.S. military," Hattaway said. "With all the complex international issues we face, the next leader of the free world should not be going through on-the-job training."

Over the weekend, Defense Secretary William Cohen, who has criticized Bush's call for a national missile defense system, offered Bush a briefing by the joint chiefs of staff on the issue. Today, Bush took offense to that offer.

BUSH: I've got one of the finest foreign policy teams ever assembled, and I call upon my opponent not to allow members of the administration to politicize matters of defense. We have an honest discussion, and I find the comments to be political in nature.

KARL (on camera): This week's campaign swing is also about money. Over the next three days, Bush expects to raise nearly $2 million, and perhaps more, most of it for state and national Republican committees.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Denver.


WOODRUFF: For his part, Vice President Gore today stepped away from his public sparring with Bush in order to focus on the environment and a new endorsement that may have seemed harder won than expected.

CNN's Gary Tuchman traveled with Gore to Wisconsin.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Al Gore has long promoted the cause of environmental protection, and on this day, at a campaign event in Milwaukee, he was rewarded for it.

DEB CALLAHAN, PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS: The League of Conservation Voters is proud to endorse Vice President Al Gore, because he demonstrates the leadership, the commitment and the vision we need on the environment.

TUCHMAN: It was his first endorsement from a national environmental group. And after losing the backing of another influential group, Friends of the Earth, to his one-time primary foe Bill Bradley, Gore savored the moment.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our air and water have become the cleanest in a generation, and at the same time, our economy has become the strongest in a generation, so right there you see the contradiction, the falsehood of the old charge that you have to choose one or the other. We can do both.

TUCHMAN: The vice president did not attack the environmental record of his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, during this speech, although he's done so repeatedly in the past. Instead, criticism of the governor of Texas was left to the head of the umbrella group that represents nine million environmentalists.

CALLAHAN: If Texas was an independent country, it would be the world's seventh largest generator of global-warming gases.

TUCHMAN: Gore's views on the state of the environment, particularly in his best-selling book, "Earth in the Balance," have been ridiculed by some Republicans as extreme. But Gore took the opportunity to trumpet the theme of that book once again.

GORE: I believe that God created only this one earth, and that the Earth is in the balance. TUCHMAN: Al Gore hopes he doesn't have to worry about losing the votes of environmental activists to George W. Bush, but the vice president does have to get those voters out to the polls, so he hopes this endorsement serves as an incentive.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Milwaukee.


ANNOUNCER: Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: Could third-party candidate Ralph Nader throw a wrench in the expectations for election 2000? Bernie will ask him about his candidacy.

Plus, Bill Schneider on a political approach that may help.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It worked for Jesse Ventura. It paid off for Ross Perot. Could it do the same for Ralph Nader?



WOODRUFF: Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is campaigning around the country this week from California to Illinois to Alaska. In his second presidential bid, Nader has been bolstered by the decision of the United Auto Workers Union to consider the endorsement of alternative candidates.

And Bill Schneider joins us now.

Bill, could Ralph Nader make a difference in this election?

SCHNEIDER: Offhand, it does not look like Nader will be much of a factor. Two reasons: one, Nader's message is targeted at angry voters, and there aren't a lot of angry voters out there. He's running on an anti-trade, anti-corporate resentment, and that's not a big cause right now. Two, he's running on the left. Nader criticizes Clinton and Gore as sellouts who have betrayed the progressive cause for big money. Now you might expect to see a lot of resentment of Clintonism among liberals, but look at what happened to Bill Bradley. Bradley tried to run against gore from the left, and he got exactly nowhere.

WOODRUFF: Now the assumption is that's it's how many votes Nader gets that will make the difference. Is that the case?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's also where they came from, and that's the key point. It's where he gets those votes. When Nader ran as the Green Party candidate four years ago, he got about 700,000 votes nationwide, less than 1 percent. Where did Nader do best? He got over 2 percent of the vote in states along the West Coast, where environmental sentiment is very strong -- California, Oregon, Washington, also Alaska and Hawaii, where third-party candidates often do well, plus New Mexico, which has an active Green Party, plus some liberal enclaves in the Northeast -- Vermont, Maine and the District of Columbia. Nader also did fairly well in southern New England, in New Jersey and in New York. And in the upper Midwest -- Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in a couple of fast-growing mountain states -- Colorado and Nevada. That is the liberal belt of the country -- the Northeast, the West Coast and the upper Midwest. It's now the Democratic party's base. And Nader cuts into that base. In 1996, Nader had no impact because Clinton beat Dole by such a big margin, and because Ross Perot peeled off a lot of the angry anti-trade constituency.

But this year's Gore-Bush contest looks a lot closer. In 1996, Nader was on the ballot in only 22 states, and he spent less than $5,000. This year, Nader's goal is to get on the ballot in 50 states and to raise and spend $5 million. All of that could make Nader a factor this year, particularly on the West Coast. Nader himself has said, "If Gore doesn't win California, he can not win the election."

WOODRUFF: What about beyond the left, Bill? Does Nader draw any support out there? .

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, there is that possibility. Nader has a very favorable public image, particularly among Democrats, but he also draws a pretty favorable response from independents, and he doesn't do badly with Republicans. Ralph Nader's strength is his image as a nonpolitician, as a consumer activist. He's running on a strong populist message: The abuse of power by big corporations and bigtime politicians. Pat Buchanan's running on the same message, but from the right. In fact, I'll bet that if Buchanan gets into the debates this fall as the Reform Party candidate, George W. Bush will insist that Nader be included as well. That would even things up. Buchanan takes most of his votes from Bush. Nader takes most of his votes from Gore. When Ross Perot was included in the debates in '92, his votes shot up. And debates were the key for Jesse Ventura's victory in Minnesota. You know, include nonpoliticians in the debates, and anything could happen.

WOODRUFF: Bill, Schneider, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you.

And now joining us from Los Angeles, Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Would the debates make or break you?

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. We're building a Green Party around the country. We're going to build it before November and after November. We're running 9 percent California in the polls, 7 percent in Oregon, between 5 and 6 percent nationwide, and we just started it on March 1. I've pledged to go into 50 states. I've been to 41 states, and we're campaigning with citizen groups, on the ground. Groups are fighting for environmental health, preserving homeless shelters, opposing tax funds to stadiums, while schools and clinics crumble for lack of repair. It's not a parade -- we're running with citizen groups on the ground, and that's where we're going to draw our strength, Bernie. SHAW: Right now, in how many states are you on the ballot?

NADER: About 17. We're just filing 60,000 signatures in Texas. Only 38,000 are needed. We expect to be on 40 states by the end of June, and we're going for all 50 by the end of summer.

SHAW: You are in Los Angeles for the moment. Can you deny victory in California to Al Gore?

NADER: Well, that's a negative way of putting it. I'm worried about Al Gore taking away votes from us. We're basically going to go after the two-party duopoly, essentially a corporate party with two heads wearing different makeup into, and we're going to...

SHAW: Wait a minute, you just used the word -- did you say "duopoly?"

NADER: Yes, a duopoly. In other words, these are the two parties -- Republican and Democrat are converging on more and more issues, like on environmental issues. Let's take WTO, NAFTA, oil, gas and coal industry, nuclear industry, issues that are worrying members of the board of the Sierra Club, bioengineering, motor vehicle industry. There is no difference between Gore and Bush except their rhetoric. You look at the actual record of the Clinton-Gore administration, they've broken all kinds of promises that were in Al Gore's 1992 book.

SHAW: Ralph Nader, realistically, nationwide, what percentage of the vote do you expect to get?

NADER: If I was going to predict that, I'd stop campaigning, Bernie. We're going after every vote. You should watch me talk to conservative audiences, liberal, progressive; they all feel they've lost control, in this country, over almost everything that matters to them. And they know that big business reigns almost supreme in Washington D.C. and all too many state legislatures. So it's a pro democracy vote -- public financing of public campaigns, getting the labor laws strengthened to allow workers in places like Wal-Mart to form trade unions and strengthening law enforcement on corporate crime fraud and abuse, both against tax dollars and consumers.

SHAW: Well you know, some Democratic strategists say that you will hurt Gore and help Bush. What say you?

NADER: Well, in 1996, according to Dick Morris, I took four Republican votes for every six Democrat votes, not to mention independent. Buchanan will pull votes predominantly from the Republicans, but you know, why should I worry about the two parties who I think have undermined American Democracy and kept our country short of its promise. I am -- my concern is to marshal a strong base around the country, to build a new, third progressive political party -- the Green Party.

SHAW: As you appeal to voters, what is your prime strength and your prime weakness? NADER: Well, the prime strength is 40 years of working for ordinary folk here in Washington -- stronger, safer cars, and cleaner environment, and consumer protection and advancing low-income affordable housing. And I suppose the prime weakness is that I failed to accomplish all of my goals, and that along with other citizen groups, we've been closed down in Washington by two parties who belong to big money.

SHAW: Well, we'll see you on the campaign trail, Ralph Nader.

NADER: Thank you.

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

WOODRUFF: Still to come, a closer look at Congressman-turned Senate candidate Rick Lazio.


BUCKLEY: Lazio has been running at a full sprint since he entered the race against first lady Hillary Clinton.


SHAW: Frank Buckley on Lazio's career before he stepped into the Senate race spotlight.


SHAW: The New York Senate race in the "CROSSFIRE" -- Bill Press and Mary Matalin size up the candidates, and later:


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill Clinton and Al Gore get along, work together. Ronald Reagan and George Bush got along, worked together. Sometimes, though, choosing a veep blows up in your face.


WOODRUFF: Our Bruce Morton with a few historical reminders on why choosing the right running mate is so important.


SHAW: We will have more of the day's political news coming up, but now a look at some other top stories. President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak will meet Thursday in Berlin to discuss the peace process. The president is in Lisbon, Portugal for tomorrow's U.S.-European Union Summit. Today, Mr. Clinton met with Portugal's prime minister and spent some time touring a 500-year-old monastery.

WOODRUFF: Los Angeles police asked for help in the search for a gunman who shot and killed the granddaughter of police Chief Bernard Parks. Police say 20-year-old Lori Gonzalez was killed as she left a fast food restaurant Sunday night. Her male companion was not injured.

In Florida today, funeral services were held for a teacher gunned down on the last day of school. His accused shooter could be tried as an adult.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has the latest.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some came carrying flowers, current and former students, teachers, parents and strangers, all paying their last respects to English teacher Barry Grunow.

As the teacher was being mourned, a grand jury was seated. Within the next two weeks, Palm Beach County's chief prosecutor will present evidence and ask for a first-degree murder indictment. If state attorney Barry Krischer gets what he wants, 13-year-old suspect Nathaniel Brazill would have to be tried as an adult under Florida law.

BARRY KRISCHER, PALM BEACH CO. STATE ATTY.: Quite frankly, I think we do a disservice to our youth when we make excuses for their violent behavior and try to treat it as a juvenile acting out. Murder is an adult crime just being committed by somebody in a 13-year-old's body.

CANDIOTTI: But some experts who study juvenile crime suggest prosecutors need to consider the child, not just the severity of the crime.

RITA SIMON, JUVENILE SOCIOLOGIST: In terms of all the psychological baggage that comes with the difference between being adults and children, he may not fully appreciate, understand, recognize what he has done, and I think that matters.

CANDIOTTI: Police say three days before the shooting, the honor- roll student showed off the gun he allegedly stole from his grandfather's house. But the two boys who saw the weapon didn't tell anyone until it was too late.

KRISCHER: One of the messages we need to teach our children is that telling is not tattling.

CANDIOTTI: Tonight, as a community calls for an end to gun violence, the mourning continues with a candlelight vigil for the fallen teacher, his widow and two young children.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Lake Worth, Florida.


SHAW: The remains of a man believed to be Jesse James were exhumed today in Texas. It is hoped genetic testing can resolve the debate over when the notorious outlaw died. Some contend James was buried and -- was killed and buried in Missouri. Others say he faked his death and he lived for years in Texas.

A woman who does not like meat threw a pie at Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman during his speech today at the National Nutrition Summit here in Washington. She was taken away in handcuffs and Glickman -- well, he continued with his speech.

WOODRUFF: When INSIDE POLITICS returns, we will talk with New York Governor George Pataki about his party's new Senate nominee, Rick Lazio, and the campaign to defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton.



LAZIO: Some in the opposition camp think that they have a winning strategy in repeating Newt Gingrich's name a thousand times between now and November. Well, let me share with you my winning strategy. Let the other side pursue the politics of discord and division. I will unite all of New York behind a positive vision for our great state.


WOODRUFF: Another excerpt from Rick Lazio's speech, which wrapped up just about a half hour ago, in which he excepted the New York state GOP's nomination for the U.S. Senate. Lazio portrays himself as an underdog against his Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. But since fellow Republican Rudy Giuliani left the race, Lazio has been working hard to gain ground and make up for lost time.

CNN's Frank Buckley has an inside view of Lazio and his campaign.


LAZIO: Today, I announce that I am a candidate for the United States Senate from New York.


BUCKLEY (voice-over): Rick Lazio announced his candidacy at his high school alma mater in West Islip, Long Island. The South Shore community is now part of his congressional district. A business owner here who's known Lazio for 20 years says: "What you see in the congressman is what you get."

THOMAS DICICCO, BUSINESSMAN: That he's a regular fair-haired boy, that, you know, everything he does is from the heart and he does it because he feels it's right.

BUCKLEY: Lazio is 42, married with two daughters, a four-term congressman elected in 1992 after the stunning defeat of an 18-year incumbent, Thomas Downey. Andrew Siben was Lazio's campaign chairman and remains a close adviser. ANDREW SIBEN, LAZIO ADVISER: During this next five months, you will see him on the campaign trail like no one else before you've seen. He will campaign relentlessly, morning, noon and night.

BUCKLEY: Lazio has been running at a full sprint since he entered the race against first lady Hillary Clinton, whose campaign is trying to give Lazio a political black eye.

HOWARD WOLFSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Rick Lazio has a record, but I'm not sure it's for New York. This is somebody who has voted with Newt Gingrich repeatedly, he voted to shut down the government, he voted to cut Medicare $270 billion.

BUCKLEY: Attempting to define Lazio as a Gingrich Republican, too right of center for New York voters. Republican leaders disagree.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), CHMN., NATL. REPUBLICAN SEN. CMMTE.: I looked at his voting record, it's considerably to the left of mine, and I don't consider myself a hard-right conservative, so Rick is a classic Northeastern moderate Republican.

BUCKLEY: Other observers say Lazio is conservative on some issues, moderate on others.

ELAINE POVICH, "NEWSDAY": If you look at him one way, he's a very sort of moderate Republican and kind of good on social issues for Democrats. If you look at him another way, he's a conservative Republican who has voted, for example, for prayer in public schools.

BUCKLEY: Lazio is a former county legislator, a former local prosecutor. He is chairman of a House banking subcommittee, a member of the Commerce Committee. He is a deputy majority whip.

But Lazio is not well-known outside of his congressional district, and even within it, at the Stuff-A-Bagel, for example, you can find voters who think Lazio lacks stature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think he's got the experience or the age.

BUCKLEY: Republican leaders in New York disagree.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: Now, as promised earlier, we are joined by New York Governor George Pataki, who placed Lazio's name into nomination today at the state part convention in Buffalo.

Governor Pataki, thank you for being with us.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Nice being with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Does -- let me just ask you first of all, what we just heard from that voter who was interviewed in the piece report by Frank Buckley, that he questions whether Congressman Lazio has the age or the stature to be in the United States Senate.

PATAKI: I think people are going to get to know Rick Lazio and they're going to like him very much. He is someone who has a tremendous record in the House as a prosecutor, he is a New Yorker, and they were saying the same thing, not so much about the age, but about the stature back in 1994 when I was running against Mario Cuomo.

This will be a campaign of ideas and issues. Rick Lazio's philosophy and vision is far more in tune with the vision of the people of New York state than Mrs. Clinton's.

WOODRUFF: And yet, Governor, it has been pointed out that on a number of votes blocking funds to pay for abortions for poor women, cutting funding for education in the arts. Congressman Lazio, Democrats are saying, is out of step with New Yorkers.

PATAKI: Well, sure, that is what they are going to try to do, but in fact, Congressman Lazio has an outstanding record on everything from education to the environment. And he knows New York State. When he talks about cleaning up Long Island Sound, he's been out on Long Island Sound. When he talks about improving education in New York State, he's a product of our public schools and his daughters go to New York public schools. So I think people are going to be proud of Rick Lazio as he gets to travel around the state and they hear his vision and ideas.

And he's an underdog. There's no question about it. New York is a tough state, but I believe he's going to win this race.

WOODRUFF: What is his position on abortion, governor?

PATAKI: He's pro-choice, as I am, and I think that's consistent with what a majority of New Yorkers believe.

WOODRUFF: And the votes, how do you explain the votes to cut government funding for poor women seeking abortions?

PATAKI: I think -- I mean, I think Congressman Lazio is going to have a very, very easy time in letting people learn about his record. And my only concern is that people will pick one vote and try to distort it.

But if you take a look at his record on the environment, on health care issues, on what he's done for the disabled, on his commitment to education, I think people are going to say that Rick Lazio has been an outstanding member of Congress for all the people of New York State.

And he's has gotten returned overwhelmingly because people like him, and they like his ideas and they like his vision. And I think if you compare his record with Mrs. Clinton's effort to socialize the health care industry in New York, in America, people are going to say that he's a mainstream New Yorker, she's not. And I believe he has an excellent chance to win this race.

WOODRUFF: I believe it was you who was quoted in the Frank Buckley piece as saying this should not be a campaign of discord and division. And yet isn't there as much criticism coming from the Republicans in this contest so far as there is from the Democrats?

PATAKI: Well, you had a clip earlier in this segment, Judy, about the Democrats trying to just raise bugaboos, and not talk about ideas, not talk about issues, just try to portray Congressman Lazio as something that he's not. And I'm concerned that that has been the Clinton tactics in Washington and will now be in New York State.

But I think what you heard this afternoon from Rick Lazio is a positive vision. He talked about a great many issues and his view on those issues. As the people hear that, they're going to like what he has to say. They're going to agree with what he has to say. He is, after all, a New Yorker who understands this state, and I believe he's going to win it.

WOODRUFF: All right, Governor George -- Governor George Pataki, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

PATAKI: Thank you, Judy. Good being on with you again.


SHAW: And when we return, vice presidential politics: Bruce Morton's continuing look at choosing the right running mate.


SHAW: For the next few weeks, Al Gore and George W. Bush will be considering lists of possible vice presidential running mates.

WOODRUFF: As they do, our Bruce Morton offers a word of warning from the pages of his "Campaign Journal."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Vice President Al Gore.



MORTON (voice-over): Bill Clinton and Al Gore get along, work together. Ronald Reagan and George Bush got along, worked together. Sometimes, though, choosing a veep blows up in your face.

SEN. GEORGE MCGOVERN (D-SD), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Come home, America. Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream.

MORTON: In 1972, it was 3:00 a.m. before Democratic nominee George McGovern got to make his acceptance speech. Running mate? After exhausted hours, McGovern told his staff, "It's Eagleton; I know him from the Senate." So much for background checks. McGovern didn't know that Missouri's Tom Eagleton had suffered from depression, had been given electric shock treatments. The news broke; McGovern at first said, "I'm 1,000 percent for Tom Eagleton," but eventually dropped him from the ticket.

Then all kinds of people declined to join the ticket until a Kennedy in-law, Sargent Shriver, finally said yes.

McGovern carried one state.

He'd have lost to Richard Nixon anyway. People thought he was too left-wing. But the veep flap didn't help.


REP. GERALDINE FERRARO (D-NY), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.



MORTON: In 1984, Walter Mondale picked a woman, Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York. She did well toe-to-toe with Ronald Reagan's vice president, but her campaign got bogged down in endless charges about her husband's business and business associates.


FERRARO: I have no business dealings with him. He is really more a business associate of my husband's. He's a partner with my husband on several -- several things I've found out recently.


MORTON: It didn't help Mondale, running hard, uphill, against The Gipper.

Did Reagan seem tired at the first debate? Not at the second one.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.




MORTON: Mondale wouldn't have won either. It was morning in America, Reagan's ads kept saying. But again, the veep flap didn't help.

And then, in 1988, George Bush chose Dan Quayle. Critics yelled: "Lightweight, joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam."

Remember his debate with Michael Dukakis' running mate, Lloyd Bentsen? Quayle suggested he had about the same amount of experience John Kennedy had when he ran.


SEN. LLOYD BENTSEN (D-TX), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.

Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.



MORTON: Did Quayle hurt Bush?

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think it did raise questions. I think it did undermine Bush somewhat. Now, he won, of course, anyway, because in that campaign Dukakis was especially ineffective.

MORTON: What you want, at a minimum, is a running mate who won't hurt you. That's not always as easy as you'd think.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And just ahead, what can Empire State voters expect in the coming months? Well, we're going to ask Bill Press and Mary Matalin for their views on the New York Senate race.


SHAW: And joining us now, Bill Press, Mary Matalin of CNN's "CROSSFIRE."

It's official, the Republicans have a Senate candidate, Republican Congressman Rick Lazio of New York going against Mrs. Clinton.

What stands out right now, Mary?

MARY MATALIN, CO-HOST, CNN "CROSSFIRE": What stands out are two things, one, that he came from 14 points behind to a dead heat in a week, in under a week, and that he is winning in the suburbs, he's winning independents, he's winning in all the demographic groups.

What stands out secondly is the confusion in the Clinton campaign, they have been doing nothing but attacking him, trying to distort his record, trying to suggest that he's a kind of -- has a voting record that he doesn't, and he -- they can't -- that is a Catch-22 strategy for them, because it re-enforces Hillary Clinton's worst negatives that she is negative and she has had high negatives, she has never broken 45 percent. So they don't know how to go after a guy who is a real New Yorker, who has a very moderate record for New York.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST, CNN "CROSSFIRE": I might point out that Hillary Clinton is ahead by 32 points in New York City. She has to do a lot better in the suburbs and upstate, but she -- it's a dead heat. Rick Lazio has certainly had an outstanding 10 days, Bernie, no doubt about it, and I think he's a great candidate for New York state. I said last fall, they were making -- the Republicans were making a mistake in forcing him out and going with Giuliani. Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it, right?

But he's a better, I believe, a better candidate, a stronger candidate. This is going to be a better race. I think where the Republicans are making a mistake from the beginning, and you just heard a little bit of it, is all I hear -- and I just heard Pataki -- Governor Pataki say the same thing -- they keep saying she is not -- he is a New Yorker, he is a New Yorker, he is a New Yorker.

Listen, that Johnny One-Note is not going to win this race. The attacks on Hillary Clinton as being extreme left wing, the anti- Clintonites are there but there are not enough of them to get him elected to the Senate. So I think they better come up with a better strategy and start talking about issues.

MATALIN: They are talking about issues, he is talking about issues, not one person has called her an extreme left winger. I am telling you....

PRESS: No, no, no, I'm sorry, Mary, I could quote you several times where Rick Lazio has.

MATALIN: I am telling you this issue -- he has -- here's what Lazio...

PRESS: Lazio has.

MATALIN: ... has said, Lazio has said, she is no more a new Democrat than she is a New Yorker. I want to law school in New York, there is something about being a New Yorker. She reads her speeches, people read their attack points him. He knows what he is talking about, he grew up on Long Island, he is Italian Catholic, his wife is Irish Catholic. He is a perfect New Yorker, he epitomizes New York, he has been in public service in New York this whole time. She has moved there to a house she doesn't even have furnished yet.

PRESS: If Lazio sticks on that theme between now and November, he is going to lose. Bernie, it's the issues that are going to count. You know, 40 percent of New Yorkers are Democrats who will vote for any Democrat, 30 percent are Republicans who would vote for Mickey Mouse against Hillary Clinton. It's that 30 percent -- and they're going to be looking -- and here's where I think Lazio has got some problems, let's get specific: on gun control, where he's against the licensing of hand guns; on voting against the arts; voting to shut down the Department of Education; voting against the Patients' Bill of Rights; and on choice, voting for the Hyde amendment. You can't go around and pretend you are pro-choice when you vote to deny funding for abortions to poor people.

MATALIN: This is what I mean about distorting his record. He does oppose tax-subsidized abortions, but he also opposes partial- birth abortion, which the AMA has said is medically necessary, and Senator Moynihan, the mentor to Hillary, has said it's infanticide.

We'd love to see this race, Hillary defending her support for partial-birth. He has consistently voted to increase education, he has voted for a Patients' Bill of Rights that -- but not the lawyers bill to -- right to bill. See what they keep distorting his record. Go ahead, keep it up.

PRESS: I would just like to point out that Mary did the same thing Governor Pataki did to Judy just a few minutes ago. When you mention the Hyde amendment, they immediately change the topic. The issue is not partial-birth, the issue is the Hyde amendment. The issue is, is Roe versus Wade and the right to have an abortion going to be restricted in this country to rich women who can afford it?

MATALIN: That is nonsense.

PRESS: That is what the Hyde amendment says and he voted for it.

MATALIN: That is nonsense.

PRESS: Defend his vote, he can't

SHAW: Quick question.

MATALIN: Nonsense.

Defend partial-birth, defend her support for infanticide.

PRESS: No, no, no, let's stick with...

MATALIN: That is what people care about. Not this nonsense you are...


SHAW: Quick question.

PRESS: You can't defend the Hyde amendment, that is why he won't do it. Bernie, go ahead.

MATALIN: Sure, I can, but you're going to distort his votes anyway.

PRESS: Go ahead. SHAW: In the few seconds remaining, on what do you think this race will turn, Mary?

MATALIN: It's going to turn on who can connect better with New Yorkers. She is a very methodical work-a-day candidate, but she's not a New Yorker, she can't connect. She doesn't know their concerns. She hasn't lived there, she hasn't served them; he has.

PRESS: They elected James Buckley, they elected Bobby Kennedy for the same reason they will elect Hillary Clinton, because the people of New York will look at the issues and look at the ability to deliver. That is what is going to make the difference: Who is best in tune with the people of New York on the issues and whom do they think can best deliver for the people of New York.

SHAW: Bong.

PRESS: Bong.


SHAW: Our time is up.

MATALIN: Lazio, Lazio, that would be Lazio.

SHAW: Mary Matalin, Bill Press, thanks very much.

PRESS: Thank you.

SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. "WORLDVIEW" coming up next.



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